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The 2014 Justin Forsett returns

Baltimore Ravens v Pittsburgh Steelers Getty Images

In each of Baltimore’s losses to start the 2015 regular season, the 2014 version of running back Justin Forsett was MIA. On Thursday night, he returned.

Not immediately. On the first drive of the night, the Ravens opted not to run the ball while going three and out. On the second drive, his first two runs were a lot like most of his runs in 2015. But then, after a third-down throw gained a first down, Forsett was back.

He ripped through the line for 10 or more yards on consecutive carries, putting Forsett on his way to a 150-yard night, on 27 carries.

Like many running backs who aren’t part of a full-blown revolving door arrangement, Forsett got better as the game went on, ultimately notching more carries and gaining more yards than Pittsburgh workhorse Le’Veon Bell. And Forsett’s longest run of the night — a 33-yarder — came when the Ravens were down 20-7 in the third quarter and needed a spark.

It’s not clear why Forsett was so ordinary for the first three games and how he suddenly found his groove. The change from Gary Kubiak to Marc Trestman as offensive coordinator surely is a factor. If it’s one of the primary factors, that could be good news for the Ravens, since Thursday night’s performance is a sign that Forsett has made the transition and is ready to roll this year the same way he did during his breakout season of a year ago.

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Jerry Jones says Cowboys have big receiving threats, beyond Dez

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Cowboys owner and General Manager Jerry Jones says the roster he built has a lot more good receiving threats than just Dez Bryant.

In an interview on 105.3 The Fan, Jones said receiver Terrance Williams, who may be the No. 1 target with Bryant out, compares to Hall of Fame Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin in the way he competes. And Jones wants to see Williams get plenty of targets in the coming weeks.

“I know how driven he is,” Jones said, via the Dallas Morning News.I know Michael Irvin, and [Williams] is Michael Irvin-driven. He’s Michael Irvin-work ethic. He can really compete. I expect him to compete. I know what was bothering him, that he didn’t feel like he got a chance or didn’t compete. I think we should expect to see him get some balls. He knows how to compete.”

Jones also said he wants to see more balls thrown to tight end Gavin Escobar.

“Escobar does it differently, but he’s got a huge [catch] radius, which means a wide way to throw it,” Jones said. “Escobar, at 6-7, with a significant leaping ability and those arms should be able to contest balls right and left. That answers your question right there. He’s certainly got the speed to get in the routes, so yes, I’ve always thought the real best answer for not having Dez out there is a combination of things, but included Escobar.”

In Sunday’s loss to the Falcons, Escobar and Williams combined for zero catches. Jones wants to see that change.

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Ryan Kerrigan off to slow start after signing big contract

Ryan Kerrigan, Brian Hoyer AP

Washington pass rusher Ryan Kerrigan got a $16 million signing bonus as part of a five-year, $57.5 million contract this offseason, which makes the start to his season disappointing.

Kerrigan, who had 13.5 sacks last year, has just half a sack this year. He acknowledged that he feels it’s particularly important to him to play well this year to prove he’s worth the money he’s making.

“Absolutely,” Kerrigan said, via ESPN. “That’s a lot of personal pride. I got that big contract and I want to show I’m worthy of it. Of course you want to justify it, but it’s not something like I wake up every day and say I’ve got to [justify] it.”

Kerrigan does think he’s putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks, but he’s being paid the big bucks to sack the quarterback.

“I’ve been close a number of times, but close doesn’t cut it,” Kerrigan said. “I have to win my one-on-ones more and win them quicker. I’ve been close a lot of times, but I have to win it quicker and make things happen quicker.”

On Sunday Kerrigan will try to put pressure on Philadelphia quarterback Sam Bradford, who has been sacked just twice while throwing 117 passes this season.

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Officially, Drew Brees is virtually certain to play

Drew Brees, Henry Melton AP

On Friday, Saints coach Sean Payton said that the plan for Sunday night was to start Drew Brees at quarterback. Later in the day, the Saints made it official.

By listing Brees as probable with a right shoulder injury, the Saints have declared that Brees is a virtual certainty to be available for normal duty.

