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PFT’s Week Three Picks

Ben Getty Images

Last week, I had my chance to pull even with MDS.  Thanks to a Panthers defense that was playing not to lose and a blown coverage at the goal line that guaranteed it, I had prevailed in the only disagreement of the day.

But then came the night game.  And I was one of the “ignorant idiots” who thought the 49ers could beat the Seahawks in Seattle.

The result was a push for the week, with both of us getting 12 right and four wrong.  For the year, I’m 23-9, and MDS is 24-8.

This week, all hell will break loose, Breaking Bad style.  We disagree on SIX of the games.  For all the picks from Week Three, scroll baby, scroll.

Chiefs at Eagles

MDS’s take: Can Andy Reid return to Philadelphia and get his team to 3-0? It would be a great story, but I don’t see it happening: Chip Kelly’s offense will put too many points on the board for Reid’s more conservative offense to keep up.

MDS’s pick: Eagles 31, Chiefs 27.

Florio’s take:  Week Two helped everyone make better sense of Week One.  And it appears through both games that the Chiefs doing what coach Andy Reid wants them to do, and that the Eagles are still a work in progress under Chip Kelly.  This may be Big Red’s only chance to win another game in Philly.  It’s unlikely he’ll squander it.

Florio’s pick:  Chiefs 27, Eagles 20.

Texans at Ravens

MDS’s take: The defending Super Bowl champions just haven’t looked particularly good on either side of the ball this season, and I don’t see that changing any time soon. J.J. Watt is going to make life miserable for Joe Flacco as Houston wins a low-scoring game.

MDS’s pick: Texans 17, Ravens 9.

Florio’s take:  Both teams are banged up a bit, and each has struggled.  Give the home team the edge — even though Ed Reed could end up making the difference for Houston.

Florio’s pick:  Ravens 24, Texans 21.

Packers at Bengals

MDS’s take: I like the way the Bengals’ defense is playing, but I like the way Aaron Rodgers is playing more. Expect Rodgers to have a big game as the Packers improve to 2-1.

MDS’s pick: Packers 30, Bengals 20.

Florio’s take:  Green Bay’s defense is better, and its offense at times is unstoppable.  The Packers offensive line has been holding up well enough to let 2011 NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers play like a serious contender for 2013 NFL MVP.

Florio’s pick:  Packers 31, Bengals 27.

Giants at Panthers

MDS’s take: I viewed both of these teams as playoff contenders heading into the season, but the loser will be 0-3, and it’s awfully tough for any team to dig itself out of a hole that deep. Both teams have offensive problems that need to be corrected, and I have more confidence in Tom Coughlin and his staff to figure out a way to cut down on the turnovers than I have in Ron Rivera and his staff to find a way to get Cam Newton making big plays again. So I’m leaning toward the Giants in a close one.

MDS’s pick: Giants 21, Panthers 20.

Florio’s take:  Last year in Week Three, the Giants blew out the Panthers in their own building.  And the Giants still didn’t make the playoffs.  This year, it won’t be as ugly against a Panthers team that has been playing not to lose — and that has no one to cover Victor Cruz.

Florio’s pick:  Giants 27, Panthers 17.

Rams at Cowboys

MDS’s take: I’m not really sold on either of these teams as NFC playoff contenders, although the NFC East looks so weak that the Cowboys just need to hang around .500 all season to stay in the race. I see the Cowboys getting above .500 with a close home win over the Rams.

MDS’s pick: Cowboys 21, Rams 17.

Florio’s take:  The all-time series is tied at 11-11 in the regular season, and 4-4 in the postseason.  The easy pick is the Cowboys, who held serve (finally) against the Giants in Week One to start the season.  But the right pick could be the Rams, who held off a Cardinals team that beat the Lions — and who rebounded from a deep deficit against the Falcons to make a game of it on Sunday.

Florio’s pick:  Rams 24, Cowboys 23.

