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Sam Bradford doing more than expected at Rams’ OTAs

kneebrace AP

So many NFL players recovering from injuries in recent years have boasted that they’re “ahead of schedule” that it sometimes seems like it’s time to change the schedule. But Rams quarterback Sam Bradford does appear to be ahead of schedule in his recovery from a torn ACL.

Bradford is doing more than he was expected to do at the Rams’ Organized Team Activities, participating in not just seven-on-seven but also running the two-minute offense in 11-on-11, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Bradford is reportedly scrambling to avoid pressure and completing good deep passes.

Although Bradford is wearing a brace on his left knee, he otherwise appears to be all the way back, less than eight months after his injury.

Now the question facing the Rams is whether Bradford can turn into the franchise quarterback they drafted him to be, and they’re paying him to be. And then whether Bradford can stay healthy for 16 games.

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Joe Philbin “excited” about Dion Jordan’s return

Dion Jordan AP

Defensive end Dion Jordan was back at practice for the Dolphins on Tuesday, the first time he’s been able to take part in work with his teammates since the start of the regular season.

Jordan spent the first six games of the season serving a pair of suspensions for violations of the league’s drug policy, which added off-field questions to any on-field ones raised by a quiet rookie season for the third overall pick of the 2013 draft. Jordan said he “bettered” himself during his time away from the team and that people should feel confident that he’ll remain drug-free, two things he likely shared with coach Joe Philbin in recent conversations.

“We’ve talked numerous times,” Philbin said, via the Miami Herald. “It’s about looking forward and moving forward in all aspects, professionally, personally. I’m excited about having him back.”

Philbin said that no decision will be made on activating him for Week Eight until later in the week. If Jordan can be a factor defensively upon his return, it should allow Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon to play fewer snaps and remain fresher come the second half of games.

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Wednesday morning one-liners

Robert Mathis AP

When given enough time to pass, QB Kyle Orton has looked good for the Bills.

Dolphins DE Dion Jordan said fans “should be confident I’m drug-free. I’m very confident.”

For the Patriots’ defensive backs, covering Bears WRs Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery will be a tall order.

With 2014 looking like a lost season the Jets will have big decisions in 2015.

The Ravens are playing well in all three phases of the game.

Bengals players are trying to make a difference in their community.

Your reminder that the 1964 Browns were the last Cleveland team to win a championship.

Monday night’s win was nice, but the Steelers still have issues.

Texans QB Ryan Fitzpatrick doesn’t appear to be close to getting benched.

Despite losing Robert Mathis, the Colts’ pass rush is holding up well.

Jaguars LB Telvin Smith is showing a knack for making big plays.

Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt says he’s noticed “a sense of pessimism” in Tennessee. (Maybe his team should give the locals something to be optimistic about.)

The Broncos are focusing on stopping Chargers TE Antonio Gates.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid will reunite this week with Donovan McNabb, his old quarterback who will call Sunday’s game on FOX.

The Raiders’ defense is struggling on third down.

Chargers WR Keenan Allen hasn’t scored a touchdown this season, but he has made a difference to San Diego’s offense.

The Dallas defense may have a tough time with Washington WR DeSean Jackson on Monday night.

With Victor Cruz out of the season, the Giants can’t afford to have Odell Beckham play like a rookie.

Eagles long snapper Jon Dorenbos had dinner with Mel Gibson during the bye week.

Washington QB Colt McCoy got in some target practice at the team facility.

Mike Ditka thinks one of the problems in the Bears’ locker room is that the team needs permanent captains.

The Lions were pleased to find a big fan in England.

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers has gone 192 passes without an interception.

The Vikings had enough injuries on the offensive line Sunday that if they’d suffered one more, TE Rhett Ellison would have had to play on the line: “It’s never really discussed, but I would have gone in and played tackle,” Ellison said. “I’m sure we would have slid our protection to my side to help me out. At least that’s my guess.”

The Falcons keep on shuffling their injury-riddled offensive line.

Carolina is the prettiest team in the ugly NFC South.

The Saints got off to a strong start, but their terrible finish ruined a good game on Sunday.

Tampa Bay hasn’t had much of a home-field advantage this season.

The Cardinals would like to extend QB Carson Palmer, but that’s not their only contract priority.