Some still believe that “probable” means that a player is only 75-percent likely to play. It doesn’t. While “questionable” means 50-50 and “doubtful” pegs the percentage at 25, “probable” is as close to 100 percent certain as a guy can be.

So look for Brees to suit up and play on Sunday night, as the Saints try to avoid falling to 0-4 and running their home losing streak to seven games.

It won’t be easy, even without quarterback Tony Romo playing for the Cowboys. But the Saints typically perform well in prime time at the Superdome, and this could be their last chance to keep pace with the Falcons and Panthers, both of whom could be 4-0 by the time the Saints game starts.

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Steelers apparently not yet ready to admit mistake on Josh Scobee

Josh Scobee AP

All football teams make mistakes. The real question is what they do about those mistakes.

They can admit them and try to fix them, or they can double down, refusing to acknowledge the blunder and hoping that eventually the mistake will become something other than a mistake.

The Steelers sent a sixth-round pick to Jacksonville for kicker Josh Scobee, after kicker Garrett Hartley, the replacement for kicker Shaun Suisham and his torn ACL, suffered an injury. As noted by Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Scobee had a career success rate of 71.5 percent for kicks between 40 and 49 yards. With the Steelers, Scobee has made only three of seven from that distance.

They reportedly tried out kicker Kai Forbath on Friday, but apparently didn’t like what they saw enough to tell Scobee to scram. Or maybe they just aren’t ready to acknowledge that they wasted a sixth-round pick.

Regardless, Snoop Dogg thinks they should.

Get the f–k outta here Josh Scobee,” Snoop Dogg said on Instagram. “We need to get rid of that motherf–ker. He’s sorry as f–k. He was sorry in Jacksonville, he’s sorry with us. Get his ass out of here. Bye bye bitch. Sorry motherf–ker you.”

As Bouchette also notes, the Steelers likewise have sent a fifth-round pick to Philly for cornerback Brandon Boykin, who has been buried on the depth chart.

Some will say, “So what? Who have the Steelers ever found in rounds five or six?” Glad you asked.

Players picked by the Steelers in rounds five or six over the years include receiver Antonio Brown (2010), cornerback William Gay (2007), linebacker Clark Haggans (2000), running back Chris Fuamatu-Ma’afala (1998), running back Barry Foster (1990), linebacker Hardy Nickerson (1987), linebacker Greg Lloyd (1987), guard Craig Wolfley (1980), tackle Tunch Ilkin (1980), defensive back Dwayne Woodruff (1979), quarterback Cliff Stoudt (1977), running back Jack Deloplaine (1976), center Mike Webster (1974), and defensive end Steve Furness (1972).

Of course, they don’t get lucky with a fifth- or sixth-round pick every year. They definitely won’t in 2016.

The only question moving forward is whether they will keep putting games at risk by sticking with a kicker who can’t make kicks when he needs to.

If Snoop Dogg has his way, they won’t.

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Vernon Davis doubtful for Sunday

Vernon Davis AP

The Vernon Davis contract year has encountered another obstacle.

Davis, who has only eight catches for 109 yards and no touchdowns through three games in 2015, is doubtful for Sunday’s game against the Packers with a knee injury suffered in Week Three’s blowout loss to the Cardinals.

The good news, if there is any, for the 49ers is that running back Reggie Bush is probable with a calf strain. It means he’s virtually certain to be available for normal duty.

Bush suffered the calf injury in the Monday night opener against the Vikings. As NBC Sports Medicine Analyst and long-time NFL athletic trainer Mike Ryan said during Friday’s PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio, the general rule of thumb for calf strains is this: When you think it’s healed, give it another week.

For Davis, the likelihood he’ll miss a week puts a dent in his marketability for 2016. Along with the fact that he turns 32 in January.

For all major injury news in advance of Sunday’s game, check out the Week Four injury report roundup, compiled by Josh Alper promptly after the Friday injury report was released.

