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A.J. Green unlikely to play this week

A.J. Green AP

Any lingering hopes that wide receiver A.J. Green would return to the Bengals lineup this Sunday are on life support at this point.

Green missed practice again on Friday, making it a clean sweep of the three workouts this week, and the team has listed him as doubtful. While coach Marvin Lewis wouldn’t rule Green out and said that players have played without practicing in the past, he also said that the team wanted to be sure that Green could hold up once he does dress for a game.

“We’re trying to get over the hump and find the solution other than totally shutting him down for the rest of the season. [A solution] that gets him as much of the season we can get him,” Green said, via the team’s website. “I don’t want him to be frustrated by it. I want him to feel good about it. When he tells me he’s ready to go. Guys deal all the time with different circumstances. In his mind, when he’s 100 percent ready to deal with that.”

One imagines that the ability to get through an entire practice would be a prerequisite to convincing the team that he’s fit enough to play all 60 minutes in a game, although it’s certainly understandable that the Bengals are hopeful of finding a way to get Green back in the lineup after going three weeks without a victory.

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Jay Gruden: Call on RG3 playing will be made on Monday

Tennessee Titans v Washington Redskins Getty Images

Earlier this week, Redskins coach Jay Gruden pointed to Week 11 as a likely date for quarterback Robert Griffin III to make his return from a dislocated ankle when he said that the team would have “a couple weeks to make sure it’s ready” thanks to the team’s bye in Week 10.

It’s not time to rule Griffin out of Monday night’s game against the Cowboys, though. Gruden said Friday that a decision about Griffin, who took some first-team reps on Friday, playing on Monday night would not be made until Monday.

For his part, Griffin said, via Mike Jones of the Washington Post, that they weren’t going to rush the ankle but followed Gruden’s lead by adding that there wasn’t a decision about what that meant for Monday night.

The two thoughts that come to mind are that Gruden would like to keep Dallas guessing about who will be the team’s quarterback or that Griffin is showing Gruden more as the week progresses than the coach thought he was capable of doing. When Colt McCoy is the other choice, the first option is likely to be of limited value but it still seems the likelier choice given all the other signals coming from Washington’s camp.

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Reggie Wayne out Sunday at Pittsburgh

Reggie Wayne AP

Colts receiver Reggie Wayne will miss his first game of the season on Sunday.

Wayne, who has an elbow injury, has been declared out for Sunday’s game at Pittsburgh.

After his 2013 season was cut short by a torn ACL, Wayne has bounced back nicely this year and is second on the team with 38 catches and 434 yards. He will be missed against the Steelers.

The Colts may also be without running back Trent Richardson, who is listed as questionable.

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Ryan Mallett: I’ll be ready to start if I’m called on

mallett AP

Texans backup quarterback Ryan Mallett isn’t exactly campaigning to unseat starter Ryan Fitzpatrick. But he says he’ll be ready if that’s what happens.

After coach Bill O’Brien said this week that Mallett is putting in work in practice and getting better, Mallett said he’ll be ready to go if O’Brien hands him the ball.

“If it happens, it happens,” Mallett said, via the Houston Chronicle. “I’ll be ready. I’ll be prepared. I prepare like I’m the starter. I have since I’ve been in the NFL. I’ve just got to continue to do that and be ready when my number’s called.”

Mallett has never started an NFL game and has barely played, getting just a bit of mop-up duty during his three seasons as Tom Brady’s backup in New England. But O’Brien, who coached in New England during Mallett’s rookie year, has praised his work in the film room, and seems to agree with Mallett’s self-assessment that he’ll be ready. There’s a very good chance that at some point soon, O’Brien will call on Mallett and we’ll all see just how ready he is.

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Reggie Bush doubtful, Calvin Johnson questionable

cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpwm3nmuzm2mwm2uyzdllmjnknwi5mmy3ymjintu4nmyz AP

Running back Reggie Bush missed practice for the second straight day on Friday, but said, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, that he will play against the Falcons at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.

The team isn’t quite as confident. Bush has been listed as doubtful on the team’s final injury report of the week because of his ankle injury, leaving him unlikely to play when the two teams kick off Sunday’s action with a game for the American audience to watch while they eat their breakfast.

There’s more hope for wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who has missed the last two games with a high ankle sprain. He was a limited participant in practice all week and his ability to go each day is a good sign for how the ankle might hold up in a return to action this weekend. Right tackle LaAdrian Waddle is also questionable after suffering a concussion last week, but his chances of playing look better after he got in a full practice on Friday.

Tight ends Joseph Fauria and Eric Ebron were both ruled out and Brandon Pettigrew is doubtful, which should mean a lot of work for Kellen Davis and Jordan Thompson when the team needs a tight end this weekend.

