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Marc Trestman: Very impressive to watch Jay Cutler make organization better

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The Bears’ 2013 season sank largely because of a defense that struggled to stop opposing offenses, but head coach Marc Trestman saw things to dislike about the offense as well.

Trestman says that the offense left a lot of plays on the field last season and that he “never felt that we were that productive” on offense despite numbers that tell a different story. Trestman’s feelings about the offense overall were not the same as his feelings about quarterback Jay Cutler, however. Trestman says he never lost confidence in Jay Cutler, who signed an extension this offseason, being the right man to start at quarterback for the team.

“The number one thing from my standpoint is the way that he has invested in the Chicago Bears,” Trestman said, via the Chicago Tribune. “Jay has been emotionally and selflessly invested in ways that he wouldn’t talk about. But he really cares about this organization and every day he’s a very, very observant person and he’s a very proactive person in terms of inserting himself in all areas of this building to help this organization get better. I’ll just leave it at that. But it has been very, very impressive to watch how he has worked intelligently and selflessly to do that.”

The Bears fell short of a playoff berth last season, but it was still a promising first year in Chicago for the former CFL head coach. Even if it falls short of Trestman’s high expectations, Cutler and the offense should be strong again this season. The defense’s improvement will determine how far that offense can take them and it seems Trestman’s comfortable giving Cutler the reins of the offense while he and the staff work to create that improvement.

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Hall re-tore Achilles by slipping while getting pizza

Noid

The Noid strikes back.

For the second straight year, a pizza-related incident has resulted in an injury to an NFL player.  Last year, former Lions receiver Nate Burleson broke an arm in a car accident that happened after Burleson tried to keep a pizza from falling onto the floor.

This year, Washington cornerback DeAngelo Hall re-tore his surgically-repaired Achilles tendon when he slipped and fell in his kitchen while getting a slice of pizza, according to Tarik El-Bashir of CSN Washington.

Hall will have a second surgery to re-attach the tendon.  At this point, there’s no reason to think he won’t be ready to go in 2015.

As long as he’s more careful during those late-night pizza runs.

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Joseph Randle and Dez Bryant try to step slowly away from spat

Maybe it’s the second-biggest mistake he’s ever made in his life.

Cowboys running back Joseph Randle, who has made all the wrong kind of headlines lately, was on the apology trail again after practice Friday.

According to Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Randle said he regrets everything he said during his booking on charges of stealing underwear and cologne.

That apparently includes asking a female cop for a massage in exchange for $100, and invoking teammates Dez Bryant and Josh Brent in an effort to minimize his own mistake.

The mention of Bryant triggered a spat at practice today, with veteran tight end Jason Witten stepping in to tell Randle to shut up.

Bryant tried to de-escalate the matter, telling Calvin Watkins of ESPNDallas.com it apparently wasn’t a deal of any substantive size.

“Oh man, it’s all good, it’s all right,” Bryant said. “That ain’t no big deal, it ain’t a big deal. It ain’t no big deal.”

Of course, the adventures of a backup running back wouldn’t be a big deal at all if he learned to pay for his own drawers and not talk too much.

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Illness has Jadeveon Clowney unlikely to play this weekend

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The Texans got linebacker Jadeveon Clowney back in the lineup last weekend after a long spell on the sideline following surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee, but coach Bill O’Brien indicated Friday that Clowney may not be able to play this Sunday.

Tania Ganguli of ESPN.com reports that O’Brien said that the chances of Clowney playing against the Eagles don’t look good at the moment.

It’s not a setback with his knee that is causing concern for the team, however. Ganguli reports that Clowney is ill and presumably that sickness has left him drained enough that the team is concerned he won’t be back to full strength in time for Sunday’s kickoff.

The Texans website doesn’t mention the illness, but calls Clowney a game-time decision and reports that the team will check him out on Saturday before making a final determination.

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A.J. Green on track to play, Giovani Bernard ruled out

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The Bengals announced some good news and some bad news for their offense on Friday.

The good news is that it looks like wide receiver A.J. Green should be in the lineup against the Jaguars this Sunday. Green has missed the last three weeks with a toe injury, but he practiced every day this week and coach Marvin Lewis said on Friday that he should play this weekend.

“A.J. has looked fine,” Lewis said, via the team’s website. “He wants to play. He’s telling everybody he wants to play. If everything stays the way it is, he’ll play.”

