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NFL Notebook: Packers' QB Rodgers still not cleared

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Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said there is no change in the status of injured quarterback Aaron Rodgers, but he did note improvement following Wednesday's practice.

"Aaron is doing better," McCarthy said. "He still has not been cleared by the medical staff. Threw the ball extremely well. Looked sharp. He's getting better."

McCarthy expects a similar approach to last week before a final decision later in the week. Last week before going to Dallas, the Packers ruled Rodgers out Friday.

Rodgers was officially listed as a limited participant Wednesday. Matt Flynn worked with the first team and is preparing to start Sunday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Flynn has guided Green Bay to a pair of one-point wins after the Packers went 0-3-1 in the first four games Rodgers missed.

---A day after they released kicker Garrett Hartley and replaced him with veteran Shayne Graham, the New Orleans Saints made another move on Wednesday when coach Sean Payton pushed rookie Terron Armstead into the starting left tackle spot for Sunday's road game at Carolina.

Payton watched starting left tackle Charles Brown have trouble against the St. Louis Rams in a 27-16 loss last Sunday and decided to turn to Armstead, who has not played an offensive snap this season and has appeared in only four games on special teams.

"It's time to see what he can do," Payton said of Armstead, a third-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft from Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

The Saints officially signed Graham on Wednesday to replace Hartley, who was with the team for six years. Hartley missed two field goal attempts last Sunday against the Rams, including one from 26 yards.

Hartley, 27, connected on 82 of 101 field-goal attempts and 176 of 177 extra-point tries during his time with the Saints.

"That was a tough decision," Payton said. "You spend a lot of time giving it thought and ultimately you go with your gut."

Graham, 36, is in his 13th NFL season. He made 31 of 38 field-goal attempts for the Houston Texans last year. The journeyman has also played in his career for the Bills, Panthers, Bengals, Giants, Patriots, Dolphins and Ravens.

He was briefly on the Pittsburgh Steelers' roster early this season, but he did not appear in a game.

---Quarterback Case Keenum was ruled out of Sunday's game with a thumb injury, leading interim coach Wade Phillips to restore Matt Schaub as the starter for the Houston Texans.

Schaub had nine touchdowns and 10 interceptions before he was benched by then-coach Gary Kubiak in favor of Keenum, an undrafted free agent from the University of Houston. Keenum initially sparked the offense but has just one touchdown and five interceptions in the past four games.

Keenum injured the thumb on his right hand last week at Indianapolis but did not miss a snap.

Schaub will be joined in the backfield by Dennis Johnson, who is getting the nod at running back ahead of Ben Tate. Tate was placed on injured reserve with broken ribs.

Tate played with four broken ribs for five weeks and Phillips said a fifth broken rib last week at Indianpolis forced the Texans to shut him down. Tate replaced Pro Bowl starter Arian Foster. Foster was placed on injured reserve with a back injury in November.

Johnson has 37 carries for 154 yards this season.

---Backup quarterback Thad Lewis will make his fourth start of the season in place of rookie EJ Manuel on Sunday when the Buffalo Bills face the Miami Dolphins.

Manuel, the Bills' 2013 first-round draft pick, will sit out after spraining a knee last week. But coach Doug Marrone said Manuel might be able to return for the season finale the following week.

The injury initially was not considered serious, with Marrone saying Monday that Manuel should be OK to play. But Marrone said Manuel's mobility was limited outside the pocket during practice.

The Bills (5-9) are out of playoff contention, but the Dolphins (8-6) are in the thick of the race for a wild-card berth. They trail the Baltimore Ravens by one game for the final AFC spot.

Lewis has completed 62 of 103 passes for 652 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions in three games.

---Washington Redskins linebacker London Fletcher is 99 percent certain that his 16th season will be his last in the NFL.

The 38-year-old has played in 254 consecutive games -- the longest streak in the NFL since 1970 -- and has started 213 games in a row. He's considered one of the most durable players in NFL history, having never missed a game since he came out of Division III John Carroll as an undrafted free agent.

Fletcher is one of only four players with 250 consecutive games and, on Sunday, he'll likely play his final home game in FedEx Field against the Dallas Cowboys. The Redskins' final game will be the following week at the New York Giants.

"I felt like I've accomplished everything I wanted to accomplish in the National Football League," he said.

Fletcher considered retirement for several years but always came back because of his desire to help the franchise. Now, he wants to spend more time with his young family.

Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said of Fletcher, "I think he's definitely a Hall of Fame-caliber player. His work speaks for itself, and to do what he's done and not miss games along the way, be with different organizations and lead those organizations wherever he's been, speaks volumes."

Fletcher has 58 tackles, two sacks and one forced fumble this season.

---Jerry Jones believes the Dallas Cowboys are doing just fine without a general manager.

The Cowboys owner explained Tuesday that there's no need to hire a GM who would just answer to Jones anyway.

"It's often said, Why don't I get someone to be the GM? Why don't I get someone to pick the players?" Jones said on 105.3 The Fan on Dallas. "Well, who in the world do you think that person, when they walk through the door and say, 'We want to get this player, and we want to pay this player,' what in the world do you think I'm going to do?

"I'm going to sit down, and I'm going to go through it, and I'm going to say, 'Show me the player before I write the check. Show me the player. And let me see everything about the player.' Well, rather than have that happen, I get involved in it and get to know everything there is to know about the players before they get through the door."

After blowing a 23-point halftime lead on Sunday in a 37-36 loss at home to the Green Bay Packers, the Cowboys fell to 7-7 but remain in the NFC East race. Going into a game this weekend against the Washington Redskins, Dallas trails the Philadelphia Eagles by one game in the division.

---The Kansas City Chiefs signed tight end Richard Gordon from their practice squad and placed tight end Dominique Jones on the reserve/non-football illness list. They also signed wide receiver Fred Williams and tight end Jake Byrne to the practice squad, released wide receiver Jheranie Boyd and put tight end Demetrius Harris on IR.

Gordon played in 27 games and started two in 2011 and 2012 with the Oakland Raiders. He had three receptions for 11 yards and one touchdown with the Raiders, who released him before the start of the 2013 season. The Pittsburgh Steelers signed Gordon on Oct. 15 and released him on Dec. 7.

Jones started three games the past two seasons for the Indianapolis Colts and the Chiefs. He signed with the Chiefs' practice squad on Oct. 30 and was elevated to the active roster on Dec. 7. He has three career receptions for 42 yards.
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