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Ray Rice doesn’t appeal suspension, fine

Ray Rice, Janay Palmer AP

There are plenty of people who felt that the league did not impose the proper discipline on Ravens running back Ray Rice last week when they suspended him for two games and fined him an additional game check from the 2013 season in response to Rice’s February arrest for assaulting his wife and subsequent entry into a pre-trial diversion program.

The reaction of those people, most of whom saw the footage of Rice dragging an unconscious Janay Palmer out of an elevator, has been that Rice was not punished severely enough by a league that they feel has imposed harsher discipline on others for less egregious offenses.

Rice is not among the displeased. He had three days to appeal the penalty, but Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that window closed without Rice making any attempt to plead his case for a lighter penalty. Given the overwhelmingly negative response to the league’s initial decision and their actions in comparable situations, Rice probably didn’t have much chance of getting the penalty reduced and reacted accordingly.

That means he’ll miss the first two games of the season, but will be able to participate in training camp and preseason games before the suspension kicks in.

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As Geno struggles, Vick looms

Vick Getty Images

Coach Rex Ryan still supports quarterback Geno Smith.  Because Smith needs support right now.  Because it’s not going well for him.  And because if it doesn’t turn around, it’s just a matter of time before Rex can no longer afford to support Geno Smith.

Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News points out that, as Smith continues to turn the ball over, veteran Mike Vick looms.  Vick, with more experience and arguably more talent than Smith, wasn’t given a chance to compete for the starting job — and he wasn’t afraid to say so.

Soon, fear of getting fired could get Rex to make a change.  With the 2-1 Lions coming to town followed by games against the 2-1 Chargers, the 2-1 Broncos, and the 2-1 Patriots on a short week, the margin for error is starting to shrink, and the climb is getting steeper.

While Rex continues to support Geno Smith, he hasn’t ruled out giving Vick more playing time.  At this point, it’s impossible to rule out Vick getting all of the playing time.  Especially if the mistakes and losses continue to pile up in the coming weeks.

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Jonathan Goodwin’s high ankle sprain forces Saints shuffle

Drew Brees AP

The Saints are going to have to do some shuffling up front, as it appears center Jonathan Goodwin is going to miss some time.

According to Mike Triplett of ESPN.com, Goodwin suffered a high ankle sprain in Sunday’s win over the Vikings, and will miss some time.

That leaves the job to Tim Lelito, who worked with the ones during training camp before Goodwin rejoined the team.

“I think we felt the whole time like we had two starters, and whoever they named the opening day starter was fine with us,” Saints right tackle Zach Strief said. “We feel good about both of ‘em. And hopefully we’ll get Goody back sooner than later.”

Strief said “nothing changed” when Lelito entered the game, but there was that one thing.

On his first snap, he launched a shotgun snap past quarterback Drew Brees, though Brees said he owned some of the blame for not fielding it.

“Listen, I gotta play shortstop,” said Brees, who went to Lelito to encourage him after that play. “I can’t let those balls get by me. I don’t care if they’re low, high, coming in hot, whatever. That’s my job. So I’m as mad at myself as anybody.”

He’ll need to work on turning that double play this week, because it appears Lelito is going to be feeding him for the next few weeks.

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Tuesday morning one-liners

Denard Robinson, Malliciah Goodman AP

Was Bills coach Doug Marrone too conservative against the Chargers?

The Dolphins defense wants to find a better approach to stopping the run.

The Patriots offense didn’t earn a high grade this week.

There were plenty of red zone chances for the Jets on Monday night.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh likes the team’s running back depth.

Said Bengals QB Andy Dalton, “We’re playing with a lot of confidence. It’s not just one side of the ball, it’s every phase of the game. It makes it fun. We have a lot of great guys on this team, and the coaching staff has done a good job of making it fun.”

The Browns could make some changes on special teams.

Power football helped the Steelers to a Sunday night win.

T Duane Brown said the Texans should learn a lot from their loss to the Giants.

The Colts offensive line has handled a slew of injuries fairly well.

Jaguars RB Denard Robinson’s playing time is going up.

Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt wants to see more discipline from his team.

LB Danny Trevathan hopes to rejoin the Broncos defense in Week Five.

The Chiefs expect RB Jamaal Charles and S Eric Berry to practice this week.

Raiders LB Khalil Mack felt good about his performance against the Patriots.

The Chargers have gotten a boost from their tight ends this season.

A late interception might not be enough to keep Cowboys CB Morris Claiborne in a prominent role.

S Stevie Brown appears to have fallen out of favor with the Giants.

The Eagles didn’t generate any pass rush against the Redskins.

It’s a crowded Redskins injury report with Thursday’s game approaching quickly.

Bears coach Marc Trestman pushed a lot of the right buttons on Monday night.

Lions coach Jim Caldwell isn’t concerned with the lack of production from the team’s rookies.

The Packers haven’t gotten much from their tight ends.

QB Christian Ponder is back in the No. 2 spot on the Vikings depth chart.

Falcons DT Ra’Shede Hageman will be returning to Minnesota in Week Four.

The Panthers don’t want WR/PR Philly Brown to apologize for Sunday night’s botched punt.

Saints WR Brandin Cooks continued building a strong rookie season against the Vikings.

Injuries have hampered the Buccaneers’ efforts to get consistency on the defensive line.

Cardinals S Tyrann Mathieu is still building his confidence.

Rams coach Jeff Fisher took issue with the officiating in Sunday’s loss.

Said 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, “The mindset has to be, going forward, to fix. You push against something until it’s upright. That’s the process our team uses, and we have total belief in everybody associated with our program, coaches and players.”

Seahawks CB DeShawn Snead got engaged on the field after Sunday’s win.

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Mr. Electricity Jim Caldwell doesn’t want to curb players’ enthusiasm

Green Bay Packers v Detroit Lions Getty Images

The season-ending ACL tear suffered by Lions linebacker Stephen Tulloch while celebrating a sack is a textbook example of dumb luck.

But Lions coach Jim Caldwell said he won’t be changing his rulebook to keep players from expressing themselves in the future.

This is an emotional game,” Caldwell said, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “This is a game where guys have to go through quite a bit … to get accomplished what they’re trying to get [done]. It’s tough. Oftentimes you’re trying to defeat two to three people to get something done, and when it does indeed happen, when a guy lays it on the line, gives everything he has, it’s kind of an emotional reaction, oftentimes, and it’s tough to keep that under wraps.

“I think scoring touchdowns is a little bit different, but we want enthusiasm, we want our coaches to be excited about it, we want our players to be excited about it. So am I going to go with some kind of protocol that all of a sudden says, ‘Hey, never jump in the air, never do this?’ I’m not going to do that.”

Tulloch had played 131 straight games, but appeared to have torn his ACL with a hip-thrusting rendition of Aaron Rodgers‘ “discount double check” dance. Tulloch said it wasn’t planned in advance.

“You’re passionate about the game and you want to get up and celebrate, and people do it a million times, and it’s unfortunate that it happened to me,” he said. “But like I said, I’ve been healthy for nine years of my career; I’ve never missed a game, let alone damn near plays. Sitting on the sideline is new to me. It’s sickening, but I’ll be all right. I’ll get back right and be able to help this team move forward, if everything goes well.”

Caldwell suggested the injury might have occurred earlier in the game, but the way Tulloch went down as if hit by a sniper casts doubt on that.

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Hit on Welker not currently illegal, but it could be in 2015

Thomas Getty Images

Sunday’s Broncos-Seahawks game included a hit that has plenty of Denver fans crying foul that a foul wasn’t called.

Late in the fourth with the Broncos down 17-12 and facing third and 11 from the Seattle 24, quarterback Peyton Manning threw a pass to receiver Wes Welker.  Safety Kam Chancellor jumped up and intercepted the ball before it could get to the target.  Behind Chancellor, Welker absorbed a hit to the helmet from safety Earl Thomas.

A flag for unnecessary roughness would have overturned the turnover, giving Denver the ball back 12 yards closer to the end zone.

