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Sam Bradford will play in Rams’ second preseason game

Sam Bradford AP

The Rams took the field for their preseason opener without many of the team’s projected starters, something that won’t be the case when they face the Packers on Saturday.

Among the debuting starters will be quarterback Sam Bradford. Coach Jeff Fisher said that Bradford will take the field for the first time since tearing his ACL last October.

“He’s going to play,” Fisher said, via the Belleville News-Democrat. “I haven’t decided how much, but he’s going to play this week.”

Fisher offered fewer specifics about some of the other missing players, like left tackle Jake Long and center Scott Wells, but did say he expected to have 15 or 16 of the 18 players who didn’t suit up against the Saints back in the lineup for the Green Bay game. No matter which other players are active, Bradford’s play will be heavily scrutinized as he enters his fifth NFL season with the jury still out on how well he fits the bill as a franchise quarterback in the NFL.

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Arbitrator also requires Newsome, Cass to testify

Newsome AP

Wednesday’s preliminary victory by the NFLPA and Ray Rice didn’t consist only of a requirement that Commissioner Roger Goodell testify in the appeal hearing regarding the indefinite suspension imposed on Rice.  The union and Rice also secured the ability to question two key members of the Ravens organization.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, former U.S. Judge Barbara S. Jones has required Ravens G.M. Ozzie Newsome and Ravens president Dick Cass to testify at the appeal hearing, which currently is set for November 5-6.

Judge Jones declined to require testimony from Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, coach John Harbaugh, and director of security Darren Sanders.

The roster of witnesses expected to testify at the hearing also includes Ray Rice, NFL senior V.P. of labor policy and government affairs Adolpho Birch, and NFL V.P. of security Jeff Miller.  It’s also possible that Janay Palmer Rice will testify, given that she, Ray, and Goodell reportedly had a private discussion regarding the incident that resulted initially in a two-game suspension, and then in an indefinite suspension.

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Broncos table contract talks with Demaryius and Julius Thomas

Denver Broncos vs New York Jets, NFL Getty Images

Broncos boss John Elway earned his reputation as a closer, primarily for landing quarterback Peyton Manning in free agency.

But he’s going to have plenty of work to do this offseason to maintain that image.

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, the Broncos have tabled contract talks with both wide receiver Demaryius Thomas and tight end Julius Thomas, as both play out their contracts this season.

They’ve negotiated with both players, but with no resolution imminent, have decided to wait until the offseason.

That’s a bold play, considering they’d have to get at least one of them done to be able use the franchise tag on the other, and both sides know that.

There’s also the small matter of wide receiver Wes Welker’s expiring deal, but he won’t be nearly as expensive or difficult to reach or replace.

It’s a risky hand of cards, but Elway plays at the high stakes table, and is used to winning.

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PFT’s Week Eight picks

Brees Getty Images

Last week, as the Saints built a supposedly insurmountable lead over the Lions, I taunted MDS with a link of Homer Simpson singing When the Saints Go Over There.  And I scoffed when he suggested I was celebrating prematurely.  Which of course cemented the looming jinx.

Back came the Lions and down went the Saints and MDS prevailed in the one game of 15 on which we disagreed.

For the week, MDS was 11-4 and I was 10-5.  For the season, he’s now at 70-36 (66 percent) and I’m at 65-41 (61.3 percent).

We disagree on two games this week.  And there will be no premature celebrating from me this week.  Or ever again.

Chargers at Broncos

MDS’s take: The battle for first place in the AFC West will feature two MVP candidates at quarterback, but the difference in my view is that the Broncos’ defense is playing almost as well as their offense. This will be a lower-scoring game than most people think, and that favors Denver.

MDS’s pick: Broncos 21, Chargers 10.

Florio’s take:  Last year, the Chargers caught the Broncos napping on a Thursday night in December.  This year, the Broncos are bracing for their rivals, and the midseason stakes are considerably higher.

