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Updated on 5:46p ET, Friday, January 04, 2019

Chargers RB Gordon officially cleared versus Ravens

Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon is a full-go for Sunday's AFC wild-card game against the host Baltimore Ravens after going through three full practice sessions without a setback.

Gordon, who injured an ankle in last Sunday's game against the Denver Broncos, was officially cleared on Friday and taken off the team's injury report.

Gordon rushed for 885 yards and 10 touchdowns in 12 games during the regular season. He also caught 50 passes for a career-high 490 yards, along with four scores.

Backup running back Austin Ekeler (groin) is listed as questionable after being a limited practice participant on Friday. Nose tackle Brandon Mebane (personal) is doubtful.

Linebacker Jatavis Brown was listed as out after suffering a season-ending ankle injury against the Broncos.

The Chargers are still pondering whether or not to activate tight end Hunter Henry, who missed the entire regular season after tearing the ACL in his right knee in May.

"We have an extra day to take a look at Hunter and make that decision so we're going to use it," Chargers coach Anthony Lynn told reporters.

Lynn said Henry would see limited action if he were to suit up.

"He would definitely be on a pitch count if he plays," Lynn said. "You can't put a player out there for an extended period of time that hasn't played since last December."

Baltimore, which recorded a 22-10 road win over the Chargers on Dec. 22, listed three players as questionable: guard/tackle Alex Lewis (shoulder), receiver Chris Moore (shoulder, hip) and cornerback Tavon Young (groin).

Moore did not practice on Friday. Young was limited and Lewis was a full participant.

Chiefs QB Mahomes, four rookies named All-Pro

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald headline the 2018 NFL All-Pro team announced Friday.

Mahomes entered the season as a first-time starter and helped Kansas City secure the No. 1 spot in the AFC playoffs with 5,097 yards and 50 touchdown passses.

Donald was the only unanimous selection by the 50-member Associated Press panel. The fifth-year pro had 20.5 sacks after signing the largest contract in NFL history for a defensive player.

Four rookies -- including Colts teammates in guard Quenton Nelson and linebacker Darius Leonard -- were first-team All-Pro picks. Chargers safety Derwin James and Seahawks punter Michael Dickson are the others.

Kansas City, with wide receiver Tyreek Hill, right tackle Mitchell Schwartz and tight end Travis Kelce -- whose brother, Eagles center Jason Kelce, was also picked -- joining Mahomes, and the Chicago Bears had four players named All-Pro. The picks for the Bears are linebacker Khalil Mack, cornerback Kyle Fuller, safety Eddie Jackson and punt returner Tarik Cohen.

Donald was joined by running back Todd Gurley in representing the Rams.

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees was second-team All-Pro and received just five first-team votes while his top target, wide receiver Michael Thomas, was a first-team pick along with DeAndre Hopkins of the Texans.

FIRST TEAM

OFFENSE

Quarterback: Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs

Running Back: Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams

Flex: Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs

Tight End: Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs

Wide Receivers: Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints; DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans

Left Tackle: David Bakhtiari, Green Bay Packers

Right Tackle: Mitchell Schwartz, Kansas City Chiefs

Left Guard: Quenton Nelson, Indianapolis Colts

Right Guard: Zack Martin, Dallas Cowboys

Center: Jason Kelce, Philadelphia Eagles

DEFENSE

Edge Rushers: J.J. Watt, Houston Texans; Khalil Mack, Chicago Bears

Interior Linemen: Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams; Fletcher Cox, Philadelphia Eagles

Linebackers: Luke Kuechly, Carolina Panthers; Bobby Wagner, Seattle Seahawks; Darius Leonard, Indianapolis Colts

Cornerbacks: Kyle Fuller, Chicago Bears; Stephon Gilmore, New England Patriots

Safeties: Eddie Jackson, Chicago Bears; Derwin James, Los Angeles Chargers

Defensive Back: Desmond King, Los Angeles Chargers

SPECIAL TEAMS

Placekicker: Justin Tucker, Baltimore Ravens

Punter: Michael Dickson, Seattle Seahawks

Kick Returner: Andre Roberts, New York Jets

Punt Returner: Tarik Cohen, Chicago Bears

Special Teamer: Adrian Phillips, Los Angeles Chargers

SECOND TEAM

OFFENSE

Quarterback: Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

Running Back: Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys

Flex: Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers

Tight End: George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers

Wide Receivers: Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons; Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs

Left Tackle: Duane Brown, Seattle Seahawks, and Terron Armstead, New Orleans Saints

Right Tackle: Ryan Ramczyk, New Orleans Saints

Left Guard: Joel Bitonio, Cleveland Browns

Right Guard: Marshal Yanda, Baltimore Ravens

Center: Maurkice Pouncey, Pittsburgh Steelers

DEFENSE

Edge Rushers: Von Miller, Denver Broncos; Cameron Jordan, New Orleans Saints; Myles Garrett, Cleveland Browns; Danielle Hunter, Minnesota Vikings

Interior Linemen: Chris Jones, Kansas City Chiefs; J.J. Watt, Houston Texans

Linebackers: Von Miller, Denver Broncos; C.J. Mosley, Baltimore Ravens; Leighton Vander Esch, Dallas Cowboys

Cornerbacks: Byron Jones, Dallas Cowboys; Xavien Howard, Miami Dolphins

Safeties: Jamal Adams, New York Jets; Harrison Smith, Minnesota Vikings

Defensive Back: Derwin James, Los Angeles Chargers

SPECIAL TEAMS

Placekicker: Aldrick Rosas, New York Giants

Punter: Johnny Hekker, Los Angeles Rams

Kick Returner: Cordarrelle Patterson, New England Patriots

Punt Returner: Desmond King, Los Angeles Chargers

Special Teamer: Cory Littlejohn, Los Angeles Rams

Steelers fire LB coach Porter

Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebackers coach Joey Porter was fired on Friday.

Head coach Mike Tomlin said Wednesday he was reassessing "anything and everything," a direct byproduct of missing the playoffs in 2018, including his coaching staff.

"I have informed outside linebackers coach Joey Porter that we will not renew his contract," Tomlin said Friday in a statement released by the Steelers. "These are difficult decisions when it comes to someone like Joey who has meant a lot to this organization as both a player and coach. I want to thank Joey for his coaching efforts over the past five years on our defensive staff. We wish him the best in his future coaching career."

Porter, 41, was a third-round pick of the franchise in 1999. He was a four-time All-Pro and played 13 seasons (1999-2011) with Pittsburgh, Miami and Arizona.

