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Ron Rivera: We want to unleash Cam Newton, but have to do it the right way

Terrell Suggs, Cam Newton AP

The Panthers have been routed by the Steelers and Ravens the last two weeks and they’ve had Cam Newton run four times for 14 yards over the course of those two games.

That’s not the Newton that ran for 28 touchdowns over the last three seasons and it’s a major part of the Panthers offense that has been completely missing this season. The reason isn’t some big secret. Newton had ankle surgery in the spring and a rib injury to start the regular season, causing some wraps to be thrown on his game but the team’s facing questions about when those wraps are going to come off.

Coach Ron Rivera said that the team wants to “unleash” Newton and move him from being one percent of the rushing offense closer to his customary 30 percent, but that they need to make sure the time is right before cutting loose.

“It’s very hard,” Rivera said, via “You can see it. You just know he wants to cut loose and do certain things. You can feel it, and a lot of times you see him start to do it, but it’s coming. We’ve got to do this the right way.”

There’s plenty wrong with Carolina’s offense right now, including an offensive line that has helped Newton get sacked nine times in three games. If he’s going to be taking those hits in the pocket, he might as well take a few outside of it as he tries to provide the spark that’s been missing in Carolina.

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Tick bite sent Rams center Scott Wells to ICU

St. Louis Rams v Cleveland Browns Getty Images

Football players ending up in the hospital with knee injuries or broken bones are almost commonplace.

But there was nothing normal about Rams center Scott Wells‘ experience this summer.

A tick bite led to a bacterial infection which landed Wells in the intensive care unit. Called ehrlichia, it’s similar to Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and can be fatal.

He thought he was suffering from the flu during June practices, but quickly realized it had gone beyond that when his urine was dark brown.

“Wednesday night I was put in ICU,” Wells said, via Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “From the way (doctors) explained it to me, it attacks your bone marrow and starts to shut down your immune system so you can’t fight it off. Then your organs start to shut down trying to fight it off.

“So it went from what seemed to be just a cold virus, flu-like symptoms, to really sick really fast.”

Wells said his body temperature reached 104.5  degrees, and he lost 20 pounds during the four days he was in the hospital.

“It took some time to gain the weight back,” Wells said. “I was in great shape when I got sick, and the doctor said that’s what helped me get through it. But I’m healthy now. I’m fine now. There’s no residual long-term effects from it. Everything is normal.”

He’s back in the lineup and normal now, but will never look at a bug bite or flu symptoms the same way again.

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Arrowhead Stadium takes back its noise record

New England Patriots v Kanas City Chiefs Getty Images

The Seahawks and Chiefs are no longer division rivals, but they do keep going back and forth at each other.

Via Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star, the Chiefs took back the record for loudest outdoor stadium during last night’s thrashing of the Patriots.

A representative from Guinness confirmed that Arrowhead Stadium reached 142.2 decibels, surpassing the previous record of 137.6 set at Seattle last season.

The Seahawks broke the previous record of 137.5 set by the Chiefs against the Raiders.

We have the feeling these two are going to be yelling at each for years to come.

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Report: Tony Sparano won’t be Raiders interim coach

New York Jets v Miami Dolphins Getty Images

In the wake of the firing of head coach Dennis Allen Monday night, one of the most logical choices for an interim replacement was assistant head coach and offensive line coach Tony Sparano.

Sparano served four years as head coach of the Miami Dolphins from 2008-2011 and has the most recent head coaching experience of any member of the Raiders coaching staff.

But according to Fallon Smith of, Sparano will not be the interim head coach of the Raiders.

Only two other coaches currently on staff would seem to be viable options – offensive coordinator Greg Olson and senior offensive assistant Al Saunders.

Saunders served as head coach of the San Diego Chargers from 1986-1988 and had the title of assistant head coach while coaching in Kansas City, St. Louis and Washington.

Olson was the assistant head coach in Jacksonville in 2012 and has been an offensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions (2004-2005), St. Louis Rams (2006-2007), and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2008-2011).

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Allen’s firing 23rd permanent in-season coaching change since 2000

Atlanta Falcons v Oakland Raiders Getty Images

The firing of Raiders coach Dennis Allen marks the 23rd time an NFL club has changed coaches in-season for reasons of resignation or termination since 2000.

