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Report: Colts, Cardinals also tried to claim Ben Tate

Andrew Hawkins, Ben Tate AP

The Vikings landed running back Ben Tate on waivers Wednesday to bolster their backfield with Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon both missing practice because of injuries this week, but they weren’t the only ones reportedly interested in bringing the former Browns runner on board.

Teams that make unsuccessful waiver claims are not immediately disclosed by the league any longer, but Field Yates of ESPN.com reports that two other teams made bids to add Tate to their roster. Per Yates, the Colts and Cardinals were the other interested parties.

Neither names comes as much of a surprise. The Colts lost Ahmad Bradshaw to a fractured fibula in last week’s game and placed him on season-ending injured reserve this week, leaving Trent Richardson and Dan Herron as the only running backs on the team’s 53-man roster this season.

Arizona, meanwhile, hasn’t found a strong complement to Andre Ellington in their backfield this season. Jonathan Dwyer was set for that role, but he was released in the wake of a domestic violence arrest early in the season and neither Stepfan Taylor nor Marion Grice has done much in reserve the rest of the way.

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Bills won’t practice today because of blizzard driving ban

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In the looking-less-and-less-likely event that they’re able to host the Jets Sunday, the Bills might not be quite as prepared.

According to Adam Benigni of WGRZ in Buffalo, the Bills aren’t going to practice today.

That’s because there’s still a driving ban in Orchard Park, and since only coaches are crazy enough to sleep in the office through a blizzard, there’s no one there available to practice.

With more snow on the way, it’s hard to imagine how they’re going to have Ralph Wilson Stadium available to play Sunday afternoon, no matter how many citizen shovelers take them up on their generous offer of $10 an hour and free tickets to clear the stadium.

Since they say it usually takes three days to clear a foot of snow, playing this one Monday (or Tuesday) seems like a far more feasible solution.

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Jeremy Hill “earned” more work even with Giovani Bernard back

Cincinnati Bengals v New Orleans Saints Getty Images

Before running back Giovani Bernard was forced out of the lineup by hip and collarbone injuries, he was running ahead of rookie Jeremy Hill on the team’s depth chart.

Hill made the most of his opportunities with Bernard sidelined, however. Hill ran for 361 yards in the last three games, making a case for increased playing time even after Bernard was back in the mix.

On Wednesday, offensive coordinator Hue Jackson said that Hill’s case won him over. Jackson said Hill “deserves” a larger role than he was playing before Bernard got hurt and that he’ll give it to him while easing Bernard back into the lineup.

“Jeremy has done tremendous [work] and he has earned the right to play, there’s no question about that,” Jackson said, via ESPN.com.

Bernard and Hill complement each other well with Bernard well suited to work outside the tackles and in space while Hill fits the bill as a player who can plow his way to yards on the inside. The combination has the potential to be a potent one while also leaving the Bengals the option of riding the hotter player in a given week to give themselves their best chance to win.

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Like it or not, NFL’s media policy is clear

Lynch Getty Images

Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch knew he’d be fined $100,000 if he failed to speak to reporters after Sunday’s loss to the Chiefs.  He failed to speak to reporters anyway.

While that infraction pales in comparison to other current problems that have been exacerbated by the league’s own bungling of them, the fine imposed on Lynch falls within the standard job description of professional football player in the National Football League.

The league’s media policy is clear:  “Players must be available to the media following every game and regularly during the practice week as required under league rules.  Star players, or other players with unusually heavy media demands, must be available to the media that regularly cover their teams at least once during the practice week in addition to their required post-game media availability. . . .  Each club will open its locker room during the normal practice week (based on a Sunday game) on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to all accredited media for player interviews for a minimum of 45 minutes.”

So “star” players — like Lynch, who is paid accordingly — have two required media availabilities per week.  Lynch consistently has declined to make himself available.  Sure, it’s a small issue in the grand scheme of things.  Yes, players and coaches routinely say nothing of value during these media availabilities.  But the NFL requires that the player show up and say something.

If they don’t or won’t, they suffer the consequences.  And if for some reason they can’t, due to social anxiety or some other mental or emotional condition, they need to go through the proper channels to request an accommodation to their discomfort.

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Peyton Manning says it’s time for Broncos to “Get on it”

Denver Broncos practice at Dove Valley Getty Images

Peyton Manning’s pretty good in a hurry up offense.

He wants to impart that same kind of urgency to his team as a whole.

After the Broncos lost two of their past three games, scratching up a single touchdown last week against the Rams, Manning said they need to get things going quickly to preserve a good playoff seed.

