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Vikings place Desmond Bishop on IR

Desmond Bishop AP

Desmond Bishop’s year with the Vikings is now over.

The veteran linebacker, who tore his ACL in Sunday’s loss to the Panthers, was placed on season-ending injured reserve today, the team announced.

They replaced him on the 53-man roster by promoting rookie wide receiver Rodney Smith from the practice squad.

The 29-year-old Bishop joined the Vikings after missing last season with the Packers because of a hamstring injury. He didn’t make an immediate impact, as last week was his first start of the year.

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John Conner returns to Jets

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In The Terminator, it was Arnold Schwarzenegger’s robot from the future who said “I’ll be back” while trying to stop Sarah Connor from becoming the mother of mankind’s future savior John Connor.

We’re not sure if fullback John Conner, dubbed “The Terminator” by Rex Ryan when the Jets drafted him in 2010, said the same thing when the Jets released him in 2012, but he made good on the promise if he did. The Jets announced Tuesday that Conner is back with the club.

He’ll take the spot of fullback Tommy Bohanon, who broke his collarbone against the Lions. Bohanon suffered the injury early in the game, but, in a move any time traveling cyborg could appreciate, was able to remain on the field for the duration of the contest.

Conner played 13 games for the Giants last season, but lost a training camp battle to Henry Hynoski this summer and has been unemployed since the Giants dropped him as part of their cut to 53 players.

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West says Browns will go with the “hot hand” at running back

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Veteran tailback Ben Tate suffered a knee injury in Week One.  Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell performed well in his absence.  Now that he’s back, will there be enough touches to go around?

“We’ll see,” Tate told reporters on Tuesday, via comments distributed by the team.

As to who’ll get the carries, the answer is less unclear.

“Whoever’s got the hot hand and whoever’s going to get us the win, that’s who we’re going to roll with,” Tate said.

That’s a far cry from Tate’s assessment before the season that he’s the starter and there’s no competition.

“I probably would have said the same thing,” West said.  “Everybody should have that personality coming onto the field. If you’re on the field, you should think you’re the best. If you don’t you shouldn’t be out there.”

West has emerged as the top option for the Browns, with 47 carries for 204 yards and two touchdowns.  Crowell has 27 attempts for 141 yards and three scores.

Tate exited the Week One loss to the Steelers with only six carries for 41 yards.

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Jordan Cameron feeling better, but thinks shoulder will be issue all year

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The bye week has done some good for Browns tight end Jordan Cameron.

Cameron said Tuesday that the sprained AC joint in his right shoulder is feeling better than it did heading into the bye week.

“I feel good. I feel healthy,” Cameron said, via Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal.

There’s room for an asterisk next to Cameron feeling healthy, though. He also said that he thinks the injury, which he initially suffered in the preseason and aggravated in the season opener, is going to linger throughout the season. That’s not great news for the Browns offense, which still has a while to go before wide receiver Josh Gordon will return to the lineup.

It’s also not great news for Cameron, who is eligible for free agency after the season. Cameron has already missed one game because of the injury and had just one catch in Week Three, a pattern that would likely have a deflating effect on any contract offers that will come his way if it were to continue for the remaining 13 weeks of the regular season.

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Trent Williams hopes to play on Monday night

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The Redskins played last Thursday night and lost to the Giants in a rout that was made all the worse by the departure of left tackle Trent Williams with a knee injury.

Any initial fears of a season-ending injury subsided on Friday, but his presence in Week Five is still anything but certain. Williams didn’t practice on Tuesday and said that his knee still needed to “calm down,” but he remains hopeful that he’ll be able to play on Monday night against the Seahawks.

“I’ll probably let it calm down a little bit,” Williams said, via CSNWashington.com. “Hopefully no setback. I’ll probably get it reevaluated before the game and hopefully — I’ll leave it up to coach — but hopefully I can be out there.”

