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Ezekiel Elliott investigation still “active and ongoing”

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 1: Ezekiel Elliott #21 of the Dallas Cowboys carries the ball during pregame warmups before facing the Minnesota Vikings on December 1, 2016 at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Getty Images

In the never-ending NFL news cycle, stories bubble up before being pushed to a rear burner, forgotten until the next time the lid begins to softly rattle against the rim of the pot.

For Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, the simmering continues when it comes to his pending domestic violence investigation. The NFL tells PFT that the investigation is “active and ongoing.”

The league continues to explore five alleged incidents in six July days involving Elliott and a former girlfriend. As part of the probe, the NFL also has considered an alleged incident from February. That becomes ominous not because Elliott could separately be punished for it (because it happened before he was drafted by Dallas, he can’t be) but because it could be used as an aggravating factor in the determination of the punishment to be imposed for whatever happened in July.

Put simply, the February incident has no relevance if nothing is going to be done about the July incidents.

But there’s a possibility that the February incident could help the league resolve an apparent credibility contest regarding the things that did or didn’t occur in July. If the claims made about Elliott regarding February can be independently corroborated, the league may be more likely to conclude that the alleged victim is telling the truth about July, too.

With no jury and no beyond-a-reasonable-doubt standard of proof criminal charges were not filed against Elliott), the league essentially can do whatever it wants. And with the test being whether it’s more likely than not that the misconduct happened, the NFL can find a violation simply by coming to the conclusion that the alleged victim is telling something closer to the truth than Elliott is.

The NFL also can take as much time as it wants to resolve the case, and with only four weeks left in the regular season, it seems unlikely that anything will happen until the offseason, at the earliest. Whether other players on other teams would get the same consideration doesn’t matter; the Cowboys have proven to be the cure for the league’s ratings woes, so it makes little sense to rush to judgment regarding a running back who has emerged as one of the most important pieces of a possible championship team.

Right or wrong, it doesn’t matter. The league knows it gains nothing by moving too quickly, especially since the process already has lasted this long.

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PFT’s Week 14 picks

CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 13:  Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers emerges from the tunnel before their game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Bank of America Stadium on November 13, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Getty Images

Tie, apparently, is the operative word this week in the NFL. As in Cam Newton didn’t have one. And as in the PFT picks competition does.

With MDS prevailing 4-3 in a whopping seven disagreements, it’s all knotted up with four weeks left.

For the week, MDS generated an 11-4 record, and I was 10-5.

This week, the tie will be broken based on the outcome of the game involving the guy who didn’t wear a tie. For all takes and predictions, scroll baby scroll.

Raiders at Chiefs

MDS’s take: This is one of the best Thursday night games we’ve ever had, as the winner will have the inside track in the AFC West and perhaps even home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. I think the Raiders will just freeze, baby, on a cold night in Kansas City, and the Chiefs will win a defensive struggle.

MDS’s pick: Chiefs 17, Raiders 13.

Florio’s take: It’s tempting to look at Oakland’s record and assume that 10-2 will become 11-2, especially since the Raiders play so well away from home and have become an NFL darling with their best year by far since 2002. But the Chiefs have an opportunity to swipe the division, given their 26-10 win over the Raiders from October. It will be cold and it will be loud and the Chiefs have an opportunity to position themselves to make a Super Bowl run.

Florio’s pick: Chiefs 24, Raiders 21.

Steelers at Bills

MDS’s take: The Bills’ running attack gives them the chance to play a ball-control offense and beat the Steelers on the ground. But I see the Steelers getting a couple big plays from Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown and winning a close one.

MDS’s pick: Steelers 24, Bills 23.

Florio’s take: The Steelers are surging and the Bills are shell-shocked after last Sunday’s 24-9 lead quickly became a 38-24 loss. The only question now is who’ll stay and who’ll go after the Bills once again fail to make it to the playoffs.

Florio’s pick: Steelers 30, Bills 20.

Broncos at Titans

MDS’s take: The Titans’ surprisingly good offense against the Broncos’ unsurprisingly great defense will be a lot of fun to see. I think the Broncos’ offense will struggle and Marcus Mariota will do just enough with his arm and his legs to win a close game.

