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Ivory, Hurns will miss game vs. Broncos

JACKSONVILLE, FL - AUGUST 20: Josh Keyes #50 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers tackles Chris Ivory #33 of the Jacksonville Jaguars as he runs with the ball during a preseason game on August 20, 2016 at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. Tampa Bay defeated Jacksonville 27-21. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Jaguars have ruled four players out for Sunday’s game vs. the Broncos, including running back Chris Ivory and wide receiver Allen Hurns.

Both Ivory and Hurns have hamstring injuries and didn’t practice all week. Also out are wide receiver Rashad Greene (Achilles) and defensive end Jared Odrick (shoulder). Tight end Julius Thomas is doubtful with a back injury and likely to miss a second straight game.

Running back T.J. Yeldon has been limited the last two games and this week in practice by an ankle injury, but he’ll be counted on to carry a heavier load with Ivory out.

The Jaguars await the release of the Broncos’ injury report later Friday. Broncos starting quarterback Trevor Siemian didn’t practice Wednesday or Thursday due to a sprained left foot. Rookie Paxton Lynch would start if Siemian can’t play.

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What is the Chargers’ L.A. end game?

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 20: San Diego Chargers fans hold signs supporting the San Diego Chargers during a game against the Miami Dolphins at Qualcomm Stadium on December 20, 2015 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) Getty Images

With roughly six weeks until the window closes on the Chargers exercising their right to join the Rams in L.A., someone is leaking to the media the notion that the Chargers are on the verge of doing just that. And something about that makes me wonder what’s really going on here.

There’s a chance this latest report of a move to Los Angeles isn’t really about the Chargers moving to L.A. but the Chargers staying in San Diego.

Confused? Intrigued? If only there was a way to get to the bottom of the point by clicking on a video on spending two minutes or so hearing the situation be explained in a way that includes a twist that may seem a little kooky on the surface, but that may ultimately make plenty of sense.

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Ryan Mathews out, Jordan Matthews questionable for Sunday

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 06:  Jordan Matthews #81 of the Philadelphia Eagles in action against the New York Giants  during their game at MetLife Stadium on November 6, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Eagles haven’t said whether they will have wide receiver Nelson Agholor back in the lineup for this Sunday’s game against the Bengals and his status may be tied to Jordan Matthews‘ health.

Matthews is listed as questionable to play this weekend because of an ankle injury. Matthews left last Monday’s loss to the Packers early in the second half because of the injury, but was able to get on the field for a limited practice on Thursday.

Agholor was inactive for the Packers game after a series of errors over the first 10 games of the season had him feeling mentally lost. One would imagine he’ll be active if Matthews can’t play and he might be part of the gameday roster even if Matthews plays due to the possibility that he’ll leave early due to the injury.

Running back Ryan Mathews has been ruled out for the second straight week because of a knee injury and right tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai will also sit out with a knee injury.

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Louisiana law make it easy for citizens to shoot to kill

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 18:  Joe McKnight #25 of the New York Jets warms up before the start of the Jets game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on December 18, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) Getty Images

It’s unclear why the man who shot and killed former NFL running back Joe McKnight has been released from custody. It’s even less clear why Louisiana has a law that can transform the streets of New Orleans into Deadwood, South Dakota.

Louisiana has a “stand your ground” law, which surely will be an issue in the trial of Cardell Hayes, who shot and killed former Saints defensive end Will Smith earlier this year.

“A homicide is justifiable . . . [w]hen committed in self-defense by one who reasonably believes that he is in imminent danger of losing his life or receiving great bodily harm and that the killing is necessary to save himself from that danger,” the law states. “A person who is not engaged in unlawful activity and who is in a place where he or she has a right to be shall have no duty to retreat before using deadly force as provided for in this Section, and may stand his or her ground and meet force with force.”

As to the McKnight killing, key factual questions include identifying the aggressor and determining whether either party had disengaged from the exchange before it became deadly. Although further investigation may lead to the conclusion that the man who shot McKnight was not acting in self defense, the authorities have heard enough at this point to neither arrest nor charge a man who shot and killed another person less than 24 hours ago.

Surely, the “stand your ground” law was a major factor in the decision to set the shooter free.

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Man who killed Joe McKnight released without charges

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 08:  Joe McKnight #25 of the New York Jets returns a kickoff 100-yards for a touchdown in the third quarter against the Houston Texans at MetLife Stadium on October 8, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

The man who shot and killed former NFL player Joe McKnight was released without charges hours later.

Ronald Gasser, who was taken into custody after shooting McKnight, has been released, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office confirmed.

