Andre Johnson’s goal: 15 seasons, all in Texans uniform

Last offseason, veteran wide receiver Andre Johnson wasn’t sure if the Texans were still the team for him.

With four regular-season games remaining in the 2014 season, Johnson said Thursday he wants to retire as a Texan. He also outlined the end of his career path for the first time.

“I always want things to work out here. I’ve always wanted that,” Johnson said at NRG Stadium. “I don’t want to play for nobody else. I have been here for 12 years. I don’t even think it would feel right.

“I have seen everybody come into this locker room and leave out. Trainers, … stars, coaches — I have seen it all. (My) locker has been here the longest. I couldn’t imagine how it would feel to put on another uniform, so hopefully I’ll be able to be here.”

Johnson also knows the exact amount of years he wants to play in the NFL before turning in No. 80: 15.

Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice lasted 20 years. With Johnson approaching 1,000 career catches – he needs just eight more and can reach the mark Sunday at Jacksonville – the soft-spoken wideout was in a contemplative mood Thursday, saying he could never imagine being a pro as long as Rice.

“I only wanted to play 10 years,” Johnson said. “You know, football careers are very short. You never know how things are going to go, as far as injuries and stuff like that. I would have never thought I would be mentioned up in those categories. To be in the top in receptions and yardage, I would have never thought I would be in this position.”

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Sam Shields not practicing Thursday with concussion

Packers cornerback Sam Shields is not practicing Thursday as a part of the NFL concussion protocol.

Shields, who has 30 tackles and two interceptions, was knocked out of the Packers Week 13 game against the Patriots.

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Greg Olsen: (Knee) Back At Practice Thursday

Olsen (knee) took part in practice Thursday, Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer reports.

Olsen's activity level is unclear, but his presence in practice indicates the likely minor nature of the injury, which was deemed to be swelling in the bursa sac near one of his knees. As the week draws to a close, expect further clarification regarding his availability for Sunday's game at New Orleans.

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Ed Reed: Could Partying With Justin Bieber Hurt Patriots Vs. Chargers?

Ed Reed isn’t a Belieber.

Reed originally penciled in the New England Patriots for a win over the San Diego Chargers, but he has since changed course. The longtime safety wonders whether partying with Justin Bieber this week could doom New England’s chances at Qualcomm Stadium.

Reed obviously was joking. In fact, he didn’t even seem 100 percent sold on picking the Chargers while breaking down Sunday’s matchup with Boomer Esiason and Michael Irvin earlier this week on Showtime’s “Inside the NFL.” Bieber hanging out with Rob Gronkowski and Co. certainly doesn’t bode well for the Patriots, though. The last three teams Bieber visited all lost shortly after his hangout.

“Though Belichick and that defense and (Tom) Brady and them, I know they’re mad in San Diego right now (following a loss to the Green Bay Packers), the last team to party or do anything like that with Justin Bieber, they lost,” Reed said, laughing.

The Patriots certainly won’t be giggling if the Bieber curse holds true.

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Chris Myers: ‘Every game is a playoff’

Coaches cringe when they hear players mention the playoffs, but they’re just being honest.

Take Texans center Chris Myers, for instance.

Myers knows what’s at stake when the Texans play their last four games, beginning Sunday at Jacksonville.

“As of right now, every single game is a playoff,” he said. “That’s the way it is. We have to be able to win every game, and the other things will take care of themselves.

“Yeah, playoffs are always on your mind. That’s the overall goal of the NFL is to make the playoffs and to get to that big game.”

At least on his side of the ball, Myers know what has to happen.

“This has been an inconsistent year in terms of overall performances and being able to move the ball on a consistent basis,” Myers said. “When we’re on, we’re pretty strong.

“As long as we can keep working on it and keep growing as an offense and kind of instill that cohesiveness, I think we’ll be all right.”

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Shane Larkin is providing a bright spot in the Knicks' latest losing streak

As we await Thursday night's inevitable revenge curb-stomping at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers, perhaps it is time to take a step back and appreciate the good things about the New York Knicks.

Hey, Shane Larkin is playing pretty well of late.

The pint-sized scion of Barry Larkin was put a most unenviable position to start the season -- appointed as the starting point guard in place of the injured Jose Calderon, tasked with running the brand new Triangle Offense. The results were just about everything you've come to expect from the 2014-15 Knicks:

When Larkin wound up with a DNP-CD in Calderon's debut against Philadelphia, it appeared he might be on the outs in Derek Fisher's schizophrenic rotation. But the kid has been one of New York's few positive contributors in the five games since his benching, chipping in 6.2 points on 45.8 percent shooting (41.7 percent from three) to go along with 1.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.2 steals in 19.4 minutes per game.

Freed from the burden of starting, Larkin is playing like a mini-Pablo Prigioni -- a strong (albeit unwilling) three-point shooter with a flair for sneakery. He ranks 16th in the league in steal percentage, two spots ahead of the master himself. Shane and Pablo are two of only five players who are shooting higher than 40 percent from three-point range while posting a steal percentage of higher than 2.5 -- a bizarre and hilarious list that also includes Steph Curry, Chris Paul and Jason Terry.

