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McCarron says health, not hubris, led him to skip Senior Bowl

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Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron wouldn’t have been the first player to skip the Senior Bowl because they didn’t think they needed it.

But McCarron said Tuesday night that medical concerns, rather than a belief he’s a top-20 pick, was the reason he skipped the college all-star game in his hometown of Mobile, Ala.

It’s always been a dream of mine to play in the Senior Bowl in my hometown,” McCarron said, via Randy Kennedy of al.com. “But my body was banged up during the year. I wanted to push through it and finish out the year for my teammates.

“When it came time to decide, I asked the advice of our team doctors, who are some of the best in the country. They said I should stay out of the game and get my body back to 100 percent healthy.”

For one thing, if the guy who is dating a famous attractive person dreams at night of playing in a meaningless game at Ladd Peebles Stadium, well then no one should question his dedication to the game.

The bigger question might then become which of these injuries are red flags of a different nature.

McCarron nursed a toe injury throughout the season, which required a minor procedure the week after the Sugar Bowl loss to Oklahoma.

He also had a sore shoulder, the result of a dive for the end zone, and admitted arm fatigue since the middle of the season.

“I jammed my shoulder when I was diving for the pylon against Tennessee,” he said. “Structurally, there was never anything wrong, but since then I’ve been fighting a sore shoulder that just got more tired each week.”

He doesn’t need surgery for that problem, and said he was cleared Tuesday for the first time since the end of the season.

“My shoulder feels better than it ever has now,” he said. “I’ve been working on my throwing mechanics and my arm is going to be stronger than it’s ever been.”

If he chooses, he can display that arm strength next month at the Combine, provided he feels sufficiently healthy for that high honor.

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Brady, Gronk, Revis likely won’t last long on Sunday

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Patriots coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady both said this week that they take Sunday’s regular-season finale seriously, even though they’ve already clinched home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. But the reality is that the Patriots likely won’t approach this game like any other regular-season game.

Instead, top players like Brady, Rob Gronkowski and Darrelle Revis are likely to start but get pulled early to avoid risking an injury.

That’s the word from the Patriots’ website, which notes that Belichick’s usual approach is to play the starters just long enough so they don’t get rusty, but then pull them fairly early in the game.

Belichick did famously keep playing his starters into Week 17 in 2007, when the Patriots were en route to the only 16-0 regular season in NFL history. But without a historical accomplishment like that on the line, it seems unlikely that Belichick would want to leave Brady and Co. on the field for long. The Patriots know first hand that a Week 17 injury can be costly, as Wes Welker suffered a torn ACL in Week 17 of the 2009 season.

So expect to see Brady throwing to Gronkowski early in the game on Sunday. But not after halftime.

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League has no comment on report of Casserly contacting Jets candidates

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On the surface, the report from NJ.com that former NFL G.M. Charley Casserly has begun contacting potential coaching and G.M. candidates for the Jets seems reasonable and expected.  At a deeper level, the report (if true) creates potential problems.

If Casserly is indeed contacting candidates currently under contract with other teams, he’s engaging in tampering.  The potential violation becomes more glaring in light of the fact that he currently works for the NFL, through its in-house media conglomerate.

The league has no comment on the situation.  One league source with knowledge of Casserly’s efforts tells PFT that he’s making calls about candidates, but that Casserly is not directly contacting candidates.

What makes the situation a bit more complicated is the report from the New York Daily News that Casserly has been doing background work on candidates in connection with his role as a member of the NFL’s Career Development Advisory Panel.  That connection makes Casserly more attractive to the Jets as a potential consultant, because he’s in position to provide much more meaningful input given his role on the panel that identifies the best candidates for the looming wave of vacancies.

Whether individual teams should be in position to purchase the information and access obtained by members of the advisory panel by hiring them as consultants is a philosophical question the league needs to address, if it so chooses.  For now, Jets owner Woody Johnson’s decision to retain a consultant who is in a unique position to provide consultation is one of the smartest moves Johnson has made in a long time.

Then again, when it comes to smart moves made by Johnson, the bar is pretty low.

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Watt could be first defensive player since 2008 to get an MVP vote

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Texans defensive end J.J. Watt probably won’t win the Most Valuable Player award. But if he even gets a vote, he’ll be doing something rare for a defensive player.

The league MVP award is voted upon by 50 members of the media, chosen by the Associated Press. And those 50 members of the media almost never vote for a defensive player.

