NFL and College Football Articles

NFL and College Football Articles

Report: Bills place retired Davis on reserve/left squad list

Report: Bills place retired Davis on reserve/left squad list

One weekend after Vontae Davis shockingly retired from the NFL in the middle of a game, leaving the stadium at halftime, the Buffalo Bills placed the veteran cornerback on the reserve/left squad list, Pro Football Talk reported Saturday night.

Last Sunday

Report: Bills place retired Davis on reserve/left squad list

One weekend after Vontae Davis shockingly retired from the NFL in the middle of a game, leaving the stadium at halftime, the Buffalo Bills placed the veteran cornerback on the reserve/left squad list, Pro Football Talk reported Saturday night.

Last Sunday Davis stunned the football world by pulling himself from the team’s home opener against the San Diego Chargers, declaring later in the week that he was in fact ending his football career, calling his departure “therapeutic.”

Per the PFT report, the Bills got a roster exemption on Monday from the league that let them replace his spot on the roster. By placing him on the reserve/left squad list, Davis will officially not be allowed to return this season for Buffalo or any team.

Davis played just five games in 2017 with the Indianapolis Colts before suffering a torn groin muscle. Last season marked the first in Davis’ career that he did not record an interception.

Davis was a 2009 first-round draft pick by Miami and played three seasons (2009-11) with the Dolphins before suiting up for the Colts for the following six seasons. He signed a one-year, $5 million contract with the Bills this offseason.

–Field Level Media

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NFL notebook: Superintendent resigns after Watson comments

NFL notebook: Superintendent resigns after Watson comments

The Texas school superintendent who made a racially charged comment about Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson has resigned, a Houston television station reported Saturday.

The Onalaska Independent School District's Board of Trustees accepted a letter of resignation from Lynn Redden after a meeting

NFL notebook: Superintendent resigns after Watson comments

The Texas school superintendent who made a racially charged comment about Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson has resigned, a Houston television station reported Saturday.

The Onalaska Independent School District’s Board of Trustees accepted a letter of resignation from Lynn Redden after a meeting Saturday morning, according to ABC 13.

Redden came under fire for a comment posted on the Houston Chronicle’s Facebook page following the Texans’ Week 2 loss to the Tennessee Titans. “You can’t count on a black quarterback,” he wrote.

“The OISD does not condone negative comments or actions toward any race,” the school board said in a statement earlier this week. “The District values every individual and therefore the District will take the appropriate measures to address the situation expeditiously and completely.”

–Four days after signing with the Washington Redskins, wide receiver Breshad Perriman has been released.

Washington promoted running back Kapri Bibbs to the 53-man roster in his place. Running back Rob Kelley recently went on injured reserve with an injured toe.

Perriman, 25, was the 26th player selected in the 2015 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens. After missing his rookie season due to injury, he made his debut in 2016, appearing in all 16 games and catching 33 passes for 499 yards and three touchdowns.

–Tennessee Titans linebacker Kamalei Correa will not play Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars because of a back injury.

Correa, tied for the team lead with two sacks, had been listed as questionable but was downgraded on Saturday. Correa, 24, was acquired in a trade with the Baltimore Ravens in August for a 2019 sixth-round pick.

The Titans also said safety Kendrick Lewis will miss his third straight game with a foot injury. He has not played in a regular season game since 2016 with Baltimore.

–The San Francisco 49ers released linebacker Terence Garvin and promoted defensive back Tyvis Powell to the 53-man roster, the team announced.

Garvin saw action in one game this season for San Francisco. The 27-year-old has played 75 games (four starts) in six NFL seasons, including stints with the Pittsburgh Steelers (2013-15), Washington Redskins (2016) and Seattle Seahawks (2017).

Powell, 24, played in three games for San Francisco last season and has three defensive tackles and two special teams’ stops. He also played in eight games for the Seahawks in 2016.

–Tight end Erik Swoope was promoted to the Indianapolis Colts’ 53-man roster from the practice squad as fellow tight end Jack Doyle is considered week to week with a hip injury.

Swoope, who played basketball at the University of Miami, has been on and off the Colts’ roster since signing as an undrafted rookie in 2014. He was also active for Week 1. He has 16 career receptions in 18 games over five seasons.

The Colts waived cornerback Lenzy Pipkins to make room for Swoope on the roster and signed quarterback Phillip Walker to the practice squad.

–Field Level Media

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Redskins release WR Perriman

Redskins release WR Perriman

Four days after signing with the Washington Redskins, wide receiver Breshad Perriman has been released.

Washington promoted running back Kapri Bibbs to the 53-man roster in his place. Running back Rob Kelley recently went on injured reserve with an injured toe.

Perriman, 25,

Redskins release WR Perriman

Four days after signing with the Washington Redskins, wide receiver Breshad Perriman has been released.

Washington promoted running back Kapri Bibbs to the 53-man roster in his place. Running back Rob Kelley recently went on injured reserve with an injured toe.

Perriman, 25, was the 26th player selected in the 2015 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens. After missing his rookie season due to injury, he made his debut in 2016, appearing in all 16 games and catching 33 passes for 499 yards and three touchdowns.

Perriman’s production slipped in 2017, as he finished with 10 catches for 77 yards and no scores in 11 games. Baltimore released him on Sept. 1 during final cuts.

Bibbs, 25, has 50 career carries for 208 yards. He played in three games for Washington last season and rushed for 79 yards on 21 carries and also caught a touchdown pass.

Pro Football Talk reported that the Redskins could bring back Perriman later in the season.

–Field Level Media

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49ers release LB Garvin, promote DB Powell

49ers release LB Garvin, promote DB Powell

The San Francisco 49ers released linebacker Terence Garvin and promoted defensive back Tyvis Powell to the 53-man roster, the team announced on Saturday.

Garvin saw action in one game this season for San Francisco. The 27-year-old has played 75 games (four starts) in

49ers release LB Garvin, promote DB Powell

The San Francisco 49ers released linebacker Terence Garvin and promoted defensive back Tyvis Powell to the 53-man roster, the team announced on Saturday.

Garvin saw action in one game this season for San Francisco. The 27-year-old has played 75 games (four starts) in six NFL seasons, including stints with the Pittsburgh Steelers (2013-15), Washington Redskins (2016) and Seattle Seahawks (2017).

Powell, 24, played in three games for San Francisco last season and has three defensive tackles and two special teams’ stops. He also played in eight games for the Seahawks in 2016.

Powell was in training camp with the 49ers this summer before being released on Sept. 1. He was subsequently signed to the practice squad.

–Field Level Media

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Titans LB Correa (back) ruled out for Sunday

Titans LB Correa (back) ruled out for Sunday

Tennessee Titans linebacker Kamalei Correa will not play Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars because of a back injury.

Correa, who is tied for the team lead with two sacks, had been listed as questionable but was downgraded on Saturday.

Titans LB Correa (back) ruled out for Sunday

Tennessee Titans linebacker Kamalei Correa will not play Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars because of a back injury.

Correa, who is tied for the team lead with two sacks, had been listed as questionable but was downgraded on Saturday.

Correa, 24, was acquired in a trade with the Baltimore Ravens in August for a 2019 sixth-round pick.

The Titans also said safety Kendrick Lewis will miss his third straight game with a foot injury. He has not played in a regular season game since 2016 with Baltimore.

–Field Level Media

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Titans downgrade Correa, Lewis to out vs. Jaguars

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans will be without linebacker Kamalei Correa and safety Kendrick Lewis against the Jaguars.

The Titans downgraded both Correa and Lewis to out on Saturday.

Correa was added to the injury report Wednesday with a back issue. He did not practice Friday and had been listed as

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans will be without linebacker Kamalei Correa and safety Kendrick Lewis against the Jaguars.

The Titans downgraded both Correa and Lewis to out on Saturday.

Correa was added to the injury report Wednesday with a back issue. He did not practice Friday and had been listed as questionable. Correa, picked up in a trade from Baltimore in late August, is tied for the team lead with two sacks.

Lewis has missed the first two games with a foot injury that had him questionable Friday.

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Steelers G DeCastro out against Buccaneers

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh Steelers will be without All-Pro guard David DeCastro for a second straight week when they visit Tampa Bay on Monday night.

DeCastro is still recovering from a fractured right hand suffered during Pittsburgh's Week 1 tie against Cleveland. B.J. Finney will start in Decastro's place.

DeCastro isn't the

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh Steelers will be without All-Pro guard David DeCastro for a second straight week when they visit Tampa Bay on Monday night.

DeCastro is still recovering from a fractured right hand suffered during Pittsburgh’s Week 1 tie against Cleveland. B.J. Finney will start in Decastro’s place.

DeCastro isn’t the only offensive linemen hurting. Right tackle Marcus Gilbert is doubtful with a hamstring issue. Matt Feiler will start if Gilbert does not play. Safety Morgan Burnett is also doubtful with a groin injury.

The Steelers expect veteran cornerback Joe Haden to return after missing last week’s loss to Kansas City with a hamstring problem. Guard Ramon Foster, who is monitoring a right knee issue, is also expected to play. Defensive tackle Tyson Alualu, who sat last week while dealing with a shoulder injury, is also expected to be available.

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Report: Redskins release WR Perriman

Report: Redskins release WR Perriman

Four days after signing with the Washington Redskins, wide receiver Breshad Perriman has been released, according to Pro Football Talk.

Washington reportedly promoted running back Kapri Bibbs to the 53-man roster in his place. Running back Rob Kelley recently went on injured reserve with an

Report: Redskins release WR Perriman

Four days after signing with the Washington Redskins, wide receiver Breshad Perriman has been released, according to Pro Football Talk.

Washington reportedly promoted running back Kapri Bibbs to the 53-man roster in his place. Running back Rob Kelley recently went on injured reserve with an injured toe.

Perriman, 25, was the 26th player selected in the 2015 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens. After missing his rookie season due to injury, he made his debut in 2016, appearing in all 16 games and catching 33 passes for 499 yards and three touchdowns.

Perriman’s production slipped in 2017, as he finished with 10 catches for 77 yards and no scores in 11 games. Baltimore released him on Sept. 1 during final cuts.

Bibbs, 25, has 50 career carries for 208 yards. He played in three games for Washington last season and rushed for 79 yards on 21 carries and also caught a touchdown pass.

–Field Level Media

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School head resigns over comment about black quarterbacks

HOUSTON (AP) — A white Texas school superintendent who posted online that "You can't count on a black quarterback" in reference to Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson has resigned.

In a letter Saturday to the Onalaska Independent School District board, Lynn Redden says his comment posted earlier in the week on the Houston

HOUSTON (AP) — A white Texas school superintendent who posted online that “You can’t count on a black quarterback” in reference to Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson has resigned.

In a letter Saturday to the Onalaska Independent School District board, Lynn Redden says his comment posted earlier in the week on the Houston Chronicle’s Facebook page was “wrong and inappropriate.”

He also apologizes to Watson, who is black, and points out that Watson could have criticized him for his comment but instead “chose peace and positivity.”

Redden had criticized Watson for letting the clock run down before completing a pass in a 20-17 loss to the Tennessee Titans last Sunday.

Redden’s comment prompted the school board to convene a special meeting Saturday.

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Texas superintendent resigns after Watson comments

Texas superintendent resigns after Watson comments

The Texas school superintendent who made a racially charged comment about Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson has resigned, a Houston television station reported Saturday.

The Onalaska Independent School District's Board of Trustees accepted a letter of resignation from Lynn Redden after a meeting Saturday

Texas superintendent resigns after Watson comments

The Texas school superintendent who made a racially charged comment about Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson has resigned, a Houston television station reported Saturday.

The Onalaska Independent School District’s Board of Trustees accepted a letter of resignation from Lynn Redden after a meeting Saturday morning, according to ABC 13.

Redden came under fire for a comment posted on the Houston Chronicle’s Facebook page following the Texans’ Week 2 loss to the Tennessee Titans. “You can’t count on a black quarterback,” he wrote.

The school board issued a statement earlier this week about Redden’s remarks.

“The OISD does not condone negative comments or actions toward any race,” the statement read. “The District values every individual and therefore the District will take the appropriate measures to address the situation expeditiously and completely.”

–Field Level Media

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Analysis: 2 ties down, many more could be coming in NFL 2018

Two weeks, two ties.

OK, let's get this out of the way now: Yes, the NFL is fit to be tied.

Fit tighter than most folks might think, too.

In a slopfest of an opener, the Steelers and Browns drew 21-21 . The first game of the season often can be messy and

Two weeks, two ties.

OK, let’s get this out of the way now: Yes, the NFL is fit to be tied.

Fit tighter than most folks might think, too.

