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NFL Fab Five

Jim Caldwell

Jim Caldwell Credit: Getty Images

A Friday edition of the Five Things You Should Know About The NFL right now: 

1. Colts owner Jim Irsay sticking with Polians, not so sure about Jim Caldwell. In the wake of a stunning 0-8 start, due mostly to Peyton Manning’s neck injury, the team’s owner says he’ll stand by Colts vice chairman Bill Polian and his son, GM Chris Polian, despite the poor record.

“I'm committed,” Irsay told the Indianapolis Star. “In their defense, it's pretty radical after the successes we've had to start even talking about the question, in my opinion. If this is five or six years of losing . . . (but) you're talking about eight weeks. With Bill and Chris, that transition is a strong transition plan. I think it's really not a fair question to be asked. Chris is certainly the one who's much more involved now. Bill as vice chairman doesn't have as much of a presence but still has a presence. I think it's a good succession plan.”

Irsay was not so definitive about his coach, however.

“But you have to do what's right to win even (when) it's difficult, even if there's people that think you should make a change,” Irsay said. “When it comes to changes and Jim's status, it's something that eight games going forward, more will be revealed. This situation is always changing. But it's really going to be always what's best to give us a chance to win.”

2. Did Bill Belichick pay to have fights started in practice?

Former Browns practice squad player Chad Eaton, a former NFL defensive tackle, told the Dayton Daily News in an interview that he was paid by former Browns coach Bill Belichick, who is now the Patriots head coach, to start fights in practice.

“If practice was going slow, he’d look at me and just say, ‘It’s time,’ ” said Eaton, who is now the head coach at Central State University in Ohio. “He wanted me to get on somebody’s (case) and start a little fight. I was known for that and it paid off on Fridays. There’d always be some extra money in my locker. Practice players don’t make much, so I really appreciated it.”

Asked about it at his presser today, Belichick responded: "I don't remember that."

3. Peyton Hillis aggravates his hamstring injury again. The Browns running back, who was one of the NFL’s most popular players last year after a breakout season, but whose contract issues have caused problems this season and caused his popularity to plummet among Browns fans, aggravated a hamstring injury in practice today, throwing his status in doubt for Sunday’s game against the Texans. Hillis missed the last two games with the injury, but was on track to start against Houston before getting hurt again.

4. Peyton Manning still slow to heal. The Colts quarterback, who underwent a third neck surgery shortly before the season, is still dealing with the same limitations that have kept him from playing this season. His next checkup is Dec. 1, and it appears increasingly unlikely that he’ll play this season, especially in light of the team’s disastrous performance.

“Nothing earth-shattering, just two months today since my surgery. Not a whole lot to report,” Manning told the Indianapolis Star. “Still waiting for the fusion to take place. That takes place, they thought, between two and three months. Still going slow with that. I still have some of the same issues I had before the fusion as far as the nerves and the regeneration. Still dealing with that, the idea being that this surgery gave me the most stability for the nerves to regenerate. That’s still a process there.”

So when might Manning play?

“I just can’t give a prediction of where I’m going to be,” he said. “I don’t think anybody really can because as I’ve said all along, this injury is one that is a little bit unpredictable. You think positively about things being good at that time, but I really can’t tell you where they will be at that time.”

5. No telling when Felix Jones will be back for the Cowboys. In fact, he hasn’t even resumed running because of continuing problems with an ankle injury. The former first-round draft pick’s absence means that rookie DeMarco Murray will continue to carry the load in the running game. Murray gained a franchise-record 253 yards against the Rams two weeks ago, but was held to 74 yards by the Eagles in a 34-7 rout in Philadelphia last Sunday.

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