Lawyers for the NFL plan to file an opposition against the efforts to have Paul Tagliabue removed as the appeals officer that have been made by the suspended players in the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal, according to an ESPN report.
The opposition will be filed ahead of Friday's federal court deadline. The decision on whether Tagliabue recuses himself from hearing the appeals of four players is his to make, a source told ESPN.
Last week, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell removed himself from hearing the appeals and appointed his predecessor last week, but the Players Union wants him disqualified because of a perceived conflict of interest.
The hearings are scheduled for next Tuesday, barring any court rulings.
---After spending the past four seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, Asante Samuel understands the jeers from fans that former players typically receive.
But the Atlanta Falcons cornerback, who returns to Philadelphia for the first time since being traded, told reporters that he'd be surprised if fans didn't give him a warm greeting.
"They better cheer for me," Samuel said. "They're going to cheer for me or we're going to have a problem right there in Lincoln Financial Stadium. All y'all fans, all I did for y'all, y'all better cheer for me."
Samuel said that being traded motivated him more to face the Eagles.
"It's not any game, I'm going back home," Samuel said. "It'll be exciting. They'll be happy to see me. Everybody gonna cheer for me."
---Minnesota Vikings cornerback Chris Cook will likely miss the rest of the season with a broken right arm.
He left Thursday's 36-17 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after making a second-quarter tackle.
"He's distraught," head coach Leslie Frazier told reporters Friday, adding that Cook will miss seven to eight weeks after having surgery.
Cook had started all seven games and entered Thursday with one sack and 22 tackles.
---Cleveland Browns running back Trent Richardson appears on schedule to play to play Sunday against San Diego, though head coach Pat Shurmur refused to make any promises.
"I think today was his third good day of practice," Shurmur told reporters Friday. "He's better this Friday than he was last. I can't tell you exactly what's going to happen Sunday, but he had a good practice."
The rookie is dealing with damaged cartilage in his ribs. He promised that he would play Sunday, according to The Plain Dealer.
---St. Louis Rams wide receiver Danny Amendola was catching passes from quarterback Sam Bradford in practice for the third straight day Friday, and his performance on the practice field has coach Jeff Fisher optimistic about his chances to play this week in London.
Amendola has been sidelined since Oct. 4 when he suffered a sprained sternoclavicular joint against the Cardinals. While he isn't expected to play this week, the Rams will officially list him as questionable. By NFL definition, he has a 50-50 chance to suit up and take the field at Wembley Stadium against the New England Patriots.
Originally, it was said that Amendola would miss at least four weeks, and that is likely still the case. Running around catching passes without contact is much different than playing a game. It does provide some optimism, however, that he could be available for the Nov. 11 game against San Francisco, the week after the team's bye. That would be more than five weeks after the injury occurred.
Asked about what it would mean to get Amendola back, Bradford said, "It would mean a lot. Obviously I've said it before: a lot of our offense runs through Danny when he's healthy. You look at the Washington game when he caught 15 balls and everything really started with him. There's no doubt that we miss him, but I think in the past couple weeks, the guys that have had to step up and make plays because he's not there, I think they've done a great job and I look for them to do the same this week. Everyone has really elevated their game since he went down."
Were you surprised to see him back on the field? Said Bradford, "It was really good to see him, obviously. Me and him are pretty close; we talked about it last week. He told me that he was going to be out there with us today doing some stuff. I was a little surprised -- just from the initial reports, I thought it was going to be quite a bit longer for him to get back on the field. But anytime you get him back out there, I think it just brought a whole spark to the whole group today and just lifted everyone's spirits a little bit seeing him back out there. Even though he didn't do a whole lot, just having him on the field really energized our group."
---The New England Patriots will likely play Sunday's game in London without tight end Aaron Hernandez, who didn't make the trip, according to an NFL.com report.
Citing a source, the NFL Network reported that Hernandez stayed behind as his team prepares to face the St. Louis Rams. He played the last two weeks after missing time with a high ankle sprain.
The Patriots have their bye week following the game at Wembley Stadium, and may be taking this opportunity to get Hernandez ready for the second half.
---Peyton Manning is now a pizza man.
The Denver Broncos quarterback signed a deal with Papa John's pizza Friday to own 21 Denver-area stores. The pizza company also announced a multiyear contract to remain the official pizza of the NFL and the Super Bowl.
"He's the kind of partner we're looking for, not only in marketing but in business," said Papa John's chief marketing officer, Andrew Varga.
Manning was part of a 2011 Super Bowl promotion and has since appeared in commercials with founder and CEO John Schnatter.
A new commercial will air during Sunday's Broncos-Saints game in which Manning will state that, as a new franchisee, he can give away free pizzas.
"It's a smart investment now and will be long after I'm done playing football," Manning told reporters.
---The Baltimore Ravens were fined $20,000 by the NFL for not disclosing an injury to Ed Reed, which the safety mentioned in a radio interview Oct. 17, according to NFL.com.
Ravens said he had been playing with a torn labrum in his shoulder, which he acknowledged had been affecting his play. However, Reed wasn't listed on the team's injury report, violating the NFL's procedures for reporting injury information.
The Washington Redskins and Buffalo Bills received equal fines last week for not following the league's protocol on injury information.
The policy reads: "All players with significant or noteworthy injuries must be listed on the report, even if the player takes all the reps in practice, and even if the team is certain that he will play in the upcoming game. This is especially true of key players and those players whose injuries have been covered extensively by the media."
