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  1. Sports

Cousins blocks out naysayers

ASHBURN, Va. — Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins says he literally tunes out critics who suggest his starting job is on the line.

"The way I don't listen to what they're saying is I don't listen to what they're saying," Cousins said Wednesday. "I turn on NPR instead of (sports talk radio), sometimes. I turn on HGTV instead of ESPN."

Washington hosts the Bucs on Sunday coming off consecutive losses. Cousins has thrown two interceptions in both defeats.

But Cousins said it's crucial not to overreact heading into a matchup that was earlier termed "critical" and a "code red" by coach Jay Gruden.

"I don't think it's going to help us to hit the panic button," Cousins said. "I don't think it's going to help us to be completely relaxed. I think in the middle lies virtue. You've got to have a balance."

Cousins is hoping two key offensive starters can play. Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams and former Gator tight end Jordan Reed both returned to limited practice as they progress through the NFL's concussion protocol.

BIG BEN PRACTICES: Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger practiced as a limited participant and said he felt he "threw the ball really well." Roethlisberger has missed three games with a sprained MCL.

WHAT'S A CATCH? Lions receiver Calvin Johnson admits he's still confused by what is and is not a catch. On Sunday, Detroit receiver Golden Tate was awarded a touchdown after a review overturned the initial call of a Bears interception. "I thought I understood the rule," he said. "I don't think anybody does know. But I'm glad it's a touchdown. That's all I can say."

NO SIGN OF JP-P: Former USF defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul has yet to meet with the Giants and have his injured hand examined, ESPN reported.

NO MORE EYE BLACK: Cam Heyward is done fighting with the NFL over writing his father's nickname on his eye black. The Steelers defensive end met with NFL officials after the league fined him for writing "Iron Head" on his eye black. Craig "Iron Head" Heyward died from cancer in 2006.

COWBOYS: Receiver Dez Bryant, out since the opener with a broken right foot, wasn't on the practice field during the early portion open to the media.

DOLPHINS: Defensive end Olivier Vernon said he was fined by the NFL for a late, low hit on Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota and plans to appeal.

JETS: Running back Stevan Ridley, on the physically unable to perform list with a torn ACL and MCL, practiced for the first time this season.

RAVENS: Tight end Dennis Pitta returned to the practice field, hopeful he can rebound from a hip injury that has kept him sidelined since last year.