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Houston Texans WR Will Fuller suspended six games under PED policy

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HOUSTON — Houston Texans wide receiver Will Fuller V has been suspended for six games for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.

Fuller said the violation was a result of taking prescribed medication not permitted under the policy.

“Earlier this year, I sought treatment from a medical professional who prescribed medication that he believed to be permitted under the NFL’s drug policy,” Fuller wrote on Instagram. “As it turns out, my trust in this professional was misplaced because this medication was NOT a permitted substance under the NFL Policy on Performance Enhancing Substances.

“As a result of this mistake, I have been suspended for six games for taking this prohibited medication. I want to sincerely apologize to the Texans organization and all of my fans for this mistake. I am looking forward to putting this all behind me and returning better than ever in 2021.”

The suspension will take Fuller through the last five games of this season and the first of the 2021 season.

Fuller is coming off his best game of the season — in a year full of impressive performances — on Thanksgiving against the Detroit Lions, adding six catches for 171 yards and two touchdowns to his impressive 2020 totals. Fuller has 53 receptions for 879 yards and eight touchdowns this season, tied for sixth in the NFL. Through 11 games, Fuller had more receiving yards and touchdowns than former Texans No. 1 receiver DeAndre Hopkins had for Houston at this point last season.

After missing 22 games in his first four years in the NFL, Fuller had not missed a game this season. He was playing on his fifth-year option and will be a free agent after the season. With Fuller suspended, Randall Cobb on injured reserve and Kenny Stills recently released, the Texans are left with four receivers: Brandin Cooks, Keke Coutee, Isaiah Coulter and Steven Mitchell, who is on the practice squad.



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Los Angeles Rams DT Aaron Donald on rib injury — ‘Feel real good’

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THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald said the rib injury he suffered in a wild-card playoff win over the Seattle Seahawks is feeling good and that he’s on track to play against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in a divisional-round game.

“Feel good, feel real good,” Donald said Wednesday. “No pain, feel healthy.”

After a minute of questions about his rib injury, including one probing about the extent of the injury, Donald grew tired of the subject.

“Man, my damn side is just sore, I’m good though,” Donald said with a grin. “I ain’t gonna sit here and talk about my damn side the whole time. I’m good. I just had a whole workout, feel strong, feel healthy, so I’m good.”

A day before Donald spoke with reporters, Rams coach Sean McVay said that the star defensive tackle would rest from practices this week, adding that “unless something unforeseen happens, the Terminator will be ready.”

Donald went through a workout in the weight room on Tuesday and Wednesday, but acknowledged that he would follow the recommendations of the training staff to ensure he would not suffer any setback ahead of Saturday’s game.

“Just be cautious, be smart,” said Donald, who has not missed a game due to injury in his seven-year career. “Not trying to tweak nothing, make sure that come game day, I’m ready to go.”

Donald suffered the injury in the third quarter of a 30-20 win over the Seahawks on Saturday when he hit quarterback Russell Wilson, who landed on Donald as the two went to the ground. Donald said it felt like he got the wind knocked out of him.

“I was hurting,” he said.

Nevertheless, after returning to the field from the locker room, Donald said he considered returning to the game until the Rams scored with 4:46 remaining to take a 30-13 lead.

“That kind of put it away, so it was like a ‘Let’s rest up for next week’ type thing,” said Donald, who had two sacks in the game.

A two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Donald had 13.5 sacks in the regular season for the Rams’ top-ranked defense, which finished atop the league in efficiency, yards allowed per game and points allowed per game.

As he prepares for Saturday’s game at a chilly Lambeau Field, Donald did not express concern about how his injury would respond in temperatures forecast to top out in the mid-30s. And he was uncertain whether he will need any additional protective equipment around his ribs.

“I feel good, I feel strong and I’ll be ready to go come Saturday,” Donald said.

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No Green Bay Packers deemed close contacts after OT Jared Veldheer tests positive for COVID-19, source says

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GREEN BAY, Wis. — Two days after arriving in Green Bay, veteran offensive tackle Jared Veldheer was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

Veldheer tested positive for COVID-19, a source told ESPN’s Field Yates. But the good news for the top-seeded Packers as they prepare for Saturday’s NFC divisional-round playoff game against the Los Angeles Rams is that the standard contact tracing investigation did not deem any other players as close contacts, a source told ESPN.

The next step is to wait out each day of daily COVID tests before the Packers’ playoff opener to make sure there are no more positive tests. Veldheer was signed off the Indianapolis Colts‘ practice squad on Monday and practiced with the team on Tuesday. He did not practice on Wednesday. He had been in the testing program with the Colts, which is why he was able to join the Packers on the field immediately.

The Packers turned their large media auditorium into the offensive line media room this season, which likely helped them prevent any other linemen from being considered close contacts.

Had Veldheer played against the Rams, he would have become the first player to appear in a postseason game for two different teams in the same year. He was elevated from the Colts’ practice squad and started at left tackle in their AFC wild-card playoff loss to the Bills on Saturday.

Veldheer is in his second stint with the Packers. He started for them at right tackle in last year’s NFC divisional playoff win over the Seattle Seahawks after Bryan Bulaga became ill before the game. The Packers had lured Veldheer out of retirement and signed him in November of 2019.

The Packers did not say how — or if — they planned to use Veldheer this week. They lost All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari to a torn ACL in practice leading up to the regular-season finale. They started Billy Turner at left tackle in Bakhtiari’s place and put Rick Wagner at right tackle. Veldheer most likely would have served as the top backup tackle unless the Packers wanted to move Turner back to guard to deal with Aaron Donald.

Earlier on Tuesday, coach Matt LaFleur said of Veldheer: “I thought he did a nice job yesterday. But it was primarily walk-through so it was really tough to evaluate that in one walk-through setting. So we’ll play it day by day and see where he’s at.”

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Kansas City Chiefs RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire returns to practice ahead of playoff game

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs could have running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire for Sunday’s divisional-round playoff game against the Cleveland Browns at Arrowhead Stadium.

Edwards-Helaire returned to practice Wednesday for the first time since injuring his ankle and hip in a Week 15 game against the New Orleans Saints. He was a limited practice participant.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid said he was able to watch some of Edwards-Helaire’s rehab progress, noting that the 2020 first-round draft pick “gets after it.”

“A lot of it is the way you approach it and the trust you have in the trainers and so on. I’ll tell you, this kid, he just kind of went right at it,” Reid said. “I mean, he was fearless with it, and as a result, I’d tell you he’s probably a little ahead, and we’ve just got to evaluate it.”

But, Reid cautioned, “we’re not going to do anything to jeopardize him or his career. I mean, that’s not what we’re doing. We’ve taken it day by day with him and we’ll keep doing that and just see how he does here.”

Edwards-Helaire led the team in rushing with 803 yards in the regular season. He also caught 36 passes and scored five touchdowns.

Darrel Williams, Le’Veon Bell and Darwin Thompson filled in for Edwards-Helaire in the two games he missed.

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