Tomlin hired Porter as a defensive assistant in 2014.

Take 5: Wild-card playoff keys

Three of the four games are regular-season rematches, and none looks particularly one-sided. You could make an argument for almost any of the eight teams to make a Super Bowl run.

We'll start by looking at both sides of the ball in a rematch from just two weeks ago.

1. Rivers gets a redo vs. Ravens

Philip Rivers almost never loses a mental battle, but that's exactly what happened to the Los Angeles Chargers quarterback against Baltimore in Week 16.

The Ravens' fire-zone blitzes created confusion and pressure, forcing Rivers off the spot and into inaccurate throws. Rivers even failed to see open targets downfield, most notably just before halftime.

Rivers quietly threw six interceptions in his final three games after totaling six through the first 13, and he's looked skittish at times, struggling to see the field with clarity.

Interior pressure has been the biggest culprit. Steady for much of the season, guards Dan Feeney and Michael Schofield have imploded in pass protection, especially struggling against quickness. Baltimore's Za'Darius Smith hounded both men in Week 16, and the Ravens' litany of blitzes, stunts and twists also stressed them mentally.

Those issues could be exacerbated in noisy Baltimore, so Rivers must be sharper at handling them. The Chargers' vertical routes take time to develop, requiring precise movement from Rivers to stay alive against pressure. If he can stay clean, there will be opportunities: The Ravens' zone blitzes can leave receivers free, especially up the seams.

A low-scoring game plays right into Baltimore's hands, allowing the Ravens to lean on the run game and take fewer risks. Rivers & Co. must rebound to get them out of their comfort zone.

2. Will Baltimore's offense change up?

The Ravens' offensive approach will remain run-heavy, but it's worth wondering how much Baltimore will change given the Chargers have faced quarterback Lamar Jackson before.

Despite the 22-10 win, Baltimore's offense struggled in L.A., scoring just 16 points (the Ravens' defense scored six) and getting 68 of 363 total yards from just one play. That play -- detailed in our Week 16 film study -- was excellent, but no offense can count on a long touchdown every week.

Preparing for Jackson and Greg Roman's complex run designs is difficult, but the Chargers allowed just 116 yards on 34 carries (3.4 average) after giving up 43 yards on the first snap. Los Angeles will be more prepared this time around, too.

Perhaps Baltimore will consider more early-down throws, giving Jackson several chances at explosive plays. L.A.'s Cover-3 tendencies would provide more predictable coverages.

If the defense dominates again, it won't matter, but it's hard to pin Rivers down forever. Baltimore must have alternatives if the bread and butter isn't working.

3. Can Chicago handle Philly's D-line?

The Eagles' defensive resurgence is all about their front four, as the group has regained its 2017 form.

Reigning NFC Defensive Player of the Week Fletcher Cox (10.5 sacks, 34 QB hits) remains dominant, and only Aaron Donald (41) hit QBs more this year. Michael Bennett has been a terror both inside and outside, and Chris Long continues to stave off Father Time.

The Bears' offensive line has been steady all season, even with Long's brother, Kyle, missing extended action. Matt Nagy's scheme helps by using concepts that slow the pass rush -- including screens, play-action, run-pass options and misdirection at the line of scrimmage -- and many reads are designed to get the ball out immediately.

Using quick throws, regular double-teams and occasional triple-teams, Chicago quieted Donald in Week 14, but it won't be that simple against Philadelphia. Devoting that much attention to Cox risks letting Bennett run wild. Likewise, Long and Brandon Graham will exploit single-blocking if given enough opportunities.

Game flow will be critical. The Bears' offense has scored a disproportionate number of points early in games on scripted plays before bogging down late. If the Eagles can weather the early storm, Mitchell Trubisky eventually will be forced into more obvious passing situations, giving Philly's D-line a chance to tee off.

4. Seahawks' front must bounce back vs. Zeke

In a battle of two very similar, run-based teams, the Cowboys' ground game carries the greatest burden.

That's because Dallas' passing game remains a week-to-week proposition. Despite big games, receiver Amari Cooper still disappears for stretches, and the Cowboys rarely scheme to get him involved. Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott remains inconsistent at hitting his downfield opportunities, an issue Seattle QB Russell Wilson hasn't had much this season.

Thus, the Cowboys' best avenue to success remains running back Ezekiel Elliott, who hounded the Seahawks for 7.9 yards per carry -- despite a long run of just 26 yards -- in Week 3 but had only three carries in the final 20 minutes as Dallas fought a deficit. After averaging 29 touches per game from Week 10 to Week 16, Elliott got the regular-season finale off to get fresh, as did Pro Bowl linemen Tyron Smith and Zack Martin.

Despite the Week 3 issues, Seattle's front can match Dallas' run game. The Seahawks' scheme helps, with an extra safety usually in the box and one heavy defensive end (291-pound Quinton Jefferson) alongside two defensive tackles. Jefferson has been steady, while the tackles have really impressed.

Jarran Reed garnered attention with 10.5 sacks, but he entered the NFL as a run-stuffer first and foremost, which shows in his discipline and ability to anchor. Shamar Stephen is rarely moved out of his gap easily, and Seattle also found a gem in Poona Ford. The undrafted rookie has more than earned his recent boost in snaps, showing tremendous effort and using his limited stature (5-foot-11, 310 pounds) as an advantage by playing low.

Ford didn't play in the teams' Week 3 meeting, but the former Longhorn could be critical in the rematch in Dallas.

5. Can Houston contain Hines?

Behind Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton and tight end Eric Ebron, fourth-round rookie back Nyheim Hines has become a quiet weapon in the passing game, especially late in the season (30 targets, 23 catches for 177 yards since Week 13).

With a rare combination of short-area quickness and long speed (he was a track star at North Carolina State), Hines has drawn comparisons to Darren Sproles. His inside running is far from Sproles' level, but he has shown early refinement as a receiver.

Hines is comfortable splitting out and running a broader route tree, and the Colts often deploy him on the weak side to create more room. His hands are reliable amid tight coverage and heavy hits, and he also is a vertical threat. In Week 4 against Houston, he beat Tyrann Mathieu on an out-and-up from the slot in the red zone, and in Week 16, he caught a 28-yard, back-shoulder fade. Both were extremely uncommon routes for a back, but Hines looked comfortable winning the ball in the air.

