Seahawks release starting DT Johnson

Seahawks release starting DT Johnson

The Seattle Seahawks released starting defensive tackle Tom Johnson on Saturday, just one game into a contract that guaranteed him $1.85 million.

In a corresponding move, the team promoted safety Shalom Luani from the practice squad.

Per an NFL Network report, the Seahawks hope to re-sign Johnson after Monday’s game at Chicago, but they needed an additional roster spot against the Bears. Seattle has three players (wideout Doug Baldwin, linebackers Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright) already ruled out for Monday, with three more doubtful (guard D.J. Fluker, cornerback Tre Flowers, safety Delano Hill) and cornerback Shaquill Griffin questionable.

Johnson, 34, joined the Seahawks on a one-year, $2.1 million deal as a free agent this offseason. He was given a $900,000 signing bonus, and his base salary of $950,000 was guaranteed after he was on the roster through Week 1. He started and played 39 snaps against the Denver Broncos, recording one tackle.

The eighth-year veteran has been an effective interior pass rusher for the New Orleans Saints and Minnesota Vikings, including a two-year stretch (2014-15) in which he tallied 12 sacks. Johnson has 21 sacks in 103 career games (26 starts).

Luani, 24, was acquired from the Oakland Raiders during final cuts. A seventh-round pick in 2017, he played in 16 games (one start) as a rookie, recording two passes defensed and 18 tackles.

–Field Level Media

Reich downplays reunion with defending Super Bowl champs

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Frank Reich has the inside track on Philadelphia.

He coached the quarterbacks, helped construct one of the league's most innovative offenses and worked closely with defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz before leaving for Indianapolis in February.

On Sunday, the Colts are hoping Reich's knowledge could give them a leg up on

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Frank Reich has the inside track on Philadelphia.

He coached the quarterbacks, helped construct one of the league’s most innovative offenses and worked closely with defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz before leaving for Indianapolis in February.

On Sunday, the Colts are hoping Reich’s knowledge could give them a leg up on the defending Super Bowl champs this weekend.

“Nothing too dramatic, a few things here and there,” Reich said when asked about this week’s conversations with defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus.

“Not anything that would be over the top. My experience is if you say too much it just confuses the matter. So you give a few personnel things, a few philosophical things, maybe one or two things to look for and then you let our defense play the way we’ve been playing.”

Of course, Reich downplays the significance of this weekend’s reunion. Most coaches do.

But Reich’s third game as a head coach will understandably be a big deal.

It was in Philly where Reich went from rising assistant to head coaching candidate after spending two seasons with coach Doug Pederson and quarterback Carson Wentz, who is expected to make his season debut Sunday.

It was in Philly where Reich finally put his fingers on the Super Bowl ring that eluded him so many other places.

It was in Philly where Reich turned down interviews so he could focus solely on winning playoff games with Nick Foles following Wentz’s season-ending knee injury.

And it was in Philly where he finally got the Colts’ phone call after Josh McDaniels reneged on a commitment to take over as head coach.

Neither Reich nor his players see much point in making this game bigger than it needs to be.

“I didn’t even think about that (Reich’s return),” quarterback Andrew Luck said Wednesday. “I don’t think anyone in this locker room needs extra motivation to win a game for him. I mean I think our guys are hungry to play. Yeah, that would be special, that would be special, that would be cool.”

Reich already has given the Colts (1-1) a fresh perspective.

They are off to their best start since 2013 and Luck has looked like his old self in an offense that, not so surprisingly, resembles the Eagles’ plan.

Four-time Pro Bowl receiver T.Y. Hilton is off to the best start of his career as he lines up in multiple spots. Running backs Marlon Mack and Jordan Wilkins delivered a one-two punch last week that was reminiscent of Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement. Nyheim Hines possesses natural versatility, like Darren Sproles, and the Colts’ tight ends are being asked to do more, too.

Eberflus, who faced the Eagles twice a year while coaching previously in Dallas, has the Colts defense clicking, too.

Rookie linebacker Darius Leonard was selected as the AFC’s defensive player of the week Wednesday after getting 18 tackles in last weekend’s 21-9 victory at Washington.

Eberflus can always seek additional advice from linebacker Najee Goode, a free-agent signee who played with the Eagles last season.

The Eagles know all about the potential pitfalls in facing their former offensive coordinator and are planning accordingly.

“He (Reich) knows, obviously, our structure offensively, what we try to do, how we attack things and maybe even some of the terminology and verbiage. So, we have to be careful there,” Pederson said on a conference call with Colts’ reporters.

“At the same time, we can’t change everything. There is some similarity, but at the same time we’re aware of it. We are looking forward to seeing him again on Sunday and welcoming him back to Philadelphia.”

Even if the reception is less than warm — as Eagles’ fans tend to make it.

But Reich returns with fond memories of the city, organization and staff that welcomed him with open arms and nothing but gratitude for the opportunity he got. All he wants to do now is win.

“It (leaving Philadelphia) was bittersweet in that it was such a great experience there, such a good relationship with everyone there,” Reich said.

“But there’s only 32 of these things and if it’s a goal and it’s an aspiration, you have to seize the moment.”

Notes: Indy has signed running back Jeremy McNichols to the practice squad, released quarterback Phillip Walker from the practice squad and waived running back Josh Ferguson from the injured reserve list. … Team owner Jim Irsay and his family have donated $100,000 to the Wheeler Mission to help the local charity expand the Center for Women & Children, which provides emergency shelter and long-term programs for homeless women and women with children.

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Pats tempering expectations as Gordon practices for 1st time

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Josh Gordon arrived at a Patriots' team facility that was abuzz with excitement about what he could potentially bring to their depleted receiving group.

There was also just as strong a sentiment in the building to keep any lofty expectations in check — at least for now.

Gordon practiced

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Josh Gordon arrived at a Patriots’ team facility that was abuzz with excitement about what he could potentially bring to their depleted receiving group.

There was also just as strong a sentiment in the building to keep any lofty expectations in check — at least for now.

Gordon practiced with the Patriots for the first time Wednesday since being traded by the Browns on Monday.

New England worked out a deal with Cleveland for the embattled receiver about 48 hours after the Browns announced their intention to cut ties with him, saying they had “reached a point where we feel it’s best to part ways and move forward.”

It never came to that, with the Patriots offering a fifth-round pick for a freakishly athletic player on the field, who often has been less than dependable off it.

Gordon has been suspended multiple times by the NFL for violations of its drug policies since being drafted by the Browns in 2012. He missed the entire 2015 season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy and hasn’t come close to duplicating his All-Pro 2013 season, in which he had 87 receptions for 1,646 yards and nine touchdowns.

He’s appeared in only 11 games since then.

It may be why coach Bill Belichick remained coy Wednesday morning when asked about what Gordon could add to New England’s offense, saying that the trade was yet to be finalized.

An hour later Gordon took the practice field wearing the No. 10 jersey once occupied by former Patriots backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who was traded to San Francisco last season.

Gordon was a limited participant in practice with a hamstring issue and didn’t speak with the media afterward.

But his new teammates said he has been welcomed with open arms. It’s up to him to fit in on a team that demands discipline.

“I think the slogan kind of stands for itself — ‘Do your job’ is kind of the big mantra that’s preached around here. I’m sure he’s had that conversation with coach,” linebacker Dont’a Hightower said.

“I think it’s just more about him getting comfortable. … Whatever he needs, whatever questions he has, obviously we’re all here to help him.”

