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NFL morning after: Aaron Rodgers makes it look easy

Washington Redskins v Green Bay Packers Getty Images

Did Aaron Rodgers even break a sweat on Sunday?

I suppose he probably did, over the course of a three-hour game that saw him throw 42 passes, completing 34 of them for a franchise record 480 yards and four touchdowns. But the remarkable thing about the way Rodgers has played the quarterback position for the Packers over the last few years is that he does things we’ve never seen before, and it doesn’t even look hard.

As Rodgers was marching the Packers down the field on three straight long touchdown drives in the first half, it looked like he and his receivers were playing a really intense game of catch. Washington’s defense might as well have not even been on the field, because Rodgers just threw everywhere he wanted to throw, and found someone open every time. Over the course of the day Rodgers engineered five touchdown drives and had a sixth that would have gone for a touchdown if not for James Jones fumbling at the 1-yard line.

Amazingly, Rodgers revealed after the game that he was less than 100 percent physically.

“I didn’t feel great before the game,” Rodgers said. “My neck was sore and stiff. I was hurting pretty bad.”

Despite playing through some pain, Rodgers didn’t have any interceptions on Sunday, which has become the norm for him. Rodgers has only had 1.7 percent of his passes intercepted in his career, the lowest interception rate in NFL history. Rodgers has had three different seasons with eight or fewer interceptions, and he’s on pace to do that again this year. Do you realize how hard it is to play a full season and throw so few interceptions? Let’s put it this way: Peyton Manning is probably the best I’ve ever seen at reading defenses, but Manning has thrown more than eight interceptions every year he’s been in the league.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy said after the game that he knows he’s lucky to have Rodgers running his offense.

“Aaron spoils you. He makes it look easy,” McCarthy said.

Yes he does.

Here are my other Week Two thoughts:

Chip Kelly’s offense is fun to watch, but . . . Maybe the Eagles only looked great in Week One because they were playing a terrible Washington team. In Week Two, the Eagles lost to the Chargers and it looked like the real story in Philadelphia is that the Eagles’ defense is going to lose them a lot of games. The flip side of having a fast-paced offense like Kelly’s is that it makes life rough for your defense when your offense doesn’t sustain any long drives. The Chargers had the ball for more than 40 minutes of Sunday’s game, and the Eagles’ defense looked exhausted by the end.

Richard Sherman proved his greatness. In Week One against the Packers, 49ers receiver Anquan Boldin was unstoppable. In Week Two against the Seahawks, Boldin caught one pass, in garbage time. The difference? In Week Two, Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman was covering Boldin. Sherman proved once again what a truly great cornerback he is.

Dontari Poe is a beast. Poe, the Kansas City defensive tackle, sacked Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo twice and showed off an incredible blend of strength and speed in whipping the Cowboys’ offensive line. A whole lot of people criticized the Chiefs for spending the No. 11 overall pick on Poe last year, saying Poe was just a workout warrior at the Combine who didn’t produce on the field. Poe is making those people eat their words.

Washington safety Brandon Meriweather should be suspended for the safety of his opponents — and himself. Meriweather lowered his head and launched into Packers running back Eddie Lacy, knocking Lacy out of the game with a concussion. Shortly after that, Meriweather lowered his head into Packers running back James Starks, and this time it was Meriweather who bore the brunt of the collision, and Meriweather was knocked out of the game. Meriweather has a history of helmet-to-helmet hits, and the NFL needs to say enough is enough and suspend Meriweather before he seriously hurts someone else, or himself.

Let’s appreciate history. During Sunday’s Eagles game, the official Twitter account of Monday Night Football compared Eagles running back LeSean McCoy to Barry Sanders.

I like McCoy and think he looks good in Chip Kelly’s offense, but get real: I knew Barry Sanders. Barry Sanders was a favorite player of mine. LeSean McCoy is no Barry Sanders. Barry Sanders led the league in rushing four times, was second in the NFL in rushing three times, was third once, fourth once and fifth once. That’s right: Sanders played 10 NFL seasons and was a Top 5 rusher all 10 years. McCoy is in his fifth NFL season, and in his first four years he never led the league in rushing, never was second and never was third. He was fourth in the league once, in 2011, and other than that has never been in the Top 10. I think we’re too quick sometimes to anoint every good player as a future Hall of Famer. McCoy is a fine rusher, but he’s not Barry Sanders. Not even close.

Mario Williams had a monster game. Williams was in Cam Newton’s face all day and was a huge part of Buffalo’s 24-23 win over Carolina. His 4.5 sacks were a career high and broke a Bills franchise record that was previously shared by two great pass rushers, Bruce Smith and Cornelius Bennett. Williams hasn’t always lived up to the massive contract Buffalo gave him last year, but he earned his play on Sunday.