Hines had just three catches for 16 yards in Week 14 at Houston, but he hit career highs with nine grabs for 63 yards and two scores in the teams' first meeting.

The Colts will try to get Hines on Benardrick McKinney, a hulking 'backer with good speed but questionable lateral agility. Against Houston's preferred Cover-4, two-man-route combinations could isolate McKinney on Hines in de facto man coverage. Two years ago, the Patriots did exactly that with Dion Lewis and James White for two touchdowns in a divisional playoff win.

NFL notebook: Gonzalez, Bailey, Reed lead HOF finalists

First-year eligible candidates Tony Gonzalez, Champ Bailey and Ed Reed led the way among 15 modern-era finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame when the group was announced Thursday.

All three players, who combined for 35 Pro Bowls and 14 first-team All-Pro nods during their careers, last played in 2013, making this their first year of eligibility for induction. All three of last year's first-ballot finalists -- Ray Lewis, Randy Moss and Brian Urlacher -- were ultimately chosen when the 2018 class was announced in February.

Joining the trio as 2019 finalists are safety Steve Atwater, offensive tackle Tony Boselli, wide receiver Isaac Bruce, coach Don Coryell, guard Alan Faneca, coach Tom Flores, guard Steve Hutchinson, running back Edgerrin James, cornerback Ty Law, safety John Lynch, center Kevin Mawae and defensive lineman Richard Seymour.

Flores and Seymour are the other first-time finalists from the group. All but two others (Atwater and Hutchinson) have been finalists at least three times.

--State prosecutors in Florida dropped a misdemeanor domestic battery charge against Washington Redskins linebacker Reuben Foster, according to multiple reports citing court records.

The state attorney's office filed a notice of termination Wednesday, the day before Foster was to be arraigned on a single misdemeanor count of domestic battery stemming from an incident in Tampa on Nov. 24 when Foster was a member of the San Francisco 49ers.

Foster's former girlfriend, Elissa Ennis, said Foster "pushed her in the chest area, and slapped her with an open hand on the left side of her face" at a Tampa hotel on the eve of the 49ers' game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Foster was arrested after the incident. The NFL placed Foster on the commissioner's exempt list, and he did not play the rest of the season, though Washington claimed him after San Francisco waived him.

--New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels reportedly declined an interview request from the Cincinnati Bengals, who are conducting interviews for the vacant position of head coach this week.

Mike Garafolo of NFL Media reported McDaniels told the Bengals he didn't want to be considered as a candidate to replace Marvin Lewis.

McDaniels, 42, who was 11-17 as the head coach of the Denver Broncos from 2009-10, is set to interview with the Green Bay Packers on Friday.

--The Cleveland Browns are blocking requests from other teams to interview offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens for their own vacancies, according to multiple reports.

Per NFL Network, Kitchens has a fair shot at being the Browns' next head coach -- a job he'll interview for early next week -- and if he doesn't get the job, Cleveland wants to give its next coach a chance to keep Kitchens as coordinator.

--The Atlanta Falcons' search for a new defensive coordinator ended before it began, as coach Dan Quinn has decided to handle those duties himself in 2019.

The Falcons fired Marquand Manuel on Monday after a 7-9 season in which the team finished 25th in the league in scoring defense and 28th in total defense.

--Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff says hammering out a new deal for defensive tackle Grady Jarrett is "our priority" this offseason.

In the fourth and final season of his rookie contract, Jarrett led Atlanta with eight tackles for loss and 16 quarterback hits in 14 games in 2018. He had 52 tackles and was second on the team with six sacks.

--Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins pledged on Twitter to donate his playoff paycheck to the family of Jazmine Barnes.

The 7-year-old girl was shot and killed when someone fired at her mother's car Sunday morning as they were driving to a Houston grocery store. No arrests have been made.

--The NFL announced that it has reached a deal with Caesars Entertainment to be its first-ever official casino sponsor, a move that inches the league toward betting deals.

The union, worth $30 million per year according to Bloomberg, is a multi-year sponsorship and coincides with the NFL playoffs, which begin this weekend. The NFL made it clear the partnership does not include sports betting at this time.

--Seattle Seahawks cornerback Shaquill Griffin (sprained ankle) is expected to play in this weekend's NFC wild-card game against the Dallas Cowboys.

Left guard J.R. Sweezy (foot) is questionable, and fullback Tre Madden (hamstring) is doubtful.

--The Buffalo Bills have fired special-teams coordinator Danny Crossman, according to multiple reports.

Crossman, 51, has held the position since 2013.

--The San Francisco 49ers are interested in former Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson for a front-office role, according to a report from CBS Sports.

--Carolina Panthers quarter Taylor Heinicke underwent surgery to repair a partially torn triceps, according to a report from The Athletic.

Heinicke appeared to injure his left elbow while making his first NFL start against Atlanta in Week 16. It had been previously reported that the injury was a hyperextended left elbow and wouldn't require surgery.

Gonzalez, Bailey, Reed lead HOF finalists

First-year eligible candidates Tony Gonzalez, Champ Bailey and Ed Reed led the way among 15 modern-era finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame when the group was announced Thursday.

All three players, who combined for 35 Pro Bowls and 14 first-team All-Pro nods during their careers, last played in 2013, making this their first year of eligibility for induction. All three of last year's first-ballot finalists -- Ray Lewis, Randy Moss and Brian Urlacher -- were ultimately chosen when the 2018 class was announced in February.

Joining the trio as 2019 finalists are safety Steve Atwater, offensive tackle Tony Boselli, wide receiver Isaac Bruce, coach Don Coryell, guard Alan Faneca, coach Tom Flores, guard Steve Hutchinson, running back Edgerrin James, cornerback Ty Law, safety John Lynch, center Kevin Mawae and defensive lineman Richard Seymour.

Flores and Seymour are the other first-time finalists from the group. All but two others (Atwater and Hutchinson) have been finalists at least three times.

Boselli, Bruce, Faneca, Hutchinson, James, Law, Lynch and Mawae were finalists in 2018. Boselli, Bruce and Mawae have been finalists in three consecutive years, while Faneca has been among the group of 15 in four straight years and Lynch in six straight.

Five of the 15 modern-era finalists will be chosen for induction when the selection committee meets on "Selection Saturday" in Atlanta, the day before Super Bowl LIII. The committee will also vote on the senior finalist (safety Johnny Robinson) and contributor finalists (owner Pat Bowlen, personnel executive Gil Brandt), who need to be approved by 80 percent to be inducted.

