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2018 NFL Predictions-Week 9

Week 9-Thursday, Nov. 1

FINAL Elo point spread Win prob. Score
Oakland 38% 3
San Francisco -3.5 62% 34

Sunday, Nov. 4

1 p.m. Eastern Elo point spread Win prob. Score
Atlanta 45%
Washington -1.5 55%
1 p.m. Elo point spread Win prob. Score
Chicago -1 54%
Buffalo 46%
1 p.m. Elo point spread Win prob. Score
Detroit 32%
Minnesota -5 68%
1 p.m.
Kansas City -11.5 84%
Cleveland 16%
1 p.m.
N.Y. Jets 38%
Miami -3.5 62%
1 p.m.
Pittsburgh 46%
Baltimore -1 54%
1 p.m.
Tampa Bay 24%
Carolina -8 76%
4:05 p.m.
Houston 46%
Denver -1 54%
4:05 p.m.
L.A. Chargers 39%
Seattle -3 61%
4:25 p.m.
L.A. Rams 41%
New Orleans -2.5 59%
8:20 p.m.
Green Bay 19%
New England -10 81%

Monday, Nov. 5

8:15 p.m. Eastern Elo point spread Win prob. Score
Tennessee 34%
Dallas -4.5 66%
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NFL- this week’s games

Sportseconds.com  simulation to predict the outcome for this week’s games.

Each game is simulated 501 times to generate an average score and winning percentage.

The predictions use the most up-to-date stats, rosters and depth charts.

Colts Colts 1-424
Patriots Patriots 3-238
Avg Score:22.4 – 27.6
Win%:NE (67.9%)

Spread:-11 O/U:50
ATS Win%:IND (67.7%)

Titans Titans3-1
Bills Bills1-3
Avg Score:27.0 – 21.0
Win%:TEN (66.7%)
Spread:-5.5 O/U:39.5
ATS Win%:TEN (49.1%)
Giants Giants1-3
Avg Score:22.5 – 24.5
Win%:CAR (58.5%)
Spread:-7 O/U:43.5
ATS Win%:NYG (64.3%)
Bengals Bengals3-1
Avg Score:21.3 – 24.4
Win%:CIN (59.0%)
Spread:-6 O/U:48.5
ATS Win%:MIA (57.3%)
Ravens Ravens3-1
Browns Browns1-2-1
Avg Score:22.5 – 15.0
Win%:BAL (71.1%)
Spread:-3 O/U:45.5
ATS Win%:BAL (60.7%)
Packers Packers2-1-1
Lions Lions1-3
Avg Score:27.2 – 21.7
Win%:GB (62.7%)
Spread:0 O/U:51
ATS Win%:GB (60.3%)
Jaguars Jaguars3-1
Chiefs Chiefs4-0
Avg Score:20.3 – 22.6
Win%:KC (57.8%)
Spread:-2.5 O/U:48
ATS Win%:JAX (47.1%)
Broncos Broncos2-2
Jets Jets1-3
Avg Score:19.6 – 22.7
Win%:NYJ (59.1%)
Spread:0 O/U:42.5
ATS Win%:NYJ (58.9%)
Falcons Falcons1-3
Steelers Steelers1-2-1
Avg Score:20.8 – 30.5
Win%:PIT (77.0%)
Spread:-3 O/U:58
ATS Win%:PIT (67.3%)
Raiders Raders1-3
Avg Score:24.2 – 27.1
Win%:LAC (57.9%)
Spread:-5.5 O/U:52.5
ATS Win%:OAK (55.3%)
Vikings Vikings1-2-1
Eagles Eagles2-2
Avg Score:19.7 – 23.4
Win%:PHI (63.5%)
Spread:-3 O/U:46
ATS Win%:PHI (49.3%)

Cardinals Cardinals0-4

49ers 49ers1-3
Avg Score:18.5 – 27.3
Win%:SF (74.5%)
Spread:-4 O/U:40
ATS Win%:SF (61.9%)
Rams Rams4-0
Avg Score:25.0 – 21.5
Win%:LAR (58.4%)
Spread:-7.5 O/U:50.5
ATS Win%:SEA (59.9%)
Cowboys Cowboys2-2
Texans Texans1-3
Avg Score:21.7 – 23.3
Win%:HOU (55.6%)
Spread:-3 O/U:45.5
ATS Win%:DAL (48.9%)
Saints Saints3-1
Avg Score:24.5 – 26.6
Win%:NO (58.3%)
Spread:-7 O/U:52.5
ATS Win%:WSH (64.3%)
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This Week in U.S. Sports: Reid signs, NL in chaos and Ohtani to undergo surgery

There was a sign of change in the NFL this week, some might say a showing of maturity and evolution.

In MLB, the National League is approaching one of the greatest final week of a season in recent memory and another penalty flag was just thrown for roughing the passer.

This is what is going on in this week of U.S. Sports.

1. Reid signs with Panthers

Eric Reid is finally on an NFL roster.

The 2013 first-round pick went the first three games of the NFL season without a team as he remained a free agent until the Carolina Panthers signed him on Thursday.

The NFL Players Association (NFLPA) filed a grievance on Reid’s behalf during the offseason alleging teams were not signing him because he had kneeled alongside former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick during the national anthem.

While he may have had a point, the important thing is that now he has a team as the 2013 Pro Bowler probably never should have been without one.

2. National League chaos

There is only one thing for certain in MLB’s NL: The Atlanta Braves have won the Eastern Division. That’s it.

As of Thursday, the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers had locked up playoff spots, but the central was still up for grabs. In the west, the Colorado Rockies and Los Angeles Dodgers were separated by one game at day’s end.

However, any of those four teams could still win their division.

With three games left to play nothing is decided. Add in the fact the Cubs play the St Louis Cardinals who are one game back of the Dodgers for the second wild-card spot and every single one of those games has playoff implications.

This is what MLB wanted when they added a second wildcard in 2011.

3. Ohtani officially has Tommy John surgery scheduled

We knew it was coming, but now it is official: Shohei Ohtani will have surgery after the season ends on Sunday. The Los Angeles Angels star will have the surgery at some point next week and will not pitch in 2019.

