1 » The San Francisco 49ers on Wednesday released veteran defensive lineman Ray McDonald, who was investigated earlier in the day on suspicion of sexual assault. “This is about a pattern of poor behavior,” 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said in a statement. “We expect a lot from our players, hold them accountable for their actions.” San Francisco stood by McDonald early in the season when he was accused of domestic violence; McDonald was arrested but never charged with the crime, and the accusation was eventually thrown out. However, two such allegations in a single season – the second of which led to the search of his home by the San Jose Police Department – was simply too much for the franchise to handle. “If this was one incident, we would be standing up here talking about due process, like we have multiple times, in multiple situations,” Baalke added. “But this is just a pattern of decision-making that Ray has demonstrated over a period of time that, once again, it’s no longer going to be tolerated.”
McDonald has been a solid contributor for the 49ers over the last eight seasons and was putting together arguably his second-best campaign with 39 tackles, three sacks and a forced fumble through 14 games. He was in the first year of a five-year, $20.1 million contract that paid him $5 million as a signing bonus this season and an annual average salary of $4.02 million.
2 » Still not 100 percent coming off a torn ACL he suffered in the middle of his 2013 season with the Florida Gators, defensive tackle Dominique Easley has struggled to see significant action with the New England Patriots during his rookie campaign. The Patriots knew full well when they selected him that Easley was an injury-risk pick and may not be a full-time contributor until 2015, and they came to a final resolution on that this Tuesday when Easley was moved over to injured reserve, ending his rookie season. Easley saw a total of 270 snaps of action, registering 10 tackles, a sack and an interception.
3 » Former Gators wide receiver Louis Murphy was moved on and off the Tampa Bay Buccaneers roster this season but did make an impact for the team when he played, hauling in 31 passes for 380 yards and two touchdowns with a 99-yard game at Pittsburgh, touchdowns in consecutive weeks (Oct. 5, Oct. 12) and a 113-yard performance at Chicago. He was on pace for the third-best season of his career – most productive since 2010 – until going down with an ankle injury on Sunday. He will not get the opportunity to try and build on those numbers as the Bucs announced Monday that Murphy (ankle) has been placed on injured reserve and will miss the final two games of the season.
4 » New York Jets WR Percy Harvin (ankle) has been hobbled for the last few weeks and was held without a catch on Sunday but returned to practice Thursday and is expected to suit up for the second-to-last game of the regular season. The status of Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden (shoulder) is a bit more in question for the weekend as Haden has not yet returned to the field since being removed from last Sunday’s game with what was believed to be a serious injury. Haden was ruled day-to-day on Monday and rode a stationary bike in practice on Thursday.