Oct 23, 2022; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Atlanta Falcons head coach Arthur Smith calls a time out in the second half against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paycor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Arthur Smith likes direction of his first-place Falcons

It’s been years since the Atlanta Falcons have been in first place in the NFC South. But at 4-4, that’s exactly where they find themselves ahead of Sunday’s home date with the Los Angeles Chargers (4-3).

Arthur Smith doesn’t want his team to rest on its laurels. But he is proud of the team’s resiliency and the culture that’s coming together in his second season as coach of the Falcons.

“We’ve just got a lot of good guys, and we’ve got a stable situation,” Smith said. “And I’m hopeful we can continue on this path.

“We try to find the right people and you try to foster the right climate and get the right type of guys. … If somebody doesn’t want to do it that way, you’re probably not changing them.”

Despite throwing two interceptions in Week 8’s dramatic 37-34 overtime win over Carolina, Marcus Mariota had his best passing outing of the season. The eight-year veteran completed 20 of 28 passes and recorded season highs in yards (253) and touchdowns (three).

He also had a 30-yard run in overtime, which set up the eventual game-winning 41-yard field goal by Younghoe Koo with 1:55 remaining.

“I thought when they rushed, they try to rush you down the middle or heavy, (Mariota) was able to get out get and extend that play and flip his hips around,” Smith said. “I thought he made some good plays on play-action. The one he had to Kyle (Pitts) on the first touchdown drive … I thought he progressed pretty well (in the pocket) too.”

Veteran Damiere Byrd has seen his role increase in the Falcons’ passing game in recent weeks — and his rapport with Mariota is improving. The seven-year pro had three receptions for 67 yards and a key 47-yard touchdown reception in the win over the Panthers.

“He’s taken advantage of his opportunity,” Smith said. “He’s a guy that’s been in our program and works extremely hard. He wasn’t getting a lot of snaps earlier in the year, but when his number has been called lately, he’s been making plays for us.”

The Falcons could be in line for another shootout in Week 9 squaring off against a high-powered Chargers offense that features quarterback Justin Herbert and versatile tailback Austin Ekeler.

Los Angeles ranks eighth in the NFL in scoring offense at 23.4 points per game, but at 27 points allowed on average it trails only Detroit for the worst scoring defense in the league. Similarly, the Falcons rank sixth in the league in scoring offense (25.0 ppg) and 28th in scoring defense (25.6 ppg).

“We know we have a challenge this week,” Smith said. “You got a team that’s coming off a bye with one of the best young quarterbacks in the league, so we got to be ready to roll in all three phases.”

–Running back Cordarrelle Patterson is scheduled to return from injured reserve this week. Smith said he’d “talk with team doctors and Cordarrelle” to come up with a plan on Wednesday. Smith did not provide an update on the status of starting cornerback A.J. Terrell (hamstring) and starting safety Jaylinn Hawkins (concussion), but said “if they’re trending like they could be ready, they’ll be out there.”

–Tight end Kyle Pitts had five catches for 80 yards and a score on nine targets against Carolina. The Chargers have had trouble defending the tight end position so he could be poised for a productive outing Sunday.

–Field Level Media

Buffalo cornerback Tre'Davious White hits the stationary bikes as he works his way back from an injury, on the opening day of the Buffalo Bills training camp at St. John Fisher University in Rochester Sunday, July 24, 2022.

Sd 072422 Bills Camp 5 Spts

Bills CB Tre’Davious White to join 53-man roster Wednesday

Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White joins the active roster on Wednesday, but Buffalo will not make a decision on his gameday status until gauging his readiness to take the field for the first time since his Thanksgiving Day 2021 knee injury.

White has been on the practice field with the Bills for three weeks. He was designated to return from the physically unable to perform list before the Week 7 bye but wasn’t added to the roster last week before the Sunday night game with the Green Bay Packers.

White, a two-time Pro Bowl selection, tore his ACL during a win over the New Orleans Saints on Nov. 25 last season.

McDermott said earlier in October that the Bills want to make sure they “crawl before we walk” with White.