However, he may be available to hit, though there is no timetable on when he could do that.

Ohtani is the likely American League Rookie of the Year as he is fourth in home runs among rookies (22), fourth in RBIs (59) and third in batting average (.283). He has also struck out 63 batters in 51.6 innings while posting a 3.31 ERA. He has accumulated 4.0 WAR between the mound (1.3) and in the batter’s box (2.7).

The Angels will miss his pitching next season but keeping his bat in the line-up will pay dividends.

4. Where, oh where, will Butler go?

Jimmy Butler still has not been traded by the Minnesota Timberwolves and that is the most factual thing coming out of the saga surrounding the star guard this week.

The Timberwolves reportedly are experiencing infighting where head coach Tom Thibodeau does not want to trade Butler, but team owner Glen Taylor is telling other teams to come to him with offers.

Butler initially said he wanted to be dealt to either the Los Angeles Clippers, New York Knicks or Brooklyn Nets and preferred the former. Now he wants to be dealt to the Miami Heat, and the Houston Rockets and Phoenix Suns are pursuing the four-time All-Star.

No one knows if he will go or where he will be if he is dealt. The Timberwolves play games next week. This story is far from over.

5. NFL treating QBs with kid gloves and one still gets knocked out for the season

The NFL really does not want quarterbacks to get hurt. This is evident in the 34 roughing-the-passer penalties called through three weeks (the most since 2001) and four called Monday Night during the Pittsburgh Steelers-Tampa Bay Buccaneers game (also the most in a while).

But despite all of their attempts to keep their QBs healthy, one still got hurt as 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament on a non-contact play during San Francisco’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

And also, while they tried to keep QBs from getting knocked out, they might have knocked out a player for the season who was attempting to protect a QB.

Miami Dolphins defensive lineman William Hayes tore his ACL on a sack of Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr and his head coach believes it is because he was trying not to put his bodyweight on the quarterback so he could avoid a penalty.

The NFL cannot win here.

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NFL notebook: Bills’ QB McCarron (shoulder) back at practice

Buffalo Bills quarterback A.J. McCarron returned to practice on Wednesday for the first time since sustaining what as initially reported to be a hairline fracture of his collarbone against the Cleveland Browns on Friday. 
McCarron was limited in practice, multiple media outlets reported.
Bills coach Sean McDermott has since dismissed that report that McCarron broke his collarbone.
McCarron is expected to rejoin the quarterback carousel that has rookie Josh Allen expected to start over Nathan Peterman against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.

–The Kansas City Chiefs released running back Charcandrick West, the team announced.
West had been sidelined for most of training camp because of a concussion before being cleared for padded practice on Tuesday.
His roster spot became expendable with the arrival of free-agent running back Damien Williams, the emergence of undrafted rookie Darrel Williams and the return from injury of Spencer Ware as backup options to starter Kareem Hunt.
Williams is expected to serve as the team’s primary receiving running back, a role West had enjoyed during his time in Kansas City.

–President Donald Trump took issue with ESPN after the network’s president announced that it would not air the national anthem during “Monday Night Football” broadcasts.
Trump spoke at a rally in West Virginia on Tuesday night and addressed the familiar topic of some NFL players kneeling during the national anthem.
“You’re proud of our country, you’re proud of our history, and unlike the NFL, you always honor and cherish our great American flag,” Trump told the crowd in Charleston.
“It was just announced by ESPN that rather than defending our anthem, our beautiful, beautiful national anthem and defending our flag, they’ve decided that they just won’t broadcast when they play the national anthem. We don’t like that.” 

–Free-agent safety George Iloka signed a contract with the Minnesota Vikings, the team announced.
Terms of the deal were not announced by the Vikings, who also claimed rookie fullback Luke McNitt on waivers.
Iloka, who was released by Cincinnati on Sunday, played his first two NFL seasons (2012-13) under then-Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer. Zimmer is now the head coach of the Vikings.
The 28-year-old Iloka could replace Andrew Sendejo at strong safety with the Vikings and pair with All-Pro free safety Harrison Smith.

Seattle Seahawks rookie running back Rashaad Penny will be ready for the team’s season opener against the Denver Broncos, coach Pete Carroll announced.
Penny, who was selected 27th overall by the Seahawks in the 2018 draft, sustained a broken finger in practice last week. Multiple media outlets reported that he would be sidelined for three to four weeks.
Penny had been competing with Chris Carson for the starting running back job with the Seahawks, who had only one rushing touchdown outside of quarterback Russell Wilson.

Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh said he has “no hard feelings” toward the Miami Dolphins following what could be perceived as a negative comment on Instagram about the team’s rush defense.
Suh’s comment came on a play that saw Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey bolt for a 71-yard touchdown run in a preseason game against the Dolphins.
The play was posted to the NFL’s Instagram account.
“Right up the Gut lol,” the 31-year-old Suh wrote.

–Former Carolina Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson announced his retirement from the NFL, the team said.
Johnson spent his entire career with the Panthers and played in a franchise record 143 games. He ranks second behind Julius Peppers on the franchise’s all-time sack and forced fumbles lists.
The 32-year-old Johnson said that his body was giving him pronounced clues to retire after he underwent back surgery last year.
Johnson collected 352 tackles, 67.5 sacks and 20 forced fumbles in 143 career games since being selected by the Panthers in the third round of the 2007 draft.

–Defensive tackles Tani Tupou and Nigel Williams signed the Arizona Cardinals, the team announced.
To make room for Tupou and Williams on the roster, the Cardinals released tight end Chris Bazile and Austin Wolf.
The 6-foot-1, 284-pound Tupou played in one game for the Atlanta Falcons last season, spending the majority of the 2017 season on the Falcons’ practice squad.
Tupou was signed by the Seattle Seahawks in 2016 as an undrafted rookie free agent Washington and played one game with the Seahawks as a rookie. In three seasons at Washington, Tupou played 33 games and had 37 tackles, 5.5 tackles for losses and a fumble recovery.
The 6-2, 297-pound Williams signed with the Buffalo Bills in 2017 as an undrafted free agent out of Virginia Tech, but was released by the Bills following the preseason.

