Bears-Falcons game is on, after more testing and contact tracing

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The first players to land on the COVID-19/reserve list during the regular season won’t derail an NFL game.

NFL Media reports that Sunday’s NFL game between the Bears and Falcons will proceed as scheduled.

After contact tracing and further testing, all Falcons players and personnel have been cleared for the game, with no positives being generated from the testing that was conducted on Saturday (and hopefully no false negatives).

The Falcons still won’t have first-round cornerback A.J. Terrell available for Sunday’s game, making them the first team to not have a player available because of the virus.

This glitch underscores the fact that the NFL otherwise has handled the situation extremely well, with the biggest problem arising from the tug-o-war between the league office and coaches for not wearing face coverings on the sideline, and the investigation regarding whether the Raiders allowed someone into the locker room on Monday night who wasn’t supposed to be there.

It’s the Week Three best bets

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As the third Sunday of the 2020 regular season approaches, you’re preparing your routine. Among other things, your routine includes (in jurisdictions where it’s permitted, or elsewhere) getting your betting choices in line.

Before making any final decisions, consider the picks that Simms and I consider our best bets for the day.

While we’re not saying to make bets based solely on our input, here’s the reality: Through two weeks this year, I’m 5-0-1 in best bets, and Simms is 3-2-1.

We overlap on one of the three games chosen today, and we differ on the other two. For all three, check out the video.

I know, I know. Why don’t we just put them here? Since they’re free, can you fault us for trying to generate a little revenue from the advertising that is attached periodically to the videos? I mean, it’s only 15 seconds or so, right? You’ve spent nearly that much time reading this extra sentence that I added to the blurb to illustrate that in the grand scheme of things 15 extra seconds spent doing something really isn’t a big deal and, no, you can’t get the last 15 seconds of your life back . . . and neither can I.

Either way, enjoy the games. Enjoy our best bets. Enjoy the 15-second ad. Enjoy everything you can. Life is short and complicated. Find the little pleasures where you can, in watching football, in winning a wager, and/or in learning about one of the products offered by one of our sponsors in the 15-second ad that may roll before you get the benefit of our otherwise free-of-charge best bets. Did I mention I’m 5-0-1 through two weeks?

Josh Jacobs, Darren Waller are expected to play Sunday

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The Patriots have spent time coming up with answers for Raiders tight end Darren Waller this week and it looks like that work won’t be in vain.

Waller was listed as questionable for Sunday’s game because of a knee injury, but there are multiple reports on Sunday morning that he is expected to be in the lineup when the game kicks off at 1 p.m. ET.

That’s also the case for running back Josh Jacobs. Jacobs, who has a hip injury, joined Waller in missing the first two practices of the week before returning for a limited practice on Friday.

Las Vegas will be down a couple of offensive players Sunday. Right tackle Trent Brown (calf) and wide receiver Henry Ruggs (knee/hamstring) have been ruled out.

Report: Budda Baker to have thumb surgery after playing Sunday

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Cardinals safety Budda Baker is reportedly set for a trip to the operating room.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that Baker has a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his thumb. Baker’s plan is to play against the Lions on Sunday before having surgery to repair the injury.

The hope is that Baker will only miss one game as a result of the operation. The Cardinals play the Panthers in Week Four and have the Jets in Week Five before facing the Cowboys and Seahawks ahead of their Week Eight bye.

Baker has 20 tackles through the first two weeks of the season.

NFL investigating Raiders over locker room breach of COVID-19 rules

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The NFL’s strict rules about who may or may not have access to locker rooms during the COVID-19 pandemic can come with penalties for teams that violate the policies, and the Raiders are currently in the league’s crosshairs.

A previous report said an unnamed team was being investigated over locker room access violations, and that team is the Raiders, according to ESPN.

The Raiders were already fined, as was coach Jon Gruden individually, for Monday night violations of the rules requiring coaches to wear masks. Now the Raiders are also being investigated for an unauthorized team employee entering the locker room after the game.

