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Julius Thomas practices, Fox dubs tight end “day to day”

Thomas Getty Images

Broncos tight end Julius Thomas, who hasn’t done much since injuring an ankle 11 days ago, participated in Thursday’s practice on a limited basis.

Via Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com, it’s the most Thomas has done in the aftermath of the injury.

Coach John Fox declined to say much about whether Thomas will face the Chiefs on Sunday night.

“We’re just day to day,” Fox said, via quotes distributed by the team.  “I don’t like trying to predict the future.”

A label will be applied to the expected availability of Thomas on Friday.

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Acho active for Eagles

Acho Getty Images

As the Eagles prefer to face a pick-your-poison offense, they’ll have a defensive player who was injured on Sunday in uniform.

Linebacker Emmanuel Acho is active and will play after injuring a groin against the Titans.  He has been splitting time with Casey Matthews at inside linebacker in place of DeMeco Ryans, who tore an Achilles tendon several weeks ago.

Inactive for the Eagles are quarterback Nick Foles, cornerback Roc Carmichael, safety Jaylen Watkins, offensive lineman Julian Vandervelde, offensive lineman Dennis Kelly, receiver Jeff Maehl, and Taylor Hart.

The Cowboys’ inactives include quarterback Dustin Vaughan, cornerback Tyler Patmon, safety Jeff Heath, linebacker Dekoda Watson, offensive tackle Tony Hills, offensive tackle Donald Hawkins, and defensive tackle Josh Brent.

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New stadium isn’t giving the 49ers a true home-field advantage

49ers Getty Images

The 49ers christened a new home stadium this year, but they’re still waiting for a new home-field advantage.

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News takes a look at the relatively tranquil” atmosphere at Levi’s Stadium.  And Kawakami makes a great point — if a home-field advantage doesn’t emerge tonight against the Seahawks, it never will.

The 49ers are 3-2 at home this season, with no convincing victories.  Most recently, San Francisco barely beat Washington.

The toughest test comes against the Seahawks.  As Kawakami said, if it’s not loud and raucous in Santa Clara tonight, perhaps it never will be.

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More than half of the 2012 top 10 may not have options exercised

Luck Getty Images

Once the 2014 regular season ends, players drafted in 2012 will become eligible for new contracts.  By May 3, teams holding the rights of first-round picks must decide whether to extend their rookie deals for a fifth year.

Based on the performance of the first 10 players taken in 2012, there’s a good chance more than half of them won’t have their contracts extended.  Here’s a look at each of them.

1.  Andrew Luck, Colts:  The option definitely will be exercised.  Based on how the Colts dealt with Peyton Manning, Luck presumably won’t get a long-term deal until he completes his rookie contract and has the franchise tag applied.

2.  Robert Griffin III, Washington:  As of right now, it’s not looking good.  To say the least.

3.  Trent Richardson, Colts:  Traded from the Browns after one season and still disappointing in his second year in Indy, the Colts most likely won’t extend Richardon’s deal.

4.  Matt Kalil, Vikings:  Solid at times and spectacularly bad in big moments, there’s a strong belief that the Vikings won’t extend Kalil’s contract.  Just like they didn’t extend Christian Ponder’s.

5.  Justin Blackmon, Jaguars:  His option won’t come due in May because his rookie deal has been tolled by a suspension that has lasted more than a calendar year.

6.  Morris Claiborne, Cowboys:  He had fallen out of favor — and out of the starting lineup — before suffering a season-ending injury.  Dallas undoubtedly will pass.

7.  Mark Barron, Rams:  Traded from Tampa at the October deadline, the Rams most likely won’t be inclined to make the investment necessary to keep him from the open market after four seasons.

8.  Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins:  This could be the toughest decision for any team in the top 10.  Tannehill has been good but not great.  Productive but erratic.  Still, if they let him go after four seasons, who will the quarterback be?  That’s probably enough to swing the pendulum to yes.

9.  Luke Kuechly, Panthers:  Yes, without question.

10.  Stephon Gilmore, Bills:  A solid contributor but not yet a star player, it could be more of an investment than the team wants to make.  Especially if there’s a new coach or G.M. after the season.