Florio’s pick:  Broncos 38, Chargers 20.

Lions at Falcons

MDS’s take: What does an offense with good skill-position players and a terrible line look like? Like the 2014 Falcons, whose injuries up front have been devastating. The Lions’ defensive front will take advantage of the injury-riddled Atlanta line and improve to 6-2 with a win in London.

MDS’s pick: Lions 24, Falcons 13.

Florio’s take:  At least the Falcons won’t have to use a silent snap count for this home game, since it won’t be played in the Georgia Dome.  It won’t matter; Detroit’s defense is too good and Atlanta’s offensive line is too banged up.

Florio’s pick:  Lions 27, Falcons 17.

Seahawks at Panthers

MDS’s take: The Seahawks haven’t been playing their best football lately, but they’ve been playing better than the Panthers, whose defense has fallen apart. Seattle will get things turned around.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 28, Panthers 20.

Florio’s take:  Last year, the Panthers took the Seahawks to the limit in Week One, an outcome that became more impressive for Carolina as the season unfolded.  This year, Carolina’s defense is coming apart at the seams, and the Seahawks’ performance have been spotty enough to trigger the kind of external criticism that could put a much-needed chip back on their shoulders.

Florio’s pick:  Seahawks 30, Panthers 20.

Ravens at Bengals

MDS’s take: Cincinnati dominated when these two teams met in Week One, but Baltimore has looked like the much better team recently. The Ravens are playing so well in all three phases of the game that I just can’t pick against them right now.

MDS’s pick: Ravens 21, Bengals 20.

Florio’s take:  The Bengals won in Baltimore to start the season.  But the Bengals are struggling without a deep threat to stretch the field (assuming A.J. Green remains out), and the Ravens have found their groove.

Florio’s pick:  Ravens 24, Bengals 17.

Dolphins at Jaguars

MDS’s take: The Jaguars got their first win on Sunday. Can they make it two in a row? Not against the Dolphins, who are a much better team than most people realize. Miami will win this one easily.

MDS’s pick: Dolphins 30, Jaguars 14.

Florio’s take:  This is exactly the kind of game the Dolphins could lose, a week after a thrilling road win in Chicago.  The upset is tempting, but the Dolphins presumably won’t take the Jags lightly a week after the Browns did.

Florio’s pick:  Dolphins 24, Jaguars 13.

Rams at Chiefs

MDS’s take: The two Missouri teams pulled off two surprising upsets last week, but I see the Rams’ win as more of a fluke, while the Chiefs’ win was a sign that they’ve got a good chance to go on a run in the AFC. I like Kansas City to win this one easily.

MDS’s pick: Chiefs 31, Rams 10.

Florio’s take:  More than bragging rights will be on the line in the latest edition of the Battle for Missouri.  Both teams have a chance to make a run at the postseason after being blown out at home in Week One.  The Chiefs have too much talent for the Rams, especially when the Kansas City offense faces the St. Louis defense.

Florio’s pick:  Chiefs 24, Rams 17.

Bears at Patriots

MDS’s take: The Bears are coming apart at the seams, just as the Patriots are coming together and playing their best football. This should be a big win for New England.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 27, Bears 17.

Florio’s take:  The Patriots have found the gas pedal, and the Bears are clumsily mashing their feet against the floorboard in search of it.  Yes, the Patriots are banged up defensively, but the extra time to prepare and the apparent inability of coach Marc Trestman to adjust to defenses that have a full season of offensive film gives the edge to one of the great tactical masterminds in NFL history.

Florio’s pick:  Patriots 30, Bears 21.

Bills at Jets

MDS’s take: I’ve felt all year that the Jets are a better team than they’re showing on the field, and I think we’re finally going to see them turn in a complete game on Sunday. The Bills’ offense will struggle with the Jets’ defense and the Jets will win a low-scoring game.

MDS’s pick: Jets 17, Bills 13.

