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Frustrated Marshall just wants Bears to win

Brandon Marshall expressed frustration with his performance and role in the offense coming off his least productive game of the season Sunday in a 26-18 loss to the New Orleans Saints.

Still, Marshall maintained faith that coach Marc Trestman is doing what’s best for the team.

“The frustration comes from when we’re not winning and the offense isn’t moving the ball. It has nothing to do [with] me. It’s about I want to win,” Marshall said. “I’ve got a nice contract. I’ve been to Pro Bowls. I’ve made all-Pro. I want to win. Sometimes, the formula may go to me. But sometimes, whatever is best for the team, that’s what we need to do. So I’m always gonna be frustrated when our offense isn’t No. 1 in the league. I’m always gonna be frustrated when we’re losing. So yeah, I’m frustrated. We just lost two in a row.”

Marshall caught four passes for 30 yards and a touchdown in the loss, but quarterback Jay Cutler targeted him just five times, while throwing 13 balls in the direction of Alshon Jeffery, and six to Matt Forte.

Jeffery caught 10 passes for a franchise single-game record 218 yards, which Marshall said was “one of the only positives” of the club’s outing against the Saints.

Marshall faced double coverage for the majority of Sunday’s game, and said what New Orleans did defensively didn’t come as a surprise. Marshall admitted, “I’ve got to do a better job of putting myself in position to beat double coverage,” but there were times the receiver wasn’t even on the field and others where he served as a decoy or an extra blocker.

“They weren’t going to let him have a good day,” Cutler said of New Orleans’ defense. “They decided, ‘Hey, it’s not going to happen.’ They were going to take him out of the ball game. He still made some plays for us. He might be frustrated, but we just have to keep getting better and better, and he understands that.”

Asked for an explanation behind the way the club deployed him against the Saints, Marshall said, “You’ve got to ask Coach Trestman that.

“I try to just focus on what I can control. There’s times where it might be third down where I might be doing some chip blocking to help out the offensive line. I’ve just got to hang my hat on [the idea] that we’re doing what’s best for the team. There’s some times where I’m running some routes to pull the coverage.”

Marshall started the season catching 15 passes for 217 yards and two touchdowns in the first two games, but has since hauled in 16 passes for 171 yards and one TD in the last three contests.

“It’s really tough. I’m not going to lie to you,” Marshall said. “Like I said last week after the game, my No. 1 goal going into the work week was to work on my body language when I’m not in the game. It’s been like that the first few weeks, and I kind of let myself down and the guys around me with my body language. So I got better at that today. They took me out the game, and that’s one positive for myself — just try to keep my head up and keep myself ready for when I’m available for the team whenever they call my number I just try to be there because if you beat yourself up too much or you get too down or too frustrated at the play calling or coverage, the ball comes your way and you drop it.

“So I’m proud of myself today. Sorry for patting myself on the back, but there’s not too much that I can hang my hat on today. We lost. I got shut out.”

That wasn’t the plan for the Bears offensively, according to Trestman, who said Marshall is “always designated to get involved early” in the club’s passing game.

“I want to get Brandon the ball. We want to get Brandon the ball,” Trestman said. “There were a couple of shots early. Jay looked back and he was open a couple of times, then protection got in his face and he was forced to move, which was disappointing. That starts with me. I’ve got to do a better job of getting him involved.”

Can Chicago’s offense be successful with Marshall as a decoy?

“I don’t know, man,” Marshall said. “We’ve been struggling the past few weeks. Even the games we’ve won, the defense is scoring and they’ve played lights out. So you take away some of those plays we may not be in those games. As a receiver, you always want the ball. Your mentality is it’s always better when you’re getting it. But Coach Trestman is an offensive guru and Jay’s a good quarterback, and we’re gonna do what’s best for the team.”

In the past, Marshall made suggestions during games to Trestman and Cutler about how to better get the ball into his hands. According to Marshall, that has stopped because it takes him “out of my game.”

