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Mark Davis confirms Dennis Allen remains as Raiders head coach

Denver Broncos v Oakland Raiders Getty Images

All signs seemed to point toward Dennis Allen remaining as the head coach of the Oakland Raiders for the 2014 season.

According to Paul Gutierrez of, Raiders owner Mark Davis said that Allen is still the head coach after a meeting between the two parties on Tuesday night.

Allen wouldn’t speak to reporters about how the meeting with Davis went when leaving team headquarters Tuesday evening. The status of Allen’s assistant coaches appeared to be one of the holdups in talks between the two sides. Only offensive coordinator Greg Olson and linebackers coach Bob Sanders had contracts for next season and Allen was apparently only willing to give one-year extensions to the remaining assistants.

Whatever issues remained appear to have been smoothed over as Allen is set to return next season. The Raiders have posted consecutive 4-12 campaigns in the last two seasons under Allen.

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Jets take 20-7 lead to halftime at Wembley

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 04:  Eric Decker #87 of the New York Jets evades Brice McCain #24 of the Miami Dolphins and Koa Misi #55 of the Miami Dolphins  during the game at Wembley Stadium on October 4, 2015 in London, England.  (Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images) Getty Images

Ryan Fitzpatrick’s accuracy faltered after completions on his first three passes on Sunday, but he used his legs to help the Jets extend their lead to 20-7 just before halftime.

Fitzpatrick scrambled for 19 yards on a third down just after the two minute warning to keep a Jets drive alive and Fitzpatrick recovered his touch in time to throw a touchdown to Eric Decker just before halftime. Fitzpatrick was on a 4-of-12 run thanks to a slew of scattershot throws — a few of which should have been intercepted — before hitting on four straight passes to close out the first half with a bigger lead.

Fitzpatrick is 11-of-19 for 172 yards overall and the Dolphins should probably consider themselves lucky the Jets have thrown that much. Chris Ivory has run over, around and through the Dolphins, including Ndamukong Suh on one big gain, on his way to 89 yards on 16 carries through the first two quarters. With Bilal Powell questionable to play again on Sunday because of a groin injury, Ivory should have a big role in the Jets’ efforts to make this lead stand up in the second half.

The Dolphins got their touchdown on a nicely thrown pass by Ryan Tannehill to Jake Stoneburner that was set up by a pair of pass interference penalties that handed Miami 58 yards. The Dolphins have managed just 65 yards on their own in a dismal offensive performance that’s seen them show neither aggressiveness nor a consistent ability to block the Jets pass rush.

That makes a big hole for Miami to climb out of and there will be fervent speculation about possible coaching changes in the event that they remain at the bottom of it come the end of the fourth quarter.

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Broncos right tackle Michael Schofield prepares not just for first start, but for first snap

Cody Latimer, Michael Schofield AP

Maybe Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning really should swap the pistol formation for punt formation on Sunday.

With a Vikings defense that repeatedly pummeled Matthew Stafford and Philip Rivers over the past two games coming to town, the Broncos have been forced to shuffle their tackles, due to an injury that will keep Ty Sambrailo from playing. Sambrailo, the season-long replacement for Ryan Clady, has a shoulder problem.

As a result, Ryan Harris moves from the right side to the left side, and Michael Schofield moves into the starting lineup.

For Schofield, it’s not just his first NFL start — it’ll be his first snap in an NFL regular-season game.

I’ll definitely have some butterflies,” Schofield recently said, via Cameron Wolfe of the Denver Post. “I’m sure everyone does in their first game. I’ve just got to go out there, play with confidence and play with good technique.”

Schofield now has to prove that he’s worth of the third-round pick the team invested in him.

“This is a great opportunity for Michael,” coach Gary Kubiak said. “As a player, that’s all you ask for — work, work, work and then someday, OK, hey, here we go. Then you find out. It’s Michael’s turn.”

It could end up being Brian Robison’s turn to make Schofield into a turnstile. Ditto for Everson Griffen, who’ll be facing Harris on the other side. The Minnesota defensive line has been stout this season, and Manning may have to get rid of the ball even faster. Or, if all else fails, hit the deck.

