NFL Daily News Notebook Example:
NFL - Daily News Notebook
The Sports Xchange
For editions of December, Dec. 30, 2009
Arizona: It is possible Sunday's Cardinals-Packers game will become moot in terms of playoff positioning. Coach Ken Whisenhunt acknowledged that, but said he doesn't expect any of his veterans to volunteer to sit, especially with the offensive in a groove. That rhythm is "a big factor for these guys wanting to play this week, just to keep that rolling."
Atlanta: OG Garrett Reynolds, nephew of linebacker great Jack "Hacksaw" Reynolds, was inactive for the first 11 games but he has played over the past four games on specials teams. Reynolds passed his first test as an NFL offensive lineman last week. "I thought Garrett did a nice job," Falcons coach Mike Smith said. "On his very first play, he had a knockdown block. It was a good start."
Carolina: QB Matt Moore has thrown six touchdown passes and no interceptions in his last two games, but he will be without WR Steve Smith (broken arm) on Sunday. Kenny Moore or Charly Martin will start Sunday at wide receiver against the Saints in place of Smith.
Chicago: C Olin Kreutz said after the loss to the Ravens in Week 15 that the Bears needed to make changes starting at the top. Kreutz said there's no hidden agenda -- such as forcing the team to trade or release him -- behind his position. "I've been playing for 12 years, so I'm pretty well off. I don't need much more money. I'm here to win games."
Dallas: RT Marc Colombo is doing some on-field rehab after missing the past six games with a high ankle sprain and fractured fibula. Though unlikely to play, he has not been ruled out of Sunday's game against the Eagles.
Detroit: QB Drew Stanton played poorly in his first NFL start and Daunte Culpepper, 0-9 as a starter with the Lions, has not generated a touchdown in his last three starts. "Our quarterbacks haven't played well," coach Jim Schwartz said. "The last couple of weeks, we had a good half of football in there, but we haven't played consistent football from a quarterback standpoint because we need to score touchdowns."
Green Bay: P Jeremy Kapinos has struggled to consistently deliver effective hang times throughout the season. "He is a young, developing punter, and I like his work ethic," coach Mike McCarthy said. "He is our guy, so he is going to have to punt big down the stretch here because we all know how important field position is in playoff football."
Minnesota: DE Jared Allen didn't try to cover up his disgust after Monday's loss. "It sucked. I mean, we're playing bad right now. We've got to play better. Each man on this team needs to go home and look himself in the mirror and figure out what we want to be this year: An 11-5 team or a 12-4 team that makes noise in the playoffs. That's just the bottom line."
New Orleans: The Saints know they have a lot of work to do before they open the postseason during the weekend of Jan. 16-17. The top priority this week is to get some of their momentum back at Carolina. "We have to start from scratch, see what we did wrong," wide receiver Robert Meachem said. "We've just got to take the coaching, the criticism, and go with it. A loss is a loss, no matter how you lose it."
New York Giants: Injuries piled up, but was it a lack of leadership that helped sink the Giants? While acknowledging Eli Manning and Jeff Feagles have made an effort, coach Tom Coughlin said "there isn't any doubt; there is a void there from not having Antonio Pierce around. Many people have had an opportunity to step up, but probably because of the lack of success, it hasn't happened." ... RB Brandon Jacobs (right knee) is scheduled to have arthroscopic surgery next week and will not play Sunday at Minnesota.
Philadelphia: QB Michael Vick (quad contusion) is progressing in his recovery and is expected to be back at practice in some capacity today. His status for Sunday's game at Dallas remains uncertain, but Vick and S Quintin Demps (ankle) have a chance to return barring setbacks.
St. Louis: If the Rams win Sunday and the Lions lose, the No. 1 overall draft pick will belong to the team with the lower strength of schedule percentage. Currently, Rams' opponents have two more wins than opponents of the Lions. Rams' coach Steve Spagnuolo said draft talk can wait. "It's the last (game), and we're going to play it to win it."
San Francisco: LB Patrick Willis leads the league with 147 tackles, and is going back to the Pro Bowl. Coach Mike Singletary, a Hall of Fame linebacker, rated Willis' 2009 performance this way: "I don't know how good he can be, but I know he's not there yet. He knows it. There's so much more he can do. It's amazing to me a guy can have that much ability as a linebacker."
Seattle: QB Matt Hasselbeck's passer ratings of 45.2 two weeks ago against Tampa Bay and 36.6 last Sunday at Green Bay are the worst back-to-back numbers in his 11-year career and his performance has had a profound impact on the teams going 5-10. "I'm at the center of that," he said. "I'm looking for answers."
Tampa Bay: Coach Raheem Morris said PK Connor Barth's ability to handle a pressure kick at New Orleans was impressive. "That's mental toughness, man," Morris said. "It wasn't noisy for long. He nailed that thing, and it got quiet really quickly. It was a beautiful silence. It was awesome, to have that kind of toughness to stand in there and deliver."
Washington: TE Fred Davis had 10 catches for 72 yards in 17 games before starter Chris Cooley fractured his ankle Oct. 26. Davis could finish second on the team in catches and receiving yards and his six touchdowns lead the team. "He's our most improved player," coach Jim Zorn said. "He has learned his assignments. He doesn't make many errors. He wants the ball. I've been very impressed."