White, 27, has spent the first five seasons of his NFL career with Buffalo and played in 72 games, all starts.

He was a first-team All-Pro selection in 2019 along with earning Pro Bowl nods in 2019 and 2020. He has 16 interceptions, 60 pass breakups, five forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries and 279 tackles for his career.

–Field Level Media

Sep 25, 2022; Landover, Maryland, USA; Washington Commanders defensive end Chase Young on the field before the game between the Washington Commanders and the Philadelphia Eagles at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Commanders DE Chase Young ready to make ’22 practice debut

Commanders defensive end Chase Young will practice for the first time this season on Wednesday, which opens the window for Washington to activate the former No. 2 overall pick from the physically unable to perform list.

Head coach Ron Rivera said the Commanders determined Young was ready to hit the field this week, and confirmed his first workout in a team setting would be Wednesday. Washington (4-4) has won three consecutive games by a total of eight points and hosts the Minnesota Vikings (6-1) and Philadelphia Eagles (7-0) in its next two games.

If the Commanders opt not to activate Young after the three-week window expires, he cannot be added to the active roster this season.

Young, 23, tore his right ACL and MCL on Nov. 14 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He started the season on the physically unable to perform list and was first eligible to return for the team’s Oct. 9 game against Tennessee, won by the Titans.

Rivera said the team’s green light comes only after Young visited renowned surgeon Dr. James Andrews and was given medical clearance.

Young had 7.5 sacks as a rookie in 2020 when he was named Defensive Rookie of the Year. He had 1.5 sacks in nine games last season before his knee injury.

–Field Level Media

Sep 10, 2022; East Hartford, Connecticut, USA; Syracuse Orange defensive back Garrett Williams (8) reacts after a play against the Connecticut Huskies in the first quarter at Rentschler Field at Pratt & Whitney Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Syracuse CB Garrett Williams (ACL) is done for season

Syracuse standout cornerback Garrett Williams will miss the rest of the season after tearing the ACL, coach Dino Babers said on Monday.

Williams was injured during the first half of Saturday’s 41-24 home loss to Notre Dame. He was sporting crutches on the sideline in the second half.

“He is one of our leaders,” Babers said. “Garrett is a cool cat. He’s Syracuse through and through. Nothing but Orange running through his veins, and he wants nothing but the best for his family, and we want nothing but the best for him. We will stand beside him, and there’s no doubt he will stand beside us.”

Williams had 36 tackles and two interceptions in seven games this season. He has picked off four passes in 32 career games over four seasons.

The Orange also have to firm up the status of quarterback Garrett Shrader (lower body). Shrader had the injury before playing Notre Dame. Babers removed him before the end of the loss to the Irish but said that choice wasn’t injury-related.

Syracuse (6-2, 3-1 ACC) visits Pitt on Saturday. The Orange have lost their past two games.

–Field Level Media

Nov 21, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears inside linebacker Roquan Smith (58) tackles Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Devin Duvernay (13) in the first half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Bears trade LB Roquan Smith to Ravens

NFL leading tackler Roquan Smith is relocating from the Chicago Bears to the heart of the Baltimore Ravens’ defense, according to multiple reports.

ESPN reported the Bears agreed to trade Smith to the Ravens for second- and fifth-round draft picks in 2023, following the rebuild pattern of shedding salary since general manager Ryan Poles took over the team in January.

Smith, 25, is a two-time second-team All-Pro with the Bears and was drafted eighth overall out of Georgia in 2018. He represents an upgrade in the middle of the 3-4 defense in Baltimore, which now stacks three first-rounders at the position in Patrick Queen (2020, 28th overall), Odafe Oweh (2021, 31st) along with proven veterans Justin Houston and Jason Pierre-Paul at the fourth LB spot.

The Ravens are atop the AFC North at 5-3, but defensive standards are not being met.

They are 32nd in defensive yards per play — 5.98-yard average — and passing yards per game (278.9) but first in the NFL against the run (84.5 yards per game).

While the Bears are set with a potential $140 million to $150 million under the salary cap for 2023 free agency, they now start over without the centerpiece of their defense in Smith. Poles traded defensive end Robert Quinn to the Philadelphia Eagles last week.