Browns at Vikings

MDS’s take: I was tempted to pick the upset before the Browns traded Trent Richardson because I thought Richardson could move the ball effectively against the suspect Vikings run defense. But I just can’t pick a team to win on the road with Brian Hoyer as its starting quarterback and no running backs who have carried the ball a single time all season.

MDS’s pick: Vikings 20, Browns 13.

Florio’s take:  Brian Hoyer, Jason Campbell, Brandon Weeden, Bernie Kosar.  It doesn’t matter.  The Trent Richardson trade puts extra pressure on the passing game against a Vikings team playing the first game of its final season in the Metrodome.  Adrian Peterson will show the Browns what they hoped they were getting when they traded up with Minnesota to take Richardson.

Florio’s pick:  Vikings 27, Browns 14.

Buccaneers at Patriots

MDS’s take: The Bucs have played better than their 0-2 record suggests. The Patriots have played worse than their 2-0 record suggests. This is a close game, but in the end the Patriots will pull it out at home.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 24, Buccaneers 17.

Florio’s take:  The Pats are 2-0 and could be 0-2.  The Bucs are 0-2 and could be 2-0.  But New England is the team with the franchise quarterback and the coach with enough pelts on the wall to justify antisocial behavior.

Florio’s pick:  Patriots 20, Buccaneers 10.

Cardinals at Saints

MDS’s take: The Saints have started 2-0 without their offense really breaking out yet. Week Three will be when we see Sean Payton’s offense shine.

MDS’s pick: Saints 31, Cardinals 10.

Florio’s take:  The Cardinals are better than anyone thought they’d be.  And that will serve them very well.  But not in New Orleans against the Saints, who also are better than anyone thought they’d be.

Florio’s pick:  Saints 31, Cardinals 24.

Chargers at Titans

MDS’s take: The Titans’ defense is a lot better than it was last year, and I think Gregg Williams deserves a lot of the credit. Before he was known for Bountygate, Williams was known for devising aggressive schemes that gave opposing quarterbacks fits, and that’s what he’s doing in Tennessee this season. His defense will give Philip Rivers fits on Sunday as the Titans improve to 2-1.

MDS’s pick: Titans 20, Chargers 10.

Florio’s take:  The franchises that squared off in the first two AFL title games get together, with both so far looking like potential playoff teams.  Flip a coin, throw a dart, light a match.  What the Chargers did in Philly was more impressive than what the Titans did in Pittsburgh.

Florio’s pick:  Chargers 28, Titans 25.

Lions at Redskins

MDS’s take: I’ve gone back and forth on this one: When Washington has the ball, I could see Robert Griffin III having his best game of the season against a suspect Lions secondary, but I could also see a talented Lions line making life miserable for Griffin. When Detroit has the ball, I could see Matthew Stafford putting up huge numbers against a defense that has looked terrible this year, but I could also see the Lions struggling if Reggie Bush is at less than 100 percent. Ultimately, I think the story of the game will be that Washington still doesn’t have its defensive problems fixed.

MDS’s pick: Lions 31, Redskins 30.

Florio’s take:  The Lions have never ever ever never ever never won in D.C.  The Redskins have never ever ever never ever never won in 2013, dating back to January.  Though we don’t know whether No. 21 will be available, it’s time for Detroit to end an 0-21 road streak that dates back well before the commencement of the Curse of Bobby Layne.

Florio’s pick:  Lions 27, Redskins 20.

Falcons at Dolphins

MDS’s take: The Dolphins’ defense is good against the pass and bad against the run. Unfortunately for the Falcons, with Steven Jackson out they can’t take advantage of Miami’s biggest weakness. The Dolphins will improve to 3-0 with a low-scoring win.

MDS’s pick: Dolphins 17, Falcons 13.

Florio’s take:  Could the 13-3 Falcons plunge to 1-2?  Yes they could, thanks to an improving Dolphins team that has started the season with a pair of road wins.  Injuries aren’t helping matters for the defending NFC South champions, who’ll need to help their offensive lineman in order to ensure Matt Ryan doesn’t join the list of the limping.

