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Wednesday morning one-liners

Ruben Brown, Marv Levy, Leonard Smith AP

Hall of Fame Bills coach Marv Levy, who worked as an assistant coach in Washington early in his career, says that “Redskins” is “a crude word to define a Native American, and I would think if Native Americans feel offended, it would make sense to change it.”

Dolphins LB Dannell Ellerbe looks like he’s going to miss this week’s game with a shoulder injury.

The Patriots looked good in the no-huddle on Sunday against the Saints.

Here’s a close look at a bad play by Jets QB Geno Smith.

Ravens fans may appreciate former C Matt Birk more now that they’re seeing how the offensive line struggles without him.

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis and Lions coach Jim Schwartz, who will face off on Sunday, coached together on the Ravens in the 1990s.

It doesn’t look like time for the Browns to bench QB Brandon Weeden in favor of Jason Campbell.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin likes what he sees of RB Le’Veon Bell.

Is it time for the Texans to give Vince Young a call?

The debate in Indianapolis: Are the Colts better off with Andrew Luck, or should they have kept Peyton Manning?

Jaguars WR Mike Brown is overcoming a broken vertebra.

The Titans’ defense has engineered a major turnaround in 2013 after a disappointing season last year.

Said Broncos DE Malik Jackson about playing in Indianapolis, “We all know how Peyton feels about that place, so we’re all working hard to support him.”

Chiefs coach Andy Reid has always believed in S Quintin Demps.

Raiders coach Dennis Allen calls Taiwan Jonesone of the best special-teams players in this league.”

Chargers OLB Melvin Ingram is eligible to come off the physically unable to perform list, but he’s not healthy yet.

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett wants to see his team play well on the road.

The Giants need QB Eli Manning to cut down on his interceptions, but they don’t need him to play it safe.

Eagles coach Chip Kelly may have a quarterback controversy on his hands.

Washington is making moves to shore up the special teams.

Chicago DT Christian Tupou stayed in shape by playing rugby before the Bears called.

Lions CB Rashean Mathis is hoping to be healthy enough to face the Bengals after suffering a groin injury against the Browns.

As the Packers suffer through linebacker injuries, A.J. Hawk is stepping up.

Fran Tarkenton says Sunday’s loss was one of the lowest points in Vikings franchise history.

Injuries at wide receiver will keep the Falcons from running their no-huddle offense.

The Panthers rank No. 3 in the league in yards allowed, but they say they’re not satisfied.

Saints LB Will Smith, who is out for the season with a torn ACL, hopes to return to New Orleans next year.

Looking at the schedule, it’s tough to find a game the Bucs will win.

Cardinals RB Ryan Williams may not have a future with the team.

Rams LB Daren Bates is making a name for himself on special teams.

Vernon Davis may be the best tight end the 49ers have ever had.

Even when his stats aren’t impressive, Seahawks QB Russell Wilson impresses his teammates.

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Panthers, Patriots, Bengals can clinch playoff spots this week

Jamie Collins, Andy Dalton AP

No NFL team has clinched a playoff berth yet, but three teams can punch their playoff tickets on Sunday.

The Panthers have the clearest path to the playoffs: If they beat the Saints on Sunday, they win the NFC South. The Panthers can also win the NFC South even if they lose, as long as the Falcons lose to the Buccaneers. And the Panthers can clinch a playoff spot even if they lose and the Falcons win, as long as the Seahawks lose or both the Cardinals and Packers lose.

The Patriots also have a fairly clear path to the playoffs: If the Patriots win and the Jets lose, the Patriots win the AFC East. The Patriots can also clinch a playoff berth even if the Jets win, as long as the Patriots win and either the Chiefs or Steelers lose.

The Bengals need more help: Cincinnati can’t clinch the AFC North this week, but the Bengals can clinch a playoff berth with a win, a Texans loss, a Colts loss and either a Jets loss or both a Broncos win and a Chiefs loss.

