CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera was explaining on Wednesday the decision to place Pro Bowl defensive end Greg Hardy on the NFL commissioner's exempt list -- which amounts to a paid leave of absence while Hardy appeals his conviction for assaulting and threatening his ex-girlfriend.

"When I have to make decisions," Rivera said, "I make decisions that I believe are in the best interest of this organization. And don't ever forget that."

The coach pounded his fist repeatedly during his final words. He was intense. Emotional.

Unfortunately, he was 65 days late.

[+] EnlargePanthers general manager Dave Gettleman
AP Photo/Chuck Burton"There's no magic list we can hit checkboxes that bring us to the right answer," Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman said.
This or some form of discipline should have taken place July 15, when a Mecklenburg County judge found Hardy guilty of assaulting and threatening ex-girlfriend Nicole Holder.

Had the team acted immediately there wouldn't be the uproar there is now, the week after video emerged of former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice punching his then-fiancée and days after Minnesota Vikings star Adrian Peterson was indicted on child-abuse charges.

But the Panthers didn't act immediately. Instead of being proactive, they let Hardy play throughout the preseason and in the first regular-season game.

Then they reacted -- twice -- to decisions the Vikings made about Peterson.

On Friday, Rivera said Hardy would play against Detroit. The only thing that changed between then and Sunday morning, when he deactivated Hardy, was Minnesota's decision to deactivate Peterson for its Week 2 game.

On Monday, Rivera said Hardy would practice Wednesday. Then the Vikings, who on Monday said Peterson would play this weekend, applied for Peterson to be placed on the exempt list -- and Carolina's stance on Hardy changed again.

Had the Rice video never been released and had Peterson not been indicted, Hardy likely would be preparing for Sunday night's game against Pittsburgh.

General manager Dave Gettleman is right when he said there's no textbook for how to handle situations such as this. But there is a blueprint for doing something. Less than a year ago, in November 2013, the Vikings released cornerback A.J. Jefferson the day he was arrested on a felony count of domestic assault by strangulation.

Hardy got nothing when arrested and nothing when a judge found him guilty.

"Our overriding goal has always been to do the right thing," Gettleman said Wednesday.

He then said it was the right thing to deactivate Hardy after starting him the first game. He then said placing Hardy on the exempt list was the right thing to do, too.

"There's no magic list we can hit checkboxes that bring us to the right answer," Gettleman said.

The only list the Panthers followed was the precedence set by the Vikings.

Gettleman said this situation was different from Minnesota's. And it is. The Vikings said they made a mistake in saying Peterson would be activated this week, whereas the Panthers never said they made a mistake at any point.

They simply said the "climate has changed."

It should have changed 65 days ago.

Cardinals' depth chart at running back

September, 17, 2014
Sep 17
TEMPE, Ariz. -- With Jonathan Dwyer deactivated Wednesday after he was arrested on domestic violence and assault charges, the Arizona Cardinals are left with two healthy running backs and an injured starter heading into Sunday's game against the San Francisco 49ers.

Starting running back Andre Ellington missed Wednesday's practice as he continues to recover from a torn tendon in his left foot. He didn't practice Wednesday or Thursday last week before taking the field in a limited capacity Friday. Ellington ran for 91 yards on 15 carries Sunday against the New York Giants.

"Hopefully we'll get something out of him [Thursday]," Arians said during his Wednesday news conference. "It's not quite as sore as it was last week. He's in the boot and we'll keep him that way.

"Hopefully, tomorrow we'll get a little bIt more work than we've been getting the last couple of weeks and see some things. He may practice Thursday."

Dwyer, who was Ellington's backup, had 31 yards on nine carries and a touchdown against the Giants.

The two healthy running backs -- Stepfan Taylor and Robert Hughes -- have combined for two carries for four yards this season as Arizona's third and fourth options. Taylor's role will likely be increased, but he's a different back than Dwyer, who at 5-foot-11 and 229 pounds is two inches and 13 pounds heavier than Taylor.

