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Donte Whitner: Browns shouldn’t cut Josh Gordon

Cleveland Browns v Minnesota Vikings Getty Images

Browns safety Donte Whitner has heard people say the Browns should cut Josh Gordon, who was recently arrested for DWI and is facing a one-year suspension for violations of the NFL’s substance abuse policy. And Whitner thinks those people are wrong.

Whitner says that what Gordon needs is support from the Browns, not for the team to cut him loose.

“It’s a big blow to us. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t, it’s not a big blow,” Whitner said on SiriusXM NFL Radio. “But the thing is, we have to rally around him. I know all the things people say — ‘he should be cut, he should be this’ — he shouldn’t. He’s a 23-year-old kid. He made some mistakes. A lot of people’s 20-year-old sons make mistakes. We have to help him, and that’s the bottom line. We have to help him collectively. It’s not going be one person that helps him, it’s not going to be two people that help him. I’m talking about from the front office, the coaching staff, the players and his whole family. We have to help him not only for football purposes, but for life purposes to get his life in order.”

Unless Gordon’s appeal is successful, he won’t play for the Browns until 2015 at the earliest. But Whitner believes that whenever the NFL says Gordon can play, he should play for the Browns.

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Antonio Brown hopes for more production with Landry Jones in the lineup

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - OCTOBER 16:  Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers warms up during a game against the Miami Dolphins on October 16, 2016 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) Getty Images

When Landry Jones replaced Ben Roethlisberger a year ago, the numbers weren’t great for receiver Antonio Brown. This year, Brown hopes that he and Jones will connect more often.

“Obviously, it’s frustrating not to have Ben out there, but you have to be positive and poised,” Brown said Friday, via Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “We have to build Landry up. We can’t be getting in his ear every play and saying, ‘I’m open.’ Obviously, I know I’m going to draw a lot of double teams and a lot of different matchups. We have to keep him poised, create separation for him, make plays for him and keep him positive all game.”

It’s almost as if Brown was anticipating the moment in 2016 when Jones would get another chance to play.

“I’ve been working with Landry a lot,” Brown said. “Every pregame we throw routes together, communicate a lot in the film room. We’re just excited to have the opportunity to go out and play together this weekend.”

Jones has every incentive to play well, given that he’s in a contract year. With the NFL’s supply of quarterbacks not close to meeting its demand, Jones could be in position to demand a big contract from someone else if he can get it done for however long Roethlisberger will be out due to a torn meniscus in his knee.

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Hue Jackson decided against chance to succeed Marvin Lewis

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 11: Head coach Hue Jackson of the Cleveland Browns looks on during the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on September 11, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Eagles defeated the Browns 29-10. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) Getty Images

As the Browns and Bengals prepare for the first of their two annual meetings on Sunday, the in-state rivalry has a new layer of intrigue.

Browns coach Hue Jackson had become a valued member of the coaching staff in Cincinnati — so valued that Marvin Lewis wanted to eventually hand the baton to Hue.

Lewis mentioned the possibility of Jackson succeeding Lewis earlier this week. Jackson later confirmed it.

That is Marvin’s football team,” Jackson said, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “He’s been there a long time. It’s hard to ever replace a best friend that way and be there waiting behind. I didn’t think it was the right thing for me to do. I didn’t think it would be right for their team.”

Jackson called the chance to lead the Browns the “right fit” and the “right opportunity.”

“I’m where I’m supposed to be right now,” Jackson said.

Though the Browns have yet to win on Hue’s watch, they’ve been competitive. With Jackson knowing the coaching staff and personnel in Cincinnati intimately, the Browns may have an edge on Sunday to end their annual run of futility, at least for one day.

In time, it won’t be that way, if the fans and ownership remain patient. Although it’s tempting to believe that a generation of frustration will continue indefinitely, Jackson and company could be the franchise’s best shot to turn things around since the franchise previously known as the Browns packed up and left for Baltimore.

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Rams score early in London

Los Angeles Rams running back Chase Reynolds (34) and Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley (30) joke during the warm-up before an NFL football game against New York Giants at Twickenham stadium in London, Sunday Oct. 23, 2016. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland) AP

Fans in Los Angeles who couldn’t get up early enough to watch the start of the Rams’ game in London missed an early touchdown.

The Rams scored just 3:45 into the first quarter with a touchdown pass from Case Keenum to Tavon Austin, capitalizing on a Giants turnover on the first offensive drive.