In an attempt to limit exposure to the coronavirus, NFL teams may have no more than 40 employees enter the locker room, and those employees must be limited to coaches, medical staff, equipment staff, the G.M., one security personnel and one media relations personnel, plus up to three ownership representatives. The NFL believes an employee who doesn’t fit into those categories was in the locker room after the game.

Davante Adams doubtful, but still hoping to play tonight

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Packers receiver Davante Adams is still hoping to play tonight against the Saints.

Although Adams is still officially listed as doubtful with a hamstring injury, he wants to play and he’ll be given every opportunity to show he can go in pregame warmups, according to multiple reports.

Adams did make the trip to New Orleans, which he wouldn’t have done if there were no chance of him playing, so the Packers are holding out hope.

Adams is the Packers’ leading receiver with 17 catches for 192 yards and two touchdowns this season. He was also the Packers’ leading receiver last season, but the Packers’ offense played very well without him in the four games he missed, which may give them confidence that they don’t need to push him to play tonight in New Orleans.

NFL fines Jamie Collins $35,096 for contact with referee

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Lions linebacker Jamie Collins said he had no ill intent when he made contact with referee Alex Kemp, but the NFL has a zero-tolerance policy.

Collins was ejected from the Lions’ Week One game and has also been fined $35,096 for his actions.

In an attempt to demonstrate what he said was an illegal block he received, Collins put his own helmet into the chest of Kemp. Kemp immediately threw his flag and ejected Collins from the game.

“I judged it as unnecessary, so I called a foul,” Kemp explained afterward.

Collins was playing well early in the Lions’ opener against the Bears, but he was ejected in the second quarter. In the fourth quarter the Lions’ defense melted down and gave up three straight touchdowns in a 27-23 loss.

NFL “hopeful” Sunday’s Bears-Falcons game will proceed

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With Falcons cornerback A.J. Terrell becoming the first player to land on the COVID-19/reserve list during the regular season, that move isn’t necessarily the end of the story — and it’s possibly just the beginning.

Mark Maske of the Washington Post reports that the NFL is “hopeful” Sunday’s Bears-Falcons game will proceed as scheduled. The positive test for Terrell has sparked contact tracing and further testing that, in theory, could result in more Falcons players testing positive before the game starts at 1:00 p.m. ET on Sunday.

It’s a wait-and-see situation. Some unnamed sources who spoke to Maske were confident that there will be no issues. Others indicated that the test results, which will be available on Sunday morning, “will guide it all.”

The league has implemented ultra-flexible roster rules this season. In the event of an outbreak, teams can promote up to 16 members of the practice squad as little as 90 minutes before kickoff.

The Commissioner has created a committee of outside advisors to assist him with COVID-19 issues. As one source explained it to PFT before the season began, the committee (and in turn the Commissioner) won’t be inclined to grant dispensations in the form of a postponement or a cancellation to a team that suddenly loses multiple players due to a COVID-19 positive result. Football is the ultimate “next man up” sport, and the Falcons will be expected to backload the various positions on the field with players in order to proceed with 11 on offense, 11 on defense, and 11 on special teams.

The league has not established definitive numbers as to minimum players that a team must have healthy and available for game days. The league will consider all relevant facts and circumstances when consider whether to postpone or to cancel a game.

If the Bears-Falcons game is postponed, it’s unclear when it would be played. The teams have byes in different weeks, eliminating the possibility of bumping to game to the weekend when the two teams otherwise would be off.

Patriots place David Andrews, John Uche on injured reserve

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The Patriots announced they placed center David Andrews and linebacker Josh Uche on injured reserve Saturday.

Andrews has a thumb injury and Uche a foot injury. They will miss games against the Raiders, Chiefs and Broncos before they become eligible to return to action.

The Patriots signed offensive lineman James Ferentz to the 53-player roster off their practice squad and promoted defensive lineman Nick Thurman and receiver Isaiah Zuber.

Ferentz, a five-year veteran, could start. He has played 38 regular-season games with two starts.

Zuber, an undrafted rookie, becomes the fifth receiver behind N’Keal Harry, Damiere Byrd, Julian Edelman and Jakobi Meyers.

