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NFL notebook: Rodgers (knee) will play

 

 

Aaron Rodgers plans to play with a left knee injury for the third consecutive game on Sunday, and the Green Bay Packers' perennial MVP candidate is worried his condition will get worse before it improves.

 

"Obviously that's a concern," Rodgers said Wednesday. "Hopefully it goes the other way."

 

Rodgers did not

 

 

Aaron Rodgers plans to play with a left knee injury for the third consecutive game on Sunday, and the Green Bay Packers’ perennial MVP candidate is worried his condition will get worse before it improves.

 

“Obviously that’s a concern,” Rodgers said Wednesday. “Hopefully it goes the other way.”

 

Rodgers did not practice last week until a light workout Saturday before playing Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings. He was hurt in the first half of the season opener against the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field. It’s unlikely Rodgers will practice much this week, if at all, but he does plan to be on the field Sunday when the Packers (1-0-1) visit the Redskins (1-1).

 

“Obviously, I’d love to be better than I was last week as far as health-wise, but there’s some factors that are out of my control,” Rodgers said.

 

–Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook did not practice, calling himself day-to-day as he recovers from a hamstring injury sustained last Sunday against the Packers.

 

Cook departed in the fourth quarter of the 29-29 tie, but after the game, he downplayed his removal and attributed it to cramps.

 

After sitting out practice Wednesday, Cook confirmed his hamstring issue to the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press and said, “I’m just taking it day by day. I’ll see how I feel at the end of the week, but it’s going to be day by day.'”

 

–Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins was a limited participant in practice due to ankle and thumb ailments, according to the team’s injury report. The Texans (0-2) host the New York Giants (0-2) on Sunday.

 

Hopkins, who also dealt with the issue last week, leads the Texans with 14 catches for 188 yards and one touchdown through two games.

 

Fellow receivers Keke Coutee and Will Fuller V were also limited in practice because of hamstring issues, as was linebacker Jadeveon Clowney (back), who missed Sunday’s loss to Tennessee. Defensive end J.J. Watt (knee) and safety Kareem Jackson (ankle) were listed on Houston’s initial injury report, but both participated in practice.

 

–Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown was back at practice on Wednesday, two days after skipping team meetings.

 

Brown was a no-show in Pittsburgh on Monday when the team gathered in the aftermath of a 42-37 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Coach Mike Tomlin, who confirmed the absence, said Wednesday that Brown was disciplined. Even so, the wideout is heavily involved in the Steelers’ Week 3 game plan.

 

Defensive end Cam Heyward, one of four team captains, said he also met with Brown but declined to divulge any additions from their chat. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said he spoke to Brown and wasn’t worried, adding that the wide receiver didn’t address teammates.

 

–Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz had hoped to return from his left ACL injury to start the season. Even though he is a few weeks behind schedule, he told reporters Wednesday he is thrilled to have all the doubts behind him as he prepares to start on Sunday.

 

Wentz, 25, said he is confident that his knee has healed sufficiently for him to play effectively. He will wear a brace during games.

 

“I feel comfortable with it,” he said. “We’ll see after this season how I feel with it, but I feel good with it right now. It’s definitely something the doctors recommend and so I’ve gotten used to it by now and I feel really comfortable with it.”

 

–Quarterback Case Keenum sat out the Denver Broncos’ practice with a sore knee, according to KUSA-TV.

 

Backup Chad Kelly, selected by the Broncos with the final pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, ran the first-team offense in Keenum’s absence. The TV station reported that Denver expects Keenum, 30, to return to practice on Thursday.

 

The Broncos signed Keenum to a two-year, $36 million contract in March. So far this season, he has thrown for 551 yards with three touchdown passes and four interceptions. He also has a rushing touchdown.

 

–Shortly before Josh Gordon took the practice field with the Patriots for the first time, New England coach Bill Belichick was still insisting the trade for the wide receiver had not yet been finalized. Gordon suited up wearing No. 10.

 

During his media availability, Belichick refused to address the newest weapon for the Patriots.

 

“I’m not going to talk about players that are not actually, I would say, on our roster totally,” Belichick said, per NFL.com. “When that happens, that happens. If it happens.

 

“There are terms that have to be met before the trade is finalized. And when those are completed, then we’ll have a completed trade. Until they are completed, I’m not going to get into it.”

 

–The Cincinnati Bengals signed former Seattle Seahawks running back Thomas Rawls to shore up their backfield depth with Joe Mixon expected to miss time. Rawls had joined the New York Jets in the offseason but failed to make the 53-man roster. Running back Tra Carson was waived to make room for Rawls.

 

Mixon, one of the heroes of Cincinnati’s hard-fought victory over AFC North rival Baltimore on Thursday night, had minor knee surgery on Saturday that is expected to keep him out for approximately two weeks. He was in and out of the game because of the right knee injury. Originally hurt in the first half, he finished with 84 rushing yards on 21 carries and was noticeably limping afterward.

 

Giovani Bernard is expected to take over starting duties with Mixon out.

 

–Field Level Media

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NFL fines Ravens $200,000 for rules violation

 

 

The NFL fined the Baltimore Ravens $200,000 on Wednesday for preseason violations of the league's coach-to-player communications policy.

 

The team was fined because several Ravens wore helmets with coach-to-player communications while on the field at the same time, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport said.

 

The Ravens issued a statement on social media:

 

 

The NFL fined the Baltimore Ravens $200,000 on Wednesday for preseason violations of the league’s coach-to-player communications policy.

 

The team was fined because several Ravens wore helmets with coach-to-player communications while on the field at the same time, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said.

 

The Ravens issued a statement on social media:

 

“The Ravens’ equipment staff misunderstood that this league rule applied in the preseason. Ravens coaches were unaware that multiple players had communication devices in their helmets while on the field at the same time.”

 

 

 

Baltimore already was fined earlier this year for an infraction of the collective bargaining agreement. In June, an undisclosed infraction forced the team to forfeit two organized team activities. Owner Steve Bisciotti and coach John Harbaugh were fined $100,000 and $50,000, respectively.

 

In 2016, the Ravens and Harbaugh were fined $343,057 and $137,223, respectively, for an infraction in OTAs. The team also had to cancel some workouts in 2010 for another violation.

 

–Field Level Media

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Browns WR Landry questionable to face Jets with knee issue

CLEVELAND (AP) — Browns top receiver Jarvis Landry is questionable to play in Thursday night's game against the New York Jets because of a knee issue.

Landry, who has 12 catches for 175 yards in his first two games for Cleveland, has been limited during workouts this week and the team listed him as questionable

CLEVELAND (AP) — Browns top receiver Jarvis Landry is questionable to play in Thursday night’s game against the New York Jets because of a knee issue.

Landry, who has 12 catches for 175 yards in his first two games for Cleveland, has been limited during workouts this week and the team listed him as questionable on Wednesday’s injury report.

Landry said he was confident he would play when he spoke to reporters on Tuesday.

Linebacker Christian Kirksey is doubtful as he continues to recover from an ankle and shoulder problem. Kirksey sat out Sunday’s loss in New Orleans, and with a short week, it’s possible the Browns (0-1-1) will rest him again.

Starting defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah will sit out his second consecutive game with a left ankle injury sustained Week 1 against Pittsburgh, and tight end Seth DeValve with a hamstring injury.

Also, starting safety Damarious Randall is questionable with a heel injury.

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Cam Newton learning to become more efficient passer

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Cam Newton appears on his way to becoming a smarter, more efficient passer.

It's only been two games, but the Panthers' eighth-year quarterback is completing a career-best 69 percent of his passes — well above his career completion mark of 58.3 percent — entering Sunday's game against the unbeaten Cincinnati Bengals.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Cam Newton appears on his way to becoming a smarter, more efficient passer.

It’s only been two games, but the Panthers’ eighth-year quarterback is completing a career-best 69 percent of his passes — well above his career completion mark of 58.3 percent — entering Sunday’s game against the unbeaten Cincinnati Bengals.

Those numbers may not turn a lot of heads, but the Panthers (1-1) believe it’s a sign that Newton is gaining a solid grasp on new offensive coordinator Norv Turner’s scheme and developing as a passer. He’s being more patient, often working through his progressions and finding his second, third and sometimes fourth options on pass plays.

That was evident last Sunday when Newton completed 14 passes to running back Christian McCaffrey resulting in 102 yards — most of those on “check downs,” where Newton was forced to read the defense and wait until the play developed before releasing the football.

“He’s made a lot of good decisions these first two games,” coach Ron Rivera said. “I’m real excited about the progress Cam has shown in terms of understanding and getting a feel for what coach Turner wants.”

The 2015 league MVP completed 32 of 45 passes for 332 yards and two touchdowns in a 31-24 loss to the Falcons on Sunday — although those numbers would have been higher had his receivers not dropped five passes, including one bobbled ball that resulted in Newton’s only interception of the season.

Despite the loss, Rivera praised Newton’s performance.

“He was patient, he went through his reads and he didn’t force balls in,” Rivera said. “And he threw check downs when he needed to. And that was huge. … Not always do you have to force the ball in or take off running.”

Rivera expects Newton’s completion percentage will increase the more time he spends in Turner’s offense.

Newton said it’s just a matter of learning to take what the defense gives him.

One of the biggest keys, he said, is trusting teammates around him to do their jobs — the offensive line giving him time to work through his progressions and receivers making plays with the ball in their hands.

That happened against Atlanta when Newton found D.J. Moore — his second option — with a pass over the middle that the speedy rookie wide receiver caught and turned into a 51-yard touchdown.

“Wherever the read takes (me) I have to get the ball out of my hands and allow those guys to” make plays, said Newton, whose completion percentage ranks 15th in the league.

“That has been a bigger part of what they doing, no doubt,” Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said of the check downs.

McCaffrey was drafted last year with the purpose of giving Newton an option when things begin to break down, instead of having to tuck and run as often.

The running back from Stanford set a franchise rookie record with 80 receptions. This year, he’s on pace to double that output.

McCaffrey is unlikely to get to 160 receptions because at some point teams are going to adjust and take him away. But the Panthers are counting on that, figuring it will open things up downfield for other receivers.

“Eventually teams will have to start to play that,” McCaffrey said, “and that’s when it all opens up.”

While Newton’s intended target may change as the season unfolds, Panthers wide receiver Torrey Smith said Newton has a good chance of maintaining that 69 percent completion rate — or even improving on it.

“Cam has been working his tail off and he has been making great decisions,” Smith said.

Newton said he couldn’t care less about his completion percentage, as long as the team wins.

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Packers QB Rodgers fears knee will get worse

 

 

Aaron Rodgers plans to play with a left knee injury for the third consecutive game on Sunday, and the Green Bay Packers' perennial MVP candidate is concerned his condition will get worse before it improves.

 

"Obviously that's a concern," Rodgers said Wednesday. "Hopefully it goes the other way."

 

Rodgers did not

 

 

Aaron Rodgers plans to play with a left knee injury for the third consecutive game on Sunday, and the Green Bay Packers’ perennial MVP candidate is concerned his condition will get worse before it improves.

 

“Obviously that’s a concern,” Rodgers said Wednesday. “Hopefully it goes the other way.”

 

Rodgers did not practice last week until a light workout Saturday before playing in Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings. He was hurt in the first half of the season opener against the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field.

 

It’s unlikely Rodgers will practice much this week, if at all, but he does plan to be on the field Sunday when the Packers (1-0-1) visit the Redskins (1-1).

 

“Obviously, I’d love to be better than I was last week as far as health-wise, but there’s some factors that are out of my control,” Rodgers said.

 

The Packers are not concerned about Rodgers’ mobility after he appeared improved both laterally and moving forward in Week 2. He credited the relatively high temperatures in Green Bay last week for loosening up his knee.

 

“We’re still in a day-by-day mode, I mean, just how he’s progressing,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said.

 

–Field Level Media

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Texans WR Hopkins (foot) limited in practice

 

 

Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins was a limited participant in practice Wednesday due to a ankle and thumb ailments, according to the team's injury report.

 

Hopkins, who also dealt with the issue last week, leads the Texans with 14 catches for 188 yards and one touchdown through two games.

 

Fellow

 

 

Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins was a limited participant in practice Wednesday due to a ankle and thumb ailments, according to the team’s injury report.

 

Hopkins, who also dealt with the issue last week, leads the Texans with 14 catches for 188 yards and one touchdown through two games.

 

Fellow receivers Keke Coutee and Will Fuller V were also limited in practice because of hamstring issues, as was linebacker Jadeveon Clowney (back), who missed Sunday’s loss to Tennessee.

 

Defensive end J.J. Watt (knee) and safety Kareem Jackson (ankle) were listed on Houston’s initial injury report, but both fully participated in Wednesday’s practice.

 

The Texans (0-2) host the New York Giants (0-2) on Sunday.

 

–Field Level Media

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Julio Jones joins Falcons’ long list of injured players

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — Wide receiver Julio Jones, held out of practice with a calf injury, has joined the Atlanta Falcons' long list of injured players.

Running back Devonta Freeman (sore right knee), who missed last week's win over Carolina , and defensive ends Takk McKinley and Derrick Shelby, who have groin injuries, also

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — Wide receiver Julio Jones, held out of practice with a calf injury, has joined the Atlanta Falcons’ long list of injured players.

Running back Devonta Freeman (sore right knee), who missed last week’s win over Carolina , and defensive ends Takk McKinley and Derrick Shelby, who have groin injuries, also did not practice Wednesday. Coach Dan Quinn says the three are day to day and have not been ruled out for Sunday’s game against New Orleans.

Quinn did not mention Jones’ injury when he spoke before practice. Jones was seen walking around the locker room during the period open to reporters.

Backup linebacker Corey Nelson left practice with a calf injury.

Atlanta has lost left guard Andy Levitre and safety Keanu Neal to season-ending injuries. Linebacker Deion Jones will miss at least eight games with a foot injury.

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Jaguars continue Payback Tour against AFC South rival Titans

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Jacksonville Jaguars might as well dub this the Payback Tour 2018.