Florio’s pick:  Dolphins 24, Falcons 20.

Bills at Jets

MDS’s take: It’s billed as the battle of AFC East rookie quarterbacks, but neither Buffalo’s EJ Manuel nor New York’s Geno Smith will be able to do much in a game that will be dominated by defense. I’m picking the Jets to win by a field goal.

MDS’s pick: Jets 9, Bills 6.

Florio’s take:  This battle of rookie quarterbacks will overshadow a far more intriguing subtext relating to the return of former Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine to face his former boss, Rex Ryan.  The road team simply has the better overall talent.  Which means that, at least for now, the servant becomes the master — and the Bills become the third-best team in the division.

Florio’s pick:  Bills 20, Jets 17.

Colts at 49ers

MDS’s take: Last year the Colts got a lot of good breaks on the way to a surprising playoff run. This year the Colts are getting all kinds of bad breaks, and they’re crashing back to earth. The 49ers will rebound from Sunday’s loss in Seattle and beat the Colts easily.

MDS’s pick: 49ers 28, Colts 10.

Florio’s take:  It’s a Stanford reunion, with Andrew Luck and Jim Harbaugh and Coby Fleener and Pep Hamiltion reminiscing about their mutual dislike of Pete Carroll and Cal.  After, of course, the 49ers take care of business against a team that saw five of its six total losses in 2012 come when playing away from home.

Florio’s pick:  49ers 35, Colts 20.

Jaguars at Seahawks

MDS’s take: In one of the most lopsided games in recent NFL history, the question isn’t so much who will win as by how much. I think it’s the Seahawks by a lot.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 38, Jaguars 10.

Florio’s take:  The CBS affiliate in Orlando will be apologizing again.  If the Seahawks can beat one of the best teams in the league by 26 in Seattle, this one could be historic.

Florio’s pick:  Seahawks 45, Jaguars 6.

Bears at Steelers

MDS’s take: The Steelers’ offense has been dismal this season, and the Bears’ defense isn’t going to make things any easier. The Bears improve to 3-0 and the Steelers drop to 0-3.

MDS’s pick: Bears 24, Steelers 10.

Florio’s take:  The Steelers rarely are on the mat.  When it happens, they find a way to get up.  Eight years ago, they were left for dead after a loss to the Bengals, and the Steelers sparked a run that resulted in a Super Bowl win by beating the Bears at Heinz Field.  Though it’s way too early to even think about playoffs in Pittsburgh (except for the baseball team), it’s not too early to envision a proud franchise mustering enough punch to bring the 2-0 Bears back down to earth a bit.

Florio’s pick:  Steelers 20, Bears  16.

Raiders at Broncos

MDS’s take: This is going to be a more competitive game than most people think. The Raiders aren’t quite the doormats that people were expecting them to be. Still, with Tyvon Branch injured, I don’t see any way the Raiders keep Peyton Manning in check, and it’s going to be tough for Terrelle Pryor and the Raiders’ offense to keep up.

MDS’s pick: Broncos 31, Raiders 23.

Florio’s takeRyan Clady or not, the better-than-expected Raiders still aren’t good enough to hang with the Broncos in their own building.  Look for another big night from Peyton Manning, who knows his supply of prime-time opportunities is dwindling.

Florio’s pick:  Broncos 45, Raiders 20.

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Captain Munnerlyn on Adrian Peterson hiatus: “I really don’t get it.”

St. Louis Rams v Minnesota Vikings AP

The Minnesota Vikings came to the decision to place running back Adrian Peterson on the exempt list early Wednesday morning to keep him away from all team activities until the resolution of his legal issues.

However, not all members of the Vikings organization seem to understand the move.

Minnesota cornerback Captain Munnerlyn disagrees with the decision and believes that Peterson should still be allowed to play with the team.

“I think he should be able to play football. I really don’t get it,” Munnerlyn said, via Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “And at the end of the day I know they came up with the decision, but I really don’t get it.”

