GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) - The Green Bay Packers are looking forward to the return of Jordy Nelson this weekend.
The availability of fellow receiver Randall Cobb for the regular-season finale at division rival Minnesota on Sunday is uncertain. While Nelson is probable to play after being out the last three games because of a hamstring injury, Cobb is questionable after he had limited work in practice Friday.
"We had a menu set for him as far as going through a workout," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "He was able to accomplish that. He did some (kick) returns. He took some practice reps. So we'll see how he is in the morning. He looked pretty good."
The Packers (11-4) would clinch the No. 2 seed in the NFC and a first-round bye in the playoffs by beating the Vikings (9-6), who are vying for a wild-card berth.
Cobb suffered ankle and knee injuries in Green Bay's 55-7 win over Tennessee last Sunday. The versatile second-year player leads the Packers in catches (80) and receiving yards (954), has eight touchdown receptions, has been utilized on run plays out of the backfield and also has been a big-play threat as a kick returner.
Cobb didn't talk to reporters after practice Friday afternoon.
"He looked like he was good," receiver Jeremy Ross said. "You can tell the injury is still present, but he looked like he was running pretty good."
McCarthy expects to have Nelson back in the mix with Green Bay's talented receiving corps. The fifth-year player aggravated a hamstring injury in the first quarter of the Packers' 23-14 home win over Minnesota on Dec. 2.
"I feel good about Jordy Nelson," McCarthy said. "He's gone through a full week of work. Felt good this morning going through the medical evaluation, so I have no reason not to believe that he'll be ready to go Sunday."
McCarthy made it clear Friday his team is determined to beat the Vikings.
"Yesterday's padded practice was probably as spirited of a practice we've had in at least a month," McCarthy said. "Actually, I took the pads off for the last team period - I was a little concerned about it was a little too active. Our guys are ready. We're focused on beating the Vikings and sweeping the division."
Payton, Saints agree
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Suspended New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton has agreed in principle to a multiyear contract extension, according to two people familiar with the deal.
The people told The Associated Press about the deal Friday on condition of anonymity because it hasn't been signed and final details regarding the length of the contract and financial compensation are still being worked out.
Payton was due to begin his seventh season as the Saints' head coach in 2012 before being suspended for the whole season by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in connection with the NFL's bounty investigation.
Payton signed an extension in 2011, but Goodell objected to certain language in that deal, leaving Payton's future uncertain until the deal was reached Friday.
The agreement was first reported by Fox Sports.
Forte to start
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) - Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte expects to start Sunday against the Bears despite an ankle injury suffered last week.
Forte went through a full practice Friday and was listed probable for the game at Detroit, which the Bears will need to win if they have any shot at making the playoffs.
Linebacker Brian Urlacher is doubtful for the Lions game, although he went through a limited practice Friday in his first workout since before suffering a hamstring injury Dec. 2.
"I was encouraged that he was finally able to get on the practice field, and it's not like we had a full-padded practice today, though," coach Lovie Smith said. "But he was able to move around, which we thought he would be able to do. The normal progress we hoped he would make, he has made. Brian doesn't have to necessarily practice a full practice before we would play him, but we're not to that point."
Ryan wants 15 more years as Jets coach
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) - Rex Ryan has no plans to go anywhere.
Doesn't want to, he said.
The feisty New York Jets coach opened his news conference Friday by denouncing a published report that said he would welcome being fired if owner Woody Johnson doesn't make significant personnel and coaching changes to the offense.
"There was a report that was untrue," Ryan said. "The fact is, and it's simple: This is the only team that I want to coach. Period. This is my team. These are my players. I don't want to coach somebody else's players. This is the team I want to coach."
With the Jets (6-9) out of the playoffs for the second straight season, Ryan's job status has become somewhat tenuous in his fourth year. But Ryan said he was "mad as a hornet" when he read the Daily News story, and immediately called Johnson to deny it.
The paper, which quoted unidentified sources, said it stood by the report. The back page carried a picture of Ryan and a headline that said: "Rex Wants Out ... Unless Woody spends on Jets' woeful offense."
Ryan said he was contacted by the reporter Thursday night, but his response wasn't included. Thompson said it was an off-the-record comment and as such was not published.
"There's no bigger Jet than me," Ryan insisted. "I want to be the Jets' head coach for the next 15 years."
Lewis to start at QB for Browns vs. Steelers
BEREA, Ohio (AP) - Once practice ended on Friday, quarterback Thad Lewis was approached by Browns coach Pat Shurmur, who had great news for the third-stringer.
"He said, 'You're the man,'" Lewis said.
And just like that, Lewis became Cleveland's starter Sunday in the season finale at Pittsburgh, where he will take his first regular-season NFL snaps against the Steelers and their No. 1-ranked defense.
"It's exciting," Lewis said. "It's a blessing for a childhood dream come true."
Shoulder injuries to starter Brandon Weeden and No. 2 QB Colt McCoy will give Lewis a chance to show what he can do after almost three seasons spent on practice squads, running the scout team and finishing off exhibition games with other backups. He's been waiting for his opportunity, and he'll get it against James Harrison, Troy Polamalu and Co. - amid a sea of Terrible Towels.
Lewis never considered his first start would come against one of the league's most feared defenses.
"Part of my childhood dream was to be a starter one day in the NFL. Who it was against, I didn't have a visual of that," Lewis said, smiling. "But it's a challenge and if you don't like challenges then you're in the wrong sport."