Big Mike Mitchell fine wasn’t for hit on Alex Smith

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On Thursday, there was a report that Steelers safety Mike Mitchell was appealing a $48,620 fine for hitting Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith late and low during last Sunday’s game.

Mitchell was fined that amount, but it wasn’t for hitting Smith. PFT has confirmed with the league that Mitchell received a $9,115 fine for the hit on Smith.

The $48,620 fine was for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Chiefs running back Charcandrick West while West was trying to catch a pass. The hit, which was not penalized, left West with a concussion that caused him to miss Thursday night’s loss to the Raiders.

That fine is the amount laid out on the NFL’s fine schedule for a second offense for a hit on a defenseless player. Should Mitchell continue to rack up hits judged to violate player safety rules, he’ll run the risk of a suspension.

Anthony Barr not fined for hit that injured Aaron Rodgers

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In the debate about Anthony Barr‘s hit that injured Aaron Rodgers, the league office has ruled: It was legal.

The NFL did not fine Barr, the Vikings pass rusher who may have ended the Packers quarterback’s season on Sunday by driving him to the ground after a pass. Barr was also not flagged on the play, so there’s little doubt that it was legal — although perhaps it shouldn’t be.

Barr and the Vikings insisted the hit was clean, while some Packers have said they thought it was dirty. In the eyes of the league office, it was clean.

The NFL did fine Barr $9,115 for head butting Davante Adams. That incident did draw a 15-yard penalty.

Anthony Barr: “I don’t play dirty”

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Much has been written and said this week about the hit that led to the fracture of the clavicle of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Linebacker Anthony Barr, now cleared from his concussion and able to talk to reporters, defended his actions on Friday when talking to reporters.

“I don’t play dirty,” Barr said, via Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “We don’t preach that around here. It’s unfortunate, the injury. I hate to see anybody get hurt.”

So why are people calling it a dirty hit?

“I think it’s a dirty play in some people’s eyes because of the injury. I think if he gets up we’re not having this conversation,” Barr said.

Barr is right. The hit was neither illegal, nor dirty. Rodgers had exited the pocket, and he chose to try to make a throw on the run with Barr closing in. Rodgers could have thrown it away the instant he saw Barr accelerate toward him. Rodgers could have hit the gas and run out of bounds. He could have slid or simply taken a dive.

Instead, he waited for tight end Martellus Bennett to break open a bit more before floating the ball in his direction, knowing full well that Barr was closing in, and that Rodgers was going to absorb a hit.

Rodgers may have underestimated the force of the hit. He surely assumed he wouldn’t hit the ground in a way that would break his collarbone. Regardless, there was nothing about the Barr hit that suggested driving him into the ground, hitting him unnecessarily late, or otherwise giving him the business.

If the NFL decides to change the rules to make roughing the passer the same as roughing the kicker, then it would be a different issue. Until there’s a rule that says quarterbacks out of the pocket can’t be touched if the ball is away, there will be nothing dirty about the hit that Barr applied to Rodgers.

Still, Barr understands the criticism — because if it had happened to a Vikings quarterback, Barr would be doing the criticizing.

“I think if it happened to my quarterback I probably would say it was illegal and the same thing just because you’re trying to defend your guy and you don’t want to see your player get injured,” Barr said, adding that he respects the opinion of Packers coach Mike McCarthy that the hit crossed the line.

The hit didn’t cross the line. It’s unfortunate that Rodgers was injured, but he took a calculated risk to willingly absorb a hit after throwing the ball, in order to give his intended receiver a little more time to not only catch the ball but also to run with it.

Luke Kuechly out, Kelvin Benjamin expected to play


The Panthers will be going without linebacker Luke Kuechly this weekend.

Kuechly suffered a concussion in last Thursday’s loss to the Eagles and he has not been able to gain clearance from the concussion protocol over the last week. As a result, the team has ruled him out for their game against the Bears in Chicago on Sunday.

David Mayo will step into the lineup for Kuechly, who also dealt with concussions the last two seasons.

Wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin has been listed as questionable after missing practice the first two days of the week with a knee injury. That listing suggests Benjamin’s status is up in the air, but coach Ron Rivera said, via Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer, that Benjamin is expected to play.