Give credit to Philip Rivers. Rivers, quarterbacking a Chargers offense that’s depleted at every position and became even more depleted when receiver Malcom Floyd went down, played a fantastic game against the Eagles. Rivers completed 36 of 47 passes for 419 yards, with three touchdowns and no interceptions, and he led the drive that got San Diego into position for a game-winning field goal in the closing seconds. Unlike Aaron Rodgers, Rivers doesn’t make it look particularly easy — it felt like an epic struggle as Rivers willed the Chargers to victory. But after Rodgers, Rivers was the next-best quarterback in the NFL on Sunday.

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Report: NFL interviewed Ezekiel Elliott about domestic violence allegation

GREEN BAY, WI - OCTOBER 16:  Ezekiel Elliott #21 of the Dallas Cowboys runs the ball against the Green Bay Packers during the first quarter at Lambeau Field on October 16, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Getty Images

In early September, the Columbus (OH) City Attorney’s Office released a statement saying that they were not pursuing domestic violence charges against Cowboys rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott.

In July, Elliott had been accused of assaulting an ex-girlfriend, but the statement said they were declining to press charges against Elliott because their investigation turned up “conflicting and inconsistent information.” While the City Attorney opted not to pursue the matter, the NFL did not rule out disciplinary action against Elliott.

Tom Pelissero of USA Today reports that investigators from the league recently interviewed Elliott as part of their own investigation into the allegations. NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy did not confirm the interview, but did say the league was still actively reviewing the issue.

News of the interview comes at a time when the league’s handling of domestic violence cases is back in the spotlight because of their decision to suspend Giants kicker Josh Brown for one game as a result of his 2015 arrest on domestic violence charges. Brown ultimately was not charged and the league’s handling of the case has been criticized in light of the release of documents showing written admissions by Brown that he abused his now ex-wife during their marriage.

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Wilkerson back at practice, listed as limited

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 13: Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson #96 of the New York Jets celebrates after sacking quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the fourth quarter during a game at MetLife Stadium on October 13, 2013 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Steelers defeated the Jets 19-6. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images) Getty Images

Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson was back at practice Thursday after missing time due to ankle injury.

The Jets listed Wilkerson as a limited participant. He didn’t practice Thursday and missed last week’s game vs. the Ravens.

Wilkerson spent most of the offseason rehabbing the broken leg he suffered in the final game of the 2015 season and said last week that the ankle has been an issue for a few weeks. The Jets signed Wilkerson to a big-money extension last summer, and he’s been an impact player on their defensive line since being drafted in the first round in 2011.

Last week marked just the fourth game he’s missed in his six-year career.

The Jets also got wide receiver Brandon Marshall and Bilal Powell back as limited participants on Thursday after they sat out Wednesday’s practice.

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Ben Leber denies existence of bounty program for 2009 Vikings

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 27: Glen Coffee #29 of the San Francisco 49ers is stopped by Ben Leber #51 of the Minnesota Vikings along with teammate Pat Williams #94 at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on September 27, 2009 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the 49ers 27-24. (Photo by Genevieve Ross/Getty Images) Getty Images

The 2009 Vikings had a bounty program of their own. Unless they didn’t.

Former Vikings linebacker Ben Leber has strongly denied a claim for former Vikings guard Artis Hicks that the team victimized by the Saints’ bounty scandal had a bounty program of its own.

“I never heard of any bounty program existing within Vikings locker room,” Leber tweeted. “We had incentives for big plays, not injuries.”

Whether it’s a matter or semantics or fundamental differences, it doesn’t matter. The NFL made a conscious decision four years ago not to explore the rabbit hole but to plug it with cement, even as multiple players who served under former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams came forward to say he had bounty programs in other cities.

For the league, it wasn’t about resolving a cultural problem. It was about catching a culprit, punishing them dramatically and publicly, and scaring everyone else straight.

So, basically, unless there’s proof of a bounty scandal in or after 2012, the NFL won’t be doing anything.

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Chip Kelly runs NFL’s fastest offense, just not as fast as before

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 25: Head coach Chip Kelly of the San Francisco 49ers reacts to a play during the third quarter of the game against the Seattle Seahawksat CenturyLink Field on September 25, 2016 in Seattle,Washington. The Seahawks won the game 37-18.  (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images) Getty Images

Chip Kelly became famous for the fast-paced offense he ran at Oregon, and in all four of his seasons as an NFL head coach his offenses have had the fastest pace in the NFL. But Kelly doesn’t think his offense is really all that fast.

