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Cassel listed as starter on first Vikings’ depth chart

Cassel AP

Despite splitting first-team reps with Matt Cassell, Vikings rookie Teddy Bridgewater remains the No. 2 quarterback on the team’s depth chart.

The Vikings have released an unofficial depth chart, and the biggest revelation entering the preseason slate of games seems to be that Cassel will start the first preseason game, against the Raiders.

Cassel and Bridgewater, based on the splitting of reps, could have been listed as co-starters, which the Vikings have done at the left cornerback position, identifying both Captain Munnerlyn and Josh Robinson as first-stringers.  For now, it’s Cassel and then the rookie, and then Christian Ponder.

The rest of the offensive depth chart has no surprises.  Cordarrelle Patterson starts at the “X” receiver.  Greg Jennings starts as the flanker in a two-receiver set, and as the “Z” receiver when the Vikings use a slot receiver.

On defense, rookie first-rounder Anthony Barr is the starter on the strongside.  Chad Greenway, after a limited experiment in the middle, is back on the weakside.  Jasper Brinkley is the starting middle linebacker.

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Jeff Fisher on Jared Goff: “We have our own sense of timing here with him”

Los Angeles Rams head coach Jeff Fisher gestures after the Rams defeated the Seattle Seahawks in an NFL football game at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae Hong) AP

With so many young quarterbacks flourishing — specifically No. 2 overall pick Carson Wentz — the Rams continue to justify sitting No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff.

The Rams first-round pick has moved up to being the backup, after starting the season as the inactive third quarterback behind Case Keenum and Sean Mannion, but Rams coach Jeff Fisher said he’s unmoved by peer pressure as other rookies have success.

“No,” he replied when asked if the gains of others changed their plan, via Alden Gonzalez of “I spoke on that. I’m happy for young quarterbacks when they have success, but we have our own sense of timing here with him.

“The quarterbacks are having success because of injuries. As I mentioned last week, had we not had the injuries that we did in the league, probably all four of those quarterbacks either would be inactive or backups.”

While that’s certainly true of Dak Prescott (Tony Romo), Jacoby Brissett (Jimmy Garoppolo) and Cody Kessler (Robert Griffin III and Josh McCown), the injury that got Wentz into the lineup happened in Minnesota, as the Eagles were able to trade Sam Bradford for a haul when the Vikings lost Teddy Bridgewater.

But that doesn’t take away from the salient point, which is a few of those guys are playing really well, specifically Wentz and Prescott.

The Rams finally scored a touchdown last week, which will only serve to embolden the Rams to stick with Case Keenum for the short term. But the longer you see other teams not fail miserably just because they’re playing a rookie, the Rams may eventually come to realize they’ve overthought this one.

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Justin Pugh: Odell Beckham wasn’t a distraction

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 25:  Odell Beckham #13 of the New York Giants celebrates after a reception against the Washington Redskins in the second half at MetLife Stadium on September 25, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) Getty Images

Giants coach Ben McAdoo said Monday that wide receiver Odell Beckham still needs to do a better job of controlling his emotions after Beckham threw a sideline tantrum last Sunday that ended with tears in his eyes and a welt on his face as a result of a run-in with a kicking net.

Among the reasons why McAdoo wants to see Beckham check himself is because he thinks he becomes “a distraction to himself and his teammates,” but one of Beckham’s teammates disagrees with the coach’s assessment of the impact of Beckham’s activities. Left guard Justin Pugh said Tuesday that he has his mind on what he needs to do and not on watching to see if Beckham takes a swing at inanimate objects while stalking up and down the sideline.

“No, I didn’t find it distracting,” Pugh said, via “But, obviously, I’m also out there playing. I’m not sitting, watching what’s going on the whole time. I’ve got to worry about what I have to do. Obviously he’s one of the leaders of this team. He’s an emotional guy. We just have to make sure that those emotions are driven to going out there on the field and performing. I think he knows that, he knows that for sure.”

The far more damaging thing for the Giants would be to lose Beckham to another suspension or an injury generated by one of his gyrations. Pugh offered a reminder that Beckham didn’t play when the Giants lost to the Vikings last season as a result of his one-game suspension for his behavior in the team’s loss to the Panthers and they’ll certainly need their top wideout to attract notice for his play if they’re going to avoid another loss to Minnesota next Monday.

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Bruce Arians: Too many young guys are doing their own thing

ORCHARD PARK, NY - SEPTEMBER 25:  Head Coach Bruce Arians of the Arizona Cardinals talks with  Carson Palmer #3 of the Arizona Cardinals during the first half against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field on September 25, 2016 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Cardinals are 1-2 after getting thumped by the Bills last Sunday, leaving coach Bruce Arians to say that the “biggest thing is be honest and identify problems” with the team that can be corrected before the record gets any worse.