In a slopfest of an opener, the Steelers and Browns drew 21-21 . The first game of the season often can be messy and painful to watch, particularly when so many key players don’t take the field much, if at all, in the preseason. This one was all of that, even if a tie was a big step in the right direction for Cleveland, which lost 31 of 32 contests entering this season.

Yet the Browns sounded more angry with the deadlock than did the Steelers.

“There’s no way that we shouldn’t have won this game,” safety Jabrill Peppers said. “We didn’t win. It is all about winning. Nobody cares about draws or ties, whatever you guys call it. We were in a (position) to win this game countless times. We just have to make the plays.”

A week later, in a more artistic affair — minus the ugly kicking by the now-released Daniel Carlson for Minnesota — the Vikings and Packers finished 29-29. Like the other tie, it was a divisional game. Unlike the other one, both of these clubs should be in the playoff hunt.

So assessing a draw left them perplexed.

“I don’t know what to feel after a tie,” Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins said. “It’s a unique place to be and proud of the way that the whole team — when I say the team, the coaching staff, the players, the support staff — the way everybody stayed in it and fought. There were times where we thought we should have won it, there were times the Packers feel like they should have won it. And it was a great game, and unfortunately we didn’t get the win.”

Green Bay’s reactions were similar.

“It’s gross,” kicker Mason Crosby offered. “I don’t like it. Obviously, you hate losing. A tie is just weird. You just don’t get them a lot.”

Ah, but you just might this season. Two in two weeks could be a harbinger.

The NFL reduced the length of overtime from 15 minutes to 10 before last season. Stunningly, there were no ties.

But the odds of more results without a winner are vastly increased. And league executives understood that when they made the change.

“What it came down to was really a player safety discussion,” said Dean Blandino, head of the league’s officiating department when the rule change was made in 2017 and now an NFL analyst for Fox. “The year prior to change, you had several games that went the full overtime periods and ended in a tie, or a game ended on a field goal at the last second. That’s an additional however many plays in that game. We had one instance when a team had to come back on Thursday night and play, so that’s a very short week for rest and then playing again.

“So we asked, ‘Are we pushing our players to play an extra quarter and having to come back, creating a chance for more injuries?’

“Yes the potential for more ties would be there in a shorter overtime, but the members of the (competition) committee and the owners didn’t think a tie was necessarily a bad thing.”

Maybe yes, maybe no. But are the alternatives worthwhile?

The NFL could adopt the college rule (won’t ever happen), which detractors have said is like having a home run derby decide a tied baseball game; too much of the natural game is eliminated. So is the sudden death element, although even that has been diluted by the current NFL overtime rule in which the team receiving the kickoff must score a touchdown for the game to end immediately.

Not that we are advocating for getting rid of that and returning to the coin toss being even more instrumental in deciding a game.

The option of continuing to play until there is a winner doesn’t work in the regular season for a variety of reasons. Player safety — player exhaustion — is the main reason, but there are broadcast considerations on a busy Sunday afternoon, too. And fan comfort, particularly in Lambeau or Soldier Field or Gillette Stadium in December.

The NFL also senses that with the shorter overtime, teams will attack more during the extra period. That seems to have been the case at Lambeau Field last Sunday. In the other tie, play was so chaotic it was difficult to tell if either side had a plan for winning.

“There were a lot of things discussed and on the table,” Blandino said of competition committee meetings about overtime. “This goes back if you look prior to 2012, the coin toss was such a big part of OT. We had less ties under that system; just, look at the stats from 1994-2011, and there were only four ties. Since 2012 and the chance to have both teams getting possession, in the next five years, we had five ties in that period.”

And in 2018, we already have two. Get ready for more.

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Colts sign TE Swoope to active roster

Colts sign TE Swoope to active roster

Tight end Erik Swoope was promoted to the Indianapolis Colts' 53-man roster from the practice squad on Saturday.

The Colts elevated Swoope to the roster with Jack Doyle considered week to week with a hip injury.

Swoope, who played basketball

Colts sign TE Swoope to active roster

Tight end Erik Swoope was promoted to the Indianapolis Colts’ 53-man roster from the practice squad on Saturday.

The Colts elevated Swoope to the roster with Jack Doyle considered week to week with a hip injury.

Swoope, who played basketball at the University of Miami, has been on and off the Colts’ roster since signing as an undrafted rookie in 2014. He was also active for Week 1. He has 16 career receptions in 18 games over five seasons.

The Colts waived cornerback Lenzy Pipkins to make room for Swoope on the roster and signed quarterback Phillip Walker to the practice squad.

–Field Level Media

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Pats’ Brady working to build rapport with Gordon

Pats' Brady working to build rapport with Gordon

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is working on developing a rapport with new wideout Josh Gordon, but indicated Friday that it will take time to assimilate Gordon into the offense.

"He's been here for a few days, so we're working at

Pats’ Brady working to build rapport with Gordon

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is working on developing a rapport with new wideout Josh Gordon, but indicated Friday that it will take time to assimilate Gordon into the offense.

“He’s been here for a few days, so we’re working at it every day,” Brady told reporters Friday, “and every day you try to make improvements.”

Acquired for a conditional fifth-round pick from the Cleveland Browns on Monday after missing Sunday’s game with a hamstring issue, Gordon is listed as questionable for Sunday night’s game in Detroit. He was limited this week in practice with a hamstring injury, and Brady sounded like he doesn’t expect the new wideout to play a major role against the Lions.

“It’s up to the coaches to decide those things,” Brady said. “You could limit the number of plays and try to do that, and I think we’ve done that plenty of times. That’s any time you get new players, that’s what you try to do.”

If Gordon is not active for at least 10 games with the Patriots, New England will get a seventh-round pick in return from Cleveland, but that likely won’t factor into whether Gordon plays Sunday.

Head coach Bill Belichick has been complimentary of Gordon’s approach since arriving in Foxborough.

“I think Josh is a smart kid,” Belichick said. “He’s worked hard. He’s picked up a lot.”

Sunday’s game is the third of four for which the Patriots are without suspended wide receiver Julian Edelman, who is eligible to return to the team Oct. 1.

–Field Level Media

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Driver who killed Colts’ Jackson sentenced to 16 years

Driver who killed Colts' Jackson sentenced to 16 years

A man who had pleaded guilty in July to causing the death of Indianapolis Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson and his Uber driver was sentenced Friday to 16 years in prison.

Manuel Orrego-Savala, 37, an illegal immigrant from Guatemala, was convicted of

Driver who killed Colts’ Jackson sentenced to 16 years

A man who had pleaded guilty in July to causing the death of Indianapolis Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson and his Uber driver was sentenced Friday to 16 years in prison.

Manuel Orrego-Savala, 37, an illegal immigrant from Guatemala, was convicted of two counts of operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of .015 or more, causing death. The judge in Marion County, Ind., sentenced him after hearing from Jackson’s mother and the widow of Jeffrey Monroe, the Uber driver who was transporting Jackson at the time of the crash.

Under the plea agreement reached with Orrego-Savala, the sentence was the maximum possible.

Orrego-Savala had a BAC of 0.19 — more than twice Indiana’s legal limit of .08 — when his truck crashed into the 26-year-old Jackson and 54-year-old driver Monroe shortly before 4 a.m. on Feb. 4. The accident happened as the two men stood on the shoulder of Interstate 70 in Indianapolis.

Police investigators said Monroe had pulled the car over when Jackson became ill. Both men were pronounced dead at the scene by the Marion County Coroner’s Office.

Orrego-Savala was deported from the U.S. in both 2007 and 2009. He was again in the country illegally at the time of the crash, which prompted President Donald Trump to chime in.

“So disgraceful that a person illegally in our country killed @Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson. This is just one of many such preventable tragedies. We must get the Dems to get tough on the Border, and with illegal immigration, FAST!” Trump tweeted.

Jackson was signed by the Colts on a reserve/future contract in January 2016 after joining the practice squad the previous month. Jackson played in 16 games (starting eight) in 2016 and was placed on injured reserve in September 2017.

–Field Level Media

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Seahawks’ Thomas misses practice again, status unclear

Seahawks' Thomas misses practice again, status unclear

The status of Seattle Seahawks free safety Earl Thomas is up in the air after he missed practice Friday.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll didn't commit regarding whether the veteran defensive back would play in the home opener Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys after

Seahawks’ Thomas misses practice again, status unclear

The status of Seattle Seahawks free safety Earl Thomas is up in the air after he missed practice Friday.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll didn’t commit regarding whether the veteran defensive back would play in the home opener Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys after Thomas missed practice for the second time this week for personal reasons.

“Yeah, he couldn’t work today,” Carroll said Friday. Regarding Thomas’ playing status, Carroll added, “We’ll see how he’s doing, make sure he’s OK.”

The coach did confirm Thomas’ absence was not injury-related, stating, “No, he’s got some other stuff we’re working on.”

Just four days before Seattle’s opener against the Broncos in Denver, Thomas came back from a holdout. He started that game and Monday night’s against the Bears in Chicago, where he played all but one defensive snap.

Thomas did not speak to reporters in Seattle’s locker room on Thursday.

The Seahawks did announce that three starters are out for Sunday’s game — linebacker K.J. Wright (knee), receiver Doug Baldwin (knee) and left guard Ethan Pocic (ankle).

Two others are listed as questionable — center Justin Britt (shoulder) and linebacker Mychal Kendricks (ankle). Bobby Wagner (groin) will play after missing the Bears game.

–Field Level Media

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Slow build: Rams, Chargers still trying to grow fans in LA

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Chargers and Rams will meet on the field on Sunday, but both teams are trying to achieve a common goal off it — trying to reignite Los Angeles' passion for the NFL.

The progress so far mirrors the tour of the LA Stadium at the Hollywood Park site

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Chargers and Rams will meet on the field on Sunday, but both teams are trying to achieve a common goal off it — trying to reignite Los Angeles’ passion for the NFL.

The progress so far mirrors the tour of the LA Stadium at the Hollywood Park site in Inglewood — a slow build.

“The wheel is starting to spin faster, and it is heading in the right direction. We understand that it is going to take time,” said Chargers chief marketing and strategy officer Jeffrey Pollack.

“The live NFL experience took a 20-year hiatus from Los Angeles. What we both share is trying to reignite the love for the live NFL experience.”

Sunday’s game at the LA Memorial Coliseum marks the sixth time that two Los Angeles teams will meet. The previous time was Nov. 13, 1994, when the Raiders defeated the Rams 20-17 at Anaheim Stadium.

Both teams cite increased season ticket and single-game sales, but the TV ratings remain low. The Nielsen rating for the Chargers’ game in Buffalo last Sunday was 7.9 while the Rams’ game against the Cardinals drew a 5.6 locally.

That was a big drop from Week 1, when the Monday Night game against the Raiders drew a 16.7.

The Chargers averaged a 6.0 locally last season in their first season back in Los Angeles. The bigger concern might be the Rams, who averaged a 9.0 when they moved to LA in 2016 but fell to 7.0 last season despite winning the NFC West.

For both teams, the ratings aren’t close to what they averaged in their former homes. The Rams had a 19.7 rating in St. Louis in 2015 and the Chargers a 24.4 in San Diego in 2016.

Both teams though are quick to point out that the television measuring audience in LA compared to the other two markets is more than five times as large.

Despite the low TV ratings, Rams Chief Operating Officer Kevin Demoff sees signs of growth elsewhere. He pointed out that attendance at training camp in Irvine increased this season and that fans were more engaged at last week’s Cardinals game despite the Rams putting it away at halftime.

“Whether it is seeing more T-shirts at the farmer’s market or hats at the beach it is great to see this team growing in the collective subconscious,” he said.

Both teams are building their hopes toward 2020, when they move into the new stadium. Tuesday’s tour was the first opportunity reporters and most team executives got to see construction from the floor of the stadium, which is half completed. Installation of the massive roof panels has already started.

The new stadium will seat 70,240, including 260 luxury suites and 13,000 premium seats.

“It looks like a stadium now,” Chargers President of Business Operations A.G. Spanos said. “To be inside the bowl and see the shape of it you can visualize what it is going to look like.”

Sunday’s game between the Chargers (1-1) and Rams (2-0) at the LA Memorial Coliseum will be another barometer in how much growth remains not only for the rest of this season, but in being able to draw fans to the new stadium.

Both teams are considered playoff contenders, and it’s possible they could meet in Super Bowl 53 in Atlanta.

In a sports marketplace that will only get more crowded next month with a probable Dodgers’ postseason appearance and LeBron James debut with the Lakers, Rams coach Sean McVay sees room for everyone.

