NFL Week 15 News and Notes

Re: NFL Week 15 News and Notes

Moore to start at QB?
PantherInsider.com

With the Panthers all but out of the playoffs at 5-8, coach John Fox was non-committal as to who will start at quarterback next Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks There's a chance the Panthers could wind up playing undrafted rookie Matt Moore.

With the Panthers all but out of the playoffs at 5-8, coach John Fox was non-committal as to who will start at quarterback next Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks

There's a chance the Panthers could wind up playing undrafted rookie Matt Moore.

As for who will start next week, Fox's official response was, "Let us look at the tape first."

Moore relieved an ineffective Vinny Testaverde in the fourth quarter, but struggled to move the team, picking up only one first down on two possessions. He completed three of 10 passes for just 21 yards as the Panthers were rocked by Jacksonville 37-6.

Moore has seen action in six games for the Panthers, but has yet to throw a touchdown pass.

On Sunday, Testaverde started his fifth game of the season for the Panthers and was not effective, completing 13 of 28 passes for 84 yards with one interception that was returned 39 yards for a touchdown. The Panthers had less than 100 yards total offense with him at the helm.

"I'm disappointed," Testaverde said. "I feel like I missed some throws that I could have had -- the interception for one. There were quite a few plays out there that we let get away today."

It seems unlikely that David Carr would be an option since he inspires no confidence.

Carr was the team's third-string quarterback for the third straight week.

When asked if he feels like Fox has lost confidence in him as a leader, Carr replied, "I don't know what it is. I know we have a lack of a lot of things right now. It could be, but I don't have a lack of confidence in myself because I know what goes on on the field every day (in practice). I feel good about myself."

Carr has started four games for the Panthers, winning just one.

He has completed 53 percent of his passes, but only for 4.6 yards per pass attempt. He has looked nervous in the pocket and been sacked 13 times.

Overall, he has not been impressive to say the least.

But does Carr, who suffered through back problems and two concussions, feel like he was given enough time to showcase his skills?

"As a competitor you never feel like you are doing anything to hurt the team," Carr said. "You feel like you out there trying to help the team. We have just had a rough year this year all around. I can't feel selfish about it and feel bad for myself. The whole team has struggled and it's been tough."

Fox was frustrated that his offense regressed after a 31-point outburst last week against San Francisco.

Fox said the offense's woes are forcing the defense to remain on the field too long.

Jacksonville owned nearly the ball for nearly 39 minutes.

"That's been the story in several of our losses," Fox said. "We turned it over early in the third at an inopportune time. We're not generating enough on offense, for us to stay fresh enough as a football team to feel like we can compete for four quarters."

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Re: NFL Week 15 News and Notes

Roethlisberger misses practice again
ASSOCIATED PRESS

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger missed practice again Thursday because of a sore right shoulder, with Charlie Batch running the starting offense in his place.

On Tuesday, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Roethlisberger's problem wasn't a major one and, ''I don't want to make more out of it than what it is.''

The Steelers haven't updated Roethlisberger's condition since then. Tomlin said Roethlisberger's status would be updated Friday.

It is common for Steelers players who have relatively minor injuries to miss a day or two of practice, then take part in the final practice of the week Friday and play on Sunday.

Batch hasn't started a game since the 2006 opener, when he threw three touchdown passes in a 28-17 victory over Miami. Roethlisberger, who missed that game after having appendicitis, has started each of the Steelers' 28 games since then.

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Re: NFL Week 15 News and Notes

Colts planning to be without four starters against Oakland
ASSOCIATED PRESS

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts are planning to be without four starters for Sunday's game at Oakland.

Coach Tony Dungy said Wednesday receiver Marvin Harrison (bruised left knee), defensive tackle Raheem Brock (ribs), safety Antoine Bethea (sprained left knee) and defensive end Robert Mathis (two sprained knees) are all expected to sit out this week.

''We'll probably hold Robert out unless he makes a miraculous recovery, and we'll probably hold Antoine out, too,'' Dungy said. ''I don't know the severity of the injuries or how long they'll be out, but I don't think they'll play this week.''

Bethea and Mathis were injured during last Sunday's 44-20 rout in Baltimore. Neither finished the game, but most of the Colts starters were pulled midway through the third quarter anyway.

Harrison, who has been to eight consecutive Pro Bowls, has already missed a career-high eight games this season after injuring his knee against Denver on Sept. 30. Team president Bill Polian has said the injury also included a burst bursa sac, which has caused additional inflammation in the knee.

''Marvin, I don't think he'll play this week,'' Dungy said.

Super Bowl MVP Peyton Manning isn't sure when Harrison might return, either, and until then is content relying on rookie Anthony Gonzalez, the Colts' top draft pick in April, to fill the void.

