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Hue Jackson on Josh Gordon: “We need to close that chapter right now”

Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson, center, works the sideline during the first half of the team's NFL preseason football game against the Chicago Bears, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane) AP

The Browns were close to having an eligible Josh Gordon.

But now that he’s entered a rehab facility on the eve of being reinstated from his latest substance abuse policy suspension, the Browns seem to be over the entire situation.

“We’re moving on,” coach Hue Jackson said, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “We need to close that chapter right now. . . .

‘I’m not going to answer any more questions about Josh Gordon. I’m done with it.”

While understandable, it’s also a stark approach considering how close Gordon seemed to be. Team ambassador Jim Brown has said this offseason he thought Gordon was on the right track. The Browns had tried to insulate Gordon as best they could, but are apparently tired of the effort involved.

For their troubles and a supplemental second-round pick, the Browns got 35 games, 161 catches, 2,754 yards and 14 touchdowns from Gordon. But he hasn’t played for them since December 2014, and it appears he may not again.

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Jerry Jones: Dez Bryant’s availability based on his ability to withstand pain

Dallas Cowboys' Dez Bryant smiles as he jogs back to the sideline after catching a pass for a touchdown against the Miami Dolphins in the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Friday, Aug. 19, 2016, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins) AP

Cowboys owner/noted orthopedist Jerry Jones has weighed in, and he’s not ready to rule out his star receiver.

Jones said during an interview on 105.3 The Fan, via Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News, that he wasn’t sure if Dez Bryant was going to be able to play this week against the 49ers or not.

Jones called the situation “a pain thing,” which is the same way he described guard La’El Collins‘ toe injury. For what it’s worth, a source close to Collins denied that earlier this week.

Jones said he wasn’t surprised that an MRI of Bryant’s knee showed a hairline fracture, but wasn’t concerned about the prospect of doing more damage if he played.

It’s the ability to perform with pain,” Jones said.

While Jones’ medical credentials are unquestioned, his players might not appreciate the implication that they could just rub some dirt on it and suit up, since that seems to be his default response to injury questions this week.

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Emmanuel Sanders: If you think I’m a diva, I don’t mind

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 25:  Emmanuel Sanders #10 of the Denver Broncos carries the ball during the fourth quarter of the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on September 25, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Denver defeated Cincinnati 29-17. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images) Getty Images

Heading into last Sunday’s game against the Bengals, Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders said there was “some frustration” with the amount of balls being thrown to him and Demaryius Thomas in the first two weeks of the season.

The Broncos won both of those games, something Sanders noted as a factor keeping the frustration at a low level and something that others might have felt showed diva-like tendencies from the wideout. That’s label isn’t something that bothers Sanders.

“Hey, one thing, I don’t mind being a diva,” Sanders said, via ESPN.com. “I am a diva. I am a diva. I like winning ballgames, I like catching passes. Every wide receiver in the world likes to catch passes; every wide receiver in the world likes to put up points. After that game when the defense scored two touchdowns and you’re looking and [cornerback Aqib] Talib has more touchdowns and the defense is holding us down, we’re looking at ourselves and saying offensively that we have to step it up.”

Whether it was a case of a squeaky wheel getting some grease or the way the game played out, both Sanders and Thomas had big games in the 29-17 road win. They combined for 15 catches, 217 yards and three touchdowns in a performance that Sanders says shows what the offense is capable of doing this season.

“We can be dangerous,” Sanders said. “I think that’s the reason our articles last week said that Demaryius and me were frustrated, obviously because we know the potential of this offense. We know that we can have a balanced attack and we can go out and throw 300 yards and four touchdowns and we can also run the ball, too. We can rush for 150 yards. Obviously all of that comes with preparation out on the field and executing at a high level and maximizing our potential.”

The Buccaneers defense ranks around the middle of the pack in terms of both passing and rushing yards allowed, which should give the Broncos opportunities to make gains in both phases of the offense as they try for a 4-0 start to the season.

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Ditching marijuana ban would be good business for NFL

BERLIN, GERMANY - AUGUST 13:  Activists demanding the legalization of marijuana prepare to march in the annual Hemp Parade (Hanfparade) on August 13, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. German proponents of cannabis legalization are hoping that the legalization in several states in the USA in recent years will increase the likelihood of legalization in Germany.  (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images) Getty Images

Pigs get fat, hogs got slaughtered, and employers who unreasonably try to run the private lives of their employees eventually pay for it.

Amid efforts to understand why the NFL’s TV audience is shrinking, there’s one reason that unnecessarily is keeping some of the best young players off the field: The Big Brotherish ban on marijuana use.

Whether it’s Josh Gordon, Justin Blackmon, Martavis Bryant, Randy Gregory, or any other player who has been or will be suspended for smoking marijuana or using other recreational drugs on their own time, the NFL’s effort to supplement the criminal justice system by punishing players who haven’t been arrested or charged with any crime deprives the game of talented players who could be making the game more exciting and compelling and competitive.