MDS’s pick: Titans 14, Broncos 13.

Florio’s take: If the Titans only could handle the teams in their division, they’d be a lock for the postseason. As it stands, they’ll need another signature win to even have a shot at the postseason. With an extra week to get ready and with the Broncos struggling (relative to 2015), give the home team the edge.

Florio’s pick: Titans 24, Broncos 17.

Washington at Eagles

MDS’s take: The Eagles are cratering down the stretch after showing a lot of promise early on. Washington needs a win here, and will get one.

MDS’s pick: Washington 27, Eagles 20.

Florio’s take: Seasons of promise for both teams have disintegrated, but Washington still has hope. And more talent. And a chance to still make it to the playoffs.

Florio’s pick: Washington 27, Eagles 23.

Cardinals at Dolphins

MDS’s take: A week ago I would have said the Dolphins were the much better team here, but the Cardinals turned in a good performance last week while the Dolphins turned in a miserable game. Still, I think the Dolphins have more to play for and should bounce back.

MDS’s pick: Dolphins 24, Cardinals 20.

Florio’s take: It may not be easy for the Dolphins to forget what happened in Baltimore. But the Cardinals just don’t have the horses this year, and the Dolphins continue to have an unlikely window of opportunity to get to the postseason.

Florio’s pick: Dolphins 27, Cardinals 23.

Chargers at Panthers

MDS’s take: The Panthers looked terrible on Sunday night and I’m tempted to declare that they’ve written off the season. But I have a feeling Ron Rivera will have his team focused for a much better game this week, and they’ll pull out a win at home.

MDS’s pick: Panthers 28, Chargers 21.

Florio’s take: Philip Rivers returns to North Carolina, the state where he played college football. (Hopefully, he’ll pick his bolo tie.) That reality coupled with pride and a desire to save Mike McCoy’s job could be the difference in this one, especially with the Panthers simply playing out the string in the hopes of a reset to 0-0.

Florio’s pick: Chargers 27, Panthers 20.

Bengals at Browns

MDS’s take: With each passing week it gets harder to justify picking the Browns to win. They appear to be holding a one-way ticket to 0-16.

MDS’s pick: Bengals 30, Browns 17.

Florio’s take: If the Browns don’t win this one, they may not win at all this season. The Bengals bounced back against the Eagles, and the Bengals realize the stakes involved: The last thing they want to do is to be the first team to lose to the Browns since the 49ers nearly one year ago to the day.

Florio’s pick: Bengals 26, Browns 17.

Bears at Lions

MDS’s take: This is one of those games where a Lions choke isn’t out of the question: It’s a game they should win, but the Lions aren’t a team with a great track record of winning the games they should win. And yet I have a feeling that they’ll manage to pull this game out, even if I also have a feeling it’s going to be closer than expected.

MDS’s pick: Lions 20, Bears 17.

Florio’s take: The biggest mystery about this game is how did the Bears beat the Lions when they met the first time?

Florio’s pick:  Lions 30, Bears 20.

Texans at Colts

MDS’s take: After falling behind the Texans early in the season, the Colts now look like the team that should win the AFC South. They’ll take a big step in that direction on Sunday.

MDS’s pick: Colts 31, Texans 21.

Florio’s take: The Texans historically don’t play well in Indianapolis. More recently, the Texans haven’t been playing well anywhere. In the quest to lose at home in the wild-card round or get blown out in the divisional round, the Colts have the edge. Hooray?

Florio’s pick: Colts 24, Texans 20.

Vikings at Jaguars

MDS’s take: The Vikings have struggled mightily after getting off to a hot start, but playing the Jaguars should cure what ails them.

MDS’s pick: Vikings 20, Jaguars 10.

Florio’s take: If the Vikings can’t beat the Jaguars, the Vikings have no business being in the playoffs. Then again, the Vikings arguably already have no business being in the playoffs.

Florio’s pick: Vikings 27, Jaguars 17.

