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League says it’s not considering Thursday night doubleheaders

2012ToppsFiveStarQuotableAutosErnieBanksLetsPlayTwo10

In response to a report from the Wall Street Journal that the league is considering Thursday night doubleheaders as part of an effort to generate more interest in midweek games, the NFL says that it won’t be uttering, “Let’s play two.”

“We have not discussed or considered a doubleheader on Thursday night,” league spokesman Brian McCarthy told PFT via email.

McCarthy elaborated, via Twitter.

“Wondering where the idea of Thursday night doubleheaders came from?  So are we.  We have not considered this,” McCarthy said.

The good news for the NFL is that the report has operated as an unintended trial balloon, which fans and media quickly popped.  Plenty of people don’t like Thursday night games; they definitely don’t want a doubleheader.

As to the singleheader, it gives folks a chance to focus on games that otherwise would be lost in the Sunday afternoon scrum.  While the games often don’t produce compelling outcomes, how many games on any given Sunday resonate into Monday?  Typically, it’s one or two per week — which means that, on average, two or three Thursday night games per year will be memorable.

(And before anyone complains about the quality of Thursday night games, try watching the first half of Sunday’s game between the Packers and the Ravens, a pair of supposed Super Bowl contenders.)

The league did not refute the report that the NFL could sell the rights for some Thursday night games to other networks, reducing the current NFLN inventory of 13 Thursday night games per year.

“We haven’t made any decisions,” McCarthy said regarding that possibility.

Either way, Thursday night football is here to stay, at least through the end of the current labor deal.  At that point, it’s possible the players will make a push to get rid of Thursday night football, given the persistent concerns that come from playing a game with only three days’ rest.

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Eric Decker will “probably” have MRI on injured shoulder

ORCHARD PARK, NY - SEPTEMBER 15:   Eric Decker #87 of the New York Jets is brought down by  Kevon Seymore #29 of the Buffalo Bills
 during the second half at New Era Field on September 15, 2016 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Jets may need to add a receiver to the roster ahead of Sunday’s game against the Seahawks.

Eric Decker was held out of practice on Wednesday due to a shoulder injury. Decker has been dealing with the issue for a little while and aggravated it against the Chiefs last Sunday, leading coach Todd Bowles to say that the wideout will “probably” have an MRI to assess the extent of the injury.

Decker was able to play last week without a lot of practice time, leaving Bowles to hold off on making a call about his chances of playing this week.

“Not sure yet,” Bowles said in comments distributed by the team. “Anybody that doesn’t practice, I’m concerned about. He came back last week without practicing, so we just have to wait and see.”

If Decker is down, the Jets will be short on wideouts because rookie Jalin Marshall will be out a couple of weeks with a shoulder injury of his own. The Jets have Quincy Enunwa and rookies Robby Anderson and Charone Peake behind Brandon Marshall and Decker, leaving Bowles to say that they may have to make a roster move to round out the group.

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Washington thinking about sitting Josh Doctson to get him healthy

Dallas Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne (24) breaks up a pass intended for Washington Redskins wide receiver Josh Doctson (18) in the end zone during the second half of an NFL football game in Landover, Md., Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) AP

Washington rookie wide receiver Josh Doctson is still bothered by a lingering injury, and coach Jay Gruden admitted he was “very” concerned about it and may have to shut Doctson down for a few weeks.

“We’ve had all of the tests, and there is really nothing there that we should be concerned about from a long-term problem,” Gruden said, via John Keim of ESPN.com. “It’s just, he is dealing with some pain. We don’t know why it is, but we have to try and figure out what it is and get it fixed.

“It could be a possibility or a time that we put him down for a couple more weeks or a couple more days like we’re taking him off today, probably sit him down tomorrow and see if that helps a little bit.”

Their first-rounder didn’t play last week, after feeling something in his left foot during pregame warmups. He didn’t practice yesterday.

Doctson initially injured his foot during OTAs in May, and didn’t practice again until the start of the regular season, citing Achilles soreness. He played the first two games, catching one pass for 57 yards.