Ah, but is that really noteworthy? Perhaps not on a decent team, but certainly on the suck-ass Knicks. Hitting an occasional shot and swiping a steal or two practically qualifies Larkin as New York's best guard under the age of 30. Believe it or not, Larkin ranks third among Knicks guards in win shares per 48 minutes, behind only Prigioni and Calderon. Sure, that may say more about the unimaginable crappiness of New York's shooting guards, but let's try to accentuate the positive. Larkin is a young player who bounced back from a tough start and is playing some good basketball in a more appropriate role.

The question now becomes whether or not he can sustain this recent hot streak, particularly from beyond the arc. For what it's worth, the draftniks were bullish on Larkin's shooting ability coming into the league -- including this pre-draft analysis from some random chump named Paul Chillsap:

In addition to Larkin's splendid play on the interior, he showed a much improved perimeter shooting touch after a poor freshman season. Larkin shot 40% on the season from the great beyond, often showing true NBA range. He is comfortable shooting both off the catch and off the dribble, which renders him a diverse weapon on offense. For a team that runs plenty of offense through Carmelo Anthony, it's important that Melo have guys on the outside who can stretch the floor. Larkin seems to have both the ability and the confidence to be a capable and efficient shooter in the NBA, supported by his impressive .600 TS% in his final year at Miami. He shows solid mechanics, though a bit inconsistent. Larkin drifts forward a bit with his right foot at times and doesn't always follow through, but appears to have the touch to compensate.

It is scouting reports like these that led to Larkin being drafted 17th overall in 2013. That was seven spots ahead of current teammate Tim Hardaway Jr., a guard Larkin is currently out-playing. Perhaps that should come as no surprise.

Shane Larkin is never going to be a star. Hell, he's probably never going to be a starter. He has clear limitations on his game -- his height foremost among them. But the kid has some skills, and he seems to be on his way to finding a comfortable niche in the Knicks' rotation. And on a team with seemingly nothing but question marks, that simple fact can give fans a reason to smile.

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Travis Benjamin Favors Starting Manziel?

Browns players are in a tricky spot, until coach Mike Pettine declares which quarterback he’s starting.

They’ll profess loyalty to Brian Hoyer, because he’s gotten them this far. But they also see the same thing everyone sees from Johnny Manziel.

“I was excited to see him get a chance to show the league what he can do,” defensive end Billy Winn said. “He went out there and made everything come to life.”

Winn and other players said they trust Hoyer as well, and Manziel could complicate other aspects of the offense.

Wide receiver Travis Benjamin said Manziel’s scrambling ability makes his job different, along with his lack of experience.

“We just figure, as receivers, we have to work more,” Benjamin said. “If Johnny comes in the huddle and he pronounces the play wrong, we’ve got to make sure we correct it. We’ve got to make sure we correct him. Offensive linemen, tight ends, all the receivers, all the running backs, we’ve just got to make sure we’ve got to be in form when he’s in the game. . . .

“Johnny is a baller, no matter what. Ready or not, you put him in the game and if he doesn’t make the play with his arm, he’ll make the play with his legs. Running backs, receivers, tight ends and linemen also have to come together and help him and make sure we have limited mistakes so we can push Johnny to get the edge on people.”

While everyone wants to be polite to the workmanlike Hoyer, it’s seems apparent which way this one’s pointing, and it’s going to be exciting for a lot of people.

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Is running back Frank Gore still on top of his game?

SANTA CLARA -- Frank Gore knows the numbers look bad. The player that coach Jim Harbaugh recently described as Hall of Famer is averaging a career-worst 3.9 yards per carry, has only two rushing touchdowns and hasn't broken a run longer than 28 yards all season.

"If people just look at stats, they'll think I'm through," Gore, 31, said Wednesday. "But if you watch the film -- and know the game -- you'll see. When we play other teams, guys come after the game and say, 'Man, how do you do this? You still got it.' "

Gore and the rest of the sputtering offense will try to get their numbers back on track Sunday when the 49ers (7-5) face the Raiders (1-11) in Oakland. This is the 49ers' first game since their offensive debacle against the Seattle Seahawks, when they struggled to get the ball past midfield.
Gore had 28 yards on 10 carries in that game. His longest run of the day? It went for all of 7 yards.

Such a diminished role ranks high on the list of questions surrounding offensive coordinator Greg Roman's play-calling. The team's all-time leading rusher has topped 20 carries only twice and has yet to catch more than two passes in a game.

Instead, the 49ers' show belongs to quarterback Colin Kaepernick, and increasing red-zone cameos from Carlos Hyde (four TDs).

It's an odd turn considering that recent 49ers offenses have fared best with Gore at the heart of the action, thump-thump-thumping away for tough yards. Since Harbaugh's arrival, the 49ers are 18-0 when they have a 100-yard rusher and 33-1-1 when the team runs the ball at least 30 times.

Those stats can be self-fulfilling -- winning teams run the ball more as they wind down the clock. But opponents such as Raiders cornerback Tarell Brown say the numbers also reflect that Gore remains "the identity of their offense."

"He's the guy that keeps the train rolling,'' said Brown, who spent seven seasons in San Francisco. "Every successful game that they've had this year, he's started off physical and running the ball."

Gore has only two 100-yard games this season, both victories. He's also had games of 10, 20 and 28 yards, all losses.

"I've always been a rhythm guy," the five-time Pro Bowl selection said. "The more I take, the more I feel better. It's different now. ... This year it's harder to get into rhythm because (opponents) are playing the run. Our offensive coordinator is smart enough to go away from what he feels they're trying to stop."

