A neutral arbiter is expected to decide early next week whether NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell should testify during an appeal of Ray Rice’s indefinite suspension, a person familiar with the case told The Associated Press on Thursday.

Goodell said last week he’d leave the decision to former U.S. District Judge Barbara S. Jones. She was picked by the commissioner and the players’ union to hear Rice’s appeal earlier this month. The hearing is tentatively set for November.

“I think Judge Jones is the one who ultimately is going to make the rules and determinations,” Goodell said at the owners’ meetings in New York.

The person who informed the AP of the timing spoke on condition of anonymity because details about the hearing haven’t been released.

The union is appealing Rice’s suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. The former Baltimore Ravens running back was suspended after video of him hitting his then-fiancee in an elevator was publicly released.


WR BENJAMIN COULD MISS GAME: Panthers rookie wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin has missed his second straight day of practice with a concussion, raising concerns about his availability for Sunday’s game at Green Bay.

Coach Ron Rivera said the standout rookie is in the concussion protocol and will meet with independent doctors Friday to determine if he’s ready to play against the Packers.

Rivera said if Benjamin can’t play, it would be a considerable loss for the Panthers “in light of who he is for us.”

The first-round draft pick from Florida State has emerged as Carolina’s best wide receiver. He leads all rookies with 416 yards receiving on 31 catches, including four touchdowns.


EXECUTIVE FIRED AFTER DUI: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers fired director of player development Isaiah Harris on Thursday after he was arrested for driving under the influence.

Harris, 35, was in his first year with the team.

Harris was arrested on a misdemeanor DUI charge and released on $500 bond. He worked in the Bears’ front office when current Bucs coach Lovie Smith coached in Chicago.

“Every member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is held to a high standard,” Bucs general manager Jason Licht said in a statement. “This type of incident, particularly for someone whose primary responsibilities are to mentor and develop our players off the field, cannot be tolerated. Due to the nature of his position and the expectations placed on our staff, we made the organizational decision to part ways with Isaiah.”


PETERSON SAYS HE’LL GET ON TRACK: The Arizona Cardinals made Patrick Peterson the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL. Now his coach and general manager are criticizing his recent play.

Peterson acknowledged Thursday that there is room for improvement, saying he hasn’t played to the best of his ability.

The spate of criticism came after DeSean Jackson beat Peterson on a 64-yard touchdown pass from Kirk Cousins in Arizona’s 30-20 win over Washington.

Peterson, the ex-LSU star, said he turned his head the wrong way but thought he played “pretty well” the rest of the game.

Coach Bruce Arians said the game “was not good for him” and blamed it on technique. General manager Steve Keim talked in a radio interview about Peterson’s “tendency not to focus and lack of intensity for 60 minutes.”