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Report: Sammy Watkins won’t play on Sunday

ORCHARD PARK, NY - SEPTEMBER 15:  Marquise Goodwin #88 of the Buffalo Bills and  Sammy Watkins #14 of the Buffalo Bills during the first half against the New York Jets at New Era Field on September 15, 2016 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) Getty Images

On Friday, coach Rex Ryan said it didn’t look good. On Saturday, the player declared that he is “[r]eady to go out there and compete at the highest level.”

Sammy Watkins has since deleted his tweet.

The deletion means what it implies; Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that Watkins won’t be active, due to a lingering foot problem. He didn’t practice this week because of the injury, which apparently was exaggerated when someone stepped on the foot during a recent walk-through.

Marquise Goodwin, who got behind Darrelle Revis in Week Two for an 84-yard touchdown pass, gets the start. Robert Woods becomes the de facto No. 1 receiver.

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18 games still not a consideration for NFLPA

FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 7:    Jermaine Cunningham #96 and  Chandler Jones #95 of the New England Patriots rough up  Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos after he released a pass during the second half at Gillette Stadium on October 7, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) Getty Images

There’s a belief in league circles that the NFL: (1) still wants to expand the regular season to 18 games; (2) knows it can’t ask the players to expand the regular season to 18 games because of the safety considerations involved; and (3) hopes to entice the players to offer an expansion to 18 games in order to secure other concessions, like neutral arbitrations and a bigger piece of the financial pie.

If that’s the plan, the NFL Players Association doesn’t seem to be inclined to take the bait.

“I just can’t imagine a world where you add two more regular season games at the end of a brutal season that we have,” NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said on Friday’s PFT Live. “Certainly there’s been no proposal from the owners about increasing roster sizes or doing anything else to make sure that players’ health and safety is first and foremost. I mean look we are still in the middle of or the beginning of an investigation about how doctors handled the concussion protocol for the first game of the season and it seems to me that if you can’t successfully pull off a Hall of Fame game and you have what appears to be enough evidence to convince both parties to conduct an investigation of the concussion protocol, [it’s] probably not the right time to think about adding two regular season games.”

While hardly a kicking open of the door, Smith didn’t slam the door shut and barricade it with furniture. And that’s a smart play. If the NFL is willing to make major concessions and increase roster sizes and take other steps aimed at making the game safer for all players, maybe 18 games can happen. Smith’s point is that plenty of other issues need to be addressed before a two-game expansion of the regular season would be even a possibility.

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Patriots in limbo at quarterback position

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 22:  Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots reacts on the sideline during the first half against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium on September 22, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) Getty Images

Jimmy Garoppolo has a shoulder injury. Jacoby Brissett has a thumb injury. Tom Brady has one game remaining on his suspension.

So what will the Patriots do at quarterback in Week Four against the Bills?

For now, they’re not saying — as if they ever say anything. T.J. Yates had a workout last week and Sean Renfree visited; one of them could be added, either to serve as the backup next Sunday, or possibly to start.

Few other options exist, if neither Garoppolo nor Brissett can play. Unless they intend to give Julian Edelman a crash course in a position he hasn’t played since college at Kent State, they’ll need to add someone else, if there’s any doubt that either of the two quarterbacks currently on the roster will be ready in eight days.

Whatever they do, coach Bill Belichick will have a plan, and chances are it will work.

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Signs not pointing to Sammy Watkins playing

ORCHARD PARK, NY - SEPTEMBER 15:   Sammy Watkins #14 of the Buffalo Bills gets upended by  Calvin Pryor #25 of the New York Jets  during the second half at New Era Field on September 15, 2016 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) Getty Images

He’s listed as questionable, which currently means he’s at worst a 50-50 proposition to play. However, coach Rex Ryan made it sound like receiver Sammy Watkins is more doubtful than questionable.

Probably not real good,” Ryan said Friday regarding the likelihood Watkins will play, via Nick Veronica of the Buffalo News. “But we’ll see. If he feels good and he’s up to it, we’ll put him in there.”

Complicating matters is that someone stepped on Watkins’ injured foot during a walk-through this week. He had surgery on the foot during the offseason.

Watkins has six catches for 63 yards and no touchdowns in two games this season.

UPDATE 8:38 p.m. ET: And within 15 minutes of this item being posted, Watkins tweeted that he is “[r]eady to go out there and compete at the highest level.”