“We keep thinking he’s getting better, and he keeps teasing us running out there, making a great catch and looking good,” Gruden said, “and then the next day he gets sore. . . .

“This is new to everybody, and the key is to get him healthy. We are not trying to rush him. We are just trying to see how he feels each day. If he can go, he goes, and if not, he doesn’t. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring.”

Washington’s fortunate to have a deep enough receiving corps to survive it, but Doctson’s status has become something they constantly have to monitor, which has to be frustrating for any team.

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Aqib Talib says he’s “a lot more mature” than his Tampa Bay days

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 25:  Aqib Talib #21 of the Denver Broncos celebrates after defeating the Cincinnati Bengals 29-17 at Paul Brown Stadium on September 25, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Getty Images

Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib has made plenty of plays in his career.

But when he was in Tampa Bay, he made mostly headlines, and the wrong kind.

Older now, he said fans who remember him there will see a different person than the ones the Buccaneers gave away for pennies on the dollar in 2012.

“The biggest thing that changed is I’m 30 years old now,” Talib said, via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. “A lot older. A lot more mature. A lot more professional, I would say. It’s simply football. It means a lot to just be accomplishing goals and in football to be a Super Bowl champ, to tie Deion Sanders for interceptions for touchdowns. Man, it’s a blessing to be successful in the game that I love.”

The reference to Sanders was in regards to tying the legendary cornerback for fourth on the all-time interceptions returned for touchdowns list with his Week Two pick-six aganst the Colts. It was his ninth, tying him with Sanders and Hall of Famers Aeneas Williams and Ken Houston. The record is 12 by Rod Woodson, while Charles Woodson and Darren Sharper have 11 each. That’s the kind of company Talib keeps on the field. But the Bucs remember a different player.

The 2012 season included a suspension for what he claims was Adderall, which was sort of a final straw which led the Bucs to trade him and a seventh-round pick to the Patriots for a fourth-rounder. That came after he hit a teammate at the rookie symposium, swung his helmet at a teammate, assaulted a taxi driver, and was involved in a fight with his sister’s boyfriend which included a gun being pulled.

“I would tell my younger self to start early, man,” Talib said. “Don’t wait until Year 4 or Year 5 to start watching the film and start really being a professional football player. Just start early, and who knows where I could be today if I would’ve started early.”

Of course, for all his maturity, there’s still the small matter of being shot in the leg this offseason at a Dallas nightclub, though there were no charges and no league punishment for that one (since nobody’s talking).

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NFL now unlikely to play in China in 2018

BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 03: Released balloons fly around the China national flag during a military parade marking the 70th Anniversary of the 'Victory of Chinese People's Resistance against Japanese Aggression and World Anti-Fascist War' at Tiananmen Square on September 3, 2015 in Beijing, China. China is marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and its role in defeating Japan with a new national holiday and a military parade in Beijing. (Photo by Rolex Dela Pena - Pool/Getty Images) Getty Images

The NFL’s plans to play a game in China have run into some stumbling blocks.

Despite reports that the Rams and 49ers would play in China in 2018, NFL Executive V.P. of International Mark Waller told Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com that there’s probably more work to do than can be done in two years.

“I would say there’s a low likelihood of it happening,” Waller said. “But we’re working hard to see if we can make it work.”

There are major logistical challenges to flying the Rams and 49ers 13 hours to Beijing, having them spend a week practicing and playing in a country with a 15-hour time difference, then having them fly back and get ready to play another game. It’s also still unclear what time of day a game in China would be played, as the league would want it to be on at a good time for both Chinese fans to attend and American fans to watch. And it’s still unclear whether there’s enough of a fan base in China to sell out a stadium.

“When do the teams get back? How do you schedule them? Does it affect the teams coming back?” Waller said. “If we want to do this in China, it has to be a good time for Chinese fans, but also so that U.S. fans can watch. And we want to make sure we can keep growing it.”

The NFL may have already grown as popular as it’s going to get in the United States, and so the owners want to grow the sport internationally. That might eventually involve playing games in China, but it may still be a few more years before that can happen.

