Report: Back injury to sideline Tyler Eifert multiple weeks

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Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert is expected to miss multiple weeks with a back injury, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com.

Eifert missed Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers with the injury after playing in the first two games of the season for the Bengals. He has four catches for 46 yards on the season so far.

The injury is not expected to require surgery.

He played in just eight games for the Bengals last season as back and ankle injuries forced him to miss half the season. Eifert had surgery on his back this offseason and missed OTAs before returning for training camp.

The Bengals play at the Cleveland Browns this week and host the Buffalo Bills in Week 5 before getting a bye in Week 6.

Cowboys’ stars show up in 28-17 victory over Cardinals

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The Cowboys’ stars showed up in the second half, leading Dallas to a much-needed 28-17 victory over the Cardinals.

Demarcus Lawrence had three of the Cowboys’ six sacks — two in the final two minutes — in becoming only the third player in NFL history to have more than one sack in the first three games of a season. Kevin Greene and Mark Gastineau also accomplished the feat.

Lawrence now has a league-leading 6.5 sacks, only 1.5 short of his career best from 2015.

Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 80 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries, with 30 coming on one play, as he rebounded from a career-worst outing at Denver. Dak Prescott completed 13 of 18 passes for 183 yards and two touchdowns. Dez Bryant caught only two passes for 12 yards, but one was a memorable 15-yard touchdown as he dragged seven Cardinals into the end zone with him, and Brice Butler had two catches for 90 yards and a touchdown.

After gaining only 57 yards in the first half, the Cowboys ended up with 273. The Cardinals, who had 140 yards in the first quarter, gained 332.

Carson Palmer completed 29 of 48 passes for 325 yards and two touchdowns, and Larry Fitzgerald caught 13 passes for 149 yards and a touchdown.

The Cardinals, trailing by 10, reached the Dallas 5 with 40 seconds left. Instead of kicking a field goal, though, they went for the touchdown and Palmer’s pass was incomplete.

It was that kind of night for the Cardinals, a night of missed opportunities.

Larry Fitzgerald moves into eighth all time in receiving yards

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Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald moved into eighth place all time in receiving yards. He passed Marvin Harrison in the third quarter.

Harrison had 14,580 yards.

Next on the list for Fitzgerald is Steve Smith, who had 14,731 career yards.

Fitzgerald already ranks third in receptions — 1,134 before Monday night — and eighth in touchdowns, adding his 105th in the third quarter against the Cowboys.

Fitzgerald has 10 catches for 98 yards and a touchdown early in the fourth quarter, with his 15-yard score tying the game 14-14 with 3:13 left in the third quarter.

Dez Bryant carries Cardinals into end zone to give Dallas a 14-7 lead

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The play didn’t start out as anything real special. Dez Bryant ran a shallow cross to the 13-yard line and caught the ball. Then the Cowboys receiver weaved and bobbled his way to near the goal line, where he carried seven Cardinals defenders the final 3 yards into the end zone.

“That’s one of the great efforts you’ll ever see from a wide receiver,” ESPN color commentator Jon Gruden said.

Bryant’s 15-yard touchdown gave the Cowboys a 14-7 lead with 8:31 left in the third quarter.

Bryant has two catches for 12 yards.

Cowboys continue offensive struggles but manage 7-7 halftime tie

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Dak Prescott has passed for only 25 yards. Ezekiel Elliott has run for only 31, with 30 coming on one play. Dez Bryant has one catch for minus-3 yards.

The Cowboys’ 57 total yards and 16 passing yards are the team’s fewest in the first half since Week 13 in 2005, via NFL Research. Yet, somehow, someway the Cowboys managed to tie the Cardinals 7-7 at halftime.

The Cowboys scored off a short field and two Cardinals’ penalties late in the second quarter. Rookie Ryan Switzer returned a punt 21 yards to the Arizona 33, and Prescott scored on a 10-yard run three plays later. Arizona gave the Cowboys 10 yards in penalties with an offside and a defensive hold.

