Patrick Willis has a fracture in his hand (USA Today Sports Images)
News in the NFL on Thursday was dominated by reaction and fallout from Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper's use of a racial slur. Oh, and Aaron Hernandez is a prison pen pal. The good news is that we're two sleeps away from the Hall of Fame induction ceremony, three sleeps away from the Hall of Fame between the Miami Dolphins and Dallas Cowboys, and in one week, 12 NFL teams will open their 2013 preseason schedule.
• San Francisco 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis suffered a "slight" fracture in his right hand, ESPN's Chris Mortensen reports. Willis will wear a cast for now, but the perennial Pro Bowler is not expected any time during the regular season. Let's be honest: Willis would play, and play well, with a severed hand.
In other 49ers injury news, cornerback Chris Culliver suffered a left knee during a one-on-one punt coverage drill on Thursday. Head coach Jim Harbaugh said Culliver was undergoing an MRI on Thursday afternoon.
• Houston Texans inside linebacker Brian Cushing is making good progress in his recovery from a torn ACL. Cushing, who is in his contract year, participated in 7-on-7 drills on Thursday. Running back Arian Foster could make his practice debut on Sunday.
• ESPN's Ed Werder reports the Dallas Cowboys have interest in veteran guard Brian Waters, a free agent who lives in the Dallas area. Nothing appears imminent, however, as the Cowboys signed rookie offensive linemen Jeff Olson and James Nelson to provide depth for Sunday's Hall of Fame game against the Miami Dolphins.
• Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle DeMarcus Love was suspended four games for violating the NFL's policy against performance-enhancing drugs. Love, a 2011 sixth-round pick out of Arkansas, has yet to play a single snap in the NFL after spending his rookie season as a game day inactive and the 2012 season injured reserve with a torn pectoral muscle. The four-game suspension will cost Love $130,588 in base salary.
• In a surprising transaction, the Carolina Panthers terminated the contract of veteran center/guard Geoff Hangartner on Thursday. Hangartner was scheduled to earn $1.575 million in base salary this season, which will come off the Panthers' salary cap.
Here's a spin around Thursday's NFL personnel notice:
Four players were claimed off waivers: Offensive lineman Jason Weaver, waived by the Tampa Bay Buccaners, was claimed by the Cincinnati Bengals. Defensive back Nigel Malone was claimed by the Denver Broncos after being released on Wednesday by the Pittsburgh Steelers, who claimed cornerback Buddy Jackson. The Seattle Seahawks scooped up wide receiver Perez Ashford, who was released by the New England Patriots on Wednesday.
Hitting the waiver wire on Thursday were Atlanta Falcons defensive back Saeed Lee (injured), Baltimore Ravens linebacker Spencer Adkins (from injured reserve with a settlement), Detroit Lions defensive end Spencer Nealy and safety Ricardo Silva, Houston Texans tight end Phillip Supernaw (from injured reserve with a settlement), Indianapolis Colts guard Robert Griffin (not that one) and linebacker Scott Lutrus (injured), Kansas City Chiefs offensive tackle Colin Kelly (injured), New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Morris, New York Giants wide receiver Jeremy Horne (injured), Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver B.J. Cunningham (with an injury settlement), Pittsburgh Steelers long-snapper Luke Ingram and Seahawks wide receiver Greg Herd (injured).
The Patriots were busy, signing defensive linemen Travis Chappelear and Scott Vallone and wide receivers Johnathan Haggerty and Lavasier Tuinei. The Falcons added cornerback Jordan Mabin, the Buffalo Bills signed cornerback Don Unamba and the Bengals signed wide receiver Jheranie Boyd. The Detroit Lions signed defensive tackle Xavier Proctor and safety Trevor Coston, the Colts added offensive linemen Thomas Austin and Danous Estenor and the Chiefs signed offensive tackle Mike Tepper and corneback Kamaal McIlwain. The New York Giants added wide receiver Julian Talley and the Washington Redskins officially signed linebacker Nick Barnett.
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