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After conflicting reports about whether Lions running back David Montgomery (thigh) and left tackle Taylor Decker (ankle) would play, the official word is out. Both players are active.

Of course, players can dress and not play, but Montgomery and Decker are expected to take the field.

The Lions’ inactives are fullback Jason Cabinda (knee), safety Kerby Joseph (hip), running back Zonovan Knight, defensive lineman Brodric Martin, cornerback Emmanuel Moseley (knee/hamstring) and offensive guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai (knee).

The Packers will have running back Aaron Jones (hamstring) and receiver Christian Watson (hamstring). Both players were questionable.

Cornerback Jaire Alexander (back) will miss his second consecutive game.

The team’s other inactives are receiver Malik Heath, safety Anthony Johnson Jr., safety Zayne Anderson (hamstring), linebacker Brenton Cox Jr., linebacker De’Vondre Campbell (ankle) and left guard Elgton Jenkins (knee).

Vance Joseph kept his job after his Broncos defense had a historically bad performance in Miami last week. Sean Payton was asked the day after the “embarrassing” 70-20 whipping whether he was considering changes to his coaching staff, including defensive coordinator.

“No, and that would not be something that I’d shared on a conference call if that were ever the case,” the Broncos head coach said. “So no, to answer your question.”

On Thursday, Joseph did what he had to do: He pointed the finger at himself for the Broncos allowing 10 touchdowns and 726 yards and missing 24 tackles.

“Well, it obviously wasn’t good,” Joseph said, via Troy Renck of Denver7. “When your unit plays that way, my first thought is that it’s me. I have to do a better job coaching and getting guys ready for the challenge. It was a tough day. As a coach and an experienced coach, when those things happen, it’s always, in my opinion, me first. I will fix it quickly. I have to.”

It will help when star safety Justin Simmons (hip) and outside linebacker Frank Clark (hip) return. Simmons returned to limited work Thursday, while Clark said he hopes to return in Week 5.

It also helps that the Broncos play the Bears on Sunday.

Chicago ranks 31st in points per game (15.7) and has allowed 13 sacks.

“Obviously, that was a tough game to watch just as a competitor but also as a leader trying to find different ways to help and to change the game around,’’ Simmons said. “That’s not the standard that we hold ourselves to. I’m not up here throwing a fit and cussing and showing a bunch of emotions, but it hurt and that was embarrassing to just be a part of and by no means does that fall under the spectrum of one person, though. Coach Joseph, I believe in him. I believe in his staff. I believe in the players that we have in the room, and one game does minimize or maximize what a selective group is made of.”

Joseph and the Broncos get a chance to back that up Sunday.

Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson again was limited in Thursday’s practice, but he did more than he did Wednesday.

Watson completely rested his throwing shoulder Wednesday.

According to reporters at Thursday’s practice, Watson threw the ball softly during the portion of practice open to the media.

The Browns still expect him to play.

“We’ll see how he feels when we get out there,” offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt said Thursday, via Chris Easterling of the Akron Beacon Journal. “We’re confident he’ll be able to go Sunday. We will see how he’s feeling today when we get out.”

Watson played much better Sunday against the Titans, going 27-of-33 for 289 yards with two touchdowns and a 123.4 passer rating. It was his best game of his nine starts for the Browns.

He was only 20-of-40 for 235 yards with three turnovers in a Week 2 loss to the Steelers.

“I wish I could know that exactly,” Van Pelt said of the difference between Week 2 and Week 3. “I’d bottle it to sell it but, yeah, he just played confident. . . . It’s not always going to go that smoothly; we know that. But that was a really strong day of decision making, accuracy, everything that comes with quarterback play.”

Watson was the only player on the injury list not to have a change in his practice participation.

Offensive guard Joel Bitonio (ankle/rest) and running back Kareem Hunt (ribs/groin) returned to practice on a limited basis Thursday. Running back Jerome Ford (shoulder), offensive tackle James Hudson (ankle) and cornerback Greg Newsome (elbow) were full participants a day after being limited.

The Browns defense has allowed the fewest points and yards of any team in the league through the first three weeks of the 2023 season, which reflects well on the job that new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has done so far.

Schwartz’s next test comes against the Ravens this Sunday and that means he’ll be tasked with coming up with a plan to limit the effectiveness of quarterback Lamar Jackson. On Thursday, Schwartz said that his approach to dealing with Jackson isn’t going to differ much from his approach to dealing with everyone else.

In short, Schwartz is going to keep the aggressiveness dialed up this weekend.

“You can error on the other side of Lamar Jackson,” Schwartz said at his press conference. “If you sit there and shoo the chickens, as we say, you’re not gonna get him either. We’re gonna rely on our team speed, we’re gonna rely on team defense, we’re gonna rely on running through with leverage and try to take the fight to him as opposed to sitting back and trying to hem him in.”

Schwartz has pushed all the right buttons thus far and more of the same this weekend would give the Browns a good chance at moving to 3-1 on the season.

