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Peyton Manning: “I certainly want to continue to keep playing”

Super Bowl Football AP

For the first time all Super Bowl week — and surely not the last time — Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning was asked Sunday about his future beyond the upcoming NFL title game against the Seahawks.

Manning smiled as he was asked if he had considered whether Super Bowl XLVIII could be the end of the line for him — and whether a victory would be an ideal way to go out on top.

Here was Manning’s response:

“Well, I know there’s a number of players that have walked away as champions, and I’m sure that’s a great feeling for those people. John Elway, Ray Lewis did it last year, Michael Strahan.

“In talking to Ray Lewis and in talking to John Elway, they couldn’t play anymore. That was all they had to give. They truly left it all out there.

“I certainly had a career change two years ago with my injury, with changing teams, and so I truly have been kind of a one-year-at-a-time basis. So I really have no plans beyond this game, had no plans coming into this season beyond this year. I think that’s the healthy way to approach kind of your career at this stage.

“I still enjoy playing football. I feel a little better than I thought I would at this point coming off that surgery. I still enjoy the preparation part of it, the work part of it. Everybody enjoys the games, everybody’s going to be excited to play in a Super Bowl, but I think when you still enjoy the preparation and the work part of it, I think you probably still ought to be doing that.

“I think as soon as I stop enjoying it, if I can’t produce, if I can’t help the team, that’s when I’ll stop playing. If that’s next year, maybe it is. But I certainly want to continue to keep playing.”

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Report: Vikings general counsel has been working against Peterson

Warren Getty Images

So who was Vikings running back Adrian Peterson referring to when he said that someone with the organization didn’t support him?

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, Peterson was referring to Vikings general counsel Kevin Warren.  Schefter also reports that Warren and the NFL have been working together to ensure that Peterson doesn’t play this season.

That fits squarely with our (or at least my) strong belief that someone decided back in the middle of September that Peterson wouldn’t play again this year, and that every decision, breached agreement, and/or misapplied policy has been aimed at keeping Peterson from playing this year.

“I know there’s people in the organization that support me and there’s people that I know internally that has not been supporting me,” Peterson told USA Today recently, without naming names.

A request for comment has been sent by PFT to the Vikings, but they’re less than 40 minutes from kickoff against the Packers.

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Matt Kalil, Greg Jennings active for Vikings

Minnesota Vikings v Green Bay Packers Getty Images

Of the four Vikings listed as questionable for Sunday’s game vs. Green Bay, three will suit up.

Wide receiver Greg Jennings (rib), left tackle Matt Kalil (knee) and wide receiver Jarius Wright (hamstring) are not among the club’s inactives for Week 12. Also active is newly acquired tailback Ben Tate, who figures to play behind rookie Jerick McKinnon.

However, while Jennings, Kalil and Wright will play, defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd (knee) is inactive. He was questionable after missing Thursday and Friday.

The Vikings’ other inactives are tailback Matt Asiata (concussion), fullback Zach Line, linebacker Mike Mauti, linebacker Brandon Watts, offensive guard Austin Wentworth and offensive guard David Yankey.

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Reggie Bush inactive, LeGarrette Blount active in New England

Miami Dolphins v Detroit Lions Getty Images

LeGarrette Blount was unhappy about being on the Steelers sideline less than a week ago.

Sunday will find him happier to be in a different but familiar uniform. The running back is active for the Patriots after signing up for a second tour of duty with the club on Thursday.

Blount joins last week’s rushing hero Jonas Gray, Shane Vereen, Brandon Bolden and James Develin in the backfield for the Patriots on Sunday with rookie James White on the inactive list. Coach Bill Belichick offered no hints about Blount’s potential role beyond saying that it is totally up to Blount.

While the Patriots get Blount back in the lineup this week, the Lions will have to wait a bit longer for Reggie Bush to return to their offense. He was listed as inactive for Sunday’s game, the second straight game he’s missed because of an ankle injury, and hopes to return for the Thanksgiving game against the Bears.

