2019 NFL Draft Preview – TEs

For a position where age often wins out, this year is a uniquely youthful group of underclassmen with lots of pass-catching potential. This projection hinges on how many will actually enter the 2019 draft. Some of the top talents will break in new quarterbacks while others must continue growing physically. UCLA’s Caleb Wilson and Iowa’s Noah Fant are vying for the preseason crown, but I’m eager to see if a dark horse emerges as the top talent. Wilson is the classic every-down workhorse, while Fant is the explosive playmaker.

1. Caleb Wilson, UCLA (6’4″ 235lbs.)
• Many will remember Wilson as the centerpiece of the Bruins historic comeback against Texas A&M, but the former USC walk-on was more than a one-game wonder in 2017. Wilson was on a torrid pace with 490 yards and one touchdown on 39 receptions in just five games before his season was cut short due to a foot injury.

© Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

2. Noah Fant, Iowa (6’5″ 232lbs.)
• Little separates Fant from Wilson, and it may come down to preference – so understand this is a 1a, 1b ranking. As Fant continues adding to his frame his appeal will only increase. The 2017 Big Ten touchdown leader (11) regardless of position can score in and out of the red zone and possesses mouthwatering athleticism.

3. Albert Okwuegbunam, Missouri (6’5″ 260lbs.)
• An exciting passing-game threat, particularly in the red zone, he caught 11 touchdowns as a redshirt-Freshman last season. I suspect if he produces comparable numbers in 2018 then Okwuegbunam could leave school early with his graduating quarterback Drew Lock. Physically speaking, he’s already mature and ready for the pro level.

© Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

4. Tommy Sweeney, Boston College (6’5″ 255lbs.)
• Lacks the speed and athleticism to punish defenses, but there’s probably not a safer, more complete player available at the position. Sweeney blocks in-line competently, will move chains as a receiver, and has some yard-after-catch ability. I’ve noticed he has a good feel for soft zones in the passing game.

5. Kaden Smith, Stanford (6’5″ 259lbs.)
• The latest creation from a developing tight end factory at Stanford, Kaden Smith is a physically impressive athlete with desired length and movement skills to impose as a receiver. Another year of sustained production could convince Smith to make the pro leap.

Honorable Mention: Tyler Petite, USC (6’4″ 250lbs.)
• It’s apparent that Petite has plenty of untapped ability as a pass-catcher, as he generated a lot of positive momentum in that regard with Sam Darnold under center in 2017. Petite’s got an otherwise all-around game and if he can maintain his annual growth in production he’ll enter the NFL as a polished option for any team.

Browns Missing Starting LB Kirksey for Matchup with Jets

CLEVELAND (AP) — Browns starting linebacker Christian Kirksey will sit out Thursday night's game against the New York Jets with an ankle injury.

One of Cleveland's captains, Kirksey also missed last week's game at New Orleans, the first time he sat out a game in his NFL career after playing in 65 straight. James Burgess

CLEVELAND (AP) — Browns starting linebacker Christian Kirksey will sit out Thursday night’s game against the New York Jets with an ankle injury.

One of Cleveland’s captains, Kirksey also missed last week’s game at New Orleans, the first time he sat out a game in his NFL career after playing in 65 straight. James Burgess will start for Kirksey as the Browns try to snap a 19-game winless streak.

New York starting safety Marcus Maye is sitting out with a foot injury. He’ll be replaced by Doug Middleton, who has 11 tackles after two games.

Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry will play. He had been listed as questionable with a knee injury. Landry leads the team with 12 catches for 175 yards.

The Jets are also without outside linebacker Josh Martin and tight end Neal Sterling due to concussions. Martin has not played since getting hurt in the Jets’ third preseason game. Sterling was injured last Sunday against Miami.

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Seahawks’ Wagner says he’s learned from previous injuries

RENTON, Wash. (AP) — Stuck at home while out with a groin injury, Bobby Wagner met up with former Seattle teammates Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril to watch the Seahawks' game in Chicago.

Sitting there as his team lost wasn't very enjoyable for Wagner.

"I'm definitely a guy who yells at the TV. I'm calling

RENTON, Wash. (AP) — Stuck at home while out with a groin injury, Bobby Wagner met up with former Seattle teammates Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril to watch the Seahawks’ game in Chicago.

Sitting there as his team lost wasn’t very enjoyable for Wagner.

“I’m definitely a guy who yells at the TV. I’m calling out plays and think they’re going to hear you,” Wagner said Thursday.

Seattle’s All-Pro middle linebacker is expected back in the lineup Sunday when the Seahawks host Dallas looking to avoid falling to 0-3 for the first time under Pete Carroll. For the most part, the defense wasn’t the problem on Monday night against the Bears. The Seahawks held them to 271 total yards and only 10 offensive points after Chicago scored on its opening drive.

But having Wagner back will certainly be a boost in what’s essentially become a must-win game just three weeks into the regular season.

Wagner said he was initially injured in the second quarter of the season-opening loss at Denver. He didn’t believe it was going to be an issue until after the game.

Sitting out Week 2 showed Wagner had gained a new perspective after the issues he had with a lingering hamstring injury last season.

Wagner wouldn’t sit a year ago to let his hamstring have at least a week off to get better. The result was a muscle injury that got worse until Wagner was on the field unsuccessfully trying to play on one leg.

“Last year I was kind of in the same situation with my hamstring and I can say I didn’t necessarily trust the trainers in that situation and it kind of lingered for the last eight games,” he said. “It wasn’t something I wanted to do again so I made the grown up decision and did the right thing this time.”

Asked why he was so stubborn a year ago, Wagner said he believed he could play through the injury and still contribute at a high level. It wasn’t until Seattle’s Week 14 loss at Jacksonville that it became a significant issue and it was completely evident a week later in a blowout loss to the Rams.

“I felt like I fared pretty well up until the Jacksonville game. I think that’s when it really got worse and it kind of lingered into the Rams game, which if you watch the film you see it,” Wagner said. “Kind of dealing with that I didn’t want to do that again and was smarter this time.”

An unintended benefit of Wagner’s injury this season was the opportunity for Austin Calitro to make his first start. Seattle has struggled to find a clear backup for Wagner since his rookie season, at times shifting K.J. Wright into the middle for games Wagner has missed. Calitro received positive reviews from his first start, and has now played significant snaps at two linebacker positions in the first two weeks.

“He played a really good football game and it’s more than just the plays and getting lined up and all,” coach Pete Carroll said. “It was making the calls, handling situations, handling the adjustments that we made during the game, communicating to guys around him. He played like a veteran player and I was really pleased with that.”