While there’s uncertainty about just how Gordon will fit into New England’s strict culture, it is a gamble the Patriots appear willing to take.

They’ve been trying to plug holes at receiver after starting the season without Julian Edelman (suspended for first four games), Danny Amendola (signed with Miami in free agency) and Brandin Cooks (traded to Los Angeles Rams).

The Patriots have brought in several new faces since the season began, creating a constant jumbling on the depth chart.

Quarterback Tom Brady has compensated by spreading around passes to nearly everyone in the offense. In the season-opening win over Houston, he completed passes to eight different players. Seven different players caught at least one pass in Sunday’s loss to Jacksonville.

Adding a big-play threat such as Gordon could bring some better balance.

Still, during a radio interview, Brady said that he hates to “make projections and expectations” about how Gordon can help.

“That’s not fair. I’ve never met Josh, personally — just like I hadn’t met some of the guys who have come in the last couple of weeks. We’ll see how it goes this week,” Brady said.

“Hopefully, he can work hard, put the team first and end up helping us in a role that he can find for himself on the team.”

Notes: Starting DE Trey Flowers and S Patrick Chung both missed practice with concussions. Chung appeared in all 16 regular-season games each of the past two seasons. He hasn’t missed a regular-season game with the Patriots since Week 16 of the 2015 season… RB Sony Michel (knee) and DE Deatrich Wise Jr. (finger) were both full participants in practice.

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Payton says Saints’ last-ranked run game not in ‘crisis’

METAIRIE, La. (AP) — Saints coach Sean Payton said it's too early to judge New Orleans' last-ranked running game.

New Orleans managed only 43 yards rushing on 13 attempts in a Week 1 loss to Tampa Bay, but Payton said that was more about the nature of a game because the Saints had

METAIRIE, La. (AP) — Saints coach Sean Payton said it’s too early to judge New Orleans’ last-ranked running game.

New Orleans managed only 43 yards rushing on 13 attempts in a Week 1 loss to Tampa Bay, but Payton said that was more about the nature of a game because the Saints had to lean on the pass after falling behind. And though the coach was more critical of the running game following the Saints 21-18 victory over Cleveland, he stressed: “We’re talking about one game here. We’re not talking about a crisis.”

The Saints’ surge to the NFC South title last season was fueled to a large degree by a rejuvenated running game that ranked fifth in the NFL.

The addition of Alvin Kamara, who became the 2017 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, to Mark Ingram, who had his second consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season, gave New Orleans an elite tandem.

Heading into Sunday’s game against Atlanta, the Saints are averaging an NFL-worst 52.5 yards rushing during a 1-1 start.

Ingram is serving a four-game suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. Falling behind early also has compounded matters for New Orleans. Payton has had to lean heavily on Drew Brees and wide receiver Michael Thomas, who has an NFL-record 28 catches through two games.

“We definitely miss Mark,” Thomas said. “He adds value to this offense.”

New Orleans’ 36 rushing attempts are third-fewest in the NFL, but the Saints also have struggled when they have run the ball, averaging only 2.9 yards per rush. That ranks second-to-last, ahead of only Tampa Bay.

When Ingram’s suspension was announced in the spring, Payton said the solution would not be to just give his carries to Kamara. Yet, Kamara’s workload has increased. He has averaged 10.5 carries and 7.5 pass receptions after averaging 7.5 rushes and five receptions per game last season.

The Saints spent much of the offseason, training camp and preseason looking for a complementary running back to Kamara.

The turnstile of rushers hasn’t worked out.

New Orleans signed veterans Terrance West and Shane Vereen and drafted Boston Scott in the sixth round to join holdovers Jonathan Williams, Trey Edmunds and Daniel Lasco.

West and Edmunds were released, Vereen and Lasco wound up on injured reserve and Scott was released and later signed to the practice squad.

The Saints wound up signing Mike Gillislee after he was released by the Patriots at the end of the preseason and bringing up Williams after briefly placing him on the practice squad.

After two games, Gillislee has 11 rushes for 27 yards and he lost a fumble that Tampa Bay returned for a pivotal touchdown in the Saints’ 48-41 loss in the season opener. Williams has rushed just twice minus-1 yard.

Payton said communication and blocking were the main issues against the Browns, who held the Saints to 62 yards on 23 rushing attempts.

“We just didn’t run as effectively against (Cleveland) as we would have liked,” Payton said. “It’s one of those teams that’s going to give you some tough run looks. There’s just a number of things that we have to get cleaned up.”

Brees cited two important runs that helped the Saints rally from a 12-3 deficit in the fourth quarter.

Kamara had an 18-yard run that started a touchdown drive which pulled them within two points. He also gained five yards on a third-and-2 to extend another touchdown drive that gave New Orleans its first lead.

“When we rushed better in the latter part help of the game it helped,” Payton added. “When we review with our players where we stand in terms of what’s important to winning and losing, (running effectively) certainly sits at the top.”

Notes: Defensive tackle Tyeler Davison (foot), receiver Tommylee Lewis (knee) and linebacker Manti Te’o (knee) did not practice on Wednesday. … The Saints listed three players as limited in practice: left tackle Terron Armstead (knee), receiver Ted Ginn (knee) and left guard Andrus Peat (ankle).

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Minkah Fitzpatrick claims ‘FitzMagic’ moniker

Minkah Fitzpatrick claims 'FitzMagic' moniker

Buffalo Bills: NBC Sports' Peter King has been covering football a long time and has seen really bad player debuts and really good ones. He marked the first career start of Bills quarterback Josh Allen in the not-too-bad category. "Well, I thought it was better than I expected,"

Minkah Fitzpatrick claims ‘FitzMagic’ moniker

Buffalo Bills: NBC Sports’ Peter King has been covering football a long time and has seen really bad player debuts and really good ones. He marked the first career start of Bills quarterback Josh Allen in the not-too-bad category. “Well, I thought it was better than I expected,” King said. “He is obviously going to have difficultly with protection issues, the Bills are. And so you’re probably not going to be able to use everything. You wonder how many seven-step drops he has, when he does take snaps from under center, when that happens, but overall you know, I’d give him a good mark.”

Miami Dolphins: Will the real “FitzMagic” please stand up? That’s a nickname that has been associated with Tampa Bay quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick in the past, and with his hot start in 2018, it’s gotten a lot of use. But one player is officially laying claim to it. Representatives of Dolphins defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick last week filed a trademark application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office on his behalf. Fitzpatrick — Minkah, that is — wants to sell merchandise and apparel using the moniker. His mother said the Alabama product, whom the Dolphins took 11th overall in April’s draft, has used the nickname since high school.

New England Patriots: Down 14-0 to Jacksonville after the first quarter Sunday, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels huddled together the offense — and yelled. He explained why on a conference call. “Our overall performance, I feel like that’s what my job is and so I didn’t do a good enough job obviously on Sunday,” he said. “We didn’t score enough points, didn’t produce enough first downs, didn’t control the game at all, and we weren’t playing as well as any of us would like at that point in the day. I think part of coaching is understanding there’s times where you do things quietly and pull somebody aside, and there’s other times where you either just want to try to create a spark or what have you and just refocus on the things that are really important, and that’s really all I was doing.”

