Posts by National Football Post

Giants rookie QB Lauletta apologizes after traffic arrest

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Giants rookie quarterback Kyle Lauletta apologized Tuesday morning, a week after he was arrested for motor vehicle violations near his home in Weehawken, N.J.

"First things first, I want to apologize to the New York Giants organization, my teammates, the fans and my family," Lauletta said. "The incident

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Giants rookie quarterback Kyle Lauletta apologized Tuesday morning, a week after he was arrested for motor vehicle violations near his home in Weehawken, N.J.

“First things first, I want to apologize to the New York Giants organization, my teammates, the fans and my family,” Lauletta said. “The incident that happened last week is a terrible representation of who I am and what I stand for. Right is right and wrong is wrong. My parents raised me better than that.”

According to Weehawken police accounts, Lauletta, the Giants’ fourth-round pick from Richmond, was driving his 2017 Jaguar on Tuesday morning, Oct. 30, when he was stopped for failing to obey a police officer’s order to continue driving straight.

The report says Lauletta almost hit a police officer while making an illegal turn. He was stopped by a second police officer and refused to produce a driver’s license or exit the car.

The incident happened close to renovations near the Lincoln Tunnel, which connects New Jersey with midtown Manhattan.

Police say he was arrested and charged with eluding police, obstructing administration of law and resisting arrest. He was also charged with reckless driving, disregarding an officer’s directions, improper turn and failure to remain in a marked lane.

Police said Lauletta’s car was involved in a similar incident Monday, but summons were mailed because the vehicle did not stay at the scene.

The Giants were on their bye week, so he did not have to report to any organized practices until Tuesday.

After practice, Lauletta said he was apologetic about the incident.

“I understand the cops have a very tough job and it was very chaotic at that location,” Lauletta said. “I respect these officers and I can’t say that I’m sorry enough. I have to prove myself worthy through my work ethic and put it all behind me. That’s all I can control and I hope to move forward from this.”

Giants coach Pat Shurmur said that Lauletta will not face any suspension for his actions.

“It’s being handled internally,” Shurmur said. “I’m very disappointed with the way it went down. I spoke to Kyle and this is not the way we want our players to act. The whole incident is disappointing. He’s back to work today and we’ll deal with it.”

Shurmur said that Lauletta’s problems with the police stemmed from him being late for meetings prior to practices both Monday and Tuesday.

“The way I look at it, quarterbacks should be early,” Shurmur said. “He’s working to be in a position to play. There is a lot to learn in order to prepare to play in the NFL.”

Lauletta said that he immediately spoke with Shurmur after his arrest.

“I know he was disappointed and I know I can’t put myself in that situation again,” Lauletta said. “I have to deal with the consequences.”

In other quarterback news, Shurmur also said that Eli Manning will remain the starter for Monday night’s game against the San Francisco 49ers.

“He’s starting Monday with the idea that he is going to get us on a run here and win some games,” said Shurmur, whose team is 1-7.

Veteran Alex Tanney has been listed as the No. 2 quarterback on the Giants’ depth chart all season. There was a possibility Lauletta would be given the opportunity to start a few games once the Giants were out of playoff contention. Now, Lauletta’s chances to start have greatly diminished with this arrest.

“The first thing I thought of was that I was leaving (home) later that I should have,” Lauletta said. “It’s my fault. I will take this as a lesson. I can’t put myself in these situations moving forward. I don’t know if I’m worried about (not getting the chance to play). I can’t afford to worry about it. I just have to do everything I can to prove that I can play. I’m going to give it everything I have, keep my head down and keep moving forward.”

Lauletta said that he did not want to “talk about the details of the incident,” especially after he was asked about going through the same traffic pattern illegally two days in a row.

“I was wrong,” Lauletta said. “I know that. It’s a horrible feeling. I stand with what happened. I made a decision I’ll regret for the rest of my life. I have to show up early every day from now on. Hopefully, this all will be part of my past and I’ll never allow what happened to happen ever again. I woke up late and put myself in that situation.”

Lauletta said that he has spoken with Manning about the incident.

“Eli has always been supportive of me,” Lauletta said. “He’s there for me. Right now, my goal, my main focus is to help Eli.”

NOTES: The Giants announced that rookie defensive tackle R.J. McIntosh, the team’s fifth-round draft pick out of Miami, has been cleared to play and will be activated in time to play Monday night. A roster spot will have to be created for McIntosh, who has been on the team’s non-football illness list. McIntosh’s illness has yet to be addressed. … Shurmur also said that offensive guard Jamon Brown, acquired via waivers from the Los Angeles Rams last week, will more than likely be activated and see action. Brown could actually be a starter at guard if he can learn quickly in practice this week.

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Lions sign WR Ellington, waive RB Abdullah

Lions sign WR Ellington, waive RB Abdullah

Wide receiver Bruce Ellington on Tuesday signed with the Detroit Lions, who also waived running back Ameer Abdullah.

Fullback Zach Zenner re-signed with the Lions after 28 career games with Detroit. He was with the team throughout the offseason and training camp until

Lions sign WR Ellington, waive RB Abdullah

Wide receiver Bruce Ellington on Tuesday signed with the Detroit Lions, who also waived running back Ameer Abdullah.

Fullback Zach Zenner re-signed with the Lions after 28 career games with Detroit. He was with the team throughout the offseason and training camp until landing on injured reserve Week 1.

Ellington, a fourth-round pick by San Francisco in 2014, spent the past two seasons with the Houston Texans after two seasons with the 49ers. He has 56 receptions for 637 yards and five touchdowns in 40 career games. The Texans placed Ellington on injured reserve in late September.

Abdullah was a second-round pick in 2015 but was active in only three games this season.

Zenner and Ellington both have special teams experience and could factor immediately after the Lions made changes to those units this week.

–Field Level Media

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Mullens announces he’s 49ers’ starting QB

 

 

Nick Mullens will start for the San Francisco 49ers when they host the New York Giants on Monday night.

 

That's according to Mullens, who announced the news himself to reporters Tuesday after practice. He said coach Kyle Shanahan told him he was the starter, and Mullens took the reps with the first

 

 

Nick Mullens will start for the San Francisco 49ers when they host the New York Giants on Monday night.

 

That’s according to Mullens, who announced the news himself to reporters Tuesday after practice. He said coach Kyle Shanahan told him he was the starter, and Mullens took the reps with the first team.

 

Mullens made his NFL debut last Thursday and led the 49ers (2-7) to a 34-3 win over the Oakland Raiders. He completed 16 of 22 passes for 262 with three touchdowns, and he didn’t turn the ball over.

 

The 23-year-old product of Southern Miss started last week when C.J. Beathard — himself a substitute for starter Jimmy Garoppolo, who is out for the season — couldn’t grip the ball because of an injury to his throwing hand.

 

Beathard, taken by the 49ers in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft, was 0-5 as a starter this season and is 1-9 for his career.

 

–Field Level Media

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Report: Michel on track to return Sunday

Report: Michel on track to return Sunday

The New England Patriots might have running back Sony Michel back in the lineup Sunday, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported.

Michel has missed two games since injuring his knee in the Patriots' win over the Bears on Oct. 21. Schefter said Michel will play

Report: Michel on track to return Sunday

The New England Patriots might have running back Sony Michel back in the lineup Sunday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported.

Michel has missed two games since injuring his knee in the Patriots’ win over the Bears on Oct. 21. Schefter said Michel will play Sunday against the Tennessee Titans as long as he doesn’t suffer any setbacks in practice this week.

Michel, a first-round pick in 2018, leads the Patriots in rushing with 422 yards. He has four touchdowns.

James White, Kenjon Barner and wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson have subbed at running back for Michel.

–Field Level Media

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QB Nick Mullens to get 2nd start for 49ers

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — The San Francisco 49ers are sticking with Nick Mullens as their starting quarterback after his spectacular debut performance.

Mullens said coach Kyle Shanahan told him Tuesday that he will remain the starter for the upcoming game against the New York Giants.

Mullens worked with the starters during a

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — The San Francisco 49ers are sticking with Nick Mullens as their starting quarterback after his spectacular debut performance.

Mullens said coach Kyle Shanahan told him Tuesday that he will remain the starter for the upcoming game against the New York Giants.

Mullens worked with the starters during a limited practice as the 49ers (2-7) prepare for the Monday night game against New York. C.J. Beathard remains in the backup role.

The 49ers decided to stick with Mullens after he joined Hall of Famers Jim Kelly (1986) and Fran Tarkenton (1961) as the only QBs to throw for at least 250 yards and three touchdowns without throwing an interception in their NFL debuts.

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Saints on top of latest Pro32 poll; KC, Pats tied for 2nd

NEW YORK (AP) — Who Dat on top of the latest AP Pro32 rankings?

Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints.

The Saints knocked off the Los Angeles Rams 45-35 on Sunday, handing them their first loss of the season.

The Saints jumped three spots to No. 1 in the latest AP Pro32 poll .

NEW YORK (AP) — Who Dat on top of the latest AP Pro32 rankings?

Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints.

The Saints knocked off the Los Angeles Rams 45-35 on Sunday, handing them their first loss of the season.

The Saints jumped three spots to No. 1 in the latest AP Pro32 poll . They received seven of 12 first-place votes and 377 points in balloting Tuesday by media members who regularly cover the NFL.

“Beat the Rams big time,” Fox Sports’ John Czarnecki said.

The Kansas City Chiefs and the surging New England Patriots are tied for No. 2. The Patriots, who have won six in a row, got two first-place votes and the Chiefs received the remaining three, giving both teams 364 points.

“Andy Reid has been a terrific coach for so many years, but Patrick Mahomes’ brilliance allows Reid’s true play-calling talents shine through like never before,” Newsday’s Bob Glauber said of the Chiefs.

The Rams fell from the top spot to No. 4. They will look to get back to their winning ways when they host NFC West rival Seattle on Sunday.

“Although they couldn’t stop Drew Brees when it counted, the Rams are still in very good shape to secure an NFC playoff bye,” said Ira Kaufman of Fox 13 in Tampa, Florida.

The Carolina Panthers and the LA Chargers followed at No. 5 and No. 6. The teams flipped spots from the previous poll.

The Pittsburgh Steelers, who open Week 10 when they host the Panthers on Thursday night, remained at No. 7.

The Minnesota Vikings and Houston Texans each moved up a spot to No. 8 and No. 9 as they enter their bye weeks. The Texans have won six in a row after a 0-3 start.

And the Chicago Bears climbed five spots to round out the top 10 after their 41-9 rout of the woeful Buffalo Bills.

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Lions cut Ameer Abdullah, sign Zach Zenner, Bruce Ellington

ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) — The Detroit Lions have released running back Ameer Abdullah, cutting ties with their seldom-used, second-round pick from the 2015 draft.

Detroit also signed running back Zach Zenner and receiver Bruce Ellington on Tuesday.

Abdullah had one carry, two catches and returned four kickoffs in three games this year.

ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) — The Detroit Lions have released running back Ameer Abdullah, cutting ties with their seldom-used, second-round pick from the 2015 draft.

Detroit also signed running back Zach Zenner and receiver Bruce Ellington on Tuesday.

Abdullah had one carry, two catches and returned four kickoffs in three games this year. Abdullah had 1,251 yards rushing and six touchdowns along with had 57 receptions for 420 yards in his career.

Detroit waived Zenner from the reserve-injured list nearly two months ago after he hurt his back in the preseason finale. He had 420 yards rushing and five touchdowns over three seasons with the Lions.

Ellington had eight receptions for 92 yards and a touchdown in three games this season with the Houston Texans.

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Developing young QBs in NFL a tricky balancing act

NEW YORK (AP) — Start them right away? Ease 'em in? Have them sit a whole season?

When it comes to developing young quarterbacks in the NFL, it all depends on who you talk to.

Some teams think it's best to throw rookie QBs into the fire to learn on the job. Others prefer to

NEW YORK (AP) — Start them right away? Ease ’em in? Have them sit a whole season?

When it comes to developing young quarterbacks in the NFL, it all depends on who you talk to.

Some teams think it’s best to throw rookie QBs into the fire to learn on the job. Others prefer to gradually work them into the offense. Some say it’s more beneficial to have them grab a cap and clipboard and take it all in from the sideline.

“I think every position is the same,” Jets offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates said. “If someone can’t handle it mentally, then you don’t want to put them on the field, because naturally they’ll play slower and be thinking instead of reacting.”

Sam Darnold clearly passed that test for New York, and the No. 3 overall pick in April was under center to start the season.

“If a player shows the athletic ability, the talent and has the mental capacity to handle a gameplan and go into a game and be successful,” Bates said, “then he’s ready to play.”

That doesn’t mean things have necessarily gone smoothly for the former USC star.

Darnold’s 14 interceptions lead the league and have contributed to the Jets’ 3-6 start. So have his 55.0 percent completion rate and 68.3 quarterback rating, which also rank among the worst in the league.

Still, some point to these early struggles as crucial building blocks for the future.

“I’m going to continue to learn,” Darnold said Sunday after a 13-6 loss at Miami in which he threw four INTs. “There’s always lessons to be learned.”

Of the 32 quarterbacks currently listed as starters for their teams, 12 were under center in Week 1 of their first season.

On the flipside, some veteran superstar QBs waited a while before they got their chances.

Aaron Rodgers was stuck behind Brett Favre in Green Bay before finally starting in his fourth season. Philip Rivers didn’t start with the Chargers until his third year, when Drew Brees went to New Orleans. Even Brees didn’t get his first NFL start until his second season.

Tom Brady, Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger and Alex Smith weren’t Day 1 starters, either.

“In an ideal world, it gets to be like Drew, who had a chance to watch a little, or Tom Brady and Aaron,” said former quarterback Rich Gannon, the 2002 NFL MVP and now an analyst for CBS Sports and SiriusXM NFL Radio.

Patrick Mahomes sat behind Smith in Kansas City until Week 17 as a rookie last year, and now is a leading MVP candidate as one of the NFL’s top gunslinger s with a league-leading 29 TD passes for the 8-1 Chiefs.

“We knew that Patrick was very talented, but any time that an NFL team goes with a young quarterback, usually it’s a very challenging endeavor,” Chiefs owner Clark Hunt said. “Sometimes it takes time, several years, but as we’ve seen, Andy (Reid) had Patrick ready to go Week 1.”

Gannon thinks the Chiefs provide the perfect blueprint.

“Mahomes had a chance to watch a master of his domain for a year,” he said. “Alex Smith knew that system inside and out, has great huddle command and leadership skills. Maybe he doesn’t throw it like Mahomes does, but this is a guy who was willing to share and help him for that year, and we’re seeing the fruits of it now.

“That’s the best situation you can have.”

Again, that depends on who you ask.

In the past three drafts, 11 quarterbacks were taken in the first round — including Darnold, Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield, Buffalo’s Josh Allen, Arizona’s Josh Rosen and Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson this year.

Jackson is the only one to not yet start at least one game. Baltimore has Joe Flacco leading the huddle, but Jackson has still been used in the offense and is the Ravens’ second-leading rusher.

The Browns wanted to have Mayfield, the No. 1 overall pick this year, sit and learn behind Tyrod Taylor. But like most plans in Cleveland, it backfired.

Taylor got hurt in Week 3 and Mayfield was thrust into the lineup, helping the Browns rally to beat the Jets in a nationally televised game and end a 19-game winless streak. Mayfield has shown poise and promise, but lacks playmakers and is dealing with a coaching change after Hue Jackson was fired.

In Buffalo, the Bills weren’t anticipating Allen starting in the second week. They were taking what coach Sean McDermott called a “calculated” approach. But after AJ McCarron was traded before the season opener and Nathan Peterman bombed in Week 1, McDermott was left with no choice but to turn to Allen.

The rookie has been dealing with a sprained right elbow , and is uncertain to play Sunday against the Jets.

“When you draft a quarterback like we did, there’s a part of it where you have to say, ‘Hey, he’s going to play either A, B, or C — early, middle, or late or next year.'” McDermott said. “You have to be OK with all of that.”

The initial plan in Arizona was to have Rosen learn behind Sam Bradford. All that changed when the veteran was ineffective and benched in favor of the No. 10 overall pick.

Rosen took his lumps with some turnover-filled performances. Then, Mike McCoy was fired as the Cardinals’ offensive coordinator and Bradford was later cut — leaving the job to Rosen.

“His demeanor allows him to have success,” new offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich said. “Quarterbacking in this league is hard and when things go bad, this kid tends to be fine.”

But, some say too many adverse situations could end up having long-term deleterious effects on a young player.

