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NFL morning after: Bad rules a big problem for the NFL

waltcoleman AP

After Monday night’s mess in Carolina, where the game ended with a pass interference penalty in the end zone being picked up without explanation by the referee, I didn’t want to spend Sunday thinking about rules and referees. But it was hard not to think on Sunday that the NFL has a real problem on its hands with rules that are written badly, and officials who enforce those rules inconsistently.

Everyone likes to bash the referees when they get something wrong, and I’m going to criticize the referees here today, but it’s important to remember that the referees can only enforce the rules that the NFL gives them. And I’m starting to think that a bigger problem is that the NFL’s rules simply aren’t written clearly enough to allow the officials to do their jobs properly.

Here’s a sampling of my thoughts on the rules on Sunday:

I still don’t know what roughing the passer is. In the Buccaneers-Lions game, Detroit defensive tackle Nick Fairley hit Buccaneers quarterback Mike Glennon in the leg and was called for roughing the passer. According to the referee, it was because Fairley hit Glennon too low. But the problem is, Fairley’s hit on Glennon was in about the same part of the leg as Chargers defensive lineman Corey Liuget’s hit on Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning a couple weeks ago. Liuget wasn’t flagged and wasn’t fined and the NFL confirmed that Liuget’s hit was legal. But if Liuget’s hit was legal, I’m not sure why Fairley’s was illegal. And that wasn’t even the only roughing the passer call in that game I couldn’t figure out: Later in the same game, Tampa Bay’s Mark Barron was flagged for an even harder to understand roughing call against Detroit’s Matthew Stafford. And don’t get me started on Rams defensive tackle Michael Brockers‘ flag for a clean hit on Josh McCown.

Protecting quarterbacks is a priority, or is it? Last week, when 49ers linebacker Ahmad Brooks was flagged for a hit to the neck of Saints quarterback Drew Brees, the NFL said it was the right call, supposedly because protecting quarterbacks is a priority. So why wasn’t Pittsburgh’s William Gay flagged on Sunday for his hit to the head of Jason Campbell? In both cases, a defensive player went high and hit a quarterback who was still holding the ball, forcing a fumble. When it was Brees getting clotheslined, it was a flag. When it was Campbell getting knocked out of the game with a concussion, it wasn’t a flag? Why? As far as I can tell, the answer is that the rules about protecting quarterbacks aren’t written clearly enough for the referees to call them consistently.

Referees are out of position even when they’re in position. Miami’s Cameron Wake lowered his helmet and drilled Carolina’s Cam Newton in the chin, and Newton ended up spitting out blood. It was a clear penalty on Wake, but the referee didn’t throw the flag. Why? Former NFL head of officiating Mike Pereira said the ref was positioned exactly where he’s supposed to be, but just didn’t see it. But if that’s the case, the NFL needs to have an official positioned in a place where he will see a hit like that, or make hits to the head of quarterbacks reviewable on instant replay.

Coaches should be allowed to challenge personal fouls. Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson was tripped and fell into Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco’s leg, triggering a flag for a personal foul. On replay, it was clear that Wilkerson only hit Flacco because he was tripped, but the referee can’t look at the replay to get the call right. Jets coach Rex Ryan should have been allowed to challenge, but under NFL rules, he couldn’t.

Coaches shouldn’t be allowed to delay games by throwing bogus challenge flags. As Detroit’s offense was lining up following a missed Tampa Bay field goal, Bucs coach Greg Schiano threw his red challenge flag. After a long delay in which Schiano and the referee conversed on the sideline, it was announced that Schiano had tried to challenge a call that wasn’t reviewable — namely, whether the Bucs’ kick had gone through the goalposts or over a goal post. Under NFL rules, it wasn’t a penalty for Schiano to throw that flag even when he couldn’t challenge. But it should be. Why should Schiano be allowed to delay the game and give his defense time to adjust to the way the Lions’ offense lined up? Later on Sunday afternoon, Giants coach Tom Coughlin did the same thing, throwing his red flag even though the play in question wasn’t reviewable. If a coach throws a challenge flag for something that can’t be challenged, he should be charged a timeout.

