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Report: B.J. Raji “gauging value” on market

Packers 49ers Football AP

After reportedly receiving one- and two-year contract offers from the Packers, you couldn’t blame defensive lineman B.J. Raji if he wanted to check his options elsewhere.

According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, that’s exactly what Raji is doing. Raji intends to see what other teams might be willing to offer, Rapoport reported Saturday.

The question now is whether the 27-year-old Raji can garner a more enticing deal from another club. For Raji, compensation and how he will be utilized in a defensive scheme figure to be factors in his decision-making process. The latter point could be especially important relative to his playing future and his future earning power, especially if he garners just a short-term deal now. If Raji takes a one-year deal, he must be confident he will be utilized in a manner that best suits his skills.

It will be interesting to see if any teams gamble on Raji recapturing his best form. Three seasons ago, he notched 6.5 sacks for a Super Bowl-winning team. Moreover, he was a first-round pick just five years ago. Perhaps there’s a team that rolls the dice and comes up a winner, a la Denver with defensive tackle Terrance Knighton last March.

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Falcons hammer hapless Buccaneers in 56-14 victory

The Atlanta Falcons completely dominated the hapless Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the tune of a massive 56-14 blowout victory on Thursday night.

It was the second highest point total in Atlanta franchise history. The Falcons improved to 2-1 on the year while Tampa Bay fell to 0-3.

Devin Hester scored the 20th return touchdown of his career to take sole possession of the NFL record for most kick returns for scores in a career. Hester also had a 20-yard touchdown run on an endaround in the second quarter.

Matt Ryan set a franchise record for completion percentage (87.5 percent) in a game going 21 of 24 for 286 yards and three touchdowns before being replaced by T.J. Yates in the third quarter. Harry Douglas caught one touchdown pass from Ryan with Julio Jones added two scores. Steven Jackson scored. Antone Smith scored. Safety Kemal Ishmael scored on an interception return.

The Buccaneers couldn’t do anything right. Tampa Bay fumbled five times, losing four to Atlanta. Josh McCown was intercepted once before leaving the game in the second quarter with a thumb injury. Add in snap issues as well and it was a total cluster for the Bucs.

Despite having 56 points through three quarters, the Falcons were unable to become the 23rd team to score 60 points in an NFL game. The New Orleans Saints were the most recent team to do so with a 62-7 victory over Indianapolis in October 2011.

The Buccaneers were outgained by a 344-153 margin with five turnovers. Bobby Rainey – playing for an injured Doug Martin – had just 41 yards on 11 carries and two of their five fumbles.

Tampa Bay recorded their only offensive score of the game with 8:46 left to go when Mike Glennon hit Vincent Jackson for a 3-yard touchdown. Linebacker Danny Lansanah intercepted Yates on Atlanta’s next possession and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown to bring the score to 56-14.

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Week Three skill position injury report — Thursday

Seattle Seahawks v San Diego Chargers Getty Images

The following is a compilation of skill position players listed on Thursday’s injury report, along with their practice activity levels as declared by their clubs.

The final status for players whose teams play on Sunday will be announced on Friday.

Did not practice

Rams WR Tavon Austin (knee).

Panthers WR Jason Avant (thigh).

Giants WR Odell Beckham (hamstring).

Bengals RB Rex Burkhead (knee).

49ers TE Vernon Davis (ankle, knee).

Jets WR Eric Decker (hamstring).

Rams TE Cory Harkey (knee).

Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins (illness).

Jaguars WR Allen Hurns (ankle).

Washington WR DeSean Jackson (shoulder).

Saints RB Mark Ingram (hand).

Jaguars WR Marqise Lee (hamstring).

Bears WR Brandon Marshall (ankle).

Chargers RB Ryan Mathews (knee).

49ers TE Vance McDonald (knee).

Steelers TE Heath Miller (not injury related).

Seahawks TE Zach Miller (ankle).

Dolphins RB Knowshon Moreno (elbow).

Colts WR Hakeem Nicks (illness).

Cowboys RB Joseph Randle (concussion).

