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Owen Daniels undergoes knee surgery, out Sunday

Owen Daniels AP

The Ravens will be without starting tight end Owen Daniels for Sunday’s game at Cincinnati.

Daniels underwent knee surgery and won’t play in Week Eight, coach John Harbaugh told reporters Friday, according to the club’s website.

Daniels’ absence could be just one game, Harbaugh indicated, per Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun.

The Ravens do not have their bye until Nov. 16. After playing at Cincinnati, the Ravens (5-2) play at Pittsburgh (Nov. 2) and host the Titans (Nov. 9) before their week of rest.

Rookie tight end Crockett Gillmore will have a bigger role in Daniels’ absence, with veteran Ryan Taylor potentially also getting more reps.

The 31-year-old Daniels hasn’t missed a game all season. He’s second on the Ravens in catches (27) and third in yards (275) and TD receptions (three).

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Darren Sproles, Jason Kelce questionable for Sunday

St. Louis Rams v Philadelphia Eagles Getty Images

Eagles center Jason Kelce has been targeting Week 10 for his return from sports hernia surgery, but things appear to be progressing more quickly.

Kelce returned to practice this week and has been listed as questionable for the team’s trip to Arizona to face the Cardinals. Several Eagles beat writers have opined that it is unlikely that Kelce plays this weekend, but the fact that he hasn’t been ruled out yet is encouraging for a return in Week Nine if he doesn’t go this week. With guard Evan Mathis also back at practice, it also looks like the Eagles should have their starting offensive line on the field together for the first time this year once Mathis is eligible to play against the Panthers in Week 10.

Running back Darren Sproles and linebacker Mychal Kendricks have also been listed as questionable. Sproles hurt his knee in Week Six and there was some feeling that he’d miss at least one game, but Sproles has said all week that he’s feeling good so there would seem to be a good chance he’s in the lineup.

Kendricks has missed four games with a calf injury and there was hope heading into last week’s bye that he’d make it back for the Cardinals game. That optimism dimmed a bit this week, which will likely leave Kendricks as a game-time decision for Philly.

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Panthers missing both starting guards, and yet another RB

Cam Newton AP

It seems like it wouldn’t be a week in Carolina without another running back injury, but now that the backups to the backups are getting hurt, it’s getting ridiculous.

According to Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review, replacement back Chris Ogbannaya left practice Friday with a groin injury and was listed as questionable. DeAngelo Williams is still out with a high ankle sprain, so if Ogbannaya can’t go, they’ll promote Tauren Poole from the practice squad.

Couple that with the fact that both starting guards (Amini Silatolu and Trai Turner) are out, and it will be another week of patchwork offense for the Panthers.

And the amazing part might be that’s the side of the ball they’re least worried about against the Seahawks.

Of course, the Panthers will also have an easy time turning in an inactive list this week.

Cornerback Bene Benwikere, linebacker Chase Blackburn, wide receiver Philly Brown, Silatolu, Turner, and running backs Fozzy Whittaker and Williams have already been ruled out, giving them their seven.

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Shane Vereen not present at Friday practice

New York Jets v New England Patriots Getty Images

The Patriots’ top tailback looks to be a late-week addition to the club’s injury report.

Shane Vereen was not on the practice field for New England on Friday, multiple club beat writers reported, included Doug Kyed of NESN.com.

It’s unclear whether Vereen’s absence was because of injury or for another reason. All players who miss part or all of practice have to be declared on the injury report, per NFL rules.

Brandon Bolden, Jonas Gray and James White are the Patriots’ other backs on the roster. The club lost Stevan Ridley to season-ending ACL and MCL tears in Week Six.

The Patriots’ final injury report will be released later Friday, with players to be classified as “out,” “doubtful,” “questionable” or “probable.”

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Chargers cornerback Jason Verrett could miss extended time

Denver Broncos vs. San Diego Chargers Getty Images

Chargers cornerback Jason Verrett came back sooner than some expected from his shoulder injury.

And it may have been too soon.

According to Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports, there’s a fear that Verrett may have aggravated the initial injury, and there’s a fear he “could miss significant time.”

That would be terrible news for a Chargers team that has lost two in a row after a solid start to the season.

The first-round pick was a surprise activation last night, but may have played in part because of fellow starter Brandon Flowers being out with a concussion.

But if he rushed back and made a short-term injury a long one just for the sake of suiting up against Peyton manning and the Broncos, then the Chargers may have lost both the battle and the war.

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A.J. Green sitting out practice Friday

A.J. Green, Darqueze Dennard AP

Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green’s status for Sunday’s game vs. Baltimore appears in serious doubt.

