Buffalo Bills: Head coach Sean McDermott told reporters Wednesday that the team released veteran wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin because the player-team pairing "obviously didn't work." He added: "The important (thing) ... for us, is that we continue to take swings and we did. You step up to the plate and you take a swing and some of those are going to work and some aren't." All but out of the playoff picture at 4-8, the Bills will look at younger players and start building for 2009. "We've got some younger receives that have stepped up and showed some signs of their potential and flashed," McDermott said. "Our commitment to them is to give them more opportunities and to see them build a relationship with Josh (Allen) to see them continue to develop and that's important moving forward."
Miami Dolphins: Receiver Danny Amendola missed last Sunday's game against the Bills but practiced Wednesday. Head coach Adam Gase said he was unsure of Amendola's status for their upcoming game, although the wideout is eager to meet his former teammates and the New England Patriots. "He wants to play in this game as bad as anybody," Gase said. "I'm trying to give him a little bit of the ability to show that he can go, but at the same time just try to make sure that we get through the week the right way. We don't (want to) lose him for any longer than we already have." Amendola left the Patriots after the 2017 season, lured by a two-year contract that can be worth as much as $12 million. He had two catches for 21 yards in a Week 4 game at New England.
New England Patriots: As NFL teams look to fill head-coach openings (Cleveland, Green Bay) and other teams anticipate coaching vacancies, the name of Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is being thrown around. He accepted the Indianapolis Colts' job after last season but backed out at the last minute. Owner Robert Kraft didn't sound worried about the possibility of McDaniels leaving New England again, after he left the Patriots before the 2009 season to coach the Denver Broncos and returned in 2012. "I care about winning Sunday. That's what really what I care about," Kraft told the Boston Herald. "Whatever happens ... you know, we have good people. I'm actually flattered that people are after our people."
New York Jets: Safety Jamal Adams is just in his second year but has become a vocal team leader. And this week, he talked about the seeming inevitability that head coach Todd Bowles will be fired after the season ends. Adams said on his regular weekly interview on WFAN that Bowles isn't the problem with the Jets (3-9). "There are other problems in that building," Adams said. "I feel for him. I really do. It's not his problems that are going on right now. Hopefully, it's going to change next year. We've got to change it. It needs to be changed, because to me, we're running out of time."
Baltimore Ravens: Rookie offensive tackle Orlando Brown has become a stabilizer up front for the Ravens during the switch from Joe Flacco to Lamar Jackson. While Brown was playing well in November as coach John Harbaugh assessed, his mentality is making him a great fit for a more grinding approach from Baltimore. On Wednesday, Ravens left tackle Ronnie Stanley said Brown has been nothing short of "great." Harbaugh explained previously: "Brown has a real mentality about him -- a real right-tackle mentality. He's like his dad, and that's the greatest compliment that I or anybody else could give him."
Cincinnati Bengals: Marvin Lewis reportedly has an option in his contract for the 2019 season and media speculation on his status is picking up as the Bengals slip behind AFC North leaders and out of the playoff hunt. Has Lewis received any front-office assurance on his status for next season? "No," Lewis said. "I wouldn't expect any or ask for any. My job is to coach the football team."
Cleveland Browns: Rookie cornerback Denzel Ward did not practice Wednesday due to a concussion, but cornerback Terrance Mitchell is set to return after missing eight weeks with a wrist injury. Head coach Gregg Williams said Ward has improved his tackling technique but is still prone to abandoning technique in heat of the battle. "It is one of those things that at that corner position, especially him, you have to be down," Williams said. Mitchell has practiced the past two weeks.
Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers haven't won in Oakland since 1995 and while quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said the venue is "cool," he also said it's not an easy place to play because of the challenges that come with it. "The environment, the team, the travel. A little bit of everything," he said. The Steelers, cognizant of the recent trend, are shifting travel to California for the first time in Roethlisberger's career to arrive early in the day Friday. "I guess we are trying something different," he said.
Houston Texans: Running back D'Onta Foreman was activated Tuesday and figures to further bolster a rushing attack that is tied for second in the NFL at 140.8 yards per game. Foreman has missed the past 12-plus months since tearing his Achilles tendon and was removed from the Physically Unable to Perform list on Tuesday. "The reason why we brought him up is that we feel like maybe eventually, whether it's this week, next week, some week, he can help us win a game, so we felt like it was a good decision for our team," coach Bill O'Brien said during a press conference. Foreman returned to practice on Nov. 14 and is eager to help out a team that has won nine straight games. "I practice day in and day out," Foreman said. "I've been getting a lot of scout team reps, just trying to take advantage of my opportunities."
