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Dak Prescott chosen as offensive rookie of the month

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 24:   Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys calls a play at the line of scrimmage during the fourth quarter against the Washington Redskins at AT&T Stadium on November 24, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Cowboys had the offensive rookie of the month in October when the league recognized running back Ezekiel Elliott’s efforts, but the team had another viable contender for the honors in quarterback Dak Prescott.

Prescott has now joined Elliott as a monthly award winner. The NFL announced on Thursday that Prescott has been named November’s top offensive rookie, which makes him the first Cowboys quarterback so honored.

The Cowboys ran their winning streak to 10 straight games over the course of the month and Prescott played well in all four of the team’s games. He threw for over 300 yards in a game for the first time in Week 10 in a 35-30 win over the Steelers and threw three touchdown passes in a game twice.

Prescott was 87-of-119 for 1,062 yards, nine touchdowns and no interceptions in the four games. He also ran for a touchdown in the team’s Thanksgiving win over the Redskins, giving him five on the year to go with his 18 touchdown passes.

It’s been a remarkable season for a fourth-round pick who was slated for the No. 3 job before injuries to Tony Romo and Kellen Moore thrust him into the starting lineup. The Cowboys’ 10-1 record and Prescott’s stat line speak to how well he’s handled a rapid ascension that could put him in the MVP conversation if December unfolds the same way as the first three months of the regular season.

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Chiefs kicker Cairo Santos wins AFC special teams monthly honors

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 28:  The Kansas City Chiefs celebrate after Cairo Santos #5 made the game-winning field goal in overtime against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on November 28, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Getty Images

If there was such a thing as a plaque or a trophy for being named player of the month, the NFL should have bounced Cairo Santos’s to him off of another object.

The Chiefs kicker earned AFC special teams player of the month honors, after doinking home an overtime game-winner off the left goalpost last week against the Broncos.

That 34-yarder was a dramatic moment for a lot of reasons, but it was just the latest in a string of clutch performances for the native of Brazil.

Santos was 11-of-11 on field goals in November, including a game-winner as time expired against the Panthers as well.

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Kirk Cousins named NFC offensive player of the month

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 24:   Kirk Cousins #8 of the Washington Redskins drops back to pass during the first half against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on November 24, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) Getty Images

Kirk Cousins is about a month or so away from being a free agent, unless he isn’t.

But either way, he has another NFC player of the month award to put on his resume.

The Washington quarterback earned the monthly honors after a sensational stretch of games for a guy who could profit handsomely from it.

In only three games during the month, Cousins was 84-of-116 passing for 1,086 yards with eight touchdowns and no interceptions. He had a passer rating of at least 110.0 in all three games.

Cousins has won the award before, winning it in December 2015 for a stretch of games that earned him the franchise tag and a guaranteed $19.9 million for one season. Now, he stands to make much more, one way or another.

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Khalil Mack is the AFC defensive player of the month

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 27:  Khalil Mack #52 of the Oakland Raiders scores after intercepting Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers in the second quarter of their NFL game on November 27, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Raiders came into November without having a player named the AFC defensive player of the month since 2005, but that streak has come to an end.

Defensive end Khalil Mack has been named November’s top defensive player in the conference after helping the Raiders go 3-0 and move to the top of the AFC West over the course of the month. Mack was also named the AFC’s defensive player of the week for Week 12.

Mack had four sacks, two forced fumbles, two passes defensed and an interception return for a touchdown in the three Raiders wins. He capped the month with that touchdown and a strip sack that he recovered to clinch last Sunday’s victory over the Panthers.

Oakland’s postseason drought extends much longer than their player of the month streak did and there’s little doubt that Mack will be a major reason why it comes to an end if the team can navigate their final five games as well as they’ve navigated the first 11 this year.

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Matt Prater named NFC special teams player of the month

DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 20: Kicker Matt Prater #5 of the Detroit Lions with his son Pax prior to an NFL game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Ford Field on November 20, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Lions went 3-0 in November, and kicker Matt Prater was a big part of the reason why.

After going 8-for-8 on field goals while the Lions won their three games, Prater has been named NFC special teams player of the month.

It was a month that saw Prater nail a 58-yard field goal as time expired in the fourth quarter to force overtime in Minnesota, nail a 43-yard field goal with 26 seconds left in a win over the Jaguars, and nail two field goals late in the fourth quarter of a win on Thanksgiving.

Over the course of the month, the Lions took over first place in the NFC North. Now they’ll hope Prater kicks a few more game-winners in December.

