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Bengals re-sign Mike Nugent

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Mike Nugent will remain the Bengals’ kicker.

Nugent, who was slated to become an unrestricted free agent on Tuesday, has re-signed with Cincinnati, according to the team’s website.

Last season Nugent made 19 of his 23 field goal attempts, with a long of 55 yards, and had 21 touchbacks on 65 kickoffs. Nugent ended the season on injured reserve with a calf injury, and Josh Brown kicked very well in Nugent’s absence. That led to some talk that the Bengals would let Nugent walk and bring back Brown as their kicker in 2013.

But instead it’s Brown who will walk, and Nugent who will kick for the Bengals this season.

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Reggie Wayne expected to miss a game or two with elbow

Reggie Wayne, Jayson DiManche AP

Apparently, the “adult beverage” wasn’t enough to take the edge off Reggie Wayne’s elbow.

According to Mike Chappell of RTV6 in Indianapolis, the Colts wide receiver is expected to miss a game or two because of an elbow injury suffered early in Sunday’s win over the Bengals.

He fell after a play, bracing himself with his left arm as he fell. He had an MRI yesterday, but no results were announced.

Wayne suggested he wasn’t that concerned after the game.

“I’m good now,” he said. “I just kind of fell on it, fell on my arm. Go home, have an adult beverage and see how it feels in the morning.”

The veteran receiver’s numbers have been down in recent weeks (eight catches for 50 yards the last two games), but he was playing well prior to that (14 for 196 against the Titans and Ravens), an impressive comeback for a 35-year-old who tore his ACL last year.

But if he’s not back for Sunday’s game at Pittsburgh, Hakeem Nicks will have to take on a bigger role.

 

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Broncos elevate Kapri Bibbs from practice squad

Kapri Bibbs, Caesar Rayford AP

The Broncos won’t have running back Montee Ball back for Thursday’s game against the Chargers and their backfield will have a different look than it has in the past two games without Ball.

Denver signed running back Kapri Bibbs off of their practice squad and he’ll join Ronnie Hillman, Jawan Thompson and C.J. Anderson at the position. Linebacker Shaquil Barrett was waived to make room for Bibbs on the active roster.

Bibbs signed with the Broncos as an undrafted free agent in the offseason and ran for 84 yards and three touchdowns on 19 preseason carries. Bibbs played his college ball at nearby Colorado State, where he ran for 30 touchdowns in 2013. Ball and Barry Sanders are the only other players to pull off that feat at the highest level of NCAA football.

That scoring touch may have caught the eye of other teams and led the Broncos to promote Bibbs before someone could sign him away. Mike Klis of the Denver Post reports that other teams had expressed interest in doing just that.

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Kyle Long says he shouldn’t blame fans, blames media instead

Matt Forte, Kyle Long AP

Given some time to stretch, Bears guard Kyle Long was able to reach all the way up to take the foot out of his mouth.

After blaming Bears fans (Yep, it was their fault) in the aftermath of Sunday’s loss to the Dolphins, Long came back Monday and told WXRT-FM that “it was wrong for me to point fingers at the fans.”

“I just think [reporters] had asked everybody in the locker room how they felt about [fans booing], and a lot of the guys didn’t take the bait,” Long said, via Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. “Obviously emotions are running high after a game. Obviously if we were giving them something to cheer about there would be a lot more cheers coming off the field at halftime. Hopefully the score would be a little bit closer as well.

That falls on our shoulders. It’s unfair to put it on the fans. There was a lot of frustration after the game. You work hard all week. You’re trying to string some wins together. You’re at home. You feel like you’re riding some momentum, and to be down 14-0 going into the half, it’s tough. It’s tough on everybody.”

So it’s not solely the fans’ fault. The media is partly to blame too. They must get tired, what with making concussion symptoms linger and now this.

At least Long realized that antagonizing the paying customers wasn’t the right call for a 3-4 team that’s slipping out of contention for the NFC North title.