–The New York Jets released kicker Cairo Santos, the team announced.
Santos, who was the first Brazilian native to play in the NFL, signed a one-year, $2-million contract with the Jets in March. The 5-foot-8, 160-pound Santos joined the Jets after the team saw fellow kicker Chandler Catanzaro sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a free agent.
Per ESPN, coach Todd Bowles said the Jets opted to cut Santos because he wasn’t ready to kick in Friday’s preseason game against the New York Giants because of a chronic groin injury.

–The Indianapolis Colts signed free agent running back Tion Green, the team announced.
To make room for Green on the roster, the Colts waived running back Josh Ferguson with an injured designation. If Ferguson clears waivers, he will be placed on the Colts’ Injured-Reserve list.
The 6-foot, 220-pound Green re-joins the Colts after first signing with the team earlier this month and then being released. He played in five games with the Detroit Lions as a rookie in 2017 and totaled 42 carries for 165 yards and two touchdowns. Green also caught two passes for 14 yards.

–Defensive lineman Cedric Thornton of the San Francisco 49ers is retiring after seven seasons in the NFL, the team announced. He signed with the team on July 25.
The 49ers signed defensive tackle Chris Jones to a one-year deal to replace Thornton on the roster.
The 6-4, 290-pound Thornton was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2011 as an undrafted free agent out of Southern Arkansas.
Thornton played in 89 games, with 48 starts, over seven seasons with the Eagles (2011-15), the Dallas Cowboys (2016) and the Buffalo Bills (2017). He recorded 278 tackles, 7.5 sacks, six passes defensed, four fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles. He added six tackles in three postseason games.
The 6-1, 293-pound Jones, a five-year veteran, is beginning his second stint with the 49ers, who claimed on him waivers from the Miami Dolphins in 2016. He started the final six games of the 2016 season for the 49ers, making 21 tackles.

–Rookie quarterback Josh Rosen of the Arizona Cardinals sat out practice on Wednesday because of what is being described as a minor thumb injury, but is expected to play in Sunday’s game preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys.
Rosen, the 10th overall pick in the draft out of UCLA, sustained the injury during practice on Monday when he hit his throwing hand on a teammates helmet while throwing a pass, Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks said.
The 6-4, 218-pound Rosen was impressive in the Cardinals’ game last week while playing behind the projected starting line against the New Orleans Saints.
Rosen completed 10 of 17 passes for 107 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions, with a long gain of 21 yards and a quarterback rating of 102.9.

–Wide receiver Kenny Britt was released by the New England Patriots, the team announced.
The 29-year-old is a veteran of nine NFL seasons with the Tennessee Titans (2009-13), the St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams (2014-16), Cleveland Browns (2017) and the Patriots.
Britt signed a free agent contract with the Patriots on Dec. 13, 2017, after being released by the Browns five days earlier.
The 6-foot-3, 230-pound Britt was a first-round pick of the Titans (30th overall) out of Rutgers, the first No. 1 selection in school history, in the 2009 draft

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NFL notebook: Roethlisberger in concussion protocol

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was being evaluated for a concussion after he was hurt in Tuesday’s practice, the team announced. 
Roethlisberger went to the ground after throwing a pass during drills on the final day of training camp in Latrobe, Pa. Although multiple media outlets reported that Roethlisberger did not appear to be hit on the play, head coach Mike Tomlin said there was contact.
The two-time Super Bowl champion was laying on his stomach with his right hand on the back of his head for several minutes while a team trainer attended to him.
Offensive lineman Marcus Gilbert was blocking on the play and told ESPN that he saw Roethlisberger’s head “whip back.” 
The 36-year-old Roethlisberger was able to walk off the field on his own, briefly stopping to talk to team officials, including general manager Kevin Colbert.–Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz expressed a bit of doubt that he’ll be under center for the team’s season opener.
Wentz initially set his sights on Week 1 of the 2018 NFL season shortly after tearing his ACL and LCL in a December game against the Los Angeles Rams.
With the Eagles’ season opener against the Atlanta Falcons nearly three weeks away, Wentz remained hopeful when discussing his potential involvement in that game.
“I obviously would love to be out there,” Wentz said on WIP Radio on Tuesday, via NBC Sports Philadelphia. “That’s been my goal all offseason ever since the injury. It’s going to be close. It’s going to be close. I’m still eyeing that date.” 

–New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady did his best to smooth the waters with the team’s fan base, saying during a radio interview that he and coach Bill Belichick remain on the same page.
“I think our priorities are the same that they’ve always been, and I think that’s why we get along so well. We’re here to win,” Brady said in his weekly interview on sports radio WEEI. “It’s been a very professional environment he’s created, and I think I’m very lucky to be in that environment. I think he’s the best coach who ever coached in the NFL, and I feel very privileged to kind of be mentored by him as long as I have.” 
Brady’s comment comes one day after Belichick said very much the same thing on the same radio station.
“We still do basically the same things we’ve done for quite a period of time now. I don’t see that changing,” Belichick said Monday on WEEI. “I have a good relationship with Tom. I have a lot of respect for Tom. We’ve won a lot of games together, and I hope we can win some more together. I know he feels the same way.” 

–Quarterback Sam Bradford will see his workload ramp up in the Arizona Cardinals’ second preseason game.
Cardinals coach Steve Wilks told the team’s official website that Bradford will see more time when the Cardinals visit the New Orleans Saints on Friday night. Bradford played only eight snaps in Arizona’s preseason opener.
Bradford appeared in just two games with the Minnesota Vikings in 2017 but said he was not looking to see more time in the exhibition opener.

–Dez Bryant will meet with the Cleveland Browns on Thursday, multiple media outlets reported.
Bryant has been out of a job since he was released by the Dallas Cowboys in a salary dispute in mid-April.
Browns general manager John Dorsey is bringing in a number of wide receivers this week as he seeks to fortify a unit that is without Josh Gordon, who remains away from camp because of health issues.
I’d be open to anything if it’s proper,” Dorsey told cleveland.com last week. “I’m just going to measure that on a case-by-case basis and see what happens when the guys come in next week.” 