Indianapolis Colts: Center Ryan Kelly (knee) has missed the past two games and figures to be doubtful to return this Sunday against the Texans. Kelly missed his seventh straight practice on Wednesday and did rehab work off to the side. Indianapolis coach Frank Reich said the plan is to be cautious with Kelly's recovery. "He's doing great and making progress," Reich said. "We want to get him back as soon as we can but we still want to be smart about it." Reich also is downplaying the game against Houston while outsiders refer to it as a must-win affair. "We don't put ourselves in must-win situations," Reich said. "We put ourselves in must-get-better situations. That's been our mantra the whole year."
Jacksonville Jaguars: Running back Leonard Fournette will be back for Thursday's game against the Tennessee Titans after missing last week's game against the Colts due to a one-game suspension for fighting. Fournette said it was difficult not being with his teammates. "It was tough, knowing what I could have done to help the team," he told reporters. "It was tough." It was been a rough second season for Fournette, who rushed for 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns as a rookie. He injured a hamstring in Week 1 and reinjured it again in Week 4 and has just 314 yards and four touchdowns on 90 carries. However, Fournette showed life by rushing for 95 yards in consecutive games prior to serving the suspension.
Tennessee Titans: Tennessee saved its playoff hopes by rallying from a 16-point hole against the New York Jets last Sunday and is certainly in must-win mode against the Jaguars. Jacksonville isn't going back to the playoffs after reaching the AFC title game last season and the Titans don't want to join them as a 2017 playoff team that misses the postseason this time around. "That's something we can't allow to happen," Tennessee defensive end Jurrell Casey said. "We want to keep them where they're at -- at the end of the division and leave them there. We got to make sure we take care of our part. At the end of the day, we can't worry about them. We have to worry about ourselves because we ain't played so hot this year ourselves."
Denver Broncos: Denver traded Demaryius Thomas to open up opportunities for rookie second-round draft pick Courtland Sutton, but fourth-round rookie DaeSean Hamilton will be leaned on heavily now as well with Emmanuel Sanders (torn Achilles) out for the season. "There's a reason why I'm in the NFL," Hamilton said of his confidence in himself. "I don't expect there to be any downfall." The team also will count on Tim Patrick and River Cracraft, both of whom were undrafted free agents in 2017. "We have capable guys and I'm very comfortable with that room," head coach Vance Joseph said. "It's young, but it's a proven room." Added Sutton, "We've all got to step up and step into these roles that we've been handed, and not look back into it."
Kansas City Chiefs: After filling in admirably for starter Mitch Morse at center in Weeks 8-11, Austin Reiter was rewarded with a contract extension on Wednesday, the team announced. No terms of the deal have been reported, but the 2015 seventh-round pick was set to become a restricted free agent after this season. Depending on the size and length of the deal, it could mean the Chiefs view Reiter as the future starter at the pivot, as Morse will hit unrestricted free agency in March. The team gave left guard Cameron Erving a two-year extension worth up to $15.7 million in September. Right tackle Mitchell Schwartz (signed through 2020), left tackle Eric Fisher (2021) and right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (2022) are each locked up for at least two years.
Los Angeles Chargers: In his final game before entering the NFL, Philip Rivers led his team to a 28-10 victory over Marvin Lewis, as the Bengals' staff was coaching the North team in the 2004 Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. Rivers threw for 213 yards and two touchdowns to pick up MVP honors in the game, which came about three months before Rivers was traded to the Chargers -- whose staff coached the South team -- as part of the package for Eli Manning on draft day. "Obviously he's continued to grow as a fine player, but he was there and he was a fine leader," Lewis recalled Wednesday of the encounter. "Obviously, the Chargers' staff was coaching the other side and had Philip on their team, so they saw great things in him which caused the move they made to get Philip. I don't think he's disappointed anybody there."
Oakland Raiders: Head coach Jon Gruden is known for praising opponents' top players, but he was particularly effusive about the guy the Raiders will have to contain on Sunday, Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown. "What's the greatest thing about this man, I've told all of our receivers, if you get a chance to watch him practice, you'll see what unlocks the greatness in him," Gruden said. "He's the hardest working man, I think, in football. Hardest working player I've ever seen practice. I've seen Jerry Rice, I've seen a lot of good ones, but I put Antonio Brown at the top. If there are any young wideouts out there, I'd go watch him practice. You figure out yourself why he's such a good player."
Dallas Cowboys: Former Cowboys executive Gil Brandt became the 22nd member of the team's Ring of Honor last Thursday. Troy Aikman, one of the 22, wants a 23rd member to join the select company. That's his former coach, Jimmy Johnson, who led the Cowboys to two Super Bowl titles in five seasons as the head coach. "I do know that not being in the Cowboys Ring of Honor is a major disappointment to him," Aikman told radio station 1310 The Ticket. "It's a major disappointment to me, for that matter. The guy turned the franchise around and brought back America's Team and made the Cowboys relevant again. I ran into a lot of people when we began to win and they said they were big Cowboys fans, but that stadium was not selling out in 1989. It probably wasn't in '88 the year before I got there either. Jimmy was a big part. He certainly was an architect of putting together those teams and drafting those players that you could argue was maybe the most talent in the history of our sport."
