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Rehab could help Sanchez avoid surgery completely

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The situation regarding Mark Sanchez’s shoulder is starting to make more sense.  We think.

At one point during last night’s broadcast of the Jets-Patriots game on NFL Network, the presumption seemed to be that Sanchez will need to have surgery now or later, and that he is committed to delaying surgery via rehab so that he can be available to help his team.

You know, the same team that would have cut him by now but for being on the hook for $8.25 million this season.  The same team that exposed him to the injury by inserting him into garbage time of a preseason game.  (At least they won that trophy of Snoopy.)

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, surgery on Sanchez’s shoulder is not inevitable.  If through rehab he can play at full strength this year and beyond, he most likely won’t need to have surgery after the season.

The source called the no-surgery outcome a “real possibility,” but acknowledged that it will be driven by whether rehab works and, more importantly, the recommendations of the doctors.So if rehab is successul, Sanchez will be available for the Jets at some point this year — and he won’t have his 2014 offseason marred by four-to-six months of rehab.

After Geno Smith’s three-pick performance in the fourth quarter of Thursday night’s game, the Jets may have renewed interest in getting back the man who has declared himself to be the winner of the preseason quarterback competition.

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Whisenhunt shoots down talk that Titans could trade Justin Hunter

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There’s been talk in Tennessee that the Titans could trade receiver Justin Hunter. Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt says that talk is preposterous.

“Are you kidding me? That’s not something even in consideration,” Whisenhunt said of trading Hunter, via Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean.

Wyatt has written that the Titans are disappointed with Hunter’s inconsistency and want more out of him. And considering how much talent Hunter flashed in the preseason, his statistics — nine catches for 138 yards and no touchdowns — are short of expectations so far this season.

Of course, those issues point to exactly why other teams aren’t likely to give up much of anything to acquire Hunter in a trade. So the Titans will hold onto him, and hope he’ll do more in the future than he’s done since the Titans drafted him last year.

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Steve Smith unloads on Panthers G.M., coach, Greg Hardy

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The blood and guts arrived a few days later than many expected.

Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith mostly played nice as his new team beat his old one Sunday. But he unloaded on his old bosses Wednesday, taking shots at both General Manager Dave Gettleman (who we knew he didn’t like) and coach Ron Rivera (who we didn’t suspect created that kind of animosity).

Smith called in to WFNZ’s “Bustin’ Loose” with Frank Garcia and Mark Yarbro, and fired several volleys in the direction of the team he gave 13 years to, saying neither Gettleman nor Rivera were straight with him.

“Every time I keep reading stuff and reports come out, I just think I was stabbed in the back,” Smith said. “Just like coach Rivera said he wasn’t a sore loser, but yet he never even spoke to me through the whole ordeal. Not one time. He didn’t look at me man-to-man and said this was going down. He said he’s a players’ coach but he never came in and said, ‘Hey Smitty, this is going on. Wanted to give you a heads up.’ He hid in his office.

“Then you come at the end of the game and I play decent and then you come and shake my hand and say, ‘Congratulations. I hope the family’s well. Good luck.’ But we were supposed to be boys and respected me. You would have done it from the jump. You don’t do it at the end. And then you tell the media. Why? So you can look a certain way.”

That was a little surprising, less so was his criticism of Gettleman, who got the ball rolling at the Combine by saying he was “evaluating,” Smith’s play, and then came home to tell Smith he was gone.

Smith said Wednesday that Gettleman referred to him as a “shadow” of his former self.

“He doesn’t even have the cojones to tell us to our face [about being released],” Smith said. “We have to hear it from someone else. Then he calls and says it wasn’t personal. If the first thing that comes out is ‘Well it wasn’t personal,’ then guess what? It was personal.”

Smith also made it clear he wasn’t happy with being portrayed as a distraction, pointing to the team’s willingness to hang onto defensive end Greg Hardy with a $13.1 million franchise tag. He referenced the three teammates he punched, but said that was not comparable to the current situation.