A huge missed call cost the Vikings, and the referee was powerless to review it. Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk blatantly grabbed and twisted Adrian Peterson’s facemask before forcing Peterson to fumble. It was an obvious penalty, and the officials should have seen it. But they missed it, and the referee couldn’t use replay to review it because for some odd reason facemasking isn’t subject to replay reviews. If we’re going to have instant replay at all, and if we’re going to have all turnovers automatically reviewed, why on earth can’t the referee look at the replay, see the blatant facemask, and get the call right?

No one knows what constitutes a catch. Late in the Cowboys’ win over the Giants, Dallas’s Dez Bryant grabbed a pass from Tony Romo, went to the ground and then lost possession. The officials ruled it incomplete, and I think the officials got it right. But the NFL’s convoluted rules about what constitutes a catch make it almost impossible for anyone to say with any confidence what will or will not be ruled a catch, and there were plenty of fans on Twitter saying they were sure Bryant had caught the pass. Cowboys coach Jason Garrett seemed to think it was a catch, too, as he called a timeout in the hopes that the extra time would trigger the replay assistant to tell the referee to review the play — which he didn’t do. The NFL simply has to do a better job of explaining what makes a catch and what makes an incompletion, so fans and coaches aren’t left confused at big moments in big games.

Forward progress isn’t clearly defined. The biggest play of the Giants-Cowboys game came when Giants receiver Victor Cruz caught a pass, was wrapped up by two Cowboys, then had the ball ripped out of his hands. The officials ruled it a fumble, and Dallas’s Jeff Heath picked it up and ran 50 yards for a touchdown. Giants coach Tom Coughlin said after the game that it was “unbelievable” that the officials didn’t rule Cruz’s forward progress had been stopped, but I can believe it because I see forward progress ruled inconsistently every week.

The NFL should eject players who enter the field during fights. When Rams defensive end Chris Long saw his brother, Bears guard Kyle Long, engaged in a skirmish on the field, Chris ran from the sideline onto the field to grab Kyle and pull him away. Chris may have simply been trying to break up the fight, but even if all they’re trying to do is break up a fight, players shouldn’t run onto the field and into a skirmish. One of the ugliest incidents in the history of American sports came in a 1977 NBA game, when Rudy Tomjanovich ran into a skirmish and Kermit Washington reacted by turning around and swinging, shattering bones in Tomjanovich’s face. The way to avoid such incidents is for all players to allow the officials to break up fights, not enter fights themselves. Other sports give automatic ejections to players who run from the sideline onto the field during a fight, and the NFL should, too.

I don’t like the overtime rule. Overtime in Green Bay felt unsatisfying all around. Here’s how I’d change the overtime rules: 1. Do away with the overtime kickoff. 2. Let the home team pick which yard line the first overtime possession will start on. 3. Let the road team pick whether to start on offense or defense, based on where the home team put the ball to start overtime. 4. Play pure sudden death, first team to score wins, and play until someone scores, with no ties.

NFL refs have a communication problem. The NFL admitted after last week’s Monday Night Football mess that referee Clete Blakeman dropped the ball when he failed to explain why a flag thrown on Carolina’s Luke Kuechly in the end zone was picked up, and the league office told refs last week that they need to use their microphones to explain to the fans why penalty flags get picked up. Amazingly, on Sunday against Miami, Kuechly committed another penalty on a pass into the end zone — and again, an official threw a flag, only to have the referee announce that there wouldn’t be a penalty, without explaining why. How does the NFL allow this to continue happening? The referees need to explain themselves. And the NFL needs to give the referees clearer rules to work with, so those explanations will make more sense.

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Week 13 skill-position injury report — Wednesday

Marshawn Lynch AP

Here are the skill-position players listed on the injury report as of Wednesday. Key fantasy starters are bolded.

Finally, a friendly reminder three games will be played Thursday: Bears-Lions (12:30 p.m. ET), Eagles-Cowboys (4:30 p.m. ET) and Seahawks-49ers (8:30 p.m. ET, NBC).