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NFL Player Props for Week 3

Last week, Ryan Fitzpatrick and ex-Eagle DeSean Jackson connected for a 75-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage. After being down 20 points late in the 3rd quarter, Philly almost managed a comeback but fell short. This week, Carson Wentz returns as the starting quarterback to take on the Indianapolis Colts- and you can

Last week, Ryan Fitzpatrick and ex-Eagle DeSean Jackson connected for a 75-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage. After being down 20 points late in the 3rd quarter, Philly almost managed a comeback but fell short. This week, Carson Wentz returns as the starting quarterback to take on the Indianapolis Colts- and you can bet the Eagles are hungry. Last Time Wentz was on the field, he tossed for 291 yards and 4 touchdowns en route to a 43-35 win over the Rams.

Ryan Fitzpatrick on the other hand, has started this season with with 8 touchdowns, 819 yards, only 1 interception and a QBR of 151.5. He will look to continue his success this Monday night when the winless Steelers roll into Tampa Bay.

Patrick Mahomes is the only player with more (10) touchdowns than Fitzpatrick through week 2. The red-hot Chiefs will host the 49ers, who just bounced back with a win over Detroit.

Here the player props for week 3:



Data provided by Bovada

Martin is a data analyst that has been applauded for his ability to make the complex simple. He grew up on a farm in northern Vermont and spent his summers helping his mom lead llama treks at Smugglers’ Notch Resort.

Martin graduated from University of Vermont with a degree in Mathematics. After graduation he left Vermont to work for an educational nonprofit called City Year for two years, and followed that up by attending the data science immersive program at Galvanize in Denver. He is an avid Green Bay Packer fan, and spends his free time playing football and soccer.

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‘Cover City’: NFL Week 3 Picks And Insight From CG Technology’s Jason Simbal

The post ‘Cover City’: NFL Week 3 Picks And Insight From CG Technology’s Jason Simbal appeared first on SportsHandle.

Sports Handle is pleased to present Cover City: A Pro and College Football Betting Podcast, hosted by Eric Rosenthal (@ericsports). Rosenthal is a professional sports bettor who focuses on NFL

The post ‘Cover City’: NFL Week 3 Picks And Insight From CG Technology’s Jason Simbal appeared first on SportsHandle.

Sports Handle is pleased to present Cover City: A Pro and College Football Betting Podcast, hosted by Eric Rosenthal (@ericsports). Rosenthal is a professional sports bettor who focuses on NFL and college football. He has wagered more than $25 million in the last nine years, getting banned from many sportsbooks along the way.

The Cleveland Browns -3 and New York Jets kick off NFL Week 3 on Thursday night with the Browns playing the unfamiliar role of favorite. This episode we have a great guest in Jason Simbal (@jsimbal), Vice President of Risk Management for CG Technology, to offer behind-the-counter thinking and strategy as he and Eric talk through the entire NFL slate.

Time codes for the episode follow below. Listen on Spotify here. Tell a friend.


2:10: Setting the line: Perspective from the bookmaker.

5:18: Simbal identifies the most consistently public teams in the NFL. And how quickly people exit the wagon. 

9:46: Conversation amongst the bookmakers. What do they do with the Chiefs scoring ability?!

11:45: Cleveland Browns come into Week 3 as favorites! When was the last time this happened? Why Jason is surprised about the public when it comes to the Browns.

14:10: When do people tend to bet the moneyline? Jason explains how to take advantage of it.

15:41: New Orleans Saints +3 at Atlanta Falcons: The most popular public bet in Week 3? Seven times more action on the Saints this weekend (so far). Eric talks about why he might be leaning against the field.

18:41: Does the kicker mean anything to the spread? Jason addresses.

21:10: Simbal breaks down the intricacies of in-game betting and live action.

22:45: New York Giants +6 at Houston Texans: A sore spot for Jason as he breaks down his favorite team.

25:05: Eric talks about why it’s just as important to understand when to bet as who to bet on.

28:00: How trades and injuries affect the line movement in the NFL and even a look into what the LeBron James Saga meant for NBA futures.

30:30: The situational element in line movement. Jason breaks down the impact of Khalil Mack’s trade on the line.

32:49: Green Bay Packers -3 at Washington Redskins: Home dog alert. Jason talks about why the public has bet the Packers 12 times as much as Washington this weekend and why he’ll be rooting for the Redskins.

37:00: San Francisco 49ers +6.5 at Kansas City Chiefs: Eric identifies his favorite side. Jason explains how Patrick Mahomes’ recent play has shifted this weekend’s line from the lookahead.

41:55: Los Angeles Chargers +7 at Los Angeles Rams: Battle of L.A.! Big ‘Pros vs. Joes’ game shaping up. Who’s that lone Chargers in-person bettor?

44:50: New England Patriots -7 at Detroit Lions:  Sunday Night Football. Belichick’s former assistant Matt Patricia is not inspiring much confidence.

48:10: Pittsburgh Steelers -1.5 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Monday Night Football. The legend of FitzMagic grows. What’s the difference between Winston and FitzMagic besides a gorgeous beard?

50:10: Jason gives one final insider look into the book: What percentage of the money comes in on the spread, props, teasers and futures?

53:55: Eric’s 5 SuperContest Picks of the Week.


Come back on Monday for the NFL Week 3 recap and a look ahead to Week 4. Follow Eric on Twitter at @ericsports and Sports Handle @sports_handle.

Bonus! Check out this week’s episode of  ‘The Pro Football Handle’ featuring Robert Walker And Matt Perrault:.

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Bullock perfect on kicks, gets 2-year extension from Bengals

CINCINNATI (AP) — While Minnesota and Cleveland changed kickers after only two games, the Bengals gave Randy Bullock a two-year contract extension for his perfect start.

He's made every field goal and extra-point attempt, helping the Bengals remain unbeaten.

The seventh-year kicker has settled into the job after beating out fifth-round draft pick Jake Elliott

CINCINNATI (AP) — While Minnesota and Cleveland changed kickers after only two games, the Bengals gave Randy Bullock a two-year contract extension for his perfect start.

He’s made every field goal and extra-point attempt, helping the Bengals remain unbeaten.

The seventh-year kicker has settled into the job after beating out fifth-round draft pick Jake Elliott last year, prompting the Bengals (2-0) to offer the contract extension through 2020. He signed it on Tuesday.

Bullock is one of 11 kickers in the NFL who have yet to miss.

“Randy has come in here, grown in his role and has developed a trust through the building,” coach Marvin Lewis said. “He’s morphed his body and feels confident about things. He’s been consistent, and he’s just got to keep working at it. Now is not the time to relax.”

Bullock arrived in Cincinnati in 2016 after Mike Nugent was released . He filled in while Chris Boswell was hurt in Pittsburgh, and the Bengals claimed him off waivers for the final three games. They drafted Elliott and staged a competition for the job in training camp last year. Bullock won, and Elliott wound up with the Super Bowl champion Eagles.

Bullock went 18 of 20 in field-goal attempts and made 31 of 33 extra-point tries last season, earning the Bengals’ trust. He spent the offseason lowering his body fat and strengthening his core muscles.

“I feel like a new person,” he said Thursday after practice. “I feel a lot stronger.”