Police said Gasser and McKnight exchanged words in a traffic incident in a New Orleans suburb. Gasser reportedly remained at the scene and handed his gun over to police voluntarily. Although he hasn’t spoken publicly, he is presumably claiming he shot McKnight in self-defense.

According to police, McKnight did not have a gun either on his body or in his car.

A New Orleans native, McKnight was named the national high school player of the year by Parade magazine in 2006. After a college career at USC he was a fourth-round pick of the Jets in 2010 and played there for three seasons. He later played for the Chiefs and has most recently played in the Canadian Football League.

McKnight was 28 years old.

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Trump takes credit for NFL ratings slide, again

CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 01: President-elect Donald Trump speaks during a stop at U.S. Bank Arena on December 1, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Trump took time off from selecting the cabinet for his incoming administration to celebrate his victory in the general election.  (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images) Getty Images

Thirty years after Donald Trump took on the NFL and lost, he has taken on the NFL and won. According to him.

Via SportsBusiness Daily, the President-Elect declared during his first public rally since the election that the NFL’s ratings dropped because of the election.

“[T]heir ratings were so far down,” Trump said at a rally in Cincinnati. “And you know what the reason was? Because this business is tougher than the NFL. . . . Their ratings were down 20, 21 percent, and it was because of us.”

It’s not much different than Trump’s comments from October, when he both claimed credit for the dip in ratings and blamed Colin Kaepernick for it. The broader point is that the incoming Commander-in-Chief has the platform to make his voice heard, the willingness to say whatever he wants, and a lingering resentment of a billionaire’s club that consistently refused him admission.

Whether it’s making light of the league’s approach to concussions or pointing out the ongoing ratings struggles or anything else, the man who sits on the American throne could become a thorn in the side of America’s most popular sport. While some individual owners enjoy a positive relationship with him, the NFL may need to do some collective kissing of the ring (or some other area of the anatomy) in order to ensure that the next four years won’t include repeated body blows to a sport that some believe is currently being moved in the general direction of the ropes.

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Jarvis Jones knows his immediate future is out of his control

BALTIMORE, MD - NOVEMBER 6: Wide receiver Chris Moore #10 of the Baltimore Ravens is tackled by outside linebacker Jarvis Jones #95 of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first quarter at M&T Bank Stadium on November 6, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) Getty Images

It seemed apparent that Steelers outside linebacker Jarvis Jones‘ days with the team were drawing nigh. But the former first-round pick may fade away even before his contract expires at the end of the season.

Via Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said he didn’t want to use a five-man rotation for four outside linebacker spots. And since starters James Harrison and Anthony Chickillo seem entrenched and second-year linebacker Bud Dupree is back, it could be down to Jones and Arthur Moats for the final spot in that rotation.

And unlike Jones, Moats has sacks this year (3.5 of them), along with a contract for 2017.

“Do my job,” Jones said Thursday. “That’s all I can do.”

Jones said he was going to be motivated by the fact the Steelers didn’t pick up the fifth-year option on his rookie deal. But that hasn’t translated into any tangible results this season (he has 5.0 sacks in four seasons), and he seems to realize it’s out of his control at this point.

“I’ll prepare the same way,” Jones said. “I don’t make those decisions. Coaches do.”

It seems like the Steelers may already have, and Jones’ career with the team that drafted him 17th overall may be slinking to its inevitable end.

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Kareem Jackson plans to appeal fine for unnecessary roughness

HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 27:  Kareem Jackson #25 of the Houston Texans hits Dontrelle Inman #15 of the San Diego Chargers and is called for unnecessary roughness in the fourth quarter at NRG Stadium on November 27, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Chargers put last Sunday’s game against the Texans away in the fourth quarter when quarterback Philip Rivers hit tight end Hunter Henry with a 12-yard touchdown pass that made the score 21-10 in a game the Chargers would ultimately win 21-13.

That touchdown was set up on the previous play when 15 yards were tacked on to a 25-yard gain by wide receiver Dontrelle Inman after officials called Texans cornerback Kareem Jackson for unnecessary roughness. Jackson came up to hit a stumbling Inman and their interaction ended with Inman’s helmet off.

Jackson said on Thursday that he’s been fined $24,309 for the infraction and that he plans to appeal the penalty.

“No, they didn’t explain it,” Jackson said, via the Houston Chronicle. “Didn’t say launching or anything.”

Jackson has been limited in practice by a hamstring injury both days this week, but appears on track to play against the Packers as the Texans try to remain on top in the AFC South.

