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NFL morning after: Andy Reid’s amazing turnaround

Kansas City Chiefs v Tennessee Titans Getty Images

Peyton Manning is on pace for a zillion touchdowns, and Jimmy Graham is playing tight end as well as anyone has ever played the position, and Robert Mathis is on pace to break the single-season sack record. But if I had to pick one person who has done his job the best so far this season, it wouldn’t be any of those players — or any player. It would be Chiefs coach Andy Reid.

The job Reid has done, taking over a 2-14 team and getting off to a 5-0 start, is nothing short of remarkable. Last year’s Chiefs were a mess on offense, defense and special teams. This year’s Chiefs are playing outstanding football in all three phases of the game. If it wasn’t already clear before Sunday’s 26-17 win over a good Titans team in Tennessee, it’s clear now: The Chiefs are for real.

That’s a huge surprise, but maybe it shouldn’t be. After all, Reid — despite the way it ended for him in Philadelphia — has already shown with the Eagles that he’s one of the best coaches in the NFL.

There were fair criticisms of Reid during his Eagles tenure, and given the way things went south in Philadelphia last season, letting him go might have been the right move for the Eagles. But let’s not pretend Reid isn’t an outstanding coach. In 1999, the Eagles team Reid took over was terrible. A year later he had them in the playoffs, and Reid led the Eagles to the playoffs nine times from 2000 to 2010.

Yes, there are areas of coaching where Reid struggles, like managing the clock late in game. But the areas of coaching where Reid excels, like developing players, implementing an offensive system and devising weekly game plans, are the bulk of the work a coach does. That work might not be as visible as a clock-management miscue in crunch time, but it’s more important to building a good football team.

And building a good football team is exactly what Reid is doing in Kansas City. Reid’s offense is a good system for Alex Smith to do his usual unspectacular-but-efficient thing at quarterback, and for Jamaal Charles to show that he’s one of the best running backs in the NFL. But what I really like is what Reid did on defense, hiring Bob Sutton — a longtime college and pro coach who had never worked with Reid before — as his defensive coordinator. Reid took some criticism in Philadelphia for hiring and promoting his buddies (most notably former Eagles defensive coordinator Juan Castillo) as assistant coaches. He wisely looked beyond his inner circle for his defensive staff, and it has worked. The Chiefs’ defense has been great against the pass all season, and on Sunday they also held Titans running back Chris Johnson to just 17 yards on 10 carries.

I don’t think the Chiefs are going to beat out the Broncos in the AFC West. But I do think they’re going to be a wild card team, and a tough team to beat in January. Andy Reid will have another Coach of the Year award to put on his mantel at the end of this season.

Reid’s coaching impressed me the most about Sunday’s games. Here are my other thoughts:

Seattle’s Jon Ryan may be the NFL’s fastest punter and worst tackler. Seahawks kicker Steven Hauschka had a field goal blocked on Sunday in Indianapolis, and Colts defensive back Delano Howell picked up the ball and raced toward the end zone. Amazingly, Ryan, the Seahawks’ punter and holder, gave chase and actually caught Howell — yes, a punter ran down a defensive back. Unfortunately, Ryan totally whiffed on the tackle, and Howell went the rest of the way to the end zone, completing a 61-yard return for a touchdown. Ryan will probably take some ribbing from teammates this week for his pathetic excuse for a tackle, but no one expects kickers to be able to tackle. Howell will take more ribbing for letting a punter catch him from behind.

Lance Briggs, what are you thinking? On fourth-and-1 late in the game, the Saints lined up to go for it in one of those situations where everyone watching is saying the same thing: “The Saints are just trying to draw the Bears offside.” So what happens? Saints quarterback Drew Brees uses a hard count, Briggs jumps offside, and the Saints are gifted a first down. Briggs is supposed to be the veteran leader of the Bears’ defense, but he committed one of the bonehead plays of the day. You just can’t jump offside on fourth-and-short.

The Broncos are ridiculous. No team in NFL history has ever scored even 600 points in a season. The all-time record is 589, by the 16-0 Patriots of 2007. The Broncos scored 51 points in Sunday’s win over the Cowboys to improve their total on the season to 230, putting them on pace to score 736 this season. The Broncos’ 230 points are the most for any team through five games in NFL history. If the Broncos average 33 points a game the rest of the way, they’ll break the Patriots’ record.

