Eagles

NFL Notes: Ezekiel Elliott drops appeal, will serve rest of suspension

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NFL Notes: Ezekiel Elliott drops appeal, will serve rest of suspension

FRISCO, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott has dropped his appeal with five games remaining on his six-game suspension over alleged domestic violence.

Elliott's agents said Wednesday the decision by last year's NFL rushing leader "is in no way an admission of wrongdoing." They said Elliott's decision came from "a practical assessment of the current legal landscape."

Elliott had a hearing set in a federal appeals court on Dec. 1, four games into the suspension.

He served the first game in Dallas' 27-7 loss to Atlanta last weekend. By accepting the six games, Elliott is eligible to return for the final two games: Dec. 24 at home against Seattle and Dec. 31 at Philadelphia.

The 22-year-old Elliott was suspended in August after the league concluded following a yearlong investigation that he had several physical confrontations in the summer of 2016 with Tiffany Thompson, his girlfriend at the time. Prosecutors in Ohio didn't pursue the case. Elliott denied the allegations under oath during his NFL appeal (see full story).

Bills: QB Taylor benched in favor of rookie
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Rather than continue watching a pedestrian offense muddle through a third consecutive game, Bills coach Sean McDermott sent his team a jolt by making an abrupt change at quarterback.

Tyrod Taylor was benched Wednesday and rookie fifth-round pick Nathan Peterman will make his first career start on Sunday, when Buffalo (5-4) plays at the Los Angeles Chargers (3-6).

McDermott acknowledged taking a "calculated risk" in making the switch at a time when the Bills have a winning record. They sit sixth in the AFC standings, and control their own destiny in a bid to end a 17-season playoff drought -- the longest active streak in North America's four major professional sports.

"This is about becoming better as a football team," he said. "As a decision maker, you have to be able to or willing to take calculated risks to get to where we're trying to go. And I'm comfortable doing that,” (see full story).

Browns: Team upset with comments by Gipson
BEREA, Ohio -- Several Cleveland players feel disrespected by Jacksonville safety Tashaun Gipson's harsh comments about the Browns.

Gipson was a Pro Bowler with the Browns before the team chose not to re-sign him as a free agent after the 2015 season.

Earlier this week, Gipson took some swipes at Cleveland's front office for letting him leave, predicted the Jaguars will score 40 points this Sunday against the NFL's only winless team and believes the Browns will "probably go 0-16."

Browns linebacker Christian Kirksey said Gipson is only trying to "rile up" his teammates, but that his words have provided some extra motivation. Kirksey and Gipson are close friends.

Rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer said he's looking forward to "prove him wrong with those comments."

Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said he addressed Gipson's comments with his team and that the safety will not be disciplined (see full story).

Vikings: Sticking with Keenum at QB
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Case Keenum will start again at quarterback this week for the Minnesota Vikings.

This time he'll face his former team, the Los Angeles Rams.

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer announced Wednesday that Keenum will keep his place running an offense that produced a season-high 38 points in the previous game at Washington. The Vikings host the Rams Sunday.

With Teddy Bridgewater back on the active roster, he's widely expected to take over sooner than later. The Vikings have won five straight games with some strong performances by Keenum, though, so a change now would be strange.

Keenum has started five and finished six of the team's seven victories this season, relieving Sam Bradford because of knee trouble. Bridgewater has not played in a non-preseason game in more than 22 months.

Eagles bring back special teams maven Bryan Braman

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Eagles bring back special teams maven Bryan Braman

The Eagles have brought back a former special teams ace for the stretch run. 

Special teamer Bryan Braman on Tuesday signed with the Eagles to rejoin Dave Fipp's special teams group.

Braman, 30, had been with the Eagles from 2014-16, when he was a major contributor for Fipp's top-end special teams unit. He can help fill the void left by the season-ending injury to Chris Maragos earlier in the season. 

During his three seasons with the Eagles, Braman led all Eagles with 1,214 special teams snaps. He played more special teams snaps than any other Eagle in each of the last two seasons. He played in all 48 games over those three seasons, but was mainly a special teams player. 

After officially placing quarterback Carson Wentz (ACL) on Injured Reserve Tuesday, the Eagles had one available roster spot. It looks like it will be filled by Braman. 

Braman was not resigned by the Eagles this past offseason. He spent some time in New Orleans but was placed on their IR and was then released. He hasn't been with a team since early September. 

Eagles' offense 'full steam ahead' with Nick Foles at QB

Eagles' offense 'full steam ahead' with Nick Foles at QB

Carson Wentz is out, Nick Foles is in. 

And the Eagles claim their offense isn't going to change. 

On it's face, that seems somewhat absurd. After all, Wentz is more than an average quarterback. He's the face of the Eagles' franchise and was an MVP candidate through 13 weeks. Foles was once a Pro Bowler, but there's a reason he wasn't a starter entering this season. 

So how will the offense look different? 

"I don't expect it will look different at all," Foles said adamantly.  

Why is that? 

"Because it's our offense," Foles answered. "This is the Eagles' offense. This is the one that is the DNA of this team. And we're going to do what we do. We have so many tremendous players on offense that can do a lot of different things. We just have to go out there and execute and have a great week of work and just keep moving." 

Offensive coordinator Frank Reich finally admitted that there will be "very minor tweaks" to the Eagles' weekly game plans with Foles in at quarterback. But he made the same point as Foles, that the system is built around the QB, but also around the other talent on offense. 

There is, however, one pretty significant difference between Wentz and Foles. 

"Now, Carson has some unique physical traits that he does exceptionally well, but it's nothing that Nick can't handle," Reich said. "We're full steam ahead."

The Eagles run plenty of run-pass option plays, but head coach Doug Pederson pointed out on Monday that the Eagles very rarely use their quarterback to run the ball in those situations. And as far as RPOs go, Foles has used them plenty before. 

Another part of the offense that has been tailored to Wentz is the autonomy the quarterback has at the line of scrimmage. Wentz has been able to make calls and checks pre-snap based on what the defense shows. It seems like Foles will have that same ability, which is something he's excited about. 

"Understand this, he's a veteran player who has played and won a lot of games, not only here, but other places that he's been," Pederson said. "Nick's a highly intelligent football player."

Pederson said he and Foles will talk weekly to make sure his quarterback is comfortable with the plays that go into the game plan. So, theoretically, things could be different. But based on what the offensive leaders of the team have said, don't expect wholesale changes. 

Now, what might change about the offense isn't necessarily by design. Because of Wentz's unique physical gifts and escapability, he's able to make incredible plays. The escape in Washington, the throw to Corey Clement in the end zone, the deep flick down the sideline in Seattle, those are plays only a handful of guys in the world can make. It would be unfair to expect Foles to make them. 

But as far as game-planning goes, the Eagles are going to do what they've done. 

"I feel comfortable in this offense," Foles said. "I love this offense. We're going to run this offense. Nothing's going to change."

Foles dealt with elbow soreness during the summer, but says his elbow now feels "amazing" and is not an issue. That's good news for the Eagles, because at least Foles has plenty of starting experience. His backup, Nate Sudfeld, has never even been active for an NFL game. 

The Eagles' hopes in 2017 rest on the shoulders of Foles. 

"I've always been a gunslinger, just let it rip," Foles said. "That's what I'm going to do. I'm going to play loose, count on the guys, lead this team. There's no other place I'd rather be. That's why I came back here. ... I'm ready to step up and help this team win."