The 49ers need to boost their 22nd-ranked offense in a hurry if they are to climb back into a NFC playoff spot. The postseason chase has extra meaning for Gore, who recognizes that his window for winning a Super Bowl is closing. And while he knows he's in no position to get greedy, the impending free agent wants to win one while he's still a featured back.

"It would be great for me to be The Man of the team -- to help my team get it," Gore said. "Some guys late in their career have to go and search (for opportunities elsewhere). They play ... but not really."

Being "the guy" for a Super Bowl champ might also secure that spot in the Hall of Fame. Harbaugh's declaration aside, voters might still be waiting to see whether Gore merits enshrinement because, for all his other accomplishments, he's never led the league in rushing, never finished among the league leaders in touchdowns and never finished higher than fourth in yards from scrimmage.

On the other hand, he's someone who has amassed 10,679 career rushing yards while playing for some bad teams at the peak of his powers.

He needs only 289 more to climb into the league's all-time 20. From that group, 13 are already in Canton and one more is a slam dunk (LaDainian Tomlinson).
"I think he'd be a great candidate for the Hall of Fame," said former 49ers star Roger Craig, a Hall of Fame semifinalist again this season. "He's pushing 11,000 yards. You get up in that category, you're doing something special."

Gore's case for the hall might also hinge on the voters' willingness to look beyond the stat sheet. His grasp of the game's subtleties -- such as pass protection -- remain known only to the purists.

"The way that he pass protects, I've never seen anything like it,'' fullback Bruce Miller said Wednesday. "You watch tape of other guys and other backs around the league, and you realize Frank is second to none. ... I've seen countless knockout shots and guys on the ground. You just don't expect it from a guy (who is 5-foot-9).

"He's not a big body. But he's got the leverage and the timing that goes into it. It's incredible."

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Greg Olsen misses practice, but Sunday ‘no concern’

Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen was uncharacteristically out of practice on Wednesday with an injury, but coach Ron Rivera is confident he’ll play Sunday against the New Orleans Saints.

Olsen had swelling in his knee following the game and did not practice with the team.

“We’re resting it and we’re trying to keep him off of it so the swelling goes down,” Rivera said. “No concern for him at all.”

In the locker room after practice, Olsen told several teammates that he’d be fine to play Sunday.

Olsen prides himself on making nearly every practice, and the eighth-year player has 122 consecutive starts dating back to early in the 2007 season. Only Jason Witten of the Cowboys has a longer active streak among tight ends.

Olsen’s 61 receptions this season rank second among NFL tight ends this season. His 778 receiving yards are fourth and his five touchdowns at ninth.
He’s on pace to have 1,037 receiving yards in a season where he’s attempting to make the first Pro Bowl of his career.

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Antrel Rolle says Giants won't give up

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants have not won a game in two months, but this team will not fall apart down the stretch, according to Antrel Rolle.

"Frustration's gonna happen. We're all frustrated from the top to the bottom, because obviously it's been since Oct. 5 since we won a game," Rolle said Wednesday. "You have to let an individual vent when they want to vent, you have to let the emotions spill over. But at the end of the day we're a team -- we win together, we lose together. As long as that don't get out of hand, the frustration, hopefully it transfers over to guys wanting to do more, be more positive, make more plays."

"That's not gonna happen here," Rolle added, when asked if the team could crumble, with players turning on each other or the coaching staff. "That's not what we're about."

The defense has played a little better overall in recent games, but has failed late in the fourth quarter the past two weeks, allowing the Cowboys and Jaguars to come from behind and snatch victories away from them.

The Giants are still ranked fourth-to-last in the NFL in yards allowed per game (385.0). And they'll be even more short-handed against the Titans in Nashville this coming Sunday, with defensive ends Mathias Kiwanuka (knee) and Robert Ayers (pectoral) placed on injured reserve Tuesday. Ayers was the team's best pass-rusher on the season.

Futhermore, linebacker Mark Herzlich (concussion) did not practice Wednesday, and fellow linebackers Jacquian Williams (concussion/shoulder), Jameel McClain (knee), defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins (calf) and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (back/shoulder) were all limited.

Rolle started laughing upon hearing that a whopping 20 Giants players are now on IR.

"It's definitely taken its course on this team," Rolle said. "I don't know the rhyme or reason for it. It's just been a weird year all around. If you had asked me at the beginning of the season if we would have been in this situation, I would have put all my chips on absolutely not."

Rolle himself has had an up-and-down year. He had an interception in three of the team's first six games of the season, but none in the past six games, despite some opportunities. Overall he has a positive grade from the analytic website Pro Football Focus, but received a negative grade for eight consecutive games, prior to last week's loss in Jacksonville.

He's been a very good player in his five years with the Giants, and a leader in the locker room. But he'll also turn 32 next month, and will be a free agent at the end of the season. In an interview on WFAN Tuesday, Rolle said, "I still have a lot in the tank." But it's very possible the Giants will choose to spend their money elsewhere this winter.

For now, though, Rolle is one of the Giants veterans still healthy and competing, and saying the right things, too.

"Obviously this is a disappointing season for everyone, but you have to go out there and keep fighting," Rolle said. "That's all you have at this point. You must keep fighting, you must go out there and try to get a win at all costs."

"Absolutely it's hard," Rolle said, about continuing to fight. "It's hard because your mind can get the best of you. I know it is extremely hard for myself. But like I tell myself, you can't do anything about the past. We did this to ourselves. No one put us in this situation. We put ourselves in this situation."

