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Manziel senses no locker-room rift over quarterback

Manziel AP

Browns safety Donte Whitner recently made some news by admitting to the existence of a 50-50 split in the locker room regarding Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel at quarterback.

That was news to Manziel.

“I don’t feel any rift like that or anything going on in the locker room,” Manziel told reporters on Monday.  “As far as my end, I think they see two guys coming out playing football and competing as well as everybody else out on the field competing.  Quarterback is obviously just the position that gets a lot of flash and gets a lot of attention, but at the same time there are guys battling all around.  I don’t really know if there’s an exact split like that.  It’s not something I’m really aware of right now.  I know two guys are going out and competing, trying to move the ball down the field for this offense.”

Browns coach Mike Pettine plans to name a starter before the third preseason game.  He has yet to pick a starter for the second preseason game, coming next Monday night against Washington.  Asked whether Manziel hopes to start that game, he displayed verbal elusiveness that matches his on-field moves.

“I hope to do whatever the coaches tell me to do,” Manziel said.  “That’s what I’m going to do, whatever they say, whether it’s No. 1’s, No. 2’s, whatever it is.  I’m going to do what Coach Pettine and Coach Shanahan have in store for me.”

Presumably, Manziel and the rest of us will know what that is within the next seven days.  Not long after that, we’ll also know whether it will be Hoyer or Manziel taking the field on September 7 at Heinz Field against the Steelers.

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No guarantee Bills will be ready to host a game next week

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As the snow continued to pile up this week, it became clear that the Bills weren’t going to be able to play at home Sunday.

But with this week’s game with the Jets moved to Detroit on Monday night, the next question will be whether Ralph Wilson Stadium will be cleared by next Sunday.

Bills president Russ Brandon said there’s a chance the stadium might not be dug out by the Nov. 30 date with the Browns.

“It’s going to be a full-on effort by our stadium operations crew and everyone involved here at One Bills Drive to get the facility ready for next week,” he said. “There’s an enormous amount of snow to be removed and there’s a lot of work to be done.”

Earlier this week, Bills officials said they could normally remove a foot of snow in three days. With snow creeping up on the goalpost crossbar in one windswept end of the stadium, that creates the possibility for more weather drama next week.

At the very least, the Bills might have to find another place to practice next week, since there’s been nothing normal about their preparations this week. They haven’t worked out as a team since their game against the Dolphins eight days ago.

“That’s something that’s also in play,” Brandon said. “Not only with preparation for this game and playing this game, but obviously what may be in play for next week. That could be a potential to go off site and practice somewhere if our facility is just not operational.”

The first step will be getting themselves out of the snow drifts today, as try to take care of the business at hand.


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Ben Tate has no expectations for role with Vikings

Cleveland Browns v Pittsburgh Steelers Getty Images

Running back Ben Tate’s arrival in Minnesota was precipitated by a couple of weeks of discussion about Tate’s role in the Cleveland offense.

Tate signed with the Browns as a free agent during the offseason with the expectation that he’d be the starting running back after several years as the No. 2 man in Houston. Rookies Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell got in the way of that, though, and Tate made it clear that things weren’t playing out the way he hoped before he was waived.

On Thursday, though, Tate said he never said he was upset with the situation in Cleveland. He did say that he’d be “lying” if he said he was satisfied, however, and that raises the question of how happy he’ll be in Minnesota with offensive coordinator Norv Turner saying that Jerick McKinnon is the team’s top back. Tate said he was still getting his bearings and had no thoughts about what role he should be playing with the Vikings.

“I don’t have a certain expectation or a certain this or that,” Tate said, via “I’m just trying to learn the playbook and give it 100 percent and try to do whatever I can to help this team win.”

Expectations are probably limited all around. The Vikings like McKinnon and could just see Tate as insurance for the rest of the year with both McKinnon and Matt Asiata banged up. They could also be open to Tate as part of the answer to how they move their backfield into 2015 should they part ways with Adrian Peterson, so there’s plenty of role defining to do before Tate can elide whether he’s satisfied with it.