Heading into a game on Sunday at Carolina (1-1) , Bullock is 4 for 4 on field goals and 8 for 8 on extra points.

Kickers are part of a closely knit group. They compete for jobs, stay in touch during the season, work out together in the offseason on occasion, and offer congratulations or support, depending upon how the last game has gone. Bullock got congratulatory messages from other kickers when he signed his extension.

“A lot of guys have reached out to me in the last couple of days,” Bullock said. “Even Jake Elliott reached out to me, so that was cool. I’ve stayed in touch with him a little bit.”

He’s been on the other side as well. He started his career with Houston from 2012-15, and also has kicked with the Jets, Giants, Steelers and Bengals.

Bullock keeps up with how other kickers fare each week. He saw clips of Minnesota’s Daniel Carlson missing three field goals in a 29-29 tie with Green Bay on Sunday, and Cleveland’s Zane Gonzalez missing a pair of field goals and extra points during a 21-18 loss at New Orleans . Both kickers lost their jobs.

“It’s tough to watch anybody struggle, whether they’re a rookie or a second-year guy or somebody older,” Bullock said. “Unfortunately that’s the growing pains. You’re not going to make every kick, even though you go out with the mentality that you will.

“You can see the look on their face when they miss. Every day your job’s on the line to perform at a high level. Everybody knows that. Nobody knows that better than the person who’s just missed.”

TRA CARSON RETURNS: Running back Tra Carson cleared waivers and reverted to the Bengals’ injured reserve list on Thursday, a day after the team waived him with an injured hamstring. Carson was hurt in practice on Monday.

GIO BETTER: Running back Giovani Bernard had a full practice on Thursday, a day after he was limited by a sore knee. Bernard is the Bengals’ only veteran running back with experience in their system heading into Sunday’s game. Starter Joe Mixon is out for a few weeks following knee surgery, and Carson — No. 3 on the depth chart — got hurt as well.

Linebacker Preston Brown and defensive end Michael Johnson went through limited practices. Brown sat out last Thursday’s 34-23 win over Baltimore with a sprained ankle. Johnson went out early with a strained knee. Center Billy Price (sprained foot) also got hurt in the game and is sidelined several weeks.

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Texans-Giants game features top WRs in Hopkins, Beckham

HOUSTON (AP) — It will be a showcase of two of the NFL's best receivers in DeAndre Hopkins and Odell Beckham Jr. when the Houston Texans and New York Giants meet on Sunday with both teams looking for their first win.

Hopkins likes Beckham's determination and grit, and sees similarities between himself and the New

HOUSTON (AP) — It will be a showcase of two of the NFL’s best receivers in DeAndre Hopkins and Odell Beckham Jr. when the Houston Texans and New York Giants meet on Sunday with both teams looking for their first win.

Hopkins likes Beckham’s determination and grit, and sees similarities between himself and the New York star.

“Of course. He makes plays no matter where the ball is,” Hopkins said. “He’s not the tallest, I’m not the tallest, but he (goes) up and gets it. He just makes plays.”

Beckham is a fan of Hopkins and said he has been admiring him since he was in college.

“I love his game,” Beckham said. “I remember when we were playing them here and he had that catch against Prince (Amukamara) down the field and they called it back. Trust me, I have been watching him, watching him a long time.”

Houston defensive end J.J. Watt raved about the knack both players have for making difficult catches look easy.

“I know they both can catch anything you throw their way,” he said. “I know they both find a way to get open and find a way to make catches that 99 percent of people wouldn’t be able to make, so they’re obviously special playmakers, both of them.”

Hopkins has 188 yards receiving with a touchdown this season and Beckham has 162 yards receiving. Giants coach Pat Shurmur noted that 6-foot-1 Hopkins is a bit bigger than the 5-11 Beckham, but also sees many of the same qualities in the two receivers.

“Their production can be similar in a lot of ways (and) I think they’ve got a lot of similar traits in terms of their competitive nature, their spirit, their ability to win their one-on-one matchups. There’s really a lot of similarities. I think Hopkins is a little bit bigger, if I’m not mistaken, but for the most part, they’re very similar guys.”

Both teams will be looking for a big game from their star receivers to avoid falling into an 0-3 hole. The Texans lost to Tennessee 20-17 last week and the Giants fell to the Cowboys 20-13.

Some things to know about New York’s game against Houston:

BARKLEY’S RECEIVING

New York running back Saquon Barkley set a franchise record with 14 receptions last week against the Cowboys and tied the NFL mark for most catches by a rookie. The second overall pick in this year’s draft was asked if getting that many catches was a surprise.

“If any running back told you that he expected to have 14 catches in a game, he’ll be lying to you,” he said. “So obviously I did not expect that, but … (the) Dallas Cowboys did a great job defensively taking away the deep threats and as a quarterback you got to go through your progressions and sometimes you go through your progressions and there’s a check down to your running back. It just happened to be more times this game.”

Houston defensive end Jadeveon Clowney raved about the young running back.

“He catches all the balls for them,” he said. “He does everything for them. He’s a very versatile back. He can catch it, run it. There’s nothing the guy can’t do. It’s going to take a whole team effort to get him down on the ground.”

SEARCHING FOR A SACK

Watt had a solid performance last week in his second game since sitting out the final 11 games last year after breaking his leg, recording two tackles for losses and forcing a fumble. But the player who has twice led the NFL in sacks in his career still hasn’t taken down the quarterback this season. It’s been more than two years since Watt last recorded a sack after he also missed 13 games in 2016 because of a back problem. His last sack came Sept. 18, 2016, when he had 1 1/2 against the Chiefs.

He joked about needing to up his game since nose tackle D.J. Reader already has two this season.

“He leads the team in sacks from the nose guard position, so I need to start doing my job a little better,” Watt said.

INJURY WATCH

There are definite areas of concern for the Giants. Veteran John Greco is now the starting center. He replaces Jon Halapio, who broke his lower right leg and ankle last week. LB Olivier Vernon (ankle) has not played this season and is not full speed. Without their best pass rusher, New York has one sack this season. The biggest weakness might be at cornerback with starter Eli Apple nursing a hamstring. B.W. Webb replaced him in the third quarter and the Cowboys went after him. Expect the Texans to do the same with Will Fuller and Hopkins.

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AP Sports Writer Tom Canavan in East Rutherford, New Jersey, contributed to this report.

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Carson Wentz makes long-awaited return for Eagles vs Colts

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Carson Wentz has been waiting for this moment since he tore up his knee last December.

No. 11 will be back under center for the Philadelphia Eagles (1-1) against the Indianapolis Colts (1-1) on Sunday after watching his teammates win the Super Bowl without him in February, and missing the first two

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Carson Wentz has been waiting for this moment since he tore up his knee last December.

