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MNF ratings plunge, due to presidential debate

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

ESPN expected it to be bad. And it was.

Via SportsMediaWatch.com, the overnight rating for Monday’s Falcons-Saints game came in at 5.7. That’s a 36-percent drop over last year’s Chiefs-Packers Week Three Monday game and the lowest rating of any nationally-televised game of the season.

The rating peaked at 6.9 from 8:45 to 9:00 p.m. ET, which is no surprise; as of 9:00 p.m. ET, the presidential debate began, and the channel-changing happened. The Trump-Clinton clash notched a massive 46.2 overnight rating across all broadcast and cable networks.

The next presidential debate happens on October 9, and it conflicts with the Week Five game between the Packers and Giants on Sunday Night Football.

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Josh McDaniels: I have one of the best jobs in the world

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 22:  New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels reacts before the game against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium on September 22, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) Getty Images

Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels has devised game plans for two different backup quarterbacks in the first three weeks of the season and the Patriots have won all three of their games, which is the sort of thing that could be appealing to teams looking for a new head coach once the 2016 season comes to an end.

It’s way too early to know which teams may be taking part in those searches, but McDaniels’ previous success putting together the offense in New England only makes it likelier that they’ll be gauging his interest in a second spin as a head coach.

McDaniels has been mentioned as a candidate in the past couple of offseasons without anything developing. He sounds open to the idea while making it clear he’s happy as a member of Bill Belichick’s staff.

“I love where I’m at,” McDaniels said on WEEI. “I’ve said before that I think we all have aspirations to grow and get better and improve and eventually move up and what have you. Who knows? Maybe that day happens, maybe it doesn’t. But I know this, is I’m really thankful I have the opportunity I have to coach the players that we have here, and to work underneath Bill and Robert [Kraft] and the Kraft family. It’s a privilege here. I feel like I have one of the best jobs in the world. I’m just thankful I have an opportunity to come here and do it each week. It’s a great honor to do that. Like I said, I enjoy it so much working with these guys here each week.”

McDaniels’ run as the Broncos head coach wasn’t a great success, but teams need only look to his boss (or the guy who beat his boss in two Super Bowls) for an example of a coach who improved in his second time running the whole show. The questions for McDaniels will likely be whether any of the openings are of interest and whether teams will wait for him if New England takes another deep playoff run.

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Colts place Trent Cole on injured reserve

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 20: Kendall Langford #90, Trent Cole #58 and T.Y. McGill #67 of the Indianapolis Colts celebrate a sack against the Houston Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 20, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Colts have gotten healthier in the secondary of late, but they’ve lost a linebacker for the rest of the season.

The team announced Tuesday that outside linebacker Trent Cole has been placed on injured reserve. Cole has been dealing with a back injury that forced him to miss Indy’s Week Two loss to the Broncos and was listed as questionable for last Sunday’s game, but was able to play in the victory over the Chargers.

Cole assisted on a tackle against San Diego, leaving him with three on the season, and had 32 tackles and three sacks during his first season with the Colts. Cole spent the first 10 years of his career with the Eagles before joining the Colts as a free agent last year.

The Colts are left with Robert Mathis, Erik Walden, Akeem Ayers and Curt Maggitt at outside linebacker. They could add another to fill Cole’s roster spot and they’ll need to find a player with a valid passport if they want to do it for this week’s London game against the Jaguars.

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Maybe La’el Collins isn’t having surgery after all

Dallas Cowboys compete in the Reliant Home Run Derby Getty Images

Cowboys left guard La’El Collins is definitely having surgery. Unless he isn’t.

ESPN’s Ed Werder has updated his previous report that Collins would have big toe surgery and go on injured reserve, by now saying that Collins is seeking a second opinion in hopes of avoiding surgery.

While Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said on his weekly radio spot on 105.3 The Fan that Collins was hoping to avoid surgery and that it was “a pain thing,” a source close to Collins told Werder that wasn’t the case.

“[It] has nothing to do with pain,” the source said. “The kid is tough as hell. It’s dependent on the injury.”

So there you have it. He’s having surgery or not, and it’s a matter of pain tolerance or it isn’t. Got it.

Either way, Collins will be replaced in the starting lineup by Ronald Leary, who started there for two seasons before being replaced by Collins. He wanted to be traded this offseason, but they didn’t want to give him up, presumably in case one of their starters ended up needed surgery or not needing surgery.

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Laquon Treadwell won’t play until he practices better

SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 18:  Wide receiver Laquon Treadwell #11 of the Minnesota Vikings in action against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on August 18, 2016 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) Getty Images

Through three games of the season, Vikings receiver Laquon Treadwell is one of this year’s most disappointing first-round rookies: He dressed but didn’t play in Week One, got on the field for only two snaps in Week Two, and was inactive in Week Three.