“Mentally, it was too much for me,” Marshall said. “So moving forward, I’m just gonna do my job and be a wide receiver. I believe in Coach Trestman and Jay and the offensive linemen and the guys around us will make the plays and do what’s best for the team. Sometimes, you communicate too much. I was too frustrated. There were times the ball came my way and I dropped it because I was so frustrated. So I think what’s best for me is to just stay where I’m supposed to be and that’s wide receiver. If I try to be a coach or try to discuss things, I may get us in trouble.”

Cutler, meanwhile, just hopes Marshall maintains faith in the system.

“It’s going to come,” Cutler said. “You can’t keep doubling him and letting another receiver go for 200 yards. It’s silly to keep doing that. He’s going to get his. He’s going to have to keep trusting us.”

  • Joined ESPN in 2010
  • Previously covered Jaguars and Redskins
  • Played college football at West Texas A&M


Coughlin calls Eli’s turnovers ‘demoralizing’

Updated: October 6, 2013, 9:47 PM ET

Dan Graziano

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — As the New York Giants‘ season continues to spiral down the drain and the team finds new ways to lose, the latest loss falls on the shoulders of two-time Super Bowl MVP quarterback Eli Manning.

At least that’s the way coach Tom Coughlin made it sound in the wake of Sunday’s 36-21 loss to the Eagles — one that saw Manning throw three interceptions — that dropped the Giants to 0-5.

“Twenty-two to 21, and it’s a good football game,” Coughlin said. “We just started the fourth quarter and there’s no reason to believe that we can’t continue that kind of play. Then the turnovers started to come. That gave them the short field and the easy scores. It was very demoralizing for the sideline.”

The Giants trailed just 22-21 with 10:49 left in the game when Manning threw his first interception. Eagles linebacker Mychal Kendricks returned it to the Giants 25, and Nick Foles threw a touchdown pass to Brent Celek on the next play to give Philadelphia a 29-21 lead.

Three plays later, another Manning pass was intercepted, this time on an incredibly acrobatic play by Brandon Boykin at the Giants 38. The Eagles scored another touchdown four plays later. Then, on the next possession, Manning threw his third interception of the game and his league-leading 12th of the season — which gave him three interceptions in a span of nine throws, to go with three intentional grounding penalties for the game.

“I honestly believe that he’s trying so hard to get us a win, he’s almost put too much on himself,” Coughlin said. “And I’m not making excuses. There were a couple of those plays that were terrible. The intentional grounding penalties hurt so badly, because not only distance but to lose the down. I think we can make some progress with regard to preventing that. I think we do have to sometimes just cover the ball and go down.”

Not the kind of thing you think you’d have to explain to a two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback in his 10th NFL season. But times are tough for Coughlin, Manning and the Giants; everything seems to be going wrong.

“I just grabbed him a moment in the locker room,” Coughlin said. “He’s way, way too good a player to have these kinds of things happen.”

Manning obviously isn’t in danger of losing his job to backup Curtis Painter, but Coughlin’s message to the QB is to stop doing things that make it tougher to win games. Manning says he’s aware.

“I know I can play better,” Manning said. “Sometimes in a game, things are going to go wrong and you have to make the best decision — whatever that is, throw it away, take a sack. But I know I can’t keep turning the ball over.”

  • Joined ESPN in 2011
  • New Jersey native and author of two published novels


Cowboys WR Austin inactive vs. Broncos

Updated: October 6, 2013, 3:17 PM ET

Todd Archer

ARLINGTON, Texas — Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Miles Austin will miss his second straight game Sunday against the Denver Broncos because of a hamstring strain suffered two weeks ago against the St. Louis Rams.

Austin had been listed as doubtful but planned to run before Sunday’s game to make a determination on whether he could play. Austin has not practiced since suffering the injury, but he increased his on-field rehab work last week and said Friday he was “feeling better.”

Rookie Terrance Williams will replace Austin in the starting lineup. It is the second time in three years Austin has missed at least two games in a season. He missed six games in 2011, and while he did not miss a game last season, he was bothered by a strain for much of the season.

Linebacker Justin Durant (groin) is also inactive and will be replaced by Ernie Sims.