New York Giants: The Giants might not listen to his opinion as they plan for 2019 and beyond, but one New York Super Bowl-winning quarterback had a strong endorsement of another New York Super Bowl-winning quarterback. "I'd have him on my team anytime, any game, any type of game," New York Jets legend Joe Namath said to MSG about Eli Manning. "Between the lines on the grass or outside on the street -- I think he's a winner. I know he's tough." Namath added: "I think they need a team, they need more players. When you're asking me about building around a quarterback ... with Lady Luck on his side, you can get up into your 40s and still be productive. I still think Eli has a few more years left in him where he can be productive."
Philadelphia Eagles: The brother of second-year defensive end Derek Barnett was killed in a hit-and-run in Nashville, Tenn., on Tuesday, The Tennessean reported. Police in Nashville said 33-year-old David Barnett died as a result of a crash at 3:25 a.m. Felipe Castelblanco, 47, was charged with vehicular homicide by intoxication in the head-on collision, the newspaper reported. Derek Barnett has been on the injured reserve list since he had shoulder surgery in late October. He had 19 tackles and 2 1/2 sacks on the season.
Washington Redskins: Quarterback Colt McCoy had surgery on his broken right leg and already has been ruled out for the season. But is he really? Coach Jay Gruden announced the surgery and said it was successful, adding it was "wishful thinking" that he could be back in two to three weeks, with four weeks more likely, according to NBC Sports Washington. The Redskins sit 6-6 in the NFC East, just a game behind Dallas for the division lead, and haven't been mathematically eliminated. If the QB combo of Mark Sanchez and Josh Johnson can get the Redskins to the playoffs, it isn't impossible to think McCoy could be back. Until then, McCoy and starting quarterback Alex Smith, whom McCoy replaced when Smith suffered a devastating leg injury in Week 11, can offer guidance to Sanchez and Johnson.
Chicago Bears: Defensive tackle Akiem Hicks said scoring a rushing touchdown was "super fun" having seen it several times from the other side of the ball. "I'm framing that. First time ever in my career. I've been playing defensive tackle since I was 15 years old," Hicks said of his 1-yard plunge against the Giants. "I'm not a big celebration guy. I just like to get the job done." Hicks said he will accept the label of "The Freezer" if it sticks, an homage for William "The Refrigerator" Perry. "I hope The Fridge is sitting at home and he can see me put one in the end zone, can see that and says 'I did that and I did it better.'"
Detroit Lions: Given the first rookie quarterback on the schedule -- Sam Darnold -- put up a 116.8 rating and 48 points in Week 1 for the Jets, defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni will stress to his defense there are no rookies in the NFL this time of year. The Lions draw first-round QBs in Josh Rosen (Sunday vs. Arizona) and Josh Allen (Week 15 vs. Buffalo) the next two games. Darnold completed 76 percent of his passes in the surprising Week 1 blowout. Head coach Matt Patricia said Rosen is benefiting from a polished supporting cast. "They've got a lot of good players, Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson, they just give him an opportunity to get the ball to those guys in different ways, to allow him to control it," Patricia said. "He's obviously learning and going through the process right now."
Green Bay Packers: Asking wide receiver Davante Adams how he feels about a fresh start on the heels of a coaching change brought a thoughtful, emotional response. "It's tough. That insinuates I'm in favor of him being fired. There's obviously a negative stigma lately. You mention Mike McCarthy's name in a public setting and I'm sure it carries a negative connotation. Same time, he's done amazing things for this town and obviously the football team, he's been able to contribute a lot to us as men individually. It's sad to see him gone. Like I said, I have a lot of respect for him. It's sad to see him gone. ... Hopefully things get better from here on out, and things get better for him as well."
Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings are passing the ball more than 67 percent of their offensive plays and head coach Mike Zimmer repeated Sunday his desire for offensive coordinator John DeFilippo to call more running plays. But with many insinuating there is a growing rift between the coaches, Zimmer tried Wednesday to diffuse that theory. "I think Flip is doing a good job," Zimmer said. "We talk all the time. We talk about things, what I think are important, and I think he tries to do those."
Atlanta Falcons: Quarterback Matt Ryan has been sacked 36 times and taken a lot of punishment this season, which worries the Falcons. Ryan was knocked down eight times in last Sunday's loss to the Baltimore Ravens to raise his season total to an NFL-leading 91. "I'm concerned about it because if we're not protecting him in the way that we can, then that gets hard," Atlanta coach Dan Quinn said in a press conference. "There are some games that the score is out of whack and it turns into a dropback game, there are going to be more chances for a defense to go after them, you know that. But at the end of it, yeah, I'm concerned, but I'm as concerned about us playing as well as we can." Considering the abuse, Ryan has a stellar touchdown-to-interceptions rate of 25 to 5.
Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton continues to have shoulder woes and the quarterback admits he may need further surgery in the future. He had his throwing shoulder repaired following the 2016 season but he is again experiencing issues. "I would not have expected me to still have things lingering from that (surgery), but at the end of the day it is what it is," Newton told reporters. "It's about managing pain and understanding you have a job to do, a responsibility to put your best product out on the field, and I want to do that for myself and this team." Coach Ron Rivera suggested the injury could lead to someone else -- Taylor Heinicke is the backup -- on the field if it worsens. "We just have to be ready to do something different if we have to," Rivera said. "I think that's probably where we are going to get to. I'm not sure yet, but we'll see how it goes."
New Orleans Saints: One of the team's two losses came in Week 1 when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers notched a 48-40 victory. The teams clash again on Sunday and cornerback Marshon Lattimore will be under the microscope after having troubles with Tampa Bay receiver Mike Evans (seven receptions for 147 yards, including a 50-yard touchdown). Lattimore has bounced back from that contest to enjoy a solid season and Saints coach Sean Payton doesn't think the focus should be on the 22-year-old. "It wasn't just about Mike and Marshon that day," Payton said on a conference call. "The quarterback (Ryan Fitzpatrick) was comfortable in the pocket and in this league you have really good football players. A quarterback that's throwing it extremely well, we turned the ball over offensively. There were a number of things, but yes, Marshon we feel like is one of the better corners in this league and I'm glad we have him."
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Coach Dirk Koetter isn't sure he wants to get into a second shootout with the explosive Saints but also thinks what happened in Week 1 has no bearing on the rematch. "That was a shootout in Game 1," Koetter said. "Their offense has been on fire all season and the thing that jumps out at me is how well their defense is playing and I'm not saying they didn't play well before, but they're No. 1 in the league in rush defense and the pressure they're getting on quarterbacks (is impressive). I just think that was a day in Week 1 where we were fortunate to win the turnover battle (New Orleans committed the only two) and both teams were making a lot of plays and we made just enough."
Arizona Cardinals: With left tackle D.J. Humphries (knee) placed on injured reserve, the Cardinals are now without all five of their original offensive line starters entering training camp. Center A.Q. Shipley (knee) was lost in August, and right guard Justin Pugh (knee) followed in November. Left guard Mike Iupati (knee) went on IR on Tuesday, a week after right tackle Andre Smith was released. Humphries had a setback with his knee last week, coach Steve Wilks said, and was shut down with hopes of avoiding major surgery, which will be determined sometime in the future. A first-round pick in 2015, Humphries has played in just 27 games in four years. The team picked up his fifth-year option, which is worth $9.625 million and guaranteed only for injury, in April.
Los Angeles Rams: With backup running back Malcolm Brown (broken collarbone) likely headed to IR, coach Sean McVay told reporters second-year back Justin Davis and rookie sixth-rounder John Kelly will share the role moving forward, depending on the situation. Neither has played an offensive snap all season, and Kelly has yet to play in an NFL game as he's been inactive all year. "I think it's going to be more anxiousness than anything," Kelly said when asked about nerves. "I don't really do nervous." Kelly ran for 197 yards and three scores on 46 carries in the preseason, while Davis had seven carries for 41 yards.
San Francisco 49ers: As he prepares to face the team his father, Mike Shanahan, led to two Super Bowl titles, Kyle Shanahan told reporters Wednesday he's glad the Denver Broncos didn't hire him as their head coach in 2017. "Definitely thought it was a much better situation for myself (in San Francisco), not that that was my choice or anything," said Shanahan, who had a four-hour interview in Denver before the Broncos hired Vance Joseph. Kyle Shanahan was later hired by the 49ers. "I'd like to say I made the decision pretty hard on them," he added. "I definitely am happy where I am, and I think it's definitely a better situation not being there with my dad. Also, that's my wife's home. That's my home. I enjoy going back there to visit, but I like living where I'm at." Mike Shanahan also won a Super Bowl with the 49ers, as their offensive coordinator in 1994.
Seattle Seahawks: Bobby Wagner has been to four consecutive Pro Bowls and named first-team All-Pro three times in that span, but he had never won NFC Defensive Player of the Week in his seven-year career until Wednesday. The honor was well deserved, as Wagner stuffed the stat sheet about as full as possible against the 49ers on Sunday, posting 12 tackles (two for loss), one sack, two QB hits, two passes defensed, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and an interception, which he returned 98 yards for a touchdown. Wagner has 97 tackles this season despite, according to Pro Football Focus, not missing one all year.
--Field Level Media
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)