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Falcons lose Kroy Biermann for season with Achilles

Kroy Biermann AP

The Falcons defense doesn’t have to be great this year, it just has to be good enough.

But they lost one of their key parts today, as Falcons coach Mike Smith said defensive end Kroy Biermann was out for the year after suffering a torn Achilles. Fullback Bradie Ewing is also headed to IR with a shoulder injury.

Biermann’s a versatile defender, who can rush from inside, and was also getting looks at linebacker in coordinator Mike Nolan’s hybrid scheme.

Biermann had 16.5 sacks the past five seasons.

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Running back Doug Martin still out for Buccaneers

TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 27: Running back Doug Martin #22 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers warms up before the game against the Chicago Bears at Raymond James Stadium on December 27, 2015 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Cliff McBride/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***  Doug Martin Getty Images

The Buccaneers are going to face one of the best defenses in the league, and they’re going to have to do it without several key offensiv eparts.

Via Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times, the Bucs are listing running back Doug Martin, wide receiver Cecil Shorts, tight end Luke Stocker and defensive end Robert Ayers as out for Sunday’s game against the Broncos.

Martin left the Week Two game against the Cardinals with a hamstring strain and didn’t play last week against the Rams.

Charles Sims had 124 yards from scrimmage in his stead last week (55 yards rushing, 69 receiving), a decent performance from a backup. But against a Broncos defense that’s playing at Super Bowl level (if not better), it might not be enough.

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Stanley misses practice again, but Ravens won’t rule him out

BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 11: Terrance West #28 of the Baltimore Ravens gets a hug from teammate Ronnie Stanley #79 after a one-yard touchdown in the second quarter of a preseason NFL game against the Carolina Panthers at M&T Bank Stadium on August 11, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Getty Images

Ravens rookie left tackle Ronnie Stanley did not practice all week due to a foot injury, but Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Friday that he won’t rule Stanley out of Sunday’s game vs. the Raiders.

“I think he still has a chance for Sunday,” Harbaugh said.

The Ravens are obviously hopeful that Stanley will be able to play against the Raiders and All-Pro Khalil Mack. James Hurst is the most likely replacement if Stanley can’t play.

Ravens left guard Alex Lewis practiced on a limited basis Friday after missing two days due to a concussion.

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Jamaal Charles questionable, Charcandrick West out for Chiefs

CINCINNATI, OH - OCTOBER 4:  Shawn Williams #36 of the Cincinnati Bengals attempts to tackle Jamaal Charles #25 of the Kansas City Chiefs during the second quarter of the game at Paul Brown Stadium on October 4, 2015 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Chiefs have good news and bad news at running back.

Jamaal Charles is listed as questionable for Sunday night’s game against the Steelers. That means he has a shot at playing for the first time this season, after missing Weeks 1-3 while recovering from the knee injury that ended his 2015 season.

The bad news is that Charcandrick West has been ruled out with an ankle injury. West, who has 12 carries for 63 yards this season, had been the No. 2 running back behind Spencer Ware.

The Chiefs are also listing Tamba Hali and Phillip Gaines as questionable. Jah Reid has been ruled out.

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Bill O’Brien confirms J.J. Watt out for rest of season

HOUSTON, TX - JANUARY 09:  Head coach Bill O'Brien of the Houston Texans looks on before playing against the Kansas City Chiefs during the AFC Wild Card Playoff game at NRG Stadium on January 9, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) Getty Images

There was a report on Thursday night that the Texans had determined that defensive end J.J. Watt wouldn’t return at any point this season after being placed on injured reserve and it’s safe to close the book on him until 2017.

Texans coach Bill O’Brien confirmed on Friday that Watt will not be able to return from his back injury this year. Watt had surgery on Thursday, marking the second time that he’s had an operation on his back in the last few months.

The loss of Watt is a big one for the Texans, obviously, and finding success in his absence will take better results across the board. Friday brought word that O’Brien will resume calling plays on offense to ensure that unit does its part, although O’Brien said that the key remains what happens after the play’s been sent in.

“I’m responsible for every play that goes into the game,” O’Brien said. “It doesn’t matter who calls the plays. It’s all about the execution.”