Florio’s take:  The Jets surely won’t finish 1-15.  What better way to get a win than against a Bills team that is rattled at the tailback position and generally not a good as its 4-3 record suggests?  While Percy Harvin isn’t good enough to turn around a lost season in New York, he’s good enough to make a difference in this one.

Florio’s pick:  Jets 24, Bills 20.

Vikings at Buccaneers

MDS’s take: In a battle of two of the worst teams in the NFL, I’ll take the home team. That’s about all I’ve got to say about this one.

MDS’s pick: Buccaneers 9, Vikings 6.

Florio’s take:  Somehow, the Bucs are still alive in the NFC South.  While a run at the division is unlikely, they’ve extra week to prepare gives them the edge in the latest reunion of a longtime NFC Central rivalry.

Florio’s pick:  Buccaneers 27, Vikings 24.

Texans at Titans

MDS’s take: The Texans have lost three straight, but all against good teams. Against a bad team with a rookie making his first start at quarterback, I like Houston to take care of business.

MDS’s pick: Texans 17, Titans 14.

Florio’s take:  The fading Texans get just what they needed — a crack at a Titans team that somehow has two wins.  It’ll stay at two wins on Sunday, with Ryan Fitzpatrick (who’s averaging a career-high 8.0 yards per attempt) getting a chance to beat his most recent former team.

Florio’s pick:  Texans 27, Titans 13.

Eagles at Cardinals

MDS’s take: Coming off a bye week that followed their most impressive win of the season, I think the Eagles should be playing their best football right now. Arizona is playing excellent football, but the Eagles will upset the Cardinals in the desert.

MDS’s pick: Eagles 21, Cardinals 17.

Florio’s take:  So much for the Cardinals wanting to rejoin the NFC East.  They face the 5-1 Eagles and 6-1 Cowboys in consecutive weeks, and it could be time for the Super Bowl jinx to begin to kick in.  Especially with Chip Kelly having two weeks to get ready for this one.

Florio’s pick:  Eagles 27, Cardinals 20.

Raiders at Browns

MDS’s take: Could the Browns make it two straight losses to previously winless opponents? I don’t see it. Cleveland’s offense should have no trouble moving the ball against Oakland.

MDS’s pick: Browns 28, Raiders 14.

Florio’s take:  Trap Game No. 2 for the Browns.  And its against a team that delivered one of the most bitter defeats in franchise postseason history.  If the Browns lose to a winless team for the second straight week, they won’t have to worry about a bitter playoff defeat this year.

Florio’s pick:  Browns 27, Raiders 17.

Colts at Steelers

MDS’s take: Andrew Luck should have a big game against a suspect Steelers secondary, and the Colts should put up plenty of points in Pittsburgh.

MDS’s pick: Colts 35, Steelers 27.

Florio’s take:  Yea, the Colts shut out the Bengals last week.  But that happened at home, not in Pittsburgh.  In Pittsburgh, the Steelers average 28 points per game.  And just when folks write off the Steelers, they find a way to win games they’re supposed to lose.

Florio’s pick:  Steelers 28, Colts 23.

Packers at Saints

MDS’s take: The Saints’ defense is a complete mess, and Aaron Rodgers is playing at a very high level. Even if the Saints get a great game from their offense, they simply won’t be able to keep up in a high-scoring game.

MDS’s pick: Packers 30, Saints 20.

Florio’s take:  The Saints are still undefeated at home, and they play even better in the Superdome when America is watching.  By the way, the NFC South remains ripe for the plucking.

Florio’s pick:  Saints 34, Packers 31.

Washington at Cowboys

MDS’s take: Is Colt McCoy the answer? Of course not. Stop asking stupid questions. The Cowboys will roll.

MDS’s pick: Cowboys 31, Washington 13.

Florio’s takeKirk Cousins, Colt McCoy, it doesn’t matter.  The Cowboys may cool off by the time it really counts, but they’re the hottest team in football for now.