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Packers sign T Justin Renfrow to practice squad

The Green Bay Packers have signed T Justin Renfrow to the practice squad and released G Rishaw Johnson from the practice squad. The transactions were announced Tuesday by Executive Vice President, General Manager and Director of Football Operations Ted Thompson.

Renfrow, a 6-foot-4, 310-pound rookie, played three seasons at the University of Virginia before finishing his career as a graduate student at the University of Miami (Fla.). He originally signed with the Arizona Cardinals as a non-drafted free agent on May 13, 2014, but was released on Aug. 25, 2014. Renfrow played defensive tackle in college and with the Cardinals but switched to offensive tackle when he signed with the Florida Blacktips of the Fall Experimental Football League (FXFL). He will wear No. 68 for the Packers.

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Panthers sign DT Micanor Regis

With one of their starting defensive tackles out for Sunday’s game at Minnesota, the Panthers have promoted an interior lineman from the practice squad, signing first-year pro Micanor Regis on Saturday, according to the NFL’s transactions.

To make room for Regis, the Panthers waived backup tailback Chris Ogbonnaya.

The 25-year-old Regis spent the preseason with the Panthers, then was re-signed to the practice squad after being waived on August 30. Regis (6-3, 305) is a Miami (Fla.) product.

Regis could help pick up some of the slack with second-year pro Star Lotulelei out with a knee injury. Veteran Dwan Edwards is the top backup to Lotulelei on the depth chart.

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Chiefs sign tight end Richard Gordon

The Chiefs brought back veteran tight end Richard Gordon on Tuesday, just three months after he was released during training camp.

To make room for Gordon, the team released first-year pro Phillip Supernaw.

Gordon, who is listed at 6 feet 4 and 268 pounds, joined the Chiefs last December and caught one pass for 3 yards with the team. He re-signed with the Chiefs in the offseason but was released shortly before the regular-season opener.

Gordon signed with the Tennessee Titans in October and started two games but did not log any stats. He was released a week ago to make room for outside linebacker Kaelin Burnett.

Gordon, a fourth-year pro who played at the University of Miami, was taken in the sixth round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders. For his career, Gordon has caught four passes for 14 yards and a touchdown.

The Chiefs signed Supernaw from the Baltimore Ravens’ practice squad in early November after the season-ending injury to third-string tight end Demetrius Harris. Since then Supernaw has played in two games and caught one pass for 3 yards.

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Bengals sign Eric Winston

CINCINNATI -- The Bengals, in dire need of help at right offensive tackle, signed veteran lineman and acting NFL Players Association president Eric Winston on Tuesday.

Winston's addition comes one week after the Bengals placed starter Andre Smith on season-ending injured reserve after he tore his left triceps while trying to block Texans defensive end J.J. Watt during a pass Watt ended up knocking down at the line.

In Smith's absence Sunday at Tampa Bay, the Bengals rotated a pair of players at the position. Backup Marshall Newhouse started at right tackle, taking 44 snaps there. Across two drives in the second quarter, he was replaced by starting left guard Clint Boling, who moved over for more than a dozen snaps on the right edge. Boling played more snaps at the position than he had in more than five years, when he was a versatile offensive lineman in college at Georgia.

Winston hasn't played in a game this season, but he was a 16-game starter last season for Arizona. He was on Seattle's roster in training camp before getting released. The 31-year-old also has played with Houston and Kansas City.

Winston took to Twitter on Tuesday and already seems familiar with the Bengals' fan base.

According to Werder, Winston had workouts this season with multiple teams, including the Eagles, Falcons and Vikings, before ultimately signing with the AFC North-leading Bengals. Winston previously told Werder he thought it was important as president of the players' union to be an active player so that he's more aware of the experiences players are having and better understands their concerns.

Winston joins an offensive line that already features Bengals player rep and left tackle Andrew Whitworth. Winston's addition gives the line another smart, high-character veteran.

In October, Winston made headlines when he posted a series of tweets reacting to comments Bengals coach Marvin Lewis made in reference to the attention concussions receive these days.

During a news conference, Lewis said concussions "linger longer" in players now because of the enhanced media attention they receive.

That prompted Winston, in his role as NFLPA head, to rattle off a series of tweets.

"Always good to see the NFL educating their HCs on health/safety. Glad they are taking the lead on serious issues like concussions. #sarcasm," Winston tweeted. "Perpetuating the idea that it's the medias fault that concussions ["linger"] longer just shows how far we still have to go in educating every1."

Lewis didn't respond to the criticism from Winston and others at the time.

Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson hinted Monday that the team may explore options outside of Newhouse, Boling and backup Tanner Hawkinson. The Bengals went into Sunday's game carrying Whitworth and Newhouse as their only true tackles on the active game-day roster.

"I'm trying to find the five best guys that can play at a high level," Jackson said. "Whoever they are, we have to put them out there and play."

Along with signing Winston, the Bengals announced they waived offensive tackle Jamon Meredith, who was signed last week. Linebacker J.K. Schaffer also was waived off the IR with his rehab from a concussion complete. That leaves the Bengals with one vacancy on the 53-man roster.

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Jaguars promote WR Tommy Streeter from practice squad

The Jaguars promoted one receiver and waived another on Friday, signing Tommy Streeter from the practice squad and parting ways with Mike Brown, the club announced.