Washington TE Jordan Reed (hamstring).

Raiders WR Rod Streater (hip).

Browns RB Ben Tate (knee).

Chiefs RB De’Anthony Thomas (hamstring).

Panthers RB Fozzy Whittaker (thigh).

Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams (thigh).

Bills WR Robert Woods (ankle).

Limited

Chargers WR Keenan Allen (groin).

Steelers RB Dri Archer (ankle).

Lions RB Joique Bell (knee).

Cowboys WR Dez Bryant (shoulder).

Browns TE Jordan Cameron (shoulder).

Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles (ankle).

Dolphins TE Charles Clay (knee).

Panthers WR Jerricho Cotchery (thigh).

Patriots WR Julian Edelman (back).

Cardinals RB Andre Ellington (foot).

Cowboys TE Gavin Escobar (knee).

Washington PK Kai Forbath (right groin).

Texans RB Arian Foster (hamstring).

Chargers TE Antonio Gates (hamstring).

Jaguars RB Toby Gerhart (foot).

Bengals WR A.J. Green (toe).

Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski (knee).

Jaguars TE Clay Harbor (calf).

Rams QB Shaun Hill (thigh).

Eagles WR Josh Huff (shoulder).

Bears WR Alshon Jeffery (hamstring).

Jets RB Chris Johnson (ankle).

Jaguars RB Storm Johnson (ankle).

Raiders RB Maurice Jones-Drew (hand).

Seahawks RB Christine Michael (hamstring).

Lions RB Montell Owens (hamstring).

Cardinals QB Carson Palmer (right shoulder).

Vikings WR Cordarrelle Patterson (chest).

Ravens RB Bernard Pierce (thigh).

Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph (abdomen).

Jaguars WR Cecil Shorts (hamstring).

Jaguars TE Mickey Shuler (heel).

Panthers RB Mike Tolbert (chest).

Patriots RB Shane Vereen (shoulder).

Washington RB Darrel Young (neck).

Full

Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin (knee).

Browns WR Travis Benjamin (knee).

Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe (quadricep).

Colts RB Ahmad Bradshaw (other).

Panthers WR Philly Brown (ankle).

Steelers WR Martavis Bryant (shoulder).

Eagles TE Zach Ertz (knee).

Texans TE C.J. Fiedorowicz (foot).

Ravens QB Joe Flacco (illness).

Texans TE Garrett Graham (ankle).

Chiefs RB Cyrus Gray (foot).

Chiefs WR Frankie Hammond (shoulder).

Dolphins WR Brian Hartline (back).

Seahawks TE Cooper Helfet (knee).

Washington RB Roy Helu (quadricep).

Chiefs WR Junior Hemingway (hip).

Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (groin).

49ers RB Carlos Hyde (calf).

Texans WR Andre Johnson (ankle).

49ers QB Colin Kaepernick (back).

Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch (back).

Titans RB Dexter McCluster (foot).

Broncos PK Brandon McManus (right groin).

Steelers WR Lance Moore (groin).

Bears WR Josh Morgan (groin).

Panthers TE Greg Olsen (calf).

Cowboys QB Tony Romo (back).

Bills WR Sammy Watkins (ribs).

Eagles WR Brad Smith (groin).

Vikings WR Rodney Smith (hamstring).

Colts WR Reggie Wayne (other).

Titans QB Charlie Whitehurst (right finger).

Chiefs WR Albert Wilson (ankle).

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Josh McCown heads to locker room with thumb injury

McCown

The Buccaneers’ quarterback of the past/future is about to become the quarterback of the present.

Mike Glennon will enter Thursday night’s game against the Falcons in place of Josh McCown.  The starter has left for the locker room after striking his hand on a helmet after throwing a pass.  Officially, he’s questionable to return with a thumb injury, according to Tracy Wolfson of CBS.

Glennon can’t do much worse than McCown, who completed five of 12 passes for 58 yards and an interception before leaving the game.

The Buccaneers continue to trail, 35-0.