Of the 18 collective finalists, five are former Denver Broncos -- Bowlen and four defensive backs in Bailey, Lynch, Atwater and Law (who spent just one season in Denver).

There are also five former New York Jets in the group, though only Mawae (eight) spent more than two seasons with the club. Four (Flores, Hutchinson, Mawae and James) are former Seattle Seahawks, and three (Gonzalez, Robinson, Law) are former Kansas City Chiefs.

The New England Patriots are also well represented with Law and Seymour, who were each part of the team's three Super Bowl champions in 2001, 2003 and 2004. While Tom Brady and Bill Belichick will be shoo-ins someday, no members of those championship teams have been inducted in the Hall.

Falcons: New deal for DT Jarrett 'our priority'

Atlanta Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff says hammering out a new deal for defensive tackle Grady Jarrett is "our priority" this offseason.

In the fourth and final season of his rookie contract, Jarrett led Atlanta with eight tackles for loss and 16 quarterback hits in 14 games in 2018. He had 52 tackles and was second on the team with six sacks.

"We would like to have Grady back for many years to come," Dimitroff said Thursday. "Not only on the field but what he does off the field for us, he's very important. That has been our focus.

"We put [negotiations] aside for a little bit through the season, of course, so he could focus on what he needed to focus on. Now, we're back focusing on that as really our priority to see how this proceeds, and I'm confident with it."

The Falcons expressed a similar sentiment before the season, but were unable to reach a deal. Dimitroff said he hopes to sign Jarrett before free agency begins in March.

A 2015 fifth-round pick from Clemson, Jarrett will be 26 at the start of next season. In 61 games (46 starts) for Atlanta, Jarrett has 14 sacks, 31 tackles for loss and 40 quarterback hits, including 10 sacks, 23 tackles for loss and 29 QB hits over the last two years.

Reports: Browns block interview requests for Kitchens

The Cleveland Browns are blocking requests from other teams to interview offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens for their own vacancies, according to multiple reports Thursday.

Per NFL Network, Kitchens has a fair shot at being the Browns' next head coach -- a job he'll interview for early next week -- and if he doesn't get the job, Cleveland wants to give its next coach a chance to keep Kitchens as coordinator. To this point, the Browns have either denied requests or asked teams to wait for the situation to sort out, per the report.

Kitchens, 44, remains under contract in Cleveland. He is coming off his first experience as an NFL coordinator, helping Baker Mayfield and the Browns' offense thrive in eight games after being promoted from quarterbacks coach following the firings of Hue Jackson and Todd Haley.

It's common practice for teams to deny interview requests for lateral positions. To this point, there is no indication any team has requested an interview with Kitchens for a head-coach opening, which would be more likely to be approved.

General manager John Dorsey told reporters at his season-ending press conference that interim head coach Gregg Williams and Kitchens would both be candidates for the Browns' full-time head-coaching job. Williams interviewed for the position on Tuesday.

Dorsey also said the new head coach (if not Kitchens) will have the opportunity to choose his own offensive coordinator if he wishes.

"Ultimately, whoever that head coach will be in the future, I think he has to have the ability to hire his staff," Dorsey said. "Will we make suggestions? Yeah, that's what all people do. At the end of the day, whoever that head coach is, it is going to be his decision."

Falcons' Quinn to call defensive plays in 2019

The Atlanta Falcons' search for a new defensive coordinator ended before it began, as coach Dan Quinn has decided to handle those duties himself in 2019.

The Falcons fired Marquand Manuel on Monday after a 7-9 season in which the team finished 25th in the league in scoring defense and 28th in total defense.

Quinn confirmed Thursday that he will call the defensive plays himself next season, much like he did in the final quarter of the 2016 campaign when the Falcons went on a Super Bowl run.

"More than anything I just really wanted to make sure that the style and attitude that we want to play defensively," Quinn said. "I really enjoy that part of it and want to be more involved in that way."

Quinn, 48, has a 36-28 record after four seasons in charge in Atlanta. Before that, he was the defensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks (2013-14) and at the University of Florida (2011-12).

Hopkins pledges playoff check to grieving family

Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins pledged Thursday to donate his playoff paycheck to the family of Jazmine Barnes.

The 7-year-old girl was shot and killed when someone fired at her mother's car Sunday morning as they were driving to a Houston grocery store. No arrests have been made.

Hopkins, who is in his sixth season with Houston, announced on Twitter that he was donating the money to help the family pay for funeral costs and to support law enforcement's efforts to find a suspect.

"On Saturday, I will be playing in your honor, Jazmine," tweeted Hopkins, whose Texans host the Indianapolis Colts in an AFC wild-card playoff game Saturday at NRG Stadium.

In a seemingly random attack, police say a man drove up next to the family's vehicle and opened fire, killing Jazmine and injuring her mother and sisters.

There is a $100,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

A community rally has been scheduled for Saturday, and Jazmine's funeral will be held Tuesday at Houston's Green House International Church.

Report: Pats' McDaniels declines interview with Bengals

New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels reportedly declined an interview request from the Cincinnati Bengals, who are conducting interviews for the vacant position of head coach this week.

Mike Garafolo of NFL Media reported Thursday that McDaniels told the Bengals he didn't want to be considered as a candidate to replace Marvin Lewis.

McDaniels, 42, who was 11-17 as the head coach of the Denver Broncos from 2009-10, is set to interview with the Green Bay Packers on Friday.

The Bengals have interviews scheduled with Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, former Broncos head coach Vance Joseph, and Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor. Other potential candidates include current assistants Hue Jackson, Bill Lazor and Darrin Simmons.

ESPN reported Thursday that the Bengals also requested permission to interview Buccaneers offensive coordinator Todd Monken, though no date for an interview has been set.

Monken, 52, took over play-calling duties from Dirk Koetter this year and helped the Bucs finish third in total offense, though turnovers kept them out of the top 10 (12th) in scoring.

Monken has just seven years of NFL coaching experience -- including a four-year stint as the Jacksonville Jaguars' wide receivers coach -- but he was the head coach at Southern Miss from 2013-15, going 9-5 in his final season.

Domestic violence charge against Reuben Foster dropped

State prosecutors in Florida on Thursday dropped a misdemeanor domestic battery charge against Washington Redskins linebacker Reuben Foster, multiple outlets are reporting, citing court records.

The state attorney's office filed a notice of termination Wednesday, the day before Foster was to be arraigned on a single misdemeanor count of domestic battery stemming from an incident in Tampa on Nov. 24 when Foster was a member of the San Francisco 49ers.