“I’ve always been a distraction?” Smith said. “But I didn’t hit my wife. Yeah I hit some teammates six or seven years ago but I didn’t beat my wife. I didn’t get arrested for DUIs. I didn’t fall off no motorcycles. …

“All I did was charity work in Charlotte. I made mistakes. But building this big ol’ crutch about it like as if I pushed their hand?”

The reasons the Panthers cut Smith have been obvious. He didn’t play well with others, specifically quarterback Cam Newton.

But his frustration on the way out the door speaks to tensions with Gettleman that indicate there was more than one personality at play in the decision that sent him to Baltimore.

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Jarrett Boykin out for Packers on Thursday night

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The Packers kick off Week Five against the Vikings on Thursday night and they won’t have wide receiver Jarrett Boykin’s help as they try to get a leg up on their NFC North rivals.

Boykin has been ruled out for the second straight week because of a groin injury. Coach Mike McCarthy indicated that Boykin’s injury is more sever than the team originally thought and that it might keep him out through the Week Six game against the Dolphins as well.

“I don’t know if he’s going to be ready for Miami. That’s a long time away. It’s a little worse than we thought,” McCarthy said, via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com.

Rookie Davante Adams took over the third receiver duties against Chicago and should fill the role again this week.

Linebacker Sam Barrington (hamstring) and defensive tackle Josh Boyd (knee) have both been listed as doubtful for the game while linebackers Clay Matthews, Mike Neal and Brad Jones join guard T.J. Lang as probable to play on Thursday.

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Knowshon Moreno says he’s four weeks away from returning

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When Dolphins running back Knowshon Moreno suffered a dislocated elbow in Week Two against the Bills, the timetable for his return was set at four weeks.

That would have put him in position to return after this week’s bye for the Week Six date with the Packers, but it doesn’t look like that timetable has held up. Moreno said on Wednesday that it is looking more like Week Eight for his return to field.

“I probably got like four more weeks,” Moreno said, via the Palm Beach Post. “About four more weeks and I’ll be good.”

The absence of Moreno, who had a big game when the Dolphins knocked off the Patriots in the season opener, is a bit less painful after Lamar Miller’s strong outings in Weeks Three and Four. With the Bears and Jaguars following the Packers on the schedule, there should be running room for Miller in the coming weeks if the line can hold up its end of the bargain.

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Murphy says Washington name has been discussed “at the league level”

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Supplanted of late by other controversies, the debate regarding the Washington name lingers.  On Tuesday, Packers CEO Mark Murphy acknowledged that the debate also has migrated to the upper reaches of the NFL.

There have been discussions at the league level,” Murphy said Tuesday at Marquette Law School, via Bob Wolfley of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.  “We have had some discussions at owners’ meetings. Dan [Snyder] has made presentations.  Quite honestly, I think with all the issues we are facing, with domestic violence and concussions, it’s probably not at the top of the list.”

He’s right, but eventually it will be.

Murphy added that he’s “very sensitive” tp the subject, given Green Bay’s proximity to the Oneida Nation.  Murphy pointed out that, while serving as Athletic Director at Colgate, he presided over the change of the team’s nickname from the Red Raiders to the Raiders.

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Jonathan Stewart, Thomas Davis return to practice

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The Panthers probably aren’t going to have running back DeAngelo Williams on the field against the Bears this Sunday and they definitely won’t have Mike Tolbert, but the backfield may not be totally devoid of veteran presence.

Jonathan Stewart was in full pads at Wednesday’s practice, a few days after he missed the team’s loss to the Ravens with a knee injury. That’s a good sign for his chances of keeping the Panthers from relying on Darrin Reaves, Chris Ogbonnaya and Fozzy Whittaker, who didn’t practice Wednesday, for their ground attack as they try to avoid a third straight loss after a 2-0 start to the season.

Stewart wasn’t the only player back at practice on Wednesday after missing Sunday’s loss. Linebacker Thomas Davis’s hamstring was feeling well enough for him to suit up for the session, raising hopes that the Panthers will have one of their defensive leaders back in place against the Bears.

