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NFL roundup: Alex Karras dies

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Alex Karras, the former Detroit Lions' lineman who later had a successful acting career in the 1974 comedy "Blazing Saddles" and starred on the sitcom "Webster," died Wednesday at 77.

He passed away at home in Los Angeles surrounded by family members, his lawyer told multiple media outlets. Karras had recently suffered kidney failure, and also suffered from dementia.

He joined a class-action lawsuit in April, along with 3,500 former players, that accuses the league of not protecting them better from head injuries.

Drafted 10th overall in 1958, Karras went on to become a four-time All-Pro defensive tackle in his 12 seasons with the team. He led the Lions' defense past Green Bay on Thanksgiving Day in 1962, handing the Packers their only loss that season.

Karras reached a new audience in the acting world. In the Mel Brooks' comedy, "Blazing Saddles," he famously punched a horse and delivered the line: "Mongo only pawn in game of life."

He later played himself in movie adaption of George Plimpton's behind-the-scenes book about life as a NFL player in Detroit.

Karras became a 1980s staple on television as Emmanuel Lewis' adoptive father, George Papadapolis, in the sitcom "Webster."

"Perhaps no player in Lions history attained as much success and notoriety for what he did after his playing days as did Alex," Lions president Tom Lewand said.

---Carolina Panthers center Ryan Kalil will miss the rest of the season with Lisfranc injury.

The injury, the same one that also sidelined Green Bay Packers running back Cedric Benson, was suffered during Sunday's game against the Seattle Seahawks.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera announced Wednesday that the three-time Pro-Bowler has placed on injured reserve.

---Kansas City Chiefs backup quarterback Brady Quinn will likely start Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Coach Romeo Crennel announced Wednesday that Matt Cassel hasn't been cleared to practice after suffering a concussion Sunday. Quinn will take the snaps in practice as if he were starting.

Quinn went 3-for-3 after replacing Cassel, but couldn't lead Kansas City to a comeback win over Baltimore.

Crennel quickly dismissed a question about whether he would've considered a quarterback change regardless of injury.

---Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III has been cleared to play and practiced with teammates after suffering a mild concussion.

Griffin passed NFL's concussion protocol after being hurt during Sunday's game against Atlanta. He's set to start Sunday against Minnesota.

Griffin III, 22, is the NFC's third-leading passer and the NFL's top rusher among quarterbacks.

---Once again, the Pittsburgh Steelers will be taking a field without their defense intact.

The team will be without outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley and safety Troy Polamalu for Thursday's game against the Tennessee Titans, according to Steelers Digest.

Woodley left Sunday's win over the Philadelphia Eagles with a hamstring injury, add didn't recover in time to play. Polamalu re-injured a right calf injury that had already forced him to miss three games this season.

---Indianapolis Colts rookie running back Vick Ballard will get his first NFL start Sunday against the Jets.

Starter Donald Brown is out at least two weeks after having knee surgery, interim head coach Bruce Arians announced Wednesday at his press conference.

Brown suffered torn cartilage in his knee on a two-point conversion with 35 seconds left in Sunday's victory over the Green Bay Packers.

Ballard has been used primarily on third down and as a short-yardage back. He averages 2.0 yards per carry (21 carries, 42 yards) and is a physical, hard-nosed ballcarrier with average speed compared to Brown.

---Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita accused commissioner Roger Goodell of abusing his power in his handling of the New Orleans Saints' bounty case, and also slammed the league's recent record on player safety.

Fujita had his three-game suspension reduced to one on Tuesday by Goodell. In a statement Wednesday, Fujita expressed anger with a letter he received from Goodell about his reduced suspension.

Fujita said in the statement that he's pleased Goodell acknowledged he never participated in the program in which defensive players would be paid for injuring opponents, but told reporters that he didn't like what was in the letter he received from Goodell.

Goodell wrote that he was "surprised and disappointed" that Fujita, "a former defensive captain and a passionate advocate for player safety, ignored such a program and permitted it to continue."

Fujita said he was most troubled by the "condescending tone used in his redetermination letter was neither accurate nor productive."

---Chicago Bears first-round pick Shea McClellin became the victim of a prank Tuesday night when defensive end Israel Idonije handed the rookie a $38,091.91 dinner bill.

Luckily for him, it was a joke.

"We all went out for dinner, rookie night, and we had the restaurant bring by a big bill just to shock (practice squad defensive end) Aston (Whiteside) and Shea," Idonije told reporters Wednesday. "It was hilarious. They didn't know what to do with themselves. It was fun and we laughed, and we moved on. "It was five minutes of them trying to debate what they were going to do and how they were going to figure it out. We laughed. It was a lot of fun."

---The last-place Detroit Lions don't take kindly to criticism, and lashed out at an anonymous rival general manager who called them "overrated in a Pro Football Weekly report.

The story cited the executive specifically mentioned defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh and Cliff Avril as overhyped players, and said coach Jim Schwartz and general manager Martin Mayhew are "both overrated."

Lions center Dominic Raiola didn't appreciate the comments, telling reporters Tuesday that the remarks were a "coward kind of statement."

---Should the Chicago Bears need a veteran receiver in light of Alshon Jeffery's injury, Plaxico Burress is available.

"For me to get to a football town like Chicago and play with a group of guys like (Matt) Forte, Brian (Urlacher), (Brandon Marshall) and Jay (Cutler) would be an honor," Burress told ESPN on Tuesday. "I just have to get the green light."

Burress remains unemployed following a season in which he caught 45 passes for 612 yards and eight touchdowns with the New York Jets, his first year back after missing two years serving time for accidentally shooting himself in the leg in a New York City nightclub.

--- People are going to read into the wording used by New York Jets coach Rex Ryan when he said on Wednesday that Mark Sanchez will remain the Jets starting quarterback "this week."

"I'm telling you right now, [Sanchez] is our starting quarterback this week," Ryan said Wednesday, according to ESPNNewYork.com.

Asked to explain what that meant as far as Sanchez's long-term status, Ryan replied, "What do you want me to say? He's our starter. He's our starter this week."

Ryan's statement came the same day Jets owner Woody Johnson told CNBC he wants Tim Tebow on the Jets for the remainder of his contract -- through 2014.

--- Green Bay Packers rookie linebacker Nick Perry said on Wednesday he has been fined $15,000 by the NFL for his hit on Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck, ESPN Milwaukee reported.

"(The NFL said) I led with the crown of my head. For that, I got fined," Perry told ESPN Milwaukee. "I've got to be more focused on making a play without the head."

The hit drew a penalty on Sunday that negated a fumble recovered by the Packers, who lost the game 30-27.

---Buffalo Bills defensive end Mark Anderson needs surgery to repair a left knee injury and could miss several weeks.

Coach Chan Gailey said the injury is not season-ending but believes Anderson will miss multiple games. General manager Buddy Nix said earlier Wednesday Anderson would miss "significant time."

Anderson, signed as a free agent in the offseason to a four-year, $27.5 million deal, has just 1.0 quarterback sack in the first five games. He had 10 sacks with the New England Patriots last season.
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