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Report: Matt Flynn “solidifying” hold on quarterback job

Matt Flynn AP

Last year, Matt Flynn entered training camp with expectations that he’d be the winner of the Seahawks’ quarterback job only to become the first victim of Russell Wilson’s rookie year assault on the NFL.

Flynn’s in Oakland now and he again came into camp as the presumptive favorite for the starting job and the first week hasn’t done anything to change that. The Associated Press reports that Flynn is “solidifying” his hold on the starting job and continues to hold a clear edge over Terrelle Pryor and rookie Tyler Wilson.

“I took away a lot of things from Seattle last year,” Flynn said. “But the thing that I took away the most was that I want this even more now, even more this year. I’m blessed to have another opportunity at this, and I’ll try to take advantage of it and do as much as I can to not let it get away from me.”

While he isn’t naming Flynn the starter right now, coach Dennis Allen said that the quarterback competition is playing out “about like I expected.” With Pryor still working on nailing down proper throwing mechanics and Wilson no longer getting the raves he received during spring work, the signs continue to point to Flynn’s second shot at a starting job being the charm.

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Report: Luke Kuechly cleared from concussion protocol

CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 27:  Luke Kuechly #59 of the Carolina Panthers looks on from the sidelines while out for the second consecutive week of concussion protocol against the New Orleans Saints during their game at Bank of America Stadium on September 27, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Panthers have won their first four games despite the absence of linebacker Luke Kuechly for almost all of those contests, but it looks like they’ll have him back in the lineup this week.

Kuechly has been out since suffering a concussion in the season-opening victory over the Jaguars and Jonathan Jones of the Charlotte Observer reports that he is out of the league’s concussion protocol after being cleared by an independent neurologist. Assuming there are no setbacks in practice over the next couple of days, he should be in the lineup against the Seahawks on Sunday.

A.J. Klein filled in for Kuechly while he was recovering and did a solid job in the middle of the Panthers defense. Kuechly brings more to the table, however, and should boost the Panthers’ chances of keeping their undefeated string going against Seattle.

In addition to bumping Carolina to 5-0, a win over Seattle would exorcise some demons from recent games against the Seahawks. The Panthers have lost to Seattle four times in the last three years with all three regular season losses coming by less than seven points.

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Johnsons have turned Cardinals’ rushing average from worst to first

David Johnson, Quandre Diggs AP

It’s no surprise that the Cardinals are a good team this year. They were a good team last year, too, until they lost starting quarterback Carson Palmer and backup quarterback Drew Stanton.

But it is a surprise that the Cardinals are winning thanks in large part to a dramatic turnaround in their running game. Last year, the Cardinals were dead last in the NFL with an average of 3.3 yards a carry. This year the Cardinals are first in the NFL with an average of 5.0 yards a carry.

Free agent signing Chris Johnson has proven that he’s far from washed up, having carried 79 times for 405 yards, an average of 5.1 yards a carry that is his best since his 2,006-yard season in 2009. And rookie David Johnson has added 91 yards on 18 carries, also an average of 5.1 yards a carry. The emergence of the Johnsons has pushed Andre Ellington, last year’s leading rusher, down the depth chart. But Ellington has played well in limited action, reeling off a 63-yard touchdown run on Sunday in Detroit.

Even when Palmer was healthy last year, the Cardinals were a fairly one-dimensional offense. This year the Johnsons have turned them into a balanced attack, and an even tougher team to beat.

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NFL reviewing San Diego clock error

cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpwzjzjyyytmzyzfjnmyyztg5ywnjntlhzjfjmtljnmzj AP

Last night, the NFL had no comment in the immediate aftermath of a Monday night game that could have been marred by a bizarre clock error prior to Pittsburgh’s final drive of the game. On Tuesday morning, a comment is coming.

According to NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy, the league is reviewing the situation and will have more to say soon.

The ESPN broadcast showed 18 seconds improperly run off the clock, from 2:56 to 2:38, after a San Diego kickoff went out of the end zone. The official clock could be seen ticking off 10 of the 18 seconds while the Steelers were taking the field for the start of the drive.

