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Jets expect Dee Milliner back this week

New York Jets v Green Bay Packers Getty Images

The Jets defense has had cornerback Dee Milliner in the lineup for part of one game in September because of ankle and quad injuries, but it appears October will be getting off to a better start.

Coach Rex Ryan said, via Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, at Wednesday’s press conference that Milliner will play against the Chargers this Sunday. Milliner last played in Week Two against the Packers, but left the game early after his sprained ankle tightened up in the third quarter.

There’s no word on how expansive a role Milliner might play against San Diego, but any help will be welcomed as the Jets try to slow down Philip Rivers. The Jets have rushed the passer well through the first four weeks and have posted the highest percentage of sacks per drop backs in the league, but opposing offenses have found plenty of places to go with the ball if the rush doesn’t get home.

Milliner can’t fix that all by himself, but his healthy presence should alleviate some of the problems. Safety Calvin Pryor, who left last Sunday’s game with a thigh injury, took part in practice and is also on track to play this week.

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Whisenhunt shoots down talk that Titans could trade Justin Hunter

justinhunter AP

There’s been talk in Tennessee that the Titans could trade receiver Justin Hunter. Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt says that talk is preposterous.

“Are you kidding me? That’s not something even in consideration,” Whisenhunt said of trading Hunter, via Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean.

Wyatt has written that the Titans are disappointed with Hunter’s inconsistency and want more out of him. And considering how much talent Hunter flashed in the preseason, his statistics — nine catches for 138 yards and no touchdowns — are short of expectations so far this season.

Of course, those issues point to exactly why other teams aren’t likely to give up much of anything to acquire Hunter in a trade. So the Titans will hold onto him, and hope he’ll do more in the future than he’s done since the Titans drafted him last year.

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Jarrett Boykin out for Packers on Thursday night

Green Bay Packers v St Louis Rams Getty Images

The Packers kick off Week Five against the Vikings on Thursday night and they won’t have wide receiver Jarrett Boykin’s help as they try to get a leg up on their NFC North rivals.

Boykin has been ruled out for the second straight week because of a groin injury. Coach Mike McCarthy indicated that Boykin’s injury is more sever than the team originally thought and that it might keep him out through the Week Six game against the Dolphins as well.

“I don’t know if he’s going to be ready for Miami. That’s a long time away. It’s a little worse than we thought,” McCarthy said, via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com.

Rookie Davante Adams took over the third receiver duties against Chicago and should fill the role again this week.

Linebacker Sam Barrington (hamstring) and defensive tackle Josh Boyd (knee) have both been listed as doubtful for the game while linebackers Clay Matthews, Mike Neal and Brad Jones join guard T.J. Lang as probable to play on Thursday.

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Knowshon Moreno says he’s four weeks away from returning

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When Dolphins running back Knowshon Moreno suffered a dislocated elbow in Week Two against the Bills, the timetable for his return was set at four weeks.

That would have put him in position to return after this week’s bye for the Week Six date with the Packers, but it doesn’t look like that timetable has held up. Moreno said on Wednesday that it is looking more like Week Eight for his return to field.

“I probably got like four more weeks,” Moreno said, via the Palm Beach Post. “About four more weeks and I’ll be good.”

The absence of Moreno, who had a big game when the Dolphins knocked off the Patriots in the season opener, is a bit less painful after Lamar Miller’s strong outings in Weeks Three and Four. With the Bears and Jaguars following the Packers on the schedule, there should be running room for Miller in the coming weeks if the line can hold up its end of the bargain.

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Murphy says Washington name has been discussed “at the league level”

Dallas Cowboys v Washington Redskins Getty Images

Supplanted of late by other controversies, the debate regarding the Washington name lingers.  On Tuesday, Packers CEO Mark Murphy acknowledged that the debate also has migrated to the upper reaches of the NFL.

There have been discussions at the league level,” Murphy said Tuesday at Marquette Law School, via Bob Wolfley of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.  “We have had some discussions at owners’ meetings. Dan [Snyder] has made presentations.  Quite honestly, I think with all the issues we are facing, with domestic violence and concussions, it’s probably not at the top of the list.”

He’s right, but eventually it will be.

Murphy added that he’s “very sensitive” to the subject, given Green Bay’s proximity to the Oneida Nation.  Murphy pointed out that, while serving as Athletic Director at Colgate, he presided over the change of the team’s nickname from the Red Raiders to the Raiders.

