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Report: Dr. Andrews is concerned about how Redskins will use Griffin

Griffin Getty Images

The handling of RG3 has morphed into an exercise in CYA.

Earlier this week, the Redskins leaked to Adam Schefter of ESPN that quarterback Robert Griffin III will start the Week One Monday night game against the Eagles — even though Dr. James Andrews had not yet given Griffin final clearance to play.

Then, after Griffin proclaimed via Twitter on Thursday night that Dr. Andrews has cleared Griffin to play, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said that Dr. Andrews still has “a couple of concerns.”  But Shanahan would shed no light on the specific concerns.

Since then, Trey Wingo of ESPN (who is more host than reporter) reported that “sources” have told him Andrews is less concerned about Griffin’s knee and “much more on how the team plans to use him.”

Schefter, who had the original report that Griffin will start, has retweeted the Wingo report.  Chris Russell of ESPN 980 has tweeted that Dr. Andrews has sent the following text message to Russell:  “[Griffin] is in their hands.  They will take good care of him.”

That’s not necessarily a contradiction of Wingo’s report.  It could mean that Shanahan has addressed Dr. Andrews’ concerns to his satisfaction.  Or it could be Dr. Andrews’ way of sliding away from the impression that he has overstepped his boundaries by clearing a player to play with an asterisk regarding how the coaching staff chooses to deploy him.

Regardless, it’s not the first time this year that Dr. Andrews has demonstrated far less skill with the media than he has with a scalpel.  In January, only days before Griffin’s knee imploded during a playoff loss to the Seahawks, Dr. Andrews told USA Today that Griffin re-entered a game against the Ravens without clearance.

“He didn’t even let us look at him,” Andrews said.  “He came off the field, walked through the sidelines, circled back through the players, and took off back to the field.  It wasn’t our opinion.

“We didn’t even get to touch him or talk to him.  Scared the hell out of me.”

Shanahan disputed the contention, explaining that Andrews specifically cleared Griffin to play.

So what’s going on here?  Although Griffin is healthy, there’s no guarantee he’ll stay healthy.  And the criticism that was heaped on the Redskins for not getting Griffin off the green dirt of FedEx Field during the playoff game will be intensified dramatically if the knee gives out again.

Andrews knows it, and Andrews apparently is trying to distance himself from what he fears could happen again to Griffin.

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Ravens dispute the key allegations in the ESPN report

Cincinnati Bengals v Baltimore Ravens Getty Images

Friday’s report from ESPN says many things about the manner in which the Ravens handled the Ray Rice investigation. The Ravens have now responded to it, with a detailed, written statement addressing numerous contentions contained in the story.

The most important allegations related to Ravens director of security Darren Sanders and Ravens president Dick Cass. The statement contains responses from both men.

As to Sanders, he reportedly had the contents of the elevator video described by an Atlantic City police officer within the hours after the incident occurred.

“I did not receive an account of what happened in the elevator ‘within hours’ of the incident,” Sanders said. “Within a couple of days, I asked the casino and the Atlantic City Police Department for a copy of any videotape of the incident. They said they could not release a copy of the videotape to me. Some days later — I believe it was on February 25 — I spoke to an Atlantic City police official again, asking again whether I could get a copy of the tape or, if not, whether I could come to his New Jersey office and view it. He said I could not, but he did offer to view the tape and describe what he saw. (As I understand it, he was describing a raw video, not the ‘cleaned up,’ ‘smoothed . . . out’ version that appeared on TMZ.) He said that Ray and Janay both appeared to be intoxicated, and that they were involved in a heated argument that began outside the elevator and continued inside. As he described it, Janay appeared to initiate the altercation, but they both spit at and struck each other, resulting in Janay falling and hitting her head against the wall railing. The officer could not tell from the video whether Ray slapped or punched her, but Ray told me very clearly that he did not punch her. It was not clear from the officer’s account whether it was being intoxicated, being hit, or hitting her head against the railing that caused Janay’s apparent unconsciousness.”