  • Covered NFL since 1997, Cowboys since 2003
  • Previously covered Bengals and Dolphins
  • Lives in Dallas area with his wife and two children


Bengals halt Brady’s TD streak, edge Pats


Bengals halt Tom Brady’s touchdown streak, edge Patriots

Bengals Deal Patriots First Loss

CINCINNATI — Tom Brady couldn’t get into the end zone against a defense that’s developing a reputation for taking down the league’s top quarterbacks.

Aaron Rodgers found out. And so did Brady, running on empty all game long.The Bengals ended Brady’s streak of 52 consecutive games with a touchdown pass on Sunday, sacking him on his first pass attempt and keeping the pressure going.The defense even helped BenJarvus Green-Ellis get into the end zone for the game’s only touchdown in a 13-6 victory over the previously undefeated Patriots.It was so impressive that defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer was handed a rain-drenched game ball in the locker room.”That’s a great accomplishment,” coach Marvin Lewis said. “I don’t normally give out game balls, but I gave that one to Zimmer. They played well today. They were tight in coverage most of the day. Upfront, they got after it.”Geno Atkins sacked Brady on his first pass attempt, and the Bengals (3-2) dropped him four times overall. And that wasn’t all: New England (4-1) failed to get into the end zone after a first-and-goal from the 1-yard line in the fourth quarter.One yard too much for New England? Stunning.”I’m bummed that we lost,” Brady said of his broken streak. “I think that’s all that really matters.”A driving rain moved in just before New England’s final chance. After a couple of dropped passes, Brady threw one toward the goal line and Adam “Pacman” Jones made a juggling interception inside the Cincinnati 5-yard line.Some finish.”We knew we were going to have our hands full, but we were able to get to Brady on the second play,” defensive tackle Domata Peko said. “After that, you could see he was a little shaky. If you hit somebody enough, they’re going to make mistakes.”Brady had thrown a touchdown pass in 52 straight games, the second-longest streak in NFL history behind Drew Brees‘ 54-game streak.The Patriots were held out of the end zone for the first time since a 16-9 loss to the Jets on Sept. 20, 2009.”All week long, all you guys were talking about was Tom Brady,” safety Chris Crocker said. “We wanted them to be talking about us.”They are now, with good reason.Two weeks earlier at Paul Brown Stadium, the Bengals’ defense stymied Rodgers in a 34-30 win over Green Bay, overcoming four turnovers by Cincinnati’s offense that gave the Packers good field position.Brady never got into a rhythm against Cincinnati’s unrelenting pass rush. He finished 18 of 38 for 197 yards with one interception and a paltry passer rating of 52.2.Cincinnati’s defense even had a hand — well, a shoulder — in the winning touchdown.The Bengals had failed to score a touchdown during a 17-6 loss at Cleveland, one that left them looking to establish an identity on offense by running the ball. They did what they wanted in one grinding drive.Cincinnati went 93 yards in 14 plays for its touchdown, holding the ball for 7 minutes, 48 seconds. Peko came in as a blocking fullback on third-and-goal from inside the 1-yard line but took off too soon, a false start.Andy Dalton scrambled to the 1 on a keeper, and Peko came in and plowed the way for Green-Ellis to score on fourth down.Dalton was 20 of 27 for 212 yards with four sacks and one costly interception. He scrambled away from pressure and threw back across the field in the first quarter, getting intercepted by Brandon Spikes at the 8-yard line.It was the first time during his three-year career that Dalton threw an interception on a play that started inside the opponent’s 20-yard line.Given how the defense was playing, the one touchdown drive was good enough.”It’s definitely fun to watch those guys go out and play,” Dalton said. “They’re doing so many good things, and to see what they do to a guy like Tom Brady and what they’ve done to a lot of these quarterbacks — they’re some of the best in the league.”They’re playing unbelievable.”

Game notes

Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski was inactive for the fifth time. He’s recovering from a forearm injury and back surgery. … Brady had been 4-0 against the Bengals with a 114 passer rating. … WR Austin Collie, signed on Thursday, also was inactive. … DL Tommy Kelly hurt his right knee in the fourth quarter but walked off the field. … New England has a takeaway in 32 straight games, the longest active streak in the league. … Bengals CB Leon Hall missed a second straight game with a hamstring injury.—AP NFL website:

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Luck, Colts rally to hand Seahawks 1st loss


Andrew Luck, Colts rally to knock Seahawks from ranks of unbeaten

Colts Hand Seahawks First Loss

INDIANAPOLIS — Andrew Luck handed Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks their first loss of the season.

