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  • RB Conner downgraded to doubtful for Steelers
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, December 15, 2018

    Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner was downgraded to doubtful on the injury report on Saturday, the team announced.

    • That means he's unlikely to play against New England on Sunday in a key AFC matchup for both teams.

      Conner was limited in practice Friday as he continues to recover from a sprained ankle. Without him, the Steelers lost at Oakland last week. Even before Conner went down, Pittsburgh has struggled to find balance on offense of late, particularly the last three games.

      The Steelers-Patriots game is a headliner of Week 15 as Pittsburgh slides into the game on a three-game losing streak, holding a narrow lead over the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC North and at risk of being thrust into a dogfight with numerous teams for the final spot in the AFC playoffs with another loss.

      The Patriots are in the running for the No. 1 seed in the AFC, which would assure home-field advantage through the conference championship game, after the Kansas City Chiefs lost to the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday.

      Conner has 1,376 yards from scrimmage for the Steelers in 2018. He became the team's No. 1 running back amid the holdout of All-Pro LeVeon Bell, who did not report to the team this season.

      --Field Level Media

  • Eagles rule out QB Wentz (back) for Sunday
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, December 15, 2018

    Philadelphia quarterback Carson Wentz will not play Sunday night against the Los Angeles Rams because of a back injury, the Eagles confirmed Saturday.

    • Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles will make his third start of the season in place of Wentz, who had been listed as doubtful after an exam earlier this week revealed a stress fracture. Coach Doug Pederson said the injury could take up to three months to heal.

      Foles, who started the Eagles' first two games as Wentz completed his rehabilitation from a knee injury, has completed 54 of 82 passes for 451 yards with one touchdown and one interception this season.

      Foles played for the Rams when they were still based in St. Louis in 2015, posting a 4-7 record with 2,052 passing yards, seven TDs and 10 picks.

      Wentz likely will finish this season with a 5-6 record. He has completed a career-high 69.6 percent of his passes for 3,074 yards with 21 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

      Philadelphia (6-7) still has a slim chance at a wild-card playoff berth heading into the prime-time contest at Los Angeles (11-2).

      --Field Level Media

  • Chargers' Allen could miss time with hip pointer
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, December 15, 2018

    The bad news for Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen? He could miss some time with a hip pointer suffered in Thursday night's win over the Kansas City Chiefs.

    • The good news, however, is that Allen's diagnosis did not include any structural damage in the hip, and if he is sidelined, it shouldn't be for long, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

      Allen has 88 catches for 1,074 yards for the Chargers, who moved into a tie with the Chiefs atop the AFC West Division at 11-3 with their 29-28 win. He landed hard in the end zone as he came within fingertips of making a highlight reel touchdown catch in the second quarter.

      The Chargers don't play again until Dec. 22, a Saturday night game in Los Angeles against Baltimore, before closing the regular season Dec. 30 at Denver.

      In six NFL seasons, all with the Chargers, Allen has 411 catches for 5,084 yards and 28 touchdowns.

      --Field Level Media

  • Redskins coach Gruden not worried about future
    By Field Level Media / Friday, December 14, 2018

    The Washington Redskins' hopes for a playoff berth are hanging by a thread, but head coach Jay Gruden is not feeling the pressure regarding his future with the organization.

    • In an interview with ESPN, Gruden on Friday said, "It doesn't weigh on me at all. My key works; I come in and work. ... I understand it. You're fine, you're fine, you're fine and then you're not fine. I'll wait to get final word when the season is over."

      After four straight losses (including an embarrassing 40-16 drubbing by the New York Giants on Sunday) and dropping five of their last six games, the Redskins are 6-7 as they prepare for this Sunday's game against the Jaguars in Jacksonville.

      The longest-tenured Redskins coach under Dan Snyder's ownership since the team was bought in 1999, Gruden is five years into his contract, and Washington has not made the playoffs since the 2015 season, when it lost to the Green Bay Packers in the wild-card round.

      "It's not my job to judge [my performance]," said Gruden, who will sit down with Snyder after the season as a coach with two years left on his contract. "It's my job to coach the guys I've got. There's only one judge and he's the one that has all the money. He's the one that writes the checks. It's up to him."

      The Redskins have struggled for various reasons this season, most notably on offense, where they will start their fourth quarterback of 2018 on Sunday. Seventeen of their players are on injured reserve, and that includes five starters on offense led by quarterback Alex Smith.

      Maybe Gruden is not too concerned because the two-year contract extension he received after the 2016 season includes a combined $10 million in fully guaranteed money.

      "He has always been supportive," Gruden said of Snyder. "Never been negative. He gets very upset after losses, as we all do. But he's been very supportive and has tried to do everything he can to help."

      --Field Level Media

  • NFL notebook: Steelers expecting RB Conner back for Pats
    By Field Level Media / Friday, December 14, 2018

    Steelers running back James Conner practiced on a limited basis Friday and is expected to return to the Pittsburgh lineup for a key AFC affair with the New England Patriots on Sunday.

    • Conner was seen walking without a limp after Thursday's practice and declared himself ready to roll, but the Steelers will officially list him as questionable.

      The renewal of the Steelers-Patriots rivalry is a headliner of Week 15 as Pittsburgh slides into the game on a three-game losing streak, holding a narrow lead over the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC North and at risk of being thrust into a dogfight with numerous teams for the final spot in the AFC playoffs with another loss.

      Conner has 1,376 yards from scrimmage and 13 total touchdowns.