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Clay Matthews ruled out as Packers downgrade four

LANDOVER, MD - JANUARY 10: Inside linebacker Clay Matthews #52 of the Green Bay Packers in action against the Washington Redskins at FedExField on January 10, 2016 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Packers’ defense is ailing heading into Sunday’s game against the Lions.

Green Bay announced today that linebacker Clay Matthews and safety Morgan Burnett have both been ruled out, after previously being listed as doubtful.

The Packers also downgraded two players who were previously listed as questionable — defensive tackle Letroy Guion and linebacker Datone Jones — to doubtful. Players listed as doubtful hardly ever play.

Packers cornerback Sam Shields was already ruled out with a concussion, so Green Bay’s defense is seriously depleted.

Of course, the Lions won’t have any sympathy, as three of their key defensive players are out as well in defensive end Ziggy Ansah and linebackers DeAndre Levy and Antwione Williams.
For the

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Kubiak on Siemian: “He’s made some poor decisions”

Denver Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian (13) thaws as Los Angeles Rams defensive end Eugene Sims (97) pursues during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/Joe Mahoney) AP

Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian has three interceptions in his first two starts, and coach Gary Kubiak says those passes showed that Siemian has a long way to go in his decision-making.

Kubiak noted that Siemian still sometimes makes throws as if he thinks the opposing defenders have college speed. NFL defenders can intercept a pass that would have been out of a college defender’s range, and Siemian needs to learn that.

“He’s made some poor decisions,” Kubiak said, via ESPN. “I know that sounds kind of crazy, but it’s just learning that, ‘Trevor, That guy can make that play. You’re not in college anymore. You’re not going to throw that ball through that guy.’ I think some of the speed of the game factors that he’s beginning to understand a little bit is going to make him better each week.”

Kubiak is blunt, but he’s got a point: The Broncos are 2-0, but Siemian needs to make better decisions if they’re going to keep winning.

If Siemian doesn’t make better decisions, Kubiak may turn to rookie first-round draft pick Paxton Lynch. Kubiak showed last year that he wasn’t afraid to make changes at quarterback, from Peyton Manning to Brock Osweiler and back again. The Broncos also showed last year that to win with their defense, they don’t need great quarterback play, just adequate quarterback play. Siemian will have to cut down the mistakes if he wants Kubiak to view him as adequate enough to keep the job.

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Joe Horn: Roger Goodell is the Vladimir Putin of the NFL

joehorn AP

Former NFL player Joe Horn has never hidden his animosity toward NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, and now Horn is drawing an interesting parallel between Goodell and an infamous authoritarian leader.

“Roger Goodell is like the Vladimir f–kin Putin of the NFL,” Horn told SI.com. “You quote me on that shit. Roger Goodell is the Vladimir Putin of the NFL when it comes to players. Putin punks every country when he gets ready to. And there’s no rules when it comes to Putin, and Goodell is the same f–kin way when it comes to players. He sets all the standards.”

Asked whether Goodell would kill Horn — as Putin has reportedly had critics killed — Horn admitted that Goodell might not be quite that bad. But he’s pretty bad, in Horn’s view.

“If they read that quote, they would know that he’s not having people killed and none of the players killed,” Horn said. “But as far as dictatorship, as far as making moves to do what he wants, that’s what Putin does.”

Horn’s tenure in the NFL only overlapped briefly with Goodell’s. Paul Tagliabue was the commissioner for most of Horn’s playing career, including his famous cell phone celebration, which resulted in a $30,000 fine from the NFL. But Horn has become a harsh critic of the league under Goodell’s leadership, and Horn is one of the many former players who has sued the NFL over brain injuries.

Horn is far from the first former player to criticize Goodell, but the Putin comparison is a new one.

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Done deal: Lady Gaga will perform at Super Bowl halftime

SANTA CLARA, CA - FEBRUARY 07:  Lady Gaga sings the National Anthem at Super Bowl 50 at Levi's Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images) Getty Images

The talks have ended, because a deal is done. And if I remembered the names of any of her songs or some of their lyrics, I’d be tempted to start dropping in some stupid puns.

Lady Gaga will perform at halftime of Super Bowl LI in Houston, according to Terry Lefton of SportsBusiness Daily.

The announcement will come on Sunday during FOX’s NFL programming, probably during the pregame show.

It’s unknown whether other performers will be involved in the show. The biggest unknown is whether the unpaid gig has indeed morphed into a revenue source for the league, based on a report from the Wall Street Journal in 2014 that the idea had been floated of, for example, the artist surrendering a portion of increased ticket sales arising from the nine-figure audience the Super Bowl will be delivering.

