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Hartline doesn’t want New York fans at Sun Life Stadium

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At a time when the Dolphins and every other team want to see as many paying customers as possible regardless of fan affiliation, receiver Brian Hartline has a message for folks inclined to attend games at Miami’s Sun Life Stadium:  We don’t want New York fans.

“In the past there have been some New York teams that at times have had some pretty good representation at our stadium, especially in the lower seating,” Hartline said during a Tuesday teleconference with fans, via Andrew Abramson of the Palm Beach Post.  “We definitely want to get that fixed.  We want to get more of our Dolphins fans, hear more of the roars on our plays that are successful.”
Ideally, only Dolphins fans would attend Dolphins games.  But owners don’t discriminate when it’s time to sell tickets.  Though they’d rather sell a seat to a fan of their team than a fan of the opponent, they’d much rather sell a ticket to a fan of the opponent than no one.
Especially the Dolphins, who in 2011 held a University of Florida reunion game on Miami University’s field in order to attract as many folks as possible who’d be rooting for former Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow.
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Kaepernick, Houston dispute quarterback’s use of slur

CK AP

The NFL’s letter informing 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick that he’s been fined for using abusive language doesn’t specific what he said.

Bears defensive end Lamarr Houston now says that Kaepernick used the “N” word.  Kaepernick contends he didn’t.

Via Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune, Houston said Monday night that he heard Kaepernick utter the slur.  After the Week Two game, however, Houston had said he heard nothing.

Ultimately, the available audio tape may resolve this one.  Especially since receiver Michael Crabtree wore a microphone during the game and seemed to be close enough to Kaepernick to pick up whatever he said.

Maybe Kaepernick simply said, “Bobby, give me my money.”

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Odell Beckham gets in a limited practice

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The Giants offense leapt to life in Sunday’s win over the Texans and the good news continued for the team on Tuesday.

Wide receiver Odell Beckham was a limited participant in practice, which usually isn’t a cause for smiles unless the player has only taken part in two practices since being drafted in the first round four months ago. That’s the case for Beckham, who has been out with a hamstring injury for almost all of his brief Giants career.

The Giants are playing Thursday, so Beckham is not going to be making his debut in Week Four. Getting in a little practice time now and ramping things up next week could put him in play for the game against the Falcons, but it’s wait and see for a player who has yet to practice two days in a row as a professional.

Linebacker Jon Beason was also listed as a limited participant after missing the win over Houston. Beason aggravated the foot injury that hampered him in the offseason, but an extended absence may not be in the cards for the Giants starter.

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Witnesses say Rob Bironas was enraged moments before his death

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We still don’t know exactly what transpired just before former Titans kicker Rob Bironas died in a single-car accident on Saturday night. But new information gleaned from 911 calls and witness statements raise questions about what was going on with Bironas in the hours before he died.

The Tennessean has obtained 911 calls and statements from witnesses that suggest that Bironas was involved in some kind of road-rage incident with multiple other cars.

A student named Connor Fraley says he was a passenger in a truck that Bironas nearly hit. Fraley says he and the others in the truck smelled something burning coming from Bironas’s SUV and pulled up next to him to alert him to it, and that Bironas replied with an angry threat.

“His window was down, and we pulled up and I said, ‘Hey man, just a heads up, something’s burning from your exhaust. Your exhaust smells horrible, just wanted to let you know,”’ Fraley told the Tennessean. “He looked over at me and said ‘I’m going to kill everybody in your [expletive] vehicle. It was so random, so bizarre I was like, ‘What?’ And he said the exact same thing again.”

In a separate incident, a woman told a 911 dispatcher that another driver — later identified as Bironas — tried to run the vehicle in which she and her and her husband were traveling off the road. That woman thought Bironas might have been drunk, although police say there is no evidence that alcohol played a role in the crash.

He is dangerous, he is drunk or something. He tried to start a fight with us,” the woman said of Bironas on the 911 call. “My husband ran down there to see what is going on. I just want to tell the police there is something wrong with him. He is dangerous, he is drunk or he is on drugs. There is something wrong with him. He gave us a mean look. We don’t even know him, and he tried to run us off the road.”

