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NFL notes: Brandon Meriweather issues apology

Brandon Meriweather issued an apology by proxy Thursday, with the head of the NFL players’ union releasing a statement saying that the Redskins safety is ‘‘sorry’’ over comments made about targeting opponents’ knees.

‘‘I spoke to Brandon,’’ NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said in the statement. ‘‘He is passionate about the game, and I know he is sorry for what he said. He is concentrating on helping his team win the rest of the season. Brandon knows that all players have a responsibility to each other and to play within the rules of the game.’’

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Meriweather has been sanctioned twice by the league this season for illegal hits targeting the helmet and neck of defenseless receivers. He returned Monday from a one-game suspension and said from now on he’ll have ‘‘to take people’s knees out’’ and cause career-ending injuries.

‘‘You've got to tear people’s ACLs and mess up people’s knees now,’’ he said Monday. ‘‘You can’t hit ’em high anymore.’’

Meriweather was venting frustration felt by many defensive players over new rules that eliminate certain hits with the goal of making the game safer. Coach Mike Shanahan said he wouldn’t have used Meriweather’s choice of words but added: ‘‘Now the safeties have to go lower. It’s just part of the game. Nobody’s going to try to hurt anybody.’’

Meriweather also said Monday that ‘‘people who beat their girlfriends should be kicked out of the league,’’ a retort aimed at Chicago Bears receiver Brandon Marshall. The NFLPA said Smith’s statement referred only to Meriweather’s comments about tackling.

Meriweather declined to comment when approached by reporters before practice Thursday.

Shanahan lets it rip

Shanahan leveled a scathing critique at Albert Haynesworth, saying the former Redskins defensive lineman was ‘‘lazy’’ and had a ‘‘lack of passion’’ and ‘‘lack of character.’’

He was responding to comments made this week by Haynesworth, who told Tennessee Sports Radio that Shanahan is ‘‘conniving,’’ self-centered, and will run quarterback Robert Griffin III ‘‘into the ground.’’

Asked for his reaction, Shanahan began his answer and then stopped himself and started over — because he wanted to ‘‘say it the right way.’’

Then he hammered home a zinger.

‘‘When you don’t get along with somebody as a head coach or an assistant coach, it usually falls into one of those areas — lazy, lack of passion, and a lot of times lack of character,’’ Shanahan said. ‘‘And he fits all three.’’

Haynesworth signed a $100 million free agent contract with the Redskins in 2009, but he and Shanahan clashed frequently after the coach arrived in Washington a year later. Haynesworth became an NFL punch line when he needed 10 days to pass a conditioning test at the start of training camp and lost his starting job. He was eventually traded to New England for a fifth-round pick and is perhaps the biggest free agent bust in league history.

Smith set to return

49ers All-Pro linebacker Aldon Smith was activated to the 53-man roster from the non-football injury list, two days after he turned himself in to Santa Clara County authorities as he faces weapons charges. One of San Francisco’s dynamic pass rushers appears ready to return. Smith had been undergoing rehab at an in-patient facility for substance abuse since late September and missed five games. With San Francisco (6-2) on its bye this week, Smith could resume practicing and working out on his own, then formally practice next week ahead of a Nov. 10 home game against the Carolina Panthers. Smith was charged Oct. 9 with three felony counts of illegal possession of an assault weapon, stemming from a party at his home in June 2012 . . . Bills quarterback Thad Lewis (bruised ribs) missed his second straight practice and remains questionable for Sunday’s game against the Chiefs. Bills coach Doug Marrone reiterated Lewis has a ‘‘50-50’’ chance of playing after bruising his ribs in Sunday’s loss to New Orleans . . . Outside linebacker Jarret Johnson, who missed two games with an injured hamstring, is expected to play Sunday when the Chargers put their two-game winning streak on the line against the Redskins . . . Former Cardinals defensive back Hamza Abdullah took to Twitter to blast the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell for not doing enough to ensure players’ well-being. In dozens of profanity-laced tweets, Abdullah said on his verified account that the NFL treats players like slaves, that Goodell would sell his ‘‘soul for a dollar,’’ and that the league should pay for psychiatric evaluations for its players. Abdullah also implied that he had suicidal thoughts . . . A person familiar with the situation said Dolphins tackle Jonathan Martin has left the team to receive professional assistance for emotional issues. The person said Thursday that Martin was with relatives, and that his issues didn’t involve any problems with the coaching staff. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the Dolphins have not announced any details of Martin’s illness . . . Jurors in Miami deliberating the fate of the man charged in the 2007 slaying of former Redskins star Sean Taylor watched the suspect’s videotaped confession again and asked a question, but didn’t reach a verdict Thursday. The panel will return Friday to resume debating . . . Former 49ers standout Bubba Paris pleaded guilty to failing to file federal income taxes for 2006, 07, and 08. Paris, 52, agreed to pay a $126,530 fine and faces up to a year in prison when sentenced in February.

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