Harrison last played against Jacksonville on Oct. 22.

''Nobody really has any clue around here about Marvin and what's going on there, so Gonzo's the guy,'' Manning said. ''I don't know anything. It's Gonzo who's out there at the right, and we've got to get Devin (Aromashodu) more comfortable out there in the three-wides package.''

Manning acknowledged later he is tired of answering weekly questions about Harrison's health.

None of the four practiced Wednesday, nor did backup running back Kenton Keith (sprained thumb). Keith injured the thumb several weeks ago, then re-injured it Sunday night at Baltimore.

Keith said a decision on his playing status would be made later this week.

''Kenton has a sprained thumb on his left hand, and it's not really debilitating,'' Dungy said. ''But in his case, he has to catch and carry the ball, so that makes it more difficult.''

Also missing practice Wednesday were starting right guard Jake Scott (foot) and backup linebacker Clint Session (ankle). Right tackle Ryan Diem, who sat out Sunday's game, returned to practice and was not listed on the team's injury report.

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Re: NFL Week 15 News and Notes

Buffalo Bills DE Kelsay likely to return for game at Cleveland
December 14, 2007

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) -Buffalo Bills defensive end Chris Kelsay likely will play Sunday when Buffalo visits Cleveland in an AFC matchup with playoff implications.

Kelsay, a fourth-year starter who is listed as questionable on the injury report, missed the last two games with a left ankle injury. He tripped over a teammate during a 36-14 loss at Jacksonville on Nov. 25.

Kelsay is seventh on the team with 53 tackles in 11 games.

Reserve linebacker Coy Wire (neck) and starting free safety George Wilson (broken ribs) are out.

The Bills (7-6) need a win over the Browns to keep their playoff hopes alive. Cleveland (8-5) holds the sixth and final AFC playoff spot.

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Re: NFL Week 15 News and Notes

Rams say Bulger will start vs. Packers
Associated Press

Marc Bulger will start at quarterback for the Rams in their game Sunday against the Green Bay Packers after missing two games with a concussion.

Gus Frerotte will be his backup, coach Scott Linehan said. Frerotte had been sidelined with a partially torn labrum in his throwing shoulder that he injured a week before Bulger's concussion.

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Re: NFL Week 15 News and Notes

Roethlisberger questionable for Jacksonville game
December 14th, 2007

Pittsburgh, PA (Sports Network) - Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is listed as questionable for Sunday's game against Jacksonville with a sore right shoulder.

He returned to practice on Friday after sitting out two days. Should he be unable to go, though, backup quarterback Charlie Batch will get the nod in a game that pits a pair of 9-4 clubs against each other.

Pittsburgh clinches a playoff spot with a win on Sunday. Also, if Pittsburgh wins and Cleveland loses, the Steelers would win the AFC North division.

Roethlisberger felt soreness in his throwing shoulder during the Steelers' 34-13 loss at New England last Sunday, but never left the game.

He has started the Steelers' last 28 games.

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Re: NFL Week 15 News and Notes

Giants safety Butler out for Sunday
December 14th, 2007

East Rutherford, NJ (Sports Network) - New York Giants safety James Butler will miss his second straight game on Sunday due to a hamstring injury.

Butler was declared out for Sunday night's showdown with the Washington Redskins at Giants Stadium.

Meanwhile, safety Gibril Wilson is considered doubtful with a knee injury. Wilson, who suffered his injury November 18 against Detroit, sat out last Sunday's 16-13 win at Philadelphia

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Re: NFL Week 15 News and Notes

Bills safety Wilson placed on IR
December 14th, 2007

Orchard Park, NY (Sports Network) - Buffalo Bills safety George Wilson was placed on injured reserve Friday, ending any hopes for a potential return in the playoffs.

To fill his roster spot, Buffalo promoted linebacker Blake Costanzo from the practice squad.

Wilson fractured a pair of ribs during Sunday's 38-17 victory over the winless Miami Dolphins. He was already expected to miss the remainder of the regular season.

But with the Bills (7-6) in the thick of the AFC wild card race, Buffalo didn't want to rule Wilson out. Buffalo and Tennessee have identical records, with both teams a game behind the Cleveland Browns for the last wild card spot. The Bills play at Cleveland this Sunday.

Now, however, Wilson becomes the 14th player to go on injured reserve for Buffalo this season, and further thins the safety position. Ko Simpson started the season as the free safety, but broke his ankle in Week 5 and was put on the IR.

Jim Leonhard is expected to take over for Wilson. Leonhard missed time earlier this season with a calf injury.

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Re: NFL Week 15 News and Notes

Indianapolis without 5 starters for game Sunday at Oakland
December 15, 2007

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -The Colts will sit five starters Sunday at Oakland, with injuries to defensive end Robert Mathis leaving the team without any of the first-string defensive linemen it had to start training camp.