No. 11 will be back under center for the Philadelphia Eagles (1-1) against the Indianapolis Colts (1-1) on Sunday after watching his teammates win the Super Bowl without him in February, and missing the first two games this season.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Wentz said. “It’s been quite the grind of an offseason. There’s a lot of excitement, a lot of built-up almost anxiety over when it was going to be that time, and almost relief finally being cleared to get back out there.”

Nick Foles, the Super Bowl MVP in Philadelphia’s 41-33 win over New England, returns to the sideline to make way for Wentz, who finished third in NFL MVP voting after setting a single-season franchise record with 33 touchdown passes and helping the Eagles go from 7-9 to 13-3.

Wentz will wear a brace on his left knee — he tore his ACL and LCL in Week 14 diving into the end zone on a scramble. He doesn’t plan to change the way he plays, but understands the importance of avoiding hits.

“I feel extremely confident moving around, on the run,” he said. “Even last year, I never said I’m a running quarterback. I never want to be. But I’ll find ways to extend time in the pocket and make plays down the field. I don’t think that’s ever going anywhere.”

Eagles coach Doug Pederson isn’t going to alter his game plan or his philosophy to accommodate a quarterback returning from injury, even if it’s the face of the franchise.

“I’m not going to coach scared. I’m not going to coach paranoid,” Pederson said. “I’m not going to go in thinking, ‘Oh no, we can’t do ‘this,’ we can’t do ‘that.’ We just have to continue to go play and I (have) to coach that way. That’s where the confidence with the team comes, by doing that.”

Here are some things to know about the Colts-Eagles matchup:

REICH’S RETURN:

Colts coach Frank Reich was Philadelphia’s offensive coordinator the previous two seasons and is one of the most liked guys to come through the team’s building. He has a close relationship with Pederson and texted back and forth with him this week.

“I am as close with Doug as I am with anybody in this profession,” Reich said. “I just think the world of him. I think he’s a superior coach. He’s an incredible coach and an incredible person.”

The familiarity could give the Colts an advantage.

“We feel like they know us and we know them, even though we don’t see each other every year,” Pederson said. “I’m excited to see Frank again. But at the same time we’re up on the things that he could make them aware of.”

FAVORITE TARGET

Wentz will have Jordan Matthews back in the huddle with him. Matthews was traded to Buffalo last August but signed with the Eagles this week to bolster a depleted receivers corps. He was Wentz’s top target in 2016 and the two were close friends off the field.

“Obviously, with Jordan, I feel good with him,” Wentz said. “He was gone only one season. He’s picking up things pretty quickly.”

CAPTAIN ANDREW

The Colts got Andrew Luck back in Week 1 after playing without him for an entire season. Luck is benefiting from Reich’s new offense that’s designed for quick passes. His completion rate is 71.4 percent, but he does have three picks.

“I feel I have a lot to improve on and that’s exciting,” Luck said. “It makes practice fun.

BURNED DEEP

Ryan Fitzpatrick torched Philadelphia’s secondary last week in Tampa’s 27-21 win, throwing for 402 yards and four TDs, including a pair of 75-yard scores. The Eagles know they have to eliminate the big plays.

“We were a sloppy defense in that game,” defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said. “Our tackling wasn’t as good as it normally is, our technique wasn’t as good as it normally is. Our pursuit and things like that got a little bit sloppy at times. We need to do a better job.”

MISSING MAN

The Eagles traded up in the second round to select tight end Dallas Goedert and expectations were high after an impressive preseason. But Goedert has only played 34 snaps and has one catch through two games. Considering the Eagles were missing two of their top three receivers last week, it’s surprising Goedert wasn’t part of the offense.

“We have a talented player in Dallas, and we need to find more ways to get him involved,” offensive coordinator Mike Groh said.

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Vikings RB Cook still sidelined by hamstring injury

 

 

Running back Dalvin Cook did not practice with the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday.

 

Cook is fighting a hamstring injury and also sat out Wednesday's practice, opening reps for Latavius Murray, who would start against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday if Cook can't play.

 

Cook said after last week's overtime tie at

 

 

Running back Dalvin Cook did not practice with the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday.

 

Cook is fighting a hamstring injury and also sat out Wednesday’s practice, opening reps for Latavius Murray, who would start against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday if Cook can’t play.

 

Cook said after last week’s overtime tie at Green Bay that he was cramping, but not injured.

 

Because Cook is coming back from a season-ending knee injury sustained in 2017 as a rookie, the Vikings are likely to be overly cautious with any injury.

 

Cook has 26 carries for 78 yards (3.0-yard average) this season, and Murray has 16 carries for 61 yards (4.1).

 

–Field Level Media

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FanDuel to Pay Out on Erroneous Tickets

According to an Associated Press report, FanDuel will pay out more than $82,000 on an erroneous sports betting ticket. New Jersey’s Anthony Prince on Tuesday shared his story with local media, saying he placed an in-game wager on the Denver Broncos to beat the Oakland Raiders when the Broncos were down with 1

According to an Associated Press report, FanDuel will pay out more than $82,000 on an erroneous sports betting ticket. New Jersey’s Anthony Prince on Tuesday shared his story with local media, saying he placed an in-game wager on the Denver Broncos to beat the Oakland Raiders when the Broncos were down with 1 minute, 10 seconds to play. He placed his bet at the FanDuel Sportsbook at the Meadowlands, and the printed ticket showed +75000, when it should have showed -600. The cashier did not catch the error and after the Broncos won by a point on a last-second field goal, Prince tried to collect.

Initially, FanDuel declined to pay Prince, but after investigating, on Thursday announced that it would make good on not only Prince’s bet, but on several others made during the same time span.

The company reportedly decided to pay because it said “sports betting is supposed to be fun.”

According to FanDuel, the ticket that should have been generated would have shown that Prince had to bet $600 to win $100. Instead, his $110 bet is now good for a total payout of $82,610. On Sunday, when FanDuel declined to pay on the ticket, it reportedly offered Prince $500 and tickets to several NFL New York Giants games, but he declined. The company then opened an investigation, though its rules clearly state that erroneous tickets will be paid out at the “correct odds.”

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Gruden says he can pronounce Tannehill, but can he stop him?

MIAMI (AP) — With this week's game preparations completed for the Oakland Raiders, coach Jon Gruden is confident he knows the Miami Dolphins' playbook, personnel and pronunciations.

It's TAN-uh-hill.

That's not the way Gruden said the name when he was a network TV analyst talking about Ryan Tannehill.

"He always pronounced my name funny: 'Tanney-hill,'"

MIAMI (AP) — With this week’s game preparations completed for the Oakland Raiders, coach Jon Gruden is confident he knows the Miami Dolphins’ playbook, personnel and pronunciations.

It’s TAN-uh-hill.

That’s not the way Gruden said the name when he was a network TV analyst talking about Ryan Tannehill.

“He always pronounced my name funny: ‘Tanney-hill,'” the Dolphins quarterback recalls with a laugh.

Gruden stands corrected.