Giants tight end Larry Donnell caught the first pass of the game but fumbled it, and the Rams recovered. (That fumble was confirmed on replay review and London fans — perhaps more accustomed to soccer, which doesn’t have long replay delays — booed the announcement that the play would be reviewed.)

With good field position, the Rams’ offense moved the ball easily, with Austin also rushing for 10 yards in addition to his 10-yard touchdown catch.

Now we’ll see if the Giants can wake up and make an early morning game of it.

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Trade chatter at a minimum, for now

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 11: Robert Griffin III #10 and Joe Thomas #73 of the Cleveland Browns wait in the tunnel prior to the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on September 11, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Eagles defeated the Browns 29-10. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) Getty Images

The trade deadline is only nine days away. And while plenty of transactions could still happen between now and 4:00 p.m. ET on November 1, it’s hard to currently identify any real chatter regarding specific players.

It’s still a little early for teams to engage in full-blown fire sales. With two more games to be played for most teams between now and the trade deadline, that 1-5 record could be 3-5 by the Tuesday after Week Eight. Or 1-7.

Or, in the case of the Browns, 0-8.

The Browns will be at the center of the speculation, regarding a potential trade of veteran left tackle Joe Thomas. Last year, the Broncos reportedly were talking to the Browns about a trade for Thomas, and this year’s contending teams are only one injury to a starting tackle away from becoming quickly interested.

Other non-contending teams should be looking at players who could be swapped for 2017 draft picks. The 1-6 Bears could be tempted to move receiver Alshon Jeffery; however, his contract status could make it hard to get much value, given that his new team wouldn’t be able to sign him to a new contract until after the regular season ends. The 1-5 Jets could be thinking about a fire sale aimed at stockpiling picks; if there’s any lingering issue between receiver Brandon Marshall and defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson, why not consider moving one or both of them?

The 49ers also could be/should be looking at ways to unload some veterans in exchange for draft picks, if they keep sliding into irrelevance.

Then there are the Patriots, who seem to find ways to bring in contract-year players who either will be re-signed after the season or allowed to leave via free agency, giving the Patriots a better haul of compensatory picks in 2017.

Regardless, it’s still a little early for the trade talk to heat up. Based on what happens with some of the league’s bad teams over the next nine days, plenty could still happen.

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Molly Brown: Giants teammates knew of abuse

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 21:  Steve Weatherford #5 drops the ball during a field goal attempt by Josh Brown #3 of the New York Giants in the second quarter against the Houston Texans at MetLife Stadium on September 21, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

As the Sunday morning talking heads begin the process of talking about the potential reaction by teammates to the knowledge that Giants kicker Josh Brown engaged in abuse of his ex-wife more widespread than grabbing her wrist in May 2015, it’s important to remember one key fact: Brown’s ex-wife contends they already knew.

“Several of Josh’s teammates were aware of the abuse in their relationship,” wrote King County Detective Robin Ostrum, “but it is clear none of them did anything to call it to the attention of the team management or take action to help Molly out. Molly feared that people from the NFL/Giants would pressure her into making all of this go away, so that Josh and the team would not face any negative press. Molly was very upfront that in her experience, the NFL publically [sic] says that they have a no tolerance policy on Domestic Violence, but the reality is that they do more crisis management and look to cover things up.”

Ultimately, the criminal charges did not materialize because Molly Brown decided not to force the issue, possibly due to concerns that she expressed regarding the financial implications arising from the Giants severing ties with Josh. The police report makes it clear that she was torn over worries that, on one hand, the team would abruptly cut him and that, on the other hand, the team would try to brush it all under the rug and to create the impression that she was making things up.

Now that the police report has emerged, the Giants and the NFL have been forced by fan and media reaction to do what they should have done in the first place, based on the apparent extent of the abuse. Regardless, none of this should be news to some of Brown’s teammates, based on the things Molly Brown told the authorities in Seattle.

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Sunday morning one-liners

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 16: Wide receiver Kenny Britt #18 of the Los Angeles Rams breaks the tackle from free safety Glover Quin #27 of the Detroit Lions on his way to scoring a first quarter touch down during an NFL game at Ford Field on October 16, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Bills get LB Shaq Lawson in the lineup for the first time this week.

Can the Dolphins reverse recent history and beat the Bills?

WR Stanley Morgan’s Patriots record for touchdowns is likely to fall to Rob Gronkowski soon.

QB Geno Smith is back in the saddle for the Jets.

The Ravens need to protect a banged-up QB Joe Flacco.

After years of playing for him, the Bengals offense will be trying to beat Hue Jackson this weekend.