Florio’s pick:  Cowboys 31, Washington 16.

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Jared Allen doesn’t see leadership void with Bears

Chicago Bears v Carolina Panthers Getty Images

The Bears’ 3-4 start and angry locker room after last weekend’s loss to the Dolphins have left people discussing whether the Bears have a leadership void on the team that will lead them to a disappointing finish to this season.

Defensive end Jared Allen has weighed in on the question and the veteran doesn’t see an issue with the leadership on hand in Chicago. Allen said that there’s no problem with the kind of “raw” emotions that the team aired following the loss, but that good leadership, which he thinks the Bears have, isn’t synonymous with making fiery speeches all the time.

“I don’t want this to sound bad. But when you’re talking about a leader, what does that look like to people? I think we have great leaders here. I mean leaders don’t necessarily have to stand up at the podium and make some big speech. As a matter of fact, if someone gets up every week and has to have a ‘Coach is out. Let’s have [a big meeting].’ That’s lame. Honestly. What’s that going to do? That’s rah-rah,” Allen said, via the Chicago Tribune. “Leadership comes from the guys who show up every week, go out and work during practice. They’re in their playbook, they know what they’re doing and they go out on Sunday and give it everything they got.”

The issue of whether or not the leadership on the Bears is sufficient is going to be settled by the way the rest of the season plays out. If they beat the Patriots this week and then take out the Packers after the bye, wide receiver Brandon Marshall’s postgame comments will be deemed just what the team needed while more losing will make it easy for people to draw the opposite conclusion. Neither one will be entirely true, but, as always, the on-field results will drive the narrative the rest of the way.

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Michael Vick: Percy Harvin “won’t be a monster” with Jets

Percy Harvin AP

Negative stories have accompanied wide receiver Percy Harvin out of both Minnesota and Seattle, leading some to wonder if the Jets are going to get a player who helps them on the field more than he becomes a divisive figure off of it.

The top two quarterbacks on the depth chart would surely prefer that Harvin’s impact come on the field and both of them say that they are confident that Harvin’s troublemaking won’t be an issue on his new team. Geno Smith said that he guarantees Harvin “cleans his act up while he’s here” and Michael Vick said the one-time participant in Vick’s football camps sent a similar message.

“He won’t be a monster here,” Vick said, via the New York Post. “He won’t be a monster here. I can assure all the fans of that…That won’t take place here.”

Vick didn’t offer many specifics as to why Harvin won’t be a monster, but his own experience with facing a moment when his future football career hinged on being a good teammate and doing the right thing could account for the optimistic view. Vick was able to do that and the Jets figure to give Harvin every chance to show he can make the same commitment because their offense could use someone who creates trouble for defenses without causing any for the Jets.

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Bears need a leader to emerge

Trestman Getty Images

As the Bears try to break free from a 3-4 start that we all now know receiver Brandon Marshall regards as unacceptable, it seems they’re desperately in need of one thing they don’t have — a leader who can bring the locker room together.

Marshall seems to be trying; the question is whether his teammates will respond to his locker-room tirade and public comments aimed at getting the team to fulfill its potential. Quarterback Jay Cutler either isn’t wired or inclined to even make an effort to lead the team.

Then there’s coach Marc Trestman, whose position that folks should be “non-judgmental” and “accepting” of post-game popping off from players could result in more of the same. Trestman faces the biggest test of his still-young tenure as head coach. Can Trestman command the locker room and impose his will on the players?

John Mullin of CSN Chicago joined Wednesday’s PFT Live to discuss these issues. And Mullin pointed out a key apples-to-apples fact that currently isn’t lost on Bears fans — G.M. Phil Emery picked Trestman over Bruce Arians in early 2013, and Arians has done a much better job to date, arguably with less overall talent.

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Left side of Ravens offensive line closing in on return

Eugene Monroe AP

The Ravens can score a big divisional win when they face the Bengals this Sunday and their chances of having the starting left side of their offensive line in the lineup are looking pretty good.