Bottom line: The Panthers will probably get their playoff ticket punched this weekend, the Patriots need a little help and the Bengals need a lot of help.

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Seahawks sign Chase Coffman, drop Drew Nowak

ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 23:  Chase Coffman #86 of the Tennessee Titans leaps over Kemal Ishmael #36 of the Atlanta Falcons in the second half of a preseason game at the Georgia Dome on August 23, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) Getty Images

Jimmy Graham is done for the season after tearing the patellar tendon in his knee, leaving the Seahawks in need of some more depth at tight end for the final five weeks of the regular season and what they hope will be more football in the postseason.

They acquired that depth on Tuesday by signing Chase Coffman as a free agent. Coffman entered the NFL as a third-round pick of the Bengals in 2009 and has also spent time with the Buccaneers, Falcons and Titans over the course of his career. He had four catches for 42 yards in one appearance for the Titans this season, but has been out of the league since being released at the end of October.

Luke Willson tops the depth chart at tight end with Graham out of the lineup and the Seahawks also have Cooper Helfet on the roster.

To make room for Coffman, the Seahawks released center Drew Nowak. Nowak opened the season as the team’s starter at center and made seven starts up front before giving way to Patrick Lewis. Nowak’s standing dropped to the point that he was inactive the last three weeks and the Seahawks will continue to use Lemuel Jeanpierre as Lewis’s backup.

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Chip Kelly to Eagles players: I’m here as long as they’ll have me

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 08:  Head coach Chip Kelly of the Philadelphia Eagles talks with players during warm-ups prior to the game against the Dallas Cowboys on November 8, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) Getty Images

While addressing rumors linking him to a departure from the Eagles, Chip Kelly said Monday that he was “totally committed” to remaining the coach in Philadelphia.

Kelly also said that he didn’t feel a need to directly address the chatter with the team’s players because “a lot of times we just chuckle and laugh” about them. Kelly reversed course on that Tuesday, however.

Running back Kenjon Barner said that Kelly told the team “as long as they have me here, I’m here” during a morning meeting. Barner added that he thought it was a good thing for Kelly to put any worries in the locker room at ease.

“I think giving the younger players some confidence and some reassurance is good,” Barner said, via “I’m sure there were some young players [that were wondering about Kelly leaving]. It’s only human nature. You hear certain things, of course, you’re going to question certain things. Chip did kind of put that all to rest today during the meeting just by reassuring everybody.”

As plenty of other people have mentioned in the last few days, coaches have been known to say one thing and then do something different when it comes to speculation linking them to other jobs. For now, though, Kelly remains adamant that the only place he sees himself in 2016 is the City of Brotherly Love.

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Pats, Gronk say he has bone bruise, is “week-to-week”

Rob Gronkowski AP

The Patriots and tight end Rob Gronkowski issued a joint statement Tuesday afternoon regarding the knee injury Gronkowski suffered during the Patriots’ first loss of the season last Sunday in Denver.

The statement said Gronkowski has a bone bruise/sprain in his right knee and will be evaluated on a week-to-week basis. No timetable for his return was offered, and the statement said any timetable reported “prior to that final determination would be speculative.”

So, Bill Belichick really doesn’t want a bunch of questions about Gronkowski’s knee.

With Julian Edelman out indefinitely and Danny Amendola having missed last week’s game, Tom Brady and the Patriots clearly need Gronkowski in the lineup. The 10-1 Patriots host the reeling Eagles this week before playing at the Texans Dec. 13.

Gronkowski has 57 catches for 931 yards and 9 touchdowns this season.

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Cardinals give Chris Johnson IR/return designation

Chris Johnson, NaVorro Bowman AP

The Cardinals placed running back Chris Johnson on injured-reserve/designated for return Tuesday, two days after Johnson suffered a fractured tibia.

The IR/return designation means Johnson must miss a minimum of eight weeks. He’d be eligible to return only if the Cardinals make the Super Bowl.

Johnson would be eligible to return to practice in six weeks, so if he’s progressing and the Cardinals are still playing the team could try to have him ready for the Super Bowl.

