New England Patriots: Wide receiver Phillip Dorsett won’t hear any of the talk that was stirred up after the Patriots lost to Tennessee a week ago — talk that quarterback Tom Brady’s skills are diminishing. “Well, that’s a lie,” Dorsett told the Boston Sports Journal recently. “We play with him every day. Velocity and arm strength aren’t an issue. I’ve been here for a little over a year, and there’s no difference from last year to this year. I mean, he won MVP last year. The results speak for themselves. There’s no difference from last year to this year. I don’t see any difference.” Brady, 41, has thrown for 2,748 yards this season, with 17 touchdown passes and seven interceptions for the 7-3 Patriots.
Buffalo Bills: On Monday, head coach Sean McDermott addressed the media for the first time since the release of quarterback Nathan Peterman last week and said the decision to let go of the former starter wasn’t easy. “Tough decision. Nate did everything that was asked,” McDermott said. “He’s a class act, through and through. Certainly appreciate everything, all the effort that he gave when he was here. We just, to carry four quarterbacks, is a little unique for any extended period of time. And so getting Josh [Allen] to the point to where he is, allowed us to make a move there.” Peterman is eligible to go on the practice squad, but will that happen? “Not at this time,” McDermott said.
Miami Dolphins: Head coach Adam Gase told reporters that owner Stephen Ross understands how hard injuries have hit the 5-5 team. The team has 10 players on injured reserve, now that Jakeem Grant has suffered a season-ending leg injury. “Every time I see him after a game or talk to him during the week, ‘Just keep grinding,'” Gase said. “‘Don’t think too much about injuries.’ I think he looks at that [as] we’ve lost some good players. That’s something that is always unfortunate. He can see those big plays when they were occurring with Albert [Wilson] and what we get from Jakeem and when we were hitting some deeper throws with Ryan [Tannehill] in there. He sees all of that stuff, and when those guys aren’t there anymore, he understands that we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do to try to move the ball and win the game.”
New York Jets: Linebacker Brandon Copeland already knows how he’s spending the offseason. He’ll be at Penn, his alma mater, co-teaching a class called “Inequity and Empowerment: Urban Financial Literacy” each Monday afternoon. “No matter what major you are, you are going to use this class,” Copeland said recently, per the New York Post. “No matter what you do in life — whether you’re a professional athlete, whether you’re a nursing student, whether you’re a banker — you’re going to use the information from this class.” The idea for the class came to Copeland, 27, in a conversation with a former teammate in Detroit a few years ago. He proposed the class to Penn, where he earned a degree in management and entrepreneurship. “It’s just making sure they feel more confident when they are faced with those decisions when they do leave college and have to figure out, ‘Hey, am I going to rent or buy in this city? Am I going to buy it to rent it out? Am I making smart decisions with my credit? Should I start paying down my student loans as soon as I get out of college?'” Copeland said.
Baltimore Ravens: One day after calling rookie Lamar Jackson’s first NFL start “spectacular,” Ravens head coach John Harbaugh defended his quarterback’s ability to pass. “The kid can throw,” Harbaugh said. “He’s a quarterback.” The ongoing narrative around Jackson gained new life when he rushed 27 times — the most by an NFL QB since 1950 — against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. But Harbaugh said Jackson is more than capable, and the Ravens will likely find out if Joe Flacco (hip) remains sidelined. Harbaugh, who became angered by the line of questioning, said Jackson can and will show his arm in the weeks to come. “I think that’s obvious. You don’t want your quarterback getting hit that much. He’s not going to last that way.”
Cincinnati Bengals: As the Bengals juggle their defensive coaching staff, head coach Marvin Lewis said the addition of Hue Jackson was a “big positive.” Lewis said he was more comfortable turning his back on the game. “Optimally, I’m responsible for everything,” Lewis said. “I’ve got to do it that way. That’s where we are right now. Hopefully it’ll become more and more comfortable. I can get the defense set with him and I can go back to paying attention throughout the game.” Lewis did not confirm that he plans to have Jackson handle defensive calls in the future, but said his understanding of opponents’ personnel made him an asset against the Ravens.
Cleveland Browns: Hue Jackson will be on the opposite sideline this week when the Browns visit Cincinnati, but Cleveland isn’t overly worried about its old coach providing intel to the enemy. “There is nothing private in our world anymore,” interim head coach Gregg Williams said. “Every single clip of film is out there for everybody to watch. It is about execution.” Cornerback T.J. Carrie added that the familiarity between the divisional rivals limits how much useful information the Bengals can learn. “We know what they’re gonna do, they know what we’re gonna do,” Carrie said. “There’s not really more scheme-wise that they dive into or we can surprise them with.”
