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Incognito on taking bat to his car: I was just venting

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The strange tale of Richie Incognito took another turn on Thursday when it was reported that he took a baseball bat to his own Ferrari and breaking off a part of it in the grill of the car. 

Nicole Garcia of FOX 10 in Phoenix decided to take a trip to Incognito’s house to find out if the report of his work with the bat was correct and was able to land a somewhat strange interview with the embattled offensive lineman. Incognito posed for a picture sitting on the hood of the car and confirmed that he was the one who made the alterations to his vehicle as a way of venting some emotions.

“Oh that was that was just me venting, that was self expression, that’s a piece of art. The happiest day of my life was when I got that car and now the second happiest day will be when I donate it to charity,” Incognito said. “The Ferrari is a story unto itself, the Ferrari is one entity, but I will tell you this the Ferrari is going to be for sale through my mission which is helping the brotherhood, whatever brotherhood it is.”

Incognito did not say why he was venting, but did talk briefly about the situation with the Dolphins and Jonathan Martin that left Incognito with a highly uncertain future as a professional football player. Incognito said he, Martin, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and the reporter were all “brothers and sisters” that were here “to lift each other up.”

Incognito also said that he wanted to “move on” from what happened in Miami, which would probably be easier if he didn’t take baseball bats to his expensive sports cars.

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Jason Pierre-Paul: Don’t count us out yet

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The Giants have lost their last two games in fairly convincing fashion, but that’s not shaking defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul’s confidence in what the team can achieve this season.

Pierre-Paul has looked at the Giants’ schedule — they host the Colts, travel to Seattle and then return home for the 49ers and Cowboys — when they return from this week’s bye and thinks the team can handle whatever those teams and the others still to come will throw their way.

“Let’s win all nine games. I think we can do it,” Pierre-Paul said, via the New York Daily News. “We just have to believe. There’s a lot of football to be played. Don’t count us out yet.”

A nine-game winning streak probably isn’t in the cards, even with Pierre-Paul playing at a level similar to his 2011 breakout season, but it is hard to know just what the Giants will do over the second half. They were abysmal to open the year, but then looked like they were rounding into form during a three-game winning streak before taking backward steps the last two weeks. If they can iron some things out during the bye week and get back to the way they were playing during the winning streak, being in contention down the stretch doesn’t feel like a major stretch.

Those next four games are tough, though, and it’s not any more of a stretch to think they’ll remain a work in progress until it’s too late to find a path into the playoffs.

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A.J. Green says his status is still “up in the air”

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Last week, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis described the status of A.J. Green as “up in the air.”  While Lewis expressed more optimism on Monday, Green has repeated the same assessment provided previously by Lewis.

“It’s still up in the air,” Green told NFL Network on Tuesday morning, “but it definitely feels better.  We’ll see about this week.”

One thing we won’t see is a fully healthy A.J. Green until 2015, at the earliest.

“It’s probably not gonna be 100 percent, but I hope it’s just manageable,” Green said.  “I can get through the season and play at a high level.”

So what about this weekend, against the Ravens?

“I hope so, man.  It’s still up in the air, and we’ll see,” Green said.

The Bengals need him.  After starting 3-0, the Bengals are 0-2-1.

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Sean Payton: Drew Brees is the least of our worries

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Saints quarterback Drew Brees said that he felt like he let the team down last Sunday when he threw a late interception that wound up setting the Lions up for their game-winning score.

It was part of a rough fourth quarter overall for Brees, who completed only three of the 14 passes he tried in the final 15 minutes of a game that the Saints led by 13 points before losing 24-23. When it comes to preparing for future opponents, though, coach Sean Payton’s concerns will be about other spots on the roster.

“I just finished talking with him, obviously he would want to have the one interception back,” Payton said, via the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “But I felt like his decision making, rhythm — I felt like his week of preparation and how he played all during practice week was outstanding. He is going to be just fine. He is the least of our worries.”

Brees has thrown seven interceptions this year which amounts to 2.7 percent of his passes. That’s up from last year, but it is in line with career norms and not surprising given the need to throw a lot in order to keep up with the points being given up by the defense.