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Bucs expected to sign Trindon Holliday

Trindon Holliday AP

The Buccaneers worked out kick returner Trindon Holliday on Monday and things appear to have gone well.

Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the team plans to sign the veteran returner to their 53-man roster. Holliday signed with the Giants in the offseason, but he came down with a hamstring injury in the summer and landed on injured reserve. The Giants released Holliday from injured reserve earlier this month, leaving him free to sign anywhere.

Holliday scored four times for the Broncos over the last two seasons — twice on kickoff returns and twice on punt returns — but also fumbled 10 times, which makes him pretty much the definition of a boom or bust return option. The Bucs will naturally be hoping for more boom, especially with Holliday offering nothing but return work to his team.

There’s no word on a corresponding move, but it’s probably not great news for current Bucs returner Solomon Patton that the team is looking for a new player at his position.

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NFL begins to take temperature of L.A. market

LA AP

Amid plenty of reports and rumors and speculation about the looming relocation of the Rams, Raiders, or Chargers to Los Angeles, the NFL has begun actively exploring what folks in L.A. want from a new stadium.

According to Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times, the NFL will launch a formal assessment of the market.  Specifically, questionnaires will be sent via email to roughly 2,000 potential customers.  The goal will be to gauge the overall demand for an NFL team, along with the expectations regarding stadium, seating, and stadium amenities.

While the potential return of the NFL has been discussed ever since the Raiders and Rams left 20 years ago, Farmer reports that this is the first time since the 1990s that the NFL has comprehensively surveyed citizens in the L.A. market.

Farmer explains that the survey targets folks likely to buy luxury suites, club seats, and season tickets.  One of the best arguments in favor of a return to L.A. comes from the size of the market.  The more people there are, the more likely it is that enough people will buy all of the tickets and club seats and suites on a regular basis.

It makes sense to do some work to confirm that, since it would be embarrassing, to say the least, if the NFL’s return is met with fans disguised as plastic chairs sans butts in them.

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Jason Pierre-Paul: Don’t count us out yet

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The Giants have lost their last two games in fairly convincing fashion, but that’s not shaking defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul’s confidence in what the team can achieve this season.

Pierre-Paul has looked at the Giants’ schedule — they host the Colts, travel to Seattle and then return home for the 49ers and Cowboys — when they return from this week’s bye and thinks the team can handle whatever those teams and the others still to come will throw their way.

“Let’s win all nine games. I think we can do it,” Pierre-Paul said, via the New York Daily News. “We just have to believe. There’s a lot of football to be played. Don’t count us out yet.”

A nine-game winning streak probably isn’t in the cards, even with Pierre-Paul playing at a level similar to his 2011 breakout season, but it is hard to know just what the Giants will do over the second half. They were abysmal to open the year, but then looked like they were rounding into form during a three-game winning streak before taking backward steps the last two weeks. If they can iron some things out during the bye week and get back to the way they were playing during the winning streak, being in contention down the stretch doesn’t feel like a major stretch.

Those next four games are tough, though, and it’s not any more of a stretch to think they’ll remain a work in progress until it’s too late to find a path into the playoffs.

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A.J. Green says his status is still “up in the air”

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Last week, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis described the status of A.J. Green as “up in the air.”  While Lewis expressed more optimism on Monday, Green has repeated the same assessment provided previously by Lewis.

“It’s still up in the air,” Green told NFL Network on Tuesday morning, “but it definitely feels better.  We’ll see about this week.”

One thing we won’t see is a fully healthy A.J. Green until 2015, at the earliest.

“It’s probably not gonna be 100 percent, but I hope it’s just manageable,” Green said.  “I can get through the season and play at a high level.”

So what about this weekend, against the Ravens?

“I hope so, man.  It’s still up in the air, and we’ll see,” Green said.

The Bengals need him.  After starting 3-0, the Bengals are 0-2-1.