Maybe Trent Richardson just isn’t very good. When the Browns traded Richardson to the Colts for a first-round draft pick, most people thought it was a bold move by the Colts and a wave of the white flag by the Browns. Instead, Cleveland has gone 3-0 since allegedly giving up on the season by shipping Richardson to Indianapolis, and Richardson hasn’t done much of anything for the Colts. Yes, the Colts are 3-0 with Richardson, but his impact on their offense has been negligible. On Sunday, Richardson carried 18 times for 56 yards, and 11 of his 16 carries gained two yards or less. As a rookie in Cleveland Richardson averaged 3.6 yards a carry, and in five games this season, Richardson has averaged 3.6, 3.2, 2.7, 3.0 and 3.1 yards a carry. Despite the talent he showed at Alabama, maybe Richardson just isn’t a good enough runner to consistently make plays at the professional level.

Johnny Unitas was amazing. Why was I thinking about Johnny Unitas on Sunday? Because Tom Brady’s streak of consecutive games with a touchdown pass ended at 52, and that got me to thinking about the all-time record for consecutive touchdown games with a touchdown pass, which Johnny Unitas owned from 1960 (when he set the old record of 47) until both Brady and Drew Brees passed Unitas last year. Just think how different the NFL passing environment was when Johnny Unitas was playing in the 1950s and 1960s. The officials weren’t protecting quarterbacks and receivers from hits on defenseless players, and defenders had far more leeway to rough up receivers downfield. In those days, you could lead the league with only 20 touchdown passes. And yet Unitas set a passing record that didn’t get broken until 2012. Amazing.

If the Jaguars didn’t have bad luck, they’d have no luck at all. When Jacksonville traded offensive tackle Eugene Monroe last week, I thought it made sense: The Jaguars aren’t going anywhere this season, and they might as well pick up a fourth-round pick and a fifth-round pick for Monroe now, rather than let Monroe leave in free agency for nothing after the season. But then came Sunday, when rookie left tackle Luke Joeckel was carted off the field with a leg injury. Losing Joeckel and not having Monroe anymore means the offensive line that will protect quarterback Blaine Gabbert the rest of this season will be brutally bad. I don’t know if the Jaguars will match the 0-16 Lions of 2008, but it’s hard for me to figure out when the Jaguars are going to win a game.

We may be witnessing the end of Tom Coughlin. I have a lot of respect for what Coughlin has done in his NFL coaching career, both his two Super Bowls with the Giants and the way he built the expansion Jaguars into contenders in the 1990s. But sometimes a coach just reaches a point where he can’t take his team any further, and Coughlin looks like he has reached that point with the Giants. Coughlin made some weird game management decisions in Sunday’s loss to the Eagles, including a bizarre decision not to decline a penalty after the Giants made a stop on third down (the Eagles converted on the ensuing play) and burning two timeouts in a row, first by calling one and then by getting a challenge wrong during that timeout. I’m not going to say the Giants should fire Coughlin and I’m not going to say he needs to retire. But I do think he looks like he could use a fresh start. Kind of like Andy Reid.

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Devonta Freeman absent from practice again

Devonta Freeman, Dontae Johnson AP

Devonta Freeman is not at Falcons practice again Friday, a sign that he won’t be cleared in time to play Sunday vs. the Vikings.

Freeman suffered a concussion early in last week’s loss to the Colts. Rookie Tevin Coleman would be the starter if Freeman can’t play Sunday.

The 6-4 Falcons have lost three straight and are trying to stay in the NFC wildcard race.

Freeman is fifth in the NFL with 764 rushing yards and leads all runners with 9 touchdowns.

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Jerry Jones: Tony Romo won’t need surgery but is out for season

Tony Romo, Jerry Jones AP

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has confirmed what was widely expected: Tony Romo is out for the season.

Jones said this morning on 105.3 The Fan that Romo will not play again until 2016.

