Bears’ Fangio looking forward to working with Mack

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio was obviously thrilled when he found out about the trade for two-time All-Pro Khalil Mack last weekend.

Fangio is eager to work with Mack after the Bears pulled off a blockbuster deal with Oakland on Saturday, jolting a franchise with four straight last-place finishes.

The trade capped a busy offseason that saw the Bears mostly load up around quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. Fangio now has one of the best pass rushers in the NFL leading an already solid defense, not a bad consolation after he got passed over for the head coaching job in favor of Matt Nagy.

The Bears suddenly seem like contenders for a playoff spot. But Fangio wasn’t about to plan any parades.

He has plenty to do this week, working in a new superstar while scheming to face Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in a primetime opener at Lambeau Field on Sunday night. It’s not clear how much Mack will play, though he obviously figures to give the defense a huge boost whenever he steps on the field.

“Well, I would say (Mack) could be a major help to us,” Fangio said. “Any time you get a player of his ability it can do nothing but help make you better, helps make the players around him better, but he’s been the same player in Oakland throughout his career, very well decorated and a lot of honors that he deserved and Oakland was never better than mid-20s in defense, so one guy doesn’t make a whole unit, as pretty evident by that.”

The Raiders ranked in the 20s on defense in each of Mack’s four seasons. But he’s joining a unit that was 10th overall last year.

Now, the Bears are adding a player with 40½ sacks, and nine forced fumbles in his four seasons. Mack also leads all players with 185½ quarterback pressures and ranks second with 68 tackles for loss since entering the league, according to SportRadar.

It’s not hard for Fangio to envision more opportunities for Leonard Floyd on the opposite edge with opponents keying on Mack. He sees the same for the inside linebackers and the defensive backs, with quarterbacks under more pressure.

“It’s a chain reaction, a domino effect and hopefully, that’s what we’ll see,” Fangio said.

The question is how soon.

Mack sat out the entire offseason and preseason with Oakland trying to get a long-term extension rather than play under the final year of his rookie contract. He wound up getting a six-year, $141 million extension that guarantees him $90 million and makes him the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history.

“I think for Khalil and us in general it’s just going to be knowing where he’s at mentally with Vic’s system and then understanding where he is physically and matching the two together,” Nagy said. “We’re not going to know really until we get into it and we just kind of gauge it.”

Like Mack, rookie inside linebacker Roquan Smith is playing catch-up. The No. 8 overall draft pick held out the first three weeks of training camp before agreeing to a four-year contract that guarantees him $18.5 million. He has dealt with a tight left hamstring the past three weeks. And Floyd is getting used to playing with a casted club on his broken right hand.

“These guys are very talented,” Mack said. “You see the skillsets that they have. We’re only trying to get better. That’s the only thing I’m asking from the group, that we all get better and hold each other accountable.

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Bengals fire defensive coordinator, Jackson re-joining staff

CINCINNATI (AP) — Marvin Lewis got the Bengals' head coaching job because of his reputation for defensive excellence. He's now in charge of trying to resuscitate a historically bad unit and pulling Cincinnati's season back from the brink.

The Bengals fired defensive coordinator Teryl Austin on Monday, a day after a 51-14 loss

CINCINNATI (AP) — Marvin Lewis got the Bengals’ head coaching job because of his reputation for defensive excellence. He’s now in charge of trying to resuscitate a historically bad unit and pulling Cincinnati’s season back from the brink.

The Bengals fired defensive coordinator Teryl Austin on Monday, a day after a 51-14 loss to the Saints that ranks among the worst in franchise history. New Orleans scored on every possession except the last one — when it took a knee while in field-goal range — during its rout at Paul Brown Stadium.

The fading Bengals (5-4) fired a coordinator in midstream for the second season in a row. And it’s up to Lewis to get hands-on and try to fix the mess while filling two roles at once.

“Teryl worked very hard, but I just felt like we have to rock their world, shake things up,” Lewis said.

The timing was curious. The Bengals were coming off their bye week that would have given them time to adapt to a change at coordinator. Now, they’re changing on the fly while getting ready for a pivotal AFC North game at Baltimore (4-5) on Sunday.

Lewis made another interesting move, re-hiring fired Browns coach Hue Jackson, who served as his offensive coordinator in 2014 and 2015. Jackson, who was dismissed by Cleveland on Oct. 29 after winning just three games in two-plus seasons, will take on an unspecified role within Lewis’ staff, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press on Monday night.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the team has not announced Jackson’s addition.

The Bengals host the Browns on Nov. 25.