The Browns remain an outlier in the Cleveland sports renaissance.

The Steelers defense will be under pressure on Sunday.

Monday is another tough road game for the Texans.

The Titans running game looks like a bad matchup for the Colts.

Remembering Jack Del Rio’s time as Jaguars coach ahead of a matchup with the Raiders.

WR Rishard Matthews has turned it on for the Titans.

Checking in on Broncos LB DeMarcus Ware’s recovery from a broken forearm.

The Chiefs aren’t listening to critics of their offensive style.

Raiders QB Derek Carr still feels a bond with Blake Bortles from their time together before the 2014 draft.

Said Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano, “I’m heading to church right after this. To be able to stop Julio [Jones], we’re going to have to do some serious praying.”

The Cowboys coaching staff has looked good during the team’s 5-1 start.

A critique of Giants owner John Mara’s handling of the Josh Brown matter.

The Eagles will get reacquainted with QB Sam Bradford this Sunday.

TE Derek Carrier is getting closer to returning to the Redskins lineup.

Trying to evaluate Bears coach John Fox’s work is more difficult thanks to injuries all over the roster.

The Lions defense will be tested this weekend.

Getting time at running back takes Packers WR Ty Montgomery down memory lane.

Vikings tight ends coach Pat Shurmur is one of the team’s connections to the Eagles.

LSU sent alums with the Falcons a package this week.

The Panthers need to get their pass rush going after the bye.

S Kenny Vaccaro’s versatility has been put to good use by the Saints.

Will the Buccaneers be able to take advantage of the 49ers’ run defense?

The Cardinals are keeping their eyes on Seahawks TE Jimmy Graham.

Rams WR Kenny Britt will face off with former teammate Janoris Jenkins on Sunday.

WR DeAndre Smelter is trying for a second chance with the 49ers.

Seahawks LB Bobby Wagner has been an effective blitzer this season.

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Odell Beckham active after pregame meeting with trainers

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JANUARY 03:  Odell Beckham #13 of the New York Giants in action against the Philadelphia Eagles during their game at MetLife Stadium on January 3, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Giants didn’t give wide receiver Odell Beckham an injury designation on their final injury report of the week, which means they had no doubt that he would be in the lineup on Sunday.

It seems there are still some concerns about how his hip is feeling, however. Beckham hurt his hip against the Ravens last weekend and missed the opening practice of the week before returning to work on Thursday and Friday. Jordan Raanan of reports that Beckham spent an extended period of time with trainers while the rest of the team’s wide receivers were going through warmups ahead of the Giants’ matchup with the Rams in London.

That hasn’t caused a change in Beckham’s game status as he’s in the lineup for the game. Whether he’s limited by the injury at any point during the game will be something to keep an eye on, especially after Beckham’s big game helped the Giants snap their three-game losing streak last week.

Quarterback Josh Johnson, wide receiver Tavarres King, safety Darian Thompson, safety Nat Berhe, linebacker Deontae Skinner, offensive lineman Marshall Newhouse and defensive tackle Robert Thomas are inactive for the Giants.

Defensive tackle Michael Brockers and cornerback Trumaine Johnson were ruled out by the Rams during the week. They’re joined on the inactive list by guard Jamon Brown, wide receiver Nelson Spruce, wide receiver Pharoh Cooper, offensive lineman Pace Murphy and quarterback Sean Mannion.

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Tyler Eifert, Terrelle Pryor expected to play in Cincinnati

CINCINNATI, OH - NOVEMBER 5:  Tyler Eifert #85 of the Cincinnati Bengals catches a touchdown pass during the fourth quarter of the game against the Cleveland Browns at Paul Brown Stadium on November 5, 2015 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Cincinnati defeated Cleveland 31-10.(Photo by Andrew Weber/Getty Images) Getty Images

Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert declared himself ready to make his 2016 debut this week, although the Bengals stopped short of ruling Eifert into the lineup when they released their final injury report of the week.

Eifert has missed the last couple of games with the back injury he suffered just as it appeared he was ready to get back on the field after offseason ankle surgery. He practiced each day this week, drawing a questionable tag, and Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that he is expected to play limited snaps against the Browns.

It wouldn’t be surprising if some of those snaps come in the red zone. Eifert was tough to stop in that area of the field last season and the Bengals have not been as effective on that front as they were with Eifert in the lineup last season.

The Browns had a key pass catcher of their own listed as questionable. Wide receiver Terrelle Pryor has been dealing with an ankle injuy, but is also expected to play in Cincinnati this Sunday.

