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Matt Cassel’s starting, but Vikings aren’t sure about their running backs

1a52cdc39313c71aa95053fcc99e45ed AP

Christian Ponder has recovered from his concussion, but Matt Cassel’s still going to start at quarterback for the Vikings this weekend.

That was the word from coach Leslie Frazier when he addressed the media on Wednesday. Cassel has completed 37-of-71 passes for 508 yards, three touchdowns and an interception since taking over for Ponder during the Week 13 victory over the Bears. Sunday’s game against the Eagles will be his fourth start of the season.

No announcement was made about a starting running back, however, and none will be coming until Friday at the earliest. Frazier said, via Ben Goessling of, that both Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart will try to practice on Friday. Frazier feels more optimistic about Gerhart, who hurt his hamstring, playing than he does about Peterson.

Frazier added that Peterson has ditched his walking boot and will be in the pool working on Wednesday. He won’t play without practicing on Friday, same as Gerhart, and the Vikings may be rolling with Matt Asiata and Jerome Felton in the backfield if things don’t break their way.

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Donte Moncrief back, but Colts are shutting down Kendall Langford

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - DECEMBER 27: Ryan Tannehill #17 of the Miami Dolphins is sacked by Kendall Langford #90 of the Indianapolis Colts during a game  at Sun Life Stadium on December 27, 2015 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Colts are getting one key contributor back this week, but are losing a member of the defense they can scarcely afford.

Via Mike Wells of, the Colts will get wide receiver Donte Moncrief back on the field Sunday against the Chiefs.

He hasn’t played since a shoulder injury in Week Two against the Broncos.

On the other hand, they’re going to be without defensive lineman Kendall Langford, who had knee surgery in August and had a recent setback.

Coach Chuck Pagano said the decision was made to “shut him down,” to give Langford time to heal. A key run defender, Langford had appeared in 135 consecutive games.

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C.J. Anderson’s expected absence: 2-8 weeks

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 24:  Running back C.J. Anderson #22 of the Denver Broncos rushes through an open hole in the second quarter of the game against the Houston Texans at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on October 24, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images) Getty Images

Broncos running back C.J. Anderson declared his knee surgery a “super success.” But it remains to be seen when he’ll be ready to return to action.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Anderson will miss anywhere from two to eight weeks as he recovers from arthroscopic surgery to repair the meniscus in his knee. Per the source, it’s impossible at this point to be more specific.

Anderson opted for a repair, with the torn meniscus sutured together, in lieu of a cleanup, with the goal of preserving cartilage and avoiding bone-on-bone contact in the affected knee. A cleanup would have allowed Anderson to return quickly, but it could have laid the foundation for more problems later.

The Broncos now have to decide whether to put Anderson on IR, which would shut him down for eight weeks and, essentially, make him unavailable through the end of the regular season.

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DeMarco Murray getting MRI on toe, team expects good results

NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 27:  DeMarco Murray runs for a touchdown during the second quarter of the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Nissan Stadium on October 27, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) Getty Images

Titans running back DeMarco Murray hit a brief snag on his way to 123 rushing yards and a touchdown against the Jaguars when he pulled up short after a 13-yard gain near the end of the first half.

Murray went to the locker room before the half concluded, but the issue wasn’t serious enough to keep him from returning for the second half and continuing to find success against the Jacksonville defense. While Murray finished the game without further issue, the team still wanted to make sure all was well on Friday.

Coach Mike Mularkey said that Murray is getting an MRI on his toe Friday and that the team doesn’t expect the test will turn up anything serious.

That’s a plus for the Titans because Murray has made the Titans look wise for trading for him this offseason. Murray has 756 yards on 160 carries, which leaves him with more yards than he had all of last season for the Eagles and with a 4.7 yards per carry average that’s on line with the one he posted while running for 1,845 yards with the Cowboys in 2014.

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Michael Oher out again, three cornerbacks questionable for Panthers

SAN JOSE, CA - FEBRUARY 05:  Offensive Tackle Michael Oher #73 of the Carolina Panthers looks on while taking a drink of water during practice prior to Super Bowl 50 at San Jose State University on February 5, 2016 in San Jose, California. The Carolina Panthers face the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50 on February 7. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Panthers activated Leonard Johnson from the non-football injury list on Friday, putting him on track to make his 2016 debut after recovering from a torn Achilles.