Streeter (6-5, 215) had been on the Jaguars’ practice squad since September 29. He spent the offseason and most of the preseason with Tampa Bay. The 26-year-old Streeter was a sixth-round pick of Baltimore in 2012 after playing collegiately at Miami (Fla.); he has never appeared in a regular-season game.

The 25-year-old Brown has played five games for the Jaguars in 2014, catching seven passes for 88 yards. Brown (5-10, 200) has hauled in 39 passes for 534 yards and two touchdowns since entering the NFL in 2012.

For younger players like Streeter, the final five games are an opportunity to make a positive impression for when Jacksonville turns the page to evaluating the roster for 2015.

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Reggie Wayne on criticism: 'You ever heard of toilet material?'

INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis Colts receiver Reggie Wayne extended his streak of games with at least three catches to 81 last week against Jacksonville.

How he did it, though, two catches that totaled two yards in the final three minutes of a game that had already been determined is what raised a lot of eyebrows.
Wayne and the Colts were criticized on their approach for the receiver to extend the streak.

"You ever heard of toilet material? That’s the category I put that in," Wayne said about the criticism. "People will have their own theories, their own opinions. All I can do is go out and do my job, run the plays that are called and keep it moving. Since I’ve been playing at the age of 7, everything hasn’t been peaches and cream. It’s my job to go out there and prove you wrong and keep going."

Wayne and quarterback Andrew Luck weren’t on the same page most of the game. That was obvious when Luck overthrew his security blanket on a pass attempt that would have resulted in a big gain for the Colts.

"It was totally me," Wayne said. "He did his job. Put the ball in the right area. I have to find a way to make that catch. I take pride in catching every pass that’s thrown to me whenever it touches my hand, whether it’s high, low, far (or) short. I was open, and if I would have caught it would have been a big play. That’s my fault."

Wayne had his worst game of the season against the Jaguars, finishing with three catches for 10 yards.

"I couldn’t tell you one game I had a good game in," Wayne said. "There’s always something you can take out and get better at. Things happen. It’s the NFL. Not every game is going to be your best, just be thankful that you have another game to rebound from. That’s just the way it goes."

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Andre Johnson pays for $16K Toys R Us spree for local kids in protective services

Even though the Houston Texans had the day off, wide receiver Andre Johnson was busy making holiday wishes come true.

On Tuesday, Johnson visited a Toys "R" Us near NRG Stadium and greeted 11 children in the care of the Harris County Department of Family Protective Services. The deal: The kids, ages 8-16, had 80 seconds to fill a shopping cart with whatever their hearts desired and Johnson would foot the bill, the Houston Chronicle reports.

The shopping spree has become a tradition of sorts for Johnson, as he has hosted one each year since 2007, ESPN says.

After the kids gathered all that they could, with the help of Texans cheerleaders, they lined up at the registers with stuffed animals, playsets, "Frozen" dolls and WWE toys, the Houston Chronicle says.

While the several toys were being rung up, Johnson took photos with bystanders and the kids. All was going smoothly, and then Johnson realized he left his wallet in the car, the Houston Chronicle retells.

After retrieving his credit card, Johnson went from register to register, swiping and signing. One register reached $3,338.01 and kept running, the Houston Chronicle says.

The final bill was a grand total of $16,266.26.

Johnson's Foundation, the Andre Johnson Charitable Foundation, funded the spree, Yahoo! Sports reports. Though the foundation holds many charitable events for children, Johnson says the Toys "R" Us event is his favorite.

"I think it's probably the best one because you get to see the kids really enjoy it," Johnson says. "That's what this season is about. It's something I look forward to. The kids are happy, they get what they want for Christmas, and that's all that matters."

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Chiefs work out CB DeMarcus Van Dyke

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Chiefs could be in the market to bolster defensive secondary depth, and with a familiar name.

The Chiefs on Wednesday worked out cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke, according to a source.

The 6-1, 185-pound Van Dyke spent the offseason, organized team activities (OTAs), minicamp, training camp and preseason with the Chiefs before being placed on injured reserve with a high ankle sprain injury following the final preseason game against the Green Bay Packers.

The Chiefs and Van Dyke reached an injury settlement on Sept. 8, which made Van Dyke eligible to sign a free-agent contract with another team. Van Dyke previously worked out for the Minnesota Vikings, but left without a signing a contract.

Meanwhile, because Van Dyke’s injury settlement came with the Chiefs, Kansas City can’t sign him until the duration of the agreed upon injury settlement expires, in this case six games, according to a source.

The Chiefs, should the team choose, can sign Van Dyke on Monday, Dec. 1.

The 25-year-old Van Dyke, who possesses 4.28 40-yard dash speed, originally entered the league in 2011 out of Miami as a third-round pick of the Oakland Raiders. He then spent two seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers before signing a reserve/future deal with the Chiefs in January 2014.

He appeared in the Chiefs’ four preseason games, totaling four tackles (three solo), three passes defensed, a forced fumble and one special teams tackle.

Kansas City currently has cornerbacks Sean Smith, rookie Phillip Gaines, Marcus Cooper, Jamell Fleming and Chris Owens on the roster. Fleming has missed four straight games with a hamstring injury, while Owens missed two straight games with a knee injury.

The Chiefs wouldn’t confirm the Van Dyke workout, but the team doesn’t normally comment on individual workout sessions.