The Steelers scored a game-winning touchdown on the last play of regulation. If they hadn’t, it would have been a much bigger story.

It’s still a pretty big story, with ramifications that can’t be known without going back to the 2:56 mark and letting the Steelers begin their final drive from that point. Would the 18 seconds have been absorbed into the drive, with the last play still coming as the clock expired? Would they have scored a touchdown with enough time on the clock for the Chargers to try a Hail Mary play or at a minimum a Stanford band clusterfudge?

Those questions shouldn’t matter, because the clock should at all times be accurate. It’s a task that falls into the “you had one job” category, and if the NFL’s current approach isn’t getting that one job done, they need to find a way to do that one job better.

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Vikings put boxing gloves on Xavier Rhodes in practice

cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpthlzdcxzwyymja2ogq4mzvhowy5ntdiywyyndkzymq4 AP

Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes was flagged for seven penalties in the first four weeks of the season, tying him with defensive end Everson Griffen for most on the team and second-most in the entire league.

Three of those penalties came in Week Four’s close loss to the Broncos and the Vikings want to see Rhodes use his hands in a less damaging way when they resume their season against the Chiefs this weekend. Boxing gloves are part of that plan.

The Vikings had Rhodes practice while wearing the gloves on Monday with defensive backs coach Jerry Gray telling Rhodes “now you can’t grab” after they were slipped on.

“I’ve heard of that technique before; putting boxing gloves on, and make a guy just cover with his feet and his eyes. I think it’s actually a good thing for him,” cornerback Captain Munnerlyn said, via “We know he’s a very physical guy — it shows. With seven penalties on the year, we’re just trying to get it down, and help him get it down. We’re just trying to go out there and be teammates. We want to laugh and joke with him, let him know it’s not a thing that coach is insulting you on, or anything like that. We’re just trying to get you better.”

All three of Rhodes’s penalties against the Broncos came on drives that resulted in points that loomed large in a 23-20 loss for the Vikings. If the gloves can help eliminate such losses in the future, it will be worth any laughing and joking in practice. If they don’t, the Vikings could invite Ray Edwards back for a bout at their forthcoming stadium.

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Mike Nugent sees a maturing Bengals team

Mike Nugent AP

As long-time NFL kicker Jay Feely has said on PFT Live, specialists have a unique opportunity to observe and study a football team. Bengals kicker Mike Nugent, who arrived in 2010, has had the ability to study his team very carefully over the last six seasons.

So what’s different about the 2015 version of the Bengals, which has powered the franchise to its first 5-0 record since 1988?

“One thing I’ve noticed is just certain guys we used to call young,” Nugent said on Monday’s PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio. “When I first got here the first few years a lot of our guys have done such a great job not only on the field but [in] their leadership roles. They used to be the young guys, now they’re the more experienced guys. Kind of taking control, whether that be offense or defense. Our defense is a pretty weathered crew. [It’s] got a lot of guys with a lot of experience. But I think the guys that were young once are getting older and just getting that experience and using it.”

At the center of this Cincinnati maturity spree is quarterback Andy Dalton.

“[He’s] really stepping into that leadership role,” Nugent said. “Really just doing a great job. He looks very commanding when he’s out there in the huddle. . . . I think everyone’s kind of buying in and rolling with him.”

Helping teammates roll with Dalton is the fact that he’s been getting rocked on the field, but he keeps going. Quietly, he’s becoming more of a weapon in the running game, with a pair of read-option keepers against Seattle and a savvy decision to audible to a short touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Through it all, Dalton was getting banged around with both legal and illegal hits.

“There’s certain guys on the field people just feed off of and the quarterback is certainly on of those guys,” Nugent said. “Just the toughness that he shows. He shows a lot of energy and gets excited about certain plays. Everyone sees that and just feeds off it and it kind of makes our sidelines get excited along with him at the time.”

The ultimate excitement on Sunday came from Nugent’s foot, with a game-tying field goal nailed from 31 yards with the final seconds ticking off the clock and a 42-yard game winner in overtime that banked off the upright.