His loss is a significant one. Johnson is fourth in the NFL with 814 rushing yards this season and has been a big part of the 9-2 Cardinals’ offense.

The injury is also a potentially expensive one for Johnson, 30, who signed with the Cardinals during training camp. He had a $2 million incentive that would have been reached had he run for 1,300 yards and made the Pro Bowl.

With Andre Ellington dealing with a toe injury, rookie David Johnson is likely the No. 1 back, at least for now. Stepfan Taylor was already on the active roster, and Kerwynn Williams was promoted from the practice squad after Johnson was moved off the active roster Tuesday.

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Broncos bring back Josh Bush

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 17:   Josh Bush #20 of the Denver Broncos at Arrowhead Stadium on September 17, 2015 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Broncos saw safety T.J. Ward go down with an ankle sprain in their victory over the Patriots and he’s expected to miss some time, which likely led to a roster move they announced on Tuesday afternoon.

Denver signed safety Josh Bush to the 53-man roster and released tight end Richard Gordon. If Bush does play in place of Ward this week, it wouldn’t be the first time.

Bush opened the season with the Broncos and played 17 defensive snaps in the season opener when Ward was serving a one-game suspension. He spent two more weeks with the team before getting released and spent a week on the Bills’ roster a bit later in the year. Bush also played two games for the Broncos in 2014 and played in 35 games for the Jets from 2012-2014.

Gordon saw action in one game for the Broncos this year and has been inactive the last four weeks as Owen Daniels, Vernon Davis and Virgil Green have gotten the playing time at tight end.

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Dolphins cut C.J. Mosley, sign Patriots practice squader

C.J.Mosley, Earl Mitchell, A.J. Francis AP

The Dolphins were running out of healthy defensive tackles, so they cut one of the injured ones.

Via Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, the Dolphins waived defensive tackle C.J. Mosley, who was dealing with a calf injury. To fill his roster spot, they signed defensive tackle Robert Thomas off the Patriots’ practice squad.

Mosley signed a one-year deal with the Dolphins in June, reuniting with his former Lions teammate Ndamukong Suh.

Prior to bringing in Thomas, Suh was their only healthy defensive tackle, since Jordan Phillips (shoulder) and Earl Mitchell (calf) are ailing.


The Dolphins also brought back center Jacques McClendon, giving them some depth there after Mike Pouncey’s foot injury. They released linebacker James Michael Johnson for that roster spot.


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Report: Morelli’s crew reassigned to Eagles-Patriots game

ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 04:  Referee Pete Morelli shields his eyes from the sun during the first half of the NFC Wild Card Playoff game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Detroit Lions at AT&T Stadium on January 4, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) Getty Images

Patriots fans are getting upset. Or, as the case may be, more upset.

In confirming the PFT report that referee Pete Morelli’s crew has been removed from Sunday night’s game between the Colts and Steelers, the Associated Press also reports that Morelli and crew have been reassigned to the game between the Eagles and Patriots.

The move comes at a time when plenty of Patriots fans have become convinced that the NFL and/or the referees are out to get the Patriots, presumably for #DeflateGate. Fueling the theory is, among other things, a regional Sports Illustrated cover featuring Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler throwing a pass in the foreground — and Patriots defensive lineman Dominique Easley being blatantly held in the background.

Then there’s Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski agreeing with the assessment that he’s being targeted for offensive pass interference penalties.

The burgeoning belief overlooks the fact that the Patriots won 10 games to start the season. But maybe that’s the genius of it.

Regardless, if the reaction will be that dramatic after the team’s first loss in 11 games, it’ll be a lot worse if they lose in the postseason.

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Cam Newton: We won’t be “lured in” by talk of undefeated season

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 26:  Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers reacts after a play against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on November 26, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Panthers are the last team with a chance to go undefeated this season, but a 16-0 record was a topic that coach Ron Rivera didn’t feel much like discussing after they improved to 11-0 on Thanksgiving.

