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Week 12 power rankings

Drew Brees AP

1. Seahawks (10-1; last week No. 1):  Now that Percy Harvin is back, maybe he can play cornerback.

2. Saints (9-2; No. 4):  Forget the playoffs.  The NFC’s berth in the Super Bowl hinges on whether the Saints can win next Monday night in Seattle.

3. Panthers (8-3; No. 5):  Ryan Kalil may have been only one year too early with that ad he bought before last season.

4. Patriots (8-3; No. 6):  Wes Welker is so much better than Danny Amendola that, even when playing for a different team, Welker did more to help the Pats win on Sunday night.

5. Broncos (9-2; No. 2):  Maybe Jim Irsay was right.

6. Chiefs (9-2; No. 3):  The paperwork may say Clark Hunt, but the Chargers own the Chiefs.

7. Bengals (7-4; No. 8):  The team that has gone 23 years since its last playoff win may soon have a new streak that lasts only a week.

8. 49ers (7-4; No. 9):  Aldon Smith returned a few weeks ago, but he’s finally back.

9. Cardinals (7-4; No. 10):  It’s quite possible that the Steelers “retired” a two-time coach of the year.

10. Cowboys (6-5; No. 15):  Believe it or not, the Cowboys could be on track to winning the division.

11. Eagles (6-5; No. 12):  Believe it or not, the Eagles may make the playoffs without winning the division.

12. Packers (5-5-1; No. 14):  At least Ted Thompson won’t be wasting time next month coming up with a New Year’s resolution.

13. Colts (7-4; No. 7):  Jim Irsay will eventually blow his stack.

14. Lions (6-5; No. 11):  Bill Ford will eventually will blow his stack.

15. Chargers (5-6; No. 19):  Philip Rivers seems to play better after he blows his stack.

16. Rams (5-6; No. 23):  Sam Bradford should have done that new deal when the team wanted to.

17. Bears (6-5; No. 13):  Unless Jay Cutler can tackle running backs, it won’t matter when he returns.

18. Titans (5-6; No. 20):  Somewhere, Bud Adams is giving Al Davis a middle finger, or two.

19. Steelers (5-6; No. 21):  The playoffs start Thursday night in Baltimore.

20. Ravens (5-6; No. 25):  I said, “The playoffs start Thursday night in Baltimore.”

21. Jets (5-6; No. 16):  The playoffs ended Sunday in Baltimore.

22. Dolphins (5-6; No. 17):  After Sunday’s woulda-shoulda-coulda catch in the final minute, Mike Wallace probably won’t be complaining about a perceived lack of deep balls for the rest of the season.

23. Giants (4-7; No. 18):  Maybe Tom Coughlin should have talked to his players about not talking too much.

24. Bills (4-7; No. 24):  I wonder if any of the Bills players made a bye-week trip to Dave & Buster’s?

25. Browns (4-7; No. 22):  Every time Browns fans think Brandon Weeden is out, injuries pull him back in.

26. Buccaneers (3-8; No. 28):  The most stunning in-season turnaround in years continues.

27. Raiders (4-7; No. 26):  Terrelle Pryor guaranteed earlier in the season that the Raiders would eventually get a fourth win.  No one is guaranteeing a fifth.

28. Vikings (2-8-1; No. 31):  Cordarelle Patterson became the first Vikings player since Randy Moss to put his butt on the goal post at Lambeau Field, but under slightly different circumstances.

29. Redskins (3-8; No. 27):  Thanks to the RGIII trade, the Redskins are helping the Rams get a very high draft pick in 2014.

30. Jaguars (2-9; No. 32):  Yep, they’re screwing up their shot at the first pick in the draft.

31. Falcons (2-9; No. 29):  Has any quarterback ever accomplished less with more money?

32. Texans (2-9; No. 30):  Case Keenum is one of the best young quarterbacks in league history to never win a game.

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Kaepernick’s view differs from what Baalke called “a good conversation”

SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 22:  Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers attempts a pass against the Seattle Seahawks during their NFL game at Levi's Stadium on October 22, 2015 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Getty Images

49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is back in practice this week and planning to return to preseason game action this weekend.