New York Jets: Football fans lauded the most recent season of HBO’s “Hard Knocks,” which featured the Cleveland Browns. The Jets meet the Browns on Thursday night, and coach Todd Bowles was asked this week if he learned anything about the opponent from the show. He said he hadn’t watched it. “I watch ‘Power’ and ‘Queen of the South’ and that is about it,” he said. “That’s my leisure time.” The 2010 Jets, coached by the animated Rex Ryan, were the subject of “Hard Knocks” that season. Would Bowles ever want his team on the show? “If I had to do it, we’d do it,” he said. “But, I’d probably be the most boring person on the show. I don’t think they want to come this way.”

–Field Level Media

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Too many receivers in Dallas? Beasley says no

Too many receivers in Dallas? Beasley says no

Dallas Cowboys: With the addition of Brice Butler, the Cowboys now have seven wide receivers. One of them, Cole Beasley, doesn't seem worried about how quarterback Dak Prescott will distribute the ball. "Like I've been saying, the strength is in the group," Beasley said, via

Too many receivers in Dallas? Beasley says no

Dallas Cowboys: With the addition of Brice Butler, the Cowboys now have seven wide receivers. One of them, Cole Beasley, doesn’t seem worried about how quarterback Dak Prescott will distribute the ball. “Like I’ve been saying, the strength is in the group,” Beasley said, via The Dallas Morning News. “We don’t need a No. 1, superstar-type guy. When you spread the ball around and each guy just makes their plays when their number is called upon, it’s like the same thing. I think it just makes us that much harder to defend, not knowing where the ball is going to go.”

New York Giants: Coach Pat Shurmur has named veteran John Greco as the starting center, replacing Jon Halapio. Halapio was lost for the season with a broken leg and broken ankle that he suffered during the 20-13 loss to the Cowboys on Sunday night. “We’ll start with John and then obviously get Spencer [Pulley] ready to go,” Shurmur said during a conference call. “We have guys on the roster who have played center. John Greco went in there and played and then we brought in Spencer Pulley on the roster who played all last season at center [with the Chargers], so we’ve got guys that have done it and they’ll just slide up and get ready to go.”

Philadelphia Eagles: Quarterback Carson Wentz will reclaim his starting spot Sunday, more than nine months after suffering a serious knee injury. And one of the men charged with protecting him, right tackle Lane Johnson, doesn’t want him to try to do too much. “All he has to do is just be Carson Wentz,” Johnson said, via the team’s website. “You don’t have to be Superman. You don’t have to go out of the way to make plays, just do what you do. Don’t overcomplicate it. He just needs to be him. He’s super-talented, super-humble, and works hard man, so he’ll be fine.”

Washington Redskins: Safety D.J. Swearinger said his team might have gotten too self-satisfied after a Week 1 win when it came time to the following game — a 21-9 home loss to Indianapolis. “We can’t relax,” he told the Washington Post. “Last week … for whatever reason, there was complacency in the building. But we haven’t done anything, so we should never get complacent around here. I feel like we just gotta work as hard as we can this week to be focused on the little things and the little details, because they’re going to be huge going against [Week 3 opponent] Green Bay.”

–Field Level Media

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Steelers worry about wobbly O-line

Steelers worry about wobbly O-line

Baltimore Ravens: Left tackle Ronnie Stanley is expected to be a game-time decision Sunday when Von Miller and the Denver Broncos are in town. When Stanley was hurt last Thursday at Cincinnati, he was replaced by right tackle James Hurst, and Orlando Brown Jr. entered the game at

Steelers worry about wobbly O-line

Baltimore Ravens: Left tackle Ronnie Stanley is expected to be a game-time decision Sunday when Von Miller and the Denver Broncos are in town. When Stanley was hurt last Thursday at Cincinnati, he was replaced by right tackle James Hurst, and Orlando Brown Jr. entered the game at right tackle. Neither matchup is ideal for the Ravens against Miller, who has 4.0 sacks in two games to lead the NFL. Stanley would not confirm reports that he injured his right arm, and said he wouldn’t have final say in whether he plays this week. “It is coach Harbaugh’s decision,” Stanley said.

Cincinnati Bengals: With kicker issues aplenty around the league, the Bengals this week moved to lock up placekicker Randy Bullock with a two-year extension through the 2020 season. Bullock has made all 12 of his kicks this season (four field goals) and 27 of 30 field goals with the Bengals. Head coach Marvin Lewis said his confidence in Bullock was high, but it wasn’t always that way. Bullock missed two extra points and a potential game-winning field goal last season. At that time, Lewis said the misses “affect our patience level.”

Cleveland Browns: When you have one victory in a span of 37 games, progress is measured any way possible. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor is expecting the Browns to realize a major breakthrough this season, and the fourth quarter of the last week’s game at New Orleans is a big reason why. “For us to take the ball down and score in a critical moment and then to get the ball back down the field for a chance to tie the game was definitely some growth,” said Taylor, who completed a pair of passes to set up the potential game-tying field goal in the final 21 seconds of the loss. “It is our job to keep getting better.”

Pittsburgh Steelers: While the Tampa Bay Buccaneers voice optimism first-round pick Vita Vea could be in the lineup on “Monday Night Football,” the Steelers are still gauging the availability of both of their offensive guards, David DeCastro and Ramon Foster. DeCastro didn’t play Week 2 with a fractured hand, and Foster is “managing a knee injury,” according to coach Mike Tomlin. Offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert (hamstring) is also on the injury report. DeCastro said he hopes his injury would be a one-game issue. Tomlin would only say DeCastro “has a chance” to go against the Buccaneers. Vea, a 347-pound nose tackle, has been mostly idle since being carted off the field with a calf injury on July 29. His return would give Tampa Bay a likely jolt alongside Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy.

–Field Level Media

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A ‘little sore,’ Packers’ Rodgers gets ready for Redskins

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers channeled a fictional prize fighter to describe how he felt after playing the Minnesota Vikings.

"If you've seen (the movie) 'Rocky III,' you know Clubber Lang has a prediction before the fight: 'Pain,'" Rodgers said with a smile on Wednesday. "That's kind of what it felt

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers channeled a fictional prize fighter to describe how he felt after playing the Minnesota Vikings.

“If you’ve seen (the movie) ‘Rocky III,’ you know Clubber Lang has a prediction before the fight: ‘Pain,'” Rodgers said with a smile on Wednesday. “That’s kind of what it felt like.”

Rodgers said that he remained a “little sore” following the 29-29 tie against Minnesota last week when he played with a brace to protect his injured left knee.

It’s not the only pain that he felt.

With limited mobility, Rodgers was knocked around by the Vikings’ top defense for four sacks and nine quarterback hits.

Rodgers played well, though, and completed 30 of 42 passes for 281 yards and one touchdown. He even rushed three times for 8 yards, including a 7-yard scramble to convert a third-and-7 on the Packers’ first touchdown drive.

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

Rodgers didn’t practice on Wednesday.

Coming off a Sunday night victory over Chicago in Week 1 and playing 10 additional minutes against Minnesota in Week 2, coach Mike McCarthy scrapped practice in favor of a walk-through as his team began prep for the road game Sunday against the Washington Redskins.

“We’re pretty beat up coming off a night and then 4 2/3 quarters on Sunday. Just trying to be smart about it,” Rodgers said.

McCarthy wouldn’t commit to Rodgers practicing on Thursday, which is typically the Packers’ heaviest practice day of the week.

“We’re still in a day-by-day mode,” McCarthy said.

Rodgers, who acknowledged the injury could get worse before it gets better, practiced on Saturday before facing Minnesota. He would like to practice at least once this week to get ready for Washington.