Former Rams WR Isaac Bruce says that if St. Louis fans want to keep the team, they need to show up. (And if the Rams want the support of their fans, they need to keep playing like they did on Sunday.)

Will former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr. get a bust in Canton?

Seahawks WR Doug Baldwin has benefited from lining up in the slot.

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Demarcus Lawrence has Jerry Jones “frothing at the mouth”

DeMarcus Lawrence AP

Even though their defense is better than it used to be (not that that’s hard), the Cowboys still have just six sacks on the season.

They’re hoping help for that is just around the corner.

With Demarcus Lawrence practicing well after breaking his foot, the Cowboys hope he’s ready to play when he can be brought back from IR/designated for return on Nov. 2.

Lawrence had everybody frothing at the mouth a little bit out there last week,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said on KRLD-FM. “He has really improved his body during this time off. He’s used it to really have a lot of strength work. It’s something that he didn’t do as much [in college] as he’s doing now. He’s had quite a physical improvement.”

The second-round pick could make an immediate impact once he’s well, as there’s no real pass-ruhser on the roster, with defensive tackle Henry Melton leading the team with 1.5 sacks.

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Decision on Jon Beason’s toe surgery coming today

New York Giants v Detroit Lions Getty Images

Giants linebacker Jon Beason should know today what his plans for the season are, but admitted yesterday that shutting himself down for the season was an option because of a problematic toe injury.

Right now I’d say it’s 50-50 if the smart thing is to get it fixed and get ready for next season,” Beason said on WFAN, via Ebenezer Samuel of the New York Daily News.

Beason said he was “frustrated” with his condition, but pointed out he wasn’t medically whole.

“I’m playing without a crucial ligament in my big toe,” he said.

Surgery could fix that, but would knock him out for the year. He opted to not have surgery to get ready for the opener, but wasn’t able to finish the next game. He missed the next three games, but came back against the Eagles before aggravating it last week against the Cowboys.
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Antonio Brown still mad at refs, but apologizes for swearing at them

Antonio Brown, A.J. Bouye AP

Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown’s no less happy at the officials he believes cost him a touchdown.

But he at least deleted the swearing at them.

Brown posted “F—ing refs,” next to a picture of his feet apparently in bounds on his Twitter page, has since deleted it, and come back with an even better reply.

Apologies for cursing the refs but dang,” the latest message reads, while Kermit the Frog looks at a picture of Browns feet, clearly in bounds.

When you’re passionate about something, you speak your mind,” Brown said on his radio show on 970 ESPN, via Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Dean Blandino, the league’s head of officials, maintained the call was correct.

“Touchdowns are hard to come by in the NFL,” Brown said. “That would have given us a two-touchdown lead and made it harder for [the Texans].”

What might be even harder is the realization that swearing at the refs isn’t going to make him any richer, and might make it harder to get a call next time.

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Rams promote linebacker Marshall McFadden from practice squad

New York Giants v Pittsburgh Steelers Getty Images

With a roster spot still open following the released of wide receiver Austin Pettis on Monday, the St. Louis Rams promoted linebacker Marshall McFadden to the team’s 53-man roster from their practice squad.

McFadden appeared in one game for Pittsburgh in 2012 and four games for Oakland in 2013 before signing to the Rams practice squad in October. He has recorded three tackles in those five games.

The Rams also signed receivers Kadron Boone and Devon Wylie, and linebacker Korey Toomer to their practice squad to fill the spots vacated by the promotion of McFadden and the release of receiver Emory Blake and linebacker Denicos Allen.

Pettis cleared waivers and is now a free agent.

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Agent: Report of Marshawn Lynch not boarding bus following Harvin trade is “absurd”

Seattle Seahawks v St. Louis Rams Getty Images

The trade of Percy Harvin to the New York Jets on Friday caught many members of the Seattle Seahawks by surprise.

Harvin’s teammates were finding out about the trade as the Seahawks were preparing to board buses to head to the airport for their flight to St. Louis Friday afternoon.

One player that appeared to take the news heavily was running back Marshawn Lynch.

Lynch expressed his surprise at the move on Twitter and reportedly nearly refused to board the team bus upon finding out about the news. However, Lynch’s agent, Doug Hendrickson, vehemently refuted that notion Tuesday night.