“When you put them in before they’re ready, they also get hurt: Josh Allen, Josh Rosen,” Gannon said. “The speed of the game is way too fast for them. … Or they have a bad experience, like what wound up happening with (the Jets’) Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith, or going back to Ryan Leaf (with the Chargers). They play right away before they are physically or mentally ready or maturity-level ready. They get benched and booed and maybe run out of town, the coach gets fired, and then the next thing, they’re on their third or fourth team. They think he will be a savior and he’s not ready to play.

“How is that being responsible from a coach and ownership standpoint? It’s doing a tremendous disservice.”

Tampa Bay’s Jameis Winston and Tennessee’ Marcus Mariota started right away after being the top two picks in 2015, but the jury’s still out on both.

For those who preach patience, 25 of the 32 current QBs started a game at some point in their rookie season. And, several held on to the job from there.

Quarterbacks such as the Rams’ Jared Goff (No. 1 in 2016) and the Bears’ Mitchell Trubisky (No. 2 in 2017) started and struggled as rookies, but benefited from changes in coaching staffs and philosophies and took leaps in their second seasons.

So, who’s right?

Well, all of the above.

“There’s certainly valuable experience when you stand and watch,” McDermott said. “But we all know there’s no substitute for the experience when you’re actually behind the wheel. There’s a lot of value to that.”

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AP Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner and AP Sports Writers Bob Baum, David Ginsburg, Dave Skretta, John Wawrow and Tom Withers contributed.

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Giants QB Manning to start Monday at San Francisco

Giants QB Manning to start Monday at San Francisco

New York Giants head coach Pat Shurmur will not make a quarterback change this week, announcing Tuesday that Eli Manning will be the No. 1 quarterback Monday at San Francisco.

But Shurmur came as close as he has all season

Giants QB Manning to start Monday at San Francisco

New York Giants head coach Pat Shurmur will not make a quarterback change this week, announcing Tuesday that Eli Manning will be the No. 1 quarterback Monday at San Francisco.

But Shurmur came as close as he has all season to putting Manning on notice, saying the Giants expect better play at the position. Shurmur said part of his decision was based on his expectation that Manning and the Giants will get on a roll.

Manning, 37, has 222 starts in 224 career games since the 2004 draft.

Manning has been sacked a league-high 31 times and the Giants are 31st in rushing (77.9 yards per game) and 27th in points with 18.8 per game. At 1-7, the Giants are in the running for the No. 1 overall draft pick at midseason.

Alex Tanney is the backup quarterback. Rookie Kyle Lauletta has not been active for a game this season and faced internal discipline from the Giants for his arrest heading to practice last week.

Lauletta apologized on Tuesday for being a distraction.

“First things first, I want to apologize to the New York Giants organization, my teammates, the fans and my family,” Lauletta said. “The incident that happened last week is a terrible representation of who I am and what I stand for.”

The Giants also expected to activate defensive lineman R.J. McInstosh from the non-football injury list.

–Field Level Media

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Ravens taking week off to recharge

Ravens taking week off to recharge

John Harbaugh is ready to send players home from the Baltimore Ravens facility after meetings on Wednesday, hoping time away fires up his reeling team during the bye.

The Ravens (4-5) entered last week's loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers with 10 players, including both

Ravens taking week off to recharge

John Harbaugh is ready to send players home from the Baltimore Ravens facility after meetings on Wednesday, hoping time away fires up his reeling team during the bye.

The Ravens (4-5) entered last week’s loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers with 10 players, including both starting offensive tackles, on the injury report. The Ravens started the season 4-2 and in first place in the AFC North.

“When you watch the tape [of Sunday’s game against Pittsburgh], we played fast, we played hard,” Harbaugh said. “But are we as fast as we were earlier in the year? Probably not. We’re probably a step off just because it’s Week 9. This week is going to help us. It’s going to help us pick that step back up. I’m really excited about that.”

Harbaugh hears fans and others calling for the Ravens to make a coaching change. He’s 45-46 since the Ravens won the Super Bowl in 2012.

“I understand that’s part of it — and probably not surprised, because you have to win games in this league,” Harbaugh said. “That’s the bottom line.”

The Steelers held Baltimore to 268 total yards, sparking questions about the Ravens changing quarterbacks from Joe Flacco to rookie Lamar Jackson. Harbaugh said he’s not making a switch at the position, but does want to find ways to get Jackson on the field more often. Among other reasons, he said the team’s rushing production is far better with Jackson on the field.

Even so, he won’t be trotting out any new formations this week.

“I know that we’re better off resting at this point,” Harbaugh said Tuesday. “I think our guys have been hard at work, at it through a long training camp, and it will be good for us to get an opportunity to get off our feet and get our legs back. So I’m looking forward to that.”

–Field Level Media

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Report: Former Vikings DT Floyd suing Dr. James Andrews

 

 

Former Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd plans to file suit against Dr. James Andrews over what the 27-year-old claims was a knee surgery gone wrong.

 

Floyd, according to multiple reports, will file the $180 million lawsuit in Florida on Tuesday against Dr. Andrews, the Andrews Institute for Orthopedic Surgery and others,

 

 

Former Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd plans to file suit against Dr. James Andrews over what the 27-year-old claims was a knee surgery gone wrong.

 

Floyd, according to multiple reports, will file the $180 million lawsuit in Florida on Tuesday against Dr. Andrews, the Andrews Institute for Orthopedic Surgery and others, claiming a 2016 routine arthroscopic procedure turned into a career-ending operation.

 

Floyd’s attorney, Brad Sohn, said the suit will outline the failure of those being named in the court documents, including Andrews, his anesthesiologist, two surgery assistants and the hospital where the operation took place.

 

Sohn said Floyd was expecting a scope of his knee in 2016 with a recovery time of no more than one month.

 

Once on the operating table, doctors determined Floyd needed microfracture knee surgery, Sohn described in interviews with multiple outlets.

 

When surgical assistants administered a pain blocker, muscle tissue and nerves around the knee were paralyzed, Floyd claims.

 

Sohn told ESPN.com the $180 million figure is based on projected career earnings.

 

Floyd, the 23rd overall pick in 2013, was placed on the Non-Football Injury List by the Minnesota Vikings. By rule, teams are not required to pay the full salary — $6.757 million in Floyd’s case — for players on NFI.

 

Floyd has field a grievance against the NFL Players Association, but not the Vikings.

 

–Field Level Media

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Cowboys’ Jones not planning coaching changes

Cowboys' Jones not planning coaching changes

Head coach Jason Garrett and offensive coordinator Scott Linehan are likely to finish the 2018 season with the Dallas Cowboys.

Owner Jerry Jones, while confessing he was befuddled by Monday's loss to the Tennessee Titans coming out of a bye week, said he was

Cowboys’ Jones not planning coaching changes

Head coach Jason Garrett and offensive coordinator Scott Linehan are likely to finish the 2018 season with the Dallas Cowboys.

Owner Jerry Jones, while confessing he was befuddled by Monday’s loss to the Tennessee Titans coming out of a bye week, said he was disappointed his team looked tired and failed to deliver in the second half. But Jones also indicated he is standing by Garrett and Linehan, whose stagnant offense has been the subject of heavy criticism from the fan base.

“I very candidly didn’t see this coming,” Jones said Monday night. “I thought we would be sitting here with a positive result. This is a surprise to me and is a setback. Now when you’re halfway through the season, losing a ballgame in the NFL, if that causes you to be deterred or to not think that there’s a future ahead of you, then you’ve picked the wrong world to operate in. That’s not the life we’ve chosen.”

The schedule doesn’t let up for the Cowboys, who visit the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday before a Week 11 game at Atlanta to face the high-scoring Falcons.

At 3-5, the Cowboys are only two games out of first place in the NFC East with eight games to play. But the offense is 27th in total offense and managed only 297 yards Monday.

“I think we realize we have eight games to go, we’ve got a long way to go in this season,” Jones said. “We want to play better than we played (Monday), so I certainly think each individual and coach and front-office person is going to have to do better, including me.”

–Field Level Media

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FANTASY PLAYS: Immediate and future pickups for Week 10

The Vikings, Broncos, Texans and Ravens being off in Week 10 means there are plenty of bye week players to replace in lineups.

You'll be without the likes of Adam Thielen, Kirk Cousins, Phillip Lindsay, Emmanuel Sanders, DeAndre Hopkins and Deshaun Watson this week. Work the waiver wire aggressively and with a forward-looking focus.

RUNNING

The Vikings, Broncos, Texans and Ravens being off in Week 10 means there are plenty of bye week players to replace in lineups.

You’ll be without the likes of Adam Thielen, Kirk Cousins, Phillip Lindsay, Emmanuel Sanders, DeAndre Hopkins and Deshaun Watson this week. Work the waiver wire aggressively and with a forward-looking focus.

RUNNING BACKS

DUKE JOHNSON JR., Browns (49.6 percent owned): He was cut in some very competitive leagues recently, but a coaching overhaul in Cleveland has led to Johnson quickly regaining fantasy relevance. Johnson caught nine passes for 78 yards on Sunday, and with the Browns lacking a quality second wideout he should remain in the flow going forward. Make him a top waiver priority or be willing to spend handsomely if your league uses a free agent acquisition budget. If you need RB help in a point-per-reception format, don’t hesitate to spend 50 to 60 percent of your budget.

MIKE DAVIS, Seahawks (18.5): He totaled 107 yards from scrimmage and caught seven passes on Sunday as Chris Carson could not make it out of the early stages of the game. Carson is already looking iffy this week with hip and groin problems and he has been a consistent injury concern. Davis is clearly preferred by the Seattle coaching staff over Rashaad Penny and faces the league’s worst run defense (the Rams) in Week 10.

JOSH ADAMS (3.0): We advised picking him up last week but he was only added in 2.5 percent of leagues. Many owners passed on him because Adams was on a bye week. Don’t overlook players who have byes, when you can get the jump on passive league mates. Adams may start for the Eagles coming off the bye.

WIDE RECEIVERS

MARQUES VALDES-SCANTLING (20.8): Not enough owners paid attention to injury news late last week, which indicated Geronimo Allison would likely be out with a groin injury, boosting Valdes-Scantling’s outlook again. Now Allison may be done for the season and Randall Cobb is oft-injured and only had 24 receiving yards last week. The rookie has either reached 100 yards or scored in his last four games and has quickly risen to fantasy WR3 status.

ADAM HUMPHRIES, Buccaneers (2.8): In the past, he had flashed some potential to be a decent fantasy player, then totally defied expectations in Week 9 with eight catches for 82 yards and two TD receptions. He used to be more of a Jameis Winston favorite, but Ryan Fitzpatrick can use him as a reliable option from the slot.

JOHN ROSS, Bengals (8.1): Ross has started to practice as he anticipates a potential return from a groin injury, and with A.J. Green possibly missing two games or more with a toe problem, Ross becomes a viable waiver target because of increased opportunity. Tyler Boyd may get extra defensive attention during Green’s absence, and Ross will likely be more targeted more frequently. His big-play promise is no secret to seasoned fantasy players.

TIGHT ENDS

C.J. UZOMAH, Bengals (18.2): He has disappointed since becoming the clear No. 1 at his position in Cincinnati because of injuries, but Uzomah also still has some lingering appeal because of the Green injury. Andy Dalton will always consider his tight ends when inside the 10-yard line, and Uzomah has some TD potential while Green is out.

JEFF HEUERMAN, Broncos (7.9): Here’s a guy on a bye that you need to add now if TE is a desperation need. Heuerman immediately stepped into the Demaryius Thomas void left by the WR’s departure, catching 10 passes for 83 yards and a TD in a career performance. While his statistical ceiling may not be as high as those numbers indicate going forward, you have to take a waiver chance on the improved production possibly lasting more than one game.

QUARTERBACK

LAMAR JACKSON, Ravens (1.5): This is a forward-looking waiver move where you possibly can get ahead of the rest of the league, as Baltimore is on a bye. Joe Flacco has four TD passes in his past five games and 398 passing yards with one TD and two interceptions in his last two outings. There could be a QB change coming in Baltimore soon. Jackson looked like an erratic passer in the preseason, but his rushing and playmaking skills point to some tantalizing fantasy possibilities if he gets inserted into the Ravens guiding role.

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For more waiver and Week 10 advice, visit RotoExperts: https://rotoexperts.com

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Week 11 Schedule Changes

PRESS RELEASE

WEEK 11 (NOVEMBER 18) SCHEDULE CHANGES:
 
VIKINGS-BEARS MOVES TO 8:20 PM ET ON NBC,
 
EAGLES-SAINTS TO 4:25 PM ET (FOX) & STEELERS-JAGUARS TO 1 PM ET (CBS)

PRESS RELEASE

WEEK 11 (NOVEMBER 18) SCHEDULE CHANGES:
 
VIKINGS-BEARS MOVES TO 8:20 PM ET ON NBC,
 
EAGLES-SAINTS TO 4:25 PM ET (FOX) & STEELERS-JAGUARS TO 1 PM ET (CBS)
 
The NFL announced today the following schedule changes for Week 11 on Sunday, November 18.
The Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears game will move from 1 PM ET on FOX to 8:20 PM ET on NBC.
The Philadelphia Eagles at New Orleans Saints game moves from 1 PM ET on FOX to 4:25 PM ET on FOX.
The Pittsburgh Steelers at Jacksonville Jaguars game originally scheduled at 8:20 PM ET on NBC will move to CBS at 1 PM ET.
The following is the final Week 11 NFL schedule (all times ET):
 
Thursday, November 15
Green Bay at Seattle
8:20 PM
FOX/NFLN/Amazon
 
Sunday, November 18
Dallas at Atlanta
1:00 PM
FOX
Cincinnati at Baltimore
1:00 PM
CBS
Carolina at Detroit ­
1:00 PM
FOX
Tennessee at Indianapolis
1:00 PM
CBS
Pittsburgh at Jacksonville
1:00 PM
CBS
Tampa Bay at New York Giants
1:00 PM
FOX
Houston at Washington
1:00 PM
CBS
Oakland at Arizona
4:05 PM
CBS
Denver at Los Angeles Chargers
4:05 PM
CBS
Philadelphia at New Orleans
4:25 PM
FOX
Minnesota at Chicago
8:20 PM
NBC
 
 
 
Monday, November 19
Kansas City at Los Angeles Rams (Mexico City)
8:15 PM
ESPN

 

Courtesy of NFL Communications

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Ex-Vikings DT Floyd to sue Dr. James Andrews

Ex-Vikings DT Floyd to sue Dr. James Andrews

Famed orthopedic surgeon James Andrews is expected to be sued by former Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, the lawyer for ex-NFL player announced Monday in a statement.

Attorney Brad Sohn's statement said the lawsuit will be filed Tuesday in Florida.

Ex-Vikings DT Floyd to sue Dr. James Andrews

Famed orthopedic surgeon James Andrews is expected to be sued by former Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, the lawyer for ex-NFL player announced Monday in a statement.

Attorney Brad Sohn’s statement said the lawsuit will be filed Tuesday in Florida.

The suit maintains that Floyd sustained permanent nerve and muscle damage in his leg as a result of a September 2016 surgery performed at the Andrews Institute of Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine in Pensacola, Fla. Floyd expected the operation to be a routine arthroscopic procedure that would require three to four weeks of recovery.

However, doctors saw the need for microfracture surgery, requiring the bone to be drilled into, leading to Floyd needing a post-operation pain blocker.

The suit alleges that those administrating the pain blocker affected the procedure, paralyzing a nerve and the surrounding muscle and creating a situation where Floyd could not recover sufficiently to play football.

The suit is expected to target Andrews plus the anesthesiologist, two who aided in the surgery, the hospital and the associated corporations, according to a source who spoke with ESPN.

Floyd, whose NFL career — all with the Vikings — ended in 2016, is seeking $180 million in damages.

“We believe that if Sharrif had not been the victim of the medical negligence we allege, he would’ve been paid commensurate with some of the top players at his position, if not some of the top defensive players in football,” Sohn told Sports Illustrated on Monday night.

Sharrif, a University of Florida product, finished with 9.5 sacks in 44 NFL games.

“I’m going to get justice for Sharrif,” Sohn told ESPN. “He would have earned, we believe, a considerable amount of money playing football, and we’re going to attempt to hold accountable the people who prevented him from playing football and ended his career. I’m prepared to go the distance.”

–Field Level Media

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Column: NFL is fun again in most surprising twist to season

Michael Thomas reached behind a goal post to pull out a flip phone in homage to a memorable touchdown celebration of the past. Benjamin Watson used his touchdown catch to let everyone know that he and his wife are expecting — and it's going to be twins.

That was cause enough for celebration

Michael Thomas reached behind a goal post to pull out a flip phone in homage to a memorable touchdown celebration of the past. Benjamin Watson used his touchdown catch to let everyone know that he and his wife are expecting — and it’s going to be twins.