If there’s any good news from the Cowboys’ perspective, it’s that Romo has a hairline fracture in his clavicle and will not need surgery. It appears that Romo’s clavicle injury isn’t as severe this time around as the Week Three clavicle injury that forced him to miss seven games this season.

But that’s of small consolation. The Cowboys, who got off to a promising 2-0 start, saw their season derailed by Romo’s first injury, and saw any faint hope of a playoff run ended by Romo’s second injury.

Now the Cowboys just have to wait until next year. And Jones has to see if he can find a better backup quarterback than Matt Cassel, so that if Romo gets hurt again in 2016, it won’t mean the Cowboys’ season is over.

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Black Friday PFT Live features Kuechly, Tate, Chris Johnson, Troy Brown

Luke Kuechly, Kurt Coleman, Jason Witten AP

It’s Black Friday, a term that originated within the retail industry as an expression of the stress and dread the workers experience on the biggest shopping day of the year. Thanks to a little Chamber of Commerce P.R. spit-and-polish, it’s now sold to the public as a good thing — the day on which businesses go from being in the red to being in the black.

Which overlooks the reality that any business that spends nearly 11 months of the year in the red isn’t going to stay in business much longer.

As the sports talk radio business goes, Black Friday is one of the best days of the year, with three high-profile NFL games to dissect and another 13 to go in a weekend with plenty of postseason implications. Starting at 12:00 p.m. ET, PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio will devote three hours to the NFL action that was and that soon will be, with visits from Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly, Lions receiver Golden Tate, Cardinals running back Chris Johnson, and former Patriots great Troy Brown.

So join us via Sirius 213, XM 202,, the easy-to-use NBC Sports Radio app, and any of the many terrestrial affiliates throughout the country.

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Bengals activate Cedric Ogbuehi, place Darqueze Dennard on IR

Darqueze Dennard AP

The Bengals swapped one first-rounder’s roster spot for another Friday.

The team announced that cornerback Darqueze Dennard was placed on season-ending injured reserve, and that tackle Cedric Ogbuehi had been activated from the reserve/non-football injury list.

Dennard suffered a shoulder injury last Sunday against the Cardinals, and he’ll need surgery to repair the damage. Their 2014 first-round pick, Dennard was making his first career start, and leaves them thin in the secondary.

Ogbuehi, their 2015 first-rounder, started practicing earlier this month, as he recovers from the torn ACL late in his final college season.

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Revis missing from practice again Friday

Darrelle Revis AP

The Jets took to the practice field without cornerback Darrelle Revis again Friday, a signal that Revis is unlikely to play Sunday vs. the Dolphins.

Revis suffered a concussion during last week’s loss to the Texans.

The Jets have lost four of five to slip to 5-5.

Earlier this week, Jets coach Todd Bowles said it would be “a bonus” if the team had Revis available. His absence from Friday’s practice might confirm that bonus isn’t coming.

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Jay Gruden: It’s a one-game season

LANDOVER, MD - OCTOBER 25: Head coach Jay Gruden of the Washington Redskins looks on prior to a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at FedExField on October 25, 2015 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images) Getty Images

At 4-6, the Redskins are on the outside looking in at the playoff race in the NFC and they know that there’s only one way to change that positioning.

They need to end a five-game losing streak to the Giants when they host their NFC East rivals on Sunday afternoon. Redskins players say that the team’s coaches have been drilling the importance of this week’s game during practice all week and coach Jay Gruden isn’t downplaying the significance in his public comments either.

“It’s a one-game season,” Gruden said, via “If we have any desire at all to play 17, 18 or 19 games we have to take care of business Sunday. That’s the most important thing. We’ve got to get their best effort physically and mentally. It’s got to be their best focus of the season, not far, not even close. I think the guys are revved up.”

It’s hard to argue with Gruden’s take. Dropping a second game to the Giants would leave the Redskins two games and a tiebreaker behind in a divisional race, leaving them in need of a lot of wins and a lot of luck to change the standings. Thanks to the Thanksgiving developments for the Cowboys and Eagles, a Giants win would also push Tom Coughlin’s team to the doorstep of a division title with five games left to play so you’d imagine that everyone will be revved up come kickoff.