Bironas died after his SUV hit several trees at around 11 p.m. on Saturday. It is unclear where Bironas was going, but his wife had called police to report him missing. Rachel Bradshaw, the wife of Bironas and daughter of Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw, said she assumed her husband was in bed asleep at around 10:30 p.m. but called police when she went to their bedroom and found him missing. She said there had been nothing wrong, the couple had not been arguing and it was unusual for him to leave home without saying anything.

The Titans released Bironas this offseason after nine seasons with the team. There had been no reports of anything wrong in Bironas’s life, and he was reportedly eager to continue his NFL career. He had a tryout with the Lions last week.

Bironas, the NFL’s all-time record holder for field goals in a game, was 36.

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Ray Lewis isn’t on the Ravens payroll

Lewis Getty Images

The combination of Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti’s offer to give former running back Ray Rice a job and the awkward, clumsy, and ironic commentary from former linebacker Ray Lewis regarding the lingering controversy has caused some to wonder whether the Ravens are still paying Lewis, either as consultant or in some other capacity.

That’s not the case, according to the Ravens.

“We do not pay him and he is not an advisor to us,” the team said.

It’s not uncommon for folks paid to talk about football to have other relationships that, in theory, could undermine the credibility of their on-air remarks.  Some networks allow those relationships, without making any disclosure.  Others demand a disclosure.  Others refuse to allow on-air analysts to consult with specific teams.

In this case, it doesn’t matter, given that Lewis has no current financial relationship with the Ravens.

Of course, that’s doesn’t change the obvious bias Lewis has for the team that recently unveiled a statue of the future Hall of Famer.  Which should prompt ESPN to keep Lewis away from offering any analysis about the team’s current struggles.

Then there’s his personal history of off-field issues.  Can anyone listen to Lewis talk about the team’s response to criminal activity by a player without constantly considering the fact that the Ravens blindly and loudly supported Lewis after he pleaded guilty to obstructing justice in a murder case?

There’s some things you can cover up,” Lewis said Sunday about the Rice situation.  “And then there’s some things you can’t.  This is a sad day for me because the reputation I left in this organization, this isn’t it.”

It’s a sad day for ESPN any day that Ray Lewis is trotted out to talk about anything relating to the Ray Rice situation.  And that has happened all too often since the elevator video was released.

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Jeff Tedford given indefinite leave of absence from Bucs

Tedford AP

The Buccaneers were hoping offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford was close to a return.

Instead, there’s no way to know when he’ll be back.

Via Pat Yasinskas of ESPN.com, the team has given Tedford an indefinite leave of absence.

Tedford had a heart procedure before the start of the season, but had returned to work on a limited basis. He’s been around the team, but quarterbacks coach Marcus Arroyo had called the plays the first three games.

Coach Lovie Smith had said that Tedford hadn’t experienced any setbacks, but he clearly needs more time to get himself well.

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Panthers put Mike Tolbert on IR/designated for return

Pittsburgh Steelers v Carolina Panthers Getty Images

The Panthers banged-up running game will be without its biggest part for at least eight weeks.

The team announced that fullback Mike Tolbert was placed on injured reserve/designated for return.

That will keep him out at least eight weeks, after he suffered a hairline fracture in his leg in Sunday’s loss to the Steelers.

The team signed linebacker D.J. Smith to fill his roster spot, which might actually be a good sign for their other backs.

DeAngelo Williams could return this week after missing the last two with a hamstring. Jonathan Stewart left the game last week with what coach Ron Rivera called a “severe sprain” of his knee, pending an MRI.

If they’re not signing a back now, they must think Williams will play this week, because the only other healthy back on the roster is practice squad promotion Darrin Reaves.

Tolbert was viewed as a luxury buy at the time (one of the last backs former General Manager Marty Hurney bought before he was fired), but went to the Pro Bowl last year after leading the team with seven touchdowns.

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Jerry Jones: Morris Claiborne isn’t what we hoped for

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In the 2012 NFL draft, Cowboys General Manager Jerry Jones traded both his first-round pick and his second-round pick to St. Louis to move up and draft cornerback Morris Claiborne with the sixth overall pick. So far that’s not looking like a great move.

