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Pats TE Gronkowski won’t play vs. Bengals

Rob Gronkowski did not travel with the New England Patriots to Cincinnati and will not play Sunday against the Bengals, delaying the star tight end’s season debut by at least another week.

Gronkowski is recovering from back and forearm injuries. He has not played yet this season.

Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola, who is listed as questionable, is traveling with the team.

Amendola has missed each of the past three games while nursing a groin injury suffered in Week 1. The receiver said he had a “good practice” on Friday and is “looking forward to Sunday.”

Amendola’s potential return comes at a time when the Patriots have three other receivers on the injury report — rookies Aaron Dobson (neck) and Kenbrell Thompkins (shoulder) and special teams captain Matthew Slater (wrist). Dobson and Thompkins are both questionable for Sunday’s game, while Slater is doubtful.

Without Gronkowski, the Patriots will have just two players at tight end on the 46-man game-day roster — Michael Hoomanawanui and Matthew Mulligan.

New England has been turning to more two-back sets, with fullback James Develin, over multiple tight-end packages this season.

New England also will be without running back Stevan Ridley, who is out with a knee injury, and special teams member Tavon Wilson. Wilson plays on the “Big 4″ units — kickoff coverage, kickoff return, punt coverage and punt return. He was downgraded to out Saturday.

Running backs Brandon Bolden (knee) and Leon Washington (thigh) have been limited in practice this week and each is listed as questionable.

The Patriots made a pair of roster moves Saturday to finalize their 53-man roster, promoting rookie safety Kanorris Davis and rookie linebacker Ja’Gared Davis from the practice squad.

Information from’s Field Yates was used in this report.

  • Covered Patriots since 1997
  • Joined ESPN in 2009
  • ESPN NFL Insider
  • Joined ESPN in 2009
  • Former president of the Pro Football Writers of America and the author of four books


Bills now open to trading Byrd, sources say

With the Buffalo Bills and safety Jairus Byrd failing to bridge their differences on a long-term deal, the team is open to dealing the player that received their franchise tag before this season, league sources said.

Getting back a draft pick for a player likely to walk away from Buffalo after this season would be considered a victory, and the skids were greased further this week when two trades were completed with teams picking up much of a player’s contract to facilitate a deal.

The Jacksonville Jaguars agreed to pay the majority of offensive tackle Eugene Monroe‘s contract when they traded him to the Baltimore Ravens, and the Arizona Cardinals did the same with offensive tackle Levi Brown when they traded him to the Pittsburgh Steelers, setting the precedent for a deal.

Byrd hasn’t appeared in a game yet this season for the Bills. He has plantar fasciitis, a foot condition, and has said he wants to be fully healthy before returning to the field.

He said he was ready to play last Thursday when the Bills faced the Cleveland Browns but coach Doug Marrone decided to hold him out.

Byrd, 26, has been Buffalo’s most consistent defender in recent seasons. A second-round pick in 2009 out of Oregon, he was fourth on the team in tackles in 2012 with 76 and led the team in interceptions with five. Bills reporter Mike Rodak contributed to this report.

  • ESPN NFL Insider
  • Joined ESPN in 2009
  • Former president of the Pro Football Writers of America and the author of four books


Hoyer has torn ACL, will miss rest of season

CLEVELAND — Cleveland Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer suffered a complete tear of the ACL in his right knee during Thursday night’s victory against the Buffalo Bills and needs season-ending surgery, coach Rob Chudzinski said Friday.

“I talked to Brian,” Chudzinski said. “Obviously he is disappointed. But if you know him, and you guys have been around him a little bit to know how positive he is and what type of person he is, he’s already thinking about when he’s going to be back. 

“I reassured him of that as well. I wanted him to know what he meant to us, but he’ll be back. He’ll make it back.”

The Browns again will turn to Brandon Weeden and hope that he plays more like the guy who did fairly well in relief against Buffalo than the guy who struggled so badly in Cleveland’s first two games, both losses.

What gives Chudzinski belief that he can get what he needs from Weeden?