Foster's former girlfriend, Elissa Ennis, said Foster "pushed her in the chest area, and slapped her with an open hand on the left side of her face" at a Tampa hotel on the eve of the 49ers' game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Foster was arrested after the incident.

The 49ers released Foster the day after the incident and the Redskins claimed him two days later. The NFL placed Foster on the commissioner's exempt list and he did not play the rest of the season.

Ennis went on ABC's "Good Morning America" program in early December to detail the alleged abuse against her.

Ennis had previously accused Foster of violence against her in February 2018 but she recanted and those charges were dropped, too. The NFL still suspended Foster for the first two games of the 2018 season for violating league policies regarding personal conduct. The league continues to investigate this incident and may levy more discipline against Foster.

It's unclear why prosecutors dropped the charge against Foster this time.

NFL makes Caesars official casino sponsor

The NFL on Thursday announced that it had reached a deal with Caesars Entertainment to be its first-ever official casino sponsor, a move that inches the league toward betting deals.

The union, worth $30 million per year according to Bloomberg, is a multi-year sponsorship and coincides with the NFL playoffs, which begin this weekend. The NFL made it clear the partnership does not include sports betting at this time.

Caesars will have exclusive rights to NFL trademarks both in the U.S. and U.K., and the casino will be an active participant at the Super Bowl and NFL Draft, the league said. Caesars will host elements of the 2020 draft in Las Vegas, the league said.

"Combining the NFL with Caesars' expertise in world class entertainment will provide our fans unique experiences both here in the United States and abroad," NFL Senior Vice President Renie Anderson said in a statement.

Seven NFL clubs - Falcons, Ravens, Bears, Colts, Saints, Raiders, and Eagles - already had partnerships with Caesars, also a partner on the new Raiders stadium being built in Vegas. Other NFL teams have inked official advertising deals with myriad other casinos, too.

Texans focus on pressuring Colts' Luck

Taking into consideration all the Houston Texans accomplished while becoming just the second NFL team to win its division following an 0-3 start, their seemingly tenuous status as favorites on Saturday in the first wild-card game of the postseason offers a reflection of their opponent.

The Indianapolis Colts (10-6), who will face the Texans (11-5) at NRG Stadium, are a familiar foe whose strengths have overcome their weaknesses.

Indianapolis' Andrew Luck fully reclaimed his standing as one of the preeminent quarterback in the NFL by finishing fifth in passing yards (4,593) and second in passing touchdowns (39) while making 16 starts for the first time since the 2014 campaign, the last season in which he guided Indianapolis to the playoffs.

Luck sat out the entire 2017 season due to a shoulder injury.

Protected by an offensive line that allowed the fewest sacks (18) in the NFL, Luck performed brilliantly as the Colts recovered from a 1-5 start to win nine of their last 10 games. In that stretch, he completed 69.5 percent of his attempts while tossing 23 touchdowns against seven interceptions and passing for 2,801 yards.

In two matchups against the AFC South champion Texans this season, Luck passed for 863 yards and six touchdowns with one interception. He was sacked six times as the teams split the meetings.

"I mean, (Luck) does a good job," said Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, who recorded 16 sacks this season. "Obviously, (their) offensive line does a good job. I think as the years went on, especially, they've done a great job getting the ball out of his hands quick. He makes quick reads, he's a smart guy, he knows where he's going with the ball, tries not to put himself in too much danger. He does a great job, and like I said, those guys up front for him do a good job."

The Texans must generate enough pressure on Luck as to prevent him from having an opportunity to pick apart their 28th-ranked pass defense. That Luck benefitted from the lowest sack rate (2.74 percent) of any quarterback in the league makes that particular task especially difficult.

"You have to mix it up. You don't want to get in one mode," Colts coach Frank Reich said of protecting Luck. "Great players like (Watt and Texans linebacker Jadeveon Clowney) you have to attack in multiple ways. You've got to be able to run the football, you don't want to get in just a pass mode. You've got to be able to chip some, you've got to be able to use play-action. You've got to be able to change some things up formationally to present different looks."

The Texans sit on the opposite end of the spectrum after surrendering an NFL-high 62 sacks of quarterback Deshaun Watson. Additionally, Houston struggled running the ball down the stretch, losing twice during a three-game span in which it totaled 198 yards on 61 rush attempts. Watson accounted for 110 of those yards while the running backs averaged 2.0 yards per carry.

Indianapolis sacked Watson 12 times during the two regular-season meetings. The Texans understand that providing Watson a clean pocket via pass protection plus an effective ground game is the best course of action for securing a win and an appearance in the divisional playoff round.

"Just everyone get on the same page," Watson said of the Texans lowering the sack total. "Get the ball out a little quicker, make quicker decisions, throw the ball away and try to protect myself as much as I can."

Stakes higher in Chargers-Ravens rematch

The visiting San Diego Chargers will get another shot at quarterback Lamar Jackson and the surprising Baltimore Ravens when the teams play an AFC wild card game on Sunday.

The Ravens, in the midst of winning six of their final seven games behind Jackson to capture the AFC North, defeated the Chargers 22-10 in Los Angeles in Week 16.

"There's just less change between the two games," Ravens coach Jim Harbaugh told reporters regarding the quick turnaround. "It's kind of like a doubleheader almost. You know them pretty well and you try to change up as much as you can, but you're pretty familiar with each other, that's for sure."

The Ravens (10-6) captured their first division title since 2012 and are in the playoffs for the first time since 2014.

If not for that Week 16 loss, the Chargers (12-4) would have finished with six straight wins and the AFC West crown, earning them a bye week and a home game. Instead they get a cross-country trip and 1:05 p.m. ET start, or 10:05 a.m. in Los Angeles.

Jackson, who will turn 22 the day after Sunday's game, will be the youngest quarterback to start a playoff game in NFL history.

"It really doesn't (matter to me)," Jackson said. "I'm here to play football. I was 21 all year, so this is another game for me."

The youngest quarterback to win a playoff game was Michael Vick (22 years, 192 days) when the Falcons defeated Green Bay 27-7 in 2003.

On the season, Jackson completed 99 of 170 passes for 1,201 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions. He rushed for 695 yards and scored five touchdowns.

"We know that you have to protect the perimeter with this guy, on the edge, one-on-one -- he can win," Chargers coach Anthony Lynn told reporters. "He's like a running back with the ball in his hands. He also can throw it. I watched him throw for a lot of yards in college. He's a dual-threat right now."