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Sean Taylor died eight years ago today

LANDOVER, MD - DECEMBER 02:  Fans of the Washington Redskins hold up signs honoring the late Sean Taylor prior to the game against the Buffalo Bills on December 2, 2007 at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) Getty Images

Eight years ago today, Washington safety Sean Taylor died at the age of 24. He had been shot by intruders into his Miami home, where Taylor and his girlfriend and young daughter were sleeping.

Earlier this year, the fifth and final defendant accepted an 18-year prison term for his role in the crime. The shooter received a 60-year sentence, and the mastermind of the burglary that ended in Taylor’s death was sentenced to life behind bars.

The anniversary comes two days before Giants safety Landon Collins plays his first game on Taylor’s home field in Maryland.

“When I go out there and do warm-ups and stuff, I just want to look at the memory of him and his name up there,” Collins said, via Newsday. “It’s going to be fantastic and it’s going to be a dream come true to be on the field he played on.”

Idolized by Collins, Taylor was beloved by teammates like Clinton Portis and Santana Moss. If Taylor had lived, he likely would still be playing — and he probably would have already cemented his status as a Hall of Famer.

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Ravens activate Brent Urban from injured reserve

BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 17:  Defensive end Brent Urban #96 of the Baltimore Ravens participates in the Baltimore Ravens Rookie Minicamp on May 17, 2014 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Ravens officially brought running back Justin Forsett’s season to an end on Friday.

Forsett broke his arm when Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald slammed him to the turf during last Sunday’s Ravens victory and the Ravens have now formally added him to injured reserve. Forsett ends the year with 641 yards and two touchdowns on 151 carries and another 153 yards on 31 catches. He’s signed for the next two seasons with base salaries of $3 million.

Forsett’s roster spot will be filled by defensive end Brent Urban, who was placed on injured reserve with the designation to return at the start of the regular season. Urban, a fourth-round pick in 2014, tore his biceps during training camp.

Coach John Harbaugh said earlier this week that Urban would be activated, but that he wasn’t sure if the lineman would be in the lineup for Monday’s game against the Browns.

“He’s done a really good job,” Harbaugh said, via the Baltimore Sun. “He’s worked hard, he looks good. It’s going to be exciting to see him in real action at some point in time, and see how he does because he hasn’t played that much. But he’s practiced very well.”

Urban actually hasn’t played at all for the Ravens in the regular season. He missed all of 2014 with a knee injury so he’ll be making his NFL debut when he does get the nod from Harbaugh.

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Matt Cassel knows it’s time for him to step up for Cowboys

Matt Cassel AP

The Cowboys haven’t won a game Tony Romo hasn’t started this season and Matt Cassel has a personal six-game losing streak that goes back two teams ago.

And yet, he remains confident.

The veteran quarterback might have to fill in for Romo the rest of the season after a left shoulder injury knocked him out, as the Cowboys await test results today.

I have a lot of confidence in myself,” Cassel said, via Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I have a lot of confidence in this team. It’s about getting back to work.”

Any time would be a good time to start. Dallas was 0-7 during Romo’s first injury absence, and Cassel hasn’t won a start since the 2014 season-opener for the Vikings. But the Cowboys acquired him in a trade with the Bills because he was a better option than Brandon Weeden, who was subsequently cut and claimed by the Texans.

“That’s part of what you embrace when you become a quarterback is you’ve got to step in, and obviously Tony’s been a leader here for 13 years of his career, and now it’s time,” Cassel said. “If it’s that situation, then I have to step up and try fulfill that role in some way. Obviously, you don’t replace a guy like Tony Romo, but at the same time, you’ve got to be you, and hopefully the guys rally around you, and you move forward.”

The Cowboys are 6-16 without Romo since he took over the starting job in 2006, but they’re looking for any positive they can find.

“Obviously, Matt’s got some experience in our offense now and did a nice job when he got back in,” offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. Cassel did go 13-for-19 for 93 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter, but that was after the game was out of reach.

They’re also going to have to find a new backup, and may promote Kellen Moore from the practice squad.