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Ben Roethlisberger impressed by “phenomenal player” Marcus Peters

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 06:  Marcus Peters #22 of the Kansas City Chiefs warms up prior to playing the Kansas City Chiefs in their NFL game at O.co Coliseum on December 6, 2015 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Getty Images

It may only be Marcus Peters‘ second season in the NFL, but he’s already made an impression on Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Roethlisberger will face Peters for the first time this Sunday. Even though the Steelers faced the Kansas City Chiefs last year, Roethlisberger didn’t play due to injury. Landry Jones started instead for the Steelers.

Nevertheless, Peters has left a mark on Big Ben.

He catches every ball that is thrown his way. What a phenomenal player,” Roethlisberger said, via Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star.

“Offensive guys always make fun of defensive players — they play defense because they can’t catch. Well, he can catch everything. It hits him in the hands, he catches it. It bounces in the air, he catches it.

“The way that he reads routes, the way that he jumps routes, it just seems like he almost has the team’s offensive playbook.”

Peters is coming off AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors after intercepting Ryan Fitzpatrick twice last Sunday against the New York Jets. He’s already compiled 12 career interceptions and 33 passes defended in 19 career games with the Chiefs.

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Seahawks waive Terrence Magee to clear space for C.J. Spiller

BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 13: Terrence Magee #30 of the Baltimore Ravens warms up against the New Orleans Saints during a preseason game at M&T Bank Stadium on August 13, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) Getty Images

With the addition of former New Orleans Saints running back C.J. Spiller on Thursday evening, the Seattle Seahawks needed to free up a roster spot.

To do so, they waived running back Terrence Magee.

Magee was signed from Seattle’s practice squad to their 53-man roster on Saturday with Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise both unable to play against the San Francisco 49ers.

Magee played limited snaps in the game and rushed for 12 yards on three carries.

Rawls is expected to miss several weeks with a cracked fibula. Prosise has a cracked bone in his wrist that has kept him from playing the last two weeks and will take several more weeks to fully heal.

Spiller’s addition gives Seattle an immediate option as a third-down back to pair with Christine Michael until the rest of their running backs can get back to full strength.

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Report: Dez Bryant missed meetings and MRI, was fined by team

Dallas Cowboys' Dez Bryant smiles as he jogs back to the sideline after catching a pass for a touchdown against the Miami Dolphins in the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Friday, Aug. 19, 2016, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins) AP

Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant has been fined by the team for missing an MRI and team meetings on Tuesday, the Dallas Morning News reported.

Bryant missing the MRI explains why the hairline fracture Bryant has in his right knee wasn’t diagnosed until Wednesday. The report said Bryant showed up at the team’s facility Tuesday too late for an MRI to be performed.

Bryant was injured Sunday night vs. the Bears, and Cowboys players had Monday off. After the diagnosis, his status for Sunday’s game at the 49ers is uncertain.

The report did not state the amount of Bryant’s fine.

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President Obama elaborates on NFL anthem protests

President Barack Obama pauses during a break in taping of a CNN town hall meeting with CNN news anchor Jake Tapper, Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016, in Fort Lee, Va., with members of the military community. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) AP

During a Presidential Town Hall that aired Wednesday night on CNN, President Barack Obama faced a variety of questions from service members and their families. One member of the armed services asked a pointed question about the ongoing anthem protests happening during football games.

“Mr. President,” said First Lieutenant James Sutter, “we honor those who have given deep meaning to the phrase ‘home of the brave’ by making the ultimate sacrifice for the land of the free.  Lately, some players in the NFL have been choosing to take a knee during the national anthem, a time which I believe should be reserved to respect our service members.  As Commander-in-Chief, how do you feel about those NFL players choosing this typically respected time to voice their opinions?”

“As I’ve said before, I believe that us honoring our flag and our anthem is part of what binds us together as a nation,” President Obama said. “And I think that for me, for my family, for those who work in the White House, we recognize what it means to us, but also what it means to the men and women who are fighting on our behalf. But I’m also always trying to remind folks that part of what makes this country special is that we respect people’s rights to have a different opinion and to make different decisions about how they want to express their concerns. And the test of our fidelity to our Constitution, to freedom of speech, to our Bill of Rights is not when it’s easy, but when it’s hard. We fight sometimes so that people can do things that we disagree with, but that’s what freedom means in this country.

