AFC East Preseason Grades

BUFFALO BILLS

Key Acquisitions: QB Josh Allen, QB AJ McCarron, DT Star Lotulelei, DE Trent Murphy, CB Vontae Davis, C Russell Bodine, RB Chris Ivory, LB Tremaine Edmunds, DT Harrison Phillips

Key Losses: QB Tyrod Taylor, OT Cordy Glenn, OG Richie Incognito, C Eric Wood, CB E.J. Gaines, WR Jordan Matthews, LB Preston Brown, OT Seantrel Henderson

Give Buffalo credit for recognizing that its playoff run, after being outscored by 57 points in the regular season, was a little fluky. The front office wisely took a longer view this offseason rather than spending to fight for a wild-card spot again.

Shipping off Tyrod Taylor (for the 65th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft) and Cordy Glenn (to jump nine spots in Round 1) was a start, and the returns helped the Bills trade up for Josh Allen and Tremaine Edmunds. Buffalo found bargains in AJ McCarron (two years, $10 million) as a bridge quarterback and Vontae Davis (one year, $5 million) as a buy-low cornerback. That said, the contracts for Star Lotulelei (five years, $50 million) and end Trent Murphy (three years, $22.5 million) were steep for players who affect quarterbacks less than they clog running lanes. Russell Bodine (two years, $5 million) doesn’t move the needle much, but the line was in desperate need of bodies.

That line didn’t get as many reinforcements as needed, in part because of the team’s trade-ups in the draft. It’s also fair to question the choice of Allen over Josh Rosen, who is clearly more pro-ready at this stage. If Allen can’t fix his accuracy issues and work through reads more quickly, it won’t matter that his arm can cut through Buffalo’s worst weather.

Our Take: The Bills were smart to exercise patience, but the offensive line remains leaky, which is worrisome as the team tries to develop its QB of the future — C

 

MIAMI DOLPHINS

Key Acquisitions: DE Robert Quinn, WR Danny Amendola, WR Albert Wilson, S Minkah Fitzpatrick, OG Josh Sitton, RB Frank Gore, TE Mike Gesicki, C Daniel Kilgore, LB Jerome Baker

Key Losses: DT Ndamukong Suh, WR Jarvis Landry, C Mike Pouncey, QB Jay Cutler, TE Julius Thomas, TE Anthony Fasano, OG Jermon Bushrod, K Cody Parkey

Adam Gase and the Dolphins were determined to “change the culture” in Miami, but the result was an awful lot of talent walking out the door. Three players whose resumes include a combined 11 Pro Bowls are gone after Jarvis Landry (three) was traded and Ndamukong Suh (five) and Mike Pouncey (three) were released.

The $14 million that Miami didn’t want to spend on Landry went to Danny Amendola (two years, $12 million) and Albert Wilson (three years, $24 million) in free agency. Meanwhile, Mike Gesicki was drafted to replace the ineffective Julius Thomas as the team’s receiving tight end, so Ryan Tannehill has some options. The QB, who has Gase’s full support as he returns from a torn ACL that kept him out for all of 2017, also received extra protection up front in Josh Sitton and Daniel Kilgore, who will replace Jermon Bushrod and Pouncey, respectively. Frank Gore should still be able to help the offense a bit, even at age 35. The trade of Jay Ajayi opens up an avenue for Kenyon Drake to take over as lead back.

Suh’s absence will certainly be felt in the interior pass rush, though Robert Quinn’s arrival via trade could bring more heat the edge. Drafting Minkah Fitzpatrick and Jerome Baker gives Miami better matchup pieces against opposing passing games, and their versatility could help defensive coordinator Matt Burke mix things up if he chooses.

Our Take: The Dolphins had a clear plan to prioritize character over talent, but it’s hard to see how they actually got better in the process. — C-

 

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

Key Acquisitions: DE Adrian Clayborn, OT Trent Brown, OT/G Isaiah Wynn, RB Sony Michel, CB Jason McCourty, RB Jeremy Hill, WR Jordan Matthews, CB Duke Dawson

Key Losses: OT Nate Solder, WR Brandin Cooks, CB Malcolm Butler, RB Dion Lewis, WR Danny Amendola, TE Martellus Bennett, OT Cameron Fleming

It would easy to panic at the slate of names walking out the door, but each of the departures is understandable. New England wasn’t going to make Nate Solder the highest-paid offensive lineman in NFL history, nor was it going to hand Brandin Cooks the five-year, $80 million extension he received from the Rams. Malcolm Butler’s fate was sealed at the Super Bowl, and Dion Lewis and Danny Amendola each got much more money elsewhere than New England would offer.

The Pats did manage a Hail Mary to keep offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels (and special-teams coordinator Joe Judge) in house, and they restocked the offensive line with Trent Brown (via trade) and Isaiah Wynn (first-round pick). One of the two should be the answer at Tom Brady’s blind side, while the other could provide an upgrade at guard. New England also jolted its offense (which didn’t need jolting) with the drafting of the dynamic Sony Michel, and Jeremy Hill or Jordan Matthews could pop as well.

On defense, Adrian Clayborn and Jason McCourty are typical Patriots additions — reliable veterans who do their jobs without much flash. Clayborn isn’t an explosive pass-rusher, but he sets the edge exactly how Bill Belichick prefers, and McCourty should pair with his brother, Devin, to soothe some of the communication issues that cost the secondary last year.

Our Take: The Patriots lost more talent than usual, but they regrouped and reloaded like they do every offseason. Until No. 12 declines, they aren’t going anywhere. — B-

 

NEW YORK JETS

Key Acquisitions: QB Sam Darnold, CB Trumaine Johnson, QB Teddy Bridgewater, OG/C Spencer Long, RB Isaiah Crowell, LB Avery Williamson, WR Terrelle Pryor, C Travis Swanson, K Cairo Santos, DT Nathan Shepherd

Key Losses: DE/DT Muhammad Wilkerson, LB Demario Davis, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, DE Kony Ealy, RB Matt Forte, C Wesley Johnson, K Chandler Catanzaro

The Jets’ offseason will ultimately come down to the future of Sam Darnold, who the team was delighted to nab at No. 3 overall despite having to burn three second-round picks to get there. Combined with the re-signing of feted mentor Josh McCown and the arrival of Teddy Bridgewater — who drew rave reviews for his play in offseason workouts — the quarterback depth chart is markedly improved. Elsewhere on offense, Isaiah Crowell should help replace Matt Forte, and Spencer Long and Terrelle Pryor could each pay dividends after arriving from Washington via free agency.