For the full Nugent interview from Monday’s show (which was nearly as exciting as watching the flight of an overtime field goal), click the thing in the thing below.

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PFT’s Week Six power rankings

Tom Brady AP

1. Patriots (4-0; last week No. 1): That AFC Finalist banner is gonna get stuck in a place where banners aren’t supposed to go.

2. Packers (5-0; No. 2): This team won’t lose at home. As long as the Giants don’t show up there in January. Again.

3. Bengals (5-0; No. 4): If these are the “same old Bengals,” ever team should aspire to be the “same old Bengals.”

4. Broncos (5-0; No. 3): The fact that coach Gary Kubiak had to say he’s not benching Peyton Manning shows how tenuous this team’s 5-0 record is.

5. Falcons (5-0; No. 5): The Falcons avoided a pothole. Now, they’ll drive all over the Saints.

6. Cardinals (4-1; No. 6): With a trip to Pittsburgh up next, Bruce Arians gets a shot at the team that “retired” him.

7. Panthers (4-0; No. 7): With the Seahawks and Packers coming up, the Panthers will soon be paying the price for winning the division last year.

8. Jets (3-1; No. 9): Sheldon Richardson is back, which means the Jets should be even better.

9. Giants (3-2; No. 13): They should be 5-0. 3-2 is still good enough to lead one of the worst divisions in football.

10. Steelers (3-2; No. 12): Before anyone crowns the team from Cincinnati, the Steelers will have something to say about the AFC North.

11. Seahawks (2-3; No. 8): To anyone who thinks Russell Wilson isn’t worth his contract, consider where this team would be right now without him.

12. Rams (2-3; No. 10): With the intersection of an underground landfill fire and a radioactive dump not far from their practice facility, the Rams should spend their bye week in any place but St. Louis.

13. Bills (3-2; No. 14): Sixteen years later, it was a different kind of Music City Miracle in Nashville.

14. Cowboys (2-3; No. 11): The bye week is a perfect time to bid farewell to Brandon Weeden.

15. Vikings (2-2; No. 16): With the Chiefs coming to town, Vikings fans of a certain age will be hearing “65 toss power trap” in their nightmares.

16. Colts (3-2; No. 20): Andrew Luck, Matt Hasselbeck, Bert Jones, John Unitas. Does it really matter against the Patriots?

17. Browns (2-3; No. 21): With Peyton Manning coming to town, Josh McCown will be happy to see he’s not the oldest quarterback on the field.

18. Raiders (2-3; No. 18): When it comes to offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave, Vikings fans know what Raiders fans are currently experiencing.

19. Chargers (2-3; No. 19): At least they won’t have to worry about hosting any playoff games in San Diego after applying for permission to relocate to L.A.

20. Ravens (1-4; No. 15): Jim Harbaugh should join John on the sidelines for the trip to San Francisco.

21. Washington (2-3; No. 22): Despite the loss in Atlanta, they need to be taken seriously. Especially in a division that shouldn’t be taken seriously.

22. Dolphins (1-3; No. 23): From Oklahoma drills to trying to drill Tennessee. Fail, and it’s over.

23. Bears (2-3; No. 30): What a difference a competent head coach makes.

24. Eagles (2-3; No. 27): A win over the Saints will do little to quiet the chatter of Chip Kelly to USC. Either one of them.

25. Buccaneers (2-3; No. 28): If they could get more really bad teams on the schedule, they could contend.

26. Chiefs (1-4; No. 17): Has any season turned more dramatically from the first half of Week Two through the end of Week Five?

27. 49ers (1-4; No. 31): Yes, the 49ers could win 12 this year. If the NFL expands the regular season to 82 games.

28. Titans (1-3; No. 24): If they knew how to finish, they’d be at least 3-1.

29. Texans (1-4; No. 25): They benched Brian Hoyer too quickly. They stayed with Ryan Mallett too long. With Hoyer back, they have one last chance to turn it around.