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Mario Edwards worked out on grass Thursday

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 03:  Defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. #97 of the Oakland Raiders looks on prior to the game against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on September 3, 2015 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) Getty Images

Raiders defensive end Mario Edwards hasn’t played in a game yet this season, but the team hasn’t given up hope that he’ll make it back from his hip injury in time to help the team.

Edwards took another step toward that return on Thursday when he worked out on grass for the first time in the rehab process. Edwards posted a video of that work on Instagram and General Manager Reggie McKenzie said “hopefully he’ll graduate” to the next step soon. If he does and the Raiders designate him to return, there will be a three-week window for Edwards to practice with the team before they have to decide on adding him to the active roster.

Edwards wasn’t initially expected to be out for this long, but McKenzie said that the team has been working with Edwards to ensure he doesn’t experience any other problems.

“It was just a slower process,” McKenzie said, via the San Francisco Chronicle. “The one thing you want to be is asymptomatic, even if he’s just doing a little rehab with the trainers. But he wasn’t feeling right, whatever the little twinges of pain or whatever he had. We just scaled back from that particular rehab process. So it was all on him on how he felt. The injury is healed now.”

Edwards isn’t the only potential addition to the defense for the Raiders. Linebacker Aldon Smith is eligible to be reinstated from suspension, but McKenzie said Thursday that the team still hasn’t heard anything from the league on that front.

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Jets OC: “The sky’s the limit” for Christian Hackenberg

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 1: Christian Hackenberg #5 of the New York Jets throws a pass in the second quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on September 1, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) Getty Images

As the Jets have floundered about at quarterback this season, the guy they spent a second-round pick on hasn’t been a factor at all.

But Jets offensive coordinator Chan Gailey objected to classifying rookie quarterback Christian Hackenberg as a “mystery,” and offered what amounts to the most vigorous defense to date of a guy who has become an afterthought behind Ryan Fitzpatrick and Bryce Petty.

“I don’t like that word,” Gailey said, via Daniel Popper of the New York Daily News. “I think he’s a developmental player at this point. There’s a lot of talent there. The sky’s the limit.”

The Jets are as curious about his potential as anyone, but since he’s third on the depth chart, he gets so few reps in practice that they can’t accurately measure his progress.

“He gets scout team reps and that’s what he gets,” Gailey said. “He gets the pre-practice individual throws. He’s learning every day about when to throw the ball, how to throw the ball. Up here it’s different than it is in college. He’s learning a great deal.

“To me, he’s gotten better every week. He understands the game better. He understands the defenses better. He understands protections better. That’s all a part of the growth process.”

And the Jets seem content to wait to see the growth at another time, rather than rolling him out in a lost season.

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Friday morning one-liners

SAN DIEGO, CA - NOVEMBER 13:   Melvin Gordon #28 of the San Diego Chargers runs the ball during a game against the Miami Dolphins at Qualcomm Stadium on November 13, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) Getty Images

Bills WR Robert Woods believes he will play again this season.

The Dolphins defense is “inconsistent” according to defensive coordinator Vance Joseph.

TE Martellus Bennett is looking at an expanded role for the Patriots.

Former Jets teammates of the late Joe McKnight responded to news of his death.

Ravens LB Terrell Suggs has had some good fourth quarters this season.

Marvin Lewis coached against Doug Pederson when Pederson was a player and now he’ll coach against him when the Eagles play the Bengals.

The Browns chose CB Joe Haden as their team winner of the Ed Block Courage Award.

TE Ladarius Green has been working into the Steelers offense slowly.

The Texans are familiarizing themselves with the pistol looks used by the Packers.

The Colts need their wide receivers to win their battles on the outside.

LB Paul Posluszny has played well during another down season for the Jaguars.

Titans WR Rishard Matthews wrote about his path to the NFL.

Last Sunday’s loss to the Chiefs was a low point for the Broncos special teams units.

De’Anthony Thomas has found a home on special teams for the Chiefs.

Thursday was another full practice for Raiders QB Derek Carr.

Chargers RB Melvin Gordon and his blockers are shooting for an 1,000-yard season.

Said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett of a late scramble and slide by QB Dak Prescott on Thursday night, “I thought it was an amazing football play to do what he did. The awareness. He knew the situation. He didn’t want to throw the ball away to stop the clock. He captures the edge. Some how he has the wherewithal to stay to try to stay in bounds in this situation. Those plays happen fast.”

Giants coach Ben McAdoo will be close to his hometown this weekend, although he says it’s not on his mind.

Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz shared his thoughts on the Eagles defense’s poor outing in Green Bay.

The Redskins offensive line has improved over the course of the season.

A breakdown of how Bears QB Matt Barkley fared in his first start for the team.

The Lions are evaluating their options at left guard.

Packers LB Clay Matthews got advice from Brian Cushing about playing inside linebacker.

P Jeff Locke had a rough Thursday night for the Vikings.

The Falcons won’t slow down their offense to give their defense more time to rest.

A look at how Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin has responded in his return from a torn ACL.

The Saints are well aware of how often the Lions have come back for wins this season.

Buccaneers DT Gerald McCoy just wants to let his emotions out.

Said Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald, “We’ve had mental errors in the past, but they are showing up at more inopportune times this year. It’s cost us a great deal.”

Rams QB Jared Goff is looking forward to being on the same field with Tom Brady.

DT Chris Jones impressed in his first game for the 49ers.

Seahawks S Earl Thomas stayed in Seattle with a hamstring injury last week, so he watched the game at Buffalo Wild Wings.

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The time has come to give better protection to quarterbacks

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 1:  Sam Bradford #8 of the Minnesota Vikings is slow to get up after taking a hit in the second quarter of the game against the Dallas Cowboys on December 1, 2016 at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Bradford was replaced by backup quarterback Shaun Hill for the rest of the possession.  (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Cam Newton kerfuffle, wherein the 2015 NFL MVP suggested that he wasn’t receiving sufficient protection from illegal hits, was resolved in part by the NFL arguing, essentially, that it fails to protect other quarterbacks more. And so the message, intended or not, was that the NFL tolerates the failure to protect quarterbacks, as long as no specific quarterbacks is being singled out for a failure of protection.

Here’s a revolutionary (apparently) idea: How about ensuring appropriate protection for all quarterbacks?

Plenty of other players won’t like it. Whining about quarterback protections has become a cottage industry for defensive players since Hall of Fame linebacker Jack Lambert first declared, in a decidedly non-P.C. way, that the league should simply put skirts on the men responsible for throwing passes.

But as the league tries to alter the new normal of a reduced national appetite of audiences for football simply because it’s on TV, it’s time to essentially put quarterbacks in a bubble — if the NFL can’t protect them with the rules currently on the books.

Last night’s failure of referee Tony Corrente to call at least two roughing the passing penalties for illegal hits to Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford reconfirms the inability of the naked eye embedded in a middle-aged body without the protection of padding while meandering around young, strong, fast men in armor to see what’s actually happening. It happened late in the first half, when Bradford took a helmet to the midsection and exited the game for a few plays, giving everyone (except Cowboys fans) an unwanted glimpse of what the rest of the game would have looked like with Bradford’s backup in the game.

The far more consequential failure came when Cowboys defensive tackle Cedric Thornton hit Bradford in the head on the two-point conversion attempt that would have sent the game to overtime. Once again, a referee failed to see what was happening right in front of him.

The NFL’s reaction to this chronic failure to protect quarterbacks is both predictable and, ultimately, ineffective. “We’ll continue to talk to the officials about this,” senior V.P. officiating Dean Blandino surely will say. Yes they will, and the officials will continue to fail to get the calls right.

At some point, the league needs to accept that no amount of talking will fix the problem. Which means that other solutions must be considered. Here are two ideas.

One, as many have argued, would be to make hits on quarterbacks subject to replay review. Since most of them happen away from a thick cluster of players, the available camera angles will routinely provide indisputable evidence of blows beyond the shoulder-to-knee strike zone and hits in the strike zone with the helmet. If it’s OK to bog the game down to determine whether a defensive player got his pinkie toe off the field some 40 yards from the action, it should be OK to bog the game down to provide appropriate protection for the most important player on either team.

Second, if the officials can’t or won’t in real time notice an illegal hit on a quarterback, why not adopt the kicker/punter rule? If the ball is out, you can’t hit the quarterback at all.

While that won’t solve the problem of illegal hits occurring on a quarterback who hasn’t gotten rid of the ball, it provides a so-simple-a-caveman-can-do-it bright line. Once the throw is away, the quarterback is protected against any and all contact.

Yes, that would be an extreme measure. But it would be effective, if the goal is to better protect quarterbacks. And if the NFL refuses to take meaningful steps to protect quarterbacks under the current rules.

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Cam Newton dismisses Richard Sherman’s “karma” comment

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 27:  Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers looks on against the Oakland Raiders during their NFL game on November 27, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Getty Images

Well, it beats talking about the Panthers themselves, at least.