DID NOT PRACTICE

Bears WR Chris Williams (hamstring). — OUT

Bengals WR Mohamed Sanu (not injury related).

Bills TE Chris Gragg (knee).

Bills TE Lee Smith (illness).

Broncos RB Montee Ball (groin).

Broncos RB Ronnie Hillman (foot).

Broncos TE Julius Thomas (ankle).

Browns WR Marlon Moore (hamstring).

Buccaneers TE Brandon Myers (calf).

Buccaneers TE Luke Stocker (concussion).

Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (knee).

Chiefs TE Anthony Fasano (knee).

Chiefs WR Junior Hemingway (concussion).

Colts TE Dwayne Allen (ankle).

Colts WR Reggie Wayne (not injury related).

Eagles QB Nick Foles (collarbone). — OUT

Falcons WR Harry Douglas (foot).

Falcons WR Roddy White (ankle).

49ers TE Derek Carrier (foot). — OUT

Jaguars WR Cecil Shorts (illness).

Panthers WR Corey Brown (illness).

Rams WR Kenny Britt (back).

Saints RB Khiry Robinson (forearm).

Seahawks TE Cooper Helfet (ankle). — OUT

Steelers TE Heath Miller (not injury related).

Steelers WR Martavis Bryant (illness).

Texans WR Andre Johnson (not injury related).

Vikings RB Jerick McKinnon (back).

Vikings TE Chase Ford (hamstring, foot).

Vikings WR Cordarrelle Patterson (knee).

LIMITED

Bears WR Brandon Marshall (ankle). — PROBABLE

Bills K Dan Carpenter (right groin).

Bills WR Robert Woods (ankle).

Browns TE Jordan Cameron (concussion).

Buccaneers RB Charles Sims (ankle).

Buccaneers TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (back).

Cardinals RB Andre Ellington (hip/foot).

Cardinals WR John Brown (teeth).

49ers TE Vance McDonald (back). — QUESTIONABLE

49ers WR Bruce Ellington (ankle). — QUESTIONABLE

Lions RB Reggie Bush (ankle, back). — QUESTIONABLE

Packers TE Brandon Bostick (hip).

Patriots RB Shane Vereen (ankle).

Patriots WR Brandon LaFell (shoulder).

Raiders RB Latavius Murray (concussion).

Rams TE Cory Harkey (thigh).

Rams TE Jared Cook (back).

Ravens WR Michael Campanaro (thigh).

Texans RB Arian Foster (groin).

Titans RB Dexter McCluster (concussion).

Titans RB Leon Washington (hamstring).

Vikings RB Matt Asiata (concussion).

Washington RB Silas Redd (rib).

Washington TE Jordan Reed (hamstring).

FULL

Broncos RB Juwan Thompson (knee).

Broncos TE Virgil Green (calf).

Cardinals QB Drew Stanton (ankle).

Chargers RB Ryan Mathews (shoulder).

Chargers WR Eddie Royal (toe).

Chiefs WR Donnie Avery (groin).

Cowboys QB Tony Romo (back). — PROBABLE

Cowboys WR Terrance Williams (finger). — PROBABLE

Eagles K Cody Parkey (right groin). — PROBABLE

Eagles WR Jordan Matthews (knee). — PROBABLE

Eagles TE Zach Ertz (oblique). — PROBABLE

49ers RB Bruce Miller (shoulder). — PROBABLE

49ers RB Frank Gore (knee). — PROBABLE

49ers WR Brandon Lloyd (quadricep). — PROBABLE

Giants WR Odell Beckham (back).

Jaguars QB Blake Bortles (left wrist).

Lions WR Calvin Johnson (ankle). — PROBABLE

Panthers RB Mike Tolbert (knee).

Patriots QB Tom Brady (ankle).

Patriots WR Julian Edelman (thigh).

Raiders TE Brian Leonhardt (concussion).

Saints RB Mark Ingram (shoulder).

Saints RB Pierre Thomas (ribs, shoulder).

Saints RB Travaris Cadet (hamstring).

