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Report: Anthony Spencer to visit Redskins

Dallas Cowboys v Kansas City Chiefs Getty Images

Micro-fracture knee surgery ended Anthony Spencer’s 2013 after just one game. Despite still recovering from the surgery, teams are starting to kick the tires on Spencer on the free agent market.

According to Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News, the Washington Redskins are set to host Spencer for a visit on Thursday.

Spencer was given the franchise tag by the Cowboys in each of the last two seasons. He posted a career-best 11 sacks in 2012 before being tagged again by Dallas. As is the concern of any player playing under the franchise tag, Spencer suffered a serious injury that has now left him without the security a long-term deal would have delivered. Whatever team elects to sign Spencer this year certainly won’t give him a large contract with the concerns over his knee.

Spencer hoped to be back to full strength by February, but it appears he may not be completely healthy even before the start of training camps.

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Upshaw fined $16,537 for illegal hit on Roethlisberger

Ben AP

The opening drive of the Week Two Thursday night game was extended after Ravens linebacker Courtney Upshaw planted his helmet into the stomach of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

For the infraction, Upshaw was flagged.  He also has been fined.

The NFL has confirmed that Upshaw will lose $16,537 as a result of the illegal use of his helmet on a defenseless player.  The hit left Roethlisberger claiming he’s the most sore he’d been in a year, although it didn’t land Roethlisberger on the Week Three injury report.

Meanwhile, some Ravens fans will ask why Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict for planting his face mask into the groin of Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco four days earlier.  Per a league source, no fine was levied because the NFL believed Burfict simply struck Flacco with a face mask while making a form tackle.

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Welker ready to go, without limitations

Welker AP

When Broncos receiver Wes Welker last played, in the third game of the preseason, he suffered his third concussion in 11 games.

After a surprise suspension under the PED policy that became, thanks to the new, retroactive PED policy, a violation of the new substance-abuse policy that didn’t trigger a suspension, the league has reinstated Welker after two missed games.

The time off allowed him to recover from the concussion, and he’s fully cleared for Sunday’s game at Seattle.  Per a league source, Welker has no limits or restrictions as he returns to action.

But the looming question is whether he’ll suffer another concussion today, or at any time in the near future.  At some point, Welker’s chain of concussions could make doctors far more reluctant to clear him to play.

The issue takes on extra importance with the Broncos facing a team that beat Denver in February, thanks in large part of a level of physicality that the Broncos weren’t been able to match.

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Jamaal Charles a game-time decision

Charles Getty Images

The official diagnosis on Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles suggested that he’d miss time.  And he still may.  But there’s a good chance he won’t.

Despite having a high ankle sprain (and a bone bruise, per a source with knowledge of the situation), Charles remains a game-time decision for Sunday’s contest at Miami.

With only seven carries for 19 yards in Week One and a mere two carries for four yards before suffering the injury, Charles’ 2014 seasons has started off in disappointing fashion.  He could get a chance to improve on the initial 1/8th of the season, if he can play — and if Charles is healthy enough to be effective.

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Sunday morning one-liners

Donte Whitner, Karlos Dansby, Alfred Morris AP

Special teams play is one big reason the Bills are 2-0.

DE Cameron Wake leads the Dolphins with both words and actions.

The Patriots are looking for more from their wide receivers.

S Dawan Landry’s experience is needed in the Jets secondary.

The Ravens hope things go better on the road than they did last season.

Does the Bengals backfield need its own nickname?

Browns LB Karlos Dansby is “sick to his stomach” about the team’s struggle to stop the run.

Previewing what the Steelers defense will have to deal with on Sunday night.

A few key questions for the Texans to answer on Sunday.

Colts TE Jack Doyle grew up to play for his hometown team.

The Jaguars defensive line wants to make up for last week.

DL Mike Martin is healthy and hoping to make an impact for the Titans.

The Broncos are looking forward to their matchup with the Seahawks.

Chiefs WR Albert Wilson’s trip to the NFL included the helping hands of his foster parents.

The Raiders promoted LB Bojay Filimoeatu from their practice squad.

Replacing RB Ryan Mathews will be a group effort for the Chargers.

Will the Cowboys ride the running game to victory again this week?

Steve Serby of the New York Post thinks the secret to the Giants turning things around is the team somehow being more like Derek Jeter.

Screen plays have been a positive for the Eagles.

Redskins QB Kirk Cousins wears his wedding ring on the field.

Bears C Brian de la Puente is preparing himself for the Jets defense.

Lions CB Darius Slay will be on the spot against the Packers.

Would Julius Peppers be more effective for the Packers if he played less?

Trying to figure out a way the Vikings can win in New Orleans on Sunday.

The Falcons celebrated their alumni before Thursday night’s big win.