Jackson threw for 204 yards and a touchdown and ran 13 times for 39 yards, his lowest rushing total as a starter, in Week 16. That day running back Gus Edwards ran for 92 yards. The following week running back Kenneth Dixon gained 117 against Cleveland.

San Diego's Philip Rivers, 37, passed for 4,308 yards and threw 32 touchdown passes to 12 interceptions this season as he tied the highest quarterback rating (105.5) of his career.

His worst game came against the Ravens. He completed 23 of 37 passes and was intercepted twice while failing to throw a touchdown pass for the only time all season while being sacked four times.

"We've got to be better on third down and keep ourselves out of those third and nine-pluses," Rivers told reporters. "We had a bunch of those. Again, we've got to handle all their pressure. They brought the fight to us. We've got to do a better job of handling that. I've got to do a better job of throwing completions."

The Ravens defense was 11th in the league with 43 sacks and Rivers was sacked 32 times, 15th-most in the NFL.

Rivers has faced the Ravens eight times, producing a 98.4 rating against them with 14 touchdowns and six interceptions.

Running back Melvin Gordon figures to have more touches than the 15 he had in the first meeting. Gordon rushed for 885 yards and caught 50 passes for 490 yards. He scored 14 touchdowns despite missing four games. Gordon tweaked an ankle in the regular-season against Denver but is set to go against Baltimore.

Running back Austin Ekeler, who missed the first meeting with a neck injury, also could be a factor, but he was limited in practice with a groin injury. Ekeler is questionable for the contest.

Baltimore's defense ranked first in the NFL, allowing 292.9 yards per game. The Ravens were second in points (17.9) and third in third-down conversion percentage (34 percent).

The Chargers were ninth in yards (333.7), eighth in points (20.6), but 18th on third down (39 percent).

Pro Bowl safety Derwin James posted the first 100-tackle season by a rookie in Chargers history.

"They play fast, they run to the ball, play hard, gang tackling, all the things that you respect." Harbaugh said.

Ravens cornerback Tavon Young (groin), guard/tackle Alex Lewis (shoulder) and receiver Chris Moore (shoulder, hip) were all listed as questionable.

Colts C Kelly aims to return versus Texans

Indianapolis Colts center Ryan Kelly was a full practice participant on Wednesday and said he expects to play in Saturday's AFC wild-card game against the Houston Texans.

Kelly injured his neck in Week 16 against the New York Giants and missed the regular-season finale against the Tennessee Titans.

Kelly said the injury affected his arm strength so there was no way he could try to give it a go against the Titans.

"It was a big week last week, and I felt after the (Tennessee) game and going through some walkthrough stuff (Tuesday), I felt like the strength was back," Kelly said. "Doing some things to hopefully help my neck stay in the same spot and not move around too much. Other than that, I feel well."

Kelly, a Pro Bowl alternate, is a key cog in a Colts' offensive line that allowed just 18 regular-season sacks to tie the New Orleans Saints for the league low.

Receiver T.Y. Hilton (ankle) didn't practice Wednesday but also is expected to be available against the Texans.

Strong safety Clayton Geathers (knee) returned to practice after missing the past two games. He was a full participant.

Seahawks counting on run game against Cowboys

When the Seattle Seahawks were preparing to play in their home opener against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 3, they were on their way to meeting the expectations of most preseason prognosticators.

The Seahawks had dropped their first two games on the road at Denver and Chicago, with quarterback Russell Wilson sacked 12 times in the process.

Those picks of a 4-12 or 5-11 season for the Seahawks seemed increasingly likely.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer met and decided change was in order.

"He and I sat down and kind of had a little heart-to-heart," Schottenheimer said. "There were things that he and I just wanted to make sure we were on the same page about. It wasn't just the running game, it was he and I continuing to build our relationship and it was an awesome meeting. It probably lasted about an hour and we talked about a ton of different stuff. I know I came out of that meeting feeling really good just about the direction where we wanted to go."

With a renewed commitment to the running game, the Seahawks defeated the Cowboys 24-13 at CenturyLink Field, sparking them as they became just the 29th team since the current NFL playoff format started in 1990 to make the playoffs after an 0-2 start.

The fifth-seeded Seahawks (10-6) earned the NFC's top wild-card berth and will travel to Dallas to play the fourth-seeded Cowboys (10-6), the NFC East champion, on Saturday night.

Seattle ended up with league's top ground game on the season. Chris Carson rushed for 102 yards in Week 3 and went on to become the first Seahawks player with a 1,000-yard rushing season since Marshawn Lynch in 2014.

"They were talking about it the whole (preseason) of running the ball more and being a run team," Carson said. "They finally started getting it going against the Cowboys and it's taken off ever since."

The Cowboys alternated losses and wins until a 27-20 victory at the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles in Week 9 sparked a last-season run. The Cowboys won six of their final seven regular-season games after that.

That meant that unlike in 2016, when rookie quarterback Dak Prescott barely played in a three-week span before losing his postseason debut, he kept firing until the end.

Even though the Cowboys already had locked up the division title, Prescott played the entire game last week in a 36-35 victory against the New York Giants. He completed 27 of 44 passes for 387 yards and a career-high four touchdowns to lead a comeback.

"We can definitely build on this," Prescott said. "That was not meaningless to me. It wasn't meaningless to any of the guys that played or even to the guys that didn't play."

The Seahawks expect to have guard D.J. Fluker (hamstring) and safety Tedric Thompson (ankle) back after they missed the regular-season finale. Guard J.R. Sweezy (foot) and cornerback Shaquill Griffin (ankle) likely will be game-time decisions. Safety Delano Hill, who started for Thompson the past two weeks, was placed on injured reserve with a non-displaced fracture in his hip.

Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott sat out the regular-season finale for precautionary measures, but he has been a full participant in practice this week. Pro Bowl linemen Tyron Smith (neck) and Zack Martin (knee) also missed the finale but are expected back, as well as defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford (neck). Defensive end David Irving (ankle) remains out.

Raiders dismiss director of player personnel

The Oakland Raiders have fired Joey Clinkscales, their director of player personnel, according to multiple reports on Wednesday.

Clinkscales was the top aide to former general manager Reggie McKenzie, who fired Dec. 10. The two grew up together in Tennessee and were teammates in high school and college.