Munnerlyn said he received similar treatment as a child as to what Peterson  did to cause injuries to his 4-year old son. He doesn’t see anything wrong with that style of discipline being levied by a parent and believes that Peterson is being treated unfairly.

If Adrian wasn’t in the limelight I don’t think this would be coming up at all because you raise your kids how you raise your kids,” Munnerlyn said. “I think Adrian is a great guy, great dude, great father, great football player, and I just think the way he’s been treated is unfair.

Munnerlyn said Peterson hasn’t been convicted of anything and he supports Peterson and everything he did.

Regardless of Munnerlyn’s thoughts, Peterson still won’t be playing for the Vikings any time soon.

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Week Three skill position injury report

Tony Romo AP

Below is a compilation of skill position players listed on Wednesday’s Week Three injury report. Players bolded might be of particular interest to fantasy football players:

Did not practice

Rams WR Tavon Austin (knee).

Giants WR Odell Beckham (hamstring).

Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin (knee).

Colts RB Ahmad Bradshaw (other).

Cowboys WR Dez Bryant (shoulder).

Panthers WR Philly Brown (ankle).

Bengals RB Rex Burkhead (knee).

Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles (ankle).

49ers TE Vernon Davis (ankle, knee).

Cardinals RB Andre Ellington (foot).

Ravens QB Joe Flacco (illness).

Jaguars RB Toby Gerhart (foot).

Bengals WR A.J. Green (toe).

Jaguars TE Clay Harbor (calf).

Rams TE Cory Harkey (knee).

Jaguars WR Allen Hurns (ankle).

Washington WR DeSean Jackson (shoulder).

Raiders RB Maurice Jones-Drew (hand).

Saints RB Mark Ingram (hand).

Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch (back).

Chargers RB Ryan Mathews (knee).

49ers TE Vance McDonald (knee).

Steelers TE Heath Miller (not injury related).

Seahawks TE Zach Miller (ankle).

Dolphins RB Knowshon Moreno (elbow).

Cowboys RB Joseph Randle (concussion).

Washington TE Jordan Reed (hamstring).

Cowboys QB Tony Romo (back).

Buccaneers TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (ankle) — out.

Raiders WR Rod Streater (hip).

Browns RB Ben Tate (knee).

Panthers RB Mike Tolbert (chest).

Colts WR Reggie Wayne (other).

Falcons WR Roddy White (hamstring) — questionable.

Panthers RB Fozzy Whittaker (thigh).

Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams (thigh).

Limited

Steelers RB Dri Archer (ankle).

Panthers WR Jason Avant (thigh).

Lions RB Joique Bell (knee).

Browns TE Jordan Cameron (shoulder).

Dolphins TE Charles Clay (knee).

Patriots WR Julian Edelman (back).

Cowboys TE Gavin Escobar (knee).

Texans TE C.J. Fiedorowicz (foot).

Washington PK Kai Forbath (right groin).

Texans RB Arian Foster (hamstring).

Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski (knee).

Rams QB Shaun Hill (thigh).

Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (groin).

Eagles WR Josh Huff (shoulder).

Jaguars WR Marqise Lee (hamstring).

Buccaneers RB Doug Martin (knee) — questionable.

Panthers TE Greg Olsen (calf).

Titans RB Dexter McCluster (foot).

Broncos PK Brandon McManus (right groin).

Seahawks RB Christine Michael (hamstring).

Lions RB Montell Owens (hamstring).

Cardinals QB Carson Palmer (right shoulder).

Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph (abdomen).

Jaguars WR Cecil Shorts (hamstring).

Vikings WR Rodney Smith (hamstring).

Chiefs RB De’Anthony Thomas (hamstring).

Patriots RB Shane Vereen (shoulder).

Bills WR Robert Woods (ankle).

Washington RB Darrel Young (neck).

Full

Browns WR Travis Benjamin (knee).

Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe (quadricep).