The Saints are scoring 25.8 points per game, which is essentially the same as what they scored while making the playoffs last season. They allowed 19 points per game in 2013, a number that has skyrocketed to 27.5 points per game this year. If you’re listing worries about the Saints, defensive ones are going to take up most of the top spots on the list.

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NFL may have two different personal conduct policies

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As the dust settles on Week Seven, the NFL still would like us to pardon its dust regarding the remodeling of the personal conduct policy.

Peter King of TheMMQB.com explained on Monday that, in the end, the NFL may have two different personal conduct policies:  One for players and one for everyone else.  King cites the reality that it make take longer to finalize the policy that applies to players.  That’s because the players, unlike everyone else in the league (except for game officials), are represented by a union.  Through the union, the players have collective bargaining rights, which the players are attempting to utilize as the conduct policy is revised.

King also says reports the non-player conduct policy would allow the league to place employees on paid administrative leave, in the event of “serious crimes.”  Of course, that’s what the league ultimately did with Vikings running back Adrian Peterson and Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy, and it’s surely what the league would like to be able to automatically do with all players accused of “serious crimes” going forward.

For players, however, the game is more than simply getting paid.  Peterson’s pursuit of the all-time rushing record, for example, has been derailed.  As to Hardy, who’ll surely be a free agent in March, he’s had his ability to showcase his talents in advance of March 2015 short-circuited.

Perhaps more importantly, keeping players away from work pending the resolution of criminal charges gives prosecutors more leverage, generally.  The Peterson case demonstrates the value of delay; while Peterson still has his freedom, he lacks the freedom to play football.  And that’s still a form of real punishment, regardless of whether the game checks are still being deposited in a bank account large enough to barely notice them.

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Tuesday morning one-liners

T.Y. Hilton, Dwayne Allen AP

The Bills will get a chance to see if their trade for RB Bryce Brown paid off.

The Dolphins have sowed optimism and distrust with their performances thus far.

DT Vince Wilfork continues to play a crucial role in the team’s defense.

LB Quinton Coples is expected to start for the Jets this week after his playing time dropped in Week Seven.

Ravens CB Lardarius Webb played every snap in last Sunday’s win.

Ten things that led to the Bengals losing 27-0 to the Colts.

C Alex Mack’s injury created a new challenge for the Browns offense.

Rookie WR Martavis Bryant sparked the Steelers’ deep passing game.

Said Texans QB Ryan Fitzpatrick of the team blowing a lead on Monday night, “It was miserable and just a terrible, terrible display of offensive football by us.”

Colts TE Dwayne Allen has continued to show improvement this season.

The Jaguars are losing a lot with LB Paul Posluszny out for the rest of the season.

Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt was happy with S Michael Griffin’s ability to bounce back from mistakes against the Redskins.

Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware have sparked the Broncos defense.

The Chiefs offense showed progress late in the win over the Chargers.

The Raiders are now using QB Matt Schaub as their holder.

Chargers LB Dwight Freeney will get his chance to sack Peyton Manning this week.

An efficient performance last Sunday has led to praise for Cowboys QB Tony Romo.

The talent on hand might not be enough to fix the Giants’ problems at the point of attack.

The Eagles are hopeful that LB Mychal Kendricks can return this week.

QB Colt McCoy got in a little hunting practice at Redskins headquarters.

Has the league figured out the Bears offense?

Lions coach Jim Caldwell likes his team’s fighting spirit.

The Packers broke a lot of tackles for the Panthers.

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer lamented not calling a timeout before the Bills converted a 4th-and-20 on the way to their winning touchdown.

The Falcons haven’t found a way to consistently protect QB Matt Ryan.

The Panthers defense isn’t doing too much swarming these days.

Wednesday’s injury report should be a long one for the Saints.

The Buccaneers are feeling refreshed after their bye.

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians says his team is mostly healthy heading into Week Eight.

Last Sunday’s trickery fit right into Rams coach Jeff Fisher’s history.

Marcus Martin is the next man up at center for the 49ers.

It looks like the Seahawks will get CB Byron Maxwell back in the secondary.

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Jerry Jones loves coach Jason Garrett, but doesn’t want to talk contract yet

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Of all the potential free agents who bet on themselves going into a free agent year without a new deal, perhaps none have done better for themselves than Jason Garrett.

