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    NFL notebook

    Notes: Michael Vick confirms his family owns a dog

    Michael Vick, who served 18 months in federal prison on dogfighting charges, confirmed Thursday that his family has a dog. The Eagles’ four-time Pro Bowl quarterback refused to discuss the topic just a day earlier.

    ‘‘I understand the strong emotions by some people about our family’s decision to care for a pet,’’ Vick said in a statement.

    ‘‘As a father, it is important to make sure my children develop a healthy relationship with animals. I want to ensure that my children establish a loving bond and treat all of God’s creatures with kindness and respect. Our pet is well cared for and loved as a member of our family.’’


    Since his release from prison in 2009, Vick has worked with The Humane Society of the United States to speak out against animal cruelty. He’s made appearances at schools and spoken to students about the dangers of being involved in dogfighting. Vick says that commitment will continue.

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    ‘‘This is an opportunity to break the cycle,’’ Vick said. ‘‘To that end, I will continue to honor my commitment to animal welfare and be an instrument of positive change.’’

    The Humane Society declined to comment.

    Vick was banned from owning a dog until completing his probation period. When he first stated his desire to own one, it touched off a firestorm. Some animal rights activists were outraged along with fans who thought the star player should never be allowed to have a dog.

    Slauson fined $10k for block

    A person familiar with the situation says Jets guard Matt Slauson has been fined $10,000 by the NFL for his block that ended the season of Houston linebacker Brian Cushing.


    Slauson rolled into Cushing, who tore his left anterior cruciate ligament in the second quarter of the Texans’ 23-17 win Monday night. Cushing was placed on injured reserve Wednesday.

    Another person with knowledge of the situation told the AP that Slauson will appeal the fine. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the league doesn’t announce fines until Fridays.

    Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said earlier in the day that the low, rolling hit was ‘‘unnecessary.’’ Cushing walked off the field on his own, but didn’t return to the game.

    ‘‘I thought it was unnecessary,’’ Phillips said. ‘‘Whether it was legal or not, all that stuff — I think it’s just unnecessary to hit a defensive player when he can’t see you.’’

    Slauson was not penalized on the play. Phillips said if he’d hit Cushing in his head, he would’ve drawn a flag.


    ‘‘If a guy’s coming in front of me and cuts me, he can see that and yeah, they can get away with that,’’ Phillips said. ‘‘But when they don’t see you, I think the league needs to look at something like that.’’

    Slauson said Wednesday he felt like it was a ‘‘clean block’’ and was not trying to hurt Cushing. Jets coach Rex Ryan defended Slauson on Thursday, and called the block and the resulting injury to Cushing ‘‘unfortunate.’’

    ‘‘My take when I saw it, and now I’ve seen TV copies and all that, is that obviously, it’s an unfortunate thing,’’ Ryan said.

    The Texans play Green Bay on Sunday night. Tim Dobbins will replace Cushing in Houston’s starting lineup. Houston also signed linebacker Barrett Ruud.

    Sack taken away from Watt

    The NFL took away a sack from Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, dropping him behind Green Bay linebacker Clay Matthews for the league lead.

    Watt had 8½ sacks following Monday night’s win over the Jets. The league removed Watt’s solo sack of Ryan Tannehill in the second quarter of Houston’s opening 30-10 win over Miami. Watt also earned a half-sack later in the game.

    Matthews has a league-high eight sacks, and Watt now has 7½.

    Nicks returns to practice

    Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks practiced for the first time in two weeks, working out on a limited basis. After practice, he was uncertain whether he would be able to play in San Francisco on Sunday because of swelling in his left knee.

    The fourth-year receiver broke his right foot in minicamp in May and it has bothered him since the start of training.

    He developed swelling in his left knee after a win over Tampa Bay in the second game of the season and has missed the last three games.

    While he wants to play, Nicks does not want to aggravate the injuries and possibly be sidelined much longer for the Giants.

    RG III on target for Sunday

    Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III is still on track to start Sunday against the Vikings. Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said Griffin — who suffered a concussion last Sunday during a 24-17 loss to the Falcons — looked ‘‘good’’ in practice Thursday. Shanahan says ‘‘there didn’t look like there was any setback.’’ . . . Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen was excused from the team indefinitely following the sudden death of his mother. Griffen missed practice Thursday, one day after police arrived at the team’s headquarters to deliver the news to Griffen, coach Leslie Frazier said. No details of her death were immediately available. Griffen’s mother was in town visiting her son. Frazier and several Vikings players went to Griffen’s house on Wednesday night to comfort him.

    Dolphins’ Bush ailing

    Reggie Bush joined the Dolphins’ injury list with a sore left knee. The team’s leading rusher was added to the injury report after being limited in practice. Bush hurt his left knee Sept. 23 against the Jets, but has started every game. The Dolphins are already thin at running back going into Sunday’s game against St. Louis. Backup Daniel Thomas sat out practice for the second day in a row after suffering a concussion for the second time this season last Sunday . . . The Colts will be without four-time Pro Bowl selection Robert Mathis for two to three weeks because of a sprained left knee. Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky said Jerry Hughes and Justin Hickman will take turns replacing Mathis at outside linebacker Sunday against the Jets . . . Center Thomas Austin, who spent time on the Patriots’ practice squad the last two seasons, was signed by the Panthers to replace Ryan Kalil on the 53-man roster. Kalil, a three-time Pro Bowl center, was moved to injured reserve after tearing a ligament in his left foot in Carolina’s 16-12 loss to Seattle on Sunday.