GM Mike Maccagnan spent even more of the team’s wealth of cap space on defense, inking former Ram Trumaine Johnson (five years, $72.5 million) to be a matchup man-coverage cornerback in a blitz-heavy scheme that demands one. That should push Morris Claiborne, who re-signed at a reasonable price (one year, $7 million), and Buster Skrine into friendlier matchups, giving Todd Bowles more freedom with his game plans and play calls.

Bowles would have loved to reunite with former Cardinal Tyrann Mathieu, who opted instead to join Houston, but the defense still gained disruptive front seven pieces in Avery Williamson (free agency) and Nathan Shepherd (draft). The release of Muhammad Wilkerson was a necessary evil given his lack of commitment since receiving a big paycheck.

Our Take: The Jets were surprisingly competitive in 2017 and probably improved this spring while grabbing a possible QB of the future. Not a bad offseason’s work. — B-

–Field Level Media

Cardinals’ Jones downplays big game, says he can do better

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — With his MMA-trained hands knocking would-be tacklers out of the way, Chandler Jones has quietly become one of the best defensive players in the NFL.

The league sack leader with a franchise-record 17 last season as an outside linebacker, Jones has switched to defensive end in the team's new scheme and

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — With his MMA-trained hands knocking would-be tacklers out of the way, Chandler Jones has quietly become one of the best defensive players in the NFL.

The league sack leader with a franchise-record 17 last season as an outside linebacker, Jones has switched to defensive end in the team’s new scheme and is harassing quarterbacks as well or better than he has in the past.

Take last week’s 28-18 win at San Francisco, for example. Jones had six tackles, a sack, two tackles for loss, two quarterback hits, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a pass swatted down (preventing a two-point conversion). He was named NFC defensive player of the week for his performance.

“The standard that he put on tape this past week is what the standard is,” defensive coordinator Al Holcomb said. “That’s the expectation level for him. And we talk about that each and every day, being at his best on game day, coming to play and impacting the game because he can wreck a game.”

But Jones said he was nowhere near his best against the 49ers.

“I wouldn’t say this is my best football,” Jones said. “A lot of people might say that, but there were a lot of plays on Sunday that I left out there. I wish I could get them back. But that’s the thing about football, you have the opportunity to correct those mistakes.”

Next up is a matchup with the Vikings Sunday in Minnesota, where the Cardinals will have to deal with Kirk Cousins and an array of big-play receivers.

Jones expects a lot of attention.

“You’re always getting double-teamed, being a pass rusher,” he said. “You just have to be aware.”

In the offseason, Jones trains with his brother, MMA fighter Jon “Bones” Jones. It’s helped in his endurance, Jones said, and “pretty much hand speed.”

“When you play the sport of football, whoever has the faster hands wins,” he said.

Holcomb said that when Jones plays like he did last weekend, it rubs off on everyone around him.

It “picks up the other 10 men in the huddle,” Holcomb said. “And they’re trying to match his intensity and his play and his production.”

The Cardinals sent guard Jonathan Cooper and a second-round pick to acquire Jones in 2016. A year later, Arizona signed Jones to a five-year, $83 million contract with $53 million guaranteed. He’s lived up to that kind of paycheck.

Since 2016, Jones has 32 sacks, more than anyone else in the NFL. Von Miller is second with 27 1/2. He had seven more tackles for loss last season than any other player, in addition to leading the league in sacks. But he does it without any bravado.

“He’s one of the premier defensive ends in the National Football League,” Holcomb said. “He goes about his business in a quiet-type fashion, which is fine. If he continues to play like this, which we’re counting on him doing, the recognition will come.”

Jones said the accolades don’t mean much.

“I get that question all the time about not getting national recognition,” he said. “My biggest thing each and every season, even when I was back in New England, is just earning the respect and the trust from my peers, my co-workers, this locker room, the coaches, the training staff, everyone around here. I feel if I can get trust from those guys I have those guys telling me ‘You’re doing a good job’ then I’m happy.”

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Brady, Pats await ‘future of the league’ in Chiefs’ Mahomes

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Patrick Mahomes was barely 5 years old when Tom Brady completed his first NFL pass in 2000.

Now Mahomes, whose undefeated Kansas City Chiefs play at New England on Sunday night, is the talk of the NFL in just his second season.

"That's the future of the league, so it's always

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Patrick Mahomes was barely 5 years old when Tom Brady completed his first NFL pass in 2000.

Now Mahomes, whose undefeated Kansas City Chiefs play at New England on Sunday night, is the talk of the NFL in just his second season.

“That’s the future of the league, so it’s always great to see young players come in and learn from the guys in the past,” the 41-year-old Brady said Friday. “Just like I did when I was young. I had a lot of guys that I looked up to, got to play against Brett Favre and some other really great players.”

Mahomes has thrown 14 touchdown passes and just two interceptions to go with a quarterback rating of 112.7. His team is second in the league with 35 points a game.

Speaking on a conference call this week, Mahomes said he watched Brady a lot in college at Texas Tech.

“My coach in college was Kliff Kingsbury, and he actually was a backup for Brady at one point,” he said. “And so he showed me things that he liked with Tom and his pocket movements and stuff he did within the pocket that I’ve tried to put in my game a little bit.

“He’s someone that’s had a ton of success in this league and is someone that you do take stuff from.”

Brady has seen all this before from other young quarterbacks — Mahomes being the latest after Deshaun Watson last season.

“I think quarterbacks always pay attention to other quarterbacks,” Brady said. “You’re just watching the way they’re moving the ball. There’s a lot of different ways to lead your team and move the ball down the field and score points.

“So if you can learn things from other players you’re always trying to and if your offense is hot, you’re scoring a lot of points, I think everyone is trying to learn from what they’re doing. They’re just executing really well and I think that’s what we need to take from them.”

Brady understands that his defense clearly has more reason to take greater interest in Mahomes than he does.

“I look at it as a team that’s 5-0,” he said. “They’re very talented and they’ve been playing very well all season and that’s how I see it.”

He added: “This one’s going to go down to the wire. They’re good in all three phases, they score a lot of points, they rush it well, they’ve got a lot of skill players, they’ve got a lot of playmakers on defense. So we’re going to be tested in all areas.”

Brady is hitting 69 percent of his passes with 12 touchdowns and an uncharacteristic six interceptions — the last two off the hands of his receivers — for a 96.1 rating. He said he reached out to Drew Brees after the New Orleans quarterback overtook Peyton Manning on the all-time passing yardage list.

Brady, who goes for his record 200th regular-season win Sunday night, and Brees are both chasing league passing records. Asked if he and Brees are competitive over the numbers, he said, “Not really . mildly competitive guys.

“We played against each other in college. We beat him — my senior year (Brady at Michigan, Brees at Purdue), which was good. He’s had a great career. I think so highly of him and everything he’s accomplished. He’s a great player, a great leader, played on two different teams, been so productive,” he said.

