- Associated Press - Thursday, December 27, 2012

RENTON, Wash. — Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman won his appeal of a four-game suspension for use of performance enhancing substances, making him eligible for the NFL playoffs.

Sherman was steadfast since news broke of his pending suspension that he believed he would win on appeal. Sherman’s appeal was based on errors in the chain of custody of his sample and that there were mistakes made by the tester.

Sherman made his appeal late last week. Sherman is now eligible for the Seahawks season finale against St. Louis and the playoffs.

According to STATS, Sherman is tied with Pittsburgh’s Keenan Lewis for the NFL lead with 23 passes defensed. He is tied for second in interceptions with seven.


Sherman was a surprise omission from the Pro Bowl roster announced Wednesday. Despite his impressive numbers, Sherman was a first alternate at cornerback for the NFC, behind the Chicago duo of Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman, and Arizona’s Patrick Peterson.

Smith’s injury a concern as 49ers approach playoffs

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — All-Pro tackle Justin Smith is unlikely to play Sunday in the regular-season finale against Arizona because of a partially torn left triceps. The injury could force Smith to miss some or all of the postseason.

San Francisco’s defense has been gouged for big yardage and points since Smith was injured early in the third quarter Dec. 16 at New England. But the NFL’s second-ranked defense hopes to regroup and regain momentum for the playoffs against an Arizona team that ranks last in the league in total offense.

Around the league

STEELERS: Dick LeBeau, 75, said he will return for a 10th season as Pittsburgh’s defensive coordinator and his 55th consecutive season in the NFL. LeBeau, a Hall of Famer, publicly will only say his status is in the hands of head coach Mike Tomlin. But with the defense ranked No. 1 in the NFL for the second consecutive season and fifth time in nine years, there’s little reason to think Tomlin would make a change.

VIKINGS: Jared Allen returned to practice for Minnesota after missing the previous practices because of an illness. Adrian Peterson was held out for a second straight day, but the Vikings have been giving the star running back days off during the week as a matter of routine. Peterson (abdomen) said his injury will not limit him in the season finale against Green Bay on Sunday.

JETS: New York’s wacky quarterback situation took yet another twist. Greg McElroy has a concussion — which he didn’t reveal until Thursday — and will be replaced by Mark Sanchez as the Jets’ starting quarterback in the season finale at Buffalo on Sunday. McElroy revealed he was suffering concussion-like symptoms after being sacked 11 times in the Jets’ 27-17 loss to San Diego last Sunday.

BROWNS: Third-string quarterback Thad Lewis is one day closer to starting. With Brandon Weeden and Colt McCoy not practicing again because of right shoulder injuries, Lewis worked with Cleveland’s first-team offense in preparation for Sunday’s season finale against Pittsburgh.

RAMS: Running back Steven Jackson will have the option to explore free agency after the season, raising the question of whether Sunday’s finale at Seattle will be his final game in a St. Louis uniform. Jackson, 29, intimated Thursday that he might retire at the end of this season.