Jets at 49ers

MDS’s take: This might be the ugliest game of the year. Both teams looked terrible last week, but the 49ers at least still seem to be trying to win, while the Jets are openly talking about planning for next year. That gives the 49ers the advantage this week.

MDS’s pick: 49ers 24, Jets 10.

Florio’s take: The only important question regarding this one is whether there will be more people on and around the field than there are in the stands.

Florio’s pick: 49ers 13, Jets 9.

Saints at Buccaneers

MDS’s take: The Saints were still in the NFC South race until they laid an egg against the Lions last week. The Buccaneers are now fighting for a playoff spot, and they’ll get a big win on Sunday.

MDS’s pick: Buccaneers 24, Saints 17.

Florio’s take: At a time when the Raiders are the best they’ve been since making it to the Super Bowl in 2002, the Buccaneers are the best they’ve been since they won the Super Bowl in 2002.

Florio’s pick: Buccaneers 31, Saints 27.

Falcons at Rams

MDS’s take: The Falcons’ defense isn’t very good, and it could cost them the division. But the Jared Goff-led Rams offense won’t be able to take advantage.

MDS’s pick: Falcons 24, Rams 14.

Florio’s take: “We don’t make excuses, [insert latest excuse].”

Florio’s pick: Falcons 28, Rams 17.

Seahawks at Packers

MDS’s take: This is the most intriguing game of the week to me. Is Aaron Rodgers all the way back and ready to attack a Seahawks secondary that’s missing Earl Thomas? Can the Packers’ defense slow down Thomas Rawls and a good Seahawks running game? I think this will be a higher-scoring game than most expect, with the Seahawks coming out on top.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 34, Packers 31.

Florio’s take: Green Bay’s last two wins were, in hindsight, not very impressive. The Eagles have slumped to 2-7, and the Packers didn’t exactly steamroll an overmatched Texans team. The Seahawks have the pass rush to overcome the absence of safety Earl Thomas, and the offense to take pressure away from the defense.

Florio’s pick: Seahawks 24, Packers 20.

Cowboys at Giants

MDS’s take: The injury to Jason Pierre-Paul will hit the Giants hard, and the Cowboys’ offense should have a big night as they march toward clinching home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

MDS’s pick: Cowboys 30, Giants 20.

Florio’s take: Yes, the Giants beat the Cowboys in Week One. But the Cowboys have gotten a lot better since then, and they realize the importance of not giving the Giants an opening to swipe the division.

Florio’s pick: Cowboys 20, Giants 17.

Ravens at Patriots

MDS’s take: The Patriots’ offense will slip without Rob Gronkowski, but I see New England’s defense doing a good job against Joe Flacco in a hard-fought and close game.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 20, Ravens 17.

Florio’s take: The Ravens give the Patriots fits in New England in the postseason. During the regular season, the Pats know how to take care of their rivals from Baltimore.

Florio’s pick: Patriots 24, Ravens 21.

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RG3 will start this Sunday

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 27:  Robert Griffin III #10 of the Cleveland Browns looks on during warmups prior to the game against the New York Giants at FirstEnergy Stadium on November 27, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Getty Images

Browns coach Hue Jackson said on Wednesday that he wanted to see how Robert Griffin III did in practice this week before making his decision about who will start at quarterback.

By the time Thursday rolled around, Jackson had seen enough to make the call. The Browns announced on Thursday morning that Griffin will be in the starting lineup against the Bengals this Sunday.

It will be Griffin’s second start of the season. He started the season opener for Cleveland, but has missed the last 11 games after breaking a bone in his left shoulder during that loss to the Eagles. He resumed practicing over the last few weeks and will now return to the lineup with hopes of leading the team to their first victory of the season.

He’ll also be trying to prove his worth as a starter after losing his job in Washington to Kirk Cousins in 2015 and landing in Cleveland as a free agent this offseason. He’s under contract with the Browns for next season, so a good close to the year could put him ahead in the battle for the job in 2017.

Griffin’s injury history and the play of the Browns’ offensive line are among the reasons why that’s a hard bet to make, but Griffin will get his chance to prove otherwise starting on Sunday.