“It’s great when you see that happen. It’s a very competitive league, and to be around competing is really a privilege to still be able to do it. I feel that way myself. I’m sure he does, too.”

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Sutton’s hustle play resonates with Broncos

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — With the Denver Broncos getting steamrolled by the New York Jets last week, rookie receiver Courtland Sutton turned to teammates on the sideline and vowed to play hard until the very end.

He fulfilled that promise by running the length of the field to wrangle down safety Marcus Maye at the

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — With the Denver Broncos getting steamrolled by the New York Jets last week, rookie receiver Courtland Sutton turned to teammates on the sideline and vowed to play hard until the very end.

He fulfilled that promise by running the length of the field to wrangle down safety Marcus Maye at the 1-yard line and prevent an end-of-game pick-6.

Sutton, who caught his first touchdown pass as a pro in the first quarter of Denver’s 34-16 loss, was Case Keenum’s target in the end zone on the final play of the game.

The ball was batted around and ended up in hands of Maye, who took off down the sideline.

“I had already told everybody on the sideline there ain’t no quit offensively and defensively,” Sutton said. “There was no quit. We were going to fight to the end no matter what the score was. And I was going to give everything I had until the clock said zero-zero-zero.”

Maye chugged his way through would-be tacklers for a 104-yard interception return.

He needed 105.

“That’s a pride play,” Broncos linebacker Todd Davis said. “The last thing you ever want to do is let another team score.”

“I think everybody on the sideline knew that there was no quit in me,” said Sutton, whose stop at the 1-yard line left Maye with the longest interception return without a score in NFL history.

Maye, who was playing in just his second game since missing most of training camp and the preseason while dealing with ankle and foot injuries, buried his helmet in the turf after getting tackled just shy of the goal line while teammate Parry Nickerson patted him on the back.

Neither Maye, who ran a total of 140.7 yards on the return, according to NFL Next Gen Stats, nor Sutton said anything to each other after the play.

“Nah, I know he was tired because I was tired,” Sutton said. “So, I just kind of laid there like catch your breath a little bit.”

Sutton’s heart and hustle weren’t lost on his teammates.

“It shows a lot about who he is, and I really appreciate that,” Keenum said. “Not just what happened on the play, but just the type of guy he is. I’ll line up and go fight with those guys any day.”

The Broncos are going to need some resiliency as they try to snap their three-game skid Sunday when they host the Rams (5-0) .

“This is a game we know we can win against a team that nobody feels we can beat,” Davis said.

A forecast that calls for snow and temperatures in the lower 20s might also help slow LA’s dynamic offense featuring Jared Goff, who leads the league with 1,727 yards passing, and Todd Gurley, who tops the NFL with seven TD runs.

“That’s what we do here in Denver, man, we love the cold,” nose tackle Domata Peko said. “We practiced all week in it, so hopefully these sunny LA boys come out here and see how cold it is.”

Special teams coordinator Tom McMahon said the Broncos “got lucky on Wednesday and had the blizzard, so I think the guys are ready for that. We got the same day Wednesday that I hope we get on Sunday, and we played through it pretty well.”

That was not a blizzard.

“To me it was,” McMahon said. “The snowflakes were taller than me coming down.”

Sutton was impressed, too.

That “was the first time I’ve ever played in snow,” Sutton said. “It was a lot of fun. Everybody from up north they were laughing at me, telling me I needed to calm down. But I thought it was a lot of fun. I thought it was cool.”

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Giants’ Shurmur still believes in Eli Manning as his QB

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Despite mounting losses and a first season quickly turning into a mess, Pat Shurmur is sticking with Eli Manning as the New York Giants quarterback.

Shurmur never hesitated Friday when asked if he was considering a change in the wake of a 34-13 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles that dropped

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Despite mounting losses and a first season quickly turning into a mess, Pat Shurmur is sticking with Eli Manning as the New York Giants quarterback.

Shurmur never hesitated Friday when asked if he was considering a change in the wake of a 34-13 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles that dropped New York to 1-5.

“We believe in Eli,” Shurmur said.

It was as simple as that. There will be no change to either veteran Alex Tanney or rookie Kyle Lauletta.

Shurmur acknowledged Manning made some mistakes in the loss Thursday night at MetLife Stadium, but so did a lot of other players.

When he was pressed about whether he would give Lauletta a chance to play if the season slipped away, Shurmur stopped the question.

“Listen, we’re not talking about a quarterback change,” Shurmur said.

Statistically, Manning has played well. He has hit 158 of 230 passes for 1,662 yards, six touchdowns and four interceptions. His nearly 69 percent completion percentage would be a career best.

The problem is the 37-year-old Manning is not mobile and that is hurting the offense. He rarely turns a potential sack into a scramble that results in a first down or a big pass play. He has been sacked 20 times. The Eagles took him down four times and had 13 other hits.

“My confidence is always the same,” Manning said. “I know I can play better than last night. I have to make better decisions and get back to doing my job, not trying to do anything more, forcing things. Just find completions, move the ball and try to score points.”

Manning is surprised the Giants have the same record at this point as a year ago, when they finished 3-13.

New general manager Dave Gettleman and Shurmur turned over more than half the roster, bringing in both talented players and standup guys who put the team first.

“We expected to go win games,” Manning said. “We’re not playing as well as we need to and we will work on fixing that.”

Manning said the past two seasons have been tough, winning just four of 22 games. However, he said this year feels nothing like 2017, where it was hard to be optimistic with injuries and internal turmoil.

“This year, you see it can get better,” Manning said. “We have good players. We have good character guys. Guys are working. I think there is a great opportunity for us to improve and win a bunch of football games. That’s what we believe.”

Many football analysts and writers said over the past 24 hours that Manning’s time as the Giants’ leader is coming to an end in his 15th season. Many were calling for a quarterback change.

“It bugs me that we are 1-5,” the two-time Super Bowl MVP said. “What people say has never gotten to me, never bothered me. You work extremely hard to go have a big year and you are excited about things. To be in this situation, yeah, it bothers you, but the only thing you can do is keep working, grinding and try to bring this team together.”

Manning and Shurmur both said the Giants need to execute better.

“We are certainly not where we want to be record-wise,” Shurmur said. “We will acknowledge that. But I do know this: This group of players will stay in there and keep working and fighting to win a game.”

The Giants don’t play again until traveling to Atlanta to face the Falcons on Oct 22. The players will be off the weekend and won’t practice until Tuesday.

“What is important is you try to reflect where you are at and where you want to go,” Shurmur said. “Right now, we’re not where we want to be record-wise, so I encouraged them to reflect on that and then try to think of ways they can get individually better.”