The Saints’ defense is putting together an impressive streak of shutting down opposing offenses.

New Orleans hasn’t allowed more than 20 points in a game since a 27-13 loss to the Ravens in Week Nine of last season. The Saints’ 18-17 loss to the Packers on Sunday was their 11th straight game of allowing 20 points or fewer.

If the Saints allow 20 points or fewer this week against the Buccaneers, they’ll be the first team to hold 12 straight opponents to 20 points or less since the 1994-95 Cleveland Browns, coached by Bill Belichick.

The Buccaneers have averaged 19.3 points a game through three games this season, so the Saints need to keep them right at their average to reach a dozen straight games without giving up more than 20.

Broncos edge rusher Frank Clark will miss his third straight game this week, but he is hopeful that his reutrn to action isn’t too far off.

Clark is listed with a hip injury and said on Thursday, via Mike Klis of KUSA, that he suffered a tear in his groin and abductor during a practice before the team’s Week Two loss to Washington. The injury will sideline him against the Bears this week, but Clark said he believes he will be able to play against the Jets in Week Five.

Linebacker Josey Jewell (hip) and defensive tackle Mike Purcell (ribs) joined Clark in missing practice on Thursday. Neither player has practiced this week.

Wide receiver Jerry Jeudy (knee) and safety Justin Simmons (hip) were limited in practice for the second straight day.

The presence of Taylor Swift at Sunday’s 41-10 blowout by the Chiefs over the Bears helped delivered a much larger audience than the quality of the game would suggest. Her reported attendance at Sunday night’s Chiefs-Jets game also will see a boost over what Patrick Mahomes vs. Zach Wilson would have generated without her involvement.

The last proof of the Swift Effect comes from Spotify, which has issued a press release explaining the increases in the streaming of the New Heights podcast, featuring Jason and Travis Kelce.

After Sunday’s game, searches for “Travis Kelce” increased by more than 1,300 percent on Spotify, in comparison to Monday, September 18.

The newest episode, in which Travis addresses the Taylor Swift situation, has become the most-streamed episode of the podcast to date.

Currently, it’s the No. 2 overall podcast in the U.S. and Canada, and the No. 1 sports podcast in the U.S., Australia, and Mexico. It’s the No. 2 sports podcast in the U.K.

So, yes, the connection of Taylor Swift to the NFL has benefited Kelce. It has benfitted the Chiefs. It will continue to benefit the networks. And it definitely will benefit the NFL.

The Titans have a pair of injury concerns at receiver, based on Thursday’s practice report.

Second-year wideout Treylon Burks did not participate on Thursday after he was limited on Wednesday with a knee injury. And DeAndre Hopkins was added to the Thursday report as limited with an ankle issue.

Burks has six receptions for 99 yards this season while Hopkins has 14 catches for 153 yards.

Running back Derrick Henry also did not participate in Thursday’s practice, but he’s listed with rest in addition to a toe injury.

Defensive lineman Denico Autry (groin) was added to the injury report, too, as a limited participant.

Linebacker Luke Gifford (hamstring), defensive back Elijah Molden (hamstring), and offensive lineman Peter Skoronski (abdomen) did not practice for the second straight day.

Defensive lineman Teair Tart (knee) was upgraded to a limited participant after he didn’t practice on Wednesday.

Outside linebacker Harold Landry (hamstring) and tight end Josh While (illness) were upgraded from limited to full.

Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson doesn’t want to hear anyone writing his team off after three games.

The Vikings have lost all three of those games and that’s led to chatter about whether the team should look into trading players away in order to build draft assets they can use to rebuild the roster in 2024. Jefferson said it is much too early to have those kinds of conversations because there are “things that you’ve got to go through throughout the season to really tell if you’re going to be a great team or not.”

“I’m tired of people saying that we’re looking into next season or all of the trades and stuff like that,” Jefferson said, via Kevin Seifert of “We’re focused still on this season. We have a lot more games to go and we have a lot more things to accomplish this season. We’re still focused in, and we still have the same goal as we had before the season. We just need to fix a few things and I feel like we’ll be back on track.”

The Vikings’ point differential in their three losses is -13, so they aren’t getting run off the field on a weekly basis but the zero in the win column ultimately matters more than how the losses came to pass. Beating the winless Vikings this weekend would be a good way to quiet some of the talk that the Vikings should be thinking about next year.

The Cowboys had three starting offensive linemen sidelined Sunday. Those same three linemen began the Week 4 work week in the rehab group.

The team received some good news Thursday, though, when right guard Zack Martin (ankle) and center Tyler Biadasz (hamstring) returned to practice on a limited basis. Left tackle Tyron Smith (knee) remained out.

Smith dressed but did not play in the loss to the Cardinals. Martin and Biadasz were inactive.

Brock Hoffman started at center, T.J. Bass at right guard and Chuma Edoga at left tackle. Edoga remains on the practice report with an elbow injury and had another limited practice Thursday.