Saints WR Robert Meachem (ankle).

Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch (back). — PROBABLE

Seahawks WR Jermaine Kearse (ankle). — PROBABLE

Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph (abdomen, groin).

Vikings WR Greg Jennings (rib).

Vikings WR Jarius Wright (hamstring).

Note: All injury information is cited from the NFL and clubs.

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Bucs stadium caught selling non-alcoholic alcohol

Tequila Getty Images

On the football field, the 2-9 Buccaneers currently are as strong as a stiff drink.  Especially when the drink is mixed with some of the alcohol sold at the team’s stadium.

According to WFLA, at least one customer purchased on November 9 a shot of tequila that ended up being colored water.

Aramark, the concessions vendor at Raymond James Stadium, contends that the liquid accidentally had been poured from a bottle that was intended to be decorative.

Troy Sykes captured cell-phone video of his experience, with the bar manager explaining that the decorative bottles were filled with water.  Aramark has said it will stop that practice going forward.  Sykes quickly got a refund; it sounds like what he really wanted was his drink.

“To see the Bucs play, you have to have a lot of alcohol in your system,” Sykes said.

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Charles Woodson has no intention to retire after this season

Charles Woodson Getty Images

Fresh off an AFC defensive player of the week award, Oakland Raiders safety Charles Woodson doesn’t see any reason to hang up his cleats anytime soon.

No question,” Woodson said when asked about playing in 2015, per the Associated Press.

“I’m not thinking about going into the 40s but I don’t know. I’ll continue to say it: I feel great. Why that is, I have no clue. I’ll play this season out and we’ll see what happens after that.”

The 17-year veteran defensive back only signed a one-year deal to return to the Raiders this past offseason. He became the first player in NFL history to record 50 interceptions and 20 sacks in a career with a sack of Alex Smith last Thursday night.

Woodson did say he may reconsider he intention to play next year, or longer, based on how his body feels at the end of the year.

But for now, Woodson expects to be roaming the defensive backfield again next season with a preference to stay with the Raiders.

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Chris Long appears likely to return for Rams this week

Chris Long Getty Images

Defensive end Chris Long appeared in only the season opener against the Minnesota Vikings before having ankle surgery and landing on the injured reserve-designated to return list for the St. Louis Rams.

But Long appears set to return to the lineup for the Rams this Sunday against the Oakland Raiders.

He’s coming on,” head coach Jeff Fisher said, via R.B. Fallstrom of the Associated Press. “We’ve missed him, we’ve missed his production.”

Long has been able to practice the last three weeks with St. Louis with a Monday deadline to activate him from the injured reserve list.

Long has tried to lobby himself back into the lineup last week against San Diego with the Rams ultimately electing to hold him out another week. The 10 games Long has missed are the first of his seven-year career with the Rams.

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Bills awarded returner Marcus Thigpen on waivers

Atlanta Falcons v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Getty Images

The Bills have added a veteran kick returner for the stretch run, claiming Marcus Thigpen on waivers from Tampa Bay on Wednesday, the club said.

The 28-year-old Thigpen was the Buccaneers’ punt and kickoff returner for the first four games of November, bringing back six kickoffs for 120 yards and four punts for 65 yards. His most extensive NFL experience came with the Dolphins, for whom he returned kicks for two seasons (2012-2013). Thigpen (5-9, 200) has returned both a kickoff and a punt for a touchdown in regular season play.

The Bills are without their primary punt returner (Leodis McKelvin) and their primary kickoff returner (C.J. Spiller). McKelvin is out for the season with a broken ankle, while Spiller (broken collarbone) is on short-term injured reserve. Tailback Fred Jackson returned punts in Monday’s win vs. the Jets, while wide receiver Marcus Easley returned kickoffs.

To make room for Thigpen, the Bills waived rookie defensive end Bryan Johnson, who was inactive for a pair of games after being promoted from the practice squad on November 12.

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Nick Foles may be out longer than expected

Foles AP

A cracked collarbone was supposed to sideline Eagles quarterback Nick Foles for six to eight weeks.  Foles could be out even longer than that.