That was cause enough for celebration itself on a feel-good weekend for the NFL. So, too, was that bettors in Las Vegas and elsewhere finally turned the tables and took the bookies for millions of dollars.

They could have just as easily been popping champagne corks at NFL headquarters in New York. A season that began in turmoil has reached its midpoint and the league is riding a new high, with television ratings up and fans filling stadiums to cheer their favorite teams.

Suddenly, the NFL is fun once again.

It showed Sunday in a shootout in New Orleans that was widely entertaining even without the touchdown props. Then, if any further evidence was needed, it was provided in prime time when Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers squared off in a showdown of quarterback greats.

Brady and the New England Patriots won that one, and once again are treating another visit to the Super Bowl as their birthright. Out west, meanwhile, the Rams are trying to win fans again in Los Angeles with a team that could find its way to Atlanta, too.

And a new group of exciting young quarterbacks are letting everyone know the future of the sport is in good hands.

What could go wrong? Well, plenty, especially if President Trump takes an interest in the league once again.

But these are good times for a league that has taken blow after blow the last few years only to emerge with its position of America’s favorite sport safely intact.

“We’re the best,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said at last month’s owner meetings. “And I know that’s ironic since we’ve had some criticism, too. But I think that’s healthy.”

What is really healthy are offenses around the league, with scoring at record levels and 27 of 32 teams averaging more than 20 points a game. New rule changes designed to protect the quarterback and free up offenses have worked exactly as planned, despite some grumbling early by players upset they couldn’t hit like they did in the past.

Healthy indeed. Things are so good that even Roger Goodell couldn’t mess it up.

Actually, maybe he can. Not many were paying attention, but there were still a few protests during the anthem over the weekend and the issue is one presidential tweet away from blowing up once again.

Meanwhile, Colin Kaepernick remains unemployed, something everyone in the league should be ashamed about.

For now, though, the attention is on the game itself. And it can be argued that the game has never looked better.

There’s no confusion anymore about when a catch is really a catch, and even Clay Matthews of the Packers seems to have figured out how and when to safely take down the opposing quarterback.

There are dominant teams on both coasts, and a few high scoring games that are reminiscent of the old American Football League. The concussion issue has subsided, though the disturbing fact remains players are still suffering from them — at great risk to their long term health.

Even fans of the hapless Cleveland Browns have something to be happy about with a couple of wins and a couple coaches fired. They also have a franchise quarterback in Baker Mayfield and a potential upside that’s the envy of better teams.

It didn’t happen exactly by design. A lot of the NFL’s good fortune is due to good luck and an unwillingness of fans to let go of their favorite sport despite its many flaws.

There still is no real grand plan to end the protest debate, no long term solution to the fact football played at the highest level can shorten lives. The officiating continues to get in the way — often at just the wrong time — and there’s a real chance games aren’t played when the current collective bargaining agreement expires and players finally make a stand for guaranteed contracts.

For now, though, those are distant threats. The league remains the most popular in the country by far, and the addition of legalized betting around the country will boost it even more just like fantasy football has done in recent years.

What once looked like a season lost is now looking like a season to remember.

____

Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg@ap.org or http://twitter.com/timdahlberg

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Coaches: curious calls, assertions, admonitions in Week 9

DENVER (AP) — Coaches made some curious calls, assertions and admonitions in Week 9 as the NFL hit the halfway point with some real head-scratchers.

Oakland coach Jon Gruden insisted the silver and black is still golden, saying he's getting calls from players dying to play for the Raiders (1-7) next season.

Hue

DENVER (AP) — Coaches made some curious calls, assertions and admonitions in Week 9 as the NFL hit the halfway point with some real head-scratchers.

Oakland coach Jon Gruden insisted the silver and black is still golden, saying he’s getting calls from players dying to play for the Raiders (1-7) next season.

Hue Jackson suggested the Browns should have shown more patience before showing him the door with a 3-36-1 record, and his replacement, Gregg Williams, swore he’d turned down multiple head coaching offers since his firing by the Bills in 2003.

Matt Patricia, the latest disciple of Bill Belichick to discover just how hard it is to win without Tom Brady, had no problem with a reporter’s question so much as his poor posture, apparently averse to any kind of slump.

And Broncos embattled coach Vance Joseph admitted he got greedy in sending Brandon McManus out for a 62-yard field goal with 22 seconds left before halftime Sunday, a costly decision that backfired and resulted in a six-point swing in a gut-wrenching two-point loss to the Texans.

RAIDERS NADIRS

In an interview with Fox Sports that aired before Oakland’s 34-3 shellacking at the hands of the 49ers, Gruden told Raiders Hall of Famer Howie Long that said his trades of two of his biggest stars in Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper hasn’t affected other players’ desires to play for the Raiders in 2019.

“I got a cellphone just like you and everybody else,” Gruden said. “I get a lot of phone calls from people that are dying to come play here. I’m just telling you. They’re dying to play for the Raiders.”

Oakland may have nearly $70 million cap space to go with three first-round draft picks next April, but doesn’t talking to potential free agents teeter on tampering?

HUE’S VIEW

Jackson said he could have turned things around in Cleveland if given more time.

“I was surprised that I was not given the opportunity to display what I could do as a play caller with a much more talented roster,” Jackson told Cleveland.com after he was fired along with offensive coordinator Todd Haley following the Browns’ 25th consecutive road loss.

Jackson said he thought No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield will be successful but he lamented the Browns passing on quarterbacks Carson Wentz, Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes in recent years as Cleveland chose to stockpile draft picks.

WILD WILLIAMS

The real eye-opener in Cleveland was Williams’ wild claims in his first news conference as interim head coach. Williams had served as defensive coordinator for several teams since his firing as head coach in Buffalo 15 years ago, but he said that was only because he had turned down multiple offers to be a head coach again.

He said he had “11 letters sent in to interview for head coaching jobs” and “four of them I didn’t even have to show up, just sign the contract and come.”

The NFL suspended Williams for the 2012 season after ruling that while the Saints defensive coordinator he orchestrated a program by which players were paid for knocking opponents from a game.

“That thing was a long time ago,” Williams said when asked if he ever imagined being a head coach again. “That’s nothing that we’re talking about now.”

SERGEANT SIT-UP-STRAIGHT

Detroit’s rookie head coach had a terse exchange with a reporter while discussing the Lions’ trade of leading receiver Golden Tate to the Philadelphia Eagles, a team they could be fighting in the NFL wild-card race, for a third-round pick, a move that could hurt in the short-term but pay dividends down the road.

When the reporter asked why he thought this move makes the Lions better, Patricia snapped, “Do me a favor and just kind of sit up, just like, have a little respect for the process.”

This from a coach who wore sweatpants to meet the media during Super Bowl week last February.

The reporter promptly sat up straight, asked his question again, and Patricia politely answered.

After the Lions’ 24-9 loss at Minnesota in which Matthew Stafford was sacked 10 times, the Detroit News trolled Patricia with this bold headline above a photo of the prone QB: “Poor Posture .”

VEXED VANCE

Joseph lost for the 17th time in 25 games Sunday when Brandon McManus missed a 51-yard field goal as time expired, turning a potential 20-19 thriller into a crushing 19-17 loss to the Texans and former teammate Demaryius Thomas.

Joseph was left to answer questions for two days about his questionable decisions at the end of both halves.

McManus also missed from 62 yards in the second quarter, leaving the Texans with the ball at the Broncos 48 and 18 seconds left, enough time for Deshaun Watson to get Houston into field goal range itself.

The six-point swing proved the difference when McManus missed consecutive field goals for the first time in his five-year NFL career, pushing his 51-yarder wide right as time expired in the fourth quarter.

“The one before half, that was totally on me. I was chasing points,” Joseph said Monday.

But the game-ender? No apologies for not trying to get closer after reaching the Texans 33.

Not with Whitney Mercilus, Jadeveon Clowney and J.J. Watt working against a makeshift line that had lost center Matt Paradis to a broken right leg earlier in the game.

Said Joseph: “I wasn’t going to expose our quarterback and our O-line to that pass rush one more time and now if they make a play, now we’re all idiots, right?”

___

More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/tag/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

___

Follow Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton

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Cowboys unable to defend star at home except for Jones shove

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — The Dallas Cowboys defense might want to delete that last group photo. It was a celebration that proved a bit premature.

On this Monday night, the Cowboys didn't defend their star in a 28-14 loss — except for Byron Jones shoving Kevin Byard when the Tennessee Titans safety did

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — The Dallas Cowboys defense might want to delete that last group photo. It was a celebration that proved a bit premature.

On this Monday night, the Cowboys didn’t defend their star in a 28-14 loss — except for Byron Jones shoving Kevin Byard when the Tennessee Titans safety did his best imitation of Terrell Owens’ infamous taunting on the midfield logo 18 years ago.

“There’s no need for it,” Jones said. “We’re all having fun, but I think when you go and try to go on the star … everyone knows what going on the star means.”

Byrad’s interception in the end zone of Dak Prescott’s pass came right after Jaylon Smith recovered the second fumble by Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota and the Cowboys (3-5) looking to build on their early 7-0 lead.

“That was a big play in the ballgame not to be able to cash in there,” coach Jason Garrett said. “That was big in the game.”

Just two plays later, it looked like Smith had another recovery after what would have been Tennessee’s third lost fumble in a five-minute span. The defense had already posed for another group photo, like it had after two fumbles by Mariota, before the play was overturned on a replay review.

After keeping the ball, Mariota and the Titans (4-4) went on to finish a 15-play drive that tied the game. They didn’t have any more turnovers and never trailed again.

“One thing that defensively that we try to uphold is creating turnovers,” Jones said. “You can’t just do it in the first quarter and expect the game to go your way. You have to do it throughout the entire game.”

Amari Cooper had a 4-yard TD catch in his first game for the Cowboys, who sent a first-round pick to Oakland for the fourth-year receiver.

All three Dallas drives in the first quarter got into the red zone. There was a missed field goal before Cooper’s TD, and Prescott’s interception after that in their first home loss this season.

“I think the main thing is we had two no-scores in the red zone,” running back Ezekiel Elliott said. “It’s hard to win a game in the NFL when you have two no-scores.”

Cooper finished by catching five of the eight passes thrown his way for 58 yards — the interception was intended for him. Elliott had 17 carries for 61 yards.

Along with Cooper’s debut, this was the first game for the Cowboys since offensive line coach Paul Alexander was fired less than halfway into his first season with the team. Former Dallas offensive lineman Marc Colombo, who had served as assistant offensive line coach since 2016, was promoted to take over as offensive line coach.

It was the first time Garrett has made an in-season change to his coaching staff, but there was no immediate turnaround.

Prescott was sacked five times, losing a fumble when he tried to escape being tackled on one of them, and the Cowboys had only 72 yards rushing.

With the five sacks, Prescott has already been sacked 28 times halfway through this season. That is three more than his rookie season in 2016, and just short of the 32 sacks last season.

“I know that we had breakdowns,” owner Jerry Jones said. “I don’t know that I expected the change to create a situation here you just didn’t have breakdowns. I didn’t think there would be enough to impact the game the way it did, and the way it did with Dak.”

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Mariota recovers, Titans top Cowboys 28-14 in Cooper’s debut

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Marcus Mariota threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score after fumbling on Tennessee's first two possessions, and the Titans spoiled Amari Cooper's Dallas debut with a 28-14 victory over the Cowboys on Monday night.

Kevin Byard sparked the sluggish Titans with an end-zone interception of Dak Prescott

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Marcus Mariota threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score after fumbling on Tennessee’s first two possessions, and the Titans spoiled Amari Cooper’s Dallas debut with a 28-14 victory over the Cowboys on Monday night.

Kevin Byard sparked the sluggish Titans with an end-zone interception of Dak Prescott and celebrated T.O.-style. The Tennessee safety sprinted to midfield and stood on the Cowboys’ star logo while spreading his arms, just as Terrell Owens did 18 years ago at old Texas Stadium in a San Francisco rout.

The Cowboys looked like the team headed for a blowout win, but led just 7-0 after Mariota’s early miscues because of Brett Maher’s missed 38-yard field goal and Prescott’s ill-advised throw into double coverage.

The Titans (4-4) stopped a three-game losing streak while handing the Cowboys (3-5) their first loss in four home games and giving Dallas a difficult road to recovery for the playoffs.

Cooper scored the first Dallas touchdown and finished five catches for 58 yards after coming over from Oakland in a trade for a first-round pick during the open week.

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Read More 136 Words

Titans-Cowboys Stats

Tennessee 0 14 7 7—28
Dallas 7 7 0 0—14
First Quarter

Dal_Cooper 4 pass from Prescott (Maher kick), 6:12.

Second Quarter

Ten_Henry 1 run (Succop kick), 9:35.

Ten_D.Lewis 18 pass from Mariota (Succop kick), 4:11.

Dal_Hurns 23 pass from Prescott

Tennessee 0 14 7 7—28
Dallas 7 7 0 0—14
First Quarter

Dal_Cooper 4 pass from Prescott (Maher kick), 6:12.

Second Quarter

Ten_Henry 1 run (Succop kick), 9:35.

Ten_D.Lewis 18 pass from Mariota (Succop kick), 4:11.

Dal_Hurns 23 pass from Prescott (Maher kick), :39.

Third Quarter

Ten_Jo.Smith 7 pass from Mariota (Succop kick), 5:44.

Fourth Quarter

Ten_Mariota 9 run (Succop kick), 4:38.

A_90,466.

___

Ten Dal
First downs 24 18
Total Net Yards 340 297
Rushes-yards 36-125 19-72
Passing 215 225
Punt Returns 3-11 1-7
Kickoff Returns 1-23 1-23
Interceptions Ret. 1-0 0-0
Comp-Att-Int 21-29-0 21-32-1
Sacked-Yards Lost 4-25 5-18
Punts 1-45.0 3-44.7
Fumbles-Lost 2-2 1-1
Penalties-Yards 3-20 6-52
Time of Possession 34:26 25:34

___

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING_Tennessee, D.Lewis 19-62, Mariota 10-32, Henry 6-27, Davis 1-4. Dallas, Elliott 17-61, Prescott 2-11.

PASSING_Tennessee, Mariota 21-29-0-240. Dallas, Prescott 21-31-1-243, Beasley 0-1-0-0.

RECEIVING_Tennessee, Davis 6-56, D.Lewis 4-60, Jo.Smith 2-33, Taylor 2-24, Batson 2-21, Henry 2-5, Jennings 1-36, Stocker 1-5, Sharpe 1-0. Dallas, Cooper 5-58, Elliott 4-51, Gallup 3-51, Beasley 3-16, De.Thompson 2-21, Jarwin 2-15, Hurns 1-23, R.Smith 1-8.

MISSED FIELD GOALS_Tennessee, Succop 28. Dallas, Maher 38.

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Dez Bryant set to work out with Saints

Dez Bryant set to work out with Saints

Former Dallas Cowboys star Dez Bryant is reportedly one of three wide receivers set to work out for the New Orleans Saints on Tuesday, according to NFL Network's Jane Slater.

Former Seattle Seahawk Brandon Marshall also will work out with New Orleans

Dez Bryant set to work out with Saints

Former Dallas Cowboys star Dez Bryant is reportedly one of three wide receivers set to work out for the New Orleans Saints on Tuesday, according to NFL Network’s Jane Slater.

Former Seattle Seahawk Brandon Marshall also will work out with New Orleans after recently visiting Detroit, added NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

Bryant, who turned 30 on Sunday, has been a free agent since he was released by Dallas in April. He has visited several teams, including a workout with the Cleveland Browns in August.

In an Instagram post on Sunday, Bryant wrote: “Not doing what I love (football) put a weight on me that I never thought I could lift off due to my situations and sacrifices. … Life will forever be a test. No way you can cheat it.”

Bryant, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, has 7,459 receiving yards and 73 touchdowns in his career. Last season, the three-time Pro Bowler notched 69 catches for 838 yards and six touchdowns.

Not long after his release from Dallas, Bryant turned down a three-year contract offer from the Baltimore Ravens, according to several media outlets. He intended to sign a one-year contract this season, then work on a longer-term deal starting next season, the reports said.

The Saints are 7-1 and enjoying a seven-game win streak.

–Field Level Media

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Mariota, Titans take down Cowboys, 28-14

Mariota, Titans take down Cowboys, 28-14

Marcus Mariota passed for two touchdowns and rushed for another to lead the Tennessee Titans to a 28-14 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night at Arlington, Texas.

Mariota completed 21 of 29 passes for 240 yards and tossed scoring passes to running

Mariota, Titans take down Cowboys, 28-14

Marcus Mariota passed for two touchdowns and rushed for another to lead the Tennessee Titans to a 28-14 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night at Arlington, Texas.