Just your sense of urgency has to increase,” Manning said, via Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com. “Realizing there aren’t many games left and we better get on it, better get going. Need to play better, I need to play better, . . . You can say all you want, you can talk about doing it, but you’ve got to go and do it.”

The Broncos are now tied with the Chiefs for the AFC West lead at 7-3, a game behind 8-2 New England for the best record in the conference. With the Patriots holding a tiebreaker, it would be hard for them to secure home field advantage without a big swing.

“I think there is certainly a sense of urgency,” Manning said. “We’re not happy about last week’s game [against the Rams] by any means, with the way we played offensively, . . . You can want a lot of things, but you have to go and do it.

“We’re doing everything trying to improve and get better, we’d love nothing more than come out and play better.”

Much of that burden falls on Manning (cough, RG3, cough), who has thrown two interceptions in each of the last three games, and needs to clean that up if he wants to avoid being cast as a just a regular season quarterback again.

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Todd Haley: We’ll give Le’Veon Bell all that he can take

Le'Veon Bell AP

The Steelers gave running back Le’Veon Bell 33 carries against the Titans last Monday night, a decision that LeGarrette Blount found distasteful enough that he left the team’s bench before the game was over.

That early exit led to Blount’s permanent exit from the team on Tuesday, which means that Bell’s next heavy workload will be less a matter of choice than one of necessity. Rookies Dri Archer and Josh Harris, who was promoted from the practice squad after Blount’s departure, are the backups for Bell and offensive coordinator Todd Haley said that the team would be riding Bell hard in the near future.

“We will take all he can give. We will give all he can take,” Haley said, via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “We had kind of already made the decision to go with Le’Veon, as you could see in the game, from the situational aspect, goal line, short yarder and some of those. We had already made the decision that he was going to be the guy.”

Bell’s workload was already on the heavy side — his 252 touches are second to DeMarco Murray among running backs — and the tailback said that he didn’t feel overly fatigued as the game against the Titans went on, so there doesn’t seem to be much beyond an injury standing in the way of heavy doses for Bell the rest of the may. Given the depth chart behind him, the Steelers would surely prefer that injury doesn’t strike.

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Marrone praises Buffalo residents for response to snow emergency

Marrone Getty Images

Even if the Bills don’t play the Jets as scheduled on Sunday or if they aren’t able to practice much, or at all, before the game, coach Doug Marrone realizes that the events of this week extend far beyond the question of whether a game intended to be played in the elements has found a set of elements in which it can’t be played.

Via Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News, Marrone discussed his experiences in trying to get from his home to the team’s facility when the snow was at its worst on Tuesday.

I was right outside Mercy Hospital,” Marrone told Carucci. “It was tough. You see people trying to get to the hospital. You see emergency employees, nurses and doctors trying to get to the hospital. I can’t say enough about the people of Buffalo. It’s a really unbelievable experience. People were helping each other. People were helping get people to the hospital. People from the hospital were going out. The people were trying to plow snow from the streets.

“I don’t think words can describe it, whether it was different people from different areas, everyone was just trying to help each other. It was really an amazing sight to see . . . .

“I was just trying to do my part, but my part was very limited compared to other people and how brave they were getting people to and from the hospital,” Marrone said regarding his own efforts to help dig out a car that was stuck. “I would say, with my experience [Tuesday,] my greater concern is with the people trying to get to and from the hospital. After what I saw, that’s my concern first.”

The safety of all residents — and the ability of those who need to get to the hospital or to get medications they need from local pharmacies — is the biggest concern.  Football will provide, as it always does, a diversion for those who can get to the game.  Hopefully, the game will be played on a day and a time when Buffalo residents once again can get out and about after one of the worst snowstorms that region ever seen.

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NBA nails it on domestic violence ruling while NFL struggles

Adam Silver AP

As the NFL stumbles through the dark trying to find a way to get out of several current legal messes, there’s a pretty good platform being established by the NBA, if the NFL cares to look and learn.

The NFL has tripped over its own feet regarding the cases of Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, and Greg Hardy, leading to suggestions that they’re making it up as they go.

Meanwhile, the NBA has issued a quick, clear, thorough, and reasonable ruling on the matter of one of their players charged with domestic violence.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver suspended Charlotte Hornets forward Jeff Taylor 24 games stemming from his arrest on Sept. 25 on charges from a fight with a woman in a Michigan hotel.

The Hornets had already suspended Taylor with pay during the investigation (sounds familiar), and the league is giving him credit for time served (sounds unfamiliar). Taylor will miss another 13 games, and be fined an amount equivalent to 24 game checks.

