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Bills’ Mt. Rushmore could get crowded

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Only one team made it to four straight Super Bowls.  But, like every team, the Buffalo Bills are limited to four heads on their version of Mt. Rushmore.

So nominate the best of the Bills below.

And we realize it won’t be easy.  Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, Andre Reed, Bruce Smith, Cornelius Bennett, Darryl Talley, Steve Tasker, etc.

Before we can allow you to vote on four finalists, we need to come up with a dozen nominees.  Help us get there.

And, please, Giants fans.  Don’t nominate Scott Norwood.

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Seahawks give Cliff Avril $28.5 million extension

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Having a starting quarterback — much less a star — on a cheap rookie contract gives a team incredible flexibility to keep other good parts around him.

The Seahawks used that Friday.

According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the Seahawks have signed defensive end Cliff Avril to a new four-year extension, worth $28.5 million with $16 million guaranteed.

Avril landed in Seattle two years ago after turning down a three-year, $30 million offer from the Lions, so this helps take some of the sting out.

The 28-year-old Avril is still a productive pass-rusher for the Seahawks, who have a window to get some guys under contract before the inevitable deal for quarterback Russell Wilson (and with the cash bump created by trading Percy Harvin).

Linebacker K.J. Wright also cashed in yesterday, as the Seahawks continue to build around the side of the ball that won them a Super Bowl.

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T.Y. Hilton, Reggie Wayne not spotted at practice Friday

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The Colts’ top two pass catchers weren’t spotted at the outset of Friday’s practice.

T.Y. Hilton (ankle) and Reggie Wayne (undisclosed) weren’t on the field for the club’s final major workout before Sunday’s game at Dallas, according to Mike Wells of

Hilton did not practice on Wednesday or Thursday. One of the AFC’s top field-stretching threats, Hilton leads the Colts in catches (82) and receiving yards (1,345).

Wayne (59 catches, 665 yards) was not on the injury report on Wednesday or Thursday, but he has dealt with some ailments, and he has also sat out multiple practices simply to rest this season.

Rookie Donte Moncrief and veteran Hakeem Nicks would be next in line for more reps if Hilton and/or Wayne were out or limited against the Cowboys.

The Colts (10-4) have clinched the AFC South. They still have a shot at a first-round bye, but they are a game behind Denver and New England (11-3) and lose head-to-head tiebreakers with both.

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Julio Jones not seen practicing on Friday

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The status of the Falcons’ go-to receiver for Sunday’s pivotal game at New Orleans seems in doubt.

Per Vaughn McClure of, wide receiver Julio Jones (hip) was not practicing at the outset of Friday’s workout.

The 25-year-old Jones has not played since suffering his injury in the midst of a 11-catch, 259-yard performance at Green Bay on December 8. He didn’t practice on Wednesday or Thursday as Atlanta began its prep for division-leading New Orleans (6-8).

The Falcons (5-9) are one game out of first place in the NFC South. They will capture the division title if they defeat the Saints and Panthers in the final two weeks.

If Jones is out, Harry Douglas will step into his role opposite Roddy White.

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PFT Live: Chargers talk with Kevin Acee, PFT Planet calls and tweets

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Week 16 kicked off with a matchup between 2-12 teams on Thursday night, but things will pick up in the next couple of days as the NFL takes over Saturday and Sunday for your viewing pleasure this week.

Saturday brings a pair of games, including a matchup between the Chargers and 49ers in the evening. Kevin Acee of U-T San Diego will join Mike Florio to discuss quarterback Philip Rivers’s physical condition after missing practice time this week with chest and back injuries and what impact those injuries will have on San Diego’s chances of continuing their playoff push.

As we do most Fridays, we’ll also be looking ahead to the weekend’s slate of games by seeing what’s on the mind of PFT Planet. You can send in your questions for Florio on Twitter — @ProFootballTalk — or by giving a call to 888-237-5269 during the show.

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

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A.J. Green back to practice after brief illness

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After worrying everyone through a series of big toe problems earlier this year, A.J. Green’s latest reason to miss practice wasn’t nearly as big a deal.