According to Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Green (toe) wasn’t practicing on Friday. If Green doesn’t participate in Friday’s workout, it will mark the third consecutive practice he’s missed, and a week of no on-field work usually equates to a player being inactive on gameday.

Green has missed eight straight practices and two games in a row for Cincinnati, for whom he’s starred since entering the NFL in 2011. One of the game’s top receivers, Green is a premier vertical threat, as he showed in the season-opening win at Baltimore when he broke free for the game-winning 77-yard fourth-quarter TD.

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Larry Fitzgerald: Lack of touches is a “champagne problem”

Arizona Cardinals v Oakland Raiders Getty Images

Larry Fitzgerald has piled up a lot of stats for a lot of mediocre teams.

So now that he’s not getting as many stats for a good one, he’s not going to complain, at least out loud.

While it’s clear that the Cardinals wide receiver isn’t getting the ball as much as he might prefer, it’s also clear he’s not going to rock the boat for the 5-1 Cardinals.

“I always keep it in perspective how fortunate and blessed not only me but everyone in this locker room is,” Fitzgerald said, via Darren Urban of the team’s official website. “Not getting enough targets? Where I grew up we called those ‘champagne problems.’
“This is my job and I love it, but I also put it in its proper place.”

Fitzgerald has just 23 catches for 283 yards this season, a fairly pedestrian pace for someone who has topped 90 catches five times and 1,400 yards four times in his career.

But the Cardinals are playing to minimize mistakes more than pad your fantasy stats, and it’s not as if he’s ignored. Only running back Andre Ellington has more receptions, with 25.

“We all care about our touches and looks, don’t get me wrong,” Fitzgerald said. “We just don’t put our touches and looks in front of what we are trying to accomplish as a team. There is a distinct difference. You are playing ball your whole life, you are in the NFL, you’ve been ‘The Man’ your whole life, so you have to put that aside and focus on what is best for your team. I think everyone has a good grasp of that.”

The fact that he’s playing nice about it certainly won’t hurt when it’s time to address his contract this offseason, either.

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PFT Live: Saints talk with Jeff Duncan, PFT Planet calls and tweets

Drew Brees AP

The Saints will host the Packers on Sunday Night Football in a game that the 2-4 Saints could really use if they are going to return to the playoffs this season.

Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune will join Mike Florio on Friday’s edition of PFT Live to preview the contest. They’ll discuss what the Saints defense needs to do to have a chance at knocking quarterback Aaron Rodgers out of the relaxed groove he’s been in this month and whether the team’s offense remains potent enough to overcome a shaky defense if they can’t get it together on that side of the ball.

There are plenty of other games to talk about and we’re curious to hear what’s on the minds of PFT Planet heading into the weekend. You can send in questions for Florio on Twitter — @ProFootballTalk — or give a call to 888-237-5269 during the show to share what you’re thinking about this Friday.

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

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Free tickets to 49ers games create problems for San Jose police

free_sign

A troubling picture has been painted in recent weeks regarding the relationship between the 49ers and San Jose police.  In addition to the team routinely hiring San Jose police officers to provide security services (a practice that has been suspended due to the handling of the Ray McDonald case), the 49ers also have given free tickets to multiple San Jose police officers, in violation of the applicable rules.

According to ABC7, the team gave free tickets to two members of the department for at least two 49ers games.  The San Jose gift ordinance prohibits police officers from receiving items worth more than $50.

“Tickets to an athletic event like a Sharks game, an A’s game, a Giants game, a 49ers game,” San Jose City Attorney Rick Doyle told ABC7, “if the face value of those tickets are more than $50 dollars, which is probably the case most of the time.”

In this case, the team told ABC7 that the tickets had a face value of $187.

Accepting the tickets also violates the police department’s internal guidelines, according to Judge Ladoris Cordell, who serves as San Jose’s independent police auditor.

“Things like that, those are deemed to be gifts,” Judge Cordell told ABC7.  “So a discount, a gratuity, a favor, if they’re not offered to everybody, you can’t take them.  We don’t want officers, our police officers in San Jose, to be getting special favors from certain people because it might compromise them at some point.  And it doesn’t look good.”

The two officers in question — Assistant Chief Eddie Garcia and Deputy Chief Jeff Marozick — have since reimbursed the 49ers for the tickets.  But that doesn’t satisfy Judge Cordell’s concerns.

“The fact is the duty manual, the rule itself says you may not accept these,” Judge Cordell told ABC7. “It doesn’t say, you get around it by accepting it, and later paying money back.”

She’s right; the money was reimbursed only because the issue was discovered.  If no one ever raised a question or a concern about it, nothing would have happened.