On a day, the Colts’ offense struggled at times, Luck threw for 229 yards and two touchdowns and Donald Brown put the Colts ahead with a 3-yard TD run early in the fourth quarter to knock off previously unbeaten Seattle 34-28.

Luck led yet another fourth-quarter comeback, his ninth in 21 career games.

Good To Have Luck On Side

Andrew Luck did it again Sunday, leading the Colts to a comeback win against the Seahawks. It was his ninth game-winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime, tied for the most for a QB in his first two seasons since 1966. Here’s a look:

Seasons Quarterbacks GW Drives
2012-13 Andrew Luck 9
1997-98 Jake Plummer 9
1998-99 P. Manning 8
— Elias Sports Bureau

He led the Colts on a long, methodical scoring drive to open the fourth quarter, capping it with Brown’s TD run and then throwing to Reggie Wayne for a 2-point conversion.

Indy then used the clock on another long drive that ended with Adam Vinatieri‘s 49-yard field goal.

Wilson finished 15 of 31 for 210 yards with two TDs, one interception and ran 13 times for 102 yards. Marshawn Lynch ran 17 times for 102 yards.

T.Y. Hilton had five catches for a career-high 140 yards.

For the Seahawks (4-1), it was a loss that seemed every bit as inexplicable as last week’s victory in Houston.

Despite playing without three starting offensive linemen for the second straight week, Seattle dominated the first half, rushed for 218 yards and seemed to be in control for most of the game.

Seattle lost its first regular-season game since Nov. 25 at Miami, ending a nine-game winning streak.

The game featured two blocked kicks that wound up going for scores, a 73-yard TD pass from Luck to Hilton and two 2-point conversion tries by the Colts.

But Seattle was just 2 of 12 on third down conversions, played the final nine minutes without a timeout and settled for too many field goals.

It was a costly combination.

But it didn’t look as if it would end this way when Seattle opened the game by driving for a field goal, a touchdown and then got a safety after a blocked punt to make it 12-0 with 4:53 left in the first.

The Colts rallied with the long TD pass to Hilton and took the lead when Delano Howell returned a blocked field goal 61 yards for a TD.

Seattle led 19-17 at the half and appeared to take control in the third quarter after settling for two quick field goals to make it 25-17.

But Luck hooked up with Hilton again, this time on a nifty 29-yard throw down the sideline to cut the deficit to 25-23 with 4:16 left in the third.

Brown gave Indy the lead for good early in the fourth, after coach Chuck Pagano won a challenge on a third-down spot that turned a fourth down into a first down.

The Colts were in control the rest of the way.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Lions’ Johnson: ‘Working hard to get back’

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Calvin Johnson‘s absence was evident on the field for the Detroit Lions during their 22-9 loss to Green Bay on Sunday.

But Johnson apparently was close to playing despite his knee injury. The star wide receiver was declared inactive Sunday after being listed as questionable throughout the week.

“Real close,” Johnson said. “Obviously we weren’t all the way there today, so working hard to get back.”

The Lions hope that the knee injury, which was different than the strain Johnson had last season, will not be long-term.

“Calvin’s a tough guy,” Lions coach Jim Schwartz said. “He’s a hard worker and he’s going to work hard to get back as quick as he can.”

Schwartz declined to speculate when Johnson, who is the Lions’ leading receiver with 21 receptions for 312 yards and four touchdowns, would return. He also is the catalyst for a lot of double teams for opposing defenses.

Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford said he had an idea Johnson might not play on Saturday, but wasn’t completely sure until he was ruled inactive following warmups.

“[I knew Johnson was out] about the same time y’all did,” Lions receiver Kris Durham said. “We were more prepared like there’s a chance he may not play, but we didn’t know for sure until he got out there and tested it in warmups and stuff.”

In other injury news, running back Theo Riddick was taken to a hospital and was diagnosed with a concussion, but returned to the team by the end of the game and went back to Michigan with the Lions.

