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Saints’ Michael Thomas (ankle) ruled out for Raiders game

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New Orleans Saints receiver Michael Thomas has officially been ruled out for Monday night’s game against the Las Vegas Raiders, it was announced Saturday.

Thomas was listed as “week to week” after suffering a high ankle injury in the final minutes of last Sunday’s win against Tampa Bay.

High ankle sprains typically sideline players for three to four weeks.

Thomas has missed only one game due to injury in his career — as a rookie in 2016. His absence leaves a huge void in New Orleans’ offense; Thomas just set the NFL record with 149 catches last season for 1,725 yards and nine touchdowns.

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California will allow fans to attend outdoor professional sporting events in areas at less risk for the coronavirus

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California will let fans back in outdoor stadiums for pro sporting events in counties with low coronavirus infection rates, the state’s top health official said Tuesday.

San Francisco and neighboring Alameda and Santa Clara are the only counties that meet the threshold for pro sports. However, immediately after the announcement, officials in Santa Clara, home to the San Francisco 49ers, issued a statement saying they weren’t prepared to allow even a limited number of fans into Levi’s Stadium.

As many as 14,000 people could attend Levi’s Stadium events under the state’s guidance, setting up the chance of devastating “superspreader” events, said Dr. Jeff Smith, Santa Clara County’s executive officer.

“It’s a matter of reasonable scientific decision-making instead of political decision-making,” Smith told reporters. “Putting an audience in a stadium in large groups is just asking for trouble. It’s like a petri dish.”

Being outdoors isn’t enough to guarantee the virus won’t spread, he said, because fans would be using the same restrooms and same doors to enter and leave the stadium, while screaming and yelling during the game.

The 49ers said the team welcomed the news from the state but “will continue to collaborate with local public health officials to implement a plan that ensures a plan that protects the health and wellness” of the team, its employees and the public. Many NFL teams in other states have been playing games with fans in the stands.

Under the state rules, pro sports teams could have limited capacity at outdoor stadiums if they are in a county in the lowest two levels of the state’s four-tiered model for reopening. Only fans who live within a 120-mile radius may buy tickets.

No county in Southern California has reached those tiers, so fans of the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams and Chargers are still on the sidelines.

San Francisco is the first highly populated county to move into the state’s lowest tier for infections. All the other counties at that level are rural areas scattered near the Oregon border or in the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Chiefs can’t wait to add Le’Veon Bell to a loaded offensive lineup – Kansas City Chiefs Blog

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COVID-19 protocols forced new Kansas City Chiefs running back Le’Veon Bell to watch his new team from afar Monday.

But Bell provided support over social media during the Chiefs’ 26-17 victory over the Buffalo Bills. At one point he simply tweeted “I can’t wait” and added a smiling face emoji with heart-shaped eyes.

The Chiefs feel much the same way about adding Bell to an already loaded offensive lineup that includes quarterback Patrick Mahomes, tight end Travis Kelce, wide receiver Tyreek Hill, running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire and others.

“He’s going to be another weapon,” Mahomes said. “He’s somebody who’s had tremendous success in this league for a long time now and he’s still in the prime of his career. He’s 28 years old, so he’s going to come in and make plays happen.

“Having him, Clyde, Darrel [Williams], Darwin [Thompson], all these guys that can come in and run the football and keep just going at the defense over and over again, it’ll open up the passing game and it’ll help me out a little bit, too.”

The Chiefs didn’t need Bell against the Bills. They ran 46 times for 245 yards, both being bests in their 7 1/2 seasons under coach Andy Reid. Edwards-Helaire ran for 161 yards.

Edwards-Helaire stands to lose some playing time to Bell, but if the Chiefs run anywhere near as much as they did against the Bills, there will be more than enough for both players.

Edwards-Helaire sounded ready to share.

“Another guy coming in, another piece to the puzzle,” he said of Bell. “I just feel like we can only go up. Le’Veon, the guy’s older than me. I’m still in my rookie year. So ultimately, anything I can do to pick his brain and gain any knowledge from him, I’m there for it.”

It will ultimately be the job of Reid, offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy and running backs coach Deland McCullough to decide how the playing time will be split. Reid indicated he didn’t consider the job to be a problem.

“We don’t turn away good players, and he’s a good one,” Reid said. “It’s exciting to have him around, and we’ll see how he does. He’s got to get in and get in the playbook and learn everything, but he’s a pretty smart kid and been doing it a long time, so I don’t think he’ll have a problem with that.

“I think if you talk to Clyde, Clyde will sleep well tonight, as I think the other backs will. To add one more guy, I don’t think any of them will complain there.”



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Dallas Cowboys DE Randy Gregory removed from Commissioner’s Exempt list, eligible to play Sunday

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FRISCO, Texas — Dallas Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory will be available to play Sunday against the Washington Football Team now that he has been removed from the Commissioner’s Exempt list.

Gregory, who had been on the list since being reinstated by the NFL in September, has not played in a game since the 2018 divisional-round playoff loss to the Los Angeles Rams because of an indefinite suspension. He has been able to work out and take part in meetings since reinstatement and he began practicing two weeks ago.

His return comes at a good time for a pass rush that has struggled for most of the season, and last week teammates and coaches said Gregory performed exceptionally well in practice. Gregory, the Cowboys’ 2015 second-round pick, had six sacks in 2018, which was second-best on the defense.

A number of violations of the NFL’s substance abuse policy led to multiple suspensions for Gregory, who has played in just 28 of a potential 86 career games. Upon his reinstatement, the Cowboys signed him to a one-year extension through 2021 that included a $200,000 signing bonus.

The Cowboys waived defensive back Saivion Smith and intend to re-sign him to the practice squad if he clears waivers. Wide receiver Ventell Bryant, who had been dealing with a knee injury, was waived off injured reserve.

Gregory’s return could help a defense that is on pace to allow a record 581 points. Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch returned in Monday’s loss to the Arizona Cardinals from a four-game absence because of a broken collarbone. Cornerback Chidobe Awuzie (hamstring) and linebacker Sean Lee (pelvis) are also eligible to return from injured reserve but with a short work week to get ready to play Washington, they could be held out at least one more week.

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