“I think there’s a lot of opportunities because of the fans and because of all the different resources at our disposal that there’s enough room for two good football teams,” he said.

“That’s what we want to try to do — continue to try to put out a product that our fans can be proud of and something that they want to come out and support.”

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Follow Joe Reedy at www.twitter.com/joereedy

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Earl Thomas doesn’t practice; Ethan Pocic out for Seahawks

RENTON, Wash. (AP) — Seahawks free safety Earl Thomas was at practice on Friday but did not take part because of reasons of a personal nature, according to coach Pete Carroll.

Carroll left open the possibility that the issue — that he wouldn't detail — could keep Thomas from playing Sunday in the

RENTON, Wash. (AP) — Seahawks free safety Earl Thomas was at practice on Friday but did not take part because of reasons of a personal nature, according to coach Pete Carroll.

Carroll left open the possibility that the issue — that he wouldn’t detail — could keep Thomas from playing Sunday in the team’s home opener against the Dallas Cowboys.

“He couldn’t work today,” Carroll said. “… We’ll see how he’s doing. Make sure he’s OK.”

Thomas did not take part in practice on Wednesday either and was listed on the team’s injury report as being out for non-injury reasons. He returned to practice on Thursday before missing the team’s final practice of the week on Friday.

Carroll confirmed that his absence had nothing to do with an injury.

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NFL notebook: Decision on Mayfield won’t come until next week

NFL notebook: Decision on Mayfield won't come until next week

No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield gave Cleveland just its second win in 38 games on Thursday night, but Browns coach Hue Jackson isn't ready to anoint him the starter just yet.

Jackson said Friday all players were given the

NFL notebook: Decision on Mayfield won’t come until next week

No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield gave Cleveland just its second win in 38 games on Thursday night, but Browns coach Hue Jackson isn’t ready to anoint him the starter just yet.

Jackson said Friday all players were given the weekend off, and no personnel decisions would be made until at least Monday when the team convenes to prepare for a Week 4 game at Oakland.

“It is impressive what he did last night; there’s no way around that,” Jackson said. “It was a short week, not a lot of practice time, and you would think he took all the reps.”

Mayfield relieved a concussed Tyrod Taylor and rallied the Browns from a 14-point deficit past the visiting New York Jets for a 21-17 win — ending a 19-game winless streak. Mayfield, in his NFL debut, finished 17 of 23 for 201 yards in a little over one half of work for the Browns (1-1-1), who tallied their first victory since Dec. 24, 2016.

–Tennessee Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan is back from a concussion, but quarterback Marcus Mariota might not be ready to play against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.

Lewan missed last week’s game recovering from a head injury suffered at Miami in Week 1. Mariota wore a glove with two fingers cut out of it hoping to improve his grip on Thursday and Friday. He’s been slow to bounce back from an elbow injury against the Dolphins.

Right tackle Jack Conklin missed the first two games of the season and wants to play, but is listed as questionable. He has not played since suffering a torn ACL at New England in January.

–Jacksonville running back Leonard Fournette is in jeopardy of missing his second straight game when the Jaguars host the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.

Fournette is listed as questionable with a hamstring injury but a decision on his availability isn’t expected until Sunday. Backup running back T.J. Yeldon (ankle) and star cornerback Jalen Ramsey (ankle) also are listed as questionable as are cornerback D.J. Hayden (toe) and right guard A.J. Cann (triceps).

If Yeldon (team-best 109 yards) and Fournette (41) are both on the sidelines, Corey Grant will take over as the feature back. Grant has 16 yards on five carries in two games.

–After missing Thursday’s practice with a heel injury, San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman returned to the practice field on Friday and was removed from the team’s injury report, signaling he will play Sunday when the team travels to Kansas City to face the Chiefs.

The 30-year-old Sherman was a full participant Friday after sitting out a day earlier. Over the past 10 months, Sherman has undergone surgeries to both of his Achilles tendons, in addition to battling hamstring issues during the summer.

In other 49ers injury updates, wide receiver Marquise Goodwin (quadriceps) and safety Jaquiski Tartt (shoulder) were listed as questionable for Sunday after being limited in Friday’s practice. San Francisco also declared it will be without guard Joshua Garnett (toe) for a second straight week.

–The Indianapolis Colts will be without a few key offensive pieces for Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Left tackle Anthony Castonzo (hamstring), tight end Jack Doyle (hip) and running back Marlon Mack (foot, hamstring) have been ruled out, team owner Jim Irsay tweeted on Friday. Cornerback Quincy Wilson (concussion), defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway (calf) and defensive lineman Denico Autry (ankle) were also ruled out.

Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (quad) returned to practice on Friday and is no longer on the injury report.

–The Carolina Panthers placed starting safety Da’Norris Searcy on injured reserve following his second concussion in five weeks.

Searcy was injured in Sunday’s 31-24 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. The Panthers expect to have rookie Rashann Gaulden and veteran Colin Jones split time at that position during Sunday’s home game against Cincinnati.

Searcy was also injured in Carolina’s preseason game against the Miami Dolphins on Aug. 17 and entered the concussion protocol.

–Philadelphia Eagles running back Corey Clement landed on the injury report with a quadriceps injury and is questionable for Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts.

Clement was expected to start with Jay Ajayi (back) and Darren Sproles (hamstring) already ruled out. If Clement can’t play, the Eagles would likely make a roster move to add a running back to the 53-man roster.

Either way, the Eagles are getting closer to good news at wide receiver. Alshon Jeffery, out since shortly after the Super Bowl due to shoulder surgery, was upgraded to questionable after being inactive the first two weeks of the regular season.

–Minnesota Vikings’ running back Dalvin Cook and defensive end Everson Griffen are out for Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills.

Cook left the overtime tie at Green Bay last week with a hamstring injury he described as a cramp. But Cook was unable to complete a practice this week, giving way to backup Latavius Murray.

Griffen was also out of practice on Friday and ruled out for Week 3. He’s dealing with a toe injury.

–Dallas defensive end Randy Gregory is expected to play Sunday when the Cowboys visit the Seattle Seahawks after he missed last week’s win over the New York Giants because of a concussion.

Gregory, 25, was cleared from the NFL’s concussion protocol last Friday but sat out the Cowboys’ 20-13 win over the Giants. The pass rusher suffered a concussion in Week 1 at Carolina in his first game since he participated in two games in 2016.

The Cowboys will be without defensive tackle Maliek Collins, who was ruled out for Sunday’s game because of a knee injury. Dallas listed two others as questionable — wide receiver Cole Beasley (ankle) and safety Xavier Woods (hamstring) — while linebacker Sean Lee (hamstring) is no longer listed on the report.

–The New York Giants ruled outside linebacker Olivier Vernon and cornerback Eli Apple out for Sunday’s road game against the Houston Texans.

Vernon will miss his third straight game with a high ankle sprain, while Apple will be sidelined with a groin injury suffered during last Sunday’s contest against the Dallas Cowboys.

Connor Barwin and Lorenzo Carter will again see action in Vernon’s spot. B.W. Webb and Donte Deayon will step in for Apple.

–After two blowout losses to open the season, some Arizona Cardinals fans are calling for No. 10 overall draft pick Josh Rosen to get a shot as the starting quarterback.

Arizona GM Steve Keim told fans not to get their hopes up during a radio appearance on Friday.

“It’s a tough question. When the time is right, Josh will have his opportunity,” Keim said. “At the same time, you never know how a guy is going to be affected. Some guys have played too early and it has crippled their career. I’m not going to name names, but I think a lot of us can think of certain players. Then there are guys who have come in and had success right away. But usually it’s a rocky road.

“I don’t think there is any exact science to that, but I think there is certainly a feeling of knowing when the time is right.”

–Minnesota Vikings safety Andrew Sendejo was fined $53,482 by the NFL for a hit on Green Bay Packers receiver Davante Adams last Sunday, multiple outlets reported.

Sendejo was penalized 15 yards for unnecessary roughness when the play occurred during the third quarter of the 29-29 tie.

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said Wednesday on his weekly radio show that an official told Sendejo he did everything right while making the tackle. The heavy fine is partially due to Sendejo being a repeat offender. He was cited twice last season and received a one-game suspension for the second offense.

–Atlanta Falcons safety Damontae Kazee was fined $10,026 for his hit on quarterback Cam Newton in last Sunday’s win over the Carolina Panthers.

The second-year safety Kazee, who was ejected from the Week 2 game against Carolina, is appealing the fine, NFL Network reported. Falcons defensive end Takk McKinley was also fined $10,026, and McKinley was ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Saints due to a groin injury.

Running back Devonta Freeman (knee), defensive end Derrick Shelby (groin) and linebacker Corey Nelson (calf) will also miss the contest.

–Field Level Media

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Panthers S Searcy (concussion) placed on IR

Panthers S Searcy (concussion) placed on IR

For the Carolina Panthers, another day meant another player lost to injury.

On Friday, multiple outlets reported that the Panthers placed starting safety Da'Norris Searcy on injured reserve following his second concussion in five weeks.

Searcy, 29, was injured in

Panthers S Searcy (concussion) placed on IR

For the Carolina Panthers, another day meant another player lost to injury.

On Friday, multiple outlets reported that the Panthers placed starting safety Da’Norris Searcy on injured reserve following his second concussion in five weeks.

Searcy, 29, was injured in Sunday’s 31-24 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. The Panthers (1-1), who have not signed a player to replace Searcy on the roster that’s currently at 52, expect to have rookie Rashann Gaulden and veteran Colin Jones split time at that position during Sunday’s home game against Cincinnati (2-0).

Searcy was also injured in Carolina’s preseason game against the Miami Dolphins on Aug. 17 and entered the concussion protocol.

Other Carolina players who have been hurt and are on injured reserve include cornerback Ross Cockrell (broken leg in training camp) and starting offensive tackles Matt Kalil and Daryl Williams (both knee injuries).

Only two of those players can be activated later in the season. Cockrell will not return, though, and Williams is also expected to be out for the season.

–Field Level Media

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Cowboys DE Gregory to play Sunday; DT Collins out (knee)

Cowboys DE Gregory to play Sunday; DT Collins out (knee)

Dallas defensive end Randy Gregory is expected to play Sunday when the Cowboys visit the Seattle Seahawks after he missed Monday's win over the New York Giants because of a concussion.

Gregory, 25, was cleared from the NFL's concussion protocol

Cowboys DE Gregory to play Sunday; DT Collins out (knee)

Dallas defensive end Randy Gregory is expected to play Sunday when the Cowboys visit the Seattle Seahawks after he missed Monday’s win over the New York Giants because of a concussion.

Gregory, 25, was cleared from the NFL’s concussion protocol last Friday but sat out the Cowboys’ 20-13 win over the Giants. The pass rusher suffered a concussion in Week 1 at Carolina in his first game since he participated in two games in 2016.

Gregory had missed most of the previous two seasons after numerous substance-related suspensions.

The Cowboys will be without defensive tackle Maliek Collins, who was ruled out for Sunday’s game because of a knee injury. After sitting out for the entire preseason while rehabbing after surgery to help repair a broken foot, the 23-year-old Collins hurt his knee against the Giants on Monday.

The Cowboys listed three others as questionable to play against the Seahawks on Sunday. Linebacker and team co-captain Sean Lee was limited at practice this week because of a hamstring issue, although he reportedly expects to play. Wide receiver Cole Beasley hurt his ankle at Thursday’s practice, leaving his status for Sunday in question.

The Cowboys hope to see the season debut of safety Xavier Woods, who has been out since injuring his hamstring early in the preseason.

Travis Frederick, Dallas’ four-time Pro Bowl center, was ruled out for the third straight game because of a nerve disorder.

–Field Level Media

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Vikings S Sendejo fined $53,482 for hit

Vikings S Sendejo fined $53,482 for hit

Minnesota Vikings safety Andrew Sendejo was fined $53,482 by the NFL for a hit on Green Bay Packers receiver Davante Adams last Sunday, multiple outlets reported on Friday.

Sendejo was penalized 15 yards for unnecessary roughness when the play occurred during the third

Vikings S Sendejo fined $53,482 for hit

Minnesota Vikings safety Andrew Sendejo was fined $53,482 by the NFL for a hit on Green Bay Packers receiver Davante Adams last Sunday, multiple outlets reported on Friday.

Sendejo was penalized 15 yards for unnecessary roughness when the play occurred during the third quarter of the 29-29 tie.

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said Wednesday on his weekly radio show that an official told Sendejo he did everything right while making the tackle.

The heavy fine is partially due to Sendejo being a repeat offender. He was cited twice last season and received a one-game suspension for the second offense.