Rivera said last week that thinking about going 16-0 means “you are not focusing on the details” that have contributed to Carolina’s strong start to the season. That message seems to be resonating with his quarterback.

Cam Newton said Tuesday, via Steve Reed of the Associated Press, that the team won’t be “lured in” by talk of an undefeated season, calling it “ink for the media” that isn’t of concern to Panthers players.

We don’t use any ink in these parts, but we’re willing to take a look at Carolina’s chances of running the table all the same. They play at New Orleans, face Atlanta twice, take a trip to Jersey to face the Giants and close with a home game against Tampa in Week 17. It’s neither an underwhelming schedule nor one larded with creampuffs, leaving the Panthers with a decent chance at getting through unscathed if they keep playing at the level they’ve been at through the first three months of the year.

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Patriots signing Damaris Johnson to fill return job

New York Jets v Philadelphia Eagles Getty Images

The Patriots showed no patience with the last returner to make a mistake, so the new guy better know where the bar is set.

According to Mike Reiss of, the Patriots are signing receiver/return man Damaris Johnson.

He’ll replace Chris Harper, whose muffed punt Sunday night turned the tide against the Broncos and cost him his job Monday.

Johnson, who entered the league as an undrafted rookie from Tulsa, spent two seasons with the Eagles and last year with the Texans. He hasn’t been able to find work this year, but has averaged 25.1 yards per kickoff return and 9.5 yards per punt return.

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Giants sign Adam Gettis, place Geoff Schwartz on IR

LANDOVER, MD - AUGUST 29: Offensive lineman  Adam Gettis #73 of the Washington Redskins blocks against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at FedExField on August 29, 2012 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) Getty Images

With injuries riddling their offensive line, the Giants have added a healthy player from the Raiders practice squad.

The Giants announced Tuesday that they have signed Adam Gettis and placed Geoff Schwartz on injured reserve. Schwartz fractured his leg in last Sunday’s loss, which means he’s seen his season come to an early end for the second year in a row.

Gettis is familiar to the Giants after spending the last few weeks of last season and all of the offseason with the team. He spent some time on their practice squad earlier this year before being released and signing with Oakland. Gettis was a fifth-round pick of the Redskins in 2012 and saw action in 13 games for them in 2013, but has never made any starts at the NFL level.

Schwartz’s injury came in a game that the Giants played without left guard Justin Pugh and center Weston Richburg. Coach Tom Coughlin said he hoped to have at least one back for this week, although the nature of their injuries — Pugh is in the concussion protocol and Richburg has a high ankle sprain — makes that far from a sure thing.

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Browns confirm Josh McCown is out for the season

Josh McCown AP

Browns quarterback Josh McCown’s season is over.

McCown suffered a season-ending broken collarbone on Monday night against the Ravens, coach Mike Pettine announced today.

That means the Browns are down to two quarterbacks on the roster: Austin Davis, who stepped in for McCown after the injury last night, and Johnny Manziel, who was demoted to third string after a video of him partying emerged last week.

Will the Browns stand by their decision to make Manziel ride the bench because of his off-field problems? Or will they decide that they simply have no choice but to put Manziel on the field and see what he can do, even if they’re not pleased with the way he conducts himself off the field?

That’s the question Pettine will continue to face for as long as he refuses to anoint Manziel as the starter. As much as the Browns are disappointed with the way Manziel has conducted himself, the fact remains that they spent a first-round draft pick on him. If they’re not going to play him now, maybe they should just acknowledge that he’s never going to play in Cleveland.

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Mike Mularkey wants to see more from Titans receivers

NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 29: Dorial Green-Beckham #17 of the Tennessee Titans catches a touchdown pass over Neiko Thorpe #31 of the Oakland Raiders at Nissan Stadium on November 29, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) Getty Images

At 2-9, the Titans are going to spend the next five weeks playing out the string in hopes of taking some steps toward better days in 2016 and beyond.

