Twice sidelined this season by injuries, Miami Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler is back in the lineup for a team that has lost five consecutive games and allowed seven sacks last week.
“I’m excited,” the impassive Cutler said Wednesday, managing a small smile at the question. “You always feel bad when you get hurt and you can’t help your team.”
Cutler was released from the concussion protocol, took part in practice and will start Sunday against Denver. He missed Sunday’s loss at New England, which dropped Miami to 4-7, and missed a game in Week 8 because of cracked ribs.
How does he feel?
“Pretty good, thank you,” Cutler said. He said the ribs are no longer an issue, but declined to discuss the concussion.
“I’m not going to go back and rehash that stuff,” he said.
The response was even more terse when Cutler was asked how he looks back on his three seasons with the Broncos.
“I don’t right now,” he said.
Denver went 17-20 when Cutler started for them in his first three NFL seasons in 2008-10.
Matt Moore is 0-2 with Miami this season as the substitute starter for Cutler. Moore took a beating against the Patriots and sat out Wednesday’s practice because of a foot injury.
Guard Jermon Bushrod remained out because of a foot injury. Damien Williams is sidelined by a shoulder injury, leaving Miami with only one experienced running back — Kenyan Drake.
That compounds the issues for an offense ranked 30th in the NFL. Miami is on pace for its lowest-scoring season in 50 years.
Oakland receiver Michael Crabtree and Denver cornerback Aqib Talib have had their suspensions reduced to one game on appeal.
The NFL announced Tuesday that appeals officers Derrick Brooks and James Thrash cut down the two-game suspensions after hearings. Brooks heard Crabtree’s case, while Thrash heard Talib’s appeal.
The fight during Oakland’s 21-14 win was a continuation of a dispute that started last season when Talib ripped Crabtree’s chain off during the season finale. Crabtree missed the first game between the teams this year but went after Talib early Sunday.
On the second play of Oakland’s second drive, Crabtree aggressively blocked Talib on a running play and drove him to the ground on the Broncos sideline, setting off the brawl. Talib ripped Crabtree’s chain off again.
49ers turn to Garopollo
The San Francisco 49ers are ready for the start of the Jimmy Garoppolo era after announcing Tuesday that the franchise’s quarterback of the future will make his first start for the team this week.
Coach Kyle Shanahan met with Garoppolo and former starter C.J. Beathard to inform them that Garoppolo will make his first start for San Francisco (1-10) on Sunday at Chicago (3-8).
The Niners acquired Garoppolo on Oct. 31 from New England for a 2018 second-round pick to be the franchise’s long-term quarterback even though he had made only two starts in three-plus seasons for the Patriots.
After taking time to learn the new offense, Garoppolo made his San Francisco debut in Sunday’s 24-13 loss to Seattle after starter Beathard left with injuries to his hip and knee with just over a minute left. Garoppolo completed both passes, including a 10-yard touchdown pass to Louis Murphy
— Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman has cleared the concussion protocol after missing two games and could return for Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings. Coach Dan Quinn said Wednesday Freeman has full clearance to practice “with no limitations.”
— Three Carolina Panthers starters — running back Christian McCaffrey (shoulder), wide receiver Devin Funchess (toe) and tight end Greg Olsen (foot) — did not practice on Wednesday as the team prepared to play division rival New Orleans with first place on the line. Also absent from practice was starting cornerback Daryl Worley (foot), while quarterback Cam Newton (thumb), center Ryan Kalil (neck), safety Mike Adams (knee) and linebacker Shaq Thompson (foot) were limited.
— New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady sat out practice Wednesday with what the team says is an Achilles tendon injury. Brady has started all 11 games this season for New England. He also has yet to miss a game because of an injury since 2008 when he suffered a season-ending knee injury in the opening game.
— The New York Giants have placed cornerback Janoris Jenkins on injured reserve. The Giants announced he will surgery on his ankle, which was hurt on Thanksgiving in a loss to the Redskins. Defensive tackle Khyri Thornton was signed and took his place on the roster for Sunday’s game in Oakland.