Per a league source, it was the right interpretation of the current rules.  Because Welker had not just made a catch, he did not fall within the “defenseless player” definition.  Likewise, because the interception had not clearly been completed, Welker did not enjoy the protections against a blind-side block.

The league nevertheless will study this specific situation in the offseason for a potential tweak to the rules that would give a receiver in that circumstance protection against the hit he absorbed in that specific situation.  For now, the hit landed in a gray area that allowed Thomas to avoid a flag and a fine.  In the future, that could change.

That won’t help Denver very much; they could have taken the lead 20-17 with less than two minutes to play, forcing Seattle to try to force overtime with a field goal, or to win it in regulation with a touchdown.

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Derek Carr: Raiders put a scare into the Patriots

derekcarr AP

The 0-3 Raiders aren’t exactly an intimidating presence in the NFL, but quarterback Derek Carr says they instilled fear in their opponents on Sunday.

Carr marched the Raiders deep into Patriots territory, and Oakland appeared to score a game-tying touchdown in the final minute of the fourth quarter before it was overturned on a penalty. Carr said the Raiders proved that they’re not an easy team to beat, and they’ll do the same this week, when they play the Dolphins in London.

“I guarantee we put a scare into them late and that’s for sure — no one expected that but we did,” Carr said. “That’s what we expect out of ourselves and now we’ve just got to finish it. It doesn’t matter if there was a holding call, it doesn’t matter what happens, it doesn’t matter we lost. We have to go back to work this week in London and fix what we need to fix. But if we come out with that same effort we’re going to be a good football team.”

The Raiders are a long way from being a good football team right now. But they did give the Patriots a good game. That’s a measure of progress.

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Lions expected to sign Josh Bynes

Josh Bynes, Brandon Tate AP

The Lions hired head coach Jim Caldwell and defensive coordinator Teryl Austin after they spent time on the coaching staff in Baltimore, where their paths crossed with linebacker Josh Bynes.

It looks like the paths will be crossing again. Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun reports that the Lions will sign Bynes off of the Ravens’ practice squad in the wake of losing Stephen Tulloch to a torn ACL.

Bynes got that practice squad spot thanks to the change in rules that opens up such positions to players with a fair amount of experience on the actual roster. Bynes has played in 26 games for the Ravens over the last three years, starting nine times and recording 79 tackles while picking up a Super Bowl ring after his second NFL season.

The move would return the Lions to six linebackers on the active roster. Given what happened to Tulloch, we’d suggest a limited celebration of that development.

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Tony Romo: Everything was firing for me on Sunday

Tony Romo AP

Early in last Sunday’s matchup with the Rams, it looked like it was going to be another one of those days for the Cowboys.

They fell behind the Rams 21-0 after Janoris Jenkins returned a Tony Romo interception for a touchdown, which seemed to signal that the Cowboys would have to deal with an ineffective quarterback for the third straight week. They got the Romo that they have long known and loved instead.

Romo was 12-of-15 for 172 yards and two touchdowns after the pick and the Cowboys came back for a 34-31 win that tied for the largest comeback in franchise history. Romo looked the best he’s looked all season, firing the ball downfield and moving out of trouble when pressure came to put together a vintage performance. It follows that Romo said he felt the best he’s felt on the field since his back surgery.

“I felt stronger, felt as if everything was firing, activation sequence, blah, blah, blah, stuff like that,” Romo said, via the Dallas Morning News. “That wasn’t necessarily as well as I wanted to probably play the first couple of weeks, but I’ve played through injury and stuff before. You just kind of manage it and play to the best of your ability.”

DeMarco Murray has been the most productive runner in the league through three weeks and the Cowboys have used him as judiciously as they ever have in his NFL career, something that should remain the case despite Romo’s return to form. Given the state of the defense, big deficits may not be so unusual over the next 13 games and the Cowboys will need both players if they want to continue being comeback artists.

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Jon Beason will practice this week in hopes of playing

New York Giants v Detroit Lions Getty Images

Giants linebacker Jon Beason wanted to play Sunday.