According to Geoff Hobson of the team’s official website, the Bengals wide receiver was back on the practice field today.

Green was out yesterday with an illness, and the fact he’s back today is a clear sign there’s nothing to worry about for him Monday.

The Bengals can clinch a playoff berth with a win against the Broncos, and could sew up the AFC North title with a win and losses by the Steelers and Ravens.

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FCC dismisses petition attacking Washington name


The FCC has decided to let Daniel Snyder be.

Via the Washington Post, the agency responsible for regulating the public airwaves has dismissed a petition against one of the radio stations owned by the owner of the Washington franchise based on the frequent use by said station of the team’s nickname.

“Licensees have broad discretion — based on their right to free speech — to choose, in good faith, the programming they believe serves the needs and interests of their communities,” the FCC concluded.  “This holds true even if the material broadcast is insulting to a particular minority or ethnic group in a station’s community.”

An attorney for the station predictably crowed about the outcome.

“The FCC’s written opinion makes crystal clear that use of the word Redskins on the airwaves does not violate any FCC rules, is not obscenity, profanity, or hate speech and is fully protected by the First Amendment,” Andrew McBride said, via the Post.

The conclusion hardly ends the simmering debate regarding whether the name should be changed.  While dormant for much of the 2014 regular season, the debate will linger until the name changes — and it will linger for years after the name changes.

In some respects, the team’s struggles (and other significant off-field issues for the NFL) have helped keep the debate out of the spotlight.  If/when (if) the team ever becomes a contender that plays deep into January and/or into the first Sunday in February, the debate will perhaps reach critical mass.

Until then, the periodic legal attacks on the name will continue.  Thursday’s ruling means only that the FCC won’t provide the silver bullet.  Another legal strategy, like the pending attack on the team’s trademark rights, could.  Even without the law forcing change, change could come from business realities or internal pressure from other NFL owners.So, for now, the American government hasn’t deemed the term to be offensive.  Fortunately for Snyder, the North Korean government hasn’t, either.

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Marvin Lewis doesn’t get Jeremy Hill’s touchdown celebrations, but likes how often he’s celebrating

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Bengals running back Jeremy Hill has made an impression on several fronts during his rookie season.

He’s made headlines with his mouth by criticizing opponents and his own offense’s predictability and he’s shown off a penchant for elaborate touchdown celebrations, including a failed bid to launch himself into the Dawg Pound during last Sunday’s victory over the Browns. Coach Marvin Lewis said that he’s told Hill it’s not to the team’s benefit when he runs his mouth and that he doesn’t quite understand the touchdown celebrations, but he’d like to see more of them as Hill continues to make a strong impression on the field.

“I want him to be able to celebrate in the end zone. That’s a key goal of mine, to let Jeremy celebrate in the end zone as much as possible — just make it quick,” Lewis said, via the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I don’t understand much of that, but he’s good. That’s what you want. You want to have guys like that. He’s been good for the team because I think they respect his maturity and how he’s handled things. He’s one of the guys. He’s learning how to grow in the NFL as a young guy. He’s doing it the right way.”

The Bengals have indicated a desire to roll with Hill as their lead back with Giovani Bernard, a decision that Hill will justify as long as he’s picking up five yards a pop out of the backfield. Should that continue, Lewis will probably have plenty of opportunities to gain a deeper understanding of what Hill’s up to when he hits the end zone.

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With season on the line, Jerry Jones is optimistic

Jerry AP

It’s been a long quest for glory. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones believes that glory is finally arriving.

With the 10-win Cowboys two games away from a division title — and one slip-up away from blowing both the NFC East crown and a wild-card berth — Jones sees the cup as almost entirely full. Despite failures in each of the last three years to win a Week 17 game that would have delivered a division title.

“I feel better than I felt in those years principally because of the health of [quarterback Tony] Romo,” Jones said, via the Dallas Morning News. “We’re in better shape with his health than we were in at least two of those three years.

“Just looking at our team and how it’s continually improved and it has, I think we’re playing our best. On an individual basis across the board the players are executing, and they’re healthier than they were in any of the last three years in general, across the board. Now, that has a lot to do with it.”