Jones says he still has hopes that Claiborne is going to turn out to be a very good player in Dallas, but he admits that through two-plus seasons, Claiborne hasn’t been the player the Cowboys believed he was when they pulled the trigger on that trade.

“Is he what we had hoped for at this point when we drafted him with the sixth overall pick, giving up the [second-round] pick to go up to the sixth pick to get him? No,” Jones said on KRLD-FM, via the Dallas Morning News. “But he’s going to be a good player.”

Claiborne had a late interception on Sunday against the Rams, but St. Louis quarterback Austin Davis was also picking on Claiborne all day until that point. Claiborne has to play better than he did on Sunday.

The two picks the Cowboys traded away turned out to be Michael Brockers, who is now starting for the Rams at defensive tackle, and Alshon Jeffery, whom the Bears drafted after a trade with the Rams and who has become one of the best young receivers in the NFL. Jones probably wishes he had stayed put and used those picks on the same two players, rather than using both picks to get Claiborne.

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PFT Live: Ravens talk with Clifton Brown, PFT Planet calls and tweets

Baltimore Ravens Owner Steve Bisciotti Press Conference Getty Images

Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti held a press conference on Monday in response to ESPN’s article about the team’s handling of the Ray Rice case and we’ll be talking about it on Tuesday’s edition of PFT Live.

Clifton Brown of CSN Baltimore will join Mike Florio to give his take on Bisciotti’s comments, including his belief that no one would be fired as a result of the way the team handled things with Rice and his admission that it never crossed his mind to push harder to get the video from inside the elevator on the fateful night. They’ll also talk about the Ravens moving to 2-1 with a win over the Browns and what lies ahead for the team.

Florio will then switch from asking questions to answering them, so we invite PFT Planet to share some of their biggest queries. You can send them in on Twitter — @ProFootballTalk — or give 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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Mike Pettine on Joe Haden: Great players need to make big plays when team needs them

Steve Smith, Joe Haden AP

Browns coach Mike Pettine said Monday that he wanted to take the blame for the team’s loss to the Ravens on Sunday, but that doesn’t mean that he didn’t find fault with anything that his players did on the field.

One example would be the 32-yard pass to Steve Smith that set up Justin Tucker’s game-winning field goal. Smith beat Browns cornerback Joe Haden on the play and Pettine said on Monday that his team’s best defensive player needs to make a play in those kinds of situations.

“He’s played well at times, but as you can see, at some inopportune times he’s not played well,” Pettine said, via the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “I think he’ll admit that, as well. That’s what we talk about. The great ones are going to make big plays when it’s needed, and I think that’s one area where Joe will look to improve.”

Haden hasn’t gotten off to the best of starts this season after signing a big contract extension over the offseason, something that Pettine said he doesn’t think is a result of the foot injury that bothered him late in the preseason. Haden’s history says that things will get better, which will be a welcome development for a Browns team that is a couple of big plays away from a 3-0 record.

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Week Three power rankings

Seahawks AP

1. Seattle Seahawks (No. 1 last week; 2-1):  Why couldn’t they have toyed with the Broncos like this in February?

2. Cincinnati Bengals (No. 5; 3-0):  It’s a lot easier to be among the NFL’s best when there aren’t playoff games to win.

3. Denver Broncos (No. 2; 2-1):  At least they won’t be intimidated if they play Seattle again in February.

4. Philadelphia Eagles (No. 7; 3-0):  How long until Cary Williams is doing shirtless situps in his driveway?

5. New England Patriots (No. 3; 2-1):  Given the way he secured the game-clinching interception, maybe Vince Wilfork should be moved to tight end.

6. Arizona Cardinals (No. 8; 3-0):  Bruce Arians isn’t the coach of the year; he’s the coach of the century.

7. Baltimore Ravens (No. 10; 2-1):  Given the way this team plays under duress, maybe the next conspiracy should be to start more conspiracies.