“These reports of (Lynch) going off and not wanting to get on bus are absurd. Please report accurate stories and not bogus ones,” Hendrickson wrote via his Twitter account.

A league source said over the weekend that Lynch had boarded the bus and was ready to depart long before several Seahawks staff members and players. The source added that they were not aware of any incident regarding Lynch threatening to not make the trip in the trade aftermath.

Lynch appeared to be his normal self on the field against the Rams on Sunday in carrying 18 times for 53 yards.

If anything, the trade of Harvin should allow the Seahawks to turn back to Lynch as their primary option on offense without needing to find a way to get Harvin involved in the game. After having just six carries against San Diego and 10 against Dallas, Lynch should once again become the focal point for Seattle’s attack.

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Jeremy Lane returns to practice from injured reserve for Seahawks

Jeremy Lane AP

Seattle Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane was designated Tuesday as having returned to practice after spending the last six weeks on the injured reserve/designated to return list.

Lane nursed a groin injury into Seattle’s season opener against the Green Bay Packers. He further aggravated the injury in the game and was placed on injured reserve following the game.

Head coach Pete Carroll said Lane is on track to return to the lineup for Seattle’s Week 10 game against the New York Giants when he is eligible to come off injured reserve. With the Seahawks having Tuesday off, Lane will practice for the first time since his injury on Wednesday.

Lane’s injury has forced Marcus Burley into the majority of duty as Seattle’s nickel cornerback this season. Lane has appeared in 19 games with four starts over the last three seasons. He has 44 tackles and four passes defended in his career.

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Steelers ILB Ryan Shazier could return Sunday

Ryan Shazier, Fozzy Whittaker AP

After a four-game absence because of a sprained MCL, Steelers inside linebacker Ryan Shazier could be set to return to the lineup Sunday vs. Indianapolis.

Shazier and reserve safety Shamarko Thomas (hamstring) have a “pretty good chance of playing this week,” Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said at his Tuesday press conference, according to the club.

The Steelers’ starting left inside linebacker, the 22-year-old Shazier has notched 20 tackles in three games this season. Sean Spence has filled in for Shazier.

While Shazier and Thomas appear on their way back, right tackle Marcus Gilbert’s status for Week Eight is up in the air. Gilbert, who suffered a concussion in Monday night’s victory vs. Houston, is going through the league’s concussion testing, Tomlin said. Mike Adams is the top backup to Gilbert.

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Chiefs release DE Jerel Worthy from practice squad

Green Bay Packers Mini Camp Getty Images

Defensive end Jerel Worthy, a 2012 second-round pick of the Packers, was released from Kansas City’s practice squad on Tuesday, according to the NFL’s transactions.

A Michigan State product, Worthy (6-2, 308) appeared in 14 games for Green Bay as a rookie, recording 14 tackles and 2.5 sacks. However, injuries have hindered his NFL career. He suffered a left ACL tear late in the 2012 season and spent most of 2013 on the PUP list. He also underwent back surgery earlier this year.

The 24-year-old Worthy had signed with the Chiefs’ practice squad in September after a brief stint with the Patriots. The Packers dealt Worthy to New England in August.

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Rice has filed grievance against Ravens

Rice Getty Images

The Ray Rice litigation tree officially has sprouted another branch.

Per multiple sources, Rice has filed a grievance against the Ravens challenging the team’s decision to terminate his contract on September 8.  The Ravens cut Rice within hours after the video emerged of Rice striking his then-fiancée (now wife) in the head in an Atlantic City elevator.

Rice’s position is that the Collective Bargaining Agreement permits one punishment for infraction.  In July, the NFL suspended Rice two games for the assault.  Then, immediately after the video surfaced, the Ravens cut Rice and the NFL suspended him indefinitely.

If successful on both grievances, Rice would be eligible to receive $3.52 million from the Ravens.  That’s the amount he would have earned if reinstated as of Week Three of the regular season.

Rice’s grievance against the NFL has been set for November 5 and 6.  It’s unknown when the grievance against the Ravens will be resolved.

Regardless of Rice’s infraction, he has rights.  The Ravens and/or the NFL knew or should have known exactly what he did when he was suspended by the league for two games.  The move to cut him (by the team) and to suspend him indefinitely (by the league) obviously was driven by the intense public reaction to the elevator video.  And while the moves may have won the Ravens and the NFL points in the court of public opinion, the team and the league arguably (or actually) screwed this up by not getting all of the pertinent evidence before suspending Rice in July.