Still, the Cowboys have to deliver in each of the next two games, at home (where Dallas is a mediocre 3-4) and on the road against Washington. Lose one, and the Cowboys possibly are done.

So plenty is riding on the team’s ability to finish the job. If they perform like they have all year, the Cowboys will continue to defy the odds. If they finish the season like they did each of the prior three years, they’ll quite possibly be watching someone else pursue the glory that Jones so fervently craves.

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Washington openly hoping to play NFC East spoiler

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When you’re out of it and dysfunctional, you take whatever you can get.

So for Washington outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, the motivation for remaining games with the Cowboys and Eagles is simple.

We have a chance to be spoiler here,” Kerrigan said, via “Both of these teams are vying for the NFC East title and we have a chance to ruin one of their seasons so hopefully we can do that.

“You see these teams twice a year. Our fans don’t like the other teams in the East and we don’t either. This is a chance to take some positive for us by giving a negative to them.”

Dallas could clinch the NFC East this week with a win over the Colts and an Eagles loss at Washington.



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No current contract talks for Randall Cobb, Packers

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Before the season started, the Packers locked up wide receiver Jordy Nelson through 2018 before he could become a free agent.

Wide receiver Randall Cobb is also headed for free agency when the year comes to an end, but he didn’t get a new deal from the team. It doesn’t sound like one is forthcoming, either. Cobb said Thursday that there are no current contract talks going on with the team, something that Cobb says “is what it is” while adding that he hasn’t given much thought to what will happen after the season.

He did say that Green Bay is a great place to play and it’s hard to imagine that he wouldn’t want to follow up his first 1,000-yard receiving season by catching more passes from Aaron Rodgers. The size of the deal also plays a role, though, and Cobb said before the season that he didn’t think he had done enough on the field to warrant a big deal. Has he done enough to be paid like a top receiver now?

“That’s a question for you,” Cobb said, via the Green Bay Press Gazette. “Am I? I don’t know. I’m trying to be the best Randall I can be. I don’t know what that means, but I’m trying to be the best I can be. I’ll let everybody else decide what.”

Sorting out Cobb’s contract will likely be one of the first things on the Packers’ to-do list when their season comes to an end and quarterback Aaron Rodgers said it’s important that the team hold onto a player who is having his best season as a pro. If they don’t, there will be plenty of other quarterbacks asking their teams to let them replace Rodgers as the man getting Cobb the ball.

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Taped calls show very strong effort to get Peterson to show up for NFL meeting

Peterson AP

Four days ago, the NFL Players Association filed a legal challenge to the suspension of Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.  The exhibits to the petition include a pair of recorded phone calls between Peterson and NFL executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent.

PFT has obtained the recorded phone calls.  They create the distinct impression that Vincent was trying aggressively and zealously to persuade Peterson to attend a meeting in the league office on Friday, November 17.

“We’ve gotta make sure you show up on Friday,” Vincent said at one point in the first of two recorded calls.  That first call also had Vincent suggesting very strongly to Peterson that, if he shows up for the meeting, he could learn as early as that night that he would miss only two additional games before returning for the final five games of the season.

“The number that you gave me is real,” Vincent said in reference to a two-game suspension, “but you gotta go through the process.”

Vincent’s words ultimately were used by the NFLPA and Peterson as evidence that the NFL retaliated against Peterson for not showing up at the November 14 meeting, yanking a wink-nod understanding that he’d be suspended two games and hitting him with a harder punishment.  But it was unclear from the two phone calls whether Peterson definitely would be suspended only two games if he showed up at the meeting.  Listening to both tapes, the impression is that Vincent (regardless of motivation) desperately wanted to get Peterson to attend the meeting, and that Vincent (regardless of motivation) came off as a guy who was trying to broker a deal behind the scenes.

There’s no clear guarantee from Vincent that Peterson would have gotten only two games if he had shown up for the meeting.  With Vincent asking Peterson “can I trust you?” and insisting that Peterson not tell anyone about their discussions regarding a two-game suspension, it’s clear Vincent had one clear objective — to get Peterson to show up.