Mariota completed 21 of 29 passes for 240 yards and tossed scoring passes to running back Dion Lewis and tight end Jonnu Smith. Lewis had 122 total yards (62 rushing, 60 receiving) and safety Kevin Byard recorded an interception as the Titans (4-4) snapped a three-game losing streak.

Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott was 21 of 31 for 243 yards, two touchdowns and the interception. Amari Cooper caught five passes for 58 yards and a touchdown in his team debut, and fellow receiver Allen Hurns also caught a scoring pass for the Cowboys (3-5).

The Dallas defense repeatedly had issues stopping Tennessee, which converted 11 of 14 third-down opportunities. The Titans outgained the Cowboys 340 yards to 297, sending Dallas to its third defeat in four games.

The Titans took a 21-14 lead when Mariota hit Smith for a 7-yard scoring pass with 5:44 left in the third quarter. Mariota put the ball deep into the grasp of Lewis and pulled it out as Dallas defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence approached and instead shoveled it ahead to Lewis, who darted through the middle of the field for the touchdown.

Tennessee extended the lead to 14 when Mariota rushed for a 9-yard score with 4:38 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Dallas turned the ball over on downs with 1:31 left, and the Titans ran out the clock, sealing the game with Mariota’s 3-yard keeper on third-and-1 from the Tennessee 22-yard line.

Prescott threw two touchdown passes in the first half, and the game was tied at 14 at the break.

The Cowboys struck first four plays after Lawrence strip-sacked Mariota with linebacker Sean Lee recovering at the Tennessee 15. The touchdown came when Prescott tossed a 4-yard scoring pass to Cooper — recently acquired from the Oakland Raiders — with 6:12 left in the first quarter.

Tennessee tied the score with a 15-play, 80-yard drive that was culminated by Derrick Henry’s second-effort 1-yard run with 9:35 left in the half. The Titans moved ahead when Lewis fielded a screen pass from Mariota and navigated for an 18-yard score to make it 14-7 with 4:11 remaining.

The Cowboys countered with a 10-play, 78-yard drive. Prescott connected with Hurns for a 23-yard touchdown to knot the score with 39 seconds left.

–Field Level Media

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Lions fire special teams coordinator Marciano

Lions fire special teams coordinator Marciano

With Detroit ranked last in the NFL in punt coverage and 24th of 32 teams in kickoff coverage, the Lions fired special teams coach Joe Marciano on Monday.

Head coach Matt Patricia issued a statement that read in part, "I appreciate Joe's leadership of

Lions fire special teams coordinator Marciano

With Detroit ranked last in the NFL in punt coverage and 24th of 32 teams in kickoff coverage, the Lions fired special teams coach Joe Marciano on Monday.

Head coach Matt Patricia issued a statement that read in part, “I appreciate Joe’s leadership of our special teams units over the last three and a half seasons and have great respect for his many years of service as a coach in the National Football League. On behalf of our team and the entire coaching staff, I want to personally thank Joe for his commitment to the Detroit Lions and wish him and his family the best moving forward.”

In a 24-9 loss to the Vikings on Sunday in Minneapolis, Minnesota gained 24 yards on its lone punt return, by Marcus Sherels. That gave Lions’ opponents a 20.6-yard average on 10 punt returns this season.

Detroit is allowing 25.1 yards per kickoff return.

The Lions are 18th in the NFL in net punting average (41.3 yards), with Sam Martin rating 12th in gross punting average (45.4 yards).

Marciano, 64, was in his fourth season on the job with the Lions.

He coached for multiple college teams and then in the USFL before getting his first NFL job with the New Orleans Saints in 1986. He ran the Saints’ special teams through 1995, then was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ special teams coordinator from 1996-2001. He held the same role with the Houston Texans from 2002-13 and with the Minnesota Vikings in 2014.

–Field Level Media

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NFL notebook: Broncos sticking with Joseph

NFL notebook: Broncos sticking with Joseph

Another loss by the Denver Broncos hasn't changed head coach Vance Joseph's status for the rest of the 2018 season. General manager John Elway said on a Denver radio station on Monday, "At this point, we're going to stay the course" with Joseph.

"I

NFL notebook: Broncos sticking with Joseph

Another loss by the Denver Broncos hasn’t changed head coach Vance Joseph’s status for the rest of the 2018 season. General manager John Elway said on a Denver radio station on Monday, “At this point, we’re going to stay the course” with Joseph.

“I think there’s enough good things that are going on as far as us and the way that we’re playing,” Elway added on Orange & Blue 760, a Broncos broadcast partner. “I’m much more encouraged this year than I was last year.”

The 3-6 Broncos, who lost 19-17 to the Houston Texans on Sunday when kicker Brando McManus missed a 51-yard field goal attempt as time expired, have gone 8-17 during Joseph’s tenure, which included a 5-11 mark in 2017, his first season as head coach. Denver has fared better against tougher competition in recent weeks — including the Los Angeles Rams and two contests against the Kansas City Chiefs — losing four games by seven or fewer points.

“The frustrating part for everybody … we haven’t made the plays we need to get over the hump,” Elway said. “Every game in this league is always competitive, and the teams that win are teams that are able to do it consistently. We have not been able to do it.”

–Quarterback Sam Bradford is back on the open market after he went unclaimed on waivers.

Bradford, a former Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 draft pick with the then-St. Louis Rams in 2010, signed with the Arizona Cardinals to be the starting quarterback in March. He lost the job to rookie first-round pick Josh Rosen three games into the season.

ESPN reported Bradford, 30, has not practiced for several weeks because of a lack of cartilage in his left knee.

–With Detroit ranked last in the NFL in punt coverage and 24th of 32 teams in kickoff coverage, the Lions fired special teams coach Joe Marciano.

Head coach Matt Patricia issued a statement that read in part, “I appreciate Joe’s leadership of our special teams units over the last three and a half seasons and have great respect for his many years of service as a coach in the National Football League. On behalf of our team and the entire coaching staff, I want to personally thank Joe for his commitment to the Detroit Lions and wish him and his family the best moving forward.”

In a 24-9 loss to the Vikings on Sunday in Minneapolis, Minnesota gained 24 yards on its lone punt return, by Marcus Sherels. That gave Lions’ opponents a 20.6-yard average on 10 punt returns this season.

–Green Bay Packers wide receiver Geronimo Allison could opt for season-ending surgery for a core muscle injury.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy said that Allison has visited Philadelphia to consult with a specialist, Dr. William Meyers. Electing surgery could likely put Allison under consideration for injured reserve as the recovery is six to eight weeks.

–Bruce Arians got his start as an NFL coordinator in Cleveland. And if he were to ever return to an NFL sideline, there’s only one job he would take: head coach of the Browns.

Arians was in Cleveland on Sunday, working in the CBS booth for the Browns’ game against the Kansas City Chiefs. “Cleveland is the only job I would consider,” he said during a break, according to a report Monday by the Canton Repository.

–Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden delivered a triple dose of devastating news, confirming the club’s worst fears — and then some.

At his weekly news conference, Gruden informed the media that guards Brandon Scherff (torn pectoral) and Shawn Lauvao (torn ACL) and with wide receiver Paul Richardson Jr. (AC joint) all will undergo season-ending surgery.

All three players sustained their injuries Sunday during a 38-14 home loss to the Atlanta Falcons.

–Pittsburgh Steelers guard David DeCastro doesn’t care whether All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell decides to end his season-long holdout.

“Why waste more energy on it? The first week, we were shocked by (the holdout). At this point, what are you gonna do? Sit here and drive at it and beg him to come back? Obviously, that’s not how it works,” DeCastro told The MMQB following Pittsburgh’s 23-16 victory against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.

Bell, who is seeking a long-term deal, was not in the building Monday morning for team meetings and has sacrificed more than $7.7 million in salary this season.

–Former NFL running back Chris Johnson announced his retirement. He last played during the 2017 season.

“After a great deal of thought and consideration, I have decided to close this chapter of my life and look forward to the new possibilities that have been afforded to me,” he wrote in a statement issued by his management company.

Johnson spent his first six seasons in the league with the Tennessee Titans, highlighted by a stellar 2009 season: 2,006 rushing yards and 2,509 yards from scrimmage.

–Field Level Media

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McVay: Rams will use their first loss as motivational fuel

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) — The Los Angeles Rams didn't really aspire to perfection, and they didn't appear to be overly crushed when their unbeaten start to the season ended in New Orleans.

The Rams definitely dream of the Super Bowl, and coach Sean McVay believes their quest will get a major boost

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) — The Los Angeles Rams didn’t really aspire to perfection, and they didn’t appear to be overly crushed when their unbeaten start to the season ended in New Orleans.

The Rams definitely dream of the Super Bowl, and coach Sean McVay believes their quest will get a major boost from the minor setback of Sunday’s 45-35 loss to the powerhouse Saints.

“The sense we got from our players is that if anything, it creates an added sense of urgency,” McVay said Monday night at the team’s training complex. “You know, that feeling in your gut where you wake up and you’re just sick because you didn’t get the result that you wanted is something that you can’t create unless you do end up losing. We try to be consistent whether you win or lose, but there is something that is created just based on not getting the result that you wanted.”

The Rams are 8-1 with a new reason to work hard after they failed for the first time in their remarkable season. Los Angeles’ defense largely couldn’t slow down Drew Brees and Alvin Kamara, while the Rams’ high-octane offense couldn’t quite keep up on the scoreboard despite rallying from a 21-point deficit to tie it.

Afterward, several Rams players expressed a backhanded relief that the specter of a perfect season no longer hangs over the head of a franchise that is less than two years removed from a 4-12 finish. Defensive lineman Michael Brockers said LA’s first loss “might be a blessing in disguise.”

And McVay left the Superdome with plenty of teachable moments on video.

Many of those lowlights occurred while the Rams fell behind 35-14 late in the first half. Those 35 points are the most allowed in a half by the Rams defense since 2008 — and that’s saying something, since 2008 was the second of 10 consecutive losing seasons for this club.

McVay praised cornerback Marcus Peters for taking responsibility for his mistakes in coverage, but the coach also realizes the blame must be shared across the roster after giving up a season-worst 487 yards.

“I think with the expectations that our defense has, and that we have for them, they would expect to be better,” McVay said. “But there’s a lot of credit that needs to go to the Saints. They’re one of the top offenses in the league for a reason. … It’s a great tape for us to be able to look at, figure out what we can do as a defensive group to be able to respond the right way (and) use it as a chance to learn from it.”

The Rams’ 8-0 start was the franchise’s best since 1969, and one loss hasn’t stopped their historic turnaround. This franchise has won more than eight games just once in the previous 14 seasons — and that was last season, when McVay led the Rams to a seven-game improvement from 2016 with an 11-5 regular-season record.

After the loss in New Orleans, several Rams also noted they have never lost back-to-back regular-season games under McVay. A visit from the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday is a chance for the Rams to keep that standard intact while essentially ending the NFC West race before mid-November.

“Can’t wait to get back out and get another opportunity to compete and try to erase this feeling that you do have,” McVay said. “I feel like our building shares that same feeling. We’re excited about getting to work.”

NOTES: The Rams added rookie OLB Ogbo Okoronkwo to their active roster and waived linebacker Trevon Young. Okoronkwo had foot surgery and went on the physically unable to perform list before training camp, which meant Los Angeles had to decide Monday whether to activate the fifth-round pick or put him on injured reserve. McVay hasn’t decided how much Okoronkwo will play this season, but the coach was “intrigued” by what he saw in practice over the last three weeks. “He’s done some things that we felt like were positive, were encouraging,” McVay said. … The Rams have no new injuries from their trip, McVay said. LB Matt Longacre was evaluated for a concussion during the game in New Orleans, but he returned to action.

___

More AP NFL: www.apnews.com/NFL and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

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Seahawks sit at .500 after step back from winning formula

RENTON, Wash. (AP) — The Seattle Seahawks figured out just how easy it is to get off track.

After successfully resetting its roster and figuring out a style and method for winning in the first half of the season, Seattle took a major step backward in a loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. The Seahawks

RENTON, Wash. (AP) — The Seattle Seahawks figured out just how easy it is to get off track.

After successfully resetting its roster and figuring out a style and method for winning in the first half of the season, Seattle took a major step backward in a loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. The Seahawks had built a winning formula on running the ball, avoiding mistakes on offense and stopping the run on defense. Now, Seattle has to prove it can beat a quality opponent when the script doesn’t play out perfectly.

“We’ve found ourselves in most of the games we didn’t win right there at the end, so close to getting it done,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “I’m hoping the second half of the season will allow us to finish those games and get the wins that we want and turn this season into a really positive year for us.”

The 25-17 loss to the Chargers revealed how quickly the Seahawks can lose the style of play that led them to win four of the previous five games. They sit at 4-4, facing a challenging three-game stretch that starts this week with the Los Angeles Rams.

“I’ve never looked at this like it’s a rebuilding year. (GM) John (Schneider) and I didn’t look at this like that. We saw the opportunities to fill the spots and we thought we could keep moving and going,” Carroll said. “There’s always going to be some growing time and we saw that the first two weeks of the season. As far as expectations, our expectations are higher and that’s why we’re disappointed that we’re not in better shape than we are right now.”

Seattle still had a chance to force overtime against the Chargers until Russell Wilson’s pass for David Moore at the back of the end zone was tipped slightly and fell incomplete on the final play.

The Seahawks issues started long before that pass hit the turf.

Seattle did not stop the run, giving up 7.3 yards per carry to the Chargers and letting Melvin Gordon run for 113 yards and a touchdown.

It did not avoid offensive mistakes. Wilson was sacked four times, with several of those his fault for not getting the ball out or trusting the protection. He also made a critical turnover, throwing an interception that was returned 42 yards for a touchdown by Desmond King in the fourth quarter.

And Seattle’s own run game was spotty. The Seahawks finished with 154 yards rushing, but starter Chris Carson didn’t play the final 2 ½ quarters due to a lingering hip injury. After scoring a touchdown on their opening possession, the Seahawks got just three points out of the next nine drives.

The end result was too much reliance on Wilson for a fourth-quarter rally. While Wilson nearly pulled it off, the Seahawks fell to 5-6 at home over the past two seasons and have lost the last five games when Wilson has attempted 30 or more passes dating to last season.

Carroll was uncertain the status of Carson or strong safety Bradley McDougald for Sunday’s game against the NFC West-leading Rams. Carroll said Carson’s hip was a lingering problem coming out of last week’s victory over Detroit, and a light week of practice wasn’t enough for Carson to handle the load early against the Chargers. Carson had just eight carries, leaving Mike Davis as the primary back. Davis had 15 carries for 62 yards.

McDougald didn’t play in the second half with a knee injury that Carroll said was “pretty sore” on Monday. McDougald will likely be a very limited participant in practice this week, but Carroll said he was pleased with the performance of backup Delano Hill stepping in for McDougald, who has been one of Seattle’s top defensive players this season.

NOTES: Carroll said G D.J. Fluker (calf) appeared to be OK. Fluker didn’t play late in the game due to the injury and was replaced by C Joey Hunt playing out of position. … Carroll declined to comment on any speculation about a reunion with DE/LB Bruce Irvin, who was released by Oakland. Irvin spent his first four seasons in Seattle and the Seahawks could use a boost in the pass rush. “I’d prefer not to comment on that right now if you don’t mind. Let’s wait and see what happens,” Carroll said.

___

More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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Elway: Broncos sticking with Joseph as head coach

Elway: Broncos sticking with Joseph as head coach

Another loss by the Denver Broncos hasn't cost head coach Vance Joseph his job. General manager John Elway said on a Denver radio station on Monday, "At this point, we're going to stay the course" with Joseph.

"I think there's enough good

Elway: Broncos sticking with Joseph as head coach

Another loss by the Denver Broncos hasn’t cost head coach Vance Joseph his job. General manager John Elway said on a Denver radio station on Monday, “At this point, we’re going to stay the course” with Joseph.

“I think there’s enough good things that are going on as far as us and the way that we’re playing,” Elway added on Orange & Blue 760, a Broncos broadcast partner. “I’m much more encouraged this year than I was last year.”

The 3-6 Broncos, who lost 19-17 to the Houston Texans on Sunday when kicker Brandon McManus missed a 51-yard field goal attempt as time expired, have gone 8-17 during Joseph’s tenure, which included a 5-11 mark in 2017, his first season as head coach. Denver has fared better against tougher competition – including the Los Angeles Rams and twice against the Kansas City Chiefs — in recent weeks, losing four games by seven or fewer points.

“The frustrating part for everybody … we haven’t made the plays we need to get over the hump,” Elway said. “Every game in this league is always competitive, and the teams that win are teams that are able to do it consistently. We have not been able to do it.