Elliott, who had nine carries for 8 yards last week against Denver, had seven carries for 1 yard. His other carry went for 30.

The Cardinals started out hot, moving up and down the field, with Carson Palmer completing his first 11 passes. He threw a 25-yard touchdown to Jaron Brown with 9:59 left in the first quarter.

But after passing for 135 yards in the first quarter, Palmer managed only 10 yards in the second.

A missed chip-shot field goal by Phil Dawson, five costly penalties for 40 yards and two sacks of Palmer slowed the Cardinals roll. They also are showing how much they miss David Johnson, rushing for only 20 yards in the first half.

Carson Palmer completes first 11 passes as Cardinals take early lead

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Carson Palmer completed his first 11 passes, matching a career best to start a game, before throwing an incompletion. He finished the first quarter 12-for-13 for 135 yards and a touchdown.

The Cardinals had 21 plays and 140 yards in the first quarter, while the Cowboys had three plays and 3 yards. Ezekiel Elliott had two carries for no yards, continuing a trend dating to last week in Denver when he had nine carries for 8 yards.

The Cardinals scored on their first possession, with three plays of 20 yards or more, including a 25-yard touchdown pass from Palmer to Jaron Brown.

On the first play of the second quarter, Palmer tossed a second touchdown pass to Brown. But it was negated by a holding penalty on Jared Veldheer, and Phil Dawson missed a 36-yard field goal.

Cowboys collectively take a knee before anthem, then rise

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The Cowboys and Cardinals were among six teams never to have a player protest during the national anthem by kneeling, sitting or raising a fist the past two years. It continued Monday.

The Cowboys stepped onto the field arm-in-arm as a team, with Jerry Jones and his family among them. They then collectively knelt, to boos from the crowd, for a few seconds before rising and going back to the sideline. They stayed standing with linked arms through the national anthem.

The Cardinals, with Michael Bidwill and his family among them, lined up in the end zone, rather than the sideline. They also stood arm-in-arm during the anthem.

The Bears, Vikings, Bengals and Jets are the only other teams not to have a player protest over the past two years, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Patriots apologize for charging fans for tap water

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It was on Sunday in New England and elsewhere. The heat at Gillette Stadium resulted in a run on bottled water.

After the bottled water was gone, tap water was provided. The only problem? Stadium workers charged $4.50 or $5 per cup.

We apologize,” Patriots spokesman Stacey James said in a statement issued to reporters on Monday. “That should not have happened. It is the first time that I have ever heard that complaint here. We are looking into the matter to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.”

It would be impossible to issue refunds, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if the organization finds a way to estimate the revenue generated by tap water sales and makes a corresponding donation to charity, or some similar gesture.

Chargers push back against perception of sluggish sales

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Much was made of the fact that the Chargers didn’t individually introduce players during Sunday’s home game against the Chiefs, with the implication being that Chargers fans were overwhelmed by Chiefs fans. However, it wasn’t the first time it happened at StubHub Center this year, and it won’t be the last.

According to the team, coach Anthony Lynn previously decided to stop individual introductions for reasons unrelated to crowd size or response. Lynn has opted to have the players enter the field as a team, a trend the Patriots began in Super Bowl XXXVI. As a result, there have been no individual introductions for the two preseason games or the two regular-season games.

The Chargers also insist that they have been selling out the 27,000-seat stadium, and that ticket sales of less than 26,000 reflect the fact that more than 1,000 tickets are distributed to sponsors and others.

Of course, this doesn’t change the fact that visiting teams have had a noticeable (and audible) presence at Chargers home games. It also doesn’t address the question of whether significantly more than 25,000-plus tickets will be sold when the Chargers are playing in a significantly larger stadium as of 2020.

Terrance Williams in for Cowboys; Deone Bucannon out for Cardinals

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The Cardinals won’t have linebacker Deone Bucannon, who remains out with an ankle injury. He was among the team’s inactives.

