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Jairus Byrd getting second opinion on sore foot

Jairus Byrd AP

The Bills waited a long time for safety Jairus Byrd to report to the team this offseason and now they’re waiting to find out if he’s going to miss time after reporting because of a sore foot.

In a near replay of what went on with defensive end Mario Williams at the start of training camp, Byrd has gone to North Carolina to see Dr. Robert Anderson for a second opinion on his foot. Byrd reported to the team a little more than a week ago and has been a limited participant in practice while picking up the new defense and dealing with his ailing foot. For now, coach Doug Marrone is choosing not to worry.

“It’s not a concern yet until Dr. Anderson says something,” Marrone said, via the team’s website.

Between Byrd’s less than enthusiastic responses to questions about how he feels being back with the team and his foot issue, Byrd’s return to Buffalo isn’t off to a particularly rousing start. Should things continue on similar lines, it will be a concern for the Bills defense regardless of what Dr. Anderson has to say about Byrd’s foot.

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Report: T.J. Lang doesn’t need ankle surgery, hopes to return after bye

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The Packers lost right guard T.J. Lang to a left ankle injury after the first series of their game against the Saints last Sunday night, but it doesn’t look like that his absence will extend too long as a result.

Rob Demovsky of reports that Lang avoided structural damage when he went down while blocking on the extra point after the Packers Offense opened the game with a touchdown. Per Demovsky, the injury was diagnosed as a sprain and there’s no timetable for his return as yet.

The Packers are on their bye this week, which allows Lang a good chunk of time to recover before the team would need to make a decision about his status for their Week 10 date with the Bears.

Lane Taylor replaced Lang against the Saints and had a bad moment when he got pushed backward on a failed fourth down conversion try by running back Eddie Lacy. Demovsky suggests that J.C. Tretter could also be an option if Lang can’t play. Tretter was set to start at center this year, but landed on injured reserve with the designation to return because of a knee injury. Corey Linsley has done a solid job at center and could remain there even though Tretter is now eligible to return.

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Hernandez’s lawyers advance unusual argument to support change of venue

Hernandez AP

Former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez remains on track to stand trial in January for the June 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd.  His lawyers remain interested in moving the trial out of Bristol County, the site of the crime.

According to John R. Ellement of the Boston Globe, Hernandez’s lawyers have fashioned a somewhat unusual argument in support of their position that the case should be moved.  They contend that the prosecution essentially plagiarized the work of the federal prosecutors opposing a change of venue in the Boston Marathon bombing case.  Hernandez’s lawyers contend that, if the state-level prosecutors really cared about keeping the case against Hernandez in Bristol County, they would have come up with their own arguments.

“Leaving aside all of the reactions one might have on many levels to this extensive, undisclosed submission of another’s work to a court, the conduct appears to convey a lack of interest on the part of the Commonwealth in fashioning its own vigorous opposition to Hernandez’s motion for a change of venue,” Hernandez’s attorneys wrote, via Ellement.  “By simply cutting and pasting the work of others, the Commonwealth conveys the message that a recycled opposition is sufficient to blunt Hernandez’s motion for a change of venue.  In so doing, the Commonwealth greatly misapprehends the well-founded basis for Hernandez’s motion and the unique circumstances of this case.”

Prosecutor Samuel Sutter downplayed the notion that the use of portions of the filing in the Dzhokhar Tsarnaev prosecution in any way undermines the state’s opposition to the requested change of venue in the Hernandez case.

“To the extent that both the Tsarnaev and Hernandez change of venue motions raise the same basic legal issues, we were required to cite the same Supreme Court cases setting out the governing law as the US Attorney’s Office,” Sutter said.  “Any experienced legal observer would understand that this is a standard practice.”

Without actually seeing the documents, it’s impossible to know whether Sutter’s staff simply cut and pasted the mechanical portion of the analysis that sets forth the appropriate legal standard and cites the past cases from which those rules emerged — or whether they actually lifted verbatim the specific arguments made by the lawyers applying those standards to the facts of the case.  While it’s very common for portions of briefs and memos and written judicial opinions to be used again and again and again in similar documents, the idea that prosecutors would borrow arguments specific to the facts of one case to a difference case seems bizarre, to say the least.