Hughes was praised all preseason for his ability to be a multifaceted back and Cardinals coach Bruce Arians raved about his pass-catching ability as a fullback.

As of Wednesday evening, Chris Rainey was the only running back on the Cardinals' practice squad. Rainey was waived by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2013 after being accused of slapping his girlfriend. Rainey also pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor stalking charge while in college at Florida, according to reports.
videoMETAIRIE, La. -- New Orleans Saints linebacker Curtis Lofton and safety Kenny Vaccaro expressed disappointment, from both a competitive and personal standpoint, that they won't get to play against Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson on Sunday.

Lofton is a friend of Peterson's and both were teammates at Oklahoma. Vaccaro said Peterson, a fellow Texas native, has long been his favorite player.

"I was looking forward to it," Lofton said. "I was going to call it the 'Oklahoma drill,' meeting him in the gap."

Neither player offered an opinion on the Vikings' decision to place Peterson on the commissioner's exempt list, barring him from games and practices while he faces child abuse charges. Saints players and coach Sean Payton almost universally said Wednesday that they don't know enough about the specifics of the case to pass judgment.

Vaccaro, however, did say that he knows from his own childhood experience what it's like to be disciplined with a switch. Peterson was indicted on a charge of reckless or negligent injury to a child for using a small tree branch to whip his 4-year-old son.

"I don't know the exact details [of Peterson's case]. I haven't seen the pictures or anything," said Vaccaro, who, like Peterson, grew up in rural Texas -- though a different part of the state. "I just know growing up, my mom or dad, if I got in trouble, I got a spanking.

"I know exactly what a switch is. I'm sure you all do, too. I used to pick the skinniest one I could off the tree, take the leaves off for me. That's just the way it was. I grew up in a country town, and that wasn't a big deal. That was the standard."

Lofton, meanwhile, spoke highly of Peterson's character, saying, "If you know him, you understand that he's a humble guy and he puts everybody first before he puts himself."

"Adrian's one of the reasons I went to Oklahoma. He took me on my visit. He looked out after me during my first year of college," Lofton said. "I know Adrian, and it's kind of a sad thing he's going through. He'll get through it. He's a tough guy. I'm praying for him, and wish him the best."

Payton has a similar relationship with Vikings coach Mike Zimmer. The two became close friends while working together on the Dallas Cowboys' staff a decade ago.

Payton expressed both sympathy and confidence in Zimmer, who became a head coach for the first time this year.

"In Year 1, obviously as a head coach you're trying to eliminate the distractions as best you can," Payton said. "But he will handle it. He will handle it well."

As for the football ramifications of losing Peterson, the Vikings will likely lean most on third-year running back Matt Asiata as a replacement, as they did when Peterson was first deactivated last Sunday for a 30-7 loss to the New England Patriots.

Asiata ran the ball 13 times for 36 yards and caught five passes for 48 yards and a touchdown. Although Asiata isn't the same caliber of player as Peterson, Payton and players said they don't expect any drastic changes to the Vikings' scheme or style.

"Does it affect our game plan? It can to some degree, and yet every week we are kind of faced with some of those scenarios, be it one reason or another," Payton said.

Vaccaro said he's disappointed as both a fan of Peterson's and a competitor.

"Man, I was looking forward to it," Vaccaro said. "Growing up, he was my favorite player. From the time he went to Oklahoma until now. And it's a disappointment because you want to go against the best."
SAN DIEGO -- Exposed?

San Diego Chargers players I spoke with appeared unfamiliar with the term in reference to the team's performance against Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman.

According to a report from U-T San Diego, multiple Chargers used that word to describe the vociferous cornerback's play over the weekend.

Chargers second-year receiver Keenan Allen publicly expressed the strongest sentiment on Sherman.

"He's just a normal guy," Allen said. "We can go at him. We are not going to shy away from him. He's not really a shutdown corner."

The Chargers completed five passes for 60 yards against Sherman a week after Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers failed to throw a pass to his side in the opener for both teams.