In fact, no defensive player has received even one MVP vote since 2008, when James Harrison of the Steelers got three votes. Here’s how the MVP votes have broken down this century, with the AP sometimes having fewer than 50 voters and some voters occasionally splitting their votes between two candidates:

2013: Peyton Manning 49, Tom Brady 1
2012: Adrian Peterson 30.5, Peyton Manning 19.5
2011: Aaron Rodgers 48, Drew Brees 2
2010: Tom Brady 50
2009: Peyton Manning 39.5, Drew Brees 7.5, Philip Rivers 2, Brett Favre 1
2008: Peyton Manning, 32, Chad Pennington 4, Michael Turner 4, Adrian Peterson 3, James Harrison 3, Philip Rivers 2, Chris Johnson 1, Kurt Warner 1
2007: Tom Brady 49, Brett Favre 1
2006: LaDainain Tomlinson 44, Drew Brees 4, Peyton Manning 2
2005: Shaun Alexander 19, Peyton Manning 13, Tom Brady 10, Tiki Barber 6, Carson Palmer 2
2004: Peyton Manning 47, Michael Vick 1
2003: Peyton Manning 16, Steve McNair 16, Tom Brady 8, Jamal Lewis 5, Priest Holmes 3, Ray Lewis 2
2002: Rich Gannon 19, Brett Favre 15, Steve McNair 11, Priest Holmes 1, Derrick Brooks 1, Michael Vick 1
2001: Kurt Warner 21.5, Marshall Faulk 17.5 votes, Brett Favre 5, Kordell Stewart 4, Brian Urlacher 2
2000: Marshall Faulk 24, Donovan McNabb 11, Eddie George 8, Rich Gannon 5, Peyton Manning 1, Ray Lewis 1

As you can see, it’s virtually impossible for a defensive player to win the MVP award, or even to come close: Only Harrison, Ray Lewis, Derrick Brooks and Brian Urlacher have received any votes at all, and they were distant also-rans.

If Watt gets four MVP votes this year, he’ll have the most of any defensive player in the 21st century. That’s a major accomplishment. Just not an accomplishment that comes with a trophy he can put on his mantle.

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Full-blown Bears house-cleaning could be coming

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Bears quarterback Jay Cutler’s predictions regarding the team’s future could end up being a lot more accurate than many of his passes this year.

Cutler recently acknowledged that “everyone could get axed.”  There’s chatter in league circles that that could indeed be the case.

By “everyone,” the scuttlebutt includes everyone.  From coach Marc Trestman to G.M. Phil Emery to team president Ted Phillips, who has held the position for nearly 16 years.

Cutler could still stay, depending on who gets the coaching job going forward.  With Mike Shanahan, who traded up to draft Cutler nearly nine years ago, making it clear that he wants to get back into the NFL, Shanahan becomes the obvious pick to try to turn Cutler around — if ownership decides not to bite the bullet on the millions still owed to Cutler under the contract negotiated by Emery or to give Cutler away to another team to avoid paying the money.

Regardless, big changes could be coming in Chicago after one of the worst seasons the franchise has endured.

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Harbaugh, 49ers move closer to divorce

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Soon after the season ends, the 49ers and coach Jim Harbaugh are destined to be no longer engaged in an employer-employee relationship.  To his credit, Harbaugh isn’t telling any untruths or half-truths about the future.  To their blame, the 49ers continue to allow the clear and unmistakable impression to exist that Harbaugh’s days can be counted.

Presently, they can be counted on the hand of a guy who has lost two or three fingers to a table saw and/or cherry bomb.

Instead of a Saban-style denial, Harbaugh reiterated a Dr. Seuss-style saying on Friday when asked again about the immediate future.

“What will happen, will happen,” Harbaugh told reporters.  “What will not happen, won’t happen.”

No one quite knows exactly what will happen.  While many in the media have reported/predicted that Harbaugh will be traded, we’ve mentioned once or twice (or more often) that the logistics require a level of patience and planning in which the two sides may not be willing to engage.  The details make a trade highly unlikely, which in turn makes that pair of third-round picks that the 49ers would have gotten from Cleveland in February as a practical matter unavailable.

Whatever the reason(s) for the coming split, it’s unprecedented to see a coach who had so much success right out of the gates leave a team so quickly.  Maybe a book eventually be written on what actually happened; maybe volumes can be penned from each of the many perspectives.  Maybe the disappointment of getting so close to a sixth Super Bowl win in three straight years created a level of angst that eroded the relationship.

