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Jim Schwartz: We doubled Dez all day and he still scored two TDs

Dez Bryant AP

Dez Bryant’s play on Sunday in Detroit was overshadowed by the play of Calvin Johnson, and by Bryant’s own sideline antics. But it should be pointed out that Bryant did, in fact, turn in a big game and nearly lead the Cowboys to a victory over the Lions.

Detroit coach Jim Schwartz said the Lions made stopping Bryant the focal point of their defense, and that they were double covering Bryant on both of his touchdown passes. According to Schwartz, the Lions were using the coverage they thought would force Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo to go to other receivers, but Bryant beat them anyway.

“We were doubling Dez Bryant just about the entire game and he still made two touchdown catches,” Schwartz said. “Both of them, he was doubled. One of them was an over-under zone, and the other was a true double man. And he kept on making a play on us.”

Sunday marked the ninth time Bryant has scored two touchdowns in a game. Unfortunately, the Cowboys are 1-8 in those games.

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DeAngelo Williams is 63 yards from setting a record he may not want

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 18:  DeAngelo Williams #34 of the Pittsburgh Steelers rushes against Dre Kirkpatrick #27 of the Cincinnati Bengals in the second half during the game at Heinz Field on September 18, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) Getty Images

Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams doesn’t like being told that he’s old. If he continues his run of early-season success on Sunday, he’ll be hearing it a lot more.

With 63 yards rushing against the Eagles, Williams will become the oldest player in NFL history to rush for 300 yards in his first three games, breaking a mark currently held by the late Walter Payton.

Williams has bristled on multiple occasions at references to his age (33), even though he acknowledges that he’s still going strong three years past the tailback witching hour because he was part of a committee for years in Carolina.

If they had used him as extensively as the Steelers currently do, Williams wouldn’t be a 33-year-old running back right now. He’d be a 33-year-old former running back.

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Report: Kenyan Drake to be top back for Dolphins Sunday

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 18:  Kenyan Drake #32 of the Miami Dolphins celebrates with teammates after scoring a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on September 18, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) Getty Images

Before the Dolphins signed Arian Foster this summer, it looked like Jay Ajayi would be the top running back in Miami this season.

Foster won’t be in the lineup Sunday because of a groin injury, but the Dolphins are reportedly going with a running back other than Ajayi in his place. Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that third-round pick Kenyan Drake will be treated as the starter against the Browns.

Ajayi didn’t play in the season opener after coach Adam Gase made the decision to leave him home when the team traveled to Seattle. Rapoport also reports that running backs Isaiah Pead and Damien Williams were inactive for last weekend’s loss to the Patriots after missing a meeting in the days leading up to the game. There’s no word on any of the three being ruled out for this week’s game and the Dolphins are expected to work others in the game with Drake.

Drake had two carries for 12 yards, two catches for six yards and a rushing touchdown in Week Two. Ajayi ran five times for 14 yards in that game and Williams had two carries for nine yards in Week One.

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17 days later, Cam Newton concussion protocol investigations still going

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 08:  Quarterback Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers calls out from under center in the first half against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 8, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) Getty Images

The NFL and NFL Players Association continue to independently investigate whether league officials complied with the concussion protocol during crunch time of Week One’s opening game. As to the investigations, crunch time apparently has not yet arrived.

Neither side has reached a conclusion, 17 days later. Per a league source, the NFL’s report is expected “soon.” During a Friday visit to PFT Live, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith described its investigation as being in the middle or the beginning.

Whenever both sides complete their work, the question becomes whether their conclusions conflict. If so, an arbitrator will be called upon to resolve whether a violation of the rules occurred.

The delay suggests that both sides are taking the matter seriously, as they should. It also suggests that it’s not the quick, simple, open-and-shut proposition that the league initially tried to characterize it as the day after the game.

The fact that referee Ed Hochuli so quickly ushered Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor off the field in the opening game of Week Two shows that the league has gotten the word out to take these matters more seriously, given that Taylor was in far less objective distress than Newton a week earlier.

Still, it’s one thing to send the quarterback out of the game in the third quarter. It’s quite another to yank him during the final drive with his team trailing by one point. The last thing the league wants to do is remove from play a key player in a key moment for a determination that he doesn’t have a concussion.

And the last thing any of the people with the power to remove the key player in a key moment wants to do is be the person who is publicly flagged as the one who made a decision to order an exam of a player who wasn’t concussed, keeping him off the field long enough to keep his team from winning.