Williams may have company when it comes to returning from a recent injury. Tight end Jordan Reed participated in individual drills on Tuesday, which marks a notable step forward in his recovery from a hamstring injury suffered in the season opener. Getting Reed back would be a plus for the offense, especially if Niles Paul can’t go because of the concussion he suffered against the Giants.

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Falcons make a flurry of moves to refill their offensive line

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Well, at least Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has healthy receivers this year.

Offensive linemen, not so much.

The Falcons just announced a flurry of moves, which included putting two more starting offensive linemen on injured reserve.

They announced that center Joe Hawley (knee) and right tackle Lamar Holmes (foot) were going on IR, where they’ll join left tackle Sam Baker (knee).

They also placed safety William Moore (shoulder) on IR/designated for return, which will allow him to come back after eight weeks.

To fill the roster spots, the Falcons promoted guard Harland Gunn and safety Sean Baker from the practice squad, and signed former Jaguars tackle Cameron Bradfield.

That’s going to make a real hash of their offensive line, but no worse than it was Sunday, when they had to use tight end Levine Toilolo as their right tackle to finish the game when injuries collected at one spot.

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Mike Tomlin doesn’t mind label, he minds lazy sterotypes

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Two days after Mike Tomlin bristled at being termed a “player’s coach,” during a pregame interview, he said he mostly bristles at the broad characterization it creates.

Tomlin told reporters Tuesday that he doesn’t necessarily take it as an insult, but that he’s insulted by the undertones the phrase carries.

I refuse to be put in a box. It’s my job to be what my team needs me to be,” Tomlin said, via Scott Brown of ESPN.com. “Sometimes it’s close and cuddly and sometimes it’s not. I don’t have any problem being any of the above.

“Sometimes when they couple ‘player’s coach’ with questions about how I wear my hair or what I choose to wear on the sidelines or what type of music I listen to, then it gets kind of old and falls into that category for me. I’d like to think the manner in which I do my job, whether it’s positive or negative, has very little to do with my haircut or the clothes that I wear or the type of music I listen to, and that’s when I get annoyed with that line of questioning.”

Tomlin’s got a point, and it’s no different than the way players are characterized.

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton got compared to players such as Michael Vick or Donovan McNabb before being drafted, even though he played more like Ben Roethlisberger.

Certain players are tagged as “athletic” and “instinctive” and certain players are “lunch pail guys” or “coaches on the field.”

And too often in the lazy telling of stories, those phrases fall along strict lines that just happen to coincide with the color of the players’ skin.

To that end, we agree with Tomlin. He’s not necessarily a player’s coach, any more than Dick LeBeau is.

He’s just a good one.

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Raiders settle on Tony Sparano as interim head coach

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Tony Sparano is set to become the Raiders’ interim head coach after the firing of Dennis Allen.

After several conflicting reports emerged over the last 12 hours about who the Raiders would go with as Allen’s replacement, Jim Trotter of ESPN reported on Tuesday that it’s Sparano, who had the title of assistant head coach and offensive line coach on Allen’s staff.

Sparano previously served as the head coach of the Dolphins from 2008 to 2011.

If the reports are correct that Raiders General Manager Reggie McKenzie wanted Sparano but owner Mark Davis preferred Al Saunders, that would indicate that Davis still has confidence in McKenzie’s decision-making. Which is odd, considering that most of McKenzie’s decisions as Oakland’s G.M. haven’t panned out.

The 0-4 Raiders are on their bye week, which will give Sparano some extra time to make whatever changes he deems necessary. Although Sparano will presumably get the final 12 games of the season to prove himself capable of handling the job on a permanent basis, it seems more likely that the Raiders will hire a new coach after the season ends. That coach will be the Raiders’ 10th head coach in 15 years.

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Michael Crabtree says things are “good over here”

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When NFL Network’s Deion Sanders tried to bogart the Apple laptop with the logo blacked out by electrical tape due to the whole Microsoft thing from Ian Rapoport, some thought Sanders’ information regarding discord with the 49ers came directly from receiver Michael Crabtree.