      --Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman Zack Martin will miss a game for the first time in his career Sunday, bringing to end a streak of 77 straight regular-season starts.

      A Pro Bowl selection each of his first four seasons and a two-time first-team All-Pro, Martin was ruled out against the Colts because of a knee injury.

      Rookie Connor Williams will start in Martin's place.

      --New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has been ruled out of Sunday's game against the Tennessee Titans as he recovers from an ailing quadriceps, coach Pat Shurmur announced.

      Beckham, originally injured in Week 12 against Philadelphia, missed last Sunday's victory over the Redskins because of the injury.

      Beckham has 77 receptions for 1,052 yards and six touchdowns in 12 games this season.

      --Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Kendall Fuller was to undergo surgery for a fractured wrist Friday and is likely to miss time, NFL Network reported.

      Fuller played with the injury in Thursday's 29-28 loss to the Chargers.

      While a recovery window will reportedly be established once the surgery is performed, it typically takes six weeks for a complete recovery from a wrist fracture. That would stretch to the AFC championship game or even the Super Bowl.

      --Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz was downgraded to doubtful for his team's game against the Rams on the official injury report because of a stress fracture in his back.

      Head coach Doug Pederson said that Wentz will need up to three months for a complete recovery. The team is measuring whether Wentz could do significant damage by playing in a game with the injury.

      --Seattle Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin was a practice participant for the second straight day and is expected to be available when the team visits the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.

      Baldwin missed Monday night's win over the Minnesota Vikings due to a hip injury. The Seahawks listed him as questionable for the game against San Francisco.

      --The New York Jets are placing leading rusher Isaiah Crowell on injured reserve with a toe injury, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

      Coach Todd Bowles said Elijah McGuire (158 yards) and rookie Trenton Cannon (80) will get heavy work in the backfield in an effort to make up for Crowell's production (685 yards, six touchdowns).

      --The NFL indefinitely suspended Oakland Raiders receiver Martavis Bryant for violating his reinstatement terms stemming from a previous ban under the league's substance abuse policy.

      The 27-year-old reportedly violated the NFL's substance abuse policy during the offseason but played through appeal. He was suspended for the first four games of the 2015 season and the entire 2016 season because of positive drug tests while he was with the Steelers.

      --Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott was fined $26,739 for lowering his head to initiate contact Sunday against Philadelphia defensive back Corey Graham, Elliott's second fine in four weeks.

      --First-year Chicago Bears coach Matt Nagy received seven of 10 possible first place votes among a panel of 10 Associated Press football writers asked to name the NFL coach doing the best job this season.

      --The Jacksonville Jaguars signed kicker Kai Forbath in case Josh Lambo (right groin injury) is unable to kick Sunday against the Washington Redskins.

      --New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees finished first in the fan ballot portion of Pro Bowl voting with 1,270,631 votes. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (1,197,370 votes) was second.

      --Field Level Media

  • Saints QB Brees tops all players in Pro Bowl fan vote
    By Field Level Media / Friday, December 14, 2018

    Amid a growing group of young star players around the league, 39-year-old New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees finished the fan ballot portion of Pro Bowl voting with more votes than anyone.

    • The NFL announced the results on Friday from fan voting, which ended a day earlier. The 11-time Pro Bowl passer Brees got 1,270,631 votes to top all players, ahead of second-place Patrick Mahomes (1,197,370 votes), the second-year Kansas City Chiefs QB who has thrown 45 touchdown passes in 14 games in his first season as a starter.

      Rounding out the top five was New York Giants rookie running back Saquon Barkley (987,562 votes), plus a pair of Los Angeles Rams teammates -- running back Todd Gurley (957,052) and quarterback Jared Goff (838,561).

      Seven of the top 10 players receiving votes have three seasons or fewer of NFL experience.

      The fan vote is merely one factor deciding the Pro Bowl rosters, as the league's players and coaches also get the opportunity to make selections -- with their voting done on Friday. The final Pro Bowl rosters will be revealed on Tuesday, Dec. 18 on NFL Network.

      The Pro Bowl will take place on Jan. 27 on Orlando.

      NFL PRO BOWL -- TOP-10 VOTE-GETTERS, FAN VOTE

      1. Saints QB Drew Brees, 1,270,631

      2. Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes, 1,197,370

      3. Giants RB Saquon Barkley, 987,562

      4. Rams RB Todd Gurley, 957,052

      5. Rams QB Jared Goff, 838,561

      6. Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott, 827,888

      7. Steelers RB James Conner, 817,495

      8. Steelers WR Antonio Brown, 778,630

      9. Saints RB Alvin Kamara, 776,846

      10. Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill, 753,981

      --Field Level Media

  • Seahawks WR Baldwin expected to play versus 49ers
    By Field Level Media / Friday, December 14, 2018

    Seattle Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin was a practice participant for the second straight day on Friday and is expected to be available when the team visits the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.

    • Baldwin missed Monday night's win over the Minnesota Vikings due to a hip injury. The Seahawks listed him as questionable for the game against San Francisco.

      Meanwhile, linebacker K.J. Wright (knee), running back Rashaad Penny (knee) and safety Maurice Alexander (concussion) were ruled out of the contest. Guard D.J. Fluker (hamstring) is doubtful.

      Baldwin has dealt with numerous injuries this season -- knee, groin, elbow, hip -- but has missed just three of Seattle's 13 games. He had 37 catches for 388 yards and two touchdowns.

      "Doug did really well," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said of Friday's workout. "He practiced, made it through it today. He did fine. It looks like he's playing."