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Griffin could be benched today

Griffin Getty Images

With the handwriting etched into the wall by the repeated public remarks of coach Jay Gruden, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reports that Gruden is prepared to bench Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III, if Griffin continues his ineffective play on Sunday at San Francisco.

If benched, Griffin’s replacement would be Colt McCoy, who led the team to wins over the Titans and Cowboys while Griffin was recovering from a dislocated ankle.

Gruden’s brother, Jon, works for ESPN, making it tempting to connect the dots from Gruden to Gruden to Mortensen.

The coach has gone all in against Griffin this week, calling him out for calling out teammates and for having bad fundamentals in a post-bye week 20-point loss to Tampa Bay.  After a temporary backtracking, Gruden then told NFL Media (partially owned by owner Daniel Snyder) that the “clock’s ticking” on Griffin, who has been “coddled” in the past.

Like last season’s late-season dysfunction between Griffin and former coach Mike Shanahan, these developments suggest that player or coach won’t be back in 2015.  Silent amid the turmoil has been both G.M. Bruce Allen and owner Daniel Snyder.  How they feel about Griffin and Gruden will go a long way toward determining which guy will return in 2015.

Surely, they don’t believe that the two men will continue to be able to coexist after the coach has so publicly condemned a quarterback who already had a well-earned reputation for being sensitive to criticism.

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Week 12 early inactives

Indianapolis Colts v Pittsburgh Steelers Getty Images

Every week we’ll bring you all the inactives from the early games in one post, constantly updated with the latest information. So check back often to see the full list as it becomes available.

Browns at Falcons

Browns: TE Jordan Cameron, WR Marlon Moore, LB Karlos Dansby, WR Rodney Smith, CB Pierre Desir, DB Robert Nelson, OL Vinston Painter

Falcons: CB Robert Alford, T Jonathan Scott, QB Sean Renfree, LB Tyler Starr, T Cameron Bradfield, LB James Anderson, DT Cliff Matthews

Buccaneers at Bears

Buccaneers: LB Lavonte David, WR Robert Herron, RB Mike James, CB Crezdon Butler CB C.J. Wilson, T Kevin Pamphile, DE Da’Quan Bowers

Bears: DE Trevor Scott, WR Chris Williams, LB Darryl Sharpton, CB Terrance Mitchell, LB Khaseem Greene, OL Eben Britton, T Jordan Mills

Bengals at Texans

Bengals: LB Vontaze Burfict, DE Margus Hunt, WR Dane Sanzenbacher, RB Rex Burkhead, CB Chris Lewis-Harris, T Tanner Hawkinson, WR Greg Little

Texans: CB Kareem Jackson, RB Arian Foster, QB Tom Savage, WR DeVier Posey, LB Max Bullough, T Jeff Adams, DB Josh Aubrey

Jaguars at Colts

Jaguars: DE Andre Branch, LB Jeremiah George, WR Mike Brown, CB Teddy Williams, RB Storm Johnson, G Tyler Shatley, OT Sam Young

Colts: TE Dwayne Allen, T Gosder Cherilus, CB Greg Toler, OL Lance Louis, C Khaled Holmes, DT Kelcy Quarles, DT Zach Kerr

Packers at Vikings

Packers: TE Brandon Bostick, QB Scott Tolzien, CB Jarrett Bush, LB Nick Perry, LB Carl Bradford, C Garth Gerhart, WR Jeff Janis

Vikings: RB Matt Asiata, DT Sharrif Floyd, FB Zach Line, LB Mike Mauti, LB Brandon Watts, G David Yankey, G Austin Wentworth

Lions at Patriots

Lions: DT Nick Fairley, G Larry Warford, QB Kellen Moore, DE Larry Webster, RB Reggie Bush, TE Kellen Davis, WR Ryan Broyles