NOTES: WR Cody Latimer (hamstring) was the only injury of note Thursday night, Shurmur said. … Shurmur seemed to accept Odell Beckham Jr.’s explanation that he head-butted a cooling fan to psych himself up during the game. Still, he wants his players to be more composed. “Is that what I would have done? Absolutely not,” Shurmur said. “Is that what I want my players doing? No. That’s it.”

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Dolphins’ Tannehill questionable (shoulder) vs. Bears

DAVIE, Fla. (AP) — Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill is questionable for Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears with a throwing shoulder injury that first bothered him last month.

Tannehill was limited in Friday's workout — the first time he has missed practice time because of the injury. He wasn't on the injury report last

DAVIE, Fla. (AP) — Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill is questionable for Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears with a throwing shoulder injury that first bothered him last month.

Tannehill was limited in Friday’s workout — the first time he has missed practice time because of the injury. He wasn’t on the injury report last week, but was during the week of Sept. 24.

Brock Osweiler or David Fales would start if Tannehill can’t play.

Left tackle Laremy Tunsil has been released from the concussion protocol and is listed as questionable. Tunsil was not limited in practice Friday, and coach Adam Gase said it looks “promising” that he’ll be able to play.

Defensive end Cameron Wake is listed as doubtful with a knee injury.

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Chiefs lose wide receiver Thomas to broken leg in practice

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Chiefs wide receiver DeAnthony Thomas fractured his leg during practice and could miss the rest of the season, the latest in a string of injuries to befall the unbeaten team.

The Chiefs also listed Justin Houston as doubtful for Sunday's game in New England with a hamstring injury.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Chiefs wide receiver DeAnthony Thomas fractured his leg during practice and could miss the rest of the season, the latest in a string of injuries to befall the unbeaten team.

The Chiefs also listed Justin Houston as doubtful for Sunday’s game in New England with a hamstring injury. Safety Eric Murray is out with an ankle injury and Jordan Lucas will start in his place.

Thomas was taking part in Thursday’s practice when he got stepped on from behind, fracturing the same leg that he broke in a game last December. Thomas had surgery to repair the break and had a metal rod inserted, though the latest break didn’t damage that repair.

Chiefs trainer Rick Burkholder said Thomas won’t need surgery, though he will be out for a lengthy period of time. The Chiefs had not yet placed him on injured reserve Friday.

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In London: Gruden wants more carries for Lynch vs Seahawks

LONDON (AP) — Oakland Raiders coach Jon Gruden wants Marshawn Lynch to see more of the ball when the running back goes up against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.

Lynch only had 31 yards rushing on nine carries in last Sunday's 26-10 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers and Gruden is looking for bigger numbers

LONDON (AP) — Oakland Raiders coach Jon Gruden wants Marshawn Lynch to see more of the ball when the running back goes up against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.

Lynch only had 31 yards rushing on nine carries in last Sunday’s 26-10 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers and Gruden is looking for bigger numbers at Wembley Stadium in London when the former Seahawk gets his first chance to play his old team.

Problem is, Lynch isn’t the only offensive threat on the 1-4 Raiders who is looking for more touches.

“We’ve got a lot of guys who need to see the ball more,” Gruden said after arriving in the British capital following a nearly 11-hour flight. “We’ve done some good things offensively. But good is not good enough. We need to start playing great offensively. To do that we need to see more of Lynch. And we need to see a bit more of the ball going across the goal line, that’s the big thing.”

Quarterback Derek Carr also said he “definitely” wants to hand off more often to Lynch. He had 20 carries for 130 yards the previous week in the Raiders’ only win against the Cleveland Browns.

“We want to be 100 percent balanced every time,” Carr said. “That kind of balance is good for our football team. It’s good me, it’s good for him (Lynch), it’s good for our offensive line.”

That balance also includes figuring out how to spread the ball around more evenly between Carr’s top receivers, who have taken turns putting up big numbers in different games.

Wide receiver Amari Cooper has been the most inconsistent, with two 100-yard outings mixed with a total of four catches for 36 yards in the other three games combined. Against the Chargers, he finished with one catch for 10 yards and was only targeted once.

However, quarterback Derek Carr insisted that stat was a bit misleading.

“When I look at targets, I don’t look at it as I only looked his way one time,” Carr said. “There was definitely multiple times I was looking his way. But they just didn’t end up working out.”

Cooper is only the team’s third leading receiver this season, behind tight end Jared Cook and former Green Bay Packer Jordy Nelson.

The two-time Pro Bowler said he’s happy sharing the load, but also wants to see all of the team’s top threats putting it together at the same time.

“We have a lot of guys with ability. A lot of guys who can go off and kind of take over a game, and that’s a good thing,” Cooper said. “We’d like to do it a bit more collectively, as a group. That would be better, and give us our best shot of winning.”

Lynch, who spent six seasons with Seattle (2-3) and helped the team win the Super Bowl in the 2013 season, was not among the five players who spoke to media at their hotel next to Wembley on Friday. But there’s no doubt he’ll be the main focus when the game kicks off on Sunday.

“He’s had a lot to do with the Super Bowl ring that the Seahawks wear,” Gruden said. “He was the heart and soul of that team. In a lot of ways he’s the heart and soul of the Raiders right now. He’s still running with that incredible physicality. He’s been durable, he’s practiced every day.

“Behind the scenes, he’s one of our leaders. He’s a bit misunderstood by a lot of people. But believe me, if you were coaching a football team, I think he’d be one of the first guys you’d want on your team.”

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RB Freeman, DT Jarrett out with injuries for Falcons-Bucs

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — The injury plagued Atlanta Falcons will be without defensive tackle Grady Jarrett and running back Devonta Freeman for Sunday's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Jarrett is sitting out his second straight game with a sprained ankle, while Freeman is sidelined yet again with a foot injury. The

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — The injury plagued Atlanta Falcons will be without defensive tackle Grady Jarrett and running back Devonta Freeman for Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Jarrett is sitting out his second straight game with a sprained ankle, while Freeman is sidelined yet again with a foot injury. The Falcons (1-4) have lost three in a row.

Freeman has played only two games this season, gaining 68 yards on 14 carries. He sat out three weeks with a bruised knee sustained in the opener at Philadelphia.

This is the second straight season that Freeman has been slowed by injuries. A year ago, he sustained two concussions, missed a pair of games and also dealt a knee issue.

Jarrett is one of four starters missing on defense. Safeties Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen are out for the year. Linebacker Deion Jones will have to miss at least eight games while on injured reserve.

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Jets’ Buster Skrine out, Trumaine Johnson doubtful vs. Colts

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — The New York Jets' secondary will be without a few key members against the Indianapolis Colts.

Cornerback Buster Skrine has been ruled out for Sunday with a concussion. Fellow cornerback Trumaine Johnson is listed Friday as doubtful with a quadriceps injury that sidelined him last Sunday against Denver.