The Colts decided Saturday that Mathis and safety Antoine Bethea would not play against the Raiders, Indianapolis spokesman Craig Kelley said. The team had already listed receiver Marvin Harrison (bruised left knee), defensive tackle Raheem Brock (ribs) and right tackle Ryan Diem (knee) as out for Sunday.

Mathis (sprains to both knees) and Bethea (sprained left knee) were injured during last Sunday's 44-20 victory in Baltimore. Neither finished the game, in which the Colts pulled most of their starters midway through the third quarter.

The absences of Mathis and Brock follow season-ending injuries to defensive end Dwight Freeney and defensive tackle Anthony McFarland, leaving the Colts (11-2) without any of the defensive linemen they had at the start of the season.

Rookie Ed Johnson has been the starter since McFarland was injured during training camp

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Re: NFL Week 15 News and Notes

Smith likely to play for Vikings despite arrest, Childress says
December 15, 2007

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) -Minnesota Vikings starting safety Dwight Smith is expected to play Monday night against Chicago despite a misdemeanor citation this week for marijuana possession.

Coach Brad Childress said Saturday that he anticipates Smith playing. Childress deferred comment and announcement of discipline until the case is resolved.

``I am going to get all the facts before I pass any judgment on it,'' Childress said.

The incident occurred Thursday night, and Smith practiced as usual Friday and Saturday. Childress said he addressed the matter with the team Friday.

According to the Minneapolis police report, Smith's vehicle was stopped for impeding traffic at a downtown intersection. An officer ``smelled the strong odor'' of the drug as he approached the car, and Smith - according to the report - said he had ``just got done smoking some marijuana.''

The charge is punishable by a $125 fine for a first offense.

``Ain't nothing,'' defensive tackle Pat Williams said. ``It's just people trying to get in our locker room. We ain't worried about that. We're just all focused on the Chicago Bears.''

Smith was absent from the locker room on Saturday while it was open to reporters. He is a member of Childress's eight-player veteran leadership committee, as is Williams and cornerback Antoine Winfield.

``It's not a big deal at all. You know things happen. Unfortunately, that did. We still don't know all the facts,'' Winfield said, adding: ``Of course you don't want to be the guy that's getting in trouble or called out, but until everything comes out we're just moving on.''

Childress declined to acknowledge any disappointment - at least not yet - in Smith.

``I just prefer to center all my attentions on all the positives that have occurred this year and all the good, and I think that all the virtue has to be defended,'' the coach said.

Childress said he spent an evening last spring on the beat with city cops, taking in the scene first hand. He used the experience to develop an educational video for his players that covered the potential dangers of downtown socializing.

``I initiated it, but they were nice enough to let me come down there and catch me up to speed,'' Childress said. ``I don't profess to be in that area, but I like to know where our guys go here from Eden Prairie down there and what the dynamics are, if you will.''

Childress said he even left his phone number on the squad bulletin board as a reminder of his availability to talk with police.

``Not because we expect anything other than regular treatment. I expect my guys to comport themselves the right way, but I like to know what I am faced with,'' Childress said.

Though his teammates and his coach downplayed the distraction, the Vikings (7-6) didn't need this while they're pushing for the playoffs. Especially with the top two backup safeties, Tank Williams (doubtful, knee) and Mike Doss (questionable, hamstring), on this week's injury report. Rookie Eric Frampton is the only other safety on the active roster, beside starter Darren Sharper.

Smith, who could face a suspension from the NFL, though probably not until next year, has been in trouble before.

He was cited for indecent conduct with a woman in a downtown stairwell in August 2006 and kept out of the season opener by Childress because of that. The coach has also benched Smith for the opening series of two other games for unspecified disciplinary reasons, most recently on Dec. 2 against the Detroit Lions.

In 2003, when he was with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Smith pleaded guilty to pulling a gun on a motorist. For that, he was fined $225, placed on probation for one year, and ordered to take anger management classes and complete 25 hours of community service.

The franchise has an infamous history of off-the-field transgressions, most notably the 2005 bye-week boat party that resulted in misdemeanor charges of indecent and disorderly conduct for three players. Early in last season's training camp, wide receiver Koren Robinson drove recklessly and drunk a few weeks before Smith was caught in the stairwell.

This year, though, the police blotter has been quiet. An arrest of cornerback Cedric Griffin in April for disorderly conduct at a nightclub was the only sign of misbehavior that became public, until this week when Smith was allegedly caught with the pot.

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Re: NFL Week 15 News and Notes

Dolphins' Crowder to miss game Sunday

Right knee and left foot injuries will take Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder out of the middle of the Dolphins defense for Sunday's game.