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Broncos PK Brandon McManus sits out Tuesday, expected to play

Britton Colquitt, Mitch McManus AP

The Broncos’ kicker was among four players sitting out practice on Tuesday, but he appears set to play Thursday night vs. San Diego.

Rookie Brandon McManus missed a second straight workout with a right groin injury, but coach John Fox indicated he should be able to suit up against the Chargers, according to Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post.

The 23-year-old McManus has hit all 23 extra points and 6-of-7 field goals this season for Denver. He has also forced 28 touchbacks in 37 kickoffs. He has been on the injury report with the groin ailment since Week Three.

Tailback Montee Ball (groin), cornerback Omar Bolden (concussion) and linebacker Steven Johnson (ankle) also did not participate in practice on Tuesday. Bell, the Broncos’ starting tailback, has missed the last two games with his injury.

Cornerback Chris Harris (knee), safety T.J. Ward (knee), tailback Juwan Thompson (knee) and safety Quinton Carter (hamstring) were full participants in Tuesday’s workout, according to the injury report.

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Report: Chandler Jones out for “about a month”

Jones AP

Well, now we know why the Patriots traded for linebacker Akeem Ayers.  The Pats won’t have Chandler Jones for a while.

According to Shalise Manza Young of the Boston Globe, Jones suffered a hip injury against the Jets on Thursday night.  He’s expected to miss “about a month.”

A first-round pick in 2012, Jones has 4.5 sacks in his third NFL season.  He had 6.0 sacks as a rookie and 11.5 in 2013.

Per multiple reports, the Patriots also are expected to sign defensive lineman Alan Branch.  He was cut by the Bills after a DUI arrest in the preseason.

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Early exit on Sunday night could help Broncos starters in short week

Manning AP

As the Broncos prepare to host the Chargers only four nights after hosting the 49ers, Peyton Manning and other members of the starting offense picked up some extra rest by making an early exit from the blowout win over San Francisco.

Manning thinks that could help the Broncos be better prepared to face the Chargers on a short week.

“Certainly we had fewer plays offensively on Sunday night than we did last year on Sunday night,” Manning said.  “I think we were coming off a 90-play offensive game against the Titans.  So you would hope physically that would make a difference in how guys feel.  If you don’t throw the ball accurately or know who to block it doesn’t matter how you feel but I think this week is a physical challenge and a mental challenge, getting to know a team and also getting physically rested and ready to play so hopefully we can do that this week.”

On Sunday night, Manning took 50 snaps.  That should leave him feeling a lot fresher than he did after the 51-28 win over the Titans last December, which featured 91 snaps.

The extra rest could help the Broncos avoid what happened last year on Thursday night against their AFC West rivals.

“The Chargers flat outplayed us,” Manning said.  “It’s a reminder that there aren’t many secrets.  If you go out, don’t execute and make mistakes and have self-inflicted wounds, it’s going to be tough to beat any team, much less a good football team like the Chargers.  So we’re still into our preparation in the short week and hopefully we can play better this Thursday than we did last year on Thursday.”

The Broncos need to.  At stake is a two-game swing in the division, with the Broncos also trying to maintain its current lead for the top seed in the conference.

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Giants try out 15 on Tuesday

Pryor AP

As the New York Giants try improve on a record that Brandon Marshall would deem to be unacceptable, they’ve brought in a large cluster of guys for a Tryout Tuesday tire kicking.

Per a league source, 15 players worked out for the Giants today.

The eclectic group included a receiver, three tight ends, three running backs, a quarterback, two guards, a long snapper, two punters, and two kickers.

Specifically, those working out included receiver Jon Baldwin, tight ends Ted Bolser, Tony Moeaki, and D.J. Williams, running backs Alex Green, Felix Jones, and Dion Lewis, quarterback Terrelle Pryor, guards Jack Cornell and Antoine McClain, long snapper Tyler Ott, punters Jacob Dombrowski and Robert Malone, and kickers Travis Coons and Nate Freese.

Pryor’s workout may have been less about evaluating him for a contract and more about having a quarterback present to throw passes to the seven skill-position players who worked out.

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