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NFL morning after: This is the Reggie Bush we’ve been waiting for

Reggie Bush, Major Wright AP

It’s been eight years now, so you can be forgiven if you’ve forgotten, but there was a time when Reggie Bush wasn’t just expected to be a good NFL player, wasn’t even expected to be a great NFL player, but was expected to be a transcendent NFL player. When Bush was running wild at USC in 2005, people talked about him like he was going to be some combination of Barry Sanders and Gale Sayers in the NFL, a player who had the talent to be the NFL’s best running back, the NFL’s best slot receiver and the NFL’s best kick returner, all in one package.

It didn’t happen, for a variety of reasons ranging from the fact that the team that drafted Bush, the Saints, really didn’t need him to be an every-down running back, to the fact that it was basically impossible for anyone to live up to the kinds of expectations that were on Bush coming out of college.

But what has happened in this, Bush’s eighth NFL season and first with the Lions, is that we’re finally getting the Reggie Bush we’ve been waiting for. The Lions have the right offense to take advantage of Bush’s skills, both as a runner and as a receiver, to get him the ball in space and to let him cut and spin and start and stop and hurdle and sprint to the end zone.

Bush did all of that and more on Sunday against the Bears, a game that might have been the best of his NFL career. Bush had 18 carries for 139 yards and added four catches for 34 yards, but those numbers don’t do justice to how electrifying he was. Bush’s 37-yard touchdown, on which he took a handoff up the middle, ran past defensive end Cornelius Washington before bouncing to the outside, hurdled safety Major Wright and then outraced cornerbacks Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman to the end zone was one of the most beautiful plays of this NFL season.

The Lions have made Bush their featured back in the running game and are giving him plenty of opportunities to carry the ball, and they’re also throwing him a lot of passes, not just out of the backfield but lined up as a slot receiver. Opposing defenses give so much respect to Lions receiver Calvin Johnson that Bush isn’t going to see many eight-man fronts, and he’s going to have a lot of room to make plays all season. Bush has only played two and a half games so far because he missed half of Week Two and all of Week Three with a knee injury, and durability will have to be a concern for Bush in Detroit, just as durability is a concern for any running back who gets the kind of workload the Lions are giving Bush. But if he can stay healthy the rest of the way, he has the potential to lead the league in yards from scrimmage, and lead the Lions to the playoffs.

Bush was my favorite player in any game on Sunday. Here are my other thoughts from Sunday’s games:

The Jets need to do more pushups. With all the Jets’ penalties last week, Rex Ryan implemented a new policy that whenever anyone committed a penalty in practice, everyone had to do pushups. It didn’t work. The Jets committed 10 more penalties on Sunday. Through four games this season, the Jets have committed 44 penalties, putting them on pace to commit 176 this year. The all-time NFL record is 163 penalties in a season, set by the Raiders two years ago.

Chip Kelly needs to be Chip Kelly. The reason I was so excited about Kelly leaving Oregon to coach the Eagles was that we had never seen a coach like Kelly in the NFL before. But while the Eagles’ fast-paced offense is fun to watch, for the most part I see Kelly coaching in Philadelphia like he did in college. At Oregon, Kelly wasn’t afraid to go for it on fourth down from anywhere on the field. But on Sunday in Denver, when the Eagles had a fourth-and-6 at Denver’s 37-yard line while trailing 21-13, Kelly took a delay of game penalty and then punted. Why not go for it? You’re playing the best team in the NFL on the road. You’re going to need to take some chances to pull the upset. I didn’t see the Eagles taking many chances on Sunday, when they punted four times, attempted three field goals and never went for it on fourth down despite trailing all game. Although the Eagles went for it on fourth-and-1 and got the first down on their first drive of the season, in the opening Monday night at Washington, Kelly has gone for it on fourth down just once since that very first drive. It’s disappointing to see Kelly turn into a conventional, risk-averse NFL coach.

Sean Lee is that rarest of creatures, an underrated Cowboy. Usually players on America’s Team are overhyped, but if anything Lee, a linebacker in his fourth year in Dallas, doesn’t get enough hype. Lee’s 2012 season was cut short by a toe injury after six games, but this year Lee is looking healthy and faster than ever, as he displayed on his 52-yard interception return for a touchdown. Lee did get beaten in coverage on a touchdown by Chargers tight end Antonio Gates, but that play aside he’s having a strong season, and if he stays healthy he’ll make his first Pro Bowl.