It started last week against two-time defending AFC champion New England, which ended Jacksonville's season in January. The Jaguars won the rematch going away, a 31-20 victory that arguably made them the favorite in the conference.

Now, the Jaguars

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Jacksonville Jaguars might as well dub this the Payback Tour 2018.

It started last week against two-time defending AFC champion New England, which ended Jacksonville’s season in January. The Jaguars won the rematch going away, a 31-20 victory that arguably made them the favorite in the conference.

Now, the Jaguars (2-0) get AFC South rival Tennessee. The Titans (1-1) swept the season series in 2017 and have won four of the last five meetings.

“Losing to a team twice, at their house and here, that wasn’t cool,” linebacker Myles Jack said Wednesday. “We’re not too happy about that. That’s obviously being talked about this week. The New England game was one thing, but this is a team that literally beat us twice in one year. We’ve got to fix that.”

Tennessee scored 30 unanswered points in the first meeting last year, running for 179 yards, taking advantage of three turnovers and winning 37-16.

The Jaguars weren’t much better three months later, turning the ball over four times in a 15-10 loss in the final week of the regular season . Jacksonville played all its starters despite having secured the division title.

“The Titans were the one team we really didn’t have an answer for,” safety Tashaun Gipson said. “They outplayed us in every facet of the game. We were truly outmatched, from the home opener last year to the game before the playoffs.

“Obviously, we want to get our lick back in a sense.”

What really irked the Jaguars was talk in Tennessee’s locker room suggesting the Titans should have been AFC South champs.

“I know a lot of people heard about that,” Gipson said. “We feel like we’re the better team and we feel it’s time for us to show it. These are games we’re supposed to win.”

The Titans have been less chatty and more complimentary this week.

“At the end of the day, they’re the division champs and they got that title, so it’s going to be key for us to go out there and take it,” defensive lineman Jurrell Casey said. “It doesn’t matter what happened last year. They’re the champs right now and they got the lead in the division.”

Jacksonville’s Payback Tour doesn’t end this week, either. The team hosts New York Jets next week. The Jets beat Jacksonville in overtime last year.

Throw in the season opener at the New York Giants — Tom Coughlin’s first game against the team that pushed him out the coaching door — and it’s essentially a four-game stretch of revenge.

“We’ve got a lot of rivalries, so to speak, on the schedule,” defensive tackle Malik Jackson said. “It’s a good temperature gauger of where we are and where we want to be.”

No team has beaten Jacksonville more times than Tennessee.

The Titans handed the Jags their most heartbreaking loss in franchise history, a 33-14 setback in the AFC title game in January 2000. Jacksonville had the NFL’s best record, home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and even led 14-10 at halftime before collapsing. Tenneesse was the only team to beat Jacksonville that season, accomplishing it three times.

The Titans also handed Jacksonville one of its most embarrassing losses in team history, a 36-22 drubbing in 2016 that was much worse than the fine score indicated. The Jags trailed 27-0 at halftime on national television, getting outgained by nearly 300 yards.

“They really did just beat the (crap) out of us,” said defensive tackle Abry Jones, one of seven current Jags defenders who started that game.

The Titans have won six of nine in the series.

New England had won eight straight against Jacksonville before last week’s breakthrough victory. Players spent eight months counting down the days until they faced Tom Brady again.

They’ve waited even longer to play the Titans.

“Anyway you can find a way to get yourself up for a game,” Jack said. “For example, us losing to the them twice would be my motivation. You’ve got to find a way to hate your opponent.”

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AP Sports Writer Teresa Walker in Nashville, Tennessee, contributed to this report.

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Passed up: Darnold can show Browns what they’re missing

CLEVELAND (AP) — Sam Darnold once thought he'd be wearing an orange helmet just a few shades brighter than his hair color.

But the former USC star wasn't precisely what the Browns were looking for in a franchise quarterback in the NFL draft. Darnold checked most of the boxes, but not all of them and

CLEVELAND (AP) — Sam Darnold once thought he’d be wearing an orange helmet just a few shades brighter than his hair color.

But the former USC star wasn’t precisely what the Browns were looking for in a franchise quarterback in the NFL draft. Darnold checked most of the boxes, but not all of them and Cleveland passed on him with the No. 1 overall pick, selecting Baker Mayfield instead.

On Thursday night, Darnold can show the Browns they made a mistake.

Another one.

The youngest quarterback to start a season opener since 1970, Darnold will perform on a national TV stage for the second time already as a pro when he leads the New York Jets into FirstEnergy Stadium to face the Browns, who have played well enough to win their first two games but are still searching for their first victory since Dec. 24, 2016.

Heading into April’s draft, Darnold was considered the top of the deep 2018 QB class and it appeared he would wind up in Cleveland, where quarterbacks have come and gone like restaurant busboys over the past two decades.

“Yeah, I thought I could’ve ended up there or several other teams,” Darnold said this week. “I was excited to go anywhere. “Whoever wanted me, whoever wanted to pick me as a top pick, to me it was a dream come true right when it happened.”

After the Browns nabbed Mayfield and the Giants grabbed running back Saquon Barkley, the Jets took Darnold and have been more than satisfied by his early development.

He rebounded from throwing an interception that was returned for a TD on his first pass attempt in the opener and led the Jets to a 31-point win, and last week the 21-year-old became the youngest QB to pass for 300 yards.

Darnold insists he’s not seeking any revenge or trying to prove anything to the Browns.

“No,” he said. “I’m just going to go out there and play ball.”

The Jets and Browns are on divergent paths with their rookie quarterbacks. New York has chosen to start Darnold, while Cleveland is holding Mayfield out to watch and learn behind Tyrod Taylor.

It’s not a race and the Browns feel no need to rush their plan.

“We feel very comfortable with the guy that we selected in Baker, and I’m sure they do with him,” coach Hue Jackson said. “He’s a fine prospect and is going to be a fine player. I think they got a good one, but we feel we have a really good one, too.”

After facing Ben Roethlisberger and Drew Brees — two future Hall of Famers — in Weeks 1 and 2, the Browns aren’t looking at Darnold as any break.

“I don’t think that any game in the NFL is a breather,” said linebacker Joe Schobert.

“He’s got a big arm. He’s doing good things as their quarterback. The hardest thing to do is come into the NFL and play quarterback and be successful. And he’s so far shown himself to be pretty poised and good at it.”

PRESSURE PACKED

The Browns are down and desperate. They need a win, and after stubbing their toes twice already, need to beat the Jets. A 1-1-1 record seems light years from 0-2-1.

“Our team is excited, hungry, disappointed, anxious — all of those words you want to use,” said Jackson, who is 1-32-1 in two seasons. “We just need to get it done.”

BACK ‘HOME”

The Dawg Pound will be a homecoming of sorts for several current Jets, who are former Browns.

Running back Isaiah Crowell played the past four years in Cleveland. Wide receiver Terrelle Pryor spent two seasons with the Browns, including a breakout campaign in 2016 when the former quarterback had 1,007 yards. His QB for parts of those seasons was Josh McCown, now Darnold’s backup and mentor.

Cornerback Buster Skrine played in Cleveland from 2011-14. Jets coach Todd Bowles, too, has Cleveland connections as an assistant under Butch Davis from 2001-04.

ALIVE & KICKING

Greg Joseph was on the beach hanging out with friends last weekend, “you know, just living the South Florida life.” Things changed quickly.

The rookie is now in the spotlight — or crosshairs — as Cleveland’s new kicker. Joseph signed this week after the Browns cut Zane Gonzalez for missing two field goals and two extra points last week.

Joseph, who spent the preseason with Miami, is excited about the opportunity.

“My film’s out there. My stats are out there,” he said. “I learned a lot about me, the athlete I am and the competitor I am. I’m ready to bring it here.”

Q IS THE ANSWER

Darnold’s favorite target through two games has been wide receiver Quincy Enunwa, who has a team-leading 13 catches for 155 yards and a touchdown. Enunwa has been targeted 21 times, more than Pryor (11), Robby Anderson (six) and Jermaine Kearse (two) combined.

SACK RACE

The Jets got their first four sacks of the season last Sunday against Miami, the most since getting to Taylor seven times when he played with Buffalo in Week 9 last season.

“The whole unit, we definitely picked it up last week,” defensive end Leonard Williams said. “We didn’t have any sacks in the first week, even though they got the ball out pretty quickly. At the same time, I don’t want to make excuses. We definitely picked it up last week and I hope we continue to make strides on that.”

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Bengals down to Gio Bernard as only experienced running back

 

CINCINNATI (AP) — Giovani Bernard is the last veteran running back standing for the Cincinnati Bengals, and even he was limited in practice on Wednesday.

The Bengals (2-0) head to Carolina (1-1) with Bernard as their only experienced back who knows their system. No. 3 back Tra Carson was waived Wednesday after suffering a

 

CINCINNATI (AP) — Giovani Bernard is the last veteran running back standing for the Cincinnati Bengals, and even he was limited in practice on Wednesday.

The Bengals (2-0) head to Carolina (1-1) with Bernard as their only experienced back who knows their system. No. 3 back Tra Carson was waived Wednesday after suffering a hamstring injury in practice.

The Bengals signed free agent running back Thomas Rawls, who was released by the Jets at the end of training camp.

The running game has shown significant improvement over last year, helping the Bengals get off to their fast start. The challenge is to keep it going with only one proven option to carry the ball.

“I feel like people are freaking out but my goodness, it’s football,” Bernard said Wednesday before his limited practice. “Guys are going to go down and the next man has to step up and be prepared.”

Joe Mixon hurt his right knee during a 34-23 win over Baltimore on Thursday night. He had a surgical procedure over the weekend to remove a piece of torn cartilage. He walked without a limp or a brace Wednesday, saying the knee felt good. He’ll be sidelined for a few games as the knee recovers.

“I’m not sure of the timetable and however the recovery process is going to be or whatever they are going to let me do,” Mixon said.

Mixon’s injury opened the way for Carson to move into a bigger role behind Bernard, but he got hurt during practice on Monday.

The Bengals decided they needed another healthy runner and signed Rawls, who played for Seattle from 2015-17, starting 17 games.

Rawls did his best in his rookie season, carrying 147 times for 830 yards and a 5.6-yard average. His production dropped each of the next two seasons, and he was released after carrying 58 times for 157 yards in 2017.

The Bengals also have rookie Mark Walton, a fourth-round pick in 2018. Walton had only 21 yards on 22 carries in the preseason.

“I was hesitating, second-guessing myself,” Walton said. “I had a lot of cutbacks.”

Provided he’s healthy, Bernard will get the ball a lot at Carolina, moving into a role that he’s filled on occasion during his five-year career. He’s been used more as a complement to BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Jeremy Hill and Mixon over the years, pressed into a featured role when the starter was injured.

“He may be 5-foot-8, 200 (pounds), but he’s about 6-foot-4, 250 in heart,” running backs coach Kyle Caskey said. “So he’s one of those guys who’s going to be more productive and explosive than you think he’s going to be with his size.”

Bernard has carried the ball 20 or more times in three games during his career, including a 23-carry, 116-yard performance during a 26-17 win over Detroit on Dec. 24.

Bernard’s biggest contribution to the offense has been as a receiver. He’s caught at least five passes in a game 23 times, with nine as his career high. He has two 100-yard receiving games.

“He does the same things I do,” Mixon said. “I have complete faith in Gio and however they are going to use him. I’m not worried about any downfall in the running game and passing game. He’s done it for years.”

PRICE IN THE BOOT

Rookie center Billy Price was walking with a boot on his injured right foot Wednesday. He sprained the foot when it was stepped on during the win over the Ravens. Doctors concluded on Wednesday that the injury won’t need surgery.

He’ll wear the boot continuously for two weeks and get treatment.

“We’ll reevaluate in two weeks and see where we’re at,” Price said.

ALSO SIDELINED

Defensive end Michael Johnson hurt his left knee early in the game against the Ravens and was limited in practice on Wednesday. Linebacker Preston Brown missed the Ravens game with a sprained right ankle and also had a limited workout.

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Ballin’ on a Budget Week 3 Picks

After a week that saw us get brutalized as much as the rest of the NFL betting population last week, NFL’s Week 3 provides an opportunity for us to get back on track. To recap how bad last week was for everybody: the 10 most popular team picks in the Vegas Super

After a week that saw us get brutalized as much as the rest of the NFL betting population last week, NFL’s Week 3 provides an opportunity for us to get back on track. To recap how bad last week was for everybody: the 10 most popular team picks in the Vegas Super Contest went a total of 2-8. Pretty much no one had a good week. However, there is plenty to like this week, at least on paper.

As always, remember that we’re ballin’ on a budget, so we have $20 to spend and we’re hoping to spend it wisely on five more games this week. We’re chasing our losses from last week, but that won’t be the case for long. This week, instead of going with three spreads and two over/unders, we’re going with four spreads and just one over/under. Without further adieu, away we go …

Packers -3.5 over Redskins (EVEN)

That extra half point is a fickle beast and I debated including this pick in the Week 3 column for that exact reason. With this game being in Washington, there are plenty of scenarios we could see play out where the Packers win by a single field goal and we lose this bet. However, after a frustrating game against the Vikings that they should have won, the Packers should be out for blood in their first road game of the year.

Aaron Rodgers may be on one leg, but he’s better than nearly every other quarterback in the league even with that being the case. Washington showed against the Colts that they are potentially inept on offense without any go-to playmakers. Alex Smith isn’t likely to turn the ball over, but the offense is also more likely to settle for field goals instead of touchdowns, which is reason enough to take Green Bay even money at -3.5 instead of -3. The bet: $3 for total payout of $6.

Bills +17.5 over Vikings (-115)

Don’t get me wrong, the Vikings will win this game handily, but 17.5 points in the NFL is a ton. You’re telling me Minnesota has to win by at least three scores to cover the spread. Is that possible? Of course. Is it likely? I don’t think so. Buffalo gets to play indoors and on turf and while they’re facing one of the best defenses in the league, they should be able to move the ball enough, if LeSean McCoy is healthy, to stay within 17 points.