Arians made that comment on Sirius XM NFL Radio during an appearance with Alex Marvez and Bill Polian and he also revealed one of the problems that he’s identified with the team.

“We have some really, really good leaders,” Arians said. “But to be a good leader, the others have to follow you. We’ve got a lot of young guys. We have some new faces that are doing their own thing and not following the example set by these guys. And it’s a two-way street. They can only lead you to water, but you’ve got to drink it. And some of these young guys have got to get out of old habits and get in with the Cardinal Way.”

The Cardinals haven’t scored in the first quarter this season and they’ve also struggled coming out of the locker room in the third quarter in their two losses, two things that could be attributed to a lower level of focus than Arians might like from his team. There are more tangible things to point to, including an offense that might have too many eggs in the long pass basket, and working on both fronts will be the route back to a winning record.

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Wednesday morning one-liners

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - SEPTEMBER 25: Head Coach Adam Gase of the Miami Dolphins talks to Ryan Tannehill during a timeout in the 1st quarter against the Cleveland Browns on September 25, 2016 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images) Getty Images

Dolphins coach Adam Gase likes the way QB Ryan Tannehill is taking control of the offense.

The Bills have juggled their practice squad.

The Patriots are expecting a challenge from the Bills’ running game.

The Jets’ decision to sign troubled TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins is an odd one.

The Ravens lead the league with 10 blocked kicks since 2014.

Can Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict make some game-changing plays in his return from a suspension?

Hue Jackson needs the Browns’ offense to sustain longer drives.

The Steelers have just one sack through three games.

Texans DE Devon Still visited cancer patients at Texas Children’s Hospital.

The Colts think their young safeties will shape the defense for years to come.

It’s been a rough month for Jaguars QB Blake Bortles.

Titans QB Marcus Mariota needs to cut down on the turnovers.

The Broncos’ opponents are finding that there aren’t many ways to beat Denver’s defense.

A former college basketball player, Chiefs TE Demetrius Harris is proving himself a versatile NFL player.

Raiders OT Vadal Alexander has made a big difference on the offensive line.

Chargers fans should cheer Saints QB Drew Brees in his return to San Diego on Sunday.

Cowboys WR Cole Beasley is laughing off the big hit he took against the Bears on Sunday.

The Giants have some important moves to make to replace three injured players.

Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is bolstering his reputation with a big start to the season.

In Washington, they’re saying Kirk Cousins outplayed Eli Manning in Sunday’s win over the Giants.

Bears coach John Fox is loyal to his assistants, maybe to a fault.

The Lions are improving the Wi-Fi at Ford Field.

Should the Packers be concerned that they only won by 7 points on Sunday, after leading by 28?

The Vikings deserve a lot of credit for the way they’ve approached the first three games of the season.

Falcons QB Matt Ryan says he’s “good to go” despite a thumb injury.

Panthers QB Cam Newton deserves some of the blame for the eight sacks he took on Sunday.

The Saints’ message after their 0-3 start is all about accountability.

The Buccaneers are using their backup offensive linemen as extra blockers in short-yardage situations.

Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians is feeling some heat.

Penalties are a concern for the Rams.

The 49ers’ defense is a work in progress.

Should the Seahawks sit Russell Wilson on Sunday?

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Football still out-draws debate, if only in New Orleans

saintsfan AP

While most of America seemed to be watching the debate instead of football Monday night, New Orleans clearly voted none of the above and watched their beloved Saints instead.

Nationally, ratings for the Monday Night Football game between the Saints and Falcons were way down, with a 36 percent drop from last year’s Week Three game.

But in New Orleans, the combined ratings for football exceeded those for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the combined ratings for the debate on numerous channels was 32.7, while the Saints game on ESPN (12.8) and local affiliate WDSU (26.3) did a combined 39.1.

The game was only shown on ESPN in Atlanta, as local affiliates carried the debate instead, with ESPN carrying a 14.1 rating there.

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Thumb’s fine, Matt Ryan’s pride bruised after apparent business decision

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) passes in the first half of an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints in New Orleans, Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Bill Feig) AP

Matt Ryan’s thumb seems to be OK. His pride, on the other hand, might be a little sore.

The Falcons quarterback said his left thumb was no issue, after finishing Monday’s game with a glove on it following a hit from Nick Fairley.