Sherman left the locker room after the game without talking to reporters, but responded in a conversation with reporters in Seattle on Wednesday.

"I played pretty well," Sherman said. "But it's really funny that two little Chargers say I was exposed. One had 50 yards [Allen had five receptions for 55 yards], and one had 60 [Eddie Royal had seven receptions for 69 yards]. It makes you laugh."

Before Sherman's comments were known on Wednesday, receivers in San Diego's locker room spoke glowingly about the most vocal member of the Legion of Boom.

"Richard's a great player," Royal said. "I don't think the game changed my opinion about him. It made me have that much more respect for him, and the way he competes. He's a physical player. He's a smart player, and I think he's as good as advertised.

"He's one of the best in the game, and there's no question about that in anybody's mind."

Added receiver Malcom Floyd: "I wouldn't say he was exposed. I don't know if that's the correct word to use. I just think we did better than the few teams that have played him, and made some plays on him. I think he's one of the best corners in the league. So I wouldn't say he's been exposed."

Safety Eric Weddle echoed similar comments about Sherman on the Jim Rome Show.

"He's going to be targeted every time you go out there -- we all know that," Weddle said. "He knows that. We got a couple catches on him, but like he said, he didn't give up any touchdowns or big plays -- maybe a couple a couple third downs. But you're going to have to do a lot more than that to be exposed."

Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers said heading into the contest that he wouldn't shy away from Sherman, and that was the case over the weekend. However, San Diego's veteran quarterback said he's ready to focus on his team's the next opponent, the Buffalo Bills.

"We've moved on from that," Rivers said. "Keenan was great. And like I told y'all going in, I thought No. 41 (Byron Maxwell) on the other side was a heck of a corner also."
Santonio HolmesRon Antonelli/Getty ImagesThe Jets don't want to see Santonio Holmes celebrating in his return to MetLife Stadium.
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Let's start off by making this perfectly clear: The New York Jets made the right move by releasing Santonio Holmes last offseason. Too much money, too much baggage and not enough production.

Unfortunately for them, this isn't a case of out of sight, out of mind, because Holmes is very much on their mind as they prepare for the Chicago Bears. Even though he's a diminished player, he poses a threat to the Jets because he's a wide receiver, and any wide receiver with two healthy hands and sub-5.0 speed in the 40 has to be classified as dangerous against their porous secondary.

It's the Jets' worst nighmare, Holmes turning "Monday Night Football" into his personal stage, scoring a big touchdown and doing that silly jet-plane celebration. It's not a far-fetched scenario. For all his shortcomings, he's always been a big-moment player. He has a Super Bowl MVP trophy to prove it.

Imagine the fallout if the Jets go from The Timeout to Tone Time in one week. Actually, you don't want to imagine that.

Rex Ryan, not wanting to give Holmes any motivational fuel for his homecoming, gave his former player a glowing endorsement Wednesday during a conference call with the Chicago media. He portrayed Holmes as a cross between a Boy Scout, an altar boy and Jerry Rice, insisiting it's "totally untrue" that the petulant receiver was a divisive influence in the locker room during his five seasons with the Jets.

I believe Ryan when he says he genuinely likes Holmes, but Ryan also knows that Holmes, whose mouth sometimes was like the bull in the china shop, was the root of the locker-room turmoil that made the Jets a national punchline in 2011.

Who could forget the end of the 2011 season, when Holmes clashed with teammates and was thrown out of the huddle with two minutes remaining in the final game of the season? At the time, one member of the organization described him as "a pain in the ass." They probably would've cut him if they didn't owe him so much guaranteed money, the result of a five-year, $45 million contract extension before the '11 season. He still counts on their salary cap, $2.5 million.

Holmes is the reason why the Jets no longer have captains. Ryan appointed Holmes a captain in 2011, certainly not one of the coach's most inspired decisions. The power went to his head, and his mouth, as he publicly criticized the offensive line after a particularly tough loss. When the season ended, Ryan announced, "No more captains."