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Reports: Protestors could be trying to block fans from Panthers-Vikings game

CORRECTS WHITE POLICE OFFICER TO BLACK POLICE OFFICER IN CAPTION  - FILE - In this Aug. 16, 2012 file photo, the Time Warner Cable Arena is shown on left of downtown Charlotte, N.C.    To much of the world, Charlotte is the Queen City, a gleaming downtown, state-of-the-art stadiums, sparkling new mass transit, the nation's banking capital. But a very different Charlotte came into the spotlight in the past few days. Move outside the city's core and there are neighborhoods like the one where a black police officer shot and killed a black man, Keith Scott, Sept. 20, 2016, setting off violent protests.(AP Photo/Chuck Burton) AP

The decision was made to go ahead with today’s Panthers-Vikings game, despite an uneasy week in Charlotte following the police shooting of Eric Scott.

But even if the game is played, there might not be a full house at kickoff, as reports have emerged of protestors wanting to disrupt the flow of traffic into Bank of America Stadium.

According to Adam Rhew of Charlotte Magazine, protestors in uptown Charlotte are putting out word they hope to block enough traffic to keep players and fans from entering the stadium as normal by disrupting traffic on I-277 (which circles uptown). Earlier this morning, the crowd at Marshall Park was small and not the kind that would tie up many intersections.

There are extra security forces on the ground to keep things running smoothly, as the city of Charlotte declared today’s game an “extraordinary event,” which allows them to bring in more law enforcement personnel.

The National Guard was called in last week, after protests turned violent Wednesday night. Since then, things have remained largely peaceful, though the declaration of a midnight curfew and many uptown businesses closing has limited the amount of traffic in the area around government buildings and the stadium. Troops have already set up outside Bank of America Stadium.

Getting 70,000 extra people in and out of the area is a logistical challenge on a normal day, and bears watching over the next few hours.

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Catch up on PFT Live right now

PFTLive

During the offseason, I typically remembered on most Sundays to remind you to subscribe to the PFT Live podcast. Since football season has returned, Sundays have been a little hectic, which has caused me to forget to do the one thing I keep putting at the top of my personal “to do” list.

So before this Sunday gets out of control, allow me to do one thing. Actually, two.

First, I’ll ask you to download the PFT Live podcasts from the week that was, including interviews with Steelers receiver Antonio Brown, Giants cornerback Chris Harris Jr., Vikings guard Alex Boone, Giants guard Justin Pugh, and more.

Second, I’ll ask you to subscribe to the PFT Live podcast so you won’t have to remember to download it.

It’s available at iTunes, Google Play, and audioBoom, and the numbers have been going up every week. Even when I forget to drop reminders here.

Maybe I shouldn’t drop reminders here after all.

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Giants expected to play without Rashad Jennings

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - AUGUST 27:  Rashad Jennings #23 of the New York Giants runs with the ball against the New York Jets during the first quarter at MetLife Stadium on August 27, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images) Getty Images

Giants running back Rashad Jennings had his left thumb in a cast this week, but he was a participant in practice every day and the signs coming from the team were that he’d be in the lineup this Sunday despite being listed as questionable.

It appears things are going the other way for Jennings, however. Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that Jennings will be inactive as the Giants try to go to 3-0 against the Redskins on Sunday afternoon.

Jennings has run 31 times for 102 yards through the first two weeks of the season. Shane Vereen, with 20 carries and six receptions in two weeks, would seem to be in line for a bigger workload. The Giants can also look to Orleans Darkwa, Bobby Rainey and rookie Paul Perkins.

The Giants will also be without right tackle Marshall Newhouse and safety Darian Thompson at home on Sunday.

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OBJ on track to set an all-time record on Sunday

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 18:  Odell Beckham #13 of the New York Giants reacts against teh New Orleans Saints during the first quarter at MetLife Stadium on September 18, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

Assuming he’s neither totally shut down by Josh Norman nor ejected before catching a single pass, Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. will set an all-time NFL record on Sunday. Via NFL.com, with a single catch, Beckham will get to 200 career catches in fewer games than any player in league history.

Sunday’s game will be Beckham’s 30th, because he missed the first four of his rookie year with a hamstring injury. Former LSU teammate and current Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry — the most underrated receiver if not player at any position in the league — currently holds the mark with 200 catches in 33 games.

That’s the all-time mark, folks. Name any current or future Hall of Fame receiver and Landry and Beckham have outperformed them, from the perspective of doing what receivers do: Receiving thrown footballs.

It shouldn’t be a surprise. Beckham and Landry, respectively, are No. 1 and No. 2 all time in receiving yards in a player’s first two NFL seasons.