Kiko Alonso leads the league in interceptions. Alonso, the Bills’ second-round draft pick out of Oregon this year, came into Sunday’s game with two interceptions on the season and added two more of Joe Flacco in Sunday’s win over the Ravens. He now has four, tied with Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib and Titans cornerback Alterraun Verner for the most of any player in the NFL through four weeks. In addition to his interceptions, Alonso has been a tackling machine. The Bills look like they got a keeper. Alonso’s college coach Chip Kelly should have drafted Alonso in Philadelphia — the Eagles need all the help on defense they can get.

As usual, the Super Bowl hosts stink. The Super Bowl will be played in New Jersey at the end of this season, and we won’t be having any talk about a team playing a Super Bowl on its home field, as the Giants are 0-4 and the Jets are an ugly 2-2. This is probably more a coincidence than anything else, but the Super Bowl host team almost always has a lousy season. No Super Bowl host team has even made the playoffs since Tampa Bay in 2000, and not only has no team ever played in the Super Bowl on its own home field, but no team has ever even reached the conference championship in a postseason when the Super Bowl was on that team’s home field. The Cardinals host next season’s Super Bowl, the 49ers the year after that and the Texans the year after that. Sorry to fans in Arizona, San Francisco and Houston, but you can probably pencil in a disappointing season for your teams when the Super Bowl is coming to town.

Adrian Peterson breaks long runs like no one else, ever. Peterson’s 60-yard touchdown on Sunday was his 12th touchdown of 60 yards or more. No one else in NFL history has had even 10 touchdown runs of 60 or more yards. Jim Brown, who had nine 60-yard touchdown runs, is second in NFL history.

Peyton Manning is amazing. I know I said earlier that Bush was my favorite player in the NFL on Sunday, but I should probably add that I could say that about Manning every Sunday. Manning completed 28 of 34 passes for 327 yards, with four touchdowns and no interceptions against the Eagles, and he didn’t even play in the fourth quarter. His 16 touchdown passes are the most ever for any quarterback four weeks into the season. The Broncos have scored 179 points through four games, putting them on pace for 716 points this season, which would obliterate the 2007 Patriots’ NFL record of 589. This may be Manning’s best year yet — an amazing thing to say about a guy who has four league MVP awards.

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Falcons scoring at will, hold 28-17 halftime lead

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) passes in the first half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in New Orleans, Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Butch Dill) AP

A week after a strong showing on the road against the Giants, the bad Saints defense has returned.

The Saints have provided little resistance against Matt Ryan, Devonta Freeman and the Falcons. The Falcons lead the Saints, 28-17, at halftime.

A 4-yard shovel pass to Justin Hardy gave the Falcons a two-touchdown lead with 28 seconds left in the first half. The Falcons went 94 yards in eight plays and scored for the fourth consecutive possession.

Saints kicker Will Lutz hit a 57-yard field goal on the final play of the first half.

Tevin Coleman’s second rushing touchdown of the game capped a 75-yard scoring drive to make it 21-14. Freeman had 61 yards rushing and 13-yard touchdown catch with more than five minutes left in the second quarter.

Drew Brees has thrown a pair of touchdowns for the Saints. Rookie Michael Thomas caught his first NFL touchdown pass to tie the game at 14, but the Falcons marched right back down the field.

The Saints are missing some key people defensively, and they’re playing like it.

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As expected, Falcons and Saints off to hot start

New Orleans Saints tight end Coby Fleener (82) celebrates his touchdown reception in the first half of an NFL football game in New Orleans, Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Bill Feig) AP

The Saints got the ball first Monday night, and they drove for a touchdown.

The Falcons punted after their first possession, but R.J. Harris didn’t field it cleanly and Falcons linebacker LaRoy Reynolds recovered it at the Saints’ 11-yard line.

Three plays later, Tevin Coleman scored from 2 yards out to tie the game.

The Saints had marched 75 yards in 11 plays on the opening drive and scored on a 2-yard pass from Drew Brees to Coby Fleener, who caught his first touchdown with the Saints.

Brees was 5-of-5 for 46 yards on the first drive. It might take a bunch of points to win this one.

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Pete Carroll says Russell Wilson will practice Wednesday

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 25:  Quarterback Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks walks on the sidelines with his knee wrapped after coming out of the game in the second half against the San Francisco 49ers at CenturyLink Field on September 25, 2016 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) Getty Images

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has a left knee injury, to go with his right ankle injury. But it apparently won’t cause him to miss a beat.

