- Associated Press - Thursday, January 5, 2012

ALLEN PARK, Mich. — Detroit Lions star receiver Calvin Johnson joined his teammates on the field Thursday for the first time this week ahead of Saturday night’s playoff game at New Orleans.

Johnson has said he was resting an Achilles tendon, declining to say which one was holding him out of workouts.

New Orleans safety Roman Harper said Johnson didn’t do a lot against the Saints in their 31-17 victory against Detroit last month. He’s right. Johnson was limited to six catches for 69 yards and without a touchdown.

In the other 15 games, Johnson had 90 receptions for 1,612 yards and 16 scores.

Roethlisberger still slowed by sprained left ankle

PITTSBURGH — Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger practiced Thursday but remains bothered by a sprained left ankle heading into Sunday’s wild card game at Denver.

Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said Roethlisberger was “moving around OK, not as good as he was.” Roethlisberger originally sprained the ankle in a win over Cleveland on Dec. 8 then aggravated the injury in the second half of a win over the Browns last weekend.

Dalton back at practice after bout with flu

CINCINNATI — Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton was back at practice after missing a day because of flu.

The rookie said his illness came on suddenly, and he went to a hospital for treatment to recover quickly. He was eating again Thursday and watched film of what he’d missed in practice the previous day, trying to catch up.

The Bengals will play the Texans in Houston on Saturday, trying to win a playoff game for the first time since the 1990 season.

Texans’ Phillips progressing from gall bladder surgery

HOUSTON — Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said Thursday he’s still regaining his strength less than a month after undergoing gall bladder surgery.

Phillips, 64, went on medical leave Dec. 14. He returned last week and worked from the press box in Sunday’s 23-22 loss to Tennessee. He’ll work from there again when the Texans (10-6) play Cincinnati (9-7) in the playoffs.

Splendid season can only get better for Rice

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — When Ray Rice looks back on the 2011 season, he will readily acknowledge that he’s never had a better year.

Rice was the NFL’s second-leading rusher and the only player in the league to amass more than 2,000 total yards. He set a Baltimore Ravens franchise record with 15 touchdowns and earned a second straight Pro Bowl berth.

Rice isn’t done yet. His goal is to play in the Super Bowl for the first time, and that will remain his focus for as long as the Ravens remain in the playoffs.

Around the league

CHARGERS: San Diego fired defensive coordinator Greg Manusky after just one year on the job and replaced him by promoting linebackers coach John Pagano. The shakeout came four days after the Chargers finished 8-8 and out of the playoffs for the second straight year.

RAMS: Jeff Fisher interviewed for the St. Louis coaching job after meeting with Miami. Unlike Steve Spagnuolo, who was fired Monday after going 10-38 over three seasons, Fisher offers plenty of coaching experience. He has a career record of 142-120 and led Tennessee to at least 12 wins four times.

JETS: New York linebacker Bart Scott was fined $10,000 for an obscene gesture he made toward a photographer in the team’s locker room Monday.



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