Or maybe the 49ers didn’t want to accept the fact that most coaches can be hard to work with at times, and that organizations capable of realizing they have an excellent head coach will find a way to work around the edges of a unique personality that drives a man to make coaching football at the highest level a 365-day passion.

Or maybe it’s the money.  Harbaugh has wanted to push a sluggish market toward $10 million per year.  The 49ers privately have dismissed his demands by saying he wants to be paid like a Super Bowl-winning coach without winning a Super Bowl.  Perhaps it’s time for Super Bowl-winning coaches — and close-to-Super-Bowl-winning coaches — to be paid a lot more.

For everyone else connected to the NFL, their compensation has continued to move upward and upward, every year.  For head coaches, it hasn’t moved much at all in the last decade.  Harbaugh tried to buck that, and now he’ll be looking elsewhere for the payday he wasn’t able to obtain from the 49ers.

If the unwillingness to increase head-coaching compensation in a way that reflects the overall growth of revenues, profits, and franchise values applies universally across the league, maybe the only way to get the kind of money Harbaugh deserves will be to accept the reported $8 million per year from Michigan.

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Jason Pierre-Paul: “I think I am worth a lot of money” in free agency

Jason Pierre-Paul AP

Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul is set to become a free agent in March, and he’s planning to cash in.

“I think I am worth a lot of money,” Pierre-Paul told ESPN.

Pierre-Paul has started all 15 games and recorded 10.5 sacks this season, and he believes that either the Giants or some other team will be willing to pay handsomely for that kind of production.

“I don’t know what my future holds,” Pierre-Paul said. “Who knows if I am going to be in a Giant uniform, who knows where I am going to be in the offseason. Like I said, now, the numbers are there, I had a great season, and everybody sees it. There really is nothing else to say, just negotiations and it is coming.”

Pierre-Paul says he’d like to stay with the Giants, but it’s a business decision. He’ll pick the team that’s best for his bottom line.

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Report: Casserly contacting candidates to be Jets’ GM, coach

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Charley Casserly, the former Redskins and Texans general manager who’s now working as a consultant for Jets owner Woody Johnson, is already contacting candidates to be the Jets’ next head coach and next General Manager.

That’s the word from Dom Cosentino of NJ.com, who reports that the Jets are moving quickly on the idea that head coach Rex Ryan and General Manager John Idzik both figure to be fired after Sunday’s season finale.

Ryan hasn’t been told he’s fired, but that move is so clearly coming that Ryan has already reportedly cleared out his office. Idzik’s firing hasn’t been seen as quite the sure thing that Ryan’s is, but given the lack of talent on the roster, and particularly Idzik’s inability to find a franchise quarterback, it’s easy to see why Idzik would get the boot as well.

Big changes are needed with the Jets. It appears that Johnson will begin making those changes within the next 48 hours.

UPDATE 11:40 a.m. ET:  The league has no comment on the possibility that, if the report is correct, Casserly and the Jets are violating the league’s tampering rules.

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Chargers worked out Austin Pettis

Austin Pettis AP

The Chargers reportedly took a late-season look at a notable free agent wide receiver.

According to ESPN’s Adam Caplan, the Chargers put former Rams receiver Austin Pettis through a workout on Wednesday. He remains unsigned.

The Chargers could be down a key receiver for the regular-season finale at Kansas City, with second-year pro Keenan Allen doubtful with ankle and shoulder injuries.

The 26-year-old Pettis caught 107 passes for 1,034 yards with nine touchdowns in four seasons with the Rams, who released him in October. In November, he worked out for the Seahawks, Caplan reported. He also got an audition with the Panthers.

NFL teams can start signing free agents to 2015 offseason rosters beginning on Monday.

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Report: Michigan, Jim Harbaugh to talk

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With the 49ers’ season ending in less than 48 hours, potential suitors for head coach Jim Harbaugh are reportedly getting close to officially turning over their cards.

According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Media, the University of Michigan plans to soon talk with Harbaugh. Rapoport and Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports both report Michigan officials are in the San Francisco Bay Area this weekend. The 49ers (7-8) host the Cardinals at 4:25 p.m. ET on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.

According to Rapoport, Harbaugh will attend to his 49ers business before any discussion with interested parties. And the Raiders, Rapoport indicated, are also interested in Harbaugh. However, the Raiders would need permission to speak to Harbaugh, who has one year left on his contract with San Francisco.

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Report: Chargers expected to place P Mike Scifres on IR

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Mike Scifres‘ season could be at an end.