The league-leader in tackles at 83, according the NFL’s official statistics, Smith is in the final year of his rookie contract. Negotiations between Poles and Smith’s representatives became contentious before training camp, when he demanded a trade.

The trade of Quinn hit Smith hard when he learned of his departure during a press session last Wednesday.

Smith, who was fifth in the NFL in total tackles last season (career-high 163). He has 608 total tackles and 14.5 sacks in 69 career games.

–Field Level Media

Sep 25, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Rashod Bateman (7) runs with the ball in front of New England Patriots cornerback Jonathan Jones (31) during the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Ravens WR Rashod Bateman (foot) to miss ‘few weeks’

Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Rashod Bateman will be sidelined “a few weeks” with a foot injury he re-aggravated in last week’s game.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Monday that Bateman’s injury is more serious than the team thought coming out of Thursday night’s win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

It was first thought Bateman had tweaked his foot. He missed two games earlier this season with the injury. Bateman was targeted just once in 13 snaps against the Bucs. He was ruled out after halftime.

“Bateman’s a little bit more disappointing in the sense that after the game, they thought it was kind of a tweak, but there was a little more there from a strain standpoint,” Harbaugh said Monday. “… It looks like it’s going to be a few weeks for him. We’ll have more to report on that later in the week.”

Bateman, 22, has 15 catches for 285 yards and two touchdowns in six games (five starts) this season.

All-Pro tight end Mark Andrews is dealing with shoulder and knee issues, but Harbaugh said both are minor. He, too, was ruled out of the rest of the Bucs’ game after playing just 10 snaps.

“Mark Andrews looks like it’s not a major, major thing,” Harbaugh said. “It’s something he’s dealing with … think he’ll be OK.”

Harbaugh said running back Gus Edwards will likely be questionable with a minor hamstring injury for the Week 9 game against New Orleans. The Ravens and Saints play next Monday night.

Finally, Harbaugh said the team would designate linebackers Tyus Bowser and David Ojabo for return from injured reserve this week. Harbaugh expects Bowser to play against the Saints while Ojabo will need more time to recover from his pre-draft Achilles tear.

–Field Level Media

Oct 30, 2022; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA;  Indianapolis Colts defensive tackle Tyquan Lewis (94) is carted off the field following an injury during a game against the Washington Commanders at Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Scheer/IndyStar-USA TODAY Sports

Colts DL Tyquan Lewis (knee) out for season

Indianapolis Colts defensive lineman Tyquan Lewis will miss the rest of the season with a ruptured left patella tendon.

He sustained the same season-ending injury to his right knee in Week 8 of last season, nearly one year ago to the day.

Head coach Frank Reich confirmed Monday that Lewis will have surgery for the injury sustained late in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 17-16 loss to the Washington Commanders. He left the field on a cart.

“Our hearts go out to Tyquan,” Reich said. “He was having a great year. … We’ll support him every step of the way.”

Lewis, 27, recorded 14 tackles, four quarterback hits, one sack and one forced fumble in seven games (four starts) this season. The Colts’ 2018 second-round pick has 70 tackles, 9.5 sacks and one interception in 48 career contests (16 starts).

“It was tough, tough to see,” said wide receiver Parris Campbell, who played with Lewis at Ohio State. “I know what he battled through last year to get back to the point to where he was now.”

Also Monday, the Colts activated safety Trevor Denbow from injured reserve and released punter Nolan Cooney from the practice squad.

–Field Level Media

Dec 19, 2021; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback P.J. Walker (6) warms up prior to the game against the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Panthers sticking with P.J. Walker at QB

P.J. Walker will remain the starting quarterback for the Carolina Panthers in Week 9.

Panthers head coach Steve Wilks made the announcement Monday, a decision that again relegates Baker Mayfield to the bench.

Wilks said Mayfield has been a “ultimate, ultimate pro” over being benched.

Walker is 1-2 as the starter for the Panthers, who are 2-6 heading into their Week 9 game at Cincinnati.