Sanders has denied that Crabtree was the source.  Crabtree took to Twitter on Tuesday to say this, via Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News:  “I don’t know what people are talking about with Mr Deion… But we good over here!

Sanders insisted otherwise, citing anonymous sources to support his belief that the players want coach Jim Harbaugh to leave.  The claim has been attacked in part by questioning the overall validity of any reporting based on unnamed sources, a naive strategy that overlooks the reality that the decision of a source to not attach a name to a piece of information doesn’t automatically make that information suspect.  The challenge for the reporter, however, is to vet the source and the information for credibility and accuracy.

Deion doesn’t have the education (then again, neither do I), the skill (then again, neither do I), or the experience (one out of three ain’t bad) to properly evaluate information from anonymous sources.  That’s the issue here, and that’s why Deion should have simply shared what he was hearing with management, so that the people paid by the league-owned to find stuff out about the league that employs them can do their jobs.

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Teddy Bridgewater: Too soon to say if I’ll play Thursday

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Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater suffered a sprained ankle in Sunday’s win over the Falcons, and it left him unsure whether he’ll be ready to go on Thursday night against the Packers.

“Each day I’m making progress,” Bridgewater said today. “I’m just going to keep moving, move forward and try to get ready for Thursday.”

Asked if he could put a percentage on his chances of playing, Bridgewater answered, “I cannot. We still have a long time until Thursday, so right now I’m going to continue to just rehab, do a little exercise today and see where I am the next couple days.”

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer sounded optimistic about Bridgewater’s chances, but he emphasized that it’s ultimately a medical decision about whether Bridgewater is healthy enough to go.

“He’s out here today in a walk-through. He’s fine, really. He’s good,” Zimmer said. “Just depends on when we feel he’s ready. He won’t if we feel he’s not ready.”

If Bridgewater can’t go, the Vikings will turn to Christian Ponder. Which means Vikings fans are hoping beyond hope that Bridgewater can go.

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Choice for Raiders interim coach down to two

Oakland Raiders 2011 Headshots

For the moment, Raiders General Manager Reggie McKenzie’s job seems safe.

But he’s also about to make a decision which could make him less so.

According to Scott Bair and Fallon Smith of CSNBayArea.com, the Raiders’ choice for an interim coach is down to two: Tony Sparano or Al Saunders.

Owner Mark Davis prefers Saunders, according to the report, while McKenzie prefers Sparano. But Davis is going to allow McKenzie to make the final call.

Honestly, it might not matter.

Depending on who Davis sets his sights on when it comes to a permanent coach, that person might or might not want McKenzie around. But going against your boss’s wishes at a time when your own job is own the line is going to make it an interesting call for the G.M.

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After FCC vote, NFL reiterates its commitment to free TV

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The NFL opposed the effort to dump the blackout rule in part by suggesting that the removal of the ability to prevent games from being televised for free in markets where the home team had failed to sell out the stadium would lead to the NFL fleeing free TV generally.  Now that the FCC has overturned the blackout rule, the NFL has renewed its commitment to audience-maximizing, three-letter network broadcasts.

“NFL teams have made significant efforts in recent years to minimize blackouts,” the league said in a statement issued after the FCC’s unanimous vote to scrap the blackout rule.  “The NFL is the only sports league that televises every one of its games on free, over-the-air television.  The FCC’s decision will not change that commitment for the foreseeable future.”

The term “foreseeable future” implies that maybe, at some point down the road, the NFL’s attitude toward free TV will change.  For now, it won’t — in part because blackouts have become largely irrelevant.

Last year, only two of 256 regular-season games were blacked out in the home team’s market.  This year, none of the first 61 games of the season have been blacked out.

The push to dump the blackout rule has come in recent years, at a time when the number of televised games consistently met or exceeded 90 percent.  In prior decades, when the percentage of televised games fell as low as 41 in 1975 and hovered in the 50s and 60s in the ’80s and ’90s, there wasn’t a peep about the blackout rule.

