Giants will put Justin Pugh on injured reserve

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The Giants haven’t had Justin Pugh in the lineup for several weeks and they won’t be getting him back this season.

According to multiple reports, Pugh will be placed on injured reserve by the 2-11 team this week. Pugh, who was playing right tackle after opening the year at guard, has missed five of the last six games due to a back injury.

Pugh recently went for a second medical opinion to see if he needed to have surgery to resolve the problem. Reports indicate that rest and rehab are the prescribed course of action for the time being.

With Pugh done for the year, he may have played his final game for the Giants. The 2013 first-round pick is set for free agency after the season and the offseason is setting up to be one of major changes for the team.

Pugh’s ability to play both guard and tackle should have appeal to teams, but they will likely be wary of making too big a commitment to a player who also missed five games due to injury last season.

Both Tyrod Taylor and Nathan Peterman practicing again

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Joe Webb is wearing blue again, which makes the Bills the opposite of blue.

According to Mike Rodak of ESPN.com. the Bills third-string quarterback was back to wearing a blue offensive jersey in practice Thursday, instead of the red ones reserved for quarterbacks.

That makes it reasonable to assume the Bills feel good about the chances of both Tyrod Taylor (knee) and Nathan Peterman (concussion) to play Sunday against the Dolphins.

The Bills have said Taylor will start if healthy. Peterman would still need to pass through the concussion protocol with clearance from an independent neurologist.

Webb had to finish up last week’s snow game with the Colts after Peterman was concussed, since Taylor was inactive because of a knee injury.

Dorsey’s comments don’t bode well for DePodesta

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Last week, Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said that both coach Hue Jackson and chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta will return next year. It’s now looking less and less likely that at least one of them will be back.

With new G.M. John Dorsey saying that the prior regime “didn’t get real players” and with DePodesta being a key piece of the prior regime, how can DePodesta remain? Why would he even want to?

Consider the full quote: “You know what? I’ll come straight out with it. The guys who were here before, that system, they didn’t get real players.”

Obviously, DePodesta is one of “guys who were here before.” And DePodesta is still there.

Dorsey’s comments make it fairly clear that DePodesta won’t be for long.

Sure, he can stick around and get paid to do something. Whatever he does, however, Dorsey clearly won’t be listening to the former baseball analytics expert’s opinion on football players.

Or, if Dorsey does listen, he’ll be taking DePodesta’s recommendations and doing the opposite.

John Dorsey: Previous regime didn’t get “real players”

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Browns General Manager John Dorsey has been on the job for less than a week, but that’s been enough time for him to draw some conclusions on the roster left behind by his predecessor at the top of the Browns personnel department.

Sashi Brown’s tenure was marked by moves that accumulated a lot of draft picks while the Browns kept losing games on the field, which led to criticism of the personnel department’s ability to evaluate players and a steady flow of reports about tension between Brown’s group and head coach Hue Jackson. During an appearance on WKNR 850 with Aaron Goldhammer on Thursday, Dorsey put himself squarely on the side of those who feel that Brown’s moves were the root of the problems the last two years.

Dorsey said he’ll do his “darnedest” to get Jackson the players he needs while making it clear he thinks such players are in short supply in Cleveland.

“You know what? You’ve got to get a guy like that players,” Dorsey said, via Cleveland.com. “And you know what? I’ll come straight out with it. The guys who were here before, that system, they didn’t get real players.”

That may not sit well with some of the current Browns players, but it’s hard to make a compelling alternative argument about an 0-13 team that won just one game last season. The bright side for Dorsey is that Brown left him with plenty of draft picks to use on real players and Dorsey will get a chance to start putting them to use in a few months.

Joe Flacco, Jeremy Maclin not worried about lack of production

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When the Ravens signed wide receiver Jeremy Maclin following his release by the Chiefs this offseason, the hope was that he’d become their No. 1 receiver and help provide the team with a more potent passing attack.

That’s not quite how things have worked out. Maclin does have the most catches of any wideout on the team, but 39 catches in 11 games and the 30th-ranked passing offense in the league wasn’t quite what the optimists had in mind. Maclin’s production has been particularly erratic of late as he’s caught 12 passes on 29 targets over the last four games.

Neither Maclin nor Flacco expressed much concern about that on Wednesday, however. Flacco said he “wouldn’t overreact” to the recent stretch, which included three catches on 11 targets against the Steelers last weekend, and Maclin

“I’m not going to sit here and say that there is or whatever,” Maclin said, via the Baltimore Sun. “But for whatever reason, especially in the last game, it just didn’t click. I’m not going to beat myself up about it. That’s what preparation is for. So we’ll continue to go out there and continue to get on the same page.”

