NFL notebook: Witten closing in on receptions record

| Friday, Dec. 21, 2012, 6:32 p.m.

Jason Witten had nearly as many drops as catches through three games, back when his side still hurt just about every time he moved because of a lacerated spleen.

The Dallas Cowboys tight end dismissed the suggestion that the injury had anything to do with an uncharacteristic case of stone hands. The seven-time Pro Bowler didn't really even want to say how long it took to feel normal again after injuring the spleen in a preseason game.

Dallas coach Jason Garrett puts it somewhere around a month into the season. That's about when Witten started a career-best stretch that has him six catches from breaking Tony Gonzalez's tight end record of 102 in a season.

Witten could get it Sunday at home against New Orleans.

Sanchez mum on status

Mark Sanchez knows he won't be the New York Jets' starting quarterback this week.

Beyond that, the one-time face of the franchise won't say whether he thinks he'll be back with the team next season.

“I really haven't even thought about it,” Sanchez said. “Honestly, I'm a Jet. That's all I've known.”

Chances good for RG3

Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III is listed as probable for Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Or, as coach Mike Shanahan put it: “There is a very, very good chance he is going to play.”

Griffin went through a full practice Friday for the third straight day.

Colts eagerly await Pagano

The Indianapolis Colts are hoping to get head coach Chuck Pagano back Monday, and all indications are that he will be.

After being medically cleared by his physician, the decision about when to return and how much to do is up to Pagano and the Colts. While interim coach Bruce Arians told reporters Friday that Pagano's return is “still up in the air,” he noted that Pagano felt “pretty solid” and that he was “ready to go.”

Players expect to see him at a team meeting Monday morning — a meeting that promises to be both joyous and emotional.

Bills secure new lease

The Buffalo Bills have reached an agreement with Erie County and the state on a lease deal for the Ralph Wilson Stadium that will keep the NFL franchise in western New York until at least 2020, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and team officials said Friday.

The agreement includes $130 million in renovations for the nearly 40-year-old stadium, with the Bills providing $35 million and the state and county covering the other $95 million.

Cuomo, speaking at the team's headquarters in Orchard Park, said the lease keeps the Bills in Orchard Park at least through the first seven years of the 10-year pact.

Around the league

San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Justin Smith's availability is in question after he missed practice Friday because of an elbow injury for the third consecutive day. ... Cornerback Chris Cook will play for the Minnesota Vikings at Houston on Sunday following a six-game absence because of a broken right arm. ... Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said after practice Friday that he expects cornerback Richard Sherman to play against the 49ers on Sunday. ... Linebacker Brian Urlacher will miss his third straight game because of a hamstring injury when the Chicago Bears visit the Arizona Cardinals Sunday. ... Ahmad Bradshaw took part in practice on a limited basis Friday, and New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin said he was encouraged about having him back for Sunday's game against the Baltimore Ravens.

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