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Bill O’Brien: Expect more of J.J. Watt at tight end

J.J. Watt AP

J.J. Watt has done just about everything there is to do as a defensive end for the Texans, so he expanded his portfolio against Oakland last weekend.

Watt played a couple of snaps at tight end during the 30-14 victory and caught a touchdown pass from quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Watt said Wednesday, via Art Stapleton of the North Jersey Record, that he was “most definitely” ready for more if the coaches want to give it to him.

Coach Bill O’Brien is willing to do that or at least make others think he’s willing to do that. Jordan Raanan of NJ.com reports that O’Brien said we should expect to see more of Watt at tight end in a future that starts with this week’s game against the Giants.

Watt has a pretty good shoulder to lean on when it comes to moonlighting on offense. Texans linebackers coach Mike Vrabel caught 10 regular season passes for 10 touchdowns while he was a linebacker for the Patriots and Chiefs. Vrabel added two more in Super Bowls XXXVIII and XXXIX that helped the Patriots hold off the Panthers and Eagles and added up to a nice little side business.

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Roddy White questionable, Jake Matthews probable for Falcons

Roddy White AP

Falcons coach Mike Smith said Tuesday that wide receiver Roddy White didn’t need to practice in order to play against the Buccaneers on Thursday night, so you wouldn’t expect the fact that White spent another day on the sideline on Wednesday to have much bearing on how he’s listed on the team’s injury report for their game.

It didn’t. White is listed as questionable, which means that the Falcons will make a final call about whether or not White can go on a balky hamstring. Based on Smith’s comments, the best guess would be that White is in the lineup. How close to 100 percent he’ll be after also tweaking his knee in the opener is another question, however.

The Falcons have more certainty when it comes to left tackle Jake Matthews. He missed last week with an ankle injury, but he’s practiced this week and got a probable tag from the team. That should mean he’s back in the starting lineup with Gabe Carimi going back to his third tackle role or spelling Lamar Holmes on the right side.

Wide receiver Julio Jones (ankle) and linebacker Prince Shembo (knee) are also listed as probable for Atlanta.

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Vontaze Burfict diagnosed with another concussion

Vontaze Burfict, Paul Guenther AP

The Bengals were unsure whether or not linebacker Vontaze Burfict would be able to play in Week Two after suffering a concussion against the Ravens in the season opener.

Burfict was able to get clearance through the league’s concussion protocol and took the field against the Falcons, only to see his day come to an early end with what the team called a stinger at the time. Burfict missed practice on Wednesday, but he wasn’t listed as having a stinger.

Burfict is listed as suffering from another concussion. Geoff Hobson of the team’s website reports that Burfict began having concussion symptoms after being diagnosed with the stinger and he’ll now reenter the protocol before he can be cleared to practice or play in a game. After a second concussion in such a short amount of time, Burfict may need to wait a bit longer before the green light comes this time.

Wide receiver A.J. Green, who hurt his foot in the Falcons game, also didn’t practice, but said he’ll try to give it a go on Thursday. Guard Kevin Zeitler was in a boot after injuring his calf and Hobson believes he’s doubtful to be on the field against the Titans this week.

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Rusty Hardin: No plea discussions in Adrian Peterson case at this point

Minnesota Vikings v Kansas City Chiefs Getty Images

Adrian Peterson is on the exempt list until his legal proceedings have reached their conclusion and his lawyer said Tuesday that there’s no quick resolution in the works.

Rochelle Olson of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that Rusty Hardin said that there have been no plea discussions with prosecutors regarding the charges of reckless or negligent injury to a charges that Peterson faces in Texas. Hardin said that he still expects there to be a trial next year.

Hardin also released a statement.

“Adrian wants to continue his work in the NFL and contribute to his team and community,” the statement reads. “In order to do so, he is prepared to resolve this matter in the appropriate legal forum rather than the court of public opinion. I have spent my entire career asking people to wait until all the facts are in, and I’m doing so again today. Ultimately, it will be up to a judge and jury to decide this case, which is the way it should be. Ours is the greatest legal system in the world, and Adrian is confident that a just result will emerge once all the facts are presented.”