To summarize, Luck and Kuechly are locks.  Tannehill is likely to get the option.  Beyond that, who knows?

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NFL: Rams-Raiders will remain in St. Louis

Shaun Hill AP

On Wednesday, there was a report in the Indianapolis Star about the “remote possibility” that Sunday’s game between the Raiders and Rams would be moved from St. Louis to a Monday start in Indianapolis because of the ongoing tension in Ferguson, Missouri.

The report said that Lucas Oil Stadium was ready to serve as a site for the game in the event that a decision was made that it wasn’t safe enough to play as scheduled, but that won’t be necessary. While we don’t know when that tension in Ferguson will ease, we do know that the remote possibility is no longer a possibility at all.

Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com passes along word from a league spokesman that the game will be played as scheduled at the Edward Jones Dome with a 1 p.m. ET kickoff on Sunday. That avoids a second straight week with two Monday night games after the Jets and Bills were shifted to Detroit in Week 12 after the mammoth blizzard that buried Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo.

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Will any Thanksgiving records fall today?

OJ Getty Images

As the first of three Thanksgiving games approaches, let’s take a quick look at the history of the best of the best performances on the fourth Thursday in November.

Courtesy of the 2014 Official NFL Record & Fact Book, here are the single-game records from the league’s annual Thanksgiving game.

On Thanksgiving Day in 1929, Ernie Nevers scored six touchdowns for the Cardinals in a game against the Bears.  On three other Thanksgiving occasions, players have scored four times.  Most recently, NBCSN’s Brian Westbrook racked up a quartet of touchdowns for the Eagles against the Cardinals in 2008.

Another record could be a little easier to beat today, but not much.  On Thanksgiving in 1976, Bills running back O.J. Simpson (pictured) gained 273 yards on the ground against the Lions.  There hasn’t even been another 200-yard Thanksgiving rushing performance, with Bob Hoernschemeyer gaining 198 for the Lions in 1950 against the New York Yankees, and Earl Campbell grinding out 195 for the Oilers against the Cowboys in 1979.

Through the air, Troy Aikman passed for 455 yards against the Vikings on the day then-rookie Randy Moss exploded for three touchdowns on three catches.  Matthew Stafford nearly matched that total for the Lions in 2012, with 441 yards passing.  And long before Scott Mitchell went for nearly four spins on the scale, he threw for 410 yards for the Lions in a 1995 Thanksgiving Day win over the Vikings.

When it comes to receiving yardage, Jim Benton of the Cleveland Rams racked up 303 yards against the Lions 69 years ago on Thanksgiving.  The next highest total came in 2012, with Andre Johnson generating 188 yards for the Texans against the Lions.

Will any of those records fall today?  It’s one of the wrinkles that will fascinate fans and fantasy owners as kickoff approaches.

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Colts make a change at cornerback

Cassius Vaughn, Jalil Brown, Randy Bullock AP

The arrival of Shaun Phillips isn’t the only change for the Indianapolis defense this week.

The team announced that they have signed cornerback Jalil Brown and waived cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy.

Brown was released by the Dolphins earlier in the week and will be making his third tour of duty with the Colts. Brown spent time with them late last season and played two games with them earlier this year. Brown also has another spell with the Dolphins and began his career with the Chiefs after they took him in the fourth round of the 2011 draft.

He’ll likely fill the same special teams-centric role that Purifoy played for the team, although there’s a chance he could see time on defense with Vontae Davis, Josh Gordy and Greg Toler all appearing on this week’s injury report.

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Peterson materials due to be filed by Friday

Peterson Getty Images

Next Tuesday, the appeal hearing in Adrian Peterson’s case will commence at 10:00 a.m. ET.  Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Peterson has until Friday, November 28 to submit any materials that he intends to introduce at the hearing.

It’s unknown what, if anything, Peterson will introduce.  Peterson submitted nothing to the NFL before the decision was made to suspend him for the rest of the 2014 season.

What Peterson submits potentially could have a huge impact on the outcome of the appeal.  If, of course, hearing officer Harold Henderson is willing to break from his track record of siding with the NFL in these appeals.

