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NFL Roundup: Harbaugh undecided on QB, Reed miffed at $50k fine

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San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh stopped short of saying whether or not Alex Smith will play Sunday against New Orleans after sitting out Monday night's win over the Chicago Bears because of a concussion.

He also wouldn't discuss Wednesday who might start at quarterback if Smith is declared healthy. Colin Kaepernick led the 49ers to Monday's win with an impressive performance.

"We don't have a (quarterback) controversy," Harbaugh said on KNBR radio. "A controversy is argument with two opposing points of view. We have two quarterbacks with hot hands."

He added, "I will not announce the starting QB ... today."

Smith said Wednesday that he's awaiting medical clearance to play in a game.

"Still in the process," he said, according to CSNBayArea.com. "I've been cleared to go back out and practice. I'll be out there in the (black) jersey and just start the process again and continue it.

"I feel good. I'm kind of expecting things to go well, but still got steps to go through."

Smith said Kaepernick's emergence is a good situation for the 49ers.

"Let's not get this wrong," Smith said. "If this were any other position, it's a great thing. Now, does it complicate things for me and Colin? Yeah. The quarterback position gets a lot of attention. A lot is going to be written and talked about. There's only one ball. Only one guy is going to be under center. It's part of the deal."

At the moment, Smith isn't worried about winning back his starting job.

"I feel like I'm trying to get healthy and get back out there and prove I can play," he said. "And part of that is getting cleared. That's where I'm at right now."

---The Miami Dolphins have waived veteran wide receiver Jabar Gaffney and claimed tight end Kyle Miller off waivers from the Indianapolis Colts.

Gaffney came to the Dolphins in october after he was released in training camp by New England and had four catches in three games. He sat out last Sunday's game against Buffalo with a knee injury.

Miller is listed as a tight end but also is a long snapper who could contribute on special teams.

---Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed is certainly not shy on the field with his aggressive play or expressing himself off the field.

While the NFL overturned his one-game suspension Tuesday for a hit on Pittsburgh's Emmanuel Sanders in Sunday night's game, Reed is upset about the $50,000 fine he has to pay. He also voiced his opinion about concussions and how the NFL is attempting to change the game.

"It really needs to be discussed for a fine to come down like that so harshly for that hit," Reed told the Baltimore Sun.

Reed's suspension was lifted during a meeting Tuesday after he appealed, but the NFL said the hit still warranted disciplinary action that resulted in the fine.

"I'm just glad I can play with my teammates," he said. "I'm not happy with the $50 grand, but what can you do?"

Reed acknowledges that steps should be taken to make the game safer, but he said the only way to prevent concussions is to ban the sport.

"It is tackle football. It is a contact sport and a brutal one, a violent one at that, the No. 1 violent sport, sad to say," he said.

"I know concussions has been a big thing. I've had concussions before and I know guys are going to have concussions. If you want to stop it, stop the game. Like people say, it's starting to be a flag football thing."

---The Jacksonville Jaguars signed wide receiver Jordan Shipley and waived fullback Will Ta'ufo'ou.

Shipley hasn't played since he was waived Sept. 25 by Tampa Bay after seeing action in one game. The Cincinnati Bengals' 2010 third-round draft pick led AFC rookies ith 52 catches in 2010 before he suffered a serious knee injury.

---Jeff Backus' string of 186 consecutive starts could be in jeopardy when the Detroit Lions face the Houston Texans.

The left tackle who has started every game of his 12-year pro career left Sunday's loss to Green Bay with a hamstring injury and the Lions listed him as doubtful on Thanksgiving. He did not practice Tuesday.

If Backus can't play, rookie first-round draft pick Riley Reiff will get the start. Reiff entered the game last week in the first half when Backus limped off the field.

Backus' consecutive-game streak is the longest among current NFL linemen and the third longest in the NFL for active players.

"I'm ready to go," Reiff said. "Any time you get on the field, you gain a little bit more knowledge, a little more experience."

Coach Jim Schwartz hasn't ruled Backus out yet.

"Any athlete takes pride in their performance, their abilities. Their availability is extremely important," Schwartz said. "But every athlete also has what's in the best interest of the team ahead of themselves and Jeff is that kind of guy also."

---The Denver Broncos suffered a blow Wednesday when running back Willis McGahee was placed on regular-season-ending injured reserve.

The Broncos initially hoped to avoid such a move after McGahee tore the MCL in his right knee during the second quarter of Sunday's game against the San Diego Chargers, but the Broncos made the decision Wednesday, Fox Sports and NFL Network reported.

McGahee was designated for return, meaning he would be eligible to play in eight weeks. That would make him available for the AFC Championship game in the event the Broncos make it that far.

McGahee's absence leaves Denver with rookie Ronnie Hillman, Lance Ball and Knowshon Moreno at running back. It's uncertain whether the Broncos will attempt to sign another running back to take McGahee's roster spot.