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Devin Hester passes Deion Sanders for all-time TD return mark

Hester Getty Images

During his first season with the Falcons, Devin Hester has shown that he can do a thing or two on offense.  But he also still has the skills that could eventually put him in Canton.

With a 62-yard punt return that hit paydirt, Hester broke a tie with Deion Sanders at 19 career touchdown returns.  Hester now has the record all to himself with 20.  He paid tribute to Sanders with an extended high step into the end zone, drawing a flag for taunting in the process.

Hester also has added a 20-yard touchdown run as part of Atlanta’s 35-0 first-half lead.

And while it’s easier to criticize the Bears both for letting Hester go and for never finding a way to unleash his broken-field skills on offense, keep in mind that every team has a crack at Hester on the open market.  The Falcons made the move to get him, and he could end up being a major difference maker as Atlanta tries to get back to the postseason.

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Gonzalez says he won’t be returning to Falcons

Gonzalez Getty Images

After the 2012 season, Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez was 95-percent retired.  And he returned.

After the 2013 season, Gonzalez’s moved his estimate to 100 percent.  And he has said he won’t be returning.

Now with CBS, which televises Thursday Night Football, Gonzalez explained that he won’t be returning to the Week Three TNF host team.

“No,” Gonzalez said about a possible reunion with the Falcons. “I know I can still play. But at the same time, I got 17 years in the league. I really do feel content and happy to be up here because I win every week.”

Gonzalez’s options aren’t limited to the Falcons. He signed a two-year deal in 2013, which as a practical matter gave the Falcons his rights for 2014, if he decided to give it another go. By not retiring before the start of the league year in March, Gonzalez forced the Falcons to cut him before a balloon payment came due. As a result, Gonzalez can now sign with any team, at any time.

Literally, at any time. Even during the playoffs.

If, for example, one of the Super Bowl teams has a tight end suffer an injury in the conference title game (it happened three years ago, when Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski badly sprained an ankle), Gonzalez can sign a contract and suit up for a one-game shot at the Super Bowl ring he never won.

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Falcons taking it to the Bucs in Atlanta

stevenjackson AP

It’s been an ugly start for the Buccaneers tonight in Atlanta.

The Falcons’ first two offensive possessions ended with Matt Ryan touchdown passes, the first to Harry Douglas and the second to Julio Jones, and Atlanta got a pick-six on defense from safety Kemal Ishmael making the score 21-0.

In the early going the game has been notable mostly for how easy the Falcons have made it look: They’ve simply marched down the field with the Bucs providing little to no resistance. Only once did it look like the Bucs had made a big play on defense, when safety Mark Barron took the ball away from Falcons tight end Levine Toilolo and began racing downfield. But Falcons receiver Devin Hester made a great play, running Barron down, stripping the ball from him and recovering Barron’s fumble.

The Bucs caught a break when they fumbled the ensuing kickoff, only to have the officials rule that forward progress had stopped. That break didn’t amount to much, as Ishmael’s interception return for a touchdown happened right after. The Bucs are going to have to catch a whole lot more breaks if they’re going to make this game competitive.

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Todd Haley missed Steelers’ flight to Baltimore last week

Haley Getty Images

Here’s an unusual story that would have gotten more attention in recent days if other more serious and unusual stories hadn’t become so usual of late.

Last week, Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley missed the team’s flight to Baltimore for the Week Two Thursday night game against the Ravens.  The Steelers have confirmed the version of events that multiple sources shared with PFT.

Late for the flight, Haley contacted the team to advise that he was stuck in traffic.  He said his wife would be driving to Baltimore anyway, so he rode with her.

Ultimately, Haley missed no meetings and the situation otherwise caused no problems.  But his absence on the flight was noticed, and it was regarded as unusual.

Probably because it is unusual.  Members of the coaching staff ordinarily don’t miss team flights.  In this specific case, Haley was fortunate that the game was fairly close via car.  He also was fortunate that most of the media has been focused on other things.

Snoop Dogg, however, may have something to say.