At this point, it appears the Bills and Cardinals are the two worst teams in the league. Most would probably rank the Vikings as one of the best. On any given Sunday, though, I’m not giving the best team in football 17.5 points on the worst team in football. Minnesota could cover, but this line seems like an overreaction to the Bills’ comically bad start. The bet: $3 for total payout of $5.61.

Seahawks -1.5 over Cowboys (-110)

This is a real test for Seattle and it might define the rest of Pete Carroll’s tenure with the Seahawks. They sit at 0-2 after losing to two average teams in the Broncos and Bears. Both those games were on the road, though, and they finally get some home cooking in Week 3. This is a huge deal as Seattle traditionally has been an elite home team and an average road team. Over the last four seasons, the Seahawks are a combined 23-9 at home and 18-15-1 on the road.

Dallas is riding high off a 20-13 win over the Giants, whose offensive line looked terrible on Sunday Night Football. Nothing happened in that game to convince me that Dak Prescott is any better than an average quarterback, so he’s not single-handedly going to torch Seattle. Ezekiel Elliott might. The Seahawks’ biggest problem is they don’t have the number of playmakers on that defense that they used to and the offense is banged up. In the end, this game is do or die for Seattle. While they may not make the playoffs this season, they will keep some hope alive by turning away the visiting Cowboys Sunday. The bet: $3 for total payout of $5.73.

Panthers -3 over Bengals (EVEN)

With this bet being even money, there’s great value here. Carolina is back at home and in the last few years, we haven’t really seen the Bengals sustain any type of success. Cincinnati has not won three games in a row since it won its first eight games of the 2015 season. We know they will be without starting running back, Joe Mixon, which is a huge deal. Giovanni Bernard is a great pass catcher out of the backfield, but he’s simply not the same playmaker, every-down back Mixon is.

Carolina showed flashes on offense against the Falcons and being back in a comfortable home environment should help them. They know the NFC South is going to be as tough as always to win and a victory at home this week is vital. Getting that field goal advantage on the line is great, because it allows you some breathing room to earn a push if they do win by just three. The bet: $5 for total payout of $10.

49ers vs. Chiefs UNDER 57 points

You might look at this and scratch your head as the Chiefs just played in a game against the Steelers that reached 79 total points last week. Meanwhile, the 49ers reached a total of exactly 57 in their 30-27 win over the Lions on Sunday. San Francisco’s defense is nothing to write home about, but they have an extra week of film on rookie QB Patrick Mahomes that may take him down a notch. Kansas City’s defense is also pretty stout; they gave up a ton of points to the Steelers, because Pittsburgh was playing catch up and K.C. was playing bend-don’t-break defense.

You’d expect this game to be close, although through two games, I’m still not sure how good either of these two teams is. The Chiefs are at home, so you probably give them the nod in the game, but this has the feel of a 24-17 game, which leaves us 16 points beneath the under with plenty of wiggle room in case the game is a little more offensive than anticipated. This looks like the biggest lock of the week. The bet: $6 for total payout of $11.45.

Bonus picks: A couple other picks I like this week, but am not confident enough in to officially include in the column are: Colts +6.5 at Eagles (-110) and Jets-Browns over 39.5 (-110). Indy has looked good through two games and are visiting an Eagles team coming off a road loss to the Buccaneers. Carson Wentz is back under center for Philly, but how effective will he be? That’s a legitimate question mark and enough to make you consider taking the Colts as almost a touchdown dog. If that line moves up to +7 jump all over it.

In the Jets-Browns game, there’s plenty of reason not to bet. Reason No. 1 would be that you have to watch the game. After that, though, there’s actually plenty of reason to bet this over. Let’s say we anticipate a close game: 23-20 or 27-20 is entirely within the realm of possibility. Each of those types of scores would get us our over. We do run the risk that one of these offenses lays a complete egg, but with an over/under so low, it’s hard to resist taking the over. Plus, that will give you something to root for in an otherwise forgettable Thursday Night game.

Jacob Kornhauser is a sports reporter in Southern Oregon covering all sports, including Oregon and Oregon State athletics. He has been a national baseball writer for Bleacher Report and Rant Sports and has written two baseball books. He also specializes in sports betting analysis. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri Journalism School.

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Washington, D.C. Councilman Introduces Sports Betting Bill

The post Washington, D.C. Councilman Introduces Sports Betting Bill appeared first on SportsHandle.

Against a backdrop of U.S. Congressmen proposing the idea of a federal framework for sports betting, a District of Columbia city council member has introduced a bill that would allow sports betting in the nation’s capitol. According to

The post Washington, D.C. Councilman Introduces Sports Betting Bill appeared first on SportsHandle.

Against a backdrop of U.S. Congressmen proposing the idea of a federal framework for sports betting, a District of Columbia city council member has introduced a bill that would allow sports betting in the nation’s capitol. According to the Washington Post, Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) introduced legislation that he says he is co-authoring with Democratic mayor Muriel E. Bowser and Democratic city councilman Phil Mendelson.

The bill has been referred to the Finance and Revenue Committee, of which Evans is the chairman. (Read the bill here.) The District is in a unique situation in that is it essentially a city-state and the 13-member City Council makes law in D.C.  Given the relatively small number of lawmakers, the process is more nimble than in a larger state governments. However, laws passed by the Council are subject to Congressional approval.

Should the District of Columbia legalize sports betting, it would be the first in the immediate region to do so. Maryland is very much a gaming state but did not pass sports betting legislation in 2018 that would have put the matter of legalization to voter referendum. The closest states with legal sports betting are Delaware — the first in the nation to roll out sports betting post-PASPA — and West Virginia, which took its first sports bet in late August.

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FANTASY PLAYS: Saints-Falcons, SF-KC stacks for Week 3

Week 2 was another high scoring slate in the NFL and another week when daily fantasy sports contests were won by rostering the passing attack from just a handful of games.

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw for 300-plus yards and six touchdowns in a 42-27 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, including two scores to tight

Week 2 was another high scoring slate in the NFL and another week when daily fantasy sports contests were won by rostering the passing attack from just a handful of games.

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw for 300-plus yards and six touchdowns in a 42-27 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, including two scores to tight end Travis Kelce. Behind early and forced to play catch-up, Ben Roethlisberger aired it out 60 times, leading to a 450-yard performance to go along with three passing and one rushing touchdown. Wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster and TE Jesse James both cracked the 100-yard threshold and found the end zone.

In total there were more than 180 fantasy points scored in the Chiefs-Steelers game. Meanwhile at Lambeau Field, Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins connected with WRs Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen for 90 combined fantasy points.

Game stacks have been pivotal to winning daily tournaments this year. The Bucs-Saints shootout in Week 1 and the Chiefs-Steelers shootout for Week 2 both led to millions in prizes.

Here are game stacks to target for Week 3:

New Orleans at Atlanta (Over-under: 53, Falcons favored by 3 points)

The Falcons-Saints game has the second-highest Vegas total this week. Matt Ryan and the Falcons host Drew Brees and company in a game that could make a perfect game stack opportunity with the duo of Ryan and Julio Jones plus New Orleans running back Alvin Kamara. Jones has been targeted 28 times to start the season for nearly 500 air yards, a metric that balances target volume with the depth of those targets. Jones has a 40 percent market share of the Falcons passing attack. On the flip side, Alvin Kamara gets to face a Falcons defense that funnels targets to opposing running backs and gave up 14 catches for 100-plus yards to Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey last weekend. Kamara has 18 targets through the first two weeks and is in a prime spot to make a fantasy splash if the game in Atlanta turns into a shootout. Fantasy owners who are building multiple lineups could also consider mixing in Saints WR Michael Thomas and Falcons WR Mohamed Sanu to their stacks.

San Francisco at Kansas City (Over-under: 56, Chiefs favored by 6 1/2 points)

While a lot of the attention will be on Patrick Mahomes this week because of his 10 TDs through two games, winning daily fantasy tournaments requires separation from the crowd.

Jimmy Garoppolo is in a bounce-back spot against a Chiefs defense that has allowed more than 1,000 yards per game of total offense and given up more than 400 yards passing in back-to-back games. While the Chiefs defense should benefit from a home game at Arrowhead, Garoppolo is still in great position to throw for 300 yards and multiple touchdowns and will look to connect with his favorite target as Marquise Goodwin hopefully returns to the 49ers lineup. Garoppolo-Goodwin stacks can also be mixed with 49ers tight end George Kittle — who could be lower owned after disappointing players as a popular pick last week. He will return value for fantasy owners if he can even replicate half of Jesse James’ stat line from last week. Chiefs players Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce and Sammy Watkins are all candidates to “bring it back” and should be inserted into your lineups to make a full-on game stack.

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This column was provided to The Associated Press by DailyRoto, http://dailyroto.com

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NFL Week 3: Over and Under Best Bets

 

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we're making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we're offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over of the week: Indianapolis Colts

 

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we’re making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we’re offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over of the week: Indianapolis Colts at Philadelphia Eagles

Total: 47.5

This total is well below 50 because the Indianapolis defense is coming off a shockingly strong performance against the Washington Redskins, while the Eagles have yet to score more than 21 points this season. But the reality is the Colts defense is much more like the unit that surrendered 34 points on the road against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 1, and the Philadelphia offense is due for a breakout performance. 

Look for an angry Eagles team to bounce back from a tough loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with a big number in quarterback Carson Wentz’s return to action. And on the other side of the ball, look for Andrew Luck, T.Y. Hilton and Co. to exploit a Philly D that struggled immensely in Tampa. 

There’s a chance the Eagles run away with this at home, but even that would probably enable Indy to rack up some garbage-time points.

Philly should hit the 30 mark, while the Colts should be able to score at least 20 points here.

Predicted score: Eagles 34, Colts 21

Under of the week: Los Angeles Chargers at Los Angeles Rams

Total: 48

It’s not as though both of these offenses aren’t capable of scoring 30-plus points Sunday in the Battle of L.A., but it’s that both the Chargers and Rams look fantastic on the defensive side of the ball. 

A little too fantastic for that total of 48. 

With Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh dominating up front, the new-look Rams defense hasn’t surrendered a point in the last six quarters. Meanwhile, it’s obvious the Chargers can now be forgiven for surrendered 38 points to the out-of-control Kansas City Chiefs in their opener, because they smothered the Buffalo Bills offense on the road in Week 2, holding them to just 13 points before garbage time. 

The Bolts might still give up 24 here, but that strong secondary won’t be embarrassed again. They’ll stick around on offense, but they aren’t likely finding the end zone more than three times against Donald, Suh and Co. 

Predicted score: Rams 24, Chargers 18

Good luck, we’re all counting on you. 

Previous results
Last week: 1-1
2018 season: 2-2

Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL since 2007 and is a member of the Professional Football Writers of America, despite the fact he actually lives in Canada. The Toronto-based sports journalist’s work can also be seen at Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, Awful Announcing and The Guardian. He can be found on Twitter @brad_gagnon

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Examining The FanDuel Sportsbook Ticketing Snafu Through The Eyes of Nevada

The post Examining The FanDuel Sportsbook Ticketing Snafu Through The Eyes of Nevada appeared first on SportsHandle.

Sports bettors in emerging markets are continuing to discover some of the vagaries of sporting wagering. Among them are situations when an “accepted” bet may not always be a bet, and what happens

The post Examining The FanDuel Sportsbook Ticketing Snafu Through The Eyes of Nevada appeared first on SportsHandle.

Sports bettors in emerging markets are continuing to discover some of the vagaries of sporting wagering. Among them are situations when an “accepted” bet may not always be a bet, and what happens to a “wins/losses” totals bet if a team ends up with a postponed game that’s not rescheduled.

FanDuel Sportsbook, operating at The Meadowlands Racetrack, has refused to honor a $110 live betting ticket on the Broncos to defeat the Raiders on Sunday — a wager that would have paid more than $82,000. The company says the extremely large odds on the bet were caused by an error in the oddsmaking process. “The wager in question involved an obvious pricing error inadvertently generated by our in-game pricing system,” a FanDuel spokesperson said in a statement. 

The bettor, who identified himself to News 12 New Jersey as Anthony Prince, made his wager over the counter at the sportsbook at the Meadowlands with Denver trailing the Raiders 19-17 late in the fourth quarter. The Broncos then arrived comfortably in field goal range, especially given the high altitude in Denver, when Broncos QB Case Keenum completed a pass down to Oakland 18-yard line. However, as FanDuel updated the live betting odds to reflect Denver as a -600 favorite the company says an error in the live-odds feed caused the Broncos to be posted as 750-1 (+75,000) underdogs to win the game. 

 

Read more Examining The FanDuel Sportsbook Ticketing Snafu Through The Eyes of Nevada on SportsHandle.

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NFL Week 2 Stat Recap Table: QB, RB and WR

Ben Roethlisberger threw for 452 yards and 3 TDs on Sunday - and ended up as the second-best QB on the field. Patrick Mahomes tossed for 326 YDS and 6 TDs.
Other notable performances:

  • Todd Gurley and AJ Green produce 3 touchdowns each
  • Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs combine for 259 YDs

Ben Roethlisberger threw for 452 yards and 3 TDs on Sunday – and ended up as the second-best QB on the field. Patrick Mahomes tossed for 326 YDS and 6 TDs.
Other notable performances:

  • Todd Gurley and AJ Green produce 3 touchdowns each
  • Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs combine for 259 YDs and 3 TDs
  • New Orleans WR Michael Thomas had 12 catches for 89 YDs and 2 TDs
  • Blake Bortles threw for 377 YDs and 4 TDs


This weeks odds and lines

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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Bengals down to Giovani Bernard as experienced running back

CINCINNATI (AP) — The Bengals are down to Giovani Bernard as their only experienced running back who knows their offense.

Joe Mixon had surgery to remove torn knee cartilage and will be out for a few games, leaving the Bengals (2-0) with Bernard and Tra Carson as their experienced running backs at Carolina (1-1) on

CINCINNATI (AP) — The Bengals are down to Giovani Bernard as their only experienced running back who knows their offense.

