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Mike Pereira says the NFL’s rulebook is too thick

Redskins team coach Shanahan argues with referee Hochuli during the team's NFL football game against the Lions in Landover Reuters

Mike Pereira used to be in charge of overseeing the enforcement of the NFL’s rules. Now he says the NFL has so many rules that the officials can’t keep them all straight.

In an appearance on FOX Sports 1, Pereira described officials not knowing the rules as a “very big deal,” and he cited three examples in the first three weeks of the season: The officials wrongly enforced offsetting penalties after the 49ers-Packers fracas, the officials wrongly gave the Vikings a 15-yard penalty instead of charging them with a timeout when Leslie Frazier challenged a play that was being reviewed automatically, and the officials wrongly picked up a penalty for a chop block on the Titans because they didn’t know that chop block penalties can be called on quarterback runs.

Pereira held up a copy of the rulebook and asked whether the rules need to be overhauled so that they’re easier to understand and enforce.

“The question has to become, has this manifesto become a little bit too big and too confusing?” Pereira said. “For the third time now in three weeks, we have the officials mis-enforcing a penalty.”

Each NFL offseason, the Competition Committee proposes a few new rules, and the owners vote to adopt some of them. Over the course of many offseasons, that results in a lot of new rules. Maybe what the NFL needs to do is spend one offseason studying the rulebook and looking not for items to add, but for items to subtract, simplify or clarify. A simpler rulebook could result in better officiating.

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LeGarrette Blount scores as Patriots lead Lions

blount AP

It didn’t take LeGarrette Blount to pick up where he left off with the Patriots.

Blount, who re-signed with the Patriots this week after the Steelers sent him packing, scored a three-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Tom Brady also has two touchdown passes, and the Patriots lead 21-6.

The Patriots’ offense has revolved around the passing game, with Blount as the leading rusher with just two carries for five yards late in the second quarter. Although New England went three-and-out on its first two offensive series, the Patriots have picked things up since then.

The Lions’ offense has struggled, with Matthew Stafford looking skittish behind a banged-up offensive line (left tackle Riley Reiff was hurt on the first play). Even when he’s on target, Stafford isn’t getting much help from his receivers: Joseph Fauria and Corey Fuller have both had passes go through their hands in the end zone.

The Lions have had some successful second-half comebacks this year. They’ll need their best second half of the season to beat the Patriots.

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Mike Evans does it again

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Chicago Bears Getty Images

Remember when it took time for first-round receivers to hit their stride?

In May, the Buccaneers took wideout Mike Evans No. 7 overall. And on Sunday in Chicago, Evans hauled in his eighth TD of the season to give Tampa Bay a 7-0 second-quarter lead.

Evans’ 19-yard TD catch was set up when Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy drilled Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, causing a fumble recovered by Tampa Bay.

On Evans’ touchdown, the 21-year-old former Texas A&M star beat Bears rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller. However, Evans did draw a taunting foul after the score. In the end, though, the Bears didn’t capitalize.

And it appears we are far from the end of Evans’ NFL highlight reel.

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Report: Andre Smith suffers triceps tear, MRI tomorrow

Andre Smith AP

The Bengals are off to a 9-0 lead on the Texans, but they may have suffered a significant loss.

According to Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports, Bengals right tackle Andre Smith has suffered a “significant tear” to his triceps. He’ll have an MRI tomorrow to determine the severity of the injury, but it’s obviously bad news for a line that has dealt with injuries up front all season.

Marshall Newhouse replaced him, but had to leave briefly after getting poked in the eye, though he was able to return.

The Bengals tried to extend their lead by going for a fourth-and-inches, but Andy Dalton’s fade pass to A.J. Green didn’t quite come together. The Bengals responded by recording a safety on the next Texans play.

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Vikings use long drive to tie the Packers

Green Bay Packers v Minnesota Vikings Getty Images

There was nothing easy about it, but the Vikings tied things up with the Packers.

A 14-play drive was capped by a 22-yard touchdown pass from Teddy Bridgewater to Charles Johnson, allowing the Vikings to even things up at home.

Minnesota converted a pair of fourth downs during the drive, including having an interception waved off because of a Packers holding penalty.

Bridgewater’s only completed 4-of-12 passes, but he’s at least been timely, and the Packers are letting them hang around.