It’s unclear who will be joining him at cornerback against the Cardinals. The Panthers have listed James Bradberry, Robert McClain and Daryl Worley as questionable to play. Bradberry has missed the last two games with a toe injury, but practiced this week and coach Ron Rivera said he saw more reps on Friday.

Defensive end Kony Ealy and defensive tackle Paul Soliai are also listed as questionable while defensive tackle Vernon Butler will miss another game with an ankle injury.

That makes four straight games on the sideline for Butler and it will be the same situation for left tackle Michael Oher, who has been ruled out again with a concussion. Mike Remmers will remain on that side while Daryl Williams fills his customary spot at right tackle.

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Jets list Mangold, Skrine as doubtful

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 12:  IK Enemkpali #75 of the Buffalo Bills and Nick Mangold #74 of the New York Jets shake hands during the coin toss prior to the game at MetLife Stadium on November 12, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Jets will list center Nick Mangold, cornerback Buster Skrine and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins as doubtful for Sunday’s game at Cleveland, Jets coach Todd Bowles said Friday.

Mangold has not practiced this week due to an ankle injury. Bowles told reporters Thursday “it [didn’t] look good” for Mangold’s chances of playing Sunday.

Mangold has only missed four games in his 11-year career. The Jets list Wesley Johnson as their backup center on their unofficial depth chart.

Skrine has a knee injury. Seferian-Jenkins is battling an ankle injury.

Bowles had already ruled out rookie linebacker Darron Lee, right tackle Brent Qvalue and linebacker Bruce Carter. After missing last week’s game, defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson will be listed as questionable, as will offensive tackle Ryan Clady.

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Tevin Coleman ruled out for Week Eight

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 9:  Running back Tevin Coleman #26 of the Atlanta Falcons catches a pass and runs for a touchdown in the third quarter of the game against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on October 9, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Falcons have enjoyed good play from running backs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman this season, but they’ll need to come up with a different approach out of the backfield against the Packers this weekend.

Coleman has been ruled out due to the hamstring injury that’s kept him from practicing this week. His absence has left things pointed in that direction for several days and the Falcons have added Stevan Ridley and Terron Ward to the roster to go with Freeman this weekend.

Falcons coach Dan Quinn also said that defensive end Dwight Freeney is going to be a game-time decision due to the quad injury that kept him from practicing on Wednesday and Thursday this week. Vaughn McClure of reports that Freeney was on the field with his helmet at the end of practice after being absent during the earlier portion of the workout that was open to the media.

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NFL suspends free agent wide receiver J.J. Worton

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 01:  Wide receiver J.J. Worton #9 of the UCF Knights celebrates on the field after defeating the Baylor Bears 52-42 in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 1, 2014 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images) Getty Images

The NFL has shown its personal conduct policy has teeth, suspending a convicted assaulter six games.

Of course, the assaulter is a former Rams and Patriots practice-squader who hasn’t been employed in the league since the Rams cut him in June.

According to Tom Pelissero of USA Today, the league suspended free agent wide receiver J.J. Worton for six games effective Oct. 10, which would make him eligible to return on Nov. 22.

Of course, to do so, someone would have to be interested in the former Central Florida wideout.

Worton received probation after being convicted of three assault and battery charges. He was accused of touching two women indecently at a bar and then punching a man who confronted him about it.

The Patriots cut him shortly after the arrest, though the Rams brought him back to camp this offseason.

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Bengals short on injury concerns this week

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 11:  Teammates Andy Dalton #14 and Andrew Whitworth #77 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrate after a 23-22 victory over the New York Jets during their game at MetLife Stadium on September 11, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Bengals won’t have any game-time decisions to make before their game against the Redskins kicks off on Sunday.

The biggest injury concern on the roster this week has been left tackle Andrew Whitworth, who suffered a concussion against the Browns last Sunday and opened the week in the concussion protocol. Whitworth steadily progressed in his practice participation as the days passed, however, and got in a full session on Friday.

Whitworth doesn’t have an injury designation for the game, which means he’s on track to play. Whitworth has plenty of company in that regard.

Every player on the Bengals’ 53-man roster was a full participant on Friday and no one has been listed as questionable, doubtful or out for the game. That’s unusual for this point in the season and the good health is something the Bengals surely hope will help them move to 4-4 heading into their bye week.