Patriots: DE Chandler Jones, T Cameron Fleming, RB James White, WR Aaron Dobson, CB Malcolm Butler, DL Dominique Easley, OL Jordan Devey

Titans at Eagles

Titans: QB Charlie Whitehurst, WR Kris Durham, CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson, DB Marqueston Huff, T Will Svitek, TE Richard Gordon, DE Ropati Pitoitua

Eagles: QB Nick Foles, CB Roc Carmichael, DB Jaylen Watkins, OL Julian Vandervelde, OL Dennis Kelly, WR Jeff Maehl, DL Taylor Hart

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Arian Foster inactive for second straight game for Texans

Arian Foster AP

If the Texans are going to continue their unlikely push for a playoff spot today, they’re going to have to do it without Arian Foster.

The running back won’t play today because of a groin injury, according to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle.

He did some work Wednesday but then sat out Thursday’s work, but coach Bill O’Brien said there was no setback.

Regardless the semantics, the Texans will rely on Alfred Blue today, as the coaches protect Foster for the long term. Blue has run well, and will get plenty of chances against a Bengals run defense which hasn’t been stellar.

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Reports: Lavonte David to sit out Sunday’s game at Chicago

Minnesota Vikings v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Getty Images

The Buccaneers will not have the NFL’s co-leader in tackles in the lineup at Chicago.

Weak-side linebacker Lavonte David won’t play in Sunday’s game vs. the Bears at Soldier Field, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reported this morning.

David sat out Thursday and Friday with a hamstring injury and was listed as questionable on the injury report. He shares the league lead in tackles with Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly (116).

Brandon Magee is listed as the top backup at weak-side linebacker on the club’s depth chart.

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Report: Larry Fitzgerald not expected to play on Sunday

St Louis Rams v Arizona Cardinals Getty Images

The Cardinals held out hope all week that wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald would be able to play against the Seahawks despite suffering a sprained MCL last weekend, but it doesn’t look like things will go that way.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that it “would take a miracle” for the veteran wideout to be in the lineup on Sunday afternoon. Fitzgerald did not practice at all this week, but said Thursday he was optimistic that he’d be able to play and that his knee was feeling better as the week went on.

Fitzgerald leads the Cardinals with 46 catches and 658 receiving yards this season. Michael Floyd and John Brown will likely start at receiver if he isn’t able to play and both are potent deep threats, but Fitzgerald’s absence underneath should lead to them getting more attention from the Seattle secondary.

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Josh Gordon avoids suspension for DUI guilty plea

Gordon Getty Images

With a 10-game suspension behind him, Browns receiver Josh Gordon officially doesn’t have to worry about another suspension in the wake of his DUI guilty plea.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Gordon was fined by the NFL and not suspended after pleading guilty to DUI charges in North Carolina.

Gordon pleaded guilty to the DUI charge in September, in order to avoid the automatic two-game suspension contemplated by the revised substance-abuse policy.  Under the prior substance-abuse policy, a suspension for a first-offense DUI was possible for players who had been disciplined under the policy.  Gordon had been disciplined under the policy multiple times, culminating in a full-season suspension that the new policy reduced to 10 games.

While Gordon remains subject to further action if he tests positive for alcohol, marijuana, or other street drugs, there will be no suspension arising from his DUI guilty plea.

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Sunday morning one-liners

Torrey Smith, Antwon Blake

Bills WR Robert Woods thinks the team needs to be aggressive on Monday night.

Are the Dolphins going to win 10 games this season?

Increased physicality has been part of the Patriots’ approach this season.

The Jets are happy with WR Percy Harvin’s immersion in the offense.

Ravens WR Torrey Smith isn’t sure why his jersey is a popular item for women in Washington D.C.

Bengals QB Andy Dalton is hoping for a happier return to his hometown this Sunday.

Browns RB Isaiah Crowell has to show he isn’t a fumbler.

Looking at what the Steelers need to do to make the playoffs.