Defensive tackle Dwan Edwards also sat out Wednesday’s practice for Carolina.

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Bears sign speedster Teddy Williams to play corner

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The Bears shuffled the deck and added some speed.

The team announced they signed cornerback Teddy Williams off the Arizona practice squad, and released linebacker Terrell Manning.

Williams is a fascinating player because of his pure speed, which has caused teams to try him at wide receiver as well.

He’s played in 10 games over two seasons with the Colts and the Cardinals. He spent parts of 2010 and 2011 on the Cowboys practice squad.

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Calvin Johnson feeling better, ready to face off with Jim Schwartz

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Lions receiver Calvin Johnson was held to just two catches for 12 yards in Sunday’s game against the Jets, as a sprained ankle had him at far less than 100 percent. But Johnson says this week is different.

Johnson told Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press he’s feeling “definitely better than at this time last week.” Johnson will, from all accounts, be ready to go on Sunday against the Bills.

And when the Bills come to town, that means the return of Jim Schwartz, the Buffalo defensive coordinator who was Detroit’s head coach for the last five years. Johnson said he and Schwartz frequently discussed how Schwartz would cover Megatron if Schwartz had to devise a game plan to stop him. Schwartz told Johnson double coverage would always be Schwartz’s strategy.

On Sunday we’ll get to see if Schwartz, who coached Johnson when he set the all-time NFL record for receiving yards in a season in 2012, can come up with a plan to slow Johnson down.

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Owners overseeing Mueller investigation aren’t talking about it

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On Tuesday, Packers CEO Mark Murphy said there was “hope” the Robert Mueller investigation would be completed by next week. The two owners charged with overseeing the Mueller investigation would not confirm that. Or deny that. Or say anything else about it.

Steelers and Giants spokesman tell PFT that Steelers president Art Rooney II and Giants co-owner John Mara, respectively, have no comment about the status or timetable of the Mueller investigation.

And so at a time when the NFL has vowed to utilize more transparency regarding domestic violence allegations, the league isn’t even opting for translucency when addressing the simplest of topics regarding perhaps the most important internal investigation the league ever has conducted.

While none of it will matter once Mueller issues his findings and the media begins scrutinizing every word he has written, persistent talk of change has yet to become action when it comes to the question of whether the process of generating a public report will be an equally open book.

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Cardinals bring back veteran linebacker Desmond Bishop

Desmond Bishop, Marion Grice AP

The Cardinals took a look at veteran linebacker Desmond Bishop in the preseason.

And after a month of regular season, they decided they wanted him back.

The team announced Bishop had been re-signed, filling the roster spot created by the release of linebacker Victor Butler.

The Cardinals are largely healthy now, but that’s after free agency, injuries and suspensions ravaged their defense. Losing Daryl Washington and Karlos Dansby among others left them thin.

Plugging a solid pro like Bishop makes sense, especially since he’s had more time to recover from last year’s torn ACL with the Vikings.

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Bill Belichick says Patriots are “on to Cincinnati,” repeatedly

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Bill Belichick never hides his disdain for the media, typically approaching the process of answering questions like a bad ventriloquist.  Even at times when perhaps it would be a good idea to curry the favor of the folks who are in position to heap criticism on the man who has presided over the erosion of the New England roster, Belichick continues to display condescension and irritation when dealing with reporters.

To his credit, Belichick is consistent.  He’s unwilling to cooperate when things are going well, and he’s unwilling to cooperate when they aren’t.

Case in point:  His Wednesday press conference, with memories still fresh of Monday night’s debacle at Arrowhead Stadium.  Here’s the relevant exchange, from the transcript provided by the team.

Q: Your team has been successful for so long. How difficult is it to adjust to the adversity of Monday night’s game and get back on track? This team and organization hasn’t had these sort of issues in the past.

Belichick: We’re on to Cincinnati.

Q: You mentioned Tom Brady’s age at the draft –

Belichick: We’re on to Cincinnati.

Q: Do you think having a 37-year old –

Belichick: We’re on to Cincinnati. It’s nothing about the past, nothing about the future. Right now we’re preparing for Cincinnati.