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Dysfunction descends on Rams front office

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 16:  NFL GM Les Snead and NFL head coach Jeff Fisher attend The 2014 ESPYS at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on July 16, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images) Getty Images

“I don’t make excuses, but there’s a lot of dysfunction in the organization right now.”

That’s probably not an excuse that we’ll be hearing from Rams coach Jeff Fisher after his team’s next loss, in large part because one of his recent non-excuse excuses took the dysfunction to a new level.

Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com has harvested quotes from unnamed Rams sources that underscore the problems flowing from Fisher’s recent effort to attribute the franchise’s struggles to shortcomings in personnel.

“It pissed me off because I knew it was meant as a shot,” one unnamed Rams source told Breer. “You see it under that umbrella — ‘We need to do a better job in personnel.’ OK, but you want everyone to think that you have full control. You can’t have it both ways, and it can’t always be the talent. Look at the roster, 2012 to now. In ’12, Jeff did a masterful job with what he was given. But we’ve gotten more talent, and we’ve gotten worse.”

Said Fisher on Tuesday: “I look at this as being my responsibility, the win-loss record. We need to do a better job from a personnel standpoint. We’ve had some unfortunate things take place with some high picks in Stedman Bailey and Tre Mason and those kinds of things you don’t anticipate.”

Coupled with Fisher, who has a two-year contract extension, claiming he didn’t know that G.M. Les Snead also had received a contract extension, Fisher’s comments create the impression that Fisher isn’t really running the show, and that he’s at the mercy of those who actually have the power that Fisher doesn’t.

Said another Rams source to Breer: “It’s always good to have healthy tension between the coach and GM, but that shouldn’t hurt the team or cause finger-pointing. Over five years, [Tuesday] was the first time you saw public comments. That should never happen. . . . The organization has given them a long leash. And given that they’ve had time, they have to win, and they have to be able to work together.”

Many will think they have no choice but to work together because they each have two-year contracts beyond 2016. But given that the extensions were in place well before the season began (and in light of the belief that they cover only one year), the changed circumstances arising from a bad season and a worse situation within the organization could still prompt owner Stan Kroenke to press the reset button — especially if Kroenke is worried that he’ll be unable to sell an ideal amount of premium products for the new stadium in Inglewood if the team persists with a power structure that: (1) isn’t getting along; and (2) isn’t having nearly enough success.

The next question becomes whether and to what extent the anonymous quotes given to Breer will cause even more problems in the building, especially once Fisher begins connecting the dots in an effort to figure out who’s been blabbing. Chances are that the comments weren’t recklessly given to Breer after a couple of beers but that the leak was engineered to provoke a reaction from a guy who is absent-mindedly meandering toward a cliff.

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Brock Osweiler says he’s ready for a “must win” game vs. Colts

GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 04:  Brock Osweiler #17 of the Houston Texans drops back to pass during the first half of a game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on December 4, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) Getty Images

Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler knows just how important Sunday’s game against the Colts is, with the two teams at 6-6 and part of a three-way tie atop the AFC South.

“This game Sunday afternoon in Indianapolis, this is the biggest game of our season,” Osweiler said. “I’m viewing our season right now as a one-game season and it’s a one game that we must win. I think our entire football team understands that. There’s great urgency in this building right now and it reflected at today’s practice. No doubt about it, we understand as a team how important Sunday is and you can expect our best effort come Sunday.”

Osweiler stands by his claim that the Texans’ offense is close to exploding, although he acknowledges he has to get better.

“I always believe that I can play better,” he said. “I’m striving for perfection every single week and so there’s nobody that’s ever going to judge themselves harder than my own self.”

If Osweiler can’t help the Texans win on Sunday, plenty of people will be judging him harshly. The AFC South is ripe for the taking, and if the Texans don’t take it, it’s because Osweiler hasn’t performed up to expectations.

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Giants player’s home burglarized, vandalized with swastika, racial epithets

nikita-whitlock-new-york-giants Getty Images

The worst thing to happen to Giants fullback Nikita Whitlock wasn’t a season-ending foot injury or being hit with a 10-game PED suspension.