“I like the heartbeat of this team, the fact they’re competitors and they continue to work hard. As you know, they’re very, very frustrated because they’ve put in a lot of hard work and they’re not getting paid back for all the work they put in with the win.”

With fans and the media putting Joseph firmly on the hot set, how is he dealing with the pressure as the Broncos head into a bye week before facing the 6-2 Chargers in Los Angeles in Week 11?

“My focus is our team and getting our team to play weekly. … My future – that’s not my concern,” Joseph told reporters at a Monday press conference. It’s about the players and coaches and winning football games.”

Joseph was criticized for mismanaging his team — and the game clock — at the end of the first half and down the stretch Sunday in Denver.

As the clock clicked down in the second quarter and the Broncos trailed 13-10, Joseph decided to let McManus attempt a 62-yard field goal – with 22 seconds remaining.

After the kick went wide right, the Texans needed only two plays to move into position for a 46-yard field goal and a 16-10 lead.

“That’s totally on me; I was chasing points,” Joseph said Monday.

The Broncos’ offense also had time on its side in the game’s final minute to set up McManus again. A 5-yard completion to tight end Jeff Heuerman moved them to the Texans’ 32-yard line with about 40 seconds and a timeout left, but they gave up a yard — and precious seconds — when running back Phillip Lindsay was dropped for a loss on the next play.

The Broncos let the clock wind down before calling a timeout with three seconds left. That attempt went wide right, too.

“(After Heuerman’s catch), yardage-wise, we were good,” Joseph said. “Obviously, with (Houston’s) pass rush, I wasn’t going to drop back again and allow (Jadeveon) Clowney and (Whitney) Mercilus and (J.J.) Watt to hit the quarterback and (get) the ball on the turf and we lose the game. If they make a play, now we’re all idiots, right?

“My thought process was, ‘We have the yardage we need, let’s try and pop a run and get 5 or 6 more yards, kick the field goal and win the game.’ But I wasn’t going to expose our quarterback (Case Keenum) and our O-line to that pass rush one more time and now if they make a play, now we’re all idiots, right?

“It’s easy Monday morning to say that wasn’t right. But I’m very comfortable with that.”

–Field Level Media

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Texans DE Watt recovers dominating form

Texans DE Watt recovers dominating form

Houston Texans: Star defensive end J.J. Watt is tied for third in the NFL with nine sacks during a terrific comeback season. Watt played just eight total games the previous two campaigns due to season-ending injuries before bouncing back in a big way. "Very impressed," Houston coach

Texans DE Watt recovers dominating form

Houston Texans: Star defensive end J.J. Watt is tied for third in the NFL with nine sacks during a terrific comeback season. Watt played just eight total games the previous two campaigns due to season-ending injuries before bouncing back in a big way. “Very impressed,” Houston coach Bill O’Brien said during a press conference. I know he probably doesn’t want to talk about it too much, but I’ve never seen anything like it. To come back from what he’s been able to come back from, some really serious injuries, and to be able to play at the level that he’s playing at, it just says all you need to know about him and how much he cares about the team and how much he wants to help this organization win.”

Indianapolis Colts: Running back Marlon Mack didn’t participate in practice Monday after the team returned from a bye. Mack has been nursing an ankle injury but is coming off back-to-back big rushing performances — 126 yards against the Buffalo Bills on Oct. 21 and 132 vs. the Oakland Raiders the following week. Wednesday will be a telling day per how healthy Mack is as the team prepares for a Sunday game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. However, Robert Turbin (shoulder) appears ready to return after missing the past two games. Turbin has just four carries (all in one game) for 10 yards as he missed the first four games while serving a suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Quarterback Blake Bortles was throwing Monday after having the bye week to rest his aching left shoulder. Bortles was injured in the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles on Oct. 28 when he took a hard hit to his non-throwing shoulder. Jaguars coach Doug Marrone observed Bortles’ throws and termed them normal. “Your eyes are just as good as mine,” Marrone told reporters. “You guys saw him out there throwing. It’s early in the week and we’ll just see how it goes. Your evaluation on how he looks will be the same as mine. I just saw he took the normal throws during practice.”

Tennessee Titans: The Titans played the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night.

–Field Level Media

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Seahawks may be forced to lean on rookie RB Penny

Seahawks may be forced to lean on rookie RB Penny

Arizona Cardinals: With Arizona coming off a bye week, head coach Steve Wilks spent part of his Monday news conference talking about the team's decision to release quarterback Sam Bradford on Saturday. "When you look at ... need, position-wise throughout the year, particularly

Seahawks may be forced to lean on rookie RB Penny

Arizona Cardinals: With Arizona coming off a bye week, head coach Steve Wilks spent part of his Monday news conference talking about the team’s decision to release quarterback Sam Bradford on Saturday. “When you look at … need, position-wise throughout the year, particularly this time with guys getting hurt, we did what we though was best for the team,” Wilks said. “We needed that position to be able to add quality depth at different positions on the team.” He then sang the praises of his former starter, who was benched for rookie Josh Rosen before Week 4. “No. 1 I’ll say Sam is an ultimate pro, the way he handled the situation. … He did everything he could to help mentor that (quarterback) room.” Bradford cleared waivers Monday and is a free agent.

Los Angeles Rams: At 8-1, the Rams are recuperating from a loss for the first time this season ahead of Week 10, when the Seahawks visit Los Angeles. “Our players continue to fight and battle, they don’t flinch they don’t blink,” McVay said. “Can’t wait to get back to work.” McVay said the Rams failed to limit the big plays until making a few critical stops in the second half. “We came in trying to get the win, expecting to get the win,” McVay said. “I know that everybody in that locker room is going to respond the right way. The motivation, the desire to be able to move forward in a positive way is something we challenge everybody in our building to be able to do. It’s a setback. We’re going to respond the right way.”

San Francisco 49ers: Without a day off since July 18, head coach Kyle Shanahan said he would do his best to not worry about football for a few days following the 34-3 win over the Oakland Raiders last Thursday. When the team returns after an off-day Tuesday, Shanahan is likely to be ready to share his decision at quarterback. “I don’t need to decide yet,” Shanahan said Friday before the four-day respite. He doesn’t speak to the media again until Thursday because of the off-kilter schedule ahead of a “Monday Night Football” game with the New York Giants. However, all signs point to Nick Mullens making his second start. C.J. Beathard (wrist) might not even be healthy enough to be considered. “I’d like the whole team in here, too, when I decide that,” Shanahan said.

Seattle Seahawks: With starting running back Chris Carson’s status for Sunday’s game in Los Angeles up in the air due to a hip injury, rookie first-round pick Rashaad Penny could be in line for a heavier workload against a stout Rams’ front in Week 10. “I think he’s a little tentative,” head coach Pete Carroll said of his rookie Monday in a radio interview with 710 ESPN in Seattle. “I just think he needs more turns and he’s going to be OK.” Penny had only four carries for 11 yards and three receptions for 13 yards on Sunday. Carson leads the team in carries (111) and rushing yards (497), and has two rushing touchdowns.

–Field Level Media

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Chargers may not be done changing kickers

Chargers may not be done changing kickers

Denver Broncos: Riding a 1-6 stretch following a 2-0 start, the Broncos are hitting the bye at the right time. The same can't be said about the season-ending broken leg suffered by center Matt Paradis. Speaking to the media, Denver head coach Vance Joseph explained the

Chargers may not be done changing kickers

Denver Broncos: Riding a 1-6 stretch following a 2-0 start, the Broncos are hitting the bye at the right time. The same can’t be said about the season-ending broken leg suffered by center Matt Paradis. Speaking to the media, Denver head coach Vance Joseph explained the loss of his center will now put much more on the plate of his quarterback, Case Keenum. “(Paradis is) like a coach on the field and you can’t replace that. … You won’t replace Matt’s football IQ or his play but we have to adjust.” As for his quarterback, Joseph said Keenum “has to identify the (linebackers) more, and the protection calls and adjustment go through Case — most of them go through Case now.”

Kansas City Chiefs: There isn’t much his team has done wrong through nine games, but coach Andy Reid does know one thing his 8-1 Chiefs must improve upon: their league-high 76 penalties. “You’ve got to keep disciplining yourself, whether it’s tight hands or whatever it might be,” Reid said at his news conference. But he also acknowledged that quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ scrambling can make linemen more susceptible to holding calls as defenders peel off blocks to chase Mahomes. And Reid said he isn’t going to try to teach his linemen to block differently. “I try to look at the things you can coach guys up on to try to make them better so it doesn’t happen again, but some of (the calls) are jump balls”

Los Angeles Chargers: His team is 6-2 and coming off a 25-17 win in Seattle, but Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn began his news conference talking about his club’s biggest problem: kicker. Earlier Monday, the Chargers cut Caleb Sturgis after he missed his only field-goal try and two point-after attempts on Sunday. “We feel like we gave him a fair shot and we stayed with him as long as we could,” Lynn said of Sturgis. “It just came down to performance.” Mike Badgley will replace Sturgis. “I’d like to give (Badgley) the keys to the car … but we’ve talked about bringing in another kicker maybe to kickoff.” The team has used six kickers since the beginning of last season. “We have to solve this problem,” Lynn said.

Oakland Raiders: Another day, another round of roster moves for the Silver and Black, as the team announced the signing of free-agent defensive ends Kony Ealy and Jacquies Smith on Monday. Two days earlier, the club released veteran defensive end Bruce Irvin. And, of course, before the season began, Oakland traded disgruntled All-Pro pass rusher Khalil Mack to Chicago. But don’t expect the players to get caught up in who’s here and who’s not. “Each week it seems like there’s something new we gotta get over — a new obstacle, a new adverse situation,” said 12-year veteran Frostee Rucker, himself in his first season as a Raider. “But that’s part of pro sports. … The key to our whole season is about next man up.”

–Field Level Media

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Seahawks may be forced to lean on rookie RB

Seahawks may be forced to lean on rookie RB

Seattle Seahawks: With starting running back Chris Carson's status for Sunday's game in Los Angeles up in the air due to a hip injury, rookie first-round pick Rashaad Penny could be in line for a heavier workload against a stout Rams' front in Week

Seahawks may be forced to lean on rookie RB

Seattle Seahawks: With starting running back Chris Carson’s status for Sunday’s game in Los Angeles up in the air due to a hip injury, rookie first-round pick Rashaad Penny could be in line for a heavier workload against a stout Rams’ front in Week 10. “I think he’s a little tentative,” head coach Pete Carroll said of his rookie Monday in a radio interview with 710 ESPN in Seattle. “I just think he needs more turns and he’s going to be OK.” Penny had only four carries for 11 yards and three receptions for 13 yards on Sunday. Carson leads the team in carries (111) and rushing yards (497), and has two rushing touchdowns.

Arizona Cardinals: With Arizona coming off a bye week, head coach Steve Wilks spent part of his Monday news conference talking about the team’s decision to release quarterback Sam Bradford on Saturday. “When you look at … need, position-wise throughout the year, particularly this time with guys getting hurt, we did what we though was best for the team,” Wilks said. “We needed that position to be able to add quality depth at different positions on the team.” He then sang the praises of his former starter, who was benched for rookie Josh Rosen before Week 4. “No. 1 I’ll say Sam is an ultimate pro, the way he handled the situation. … He did everything he could to help mentor that (quarterback) room.” Bradford cleared waivers Monday and is a free agent.

–Field Level Media

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Eagles WR Tate on trade: ‘It was like Christmas’

Eagles WR Tate on trade: 'It was like Christmas'

Dallas Cowboys: Cowboys Hall of Fame member Michael Irvin and ESPN's Stephen A. Smith will just have to agree to disagree about Dallas head coach Jason Garrett. A guest on the network's "First Take" on Monday, Irvin was asked his opinion about Garrett, who

Eagles WR Tate on trade: ‘It was like Christmas’

Dallas Cowboys: Cowboys Hall of Fame member Michael Irvin and ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith will just have to agree to disagree about Dallas head coach Jason Garrett. A guest on the network’s “First Take” on Monday, Irvin was asked his opinion about Garrett, who has compiled a 70-57 regular-season record and a 1-2 playoff record since becoming coach midway through the 2010 season. Irvin was clearly in Garrett’s corner, while Smith wasn’t. “You see, this is what I love because the NFL gives it to you every week. You get all these guys you consider great coaches. Just look at what Jon Gruden’s doing. He was supposed to come back and tear it up. You are dealing with a different group of guys, and coach Garrett knows how to deal with this group of guys…” Smith interrupted: “What evidence does Michael Irvin have that Jason Garrett knows what he is doing? What’s the evidence? Where’s the evidence? Where’s the evidence?”

New York Giants: Do the Giants have an interest in recently released quarterback Sam Bradford? According to an ESPN report, Bradford has history with Giants head coach Pat Shurmur, who was his offensive coordinator with both the St. Louis Rams and Philadelphia Eagles, and Bradford enjoyed his best years while working with Shurmur. The Arizona Cardinals released Bradford, whom they had signed to a one-year, $20 million contract over the offseason. He lost the job to rookie Josh Rosen in Week 4 of the season. For their part, the Giants are sticking by struggling Eli Manning, for now, and have not soured on rookie Kyle Lauletta, despite his arrest last week on a number of traffic-related charges plus resisting arrest.

Philadelphia Eagles: Wide receiver Golden Tate apparently already got his holiday gift when he was traded from Detroit to the Eagles. Monday was his first official day with the Eagles — he was traded Tuesday during the team’s bye week — and reporters lined up to ask him what he thought about the trade. His response was simple: “It was like Christmas.” Now 30, Tate had 44 catches and 517 yards with three touchdowns for the Lions, putting him on pace to surpass 1,000 yards receiving for the fourth time in his career.

Washington Redskins: Head coach Jay Gruden clearly was frustrated with some of the penalties called against his team Sunday in a 38-14 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, and he didn’t place all the blame on his team. The Redskins were flagged 10 times for 147 yards. After the game, Gruden questioned the legitimacy of some of the flags, according to the Washington Post. “It’s impossible. You might as well just give them the ball and give them the game. I have to check the tape to see what these penalties are all about. It’s very frustrating. We got a couple of token penalties (called on the Falcons) late. I have to look at the tape, and if they are legit, we have to get them corrected.” The Falcons were penalized seven times for 50 yards.

–Field Level Media

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McCoy: Bucs’ defense must improve

McCoy: Bucs' defense must improve

Atlanta Falcons: The Cleveland Browns are a franchise in disarray. They are also Atlanta's next opponent, and Falcons coach Dan Quinn is worried. "What I do know, from the little bit of studying that I've done, is the talent," Quinn said at a press conference. "And their ability,

McCoy: Bucs’ defense must improve

Atlanta Falcons: The Cleveland Browns are a franchise in disarray. They are also Atlanta’s next opponent, and Falcons coach Dan Quinn is worried. “What I do know, from the little bit of studying that I’ve done, is the talent,” Quinn said at a press conference. “And their ability, defensively, to create takeaways. If I’m not mistaken, I believe they’re the league leader in forcing turnovers. They’re somewhere in the neighborhood of 23, which is a big number for nine or 10 games. That part jumped off the tape for me.” Quinn was correct about the NFL-best takeaway number — Cleveland has 13 interceptions and 10 opponents’ fumbles recovered. The Falcons have just eight takeaways.

Carolina Panthers: It is a short week for Carolina with a game looming on Thursday against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Making matters more challenging is that the Steelers have won four consecutive games and that the contest is in Pittsburgh. “It’s tougher to do it on the road, for sure,” Carolina running back Christian McCaffrey said of playing games four days apart. “But our guys don’t blink. Our guys come to play wherever we are.” McCaffrey is coming off a solid all-around performance Sunday in a win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He rushed for 79 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries and also caught five passes for 78 yards.

New Orleans Saints: The club is flying high after knocking the Los Angeles Rams from the ranks of the undefeated on Sunday. The Saints have won seven straight games and are 7-1 at the halfway point of the schedule, but coach Sean Payton isn’t interested in doing a midseason progress review. “Nope. No halfway report cards or any of that. None of that,” Payton told reporters. “The point is, though, and it is a good point, there’s eight games left. In other words, there is a ton of football left. There are a ton of things we have to improve on and we need to improve on, or it is going to hurt us later. And I mention one of them right now — red-zone defense. That has to get better.”

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The defense has been a big problem all season, and it was again an issue Sunday in a 42-28 loss to the Panthers. Tampa Bay fell behind 35-7 in the second quarter en route to allowing 40 or more points for the third time this season. The team ranks last in the NFL in scoring defense (34.4 points per game). “It’s very frustrating,” longtime standout defensive tackle Gerald McCoy told reporters. “I could go into all the negatives, but I’m not a negative person so I will speak on the positive. The positive is, it’s only halfway through the season. We have a chance to turn this thing around. We’ve just got to come out and play, man. We’ve got to be more disciplined all of us, myself included — especially me — and we’ve just got to tackle better.”