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Tamba Hali: No excuses, Raiders wanted it more

Alex Smith AP

After the Chiefs beat the Seahawks last weekend, a lot of people looked at their upcoming schedule and jumped to the conclusion that their Week 13 game against the Broncos would be played with the lead in the AFC West on the line.

The Chiefs were playing the Raiders and there wasn’t much chance that they’d be putting an end to their 16-game losing streak, which would leave the Chiefs with eight wins and a chance to move ahead of a Broncos team that’s looked out of sorts for the last few weeks. Things didn’t worked out that way, of course, as the Raiders won 24-20 on Thursday night. The Chiefs will now need help from the Dolphins to enter next week with the same record as Denver and the Chargers could have the same 7-4 record if they hold off the Rams this Sunday.

Chiefs linebacker Tamba Hali said after the game that looking ahead wasn’t the reason why the Chiefs lost. It wasn’t the quick turnaround after the win over Seattle or a rainy night on the road, either.

“You can sit here and make excuses,” Hali said, via “But they played better than us and wanted it more than we wanted it. Yes, it was draining, but this is the type of business we’re in. You have to turn it around and muster the same type of energy.”

The Chiefs have five games left, which means plenty of chances to make this loss a distant memory come the end of the regular season. If they can’t take advantage, that lack of energy on Thursday night will be a big part of the downfall of their playoff chances.

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Ben McAdoo defends Giants play-calling down the stretch

Arizona Cardinals v New York Giants Getty Images

The Giants raised a lot of eyebrows when they ran three straight fades from the 4-yard line last week, but offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo wasn’t backing down.

I’m not going to stand here and apologize for the play-calling,” McAdoo said, via Kevin Armstrong of the New York Daily News. “I have faith in the perimeter players to go up and make the plays one on one.

“I would take those matchups any day. I took them last week and I’d take them again this week.”

McAdoo pointed out that Eli Manning checked out of a pair of runs during that series. And none of them were the five interceptions which were probably a bigger deal. But nothing about the Giants Offense has been consistent this year, McAdoo’s first with the team.

“We took a step back,” McAdoo said. “Unfortunately, those [turnovers] happened in bunches on Sunday. We need to clean those up. . . . When it’s decision making, we need to eliminate those.”

The Giants have only looked like a smooth offense for about a three-week stretch, but otherwise have looked like an old dog learning new tricks. Whether they can fetch anything out of the last six weeks remains to be seen.

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Bill O’Brien: No setback for Arian Foster

Arian Foster, Troy Polamalu AP

Texans running back Arian Foster was able to practice in a limited fashion on Wednesday, raising hope that he’d be back in the lineup this weekend after missing the team’s Week 11 victory against the Browns with a groin injury.

Foster wasn’t able to practice on Thursday, however, and that led to questions for coach Bill O’Brien about whether Foster’s injury was getting worse as kickoff drew closer. Coach Bill O’Brien said that wasn’t the case and that the Texans would just have to wait and see how Foster’s groin is feeling come Sunday.

“No setback,” O’Brien said, via the Houston Chronicle. “From one day to the next we’ll see how he’s doing. I’m sure we’ll have to make a decision on game day. It’s just something we have to wait out and see if gets better.”

The Texans called Foster a game-time decision last week as well, but wound up ruling him out on Saturday after he missed the entire week of practices. They’ll make an official determination on Friday’s injury report and the trajectory of this week suggests it may be Alfred Blue in the top spot in the backfield against the Bengals.

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Patriots welcome back “hard worker” LeGarrette Blount

Bill Belichick, LeGarrette Blount AP

The Patriots were glad to see LeGarrette Blount back Thursday, even if they weren’t sure at first who he was.

Blount drew some laughs on his first day at practice by wearing a jersey with the number 60, which nearly fit because of the size he brings to their backfield.

“That’s a funny one, huh?” not-small man Vince Wilfork said, via Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald. “I didn’t know if he was a new offensive lineman or new long snapper or what, but it’s good to see him back here. He knows how we do things around here. He’s helped us in the past. Hopefully he can pick up where he left off.”

Where he left off with the Patriots was with a four-touchdown game against the Colts in the playoffs last year, and they’re thinking he might be called on for more bad-weather duty, even with Jonas Gray becoming a sudden star last week.