There’s a lot of time between now and next year for talks about a plea to pick up and Hardin would be showing too much of his hand to say that he’s looking to plead out as soon as possible, but there may be motivation to come to a quicker resolution with Peterson’s return to the NFL contingent on the case coming to an end.

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DeSean Jackson doesn’t practice, but doesn’t plan on missing date with Eagles

DeSean Jackson AP

The Redskins are going to Philadelphia on Sunday, a trip that’s been circled on wide receiver DeSean Jackson’s calendar since the day the schedule was announced.

It’s Jackson’s first chance to play against the team that released him in the spring and he didn’t make any attempt to downplay the importance of the game on Tuesday.

“It’s going to be a huge game for myself and I’ve looked forward to ever since everything went down the way it went down,” Jackson said, via the Washington Post.

Complicating matters for Jackson is a shoulder injury suffered in last Sunday’s victory over the Jaguars. Jackson wasn’t a participant in practice on Wednesday and coach Jay Gruden wasn’t ruling him in or out, but Jackson sounded confident that he’d get the green light medically in time to face his former team.

“I’m a very confident person, regardless of an injury and I pride myself on not missing any games and prepare myself any and every way I can to help my team. So when it comes time for game, I’m going to do everything I can to get myself prepared and ready. Being cleared through my trainers is more of ‘we’re waiting’ more than anything. But I should be good come Sunday.”

Assuming he’s right, Jackson’s return to Philly in a different uniform will be one of the top storylines in Week Three.

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Doug Martin, Gerald McCoy questionable for Thursday night

Gerald McCoy AP

Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy broke his hand last Sunday and hasn’t practiced at all this week, but the Bucs aren’t ruling him out of Thursday night’s game against the Falcons.

McCoy has been listed as questionable on the team’s Wednesday injury report, which should mean he has a 50/50 chance of being on the field. Coach Lovie Smith said, via the team, that McCoy has been feeling better since being fitted for a cast, but no decision will be made until Thursday about his status. If he can’t play, Akeem Spence, Clinton McDonald and Da’Quan Bowers will be the options inside for the Bucs.

Running back Doug Martin missed Sunday’s game with a knee injury, but he’s been practicing this week and also drew a questionable tag for the NFC South matchup. The same goes for defensive end Michael Johnson, who was held out of the loss to the Rams because of an ankle injury.

The Bucs ruled out linebacker Mason Foster and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins.

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Jay Gruden: When McCoy comes out and Sproles comes in, we’re like “Oh s—“

Jay Gruden AP

Eagles running back Darren Sproles had a monster game against the Colts on Monday night, displaying exactly the kind of playmaking ability that he showed in New Orleans and San Diego before being traded to the Eagles for a fifth-round pick during the offseason.

That ability makes Sproles’ impact on the Eagles offense has hard to miss and Redskins coach Jay Gruden has picked up on it while preparing for this weekend’s NFC East clash between the two teams. As Gruden explains, there’s no longer a reason to catch your breath when LeSean McCoy is on the sideline.

“You’d think when McCoy comes out of the game we’re high-fiving, you know, ‘Hey, he’s on the bench, thank god.’ All of a sudden Sproles come in and we’re like, ‘Oh, s—,'” Gruden said, via CSNPhilly.com. “They’re two dynamic players when the ball is in their hands out in space. Our job is to know where they are at all times. We’ve got to do a great job of not just tackling one guy but gang-tackling and everybody running to the ball.”

Sproles has actually produced more yards and touchdowns in the first two games than McCoy, something that few people probably predicted heading into the season. It’s unlikely that things will remain that way over the long haul, but that’s all the more reason for defenses to be at their sharpest when facing off with the Eagles this season.