Left tackle Eugene Monroe and left guard Kelechi Osemele were both full participants in practice on Wednesday, which should have them on track to get on the field Sunday barring any setbacks in the next couple of days. Monroe has missed four games after having arthroscopic knee surgery and said he’s feeling healthy after his full return to work.

“Yeah, it gets frustrating after a while being in a training room every day,” Monroe said, via the Baltimore Sun. “Missing out on games, man, that was really the first stretch of my career where I was out for consecutive weeks. It was different, but it was needed. I needed to get healthy, and now that’s happened. I’m just glad to be back out there. I feel real good about it.”

Neither player was missed all that much the last two weeks as the Ravens outscored the Bucs and Falcons 77-24 in a pair of easy victories, but their return will be welcomed with a trip to Pittsburgh coming up a week after the Ravens visit Cincinnati.

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Andre Johnson rides to Ryan Fitzpatrick’s defense

Houston Texans v Dallas Cowboys Getty Images

When Texans receiver Andre Johnson was staying away this offseason, amid reports he was disturbed about the team’s rebuilding phase, it was natural to assume he wasn’t happy with the quarterback, or lack thereof.

But even as coach Bill O’Brien said Ryan Fitzpatrick made some bad reads and missed Johnson for some big gains recently, the veteran receiver came to the defense of the journeyman quarterback.

“When you don’t win, everybody needs to look at themselves and see what they can do better,” Johnson said, via Dale Robertson of the Houston Chronicle. “We all need to pick our play up, fix the mistakes we’re making and do what we need to do to win. You can’t dwell on one person or one guy. Head coaches and quarterbacks are going to get the bulk of the criticism because of the positions they’re in.”

Johnson said if anything, “better communication” would fix the problems between himself and his quarterback.

“He has a tough job, a lot to think about on every play,” Johnson said. “You just have to communicate with him, let him know what you’re seeing, stuff like that. Everybody makes mistakes. I make mistakes. Nobody’s perfect.”

Of course, if Johnson really wanted more open lines of communication with Fitzpatrick, he had an offseason full of chances to build them, but he declined.

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After being sent home, Revis returned to facility to apologize to Belichick

Revis AP

In New England, the best way to get a day off is to show up late.

But it’s still not regarded as a good thing when Patriots coach Bill Belichick sends a player home for being tardy. After that happened on Tuesday to cornerback Darrelle Revis, Revis was sufficiently contrite that he later returned to the facility to personally apologize to Belichick, via Tom Curran of CSN New England.

Revis reportedly overslept. And Belichick has a history of telling guys who fail to arrive on time to take the day off.

Curran also reports that John Geiger, who serves as the cornerback’s business manager, deleted at the request of Revis tweets that criticized the initial report from Ben Volin of the Boston Globe.

There’s no reason to believe that Revis will face any further discipline, especially as the Patriots prepare to face a Bears team that has several talented pass catchers.

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Anthony Dixon gets first crack, but expects timeshare with Bryce Brown

Anthony Dixon AP

The Bills lost their top two running backs to injury last Sunday, leaving Anthony Dixon to carry the load on the ground against the Vikings.

Dixon was the first back up at Wednesday’s practice and all indications are that he will be in the same position when the Bills meet the Jets this Sunday. Dixon doesn’t think that means he’s going to be a workhorse, however. Bryce Brown is expected to be active for the first time since Buffalo traded a fourth-round pick for him and the team is expected to see what he can do as well.

“Me and Bryce are going to do it together as a combination,” Dixon said, via the Buffalo News. “That’s pretty much how we’re going to get it done. We’re going to compete this week and see who’s got a feel for the plays that [offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett] wants to run, and then on Sunday, we’re going to go with it.”