“It’s exciting, more so for me just having another guy in the locker room that works well with everybody,” running back Shane Vereen said. “We know he’s a hard worker. We know what he can do on the field, so to have another guy in the backfield is cool.”

The Steelers might disagree with the “hard worker” part after he walked out on them last week, but the Patriots are welcoming the big man back with open arms.

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Justin Tuck: Thursday night was a special moment

Sio Moore, Khalif Barnes AP

Near the end of the Raiders’ 24-20 victory over the Chiefs on Thursday night, Raiders linebackers Sio Moore and Khalil Mack celebrated a sack in such extended fashion that they nearly got a penalty for being offside.

Defensive end Justin Tuck called a timeout, bailing out his teammates and leaving the Chiefs with a fourth down they wouldn’t convert. That meant the Raiders could truly and fully celebrate their victory. It was a heads-up moment for the veteran Tuck, but after the game it sounded like he would have a hard time blaming Moore and Mack from acting like they’d never been there before because the win was special even to a player with a pair of Super Bowl rings.

“I’ve played in a lot of big games and a lot of emotional games, but that was something special. That was something I’ll never forget. That’s because this team has stuck together, we’re a band of brothers,” Tuck said, via the team’s website. “No matter what our record says, this is one of the closest teams I’ve played with and it’s a family. I know how big that monkey was on a lot of guys’ backs. This team hadn’t won a game in 16 games, and it gets old. It’s hard to come in here every Wednesday and put that behind you and get back to work, but we did that and we beat a good football team tonight. We’ve been close all year in a lot of situations, but today we finished it. It was a special moment.”

Special moments are worth celebrating and the Raiders earned an especially big one given the length of their losing streak heading into the game. Next time they’ll just have to remember to wait to do that celebrating once they are in the locker room, but, as they say, you learn something new every day.

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Adrian Peterson: “I won’t ever use a switch again”

adrianpeterson AP

Whether Adrian Peterson changes teams this offseason remains to be seen.

But Peterson said he’s a changed man, regardless.

The Vikings running back, in his first interview since his indictment on child abuse charges and his subsequent suspension for the rest of this season, told Tom Pelissero of USA Today that he knows he can’t discipline his children the way he had in the past.

I won’t ever use a switch again,” Peterson said. “There’s different situations where a child needs to be disciplined as far as timeout, taking their toys away, making them take a nap. There’s so many different ways to discipline your kids.”

While he’s been painted as the worst kind of person after pictures emerged of the welts on his 4-year-old son’s legs from the tree branch he used to whip him, Peterson insisted the remorse he feels is real, and he hopes to repair the relationship with his son.

“No one knows how I felt when I turned my child around after spanking him and seeing what I had left on his leg,” Peterson said. “No one knows that Dad sat there and apologized to him, hugged him and told him that I didn’t mean to do this to you and how sorry I was.

“I love my son. I love my kids, my family. Like I said after I took the misdemeanor plea, I take full responsibility for my actions. I regret the situation. I love my son more than any one of you could even imagine.”

When NFL commissioner Roger Goodell sent the suspension letter to Peterson, he mentioned Peterson’s failure to show “meaningful remorse.”

Peterson denied that.

“Ultimately, I know I’ll have my opportunity to sit down with Roger face to face, and I’ll be able to say a lot of the same things that I’ve said to you,” Peterson said. “Don’t say that I’m not remorseful, because in my statement, I showed that I was remorseful. I regretted everything that took place. I love my child, more than anyone could ever imagine.”

It is hard to imagine, based on the photos we’ve all seen, and the descriptions of the injuries we’ve all read. And that makes Peterson’s growth as a father and a person will be a tougher climb than getting back on an NFL field.

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Pete Carroll says league admitted to missing two P-I calls last week against Chiefs

Seattle Seahawks v Kansas City Chiefs Getty Images

Seattle Seahawks fans have heard this one before. Incorrect calls by a referee crew led by Bill Leavy may have cost the Seahawks a chance at victory last week against the Kansas City Chiefs.