“I called him that on Monday Night Football a time or two,” the Raiders’ first-year coach says. “I knew a guy named Steve Taneyhill who played quarterback at South Carolina. You can’t fault me; I’m human like everybody else. But I know his name now for sure.”

With that issue settled, here are other things to know about Sunday’s matchup between Miami (2-0) and Oakland (0-2):

KEEPING IT GROUNDED: Tannehill’s name may be foremost for the Raiders’ defense, but he has handed off more than he has thrown in the first two weeks. That’s a big change from last year, when the Dolphins threw 64 percent of the time, the NFL’s highest rate.

With Miami 2-0 for the first time since 2013, Tannehill’s happy to pass less.

“I’m good with whatever is winning,” he says. “Whatever scores points.”

Oakland’s soft run defense makes it likely Miami running backs Kenyan Drake and Frank Gore will get plenty of touches. Broncos rookie Phillip Lindsay ran for 107 yards last week against the Raiders, and they’re allowing an average of 5.7 yards per rush, worst in the league.

ON TARGET: The Raiders’ Derek Carr bounced back from a three-interception performance in the opener to complete 29 of 32 passes in a one-point loss at Denver. His 90.6 completion percentage was the best ever for a QB with at least 30 attempts, and would have been better if not for a key drop on fourth-and-1 by Keith Smith.

Carr says he’s already able to anticipate what play Gruden will call next.

“We’re building that, and it’s going to take time to continue to build that,” he says. “But it’s kind of cool to already be thinking what he’s thinking before it even comes out.”

NELSON’S TURN: Oakland’s biggest offseason addition at the skill positions hasn’t paid off yet: Jordy Nelson has just five receptions for 53 yards.

Tight end Jared Cook was the focal point of the passing game in the opener with nine catches for 180 yards, and receiver Amari Cooper got into the act last week with 10 catches for 116 yards.

“It’s just matchups and opportunities,” Nelson says. “Obviously, Jared had a great game Week 1, Coop had one last week, so maybe I’m in the rotation this week.”

VERSATILE: Dolphins newcomer Albert Wilson has become a multiple threat, lining up as a boundary receiver and occasionally in the backfield. He has six catches for 68 yards and a score, and four rushes for 15 yards.

“I’ve been around a few guys over my time who were similar, but I don’t think as dynamic as what he is,” coach Adam Gase says. “He’s legitimately a guy that is almost built like a running back but plays like a wide receiver.”

The speedy Wilson says the way he’s being used takes him back to his days as a high school quarterback.

“It’s just coach Gase bringing it out, just challenging me to be a better player,” Wilson says. “He’s definitely bringing it out of me.”

PRESSURE POINT: The Raiders did a better job generating heat on the quarterback last week when they had nine pressures, compared with four in the opener, according to SportRadar. But Oakland has just two sacks, tied for second-fewest in the league.

The Raiders traded Khalil Mack before the season, and he has two sacks and 10 pressures for Chicago. Oakland is looking for a replacement elite rusher.

“It’s hard to find a great one. It’s hard to find a good one. It’s hard to find one,” Gruden says.

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AP Sports Writer Josh Dubow in Oakland, California, contributed to this report.

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Patriots’ Gronkowski limited in practice with ankle issue

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Tight end Rob Gronkowski is dealing with an ankle issue as the Patriots prepare for their Week 3 matchup with the Lions.

Gronkowski was a limited participant in practice Thursday after participating in Wednesday's workout. He has started both games for New England this season. He has nine catches for 138

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Tight end Rob Gronkowski is dealing with an ankle issue as the Patriots prepare for their Week 3 matchup with the Lions.

Gronkowski was a limited participant in practice Thursday after participating in Wednesday’s workout. He has started both games for New England this season. He has nine catches for 138 yards and touchdown.

Defensive end Trey Flowers and safety Patrick Chung both missed practice for the second straight day as they continue to go through the league’s concussion protocol.

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Jaguars’ Fournette feels ‘way better’ than he did last week

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette practiced in a limited capacity for the second straight day Thursday and feels "a lot better, like way better" than he did a week ago.

Fournette strained his right hamstring in the season opener at the New York Giants and sat out last week's victory

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette practiced in a limited capacity for the second straight day Thursday and feels “a lot better, like way better” than he did a week ago.

Fournette strained his right hamstring in the season opener at the New York Giants and sat out last week’s victory against New England.

The Jaguars (2-0) host AFC South rival Tennessee (1-1) on Sunday.

Fournette says his playing status is “up to the coaches at this point” and adds that “it’s still early in the season.”

Fournette also says he doesn’t “want to rush anything. It’s a long season.”

The fourth overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft, Fournette has missed four games in two seasons. The Jaguars are 4-0 without him.

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Rodgers, Peterson meet again when Packers visit Redskins

LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — Adrian Peterson has played against Aaron Rodgers more than a dozen times and knows not to be surprised by anything.

So when the prolific quarterback led the Green Bay Packers to a comeback victory in Week 1 and played well on an injured left knee in Week 2, it was par

LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — Adrian Peterson has played against Aaron Rodgers more than a dozen times and knows not to be surprised by anything.

So when the prolific quarterback led the Green Bay Packers to a comeback victory in Week 1 and played well on an injured left knee in Week 2, it was par for the course.

“You see him hobbling around last week and how effortless he was making plays,” Peterson said. “That’s one thing I learned: When you’ve got Aaron Rodgers on your team, you’ve always got a chance to win a game.”

Peterson and Rodgers meet on an NFL field for the 15th time Sunday. While Rodgers is showing he can still produce at less than 100 percent health, Peterson is now 33 and with the Washington Redskins, who have their sights set on containing Green Bay’s offense in the hopes of bouncing back from a bad loss to Indianapolis.

“You’ve got to prepare every day like it’s a championship game,” Washington safety D.J. Swearinger said. “You’ve got to give (Rodgers) different looks on defense, you’ve got to confuse him and you’ve got to send pressure at him. That’s the only way you beat the greatest — by moving him off the spot and switching up the looks.”

Rodgers’ ability to keep plays alive and ad-lib when options aren’t there are things that make him one of the NFL’s best. Redskins coach Jay Gruden said of Rodgers: “You don’t want anyone to be injured, but that’ll help a little bit because one of the strengths of his game is his ability to create off schedule.”

Neither Packers coach Mike McCarthy nor Rodgers will say how injured the 34-year-old is. Rodgers said his knee was still sore even as he continues to play through the pain.

“It’s just going to be something you’ve got to deal with for a while,” Rodgers said. “Take it week by week. It doesn’t seem like there’s a major setback at this point, so just being smart about it and trying to get ready to play.”

One way to limit Rodgers and the Packers (1-0-1) is holding on to the ball, something the Redskins (1-1) struggled with against the Colts when they went 5 of 15 on third down. Part of that is getting Peterson going like he did in Week 1, and this may be the perfect opportunity because his 1,779 yards rushing against Green Bay are the most of any opponent during his career.