Possibly, Vincent was doing so at the behest of Commissioner Roger Goodell and/or others in the upper echelon of the league office.  Possibly, Vincent was simply acting on his own, thinking that he’d be helping Peterson by getting Peterson to submit to a meeting that was loosely defined and, given the involvement of outside experts, unprecedented.

Vincent’s testimony from the Peterson appeal hearing, a copy of which PFT also has obtained, makes it clear that Vincent was dealing with a diverse group that had developed no consensus as to Peterson’s additional punishment.  The audiotapes don’t convey the same “anything can happen” message to Adrian; instead, Vincent was strongly selling optimism that the final outcome could be two games.

Far more telling than the discussions about a two-game suspension were a couple of other comments that have not been emphasized by another media outlet that obtained the audio.  First, Vincent asked Peterson in the initial call, “If there is more discipline, what should it be?”  This strongly implies that Vincent, contrary to his superiors, believes suspension with pay is discipline.

Second, if there was any doubt about the first comment, Vincent elaborated on that point in the subsequent call.  “You were away from the game,” Vincent said.  “You were not participating, even though it was a paid leave.   You were not participating.  And ballplayers know their shelf life.”

Faced with that language during the Peterson appeal hearing, Vincent offered the following explanation: “Can I tell you why I shared that? Is because inside this group I had people who have no idea what the culture of or what the lifespan is of a National Football League player and they could care less. I was hoping, when this — that they would consider that you have a shelf life, the body has a shelf life as an NFL player. Because there are people in this group, they could care less. I was giving context so they can keep things into consideration.”

That’s the strongest, clearest argument yet against the NFL’s ill-advised position that paid leave for allegations of off-field misconduct isn’t discipline.  And it’s coming from the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, one of the highest ranking members of the league office.

Regardless of anything else that happens with Peterson’s case, Vincent’s taped comments and testimony should become the centerpiece of a challenge by the NFLPA to the league’s cockeyed notion that putting a player on paid leave harms neither the player nor his team.  Surely, it does.

If there was any doubt, just ask Peterson and the Vikings, who’d likely be a lot better than 6-8 right now if they’d had Peterson available for even half of the season.

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Odell Beckham would vote for Jarvis Landry for rookie of the year

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Odell Beckham has emerged this season as not just a leading rookie of the year candidate but perhaps the best receiver in all of football. But that’s not how Beckham views himself.

In fact, when Beckham was asked whom he’d choose as rookie of the year, he picked a couple of his LSU teammates: Beckham said Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry would be his first choice, and Bengals running back Jeremy Hill would be his No. 2.

(LSU’s offense was loaded with talent last season: In addition to Beckham, Landry and Hill, it also had quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who was starting for the Titans until he got hurt, guard Trai Turner, who is starting for the Panthers, running back Alfred Blue, who has 483 rushing yards for the Texans, and wide receiver James Wright, who has 121 yards from scrimmage for the Bengals.)

Beckham said the rookie of the year award would be nice, but he’s not giving it a lot of thought.

“It’s always in the back of your mind. But right now, honestly, just finish out the last couple of games and whatever happens, happens. You can only control what you can control. I’m just [thinking] whatever happens, happens,’’ Beckham told the New York Post. “Of course [it’d be nice]. If it were to happen, it’d be quite an accomplishment. But that’s not up to me; just keep doing what you’re doing.’’

Generally, Beckham said, he doesn’t think about individual accomplishments, which is why it’s strange to him when fans talk to him about his stats because they have him on their fantasy teams.

“I don’t have time for that,’’ said Beckham. “People talk to me about fantasy all the time. It’s something I really don’t pay much mind to it because I don’t like . . . I’m on someone’s fantasy team, ‘do good for me.’ I don’t play football to play for someone’s fantasy team. I play because this is what I love to do.’’

The Giants love what Beckham is doing for them this season. And no matter how much credit he wants to give to his old college teammates, Beckham is the best rookie in the NFL.

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Roy Miller needs knee surgery to repair meniscus injury

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The Jaguars announced a contract extension for defensive tackle Roy Miller earlier this week that will allow them to hold onto Miller without competing for his services with other teams when free agency opens in 2015.