I don’t think we’re playing fast right now,” Kelly said. “So if someone said, ‘How are you playing offensively?’ I don’t think we’re playing fast offensively. I think we’re just not going back [to huddle]. We’re saving seven yards of run time for our offensive line because they don’t have to run back in the huddle, get a play called and then do it. We’re just calling it at the line of scrimmage. So I think it’s a lot of what Denver used to do when Peyton [Manning] was there. But there’s a lot of times that we’re under 15 seconds when we’re snapping the ball and getting the play off. So we’re not playing fast and we’re not calling tempo-type plays in those situations. We’re just calling plays.”

The numbers, however, say Kelly’s 49ers still have the fastest offense in the NFL. tracks the offensive pace of each team, adjusted to account for situations when teams are running a particularly fast pace because they’re trailing late in the game or a particularly slow pace because they’re leading late in the game. And by those stats, the 49ers rank first in the NFL in pace, at 23.95 seconds per play. That is slower, however, than Kelly’s Eagles last year (22.21 seconds per play) or in 2014 (21.95 seconds per play) or in 2013 (23.38 seconds per play.) And Kelly’s NFL teams have always run a slower pace than his Oregon teams.

So it’s true that by Kelly’s standards, the 49ers are not running a particularly fast pace. But by the standards of any other NFL team, the 49ers are running a very fast pace.

The problem for Kelly is that NFL defenses seem to have figured out how to account for Kelly’s fast pace. Although the Eagles’ offense was excellent in Kelly’s first season in Philadelphia, it declined in his subsequent seasons as opposing defenses got a handle on it, and this year in San Francisco Kelly has one of the worst offenses in the NFL.

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Jarvis Landry: No fine yet for Aaron Williams hit

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - OCTOBER 23: Jarvis Landry gives his gloves to a fan following the game against the Buffalo Bills on October 23, 2016 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images) Getty Images

On Sunday, Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry drew a flag for a big hit on Bills safety Aaron Williams. On Thursday, Landry told PFT Live that he was not fined for the hit.

In an interview to be aired on Friday’s show, Landry explained that he has not yet received the standard fine letter from the league office. Typically, those letters are sent no later than Tuesday. On Friday, the league office will disclose on specific request whether and to what extent a given player was fined.

Landry was penalized for unnecessary roughness on the play. NFL senior V.P. of officiating Dean Blandino, while explaining the reasoning for not ejecting Landry, suggested earlier this week that a fine could be imposed.

“It’s certainly a foul,” Blandino said. “It’s certainly something that we’ll review for potential discipline, but it’s still a football play, and it’s tough to read intent there. That’s why the officials kept him in the game. It’s not an automatic ejection. It’s up to the discretion of the crew and they didn’t feel like it was flagrant enough to throw the player out of the game.”

The fact that Landry has yet to receive a fine letter doesn’t mean he never will. Usually, however, players are aware of any fines by the Thursday after a given game.

UPDATE 4:09 p.m. ET: A source with knowledge of situation says that, because of the bye week, it’s possible Landry hasn’t learned of the fine yet, and that a fine is still quite possible if not probable.

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Josh Norman, Jordan Reed traveling to London

BALTIMORE, MD - OCTOBER 9: Cornerback Josh Norman #24 of the Washington Redskins looks on prior to the game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on October 9, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Todd Olszewski/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Redskins head to London on Thursday night to get acclimated ahead of Sunday’s game against the Bengals and both of the key players who have spent time in the concussion protocol this week will be joining them.

Head coach Jay Gruden said at his Thursday press conference that both cornerback Josh Norman and tight end Jordan Reed have been cleared to make the flight. Reed said earlier in the day that he’s back to 100 percent after missing the last two games, but Gruden said that determinations about their status for the game will wait until after they practice in London on Friday.

“Signs are looking better,” Gruden said.

That’s not the case when it comes to running back Matt Jones. Jones missed a second straight practice due to a knee injury, raising the chances that the Redskins will have to go with Rob Kelley and Chris Thompson out of the backfield against Cincinnati. Having Reed and Norman in the lineup would be a good counterweight to anything they might lose if Jones doesn’t get the green light.

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Rex Ryan: No doubt there are long-term concerns about Aaron Williams

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - OCTOBER 23:  Aaron Williams #23 of the Buffalo Bills leaves the field injured in the first quarter against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on October 23, 2016 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images) Getty Images

Bills safety Aaron Williams missed a second straight day of practice on Thursday as he continues to deal with the neck injury he suffered when taking a high block from Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry in last Sunday’s victory.