His dismissal continues to usher out the McKenzie era and bring in the remake of the Raiders. Head coach Jon Gruden had a vision that didn't agree with McKenzie's, and the Raiders on Monday introduced the Gruden-approved Mike Mayock as their new general manager.

Mayock made it clear that he has a number of people in mind to serve as his top aide.

"I have 15 years' worth of names," Mayock said at his introductory news conference. "I think anybody on the coaching side or the personnel side that ever wanted to be in this industry always has kind of a ready list. I have that."

Gruden said Monday that the scouting staff likely is to remain intact for now, but that Mayock could choose to make changes as he becomes more familiar with the organization and its personnel.

"This is a tough time right now, obviously, for our scouts," Gruden said. "I want to assure you that (director of college scouting) Shaun Herock is excellent at what he's done. I have a lot of confidence in his history here and the scouts that we do have. Mike is going to evaluate them. We're going to give them every opportunity to continue to be a part of this. I don't foresee any changes, but I do think Mike is going to talk to a lot of people. If he finds somebody out there that can come in and have the same vision that we have, we're going to jump on the table to get that guy in here."

Old friends turn foe as Eagles visit Bears

Doug Pederson and Matt Nagy developed a strong friendship as assistants on Andy Reid's coaching staff in Kansas City.

Since then, both men have moved into prominent head-coaching roles. Their friendship will be put on hold for a few hours when Pederson's defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles (9-7) visit Nagy's Chicago Bears (12-4) on Sunday afternoon in the NFC divisional playoffs.

Few know Pederson's offensive system as well as Nagy does -- and few know Nagy's system as well as Pederson does.

"You can draw parallels from Coach Reid," Pederson said this week in comments published by The Morning Call of Allentown, Pa. "We both kind of learned under him. I know Matt is very -- he definitely is an aggressive coach, he has an aggressive mindset, he's very creative. That's what you're seeing on tape and in games. So I think there are some similarities there."

The coaches' familiarity could make for a high-stakes, tight-knit contest on the Chicago lakefront.

The Bears enter the postseason having won four games in a row and nine of their past 10. They finished the regular season with the league's third-ranked defense (299.7 yards allowed per game), which took pressure off of their 21st-ranked offense (343.9 yards per game).

Meanwhile, the Eagles secured a wild-card playoff berth on the final day of the regular season thanks to a win over the Washington Redskins, coupled with a loss by the Minnesota Vikings against the Bears. Philadelphia finished in the middle of the pack on both sides of the ball, posting the No. 14 total offense (365.3 yards per game) and the No. 23 total defense (366.2 yards allowed per game).

But the Eagles have plenty of experience in the spotlight after last season's title run. This will be the Bears' first playoff game since 2010.

It will be the biggest test yet for Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who threw for 3,223 yards, 24 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in his second season. Jordan Howard led the team on the ground with 935 yards and nine touchdowns, while Allen Robinson led all receivers with 735 yards on 55 catches, including four for touchdowns.

For the second year in a row, the Eagles enter the playoffs with Nick Foles under center in place of injured teammate Carson Wentz (back). Foles passed for 1,413 yards, seven touchdowns and four interceptions in five starts on the season. He left the regular-season finale after sustaining a shot to his ribs, but he has vowed to play this weekend despite "a little bit of soreness."

The Eagles' top pass catcher is Zach Ertz, who set a single-season record for tight ends with 116 receptions for 1,163 yards and eight scores. Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery will return to face his former team after grabbing 65 passes for 843 yards and six touchdowns.

Bears players say they welcome the pressure of the postseason and feel confident with Nagy leading the way.

"Since he got here, our culture has just been shifted into a winning culture," Bears offensive tackle Charles Leno Jr. told the Chicago Sun-Times. "There's no more accepting the fact that we're going to go out there and lose. We go out there expecting to win every game."

Likewise, Pederson wants playoff success to be the "new norm" in Philadelphia.

"That's why we train in the offseason and training camp and put all that time in, for moments now like this," Pederson said. "This is what you play for. You get a chance to be in this tournament and again compete and play for another world championship, if possible."

Giants GM Gettleman not committed to Manning in '19

The New York Giants stuck with quarterback Eli Manning through the 2018 season, but will he still be the starter next season?

General manager Dave Gettleman declined to offer any such assurance on Wednesday, two days after having what he termed an "extensive, no-holds barred" conversation with Manning.

"I'm committed to making the best decision in the interest of the Giants," Gettleman told reporters. "We're in the evaluation process. ... Everything is on the table for us."

Gettleman said Manning, who turns 38 on Thursday, sought out the discussion after the Giants finished season 5-11.

"We're trying to build sustained success. That takes brutal honesty and some tough decisions," said Gettleman. "... It wasn't like he was called to the principal's office. He came to see me."

Manning has started 230 of 232 games he's appeared in since joining the league in 2004. He has one year left on his contract, with a base salary of $11.5 million.

Manning finished the season with 4,299 yards, 21 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and completed a career-best 66 percent of his passes.

Third-year pro Alex Tanney and rookie Kyle Lauletta are the only other quarterbacks on the roster, though Tanney's deal was for only one season.

Lauletta made five pass attempts this season, but completed none.

The Giants will hold the No. 6 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

After the Giants were officially eliminated from playoff contention in Week 15, coach Pat Shurmur said the team isn't in a hurry to move on from Manning, whom he still believes has "years" left as an NFL starter.

Asked if he wants Manning back on the roster in 2019, Shurmur replied, "Yeah. I want all our players to be back. I believe experience matters."

Tomlin, Steelers nearing point of no return with WR Brown

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin acknowledged Wednesday that a time could be near when All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown is more of a distraction than he's worth in Pittsburgh.

After walking out of Wednesday's practice ahead of the 2018 regular-season finale, Brown was inactive -- with knee discomfort -- against the Bengals on Sunday. Tomlin did not deny that the perception could be reality, that Brown "quit" on the Steelers when the team needed a win (and Ravens loss) to continue their season.

NFL Network reported teammates doubted Brown's knee injury claims. Tomlin, who admitted there was no MRI or X-ray on the knee, said he had no reason to doubt the wide receiver was hurt.

But the discord has since escalated.

"We're talking about our darkest hour," Tomlin said. "The guy not communicating is a very real element of discussion."

Tomlin did not deny that there comes a point when a player could be more of a distraction than he's worth. With three years left on his contract, Brown is owed $22 million for 2019. Trading him would bring a salary cap hit of more than $21 million.

Tomlin said Brown was supposed to report to the team facility Monday and did not show up. He denied Brown requested a trade, as CBS Sports reported Tuesday.