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C.J. Spiller takes home AFC special teams player of the week

C.J. Spiller AP

The Bills improved to 2-0 last Sunday thanks in part to some big contributions from running back C.J. Spiller.

Spiller ran for 68 yards, including a 47-yard scamper to set up a score, and returned a kickoff 102 yards for a touchdown. That latter accomplishment helped Spiller nab AFC special teams player of the week honors for the second time in his career.

Spiller previously won the award as a rookie in 2010, which was the last time that Spiller was the team’s primary kickoff returner. The team put Spiller back in that position this year to give him more chances to make plays, something that worked out handsomely for them against the Dolphins.

It’s the second straight week that a Bills player has taken home special teams honors. Kicker Dan Carpenter was the Week One recipient after his field goal in overtime gave the Bills a win over the Bears.

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PFT Live: Brian Hoyer, Coaching hot seat

Brian Hoyer AP

Brian Hoyer quarterbacked the Browns to their first win of the season against the Saints last Sunday and he’ll tell us all about how he got the job done when he visits Wednesday’s edition of PFT Live.

Hoyer completed 24-of-40 passes for 204 yards and a touchdown during the victory, including two third-down conversions and a fourth-down conversion on the game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter. Mike Florio will talk to Florio about how it felt to lead that winning drive, getting Mike Pettine his first win as a head coach and coming off the field so Johnny Manziel could take a few snaps.

Florio will also fire up the coaching hot seat for our weekly look at which NFL teams may be looking for new coaches in the near future. Raiders coach Dennis Allen’s future has already been the subject of speculation in Oakland, so he’ll likely be part of the discussion.

It all gets started at noon ET and you can watch it all live by clicking right here.

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Chandler Jones’s big day makes him AFC defensive player of the week

Chandler Jones, Matt Cassel AP

By blocking a field goal and returning it for a touchdown, Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones put himself in the running for consideration as the AFC special teams player of the week for Week Two of the 2014 season.

He didn’t wind up taking home that honor, but Jones got a pretty good prize all the same. The league announced on Wednesday that Jones is his conference’s defensive player of the week.

Jones practically took up residence in the Vikings’ backfield during a comfortable 30-7 Patriots victory. He finished the game with two sacks, three quarterback hits and four hurries as Minnesota failed to come up with any way to block him effectively over the course of the afternoon. Jones finished with eight tackles overall and was a leading part of the unit’s rebound from a rough second half against Miami in the opener.

It’s the first player of the week award for Jones, although he was named the defensive player of the month last November.

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Three touchdowns lead to player of the week honors for Antonio Gates

Seattle Seahawks v San Diego Chargers Getty Images

Chargers tight end Antonio Gates had a difficult offseason as he spent time away from the team while his younger sister battled Lupus in a fight she eventually lost at the far too young age of 22 this summer.

Gates said he found solace in being on the football field in the wake of his sister’s death and he’s looked quite comfortable over the first two weeks of the regular season. Gates had six catches for 81 yards in the opener and followed that up with an even better performance in San Diego’s 30-21 victory over the Seahawks.

Gates caught seven passes for 96 yards with three of those passes from Philip Rivers going for touchdowns as the Chargers knocked off the defending Super Bowl champions. Those scores left him with 90 receiving touchdowns for his career, which ranks 11th in NFL history and leaves him 21 behind Tony Gonzalez when the list is whittled to include only tight ends.

It’s the first time that Gates has been so honored by the NFL, something that comes as a bit of a surprise given how good Gates has been over the course of his 12 years in the NFL.

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Darren Sproles is the NFC offensive player of the week

Philadelphia Eagles v Indianapolis Colts Getty Images

Eagles running back Darren Sproles has done a lot of things over the course of his NFL career, but he’d never been named a conference’s offensive player of the week until Wednesday.

That’s when the league announced that Sproles has been given the honor as the conference’s top offensive player for Week Two. Sproles had previously been a special teams player of the week.

