NFL notes • Recent Bucs castoff will be Minnesota's third starter in four games.
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Your turn, Josh Freeman.
Freeman was named the latest starting quarterback for the scuffling Minnesota Vikings on Wednesday. Freeman's second week with the team will culminate on Monday night with him leading the offense against the New York Giants.
"It really hasn't been that difficult. Any time you step into a situation where you're the new guy, there's always kind of an awkward getting-to-know-you phase," Freeman said. "But I think that goes back to the character of this organization just from top to bottom: a lot of quality people that are dedicated to winning first and foremost but also being quality human beings off the field. So it's been a smooth adjustment."
Coach Leslie Frazier also said that Christian Ponder will be the backup, not Matt Cassel, assuming Freeman makes it through the week without problems.
"I like the things he's done in his career, along with what he's done since he arrived here with our football team, the time he put in, how well he's adapted to our system," Frazier said. "He's done enough for us to say we want to give him this opportunity, which is something we had in mind when we acquired him. I think now is the time."
Freeman will be the third starter in the last four games for the Vikings (1-4) and the 11th since Daunte Culpepper's season-ending knee injury in 2005. Freeman was cut by Tampa Bay on Oct. 3 and signed by Minnesota to a one-year contract five days later.
Colts' Irsay backs off Manning comments
Indianapolis owner Jim Irsay backed down a bit after Broncos coach John Fox and former Colts general manager Bill Polian chided him for comments critical of Peyton Manning.
Fox used his weekly SiriusXM NFL Radio appearance Tuesday to criticize the Colts' owner for sounding ungrateful for all Manning did for his team and city, including winning a Super Bowl in 2007, and Polian used the same platform to say Irsay was wrong in both his facts and opinions.
After a series of tweets defending himself Tuesday night, Irsay took to Twitter on Wednesday to say he meant that if the Colts had given Manning better special teams and defense, they could have won more than one Super Bowl, instead of asking the quarterback to do too much.
Irsay told USA Today in an interview Tuesday that the Colts turned to Andrew Luck two years ago and released Manning rather than pay him a $28 million roster bonus because they were looking for more playoff success.
"We've changed our model a little bit, because we wanted more than one of these," Irsay said, showing his Super Bowl ring. "[Tom] Brady never had consistent numbers, but he has three of these. Pittsburgh had two, the Giants had two, Baltimore had two and we had one.
"That leaves you frustrated. You make the playoffs 11 times, and you're out in the first round seven out of 11 times. You love to have the 'Star Wars' numbers from Peyton and Marvin [Harrison] and Reggie [Wayne]. Mostly, you love this," Irsay added, showing his ring again, according to the newspaper.
Around the league
Bills • Rookie quarterback EJ Manuel is expected to miss another four to six weeks now that he's begun rehabbing his sprained right knee.
Texans • Starting strong safety Danieal Manning will miss the rest of the season because of a right knee injury. Coach Gary Kubiak called it a significant injury but didn't have any further details.
Patriots • Star linebacker Jerod Mayo, a two-time Pro Bowl standout who has the most tackles in the NFL since 2010, went on season-ending injured reserve. Mayo's agent, Mitch Frankel, did not respond to a request for comment on a report that Mayo had undergone surgery for a torn chest muscle.
Titans • Quarterback Jake Locker practiced Wednesday for the first time since injuring his knee and hip less than three weeks ago, but coach Mike Munchak doesn't expect him to play Sunday against San Francisco.
Buccaneers • Carl Nicks, one of three Tampa Bay players diagnosed with MRSA, has had surgery to get rid of the staph infection. The 28-year-old guard had surgery Tuesday night and coach Greg Schiano said that Nicks is doing well.
Cowboys •Jay Ratliff's mysterious and rapid decline with Dallas has ended with his release. The Cowboys unloaded their apparently disgruntled defensive tackle, saying he failed a physical after spending the first six weeks of the season on the physically unable to perform list.
Lions • Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was docked $31,500 by the league for a hit on Cleveland quarterback Brandon Weeden, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press. Suh wasn't penalized for his latest act that drew discipline, but it was shown on a video posted on NFL.com as vice president of officiating Dean Blandino said he wanted to look at it more for "potential helmet to the body."
Bears • Wide receiver Brandon Marshall says he has been fined $10,500 by the NFL for wearing green football shoes in the Oct. 10 game against the New York Giants. Marshall had said before last Thursday's game he was wearing the shoes to attract attention to Mental Health Awareness Week. Marshall has been treated for a personality disorder in the past. Marshall said he had planned to match any fine with a donation to his foundation, which supports mental health awareness. He said he also plans to auction off the shoes and donate the proceeds to charity.
Rams • Offensive tackle Rodger Saffold has returned to practice after missing a month with a knee injury. Saffold says he got limited work and wasn't sure about his status for this week. He injured his left knee in the opener against Arizona.
Giants • New York signed veteran running back Peyton Hillis. Hillis, who fills a void in the backfield, is a six-year veteran with a 1,000-yard season on his résumé. He has played for Denver, Cleveland and Kansas City, and has 2,470 yards and 21 touchdowns for his career.
Week 7 schedule
Seattle at Arizona, 6:25 p.m., NFL
Tampa at Atlanta, 11 a.m.
Chicago at Washington, 11 a.m.
Dallas at Philadelphia, 11 a.m., Ch. 13
New England at N.Y. Jets, 11 a.m., Ch. 2
Buffalo at Miami, 11 a.m.
St. Louis at Carolina, 11 a.m.
Cincinnati at Detroit, 11 a.m.
San Diego at Jacksonville, 11 a.m.
San Francisco at Tennessee, 2 p.m.
Houston at Kansas City, 2:25 p.m., Ch. 2
Cleveland at Green Bay, 2:25 p.m.
Baltimore at Pittsburgh, 2:25 p.m.
Denver at Indianapolis, 6:30 p.m., Ch. 5
Open • New Orleans, Oakland
Minnesota at N.Y. Giants, 6:40 p.m., ESPN