Steelers WR Martavis Bryant (shoulder).

Eagles TE Zach Ertz (knee).

Texans TE Garrett Graham (ankle).

Chiefs RB Cyrus Gray (foot).

Chiefs WR Frankie Hammond (shoulder).

Dolphins WR Brian Hartline (back).

Seahawks TE Cooper Helfet (knee).

Washington RB Roy Helu (quadricep).

Chiefs WR Junior Hemingway (hip).

49ers RB Carlos Hyde (calf).

Texans WR Andre Johnson (ankle).

Falcons WR Julio Jones (ankle) — probable.

Jaguars RB Storm Johnson (ankle).

Steelers WR Lance Moore (groin).

Bills WR Sammy Watkins (ribs).

Eagles WR Brad Smith (groin).

Titans QB Charlie Whitehurst (right finger).

Chiefs WR Albert Wilson (ankle).

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Marshawn Lynch sits out practice Wednesday with a sore back

Marshawn Lynch Getty Images

Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch left the sidelines early with still over a minute to play in Seattle’s 30-21 loss to the San Diego Chargers on Sunday.

Head coach Pete Carroll said Monday the reason for Lynch’s early departure was due to a sore back that tightened up late in the game.

“It’s an ongoing issue for him for years,” Carroll said. “It’s something we’re always monitoring”

Lynch did not practice with the Seahawks on Wednesday due to his back issue.

Lynch has only missed one game with Seattle since being acquired in a trade from the Buffalo Bills in October 2010. He was a scratch from Seattle’s 6-3 loss to the Cleveland Browns in 2011 after having back spasms before the game.

Lynch frequently doesn’t practice on Wednesdays throughout the season and always finds a way to play on Sunday.  The fact that the injury in question is Lynch’s back could be the one troubling issue for Seattle.

The Seahawks have grown increasingly more diligent on limiting his workload in practice to keep him fresh for games. Despite sitting out Wednesday, alarm bells over Lynch’s status for games should only go off if he misses multiple practices in a week.

 

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“Goodell Must Go” banner to fly over Georgia Dome on Thursday night

Goodell Reuters

The Commissioner wants to become a leader in the “domestic violence space.”  A group opposing domestic violence will return to the airspace (see what I did there?) over an NFL stadium with the message that it’s too late.

The national women’s advocacy organization known as UltraViolet will once again fly a “Goodell Must Go” banner over the site of a prime-time, nationally televised game.  The group announced Wednesday that the banner will fly over the Georgia Dome before Thursday night’s game between the Buccaneers and the Falcons.

The message could be lost on the folks attending the game, since the stadium is, you know, a dome.  But those outside will see it from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. ET, and it appears the organization has no plan to stop its push for change at the top of the league office.

Last week, the banner flew at multiple NFL venues, including MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.

While the assault has largely subsided in recent days, the outcome of the NFL’s investigation regarding the Ray Rice situation and the NFLPA appeal of the indefinite suspension imposed on Rice will have a strong influence, one way or the other, whether the owners will change Commissioners.

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Mark Davis: Paid leave should follow domestic violence charges, allegations

Mark Davis AP

An NFL owner believes paid leave from league activities should follow an arrest or allegation of domestic violence.

In a story published Wednesday, Raiders owner Mark Davis told Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News that “if somebody’s accused or arrested in a domestic violence case, they should be suspended with pay.”

Davis’ remarks come as the NFL and its clubs have come under major criticism for their treatment of and reaction to domestic and family issues. The remarks also come on a day where Vikings tailback Adrian Peterson, Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy and Cardinals tailback Jonathan Dwyer were asked to stay away from their clubs as their legal issues were resolved, a marked change in how teams have responded to off-field issues in the past.

In the Mercury News interview, Davis also weighed in on the 49ers’ decision to allow defensive lineman Ray McDonald to continue playing after his August 31 arrest on domestic charges, telling the newspaper he believed a suspension would be a better policy but that he understood the Niners’ position.