–First-round draft pick Roquan Smith signed a contract with the Chicago Bears, the team announced.
Smith, who was selected eighth overall in April, was the only remaining unsigned pick of the 2018 draft.
The four-year contract was worth $18.4 million, with multiple media outlets reporting that it included $11.5 million guaranteed. Like all rookie deals, it included a team option for a fifth season.
“We’re looking forward to Roquan joining our team and getting him prepared for the 2018 season,” Bears general manager Ryan Pace said.
Smith, a linebacker, missed the Bears’ entire training camp and the team’s first two preseason contests.

New York Giants rookie running back Saquon Barkley was a spectator at practice.
Barkley, who was the second overall pick of the 2018 draft, watched practice in uniform — sans pads — after sustaining a mild strain of his left leg during Monday’s session.
The 21-year-old Barkley reeled in a pass down the sideline from quarterback Kyle Lauletta before coming up a bit gimpy.
Giants coach Pat Shurmur said that the team will be “smart with him” as the week progressed. Barkley lived up to the hype befitting his lofty draft status in New York’s preseason opener, rumbling 39 yards on his first carry in a 20-10 loss to the visiting Cleveland Browns. He rushed for 43 yards on the evening.

–The San Francisco 49ers signed running back Alfred Morris to a one-year contract, the team announced.
Offensive lineman Alan Knott was waived to make room for Morris, who will serve as added depth with fellow running backs Jerick McKinnon (calf strain) and Matt Breida (shoulder) nursing injuries.
Morris played for coach Kyle Shanahan in Washington during his first two NFL seasons and ran 611 times for 2,888 yards and 20 touchdowns.
“Alf did a great job for us the two years I was with him,” Shanahan said of the 29-year-old Morris on Monday. “It’s not flashy, but he runs extremely hard. He’s very reliable. He’s a hard-nosed runner who you can keep handing the ball off to. He’s very reliable.” 

Oakland Raiders offensive tackle Donald Penn was activated from the physically unable to perform list on Tuesday and participated in his first practice of training camp.
Penn, who was recovering from foot surgery, was stationed at right tackle while first-round pick Kolton Miller spent time at left tackle. Miller was selected with the 15th overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that the three-time Pro Bowl selection’s move is expected to be long-term for the Raiders.
Penn agreed to take a “small pay cut” to remain in Oakland, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported on Monday. The 6-foot-4, 315-pounder previously signed a two-year, $21 million extension in September.

–The Washington Redskins released cornerback Orlando Scandrick, approximately five months after signing him to a two-year contract.
Scandrick, who received a $1 million signing bonus in March, was expected to add a veteran presence opposite fellow cornerback Josh Norman. Fourth-round pick Quinton Dunbar and second-year player Fabian Moreau likely will slide in beside Norman for the Redskins.
Redskins coach Jay Gruden detailed what went into the decision to part ways with Scandrick on Tuesday.
“A couple things really, you know when we initially signed Orlando we had just lost Kendall (Fuller), and it was before the draft,” Gruden said. “We drafted (Greg) Stroman and obviously we got Adonis (Alexander), and I think the emergence of Danny Johnson, Fabian Moreau at nickel. We wanted to get these guys reps at nickel and Dunbar at corner and move on. So, give Orlando ample time to get on a team before the season started.” 

Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey and defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. will return Monday from their team suspensions, the Florida Times-Union reported.
The team suspended the duo on Monday “for violating team rules and conduct unbecoming of a Jaguars football player.” Jacksonville left for Minnesota on Tuesday to hold joint practices with the Vikings.
Fowler was involved in a fight with teammate Yannick Ngakoue during Sunday’s practice and they had to be separated twice. Ramsey then became upset that the media were filming the altercation between Fowler and Ngakoue and directed profanities toward the press.
Not long after practice ended, Fowler and Ngakoue had to be separated by fellow defensive linemen Calais Campbell, Carroll Phillips and Abry Jones. As the players were walking toward the locker room, the two combatants got into it again and had to be separated.

–New York Jets coach Todd Bowles was rather direct in telling wide receiver Terrelle Pryor to keep quiet about injuries.
“Terrelle doesn’t need to be descriptive,” Bowles said, via the New York Daily News. “I feel that he should keep his mouth shut and leave the injuries to me. I’ve already handled it. We had a conversation.” 
Pryor revealed Monday that he underwent a pair of offseason surgeries.
“One was the foot, one was the ankle. I tore three ligaments in my ankle — my foot — and then I broke my ankle in May,” Pryor said, per the Washington Post.

–Miami Dolphins wide receiver DeVante Parker sustained a broken middle finger on his right hand during Sunday’s practice, multiple media outlets reported.
Parker is considered “week-to-week” on Tuesday by coach Adam Gase, who said he wouldn’t speculate if the wideout would be ready for the team’s season opener.
The injury occurred when Parker had his right hand caught in Xavien Howard’s shoulder pads as the cornerback broke up a pass intended for him.
Parker, who was the 14th overall pick of the 2015 draft, has been looked upon to pick up the slack after the Dolphins traded three-time Pro Bowler Jarvis Landry to the Cleveland Browns in the offseason.

–New Orleans Saints wide receiver Cameron Meredith remained away from practice while dealing with an undisclosed injury, multiple media outlets reported.
Meredith has been away from a number of practices and sat out last week’s preseason opener, but the injury is not related to the torn ACL that caused him to miss the entire 2017 season, according to the NFL Network.
On Sunday, New Orleans coach Sean Payton cited Meredith as one of a number of injured players who “are coming along well.” Meredith, who agreed to a two-year contract worth an estimated $10 million with the Saints in April, referenced his situation in a Twitter posting.
“So many obstacles on my path, trying to test my perseverance,” wrote Meredith, who added that his faith remains unshaken.

–The Miami Dolphins released Gabe Wright one day after the defensive tackle reportedly blindsided running back Kenyan Drake in practice.
The team announced the move involving Wright, who charged at a helmetless Drake during Monday practice. Drake did not appear to be injured in the incident, which occurred toward the end of a fight involving multiple players.
“It was time for us to move on,” coach Adam Gase told reporters Tuesday morning, via the Miami Herald.
Miami wasted no time filling Wright’s roster spot by signing veteran defensive tackle Kendall Langford, according to multiple media outlets.