Green is officially listed as questionable and now it’s time to get to the bad news. Running back Giovani Bernard has been ruled out because of the hip injury that’s kept him out of practice this week. It’s a setback for the Bengals Offense, although it will likely give them a chance to take an extended look at rookie Jeremy Hill on Sunday. The Bengals play the Browns next Thursday night, but Lewis said it was too soon to say whether Bernard would be healthy enough to play at that point.

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Lovie Smith takes a jab at Mark Barron’s “passive” comment

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Now-Rams safety Mark Barron took a shot at his former team on the way out the door, so they returned fire.

After Barron referred to the Buccaneers Defense as “passive,” Bucs coach Lovie Smith took a dig at the former first round pick.

Via Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times, Smith was asked about wide receiver Mike Evans trying to chase down Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr during last week’s game-winning overtime fumble return.

“The effort he gave, he looked like a safety on that play,” Smith said. “One that wasn’t real passive on that play, going down and trying to strip the ball.”

Zing.

Then asked specifically about Barron’s comments, Smith defended his style.

“I’m not going to talk about any players that aren’t here anymore,” Smith said. “Our safety position that we play, one of the requirements isn’t for you to be passive, I will say that.”

That must be why the Bucs were willing to take a fourth- and a sixth-round pick in exchange for a guy who was the seventh overall pick of the 2012 NFL Draft, a choice not made while Smith was there.

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Bashaud Breeland headed for MRI after knee injury in practice

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Redskins rookie cornerback Bashaud Breeland had a strong game against Cowboys receivers Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams last Monday night as Washington was on its way to beating Dallas in overtime, but he may not get an immediate chance to follow up on it.

Coach Jay Gruden said, via Mike Jones of the Washington Post, that Breeland got his cleat caught in the grass during Friday’s practice and hurt his knee. Breeland is going to have an MRI so the team can assess the severity of the damage.

While we can’t know what the imaging will turn up, non-contact knee injuries have a habit of costing players a fair amount of time. If that’s the case for Breeland, it will interrupt his rookie season at a moment when things appeared to be coming together for him. Breeland saw his playing time rise after DeAngelo Hall’s initial Achilles tear and he’s responded to the increased responsibility well.

If Breeland is out, E.J. Biggers, Chase Minnifield and Tracy Porter are likely options to see increased playing time in his absence.

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Steelers having trouble filling stadium for night games

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The Pittsburgh Steelers have no issues when it comes to selling tickets.  When it comes to playing night games, however, the Steelers have a hard time  filling up the stadium.

As explained by Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, three of the last four Monday night games played at Heinz Field have featured 9,125, 7,856, and 7,346 no-shows.  Last December’s Sunday night game against the Bengals had a whopping 19,627 no-shows.

“It’s a Monday and people have to work on a Tuesday. I understand,” cornerback Ike Taylor told Kaboly.  “Everybody has to pay bills.  Those 9,000 people who couldn’t make it had some bills to pay.”

But it would be a little easier to pay the bills by selling the tickets via the online exchange program the NFL has adopted.  That’s the strangest part of this.  If you’re not going to the game, sell the tickets to any of the thousands of Western Pennsylvania/Eastern Ohio/Northern West Virginia resident who would love to go to a game, but who assume it’s too hard to get tickets.

It’s something the team and the league should promote, under the same reasoning that supports the blackout policy.  Full stadiums make games more compelling on TV.

In Pittsburgh, where those retina-scorching yellow seats become obvious to the viewer when asses aren’t in them, it’s even more important to fill those chairs with folks swinging yellow towels conceived by the man with the eardrum-scorching voice.

Indeed, if the late Myron Cope saw all those empty seats, he’d say “Hm-hah!” and “Triple yoi!” over a situation that should be anything but “okey dokel” in Pittsburgh.  Each of those chairs could be and should be occupied by Steelers fans cheering on the team to a win with the same enthusiasm that Cope always had.

So if you have tickets to Sunday night’s game against the Ravens but you don’t plan to go, take advantage of the available technology and stuff and sell those tickets to someone who’ll show up.

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Doug Martin not practicing Friday

Doug Martin AP

Buccaneers starting tailback Doug Martin could be set to miss his third game of the season.

According to Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times, Martin (ankle) wasn’t practicing Friday. And with Martin also sitting out Wednesday and Thursday’s workouts, his availability for Sunday’s contest at Cleveland seems tenuous at best.

It has been a tough season for Martin, a first-round pick in 2012. He’s rushed for just 166 yards on 58 carries, failing to exceed 45 yards in any of his five starts.