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Usain Bolt says he’s had offers but would never consider the NFL

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 22:  Olympic athlete Usain Bolt visits The PUMA Lab powered by Foot Locker in NYC at Foot Locker, 34th Street on September 22, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for PUMA) Getty Images

The fastest human being who ever lived has heard that NFL teams would give him a chance if he wanted to play football. But he doesn’t.

Usain Bolt said on the Dan Patrick Show that he has watched some football and has been offered the opportunity to play, but he wouldn’t want to get hit.

“I used to watch it when I was younger,” he said. “The hits guys would take kind of turned me off. I never thought about going but I’ve gotten offered and people have asked.”

It’s unclear whether Bolt ever heard directly from an NFL team or if he just heard generally that there would be interest if he wanted to play. It wouldn’t be surprising if some team sent feelers to Bolt, just as NFL teams have at times reached out to professional rugby players and shot putters and other athletes who have NFL athleticism. Jahvid Best was a very fast running back by NFL standards, but Bolt easily beat him in an Olympic preliminary heat, showing how much faster he is than even the fastest NFL players. If the 6-foot-5 Bolt had been born in the United States instead of Jamaica, he might have become the greatest wide receiver in NFL history.

But Bolt is wise to turn down any offers. The greatest sprinter ever doesn’t need to risk his health trying a new sport as a lark.

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Todd Gurley feels like he’s facing 12 defenders

SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 12:  Todd Gurley #30 of the Los Angeles Rams rushes against the San Francisco 49ers during their NFL game at Levi's Stadium on September 12, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Getty Images

Todd Gurley is off to a disappointing start this season, and he sometimes feels like he doesn’t have a chance.

As opposing defenses load up to stop Gurley on the theory that the Rams’ passing game won’t be able to beat them, Gurley says it’s like the entire defense is on him — and then some.

“It’s been crazy,” Gurley said, via the Los Angeles Times. “I’m like, ‘There’s 12 people on the field!’ It’s definitely a lot of people.”

Gurley said he’s hoping to make opposing defenses pay for stacking the line of scrimmage, thinking if he can get past the line there will be no one to stop him.

“Sometimes that’s a good thing because if you get past that first level, then you’re gone,” he said. “But you have to get past that first level first.”

Unfortunately, Gurley hasn’t been able to do that: His longest run this season is 11 yards, and overall he has 36 carries for 98 yards, an average of 2.7 yards a carry. Until Case Keenum and the Rams’ passing game can take advantage of the way opposing defenses are selling out to stop Gurley, it’s going to be hard for him to find room to run.

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Stephen Jones: Tony Romo is coming along, but we won’t push it

LANDOVER, MD - SEPTEMBER 18: Quarterback Tony Romo #9 of the Dallas Cowboys looks on from the sideline against the Washington Redskins in the first quarter at FedExField on September 18, 2016 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) Getty Images

Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo has made significant progress from the fractured vertebra he suffered in the preseason, but the team remains unsure when he’ll be back on the field.

That’s the word from Cowboys Executive V.P. Stephen Jones, who said Romo has come along nicely.

“He’s throwing the ball around now, so he’ll just keep doing more unless there is something that concerns us,” Jones said, via the Dallas Morning News. “Right now everything is looking great. He’s feeling good and certainly feels good about the progress he’s making.”

Early November has been mentioned as the time Romo can expect to return, although Jones said it will always come down to what the doctors say.

“Every injury is different,” Jones said. “Everybody wants to say, ‘Well, we rushed him back last time and he got hurt.’ I think unfortunately it was a tough lick there that happened to hit him just right again. At the same time, unless he’s ready and the doctors feel like he’s ready to go, we won’t push it.”

The good news for the Cowboys is that rookie quarterback Dak Prescott has shown enough promise early in the season to make them think they can stay in playoff contention without Romo this year — something that didn’t happen last year, when the team fell apart with Romo out. Prescott’s presence makes it easier for the Cowboys to stay patient.

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De Smith: Players are realizing their power

NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 03:  NFLPA President DeMaurice Smith stands on the field during Super Bowl XLVII between the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on February 3, 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

Not long after 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began to not stand for the national anthem, a basic, fundamental question emerged: Are NFL players realizing that they have power?