  • Previously covered University of Michigan for and
  • Also covered Notre Dame for Fort Wayne Journal Gazette


Ravens fight off Dolphins’ comeback attempt


Ravens fight off Dolphins’ comeback attempt


MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Frantically trying to protect a slim lead late in the fourth quarter, the Baltimore Ravens‘ pass rushers let Ryan Tannehill slip away to throw for a big gain.

The next time they made sure he didn’t escape.Elvis Dumervil sacked Tannehill for a 5-yard loss in the final minute to push the Miami Dolphins to the edge of field-goal range, and two plays later Caleb Sturgis missed a 57-yard try, giving Baltimore a 26-23 victory Sunday.Baltimore finished with six sacks, three by Terrell Suggs.”We weren’t perfect, but we made plays we needed to,” Suggs said.Justin Tucker kicked a 44-yard field goal to put the Ravens ahead with 1:42 left.Then Tannehill, under pressure all day, scrambled to his left before completing a 46-yard pass to Brandon Gibson on fourth down to keep the Dolphins’ hopes alive and give them a first down at the 34.Dumervil pushed them back to the 39.”We had good coverage, and I was able to make the play,” he said.That might have been enough to make Sturgis miss. He was wide left with 33 seconds to go.”Bad time to miss,” said the rookie, who had been 10 for 10. “I wanted to make sure I got it there. Unfortunately I hooked it pretty good.”The Ravens (3-2) rediscovered their ground game, bounced back from a loss last week at Buffalo and won on the road for the first time this season.The Dolphins (3-2) lost their second game in a row, with their pass protection again a culprit. Tannehill came into the game with 18 sacks, the most of any NFL quarterback.”It’s hard to function offensively when you’re going backward,” coach Joe Philbin said. “We’re going to fix the problems we have. We’re not going to sweep them under the rug.”Baltimore’s Joe Flacco passed for 269 yards and had one interception after throwing a career-high five interceptions last week. He had three completions of at least 40 yards, and each set up a score.The Ravens ran for a season-high 133 yards. Ray Rice rushed for a season-best 74 and caught six passes for 28. Torrey Smith made six catches for 121 yards.Despite being outgained and outplayed, the Dolphins mounted a furious rally. Trailing 23-13 with 10 minutes left, they scored twice in 95 seconds.Reshad Jones tied the game at 23 by returning an interception 25 yards for a touchdown. Flacco was throwing from the goal line on third down when his right arm and the ball were hit by Dion Jordan, and the pass fluttered to Jones, who ran untouched for the score.”Stuff happens,” Flacco said. “You get mad at yourself for a couple of seconds, then you go to the sideline to regroup.””Joe never gets fazed,” coach John Harbaugh said. “He’s not going to get rattled.”Flacco moved Baltimore 34 yards to set up Tucker’s tiebreaking field goal, his fourth of the day. The score triggered a roar, with perhaps 10,000 Ravens rooters in the crowd of 68,342.”How many fans did we have here?” Harbaugh said. “It seemed like half the stadium. They were loud the whole game.”Flacco led drives of 80, 73 and 94 yards on the Ravens’ first three possessions of the second half, each resulting in a score to transform a 13-6 deficit into a 23-13 lead.Tannehill couldn’t quite keep up. He finished 21 for 40 for 307 yards with one touchdown and no turnovers, but the Ravens’ sacks cost Miami 35 yards.”We knew coming in they had a good pass rush,” Tannehill said. “Especially when you get behind 10, we knew they were going to be teeing off. As a unit we just all need to step up and do everything we can to handle the pass rush.”The pressure was fiercest in the fourth quarter, when Suggs had all of his sacks.”My wife told me, `Bring mama home three sacks,” he said. “It came down the stretch and it was time to get going.”