Joe Mixon had surgery to remove torn knee cartilage and will be out for a few games, leaving the Bengals (2-0) with Bernard and Tra Carson as their experienced running backs at Carolina (1-1) on Sunday.

Carson got hurt in practice on Monday and was waived on Wednesday. The Bengals signed former Seattle running back Thomas Rawls, who was with the Jets in preseason and was released in their final cuts. They also have rookie Mark Walton, a fourth-round pick.

Center Billy Price and defensive end Michael Johnson also are recovering from injuries during a 34-23 win over the Ravens on Thursday night.

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Vikings re-sign DT Tom Johnson for more depth

EAGAN, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota Vikings have signed defensive tackle Tom Johnson, bringing back one of their starters last season for more depth up front.

Johnson's contract was finalized Wednesday, when the Vikings waived defensive tackle David Parry to make room. Johnson was a key offseason addition in free agency by Seattle, but the

EAGAN, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota Vikings have signed defensive tackle Tom Johnson, bringing back one of their starters last season for more depth up front.

Johnson’s contract was finalized Wednesday, when the Vikings waived defensive tackle David Parry to make room. Johnson was a key offseason addition in free agency by Seattle, but the Seahawks surprisingly released him last week to promote safety Shalom Luani from their practice squad. Luani did not play in their last game.

The Seahawks hoped to re-sign Johnson, but the Vikings swooped in to snag a player who had 16 sacks and started 27 games for them over the last four years. Johnson will back up Sheldon Richardson, who played for the Seahawks last season.

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Sports Betting And Injuries In College Football: Separating Good Information From Noise

The post Sports Betting And Injuries In College Football: Separating Good Information From Noise appeared first on SportsHandle.

Many serious college and professional football bettors have long believed that it’s imperative to consider injuries before pushing the cash across the counter or hitting the “make bet” button on the phone

The post Sports Betting And Injuries In College Football: Separating Good Information From Noise appeared first on SportsHandle.

Many serious college and professional football bettors have long believed that it’s imperative to consider injuries before pushing the cash across the counter or hitting the “make bet” button on the phone app or computer. Others believe bookmakers have built injuries into the offered betting lines, rendering monitoring of injuries a waste of time and effort.

Although injury information can sometimes be sparse or inaccurate, perhaps attributable to coaching gamesmanship, lots of experienced bettors believe when money is at stake, you’d better pay attention.

Right now in collegiate athletics, there is no conference that provides injury information on its players, in part due to concerns over privacy laws. However in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling in May striking down the federal ban on full-fledged sports wagering outside Nevada, numerous coaches and NCAA athletic directors in major and minor conferences have signaled a tide turn and the possible if not likely future sharing of injury reports.

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Eagles bring back receiver Jordan Matthews

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Philadelphia Eagles have signed wide receiver Jordan Matthews and placed Mike Wallace on injured reserve.

Matthews played his first three seasons with the Eagles before he was traded to Buffalo in August 2017. He signed with the Patriots in April but was released during training camp.

A 2014 second-round pick from

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Philadelphia Eagles have signed wide receiver Jordan Matthews and placed Mike Wallace on injured reserve.

Matthews played his first three seasons with the Eagles before he was traded to Buffalo in August 2017. He signed with the Patriots in April but was released during training camp.

A 2014 second-round pick from Vanderbilt, Matthews averaged 75 receptions, 891 yards and six touchdowns per season in Philadelphia. He had 25 catches for 282 yards and one TD in 10 games for Buffalo.

The Eagles (1-1) are missing top receiver Alshon Jeffery following offseason shoulder surgery. Mack Hollins and now Wallace are on IR.

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Book: Brady mulled 2018 ‘divorce’ from Belichick

Book: Brady mulled 2018 'divorce' from Belichick

A new book about New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick gives the latest glimpse into his allegedly rocky relationship with star quarterback Tom Brady.

According to "Belichick: The Making of the Greatest Football Coach of All Time," by ESPN writer Ian O'Connor,

Book: Brady mulled 2018 ‘divorce’ from Belichick

A new book about New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick gives the latest glimpse into his allegedly rocky relationship with star quarterback Tom Brady.

According to “Belichick: The Making of the Greatest Football Coach of All Time,” by ESPN writer Ian O’Connor, Brady had a tough time deciding whether to return to the Patriots this season.

“If you’re married 18 years to a grouchy person who gets under your skin and never compliments you, after a while you want to divorce him,” a source told O’Connor after the 2017 season. “Tom knows Bill is the best coach in the league, but he’s had enough of him. If Tom could, I think he would divorce him.”

Late last season, multiple media outlets reported about a rift between Brady and Belichick, reportedly over the team’s treatment of Brady’s personal trainer, Alex Guerrero. The Patriots reportedly banned Guerrero from the sideline, took away his office at Gillette Stadium and no longer allowed him to fly with the team.

Guerrero reportedly has been back in the team’s good graces this season.

O’Connor wrote of Brady’s offseason decision-making, “But in the end, even if he wanted to, Brady could not walk away from the game, and he could not ask for a trade. The moment Belichick moved (Jimmy) Garoppolo to San Francisco, and banked on Brady’s oft-stated desire to play at least into his mid-forties, was the moment Brady was virtually locked into suiting up next season and beyond. Had he retired or requested a trade, he would have risked turning an adoring New England public into an angry mob.”

The book also alleges that Brady was unhappy about Belichick’s response to the Deflategate scandal.

A close friend of Brady told O’Connor, “I thought Bill handled it terribly, especially when it involved a guy who’d done everything to help your career as a coach, and you hung him out to dry.”

Belichick, 66, had a 36-44 record in five seasons as the Cleveland Browns coach before starting his legendary run in New England. Since taking over in Foxborough in 2000, he has a 215-75 regular-season mark with the Patriots.

He and Brady have reached eight Super Bowls, winning five championships.

–Field Level Media

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Falcons G Levitre (triceps) out for season, 3rd player down

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — The Atlanta Falcons have lost offensive guard Andy Levitre to a season-ending triceps injury, the third starter to go down in the first two weeks of the season.

Levitre left Sunday's victory over the Carolina Panthers with what was initially described as an elbow injury. After further examination, it was

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — The Atlanta Falcons have lost offensive guard Andy Levitre to a season-ending triceps injury, the third starter to go down in the first two weeks of the season.

Levitre left Sunday’s victory over the Carolina Panthers with what was initially described as an elbow injury. After further examination, it was determined that he’s done for the year because of a triceps problem.

Wes Schweitzer will take over for Levitre’s spot in the starting lineup. The Falcons (1-1) also signed guard Zac Kerin to bolster the depth up front.

Levitre’s injury comes after defensive stalwart’s Keanu Neal and Deion Jones went down in a Week 1 loss to Philadelphia. Neal (knee) is out for the year, while Jones (foot) will have to miss at least eight games, though the Falcons are hopeful that he’ll be able to return late in the season.

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Cowboys re-sign veteran WR Butler after camp with Cards

FRISCO, Texas (AP) — The Cowboys have re-signed veteran receiver Brice Butler, who had left Dallas in free agency last spring but was released by the Arizona Cardinals before the season.

Dallas released rookie safety Tyree Robinson on Tuesday to make room on its roster

FRISCO, Texas (AP) — The Cowboys have re-signed veteran receiver Brice Butler, who had left Dallas in free agency last spring but was released by the Arizona Cardinals before the season.

Dallas released rookie safety Tyree Robinson on Tuesday to make room on its roster for Butler.

Butler in April signed a two-year deal with Arizona after playing in 36 games for Dallas the past three seasons. He was listed as the No. 2 receiver behind Larry Fitzgerald for much of the Cardinals’ camp, but was also slowed by a foot injury and part of the final cuts to get their roster to 53 players.

In 61 games over five NFL seasons, Butler has 73 catches for 1,177 yards and eight touchdowns. He was picked by Oakland in the seventh round of the 2013 draft and spent two seasons with the Raiders before going to Dallas.

Dallas also released defensive tackle Aziz Shittu from the practice squad, and signed defensive tackle Adolphus Washington to the practice squad.

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Rams, Jaguars take top 2 spots in latest AP Pro32 poll

NEW YORK (AP) — And the winner is .... the Los Angeles Rams.

The Rams, who have looked dominant in the first two weeks of the regular season, have grabbed the top spot from the New England Patriots in the latest AP Pro32 poll on Tuesday.

The Rams received nine of the 12 first-place votes

NEW YORK (AP) — And the winner is …. the Los Angeles Rams.

The Rams, who have looked dominant in the first two weeks of the regular season, have grabbed the top spot from the New England Patriots in the latest AP Pro32 poll on Tuesday.

The Rams received nine of the 12 first-place votes and 380 points in balloting by media members who regularly cover the NFL.

The Rams are coming off a 34-0 rout of the listless Arizona Cardinals and will host the Chargers at the Coliseum on Sunday in an All-LA matchup.

“(Coach) Sean McVay rested most of his starters in the preseason, but the Rams already look like they’re in midseason form after another dominating win, albeit over a woeful Cardinals team,” Newsday’s Bob Glauber said.

The Jacksonville Jaguars earned the remaining three first-place votes for 375 points. The Jaguars moved up three spots after their impressive 31-20 win over the Patriots, who fell to No. 5.

“At least for now, the AFC’s early season torch has been passed to the Jaguars after last Sunday’s thumping of New England,” said Alex Marvez of The Sporting News.

The Minnesota Vikings stayed at No. 3 after rallying to tie the rival Green Bay Packers 29-29 at Lambeau Field.

“The Vikings got better when they signed (kicker) Dan Bailey,” said Charean Williams of Pro Football Talk.

Bailey was signed after the Vikings waived Daniel Carlson following his missed three field-goal attempts. The fifth-round draft pick from Auburn missed field goals of 48, 49 and 35 yards, with the last two failed tries coming in overtime.

The Packers also kept their spot at No. 6 after the league’s second consecutive week with a tie.

Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs, who are off to a 2-0 start, moved up three places to No. 4.

Mahomes had six touchdown passes for the Chiefs, who are coming off a 42-37 victory over Pittsburgh and will face the San Francisco 49ers in their home opener on Sunday.

“The thrilling Pat Mahomes Show is covering up some serious defensive deficiencies at the moment,” said Ira Kaufman of Fox 13 in Tampa, Florida.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, led by a resurgent Ryan Fitzpatrick, vaulted seven spots to No. 8 after topping the Philadelphia Eagles 27-21.

The Buccaneers will face another challenge when they host the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night.

“Need to beat Steelers now,” Fox Sports’ John Czarnecki said of the Bucs.

The Eagles, who will get back quarterback Carson Wentz following his knee injury when they host the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, dropped five spots to No. 7.

The Atlanta Falcons inched up a spot to No. 9 after earning their first win of the season with a 31-24 victory over the Carolina Panthers.

And the surprising Cincinnati Bengals rounded out the top 10 after topping Baltimore 34-23. The Bengals will be without running Joe Mixon for a few weeks following his knee surgery. They will face the Panthers and Falcons on the road in the next two weeks.

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Fast track: Browns speedy WR Callaway to fill Gordon’s role

 

BEREA, Ohio (AP) — With Josh Gordon long gone after he and his baggage were jettisoned to the Patriots, the Browns need another dynamic playmaker to stretch the field.

Antonio Callaway had better be ready.

"He ain't got no choice," Browns receiver Jarvis Landry said with

 

BEREA, Ohio (AP) — With Josh Gordon long gone after he and his baggage were jettisoned to the Patriots, the Browns need another dynamic playmaker to stretch the field.

Antonio Callaway had better be ready.

“He ain’t got no choice,” Browns receiver Jarvis Landry said with a smile.

Perhaps Cleveland’s fastest player, Callaway is literally learning on the fly. The speedy 21-year-old, who had a checkered college career at Florida and would have been a first-round pick if not for non-football issues, is expected to have an expanded role going forward for the Browns (0-1-1).

This is Callaway’s latest chance, and he’s planning to make the most it.

“It’s the National Football League,” he said following a walk-through as the Browns prepared for Thursday night’s game against the New York Jets. “So I’ve got to step up.”

Callaway did just that last Sunday in New Orleans while filling in for Gordon, who was left home after he betrayed Cleveland’s trust for the last time. Callaway made three catches for 81 yards and scored his first pro touchdown when he hauled in Tyrod Taylor’s soaring 47-yard pass with 1:16 remaining.

On fourth-and-5, Browns offensive coordinator Todd Haley and Taylor rolled the dice with the daring, deep pass that looked for a moment to be overthrown.

“I thought he was throwing it to me and I was like, ‘Damn, this is too far,'” said Landry, who was running a pattern down the middle of the field to Callaway’s left. “And then I peeked outside and I saw Callaway. And then I saw him put his head down and dig again, and he made the catch. That was definitely another gear.”

Browns coach Hue Jackson said he’s watched at least five replays of Callaway’s sprint and fingertip grab.

“When he threw it, I thought, ‘Oh my,'” Jackson said. “I did not think we could get to it to be honest with you. All of a sudden, I see this guy go vroom and he runs right under the ball. What a play.”

Callaway may have to make more big plays if the Browns intend to end their 19-game winless streak dating to 2016. He was always in the team’s plans for his first season, but Gordon’s departure has accelerated everything for a player who at times has run too fast off the field.

While at Florida, Callaway struggled to stay out of trouble. He was investigated on a sexual assault charge that was later dropped, got cited for misdemeanor possession of marijuana charge and then was dropped from the Gators team for his involvement in a credit card scheme.

Callaway failed a drug test when he provided a diluted sample at the NFL Combine in February, further damaging his chances to be drafted early.

Still, the Browns felt comfortable enough to select him with the No. 105 overall pick, and they had no reason to second-guess their decision until Callaway was ticketed for driving on a suspended license and police found a small amount of marijuana and gun parts in his car during a traffic stop in August.

But Callaway has been on the straight and narrow since, and Jackson has been pleased with his progress.

“He’s making strides,” Jackson said. “We were not trying got push him too fast, not give him too much, too fast. Now, he has to take it all. It’s time. I think that he will do well. He has always competed hard, and he always works at it. It is another step for him. This Thursday night will be good for him.”