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Sean Payton: Drew Brees is the least of our worries

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Saints quarterback Drew Brees said that he felt like he let the team down last Sunday when he threw a late interception that wound up setting the Lions up for their game-winning score.

It was part of a rough fourth quarter overall for Brees, who completed only three of the 14 passes he tried in the final 15 minutes of a game that the Saints led by 13 points before losing 24-23. When it comes to preparing for future opponents, though, coach Sean Payton’s concerns will be about other spots on the roster.

“I just finished talking with him, obviously he would want to have the one interception back,” Payton said, via the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “But I felt like his decision making, rhythm — I felt like his week of preparation and how he played all during practice week was outstanding. He is going to be just fine. He is the least of our worries.”

Brees has thrown seven interceptions this year which amounts to 2.7 percent of his passes. That’s up from last year, but it is in line with career norms and not surprising given the need to throw a lot in order to keep up with the points being given up by the defense.

The Saints are scoring 25.8 points per game, which is essentially the same as what they scored while making the playoffs last season. They allowed 19 points per game in 2013, a number that has skyrocketed to 27.5 points per game this year. If you’re listing worries about the Saints, defensive ones are going to take up most of the top spots on the list.

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NFL may have two different personal conduct policies

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As the dust settles on Week Seven, the NFL still would like us to pardon its dust regarding the remodeling of the personal conduct policy.

Peter King of TheMMQB.com explained on Monday that, in the end, the NFL may have two different personal conduct policies:  One for players and one for everyone else.  King cites the reality that it make take longer to finalize the policy that applies to players.  That’s because the players, unlike everyone else in the league (except for game officials), are represented by a union.  Through the union, the players have collective bargaining rights, which the players are attempting to utilize as the conduct policy is revised.

King also says reports the non-player conduct policy would allow the league to place employees on paid administrative leave, in the event of “serious crimes.”  Of course, that’s what the league ultimately did with Vikings running back Adrian Peterson and Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy, and it’s surely what the league would like to be able to automatically do with all players accused of “serious crimes” going forward.

For players, however, the game is more than simply getting paid.  Peterson’s pursuit of the all-time rushing record, for example, has been derailed.  As to Hardy, who’ll surely be a free agent in March, he’s had his ability to showcase his talents in advance of March 2015 short-circuited.

Perhaps more importantly, keeping players away from work pending the resolution of criminal charges gives prosecutors more leverage, generally.  The Peterson case demonstrates the value of delay; while Peterson still has his freedom, he lacks the freedom to play football.  And that’s still a form of real punishment, regardless of whether the game checks are still being deposited in a bank account large enough to barely notice them.

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Tuesday morning one-liners

T.Y. Hilton, Dwayne Allen AP

The Bills will get a chance to see if their trade for RB Bryce Brown paid off.

The Dolphins have sowed optimism and distrust with their performances thus far.

DT Vince Wilfork continues to play a crucial role in the team’s defense.

LB Quinton Coples is expected to start for the Jets this week after his playing time dropped in Week Seven.

Ravens CB Lardarius Webb played every snap in last Sunday’s win.

Ten things that led to the Bengals losing 27-0 to the Colts.

C Alex Mack’s injury created a new challenge for the Browns offense.

Rookie WR Martavis Bryant sparked the Steelers’ deep passing game.

Said Texans QB Ryan Fitzpatrick of the team blowing a lead on Monday night, “It was miserable and just a terrible, terrible display of offensive football by us.”

Colts TE Dwayne Allen has continued to show improvement this season.

The Jaguars are losing a lot with LB Paul Posluszny out for the rest of the season.

Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt was happy with S Michael Griffin’s ability to bounce back from mistakes against the Redskins.

Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware have sparked the Broncos defense.

The Chiefs offense showed progress late in the win over the Chargers.

The Raiders are now using QB Matt Schaub as their holder.

Chargers LB Dwight Freeney will get his chance to sack Peyton Manning this week.