He’s back on speaking terms with 49ers general manager Trent Baalke, too, but maybe no better than that.

Asked by reporters Wednesday about what Baalke had deemed “a good conversation” between the two last week, Kaepernick offered a bit of a clarification.

We had a conversation,” Kaepernick said.

Pressed further on the matter, Kaepernick said, “We have a business relationship. That’s the point that we’re at.”

And Kaepernick wasn’t going to be pressed any further than that. He again said he’s done discussing how the team handled his injuries last season and his request for a trade last spring.

“Once again, I’m not getting into all of the specifics, anything like that,” he said. “We’re focusing on football and my focus right now is this game Friday.”

Earlier Wednesday, 49ers coach Chip Kelly said he’s glad to have Kaepernick back working in practice this week but has not yet named a starter for this week’s preseason game.

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Chargers taking page out of familiar playbook

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For Chargers fans, Wednesday’s statement from the team about defensive end Joey Bosa may have seemed like deja vu all over again.

A dozen years ago, the Chargers threatened to take money off the table during the holdout of quarterback Philip Rivers.

“Negotiations have broken down,” Chargers G.M. A.J. Smith said in August 2004. “Prior to the training camp report date, we made an effort to get Philip signed. Also, during the past week, we exchanged ideas and could not come to an agreement. On Friday, we offered a great deal to Philip. We also notified both Philip and his agent, Jimmy Sexton, that the offer will stand until 5 p.m. Sunday evening and if not accepted, the final offer will be pulled off the table. . . . We also informed them that the package we talked about and offered will now only go down in value.”

The Rivers holdout had some of the same perspective-based disagreements that allowed the team to cling to a set of principles premised on paying less, and that allowed the player to cling to a set of principles premised on getting more, with the team locked into the spot at which Rivers was picked and the Rivers camp applying a quarterback premium.

“The offer we made to Philip is not a slot offer at No. 4, but in fact, an offer that exceeds [those of] No. 2 Robert Gallery and No. 3 Larry Fitzgerald,” Smith said. “We believe it’s a great offer. Jimmy Sexton has been informed several times that the Eli Manning-Tom Condon deal with the New York Giants was of no concern to us before, no concern now nor will it be in the future. This is very unfortunate and disappointing but it is what it is.”

The Rivers deal eventually got worked out, and presumably the Bosa deal will, too. Otherwise, he’ll re-enter the draft in 2017 and the Chargers will get nothing for him.

It’s hardly the first holdout in San Diego, but with a stadium vote looming and all hands needed on deck in order to win as many games as possible before November 8, it could be the last holdout in San Diego. But not the last holdout for the Chargers.

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Dorial Green-Beckham will “play with the first group” this week

HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 01: Dorial Green-Beckham #17 of the Tennessee Titans warms up before playing against the Houston Texans on November 1, 2015 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Eagles didn’t wait long to put wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham into game action, throwing him into the lineup for last week’s game against the Steelers two days after he was acquired in a trade with the Titans.

Green-Beckham will be in the lineup again for this week’s game against the Colts and he’ll be getting a chance to see how he fits with the team’s projected starters. Coach Doug Pederson said Wednesday that the Eagles will “put a little package together” for the wideout while the first team is in the game.

“We put a couple plays in for him this week, expanded his role from a week ago,” Pederson said in comments distributed by the team. “Full week of practice. He’s comfortable with what we’re doing with him. Can’t tell you how many [or] the number of snaps he’ll get, but he’ll definitely play and play with the first group.”

Green-Beckham’s acquisition and quick move into the lineup may not be an indictment of the receivers that have seen time since Jordan Matthews suffered a knee injury, but they aren’t votes of overwhelming support either. Should Green-Beckham do well in the limited package Pederson’s proposing this week, an expanded role in future weeks will likely be coming at the expense of someone who thought his spot on the roster was more secure than it turned out to be.

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Which teams won’t get back to the playoffs in 2016?

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The NFL playoffs have significant turnover  every year, with four, five, or six teams that made it the prior season not getting back. On Thursday’s PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio and NBCSN, we’ll attempt to pick four 2015 playoff teams who won’t be back in 2016.