Reminded of that sorry chapter, Ryan claimed the decision wasn't based on the misbehaving Holmes. Pressed, Ryan finally acknowledged, "It might not have been a great selection." He also admitted that Holmes threw teammates "under the bus" for his critique of the offensive line, but Ryan doesn't think Holmes meant it to come out that way. He called him a good teammate, a "dude who won a lot of games for us."

They don't want him to win Monday night in MetLife. Obviously, the Jets are focused on Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, Jay Cutler's favorite targets, but they can't forget about Holmes. His surgically repaired foot is healthy and, despite only four catches for 41 yards, he looks like the Holmes of old, according to the Jets' defensive players. He played 73 percent of the offensive snaps in last week's win over the San Francisco 49ers, so you know he'll be out there a lot.

Not surprisingly, Holmes declined a request this week to speak with the New York media via conference call. As much as he disliked the New York media, he occasionally created headlines with foot-in-mouth remarks. There was the time last December when he said the Carolina Panthers' secondary was "the weakest link" on their defense, infuriating the defensive backs, who played career games in a win over the Jets.

Hey, maybe Holmes will incite the Jets by insulting their secondary. Said one player: "I don't think anyone would mind that."
TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Arizona Cardinals released a statement following Wednesday's arrest of running back Jonathan Dwyer:
"We became aware of these allegations this afternoon when notified by Phoenix police and are cooperating fully. Given the serious nature of the allegations we have taken the immediate step to deactivate Jonathan from all team activities. We will continue to closely monitor this as it develops and evaluate additional information as it becomes available."
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- With speculation mounting that his job could soon be on the line, Oakland Raiders coach Dennis Allen said his focus remains on improving the team, not his own job security.

"What matters is getting ready for the New England Patriots," Allen said Wednesday. "That's all I'm going to focus on."

The Raiders, who visit the Patriots on Sunday, are 0-2 and have been badly beaten in losses at the New York Jets and at home to the Houston Texans. The Raiders have lost eight straight games dating to November of last year. It is the longest current losing streak in the NFL.

Oakland is 8-26 under Allen.

On Monday, Allen, a former defensive coordinator, said he was open to anything to help spark the team. Asked Wednesday if he is going to take a larger role on defensive signal calling and game planning, he was predictably evasive.

"I'm not going to get into how we're going to game plan or who's going to do what," Allen said. "Ultimately, it's my responsibility for this football team and I take full responsibility for it, and we've got to go out there and play and execute and try to get a win on Sunday."

Rookie quarterback Derek Carr said any speculation about Allen's job security is not a focus for him.

"I don't pay attention to any of those things," Carr said. "I dealt with those kind of things being said in my sophomore year in college [when Pat Hill was fired at Fresno State], and I'll tell you what, our team just showed up to work and we kept working, because we're a family and that's all we did. I don't get into those things. I don't even talk about them even to my family. If it even tries to come up, people want to ask questions. I don't even talk about it, because my sole focus is taking what Coach Allen says, applying it to what I need to do and then spreading it out and leading the offense. So as long as that's going on, whatever the head man says, that's what I go by."
SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Pro Bowl tight end Vernon Davis was one of six San Francisco 49ers players to miss practice on Wednesday as he was listed as dealing with ankle and knee issues, even as coach Jim Harbaugh said earlier in the day he thought the Niners “dodged a bullet” with the injury.

The others to sit out practice as San Francisco geared up for Sunday’s divisional matchup at the Arizona Cardinals: cornerback Tramaine Brock (toe), right tackle Anthony Davis (hamstring), center Marcus Martin (knee), tight end Vance McDonald (knee) and defensive lineman Justin Smith (not injury related).

Left tackle Joe Staley (knee) was limited while rookie running back Carlos Hyde (calf) was a full participant.

Dansby's preparation leads to success

September, 17, 2014
Sep 17
BEREA, Ohio -- Small actions matter in games, and can sometimes make the difference between winning and losing.

Karlos Dansby said after the win over the Saints that he was able to come up with a key sack late in the game because he recognized Drew Brees' protection call and he knew he'd have an open lane to Brees.