So was the TD catch on a perfectly thrown ball by Taylor, a play that became a footnote in another painful loss for the Browns.

Landry, though, said it can change Callaway.

“It does everything,” he said. “It does a lot, obviously, for the guys around him, but it does a lot for the coaches and it does a lot for 5 (Taylor). And that’s something as an offense we need, so it’s awesome.”

NOTES: Starting DE Emmanuel Ogbah will miss his second game Thursday with a sprained left ankle. … RB Duke Johnson has just 11 touches in two games, and Jackson said that’s not nearly enough for one of the team’s best offensive players. “Duke is a tremendous player,” Jackson said. “We have got to put him in position to make an impact, because he can. We will continue to look at different ways of getting him involved, but we will. We will get Duke going.” … New rookie K Greg Joseph was still meeting teammates after being signed Monday following a tryout. The Browns cut Zane Gonzalez after he missed four kicks in Sunday’s loss. If he stays around, Joseph, who played at Florida Atlantic, could be kicking in frigid conditions in Cleveland. He faced some inclement weather in college at Western Kentucky and Middle Tennessee. “I don’t know the temperature, but there wasn’t any palm trees and the sun wasn’t shining,” he said.

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Carroll: Wilson trying too hard during Seahawks’ 0-2 start

RENTON, Wash. (AP) — Pete Carroll believes Russell Wilson is trying too hard to create opportunities during Seattle's winless start and in the process is making the kinds of fourth-quarter mistakes that have largely been absent during his career.

"I'm finding Russ over-trying a little bit,"

RENTON, Wash. (AP) — Pete Carroll believes Russell Wilson is trying too hard to create opportunities during Seattle’s winless start and in the process is making the kinds of fourth-quarter mistakes that have largely been absent during his career.

“I’m finding Russ over-trying a little bit,” Carroll said during his radio show on KIRO-AM in Seattle on Tuesday, a day after the Seahawks dropped to 0-2 with a 24-17 loss at Chicago. “He’s pressing in difficult situations to try and see if he can come up with a way to make something happen instead of just getting rid of the football.”

The latest example came in front of a national audience Monday night. With a chance to lead a potential late comeback against the Bears, Wilson threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown. He fumbled on Seattle’s next drive while trying to escape pressure. They were the kinds of costly mistakes Wilson has mostly avoided in the past.

Wilson’s final numbers in the fourth quarter against the Bears looked great — 13 of 16 for 157 yards, two touchdowns and two of the incompletions being spikes to stop the clock — but it was completely overshadowed by the mistakes.

“We’ve had a lot of fourth-quarter comebacks and I believe those are going to happen. I believe those are going to happen when we need them to happen,” Wilson said afterward. “We’ve been successful a lot and I’ve been successful a lot in the fourth quarters and everything else. You have some failure every once in a while, but I believe the next time is going to be successful and I think that’s the mentality.”

It would help Wilson if Seattle’s offense could do anything in the first three quarters to reduce the late-game pressure and urgency.

Wilson was sacked five times in the first half by the Bears, a few of those after he didn’t get rid of the ball soon enough. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer also had some questionable play calling in the third quarter when the Seahawks ran just six plays, had zero first downs and gained one yard total.

There was also the baffling disappearance of running back Chris Carson from the offense. Carson didn’t have a carry in the second half after averaging 4 yards per carry on six attempts in the first half. The running load went to rookie Rashaad Penny in the second half as Carson watched from the sideline.

Carroll initially said after the game that Carson was “a little gassed” after also helping out on special teams. Carson was in for just 21 total plays — 19 on offense, two on special teams. Carroll attempted to clarify the situation Tuesday.

“I misread a little bit of something happening. I was off on the thing I said about Chris. … I thought that was what happened and I misread him on the sideline a little bit,” Carroll said. “I didn’t clearly understand. I just wanted to give Rashaad a chance to go play and Chris never gets back in the game.”

The Seahawks are now 1-5 in their past six regular-season games dating to last season, the only win coming against this week’s opponent, Dallas, in Week 16 of last season. Seattle at least has that going for it, along with some optimism over healing injuries.

The Seahawks are hoping to get linebackers Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright back this week against the Cowboys. Wagner was out with a groin injury and Wright still hasn’t fully recovered from preseason knee surgery. They were two of three defensive starters the Seahawks were missing, including rookie cornerback Tre Flowers, who has a shot at returning against Dallas as well.

But aside from getting a minimal pass rush, the defensive effort wasn’t the problem against Chicago.

Wide receiver Doug Baldwin, who could help the offense, sounds unlikely to be ready for Week 3 due to a knee injury.

There is also uncertainty about center Justin Britt, who injured his shoulder trying to recover Wilson’s fumble in the fourth quarter. X-rays were negative, Carroll said, but Britt was having an MRI to determine the extent of the damage.

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Titans bring back Durden, promote running back to roster

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans have brought back cornerback Kenneth Durden and promoted running back Dalyn Dawkins to the roster from the practice squad.

The Titans waived linebacker Aaron Wallace on Tuesday to create a roster spot.

They also signed a trio to the

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans have brought back cornerback Kenneth Durden and promoted running back Dalyn Dawkins to the roster from the practice squad.

The Titans waived linebacker Aaron Wallace on Tuesday to create a roster spot.

They also signed a trio to the practice squad and removed tight end Jerome Cunningham from the practice squad. The practice squad additions include defensive lineman Darius Kilgo who has spent time with Denver, New England, Jacksonville and Houston since the Broncos drafted him in the sixth round in 2015. They also brought back tight end Anthony Firsker and wide receiver Cameron Batson a day after they were released from the roster.

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Chargers’ Liuget sues trainer over 4-game suspension

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles Chargers defensive tackle Corey Liuget has sued the trainer who he says is responsible for his four-game suspension for using a performance-enhancing substance.

Liuget filed suit against Ian Danney and his Arizona-based business in Los Angeles, asking for a jury

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles Chargers defensive tackle Corey Liuget has sued the trainer who he says is responsible for his four-game suspension for using a performance-enhancing substance.

Liuget filed suit against Ian Danney and his Arizona-based business in Los Angeles, asking for a jury trial and no less than $15 million in damages.

Liuget says in the suit that Danney injected him with a substance banned by the FDA and the NFL. He also says Danney gave him another product that required a prescription which Liuget did not have.

A message left with Danney’s office was not returned Tuesday.

Liuget, who is in his seventh year in the NFL, said in a statement sent through his attorney that he is filing suit because the suspension has compromised his ability to be a leader in the community and that he wants to set the record straight.

Liuget is eligible to return to the Chargers after their Sept. 30 game against the San Francisco 49ers.

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Bills promote cornerback Ryan Lewis off practice squad

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — The Buffalo Bills have signed cornerback Ryan Lewis off their practice squad to address a position depleted after Vontae Davis abruptly left the team last weekend.

The Bills initially claimed Lewis off waivers on Sept. 2 after he spent last season

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — The Buffalo Bills have signed cornerback Ryan Lewis off their practice squad to address a position depleted after Vontae Davis abruptly left the team last weekend.

The Bills initially claimed Lewis off waivers on Sept. 2 after he spent last season on the New England Patriots practice squad. The Bills cut Lewis on Sept. 12 before re-signing him to their practice squad a day later.

Davis quit the Bills during halftime of their 31-20 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday, and then announced he was retiring a few hours later.

Injuries have also affected the position with the uncertain status of Phillip Gaines and Taron Johnson for Buffalo’s game at Minnesota on Sunday. Gaines dislocated his left elbow against the Chargers, while Gaines has missed one game with a shoulder injury.

The Bills also signed cornerback Michael Hunter and receiver Hunter Sharp to their practice squad.

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Vikings sign ex-Cowboys kicker Bailey after cutting rookie

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Vikings have signed kicker Dan Bailey, owner of the second-best field goal percentage in NFL history and replacement for rookie Daniel Carlson.

Bailey's deal was done Tuesday, after the Vikings waived Carlson fresh from his 0-for-3 game at Green Bay. The

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Vikings have signed kicker Dan Bailey, owner of the second-best field goal percentage in NFL history and replacement for rookie Daniel Carlson.

Bailey’s deal was done Tuesday, after the Vikings waived Carlson fresh from his 0-for-3 game at Green Bay. The fifth-round draft pick from Auburn missed field goals of 48, 49 and 35 yards, with the last two failed tries coming in overtime and forcing the Vikings to settle for a 29-29 tie with the Packers.

Bailey has made 186 of 211 field-goal attempts, an accuracy greater than 88 percent that trails only Baltimore’s Justin Tucker. The 30-year-old Bailey slumped last season after a groin injury that kept him out for four games.

To make room for Bailey, the Vikings waived wide receiver Stacy Coley.

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William Hill Becomes ‘Official Partner’ of Vegas Golden Knights, First Deal of Its Kind

The post William Hill Becomes ‘Official Partner’ of Vegas Golden Knights, First Deal of Its Kind appeared first on SportsHandle.

The Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday notched yet another “first.”

In 2017 the Golden Knights became the first of the four major professional U.S. sports leagues to officially make Las Vegas

The post William Hill Becomes ‘Official Partner’ of Vegas Golden Knights, First Deal of Its Kind appeared first on SportsHandle.

The Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday notched yet another “first.”

In 2017 the Golden Knights became the first of the four major professional U.S. sports leagues to officially make Las Vegas their home and in June, it became the NHL’s first expansion team since 1968 to reach the Stanley Cup Finals (in vastly different circumstances), ultimately falling to the Washington Capitals 4-1.

This newest first involves the newest NHL franchise joining with bookmaker William Hill US — in a “landmark, multi-year partnership” the first-ever between a professional U.S. sports team and a sportsbook.

Read more William Hill Becomes ‘Official Partner’ of Vegas Golden Knights, First Deal of Its Kind on SportsHandle.

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New coaches get off to rough starts in 2018

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) — Jon Gruden was welcomed back to Oakland as a returning hero when he got hired for his second stint as coach of the Raiders.

There was a party he hosted for fans at a local sports bar, loud ovations in the preseason

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) — Jon Gruden was welcomed back to Oakland as a returning hero when he got hired for his second stint as coach of the Raiders.

There was a party he hosted for fans at a local sports bar, loud ovations in the preseason and a heightened level of excitement that Gruden could get the Raiders back to being the consistent winner they were during his first stint that started two decades ago.

The reality has been far different after two weeks. Fans are frustrated by the trade of the team’s best player, Khalil Mack, the crowd booed at the end of a lopsided, season-opening loss, and an 0-2 start have raised questions about how long it will take to turn the Raiders into a winner.

“We’re going to keep building our football team. Whether that translates into one win or four wins or any wins, I’m not going to make any predictions,” Gruden said.

“I want to continue to play good, hardnose football. Keep improving. Keep improving and good things will happen. I’m not going to sit here and make any predictions about anything other than we’re going to play hard and provide the best effort we can.”

Gruden’s not alone when it comes to getting off to slow starts in a new tenure as coach. All seven new coaches lost on the opening weekend for the worst debut performance in NFL history for a new class of coaches.

There was some improvement in Week 2 as Indianapolis’ Frank Reich, Chicago’s Matt Nagy and Tennessee’s Mike Vrabel all got into the win column for the first time in their head coaching careers.

“It always helps to win,” Vrabel said. “When you’re trying to explain things to a team, or trying to get a message across, there has to be some tangible evidence to say, ‘Hey, when we do these things we give ourselves a chance to win.'”

The other three new coaches are in the same boat as Gruden, searching for that elusive first win and facing questions about whether they were the right choice for the job.

The New York Giants have looked listless on offense in their first two games under former Minnesota offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, scoring only one TD in the opener and not making it into the end zone until 1:27 remained in a 20-13 loss to Dallas this past week.

It’s the defense that’s been the problem in Detroit under former New England defensive coordinator Matt Patricia. The Lions have allowed 78 points in losses to the Jets and San Francisco, the third most in franchise history after two games.

“I certainly understand their frustration and we’re doing everything we can possible to make sure we get this turned around,” Patricia said of Detroit fans who have celebrated just one playoff win in the past 60 years.

“I expect to win every single week and go out and we work extremely hard to make sure we get that done, and we have to keep pushing forward.”

The Cardinals have been perhaps the worst team of all under Steve Wilks, getting outscored 58-6 the first two weeks against Washington and the Rams and failing even to cross midfield until the next-to-last play of the game in Sunday’s 34-0 drubbing against Los Angeles.

There are already questions about coordinator Mike McCoy’s status in Arizona and about when rookie quarterback Josh Rosen should take over from Sam Bradford.

“We all need to look in the mirror and check ourselves and figure out, ‘What can I do to help this team win games?'” Wilks said.

“I don’t think your actual long-term vision changes and your expectations, but you have to be able to adapt in this league. We’re looking to make changes. We’re looking to make this thing better and make it right.

“So, to say that we’re satisfied, (to say that) I’m satisfied to where we are right now not scoring a touchdown in two games and having a lack of production on the offensive side of the ball, no. We’ve got to make some changes.”

One of the problems for these new coaches is the reason they were hired in the first place was that something was wrong with their franchises. The Titans are the only one of the seven teams to make the playoffs in 2017 and the Lions are the only other that had a winning record.

The Cardinals are in a major transition after the retirement of coach Bruce Arians and quarterback Carson Palmer, while the Raiders, Giants and Colts combined for just 13 wins a year ago.

With those recent struggles and coaches who are bringing in new assistants and systems, there is also the usual roster turnover that comes with a new regime.

Implementing that is even harder now than it was in the past because of limited practice time in the offseason and a league-wide move to cut back on playing time for regulars in the exhibition season.

“Everybody’s learning, every week we’re going to learn and get better and make improvements. That’s what we have to do,” Giants quarterback Eli Manning said.

“When you have a new offense, new players, new guys coming in, there is a learning curve to it so we’ve just got to keep grinding and keep preparing and don’t get down. Have the desire to get better.