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LeSean McCoy doubtful for Sunday

LANDOVER, MD - DECEMBER 20: Running back LeSean McCoy #25 of the Buffalo Bills walks off of the field in the third quarter after being injured against the Washington Redskins at FedExField on December 20, 2015 in Landover, Maryland. The Washington Redskins won, 35-25. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) Getty Images

Last week, the Bills allowed running back LeSean McCoy to play through a hamstring injury. That turned out to be a bad idea, as McCoy aggravated the injury during the loss to the Dolphins.

This week, the Bills will have McCoy rest his hamstring.

McCoy is officially listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game against the Patriots. Players who are listed as doubtful almost never end up playing, and it seems extremely unlikely that the Bills would risk yet another setback to one of their most important players.

In McCoy’s absence, the Bills will give Mike Gillislee plenty of carries. Gillislee has looked good in limited action this year, averaging 6.2 yards a carry.

The Bills have also ruled out safety Aaron Williams, who was injured on a brutal hit from Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry last week. Also out is wide receiver Marquise Goodwin.

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Doug Pederson isn’t complaining about facing teams after their byes

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 23: Head coach Doug Pederson of the Philadelphia Eagles walks on the field prior to the game against the Minnesota Vikings at Lincoln Financial Field on October 23, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Eagles are smack dab in the middle of a three-game stretch against opponents with extra time to prepare to face them. And their head coach isn’t griping about it.

“It doesn’t bother me,” Doug Pederson told reporters on Friday regarding the prospect of playing the Vikings, Cowboys, and Giants after their bye weeks. “You know, I don’t make the schedule.”

Those who did make the schedule have added an extra layer of difficulty for the Eagles.

Then again, they beat the Vikings, whose 5-0 momentum may have been disrupted by the emerging from the bye a week ago. The Eagles, who had their break after three straight wins to start the season, may have lost a little of their sparkle, too.

“I would rather have continued to play 3-0 and not have a bye, either, so it kind of works the other way for us,” Pederson said. “But it is what it is at this point, and we just got to handle them one game at a time. For us, it’s about just maintaining the momentum and just keep building off of last week and keep playing and fighting. You know, it’s challenging because, again, three of these teams are coming off their break. But we don’t put a lot of emphasis in that.”

It’s the right approach. There’s nothing the Eagles can do other than get ready for each game, hopeful that the same disruption to their three-game streak and the Vikings’ five-game streak will apply to the Cowboys’ five-game streak and, next weekend, the Giants’ two-game streak.

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Obama picks Patriots to win Super Bowl, doesn’t “see any real strong teams”

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 23: U.S. President Barack Obama (C) holds a jersey while posing for a picture with head coach Bill Belichick (L), owner Robert Kraft (R) and members of the National Football League Super Bowl champions New England Patriots during an event at the White House April 23, 2015 in Washington, DC. President Obama honored the Super bowl XLIX champion Patriots who defeated the Seattle Seahawks 33-27 in overtime.  (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images) Getty Images

At a time when the NFL’s trying to figure out why fewer households are watching their product, the White House pointed out one of the problems — the product may not be as good as it has been.

President Barack Obama did an interview on SiriusXM Shade 45’s “Sway in the Morning” show, and when asked for a Super Bowl pick, underscored something others have noticed.

“At this point, you’d have to put your money on [Tom] Brady again,” Obama said of the Patriots quarterback, via Mike Reiss of “I don’t see any real strong teams. Seattle and Patriots have a rematch [from the 2014 season]. That’s my call.”

Of course, when the Patriots won that Super Bowl, Brady skipped a chance to visit Obama at the White House.

It will be interesting to see if Brady makes the next trip in case Obama’s prediction is correct, particularly if his “good friend” doesn’t win the upcoming election.

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Browns name McCown Sunday’s starting quarterback

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 18: Josh McCown #13 of the Cleveland Browns looks to pass against the Baltimore Ravens in the second quarter at Cleveland Browns Stadium on September 18, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Getty Images

Browns Coach Hue Jackson had hinted at it throughout the week, and Friday he made it official that Josh McCown will be the starting quarterback for Sunday’s game vs. the Jets.

McCown started in Week Two vs. the Ravens. He suffered a broken left collarbone in that game.

He’s been practicing the last two weeks but hasn’t been cleared to play until now. Six different players have taken snaps at quarterback for the Browns in their seven games.

