Order to lift lockout ushers in NFL confusion

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Order to lift lockout ushers in NFL confusion

By TomE. Curran
CSNNE.com
Got chaos? Kinda. Since Judge Nelson's command that NFL owners lift the lockout and let players resume work immediately, confusion over what happens next has taken hold. "It's getting very complicated," one NFL executive told me Monday evening. What's complicated? Here's a little FAQ action for you. The answers? To be candid, some will be educated guesses. I'll let you know when I'm guessing. 1. Lockout lifted, can players go to work on Tuesday?

Yes. Unless and until there is a "stay" of Nelson's ruling pending appeal, her order to end the lockout is in effect. The NFL's Management Council has reportedly told teams to let in players who show up at the stadium but to keep them out of the weight rooms. Players, of course, would want to show up if they have fat offseason workout bonuses. There may be no offseason program to be present for, but it's possible they'll just show for effect just in case. There's a lot to process on the workout bonuses but that's the main reason players would want to be there. Put pressure on the owners to pay them or for the players to allege that the owners should. 2. When will the appeals court rule on whether or not to grant the "stay" Judge Nelson didn't?Dunno. The NFL immediately filed a request for the stay Monday night. ESPN legal analyst Lester Munson said, however, that the way Nelson worded her ruling, a stay by the appeals court seems unlikely. Judge Nelson mentioned the "public interest" several times in her 89-page ruling. My guess? The appellate court's decision on whether or not to grant a stay will come quickly as it's in the public interest to get this moving forward.3. Could the 2011 league year begin soon, meaning free agency starts?That's the biggest question for fans and the football branch of NFL teams (as opposed to the business branch). If the stay is refused, then it would logically follow that business as usual is supposed to begin under the 2010 league rules (no salary cap or floor, six years service for unrestricted free agency, no rookie wage scale, etc). The owners will want to delay thestart of the league year, especially this week. If free agency opens before the draft begins Thursday night, the football folks will be trying to acquire players on two fronts. And player trades - which were suspended during the lockout - would be in play on draft night. Now, this may not be in the best interest of the league as a whole. And it will be interesting if that's weighed by the courts. 4. What's this mean for your New England Patriots?Lots of meetings. Bill Belichick will not want to be caught sitting on his hands when the chance for player acquisition is upon his team. If there is no stay, one would have to expect Belichick to launch his free agency plan immediately. But would the sting of this ruling cause the Krafts to be bitter and reluctant to proceed as if the lockout is over, done and gone before the appeals process has run its course? In short . . . it's getting very complicated. Tom E. Curran canbe reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Green has big game as Bengals dominate Dolphins 22-7

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Green has big game as Bengals dominate Dolphins 22-7

CINCINNATI -- For most of the game, A.J. Green piled up more yards than the entire Miami Dolphins offense in a virtuoso performance. As an encore, he thrilled the crowd by juggling some Florida citrus.

The Bengals receiver followed his disappointing game with a dominating one - 173 yards and a touchdown - and a Cincinnati defense that was inspired by Vontaze Burfict's return clamped down on the Dolphins for a 22-7 victory Thursday night.

The Bengals (2-2) rebounded from a 29-17 home loss to Denver on Sunday with a solid all-around game against a depleted team.

Green led the way, beating the Dolphins (1-3) on every type of route . He was upset with himself after he dropped a pivotal third-down pass and failed to make an impact against the Broncos.

"I hold myself to a very high standard," said Green, who had 10 catches. "I know what I'm capable of. Last week I didn't perform to that level. I had to refocus on a short week."

During the first three quarters, Green had 166 yards on catches while Miami had 152 total yards. The Bengals' season-long problem of stalling out near the goal line forced them to settle for Mike Nugent's season-high five field goals.

Afterward, Green and Andy Dalton appeared on the postgame show, and the receiver entertained the dozens of Bengals fans who stayed around by smoothly juggling three oranges at the interview desk.

"Any time he was one-on-one, he was able to make the play," Dalton said.

The Dolphins were missing four starting offensive linemen, two linebackers, running back Arian Foster and tight end Jordan Cameron. They had one big play - Ryan Tannehill threw a 74-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Stills - but couldn't do anything else on offense.

"We've got to get it fixed and quick, and by that I mean Monday," Tannehill said. "We're kind of in a dark spot right now. It's squarely on our shoulders."

The Bengals' defense expected to get a lift from Burfict's return. The volatile linebacker was suspended by the NFL for the first three games because of his illegal hits. He got a loud ovation when he ran onto the field during introductions wearing a baseball cap. Burfict knocked down a pass and had three tackles.

"He's amazing," end Carlos Dunlap said. "Did you see the plays he made? Those aren't plays you can coach. He came off his couch and played great. It's good to have him back."

Mostly, it was Green's show. He caught a 51-yard pass off Dalton's scramble in the first half, and had a 43-yard catch that set up another field goal in the third quarter for a 19-7 lead.

REMEMBERING FERNANDEZ

A large fan banner in the upper deck at Paul Brown Stadium honored Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, who died with two friends in a boat crash early Sunday near Miami Beach. The banner read: "Jose 16 Heaven's Bright."

STILL CAN'T RUN

The Bengals rushed for 77 yards and only a 2.1-yard average against the second-worst run defense in the league, one missing two starting linebackers.

SLOPPY DOLPHINS

Miami had seven penalties for 68 yards. The most egregious was by Terrence Fede, who pushed Kevin Huber to the ground after he punted in the third quarter. The penalty gave Cincinnati the ball, and the Bengals got a field goal out of it.

INJURIES

Dolphins: LT Branden Albert and C Anthony Steen were inactive with sprained ankles. Also missing were LBs Koa Misi (neck) and Jelani Jenkins (groin). C Mike Pouncey has missed all four games with a hip injury.

Bengals: TE Tyler Eifert was inactive again, contributing to the Bengals' trouble close to the goal line. He's recovering from offseason ankle surgery and returned to practice on a limited basis last week. CB Dre Kirkpatrick was inactive with a hamstring injury suffered Sunday. G Clint Boling sat out most of the fourth quarter with an injured left shoulder.

ANTHEM STATEMENTS

Stills and Dolphins safety Michael Thomas knelt with their hands over their hearts during the anthem.

FANTASY IMPACT

Tannehill was 15 of 25 for 189 yards with a touchdown, an interception, a fumble and five sacks. Dalton was 22 of 31 for 296 yards with a touchdown and a sack.

UP NEXT

The Dolphins begin a stretch of four straight home games against Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Buffalo and the New York Jets.

The Bengals have a tough two-game stretch, playing Dallas and New England on the road. They're 1-5 in Dallas, dropping their last three. They've dropped their last six at New England, last winning in 1986.