“If we all want that, we all have that, and we’ve got to make the improvements that the coaches are giving us, and that will give us a better opportunity to win the game.”

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AP Pro Football Writer Teresa Walker and AP Sports Writers Bob Baum, Tom Canavan and Noah Trister contributed to this report.

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NFL Kicker Jokes

 

Kicker Joke 1:

How can you tell who the kicker is on the field?

He’s the last guy the kick returner runs past on his way to a touchdown.

 

Yesterday was rough for the kickers of the NFL.  Zane Gonzalez had the worst of

 

Kicker Joke 1:

How can you tell who the kicker is on the field?

He’s the last guy the kick returner runs past on his way to a touchdown.

 

Yesterday was rough for the kickers of the NFL.  Zane Gonzalez had the worst of it missing two of his four attempts and both attempts at extra points. Zane will have to redeem himself with another team as the Browns signed their new kicker Greg Joseph today.

Saints kicker Wil Lutz missed a field goal try but redeemed himself by kicking the game-winner.

 

 

 

Everyone thought the Vikings were crazy trading up to pick Daniel Carlson in 2018 draft….. that’s right, they traded up for a kicker. He helped carry the team to a tie against the Packers, missing all three field goal attempts.

Kicker Joke 2:

In a strange turn of events, both Zach Gonzales of Cleveland and Daniel Carlson of Minnesota tried to hang themselves following their poor performances on Sunday, but neither could kick the chair out from beneath themselves.

 

 

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Heisman Trophy Winner Props: Updated through Week 3

Updated Heisman Trophy odds as we head into Week 4 of College Football. Tua Tagovailoa, Will Grier, Dwayne Haskins, and Jonathan Taylor keep the top 4 spots. JK Dobbins jumps up.

Note: Change column indicates the percentage change in the odds of each player. Positive change

Updated Heisman Trophy odds as we head into Week 4 of College Football. Tua Tagovailoa, Will Grier, Dwayne Haskins, and Jonathan Taylor keep the top 4 spots. JK Dobbins jumps up.

Note: Change column indicates the percentage change in the odds of each player. Positive change labeled in green means the player is getting bet and his odds are lower. Negative change in red means the player’s odds have regressed.



 

Odds provided by Westgate.

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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Super Bowl 53 Odds: Updated for Week 3

Key takeaways from week 2:

  • Rams and Jaguars Continue to Soar!
  • Patriots still top contender despite loss.
  • Florida is the place to be with Jaguars, Dolphins, and Bucs each off to 2-0 start.
  • Bills, Cardinals continue to struggle.
  • Giants, Lions, and Seahawks all 0-2 after tough openers.

{{CODE_SB_ODDS_AFTER_WEEK_2}}

Data courtesy of

Key takeaways from week 2:

  • Rams and Jaguars Continue to Soar!
  • Patriots still top contender despite loss.
  • Florida is the place to be with Jaguars, Dolphins, and Bucs each off to 2-0 start.
  • Bills, Cardinals continue to struggle.
  • Giants, Lions, and Seahawks all 0-2 after tough openers.


Data courtesy of 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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FANTASY PLAYS: Ivory, Clement potential pickups for Week 3

If you're searching for a difference-making player to boost your outlook after two weeks, you're unlikely to find that on the waiver wire this early in the season.

If you feel the need to shift after an 0-2 start, trading is likely the best route to

If you’re searching for a difference-making player to boost your outlook after two weeks, you’re unlikely to find that on the waiver wire this early in the season.

If you feel the need to shift after an 0-2 start, trading is likely the best route to improving your team. And that may be a challenge, because any disappointing players you own aren’t going to bring you the return you may want. But you should always be looking to improve your team, even if you are 2-0 and your roster seems set for now.

Building depth is important, especially with byes starting next week.

RUNNING BACKS

GIOVANI BERNARD, Cincinnati (39.5 percent owned): With Joe Mixon out two weeks or more after a knee procedure, Bernard will be the most popular pickup of the week. He has starting experience and versatility and can easily be plugged in if you lost Mixon. He is especially appealing in point-per-reception formats. Rookie Mark Walton should not cut into his playing time enough to be added in anything more than very deep leagues.

COREY CLEMENT, Philadelphia (22.6 percent): Darren Sproles s dealing with a hamstring injury and the Eagles receiving crew is looking very thin. Plus, with Jay Ajayi’s knees always a possible issue, Philadelphia cannot overwork him. Clement totaled 85 yards from scrimmage and scored on a 15-yard run in Week 2. He is an explosive dual threat who can receive flex consideration whenever he is pressed into more service.

CHRIS IVORY, Buffalo (3.2 percent): LeSean McCoy is dealing with rib issues, and you should certainly be rostering Ivory as insurance if you are a McCoy owner. Yes, the Bills offense is a complete mess, but if you have the room, you should always roster any potential starting RB available from the waiver wire, and Ivory could fit that description in the near future.

RONALD JONES, Tampa Bay (30 percent): You should grab him now while you easily can. Peyton Barber has averaged just 2.6 yards per carry in his first two games and Jacquizz Rodgers is too small to consistently handle a significant workload. Jones has been inactive during the first two games, but at some point soon, the Buccaneers will have to make their opponents respect their running game, and the rookie second-round pick remains their best option.

WIDE RECEIVERS

JOHN BROWN, Baltimore (24.1 percent): He started earning the favor of a seemingly rejuvenated Joe Flacco in the preseason and the new connection has produced touchdowns in each of Baltimore’s first two games. Brown also totaled 92 receiving yards in Week 2. Brown is looking healthy and Flacco has suddenly rediscovered his downfield touch.

TERRELLE PRYOR, New York Jets (2.7 percent): If nothing else, you should simply add Pryor for the “revenge game” against the Browns this Thursday. Pryor actually wanted to stay in Cleveland but was traded before last season. Pryor is also coming off an 84-yard outing in Week 2, and now that he is seemingly healthy again there is a chance he becomes a more integral part of the Jets passing game on a regular basis.

CALVIN RIDLEY, Atlanta (37 percent): A lot of fantasy owners dropped him after a quiet Week 1, but Ridley quickly reminded us all of his potential with a 64-yard performance with a TD in Week 2. Many rookies will not make an immediate impact this year, but Ridley may be the best WR of all the first-year pass catchers. He is a very promising big-play complement to Julio Jones and you should not leave him on the waiver list with a wait-and-see approach.

TYLER BOYD, Cincinnati (1.2 percent): He caught six balls for 91 yards and a TD in Week 2, and that performance may have indicated he is ahead of John Ross as Cincinnati’s second receiver. Boyd still has to prove he can produce consistently before you start him, but with Andy Dalton getting better protection this year Boyd does have the chance to become a more dependable Fantasy receiver.

TIGHT ENDS

WILL DISSLY, Seattle (24.4 percent): His 105-yard outing in the season opener at Denver seemed like it could have been a mirage, but Dissly received another five targets on Monday night at Chicago and scored again. His TD catch came in garbage time but it is apparent Russell Wilson will look for the rookie on key downs.

AUSTIN HOOPER, Atlanta (17.5 percent): Many tight ends take some time to get into the full flow of the pro game, and this could be the season when the third-year Falcon makes his true mark. Hooper caught five passes for 59 yards and a TD in Week 2 and he knows how to find soft spots in defenses and shield himself from defenders when making the important catch.

QUARTERBACKS

RYAN FITZPATRICK, Tampa Bay (31.7 percent): Many fantasy players did not believe what they saw from him in Week 1, then he dropped four more TD passes vs. the defending champion Eagles in Week 2. This up-and-down journeyman will come down from the sky at some point soon, but it’s not going to be in Week 3 against Pittsburgh. Fitzpatrick is ticketed for another shootout. You should start him for at least one week before you relegate him to QB2 status, dodging an impending collapse soon after his next game.

BLAKE BORTLES, Jacksonville (10.0 percent): His 377-yard, four TD outing against the Patriots could be a sign that Bortles has turned an important corner in his career. Or it could simply be a case of overachieving. Bortles still has to deliver more consistently to earn the trust of fantasy owners, but after his Week 2, you should at least roster him in case this is the beginning of a new chapter in a career filled with erratic play.

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NJ Man Says FanDuel Won’t Pay; Company Investigating

The post NJ Man Says FanDuel Won’t Pay; Company Investigating appeared first on SportsHandle.

A New Jersey man says he made a wager on Sunday at the FanDuel SportsBook at the Meadowlands Racetrack and that FanDuel won’t pay up. The bet, an in-game wager, would have paid $82,610 on

The post NJ Man Says FanDuel Won’t Pay; Company Investigating appeared first on SportsHandle.

A New Jersey man says he made a wager on Sunday at the FanDuel SportsBook at the Meadowlands Racetrack and that FanDuel won’t pay up. The bet, an in-game wager, would have paid $82,610 on a $110 wager and was made with 1 minute, 10 seconds remaining in the Denver Broncos-Oakland Raiders contest.

According to a report from News12 in New Jersey, FanDuel says the ticket was a glitch and is looking into the matter. But the bettor, Anthony Prince, is all but demanding FanDuel pay out immediately.

“They said their system had a glitch in it and they’re not obligated to pay for glitches,” Prince told News12. “The other guy said, ‘You should take what we give you because we don’t have to give you [anything] at all.’ I said, ‘Wow, for real?’”

 

Read more NJ Man Says FanDuel Won’t Pay; Company Investigating on SportsHandle.

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Steelers plan to talk to Brown about social media usage

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin wants to talk to Antonio Brown about the Pro Bowl wide receiver's social media usage.

Tomlin said Tuesday he plans to talk to Brown directly following Brown's latest outburst. Brown responded to criticism on Twitter by a former

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin wants to talk to Antonio Brown about the Pro Bowl wide receiver’s social media usage.

Tomlin said Tuesday he plans to talk to Brown directly following Brown’s latest outburst. Brown responded to criticism on Twitter by a former team employee by suggesting the Steelers trade him . The post came a day after the Steelers fell to 0-1-1 following a 42-37 loss to Kansas City.

Brown declined to speak to reporters afterward and Tomlin said Brown did not report to the team’s facility on Monday. Tomlin did not say whether Brown’s absence was excused.

Tomlin downplayed the image of Brown venting on the sideline during the loss, calling it a mixture of frustration and losing and the byproduct of being competitive.

The Steelers travel to surprising Tampa Bay (2-0) next Monday night.

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‘Cover City’: Week 2 NFL Recap And Week 3 Preview With Andrew Melton

The post ‘Cover City’: Week 2 NFL Recap And Week 3 Preview With Andrew Melton 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

The post ‘Cover City’: Week 2 NFL Recap And Week 3 Preview With Andrew Melton 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.

NFL Week 2 is now the books but there’s a lot to absorb from what occurred. The underdogs bit HARD with an 11-5 performance, and now Josh Gordon is a New England Patriot! On the podcast you’ll get perspective on that move on from a former Patriots linebacker.

Joining Rosenthal on Cover City to break it all down is Andrew Melton (@SnCDrew), a RotoRadar podcast host, professional gamer and motion capture athlete for EA Sports. Time codes for the episode follow below.


 
1:45 – Saints barely pull one out against the Browns and previewing their opponent for Week 3.
 
4:28 – Don’t look at the names. Why one quarterback is proving his value.
 
6:22 – Ryan Fitzpatrick hype. Is it real? Drew talks about some real life encounters with him.
 
10:57 – Bills are 17 point underdogs in Week 3. Why Drew still likes the Vikings to cover this spread.
 
14:52 – Giants embarrassment on Sunday Night. Why Eric thinks it might be time to hit the panic button.
 
17:49 – Dak Prescott could be one of the more overrated quarterbacks in the NFL.
 
21:05 – Andrew Luck is back and healthy. Drew weighs in on why he’s the total package, but why simple might be more.
 
23:55 – Eric locks in a contrarian “under” for Week 3.
 
26:06 – Josh Gordon to the New England Patriots. And a Super Bowl Champion joins the show!
 
28:30 – Matt Patricia against New England: A first-hand perspective for this weeks matchup.
 
33:55 – Team total for the Patriots this week. Drew reacts to our special guest’s comments and talks about game script.
 
39:15 – Aaron Rodgers vs. Kirk Cousins. Drew calls the Vikings one of the most overrated teams in the NFL.
 
42:55 – Was the hit from Clay Matthews roughing the passer? A vantage point from a NFL perspective.
 

 
Come back here Thursday for the full NFL Week 3 and a look at the Saturday college football slate. And follow us on Twitter at @ericports and @sports_handle
 
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The post ‘Cover City’: Week 2 NFL Recap And Week 3 Preview With Andrew Melton appeared first on SportsHandle.

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Hall of Fame members threaten boycott of inductions

A group of Pro Football Hall of Famers is demanding health insurance coverage and a share of NFL revenues or else those former players will boycott the induction ceremonies.

In a letter sent to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith and Hall of

A group of Pro Football Hall of Famers is demanding health insurance coverage and a share of NFL revenues or else those former players will boycott the induction ceremonies.

In a letter sent to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith and Hall of Fame President David Baker — and obtained by The Associated Press — 21 Hall of Fame members cited themselves as “integral to the creation of the modern NFL, which in 2017 generated $14 billion in revenue.”

Among the signees were Eric Dickerson, who is listed as chairman of the newly created Hall of Fame Board the group has formed, Jim Brown, Jerry Rice, Joe Namath, Lawrence Taylor, and Sarah White, the widow of Reggie White.

One name on the list of 22 signees including Mrs. White was Carl Ellard, but no one by that name has played professional football. Former Vikings defensive end Carl Eller, however, is a Hall of Famer.

The strongly worded letter called out the league for paying Goodell $40 million, saying “there are better uses for that money.” It also criticized Smith for his salary and the lack of a former player on the players’ association executive board. But there have been two former players on that executive board since 2009.

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Pro Sports Leagues Continue Full-Court Press on West Virginia Sports Betting Law

The post Pro Sports Leagues Continue Full-Court Press on West Virginia Sports Betting Law appeared first on SportsHandle.