The Panthers also listed center Ryan Kalil and safety Kurt Coleman as questionable. Kalil has missed five games with a neck injury and Coleman has missed the last two with a knee problem.

Jameis Winston will start on Sunday

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Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston‘s shoulder injury won’t cause him to miss any games.

Winston, who suffered the injury in last week’s loss to the Cardinals, will start on Sunday against the Bills. Bucs coach Dirk Koetter confirmed today that Winston is good to go.

After getting some rest in practice early in the week, Winston did more throwing today and apparently came out of the session feeling good enough that the Bucs are confident he can go.

Through five games this year Winston has a career-high passer rating of 91.0. After he left Sunday’s game, backup Ryan Fitzpatrick acquitted himself nicely, coming into the game with the Bucs trailing 24-0 and nearly leading a historic comeback. The Bucs ultimately fell short and lost 38-33.

NFL is “not looking to make a deal” with Ezekiel Elliott

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A report emerged earlier this week suggesting that the NFL and Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott are talking about settling the litigation that arose from his six-game suspension. On Friday, the league made it clear that there’s nothing to any such talk.

During a Friday media briefing, NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart said of the Elliott case, “We’re not looking to make a deal. We’re very confident our arguments will prevail in court later this month.”

Elliott currently has a temporary restraining order that will last until October 30 at the latest, and the presiding judge is expected to conduct a hearing on whether the TRO will become a preliminary injunction, which would block the suspension until the litigation ends.

It’s highly unlikely that the NFL would settle the case. Given the P.R.-driven nature of the personal conduct policy (especially as it relates to players not arrested or charged), the league would much rather hold firm on a six-game suspension and lose in court than be perceived as yielding in any way in its position that Elliott did what he’s accused of doing.

Jameis Winston steps up throwing at Friday’s practice


Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston started the practice week by going through an entire session without throwing any passes, but took a step forward on Thursday.

It wasn’t the biggest step, however, as Winston’s throwing was very limited. That left several practice observers opining that Winston looked like an unlikely bet to play against the Bills this weekend, but things look better on Friday.

Reporters at Bucs practice say that Winston has been much more active on Friday that he was on Thursday and that he looked comfortable throwing the ball despite the sprained AC joint suffered in last Sunday’s loss to the Cardinals.

Winston showed just how comfortable when he whizzed a pass, a video of the throw was captured by Trevor Sikkema of Pewter Report, in the direction of the media members with phones out to record his practice work. That work appears to be reason to believe Winston will play, although the release of the injury report later on Friday will let us know just how likely it is that Winston will

NFL reviewing Marshawn Lynch ejection, but no discipline for sitting in stands

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Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch is looking at NFL discipline for running onto the field and shoving an official on Thursday night. But he won’t face league discipline for his actions afterward.

Lynch was spotted sitting in the stands later in the game, a bizarre action for a player who’s been ejected. NFL rules require ejected players to leave the field and sideline area, but NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart confirmed today that there’s no league rule against an ejected player moving to the stands after he’s left the field.

Lockhart said that if there’s to be any discipline for that, it would be a “club matter,” meaning the Raiders could discipline Lynch but the league wouldn’t. The Raiders signed Lynch knowing he marches to the beat of his own drummer and they haven’t been inclined to try to rein him in, so it seems unlikely that he’ll face any club discipline.

The league has also confirmed that Lynch’s shove of an official is being reviewed for potential discipline. The typical fine for contact with an official is $30,000 and the typical fine for leaving the bench to enter into a fight is $6,000.

No practice for Leonard Fournette, again

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After Sunday’s loss to the Rams, Jaguars running back  Leonard Fournette insisted that he’s fine, despite a lower leg injury that looked potentially significant.

Five days later, Fournette hasn’t been fine enough to practice.

Via Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union, Fournette will be listed as not practicing on Friday, due to what turned out to be an ankle injury. At some point, the team will apply a label regarding his potential availability for Sunday’s game at Indianapolis: questionable, doubtful, or out.

Fournette has 596 yards rushing through six career regular-season games.

