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Belichick tries to “move on” from Hernandez talk

Belichick AP

Patriots coach Bill Belichick took to the podium to talk about the Aaron Hernandez situation before training camp started, and though he read from a statement, he was initially as expressive as at any point in recent memory.

He talked about sadness and shock, but did his best to shut down questions about Hernandez after his opening remarks, falling back on the standard line of not commenting on an ongoing criminal investigation.

He referred to Hernandez as “an individual who happened to be a New England Patriot,” and said he was “personally disappointed and hurt in a situation like this.”

But for the most part, he did his best to avoid commenting on any specific thing regarding Hernandez, even when asked about any red flags they might have saw during the pre-draft process, or the process they went through when they select players.

“It’s time for the New England Patriots to move on,” he said at one point.

He also said players were advised not to comment on the situation, meaning there should be more nothing flowing from New England in the coming days, including tomorrow when his captains speak to reporters.

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Report: Shareece Wright set to sign with Ravens

DENVER, CO - AUGUST 29:  Running back Ronnie Hillman #23 of the Denver Broncos carries the ball against the defense of defensive back Shareece Wright #24 of the San Francisco 49ers during preseason action at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on August 29, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the 49ers 19-12.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images) Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers obliged in releasing cornerback Shareece Wright on Saturday. Now they’ll get to see him lining up in another uniform this weekend.

According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, Wright is going to sign with the Baltimore Ravens, who just happen to be playing the 49ers this Sunday.

Wright didn’t play in any of the first four games of the season for the 49ers and asked to be released by the team. That wish was granted on Friday and Wright began free agent visits with a stop in Indianapolis on Monday.

However, the Ravens apparently providing a more appealing option with an opening on the roster due to the loss of Will Davis for the year to a torn ACL.

Wright started 27 games for the San Diego Chargers over the last two seasons.

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NFL says it didn’t request suspension of Twitter accounts over copyright violations

Unknown Getty Images

Hours before the NFL found itself in the middle of a controversy regarding clock operation, the NFL found itself in the middle of a controversy regarding the operation of certain Twitter accounts.

The popular account for the website was suspended temporarily by Twitter based on complaints filed by the NFL under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The league contends that it did not request that any accounts be suspended.

“The NFL sent routine notices as part of its copyright enforcement program requesting that Twitter disable links to more than a dozen pirated NFL game videos and highlights that violate the NFL’s copyrights,” the league said in a statement forwarded to PFT and other media outlets. “We did not request that any Twitter account be suspended.”

The NFL also forwarded a copy of the notice sent to Twitter. It makes no mention of suspension of the offending accounts. Per the NFL, Twitter received similar notices from other sports leagues and conferences, including UFC and the Big 12.

Still, Twitter’s zeal may be related to its content and advertising deal with the NFL.

At the heart of the fight is whether copyright laws permit short video clips, known as GIFs, to be disseminated under the “fair use” concept. The NFL, which zealously protects its intellectual property rights (indeed, if those rights are actively enforced, they can at some point be forfeited), believes that the republication of any portion of game footage violates copyright laws.

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NFL not commenting on clock error near end of Steelers-Chargers game

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 13: The NFL shield is painted in gold and black after a game between the Cleveland Browns and the New York Jets  at MetLife Stadium on September 13, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The new color scheme is to commemorate this years' Super Bowl witch will be the 50th edition. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images) Getty Images

The NFL avoided another Monday night mess, thanks to Pittsburgh’s ability to drive the length of the field and score a touchdown with 2:38 on the clock. But even though the outcome of the game wasn’t affected, a mess quickly has emerged.

The clock inexplicably ran for 18 seconds after a kickoff went out of the end zone, with 2:56 becoming 2:38 before the clock stopped running.

According to Kevin Seifert of (who is reporting on the issue at a time when ESPN, which broadcast the game, has still said nothing about it on the air), the NFL has declined comment on the issue.

Mike Pereira of FOX Sports, a former NFL V.P. of officiating, points out via Twitter that the league office hires local people to operate the clock during the regular season. Non-locals are used only during the playoffs.

The NFL surely can’t hide from this one for long. Too many people have noticed it, even as the network that broadcast the game continues to not mention it on the air.

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Steelers’ touchdown avoids another NFL officiating controversy

images Getty Images

If the knee of Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell had struck the ground before the ball broke the front of the plane of the goal line, the NFL would have faced a second straight Monday night officiating controversy.