30. Jaguars (1-4; No. 26): For owner Shad Khan, there’s a point where patience becomes apathy.

31. Saints (1-4; No. 29): For the latest installment of the Saints-Falcons rivalry, Saints fans may be egging the Saints buses.

32. Lions (0-5; No. 32): If the 2015 Lions lose at home Sunday against the Bears, the 2008 Lions may be able to put the 0-16 champagne on ice.

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Report: Daniel Fells’ football career likely over after MRSA

Keenan Robinson AP

The game ball the Giants dedicated to tight end Daniel Fells is likely the last one he’ll ever earn.

According to Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News, a source close to Fells believes that the damage done to Fells’ foot from a MRSA infection are such that his “playing days are all but over.”

Fells has already had five surgeries, and more are on tap as doctors try to fight the infection. While there were reports that he had lost part of his foot, the Daily News reports that is not the case.

Still, the source said “I would be really surprised” if he plays football again.

Giants coach Tom Coughlin was upbeat about Fells’ chance for a recovery, saying it was his understanding that the tight end’s condition was improving, and that he had shown steady improvement after the infection had spread to a bone in his leg and another procedure was performed to stop it.

“I don’t think he’s out of the woods,” Coughlin said. “I didn’t say that. I think these three straight days are really a wonderful sign, but there are more tests to be done. And again the response to the antibiotic is critical.”

Fells has been hospitalized since Oct. 2, but the Giants connected him to Monday’s team meeting via Skype to share the news about the game ball with him.

“Everyone was able to cheer him on and try to make him feel better,” Coughlin said. “He was very nice in saying that he watched the game and he was very proud of how we finished it.”

Now, they have to support his recovery to health, if his football playing days are indeed finished.

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Bernard Pierce has a concussion, which may explain strange play

Bernard Pierce AP

It appeared that Jaguars running back Bernard Pierce had simply done something bone-headed. But there may have been extenuating circumstances, namely a head injury.

During a Buccaneers punt return last week, Pierce got turned around and, instead of trying to tackle the returner, ended up blocking a Bucs player instead. It made the rounds of the Internet, and everyone pointed and laughed at those silly Jaguars, caught in another zany mishap.

Except, it stopped being funny when Pierce was diagnosed with a concussion after the game.

Via, the only explanation Gus Bradley offered for the play was the concussion, without explicitly saying that was the cause.

It’s not a good play at all,” Bradley said. “When I saw it I couldn’t believe it, but I know he’s in the concussion protocol. I know after the game he had concussion symptoms. That’s where I’ll leave it at that, the play itself if you watched it.”

Asked if Pierce had suffered the concussion previously, Bradley replied: “I don’t know. I imagine so. . . .

“Yeah, I’m sure, I mean he’s in the concussion protocol. It’s just unfortunate that he had those symptoms and that play happened.”

What’s most unfortunate is that Pierce suffered a brain injury at some point, and that no one on the Jaguars staff, a teammate or the league’s trained spotters noticed, and he was allowed to continue playing. While making a foolish-looking play has made him the butt of jokes, the fact no one caught his injury before it could have become even worse is a serious problem.

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Marshawn Lynch expected back this week for Panthers game

Denver Broncos v Seattle Seahawks Getty Images

The Seahawks found out they could still run the ball without Marshawn Lynch, but they’d still rather be with him.

According to Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times, the Seahawks expect Lynch to return to the lineup Sunday when they face the Panthers, after he missed two weeks with a hamstring strain.

Rookie replacement Thomas Rawls ran for 169 yards in last week’s loss to the Bengals, which is the most yards for a Seattle back in a single game since Shaun Alexander went for 201 against the Packers in 2006.

“Normally, Marshawn comes in and out pretty regularly, so we’ll just pump [Rawls] in there and see how many carries that amounts to,’’ Carroll said. “Usually it’s about eight or 10 carries on a regular game. We’ll see how that goes. …

“We’re going to feel real comfortable about him in the two spot, coming in off the bench. There’s no reason for him not to play, he’s done a great job for us, and I would say he’s probably exceeded our expectations at this point.’’