The Panthers aren’t stressing about DE Greg Hardy’s absence.

Former Saints WR Rich Mauti will see his son, Vikings LB Michael Mauti, square off with his old team this weekend.

The Buccaneers hope better health will lead to better results.

Said Cardinals coach Bruce Arians of injuries, “It’s something that we’ve been through and it’s what you hold each other accountable to, not lip service and looking for excuses. There are no excuses.”

The story of Rams QB Austin Davis’s career keeps getting better.

Perseverance has been an essential trait for 49ers LB Dan Skuta.

Seahawks QB Russell Wilson wants to emulate great athletes from other sports.

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Former Titans kicker Rob Bironas killed in car crash

rob_bironas Getty Images

Rob Bironas, who spent nine years as the kicker for the Tennessee Titans, has died in a car crash. He was 36.

Nashville police confirmed that Bironas was in a single-car crash at around 11 p.m. on Saturday. According to the Tennessean, Bironas lost control of his SUV and hit several trees. He was pronounced dead on arrival at a local hospital.

Police say Bironas was driving toward his home and there was no evidence of alcohol on the scene.

Bironas grew up in Louisville and played college football first at Auburn and then transferred to Georgia Southern. After playing a few years of Arena Football and trying out for NFL teams, he signed with the Titans in 2005. His best season came in 2007, when he was a Pro Bowler and a first-team All-Pro. The Titans released Bironas this offseason, but he was still hoping to get back into the NFL, and just had a tryout with the Lions last week.

Bironas is survived by his wife, Rachel Bradshaw, the daughter of Pro Football Hall of Famer and FOX broadcaster Terry Bradshaw.

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Kelly effect: Over-Unders of 50 points or more commonplace for Eagles games

Chip Kelly AP

In addition to point spreads, oddsmakers post totals, or Over-Unders, on every pro football game. The total is a projection of the combined total points expected to be tallied by both clubs in a given contest, and bettors can either wager on the game finishing OVER or UNDER the total.

The logic behind the total is fairly straightforward; if two clubs with excellent quarterbacks are to meet in a climate-controlled setting, a total set in the 50s — a high final score — is a given. However, if two struggling offenses meet in the cold, the total might not hit 40.

We mention totals as we consider Sunday’s Washington-Philadelphia contest. At multiple Nevada sportsbooks, the prevailing Over-Under for this NFC East matchup is 50.5 points.

If the Philadelphia-Washington game closes at 50 points or higher, it will mark the 14th time in coach Chip Kelly’s 20-game tenure that an Eagles regular season or postseason matchup has had a total in the 50s, according to the Spreadapedia point spread database. That’s a 70 percent clip.

By contrast, only 10 games in Andy Reid’s 262 regular season and postseason contests in Philadelphia and Kansas City have had a total of 50 points or more — a 3.8 percent rate.

To be fair, totals have begun to inch up in recent seasons. There were 100 games with a total of 50 points or more in 2013, compared to 74 in 2012, 56 in 2011 and just 12 in 2010, per Spreadapedia. With some powerful offenses around the league and the pace of play picking up, it’s easy to see why high Over-Unders have become more commonplace.

Which brings us back to Kelly and all of those totals of 50-plus points. The OVER has cashed in 8-of-13 such games, a 61.5 percent clip. That’s a success rate that beats the house edge.

Which explains why you’re not going to see many low totals in Eagles games as long as the Kelly offense keeps humming.

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Jameis Winston suits up pregame, sent to change, still sidelined

Jameis Winston AP

Though suspended for Saturday’s game vs. Clemson, Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston appeared in uniform in pregame warmups, per multiple reports.

However, after a talk with coach Jimbo Fisher, Winston went back inside and returned to the field without shoulder pads, according to a video clip of the incident posted by ESPN.

Winston’s collegiate career has been marked by stellar play and doses of off-field controversy. A redshirt sophomore, Winston can declare for the 2015 NFL Draft if he so chooses. He is the reigning Heisman Trophy winner as college football’s most outstanding player.

Sophomore Sean McGuire has started in place of Winston for No. 1 Florida State, which has won 18 consecutive games entering Saturday night. Winston is wearing his uniform top and a baseball cap and is present on the sidelines.

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Lions sign CB Mohammed Seisay from practice squad

Minnesota v Nebraska Getty Images

The Lions’ roster shuffling with an eye on adding secondary help continues.

Detroit has promoted rookie cornerback Mohammed Seisay from the practice squad, the team’s website said Saturday. A Nebraska product, Seisay (6-2, 206) gives the Lions four healthy cornerbacks entering Sunday’s game with the Packers, and the rookie could very well be active in his NFL debut. Veteran reserve corner Cassius Vaughn, who played 31 defensive snaps and 13 special teams snaps in Week Two, is out with an ankle injury, and at the least, Seisay could see some reps in the kicking game.