One way to do that would be to continue building the offense around quarterback Marcus Mariota, who hasn’t done anything to make the team regret selecting him with the second overall pick in this year’s draft. To that end, interim coach Mike Mularkey thinks that wide receivers Kendall Wright and Dorial Green-Beckham need to start making more plays when the ball comes their way.

Mularkey added that he is looking for normal catches not “Odell Beckham catches” from the two wideouts, who have 46 catches between them this season.

“We had chances, Marcus is giving these guys chances,” Mularkey said, via the team’s website. “But we’re not making the plays … It’s the go routes outside that it just feels like we’re getting hit on them, and we’re not hitting ‘em. We have to make a play on those plays, because [Marcus] is giving us a chance to make them. They’re getting called, and they’re getting called to the right guys. We’re giving DGB a chance, and I’d like to see him with his size to go up and pluck that thing out of the air … I’d like to see [Wright] do the same thing.”

Wright, who missed three games with a knee injury before returning against the Raiders last Sunday, said earlier this season that he was “beyond frustrated” by the opportunities he was getting on offense. Mularkey’s comments show that there’s some frustration on both sides when it comes to the wideouts this season, although there’s a pretty good chance that changing the results will fall on a different coach in 2016.

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Report: Jamie Collins plans to play this week

FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 29:  Chandler Jones #95 and Jamie Collins #91 of the New England Patriots react during the second quarter against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium on October 29, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Patriots had a hard time stopping the run last Sunday night after Dont’a Hightower was forced out of the game with a knee injury.

Jamie Collins was already sidelined with the illness that’s kept him from playing the last four weeks and the Broncos took advantage to the tune of 136 yards on 17 carries once Hightower joined him on the shelf. Hightower reportedly has a sprained MCL, so he may not be able to go against the Eagles this week but Collins’s health is moving in the right direction.

Collins returned to practice last Friday for the first time since becoming ill and Ben Volin of the Boston Globe reports that the linebacker plans to play this week.

Collins has been a major part of the Patriots’ defense against both the run and pass this season, making 51 tackles and sacking quarterbacks 4.5 times while also forcing three fumbles. New England would welcome that kind of production back under any circumstances, but they’ll be especially happy to see him if Hightower isn’t given a green light.

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Jeff Fisher’s not worried about job security

St. Louis Rams v Seattle Seahawks AP

Anyone who questions Jeff Fisher’s job status can kiss his, . . . Oh, no wait, that’s a different question.

But the Rams head coach has as much interest in questions about his own job security as his team’s effort, with his Rams staring down a fourth straight losing season thanks to their fourth straight loss.

He was asked Monday if he thought he deserved a fifth season with the Rams, and he said he wasn’t thinking about it.

“I’ve been doing this for probably short of 20 years, and I’ve never gone into a game or into a season worried about my job security,” Fisher said, via Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “That would be unfair to the organization and unfair to the players. So I’m not concerned about that.

“What I’m concerned about is this week. I know that’s not the answer you guys want to hear, but I’m concerned about this week. We’re 3-0 in the division. We’ve got the division leader coming to town, and we’re going to get ready to play.”

With the Cardinals coming to town, the 4-7 Rams can only hope to play as sharply as they did before. But barring a five-game winning streak, they’ll endure a 12th straight non-winning season, which you can’t pin on Fisher alone (Steve Spagnuolo, Scott Linehan and Mike Martz deserve plenty of credit too).

But Fisher’s also in the fourth year of a five-year deal paying him around $7 million per year.

It’s reasonable to expect more than 24-34-1 for that kind of loot. But Fisher’s greatest skill may be survival, as he has six double-digit-win seasons in his 21 years in the NFL, with nine years of either seven or eight wins.

A career record of 166-154-1 looks good, but that .519 mark was built on that back of three 13-3 records with the Titans.

Like his career-arc doppelganger John Fox, there’s something to be said for consistency. And Fisher’s teams are almost always competitive, even if they don’t have a quarterback at that particular time.

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