But it isn’t just the suspension that draws a clear line between one league’s handling of a mess and another’s.

The statement from Silver is a thorough piece of literature, documenting exactly what happened, exactly who knew about it, exactly how the league proceeded. It includes evidence and expertise from actual women, which seems like a good idea, rather than just having the victim testify in front of her abuser’s bosses and superiors.

It contains the usual condemnation of vile acts, as well:

“The NBA is committed to vigilance with respect to domestic violence,” it said in closing. “We will continue to work closely with the Players Association to provide education, awareness training, and appropriate resources to NBA players and their families. We recognize our responsibility to do all that we can to prevent this destructive and unacceptable conduct from happening in the future.”

In short, it’s a solid piece of work, generated in an expeditious manner, which seems to have fairly dealt with a contentious topic.

It probably wouldn’t seem so novel, if the NFL hadn’t failed to meet those same criteria, so spectacularly.

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Thursday morning one-liners

NFL Hall of Fame Game - New York Giants v Buffalo Bills Getty Images

Good news Bills, more snow’s on the way.

Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill doesn’t mind being called a game manager.

Patriots DT Sealver Siliga returned to practice.

Jets coach Rex Ryan joked that he’s OK with the Bills not practicing (Maybe he should try it).

Ravens QB Joe Flacco has hit a rough patch of games.

The Bengals are getting good production from their rookies.

Browns LB Jabaal Sheard got a promising second opinion.

Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell has to be ready to play even more snaps now.

The Texans have gotten improved play from their offensive line.

New Colts return man Josh Cribbs is confident some big returns are coming..

Jaguars CB Dwayne Gratz is expected to be active this week.

Titans RB Shonn Greene’s court case has been continued.

Broncos QB Peyton Manning has done something he’s never done in Denver.

Chiefs DE Allen Bailey is living up to his “Hulk” nickname.

Raiders rookie OLB Khalil Mack was finding it hard to celebrate his first sack.

Chargers QB Philip Rivers is confident he’ll play.

Three games in 12 days will tell us how healthy Cowboys QB Tony Romo is.

Giants QB Eli Manning congratulated Michael Strahan for being sexy.

Eagles RB LeSean McCoy doesn’t like being questioned about his rushing ability.

Washington LT Trent Williams isn’t positive about playing this week.

Former Bears QB Bob Avellini was sentenced to 18 months in prison for aggravated DUI.

Lions DT Ndamukong Suh wants to strike first against Tom Brady.

Quick starts have been the key to the Packers’ recent run.

The Vikings needed RB Ben Tate since their first two options are on the injury report.

Falcons WR Roddy White is appealing his latest fine.

The Panthers are getting a much-needed break.

The Saints are linking up with a familiar foe in Ravens WR Steve Smith.

Buccaneers WR Mike Evans is putting up huge numbers, but still learning.

The Cardinals aren’t offended by the underdog role.

The Rams are playing a more physical brand of defense lately, and it’s showing.

49ers RT Anthony Davis is going through the concussion protocol.

Seahawks LB Bobby Wagner’s not sure if he’s ready or not, or at least not telling.

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Ryan Tannehill: No issues with Bill Lazor

Bill Lazor, Ryan Tannehill AP

Before the Dolphins took on the Bills last week, there was a report from Jeff Darlington of NFL Media that Dolphins offensive coordinator Bill Lazor’s “abrasive” attitude was rubbing players the wrong way and creating “rocky” relationships.

The Dolphins beat the Bills last Thursday night, which helps to cool down any story of potential problems between players and coaches, and Lazor responded earlier this week by saying that he thinks his relationship with his players is more or less par for the course in the NFL. On Wednesday, quarterback Ryan Tannehill pushed reports of dissension in the ranks further out of the picture.

Tannehill said he and Lazor have a good relationship and that he doesn’t think Lazor’s critiques or style come in too harsh a manner.

“No, that’s his job to push us and to make us better players,” Tannehill said, via the Miami Herald. “If he’s letting things slide under the table, then he’s not doing his job to make us the best that we can be. So I think he does a good job of constantly pushing us.”

If the Dolphins can win in Denver this weekend to extend their recent run of good results to five wins in six tries, there shouldn’t be any further complaints about Lazor’s style. History has told us that winning coaches push the right buttons while losing ones get described as abrasive to their charges and a win in Denver would be a major boost to Miami’s playoff chances.

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Colts expect Arthur Jones back this week

Philadelphia Eagles v Indianapolis Colts Getty Images

The Patriots used Jonas Gray as a battering ram to great effect last Sunday night, continually ramming him into the center of the Colts defensive line and watching as he pushed through for 201 yards and four touchdowns in a 42-20 victory.

