December 28, 2017 / 1:19 AM / 8 months ago

NFL: National Football League roundup

(The Sports Xchange) - New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick insisted on Wednesday that he solely is focused on facing his team’s most immediate opponent, as opposed to a potential one.

Dec 24, 2017; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick watches from the sideline as they take on the Buffalo Bills in the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The latter line of thinking stemmed from the Patriots signing free-agent James Harrison on Tuesday, perhaps to gain a bit of inside knowledge on the outside linebacker’s former team, the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“We’re playing the Jets this week. I don’t even know what that has to do with it,” Belichick said in his Wednesday morning news conference. “Maybe I’m missing something, I don’t know.”

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Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said he has no ill will toward Harrison after the linebacker signed with the Patriots.

Roethlisberger, in fact, said that he wished the best for Harrison.

“James has to do what James has to do. It’s not like he called and asked me if he should or not,” Roethlisberger said.

“James was out there — he’s a free agent, he has to do what’s best for him and his family. I wish him the best. I’ve had a lot of good years with him.”

The Steelers released Harrison on Saturday to make room for right tackle Marcus Gilbert, who was returning from a four-game suspension.

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One day after being called a cancer on the team, Eli Apple was suspended by the New York Giants for the regular-season finale against the Washington Redskins.

Interim general manager Kevin Abrams said the second-year cornerback was suspended for “a pattern of behavior that is conduct detrimental to the team.”

According to multiple reports, Apple was angry that he was assigned to practice with the scout team. He got into an argument with cornerbacks coach Tim Walton and had to be restrained, according to NorthJersey.com.

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Denver Broncos running back Jamaal Charles told reporters that he would like the team to release him so he could have a chance to latch on with a playoff team.

Charles hasn’t played as much as he expected after signing a one-year deal in May. That contract has a $900,000 base salary that could have been worth up to $3.75 million overall if the 31-year-old had reached all of the bonuses available in the contract.

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Detroit Lions offensive tackle Emmett Cleary pledged to donate his brain to the Concussion Legacy Foundation to aid with research into chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

Cleary, 27, joins Cincinnati Bengals offensive lineman Eric Winston as active NFL players in pledging this year to donate their brains.

The awareness of CTE over the past decade has plagued the NFL as more and more accounts are shared publicly. The death of Hall of Famer Junior Seau in 2012 at age 43 just 2 1/2 years after his playing career ended was particularly alarming. Boston University has released three studies on CTE since July. In one study, test results on 111 brains of deceased former NFL players revealed evidence of CTE in 110.

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Rookie Patrick Mahomes will start for the Kansas City Chiefs in their regular-season finale against the Denver Broncos, coach Andy Reid announced.

Mahomes will get first-team reps while traditional starter Alex Smith will work with the scout team this week for the AFC West champion Chiefs, who are locked in as the conference’s fourth seed.

Kansas City traded up from the 27th pick in April’s draft to take Mahomes with the 10th overall selection.

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Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said he expects quarterback Sam Bradford to return to practice next week.

Bradford injured his left knee in the season opener in New Orleans but didn’t come out of the game.

He hasn’t played since Week 5 at Chicago, where he was replaced by Case Keenum in the first half after aggravating the injury. He was placed on injured reserve on Nov. 8 and is eligible to return to the roster next week after sitting out the required eight weeks.

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Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano had an interesting choice of words as his team prepares for its season finale.

“The last rodeo is what I told them,” Pagano said of his speech to players as the Colts (3-12) prepare to play Sunday’s season finale against the visiting Houston Texans (4-11).

“A picture of a guy on a bucking bronco with the spurs on it. It’s our last ride together.”

While no decision has been publicly made, Pagano’s fate with the team could be sealed after that last ride.

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