Tight end Jermaine Gresham, who has a rib injury, is active. The Cardinals, though, promoted Ricky Seals-Jones from the practice squad earlier Monday in case Gresham is limited.

The Cardinals’ other inactives are: quarterback Blaine Gabbert, wide receiver John Brown (quad), running back D.J. Foster, offensive tackle D.J. Humphries (knee), offensive guard Mike Iupati (triceps) and defensive lineman Xavier Williams.

The Cowboys will have wide receiver Terrance Williams, who was questionable with an ankle injury, and wide receiver Brice Butler, who was questionable with an ankle injury.

Their inactives are: quarterback Cooper Rush, running back Darren McFadden, cornerback Nolan Carroll (concussion), cornerback Chidobe Awuzie (hamstring), linebacker Anthony Hitchens (knee), offensive guard Jonathan Cooper and defensive end Charles Tapper.

Jerry Hughes “disappointed” in Jim Kelly

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Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes wasn’t happy about Jim Kelly’s public criticism of the team’s players who knelt during the national anthem Sunday. Indeed, Hughes criticized Kelly for criticizing the Bills.

“I was very disappointed in him,” Hughes said, via quotes distributed by the team. “I was very disappointed in how he approached the whole situation. Our team came together and we united as a front, as an organization on how we were going to approach the national anthem. If Jim was going to do what he did, then he should have came to the team and let us know his feelings. He should have let us know how he was going to do the national anthem, because we didn’t know he was going to be there from a team perspective.

“So for him to carry on in this manner, I’m really confused, and I’m really upset, because if this is something how he felt and if this was something that truly was how he felt and was on his heart, he should have came to the team and he should have approached that instead of making this a public matter, and doing that on his social page. It was not cool, very unacceptable, and if he has things to say about us as a team, come talk to us.”

The Hall of Famer stood on the sideline with his right hand over his heart, his left arm raised with his Bills hat in hand, according to Mike Rodak of ESPN. Kelly later posted on Instagram that he would only kneel to pray, and wrote he hoped the Bills would “STAND” with locked arms next week.

Hughes wondered aloud why Kelly is on the sideline before games.

“I’m not sure I understand it,” Hughes said. “We are the 2017 Buffalo Bills. We’re focused on the future. We’re focused on winning games. If he wants to offer anything of encouragement to our team, to our quarterbacks, to our offense, please provide all of that. We could use all the encouragement we need to figure out how they won games back in those days and be successful as they were. We’re trying to bring a team together; we’re trying to bring the community together; we’re trying to bring a nation together. By dividing us, by dividing the team, that doesn’t work.”

Bills coach Sean McDermott said he has no plans to talk to Kelly, the face of the organization, adding the team will continue to welcome the former quarterback on the sideline.

In a radio interview Monday morning, Kelly singled out running back LeSean McCoy, who stretched his legs while protesting during the national anthem.

“I like LeSean McCoy, don’t get me wrong, but I totally, 100 percent, I disagree with what he did,” Kelly told 97 Rock in Buffalo, via Rodak. “You want to kneel? Fine. But when you go and do what he did yesterday, that sort of bummed me out. And I lost a lot of respect for him. . . . You want to kneel? That’s your prerogative. I would never do that. I will always stand. Thank the good Lord for everything I got. But when you disrespect the way he did and just go by his everyday duty in the national anthem being sung? Uh-uh. I won’t go for that.”

McCoy was not made available to reporters Monday.

Browns building to win later, with a long road still ahead

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Browns fans have heard this before: Their team, with the league’s youngest roster, are a work in progress. They were reminded of that yet again Sunday when the Browns lost to the Colts 31-28 to drop to 0-3.

Hue Jackson has a 1-18 record since taking over as head coach, and the Browns have lost 20 of their last 21 games.

It begs the question: While building for the future, do the Browns have any hope of winning now?

“I think this team can,” Jackson said Monday, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “I think we’ve got to do some things better and work a little bit harder in making sure that we do some of the detailed things right.