According to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer, the initial assessment may have been a “generous” one.  Per McLane, Foles’ collarbone must be “more than” healed in order to protect it against further harm.

McLane reports that the current best-case scenario for Foles would entail a Week 16 return against Washington.

Foles suffered the injury on November 2, and he has missed three games.  The question becomes whether Eagles coach Chip Kelly automatically would replaced backup Mark Sanchez with Foles as soon as Foles is cleared, or whether Sanchez would continue to play.

If Sanchez continues to struggle — and if the Eagles lose at least two of the next three against the Cowboys, Seahawks, and Cowboys again — Kelly may want to get Foles back on the field ASAFP, since a strong return from the starter could be exactly what the Eagles will need to salvage a berth in the postseason.

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Sammy Watkins thought he’d be a Brown

Watkins Getty Images

Before the draft, the Browns tried to make everyone think they’d select Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins.  That everyone included someone named Sammy Watkins.

“I met with [G.M. Ray Farmer] probably a week before the combine, so yeah, in my head I thought I was going to get drafted there because Josh Gordon got into some trouble. Yeah,” Watkins told Cleveland reporters in advance of Sundays game between the Bills and the Browns.

Ultimately, Watkins was on the board when the Browns were on the clock.  The Browns traded down, the Bills traded up, and Watkins now works in Buffalo.

“Being a first-round pick and having someone come up and get you, that’s the best feeling ever,” Watkins said.  “Having someone trust you and think that you’re good enough to come up and get.”

The Bills gave up a 2015 first-round pick (and a 2015 fourth-round pick) to get Watkins.  Does that add pressure?

“Not at all,” Watkins said.  “I think that I’ve met their expectations throughout the course of this year, and I’ve been getting better every week.  I’m doing good, and I think I’m going to keep improving and getting better.”

Watkins has been very good.  But other receivers taken in the first round have played well, too.  In hindsight, wouldn’t the Bills be in the same shape if they’d waited for Odell Beckham Jr. and saved the first-round and fourth-round picks?

Still, Watkins and Beckham aren’t rivals.  They’re friends.

“We’re very close,” Watkins said.  “I text him.  We talk, and I wish the best for him.  We all push each other every week.  I push him; he pushes me.  I watch him play; he watches me.  Yeah, I try to go out there every week and beat his numbers and beat everybody’s numbers.  That’s the ultimate goal — to be the best.  That’s what he’s been doing.  He’s been proving to everybody that he’s an elite receiver, a top receiver, and I think I’ve been doing the same.”

Watkins is right, but Beckham has done something that none of the other rookie receivers — and few in league history — have accomplished.  If that pushes Watkins to make a highlight-reel catch for the ages, everybody wins.

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No Wednesday practice for Clowney

Clowney Getty Images

How much is Jadeveon Clowney’s surgically-repaired knee bothering him?  Enough to keep him from practicing on Wednesday.

The first overall pick in the 2014 draft missed Wednesday’s practice due to a lingering knee problem.

After Sunday’s loss to the Bengals, Clowney said he’s still affected by the injury.

Last week, Clowney participated in all practices on a limited basis.  It remains to be seen whether he’ll be taking a game off in the hopes of getting himself healthier.

The 5-6 Texans host the Titans on Sunday.

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Marshawn is probable for Thursday night

Lynch AP

When the Seahawks and 49ers get together on Thanksgiving night on NBC, the 49ers will get a full dose of running back Marshawn Lynch.

Lynch is officially listed as probable for the NFC West showdown, with a back injury.  It means there’s a virtual certainty he’ll be available for normal duty.

Out for the Seahawks are tight end Cooper Helfet (ankle), the only guy who scored a touchdown in Sunday’s win over the Cardinals.  Also due to miss the game for Seattle are center Max Under (knee, ankle) and linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis (shoulder).

Questionable for Seattle are former 49ers defensive end Demarcus Dobbs (knee) and cornerback Jeremy Lane (glute).