      Wright will miss his fifth straight game. He has played in just three contests this season.

      "We're going to leave him home so that he can really work hard on it so next week he can have a chance to practice on Wednesday and we'll just take it one day at a time and see how he goes," Carroll told reporters. "He's optimistic about it and we are, but we really won't know until the end of next week where he is."

      Penny was injured against the Vikings.

      "He came out of the game last week with a sore knee and it didn't respond quickly enough to get back for this week, so we're going to leave him (in Seattle) so he can get treated over the weekend," Carroll said. "After about Tuesday or Wednesday, we'll know a little bit more. We'll let you know next week."

      Defensive tackle Jarran Reed (oblique) and safety Bradley McDougald (knee) were listed as questionable, and Carroll expects both to play.

      --Field Level Media

  • Raiders WR Bryant suspended indefinitely
    By Field Level Media / Friday, December 14, 2018

    The NFL on Friday indefinitely suspended Oakland Raiders receiver Martavis Bryant for violating his reinstatement terms stemming from a previous ban under the league's substance abuse policy.

    • Bryant was allowed to play this season while he appealed a one-year suspension. He went on injured reserve earlier this month with a knee injury suffered on Nov. 11 during a game against the Los Angeles Chargers.

      "Effective immediately, Martavis Bryant has been returned to the Reserve/Commissioner Suspended list indefinitely for violating the terms of his April 2017 conditional reinstatement under the Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse," the league said in a statement.

      Bryant, who turns 27 next Thursday, reportedly violated the NFL's substance abuse policy during the offseason.

      The Clemson product was suspended for the first four games of the 2015 season and the entire 2016 season because of positive drug tests while he was with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

      The Raiders initially released Bryant on Sept. 1 but resigned him 11 days later when the NFL ruled he could play while appealing the penalty.

      Bryant had 19 receptions for 266 yards in eight games for the Raiders this season.

      --Field Level Media

  • Cowboys OL Martin (knee) to miss game for first time
    By Field Level Media / Friday, December 14, 2018

    Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman Zack Martin, who has started all 77 games of his career since the team selected him in the first round out of Notre Dame in the 2014 NFL Draft, will see his streak end on Sunday.

    • A Pro Bowl selection each of his first four seasons and a two-time first-team All-Pro, Martin was ruled out for the game against the Indianapolis Colts because of a knee injury on Friday.

      Connor Williams, who took for Martin last week when the latter aggravated a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee during a win over the Philadelphia Eagles, will start in Martin's place. The rookie out of Texas actually started the first seven games of the season at left guard for Dallas but underwent knee surgery in October and lost that job to Xavier Su'a-Filo.

      "He did a good job in the [Eagles] game going in there and playing," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett told the media of Williams. "I thought he handled that work well. He'll benefit from that experience and then he's come back and had a good week so far."

      The Cowboys hope to have Martin back this season, at least for the playoffs, if not for the Dec. 23 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

      Also Friday, the Cowboys listed linebacker Sean Lee (hamstring pull) and wide receiver Tavon Austin (groin injury) as questionable.

      --Field Level Media

  • Cowboys' Elliott gets fined $26K for helmet hit
    By Field Level Media / Friday, December 14, 2018

    Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, the first offensive player penalized this season for the helmet rule, was fined $26,739 on Friday for lowering his head to initiate contact Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles.

    • The action occurred against defensive back Corey Graham in a game the Cowboys won 29-23.

      Elliott is appealing the fine, which is the second he has received in four weeks. He was fined $13,369 for unsportsmanlike conduct after donating $21 into the Salvation Army kettle following a Thanksgiving Day touchdown against Washington on Nov. 22.

      Delivering the hit against the Eagles, Elliott also struggled to recover. He went to the blue medical tent and missed five plays, saying he briefly lost feeling in his arm.

      "I mean when you're on that sideline, I've got to protect myself," Elliott said. "And if a guy's going low, I've got to go low, too. The rule is meant for the betterment of the game. The rule is for our safety, and if there was illegal helmet-to-helmet contact on there, that's something I need to go look at and work on. That's not OK. It's just a tough play."

      Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, while not defending his player 100 percent, did understand Elliott's rationale.

      "We're just making some calls here that are tough, but we're doing it for protection and safety," Jones said. "That's the biggest question being asked: How do you play? ... I don't want Zeke to stop punishing them on the end of his runs. Upon further review, they both tucked their heads. Zeke is a punishing runner. That's what we want in the NFL. That is a physical aspect of football that we want to give our fans. I'll certainly do everything I can to not make those kinds of things penalties."

      According to Kevin Seifert of ESPN, officials threw 10 flags for use of helmet -- all against defensive players -- through the first 13 weeks of the season.

      --Field Level Media

  • Jaguars sign K Forbath as insurance for injured Lambo
    By Field Level Media / Friday, December 14, 2018

    The Jacksonville Jaguars signed kicker Kai Forbath on Friday in case Josh Lambo is unable to kick Sunday against the Washington Redskins.

    • Lambo suffered a right groin injury during Thursday's practice and is listed as questionable on the injury report released Friday.

      Jacksonville coach Doug Marrone said he has no idea if Lambo can recover in time to kick on Sunday.

      "We don't really know how it's going to go," Marrone told reporters of Lambo. "It's not a lot of time between now and Sunday for an injury like that. We're going to take it day-by-day, probably up until game time."