On a night when plenty of Steelers fans were in San Diego, the clock operator apparently wasn’t waving a Terrible Towel. The kickoff from the Chargers following a 54-yard field goal that put the home team up by three sailed out of the end zone with 2:56 to play. And when the play ended the clock inexplicably started to tick, with a total of 18 seconds bleeding off before stopping at 2:38.

That’s based on the clock shown at the bottom of the ESPN screen. At one point, Steelers quarterback Mike Vick is seen walking onto the field, and the game clock can be seen running in the background from 2:48 all the way to 2:38, at a time when the clock should not have been running.

No one noticed it at the time. Not the officials, not ESPN.

Well, not everyone at ESPN. Producer Jason Vida tweeted about it, calling it a loss of 24 seconds. The correct number seems to be 18.

Either way, it would have been a major mess for the NFL if the Steelers had failed to score on the final drive due to the clock running out. It should still be a mess for the league and ESPN, because someone should have noticed it and done something about it before the Steelers took their first snap after the kickoff.

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Le’Veon Bell last second TD run gives Steelers win over Chargers

at Qualcomm Stadium on October 12, 2015 in San Diego, California. Getty Images

Le’Veon Bell took a direct snap from center in a wildcat formation, leaped over a fallen defender and scored from 1-yard out on the final play of the game as the Pittsburgh Steelers grabbed a 24-20 victory over the San Diego Chargers on Monday night.

After a 16-yard pass from Michael Vick to Heath Miller moved Pittsburgh to the Chargers 1-yard line with 5 seconds remaining, the Steelers elected to go for the game-winning touchdown instead of the tying field goal. The Steelers had one timeout left but wouldn’t have been able to stop the clock if Bell was stopped short.

Bell extended the ball over the goal line as time expired to give the Steelers the victory.

Antonio Gates caught two touchdowns in his first game back from suspension as the Chargers tried to hold onto the late lead. Josh Lambo’s 54-yard field goal gave the Chargers the 20-17 lead with just under three minutes left to play.

Vick led the Steelers on an 12-play, 80-yard drive to win the game. Vick completed a third down pass to Darrius Heyward-Bey to move the chains, scrambled for a 24-yard gain and then hit Miller to move to the Chargers’ 1-yard line. Due to a personal foul on San Diego, the clock stopped with five seconds to play and the Steelers didn’t have to use their final time out, which gave them the hope of running a play and then the potential game-tying field goal if necessary.

Instead, Bell’s run would have taken too long and the game would have ended had Bell not broken the plane of the end zone.

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Antwon Blake pick-six gives Steelers lead over Chargers

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 28:  Antwon Blake #41 of the Pittsburgh Steelers recovers a fumble during the fourth quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at Heinz Field on December 28, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Getty Images

Cornerback Antwon Blake undercut a throw intended for Malcom Floyd and returned the interception 70 yards for a touchdown to give the Pittsburgh Steelers a 10-7 lead over the San Diego Chargers.

With Pittsburgh’s offense struggling to move the football, Blake’s interception provided a different way into the end zone.

The Steelers have been unable to drive inside the Chargers 25-yard line as both offense have struggled to find points.

Antonio Gates, in his first game back from suspension, has the only points for San Diego.

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Steve Spurrier retires, effective immediately

Steve Spurrier AP

Long-time college football coach Steve Spurrier, a former NFL quarterback who failed in two years as the head coach in Washington, has retired from coaching. Per multiple reports, the retirement is effective immediately.

Spurrier, once atop the perpetual “A” list with a sense that a jump to the NFL from the University of Florida was inevitable, accepted an offer to coach Washington in 2002. He generated a record of 12-20 through 2003, ruffling the feathers along the way of colleagues he chided regarding the workaholic culture of pro coaching.

“I saw a story saying [former Saints coach] Jim Haslett comes in at 4:30 every morning — that’s not doing him much good,” Spurrier said at the time.

Spurrier retires at a time when nothing is doing him much good at South Carolina, the school he has coached since leaving Washington. Some have suggested that, given the timing, Spurrier isn’t retiring but quitting. Unless there’s a health-related reason for the decision, that’s probably a fair assessment.

And it should be a lesson for every college football player. If coaches are going to quit during the season or, more commonly, bolt from the program for a better offer elsewhere, players should start putting their own interests first, too.