Q: Do you think the talent you have here is good?

BB: We’re getting ready for Cincinnati.

Q: Do you think you’ve done enough to help Tom Brady?

Belichick: We’re getting ready for Cincinnati. That’s what we’re doing.

It was ultimately a useless exchange. The answers suggest that the reporters were trying to get Belichick to focus on what went wrong against the Chiefs. The questions actually focused more on the future, with a 37-year-old quarterback, real concerns about the quality of the roster, and real questions about Belichick’s personnel decision.

At least he didn’t say, “I’m trying to be a good teammate.”

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Nick Novak wins AFC special teams player of week

Nick Novak AP

Few teams in the NFL have been as consistently sharp as the Chargers this year.

And few Chargers are as consistently sharp as Nick Novak.

The veteran kicker earned AFC special teams player of the week honors for his perfect day against the Jaguars last week, which included four field goals.

Novak’s a clean 89-of-101 on field goals as a Charger, the highest percentage (88.1) in franchise history.

This season, he’s tied with Adam Vinatieri for the league scoring lead (40 points), and is part of a Chargers team that plays smart, efficient football.

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Aaron Rodgers has no word of the week

Rodgers Getty Images

Last week, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers offered up a five-letter word in an effort to calm down the then-curdling Cheeseheads:  R-E-L-A-X.

So what’s the word of the week as the Packers prepare to face the Vikings?  The word is there is no word.

I don’t have one,” Rodgers said Wednesday, via Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.  “I bring stuff like that up when necessary, but the key to those type of deals is you can’t overdo it.  So last week we needed to relax a little bit.  The fans needed to relax.  Now 2-2, we need to get to 3-2.”

Rodgers could be uttering a few four-letter words on Thursday night, given his performance in past years against defenses led by first-year Vikings coach Mike Zimmer.

“I’ve played against Coach Zimmer a couple of times,” Rodgers said, “and I have a lot of respect for him and the job he does.  He always has been well prepared, and I’m very confused at times with their schemes.  I think his defense is improving, and it’s going to be one of the top defenses when it’s said and done.”

Last year, Rodgers completed 26 of 43 passes for 244 yards, a touchdown, and two interceptions in a 34-30 loss to Zimmer’s Bengals at Lambeau Field.  Four years earlier, Rodgers completed 21 of 39 for 261 yards and a touchdown in a 31-24 loss in Cincinnati.

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PFT Live: Lamar Miller, Coaching hot seat

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The Dolphins capped a somewhat tumultuous week with a victory over the Raiders last Sunday and now they’ve got a week off to savor it.

Running back Lamar Miller will spend some of his free time with Mike Florio on Wednesday’s edition of PFT Live. We will talk to Miller about last week’s quarterback hemming and hawing by coach Joe Philbin, how he thinks things will work in the backfield once Knowshon Moreno returns to action and his impressions of playing a game in front of the London crowd.

We’ll also take our weekly look at the coaching hot seat. Dennis Allen became the first coach fired this season when the Raiders relieved him of his duties on Tuesday and we’ll discuss whether he’ll have any company on the unemployment line before the year is out.

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

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Big Monday night makes Jamaal Charles the AFC offensive player of the week

New England Patriots at Kansas City Chiefs Getty Images

The Chiefs were able to beat the Dolphins in Week Three despite the absence of running back Jamaal Charles.

Charles came back in a major way on Monday night. He ran for 92 yards and a touchdown and caught two other touchdown passes as the Chiefs overwhelmed the Patriots for a 41-14 victory at Arrowhead Stadium.

That was good enough to make Charles this week’s choice as the AFC offensive player of the week.

The best news for the Chiefs may not have been Charles’s robust return to the lineup. After watching Charles play an outsize role in the offense last season, the Chiefs got big games from tight end Travis Kelce, wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and running back Knile Davis to go with Charles’s effort against New England. While Charles may remain the big dog in Kansas City for the foreseeable future, the presence of helping hands should be a big boost to the team’s quest for a second straight playoff berth.

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