      Lambo, 28, is 19 of 21 on field-goal attempts this season and 38 of 41 in two seasons with the Jaguars. He spent his first two NFL seasons with the then-San Diego Chargers and is 90 of 105 on field goals in his career.

      Forbath hasn't kicked in the NFL this season after being cut by the Minnesota Vikings in training camp.

      Forbath, 31, kicked a career-best 32 field goals (in 38 attempts) for the Vikings in 2017 in his second season with the team.

      The UCLA product also kicked for the Washington Redskins (2012-15) and New Orleans Saints (2015). He has made 116 of 135 career field-goal attempts while scoring 517 points.

      Forbath worked out for the Pittsburgh Steelers earlier this week.

      Jacksonville placed linebacker Leon Jacobs (quadriceps) on injured reserve to open up the roster spot.

      Also, starting right tackle Jermey Parnell (knee), wideout DJ Chark Jr. (quadriceps) and offensive lineman Josh Walker (foot) will miss the game against Washington, the team announced.

      --Field Level Media

  • Steelers RB Conner practices, questionable to face Patriots
    By Field Level Media / Friday, December 14, 2018

    Steelers running back James Conner was limited in practice Friday and is expected to return to the Pittsburgh lineup for a key AFC affair with the New England Patriots on Sunday.

    • Conner was seen walking without a limp after Thursday's practice and declared himself ready to roll, but the Steelers will officially list him as questionable.

      The renewal of the Steelers-Patriots rivalry is a headliner of Week 15 as Pittsburgh slides into the game on a three-game losing streak, holding a narrow lead over the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC North and at risk of being thrust into a dogfight with numerous teams for the final spot in the AFC playoffs with another loss.

      With three games to play in the regular season, the Steelers welcome the return of Conner from a sprained ankle. Without him, the Steelers lost at Oakland last week. Even before Conner went down, Pittsburgh has struggled to find balance on offense of late, particularly the last three games.

      Including the postseason, New England has won nine of the 12 games against the Steelers since Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger entered the NFL.

      The Patriots are in the running for the No. 1 seed in the AFC, which would assure home-field advantage through the conference championship game, after the Kansas City Chiefs lost to the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday.

      Conner was thrust into a key role in his second season when Le'Veon Bell opted to hold out after being designated the team's franchise player for the second consecutive season.

      Conner has 1,376 yards from scrimmage for the Steelers in 2018.

      --Field Level Media

  • Bears' Nagy named top coach by AP panel
    By Field Level Media / Friday, December 14, 2018

    First-year Chicago Bears coach Matt Nagy received seven of 10 possible first place votes among a panel of 10 Associated Press football writers asked to name the NFL coach doing the best job this season.

    • Nagy, who was previously the Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator, finished ahead of Pete Carroll.

      In his first year at the helm, Nagy has guided the Bears to a 9-4 record and is on the verge of clinching a playoff berth. The Bears hadn't won nine games in a season since going 10-6 in 2012 and haven't been to the playoffs since 2010.

      A win in Chicago against Green Bay on Sunday or a loss by the Minnesota Vikings will clinch a playoff spot for the NFC North leading Bears.

      Carroll's Seahawks can also clinch this week despite a defense decimated by injuries and departures. Carroll didn't receive any first-place votes; Bill Belichick (New England Patriots, 2 votes) and Frank Reich (Indianapolis Colts, 1) were the other coaches picked.

      Belichick finished in ninth place despite the two No. 1 votes.

      --Field Level Media

  • Giants WR Beckham ruled out vs. Titans
    By Field Level Media / Friday, December 14, 2018

    New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has been ruled out of Sunday's game against the Tennessee Titans as he recovers from an ailing quadriceps, coach Pat Shurmur announced Friday.

    • Beckham missed last Sunday's victory over the Washington Redskins due to the injury and was held out of Thursday's practice after being a limited participant the day before.

      He was initially hurt during a Week 12 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

      Beckham had the leg evaluated by doctors Thursday and at the time expressed optimism.

      "I honestly don't know until Sunday gets here," Beckham told reporters on Thursday. "It has just been getting better each and every day."

      Beckham was blunt when asked to describe the nature of the injury.

      "I don't know. It's like saying I broke my leg but you really fractured it. It's a choice of words," Beckham said. "Whatever you want to call it, (bleep) ain't right."

      Beckham has 77 receptions for 1,052 yards and six touchdowns in 12 games this season.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Jets place RB Crowell on IR
    By Field Level Media / Friday, December 14, 2018

    The New York Jets had already ruled out leading rusher Isaiah Crowell for Saturday's home game against the Houston Texans, but now it appears he's done for the season.

    • The team is placing Crowell on injured reserve with a toe injury, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

      Saturday's absence will be the first of Crowell's career after playing in 77 consecutive games. He has 685 yards and six touchdowns this season.

      Crowell set a franchise record with 219 rushing yards against the Denver Broncos earlier this season but has topped 50 just once over the past eight games.

      Coach Todd Bowles said Elijah McGuire (158 yards) and rookie Trenton Cannon (80) will get heavy work in the backfield.

      Leading receiver Quincy Enunwa will also miss Saturday's game with an ankle injury.

      Enunwa has a team-best 38 receptions but hasn't recorded a 100-yard game this season. His 449 yards are second to Robby Anderson's 492.

      --Field Level Media

  • Eagles downgrade QB Wentz to doubtful vs. Rams
    By Field Level Media / Friday, December 14, 2018

    Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz was downgraded to doubtful on the official injury report released after 4 p.m. ET on Friday a stress fracture in his back.