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — The New York Jets’ secondary will be without a few key members against the Indianapolis Colts.

Cornerback Buster Skrine has been ruled out for Sunday with a concussion. Fellow cornerback Trumaine Johnson is listed Friday as doubtful with a quadriceps injury that sidelined him last Sunday against Denver.

Rookie Parry Nickerson could fill Skrine’s nickel spot, while Darryl Roberts and Rashard Robinson could see time in the base defense in Johnson’s place.

Safeties Marcus Maye (ankle/foot) and Doug Middleton (hamstring) are questionable.

Running back Isaiah Crowell, coming off rushing for a franchise-record 219 yards, is questionable with an ankle ailment. He was limited Friday after not practicing the previous two days.

Wide receiver Charone Peake (hamstring) is out, while linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis (foot) is doubtful.

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Jaguars sign former Giants 1st-rounder OT Ereck Flowers

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Jaguars have signed former New York Giants offensive tackle Ereck Flowers and placed left tackle Josh Wells on injured reserve with a groin injury.

Flowers was waived by the Giants on Tuesday after he failed to live up to lofty expectations. He was the ninth overall pick in the 2015

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Jaguars have signed former New York Giants offensive tackle Ereck Flowers and placed left tackle Josh Wells on injured reserve with a groin injury.

Flowers was waived by the Giants on Tuesday after he failed to live up to lofty expectations. He was the ninth overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft. Flowers was moved from left to right tackle this season after the Giants signed Nate Solder, but lost that job to Chad Wheeler after just two games.

The move Friday reunites Flowers with Tom Coughlin, the Jaguars’ executive vice president of football operations who was the Giants’ coach when he was drafted. Jacksonville offensive line coach Pat Flaherty served in the same role in New York during Flowers’ rookie season.

The Jaguars are down both Wells and Cam Robinson at left tackle, and will start Josh Walker at Dallas. Flowers could take over as early as next week against Houston.

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Report: Eagles’ Peters tore biceps, could keep playing

Report: Eagles' Peters tore biceps, could keep playing

Philadelphia Eagles left tackle Jason Peters is believed to have torn a biceps muscle after leaving Thursday night's game and not returning, according to an NFL Network report Friday.

The report adds that an MRI is pending, but doctors are "optimistic" Peters

Report: Eagles’ Peters tore biceps, could keep playing

Philadelphia Eagles left tackle Jason Peters is believed to have torn a biceps muscle after leaving Thursday night’s game and not returning, according to an NFL Network report Friday.

The report adds that an MRI is pending, but doctors are “optimistic” Peters will be able to continue playing this year. The 36-year-old told reporters after the game that he was “OK,” and head coach Doug Pederson said Friday morning that he had received “positive” news from the medical staff, calling Peters “day-to-day.”

Peters was replaced by Halapoulivaati Vaitai, who filled in at left tackle last year after the nine-time Pro Bowler went down with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in Week 7. Vaitai was whistled for six penalties (two false starts, four holding) and allowed seven sacks in 10 starts in 2017, according to STATS, Inc.

Now in his 15th season, Peters has battled nagging injuries throughout his career, but he hadn’t missed more than three games in a season since 2004 until last year’s torn ACL. He sat out most of the Eagles’ Week 2 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with a quad injury and missed a few snaps in Weeks 1 and 5 before getting hurt Thursday.

Right tackle Lane Johnson is also injured, as he hurt his ankle in Week 5 and was in and out of the game against the Giants.

“Tough kid battled through it,” Pederson said of Johnson’s performance.

Pederson also said cornerback Sidney Jones, who left Thursday’s game with a hamstring injury and did not return, is “week-to-week.”

After playing on a short week, the Eagles have until Oct. 21 before hosting the Panthers. A week later, they’ll battle the Jaguars in London before hitting their Week 9 bye.

–Field Level Media

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Jags’ Ramsey questionable Sunday; Fournette could play next week

 

 

Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey is officially listed as questionable for Sunday's game against the Dallas Cowboys, and head coach Doug Marrone said he is legitimately "50-50" to play.

 

Ramsey was added to the injury report on Thursday and was limited Thursday and Friday due to knee soreness. He played in Week

 

 

Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey is officially listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys, and head coach Doug Marrone said he is legitimately “50-50” to play.

 

Ramsey was added to the injury report on Thursday and was limited Thursday and Friday due to knee soreness. He played in Week 3 after being listed as questionable, but that was due to an ankle injury.

 

The Jaguars will be without cornerbacks D.J. Hayden (toe) and Tre Herndon (hamstring) against Dallas after both sat out practice all week.

 

Marrone told reporters that Hayden and running back Leonard Fournette — who was ruled out for Sunday earlier this week with a hamstring injury — both have a chance to play in Week 7 after running on a side field Friday.

 

Fournette has yet to finish a game this season, tweaking his hamstring in Week 1 and aggravating it during his return in Week 4. A Florida Football Insiders report earlier this week suggested the Jaguars could hold Fournette out through their Week 9 bye to make sure he avoids re-injury.

 

The Jaguars will also be without left tackle Josh Wells (groin), who has been filling in for Cam Robinson since the starter tore his anterior cruciate ligament in Week 2. They reportedly brought in former New York Giants first-round pick Ereck Flowers for a visit this week, but no signing has been reported or announced.

 

The team also placed longsnapper Carson Tinker on injured reserve with a knee injury and signed Matt Overton to the roster to take his place. Overton replaced Tinker for nine games last season after Tinker tore his ACL. Overton spent his first five seasons with the Indianapolis Colts.

 

–Field Level Media

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Panthers coach Rivera optimistic Olsen will play vs Redskins

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Panthers coach Ron Rivera is optimistic that three-time Pro Bowl tight end Greg Olsen will play Sunday against the Redskins after participating in his third straight day of practice.

Olsen is listed as questionable on the injury report, but Rivera says he's looking ready after missing three games with a broken

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Panthers coach Ron Rivera is optimistic that three-time Pro Bowl tight end Greg Olsen will play Sunday against the Redskins after participating in his third straight day of practice.

Olsen is listed as questionable on the injury report, but Rivera says he’s looking ready after missing three games with a broken foot. Rivera says Olsen took more reps than normal Friday and “he ran around really well, so we’re pretty excited about it.”

Barring any setbacks, Olsen will start Sunday.

Rivera also says the Panthers plan to place linebacker Jared Norris on injured reserve Saturday with a toe injury which will create a roster spot for linebacker Thomas Davis, who is returning from a four-game suspension.

Wide receiver Damiere Byrd (ankle) and linebacker Andre Smith (hamstring) have been ruled out for Sunday.