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Brent Grimes limps off as Jets extend lead

New York Jets v Miami Dolphins Getty Images

Things aren’t getting any better for the Dolphins in London.

They’ve punted twice on offense, allowed a touchdown on three plays on the Jets’ first offensive drive and now trail 10-0 after watching their top corner limp off the field in the first quarter.

Cornerback Brent Grimes got beaten deep by Brandon Marshall on the first Jets possession and pulled up while grabbing his leg after Marshall made a catch to move the ball into Miami’s territory on the second drive. There’s been no update about his status from the Dolphins at this point.

The Dolphins defense was able to keep the Jets out of the end zone as the drive continued, although they probably should have come up with an interception on a pass that Ryan Fitzpatrick threw right at linebacker Koa Misi. They settled for a Nick Folk field goal to extend their lead with just under five minutes to play in the quarter.

UPDATE 10:09 a.m. ET: The Dolphins call Grimes questionable to return with a knee injury.

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Jets strike first in London

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 13: Chris Ivory #33 of the New York Jets reacts after scoring a touchdown against the Cleveland Browns during the fourth quarter of a game at MetLife Stadium on September 13, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Jets won 31-10. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images) Getty Images

If the Dolphins are fighting for coach Joe Philbin’s job in London on Sunday, their first salvos won’t do much to create security.

The Jets needed just three plays to score a touchdown in the first quarter and take a 7-0 lead at Wembley Stadium. After forcing a Dolphins punt, Ryan Fitzpatrick loaded up the cannon for a 58-yard bomb to Brandon Marshall that put the Jets deep into Miami territory. Chris Ivory ran 12 yards on the next play and then finished off the drive with a three-yard touchdown run through the Dolphins defense.

Fitzpatrick’s opening pass stood in stark contrast to what Miami did on their opening possession. Ryan Tannehill threw three short passes to Jarvis Landry, one of which Landry dropped and one that came on 3rd-and-16 when the Dolphins pretty much threw their hands up to set up a punt.

We’ll see if they get more daring now that they’re on the wrong side of the scoreboard.

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Jags prepped for Luck and Hasselbeck

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Colts coach Chuck Pagano may have tried to fool the Jaguars. It didn’t work.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the Jaguars prepared to face both quarterback Andrew Luck and quarterback Matthew Hasselbeck on Sunday.

They spent time getting ready for the 40-year-old former franchise quarterback even though Pagano was both “supremely confident” and “absolutely confident” Luck would play.

Then again, based on the preseason assessment of Hasselbeck’s current skills from Bob Kravitz of WTHR, maybe the Jaguars didn’t need much time to get ready to face Hasselbeck.

If there are any concerns about Hasselbeck’s arm strength or other physical skills, look for heavy doses of Frank Gore on Sunday — along with eight or nine Jaguars defenders creeping around the line of scrimmage.

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Report: Bears optimistic Jay Cutler will start

Bears Cardinals AP

The Bears host the Raiders on Sunday afternoon in a game that sees the Raiders in the rare position of being favored to win a game on the road.

The presence of Jay Cutler at quarterback for the Bears might not do anything to change that, but the Bears are reportedly feeling good about having him back in the lineup. Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the team will make a final call after Cutler tests his hamstring in pregame warmups, but that they are optimistic that he’ll be able to play.

Jimmy Clausen started in Cutler’s place in last week’s 26-0 loss to the Seahawks and would start again if Cutler remains out another week.

Whoever plays at quarterback is expected to go into the game without wide receiver Alshon Jeffery. Jeffery has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury and was listed as questionable along with Cutler, but reports during the week indicated he’ll be out this weekend.

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Report: Andrew Luck won’t play on Sunday

Matt Hasselbeck AP

On Wednesday, Colts coach Chuck Pagano said he was “supremely confident” that quarterback Andrew Luck will play on Sunday. On Friday, Pagano said he was “absolutely confident” Luck will play.

It’s now Sunday, and maybe Pagano will say he’s not going to be the Alabama coach.

According to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, Luck will not play on Sunday. (So it’s safe to say he won’t be taking 11 of 12 snaps today.)