In the final year of his contract, the Cowboys head coach has his team off to a 6-1 start, which has everyone excited.

I don’t know that anybody has had a better, brighter vision of Jason’s future than I do,” owner Jerry Jones said, via Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I’ve always thought he had the potential to be a serious, consistent, winning coach in the NFL and still think that. … I’m just glad to see him have this kind of success.

“His players hang on every word, and they’re seeing what he’s preaching works. That’s an ideal set of circumstances for a coach that is looking for a big future in the NFL.”

Of course, Jones had less to say when asked about the specifics of a new deal for Garrett, noting the bulk of free agent deals coming upi including Dez Bryant, DeMarco Murray and more.

“I’m just not going to talk about it,” Jones said of a new deal for Garrett. “We’ve got so many contracts that we’re supposed to be needing to be talking about, now that things are going good. I’m not even going to begin to start anywhere. I’m just going to squat.

“I’ve got a lifetime of when it’s too much, just sit down and think about it.”

Garrett didn’t have much to add on the topic either.

“If you just keep trying to do things the right way, the results on the scoreboard will hopefully take care of itself,” he said. “And that’s just the way I think. That’s the way we try to help this team.”

“That was the last answer I’m going to have about my contract.”

At some point, it’s going to have to come up, unless they manage to go 8-8 again, in which case it might not.

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Rivera disagrees with Kuechly ejection, potential fine

Kuechly AP

Sunday’s blowout loss to the Packers included an early exit for linebacker Luke Kuechly, who inadvertently made contact with a game official.  Coach Ron Rivera doesn’t accept the decision, or the explanation that he received for the move.

I disagreed with it,” Rivera said Monday, via David Newton of ESPN.com.  “I disagreed with the explanation I was given.  I looked at the tape and I felt the tape agreed with what I felt.”

The league’s position is that officials should be protected from all physical contact, including but not limited to punching, pushing, shoving, grabbing, or other intimidating or interfering contact — and that any offenses against officials are strictly prohibited.

“To tell you the truth, I didn’t know who was grabbing me,” Kuechly said Sunday regarding the incident that got him ejected, via Newton.  “I was trying to get out of there a little bit. You’ve just got to stay calm in those situations and just walk away and let it take care of itself.”

The situation took care of itself with Kuechly taking an early trip to the locker room.  The next question is whether the NFL will take money out of Kuechly’s future pay.

“No,” Rivera said Monday regarding whether Kuechly should be fined. “Not at all. Zero chance.”

But since the NFL believes the ejection was proper because even inadvertent contact is prohibited, a fine would seem to be appropriate under that same reasoning.  Kuechly will get a preliminary answer on that point — subject to appeal — later this week.

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Hue Jackson says getting shut out falls on him

Hue Jackson, Andy Dalton AP

The Bengals gained 135 yards on offense against the Colts last Sunday, the franchise’s lowest total in a game contested by the first string since the perfect storm that pitted a Bengals team quarterbacked by Akili Smith against the 2000 Ravens defense.

When you’re in the same sentence as that kind of futility, things have gone very wrong. Offensive coordinator Hue Jackson said Monday that the blame for the offense’s inability to block, run or throw in the 27-0 loss should fall on his shoulders.

“All those things you just mentioned falls at my responsibility, making sure that we’re on top of everything, and honestly I don’t think I did a very good job of that,” Jackson said, via Paul Dehner of the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Jackson said that the offensive showing was not “who we are,” but Dehner points out that the losing effort was both extreme and in line with other performances this season. The offense has sparkled in games against poor defenses from Tennessee and Carolina, but they settled for field goals for much of the day against the Ravens and did almost nothing on offense against the Patriots until the game was out of hand.

The Ravens, Patriots and Colts are the best defenses that Cincinnati has faced this season, so it appears that part of who the Bengals are is a team that has a hard time getting in the end zone against good defenses. Plenty of teams are in that group, of course, but recent playoff memories don’t provide much solace about the offense’s ability to step it up against the toughest opposition.

A strong outing against Baltimore in Week Eight would provide some contrary evidence for a team trying to win for the first time since September.

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Lovie Smith: We’re not shopping any of our players

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The trade deadline is a week away and the Percy Harvin deal has led to some wondering about what other deals might be struck between NFL teams this week.

