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John Riggins wanted the ball in the 1982 playoffs, and he got it

SUPER BOWL AP

Thirty years ago, John Riggins’ rushing helped carry Washington through the playoffs and to a victory in Super Bowl XVII, and his 1982 postseason play becomes all the more amazing to ponder with each passing year.

For starters, Riggins carried a staggering workload, racking up 37, 36 and 38 carries in Washington’s final three playoff games, per Pro Football Reference data. Overall, he gained 610 yards on 136 carries in Washington’s four playoff games. His 38 rushing attempts in Super Bowl XVII remain an overall game record, and this could be a standard that continues to stand for a long time, given how teams are more apt to use multiple backs these days.

Also, Riggins was 33 in January 1983, which isn’t exactly young by NFL standards. To put this in some current context, the 49ers’ Frank Gore will be 33 in the 2016 postseason.

In a recent interview with Rich Tandler of CSNWashington.com, Riggins said he takes pride in how he told coach Joe Gibbs he wanted all of the work he could get in the 1982 postseason.

“I’ve never been the guy to step forward and volunteer for anything. But there was a lot on the line . . . it was my 12th year in the league and I knew this was the moment,” Riggins told CSNWashington.com. “If you don’t stand up, the rest of your life you’re going to be sitting there going, ‘I wish I would have said something.’ ”

“So at least I had what it took in that moment to raise my hand and say, ‘I’ll go.’ ”

And then he went out and backed up his words in a four-game stretch that epitomized what being a workhorse back is all about.

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Report: Chargers worked out Austin Pettis

Austin Pettis AP

The Chargers reportedly took a late-season look at a notable free agent wide receiver.

According to ESPN’s Adam Caplan, the Chargers put former Rams receiver Austin Pettis through a workout on Wednesday. He remains unsigned.

The Chargers could be down a key receiver for the regular-season finale at Kansas City, with second-year pro Keenan Allen doubtful with ankle and shoulder injuries.

The 26-year-old Pettis caught 107 passes for 1,034 yards with nine touchdowns in four seasons with the Rams, who released him in October. In November, he worked out for the Seahawks, Caplan reported. He also got an audition with the Panthers.

NFL teams can start signing free agents to 2015 offseason rosters beginning on Monday.

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Report: Michigan, Jim Harbaugh to talk

Harbaugh Getty Images

With the 49ers’ season ending in less than 48 hours, potential suitors for head coach Jim Harbaugh are reportedly getting close to officially turning over their cards.

According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Media, the University of Michigan plans to soon talk with Harbaugh. Rapoport and Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports both report Michigan officials are in the San Francisco Bay Area this weekend. The 49ers (7-8) host the Cardinals at 4:25 p.m. ET on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.

According to Rapoport, Harbaugh will attend to his 49ers business before any discussion with interested parties. And the Raiders, Rapoport indicated, are also interested in Harbaugh. However, the Raiders would need permission to speak to Harbaugh, who has one year left on his contract with San Francisco.

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Report: Chargers expected to place P Mike Scifres on IR

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Mike Scifres‘ season could be at an end.

The Chargers are expected to put Scifres, their long-time punter, on injured reserve, Alex Marvez of FoxSports.com reported Friday evening.

Regarded as one of the game’s top punters, Scifres suffered a broken clavicle in the Chargers’ December 7 loss to New England. Mat McBriar has filled in for Scifres for San Diego (9-6), which can clinch a wild-card spot with a victory Sunday at Kansas City.

According to Marvez, the Chargers are in need of center depth, and the club doesn’t intend to place tailback Ryan Mathews (ankle) or wideout Keenan Allen (ankle/shoulder) on injured reserve. Mathews has been ruled out for Sunday’s game, while Allen is doubtful. The Chargers’ current starting center, Chris Watt, is questionable with an ankle injury.

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Russell Okung cleared to play from bruised lung, Max Unger a game-time decision

Dallas Cowboys v Seattle Seahawks Getty Images

Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said Friday that left tackle Russell Okung has been cleared to play after suffering a bruised lung two weeks ago against the San Francisco 49ers.