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NFL taking heat for featuring Tyreek Hill on Twitter page

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 27:  Wide receiver Tyreek Hill #10 of the Kansas City Chiefs returns a punt in the first quarter of the game against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on November 27, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Getty Images

When the Chiefs drafted all-purpose offensive threat Tyreek Hill in April, they took a lot of heat locally (and a decent amount nationally) given Hill’s history of domestic violence. Now that Hill has emerged as a star player, and the NFL is embracing him accordingly, the league is taking heat, too.

Hill appears on the header of the league’s official Twitter page, which as of this posting has 20.7 million followers.

The reaction has been strong on Twitter, and the controversy has made its way to the Daily Mail, which won’t help the league win more fans in England.

In 2015, Hill pleaded guilty to abuse by strangulation of his then-pregnant girlfriend. He was placed on probation, and he remains in that status through 2018.

“Those guys, those fans, they have every right to be mad at me because I did something wrong and I just let my emotions get the best of me and I shouldn’t have done it,” Hill said in May, after he was drafted. “They have every right to be mad. But guess what, I’m going to come back and be a better man, be a better citizen and everything will just take care of itself and let God do the rest.”

Although the NFL will discipline players who commit domestic violence after their professional careers begin, there is no barrier to employment for misconduct occurring before they enter the league. Ultimately, whether and to what extent a player is shunned depends on various factors, including the player’s talent level and the franchise’s willingness to tolerate the P.R. fallout associated with giving a second chance to a person whom many would say does not deserve the privilege of playing professional football.

Hill’s rapid rise to stardom, which helps justify the decision to draft him in round five, will serve only to highlight his history, setting the stage for social-media scrutiny and, in time, a Real Sports or E:60 in-depth look at the allegations made against him in 2014 — and his admitted violation of the law.

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Marcus Mariota named AFC offensive player of the month

CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 27:  Quarterback Marcus Mariota #8 of the Tennessee Titans warms up prior to the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on November 27, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Titans have a bye this weekend, which means that quarterback Marcus Mariota will have to wait until Week 14 to continue the string of play that made him the AFC offensive player of the month for November.

The NFL announced Mariota’s honor on Thursday morning, which makes him the third quarterback in franchise history to pick up the monthly award. Steve McNair and Warren Moon, who did it when they were still the Oilers, are the other two.

Mariota was 86-of-130 for 1,124 yards and 11 touchdowns as the Titans went 2-2 in November. He added 89 rushing yards and another touchdown while turning the ball over three times, although he’s riding a streak of three straight games without a turnover at the moment.

If Mariota can continue to produce at a high level, the Titans could find themselves playing for the division title when they host the Texans in Week 17. Matchups with the Broncos and at the Chiefs when they return from the bye will go a long way toward determining if that’s the case.

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Bills hoping Dez Lewis can eventually become a number two receiver

ORCHARD PARK, NY - JANUARY 03:   Dezmin Lewis #13 of the Buffalo Bills warms up before the game against the New York Jets at Ralph Wilson Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) Getty Images

Most coaches like players who respond to instructions of “Jump!” with something along the lines of “How high?”

So it’s a relief that when Bills coach Rex Ryan tells a guy to make way in the bathroom, that guy seems to be there with a square to spare.

Via Nick Veronica of the Buffalo News, Ryan had a simple instruction for wide receiver Dez Lewis, who was just promoted from the practice squad after being passed a few times.

He’s got to poop or get off the pot, so to speak,” Ryan said. “It’s going to be an opportunity for him. Don’t assume opportunities come around all the time, because they don’t. We’ll see. He’s got the size. We drafted him because we thought he had that kind of ability that he could play in this league, and now he has to prove it.”

The Bills have been squatting on Lewis for nearly two full seasons, stashing the 2015 seventh-round pick on the practice squad since final cuts last year. And he sounds like a guy who is ready to make a splash.

“It’s time to go,” Lewis said. ” They look forward for me to go out and contribute to the team, that’s the main thing.

“Stuff like that [Ryan’s remark], I understand it. Some other people may take it as a negative comment, but I don’t. It’s my time to step up, my time to go out and make plays so that’s what I’m going to go out and do.”

It’s good to hear the young man ready to take advantage of the opportunity now that it’s presented to him, lest it slip through the cracks.

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Stephon Gilmore: Michael Crabtree pushes off, I’ll tell the ref

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 27:  Michael Crabtree #15 of the Oakland Raiders makes a catch against the Carolina Panthers during their NFL game on November 27, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Getty Images

As Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore prepares to cover Raiders receiver Michael Crabtree on Sunday, he’s preparing to lobby the officials as well.

Gilmore said on SiriusXM NFL Radio that Crabtree regularly commits offensive pass interference and doesn’t get called for it. Gilmore wants to make sure the officials are looking for it.