Walker nearly rallied the Panthers to an unlikely victory Sunday in Atlanta. Walker hooked up with a diving DJ Moore for a 62-yard touchdown heave with 12 seconds left in regulation. However, an unsportsmanlike penalty on Moore contributed to a longer extra-point kick that was off the mark and kept the game tied at 34-34.

The Panthers lost in overtime as Eddy Pineiro missed a 32-yard field goal and the Falcons kicked the winning FG with 1:55 left. Wilks said the Panthers are sticking with Pineiro and have no plans to bring in a kicker this week.

Walker, 27, is completing 62.5 percent of his passes for 614 yards, with three touchdowns against one interception. The former XFL player is making $895,000 this season.

Mayfield, with a contract worth as much as $18.86 million this season, was 1-4 with 962 passing yards to go with four touchdowns and four interceptions.

Last year’s starter, Sam Darnold, is in the 21-day practice window to be activated to the 53-man roster. He was designated for return from injured reserve on Oct. 19. Wilks said he will continue to be evaluated.

–Field Level Media

Sep 24, 2022; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Indiana Hoosiers wide receiver Cam Camper (6) extends to catch a pass against the Cincinnati Bearcats in the third quarter at Nippert Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kareem Elgazzar/Cincinnati Enquirer via USA TODAY NETWORK

Indiana WR Cam Camper (ACL) to miss rest of season

Indiana leading receiver Cam Camper will miss the remainder of the season due to a torn ACL in his knee.

Hoosiers coach Tom Allen said the injury occurred in a loss to Rutgers on Oct. 22. Indiana had a bye last weekend.

“He’ll have surgery in the near future,” Allen said at Monday’s weekly press conference. “He did that in the first half against Rutgers. Obviously, we feel terrible for him. He’s a huge part of our team. He’ll be beginning that long road to recovery and our staff will do a great job of getting him ready for the fall.”

Camper leads Indiana with 46 receptions and 569 yards. He had two touchdown catches in seven games.

The junior college transfer had two huge performances, making 11 catches for 156 yards in his Hoosiers’ debut against Illinois and collecting 10 receptions for 126 yards against Cincinnati in his fourth game.

Camper played two seasons at Trinity Valley Community College in Texas before joining the Hoosiers.

Also, Allen said standout linebacker Cam Jones remains week-to-week with a foot injury. Jones was injured against Nebraska on Oct. 1 and has missed the past three games.

Jones ranks second on Indiana with 54 tackles despite his absences.

The Hoosiers (3-5, 1-4 Big Ten) have dropped five straight games. They host Penn State (6-2, 3-2) on Saturday.

–Field Level Media

Georgia linebacker Nolan Smith arrives at the Dawg Walk before the start of a NCAA college football game between Vanderbilt and Georgia in Athens, Ga., on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022.

News Joshua L Jones

Georgia LB Nolan Smith doubtful for Tenn. showdown

Georgia linebacker Nolan Smith, the No. 1 Bulldogs’ leader in sacks, is doubtful for Saturday’s showdown with No. 2 Tennessee due to a shoulder injury.

Georgia head coach Kirby Smart did not completely rule out the 6-foot-3, 235-pound senior for the matchup of the unbeaten Bulldogs (8-0, 5-0 SEC) and Volunteers (8-0, 4-0) in Athens, Ga.

Smart initially feared Smith had dislocated his shoulder in the first half of Saturday’s 42-20 win against Florida, but he said it is now believed to be a muscle injury.

“His availability has not been determined,” Smart told reporters Monday. “It does not look good for availability this week. It’s a pec muscle, so it’s one of those deals where we’ll do an MRI. We’re still getting some opinions on it, but he’s probably doubtful for this week.”

In addition to his team-high three sacks, Smith has 16 quarterback hurries and seven tackles for loss in eight games this season. He has 12.5 sacks and 110 tackles in 38 career games with the Bulldogs.

His absence is untimely to say the least, as Tennessee and Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback Hendon Hooker lead the nation in scoring (49.4 points per game) and total offense (553.0 yards per game).

–Field Level Media