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Jonathan Stewart, Thomas Davis return to practice

Pittsburgh Steelers v Carolina Panthers Getty Images

The Panthers probably aren’t going to have running back DeAngelo Williams on the field against the Bears this Sunday and they definitely won’t have Mike Tolbert, but the backfield may not be totally devoid of veteran presence.

Jonathan Stewart was in full pads at Wednesday’s practice, a few days after he missed the team’s loss to the Ravens with a knee injury. That’s a good sign for his chances of keeping the Panthers from relying on Darrin Reaves, Chris Ogbonnaya and Fozzy Whittaker, who didn’t practice Wednesday, for their ground attack as they try to avoid a third straight loss after a 2-0 start to the season.

Stewart wasn’t the only player back at practice on Wednesday after missing Sunday’s loss. Linebacker Thomas Davis’s hamstring was feeling well enough for him to suit up for the session, raising hopes that the Panthers will have one of their defensive leaders back in place against the Bears.

Defensive tackle Dwan Edwards also sat out Wednesday’s practice for Carolina.

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Bears sign speedster Teddy Williams to play corner

Atlanta Falcons v Arizona Cardinals Getty Images

The Bears shuffled the deck and added some speed.

The team announced they signed cornerback Teddy Williams off the Arizona practice squad, and released linebacker Terrell Manning.

Williams is a fascinating player because of his pure speed, which has caused teams to try him at wide receiver as well.

He’s played in 10 games over two seasons with the Colts and the Cardinals. He spent parts of 2010 and 2011 on the Cowboys practice squad.

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Calvin Johnson feeling better, ready to face off with Jim Schwartz

Detroit Lions v Cleveland Browns Getty Images

Lions receiver Calvin Johnson was held to just two catches for 12 yards in Sunday’s game against the Jets, as a sprained ankle had him at far less than 100 percent. But Johnson says this week is different.

Johnson told Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press he’s feeling “definitely better than at this time last week.” Johnson will, from all accounts, be ready to go on Sunday against the Bills.

And when the Bills come to town, that means the return of Jim Schwartz, the Buffalo defensive coordinator who was Detroit’s head coach for the last five years. Johnson said he and Schwartz frequently discussed how Schwartz would cover Megatron if Schwartz had to devise a game plan to stop him. Schwartz told Johnson double coverage would always be Schwartz’s strategy.

On Sunday we’ll get to see if Schwartz, who coached Johnson when he set the all-time NFL record for receiving yards in a season in 2012, can come up with a plan to slow Johnson down.

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Cardinals bring back veteran linebacker Desmond Bishop

Desmond Bishop, Marion Grice AP

The Cardinals took a look at veteran linebacker Desmond Bishop in the preseason.

And after a month of regular season, they decided they wanted him back.

The team announced Bishop had been re-signed, filling the roster spot created by the release of linebacker Victor Butler.

The Cardinals are largely healthy now, but that’s after free agency, injuries and suspensions ravaged their defense. Losing Daryl Washington and Karlos Dansby among others left them thin.

Plugging a solid pro like Bishop makes sense, especially since he’s had more time to recover from last year’s torn ACL with the Vikings.

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Nick Novak wins AFC special teams player of week

Nick Novak AP

Few teams in the NFL have been as consistently sharp as the Chargers this year.

And few Chargers are as consistently sharp as Nick Novak.

The veteran kicker earned AFC special teams player of the week honors for his perfect day against the Jaguars last week, which included four field goals.

Novak’s a clean 89-of-101 on field goals as a Charger, the highest percentage (88.1) in franchise history.

This season, he’s tied with Adam Vinatieri for the league scoring lead (40 points), and is part of a Chargers team that plays smart, efficient football.

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PFT Live: Lamar Miller, Coaching hot seat

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The Dolphins capped a somewhat tumultuous week with a victory over the Raiders last Sunday and now they’ve got a week off to savor it.

Running back Lamar Miller will spend some of his free time with Mike Florio on Wednesday’s edition of PFT Live. We will talk to Miller about last week’s quarterback hemming and hawing by coach Joe Philbin, how he thinks things will work in the backfield once Knowshon Moreno returns to action and his impressions of playing a game in front of the London crowd.