–Field Level Media

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Another injury: Panthers send safety Da’Norris Searcy to IR

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The Panthers continue to struggle with injuries, placing starting safety Da'Norris Searcy on injured reserve following his second concussion in five weeks.

Searcy was injured in the team's 31-24 loss to the Atlanta Falcons last Sunday. The Panthers (1-1) have not yet signed anyone to replace Searcy.

Rookie Rashaan

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The Panthers continue to struggle with injuries, placing starting safety Da’Norris Searcy on injured reserve following his second concussion in five weeks.

Searcy was injured in the team’s 31-24 loss to the Atlanta Falcons last Sunday. The Panthers (1-1) have not yet signed anyone to replace Searcy.

Rookie Rashaan Gaulden and veteran Colin Jones are expected to split snaps at safety on Sunday against Cincinnati (2-0).

Carolina previously lost cornerback Ross Cockrell in training camp to a broken leg and starting offensive tackles Matt Kalil and Daryl Williams to knee injuries. All are on injured reserve. The Panthers can only bring two of those players back later in the season. They don’t have to make a decision until later this season, but Cockrell won’t be ready to return and Williams is likely done as well.

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Vikings’ Sendejo fined $53,482 by NFL for hit vs. Packers

NEW YORK (AP) — Vikings safety Andrew Sendejo has been fined $53,482 by the NFL for his hit during a play in Minnesota's tie at Green Bay last Sunday.

Sendejo was penalized 15 yards for unnecessary roughness after tackling Packers wide receiver Davante Adams in the third quarter. The safety knocked into Adams

NEW YORK (AP) — Vikings safety Andrew Sendejo has been fined $53,482 by the NFL for his hit during a play in Minnesota’s tie at Green Bay last Sunday.

Sendejo was penalized 15 yards for unnecessary roughness after tackling Packers wide receiver Davante Adams in the third quarter. The safety knocked into Adams with his right shoulder just after Xavier Rhodes made initial contact.

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said during his weekly radio show Wednesday that Sendejo was told by an official after the play that he did everything right on the tackle. It still resulted in a fine by the NFL, and it was a hefty one because Sendejo is considered a repeat offender.

Among those not fined Friday were Packers linebacker Clay Matthews and Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks — both of whom were flagged for roughing the passer.

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Falcons S Kazee fined $10K

Falcons S Kazee fined $10K

Atlanta Falcons safety Damontae Kazee was fined $10,026 for his hit on quarterback Cam Newton in last Sunday's win over the Carolina Panthers.

The second-year safety Kazee, who was ejected from the Week 2 game against Carolina, is appealing the fine, NFL Network reported.

Falcons S Kazee fined $10K

Atlanta Falcons safety Damontae Kazee was fined $10,026 for his hit on quarterback Cam Newton in last Sunday’s win over the Carolina Panthers.

The second-year safety Kazee, who was ejected from the Week 2 game against Carolina, is appealing the fine, NFL Network reported.

Panthers wide receiver Torrey Smith was fined the same amount — $10,026 — for his retaliation, flying in to shove Kazee, drawing a penalty flag for unnecessary roughness.

Falcons defensive end Takk McKinley was also fined $10,026. On Friday, McKinley was ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Saints due to a groin injury.

–Field Level Media

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49ers CB Sherman back at practice; WR Goodwin questionable

49ers CB Sherman back at practice; WR Goodwin questionable

After missing Thursday's practice with a heel injury, San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman returned to the practice field on Friday and was removed from the team's injury report, signaling he will play Sunday when the team travels to Kansas City to face the

49ers CB Sherman back at practice; WR Goodwin questionable

After missing Thursday’s practice with a heel injury, San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman returned to the practice field on Friday and was removed from the team’s injury report, signaling he will play Sunday when the team travels to Kansas City to face the Chiefs.

The 30-year-old Sherman was a full participant Friday after sitting out a day earlier.

Over the past 10 months, Sherman has undergone surgeries to both of his Achilles tendons, in addition to battling hamstring issues during the summer. He has played in all 148 of the Niners’ defensive snaps this season, allowing just one reception in the team’s first two games.

In other 49ers injury updates, wide receiver Marquise Goodwin (quadricep) and safety Jaquiski Tartt (shoulder) were listed as questionable for Sunday after being limited in Friday’s practice.

Goodwin did not play in last Sunday’s 30-27 win over Detroit.

The Niners also declared they will be without guard Joshua Garnett (toe) for a second straight week.

–Field Level Media

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Webb will be targeted replacing Eli Apple at cornerback

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — New York Giants cornerback B.W. Webb is going to be targeted by the Houston Texans this weekend.

It's a given.

Starting cornerback Eli Apple is going to miss the game with a hamstring injury and Webb seemingly is going to replace him in the starting lineup. That gives

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — New York Giants cornerback B.W. Webb is going to be targeted by the Houston Texans this weekend.

It’s a given.

Starting cornerback Eli Apple is going to miss the game with a hamstring injury and Webb seemingly is going to replace him in the starting lineup. That gives Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson two options. Throw at Pro Bowl cornerback Janoris Jenkins or go after Webb, a five-year veteran who didn’t play a down last season in limited time with Cleveland.

It’s a no brainer. It was the strategy Dak Prescott and the Cowboys used successfully after Apple left Sunday night’s game.

While the Texans (0-2) have two outstanding receivers in DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller, Webb has typical cornerback confidence. He believes he can fill in well for the Giants (0-2).

“I don’t go into any situation thinking I am going to be a backup,” Webb said Friday. “It’s kind of been the tale everywhere I went. Where I go, somebody goes down, and I step up, whether the starter, nickel, outside. It’s just the nature of football.”

Webb came into the NFL as a fourth-round pick by Dallas out of William & Mary in 2013. He has played in 53 NFL games with Dallas, Pittsburgh, Tennessee, New Orleans and now the Giants. He has 10 career starts.

Coach Pat Shurmur believes in the guys and his pass defense, which is allowing an average of 164 yards, No. 2 in the league.

“We’ve got guys that we trust and we’re going to put them in there and we trust that they’re going to go out there and play well,” he said.

Shurmur also can use cornerback Donte Deayon, who has a nose for the ball. He dropped an interception against Dallas.

“He’s a good cover guy and he has a good knack for getting his hands on the ball,” Shurmur said. “Even though he hasn’t secured some of the interceptions, he’s at least getting his hands on the ball. We’ve just got to finish those with picks. That’s really his strong suit, is being able to cover.”

The Giants have to worry about more than covering the pass. The Texans have averaged an NFL-best 157.5 yards rushing. The Giants are allowing 137.5 yards rushing, 29th in the league.

Opposing quarterbacks have hurt New York with their legs. Blake Bortles of the Jaguars had four carries for 42 yards and Prescott had seven for 45. That’s 87 yards on 11 carries, a 7.9 yard average.

Defensive coordinator James Bettcher has spent a lot of time in recent weeks working on zone reads for is defense.

“I got to coach it better, and then collectively as a group, we’ve got to execute it better,” Bettcher said. “There’s no magic pixie dust to sprinkle on it, nothing like that. It is coach it better, and execute it better. That’s a very simple solution, to be very honest with you.”

Defensive captain Landon Collins believes the unit has finally fixed the problem. The Giants just have to stop the run Sunday.

“They’re the top rushing team for a reason,” Collins said. “They’re doing really good at what they do best. Like I said, we just got to do what we do best on defense, stop the run, and try to get them in long distances so we can get off the field.”

NOTES: LB Olivier Vernon is going to miss his third straight game with a high ankle sprain. He admitted he is frustrated not playing, but once again deferred questions about his injury and possible return to Shurmur. … LB Connor Barwin (knee) practiced fully after being limited Thursday. TE Evan Engram (ankle) also is ready.

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Holding Call: Browns delay naming Mayfield new starting QB

CLEVELAND (AP) — The beer-fueled bash spilled into the streets around FirstEnergy Stadium as delirious Browns fans walked — some staggered — while chanting for their new hero, the streak buster.

"Ba-ker May-field," they screamed.

They've named their new starting quarterback. Coach Hue Jackson isn't quite there yet.

Jackson said he isn't ready

CLEVELAND (AP) — The beer-fueled bash spilled into the streets around FirstEnergy Stadium as delirious Browns fans walked — some staggered — while chanting for their new hero, the streak buster.

“Ba-ker May-field,” they screamed.

They’ve named their new starting quarterback. Coach Hue Jackson isn’t quite there yet.

Jackson said he isn’t ready to “officially” identify his starter for next week’s game in Oakland, but all signs point to Mayfield taking over in Cleveland following his dazzling NFL debut on Thursday night.

The No. 1 pick in this year’s draft replaced concussed starter Tyrod Taylor late in the first half and led the Browns (1-1-1) on four scoring drives as they erased a two-touchdown deficit to beat the New York Jets 21-17 and end Cleveland’s 19-game winless streak — the NFL’s second longest since 1970.

Jackson seems to only be delaying the inevitable: Mayfield’s the guy.

And if Jackson doesn’t’ pick the celebrated and uber-confident rookie, he won’t have to jump in Lake Erie again. Browns fans will throw him in. This one’s a no-brainer.

Jackson, who gave his players the weekend off, wants to watch more tape and speak with his staff and general manager John Dorsey before making a decision that Mayfield has already made for him.

Although Jackson wouldn’t publicly say Mayfield is his new starter, he gave strong indication he’s leaning that way by telling reporters on a conference call, “I think that you guys all feel good about where things are headed.”

It’s Baker time.

Out of respect for Taylor, who is in concussion protocol with his third head injury in 13 months, Jackson wants to tell his two quarterbacks his decision in person on Monday before sharing it with the world.

Cleveland’s plan was to bring Mayfield along slowly and groom him under Taylor, who guided Buffalo to the playoffs last season. But Taylor’s injury along with his struggles in three starts has altered the Browns’ strategy.

Taylor has completed 41 of 84 passes for 462 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, adding 125 yards rushing on 16 carries.

But even before he was knocked from Thursday’s game, Cleveland’s offense was going nowhere as Taylor was 4 of 14 for 19 yards and was sacked three times. Jackson sidestepped addressing whether he was going to pull Taylor at halftime, but it had to be running through his mind because anyone watching the game was thinking the same thing.

Mayfield’s first regular-season game as a pro couldn’t have gone much better. He completed 17 of 23 passes for 201 yards and was sacked once in just a little more than one half. His stats could have been more impressive if not for a drop by sure-handed receiver Jarvis Landry, and rookie Antonio Callaway letting a long throw down the sideline slip through his hands.

“He made some tremendous throws,” Jackson said. “Obviously, he was able to move the team. Played with some rhythm. Got the ball into the playmakers’ hands and gave them chances to make plays. There are some things that he has to clean up, obviously. We can’t have the ball out on the ground. There are some progression things that we will work through.

“Overall for his first game out under the lights in that environment in that situation, he handled all of that extremely well and played well.”

Most impressively, Mayfield did it on a short work week and without taking any snaps in practice with Cleveland’s first-team offense. In fact, the 2-point conversion try he caught in the third quarter came on the first time he had ever run the play.

But just as he did while winning the Heisman Trophy at Oklahoma, Mayfield elevated everyone around him, and in turn electrified 60,000 fans and a national TV audience.

Mayfield took it all in stride, displaying humility that some wondered if he had after some questionable on-field antics while he starred for the Sooners. This game ranked with any of his wins.

“This one is definitely up there, being the first NFL game that I have played in,” he said. “First regular-season one that actually counts. It is definitely up there for me. I have had some great memories, but I am just getting started.”

NOTES: Other than Taylor, LB James Burgess (knee) was the only other notable injury against the Jets. Burgess started for LB Christian Kirksey, who missed his second straight game with an ankle injury. … Jackson said he’s not worried about giving his players so much freedom over the weekend. “We can’t follow them around. We can’t baby them,” he said. “At the same time, we know who the guys are who we have to have an idea of where they are and what they have been doing. They have been good about letting us know, and we will definitely stay in contact with the majority of the guys.”

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Falcons RB Freeman, DE McKinley to sit Sunday vs. Saints

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — Atlanta running back Devonta Freeman will miss his second straight game with a knee injury, and the Falcons also will be without starting defensive end Takk McKinley when they host the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.

Coach Dan Quinn declared both players out Friday, extending a rash of injuries that

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — Atlanta running back Devonta Freeman will miss his second straight game with a knee injury, and the Falcons also will be without starting defensive end Takk McKinley when they host the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.

Coach Dan Quinn declared both players out Friday, extending a rash of injuries that have plagued the Falcons (1-1) already this season.

Freeman went down with a bruised knee in a Week 1 loss to Philadelphia, while McKinley sustained a groin injury that kept him off the field in the closing stages of last weekend’s 31-24 victory over Carolina.