Whitlock’s New Jersey home was broken into Tuesday night, and the burglars left behind some frightening reminders — including a graffiti swastika, the letters KKK and the message “Go back to Africa.”

“It just re-establishes that no matter where you are, no matter who you are, this can happen to you,” Whitlock told WCBS. “It’s about to be 2017. Oppression, violence, racism, hatred, violence, there’s no need for that.”

Whitlock said some jewelry and video game systems were stolen, but the messages left behind were as frightening as the loss of security that comes with knowing someone has invaded your home. It’s the second time they’ve been broken into, and they were already planning to move before the first incident, which happened over Thanksgiving weekend.

Whitlock’s a fullback by trade, but the Giants have also used him as a special teamer and interior pass-rusher on defense, at least before his injury and suspension.

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LeGarrette Blount says turning 30 is no big deal

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 04:  Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots hands the ball off to LeGarrette Blount #29 during the game against the Los Angeles Rams at Gillette Stadium on December 4, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) Getty Images

Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount is on pace to finish this season with a career-high 1,267 yards, and he has already scored a career-high 13 touchdowns. Not bad for guy who just turned 30.

But while running backs typically decline at age 30, Blount doesn’t think there’s any reason to be concerned about his health or durability.

“Nothing’s changed. I turned 30. No big deal. It still feels the same. It’s not like I’ve aged 10 years. I’m not fragile yet,” Blount said, via the Boston Herald. “It’s not too much of a difference to me. Right now, I’m feeling really good.”

In past years Patriots coach Bill Belichick has liked to split the workload running the ball, but this year it’s all Blount: The Patriots’ No. 2 rusher this season, James White, is primarily a receiver and has just 31 carries for 129 yards. Blount is the bell cow for the Patriots, and turning 30 doesn’t change that.

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Richard Sherman expects Earl Thomas to return

SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 04: Cornerback Richard Sherman #25 of the Seattle Seahawks defends against the Carolina Panthers at CenturyLink Field on December 4, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images) Getty Images

Seahawks safety Earl Thomas, in the immediate aftermath of a season-ending broken leg, has been musing about retirement. At least one of his defensive teammates doesn’t buy it.

“I expect him to come back,” cornerback Richard Sherman told reporters on Wednesday.

Without Thomas, the defense will be different. Sherman explained the impact of the safety’s absence.

“Just his energy,” Sherman said. “He’s a constant energy, it’s always infectious, he plays hard every snap. Just a guy that always where you need him.”

The defense itself, however, won’t change without Thomas.

“[W]e’re running the same stuff we’ve been running,” Sherman said.

The Thomas-free defense will get an immediate test on Sunday, against the Packers in Green Bay. Led by a quarterback who knows how to make the most of the rules.

“They’ll do the double count thing and since people don’t know the rules about double count, jumping off sides and things like that and free plays,” Sherman said. “Aaron Rodgers makes a living off of free plays. He’s one of the most adept at it probably in league history. Drawing people offsides and getting deep penalties on people, pass interference. I think they got the longest pass interference of the season this year, like 70 yards or something like that. That’s one of those rules that needs to change and needed to change long time ago. Until they do, people will keep taking advantage of it.”

The challenge for the Seahawks without Thomas will be to not let the Packers take advantage of those two rules. The bigger challenge will be to find a way to cool off a Green Bay team that has won two games in a row and that knows it needs to keep winning.

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Tyrod Taylor shows frustration at Wednesday press conference

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 04:  Tyrod Taylor #5 of the Buffalo Bills rushes with the ball against the Oakland Raiders during their NFL game at Oakland Alameda Coliseum on December 4, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Getty Images

Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor is feeling the frustration of a season that is inching closer and closer to implosion.

Via Jay Skurski of the Buffalo News, Taylor abruptly ended his midweek press conference by declaring to no one in particular “I’m done talking” and walking away.

Taylor has drawn plenty of criticism in recent weeks, and a contract that requires the team to decide by early March whether to cut him or guarantee more than $30 million over the next two seasons hovers over the final four games of 2016.