Baltimore: Coach John Harbaugh wouldn't commit to PK Billy Cundiff, who is 12-of-15 on field-goal attempts, being around beyond this season. The Ravens' special teams have become an asset since the kicking woes were abated with Cundiff's signing. "We'll see long-term wise, but I've got high hopes for Billy."
Buffalo: RB Marshawn Lynch, who has 450 yards rushing, will finish far short of his third consecutive 1,000-yard season for the Bills. His drop in production combined with the emergence of Fred Jackson makes Lynch a candidate to be traded this offseason. He had just three carries for three yards in last Sunday's loss to Atlanta.
Cincinnati: Rookie LB Rey Maualuga (fractured left ankle) was placed on injured reserve after being evaluated by a specialist. He was injured on a cut block in a 17-10 win over the Chiefs last week. He was fourth on the team in tackles. Fourth-year LB Rashad Jeanty is expected to start.
Cleveland: Coach Eric Mangini said he wouldn't balk at the idea of answering to multiple superiors if indeed team president Mike Holmgren chooses to keep Mangini for the 2010 season. The parties haven't met in person but are scheduled to do so next week. Holmgren also plans to hire a general manager who could prefer to bring in a new coach.
Denver: The offensive line is taking its share of criticism and RB Knowshon Moreno has averaged less than 3.0 yards per carry in each of Denver's last three games. The running game might turn around against the porous Chiefs' defense. Moreno had 86 yards and two touchdowns against Kansas City on Dec. 6.
Houston: RB Arian Foster had been in coach Gary Kubiak's doghouse for losing a fumble until he ran 19 times for 97 yards, a 5.1-yard average per carry, and scored on a 17-yard run last week. Foster, an undrafted rookie from Tennessee, is expected to get a lot of work again this week as the Texans try to sort out their offseason personnel priorities.
Indianapolis: If the Colts' starters don't play more than a few series as expected, TE Dallas Clark would miss a chance to surpass the 100-catch mark this season. Clark has 93 receptions and already surpassed his previous single-season high of 77 catches set last season.
Jacksonville: RB Maurice Jones-Drew promised the Jaguars, who have lost three games in a row late in the season to blow playoff spots twice in the past four years, won't collapse again. "This can't happen again," he said. "No ifs, ands or buts about it. It won't. As long as I'm going to be here, that's going to be my stand on it. I don't care if we have a hundred rookies playing. It won't happen."
Kansas City: For the first time in 31 seasons, the Chiefs were shut out of a berth on the AFC roster for the Pro Bowl. The last time it happened was 1978, and that streak of 30 consecutive years with at least one Pro Bowler was the second longest in the league. Coach Todd Haley was unfazed. "The Pro Bowl thing is for the players, and I'm about trying to win games," he said.
Miami: Even if RB Ricky Williams' aching shoulder doesn't keep him off the field against the Colts, look for second-year RB Lex Hilliard to get plenty of touches. Hilliard notched the first two touchdowns of his career and had nine catches for 74 yards last week. Hilliard, a sixth-round pick in 2008, scored 50 touchdowns in four seasons at Montana.
New England: QB Tom Brady did not participate in practice Wednesday as he continues to nurse lingering injuries. Brady has continued to play despite the ailments, though his playing time will probably be limited with a playoff spot locked up.
New York Jets: Pro Bowl CB Darrelle Revis, whom coach Rex Ryan believes should be the NFL Defensive Player of the Year, was absent from Wednesday's practice with an illness. The Jets aren't concerned enough to believe Revis' availability for Sunday night's game vs. Cincinnati is in jeopardy.
Oakland: P Shane Lechler is averaging 51.1 yards per punt, which might leave him short of the targeted NFL single-season record (51.4) without a couple of beneficial bounces vs. Baltimore. Lechler averages six punts per game. If he punts six times this week, he would need to average nearly 57 yards per kick to break Sammy Baugh's record set in 1940. A 57-yard average this week would hike his season per-punt mark to 51.43.
Pittsburgh: The door is open for SS Troy Polamalu (left knee) to return in some capacity against the Dolphins. Polamalu has missed the past six games. He has been running in the pool, and ran Monday and Tuesday in a straight line -- as he did last week before he was deactivated against the Ravens. "The unanticipated movement that comes with playing football, changing directions, dropping your weight and so forth will be critical to him getting game clearance to play," coach Mike Tomlin said.
San Diego: QB Philip Rivers rarely is mentioned as an MVP candidate, but he enters Week 17 at or near the top in many statistical passing categories, not to mention being the leader of an offensive-oriented team to 10 consecutive wins. The Chargers won their fourth consecutive AFC West title, a streak that began when Rivers took over as the starter.
Tennessee: The Titans have 17 players who can be free agents this off-season, though six will be restricted free agents unless a new collective bargaining agreement can be reached to avoid an uncapped year in 2010. C Kevin Mawae, who doubles as the president of the NFL Players Association, wants to play at age 39.