    • Earlier in the day, head coach Doug Pederson announced Wentz would be listed as questionable for Sunday's game despite never taking the practice field this week.

      Wentz, who was on the field lightly jogging the past two days, is expected to give way to Nick Foles at quarterback when the Eagles visit the Rams on Sunday.

      Heavily frustrated with the media during a question and answer session Friday, Pederson said that Wentz will need up to three months for a complete recovery. The team is measuring whether Wentz could do significant damage by playing in a game with the injury.

      "He has a stress injury that evolved over time and it won't require surgery," Pederson said.

      NFL players have taken the field with known back injuries, especially the compression fracture known as transverse process. That injury is considered less serious.

      "If we put him out there, there has to be 100 percent that there is no risk of anything further," Pederson said.

      Foles, who was Super Bowl MVP with the Eagles in February, started the first two games this season and went 1-1 while Wentz was recovering from knee surgery.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Chiefs CB Fuller out with broken wrist
    By Field Level Media / Friday, December 14, 2018

    Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Kendall Fuller is likely to miss time with a fractured wrist, NFL Network reported Friday.

    • Fuller played with the injury Thursday in a one-point loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.

      NFL Network reported Fuller was scheduled for surgery on Friday, at which time a recovery window could be established.

      The injury comes just as All-Pro safety Eric Berry returned to the lineup for the first time this season. Berry, out with a heel injury since August, played in the first half of Thursday's game as part of a predetermined plan.

      It typically takes six weeks for a complete recovery from a wrist fracture. If Fuller sits out until he's completely recovered, he would be near a return for the AFC Championship game and Super Bowl.

      --Field Level Media

  • NFL notebook: Wentz reportedly fractured vertebra
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, December 13, 2018

    Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz has a fractured vertebra in his back that might keep him out of Sunday's game, according to multiple reports.

    • Wentz underwent an MRI exam and other tests Thursday to discover the source of his discomfort and soreness. A CT scan on Wednesday had come back inconclusive, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

      The Eagles are in the process of determining the risk of Wentz continuing to play this season. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that Wentz will not require surgery.

      Rapoport reported Wentz is not likely to play Sunday and may not play again in 2018 as the team continues to gather information on his health. The 25-year-old has passed for 3,074 yards and 21 touchdowns against seven interceptions this season. Without Wentz, Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles would take over for the Eagles.

      --New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. missed practice because of his ailing quadriceps and isn't all that positive he will play against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.

      Beckham missed last Sunday's victory over the Washington Redskins due to the injury. He initially was hurt during a Week 12 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

      Beckham had the leg evaluated by doctors Thursday as the team looks for answers. He said he will return to the field when he feels fit.

      --The Cleveland Browns have ruled starting cornerback Denzel Ward out of Saturday's game in Denver with a concussion.

      It will be the second consecutive game the rookie has missed following the concussion he incurred against the Houston Texans. It's possible Ward could be shut down for the season's final two games, as well.

      Ward, the No. 4 overall pick in April's draft, entered the Texans' game with three interceptions and 11 passes defensed in 11 games.

      --The New York Jets will be missing leading rusher Isaiah Crowell and leading receiver Quincy Enunwa when they host the Houston Texans on Saturday, the team announced.

      Crowell will sit out with a toe injury, while Enunwa will miss the contest with an ankle injury.

      The absence will be the first of Crowell's career after playing in 77 consecutive games.

      --Eric Berry (heel) will start Thursday night, making his season debut in the Kansas City Chiefs' biggest game to date.

      Citing a source informed of the situation, NFL.com's Ian Rapoport reported that Berry will start and be on a snap count at home against the Los Angeles Chargers. He officially was listed as questionable after practicing on a limited basis all week.

      The Chiefs (11-2) and Chargers (10-3) have the two best records in the AFC.

      --Chargers running back Melvin Gordon will sit out the AFC West Division showdown at the first-place Chiefs.

      Gordon missed the previous two games after spraining his right knee on Nov. 25 in a 45-10 win vs. the Arizona Cardinals. He was made inactive for the Thursday night contest.

      The Chargers promoted running back Troymaine Pope from the practice squad earlier in the day.

      --A defunct Dallas nightclub and former Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Josh Brent will share responsibility for a $25 million award in the death of his teammate and best friend, Jerry Brown, six years ago.

      Brown, 25, was killed Dec. 8, 2012, in Irving, Texas, when the Mercedes-Benz that Brent was driving flipped over. Brent was driving 110 miles per hour in a 45 mph zone at the time of the accident. He had a blood-alcohol content of 0.18 percent, or more than twice the legal limit.

      The jury placed 48 percent of the blame on Brent and the other 48 percent on Beamers, the former club where Brent had been drinking that night. Brown was found to have the remaining 4 percent of the blame because he got in the car with Brent and didn't use his seat belt.

      --The New Orleans Saints released tight end Erik Swoope, one day after claiming him off waivers from the Indianapolis Colts, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported.

      Swoope, 26, was waived by the Colts on Tuesday for the second time this season. He had eight catches for 87 yards and three touchdowns in seven games for Indianapolis this season.

      --Field Level Media

  • Saints await Panthers with home-field edge in mind
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, December 13, 2018

    The New Orleans Saints have accomplished one of their goals. There is much more to achieve for the NFC South champions.

    • They'll have to do some of this additional work against the Carolina Panthers.

      The teams will meet twice across the final three weeks of the regular season, including Monday night at Bank of America Stadium.