An undrafted rookie averaging 5.6 yards per attempt will generally exceed expectations, but it also gives the Seahawks some hint of what life after Lynch might be like. They still leaned on veteran Fred Jackson late in the game, but Rawls has done an impressive job behind what has been a shaky offensive line this season.

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Rex: Tyrod Taylor is “beat up right now”

NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 11:  Quarterback Tyrod Taylor #5 of the Buffalo Bills grimaces after receiving a late hit by the Tennessee Titans during the second half of a game at Nissan Stadium on October 11, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images) Getty Images

Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor’s legs helped save the day in Nashville on Sunday as he reeled off several big runs in the second half to bring the Bills back for a 14-13 win over the Titans.

At the end of one of those runs, Taylor was dragged down from behind by linebacker Zach Brown on what the officials ruled was a horse collar tackle and had to leave the game for a play after he was slow to get back to his feet. Blows like that have left Taylor nursing some wounds as this week gets underway.

“I can tell you this: He is beat up right now,” Ryan said, via the Buffalo News. “He’s sore. You ought to see him — he is sore. We knew he would be. Guys, he hasn’t been 100 percent all season.We all know he finished the game, but we’ll see how he’s doing. We’ll be looking at him throughout the week and everybody else that we have. He’s sore now, I can tell you that much.”

Taylor was listed on the injury report before Week Four because of an ankle issue that Ryan says dates back to training camp, but he wasn’t on the injury report last week at all. Based on Ryan’s Monday comments and the league’s rules about injury reporting, it seems like a good bet that he’ll wind up on the report this time around.

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Tom Brady on pace for NFL’s first 5,500-yard passing season

Tom Brady AP

It wasn’t that long ago that a 5,000-yard season in the NFL was an extraordinary achievement. But now 5,000-yard seasons are a regular occurrence in the NFL, and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is heading toward the next milestone: 5,500 yards.

Brady has 1,387 yards in four games, an average of 346.8 yards a game that puts him on pace for 5,548 yards this season. If Brady keeps his current pace, he’ll have the first 5,500-yard season in NFL history.

For years, the record for passing yards in a season belonged to Dan Marino, who threw for 5,084 yards in 1984. The 5,000-yard season at that time was a huge accomplishment, and Marino’s record stood for 27 years. But now there have been eight 5,000-yard seasons, and the number doesn’t seem as special. The current record belongs to Peyton Manning, who passed for 5,477 yards in 2013.

Brady may make 5,500 yards the new benchmark for great passing seasons.

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Tuesday morning one-liners

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 20:  Shane Vereen #34 of the New York Giants in action against the Atlanta Falcons during their game at MetLife Stadium on September 20, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Bills need to get pressure on Andy Dalton in Week Six.

The Dolphins defensive line knows they’ve played below expectations.

“It’s just another game” was the party line for the Patriots when asked about facing the Colts.

Jets DE Sheldon Richardson wants to get after the quarterback after wrapping up his suspension.

The Ravens aren’t thinking about changes to the coaching staff.

Giovani Bernard has given the Bengals a versatile running game.

Browns DT Danny Shelton has to keep his emotions in check.

Said LB Arthur Moats of the Steelers defense, “I feel like we’re starting to contribute more every week, getting better and making plays at big moments.”

T Duane Brown said any Texans turnaround has to start with the offensive line.

Can the Colts stop the run this weekend?

Jaguars coach Gus Bradley was upset over his team’s loss to the Buccaneers, but major changes don’t seem to be coming.

After being conservative on offense all day, Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt regrets being aggressive with his last play call.

The Broncos depth has helped them keep winning despite injuries.

Experience helps drive Chiefs coach Andy Reid’s decision-making process.

The Raiders plan to focus on their rushing attack during the bye week.

Being close to winning wasn’t enough for the Chargers on Monday night.

What will go into the Cowboys’ quarterback decision?

RB Shane Vereen has brought new wrinkles to the Giants offense.

Eagles coach Chip Kelly discussed the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty he received in Sunday’s win.

A breakdown of Redskins QB Kirk Cousins’s overtime interception by Cousins.

Bears coach John Fox called “frustration” with WR Alshon Jeffery’s injury understandable.