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RotoRadar Podcast Episode 6

NFP is pleased to present On the RotoRadar. In partnership with RotoRadar, the podcast will dig deep into DFS advice with their experts as well as NFL best bets from professional sports bettor, Christian Pina. Pina will analyze which games are getting action and why, and provide opportunistic spots and angles including prop bets.

NFP is pleased to present On the RotoRadar. In partnership with RotoRadar, the podcast will dig deep into DFS advice with their experts as well as NFL best bets from professional sports bettor, Christian Pina. Pina will analyze which games are getting action and why, and provide opportunistic spots and angles including prop bets.

DFS analysts and experts include Cash Game Pro Analyst, OnceHarby went an amazing 18-3 last Season. GPP Pro Analyst, FadeToBlack has qualified for three FanDuel Live Finals. Handicapping Pro Analyst and @Ericsports

 

TIME STAMPS

3:38 Seattle Seahawks vs Oakland Raiders

9:10 Chicago Bears vs. Miami Dolphins

13:45 Indianapolis Colts vs. New York Jets

18:25 Buffalo Bills vs. Houston Texans

27:00 Tampa Bay Bucaneers vs. Atlanta Falcons

33:45 Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cincinnatti Bengals

41:10 Arizona Cardinals vs. Minnesota Vikings

44:30 San Diego Chargers vs. Cleveland Browns

47:05 Carolina Panthers vs. Washington Redskins

49:30 Kansas City Chiefs vs. New England Patriots

54:15 Philadelphia Eagles vs. New York Giants

1:00:30 Twitter Qs

1:07:30 Closing Remarks

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They are called Diva Receivers for a reason

They are called Diva Receivers for a reason. We tend to find out why when NFL pass catchers open their mouths.

Cases in point most recently would be two of football's biggest stars, Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham Jr. What they've spouted, no matter how it gets spun and by whom, can't be anything but

They are called Diva Receivers for a reason. We tend to find out why when NFL pass catchers open their mouths.

Cases in point most recently would be two of football’s biggest stars, Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham Jr. What they’ve spouted, no matter how it gets spun and by whom, can’t be anything but detrimental to the team.

The history of wideouts with wide mouths — or free rein on social media nowadays — includes, naturally, the likes of Terrell Owens, Plaxico Burress, Keyshawn Johnson and Chad Johnson/Ochocinco. To call their utterings constructive criticism would be like calling Lambeau Field balmy in December.

And they hardly are the only guys who have damaged the locker room vibes with their, well, bad vibes. Do you think cornerback Jalen Ramsey deriding opposing players made for comfortable feelings in Jacksonville? Guard Richie Incognito bullying a teammate in Miami? Jay Cutler calling out his own guys just about everywhere, including on the sideline?

Hey, cornerback Josh Norman and Beckham pretty much came to blows in a 2015 game after their trash-talking shenanigans.

Sure, lots if not most NFL players like to run their tongues during games. Philip Rivers might not be the greatest Chargers quarterback ever — remember Hall of Famer Dan Fouts? — but he’s unquestionably the franchise’s great trash-spewing QB. Steve Smith, one of the most combative receivers the NFL has seen, definitely didn’t believe in the bromide “if you have nothing good to say, say nothing.”

And Ray Lewis not only was an all-world tackler and leader for the Ravens, his stream of words directed at opponents was steady — and often comical, if unprintable.

But in the particular cases of Brown and Beckham, there can be considerable negative fallout for their clubs. So much so that the tension and mistrust they create can be as damaging as a fourth-quarter pick-6 by an opponent.

Brown might be the NFL’s most talented offensive player. He might also be the most thin-skinned.

Among other items this year, he tweeted that Pittsburgh should “trade me let’s find out” when it was suggested his success is due more to Ben Roethlisberger than to Brown’s skills. Brown also didn’t show up at team headquarters for a day last month, and famously once livestreamed a locker room celebration following a playoff victory over Kansas City.

He also used Twitter in September to threaten a reporter who covers the team, forcing the Steelers to issue an apology. Explaining away Brown’s behavior, words and social media posts has become nearly a regular chore in Pittsburgh.

All of this doesn’t mean Brown needs to be sat down by the Steelers, which isn’t likely to happen considering they are in the business of winning games and he is their best player. It does mean he should be sat down and told that his proclamations and actions are a distraction for a team that isn’t exactly tearing up the NFL, sitting tied with Cleveland and behind Cincinnati and Baltimore in the AFC North.

The Beckham blowups have been more inflammatory and, without question, potentially more harmful. When you question your teammates’ heart while carefully removing yourself from such a claim, irreparable damage often results.

“A lot of it has to do with the energy we have that we don’t bring every single day,” he said last week. “You know me, I’m a passionate, energetic person. I always have to have that. If I don’t, it’s going to be a problem for me. Playing with some heart, we need to play with some heart.”

Beckham also blasted the play-calling of first-year coach Pat Shurmur, mainly because, in Beckham’s view, he wasn’t getting the ball enough, particularly deep. Never mind that the offensive line has been such a sieve that asking Eli Manning to throw balls anywhere downfield has often been problematic.

Recognizing how counter-productive his comments were — or being instructed by a livid coach or, perhaps, someone higher up in the Giants’ command chain — Beckham went into crisis control last Sunday. He asked to speak to the team in the locker room, and then he ran something of a fly pattern away from his earlier statements.

This season is hardly the first time Brown or Beckham have acted up or acted out. It probably won’t be the last. But maybe the concept of “team first” will sink in before what they do or say sinks their teams.

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Rams’ Aaron Donald tops AP defensive tackle rankings again

Many an NFL opponent has had a game plan waylaid by the speed, strength and instinct of Aaron Donald over his not-yet-five-full seasons in the league.

The 6-foot-1, 280-pound kingpin of the Los Angeles Rams' defense was a unanimous pick for the best defensive tackle in the NFL by a panel of 10 football writers

Many an NFL opponent has had a game plan waylaid by the speed, strength and instinct of Aaron Donald over his not-yet-five-full seasons in the league.

The 6-foot-1, 280-pound kingpin of the Los Angeles Rams’ defense was a unanimous pick for the best defensive tackle in the NFL by a panel of 10 football writers for The Associated Press in this week’s edition of the position rankings.

“He’s been as disruptive as anyone on the interior, ever,” said the AP’s Josh Dubow, who is based in the Bay Area.

Just ask the Minnesota Vikings.

The Rams had a 10-point lead on Minnesota last month, but the Vikings were on the move as the fourth quarter began and Kirk Cousins dropped back.

Donald leaped off the line to engage with his blocker, before breaking free to the inside of the guard with a textbook swim move. After shoving the center aside, Donald darted forward and swallowed up the quarterback with a bear hug for a 10-yard loss and a harbinger for a punt.