For the home team, tight end Derek Carrier (foot), tackle Anthony Davis (concussion), and defensive lineman Glenn Dorsey (forearm) are out. Cornerback Tramaine Brock (hamstring), receiver Bruce Ellington (ankle), and tight end Vance McDonald (back) are questionable.

The “probables” for San Fran include running back Frank Gore, who has a knee injury.

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Rex Ryan: We have two good quarterbacks

genovick AP

Sometimes coaches have to put a positive spin on things even when all is lost. We’ll assume that’s what Jets coach Rex Ryan was doing when he addressed his quarterback situation today.

Asked about the decision to bench Michael Vick and start Geno Smith, Ryan maintained that both of them are good quarterbacks.

“I have said it all along I feel we have two good quarterbacks, I definitely feel that. And we have another guy that is a decent quarterback as well, in [Matt] Simms. But I feel that way,” Ryan said.

The reality is, if the Jets had two good quarterbacks they wouldn’t be 2-9 right now. If the Jets had one good quarterback they wouldn’t be 2-9 right now. The Jets have zero good quarterbacks. (And for that matter, if Simms is “decent,” then the Jets ought to let him start the last five games of the season and see what he can do.)

Truthfully, the Jets are just playing out the string, so they’ve decided to give the job to the younger quarterback. Ryan acknowledged that part of the decision to switch from Vick to Smith is to give the franchise more time to evaluate Smith.

“Let’s see how far he’s come,” Ryan said of Smith. “We’ve given him a few weeks off, let’s see how it handles it. Yeah, I am curious to see that. But again, I mentioned I’m excited to see it.”

Ryan may be the only one who’s excited to see the Jets’ offense for the last five games of the season.

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Kyle Fuller, Riley Reiff and Reggie Bush all questionable for Turkey Day

Rhett Ellison, Jarius Wright, Kyle Fuller AP

The Bears and Lions have released their final injury reports before Thursday’s game at Ford Field and it finds key players on both sides questionable.

Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller drew the tag after hurting his MCL last weekend. He was listed as a limited participant on Wednesday after being deemed a non-participant on Monday and Tuesday. If Fuller doesn’t play, it would eliminate the possibility that he’d line up across from his brother and Lions wide receiver Corey at some point on Thursday. Their parents have crafted some custom jerseys for the occasion, so it would be a letdown emotionally and sartorially if one of their sons couldn’t go.

On the other side, Lions left tackle Riley Reiff and running back Reggie Bush both got in limited practices on Friday before drawing the questionable tag. It was Reiff’s first practice of the week while Bush worked every day and has been targeting this week to return from the ankle injury that’s sidelined him recently.

The Bears listed defensive linemen Jeremiah Ratliff and Trevor Scott as doubtful due to knee injuries, and they’ve ruled out linebackers Lance Briggs and Darryl Sharpton and wide receiver Chris Williams.

Lions defensive tackle Nick Fairley and guard Larry Warford remain out.

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Shaun Phillps lands with Colts

Blake Bortles, Shaun Phillips AP

Linebacker Shaun Phillips has taken an overnight elevator ride from the basement to the penthouse in the AFC South.

Phillips was waived by the Titans on Tuesday and he’ll spend Thanksgiving as a member of the Colts, who announced that they added Phillips via a waiver claim on Wednesday. The move for Phillips, who has 81.5 career sacks, is a signal that the Colts would like to boost their pass rush off the edge.

The Colts currently rank 11th in the NFL with 27 sacks, seven of which have come from outside linebackers Bjoern Werner and Erik Walden. They hoped to have Robert Mathis for the final 12 regular season games, but he tore his Achilles while working out ahead of his reinstatement from a season-opening four-game suspension.

Phillips, who is signed through next season, had just two sacks in 11 games with the Titans, so he’s hardly been an impact player this season. Phillips did have 10 sacks last year with the Broncos, so a return to a team with postseason aspirations could be a boost to his productivity.

Linebacker Victor Butler has shuffled on and off the Colts roster a few times recently and he shuffled back off with Phillips’s arrival.