Giants rule out Olivier Vernon, list Sterling Shepard as questionable

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The Giants may get a wide receiver back in the lineup against the Seahawks on Sunday, but they’ll remain without one of their starting defensive ends.

Defensive end Olivier Vernon has been ruled out for the third straight week because of an ankle injury. There was some optimism about Vernon returning to open the week because he was able to practice on Wednesday, but Vernon was back on the sideline Thursday and will remain there for Sunday’s game.

Kerry Wynn and Avery Moss have been seeing time in his place with Jason Pierre-Paul on the other side of the line.

Wide receiver Sterling Shepard‘s ankle improved enough for him to practice all week on a limited basis and he’ll be listed as questionable for the Seattle game. Shepard did not play against the Broncos last Sunday and the Giants were limited to a pair of catches by their wideouts.

Center Weston Richburg will miss his third straight game with a concussion and running back Paul Perkins is out for the third week in a row with injured ribs. Linebackers Jonathan Casillas and Calvin Munson round out the group of players ruled out on Friday.

Kyle Rudolph says Vikings can win with any of their three quarterbacks

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No team in the NFL has more uncertainty at the quarterback position than the Vikings, who are starting Case Keenum now but could go back to either Sam Bradford or Teddy Bridgewater when their respective knee injuries are fully healed. But Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph says that uncertainty is not a problem.

Rudolph said on PFT Live that he and the Vikings’ other receivers have confidence in all three of their quarterbacks.

“These are all guys that can help us win football games,” Rudolph said. “Unfortunately in this business you deal with injuries. We seem to deal with more than everyone else in the last couple years but it happens. I think all these guys have handled it extremely well and have been ready for their opportunities.”

It’s unclear what the Vikings’ quarterback depth chart will look like when and if all three quarterbacks are healthy and ready to play, but Rudolph says that won’t matter to the rest of the team.

“I think the biggest thing is just for us as pass catchers, keeping a consistent routine and a consistent work habit throughout the course of the week,” Rudolph said. “We can’t worry about eight weeks from now, we can’t worry about next week, all we can focus on is taking each and every game and making sure we maximize those reps in practice.”

With the Vikings in first place in the NFC North, they have every reason to feel confident they can get to the playoffs, despite having no idea who their starting quarterback will be if they get there.

Donald Penn: Marshawn was trying to protect cousin Marcus Peters


When Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch sprinted off the sideline to join a scuffle that started after Raiders offensive linemen Donald Penn and Kelechi Osemele took offense to Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters hit Derek Carr late, the immediate thought was that Lynch was also upset about the hit.

Lynch wound up being ejected for grabbing an official during the scuffle, but his intent may not have been to get at Peters. Lynch and Peters are both from Oakland and Lynch was a mentor to Peters, including letting Peters live with him while Peters was at the University of Washington and Lynch was playing for the Seahawks. After the game, Penn said that relationship was what led Lynch to storm the field.

“I saw Marshawn come out there; that’s his cousin,” Penn said, via “Chris Long did that thing to his brother a couple years ago. Marshawn wasn’t doing anything. He was just trying to protect his cousin, get his cousin to the sideline. They’re real close, they’re more like brothers than cousins, they’re real close. He’s going to learn. Marshawn’s smart, he’s going to learn from that moving forward.”

Peters seemed to agree about Lynch’s intent, saying, via the San Jose Mercury News, that “family comes first” after the game and all appeared to be quite well between the two players when they met up on a BART train after the game.

Lynch didn’t share any of his thoughts after the game and history says he’s unlikely to do it at any point in the future either.

Andy Reid bites his tongue about officiating in Chiefs loss

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Some questionable calls went against the Chiefs in their 31-30 loss to the Raiders last night, but Kansas City coach Andy Reid didn’t want to talk about it afterward.

A long touchdown catch by Amari Cooper was initially flagged for offensive pass interference, but the officials decided to pick up the flag without explaining why. Asked about the play after the game, Reid declined to comment.

I’m not going to comment on that –– I mean, they’re trying to do their best job,” Reid said. “Whether I agree with it or not, it doesn’t really matter. The call stood and that’s what it was.”

A strip sack of Derek Carr by the Chiefs’ defense was also waved off by a questionable illegal contact penalty, and the Raiders’ final drive was extended by multiple Chiefs penalties.