An efficient performance last Sunday has led to praise for Cowboys QB Tony Romo.

The talent on hand might not be enough to fix the Giants’ problems at the point of attack.

The Eagles are hopeful that LB Mychal Kendricks can return this week.

QB Colt McCoy got in a little hunting practice at Redskins headquarters.

Has the league figured out the Bears offense?

Lions coach Jim Caldwell likes his team’s fighting spirit.

The Packers broke a lot of tackles for the Panthers.

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer lamented not calling a timeout before the Bills converted a 4th-and-20 on the way to their winning touchdown.

The Falcons haven’t found a way to consistently protect QB Matt Ryan.

The Panthers defense isn’t doing too much swarming these days.

Wednesday’s injury report should be a long one for the Saints.

The Buccaneers are feeling refreshed after their bye.

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians says his team is mostly healthy heading into Week Eight.

Last Sunday’s trickery fit right into Rams coach Jeff Fisher’s history.

Marcus Martin is the next man up at center for the 49ers.

It looks like the Seahawks will get CB Byron Maxwell back in the secondary.

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Jerry Jones loves coach Jason Garrett, but doesn’t want to talk contract yet

New York Giants v Dallas Cowboys Getty Images

Of all the potential free agents who bet on themselves going into a free agent year without a new deal, perhaps none have done better for themselves than Jason Garrett.

In the final year of his contract, the Cowboys head coach has his team off to a 6-1 start, which has everyone excited.

I don’t know that anybody has had a better, brighter vision of Jason’s future than I do,” owner Jerry Jones said, via Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I’ve always thought he had the potential to be a serious, consistent, winning coach in the NFL and still think that. … I’m just glad to see him have this kind of success.

“His players hang on every word, and they’re seeing what he’s preaching works. That’s an ideal set of circumstances for a coach that is looking for a big future in the NFL.”

Of course, Jones had less to say when asked about the specifics of a new deal for Garrett, noting the bulk of free agent deals coming upi including Dez Bryant, DeMarco Murray and more.

“I’m just not going to talk about it,” Jones said of a new deal for Garrett. “We’ve got so many contracts that we’re supposed to be needing to be talking about, now that things are going good. I’m not even going to begin to start anywhere. I’m just going to squat.

“I’ve got a lifetime of when it’s too much, just sit down and think about it.”

Garrett didn’t have much to add on the topic either.

“If you just keep trying to do things the right way, the results on the scoreboard will hopefully take care of itself,” he said. “And that’s just the way I think. That’s the way we try to help this team.”

“That was the last answer I’m going to have about my contract.”

At some point, it’s going to have to come up, unless they manage to go 8-8 again, in which case it might not.

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Rivera disagrees with Kuechly ejection, potential fine

Kuechly AP

Sunday’s blowout loss to the Packers included an early exit for linebacker Luke Kuechly, who inadvertently made contact with a game official.  Coach Ron Rivera doesn’t accept the decision, or the explanation that he received for the move.

I disagreed with it,” Rivera said Monday, via David Newton of ESPN.com.  “I disagreed with the explanation I was given.  I looked at the tape and I felt the tape agreed with what I felt.”

The league’s position is that officials should be protected from all physical contact, including but not limited to punching, pushing, shoving, grabbing, or other intimidating or interfering contact — and that any offenses against officials are strictly prohibited.

“To tell you the truth, I didn’t know who was grabbing me,” Kuechly said Sunday regarding the incident that got him ejected, via Newton.  “I was trying to get out of there a little bit. You’ve just got to stay calm in those situations and just walk away and let it take care of itself.”

The situation took care of itself with Kuechly taking an early trip to the locker room.  The next question is whether the NFL will take money out of Kuechly’s future pay.

“No,” Rivera said Monday regarding whether Kuechly should be fined. “Not at all. Zero chance.”

