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Tampa Bay Buccaneers rule out Cyril Grayson, Ronald Jones for NFC wild-card game vs. Philadelphia Eagles

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TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians on Friday ruled out wide receiver Cyril Grayson and running back Ronald Jones for Sunday’s wild-card playoff game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Arians also said there would be about four game-time decisions with key players.

Grayson, who stepped in for Antonio Brown in Week 17 and caught the game-winning touchdown from Tom Brady with 21 seconds remaining, suffered a hamstring injury in Week 18 and did not practice this week. He did make a brief cameo Wednesday, working with the training staff on the field before practice.

Jones, who stepped in after starter Leonard Fournette suffered a hamstring strain in Week 15, suffered an ankle injury in Week 17 and missed last week’s game and all of practice this week.

The question marks will be Fournette and linebackers Shaq Barrett, Jason Pierre-Paul and Lavonte David. David, Fournette and running back Giovani Bernard all were back at practice this week as part of their 21-day window to return from injured reserve and can be activated at any time.

“I feel pretty good about Shaq and JPP,” Arians said Friday. “Lavonte will be the most questionable, with Lenny.”

The team down shut Pierre-Paul after Week 15 so he could rest a torn rotator cuff that he’s been playing with, while Barrett suffered a sprained ACL and MCL in Week 16 and dealt with a bout of COVID-19 last week.

Barrett had a team-leading 10 sacks this season, and he led the Bucs last postseason in the category with four. Arians said he “looked fine” adjusting to wearing a bulky knee brace on his right knee.

David, a defensive captain and the team’s longest-tenured player, suffered a foot sprain in Week 15. The Bucs have struggled the last two weeks against the run, and it is again an area of concern vs. the Eagles’ top-rated rushing attack.

If Fournette can’t go, the team will rely on Ke’Shawn Vaughn and veteran Le’Veon Bell. Arians also feels Bernard is “pretty close,” so the team should have three, possibly four running backs on Sunday.

With Grayson being down, the Bucs signed veteran receiver John Brown, who was with Arians when he coached the Arizona Cardinals from 2014-2017, to the practice squad. The Bucs will lean on Breshad Perriman, Tyler Johnson and Scotty Miller, along with veteran Mike Evans.

The team will have a final walk-through Saturday to finalize their preparations for Sunday’s game.

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Cincinnati Bengals QB Joe Burrow prepared for loud crowd in AFC title game against Kansas City Chiefs

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CINCINNATI — Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow knows that his ears will probably be ringing on Sunday.

One of the loudest stadiums in the NFL has been a main topic of conversation as Cincinnati prepares for Sunday’s AFC Championship Game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Burrow said it’s par for the course this deep in the postseason.

“It’s always going to be a topic when you’re playing on the road in the playoffs,” Burrow said. “It was loud last week. We handled it OK. We had a couple of mistakes.

“But I think we’ve had a good week of practice within that noise. I think we’re going to be more well prepared for it.”

All week, the Bengals have prepared for the expected decibel levels at Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium. Cincinnati piped in artificial crowd noise for practices inside Paul Brown Stadium that could be heard from blocks away.

During a Monday Night Football game in 2014, the crowd for Kansas City’s win over the New England Patriots set a mark recognized by the Guinness World Records for the largest crowd roar at a stadium at 142.2 decibels.

However, the stadium capacity is smaller than several college football stadiums, including those in the SEC.

“I think a lot of the guys, and specifically Joe, is ready for that because guys like him and (Ja’Marr) Chase and guys who played in the SEC played against opponents where it was hundreds of thousands of fans in the stadium,” Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd said.

Still, the Bengals should be well prepared for the potential pre-snap disruption in Kansas City. Cincinnati has spent the week working on its nonverbal communication in anticipation of all the noise.

Cincinnati committed two false start penalties in the team’s road win over Tennessee in last week’s divisional playoff game. Bengals left tackle Jonah Williams, who played college ball at Alabama, said both stadiums can be plenty loud.

“It’s a big deal,” Williams said. “I don’t think that these things are mutually exclusive. I think the SEC [stadiums] can be loud and Arrowhead can also be loud. I don’t think anyone means to slight them by saying that.”