Unhappiness with the Lions’ 0-5 start goes all the way to the top of the organization.

LT David Bakhtiari says he isn’t concerned about the Packers offense.

Rookie LB Eric Kendricks is moving into a bigger role with the Vikings.

Falcons CB Robert Alford bounced back from some early struggles against the Redskins.

The Panthers want to do more than just play the Seahawks close this time.

Saints QB Drew Brees is on pace to be sacked more than 50 times.

The Buccaneers aren’t happy with the play of the secondary.

West Virginia is the home base for the Cardinals this week.

The Rams released RB Trey Watts rather than add him to the 53-man roster after he served a four-game suspension.

There were some encouraging signs in the 49ers’ loss to the Giants.

Musings about whether the Seahawks’ time as a top dog has come to an end.

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Pete Carroll admits Michael Bennett “lost his mind a little bit” when attacking Andy Dalton

Andy Dalton, Michael Bennett AP

Sunday’s loss by the Seahawks to the Bengals included a moment in the first half when Seattle defensive lineman Michael Bennett went after Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton following a turnover, hitting him three times and drawing a flag.

“He just lost his mind a little bit and went after the quarterback too aggressively,” coach Pete. “I’ll tell you this, in the old days in interception returns that was kind of the style that you go after the quarterback and you tried to get a shot on him. That was like back in the sixties. Unfortunately, it was a real mistake.”

Yes, it was a real mistake. And Bennett is going to pay for it. And it won’t be in 1960s dollars.

Which means he’ll have less money to purchase a substance that would mellow him out a little — you know, a substance he’s banned from using but that he can legally purchase in Washington and that he can smoke without consequence as long as he’s not in the program and has already had his annual substance-abuse test.

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Report: Falcons “uncertain” about Julio Jones for Thursday

ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 04: Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons stiff arms Benardrick McKinney #55 of the Houston Texans after a reception in the first half at the Georgia Dome on October 4, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Falcons filed an injury report after holding a walkthrough on Monday and they listed wide receiver Julio Jones as out because of hamstring and toe injuries.

Jones has been a regular on the injury report in recent weeks and dropped from being probable in Week Four to questionable for Week Five’s game against the Redskins. Jones played, but the quick turnaround to playing on Thursday could make this week more problematic.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the Falcons are “uncertain” about whether Jones’s hamstring will be well enough for him to play when the team takes on the Saints. Jones said after Sunday’s game that he expected to play even though he won’t be 100 percent.

“I know you can’t play this game 100 percent,” Jones said, via “It’s very rare that you can be able to play this game at 100 percent. You can do one thing; you can’t do both: You can’t pray and then worry at the same time. I pray, and that’s it. And then I just go play. Whatever happens, happens.”

Tuesday will bring an actual practice for the Falcons and a chance to see if Jones will participate, although his importance to the team probably means a full session isn’t a prerequisite for being in the lineup in New Orleans.

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Philip Rivers: We have no time to feel sorry for ourselves

SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 12:  Quarterback Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers reacts on the sidelines during a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Qualcomm Stadium on October 12, 2015 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images) Getty Images

Losing a game the way the Chargers lost on Monday night is the kind of thing that can linger for a team.

The Steelers offense couldn’t do anything for much of the night, but the Chargers kept them in the game with turnovers, a missed field goal and their own inability to consistently move the ball on offense. Then their defense cracked in the fourth quarter on a long pass to Markus Wheaton and a 12-play, 80-yard drive that culminated in Le’Veon Bell’s winning touchdown as time expired.

It’s a painful way to lose a game, but one that the Chargers were focused on moving past as quickly as possible after the game. Safety Jahleel Addae said they can’t let the Steelers beat them twice in reference to the shortened week that will take the Chargers into a game at Lambeau Field next Sunday and quarterback Philip Rivers echoed that sentiment.

“Every loss is tough,” Rivers said, via the team’s website. “This one came down to the last play … talk about being a game of inches, it was just that. If we made a few plays here or there, it may have been different. But it isn’t, and shoot, we’ve got no time to mope around and feel sorry for ourselves because the place we’re going next week, it’s going to be an even tougher challenge.”