Cass reportedly was told by Rice’s criminal defense lawyer that the elevator video is “f–king horrible” and that he “knocker her the f–k out.” Cass also reportedly lobbied for the placement of Rice in a pretrial intervention program, partially in order to keep the video from public view.

“I believe Ray’s criminal defense attorney mentioned the video to me in late May around the time that the court granted Ray’s application for pretrial intervention,” Cass said. “I don’t recall his precise words, but he did say the video looked terrible. I did not ask Ray’s attorney for a copy of the video. I assumed the video would be terrible, because it would show a man striking a woman. But I also thought the video would show a physical altercation where Ray was defending himself with an open hand. My view about the video was also influenced by the fact that the prosecutor and the judge agreed to the ultimate dismissal of all charges against Ray after seeing the video. We had decided several months before to leave fact finding to the court system and the League. As we have said, that was a mistake, and I regret it.

“I did not urge Ray’s defense attorney to follow any particular course of action. I told his attorney that he should do what he felt was in the best interest of his client. I had never even heard of ‘pretrial intervention’ until Ray’s attorney explained it to me. So yes, I agreed with him that pretrial intervention was in Ray’s best interest. Who wouldn’t? It meant the ultimate dismissal of all criminal claims without a trial and the risk of a guilty verdict. Of course, I did not want a criminal trial because of all the adverse publicity associated with a celebrity trial. But I did not think that pretrial intervention would prevent the video from becoming public. I assumed that would eventually occur in any event.”

So while it took three days for the Ravens to respond, Sanders and Cass have provided a potent and pointed response to the ESPN report.

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Bruce Arians called hit on his QB a “cheap shot”

Drew Stanton, Michael Wilhoite AP

The Cardinals were already on their backup quarterback.

But they almost lost Drew Stanton, on a vicious hit from 49ers linebacker Dan Skuta.

Monday, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians made no bones about it, calling it a “cheap shot.”

“No doubt he was sliding,” Arians said, via Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic. “That could have ended his career.”

Arians said the fact Stanton was wearing a mouth guard helped lessen the seriousness of the injury.

But he clearly thinks Stanton wasn’t at fault.

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Niners hopeful Vernon Davis will return next Sunday

San Francisco 49ers v Dallas Cowboys Getty Images

The 49ers are hopeful tight end Vernon Davis‘ absence will span just one game.

According to the club’s Twitter feed, head coach John Harbaugh said he was “optimistic” Davis would be able to suit up for Sunday’s matchup against 3-0 Philadelphia.

Davis exited the Week Two loss to Chicago with knee and ankle injuries. He was inactive for Sunday’s defeat at Arizona, as was second-string tight end Vance McDonald (knee).

The 30-year-old Davis is a key part of the 49ers’ offense. Long one of the game’s fastest tight ends, the 6-foot-3, 250-pound Davis can give safeties, linebackers and cornerbacks fits.

The Niners (1-2) are two games back of the Cardinals and one game behind the Seahawks in the NFC West.

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DeAngelo Hall confirms his season is over

Washington Redskins v Philadelphia Eagles Getty Images

All indications on Sunday were that cornerback DeAngelo Hall was done for the season with a torn Achilles tendon and the veteran confirmed it on Monday.

Hall isn’t wasting any time when it comes to getting his rehab organized. He said that he’s already started reaching out to others, including Lakers star Kobe Bryant, who have suffered the injury to get their advice on the best way to progress.

“I’ve spoke to a couple other athletes, who have had this similar injury. I’m just trying to do my homework, my due diligence make sure I pick the right place [to have surgery],” Hall said, via the Washington Post. “I’m not a spring chicken, so I’ve got to make sure I get it done it the right way. I’ve got to be as patient as possible, attack this rehab and get back out on the field.”

He’ll turn 31 in November and it’s no sure thing that rehab will be a smooth one. Hall signed a four-year deal with the Redskins this offseason, which should afford him every chance to show he’s back to form in 2015.