Then again, it’s possible that the same issues in the Tsarnaev case arise in the Hernandez case, and that Sutter’s staff liked the arguments that the feds used in the Tsarnaev case.  Even then, it would be odd if anything other than relevant legal standards and citations were cut and pasted from one case to another.

Ultimately, there’s nothing “wrong” about using content from other legal documents.  Lawyers are loathe to reinvent the wheel, and nothing in a legal brief is protected by copyright.  But it’s a way for Hernandez’s lawyers to make the prosecution look bad and/or sloppy, both to the judge and to anyone who may hear about this specific wrinkle and ultimately serve on the jury.

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Jason Verrett will miss a few weeks, may need surgery after season

San Diego at Denver Getty Images

Chargers cornerback Jason Verrett may have been pushing it coming back for the Broncos game.

And now he’s going to have some time off, and decisions to make later.

According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, Verrett will miss the next two to three weeks because of his latest shoulder injury, and “will look at surgical options after the season.”

That certainly sounds like a Band-aid approach to something that could bother him even after he returns, which makes time to heal something he obviously needs. And there’s no guarantee that he’ll be back at all if he doesn’t progress over the next few weeks.

The first-round pick was an important part of their defense, and it’s easy to see the temptation to push him for the Broncos game since fellow starter Brandon Flowers was out with a concussion.

Now, it remains to be seen how effective Verrett can be when he does return.

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Jerry Jones defends his presence on the Cowboys’ sideline

jerryjones AP

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has no plans to stop his practice of visiting the sideline during games, saying he thinks he can help inspire the team with his presence.

Jones, who went on the sideline during Monday night’s loss to Washington, said it was important for him to be there after Tony Romo suffered a back injury.

“No. 1, I wanted to go down there and do what I could, look our guys in the eye, look at them, inspire them to overcome Romo not being out there and overcome what I thought was a critical time,” Jones said on KRLD, via the Dallas Morning News. “First of all, I’ve been down there hundreds of ball games. Everyone that follows it has certainly seen it, either criticized it or whatever or lived with it. Secondly, if you look around this league, you’ll see owners, I noticed Bob McNair down there during the entire, almost first half when we played Houston. But you’ll see owners all the time on the sideline. I’m not going to say all the time, you’ll see certain owners down there a lot. But that’s from that standpoint. I know for a fact you see a lot of management people on the sideline.”

Jones said that if people think he’s out of place on the sideline, they’re wrong. Jones believes that in order to do his job running the team, he needs to see the team up close.

“It’s just not an issue,” Jones said. “I’ve always felt that seeing the attitude, seeing what’s going on, getting the pulse, looking at who’s in to it, looking at how they’re into it, looking at how they’re reacting on the sideline, all of that is just part of understanding the team, getting to be a better decision-maker.”

Jones didn’t buy the Cowboys to be a hands-off owner. It’s his team and his stadium, and he’ll go wherever he pleases.

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Jarvis Landry is the AFC special teams player of the month

Miami Dolphins v Chicago Bears Getty Images

Wide receiver Jarvis Landry couldn’t do enough to beat out Sammy Watkins as the NFL’s offensive rookie of the month for October, but his performance for the month still earned him some honors from the league.

Landry has been named the AFC special teams player of the month. Landry averaged 35.6 yards per kickoff return for the month, which was good for second-best in the league in October, and also had four punt returns for 16 yards.

Landry is averaging 31.3 yards per return for the season, which is the best in the league among regular returners and would be the best in Dolphins franchise history if Landry is able to keep it up for the entire season.

The Dolphins made Landry the 63rd pick in the draft in May and he’s settled into a role on offense in addition to his kick return duties. Landry has 25 catches for 255 yards and a touchdown, which is short of Watkins territory while still being a second way that he’s making the Dolphins’ decision to add him to the roster look like a smart one.

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Dennis Pitta a few months away from knowing if he can play again

Dennis Pitta AP

Tight end Dennis Pitta is out for the rest of the season after fracturing and dislocating his hip for the second time is any many seasons, but he joined the Ravens at a team Hallowwen function on Wednesday night.