It’s unclear how quickly a ruling will be issued.  In theory, Peterson could be back as soon as December 7, for a visit from the Jets.

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Odell Beckham gives all the love to the glove

Odell Beckham Jr. AP

Making the catch of the year was mostly Odell Beckham.

But the Giants wide receiver admitted he’s not sure if he could have made his now-famous, falling-backward, three-fingered catch without his gloves.

I have no idea,” Beckham said, via Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News.

Beckham’s gloves are Nike Vapor Jets, size XXXL (which may also explain how he catches flying things with one hand), which he’s been wearing since his college days at LSU.

“I definitely told them they were some of my favorites that they made,” Beckham said. “It’s just the way that they fit. They’re a tight fit, they’re very light, and they feel like they’re a part of your hand.”

If the gloves were the secret, everyone would be wearing them, but we suspect Beckham’s hands deserve a little more of the credit.

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Report: Indy ready for “remote possibility” of Rams game moving

St. Louis Rams vs San Diego Chargers Getty Images

While it seems unlikely at this point, the NFL has at least looked into the chance of moving Sunday’s Raiders-Rams game in St. Louis because of the tension in nearby Ferguson.

According to Gregg Doyel of the Indianapolis Star, a league source called it a “remote possibility,” though Indianapolis would be ready to host the game Monday if need be.

He cited public safety officials saying they’d be ready and concessions workers saying they were “on call,” if the game needed to be played there Monday.

While it’s likely just a contingency plan (one which frankly every team should have in a folder in a locked drawer somwhere), the fact it’s a possibility should underscore the seriousness of the situation in Missouri.

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Sean Payton reminding Saints of past turnarounds

Sean Payton AP

When the Saints won the Super Bowl after the 2009 season, they became the first team to take home a Lombardi Trophy after losing their final three games of the regular season.

That doesn’t mean that every team with championship aspirations should be trying to drop games at the end of the season, but it does mean that good runs can follow bad ones over the course of a year. That’s a message that Saints coach Sean Payton is trying to send to this year’s edition after they dropped three straight games at the Superdome to miss a chance to grab control of the NFC South.

Instead they fell to 4-7 and Payton feels there’s “value to referencing” past turnarounds in New Orleans and elsewhere as a way to keep the team focused on what’s still possible for them this season.

“You’re constantly, as a teacher, trying to do that,” Payton said, via the Associated Press. “You look at some parallels, some comparisons.”

Whether it’s those Saints, a Giants team that saved Tom Coughlin’s job or any of the other moments in sports history when a contender rose off the mat, there are plenty of examples that show it ain’t over until it’s over. This version of the Saints will have to play much better to join those teams, starting with this Sunday in Pittsburgh.

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Thursday morning one-liners

Terrell Suggs (55) AP

Donte Whitner’s not backing off comments he made about Buffalo and the Bills.

The Dolphins aren’t fooling themselves about the late-season danger of the Jets.

Patriots special teamer Matt Slater is thankful for a new contract.

The Jets fans who buy billboards have a new target — owner Woody Johnson.

Ravens OLB Terrell Suggs reached the 100-sack milestone last week.

The Bengals are comfortable on the road.

Browns LB Karlos Dansby is “close” to coming back from a knee injury.

Steelers backup RBs Dri Archer and Josh Harris are ready for their chance to run.

Finding an answer at QB tops the Texans’ offseason priorities (since it didn’t last offseason).

The Colts can’t be sure their running game will carry them into January.

After poking holes in QB Blake Bortles earlier in the week, Jaguars coach Gus Bradley was building him back up.

The Titans added a LB after releasing veteran Shaun Phillips.

Broncos LB Danny Trevathan returned to practice.

The Chiefs will have a tough time replacing S Eric Berry.

Raiders G Gabe Jackson is working his way back to the starting lineup.

Chargers C Chris Watt is the next man up, again.

Cowboys LB Keith Smith is riding the practice squad roller coaster.

The Giants are trying to blitz, it’s just not working.

The Eagles are still giving up far too many downfield plays.

