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Peyton moves the mark to 511

Manning Getty Images

Another game, another football to be sent to Canton.

After 15 minutes of football with no scoring, Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning threw his 511th career touchdown pass early in the second to receiver Emmanuel Sanders.  It came on third and goal from the two, capping a drive fueled largely by a 38-yard catch by Sanders but the Broncos in business at the San Diego 31.

Manning has completed 10 of 12 passes for 109 yards in three drives.  The Denver defense has forced a pair of punts from the Chargers.

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Week Eight skill-position injury report — Thursday

Cincinnati Bengals v Indianapolis Colts Getty Images

The following are the skill-position players listed on the Thursday injury report. Key fantasy starters are bolded.

The final injury report for Sunday games will be released Friday, with the Monday-night injury report released Saturday.

All information is from the NFL and clubs excluding the Rams’ injury statuses, which were cited from Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Byes: Giants, 49ers.


Bengals WR A.J. Green (toe)

Bills RB Fred Jackson (groin).

Bills WR Chris Williams (illness).

Bills WR Marquise Goodwin (hamstring).

Broncos WR Rodney Smith (hamstring).

Cardinals TE Troy Niklas (ankle).

Chiefs WR Donnie Avery (groin). — OUT

Colts RB Trent Richardson (hamstring).

Colts WR Reggie Wayne (elbow).

Cowboys QB Tony Romo (back).

Eagles WR Brad Smith (groin).

Lions RB Reggie Bush (ankle).

Lions TE Brandon Pettigrew (foot).

Lions TE Eric Ebron (hamstring).

Lions TE Joseph Fauria (ankle).

Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams (ankle).

Panthers RB Fozzy Whittaker (thigh).

Panthers WR Corey Brown (concussion).

Raiders TE David Ausberry (foot).

Ravens TE Owen Daniels (knee).

Ravens WR Steve Smith (not injury related).

Saints RB Khiry Robinson (forearm).

Saints RB Pierre Thomas (rib, shoulder).

Seahawks FB Derrick Coleman (foot). — OUT

Seahawks TE Zach Miller (ankle). — OUT

Seahawks WR Bryan Walters (concussion).

Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph (abdomen, groin).


Bears TE Martellus Bennett (hamstring).

Bengals RB Giovani Bernard (ribs).

Bills WR Marcus Easley (knee).

Buccaneers QB Josh McCown (right thumb).

Buccaneers WR Vincent Jackson (rib).

Cardinals RB Andre Ellington (knee).

Cardinals WR Josh Brown (ankle).

Chiefs TE Travis Kelce (ribs).

Chiefs WR Junior Hemingway (hamstring).

Colts TE Jack Doyle (knee).

Dolphins TE Charles Clay (knee).

Dolphins TE Dion Sims (neck).

Eagles RB Darren Sproles (knee).

Falcons WR Harry Douglas (foot).

Jets WR Eric Decker (hamstring).

Jets WR Greg Salas (ankle, wrist).

Lions WR Calvin Johnson (ankle).

Packers RB James Starks (ankle).

Patriots WR Matt Slater (shoulder).

Raiders FB Marcel Reece (quad).

Raiders WR Vincent Brown (hamstring).

Rams WR Kenny Britt (ankle).

Rams RB Benji Cunningham (knee).

Saints TE Jimmy Graham (shoulder).

Texans WR Andre Johnson (ankle).

Titans QB Jake Locker (right hand).

Titans RB Shonn Greene (hamstring).

Titans TE Taylor Thompson (knee)

Washington QB Robert Griffin (ankle).


Bengals TE Kevin Brock (neck).

Bills WR Sammy Watkins (groin).

Chiefs RB Cyrus Gray (hand).

Cowboys WR Dez Bryant (shoulder).

Dolphins WR Brandon Gibson (knee).

Eagles RB Chris Polk (hamstring).

Falcons WR Julio Jones (ankle).

Jaguars RB Toby Gerhart (foot).

Jets RB Bilal Powell (foot).

Jets RB Chris Johnson (ankle).

Lions RB Theo Riddick (hamstring).

Patriots QB Tom Brady (ankle).

Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch (non-injury).