Two of the Lions’ four cornerbacks (Seisay, Danny Gorrer) were not on the 53-player roster to begin the season. The club lost cornerbacks Bill Bentley and Nevin Lawson to season-ending injuries in the first two weeks. Darius Slay and Rashean Mathis are the Lions’ top two corners.

The Lions opened a roster spot for Seisay by releasing veteran wide receiver Kevin Ogletree. Detroit now has five receivers on the roster.

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Jay Gruden calls DeSean Jackson “a very terrible blocker”

DeSean Jackson AP

We still don’t know if Washington’s injured receiver DeSean Jackson will play against his old team in Philadelphia on Sunday, but we do know this: Coach Jay Gruden doesn’t see much point in Jackson taking the field if he’s not at full speed.

Gruden said on ESPN 980 that Jackson needs to be close to 100 percent if he’s going to play.

“He did a little bit today,” Gruden said. “I think he’s gonna be a game-day type deal. He wants to go really bad — obviously he’s going back to Philly. But if he’s not 100 percent — if he’s 60-70 percent — he’s really not that good to us.”

When ESPN 980’s Brian Mitchell, the longtime NFL running back and return man, pointed out that NFL players are rarely 100 percent, Gruden made the wise crack about Jackson that everyone has been quoting today.

“I know, but he’s already 160 pounds,” Gruden said. “He’s already a very terrible blocker. We’ll see. I think he wants to play. He’s a tough guy. He is allowed to wear shoulder pads, so he might be all right.”

As Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post notes, Gruden sounded like he was kind of joking when he made the “terrible blocker” comment.

But only kind of: Gruden is right that a player like Jackson provides his value with the ball in his hands. If his injured shoulder makes him struggle to catch the ball or struggle to run full speed with the ball, there’s not much use in having him out there. No matter how much he wants to play in Philadelphia.

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Ravens sign bring up RB Fitzgerald Toussaint from practice squad

Fitzgerald Toussaint, Jacoby Jones AP

With one of their top tailbacks questionable for Sunday’s game at Cleveland, the Ravens have bolstered their backfield depth.

The club has signed rookie running back Fitzgerald Toussaint from the practice squad, the team said Saturday afternoon.

Toussaint joins the Ravens’ roster after Bernard Pierce (thigh) was limited in practice on Thursday and Friday. A Michigan product, Toussaint (5-10, 205) racked up 123 yards on 21 carries in preseason play for Baltimore. He was inactive for the Ravens’ season-opening loss vs. Cincinnati, then waived, then re-signed to the practice squad.

To make room for Toussaint, the Ravens waived wide receiver Deonte Thompson.

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You read this right: Panthers need to add RB depth

Darrin Reaves

Among the Panthers offseason problems in recent years, the amount of money they invested in the backfield was among them.

But Saturday, they had to sign a back to give them enough to work with.

The team announced they had promoted undrafted rookie Darrin Reaves from the practice squad. He’s an undrafted rookie from UAB.

He fills the roster spot created when Greg Hardy was placed on double secret probation/paid vacation/the commissioner’s exempt list.

DeAngelo Williams is questionable after he was bothered by a hamstring problem, and fullback Mike Tolbert wasn’t able to finish last week’s game with a rib injury. Coupled with special teamer Fozzy Whittaker (doubtful) getting dinged during the game, and Jonathan Stewart was their only healthy back by the end of the game.

And yes, the irony of that isn’t lost on us either.

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With Vernon Davis hurting, 49ers promote tight end from practice squad

San Francisco 49ers v Dallas Cowboys Getty Images

The 49ers listed tight ends Vernon Davis and Vance McDonald as questionable for Sunday’s game in Arizona and they added a little insurance to the roster Saturday to cover themselves in the event either of them can’t play.

The team announced that they have promoted tight end Asante Cleveland from the practice squad. Cleveland was signed as an undrafted free agent after wrapping up at the University of Miami and signed to San Francisco’s practice squad after failing to make the team out of training camp.

Quarterback Josh Johnson was waived to make room for Cleveland. Johnson, who played for Jim Harbaugh in college, was third on the depth chart behind Colin Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert. Johnson has had two stints with the Niners and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get a third once the Niners are healthier at tight end.

Neither Davis (knee, ankle) nor McDonald (knee) practiced at all this week. If neither can play on Sunday, Cleveland would join Derek Carrier and long snapper Kyle Nelson, who had six catches in the preseason, as tight end options for San Francisco.