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Paul Allen gives $100 million to fight Ebola

Allen AP

With Ebola finally arriving in New York City and a lingering sense of uncertainty as to whether Americans should not worry about the disease at all or retreat to an underground bunker for the next five years, Seahawks owner Paul Allen has decided to try to stem the tide of a disease that, while still very new to our country, continues to ravage West Africa.

Via the New York Times, Allen has donated $100 million to the fight against Ebola.

“Everybody feels called sometimes to really pursue a certain thing that resonates with them, and this has resonated with me,” Allen said.  “The exponential nature of the growth of this disease is really a challenge — we’ve already seen in the U.S. where one case quickly became two.”

Allen also has created the TackleEbola.com website, where donations much smaller than $100 million can be made for small, specific projects.

Regardless of whether Ebola ever becomes a serious public health situation in America (and as best I can tell while monitoring the Internet from my underground bunker is that it won’t), it is a serious public health situation in various other countries that lack sophisticated medical facilities and/or a basic public understanding of what the disease is and how it spreads.  So we applaud Allen for his generosity (after all, $100 million is still $100 million, no matter how much money a guy has), and we encourage everyone to make a donation to one of the various projects being funded by TackleEbola.com.

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Kickalicious visits the Lions in London

Havard Rugland AP

Kickalicious is back with the Lions. But only for a visit, to the chagrin of some Lions fans.

Havard Rugland, the Norwegian kicker whose trick kick video made him an Internet celebrity and got him a spot on Detroit’s preseason roster last year, stopped by the team’s practice today in London, according to Josh Katzenstein of the Detroit News.

The Lions have shown no interest in signing Rugland, even though their kicking situation has been appalling this year. Detroit is already on its third kicker of the season, and although the current kicker, Matt Prater, is the best of the three, that’s not saying much: Prater is 2-for-4 this season, and one of the two he made was a 21-yarder that came courtesy of a fortunate bounce off the upright. Rugland went 3-for-3 in the preseason last year, with a long of 50 yards.

Rugland visited with Prater, punter Sam Martin and special teams coach John Bonamego. It appears that it was just a visit, and there’s no chance of Rugland taking Prater’s job. Although perhaps if Prater misses a couple of kicks on Sunday against the Falcons, Bonamego will consider bringing Rugland back to Detroit with him.

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Peyton about a year away from Favre’s yardage record

favrepeyton Getty Images

After breaking Brett Favre’s record for career passing touchdowns last week, Peyton Manning is about a year away from breaking Favre’s record for career passing yards.

Through Thursday night’s win over the Chargers, Manning has 67,098 career passing yards. That puts him 4,740 behind Favre’s all-time NFL record of 71,838.

Manning has averaged 315 yards a game as a Bronco, so if he keeps up that pace, he’ll break Favre’s record in 16 more games. Expect more celebrations of Manning’s greatness at this time next year.

Manning is also 594 completions away from Favre’s career record, meaning Manning will likely break that record in 2016. At least one of Favre’s records is safe, however: Favre has the all-time record for career interceptions, with 336. Manning, who has 222 interceptions in his career, is the active leader. If Manning keeps throwing interceptions at his Denver pace of about 10 for every 16 games, he’d need to play about 12 more years to top Favre’s interception record. That one seems safe.

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Peyton Manning does not approve of your scoreboard shenanigans

Peyton Manning AP

Philip Rivers laughed and played along with the joke.

Peyton Manning, however, seemed serious about the scoreboard shenanigans in Denver last night.

During the fourth quarter of the Broncos win, the stadium video board operator flashed shots of Rivers and Manning, causing the crowd to alternate between boos and hosannas. According to Mike Klis of the Denver Post, this went on for a bit before someone in the organization told them to knock it off.

“I really don’t know how to respond to that,” Rivers said. “Other than if you had told me when I was 10 years old they would show me in front of 75,000 and get booed, and Peyton Manning in the same clip and get cheered, I’d say that’s pretty awesome.”

Manning did not share those feelings.

“I’ve got to have a talk with our scoreboard operator,” Manning said. “He’s playing music and showing players dancing and getting the crowd fired up when we have the ball. I don’t think he should be doing that.

“And I don’t think he should be showing their quarterback on the sideline. I thought that was kind of disrespectful. Our fans are great, our fans are loud, but our scoreboard operator, it wasn’t his best night.”

So get it straight, Mr. Scoreboard Operator. You’re going to have to tighten up your game. Or show more Buick and Papa John’s ads as punishment.

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Manning, Sanders lead Broncos to 35-21 victory over Chargers

Sanders Getty Images

Peyton Manning tossed three touchdown passes to Emmanuel Sanders, Juwan Thompson rushed for two scores and the Denver Broncos cruised to a 35-21 victory over the San Diego Chargers on Thursday night.