8. San Diego Chargers (No. 12; 2-1):  It’ll be hard to keep winning games if they keep losing running backs every week.

9. Atlanta Falcons (No. 14; 2-1):  They should have saved some of those points for later in the season.

10. Pittsburgh Steelers (No. 16; 2-1):  At a time when the Panthers were becoming the Steelers, the Steelers showed the Panthers who the Steelers really are.

11. New Orleans Saints (No. 11; 1-2):  Before Drew Brees was slammed to the ground, it looked like the Vikings were applying a sleeper hold to the Saints.

12. Detroit Lions (No. 17; 2-1):  Stephen Tulloch’s injury proves that the Lions haven’t had nearly enough practice celebrating things.

13. Chicago Bears (No. 13; 2-1):  Two non-convincing road wins are still a lot better than two non-convincing road losses.

14. Green Bay Packers (No. 4; 1-2):  Maybe they just stink.

15. Carolina Panthers (No. 6; 2-1):  Maybe they should reinstate Greg Hardy so he can play on the offensive line.

16. Indianapolis Colts (No. 15; 1-2):  Yes, the Jaguars are so bad that blowing them out results in a one-spot drop in the rankings.

17. San Francisco 49ers (No. 9; 1-2):  That “Who’s got it better than us?” chant could soon become, “Who doesn’t?”

18. Buffalo Bills (No. 18; 2-1):  Yep, we know how the “Bills start strong in September” book ends.

19. Dallas Cowboys (No. 23; 2-1):  This team is still a long way from glorywhole.

20. Houston Texans (No. 19; 2-1):  I have a feeling I won’t be hearing from many of the folks who had complained that the 2-0 Texans were only No. 19.

21. New York Jets (No. 20; 1-2):  It’s just a matter of time before Mike Vick is playing enough to get injured again.

22. Cleveland Browns (No. 21; 1-2):  The schedule softens considerably on the other side of the bye week.

23. Washington (No. 22; 1-2):  When they trade RGIII, they probably won’t get three first-round picks and a second-round pick.

24. Kansas City Chiefs (No. 28; 1-2):  With games against the Patriots and 49ers looming, that win at Miami likely helped avoid taking an 0-5 record into the bye week.

25. Miami Dolphins (No. 24; 1-2):  Losing two games in a row after beating the Patriots has become a trend.

26. New York Giants (No. 30; 1-2):  One win over a team with a fraudulent 2-0 record doesn’t mean everything is fixed.

27. St. Louis Rams (No. 25; 1-2):  It takes a bad team to make the Cowboys look that good.

28. Tennessee Titans (No. 26; 1-2):  Week One feels like it was a long time ago.

29. Minnesota Vikings (No. 27; 1-2):  A season of quiet optimism has yielded to loud pessimism.

30. Oakland Raiders (No. 32; 0-3):  Maybe they won’t go 0-16, after all.

31. Jacksonville Jaguars (No. 31; 0-3):  With all the focus on the team’s crappy offense, it’s easy to forget they have a crappy defense.

32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (No. 29; 0-3):  Last week’s performance in the team’s new uniforms could make fans forget about all the horrible performances in the team’s original uniforms.

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Tom Brady is there for Patriots owner Robert Kraft

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Tom Brady hasn’t been left hanging often in his life, but he’s been caught on camera waiting for a high five a few times before.

So he felt sorry for Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who is still waiting for a high five from Mark Wahlberg which never came.

After that photo made a lap around the internet, Brady posted a photoshopped picture of him high-fiving his boss.

Not cool Mark! Mr. Kraft, I know how you feel,” Brady wrote on his Facebook page.

Somewhere, Logan Mankins has to be thinking the exact same thing.

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James Harrison’s return to Steelers a “done deal”

james-harrison2 Getty Images

Apologies to Thomas Wolfe, but you can go home again.

Just ask James Harrison. Harrison spent a year playing for the Bengals and then retired last month, but none of that has stopped him from returning to the Steelers in the wake of Jarvis Jones’s wrist injury.

Reports out of Pittsburgh on Monday were that Harrison would be back with the team that employed him for 10 years and Harrison confirmed it on Tuesday morning when he announced a “done deal.” He also shared a picture of the moment he signed his contract with the team.