      "Obviously, we're playing for a lot right now," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "Teams start out the season, they talk about winning their division."

      The Saints (11-2) have clinched NFC South titles in back-to-back seasons for the first time in franchise history. They're in line to hold home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs depending on what happens the next few games.

      "You're hopefully improving each week and making the corrections," Payton said. "For us, it's still week-to-week."

      The Panthers (6-7) are trying to return to the playoffs for the second year in a row as a wild-card entry. With a five-game losing streak, the list of concerns has grown substantially, but they've insisted that there's a reasonable way to be playing into January.

      "We're in a position where we're done with the cliche sayings," quarterback Cam Newton said. "It just comes down to us doing our job. That's pretty much what it is."

      Barely more than a month ago, it looked like this December stretch that included a couple of games with the Saints would constitute a divisional showdown. That was before the skid struck the Panthers.

      Carolina coach Ron Rivera has stressed that not all is lost and there's a chance to turn things around.

      "All you need is a chance," he said.

      That's clearly the outlook that has been circulating among the Panthers since last weekend's loss at Cleveland.

      "We're going to continue to play hard and continue to stick together," defensive end Julius Peppers said. "We are going to keep trying to get it right. ... Our focus is going to (be on the Saints). There is really nowhere else to turn to. It's the next game."

      It's a prime-time game, something players said is worth savoring. It was a Thursday night outing at Pittsburgh that went awry and started Carolina's five-game slump.

      The Saints won all three matchups last season with Carolina, including a playoff encounter.

      After the end of the 2017 season, the Panthers made coaching personnel changes on offense and brought in Norv Turner as the coordinator. Less than two weeks ago, two defensive assistants were fired and Rivera took over the primary defensive play-calling duties.

      Through all this, Carolina players say they're the ones accountable.

      "We had high expectations for the season and unfortunately it hasn't been going our way," safety Mike Adams said. "At the end of the day, the only people we can blame are ourselves. We're put in great positions to make plays and we just haven't been making them."

      New Orleans had about six slow quarters on offense before a productive second half at Tampa Bay in the divisional-clinching victory last Sunday.

      "It was important for us to get our momentum going and get back to what we're doing," Saints running back Mark Ingram said.

      The Panthers have played only one of their past five games at home, falling to Seattle in that outing.

      New Orleans holds a league-best 6-1 road mark heading into its final regular-season game away from home. The Saints close at home against Pittsburgh and Carolina in the bid for the top mark in the NFC.

      --Field Level Media

  • RB Gordon inactive for Chargers-Chiefs showdown
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, December 13, 2018

    Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon will sit out Thursday night's AFC West Division showdown at the first-place Kansas City Chiefs.

    • Gordon, one of six NFL players with 800 rushing yards and 400 receiving yards this season, missed the previous two games after spraining his right knee on Nov. 25 in a 45-10 win vs. the Arizona Cardinals. He was made inactive for the Thursday night contest.

      The Chargers (10-3) entered the night one game back of the Chiefs (11-2), who already have clinched a playoff berth.

      Gordon leads the Chargers with 802 rushing yards, including nine touchdowns. The 15th overall pick in the 2015 draft also has 44 catches for 453 yards and four touchdowns this season.

      In the Week 1 opener against the Chiefs, Gordon rushed for only 64 yards on 15 carries, while catching nine passes for 102 yards in a 38-28 loss in Los Angeles.

      Backup Austin Ekeler is also on the inactive list after sustaining a concussion last week in Los Angeles' 26-21 win at the Cincinnati Bengals.

      Ekeler is the Chargers' second-leading rusher, running for 496 yards and two touchdowns on 98 carries. The undrafted 23-year-old from Western State also has 39 receptions for 404 yards and three touchdowns this season.

      With Gordon in the lineup, the Chargers are averaging 137.0 rushing yards, but just 72.3 yards without him.

      "I've been grinding hard to get back and we're still trying to decide what we're going to do," Gordon told reporters on Tuesday. "I know Coach (Anthony Lynn) is trying to be careful and doesn't want me to further hurt myself or things like that. So we'll see where that goes, but I'm a lot stronger and more confident than I was last week."

      Rookies Justin Jackson and Detrez Newsome are likely to be the Chargers' featured running backs on Thursday night.

      Chargers nose tackle Brandon Mebane, who missed the past two weeks while tending to his ill infant daughter, was inactive again for the Thursday game.

      For the Chiefs, safety Eric Berry (heel) and wide receiver Tyreek Hill (heel/wrist) were on the active roster Thursday. Kansas City's inactive players included running back Spencer Ware (shoulder/hamstring), wide receiver Sammy Watkins (foot) and guard Cameron Erving (knee).

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Saints release TE Swoope
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, December 13, 2018

    The New Orleans Saints released tight end Erik Swoope on Thursday, one day after claiming him off waivers from the Indianapolis Colts, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported.

    • Swoope, 26, was waived by the Colts on Tuesday for the second time this season. He had eight catches for 87 yards and three touchdowns in seven games for Indianapolis this season, having spent part of the year on the practice squad and missing several games due to injury.

      The Saints did not immediately confirm the transaction, but Swoope did not practice on Thursday, according to NOLA.com. The team listed him as a non-participant because of a knee injury.

      --Field Level Media

  • Jury issues $25M verdict against former Cowboys DT, club
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, December 13, 2018

    A defunct Dallas nightclub and former Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Josh Brent will share responsibility for a $25 million award in the death of his teammate and best friend, Jerry Brown, six years ago.