What happens when Texans DE J.J. Watt meets a horse named J.J. Watt?

A few things to watch for when the Colts face the Jaguars.

Patience paid off for Jaguars RB Denard Robinson.

Where do the Titans have an edge on the Eagles on Sunday?

The Broncos hope they get their run game going again this week.

How much will Thursday’s loss cost the Chiefs?

Raiders RB Marcel Reece could be in line for more carries.

The Chargers have missed what RB Danny Woodhead brings to the lineup.

Cowboys WR Dez Bryant was handing out turkeys on Friday night.

A 3-7 record isn’t enough for Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul to count his team out.

How worried should the Eagles be about RB LeSean McCoy?

Redskins QB Robert Griffin III is one touchdown pass away from tying Jay Schroeder for 10th on the team’s all-time list.

Three necessities for the Bears if they want a win on Sunday.

The Lions carry the underdog label this weekend.

C Corey Linsley’s ascension to the Packers starting lineup didn’t come too early.

Vikings S Harrison Smith wants to make the Packers one-dimensional on offense.

DB Charles Godfrey has accepted a special teams role with the Falcons with enthusiasm.

Getting RB Mike Tolbert back changes the look of the Panthers Offense.

Saints CB Patrick Robinson’s confidence continues to grow.

Buccaneers WR Vincent Jackson could be a wanted man in the offseason.

A win on Sunday would silence a few more Cardinals doubters.

Rams QB Shaun Hill hopes to make it two straight wins this week.

DT Quinton Dial has been called into action on the 49ers defense.

Seahawks WR Paul Richardson hasn’t had the same impact as some other rookie receivers this season.

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Chargers promote offensive lineman with Rich Ohrnberger ailing

San Diego Chargers v Buffalo Bills Getty Images

The Chargers have started three different players at center this year and it looks like they’ll be making it four on Sunday.

Rich Ohrnberger is listed as questionable with ankle and back issues and the team made a roster move to shore up the offensive line on Saturday. Ryan Miller was promoted from the practice squad and Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego reports that rookie Chris Watt is expected to make his first start at center against the Rams with Ohrnberger landing on the inactive list.

Miller was a 2012 fifth-round pick of the Browns and saw limited playing time in Cleveland as a rookie. He suffered a concussion in training camp in 2013 that required him to be taken off the field in an ambulance and missed the entire season on injured reserve. He spent time with the Broncos this summer before finally landing on the San Diego practice squad.

Cornerback Richard Crawford was released to make room for Miller.

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Steelers essentially rewarded Blount for quitting on team

Blount Getty Images

Six days ago, running back LeGarrette Blount was preparing to face the Titans as a member of the Steelers.  Now, he’s preparing to face the Lions as a member of the Patriots.

The transition happened after Blount quit on the Steelers, was cut by the Steelers, passed through waivers unclaimed, and made a beeline for the Patriots.

Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette takes a great look at what transpired.  While there’s no evidence to suggest that Blount did what he did to engineer a return to the Patriots, the Steelers made it easy by giving Blount exactly what he apparently wanted.

Why not suspend him for a week or two without pay?  Why not deactivate him for a few weeks?  By cutting him, the Steelers gave Blount a chance to land with the team that currently has the inside track to do what it failed to do when he was a member of the Patriots in 2013 — get to the Super Bowl.

Whether it’s the Steelers cutting Blount or the Browns cutting Ben Tate, teams that abruptly dump unhappy players set a potentially dangerous precedent.  Other players who want out down the road may now try the same maneuver, which apparently requires something far less intricate than shirtless driveway situps.

At some point, a team needs to make it harder for a guy to get away to a preferred destination.  For the Steelers, they probably should have made it harder for Blount to get back to New England.

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Detroit gets another chance to welcome back Jim Schwartz

Schwartz AP

If former Lions coach Jim Schwartz had any idea he’d be playing another game in Detroit this year, he probably would have found a way to resist the urge to be carried off by players after the Bills won there in October.