The Chargers are expected to put Scifres, their long-time punter, on injured reserve, Alex Marvez of FoxSports.com reported Friday evening.

Regarded as one of the game’s top punters, Scifres suffered a broken clavicle in the Chargers’ December 7 loss to New England. Mat McBriar has filled in for Scifres for San Diego (9-6), which can clinch a wild-card spot with a victory Sunday at Kansas City.

According to Marvez, the Chargers are in need of center depth, and the club doesn’t intend to place tailback Ryan Mathews (ankle) or wideout Keenan Allen (ankle/shoulder) on injured reserve. Mathews has been ruled out for Sunday’s game, while Allen is doubtful. The Chargers’ current starting center, Chris Watt, is questionable with an ankle injury.

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Russell Okung cleared to play from bruised lung, Max Unger a game-time decision

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Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said Friday that left tackle Russell Okung has been cleared to play after suffering a bruised lung two weeks ago against the San Francisco 49ers.

Center Max Unger will be a game-time decision for Sunday’s regular season finale against the St. Louis Rams.

Okung had to be taken to the hospital for evaluation following a block from former 49ers defensive end Ray McDonald on an interception return at the end of the first half of Seattle’s 17-7 win. Okung missed last week’s game against the Arizona Cardinals but practiced all week and appears ready to return to the lineup.

“Russell had a full week and he’s been cleared to play so Russell is in good shape,” Carroll said.

Unger has missed the last five games after suffering a high-ankle sprain against the Kansas City Chiefs. Unger returned to practice on Dec. 12, but had a setback and did not practice at all last week. He worked in consecutive practices this week for the first time since being injured.

“Max made it through (practice),” Carroll said. “We’ll see how it goes. We’ll take it one day at a time.”

Unger has appeared in just six games this season as he was previously sidelined for four games with a sprained foot in October. However, Carroll said it’s not a priority for them to get Unger any game snaps before the start of the playoffs.

“That’s not a consideration,” Carroll said. “We’re trying to win a game.”

Wide receiver Jermaine Kearse (hamstring) and defensive end Demarcus Dobbs (ankle) have both been officially ruled out. Receiver Chris Matthews returned to practice after missing last week with a hamstring injury of his own. Carroll said he’ll be a game-time decision and is listed as questionable.

Tight ends Cooper Helfet (ribs) and Tony Moeaki (shoulder) are both “banged up” but were able to practice on Friday. Moeaki is probable while Helfet is listed as questionable.

Cornerback Tharold Simon is also questionable after suffering a shoulder injury last week against Arizona.

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Saints place Pierre Thomas, Akiem Hicks on IR

Pierre Thomas AP

The Saints placed tailback Pierre Thomas and defensive end Akiem Hicks on injured reserve on Friday. To fill the open roster spots, club promoted rookie wide receiver Brandon Coleman and second-year linebacker Jerry Franklin from the practice squad.

The moves were disclosed in the league’s daily personnel report.

Neither Thomas nor Hicks were on the Week 17 injury report, but both have dealt ailments in recent weeks, with Thomas enduring rib/shoulder injuries and Hicks having an ankle injury.

The 30-year-old Thomas caught 45 passes for 378 yards and one TD in 11 games for New Orleans. He also rushed 46 times for 222 yards and a pair of scores.

Hicks, 25, started 14-of-15 games this season, notching 42 tackles and two sacks.

The 22-year-old Coleman played collegiately at Rutgers. At 6-foot-6 and 225 pounds, Coleman has excellent size for the position.

Franklin, 26, played in seven games for Kansas City earlier this season. The Arkansas product has made 20 regular season appearances, with the other 13 coming with Chicago in 2012 and 2013.

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Justin Gilbert vows to be great after work ethic is questioned

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Browns rookie cornerback Justin Gilbert has taken criticism from coaches and teammates who question whether he has worked hard enough this year. And Gilbert, the eighth overall pick in the draft, promises he’s going to prove anyone who doubts him wrong.

I will be great,” Gilbert said, via ESPN.

Gilbert hasn’t been great so far this season, and veteran teammates including safety Donte Whitner and linebacker Karlos Dansby have complained that Gilbert doesn’t prepare like a pro. Gilbert didn’t seem to appreciate that, saying that Whitner is “the guy who’s always just talking” and that the public criticisms are things his teammates “could have been kept to themselves.”

Still, Gilbert acknowledges that his teammates may have had a point.