Center Max Unger will be a game-time decision for Sunday’s regular season finale against the St. Louis Rams.

Okung had to be taken to the hospital for evaluation following a block from former 49ers defensive end Ray McDonald on an interception return at the end of the first half of Seattle’s 17-7 win. Okung missed last week’s game against the Arizona Cardinals but practiced all week and appears ready to return to the lineup.

“Russell had a full week and he’s been cleared to play so Russell is in good shape,” Carroll said.

Unger has missed the last five games after suffering a high-ankle sprain against the Kansas City Chiefs. Unger returned to practice on Dec. 12, but had a setback and did not practice at all last week. He worked in consecutive practices this week for the first time since being injured.

“Max made it through (practice),” Carroll said. “We’ll see how it goes. We’ll take it one day at a time.”

Unger has appeared in just six games this season as he was previously sidelined for four games with a sprained foot in October. However, Carroll said it’s not a priority for them to get Unger any game snaps before the start of the playoffs.

“That’s not a consideration,” Carroll said. “We’re trying to win a game.”

Wide receiver Jermaine Kearse (hamstring) and defensive end Demarcus Dobbs (ankle) have both been officially ruled out. Receiver Chris Matthews returned to practice after missing last week with a hamstring injury of his own. Carroll said he’ll be a game-time decision and is listed as questionable.

Tight ends Cooper Helfet (ribs) and Tony Moeaki (shoulder) are both “banged up” but were able to practice on Friday. Moeaki is probable while Helfet is listed as questionable.

Cornerback Tharold Simon is also questionable after suffering a shoulder injury last week against Arizona.

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Saints place Pierre Thomas, Akiem Hicks on IR

Pierre Thomas AP

The Saints placed tailback Pierre Thomas and defensive end Akiem Hicks on injured reserve on Friday. To fill the open roster spots, club promoted rookie wide receiver Brandon Coleman and second-year linebacker Jerry Franklin from the practice squad.

The moves were disclosed in the league’s daily personnel report.

Neither Thomas nor Hicks were on the Week 17 injury report, but both have dealt ailments in recent weeks, with Thomas enduring rib/shoulder injuries and Hicks having an ankle injury.

The 30-year-old Thomas caught 45 passes for 378 yards and one TD in 11 games for New Orleans. He also rushed 46 times for 222 yards and a pair of scores.

Hicks, 25, started 14-of-15 games this season, notching 42 tackles and two sacks.

The 22-year-old Coleman played collegiately at Rutgers. At 6-foot-6 and 225 pounds, Coleman has excellent size for the position.

Franklin, 26, played in seven games for Kansas City earlier this season. The Arkansas product has made 20 regular season appearances, with the other 13 coming with Chicago in 2012 and 2013.

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Justin Gilbert vows to be great after work ethic is questioned

Cleveland Browns v Pittsburgh Steelers Getty Images

Browns rookie cornerback Justin Gilbert has taken criticism from coaches and teammates who question whether he has worked hard enough this year. And Gilbert, the eighth overall pick in the draft, promises he’s going to prove anyone who doubts him wrong.

I will be great,” Gilbert said, via ESPN.

Gilbert hasn’t been great so far this season, and veteran teammates including safety Donte Whitner and linebacker Karlos Dansby have complained that Gilbert doesn’t prepare like a pro. Gilbert didn’t seem to appreciate that, saying that Whitner is “the guy who’s always just talking” and that the public criticisms are things his teammates “could have been kept to themselves.”

Still, Gilbert acknowledges that his teammates may have had a point.

“I’m not mad at anyone about it,” Gilbert said. “I brought it upon myself. I can take that and roll with it. I messed up. But I can promise my teammates I’m going to make it right.”

It’s too late for Gilbert to make it right this year. But the Browns need Gilbert to play a lot better next year.

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Seahawks waive Travian Robertson

Seattle Seahawks v Carolina Panthers Getty Images

The Seahawks opened a roster spot Friday, waiving defensive tackle Travian Robertson, the club said.

A third-year pro from South Carolina, Robertson appeared in one game for the Seahawks after joining the club on November 18. The 26-year-old Robertson also appeared in 12 games as a reserve for Atlanta (2012-2013).