–Landry Jones has served as the backup quarterback with the Pittsburgh Steelers for the past five seasons.
That doesn’t necessarily mean Landry is guaranteed to be in that role behind Ben Roethlisberger again for the 2018 season, according to the NFL Network.
Asked if Landry was a lock for the backup job, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was non-committal in remarks to reporters.
“We’ll see where the road ends,” said Tomlin.
Landry has appeared in 19 games, making five starts, since Pittsburgh drafted him in the fourth round of the 2013 draft out of Oklahoma. However, the Steelers used a third-round pick to take quarterback Mason Rudolph out of Oklahoma State in this year’s draft and drafted former Tennessee quarterback Joshua Dobbs a year ago.

–Oakland Raiders safety Obi Melifonwu remained absent from practice amid a report that he will see a specialist.
Melifonwu, a second-round pick of Oakland in the 2017 draft, has not practiced since Aug. 6 after he had what head coach Jon Gruden termed “a flare-up” of a lower-body injury.
The Athletic reported on Tuesday that Melifonwu will visit a specialist and there is concern that the injury is related to the hip surgery that ended his rookie season.
After returning to play in five games last season, Melinonwu finished the seasons on injured reserve because of a hip injury that required surgery in December.

–The Indianapolis Colts signed free agent running back Tion Green, the team announced.
In a corresponding move, the Colts waived linebacker William Ossai with a non-football illness designation.
The 6-foot, 220-pound Green appeared in five games with the Detroit Lions as a rookie in 2017, rushing for 165 yards and two touchdowns on 42 carries. He also had two receptions for 14 yards.
Green rushed for 2,072 yards and 19 touchdowns in 46 games at the University of Cincinnati.
Ossai signed with Indianapolis on May 1. He started 22 of 48 games at San Jose State, registering 169 tackles, including 17 for losses, and 2.0 sacks.

–The Arizona Cardinals signed wide receiver Austin Wolf, the team announced.
Wolf is an undrafted free agent out of the University of Akron. In a corresponding move, Arizona released wide receiver Rashad Ross.
The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Wolf appeared in 10 games with the Zips last season, notching 33 receptions for 476 yards and five touchdowns. Wolf also had five touchdown catches as a junior when he set career highs with 36 receptions for 550 yards, averaging 15.3 yards per catch

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NFL notebook: Bears LB Smith reportedly ends holdout

Linebacker Roquan Smith, the only remaining unsigned draft pick, has agreed to terms on his four-year rookie contract with the Chicago Bears, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Monday. 
The two sides are finalizing the language in the contract before Smith signs, according to the report.
Smith, the eighth overall pick in the 2018 draft, missed all of training camp, but the Chicago Tribune reported the deal is expected to be finalized in time for Smith to join the Bears for their joint practices against the Denver Broncos beginning Wednesday in Englewood, Colo.
Smith is slotted to earn $18 million guaranteed over four years. Adam Schefter of ESPN reported the contract is expected to include about $11 million in bonuses.

–Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery could be in line to begin the season on the physically unable to perform list, according to a published report.
Per NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport, Jeffery could remain on the PUP list as he recovers from offseason shoulder surgery. The 28-year-old Jeffery went under the knife shortly after the Eagles posted a 41-33 victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII.
By rule, any player who is on the physically unable to perform list at the start of the regular season must miss at least the first six weeks of the campaign.

–Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Antonio Brown might be injured again.
Brown returned to practice Saturday after missing 10 days with a quadriceps strain, but multiple media outlets reported that Brown limped off the practice field Monday after participating in some individual drills.
No information regarding the severity of the injury was immediately available, so it is too soon to know whether Brown will miss any time.

–With running back Jerick McKinnon bothered by a calf strain and running back Matt Breida sidelined with a should injury, San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said Monday the team plans to sign Alfred Morris.
Shanahan hopes to have Morris on board when the team heads to Houston on Tuesday to hold joint practices with the Texans on Wednesday and Thursday before the game against Houston on Saturday.
Morris played for the Dallas Cowboys the past two seasons, and last season he rushed 115 times for 547 yards and a touchdown while playing 14 games, including five starts.

–New York Giants rookie running back Saquon Barkley gave his team a scare after appearing to injure his left leg during Monday’s practice.
Barkley, who was the second overall pick of the 2018 draft, reeled in a pass down the sideline from quarterback Kyle Lauletta before coming up a bit gimpy. Members of the medical staff were summoned after the play.
Per multiple media outlets, Barkley was seen with a wrap and ice pack around his left leg. That wrap was removed prior to the conclusion of practice and the 21-year-old had no visible effects while walking off the field.
“Think he’s all right. We’ll find out,” coach Pat Shurmur said, via northjersey.com.
Lauletta talked with Barkley following practice and didn’t express any worry to the New York Post. “He’s fine,” Lauletta told the newspaper. “He didn’t say anything about that. He’ll be good to go.”

–The Denver Broncos announced they have signed linebacker A.J. Johnson.
Johnson is a rookie who was a three-time All-Southeastern Conference selection at the University of Tennessee from 2011-14.
Last month, Johnson and Tennessee teammate Michael Williams were cleared of rape charges that led to them both being dismissed from the Tennessee football program.
“A.J. hasn’t had the opportunity to play football for the last three years while resolving a serious legal matter,” general manager John Elway said in a statement. “We’ve had several conversations with him since he’s been cleared and have become very familiar with his background and character. Our organization is confident A.J. is ready to move forward and resume his playing career.”
The Broncos also signed safety Shamarko Thomas, released linebacker Stansly Maponga and placed safety Jamal Carter on injured reserve.

–Guard Forrest Lamp missed his entire rookie season because of a knee injury, but the Los Angeles Chargers still see him as part of their future.
Lamp started competing for his place on the depth chart on Monday, when the Chargers announced he was activated from the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. Multiple media outlets reported he practiced on Monday — his first since the injury.
The Chargers drafted Lamp in the second round last year, but he suffered a torn ACL last August that ended his season before it started. He had another knee operation in the spring, which delayed his return.

–Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson had an interesting means of sending a message to wide receiver Antonio Callaway.
Rather than sit the rookie, Jackson decided to play Callaway for the majority of Thursday’s preseason opener against the New York Giants.
“I was trying to make him play the whole game if we could. I did not want him to come out,” Jackson said of Callaway, who failed to inform the Browns that he was cited for marijuana possession and a suspended license last week. “That was part of the consequence of what he has been through, and he knows it. That is what it was. Either you sit him or make him play. I thought it was better to make him play. Make him play as long as he could. There were a couple of times he kept waving to come out, and we said, ‘No, stay in.'”

–Chicago Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson is expected to make his preseason debut this weekend against the Denver Broncos.
Robinson has been sidelined since tearing an ACL in his left knee on the third play from scrimmage in the Jacksonville Jaguars’ season-opening 29-7 win over the Houston Texans.
Signed to a three-year, $42 million contract in the offseason, Robinson will participate in the Bears’ joint practices with the Broncos.

–New York Jets coach Todd Bowles said he isn’t going to stand for his players engaging in any extracurricular activity.
That means no fighting, boxing or wrestling on the field. Well, those activities — in some form — were on display during Sunday’s joint practice with the Washington Redskins, as several skirmishes and two sizable brawls marred the session.
One of the brawls saw the action spill into an area where fans watched practice. No players or fans appeared to get injured in the fight.
“Fights are not to be tolerated and had,” the 54-year-old Bowles said. “We are not trying to fight them and they’re not trying to fight us. They want to be boxers and wrestlers, they probably want to be in another sport. We are trying to get better, again, they’re trying to get, we’re trying to get better. Some things happen, overzealousness.
“I talked to my guys and coach (Jay) Gruden talked to his guys and we’ll just have better practices (Monday) because that is just a waste of time to me.”
On Monday, Gruden took responsibility for his players’ actions, but said he would consider suspending them if they fight again.

–The Jacksonville Jaguars suspended All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey and defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. for a week as the result of an incident after Sunday’s practice.
Fowler was involved in a fight with teammate Yannick Ngakoue and they had to be separated twice. Ramsey then became upset that the media were filming the altercation between Fowler and Ngakoue and directed profanities toward the press.
The team responded by suspending the two “for violating team rules and conduct unbecoming of a Jaguars football player.”

–The Arizona Cardinals signed Gerald Hodges to a one-year contract and waived fellow linebacker Jeremy Cash with an injury designation, the team announced.
Hodges enjoyed his best season with the San Francisco 49ers in 2016, when he recorded a career-high 80 tackles, three sacks, two interceptions, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
Hodges played in 11 games with the Saints last season and had three special teams tackles.
Cash sustained a knee injury during the third quarter of Saturday night’s 24-17 win over the Los Angeles Chargers.

–Jimmy Garoppolo has found himself under the spotlight ever since he joined the San Francisco 49ers midway into last season.
That spotlight became infinitely brighter after he posted a 5-0 mark as a starter with the 49ers before parlaying that success into a five-year, $137.5 million contract in February.
So, does the 26-year-old Garoppolo ever dwell on how his life has changed so quickly over the last few months?
“I like to think about it at certain times,” Garoppolo told Peter King of NBC Sports.com, courtesy of the latter’s “Football Morning in America” column.
“When I’m in here working, you just don’t have any time to think about it. But every once in a while, it’s good to sit back and smell the roses as my dad would put it … not now. Now, it’s grind mode. Don’t really have a lot of time for that.”

–The Minnesota Vikings announced that they have placed offensive lineman Nick Easton on injured reserve and signed guard Kaleb Johnson.
Easton started 12 games for the Vikings last season and was filling in at center for Pat Elflein during training camp before suffering a neck injury. Easton is likely to miss the entire season.
Johnson, 25, joins Minnesota after being released by the Chicago Bears. He played collegiately at Rutgers and entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with Baltimore in 2015. He has never played in a regular-season NFL game.

–New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick shed little light on the status of cornerback Jason McCourty.
After saying that McCourty is “very professional,” “hardworking” and “picked things up well,” Belichick was rather vague after being asked if the 31-year-old’s absence in Thursday’s preseason game against the Washington Redskins was, per a reporter’s question, “a result of you knowing what you had in him or an injury?”
“The guys we played, we played. The guys we didn’t play, we didn’t play. We’ll play other guys this week and we’ll see how it goes,” Belichick said in comments distributed by the team.
“I mean, you all know I’m not talking about anybody’s injuries, so there’s no point in even bringing that up.”

–Issues related to the construction of a new stadium for Premier League soccer team Tottenham Hotspur has led the regular-season game between the Oakland Raiders and Seattle Seahawks to be moved to Wembley Stadium.
Tottenham’s new stadium, which was built to NFL specifications with some funding from the NFL, was scheduled to be open in time for Tottenham’s Sept. 15 game against Liverpool. The Oct. 14 regular-season Seahawks-Raiders game was also scheduled to be played there.
However, the stadium is not expected to be ready in time, and Tottenham’s game against Liverpool has been moved. The Raiders-Seahawks has been moved to Wembley Stadium, which is the site for the two other NFL games to be played in London this season.

Buffalo Bills quarterbacks A.J. McCarron and Nathan Peterman returned to the practice field one day removed from sustaining minor injuries in practice.
Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll told reporters that McCarron and Peterman are fine, according to The Athletic.
Multiple media outlets reported that McCarron injured his lower right leg on Sunday while Peterman appeared to hurt his right arm after falling during team drills.

–Joel Bitonio, who has started 47 games in four seasons at left guard for the Cleveland Browns, says he is getting more comfortable at his new position — left tackle.
Bitonio made his first start there in the team’s preseason opener after being moved to left tackle earlier this month. He is the replacement for Joe Thomas, a 10-time Pro Bowl player and future Hall of Famer who retired in March.
“I am getting there,” Bitonio said. “You finally play in a game and starts to become more of a reality. Practice is practice. I am getting there. I think that every day I get a little more comfortable. I feel more comfortable in my stance, position in the huddle and things like that. It is getting there.

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5 storylines as we await training camp

Training camps don’t open for about two months, but it’s never too early to tackle some of the league’s more intriguing plot lines.