Luck has a shoulder injury that kept him from practicing this week. He reportedly had a private throwing session with coaches on Saturday. Apparently, they didn’t like what they saw.

Colts fans may not like what they see from backup Matthew Hasselbeck. During the preseason, Bob Kravtiz of WTHR suggested that Hasselbeck, who has since turned 40, is done.

If the Colts lose to the Jaguars then follow it up with losses in prime time to the Texans and Patriots, the Colts could be done, too. And maybe Pagano could then be the Alabama coach, since the Alabama coach could end up being the Indianapolis coach.

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Arian Foster expected to play today against Falcons

Jacksonville Jaguars v Houston Texans Getty Images

The Texans appear to have settled on a quarterback, and now he’ll have someone very important to hand it to.

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, Texans running back Arian Foster is expected to play today against the Falcons, after missing the first three following preseason groin surgery.

Of course, that’s with the standard “barring pregame setback” proviso, which is true of any player.

But getting Foster and some degree of running game established will be big for Ryan Mallett, who has had to scratch through without much of a supporting cast of skill-position talent, and with mismatced lines in front of him each week.

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Demoff addresses Kroenke’s silence

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As the next ownership meeting looms, it’s likely that plenty of official and unofficial discussions will be occurring regarding the NFL’s return to Los Angeles. Presumably, Rams owner Stan Kroenke will break character and actually say something.

Recently, team COO Kevin Demoff addressed Kroenke’s strategic decision to say nothing about the future location of the franchise.

“They want to hear Stan speak, but they want to hear what they want to hear,” Demoff said at a recent Washington University panel on the business of sports, according to Brian Feldt of the St. Louis Business Journal. “If Stan said he will let the process play out, well, people would rather hear him say he’s committed to St. Louis. Honestly, Stan wants to go through the process.”

Still, Demoff acknowledges that the silence — and the ensuing uncertainty — has done damage.

“There are so many fans who I feel like we are letting down no matter what the outcome is because they feel differently today [about the team] than they did a year ago, and we feel responsible for that,” Demoff said.

They may feel even more differently a year from now, especially if the Rams move out of St. Louis. That’s hardly a lock. As PFT reported last week, a group of owners (including Panthers owner Jerry Richardson) are actively opposing Kroenke’s effort to relocate to L.A., supporting instead the Chargers-Raiders proposal in Carson. Or, ultimately, only the Chargers.

Silence or not, the calendar is creeping closer to the moment of truth for 2016. Part of the political maneuvering this week could entail pushing the decision back a year, given the perception that this could help Kroenke ultimately prove that: (1) St. Louis doesn’t have a viable plan for building a stadium; and (2) San Diego does.

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Eric Decker active, Branden Albert out in London

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The Jets waited until Sunday morning to decide if wide receiver Eric Decker would be in the lineup after listing him as questionable with a knee injury and the decision wound up being the one they wanted for their offense.

Decker is active for their clash with the Dolphins in London a week after missing the Jets’ loss to the Eagles. The Jets offense missed Decker, who scored touchdowns in each of their first two games, in that contest and it also missed running back Chris Ivory. Ivory was active but never played because of a groin injury, something that’s expected to change this time around.

On the other side, the Dolphins are without left tackle Branden Albert again this week. Albert made the trip across the pond, but was doubtful to play due to the hamstring injury he suffered in Week Two. Jason Fox will start in his place. Defensive tackle A.J. Francis, tight end Dion Sims, cornerback Tony Lippett, guard Billy Turner, wide receiver Matt Hazel and running back Raheem Mostert are also out for Miami.

Wide receiver Chris Owusu, cornerback Darrin Walls, linebacker Jamari Lattimore, guard Jarvis Harrison, guard Willie Colon, offensive lineman Ben Ijalana and tight end Jeff Cumberland are the Jets inactives.

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Kevin Coyle on hot seat for Dolphins, too

Kevin Coyle AP

On the person who would take over for coach Joe Philbin if he’s fired after Sunday’s game to the Jets, the Dolphins have not yet crossed that bridge. One possible reason for that? Defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle may be thrown off it, with Philbin.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that Coyle could be let go after Sunday’s game in lieu of Philbin. Obviously, that makes Coyle not a viable candidate to take over the team on an interim basis, if Philbin is let go.