The Seahawks didn’t announce a corresponding move, leaving them one player under the limit.

The Seahawks have ruled out defensive end Demarcus Dobbs (ankle) and wideout Jermaine Kearse (hamstring) for Sunday’s game vs. St. Louis.  Cornerback Tharold Simon (shoulder), center Max Unger (knee, ankle), wideout Chris Matthews (hamstring) and tight end Cooper Helfet (ribs) are questionable for Seattle (11-4), which can clinch homefield advantage throughout the NFC playoffs with a win over the Rams.

UPDATE 11:19 p.m. ET: Curtis Crabtree of PFT and KJR Sports Radio in Seattle advises the Seahawks will not fill the open roster spot for the time being.

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Week 17 injury report roundup

Alex Smith, Cameron Heyward, Jason Worilds AP

Over the course of the week, there are a lot of posts about the most prominent injured players but we know that you might not see all of them and that some others may fall through the cracks. As a result, we’ll comb through all the injury reports every Friday afternoon so that there’s one stop for all the news from every team playing on Saturday and Sunday. So, without further delay, the injury report roundup for Week 17 of the 2014 season.

Browns at Ravens

Connor Shaw starts at quarterback for the Browns with Brian Hoyer (shoulder/bicep) doubtful to play. Cornerback Joe Haden (shoulder) and defensive tackle Desmond Bryant (thumb) are questionable and defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin (ankle) won’t play. The Ravens probably won’t have left tackle Eugene Monroe (ankle, questionable). Defensive end Chris Canty (ankle/thigh) and linebacker Terrell Suggs (back/thigh) are both questionable.

Jaguars at Texans

It looks like Jaguars defensive tackle Roy Miller (knee) will miss the season finale after being listed as doubtful. Tight end Garrett Graham (ankle), linebacker Mike Mohamed (concussion), wide receiver DeVier Posey (calf) and quarterback Tom Savage (knee) are all out for the Texans.

Chargers at Chiefs

The Chargers are in the playoffs with a win, but they’ll have to do it without running back Ryan Mathews (ankle, out). Wide receiver Keenan Allen (collarbone) is also likely to miss the game after being listed as doubtful. Center Chris Watt (ankle) is questionable. The Chiefs have their own small chance at a playoff bid, although it won’t be easy to get there without quarterback Alex Smith (lacerated spleen). Running back Jamaal Charles (hamstring/ankle) and wide receiver Dwayne Bowe (shoulder) are both questionable, but expected to be in the lineup.

Jets at Dolphins

An illness has made its way through the Jets this week and left defensive tackle Damon Harrison, safety Dawan Landry and defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson, who also has a toe injury, questionable to play on Sunday. Center Nick Mangold (ankle) and wide receiver Percy Harvin (ribs, ankle) are also questionable. Defensive end Derrick Shelby (ankle), linebacker Jelani Jenkins (foot) and tackle Dallas Thomas (foot) are questionable for the Dolphins.

Bears at Vikings

Quarterback Jimmy Clausen (concussion) is out, which means Jay Cutler is back in charge of the Bears Offense. Safety Chris Conte (back) and kicker Robbie Gould (quad) are also out while defensive end Jared Allen (ribs) and defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff (knee) are questionable. Vikings linebackers Anthony Barr (knee) and Brandon Watts (hamstring) are out and Chad Greenway (knee) is questionable after missing practice all week. Tight end Kyle Rudolph (ankle) is also questionable.

Bills at Patriots

The Bills have been stout on defense all year, but they don’t expect to have defensive tackle Marcell Dareus (knee) or cornerback Stephon Gilmore (concussion) after listing them as doubtful. Running back Jonas Gray (ankle) and cornerback Alfonzo Dennard (hamstring) are out for New England and right tackle Sebastian Vollmer (back) is questionable.

Eagles at Giants

Cornerback Bradley Fletcher (hip) was in danger of losing playing time even before the Eagles listed him as questionable. Giants linebacker Devon Kennard (toe) will miss the final game of a rookie year that saw him come on late and rookie running back Andre Williams (shoulder) is questionable.