The Texans will try to execute better against the Titans this Sunday than they did against the Patriots in a 27-0 loss their last time out.

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Ryan Shazier, Eli Rogers among seven Steelers ruled out

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 18:  Eli Rogers #17 of the Pittsburgh Steelers attempts to stiff arm Derron Smith #31 of the Cincinnati Bengals after making a catch in the first quarter during the game at Heinz Field on September 18, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Steelers had a lengthy list of injuries coming into the start of this week’s practices and the list remains long heading into Sunday night’s game against the Chiefs.

Pittsburgh has ruled out seven players for the game, including several starters. Linebacker Ryan Shazier won’t play because of a knee injury, slot receiver Eli Rogers will be out with a toe injury, safety Robert Golden has been felled by a hamstring injury and left guard Ramon Foster has a bruised sternum.

Foster will be replaced by B.J. Finney, who hurt his finger during Thursday’s practice but says he’s fine to play this weekend. Safety Sean Davis also looks set to play after returning to practice Friday despite the back injury that sidelined him the first two days of the week.

Fullback Roosevelt Nix, cornerback Senquez Golson and center Cody Wallace are the others who will miss the game with the Chiefs. None of them have played in a game yet this season.

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Bashaud Breeland, Josh Doctson out this weekend

LANDOVER, MD - SEPTEMBER 18: Wide receiver Josh Doctson #18 of the Washington Redskins misses a catch against cornerback Morris Claiborne #24 of the Dallas Cowboys in the second half at FedExField on September 18, 2016 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) Getty Images

Redskins coach Jay Gruden said this week that the team might shut down wide receiver Josh Doctson for a couple of weeks in hopes of getting him past the Achilles injury that has bothered him since the spring.

They are shutting him down for at least this weekend’s game against the Browns. The Redskins released their final injury report of the week on Friday and Doctson has been ruled out for Sunday’s game.

The team will also be without a pair of cornerbacks. Bashaud Breeland had to leave last weekend’s win over the Giants with an ankle injury and missed practice all week, which made Friday’s announcement that he’d miss the game an unsurprising one. Dashaun Phillips replaced Breeland last Sunday, but will miss the Browns game due to a hamstring injury. Quinton Dunbar, Greg Toler and Kendall Fuller join Josh Norman as cornerback options for Sunday.

Left guard Shawn Lauvao left last week’s game with an ankle injury as well and he remains out this week. Arie Kouandjo will start in his place while Spencer Long will play center in place of Kory Lichtensteiger, who was placed on injured reserve earlier this week.

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Cutler out of practice again, listed as doubtful

Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) walks off the field with a trainer during the second half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Monday, Sept. 19, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh) AP

Bears quarterback Jay Cutler did not practice again Friday and will be listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game vs. the Lions.

Brian Hoyer is in line for his second straight start. Cutler didn’t play last week in Dallas after suffering a thumb injury in the second half in Week 2 against the Eagles.

Cutler was a limited participant in the team’s first practice session of the week on Wednesday and did what was described as “light throwing” without wearing a brace on his thumb. He didn’t practice Thursday.

The Bears also listed Cutler as doubtful last week, and he was a gameday inactive.

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Jay Gruden: I don’t know what a catch is, I don’t know if anyone does

CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 22:  Head coach Jay Gruden of the Washington Redskins  watches his team play against the Carolina Panthers during their game at Bank of America Stadium on November 22, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Getty Images

Washington coach Jay Gruden wasn’t happy with the referee or the league office after his team lost what looked like an interception on Sunday against the Giants.

Gruden said everyone who has looked at the replay has told him that safety David Bruton picked off an Eli Manning pass in the end zone, but the officials ruled that Bruton did not possess the ball inbounds.

“Everybody says it was an interception except for the replay guy,” Gruden said. “I don’t know what the rule is. We’ve just got to live by it. I thought his elbow was down, I thought his butt was down, I thought he had control of the ball. I thought it was a clear challengeable play, it just didn’t work out for us. I don’t know what a catch is anymore. I don’t know if anybody does. We just are at the mercy of the result. I thought I could have maybe challenged the one Josh [Norman] stripped on Odell [Beckham] too. That was close. I was afraid. You know, you’ve just got to take the information that is given to you from upstairs or what you see on the replay and make a decision and hope for the best, but it didn’t work out for us.”