“I see what the 49ers and [owner] Jed (York) are going through and what they’re saying, ‘Innocent until proven guilty’ and that’s the American way. But I think we have to get this right, and suspension with pay in those cases (while the investigation moves forward) is the only thing that makes sense to me right now,” Davis said, according to the Mercury News.

If nothing else, Davis’ suggestion — if made a policy — would at least be a standardized approach to an issue that has riddled the league and its teams.

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Richard Sherman says he didn’t reufuse to speak to media after loss to Chargers

Sherman Getty Images

After the Seahawks fell to the Chargers on Sunday, Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman reportedly refused to speak to the media.  Sherman disputes that contention.

“When I got done taking a shower and everything Earl [Thomas] was being interviewed and I stood there for a while and nobody came to me,” Sherman told reporters on Wednesday.  “I put my stuff on and walked out.  I signed a few autographs and then there was a guy who asked for an autograph and then asked for an interview after the autograph and I though this guy can’t be serious.  That might have been the guy that said I wasn’t talking to media, but I didn’t really consider him media.”

After later in the Wednesday press conference about the subject, Sherman reiterated his position that he was available.

“I was literally standing in my locker,” Sherman said.  “Earl [Thomas] was being interviewed.  When you come off the field in a 120-degree game, and the locker room is about 90, you probably don’t want to stand there for an extra hour waiting for everyone to get done for interviews.  I’m tired and I’m hot.  I’m trying to get cool.  So I sat there though, I was available. . . .   I didn’t sneak off.  I was standing there and they just happened to be interviewing other people, nobody called for me and said, ‘Hey Sherm.'”

It’s unclear whether members of the media who were covering the game dispute Sherman’s account.  If they do, those with Twitter accounts may have something to say.

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Vernon Davis doesn’t practice on Wednesday

San Francisco 49ers v Dallas Cowboys Getty Images

One of the 49ers’ top pass catchers didn’t take part in the club’s first major on-field work of the week.

Tight end Vernon Davis (knee, ankle) didn’t practice Wednesday, according to the injury report. However, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh indicated Wednesday the club believed it had “dodged a bullet” with Davis, who was injured on a fourth quarter tackle in the Niners’ 28-20 loss to the Bears on Sunday.

Harbaugh also said he was optimistic that tight end would “be a healthy position by the end of the week,” according to a transcript of his remarks from the club.

Davis wasn’t the only Niners tight end to sit out Wednesday, with Vance McDonald (knee) also not participating.

Other 49ers not working Wednesday were cornerback Tramaine Brock (toe), right tackle Anthony Davis (hamstring), center Marcus Martin (knee) and defensive end Justin Smith (not injury related). Left tackle Joe Staley (knee) was limited, with tailback Carlos Hyde (calf) a full participant.

The 49ers (1-1) face the unbeaten Cardinals in Arizona on Sunday.

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Cardinals deactivate Dwyer after domestic violence arrest

dwyer AP

Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer, who was arrested today in a domestic violence incident, has been deactivated by the team.

“We became aware of these allegations this afternoon when notified by Phoenix police and are cooperating fully,” the Cardinals said in a statement. “Given the serious nature of the allegations we have taken the immediate step to deactivate Jonathan from all team activities. We will continue to closely monitor this as it develops and evaluate additional information as it becomes available.”

The Cardinals are now following the lead of the Vikings with Adrian Peterson and the Panthers with Greg Hardy by excusing the accused player while the legal case plays out. The Cardinals stand in sharp contrast, however, to the 49ers, who are continuing to allow Ray McDonald to play even after he was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence.

Although Dwyer’s arrest came today, it reportedly stems from an incident with his wife in July.

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Dennis Allen won’t address speculation about his job security

allenryan AP

Raiders coach Dennis Allen isn’t in the mood to discuss his job security.

Amid talk that the Raiders may already be making plans to fire Allen and replace him with assistant Tony Sparano, Allen was asked today whether that kind of speculation can weigh on him. But Allen wouldn’t have any of it.