–Field Level Media

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Former coach Arians: Browns ‘only job I would consider’

Former coach Arians: Browns 'only job I would consider'

Bruce Arians got his start as an NFL coordinator in Cleveland. And if he were to ever return to an NFL sideline, there's only one job he would take.

Head coach of the Browns.

Arians was in Cleveland

Former coach Arians: Browns ‘only job I would consider’

Bruce Arians got his start as an NFL coordinator in Cleveland. And if he were to ever return to an NFL sideline, there’s only one job he would take.

Head coach of the Browns.

Arians was in Cleveland on Sunday, working in the CBS booth for the Browns’ game against the Kansas City Chiefs. During a break in the game, he talked with The Canton Repository and the topic of a potential return to the NFL came up.

“Cleveland is the only job I would consider,” he said, according to a report Monday by The Repository’s Steve Doerschuk.

The Browns fired head coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley last week. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is serving as interim head coach and watched his team lose to the Chiefs 37-21 on Sunday.

Arians was the offensive coordinator with the Browns from 2001-03. He was fired after three seasons and took the same position with the Steelers. His success in Pittsburgh, and Indianapolis after that, led to him getting a head-coaching job in Arizona before the 2013 season.

In five seasons with the Cardinals, Arians was 49-30 and led his team to the playoffs twice, going 1-2 in the postseason.

During the interview Sunday, the 66-year-old Arians also talked up his boss in Indianapolis, Chuck Pagano. The two coached in Cleveland together and Pagano hired Arians to be his offensive coordinator when Pagano was hired to lead the Colts in 2012. Both coached through last season, Pagano getting fired after going 53-43 in six seasons in Indy and Arians retiring while still with the Cardinals.

The two also share a far more personal bond as Arians served as the Colts’ interim head coach for 12 games in 2012 while Pagano received treatment for leukemia.

–Field Level Media

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Patriots QB Brady reaches another career milestone

Patriots QB Brady reaches another career milestone

Buffalo Bills: Bills fans know their quarterback situation is bad. Maybe they didn't know it was quite this bad, though. The Bills' offense ranks last in the league in scoring at 10.7 points per game, and their three quarterbacks are the worst in the league,

Patriots QB Brady reaches another career milestone

Buffalo Bills: Bills fans know their quarterback situation is bad. Maybe they didn’t know it was quite this bad, though. The Bills’ offense ranks last in the league in scoring at 10.7 points per game, and their three quarterbacks are the worst in the league, too. This season, 44 quarterbacks have thrown at least 10 passes to receive a passer rating. In 44th place is current starter Nathan Peterman at 30.7. Injured quarterbacks Derek Anderson (56.0) and Josh Allen (61.8) are 43rd and 42nd, respectively. Throw out No. 1 on the list — that’s Nick Mullens, who has started one game for San Francisco — and the top passer is Drew Brees at 120.6. Peterman threw three more interceptions in a 41-9 loss to Chicago on Sunday, giving him 12 in eight career games, but his coach said he still thinks Peterman is an NFL-caliber quarterback. “I believe he is,” Sean McDermott said.

Miami Dolphins: Coach Adam Gase told reporters Monday that there’s been no change to the status of quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who has a capsule injury in his throwing shoulder and has missed four games. The Dolphins will start Brock Osweiler this weekend against Green Bay, then the Dolphins have a bye in Week 11. “I think we’re just trying to get to the point where he feels good throwing and then we’ll go from there,” Gase said. “It’ll be interesting to see what happens the next few days and then when we make a decision, whatever it is, what’s the bye week do for us? Those type of things.” Gase said he will talk to the team trainer to assess Tannehill’s progress and decide if they’re better off waiting until after the bye week to test his arm again. Osweiler is 2-2 in place of Tannehill.

New England Patriots: Add another superlative to quarterback Tom Brady’s career. He reached a milestone Sunday night in the team’s 31-17 defeat of the Green Bay Packers when he became the first NFL player to gain 80,000 total yards. That’s a combination of passing, rushing and receiving in both the regular season and postseason. He gained the record in the fourth quarter on a 17-yard pass to Phillip Dorset. In doing so, he passed Peyton Manning (79,978) on the total yards list. Brady, 41, now has 80,062 yards in his career.

New York Jets: To a couple of players, the Jets (3-6) have hit rock bottom. After a 13-6 loss to the Dolphins on Sunday — their third in a row — Jamal Adams and Robby Anderson released their frustration in the locker room. “We got to find an answer,” wide receiver Anderson said. “It’s got to change. It’s my third year. I understand the emphasis on restructuring, rebuild but I think everyone is tired of that. I think that’s an excuse. We got to challenge ourselves and improve and make it happen.” Adams, a second-year safety, agreed. “I’m sick of losing,” he said. “Honestly, I’m sick of losing. I’m fed up with losing. … It pisses me off every time. I’m not a loser. I want to get back on the winning track. We’ve lost three straight? Come on, man.”

–Field Level Media

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Packers WR Allison sidelined by core muscle injury

Packers WR Allison sidelined by core muscle injury

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Geronimo Allison could opt for season-ending surgery for a core muscle injury.

Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said Monday that Allison has visited Philadelphia to consult with specialist Dr. William Myers. Electing surgery could likely put Allison

Packers WR Allison sidelined by core muscle injury

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Geronimo Allison could opt for season-ending surgery for a core muscle injury.

Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said Monday that Allison has visited Philadelphia to consult with specialist Dr. William Myers. Electing surgery could likely put Allison under consideration for injured reserve as the recovery is 6-8 weeks.

“It’s a pretty big injury,” McCarthy said.

In recent years, Myers operated on Packers defensive backs Damarious Randall (traded to the Browns) and Quinten Rollins.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who caught three passes for 101 yards on Sunday night at New England, would likely replace Allison in the lineup.

–Field Level Media

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QB Bradford unclaimed, becomes free agent

QB Bradford unclaimed, becomes free agent

Quarterback Sam Bradford is back on the open market after he went unclaimed on waivers Monday.

Bradford, a former Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 draft pick with the then-St. Louis Rams in 2010, signed with the Arizona Cardinals to be the starting quarterback

QB Bradford unclaimed, becomes free agent

Quarterback Sam Bradford is back on the open market after he went unclaimed on waivers Monday.

Bradford, a former Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 draft pick with the then-St. Louis Rams in 2010, signed with the Arizona Cardinals to be the starting quarterback in March. He lost the job to rookie first-round pick Josh Rosen three games into the season.

ESPN reported several teams are likely to show interest in the 30-year-old Bradford now that they will not assume the contract he signed with Arizona having cleared waivers.

Bradford received a $10 million signing bonus. He earned $2.5 million in base salary and $1 million in playing-time bonuses for a total of $13.5 million in 2018.

Bradford spent five years in St. Louis, one year with the Philadelphia Eagles and two years with the Minnesota Vikings before joining Arizona.

In 83 career starts, Bradford’s teams have posted a record of 34-48-1. He has passed for 19,449 yards, 103 touchdowns and 61 interceptions.

Bradford was last active in Week 4, and his release saves the Cardinals more than $1.5 million. He completed 62.5 percent of his passes for 400 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions before his benching in Week 3.

–Field Level Media

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Packers struggling at 3-4-1 at halfway mark

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Every year, Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy nips any playoff talk in the bud by saying it's not a topic of conversation until the team wins 10 games.

The Packers hit the season's midpoint with a 3-4-1 record, meaning there is little margin for error after back-to-back

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Every year, Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy nips any playoff talk in the bud by saying it’s not a topic of conversation until the team wins 10 games.

The Packers hit the season’s midpoint with a 3-4-1 record, meaning there is little margin for error after back-to-back losses to two of the NFL’s powerhouses.

To reach double-digits in victories, the Packers will have to win seven of their final eight games. That quest begins with a return home to face the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.

“We’re focused on winning No. 4. That’s all we’re talking about right now,” McCarthy said on Monday, a day after a 31-17 loss to the New England Patriots.

“We improved as a football team the last two weeks, but you have to play your best football coming down the stretch. We’re not playing to the level we need to play in the fourth quarter.”

In the final seven minutes of last week’s 29-27 loss at the Los Angeles Rams, the Packers failed to extend a 27-26 lead, had a bad punt, gave up the go-ahead field goal and fumbled the ensuing kickoff.

On the first play of the fourth quarter against the Patriots, the Packers were driving into scoring position when running back Aaron Jones fumbled.

The Patriots used a pass from receiver Julian Edelman to running back James White to set up the go-ahead touchdown, forced the Packers to punt, then added an insurance touchdown.

Not only did the Packers lose the game, but they lost ground in the NFC North to Chicago (5-3), which routed Buffalo for its second consecutive win, and Minnesota (5-3-1), which beat Detroit for its fourth win in five games.

After hosting Miami (5-4), Green Bay goes back on the road to face Seattle (4-4) and Minnesota.

“The games in November are really where teams historically start to separate one way or the other,” McCarthy said. “Our focus is really on our self-scout and things we’ve been working on. The last two weeks, we’re not finishing games.”

The problems run across all three phases. Defensively, the Packers have failed to get a takeaway the past two weeks.

On special teams, there was Ty Montgomery’s fumble on the kickoff return against the Rams and two penalties against the Patriots.

On offense, Green Bay has run a total of 22 plays in the fourth quarter the past two weeks. Against the Patriots, the fourth quarter started with a fumble, continued with a three-and-out and ended with a fourth-down failure.

“We’re not hitting on all cylinders,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “We’re hurting ourselves with negative-yardage plays and missed throws and turnovers at the wrong time and not being on the same page too many times, whether I’m missing a throw or we’re not in the spot I think we’re going to be at, it’s happening in the worst times. When we have to play our best in those crunch times, we haven’t been playing our best.”

To get on track, the Packers are going to have to play through some injuries. Right tackle Bryan Bulaga (knee), safety Kentrell Brice (knee), cornerback Kevin King (hamstring) and linebacker Blake Martinez (ankle) were knocked out of the game by injuries.

Martinez, who was injured when he stepped on the ankle of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, returned for the final couple of series.

“I pride myself on being a tough guy and I didn’t want to leave my team,” Martinez said.

“I knew if I could run straight and do certain things, I could go out there and finish the game.”

According to McCarthy, King will be “hard pressed” to be ready to face the Dolphins. Bulaga, who’s suffered major injuries to both knees, avoided a significant injury and could be back for Sunday. Receiver Geronimo Allison might need surgery after suffering a groin injury at Thursday’s practice.

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Lions fall to bottom of NFC North after loss to Vikings

ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) — The Detroit Lions have fallen into last place in the NFC North and there are signs they may have a hard time getting back into the division race.

When Lions coach Matt Patricia met with reporters on Monday, he didn't wait for their questions on his team's 24-9

ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) — The Detroit Lions have fallen into last place in the NFC North and there are signs they may have a hard time getting back into the division race.

When Lions coach Matt Patricia met with reporters on Monday, he didn’t wait for their questions on his team’s 24-9 loss to division rival Minnesota.

“There’s a lot of corrections to be made, a lot of things we obviously have got to do better,” Patricia said in his opening remarks. “There were some good things on the tape, but just way too many bad things that overshadowed it.”

Those good moments would have certainly been condensed to tiny snippets. The bad ones were splattered all over the game tape.

The Vikings (5-3-1) limited Detroit to a season-low 209 yards as the Lions (3-5) lost their second straight. Minnesota’s defense sacked the Lions’ Matthew Stafford a franchise-record 10 times.

“I am embarrassed,” Lions center Graham Glasgow said. “It was a bad day for us, and our team. We need learn from this.”

Detroit was held to single digits in points for the first time since a 17-6 loss to the New York Giants on Dec. 18, 2016. The Lions put together just two drives of more than 30 yards and were 4 for 15 on third downs.

“What happens is as the season goes on and you have some success in certain areas, teams are going to gear up to try and stop those things that you do, and you’re going to have to do it differently,” Patricia said. “We’ve got to be able to handle those changes better than what we’re doing right now.”

And on the other side, the Lions have allowed a run play of 40 or more yards in five games this season.

“We’ve had weeks where we feel we didn’t necessarily perform on the one day of the week where we have to perform well,” Patricia said.

As he readies his team for another division road game Sunday at against the NFC North-leading Chicago Bears (5-3), Patricia is convinced that player for player, his team matches up equally with every other team in the division.

“I think we have a lot of good players on this team, I really do,” Patricia said.

Patricia said talent isn’t the issue bringing down his team.

“I would say with both offensive and defensive lines, the point of emphasis is fundamentals,” Patricia said. “Some of our fundamentals got out of whack. Some of our techniques weren’t necessarily where it needs to be on a consistent basis.

“Fundamentals and execution is what’s holding us back now. That’s where we’ve got to start.”

The problem he faces is that with the majority of practice time each week dedicated to game-planning, Patricia will be hard-pressed to find time to go back to basics with his team.

After a 1-3 start, the Lions won two straight and looked to have righted their season. But these past two losses have them struggling again.

“As a team, we need to get better,” Lions receiver Marvin Jones said. “It is definitely disappointing, but at the same time, we just have to go out there and execute. We cannot shoot ourselves in the foot. I think we definitely did that and we just have to get better.”

Lions offensive lineman Frank Ragnow perhaps summed up the state of the team as they reached the midseason point.

“If you’re not taking a step forward in this league, then you’re taking a step back,” Ragnow said.

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Back on track: RB Duke Johnson re-emerges for Browns in loss

BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Duke Johnson wore a backpack on Monday that seemed symbolic.

The Browns finally asked him to carry a larger load.

Of the handful of positives to emerge from Sunday's 37-21 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, capping another stormy week of change and uncertainty in Cleveland, Johnson's two-touchdown performance

BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Duke Johnson wore a backpack on Monday that seemed symbolic.

The Browns finally asked him to carry a larger load.

Of the handful of positives to emerge from Sunday’s 37-21 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, capping another stormy week of change and uncertainty in Cleveland, Johnson’s two-touchdown performance was at the top of the list.

After being overlooked — some would argue misused — for much of the season, Johnson was the primary focus of the Browns’ offensive game plan. He finished with nine catches for 78 yards, added one rush for eight and drew extra attention from Kansas City’s defense, which allowed his teammates to make plays.

Johnson was hesitant to say it, but Cleveland’s change at offensive coordinator, with running backs coach Freddie Kitchens replacing the fired Todd Haley, made a difference.

“Um,” Johnson said sheepishly when asked if the Kitchens-for-Haley swap was the reason for his rise in production. “I guess you could look at it that way. Again, it’s the same plays we’ve been calling, the same offense. There’s just certain things that coach Kitchens likes better than coach Haley did.”

Before Sunday, Johnson’s season-high was four catches and there were times when he wasn’t on the field at all. What made that even more perplexing was that Johnson led the Browns (2-6-1) with 74 catches for 693 yards last season and developed into one of the NFL’s best dual-threat backs.

But with Haley concerned about getting touches for running backs Nick Chubb and Carlos Hyde, who was recently traded to Jacksonville, Johnson became the odd-man out.

A proven playmaker not getting a chance to make plays.

Johnson was targeted by rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield against the Chiefs, and he hopes to get even more opportunities as the season progresses.

“I think it is possible,” Johnson said. “Just going out there and showing what I’m capable of doing, especially showing the reason why I’m here. It was a great showing for myself, but not so much for the team and we’re about team here. We should have gotten the win, that’s most important.”

Following his first game since being chosen Hue Jackson’s interim replacement, defensive coordinator/head coach Gregg Williams said Johnson’s breakout was caused by a combination of things, including Kitchens and Mayfield working together for the first time.

“Freddie did a good job and Baker, too,” Williams said. “Baker’s understanding of that from the read process — when a play is called as a quarterback, you don’t automatically know it is going to go to that person. There is a read definition that takes you to that person, but from Baker and Freddie, they did a good job with that.

“It was good to see that with Duke. Just like what we have talked about with other people, I think he can do more and he will. He had a good fire about him, and he will continue to improve too. We need him to improve.”

Getting Johnson more involved didn’t result in a win for the Browns, but it was a small step toward improvement.

Cleveland matched a season-low with only four penalties, and Williams, who decided early on he was going to be aggressive, liked that his offense converted three times on fourth down.

The Browns couldn’t keep up with Kansas City’s high-speed, high-scoring offense, but Johnson was impressed with the team’s character in the aftermath of Jackson and Haley’s firings.