Tevin Coleman took over as the primary running back against the Panthers, rushing for 107 yards, and rookie Ito Smith also was effective. The loss of McKinley means Brooks Reed will likely move into a starting role vs. the Saints.

The Falcons also will be missing backup end Derrick Shelby, ruled out with a groin injury, and reserve linebacker Corey Nelson (calf).

Atlanta already has lost safety Keanu Neal and offensive guard Andy Levitre to season-ending injuries. Linebacker Deion Jones (foot) will have to miss at least eight games after going on injured reserve.

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Steelers’ defense eager to prove itself after dismal showing

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Members of the Pittsburgh Steelers' defense are eager to play again. They're going to have to wait an extra day.

They want to put a forgettable performance against Kansas City in the past and prove themselves this week against an upstart Tampa Bay offense. The Steelers will see where they

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Members of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense are eager to play again. They’re going to have to wait an extra day.

They want to put a forgettable performance against Kansas City in the past and prove themselves this week against an upstart Tampa Bay offense. The Steelers will see where they stand during their first prime-time appearance of the season Monday night against veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and the undefeated Buccaneers.

“We want to get that rotten taste out of our mouths and just get back to playing football,” defensive end Cam Heyward said on Friday. “It’s a great opportunity against a good offense.”

The two-time defending AFC North champions are winless through two weeks. The Steelers (0-1-1) are off to their worst start since 2013, which was also the last time they missed the playoffs.

Last week, Chiefs first-year starter Patrick Mahomes became the second player to throw for six touchdowns against Pittsburgh, and the first since Hall of Famer Jim Kelly did it for Buffalo in 1991. Mahomes threw his six scores to five players and finished with more touchdowns than incomplete passes.

“We’ve got a lot of stuff to prove,” linebacker Bud Dupree said. “There’s a lot of speculation of us not being a good defense, but we know in our heart and soul that we have one of the best defenses.”

The Steelers statistically boasted a top-10 defense last season. They ranked No. 5 in yards and two spots back at No. 7 in points, while also establishing a franchise record for sacks in a season.

This season has been much different. The defense has allowed an average of 31.5 points and close to 400 yards per contest through two games.

“We just want to be established and known as one of the best defenses,” cornerback Joe Haden said. “We haven’t really put that on tape for the first two games. The quicker we can get back out there, the quicker we can show everybody what we can do.”

Haden expects to play Monday after missing last week’s game against Kansas City with a hamstring injury. The ninth-year veteran was a full practice participant for the second straight day Friday. Haden will be a welcome addition to a defense that had communication issues, lacked a consistent pass rush and couldn’t get off the field.

Defensive coordinator Keith Butler said this week that he simplified the game plan to allow players to play fast, improve communication and eliminate big plays through the secondary. Butler felt his players tried to overcompensate and do too much at times against the Chiefs.

“I jumped offsides when we were down because I was trying to time the snap and get to the quarterback,” Dupree said. “Somebody has to make a play and I was trying to put it on my shoulders and make a play, and sometimes that’s trying to do too much.”

Tampa Bay (2-0) is off to its best start in eight years and features the NFL’s top-ranked offense. The Bucs are unbeaten thanks in large part to Fitzpatrick, the 35-year-old journeyman who has thrived with suspended quarterback Jameis Winston sidelined. Fitzpatrick is playing the best football of his 14-year career, throwing for 819 yards and eight touchdowns in Tampa Bay’s first two games.

The Steelers insist their defense is prepared for the challenge.

“We’re just ready to go,” Heyward said. “I’m ready to move forward. I think we cleaned up a lot of problems. We had a lot to address, but it won’t be addressed until Monday. Hopefully, we can put on a good performance.”

NOTES: S Morgan Burnett (groin), G David DeCastro (hand), T Marcus Gilbert (hamstring) and DE Stephon Tuitt (illness) did not practice on Friday. G Ramon Foster (knee) and DE Tyson Alualu (shoulder) were full practice participants for the second straight day.

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Packers TE Jimmy Graham having immediate impact on offense

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — In his first two games with the Green Bay Packers, Jimmy Graham's impact on the offense has been obvious — in two very different ways.

He caught just two passes for 8 yards in the season opener against Chicago, but the attention Graham drew allowed wide receivers Randall

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — In his first two games with the Green Bay Packers, Jimmy Graham’s impact on the offense has been obvious — in two very different ways.

He caught just two passes for 8 yards in the season opener against Chicago, but the attention Graham drew allowed wide receivers Randall Cobb, Davante Adams and Geronimo Allison to have big days.

Last week against Minnesota, Graham caught six passes for 95 yards and had a more direct role in the offense’s production — and that’s without counting a 12-yard touchdown pass that was wiped out by a holding penalty.

After having been taken aback by the Bears’ approach, Graham is hoping the Washington Redskins follow Minnesota’s lead when the Packers travel to FedEx Field on Sunday.

“It’s always nice to contribute and do your job and to be that guy that’s looked upon to make big plays. We’ll see,” Graham said Friday in his first interview session with reporters since July 28. “I just want to come in and do my job. If that’s block, pass protect or chipping, I’m going to do it to the best of my ability.”

With the attention the Bears devoted to Graham, Cobb (nine receptions, 142 yards), Adams (five catches, 88 yards) and Allison (five catches, 69 yards) all caught at least five passes and each caught a touchdown pass. With Graham getting more opportunities against Minnesota, only Adams (eight catches, 64 yards, one touchdown on 12 targets) had the ball thrown his way more often than Graham did.

The Packers’ prized free agent acquisition said he was surprised how the Bears were moving safeties away from the middle of the field to chip him at the line.

“I was like, ‘Don’t you want to rush the quarterback?’ But that’s what I feel like I’m here for, to kind of open things up, and if the middle’s open, to punish them. And if they’re going to close it down, then it’s 1 on 1 on the outside,” Graham said.

Now, the Packers want to keep Graham going. Had his touchdown not been nullified by a holding call on guard Lane Taylor, Graham would have finished with seven receptions for 107 yards and a TD. That would have given him his first 100-yard receiving game since he had 103 for Seattle against Buffalo on Nov. 7, 2016.

“That’s (still) a pretty productive day for a tight end. That projects pretty good if you project that out for a season,” offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said. “Obviously he had the one touchdown called back; (we) would love for him to score touchdowns. You can add that to this week’s to-do list.”

The 6-foot-7 Graham provides a big target for Aaron Rodgers. Philbin said Graham has acclimated himself well to teammates.

“Having him in there, obviously, it opens up that window for me outside, it gets Cobb open on the other side and the middle, as well,” Adams said about Graham. “It wasn’t exactly a point of emphasis (leading up to the Vikings game), but we wanted to get our guy going.”

NOTES: Rodgers (left knee) was listed as questionable for a second straight week, though coach Mike McCarthy expects his quarterback to take part in the team’s final practice on Saturday. It’s the same plan that Rodgers followed last week before playing well against the Vikings. “So hopefully we can get out there tomorrow and have similar work that we had last week and we roll right into the game. That’s the outlook,” McCarthy said Friday. … CB Kevin King (groin) is out for the Redskins game. CB Davon House (biceps) and LB Oren Burks (shoulder) are questionable, though both appear to be in line to play on Sunday. S Josh Jones (ankle) is questionable.

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Titans’ QB situation for Jaguars game remains uncertain

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans still don't know who will start at quarterback Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Marcus Mariota was limited all week with an arm injury and is questionable for the second straight game. Blaine Gabbert started in place of Mariota in Tennessee's 20-17 victory over the Houston Texans

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans still don’t know who will start at quarterback Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Marcus Mariota was limited all week with an arm injury and is questionable for the second straight game. Blaine Gabbert started in place of Mariota in Tennessee’s 20-17 victory over the Houston Texans .

Titans coach Mike Vrabel said a decision could come in the next 24 hours.

The Titans will have left tackle Taylor Lewan back Sunday now that he’s been cleared from the league’s concussion protocol. Lewan had missed the Houston game after sustaining a hit from Miami Dolphins linebacker Andre Branch in the season opener .

The Titans ruled out running back David Fluellen (hamstring) and tackle Dennis Kelly (illness). Linebacker Kamalei Correa missed practice Friday and is questionable with a back injury.

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Gore, Lynch still going strong in their 30s

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) — The shelf life for running backs in the modern NFL is short. Get drafted, start playing and hope to get a second contract. By the time most backs reach their 30s, they're typically out of the league living in retirement.

Frank Gore and Marshawn Lynch are defying those odds,

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) — The shelf life for running backs in the modern NFL is short. Get drafted, start playing and hope to get a second contract. By the time most backs reach their 30s, they’re typically out of the league living in retirement.

Frank Gore and Marshawn Lynch are defying those odds, still producing at the respective ages of 35 and 32. The two will share a field on Sunday when Lynch’s Oakland Raiders (0-2) visit Gore and the Miami Dolphins (2-0).

“That’s my man. Marshawn is my man,” Gore said this week. “I know him. He’s a friend of mine. I love the way he plays the game of football. I’m happy that he came back because I knew that he still could play the game. I’m happy that a dude who came in back when I came in is still going. That’s a plus for us.”

Gore has carried 18 times for 86 yards this season. He moved into fourth place on the career rushing list last week, passing Hall of Famer Curtis Martin with 14,112 yards in his career.

Only Hall of Famers Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton and Barry Sanders are ahead of Gore, who has never led the NFL in rushing but has 12 straight seasons with at least 800 yards. Only Smith was more consistent in his career with 13 straight 800-yard seasons.

“He is one of my favorites,” said Raiders coach Jon Gruden, who faced Gore twice when he coached in Tampa Bay more than a decade ago. “He has been able to adapt and prove that he can play in any offense. He’s been one of the great two-back I (formation) runners that I’ve seen in my time as a coach. Then (QB) Alex Smith came along and they morphed into a shotgun operation. He played with (QB Colin) Kaepernick, he proved that he could play in that style of offense. Did some really good things, quietly, in Indianapolis, I think. It’s really cool to see him back in Miami where it all started.”

Lynch, who sat out the 2016 season, has 29 carries for 106 yards the first two weeks and has scored touchdowns in each game. On Oakland’s opening drive of the season, Lynch scored on a 10-yard run against the Rams. He was stood up at the 3 but still managed to bowl his way into the end zone with help from a rugby-style push from his offensive linemen.

“I know this, he’s extremely hard to tackle still,” Dolphins coach Adam Gase said. “He almost popped out a big one last week again. He’s a dangerous guy to deal with. He’s a big man that does not like to touch the ground. I’ve seen him way too much it seems like.”

The Raiders want to see even more out of Lynch this week as they try for their first win of the season. He went from 11 carries in the opener to 18 last week in Denver, but still has only one run longer than 10 yards.

Right tackle Donald Penn said that’s more of a reflection on the way the line has blocked than how Lynch has run.

“We need to help him out a lot more,” Penn said. “We have to be more consistent. We kind of have that roller-coaster thing going again, like we have in the past. But when we’re consistent he’s looking really good. But he is doing a lot of good things for us. Our main thing is to just try and get him to the second level. When he gets to the second level, I would bet on him against anybody.”

The only other running back age 32 or older with more than five carries the first two weeks is 33-year-old Adrian Peterson, who has 37 carries for 116 yards in Washington so far.

This is not new for Gore and Lynch, who were the two most productive running backs in their 30s last year, with Gore leading the old-timers with 961 yards and Lynch close behind at 891.

Gore has rushed for 5,273 yards since turning 30 in 2013, a total topped only by Smith (5,789) and John Riggins (5,683). Gore has a chance to top that list by the end of this season.

“I still want to have success,” Gore said. “I still feel good. I still feel I can play with the young guys. Like I said, when my number gets called, I try my best to make some plays.”

NOTES: Raiders DT P.J. Hall is out for Sunday’s game with an ankle injury. … CB Nick Nelson is questionable with an injured hamstring.

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AP Sports Writer Steven Wine in Miami contributed to this report

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Maliek Collins out, Randy Gregory in for Cowboys at Seahawks

Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Maliek Collins has been ruled out of Sunday's game at Seattle with a knee injury and pass rusher Randy Gregory is set to return after missing a week with a concussion.

Collins missed the preseason recovering from surgery for a broken foot sustained during offseason workouts. He injured the knee in

Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Maliek Collins has been ruled out of Sunday’s game at Seattle with a knee injury and pass rusher Randy Gregory is set to return after missing a week with a concussion.

Collins missed the preseason recovering from surgery for a broken foot sustained during offseason workouts. He injured the knee in last week’s win over the New York Giants.