This isn’t the first time that Williams has dealt with a neck injury. He was limited to three games last year after hurting his neck severely enough that he needed fusion surgery. That led to doubts about his ability to resume his football career and obviously makes any new injury in the area a serious concern for the Bills and Williams.

“Yeah, I think so,” head coach Rex Ryan said, via the team’s website. “I don’t think there’s any doubt that there are some long term concerns there.”

Ryan didn’t delve deeper into what kind of outlook Williams is facing or when the team might have an idea about a return timeline. The Bills are going to have to look for others to fill in at safety against the Patriots this week and for as many weeks as it takes to figure out what will happen with Williams.

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Dion Lewis practices on Thursday

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 11:  Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots and Dion Lewis #33 of the New England Patriots celebrate after Edelman scored against the Dallas Cowboys during the first half of the NFL game at AT&T Stadium on October 11, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Mike Stone/Getty Images) Getty Images

Word earlier this week was that the Patriots had a good chance of getting running back Dion Lewis on the practice field for the first time since he was placed on the physically unable to perform list this summer and that’s what came to pass on Thursday.

Lewis joined the Patriots on the practice field in a major step forward after he had a pair of knee surgeries to help repair the damage from his torn ACL last season. With Lewis back on the field, the Patriots now have 21 days to decide whether they are going to put Lewis on the 53-man roster or if they will leave him on the PUP list for the rest of the season.

Should they opt to bring Lewis back to the active roster, the Patriots will then be charged with figuring out how to work him back into the offensive mix. LeGarrette Blount has done the heavy lifting on the ground so far this season and James White has served as the lead receiver out of the backfield with both men putting up good results in their roles.

Lewis did well in both areas before getting hurt last season so his return should increase the offensive options available to the Patriots as the rest of the season plays out.

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Hue Jackson points to Josh McCown as this week’s starter

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 18: Quarterback Josh McCown #13 of the Cleveland Browns passes during the first quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 18, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) Getty Images

Browns quarterback Josh McCown’s broken collarbone was deemed ready for a return to full practice this week and it looks like he’ll be jumping right back into the starting job.

Cody Kessler remains in the concussion protocol after getting hurt last Sunday, which hasn’t led coach Hue Jackson to rule the rookie out but does leave all signs pointing to McCown getting the nod to face the Jets.

“I feel really good that it’s heading that way,” Jackson said, via the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “But he’s had an injury too and things can change.”

McCown last played in Week Two when he went 20-of-33 for 260 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions in a 25-20 loss to the Ravens. Kevin Hogan and Joe Callahan are also on Cleveland’s roster should the Browns be forced to do more improvising under center.

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Report: C.J. Anderson having knee surgery

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 24:  Running back C.J. Anderson #22 of the Denver Broncos rushes in the fourth quarter of the game against the Houston Texans at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on October 24, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images) Getty Images

Broncos running back C.J. Anderson disputed a report on Thursday that had him telling people that his season is over due to a knee injury suffered in last Monday’s victory over the Texans, but it does appear he’s going to be out of the lineup for a fairly extended period of time.

Mike Klis of KUSA reports that Anderson will have surgery to repair a torn meniscus. Klis also reports that Anderson is likely headed for injured reserve as a result and Anderson has deleted his previous tweets calling it false that he’d miss the rest of the year.

That move would not automatically end Anderson’s season as the Broncos can wait six weeks and then designate Anderson as their player eligible to return from injured reserve. He could not be reactivated until eight weeks have passed, which means he’d be out through at least Week 15 if he does go on I.R.

Rookie Devontae Booker will step into the lead back role for however long Anderson is out of the lineup. The Broncos also have Kapri Bibbs on the active roster and could bring Juwan Thompson up from the practice squad if they feel a need for more depth in the backfield.

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Derek Newton injury underscores the risks, realities of pro football

BALTIMORE, MD - OCTOBER 16:  Derek Newton #75 of the Houston Texans walks the sidelines during the second half against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on October 16, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ravens won 29-14.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) Getty Images

Far too many football fans have grown numb over the years to the very real physical toll that life in the NFL inflicts on the men who participate in the sport.

“So-and-so had surgery. It was a success. And he’s already ahead of schedule in his rehab efforts.”

It’s not nearly that simple for the people who find their bodies invaded by surgical tools, repaired, and closed up again. From risk of infection to other complications in the recovery process to the pain and discomfort that often entails the use of potent narcotics to an arduous rehab process that can consume months, it’s a difficult aspect of football that happens to dozens of players every year.

