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NFL roundup: Goodell re-issues "Bountygate" penalties

The SportsXchange

The National Football League has interrupted this season to bring yet another twist to the "Bountygate" drama involving the New Orleans Saints by "reaffirming the discipline" against the four players whose original suspensions were vacated by an appeals panel on Sept. 7.

According to a league announcement, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell "adjusted certain aspects of the penalties following recent meetings with each of the players, the first time those players had agreed to speak directly to the NFL to give their side of the story."

The original punishments included a full season for linebacker Jonathan Vilma, four games for defensive end Will Smith, three games for linebacker Scott Fujita and eight games for lineman Anthony Hargrove.

Penalties on three of the four players were reduced in some fashion by Goodell.

Vilma's suspension is still for entire season, but he will be able to collect his pay for the six weeks he already has been on the physically unable to perform list. His original sentence called for no pay for all 17 weeks of the season.

Fujita, now the Cleveland Browns, had his suspension reduced to from three games to one.

Hargrove, who is currently a free agent, will receive credit for serving his suspension during the first five weeks of this season. However, if he signs with a team, he will then need to serve the final two games of his suspension.

Smith's four-game suspension was unchanged, according to the league announcement.

--The Houston Texans were bracing for life without Brian Cushing almost from the time the linebacker hit the MetLife Stadium turf on Monday night.

He was injured on a cut block by New York Jets offensive guard Matt Slauson in the second quarter. There was no penalty on the play and the block is legal. Tests Tuesday confirmed the team's initial expectation that he was out for the season with a torn ACL.

"I got cut," Cushing told USA Today. "I got cut on a run play. It happens. I was just keeping my head up. Whatever happens, happens. It's football. It's part of the game."

Cushing was the Texans' leading tackler this season.

--Despite a continued slump, Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez remains the starter.

"No question," head coach Rex Ryan told reporters Tuesday.

Sanchez had another poor performance Monday night against the Houston Texans, throwing for 230 yards, with a touchdown and two interceptions. He has completed just 48.4 percent of his passes this season, the fifth-lowest percentage through five team games since 2000, with at least 100 attempts.

As Sanchez struggles, the pressure mounts to start popular backup Tim Tebow, who led the Denver Broncos to the playoffs after replacing Kyle Orton.

The Jets (2-3) have generated just two touchdowns in its past 45 possessions. The team has lost two straight heading into a game against the Indianapolis Colts.

--Green Bay Packers running back Cedric Benson is likely to miss eight weeks with a Lisfranc foot injury.

Benson said Sunday night after the Packers' loss at Indianapolis that he felt his injury was a common sprain, which might've put him on the sideline for 1-2 weeks.

"I was able to walk off, and they say guys who have that type of things aren't able to walk off. They X-rayed it and it feels good."

If the injury requires surgery, Benson would be out for the season.

--The Washington Redskins released placekicker Billy Cundiff and signed Kai Forbath.

Cundiff, who was cut by the Baltimore Ravens on Aug. 26 after losing the job to rookie Justin Tucker, signed with the Redskins four days later with Washington cutting ties with Graham Gano. Cundiff is known for his strong leg and is regularly among the league leaders in touchbacks, but he missed four field goals over the past two games, including a pair of 31-yarders.

Forbath played at UCLA. He went undrafted last year, but signed with the Dallas Cowboys and spent the season on their reserve non-football injury list. He was waived by the Cowboys on April 16 and claimed the next day by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Forbath was 5-for-5 on field-goal attempts during the preseason for the Bucs, who waived him Aug. 31.

--The San Francisco 49ers added outside linebacker Clark Haggans to the active roster and released linebacker Erik Bakhtiari.

Haggans' three-game suspension following a DUI arrest that resulted in jail time ended Tuesday and the 49ers had until 4 p.m. to make a decision on his roster spot.

Haggans was arrested in April 2011 and served time in June after pleading guilty to DUI charges and had a hearing before NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in September.

Haggans, 35, was signed to replace Parys Haralson on the roster. Haralson was placed on injured reserve with a torn left triceps.

--The Tennessee Titans won't have Jake Locker at quarterback for Thursday's primetime game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Locker sat out a second consecutive game Sunday with a separated non-throwing (left) shoulder, and the offense was stagnant in a 30-7 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. Matt Hasselbeck started and had 200 yards passing, but none of his 26 completions covered more than 18 yards.

The Titans could have pushed Locker to play this week and noted he has made major improvement. With 10 days between games, the Titans instead will aim for Week 7, when they'll play at Buffalo.

--The Kansas City Chiefs re-signed center Bryan Mattison and waived defensive back Neiko Thorpe.

The team released Mattison and promoted Thorpe from its practice squad before Sunday's loss to the Baltimore Ravens, and Thorpe saw action on special teams in the game.

--If the New York Jets are still looking at options at wide receiver, Terrell Owens believes he'd be an upgrade.

Owens, who spent part of training camp with the Seattle Seahawks, said via Twitter during Monday's loss to the Houston Texans that he's ready if the Jets call.

"Hey JETS!!! I'm available! I'm ready, willing & able! Call my agent@JordanWoy & let's make it happen," Owens wrote.

Coach Rex Ryan said last week that street free agents such as Owens, Plaxico Burress and Chad Johnson weren't viable options for the team in filling Santonio Holmes' spot on the roster. The Jets signed Jason Hill, and Ryan said they'd continue to seek youth at the position rather than marquee names with more NFL miles logged.

--Veteran reporter Andrea Kremer is joining NFL Network as the chief correspondent for a new unit that will focus on covering player health and safety issues.

Kremer has worked in various reporting capacities for ESPN and NBC, has covered more than 20 Super Bowls as well as the past three Olympic Games. She will continue working for HBO's "Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel."

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