“I don’t think anything brings out the best,” Peterson said. “Any game I’m a part of, I’m giving 110 percent. Obviously, the Vikings and Packers is a rivalry game, highly anticipated, so I don’t know if other guys play extra hard. I was giving all I had each time I played those guys.”

Some things to watch when the Packers visit the Redskins:

SMITH GROWS UP

Redskins QB Alex Smith is on his third team since the 49ers took him first overall in 2005, the same draft Rodgers slipped to 24. While Rodgers said the two quarterbacks have developed a good friendship, McCarthy was San Francisco’s offensive coordinator during Smith’s rookie season and has been impressed by his ability to handle expectations, moving around and continue to make plays.

“I was always amazed just to watch him continue to have success in the National Football League,” McCarthy said. “What he’s dealt with as far as the amount of change just speaks volumes about him as a football player and a person.”

THE OTHER AARON

The Packers should have their three-man backfield back this weekend with the expected return of Aaron Jones. The tailback was suspended by the NFL for the first two games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.

McCarthy has said Jamaal Williams and Ty Montgomery remain atop the depth chart, though it can’t hurt for the Packers to have another option on offense especially with Rodgers banged up. Jones, who showed flashes of potential as a rookie last season, can bring a slashing, physical presence to the backfield.

BRUISED LINE

Washington’s offense line that paved the way for a league-best 182 yards in Week 1 was not at its best last week and could use the upcoming time off after the Green Bay game. Left tackle Trent Williams is still dealing with soreness in his surgically repaired right knee, right guard Brandon Scherff injured his right knee against the Colts and left guard Shaun Lauvao could miss some time with a calf injury.

With the of shifting center Chase Roullier to left guard and inserting journeyman center Tony Bergstrom into the starting lineup.

ON THE CORNER

It appears that the Packers might be without one of their top cornerbacks against the Redskins in Kevin King. He left the tie with the Vikings with a groin injury.

If King can’t play, it will leave more snaps for rookie cornerbacks Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson and veteran Davon House. Alexander, the Packers’ first-round draft pick, is off to a good start in his NFL career in showing the potential to make big plays. His fourth-quarter interception last week against Minnesota was wiped out by a roughing-the-passer call on linebacker Clay Matthews.

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AP Sports Writer Genaro C. Armas in Green Bay, Wisconsin, contributed.

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Odell Beckham Jr. upset with losing and frequent PED tests

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Odell Beckham Jr. is sick of losing and frustrated with seemingly being asked to take tests every other week by the NFL for performance-enhancers.

Beckham tweeted about the tests Thursday before the Giants (0-2) practiced for Sunday's game in Houston against the Texans (0-2).

"It's actually funny how I 'randomly'

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Odell Beckham Jr. is sick of losing and frustrated with seemingly being asked to take tests every other week by the NFL for performance-enhancers.

Beckham tweeted about the tests Thursday before the Giants (0-2) practiced for Sunday’s game in Houston against the Texans (0-2).

“It’s actually funny how I ‘randomly’ get tested every other week,” Beckham wrote. “Dear @NFL please stop sending these people, ur takin away from meeting times and film… thanks.”

Beckham has never been suspended by the NFL for using a banned substance.

As far as losing, Beckham hasn’t been on the field for a win since the end of the 2016 season. He was hurt in Game 5 last year, breaking his ankle against the Chargers.

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Jaguars RB Fournette ready for ‘fistfight’ vs. Titans

 

Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette said he plans to be back in the lineup Sunday against the Tennessee Titans.

 

Fournette did not play because of a hamstring injury last week. He left the Week 1 win over the New York Giants with a strain and said he felt a pop.

 

The

 

Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette said he plans to be back in the lineup Sunday against the Tennessee Titans.

 

Fournette did not play because of a hamstring injury last week. He left the Week 1 win over the New York Giants with a strain and said he felt a pop.

 

The Titans beat the Houston Texans 20-17 last week.

 

“That team is talented,” Fournette said. “We respect their D-line. It’s going to be a fistfight once again, like it always is.”

 

The Jaguars are 4-0 in games in which Fournette does not play.

 

–Field Level Media

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Chiefs’ Mahomes making home debut as 49ers visit Arrowhead

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Patrick Mahomes has never lost an NFL game as the starting quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs, beating the Broncos last season and the Chargers and Steelers to start this season.

He's also never started a game at Arrowhead Stadium.

That moment comes Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers, and

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Patrick Mahomes has never lost an NFL game as the starting quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs, beating the Broncos last season and the Chargers and Steelers to start this season.

He’s also never started a game at Arrowhead Stadium.

That moment comes Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers, and it’s one that Mahomes has thought about ever since the Chiefs traded up to select him 10th overall last year.

Because as much fun as it was to win a trio of games on the road, performing for his home fans figures to be quite a party.

“I’m extremely excited,” Mahomes said. “I can’t wait to run on the field and hear them roar.”

You can bet there will be plenty of noise for Mahomes, given the way he’s performed two games into the season. He’s tossed an NFL-record 10 touchdown passes, has yet to throw an interception, and he already has Chiefs fans wondering whether this is the season their playoff nightmares end.

“Remember, it’s only been two games,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “I understand the excitement. I get it. But when you’re in the grinder like he is, like I am — the rest of the team — you don’t worry about all that other stuff. You worry about a really good team coming in here.”

Besides, the 49ers (1-1) have a fairly high-profile quarterback of their own.

Jimmy Garoppolo was perfect in five starts to finish last season, and while he’s had trouble with interceptions the first two weeks, he’s also a big reason why San Francisco won a shootout against the Lions last week. Garoppolo threw a pair of touchdown passes in the 30-27 victory.

“I think it’s good to have a mindset of you hold yourself to a high standard,” he said, “so when you do that, you want to perform at your best. You try to not make any mistakes.”

Mahomes and Garoppolo each had time to learn that lesson under quarterbacks that rarely make an error: Alex Smith with the Chiefs last year and Tom Brady when Garoppolo was with the Patriots.

“I think it’s tremendous for a quarterback to sit his first year,” Garoppolo said. “You kind of try to put yourself in that situation, how to learn from it, what you would do if you were in the spot they were in. There’s a ton of things that you could benefit from.”

Such as how to win in a tough road environment like Arrowhead Stadium.

Or in the case of Mahomes, how to win in one of the most favorable home venues in the NFL.

“I know he’s looking forward to it,” Reid said. “Should be a heck of a game.”

SPREADING THE WEALTH

The Chiefs have already had three different receivers with 100-yard games, while running back Kareem Hunt is coming off a 75-yard rushing performance against Pittsburgh.

In other words, the Chiefs may boast the deepest, most versatile set of skill position players in the NFL.

“We can all contribute to the game, no matter how many targets, no matter how many yards,” wide receiver Sammy Watkins said. “We’re really about winning. That’s all we’re about.”