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Eagles lose Zach Ertz, but lead 17-7 in second quarter

Pittsburgh Steelers v Tennessee Titans Getty Images

Sunday got off to a good start for the Eagles and things continued to go well for most of the first quarter.

The Titans went three plays and out on all three of their first quarter drives and Darren Sproles ran for a short touchdown as the Eagles built of Josh Huff’s game-opening kickoff return for a touchdown to take a 17-0 lead.

A Mark Sanchez interception helped close the gap, however. Sanchez made a poor throw to Riley Cooper that Cooper probably could have done more to keep from winding up in Brandon Ghee’s hands and the Titans capitalized a couple of plays later. Safety Malcolm Jenkins tipped a Zach Mettenberger pass to Justin Hunter, but Hunter was able to reel it in and keep going for a 40-yard touchdown that cut the Eagle lead to 10 points.

The Eagles also lost tight end Zach Ertz to an oblique injury as the first quarter wound down. He’s questionable to return to the game.

UPDATE 2:10 p.m. ET: Ertz is going to return to the game, which the Eagles now lead 20-14. Mettenberger and Delanie Walker hooked up on a 68-yard gain up the seam and Shonn Greene ran the ball in to draw the Titans closer.

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Turnovers the story early in Indianapolis

Andrew Luck AP

The defenses have ruled thus far in Indianapolis, with the Jaguars and Colts tied at three after one quarter.

The Jaguars and Colts have each tallied a field goal set up by a takeaway, with the Jaguars capitalizing on an Andrew Luck fumble on a sack and the Colts cashing in a Blake Bortles interception.

The Colts have had problems protecting Luck, who has been sacked four times thus far, losing a pair of fumbles when sacked. However, on both occasions, the Jaguars’ coverage was a factor.

Meanwhile, the underdog Jaguars have again struggled to play sound football. In addition to Bortles’ pick, Denard Robinson has lost a fumble. Even their made field goal was far from perfect; the Colts deflected the ball, but it made its way through the uprights nonetheless.

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Josh Gordon looks good, Browns tie score

Cleveland Browns v Atlanta Falcons Getty Images

Wide receiver Josh Gordon doesn’t look like he’s going to be too limited for the Browns on Sunday and that looks like a good thing for the Cleveland offense.

Gordon turned a screen pass into a 22-yard gain that took the Browns to the Atlanta 11-yard-line late in the first quarter. Running back Isaiah Crowell ran for a touchdown two plays later, tying the score at 7.

Gordon has seen plenty of playing time — 13-of-15 snaps — on the first two Browns possessions and was targeted on a deep pass on third down the first time the Browns had the ball. He was well covered by Desmond Trufant on the play, but Gordon was able to slip free for a 12-yard catch to mark his first reception of the 2014 season.

Atlanta opened the scoring with a Matt Ryan touchdown pass to Julio Jones, who was drafted with a pick Cleveland traded to Atlanta, for Jones’s first score since Week Three.

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Andre Smith done for the day with an arm injury

Atlanta Falcons v Cincinnati Bengals Getty Images

The Bengals were just getting used to having Andre Smith back in the lineup, now he’s gone again.

The veteran right tackle has left with an arm injury, and won’t return.

Smith was just getting back from an ankle problem, and has been replaced by Marshall Newhouse.

Injuries have plagued the Bengals up front all year, and having backups trying to slow J.J. Watt isn’t an ideal situation.

But they have put together their best drive of the day, and Mohamed Sanu got their on the board with a 6-yard catch-and-run touchdown.

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Free tickets to Jets-Bills are no longer free

Tickets Getty Images

After the NFL decided to move the game between the Jets and Bills to Detroit, tickets were distributed for free.  They could have picked a slightly higher price point.

According to Mike Rodak of ESPN.com, the tickets are gone — and at least one scalper was looking for $125 for a ticket to the game.

This ain’t a free game, man,” one scalper said.

While it’s unlikely that many tickets would have been sold at a face value of $125, the NFL presumably could have charged something for the tickets.  Five dollars.  Ten.  Even $19.95.

It’s a great gesture by the NFL to give the tickets away, something the league has done in past cases when circumstances forced a game to move.  But if someone is going to make money for something given away for nothing, maybe the something shouldn’t be given away.