Thurman, who played his first NFL game last week, will add depth behind Lawrence Guy and Byron Cowart.

Shaquem Griffin returns to active roster

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Shaquem Griffin is back on the active roster, getting a chance to play alongside his twin brother, Shaquill, again.

The Seahawks promoted the linebacker off the practice squad for Sunday’s game against the Cowboys.

Shaquem Griffin made 16 tackles and three quarterback hits in 32 regular-season games the past two seasons. But he didn’t make Seattle’s roster out of training camp this summer.

Bruce Irvin, who played strongside linebacker on early downs, went on injured reserve this week with a season-ending knee injury. Griffin played strongside linebacker last year after playing the weakside as a rookie.

The Seahawks also promoted defensive back Ryan Neal. They need depth at cornerback with starter Quinton Dunbar (knee) and special teams captain Neiko Thorpe (hip) listed as questionable for Sunday.

Texans promote C.J. Prosise to active roster

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With running back Duke Johnson again questionable for Sunday’s game at Pittsburgh, veteran running back C.J. Prosise will be playing again for the Texans.

The Texans have elevated Prosise from the practice squad. He played last week against the Ravens, with three offensive snaps and five special-teams plays. Duke Johnson was inactive in Week Two.

A third-round pick of the Seahawks in 2016, injuries limited Prosise to 25 games in four seasons in Seattle.

David Johnson and Buddy Howell are the other running backs on the Houston roster.

The Texans have started 0-2, in large part because they’ve played the two best teams in the league (Kansas City and Baltimore) right out of the gates. Sunday’s game at Pittsburgh won’t much much easier.

Browns promote cornerback A.J. Green from practice squad

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The Browns announced they promoted cornerback A.J. Green to the active roster from the practice squad.

Green is a rookie out of Oklahoma State.

He signed as an undrafted free agent and spent the first two weeks of the season on the Browns’ practice squad.

Green will revert to the practice squad Monday.

Green, who has never played an NFL game, made six interceptions, 21 pass breakups and two forced fumbles in four seasons in Stillwater.

Bengals elevate Kahlil McKenzie from practice squad

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The Bengals announced they promoted defensive tackle Kahlil McKenzie from the practice squad to the active roster. The team’s roster now stands at 54 players.

McKenzie automatically will revert back to the practice squad Monday.

The second-year player out of the University of Tennessee signed onto the Bengals’ practice squad after not making the 53-player roster.

McKenzie entered the NFL as a sixth-round choice of the Chiefs in 2018. He spent 2019 on the Seahawks’ practice squad and was waived by the Seahawks in July.

McKenzie is the son of Dolphins senior personnel executive Reggie McKenzie.

With WR Davante Adams injured, Packers promote Darrius Shepherd

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Packers receiver Davante Adams is officially doubtful for Sunday’s game against the Saints, with a hamstring injury. Although he wasn’t downgraded to out (which means, as the team has confirmed, he made the trip to New Orleans), the Packers have promoted a receiver from the practice squad.

Darrius Shepherd joins the roster for Sunday night’s game against the Saints.

Joining Shepherd in making the climb from the practice squad are tight end John Lovett and defensive lineman Billy Winn.

The other Packers receivers are Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Allen Lazard, and Malik Taylor. Last week, running back Aaron Jones added 68 receiving yards to a 168-yard rushing performance.

Aldon Smith fined $12,004 for illegal hit on Jared Goff

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The NFL fined Cowboys defensive end Aldon Smith $12,004 for roughing the passer in Week One, a league source tells PFT.

Smith clearly hit Rams quarterback Jared Goff in the head with 3:43 remaining in the third quarter, but officials missed it. Goff’s pass intended for Van Jefferson was intercepted by Chidobe Awuzie and led to a Cowboys’ field goal.

A penalty would have negated the pick and moved the ball to the Rams 45.

Playing his first game since 2015, Smith made a sack, 11 tackles and two quarterback hits in the Cowboys’ loss to the Rams in the season opener.