Pittsburgh Steelers: Defensive players repeatedly encouraged quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the late stages of his three-interception performance at Jacksonville, as the Steelers survived and extended their winning streak to six games. But while Roethlisberger and many of the team’s veterans have survived the rigors of December, one untested late-season component in a running game built around second-year back James Conner. Roethlisberger said he will do his part to encourage Conner, now the sure starter with Le’Veon Bell on season-long hiatus, to use Sunday’s game at Jacksonville as a learning tool. “James is one of those special football players where he can’t get down on himself,” Roethlisberger said. “This will be one of those awesome tests to see how he bounces back. I think he’ll be fine.”
Houston Texans: Safety Tyrann Mathieu has 61 tackles, three sacks, two interceptions and five passes defensed in first season with the Texans. He is fitting in well with the team after being released by the Arizona Cardinals in March. Not a bad move going from a team that is currently 2-8 to a Houston team with seven straight wins. “I think we’ve got a long way to go, but I think we’re off on the right start,” Mathieu told reporters. “I thought I picked the right group of guys to go to war with, go to battle with each and every week. I told those guys last night how much I love them, how much I enjoy playing with them.”
Indianapolis Colts: Quarterback Andrew Luck is red-hot with seven straight outings of three or more touchdown passes. Luck has thrown 24 touchdowns during the stretch and has 29 overall in a strong comeback campaign after missing all of last season due to shoulder surgery. The former top overall pick has topped 30 TDs twice in his career, with his high being 40 in 2014. While Luck hasn’t been sacked since Week 5, center Ryan Kelly suffered a knee injury in Sunday’s 38-10 trouncing of the Tennessee Titans. Coach Frank Reich allowed that Kelly “could miss a little time” but declined to further discuss the injury or set a timetable for his return.
Jacksonville Jaguars: The team’s losing streak has reached six games, and quarterback Blake Bortles continues to receive heat for an underwhelming campaign. Bortles passed for just 104 yards in Sunday’s 20-16 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, but coach Doug Marrone made it clear Monday that he intends to stick with Bortles as the starter. “At times like this, people are going to ask those questions, and we’re continually trying to work together to try to figure out a way to put this complete game in, to do a better job from my standpoint to the coaches and to the players,” Marrone said, adding the team doesn’t have many better options. “…You can’t just replace people just to replace them. You’ve got to replace them with people that you feel are going to do a better job for you.”
Tennessee Titans: The status of quarterback Marcus Mariota for next Monday night’s game against the Texans will be determined during the week. Mariota suffered a stinger during Sunday’s loss to the Colts, and backup Blaine Gabbert will receive most of the practice workload. The contest against the Texans is a crucial one for Tennessee, which is two games behind Houston in the division race and one of five 5-5 teams battling for the second AFC wild-card spot. “We are 5-5, and we have a great opportunity to go to Houston and compete against a team that’s won seven games in a row,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel told reporters. “We can’t sit there and be so down and so negative that we can’t come back and play. … We have to move forward. The season is not over.”
Denver Broncos: Despite starting three players in new spots on Sunday, the Broncos’ offensive line performed well against the Chargers, allowing no sacks and four QB hits. Head coach Vance Joseph was also impressed with left tackle Garett Bolles, in addition to backup tackles Elijah Wilkinson and Billy Turner at guard. “I thought Bollesy played one of his best games from a technique perspective,” Joseph said. “To block [Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa] with no penalties is quite an accomplishment for him. But the entire line, no sacks all day with those rushers was impressive, and we have three new starters inside. Our two guards are guys who play tackle. So, for those guys to go inside and play guard. … I think they’re very comfortable playing guard, especially in pass protection.”
Los Angeles Chargers: The Chargers had their six-game win streak snapped by the Broncos, but they did get defensive end Joey Bosa back on the field with no setbacks. Head coach Anthony Lynn told reporters Bosa “may be a little sore” after playing 31 snaps — compared to the 20-snap estimate the team intended — but he came out of the game healthy. “I thought, for his first game back and not playing football for 13 or 14 weeks, that he looked good,” Lynn added of Bosa, who was credited with one tackle and one QB hit. “I thought he showed good speed and explosion coming off the edge. … He’ll get more reps this week in practice and he’ll get more in the game.”
Oakland Raiders: Head coach Jon Gruden confirmed that wideout Brandon LaFell is headed to injured reserve with an Achilles injury sustained on a leaping grab Sunday. That injury damages a receiving corps that already had Jordy Nelson and Martavis Bryant dealing with knee issues, but Gruden was impressed with how rookies Marcell Ateman and Saeed Blacknall — both recently promoted from the practice squad — performed on Sunday. “I was really pleased with Ateman,” Gruden said. “It wasn’t too big for him. He was confident. He was under control. He was calm. He made some plays. Saeed did the right thing for the most part. He had a couple of assignment errors, but he got his first action in some critical moments and I thought he handled himself pretty well.” Blacknall wasn’t targeted on 16 snaps, but Ateman played 65 snaps and led Oakland with four catches for 50 yards.