Backup Bobby Rainey will start if Martin is unavailable. Rainey filled in for the injured Martin in Weeks Two and Three and racked up 144 yards rushing in the Buccaneers’ Sept. 14 loss to St. Louis. Since then, however, Rainey has gained just 131 yards on 36 carries (3.6 yards per rush).

The good news for the Bucs? The Browns are allowing the third-most rushing yards per game (143.4) and second-most yards per rush (4.8).

Whether Tampa Bay can capitalize is another matter, though.

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Joseph Randle and Dez Bryant argue before Cowboys practice

Joseph Randle AP

Joseph Randle has managed to top himself, and this one is the kind of thing that could have consequences for him.

According to Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Cowboys running back has made his own dumb situation worse by dragging teammates into it, and it spilled over into practice today.

Randle and wide receiver Dez Bryant were apparently in a “snit,” before practice today, and veteran tight end Jason Witten had to step in and tell Randle to “shut up.”

It’s possible that it’s because of something Randle said during the infamous jailhouse video after his arrest for stealing underwear and cologne.

In addition to offering a female cop $100 for a massage, Randle committed an even dumber crime — he compared himself to a teammates’ situation.

Dez didn’t miss no games for smacking his momma,” Randle said during his booking on the theft charges, referencing Bryant’s 2012 arrest on family violence charges following an altercation with his mother.

He also referenced defensive tackle Josh Brent’s situation during his booking, in an apparent attempt to justify or lessen the seriousness of his own situation.

The amazing streak of stupidity involved in this case is breathtaking, as Randle seemingly doesn’t know not to take other people’s things, have any respect for law enforcement, or the good sense to keep a (more valuable) teammates’ name out of his mouth.

Randle doesn’t seem to have the good sense to shut up when he’s behind, and might eventually find out how replaceable a fifth-round running back can be.

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Darren Sproles, Todd Herremans and Jason Kelce all probable for Eagles

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The Eagles are set to get a couple of key offensive players back in the lineup this weekend.

The team released their final injury report of the week on Friday and running back Darren Sproles and center Jason Kelce are both probable to play against the Texans. Sproles missed last week’s loss to the Cardinals with a knee injury, but he’s been able to practice all week and should be back to his customary roles on both offense and special teams.

Kelce’s absence has been considerably longer following sports hernia surgery, but he’s been practicing for the last two weeks and hasn’t experienced any lingering limitations because of the injury. As a result, he’s expected to be in the starting lineup against Houston.

That brings the Eagles very close to having their intended starting offensive line together as left guard Evan Mathis is due back next week from injured reserve-recall. Right guard Todd Herremans tore a biceps muscle last weekend, but he practiced all week and was listed as probable for the game as well. Assuming Herremans holds up well enough to continue playing with an injury that typically requires surgery and a long spell on the shelf, the Eagles line should be whole as the second half of the season gets underway.

Safety Nate Allen is questionable with a hamstring injury, as is wide receiver Brad Smith as he continues rehab from his own sports hernia.

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Jordan Cameron not present at Friday practice

Jordan Cameron AP

The Browns seem likely to be without one of their key passing game targets in Week Nine.

Tight end Jordan Cameron wasn’t spotted at practice on Friday, Browns beat writer Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal reported. Cameron, who suffered a concussion in Sunday’s win vs. Oakland, has yet to participate in any practices this week.

Per NFL rules, Cameron — who’s suffered three concussions in a span of less than two calendar years — will have to be medically cleared to return to practice and game action.

With Cameron seemingly out, Jim Dray and Gary Barnidge are likely to be the top options at tight end for 4-3 Cleveland, which hosts Tampa Bay on Sunday.

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RG3: I’m not going to try to be a normal quarterback

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With Robert Griffin III’s return to the starting quarterback job all but certain, the question for the Redskins will shift from when will Griffin return to what kind of quarterback he’ll be when he’s back in the lineup.

Ever since Griffin has joined the team, there has been a tug-of-war between those that think he needs to tone down his running for the sake of safety as he becomes a more “traditional” quarterback and those that think his best path to success is being the same type of quarterback he’s been throughout his career. That debate was in the spotlight this preseason as Griffin appeared to struggle while making the transition to head coach Jay Gruden’s offensive scheme, which called for him to run less than he did in the Shanahan years.

Griffin gave an interview to the team’s website, his first since Gruden said he’ll start on Sunday barring any setbacks, and shared some of his thoughts on the matter.