New England rolled up 244 yards on the ground overall, a worst for the Colts this season that they’d be advised not to repeat if they’d like to make any kind of noise in the postseason this year. One way to improve things could be the return of defensive end Arthur Jones.

Jones practiced in full on Wednesday for the first time since Week Eight and coach Chuck Pagano said that he expects to have Jones in the lineup for the first time since a brief appearance against the Steelers that week. Otherwise Jones has been out with an ankle injury since the second week of the season, which has made for a long stretch without a player expected to be a key contributor up front this season.

“He’s back out there and he has to go play and go play well,” Pagano said, via the Indianapolis Star.

Jones, who signed a five-year deal with the Colts as a free agent, had six tackles in the first two games of the season.

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Saints sign Jalen Saunders

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The Saints placed wide receiver Brandin Cooks on injured reserve earlier this week after he had thumb surgery, opening up a spot on their depth chart at the position that they filled on Wednesday.

Wide receiver Jalen Saunders is the newest member of the Saints. Agent Rocky Arceneaux announced that his client reached agreement with New Orleans, which means he’s now spent time with four different teams during his rookie season.

Saunders was a fourth-round pick of the Jets, but got dropped by the team in September after he muffed a punt during a loss to the Bears. He spent a little time on the practice squad in Arizona and was signed off of the Seahawks’ practice squad this week. Saunders could get a chance on punt returns in Cooks’s absence and the Saints have also been without wide receiver Robert Meachem for the last couple of weeks.

The Saints haven’t officially announced the move, but Field Yates of ESPN.com reports that running back Brian Leonard was released to make room for Saunders on the roster. The Saints also cut Edwin Baker earlier this week, which may indicate one or both of Khiry Robinson and Pierre Thomas are ready to return to action.

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Le’Veon Bell on LeGarrette Blount: “There’s some things you can’t do”

Pittsburgh Steelers v Philadelphia Eagles Getty Images

Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount were teammates, but they were more than that.

They hung out together, smoked weed and drove to the airport together, were largely unpunished for it together.

So they have a bond.

Bell said he’s talked to his dismissed partner, after Blount was cut promptly by the Steelers after leaving the field before the game was over last week.

It was surprising because I didn’t see that coming,” Bell said, via Scott Brown of ESPN.com. “There’s some things you can’t do. He pushed those buttons, and that’s what happens.”

Blount wasn’t happy with the fact he wasn’t getting any action, even as Bell went for over 200 yards against the Titans Thursday. Blount meanwhile had five carries in the last two games.

No one put in a claim for Blount, which means he’s a free agent with a little over a month left in the season.

“He’s doing good,” Bell said. “Obviously he’s not in the best [place] but he understands he made a mistake. But it is what it is.

“He made his decision and he has to live with it.”

While veteran backs are devalued anyway, veteran backs who commit mutiny on a good team are even more devalued, so it will be interesting to see if anyone gives him a chance to redeem himself.

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Geoff Schwartz expects to make debut this week for Giants

Kansas City Chiefs v Pittsburgh Steelers Getty Images

Veteran offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz expects to make his regular season debut for the New York Giants this week against the Dallas Cowboys.

According to Paul Schwartz of the New York Post, Schwartz was fully able to participate in practice Wednesday for the Giants after being activated off injured reserve on Monday.

Schwartz believes he’ll be ready to play as many snaps as necessary for the Giants this week.

“I’ll be fine,” Schwartz said. “I have done this before. I have played sometimes sparingly and then had to play right away, like I did last year. You find ways to do it, and I’ll be fine.”

A dislocated right big toe suffered in the preseason forced Schwartz to miss the first 10 games of the season.

Schwartz said he took snaps at both guard and tackle and could replace either John Jerry at right guard or an ailing Justin Pugh at right tackle this week.

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Panthers hold bye-week tryout for 10

Pettis Getty Images

The Panthers finally have reach the bye week, winning only one of their last nine games.  They’re using the time off to take a look at some players who could help them get better.

Per a league source, 10 Panthers tried out for the Panthers on Wednesday.

The candidates were receiver Austin Pettis, receiver Uzoma Nwachukwu, running back Zach Bauman, running back Toben Opurum, quarterback Brad Sorensen, defensive back M.D. Jennings, defensive back Kimario McFadden, defensive back Anthony Walters, and defensive back Lou Young.

At 3-7-1, the Panthers remain in striking distance for the NFC South title. After the bye, they finish with games against the Vikings, Saints, Buccaneers, Browns, and Falcons.

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