Seahawks RB Robert Turbin (shoulder).

Seahawks TE Luke Willson (groin).

Vikings TE Chase Ford (foot).

Washington RB Alfred Morris (ankle).

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Urlacher say Cutler isn’t getting the job done

Cutler Getty Images

When the Bears traded for quarterback Jay Cutler, former Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher said Cutler is a “pussy.”  Unless he didn’t.

On Wednesday, Urlacher didn’t call Cutler a guy who is succeeding at the position.

“We say it every year how talented Jay is, how much talent he has,” Urlacher told The Kap and Haugh Show.  “But the NFL is not a talent contest.  It’s a winning contest.  You want to win football games, that’s what it comes down to.

“If your quarterback can’t make plays in certain situations for you to win games, he’s not getting the job done.”

With $54 million guaranteed, Cutler undoubtedly is being paid to get the job done.

“Financially, he is one of the elite guys in the NFL,” Urlacher said.  “You look at his contract, he was paid like an elite quarterback. . . .  He just hasn’t produced like an elite quarterback. You look at the Bradys, the Mannings, the Rodgerses, the Breeses.  Those guys win every year.  Even with no one around them.  [Aaron] Rodgers has no offensive line, he wins.  [Tom] Brady has no receivers, he wins.

“You look at Jay, he’s got Brandon [Marshall], Alshon [Jeffery], Matt [Forte] and a great offensive line, Martellus Bennett and they can’t seem to put it together for some reason.  I’m not sure if it’s his fault, but for some reason they can’t seem to figure it out.”

If it’s not Cutler’s fault, then whose fault is it?  Cutler is far and away the highest-paid player on the team, so it’s on him to produce at a level that will help the team win games.

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Jason Verrett active for Chargers vs. Broncos

Jason Verrett, Brice Butler AP

The Chargers are thin at cornerback tonight against the Broncos, but not as thin as they feared.

Chargers cornerback Jason Verrett is active and will play tonight despite a shoulder injury that led to fears in San Diego that he wouldn’t be able to go. That’s a big positive for the Chargers, who are without cornerback Brandon Flowers after he suffered a concussion Sunday. The Broncos are not an opponent you want to face while thin at cornerback, so having Verrett on the field is big.

In addition to Flowers, the Chargers’ inactives are CB Steve Williams, RB Ryan Mathews, RB Donald Brown, LB Manti Te’o, LB Jerry Attaochu and DE Cordarro Law.

The Broncos’ inactives are RB Montee Ball, DB Omar Bolden, RB Kapri Bibbs, LB Steven Johnson, OL Ben Garland, OL Michael Schofield and DL Mitch Unrein.

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Rex sees improvement from Geno

rexgeno AP

Jets coach Rex Ryan thinks quarterback Geno Smith has improved since his Week Five benching.

Ryan told reporters today that while Smith’s improvements might not be apparent on the outside, they’re clear within the Jets. Ryan said he thinks Smith is growing as a quarterback and is ready to have a big game Sunday against the Bills.

“I just think he’s starting to see it,” Ryan said. “Whether the improvement are noticed by everybody or not, I’ve noticed the improvements that he’s making. Again, I think the arrows going up. Yeah, huge task in front of him this week, but I’m confident in him.

Smith has seven interceptions this season, but Ryan said Smith’s interceptions haven’t necessarily been as bad as it might look.

“If you just take the last three games, alright, yeah he’s got two interceptions in those games, but one was like, desperation against Denver, where we’re just trying to get it out of the end zone, just throw one up, we had to score,” Ryan said. “And so, we threw a pick there. We threw one, San Diego the last play of a two-minute, just a Hail-Mary type situation, so that’s it. So, I think he’s getting better protecting the football and that’s a big thing. I think his poise in the pocket’s been better and I think the fact that he was able to use his legs is another reason why I’m so confident in him.”

Despite pulling Smith for the second half of the loss to the Chargers, Ryan has given no indication that Smith might be in danger of losing his job to Michael Vick on a permanent basis. Ryan is going to trust Smith to keep improving, and perhaps help Ryan save his job.

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Gerhart practices fully on Thursday, but Robinson likely to start for Jaguars

Toby Gerhart AP

After a full practice on Thursday, Jaguars tailback Toby Gerhart looks on track to return after missing two games with a foot injury.

