NFL notebook: Panthers tab Becker to run organization
The Carolina Panthers announced Monday that long-time executive Tina Becker will serve as Chief Operating Officer of the team in the wake of the scandal involving owner Jerry Richardson.
Becker will have full control of the day-to-day management of the organization, making her one of the highest-ranking females in the NFL.
The upheaval in the organization began when allegations of sexual misconduct arose against Richardson, who announced Sunday night that he is putting the team up for sale. That action came two days after the Panthers announced their investigation into Richardson's conduct.
--Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown isn't letting his calf injury get him down.
Brown wrote on Twitter that the injury he sustained in the Steelers' 27-24 loss to the New England Patriots was a "minor setback." Multiple media outlets reported that Brown has a partially torn left calf and that the wideout is eyeing a return for the playoffs.
Brown was taken to a local hospital for X-rays on Sunday after his lower leg collided with New England defensive back Eric Rowe in the end zone with 13:09 remaining in the second quarter. Earlier in the game, Brown caught his 100th pass of the season to become the only player in NFL history with 100 receptions in five consecutive seasons.
--Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis was suspended two games by the NFL for his blindside hit that resulted in a concussion for Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams.
Davis is expected to appeal the suspension, multiple outlets reported.
The 34-year-old Davis apologized to Adams over social media for the hit following an interception during the third quarter of Sunday's game at Bank of America Stadium.
The concussion sustained by Adams was his second of the season and third of his NFL career. He was taken off the field on a gurney following a hit from Chicago Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan during a game in Week 4.
--Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott returned to the team one day after Sunday's 20-17 victory over the Oakland Raiders.
The goal was to stay in contention until Elliott returned from suspension, and the Cowboys have accomplished that. Elliott returns after sitting out the past six games for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy, stemming from a July 2016 incident in which an ex-girlfriend accused him of domestic violence.
Before his suspension, Elliott ranked among the league rushing leaders with 783 rushing yards and 210 receiving yards. He found his stride in the four games prior to his suspension, too, averaging 126.5 yards a game while scoring six touchdowns (five rushing, one receiving).
--Embattled Houston Texans coach Bill O'Brien insisted that he will not quit or resign in his post.
Houston fell to 4-10 when it was pummeled 45-7 by the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.
O'Brien, 48, has one season remaining on his contract and there have been no discussions regarding an extension. Houston is 31-31 during O'Brien's four seasons. O'Brien has a 1-2 coaching mark in the postseason.
--The Arizona Cardinals haven't scored a touchdown in their last 10 quarters and that helped prompt a change to quarterback Drew Stanton for Sunday's game against the New York Giants.
Cardinals coach Bruce Arians announced the switch at his press conference Monday. Stanton, who is recovered from a knee injury, will replace Blaine Gabbert as the starter.
Stanton suffered the injury in Week 10. Gabbert started the past five games, with the Cardinals going 2-3. Arizona was eliminated from playoff contention with Sunday's loss to the Washington Redskins.
Regular starter Carson Palmer suffered a broken left arm on Oct. 22. His return this season hasn't been ruled out but appears more unlikely with the Cardinals now out of the playoff hunt.
--Oakland Raiders standout left tackle Donald Penn will undergo season-ending foot surgery after being injured in Sunday's game against the Dallas Cowboys.
Penn's injury to his right foot will snap his streak of 170 consecutive regular-season starts dating back to his rookie season of 2007. Penn, a two-time Pro Bowler, will reportedly undergo surgery on Thursday.
Penn exited after just six snaps in the 20-17 loss to the Cowboys. The 34-year-old Penn signed a two-year, $18.7 million deal with the Raiders prior to the season after a training camp holdout.
--Buffalo Bills wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin said that he will be undergoing surgery as soon as the season ends to repair the torn meniscus in his right knee.
Benjamin suffered the injury on Nov. 19 against the Chargers, sat out the next two games, and has now played in two straight. In those two games, he has only five catches for 58 yards and a touchdown, and against Miami it was clear that he was limited because he had tweaked the knee the week before in the snow game against Indianapolis.
--The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are without three defensive starters for Monday night's home game against the Atlanta Falcons.
Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (biceps), linebacker Lavonte David (hamstring) and cornerback Vernon Hargreaves (hamstring) were on Tampa Bay's inactive list. Hargreaves will miss his fifth consecutive game. Meanwhile, running back Doug Martin (team-high 402 rushing yards) was inactive and safety T.J. Ward was fully cleared from a concussion that sidelined him for the past two games.
The Falcons are without running back Tevin Coleman (concussion) and guard Andy Levitre (triceps). Running back Devonta Freeman, who missed the first meeting against the Bucs with a concussion, will be available to play.