One name that’s been brought up as a possibility is Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson. Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reported over the weekend that the Bucs are getting “a ton” of calls about trading Jackson and that the team is “open to anything” although they are fond of Jackson as a player.

Bucs coach Lovie Smith was asked about that report during his Monday press conference and didn’t rule anything out. He did say the team wasn’t actively trying to move Jackson or anyone else on the team, however, and told reporters that the team’s roster now was likely to be their roster next week as well.

“We like our football team that we’re going with, that we have here right now,” Smith said, via the Tampa Bay Times. “We’re not trying to shop any of our players, to answer any questions out there. And it’s people — if they call about some of their players, we take all calls. We don’t (say), ‘Oh, this area code? We’re not going to take this call.’ We listen to what everybody has to say, and we go from there. You see who’s on our roster today. I would just kind of go with that.”

Jackson has played well for the Bucs, but he’s pricey and older than 2014 first-round pick Mike Evans on a team that appears to need more remodeling before they’re going to be a contender. Closing the door to someone offering you a return that can help in that process would make little sense, even if you feel it is unlikely anyone is going to hit the price you’ve set as an acceptable offer.

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Lions apparently in the mix for Australian rugby star

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The Lions are in England today, but it seems they’re looking to Australia for the future.

Via the Detroit Free Press, Lions coach Jim Caldwell didn’t dispel a link between his team and Australian rugby star Jarryd Hayne.

I can’t tell you much about that,” Caldwell said. “I mean, I know who he is, obviously, but I don’t know what I’m supposed to tell you. I have no knowledge of it in that regard.

“To be honest with you, it could be. It could be a personnel issue, but I’m not aware of it. Besides that, our focus is pretty narrow this time of the year, so getting out of that realm, it’s hard to do. But it could happen.

“Obviously, there are a lot of good athletes around this country, and there are a bunch of them playing other sports, you know, basketball, baseball, rugby, which is similar to our sport, and there is a lot of carryover. So, we’ll see.”

Hayne is one of the top players in Australian rugby, and Lions running back Reggie Bush told a television interviewer there he could play in the NFL. Sydney’s Daily Telegraph reported the Lions are one of six teams interested in him.

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Report: Pierre Thomas out 2-3 weeks with shoulder injury

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Saints running back Pierre Thomas suffered a shoulder injury Sunday that may sideline him.

Thomas is expected to miss two or three weeks, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

The shoulder injury took place during Sunday’s loss to the Lions, a loss that was costly for New Orleans on the injury front: center Jonathan Goodwin suffered a leg injury, defensive end Glenn Foster had a knee injury and nose tackle Brodrick Bunkley had a head injury.

The versatile Thomas is third on the team in rushing with 133 yards and third on the team in receiving with 26 catches. The 2-3 week timeframe would put Thomas out for Sunday night’s game against the Packers and next Thursday’s game against the Panthers, as well as possibly the following week’s game against the 49ers.

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Brian Hoyer’s still “firmly” the starter, at least for now

Johnny Manziel, Brian Hoyer AP

Even during one of his worst performances, against a previously winless team, the Browns never considered replacing quarterback Brian Hoyer with Johnny Manziel.

But this week, against a winless team, that might change.

Even as he admitted there’s a chance to see Manziel this week, Browns coach Mike Pettine backed Hoyer.

Brian is still firmly our starter,” Pettine said, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “Nothing’s changed. Each week we make the decision as to if we want to include Johnny in the plan.”

“It was discussed briefly [pulling him], but it was a situation where we still wanted to…at least try to end the game with Brian on a positive note.”

That note was never struck, which is why Pettine left the door open for the rookie to play a part this week.

“Each week when the offensive staff gets together — and I’ll jump in with them too — is that they put the plan together, and it’s what gives us the best chance to win,” said Pettine. “So if the situation this week maybe calls for him to play some then that will be the case. But we’re not going to hit the panic button after one loss. While we know that the quarterback position needed to be more productive, it was more symptomatic of the entire offense.”

Hoyer completed just 16-of-41 passes against the Jaguars, with a career-low 46.3 rating. He wasn’t sharp the previous week against the Steelers, but a win may have bought him some time.