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Irving Fryar gets five years in prison for mortgage fraud

Irving Fryar, Allene McGhee AP

Irving Fryar, the first overall pick in the 1984 NFL draft who went on to be a five-time Pro Bowler for the Patriots, Dolphins and Eagles, is heading to prison.

Fryar was sentenced today to five years for mortgage fraud. He and his mother were convicted of conspiracy and theft by deception for fraudulently using the same property while applying for multiple mortgages. His mother got three years’ probation.

“The fact that Fryar had the means to succeed and do good things and instead chose this criminal path makes his actions all the more reprehensible,” acting New Jersey Attorney General John Hoffman said in a statement Friday.

The 53-year-old Fryar was an All-American at Nebraska and at times an excellent player in the NFL, although his off-field issues often overshadowed his on-field excellence. He missed the AFC Championship Game in his second NFL season because he had injured his hand in a fight with his wife and was arrested on weapons charges a couple years after that. He retired after the 2000 season with 851 catches for 12,785 yards and 84 touchdowns.

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NFL again defends punt muff non-call in Chicago-Seattle game

Walt Coleman AP

During Sunday’s game between the Bears and Seahawks, replay review upheld a decision that a ball punted by Chicago had not touched a Seattle player. CBS rules analyst Mike Carey said during the broadcast the NFL V.P. of officiating Dean Blandino explained that there was not clear evidence of the ball touching the Seattle player’s leg.

In the league’s weekly officiating video, Blandino again defends the decision.

After showing two angles that weren’t definitive on whether the ball strikes the player’s leg, the video includes a closer shot of the leg, with the ball clearly changing its trajectory as it passes by the leg of the player. Blandino, however, insists that the video doesn’t show the ball clearly touching the leg.

“Does this ball really jump that far to the right where we think the ball clearly hit his leg?” Blandino asks. “It’s reasonable to assume that it hit his leg. But, again, we cannot make a decision based on the ball changing direction. We have to see clear evidence that the ball absolutely touched his leg.”

That’s fine, but it does seem to be pretty clear that the ball strikes the leg. It may not look clear when played one frame at a time, but at normal speed it’s clear and obvious that the ball moves in a way that happens only if the ball strikes something.

If that’s the standard the league intends to apply to replay review, that’s fine. But we should all remember this standard moving forward, because there inevitably will be occasions when a decision is made not based on what is absolutely clear and patently obvious to the eye, but which is absolutely clear and patently obvious based on the application of common sense.

As the ball was falling and at the moment it passed the player’s leg, it moved in a way it would move only if it touched something other than air. If replay review isn’t going to correct that call, what’s the purpose of even having replay review?

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Controversy swirls over sound effects at Jim Tomsula press conference


At a time when the football-following world is trying to figure out what’s wrong with the 49ers, a separate issue has arisen.

The audio says it all. A sound is made during a press conference. That sound sounds a lot like the sound made when air escapes from the body in a quick, violent burst. Of sound.

Many believe that coach Jim Tomsula, who may or may not have smelt it, is the one who dealt it.

Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle, who may or may not have been speaking with tongue in cheek (the other cheek), reports: “Jim Tomsula did not pass loud gas during his presser Wednesday. The sound came from a reporter sitting in leather seat near mic.”

ESPN’s John Clayton may or may not have been the reporter in question. Also, the dog.

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Week Four injury report roundup

Andrew Luck AP

Over the course of the week, there are a lot of posts about the most prominent injured players but we know that you might not see all of them and that some others may fall through the cracks. As a result, we’ll comb through all the injury reports every Friday afternoon so that there’s one stop for all the news from every team playing on Sunday. So, without further delay, the injury report roundup for Week Four of the 2015 season.

Jets vs. Dolphins (in London)

The Jets will wait until Sunday to make a call on wide receiver Eric Decker (knee), but cornerback Darrelle Revis (knee) and running back Chris Ivory (groin) are both expected to play. Guard Willie Colon (knee) and tight end Jeff Cumberland (concussion) are both out. Dolphins left tackle Branden Albert (hamstring) is expected to miss the game after being listed as doubtful. Tight end Dion Sims (concussion) is out and it will be game-time decisions for tight end Jordan Cameron (groin) and running back Jonas Gray (calf).