Of the 22 interim coaches in this span, eight went on to earn the club’s full-time head-coaching job the next season. This includes the Raiders’ Tom Cable, who took over for Lane Kiffin in 2008, then went on to coach Oakland through 2010.

Overall, interim head coaches replacing a departed predecessor are a combined 48-81 since 2000 (.372). That’s an improvement over the combined record of the coaches who preceded them. Including Allen’s 0-4 mark with Oakland this season, coaches fired or leaving on their own accord during the season are 65-162 before their severance (.286).

Here’s the list of interim coaches since 2000. Coaches who were eventually awarded the full-time job are bolded. Coaching records are from NFL and Pro Football Reference records:

2000 (4)
Cincinnati Bengals: Dick LeBeau. Record: 4-9.
Arizona Cardinals: Dave McGinnis. Record: 1-8.
Detroit Lions: Gary Moeller. Record: 4-3.
Washington Redskins: Terry Robiskie. Record: 1-2.

2001 (1)
Minnesota Vikings: Mike Tice. Record: 0-1.                                               

2003 (1)
Atlanta Falcons: Wade Phillips. Record: 2-1.

2004 (2)
Cleveland Browns: Terry Robiskie. Record: 1-4
Miami Dolphins: Jim Bates. Record: 3-4.

2005 (1)
Detroit Lions: Dick Jauron. Record: 1-4.

2007 (1)
Atlanta Falcons: Emmitt Thomas. Record: 1-2.

2008 (3)
Oakland Raiders: Tom Cable. Record: 4-8.
San Francisco 49ers: Mike Singletary. Record: 5-4.
St. Louis Rams: Jim Haslett. Record: 2-10.

2009 (1)
Buffalo Bills: Perry Fewell. Record: 3-4.

2010 (4)
Denver Broncos: Eric Studesville. Record: 1-3.
Minnesota Vikings: Leslie Frazier. Record: 3-3.
San Francisco 49ers: Jim Tomsula. Record: 1-0.
Dallas Cowboys: Jason Garrett. Record: 5-3.

2011 (3)
Jacksonville Jaguars: Mel Tucker. Record: 2-3.
Miami Dolphins: Todd Bowles. Record: 2-1.
Kansas City Chiefs: Romeo Crennel. Record: 2-1.

2013 (1)
Houston Texans: Wade Phillips. Record: 0-3.

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Rex Ryan “confident” Dee Milliner will play in Week Five

Dee Milliner AP

For the time being, the Jets are hanging around the fringes of the AFC East race.

And it appears they will be getting one of their top cornerbacks back for Sunday’s game at San Diego.

Second-year pro Dee Milliner, who has missed 3-of-4 games this season because of injury, is expected to play in Week Five, coach Rex Ryan said Monday.

“Milliner, we will just see how he is. I know there will be a pre-practice evaluation on him on Wednesday. But I am confident he will be ready to play this week,” Ryan said, according to an interview transcript from the club.

A first-round pick in 2013, Milliner notched 56 tackles, defended 17 passes and intercepted three passes as a rookie. Even more was expected of him this season, especially after the club parted ways with Antonio Cromartie and didn’t add any marquee cornerback help in free agency or the draft.

And there would be no better time than now for Milliner to return to action while building on his rookie campaign. The Jets, who are in the midst of a three-game losing streak, have the tall order of matching up with the Chargers’ versatile and potent passing game next Sunday.

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Jamaal Charles active for Chiefs; Patriots suit up four WRs

Alex Smith, Jamaal Charles AP

The Chiefs’ top tailback is officially back in uniform.

Jamaal Charles (ankle) is active for Monday night’s game vs. New England, the team’s website announced on Twitter.

Charles’ return gives the club three active tailbacks for Monday night, with Knile Davis and Cyrus Gray also up for the Chiefs.

The Chiefs’ inactives are strong safety Eric Berry (ankle), offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, tailback Joe McKnight (Achilles), quarterback Aaron Murray, defensive end Damion Square, tailback De’Anthony Thomas (hamstring) and wide receiver Albert Wilson.

Berry, a key member of the Chiefs’ secondary, had previously been ruled out. Ron Parker is expected to start in his place.