However, Gerhart might not return to his role as the Jaguars’ primary back Sunday vs. Miami.

According to Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union, Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley indicated Thursday that while Gerhart will play, Robinson will likely be the starter at the outset of Week Eight.

“I would look to see Denard – he’s probably the guy that we’re going with and you’ll see Toby get quite a few reps,” Bradley said, per the Times-Union.

On Thursday’s PFT Live, Robinson deferred to Bradley on the matter of whether he would start against Miami.

“Hopefully, he’ll give me a chance to start again, and we’ll continue to move forward,” Robinson said.

Gerhart rushed for just 123 yards on 48 carries in Jacksonville’s first five games, dealing with ankle and foot injuries along the way. Robinson, meanwhile, racked up 127 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries in his try as the Jaguars’ featured back in Sunday’s victory vs. Cleveland.

Thus, it wouldn’t be surprising if Robinson continued to have a big role in the backfield. And if Gerhart can stay healthy and recapture his best form, the Jaguars’ ground game will be stronger for it, which will certainly help first-year quarterback Blake Bortles.

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In Zach Mettenberger, the Titans have a “savage” new “gunslinger”

Tennessee Titans v Atlanta Falcons Getty Images

The Titans have been bad at football, but perhaps worse, they’ve been boring.

They might not be able to change both this year with Zach Mettenberger as their starting quarterback, but they’re definitely changing one of them.

“When he steps on the field, he’s not really worried about being a pretty boy, white-collar thing,” Titans tackle Taylor Lewan said, via Paul Kuharsky of “He’s a savage. He throws an interception, an incomplete, anything like that, he’s going to get up and say, ‘Screw that, I’m throwing darts the rest of the game.’ That’s kind of what his thing is. That’s pretty damn cool.”

Mettenberger admitted he’s going to take chances, the same way he did at LSU, and is willing to grow through those.

“You’ve got to take risks in this game,” Mettenberger said. “You’re probably going to misquote me. But to play in this league 10 years, you’ve got to throw it to your guys. Something coach [Cam Cameron at LSU] taught me last year is, I’m the guy with the ball, if I view a guy as open, he is open. So throw it to our guy, away from theirs.

“I think the term gunslinger gets thrown around a little too much. If you turn the ball over I guess that can be kind of a label you get. But I am trying to avoid that. I don’t want to be a gunslinger, I want to be a quarterback.”

He’s going to get that chance now, as the Titans aren’t in a position to hinder anyone’s development who might turn into one.

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A day in Harbaugh’s life starts with trash cans, work gloves, pleated khakis

Harbaugh AP

Strange days in San Francisco continue with a somewhat strange “day in the life” look at coach Jim Harbaugh, courtesy of the team’s official website.

Crafted against lingering (but never mentioned) tension and uncertainty regarding Harbaugh’s tenure with the franchise beyond 2014, the photo-driven, superficial glimpse at Harbaugh’s existence feels more like a carefully-crafted campaign brochure than an authentic look into how Harbaugh actually spends his time.

I like Jim Harbaugh, and he’s a great coach.  But things very often aren’t what they seem when it comes to the NFL.  And so it’s hard to look at the pictures and read the accompanying narrative and decide, “This is how Harbaugh really is.”  The more natural conclusion is, “This is how he wants the us to think he really is.”

It’s also hard not to wonder whether the 49ers knew that the team’s online resources would be used to help Harbaugh score points in the unspoken struggle for the hearts and minds of 49ers fans.

What Harbaugh really is could be fairly close to what the photos and article lead us to believe he is; there’s no way of knowing with any certainty.  But as Harbaugh moves toward concluding the fourth season of his five-year contract and with resolution of his long-term status looming before the fifth season commences, perception is reality. The perception emanating from the photos and the article will make fans more inclined to like Harbaugh.

They do, and they will continue to.  Regardless of anything that has happened behind the scenes, Harbaugh has turned around a team that had badly lost its way.  As a result, things could get very dicey for the 49ers if it appears the organization is nudging him out.  With a divorce still feeling likely if not inevitable, the team needs the fans to think Harbaugh wanted out.  The “day in the life” feature hints that he knows this.