So what will it take for Treadwell to start playing?

“He has to continue to do better in practice,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. “He’s working, just biding his time until he gets an opportunity like how [Stefon] Diggs was last year. I still think he’s thinking about the number of steps to take on each route and things like that, being at the right depth.”

When the Vikings took Treadwell with the 23rd overall pick in the draft, they surely thought he could make an immediate contribution to their offense. Instead, he’s a bench warmer. Zimmer seems confident that Treadwell will eventually prove on the practice field that he belongs on the field on Sundays, but that hasn’t happened yet.

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Tyler Eifert “still working through some things”

CINCINNATI, OH - JANUARY 3: Tight end Tyler Eifert #85 of the Cincinnati Bengals makes a catch while being tackled by inside linebacker Daryl Smith #51 of the Baltimore Ravens during the first quarter at Paul Brown Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andrew Weber/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Bengals got tight end Tyler Eifert back on the practice field last week for the first time since his offseason ankle surgery, which wasn’t enough for him to play against the Broncos in Week Three but it did raise hopes that he’ll be able to play when they host the Dolphins this Thursday night.

Eifert was again listed as a limited participant in Monday’s practice, although that was just an estimation of what he would have done since the Bengals didn’t actually hold a practice. Coach Marvin Lewis deemed Eifert “close” to returning when he spoke to the media, but Thursday may be too close.

Eifert said, via Mike Garafolo of NFL Media, that he is “still working through some things” while stressing the need for “patience” and “trusting the process” that will get him back into the lineup without risking further injury that will keep him from helping the Bengals improve on their 1-2 start.

If the process dictates another week on the sideline for Eifert, he’ll have 10 days before the team heads to Dallas to face the Cowboys in Week Five.

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Bashaud Breeland has “moderate” high ankle strain

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 25:  Bashaud Breeland #26 of the Washington Redskins is carted off the field in the first quarter against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on September 25, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Redskins know that safety DeAngelo Hall won’t be back in the lineup this season due to the torn ACL he suffered against the Giants and they may be without one of their other starters in the secondary for a bit.

Cornerback Bashaud Breeland went for an MRI on the ankle he hurt in Sunday’s victory and coach Jay Gruden said Monday, via the Washington Post, that Breeland is dealing with a “moderate” high-ankle strain. The plan is for Breeland to be evaluated on a week-to-week basis, which suggests that he’ll likely miss Week Four’s game against the Browns.

Breeland was replaced by Dashaun Phillips against the Giants, but Phillips tweaked his hamstring during the game. That could open the door for third-round pick Kendall Fuller.

The Redskins also lost a pair of offensive linemen during the game. Gruden used “moderate” to describe center Kory Lichtensteiger’s calf strain and left guard Shawn Lauvao’s ankle sprain as well. Left tackle Trent Williams moved to guard to replace Lauvao, but Gruden said the team hasn’t decided how they’d proceed without the two players this week.

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Adam Gase tired of mistakes, ready to bench guys if need be

Miami Dolphins head coach Adam Gase shouts from the sideline during the first half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne) AP

Dolphins coach Adam Gase is demanding accountability, and he is more than prepared to bench guys to prove his point.

The latest was right tackle Ja’Wuan James, who was pulled after allowing a strip-sack fumble near the end of regulation, which would have been costly if the Browns could hit field goals.

“I’m over discussing any of this stuff with players,” Gase said, via Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald. “We’re either going to start getting the job done, or we’re going to make changes.”

Gase didn’t promise that James would return to the starting lineup Thursday night against the Bengals, and was generally displeased with the protection being offered to quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who has been hit 19 times in 132 dropbacks.

“We just want guys to do it right,” Gase said. “Whoever wants to do it right, those are the guys that we’re going to put out there. Talent’s irrelevant at this point. . . .

”It’s hard to throw a ball with any kind of timing where they pressure and we get it picked up, but we get beat so fast that the quarterback doesn’t even have a chance.”

Gase is clearly protective of Tannehill, knowing that’s his best chance to be successful in the short term there. But if he’s not upright, he can’t do that.

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Kyle Rudolph praises Sam Bradford’s toughness

Minnesota Vikings' Sam Bradford (8) is sacked by Carolina Panthers' Lavar Edwards (93) in the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn) AP

Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford has made a great impact on his teammates, and not just because of his ability to throw a football. On Monday, tight end Kyle Rudolph became the most recent Vikings to praise Bradford’s ability to take a hit.