"I talked to him prior to the game on Sunday," Tomlin said. "I have not talked to him since then. ... I'm not going to frame any expectation or conversation. I'm having conversations with a lot of people in terms of assessing what transpired. I will certainly talk to him."

Tomlin said he plans to consult players for perspective on how to handle the ongoing drama with Brown. He said he would welcome good ideas from any corner of the organization.

When asked if Brown and Ben Roethlisberger had a confrontation during Wednesday's practice, Tomlin didn't hesitate.

"No," Tomlin said. "...There's disappointment. There's no denying that."

Tomlin said he "starts with the thumb" when he takes a step back to review the results of the season and any player concerns.

"Distractions and things of that nature are part of the job, particularly in today's NFL. I don't run away from it. In fact, I embrace it," Tomlin said. "I don't talk about it in the context of the season. Not that I like it, not that it's enjoyable. It's not. I'm not running. I'm certainly not seeking comfort in those things. When you're good, you find ways to minimize them, overlook them."

Tomlin said the Steelers are assessing and reviewing what happened in 2018, including Le'Veon Bell opting to sit for the entire season and Brown causing drama in the locker room.

"We're going to pause before we start talking about development of 2019, and that includes any and all free agents for '19," Tomlin said. "Don't want to speculate a lot. If you're legitimately open to doing what's necessary to not be here (out of the playoffs) next year, then we don't rule out anything."

Bengals to interview Jackson, Joseph

Endorsed by outgoing coach Marvin Lewis, fired Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson will interview with the Cincinnati Bengals to become head coach.

Another former Cincinnati assistant, Vance Joseph, is a candidate for the open head coach gig.

NFL Network reported Joseph heard from the Bengals, with whom he worked as a defensive assistant under Lewis, almost immediately after he was fired on Monday by the Denver Broncos. Joseph will be one of the first candidates to speak with the team brass, which is looking for a new coach for the first time in more than 13 years after Lewis was let go on Monday.

Jackson was endorsed publicly by Lewis in his press conference this week.

"I think he's more than qualified," Lewis said of Jackson, who was head coach of the Oakland Raiders before his chance with the Browns. "I think he deserves an opportunity, if not here, somewhere else."

Joseph spent two seasons as head coach of the Broncos, which was his first head-coaching position.

He is scheduled to spend Wednesday night and Thursday with Bengals owner Mike Brown. Joseph knows Brown from his time in Cincinnati (2014-15).

Another in-house candidate, offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, was already interviewed, per ESPN.

The Bengals are also set for a formal interview with Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy and Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, per reports.

Underdogs again, Eagles surface familiar script

Underdogs once more, the Philadelphia Eagles enter the playoffs hoping to follow the script that made them Super Bowl champions for the first time in franchise history 11 months ago.

"You hope so," Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said. "This is a different season now. You're in the postseason. Expectations increase. Speed of the game, gets faster. We benefit from last year, being in the postseason. Even our new additions have been in the postseason. Everyone is coming in with a clean slate. The momentum thing -- you try to keep it going. That's why you don't change a whole lot."

Pederson is again riding with backup Nick Foles, who set the team record for completion percentage -- 72.3 percent -- and carried the Eagles to three consecutive wins to force the playoff door open. He completed 25 consecutive passes against the Washington Redskins last week before leaving with bruised ribs. The injury will not be a factor this week, Pederson said.

Foles, who started the first two games of the regular season while starter Carson Wentz was recovering from knee surgery, also played the entire postseason last year. Pederson said it's now very clear which calls on the play sheet he likes, especially after his current three-game run.

"He understands the game plan, gets in that room and studies. In my case as a play-caller, I can dial up the same play again in a game somewhere, and then it's familiar for all the guys. It comes from his understanding of the offense, knowing where everyone is going to be. He gets the ball out fast," Pederson said. "Understanding down and distance, situations in the game. And also he's been very accurate with his throws."

The Eagles (9-7) visit the NFC North champion Chicago Bears (12-4) on Sunday in the NFC wild-card matchup at Soldier Field.

Pederson, a former co-worker of Bears coach Matt Nagy, became a sounding board for the first-time head coach this season. Pederson said the coaches talked weekly about football -- game plans, practice plans, play formations -- and family.

"I'll be excited to see him on the other side Sunday," Pederson said.

Report: Bucs consider Notre Dame's Kelly as coach

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could try to lure Notre Dame's Brian Kelly to be their next coach, according to a report from Chicago's 670 The Score.

Former Bucs coach Dirk Koetter was fired after Sunday's season-ending loss to the Atlanta Falcons.

According to the report, a search firm enlisted to help the Bucs find a new coach suggested Kelly as a potential hire.

Kelly has reportedly been apprised of Tampa Bay's interest, but has not indicated whether he is interested.

Kelly, who has gone 81-35 since replacing Charlie Weis at Notre Dame in 2010, is coming off a season-ending blowout loss to Clemson in the College Football Playoff semifinals. The Fighting Irish went 12-0 during the regular season.

After Kelly took Notre Dame to the national championship game in his third season, he interviewed to be head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. Shortly thereafter, he said he was committed to Notre Dame.

"For me to say I'll never coach in the NFL -- I have no idea. I'm not trying to be evasive. It's the truth of the matter. It's all about timing," Kelly said in 2013.

Koetter went 19-29 in three seasons as coach of the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay finished 5-11 this season after Sunday's 34-32 loss.

Koetter went 9-7 in 2016 in his first season at the helm. But back-to-back 5-11 seasons doomed him.

Former Packers coach McCarthy to meet with Browns, others

Mike McCarthy appears to be a popular candidate in the latest NFL coaching cycle, with interviews on the docket for three or more teams.

McCarthy will interview with the Cleveland Browns on Thursday before finalizing additional sitdowns, though the New York Jets and Arizona Cardinals are among those known to have interest in the displaced Packers coach.

McCarthy was fired Dec. 3, ending 13 seasons in Green Bay, where he worked with Browns general manager John Dorsey and other prominent members of the scouting staff -- assistant general manager Eliot Wolf and vice president of player personnel Alonzo Highsmith.

McCarthy, 55, is 125-75-2, and has 10 playoff wins, including a Super Bowl victory after the 2010 season.

The Jets fired Todd Bowles after three seasons with the team on Monday, the same day the Cardinals parted with Steve Wilks at the end of a 3-13 campaign, his only season in Arizona.

 

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