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NFL: Week 3

Revelations from Polian

Colts president says 18-game schedule is a ‘fait accompli’

Associated Press / September 28, 2010

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Colts president Bill Polian believes the debate over an 18-game NFL season is over, and an expanded schedule will soon become a reality.

The competition committee member and former league executive twice said he expects the NFL to stretch its regular season by two games. He twice called the decision a “fait accompli’’ during his weekly radio show last night.

“I think that the owners, and principally the commissioner, have decided that it’s the way to go, and so the debate, such as it was, is over,’’ Polian said. “I’ve heard recently, and I’m sorry that this didn’t get more coverage earlier, some really, really interesting commentary on it . . . I wish some of that dialogue had taken place earlier.’’

Officially, nothing has changed.

League owners and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell have expressed support for cutting the preseason schedule from four games to two and expanding the regular-season schedule from 16 to 18. But the format change hasn’t been approved by either the owners or the NFL Players Association.

Polian believes that is just a formality although the two sides are trying to work out a new collective bargaining agreement before the current deal expires in March.

A caller asked Polian how close the league was to expanding to 18 games and how the Colts would respond to fewer preseason games, trimming the number of opportunities players would have to win roster spots.

Polian said: “The short answer is that it’s a fait accompli, I’m afraid, and we’re going to have to find ways to get those evaluative experiences. We’re not going to sit back and say, ‘Uh oh, 18 games. Now we’re going to become a veteran team.’ That’s not going to work. And it’s not the way we want to play.’’

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the league would not respond to Polian’s comments.

Polian is already mapping out contingency plans. One solution under consideration is holding combined practices or controlled scrimmages with nearby teams to give players more chances to impress the evaluators. Those discussions are already being held internally, Polian said.

“In a two-game preseason, you’re going to have to play the regulars a half and a half. And that’s going to take a full game away, essentially a full game away from the rookies who are trying to make the team,’’ he said. “So how do you deal with that? Well you’ve got to set up evaluative experiences for them in other venues. And I’m hoping that we can get enough camp time to be able to go against the Bears, let’s say, or go against the Bengals in a controlled situation. Perhaps the Rams, people nearby.’’

49ers cut ties with Raye
Their offense in a funk, the winless San Francisco 49ers fired coordinator Jimmy Raye.

Raye was dismissed one day after San Francisco lost, 31-10, at Kansas City to fall to 0-3. The 49ers have scored 38 points, second fewest in the NFL behind Carolina.

Mike Johnson will move from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator. Offensive assistant Jason Michael will be the quarterbacks coach.

Coach Mike Singletary said he made the decision after spending the night looking at game film.

“One thing I want you to understand is if I make a decision, it’s my decision,’’ he said. “The thing that I have control over is the 53-man staff, the 53-man roster and the staff, who is on my coaching staff. That is my decision.’’

Raye and Singletary often disagreed on how to get the offense rolling. Quarterback Alex Smith has been inconsistent, as have the receivers, with only running back Frank Gore a steady contributor.

Edwards shuffled out
The Bills released quarterback Trent Edwards in a surprise move that came a week after he lost the starting job for a second straight season. The team announced the move a day after Ryan Fitzpatrick provided the offense with a spark in a 38-30 loss in Foxborough.

Edwards was in his fourth season after being selected in the third round of the 2007 draft out of Stanford. He went 14-18 as a starter, including 0-2 this season.

“After the way that Fitz played, I feel very confident about the direction we’re going,’’ Buffalo coach Chan Gailey said. “Trent did the best he could, and he’s a great young man and I wish him the best.’’

Edwards’s release marks a sudden and decisive reversal for a player who had earned Gailey’s confidence by beating out Fitzpatrick and Brian Brohm in an offseason-long competition to reclaim the starting job. Gailey had been so impressed by Edwards he noted how he saw “a light at the end of the tunnel’’ in praising the player three weeks ago. Edwards failed to build on that trust by reverting to his familiar hesitant form which, a year ago, led Bills fans to label him as “Trent-ative’’ and “Captain Checkdown.’’

Weis has gall bladder surgery
Chiefs offensive coordinator Charlie Weis had emergency gall bladder surgery yesterday, according to a report in The Kansas City Star.

Weis’s agent, Bob LaMonte, said the former Notre Dame coach and Patriots coordinator chose to delay surgery until after Sunday’s home win over the 49ers.

Chiefs coach Todd Haley declined to talk about Weis’s condition beyond saying it was not a life-threatening situation.

LaMonte told the newspaper that Weis had a painful infection but put off the surgery so he could coach in the game.

Hartley safe for now
Saints coach Sean Payton said he is undecided about whether to bring in kickers this week to compete with the struggling Garrett Hartley in practice. Hartley missed a 29-yard field goal that would have beaten the Falcons in overtime Sunday, hooking the ball well left. It was his third miss in seven attempts this season . . . Rams running back Steven Jackson said on his Twitter feed that his groin injury is only a strain. Jackson had an MRI after getting hurt in the second quarter of Sunday’s 30-16 win over the Redskins. Jackson was injured while getting gang-tackled after a carry. He also tweeted that he’d already had two hours of rehab treatment.

Ravens’ Rice hurting
Ravens running back Ray Rice has a bruised knee, an injury that has left his status in doubt for this week’s AFC North showdown against the undefeated Steelers. Rice left Sunday’s game against the Browns with just under 10 minutes left after catching a short pass for a 4-yard gain. An MRI revealed “a significant contusion,’’ according to Ravens coach John Harbaugh. Asked if he expected Rice to play against Pittsburgh, Harbaugh said, “We’ll see how he fares throughout the week. We’ll see how it heals.’’ The team wouldn’t reveal whether Rice hurt his left or right knee . . . Rex Ryan is optimistic about Jets linebacker Calvin Pace’s chances of returning this week from a broken right foot. Ryan said he is hopeful that cornerback Darrelle Revis, recovering from a strained left hamstring, could also be back against Buffalo but adds that the team wants to be certain he’s completely healed before he plays . . . The Jaguars revamped their beleaguered secondary by releasing defensive back Michael Coe, a day after Coe got beat for a 61-yard touchdown against Philadelphia, and re-signing safety Gerald Alexander. The Jaguars also released tight end Ernest Wilford and waived quarterback Brett Ratliff from the practice squad. Jacksonville then signed quarterback Keith Null, a former backup in St. Louis.

McKenzie a contrite Giant
A day after getting benched, Giants tackle Kareem McKenzie described his behavior in a loss to Tennessee as “despicable.’’ A solemn and contrite McKenzie spoke frankly about his two personal foul penalties during the Giants’ 29-10 loss. McKenzie said he met with coach Tom Coughlin to discuss the situation. “I spoke with him and it was a conversation that needed to be had,’’ the 10-year veteran said. “I have to exercise better judgment.’’ . . . Broncos wide receiver Kenny McKinley was remembered as a model teammate with a body-shaking laugh that could provide much-needed breaks from locker room tension. Family, teammates, and coaches were among several hundred people who gathered at a church in Austell, Ga., for the 23-year-old’s funeral. McKinley died last week. Authorities believe McKinley shot himself in the head because he was depressed after his second straight season-ending knee surgery . . . George Blanda, who scored 2,002 points in a 26-year career, died, the Raiders announced. He was 83. Obituary, B12.

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