“I think the biggest thing that I’ve learned about Sam is just how tough he is,” Rudolph said on PFT Live. “The way that he stood in there not only yesterday but also last week taking hit after hit after hit and still making throws downfield. A couple throws come to mind against Green Bay last week to [Stephon] Diggs and you don’t really see it until you go back and watch the tape. He’s got a lot of guts and a lot of grit and he stands in there and throws the ball downfield knowing he’s gonna take a hit.”

The passing game has become more important given the knee injury suffered by running back Adrian Peterson.

“Anytime you lose a player of that magnitude it has an effect,” Rudolph said of Peterson. “We kind of went through it with Teddy [Bridgewater] a little under a month ago and you can never replace a player of that caliber. They’re just irreplaceable but it was kind of the message when Teddy went down and it’s been the message unfortunately throughout the early part of our season. Each guy on the team has to do one more thing better and get a little better each day and try to make up that ground that we’re missing when you lose a great player.”

Even without a couple of great players, the Vikings could be on the verge of becoming great.

“For us it’s about getting better each and every week,” Rudolph said. “Obviously, we think we have a ton of talent. We wouldn’t have traded a first-round pick for a quarterback at the beginning of the season if our organization didn’t believe that we can win now and believe in the talent that we have in that locker room but for us it’s about sticking to what we do. Playing complimentary football, playing smart football and winning the game in the fourth quarter.”

They’ve done it for three straight Sundays, getting better as the game unfolds. The next chance comes Monday night, against the Giants.

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Despite finishing game with glove, Matt Ryan says thumb is fine

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) runs off the field after an NFL football game  against the New Orleans Saints in New Orleans, Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. The Falcons won 45-32. (AP Photo/Bill Feig) AP

Matt Ryan was able to flash a thumb’s up last night, and said any issue with his thumb during the game was not a problem moving forward.

According to Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com, Ryan appeared to hurt his left (non-throwing) thumb during last night’s win over the Saints.

After being sacked by Nick Fairley in the fourth quarter, he went to the sideline and was getting checked by athletic trainers. When he returned to the game, he was wearing a glove on his left hand.

I took a hit on it in the game, but I’m fine,” Ryan said. “Put a glove on just to make sure I’d get a good grip afterwards. But I’m fine. I feel pretty good.”

Whatever degree of issue it was, Falcons coach Dan Quinn wasn’t even aware of it after the game, so it’s reasonable to think it’s no big deal.

Ryan’s been among the most durable quarterbacks in the league, not missing a game since 2009 when a turf toe injury sidelined him.

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Packers’ Jared Cook suffers high ankle sprain

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 18: Jared Cook #89 of the Green Bay Packers is tackled by Trae Waynes #26 of the Minnesota Vikings during the fourth quarter of the game on September 18, 2016 at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the Packers 17-14. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Getty Images

Packers tight end Jared Cook is expected to miss some time with a high ankle sprain.

Although there’s been no official word from the team and the Packers are on their bye this week, a high ankle sprain usually takes several weeks to heal, so it’s unlikely that he’d be on the field when they return in Week Five against the Giants.

Cook was seen in the Packers’ locker room on crutches and wearing a protective boot.

Through three games, Cook is fourth on the team with six catches.

While Cook is out, Richard Rodgers and Justin Perillo will get more playing time at tight end. Devon Cajuste could be called up from the practice squad if the Packers think they need a third healthy tight end on the roster.

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Tuesday morning one-liners

GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 25: Eddie Lacy #27 of the Green Bay Packers runs against the Detroit Lions
at Lambeau Field on September 25, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Bills defense was more aggressive against the Cardinals.

Dolphins coach Adam Gase said there may be lineup changes coming.

What did Patriots coach Bill Belichick see in DL John Hughes?

A look at why the Jets passed so much in the red zone.

Ravens G Alex Lewis is going through the concussion protocol.

LB Vontaze Burfict is back for the Bengals.

Browns WR Corey Coleman promises a full-speed return from his broken hand.

What will RB Le’Veon Bell’s return mean for the Steelers offense?

Texans coach Bill O’Brien said that his team has put last week’s loss behind them.

Rookie G Joe Haeg had a good showing for the Colts against the Chargers.

What’s the problem with the Jaguars running game?

The Titans hope WR Kendall Wright can get on the field this week.

QB Trevor Siemian continues to earn rave reviews from the Broncos.

RB Jamaal Charles‘ return still looms in the future for the Chiefs.

Nine rookies saw time for the Raiders in their Week Three win.

Said Chargers coach Mike McCoy of Achilles injuries suffered by his players, “We’re going to do all the research we can definitely to figure out, is there something we can do to help the players, but we do that every year.”