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Bill Davis: Chip Kelly won’t run from Philly

DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 26: head coach Jim Caldwell of the Detroit Lions and head coach Chip Kelly of the Philadelphia Eagles shake hands the after the game at Ford Field on November 26, 2015 in Detroit, Michigan. The Detroit Lions defeat the Philadelphia Eagles 45-14. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Getty Images

Another blowout loss has upped the volume on talk about Chip Kelly being somewhere other that Philadelphia next season.

That talk has centered on both the fact that the Eagles’ 4-7 record after Kelly reshaped the team this offseason may make the team want to make a change and the possibility that Kelly may want to head elsewhere in either the NFL or college ranks. One member of Kelly’s staff says that the latter won’t be the reason why Kelly isn’t with the Eagles next season.

“Chip isn’t going anywhere,” defensive coordinator Bill Davis said, via “Nope. I promise you that. … Absolutely [committed]. Not kind of committed. All-in committed. I know it. He is a fighter. He don’t run.”

Davis doesn’t make the call on whether Kelly stays or not, obviously and the question may not come down to Kelly’s desire to run as much as owner Jeffrey Lurie’s desire to push. Davis’s defense hasn’t done much to eliminate that possibility and any current predictions about where Kelly will be in 2016 will be moot if the team keeps failing on the field they way they have in the last two weeks.

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Alshon Jeffrey creates a new Thanksgiving tradition, hopefully


The fourth Thursday in November carries with it plenty of traditions. This year, Bears receiver Alshon Jeffery perhaps started a new one.

Early in the second half of Chicago’s win at Lambeau Field, Jeffery lined up offside. Grossly offside. So far offside that it’s reasonable to wonder whether Jeffery has an inner-ear disorder.

Making the blunder even more egregious was the fact that the ball was positioned just short of the Chicago 35 yard line, but Jeffery’s left leg was clearly beyond it.

But the Bears won the game. So here’s hoping that, on every Thanksgiving from this point forward, an offensive player in one of the three games lines up so far offside that it looks like a bad PhotoShop effort.

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Cardinals bolster line with Red Bryant, put LaMarr Woodley on IR

Red Bryant AP

Red Bryant was traveling Wednesday like a lot of people. But he has headed away from family, and back to work.

The Cardinals signed the veteran defensive tackle to fill the roster spot created with outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley was placed on injured reserve.

“I had made up my mind that I thought I wouldn’t play this season, and I thought I would try to come back next year,” Bryant said, via Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic. “So for the Cardinals to give me this opportunity this late in the season, I hope I can take advantage of it.”

The former Seahawks and Jaguars defensive tackle was cut by the Bills prior to the start of the regular season, and hadn’t latched on since. The Cards are banged up on their defensive line, with Cory Redding and Frostee Rucker dealing with ankle injuries which could keep them out.

Woodley had been playing with a chest injury in recent weeks, but suffered a torn pectoral last week against the Bengals. He’ll be replaced in the starting lineup by rookie Markus Golden, who was playing his spot in passing situations anyway.

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Dolphins want season-renewal commitments by December 18

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The Dolphins soon will embark on a season-ending stretch of home games that will drag season-ticket holders to Sun Life Stadium four times in 29 days. During that “holy crap we have to go back there again to justify the money we already spent?” stretch, the season-ticket holders will have to decide whether to commit to doing it all over again in 2016.

Per Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, the Dolphins want season-ticket holders to renew their vows by December 18.

A lot will happen immediately after the season ends, including the hiring of a new coach and (possibly) the hiring of a replacement for G.M. Dennis Hickey, who hasn’t been fired yet but could be.

“It seems to me that they clearly do not want season ticket holders to see what they are going to do next year before the renewal deadline,” a season-ticket holder told Salguero via email. “I think fans would be interested in hearing why they sent renewals this early, with such an early deadline.”

Season-ticket holders also complained about a price increase. The team told Salguero that 54 percent of the seats will be priced lower in 2016. Which means, of course, that up to 46 percent of the seats will cost more next year.

Between the price hike, the deadline, and the upcoming cluster of potentially meaningless late-season games, it’s hardly the best approach for ensuring that season-ticket holders will commit for 2016. With plenty of good seats always available at Sun Life Stadium, why should they do anything until they at least know who the coach will be?