Here’s a partial transcript from Allen’s press conference today, via Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News:

Q: I’m sure you’ve seen or have been made aware of the speculation about your job, the general manager’s job… Does that matter to you? Do you disregard it?

ALLEN: What matters is getting ready for the New England Patriots. And that’s all I’m going to focus on.

Q: Do you think you’re on a short-term time-frame now?

ALLEN: Listen, I’m getting ready for the New England Patriots.

Allen said he has talked to Raiders General Manager Reggie McKenzie, but not to owner Mark Davis recently. Davis is the man who will ultimately make the decision about how long Allen lasts as the Raiders’ coach. If Allen wants to impress his boss, he’d better take a cue from his boss’s dad, and just win, baby.

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Cardinals’ Jonathan Dwyer arrested in domestic violence incident

dwyer AP

Another NFL player is facing a domestic violence accusation.

Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer has been accused of domestic violence stemming from an incident with his wife, according to Tyler Baldwin of 3 TV in Phoenix. That report says the fight with his wife happened “a while ago,” but she kept records of her injuries. Phoenix TV station KTAR reports that Dwyer was pulled from practice today and questioned at Phoenix Police headquarters.

Dwyer was arrested on charges of aggravated assault and preventing someone from calling 911 in a domestic violence incident, according to the CBS Evening News Twitter account. A police spokesman told the Arizona Republic that Dwyer was arrested.

The incident comes at a time when domestic violence cases have shaken the NFL, eroded fans’ trust and threatened the job of Commissioner Roger Goodell.

The 25-year-old Dwyer is in his first season with the Cardinals after spending the previous four seasons with the Steelers. He has played in both of the Cardinals’ games this season and has 16 carries for 51 yards. Because he’s not a star player (unlike other accused players like Ray Rice, Greg Hardy and Adrian Peterson), it wouldn’t be at all surprising for the Cardinals simply to cut him and try to get this case behind them as soon as possible.

Of course, if the Cardinals do cut Dwyer, the next man up on the roster would likely be practice squad running back Chris Rainey — who has had two separate domestic violence incidents, one in college that got him kicked off the team at Florida, and one in the NFL that got him cut by the Steelers. Which serves as a reminder that the NFL has to do a whole lot more to get domestic abusers out of the league.

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Some teams think exempt list isn’t being used as intended

Peterson Getty Images

The Vikings and Panthers both were able to take the heat out of the proverbial kitchen, thanks to the little-used Exempt/Commissioner’s Permission list.  It allowed the teams to nudge off the roster a couple of key players with pending legal issues, without having to cut or trade them.

Cutting Adrian Peterson or Greg Hardy would have put the Vikings and Panthers, respectively, on the hook for the balance of their eight-figure salaries, given the Termination Pay provision of he labor deal.  Deactivating them on a weekly basis left the teams with, as a practical matter, only 52 players on the roster.  Also, it required the teams to allow the players to come to practice and, in theory, attend games.

“The Exempt List is a special player status available to clubs only in unusual circumstances,” the NFL’s Player Personnel Manual provides.  “The List includes those players who have been declared by the Commissioner to be temporarily exempt from counting within the Active List limit. Only the Commissioner has the authority to place a player on the Exempt List; clubs have no such authority, and no exemption, regardless of circumstances, is automatic. The Commissioner also has the authority to determine in advance whether a player’s time on the Exempt List will be finite or will continue until the Commissioner deems the exemption should be lifted and the player returned to the Active List.”

Some other teams are griping about a device that essentially allows the Vikings and Panthers to carry 54 players on their rosters.

“It was really put in place for players coming off suspension to get reacclimated,” one league source told PFT regarding the exemption.

The reality is that today’s unique utilization of the exemption will soon not be.  For players facing criminal charges under circumstances that result in a significant amount of fan, media, and/or sponsor pressure, this specific exemption could become the wave of the future.

