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NFL notebook

Incognito’s texts labeled as racist

– In the stadium program sold at the Miami Dolphins’ game on Halloween, Richie Incognito was asked who’s the easiest teammate to scare. His answer: Jonathan Martin.

The troubled, troubling relationship between the two linemen took an ominous turn Monday with fresh revelations: Incognito sent text messages to his teammate that were racist and threatening, two people familiar with the situation said.

The people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the Dolphins and NFL haven’t disclosed the nature of the misconduct that led to Sunday’s suspension of Incognito, a veteran with a reputation for dirty play.

Martin, a tackle, remained absent from practice Monday one week after he suddenly left the team because of emotional issues. Also missing was Incognito, a guard suspended indefinitely late Sunday by coach Joe Philbin for his treatment of Martin.

Agents for the two players didn’t respond to requests for comment.

The 319-pound Incognito, a ninth-year pro, is white. The 312-pound Martin, who is in his second NFL season, is black. For much of the season, they’ve played side by side.

The team and NFL continued their investigation into allegations by Martin’s representatives that he was bullied, and Philbin said Dolphins owner Stephen Ross asked Commissioner Roger Goodell for assistance. The NFL Players Association also planned to look into the matter.

“Every decision I’ve made, everything we’ve done in this facility has been done with one thing in mind,” Philbin said. “That’s to help our players and our organization reach their full potential. Any type of conduct (or) behavior that detracts from that objective is not acceptable and is not tolerated.”

It’s unclear whether coaches or management had any inkling of harassment between the players before Martin left the team, and Philbin declined to answer a question about the locker-room culture. Rumblings of dissension have also included complaints by young players that they’re pressured to pay more than their share when team members socialize together.

Guilty verdict in Taylor slaying

A 23-year-old man was convicted of second-degree murder in the 2007 slaying of Washington Redskins star Sean Taylor, who was shot outside his own bedroom after witnesses said he confronted young men who had broken into his Miami home looking for money.

The jury deliberated about 16 hours over four days before returning the verdict in the trial of Eric Rivera Jr., who admitted in a videotaped confession to police days after Taylor’s death that he fired the fatal shot after kicking in the bedroom door. At the trial, he said on the witness stand that his confession was given only under police pressure and amid purported threats to his family.

Rivera was also convicted of armed burglary. Although Rivera did not get the maximum first-degree murder conviction, he still faces a potential life prison sentence. Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Dennis Murphy did not immediately set a sentencing date but will hold a related hearing on Dec. 10.

Around the league

Cincinnati put defensive tackle Geno Atkins on the injured reserve list Monday, four days after he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. Atkins led all NFL interior linemen with 12 1/2 sacks last season and led the Bengals with six this season. Cincinnati signed defensive tackle Christo Bilukidi, a sixth-round pick of the Raiders last year. He played in 13 games as a rookie and the first five games this season before he was waived. …

Tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. returned to the New York Jets’ facility after serving a four-game suspension by the NFL for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. Winslow said Monday that he’s still unsure why the positive test occurred, but thinks it was possibly for allergy medication he took. He insists that he doesn’t take “illegal stuff.” …

Buffalo released quarterback Matt Flynn, and starter EJ Manuel was cleared for practice after missing four games and could play Sunday against Pittsburgh. ...

Minnesota tight end Kyle Rudolph, a former Notre Dame star, will miss at least the next month with a fractured left foot. …

San Francisco activated wide receiver Mario Manningham from the physically unable to perform list, and he is available for Sunday’s game against Carolina. …

Cleveland quarterback Jason Campbell does not have broken ribs, X-rays showed, and he should be able to play Nov. 17 at Cincinnati, Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said.

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