- Associated Press - Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Denver Broncos didn’t embrace Matt Prater after his four-game suspension, but they welcome news that he spent his hiatus from football seeking help in dealing with his drinking problem.

Prater told reporters in Detroit after signing with the Lions that he voluntarily entered a 12-step program to deal with the alcohol issues that led to his ban.

“I care about every one of these guys,” Broncos coach John Fox said. “You build relationships. Obviously, he’s been a big part of at least my tenure here, and for this organization. He’s done a lot of tremendous things. He had one of the better years a kicker could have a year ago. I care about him as a person and as a player, so I’m excited for him and his new opportunity in Detroit.”

The Broncos decided to go forward with first-year kicker Brandon McManus instead of Prater, who missed just one field goal last year and broke a long-standing NFL record with a 64-yarder in December against Tennessee.

“Any time you lose good players it’s tough,” Peyton Manning said. “Matt made a ton of kicks here. I think he missed like three field goals or something in the two years he and I played together. I communicated with him last week and told him I enjoyed playing with him and appreciated all the hard work he did in helping us, and I wished him luck.

“When most changes are made it’s about how you adjust to it. That’s what we are trying to do and we are counting on our new guy to be ready. I wish Matt the best.”

RIVERS ROLLS: San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers goes into Sunday’s game at Oakland tied with Hall of Famer Johnny Unitas and Kurt Warner with four straight games with a passer rating of 120 or better, with a minimum of 15 attempts. He could become the first to do it in five straight games.

As it is, Rivers is the first NFL QB with four straight games with a rating of 120 or better on a minimum of 20 attempts.

Chargers offensive coordinator Frank Reich, a former NFL quarterback, said the important thing is making first downs and completing passes.

“Some weeks it’s dink and dunk, and other weeks it’s stretch the field,” Reich said. “The good thing with Philip is he can do both. He can get that high quarterback rating by throwing long touchdowns and getting long completions, or he can get it throwing underneath.”

Rivers leads the NFL with a 116.3 rating this season. His career rating is 96.8.

Rivers is about more than just numbers. Several of his passes this season have been downright spectacular.

“As a coach you try not get into the fan mode,” Reich said. “You try not to marvel at things that Philip has done. I’m not going to lie: Every now and then you see something, and even out here at practice, and it’s hard not to go, ‘Man, I don’t ever want to take for granted what we have on this team.’ Certainly that is the case with Philip more often than not.”

CHIP THE PHILOSOPHER: Eagles coach Chip Kelly is known for his innovative offensive strategies and an all-around unique approach. It worked for him at Oregon and so far is working in the NFL, where he’s 14-8, including a playoff loss. Kelly has a simple philosophy when it comes to giving guys playing time. Here’s a hint: It doesn’t matter where they were drafted or how much money they make.

“It’s been a meritocracy. If you merit playing time, you’ll get playing time,” Kelly said. “But it just can’t be because we took somebody ‘here’ or we think ‘this’ about that guy. That’s not the way I want to do it. That’s not going to be done.

“We’re going to play the best guys and give ourselves the best opportunity to win each and every week. If we start planning now that we want to develop someone three or four years down the road, I think we’re shortchanging them. I think we’re shortchanging the guys in the locker room that are giving everything they’ve got and trying to understand, ‘Why am I not playing if I’m better than that guy right now?’

“The bottom line is we’re winning right now and that is the most important thing for us. I know if I was a paying fan, I wouldn’t want to go out there and say, ‘Hey, they’re going to develop and be somebody and three or four years down the road, they’re going to be a really good football team.’ That’s not what this deal is about. You have to win every single Sunday.”

MR OCTOBER: Reggie Jackson isn’t the only Mr. October in the New York City metropolitan area.

Add in Tom Coughlin of the Giants: The Giants are 33-8 in October in Coughlin’s 11 seasons as coach.

“I planned that all out for years and years,” Coughlin said. “I wanted to be known as ‘Mr. October.’ Reggie Jackson is a good friend of mine. Thanks for bringing that up. That is really what I would point it toward.”

The Giants (3-2) will face a challenge Sunday night, playing the NFC East defending champion Eagles (4-1) in Philadelphia.

“Every time you play, you should get better,” Coughlin said. “October comes along a few games into the season, and hopefully we are starting to play pretty good. That is what I look at.”

New York has won its last three games, including one last weekend. Yep, in October.


BYE WEEK ACTIVITIES: Coordinators Kevin Coyle and Bill Lazor took advantage of some time off during the Miami Dolphins’ bye week to watch football.

Defensive coordinator Coyle said he enjoyed seeing other teams play - sort of.

“It was an enjoyable weekend watching everybody else squirm,” he said with a laugh. “But I’ll tell you, it pains me as a defensive coach to watch games and see big plays going for whoever. It’s just one of those things. Innately you suffer along with the guys on the other side when you see bombs going off and long runs breaking out.”

Offensive coordinator Lazor squeezed in some work, preparing for Sunday’s game against Green Bay and admiring the effort of linebacker Clay Matthews. But the break also gave Lazor a rare chance to watch his 9-yard-old son play defensive end in a 95-pound league.

“I was watching the game and I thought, ‘Gosh, if I could get him to play like Matthews, I’d be a proud dad,’” Lazor said. “Because that guy can wreck the game.”

MILESTONE FOR RODDY: Roddy White had only two catches in the Falcons’ loss at the Giants last week, but that was enough to give him a career milestone. He became the 43rd player in NFL history with 700 catches. He has 701 for 9,649 yards and 57 touchdowns in 10 seasons.

“The numbers are what the numbers are,” White said Thursday. “I just feel like I ain’t quite finished playing football yet.

“I never thought I would play 10 years in the NFL, much less the chance to catch 700 passes. That’s a great achievement for an individual, but I have some team goals I want to meet.”

White holds Falcons career records for catches, yards and touchdowns.


AP Pro Football Writers Barry Wilner, Arnie Stapleton and Rob Maaddi, and Sports Writers Charles Odum, Steven Wine, Tom Canavan and Bernie Wilson contributed to this story.


AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

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