As Rapoport characterizes it, a mutiny could be coming on the defensive side of the ball. He reports that players had a “very frank and contentious” meeting with Coyle this week, where complaints were aired about Coyle’s schemes. They reportedly “begged” him to simplify his schemes; coincidentally (or not), Coyle has said this week that the schemes may be simplified.

The broader message, then, is that if Philbin goes, offensive coordinator Bill Lazor becomes far more likely than Coyle to get the whistle. Or maybe a non-coordinator will inherit the job.

It’s also possible — but highly unlikely — that Philbin would hire someone from the outside to take over. Apart from the logistical issues (for example, the Rooney Rule would have to be satisfied for an in-season hire from outside the team), good luck persuading someone currently out of coaching to come in and clean up a mess on the fly.

Mike Shanahan seems to be very interested in getting back in, but it’s hard to imagine Shanahan or anyone else accepting the ultimate change-a-tire-on-a-moving-car challenge.

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Josh Freeman’s FXFL debut confirms what NFL teams already knew

Josh Freeman AP

Unlike failed 2010 first-round quarterback Tim Tebow, failed 2009 first-round quarterback Josh Freeman is willing to play football wherever he can. But Freeman’s debut for the FXFL may have vindicated Tebow’s approach.

Tim Casey of the New York Times (as noted on Twitter by Adam Schefter of ESPN) reports that Freeman had a rough game with the Brooklyn Bolts of the Fall Experimental Football League. It’s a three-franchise operation, and on Sunday night the Bolts hosted the Florida Blacktips, a team that per Casey has no set roster and will have no home games.

The Blacktips’ roster on Friday night featured only two players with NFL experience, but the man who made 60 NFL regular-season starts completed nine of 16 passes for 32 yards, a touchdown and an interception, and five fumbles. While that technically may qualify him to start for the 49ers in their rematch with the Cardinals, as a practical matter it does nothing to attract any NFL team to give him yet another last chance to show that he recapture his long-lost football form.

It’s possible that Freeman had protection problems or other factors that weren’t in his control. But no excuses were offered for Freeman’s inability to compete against players with no ability to compete in the NFL.

Freeman stiff-armed reporters after the game. Coach Terry Shea had this to say on Freeman’s behalf: “I’ve got to think that this was maybe just one of those nights where a perfect storm came together for him. It really controlled him.”

Before the game, Freeman spoke via telephone to Casey.

“I just wanted to keep playing football in any capacity and continue to stay sharp,” Freeman said Thursday. “Stepping in the huddle and calling plays and that whole procedure and process, maintaining my routine that comes along with being in season, I think it gives me a better shot to perform at my highest level if a team does call me up.”

It’s the right approach, as long as the player doesn’t get the wrong results. Ultimately, it’s better to have no film than bad film, and it’s hard to imagine Freeman having anything but bad film from his FXFL debut.

His best hope at this point may be that the fly-by-night league couldn’t afford cameras to record the game.

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Report: Andrew Luck threw yesterday, no shoulder damage

Andrew Luck AP

Colts quarterback Andrew Luck is questionable for today with a shoulder injury, but the news this morning is encouraging.

Luck was able to throw on Saturday in a session with only the Colts’ coaching staff present, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports. The Colts’ medical staff also did tests on Luck’s shoulder and found no structural damage. Luck wants to play.

If Luck can’t go today, the Colts would start Matt Hasselbeck and use the recently signed Josh Johnson as the backup. The decision to sign Johnson this week suggests that there’s a real chance that Luck won’t be able to go.

But his ability to throw yesterday is a reason for optimism. We’ll know for sure in four hours when we see if Luck’s name is on the inactive list for the Jaguars-Colts game.

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Mike Mitchell shrugs at making Steve Smith’s “hit list”

Torrey Smith, Mike Mitchell AP

After supposedly taking a helmet to the back from former Panthers teammate Mike Mitchell, Ravens receiver Steve Smith said that Mitchell, now with the Steelers, has landed on Smith’s “lifetime hit list.”