Pitta was appropriate costumed in a hospital gown and wheelchair with his wife dressed as a nurse and his young son in a doctor’s coat. Pitta’s real doctors performed surgery on his hip the day after his Week Three injury and he has some more healing to do before he can start rehab and find out whether or not he will be able to continue his playing career.

“In a few months, we’ll see how I’m feeling and how things are going, and we’ll be able to make some determinations then,” Pitta said, via the Baltimore Sun. “It’s still too early to kind of tell, and I’ll continue on like I did last year and get myself ready to get back on the field.”

Pitta said there was doubt that he could return after his first injury, but he was on the field before the 2013 season came to a close. That’s obviously not a possibility this time around and even Pitta’s confidence that he’ll “get through again” may not be enough after lightning struck for a second time.

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Perfect month nets Shayne Graham NFC special teams honors

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v New Orleans Saints Getty Images

A lot of people have expressed concern about various parts of the Saints roster this season as they’ve opened up with a 3-4 record over the first two months of the season.

Kicker Shayne Graham hasn’t been one of the players to elicit worry from observers, though, and his performance in October was good enough to make him the league’s choice as the NFC special teams player of the month.

Graham made all nine field goals and all nine extra points he tried in the month and had 14 points in last Sunday night’s victory over the Packers. Graham made three field goals in each of the team’s three games in October — they had a bye in Week Six — and was the only kicker in the league to hit that many field goals in each of his team’s outings.

While the NFL has closed the deliberations on the top players of the month, Graham will get a chance to add to his October totals on Thursday night when the Saints face the Panthers in the final contest before the calendar turns to November.

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Rashad Jennings won’t play on Monday night

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Earlier this week, Giants running back Rashad Jennings said that his sprained MCL had not healed enough for him to return to action.

Nothing has changed over the last few days. As a result, Giants coach Tom Coughlin announced Thursday that Jennings will miss a third straight game when the Giants host the Colts on Monday night.

The Giants were hopeful that Jennings would be able to return this week after injuring his knee against the Falcons in Week Five, but things are taking a bit longer to get right for a player who had given a major boost to the Giants running game before getting hurt. They’ll hope to have him back when they continue a rough stretch of the schedule that features a Week 10 trip to Seattle and home games against the 49ers and Cowboys.

Rookie Andre Williams and Peyton Hillis will be the Jersey outfit’s top two backs against the Colts, who will be trying to rebound defensively after getting torn apart by Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in last Sunday’s loss.

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PFT Live: Emmitt Smith, Week Nine picks

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The Cowboys have the league’s most productive running back in DeMarco Murray and find themselves in first place in the NFC East at the halfway point in the season.

Having the league’s top back and being one of the league’s top teams went hand in hand when Emmitt Smith was toting the rock in Dallas, which makes it a good time to check in with the Hall of Famer to see what he thinks about his old team. Smith will join Mike Florio on Thursday’s edition of PFT Live to share his thoughts about Murray, the Cowboys and this weekend’s matchup with the Cardinals, who happen to be another former employer of Smith’s.

That Cowboys-Cardinals game is the biggest in the NFC this weekend, although it probably can’t knock Broncos-Patriots from the top spot among all games. Florio and MDS will share their picks for those two games and all the rest of the action from Week Nine during Thursday’s show.

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

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C.J. Mosley named defensive rookie of the month

Baltimore Ravens v Cincinnati Bengals Getty Images

The Ravens were looking for a new inside linebacker to anchor their defense when they selected C.J. Mosley in the first round of this year’s draft and the early returns have been good.

Mosley has started all eight games of his brief NFL career and has helped the Ravens allow the second fewest points of any team in the league. The NFL found his play in October to be impressive enough to name him the league’s defensive rookie of the month.

Mosley had 42 tackles in four games in October, good for third best in the entire league, and led the Ravens in tackles in three of their four games. He also had two interceptions, which leaves him in an unexpected tie with defensive tackle Haloti Ngata for the team lead in interceptions through the first two months of the regular season.