Said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett of QB Dak Prescott, “We haven’t just put the handcuffs on him, if you will. We let him play. He’s seen a lot of different fronts, a lot of different covers, a lot of different pressures.”

How will the Giants shuffle their running backs with Shane Vereen injured?

The Eagles will stick with RB Ryan Mathews as a starter when he’s healthy.

Coach Jay Gruden may have revived the Redskins again.

The Bears aren’t generating much pass rush.

The Lions waived LB Zaviar Gooden on Monday.

Packers RB Eddie Lacy is pleased with how the season has opened for him.

Coach Mike Zimmer says that a strong Vikings defense is the product of a team effort.

S Keanu Neal had a good night in his Falcons debut.

Panthers CB James Bradberry isn’t going to make a lot of headlines talking about Julio Jones this week.

There don’t appear to be any easy answers for the Saints defense.

Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter is talking about the need for a winning culture.

The Cardinals are trying to get back on track this week.

How did the Rams deal with Sunday’s extended weather delay?

Five takeaways from the 49ers’ loss in Week Three.

RB Christine Michael might have done enough to start for the Seahawks even if Thomas Rawls was healthy.

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Jets kicking the tires on C.J. Spiller today

Spiller Getty Images

The Jets are pushing all kinds of buttons at the moment, including taking a look at some veteran players who could help them now.

According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the Jets are working out running back C.J. Spiller today.

The former Bills first-rounder has worked out for the Packers since being released by the Saints, so it’s unclear if teams think he’s physically ready to contribute.

The Jets have only been keeping two backs active on game days, with Matt Forte and Bilal Powell setting into their complementary roles.

But between the “come-to-Jesus meeting” and claiming guys like Austin Seferian-Jenkins off waivers, it’s clear the Jets are feeling a bit of pressure already after a 1-2 start.

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Jets have a “come-to-Jesus meeting” on Monday

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 25: Head coach Todd Bowles of the New York Jets oversees warm ups before the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on September 25, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) Getty Images

It’s early enough in the season that we don’t quite know exactly what some teams will turn out to be come the final weeks of the year and the Jets have to hope that they wind up looking more like the team that won in Buffalo in Week Two than the one that lost in Kansas City in Week Three.

They don’t have much time to ruminate on the topic before the Seahawks are in town and then it is on to road games in Pittsburgh and Arizona with the 1-2 Jets’ margin for error slimmer after their eight-turnover disaster against the Chiefs. Of course, a margin for error won’t matter much at all if that outing turns out to be who the Jets are this season.

That wouldn’t be a good look for coach Todd Bowles, who started off this week with a speech to his team that tried to get them moving forward after a bad loss.

“Every time you lose like that, you have to have a come-to-Jesus meeting,” Bowles said in comments distributed by the team. “We talked about accountability and just understanding where we are in the season and who we are and what we need to be, pretty much. … Throughout the course of the season, there will be a bunch of turning points. It’s not going to be the last time we face adversity. There are going to be several times down the road where we face adversity. We just have to learn from our mistakes.”

Bowles didn’t delve into specifics about what the Jets might do differently moving forward, but the broad strokes are obvious enough for a team that has looked pretty good over the last two seasons when they aren’t handing the ball to the opposition.

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John Harbaugh likes Steve Smith’s fire, on and off the field

Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith (89) runs as Jacksonville Jaguars strong safety Johnathan Cyprien (37) makes the tackle after a reception during the second half of an NFL football game in Jacksonville, Fla., Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton) AP

Not only was Ravens coach John Harbaugh caught in the middle of the conversation between Steve Smith and Jaguars rookie cornerback Jalen Ramsey, it’s clear that’s where he wanted to be.

Harbaugh said he enjoyed seeing his veteran wide receiver send a little back Ramsey’s way in the post-game.

I got caught in the middle of that,” Harbaugh said, via Edward Lee of the Baltimore Sun. “It was kind of fun, it was fun. I thought Steve Smith had a heck of a game. If that’s how he responds to whatever challenge put before him out there, I’m for it. I’m for that happening every week. I thought he responded quite well.”

Smith had just logged his best game of the year, with a team-high eight catches for 87 yards, so a little jawing back and forth (in person and on Twitter, where Smith eviscerated the kid) from a 37-year-old coming off a torn Achilles was a good sign.

“He’s looked good to me from Day 1,” Harbaugh said. “I saw a bunch of plays made yesterday, I saw a lot of competitive fire, and he was critical for us. He made some huge chunk plays when we needed him the most. So I haven’t had any concerns about Steve at all really, all year. I’m sure glad he’s on our side, and I’m looking forward to seeing how he plays this week.”

And he’s probably also looking forward to the next clash with some poor corner, which you know is inevitable.

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