Dixon said that he wants to “be a hammer” when he gets the ball, which should cast Brown into the home run hitter role that C.J. Spiller was trying to fill before he broke his clavicle. The Jets aren’t the most forgiving defense for their first foray into a shared backfield, but, on paper, the complementary relationship looks like one that shouldn’t lead to too big a change in Buffalo’s offensive approach.

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Kessler and Ginsberg plan to interrogate Goodell

Goodell Getty Images

Roger Goodell’s bad Wednesday has extended into Thursday.

Last night, the appeal officer jointly selected by the NFL and the NFL Players Association to handle the Ray Rice appeal hearing determined that the Commissioner will be required to testify. PFT later learned that there are no pre-set limits on the questioning, and that the interrogator will be longtime NFL nemesis Jeffrey Kessler.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, more recent NFL nemesis Peter Ginsberg also intends to question Goodell.

Ginsberg, who was retained directly by Rice, has handled several cases in recent years against the NFL, including the StarCaps litigation that delayed for many months the suspensions of former Vikings defensive tackles Pat and Kevin Williams. Ginsberg also represented former Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma in the bounty case, which ultimately resulted in former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue overturning all player suspensions — including Vilma’s one-year banishment from the sport.

Ginsberg’s intent to interrogate Goodell doesn’t mean it will be open season on the Commissioner, with Kessler and Ginsberg flailing away at the witness like a WWE tag-team wrestling combo. The NFL’s lawyers will be protecting Goodell with the right to object to any and all questions, and former U.S. Judge Barbara S. Jones surely won’t allow the witness to be asked the same questions repeatedly or to be badgered by either or both lawyers.

Regardless, the challenge gets a little more challenging if Goodell has to answer questions from both Kessler and Ginsberg.

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Jeremy Kerley goes Oprah: You get a Bentley, and you get a Bentley, …

Chicago Bears v New York Jets Getty Images

Jets wide receiver Jeremy Kerley just came into a windfall, and he was ready to share the wealth yesterday.

“Yeah, man, I’m going to buy Bentleys for everybody,” Kerley said, via Darryl Slater of NJ.com.

He was kidding, we think. But just in case, I prefer black.

Kerley should be feeling good, however, after signing a four-year deal worth up to $16 million, with $5.4 million guaranteed. Considering his stats in recent years, that’s a pretty good deal comparable to other slot receivers in recent free agency periods.

He said he was happy to get a deal done before needing to hit free agency, as his rookie contract expired this year.

“It feels good,” he said. “It was just good for me and my family, so we got that out of the way. Now it’s just time to go play. It’s been back and forth (on contract negotiations with the Jets) for a little while, but I’m glad that it got done at the time that it got done. It feels good to be here for hopefully another four years. . . .

“I thought that this is a place I call home. I’ve been feeling good since I’ve been here. I didn’t really think about free agency. That’s just how I felt.”

And when all his teammates find their new rides in the parking lot, they’ll feel pretty good about him staying too.

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Ike Taylor returns to practice

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Pittsburgh Steelers Getty Images

It’s been a little more than a month since Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor broke his forearm in a collision with teammate Lawrence Timmons and it appears things have been healing well since then.

Taylor was back on the practice field Wednesday for the first time since getting injured. Taylor was only doing individual drills and said he was a “mutant” when asked if he was recovering ahead of the 6-8 week timeline originally laid down. Even if he’s eligible for membership in the X-Men, Taylor won’t be playing in a game until doctors say his surgically repaired arm is up for the task.

“There’s no timetable. It’s all on the bone, and as soon as the doctors feel it’s strong enough, they’ll give me the OK,” Taylor said, via USA Today. “When the doctor says the bone is good enough for me to go back out there and play, then, we’re going to roll with it.”

Linebacker Ryan Shazier, who was injured in the same game as Taylor, may return to the lineup this weekend and linebacker Jarvis Jones is eligible to play on November 30 against the Saints. They should have a defense pretty close to full strength for the stretch run, although being shorthanded against the Colts and Ravens the next two weeks may leave them with a diminished position when that stretch run gets underway.