“Had a few penalties down the stretch there that got us,” Reid said. “It’s a shame it came down to that, right? Let the guys play there. Let them settle it right there on the field.”

On balance, the officials appeared to help the Raiders on Thursday night. But Reid apparently doesn’t think saying so will do any good.

Marshawn didn’t leave the stadium following his ejection

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Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch made an early exit from Thursday night’s game against the Chiefs. He did not make an early exit from the stadium.

Contrary to multiple reports that Lynch made like a tree and got out of the Oakland Coliseum after he ran in from the sidelines to defend quarterback Derek Carr, shoved an official, and immediately realized he was shoving an official and tried to un-shove the office, Lynch stayed in the building. USA Today has an article on the matter, and the Twitter account for the Barstool Sports Laces Out podcast has photographic evidence of Lynch watching the game from the stands.

Lynch also reportedly was in the locker room after the game.

He had only two carries for nine yards on the evening, giving him 266 through seven games and putting him on pace for 608 for the year. Still, the fact that he didn’t change his clothes and leave the building in a huff will go a long way toward quieting the hot-take short-order cooks who would be calling for the Raiders to cut Lynch for leaving.

Derek Carr to Michael Crabtree touchdown gives Raiders walk-off win over Chiefs

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In perhaps the wildest game of the year so far, Derek Carr led the Oakland Raiders on an 85-yard scoring drive in the final 2:25 to steal away a 31-30 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night.

Carr completed a 2-yard touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree with no time remaining to tie the game and Giorgio Tavecchio‘s extra point just slipped inside the right upright to give the Raiders the one-point win.

If only the way the game got to that point was quite that simple.

Denico Autry came up with the first sack of the night for Oakland with 2:38 remaining, allowing the Raiders to get the ball back for a final possession trailing 30-24. Carr then connected with Amari Cooper for 15 and 39 yards to move into Chiefs’ territory. A 13-yard completion to tight end Jared Cook move the Raiders to the 29-yard line. Carr then hit Cook again for 28 yards down to the 1-yard line after he was ruled down by contact just outside the goal line.

That left the Raiders with eight seconds left to play with for their game-winning touchdown. Carr completed a fade to Crabtree only to have an offensive pass interference call negate the touchdown and move the Raiders back to the 11-yard line. With three seconds left, Carr’s pass for Cook went through his hands incomplete only to have a defensive holding call on Ron Parker give the Raiders another chance on an un-timed down. The same thing happened on the next play as Eric Murray was called for defensive holding on Cordarrelle Patterson to give Oakland a second un-timed down.

Carr then rolled to his left and found Crabtree in the front corner of the end zone to tie the game at 30-30. Tavecchio, who had missed a pair of field goals from 53 and 45 yards previously on the night, converted the extra point to give the Raiders the walk-off victory.

Cooper finally broke out for his best game of the season. After catching just 18 passes for 146 yards through the first six weeks of the season, Cooper caught 11 passes for 210 yards and two touchdowns for the Raiders on Thursday night. Carr posted the second 400-yard passing game of his career, throwing for 417 yards and three touchdowns on the night.

Alex Smith and the Chiefs were nearly as effective offensively. Smith completed 25 of 36 passes for 342 yards with three touchdowns on the night. Tyreek Hill, Albert Wilson and Travis Kelce all found the end zone for Kansas City. Hill had six catches for 125 yards on the night for the Chiefs.

Cooper’s two first half touchdowns helped the Raiders build a 14-10 lead at the end of the first quarter. Oakland pinned the Chiefs on their own 1-yard line only to watch Kansas City score in three plays as Smith hit Hill for a 64-yard touchdown to re-take the lead.

DeAndre Washington scored on a 4-yard run to give the Raiders a 21-20 advantage early in the third quarter. The Chiefs would respond with a 63-yard touchdown to Wilson that deflected off the hands of a Raiders defender. A 37-yard Harrison Butker field goal gave the Chiefs a 30-21 lead in the closing seconds of the third quarter.

Tavecchio converted a 26-yard field goal to close the deficit to 30-24 with 11:53 remaining before the wild ending to the night.