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Chargers lose Melvin Ingram for at least eight weeks

San Diego Chargers Minicamp Getty Images

The injury woes that have plagued Melvin Ingram continue.

Ingram, the outside linebacker who was the Chargers’ first-round draft pick in 2012, has been placed on injured reserve with the return designation. That means he’ll miss at least the next eight weeks.

Ingram had started the first two games of this season but suffered a hip injury last week against the Seahawks. Ingram missed 12 games last year with a torn ACL.

The Chargers haven’t announced a corresponding move to fill Ingram’s spot on the 53-player roster.

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Saturday one-liners

Dick LeBeau AP

Rookie OT Seantrel Henderson has been impressive in Buffalo.

Trading up to draft Dion Jordan looks like a mistake for Miami.

Patriots RB Shane Vereen may not be a workhorse, but he has an important role to play in New England’s offense.

The Jets will have their hands full with the Bears’ receivers.

Jeremy Zuttah is showing himself to be a leader on the Ravens’ offensive line. (Maybe they should move him to the front office, which also needs some leadership.)

Bengals CB Pacman Jones says he isn’t particularly worried about facing Titans QB Jake Locker.

Browns QB Johnny Manziel swears he’s proud of Brian Hoyer.

Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau says of Panthers QB Cam Newton, “He’s the quintessential modern quarterback.”

Texans WR Andre Johnson is on pace to reach 950 career receptions in his 158th game, which would tie him with Marvin Harrison for the fastest pace ever to that milestone.

The Colts may need to blitz more to bring pressure on the quarterback, which is lacking with Robert Mathis out for the season.

With 10 points in the last six quarters, the Jaguars need more offense.

Titans TE Delanie Walker has picked up the new offense quickly.

Broncos DT Marvin Austin plans to play tomorrow, even after his father died yesterday.

Ron Parker was pressed into playing safety on short notice but acquitted himself nicely for the Chiefs.

The Raiders may be without two starting linebackers on Sunday.

The players in the Chargers’ secondary take pride in their tackling.

Cowboys K Dan Bailey is looking to set a franchise record.

Giants coach Tom Coughlin is loosening up by allowing music on the practice field.

Eagles CB Cary Williams doesn’t give a damn about his reputation.

Kirk Cousins has exercised patience throughout his football career. (But he only had to wait until Week Two to get to play this year.)

The Bears are happy for their old pal Devin Hester breaking the NFL return record on Thursday.

Lions WR Ryan Broyles has been inactive for the first two games of the season, but he’s hoping to get his chance.

Packers GM Ted Thompson will live and die with his philosophy of building a team by drafting talent and developing it.

The Vikings are preparing for a loud atmosphere in New Orleans.

Falcons WR Harry Douglas got some good news on the injury front.

The Panthers’ turnover margin is plus-6 through two games.

The father of Saints DE Cameron Jordan will be rooting against the Saints on Sunday.

The Bucs need to find a way to overcome adversity.

Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams says defensive end Robert Quinn is playing well against the run.

The Seahawks’ tackling has left something to be desired through two games.

The Niners have been outscored 35-3 in the final two quarters in the first two weeks.

Cardinals DL coach Brentson Buckner says Calais Campbell’s 10-tackle effort in Week Two “can be a regular day for him.”

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Brandon Marshall questionable, Dee Milliner doubtful for Monday night

Dee Milliner AP

After a limited practice Saturday, Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall is questionable for Monday night’s game at the Jets, according to the league’s injury report.

The practice was Marshall’s first since suffering an ankle injury in the season-opening loss to Buffalo. He caught three TD passes in the Bears’ Week Two win at San Francisco despite not practicing at all.

The Bears’ other starting wideout, Alshon Jeffery, is questionable with a hamstring injury. But like Marshall, he played through the injury a week ago, and he’s put in three limited practices this week. These would seem to be positive signs for his readiness for Chicago’s second consecutive road game in primetime.

While the Bears appear on track to have Marshall and Jeffery, they will not have center Roberto Garza (ankle) and left guard Matt Slauson (ankle). Both have been ruled out for a second straight game. Brian de la Puente will replace Garza, with Michael Ola to step in for Slauson.

The Bears will also be without outside linebacker Shea McClellin, who has missed the last two practices with a hand injury. Jon Bostic reportedly could get the call in his place against New York.

The Jets, meanwhile, are in danger of not having cornerback Dee Milliner in the lineup Monday night against Chicago’s strong passing game. Milliner is doubtful with quadricep and ankle injuries, and he missed a second straight practice on Saturday. Darrin Walls could start if Milliner can’t go.

The only other pressing Jets injury concern is the status of wideout Eric Decker, who’s questionable with a hamstring injury. However, Decker did see his first practice work of the week on Saturday, putting in a limited workout.

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