Gregory had missed 30 of the previous 32 games because of substance-abuse suspensions before sustaining a concussion in the season-opening loss at Carolina. He was a full participant in practice all week.

Safety Xavier Woods could make his season debut against the Seahawks after sitting the first two games with a hamstring injury. Woods is listed as questionable along with linebacker Sean Lee (hamstring) and receiver Cole Beasley, who injured an ankle in practice Thursday. Lee was limited in practice this week but said he expected to play.

Four-time Pro Bowl center Travis Frederick will miss his third straight game with a nerve disorder that has sidelined him indefinitely.

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Guatemalan gets 16 years in crash that killed Colts player

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A man from Guatemala living illegally in the U.S. was sentenced Friday to the maximum of 16 years in prison for a drunken-driving crash that killed Indianapolis Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson and his Uber driver.

A Marion County judge sentenced Manuel Orrego-Savala after hearing emotional testimony from Jackson's mother and

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A man from Guatemala living illegally in the U.S. was sentenced Friday to the maximum of 16 years in prison for a drunken-driving crash that killed Indianapolis Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson and his Uber driver.

A Marion County judge sentenced Manuel Orrego-Savala after hearing emotional testimony from Jackson’s mother and the widow of Jeffrey Monroe, a 54-year-old the Uber driver who was driving Jackson the night of the deadly crash.

Orrego-Savala, 37, had pleaded guilty in July to two counts of operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of .15 or more, causing death. The sentence marked the maximum possible under his plea agreement.

Investigators said his blood-alcohol content was 0.19 when his truck crashed into Jackson and Monroe in February along Interstate 70 in Indianapolis. Monroe had pulled over because the 26-year-old Jackson was ill.

Monroe’s widow, Deborah Monroe, leered at Orrego-Savala after she took the witness stand while holding a photo of herself and her late husband of 23 years. She told the court that the deadly crash had killed “the greatest love of my life” and left her and her relatives grief-stricken.

“My family and I are serving a life sentence because of you,” she said, calling Orrego-Savala, “a drunk, a liar, a murderer and a coward.”

Orrego-Savala was deported from the U.S. in 2007 and 2009. He was also in the country illegally at the time of the crash, authorities said. The case became a flash point in the nation’s immigration debate, with President Donald Trump tweeting about it and Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike Braun featuring it in an Indiana campaign advertisement.

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Yes, folks, Belichick does know Gordon is with Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — It took a few days before Bill Belichick finally admitted Friday that troubled but talented wide receiver Josh Gordon is a New England Patriot.

The trade bringing Gordon, who played in just 11 games with the Cleveland Browns since 2013 due to NFL suspensions, was announced by both teams on Monday.

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — It took a few days before Bill Belichick finally admitted Friday that troubled but talented wide receiver Josh Gordon is a New England Patriot.

The trade bringing Gordon, who played in just 11 games with the Cleveland Browns since 2013 due to NFL suspensions, was announced by both teams on Monday. Gordon and a seventh-round draft pick went to New England for a fifth-rounder. The New England coach then refused to talk about it on Tuesday when it hit the NFL transactions wire. Belichick then said the trade still wasn’t done on Wednesday, when Gordon was on the practice field.

Belichick doesn’t talk to the media on Thursdays. On Friday, he said matter of factly, as usual, “Since the last time we met, we officially added Josh and Cyrus (Jones, re-signed) to the roster, so it’s good to get them here. I’d say really in both cases, those two guys have done about as much as they can do in the few days that they’ve been here, or been back in Cyrus’ case. We’ll see how it goes.”

Belichick refused to talk about Gordon’s off-field problems, but noted his new receiver was learning quickly. “I think Josh is a smart kid,” he said. “He’s worked hard. He picked up a lot.”

Asked if Gordon, who played in the first Browns games this season and is hampered by a sore hamstring, is the type of talent that doesn’t often come available on the trade market, Belichick added, “Look, all players in this league are talented players or they wouldn’t be in this league. We’ll see.”

Limited in practice, Gordon, who missed 43 of his last 48 games, could make his debut with his new team Sunday night in Detroit when the Patriots (1-1) face former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and his Lions (0-2).

“(He’s) been eager to get in there and learn everything we’re doing and, you know, just trying to acclimate himself to what the program is,” Tom Brady said Friday.

As far as Gordon playing Sunday after limited exposure to the Patriots’ complicated playbook, Brady said, “It’s just up to the coaches. I think if they’re in there it’s up to the coaches to decide those things. I don’t think anyone is going to put anyone out there if they don’t know what they’re doing. Now you can limit the number of plays and try and do that, I think we’ve done that plenty of times; anytime you get new players that’s what you try to do.”

Asked Thursday about Gordon, who had a big game against New England in 2013, Devin McCourty, stumbled a bit and said, “That’s a lot of, ‘I don’t knows.’ I don’t . he’s only been here for I think two days now so I wouldn’t say I can formulate an opinion on him. But, we all know he’s a good player.

“Excited to have him here and he seems excited to get to work. We’ll see how it all shakes out.”

NOTES: Brady completed his first NFL pass against the Lions on Nov. 23, 2000, but that was at the Pontiac Silverdome. He was 1 for 3 for 6 yards, the completion to Rod Rutledge in a 34-9 Thanksgiving Day loss. That was the only game Brady saw any action in his rookie season. . The Patriots lead the series with the Lions 7-4 and come into this game 16-9 on “Sunday Night Football,” 10-2 in their last 12. . New England hasn’t lost two games in a row since 2015 and is 12-1 since 2002 (the loss in 2012) after a September loss. . Jones, the Patriots’ second draft choice in 2016 and injured all last year, was cut by the club at the end of camp and was on the Baltimore Ravens’ practice squad when New England decided to bring him back.

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The Latest: Prison term for crash that killed Colts player

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Latest on the sentencing of a Guatemalan man who pleaded guilty in a drunken driving crash that killed Indianapolis Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson and his Uber driver(all times local):

3:30 p.m.

A man from Guatemala living illegally in the U.S. has been sentenced to 16 years in prison for

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Latest on the sentencing of a Guatemalan man who pleaded guilty in a drunken driving crash that killed Indianapolis Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson and his Uber driver(all times local):

3:30 p.m.

A man from Guatemala living illegally in the U.S. has been sentenced to 16 years in prison for a drunken-driving crash that killed Indianapolis Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson and his Uber driver.

A Marion County judge sentenced Manuel Orrego-Savala to the maximum possible sentence Friday under his plea agreement.

The 37-year-old had pleaded guilty in July to two counts of operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of .15 or more, causing death.

Orrego-Savala’s blood alcohol content was 0.19 when his truck crashed into Jackson and his Uber driver, Jeffrey Monroe. The crash occurred in February along the shoulder of Interstate 70 in Indianapolis.

Monroe had pulled over after Jackson became ill.

The judge heard emotional testimony from Jackson’s mother and Monroe’s widow during Friday’s hearing.

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9:07 a.m.

A man from Guatemala living illegally in the U.S. is set for sentencing in a drunken driving crash that killed Indianapolis Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson and his Uber driver.

Manuel Orrego-Savala will be sentenced Friday, two months after he pleaded guilty to two counts of operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of .15 or more, causing death.

The 37-year-old driver’s blood alcohol content was 0.19 percent when his truck crashed into Jackson and Uber driver Jeffrey Monroe in February on Interstate 70. Monroe had pulled over because Jackson was ill.

Authorities say Orrego-Savala had been deported twice from the U.S. and was in the country illegally when the crash happened.

The case became a flash point in the nation’s immigration debate.

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Keenum and Thomas haven’t found a rhythm yet

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — As a combo, the Denver Broncos' two highest-paid players aren't exactly money yet.

Although Demaryius Thomas caught the winning touchdown pass from Case Keenum in their opener, the pair making a combined $27 million this season have 10 missed connections so far.

That's almost as many connections — 11

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — As a combo, the Denver Broncos’ two highest-paid players aren’t exactly money yet.

Although Demaryius Thomas caught the winning touchdown pass from Case Keenum in their opener, the pair making a combined $27 million this season have 10 missed connections so far.

That’s almost as many connections — 11 for 81 yards — as they’ve made together.

Calculating incompletions where he got both hands on the ball, Thomas leads the league with five drops so far.

Thomas had two early drops in the opener but bounced back to catch a 4-yard dart from Keenum to beat the Seahawks in Week 1. Thomas dropped three passes against the Raiders last week, when he had five receptions for 18 yards. Only four times has he had fewer yards in a game since becoming a starter in 2012.

His biggest drop last week came with Denver at midfield, trailing by two points with 22 seconds left. Thomas sprinted up the right sideline and deked his defender into leaving him wide open. Keenum delivered a pass on target and on time, but the ball sailed through Thomas’ hands.

On the next play, Keenum hooked up with Tim Patrick for his first NFL reception, a 26-yarder that set up Brandon McManus’ 36-yard field goal that beat the Raiders 20-19 .

Thomas’ early-season troubles are reminiscent of 2015, when he dropped eight passes before November, then added five drops against New England in a game when his sole catch proved crucial to Denver’s win in overtime that helped propel the Broncos to the Super Bowl 50 title.

Thomas said his only focus this week was on trying to help his team out Sunday when the Broncos (2-0) visit Baltimore (1-1), and his latest bout of drops apparently hasn’t alarmed his coaches.

“He’s OK,” coach Vance Joseph said, adding that the coaching staff can provide a boost by calling his number early and often.

“It’s our job to get him going early and to get him his confidence early,” Joseph said. “When guys go through a whole half and have one attempt or two attempts, that’s tough for receivers. If he has his first attempt and he drops it or it’s a bad ball, that’s a mind war. It’s our job to get him going early. It’s his job to play with confidence, and he will.”

Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said he believes that corrections need to be made in the flow of the game without regard to a specific player who might be struggling with catches or confidence.

“We’re just trying to give everybody the ball,” Musgrave said. “We don’t want to start worrying about one guy here … We’ve just got to let the ball find everybody in the system, whether it’s handing off or throwing it. If we do a good job, I think everybody will get their touches.”

Keenum sees any hiccups right now as the inevitable crimps that will dissipate as the offense develops.

“The team that you are in September is always very different then the team you are in December,” Keenum said. “I think that’s why you come out every day and practice. You grind away at those little itty-bitty details, mechanics and footwork, routes and protections, so that you can keep building this library, keep building this trust, keep building this chemistry with these guys with the offensive line, the running backs, the receivers.

“All so you can trust on that when it comes down to December, January, and hopefully February.”

ROUGHING RULE

Joseph said he understands why the league is emphasizing roughing calls on quarterbacks this season.

“They want the quarterback not to be punished. Back when I played, that was the key to the game: How much can you punish the quarterback? But it’s changed,” Joseph said. “They want you to sack the quarterback and turn your body and not put your full body weight on the guy.”

Joseph said he concurs with the league’s efforts to keep QBs safe.

“I don’t want Case hit that way. So, it goes both ways with the players. So, I agree with it,” Joseph said. “We haven’t had a play yet that has cost us. So, I don’t have a problem with it. That could change in two weeks. But it’s for the safety of the position.”

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Giants will be without OLB Vernon, CB Apple vs. Texans

Giants will be without OLB Vernon, CB Apple vs. Texans

The New York Giants ruled outside linebacker Olivier Vernon and cornerback Eli Apple out for Sunday's road game against the Houston Texans.

Vernon will miss his third straight game with a high ankle sprain, while Apple will be sidelined with

Giants will be without OLB Vernon, CB Apple vs. Texans

The New York Giants ruled outside linebacker Olivier Vernon and cornerback Eli Apple out for Sunday’s road game against the Houston Texans.

Vernon will miss his third straight game with a high ankle sprain, while Apple will be sidelined with a groin injury suffered during last Sunday’s contest against the Dallas Cowboys.

Vernon and Apple each missed the week’s practice sessions.

Connor Barwin and Lorenzo Carter will again see action in Vernon’s spot. B.W. Webb and Donte Deayon will step in for Apple.

“Certainly any time your first-line players go down (it’s a loss), but we’ve got guys that we trust if we put them in there,” Giants coach Pat Shurmur said. “We trust that they’re going to go out there and play.”

The Giants are Texans both have 0-2 records.

–Field Level Media

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RB Cook, DE Griffen out for Vikings

 

 

Running back Dalvin Cook and defensive end Everson Griffen are out for Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills.

 

Cook left the overtime tie at Green Bay last week with a hamstring injury he described as a cramp. But Cook was unable to complete a practice this week, giving way to backup Latavius

 

 

Running back Dalvin Cook and defensive end Everson Griffen are out for Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills.