    • Brown, 25, was killed Dec. 8, 2012, in Irving, Texas, when the Mercedes-Benz that Brent was driving flipped over. Brent was driving 110 miles per hour in a 45 mph zone at the time of the accident. He had a blood-alcohol content of 0.18 percent, or more than twice the legal limit.

      The jury placed 48 percent of the blame on Brent and the other 48 percent on Beamers, the former club where Brent had been drinking that night. Brown was found to have the remaining 4 percent of the blame because he got in the car with Brent and didn't use his seat belt.

      Brown's mother, Stacey Jackson, will receive the money on behalf of his estate. She said some of the payout will go to a nonprofit organization she started in her son's name.

      Jackson and the estate had asked for an award of as much as $95 million, primarily from the club.

      Attorneys for the club said in court during their arguments that Brent was not drunk when he left the establishment. The crash occurred six minutes later.

      The civil verdict puts an end to legal proceedings in the case. In a 2014 criminal trial, Brent was convicted of intoxication manslaughter and received a 10-year suspended prison sentence.

      He now is a scouting intern for the Cowboys.

      --Field Level Media

  • Chiefs S Berry returns, plays only first half
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, December 13, 2018

    Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry made an abbreviated return to action Thursday night.

    • The five-time Pro Bowl performer played the first half of the Chiefs' 29-28 defeat to the Los Angeles Chargers but sat out the second half as part of team's previously scripted plan.

      Berry, 29, had been out all season with a right Achilles tendon issue after missing all but the season opener last year due to a torn left Achilles tendon.

      With Berry on the field for the first two quarters -- and notching a team-high six tackles -- the Chiefs charged to a 14-7 halftime lead. Without Berry on the field after the break, the Chargers rallied for three touchdowns, the last two in the final four minutes.

      Los Angeles won the game on a touchdown and two-point conversion with four seconds to play, both on throws from Philip Rivers to Mike Williams.

      Berry said postgame of the strategy of playing him only the first half, "We just wanted to be smart about the whole situation. We came in with a plan, and we just stuck with it. We didn't want to push it past that, so we just stayed true to that.

      "That was between me and (coach Andy Reid). We just talked about it and felt I was good where I was at."

      Reid said of Berry's performance, "I thought he did OK. There were a couple he'd want back, but I thought he did good. He hasn't played, he hasn't had pads on since training camp. That was only for a couple of days. It was kind of expected (that we would take it) nice and slow. We didn't expect him to play the whole game.

      "He had his reps in that first half, and we just kind of backed off. We were going to see how he felt as we went. He gave us some good snaps."

      Berry was officially listed as questionable pregame after practicing on a limited basis all week.

      A three-time first-team All-Pro in just five full seasons on the field, Berry has 14 career interceptions and 440 tackles.

      --Field Level Media

  • Take 5: Steelers' D vs. Brady headlines Week 15
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, December 13, 2018

    The Pittsburgh Steelers haven't beaten the New England Patriots since 2011.

    • In the five losses since, Pittsburgh allowed 34.6 points per game, never holding New England to less than 27. Tom Brady totaled 1,624 yards, 14 touchdowns and one interception, while Rob Gronkowski had 498 yards and five scores despite missing a game. You get the idea.

      Ben Roethlisberger & Co. might win a shootout, but it sure would help if the Steelers' defense could stem the tide.

      1. Pittsburgh still searching for Brady antidote

      After Brady torched their passive zones in the 2016 AFC championship game, the Steelers spent 2017 preparing with a different approach predicated on man coverage.

      It worked OK last December, but safety Sean Davis couldn't handle Gronkowski (nine catches, 168 yards) late. Gronk totaled 69 yards on what proved to be -- thanks to the old catch rule -- the game-winning drive.

      This season, coordinator Keith Butler has relied more on matchup zones, many of which function like Cover-1 blitz (man coverage, one deep safety and five rushers).

      That sounds simple, but Butler creates confusion by varying which five are rushing, often dropping pass-rushers T.J. Watt or Bud Dupree and blitzing inside linebacker Vince Williams or slot corner Mike Hilton. Through disguise these blitzes often come free -- and when they don't, Williams (4.5 sacks, 10 QB hits) can bowl over running backs or swim past guards.

      Meanwhile, Davis plays center field as five others pattern-match to routes from off-coverage, keeping eyes on the quarterback and looking for turnovers.

      Against the Patriots, however, these tactics might be fruitless unless executed with razor-sharp precision.

      While some (namely the Titans) have blitzed Brady successfully this year, the Steelers' fifth rusher will often arrive too late to factor. Brady distributes quicker than anyone, especially against off-coverage.

      More importantly, New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is a master of motion and intertwined releases from stack and bunch sets, creating rubs and confusion off the snap. Such designs can blur pattern-matching responsibilities and create blown coverages, which have plagued Pittsburgh at times. When the Steelers match correctly, shrewd designs will still create mismatches (like rookie safety Terrell Edmunds on Josh Gordon, or Watt on James White or Gronkowski).

      Pittsburgh's D isn't necessarily doomed again, but it must be extremely sharp to play this style.

      Most helpful might be otherworldly performances from inside rushers Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt and Javon Hargrave. All three can dominate for stretches, but they must push the pocket quickly and often to disrupt Brady.