According to Jim Corbett of USA Today, NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino informed the Seahawks and head coach Pete Carroll that Leavy’s crew erred in rulings on two potential pass interference calls in Sunday’s 24-20 loss to the Chiefs.

The most glaring one was a fourth-and-goal from the Kansas City 2-yard line with 7:11 left to play. Baldwin ran a corner route from the left slot and was run into and bumped off his route by cornerback Sean Smith. Baldwin threw his hands up begging for a call that wouldn’t come.

Per Carroll, the league said a penalty should have been called on the play.

“The interpretation was it definitely played a factor in (Baldwin’s) route and it should have been called,” Carroll said. “There’s nothing you can do about it. You just have to live with it. That’s just part of the game.”

So instead of a first-and-goal opportunity from the 1-yard line while trailing by four, the Seahawks turned the ball over on downs and were never able to score the touchdown needed to overcome the deficit.

A win over Kansas City would have kept Seattle two games behind the division leading Arizona Cardinals with both matchups against the Cardinals still yet to play. Instead, the Seahawks are now three games back and have little margin for error in their efforts to return to the postseason to defend last year’s Super Bowl title.

Leavy was the head referee for Super Bowl XL when the Seahawks lost 21-10 to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Leavy later admitted to reporters in Seattle on a training camp visit that his crew had made incorrect calls against the Seahawks in that game as well.

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Raiders snap 16-game losing streak with 24-20 win over Chiefs

Kansas City Chiefs v Oakland Raiders Getty Images

The Oakland Raiders 16-game losing streak is over.

Derek Carr orchestrated a 17-play, 80-yard drive that lasted over seven minutes with Carr connecting with James Jones for a 9-yard touchdown as the Raiders earned a 24-20 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night.

The Raiders put a notch into the win column for the first time since Nov. 17, 2013 when Oakland picked up a 28-23 victory over the Houston Texans.

The 2008 Detroit Lions 0-16 mark will not be equaled by the 2014 Raiders.

The Raiders appeared to be set to blow a chance at victory after jumping out to a 17-3 lead. Latavius Murray scored the first two rushing touchdowns the Chiefs Defense had allowed all season in the first half before exiting with a concussion. Murray scored on runs of 11 and 90 yards for Oakland to take a 14-0 lead.

A 40-yard Sebastian Janikoski field goal gave the Raiders a 17-3 lead with 5:05 left in the third quarter before the Chiefs began to rally.

Kansas City outscored the Raiders 17-0 since the latter stages of the third quarter to take a 20-17 lead early in the fourth.

Alex Smith connected with Anthony Fasano for a 19-yard touchdown pass on a blown coverage by the Raiders for Kansas City’s first touchdown of the night.

The Chiefs scored again on their following possession as Smith dumped a pass across the middle to Jamaal Charles, who sliced through the Raiders Defense for a 30-yard touchdown to tie the game at 17-17 with 12:20 left to play. After a Raiders three-and-out, the Chiefs moved inside the Raiders 10-yard line but had to settle for a 25-yard Cairo Santos field goal to give Kansas City their first lead of the night.

But the Raiders responded with their biggest drive of the season. Carr converted a fourth-and-1 with a quarterback sneak and a pass interference call against Ron Parker helped keep the drive alive before the touchdown pass to Jones with 1:42 left to play.

Smith’s fourth down pass to Frankie Hammond fell incomplete to give the Raiders their first victory in 368 days.

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Adrian Peterson thinks “maybe it’s time for me to get a fresh start somewhere else”

Peterson Reuters

If running back Adrian Peterson had been able to return to the Vikings this year, he would have had an opportunity to determine whether he and his family would be able to stay in Minnesota for the rest of his career in light of the events that derailed Peterson’s 2014 season.  As it stands, he won’t have a chance to test the waters — which may result in Peterson seeking an opportunity to play somewhere else in 2015.

Peterson tells Tom Pelissero of USA Today that he would return to the Vikings if the appeal of his suspension results in a reinstatement between now and the end of the regular season, and that Peterson has given extensive thought to the possibility that “maybe it’s best for me to get a fresh start somewhere else.”