The controversy du jour for the defending NFC champions who have fallen to 4-7 started when Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman said their fade was “karma” for Cam Newton wadding up a Seattle fan’s 12 flag after last year’s divisional playoff game in Charlotte.

So when asked about it Thursday, Newton answered with the seriousness that this story deserves.

“Where was the flag at? Was it at our house?” Newton asked rhetorically, via Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review. “Oh, OK. It’s irrelevant what he says right now. I have a lot of respect for Richard and I don’t think that has nothing to do with karma that another opposing team’s flag was in my stadium. Simple.”

Of course, Panthers coach Ron Rivera also saw the Sherman remarks for what they likely were, a shiny object in the middle of the week before a game that lacks the sizzle it had when the schedule was released.

“He knows that doing that could create a diversion more so than anything else,” Rivera said. “I don’t know if that’s got anything to do with karma as much as Richard Sherman’s a smart guy and just trying to create a little something.”

While their meeting on Sunday Night Football may not have playoff implications, it also doesn’t need extra spice. The two similarly built squads have played some epic games in recent years, with five of the six games they’ve played with Newton and quarterback decided by a touchdown or less.

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Brandin Cooks confirms frustration; “closed mouths don’t get fed”

NEW ORLEANS, LA - OCTOBER 16:  Brandin Cooks #10 of the New Orleans Saints catches the ball for a first down against the Carolina Panthers during the fourth quarter at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on October 16, 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) Getty Images

Saints wide receiver Brandin Cooks didn’t have a pass thrown his way in last week’s win against the Rams, which led to a report that Cooks has been frustrated by his role in the team’s offense.

Cooks confirmed as much on Thursday, calling football an emotional game and saying that sometimes you have to express those emotions because “closed mouths don’t get fed.” Cooks went on to say that his frustration is “not coming from a selfish standpoint.”

“It’s one of those things, as a competitor, I was frustrated. But at the same time, our offense was moving the ball and we won the game, so that was the bright side of it,” Cooks said, via “I’m just thinking from a competition standpoint, I always want to help, I feel like, and I necessarily didn’t that game. I feel like from my mindset, when I touch the ball, things happen, and I just want to help my team in that way.”

Saints coach Sean Payton said he wasn’t concerned by any frustration because Cooks’ shutout was a result of coverages rather than the team’s desire to avoid throwing him the ball. Cooks said he got the same message from quarterback Drew Brees, although he added that he still wants “that opportunity to find a way even though I’m being double-covered” so there may still be a slight difference in the way the receiver believes things should work in the Saints offense.

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Brady on Gronk: “A big void left by a spectacular player”

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 16:  Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots speaks to  Rob Gronkowski #87 after a first quarter touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Gillette Stadium on January 16, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

The reality of being without his top weapon heading into the playoffs is a hard one for Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

But even though Rob Gronkowski is undergoing back surgery today which is expected to be season-ending, Brady is trying to rally what’s left of his troops.

During his weekly interview with Jim Gray of Westwood One, Brady acknowledged there was a lot of work to be done.

“Well, you know, it doesn’t help losing great players,” Brady said, via Phil Perry of “And to not have Gronk out there — one of our best players and most dependable, consistent players — and not in the lineup makes things challenging for us. But that’s what the NFL season is about. It’s about overcoming challenges.

“We have a lot of good players on our team that are going to need to fill the void, and it’s a big void left by such a spectacular player in Gronk. But I don’t think that any of us are going to give up on what we’re trying to accomplish.”

The injury automatically puts more on the plate of tight end Martellus Bennett, but they already leaned heavily on two-tight end sets so shifting to more of a three-wide receiver look is going to create opportunities for players such as Malcolm Mitchell and Danny Amendola (Jeff Fisher shudders at the thought).

But there’s no replacing his big-play ability in the near term, as he was averaging 21.6 yards per catch.

“He’s such a mentally tough person,” Brady said. “He’s physically tough. He’s got such a great energy and spirit about him. We’re all wishing him the very best. Nobody wants Gronk not out there. Everybody wants Gronk out there every play of every game. But that’s not our reality. We still have a job to do, and we’re going to go out there and try to do it as well as we possibly can. . . .

“I’ve seen him the last few days so I’ve spoken to him a few times. Everyone’s thinking about him and what he’s gone through. It’s such a physical sport, it’s hard to see people you care about go through injuries. He’s gone through his fair share, but I also know the resolve that he has, and that will never change with him. He’ll be as determined as ever to get back and get better as soon as possible.”

But that apparently won’t be this season.

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