The lack of spark between Flacco and Maclin hasn’t kept the Ravens from sticking around the playoff hunt, but it would certainly help their chances of earning a Wild Card if the duo can come up with a strong close to the year.

Video emerges of Damontre Moore street fight

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When the Cowboys cut Damontre Moore in October, they said it was strictly for on-field football reasons. However, a report at the time said Moore had been in a street fight just days earlier.

Now TMZ has video of that fight. It appears to show that a group of other men started the fight with Moore, although once the men were separated and Moore had an opportunity to walk away, Moore instead walked back toward the men, continued the fight and then tried to jump onto the roof of a fleeing car to punch one of the men through the sunroof.

According to TMZ, police were called to the area for possible shots fired after the fight, but no arrests were made.

Moore has so much natural talent that early in his college career at Texas A&M there was talk that he could one day be the first overall pick in the NFL draft. But he eventually went to the Giants in the third round, lasted less than three years in New York, and has bounced around the league with Miami, Seattle and Dallas since then. Moore also served a two-game substance-abuse suspension this year, and given his combination of underachieving on the field and getting into trouble off the field, he may be done in the NFL.

PFT’s Week 15 picks

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Like Doug Jones, MDS has an insurmountable lead (seven games) with three weeks left. Like Roy Moore, I’m not conceding.

Although it’s going to require plenty of skill and luck. This week, we disagree on only three games. Which means I need a sweep in order to even have a remote chance to catch him.

For all of the Week 15 picks, do the mouse/finger thing.

Broncos at Colts

MDS’s take: The season’s last Thursday night game is not a good one. But the Broncos showed enough signs of life last week that I’ll pick them to win on the road.

MDS’s pick: Broncos 16, Colts 13.

Florio’s take: John Elway stuck it to the Colts decades ago, when he told them not to draft him. He’ll stick it to them again tonight.

Florio’s pick: Broncos 27, Colts 20.


Bears at Lions

MDS’s take: Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky has been playing better football of late, and that makes me tempted to pick an upset. But with Jim Caldwell coaching for his job, I think the Lions will do just enough to win.

MDS’s pick: Lions 24, Bears 23.

Florio’s take: A team that had won three games in 13 weeks isn’t going to be winning twice in six days. #analysis.

Florio’s pick: Lions 30, Bears 14.


Chargers at Chiefs

MDS’s take: This is a huge game that may determine the winner of the AFC West, and I think the Chargers’ late-season surge is going to continue and push them toward a playoff game in their tiny stadium.

MDS’s pick: Chargers 34, Chiefs 31.

Florio’s take: One of the hottest teams in football gets a chance to show the Chiefs (and everyone else) how far they’ve come.

Florio’s pick: Chargers 31, Chiefs 21.


Texans at Jaguars

MDS’s take: The Jaguars’ pass defense is going to make life miserable for T.J. Yates.

MDS’s pick: Jaguars 20, Texans 3.

Florio’s take: If the Jaguars truly have matured, they’ll avoid stepping into a pothole against an overmatched Texans team.

Florio’s pick: Jaguars 30, Texans 13.


Ravens at Browns

MDS’s take: The Browns may have missed their best opportunity to eat a W on Sunday against the Packers. I can’t see them beating a Ravens team that is hungry to earn a wild card spot.

MDS’s pick: Ravens 28, Browns 13.

Florio’s take: Nearly 10 years to the day after the Ravens “helped” the Dolphins avoid an 0-16 season, the team that used to be the Browns gets a chance to assist the current Browns in the avoidance of the ultimate embarrassment. Don’t count on it happening; after blowing a 14-point lead against the Packers and bungling a chance to salvage victory in overtime, the Browns seem to be ready to accept their fate.

Florio’s pick: Ravens 27, Browns 10.


Packers at Panthers

MDS’s take: The return of Aaron Rodgers will be spoiled by a good Panthers defense that will hold a rusty Rodgers in check and pretty much end the Packers’ playoff hopes.

MDS’s pick: Panthers 20, Packers 17.

Florio’s take: If the Packers make the playoffs, they’ll make it to the Super Bowl. But if they lose to the Panthers, the Packers won’t make it to the playoffs. Ipso facto, don’t make reservations for Minnesota in late January, Cheeseheads.

Florio’s pick: Panthers 27, Packers 23.


Dolphins at Bills

MDS’s take: The Dolphins surprised me on Monday night, but I think the Jay Cutler-led offense is going to struggle on a cold day in Buffalo.