The Redskins will promote Chase Minniefield from the practice squad to take Hall’s spot on the roster.

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Chip Kelly doesn’t think his practices are a problem

Washington Redskins v Philadelphia Eagles Getty Images

Eagles cornerback Cary Williams raised a few eyebrows Sunday when he followed up an Eagles win by going public with his feelings that the Eagles practiced too hard during the week and that “you can’t continue to run your team into the ground and expect great results.”

Williams said that other members of the Eagles felt the same way, which all but guaranteed that coach Chip Kelly would be asked about it on Monday. Kelly was asked about Williams’s comments and if he thought the team felt they were being worked too hard in practice.

“No,” Kelly said, via the Philadelphia Daily News. “I know we ask our guys to run a lot during practice. I met with Cary just a little while ago, he came in on his own today … I think he was frustrated. I understand that. Cary’s a competitor. I got no issues with Cary.”

Kelly added that he wasn’t bothered by Williams airing his feelings to the media, which should put a pin in this story as long as the Eagles don’t lose a game in which they look exhausted at the opening kickoff.

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Ravens schedule press conference for 4 p.m. ET

Steve Bisciotti AP

The Ravens are ready to talk about the “numerous errors, inaccuracies, false assumptions and, perhaps, misunderstandings” that they believe were included in the ESPN report about their handling of the Ray Rice case.

The team announced Monday afternoon that owner Steve Bisciotti will hold a press conference at 4 p.m. ET in Baltimore. The above quote was included in the Ravens’ statement about the report on Friday, but the team said they would not address what any of them were until after the team played the Browns on Sunday.

Predictably, coach John Harbaugh was asked about the report following that game and said that the team was united in their decision-making in response to a question about the report’s claim that he wanted to cut Rice after the running back was arrested in February. The Ravens parted ways with Rice two weeks ago after the video of him punching Janay Palmer Rice was released by TMZ.

The team took a page out of the NFL’s playbook for Friday’s Roger Goodell press conference by scheduling the press conference for a short time after they made the announcement. We’ll see if the strategy works out any better for them than it did for the Commissioner.

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Report: Kyle Rudolph needs sports hernia surgery

Kyle Rudolph, Jerraud Powers AP

It doesn’t look like Teddy Bridgewater will have tight end Kyle Rudolph to lean on when he makes his first start at quarterback for the Vikings.

Rudolph left Sunday’s loss to the Saints with a groin injury and was expected to have an MRI on Monday to determine the extent of the damage. Albert Breer of NFL Media reports that Rudolph will need to have sports hernia surgery and is expected to miss about six weeks while he recovers.

If that’s the case and the timeline is in the neighborhood that Breer reported, he could be a candidate for injured reserve with the designation to return as the Vikings haven’t used it yet this season.

The Vikings have targeted Rudolph 17 times this season, just behind Greg Jennings for the most of anyone on the team. That would make for a significant absence that the Vikings will try to fill with Rhett Ellison and MarQueis Gray.

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Arian Foster says he’s day-to-day with hamstring injury

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The Texans played without running back Arian Foster on Sunday because they didn’t feel Foster’s hamstring was up to facing the Giants.

Foster was missed. Alfred Blue broke a 46-yard run, but had 32 yards on his other 12 carries and the team was forced to lean too heavily on quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to get their offense moving in a 30-17 loss that wasn’t as close as the final score might lead you to believe.

On Monday, Foster said that his hamstring felt “good” while working out on Sunday although it obviously wasn’t good enough to allay any fears that the team might have had about his condition. While he felt good on Sunday, he wasn’t making any overly optimistic predictions for this week’s game.

Foster, who looked good in running for 241 yards in the two Texans wins that opened the season, described himself as “day-to-day,” which will make his practice status on Wednesday closely watched in both Houston and Buffalo.