“We’re planning on practicing him on Wednesday,” coach Pete Carroll told reporters regarding Wilson on Monday. Asked whether Wilson will be limited in practice, Carroll said, “We’ll see.”

Carroll initially said he expects Wilson to play on Sunday, with this caveat: “It’s really early to say because he hasn’t done anything other than just convince me of that thought, he’s done a very good job so far.”

Given the manner in which Wilson’s knee bent while being sacked against the 49ers, it’s amazing that practicing or playing is even a possibility. Carroll said earlier in the day that Wilson has an MCL sprain, of undisclosed degree.

“[H]e’s remarkably well off for having a play like that,” Carroll said. “He looks very good, very upbeat and positive about feeling like he’s going to be fine. It was just all positive.”

Carroll added that Wilson is “still working on his ankle a little bit,” and the coach was unable to say when the knee will heal.

The challenge for Wilson becomes avoiding new injuries while Wilson has limited mobility due to the two injuries he currently had. With a makeshift. work-in-progress offensive line, that will be easier said than done.

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Saints, Falcons players link hands in pregame show of unity

NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 27:  Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints leaves the field following a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 27, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  New Orleans defeated Jacksonville 38-27. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) Getty Images

All players from the Falcons and Saints stood for the singing of the national anthem Monday night, then they left the sidelines and headed towards midfield.

After the national anthem, players and coaches from both teams formed a circle around the 50-yard line and held hands for a show of unity and moment of reflection. Some bowed their heads, and after a few seconds the teams returned to their respective sidelines.

ESPN cameras followed the players and the circle, and play-by-play man Sean McDonough seemed to know it was coming. McDonough said players from both teams had discussed it and decided to go with a show of unity in light of last week’s police shootings and various demonstrations that have been going on around the NFL.

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Cowboys placing Collins on IR

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 8: Cole Beasley #11 and teammate La'el Collins #71 of the Dallas Cowboys celebrate after Beasley scored a touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles in the second half at AT&T Stadium on November 8, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) Getty Images

Cowboys offensive lineman La’El Collins will be placed on injured reserve with a toe injury, PFT has confirmed.

Collins has a torn ligament in his toe. The Cowboys will place him on injured reserve knowing they could possibly bring him back in 8-10 weeks if he heals properly.

Teams can activate one player per season from the injured-reserve list.

Collins, who went undrafted in 2015 because he was linked to a murder investigation involving an ex-girlfriend, started 11 games last season at left guard and has started all three this season.

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49ers OL Anthony Davis officially retires

TAMPA, FL -  DECEMBER 15:  Tackle Anthony Davis #76 of the San Francisco 49ers sets to block against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers December 15, 2013 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images) Getty Images

49ers offensive lineman Anthony Davis has informed the team that he’s retiring.

Davis had retired before last season, returned this season and had contemplated retirement before the regular season started. He suffered a concussion in practice following the season opener and isn’t planning to play again.

The team announced the news with a one-sentence statement.

A first-round pick in 2010, Davis started 71 of 72 career games at right tackle. He first retired after being limited to seven games in 2014.

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Report: Langford will miss 4-6 weeks

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 25: Jeremy Langford #33 of the Chicago Bears runs in the third quarter during a game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Chicago Bears at AT&T Stadium on September 25, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) Getty Images

Bears running back Jeremy Langford is expected to miss 4-6 weeks after suffering an ankle injury Sunday night vs. the Cowboys, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Monday night.

Bears Coach John Fox told reporters Monday that Langford had sprained his ankle but didn’t offer a timetable or many details about the injury.

Langford started the first three games of the season and ran for a touchdown in each of the first two. With Kadeem Carey out of the game with an injury, rookie Jordan Howard took over for Langford against the Cowboys.

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Julio Jones active, Kenny Vaccaro inactive on Monday night

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 18:  Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons scores a 21-yard touchdown against the Oakland Raiders during their NFL game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on September 18, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Falcons listed wide receiver Julio Jones as questionable to play because of a calf injury kept him from practicing twice last week, but it won’t keep him from playing on Monday night.

As he predicted after getting in a limited practice on Saturday, Jones is in the lineup for the NFC South matchup. The Falcons will also have safety Keanu Neal in the lineup for the first time since drafting him in the first round this year. Neal had knee surgery during the preseason.