Four weeks after Kaepernick’s gesture was first noticed, they apparently are. Apart from social issues for which players are using their platform, the not-too-distant future could entail players flexing their muscles with the confines of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith hinted at such efforts during Friday’s PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio and NBCSN.

“You and I both know that in the history of the labor movement when it came to issues like work to rule where workers decided that they were going to engage in protest by following the rules to the letter of the law, I think that’s something that also was a perhaps unintended consequence of this but something that has certainly lit the fuse and made players aware of what their power is,” Smith said.

By “work to rule,” Smith means that players would do the absolute bare minimum under the labor deal. Which means, among other things, they would boycott all non-mandatory activities, including the vast majority of the offseason program.

“Do you believe that there will be players who say, ‘You know what? We don’t have to be here, we’re not required to be here, and if you want us to be here let’s go back to the bargaining table and you give us some concessions and we’ll agree to make them mandatory’?” I asked, regarding offseason workouts and OTAs.

“Well, I certainly think that the league, and you know when it comes to issues of Commissioner discipline or the way in which the league office is being perceived sometimes as players, I think players see the flip side of that as happening to them,” Smith said. “I think you can tick off a number of issues that have popped up over the years where players and certainly I believe that the league has gone out of its way to unfairly treat players. Do I think that a number of players, you know, looking at what’s happened over the last few months, are saying to themselves, ‘Well, wait a minute. If you want to pursue this in a way that’s unfair to us, are we gonna avail ourselves of every bit of power to protest we have?’ And I think absolutely, I wouldn’t be surprised if players start looking at what they’re obligated to do and what they’re not obligated to do and when it comes to things like offseason workouts are we hearing players out there saying exactly that? Yes.”

Let that one sink in for a bit. Regardless of whether players ultimately will launch a strike that isn’t really a strike, they’re discussing it.

“I’m not in the business of predicting what’s gonna happen but I do think that the decision of a group of young men over the last few weeks to thoughtfully address the issues that are important to them in their community by protesting has certainly made a number of players look inward at their own system and try and to make a decision about whether and how they can continue that,” Smith said.

In other words, Superman is realizing he can fly. It will be interesting to see whether he chooses to, and where he decides to go.

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Mike Daniels fined for hit on Sam Bradford

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 18:  Quarterback Sam Bradford #8 of the Minnesota Vikings passes as defensive end Mike Daniels #76 of the Green Bay Packers rushes during the game on September 18, 2016 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) Getty Images

Packers defensive lineman Mike Daniels has been hit in the paycheck for a hit on Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford.

The NFL has fined Daniels $18,231 for roughing the passer. That’s the standard fine for that infraction.

That penalty aside, Daniels had an excellent game against the Vikings, routinely beating the linemen in front of him and blowing through the line to hit Bradford or Adrian Peterson.

If Daniels can keep playing that way, the Packers can tolerate the occasional roughing the passer penalty.

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Report: Jacoby Brissett tore a thumb ligament, may need surgery

New England Patriots quarterback Jacoby Brissett runs onto the field to warm up before an NFL football game against the Houston Texans Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) AP

The Patriots had wide receiver Julian Edelman as their backup quarterback last night. He might have to start next week.

According to Mike Petraglia of WEEI.com, Patriots quarterback Jacoby Brissett suffered a torn thumb ligament in the second half of last night’s win over the Texans, and may need surgery to stabilize the injury.

That’s a huge blow for the Patriots, one game before Tom Brady’s return from suspension. Jimmy Garoppolo was inactive last night because of his shoulder injury.

The Patriots brought T.J. Yates and Sean Renfree in last week to look at potential depth signings, and they may need to add one to get them through their final Brady-less game.

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Arian Foster ruled out for Sunday

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 11:  Running back Arian Foster #29 of the Miami Dolphins rushes against the Seattle Seahawks in the first quarter at CenturyLink Field on September 11, 2016 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) Getty Images

Dolphins running back Arian Foster won’t play Sunday against the Browns.

Miami coach Adam Gase said today that Foster, who has been dealing with a groin injury, won’t be able to go this week.

Foster is the Dolphins’ No. 1 running back, but he hasn’t done much so far this season, managing just 47 yards on 16 carries through two games. Jay Ajayi and Kenyan Drake will likely get more carries with Foster out.

The good news for the Dolphins is that they’re facing the Browns, who are dealing with far more injuries than the Dolphins are. Miami is in the rare position of being both an 0-2 team and a 10-point favorite.

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