Hillman received the bulk of snaps last week against the Chargers after McGahee went down. Moreno, who missed the game, will be activated this week, according to the report.

McGahee had rushed for 731 yards and four touchdowns this season after racking up 1,199 yards in in 2011, his first year with the Broncos after four seasons with the Baltimore Ravens.

Hillman has rushed for 188 yards, Ball 94 and Moreno 15 this season.

---The Arizona Cardinals activated running back Beanie Wells from injured reserve and waived linebacker Jamaal Westerman on Wednesday.

Wells, who was sidelined by a toe injury. has practiced for several weeks while he waited to come off the injury list.

The injury has limited Wells to three games this season and 76 yards rushing on 29 carries. The fourth-year pro ran for 1,047 yards in 2011.

---San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh said Wednesday morning that he expects quarterback Alex Smith to be available to particpate in contact practices this week.

Harbaugh stopped short of saying whether or not Smith will play Sunday against New Orleans after sitting out Monday night's win over the Chicago Bears because of a concussion.

He also wouldn't discuss who might start at quarterback if Smith is declared healthy. Colin Kaepernick led the 49ers to Monday's win with an impressive performance.

"We don't have a (quarterback) controversy," Harbaugh said on KNBR radio. "A controversy is argument with two opposing points of view. We have two quarterbacks with hot hands."

He added, "I will not announce the starting QB ... today."

---Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler still isn't sure whether he'll be cleared to start this week but says he's feeling no ill effects from a concussion.

Cutler missed Monday night's loss to San Francisco after he suffered a head injury in the Bears' previous game against Houston.

On whether he'll return to the lineup this week against Minnesota, Cutler told reporters Wednesday, "I don't know. We'll see."

The team did not practice Wednesday. Cutler hoped to be on the field Thursday.

"I got to see some more doctors," he said. "You got to go on the field. And really it's a personal thing, to make sure you're OK," Cutler said.

Backup Jason Campbell started in Cutler's place against the 49ers and was ineffective.

---Kansas City Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel announced Wednesday that Brady Quinn will start at quarterback Sunday against Denver.

Quinn returned last week from a concussion he suffered in an Oct. 28 loss to Oakland, replacing Matt Cassel in the second half of Sunday's loss to Cincinnati. Cassel will remain on the bench.

Crennel gave Quinn his first start since the 2009 season on Oct. 14 against Tampa Bay, but after he was knocked out in the next game, Cassel became the team's starter again.

Quinn completed 9 of 14 passes for 95 yards and was sacked twice against the Bengals.

---The Chicago Bears elevated offensive lineman James Brown from the practice squad and placed guard Chilo Rachal on reserve/left squad due to personal reasons.

Brown is an undrafted rookie free agent from Troy, where he was first-team All-Sun Belt Conference as a senior.

---Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt will go with rookie Ryan Lindley as the Cardinals' starting quarterback Sunday against St. Louis.

Whisenhunt announced Wednesday that the sixth-round pick will replace John Skelton. Lindley took over for Skelton last Sunday in the second quarter of the Cardinals' loss to Atlanta and managed to complete 9 of 20 passes for 64 yards. Skelton was 2 of 7 for 6 yards in the game.

Quarterback Kevin Kolb remains slowed by a rib injury that has kept him out since week six. He has been limited him to six games this season.

The Cardinals (4-6) are in the midst of a six-game losing streak.

---Former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue will finish hearings in the NFL bounty investigation by Dec. 4 and then issue a ruling soon thereafter.

According to multiple reports Wednesday, Tagliabue informed league officials and players involved in the case of his plans. He also directed the NFL to make key witnesses available in the New Orleans' Saints' cash-for-hits bounty program that allegedly rewarded players for knocking opponents out of games from 2009 to 2011.

Those individuals include former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and former defensive assistant Mike Cerullo.

Four players originally were suspended by commissioner Roger Goodell as a result of the bounty program, but the punishments were rescinded during the first week of the NFL season. Tagliabue took over the new hearings on Oct. 19 after the players argued that Goodell could not be objective as an arbitrator.

Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma and defensive end Will Smith, who were part of the investigation, remain active players without serving any punishment or missing any games. Vilma had been suspended for the entire season and Smith for four games.

Two others, Cleveland linebacker Scott Fujita, and free-agent defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove, were suspended for their roles, but both suspensions were reduced.

The scheduled witnesses for the hearings from Tuesday through Dec. 4 in Washington at this point include Williams Cerullo, Vilma, Saints assistant head coach Joe Vitt and NFL chief security officer Jeff Miller.

Meanwhile, the players are challenging Tagliabue's impartiality in an appeal before a federal judge who is considering whether or not Tagliabue is bias as a fommer NFL commissioner should be removed. That ruling could come next week.
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