The Patriots’ announced inactives are cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, offensive lineman Jordan Devey, wide receiver Aaron Dobson, offensive lineman Josh Kline, defensive end Zach Moore, wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins and defensive lineman Casey Walker. All but Dennard (shoulder) are healthy scratches.

With Dobson and Thompkins sitting, the Patriots have four active receivers: Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Brandon LaFell and Matthew Slater.

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Panthers sign Chris Ogbonnaya

Chris Ogbonnaya AP

A club in need of tailback help has added some.

The Panthers have signed veteran back Chris Ogbonnaya, the team said Monday.

In five NFL seasons, the 28-year-old Ogbonnaya has rushed for 660 yards and one score on 144 carries and has caught 96 passes for 714 yards and two touchdowns. The bulk of his NFL action came in the last three seasons with Cleveland, which released him in August.

The addition of Ogbonnaya comes with the Panthers’ backfield beset by injuries. DeAngelo Williams (ankle) is unlikely to play in Sunday’s game vs. Chicago, while Jonathan Stewart (knee) is on the mend.

In a corresponding roster move to Ogbonnaya’s addition, the Panthers waived tailback Tauren Poole, who lost a fumble on his lone carry in Sunday’s loss at Baltimore.

The transaction leaves the Panthers (2-2) with five tailbacks, with Darrin Reaves and Fozzy Whittaker joining Ogbonnaya as options beyond Williams and Stewart.

The Panthers also announced they had reinstated defensive end Frank Alexander, who had been suspended for the first four games of the regular season. The Panthers have received a roster exemption for Alexander.

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Joseph Fauria blames his ankle injury on his dog

Detriot Lions v Clevland Browns Getty Images

Lions tight end Joseph Fauria missed Sunday’s game against the Jets because he suffered a sprained ankle — not on the field, but in his home.

Fauria said today that the injury happened while he was on his stairs, running to try to stop his three-month-old dog from urinating in the house. His dog is named Little Rufio.

Athletes have been known to concoct stories about their injuries when they’re injured off the field doing something they shouldn’t be doing. But this story is probably too ridiculous to be a lie. If you were going to make something up, wouldn’t you come up with something more believable?

The Lions have had odd injuries to their receiving corps before. Last year, the Lions lost receiver Nate Burleson for several games after he broke his arm in a car accident he caused by steering into a wall while reaching over into the passenger seat to keep a pizza from sliding onto the floor.

In Fauria’s absence, rookie tight end Eric Ebron got more playing time Sunday against the Jets. He made the most of it, catching a touchdown pass, and Fauria said he did a little dance to celebrate while watching from home.

“I almost sprained my other ankle celebrating Eric’s score,” Fauria said.

But Fauria may have to worry that Ebron’s stellar play could squeeze him out of the lineup. If so, Little Rufio may no longer be Fauria’s best friend.

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Jaguars make a change at safety

Eddie Royal, Winston Guy AP

The Jaguars shuffled their roster last week in the wake of a third straight loss and they kicked off the week after loss No. 4 by doing the same thing.

The team announced that they have released safety Winston Guy and signed safety Craig Loston off their practice squad.

Guy was a starter for the first three weeks of the season, but the Jags moved him to the bench in favor of Josh Evans in Week Four. Guy saw one snap on defense in Sunday’s loss to the Chargers and it didn’t do much to recommend him for more work in the future as wide receiver Eddie Royal got behind him for one of his two touchdowns on the day.

Guy joins tackle Cameron Bradfield as opening day starters in Jacksonville who have since lost their spots on the roster.

Loston signed with the Jags this offseason as an undrafted free agent after finishing his career at LSU. He’ll back up Evans and Jonathan Cyprien, although the rate of turnover could lead to a bigger job on the defense before too long.

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Eagles get Lane Johnson back from suspension

Wild Card Playoffs - New Orleans Saints v Philadelphia Eagles Getty Images

Eagles coach Chip Kelly correctly pointed out that his team’s offensive line got “whooped” against the 49ers in Sunday’s loss, a result that isn’t all that surprising given they were playing without three starters.