Moving forward, the question is whether San Jose and other Bay Area municipalities will establish the kind of arm’s-length relationship with the 49ers that will insulate any investigations of players or team employees from scrutiny or suspicion.  The bigger question for the NFL is whether steps will be taken to ensure that neither the 49ers nor any other teams are attempting to short-circuit the personal conduct policy by maintaining relationships that can undermine the willingness of police officers to aggressively pursue potential violations of the law.

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Harry Douglas a game-time decision for Sunday

Harry Douglas AP

The Falcons had wide receiver Harry Douglas at practice for the second straight day on Friday, leading to more hope that the team will get him back in the lineup after four games on the sideline because of a foot injury.

While it’s a good sign that Douglas’s return to practice on Thursday didn’t result in any adverse reaction in his foot, coach Mike Smith said that there won’t be any final determination made about his playing status until Sunday.

“Harry’s done very well,” Smith said, via the team’s website. “He will be a decision that we make as we get closer to the game, but he’s been able to come out and participate in practice the past two days, so he was a limited participant again today, but I like the progress he’s made through the week.”

Getting Douglas, who has 12 catches for 121 yards and a touchdown, back would expand Atlanta’s options against a good Lions defense, although they’ll need a reverse in course from the offensive line to take full advantage of them.

Smith said defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux is also headed for a game-time decision after missing practice all this week.

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Getting through first practice brings “mixed emotions” to Amobi Okoye

dal_a_okoye_kh_200x300 AP

It was one practice.

But for a guy who spent three months in a coma, it was a pretty big deal.

Cowboys defensive tackle Amobi Okoye went through yesterday’s practice, signaling the start of a three-week window to work before the Cowboys have to decide to activate him or leave him on the reserve/non-football injury list.

It was good, it was worth it,” Okoye said, via Calvin Watkins of ESPNDallas.com. “It was mixed emotions. It felt like it naturally was coming back. I’ve played six years in the league [and], it doesn’t take too long for stuff to come back to you.”

Okoye is recovering from anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis, a brain condition which causes memory loss and seizures. He last played in a game in 2012, and lost 78 pounds during his battle.

He said he’d talk more about his condition during the bye week in November, but he’s impressed his teammates with the work he’s already put in.

“He’s been through a lot,” linebacker Bruce Carter said. “His story is amazing. A guy like that who works real hard, I see him all the time working [with strength and conditioning coordinator Mike Woicik] one-on-one. Just to see him actually working with [us] and see it pay off is a great thing. I think he’s going to do great things for us.”

There’s still no guarantee Okoye will play this year. But after what he’s been through, simply getting through a practice is a big first step.

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Eddie Royal says loss to Broncos is motivating, not discouraging

Denver Broncos vs. San Diego Chargers Getty Images

The Chargers opened the season 5-1, but even as they were piling up wins they knew that they had a big obstacle standing in the way of their hopes for the season.

Two meetings with the Broncos loomed and there’s not much chance of winning the AFC West title without handling Denver at least once. The Chargers couldn’t get the job done on Thursday night, losing 35-21, but wide receiver Eddie Royal says the loss won’t leave the team licking their wounds for too long.

“It’s not discouraging,” Royal said, via ESPN.com. “It’s motivating. We just know what we need to work on. We know how good of a team they are, and we know we can play with these guys. It just motivates us to go back and put in some work. I think we’ve got the right guys in this locker room to get ready to go and get a win.”

The schedule should be a help to the Chargers in the next few weeks. They play the Dolphins in Week Nine and then head on their bye, which means they’ll have a big window to get some players healthy ahead of the stretch run. They then have home games against the Raiders and Rams once they’re back in action, giving them a chance to get back on the winning track before they face the Ravens, Patriots and Broncos in a three-week stretch that should go a long way toward determining their playoff fate.

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Akeem Ayers happy to be somewhere he has a chance to play

Rob Ninkovich, Akeem Ayers AP

Linebacker Akeem Ayers had fallen out of favor in Tennessee this season, leaving him as a healthy scratch for five of the team’s seven games and, unbeknownst to him, on the trading block.

The Titans pulled the trigger on a deal this week, sending Ayers to the Patriots along with a 2015 seventh-round pick in exchange for a sixth-round selection. Ayers has only been a member of the Patriots for a few days, so he’s still learning the team’s schemes and figuring out how he’ll fit into the mix for a team that lost Jerod Mayo for the season. However those things resolve themselves, Ayers says he’s pleased to be somewhere that offers him a chance of getting back on the field.

“I’m pretty much just happy to be here. Obviously, I wasn’t playing there, and I just happened to get in a good situation here,” Ayers said, via the Boston Herald. “As I’m learning the playbook, I’m trying to simplify things as much as I can and the coaches are helping me out with that. We’re trying to keep things simple and try to learn to the best I can to play as fast as I can when I’m on the field.”