Texans at Falcons

The Texans will reveal Sunday whether left tackle Duane Brown (hand) and running back Arian Foster (groin) make it back to the lineup. Quarterback Ryan Mallett (chest) is probable after three limited practices and safety Lonnie Ballentine (knee), linebacker Akeem Dent (hamstring) and running back Jonathan Grimes (knee) have all been ruled out. Safety Ricardo Allen (knee), running back Tevin Coleman (ribs), wide receiver Devin Hester (toe) and tight end Jacob Tamme (concussion) have been ruled out for Atlanta, but linebacker Brooks Reed (groin) is expected back in the lineup.

Giants at Bills

Giants left tackle Ereck Flowers (ankle) has a shot of returning to the lineup after getting a questionable tag. Defensive end Robert Ayers (hamstring), wide receiver Victor Cruz (calf), tight end Jerome Cunningham (knee) and defensive tackle Markus Kuhn (knee) have all been ruled out. The Bills have several players ruled out as well. Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin (ribs), running back LeSean McCoy (hamstring), guard John Miller (groin), wide receiver Sammy Watkins (calf) and safety Aaron Williams (neck) will all miss this weekend’s action.

Raiders at Bears

Oakland will go into Soldier Field without defensive end Benson Mayowa (knee), cornerback Keith McGill (foot) and defensive end C.J. Wilson (calf). Safety Charles Woodson (shoulder) is questionable. Tackle Jermon Bushrod (concussion, shoulder) has been ruled out by the Bears, who will wait to decide if quarterback Jay Cutler (hamstring) and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (hamstring) will play.

Chiefs at Bengals

The Chiefs are in good shape after playing on Monday night. Wide receiver Albert Wilson (shoulder) is questionable and four players are probable. The Bengals have decent health as well. Safety George Iloka (ankle) is doubtful while defensive tackle Marcus Hardison (knee) and cornerback Adam Jones (elbow) are questionable.

Jaguars at Colts

Jacksonville continues to be banged up with wide receiver Marqise Lee (hamstring), guard Brandon Linder (shoulder), defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks (knee), running back Denard Robinson (knee) and tight end Julius Thomas (hand) all ruled out of the lineup. Safety Sergio Brown (calf) is doubtful to play, so the list will likely grow on Sunday. The Colts listed quarterback Andrew Luck (shoulder) as questionable after a week of limited practices and the arrival of Josh Johnson on the roster. Tight end Dwayne Allen (ankle) is questionable after missing last week and cornerback Greg Toler (neck) remains out.

Panthers at Buccaneers

Linebacker Luke Kuechly (concussion) will miss his third straight game for the Panthers. Wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery (ankle), guard Amini Silatolu (ankle) and tackle Daryl Williams (knee) have also been ruled out, but running backs Jonathan Stewart (tibia) and Mike Tolbert (groin) are both probable to play. The Buccaneers didn’t rule out cornerback Johnthan Banks (knee), tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins (shoulder), center Evan Smith (ankle) or tight end Luke Stocker (hip), but all are doubtful to play. Running back Doug Martin (knee, quadricep) and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (shoulder) are both questionable after practicing on Friday.

Eagles at Redskins

Linebacker Kiko Alonso (knee) was ruled out by the Eagles during the week and defensive linemen Taylor Hart (shoulder) and Cedric Thornton (hand) will join him on the sideline. Linebacker Mychal Kendricks (hamstring), running back DeMarco Murray (hamstring) and left tackle Jason Peters (quad) are all questionable to play. The Redskins ruled out cornerback DeAngelo Hall (toe), wide receiver DeSean Jackson (hamstring) and linebacker Perry Riley (calf), but they hold out hope that cornerback Chris Culliver (knee, questionable) will be able to play.