“I’m good,” Ryan said on his weekly radio show on 680 The Fan, via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It just got banged up kind of in the pocket. I wanted to make sure so I threw a glove on there so I could have a good grip, but I feel good this morning.

I’m good to go. I’ll be ready to go out to practice on Wednesday.”

And when he gets there, he’ll probably still be hearing it from his friends and teammates about the flop he took late in the game, when he was in position to block Fairley on a cutback run by Devonta Freeman, but instead either got his feet tangled up or made a business decision and went down before the 308-pound Fairley could destroy him.

That was bad,” Ryan said with a laugh, via “Free did such a good job. I didn’t really anticipate the ball coming back that way. And when he did, I just kind of wanted to get in the way and make sure he could outrun him. And I caught an edge on my cleat and fell. It probably ended up for the best because [Fairley] was kind of eyeing on me pretty good. He would have hit me pretty good. Not my finest moment, but a good play for us nonetheless.”

Freeman gained 16 yards on the play, no thanks to Ryan.

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LeGarette Blount has allowed the Patriots to get away with any old QB

New England Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount (29) celebrates his touchdown with the End Zone Militia during the second half of an NFL football game against the Houston Texans Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) AP

The Patriots coaching staff, particularly Bill Belichick, has gotten plenty of credit for getting the team through three quarters of Tom Brady’s suspension without a loss.

But they wouldn’t have been able to do it without LeGarrette Blount.

The veteran running back’s actually leading the NFL with 298 rushing yards, and particularly in the last two games, has shown he can still be the kind of bell-cow back a team needs when there’s uncertainty at quarterback.

“I know what people say, but you still have to be able to run the football in this league,” Blount told Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald. “When it’s an obvious run situation, and a lot of teams know it’s an obvious run situation, you’ve got to be able to run the football. Some of our runs have come on missed tackles and bad run reads on the defensive side, but if you do everything right, like we’ve been doing, you’re going to get a couple of good plays.”

He’s had more than a couple. He’s gone for over 100 yards each of the last two weeks, carrying the load when Jimmy Garoppolo injured his shoulder midway through the Dolphins game and then when Jacoby Brissett started last week against the Texans. For a guy who was no lock to make the roster out of training camp, that’s pretty impressive.

“I didn’t know. I just did whatever they told me to do and made sure I stayed prepared,” Blount said. “I just did everything I could to make sure I stayed ready for the moment. Whenever my number is called, I just go out there and make the best of an opportunity, and do whatever the team needs to make us win.”

That’s meant being ready to carry the ball, a lot, with 20 or more carries in each of the first three games. And without knowing who will be under center this week against the Bills, it’s reasonable to assume that streak will continue.

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Report: Giants center Weston Richburg fined for taunting

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - AUGUST 22:   Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants calls out the play as  Weston Richburg #70 prepares to make the snap in the first quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars during preseason action at MetLife Stadium on August 22, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

Giants center Weston Richburg became the first player to be ejected from a game for picking up two separate unsportsmanlike conduct penalties under the new league rule requiring disqualification for such offenses.

The latter of the two penalties Richburg incurred has now led to a fine as well.

According to Adam Schefter of, Richburg has been fined $12,000 for taunting Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman. Richburg is appealing the fine.

Richburg was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for loudly and profanely (the interaction was clearly heard on the TV broadcast) disagreeing with a holding call against him. Then in the fourth quarter, Richburg blocked Norman from behind on a catch and run by Odell Beckham. He then turned around and stood over Norman, which drew the second flag and the ejection.

Richburg felt the umpire was out to get him. Now the league is out to get in his wallet.

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Wednesday’s PFT Live asks which undefeated team will be the last to lose

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 18:  Strong safety T.J. Ward #43 of the Denver Broncos tackles tight end Jack Doyle #84 of the Indianapolis Colts in the red zone in the third quarter of the game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 18, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) Getty Images

Wednesday’s PFT Live features a visit from safety T.J. Ward of the 3-0 Broncos. Which meshes well with the question of the day: Which 3-0 team will be the last to lose?

The candidates are the Broncos, Eagles, Patriots, Ravens, and Vikings.

The Eagles definitely won’t lose this weekend; they don’t play. The other four do.

Cast a vote here, argue your case in the comments, and tune in at 6:00 a.m. ET on the radio side, 7:00 a.m. ET for the NBCSN simulcast.

Also joining us will be Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald. The Dolphins face the Bengals on a short week, after narrowly defeating the Browns on Sunday.

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Antonio Brown confirms he was told to change shoes or stay in the locker room

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 25:   Malcolm Jenkins #27 of the Philadelphia Eagles breaks up a pass to Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the second quarter at Lincoln Financial Field on September 25, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) Getty Images

Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown changed out of his yellow and blue shoes at halftime of last weeks loss to the Eagles, but not by choice.