Game notes

Dolphins DE Cameron Wake, nursing a left knee injury, started but played only briefly. Miami LB Dannell Ellerbe hurt his shoulder in the second quarter. CB Nolan Carroll left the game in the third quarter with a rib injury. … Ravens G Kelechi Osemele was sidelined by back spasms. … An interception by Baltimore’s James Ihedigbo was overturned, with the replay judge determining he was out of bounds. … Bernard Pierce had a 28-yard run, the Ravens’ longest this season. … Miami’s Mike Wallace had seven catches for 105 yards, but also dropped at least two passes.—AP NFL website: and—Follow Steven Wine on Twitter:

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Obama on Redskins: ‘Legitimate concerns’

Updated: October 5, 2013, 4:35 PM ET

Associated Press

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama says he would “think about changing” the Washington Redskins‘ name if he owned the football team as he waded into the controversy involving a word many consider offensive to Native Americans.

Obama, in an interview with The Associated Press, said team names such as the Redskins offend “a sizable group of people.” He said that while fans get attached to the names, nostalgia may not be a good enough reason to keep them in place.

“I don’t know whether our attachment to a particular name should override the real legitimate concerns that people have about these things,” he said in the interview, which was conducted Friday at the White House.

An avid sports fan who roots for his hometown Chicago Bears, Obama said he doesn’t think Washington football fans are purposely trying to offend American Indians.

“I don’t want to detract from the wonderful Redskins fans that are here. They love their team and rightly so,” he said.

I don’t know whether our attachment to a particular name should override the real legitimate concerns that people have about these things.

— President Barack Obama on ‘Redskins’

But he appeared to come down on the side of those who have sharply criticized the football team’s name, noting that Native Americans “feel pretty strongly” about mascots and team names that depict negative stereotypes about their heritage.

The team’s owner, Dan Snyder, has vowed to never abandon the name.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said last month that the league should pay attention to those offended by the name — a subtle change in position for Goodell, who had more strongly supported the name in his previous statements this year.

Lanny J. Davis, an attorney for the Redskins, said the team’s fans don’t intend to “disparage or disrespect” anyone.

“The name ‘Washington Redskins’ is 80 years old. It’s our history and legacy and tradition,” Davis said in an emailed statement in which he also identified himself as an Obama supporter. “We Redskins fans sing ‘Hail to the Redskins’ every Sunday as a word of honor, not disparagement.”

Other professional sports teams have Indian names, including football’s Kansas City Chiefs and baseball’s Atlanta Braves and Cleveland Indians. Davis referred to fans of those teams and hockey’s Chicago Blackhawks in his statement, saying Redskins fans “love our team and its name and, like those fans, we do not intend to disparage or disrespect a racial or ethnic group.”

Numerous colleges and universities have changed names that reference Native Americans. St. John’s changed its mascot from the Redmen to the Red Storm, Marquette is now the Golden Eagles instead of the Warriors and Stanford switched from the Indians to the Cardinal.

The Redskins’ name has attracted a fresh round of controversy in recent months, with local leaders in Washington calling for a name change and some media outlets refraining from using the name. The name is the subject of a long-running legal challenge from a group of American Indians seeking to block the team from having federal trademark protection.

Congressional lawmakers have introduced a bill seeking the same goal, though it appears unlikely to pass.

“What a prudent and wise use of the bully pulpit,” Suzan Shown Harjo, a plaintiff in that case, said in an interview Saturday. “I am so glad that he said that and I hope that people hear a reasoned response from the president and will pay attention to this issue.”

Harjo said the issue “involves lots of hurt and pain and ongoing name-calling and bullying of our children that goes with this name. We just need to have an end to it.”

“There’s no such thing as a good stereotype, no matter how well-intentioned, no matter how good people feel about it,” Harjo added. “It still has negative ramifications for our people.”

“These are relics of the past. They should be consigned to museums and history books and people can feel good about them there,” she said. “But they should not be allowed in polite society.”

Opponents of the Redskins name plan to hold a symposium Monday at the Washington hotel hosting the NFL’s fall meeting.

“We really appreciate the president underscoring what we’ve been saying,” said Ray Halbritter, leader of the Oneida Indian Nation, a tribe from upstate New York that’s been campaigning against the name. “There’s just no place for a professional football team to be using what the dictionary defines as a racially offensive term.”

Halbritter said the NFL and Snyder could “borrow a page from the president” and use a decision to change the team’s name as a “teachable moment.”