Thanks to a slew of injuries, the date with the Packers would loom as a very tough one even if Bell had been ruled down short of the end zone. Bell wasn’t, however, and the Chargers will be trying to shake off the loss while trying to figure out a way to avoid dropping to 2-4 next weekend.

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Dan Campbell’s latest trick: Changing the seating chart

Dan Campbell AP

In his latest attempt to “change the culture” of the Dolphins, interim coach Dan Campbell has started with changing the seating chart.

Among the other changes the roaring new boss of the Dolphins has made, he shuffled the locker room over the bye week, putting players together by positional groups, according to Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald.

“I went to my spot and Zach Vigil was in there,” tight end Jordan Cameron said. “I was like, ‘What is this guy doing?’”

It’s a bit of a corny trick designed to foster some intramural camaraderie, and when the next coach lets players intermingle again, it’ll be sold as “having the team come together as one.”

But Campbell’s down there running Oklahoma drills in practice and saying brash things, so let’s let him have fun with it while he has the chance.

Of course, a more fundamental change for the Dolphins would be not falling behind early, as they’ve been outscored 37-3 in first quarters, which has forced them to throw more than they want to play catch-up.

“Two things have to happen: Either we have to get off to a fast start early or if you do end up a little bit behind, you have to stop the bleeding somehow, whether it’s on offense or defense,” Campbell said. “We can’t continue to live in the world we’ve been living in. That’s the bottom line.”

And until they can build a new foundation, they can at least rearrange the furniture.

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Andrew Luck says he was able to practice “without limitations”

Andrew Luck AP

Whatever the Colts did in practice yesterday, quarterback Andrew Luck was a full participant in it, as far as you know.

And if you were looking for more clarity from Luck himself, it wasn’t there either.

It feels better every day,” Luck said after whatever he did, via Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star. “It was great to go through practice without limitations, in a sense, and get out there and throw. It was better.”

That “without limitations” part is probably the key if we’re parsing, which we’re kind of forced to do with coach Chuck Pagano has adopted a cloak-and-dagger approach to the topic, saying he’s had “supreme confidence” each of the last two weeks, while Luck has missed those games with a shoulder problem.

“It was good. It’s another step in the right direction,” Luck said of his work. “It’s always fun to get out and practice on a beautiful day and prepare for a great team coming to town.”

Oh, yes, the opponent. With the Patriots coming to town Sunday night, there’s naturally a little more interest, based on that whole thing that began with last year’s AFC Championship Game.

“Every game is important,” Luck said. “This certainly is a big game. It’s the next game. And it is a very, very good team that’s undefeated coming into town. There certainly is a history between us and them, but it’s also a new year.”

We now leave you to dig into those words for more clues, and track Josh Johnson’s plane, to see if it’s coming or going from Indianapolis today.

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Mike Tomlin on late call: “It was time to go to the mattresses”


Sometimes coaches rely on game film or great coaches of the past for inspiration.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, however, leaned on another classic film, quoting Sonny Corleone last night for his decision to aggressively play for the win.

Asked about his decision to run for the game-winning touchdown rather than kick a potential game-tying field goal on the road, Tomlin quoted a line from “The Godfather.”

It was time to go to the mattresses,” Tomlin said, via Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Of course, it was also a pragmatic decision to hand the ball the Le’Veon Bell.

After all, with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger hurt and his kicking position a revolving door of mishaps this year, it’s reasonable for Tomlin to not trust either Michael Vick or Chris Boswell with the game on the line.

“We did what was required to win,” Tomlin said. “Guys just didn’t let go of the rope.”

The Steelers had a timeout in their pocket, but putting Bell in the Wildcat formation and letting him do it himself was still risky, but the kind of risk that players anticipated.

“I think we would have all been stunned if they sent the field goal team in,” tight end Heath Miller said.

Not as stunned as hearing Tomlin quote a movie that was released the year he was born, but stunned nonetheless.

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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

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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 not 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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