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Report: LeSean McCoy to play 25-35 snaps

LeSean McCoy, Marcus Peters AP

Bills running back LeSean McCoy appears ready to contribute today, if not quite as much as usual.

McCoy is expected to play and get about 25-35 snaps against the Dolphins, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports.

That would represent a reduction in the normal workload for McCoy, who has averaged 47.5 snaps a game so far this season. But it would still allow him to contribute to the Bills’ offense.

McCoy left practice Wednesday with hamstring tightness, and initial reports had him out for Sunday. But McCoy made the trip to Miami and now appears good to go, if not for quite his usual role in the offense.

McCoy leads the Bills with 104 carries for 587 yards and six touchdowns this season and is also third on the team with 20 catches. If he sees a reduction in playing time today, Mike Gillislee should be expected to get more carries, and that could be a good thing for the Bills: Gillislee is averaging 6.9 yards a carry in limited work so far this season.

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NFL may have to use pre-Ray Rice procedures for other Josh Brown violations

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 18:  Brad Wing #9 of the New York Giants comforts teammate Josh Brown #3 as they take on the New Orleans Saints during the second half at MetLife Stadium on September 18, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

As the NFL reopens its investigation of Josh Brown, its hands could be tied by the policies that were in place at the time any other incidents of alleged domestic violence occurred.

The NFL’s new six-game baseline suspension for first-offense domestic violence was adopted after the Ray Rice situation in 2014, as a response to the intense media and fan reaction to the decision to suspend Rice for only two games once video of his conduct finally surfaced. The new procedures don’t apply to anything that happened before the procedures were adopted.

As to Brown, the authorities in King County, Washington identified two potential incidents of domestic violence: One occurred in May 2015, and the other occurred in May 2014. Brown already has been suspended one game for the incident in 2015, which came with the new policies in place.

The other incident predated the changes to the rules, which would force the league to use the prior approach. For a first offense, Brown would be suspended two games.

The next question is whether other incidents of domestic violence could be proven by a preponderance of the evidence (i.e., more likely that not) based only on information from Josh Brown, the police report that finally has been issued, and the record and journals created by Brown. Possibly, separate acts of domestic violence could be stacked against Brown, the way they were for Greg Hardy.

At some point, the question becomes whether the NFL would attempt to impose enhanced discipline for the May 2015 incident, based on supposedly aggravating factors of past misconduct or the argument that the May 2015 incident was a second (or third, or fourth, etc.) offense. That will be harder for the league to pull off, because Brown already has been disciplined for the May 2015 incident.

Ultimately, none of it may matter. Josh Brown quickly has become synonymous with Ray Rice, and there are plenty of men who can do what Brown does. Whatever the official punishment eventually imposed by the NFL, Brown likely will become a pariah, with his only remaining NFL paychecks coming for however long he remains on the Commissioner-Exempt list.

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Brandon Marshall touts his maturity

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 17:  Wide receiver Brandon Marshall #15 of the New York Jets reacts after a reception against the Arizona Cardinals during the NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on October 17, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

If there’s a silver lining in the ongoing free fall of the New York Jets, it comes from receiver Brandon Marshall learning how to handle tough times.

I’m growing, man,” Marshall told on Friday. “I’m growing as an individual. Obviously, it hasn’t been perfect. But through adversity, character is built. I’m not saying I’ve been perfect throughout it, because it’s really difficult to handle.

“But that’s one of the positives from this start is, I love how I’m maturing and handling things better than I have in the past, when you’re in a losing locker room or when adversity hits. That’s been one of the things I’ve really focused on. I’ve got to continue to grow.”

Marshall added that his relationship with defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson is “good” after a Week Three run in.

“We have had our moments, whether it’s in practice or in meetings, had a lot of conversations. Everyone comes from different walks of life, and don’t always see things the right way,” Marshall said.

Richardson apparently doesn’t see why Marshall chose to talk about the situation.

“That’s Brandon, bro,” Richardson told “I’ve got nothing to talk about on that note. It’s locker room business. That’s what it’s supposed to be.”

Teammates aren’t supposed to fight with each other, either. But it definitely happens on losing teams. For the 2016 Jets, the fighting began in before the losing even started, with Marshall and cornerback Darrelle Revis getting into it during practice.

Frankly, Marshall’s maturity may be relative. The Broncos, Dolphins, and Bears each traded him.

With nine days left in this year’s trading window, maybe a fourth trade would be the best move for the team and for the player, who has still not yet played in a single postseason game.