The fourth-seeded Bengals are looking to block out the noise, upset Kansas City and advance to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1989. Williams added that at a certain point, all noise eventually falls on deaf ears, no matter the volume.

“It could be 140 decibels,” Williams said. “It could be 300 decibels. It doesn’t matter. You can have no ear drums. But as long as you’re communicating nonverbally and have a good understanding of the scheme and how to work together, that’s our plan.”

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Pittsburgh Steelers GM Kevin Colbert stepping down after April draft, could stay with team in new role

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PITTSBURGH — Longtime Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert will step down after the 2022 NFL draft in April, team owner Art Rooney II said Friday.

“We have left the door open, Kevin and I, to possibly have him fill an ongoing role after the draft,” Rooney said. “We will be conducting a search for a new GM starting immediately. Probably won’t make a hire until after the draft. We will be interviewing people. We’ve already interviewed two of our in-house candidates: Omar Khan and Brandon Hunt.”

Colbert’s imminent departure will leave coach Mike Tomlin as the lone standing member of the longtime nucleus of the Steelers. Tomlin signed a three-year extension with the team last year, and Rooney said Friday that Tomlin’s role will not change under a new general manager.

Colbert has worked on year-to-year deals since the end of the 2019 season and often maintained he would be around as long as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Roethlisberger announced his retirement after 18 seasons on Thursday.

The Steelers often prefer to keep hires in-house, making Khan, the team’s vice president of football operations and business administration, and Hunt, the pro scouting coordinator, top candidates for the job. Khan has been with the Steelers for 21 years, while Hunt has been with the team for 14.

Colbert, who has been with the Steelers for 22 seasons, took over as general manager in 2010 after a decade as the director of football operations. He has been with the team for two Super Bowl titles and three AFC championships.

He served as the pro scouting director for the Detroit Lions from 1990 to 1999.

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Jerry Jones says Dan Quinn turned down head coaching job to stay with Dallas Cowboys

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FRISCO, Texas — Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones on Friday said Mike McCarthy’s future as head coach was never in question and that he and McCarthy worked together to make sure defensive coordinator Dan Quinn would remain with the team.

“The idea of Mike twisting in the wind wasn’t the case at all,” Jones told 105.3 The Fan in Dallas. “We were trying to keep Dan Quinn and maintain continuity on the coaching staff.”

Jones said he believes Quinn turned down a head coaching opportunity to sign an extension with the Cowboys “for years to come.”

Quinn was initially signed through 2023. He is still getting paid by the Atlanta Falcons, where he was the head coach from 2015 to 2020.

Jones said Quinn is the third coordinator that the owner has gotten to turn down a head coaching opportunity to remain with the Cowboys. Jones said Sean Payton walked away from a chance to coach the Oakland Raiders in 2004, and that Jason Garrett had opportunities from the Baltimore Ravens and Atlanta Falcons in 2007.

“I experienced seeing coaches turn down a head coaching job for our situation, so I really was trying hard, meeting with Dan and Mike,” Jones said.

Jones called it a “competitive situation” as to why he deferred on answering questions last week regarding McCarthy’s future.

“To give us every chance to keep Dan Quinn,” Jones said. “I couldn’t get out and speak to it publicly because I didn’t want to push a team toward [Quinn].”

Quinn interviewed with the Denver Broncos, Chicago Bears, New York Giants, Minnesota Vikings and Miami Dolphins. He turned down a chance to interview with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore remains in the mix for current head coaching vacancies, but Jones expects him to return in 2022 as well.

McCarthy signed a five-year deal as head coach in 2020. He has an 18-15 record through two seasons and finished 12-5 in 2021, winning the NFC East.

Payton’s decision to walk away from the New Orleans Saints this week opened up more questions about McCarthy’s future, considering Jones’ affinity for Payton.

“He’s well aware of our relationship and long-term friendship with Payton,” Jones said. “I haven’t talked to Sean. I’m not part of any dialogue or any decision making relative to him leaving New Orleans. My point is, we had our heads down, getting this staff in shape, particularly at the top, the coordinator level.”

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