“That question that you just asked, that’s something that you’ve got to talk to [Browns Executive Vice President of Football Operations Sashi Brown] about, and the executive team.”

The Browns lost key veterans Terrelle Pryor and Joe Haden, and youth is being served with the likes of 2016 draft picks Ricardo Louis and Rashard Higgins.

Jackson was asked if he would urge the front office to find some Pro Bowl-caliber veterans like Jamie Collins before the trade deadline Oct. 31.

“My job is to coach the guys that are here, with our football staff, and that’s what we’re going to do,” said Jackson. “I’m sure that our executive team is scouring everywhere, looking at who could potentially help our football team. That’s what they do, so I’m sure that’s being done.”

The Browns may have found a quarterback as Jackson seems excited about DeShone Kizer. Kizer, though, lacks playmakers around him. Louis, Kenny Britt and Higgins caught a combined six of 22 targets, with the Browns’ receiving corps dropping eight passes, according to Cabot.

Alejandro Villanueva: I threw my teammates under the bus unintentionally

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Among the images from Sunday’s Steelers-Browns game was one of Steelers left tackle Alejandro Villanueva standing by himself at the end of the tunnel to the field during the playing of the national anthem while the rest of the team’s players waited deeper in the tunnel to come on the field at the end of the song.

The Steelers had said that all players were going to remain inside until after the anthem and linebacker James Harrison said Villanueva’s deviation from that plan took him by surprise. Villanueva spoke to the media on Monday and shed some light on what happened.

Villanueva, who served in the United States Army, said that he spoke to Ben Roethlisberger on Saturday night after the team came to a decision about their plan for Sunday and asked if he could stand at the front of the team so he could see what was happening on the field. He said he walked to a point where he could see the flag on the field, but wound up too far in front of his teammates and didn’t want to walk back to the team during the song.

Villanueva said he did not want to give the impression that the team was not unified and said several times that it was “my fault only” that things didn’t go off as planned.

“Unfortunately I threw my teammates under the bus, unintentionally,” Villanueva said in a video from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Jerseys and shirts with Villanueva’s number have been selling well since the anthem on Sunday and many have attributed that to where he was standing during the anthem. Villanueva said that impression is “completely wrong” and that he feels embarrassed every time he sees a picture of him standing by himself.

Villanueva spoke passionately about his service during his 15 minutes with the media and said that he does not believe that players who choose not to stand disrespect that service, adding that he’s heard thanks for it from players who have knelt and that he’d be OK with teammates who chose to kneel even though he’d never do it himself.

“We as a team tried to figure it out, obviously we butchered it, but I have learned that … I can’t tell you that I know what my teammates have gone through,” Villanueva said. “I’m not gonna pretend like I have the righteous kind of voice that you should stand up for the national anthem.”

Vontaze Burfict is back

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His three-game suspension has ended; Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict is back.

The banishment, arising from a preseason hit on Chiefs fullback Anthony Sherman, ended after Sunday’s loss to the Packers. Burfict rejoins the Bengals with a roster exemption that expires on Thursday at 4:00 p.m. ET.

The exemption allows the Bengals to carry 54 players on the roster for three days. Burfict is immediately eligible to practice and to play. The 0-3 Bengals face the 0-3 Browns on Sunday.

Further violations of on-field safety rules surely will result in further suspensions for Burfict. He received a three-game suspension after an illegal hit on Steelers receiver Antonio Brown in the 2015 postseason. The league office initially imposed a five-game suspension for the hit on Sherman, but hearing office James Thrash reduced it to three.

Packers sign LS Taybor Pepper, place Brett Goode on IR

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The Packers signed long snapper Taybor Pepper on Monday after placing Brett Goode on injured reserve.

Goode, the Packers long snapper for 10 seasons, has a hamstring injury. He also ended 2015 on injured reserve.

Pepper spent part of the offseason with the Packers and part of training camp with the Baltimore Ravens. He was a four-year long snapper at Michigan State, appearing in 54 career games from 2012-15.

Pepper, 23, has never played in a regular-season game.