RG3 feels ‘really good’ about chances of playing Sunday


ASHBURN, Va. — Three days after spraining his knee, Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III was just a little gimpy on the practice field and very cagey behind the microphone.

He likes his chances of playing Sunday, but he and coach Mike Shanahan want to keep the Cleveland Browns guessing as long as possible.

Wearing his No. 10 jersey and a black knee brace underneath his sweatpants on a chilly day, Griffin high-stepped and moved laterally with barely a hitch as he stretched, then favored his right leg during throwing drills as the Redskins began on-field preparations for this week’s game.

“Sunday night, I thought there was probably no chance that I could play the next week,” Griffin said. “And then Monday morning, I felt better about it. Yesterday, I felt better about it. And today I feel really good about it, so it just depends on if I continue to progress the way I am.”

So, to cut to the case, Griffin was asked if he expects to play Sunday.

“I can’t tell you all that,” he answered. “First, I don’t want to give the Cleveland Browns a competitive advantage. And I don’t want to let anybody down, so I don’t want to say that I’ll be playing and end up not playing.”

Griffin has a mild sprain of the lateral collateral ligament in his right knee, a favorable diagnosis considering the scary hit to his leg from defensive tackle Haloti Ngata at the end of a scramble late in regulation in Washington’s 31-28 overtime victory over the Baltimore Ravens.

“I was the happiest guy in the world on Monday to be blessed with the injury that I did have,” Griffin said, “after looking at it so many times.”

Cowboys’ Bryant to get second opinion on finger injury

IRVING, Texas — Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant wants to see another doctor to help determine if he can play the rest of this season with a broken finger on his left hand.

Coach Jason Garrett said the team was trying to get as much medical information as possible to make a decision for “the best way to handle it for now and the future.”

Bryant broke his left index finger in Sunday’s 20-19 win at Cincinnati, though he returned to the game after the injury and caught a touchdown pass. He has TD catches in each of the last five games.

During the portion of practice opened to the media Wednesday, Bryant was wearing his No. 88 jersey with no wraps or bandages on his left hand when he ran on the field. He spoke briefly with a strength coach, then went over to where the team was before going back into the locker room.

Garrett had never anticipated Bryant practicing because he “probably” still had swelling in his hand.

Giants’ Bradshaw not ruled out for Atlanta game

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Giants coach Tom Coughlin says he has not ruled out running back Ahmad Bradshaw from Sunday’s matchup in Atlanta, despite a knee injury.

But Bradshaw, injured vs. New Orleans last Sunday, missed practice on Wednesday, and Coughlin kept open the possibility that rookie backup David Wilson could start against the Falcons (11-2).

“I’m not going to talk about the percentages or anything like that,” Coughlin said about Bradshaw’s chances. “You can speculate knowing what the injury is. The other day when he had the injury, he taped it up and went back in and made three short-yardage runs in a row for a key first down. No one really knew what was going on there. He told me he had no limitations.

“He’s a tough son of a gun.”

Patriots re-sign Branch to help battered receiving corps

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The New England Patriots have re-signed Deion Branch for their battered corps of wide receivers.

They signed him for the second time this season on Wednesday after Donte’ Stallworth joined Julian Edelman on injured reserve. Stallworth hurt his ankle in Monday night’s 42-14 win over the Houston Texans. Edelman suffered a foot injury in the previous game, a 23-16 victory over the Miami Dolphins.

The Patriots first cut Branch on Aug. 31, re-signed him after their second game, then released him Nov. 17 after the ninth game. He has nine catches for 80 yards in seven games. They drafted him in the second round in 2002, traded him to Seattle on Sept. 11, 2006, and re-acquired him from the Seahawks on Oct. 12, 2010.

With Kolb on IR, Lindley to start at quarterback for Cardinals

TEMPE, Ariz. — The Arizona Cardinals have given up hope that Kevin Kolb will return this season, placing the only quarterback who had success with the team this season on injured reserve and naming rookie Ryan Lindley as starter for Sunday’s game against Detroit.

Kolb led the team to a 4-0 start to the season but went down with a rib injury in Week 6 and has not played since. The team placed him on injured reserve Wednesday, two days after claiming quarterback Brian Hoyer on waivers from Pittsburgh.

Kolb said he looks forward to coming back next year, although the Cardinals may balk at paying him the $11 million — $9 million in salary and a $2 million roster bonus — that he is due.

Jaguars wideout Shorts returns following concussion

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Cecil Shorts III is back at practice and symptom-free following his first concussion.

Shorts, who has 43 receptions for 824 yards and seven touchdowns this season, missed last week’s game against the New York Jets because of lingering symptoms. Shorts says he was “out for about 5 seconds” after getting hit at Buffalo the previous week.

He recovered by sitting in a dark room and watched the game at home to avoid loud noises.

He practiced in a limited capacity Wednesday, but coach Mike Mularkey believes Shorts will play Sunday at Miami.

Shorts spoke to teammate Laurent Robinson, who is on injured reserve following his fourth concussion, and said he told him to not rush back.

Shorts says “the biggest thing is resting the brain.”

Chargers place Martin, Stuckey on injured reserve

SAN DIEGO —The San Diego Chargers have placed defensive end Vaughn Martin and safety Darrell Stuckey on season-ending injured reserve.

To take their roster spots, the team re-signed running back Curtis Brinkley and added linebacker Gary Guyton.

Martin injured his groin during warmups before Sunday’s game at Pittsburgh, while Stuckey, a special teams standout, reaggravated a hamstring injury during the 34-24 victory.

Brinkley was released by the Chargers on Nov. 29. He played in seven games with one start and was inactive for four others.

Guyton spent the first four years of his NFL career with the New England Patriots.

The Chargers also released wide receiver Kashif Moore from the practice squad and re-signed defensive end Logan Harrell.

Lawmaker: NFL players trying to ‘back out’ on HGH

WASHINGTON — Accusing the NFL players’ union of “trying to back out” of an August 2011 agreement to start checking for human growth hormone, a congressman worried aloud Wednesday that the league will head into next season without a test for the banned drug.

“Hopefully as we move down the line, players will see how incredibly ridiculous it looks for them not to … straighten this thing out,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s ranking Democrat. “We’re now getting ready to go into a third season, and it does not look very good.”

The panel held a hearing to examine the science behind the testing, and heard from experts that it is reliable.

“No test is perfect … but there hasn’t been a single false positive,” U.S. Anti-Doping Agency Chief Science Officer Larry Bowers testified.

While the latest, 10-year labor contract paved the way for HGH testing in professional football once certain parameters were set, the NFL Players Association wants a new study before it will agree to the validity of a test used by Olympic sports and Major League Baseball. The sides haven’t been able to agree on a scientist to help resolve that impasse.

Former Cowboy Lockhart gets jail sentence

DALLAS — Former Dallas Cowboys linebacker Eugene Lockhart Jr. has been sentenced to four and a half years in federal prison for his role in a mortgage fraud scheme to swindle millions of dollars from home lenders.

Lockhart was sentenced Wednesday in Dallas after pleading guilty last year to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Lockhart and others indicted were accused of using fraudulent loan paperwork to deceive mortgage lenders in buying dozens of homes in the Dallas area. Prosecutors say some of Lockhart’s co-defendants recruited potential home buyers with bonuses and promises of help with mortgage payments.

Lockhart formed several companies with names that referenced his career with the Cowboys, including “America’s Team Brokers” and “Cowboys Mortgage.”

Lockhart was drafted by the Cowboys in 1984 and played seven seasons for the team.