Should Mosley keep it up in the second half of the season, the defense should remain one of the stingiest in the league and he’ll have a good chance of reaching the playoffs in his first year as a professional player

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Sammy Watkins is the NFL’s offensive rookie of the month

Watkins Getty Images

Fully aware that new owners may choose to go in a new direction, current Bills management went all in on draft day, trading a first-round pick and a fifth-round pick in 2015 for the ability to move up five spots in the draft and select receiver Sammy Watkins.

In the same month that Terry and Kim Pegula became the new owners of the franchise, Watkins secured the NFL’s offensive rookie of the month award.

The first Bills player ever to be named offensive rookie of the month, Watkins made the game-winning touchdown catch against the Vikings in Week Seven.  He also had two 100-yard receiving games in October, and his 20-yard catch with 21 seconds remaining against the Lions helped set up the game-winning field goal.  Watkins’ effort to catch a ball that had been thrown behind him also may have prevented an interception that would have caused the Bills to lose.

Against the Jets on Sunday, Watkins generated 157 on only three catches, including a 61-yard touchdown and an 84-yard catch and run that ended with a premature touchdown celebration.

Far more importantly than any individual prizes, the Bills are 5-3 at the bye week.  Which puts them in good position to celebrate the 15th anniversary of their most recent playoff berth by getting back to the postseason.

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DeMarco Murray is NFC offensive player of the month, again

DeMarco Murray AP

Two months into the season, Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray has won two NFC offensive player of the month awards.

The NFL announced today that Murray is the player of the month for October. He was also the player of the month for September. Murray has been nothing if not consistent: He had 520 rushing yards in October and 534 rushing yards in September and has gained between 100 and 167 rushing yards in every game this year.

With 1,054 yards this season, Murray is leading the league by nearly 300 yards and is on pace to break Eric Dickerson’s single-season record of 2,105 rushing yards.

Murray is in good company by winning his second straight player of the month award: The only two other running backs to win back-to-back NFC offensive player of the month awards were Barry Sanders in 1997 and Emmitt Smith in 1992.

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Everson Griffen wins NFC defensive player of month award

Griffen Getty Images

October was a pretty good month for the Vikings’ front office.  Twenty-five years after the failed Herschel Walker trade, the Vikings have seen first-round picks Anthony Barr and Teddy Bridgewater begin to blossom.  Likewise, Seattle’s decision to give receiver Percy Harvin to the Jets for a bowl of room-temperature gazpacho validates Minnesota’s no-intent deal that brought in a first-round pick, a third-round pick, and a seventh-round pick for a guy who no longer wanted to be there and they no longer wanted.

Now, the player on whom they took the biggest gamble in 2014 free agency has been named the NFC defensive player of the month.

Defensive end Everson Griffen, whose $42.5 million contract was based largely on potential and not production, racked up six sacks in four October games.  He has 8.0 sacks in eight games, putting him third in the league and first among all defensive ends.

He’s the first Viking to win the award since the guy he replaced, Jared Allen, did it in 2011.

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Tom Brady named AFC offensive player of the month

Tom Brady AP

A month ago, there were people wondering if Tom Brady was too old.

Those people are getting hard to find at the moment.

The Patriots quarterback was named AFC offensive player of the month after four straight standout games.

Brady had a 129.1 passer rating, with 1,268 yards and 14 touchdowns, leading the Patriots to four wins.

Of course, the next game will be a showdown at several levels, as he’s facing off against old foe Peyton Manning, but also the AFC’s defensive player of the month in Broncos linebacker Von Miller.

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Von Miller’s sack streak leads to AFC defensive player of the month

Philip Rivers, Von Miller AP

The weather is starting to cool, and Von Miller is just heating up.

The Broncos linebacker was named AFC defensive player of the month for October after a dominating string of performances.

Miller had 7.0 sacks during the month, which led all NFL players. He’s working on a streak of six consecutive games with a sack.

More importantly, he’s helped the Broncos to a 4-0 record over the last month, as the defense has done its part to help quarterback Peyton Manning and an offense that is just assumed to be handling its business.

The Broncos have allowed 258.8 yards per game over the last four, the best mark in the league over that stretch.

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