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Dolphins won’t commit to Ryan Tannehill as starter

Kansas City Chiefs v Miami Dolphins Getty Images

Well, this should be a fun trip to London for the Dolphins this week.

During his press conference today, Dolphins coach Joe Philbin refused to commit to former first-rounder Ryan Tannehill for their game against the Raiders at Wembley Stadium.

After some early hedging, Philbin was asked specifically if Tannehill would start against the Raiders.

We’ll decide our game plan before we leave to play Oakland,” Philbin replied, via Andrew Abramson of the Palm Beach Post.

The No. 8 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft — selected by a guy who no longer works there — Tannehill has slumped this season.

Tannehill helped them to a win over the Patriots in the opener, but his numbers this season are well off his previous pace. He’s only completing 56.5 percent of his passes, and his passer rating his declined each week to get him to 74.1 for the year.

The option is Matt Moore, and Philbin did everything he could to provide no clarity. Asked if the two were competing this week for the job, Philbin replied: “we’ll utilize the players the best way we see fit.”

Tannehill has shown flashes of competence, but nothing about him suggests that he’s going to be anything more than an average NFL quarterback, at best. Moore has shown similar flashes, and lighting a fire under the starter can’t hurt at this stage.

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Pettine blames himself for Browns’ loss

pettine AP

After the Browns surrendered a fourth-quarter lead and lost to the Ravens on Sunday, Mike Pettine put the blame on himself.

“I thought for the bulk of it the players played well enough to have a victory. I put this one on me. We didn’t coach well enough to win today. I’m not going to get into too much of the specifics until I get a chance to go through it. The list is long,” Pettine said, via the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Pettine didn’t say exactly what he feels he should have done differently. But the Browns had a sloppy fourth quarter in which they picked up four penalties, had a field goal blocked and twice allowed the Ravens to drive into field goal range, resulting in a 21-17 lead heading into the fourth quarter turning into a 23-21 loss. Pettine also acknowledged that the Browns had to burn timeouts because the coaching staff didn’t do a good enough job of communicating to the players what personnel package they were supposed to be in.

That was a tough loss for the Browns to take. Pettine is taking it hard.

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Technically, league is running out of time on Rice appeal

Ray Rice AP

Ten days ago, the NFL indefinitely suspended running back Ray Rice.  Last Tuesday, Rice appealed the suspension.

Six days later, Commissioner Roger Goodell still hasn’t appointed a hearing officer, and no progress has been made toward establishing a date for the appeal.

That could soon become a problem for the league.  Per multiple sources, the following language from the labor deal applies to the resolution of Rice’s appeal: “Appeal hearings under Section 1(a) will be scheduled to commence within ten (10) days following receipt of the notice of appeal, except that hearings on suspensions issued during the playing season (defined for this Section as the first preseason game through the Super Bowl) will be scheduled for the second Tuesday following the receipt of the notice of appeal, with the intent that the appeal shall be heard no fewer than eight (8) days and no more than thirteen (13) days following the suspension, absent mutual agreement of the parties or a finding by the hearing officer of extenuating circumstances. If unavailability of counsel is the basis for a continuance, a new hearing shall be scheduled on or before the Tuesday following the original hearing date, without exception.”

In English, this means that the hearing ideally will be held between Tuesday and Thursday of this week, with the hearing held no later than next Tuesday, September 30 — unless the hearing officer decides that the circumstances prevent it, or the NFL and NFLPA agree to delay it.

The NFLPA accidentally cited the offseason rule in the announcement of the Rice appeal, and it’s possible the NFL will claim that this operated as a waiver of the stricter in-season timetable. That would be a flimsy argument, however; the rules are plainly set forth in the labor deal, and the first order of business in any situation where a party must take action by a certain time should be to figure out the last day on which the action can be taken.

The NFL may argue that Goodell’s decision to hand the baton to someone else creates “extenuating circusmtances” that justify a delay, but the league office told PFT last Wednesday that Goodell “never intended” to handle the appeal. So why has he waited 10 days and counting since suspension was imposed to appoint someone to handle it?

