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Hightower front-runner for 'Skins RB job

While the Washington Redskins quarterback race has kept everyone on tenterhooks, the running back competition has become a one-man show.

Tim Hightower has separated himself from the pack and is all but certain to be the starter for the regular-season opener against the Giants on Sept. 11.

Coach Mike Shanahan said yesterday he isn't ready to announce Hightower has the job yet, but says "if you were betting in Vegas, you'd probably bet in that direction."

Hightower was acquired in a trade with Arizona after the lockout. He is averaging 6.8 yards per carry in the preseason.

He was expected to compete against Ryan Torain for the starting position, but Torain has yet to play because of a broken hand.

Peyton active soon?

Peyton Manning could be back on the active roster in the next two weeks. If not, the Colts will have to play the first six games without the four-time MVP.

League rules require players on the physically unable to perform list to be activated by the team's final cutdown, Sept. 3, or to sit out an additional six weeks.

Conventional wisdom suggests Manning will be activated soon, something coach Jim Caldwell acknowledged Friday after a 24-21 loss to Green Bay.

Other Palmer waived

The Cincinnati Bengals have waived quarterback Jordan Palmer, who came to training camp hoping to compete for a job but didn't get much of a chance. Palmer was the backup quarterback last season to brother Carson Palmer, who decided to retire rather than play another season for the Bengals. Rookie Andy Dalton was named the starting quarterback. -- AP

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