Ryan Mallett’s wait to be a starter is over.
After toiling in the shadow of Tom Brady for three seasons in New England and backing up Ryan Fitzpatrick for nine games this year, coach Bill O’Brien said Wednesday that the Texans will bench Fitzpatrick and start Mallett at Cleveland on Nov. 16.
“I’ve been waiting four years for this,” Mallett said. “Now it’s my time to have an opportunity to show what I can do.”
O’Brien made the announcement as the Texans prepare to take time off during their bye week. He lauded Fitzpatrick for his hard work, but said the team needed a change.
“I might be wrong,” O’Brien said of the move, “but I think this might be the thing that helps our team.”
The coach made it clear that this isn’t a one-game experiment and that Mallett will be Houston’s starter for the rest of the season.
The Texans traded for Mallett on Aug. 31, reuniting him with O’Brien, who was the offensive coordinator for the Patriots when he was a rookie in 2011. Mallett didn’t see much action in New England, and didn’t take a single snap in two of his three seasons there. He appeared in four games in 2012, but completed just one of four passes for 17 yards with an interception.
Niners RB Lattimore to retire
Running back Marcus Lattimore never played an NFL snap because of two serious knee injuries while he was in college, and he has decided his knees might not hold up through the rigors of a 16-game season.
Lattimore informed the 49ers he will retire, two years after blowing out his right knee at South Carolina and working tirelessly to try to come back.
The team made the announcement, two days after coach Jim Harbaugh said Lattimore was weighing his football future.
“He gave it his best shot,” Harbaugh said. “There’s a trusting, lasting friendship there.”
The 23-year-old Lattimore, San Francisco’s 2013 fourth-round draft pick, practiced for the first time last Wednesday and Thursday before sitting out Friday. He was eligible to return after Week 6, but Harbaugh said Lattimore had doubts his knees would allow him to play at the highest level long term.
“I talked to him. He made his mind up,” running back Frank Gore said. “It’s tough, man.”
Bills’ Watkins OK after scare
A person familiar with the diagnosis has told the Associated Press that Bills rookie receiver Sammy Watkins’ groin injury won’t prevent him from playing against Kansas City on Sunday.
The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because coach Doug Marrone declined to provide details of the injury after Watkins was hurt in practice on Wednesday.
The person said Watkins is fine and ready to go.
Marrone would only say that Watkins didn’t finish practice and that it was too early to determine the severity of the injury.
When asked about a timetable, Marrone said the Bills’ leading receiver “could play or miss 2-3 weeks, who knows.”
The Bills (5-3) are coming out of their bye week and have a home matchup against the Chiefs (5-3) on Sunday.
Romo skips practice in London with injured back
Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo sat out the team’s first practice in London because of his injured back.
Romo, who missed last Sunday’s 28-17 loss to the Arizona Cardinals with his third back injury in the last 18 months, made the trip to England but stayed at the hotel while the rest of his teammates practiced at Allianz Park.
The Cowboys (6-3) face the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-8) on Sunday at Wembley Stadium, the last of three regular-season NFL games in London this year.
Instead of Romo, backup Brandon Weeden took the snaps during practice.
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett, however, remained optimistic that Romo would be ready for Sunday.
Bills’ owners commit to new home
The Bills’ new owners are committed to building a stadium and also are working to end the team’s series of annual home games in Toronto.
Those were among the topics Terry and Kim Pegula touched on during a 20-minute interview with the Associated Press.
The construction of a stadium was something the NFL emphasized during the sale process, Terry Pegula said. The one answer the Pegulas couldn’t provide yet is a location, timeline or how the costs will be split.
As for playing games in Toronto, the Pegulas are in talks with Rogers Communication to cancel the series that began in 2008. The Bills were scheduled to play four more regular-season games in Toronto before the series was postponed in March for this season.
Plane circles with banner urging Jets to fire GM
A plane urging the Jets to fire John Idzik circled above the practice field for about 20 minutes as the players went through drills while the embattled general manager watched.
The plane with a banner trailing behind that read “FIRE JOHN IDZIK” began to circle Wednesday a few minutes after the media arrived as Jets players began stretching. With it buzzing above, it appeared most players ignored the plane — as Idzik stood on the sideline. Owner Woody Johnson is also attending practice.
The plane stopped circling shortly before the 30-minute period in which the media is allowed to attend practice.
Idzik, in his second season as the Jets’ GM, has been highly criticized as the team is off to a 1-8 start that includes eight straight losses.
Mother of Peterson son supports plea deal
The mother of Vikings running back Adrian Peterson’s son said she supports a plea deal that gave Peterson probation on a charge of abusing the boy.
She also hopes the NFL doesn’t impose any additional punishment.
Peterson acknowledged using a wooden switch to discipline his 4-year-old son earlier this year. He pleaded no contest on Tuesday in Conroe, Texas, to a misdemeanor charge of reckless assault.
The mother of Peterson’s son has remained anonymous and requested privacy. In a statement through her Minnesota attorney, Kelly Dohm, the woman repeated she believes Peterson loves the boy and will remain involved throughout his life. The plea agreement allows Peterson to resume contact with the child.
The NFL said Tuesday it has no timetable for a decision on Peterson’s status.
Megatron expected back for Lions
Calvin Johnson is expected to return this week as the Lions enter a critical stretch of the season.
Johnson said he is back to his normal practice routine and will play Sunday when Detroit (6-2) hosts the Dolphins (5-3) at Ford Field.
The star wide receiver has missed the past three games with an ankle injury.
Around the league
Browns Pro Bowl tight end Jordan Cameron and Bengals cornerback Leon Hall will miss their game Thursday night with concussions. … The Chiefs signed fullback Anthony Sherman, who has helped pave the way for one of the NFL’s top rushing offenses, to a three-year extension worth a reported $7 million over the life of the contract.