“Because we have no other choice,” Chudzinski said. “That’s what we’re going to do. Everybody who plays, regardless of position, we expect to do well.”

The team was to assess what to do as far as adding a third quarterback during a meeting Friday afternoon. Cleveland could go with an inexperienced player, as it did with Hoyer, or it could reach out to an available veteran. If

If the Browns do pursue a veteran, it won’t be Josh Freeman, who was released Thursday by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. ESPN Cleveland 1540 AM, citing a source, reported the Browns have eliminated Freeman as an option. 

Hoyer’s loss is a tough blow to a team and fan base that had been energized by the play of the Ohio native. The Browns (3-2) combined for 16 points in the two games Weeden started to open the season but were energized by Hoyer’s quick decision-making and accuracy in wins against the Minnesota Vikings and the Cincinnati Bengals.

The injury to Hoyer came with suddenness and shock. He was hurt 3:57 into the game when he was hit by Bills linebacker Kiko Alonso as the quarterback went to slide following an 11-yard run. Alonso’s momentum took him over Hoyer’s chest, and the quarterback’s knees were caught awkwardly underneath him.

Hoyer immediately rolled over, his face expressing pain.

“It’s never good to see your quarterback go down in that fashion,” tight end Jordan Cameron said after the win.

Added Weeden: “You hate to see it. You hate to see it because he’s a teammate, a friend, and he was helping this team win.”

Both starting quarterbacks were injured in the game. Bills rookie EJ Manuel left after taking a shot to the knees from safety Tashaun Gipson at the end of a run. Gipson got up and celebrated after the hit, which angered Bills players and led one to call the Browns classless.

“I definitely don’t intentionally try to hurt anybody,” Gipson said. “I wouldn’t dare do that. I’m not that kind of player. It’s the game of football. Our quarterback took a shot. Their quarterback took a shot. Not to say that we were trying to go one for one, but it’s the game of football.”

  • Covered Browns, Cleveland sports since 1998
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  • Cleveland native, proud father of two daughters


Falcons RB Jackson (hamstring) out vs. Jets

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Atlanta Falcons running back Steven Jackson has been ruled out for Monday’s game against the New York Jets because of a hamstring injury, coach Mike Smith said Saturday.

Smith held out hope that Jackson might recover in time to suit up. But the veteran running back was simply an observer at practice throughout the entire week.

Jackson suffered the injury in the first quarter of the Atlanta’s Week 2 win over the St. Louis Rams and hasn’t practiced since. A league source previously told that Jackson wouldn’t return until at least Week 7, when the Falcons face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Oct. 20).

The Falcons have a bye next week.

Jackson recently wrote an apology to fans on his personal blog and said he would not return until 100 percent healthy.

With Jackson sidelined, Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling will carry the load out of Atlanta’s backfield.

The Falcons previously ruled out middle linebacker Akeem Dent (ankle) and left tackle Sam Baker (knee). Omar Gaither will start for Dent, while Lamar Holmes replaces Baker.

  • Covered Bears for seven seasons at Chicago Tribune
  • Also worked at Chicago Sun-Times, Fresno Bee
  • Honorable mention, Football Writers Association of America for enterprise writing, 2002


Ravens part ways with veteran WR Stokley

The Baltimore Ravens cut wide receiver Brandon Stokley and re-signed tight end Billy Bajema for Sunday’s game at the Miami Dolphins.

Stokley was inactive last Sunday because of a groin injury and didn’t practice Friday. He caught nine passes for 79 yards for the Ravens in three games.

The Ravens added Bajema because they only had two other tight ends on the roster — Dallas Clark and Ed Dickson. Bajema was released earlier in the week to make room for offensive tackle Eugene Monroe, who was acquired in a trade from Jacksonville.

This was Stokley’s second stint with the Ravens. He caught a touchdown pass for the Ravens in their first Super Bowl victory in January 2001. The Baltimore Sun reported that Stokley could possibly be re-signed by the Ravens next week.

  • University of Maryland graduate
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