---A torn Achilles tendon didn't stop Dallas Cowboys safety Barry Church from signing a four-year extension with the team on Friday, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Church was in the last year of the three-year contract he signed during his rookie season. He was hurt earlier this season and was placed on injured reserve after three games.
---The Dallas Cowboys ruled out starting running back DeMarco Murray for Sunday's game against the New York Giants, ESPN Dallas reported Friday. He has a sprained foot.
Murray's backup, Felix Jones, is questionable with a bruised knee. He was limited in Friday's practice. If Jones cannot start, Phillip Tanner will replace him.
Outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware missed his third straight practice with an illness but he is expected to play. He is listed as probable.
Outside linebacker Anthony Spencer (pectoral) and center Ryan Cook (hamstring) are probable while center Phil Costa (ankle), safety Matt Johnson (hamstring) and defensive end Sean Lissemore (ankle) have been ruled out.
---Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall has been ruled out of Sunday's game against the Washington Redskins with an Achilles injury.
Jonathan Dwyer is expected to start his second consecutive game, even if Isaac Redman is able to return from his ankle injury. Redman is listed as questionable.
Dwyer rushed for 122 yards in last week's victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Safety Troy Polamalu (calf) was ruled out earlier this week.
---Defensive tackle Corey Peters was activated by the Atlanta Falcons from the reserve/non-football injury list.
Peters suffered a stress fracture in his foot he suffered in the offseason working out with a trainer before the team's official program started. He returned to practice Monday, and the Falcons hope he can help improve their 28th-ranked run defense that is allowing 143.8 yards per game.
How much action Peters will see against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday remains to be seen, as coach Mike Smith acknowledged earlier this week that Peters isn't in football shape yet.
Peters was a third-round pick in 2010 who started 30 of 31 games over his first two seasons.
Cornerback Terrence Johnson was waived by the Falcons.
---The Jacksonville Jaguars signed second-year cornerback Kevin Rutland to the 53-man roster, the club announced Friday.
Rutland appeared in three games with the Jaguars over the first five weeks of the season, then was waived Oct. 15.
In those games, Rutland had three tackles on defense and one special teams tackle.
---The playing status of Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson will be a game-time decision, according to NFL.com.
Nelson was listed on the team's injury report Friday as questionable with a hamstring injury.
Nelson did not practice Thursday or Friday as the Packers prepare to play the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.
Nelson has caught 17 receptions for 243 yards with four touchdowns the past two games.
If Nelson cannot play, Randall Cobb will have a more significant role as the team has been without Greg Jennings with an abdominal tear.
Also, cornerback Sam Shields (ankle) is ruled out and defensive tackle B.J. Raji (ankle) is probable, despite not practicing Thursday and Friday, according to NBC Sports' Pro Football Talk.
---Running back Javon Ringer was placed on season-ending injured reserve by the Tennessee Titans with a torn ACL.
Chris Johnson's primary backup, Ringer dealt with an infection in his arm earlier this season before suffering the knee injury during a loss to the Minnesota Vikings. He finishes the 2012 season with just two carries for 14 yards. Ringer has 486 career rushing yards.
Jamie Harper will continue as Johnson's backup. Harper has 10 carries for 12 yards (1.2-yard average) this season.
Safety Tracy Wilson was promoted from the Titans' practice squad.
---Washington Redskins linebacker London Fletcher was officially listed as questionable to play at the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday with the hamstring injury that threatens his streak of consecutive games played that currently stands at 231.
Fletcher, 37, had balancing issues earlier in the week, but was able to practice Friday and will be a game-time decision.
"For a guy to play that many games, you can guarantee it means something to him," Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan said of Fletcher's streak, which has spanned 15 seasons. "There is no question about it. For that person to be about to play 200-plus games, to me that is one of the biggest compliments you can give somebody to be able to play as consistently as he has because everybody is hurting."
Shanahan said tests confirmed that London's balancing issues were not due to a concussion.
Meanwhile, wide receiver Pierre Garcon was ruled out with his foot injury, and safety Brandon Meriweather (knee) also will not play Sunday.
Tight end Chris Cooley, signed on Monday after Fred Davis ruptured his Achilles tendon, has a chance to be active against the Steelers.
"You don't want to throw him into the briar patch too quick, because you know it takes a while to get those legs going for the guys that take off five, six, seven weeks and be able to jump in a game," Shanahan said. "So you have to be a little bit careful. I think we have a good feel for where Chris is at."
---Running back Jonathan Stewart will start for the Carolina Panthers against the Chicago Bears on Sunday.
DeAngelo Williams, who has started five of the team's first six games, had just five carries in last week's loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
"The message being we want to pound the ball - well, not really pound it - but we want one guy to develop a rhythm," head coach Ron Rivera said, per the Charlotte Observer. "And then when he gets hot, ride him."
Williams leads the Panthers with 177 rushing yards this season, but is averaging just 3.5 yards per carry. Stewart has 142 yards on 4.1 yards per carry, with 15 fewer carries than Williams' team-high 50.
---Cornerback Ras-I Dowling was placed on injured reserve by the New England Patriots with a thigh injury.
The No. 33 overall pick in 2011, Dowling has played in just eight games due to injuries. He was placed on injured reserve after just two games in his rookie season with a hip injury.
Dowling, 24, has two career starts and 10 total tackles. He has seven tackles in six games this season.