Whether that means sitting out for that third year after high school before become eligible for theNFL  draft or withdrawing from school after suffering a knee injury and focusing on rehab and preparation for the draft or simply walking away for the final games of a lost season, cognizant that participating in a handful of meaningless contests will do nothing to enhance the player’s draft stock and everything to jeopardize it, there’s nothing wrong with making that kind of decision — even if the coach and everyone else connected to the university will try to make the player think there is.

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Steelers lose safety Will Allen with ankle injury

Lance Kendricks, Will Allen AP

As the Steelers try to keep the Chargers from adding to their 7-0 lead, they’ll have to do it without their starting strong safety.

Will Allen suffered an ankle injury in the first quarter of Monday night’s game in San Diego. The Steelers have announced that he’s out for the rest of the game.

The injury could give safety Shamarko Thomas a chance to get back in the coaching staff’s good graces. The presumed heir apparent to Troy Polamalu, Thomas has lost his starting job. A dumb penalty near the end of the quarter, hitting Chargers punt returner Jacoby Jones after a fair catch, could cause Thomas to lose his position on special-teams, too.

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Bobby Wagner, Jordan Hill injured Sunday for Seahawks

Bobby Wagner, Andy Dalton AP

Sunday’s blown lead in Cincinnati for the Seahawks included a couple of potentially significant injuries.

On Monday, coach Pete Carroll said that linebacker Bobby Wagner has a strained pec, and defensive tackle Jordan Hill has a strained quadricep muscle.

“It looks like Jordan might be [out] a couple weeks,” Carroll told reporters. “I don’t know about Bobby yet.”

The Seahawks host the 4-0 Panthers on Sunday, followed buy a short-week trip to Santa Clara to face the 49ers. Given that the Panthers have a habit of playing the Seahawks close (January’s 31-17 loss in Seattle wasn’t as lopsided as the score suggested), the Seahawks will need Wagner, who returned a fumble for a touchdown against the Bengals.

Hill has performed well this year, providing valuable depth when Brandon Mebane was injured.

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Antonio Gates is back, scoring his 100th touchdown

Antonio Gates AP

It didn’t take Chargers tight end Antonio Gates long to make an impact in his return from a PED suspension.

The Chargers threw three passes to Gates on their first offensive possession tonight against the Steelers, and Gates caught all three of them, the last one for a touchdown.

That touchdown was the 100th of Gates’s career, moving him into a tie with Hall of Famers Steve Largent and Tim Brown for seventh place on the all-time receiving touchdown list. Gates is 11 touchdowns away from No. 6 Tony Gonzalez, who is first among tight ends.

Some, like Hall of Fame tight end Shannon Sharpe, would argue that Gates’s PED suspension tarnishes his legacy. But based purely on his on-field accomplishments, there’s no doubt that Gates has left a legacy as one of the finest tight ends ever to play the game.

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Julio Jones held out of Monday’s (sort of) practice

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The Falcons just held a walkthrough Monday, but per NFL rules had to file a participation and injury report ahead of their Thursday night game at New Orleans.

These Monday injury reports are basically just projections. If they were real, each team coming off a Sunday game would list about 50 players as limited by soreness, general fatigue and a poor attitude.

As is, it’s notable that the Falcons listed Julio Jones as a non-participant Monday due to lingering hamstring and toe injuries. After Sunday’s overtime win over the Redskins, Jones said he’ll be ready to play Thursday.

Falcons center Robert Person has an ankle injury, and Falcons coach Dan Quinn talked as if James Stone will start in place of Person. Linebacker Justin Durant also didn’t practice.

Running back Devonta Freeman and wide receiver Leonard Hankerson were listed as limited.

The Saints did not practice Monday. Their projected injury report listed tackle Terron Armstead (knee), wide receiver Marques Colston (shoulder), guard Tim Lelito (shoulder), punter Thomas Morstead (quad), defensive back Damian Swann (concussion) and defensive end Bobby Richardson (hip) as out. Limited were safety Jairus Byrd (knee), guard Jahri Evans (knee) and defenisve tackle John Jenkins (elbow).

Colston suffered what’s thought to be a significant shoulder injury Sunday vs. the Eagles.

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Floyd, Verrett, Fluker and Watt all active for MNF

Malcom Floyd AP

The Chargers had a long list of injured players classified as questionable for Monday Night Football, but most of them are active and expected to be available against the Steelers.