The Vikings still had a chance later in the game, trailing by just a touchdown, when Cousins settled in the pocket looking to pass. Donald veered right this time to squeeze between the guard and the tackle, foiling a desperate attempt by the center to slow him down as he closed in on another sack. After tossing Cousins to the turf , Donald simply pointed to his right biceps for his latest celebration.

“Early in the game I thought the protection was good,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said after the 38-31 loss to the Rams last month, “and then Donald took it over a little bit at the end.”

Donald also topped the AP rankings for defensive tackles last year.

After staying away from offseason workouts for a second straight year to protest his lack of a new contract, the Rams finally relented at the end of the preseason with a six-year extension for Donald worth $135 million.

For the Rams (5-0), one of the NFL’s two remaining unbeaten teams, the defensive tackle tandem of Donald and newcomer Ndamukong Suh has the potential to change a game as much as their high-octane offense.

“It’s almost unfair the way the Rams have stocked up on their defensive line,” said the AP’s Teresa Walker, who’s based in Nashville.

Suh finished fifth in the voting released Friday, following Geno Atkins of the Cincinnati Bengals, Fletcher Cox of the Philadelphia Eagles and Gerald McCoy of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. That’s quite the quintet of experience, power and quickness at a position that’s as stacked with elite players as any around the league these days. Donald, Atkins, Cox, McCoy and Suh have played a combined 39 seasons and been picked for the Pro Bowl 24 times, with a cumulative total of 250½ career sacks playing a role that’s predicated on stopping the run first.

Suh and McCoy were the second and third overall picks in the 2010 draft. Atkins, who went in the fourth round that year, is in the top two with Donald in sacks, quarterback pressures and quarterback hits over the last five seasons. This year, Atkins is tied for the league lead with six sacks.

“Doesn’t seek attention, but his consistent excellence demands it,” said the AP’s Simmi Buttar, who’s based in New York.

The only new addition to the top 10 from last year’s rankings was Jurrell Casey of the Tennessee Titans, who finished sixth.

Kawann Short of the Carolina Panthers was seventh, DeForest Buckner of the San Francisco 49ers was eighth, Linval Joseph of the Minnesota Vikings was ninth and Damon Harrison of the New York Giants was 10th. Yes, that was Joseph rumbling down the field last week with a fumble he caught midair and returned 64 yards for a touchdown .

“Might be the fastest 330-pound guy in sports,” said the AP’s Rob Maaddi, who’s based in Philadelphia.

Now that’s a true defensive tackle.

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Hopkins wows with nifty catch, leads NFL in yards receiving

HOUSTON (AP) — DeAndre Hopkins has made a lot of great catches in his time with the Houston Texans, but his latest one might be his best.

The 49-yard catch and run that included two nifty spin moves and set up the winning field goal in overtime against Dallas has inspired memes and internet tributes.

HOUSTON (AP) — DeAndre Hopkins has made a lot of great catches in his time with the Houston Texans, but his latest one might be his best.

The 49-yard catch and run that included two nifty spin moves and set up the winning field goal in overtime against Dallas has inspired memes and internet tributes.

It also caused a tough night for Buffalo coach Sean McDermott, whose team visits Houston on Sunday.

“I didn’t sleep much (Sunday) night because of watching that,” he said.

It was the talk of Houston’s locker room this week with everyone from players to coaching raving about the play where he evaded several would-be tacklers to help the Texans to their first win over the Cowboys since 2002.

“It was crazy,” receiver Will Fuller said. “I was right in front of him. I saw the whole thing. I think Hop is the best there is, so just to see that live is just great.”

Hopkins, who was drafted by the Texans in the first round in 2013, said it was probably the best catch of his career.

“I think so because I set my team up for the win,” he said.

Houston’s defenders, especially the team’s defensive backs, watched the play with amazement, thankful that they aren’t tasked with covering the two-time Pro Bowler.

Texans safety Tyrann Mathieu said when a receiver makes moves such as Hopkins did on that play there’s really no way to defend him.

“I don’t think you can stop it,” he said. “At that point it’s just him doing him. He’s going in slow motion, everything is just moving slow for him and it’s tough.”

Hopkins, who signed a five-year, $81 million extension before last season, loved the videos made about his catch and was particularly amused with one that showed him spinning past a ballerina. He said he doesn’t really think about or practice the spin moves, they’re just something that comes naturally in certain situations.

“Just instinctively,” he said. “All it takes is a glance sometimes for you to know where someone is. Playing football for so long, you kind of anticipate the hit like that.”

Coach Bill O’Brien wasn’t as concerned about the flashy aspect of the play as everyone else, but he was pleased to see him add yards to the catch with such a nice run.

“He’s really worked hard over the last five years … (on) running after the catch, and he’s really done a good job of that,” O’Brien said. “I think in the past couple games we’ve had close to 300 yards of yards after catch, and he has a lot of those.”

The only criticism some people had about the play was the security of the ball as Hopkins held onto it with just one hand through part of the run. But Hopkins has such large hands that he insisted that the ball was perfectly secure even when he wasn’t holding onto it with both hands.

“Sometimes me holding it in one hand is stronger than some people holding it with two,” he said.

The play is the highlight of a strong season for Hopkins, who leads the NFL with 594 yards receiving. He’s had three 100-yard games this year and has surpassed the 150-yard mark in each of Houston’s past two games.

Second-year quarterback Deshaun Watson loves playing with Hopkins and enjoyed watching him make that play on Sunday.

“I’m always impressed with the things he does,” Watson said. “He’s a talented guy … he just continues to get better each and every year, but that’s something that he really expects of himself and I expect him to do the same thing.”

And Watson knows that he can always count on Hopkins when the team needs a big play.

“Just give him the opportunity to make a play and he’s going to make that play, and that’s what he did Sunday night,” Watson said.

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Von Miller shoulders blame for Broncos’ skid

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Von Miller has done the math and believes he has the solution.

He's gone three weeks without a sack and the Denver Broncos have gone three games without a win.

"To win," Miller said Thursday, "I've got to get sacks."

Although he's being chipped or double-teamed on most plays and quarterbacks

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Von Miller has done the math and believes he has the solution.

He’s gone three weeks without a sack and the Denver Broncos have gone three games without a win.

“To win,” Miller said Thursday, “I’ve got to get sacks.”

Although he’s being chipped or double-teamed on most plays and quarterbacks are getting their passes off lickety-split, Miller acknowledged he hasn’t beaten tackles 1-on-1 much, either.

“I’ve had opportunities to rush the passer, I just haven’t been able to get home,” Miller said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s one rep to get there or two reps. That could be two sacks or forced fumbles that I’m not taking advantage of.”

So, Miller said, beginning Sunday when the Broncos (2-3) host the Los Angeles Rams (5-0), he’s taking it upon himself to stop both quarterback Jared Goff and Denver’s skid.