“I’m not mad at anyone about it,” Gilbert said. “I brought it upon myself. I can take that and roll with it. I messed up. But I can promise my teammates I’m going to make it right.”

It’s too late for Gilbert to make it right this year. But the Browns need Gilbert to play a lot better next year.

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Seahawks waive Travian Robertson

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The Seahawks opened a roster spot Friday, waiving defensive tackle Travian Robertson, the club said.

A third-year pro from South Carolina, Robertson appeared in one game for the Seahawks after joining the club on November 18. The 26-year-old Robertson also appeared in 12 games as a reserve for Atlanta (2012-2013).

The Seahawks didn’t announce a corresponding move, leaving them one player under the limit.

The Seahawks have ruled out defensive end Demarcus Dobbs (ankle) and wideout Jermaine Kearse (hamstring) for Sunday’s game vs. St. Louis.  Cornerback Tharold Simon (shoulder), center Max Unger (knee, ankle), wideout Chris Matthews (hamstring) and tight end Cooper Helfet (ribs) are questionable for Seattle (11-4), which can clinch homefield advantage throughout the NFC playoffs with a win over the Rams.

UPDATE 11:19 p.m. ET: Curtis Crabtree of PFT and KJR Sports Radio in Seattle advises the Seahawks will not fill the open roster spot for the time being.

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Week 17 injury report roundup

Alex Smith, Cameron Heyward, Jason Worilds AP

Over the course of the week, there are a lot of posts about the most prominent injured players but we know that you might not see all of them and that some others may fall through the cracks. As a result, we’ll comb through all the injury reports every Friday afternoon so that there’s one stop for all the news from every team playing on Saturday and Sunday. So, without further delay, the injury report roundup for Week 17 of the 2014 season.

Browns at Ravens

Connor Shaw starts at quarterback for the Browns with Brian Hoyer (shoulder/bicep) doubtful to play. Cornerback Joe Haden (shoulder) and defensive tackle Desmond Bryant (thumb) are questionable and defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin (ankle) won’t play. The Ravens probably won’t have left tackle Eugene Monroe (ankle, questionable). Defensive end Chris Canty (ankle/thigh) and linebacker Terrell Suggs (back/thigh) are both questionable.

Jaguars at Texans

It looks like Jaguars defensive tackle Roy Miller (knee) will miss the season finale after being listed as doubtful. Tight end Garrett Graham (ankle), linebacker Mike Mohamed (concussion), wide receiver DeVier Posey (calf) and quarterback Tom Savage (knee) are all out for the Texans.

Chargers at Chiefs

The Chargers are in the playoffs with a win, but they’ll have to do it without running back Ryan Mathews (ankle, out). Wide receiver Keenan Allen (collarbone) is also likely to miss the game after being listed as doubtful. Center Chris Watt (ankle) is questionable. The Chiefs have their own small chance at a playoff bid, although it won’t be easy to get there without quarterback Alex Smith (lacerated spleen). Running back Jamaal Charles (hamstring/ankle) and wide receiver Dwayne Bowe (shoulder) are both questionable, but expected to be in the lineup.

Jets at Dolphins

An illness has made its way through the Jets this week and left defensive tackle Damon Harrison, safety Dawan Landry and defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson, who also has a toe injury, questionable to play on Sunday. Center Nick Mangold (ankle) and wide receiver Percy Harvin (ribs, ankle) are also questionable. Defensive end Derrick Shelby (ankle), linebacker Jelani Jenkins (foot) and tackle Dallas Thomas (foot) are questionable for the Dolphins.

Bears at Vikings

Quarterback Jimmy Clausen (concussion) is out, which means Jay Cutler is back in charge of the Bears Offense. Safety Chris Conte (back) and kicker Robbie Gould (quad) are also out while defensive end Jared Allen (ribs) and defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff (knee) are questionable. Vikings linebackers Anthony Barr (knee) and Brandon Watts (hamstring) are out and Chad Greenway (knee) is questionable after missing practice all week. Tight end Kyle Rudolph (ankle) is also questionable.

Bills at Patriots

The Bills have been stout on defense all year, but they don’t expect to have defensive tackle Marcell Dareus (knee) or cornerback Stephon Gilmore (concussion) after listing them as doubtful. Running back Jonas Gray (ankle) and cornerback Alfonzo Dennard (hamstring) are out for New England and right tackle Sebastian Vollmer (back) is questionable.