MDS’s pick: Bills 13, Dolphins 10.

Florio’s take: The Dolphins finally found the gas pedal. Is it too late?

Florio’s pick: Dolphins 24, Bills 21.


Bengals at Vikings

MDS’s take: The Vikings have a good shot at earning home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, and they’re not throwing away their shot against the Bengals.

MDS’s pick: Vikings 28, Bengals 10.

Florio’s take: Old friends Mike Zimmer and Marvin Lewis meet, with Marvin on the hot seat. If Zimmer blows this one, he should be, too.

Florio’s pick: Vikings 31, Bengals 17.


Cardinals at Washington

MDS’s take: Two teams that thought they were playoff contenders but now find themselves playing out the string. Kirk Cousins still has something to play for, and I think he’ll have a big game.

MDS’s pick: Washington 31, Cardinals 17.

Florio’s take: A pair of former NFC East rivals get together. And that’s the only thing interesting about this game.

Florio’s pick: Washington 23, Cardinals 20.


Eagles at Giants

MDS’s take: Nick Foles gets an easy opponent in his first start, and he’ll play well as the Eagles cruise to another win.

MDS’s pick: Eagles 24, Giants 14.

Florio’s take: It’s easy to exude confidence to the point of delusion about succeeding without Carson Wentz . . . before actually playing a game without Carson Wentz.

Florio’s pick: Giants 21, Eagles 20.


Jets at Saints

MDS’s take: Josh McCown played well this year, but now that he’s done the Jets are going to look like the team everyone thought they’d be back in September. The Saints will win this one easily.

MDS’s pick: Saints 30, Jets 7.

Florio’s take: Extra time to prepare plus a sense of urgency to get a win minus Josh McCown for the Jets equals an easy 10th win for the home team.

Florio’s pick: Saints 30, Jets 17.


Rams at Seahawks

MDS’s take: In a huge game for the NFC West race, I like the Seahawks to do just enough on defense to slow down the Rams’ high-scoring offense, and Russell Wilson to make a couple of big plays late to win a close game.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 28, Rams 27.

Florio’s take: The Rams got their nine wins, but they may not get their playoff berth.

Florio’s pick: Seahawks 27, Rams 24.


Titans at 49ers

MDS’s take: The 49ers are 2-0 since switching to Jimmy Garoppolo. Make it 3-0.

MDS’s pick: 49ers 28, Titans 21.

Florio’s take: The Titans could be in the process of squandering what once seemed like a sure-fire playoff berth. If they don’t get it right now, it could be over.

Florio’s pick: Titans 23, 49ers 16.


Patriots at Steelers

MDS’s take: The Patriots will bounce back from an ugly Monday night loss to win what is the biggest game of the regular season so far.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 27, Steelers 24.

Florio’s take: The Patriots lose so rarely that whenever they do some assume they’ll never win again. Ass. U. Me.

Florio’s pick: Patriots 30, Steelers 27.


Cowboys at Raiders

MDS’s take: Derek Carr has been a disappointment this season, and the Cowboys’ defense is going to have a good game against him on Sunday night.

MDS’s pick: Cowboys 24, Raiders 16.

Florio’s take: Derek Carr was wise to take the $25 million per year; if he hadn’t, he’d be lucky to get half that now.

Florio’s pick: Cowboys 23, Raiders 14.


Falcons at Buccaneers

MDS’s take: The Falcons are still fighting for a playoff berth, and they’re doing it against the Buccaneers, who may be this year’s most disappointing team. Atlanta should get an important win on the road.

MDS’s pick: Falcons 21, Buccaneers 20.

Florio’s take: Jon Gruden will be joining the Ring of Honor. Dirk Koetter may soon be performing the walk of shame.

Florio’s pick: Falcons 34, Buccaneers 20.

Ravens offered Griffin a deal near start of training camp

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Robert Griffin III claims that the Ravens offered him a contract this year. And indeed they did.

Per a league source, the offer came at or about the start of training camp. The terms aren’t known, but Griffin obviously wasn’t offered enough to get him to accept the deal. (Griffin contends that the offer came shortly before the preseason opener against Washington.)

The Ravens publicly debated the possibility of signing Colin Kaepernick after a back problem kept Joe Flacco out of camp for multiple weeks. The Ravens ultimately didn’t sign Kaepernick; according to former Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, a tweet from Kaepernick’s girlfriend that attacked Lewis and owner Steve Bisciotti derailed the move.