The portrait commences with Harbaugh rolling a small army of trash cans to the curb, wearing his ubiquitous pleated khakis, his back fleece mock turtleneck bearing a 49ers logo, his black hat with a larger 49ers logo, and work gloves.  Yes, work gloves.  To roll his garbage cans to the curb.

I’m not doubting that Harbaugh routinely rolls his trash cans to the curb, but who wears work gloves to do it?  It may be been a deliberate effort to make Harbaugh seem thoroughly blue collar.  But anyone who wears a blue collar to work knows that, while work gloves have their place for a variety of backyard chores, they’re not part of the standard uniform for rolling trash cans to the curb.

That’s all I’m saying about this.  For several reasons.  Including that it’s not very easy to type while wearing work gloves.

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Broncos release John Boyett following arrest

Seattle Seahawks v Denver Broncos Getty Images

When safety John Boyett was a member of the Colts organization, the team didn’t wait long to release him after he was arrested on charges of disorderly conduct, public intoxication and resisting law enforcement.

Just as they once adopted Peyton Manning as their own, the Broncos have no adopted a page from the Colts’ playbook when it comes to dealing with Boyett in the wake of an arrest. The team announced Thursday that they have dropped Boyett from their practice squad after he was arrested early Wednesday morning.

The Denver Post reports that police say Boyett “drunkenly head-butted and punched a cab driver, stole a shovel from a construction site then tried to hide from officers by covering himself in mulch” before being arrested. Once arrested Boyett allegedly repeatedly slammed his head into a police car window while yelling and spitting and told officers to contact his boss John Elway.

That move appears to have backfired for Boyett as Elway and the rest of the team’s decision makers have opted to wipe their hands of a player who may not get a chance at a third strike in the NFL.

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A.J. Green sits out practice on Thursday

Andy Dalton, A.J. Green AP

The Bengals’ top receiver sat out yet another practice Thursday as he tries to come back from a toe injury.

Pro Bowler A.J. Green, who hasn’t played since the Bengals’ Oct. 5 loss at New England, did not participate in his second straight workout of the week. He has not practiced in 15 days, sitting out seven practices in a row for Cincinnati, which has lost twice and tied once after a 3-0 start. The Bengals host the Ravens on Sunday.

The 6-foot-4, 207-pound Green has caught 17 passes for 314 yards and two touchdowns this season. Were he to miss another game, Mohamed Sanu would be the Bengals’ top receiver, with Brandon Tate the other starter.

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Panthers hope DeAngelo Williams can return in Week Nine

Carolina Panthers v Baltimore Ravens Getty Images

It will be another week without running back DeAngelo Williams for the Panthers.

Coach Ron Rivera said Thursday that Williams is not sufficiently healed from his ankle injury to play against the Seahawks this Sunday. That will make four straight games on the sideline for Williams, who also missed two games earlier in the season.

Rivera also said that the team hoped Williams would be able to return for their Week Nine game against the Saints and intimated that the decision to hold him back was so that the team was sure he’s ready to return.

“We could put him out there and say, ‘Well, we were 95 percent close,’ and all a sudden something bad happens and now you’re back to 65 percent. DeAngelo is the same way. We’re being very smart with this, very calculated,” Rivera said, via

On the banged-up offensive line, the Panthers expect left tackle Byron Bell and right tackle Nate Chandler to play but the outlook is less rosy for guards Trai Turner and Amini Silatolu.

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Vincent Jackson hears trade talk, but wants to stay in Tampa

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v New Orleans Saints Getty Images

Because the trade deadline is coming up, and because the Buccaneers are in flux, and because Vincent Jackson is 31, it’s reasonable to think he’ll make phones ring.

But the veteran wide receiver said Thursday he wants to stay put, and fix things with the Bucs.

“In this business, those kind of things get talked about quite often. Each and every year, there’s going to be guys moved around to different teams,” Jackson said, via Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times. “I’m not surprised by it. Obviously I appreciate teams’ interest, but I’m happy here in Tampa. I’ve heard nothing here that would suggest I’m going anywhere. I’m going to let that pass on and keep doing my job.”