The Saints didn’t have the same luck with the players they listed as questionable. Safety Kenny Vaccaro won’t be able to play because of an ankle injury while, as previously reported, a toe injury will sideline wide receiver Willie Snead. Linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, defensive tackle Tyeler Davison and tight end Josh Hill also drew the designation before being ruled out Monday. Left tackle Terron Armstead and cornerback Delvin Breaux were ruled out on Friday.

Linebackers De’Vondre Campbell and Paul Worrilow were ruled out on Friday as well. They join safety Dashon Goldson, defensive lineman Courtney Upshaw, guard Mike Person, guard Wes Schweitzer and tight end Joshua Perkins on the Atlanta inactive list.

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Thomas Rawls to miss more time

BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 13: Running back Thomas Rawls #34 of the Seattle Seahawks carries the ball past inside linebacker Daryl Smith #51 of the Baltimore Ravens in the first quarter at M&T Bank Stadium on December 13, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) Getty Images

Seahawks running back Thomas Rawls was listed as doubtful heading into Sunday’s game against the 49ers because of a leg injury, but he’ll be out on their reports in the near future.

Coach Pete Carroll said on Monday that further evaluation of the injury showed “a little crack” in the bone that will sideline Rawls for the time being.

‘They were able to find a little something in there in the evaluations today that wasn’t clear a week ago,” Carroll said, via Curtis Crabtree of PFT and 950 KJR. “It makes sense for how uncomfortable he was feeling. He’s got a little crack there that we’ve just got to take care of and wait it out a little bit.”

Carroll said that injured reserve wasn’t a consideration for Rawls at the moment and that the running back won’t be “incapacitated” as a result of the injury.

Christine Michael ran 20 times for 105 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday. Alex Collins and Terrence Magee worked behind him with C.J. Prosise inactive with a hand injury.

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Report: Browns offensive lineman Bailey arrested for OVI

KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 16:  Alvin Bailey #78 of the Seattle Seahawks walks to the line of scrimmage in the third quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on November 16, 2014 in Kansas City, Missouri.  The Chiefs defeated the Seahawks 24-20.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) Getty Images

Browns offensive lineman Alvin Bailey was arrested for operating a vehicle while intoxicated early Monday morning, a few hours after returning from an overtime loss at Miami.

The Royalton Post reported that Bailey admitted to drinking on the team plane and later at a business in the area.

Officers also found marijuana in the car, the report said, and in addition to failing sobriety tests and being arrested for OVI, Bailey was cited for failure to comply, drug abuse, drug paraphernalia, speed and driving an unsafe vehicle due to a cracked windshield. He’s due in court later this week.

The Browns released a statement in which executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown said the team has expressed its “displeasure and extreme disappointment” with Bailey. It also said Bailey’s claim that he was drinking on the team plane would be a violation of team and league rules and would make Bailey potentially subject to team discipline.

Bailey signed with the Browns last March and started at right guard in Sunday’s overtime loss to the Dolphins. He spent the last three seasons with the Seahawks.

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Week Three ratings down, again

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Good news came Thursday night for the NFL, with an increase in ratings over the same spot in 2015, even though the Patriots bulled over the Texans. The rest of the TV viewership ratings for Week Three, in comparison to 2015, was not as good.

Via SportsBusiness Daily, the overnight ratings were down for Sunday Night Football on NBC and the late-afternoon national window on CBS.

The Bears-Cowboys game in prime time generated an overnight rating of 12.9, a seven-percent drop over the 13.8 from Broncos-Lions a year ago. Steelers-Eagles in the 4:25 p.m. ET slot dropped by one percent from Bears-Seahawks a year earlier.

In the early-afternoon regional windows, CBS saw an 18-percent decline over 2015, even with Broncos-Bengals delivered to 65-percent of the nation. FOX realized a three-percent increase, however, with games like Vikings-Panthers on the docket.

The week surely will be ending on a sour note, with Falcons-Saints going up against a presidential debate that some are opting to refer to in South Parkian terms. Via SBD, the all-time low for Monday Night Football since the NFL switch it from broadcast to cable came in December 2007, with only 8.449 million watching.

Don’t be surprised if Monday night’s numbers are a lot lower.

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Report: Greg Hardy arrested for drug possession

05-greg-hardy.w529.h352 Getty Images

Former Panthers and Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy has been arrested for drug possession.

NBC 5 in Dallas is reporting that Hardy was arrested in the Dallas suburb of Richardson on Sunday for possession of a controlled substance. He was taken to the Richardson City Jail, where he remained as of Monday afternoon.

There is no immediate word on the substance Hardy possessed, or any information about the circumstances surrounding his arrest.