“Michael Crabtree, he’s a big receiver, he likes to push off a lot,” Gilmore said. “I’ll talk to the ref because I see it on film. I’ll get physical back with him and if he pushes off I just have to fight through it. Sometimes they don’t call it, sometimes they do call it but most of the time they don’t call it.”

Working the officials is part of the game, and it’s no surprise that Gilmore will be asking the officials to keep a close eye on the guy he’s covering. We’ll see on Sunday whether Crabtree can get away with pushing off, and whether Gilmore can stop him anyway.

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Todd Bowles: Muhammad Wilkerson “trying to get in a groove”

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 02:  Muhammad Wilkerson #96 of the New York Jets celebrates his sack of quarterback  Ryan Lindley of the Arizona Cardinals on December 2, 2012 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The New York Jets defeated the Arizona Cardinals 7-6.(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

Cornerback Darrelle Revis‘ difficulties this season have been well chronicled, but he isn’t the only member of the team’s defense who has failed to play at the same level as previous seasons.

There’s also defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson, who signed a long-term deal with the team in July after being tagged as the team’s franchise player early in the offseason. Wilkerson has missed one game with an ankle injury, been benched for part of another for missing team activities and recorded 2.5 sacks after putting up 12 last season.

On Wednesday, Jets coach Todd Bowles discussed Wilkerson’s play this season and intimated that the broken leg he suffered in the final week of the 2015 season has impacted his performance this year.

“I guess he fought so hard to get back. He was nicked up a little early on. He’s trying to get in a groove,” Bowles said, via the New York Post. “Balls aren’t coming his way. Some balls are coming out quicker. They’re paying more attention to him. A lot of things. He’s playing, he’s commanding the attention. Other guys have to start making plays.”

Bowles said that expects to see a better Wilkerson the rest of the way. It’s too late for that to keep this Jets season from being a disappointment, but anything that raises hope for a higher level of play in the future will be a positive development for the Jets as they look toward turning things around in 2017.

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Chargers tight end “blessed” to be OK after hit-and-run

SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 01:  Asante Cleveland #45 of the San Diego Chargers makes a catch for a first down in front of Tank Carradine #95 of the San Francisco 49ers during a preseason game at Qualcomm Stadium on September 1, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) Getty Images

Chargers tight end Asante Cleveland was back on the practice field Wednesday, cleared from the concussion protocol and back doing what he loves. And he’s grateful he only missed 10 days.

Cleveland was injured when he was involved in a hit-and-run incident, a black SUV hitting him as he crossed the street in downtown San Diego. The collision sent the 260-pounder flying through the air, leaving him scratched and bruised and lucky to be in as good a shape as he is.

I’m extremely blessed to be able to sit here and complain about what happened,” Cleveland said, via Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune.

He was walking to dinner during his bye week, when the SUV turned left into the crosswalk he was using and hit him.

“I see a car coming and naturally think they’re going to adhere to basic traffic laws,” Cleveland said. “I was already past the halfway point, and [the vehicle] still came careening toward me. Luckily, I jumped into the car because football has taught me that if something’s coming at your knees, make sure your feet aren’t in the ground because that’ll be a knee injury.

“So I jumped into the car, I blanked out for a little bit, was in the air spinning, and the next thing I know, I was on the ground, watching the car speed away, making a right on G Street. It didn’t hit the brakes. No courtesy honk. Nada. Just kept on going. Must have been late for something.”

The incident hit home for the Chargers, since one of their interns was also injured by a hit-and-run driver, and spent 18 days in a coma. So Cleveland’s glad to be able to talk about his incident now, but learned on a day off that any play could be his last.

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Mike Wallace on Dolphins: My life is a lot better because of them

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - DECEMBER 29: Mike Wallace #11 is unable to catch the ball thrown by Ryan Tannehill #17 (not pictured) of the Miami Dolphins during second quarter action against the New York Jets on December 29, 2013 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images) Getty Images

Ryan Tannehill is still the quarterback and a handful of other players remain in place, but the decision makers on the sideline and the front office have changed completely since wide receiver Mike Wallace last played for the Dolphins in 2014.

That might not be the case had the team’s decision to sign Wallace before the 2013 season worked out in their favor. Wallace signed a five-year, $60 million deal with the team as a free agent and he caught 140 passes and 15 touchdowns over two rocky seasons that ended with Wallace in a dispute with then-coach Joe Philbin about whether he was benched in the final game of the 2014 season.

Wallace was traded to the Vikings last year and both sides came out of the two-year Miami stay looking worse for the wear. Wallace didn’t do much in Minnesota, but has rebounded with the Ravens this year and gets a chance to play the Dolphins for the first time since leaving in Baltimore this Sunday. He says he enters the game with no hard feelings for the Dolphins.