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Eagles up 7-0 after opening kickoff

Philadelphia Eagles v Houston Texans Getty Images

The Eagles are trying to shake off last week’s blowout loss to the Packers and they got off on the right foot against the Titans on Sunday.

Josh Huff took the opening kickoff 107 yards for a touchdown to hand the Eagles a 7-0 lead 13 seconds into the game.

Huff’s touchdown continues a strong season for the Eagles special teams. Darren Sproles has two punt return scores, Chris Polk has also returned a kickoff for a touchdown and they’ve blocked five kicks so far this season. That knack for big plays eluded them last week as the Packers had a punt return for a score, but it seems the old magic has returned now that the Eagles are back on their home turf.

It’s also a nice change of pace for Huff, who has had a rocky rookie season up to this point.

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No Julius Thomas for Broncos today

Julius Thomas AP

The Broncos will be without at least one of their main passing targets today.

According to Jay Glazer of FOX Sports, Broncos tight end Jay Glazer won’t play today because of an ankle injury.

They had referred to him as a game-time decision, but it appears this one came in well in advance.

Thomas’ ankle injury wasn’t as bad as feared, but they’re still going to play it smart with a guy they’ll need coming down the stretch.

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Glazer: Browns plan to unleash Josh Gordon

Gordon Getty Images

The Browns will limit receiver Josh Gordon’s reps on Sunday.  Unless they don’t.

The battle lines have been drawn.  Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the Browns will use Gordon for only 20-30 snaps in his return from a 10-game suspension.  Jay Glazer of FOX reports that the Browns plan to unleash Gordon.

I’ve got no inside information on what the Browns plan to do, but the reality is that the plan often goes out the window once the game starts.  And with the Browns trying to keep their postseason hopes from going down the drain, they’ll do what they need to do to win games.  Which includes getting the most out of one of the most dynamic players in the league.

So whatever the over/under is for Gordon, take the over.

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Report: Vikings general counsel has been working against Peterson

Warren Getty Images

So who was Vikings running back Adrian Peterson referring to when he said that someone with the organization didn’t support him?

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, Peterson was referring to Vikings general counsel Kevin Warren.  Schefter also reports that Warren and the NFL have been working together to ensure that Peterson doesn’t play this season.

That fits squarely with our (or at least my) strong belief that someone decided back in the middle of September that Peterson wouldn’t play again this year, and that every decision, breached agreement, and/or misapplied policy has been aimed at keeping Peterson from playing this year.

“I know there’s people in the organization that support me and there’s people that I know internally that has not been supporting me,” Peterson told USA Today recently, without naming names.

A request for comment has been sent by PFT to the Vikings, but they’re less than 40 minutes from kickoff against the Packers.

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Matt Kalil, Greg Jennings active for Vikings

Minnesota Vikings v Green Bay Packers Getty Images

Of the four Vikings listed as questionable for Sunday’s game vs. Green Bay, three will suit up.

Wide receiver Greg Jennings (rib), left tackle Matt Kalil (knee) and wide receiver Jarius Wright (hamstring) are not among the club’s inactives for Week 12. Also active is newly acquired tailback Ben Tate, who figures to play behind rookie Jerick McKinnon.

However, while Jennings, Kalil and Wright will play, defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd (knee) is inactive. He was questionable after missing Thursday and Friday.

The Vikings’ other inactives are tailback Matt Asiata (concussion), fullback Zach Line, linebacker Mike Mauti, linebacker Brandon Watts, offensive guard Austin Wentworth and offensive guard David Yankey.

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Reggie Bush inactive, LeGarrette Blount active in New England

Miami Dolphins v Detroit Lions Getty Images

LeGarrette Blount was unhappy about being on the Steelers sideline less than a week ago.

Sunday will find him happier to be in a different but familiar uniform. The running back is active for the Patriots after signing up for a second tour of duty with the club on Thursday.

Blount joins last week’s rushing hero Jonas Gray, Shane Vereen, Brandon Bolden and James Develin in the backfield for the Patriots on Sunday with rookie James White on the inactive list. Coach Bill Belichick offered no hints about Blount’s potential role beyond saying that it is totally up to Blount.

While the Patriots get Blount back in the lineup this week, the Lions will have to wait a bit longer for Reggie Bush to return to their offense. He was listed as inactive for Sunday’s game, the second straight game he’s missed because of an ankle injury, and hopes to return for the Thanksgiving game against the Bears.

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