The claim that the Cardinals offered Griffin a contract seems more unrealistic, given Griffin’s skill set and the contours of the Bruce Arians offense.

Griffin added in an appearance on ESPN that he hasn’t given up on playing in 2017. Given the inevitable risk of injury, the phone may eventually ring. It’s a bit surprising that the Eagles have decided not to explore adding Griffin or any other veteran quarterbacks, opting instead to ride with Nick Foles and Nate Sudfeld.

We’ll find out whether that bold strategy works for the Eagles soon, beginning with Sunday’s game against the Giants.

Cam Newton runs for touchdowns like no other quarterback — or running back

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Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is one of the greatest rushing quarterbacks in NFL history. But when it comes specifically to running for touchdowns, Newton isn’t just great compared to other quarterbacks. He’s even great compared to running backs.

Newton has five rushing touchdowns so far this season. And he’s had at least five rushing touchdowns every season of his career, which began in 2011. How rare is that? Newton is the only player in the NFL with at least five rushing touchdowns in each of the last seven seasons. Not the only quarterback — the only player.

Only one running back, Mark Ingram, even has six seasons with five or more rushing touchdowns since 2011. Four running backs — LeGarrette Blount, Marshawn Lynch, LeSean McCoy and DeMarco Murray — have reached the end zone at least five times in five of the last seven seasons.

Newton has 53 rushing touchdowns in his NFL career. Only Lynch and McCoy have scored more rushing touchdowns than Newton since 2011. Newton’s 53 rushing touchdowns are the most for any quarterback in NFL history, 10 more than second-place Steve Young. He runs for touchdowns like no other quarterback ever has, and like few running backs have.

Captain Munnerlyn left practice for “personal” reasons

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The Panthers are going to need their entire secondary to be sharp Sunday, since they’re expecting to see a fresh Aaron Rodgers.

But one member might be a little grumpy about his role in it.

According to Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer, Munnerlyn left practice Wednesday because he was unhappy about his role in the Panthers game plan. Munnerlyn referred questions about his departure to coach Ron Rivera, who said it was “personal” but declined further comment.

The Panthers brought the veteran nickel cornerback back this offseason with a four-year deal, as part of their get-the-band-back together strategy. But while Munnerlyn has value in their nickel package, they’re also using other personnel groupings which don’t feature him as much. He’s mentioned confusion about his role previously this year.

Munnerlyn seemed to dispute the report on Twitter yesterday.

Regardless, he’s playing fewer than 50 percent of the snaps this season, which he didn’t expect when he came back.

The Panthers have enough to worry about with Rodgers this week, so Rivera can’t let any potential issues gain traction.

Jeremy Kerley on failing PED test: Maybe a ghost did it

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When there’s something strange and your PED test isn’t good, who ya gonna call? 

In the case of Jets wide receiver Jeremy Kerley, you’re gonna call the Ghostbusters.

Kerley’s four-game suspension for a violation of the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy came to an end this week and Kerley said he still doesn’t know how a banned substance got into his system. At the time of his suspension, Kerley released a statement that said he intended to “investigate this matter until I am able to figure out what caused the positive test” and pursue remedies against anything that was tainted without his knowledge.

On Wednesday, Kerley said he hasn’t found that answer and offered up a supernatural explanation.

“I don’t know,” Kerley said, via the New York Post. “There’s a lot of ghosts around here. Maybe a ghost put it in me. You know the Ghost of Christmas Past? A ghost might have put it in me. I don’t know.”

Given the long history of things going wrong for the Jets, it’s surprising no one has come up with the ghost explanation in the past.

Doug Brien’s missed field goals in Pittsburgh during the playoffs? A ghost pushed them off course. A muddy field in Miami for the AFC title game? A ghost yanked the tarp away. Mark Gastineau didn’t rough Bernie Kosar, but a ghost did. The Buttfumble?

Well, maybe not everything can be pinned on a poltergeist.

Robert Woods on shoulder: Everything’s good and ready to go

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One of the best days of wide receiver Robert Woods‘ career came in Seattle last season when he caught 10 passes for 162 yards while playing for the Bills.

Woods plays for the Rams now and that means he’ll be back in Seattle this Sunday for a game that will go a long way toward determining who wins the NFC West this season. All indications early in the week were that Woods will be on the field after missing the last three games with a shoulder injury and Woods confirmed he’s on track on Wednesday.

“I feel like the movement, everything is there. Everything’s good and ready, so I feel like there’s no [sense of] not trusting it,” Woods said, via the team’s website. “I’ve been in practice a little bit last week, and then starting to go this week — I’m confident, very confident in it.”