Gruden’s complaint is a common one, and one that we may just be stuck with in the NFL: No one knows what constitutes a catch.

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Dez Bryant’s leg fracture isn’t a pain issue, according to actual expert

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 25:  Dez Bryant #88 of the Dallas Cowboys looks on prior to a game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Chicago Bears at AT&T Stadium on September 25, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) Getty Images

People involved with pro football teams who never take physical risks and who don’t have to perform while tolerating pain are sometimes quick to dismiss injuries as matters of pain tolerance, a not-so-subtle way of challenging a player to prove that he’s willing to endure the discomfort (or to take medications intended to numb it) in order to suit up and play. When it comes to any player who has a broken bone, the pain that naturally will flow from playing is secondary to the risk of the break getting worse.

“You can put any kind of fancy adjective up front, call it a hairline fracture or a stress fracture, it’s still a crack in the bone,” long-time NFL athletic trainer and current NBC Sports Medicine Analyst Mike Ryan said on Friday’s PFT Live. “So the concern here is the fact of the injury itself getting worse. A fracture can always get worse. And if the rumors are true that it is in the tibia plateau, that’s a weight-bearing surface. . . . The biggest concern here is more of the injury itself worsening, not necessarily pain management.”

So, yes, pain is part of it. However, playing with the fracture increases the risk that the fracture will get worse.

In other words, comments from Cowboys owner Jerry Jones regarding receiver Dez Bryant do not accurately reflect the consequences of playing. It’s more than tolerating pain; it’s about preventing the injury from getting worse.

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Panthers left tackle Michael Oher out with concussion

SAN JOSE, CA - FEBRUARY 02:  Tackle Michael Oher #73 of the Carolina Panther addresses the media prior to Super Bowl 50 at the San Jose Convention Center/ San Jose Marriott on February 2, 2016 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Panthers have had some protection issues in losses to the Broncos and Vikings.

And in trying to buck that trend against a team far less able to pressure Cam Newton, they’re going to have to do it without left tackle Michael Oher.

The Panthers announced that Oher was out this week against the Falcons, with a concussion, which was presumably suffered in practice.

The Panthers will also be without running back Jonathan Stewart and defensive tackle Vernon Butler, but they knew that already. Defensive end Charles Johnson is questionable after a quad strain in practice.

But Oher’s absence will cause a big adjustment, as they’ll likely shift right tackle Mike Remmers to the left side and plug Daryl Williams in at right tackle. The alternative is using journeyman Donald Hawkins at left tackle and leaving Remmers in place, and coach Ron Rivera told reporters they’re still making a decision on how to progress.

The Falcons don’t have the same kind of pass-rush assets as other teams the Panthers have faced, but going in short-handed won’t help a team trying to even its record after a 1-2 start.

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Decker “week to week” with partially torn rotator cuff

ORCHARD PARK, NY - SEPTEMBER 15:  Eric Decker #87 of the New York Jets makes a catch against the Buffalo Bills during the second half at New Era Field on September 15, 2016 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) Getty Images

Jets wide receiver Eric Decker has a partially torn rotator cuff, Jets coach Todd Bowles told reporters Friday, and Decker will miss Sunday’s game vs. the Seahawks.

Bowles said Decker will be “week to week” going forward. The team plans to try rest and treatment now, but Bowles wouldn’t rule out Decker needing surgery later.

Decker has nine catches for 194 yards and two touchdowns this season.

Bowles also said rookie wide receiver/return man Jalin Marshall will be out at least few weeks with a torn labrum.

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TSA: No Josh Gordon incident at Cleveland airport on Thursday

ORCHARD PARK, NY - NOVEMBER 30:   Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns is tackled by Aaron Williams #23 of the Buffalo Bills during the first half at Ralph Wilson Stadium on November 30, 2014 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) Getty Images

The circumstances surrounding the sudden decision of Browns receiver Josh Gordon to enter rehab has sparked understandable speculation regarding the trigger for the move. Surely, something happened both to cause Gordon to abandon his imminent return to the Browns and to prompt coach Hue Jackson to slam the door on Gordon ever coming back.