One of the missing first-teamers is back on Monday. Right tackle Lane Johnson’s suspension came to an end after the loss and the Eagles announced Monday that he has been added to the 53-man roster. The Eagles lost his replacement Allen Barbre to a season-ending injury, which would seem to make Johnson’s quick return to the starting lineup a sure thing but coach Chip Kelly said the team has to sort out Johnson’s condition before making any plans.

“We haven’t seen him for a month,” Kelly said, via the team. “He told me he was at API in Dallas working out and there were some other players there. He looked good. It’s just the unknown. Where’s he at? How does he process things? How quickly does he get back into the swing of things? Where is he from a health standpoint?”

The paltry results in the running game and hits on Nick Foles over the last two games make the need for help on the offensive line clear, which should mean Johnson’s back in the lineup sooner rather than later.

The Eagles released offensive lineman Kevin Graf to open up a roster spot for Johnson.

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Redskins bring back Richard Crawford

cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptu3zgywmtawogjmzmfmmtnjmjmwyta0ndjjmjg0odq2 AP

Safety Jamarca Sanford isn’t the only defensive back joining the Redskins this week.

The Redskins announced that they have signed Sanford and added that cornerback Richard Crawford will also be added to the roster.

It’s not Crawford’s first stint in Washington. Crawford was a 2012 seventh-round pick and played 10 games with the team as a rookie. He tore ligaments in his knee last summer, missed the entire season and then got cut in August. He signed to the practice squad early this month, but was dropped a short time later. His previous experience doesn’t offer much suggestion that he’s the answer to the team’s problems in pass coverage, but there aren’t many difference making cornerbacks on the market in late September.

At the very least, Crawford give the teams another option with DeAngelo Hall out for the season. He joins Bashaud Breeland, David Amerson, Chase Minnifield, E.J. Biggers and Tracy Porter on the depth chart.

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Marrone does a 180 on Orton

Manuel AP

Several weeks ago, Bills coach Doug Marrone was miffed that the front office decided to sign veteran quarterback Kyle Orton.  Marrone believed that the move would undermine the potentially fragile confidence of starter EJ Manuel.

Now, Marrone feels differently.

Per a league source, the decision to bench Manuel in favor of Orton was Marrone’s call.  Presumably, Marrone realizes that new owners Terry and Kim Pegula will clean house unless the team is so good that the fans wouldn’t tolerate change.

And so in a last-ditch effort to avoid change at the highest levels of the football operation, Marrone needed to change quarterbacks.

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Lovie Smith won’t commit to Mike Glennon for this week

Mike Glennon AP

Quarterback Mike Glennon led the Buccaneers to their first win of the season on Sunday, but coach Lovie Smith wasn’t willing to name him the starter for Tampa’s trip to New Orleans in Week Five.

Smith was asked whether Glennon would start against the Saints if Josh McCown’s thumb got a clean bill of health this week. Smith declined to answer, saying that he makes his decisions at every position based on who is available and who would give the team the best chance to win. He also referred to Glennon as the team’s quarterback of the future when discussing Glennon’s performance.

“When you’re labeled ‘quarterback of the future,’ that’s what you’re supposed to do when you come out,” Smith said, via

McCown was expected to test his thumb on Monday as part of the process of determining whether or not he’ll need surgery, so a bad result on that front could make the decision easy for the Bucs. It would also keep Smith from having to make any longer commitment to Glennon based on one game, something that seems to appeal to the coach.

If things go the other way, things are a bit more difficult but Glennon did enough on Sunday to merit another look. The second half saw the team move the ball better than it had in McCown’s two-plus games, which makes it tempting to find out whether or not the quarterback of the future should also be the quarterback of the present.

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Colts cut Da’Rick Rogers moments after arrest is reported

darickrogers2 AP

The Colts wasted no time in cutting Da’Rick Rogers.

Just moments after word surfaced that Rogers had been arrested for driving under the influence, coach Chuck Pagano told reporters that the team had cut Rogers.

“We have released Da’Rick Rogers for conduct detrimental,” Pagano said, via Mike Chappell of RTV6. “We’ve released him. Would be inappropriate to speak further on that.”

Rogers, who led the SEC in catches and yards during his sophomore season at Tennessee, has great talent as a receiver. But he left Tennessee because of failed drug tests and was already on thin ice in the NFL. This arrest sealed his fate, and may have ended his NFL career.

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