"That's just from watching film," Dansby said Wednesday as the Browns prepared for their next game against the Baltimore Ravens.

[+] EnlargeCleveland's Karlos Dansby
AP Photo/David RichardKarlos Dansby said he was able to get a late sack on Drew Brees because he recognized Brees' protection call from watching film.
He then went through the play, against Brees, explaining that once he knew he'd get the sack his next focus was to make sure Brees did not throw the ball before he was tackled.

"Make sure he don't throw the ball in the dirt," Dansby said. "Because he threw the ball in the dirt when a couple other guys had him wrapped up. He just got rid of it at the last second."

He didn't against Dansby, because Dansby didn't let him.

"Grab his arm," Dansby said. "That's what I tried to do. I tried to get the ball out period, but he tucked it at the last second where I couldn't get it. I just got him down. I was kind of mad about that situation. I wanted the ball.

"The whole mindset was getting the ball. I knew he wasn't going to get away from me."

Getting the ball out would have given the Browns the ball with excellent field position. Making the sack forced a punt. Knowing Brees wouldn't get away from him was the result of film study that showed Dansby in that particular formation when Brees slid the protection to the offense's right, there would be nobody in the backfield helping with protection.

"Once he slid the front, it was just me and him," Dansby said.

What would Dansby do if he faced a more mobile quarterback?

"Watch the film," he said. "You'll see when guys come free on (a quarterback) what he likes to do."

That knowledge might be the difference between winning a play and losing it, and sometimes one play can have a huge effect on winning a game or losing it -- like Dansby's sack.

"Like Ben (Roethlisberger)," Dansby said. "Ben would have tried to spin out and I would have been right there waiting on him. He'd have taken one step to the right and he'd have tried to spin out. That's his thing. That's what he likes to do."

He pointed out in the opener that rookie Chris Kirksey almost had Roethlisberger for a sack, but he stepped right and spun away from Kirksey for a completion.

His words were reminiscent of a couple years ago, when Joe Thomas said he always tries before a game to find a pass-rusher's signature move because in a key situation the player will depend on that move. His approach and Dansby's is the kind that separates the better players from the ordinary ones.

"I watch film, man," Dansby said. "I'm not just physical and playing a game. I have to watch these things because these situations are going to come about and you have to envision yourself in these situations and know how you're going to attack them."
CINCINNATI -- At the grand old age of 22, Giovani Bernard is the old man of the Cincinnati Bengals' two-man running back tandem.

He's the more patient, more reserved and more reflective of the two. He likes to leap tall linebackers in a single bound and is quick to celebrate one of his many circus-like touchdown finishes by doling out high fives to his blockers.

Jeremy Hill is the bigger, more noticeable, slightly more flashy of the two. He likes shimmy past defensive linemen and enjoys celebrating his touchdowns with a popular dance or a pose for his fans.

While Bernard is simply fun to watch, Hill just likes to have fun.

Hill's fun-loving nature pushed him to Twitter less than two hours after he and Bernard rushed for a combined 164 yards in the Bengals' 24-10 victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, prompting him to ask Bengals fans the following: "What's a good nickname for the duo?"

Within the tweet, he had a picture of himself and Bernard.
In the last four days, the suggestions have poured in.

"I just need something I can run with and that the fans will like and that we can just get going," Hill said Wednesday. "And just having fun -- that’s the biggest thing with it. To have something the fans can connect with, maybe make a few T-shirts and things of that nature and just get it going."

The 21-year-old rookie rushed for 74 yards on 15 carries against Atlanta. Hill also caught a screen pass on the Bengals' first drive that he converted into an 18-yard first down reception. On 27 carries, Bernard rushed for 90 yards and added his own 46-yard first-down reception off an improvised screen pass. About to get sacked, quarterback Andy Dalton shouted out Bernard's name -- "Gio!" -- before dumping an impromptu screen to Bernard, who wiggled around defenders for the big pickup.