It’s one of several issues the league needs to consider when engaging in much-needed navel gazing regarding the reasons for the dip in ratings and the ways to change it. Apart from the reality that it’s the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do for the business of the NFL.

Don’t count on the NFL changing course spontaneously. Because the issue of marijuana use has become part of the broader menu of collective-bargaining topics, the league will want a concession from the NFL Players Association before ever walking away from the marijuana ban, even if it’s clearly in the best interests of the game to defer any concerns regarding the use of marijuana and other street drugs to the relevant legal authorities and/or the inherent meritocracy of the sport.

Put simply, if a guy doesn’t get arrested and can continue to perform at a satisfactory level regardless of whether he uses marijuana, he should be allowed to keep playing — and the league should want to do all it can to help him keep playing.

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Jaguars list Julius Thomas as questionable for Sunday

JACKSONVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 11:  Julius Thomas #80 of the Jacksonville Jaguars looks to elude Morgan Burnett #42 of the Green Bay Packers during their game at EverBank Field on September 11, 2016 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Jaguars are set to get a couple of players back in the lineup after they missed last Sunday’s loss to the Ravens, but it won’t be until Sunday morning that we know if tight end Julius Thomas will be ready to go against the Colts.

Thomas, who has 11 catches for 148 yards and a touchdown, was listed as questionable on the team’s injury report for Sunday’s game. He was a limited participant in Friday’s practice after missing the first two days due to an elbow injury.

Linebacker Dan Skuta is also questionable due to a hip injury. Defensive end Jared Odrick will miss another week with a tricep injury and tight end Ben Koyack has been ruled out with a knee issue.

Cornerback Prince Amukamara is set to play for the first time since the season opener as his hamstring injury cleared up enough for two full practices to close out the week. Left tackle Kelvin Beachum is also good to go after missing last week with a concussion suffered against the Chargers in Week Two.

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Bill O’Brien takes over playcalling in Houston

SANTA CLARA, CA - AUGUST 14:  Head Coach Bill O'Brien of the Houston Texans looks on during pregame warm ups prior to playing the San Francisco 49ers in a preseason game at Levi's Stadium on August 14, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Getty Images

The J.J. Watt injury diminishes the Houston defense, which puts more pressure on the offense. In response to that pressure, coach Bill O’Brien is rolling up his sleeves even farther.

Via John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, O’Brien will assume responsibility for playcalling, from offensive coordinator George Godsey.

O’Brien called plays in 2014. Last year, however, O’Brien delegated the responsibility to Godsey. A slow start to the 2016 season, punctuated by a shutout last Thursday night against the Patriots, has prompted O’Brien to add the task to his existing responsibilities.

The move may be regarded by some as desperation. Regardless, O’Brien is doing what he believes he needs to do to turn around a team that has high expectations for 2016 — and that will be expected to perform well even without Watt.

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Colts rule Donte Moncrief and Darius Butler out for Jaguars game

Roy Helu, Donte Moncrief AP

The Colts are gradually getting healthier, but considering where they started from, it’s going to take some time.

Via Mike Chappell of FOX 59, Colts coach Chuck Pagano said that cornerback Darius Butler (hamstring) and wide receiver Donte Moncrief (shoulder) were out for this week’s game against the Jaguars in London, along with center Jonotthan Harrison (illness).

He wasn’t ready to make a declaration about offensive linemen Joe Reitz and Denzelle Good, saying there was still time to decide whether they’d be able to play.

The Colts have been playing with a patchwork secondary and offensive line all season, and could be in a position to activate four rookie offensive linemen this week.

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Sean Payton suggests Terron Armstead injury not a long-term one

Terron Armstead, Brett Ingalls AP

Saints coach Sean Payton doesn’t say much about injured players, but what he said about a healthy one gives some indication of how long a key absence might be.

Via Josh Katzenstein of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Payton was asked if playing Andrus Peat at left tackle was related to a long-term injury for Armstead, and the coach “quickly said no multiple times.”

Asked for a timeline on Armstead’s return, Payton said: “I’ll keep you posted.”

Armstead missed the Week Three game against the Falcons with a knee injury, and hasn’t practiced this week. He’s been dealing with quad and knee problems since before training camp.

But Payton made it clear the long-term plan was to play Peat next to Armstead when he returns.

“When Terron comes back, he’s back at left guard,” Payton said of Peat during a conference call.

The 2015 first-round pick started the first two games at left guard, after they experimented with him at right guard during OTAs. But he’s more comfortable on the left so they moved him back to the left during the preseason.

