The NFL hit the halfway point with a slew of crucial quarterback calls. Will anybody ring up Colin Kaepernick?

Andrew Luck and Deshaun Watson went on injured reserve, Trevor Siemian was sent to the bench, and Eli Manning could be headed there soon. Jameis Winston sparked a sideline scuffle after he was taken out for health reasons, and the Cleveland Browns blew it at the trade deadline after thinking they had gotten their quarterback.

Cleveland’s deal for Bengals backup AJ McCarron fell apart in the final minutes when the Browns failed to get the necessary paperwork to the NFL offices by the trade deadline.

So, add the big paperwork mess-up to the long list of missteps by a franchise that’s been unable to solve its QB riddle since last century. Browns fans have had to watch Carson Wentz and Watson, two players the team could have drafted in the past two years, excel in Philadelphia and Houston, respectively, while Cleveland has gone 0-8 this season and 1-23 under coach Hue Jackson.

Wentz has led the Eagles to an NFL-best 8-1 record, including a 51-23 blowout of the Broncos on Sunday, but Watson blew out his right ACL on a read-option play at practice Thursday, ruining his remarkable rookie season.

Tom Savage replaced Watson in the starting lineup and completed 43 percent of his passes in a 20-14 loss to the downtrodden Colts, who officially ended Luck’s wasted 2017 season by putting him on IR last week.

Savage didn’t call his final timeout after getting the Texans to the Indy 8 with 38 seconds remaining. Nor did he spike the ball to stop the clock, which ticked down to 18 seconds before the Texans got off the next play. The Texans finally used their remaining timeout with 2 seconds left after three incompletions, and Savage was strip-sacked on the final play, sending Houston to 3-5.

Texans coach Bill O’Brien defended the team’s clock management afterward, and NBC analyst Tony Dungy offered some friendly advice: “Coach is a little grumpy there. I think I can help him out. Sign Colin Kaepernick, OK? You don’t have good quarterback play. When you have a mobile quarterback, your offense looks different. There’s a mobile quarterback out there to get.”

On Monday, O’Brien said he and general manager Rick Smith have discussed signing Kaepernick , the former 49ers QB who started the national anthem protest movement by kneeling last season to raise awareness of social injustices.

“Oh yeah, everybody gets discussed,” O’Brien said. “Is that a problem? Isn’t that the way most teams do it. People seem shocked by that.”

The Texans have not been very active in anthem protests, but the majority of the team knelt during the anthem before a game on Oct. 29 at Seattle after a report revealed that team owner Bob McNair said, “We can’t have the inmates running the prison,” during a meeting of NFL owners about players who protest by kneeling. No member of the team kneeled this week before Houston’s annual salute to service game to honor members of the military.

Texans defensive end Jadeveon Clowney dressed up as a prisoner for a Halloween party last week.

FIREWORKS FORGIVENESS : The Eagles apologized to fans for running out of the fireworks they set off after every Philly touchdown. They had seven of them against Denver, two of which followed interceptions of Brock Osweiler, who replaced the turnover-prone Siemian as Denver’s starter.

One of those was a pass into triple coverage to Isaiah McKenzie, who’s generously listed at 5-foot-8.

“I’m hoping Paxton Lynch is healthy and he starts,” against the Patriots next weekend, NBC analyst Tony Dungy said. “I think that’s what they have to do.”

Lynch has practiced just a handful of times since returning from a sprained throwing shoulder in the preseason. And he hasn’t practiced at all with the starters since August, when his inability to decipher vanilla defenses allowed Siemian to beat him out again for the starting job.

ELI EXIT ? After the Giants took their worst home loss since 1964 — 52-21 to the Rams — New York coach Ben McAdoo said it was evaluation time for his 1-7 team: “So, we’ll take a look and see if there’s any players we can give reps to that have a chance to be a part of our future,” McAdoo said.

Does that include QB?

“That includes everybody,” he said.

FIGHT NIGHT : Bengals receiver A.J. Green and Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey were ejected for fighting in Jacksonville. Referee Brad Allen said officials warned both players earlier in the game. Allen said Ramsey was ejected for instigating the fight, and Green was tossed for throwing punches.

“You don’t have to throw a punch to be disqualified,” Allen said.

SUPERDOME SCUFFLE : But a blindside hit from behind didn’t do the trick in New Orleans.

Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston left Tampa Bay’s 30-10 loss at halftime with a sore shoulder, but he instigated a scuffle along the sideline when he vigorously pressed his finger into the back of rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore’s helmet during a dead-ball period after a failed third-down pass.

“I told him to go to his sideline,” Winston said.

Lattimore turned and shoved Winston, after which Bucs receiver Mike Evans raced in and leveled Lattimore from behind .

“I’m going to protect my quarterback no matter what, but I shouldn’t have done that. That was kind of malicious,” conceded Evans, who was flagged for unnecessary roughness but wasn’t ejected.

“If there’s not an ejection in that situation,” Saints coach Sean Payton said, “then I don’t know when there’s supposed to be an ejection.”


With contributions from AP Sports Writers Tom Withers, Brett Martel, Mark Long and Kristie Rieken.


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