You can pick, too. The 12 teams appear in the poll below. Pick four of them who won’t be back, and we’ll share the results on tomorrow’s show.

PFT Live gets rolling at 6:00 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Radio, with the simulcast on NBCSN starting at 7:00 a.m. ET. Guests include Bengals cornerback Adam Jones and Hall of Fame coach and NBC analyst Tony Dungy.

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Justin Blackmon gets suspended sentence, avoids jail time

Britain 49ers Jaguars Football AP

Suspended Jaguars wide receiver Justin Blackmon received a one-year suspended sentence and probation Wednesday at a sentencing hearing and will avoid jail time as long as he complies with conditions set by an Oklahoma judge.

Blackmon had pleaded guilty in April to a DUI charge.

The Dec. 2015 incident marked Blackmon’s second DUI arrest since being drafted in the first round by the Jaguars in 2012 and his third in all. He remains indefinitely suspended by the NFL after his appeal for reinstatement was denied last year.

Through his attorney, Blackmon declined an interview request while leaving the courtroom Wednesday.

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Chargers DL Damion Square suspended four games

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 20:   Melvin Ingram #54 of the San Diego Chargers,  Damion Square #71 of the San Diego Chargers,  Denzel Perryman #52 of the San Diego Chargers tackls running back Lamar Miller #26 of the Miami Dolphins during the second half of a game at Qualcomm Stadium on December 20, 2015 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) Getty Images

We don’t know if Joey Bosa will see any time with the Chargers defensive line in the first four games of the season, but Damion Square definitely won’t be on the field.

In a less combative release than the one they sent out regarding their contract negotiations with Bosa, the Chargers announced that Square has been suspended four games by the league for a substance-abuse policy violation. The team expressed it’s disappointment and Square apologized in a statement of his own.

“I sincerely apologize to my teammates, coaches, the entire Chargers organization as well as the fans,” Square said. “I made a mistake and take full responsibility. I look forward to returning in Week 5 and doing whatever I can do to help the team.”

Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that Square was suspended after missing a drug test.

Square joined the Chargers as a waiver claim in 2014 and had six tackles in six games for them last season. In addition to Square, the Chargers will also be without Sean Lissemore on their defensive line in the early part of the year after placing him on injured reserve earlier this month.

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Chris Cooley says Bryan Stork’s retiring rather than coming to D.C.

New England Patriots Rookie Minicamp Getty Images

OK, if anyone is near Bryan Stork, send us a picture of him, so we’ll know for sure where he is and what’s going on.

The guy who started a Super Bowl two seasons ago for the Patriots and was reportedly cut this morning, then reportedly traded, may not be going to Washington after all.

According to former Washington tight end Chris Cooley, who still works for Dan Snyder’s radio station, Stork is retiring.

Mike Jones of the Washington Post, who does not work for Snyder, said his source told him that was “possibly” true.

Stork is a good player and would clearly be of benefit to a team if he wanted to play. But he also has a track record of concussions, and that could be a factor here as well.

But at this point, he could abandon snapping for a living and try out to play Major League Baseball and we wouldn’t be surprised.

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James Harrison: I’ll be cleared like Peyton Manning

PITTSBURGH - NOVEMBER 09: Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts scrambles away from James Harrison #92 of the Pittsburgh Steelers on November 9, 2008 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images) Getty Images

Steelers linebacker James Harrison has agreed to talk to NFL investigators tomorrow about an Al Jazeera documentary alleging he used performance-enhancing drugs, and he expects the same result as the first player who cooperated with the league’s investigation.

“They are going to clear my name and give me the same sendoff they gave Peyton Manning,” Harrison said, via ESPN. “I’m going to be cleared. They are going to give me the same thing, flash, across the bulletin board, NFL, Instagram, Twitter, all that — ‘James Harrison cleared.'”

The Al Jazeera report accused Manning, Harrison, Green Bay’s Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers and free agent Mike Neal of using PEDs. Manning cooperated with the league’s investigation and was cleared. Harrison, Matthews, Peppers and Neal initially refused to cooperate but agreed to speak to investigators when they were told they’d be suspended if they didn’t.

Despite agreeing to cooperate, Harrison referred to the NFL’s interview as a “waste of time.”

