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NFL Notes: Freeman to start Sunday for Vikings
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Josh Freeman will be the starting quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night against the New York Giants.

Vikings coach Leslie Frazier made the announcement after practice Wednesday. Frazier said Christian Ponder will be the backup, not Matt Cassel.

Freeman will be the third starter in the last four games for Minnesota, assuming he makes it through the week without problems.

Freeman was cut by Tampa Bay on Oct. 3 and signed by Minnesota five days later. The 25-year-old started 59 games over four-plus seasons with the Buccaneers. The former first-round draft pick got a one-year contract with the Vikings (1-4). (see full story)

Giants: RB Peyton Hillis signs
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants have 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 resume. He has played for Denver, Cleveland and Kansas City, and has 2,470 yards and 21 touchdowns for his career.

Hillis has played in 65 games with 33 starts, and has also caught 111 passes for 867 yards. In 2010, he had a career season while playing for Cleveland. He ran for 1,177 yards, with 11 touchdowns, on 270 carries, and played in all 16 games. He is the only Brown to rush for 1,000 yards, catch 50 passes and score 10 touchdowns in a season.

"I'm coming in with an open heart and open mind," Hillis said, "and I'm looking to do whatever the coaching staff needs me to do to help this team win."

The Giants (0-6) will meet Minnesota (1-4) on Monday night.

Colts/Broncos: Irsay clarifies Manning comments
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- 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.

He added that he found it hard to see how anyone could misinterpret his comments, but controversy sells, so he understands why people try to stir things up. (see full story)

Bears: Marshall fined for shoes
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago 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 posted the league letter informing him of the fine on Twitter and wrote: "Football is my platform not my purpose. This fine is nothing compared to the conversation started & awareness raised."

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.

Patriots: Mayo placed on IR
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England linebacker Jerod Mayo will miss the rest of the season with the latest serious injury to a Patriots defensive star.

The team placed the two-time Pro Bowl player on injured reserve Wednesday, three days after he was hurt in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 30-27 win over the New Orleans Saints.

Mayo joins defensive tackle Vince Wilfork on IR. Wilfork tore his right Achilles tendon Sept. 29 in a 30-23 win over the Atlanta Falcons. He and Mayo are defensive co-captains.

After tackling Darren Sproles on Sunday, Mayo got up and reached for the upper right area of his chest. 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. (see full story)

Cowboys: Ratliff contract terminated
IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys have released defensive tackle Jay Ratliff, saying he failed a physical after spending the first six weeks of the season on the physically unable to perform list.

Ratliff missed the last six games of the 2012 season with a sports hernia injury and never made it on the field this year after getting injured during the conditioning test before training camp in July.

Before the season started, the ninth-year pro hinted that there was tension between him and the Dallas training staff after he did most of his rehabilitation work away from team headquarters.

He wasn't seen all season in the locker room when it was open to reporters.

Texans: Manning out for year
HOUSTON -- Houston starting strong safety Daniel Manning will miss the rest of the season because of a right knee injury.

Manning was injured in Sunday's loss to St. Louis. Coach Gary Kubiak called it a significant injury Monday but didn't have any further details on the injury Wednesday.

Shiloh Keo will fill in for Manning. Keo was a fifth-round draft pick in 2011 who spent time on the practice squad that year before appearing in 14 games last season.

The Texans also placed rookie cornerback A.J. Bouye on injured reserve Wednesday with a right hamstring injury. Bouye had played mostly special teams this season.

Houston signed cornerback Elbert Mack and linebacker Mike Mohamed to take their spots on the roster.