Woods’ exploits couldn’t keep the Bills from losing that game in Seattle last year and the Rams lost the first meeting with the Seahawks this season, so it would be a good time for Woods to snap his personal losing streak against his new divisional rivals.

No plans for Christian Hackenberg to play “right now”

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Jets quarterback Josh McCown had surgery on his broken left hand and went on injured reserve this week, leaving Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg as the two quarterbacks for the final three games of the season.

Given McCown’s absence and the lack of playoff hopes for the 5-8 Jets, it would seem like a perfect opportunity to get Hackenberg in the lineup and see what the 2016 second-round pick is capable of doing on the field. Petty is going to start in New Orleans this Sunday, though, and coach Todd Bowles said on Wednesday that there are no plans to play Hackenberg “right now.”

When asked why that’s the case, Bowles simply pointed to the depth chart that had Petty as the No. 2 all year.

“Because Bryce is our starter,” Bowles said at his press conference. “Bryce is the next man up. We have people at every position that want to play. We’re not jumping people over people just to play considering anything. Bryce is our starter.”

Bowles didn’t close the door on a change in plans in the final two games, but it doesn’t sound like there’s much urgency inside the organization to get a look at Hackenberg in game action. That doesn’t suggest high hopes for a bright future for Hackenberg with the Jets and the offseason will tell us if there’s any future at all.

Goodell: NFL has discussed changes to discipline with NFLPA since 2012

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Now that the NFL Commissioner finally has a new contract, the Commissioner can get back to the business of the NFL. And one important item of business continues to be the manner in which the NFL metes out discipline against players for off-field misconduct.

Asked by reporters on Wednesday whether the league needs to revamp its procedures for off-field discipline, Goodell didn’t answer the question (shocker). Instead, he reminded everyone, indirectly, that this is a matter for collective bargaining.

“We have discussed this with our Players’ Association,” Goodell said. “I told the ownership this earlier today. I can remember the first meeting, it was June 2012, less than a year after we completed our CBA — let’s address the way we are dealing with discipline. There are better ways to do this and we just haven’t come to an agreement on that. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of focus on that, but the reality is there are very few circumstances. They get a lot of attention, I understand that, but that is something I’m sure will come up in the context of the next CBA. We have always been willing to consider that.”

While no specific word or phrase stands out like a proverbial sore thumb in that response, the full content and context makes it clear that Goodell continues to view the process of off-field discipline as a product of the back-and-forth of union negotiations. Which means that, before the Goodell surrenders any of his current power over the process, he will want an equivalent concession from the NFLPA. Which is precisely the wrong way to handle this. (The fact that the NFL and NFLPA have been talking about this for five years underscores the reality that the NFL refuses to regard the situation as anything other than a product of the give-and-take of bargaining.)

Amid plenty of challenges to the NFL’s business, now is the time to realize that there’s a mutual benefit to changing the procedures. For years, Goodell has resisted independent review of his decisions under the conduct policy. At the same time, however, decisions of the league office made when it comes to on-field discipline are reviewed by a hearing officer who is jointly appointed and paid by the league and the union. So why not use the same procedure when it comes to off-field discipline?

Here’s why not: The league office views the entire union relationship as something the players wanted, and part of what they get when they want a union is a process that requires them to give something up to get anything they don’t currently have.

If Goodell and his top lieutenants have learned nothing else over the past five years, it’s that the current system creates a bad look for the NFL. Of course, it’s debatable that they’d even admit it’s been a bad look. Which may be the far bigger problem when it comes to the procedures of imposing discipline on players due to off-field misconduct.

Le’Veon Bell happy for another opportunity to face Patriots

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The last time the Steelers played the Patriots, running back Le'Veon Bell only had a small role in the proceedings.

Bell injured his groin after playing 11 snaps and spent the rest of the 36-17 loss in the AFC title game watching from the sideline. Bell called it a “terrible feeling” to be out of that game and that meant he’s had his eye on this week’s visit from the Patriots for a while.

“I just felt like I missed a opportunity to get to a Super Bowl,” Bell said, via ESPN.com. “When this year came around, we saw the schedules and everything, I knew had another opportunity if I was being healthy and playing the Pats again. It’s good. The opportunity is here.”

Sunday’s winner won’t be booking a ticket to Minneapolis, obviously, but a Steelers win could secure them homefield advantage in the games leading up to the Super Bowl. Having Bell the whole way would help their chances of grabbing that advantage and of beating the Patriots should this year’s AFC crown come down to the same two teams.