What's buzzing:

NFL Roundup: Pats re-sign Deion Branch, Morgan receives death threats

The SportsXchange

The New England Patriots re-signed wide receiver Deion Branch and linebacker Niko Koutouvides, and added tight end Kellen Winslow, the team announced.

The team also released running back Lex Hilliard, linebacker Mike Rivera and wide receiver Greg Salas.

Branch, 33, was released from training camp Aug. 31. He was a second-round draft pick by the Patriots in 2002, traded to the Seattle Seahawks, and reacquired in 2010. He caught 51 passes for 702 yards and five touchdowns in 15 games last season.

Winslow, 29, played eight seasons with the Cleveland Browns and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He spent training camp with the Seahawks, but was released Sept. 1. He's played in 92 games, and has 437 receptions for 4,836 yards and 23 touchdowns.

---Washington Redskins wide receiver Joshua Morgan's fourth-quarter mistake Sunday has led to him seeing the ugly side of social media.

Morgan told reporters that he's received death threats and other sadistic messages on Twitter after taking an unsportsmanlike penalty for throwing the ball at the St. Louis Rams' Cortland Finnegan. The penalty cost the Redskins field position during the team's final drive in a 31-28 loss.

"I heard everything, especially when they get you on Twitter and are sending you death threats and wishing you bad things and your firstborn," Morgan said. "You see it all, you hear it all. You never let it get to you, especially with me being from D.C. They treated me kind of like they did (San Francisco 49ers special teams player) Kyle Williams last year when he dropped a punt against the Giants."

Morgan said wasn't tempted to remove his Twitter account.

"The only thing I take seriously is football and my family, and nothing really scares me," he said.

---Adding to the growing resentment for the NFL's replacement officials, former referee Jerry Markbreit criticized the league Tuesday.

Appearing on ESPN 98.7 FM's "The Mike Lupica Show," Markbreit said commissioner Roger Goodell is devaluing officiating in the league and warned that performance will get worse.

"It's obvious to me that (Goodell) just doesn't even care," said Markbreit, who retired in 1998 after 23 NFL seasons. "Otherwise, how could they replace professionalism with unprofessionalism in a game that's so tough to work, even for the best officials in the land?"

While some feel that the replacement referees will improve during the season, Markbreit doesn't see it that way.

"The management of the games gets tougher (in the coming weeks)," he said. "These guys have relied on competent, top-notch, terrific officials all these years. And now they have a bunch of amateurs out there and it's going to fall apart. It's not going to get better, as the commissioner said

... It's going to get worse."

Markbreit isn't alone, as coaches and players have made similar comments amid several questionable calls in Week 2.

"When you look around at some of the calls being missed, player safety is the big issue," New York Giants defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka said Tuesday.

The league's regular officials have been locked out since June, when their contract expired. Talks with the NFL Referees Association broke down several times, forcing the league to use replacements for the first time since 2001.

There have been numerous issues. Over the weekend, one official was removed for being a New Orleans Saints fan. Also, Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy told SportsRadio 94 WIP in Philadelphia that an official told him that he needed him for his fantasy football team.

"I'll be honest, they're like fans," McCoy said of the replacement referees. "One of the refs was talking about his fantasy team like, 'McCoy, come on, I need you for my fantasy.' Ahhh, what?"

NFL senior vice president of communications Greg Aiello told ProFootballTalk.com in an email that NFL officials are prohibited from playing fantasy football.

Markbreit chastised numerous missed calls, and agreed with the assertion that the use of replacements indicates that the league isn't concerned about players' health.

"It's absolutely true," Markbreit said. "They just don't care about the inadequacy and unprofessionalism of these scab referees who are trying to do something that they don't have the ability to do. ... It just makes me sick to my stomach."

In an email to ESPN, Aiello wrote that the league is "looking at how to improve officiating for the long term, and that is an important part of the negotiations with the NFLRA."

---Atlanta Falcons running back Michael Turner apologized to his teammates and the fans for his drunken driving arrest.

Turner told reporters Wednesday that he made "a bad decision." Police stopped him in a Gwinnett County suburb early Tuesday morning. He was clocked doing 97 mph in a 65-mph zone and jailed on a DUI charge.

Turner apologized for the embarrassment he's caused.

---New York Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw is one of four players ruled out for Thursday night's game against the Carolina Panthers.

Offensive tackle David Diehl, wide receiver Domenik Hixon and rookie defensive end Adewale Ojomo won't make the trip to Charlotte.

In addition, wide receiver Hakeem Nicks and cornerback Michael Coe are listed as questionable.

Bradshaw, the team's starting running back, hurt his neck in the second quarter of the Giants' 41-34 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, and didn't return. The team didn't provide any additional details. Andre Brown is expected to get his first NFL start.

Diehl injured the MCL in his right knee, while Hixon suffered a concussion.

---The Oakland Raiders signed cornerback Brandian Ross from the Green Bay Packers' practice squad on Wednesday, and added defensive back Akwasi Owusu-Ansah and defensive tackle Vaughn Meatoga to their practice squad.

Ross, began the season on the Packers' active roster, but was inactive for the season opener against San Francisco. He was waived on Sept. 10 when the Packers activated lineback Erik Walden, and re-signed to Green Bay's practice squad two days later.
Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Football
View Comments (4)