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Police say prior incident took place at Ray McDonald’s house

San Francisco 49ers v Houston Texans Getty Images

As authorities continue to investigate whether to bring formal charges against 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald, who was arrested and accused of domestic violence in August, police now say another incident took place at McDonald’s home on May 25.

San Jose police confirmed today that they were called to McDonald’s house after an incident in which a woman grabbed a man’s gun. Although police did not identify either the man or the woman involved by name, multiple reports say the subjects were McDonald and his fiancee, whom McDonald is accused of assaulting in a later incident in August.

“An engaged couple (a male and female subject) were in an argument when the female subject became upset, grabbed a firearm (handgun) registered to the male subject, and held it at her side,” the police statement released today said, via CSNBayArea.com. “When the male subject informed the female subject that he was going to call 911, the female subject put the firearm away and fled without incident. The female subject did not make any threats or point the firearm at the male subject. Both subjects have been identified and were contacted.”

This is the first time police have released any information about the May 25 incident, in which no arrests were made. Police arrested McDonald on August 31 but have released little information about the circumstances that led to that arrest, other than a brief statement saying the “victim had visible injuries.”

The 49ers have taken criticism for allowing McDonald to continue to play while the investigation into the August 31 incident is ongoing. Three other NFL players — Carolina’s Greg Hardy, Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson and Arizona’s Jonathan Dwyer — have been taken off the field this week while they face abuse charges.

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Gerald McCoy, Doug Martin, Roddy White among Thursday inactives

Roddy White AP

The Buccaneers will be without a Pro Bowl interior lineman and their starting tailback on Thursday night.

Standout defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (hand) and running back Doug Martin (knee) are both inactive for tonight’s game at Atlanta, the Bucs said. Bobby Rainey starts in place of Martin, who will miss his second straight game, while Da’Quan Bowers will replace McCoy, according to the Falcons’ website, which announced the game’s starters.

The Falcons are also down a key contributor, too, with wide receiver Roddy White (hamstring) declared inactive, according to the club. Harry Douglas will get the start for White, who didn’t practice all week.

The Falcons’ other inactives are cornerback Javier Arenas, defensive tackle Cliff Matthews, quarterback Sean Renfree, offensive tackle Ryan Schraeder, linebacker Tyler Starr and center James Stone.

In addition to McCoy and Martin, the Buccaneers have deactivated offensive guard Kadeem Edwards, linebacker Mason Foster, offensive guard Rishaw Johnson, offensive tackle Kevin Pamphile and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins.

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Vikings release WR Jerome Simpson

Jerome Simpson AP

The Vikings are parting ways with Jerome Simpson.

The club announced Thursday evening it had released Simpson, a veteran wideout who’s serving the final week of a three-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.

The decision to move on from Simpson comes after news of the wide receiver’s July 7 citation for marijuana possession and other charges broke earlier Thursday.

The 28-year-old Simpson hauled in 48 passes for 726 yards and one touchdown for Minnesota in 2013. A second-round pick of the Bengals in 2008, Simpson has long stood out for his athleticism and body control, and he has made multiple highlight-reel plays in his pro career.

However, off-field issues have marked his time in the NFL. He served a three-game suspension to begin the 2012 season after serving a brief prison stint on a marijuana conviction. And now, it’s possible he could face more legal and league discipline.

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Poll finds NFL still has strong support across America

nflball AP

The NFL has had two weeks of terrible news about players behaving badly and the league failing to take sufficient action. But Americans still love football.

A new NBC News/Marist poll finds that while most Americans disapprove of the way the NFL has handled domestic violence cases, the vast majority of fans haven’t turned away from the league: 86 percent of fans say domestic violence news hasn’t changed the amount of professional football they watch, compared will 11 percent who are now less likely to watch and 3 percent who are more likely to watch.

The poll shows that 53 percent of Americans disapprove of the way the NFL has handled recent domestic violence cases. Football fans are slightly more likely to disapprove than non-fans, with 57 percent of football fans disapproving of the NFL’s handling of the matter. Men (55 percent) are also slightly more likely than women (50 percent) to disapprove of the NFL’s handling of the recent cases.