Despite the controversy, an AP-GfK poll conducted in April showed that, nationally, “Redskins” still enjoys wide support. Nearly four in five Americans don’t think the team should change its name, the survey found. Only 11 percent think it should be changed, while 8 percent weren’t sure and 2 percent didn’t answer.

Obama said he doesn’t have a direct stake in the Redskins debate since he’s not a team owner. But he hinted that might be part of his post-White House plans.

“Maybe after I leave the presidency,” he joked. “I think it would be a lot of fun.”

“I’d probably look at a basketball team before I looked at a football team,” said Obama, who plays basketball in his spare time, has coached his daughter’s basketball team and is a fan of the NBA’s Chicago Bulls. “I know more about basketball than I do about football.”

Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press


Jets’ Hill cleared to play; Winslow could sit

Updated: October 5, 2013, 4:36 PM ET

Rich Cimini

Six days after sustaining a concussion, wide receiver Stephen Hill was medically cleared for contact Saturday and is expected to play Monday night when the New York Jets face the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome.

But the Jets could be without their leading receiver, tight end Kellen Winslow, who didn’t practice and is listed as questionable. Winslow, hampered by chronic knee pain in recent years, usually gets a day off during the week, but he sat three of four practices this week.

Hill suffered a concussion on the second play of last week’s game on a shoulder-to-chin hit by Titans safety Michael Griffin, who was fined $21,000 by the league for an illegal hit. Hill walked off slowly and didn’t return to the game. On Friday, he returned to practice wearing the red (non-contact) jersey, as mandated by league rules. He practiced fully on Saturday.

As expected, the Jets won’t have wide receiver Santonio Holmes, who was ruled out with a significant hamstring injury. It’ll be a patchwork receiving corps, especially if Clyde Gates, who sat out Saturday with knee soreness, doesn’t play. He’s questionable.

The Jets (2-2) could end up fielding a receiving group of Hill, Jeremy Kerley and David Nelson, who was signed Tuesday as a free agent. On Saturday, they swapped No. 5 receivers, signing Michael Campbell from the practice squad and releasing Ryan Spadola.

The good news for the Jets is they will be healthier in the backfield than at any point this season. Mike Goodson, who served a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy, was added to the 53-man roster and is expected to make his Jets debut. He’s listed as probable, as is Chris Ivory, who sat out last week with a pulled hamstring.

Goodson could take over the kickoff-returning duties if Gates is out. This could be a difficult challenge for quarterback Geno Smith and the Jets’ offense, which committed four turnovers in last week’s 38-13 loss to the Tennessee Titans — all by the rookie quarterback. Because of injuries, only three players in the regular rotation practiced every day this week.

The Jets would miss Winslow, who leads the team with 16 receptions for 168 yards and a touchdown. They knew he was a medical risk, considering his history of knee surgeries. Concern over Winslow may have factored into the decision to claim former New England Patriots tight end Zach Sudfeld on Friday.

As expected, rookie cornerback Dee Milliner was ruled out for the second straight week with a pulled hamstring.

To make room for Goodson, the Jets waived linebacker Ricky Sapp.

  • Longtime Jets beat writer for New York Daily News
  • Syracuse University graduate


Source: Bills working out QBs White, Dixon

The Buffalo Bills will work out quarterbacks Pat White and Dennis Dixon on Sunday morning as they look for a replacement for EJ Manuel, sources told ESPN.

Whoever signs with Buffalo could wind up starting next weekend at home against the Cincinnati Bengals, coach Doug Marrone said Friday. Manuel, who sprained his LCL in Thursday’s loss to the Cleveland Browns, is expected to be out for several weeks.

The Bills are also talking with Josh Freeman, sources told ESPN.

Freeman was released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this week after being benched and deactivated for last Sunday’s game. He started 59 games for the Buccaneers after they drafted him in the first round in 2009.

The Bills were impressed with what they saw from White, who played against Buffalo in the preseason. White, a second-round pick in 2009, was released by the Washington Redskins last month.

Undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel replaced Manuel against the Browns and is the only healthy quarterback on the Bills’ roster.

  • Previously covered the Patriots for
  • Providence College graduate
  • ESPN NFL Insider
  • Joined ESPN in 2009
  • Former president of the Pro Football Writers of America and the author of four books