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Bill O’Brien: Expect more of J.J. Watt at tight end

J.J. Watt AP

J.J. Watt has done just about everything there is to do as a defensive end for the Texans, so he expanded his portfolio against Oakland last weekend.

Watt played a couple of snaps at tight end during the 30-14 victory and caught a touchdown pass from quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Watt said Wednesday, via Art Stapleton of the North Jersey Record, that he was “most definitely” ready for more if the coaches want to give it to him.

Coach Bill O’Brien is willing to do that or at least make others think he’s willing to do that. Jordan Raanan of NJ.com reports that O’Brien said we should expect to see more of Watt at tight end in a future that starts with this week’s game against the Giants.

Watt has a pretty good shoulder to lean on when it comes to moonlighting on offense. Texans linebackers coach Mike Vrabel caught 10 regular season passes for 10 touchdowns while he was a linebacker for the Patriots and Chiefs. Vrabel added two more in Super Bowls XXXVIII and XXXIX that helped the Patriots hold off the Panthers and Eagles and added up to a nice little side business.

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Panthers announce Greg Hardy takes “voluntary leave”

Greg Hardy AP

For the second time today, a high-profile NFL player facing legal trouble has been banished from his team.

Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy will, like Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, go on the commissioner’s exempt list until is legal case has run its course. Hardy is awaiting a jury trial on a domestic violence charge.

“The Panthers have announced that DE Greg Hardy will take a voluntary leave of absence from team,” a brief statement from the team read.

Presumably Hardy agreed to the voluntary leave because the Panthers told him if he didn’t, they’d give him an involuntary leave. Hardy, who will continue to be paid his salary of about $770,000 a week, released a statement saying he accepts the decision.

“I understand that I need to step away from football right now and take care of this legal matter,” Hardy said in a statement. “I am entitled to due process and my day in court, and that’s where my focus should be.”

Although Hardy was convicted by a judge, the Panthers initially said they would allow him to seek a jury trial, as is his right in North Carolina, before taking any action. However, after harsh criticism following their decision to play him in Week One, the Panthers deactivated Hardy for Week Two. Now he’s done for the foreseeable future.

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Colin Kaepernick will appeal $11,025 fine for language

Colin Kaepernick AP

There seems to be some dispute about what 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick did or did not say to Bears defensive end LaMarr Houston.

Now he’ll get a chance to take it up with the league office on appeal.

According to Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com, Kaepernick was fined $11,025 for “inappropriate language” Sunday night, but said he would fight the penalty.

Houston said he didn’t hear anything, but one of the officials must have, as it was flagged on the spot.

He was the first player to be penalized for what he said on the field, so as test cases go, this could be an important one. The league emphasized to players this offseason that officials would be listening, though there is no list of bad words that are automatic flags.

(We should point out that we have offered our services to the league in codifying offensive language, since we consider ourselves experts.)

While the league has bigger fish to fry at the moment, getting this one right will be important, and Kaepernick’s appeal will be interesting to follow.

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Roddy White questionable, Jake Matthews probable for Falcons

Roddy White AP

Falcons coach Mike Smith said Tuesday that wide receiver Roddy White didn’t need to practice in order to play against the Buccaneers on Thursday night, so you wouldn’t expect the fact that White spent another day on the sideline on Wednesday to have much bearing on how he’s listed on the team’s injury report for their game.

It didn’t. White is listed as questionable, which means that the Falcons will make a final call about whether or not White can go on a balky hamstring. Based on Smith’s comments, the best guess would be that White is in the lineup. How close to 100 percent he’ll be after also tweaking his knee in the opener is another question, however.

The Falcons have more certainty when it comes to left tackle Jake Matthews. He missed last week with an ankle injury, but he’s practiced this week and got a probable tag from the team. That should mean he’s back in the starting lineup with Gabe Carimi going back to his third tackle role or spelling Lamar Holmes on the right side.

Wide receiver Julio Jones (ankle) and linebacker Prince Shembo (knee) are also listed as probable for Atlanta.

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