“I’m going to need to see certain looks in the walkthroughs to replace those reps I may or not get in practice and try and get out there at least one day this week and feel good about the stuff we have moving on into Sunday,” Rodgers said.

MATTHEWS PENALTY

The NFL announced this week that it would use linebacker Clay Matthews’ roughing-the-passer penalty on Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins as part of its weekly teaching video provided to teams. A similar hit on Rodgers by Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks would also be part of the video.

The flag on Matthews overturned an interception by cornerback Jaire Alexander that could have allowed the Packers to run out the clock for a win.

“We haven’t changed anything with the way we’re coaching our players,” McCarthy said.

Rodgers, who suffered a broken collarbone following a hit by Minnesota’s Anthony Barr last season, said the league has gone too far in protecting quarterbacks.

“I think we enjoy the protection below the knee and above the shoulders, but I don’t know many quarterbacks who want those calls,” he said. “The one on me, I don’t think that’s roughing the passer, either.

Added Rodgers: “There’s a goal to limit these hits but they’re pretty obvious when you see them — you know, a guy picking somebody up and full weight on them. What do you say to Clay? His head is out of it. His hand is on the ground. That’s not roughing the passer. Same thing with Kendricks. What do you say to him on that?”

Rodgers said he did not get up from the turf after the hit from Kendricks looking for a penalty. He called himself a traditionalist.

“I’ve watched the game and loved the game for a long time, and some of the rules I think help,” Rodgers said, “but some of the rules maybe are going the wrong direction.”

Notes: RB Aaron Jones is back following a two-game suspension, but his “role will be secondary” to that of Jamaal Williams and Ty Montgomery, McCarthy said. … The team released CB Deate Burton to make room on the roster to activate Jones. … McCarthy did not expect CB Kevin King (groin) to play this week, though he did not think it would be a long-term issue.

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Wide Open: Redskins hoping to get more out of receivers

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — Alex Smith met his new receivers for the first time shortly before throwing to them in practice.

Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden hopes his quarterback will have other targets this weekend.

The Redskins signed veterans Michael Floyd and Breshad Perriman this week with rookies Cam Sims and Trey Quinn

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — Alex Smith met his new receivers for the first time shortly before throwing to them in practice.

Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden hopes his quarterback will have other targets this weekend.

The Redskins signed veterans Michael Floyd and Breshad Perriman this week with rookies Cam Sims and Trey Quinn already on injured reserve, Paul Richardson is nursing a sore shoulder and Maurice Harris is coming back from a concussion. Gruden would love for Richardson and Harris to be ready to face the Packers on Sunday, but either way, Washington’s receivers have to be better than they were in a lackluster loss to Indianapolis.

“We’ve got to catch the ball,” Richardson said Wednesday. “A lot of it is playmaking with getting the ball in our hands. I think if we do that, especially the earlier we get the ball in our hands — the earlier the better — we can make somebody miss and go extend plays.”

Smith has no shortage of weapons on offense, from running backs Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson to tight end Jordan Reed and wideouts Richardson, Jamison Crowder and Josh Doctson. But when the Colts made the Redskins one-dimensional by taking the lead and limiting Peterson to 20 yards on 11 carries, the passing game wasn’t able to compensate.

Throws that were just off or dropped cost Washington critical first downs, and it’s clear the chemistry between Smith and his receivers is a work in progress.

“It’s a process that never ends,” Smith said. “You’re constantly working at that.”

Everything worked during a Week 1 victory at Arizona, but the Redskins could barely move the ball down the field against Indianapolis. The Colts took away Reed more often than not, a blueprint the Packers and future opponents could follow if the rest of the offense doesn’t get in better sync.

“Guys just got to win their matchups, show that they can win and give (Smith) confidence,” Reed said. “We’ve got a lot of playmakers on this team, a lot of guys that can win their matchups one-on-one. We’ve just got to keep getting better and get in that rhythm.”

It would be difficult for Floyd and Perriman to get into that rhythm right away, though it might be necessary. Richardson did not practice Wednesday despite an MRI exam showing no damage to his shoulder, and his status is questionable.

Harris, on the other hand, could make his season debut after missing roughly a month with a concussion. Gruden said Harris was cleared to practice and could give Washington the kind of jump-and-catch ability Doctson was supposed to as a 2016 first-round pick.

Richardson was signed during the offseason to give the Redskins downfield speed they’ve lacked since the departure of DeSean Jackson. Perriman has the same profile, and whether he or Richardson is active against Green Bay, the deep ball is something that needs to develop for the offense to have success.

“It’s rare that you want your quarterbacks to be forcing those throws, especially over the top of coverage if coverage is there,” Richardson said. “You’ve got to hit (defenses) intermediate and then you catch them trying to jump those low routes or intermediate routes and you make them pay over the top.”

NOTES: LG Shaun Lauvao did not practice because of a calf injury and could miss some time. Gruden said if Lauvao can’t play against the Packers, C Chase Roullier would slide over and Tony Bergstrom would start in the middle. … LB Zach Brown did not practice because of an oblique injuries, and RG Brandon Scherff and LT Trent Williams were limited with knee injuries.

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Carr showing progress for Raiders under Gruden’s coaching

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) — Derek Carr took a big step from his first game under coach Jon Gruden to game No. 2.

Instead of throwing the ball too often to the opposing team, Carr completed passes at a record-setting pace in last week's loss at Denver that gave the Oakland Raiders hope that

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) — Derek Carr took a big step from his first game under coach Jon Gruden to game No. 2.

Instead of throwing the ball too often to the opposing team, Carr completed passes at a record-setting pace in last week’s loss at Denver that gave the Oakland Raiders hope that the offense under Gruden is progressing in a way that should pay dividends soon.

Carr completed 29 of 32 passes against the Broncos after throwing three interceptions in a season-opening loss to the Rams. He became the first player in NFL history to complete at least 90 percent of passes on 30 or more attempts, even though the Raiders (0-2) lost 20-19.

While many of those throws may have been short and come out quickly, Gruden is happy with the production.

“Throwing the ball on time and accurate is a big part of winning football,” he said Wednesday. “We hope to get some big chunk plays. We’re making an attempt to do that. I think you’ll see some more of that hopefully as the year unfolds.”

Through two games under Gruden, Carr’s average pass is traveling only 5.3 yards down field, according to NextGen stats from the NFL. That’s the second-lowest mark in the league and comes in part because he is getting rid of the ball faster than every starter other than Ryan Tannehill and Drew Brees.

Carr said he’s not avoiding deep passes by design and pointed to the eight play-action attempts called against Denver that could have led to big plays.

“You do have shot plays, but sometimes you have to check them down and get 6 yards,” he said. “Third-and-4 is a lot better than third-and-10 with a missed shot. The coverages change, the pressures change, the schemes change, the personnel changes.”

While the propensity to get rid of the ball quickly may make it harder to get big plays it does come with the benefit of avoiding the bad ones.

Carr has been sacked just twice all season despite facing fierce pass rushes against the Rams and Denver and having a rookie at left tackle in Kolton Miller and right tackle Donald Penn playing a new position after spending his entire career on the left side.

Gruden said his new tackles have fared well but Carr gets some of the credit too for his ability to change plays and protections at the line of scrimmage.

“The great quarterbacks protect themselves as much as some of the protection protects them,” Gruden said. “They don’t hold the ball a significant amount of time. They have a feel for pressure. They avoid the catastrophic plays. He has a good feel for pressure and when to let it go and when to hold onto it.”