“I’ve just got to run over my guy, run straight through him, put him on his back and just get a sack,” Miller said.

And Miller offered that he hasn’t been playing the run all that great, either, accepting the blame for Denver’s myriad woes, including allowing an eye-popping 323 yards rushing to the Jets last week.

“I can fix that,” Miller said. “I like living in a world where it’s me and the problem is me and the quickest way to fix it is me.”

Miller insisted he’s not shouldering too much of the blame or burden, either, for the Broncos, who have slipped to 7-14 under head coach Vance Joseph .

“Too much what? I’ve got to get sacks. That’s what I do. I’ve got to get sacks,” Miller said. “I’ve gotten 87½ of them. I’ve played games where I got a lot of sacks and I’ve played games where I didn’t get any sacks. I’m going to have a little bit of both going forward.

“It’s just the phase that I’m in right now, and I’ve been here before. I’ve gotten out of it before.”

Miller was held without a sack for the final month of the 2016 season, which cost him in a one-vote loss to Khalil Mack for NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors a year after he was the MVP of Super Bowl 50.

Miller also went without a sack in the opener last season, extending his sackless streak to a career-long five games before he corralled Dallas’ Dak Prescott twice in Week 2.

Getting back on the sack track is “No. 1 on my list,” Miller insisted. “It’s the only thing I have to do on the football field. It’s something that I’m pointing the finger at myself and I’ll be able to get it fixed. I’ve just got to get it turned around quick.”

Miller isn’t alone in his misery.

The Broncos have managed just five sacks since dumping Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson a half dozen times in the opener last month, three of them by Miller.

Denver boasts an abundance of edge rushers featuring three first-round draft picks in Miller, Shane Ray and rookie Bradley Chubb.

It’s a defense that’s set up for “getting sacks and getting pressures,” Miller said.

“That’s how I want it to be. I don’t want to be in a defense where we’re playing zone all day and it’s about the corners. I want the defense to be about us, and it is,” Miller said. “I just haven’t been doing my job how I’m supposed to do it. And I’m on it. I’m going to get it fixed.”

At age 29 and in his eighth NFL season, “I’m in my prime,” Miller noted. “I want to take advantage of all the games and all of the opportunities that are out there for me.”

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Giants’ Olivier Vernon active for 1st time this season

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — New York Giants linebacker and top pass rusher Olivier Vernon is active for the first time this season.

Vernon missed the first five games with a high ankle sprain, but he is expected to see action Thursday night against the Philadelphia Eagles.

New York will be without its top two

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — New York Giants linebacker and top pass rusher Olivier Vernon is active for the first time this season.

Vernon missed the first five games with a high ankle sprain, but he is expected to see action Thursday night against the Philadelphia Eagles.

New York will be without its top two tight ends. Evan Engram is going to miss his third straight game with a sprained knee. Rhett Ellison is out with a foot injury.

Placekicker Aldrick Rosas is active despite quad problem.

Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson will start despite an ankle injury.

Eagles: LB D.J. Alexander, LB Nathan Gerry, S Corey Graham, T Jordan Mailata, DT Haloti Ngata, G Matt Pryor, RB Darren Sproles.

Giants: Besides Engram and Ellison, WR Russell Shepard, QB Kyle Lauletta, S Kamrin Moore, C Evan Brown and DT John Jenkins.

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Winston’s focus on helping Buccaneers improve on 2-2 start

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — While most of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers used their bye week to get away from work and relax, Jameis Winston stayed closer to home and continued to prepare for his first start in nearly 10 months.

The No. 1 overall pick from the 2015 draft missed the first three games of

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — While most of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers used their bye week to get away from work and relax, Jameis Winston stayed closer to home and continued to prepare for his first start in nearly 10 months.

The No. 1 overall pick from the 2015 draft missed the first three games of the season while serving a suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy.

Winston came off the bench for the second half of a 48-10 loss to the Chicago Bears two weeks ago. On Sunday, he resumes his role as Tampa Bay’s starting quarterback against struggling NFC South rival Atlanta.

The fourth-year pro said Thursday he’s both grateful to be back and eager to help the Bucs improve on a 2-2 start.

“I’m thankful I had the support of my teammates and the (organization) throughout the suspension,” said Winston, who was disciplined by the league following an investigation of an accusation that he groped a female Uber driver in Arizona in 2016.

“I worked so hard for this opportunity,” to have a NFL career, the quarterback said. “To have it taken away briefly, it can make you reflect on things. Every day is a blessing to be a Tampa Bay Buccaneer and play this great game. I’ve got to do my best to take advantage of it.”

Winston is taking the reins of the NFL’s top passing attack and No. 2-ranked offense overall, thanks to a record-breaking performance by veteran backup Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Fitzpatrick, who’s played for seven teams during a 14-year career, became the first player in league history to top 400 yards passing in three consecutive games.

The Bucs opened with upsets of New Orleans and Super Bowl champion Philadelphia, then were outscored 68-13 in the first half of losses to the Pittsburgh Steelers and Bears, who led 38-3 when Fitzpatrick was benched.

Winston was 16 of 20 for 145 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in the second half at Chicago. Sunday’s start will be his first since Dec. 31, when his 39-yard TD pass to Chris Godwin on Tampa Bay’s final offensive play of last season gave the Bucs a 31-24 upset of the Saints.

The Bucs were encouraged by the way Winston played after sitting out three games with a shoulder injury last fall.

One of the knocks on the 24-year-old has been his lack of accuracy on deep throws. However, coach Dirk Koetter and offensive coordinator Todd Monken said Winston has made strides since returning from the injury that hindered him most of 2017.

“The thing on that is Jameis’ shoulder was worse than we thought it was for a longer period than we thought,” Koetter said.

“Jameis is a competitor and wants to play. We finally rested his shoulder, he threw the ball better, period, after that,” the coach added. “He definitely had to alter some things mechanically in order to play when his shoulder was hurt. He’s not the only quarterback in the league who does that.”

While teammates scattered for the bye week, Winston chose to spend the six-day break doing individual work and getting acclimated to his normal routine.

“I basically did similar things I did the three weeks I was away,” Winston said. “It was kind of an odd place for me to be because I hadn’t played three games. I did get the little experience against Chicago, so I had to stay on it.”

Now that he’s back, Winston and the Bucs don’t see any reason the team shouldn’t continue to be explosive offensively with Winston throwing to a talented group of receivers that includes Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, Adam Humphries and Godwin, as well as tight ends O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate.

“I’m very confident about that. We have some great (playmakers),” Winston said.

“You started to see more confidence throwing the ball down the field, making those types of throws (late last season),” Monken said Thursday. “That’s carried over from what I’ve seen in the preseason and the last couple of days.”

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