STEPPING UP

The 49ers faced questions at running back after projected starter Jerick McKinnon went down with a season-ending knee injury a week before the opener.

Second-year back Matt Breida has filled in nicely and leads the NFL in rushing after two weeks with 184 yards.

“A lot of people thought this year that I wasn’t going to get as much playing time as I did last year,” Breida said. “It sucks that Jet went down, but I feel like me and (Alfred Morris) are going to be able to help this team out a lot and have a great year.”

GETTING DEFENSIVE

There should be points-a-plenty on Sunday. The Chiefs are allowing 430 yards passing and 508 yards per game, last in the league, while the 49ers are in the 20s in each of the statistical categories. San Francisco is also minus-2 in turnover margin.

FOSTER RETURNS

San Francisco figures to get a big boost on defense from Reuben Foster, who was suspended for the first two games of the season for violating the league’s substance abuse and personal conduct policy.

The linebacker excelled in 10 games when he was healthy last season, showing an ability to shut down the running game and the athleticism to guard running backs and tight ends.

Those skills could be crucial this week against Hunt and tight end Travis Kelce.

LOCKDOWN SHERMAN

Opposing quarterbacks are staying away from 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman, even as he comes back from last year’s season-ending Achilles’ tendon surgery. Sherman has allowed one catch in 99 coverage snaps and only been targeted four times, according to Pro Football Focus.

“Sherman is a very instinctual player,” Mahomes said. “They have a big defensive line. It’s going to be a big challenge, especially our first home game. We just have to keep getting better.”

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Case Keenum returns to Broncos practice after missing 1 day

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Denver Broncos quarterback Case Keenum returned to practice Thursday after missing a day with a sore knee.

Keenum didn't want to miss Wednesday's workout but said he understood that being cautious in September will give him a better chance of staying in the lineup all season.

Keenum has led the Broncos

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Denver Broncos quarterback Case Keenum returned to practice Thursday after missing a day with a sore knee.

Keenum didn’t want to miss Wednesday’s workout but said he understood that being cautious in September will give him a better chance of staying in the lineup all season.

Keenum has led the Broncos (2-0) to a pair of fourth-quarter comebacks, pushing his record over the last two seasons to 13-3.

He helped the Minnesota Vikings reach the NFC championship game last year before signing a two-year, $36 million free agent contract with Denver.

Right tackle Jared Veldheer (concussion) was cleared to return to activity but not contact Thursday. Linebacker Brandon Marshall (knee) and cornerback Adam Jones (thigh) were held out again.

The Broncos play at Baltimore (1-1) on Sunday.

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FANTASY PLAYS: Sit Rodgers? Worth at least mulling for W3

Patrick Mahomes is good. 2018 David Johnson looks nothing like 2016 David Johnson. The Rams defense has not only replaced the Seahawks as the NFC's most dominant unit, but may be the best the NFL has to offer.

Week 3 will go a long way toward helping fantasy football owners decide how those clear early

Patrick Mahomes is good. 2018 David Johnson looks nothing like 2016 David Johnson. The Rams defense has not only replaced the Seahawks as the NFC’s most dominant unit, but may be the best the NFL has to offer.

Week 3 will go a long way toward helping fantasy football owners decide how those clear early observations play out. Mahomes, Johnson and the Rams defense are certain starts, but the same can’t be said for some others whose fate will hinge on the faith of their owners.

START: Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Buccaneers: FitzMagic’s next act won’t be too hard as the Steelers defense looks easily disappears. Pittsburgh is 31st in fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks and will have to contend with the withering assault that will come from Fitzpatrick firing the ball to the likes of Mike Evans, O.J. Howard and DeSean Jackson. Mahomes’ historic start is the only reason that Fitzpatrick’s 699 yards and eight touchdowns aren’t the story of fantasy football. Playing Fitzpatrick on Monday night will give his owners plenty of confidence in pulling out a Week 3 victory.

SIT: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers: Seriously. The threat of his injured knee giving way blends in with a road game against a Redskins defense that has allowed 161 passing yards per game and a mere 5.1 yards per attempt. Rodgers saw his Week 1 fantasy output nearly cut in half by the Vikings last week and the Redskins will be focused on forcing him to make plays on his bad leg. Under normal circumstances, Rodgers is a must-start on a weekly basis, yet there’s too much risk in play with his injury. Those who have a QB2 who is healthy and has a favorable matchup may want to go in that direction.

START: Matt Breida, RB, 49ers: He’s not going to repeat his 12.5 yards per carry from last week against the Lions, but Breida is in line for another big afternoon against a Chiefs defense that is giving up yardage in big chunks. While Kansas City is seventh overall versus the run, its inability to stop pass-catching backs is why it’s 30th in fantasy points allowed per game to opposing runners. Alfred Morris will still get his touches but in a game with two bad defenses, Brieda is the clear choice, especially in point-per-reception (PPR) formats.

SIT: Dalvin Cook, RB, Vikings: A hamstring issue led Cook to miss practice on Wednesday and with a battered Bills defense on the Sunday docket, this could lead Minnesota to either put him on a tight “pitch count” in favor of Latavius Murray or have him sit out. Buffalo is 29th in fantasy points allowed per game against opposing backs, making Cook a tempting play, but don’t be surprised if the Vikings play the long-term game and make Murray an intriguing flex option.

START: Corey Clement, RB, Eagles: It’s unlikely that Jay Ajayi and/or Darren Sproles will be available against the Colts, making Clement a sneaky good start in PPR leagues. Clement caught five passes for 55 yards and a touchdown in last week’s loss against the Buccaneers and gets a meaty matchup against Indianapolis. The Colts are allowing 11 catches and 93 yards per game to opposing running backs. With Nelson Agholor and Zach Ertz as the only reliable options in the Philadelphia passing game, look for the returning Carson Wentz to help get Clement 12-15 touches as a dual threat.

SIT: Corey Davis, WR, Titans: Quarterback Marcus Mariota’s status remains in question, which means Blaine Gabbert will again be cast into the role of game manager for a run-heavy attack. It doesn’t help Davis’ cause that he’ll see plenty of All-Pro corner Jalen Ramsey much of the afternoon. The Jaguars are ninth in fantasy points allowed per game to opposing receivers and if Gabbert is indeed the starter, don’t count on Davis putting up big numbers.

START: Keelan Cole, WR, Jaguars: Leonard Fournette should return to the lineup, but it shouldn’t keep Cole from having a solid encore performance after last week’s seven-catch, 116-yard outing against the Patriots that included his first touchdown of the season. Cole has caught 10 of his 12 targets in the early going and has shown his big-play skills, having pulled in four passes of 20-plus yards. Tennessee has allowed a staggering 70 percent completion rate to opposing passers and if the Titans put too much focus on slowing down Fournette, Cole and Blake Bortles will be able to put up solid numbers.