As of Wednesday morning, there are at least two nickname suggestions that have passed the first round of Hill's cuts: the "Hue Live Crew" and "Hue Jack City."

The first suggestion came from a certain ESPN Bengals reporter who happened to suggest it on a whim to a fan who asked for his input on Twitter. Both suggestions are nods to offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, whose scheme promised long ago to make the two backs key figures. It could be argued that last Sunday's game was exactly what the Bengals had in mind for Hill and Bernard when they drafted Hill in May.

However, Jackson already shot down the "Hue Jack City" nickname suggestion. When he was the head coach in Oakland in 2011, fans nicknamed the East Bay Area city "Hue Jack City" as an homage to the 1991 movie "New Jack City." There was even a song and a music video that went with the nickname.

"No, that won’t happen. That’s an old name," said Jackson, who was fired after leading the Raiders to an 8-8 season, one of their best since 2002. "That name’s over with. That name has to RIP. May that name rest in peace. That name is gone."

Hill didn't rule out either of the aforementioned nickname possibilities, and said he has no deadline for when they must be decided.

"We’re not settling finalists yet, but they’re definitely nominees," Hill said, laughing. "We have to keep them going and hopefully we have some performances like we did Sunday so we can get more suggestions out there."
METAIRIE, La. -- New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton confirmed Wednesday that running back Mark Ingram won’t play Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings after having surgery to repair a displaced fracture above his thumb.

Payton, however, said he’s optimistic Ingram won’t be out for long and called it a “week to week” situation.

[+] EnlargeMark Ingram
AP Photo/Tony DejakThe Saints' Mark Ingram shined last Sunday despite suffering a serious thumb injury in the first quarter.
“The procedure went well. It’s just a matter of the swelling, the wound and the bone healing,” said Payton, explaining that Ingram couldn’t just play with a cast because the fracture was displaced. He said Ingram had two screws placed right above his thumb.

The injury occurred during the first quarter of Sunday’s 26-24 loss to the Cleveland Browns. It was unclear if Ingram was injured when cornerback Joe Haden’s helmet hit his left hand during a tackle, or if it occurred as Ingram braced himself with the hand on the ground. Either way, Ingram popped right back up, briefly pulled his hand inward and jogged back into the huddle.

Ingram had the hand taped on the sideline soon after but played the remainder of the game, thriving with a total of 104 yards from scrimmage. Fellow running back Pierre Thomas called him “a warrior.”

“It’s obviously impressive that he played that long with it,” Payton said. “You could see on film that his exchanges were a little different and how he was taking the ball. But he’s a tough player.”

As for how the Saints will fare without Ingram, players and coaches expressed confidence even though Ingram was playing the best football of his career.

Payton, Thomas and quarterback Drew Brees said they all expect fellow running backs like Thomas, Khiry Robinson and Travaris Cadet to step up.

"It's nothing new. We've all been through it,” Thomas said. “You always expect something like this is going to happen, and we'll be ready for it. We're going to make sure we know what to do. We're going to make sure we didn't lose a beat. We lost a good running back, but he's going to get better and get back quick.”

Payton agreed that Ingram has been especially “sharp” this season while running for a total of 143 yards, three touchdowns and 6.0 yards per carry. But he said the Saints have always preached the importance of depth.

Robinson has run for 59 yards and a touchdown this year on 14 carries (4.2 yard average). Thomas has run for 47 yards on 10 carries (4.7 average) and has nine receptions for 74 yards.

“Khiry’s a guy, shoot, he’s another back we feel like is young [but] is someone that’ll be ready for the workload,” said Payton, who proved his faith in Robinson by increasing his workload during the Saints’ playoff run last year, even though he was an inexperienced undrafted rookie.

And Brees said he is “very confident” that Robinson can handle things like pass protection as he has continued to develop in his second year.

“From the first time he stepped foot in our building until now, he’s light years in improvement in every facet of the game,” Brees said, “but I’d say especially in nickel, where you’re required to be a little more headsy in regards to protection and getting out and running outside of the backfield.”

