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NFL Roundup: Ex-Raider Christensen dies from surgery complications

The SportsXchange

Former NFL tight end Todd Christensen died from complications during surgery in Utah, his alma mater, Brigham Young University, announced Wednesday.

Christensen, 57, was to undergo a liver transplant on Tuesday, The Sports Xchange learned.

Christensen battled liver disease and other ailments during the past few years, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. But he was known as an active and effusive person who kept himself in good shape. The health issue related to the surgery arose quickly.

Drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the second round in 1978 out of Brigham Young, Christensen played 11 seasons in the NFL. He joined the Raiders in 1979 and won two Super Bowls (1980, 1983).

He was named to the Pro Bowl five times and twice was an All-Pro selection.

Christensen's best seasons came during the 1980s. He had 349 receptions from 1983 to 1986 and led the league in 1983 with 92 catches for 1,247 yards and 12 touchdowns. In 1986, he led the NFL in receptions again with 95.

After retiring as a player in 1988, Christensen became a television analyst for NBC and later worked as a host for American Gladiators and also as a football analyst for ESPN, the Mountain West Sports Network and CBS Sports Network.

---Denver quarterback Peyton Manning sat out Wednesday's practice as the Broncos prepared for Sunday night's game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Manning suffered an ankle sprain in the Broncos' win over the San Diego Chargers on Sunday. An MRI on Monday revealed no other significant damage in the ankle.

Manning, 37, has been bothered by sore ankles since the Broncos' loss to his former team, the Indianapolis Colts, last month.

Broncos interim coach Jack Del Rio said earlier this week that Manning would play against the unbeaten Chiefs.

In nine games this season, Manning has completed 262 of 369 passes (71 percent) for 3,249 yards and 33 touchdowns with six interceptions.

--- Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe will start against the Broncos on Sunday despite being arrested and charged with possession of marijuana and speeding during a Nov. 10 traffic stop, coach Andy Reid said, according to the Kansas City Star.

"It's a legal matter," Reid said. "That's the way we'll handle it (and) let it run its course there."

Bowe issued a statement that read, "I apologize to the Hunt family, Coach Reid, my teammates and Chiefs fans for the distraction I have caused the team this week. Due to the nature of the pending matter, I am unable to make any further comment on the situation."

Bowe was driving with two passengers when he was stopped late Sunday. A K-9 search was conducted, alerting officers to "a black bag holding Bowe's wallet and two containers of what the officer suspected to be marijuana" the Star reported. One container held 3.8 grams of marijuana and the other 6.6 grams, according to the report.

Bowe said in August, after the franchise made a major offseason commitment to make him part of the long-term foundation with a five-year, $56 million contract, that he was ready to become a leader.

Bowe has 33 receptions, top among the team's receivers but second to running back Jamaal Charles (47), for 369 yards and two touchdowns for the 9-0 Chiefs in 2013.

He was suspended four games in 2009 for violating the NFL's policy on performance enhancing drugs.

Under the terms of the personal conduct policy, Bowe could be subject to fine and discipline. Players pleading guilty or convicted to possession of marijuana have been suspended one game in the past.

---Injured Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers wants to get back on the field as quickly as possible and is holding out hope for a possible Thanksgiving return.

"I haven't given up hope on playing any week. It depends on how I heal and depends on what the next X-ray looks like," Rodgers said Tuesday on his weekly radio show.

Rodgers sustained a broken left collarbone in a 27-20 loss to the Chicago Bears on Nov. 4 and the Packers have dropped two straight games. He said he felt the best he has on Tuesday since he suffered the injury.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Rodgers still appears to be several weeks away from playing.

On Tuesday, the Packers signed Rodgers' former backup, Matt Flynn, as a replacement for Seneca Wallace, who went down with a groin injury last week in a 27-13 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Flynn was recently released by the Buffalo Bills and was also let go earlier this year by the Oakland Raiders.

Scott Tolzien, a former practice squad player who came in Sunday to replace Wallace, is slated to start Sunday against the New York Giants. The Packers then play the Minnesota Vikings before their Thanksgiving Day matchup against the Detroit Lions.

Wallace was placed on injured reserve Tuesday.

---Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay likes to express his thoughts on Twitter, and his latest tweet involves an idea he floated to fans about recently released Houston Texans safety Ed Reed.

Irsay posed a question on Twitter: "ColtsFans...Ed Reed signs,goes to WR,with limited special packages for WR plays; backs up safety n plays some role n return game/Yes-no?"

Whether Irsay was serious or joking, it's difficult to tell. Reed has never played offense during a 12-year NFL career that includes a Super Bowl victory last season with the Baltimore Ravens.

One thing appears certain: Reed will not be returning to the Ravens, whose starting safeties this season are veteran James Ihedigbo and rookie Matt Elam.

A nine-time Pro Bowl selection and NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2004, Reed has connections to the Colts. Indianapolis coach Chuck Pagano and secondary coach Roy Anderson were members of the Ravens' staff when Reed was in Baltimore.

The 35-year-old Reed is available after he struggled this season with the Texans, making 16 tackles in seven games and losing his starting spot. He had signed as a free agent with Houston during the off-season.

---Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger tried to crack a joke Wednesday about the potency of the Detroit Lions' defensive tackle tandem, but Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley aren't laughing, according to a report on ESPN.com.

"Well, yeah, you've got to be careful," Roethlisberger said during a conference call with Detroit media. "You'll end up dead if you're not careful.

"This is a great D-line and defense. Yeah, we'll, I tell myself all the time to be alert for those things but then when the bullets are flying who knows what's going to happen."

Suh, however, wasn't fond of Big Ben's choice of verbiage.

"I'm not a killer," Suh said. "My track record proves that one. I guess I can take that somewhat as a compliment. But no, there's going to be no killing on Sunday."

As the most-sacked QB in the NFL since 2001 (379 times, according to ESPN Stats & Information), Roethlisberger realizes he and the Steelers' offensive line will have their hands full with the hard-charging and blitzing ways of Suh and Fairley.

Fairley agreed with his teammate that he's not out for blood or to cause injury -- or worse -- to Roethlisberger.

"I wouldn't say kill someone, but if we stay alive in our rushes, sooner or later we're going to get there," Fairley said. "He's (Roethlisberger) the type of quarterback that's going to hold the ball to extend plays and watching, coach telling us this morning, we just gotta stay alive."
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