The Raiders have started strong the first two weeks, scoring a touchdown on the opening drive against the Rams and a field goal last week in Denver. But Oakland has been held to four field goals and one touchdown in its other 19 drives.

That’s why Carr sees plenty of room for improvement despite throwing just three incompletions last week.

As pleased as Gruden was with the progress from game 1 to 2 that was helped by a breakout game from Amari Cooper, who caught all 10 of his targets for 116 yards, there is still plenty to work on.

“As soon as I come into the building he says, ‘Good job, but let’s talk about the three you messed up,'” Carr said. “Let’s talk about those. That’s how it will always be. He always pushes me.”

Carr is enjoying the process of learning the offense with Gruden after spending his first four years with defensive-minded head coaches.

Carr said he’s getting better each week anticipating Gruden’s play calls before they happen, which puts him in better position to make adjustments at the line of scrimmage when needed.

“I’m thinking the same way he is,” Carr said. “That has a lot to do with the way he trains the quarterback, he wants us to think the same way he does. If he calls a play, I know why he wants it and if they give us a different look I know what play he wants me to go to.”

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Titans’ Mariota still dealing with weakness in throwing hand

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Marcus Mariota wakes up every morning hoping his injured right hand feels better.

Unfortunately for the Tennessee Titans quarterback, the weakness is still there, along with numbness and tingling in two fingers.

That's why Mariota was limited Wednesday at practice for the Titans, even as he cut up a

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Marcus Mariota wakes up every morning hoping his injured right hand feels better.

Unfortunately for the Tennessee Titans quarterback, the weakness is still there, along with numbness and tingling in two fingers.

That’s why Mariota was limited Wednesday at practice for the Titans, even as he cut up a glove to cover those two fingers hoping to give himself a better grip of the football.

“I think it’s close, but again we’re going to just take it one day at a time,” Mariota said.

Mariota hurt the elbow on his throwing arm in the season opener, a 27-20 loss in Miami. He was intercepted twice after the injury, and Mariota still finds himself dealing with the expected injury that affects both the velocity with which he throws and the spin he can put on the ball.

“Honestly, it is hard,” Mariota said. “The way that they explained it to me is like when you strum like a guitar string. When that string settles down, that’s kind of similar to how my nerve is. My nerve’s kind of been strummed, and it’s going to take its time to settle down.”

A week ago, both Vrabel and Mariota said they thought the quarterback would be able to play in the Titans’ home opener against Houston last weekend. But the numbness and tingling in Mariota’s right, throwing hand didn’t ease enough late in the week.

So coaches added some wildcat to the offense with Derrick Henry, and backup Blaine Gabbert got the 46th start of his NFL career with his fourth different team. Gabbert earned a game ball throwing for 117 yards with a touchdown and no turnovers in a 20-17 win over Houston.

Mariota hasn’t missed consecutive games since his rookie season when separate knee sprains cost him two games apiece. With Mariota limited Wednesday, the Titans (1-1) split the work Wednesday at practice as they prepare to visit AFC South rival Jacksonville (2-0).

“That’s all you can do, is make sure to get guys ready that could play in the game for anything that may come up,” Vrabel said. “Then, have to make a decision that you know is in the best interest of the team later in the week.”

Jacksonville coach Doug Marrone said the Jaguars are preparing to see both Mariota and Gabbert. Mariota beat the Jaguars twice last season , and Gabbert also notched a win against the team that drafted him at No. 10 overall in the 2011 draft. Gabbert’s second start for Arizona came Nov. 26, and he led the Cardinals to a win over the Jaguars throwing for 241 yards with two touchdowns and only one interception.

“We just make sure that we work on both quarterbacks,” Marrone said. “Both quarterbacks have done well versus us. We know it’s going to be a challenge. Gabbert beat us last year when he was in Arizona, so they have a lot of respect for both of those guys.”

Whoever starts at quarterback should be helped by the return of two-time Pro Bowl left tackle Taylor Lewan and possibly even right tackle Jack Conklin.

Lewan suffered a concussion in the season opener in Miami, and Conklin tore his left ACL in January. Both were limited Wednesday, and Vrabel said Lewan still has to be cleared by an outside doctor, which they hope happens Thursday. Backup tackle Dennis Kelly, who replaced Conklin during the opener, was not at the facility after being released from the hospital.

“That would be great to get as many guys back as we possibly could,” Vrabel said.

Notes: RB Derrick Henry (back) was limited in practice Wednesday as well, along with TE Luke Stocker (calf). S Kendrick Lewis (foot), who missed the first two games, was limited in his return.

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Addition by subtraction? Dolphins aren’t missing Suh

DAVIE, Fla. (AP) — Ndamukong Suh's not laughing at the Miami Dolphins' front four anymore.

The five-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle poked fun at his former team's run defense on Instagram during the exhibition season. But after two games — both wins — the run defense appears better without Suh.

Miami is allowing

DAVIE, Fla. (AP) — Ndamukong Suh’s not laughing at the Miami Dolphins’ front four anymore.

The five-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle poked fun at his former team’s run defense on Instagram during the exhibition season. But after two games — both wins — the run defense appears better without Suh.

Miami is allowing 3.3 yards per rush, which ranks third in the NFL. That’s a big improvement over last year’s average of 4.1, which ranked 16th.

And while the pass rush has totaled only three sacks, Miami has mustered enough pressure to force five interceptions, which is tied for the league lead entering Sunday’s game against Oakland.

It has been a collective effort to replace Suh, with all nine defensive linemen on the roster seeing significant playing time.

“Those guys have done a good job,” coach Adam Gase said Wednesday. “They’re doing well as a unit. I love the fact that they’re all contributing.”

In last week’s win at the Jets , eight defensive linemen had at least one tackle. The ninth — Charles Harris — had a sack negated by penalty.

The front four totaled 21 tackles, including nine for losses.

“We’re just trying to be great,” said tackle Davon Godchaux, who had six tackles. That’s a total Suh reached only once last year.

When asked if the Dolphins miss Suh, Godchaux responded with laughter.

“Y’all are going to give me a trick question,” he chortled as he walked away.

Following the offseason departure of Suh and several other star players, Gase said the locker room culture had improved. And he said the rotation system with the front four is working better than in his first two seasons.

Godchaux shares time with tackles Jordan Phillips, Vincent Taylor and Akeem Spence.

“We’re definitely buying into it,” Godchaux said. “Everybody is a starter. We don’t look at it as if a guy is a backup. We label all nine guys as starters.”

Better depth and shared snaps could help the Dolphins avoid a repeat of last year’s collapse in the run defense. Over the final 10 weeks they allowed 127 yards per game rushing — and won only twice.

There’s already a difference in how fresh the front four looks. Gase notes a particular improvement in passing situations.

“That’s the thing I love about when we get to third down,” he said. “We’ve got four guys going out there that are ready to rush the passer.”

The top pass rushers are Cameron Wake, who is 36 but seems ageless, and veteran newcomer Robert Quinn. Between them they have seven Pro Bowl berths.

“The addition of Quinn is huge,” Raiders coach Jon Gruden said. “He has given them supreme effort opposite Cameron Wake. And they have a very good unit inside that can generate pressure as well. It’s a combination of new players, new energy and the scheme. It’s fun to watch them. Unfortunately we’ve got a lot of work to do to get ready.”