Other injuries: Linebacker David Hawthorne (ankle) and center Jonathan Goodwin (elbow) were also new additions to the Saints' injury report this week. Neither player participated in team drills Wednesday. The severity of the injuries is unknown. Hawthorne left last Sunday's game early with the injury, while Goodwin played the entire time.

Linebacker Curtis Lofton was limited with a shoulder injury (which also limited him in practice last week). Safety Marcus Ball (hamstring) and fullback Erik Lorig (ankle) remained out with lingering injuries.

Miami Dolphins injury report

September, 17, 2014
Sep 17
DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins (1-1) completed their second practice of the week in preparation for the Kansas City Chiefs (0-2).

Here is an update of Miami’s latest injuries:

Did not participate: LB Koa Misi (ankle), DL Terrence Fede (knee), RB Knowshon Moreno (elbow), G Shelley Smith (knee)

Limited participation: LT Branden Albert (shoulder), TE Charles Clay (knee), S Louis Delmas (calf), LB Jelani Jenkins, C Mike Pouncey (hip), LB Jordan Tripp (chest), G Billy Turner (foot), LB Philip Wheeler (thumb)

Full participation: WR Brian Hartline (back), S Walt Aikens (hand), DT Randy Starks (toe)

Analysis: The Dolphins added several new injuries following their Week 2 loss to the Buffalo Bills. Albert, Delmas and Jenkins are among the starters who were banged up in that game. Pouncey practiced for the second day in a row and appears to be making progress. If he doesn’t return Sunday, Miami’s following game on Sept. 28 against the Oakland Raiders looks like a possibility. Moreno will not play and Misi’s chances aren’t looking good. For Kansas City, star running back Jamaal Charles (ankle) and safety Eric Berry (ankle) did not practice Wednesday.
Question of the Week is a feature in which we take a cross-section of opinions from Detroit Lions players and coaches (and sometimes opponents) about a singular topic. Most of the time, they have nothing to do with football. Have a suggestion for a question? Email:

Find previous Questions of the Week here.

ALLEN PARK, Mich. – The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have been popular for a couple of generations now, from video games to animated series to even a recent live action movie.

So a lot of players would know exactly who the Turtles are -- and might have an opinion on them. Reader Ashley (@Ashley9V on Twitter) made the suggestion last week to ask Detroit Lions players who their favorite Ninja Turtle was.

Here are their answers. Have a question you want asked? Email or shoot a suggestion over on Twitter @mikerothstein.

[+] EnlargeTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtle
AP Photo/Paul BeatyIt seems to reason most Lions would either be on board with Leonardo (because of his choice of blue) or the 'swaggy' Raphael (red).
Wide receiver Corey Fuller: I like them all. I don’t know. When I was a kid, I used to watch all of them and I loved how they loved cheese pizza. I like them all.

Quarterback Dan Orlovsky: Probably Raphael, just because of the sound of the name. I liked them all. I was a big Turtle fan growing up. Maybe Leonardo, because of the name again. He wears blue. Maybe Leonardo. I’m probably a similar artist to Leonardo as well.

Reporter: Similar artist?

Orlvosky: No, I’m actually terrible. Doing stick figures. But that would be as far as I would go.

Punter Sam Martin: Who was the blue one? Yeah, Leonardo, actually. Because he’s blue. Blue is my favorite color. I was never a big Ninja Turtle guy, but when I did, you know how it was really cool when you were younger to have a favorite color and have everything be that favorite color?

Defensive tackle C.J. Mosley: Raphael. He was the coolest one and came off like a bully at the same time and was the first one to dive into a fight. He had to be the toughest one. He had the most swag.

Cornerback Nevin Lawson: I don’t know exactly his name but the one with the swords. The red [Raphaell. That’s him. I always liked how he did all the tricks and stuff with the swords.