The players who had been listed as questionable but are in uniform include Jacoby Jones, Jahleel Addae, Jason Verrett, Brandon Flowers, Malcom Floyd, D.J. Fluker and Chris Watt. Fluker and Watt, especially, are notable activations because the Chargers played last week against the Browns without three starting offensive linemen; Orlando Franklin and King Dunlap are still out this week.

The team had listed Franklin, Stevie Johnson, Craig Mager and Tourek Williams as out, and Dunlap had been listed as doubtful. Donald Brown and Donald Philon are the other inactives.

The Chargers say Chris Hairston will again start at left tackle for Dunlap and Kenny Wiggins will start at left guard in place of Franklin.

Steelers cornerback Cortez Allen is out. He had been listed as questionable due to a knee injury. Backup nose tackle Daniel McCullers is also inactive; he had been listed as probable with a knee injury and it’s likely his deactivation is not related to injury.

The other Steelers’ inactives are Ben Roethlisberger, Ryan Shazier, Anthony Chickillo, Chris Hubbard and Jesse James. Roethlisberger will miss at least two more games with a knee injury, and Shazier is missing his third game with a shoulder injury.

The Steelers won’t activate wide receiver Martavis Bryant from his suspension until Tuesday so he’s not among the inactive players tonight.

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DeMarcus Ware could miss a game with back injury

DeMarcus Ware AP

In the aftermath of Sunday’s win over the Raiders, the news regarding the back injury suffered by Denver linebacker DeMarcus Ware was encouraging. The injury for which Ware was carted off wasn’t believed to be serious.

It’s serious enough that he could miss Sunday’s game against the Browns, per a source with knowledge of the situation.

The current thinking is that Ware will miss the game at Cleveland and then return to action after the bye week, for a Sunday night game against the Packers. Ultimately, however, his status will depend on healing and discomfort.

The injury has been described both as a strain and as spasms. Regardless, anyone who has had back problems knows that it’s hard to do anything when there’s a problem. Then, when it resolves, it’s as if nothing even happened.

For the Broncos, the sooner Ware gets to the point where it’s as if nothing ever happened will allow the Broncos to keep making bad things happen to opposing offenses.

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Shareece Wright visits Colts

hi-res-053d72609a9997da0aacb8378ddf836c_crop_north AP

On Saturday, cornerback Shareece Wright got what he wanted — his walking papers from the 49ers. On Monday, his effort to find a new team began.

Per a league source, Wright visited the Colts.

It was a visit, not a workout. But Wright presumably doesn’t need to work out for anyone. His agents, Synergy Sports International, has said via Twitter that seven teams are interested in Wright.

The agency also praised the 49ers for “doing the right thing” and released Wright, even though they paid him $1.5 million to sign and owe him the balance of his $850,000 base salary as termination pay.

It’s unknown at this point who else is interested in Wright, but it’s obvious he has options. Even if the 49ers, who deactivated him for the first four games of the year, didn’t view him as one.

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Chris Long out a week or two with hyperextended knee

Chris Long AP

The news on Chris Long’s knee is better than it looked when Long went down on Sunday.

Long is likely to miss a week or two with a hyperextended knee, Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Long does not have ACL or MCL damage.

With the Rams heading into their bye week, it’s possible that Long won’t miss a single game. The Rams’ next game is October 25 against the Browns.

Long, who missed 10 games last year with an ankle injury, has started all five games this year and has two sacks.

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Patriots work out Nicks, Pead, Kasa

New York Giants v San Diego Chargers Getty Images

The Patriots are one of the league’s busiest teams when it comes to working out free agents, and PFT confirms the team had wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, running back Isaiah Pead and tight end Nick Kasa in for a look Monday.

Nicks, 27, is looking for work after playing in every game with the Colts last season and starting six. Nicks posted 1,000-yard seasons with the Giants in 2010-11.

Pead was released by the Rams when the team knew that Todd Gurley was ready to debut. A second-round pick in 2012, Pead has just 19 career carries. He tore his ACL in the preseason in 2014.

A sixth-round pick in 2013, Kasa was waived last May after failing a physical. He missed all of 2014 after tearing his ACL in training camp.

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Report: MRI confirms torn ACL for Jamaal Charles

Jamaal Charles AP

The early word out of Kansas City was that running back Jamaal Charles tore his right ACL on Sunday afternoon against the Bears and the MRI has reportedly confirmed that diagnosis.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the tests showed Charles indeed suffered the tear in his right knee. It’s a season-ending injury, obviously, and Charles should be ready in time for next season if his rehab progresses without any serious difficulties.