Here’s what didn’t happen: Gordon wasn’t arrested, detained, or otherwise involved in an incident at the Cleveland airport.

Via Vince Grzegorek of, a TSA spokesman says that Gordon went through airport security on Thursday without incident.

This directly contradicts — and has prompted the expungement of — a wildly inaccurate and illogical rumor/report that Gordon was caught with a pound (yes, a pound) of marijuana at the airport.

The story has popped up in plenty of places; gave it real credence, but it has since deleted the story without acknowledgement or explanation.

The biggest problem with the story was that, if it were true, a public record would have been created. There was no public record or any incident involving Josh Gordon, which is the best confirmation that nothing happened.

That and, of course, the unambiguous statement from the TSA.

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Browns will list Haden as questionable

BALTIMORE, MD - OCTOBER 11: Wide receiver #10 Jeremy Ross carries the ball while cornerback Joe Haden #23 of the Cleveland Browns defends in the first quarter of a game at M&T Bank Stadium on October 11, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Browns will list starting defensive backs Joe Haden (groin) and Ibraheim Campbell (hamstring) as questionable for Sunday’s game at Washington.

Both missed last week’s game in Miami.

Veteran cornerback Tramon Williams will be listed as doubtful with a shoulder injury. Rookie defensive end Carl Nassib (hand), rookie wide receiver Corey Coleman (hand), center Cameron Erving (bruised lung), linebacker Nate Orchard (ankle) and rookie tight end Seth DeValve (knee) are out.

Browns Coach Hue Jackson wouldn’t say who he plans to start on the offensive line. He hinted earlier this week that he may move John Greco from center back to guard after guard Alvin Bailey was arrested for OVI earlier in the week. Austin Reiter, who was signed earlier this month from the Washington practice squad, would start at center if Greco moves back to guard.

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“Major concern” about Sammy Watkins’ availability moving forward

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 13:  Sammy Watkins #14 of the Buffalo Bills carries the ball for a touchdown as Ed Reynolds #30 of the Philadelphia Eagles attempts to tackle him during the first quarter at Lincoln Financial Field on December 13, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) Getty Images

Early last week, Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins said missing games because of his surgically repaired foot was “out the window.”

At some point after that, Watkins’ foot was stepped on in practice and now worry is mounting that Watkins’ season may be out the window.

Watkins didn’t play in last Sunday’s 33-18 win over the Cardinals and he has been ruled out again this week after failing to get on the practice field at all. Beyond that, Bills coach Rex Ryan said in his Friday press conference that there is “major concern” about Watkins’ availability as the season moves forward.

There was a report to that effect from Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News coming out of the first week of the season, although Watkins shrugged them off by saying that his foot was merely “tired.” He went on to play against the Jets in Week Two, but didn’t look like the same kind of downfield threat that he was in his first two seasons.

The Bills were able to adapt well enough to win without him last week, but the loss of Watkins would be a hard thing for them to overcome on a weekly basis while still winning enough to make a push for a long-awaited playoff bid.

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Marvin Jones practicing Friday and looks fine

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - SEPTEMBER 11: Marvin Jones #11 of the Detroit Lions runs past Mike Adams #29 of the Indianapolis Colts during the second quarter of the game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Detroit Lions at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 11, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) Getty Images

The NFL’s leader in receiving yards through the first three weeks of the season popped up on Thursday’s injury report with a hamstring injury, but it looks like Marvin Jones will be good to go against the Bears this weekend.

Jones returned to practice on Friday and multiple members of the media attending the session report that he looks fine on the field. Jones was not on the Wednesday injury report, suggesting he tweaked the hamstring at some point during Thursday’s practice, which created some cause for worry given the relative lack of time before Sunday’s game.

As long as there’s no other flareup later on Friday, it would seem that Jones will be in the lineup without any limitations. Jones has 18 catches for 408 yards and two touchdowns in his first three outings as a member of the team.

While Jones’ presence is good news for the offense, it looks like Detroit will be playing without defensive end Ziggy Ansah and linebacker DeAndre Levy again this week. Neither player is practicing on Friday, which will leave stopping the Bears’ low-octane offense to others on the Lions roster.

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