There’s also good news in the poll for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, as just 29 percent of Americans think he should be forced out of his job. The owners have been steadfast in their support of Goodell, and that’s unlikely to change unless the paying customers demand it. It appears that the customers love football enough that they’ll tolerate a lot of malfeasance from the league and its players.

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Raiders waive seventh-round pick

Oakland Raiders v Green Bay Packers Getty Images

The Raiders have waived defensive lineman Shelby Harris, one of the club’s seventh-round selections in May, the team said Thursday.

The 23-year-old Harris did not play in Oakland’s first two games. Harris (6-2, 288) played collegiately at Illinois State and Wisconsin. He has practice squad eligibility, and the Raiders have one open spot on the practice roster.

The transaction leaves the Raiders with eight defensive linemen, including four defensive ends (Justin Tuck, LaMarr Woodley, C.J. Wilson, Benson Mayowa).

The Raiders now have one open roster spot. Oakland (0-2) plays at New England on Sunday.

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Dwyer’s placement on NFI means he’s done this year with Cardinals

Dwyer Getty Images

Technically, running back Adrian Peterson and defensive end Greg Hardy could play for the Vikings and Panthers, respectively, again this year, thanks to their placement on the not-so-double-secret-probation list.  For running back Jonathan Dwyer, the Cardinals’ placement of him on the non-football illness list means he’s can’t play for Arizona again this year.

The Cardinals have confirmed that, indeed, Dwyer can’t return to the active roster for the Cardinals at any point this season.  If the Cardinals release him from the NFI list, Dwyer can then sign with another team.

Accused of domestic violence, Dwyer was arrested at the team facility on Wednesday.

“It was like the worst nightmare a coach can have,” coach Bruce Arians told reporters on Thursday. “For me, personally, I was totally shocked because I’ve known John a long time. It was totally out of character from what I’ve known, so I was extremely shocked by the incident, but we have to move forward.”

Arians also said that, if Dwyer is exonerated, he’d be welcomed back.

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Simpson’s citation could result in probation violation

Simpson Getty Images

As if Vikings receiver Jerome Simpson, who’s currently serving a three-game suspension after a November 2013 DUI arrest, didn’t have enough problems, his latest brush with the law could result in some blow back from the legal system.

As explained by Brian Murphy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Simpson’s July 7 citation for marijuana possession and possession of an open container of alcohol could result in a finding that he has violated probation as a result of that DUI incident.

Probation Supervisor Brian Kopperrud said that he first learned of the incident from the Pioneer Press, which probably isn’t a promising development for Simpson.

“We are gathering information on the incident and we will be acting on Mr. Simpson accordingly,” Kopperud said.  “Technically, he should have made us aware this happened.”

The team and the league are now aware, and it could be that the league imposes another suspension on Simpson, who is currently due to rejoin the team after Sunday’s game at New Orleans.

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Charles Tillman on Kyle Fuller: I just see greatness

Kyle Fuller, Mike Iupati AP

With Charles Tillman done for the season with a torn triceps, the Bears will be leaning more heavily on first-round cornerback Kyle Fuller over the rest of the season.

Fuller can’t hope to have the same kind of savvy that Tillman has acquired over a dozen years in the Chicago secondary, but the veteran says that he plans to help Fuller as much as he can this year in a mentoring role. He also says that the rookie, who had two interceptions as the Bears came back to beat the 49ers in Week Two, brings the right raw materials.

“I just see greatness. He had a hell of game, great coming out party. If anybody was happy for him, I was,” Tillman said, via the Chicago Tribune. “I think, too, though, we have a good defense. And my role right now is to help our defense out, not just Kyle Fuller. I think my overall role is to help out our team. That’s the point I want to really get across.”

Tillman says he’s ready to do anything to help the Bears in 2014, but he’s not ready to make any calls about returning to join Fuller in the secondary next season, saying that he’s “thinking about fish tacos right now.”

And now we’re thinking about fish tacos too.

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