“I never saw them blink,” he said. “One, two, scores down or whatever, we were always in a position to continue to fight. I never saw them blink. That is good. That is what we are supposed to do as professionals. Young team, old team, I do not care — that was good. There was a lot of positive that way. Defensively, we have to play better.”

Another bright spot was left tackle Greg Robinson. The 2014 No. 2 overall pick made his first start for Cleveland filling in for Desmond Harrison, who was out with an unspecified illness. Robinson not only protected Mayfield’s blind side, but handled all his other duties.

“He played well, didn’t he?” said Williams, who was on the Rams’ staff when they selected Williams. “I’ve seen him develop as a young guy. I’ve seen him have his battles, ups and downs, and it’s been good.”

Following the game, Mayfield singled out Robinson, who was grateful for the QB’s praise.

“It felt good to just get out there with the boys, taking it to the game field rather than just practicing,” said Robinson, signed by the Browns in June. “It was encouraging and I’m really happy that he spoke well about me.”

NOTES: Williams did not have updates on rookie CB Denzel Ward (hip), CB E.J. Gaines (concussion) or LB Christian Kirksey (hamstring), all injured Sunday. Williams reiterated his decision to sit DB Damarious Randall (groin) was so he can be healthy for multiple games and not just one.

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Chargers looking to continue fast start over next 3 weeks

COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) — The Los Angeles Chargers have won five straight to improve to 6-2 at midseason for the first time in 12 years. With the next three games against teams with losing records, the one thing coach Anthony Lynn isn't worried about is complacency.

"This group has an understanding that

COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) — The Los Angeles Chargers have won five straight to improve to 6-2 at midseason for the first time in 12 years. With the next three games against teams with losing records, the one thing coach Anthony Lynn isn’t worried about is complacency.

“This group has an understanding that we start over every week. We refocus and regroup,” Lynn said Monday. “We’ll go back to work on Wednesday like we hadn’t done anything. I like this group’s ability to stay in the present.”

The Chargers’ next three opponents have a combined record of 6-19. Los Angeles travels to Oakland (1-7) on Sunday before hosting Denver (3-6) and Arizona (2-6). After that, the slate gets more challenging with a road game against Pittsburgh, hosting Cincinnati and a Thursday night game at Kansas City, who beat the Chargers in Week 1.

History, though, bodes well for teams that get off to fast starts. Of the 124 teams that started 6-2 since the current postseason format started in 1990, only 21 haven’t made the playoffs.

“We have put ourselves in good position to maybe make the tournament at the end of the season but we still have to finish,” Lynn said.

Lynn’s squad continues to have momentum on both sides of the ball. Running back Melvin Gordon has rushed for 100 yards in three of his last four games with five touchdowns while wide receiver Tyrell Williams has four TDs in the past three games.

On defense, the Chargers have 14 sacks in their past four games despite defensive end Joey Bosa not playing a down yet this season due to a foot injury. The unit has also come up big in the last two games as it denied Tennessee from making a game-winning, two-point conversion and forced a Russell Wilson incompletion in the end zone on the final play at Seattle.

Defensive end Isaac Rochelle said those plays can be frustrating late in games, but something they need to go through.

“It is crucial for our defense and our team to be in those situations and deal with it now, especially when you come out with the win,” he said. “It says a lot about us. Our defense held up two weeks in a row.”

About the only thing that hasn’t gone well is the kicking game. The Chargers released Caleb Sturgis on Monday after he missed two extra points and a field goal against Seattle. The six-year veteran— who was 9 of 15 this season on extra points and 9 of 13 on field goals — is the first kicker since the Raiders’ Jim Breech in 1979 to miss a PAT and field goal in three straight games.

“We feel like we gave him a fair shot, stayed with him as long as we could and it came down to performance,” Lynn said.

Michael Badgley has been promoted from the practice squad. He made all three of his field goals and seven extra points in two games when Sturgis could not play due to a quadriceps injury. The Chargers have been the Bermuda Triangle for kickers as Badgley is the team’s sixth placekicker since the start of last season.

Los Angeles lost its first four games to start last season but is 15-5 since, which is the third-best mark in the AFC (New England is 18-3 and Pittsburgh is 15-4-1). Williams said the emphasis since the beginning of the season has been on getting out to a fast start but now they have to sustain it.

“Going to another tough place and getting a win just keeps adding and building on how we play,” he said.

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NFL sack leader Danielle Hunter ‘just lets it rip’ for Vikes

EAGAN, Minn. (AP) — The physical attributes Danielle Hunter has used to amass his league-leading total of 11½ sacks this season are so ideal that some of his Minnesota Vikings teammates have taken to calling him "Create-A-Player," the feature on Madden NFL that allows gamers to concoct the seemingly perfect computerized prospect.

Hunter's

EAGAN, Minn. (AP) — The physical attributes Danielle Hunter has used to amass his league-leading total of 11½ sacks this season are so ideal that some of his Minnesota Vikings teammates have taken to calling him “Create-A-Player,” the feature on Madden NFL that allows gamers to concoct the seemingly perfect computerized prospect.

Hunter’s 6-foot-5, 252-pound, muscle-bound frame and 4.57-second 40-yard dash time that led all defensive linemen at the combine in his draft year would already be a handful for opposing offenses, but the strides he’s made over four seasons on the mental side of the game have helped turn him into one of the league’s best defensive ends with just one week elapsed past his 24th birthday.

Matthew Stafford was the latest quarterback with a too-close look at Hunter’s dominance, when his 3½ sacks and fumble return for a touchdown fueled a 24-9 victory for the Vikings on Sunday over the Detroit Lions.

“He’s improved on just being reactive,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. “A lot of young defensive linemen, especially because we harp on stopping the run, they’re nervous about, ‘Hey, I’m going to take a chance here, because I think this is a play-action pass’ or something like that. The thing I notice about Danielle, he just lets it rip now, and that’s what makes him good.”

The Jamaica-born Hunter, who settled in the Houston area with his family at age 8, was drafted by the Vikings in the third round out of LSU in 2015 after he ended an unheralded college career by skipping his final season of eligibility.

His length, speed and strength made him an obvious pro prospect , but there were league-wide concerns about his technique inconsistencies and tendency to let overthinking slow down his production. He had only 4½ sacks over three years with the Tigers.

The Vikings, though, relied on analytics to peg Hunter as a potential star with the right coaching and scheme. They saw a note-taking and self-motivated player who they wouldn’t have to worry about doing his part.

Still six months shy of his 21st birthday when he was drafted, Hunter had plenty of time to grow. In 2016, he led all defensive ends in the NFL with 12½ sacks and finished third overall.

Last season, he overtook Brian Robison as the full-time starter opposite Everson Griffen. He signed a five-year contract extension this summer worth as much as $72 million with $40 million in guaranteed money and $15 million up front.

With 37 sacks in 55 games, Hunter has fast climbed the all-time Vikings lists. With just three more sacks over Minnesota’s last seven games, he’ll have the second-most in a player’s first four seasons with the team behind Jared Allen.

Hunter is tied with Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald for the league lead with 13 tackles for loss and tied for eighth in the NFL with 15 quarterback hits. He had at least one sack in each of the five games Griffen missed earlier.

“It’s not me alone. I’ve got good teammates, a good defensive line again,” Hunter said after the Vikings sacked Stafford a franchise-record 10 times . “We go out there, and we work together as a team.”

The Vikings (5-3-1) eagerly entered their bye week with their well-decorated defense back on track following a couple of uncharacteristically soft performances over the first half of the schedule.

“We had things that we had to fix. We just learned from what we had done, and then we went out there and just went to execute them,” Hunter said. “Just doing our jobs. Not trying to do selfish things out there.”

That’s the foundation of Zimmer’s system, a disciplined approach to honoring the run, staying in the right pass-rush lanes and trusting nearby teammates to handle their responsibilities. This four-down-linemen scheme, though predicated on an ability to pressure the quarterback from all points, is not designed to produce high individual sack totals. Every once in a while, though, an in-the-zone performance such as the one Hunter had on Sunday comes around.

“Sometimes you go out there,” Hunter said, “you just know you’re about to beat this guy.”

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Steelers rolling as Bell hints possible return

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Le'Veon Bell might be ready to head back to work. The Pittsburgh Steelers don't exactly look like they need him.

The star running back tweeted "Farewell Miami" on Monday, possibly indicating the end of his months-long standoff with the club. Bell hasn't been inside the Pittsburgh locker room since last

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Le’Veon Bell might be ready to head back to work. The Pittsburgh Steelers don’t exactly look like they need him.

The star running back tweeted “Farewell Miami” on Monday, possibly indicating the end of his months-long standoff with the club. Bell hasn’t been inside the Pittsburgh locker room since last January, opting to stay away rather than sign his one-year franchise tender. The two-time All-Pro has sacrificed half of the $14.4 million he’s due this season but needs to report by Nov. 13 to make sure he accrues enough service time to reach free agency in March.

Bell’s extended absence initially created a furor inside the locker room. Now, it seems almost like an afterthought. The Steelers (5-2-1) have ripped off four straight victories heading into Thursday night’s visit from Carolina (6-2), relying heavily on James Conner — Bell’s replacement — to surge into the lead in the AFC North.

Conner topped 100 yards rushing for a fourth straight week during a 23-16 victory over Baltimore on Sunday, and caught his first career touchdown pass when he took a short flip from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and bulled past Baltimore safety Eric Weddle at the pylon.

“He’s showing that no challenge is too big for him, against the No. 1 defense or whoever it might be,” Steelers left tackle Alejandro Villanueva said of Conner. “You know when you’re so close to him, and he lowers his shoulder, and you see him get a couple yards, it’s extremely motivating.”

Conner is second in the league in all-purpose yards and touches behind Los Angeles Rams standout Todd Gurley and tied for fourth in total touchdowns. The second-year back hardly seems bothered by the heavy workload, saying he’s built for it. So does his coach.

“I agree with James,” Mike Tomlin said Monday when asked about Conner’s personal assessment.

Tomlin smiled as he answered, mirroring the considerably lighter mood around his team these days. The problems that plagued the Steelers during September have vanished, though Tomlin is reticent to point to any one area where his team has improved.

“I’m not trying to look for specific areas, I just try to challenge these guys to get better every day,” Tomlin said. “That’s what we’re focused on. I think that if we do that daily that will give us a chance to produce consistent performances that are on the rise. Not only in the second quarter (of the season) but as we continue through this journey.”

It’s a pattern that’s become well established during Tomlin’s 12 years on the job. The Steelers have been traditionally slow starters under his watch, then get it together as the days grow shorter.

Pittsburgh hasn’t allowed more than 21 points during its four-game run and the secondary that was torched regularly in the opening month has settled in. Coty Sensabaugh has taken over for Artie Burns at the cornerback spot opposite Joe Haden and rookie safety Terrell Edmunds has filled in capably while veteran Morgan Burnett heals from a series of injuries that have slowed him since training camp.

The Steelers aren’t exactly overwhelming opponents but considering the firepower on offense, overwhelming teams isn’t required. Pittsburgh gave up at least 327 yards in each of its first four games. The Steelers haven’t surrendered more than 324 yards over their last four.

“Our defense is working in the right direction,” safety Sean Davis said. “We held the Ravens to 16 points … and I feel like we’re putting together winning performances. As long as the defense continues to do that, and with our offense playing the way they’re playing, we’re just going to continue riding the roller coaster. Our trajectory is high.”

Considerably higher than it appeared while getting repeatedly torched during the opening month. Yet the job is still only halfway done. The schedule remains daunting. If Bell — whenever he shows up — can return to at least some semblance of the form that made him an All-Pro last season, Pittsburgh could be a tough out. If he can’t, they like their chances anyway.

“It’s still going to be a long ride,” linebacker Bud Dupree said. “It was great that we got the win to get on top of the division again. We’ve got another game against the Bengals. We just need to be sure to dominate everywhere.”

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Cowboys DE Gregory out as Titans safety Vaccaro returns

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Dallas Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory is out against Tennessee after having arthroscopic knee surgery before the open week, and Titans safety Kenny Vaccaro is active after missing three games with a dislocated elbow.

Tennessee linebacker Will Compton won't play after being added to the injury report with a

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Dallas Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory is out against Tennessee after having arthroscopic knee surgery before the open week, and Titans safety Kenny Vaccaro is active after missing three games with a dislocated elbow.

Tennessee linebacker Will Compton won’t play after being added to the injury report with a hamstring issue Saturday.

Gregory will be joined on the sideline by defensive lineman David Irving, who sprained an ankle in practice during the week. He had already been ruled out for Monday night’s game against the Titans.

Tennessee right guard Josh Kline (ankle) is active after practicing fully late in the week. Kline and left guard Quinton Spain (shoulder) didn’t finish the Titans’ previous game, a 20-19 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers in London before their open week.

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Buccaneers searching for answers to defensive woes

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — It doesn't matter if Jameis Winston or Ryan Fitzpatrick is at quarterback for the Buccaneers. A porous defense keeps undermining Tampa Bay's chances of winning.

The Bucs (3-5) have lost five of six following a 2-0 start. Neither changing quarterbacks nor firing defensive coordinator Mike Smith has been an

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — It doesn’t matter if Jameis Winston or Ryan Fitzpatrick is at quarterback for the Buccaneers. A porous defense keeps undermining Tampa Bay’s chances of winning.

The Bucs (3-5) have lost five of six following a 2-0 start. Neither changing quarterbacks nor firing defensive coordinator Mike Smith has been an answer to ending a tailspin that’s dropped the team into a familiar hole: last place in the NFC South, where they’ve finished six of the last seven seasons.

“I don’t think the past equals the future,” coach Dirk Koetter said after Sunday’s 42-28 loss to the Carolina Panthers, a game the Bucs trailed 35-7 at one point. “We’ve got to play better football, more consistent football. We have to get off to better starts. We’ve got to be in the hunt in (the) turnover battle.”

The Bucs are first in the NFL in passing offense and second in total yards. But well as they’ve moved the ball through eight games, they’re just as bad defensively in allowing a league-high 275 points (34.4 per game) and ranking 30th among 32 teams against the pass.

To make matters worse, Tampa Bay hasn’t forced a turnover in a club-record five consecutive games.

Winston lost his starting job after throwing four interceptions two weeks ago. Fitzpatrick flourished early in the season filling in while Winston was serving a three-game suspension. However, in his last three starts the Bucs have been outscored 103-27 in the opening half.

Inconsistency on offense has been part of the problem. Shoddy defense has been a recurring theme, even in the games the Bucs have won.

Carolina scored on five straight possessions during one stretch of the first half to build a 28-point lead. Fitzpatrick rallied the team within 35-28 in the fourth quarter before the Panthers put away the game.

The loss dropped the Bucs to 2-3 in games started by Fitzpatrick. Winston, who’s thrown 10 interceptions in four games, is 1-2.

A common denominator in Tampa Bay’s three victories is the Bucs have played mostly with the lead and found a way to hold off New Orleans, Philadelphia and Cleveland late.

In the other five games — all losses — opponents have compiled double-digit leads in the first half, and the offense has spent the second half trying to make up ground.

Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul said players have to own the ineffectiveness.

“It’s frustrating, but that’s on the players. It’s not on the coaches. It’s on us, it’s on me,” Pierre-Paul said. “I’m tired of the coaches saying they have to take it because it’s up to the players to play ball.”

Koetter said poor tackling was the primary culprit against the Panthers. Mistakes on offense and special teams contributed to falling by 28 in the second quarter.

“We actually did start fast on defense,” Koetter said Monday. “On those five straight drives where they scored, on three of those drives we put them in horrible field position with an interception, two sacks, a punt return and a fake punt.”

Fitzpatrick rallied the team from a big second-half deficit for the second straight week, only to fall short in the end, throwing for 243 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions.

Not good enough to win, but encouraging enough the Koetter said the 35-year-old will start again Sunday at home against Washington.

“We know we have the talent, it’s just we can’t keep digging ourselves in these holes, especially on the road,” Fitzpatrick said.

“I don’t know that there is an answer or a magical formula or anything; it’s just frustrating right now to not play well and then play well in spurts,” the quarterback added. “We’re just not a very consistent team and not a consistent offense right now.”

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John Elway says coach Vance Joseph’s job is safe for now

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — John Elway says he's going to "stay the course" with Denver Broncos head coach Vance Joseph despite his 8-17 record.

Elway told Broncos broadcasting partner Orange & Blue 760 that he's encouraged by the team's improvement despite its 3-6 record, which is identical to last year's mark after nine

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — John Elway says he’s going to “stay the course” with Denver Broncos head coach Vance Joseph despite his 8-17 record.