There’s a chance the NFLPA won’t make an issue of this. Rice literally (not actually literally, unless there’s a glow we don’t know about) has become radioactive to potential suitors. Whether the hearing happens this week or next week or next month or next year, it won’t change the fact that no one will be rolling out the red carpet for him any time soon.

Still, at a time when the league and the various teams embroiled in controversy have talked openly and repeatedly about “getting it right” despite so many things having gone badly wrong, it would be nice to see that something can be gotten right, especially when that something entails the fairly simple application of a clearly-worded scheduling rule that the NFL has used many times in the past.

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Two more Panthers backs headed to MRI tubes

Jonathan Stewart, Mike Mitchell AP

This is some kind of sick joke.

The Panthers — after years of buying all the running backs — are suddenly out of running backs.

Coach Ron Rivera just told reporters that Jonathan Stewart (knee) and Mike Tolbert (leg) were getting MRIs today on injuries suffered in last night’s loss to the Steelers.

The Panthers were already playing without starter DeAngelo Williams, who has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury and reserve/special teamer Fozzy Whittaker.

That forced them to call undrafted rookie Darrin Reaves up from the practice squad over the weekend, and he is currently atop the depth chart.

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Lions confirm: Stephen Tulloch tore ACL celebrating

Stephen Tulloch AP

It’s bad enough he was compared to a Gramatica.

Now Stephen Tulloch has the entire season to plan his next celebration.

The Lions confirmed that Tulloch tore his ACL yesterday while celebrating a sack, and would be placed on injured reserve.

As difficult a break as it was, Lions coach Jim Caldwell knows it’s hard to curb such celebrations.

“It’s not going to happen,” Caldwell said. “This is an emotional game. We want enthusiasm.”

The Lions thought they ended their bizarre injury luck when they let veteran receiver/pizza delivery guy Nate Burleson go this offseason, but this may be even worse.

In a related development, high fives have been prohibited, and Ndamukong Suh has been given a big, soft, fuzzy boot to wear when he feels like stomping someone.

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Another OL hit: Jason Kelce needs sports hernia surgery

Jason Kelce

The hits keep coming for the Eagles offensive line, which was supposed to be their foundation.

According to Jeff McLaneof the Philadelphia Inquirer, center Jason Kelce has a sports hernia and will likely need surgery to repair it.

Kelce left yesterday’s game just after halftime and didn’t return.

They’re still another week away from the return of right tackle Lane Johnson from suspension, and left guard Evan Mathis is already using the IR/designated for return spot. Sixth-man/spot-starter Allen Barbre was lost for the season to an ankle injury in the opener.

Kelce could miss two months or more, though they’re waiting for additional tests to determine the time frame.

Backup David Molk replaced him yesterday, but they’d need to make some degree of roster move as their numbers dwindle. Veteran Wade Smith was dragged in off the street to start at guard, and he can play center as well.

The Eagles were scrambling yesterday, as veteran Todd Herremans was their only regular left after left tackle Jason Peters was ejected for fighting, leaving people called Andrew Gardner, Dennis Kelly, Smith and Molk to finish the game.

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Lions change kickers, replace Nate Freese with Alex Henery

Alex Henery AP

After three games with their rookie kicker, the Lions have seen enough.

Nate Freese, the seventh-round pick who has already missed four field goals this season and ranks dead last in the NFL in field goal accuracy, is on the way out. The Lions will sign Alex Henery to replace him, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The move comes as no surprise: Freese was already on very thin ice even before missing a 41-yard attempt at Ford Field on Sunday. Freese has been shockingly bad this year, going 3-for-7 with a long field goal of just 30 yards. The Lions use punter Sam Martin on kickoffs, so Freese wasn’t giving them anything there, either.

Henery has played three NFL seasons, all with the Eagles. He’s made 86 percent of his field goals, with a long of 51 yards.

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