But he’s going to have to prove he’s able to practice this week before he gets another chance on Thursday.

The veteran linebacker was inactive for last week’s win over the Texans with his latest foot injury, but hopes to return to the field Thursday night against Washington.

“We’re going to see to what extent Jon can be a part of our on-the-field work [this week],” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said, via Jordan Raanan of NJ.com.

Beason thought the worst when he aggravated the injury in Week Two. But after a visit to foot specialist Dr. Robert Anderson in Charlotte (who knows Beason’s file well) and a change of shoes, he thinks he’ll get able to go this week.

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Martellus Bennett demands inflection when you talk about him

Bears Jets Football AP

Bears tight end Martellus Bennett doesn’t just want your respect.

He wants you to have the right tone of voice when you express it.

Bennett said he was angered that Jets coach Rex Ryan was monotone about his own abilities after talking about what “monsters” the Bears had at wide receiver.

“He was like, ‘Oh, yeah, the tight end is a big dude,'” Bennett said, via Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune. “I was kind of pissed about that. I feel like when someone talks about me, they should have some type of enthusiasm.”

If he wants an enthusiastic response, he won’t have to look far. He caught five passes for 54 yards and two touchdowns last night. He leads the Bears in receptions with 20, he’s second in receiving yards, and has four touchdowns, at least one in each game.

“I’m a lot better player than I was last year,” Bennett said. “This summer I took a whole lot of time to work on my game, and I saw a lot of things. Last year was my second year of really being ‘the guy,’ and I was still learning a lot, still learning how to play football.

“Right now, I feel like I’m very intelligent on the field with my style of play and my preparation.”

We agree, and the results speak for themselves. Or perhaps we should say WE AGREE!!!!!

(Was that OK, Martellus?)

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Geno Smith’s uneven again, but Rex Ryan still has his back

Bears Jets Football AP

There were some good fantasy stats involved, but in last night’s loss to the Bears, Jets quarterback Geno Smith raised his turnover total to five.

Two more interceptions go with his previous two picks and a fumble to undermine his first three games, but Jets coach Rex Ryan was quick to defend him afterward.

Guys, this ain’t the same quarterback he was at the beginning of last year,” Ryan said of Smith, via Dom Cosentino of NJ.com. “I don’t care what people say. Did he make a mistake, he wasn’t perfect? Yeah, absolutely. Their quarterback [Jay Cutler] made a mistake, but the difference is they caught the ball, and we didn’t.”

That was a dropped interception by Antonio Allen, but that didn’t change the generally undisciplined game Smith played, with a pick-six and another interception in the end zone to kill a drive which could have gotten the Jets back in the game.

Smith was moving the Jets between the 20s, spreading the ball to nine different receivers, and racking up 316 passing yards. But they only got one touchdown out of six trips to the red zone, and that was the difference.

“We’ve got to figure that out right now, and it starts with myself,” Smith said. “I’ve got to make sure when we get down in that red zone—we were 1-for-6 today, and that’s completely awful. We don’t expect to ever go 1-for-6 because we hold ourselves to a high standard, and that starts with me having a turnover, or having some plays where I maybe take a sack—something that happens that doesn’t allow us to score seven points.”

Ryan was asked whether he considered going to backup Michael Vick, but Ryan insisted Smith was his guy.

How long that lasts depends largely on Smith.

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Kam Chancellor nursing bone spurs in his ankle

Chancellor AP

Seattle Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor certainly didn’t look all that limited against the Denver Broncos on Sunday.

However, it appears that the ankle issue that forced him to miss practice last Wednesday and land on the injury report was more troublesome than it seemed.

According to Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports, Chancellor is dealing with bone spurs in his ankle that had the team considering surgery with the team set for their bye this week. If they had elected for surgery, Chancellor would have likely missed 6-8 weeks. Because the team already used their one reserve/injured-designation to return card on cornerback Jeremy Lane, they would have had to carry him on their active roster the whole time.

Head coach Pete Carroll said Monday that the ankle injury had really affected Chancellor’s play in Seattle’s loss in Week 2 to the San Diego Chargers.

