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Roger Goodell says injury rates don't rise on 'TNF'

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- The NFL and CBS are preparing to take Thursday Night Football to the next level.

Commissioner Roger Goodell, Patriots owner Robert Kraft and CBS CEO Leslie Moonves gathered Thursday at The Beverly Hilton Hotel to share what a bigger, brighter version of TNF will look like come September.

Moonves called prime-time football a "sure thing" and hailed the Thursday package as the "single-best product on network television and anywhere."

Goodell outlined the partnership with CBS as a chance to grow the franchise and expose fans to all 32 teams on the big stage, while Kraft called the union "an enhancement" to NFL Network and the game itself.

But do the players agree? Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III wondered aloud this week if there are "enough days in the week for us to be playing on Thursdays."

Goodell pointed to injury rates that show a "slight decrease" on TNF and cited the many players who praised the scheduling during the most recent negotiations over the league's collective bargaining agreement.

Kraft said Patriots coach Bill Belichick "likes the Thursday night games and would be happy to have more than one in a season," arguing that short weeks reward the league's well-prepared teams while giving the players an extended break on the other side.

The agreement between the league and CBS is for the 2014 season with an additional year at the NFL's option. Moonves went Joe Namath on the room and guaranteed that the marriage would be a long one.

"We knew this was a one-year deal," said Moonves. "We're confident that after this year the NFL will sit down and give us a longer deal."

CBS will air eight early-season games before NFL Network takes the baton for eight late-season games leading up to the playoffs. Fourteen games will be played Thursday, with two late-season games taking place Saturday.

All 16 games will be produced by CBS with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms -- the network's No. 1 announcing team -- calling Thursday night games. The first eight games on CBS will be simulcast on NFL Network.

The latest "Around The League Podcast" invites Bucky Brooks in-studio for a team-by-team AFC training camp preview.

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