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Veteran John Greco starting at center for injured Halapio

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — After joining the New York Giants as a late-season addition, veteran offensive lineman John Greco came to training camp as somewhat of a bubble guy on the roster.

Both a guard and center, the 33-year-old seemed to be the odd guy out at both spots.

Jon Halapio and

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — After joining the New York Giants as a late-season addition, veteran offensive lineman John Greco came to training camp as somewhat of a bubble guy on the roster.

Both a guard and center, the 33-year-old seemed to be the odd guy out at both spots.

Jon Halapio and Brett Jones were the top centers, and rookie Will Hernandez and free-agent signee Patrick Omaneh were the top two guards. Greco and long-time starter John Jerry were fighting for a roster spot.

Funny thing happened. New York traded Jones to Minnesota in training camp and Greco beat out Jerry because of his ability to play center and guard.

Two-plus weeks into the season, Greco is now a starter. The 11-year veteran is getting an unexpected chance because Halapio broke his right leg and ankle in the third quarter of the 20-13 loss to the Cowboys.

“Any time you lose your partner in crime, one of your buddies in your room, you feel for him,” Greco said Wednesday as the Giants (0-2) practiced for Sunday’s game in Houston against the Texans (0-2).

“We know that he’s going to come back stronger than ever, but at the same time we just have to do everything we can this week to try to get a win. It’s going to be a tough road game, awesome atmosphere down in Houston, so we are excited about the challenge and opportunity.”

Greco is on his third tour with coach Pat Shurmur. The two also worked for the Rams, and Greco also was in Cleveland when Shurmur coached the Browns.

Greco joins an offensive line that has struggled. New York is ranked in the bottom five on offense in yards per game, total yards passing, total yards running, first downs, points and passing average. The line has allowed eight sacks, including six by the Cowboys on Sunday night.

“We just have to focus everything on in-house,” Greco said. “We don’t really listen to the talk outside, we know we have to play better and that’s the focus every week. When we get some wins it’s going to be the same thing. There’s going to be no let-up, and that’s how you’ve got to approach it.

“You can’t be complacent and when you know things aren’t going your way you just have to do everything extra, and do everything in your power to be the cause of the wins and not the cause of losses.”

Quarterback Eli Manning spoke with Greco this week and does not expect a problem making the transition.

“He’s been here all training camp,” Manning said. “We’ve worked together, we’ve gotten snaps throughout training camp and everything so that shouldn’t be a problem. He knows what’s going on. We’ve met this week, we’ve talked a bunch on some calls, making sure we’re saying the same thing and hearing things the same way.”

The bigger problem will be getting the offense in gear. Manning did not have enough time to throw and there were not many holes for rookie running back Saquon Barkley against Dallas.

“I think we’re close on things,” Manning said. “You’re going against good players and they’re going to make plays sometimes and that’s fine, but when there are opportunities and when things should be picked up or guys should be going certain ways, you got to do those things and give yourself an opportunity to make those plays when they can be there.”

Greco is looking forward to helping the offense. A year ago, he was sitting home waiting for someone to sign him.

“I knew I still had enough gas in the tank that I could’ve been playing and I was just happy I got the opportunity here last year and then again this offseason, and here we are,” he said. “So, that really hasn’t entered my mind. It’s more of a laugh thing I can do at myself but yeah, I’m excited about the opportunity.”

NOTES: LB Olivier Vernon (ankle), CB Eli Apple (hamstring) and LB Connor Barwin (knee) did not practice. Vernon has not played in a game this season. Apple was hurt Sunday. Barwin has been bothered by a nagging injury in recent weeks although he has not missed games. … Starting tight end Evan Engram (ankle) and punter returner Kaelin Clay (ankle) were limited. … New York signed FB Elijhaa Penny off Arizona’s practice squad. Halapio, who had surgery Monday, was placed on injured reserve to make room for him.

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We Know Drama; Steelers enduring another bumpy patch

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Bud Dupree just smiled earlier this month when asked what would happen if the "Hard Knocks" cameras decided to spend a month embedded with the team during training camp.

"We're too real for TV," Dupree said with a grin.

Dupree meant it as a joke. Two weeks

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Bud Dupree just smiled earlier this month when asked what would happen if the “Hard Knocks” cameras decided to spend a month embedded with the team during training camp.

“We’re too real for TV,” Dupree said with a grin.

Dupree meant it as a joke. Two weeks later, nobody is laughing.

The Steelers (0-1-1) are winless heading into next Monday’s visit to Tampa Bay and the distractions they stressed the importance of avoiding in 2018 only seem to be multiplying.

The latest arrived in the aftermath of a loss to Kansas City when All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown opted to skip work on Monday, though he did find the time to hop on Twitter and respond to criticism by a former team employee who believes Brown should be thankful that he plays alongside quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

No one took Brown’s suggestion of “trade me let’s find out ” seriously. Coach Mike Tomlin’s bigger concern was Brown’s absence from a mandatory day of meetings, a misstep that led to an extended sit-down between the two on Tuesday.

“I’ll leave the nature of that conversation between us,” Tomlin said Wednesday. “There was discipline involved for his missed meeting for Monday. Some of the other things we talked about extensively, he’ll speak for himself in some of those things. Really our focus is preparing to win this game on Monday night.”

Tomlin did not outline Brown’s punishment. The only player in NFL history with five consecutive seasons of at least 100 receptions practiced alongside his teammates on Wednesday and there appears to be no plans to have him sit when the Steelers play the Buccaneers (2-0).

Asked if he expects Brown to face Tampa Bay, center Maurkice Pouncey responded “100 percent” and insisted there would be no blowback against Brown in the locker room for another in an increasing line of highly visible missteps.

“People don’t know the things he has going on in his life, he’s totally fine,” Pouncey said. “He talked to the people he needed to talk to and confirmed why he wasn’t here and we move on as a team and that’s totally fine.”

Pouncey’s remarks came two weeks after he and the rest of the offensive line vented about running back Le’Veon Bell’s decision to stay away from the team rather than sign his one-year franchise tender and two months after Pouncey opened training camp by saying “I know it’s all fun and games for everybody at the beginning but man it’s time to win.”

And yet here the Steelers are, tied with Cleveland for last place in the AFC North while Bell jet skis in Florida and Brown flouts team rules . Roethlisberger did his best to downplay any sense of the off-the-field issues swallowing the team whole.

“I mean any team, any sport is going to have some kind of distractions throughout the year,” Roethlisberger said. “I think that’s what makes you professional. How can you respond and recover from it.”

The best chance Pittsburgh has at crawling out of its self-created funk must come with Brown in the fold. Cameras caught him shouting at offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner in the second half, hardly the first time Brown has let his anger bubble to the surface when things aren’t going well.

“I think that he’s the best in the world and when you’re the best in the world you want to participate, you want to win football games,” Roethlisberger said. “We’re all a little frustrated because we’re not winning right now.”

It’s not as if Brown has been frozen out of the offense. He’s been targeted a league-high 33 times and his 18 receptions are tied for the team lead with JuJu Smith-Schuster. Brown, however, is averaging just 8.9 yards per catch, a byproduct of defenses determined to take away his breakaway ability.

“AB is a very passionate football player,” Roethlisberger said. “We know that. The fans know that. That’s what makes him special is his passion for this game and the passion to be great. We’re not going to want to take that away from him.”

If anything, at least Roethlisberger and company have become accustomed to talking about the latest off-the-field dustup. They won 13 games in a 2017 that often felt chaotic and why they shrugged when asked if there’s a cumulative toll of spending so much time answering questions that have little to do with their play.