Crowder missed last week's 38-17 loss to Buffalo with a sprained foot. Without Crowder and Zach Thomas, out for the season with concussion symptoms, the Dolphins gave up more than 100 yards rushing each to Buffalo's Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch. Jackson averaged 7.7 yards per carry, and Lynch averaged 4.7.

Now, the Dolphins face Baltimore's Willis McGahee, familiar in South Florida from his time at Miami Central High and the University of Miami.

''If you don't do a good job tackling, he'll turn those 2-, 3-yard runs into 5, 6, or have a chance to make a big play,'' Dolphins defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. ``He's got good vision to where the play side is closed, he has the ability to bring the ball back to the backside. You better play good leverage on the outside because he'll outrun you to the sideline. You don't want him to be able to get running north and south on you because he is a big, strong guy. If he does that, he gains positive yards.''

ROLLE DOUBTFUL

Baltimore, which put cornerback Chris McAlister on injured reserve earlier this week, lists cornerback Samari Rolle as doubtful for Sunday with a shoulder injury. The Miami Beach High graduate and Florida State product didn't play last week against Indianapolis, leaving the Ravens helpless against the Colts.

miamiherald.com

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Re: NFL Week 15 News and Notes

Sore toe better, Boldin should play Sunday

Anquan Boldin should be able to play Sunday in New Orleans. Boldin, who missed Sunday’s game at Seattle with a sore toe, returned to practice on a limited basis Thursday and said he should be OK to return.

Read Mike Tulumello's blog, Bird Watching

“It’s still a little sore but I was able to do a couple of things,” the defensive back said. “Unless anything happens, I should be out there Sunday.”

Coach Ken Whisenhunt said, “We’re still feeling it out. But he made some progress, obviously.”

Whisenhunt also has been cheered by the return to practice this week of safety Aaron Francisco, who should return to action Sunday after missing six of the past seven games with knee and calf problems.

The safety position has been hurt by the season-ending injury to Pro Bowler Adrian Wilson.
“As long as we don’t have a setback (Friday) I feel good about his contributing in the game on Sunday,” Whisenhunt said.

“It feels great,” Francisco said. “It’s been frustrating the last few weeks, just sitting there and having to watch practice every day. It feels like I haven’t been out there for a year. I’m just glad I’ll be out there on the field playing again.”

BUSH MISSES DEUCE

Reggie Bush misses fellow running back Deuce McCallister, injured early this season. says Saints quarterback Drew Brees.

Bush was hailed as one of the greatest players to enter the NFL in years by draft experts and media observers, but so far his career has been just so-so.

“I think it was tough losing Deuce,” Brees said.

“Not only for his productivity but also just as a mentor to Reggie, a guy who’s been in the league for awhile, knows what it takes to prepare each week and be a professional.

“Reggie needs a guy like that just to kind of watch and emulate a little bit.

“Reggie is a very talented individual. But ... at this level, you need to learn how to prepare. You need to learn certain fundamentals that you carry with you.

“As a young player, that’s part of the learning curve.”

Bush is nursing a knee injury and is not expected to play Sunday.

URBAN’S RETURN

Jerheme Urban will try to follow up his terrific bounce-back game Sunday with another outstanding performance in St. Louis.

Urban, a late pick-up by the Cardinals, had an early impact with a touchdown pass vs. Pittsburgh, then struggled in a couple of games before suffering a heel injury.

At Seattle, where Urban once played, he had six catches for 123 yards and a score. Oddly enough, before the Seahawks’ game, coach Mike Holmgren asked Whisenhunt, “How’s Jerheme doing?”

“He obviously made an impression on them when he was up there,” Whisenhunt said. “Then Jerheme had a good game.”


MISSING SAINTS

Those not practicing for the Saints Thursday included running back Reggie Bush (knee), tight end Eric Johnson (groin), defensive tackle Brian Young (illness) and linebacker Scott Fujita (personal reasons).

eastvalleytribune.com

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Re: NFL Week 15 News and Notes

Cardinals:  Fitzgerald to be a game-time call

Larry Fitzgerald was limited in practice Friday and did not go at full speed. Whether he will play Sunday won't be determined until just before game time, according to the Arizona Republic.

Titans:  Jones ruled out for Sunday's game

Brandon Jones has been ruled out of Sunday's game, according to the Tennessean.

Ravens:  Heap practices but unlikely to play

Todd Heap was able to take part in a limited amount of Friday's practice. While that's a step in the right direction, coach Brian Billick said he didn't expect the tight end to take part in Sunday's game, according to the Baltimore Sun.

Ravens:  Rolle listed as doubtful for Week 15

The Ravens currently list Samari Rolle as doubtful for Sunday's game. However, coach Brian Billick said he didn't expect the cornerback to suit up for the contest, according to the Baltimore Sun.

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