Ronnie Hillman also rushed for 109 yards for Denver as the Broncos offense looked in fine form against the Chargers.

Manning connected with Sanders for touchdowns of 2, 3, and 31 yards as the Broncos took a 21-7 lead early in the third quarter. Thompson’s first score of the night extended the score to 28-7 with 7:34 left to play in the third quarter.

Sanders finished with nine catches on the night for 120 yards and three touchdowns while Demaryius Thomas also eclipsed the 100-yard mark with eight grabs for 105 yards for Denver.

The Broncos completely shut down the rushing offense of the Chargers Thursday night and forced Philip Rivers to do everything for San Diego offensively. Branden Oliver carried 13 times for just 36 yards on the night with Ronnie Brown carrying once for 8 yards. Rivers was the Chargers leading rusher due to one 17-yard scramble until Oliver broke a 23-yard run on the game’s final play.

Rivers 4-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Gates to cap a 12-play, 80-yard drive gave the Chargers some life. However, the Broncos answered right back with another touchdown drive to extend the lead to 35-14.

Rivers and Gates hooked up again on a 10-yard touchdown to again cut the deficit to 14 points with 9:31 left to play. A missed 53-yard field goal by Brandon McManus gave the Chargers a change to further cut down Denver’s lead, but Rivers was intercepted by Rahim Moore to all but seal the win for Denver.

San Diego had some questionable officiating decisions go against them that significantly hurt their chances. A fumble by kick returner Andre Caldwell was overturned upon replay review despite video showing the ball being ripped out of Caldwell’s hands by San Diego before his elbow hit the ground. In addition, the Broncos scored a fourth quarter touchdown one play after an interception by Eric Weddle in the end zone was negated by a defensive holding penalty on Marcus Gilchrist.

But Denver was clearly the better team on Thursday night and appears to clearly be the best team in the AFC right now.

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Manning to Sanders for third TD of night extends Broncos lead

San Diego Chargers v Denver Broncos Getty Images

Peyton Manning connected with Emmanuel Sanders on a 3-yard touchdown pass to extend the Denver Broncos lead to 21-7 over the San Diego Chargers in the third quarter.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

It was the third touchdown of the night between Manning and Sanders. The two players hooked up for a 2-yard touchdown and a 31-yard touchdown in the second quarter to give the Broncos a 14-7 lead at halftime.

Manning led Denver on a six-play, 51-yard scoring drive with the touchdown to Sanders extending the Broncos lead.

Sanders has six catches for 92 yards and three scores on the night for Denver. Manning is 18 of 25 for 221 yards.

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Broncos dodge bullet, with help from officials

McAulay Getty Images

After the Chargers knotted Thursday night’s game at seven, Broncos kick returner Andre Caldwell appeared to fumble the ensuing kickoff at the Denver 26.  The ruling on the field was indeed a fumble, with a recovery by Chargers tight end Ladarius Green.

All turnovers are subject to replay review.  After referee Terry McAulay went under the hood, with real-time assistance from V.P. of officiating Dean Blandino, McAulay reverse the ruling on the field:  “After review, the runner’s elbow was down and in complete control over the football.”

But that’s not what the video showed.  The ball was being ripped out before the elbow hit.

The ruling on the field becomes even more important in this situation.  Because the officials determined a fumble had happened, McAulay needed to see indisputable visual evidence that it hadn’t.  If anything, the clear, indisputable visual evidence showed that it had.

In other words, the evidence was strong enough to overturn a ruling on the field that Caldwell hadn’t fumbled.  Instead, the evidence erroneously was determined to be indisputable that the ball wasn’t coming out.

UPDATE 10:07 p.m. ET:  NFL V.P. of officiating Dean Blandino has defended the decision on Twitter.  “On the fumble that was reversed the forearm was down before ball came loose,” Blandino said. “Forearm down before elbow.”  The movement of the ball before the forearm is down would seem to prevent a finding of indisputable visual evidence that the ruling of a fumble was incorrect.  Former NFL referee Mike Carey has repeatedly said during the CBS broadcast that, in his view, the outcome of the replay review was incorrect.

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Chargers even things up on Allen’s first touchdown catch of the year

Allen Getty Images

If Chargers receiver Keenan Allen ever becomes a free agent, he should sign with the Broncos.  Because in his third career game in Denver, Allen has now scored his fifth touchdown.

No. 5 in Denver also was Allen’s first of the season, coming at the tail end of a 13-play, 84-yard drive.

Allen already has seven catches for 47 yards.  Quarterback Philip Rivers has completed 15 of 17 passes, for 118 yards.

The game is tied at seven, with 3:07 left in the first half.

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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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