KC Chiefs played MNF, update to come later in week.
Dallas Cowboys: Owner Jerry Jones told Bloomberg that the team isn’t for sale. But he added if he had to put a price tag on them, the Cowboys would be in the Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates stratosphere. “If I had to sell the team tomorrow I wouldn’t accept anything less than $10 billion,” said Jones, who bought the team for $140 million, which then was a record purchase price, in 1989. “But, I don’t want to imply that I would take $10 billion for them. The Cowboys are just not for sale. They’re a long-term asset and my immediate family — which has been a part of making them what they are today — they’ll own the Cowboys long after I’m gone.” The 76-year-old added: “I don’t say $10 billion just to say a ridiculous number. I just think you really have to go on what people would pay. I don’t want to say at least $10 billion, but I certainly think you can justify a $10 billion value.”
New York Giants: Saquon Barkley has had a solid rookie season for the Giants, but he said he listened to coaches tell him they wanted to see more power, more fight for those final few yards toward the goal line. It turned into a career-best 142-yard performance Sunday in New York’s 38-35 win over Tampa Bay. Barkley ran for two touchdowns and caught a pass for another. “You take that as a challenge,” Barkley told reporters. “You take it personally. You know that they brought you in here for a reason and you have to get better. That’s how I take it. The same way that I took it was to still stay who I am. I hadn’t really changed anything [Sunday] besides my pace. I just got a feel for the running game and the offensive line, and I think I found a pace that I liked. They challenged me to do that and I did that [Sunday].”
Philadelphia Eagles: Coach Doug Pederson and the Eagles undoubtedly want to forget Sunday’s 48-7 embarrassment at the hands of the New Orleans Saints — and probably no one more than quarterback Carson Wentz. It was his first three-interception game since Dec. 4, 2016, and his first game without a touchdown pass since Dec. 18, 2016. On Sunday, he was 19-of-33 passing for 156 yards and a career-worst passer rating of 31.9. “I’ve played a lot of football games in my career, and this is one of the worst losses I’ve ever been a part of,” Wentz told reporters. “It’s frustrating all the way around … We have to be better and it starts with me.” He added: “I definitely take a lot of [responsibility] on my plate, on my shoulders. I have to come out better.”
Washington Redskins: The Redskins are 6-4 and sit at the top of the NFC East, but with starting quarterback Alex Smith lost for the season with a devastating leg injury, is is now veteran backup Colt McCoy’s team to lead. Coach Jay Gruden said Monday he isn’t worried about putting the offense in the hands of the 32-year-old McCoy. “I have confidence in Colt, always have,” Gruden told NBC Sports Washington. “I’m a big, firm believer in Colt McCoy’s ability to play football in the National Football League. This is an opportunity of a lifetime for him. I know he would like it in different circumstances but things happen for a reason.” McCoy’s last stint as a starter came in 2014, when he was 2-3. His most recent win in the starting role came Oct. 27 of that year against Dallas — Washington’s opponent on Thursday. In relief of Smith on Sunday, McCoy was 6-of-12 passing for 54 yards and a touchdown.
Chicago Bears: Defensive lineman Akiem Hicks was thrilled after the Bears’ front four set the tone in the division showdown with the Vikings on Sunday. Hicks said the Bears’ front seven is only beginning to round into form, and the pressure falls to the opposing offensive line to find the right answer. “Who do you block is the question. Do you block Leonard Floyd? Do you block Eddie Goldman? Do you block Akiem? Do you block Khalil? That’s the question we want every offense to have to figure out,” Hicks said.
Detroit Lions: Rookie Kerryon Johnson will not need surgery but with a knee sprain could miss 2-4 weeks. However, head coach Matt Patricia said it’s no sure thing the Lions will add a running back for Thanksgiving Day with just one practice scheduled ahead of the lunchtime gathering with the NFC North-leading Bears. Without Johnson, the Lions could attempt to put the ball in quarterback Matthew Stafford’s hands and give wide receiver Kenny Golladay another shot as the lead threat on offense. “Of course, they know Golden is gone, they know Marvin is out, so who else are they going to look to?” Golladay said. He caught eight passes for 114 yards and was targeted 14 times against the Carolina Panthers.
Green Bay Packers: Tight end Jimmy Graham plans to take a few days off but is set to attempt to play with a heavily bandaged broken thumb when the Packers return to the field Sunday night against the Vikings. Graham, injured last Thursday at Seattle, is likely to share the snaps at tight end with backup Lance Kendricks. At 4-5-1, another loss might lead Green Bay to place Graham on injured reserve. However, if he’s comfortable working in practice with a padded glove or splint, Graham could be recovered before the regular season ends.