“He’s had ankle issues for some time,” Carroll said. “His ankle really bothered him in the San Diego game. It was on fire. It really got in the way of his play.”

But the team believes they’ve found a treatment plan to keep Chancellor’s ankle problems quieted down to where it won’t affect his play.

“[The trainers] found a couple things that they could do to help him,” Carroll said. “…We didn’t have a great outlook going into the week, we weren’t sure, but it just turned really quickly on Thursday and fortunately he came flying back.”

Chancellor had nine tackles, two passes defended, a forced fumble and a key interception of Peyton Manning in the fourth quarter that preserved Seattle’s five-point lead.

“Man, it felt great today,” Chancellor told, via Garafolo. “Last week, it was bothering me. But this week, it felt amazing. We did some different stuff to fix it up, fix the shoes and stuff and it felt awesome.”

It is still an issue the team will have to continue to monitor throughout the season.

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49ers, Cardinals fans involved in bloody melee

49ers Cardinals Football AP

Following the NFL’s realignment in 2002, the four teams placed in the new NFC West didn’t really have histories that led to heated rivalries between the teams.

The Seattle Seahawks had been a member of the AFC. The Arizona Cardinals had been in the NFC East and the rivalry between the Rams and San Francisco 49ers didn’t feel like it carried over when the Rams moved to St. Louis in 1995.

Now over a decade into the new alignment, the rivalries on the field have heated up and apparently carried over to the stands as well.

According to Andrew Joseph of AZCentral.com, a massive brawl broke out in the stands during the Cardinals 23-14 victory over the 49ers on Sunday afternoon.

Several fights occurred in that section of the stadium during the game.

In a video posted to Youtube that has since been removed, a group of close to 10-20 fans appeared to be involved in the incident. After some pushing and shoving with punches thrown, a handful of bodies tumbled down a staircase in the stadium as the fight enveloped security as well that was attempting to quell the melee.

In the aftermath, blood could be seen splattered over the stadium’s staircase.

One person was arrested with several others ejected from the stadium.

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Report: Cardinals signing RB Marion Grice

Marion Grice AP

The Cardinals are reportedly adding another reserve tailback.

The club has reached a deal with rookie Marion Grice, a member of the Chargers’ practice squad, Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune reported Monday.

The Chargers selected Grice (6-0, 208) in Round Six of the 2014 draft. He led San Diego in rushing in the preseason, but he was waived on Sept. 1 before being re-signed to the practice squad.

The signing of Grice, once official, will give the Cardinals five tailbacks, with Stepfan Taylor, Jalen Parmele and Robert Hughes the other backups behind lead back Andre Ellington. The signing would also give Arizona 54 players without another roster move, so a corresponding transaction is coming.

The Cardinals’ addition of Grice comes with the Chargers having just two healthy running backs (Donald Brown, Branden Oliver). The Chargers lost Danny Woodhead to a season-ending leg injury in the Week Three win at Buffalo, and starter Ryan Mathews is dealing with a knee injury. San Diego will almost certainly add at least one more back before Sunday’s game vs. Jacksonville.

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Report: Manti Te’o has broken foot, out “multiple weeks”

Manti Te'o AP

Yet another foot injury will sideline Manti Te’o.

Te’o, a starting inside linebacker for the Chargers, will be out “multiple weeks” with a fractured right foot, Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune reported Monday.

The 23-year-old Te’o recorded 10 tackles in the Chargers’ 22-10 win at Buffalo on Sunday. The former Notre Dame star and 2013 second-round pick has been a starter since joining San Diego, appearing in 16 games over two seasons with 80 tackles and four passes defended. According to the Union-Tribune, Kavell Conner is likely to replace Te’o in the lineup.

Te’o has suffered injuries to both feet since entering the NFL last spring. He had right foot surgery in the offseason, and he dealt with a left foot ailment this summer. Te’o’s current right foot injury is a new ailment, and it is one that will not necessitate him landing on injured reserve, the Union-Tribune said.

The Chargers have won two games in a row. They are heavy favorites against winless Jacksonville next Sunday.

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