Saints at Buccaneers

Saints left tackle Terron Armstead (neck) remains out of the lineup and defensive tackle John Jenkins (abdomen) is questionable. Buccaneers LB Mason Foster (Achilles) is doubtful and safety Dashon Goldson (shoulder) is questionable.

Colts at Titans

The Colts ruled out tight end Dwayne Allen (knee), right tackle Gosder Cherilus (groin) and linebacker Bjoern Werner (hamstring). Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (hamstring) and linebacker Jerrell Freeman (hamstring) were both listed as questionable and guard Hugh Thornton (knee) is probable to make his return to the lineup. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger (shoulder), left tackle Taylor Lewan (ankle), defensive tackle Sammie Hill (foot) and linebacker Kamerion Wimbley (hamstring) are all questionable for the home side.

Cowboys at Redskins

Running back DeMarco Murray (hand, illness) is probable to play in a game that could see him set the single-season Cowboys rushing record. Right tackle Doug Free (ankle) is doubtful and linebacker Dekoda Watson (hamstring) is out. Redskins defensive end Jason Hatcher (knee) is doubtful for the matchup with his old team. Left tackle Trent Williams (shoulder), defensive end Stephen Bowen (ankle/illness) and linebacker Keenan Robinson (knee) are listed as questionable.

Panthers at Falcons

The Panthers have just two injuries heading into the NFC South title game. Linebacker A.J. Klein (ankle) is questionable and running back DeAngelo Williams (hand) is probable. Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (oblique) and running back Steven Jackson (thigh) are questionable, but Jackson looks unlikely to play. Cornerbacks Robert McClain (illness) and Josh Wilson (hamstring) are also questionable for Atlanta.

Raiders at Broncos

The Raiders listed rookie linebacker Khalil Mack (hamstring), tackle Menelik Watson (foot, ankle) and cornerback T.J. Carrie (ankle) as questionable. Cornerback Chimdi Chekwa (hamstring) and wide receiver Denarius Moore (knee, ankle) are out. Linebacker Brandon Marshall (knee) is out for Denver while safety T.J. Ward (neck) and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (hip) are questionable. Quarterback Peyton Manning (thigh) is probable.

Lions at Packers

Running back Joique Bell (Achilles) and wide receiver Calving Johnson (ankle) are probable for the Lions. Everyone else is available for the Lions except for defensive tackle Nick Fairley (knee). Quarterback Aaron Rodgers (calf) is good to go for the Packers, who have again ruled out cornerback Davon House (shoulder).

Rams at Seahawks

Cornerback E.J. Gaines (concussion) is doubtful for the Rams, who are in good health otherwise. The Seahawks ruled out wide receiver Jermaine Kearse (hamstring), but left tackle Russell Okung (chest) is expected to play after being listed as probable. Tight end Cooper Helfet (ribs), wide receiver Chris Matthews (hamstring), cornerback Tharold Simon (shoulder) and center Max Unger (knee, ankle) are questionable.

Cardinals at 49ers

Quarterback Drew Stanton (knee) won’t play for Arizona, leaving Ryan Lindley to start for the second straight week. Linebacker Larry Foote (knee) is doubtful and safety Deone Bucannon (knee), tight end John Carlson (calf), guard Jonathan Cooper (wrist) and defensive tackle Dan Williams are questionable. Running back Carlos Hyde (ankle), wide receiver Stevie Johnson (knee) and safety Eric Reid (concussion) have been ruled out for the 49ers. Cornerback Tramaine Brock (hamstring), linebacker Ahmad Brooks (thumb), cornerback Perrish Cox (shoulder) and wide receiver Bruce Ellington (hamstring) have been listed as questionable.

Bengals at Steelers

The Bengals listed wide receiver A.J. Green (biceps) as probable for the AFC North title decider. Cornerback Adam Jones (illness), linebacker Emmanuel Lamur (hamstring), cornerback Chris Lewis-Harris (illness), safety Reggie Nelson (illness), cornerback Terence Newman (illness) and wide receiver James Wright (knee) will all be weekend calls after drawing questionable tags. The Steelers hope to get safety Troy Polamalu (knee) and cornerback Ike Taylor (shoulder, forearm) back in the secondary after listing them as questionable.