“It can if you let it control you,” cornerback Artie Burns said. “I think we do a good job of trying to keep the camaraderie together as a team and just focus on week to week. You never know what may come up on the headlines or whatever, so you’ve got to prepare for it.”

The Steelers are certainly getting plenty of practice.

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Vikings RB Cook (hamstring) sits out practice

Vikings RB Cook (hamstring) sits out practice

Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook did not practice Wednesday, reportedly calling himself day-to-day as he recovers from a hamstring injury suffered in last Sunday's tie with the Green Bay Packers.

Cook departed in the fourth quarter of the 29-29 tie, but after

Vikings RB Cook (hamstring) sits out practice

Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook did not practice Wednesday, reportedly calling himself day-to-day as he recovers from a hamstring injury suffered in last Sunday’s tie with the Green Bay Packers.

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

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

If the injury lingers, the Vikings would likely hand the bulk of their carries to Latavius Murray on Sunday when they host the Buffalo Bills.

In two games this season, Cook has struggled to build much momentum on the ground. He has rushed 26 times for just 78 yards (3.0 yards per carry), though he has also caught nine passes for 107 yards.

A second-round pick by Minnesota in 2017, Cook totaled 444 yards from scrimmage in 3 1/2 games last season before suffering a season-ending ACL injury.

–Field Level Media

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Chiefs unleash deep, talented arsenal on opposing defenses

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs were desperate for help at cornerback this past season, especially after trading Marcus Peters, yet general manager Brett Veach made what at the time was a curious decision.

He spent what little remained of his salary cap on Sammy Watkins.

The Chiefs were already

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs were desperate for help at cornerback this past season, especially after trading Marcus Peters, yet general manager Brett Veach made what at the time was a curious decision.

He spent what little remained of his salary cap on Sammy Watkins.

The Chiefs were already loaded on offense with a veteran offensive line, a speedster in Tyreek Hill, the reigning rushing champion in Kareem Hunt and one of the league’s best tight ends in Travis Kelce.

So most critics figured adding Watkins to the mix would create just as many problems in keeping everybody happy as it would benefit an offense that was already potent.

Well, the Chiefs are 2-0. Everybody has had a hand in it. And if anybody has reason to gloat it would be Veach, who coach Andy Reid said was merely targeting the best available free agent.

“We felt if we were going to spend money on a free agent, try to get the best one. It doesn’t matter what side of the ball,” Reid said Wednesday. “I don’t think (Veach) was thinking of putting him with Patrick Mahomes or short-changing the defense, he was just getting the best player he could.”

Mahomes has certainly been the beneficiary of all those options. He’s off to a record-setting start to his career as the starter, throwing 10 touchdown passes without an interception and earning the AFC’s offensive player of the week award in back-to-back weeks.

“When you have the weapons we have spread across the field, Sammy and Tyreek on one side, all those guys on the other, the defense has to choose where they’re going to cover,” Mahomes said. “So we just try to take the best matchup on each play.”

The matchup nightmare for the Chargers in Week 1 was Hill, who dominated the Chiefs’ AFC West rivals with seven catches for 169 yards and two touchdowns. Six others caught passes, two for scores, including fullback Anthony Sherman — affectionately known as “Sausage” — on a wheel route down the sideline.

Hill didn’t even have a first-half catch against the Steelers last week.

Instead it was Kelce and Watkins, who were largely shut out by Los Angeles, that led the Chiefs to a 42-37 victory. Kelce had seven catches for 109 yards and two touchdowns, the highlight a fastball from Mahomes between three defenders, while Watkins hauled in six passes for 100 yards.

Of course, Hill had to have a part in the fun, pulling in five catches for 90 yards and a score after the break. Hunt provided some offensive balance with 18 carries for 75 yards and TD catch.

“I knew it would just take settling down and getting used to making plays,” Watkins said. “I’m not really a statistics guy. I’m really about winning and that’s what it’s all about.”

The numbers have been plenty gaudy, though.

The Chiefs are averaging 405.5 yards, sixth-best in the league, and are second in yards-per-play at 7.2. They’re averaging a league-best 40 points, have only allowed two sacks and have scored touchdowns on all of their drives inside the opposing 20-yard line.

They’ve also given the ball away just once, on a fumble against the Steelers.

“You know, I think we envisioned having a lot of talent. There’s definitely a lot of talent on this offense,” Chiefs wide receiver Chris Conley said. “The fact that we’ve been able to get everyone involved is maybe a little bit better than we even expected.”

Conley celebrated the lack of egos on the Chiefs offense — nobody is demanding the ball or throwing tantrums on the sideline when it doesn’t come their way. He also praised the way the skill players worked together this past offseason, spending the extra time necessary to develop their rapport.

“We practice with the mentality that whoever is out there is ready to make a play when called upon,” he said. “So far we’ve been able to get a lot of guys involved and we’re going to continue to build upon that. Guys are interchangeable because they know the offense so well.”

Now the question is whether an opposing defense can figure it out.

Good luck trying to decide who to take away.

“With this offense,” Mahomes said, “there’s always an answer.”

Notes: Safety Eric Berry (Achilles tendon) remained out of practice Wednesday. He’s been out since the early portion of training camp, though Reid insisted he’s “getting better.” … DT Chris Jones missed the workout with a slight groin strain, though Reid sounded optimistic that he will be available this week.

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Jets waive 2017 third-rounder WR ArDarius Stewart

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — The New York Jets have waived wide receiver ArDarius Stewart, who served a two-game suspension to start the season.

Stewart was a third-round draft pick last year out of Alabama and caught six passes for 82 yards in 15 games as a rookie. He also had seven rushes

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — The New York Jets have waived wide receiver ArDarius Stewart, who served a two-game suspension to start the season.

Stewart was a third-round draft pick last year out of Alabama and caught six passes for 82 yards in 15 games as a rookie. He also had seven rushes for 27 yards.

Stewart was suspended two games by the NFL after violating the league’s policy on performance enhancers. He returned to the team Monday. The Jets had a two-day roster exemption and needed to either activate him and cut someone in his place, or waive him.

With the team’s decision Wednesday, both of the wide receivers the Jets drafted last year — Stewart and fourth-rounder Chad Hansen — have been waived. Hansen was among New York’s final cuts earlier this month.

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Domata Peko renews his rivalry with the Ravens

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Denver Broncos 13th-year nose tackle Domata Peko always has the ears of his young teammates, especially this week with a trip to Baltimore coming up.

The Ravens (1-1) are a team Peko faced 22 times while anchoring the Cincinnati Bengals defensive line from 2006-16.

"Baltimore is a tough place

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Denver Broncos 13th-year nose tackle Domata Peko always has the ears of his young teammates, especially this week with a trip to Baltimore coming up.

The Ravens (1-1) are a team Peko faced 22 times while anchoring the Cincinnati Bengals defensive line from 2006-16.

“Baltimore is a tough place to play,” said Peko, who’s coming off a spectacular game against the Raiders on Sunday. “I played there 11 years in a row in the AFC North and it’s a tough division. The crowd is going to be loud as heck.”

Which makes it imperative for the Broncos (2-0) to get off to a fast start, Peko said.

That’s something they didn’t do either on offense or defense in squeaking past the Raiders 20-19 .

“You have to get after them early, show them you mean business, get that run stopped and you definitely have to get pressure on (Joe) Flacco because he can sit back there and he can throw the deep ball like the best of them,” Peko said.