Hardy was once among the best pass rushers in the NFL, but after the Ray Rice domestic violence incident put the NFL under intense scrutiny, Hardy became toxic for his own past domestic violence arrest. Although charges against Hardy were eventually dropped, he never played for the Panthers again after the Rice elevator video became public.

In 2015 he signed with the Cowboys, but this year no team has shown any interest in him. He was already a long shot to return to the NFL even if he stayed on his best behavior, and a drug arrest could end any hope he had of playing in the NFL again.

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Dez Bryant, Royce West settle their legal differences

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 25:  Dez Bryant #88 of the Dallas Cowboys celebrates after scoring a touchdown against Tracy Porter #21 of the Chicago Bears in the fourth quarter at AT&T Stadium on September 25, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) Getty Images

Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant has resolved what could have become an ugly legal headache.

Sued by Texas Senator Royce West for $60,000 in damages to rental property, Bryant opted to respond by suing West in return, making strong allegations of misappropriated funds and professional malfeasance.

West didn’t react well to the claims, seeking $500,000 in sanctions against Bryant for making false accusations — accusations that also ensnared longtime Bryant confidant, babysitter, and reputed fixer David Wells.

Given the things West and Wells potentially know about Bryant, the receiver was suddenly juggling hand grenades by fighting with both of them publicly. Bryant has found a way, wisely, to re-insert the pins.

“Dez Bryant and Royce West have settled the disputes between them amicably and have withdrawn all claims and counterclaims,” West attorney Trey Crawford said in a statement provided earlier Monday to PFT and other media outlets.

Confidentiality agreements likely prevent either side from saying more. The fact that West’s lawyer is trumpeting the resolution not-so-subtly implies that West is pleased with the outcome, which quite possibly entails what it should have from the start: Bryant compensating West for any damage to the rental property and Bryant dropping any over-the-top claims that will inflame two men who have been close enough to Bryant to wreak havoc for him, or at least to try to do so.

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Raiders release Marcel Reece

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 20:  Fullback Marcel Reece #45 of the Oakland Raiders takes a pass for nine yards against the Green Bay Packers in the third quarter on December 20, 2015 at O.co Coliseum in Oakland, California.  The Packers won 30-20. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images) Getty Images

Fullback Marcel Reece missed the final Raiders game of last season and the first three games of this season after being suspended for violating the performance-enhancing drug policy, but he’s eligible to return to action this week.

He won’t be returning to action with the Raiders, though. The Raiders released Reece on Monday, ending an eight-year run with the organization.

Reece joined the team in 2008 and was a staple in the lineup starting in 2010. Reece ran 183 times for 844 yards and three touchdowns while also catching 205 passes for 2,015 yards and 12 touchdowns. Those numbers helped him make the Pro Bowl four times, although he was ineligible to take the trip to Hawaii last year because of the suspension.

The Raiders signed fullback Jamize Olawale to a three-year extension last December in a move that likely helped clear the way for Reece’s departure before the suspension.

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Chip Kelly: Colin Kaepernick is still not healthy enough to start

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 25:  Quarterback Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers walks off the field after the game against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on September 25, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. The Seahawks defeated the 49ers 37-18.   (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) Getty Images

After 49ers quarterback Blaine Gabbert turned in a terrible performance in Sunday’s loss to the Seahawks, coach Chip Kelly said he didn’t think about benching Gabbert. That’s in part because backup Colin Kaepernick still isn’t 100 percent healthy after having three offseason surgeries.

Kelly said today that Kaepernick is still working himself back into shape and needs to get stronger before he’d be able to start week in and week out.

I don’t think he’s ready to go full time,” Kelly said of Kaepernick. “He’s continuing to work on it. I think he’s over there right now. And, Kap will be the first to tell you, if you guys have been around here before, I think his playing weight has been around 225 and he’s not at that right now. So, he’s going out there and continuing to work, continuing to get better. He had a serious layoff in terms of being able to medical rehab. To get the full Kap for what you need, the potential that he has, he needs to continue to just work on the physical aspect of things.”

Asked how close Kaepernick is to 100 percent healthy, Kelly answered, “I don’t know. That’s a good question for him. So, he’ll be able to tell you exactly where he is.”

Kaepernick is healthy enough to be the No. 2 quarterback, which means he’s healthy enough that he could play if Gabbert got hurt. If Gabbert keeps playing the way he’s been playing, Kelly may make a change even if Kaepernick isn’t 100 percent.

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