What’s going on in West Virginia? Sports betting kicked off with a bang a the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races late last month, and just last week, the FanDuel Sportsbook

The post Pro Sports Leagues Continue Full-Court Press on West Virginia Sports Betting Law appeared first on SportsHandle.

What’s going on in West Virginia? Sports betting kicked off with a bang a the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races late last month, and just last week, the FanDuel Sportsbook at The Greenbrier Resort took its first bet. In between, the state’s lottery director inexplicably resigned and now the lottery’s managing general counsel, Danielle Boyd, isn’t immediately responding to inquiries.

And on Monday, acting lottery director Doug Buffington went before the Standing Joint Committee on Finance and fielded questions about the implementation the state’s sports betting law. The lottery rolled out “emergency rules” in order to allow the casinos to open their sportsbooks, but those rules were open to public comment and the lottery must address concerns. The public-comment period ended Sept. 7 and the lottery has yet to respond.

In fact, should it respond in the near future, it will do so without its long-time leader, Alan Harrick, who resigned unexpectedly and Boyd, who has reportedly been forced out of her position by the governor’s office.

Read more Pro Sports Leagues Continue Full-Court Press on West Virginia Sports Betting Law on SportsHandle.

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Film study: How Mahomes is thriving

 

 

Patrick Mahomes is taking Andy Reid's scheme to another level.

 

Already out of control entering the season, the Mahomes bandwagon didn't take long to upgrade to a double-decker party bus, complete with a bouncy house and a hot tub.

 

Through two weeks, the Kansas City Chiefs' offense has been the ultimate

 

 

Patrick Mahomes is taking Andy Reid’s scheme to another level.

 

Already out of control entering the season, the Mahomes bandwagon didn’t take long to upgrade to a double-decker party bus, complete with a bouncy house and a hot tub.

 

Through two weeks, the Kansas City Chiefs’ offense has been the ultimate marriage of scheme and skill set, as Mahomes has taken Reid’s brilliant designs — and the incomparable Tyreek Hill — to another echelon.

 

Reid and his staff used a year to refine the QB’s iffy mechanics, and he’s paying them back with pinpoint throws from an arm capable of almost anything. In an offense that schemes receivers open as well as any in the NFL, Mahomes’ willingness to turn throws loose early (unlike the cautious Alex Smith) maximizes yards after catch and big-play potential.

 

Reid is superb at blurring the responsibilities of zone defenders through route concepts, and Mahomes’ arm — a howitzer, yes, but also capable of layering throws with touch — makes him a terror against zone coverages. The Pittsburgh Steelers learned the hard way Sunday.

 

On K.C.’s second drive, Mahomes exploited second-year cornerback Cameron Sutton — filling in for Joe Haden — in two different ways for big plays against Cover-2 zone. First, he threw early and with perfect touch to Sammy Watkins for 40 yards, dropping it over Sutton’s underneath zone well before safety Sean Davis could arrive.

 

Two plays later, Reid sent the Chiefs’ most dangerous weapons, Hill and Travis Kelce, on vertical routes at Sutton, who was playing as one of two deep safeties. Mahomes used his eyes to force Sutton to honor Hill’s outside go route, then whipped the ball to Kelce on a post for an easy 19-yard score.

 

Mahomes also showed anticipation by firing early on a back-shoulder throw — a play normally designed for big-framed targets — to the diminutive Hill, gaining 36 yards to open the third quarter. Later in the frame, he dropped a pass perfectly over helpless linebacker Jon Bostic into Kelce’s hands for 31 yards up the middle of Tampa-2 zone coverage.

 

Mahomes capped that drive by flicking the ball from a funky arm angle and into a tight window while rolling right for a 3-yard score to Demarcus Robinson.

 

The big plays came in all kinds of ways, a great sign for a signal-caller making his third career start.

 

The Steelers’ defense was certainly complicit in the torching. It blew red-zone coverages on the first (15 yards to Chris Conley) and fourth (25 yards to Kelce) touchdowns, and missed all sorts of tackles, including on Kareem Hunt’s 5-yard TD, Hill’s 36-yard catch and a 25-yard gain by Watkins. And believe it or not, Mahomes actually failed to capitalize on three of Pittsburgh’s biggest errors, leaving potential TDs of 71, 39 and 99 yards on the field.

 

Early in the second, he pulled back on a bomb for Hill — who got behind Davis deep — because he stepped up right into 352-pound Dan McCullers for a sack in mostly clean pocket. Two plays after halftime, Mahomes overthrew a wide-open Watkins, who was covered only by 252-pound T.J. Watt on a slot fade.

 

Early in the fourth, he threw too far and outside for Hill from his own end zone, after Sutton allowed Hill a clean inside release and Davis inexplicably abandoned center field to double-team Conley’s crossing route. A play later, Hunt was tackled behind the goal line for a safety.

 

Setting aside the absurdity of Mahomes potentially topping his stat line with a 99-yard TD — which would have tied NFL records for longest completion and most TD passes (seven) in a single game — every QB leaves plays on the field. Those were outliers on Sunday, as the misses to Watkins and Hill accounted for 40 percent of Mahomes’ incompletions.

 

Yes, some regression is inevitable. Teams will study Mahomes more, windows will tighten and his offensive line (two sacks allowed in two games) won’t keep him quite so clean. He’ll see more press-man coverage and obvious passing situations (the Chiefs have yet to trail this year), forcing him to work deeper into progressions. The guy who had 29 interceptions in 32 college games will turn the ball over at some point. And don’t forget the swoon Kansas City’s offense had midseason last year (Weeks 1-5: 32.4 points per game; Weeks 6-13: 18.0).

 

But the combination of Reid’s scheme, Hill’s and Kelce’s explosiveness and Mahomes’ arm is potent enough to shatter the geometry of most defensive coordinators’ designs.

 

At the combine, Chiefs general manager Brett Veach called Mahomes “one of the best players I have ever seen.” While that still seems awfully premature, the 23-year-old is already looking like the best possible fit for Reid’s offense.

 

–Third down’s the charm in Jacksonville

 

The recipe for most wins over the New England Patriots includes a few of the same ingredients: stingy coverage and pressure on Tom Brady without blitzing. The Jacksonville Jaguars had those elements in last year’s AFC Championship Game but lacked the offensive aggressiveness to close out the win.

 

Sunday’s upset showed they learned from that mistake, as they kept throwing (Blake Bortles had 45 attempts to Brady’s 35) despite leading the whole game. The result was a win that was even more comprehensive than the 31-20 margin, as Jacksonville outgained New England by 2.0 yards per play (7.0 to 5.0) and 179 total yards (481-302).

 

Most staggering was the Jaguars’ comprehensive dominance on third down, as they won 18 of 26 such plays, finishing 8 of 12 on defense and 10 of 14 on offense. The defense’s success rate was no surprise (it ranked fourth on third downs last year), but it could have been even better.

 

Two of the Patriots’ third-down conversions came via Brady’s legs: one on a QB sneak, and another on his longest run in two years, a 10-yard scramble on third-and-6. On the other two conversions, Brady got the ball out despite immediate pressure from a four-man rush, including Dante Fowler Jr. arriving a beat late on Chris Hogan’s 7-yard, third-quarter TD.

 

Brady’s fortune turned less than five minutes later. He was a beat slower and Fowler a beat quicker on a third-and-9, as Fowler dipped around LaAdrian Waddle and stripped Brady as the veteran wound up to throw. The Jaguars recovered, preventing the Patriots from getting closer in the fourth quarter.

 

Reliable as the Jacksonville defense was, Bortles & Co. might have been even more impressive on third downs. Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett terrorized the Patriots with crossing routes and pick plays while featuring the shifty Keelan Cole and Corey Grant in space.

 

Grant set up the first touchdown by beating Patrick Chung with an angle route to convert third-and-7. Just before halftime, a rub from Dede Westbrook sprung Austin Seferian-Jenkins from Chung’s man coverage on a corner route for a 4-yard score on third-and-3. Early in the third, Cole turned cornerback Eric Rowe inside out for 22 yards on third-and-11, then used a Westbrook pick three plays later to gain 11 on a third-and-2 slant.

 

When things didn’t go according to plan, Bortles compensated with quick processing and timely scrambles.

 

On the Jags’ third play, he shimmied to elude unblocked linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley and found Seferian-Jenkins for 11 yards on third-and-6. When the Patriots dialed up a rare all-out blitz, Bortles threw immediately over a leaping Chung to Seferian-Jenkins — who was temporarily open as Devin McCourty rotated to cover him — for 8 yards on third-and-7 late in the second.

 

Bortles also moved the chains with scrambles for 9, 10 and 10 on third downs of 6, 7 and 9, respectively, while coming up just short on another with 4 yards on third-and-5.

 

Even one of Sunday’s few third-down failures came only after a hands-to-the-face penalty nullified a third-and-7 conversion. All told, the Jags moved the chains 7 of 11 times on third-and-5 or longer after going 0-for-8 on such plays in the opener.

 

The unit can obviously be more consistent after struggling in Week 1, but Hackett and Bortles have now given Bill Belichick’s team fits in two games dating back to the AFC Championship. If these teams meet again in January, Sunday’s result gives New England plenty to worry about.

 

–The Fitzmagic touch

 

The only QB as hot as Mahomes is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Ryan Fitzpatrick, whose fantastic start (819 passing yards, eight TDs, one pick) might be the NFL’s biggest surprise through two weeks.

 

Fitzpatrick was always an up-and-down starter because of his willingness to turn it loose without high-level arm strength. The scales have tipped heavily toward the “up” side of things of late, in large part because he’s executed a well-schemed attack so precisely.

 

Sunday’s first play from scrimmage — a 75-yard TD to DeSean Jackson — was a perfect example.

 

Offensive coordinator Todd Monken, who has taken play-calling duties from head coach Dirk Koetter this year, knows the Eagles’ defense prefers quarters coverage (also called Cover-4), especially on early downs. So Monken dialed up a play-action deep shot with Jackson on a post route against Jalen Mills, whose coverage responsibility dictates that he must maintain outside leverage. That gave the speedy Jackson a head start once he cut inside and across the field.

 

Fitzpatrick read it and made a perfect throw, allowing Jackson to maximize his speed and take it the final 40 yards to pay dirt.

 

I’ve been skeptical of keeping Fitzpatrick as the starter when Jameis Winston returns, but the Bucs’ deep-ball success through two games is the most convincing argument to do so. Fitzpatrick is 7 of 9 for 317 yards (35.2 per attempt), four touchdowns and no interceptions on throws traveling 20-plus yards on the air, after Winston went 16 of 53 for 537 yards (10.1 per attempt), six TDs and two picks on such throws last season.

 

That said, Fitzpatrick very likely will cool off. He had been downright poor on 20-plus-yard throws (28.9 completion percentage, 9.8 yards per attempt, 31 TDs and 40 INTs) before 2018, worse than Winston’s career figures (31.1 percent, 10.2, 18 and 10).

 

Perhaps Fitzpatrick has found the chemistry with Jackson that Winston never did, or maybe he’s due for sharp regression. Mahomes proved Sunday the Steelers’ defense is exploitable deep, so Fitzpatrick will get more chances to stake his claim on Monday night in Week 3.

 

–How Kupp ties McVay’s scheme together

 

You don’t need me to tell you Sean McVay and Todd Gurley make the Los Angeles Rams’ offense go, but don’t overlook one of the unit’s key pieces: Cooper Kupp. The second-year wideout routinely wins on third down — on Sunday, he cooked Cardinals cornerback Jamar Taylor for 29 yards on third-and-4, then found a soft spot in a zone for 10 yards on third-and-9 — but he also does the dirty work.

 

McVay regularly deploys Kupp inline like a tight end — often via motion toward the formation — and asks the wideout to block straight ahead, across the formation (a “slice” block) to the backside, or by cracking a defensive end to the inside. On Sunday, Kupp stoned safety Antoine Bethea from that inline alignment on Gurley’s 11-yard and 1-yard TD runs.

 

This also unlocks some of McVay’s creativity off play-action.

 

Kupp diligently sells run fakes by blocking for a second or two before releasing, a wrinkle few teams use, but one that makes linebackers and safeties take the bait, hook, line and sinker. That allows explosive plays for Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods downfield, but Kupp himself profits on occasion too — his 8-yard touchdown against the Raiders last week is a perfect example.

 

McVay also uses Kupp from that alignment on jet sweeps and fake “slice” blocks, where Kupp crosses the formation behind the line after the snap and is usually wide open for 5 to 10 free yards after a bootleg play-fake.

 

Oh by the way, Kupp was also the holder on Johnny Hekker’s 20-yard field goal Sunday (Hekker normally holds for Greg Zuerlein, who was out with a groin injury). Just another game for a man who always has a lot on his plate.

 

–David DeChant, Field Level Media

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Falcons dispute report that RB Freeman out for 2-3 weeks

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — The Atlanta Falcons are disputing a report that running back Devonta Freeman will be out for as long as three weeks with a knee injury.

Coach Dan Quinn said Monday that he considers Freeman day to day.

Freeman injured his right knee in a Week 1 loss to

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — The Atlanta Falcons are disputing a report that running back Devonta Freeman will be out for as long as three weeks with a knee injury.

Coach Dan Quinn said Monday that he considers Freeman day to day.

Freeman injured his right knee in a Week 1 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles and didn’t play in Sunday’s 31-24 victory over the Carolina Panthers.

ESPN reported that Freeman will miss two to three weeks with a contusion, which would rule him out of next weekend’s NFC South matchup against the New Orleans Saints and possibly a Sept. 30 game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Quinn says he’s “not sure where that report came from. It certainly didn’t come from us.”

But the coach continues to be vague about Freeman’s return, saying he’ll be cleared only when he shows the “same explosion that he plays with.”

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Rams sign K Ficken with Zuerlein sidelined

 

Greg Zuerlein injured his groin in pregame warmups on Sunday, which sent the Los Angeles Rams kicking the tires on replacement options.