This Sunday will bring the first look at how quickly Ayers is picking things up in New England with the team surely hoping that the process moves fast enough for him to help the defense when the Broncos roll into town in Week Nine.

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O’Brien disputes report that Cushing will miss time with knee injury

Cushing AP

On Wednesday night, PFT reported that Texans linebacker Brian Cushing will miss at least one game due to lingering issues with his surgically-reconstructed knee.  On Thursday, coach Bill O’Brien disputed the report.

“First of all, no, I wasn’t aware of that report,” O’Brien told reporters on Thursday.  “I was trying to figure out how to try to get a first down against the Tennessee Titans because it was third-down night.  And secondly, there is no accuracy to that report.”

O’Brien’s reaction is predictable.  Schooled in the art of injury misdirection from his time with Patriots coach Bill Belichick, O’Brien knows he’s required to disclose only whether and to what extent a guy has practiced in the week preceding a game, and then eventually to apply a label to an injured player — out, doubtful, questionable, or probable.

Even if O’Brien knows Cushing won’t play on Sunday (and Cushing won’t play), O’Brien gains nothing from admitting it on Thursday.  Admitting it on Thursday eliminates the possibility of listing Cushing as questionable, extending until Sunday morning the uncertainty for the Titans as to whether Cushing will play.

Indeed, the signs already are pointing toward the 50-50 “questionable” label for Cushing, who did not practice on Wednesday or Thursday.

“I think he feels he’s getting better every day,” O’Brien said.  “I think coming off that [ACL] injury, you know, postgame is always, there is a lot of soreness.  We have to ease him back into the week.  Like how we say, he’s day-to-day.  We’ll see how he is tomorrow. We’ll bring him to Tennessee and we’ll see how he is before the game.”

Yep, Cushing will be questionable on Friday.  And then on Sunday, the pregame shows that no one will be watching because of the Lions-Falcons game that starts at 9:30 a.m. ET will have a stream of reports that Cushing, while listed as questionable, won’t play.

And probably that linebacker Jadeveon Clowney, while listed as questionable, will.

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Friday morning one-liners

San Diego Chargers v Denver Broncos Getty Images

WR Chris Hogan has moved into a bigger role on the Bills offense.

The Dolphins have gotten solid work from LB Jelani Jenkins.

The Patriots defense should face some stiffer tests in the coming weeks.

Said Jets G Willie Colon of WR Percy Harvin, “If you have guys who make big plays, crucial plays, at big moments, those are the teams that are winning. It is shocking that we got him. He was such a big factor for Seattle.”

Ravens RB Bernard Pierce says he’s not frustrated by an inconsistent workload.

C Russell Bodine is a “Clint Eastwood style” leader for the Bengals.

The Browns aren’t panicking about their leaky run defense.

S Mike Mitchell is still finding his way in the Steelers defense.

Texans DL Jared Crick is looking forward to facing Titans QB Zach Mettenberger.

Hakeem Nicks and Donte Moncrief stand to gain more action if WR Reggie Wayne is out for the Colts.

Jaguars DB Alan Ball thinks he’ll play again this season.

Will the move to QB Zach Mettenberger open up the Titans offense?

RB Ronnie Hillman continues to make a strong case for continued playing time in the Broncos backfield.

Chiefs WR Albert Wilson is cherishing his first NFL reception.

The Raiders haven’t lost their patience in TE Mychal Rivera.

Thursday night brought more milestones for Chargers TE Antonio Gates.

The case for franchising Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray.

Giants RB Andre Williams had a rough day in Dallas last week.

The Eagles aren’t getting the job done in the red zone.

Redskins DL Jason Hatcher isn’t making too much of this week’s game against his former Cowboys teammates.

A call for the Bears to hand more of their offense to RB Matt Forte.

This week’s trip to London gave Lions DE Ziggy Ansah a chance to see his sister for the first time in years.

Packers WR Randall Cobb is making an impact when QB Aaron Rodgers is forced to scramble.

The Vikings are looking for more consistency from CB Captain Munnerlyn.

The food in London hasn’t been a big hit with Falcons players.

Panthers DE Wes Horton thinks the team has a good plan for dealing with Russell Wilson.

QB Drew Brees and the young Saints receivers are still figuring each other out.

Why do the Buccaneers defer when they win a coin toss?

Cardinals LB Sam Acho will be on the other side of the field from his brother this Sunday.

The rise of RB Tre Mason with the Rams has come at the expense of Zac Stacy.

A look ahead to the second half of the 49ers schedule.

Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn thinks Malcolm Smith and K.J. Wright make good fill-ins for injured LB Bobby Wagner.

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