Time is working against Peterson and the Vikings having a reunion in 2014.  With five weeks and three days remaining until the end of the regular season, Peterson faces an uphill climb to secure a successful appeal and play in Minnesota this year.

“I would love to go back and play in Minnesota to get a feel and just see if my family still feels comfortable there,” Peterson said.  “But if there’s word out that hey, they might release me, then so be it.  I would feel good knowing that I’ve given everything I had in me.”

There’s actually no “word out” that the Vikings might release Peterson.  The Vikings have been adamant about their belief that Peterson is a Viking.  If anything, the Vikings would want to trade Peterson in lieu of letting him walk away.

Ultimately, the Vikings control the outcome because they control Peterson’s rights.  If the Vikings refuse to allow let him go, he’ll have to decide whether to play for the Vikings or no one.

At a compensation package of $13 million in 2015, it’s hard to imagine Peterson walking away.  But that may not keep Peterson from trying to force his way out.  He expressed a general, vague belief to Pelissero that the support for Peterson in the organization is not unanimous.

“I would have to get back in the community and get a feel,” Peterson said.  “I know who loves me. The coaches and the players, it’s not going to be a problem. I’ve felt so much support from those guys.  The organization, I know there’s people in the organization that support me and there’s people that I know internally that has not been supporting me.”

Peterson did not identify any persons with the team who he believes are not supporting him.

The interview, Peterson’s first since being indicted on felony child abuse charges in September, contains extensive comments from Peterson regarding his resolve not to use a switch when disciplining his children, his reasons for not attending the hearing/meeting at the league office last Friday, and his desire to meet with Commissioner Roger Goodell.

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Chiefs mount rally to take lead in fourth quarter against Raiders

Kansas City Chiefs v Oakland Raiders Getty Images

After holding a halftime lead for the first time in nearly a full calendar year, the Oakland Raiders have begun to show why they haven’t won a game since Nov. 17 of last year.

The Kansas City Chiefs have outscored the Raiders 17-0 since the latter stages of the third quarter to take a 20-17 lead early in the fourth.

Alex Smith connected with Anthony Fasano for a 19-yard touchdown pass on a blown coverage by the Raiders for Kansas City’s first touchdown of the night.

The Chiefs scored again on their following possession as Smith dumped a pass across the middle to Jamaal Charles, who sliced through the Raiders Defense for a 30-yard touchdown to tie the game at 17-17 with 12:20 left to play. After a Raiders three-and-out, the Chiefs moved inside the Raiders 10-yard line but had to settle for a 25-yard Cairo Santos field goal to give Kansas City their first lead of the night.


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Charles Woodson becomes first player in NFL history with 50 interceptions and 20 sacks

Kansas City Chiefs v Oakland Raiders Getty Images

When Charles Woodson ultimately elects to walk away from the NFL, it will be a short wait for him to be elected in the Hall of Fame.

And Woodson added another line to his resume Thursday night against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Woodson sacked Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith in the third quarter. In doing so, Woodson becomes the first player in NFL history to record 50 interceptions and 20 sacks in a career, per Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Woodson now has 58 interceptions and 20 sacks in his prestigious 17-year career with the Raiders and Green Bay Packers.

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Week 12 skill-position injury report — Thursday

Emmanuel Sanders AP

The following skill-position players were listed on Thursday’s injury report. Key fantasy starters are bolded. Information is furnished by the NFL and clubs.

The final injury report for Sunday’s games will be released on Friday, with the final Monday injury reports posted Saturday.

Byes: Steelers, Panthers.


Bears WR Chris Williams (hamstring).

Broncos RB Montee Ball (foot).

Broncos RB Ronnie Hillman (foot).

Broncos TE Julius Thomas (ankle).

Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders (concussion).

Browns TE Jordan Cameron (concussion).

Browns WR Marlon Moore (hamstring).

Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (knee).

Colts TE Dwayne Allen (ankle).

Dolphins TE Charles Clay (knee).

Eagles QB Nick Foles (collarbone). — OUT

Falcons RB Steven Jackson (illness).

Falcons WR Julio Jones (illness).

49ers WR Bruce Ellington (ankle).