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Aaron Rodgers has a Davante Adams problem

Aaron Rodgers AP

To say Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers hasn’t looked like his old self recently would be accurate, but with one major caveat: The decline in Rodgers’s production has come mostly on passes to wide receiver Davante Adams.

Over the last three weeks, when Rodgers throws to Adams, he’s 15-for-35 for 129 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. That’s a completion percentage of 42.9 percent, an average of 3.7 yards per pass, and a passer rating of 41.2.

Over the last three weeks, when Rodgers throws to anyone other than Adams, he’s 58-for-103 for 618 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions. That’s a completion percentage of 56.3 percent, an average of 6.0 yards per pass, and a passer rating of 90.2.

In last night’s loss to the Bears, Adams had a couple of big drops. Rodgers didn’t throw Adams under the bus after the game, but Rodgers did say they need to get on the same page. Packers coach Mike McCarthy was a little more direct about the problems Adams is causing in the offense.

Didn’t have a very good day today,” McCarthy said when asked about Adams. “The consistency we’re getting in certain areas needs to pick up.”

Asked about the interception Rodgers threw, McCarthy suggested that Adams was to blame.

“It’s a basic route. It didn’t look like it was a very good route,” McCarthy said.

As a second-round draft pick last year, Adams didn’t have a huge role in the offense, but the Packers’ passing game was so efficient that they didn’t need him to do much. This year, with Jordy Nelson injured, the Packers are throwing to Adams more frequently, and Adams isn’t producing. And that’s the biggest difference between last year’s Packers and this year’s Packers.

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Friday morning one-liners

DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 26: Ezekiel Ansah #94 of the Detroit Lions celebrates a third quarter sack while playing the Philadelphia Eagles at Ford Field on November 26, 2015 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Getty Images

DE Alex Carrington could play a big role for the Bills this weekend.

Dolphins DE Olivier Vernon has helped get the pass rush going in Miami.

Previewing the matchup between the Patriots offense and the Broncos defense.

C Nick Mangold is likelier to be in the Jets lineup than CB Darrelle Revis this weekend.

Said Ravens coach John Harbaugh of QB Jimmy Clausen’s history with offensive coordinator Marc Trestman, “Yes, that’s a good point. It’s part of it. Certainly, they’ve been together, and he knows Marc’s concepts. That’s a plus.”

The Bengals offensive line will have to deal with Aaron Donald on Sunday.

What should the Browns be shopping for on Black Friday and beyond?

LB Lawrence Timmons doesn’t want to leave the Steelers anytime soon.

Texans LB Brian Cushing’s play has been trending in the right direction.

RB Ahmad Bradshaw’s receiving ability is important to the Colts.

Tyson Alualu is happy with his role on the Jaguars defensive line.

WR Kendall Wright appears set to return to the Titans lineup.

Stopping Rob Gronkowski is one of the Broncos’ goals this week.

The Chiefs see DB Ron Parker as the “ultimate team guy.”

The Raiders’ road to a playoff spot is a challenging one.

Chargers LB Donald Butler’s playing time has gone down this season.

K Dan Bailey became the third-leading scorer in Cowboys history.

Thanksgiving brought some good results for the Giants.

It was another rough day for the Eagles defense.

The Redskins will have to navigate the rest of the season without CB Chris Culliver.

The Bears were happy with how their defensive game plan played out on Thursday night.

Lions DE Ziggy Ansah had a huge day against the Eagles.

A call for Packers coach Mike McCarthy to resume offensive play calling.

DE Everson Griffen and S Harrison Smith didn’t practice for the Vikings on Thursday.

Christmas music has arrived in the Falcons locker room.

Thursday may have been the Panthers’ last day as an underdog this season.

Will Brian Hoyer be the next quarterback to shred the Saints defense?

What accounts for the defensive improvement for the Buccaneers?

Dwight Freeney has found his footing as a pass rusher for the Cardinals.

Demetrius Rhaney will get his shot on the Rams offensive line.

LB Ahmad Brooks and RB Carlos Hyde remained out of 49ers practice on Thanksgiving.

Will Seahawks CB Richard Sherman stick with Antonio Brown all day on Sunday?

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