Charles tore his other ACL in 2011, so he’s familiar with the road ahead. He rebounded well from that injury, rushing for 4,193 yards from 2012 until going down again over the weekend.

Charcandrick West ran seven times for 31 yards against Chicago and the Chiefs also have Knile Davis on the roster at running back. There’s been some talk of using De’Anthony Thomas out of the backfield more often and the team is also looking at veterans Ben Tate and Pierre Thomas this week as they prepare for life without Charles.

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Haden in concussion protocol

Joe Haden, Harry Douglas AP

Browns cornerback Joe Haden is in the NFL’s concussion protocol, Browns coach Mike Pettine confirmed Monday, leaving Haden’s status for next Sunday’s game vs. the Broncos in doubt.

Haden was taken to the locker room after landing awkwardly early in the fourth quarter of the Browns’ overtime win in Baltimore Sunday. The two-time Pro Bowler missed the previous week’s game at San Diego due to a finger injury suffered in practice.

The Browns got top nickel cornerback K’Waun Williams back from a concussion against the Ravens. Pierre Desir is the likely starter against the Broncos if Haden can’t play.

The Browns will be back on the practice field Wednesday, and starting quarterback Josh McCown might need an extra day of rest after he rolled his ankle in the overtime period. Free safety Tashaun Gipson missed the Ravens game with an ankle injury, and the Browns think the debut of running back Robert Turbin could be close as he recovers from an ankle injury.

Browns linebacker Scott Solomon, who missed time earlier in the season with an ankle injury, will miss more time with a knee injury. The Browns are thin at outside linebacker but gave second-round rookie Nate Orchard his most extensive playing time against the Ravens.

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USC fires Steve Sarkisian, and an NFL ripple effect could follow

Philadelphia Eagles v Houston Texans Getty Images

USC has fired head coach Steve Sarkisian, opening up one of the most attractive jobs in college football — a job that may draw interest from NFL coaches, including Chip Kelly.

“After careful consideration of what is in the best interest of the university and our student-athletes, I have made the decision to terminate Steve Sarkisian, effective immediately,” USC athletic director Pat Haden said in a statement. “I want to thank Clay Helton for stepping into the interim head coach role, and I want to add how proud I am of our coaching staff and players and the way they are responding to this difficult situation. Through all of this we remain concerned for Steve and hope that it will give him the opportunity to focus on his personal well being.”

Speculation will immediately turn to Philadelphia, where Kelly is known as a coach the USC brass would love to have. Despite a big win for the Eagles yesterday, it’s an open question whether Kelly has what it takes to succeed in the NFL. But there’s no question that he has what it takes to succeed in college, and if he has any interest in going back to school, USC and Kelly would be a great fit.

Raiders coach Jack Del Rio and Rams coach Jeff Fisher both played at USC and have both been mentioned in the past as potential USC head coaches, although both seem like extreme long shots at this point.

Another possibility in the NFL is Bills offensive coordinator Greg Roman. Although Roman has never been a head coach at any level, he knows the Pac-12 well after working as an assistant to Jim Harbaugh at Stanford before Harbaugh brought Roman along to the 49ers.

USC has major resources and is determined to get this coaching hire right after getting the first two hires of the post-Pete Carroll era (Lane Kiffin and Sarkisian) very wrong. If the USC athletic department makes an NFL coach its top target, that coach will get a very tempting offer.

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Bears place Jacquizz Rodgers on injured reserve

Jacquizz Rodgers AP

Running backs Jacquizz Rodgers and Antone Smith were once teammates with the Falcons and now both men will be in the Bears organization at the same time as well.

The only catch is that only Smith will be playing for Chicago for the rest of the season. Rodgers broke his arm in Sunday’s victory over the Chiefs, leading the team to place him on injured reserve Monday and sign Smith to take his spot on the roster.

“I think he’s a guy who kind of surpassed probably our expectations and contributed on the field whether it was on offense or in the kicking game,” coach John Fox said of Rodgers, via the Chicago Tribune. “He’s a guy that will be missed but over time he’ll get better and we’ll get back in the future.”

Rodgers had 14 carries in the first five weeks, which was second behind Matt Forte, and saw a lot of time on special teams for Chicago. Ka’Deem Carey and Jeremy Langford join Smith, who broke his leg with the Falcons last year, behind Forte on the updated depth chart.

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