“I’ve taken everything that y’all have stood up here and asked me right on the chest,” Taylor said at one point. “It doesn’t affect me emotionally or physically. I take it every week, so whatever y’all want to blame, I’ll take that. Like I said, my job is to get the team into a position where we can win on Sundays. Can I be better, yes. But it doesn’t just take me, it’s a collective effort out there on the field each and every Sunday.”

He’s right, but Taylor has been the focal point for the criticism. Despite his apparent irritation, he claims he doesn’t see or hear it.

“I don’t have Instagram on my phone,” Taylor said. “Twitter. Don’t watch TV, so don’t see it, don’t hear it. Continue to keep pounding away. We’re still in it, last time I checked.”

Yes, they’re still in it. But the window went from wide open to nearly closed after a 24-9 lead over the Raiders quickly became a 38-24 deficit. In that same game, Taylor plunged from completing eight of nine passes for 102 yards in the first quarter to completing 10 of 26 for 89 yards in quarters two, three, and four.

The real question is whether Taylor will have a third season in Buffalo. Whether he will hinges on whether the team keeps its current power structure in place — which may hinge on whether Taylor can get the Bills to the playoffs for the first time since 1999.

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Andre Johnson spends $20,000 to bring Christmas to kids

andrejohnson

Andre Johnson stopped drawing an NFL paycheck when he retired in October, but he’s not done using his money to do good.

Today at a toy store in Houston, Johnson did what he has done for the last nine years: He asked Houston Child Protective Services to bring together a group of children who have had a rough year and deserve a special Christmas, and he footed the bill for whatever toys they could grab while running through the store for 80 seconds. (Johnson wore No. 80 during his NFL career.) This year the bill for 12 kids came to $19,144.58, and after Johnson finished paying he posed with the receipts, which were as tall as he is.

Johnson said he sees a lot of himself in the kids who come to his annual toy drive.

“When you grow up in certain situations you kind of understand so, there were times when I was not able to get what I wanted for Christmas. So I know that a lot kids don’t get what they want for Christmas. This idea was brought to me and I just kind of took it and ran with it,” Johnson told ABC 13 in Houston.

After Johnson retired, there were discussions of whether he’s had a Hall of Fame career. There’s no doubt that he’s a Hall of Fame person.

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After walkthrough, Broncos estimate Siemian as limited participant

SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 13:  Trevor Siemian #13 of the Denver Broncos runs with the ball during the first half of a game against the San Diego Chargers  at Qualcomm Stadium on October 13, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Broncos only offered an estimated injury report Wednesday after holding a walkthrough, and on that report quarterback Trevor Siemian was listed as a limited participant had the team held a real practice.

Estimated, unofficial, insert your own asterisk here. Siemian missed last week’s game due to a sprained left foot, and the Broncos will be cautious this week as they try to get him ready to play Sunday at Tennessee.

In a radio interview on Tuesday, Siemian said he’s “making some progress” and “getting better every day.” He’s clearly been well coached in what to say, but he did offer that he’s out of the protective boot he wore on his foot last week.

Siemian didn’t practice at all last week. Broncos Coach Gary Kubiak said then that he believed Siemian could have played without practicing, and he said Wednesday that rookie Paxton Lynch, who started last week, again took reps with the No. 1 offense in the walkthrough. Kubiak said the team will try to get both Lynch and Siemian ready to play.

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NFL says refs have discretion to penalize players’ snow angels

Green Bay Packers' Randall Cobb does a snow angel after catching a touchdown pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Houston Texans Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer) AP

Sunday afternoon’s NFL action featured two snow games, and two players deciding to have a little fun by making snow angels. But only one player was flagged.

In Chicago, 49ers cornerback Rashard Robinson celebrated a big play by making a snow angel and was penalized. But in Green Bay, Packers receiver Randall Cobb also made a snow angel, and he didn’t draw a flag. What gives?

“I think our officials used some discretion there,” NFL Senior V.P. of Officiating Dean Blandino said on NFL Network. “We do give the officials some discretion there and we don’t want to take the emotion out, and the spontaneity of the game. When you get to the 49ers game . . . the officials thought it was excessive and they flagged it. . . . I understand the questions about why is one snow angel illegal and one legal. But, again, the officials do have some discretion.”