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Ryan Kalil says his brother’s hat-flick was all his fault

2014 Pro Bowl Getty Images

Vikings left tackle Matt Kalil has apologized for flicking the hat off a heckling fan last Sunday.

But the guy should probably be glad Ryan Kalil didn’t give more wedgies growing up.

The Panthers center came to the defense of his little brother, saying his treatment of Matt when they were growing up may have contributed to Sunday’s outburst.

“I was a little disappointed,” Ryan Kalil said, via John Shipley of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “I would have liked him to go with the, ‘You spilled something on your shirt‘ move, and then flick him on the chin. . . .

“It’s probably my fault for picking on him when he was little. That hat thing was a go-to move.”

Ryan said his brother was actually on the phone with their father when the incident occurred, saying the heckler was saying “some pretty ugly stuff.”
Of course, there’s plenty being said about Matt Kalil in Minnesota, where many feel he’s not living up to his first-round status.

And for that, a bunch of Vikings fans probably wish Ryan would have given his brother a few more noogies when they were growing up.

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Donte Whitner ruffles Fred Jackson’s feathers

Cleveland Browns v Cincinnati Bengals Getty Images

Safety Donte Whitner and the Browns will travel to meet the Bills on Sunday and Whitner’s not heading for the happiest of welcomes in the town he called home for the first five years of his career.

Whitner made a crack on Twitter over the summer about the Bills moving to Toronto, which made former Bill Darryl Talley quite upset and the bad feelings haven’t died down in Buffalo. Running back Fred Jackson said Wednesday that Whitner will “never get my respect” for what Jackson felt was talking down to people in Buffalo and in the organization.

“That’s just him being him,” Jackson said, via ESPN.com. “Donte is a guy that likes to ruffle feathers. He found any way he could to try and ruffle Buffalo’s feathers, knowing he had to come up to us. It’s just dumb for him to do, and talk about people like that, and talk about the city of Buffalo like that. But at the same time, you’ve just got to take it with a grain of salt and say it’s just some dude that’s being an idiot about some stuff.”

Whitner said he’s expecting a chilly reception from the fans at Ralph Wilson Stadium, but that he doesn’t care about hurting feelings if it might help the Browns win a game.

“[The Toronto Bills comment] wasn’t excessive. It wasn’t a joke. I knew that it would get to them. I knew it would ruffle a feather. If they’re over there talking about this, maybe we are in their heads. Maybe I’m in their heads. Maybe. We don’t know, but the goal is to go 1-0, the goal is to get them talking about things other than football, and I guess that’s what they’re doing.”

Whitner and Jackson should meet up at some point when Jackson gets hold of the ball and it will be interesting to see whose feathers are the most ruffled on the other side of a collision.

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Zach Mettenberger sends himself to selfie rehab

Houston Texans v Tennessee Titans Getty Images

Titans quarterback Zach Mettenberger made a rookie mistake by drawing too much attention to himself on social media before his first start, and incurred the wrath of Texans defensive end J.J. Watt.

But Mettenberger said he’s gone cold turkey on taking selfies, in hopes of keeping a lower profile.

“I was just addicted to it I guess. I put myself in a rehab program,” Mettenberger said, via Jim Wyatt of the Tennesseean. “And now that I’ve quit I feel like I am a much better person.”

Watt criticized Mettenberger for it after the game, and had his own selfie sack celebration during.

“It’s just kind of a reminder, this is the National Football League, not high school. Welcome to the show,” Watt said then. “I just, I take my job very seriously. If I was a rookie quarterback being named the starter for the first time in the league, I feel like I’d be a little bit more focused than that. Maybe he’ll learn from it, maybe not. We won the game, so that’s all that matters.”

On a conference call this week, Watt said he was surprised it got so much attention.

“I think that definitely got blown up more than I expected it to be. I guess I should have expected it with today’s world, but somebody asked me a question after the game and I answered it,” Watt said. “That’s all there was to it. It’s football.”

Of course, Mettenberger might want to win a game before sending out any more selfies, since he hasn’t done that yet as a starter either.

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