“It’s a stupid thing I gotta do to continue doing what it is I want to do and trying to get to where we want to be, and that’s holding a Lombardi [Trophy],” Harrison said.

After being cleared like Manning, Harrison hopes to do at the end of this season what Manning did at the end of last season.

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John Brown out with headache days after returning from concussion

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 27:  Wide receiver John Brown #12 of the Arizona Cardinals on the sidelines during the NFL game against the Green Bay Packers at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 27, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Packers 38-8.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

Cardinals wide receiver John Brown went into the league’s concussion protocol early in training camp and wound up missing three weeks of work before getting cleared to return to practice last weekend.

Brown’s return to action has hit a snag, however. Coach Bruce Arians said, via Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic, that Brown has a headache and won’t practice on Wednesday.

The Cardinals were off on Tuesday and Brown took part in Monday’s practice while wearing a non-contact jersey to let his teammates know not to hit him during the workout.

Per Somers, the Cardinals “seem confident” Brown will be ready to go for the start of the regular season but concussions don’t always follow a straight line and a return to the concussion protocol could make that an iffy proposition given how long the symptoms have lingered this month.

Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is also out of practice on Wednesday while he continues to manage the MCL issue that kept him from playing in the team’s second preseason game.

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Rob Gronkowski returns to practice field for Patriots

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 13:  Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots waits near the bench during their game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on December 13, 2015 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images) Getty Images

The good news is, the Patriots kept the scissors away from Rob Gronkowski. Actually, that’s probably a good idea year-round.

According to Phil Perry of CSNNE.com, the Patriots tight end returned to the practice field today. Jon Bon Jovi was apparently there too, but the Patriots are much happier Gronkowski will be there for them.

Gronkowski has been off since pulling up in an Aug. 15 practice and walking away with trainers. No word was given as to the reason for his absence.

Considering he’s practically never involved in the preseason anyway, his absence for the last week hadn’t yet reached the point of panic.

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Report: Bryan Stork traded to Washington rather than released

GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 01:  Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots prepares to take a snap from Bryan Stork #66 of the New England Patriots in the first quarter against the Seattle Seahawks during Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Getty Images

On Wednesday morning, multiple reports from New England had the Patriots cutting center Bryan Stork from their 90-man roster.

That appears to have been premature or a well-timed leak to generate some trade interest because Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that Stork has been traded to the Redskins for a conditional draft choice. There’s no word on the draft pick or the conditions.

Kory Lichtensteiger is at the top of the depth chart at center for the Redskins and has gotten the start in each of the team’s two preseason games to this point. They have Spencer Long listed as their backup center, but Long is also the starter at left guard while the team waits to see if Shawn Lauvao can be healthy enough to regain the job.

Stork, a 2014 fourth-round pick, has made 17 starts at center for the Patriots over the last two seasons.

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On Wednesday, Buccaneers open practice features no kicks from Roberto Aguayo

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On Tuesday, Buccaneers rookie kicker Roberto Aguayo was heckled and jeered by his team’s own fans while he kicked at a public practice. On Wednesday, there were no heckles or jeers because Aguayo didn’t kick during the open practice.

This development invites suspicion that the Buccaneers tried to hide Aguayo from those who may heckle and jeer him. According to JoeBucsFan.com, the team privately has denied any such suggestion.’

Besides, with the next two preseason games at home (including Friday night against the Browns), it’s not as if the Bucs could hide Aguayo for very long.

The second-round draft pick has missed three total kicks in two preseason games, and he struggled at times in practice on Tuesday.

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Chargers vow to reduce Joey Bosa offer

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 28:  (L-R) Joey Bosa of Ohio State holds up a jersey with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being picked #3 overall by the San Diego Chargers during the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University on April 28, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) Getty Images

In a statement issued on Wednesday afternoon regarding unsigned defensive end Joey Bosa, the Chargers said that they will restructure (i.e., reduce) the financial package that previously had been on the table for the No. 3 overall pick in the draft.

The reduction is occurring because, per the team, “Joey will be unable to contribute for the full 16 game season without the adequate time on the practice field, in the classroom, and in preseason games.”

The Chargers contend that an effort was made to resolve the impasse on Tuesday night.

