NFL notebook

Notes: Steelers-Giants still on despite storm aftermath

The game between the New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday will be played in East Rutherford, N.J., despite transportation and power issues and growing concerns for weary and heartbroken residents displaced and devastated by Hurricane Sandy.

Commissioner Roger Goodell spoke with New Jersey’s governor, Chris Christie, on Friday and Christie assured him that game would not divert any major resources from relief efforts.

Speaking at a news conference, Christie said only a few state troopers are assigned to the game and it was really a decision for the NFL to make.


There have been 53 deaths associated with the storm in New York and New Jersey and more than 2 million people were still without power on Friday. There will be no rail service to MetLife Stadium, the Giants said.

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The Steelers changed travel plans Thursday because the hotel they booked in New Jersey did not have power. The team will fly in Sunday morning and leave after the game.

The Giants will be without middle linebacker and leading tackler Chase Blackburn, who hurt his hamstring last Sunday. Second-year pro Mark Herzlich is in line to make his third career start.

Steelers running back Jonathan Dwyer is listed as doubtful because of a right quad strain that prevented him from practicing Friday, but he called taking the day off a precaution. Running back Rashard Mendenhall is also doubtful while he deals with a right Achilles’ injury.

Saints lose Sproles

Running back and return specialist Darren Sproles underwent surgery for a broken hand and won’t play Monday night when the New Orleans Saints take on the Philadelphia Eagles at the Superdome.


Interim coach Joe Vitt revealed the injury after Monday’s practice, though he wouldn’t say which hand was hurt. Sproles will be re-evaluated next week to determine if he can play against the NFC South-leading Atlanta Falcons.

Sproles set an NFL record with 2,696 all-purpose yards last season and is a vital part of the Saints’ offense and special teams.

Rivers takes charge

In Thursday night’s game, Antonio Gates caught a 14-yard yard scoring pass from Philip Rivers on the game’s opening drive to snap a streak of six straight quarters without a touchdown and the host San Diego Chargers went on to a 31-13 victory over the staggering Kansas City Chiefs. The Chargers (4-4) snapped a three-game skid. The Chiefs (1-7), who lost their fifth straight, committed four turnovers to run their NFL-high mark to 29, which have led to 104 points.

Lions’ Best done

Detroit running back Jahvid Best, who hasn’t played in more than a year because of concussion problems, will stay on the physically unable to perform list for the season. Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said medical experts have recommended Best not return to the field this year . . . Denver cornerback Tracy Porter didn’t travel to Cincinnati and will miss his third straight game as doctors continue to regulate his medication to control seizures . . . Redskins receiver Pierre Garcon (torn toe ligament) and safety Brandon Meriweather (left knee) were ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Panthers . . . Jacksonville safety Dwight Lowery (foot) and cornerback Rashean Mathis (groin) were ruled out . . . Green Bay receiver Jordy Nelson is a game-time decision for a second straight week because of a hamstring injury.

Browns’ Taylor back

Browns defensive tackle Phil Taylor was activated from the physically-unable-to-perform list and will play Sunday against Baltimore. He had surgery on a torn chest muscle he hurt lifting weights in May . . . Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson (sprained left ankle) is listed as probable to play at Seattle, despite his absence from the final full practice of the week. Tight end John Carlson (concussion) is out . . . Seattle receiver Doug Baldwin is expected to play just two weeks after suffering a high ankle sprain . . . Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill is listed as questionable at Indianapolis. . . Four-time Pro Bowl linebacker Robert Mathis expects to play for Indianapolis after missing the previous three games with a knee injury. Cornerback Vontae Davis was ruled out with a left knee injury. Head coach Chuck Pagano may attend the game. Pagano was released from the hospital on Oct. 26 and is scheduled for another round of chemotherapy, according to the Indianapolis Star.

Dennard’s trial delayed


A Nebraska assault trial for Patriots rookie Alfonzo Dennard was delayed again. Online court records say that a Lincoln judge granted Dennard’s request to move the trial to the February 2013 jury term. He’s pleaded not guilty to a felony assault charge and two related misdemeanors . . . Buffalo coach Chan Gailey’s job is secure, though quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick should expect a challenge for the starting job next season, general manager Buddy Nix said . . . Bears safety Chris Conte was fined $21,000 by the NFL for striking Panthers receiver Brandon LaFell in the head and neck area when LaFell was defenseless, and Raiders defensive lineman Richard Seymour was fined $15,750 for roughing Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel. LaFell (post-concussion syndrome) is doubtful for Carolina’s game Sunday.