Jackson leads the team in receptions, and has value despite his contract (two years at $10 million each). But he said he wants to stay and continue to the building project coach Lovie Smith has begun.

“That’s exactly what I want to do here,” Jackson said. “Bringing Lovie (Smith) in and the staff that he’s brought, his mentality and his goals are aligned with mine and a lot of guys in this locker room. I hope for us to start the tradition here of winning football in Tampa Bay and to stay in this uniform and this jersey and help bring that here.”

Now the only question is whether the Bucs think Jackson could be a bigger part of that than whatever pick they’d get in return.

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Russell Wilson: Percy Harvin and I had no differences, media blew it up

Russell Wilson, Percy Harvin AP

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson denies that he and Percy Harvin had a rift.

Wilson said that Harvin, who was traded from the Seahawks to the Jets last week, is a lot like him. And Wilson said he thinks reporters were trying to make a big deal out of Harvin supposedly clashing with teammates.

“Percy and I never had differences,” Wilson said. “He’s a guy that, you know, we had a lot of similarities, probably, if anything. You know, guys that want to compete at the highest level, want to win every single time you step on the field. Want the ball in our hands, to make the big play and everything. So I’m not sure why the media tries to blow everything out of proportion, it’s part of it, I guess. You have to deal with it. But you also ignore it, too. Like I always tell you guys, ignore the noise. You know, Percy’s a Virginia guy and I wish nothing but the best for him.”

Wilson may claim this is a media creation, but that’s awfully hard to believe, given all the stories that have come out of Seattle in the six days since Harvin was traded. There’s just too much smoke to believe there isn’t any fire.

But Wilson has a well-crafted image as a good guy, and he’s saying all the right things to preserve that image.

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Whisenhunt says he’s going with Mettenberger and sticking with him

whisenhuntmettenberger AP

Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt says Zach Mettenberger is his starting quarterback, and that’s not about to change.

“We’re going with Zach and we’re going to stay with Zach,” Whisenhunt said today.

The injury-prone Jake Locker, who has missed three of the last four games, is expected to be healthy enough to play on Sunday against the Texans but has been demoted to second string. Charlie Whitehurst, who has started the games Locker missed, is now No. 3 on the depth chart.

For the Titans, it really only makes sense to go with Mettenberger. This team is 2-5 and going nowhere with either Locker or Whitehurst. They might find out that Mettenberger is the quarterback of the future. Or they might find out that Mettenberger simply isn’t good enough — which they’d rather find out now so they can find another quarterback in the offseason.

Whisenhunt has a history of struggling to make the right decision at the quarterback position, most notably during his tenure as head coach of the Cardinals when he took far too long to realize that Kurt Warner was a better player than Matt Leinart. But this feels like the right decision for the Titans. Mettenberger might turn out not be the answer, but Locker and Whitehurst definitely aren’t.

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Norv Turner: Teddy Bridgewater “a work in progress”

Minnesota Vikings v Buffalo Bills Getty Images

It’s just a few starts into his NFL career, but Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater already reminds offensive coordinator Norv Turner of one of the most accomplished quarterbacks he’s every coached.

Unfortunately for Bridgewater, he reminded Turner of Troy Aikman on an interception. Turner said that Bridgewater’s second interception against Buffalo last week reminded him of one Aikman threw to Cris Dishman of the Oilers during his rookie season with the Cowboys. The story helped underscore Turner’s point that Bridgewater is “a work in progress” that will do things that make you smile and make you scream over the course of a game.

One thing that Turner has liked is the way that Bridgewater dealt with the Buffalo pass rush.

“He’s had a lot of pressure, and I think he’s been unbelievable,” Turner said, via the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “I get nervous in terms of the hits outside the pocket. Those are the ones where you get thrown to the ground and banged around pretty good. He’s got good sense in the pocket. He’s getting better at getting the ball out, and he threw the ball away a couple of times on Sunday when there was nowhere to throw it; whereas against Detroit on those plays, he took sacks.”

Given the play of the Vikings line this season, that’s a good skill for Bridgewater to have. The Vikings will have to hope that buys him enough time to work on a few of the other ones he’ll need to succeed in the NFL.

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