“My hope would be that as this debate surfaces, we’re always reminding ourselves that in a democracy like ours, there are gonna be a lot of folks who do stuff that we just don’t agree with. But as long as they’re doing it within the law, then we can voice our opinion objecting to it, but it’s also their right.

“And I think that it’s also important for us to recognize that sometimes out of these controversies we start getting into a conversation, and I want everybody to listen to each other. So I want Mr. Kaepernick and others who are on a knee, I want them to listen to the pain that that may cause somebody who for example had a spouse or a child who was killed in combat and why it hurts them to see somebody not standing. But I also want people to think about the pain that he may be expressing about somebody who’s lost a loved one that they think was unfairly shot.

“And one of the things I always say about American democracy is that it can be frustrating but it’s the best system we got. The only way that we make it work is to see each other, listen to each other, try to be respectful of each other, not just go into separate corners. And I do hope that anybody who’s trying to express any political view of any sort understands that they do so under the blanket of protection of our men and women in uniform, and that that appreciation of that sacrifice is never lost.”

It sounds good in theory, but it’s hardly an accurate reflection of modern political discourse, where middle grounds are never acknowledged, and where so many people have a hardened belief that their view is correct and anyone who disagrees with them is stupid, corrupt, and/or un-American.

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Who has the best defense?

NEW ORLEANS, LA - SEPTEMBER 26:  Devonta Freeman #24 of the Atlanta Falcons reacts after scoring a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on September 26, 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) Getty Images

On Wednesday’s PFT Live, Broncos safety T.J. Ward made the case for his team having the best defense in the NFL. So we’ve decided to put it out to a vote on Thursday’s PFT Live.

Cast a ballot below, and then add a comment below that — including any and all complaints about teams included and excluded from the list of finalists.

Then tune in at 6:00 a.m. ET for the three-hour tour of the National Football League. The first hour airs only on NBC Sports Radio. The next two are simulcast on NBCSN.

Guests include Falcons running back Devonta Freeman, who’ll face the Panthers on Sunday.

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Palmer tells Goff to be patient, prepare diligently

OXNARD, CA - MAY 06:  Jared Goff #16 of the Los Angeles Rams and quarterback coach Chris Weinke discuss a play during a Los Angeles Rams rookie camp on May 06, 2016 in Oxnard, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) Getty Images

As a former No. 1 overall pick who didn’t play immediately, Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer has been where Rams rookie quarterback Jared Goff is.

Palmer’s advice for Goff includes maximizing his time on the sideline and studying for Sundays knowing he won’t be a backup or a spectator for long.

“You have a chance to watch how you prepare as a starter, how you go about your business as a starter, especially if you’re coming from a very non pro-style offense,” Palmer said Wednesday. “Seeing how offenses prepare, seeing the different pressures you’re going to see and the different defenses you’re going to see…it’s tough if you’re not ready and you get thrown in there. If you struggle it can linger, so I think it’s important.”

The Bengals made Palmer the No. 1 overall pick in the 2003 draft. He spent his entire rookie season watching from the sideline before taking over in 2004. Goff, the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft, is currently waiting behind Case Keenum.

Palmer said he understands every situation is different and said that while Goff waits, he needs to make sure he’s improving and mastering the offense.

“There’s such a fine line between throwing a guy in there, making him play…and he knows he’s going to go in and struggle because the team is not good like some guys have been,” Palmer said. “The Rams are different. That’s a very good team. They don’t need to throw a rookie in there and him learn on the run and the team suffer.”

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Russell Wilson fully participates in practice

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 25:  Quarterback Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks rushes against the San Francisco 49ers 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

High ankle sprain? Big deal. MCL sprain in the other leg? So what?

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has shrugged off both injuries to fully participate in practice on Wednesday.

The development is an encouraging sign regarding Wilson’s potential availability for Sunday’s game at the Jets.