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Cam Newton, Tom Brady, Robert Kraft buy a part of the UFC

LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 02:  New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (L) and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Kraft Group and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft sits ringside at "Mayweather VS Pacquiao" presented by SHOWTIME PPV And HBO PPV at MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 2, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for SHOWTIME) Getty Images

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Patriots owner Robert Kraft are now minority owners of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

The talent agency WME-IMG recently purchased the UFC for $4 billion, and today the UFC announced that as part of that purchase, a number of athletes, entertainers and businessmen have bought small stakes in the mixed martial arts promotion.

“Our new investors bring an incredible depth of knowledge and experience to help us continue to elevate this brand and capitalize on its entertainment and sports crossover appeal,” UFC President Dana White said in a statement.

In addition to Newton, Brady and Kraft, minority owners of the UFC include actors Sylvester Stallone, Ben Affleck and Mark Wahlberg, late-night hosts Conan O’Brien and Jimmy Kimmel and tennis players Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams and Venus Williams.

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Receivers get some time at safety during Giants practice

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 11:  Dwayne Harris #17 of the New York Giants carries the ball during the second half against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on September 11, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) Getty Images

Nat Berhe appeared on the Giants injury report with a concussion on Thursday, leaving the team with two healthy safeties for practice.

Berhe and Darian Thompson, who has a foot injury, may both be out for Monday’s game against the Vikings and the team was also working without cornerbacks Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Eli Apple, forcing them to do a little improvising. Wide receivers Dwayne Harris, Geremy Davis and Darius Powe all saw scout team time at safety and Harris said the coaches have told him that he might get time there in Monday’s game as well.

“They mentioned to me, ‘We might possibly need you on defense.’ But they haven’t really said anything to me like it’s set in stone right now,” Harris said. “So I don’t know what way they’re going, what they’re going to do about it. As far as right now, I’m just keeping an open mind with it. If they need me, they need me. If not, I’ll continue what I’ve been doing. … I’m pretty sure I could do it. I’m pretty sure it’s not that hard — tackle somebody and if the ball comes to you, intercept it. Sounds easy.”

Harris said he last played defense for four snaps in middle school, so it may be a bit more difficult than that. For now, Landon Collins and Andrew Adams are the safeties, although there might be one other offensive option.

Odell Beckham has more recent experience playing safety as he got some snaps at the position during last February’s Pro Bowl, although opinions will vary about whether or not that amounts to more than a middle school level of intensity. Coach Ben McAdoo said, via the New York Post, “never say never” when asked if Beckham could be out there again.

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Brock Osweiler: Criticism of play is “hilarious”

Houston Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler (17) passes against the New England Patriots during the first half of an NFL football game Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola) AP

Quarterback Brock Osweiler has started his Texans career with three touchdown passes and four interceptions in his first three games, which isn’t quite the ratio that people in Houston were hoping to see from their big-ticket free agent acquisition.

That’s led some to criticize Osweiler’s ability to read defenses and make the right choices in the face of defensive pressure, but Osweiler said he isn’t losing any sleep about those opinions.

“I think that’s hilarious, to be honest with you,” Osweiler said, via the Houston Chronicle. “The critique comes from a whole lot of people that don’t know my read on that play. They’ve probably never actually sat in an offensive meeting in their life, let alone a quarterback meeting in the National Football League. … I’m very comfortable with my reads. Certainly, I know I need to clean up my ball security issues of having four interceptions through three games, and that’s something I will clean up.”

Osweiler added that he feels he’s doing a “great job” of progressing in Bill O’Brien’s offense and it hardly seems like a controversial opinion to suggest that things will run more smoothly the longer he’s been in the system. A good start to that process would be cleaning up the mistakes from last week’s 27-0 loss to the Patriots at home against the Titans this week.

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Julio Jones insists he’s not hurt, or unhappy with one-catch game

FILE - In this Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016, file photo, Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) runs past Oakland Raiders cornerback Sean Smith (21) to score on a touchdown reception during the first half of an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif. After the All-Pro shared the NFL lead with 136 catches in 2015, it’s notable when he had only one reception last week against the Saints. His quiet day came after he was limited all week by a calf injury. (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File) AP

Julio Jones missed some practice time last week because of a calf injury, and then responded with an unusual one-catch night against the Saints.

But the Falcons wide receiver insisted those two facts weren’t related.

I’m not injured or anything like that,” Jones said, via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

He was targeted seven times against the Saints, but only had one catch for 16 yards. But he said he was fine with that, because it meant other people were open as the Falcons rolled to a 45-32 win.

“That’s my job,” Jones said. “[Defensive] coordinators are going to try to take me away or they are going to put two guys on me or three guys depending on who we are playing. So, I’m doing my job. That’s all that I can do and we are winning.

“As long as we are winning football games and they are doing that, I’m happy with it and playing my role.”

That’s all well and good, but the Falcons are going to need Jones to be more than a decoy this week, as the level of competition increases dramatically with the Panthers and bringing an actual NFL defense with them.