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Thursday morning one-liners

Austin Davis AP

The Bills know they need to keep QB Kyle Orton on his feet more.

Ever since their QB controversy, the Dolphins have liked what they’ve seen from Ryan Tannehill.

Patriots QB Tom Brady is trying to be more mobile (whatever).

The Jets are still alarming popular in Alabama.

The Ravens are getting healthier on the offensive line.

Injuries have made a mess of the Bengals’ run defense.

The Browns expect C John Greco to man the middle for another week.

The Steelers didn’t have to go no-huddle as often against the Texans, since they grabbed a quick lead.

Texans rookie OLB Jadeveon Clowney is getting closer to a return.

The Colts got good news from WR Reggie Wayne’s MRI.

Jaguars RB Toby Gerhart appears ready to return.

The Titans added TE Richard Gordon.

The Broncos are a perfect example of where the TE position is heading.

The Chiefs were impressed with their latest secondary changes.

Raiders CB D.J. Hayden is doing more and more in practice.

Chargers OLB Dwight Freeney’s hoping to catch up with an old friend — Broncos QB Peyton Manning.

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett seems to be benefitting from not calling plays.

Giants S Stevie Brown is bouncing back after a rough stretch of games.

Eagles replacement C David Molk better be ready to see anything this week in Arizona.

Washington coach Jay Gruden said he’ll make his QB decision today.

The Bears have communication issues on both sides of the ball.

Lions DT Ndamukong Suh said there’s no bad blood with the Falcons.

Packers RB Eddie Lacy is excited about going home.

Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater hasn’t been excelling on the deep ball.

Falcons WR Julio Jones is looking forward to some man-to-man coverage.

The Panthers had to shuffle their nickel defense.

The Saints’ search for a second CB has been a disaster from the start.

Buccaneers DE Michael Johnson is frustrated by a lingering ankle injury.

Cardinals RB Andre Ellington is carrying the weight of the offense.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz warns fans not to go overboard over QB Austin Davis.

The 49ers are counting on an improved offense in the second half of the season.

The Seahawks are springing unsuspected leaks on pass defense.

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Hoyer: I don’t even think about getting benched for Manziel

hoyermanziel AP

Rookie quarterback Derek Carr is the starter in Oakland. Rookie quarterback Blake Bortles is the starter in Jacksonville. Rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is the starter in Minnesota. And now rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger is the starter in Tennessee. But rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel is firmly planted on the bench in Cleveland.

The man keeping Manziel on the bench, Brian Hoyer, says he’s not worried about that changing. Hoyer said he’s confident in what he’s doing for the Browns, even after Sunday’s ugly loss to the Jaguars, and he believes the coaches are committed to him.

“I don’t even think about it to be honest with you,” Hoyer said, via ESPNCleveland.com. “I know what goes into my preparation. I know that talking to my coaches, that’s the farthest thing on my mind. Yeah, I don’t doubt that [coach Mike Pettine] has my back. I also know that if you have one bad game, I think that people are just going to be calling for your job already. That’s just the way it goes. But I know within this building I feel more than comfortable.”

Hoyer did have one bad game, and people are calling for his job, and Hoyer isn’t happy about that.

“Three weeks ago everyone was saying Tom Brady was done with,” Hoyer said. “He’s the greatest quarterback of all time. He had one bad game, and people are throwing him under the bus. I think when you see that even the great ones have bad games you know you’re going to have a few. Yeah, it sucks. You don’t want to go out there and not perform well. Obviously, we prepare our butts off all week to go out there and execute and play the best of our ability, but sometimes you have a situation where you don’t play great, and the other team plays well. It’s a bad combination. For me, really of all the games I’ve ever played, that was the worst I’ve ever felt after one.”

Hoyer will feel even worse if he has another game as bad as Sunday’s. If he plays like that again this week and the Browns lose to the Raiders, Hoyer will surely lose his job to Manziel.

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