Arthur Moats is expected to get the starts in place of Jones, who was placed on injured reserve with the designation to return. Harrison’s experience with the defense likely helped push the Steelers in his direction as they shore up their depth after losing Jones for a long stretch and Ryan Shazier for a shorter spell.

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Kevin Kolb working to help Mexican hurricane victims

Kevin Kolb AP

Former NFL quarterback Kevin Kolb wasn’t used to having weekends off in the fall.

But what he saw while vacationing in Mexico scared him more than any hit he took in his career, and now he’s wondering where the help is.

Kolb, his wife and some friends were vacationing in Cabo San Lucas last week when Hurricane Odile hit, and he said he was alarmed at the lack of response or concern.

“Now that I’m back, the thing that is most disturbing is no one here realizes just how bad it is down there,” Kolb told Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “When we got to customs, we told him where we were coming from, and he said, ‘Oh, I heard there was a little storm down there.’

“This is a tragedy. It should be a full humanitarian effort down there, and for some reason, it’s not being made out to be as big of a deal as it should be.”

Kolb described in harrowing detail how they rode out the storm while stranded at their hotel, unable to get a flight out in advance of the storm. He and his wife piled mattresses on top of themselves in the bathroom as 125 mph winds lashed their hotel, before eventually heading for a shelter.

He and his friends eventually made it to the airport after the storm, and got on a Mexican military plane to Guadalajara, and then came back to Texas.

“I know there are still a lot of U.S. tourists down there, and we saw no U.S. support anywhere,” Kolb said. “We saw Canadian government officials helping, but where is the U.S.?”

Kolb said he plans to return to the hotel to help employees who worked to safeguard their guests, and lost much of what they owned in the process. But he’s wondering why more people weren’t aware of the destruction.

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Mike McCarthy focused on problems with offensive execution rather than scheme

Green Bay Packers v Detroit Lions Getty Images

After the Packers scored just seven points in their loss to the Lions on Sunday, quarterback Aaron Rodgers said the team needed to do “a better job of adjusting” than they did against the Cover-2 looks they were seeing from Detroit.

Rodgers didn’t elaborate on the adjustments he would have liked to have seen and offensive coordinator Tom Clements said Monday that he didn’t know what Rodgers was talking about. Coach Mike McCarthy said that he questioned not being more aggressive in the passing game earlier in the contest, but also said that he wasn’t sure what adjustments Rodgers wanted to see and that the bigger problem with the team’s play had to do with execution rather than scheme.

“I’m not really up here to talk about scheme,” McCarthy said, via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “One thing I always talk to our players about all the time is scheme is not a crutch. The fundamentals and the things we do from an execution standpoint were not good enough, clearly, on offense.”

Playing both safeties deep was an invitation for the Packers to run the ball and they didn’t do it well enough, something that led to particular criticism from McCarthy. Rodgers didn’t set the world on fire either, however, and things have to get better across the board for the Packers to move back to the top of the division.

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Rex bites his tongue about bad call

rextrestman AP

A blown call by the officials cost the Jets a touchdown on Monday night, as a Jay Cutler fumble was wrongly blown dead just as Demario Davis was picking it up with a clear path to the end zone. But Jets coach Rex Ryan wouldn’t complain afterward.

When reporters pressed Ryan about the play, he declined to blast the officiating, perhaps conscious of the fact that he could get fined by the NFL if he did.

“I’ll let you guys figure out how frustrating that is,” Ryan said.

Davis was a little more talkative afterward.

“I knew it was a fumble,” Davis said. “I knew when I picked it up that it was a fumble. And it should’ve been a touchdown. I talked to a couple referees before [Monday] and they said that they are supposed to let that play stay open. They are taught to call that a fumble, because you always can review it. But if you blow it dead, then the play dies there. That came back to bit us in the butt. But we didn’t have the best officiating in our game. But it comes with the territory. That’s not an excuse for us. We have to play better.”

The Jets have to play better. But the officials also have to call the game better. Ryan knows he can only get away with saying one of those two things.

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