Browns at Chargers

Cleveland ruled out defensive end Desmond Bryant (shoulder), linebacker Craig Robertson (ankle), linebacker Scott Solomon (ankle), running back Robert Turbin (ankle) and cornerback K’Waun Williams (concussion) on Friday. Safety Tashaun Gipson (groin) is questionable and cornerback Joe Haden (ribs, finger) is probable for Week Four. Guard Orlando Franklin (ankle) is out, tackle King Dunlap (concussion) and center Chris Watt are doubtful and guard D.J. Fluker (ankle, chest) is questionable, so the Chargers are going to be scrambling on the offensive line. Safety Jahleel Addae (ankle), wide receiver Jacoby Jones (ankle), cornerback Craig Mager (hamstring) and linebacker Tourek Williams (foot) are also out this week. Tight end Ladarius Green (concussion) and cornerback Jason Verrett (foot) have been listed as questionable.

Rams at Cardinals

Safety Maurice Alexander (groin) and defensive end Eugene Sims (knee) will miss the game for the Rams. Running back Chase Reynolds (knee, doubtful) is expected to join them. Running back Andre Ellington (knee) is questionable to return for the Cardinals, but wide receiver J.J. Nelson (shoulder) is out.

Vikings at Broncos

The Vikings will be without wide receiver Charles Johnson (ribs) and Jarius Wright (hand) may leave them even thinner at the position after being listed as questionable. Cornerback Jabari Price (shoulder), safety Andrew Sendejo (knee) and defensive end Justin Trattou (foot) have also been ruled out, but cornerback Xavier Rhodes (concussion) is expected to play. Rookie left tackle Ty Sambrailo (shoulder) is out for Denver and tight end James Casey (knee) and linebacker Todd Davis (ankle) are both questionable.

Packers at 49ers

The Packers will be without right tackle Bryan Bulaga (knee) again this week, and cornerback Demetri Goodson (hamstring) and linebacker Jake Ryan (hamstring) are likely to join him after drawing doubtful tags. Wide receiver Davante Adams (ankle) and safety Morgan Burnett (calf) are both questionable. The 49ers aren’t expected to have tight end Vernon Davis (knee, doubtful), but don’t have other pressing injuries on the active roster.

Cowboys at Saints

The Cowboys will remain without defensive end Randy Gregory (ankle) again this week, but Jeremy Mincey (concussion) is expected back after missing last week’s game. Guard Ronald Leary (groin) is also expected back for Dallas. The Saints plan on starting quarterback Drew Brees (shoulder) and also listed safety Jairus Byrd (knee), linebacker Dannel Ellerbe (toe) and cornerback Keenan Lewis (hip) as probable. Guard Jahri Evans (knee) was ruled out for the second straight week.

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Von Miller fined $11,567 for celebratory pelvic thrusts

Von Miller AP

Broncos linebacker Von Miller avoided a fine after being penalized for roughing the passer against the Lions last Sunday night, but he did hear from the league this week.

The NFL has confirmed that Miller was fined $11,567 for unsportsmanlike conduct due to the moves he showed off after the Broncos dropped Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford during the 24-12 victory. Miller performed a couple of pelvic thrusts that will be familiar to fans of Key and Peele (or, for those of an older vintage, reminiscent of Ravishing Rick Rude).

The league also confirmed that wide receiver Demaryius Thomas was not fined after receiving a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. Thomas beat out Darius Slay for a ball that turned into a 45-yard touchdown catch and drew the flag after backpedaling into the end zone.

Mike Klis of KUSA reports that defensive tackle Sylvester Williams has been fined $8,671 after being penalized for unnecessary roughness for a hit on Stafford.

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Andre Ellington may play, but Chris Johnson will start

Chris Johnson, NaVorro Bowman AP

Chris Johnson’s career prospects didn’t look like all that promising this offseason when he was recovering from a gunshot to the shoulder after a mediocre 2014 season with the Jets, but he landed with the Cardinals in August and got a chance to run as the team’s lead back when Andre Ellington hurt his knee in the season opener.

Johnson’s made the most of it. He’s gained 182 yards on 42 carries the last two weeks and scored two touchdowns in last week’s rout of the 49ers. That production has earned Johnson an extended look as the starter.