“We gave Joey’s representatives our best offer last night, which was rejected today,” the team said.  “The offer that we extended was for Joey to contribute during all 16 games and beyond.  Joey’s ability to contribute for an entire rookie season has now been jeopardized by the valuable time he has missed with his coaches and his teammates. Since Joey will not report at this time, his ability to produce not just early in the season, but throughout the entire season, has been negatively impacted.”

The rest of the statement presents the team’s characterization of its offer, which undoubtedly conflicts with Bosa’s interpretation of it. The overriding problem continues to be that the Chargers do not want to deviate from what it regards as team precedent, and Bosa does not want to deviate from what he regards as precedent for the No. 3 overall pick in the draft.

The two primary sticking points had related to whether the guaranteed money will include offset language, and whether a large piece of the signing bonus will be deferred until March 2017. (There’s also a disagreement on the language and amount of training-camp roster bonuses, which are now common in top-10 rookie deals including offset language.) However, there never had been a dispute over the total dollars.

Based on the team’s statement, there now is. Which will make it even harder to get a deal done.

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Siemian back throwing after quasi-day off

DENVER, CO - AUGUST 20:  Quarterback Trevor Siemian of the Denver Broncos throws a first quarter pass under pressure by outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks of the San Francisco 49ers a preseason NFL game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on August 20, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) Getty Images

Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian was throwing as the Broncos opened practice Wednesday.

That’s notable not just because throwing is an important part of Siemian’s job description. On Tuesday, he didn’t throw during practice despite being suited up and otherwise participating.

Siemian landed on his throwing shoulder while trying to make a tackle after throwing an interception in last weekend’s preseason game. Broncos Coach Gary Kubiak had previously announced that Siemian would start this week’s third — and generally most important — preseason game

Siemian and Mark Sanchez have basically split the No. 1 reps while competing for the starting job. That Siemian has been tabbed to start for a second consecutive week is a sign he’s leading the race as it enters the home stretch, and that he’s back throwing says he’ll be cleared and ready for his next start.

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Giants owner on Brown: “A big difference between allegations and convictions”

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 21:  Kicker Josh Brown #3 of the New York Giants looks on after an extra point against the Minnesota Vikings during a game at MetLife Stadium on October 21, 2013 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

In finally coming out to discuss the Josh Brown situation, Giants owner John Mara defended his team’s handling of kicker Josh Brown, saying they did enough research to make them have a degree of trust in their kicker.

And in doing so, he suggested there was enough conflicting information to make it a complicated decision.

“A lot times there’s a tendency to try to make these cases black and white, they are very rarely black and white, very rarely have a Ray Rice video,’’ Mara said, via Paul Schwartz of the New York Post. “There are allegations made, you try to sort through the facts and try to make an informed decision. That’s what we did here.’’

The absence of a video also allows a lot more opportunity for leniency than Rice ever received, and Brown’s one-game suspension is well less than the six-game baseline the league had previously mandated.

Brown was initially charged with domestic violence in 2015, but charges were later dropped. His ex-wife accused him of more than 20 acts of violence against her and her teenage son. There were also incident reports from New Jersey saying she kicked him in the ribs, but no charges were filed there.

The very nature of the he-said/she-said allegations gave Mara pause, and he said that contributed to him waiting this long to speak.

“I’m not going to get into whether they were valid or invalid,’’ Mara said. “We did do some due diligence on this. We had a number of conversations with a number of different people. Again, we’re comfortable with the decision we made.

“That’s one of the reasons I hesitated, quite frankly, in addressing all of you because you get into discussions like that, and I don’t think it’s fair or appropriate. There are privacy issues here. There are sensitive, emotional issues that affect families, and it’s very difficult to discuss things in public and make a situation even worse than it already is.’’

But it’s clear that Mara had a degree of doubt about what he heard from the other side of the family.

“One thing that you learn when you’re dealing with these issues is that there’s a big difference between allegations and convictions, or indictments,” he said. “It’s very difficult sometimes to sort through all that and make informed decisions. We attempted to make an informed decision here. We’ll live with the results of that decision and we move forward.’’

And they’ll do so with Brown, once he serves his one-game suspension.

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