On his weekly Pittsburgh radio show Tuesday night, Brown confirmed that game officials gave him a choice: Change his shoes or stay in the locker room.

That was first reported by Mark Kaboly of

Brown changed his shoes for the second half. His yellow and blue shoes were an NFL uniform violation.

When Brown was fined for his blue shoes and his touchdown dance in the season opener, he said the fines were “nothing to a boss.” But the boss wanted to keep playing, so he changed his shoes last Sunday.

He can expect another fine this week.

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Report: Cardinals to sign long snapper Aaron Brewer

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After parting with long snapper Kameron Canaday after a botched field goal snap that led to a Buffalo Bills touchdown last week, the Arizona Cardinals brought in a pair of long snappers for tryouts on Tuesday.

According to Josh Weinfuss of, former Denver Broncos and Chicago Bears long snapper Aaron Brewer won the competition and will be signed by the Cardinals.

Brewer and Tyler Ott both worked out for Arizona on Tuesday.

Ott has appeared in just one regular season game playing for the New York Giants last season. He has also spent time with the New England Patriots and St. Louis Rams during previous offseasons.

Brewer has played in 64 games for the Denver Broncos over the last four seasons. He spent the offseason with the Chicago Bears before being released.

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Texans will sign Antonio Smith

Antonio Smith AP

The Texans are planning to sign veteran defensive end Antonio Smith to a one-year deal, PFT has learned.

The signing will become official Wednesday when the Texans place All-Pro defensive end J.J. Watt on injured reserve. Watt re-injured his back in last Thursday night’s loss to the Patriots.

Smith, 34, played for the Texans from 2009-13. He played in all 16 games as a backup for the Broncos last season.

Smith has 47 career sacks in 173 career games, 133 starts. He entered the league as a fifth-round pick of the Cardinals in 2004.

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Colin Kaepernick calls debate “embarrassing to watch”

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump listens to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton during the presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) AP

In the week of the first presidential debate, neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton but Colin Kaepernick occupied the cover of Time. On Tuesday, Kaepernick was asked if he saw the 98-minute back-and-forth.

I watched a little bit of it,” Kaepernick told reporters, via Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group. “To me it was embarrassing to watch that these are our two candidates. Both are proven liars and it almost seems they’re trying to debate who’s less racist. At this point . . . you have to pick the lesser of two evils but in the end it’s still evil.”

Plenty of people feel the same way as Kaepernick. Regardless, in a nation of 319 million people, these are our two primary options.

At a time when the country seems to be more divided than ever, we seem to be destined to become even more divided, regardless of the outcome of the election.

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J.J. Watt could miss rest of season with back injury

HOUSTON, TX- OCTOBER 09: J.J. Watt #99 of the Houston Texans celebrates an Indianapolis Colts fumble after he returned it for a touchdown in the fourth quarter in a NFL game on October 9, 2014 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) Getty Images

Football’s top defensive player could be done for the year.

Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt has re-injured his back and is expected to miss significant time, possibly the rest of the season, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports.

According to the report, the Texans are still gathering information about the injury, which he apparently suffered Thursday night in New England.

Watt was dealing with a back injury throughout the offseason, and after he underwent surgery to repair a herniated disc, there were some reports over the summer that he might not be able to return in time for the beginning of the regular season. He has played all three games this year, but he hasn’t looked like himself.

Now the Texans may be looking at playing the rest of 2016 without the three-time NFL defensive player of the year. That would be a massive loss to the playoff hopes of the team that is currently leading the AFC South.

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Seahawks look at eight players, but no quarterbacks

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 25:  Quarterback Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks warms up prior to the game against the San Francisco 49ers at CenturyLink Field on September 25, 2016 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) Getty Images

If Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson can’t play on Sunday with a knee injury, the team apparently will be content to roll the dice with undrafted rookie Trevone Boykin.

On Tuesday, the Seahawks tried out eight players. None were quarterbacks.

Getting look-sees were running backs Bernard Pierce, Kenny Hilliard, Tommy Bohanan, and Darrel Young, defensive back Chimdi Chekwa, receiver Jamel Johnson, linebacker Randell Johnson, and defensive end Rufus Johnson.

Wilson has a sprained MCL. If it’s a low-grade tear, he should be able to play. Coach Pete Carroll has said that Wilson will practice on Wednesday.

The team’s interest in running backs comes from the leg injury suffered nine days ago by Thomas Rawls.

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