Referees Association backs official on leave

The NFL Referees Association is questioning why the league isn’t focusing more attention on Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes for threatening umpire Roy Ellison following Buffalo’s game at Miami last weekend.

Ellison has been placed on administrative leave while the NFL investigates Hughes’ accusation that Ellison called him a vulgar name during the game.

In a statement released Wednesday, NFLRA executive director Scott Green says the association expects the NFL’s investigation to clear Ellison while turning the focus on Hughes.

Green says Hughes has a history of being flagged for personal misconduct and arguing with officials.

“While we are disappointed that the NFL has yet to address that aspect of the incident, we look forward to working with the league during its review, and will ensure that Roy’s rights are protected during this process,” Green said.

TV video shows the player confronting Ellison in the tunnel near the locker room and accusing him of using a derogatory term. Hughes waved his index finger and shouted, “I’ll catch you! I’ll catch you, guaranteed!” before being pulled away by a teammate.

Ellison was suspended in 2013 for making a derogatory statement to Washington tackle Trent Williams during a game.

Sanders hurt at practice

ENGLEWOOD, Colo.– Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders was helped off the practice field Wednesday after crumpling to the ground on a pass play and grabbing his left ankle.

Sanders, who became the Broncos’ No. 1 receiver with the trade of Demaryius Thomas to the Houston Texans last month, missed four games last season with a right ankle injury.

Sanders leads the Broncos (6-6) with 71 catches for 868 yards and four touchdowns. He’s also run for a touchdown and thrown for a touchdown.

The Broncos have lost several starters to injuries, including star cornerback Chris Harris Jr. (fractured fibula) last weekend. He avoided going on IR, however, unlike offensive linemen Matt Paradis, Ronald Leary and Max Garcia and tight ends Jake Butt, Jeff Heuerman and Troy Fumagalli.

Newton says he’ll be ready

CHARLOTTE, N.C.– Cam Newton insists he’ll be ready to play against the Browns despite lingering pain in his throwing shoulder.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera wasn’t quite as certain Wednesday saying, “We’ll see. We’re not even to Friday.”

More than 20 months after having surgery to repair a partially torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder, Newton is still experiencing discomfort. Coordinator Norv Turner has limited Newton’s downfield throws this season and twice has replaced Newton with backup Taylor Heinicke when lining up for Hail Mary passes.

Newton reps were limited in practice — as they have been for several weeks — as part of Rivera calls “the new normal.”

The Panthers (6-6) are a half-game behind the Vikings in the race for the second NFC wild card spot.

Howard status uncertain

DAVIE, Fla. — NFL interception leader Xavien Howard is nursing a knee injury, leaving his availability uncertain for the Miami Dolphins on Sunday against New England.

Miami coach Adam Gase described Howard’s status as week to week. Teammate Bobby McCain said he was confident Howard will play this week.

Shortly after being chosen AFC defensive player of the week, Howard missed Wednesday’s practice, the first since he was hurt in a win Sunday over the Buffalo Bills.

Howard had two interceptions for the second game in a row to increase his season total to seven. He missed only one play when he hurt his knee, but the injury worsened after the game.

Gase declined to say whether Howard was looking at possible surgery, but said he expects him back this season.

Raiders sign Anderson

ALAMEDA, Calif. — Running back C.J. Anderson has signed with the Oakland Raiders and could be in their backfield for Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Raiders coach Jon Gruden said that the move is insurance in case Doug Martin isn’t available. The Raiders primary running back since Marshawn Lynch went on injured reserve with a groin injury in mid-October, Martin is nursing a sore knee and his status is uncertain.

“Although we think he’ll be ready to go we can’t take any precautions,” Gruden said Wednesday. “We have to be ready. We have four games left to play and the Steelers blitz almost every play, so we needed a back. Fortunately for us C.J. Anderson was available and we’re happy to have him.”

A Pro Bowl back with Denver in 2014 when he had nearly 1,200 all-purpose yards, Anderson was released by the Carolina Panthers on Nov. 12 and had tryouts with Kansas City and Detroit before signing a deal with the Raiders for the remainder of this season.

Trubisky expects to return

LAKE FOREST, Ill. — Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky expects to return against the Los Angeles Rams after missing the past two games because of a right shoulder injury.

Trubisky says he feels “really close to 100 percent” and he’s “just gotta show” coach Matt Nagy he will be ready for the primetime matchup against Aaron Donald and the NFC West champions at Soldier Field on Sunday.

Nagy says he feels “strong that he will play,” though he wouldn’t quite commit to it.

Trubisky was hurt sliding late in a win over Minnesota on Nov. 18. He was hit by the Vikings’ Harrison Smith on the left side, resulting in his throwing shoulder getting driven into the ground.

Chase Daniel has started the past two games.