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Friday morning one-liners

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 25:  Head coach Doug Pederson of the Philadelphia Eagles looks on before the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Lincoln Financial Field on September 25, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) Getty Images

LB Zach Brown finds himself in the starting role he hoped to have when he signed with the Bills.

Are the Dolphins playing for now or evaluating players for future teams?

CB Logan Ryan’s importance to the Patriots has grown over time.

TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins is “thankful” that the Jets picked him up.

The Ravens may need a new left side of the offensive line this week.

A lack of touchdowns was the only negative for the Bengals on Thursday night.

Browns K Cody Parkey is confident he’ll rebound from last week.

Some new faces will have a chance in the Steelers defense.

Texans coach Bill O’Brien is looking for improvement on special teams.

Living in London as a kid had an impact on Colts QB Andrew Luck.

Jaguars RB Chris Ivory has played well in past games in London.

What would Kendall Wright’s return mean for the Titans wide receivers?

Michael Schofield has been a jack of all trades for the Broncos offensive line.

The Chiefs were missing a pair of cornerbacks at Thursday’s practice.

Will the Raiders defense turn in another good performance this week?

Chargers T Chris Hairston is trying not to let anger get the best of him on the field.

It’s unclear if the Cowboys will have T Tyron Smith in the lineup this week.

Is Ereck Flowers the long-term answer at left tackle for the Giants?

With the Eagles 3-0 in Doug Pederson’s first year as coach, here’s a look at other coaches who have won their first three games.

Illness kept CB Josh Norman out of Thursday’s Redskins practice.

Young members of the Bears defense know more progress is needed.

The Lions are on the other side of the field from RB Joique Bell this week.

P Jacob Schum is settling into life with the Packers.

Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph has become a favorite target of QB Sam Bradford.

The Falcons have some injury issues at running back.

Panthers LB Thomas Davis won’t miss the Georgia Dome.

The Saints don’t think T Terron Armstead will be sidelined for a long time.

The Buccaneers are preparing for the Broncos pass rush.

WR Michael Floyd hasn’t picked up where he left off for the Cardinals.

Rams DE Robert Quinn looks like he’s back on form.

Carlos Hyde will be one of two Ohio State running backs on stage when the 49ers play the Cowboys.

RB C.J. Spiller went through his first practice with the Seahawks.

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Vontaze Burfict: I think I did alright in return

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 29:  Vontaze Burfict #55 of the Cincinnati Bengals calls a defensive play during the first quarter of the game against the Miami Dolphins at Paul Brown Stadium on September 29, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images) Getty Images

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said before Thursday’s win over the Dolphins that linebacker Vontze Burfict “raises the level” of the team’s defense as part of a discussion of Burfict being thrown back into the lineup at the end of his three-game suspension.

Thursday night was a very good one for the Bengals defense, which turned around from a shaky outing against the Broncos to shut down the Dolphins outside of one play on the first drive of the game. Burfict can’t take sole credit for that turnaround, but the upgrade in play speaks well of his impact even if Burfict had a modest review of his efforts.

“Football shape is different, but I think I did alright,” Burfict said, via the team’s website. “I felt I could have done more, but the coaches had a plan for me and switched me in and out with Vinny [Rey] and Karlos [Dansby] and they did a good job of that. At the end of the game, I started to feel my wind catching up, but every game I’ll feel like I’ll get better and better and get my legs up under me.”

Burfict had three tackles and knocked away a pass intended for Jarvis Landry, but the most important stat is the zero flags thrown against him during the game. Burfict is a big plus for the Bengals defense when he’s on the field and he needs to continue to avoid the personal foul penalties that kept him from being there to open the season.

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Russell Wilson: “No doubt” he plays against Jets

FILE - In this Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016, file photo,Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson walks off the field after being brought down against the San Francisco 49ers in the second half of an NFL football game Seattle. Despite spraining the medial collateral ligament in his left knee last Sunday against San Francisco, Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson is expected to start against the New York Jets. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File) AP

Some may wonder whether back to back ankle and knee injuries might be enough to keep him off the field, but Russell Wilson does not.

“No doubt,” the Seahawks quarterback told reporters on Thursday. “No doubt.”

He’s been listed as a full participant in practice the last two days, and is wearing a brace on his left knee (in which he suffered some degree of MCL sprain last week). But Wilson said prior to yesterday’s practice he wasn’t limited in any way.

“I feel great,” he said. “I feel great, feel strong. Obviously practiced yesterday, practiced the full practice and everything like that. I’m excited about this week.”

Last week was the first time he’s missed so much as a snap because of injury, so it’s normal for him to want to push through. It will remain interesting to see how effective he can be, because when his mobility is compromised, it takes away a large chunk of the Seahawks offense (as in their touchdown-less loss to the Rams).

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