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The Baltimore Sun

Ten noteworthy NFL items entering today's games:


Vikings -- Minnesota could finish with the most dominating run defense in NFL history and not make the playoffs. The Vikings are allowing 54.1 rushing yards a game, putting them on pace for the best mark since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. The Vikings also are in position to break the NFL record of 47.2 yards set by the 1942 Chicago Bears.


Bears -- For now, coach Lovie Smith is using cornerback Devin Hester only on special teams and defense. But if quarterback Rex Grossman had his druthers, a rookie with six returns for touchdowns would be getting some snaps on offense. "Anytime he has the ball in his hands, good things happen," Grossman said of Hester.


Jets -- Quarterback Patrick Ramsey has been relegated to third string behind rookie Kellen Clemens. Ramsey was beaten out when Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer opened the backup position for a three-day competition during practice.


More Jets -- The team's No. 3 ranking in fewest penalties (59) could stem from players being forced to run after practice if an infraction is committed during practice.


Texans -- Morale is rock bottom in Houston after quarterback Vince Young - the homegrown player that the Texans passed on with the top pick in April's draft - led visiting Tennessee to a 26-20 win with a 39-yard touchdown run in overtime last week. Defensive end Mario Williams, the player chosen instead of Young, had three tackles and a pass defended.


Colts -- Only one team - the 1989 Broncos - has lost three regular-season games after November and reached the Super Bowl. The Colts (10-3) have lost their past two games and still have tough home games left tomorrow night against Cincinnati (8-5) and Dec. 31 vs. Miami (6-7).


Ravens -- By winning out, the Ravens (10-3) would gain home-field advantage in the playoffs should San Diego (11-2) and Indianapolis (10-3) stumble in one of their three remaining games. The Ravens would hold a tiebreaker edge over the Chargers because of a 16-13 victory in Week 4.


Cardinals -- Arizona's offensive line has excelled in the past four games by surrendering only three sacks and paving the way for two 100-yard rushing performances by Edgerrin James.


Packers -- Green Bay is getting its money's worth out of defensive end Aaron Kampman, who has played on 392 of a possible 399 snaps in the past six games. Said Kampman, who signed a four-year, $21 million contract in the offseason: "This is the stretch where you just kind of go, 'Let's get after it.' "


Lions -- Unfortunately for Kevin Jones, major injuries for quality running backs aren't uncommon in Detroit. Three of the five 1,000-yard rushers in franchise history - Steve Owens, Billy Sims and James Stewart - suffered career-ending injuries while playing for the Lions. Jones, 23, could become the fourth after suffering a severe foot injury last week.

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