We’ll also take our weekly look at the coaching hot seat. Dennis Allen became the first coach fired this season when the Raiders relieved him of his duties on Tuesday and we’ll discuss whether he’ll have any company on the unemployment line before the year is out.

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

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Big Monday night makes Jamaal Charles the AFC offensive player of the week

New England Patriots at Kansas City Chiefs Getty Images

The Chiefs were able to beat the Dolphins in Week Three despite the absence of running back Jamaal Charles.

Charles came back in a major way on Monday night. He ran for 92 yards and a touchdown and caught two other touchdown passes as the Chiefs overwhelmed the Patriots for a 41-14 victory at Arrowhead Stadium.

That was good enough to make Charles this week’s choice as the AFC offensive player of the week.

The best news for the Chiefs may not have been Charles’s robust return to the lineup. After watching Charles play an outsize role in the offense last season, the Chiefs got big games from tight end Travis Kelce, wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and running back Knile Davis to go with Charles’s effort against New England. While Charles may remain the big dog in Kansas City for the foreseeable future, the presence of helping hands should be a big boost to the team’s quest for a second straight playoff berth.

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Sproles gets his second player of the week award this season

sproles AP

Darren Sproles is on pace to win eight NFC player of the week awards for the 2014 season.

Sproles, who was previously named the NFC offensive player of the week after a big day as a receiver out of the backfield in a win in Indianapolis, has now been named the NFC special teams player of the week after a big day as a returner in a loss in San Francisco.

In Sunday’s loss to the 49ers, Sproles had an 82-yard punt return for a touchdown that gave the Eagles a 21-10 second-quarter lead. Unfortunately for Philadelphia, that was a lead their offense and defense couldn’t hold.

Sproles is leading the league with 200 punt return yards and his 519 all-purpose yards put him on pace to top 2,000 this year for the fifth time in his career.

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AFC defensive player of the week goes to J.J. Watt

J.J. Watt AP

There are plenty of people who predicted before the season that Texans defensive end J.J. Watt would take home his second Defensive Player of the Year award in the last three seasons.

That argument got more fuel last Sunday against the Bills. Watt added to his lengthy highlight reel by reading Buffalo’s intention to throw a screen pass, jumping up to intercept that pass and then returning it 80 yards for a touchdown that left the other 21 players on the field and plenty of people at home wondering how a defensive end could pull off a play like that.

It didn’t leave the NFL with much reason to wonder about who the AFC defensive player of the week would be, however. Watt took home the honor after what we imagine was a limited discussion about other possibilities.

It was Watt’s first regular season interception, he also returned one for a touchdown in the playoffs during his rookie season, and his second touchdown of the season. His other came on a reception after lining up as a tight end and a few more trips to the end zone would likely lead to serious MVP consideration for Watt when the year comes to an end.

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NFL to participate in England’s “Remembrance Sunday”

Remembrance Sunday Getty Images

In a year that will reportedly feature less pink in October and more camo in November, an NFL game played in England next month will include significant recognition of one of the most important days on the British calendar.

The NFL plans to honor the nation’s war dead on “Remembrance Sunday,” when the Jaguars face the Cowboys.

Via the Daily Mail, the teams’ helmets will include the decal of a poppy, the symbol of “Remembrance Sunday.”  The field also will include a large poppy logo, and 80,000 poppies will be dropped from the roof at Wembley Stadium when the game ends.

Also, all uniforms and equipment from the game will be auctioned, with the proceeds going to the Poppy Appeal, which supports the British Royal Legion’s work with the armed forces.

“The NFL has a tremendous respect and admiration for the service given by the military, both in the US and UK,” said NFL UK managing director Alistair Kirkwood.

The effort is described by the Daily Mail as featuring “a lot more detail than previously shown by British sports in honouring the war dead.”

While an ulterior motive could be at work here, it’s precisely the kind of gesture that could endear the NFL to British sports fans.  Which is precisely what the NFL is trying to do.

And so what if that’s what’s happening?  The NFL wants to be part of the British culture and landscape.  The NFL is demonstrating that desire by playing three games per year in London, and now by showing a high degree of respect for those who gave their lives in defense of the nation the NFL regularly visits.  While some could call it pandering, others could call it being a good, earnest, and proper guest in a foreign land.

Maybe it’s both.  Maybe it will help the NFL move a lot closer toward gaining greater acceptance among the fans and the media in England.

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