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Panthers LB Kuechly iffy with concussion

(AP Photo/Bob Leverone, File)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Panthers coach Ron Rivera says three-time All-Pro middle linebacker Luke Kuechly will play against the San Diego Chargers on Sunday if he's cleared from the NFL's concussion protocol.

The NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2013 has missed the last two games with a concussion.

Kuechly is listed as questionable and Rivera says he hopes he can play, saying "anytime you got your leader out there, it is a doggone good thing."


Broncos QB Siemian close to returning

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Trevor Siemian is on track to return to the Denver Broncos' starting lineup Sunday at Tennessee barring a setback.

Coach Gary Kubiak officially listed Siemian as 50-50 but indicated that if he shows up Saturday like he did Friday - without pain or soreness and able to move around - he'll be back under center when the Broncos (8-4) face the Titans (6-6).


Raiders LB Smith makes plea to Goodell

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) Suspended Oakland Raiders pass rusher Aldon Smith met with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Friday in hopes of being reinstated from his substance-abuse ban.

A person with knowledge of the meeting said Smith sat down with the commissioner and other league staff to make his case to be allowed back on the field following his yearlong suspension for violating rules on substance abuse.


NFL to play 4 2017 games in London

LONDON (AP) The NFL will stage four regular-season games in London next year.

Teams and venues for the four games will be announced on Tuesday.


49ers TE McDonald gets 5-year extension

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) The San Francisco 49ers signed tight end Vance McDonald to a five-year contract extension Friday through the 2021 season.

The 6-foot-4 McDonald has 24 catches for 391 yards and four touchdowns this season. The former Rice star, drafted 55th overall in 2013, has 64 catches for 866 yards and seven touchdowns in 47 career games.


Saints S Vaccaro to serve 4-game PED ban

METAIRIE, La. (AP) New Orleans Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro will serve a four-game suspension, starting this Sunday at Tampa Bay, because he violated league rules pertaining to performance enhancing drug use, the NFL announced Friday.

The league did not specify which banned substance was found in Vaccaro's system. The league not only bans steroids, but also diuretics that have been known to mask steroid use, so a positive test for either could have triggered a suspension.


Giants' Beckham fined for tirade at ref

NEW YORK (AP) Odell Beckham Jr. was fined $12,154 for verbal abuse/excessive profanity toward an official following the Giants' 24-14 loss at Pittsburgh last weekend.

The fine wasn't related to Beckham's postgame comments to reporters when he described an unsettling exchange with one official, complained about several non-calls and suggested referee Terry McAulay's crew shouldn't work any more Giants games.


Jags WR Hurns, TE Thomas out vs. Vikes

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) The Jacksonville Jaguars will be without receiver Allen Hurns and tight end Julius Thomas again Sunday against Minnesota.

Coach Gus Bradley ruled out Hurns (hamstring) and Thomas (back) on Friday as well as running back Denard Robinson (ankle), defensive end Jared Odrick (shoulder) and safety Peyton Thompson (ankle).


Rams' Fisher, Snead deny rumors of rift

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) Although Jeff Fisher and Les Snead are both disappointed in the Los Angeles Rams' performance during their five-year tenure, the coach and the general manager both insist those feelings aren't personal.

Fisher and Snead dismissed widespread speculation about the health of their partnership Friday, saying they work together closely and professionally. If they're allowed to return for a sixth season, the Rams' top two football men insist they can do it effectively.


Jets rule 6 players out vs. 49ers

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) New York Jets right tackle Breno Giacomini and defensive tackle Steve McLendon were among six players ruled out Friday for the game at San Francisco on Sunday.

Linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin, wide receiver Jalin Marshall, cornerback Antonio Allen and running back Khiry Robinson also will not play because of injuries. Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson is questionable to play with an injured ankle.