      2. Bears could get sack-happy vs. Packers

      Green Bay's offense wasn't schematically different in its first game post-Mike McCarthy, but Aaron Rodgers' ball placement was much sharper last Sunday against Atlanta. He minimized the low-and-left misfires and hit tight windows downfield, especially on back-shoulder throws.

      That sharpness will be needed in Chicago, but it might not matter if Rodgers holds the ball the way he did against Atlanta. Despite the Falcons' middling rush, Rodgers took four sacks and needed superhuman efforts to evade others. A handful of blitzes caught Rodgers off-guard, freezing him and leading to sacks or hits.

      The Bears' rush (20 sacks over the last six games) is much more dangerous and often has more time to win because Chicago's disguised coverages take longer to identify. The Packers could again be without right tackle Bryan Bulaga (knee) and have injury questions at guard (Lane Taylor, foot; Byron Bell on IR).

      In Week 1, the Bears sacked Rodgers twice in 18 minutes before he was hurt; he then distributed more quickly after returning hobbled. Healthy again, Rodgers might opt more for sandlot-mode Sunday. Secretly, that might be what Khalil Mack & Co. prefer.

      3. Cowboys looking at mirror-image defense

      While studying the Colts' defense this week, the Cowboys probably see a version of themselves from 2015 or '16.

      Indy's unit -- coordinated by former Dallas linebackers coach Matt Eberflus -- is built around the same zone concepts and D-line slants and stunts that Cowboys coordinator Rod Marinelli has long favored. It's also littered with unheralded starters, much like Marinelli's group before stars emerged the past two seasons.

      One lesser-known Colt is Denico Autry, the reigning AFC Defensive Player of the Week with five sacks in the last two games. Some were merely clean-ups, but the violent and undersized interior lineman is dangerous as a slanting penetrator or looper, and Dallas could be vulnerable with guard Zack Martin (knee) ailing.

      In coverage, the Colts will likely use more Cover-3 than Cover-2 to get an extra safety in the box against Ezekiel Elliott. Dak Prescott must take advantage by hitting intermediate and deep seams without the erratic overthrows that have cropped up recently.

      4. How will the Rams counter Ertz?

      Whether it's Carson Wentz or Nick Foles playing quarterback, Philadelphia's offense runs through tight end Zach Ertz, who presents a few matchup concerns for Los Angeles.

      When playing zone, Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips leans toward Cover-3, but the Eagles have done well to spring Ertz in Cover-3 seams out of concepts featuring multiple vertical routes. The Rams could counter with more Cover-4 (quarters), which would often put a safety over the top and a linebacker underneath the tight end.

      In man coverage, safety John Johnson and linebacker Cory Littleton usually handle opposing tight ends, but both have concerns against Ertz: Johnson's smaller frame can be boxed out while Littleton's aggressiveness is risky against crafty route-runners.

      Don't be surprised if Phillips counters Ertz with cornerback Aqib Talib, who has the twitchiness to mirror and the length and physicality to disrupt at the catch point. Talib looked more comfortable in Week 14, his second game back from injury, and has matched tight ends well before.

      5. Jackson draws improved Bucs' D

      Though not stingy, Tampa Bay's defense has been far more competitive under interim coordinator Mark Duffner. Duffner mostly scrapped Mike Smith's traditional zone coverages -- where defenders drop to landmarks on the field and react from there -- to matchup zones that adapt to given routes. The approach has curbed explosive gains while creating tighter windows between the numbers.

      Now officially the Ravens' starting quarterback, Lamar Jackson has been touch-and-go as a passer. Often erratic outside, he's most comfortable between the numbers, which makes this his biggest test yet through the air after facing four of the NFL's worst defenses. If his ball placement wavers, turnovers could follow -- the Bucs have seven picks and eight takeaways in the last three games.

      Still, with the Ravens' defense and run game (of which Jackson is a huge part) at their best over the last month, the rookie quarterback shouldn't have to throw often. The Bucs have allowed 5.4 yards per carry since Week 7 (third-worst over that span), when linebacker Kwon Alexander tore his ACL, but also when rookie defensive tackle Vita Vea began starting.

      Vea flashes the brute strength and nimble feet that got him picked 12th overall, but he often plays too high, undermining his leverage. He's been slow to diagnose backfield action, making him late following the ball and shedding his blocker before the runner goes by. That's very common for rookies and will improve with time, but it could prove disastrous against Baltimore's wealth of misdirection designs involving Jackson.

      --David DeChant, Field Level Media

  • Giants WR Beckham unsure if he'll return Sunday
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, December 13, 2018

    New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. missed Thursday's practice because of his ailing quadriceps and isn't all that positive he will play against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.

    • "I honestly don't know until Sunday gets here," Beckham told reporters on Thursday. "It has just been getting better each and every day."

      Beckham missed last Sunday's victory over the Washington Redskins due to the injury. He was initially hurt during a Week 12 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

      Beckham had the leg evaluated by doctors Thursday as the team looks for answers.

      "We're just getting it checked out," Giants coach Pat Shurmur said earlier Thursday. "Doesn't mean anything."

      Beckham was blunt when asked to describe the nature of the injury.

      "I don't know. It's like saying I broke my leg but you really fractured it. It's a choice of words," Beckham said. "Whatever you want to call it, (bleep) ain't right."

      Beckham said he will return to the field when he feels fit.

      "Whenever it's better, I'll definitely be out there," Beckham said. "I don't even like missing practice. So whenever I can run, I'll be running."

      Beckham has 77 receptions for 1,052 yards and six touchdowns in 12 games this season.

      --Field Level Media