Coach Bruce Arians said Friday that Johnson will remain the team’s starter against the Rams this Sunday even if Ellington returns to the lineup. Arians said Ellington is a game-time decision and Josina Anderson of ESPN reported that the back is expected to play this weekend.

After two weeks off, it’s not surprising that Ellington would come in off the bench. If Johnson continues to play well and the Cardinals keep cruising to wins, it also wouldn’t be surprising to see that arrangement remain in place beyond this week.

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Davante Adams questionable, “slight” chance he plays Sunday

Divisional Playoffs - Dallas Cowboys v Green Bay Packers Getty Images

Four Packers players didn’t participate in practice this week, but only one of those four is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game at San Francisco.

That is wide receiver Davante Adams, who left last Monday night’s game early with an ankle injury. He’d initially suffered the injury in the previous game.

On Friday’s injury report, the Packers listed tackle Bryan Bulaga as out for the third straight game and defensive backs Demetri Goodson and Morgan Burnett as doubtful; both missed last week’s game. There’s some hope, though, that Adams can play.

Slight,” is how Packers coach Mike McCarthy described the chances Adams plays Sunday.

McCarthy said all the Packers except Bulaga will make the trip.

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Saints getting several defenders back too

Keenan Lewis, Cecil Shorts AP

The biggest headline for the Saints on Friday might be that coach Sean Payton said Drew Brees is expected to start at quarterback on Sunday against the Cowboys, but there are no shortage of positive developments on the health front for New Orleans.

Cornerback Keenan Lewis and safety Jairus Byrd are both probable to play for the first time in the 2015 season. Lewis had hip surgery before the start of the regular season, leaving the Saints without a starting corner. Byrd hasn’t played a game since Week Four of last season because of knee problems.

Byrd likely has some rust to knock off, but having both players in the lineup would increase the depth in the secondary at the very least. Linebacker Dannel Ellerbe is also probable to play for the first time since the trade that brought him to New Orleans in the offseason, so there’s a lot of reinforcements coming for a defense that’s allowed 397 yards a game at this point.

All’s not perfect for the Saints. Guard Jahri Evans has been ruled out with a knee injury for the second straight week.

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DeMarco Murray, Jason Peters questionable for Eagles

LeSean McCoy, Jason Peters, Tyrone Crawford AP

Eagles coach Chip Kelly said this week that he expected left tackle Jason Peters to play on Sunday, but the team left a little reason to pay attention to the release of the inactive lists when they turned in their final injury report of the week.

Peters is listed as questionable because of a quad injury. Peters was limited in practice on Wednesday and Thursday before being listed in Friday’s light practice. Missing Peters would be a major blow to the Eagles offense, which will also be replacing right guard Andrew Gardner after placing him on injured reserve this week.

Running back DeMarco Murray and linebacker Mychal Kendricks are also questionable. Both missed last week with hamstring injuries, but Murray has practiced in full the last two days and Kendricks was a full participant all three days.

Linebacker Kiko Alonso was also listed as a limited participant for the Eagles. Alonso reportedly had encouraging news after having his left knee scoped in Florida this week and is expected to return to the lineup in a few weeks if rehab goes well. He’s been ruled out this week along with defensive linemen Taylor Hart and Cedric Thornton.

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Washington-Philadelphia game to be played as scheduled

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Hurricane Joaquin has turned away from the East Coast of the United States.

So the Eagles are going to go ahead and travel to FedEx Field.

The NFL has confirmed there will be no change to Sunday’s Washington-Philadelphia game.

“Our primary concern as it relates to Hurricane Joaquin is the safety of the public, including our fans and clubs,” the league said in a statement. “Based on the storm’s current trajectory and the lifting by Governor Hogan of the state of emergency in eight Maryland counties, including Montgomery and Prince George’s County (where FedEx Field is located), we expect to play Sunday’s Philadelphia at Washington game as scheduled on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.