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Andre Johnson’s not up on all this pay cut talk

Tennessee Titans v Houston Texans Getty Images

It’s a good thing Christmas is over, because the next family reunion might not be so pleasant for one NFL wide receiver.

After Andre Johnson’s uncle/adviser Andre Melton told the Houston Chronicle that Johnson “doesn’t mind having a pay cut,” Johnson himself had a different take.

Who said that?” Johnson said, via Tania Ganguli of ESPN.com, who was then helpful enough to point out it was good old Uncle Andre.

“Really?” Johnson said. “I don’t know where that came from. I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.”

Johnson’s $10.5 million base salary might need adjusting for him to have a future with the Texans, but he said he hasn’t had any conversations about it.

“I never made any statements about no pay cut or anything because nobody ever approached me about a pay cut,” Johnson said. “Like I said, I’ll cross that bridge whenever it comes. . . .

“I don’t know where that story came from. It wasn’t, did it say that I said it? I can’t speak for nobody else. I only can speak for what I say. I didn’t make that statement.”

Now it’ll be interesting to see how many more statements his uncle makes, or whether he gets thrown out to the curb with the old Christmas tree.

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Tough break: Sharp bettors reportedly backed K.C. before Smith’s injury

Denver Broncos v Kansas City Chiefs Getty Images

More than any other factor, injuries to starting quarterbacks move point spreads.

No surprise, then, that the Chargers-Chiefs point spread moved about a field goal toward San Diego on Friday after Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith was ruled out with a lacerated spleen.

The Chiefs, who were 3.5- to 4-point favorites vs. the Chargers, are now just one-point favorites at most Nevada sports books, per VegasInsider.com line movement records.

However, here’s a more interesting element of the story: per Micah Roberts of “The Linemakers” of the Sporting News, professional bettors wagered on Kansas City just before Smith’s injury was announced this morning, driving up the point spread. Then, the Smith injury news hit, and down the line went, leaving early bettors with tickets at the higher prices in an unenviable spot.

It’s clear sharp bettors had no idea Smith was hurt; if they knew he were out and wanted to play the Chiefs all the same, they would have waited to get a better price.

“It’s one of the strangest examples of bad time timing I’ve seen,” William Hill U.S. head bookmaker Nick Bogdanovich told Roberts. “It was a legitimate move by sharp money on the Chiefs. They were moving it everywhere. This is just another example of the crazy stuff that routinely happens in Week 17.”

Chase Daniel will start in place of Smith for Kansas City (8-7), which needs a win, a Baltimore loss vs. Cleveland and a Houston loss or tie vs. Jacksonville to make the postseason.

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Houston, Watt, Dumervil vie for Deacon Jones Award

Justin Houston AP

The Deacon Jones Award, which goes to the player who leads the NFL in sacks, is a three-man race.

Kansas City’s Justin Houston leads the NFL with 18.0 sacks heading into Week 17. He’s followed closely by Houston’s J.J. Watt at 17.5, and Baltimore’s Elvis Dumervil at 17.0. One of them will almost certainly finish the season as the sacks leader; fourth place Connor Barwin, at 14.5 sacks, is probably out of range.

Watt led the league in sacks in 2012 and Dumervil led the league in 2009, but the Deacon Jones Award was only created last year after the death of Jones, a Hall of Famer recognized as not only one of the greatest pass rushers ever but as the man who originated the term “sack.” The inaugural winner last year was Robert Mathis of the Colts.

Houston might seem to be the favorite to earn the award because he currently has the lead, but Watt and Dumervil are well positioned to pass him on Sunday. Houston will face Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, who has only been sacked 29 times in 15 games this season. Watt gets to feast on Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles, who has been sacked 50 times in 13 games, while Dumervil faces Cleveland’s Connor Shaw, an undrafted rookie playing in his first game on Sunday.