Rams TE Cory Harkey (quadriceps).

Rams WR Damian Williams (hamstring).

Ravens TE Owen Daniels (not injury related).

Ravens WR Michael Campanaro (thigh).

Saints RB Khiry Robinson (forearm).

Saints RB Travaris Cadet (hamstring).

Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch (back).

Texans RB Arian Foster (groin).

Vikings RB Matt Asiata (concussion).

Vikings TE Brandon Bostick (hip).

Vikings WR Greg Jennings (rib).

Washington TE Jordan Reed (hamstring).


Bears WR Alshon Jeffery (hamstring).

Bears WR Brandon Marshall (ankle).

Bengals RB Cedric Peerman (hip).

Bills K Dan Carpenter (right groin).

Bills QB Kyle Orton (toe).

Bills RB Fred Jackson (groin).

Broncos TE Virgil Green (calf).

Browns WR Josh Gordon (not injury related).

Buccaneers RB Charles Sims (ankle).

Buccaneers RB Doug Martin (ankle).

Cardinals RB Andre Ellington (hip, foot).

Cardinals RB Robert Hughes (hamstring).

Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill (left shoulder).

Dolphins RB Lamar Miller (shoulder).

Dolphins WR Jarvis Landry (shoulder).

Dolphins WR Mike Wallace (calf).

Falcons WR Harry Douglas (foot).

49ers TE Vance McDonald (hip).

Lions RB Joique Bell (ankle).

Lions RB Reggie Bush (ankle).

Lions TE Brandon Pettigrew (foot).

Lions WR Calvin Johnson (ankle).

Patriots WR Julian Edelman (thigh).

Rams TE Jared Cook (back).

Saints RB Pierre Thomas (rib, shoulder).

Saints WR Robert Meachem (ankle).

Vikings RB Jerick McKinnon (back).

Vikings WR Jarius Wright (hamstring).


Bears WR Josh Morgan (shoulder).

Bengals RB Giovani Bernard (hip).

Bills RB Frank Summers (neck).

Bills WR Chris Hogan (hip).

Bills WR Marquise Goodwin (ankle).

Bills WR Sammy Watkins (groin).

Broncos RB Juwan Thompson (knee).

Chargers QB Philip Rivers (chest).

Colts RB Trent Richardson (illness).

Colts WR Reggie Wayne (not injury related).

Cowboys QB Tony Romo (back).

Eagles WR Jeff Maehl (foot).

Eagles WR Jordan Matthews (knee).

Falcons WR Devin Hester (wrist).

49ers WR Brandon Lloyd (quadriceps).

Jaguars QB Blake Bortles (left wrist).

Jaguars WR Mike Brown (not injury related).

Jets QB Geno Smith (right shoulder).

Jets RB Chris Ivory (shoulder).

Jets RB Chris Johnson (knee).

Jets WR Greg Salas (wrist).

Jets WR T.J. Graham (neck).

Patriots QB Tom Brady (ankle).

Saints RB Mark Ingram (shoulder).

Texans QB Ryan Mallett (chest).

Texans RB Jonathan Grimes (ankle).

Titans TE Delanie Walker (concussion).

Titans WR Justin Hunter (knee).

Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph (abdomen, groin).

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Junior Hemingway undergoes concussion evaluation, ruled out

Kansas City Chiefs v Oakland Raiders Getty Images

Already thinned by injury entering Thursday night’s game at Oakland, the Chiefs’ receiving corps is down another member.

Wide receiver Junior Hemingway has been checked for a concussion, the Chiefs announced on Twitter. He has been declared out of the contest, as has reserve offensive tackle Donald Stephenson, the club said.

With Hemingway out, the Chiefs are down to just four wide receivers: Dwayne Bowe, Frankie Hammond, Albert Wilson and De’Anthony Thomas. (A rookie from Oregon, Thomas is listed as a running back on the Chiefs’ roster but as a wide receiver and tailback on the club’s offensive depth chart.)

The Chiefs were already without two receivers entering Thursday night, with A.J. Jenkins and Donnie Avery both ruled out with injuries.

The Chiefs trail 14-3 early in the third quarter.

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