The New York Giants reached back to their Super Bowl championship season of 2007 Thursday with the signing of defensive tackle Barry Cofield.

Cofield, drafted in the fourth round (124th overall) out of Northwestern in 2006, played for Tom Coughlin until Cofield left for Washington as a free agent in 2011. In five years with the Giants, he missed only one game and started all but two.

"He brings a veteran presence and brings a guy who's very aware of the way we play," Coughlin said. "He's a guy in excellent condition and will really help us down the stretch."

Cofield, 6-3 and 305 pounds, is expected to bulk up the middle of a run defense that allows a 16th-ranked 110.2 yards per game. He took the roster spot vacated by the release Wednesday of safety Brandon Meriweather. But ostensibly, he will provide insurance in case current starting defensive tackle Markus Kuhn fails to recover from the knee injury he suffered Monday night in Miami.

Ball to play for Pats?

Running back Montee Ball, cut by the Denver Broncos in early September, could make his season as early as Sunday with the Patriots.

With the Patriots down to two healthy running backs, Ball, 25, was added to their practice squad Tuesday. He wasn't on the active roster, but it's hard to imagine the team going into Sunday's game against the Titans without a third running back.

"Wherever they want me, wherever they need me," said Ball, who spent his time off at home in Wisconsin. "I'm not in a position anymore to where I can say what I want to do and where I want to be."

Ball played two years with the Broncos, gaining 731 yards and scoring five touchdowns on 175 carries.

Steelers' flags drop

The Steelers made officials a fixture at their practices during training camp, hoping their presence would help cut down on penalties once the regular season began.

So far, the tactic has worked.

The Steelers (8-5) are the NFL's least-penalized team this season, averaging 5.6 flags per game. That's down from 2014, when they averaged 6.4 every time out.

Coach Mike Tomlin said his players seeing guys in black-and-white stripes so frequently over the summer has helped: "[It] aided us in terms of practicing with good habits in the right way — that's going to allow us to keep the penalties down."

'Concussion' scandal?

In the trailer for the movie "Concussion," star Will Smith says: "I found a disease that no one has ever seen."

It's a claim the real-life doctor portrayed by Smith, forensic pathologist Bennet Omalu, has himself made for years.

But Omalu neither discovered chronic traumatic encephalopathy nor named the disease, according to scientific journals and brain researchers interviewed by the Associated Press. And though no one doubts that Omalu's diagnosis of Pittsburgh Steelers center Mike Webster was pivotal in understanding the dangers of football, fellow researchers and a medical ethicist say Omalu goes too far when he publicly takes credit for naming or discovering CTE.

"It's just not true, and I think he knows that," said William Stewart, a neuropathologist in Glasgow, Scotland.