Running back Thomas Rawls (fibula) didn’t practice. Limited were tight end Jimmy Graham (knee), tight end Nick Vannett (ankle), guard Germain Ifedi (ankle), receiver Tyler Lockett (knee), and linebacker Mike Morgan (hip).

Running back CJ Prosise (wrist) and defensive end Cliff Avril (hamstring) fully participated.

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Brian Cushing returns to practice, could play Sunday

HOUSTON, TX - JANUARY 09:  Brian Cushing #56 of the Houston Texans leaves the field after their 30-0 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs during the AFC Wild Card Playoff game at NRG Stadium on January 9, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) Getty Images

The good news for the Texans, if there can be any on the day three-time defensive player of the year J.J. Watt landed on IR, is that linebacker Brian Cushing could be back in the lineup, as soon as Sunday.

Cushing has returned to practice, two weeks and three days after injuring his MCL.

“It’s really good to get him back,” coach Bill O’Brien told reporters. “He looked good today. Moving around and looks like he’s ramping it up to be able to play in the game.”

O’Brien was noncommittal regarding whether Cushing will play against the Titans.

“The expectation is that he’s going to practice tomorrow and we’re going to see where that is,” O’Brien said. “Then he’ll practice Friday and we’ll see where that is.”

“[J]ust a lot of hard work,” Cushing said when explaining his ability to return so quickly. “I didn’t want to believe it would be four to six [weeks]. I’m not saying I’m all the way back yet. I’m not saying for sure what I’m doing, but I know I practiced today. I know I felt good. I’m happy about the progress, that’s for sure. I’ve been hurt too much in my career, in my opinion. It’s something that I don’t want to do anymore, or want to be, so anything I can do to get back and get out there as soon as I possibly can and be healthy and be effective, I’ll do. Just excited to be back out there with the guys.”

Cushing said there’s a “possibility” he’ll play Sunday, but that they’re “taking it day by day.”

The Texans may be a little hesitant to put Cushing back on the field so quickly, after what happened to Watt. But Cushing said that, structurally, his knee is “great.” If so, there’s no reason for Cushing to not play.

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Spiller plans to sign with Seahawks

TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 13: Running back C.J. Spiller #28 of the New Orleans Saints runs with the ball in the first quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on December 13, 2015 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Cliff McBride/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** C.J. Spiller Getty Images

Veteran running back C.J. Spiller will sign with the Seahawks, per multiple reports.

The Saints cut Spiller earlier this month. The Seahawks have been hit hard by injury at the running back position, so taking a flyer on Spiller makes sense.

Spiller, 29, played for the Saints last season after five seasons in Buffalo. He has 12 rushing touchdowns and eight receiving touchdowns in his career.

The Seahawks are planning to be without injured starter Thomas Rawls for a few weeks, so Spiller will probably get a chance to play on third downs behind Christine Michael while he catches up with the offense.

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Dolphins cut Justin Hunter

PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 23: Justin Hunter #15 of the Tennessee Titans runs for a touchdown after making a catch in the second quarter of the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on November 23, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Dolphins released wide receiver Justin Hunter on Wednesday.

The Dolphins play in Cincinnati Thursday night. The timing of Hunter’s release indicates the Dolphins need a roster spot due to injury or other circumstances and could promote someone from their practice squad.

Hunter was released by the Titans in early September and claimed by the Dolphins. He played in one game this season and did not record a reception.

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Jets waive Dee Milliner from injured reserve

New York Jets v San Diego Chargers Getty Images

The disappointing Jets tenure of Dee Milliner has now officially come to an end.

Milliner, the former No. 9 overall pick in the draft, was waived/injured before the start of the regular season, and when he cleared waivers he went to the Jets’ injured reserve list. Now the Jets have waived him off their injured reserve.

That means if any team wants Milliner, he can be claimed on waivers. If he goes unclaimed he’ll become an unrestricted free agent and can play this season, assuming he’s healthy enough to do so. If he had stayed on the Jets’ injured reserve he wouldn’t have been able to play this year.

An excellent cornerback at Alabama, Milliner was a big disappointment in the NFL. He may still have a chance to catch on somewhere else, but he’s now officially done as a Jet.

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