Minnesota Vikings: Having already exceeded their turnover total from last season and approaching an all-time high for a Mike Zimmer-coached team (20), the Vikings are causing their fifth-year coach fits of frustration. Turnovers contributed to their Week 11 loss to the Bears, and Zimmer said he must do some digging to resolve the issue before time runs out. “It’s definitely a concern. Either they’re not listening or not paying attention or don’t really care,” Zimmer said. “We’ll have to find out which one of the three it is.”
Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons have dropped two consecutive games as they enter a Thursday contest against the red-hot New Orleans Saints. The back-to-back setbacks follow a stretch in which Atlanta won three consecutive contests and was on a solid roll. Earlier this season, the Falcons pushed the Saints into overtime before succumbing 43-37. Meanwhile, receiver Julio Jones has strung together five consecutive 100-yard outings and has 594 yards during the stretch. Overall, Jones has seven 100-yard efforts and fell just shy of another when he had 96 yards against the Saints. Jones leads the NFL with 1,158 yards, and his 73 receptions rank fourth.
Carolina Panthers: The 20-19 loss to the Detroit Lions on Sunday was a blow for the Panthers, who have now lost two straight games to fall three games behind the New Orleans Saints in the NFC South. The setback at Detroit included a controversial decision by coach Ron Rivera to go for a two-point conversion with 1:07 left, which was unsuccessful. Middle linebacker Luke Kuechly was quick to admit the Panthers aren’t in “the best position” after the two defeats. “But we understand at the end of the year you can put yourself in a place where you can be in the playoffs,” Kuechly said. “We still have that in front of us. It’s just going to be a little more difficult. We understand that. We put ourselves in that position.”
New Orleans Saints: Quarterback Drew Brees and the Saints’ offense have been seemingly unstoppable over the past three weeks while averaging 48 points. New Orleans scored 45 or more in each of the three games and has six 40-point efforts for the season. “I feel really good right now,” Brees said of a squad with nine consecutive wins. “I love my team. I love coming to work every day with these guys. I want to play my heart out for these guys. I care about them. I certainly don’t want to let them down. I want to be as consistent as I can for them, give them confidence, put them in positions to succeed, and that’s my job. So I’m just doing my job.”
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tampa Bay is returning to Jameis Winston as the starting quarterback for the Sunday game against the San Francisco 49ers. Winston (11 interceptions) and James Fitzpatrick (12) have combined for 23 interceptions — the worst team total in the NFL — and the Buccaneers have a dreadful minus-23 turnover ratio, also the worst in the league. “We have to protect the football,” Tampa Bay coach Dirk Koetter said. “I’m not trying to put this a hundred percent on them. The quarterback’s going to get too much blame when things go wrong and too much credit when things go right. Some of these turnovers are 100 percent on the quarterback, but other times it’s not. Some of this is the fact that we’re down in games and we try to do too much at times, but it’s a bottom-line business.”
Arizona Cardinals: After losing at home to the previously 1-8 Raiders, the Cardinals dropped to 2-8 and appear to be searching for any ways to improve. According to multiple reports, the team is expected to release cornerback Jamar Taylor — who gave up a 23-yard touchdown to Jared Cook on Sunday — and sign free agent David Amerson, who was briefly on the roster last week. Head coach Steve Wilks did not confirm the move, but did say, “Based on where we are, we are open to a lot of anything. There are some things we have talked about that we are probably going to try and make some moves on.” He has also made changes to the practice week, shortening meetings and adding more walk-through time to get players more live mental reps.
San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers didn’t play this week, but they did pick up ground in the “race” for the No. 1 overall pick, as the Oakland Raiders beat the Arizona Cardinals to leave all three teams tied for the NFL’s worst record at 2-8. Four of the six wins between the teams have come against one another, as the Cardinals beat the 49ers twice and the 49ers beat the Raiders. Meanwhile, San Francisco has a different quarterback to prepare for in Week 12 than they did entering their Week 11 bye. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, whom the Niners visit on Sunday, announced Monday they will start Jameis Winston over Ryan Fitzpatrick this week.
Seattle Seahawks: A year after no running back topped more than 240 rushing yards and the entire roster outside of Russell Wilson combined for one rushing touchdown, the Seahawks suddenly have an embarrassment of riches at the position. Chris Carson (580 yards, three scores), Mike Davis (372, 3) and Rashaad Penny (300, 1) have each topped those figures already, and the backfield is due for reinforcements after J.D. McKissic was designated on Monday to return from injured reserve. That opens a three-week window for McKissic to practice as he recovers from breaking a bone in his foot in August. The team could activate the 5-foot-10, 195-pound speedster to the 53-man roster as soon as this week.
LA Rams played MNF and updated to come later in week.
–Field Level Media