SIT: Tyler Eifert, TE, Bengals: C.J. Uzomah is beginning to steal targets from Eifert and it doesn’t help his cause that the Panthers have been solid when it comes to containing opposing tight ends. Eifert could have red zone potential, but the Bengals will look to exploit a Carolina defense that is 28th in completion percentage (73.7) by using running back Gio Bernard to help take attention off A.J. Green.

START: Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions: Detroit is 30th in rushing, which is more reason for Stafford to fire away against a New England defense that was scorched by Blake Bortles last week. The Pats have allowed 276 passing yards per game and Stafford comes off a 347-yard, three-TD performance in the loss at the 49ers. This should also be a good game to play Lions receiver Kenny Golladay, who has seemingly passed by Marvin Jones and could have a huge Sunday night.

SIT: Josh Gordon, WR, Patriots: Tom Brady will get to deploy his latest weapon on Sunday night, but Gordon won’t be on the field enough to justify starting him. Gordon will probably get 15-20 plays, which means he will get three to four targets with at least one a downfield shot. It will be best to wait a game or two before going all-in with Gordon, whose upside has never looked better now that he is with a franchise who can help him mature on and off the field.

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Chiefs have invested heavily in protecting Patrick Mahomes

 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — It's a good thing Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes prefers takeout to dining in these days, because the first-year starter would be recognized in any restaurant in Kansas City.

Not just because of his Mohawk, either.

Mahomes is off to a record-setting start to the season, and he has the

 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — It’s a good thing Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes prefers takeout to dining in these days, because the first-year starter would be recognized in any restaurant in Kansas City.

Not just because of his Mohawk, either.

Mahomes is off to a record-setting start to the season, and he has the Chiefs at 2-0 heading into their home opener Sunday against San Francisco.

And that has just about everyone buzzing, from busboys to restaurant owners, about the possibility of another AFC West title and some postseason success.

“I can only imagine it’s going to be pretty interesting to be Patrick Mahomes around town,” Chiefs center Mitch Morse said with a sly smile.

Morse doesn’t have as much trouble when he dines out, of course. Nor do the rest of the Chiefs’ offensive linemen, even though they’re a big reason Mahomes has had so much success.

A group that returned largely intact from last season, when it helped Kareem Hunt win the NFL rushing title, has proven it can keep Mahomes clean as well.

The line has allowed just two sacks despite going on the road to face the Chargers and Steelers, two fairly salty defenses, and that has translated into offensive numbers that rank near the top of the league.

Most importantly? The Chiefs are averaging 40 points per game.

“I think jelling is a great word,” Morse said. “It’s four years for some of us together, and with offensive line continuity is the biggest thing. The more we play together helps.”

The Chiefs have certainly invested in their offensive line.

Their first draft pick of the Andy Reid era was Eric Fisher, who was selected first overall in 2013 and has played well enough to sign a $63 million, six-year deal.

Morse was a second-round pick in 2015, and right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif was a sixth-round flyer who panned out so well he also signed a long-term contract to the tune of $42.36 million over five years.

Kansas City solidified the right tackle position by signing Mitchell Schwartz to a $33 million, five-year deal a couple of years ago, and shored up the only remaining spot on the offensive line when former first-round pick Cam Erving was acquired in a trade with the Cleveland Browns.

He’s played so well that the Chiefs signed him to a $15.75 million extension last offseason.

It’s easier to tie up money in the offensive line when the quarterback, often the most expensive position on the roster, happens to be on a rookie deal.

But it also shows how much value the Chiefs put in protecting Mahomes, and how much confidence they have in the group they’ve assembled.

“They’ve worked very hard at coming together and working,” Reid said.

“We have a ton of things we can improve on. As defensive coordinators study and see these things, they will throw different wrinkles at you and you have to rise up every week.

“That’s not a simple part of this. In this business it’s not so much about what you did the week before, it’s about what you do today.

“We have to keep answering these different challenges,” Reid said. “We did OK last week, now we will prepare ourselves for this week.”

Indeed, the challenge presented by the Steelers was unique. Their defense tends to disguise blitz packages better than most, and that could have created problems for an inexperienced quarterback.

But beyond keeping Mahomes upright, the offensive also was instrumental in helping him diagnose what the Steelers were doing. It was a true team effort in calling out the blitzes.

Now the challenge is San Francisco, led by sack specialist DeForest Buckner.

“It’s the same type of scheme that the Chargers ran and originated in Seattle. They have a lot of good players,” Mahomes said.

“It’s going to be a great challenge for us, especially being our first home game. We have to stay in process. Keep doing what we do well, keep getting better, fixing our mistakes and hopefully come out with the win.”

Notes: Safety Eric Berry (Achilles tendon) remained out of practice Thursday, making it unlikely he will make his season debut against San Francisco. He’s been out since early in training camp. … DT Chris Jones returned to practice after missing Wednesday’s workout with a groin injury. … FS Armani Watts was excused from practice for personal reasons.

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Colts’ Hilton, Doyle, Castonzo miss practice again

 

 

Four key offensive pieces missed practice on Thursday for the Indianapolis Colts, raising questions about their availability for Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

 

Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (quad), left tackle Anthony Castonzo (hamstring), tight end Jack Doyle (hip) and running back Marlon Mack (foot, hamstring) all sat out Wednesday and Thursday.

 

 

Four key offensive pieces missed practice on Thursday for the Indianapolis Colts, raising questions about their availability for Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

 

Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (quad), left tackle Anthony Castonzo (hamstring), tight end Jack Doyle (hip) and running back Marlon Mack (foot, hamstring) all sat out Wednesday and Thursday.

 

Hilton, who has missed just eight of the team’s 143 snaps through two games, said Wednesday his injury is “nothing to worry about,” but questions will remain if he does not get in at least a limited practice Friday. He leads the team in receptions (12) and yards (129) and is tied for the lead in receiving touchdowns (2).

 

Doyle has missed just seven snaps through two weeks, though he has taken a backseat to free agent signee Eric Ebron (seven catches, 77 yards, two scores) in the passing game.

 

Castonzo has yet to play after sustaining a pair of setbacks — the most recent coming last week — since he initially hurt his hamstring during training camp. He had previously expected to return in Week 2.

 

Mack made his season debut last week after a preseason hamstring injury, tallying 36 total yards on 11 touches, but he picked up a foot issue in the game. Head coach Frank Reich said Monday that Mack was “a little banged up” but “fine.”

 

The Colts’ offense has been inconsistent through two weeks, ranking 26th in yards per play and tied for 18th in points while ranking No. 1 in the NFL on third downs and eighth in sacks allowed per pass attempt.

 

Luck has been sacked just three times on 87 dropbacks, with Joe Haeg and Le’Raven Clark combining to replace Castonzo on the blind side and rookie Quenton Nelson solidifying the left guard spot.

 

The Eagles are tied for eighth in the NFL with six sacks this season.

 

–Field Level Media

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