“The governor’s office has assured us that based on the current forecast playing the game would have no adverse effect on public safety. We will continue to monitor the storm, stay in contact with the governor’s office and other public authorities, and be prepared to adjust the schedule if necessary should the forecast change. “​

The league had considered a number of alternatives, including moving the game to Detroit’s Ford Field (making it the league’s de facto backup stadium).

But with the weather apparently staying at “crappy” and not moving all the way to “dangerous,” the decision was made to leave the game as originally scheduled. The conditions will make it an interesting one, if not necessarily creating the potential for artistic success.

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NFL confirms no fine for Mark Barron

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Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger didn’t think the hit he took from Rams safety Mark Barron on Sunday was dirty. The NFL agreed.

The league office has confirmed that Barron will not be fined for the hit on Roethlisberger.

The NFL adopted rules protecting quarterbacks from getting hit in the knee after injuries suffered by Carson Palmer and Tom Brady. But Palmer and Brady had already thrown their passes when they were hit and injured their knees. Roethlisberger still had the ball when Barron hit him.

Maybe next offseason the NFL will expand the rules once again, to provide further protection to quarterbacks’ knees. But right now, the league office is OK with Barron’s hit on Roethlisberger.

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NFL investigated possibility Roethlisberger was using cell phone

ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 01:  Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers uses his phone as he is up on the pdium during Super Bowl XLV Media Day ahead of Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 1, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. The Pittsburgh Steelers will play the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV on February 6, 2011 at Cowboys Stadium.  (Photo by Michael Heiman/Getty Images) Getty Images

Patriots fans aren’t the only ones who noticed Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger using what appeared to be a cell phone device during Thursday night’s game against the Ravens. The NFL noticed, too. And the NFL looked into the situation.

Via Tom Curran of CSN New England, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said league operations employees took a photo of the thing Roethlisberger was handling.

The team and the league separately have told PFT it was a wristband with the team’s offensive plays on it. While still images have raised suspicions of cell phone use, the several seconds of CBS video (starting with 2:58 left in the second quarter) show an item that is curved and appears to be laminated on top.

In fairness to those who suspect foul play, Roethlisberger seems to be looking around after shoving the thing back in his sweatshirt, almost as if to see whether anyone saw what he had been doing. However, it seems clear at this point that he wasn’t using a phone in violation of league rules during a game.

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Vikings rule out Charles Johnson, may not have Jarius Wright

Charles Johnson AP

The Vikings could take the field in Denver without two of their wide receivers on Sunday.

The team has ruled out starter Charles Johnson because of the rib injury that has kept him from practicing this week. Johnson played just a handful of snaps against the Chargers in last week’s 31-14 victory and had one catch, which leaves him with six on the season.

Johnson’s absence will likely mean that fifth-round pick Stefon Diggs is active for the first time in his rookie season. Diggs could see a fair amount of playing time if Jarius Wright also winds up on the inactive list. Wright is dealing with a hand injury and reports early in the week were that he’d miss a week or two while recovering, but he was able to practice on Friday and drew a questionable tag for Sunday’s game.

Mike Wallace will start at one receiver spot for the Vikings this weekend with Adam Thielen and Cordarrelle Patterson options to join him in prominent roles on offense.

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Steelers schedule kicker tryouts after Josh Scobee meltdown

Detroit Lions v Washington Redskins Getty Images

Steelers kicker Josh Scobee said he has to move on after missing two field goals in the fourth quarter of Thursday night’s loss, but he may also have to move out.

The Steelers are trying out kickers, and reports that former Washington kicker Kai Forbath will try out in Pittsburgh. Forbath is the only kicker who has been identified by name as a candidate for the Steelers job, but they’ll surely be considering others.

Forbath had been in Washington since 2012 but was cut after missing a field goal in Week One this year.

Whether it’s Forbath or someone else, the Steelers have to get better at kicker, a position that has been a huge need since Shaun Suisham was hurt in the preseason. In the last three years, Suisham was 30-for-30 on field goal attempts of 40 to 49 yards. So far this season, Scobee is 3-for-7 from 40 to 49 yards. The Steelers can’t afford to let that go on much longer.

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