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Reggie Wayne: 'I'm never going to beg for catches'

INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis Colts receiver Reggie Wayne won’t address the media until Friday, but he talked about his quick departure from the locker room following Sunday’s victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars on his weekly radio show on 1260-AM WNDE in Indianapolis.

And it wasn’t because he was upset over only having three catches for 10 yards.

“If I don’t speak to the media, there’s a reason why,” Wayne said on his show. “I had to leave for a personal matter. I’m hearing about how I’m [Seattle running back] Marshawn Lynch now. I love the media, but I had to jet. I had to go home.”

There were quite a few questions raised about how Wayne got his two final catches to extend his streak of consecutive games with at least three catches in a game to 81.

With less than three minutes remaining and the game already determined, coach Chuck Pagano called consecutive short pass plays that totaled two yards gained for Wayne to get his second and third catches.

"I guarantee you nowhere in there did I say I wanted two more catches to extend the streak,” Wayne said on his radio show. “I'm never going to beg for catches, especially when we're winning."

Pagano said Monday that it was strictly his decision to call those plays for Wayne.

“I don’t think there would be one person that would argue my decision on what I decided to do,” the coach said Monday. “I called the play, I made the decision and those guys go run the plays, and Reggie would never come up to me, nobody on our team would come up to me. They just want to win football games. And do I have any second thoughts about what I did? Not one bit.”

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Pat O’Donnell Practices Field Goal Kicking

Points have been hard to come by the season for the Bears, so the last thing they need is another potential source of them unavailable for Thursday night’s game against the Cowboys. That could be the case, as kicker Robbie Gould didn’t participate in Tuesday’s practice due to a quad injury.

“Robbie was sore this morning,” coach Marc Trestman said. “So we just rested him today. We’ll see where he is like with the other guys who didn’t practice today. We’ll just see where he is tomorrow.”

Trestman wouldn’t elaborate on contingency plans, calling it an “organizational issue” and adding that the team would see where Gould’s at Wednesday. Punter Pat O’Donnell is the backup, and he last kicked field goals in high school. O’Donnell said his range is around 45 yards, and he kicks once a week even when Gould is healthy.

“Pat practiced today,” Trestman said. “So I’ll leave it at that. He practiced today, and again, we’re hopeful. We’ll see where Robbie is tomorrow.”

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Sizzling Calais Campbell knows he could be better

Defensive end Calais Campbell is playing exceptionally well. He deserves to be considered for the Pro Bowl. He had three sacks last week in Seattle, and then this is how Bruce Arians evaluated Campbell’s game: “Calais played his normal game. He could play better. He had potential for a five-sack day. Three sacks is nice when it comes to sacks, but he’s a better player than that.”

Not exactly a huge pat on the back — and Campbell said B.A. said exactly what he should say.

“It’s true,” Campbell said. “I didn’t do enough to help my team win. I missed tackles, coach gave me credit on the sheet for two missed tackles but there were three or four other plays I could’ve made but I didn’t. I have a lot of pride in my game and I want to make those plays. I am glad Coach has high standards for me. I love his honesty. Otherwise it lets me take a step to be less that I was.”

Campbell missed two games with a knee injury and has been wearing a brace (and dealing with pain and a not-100-percent knee since). Yet he’s tied for the team-lead in sacks (six, coincidentally the same as linebacker Alex Okafor, who missed three games with injury this season), a team-high eight tackles for loss and leads all defensive linemen in tackles, with 37.

Arians and defensive coordinator Todd Bowles like the way Campbell is playing, but both see a guy who is dominant and should produce on a dominant level all the time. Campbell embraces that line of thinking.

“If (Arians) was ‘Calais played great’ and I didn’t feel I played great, eventually I might be like, ‘Well, at least coach is happy,’ ” Campbell said. “Not to say he wasn’t happy, because he was, but he should expect more from me, because I expect more from me. I respect that part of him, because he knows how good I can be.”

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Brandon Meriweather’s status ‘not looking good’

Safety Brandon Meriweather’s availability for Sunday’s game is also in doubt. The safety sprained his big toe and is “probably going to be questionable for a little while,” according to Gruden.

“We don’t know his status yet, but it’s not looking good,” Gruden said.

Meriweather said x-rays on the toe came back negative. However, he did not remember when the injury occurred and its extent was not explained to him.

“To be honest, I have no idea,” Meriweather said. “They actually didn’t tell me anything except I need to put it in the cold tub.”

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Sam Shields going through concussion protocol

Packers cornerback Sam Shields, who left Sunday's game with a concussion, is going through the concussion protocol, coach Mike McCarthy said.

Shields has 30 total tackles and two interceptions this season.

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Allen Bailey suffers concussion Sunday

Chiefs defensive end Allen Bailey has been diagnosed with a concussion, the team announced. Bailey managed four total tackles before coming out of the game with the injury, including one tackle for loss.

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Frank Gore’s amazing dependability and consistency–he’s the only top RB who hasn’t missed a game since the start of 2011

And now just a few thoughts on the amazing durability and longevity of Frank Gore heading into today’s game against Washington…

Gore is 31, in his 10th NFL season, and his current total of 2,345 career carries is second among active runners only to Steven Jackson’s 2,681.
Jackson also is first among active runners in yards (11,148) and Gore (10,615) is second there, too.