Some Washington teammates were surprised by the decision to bench Robert Griffin III.

The Bears can’t worry about style points today.

Will this be Lions DT Ndamukong Suh’s last Thanksgiving with the team?

Packers WR Jordy Nelson isn’t sure which Patriots CB he’ll draw.

Vikings RT Phil Loadholt expects to be back by training camp.

The Falcons added some WR depth to the practice squad.

The Panthers aren’t expecting DT Star Lotulelei back this week.

Saints TE Benjamin Watson’s Facebook post about Ferguson went viral.

The Buccaneers continue to be hamstrung by a series of, well, hamstrings.

Cardinals DE Josh Mauro made a good first impression.

Rams WR Stedman Bailey has emerged as an option in the passing game again.

49ers RT Jonathan Martin is set to make his seventh start tonight.

The Seahawks are back on top of the league’s defensive rankings.

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Michael Bush: I didn’t get a “fair shake” in Chicago

Michael Bush AP

The Cardinals signed veteran running back Michael Bush this week, ending a spell on the unemployment line that started when Bush was released by the Bears in March.

Bush’s departure from Chicago came after two years with the team as the No. 2 behind Matt Forte, but Bush says the 2013 season isn’t one that he really counts. Bush, who ran the ball 63 times for 197 yards, feels like the Bears didn’t make enough use of him during Marc Trestman’s first year as a head coach.

“When people ask me how long I was in Chicago, I say one season because last year, where was I?” Bush said, via ESPN.com. “It has nothing to do with Forte because he played great. He’s a hell of a running back. I just think that I didn’t get a fair shake. And I’m not trying to complain or anything, but if you look at it, maybe two games I didn’t touch the field.”

Bush said he thinks that the limited usage hurt his efforts to get another job after parting ways with the Bears, although he may be underrating the impact that his mediocre first season in Chicago and being 30 had on team’s minds. Bush is fresh at a time in the season when that’s a rarity, however, and that should help him prove that the Bears and the rest of the league overlooked a player who still has something to offer.

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Browns teammates said Josh Gordon needed to “find himself”

Cleveland Browns v Atlanta Falcons Getty Images

Josh Gordon said he felt alienated during his suspension, felt alone.

And some of his teammates think that’s exactly the point.

“You’re going to have that disconnect,” linebacker Karlos Dansby said, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “It’s part of it. You have to find yourself.

“It gave him an opportunity to find himself, and it made him a better person, I think. For him to come back and be so energetic and ready to be a part of this process and be a part of this team, I’m glad to have him back. I think it’s a great thing.”

Gordon told the NFL Network that he felt the cold shoulder from some teammates when he returned, like he had a disease they didn’t want to catch.
But he assimilated quickly on the field, and players said they’re obviously glad to have him back.

“We like Josh Gordon the receiver a lot better than Josh Gordon the used car salesman,” left tackle Joe Thomas said. “I don’t think he ever lost our trust. He made some poor choices, I’m sure he’ll admit to them. But throughout his suspension, with the things that he did and the way he conducted and handled himself and came back in shape, he proved that he was a new person that had grown up from the situations.”

Thomas said he’s been impressed with the way Gordon has bounced back, and the professionalism he showed during the suspension.

That matters more than whether Gordon’s feelings are hurt, since producing on the field will heal any wounds that were there.

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Arian Foster looks “pretty good” in practice

Arian Foster, Troy Polamalu AP

Texans running back Arian Foster has missed the last two games while dealing with a groin injury, which has dropped him down the list of league leaders in rushing yards.

Foster’s descent on the leader board could be coming to an end. The running back practiced on Wednesday and coach Bill O’Brien liked what he saw from Foster during the workout.

“He looked pretty good,” O’Brien said, via John McClain of the Houston Chronicle.

McClain reports that Foster will start against Tennessee this week unless he has a setback, something you can’t rule out after Foster practiced early last week and then wound up back on the sideline. If he can play, he may shoot right back up the stat sheet. Foster had 151 rushing yards and scored three touchdowns in Houston’s earlier victory over the Titans.

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