But since the NFL believes the ejection was proper because even inadvertent contact is prohibited, a fine would seem to be appropriate under that same reasoning.  Kuechly will get a preliminary answer on that point — subject to appeal — later this week.

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Hue Jackson says getting shut out falls on him

Hue Jackson, Andy Dalton AP

The Bengals gained 135 yards on offense against the Colts last Sunday, the franchise’s lowest total in a game contested by the first string since the perfect storm that pitted a Bengals team quarterbacked by Akili Smith against the 2000 Ravens defense.

When you’re in the same sentence as that kind of futility, things have gone very wrong. Offensive coordinator Hue Jackson said Monday that the blame for the offense’s inability to block, run or throw in the 27-0 loss should fall on his shoulders.

“All those things you just mentioned falls at my responsibility, making sure that we’re on top of everything, and honestly I don’t think I did a very good job of that,” Jackson said, via Paul Dehner of the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Jackson said that the offensive showing was not “who we are,” but Dehner points out that the losing effort was both extreme and in line with other performances this season. The offense has sparkled in games against poor defenses from Tennessee and Carolina, but they settled for field goals for much of the day against the Ravens and did almost nothing on offense against the Patriots until the game was out of hand.

The Ravens, Patriots and Colts are the best defenses that Cincinnati has faced this season, so it appears that part of who the Bengals are is a team that has a hard time getting in the end zone against good defenses. Plenty of teams are in that group, of course, but recent playoff memories don’t provide much solace about the offense’s ability to step it up against the toughest opposition.

A strong outing against Baltimore in Week Eight would provide some contrary evidence for a team trying to win for the first time since September.

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Lovie Smith: We’re not shopping any of our players

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v New Orleans Saints Getty Images

The trade deadline is a week away and the Percy Harvin deal has led to some wondering about what other deals might be struck between NFL teams this week.

One name that’s been brought up as a possibility is Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson. Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reported over the weekend that the Bucs are getting “a ton” of calls about trading Jackson and that the team is “open to anything” although they are fond of Jackson as a player.

Bucs coach Lovie Smith was asked about that report during his Monday press conference and didn’t rule anything out. He did say the team wasn’t actively trying to move Jackson or anyone else on the team, however, and told reporters that the team’s roster now was likely to be their roster next week as well.

“We like our football team that we’re going with, that we have here right now,” Smith said, via the Tampa Bay Times. “We’re not trying to shop any of our players, to answer any questions out there. And it’s people — if they call about some of their players, we take all calls. We don’t (say), ‘Oh, this area code? We’re not going to take this call.’ We listen to what everybody has to say, and we go from there. You see who’s on our roster today. I would just kind of go with that.”

Jackson has played well for the Bucs, but he’s pricey and older than 2014 first-round pick Mike Evans on a team that appears to need more remodeling before they’re going to be a contender. Closing the door to someone offering you a return that can help in that process would make little sense, even if you feel it is unlikely anyone is going to hit the price you’ve set as an acceptable offer.

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Lions apparently in the mix for Australian rugby star

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The Lions are in England today, but it seems they’re looking to Australia for the future.

Via the Detroit Free Press, Lions coach Jim Caldwell didn’t dispel a link between his team and Australian rugby star Jarryd Hayne.

I can’t tell you much about that,” Caldwell said. “I mean, I know who he is, obviously, but I don’t know what I’m supposed to tell you. I have no knowledge of it in that regard.

“To be honest with you, it could be. It could be a personnel issue, but I’m not aware of it. Besides that, our focus is pretty narrow this time of the year, so getting out of that realm, it’s hard to do. But it could happen.

“Obviously, there are a lot of good athletes around this country, and there are a bunch of them playing other sports, you know, basketball, baseball, rugby, which is similar to our sport, and there is a lot of carryover. So, we’ll see.”

Hayne is one of the top players in Australian rugby, and Lions running back Reggie Bush told a television interviewer there he could play in the NFL. Sydney’s Daily Telegraph reported the Lions are one of six teams interested in him.

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