Eagles at Giants

Cornerback Bradley Fletcher (hip) was in danger of losing playing time even before the Eagles listed him as questionable. Giants linebacker Devon Kennard (toe) will miss the final game of a rookie year that saw him come on late and rookie running back Andre Williams (shoulder) is questionable.

Saints at Buccaneers

Saints left tackle Terron Armstead (neck) remains out of the lineup and defensive tackle John Jenkins (abdomen) is questionable. Buccaneers LB Mason Foster (Achilles) is doubtful and safety Dashon Goldson (shoulder) is questionable.

Colts at Titans

The Colts ruled out tight end Dwayne Allen (knee), right tackle Gosder Cherilus (groin) and linebacker Bjoern Werner (hamstring). Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (hamstring) and linebacker Jerrell Freeman (hamstring) were both listed as questionable and guard Hugh Thornton (knee) is probable to make his return to the lineup. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger (shoulder), left tackle Taylor Lewan (ankle), defensive tackle Sammie Hill (foot) and linebacker Kamerion Wimbley (hamstring) are all questionable for the home side.

Cowboys at Redskins

Running back DeMarco Murray (hand, illness) is probable to play in a game that could see him set the single-season Cowboys rushing record. Right tackle Doug Free (ankle) is doubtful and linebacker Dekoda Watson (hamstring) is out. Redskins defensive end Jason Hatcher (knee) is doubtful for the matchup with his old team. Left tackle Trent Williams (shoulder), defensive end Stephen Bowen (ankle/illness) and linebacker Keenan Robinson (knee) are listed as questionable.

Panthers at Falcons

The Panthers have just two injuries heading into the NFC South title game. Linebacker A.J. Klein (ankle) is questionable and running back DeAngelo Williams (hand) is probable. Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (oblique) and running back Steven Jackson (thigh) are questionable, but Jackson looks unlikely to play. Cornerbacks Robert McClain (illness) and Josh Wilson (hamstring) are also questionable for Atlanta.

Raiders at Broncos

The Raiders listed rookie linebacker Khalil Mack (hamstring), tackle Menelik Watson (foot, ankle) and cornerback T.J. Carrie (ankle) as questionable. Cornerback Chimdi Chekwa (hamstring) and wide receiver Denarius Moore (knee, ankle) are out. Linebacker Brandon Marshall (knee) is out for Denver while safety T.J. Ward (neck) and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (hip) are questionable. Quarterback Peyton Manning (thigh) is probable.

Lions at Packers

Running back Joique Bell (Achilles) and wide receiver Calving Johnson (ankle) are probable for the Lions. Everyone else is available for the Lions except for defensive tackle Nick Fairley (knee). Quarterback Aaron Rodgers (calf) is good to go for the Packers, who have again ruled out cornerback Davon House (shoulder).

Rams at Seahawks

Cornerback E.J. Gaines (concussion) is doubtful for the Rams, who are in good health otherwise. The Seahawks ruled out wide receiver Jermaine Kearse (hamstring), but left tackle Russell Okung (chest) is expected to play after being listed as probable. Tight end Cooper Helfet (ribs), wide receiver Chris Matthews (hamstring), cornerback Tharold Simon (shoulder) and center Max Unger (knee, ankle) are questionable.

Cardinals at 49ers

Quarterback Drew Stanton (knee) won’t play for Arizona, leaving Ryan Lindley to start for the second straight week. Linebacker Larry Foote (knee) is doubtful and safety Deone Bucannon (knee), tight end John Carlson (calf), guard Jonathan Cooper (wrist) and defensive tackle Dan Williams are questionable. Running back Carlos Hyde (ankle), wide receiver Stevie Johnson (knee) and safety Eric Reid (concussion) have been ruled out for the 49ers. Cornerback Tramaine Brock (hamstring), linebacker Ahmad Brooks (thumb), cornerback Perrish Cox (shoulder) and wide receiver Bruce Ellington (hamstring) have been listed as questionable.

Bengals at Steelers

The Bengals listed wide receiver A.J. Green (biceps) as probable for the AFC North title decider. Cornerback Adam Jones (illness), linebacker Emmanuel Lamur (hamstring), cornerback Chris Lewis-Harris (illness), safety Reggie Nelson (illness), cornerback Terence Newman (illness) and wide receiver James Wright (knee) will all be weekend calls after drawing questionable tags. The Steelers hope to get safety Troy Polamalu (knee) and cornerback Ike Taylor (shoulder, forearm) back in the secondary after listing them as questionable.

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