Blandino added that the 49ers’ snow angel celebration lasted “a little bit longer,” although there doesn’t seem to be any clear standard for how long a snow angel celebration can last before a penalty flag comes out. It would seem that the NFL’s officials should have more important things to worry about than how long a player’s snow angel lasts, but it’s not the officials’ fault that the league has told them to make celebration penalties a priority.

Perhaps some day the league will come up with a clearer standard, such as treating celebrations like delay of game: If a celebration delays the game, it’s a delay of game penalty. If not, it’s not a penalty at all.

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Odell on officials: Even Stevie Wonder could see calls they miss

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 24:  Stevie Wonder performs "Visions" during the opening ceremony of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture on September 24, 2016 in Washington, DC. The museum is opening thirteen years after Congress and President George W. Bush authorized its construction.  (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images) Getty Images

After Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham complained about the officiating in last Sunday’s loss to the Steelers, quarterback Eli Manning suggested he take a different tack with officials and “kill them with kindness” if he wants to get calls in the future.

Beckham appears to be taking a different approach. While he admitted that “no calls are going to be made because of what I say now,” Beckham couldn’t resist taking another shot at last Sunday’s crew.

“Like I said, everybody knows what’s going on, on the field. Everybody can see it. Even Stevie Wonder can see it,” Beckham said, via NJ.com. “It just, it is what it is. You can’t do anything about it. There’s no point. I don’t know why, I shouldn’t have even brought it up. It’s always a lose-lose situation, bringing something up. Either you’re speaking out on it, and now you’re trying to defend yourself, or the other way around, and you’re complaining. Either way it goes, I should have never brought it up. It’s really irrelevant.”

Relevant or not, it’s now three days after the loss to the Steelers and the Giants have another big game coming up against the Cowboys this weekend. It might be prudent for Beckham to not worry about a thing other than his play in that game since the Giants will be left without playoff options other than a Wild Card spot if they lose to Dallas.

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Broncos expect Justin Forsett to contribute this week

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 23: Justin Forsett #30 of the Detroit Lions looks for yards during a run against the Washington Redskins at Ford Field on October 23, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan Detroit won the game 20-17. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Broncos just claimed running back Justin Forsett off waivers on Tuesday, but they’re not wasting any time getting him involved in the offense.

Forsett practiced today and coach Gary Kubiak says he will play on Sunday against the Titans. Kubiak said he sees Forsett splitting carries with starting running back Devontae Booker. Kubiak said Forsett, who previously played for him in Baltimore, showed at his first practice that he still remembers the offense.

“Picking up guys who can come in, get in the huddle today, run plays and pick up blitzes and all that, that usually doesn’t happen. So that’s a good thing for us,” Kubiak said.

Forsett, who is now on his seventh NFL team, said he doesn’t think he’ll have any problem being ready right away because he has always approached his career that way.

“I’m here to play and contribute so when my number’s called I’ll be ready,” Forsett said. “You never know when your opportunity’s going to come but you can control how prepared you are when you get that opportunity.”

The Broncos think Forsett is already prepared and will make a difference for the remainder of the season.

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Luke Kuechly practicing on Wednesday

CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 30:  Luke Kuechly #59 of the Carolina Panthers takes the field before their game against the Arizona Cardinals at Bank of America Stadium on October 30, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Getty Images

The word on Tuesday was that Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly was scheduled for an evaluation on Wednesday to see if his recovery from a concussion had progressed far enough for him to return to the practice field.

It seems that the evaluation went well. Kuechly is in uniform with a helmet at Panthers practice for the first time since he sustained the head injury on November 17.

Kuechly likely still has other steps in the concussion protocol ahead of him before he’ll be given the green light for a full practice or a return to game action, but it will be a big step in that direction as long as Kuechly doesn’t have further symptoms after stepping up his activity level.

Kuechly’s concussion was his second in the last two seasons, but there was never a sign from the team that they were considering shutting him down for the rest of this season due to that history or their 4-8 season. That suggests he’ll play again this season as long as he gets fully cleared.

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