With Manziel waiting in the wings, that time might not last however.

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A.J. Green has “made a lot of progress” from toe injury

A.J. Green AP

The Bengals could have certainly used A.J. Green last week, as they were shut out by the Colts.

But they may be closer to getting him back.

According to Coley Harvey of ESPN.com, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said Green has “made a lot of progress.”

It was a more optimistic note than last week, when Lewis said his star receiver’s return was still “up in the air.”

“He’s made significant progress and feels good about everything that he’s being told,” Lewis said. “What the prognosis is is, I guess, the most important thing. It’s been a consistent message he’s gotten. As we said earlier, the time [off] will allow things to progress and so forth that way.”

Green has been dealing with the toe injury all season, playing through it at times, but he’s missed the last two complete games. But he’s continued to work, with the team sending out a video of him jogging along the sideline.

Without him, the Bengals were held to 135 yards of total offense against the Colts.

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Bill O’Brien frustrated by Texans performance

Bill O'Brien AP

The Houston Texans have lost three straight games and four out of their last five after falling 30-23 to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night.

And Texans head coach Bill O’Brien is none too happy about it.

O’Brien was noticeably heated in his post-game press conference after watching his team allow 21 points in less than 90 seconds at the end of the first half. The Texans never recovered and were unable to rally against Pittsburgh.

“You can’t turn the ball over. You can’t field a kick, bobble the kick. We can’t give up shot plays. You can’t have 12 men on the field on third down to give them a first down. We just can’t do those things,” O’Brien said. “And with all that being said, we’re one onside kick away and these questions are like we lost 50-0. We lost by a touchdown. With all of that stuff that we did. We have to improve it. We gotta coach it better and we gotta play better.”

Houston turned the ball over twice backed up inside their own 20-yard line that led to two quick touchdowns for the Steelers.

“It’s very frustrating when you turn the ball over on your own 2-yard line,” O’Brien said. “The whole thing’s frustrating. Players are frustrated, coaches are frustrated, but again, it’s not like, again, we’re an onside kick away, which, we almost recovered. Almost only counts in horseshoes, but we’re an onside kick away from having a chance to tie the game with all of that being said that we did wrong.”

It’s the second straight week the Texans had allowed 24 points in a quarter. They fell behind Indianapolis 24-0 last week in a 33-28 loss to the Colts.

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Steelers overcome early deficit to earn 30-23 victory over Texans

Houston Texans v Pittsburgh Steelers Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers scored 21 points in the final three minutes of the second quarter to help dig out of an early 13-0 hole en route to a 30-23 victory over the Houston Texans on Monday night.

The Texans took the early lead on an 11-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Alfred Blue and a pair of field goals by Randy Bullock to take a 13-0 lead.

But it went all downhill after that for Houston.

After a 44-yard Shaun Suisham field goal put Pittsburgh on the board, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger sparked the Steelers offense on their next possession.

It took just two plays for the Steelers to march 63 yards for a touchdown. Roethlisberger connected with LeVeon Bell for 28 yards and then hit rookie Martavis Bryant for a 35-yard touchdown to pull Pittsburgh within three. It was the first career catch of Bryant’s career.

Backed up inside their own 10-yard line, Arian Foster coughed up the ball as he was stripped by Jason Worilds and the fumble was recovered by Sean Spence.

On the next play, Antonio Brown came in motion and took a handoff from Roethlisberger, pivoted and rolled to the left and threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Lance Moore to give the Steelers their first lead.

The deluge continued for Houston as Fitzpatrick was intercepted by Brett Kiesel on the first play of their next possession to give possession back to the Steelers. Two plays later, Roethlisberger hit Bell for a 2-yard score to take a 24-13 lead into halftime.

The Steelers scored 21 points in less than 90 seconds to completely flip the game into their hands. It was the first time since 2002 that a team scored 21 points in that short a time span. The Seattle Seahawks scored 21 points in the span of 90 seconds against the Minnesota Vikings on Sept. 29, 2002.

Two Suisham field goals extended the lead to 30-16 with three minutes to play. Fitzgerald’s 1-yard touchdown pass to Arian Foster pulled Houston within a score with 1:31 left but the ensuing onside kick was recovered by the Steelers to seal the victory.

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