 

Cook left the overtime tie at Green Bay last week with a hamstring injury he described as a cramp. But Cook was unable to complete a practice this week, giving way to backup Latavius Murray.

 

Griffen was also out of practice on Friday and ruled out for Week 3. He’s dealing with a toe injury.

 

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

 

Cook has 26 carries for 78 yards (3.0-yard average) this season, and Murray has 15 carries for 61 yards (4.1).

 

–Field Level Media

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Titans OT Lewan cleared, QB Mariota questionable vs. Jaguars

Titans OT Lewan cleared, QB Mariota questionable vs. Jaguars

Tennessee Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan is back from a concussion, but quarterback Marcus Mariota might not be ready to play against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.

Lewan missed last week's game recovering from a head injury suffered at Miami in

Titans OT Lewan cleared, QB Mariota questionable vs. Jaguars

Tennessee Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan is back from a concussion, but quarterback Marcus Mariota might not be ready to play against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.

Lewan missed last week’s game recovering from a head injury suffered at Miami in Week 1. Coach Mike Vrabel maintains the Dolphins “targeted” Lewan.

Mariota wore a glove with two fingers cut out of it hoping to improve his grip on Thursday and Friday. He’s been slow to bounce back from an elbow injury against the Dolphins.

Right tackle Jack Conklin missed the first two games of the season and wants to play, but is listed as questionable. He has not played since suffering a torn ACL at New England in January.

Blaine Gabbert started Week 2 and guided the Titans to a 20-17 win over the Houston Texans.

Mariota said he’s improving and getting stronger, but remains a game-time decision.

–Field Level Media

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Clement injury gives Eagles trio of injured RBs

Clement injury gives Eagles trio of injured RBs

Philadelphia Eagles running back Corey Clement landed on the injury report Friday with a quadriceps injury and is questionable for Sunday's game against the Indianapolis Colts.

Clement was expected to start with Jay Ajayi (back) and Darren Sproles (hamstring) already ruled out.

Clement injury gives Eagles trio of injured RBs

Philadelphia Eagles running back Corey Clement landed on the injury report Friday with a quadriceps injury and is questionable for Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts.

Clement was expected to start with Jay Ajayi (back) and Darren Sproles (hamstring) already ruled out.

If Clement can’t play, the Eagles would likely make a roster move to add a running back to the 53-man roster.

Either way, the Eagles are getting closer to good news at wide receiver. Alshon Jeffery, out since shortly after the Super Bowl due to shoulder surgery, was upgraded to questionable after being inactive the first two weeks of the regular season.

Clement would be replaced by Wendell Smallwood and Josh Adams, who was promoted from the practice squad this week.

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said Ajayi’s back injury would be re-evaluated on Monday.

–Field Level Media

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Jags’ Fournette, Ramsey questionable for Titans

Jags' Fournette, Ramsey questionable for Titans

Jacksonville running back Leonard Fournette is in jeopardy of missing his second straight game when the Jaguars host the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.

Fournette is listed as questionable with a hamstring injury but a decision on his availability isn't expected until Sunday.

Jags’ Fournette, Ramsey questionable for Titans

Jacksonville running back Leonard Fournette is in jeopardy of missing his second straight game when the Jaguars host the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.

Fournette is listed as questionable with a hamstring injury but a decision on his availability isn’t expected until Sunday.

Backup running back T.J. Yeldon (ankle) and star cornerback Jalen Ramsey (ankle) also are listed as questionable as are cornerback D.J. Hayden (toe) and right guard A.J. Cann (triceps).

“We’ve been playing a lot of tough games,” Jacksonville coach Doug Marrone told reporters. “Players are doing the best job they can to get themselves ready to go, but we played a home opener in New York. We played a home opener here. Now we’ve got a divisional opponent.

“When you look at it a lot of teams are going through the same thing, just trying to keep everybody as healthy as they possibly can.”

Fournette injured his hamstring in the opener against the New York Giants. He held out hope that he would play against the New England Patriots last Sunday before being ruled out hours before kickoff.

Ramsey was added to the injury report on Friday when he experienced ankle soreness.

Marrone declined to take a stab on rating the players’ chance of being ready Sunday.

“I’m like O-for when I try to judge it,” Marrone said. “I just think we’ve still got a lot of time so we’ll just see where we’re at.”

If Yeldon (team-best 109 yards) and Fournette (41) are both on the sidelines, Corey Grant will take over as the feature back. Grant has 16 yards on five carries in two games.

–Field Level Media

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Ajayi, Sproles out for Eagles, Clement questionable

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Eagles won't have running backs Jay Ajayi and Darren Sproles for Sunday's game against Indianapolis and Corey Clement is questionable.

Ajayi missed practice all week because of a back injury suffered in last week's 27-21 loss at Tampa Bay. Sproles already missed one game with a hamstring injury. Clement

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Eagles won’t have running backs Jay Ajayi and Darren Sproles for Sunday’s game against Indianapolis and Corey Clement is questionable.

Ajayi missed practice all week because of a back injury suffered in last week’s 27-21 loss at Tampa Bay. Sproles already missed one game with a hamstring injury. Clement appeared on the injury report for the first time Friday with a quadriceps injury.

Wendell Smallwood is Philadelphia’s only experienced healthy running back. Rookie Josh Adams was promoted from the practice squad earlier in the week.

Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (shoulder), left tackle Jason Peters (quadricep) and linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill (groin) also are questionable.

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FANTASY PLAYS: Burning fantasy questions for Week 3

A look at some key fantasy questions going into Week 3:

ARE THE CARDINALS REALLY THIS BAD? CAN YOU STILL START DAVID JOHNSON?

The Cardinals are 0-2. They've scored just 6 points and given up the sixth most points in football through the first two games. Their passing attack has suffered through the awful play

A look at some key fantasy questions going into Week 3:

ARE THE CARDINALS REALLY THIS BAD? CAN YOU STILL START DAVID JOHNSON?

The Cardinals are 0-2. They’ve scored just 6 points and given up the sixth most points in football through the first two games. Their passing attack has suffered through the awful play of quarterback Sam Bradford. He’s averaging just 4 yards per pass attempt and will likely be replaced by rookie Josh Rosen soon. David Johnson was a top 3 overall pick in point-per-reception scoring leagues but he’s 27th in PPR scoring.

With the Cards playing from behind for virtually the entire season, Johnson has been limited to just 22 rushing attempts, 26th most in the NFL. Arizona also hasn’t been taking advantage of Johnson’s pass-catching skills. He was targeted just twice last week. Head coach Steve Wilks claims he’ll line up out of the slot on occasion moving forward, which should help Johnson’s fantasy production.

Based on your investment in his draft slot, Johnson remains a must-start for now. However, if you try trading him based 2018 production you’ll be dealing him based on extremely low fantasy value. It still wouldn’t hurt to put his name on your league’s trading block. Someone might surprise you and offer a trade based on his preseason value.

SHOULD YOU START BUCCANEERS QB RYAN FITZPATRICK THIS WEEK?

Fitzpatrick leads all QBs in passing yards and all position players in total fantasy points. He faces a Steelers team that is having issues playing on the road, and also gave up six TDs to Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes last week. Fitzpatrick has gotten the most out of his top offensive weapons, including WR DeSean Jackson and TE O.J. Howard. If your primary fantasy QB’s performances have been less than stellar, Fitzpatrick provides you with an opportunity to reap the benefits of one of the hottest performers in fantasy sports.

SHOULD YOU START PATRICK MAHOMES EVERY WEEK OR TRY TRADING HIM?

Mahomes’ consensus average draft position made him the 16th QB selected overall in preseason drafts. Through two games, Mahomes has scored the second-most fantasy points among all position players. Owners most likely also have a QB on their roster they originally thought would have a better chance of being more productive. If you own Mahomes and a good backup QB in leagues where you’re starting one QB per week, it might make sense to try to trade one. Which one? Well, Mahomes’ fantasy value may never be higher than it is right now.

WHICH UNDER-THE-RADAR RB HAS THE OPPORTUNITY FOR A BIG WEEK?

Vikings RB Dalvin Cook has been ruled out this week against the Bills with a hamstring injury. Latavius Murray could provide RB1 fantasy production in his place. The Bills can’t stop the run and have given up the third-most fantasy points per game to opposing RBs. The Vikings are heavily favored this week and if they take an early big lead they may move away from their passing game as early as the middle of the third quarter. Murray could pile up some significant fantasy points to close out the game.

WHICH UNDER-THE-RADAR WR HAS THE POTENTIAL FOR A BIG WEEK?

The Giants don’t have a very good pass rush. They’ve played their first two games without their best pass rusher, Olivier Vernon, due to his high ankle sprain. Without any pressure from the Giants defensive line, mobile Texans QB Deshaun Watson will have plenty of time to connect with his open receivers; especially Will Fuller. In five career games with Watson under center Fuller has caught eight TDs, and with CB Eli Apple battling a groin injury, Fuller could have a big day.

WHAT IMPACT WILL NEW PATRIOTS WR JOSH GORDON HAVE ON THE PATRIOTS OFFENSE?

There’s no denying that when he’s on the field, Gordon is a super-talented WR that opposing defenses need to focus on. We wouldn’t be surprised if he had a modest outing in Week 3, and at the same time it wouldn’t shock us if he had a monster game, either. Patriots receivers Chris Hogan and Philip Dorsett could benefit just by having Gordon on the field, simply because defenses will have to shift their focus. However, Tom Brady probably gains the most by adding Gordon to the Patriots roster. His receivers are Gordon, Hogan, Dorsett, TE Rob Gronkowski and after Week 4, wideout Julian Edelman will be reinstated. In his last three seasons in which he’s played at least 14 games, Edelman has averaged just over 98 receptions.

SHOULD I START EAGLES QB CARSON WENTZ THIS WEEK?

Wentz was having a phenomenal 2018 season before he tore his ACL and LCL in Week 13. His ability to move in the pocket contributed mightily to his 2017 success. Can he be as mobile this week or will it take a game or two for him to get in game shape? We don’t know for sure. In addition, the Eagles receiving corps is hurting. Alshon Jeffery is unlikely to play and they signed Jordan Matthews as a replacement for Mike Wallace, who was placed on injured reserve. That move might do more harm than good since that could force Nelson Agholor to have to play on the outside instead of in the slot, where he enjoyed a lot of success last season. If you’ve been able to work without Wentz for the first two weeks of the season and have a viable backup, keep Wentz on your bench and watch how things unfold this week.

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Browns appear set to switch to Mayfield as starter

CLEVELAND (AP) — Browns coach Hue Jackson isn't ready to "officially" make Baker Mayfield his starting quarterback.

Everyone else has.

Jackson said Friday that he'll wait until talking to his players before publicly announcing a decision that seems inevitable after Mayfield replaced injured starter Tyrod Taylor on Thursday night and led Cleveland to its first

CLEVELAND (AP) — Browns coach Hue Jackson isn’t ready to “officially” make Baker Mayfield his starting quarterback.

Everyone else has.

Jackson said Friday that he’ll wait until talking to his players before publicly announcing a decision that seems inevitable after Mayfield replaced injured starter Tyrod Taylor on Thursday night and led Cleveland to its first win since 2016. Taylor is in concussion protocol.

Mayfield, the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft, brought the Browns (1-1-1) back from a 14-0 deficit to win 21-17 over the New York Jets and end a 19-game winless streak.

Jackson gave his players the weekend off and will wait until Monday before saying who will start at quarterback on Sept. 30 at Oakland. Jackson gave strong indication during a teleconference that he’ll go with Mayfield, telling reporters, “you guys all feel good about where things are headed.”

Mayfield completed 17 of 23 passed for 201 yards in just more than a half.

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2 ties down, many more could be coming in NFL 2018

Two weeks, two ties.

OK, let's get this out of the way now: Yes, the NFL is fit to be tied.

Fit tighter than most folks might think, too.

In a slopfest of an opener, the Steelers and Browns drew 21-21 . The first game of the season often can be messy and

Two weeks, two ties.

OK, let’s get this out of the way now: Yes, the NFL is fit to be tied.

Fit tighter than most folks might think, too.

In a slopfest of an opener, the Steelers and Browns drew 21-21 . The first game of the season often can be messy and painful to watch, particularly when so many key players don’t take the field much, if at all, in preseason. This one was all of that, even if a tie was a big step in the right direction for Cleveland, which lost 31 of 32 contests entering this season.

Yet the Browns sounded more angry with the deadlock than did the Steelers.

“There’s no way that we shouldn’t have won this game,” safety Jabrill Peppers said. “We didn’t win. It is all about winning. Nobody cares about draws or ties, whatever you guys call it. We were in a (position) to win this game countless times. We just have to make the plays.”