 

The Rams are sticking with a known commodity, Sam Ficken, the former Penn State kicker who filled in for Zuerlein late last

 

Greg Zuerlein injured his groin in pregame warmups on Sunday, which sent the Los Angeles Rams kicking the tires on replacement options.

 

The Rams are sticking with a known commodity, Sam Ficken, the former Penn State kicker who filled in for Zuerlein late last season and into the playoffs.

 

According to reports, the Rams were one of several teams who reached out to former Dallas Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey, the second-most accurate placekicker in league history. But Bailey, who reportedly also declined an opportunity with the Cleveland Browns, showed no interest.

 

Ficken replaced Zuerlein — who had a back injury — for two regular-season games and the postseason in 2017. He made 2 of 3 field goal tries in the regular season. Back with the team for training camp this summer, Ficken kicked in all four preseason games and converted all four FG attempts.

 

–Field Level Media

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Vikings cut rookie Carlson after 3 missed FGs, target Bailey

EAGAN, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota Vikings have waived rookie kicker Daniel Carlson, after the fifth-round draft pick pulled all three of his field-goal attempts wide right at Green Bay.

Two of Carlson's misses came in overtime on Sunday, forcing the Vikings to settle for a

EAGAN, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota Vikings have waived rookie kicker Daniel Carlson, after the fifth-round draft pick pulled all three of his field-goal attempts wide right at Green Bay.

Two of Carlson’s misses came in overtime on Sunday, forcing the Vikings to settle for a 29-29 tie with the rival Packers. Carlson was promptly cut on Monday, as the Vikings signed wide receiver Aldrick Robinson.

When asked by a reporter how the Vikings reached the decision, coach Mike Zimmer said, “Did you see the game?”

The Vikings didn’t immediately add a replacement for Carlson, but Zimmer confirmed they’ve invited free agent Dan Bailey to Minnesota for a physical exam.

That makes it all but certain they’ll sign Bailey, who’s the second-most accurate field goal kicker in NFL history. The 30-year-old was released by the Dallas Cowboys right before the regular season began in a cost-saving decision, following his injury-influenced regression in 2017.

Carlson was awarded the job when the Vikings let Kai Forbath go on Aug. 20, and Carlson pulled two field-goal tries wide left in an exhibition game four days later. He converted his only attempt, a 48-yarder, plus three extra points in the opener against the San Francisco 49ers on Sept. 9.

Then came the debacle at Lambeau Field , after which Carlson acknowledged he’d lost some faith in his ability upon lining up for the 35-yard try on the last play of overtime. He missed from 49 yards earlier in the extra period and from 48 yards in the second quarter.

“It’s disappointing for me personally. The team fought so hard. We expect to win that, and I expect to make those kicks to win the game for the team,” Carlson said.

“That last one was probably more just confidence after missing twice early. That is frustrating. That shorter one I should never miss like that.”

Since Zimmer took the job in 2014, the Vikings have had plenty of these problems. Blair Walsh never fully recovered from his 27-yard miss in the subzero cold of the playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks after the 2015 season.

He was let go midway through the 2016 season in favor of Forbath, whose biggest trouble was extra points.

He performed relatively well in 2017 as the Vikings advanced to the NFC championship game, but general manager Rick Spielman sought an upgrade with Carlson, who left Auburn as the all-time leading scorer in Southeastern Conference history.

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Jaguars LT Cam Robinson out for season with left knee injury

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Jacksonville Jaguars will be without left tackle Cam Robinson for the rest of the season because of a knee injury.

Robinson, a second-round draft pick from Alabama in 2017, injured his left knee in the first quarter of Sunday's 31-20 victory

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Jacksonville Jaguars will be without left tackle Cam Robinson for the rest of the season because of a knee injury.

Robinson, a second-round draft pick from Alabama in 2017, injured his left knee in the first quarter of Sunday’s 31-20 victory against New England and left the locker room on crutches.

Coach Doug Marrone and teammates confirmed Monday that Robinson’s season is over.

Center Brandon Linder says “it’s part of the game and it’s terrible to see a guy’s season end like that, especially a guy that was playing at a high level like Cam was.”

Robinson started 20 of 21 games the past two seasons. Fourth-year pro Josh Wells will replace him in the starting lineup, beginning this week against Tennessee.

Wells says “it’s a terrible situation. I hope we can do it justice out there for him. … I think he’ll eventually be better than ever.”

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NFL Monday Night Football Player Props: Will Khalil Mack Sack Russell Wilson

For MNF, September 17, 2018.

Will Khalil Mack sack Russell Wilson?

Yes -150

No +110

Will Khalil Mack intercept Russell Wilson?

Yes +950

No - 3500

For MNF, September 17, 2018.

Will Khalil Mack sack Russell Wilson?

Yes -150

No +110

Will Khalil Mack intercept Russell Wilson?

Yes +950

No – 3500

Both players must start for action

Data provided by Bovada.

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Browns to sign K Greg Joseph following Gonzalez meltdown

CLEVELAND (AP) — Zane Gonzalez is getting kicked to the curb.

The Browns plan to release their wayward kicker on Monday after his four misses on Sunday cost Cleveland its first win since 2016 with a 21-18 loss to the New Orleans Saints.

On Monday, the

CLEVELAND (AP) — Zane Gonzalez is getting kicked to the curb.

The Browns plan to release their wayward kicker on Monday after his four misses on Sunday cost Cleveland its first win since 2016 with a 21-18 loss to the New Orleans Saints.

On Monday, the Browns tried out several kickers and intend to sign free agent Greg Joseph to replace Gonzalez, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the team has not announced the signing.

Joseph was with the Miami Dolphins during training camp and the preseason, but he was beaten out for the starting job by Jason Sanders.

The 24-year-old Joseph kicked for four seasons at Florida Atlantic. He’ll have minimal time to get up to speed with the Browns, who host the New York Jets on Thursday night. Joseph made 7 of 9 field-goal attempts in four exhibitions.

Gonzalez’s meltdown in the Superdome was the latest malfunction for the Browns, who have played well enough to win their first two games but remain winless since Dec. 24, 2016.

He misfired on two extra points and two field-goal attempts, including a 52-yarder in the final seconds — with owner Jimmy Haslam standing under the crossbar — that would have forced overtime on Sunday. After his last kick sailed off course, Gonzalez sat alone hanging his head while sitting on the Browns’ bench before being consoled by Saints kicker Wil Lutz.

“It’s on me 100 percent. Can’t blame it on nobody else,” Gonzalez, a seventh-round pick in 2017, said afterward. “Sucks that we were so close to that win and it’s been so long and just let everybody down.”

The Browns are also exploring trades for wide receiver Josh Gordon, whose checkered career in Cleveland reached a breaking point on Saturday when he reported to the team with a hamstring injury that kept him out of Sunday’s game.

General manager John Dorsey initially said in the statement that the team would release Gordon, but the Browns are looking to see if they can get something for the former Pro Bowler.

Gordon has played in just 11 games since 2014 because of numerous drug suspensions.

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Panthers coach Rivera won’t tolerate ‘lazy’ play on defense

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Panthers coach Ron Rivera is still fuming about his team's performance, saying he won't tolerate laziness on defense following his team's 31-24 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.

Carolina's eighth-year head coach was upset after watching his normally stingy defense allow Matt Ryan

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Panthers coach Ron Rivera is still fuming about his team’s performance, saying he won’t tolerate laziness on defense following his team’s 31-24 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.

Carolina’s eighth-year head coach was upset after watching his normally stingy defense allow Matt Ryan and the Falcons to roll up 442 yards on offense Sunday and score on five of their first seven possessions.

The Falcons, playing without starting running back Devonta Freeman, ran for 170 yards and Ryan completed 23 of 28 passes for 272 yards and combined for four TDs. Tevin Coleman ran for 107 yards, snapping Carolina’s string of 21 straight games without allowing an opposing running back to run for 100 yards.

Rivera described Carolina’s problems as part-mental and part-physical. He said Monday that the team struggled with its run fits on defense and “a couple of times (we were) playing behind and playing a little lazy — and we can’t accept that.”

Rivera said the performance was not up to the standard set by former defensive coordinators Sean McDermott and Steve Wilks, both of whom have gone on to become NFL head coaches. The Panthers have consistently been one of the league’s top-ranked defenses since Rivera arrived in 2011.

“We are not going to tolerate it,” Rivera said. “We are going to put players out on the field that we believe are doing it our way and playing hard and giving us every opportunity to succeed.”

Panthers new defensive coordinator Eric Washington, who was promoted from defensive line coach this past offseason, called it a “tough day at the office.”

When asked about Rivera’s comments about the defense being a little lazy, Washington replied, “If that is the way coach characterized it then I will follow suit with that. If we need to play faster, with more effort and more energy than that is what we are going to do.”

Washington said the Panthers struggled with the Falcons’ zone-wide blocking scheme.

He pointed to the team’s defensive tackles, saying they need to play with better technique and “set the table” for the rest of the defense to make plays.

Too often on Sunday, middle linebacker Kuechly’s path to the ball carrier was hindered by blockers getting to the second line of defense.

“When we talk about that scheme we emphasize with our defensive tackles they have to play great,” Washington said. “That means they have penetrate and get great edges set and allow our linebackers have to play downhill. A couple of times we weren’t exactly doing that to the degree we’ve done it in the past. It created some indecision with the second level of the defenders. It wasn’t as clean of a look for those guys.”

Carolina’s Dontari Poe agreed that he and the team’s other defensive tackles need to be on their game and play more physical against the Falcons, but wouldn’t go as far as to characterize the play of the defense as lazy.

“We missed some stuff at times, and a couple of times people could have made plays that they didn’t,” Poe said. “It’s just small things we need to fix.”

Washington’s job isn’t going to get any easier this week when the Panthers host the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Panthers could be without starting cornerback Donte Jackson (hamstring) and safety Da’Norris Searcy (concussion), which means some adjustments in the secondary. Both players left the Atlanta game with injuries.

But he’s confident the Panthers defense will bounce back.

“We will shore those things up, and we will be ready to go,” Washington said. “You will see the Panthers defense we are all accustomed to seeing.”

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Chiefs celebrating Mahomes’ big day _ on his birthday

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Patrick Mahomes had just thrown six touchdown passes in a record-setting performance against the Steelers, one that gave the Chiefs a big road win and may have stamped them as the AFC's top team, when someone asked him how he planned

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Patrick Mahomes had just thrown six touchdown passes in a record-setting performance against the Steelers, one that gave the Chiefs a big road win and may have stamped them as the AFC’s top team, when someone asked him how he planned to celebrate his birthday.

Mahomes said he planned to watch film of the San Francisco 49ers.

If that was merely the politically correct answer, though, and the 23-year-old first-year starter planned to hit the town, he should have no shortage of Chiefs fans willing to buy him drinks.

They’ll probably still be celebrating St. Patrick’s big day.

“I don’t think that you could expect more from anyone,” said Chris Conley, one of five different receivers to catch a TD pass.

“He’s handled the times where he’s made the plays really well. He’s handled the times where he hasn’t. That speaks volumes.”

To be frank, there haven’t been many times where he hasn’t made the plays.

Mahomes was so dynamic in a Week 17 win at Denver last season that the Chiefs traded away Pro Bowl quarterback Alex Smith and gave Mahomes the starting job.

Then he threw four TD passes without a pick in a near-flawless performance in a road win over the AFC West-rival Chargers to open the season.

But his performance in Pittsburgh, where the Chiefs hadn’t won a game since 1986, was the kind of transcendent display that Chiefs fans have been pining for since Len Dawson was taking snaps.

Mahomes was 23 of 28 for 326 yards, which means he threw more touchdown passes than incompletions. He made all the right checks, scrambled when the opportunity presented itself, and kept his poise when the Chiefs squandered a 21-point first-quarter lead by engineering a near-flawless second half.

“Everybody knew how strong of an arm he has,” Steelers cornerback Mike Hilton said, “and he was making some decent throws, and his playmakers made plays.”

Yes, it helps to have a dizzying array of talent surrounding him.

Kareem Hunt ran for 75 yards to provide just enough offensive balance. Travis Kelce had seven catches for 109 yards and two scores, and Sammy Watkins had six catches for 100 yards, lest anybody worry after their quiet openers against the Chargers.

Tyreek Hill added five catches for 90 yards, all in the second half, with another touchdown to punctuate his typically stellar outing.

Still, it takes the quarterback to deliver them the ball.

“There’ll be games where teams try and take away one or two guys and that’s the good thing about this team is that no one really cares about who is getting the shine,” Mahomes said, after spending a hefty amount of time praising his teammates. “Everybody just wants to win.”

Nobody more so than Mahomes, whose 10 touchdown passes through the first two weeks of the season broke the NFL record of nine shared by Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Charley Johnson.

Those touchdown passes have gone to seven different receivers, including fullback Anthony Sherman, which matches the number of guys that caught TD passes all last season.

And those six TD tosses against the Steelers matched Dawson’s 54-year-old franchise record for a single game.

“It just speaks to the weapons that we have on offense. They can’t stop everybody,” Mahomes said, “so for me, it’s just about getting it to the guy that has the man-to-man coverage or has the open area. Those guys were getting open. The offensive line was blocking great. It was making my job easy.”

Perhaps the only downside to so much success is that the expectations surrounding Mahomes, which were already soaring in training camp, have soared to an almost impossible level.

One sports talk radio host wondered Monday whether Mahomes will break Manning’s record for TD passes in a single season. He’s on pace for an absurd 80 of them, and while nobody expects him to maintain such a pace, the reality is he needs to average just 3.2 per game to top the record of 55.

Then there are the expectations for the Chiefs. They’ve already beaten two teams that were thought to be playoff contenders, on the road no less, and done so in fairly convincing fashion.

It’s hardly surprising that Chiefs coach Andy Reid tried to keep everything in perspective when he met with reporters on Monday. But that job is becoming more difficult each week.

“The key to this thing is that you’re growing, that you keep growing. The more that these defensive coordinators have to study it, you keep answering that bell, so that’s his challenge right now,” Reid said. “Is everything going to be roses? No. But he’s seeing things right now and doing a nice job.”

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