While serious injuries don’t happen on a regular basis, they happen often enough that every player who steps onto a football field accepts the very real risk that they won’t be stepping off the field without partial or complete assistance. Consider the case of Texans right tackle Derek Newton. He’ll spend WEEKS in a wheelchair after rupturing both patella tendons on Monday night, and that’s just the beginning.

From a wheelchair to crutches to learning how to walk to learning how to run to trying to once again have a normal life long before the question of whether he can play football again will even be remotely relevant.

“He gets paid millions,” some will say with a shrug. Sure, he does. But his ability to continue to be paid those millions is now in jeopardy.

Besides, he’s about to go through a major hardship in an effort to recover from his injuries. How many would take the money if doing so meant dealing with a pair of ruptured patella tendons at the same time?

Even if you truly would, the risks and realities of injuries bad enough to require surgery should never be disregarded when “next man up” causes fans and media to treat the last guy in as out of sight and out of mind.

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Jordan Reed declares himself 100 percent after latest concussion

LANDOVER, MD - JANUARY 10: Tight end Jordan Reed #86 of the Washington Redskins looks on against the Green Bay Packers in the fourth quarter during the NFC Wild Card Playoff game at FedExField on January 10, 2016 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

Washington tight end Jordan Reed has missed the last two games with a concussion, but he says he’ll be good to go for Sunday’s game in London against the Bengals.

I’m feeling 100 percent,” Reed said. “I feel symptom-free. I feel back to normal.”

Reed still needs to be cleared by an independent doctor as part of the league’s concussion protocol, but he sounds confident that he’s going to play on Sunday.

The 26-year-old Reed has already been diagnosed with five concussions in his NFL career, leading to concerns about his long-term health. Given those concerns, the team would be wise to play it safe with Reed and err on the side of giving him more time off, even if he’s insisting that he’s ready to go.

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Devonta Freeman back to full participation for Falcons

ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 11:  Devonta Freeman #24 of the Atlanta Falcons rushes against DeAngelo Hall #23 of the Washington Redskins at Georgia Dome on August 11, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Falcons should have at least one of their top running backs available when they play the Packers Sunday.

Coach Dan Quin told reporters that running back Devonta Freeman would be a full participant in today’s practice, after he was held out of contact yesterday.

Freeman was listed with a hip injury, but that has seemingly cleared up overnight.

The Falcons held running back Tevin Coleman (hamstring) and pass-rusher Dwight Freeney (quadriceps, old) out of practice again Thursday. The Falcons seem to expect that Coleman won’t be ready this week, when they signed two running backs to the active roster.

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Tony Romo in helmet, uniform at Cowboys practice

SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 02:   Injured quarterback Tony Romo #8 of the Dallas Cowboys reacts after defeating the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium on October 2, 2016 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Getty Images

Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo threw the ball at Wednesday’s practice, which marked a step forward in his return from a broken bone in his back albeit one that took place without Romo wearing a helmet, jersey or any of the other pieces of equipment that would have allowed him to be an official participant in the session.

Romo is throwing again at Thursday’s practice, although he’s doing so in a different outfit. Romo is wearing a helmet and jersey for the first time since getting hurt in the preseason.

Before the practice got underway on Thursday, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said that Romo looked good on Wednesday and deemed his status as “day-to-day” in terms of when he might be able to move to a fuller workload.

There’s no reason for the Cowboys to officially make it known if they’re sticking with Dak Prescott as their starting quarterback until that happens, although it does appear the day that call will have to be made is drawing closer.

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LeSean McCoy out of practice again on Thursday

Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy (25) watches the game from the sidelines, during the second half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016, in Miami Gardens, Fla. McCoy was held to 11 yards and had to leave during the third quarter after he aggravated his left hamstring.(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky) AP

The Bills kept running back LeSean McCoy in the lineup last weekend despite a hamstring injury that led to several reports that he’d miss the game.

McCoy didn’t produce much against the Dolphins and then had to leave the game when the hamstring flared up over the course of the game. McCoy said he felt good heading into the game and Bills coach Rex Ryan defended the decision to play along those lines, but there might not be as much reason to take things all the way to kickoff against the Patriots this week.

McCoy missed his second straight day of practice on Thursday and that suggests that the results of playing him against New England wouldn’t look that different than they looked against Miami last Sunday. The Bills have said they’ll see how things progress over the course of the week, but the nature of hamstring injuries in general and McCoy’s specific history with such issues make it hard to say pushing it is the right decision.

Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin, safety Aaron Williams, left tackle Cordy Glenn and linebacker Zach Brown also missed their second practice of the week. Chris Brown of the team’s website reports that left guard Richie Incognito is also out for Thursday’s practice, although doesn’t supply a reason for his absence.

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