My point today: After seeing younger backs like Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice stalled or stopped by suspensions this year… and knowing that other backs tend to slow down somewhere around the 1,500-carry mark or much earlier…

I am always struck that the 49ers have been able to count on Gore almost every game for his entire career, but especially from the start of the Jim Harbaugh era in 2011.

* I also do not mean to jinx Gore with this item. I presume I won’t. If he does get hurt in any way today, I’m sure I’ll hear about it.

Guys like Arian Foster, Reggie Bush, Ryan Matthews, Chris Johnson or LeGarrette Blount go in and out of lineups with injuries or other issues.
Guys like Darren McFadden can never really get going.

Guys like Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice have this year run into major problems.

And… guys like Gore and Lynch are incredibly valuable. I would also say: Very tricky to replace, and I believe both teams are considering that for 2015.

Let’s just go through Gore and his contemporaries (backs who have been major producers from 2011 on) and compare the consistency–the 49ers have been able to count on Gore for EVERY GAME for three-plus years and among elite RBs, only Marshawn Lynch is close to that…

--Frank Gore since the start of 2011 (which was his seventh NFL season, when he was 28): Played in 58 of his team’s 58 regular-season games, with 974 carries. Will play today. #2 among active rushers in career yards.

–Marshawn Lynch since the start of 2011 (his fifth NFL season, when he was 25): Played in 57 of his team’s 58 regular-season games, with 1,078 carries. Will play today. #6 among active rushers in career yards.

–Matt Forte since the start of 2011 (his fourth NFL season, when he was 26): Played 53 of his team’s 58 regular-season games, with 913 carries. Will play today. #8.

–LeSean McCoy since the start of 2011 (his third NFL season, when he was 23): Played 53 of his team’s 58 regular-season games, with 983 carries. Will play today. #11.

–Steven Jackson since the start of 2011 (his eighth NFL season, when he was 27): Played in 53 of his team’s 58 regular-season games, with 803 carries. Will play today. #1.

–Reggie Bush since the start of 2011 (his sixth NFL season, when he was 26): Played in 52 of his team’s 58 regular-season games, with 719 carries. Will not play today. #16.

–Arian Foster since the start of 2011 (his third NFL season, when he was 25): Played in 45 of his team’s 58 regular-season games, with 911 carries. Not expected to play today. #14.

–Darren McFadden since the start of 2011 (his fourth NFL season, when he was 24): Played in 40 of his team’s 59 regular-season games, with 568 carries. Already played Thursday. #22.

–Adrian Peterson since the start of 2011 (his fifth NFL season, when he was 26): Played 43 of his team’s 58 regular-season games, with 856 carries. Currently suspended. #3.

–Ray Rice since the start of 2011 (his fourth NFL season, when he was 24): Played in 47 of his team’s 58 regular-season games, with 762 carries. Currently suspended and not on a team–had played in 47/48 until this season’s suspension. #12.

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John Salmons may earn more court time with versatility

John Salmons’ experience and versatility certainly has not been lost on New Orleans Pelicans coach Monty Williams.

Despite having not been very productive and thus not getting a lot of playing time, his ability to play small forward and shooting guard has helped keep him the mix. And with a big hole at small forward and starting guard Eric Gordon out injured, Salmons could be a dose of medicine for an ailing lineup.

“He can play both,” Williams said. “And in our system, (small forward and shooting guard) can be interchangeable.”

Except for size concerns. At 6-feet-6 and in his 13th year, guarding taller, younger, more athletic small forwards is even more of a challenge than it was when he was younger. He was brought in to strengthen the small forward spot, with Darius Miller, who has limited experience, and Luke Babbitt, who is a small, outside-shooting power forward, also playing there.

Miller got his first start of the season Tuesday against Sacramento, with Tyeke Evans moving from small forward to Gordon’s shooting guard spot. However, Miller didn’t score in 14 minutes, 22 seconds. He did not play Friday at Atlanta.

Williams then tried Austin Rivers as the starting shooting guard against the Hawks, and he, too, did not score, shooting 0-of-8. Salmons, however, may have provided a glimmer of hope, shooting 3-of-6 on 3-point attempts and scoring nine points in 25 minutes, with four assists, a steal and a blocked shot.

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Padres “have gotten more aggressive” trying to trade Yasmani Grandal

ESPN colleagues Buster Olney and Keith Law both have sources saying the Padres are looking to deal catcher Yasmani Grandal, with Olney writing that they “have gotten more aggressive” in those efforts.

Grandal returned from a major knee injury to play well in 2014, hitting 15 homers and posting a .728 OPS in 128 games despite calling pitcher-friendly Petco Park home.

However, his .225 batting average wasn’t pretty and apparently the Padres aren’t big fans of his defense behind the plate, which explains why they’d even entertain trading a 26-year-old catcher with 20-homer power under team control through 2018.

If the Padres trade Grandal they’d presumably turn to Rene Rivera as their primary catcher. He’s a 31-year-old journeyman who logged more than 125 plate appearances in the majors for the first time in his career this season.

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Pirates designate Gaby Sanchez

The Pirates have announced that they've acquired Sean Rodriguez from the Rays for a player to be named later or cash. They've also designated Gaby Sanchez for assignment.