Rookie Cody Kessler, who suffered a concussion last week, has not been cleared for this week. Rookie Kevin Hogan, who saw his first game action last week, will be the No. 2 quarterback this week. Rookie Joe Callahan, just claimed via waivers on Monday, will likely be a gameday inactive.

Callahan should get himself ready, though. The Browns don’t have a bye until Week 13.

McCown started eight games last season for the Browns and put up some big numbers. He entered this season as the No. 2 quarterback behind Robert Griffin III, who suffered a shoulder injury in the season opener and remains on the team’s injured-reserve list.

McCown, 37, is in his 14th NFL season. He’s started 58 career games and played in 78.

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Goodell on ratings: “We don’t dismiss any theory”

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - FEBRUARY 05:  NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks during a press conference prior to Super Bowl 50 at the Moscone Center West on February 5, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images) Getty Images

Little is clear about the 2016 NFL season, including the reason(s) for the dramatic drop in TV viewership.

Asked by Gary Myers on WFAN’s Chalk Talk if the league has reached any conclusions regarding the reduction in ratings, Commissioner Roger Goodell said, “No, and I don’t think anybody can do that.”

Goodell added, after Myers rattled off various possible explanations for the decline (election year, quality of games, fans fed up with off-field misconduct, too many penalties, and the national anthem protests), “We don’t dismiss any theory, if you want to call it that.”

That’s a stake contrast from nine days ago, when Goodell insisted that the anthem protests are not impacting ratings.

The Commissioner then added another potential explanation for the phenomenon: “The media landscape is going through some very fundamental changes.”

Goodell generally attributed the drop to a “confluence of events,” and he reiterated that “we don’t dismiss any of them.”

He also focused on the positive; at a time when prime-time ratings have dropped by 36 percent over the last several years, the NFL’s ratings are up by 27 percent.

“It’s not always a straight line,” Goodell said. “You know there are bumps. . . . What we want to do is figure out how to engage our fans in the platforms they want to engage on and how do we engage them longer.”

Before doing that, it makes sense to come up with a reliable assessment of the factors. From polling to focus groups to surveys to any of the other ways of obtaining feedback as to why viewing habits have dramatically changed, the NFL has the resources and the incentives to get the answers.

The biggest problem for the league is that, if the anthem protests are a factor, there’s nothing the NFL can do about it — and any acknowledgement of the connection would underscore the power the players have. Which possibly would invite them to find more ways to wield their power.

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Matt Jones out on Sunday, Jordan Reed/Josh Norman expect to play

LANDOVER, MD - OCTOBER 2: Cornerback Josh Norman #24 of the Washington Redskins reacts after a play against the Cleveland Browns in the fourth quarter at FedExField on October 2, 2016 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) Getty Images

There’s some good news and some bad news on the Redskins’ final injury report for Sunday’s game against the Bengals.

Tight end Jordan Reed and cornerback Josh Norman both said, via John Keim of, that they expect to be in the lineup in London this weekend. Reed and Norman have both been in the concussion protocol this week, but got the green light to travel with the team and will go through a walkthrough practice Saturday to make sure all remains on track for Sunday.

Reed missed the last two games while Norman had to leave last Sunday’s loss to the Lions after getting hurt.

The bad news comes in the backfield as running back Matt Jones has been ruled out due to the knee injury that kept him from practicing all week. The Redskins have already promoted running back Mack Brown from the practice squad to join Rob Kelley and Chris Thompson on the depth chart against Cincinnati.

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Carson Palmer: I’ve been trying to work on deep passes

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 23:  Quarterback Carson Palmer #3 of the Arizona Cardinals throws a pass during the NFL game against the Seattle Seahawks at the University of Phoenix Stadium on October 23, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

During the 2015 season, Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer connected on just over 50 percent of his passes that traveled more than 15 yards through the air.

That number has dipped to 40.7 percent through his first six games of this season with just one of those passes going for a touchdown, leaving him well off the pace he set while throwing 13 touchdowns in such situations last year.

“I missed a couple,” Palmer said, via “I had J.J. [Nelson] on a couple the other night. I’ve taken shots that I shouldn’t have in certain situations. I think one thing I need to do is be a little bit more picky: when to take them, when not to take them. That’s something I’ve been trying to work on.”

Being pickier doesn’t seem to be coach Bruce Arians’ approach to the issue. He said that the team should “keep throwing them and we’ll hit them,” something that could pay off for the Cardinals against a Panthers secondary that’s been susceptible to the pass all season.

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