Mitchell says he’s not concerned.

It is something that he tries to use to fuel himself,” Mitchell said Friday, via Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “It isn’t even something I concern myself with. I didn’t think of anything when I heard about it, and I don’t think anything about it now. I am going to continue on and play football.”

Mitchell also pointed out something that the replays of hit that injured Smith’s back confirm: Mitchell didn’t hit Smith.

“If you look at my fine history, I am more of a helmet-to-helmet kind of guy,” Mitchell said, sarcastically. “I am not going to spear you. I wasn’t even involved in the play.”

Smith nevertheless insists that Mitchell hit him, and that Mitchell said after it, “How do you like that?”

To anyone who thinks they can persuade Smith otherwise, we say, “Good luck with that.”

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Matthew Stafford’s wife responds to fans burning his jersey

DeMarcus Ware, Matthew Stafford AP

After Sunday night’s loss to the Broncos, a couple of Lions fans were seen attempting to set fire to a Matthew Stafford jersey. When the flames wouldn’t take, several Lions fans spit on it instead.

On Friday, Stafford’s wife responded to the indignity, which was captured on video.

“Although many in this city have already turned their back on the Lions and Matthew, we will never stop supporting Detroit,” Kelly Stafford said on Instagram, via “No matter how many #9 jerseys people burn or how many negative things people say about these players they will continue to fight for a championship for this city.”

It’s an admirable response to the behavior of a small handful of fans. The fact that a response of any kind was issued suggests that the taunts and insults struck the intended target.

With Matthew under contract through 2017, perhaps the next time he’s up for an extension he’ll decide not to sign one, and disgruntled Lions fans can then burn and/or spit on the jersey of Dan Orlovsky or whoever else the Lions can find to play quarterback in Detroit.

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Dwayne Bowe says, “It starts Sunday”

Dwayne Bowe AP

The Browns gave receiver Dwayne Bowe $9 million guaranteed in the offseason. To date, they’ve gotten nothing in return.

That could change on Sunday at San Diego.

It starts Sunday,” Bowe said, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “I can’t wait to go out there and showcase my talent and be a ringleader for the guys and go out there and bring home a win. That’s all I can ask for. If God’s capable of having me out there playing, that’s what I’m going to do.”

Officially, Bowe was a healthy scratch in Week Three against the Raiders. But he has been dealing with a hamstring problem. Unless he hasn’t been.

“I’ve never had a hamstring,” Bowe said. “I’ve never been really injured. It’s just playing it smart, man. What I showed [last week] wasn’t 100 percent. You got so much invested in somebody you want to make sure that guy can go out there and do his job and do it 100 percent. That’s what we’re working on.”

And then Bowe later contradicted himself when talking about the consensus that he had his best practice of the year on Wednesday.

“As time goes by the injury minimizes itself, so I feel like I’m almost back to where I need to be,” Bowe said. “They’re saying, ‘You’re looking back to where you were in camp.’ So I feel good about it and we’re going to go in with that.”

Bowe seemed to be surprised by speculation that he could eventually be out.

“People say that?” Bowe said. “I never even heard that. I know what goes on in this building. Those guys love me. They know I’m a great teammate, they know I’m a great player. I’m just trying to make plays. I’ve been doing it my whole career so that’s not going to change.”

He hasn’t made any plays yet this year, but he seems to think he will on Sunday.

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Ugly loss could indeed doom Philbin

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Last year, a blowout loss to the Dolphins in London got Raiders coach Dennis Allen fired. This year, if the Dolphins are on the other end of a similar outcome against the Jets in the same English stadium, Miami coach Joe Philbin could indeed be gone.

As Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reported earlier on Saturday, a blowout loss by the Dolphins to the Jets will indeed put Philbin’s job in grave danger. Per a source with knowledge of the situation, owner Stephen Ross’ high regard for Philbin could give him the benefit of the doubt. However, an ugly, embarrassing loss to the Jets could indeed spark a change.