Sproles caught seven passes for 152 yards and ran the ball four times for 26 yards and a touchdown as the Eagles came back to beat the Colts on Monday night. Sproles had catches of 57 and 51 yards during the contest with the latter catch setting up Jeremy Maclin’s game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter. According to Randall Liu of the NFL, Sproles was the first back in 20 years with two catches of more than 50 yards and a rushing touchdown in the same game.

Not too bad for a player acquired for a fifth-round pick this offseason.

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Falcons extend long snapper Josh Harris too

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Today is the day that the Falcons take care of all family business.

All family business as it pertains to their punt team, anyway. The team announced that they have extended long snapper Josh Harris through the 2018 season. The Falcons have also extended punter Matt Bosher through 2019, which leaves kicker Matt Bryant as the only kicking specialist whose contract will be up before the next Presidential election.

Harris signed with the Falcons as an undrafted free agent from Auburn in 2012 and is in his third year as the team’s snapper. The team is obviously pleased with the job he’s done in the role and he’s also made six tackles covering kicks.

Bryant, who has joined Bosher and Harris as a fixture on special teams in Atlanta, is in the final year of his contract. He’ll turn 40 next year, but has remained a consistent and reliable kicker so the Falcons may move to keep all the band together rather than let him depart after this season.

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Peterson’s agent: This is the best possible outcome given the circumstances

Adrian Peterson AP

The Vikings changed their decision about running back Adrian Peterson’s availability following his indictment on charges of reckless or negligent injury to a child early on Wednesday morning and placed him on exempt/commissioner’s permission list.

Peterson will not play for the Vikings again until his legal proceedings related to the case have run their course and Peterson’s agent Ben Dogra told the Associated Press that he and his client feel that the current arrangement is best for all involved.

“This is the best possible outcome given the circumstances,” Dogra said. “Adrian understands the gravity of the situation and this enables him to take care of his personal situation. We fully support Adrian and he looks forward to watching his teammates and coaches being successful during his absence.”

Ed Werder of ESPN reported that the NFLPA asked Peterson if he wanted to challenge the team’s decision, but, as Dogra’s comments make clear, Peterson accepted the move to the exempt list. The growing number of sponsors expressing dissatisfaction with the Vikings’ plan to play Peterson made it clear that Peterson wasn’t going to wind up on the field this Sunday and probably not until the case was resolved, which makes settling it as soon as possible the best way for Peterson to return to the football field. His first court date is currently scheduled for October 8 in Houston.

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Gus Bradley: “Far too many” mental errors by wide receivers

Marqise Lee, Chad Henne AP

The Jaguars haven’t had Cecil Shorts in the lineup for the first two weeks of the season, leaving them to roll with three rookies at the top of the depth chart at wide receiver.

As you might imagine, there have been a lot of mistakes from players playing their first games in the NFL. As you’d also probably imagine, those mistakes have agitated head coach Gus Bradley.

Bradley said that the number of mental errors that Marqise Lee, Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson made in the Week Two loss to the Redskins was in the “double digits.” He termed that “far too many” and said that the team has already pared back the playbook to a point where he feels the players should be able to handle what’s asked of them.

“Are we asking too much? Is there too much in the game plan? Or, in turn, do they need to be held accountable for what we’re asking them to do and they need to feel a stronger sense of accountability?” Bradley said, via the Florida Times-Union. “It’s a young group, but that’s no excuse. We’re all in the NFL now. The demands we place on them, they have to be able to handle that. We’ve already cut back quite a bit. I think at times we’ve got to teach some of the players that the responsibility falls on them.”

The Jaguars will have Shorts back this week if his hamstring allows and that should help, but it won’t suddenly turn rookies into savvy veterans who have everything down pat and the loss of tight end Marcedes Lewis makes it hard to take too much off of their plates. Throw in a very shaky offensive line and it is easier to understand why the Jags are hesitant to throw Blake Bortles into the lineup at this point in the season.

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