A week later, in a more artistic affair — minus the ugly kicking by the now-released Daniel Carlson for Minnesota — the Vikings and Packers finished 29-29. Like the other tie, it was a divisional game. Unlike the other one, both of these clubs should be in the playoff hunt.

So assessing a draw left them perplexed.

“I don’t know what to feel after a tie,” Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins said. “It’s a unique place to be and proud of the way that the whole team — when I say the team, the coaching staff, the players, the support staff — the way everybody stayed in it and fought. There were times where we thought we should have won it, there were times the Packers feel like they should have won it. And it was a great game, and unfortunately we didn’t get the win.”

Green Bay’s reactions were similar.

“It’s gross,” kicker Mason Crosby offered. “I don’t like it. Obviously, you hate losing. A tie is just weird. You just don’t get them a lot.”

Ah, but you just might this season. Two in two weeks could be a harbinger.

The NFL reduced the length of overtime from 15 minutes to 10 before last season. Stunningly, there were no ties.

But the odds of more results without a winner are vastly increased. And league executives understood that when they made the change.

“What it came down to was really a player safety discussion,” said Dean Blandino, head of the league’s officiating department when the rule change was made in 2017 and now an NFL analyst for Fox. “The year prior to change, you had several games that went the full overtime periods and ended in a tie, or a game ended on a field goal at the last second. That’s an additional however many plays in that game. We had one instance when a team had to come back on Thursday night and play, so that’s a very short week for rest and then playing again.

“So we asked, ‘Are we pushing our players to play an extra quarter and having to come back, creating a chance for more injuries?’

“Yes the potential for more ties would be there in a shorter overtime, but the members of the (competition) committee and the owners didn’t think a tie was necessarily a bad thing.”

Maybe yes, maybe no. But are the alternatives worthwhile?

The NFL could adopt the college rule (won’t ever happen), which detractors have said is like having a home run derby decide a tied baseball game; too much of the natural game is eliminated. So is the sudden death element, although even that has been diluted by the current NFL overtime rule in which the team receiving the kickoff must score a touchdown for the game to end immediately.

Not that we are advocating for getting rid of that and returning to the coin toss being even more instrumental in deciding a game.

The option of continuing to play until there is a winner doesn’t work in the regular season for a variety of reasons. Player safety — player exhaustion — is the main reason, but there are broadcast considerations on a busy Sunday afternoon, too. And fan comfort, particularly in Lambeau or Soldier Field or Gillette Stadium in December.

The NFL also senses that with the shorter overtime, teams will attack more during the extra period. That seems to have been the case at Lambeau Field last Sunday. In the other tie, play was so chaotic it was difficult to tell if either side had a plan for winning.

“There were a lot of things discussed and on the table,” Blandino said of competition committee meetings about overtime. “This goes back if you look prior to 2012, the coin toss was such a big part of OT. We had less ties under that system; just, look at the stats from 1994-2011, and there were only four ties. Since 2012 and the chance to have both teams getting possession, in the next five years, we had five ties in that period.”

And in 2018, we already have two. Get ready for more.

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Cardinals GM: ‘Tough question’ when to start Rosen

Cardinals GM: 'Tough question' when to start Rosen

After two blowout losses to open the season, some Arizona Cardinals fans are calling for No. 10 overall draft pick Josh Rosen to get a shot as the starting quarterback.

Arizona GM Steve Keim told fans not to get their hopes up

Cardinals GM: ‘Tough question’ when to start Rosen

After two blowout losses to open the season, some Arizona Cardinals fans are calling for No. 10 overall draft pick Josh Rosen to get a shot as the starting quarterback.

Arizona GM Steve Keim told fans not to get their hopes up during a radio appearance on Friday.

“It’s a tough question. When the time is right, Josh will have his opportunity,” said Keim. “At the same time, you never know how a guy is going to be affected. Some guys have played too early and it has crippled their career. I’m not going to name names, but I think a lot of us can think of certain players. Then there are guys who have come in and had success right away. But usually it’s a rocky road.

“I don’t think there is any exact science to that, but I think there is certainly a feeling of knowing when the time is right.”

Keim added that he preferred Rosen makes his first start after a full week of practice with the first team, rather than take over mid-game.

The Cardinals have been outscored 58-6, losing Sunday in Los Angeles to the Rams, 34-0. Arizona lost to the Washington Redskins in Week 1.

Veteran quarterback Sam Bradford, signed to bridge the gap between the retired Carson Palmer and Rosen, has thrown for just 243 yards in the two games, with no touchdowns and two interceptions.

On Sunday, he threw for 90 yards with a 3.3 yards per pass average, and the Cardinals had just five first downs. That was Arizona’s worst offensive showing since a 72-yard performance late in the 2012 season.

First-year Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks said Monday that personnel changes are being considered in light of the woeful start.

“I’m not going to sit here and say right after the game what we’re going to do from a personnel standpoint,” Wilks told ESPN. “But I will say this: Everybody will be evaluated.”

Wilks said he didn’t consider inserting Rosen in the game Sunday against the New York Jets.

“Well, I think when you look at the climate of the game and how it was going, I don’t know if it was going to make a major difference there because, again, it just wasn’t one guy,” Wilks said. “It was several on both sides of the ball in all three phases. Again, we’ll evaluate personnel moving forward and seeing exactly what we’re going to do next week as far as putting the best guys on the field.”

–Field Level Media

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Bills list running back McCoy questionable for game at Vikes

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Bills running back LeSean McCoy is listed as questionable due to a rib cartilage injury for Buffalo's game at the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.

McCoy has practiced on a limited basis since being hurt in a 31-20 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers last weekend. Backup running back

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Bills running back LeSean McCoy is listed as questionable due to a rib cartilage injury for Buffalo’s game at the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.

McCoy has practiced on a limited basis since being hurt in a 31-20 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers last weekend. Backup running back Taiwan Jones is also listed Friday as questionable due to a deep cut on his forehead.

Defensive end Shaq Lawson has been ruled out and will miss his second consecutive game with a hamstring injury.

The Bills could be down to three healthy cornerbacks with Philip Gaines (dislocated right elbow) and rookie Taron Johnson (shoulder) listed as questionable. Johnson practiced fully Friday for the first time since being hurt in a season-opening loss at Baltimore.

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Jaguars list Fournette, Yeldon as questionable vs Titans

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Jacksonville Jaguars running backs Leonard Fournette and T.J. Yeldon are among five players listed as questionable for Sunday's game against Tennessee.

Fournette missed last week's victory against New England because of a strained right hamstring and was limited in practice this week. Yeldon, who led the team with 58

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Jacksonville Jaguars running backs Leonard Fournette and T.J. Yeldon are among five players listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against Tennessee.

Fournette missed last week’s victory against New England because of a strained right hamstring and was limited in practice this week. Yeldon, who led the team with 58 yards rushing against the Patriots, was limited all week because of an ankle injury.

Right guard A.J. Cann (triceps), cornerback Jalen Ramsey (ankle) and cornerback D.J. Hayden (toe) also are questionable.

Coach Doug Marrone says “players are doing the best job they can to get themselves ready to go.”

Ramsey and Hayden were added to the team’s injury report Friday.

Marrone says the Jaguars “just got to see what happens now and see where it goes when it just happens today.”

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Keep on dancing: 95-year-old woman shows Bengals CB how

Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick attended a "tailgate" party at a nursing home in suburban Loveland before Cincinnati's 34-23 win over the Baltimore Ravens. A 95-year-old woman stole the show and made for a popular video.

Irma Shafer got up and danced away, making Kirkpatrick smile as he danced along. The moment was

Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick attended a “tailgate” party at a nursing home in suburban Loveland before Cincinnati’s 34-23 win over the Baltimore Ravens. A 95-year-old woman stole the show and made for a popular video.

Irma Shafer got up and danced away, making Kirkpatrick smile as he danced along. The moment was captured by a local television crew and shared on social media. Many fans shared it a few hours later as the Bengals played their way to their first 2-0 start since 2015. Kirkpatrick was surprised it got so much reaction.

“I didn’t even know how big it was going to get,” Kirkpatrick said. “When they sent it out — however it got out — my phone just started going crazy.”

Kirkpatrick’s girlfriend is a close friend of one of the nursing home administrators, and they came up with the idea for the party. Kirkpatrick stopped in after the team’s morning meeting and was inspired by Shafer’s reaction.

“She was dancing the whole time I was in there,” Kirkpatrick said. “Just to see the energy she had — that was such an amazing thing. I want to be that one day. I want to still be able to move and enjoy music the way she did.”

REPLACING THE ONSIDE KICK

Football safety surveys have shown the onside kick to be one of the most dangerous plays. But it also can provide a last-ditch chance for a team to make a comeback, and the trickery of it is one of the more intriguing elements.

The Alliance of American Football, which kicks off its spring league the week after the Super Bowl in February, has an interesting replacement for the onside kick.

“We’ve replaced the onside kick with an onside conversion attempt,” says Pro Football Hall of Famer Bill Polian, co-founder of the eight-team Alliance. “When teams are behind by 17 points or more or within five minutes remaining in the second half, after a touchdown or field goal, the trailing team can opt to receive the ball on their 28-yard line. They can attempt to convert a fourth-and-12. If they are successful and gain a first down, they keep the ball and can continue on. If they fail, the other team takes possession of the ball where it is spotted following the failed conversion attempt.”

The league also has only a 2-point conversion attempt after touchdowns and will eliminate the PAT kick.

“That way, we eliminate block attempts that are not the safest plays in football,” Polian explains.

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

Denver Broncos tight end Jake Butt’s family learned long ago to have fun with their last name.

His father, Rob, wore a Broncos jersey with the name “Head Butt” stitched across the back in Denver when his son made his NFL debut with two catches for 29 yards in the Broncos’ win over Seattle.

Jake Butt, who sat out his rookie season after tearing up his right knee in his final game for Michigan, remembers asking his dad if he could change his name when he was younger.

“Shoot, I remember in kindergarten I would get terrorized, and that’s like when you take everything personally,” Butt says. “I hated the first-day-of-class roll call, because they’d always call out ‘Butt.’ I’d just get beet red and I’d come home to my dad and tell him that I wanted to change my last name.

“He’d laugh and tell me, ‘You’re going to have fun with this someday.’ So, here we are. We’re having a lot of fun with it.”

Jake Butt didn’t have to wait for adulthood for the teasing to stop.

“I was getting bigger than everybody, so I could just laugh at them, probably like seventh, eighth grade,” he said.

He now stands 6-foot-6 and weighs 250 pounds, but would get heckled for his last name on the road in the Big Ten, too.

“Yeah, some Iowa fans got creative, like, ‘Haha. Your last name’s Butt.’ I’m like, ‘Man, that’s not that creative. You’ve got to do better than that,” Butt said. “Yeah, even away fans, they kind of have fun with it.”

LEWIS ON LUKE

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis discovered at an early age that Luke Kuechly was a phenomenal athlete while watching him play summer lacrosse with his son, Marcus, growing up in Ohio.

And he has followed Kuechly’s football career closely over the years at Boston College and now with the Carolina Panthers.

Lewis said before the 2012 NFL draft, he told Bengals owner Mike Brown that Kuechly was “the best collegiate linebacker I think I’ve ever seen.” However, Kuechly never returned to his native Ohio because the Panthers took him 11th overall. The Bengals had the No. 17 pick.

“We’re trying to clone guys like Luke Kuechly here,” said Lewis, whose Bengals visit Kuechly and the Panthers on Sunday.

Kuechly played three years of lacrosse in high school, along with playing on travel teams. He said he didn’t score many goals because — naturally — he played defense.

“I would get bored during the offseason if I wasn’t doing something,” said Kuechly, a four-time All-Pro. “I grew up playing basketball, football and lacrosse.”

BAYOU DIET

Louisiana native and Dolphins defensive tackle Davon Godchaux hosts his teammates on the defensive line for an evening of Cajun cuisine on occasion, serving them crawfish and barbecue.

He spares them one of his other favorite foods — raccoon.

“Tastes just like chicken,” Godchaux said. “They’d probably be grossed out by that. But I’m from the Bayou. So that’s what we eat.”

Godchaux, who’s 6-foot-3 and 315 pounds, says his diet is healthy as well as tasty. His foundation, Chauxdown, supports the battle against obesity.

“Growing up as a child, you always want to eat right to get to this level,” Godchaux said.

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AP Pro Football Writers Barry Wilner and Arnie Stapleton and Sports Writers Steven Wine, Joe Kay and Steve Reed contributed.

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