Maybe the rise of the Internet has given fans a vehicle for pushing the issue.  Maybe the ongoing effort by billionaires to squeeze millions from the public coffers has generated a backlash.  Regardless, the blackout rule is dead — and its departure ultimately may not change anything.

Unless a large percentage of fans decides to quit buying tickets and to watch the games at home, knowing that the game will be on even if no one shows up.

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Browns get Ben Tate back on the practice field

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Apparently it was a perfect bye week for the Browns. Johnny Manziel didn’t end up on TMZ, and now Ben Tate is back in action.

According to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Tate was back on the practice field Tuesday after missing the previous two games with a knee injury.

Tate, who suffered a knee injury in the opener, wore a brace on his right knee but was reportedly moving well during the portion of practice open to the media.

The Browns brought him in during free agency to be their starter, but they’ve gotten good work out of rookies Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West in his absence.

“That’s what we brought Tate here for, to be the starter,” running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery said last week. “He’s the No. 1 running back in this offense. Right now, you can say we miss him. We miss his experience. We miss his leadership with the group. Speaking from that standpoint, we’ll be open arms and welcome to have Ben back into the fold, so he can come out and help us win more ballgames.”

Having too many backs is a problem they’d love to have in some places (like Carolina) right now, so working Tate back into the mix shouldn’t be much of a problem.

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Colts extend Robert Mathis through 2016

Mathis AP

Robert Mathis will not play at all this season after suffering a torn Achilles during a workout. But he’s still very much in the Colts’ plans.

The team announced today that it has extended Mathis’s contract for another season. He’s now under contract with the Colts through 2016.

Mathis was suspended for the first four games of this season for a violation of the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. He would have been eligible to re-join the team at practice and in this week’s game, but he tore his Achilles tendon while working out on his own during his suspension and has been placed on season-ending injured reserve.

Although he is out for the year, Mathis is expected to spend time at the facility in team meetings and doing rehab work, and Colts coach Chuck Pagano said this week that he thinks having Mathis around will be helpful for the team. Now Mathis will help the team for two more seasons.

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PFT Live: Jarius Wright

Jarius Wright, William Moore AP

The Teddy Bridgewater era got off to a smashing start on Sunday and we’ll talk to one of the biggest beneficiaries of the quarterback change in Minnesota on Tuesday’s edition of PFT Live.

Vikings wide receiver Jarius Wright will join Mike Florio to discuss the play of the team’s first-round pick in his first NFL start. Wright was responsible for 132 of Bridgewater’s 317 passing yards against the Falcons and we’d imagine that will lead to nothing but rave reviews for the new quarterback.

Wright had just 37 yards in the first three weeks of the season and the game was his best individual effort since joining the team as a fourth-round pick in the 2012 draft. We’ll hear what went right for Wright last Sunday and where he thinks his partnership with Bridgewater can go over the rest of the season when he visits the program.

It all gets started at noon ET and you can watch it all live by clicking right here.

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Bengals think Vontaze Burfict can return from concussion this week

Vontaze Burfict AP

The Bengals are back from their bye week and readying their preparations for Sunday’s attempt to extend their winning streak to four games against the Patriots on Sunday night.

Part of that process will involve doctors taking a look at linebacker Vontaze Burfict to see if he’s recovered enough from his most recent concussion to rejoin the team on the field. Burfict suffered concussions in each of the first two weeks of the season and missed Week Three, so he’s had some extra time to recover and coach Marvin Lewis believes the linebacker will be ready to go this week.

“I would imagine he will. Yes,” Lewis said, via FOX19 in Cincinnati.

The Bengals had no trouble polishing off the Titans without Burfict in the lineup, but the Bengals are obviously better off when he’s healthy and making plays on defense. If Burfict is cleared for practice on Wednesday, that outcome will be more likely.

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