“I have no regrets,” Wallace said, via the Miami Herald. “They gave me a lot of money in two years. I have no grudge, no nothing against those guys. It’s all love on my end. My life is a lot better because of those guys.”

Things have worked out for Wallace and they have finally been working out for the Dolphins this year as well. A win in Baltimore would make it seven in a row and put them a step closer to the playoffs, which represents a major step away from the direction the team was headed in when Wallace was last in town.

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Malik Jackson: Going to Jaguars brought me back to Earth

ORCHARD PARK, NY - NOVEMBER 27:  Malik Jackson #90 of the Jacksonville Jaguars mocks combing his hair to celebrate a tackle on Tyrod Taylor #5 of the Buffalo Bills during the second half on November 27, 2016 at New Era Field in Orchard Park, New York. Buffalo defeats Jacksonville 28-21.  (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Broncos will be in Jacksonville on Sunday for a matchup with the Jaguars that will also serve as a reunion with defensive tackle Malik Jackson.

Jackson was a starter on last year’s Super Bowl champs in Denver and scored the first touchdown of the Super Bowl when he recovered a fumble forced by linebacker Von Miller in the first quarter of the game. Jackson parleyed his success in Denver into a bigger contract with the Jaguars than the Broncos were willing to offer.

The benefits of the six-year, $85.5 million contract are obvious, but Jackson has had to learn to deal with a major step down in the league’s pecking order after the move to Jacksonville.

“It’s definitely tough, especially coming from Denver, being spoiled with the playoffs every year and a first-round bye,” Jackson said, via the Denver Post. “It’s kind of sobering because you realize every team isn’t winning 12 games a year. It brought me back down to Earth.”

The Jaguars have only won 14 games since Gus Bradley became head coach in 2013, so that certainly qualifies as a significant change 0f circumstances. Going to the playoffs isn’t an option for Jacksonville as a result, which leaves Jackson hoping to play spoiler for his former team now and hope that things finally turn the corner with the Jags in the future.

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Mark Davis still not listening to Oakland stadium plan

LAS VEGAS, NV - APRIL 28:  Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis speaks during a Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee meeting at UNLV on April 28, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Davis told the committee he is willing to spend USD 500 million as part of a deal to move the team to Las Vegas if a proposed USD 1.3 billion, 65,000-seat domed stadium is built by casino magnate Sheldon Adelson's Las Vegas Sands Corp. and real estate agency Majestic Realty, possibly on a vacant 42-acre lot a few blocks east of the Las Vegas Strip recently purchased by UNLV.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) Getty Images

As the folks in Oakland cobble together a stadium plan that continues to be regarded by some in league circles more as political cover than a practical solution, Raiders owner Mark Davis has shown no inclination to listen.

As explained by Matt Youmans of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, which is owned by the same Sheldon Adelson who is hip deep in the effort to build a stadium for the Raiders in Nevada, Davis has not altered his initial reaction to the last-second Oakland effort. Given details that suggest the possibility of Davis selling a slice of the team to the people who would be paying for the new Oakland stadium, Davis will be even more determined to not listen.

Adelson’s newspaper also reports that the Raiders are “likely” to receive the votes necessary to green light a silver and black relocation, for which Davis plans to file permission in January.

Before that happens, owners who will be meeting in Dallas on December 14 will likely hear the results of a league-initiated study of the Oakland market, the expected goal of which will be to persuade enough owners that the Raiders should stay put.

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Report: Darrelle Revis “doesn’t want to play anymore”

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 13:  Darrelle Revis #24 of the New York Jets leaves the field after warm ups before the game against the Los Angeles Rams at MetLife Stadium on November 13, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis may be ready to go to a different kind of island — the kind where one retires.

According to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, a confidant of Revis said the veteran cornerback’s decline this year was tied to a lack of desire, and that his days with the Jets may be drawing nigh.

He’s done,” the confidant said. “If he had his way, he’d be done right now. He doesn’t want to play anymore. He’s made a lot of money.”

Of course, without knowing the confidant or his motivations, it’s hard to know if that’s a career plan or a statement borne out of frustration, with a season that hasn’t gone as planned for anyone.

He sounded less than committed to the future earlier this week when he said: “We’ll see how it goes.” That’s a far cry from this summer, when the 31-year-old cornerback said he was “going to play until the wheels fall off.”

Perhaps they have, as his play has declined all season.

But the Jets still have to make an expensive decision this offseason, as they could save $9 million of cap space by cutting him, unless he wants to take a pay cut. He’s never shown any indication that’s anything he’d consider, but if his motivation is lacking, it’s also reasonable to wonder if the Jets want him to.

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