For now, the Dolphins are focused on securing a victory over the Jets, which would make any talk of Philbin being fired moot — and which possibly would ensure that he’d finish out the season.

Also working in Philbin’s favor could be the absence of a clear in-house candidate to take over on an interim basis. Last year in Oakland, former Dolphins coach Tony Sparano was on Allen’s staff. Philbin has no assistant with head-coaching experience, and the two most obvious choices — offensive coordinator Bill Lazor and defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle — arguably are as much a part of the problem as Philbin.

For now, the Dolphins haven’t crossed that bridge. In large part because they may not have to. With Jets-Dolphins kicking off at 9:30 a.m. ET, everyone will have a better feel for the situation by the time the 1:00 p.m. ET games begin.

If the Dolphins slide to 1-3 by getting tossed around in London like the Bills tossed them around in Miami, Ross will at least be tempted to do something. Whatever he chooses, Ross needs to realize that those four home games in the final five weeks of the season could be very sparsely attended if the Dolphins aren’t competing for a playoff berth.

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Pete Carroll calls Marshawn Lynch a game-time decision

Pete Carroll AP

Officially, Marshawn Lynch is questionable for Monday night’s game against the Lions with a hamstring injury. Unofficially, he’s 40-60 to play. As a practical matter, Lynch’s availability will be determined not long before kickoff.

“We won’t know all the way until game time,” coach Pete Carroll told reporters on Saturday.

Lynch hasn’t practiced this week, but Carroll seemed to suggest that this wouldn’t keep Lynch from playing.

“We would go with him if he can make it, if he can pop out of it, then we would go with him,” Carroll said. “Just based on that he’s had other weeks when he wasn’t able to practice and played very well. But we’ll have to wait and see.”

They won’t have to wait and see regarding the outcome of the MRI on Lynch’s hamstring. Actually, it sounds like Lynch has had multiple MRIs on the hamstring, even though he wasn’t listed as having a hamstring injury before the Week Three game against the Bears.

“He’s had one last week and nothing showed up, and then after the game he aggravated his hamstring in a different area than anything that he had felt the week before,” Carroll said. “It happened on that play when he caught the ball on fourth down. So we checked it out and there were some findings. So he’s been working hard at trying to get back, he’s done a really diligent job of rehab, and so we’ll see what happens.”

So it sounds like Lynch has had a hamstring problem for more than a week, that the Seahawks hadn’t disclosed it before the Bears game, and that the MRI conducted after the Bears game revealed damage of some sort.

So, basically, there’s a good chance it will be the Fred Jackson and Thomas Rawls show on Monday night.

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With Pat O’Donnell injured, Bears add a punter

Cleveland Browns v Pittsburgh Steelers Getty Images

Bears punter Pat O’Donnell got a hell of a workout on Sunday against the Seahawks, given that the Bears punted on every drive of the game.

O’Donnell emerged with a right knee injury. He’s officially questionable for the game, and the Bears have signed punter Spencer Lanning for Sunday’s game against the Raiders.

To create room for Lanning, the Bears waived defensive tackle Brandon Dunn.

Lanning punted for two years with the Browns. He’s perhaps best known for taking Antonio Brown’s foot to his face in Week One of the 2014 season.

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Harbaugh: Ravens have ruled out Steve Smith for Week Five

Jim Harbaugh, John Harbaugh AP

Earlier on Saturday, the Ravens described receiver Steve Smith as “week to week.” Later in the day, coach John Harbaugh ruled Smith out for Week Five.

“I think he’s gonna be OK in the long run,” Harbaugh told CSN Mid-Atlantic from the Michigan-Maryland game. “He’s got some small microfractures in his back from what I’ve been told. They’ve ruled him out for the Cleveland game, but after that I think we’ve got some hope that he’s gonna be back.”

That’s a lot more information than the team released, and it provides some short-term clarity as to Smith’s situation. Specifically, he won’t be playing against the Browns in Week Five.

Harbaugh also called the breaks in the back “microfractures,” which sounds less ominous than the reports that previously surfaced. Still, a fracture is a fracture and Smith has plural — fractures — so it’s no surprise he’ll miss at least one game.

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