It will also allow Miller to avoid selling his services while coming off of knee surgery.

Miller didn’t play against the Titans on Thursday night after missing practice all this week with a knee injury and Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union reports that Miller will need surgery to repair his meniscus. O’Halloran expects Miller will be placed on injured reserve before the Jaguars season comes to a close against the Texans next weekend.

Miller should be recovered in time to take part in the Jaguars’ offseason program, which will help him make good on the four-year, $16.25 million commitment that the Jaguars made to him this week. Miller’s season comes to a close after 14 starts, 20 tackles and a sack.

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Friday morning one-liners

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Marcus Thigpen has provided a jolt to the Bills special teams.

The Dolphins would like to get RB Lamar Miller 1,000 rushing yards.

Better communication is part of the Patriots’ plan to do a better job against the Jets run game than they did earlier this season.

Jets rookie S Calvin Pryor says he’ll prove his doubters wrong.

Injury ended S Terrence Brooks’s rookie season, but the Ravens still see a bright future.

Bengals T Andrew Whitworth isn’t worrying about making the Pro Bowl.

T Joe Thomas longs for a chance to play in a playoff game with the Browns.

TE Heath Miller’s blocking has been a plus to the Steelers run game.

The Texans expect to have LB Whitney Mercilus back in the lineup this week.

Getting traded to the Colts was a boost to CB Vontae Davis’s career.

The Jaguars may be moving on from WR Cecil Shorts after the season.

Titans RB Leon Washington got to celebrate a touchdown with his son on Thursday night.

The Broncos brought TE Dominique Jones back to the 53-man roster.

WR Jason Avant has made himself at home with the Chiefs.

Raiders rookie G Gabe Jackson brings a mean streak onto the field.

Chargers LB Dwight Freeney says age isn’t the reason for a drop in sacks.

Said Cowboys owner Jerry Jones of QB Tony Romo, “It has the potential to be his best season. The factor that would impact the most in my mind would be if we do have the kind of season that we’re all dreaming about here, then it would be his best.”

Former Giants G Chris Snee recounts telling coach and father-in-law Tom Coughlin that he was retiring.

Free agency is waiting for Eagles LB Brandon Graham after the season.

DE Jason Hatcher may not play again for the Redskins this season.

Bears CB Charles Tillman remains a believer in QB Jay Cutler.

If teams with head coaching vacancies come calling, defensive coordinator Teryl Austin’s stay with the Lions could be a short one.

CB Davon House is making progress in his return from a shoulder injury, but may not play in the final two Packers regular season games.

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer wants more toughness from his team late in games.

WR Roddy White says the Falcons will be ready with or without Julio Jones in the lineup.

It’s been a tough sophomore season for Panthers DT Star Lotulelei.

The Saints are moving Corey White to safety.

Buccaneers DT Gerald McCoy is sad to miss a matchup with Aaron Rodgers.

DE Frostee Rucker will see college coach Pete Carroll when the Cardinals meet the Seahawks this weekend.

The Rams secondary will get its first look at Giants WR Odell Beckham.

There will be plenty of backups on defense for the 49ers this Sunday.

Seahawks T Justin Britt will have a lot to deal with against the Cardinals defensive line.

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Eddie Lacy can’t see himself wearing goggles

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Eddie Lacy can’t really see. But he can’t see himself looking like Eric Dickerson either.

The Packers running back is having problems with his contact lenses, and was limited in practice the last two days because of an irritated eye.

Lacy’s eye started bothering him when he wore his contacts past their normal 30-day shelf life, and now he said he can’t read nameplates across the locker room if he closes his right eye. He’s getting glasses soon, but said he didn’t want to have to wear goggles this week.

Otherwise, could goggles be an option?

I refuse,” Lacy said, via Weston Hodkiewicz of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. “I don’t want to say I refuse because I might because I think it will be better than wearing contacts, but that’s kind of old-fashioned.”

He said he plans to put his contacts back in this weekend, and coach Mike McCarthy said he didn’t think it would otherwise impact Lacy’s availability for this week’s game.

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