Elway told Broncos broadcasting partner Orange & Blue 760 that he’s encouraged by the team’s improvement despite its 3-6 record, which is identical to last year’s mark after nine games.

“At this point in time, we’re going to stay the course. I think there’s enough good things that are going on as far as us and the way that we’re playing,” Elway said. “I’m much more encouraged this year than I was last year.”

A year ago, the Broncos were in the midst of a franchise-worst eight-game skid that included its first shutout in a quarter century and a series of double-digit losses.

This year, they’ve hung tough with some of the league’s top teams, losing by a combined 16 points to the Texans (6-3), Rams (8-1) and Chiefs (8-1) twice.

Brandon McManus missed a 51-yard field goal attempt as time expired in their crushing 19-17 loss to Houston on Sunday .

Although the Broncos have lost six of their last seven, Joseph hasn’t lost the locker room.

“I like the heartbeat of this team and the fact that they’re competitors and they continue to work hard,” Elway said. “As you know, they’re very, very frustrated because they’ve put in a lot of hard work and they’re not getting paid back for all the work they put in with the win.”

Earlier this season, Elway said it was difficult to make many changes midseason and he reiterated that Monday.

“You’d love to have the magic wand and throw the fairy dust on this thing and have some good things happen and get us over the hump,” Elway said. “We’ve been in six one-score games, so I’m much more encouraged this year than I was last year because I think that guys are still playing hard and we’re in games.”

Elway acknowledged last year that he considered firing Joseph after his 5-11 rookie season

Joseph said this summer that he knew he had to get off to a fast start in 2018 for his job security but in the midst of another trying season, he said Monday his focus is on football, not his employment.

“That’s not my concern right now, my future,” Joseph said. “It’s about the players and the coaches and winning football games.”

Joseph has taken heat for his clock management at the end of both halves Sunday, when McManus missed consecutive kicks for the first time in his five-year NFL career, a 62-yarder in the second quarter that led to a field goal by Houston instead and a 51-yarder as time expired that would have given Denver a 20-19 win.

Joseph accepted the blame for the first one, saying he got greedy in going for the long field goal and leaving the Texans enough time to kick their own field goal for a six-point swing at the half.

“Put that on me,” Joseph said. “I was chasing points. That’s wrong.”

Joseph, however, staunchly defended his decision-making on the second one when he decided not to risk Case Keenum getting sacked again after the Broncos had crossed the Houston 35-yard line with about 40 seconds left.

Phillip Lindsay ran up the middle for minus-1 yard and then Denver called timeout with three seconds left.

“I have no problem with how we handled that situation,” Joseph said.

However, McManus is much more accurate from inside of 50 yards than outside.

He’s 23 of 30 in his career between 40 and 49 yards for a 77 percent clip.

From 50-plus yards, he’s just 13 of 25 for a 52 percent success rate.

“Our field-goal line was the 35-yard line. We got to the 33,” Joseph said. “So, at that point, yardage-wise we were good. Obviously, with that pass rush, I wasn’t going to drop back again and allow (Whitney) Mercilus, (Jadeveon) Clowney and (J.J.) Watt to hit the quarterback and the ball’s on the turf and now we lose the game.

“So, my thought process was we have the yards we need. Let’s try to pop a run and get five or six more yards and kick the field goal and win the game. But I wasn’t going to expose our quarterback and our O-line to that pass rush one more time and now if they make a play, now we’re all idiots, right?

“It’s easy Monday morning to say that wasn’t right. But I’m very comfortable with that.”

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Texans roll to sixth straight win entering bye week

HOUSTON (AP) — The Houston Texans have won six straight games for the first time since 2012, leaving their terrible start behind them and putting them firmly in control of the AFC South as they head into their week off.

Despite the dramatic turnaround, coach Bill O'Brien and the Texans (6-3) know that

HOUSTON (AP) — The Houston Texans have won six straight games for the first time since 2012, leaving their terrible start behind them and putting them firmly in control of the AFC South as they head into their week off.

Despite the dramatic turnaround, coach Bill O’Brien and the Texans (6-3) know that they haven’t accomplished anything yet.

“We’ve done a great job of coming back from where we were,” O’Brien said. “But we’ve got a long way to go.”

Houston’s latest win came in dramatic fashion on Sunday in Denver when the Broncos missed a field goal as time expired to allow the Texans to hold on for the 19-17 victory to keep their winning streak intact. Now they have two weeks to prepare before a trip to visit the Redskins on Nov. 18.

Four of the team’s wins during this streak have come by a touchdown or less, giving the Texans confidence in their ability to win close games.

“Our first two wins were overtime wins,” J.J. Watt said. “When you have to go through those, you learn to never give up hope. You just keep growing one day at a time, one game at a time. It will come.”

He agrees with his coach that the Texans can get a lot better and believes this team filled with hard workers will make that happen.

“It will continue to come,” Watt said. “We still have a lot of things to work on. You continue to find a way to win while you work on those things. It is a lot better to work on them while you are winning than losing.”

The Texans had a shakeup on offense last week when receiver Will Fuller was lost for the season with a torn knee ligament and they traded with Denver for star receiver Demaryius Thomas to take his place. Thomas had three receptions for 61 yards in his Houston debut, but had a false start, lined up in the wrong spot and looked lost on a drive in the fourth quarter, showing he has plenty of work to do to get up to speed before facing Washington.

O’Brien said his struggles were understandable considering he only had three days of practice to try and learn what he needed to know before Sunday’s game.

“(We’re) just continuing to try to coach him up on what we’re doing offensively,” O’Brien said. “Now, we can kind of take a step back and really go back into what we call the basic information, teach him the formations, teach him the routes, the protections, how the protections fit with the routes that he’s running and things like that and the technique of the route.”

While Thomas gets acclimated in Houston, the Texans have been impressed with the development of big rookie tight end Jordan Thomas. The 6-foot-5, 280-pound Thomas, who was a sixth-round pick in this year’s draft, has recently emerged as a great goal-line target. He’s grabbed three short touchdowns in the past two games, adding another dimension to Houston’s red zone offense, which struggled earlier this season.

“He was a wide receiver and then as he got bigger, (former Mississippi State coach) Danny Mullen moved him closer to the ball and he became a tight end,” O’Brien said. “Now, he’s had to learn how to block against some of these defensive ends and outside backers and he’s gotten better and better at that.”

The Texans’ big winning streak has coincided with long skids by both the Titans and Jaguars, who both have just three wins. The Jaguars have dropped four straight and the Titans have lost three in a row entering Monday’s game against Dallas.

The Texans think the attitude they showed in getting through their early struggles will help them as they try to add to their streak after the bye.

“A team with grit, fight, one that can really overcome adversity, play good football in tough situations, take care of the football in critical situations, I think that’s the kind of formula that you want to have going down the stretch, hopefully, playing in the playoffs,” safety Tyrann Mathieu said.

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Rested Cardinals face daunting trip to Kansas City

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — When the season started for the Arizona Cardinals, Sam Bradford was the quarterback and Mike McCoy was offensive coordinator.

Now both are gone.

On Saturday, while the team was enjoying a long weekend off, the Cardinals released Bradford, who lost his starting job after three games to rookie Josh

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — When the season started for the Arizona Cardinals, Sam Bradford was the quarterback and Mike McCoy was offensive coordinator.

Now both are gone.

On Saturday, while the team was enjoying a long weekend off, the Cardinals released Bradford, who lost his starting job after three games to rookie Josh Rosen and had been inactive for the last five. Bradford’s departure came a little less than two weeks after McCoy was fired and replaced by quarterbacks coach Byron Leftwich.

Coach Steve Wilks said Monday that in releasing Bradford “we did what we thought was best for the team. We needed that position to be able to add quality depth at different positions.”

The Cardinals made several roster moves during their bye week. Last week, they signed tight end John Phillips and offensive lineman Colby Gossett. Gossett was signed off the Minnesota practice squad. On Monday, Arizona signed offensive lineman Zack Golditch from the Indianapolis practice squad. The team also re-signed wide receiver Kendall Wright, who had a 10-day stint with the team in October.

Arizona was looking to add depth on the offensive line even though all five starters might be healthy enough to play Sunday at Kansas City. John Wetzel, a backup at both tackle and guard, was placed on injured reserve Saturday with a neck injury.

Right guard Justin Pugh said he is hoping his broken hand will be healed enough for him to play Sunday, which would be four weeks from the day he injured it.

The Cardinals (2-6) are coming off a come-from-behind win over San Francisco but face a much more daunting challenge against the Chiefs (8-1), who opened as 15-point favorites with the advantage moving to 16 ½ points on Monday.

“Dynamic in every area,” Wilks said of the Chiefs, “particularly on the offensive side of the ball. (Patrick) Mahomes is playing outstanding, an MVP-caliber player right now, and all the weapons around him. Again, it’s just about trying to eliminate the big plays, and that’s what they’re known for thus far this year is just creating big plays over the top. We’ve got to try to eliminate that.”

It’s the first of several difficult road challenges for Arizona in the second half of the season. The Cardinals also play at Atlanta, Green Bay and the Los Angeles Chargers.

Arizona’s practice Monday was its first since last Tuesday. A workout had been scheduled for last Wednesday but Wilks cancelled it.

“A lot of injuries, I wanted to be able to give the guys an opportunity to recover,” he said.

Despite the long weekend, Arizona got an extra day of practice this week. Players have Tuesday off before returning to their regular Wednesday-Thursday-Friday practice schedule.

It gives Leftwich a little extra time to work on the offense, which slogged through three quarters before Rosen threw two TD passes in the fourth-quarter in the 18-15 win over San Francisco.

“I think it was very beneficial,” Wilks said. “I’m out there, and I’m watching the flow of practice. I’m seeing it in action with Josh and the things that they’re doing. Not really to indulge a lot in the game plan, but you can see Byron trying to evolve and move this offense in another direction. I think the bye week was very beneficial to him, as well as to the offense.”

Rookie wide receiver Christian Kirk said Leftwich brings “a lot of new energy.”

“He’s such a smart mind and he’s just really good at putting his guys in the right position,” Kirk said.

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Raiders regroup after lopsided loss to 49ers

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) — Two defensive captains have been cut, a respected veteran retired and the team's No. 1 receiver was traded away.

The losses for the Oakland Raiders have been mounting on and off the field in recent weeks as a season that began with optimism has fallen apart at the midway

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) — Two defensive captains have been cut, a respected veteran retired and the team’s No. 1 receiver was traded away.

The losses for the Oakland Raiders have been mounting on and off the field in recent weeks as a season that began with optimism has fallen apart at the midway point.

After four straight losses, including a blowout by Bay Area rival San Francisco, have left the Raiders (1-7) tied for the worst record in the NFL, it’s time to start looking to the future.

To that end, coach Jon Gruden called in his rookie class Friday following the 34-3 loss to the 49ers and delivered a message to the group.

“He was just telling us he needs more from us rookies,” defensive end Arden Key said Monday. “He needs more, more, more. He said we’re doing pretty good but he needs more. We need to lead the league in effort and we’re not doing that as rookies. … It was a wake-up call and we answered.”

Little has gone right of late for the Raiders, who have been outscored by 85 points during a four-game losing streak. The team has also cut captains Bruce Irvin and Derrick Johnson during that span, watched cornerback Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie retire, and traded receiver Amari Cooper to Dallas for a first-round draft pick.

That follows the trade one week before the start of the season that dealt star pass rusher Khalil Mack to Chicago for a package of picks, including two first-rounders.

Oakland was last in the league with seven sacks before cutting ties with Irvin, who led the team with three. Only rookies Maurice Hurst (two sacks) and Key (one), along with Clinton McDonald (one) have sacks among players on the active roster.

That’s why Gruden wants more from his rookie class that also features defensive tackle P.J. Hall.

“I know right now the maturity level on this team has to rise up,” veteran defensive lineman Frostee Rucker said. “We just have to be a complete team and do the little things better. That’s what we’re starting with today, trying to do the little things better.”

The Raiders also added some reinforcements Monday, signing defensive linemen Jacquies Smith and Kony Ealy to contracts.

Ealy had 14 sacks in three seasons with Carolina from 2014-16, including three in a Super Bowl loss to Denver following the 2015 season. He was traded to New England in 2017, got cut by the Patriots and then signed with the New York Jets, where he had one sack in 15 games.

Ealy spent training camp in Dallas before getting cut by the Cowboys on Sept. 1.

Smith was originally signed as an undrafted free agent in 2012 and finally got his first chance to play in 2014 with Tampa Bay. He had 13 1/2 sacks in 27 games his first two seasons with the Buccaneers before suffering a major knee injury in 2016.

Smith has played just seven games the past three seasons with Tampa, Detroit and Arizona, recording three tackles and no sacks in seven games. Smith was released by Arizona in September.

Smith worked out for the Raiders in recent weeks and got the call Sunday, a day after Irvin was released. Smith said he feels as healthy as he has since before the injury and is eager for the chance to show what he can do.

“It’s been very frustrating,” he said. “Obviously, I have a ton of confidence in myself. Obviously, I’ve made a ton of plays in this league. Just getting back and getting that opportunity to do that. I’m very confident in my ability. Obviously, these guys see something in me to give me a shot.”

NOTES: The Raiders waived James Cowser. … LT Kolton Miller didn’t have a helmet at practice after re-injuring his right knee last Thursday. … LG Kelechi Osemele participated in practice despite injuring his knee again against the 49ers. … RB Marshawn Lynch stopped by practice for the first time since undergoing surgery on an injured groin last month.

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Resurgent Falcons back in playoff race with 3 straight wins

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — Coach Dan Quinn says losing six starters to injured reserve never forced him to lose faith in the Atlanta Falcons, even before three straight wins revived the team's playoff hopes.

The Falcons (4-4) have recovered from a 1-4 start despite losing both starting safeties, both first-team offensive guards, running back

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — Coach Dan Quinn says losing six starters to injured reserve never forced him to lose faith in the Atlanta Falcons, even before three straight wins revived the team’s playoff hopes.

The Falcons (4-4) have recovered from a 1-4 start despite losing both starting safeties, both first-team offensive guards, running back Devonta Freeman and linebacker Deion Jones.

Sunday’s 38-14 win at NFC East-leading Washington showed the Falcons, who play at Cleveland this week, are back as a playoff contender.

Even after running back Devonta Freeman and right guard Brandon Fusco were the most recent starters to land on IR, Quinn continued to say the Falcons were a team on the rise who had not peaked.

“All along I’ve had real belief in what this ’18 team can be,” Quinn said Monday. “Although it started under some difficult circumstances, I like the way they’ve supported each other. I like the toughness they’ve shown and I feel like we’re starting to play like we’re capable of playing.”

The Falcons iced the win over the Redskins by holding the ball for 10 minutes in the fourth quarter, when Washington didn’t score. Quinn said the “ability to finish” was a highlight of the game.

With Ben Garland starting for Fusco and Wes Schweitzer continuing in his fill-in starting role for injured left guard Andy Levitre, the new-look offensive line played one of its best games.

The Falcons converted 10 of 13 third-down plays and scored touchdowns on two of three red-zone possessions. Matt Ryan threw for 350 yards with four touchdowns and one interception — only his third of the season and his first since a Week 2 win over Carolina.

Ryan said the Falcons have improved since losing four of their first five games.

“I think halfway through we were a better football team than we were at the start, and we have to keep it trending in that direction,” Ryan said after Sunday’s game.

Ryan has enjoyed a return to his 2016 form, when he was named the NFL MVP. Led by Ryan, the Falcons have scored touchdowns on 17 of their last 21 red-zone possessions since their opening loss at Philadelphia.

“I think red zone efficiency has been really good for us,” Ryan said. “We didn’t do a good job of that in the opener, but since then we’ve done a pretty good job of that. … When you’re scoring touchdowns and taking care of the ball, that’s a good recipe for success.”

Quinn said seeing Julio Jones finally score his first touchdown of the season “was probably the coolest part of the day” in the win over Washington.

Jones’ teammates rushed down the sideline to celebrate with him following his 35-yard touchdown pass from Ryan.

“It was a great experience having the team come out there,” Jones said.

Quinn said Jones “is the most selfless leader probably that any of us have been around.”

“They were so excited for him because of all the work he does behind the scenes that people don’t know about,” Quinn said. “… They know what he stands for as a teammate.”

Atlanta’s daunting injury outlook could be improving.

The Falcons already have had defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, who had a sack on Sunday, return after missing two games with an ankle injury.

Jones is eligible to come off IR when the Falcons play Dallas on Nov. 18, though there has been no word on when he’ll be cleared from his foot injury. It’s not known if Freeman will be able to return from his groin injury when eligible in December.

Placekicker Matt Bryant has missed two games with a hamstring injury. More will be known on Wednesday about his chances to return against the Browns.

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