Schwartz returns on Monday night to a free-ticket sellout crowd that may not be supporting the home-away-from-home team, given Schwartz’s employment by it.  Indeed, there’s a chance that a large chunk of the price-is-right-for-me crowd has opted to gobble up the free seats for no reason other than to heckle Schwartz into oblivion.

Schwartz’s reception in Detroit for this unexpected second trip becomes one of the top story lines for Monday night’s game, next to perhaps only the bizarre fact that a game between to AFC East teams is even being played in Michigan due to a major Buffalo snowstorm in November.

Ultimately, moving the Jets-Bills game to Detroit was the right call.  Ultimately, it wasn’t the right call for Schwartz to want to be carried off the field after a regular-season win against the team he used to coach.  And it’s hilarious that he now must return to the scene of the crime.

Said Lions receiver Golden Tate once he learned that the spontaneous gesture was premeditated:  “It was planned?  That’s a total douche move.”

Perhaps the only thing that would make Schwartz’s unlikely return to Detroit even better would be Tate attending the game, too.

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Report: 20-30 plays for Josh Gordon in his return

Gordon AP

With Josh Gordon finally free, the next question is when he’ll get loose.

The Browns have opted to be coy about their intended use of the man who led the league in receiving yards last year despite missing the first two games due to a suspension.  Back with the team in 2014 after a 10-game suspension, the days preceding Gordon’s return to the field have included mixed messages about whether they’ll take it easy or throw him into the fray without restrictions.

The latest piece of evidence in a conflicting stew of signals comes from Adam Schefter of ESPN, who cites an unnamed league source in support of the notion that Gordon will participate in only 20-30 plays on Sunday against the Falcons in Atlanta.

Unless Gordon has shown up out of shape (and there’s no indication of that), I’ll take the over.  Once the game gets rolling and everyone becomes reminded of the reality that Gordon possesses a special kind of talent, the Browns — who find themselves in the very unusual position of having very realistic playoff chances in late November — will use Gordon.  Especially if the game is in question and if there’s no question about Gordon’s ability to get open and likewise to attract so much attention that the rest of the offense will open up.

So while folks close to Gordon may be tapping the brakes because they’d prefer to see the player get eased back in, the folks whose jobs ultimately hinge on winning more games than they lose will have a hard time not using Gordon if he’s making a clear difference in his first game back.  And Gordon, who surely has missed playing this season, likely won’t complain if that 20-30 becomes 30-40 or 40-50.

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Bengals-Texans game carries significant playoff implications

Wild Card Playoffs - Cincinnati Bengals v Houston Texans Getty Images

There may be no game on today’s schedule that has a greater chance of affecting both teams’ hopes of making the playoffs than the Bengals-Texans game that will kick off in Houston at 1 p.m. Eastern.

At the moment, the Bengals are in first place in the AFC North at 6-3-1, while the Texans are way down in the AFC playoff picture at 5-5. Today’s result could either solidify both teams’ positions, or knock the Bengals way down in the AFC pecking order while establishing the Texans as wild card contenders.

If the Bengals win, they remain in first place in the AFC North. But if they lose and the Browns win today and the Ravens win tomorrow, the Bengals would drop all the way down to last place in the division. Cincinnati’s remaining schedule isn’t easy (four of their five remaining opponents have winning records), so dropping into last place with five weeks to go would put Cincinnati in a precarious position.

If the Texans win, they would certainly be wild-card contenders, and perhaps even contenders to win the AFC South as well. Although that division feels like it’s been all but locked up by the Colts, the Texans are only a game behind and still have a Week 14 meeting with the Colts to play. The Texans don’t have much of a margin for error, but if they can continue to play like they did last week in beating Cleveland, they can remain in the AFC playoff hunt.

At the moment, the Bengals appear more likely to be a playoff team than the Texans. By the end of the day today, that may no longer be the case.

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