The NFL is heading into its down season – if there is such a thing. Or at least the time when players can catch their breaths and coaches might get away for some rest before the 23-hour days start up again. However, there will still be news and stories to keep an eye on.

RealSport offers five storylines to keep in mind before training camps open in late July.

When will Aaron Rodgers get paid?

(Photo credit: Mike Morbeck)

Atlanta’s Matt Ryan is the first player to make $30 million per season after signing a five-year deal with a $100 million guaranteed. The Green Bay Packers star will get more. Just how much more and exactly when that becomes official remains a mystery at the moment.

It’s only a matter of time, but one would think it comes before Green Bay opens its training camp, and maybe even before the team’s mandatory minicamp June 12-14. Rodgers, apparently, even had a hand, or voice, in Ryan’s deal getting done with the Falcons. Man, this guy gets whatever he wants.

But at age 34, Rodgers is well worth it, we know that, and he’s back healthy after missing most of last season with a broken collarbone. Rodgers is one player who has never allowed money to dictate his play, and that should remain the case even after his soon-to-be historic payday.

What will happen with Earl Thomas?

(Photo credit: Mike Morris)

Unhappy that he remains without a contract extension, Thomas was a no-show for Seattle’s OTAs this month. It’s uncertain exactly what to make of Thomas’ intentions considering there have been mixed messages spreading around about whether he will or will not hold out until a deal gets done.

That uncertainty hurts the Seahawks, who no longer possess an intimidating defense and have moved on from emotional leaders Richard Sherman and Michael Bennett. The health of safety Kam Chancellor remains a concern, so potentially being without Thomas only makes the defense more vulnerable than it appears to be.

Perhaps an underlying issue in Thomas’ case is whether Seattle still sees itself as a Super Bowl contender or a franchise ready to rebuild. If it’s the latter, then there is no point to overpaying for Thomas, who is still an above-average performer but maybe not one worthy of breaking the bank.

Rookie quarterback race

(Photo credit: Eric Chan)

Four quarterbacks taken within the top 10 picks of this year’s draft and each could start for their respective teams by the end of the season. Maybe even by the end of training camp, for some.

Josh Allen in Buffalo and Sam Darnold with the New York Jets seem like the best bets to win starting nods for Week 1. Josh Rosen is waiting behind Sam Bradford in Arizona, but that seems like a matter of time before Bradford suffers another injury or struggles, thus opening the door for the former UCLA star.

Then there is Baker Mayfield, the most intriguing of the bunch. The surprise No. 1 overall pick by the Cleveland Browns, Mayfield is behind Tyrod Taylor to begin the season and appears to be the one in the foursome whose team is OK with waiting for. The Browns may opt to groom Mayfield and bring him along slowly as long as the team fares well.

But it’s Cleveland. How good can things get?

Will Andrew Luck be ready for training camp?

(Photo credit: Mr.schultz)

That’s the plan, but no real progress was made during OTAs and a timeline for Luck’s activities going forward doesn’t seem all that clear. The brass of the Indianapolis Colts insist everything is fine, but we’ve heard that for months.

The reality is Luck has not played a down of meaningful football since New Year’s Day 2017, and even if he throws well during the upcoming minicamp, how much rust will Luck display and will the chemistry be there with the likes of running back Marlon Mack, receiver Ryan Grant and maybe even tight end Eric Ebron?

Luck’s situation remains frustrating to Colts’ fans, who already seem to be preparing themselves for another rough season.

The Los Angeles Rams are all in

(Photo credit: Christopher A Murray)

Playing their second season in the land of glitz and glamour and coming off a 4-12 campaign, the Los Angeles Rams were easily the NFL’s surprise team with an 11-5 2017 mark and first division crown since 2003. Sure, we expected the Rams’ expectations to heighten this season, but considering who they’ve acquired and what they’ve given up in doing so signals Sean McVay’s group is ready to take it all now.

Whether they will raise the Lombardi Trophy in Atlanta remains to be seen, but Los Angeles has pulled out all the stops to take a shot. The Rams made news with the additions of perennial NFL stars in defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib, and receiver Brandin Cooks. All have been at or near the top of those positions in their careers.

The only potential snag appears to be Aaron Donald’s contract situation, which is a similar scenario to Thomas. The only difference is that Donald is the best defensive player in the league.

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NFL notebook: Bills fire offensive coordinator Dennison

The Buffalo Bills fired offensive coordinator Rick Dennison after just one season, the team announced Friday.

The move comes one week after the Bills made their first playoff appearance in 18 years. They failed to score a touchdown and mustered 263 yards (133 passing, 130 rushing) in that outing en route to a 10-3 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.
The 2018 season will mark the fourth offensive coordinator change for the Bills since 2014.

–Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown was sent home from practice with an illness, the team announced.
While Brown was absent on Friday, cornerback Artie Burns (knee) and defensive end Stephon Tuitt (elbow) were full participants in practice. All three are expected to play in Sunday’s divisional-round game versus the visiting Jacksonville Jaguars.

–Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio agreed to a three-year deal to remain with the Chicago Bears, and former Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich was officially named the Bears offensive coordinator, the team announced.
The Bears also named Chris Tabor as special teams coordinator, Charles London as running backs coach and Mike Furrey as wide receivers coach.

–The Carolina Panthers hired Norv Turner as their offensive coordinator, the team announced.
Turner interviewed with the Panthers last week and will take over for Mike Shula, who was fired on Tuesday. He returns to the coaching ranks for the first time since stepping down as offensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings in November 2016.

–The Oakland Raiders made it official by announcing the hires of Greg Olson and Paul Guenther as the team’s offensive and defensive coordinators under new coach Jon Gruden.
Olson returns to the franchise for which he served as offensive coordinator in 2013 and 2014. He was the quarterbacks coach of the Los Angeles Rams last season.
Guenther spent the past 14 seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals, serving as their defensive coordinator since 2014.

–Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said he is unsure if quarterback Sam Bradford will dress for Sunday’s divisional matchup against the New Orleans Saints.
Zimmer told reporters that Bradford is working his way with the other quarterbacks but “has a ways to go” after completing his fifth practice since returning last week while competing for practice time with Teddy Bridgewater.
Bradford underwent knee surgery on Nov. 7 and was placed on injured reserve.
Also, Vikings cornerback Terrance Newman was limited in practice as he deals with a foot injury and is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game.