“I’m ready to go, ready to play, get back out there with the guys and have fun. That’s what it is,” Griffin said. “God didn’t put us on this earth to be normal. So I’m not gonna go out there and try to be a normal quarterback. I’m gonna go out there and be the quarterback he’s called me to be.”

Whether he’s a “normal” quarterback or not, the Redskins need to figure out if he’s the right quarterback for them over the long term. That’s why he’ll return to the starting lineup despite Colt McCoy handling things well the last two weeks and it will be the biggest question to answer over the second half of Washington’s season.

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Giovani Bernard not present at practice Friday

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The Bengals’ leading rusher could be in danger of missing Sunday’s game vs. Jacksonville.

Tailback Giovani Bernard (hip/clavicle) wasn’t spotted at Friday’s practice, Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer reported this morning. Bernard didn’t participate in the Bengals’ first two workouts of the week, and a third straight missed practice would throw his status for Week Nine into doubt.

A second-year pro from North Carolina, Bernard has racked up 446 yards and five TDs on 109 carries this season, starting all seven games.

If Bernard can’t go, rookie running back Jeremy Hill would get the start for Cincinnati (4-2-1). The second-round pick from LSU has rushed for 195 yards and three TDs on 50 attempts.

While Bernard wasn’t present at practice, wideout A.J. Green (toe) was on the field Friday, Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com reported. Green is seeking to return to action after missing the last three games. The Pro Bowl receiver was a limited practice participant on Wednesday and Thursday after missing the previous eight workouts with his injury.

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Jerry says we’ll know if Romo is playing when inactives come in

Bush Library AP

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said today that the Cowboys won’t reveal whether or not Tony Romo can play Sunday until they turn in their list of inactive players on Sunday morning.

Jones said Romo is loosening up his back today and looks OK, but we’ll have to wait until we see whether Romo’s name is on the inactive list before kickoff to learn whether Romo or Brandon Weeden is the starter.

“He’s moving around, been in the meetings today,” Jones said on KRLD. “We make that decision at game time when it’s day to day. We turn that in, obviously you’ve got your 53-man roster and you’ve got to turn your actives in within an hour before the game, and that’s when you’ll know.”

Jones referenced his “Dr. Jones” nickname and said that he’s not involved with the decision, and all he knows is what he hears from Romo and the team’s medical staff. But Jones also hinted that the Cowboys may be purposely vague because they want the Cardinals to have to prepare for both Romo and Weeden.

“The more you can make that other thing cover preparation, cover different possibilities, I think that is a good thing,” Jones said.

It may be a good thing for the Cowboys to make the Cardinals guess. It won’t be a good thing for the Cowboys to be without Romo — or with a Romo who’s less than 100 percent healthy — when they take on the team with the best record in the NFC.

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Belichick has a bone to pick with meteorologists

belichick AP

Patriots coach Bill Belichick wishes the weatherman would get his act together.

Belichick said today that while wind or rain might affect Sunday’s game against the Broncos, he isn’t game planning for any particular weather because he doesn’t think the weather forecasts are particularly accurate.

“Based on the forecasts we’ve gotten so far this year, none of them were very close to what the game conditions were. There was a 100 percent chance of rain last week, and the only water I saw was on the Gatorade table,” Belichick said, via the Boston Globe. “It is what it is. We’ve got to be ready for whatever it is.”

Mark Twain once said that if you don’t like the weather in New England, you just have to wait 15 minutes for it to change. Beichick says there’s no point in even trying to predict the weather 48 hours in advance.

“My experience of going with the forecast, in this area, two days before the game, I’d bet a lot that they’re wrong, just based on history, because they’re almost always wrong,” Belichick said. “An hour before the game? Maybe, you might have something to work with there. But if you start game planning for what the weather is going to be and you game plan wrong, you’ve wasted a lot of time.”

Belichick waits until just before kickoff to give any thought to whether the weather should affect the Patriots’ play calling.

“When you walk out on the field, that’s really when you know what it is. The rest of it is a bunch of hot air,” he said. “We played down in Miami two years ago and there was a zero percent chance of rain – zero – and it rained. If I did my job the way they do theirs, I’d be here about a week.”

It was pointed out to Belichick that some meteorologists might take offense to his criticism.

“Look, I’m not saying I could do it better than them. I’m just saying they’re wrong a lot,” Belichick said. “That’s a fact. They’re wrong a lot.”

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