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Sunday morning one-liners

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 11: Cornerback Jason Verrett #22 of the San Diego Chargers runs with the ball after an interception during the second half  of the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on September 11, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Peter G Aiken/Getty Images) Getty Images

Changing offensive coordinators takes an excuse off the table for the Bills.

The Dolphins defense didn’t have much tape on Browns QB Cody Kessler as a professional to watch heading into Sunday.

The Patriots don’t mind the extended break after playing on Thursday.

There haven’t been any signs of Jets RB Matt Forte’s age thus far.

The Ravens have tried to keep last year’s finish against the Jaguars off their minds.

A roundtable’s worth of Bengals predictions for their game against the Broncos.

What will be the deciding factors for the Browns on Sunday?

The Steelers like their punters Australian.

Texans wide receivers struggled in Thursday’s loss to the Patriots.

The Colts could really use a win on Sunday.

S Tashaun Gipson expects the Ravens to test the Jaguars deep on Sunday.

Five questions for the Titans to answer against the Raiders.

The Broncos pass rush will try to throw Andy Dalton off in Sunday’s game.

Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill’s is showing why the team drafted him despite serious off-field red flags.

S Karl Joseph has made his way into the Raiders lineup.

CB Jason Verrett has become a leader on the Chargers defense.

The Cowboys haven’t won at home in a while.

Harry Carson thinks this year’s Giants defense can be a special one.

A look at the Eagles’ running back rotation.

A call for Redskins QB Kirk Cousins to relax.

Offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains is on the spot with the Bears.

Injuries are a challenge for the Lions right now.

CB Sam Shields may miss a few more Packers games.

RB Ronnie Hillman is getting his second NFL chance with the Vikings.

Former Falcons P Michael Koenen was on the other side of the most famous blocked punt in Saints history.

The Panthers will be replacing their top running back on Sunday while dealing with replacement backs on the Vikings side defensively.

Any spot on the Saints offensive line is fine with Andrus Peat.

The Buccaneers are still filtering out the bad in QB Jameis Winston’s game.

No Cardinals players have jerseys among the top 10 in sales.

Rams offensive Rob Boras isn’t sleeping much these days.

Are the 49ers catching the Seahawks at a good time?

The Seahawks have done well against 49ers coach Chip Kelly in the past.

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Report: Sammy Watkins won’t play on Sunday

ORCHARD PARK, NY - SEPTEMBER 15:  Marquise Goodwin #88 of the Buffalo Bills and  Sammy Watkins #14 of the Buffalo Bills during the first half against the New York Jets at New Era Field on September 15, 2016 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) Getty Images

On Friday, coach Rex Ryan said it didn’t look good. On Saturday, the player declared that he is “[r]eady to go out there and compete at the highest level.”

Sammy Watkins has since deleted his tweet.

The deletion means what it implies; Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that Watkins won’t be active, due to a lingering foot problem. He didn’t practice this week because of the injury, which apparently was exaggerated when someone stepped on the foot during a recent walk-through.

Marquise Goodwin, who got behind Darrelle Revis in Week Two for an 84-yard touchdown pass, gets the start. Robert Woods becomes the de facto No. 1 receiver.

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Alshon Jeffery good to go tonight

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 11: Alshon Jeffery #17 of the Chicago Bears is tacklred by Bradley Roby #29 of the Denver Broncos after a catch at Soldier Field on August 11, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Getty Images

Bears receiver Alshon Jeffery is officially listed as questionable for tonight’s game against the Cowboys, but he’s good to go.

Multiple reports say Jeffery will play despite a knee injury.

Jeffery has been the lone bright spot on the Bears’ offense this season, with nine catches for 201 yards on a team that has otherwise been unimpressive offensively.

It’s still unknown who will be throwing to Jeffery, but it’s expected to be backup quarterback Brian Hoyer, as starter Jay Cutler is doubtful with a thumb injury.

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Terron Armstead, Delvin Breaux out for Monday night

LANDOVER, MD - NOVEMBER 15: Quarterback Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints passes while tackle Terron Armstead #72 of the New Orleans Saints blocks against the Washington Redskins in the second quarter at FedExField on November 15, 2015 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images) Getty Images

As they try to get their first win of the season, the Saints will be missing a pair of starters on Monday night.

Tackle Terron Armstead (knee) and cornerback Delvin Breaux (fibula) are both out.

Several other Saints are questionable: defensive tackle Tyeler Davison (shoulder, foot), linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (quadricep), tight end Josh Hill (ankle), defensive end Cameron Jordan (knee), receiver Willie Snead (toe), and safety Kenny Vaccaro (ankle).