The Rays designated Rodriguez for assignment last week. He's right-handed and can play first, second, third or the outfield and grades as a decent defender at any of those. He used to play shortstop but has done that less in recent years. He hit .211/.258/.443 last season. The batting average should come up a bit next year, but the power numbers should come down -- his 12 home runs in part-time duty last season represented a career high, although he did hit a ton of home runs years ago in the minors. He's projected to make $2 million in 2015 in his last season before free agency eligibility.

Sanchez would have gotten a raise to around $2.7 million next season, and given his poor play in 2014 and his age, he wasn't worth that. Designating him for assignment now means there's no longer any question about whether the Pirates will tender him, so this move takes most of the drama out of the non-tender deadline tomorrow night.

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Padres VP of scouting: Reports on Grandal 'were all good'

Padres vice president of scouting operations Don Welke said he heard good things about catcher Yasmani Grandal, who hit .328 with a .469 on-base percentage in the Dominican winter league. He also had seven doubles, two homers and 14 RBI in 19 games, while totaling 18 walks against 15 strikeouts.

"The reports were all good on Grandal," Welke said, per "He looked sharper offensively and defensively. You know he's doing good when quite a few teams express interest in him. I think he's got a chance to have a lot of impact."

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Ryan Braun says troublesome thumb 'feels great'

The most scrutinized right thumb in Milwaukee Brewers history was a bit frozen Wednesday morning but otherwise feeling much better.

Ryan Braun was all smiles when talking about the progress made since having a medical procedure on the troublesome thumb, which was good news for him, the team and concerned citizens of Brewer Nation.

"It feels great," said Braun, who braved freezing temperatures to participate in the Brewers' annual Thanksgiving food drive with the Hunger Task Force outside Miller Park.

"I'm encouraged by how it feels, but at the same time I have to be kind of cautiously optimistic," he said. "When I get into spring training and start playing every day, I'll see how it responds. But it hasn't felt this good in a really long time."

Braun, whose ability to swing a bat was greatly compromised by a nerve issue in the thumb since early in the 2013 season, underwent a somewhat experimental cryotherapy procedure on Oct. 2 during which sub-zero temperatures were introduced into the damaged nerve via needle. He experienced enough relief to begin swinging a bat shortly afterward, with encouraging results.

"I've been able to do everything full-go," Braun said while taking a break from collecting food to speak with reporters. "I'm not limited in any way. I'm not hitting or anything at this point. I hit a lot right after I had the procedure done. I'll do my typical routine when I get back into baseball-specific activities in late December."

As for how the thumb felt when he did test it, Braun said, "Amazing. It felt really good.

"Right now, I don't feel anything, and I haven't been able to say that for two years. It would hurt shaking hands, writing, just doing regular, everyday activities. And I don't feel it at all.

"There was some residual soreness after the procedure for a couple of weeks. But, overall, it has felt really good. Basically, there was an immediate difference. So definitely a good thing, exciting."

A lot is riding on the thumb procedure standing the test of time, for both Braun and the Brewers. Unable to properly grip the bat and keep his top hand on the handle during his swing, Braun suffered through a subpar 2014 season in which he batted .266 with 19 home runs, 81 runs batted in and a .777 OPS.

The thumb condition worsened as the season progressed. Braun, 31, batted .226 after the all-star break with eight homers and 29 RBI. Over the final month, when the Brewers collapsed from first place and fell out of the playoff race amid a team-wide offensive slump, he hit .210 with one homer and five RBI.

"I said last year a few times, I really believe if I was anywhere near healthy, the season ends up differently," said Braun, whose five-year, $105 million contract extension kicks in after the 2015 season. "Hopefully, this thing continues to feel good like it does right now and I can get back to being one of the best players in the league."

The Brewers' offensive collapse cost hitting coach Johnny Narron his job, but manager Ron Roenicke survived and will be back at the helm next season, which Braun said is a good thing.

"Ron has been great," said Braun. "All of us have enjoyed having him as our manager. He's a great leader, a great communicator. I don't think that our failure had anything to do with his managing. It had to do with our playing.

"A lot of times managers end up being the scapegoat. But it certainly wasn't his fault that we didn't finish on a good note. So I'm definitely happy to have him back."

Should the cryotherapy treatment wear off when Braun ramps up his off-season workouts, he has the option of having another such procedure as sort of a booster shot.

"I don't think there's enough information out there on the procedure to have any specific knowledge of how it's going to respond or how long it will work, or anything like that," Braun said. "So we're sort of figuring it out as we go."

Asked if he wishes now he had tried the procedure during the season instead of waiting, Braun said: "Hindsight is always 20-20. It's easy to say that now. There was a time when I definitely wanted to do it, but I understood why we decided not to.

"I'm not concerned. I'm excited. But at the same time, I went into last year and I felt really good going into spring training. The first four or five weeks it felt great and I played great, and kind of reinjured it. But we just rested it. We didn't do a procedure on it."

Other than adding first baseman Adam Lind in a trade with Toronto, the Brewers have been relatively quiet on the personnel front this off-season. Braun said that doesn't mean the team is done making moves.

"It's early in the off-season," said Braun, who has been enjoying time at home with newborn daughter Celine. "Sometimes it takes time for any big moves to happen or occur.

"But I think getting Adam Lind is huge for us. Adding a left-handed bat to the middle of our lineup should be something that should really benefit us. It's probably been one of our bigger issues over the last couple of seasons.

"We've been predominantly a right-handed hitting lineup. And our division has really good right-handed pitchers. So adding a lefty to the middle of our lineup is huge for us."

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