Cornerback Rashean Mathis: I was a Michelangelo guy. I think because I was a younger brother. He was the youngest guy, so he was all sporadic and I had two older brothers. One of my brothers thought he was Raph, so being the youngest brother and the youngest spirit, I think that’s why I ended up liking Micaelangelo. When I watched the movie, it was fun to see.

Tight end Joseph Fauria: Which one’s the big one? Raphael. I saw the movie. Think Raphael’s the big one. I think. I don’t know. The big one.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Green Bay Packers receiver Jordy Nelson can speak comfortably and fluidly about most topics.

Ask him about quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and he'll go on and on about his arm strength, play-making ability and even their friendship.

Ask him about running back Eddie Lacy, and he'll marvel at his ability to break tackles.

[+] EnlargeJordy Nelson
AP Photo/Mike RoemerAaron Rodgers is targeting Packers receiver Jordy Nelson at a record rate.
Ask him about the Packers' history, and he'll recite championship seasons and players from the past.

But as everyone saw Sunday, after he caught nine passes for a career-high 209 yards in the win over the New York Jets, Nelson's tone tends to change when it comes time to talk about himself. That was evident when he stepped to the podium in the Lambeau Field auditorium for the first time in his seven-year career and said: "I'm going to hate this, so go ahead [with questions]."

If Nelson keeps catching passes and piling up yards at a league-leading rate, he had better get used to the attention. Nelson leads the NFL in receiving yards (292), 45 ahead of Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson, and is tied with New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham for the league lead in catches (18).

"It's just awkward being up there," Nelson said Wednesday back in the friendly surroundings of the Packers' locker room. "It singles you out."

The only person Nelson wants to do that is his quarterback.

"You do care about your quarterback and what he thinks," Nelson said. "It's taken a lot of years to get to that point, a lot of reps, a lot of meetings, a lot of conversations. And the biggest thing there to take is that he has confidence in me and trust in me."

According to ESPN Stats & Information, no NFL receiver has been targeted on a higher percentage of their routes through two games than Nelson, who has seen the ball 42.3 percent of the time he has gone out for a pass. For his part, Nelson does not think he will continue to be targeted at this pace, an average of 15 times per game. Rodgers, however, might have other ideas.

"I think we've found ourselves targeting him more and realizing that there's a lot of good things happen when the ball's thrown his way," Rodgers said this week on his ESPN Milwaukee radio show.

That, perhaps more than anything else, has caught the attention of others.

"You better know where he is," said Lions coach Jim Caldwell, whose team is preparing to face Nelson on Sunday. "He's no different than a couple guys that we have on our team. I would assume that you better know where Calvin Johnson is, because without question he's a great talent. So we know where he is, and we're certainly looking at all of our options."

Despite signing a four-year, $39 million contract extension in July that made him one of the league's top-10 highest-paid receivers, Nelson has remained relatively anonymous. He's never made All-Pro or a Pro Bowl, accolades he said he has never given a second thought.

If you don't believe him, you should hear him try to pronounce the word accolades.

"You'll take wins and playoff wins and Super Bowls over that any day," Nelson said. "All the accolations will come at the end. Again, we are two games into this. We are a long ways away from any of that."


"Whatever that word is," Nelson said. "Just make sure you type it correctly when you write it."
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings were without linebacker Chad Greenway -- because of a broken hand and a rib injury -- at practice on Wednesday, as well as right tackle Phil Loadholt (ankle) and defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd (shoulder).

Tight end Kyle Rudolph and cornerback Xavier Rhodes joined those three players on a list of Vikings starters who missed practice time on Wednesday. Rudolph was limited with an abdominal injury, which showed up on the Vikings' injury report for the first time, while Rhodes was limited because of the groin injury he played with last Sunday. Coach Mike Zimmer said Rhodes will be "fine" to play on Sunday, after he played last week's game against the New England Patriots.

Linebacker Brandon Watts, who missed the Vikings' first two games with a knee injury, also practiced in a limited capacity for the first time this season. Wide receiver Rodney Smith (hamstring) was limited, and linebacker Michael Mauti (foot) was a full participant.