Snead told reporters on Saturday that he’ll see how the toe injury feels on Monday.

“I just want to be healthy for the year,” Snead said. “I want it to be gone, and just make sure it’s taken care of.”

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18 games still not a consideration for NFLPA

FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 7:    Jermaine Cunningham #96 and  Chandler Jones #95 of the New England Patriots rough up  Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos after he released a pass during the second half at Gillette Stadium on October 7, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) Getty Images

There’s a belief in league circles that the NFL: (1) still wants to expand the regular season to 18 games; (2) knows it can’t ask the players to expand the regular season to 18 games because of the safety considerations involved; and (3) hopes to entice the players to offer an expansion to 18 games in order to secure other concessions, like neutral arbitrations and a bigger piece of the financial pie.

If that’s the plan, the NFL Players Association doesn’t seem to be inclined to take the bait.

“I just can’t imagine a world where you add two more regular season games at the end of a brutal season that we have,” NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said on Friday’s PFT Live. “Certainly there’s been no proposal from the owners about increasing roster sizes or doing anything else to make sure that players’ health and safety is first and foremost. I mean look we are still in the middle of or the beginning of an investigation about how doctors handled the concussion protocol for the first game of the season and it seems to me that if you can’t successfully pull off a Hall of Fame game and you have what appears to be enough evidence to convince both parties to conduct an investigation of the concussion protocol, [it’s] probably not the right time to think about adding two regular season games.”

While hardly a kicking open of the door, Smith didn’t slam the door shut and barricade it with furniture. And that’s a smart play. If the NFL is willing to make major concessions and increase roster sizes and take other steps aimed at making the game safer for all players, maybe 18 games can happen. Smith’s point is that plenty of other issues need to be addressed before a two-game expansion of the regular season would be even a possibility.

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Julio Jones questionable, but he says he’ll play

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 18:  Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons celebrates with Matt Ryan #2 after a 21-yard touchdown against the Oakland Raiders during their NFL game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on September 18, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Getty Images

Officially, Falcons receiver Julio Jones is questionable for Monday night’s game at New Orleans with a calf injury. He didn’t practice on Thursday or Friday, and he participated on a limited basis on Saturday. He nevertheless says he’ll play.

Yes, yes I’ll play Monday night,” Jones said. “I wouldn’t chance it if I didn’t [feel like I was ready]. If I felt like I was going to overcompensate or something else was going to get tore up or it was going to get worse or anything like that. I’m good, I’ve been getting great treatment, therapy and rest — it’s the key.”

Out for the Falcons are linebacker Paul Worrilow (groin) and linebacker De’Vondre Campbell (ankle). All other Falcons are good to go for Monday night.

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Patriots in limbo at quarterback position

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 22:  Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots reacts on the sideline during the first half against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium on September 22, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) Getty Images

Jimmy Garoppolo has a shoulder injury. Jacoby Brissett has a thumb injury. Tom Brady has one game remaining on his suspension.

So what will the Patriots do at quarterback in Week Four against the Bills?

For now, they’re not saying — as if they ever say anything. T.J. Yates had a workout last week and Sean Renfree visited; one of them could be added, either to serve as the backup next Sunday, or possibly to start.

Few other options exist, if neither Garoppolo nor Brissett can play. Unless they intend to give Julian Edelman a crash course in a position he hasn’t played since college at Kent State, they’ll need to add someone else, if there’s any doubt that either of the two quarterbacks currently on the roster will be ready in eight days.

Whatever they do, coach Bill Belichick will have a plan, and chances are it will work.

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Signs not pointing to Sammy Watkins playing

ORCHARD PARK, NY - SEPTEMBER 15:   Sammy Watkins #14 of the Buffalo Bills gets upended by  Calvin Pryor #25 of the New York Jets  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

He’s listed as questionable, which currently means he’s at worst a 50-50 proposition to play. However, coach Rex Ryan made it sound like receiver Sammy Watkins is more doubtful than questionable.

Probably not real good,” Ryan said Friday regarding the likelihood Watkins will play, via Nick Veronica of the Buffalo News. “But we’ll see. If he feels good and he’s up to it, we’ll put him in there.”

Complicating matters is that someone stepped on Watkins’ injured foot during a walk-through this week. He had surgery on the foot during the offseason.

Watkins has six catches for 63 yards and no touchdowns in two games this season.

UPDATE 8:38 p.m. ET: And within 15 minutes of this item being posted, Watkins tweeted that he is “[r]eady to go out there and compete at the highest level.”

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