Broncos fans need no reminder of that.

Seared in their collective memory is Flacco heaving a 70-yard touchdown throw to Jacoby Jones with 31 seconds left in a divisional playoff game in 2013 that led to Baltimore’s double-overtime upset of the top-seeded Broncos in Peyton Manning’s first season in Denver.

“You definitely have to start fast against those guys,” Peko said.

Last week, the Broncos trailed 12-0 at halftime and 19-7 in the third quarter before rallying behind Case Keenum ‘s second straight fourth-quarter comeback.

Coach Vance Joseph said this week that his cornerbacks played too soft in the first half, allowing Derek Carr to get too comfortable in completing 29 of 32 passes for a franchise-record 90.6 completion percentage.

The Broncos also sputtered from the start on offense, going three-and-out on their first three drives while their most explosive player thus far — rookie running back Phillip Lindsay — cooled his cleats on the sideline.

When Lindsay got into the game, he reeled off a 53-yard run on his first carry and finished as the first undrafted player in NFL history to eclipse 100 yards from scrimmage in his first two NFL games.

At halftime, Joseph ordered defensive adjustments, taking away the huge cushions they were giving Oakland’s receivers, and the offense make its own corrections. Following six fruitless first-half possessions, the Broncos scored on all four of their second-half drives.

In studying the Broncos, Harbaugh sees a familiar sight in Peko, who looks to him like every bit the thorn he was for the Ravens during his time with the Bengals.

“He’s the same guy, just he’s a hard-edge football player. Just lots and lots of respect for that guy,” Harbaugh said. “I mean, he’s physical, he’s tough, plays super hard. I don’t know how he’s built but he’s got a sixth sense for screens. He sniffs those things out like nobody’s business. He always has.

“He’s a screen wrecker. Just a very physical, very tough, very smart player and we’ve got a lot of respect for him.”

Joseph, who was on Marvin Lewis’ staff in Cincinnati from 2014-15, agreed with Harbaugh’s assessment that Peko hasn’t lost a step at age 33.

“Being around Domata in Cincinnati, he’s always been a guy that played with great energy — for a big guy, to move like he does and to hold double-teams like he does, and obviously read screens like he does? He’s a screen killer and he’s been that way since I’ve known Domata,” Joseph said. “He’s a great locker room guy, a great team leader and he played really well last week.”

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Bills’ McCoy says child abuse allegations are ‘ridiculous’

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy is defending himself against allegations that he abused his 6-year-old son. He is calling the allegations "ridiculous" and says they're being made by people with something to gain.

McCoy spoke after practice Wednesday, a day after being called "a monster" by his

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy is defending himself against allegations that he abused his 6-year-old son. He is calling the allegations “ridiculous” and says they’re being made by people with something to gain.

McCoy spoke after practice Wednesday, a day after being called “a monster” by his son’s mother in a court document filed in Georgia.

Stephanie Maisonet also said she agreed to defend McCoy against allegations of abuse made by his ex-girlfriend even though she said she knew the accusations to be true. Maisonet said she made the deal only after McCoy offered to drop a custody case.

McCoy responded by accusing Maisonet of having something to gain. He said he loves his son and is still fighting for custody.

The running back’s off-field troubles spilled over into the Bills facility as the team prepares to play at Minnesota on Sunday.

McCoy’s playing status is uncertain. He hurt his ribs in a loss to the Los Angeles Chargers last weekend.

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Jets S Maye doubtful vs. Browns; LB Martin, TE Sterling out

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — New York Jets starting safety Marcus Maye is doubtful to play in the team's game Thursday night against the Cleveland Browns because of a foot injury.

Maye has not played in a regular-season game because of the ailment. The Jets have not specified the nature of the injury.

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — New York Jets starting safety Marcus Maye is doubtful to play in the team’s game Thursday night against the Cleveland Browns because of a foot injury.

Maye has not played in a regular-season game because of the ailment. The Jets have not specified the nature of the injury. Maye had arthroscopic ankle surgery in the offseason, but this latest injury is unrelated.

Doug Middleton has filled in for Maye in the starting lineup and ranks fourth on the team with 11 tackles.

Outside linebacker Josh Martin and tight end Neal Sterling have been ruled out with concussions.

Everyone else on the team’s injury report Wednesday is listed as a full practice participant and available to play.

Martin has not played since suffering his head injury in the Jets’ third preseason game against the Giants. Sterling was injured last Sunday against Miami.

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Texans blast educator for ‘black QB’ comment about Watson

HOUSTON (AP) — The Houston Texans fired back Wednesday at an East Texas school superintendent who wrote: "You can't count on a black quarterback," in the comment section of an online news article where he was criticizing quarterback Deshaun Watson.

Lynn Redden is superintendent of the Onalaska Independent School District in the Piney

HOUSTON (AP) — The Houston Texans fired back Wednesday at an East Texas school superintendent who wrote: “You can’t count on a black quarterback,” in the comment section of an online news article where he was criticizing quarterback Deshaun Watson.

Lynn Redden is superintendent of the Onalaska Independent School District in the Piney Woods, about 75 miles north of Houston. In his post in the comment section of a story written by the Houston Chronicle and posted on Facebook, Redden referred to the last play of Sunday’s game, in which Watson let the clock run down before completing a pass to DeAndre Hopkins in a 20-17 loss to the Tennessee Titans.

Redden’s full post read: “When you need precision decision making you can’t count on a black quarterback.” It was quickly deleted, but not before another reader took a screenshot of it and sent it to the newspaper.

Coach Bill O’Brien was asked on Wednesday what he thought about the post.

“I really don’t want to waste a lot of time responding to outdated, inaccurate, ignorant, idiotic statements,” he said. “I’ll just let Deshaun (Watson’s) proven success on the field, his character off the field, speak for itself. He’s one of the greatest guys I’ve ever coached. He represents everything that’s right about football, about life.”

“His teammates respect him, his coaching staff respects him, and in this day and age, it’s just amazing that this B.S. exists,” O’Brien continued. “But it does. But we’re moving forward.”

Watson took a different tact, saying he didn’t waste any time worrying about what Redden posted.

“That’s on him,” he said. “May peace be with him. I worry about me, so I’m not worried about what he has to say.”

Watson, who is in his second year with the Texans after leading Clemson to a national championship in the 2016 season, did acknowledge that he’s dealt with racism throughout his life. But he added that he can’t let it bother him.

“It’s part of life,” he said. “I can’t control what other people what their beliefs are. I can control what I can control. I just focus on me, and that’s it.”

Watson was then asked if he believes Redden should be fired.

“That’s not my job,” Watson said. “I don’t make that decision.”

The Onalaska school board will convene a special meeting on Saturday to discuss Redden’s contract. The board also released a statement on Tuesday night condemning his post.

“Onalaska ISD regrets that an inappropriate comment has been attributed to the district’s superintendent,” the statement read.

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

Redden told the Chronicle that he believed he was sending a private message when he posted the comment and told the newspaper that he based the comment on what he called the “limited success” of black quarterbacks in the NFL.

Texans superstar defensive end J.J. Watt said he didn’t want to give Redden or his comment any attention but did voice his support for his quarterback.

“I think it’s a very ignorant comment that doesn’t deserve any more play than it should get,” Watt said. “It’s very unfortunate. But I trust him, I trust him a whole lot. We all trust him a whole lot.”

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