–New Orleans Saints wide receiver Brandon Coleman was ruled out of Sunday’s NFC divisional round playoff game against the Minnesota Vikings. Coleman did not practice all week due to a neck injury.
He had four catches for 44 yards last week against Carolina.
Saints linebacker Michael Mauti and third-string quarterback Taysom Hill also did not practice Friday and were both listed as questionable due to illness.

–The Tennessee Titans’ team flight to Boston for Saturday night’s playoff game was delayed about three hours in Nashville.
The delay was caused by an incident involving another plane that slid off the runway at Nashville International Airport, although a spokesperson for the airport said weather was not a factor, per the Tennessean.

–Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis told Brooke Cersosimo of NFL Media that the 2018 season will be his last in the NFL.
Davis, who turns 35 in March, had said this week that he expects his role to be reduced next season, and he anticipated that it would be reduced further in 2019.

–The Denver Broncos could be in the market for a quarterback again — and it appears Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield is on their radar.
With Broncos head coach Vance Joseph and his staff running the North Team in the Senior Bowl, Denver’s brass requested Mayfield be placed on the North squad, Senior Bowl executive director Phil Savage told ESPNU SiriusXM Radio.
The Broncos own the No. 5 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

–New England Patriots wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell has been practicing for a few weeks, but he will not play in Saturday’s playoff game against the Tennessee Titans.
New England did not activate Mitchell to its 53-man roster on Friday, per the NFL transaction wire.
Mitchell has missed the entire season after being placed on injured reserve with a knee injury before the regular-season opener.

–The Kansas City Chiefs hired Deland McCullough as their running backs coach, the team announced. McCullough served as USC’s running backs coach/running game coordinator this past season.

–The Cincinnati Bengals added three assistant coaches, naming Alex Van Pelt as quarterbacks coach, Daronte Jones as cornerbacks coach and Matt Raich as defensive assistant.
–Matt Hasselbeck will replace Jon Gruden on ESPN’s telecast of the Pro Bowl, the network announced.
Hasselbeck will join play-by-play broadcaster Sean McDonough as well as sideline reporter Lisa Salters for the game on Jan. 28. The move could be considered a tryout for the Monday Night Football analyst job that has been left vacant since Gruden was hired as coach of the Oakland Raiders on Tuesday.

–The Cleveland Browns hired Ken Zampese as quarterbacks coach and Adam Henry as wide receivers coach.
The move capped a week of changes on Cleveland’s coaching staff after the team went 0-16.

–The NFL has launched an investigation into whether the Oakland Raiders violated the Rooney Rule during their hiring of Jon Gruden as head coach.
The Fitz Pollard Alliance, an advocacy group that promotes diversity in NFL front offices and coaching staffs, asked the NFL to investigate whether the Raiders reached an agreement with Gruden before interviewing minority candidates.

–Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith was named as a replacement for Philip Rivers of the Los Angeles Chargers on the AFC roster for the upcoming Pro Bowl, the NFL announced

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He Said What?! The Best NFL quotes of week 15

As the Carolina Panthers deal with a pending ownership change, week 15 in the NFL was full of questionable calls by officials.

Panthers owner Jerry Richardson is selling the team after the NFL began an investigation into allegations of workplace misconduct against him.

The Panthers got a controversial touchdown in Sunday’s 31-24 win over the Packers and Green Bay will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

The Jacksonville Jaguars, on the other hand, are back in the postseason for the first time since 2007.

The Rams are also looking at a return to the postseason after a blowout win over the Seahawks in Seattle. It has been a tough year for the Giants and Texans, who have nothing to play for over the final two weeks.

Here’s the latest edition of “He Said What?!”

– Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on the workplace misconduct allegations against Richardson: “I’m very sad. Jerry is one of the really, really, really outstanding men of football that I’ve ever met, and I really admire him. I know that he made it the old-fashioned way. He worked for it… I’m really sad. I want all of those kind of men we can have in the National Football League.”

– Jaguars owner Shad Khan on his team clinching a playoff berth for the first time since 2007: “I’ve been through life when I was a laughing stock, whatever business I was in – auto parts or what have you. You have to stay with it. Success comes. It’s a story of perseverance.”

– NFL official Gene Steratore on using a folded piece of paper as part of measuring for a first down in the Cowboys’ win over the Raiders: “That was already finished. The ball was touching the pole. I put the card in there and as soon as it touched, it was nothing more than a reaffirmation. The decision was made based on my visual from the top looking down and the ball touching the front of the pole.”

– Raiders coach Jack Del Rio on the strange use of paper by Steratore: “Nothing really surprises you after 32 years, but that was unusual.”

– Seahawks coach Pete Carroll on the 42-7 loss to the Rams: “I wasn’t happy with anything. There was nothing about that game. We avoided getting shut out. We scored a touchdown. No, there was nothing to be happy about. That was a really dismal performance by us.”

– Seahawks safety Earl Thomas on whether injured linebacker Bobby Wagner should have played Sunday against the Rams: “You’ve got to give your hats off to Wags and a couple guys that played, but my personal opinion, I don’t think they should have played. I think the backups would have did just as good.”

– Giants quarterback Eli Manning on noise made by Eagles fans at MetLife Stadium: “You don’t think that would happen at home, but I guess when you only win two games you got a lot of Eagles fans and we couldn’t hear the cadence. That’s why we jumped offsides.”

– Texans coach Bill O’Brien on rumours he could resign: “I will never quit as the head football coach of the Houston Texans. Ever… I’ll never resign as the head football coach of the Houston Texans. So, that’s basically where that’s at, and I don’t know where these – I didn’t even read the story, I was told about it a little bit. So, I’m not sure where they come from… I don’t know where those things come from.”

– Panthers quarterback Cam Newton on Damiere Byrd’s questionable touchdown against the Packers: “I guess it pays to have little [butt] cheeks.”

– Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter on containing Julio Jones only to have Falcons running back Devonta Freeman go off for a big night: “We had 10 guys on [Jones] and it made it tough to tackle Freeman with only one guy left.”