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League is considering a developmental league

PHOENIX - JUNE 30:  Kicker Eric Houle #16 runs down field during a game against the Grand Rapids Rampage at the US Airways Center in Phoenix, Arizona on June 30, 2008.  (Photo by Gene Lower/Getty Images) Getty Images

With NFL Europe/Europa/Whateva long gone and the Arena Football League close to joining it in extinction, football players not yet ready for the NFL have limited options for developing their game. And so the NFL continues to discuss the possibility of launching a developmental league.

“We’ve talked about it,” Commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters earlier this week. “Some of you may have heard we spent a fair amount of time at the [quarterly] meeting on what we call the 2020 plan, which is talking about how we plan for the future and the things we want to accomplish. One of them is obviously the game, and how do we improve the game? A developmental league could be something that we want to do to try to help develop players.

“We pick up on the rosters from the start of the season to the end of the season, probably three to four hundred players on average. Having those players ready to play as quickly as possible and developed so that their skill set’s furthered are all positive things about the long-term future of the game. I particularly have an interest in that and would like to make sure we’re evaluating that as something that can help improve the game and improve our players.”

A developmental league particularly is needed for the quarterback position, where not nearly enough players are good enough to play at the NFL level. But a developmental league also would be useful for all other positions, along with officiating, coaching, and scouting.

The question is whether the NFL could make money from a developmental league and, if not, the amount of losses the league would be willing to tolerate. NFL Europe wasn’t profitable, and the league eventually decided to stop the sangre.

Some owners may see no reason to give players not yet ready to earn a roster spot a chance to do so — and plenty of players with one of those roster spots may agree. Still, there’s a need for game-ready talent when injuries inevitably occur.

Given the ongoing decline in TV ratings, the NFL also should be wary of potentially diluting the product by adding more football in presumably markets not currently served by the NFL. Would the fans in those markets support a minor league team? If so, would they be less likely to support a nearby NFL team?

As every other professional league has learned in the past 40 years, Americans love football — but only so much of it. Between high school, college, and the NFL, the saturation point possibly has been reached. Before the NFL adds even more football in the interests of developing better football, the NFL should be sure that the effort won’t fail miserably.

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Buccaneers make receiver swap

TAMPA, FL - AUGUST 31:  Wide receiver Freddie Martino #16 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hauls in a pass from quarterback Ryan Griffin for a first down while being pressured by running back Keith Marshall #39 of the Washington Redskins during the fourth quarter of an NFL preseason game on August 31, 2016 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Buccaneers made a wide receiver swap Saturday, promoting Freddie Martino from the practice squad and waiving Donteea Dye.

Martino has previously spent time this season on both the active roster and the practice squad. He’s played in two games.

Dye could land back on the practice squad next week.

Earlier this week the Bucs placed veteran wide receiver Vincent Jackson on injured reserve.

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LeSean McCoy travels with Bills to Miami

BUFFALO, NY - OCTOBER 16:  LeSean McCoy #25 of the Buffalo Bills celebrates a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers during the first half at New Era Field on October 16, 2016 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) Getty Images

Bills running back LeSean McCoy still may not play in Sunday’s game at Miami with a hamstring injury, but he still hasn’t been ruled out.

McCoy has made the trip to South Florida, PFT confirms. The news was first reported by Jeff Darlington of ESPN.

While it’s possible a ruse aimed at making the Dolphins think they’ll be facing McCoy, if his hamstring injury is bad enough to keep him from playing, it wouldn’t be a good idea to take him to Miami.

This doesn’t mean McCoy will definitely play. But it means that he still could.

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Jets place Henderson on non-football injury list

HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 22: Keith Mumphery #12 of the Houston Texans fumbles the ball while being hit by Erin Henderson #58 of the New York Jets in the fourth quarter on November 22, 2015 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. Texans won 24 to 17. (Photo by Thomas Shea/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Jets placed veteran linebacker Erin Henderson on the non-football injury/illness list Saturday.

Henderson had started four games this season and led the team in tackles in each of the last two games.

His absence creates another hole in the defensive lineup with first-round linebacker Darron Lee out for at least Sunday’s game vs. the Ravens with an ankle injury.

The Jets promoted two linebackers from the practice squad Saturday, Julian Stanford and Victor Ochi. Stanford has already played in three games for the Jets this season. Ochi is an undrafted rookie outside linebacker who spent the offseason with the Ravens before landing on the practice squad with the Jets.

The Jets also placed tight end Braedon Bowman on injured reserve.

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