Houston, Watt and Dumervil are all playing for a spot in the playoffs on Sunday as well, so they’re probably not thinking much about individual recognition. But one of them will get the recognition that comes with the top spot on the sack list for the 2014 season at the end of the day on Sunday.

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Todd Gurley will make himself available for the NFL Draft

Todd Gurley AP

Georgia running back Todd Gurley won’t be drafted quite as high now as he would have two months ago.

But after seeing his season ended with a knee injury, he’s not taking a chance on further devaluing of his draft stock.

According to Seth Emerson of the Macon Telegraph, Bulldogs coach Mark Richt confirmed the anticipated news Friday, saying: “He’ll be moving on.”

Had Gurley declared his intentions when he was suspended for making money off his signature, he’d have likely been a first-rounder. But the torn ACL he suffered in November will cause his stock to plummet.

With memories of Marcus Lattimore’s failed attempt to make it in the NFL fresh in the minds of the league, it’s hard to know how high a pick someone will be willing to gamble. The 49ers rolled the dice with a spare fourth-rounder on the former South Carolina back, who never regained his pre-injury form.

Gurley’s not going to risk such a repeat injury, however, making the only fiscally responsible decision he could.

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William Hayes, Alec Ogletree draw fines after fight with Giants

Alec Ogletree, Andre Williams AP

Earlier this week, Rams linebacker Alec Ogletree said he hadn’t heard from the league about a fine for his late hit on Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham that helped touch off a brawl that led to three ejections in the 37-27 Giants win.

Perhaps the fine letter was on Santa’s sleigh because Ogletree has been fined for the hit. PFT has confirmed with the league that Ogletree was fined $8,268 for hitting Beckham and taking him to the ground out of bounds, something the Giants took issue with in a way that led to punches being thrown. Giants wide receiver Preston Parker and defensive end Damontre Moore were ejected along with Rams defensive end William Hayes.

Hayes has been fined $10,000 for his actions, which is less than the $15,000 penalties handed down to each of the Giant miscreants. Beckham was also fined $10,000 for kicking at Ogletree during the mayhem on the sideline.

With Giants defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins and Rams defensive end Eugene Sims also drawing $16,537 fines for roughing the passer, the game wound up being a costly one for several players on both sides.

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49ers send Alex Boone to IR, sign Trindon Holliday

San Francisco 49ers v Seattle Seahawks Getty Images

Alex Boone got a late start on the 2014 season thanks to a holdout that kept him out of training camp and his year is coming to an early end as well.

Boone won’t play in the team’s final game of the year after being placed on injured reserve because of a knee problem. There’s no indication that the injury will force Boone to miss any offseason work, so he should be back on the field in the spring to play out the final year of the contract he reworked before reporting to work with the 49ers this season.

Boone made 14 starts this year and was named as a Pro Bowl alternate. The 49ers also placed safety Ray Ventrone on injured reserve with a groin injury.

To fill the open roster spots, the 49ers signed kick returner Trindon Holliday and cornerback Cameron Fuller. Holliday spent the summer with the Giants before eventually being released off of injured reserve and played one game with the Buccaneers before getting his walking papers in November. Fuller was promoted from the practice squad.

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Eugene Monroe unlikely to play on Sunday

San Francisco 49ers v Baltimore Ravens Getty Images

It looks like the Ravens will be without both of their starting offensive tackles against the Browns on Sunday.

The team listed left tackle Eugene Monroe as doubtful to play in the regular season finale because of an ankle injury that left him in a walking boot after last Sunday’s loss to the Texans. That designation is used for players that have a 25 percent chance of playing and, as you’d expect, most players given that tag wind up inactive on Sunday.

The Ravens placed right tackle Rick Wagner on injured reserve with a foot injury early in the week, so they’re looking at a lot of shuffling up front. James Hurst played in place of both tackles last week and the Ravens has him at left tackle with Marshal Yanda at right tackle and John Urschel at right guard at one point. That could be the alignment again this weekend, although left guard Kelechi Osemele has also played some tackle.

Baltimore will open the day with a shot at a Wild Card spot in the AFC. They need to beat the Browns and have the Chargers lose to claim that berth.

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