Lewis took the defense aside a few times on Sunday, trying to clear up confusion. While he won’t change the defensive schemes, he’ll try to bring more clarity to players’ responsibilities.

“They want help: ‘Give me something,'” Lewis said.

The Bengals have given up at least 500 yards in three straight games — a first in the Super Bowl era — and are on pace to give up an NFL record for yards in a season . In the past four games, Cincinnati has allowed 481, 551, 576 and 509 yards.

Lewis has one thing in his favor: The schedule is far more favorable the rest of the way.

Cincinnati has faced six offenses currently ranked in the league’s Top 10 — Tampa Bay (No. 1), Kansas City (3), Pittsburgh (4), New Orleans (5), Atlanta (6) and Indianapolis (9). Only two are left on the schedule: the Chargers (8) and the Steelers again.

With three losses in the past four games, Cincinnati has fallen from first place to trailing Pittsburgh (6-2-1) by two games in the loss column. They can’t afford to fall any further behind, which was a factor in the firing.

“They’re trying to get things fixed now,” defensive end Carlos Dunlap said. “If you weren’t paying attention, you’re paying attention now.”

It’s the second time during his 16-season tenure in Cincinnati that Lewis has gotten directly involved in the defense.

The Bengals hired him in 2003 in large part because of his reputation for defensive coaching — he coordinated the Ravens’ Super Bowl-championship defense in the 2000 season. Defense has been a regular challenge during his tenure.

Lewis became so frustrated with the defense in 2004 that he took over play-calling from coordinator Leslie Frazier during a game against Cleveland. The Bengals lost 34-17 and Lewis left the defense in Frazier’s hands the rest of the way, and then fired him after the season.

Now, he’s back in charge.

“We’re not playing well, so something had to change,” safety Jessie Bates said.

Lewis hired Austin from Detroit after defensive coordinator Paul Guenther left to join Jon Gruden with the Raiders. The Bengals gave up a lot of yards while opening the season 4-1, with the defense scoring four touchdowns off fumble and interception returns to overcome the poor showings overall.

With injuries sapping the defense during a stretch of games against the NFL’s top offenses, the unit imploded. The Saints scored touchdowns on all five first-half possessions Sunday, and moved the ball easily even when they were running out the clock in the fourth quarter.

The Bengals matched the club record by giving up 28 points in the second quarter. The 51 points allowed were one shy of the club record.

Austin is the fourth coordinator fired in the NFL this season. Tampa Bay fired defensive coordinator Mike Smith, Arizona fired offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, and the Browns fired head coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley.

Jackson has a close relationship with Lewis, who has declined to discuss whether he’d bring him back to Cincinnati. Jackson coached on both offense and defense in Cincinnati.

Last year, the Bengals fired offensive coordinator Ken Zampese after an 0-2 start, but the Bengals missed out on the playoffs for the second year in a row. Lewis got a two-year contract extension after the season even though he’s 0-7 in the playoffs — an NFL record for futility.

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AP Sports Writer Tom Withers in Cleveland contributed to this report.

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AP Source: Former Browns coach Jackson returning to Bengals

CLEVELAND (AP) — A person familiar with the hiring says fired Browns coach Hue Jackson will rejoin Marvin Lewis' staff in Cincinnati.

Jackson, who was dismissed by Cleveland on Oct. 29 after going 3-36-1 in two-plus seasons, will take an unspecified position with the Bengals, said the person who spoke to The Associated

CLEVELAND (AP) — A person familiar with the hiring says fired Browns coach Hue Jackson will rejoin Marvin Lewis’ staff in Cincinnati.

Jackson, who was dismissed by Cleveland on Oct. 29 after going 3-36-1 in two-plus seasons, will take an unspecified position with the Bengals, said the person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Monday night because the team has not announced the move.

Jackson was Lewis’ offensive coordinator in 2014 and 2015 before he was hired by Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam. Jackson also worked in Cincinnati as a defensive assistant and wide receivers coach.

Lewis fired defensive coordinator Teryl Austin on Monday, a day after a 51-14 loss to the New Orleans Saints.

Jackson was brought back for a third season in Cleveland despite going 1-31 in his first two. However, the team continued to struggle and Jackson had issues with offensive coordinator Todd Haley, who was also let go.

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3-game winning streak helping Indianapolis build momentum

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indianapolis Colts' season looked lost in early October.

At 1-5, they were better positioned for the draft than the playoffs. A defense that showed so much promise in the first three weeks gave up 37 or more points over the next three. Andrew Luck's short, quick throws created debate

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indianapolis Colts’ season looked lost in early October.

At 1-5, they were better positioned for the draft than the playoffs. A defense that showed so much promise in the first three weeks gave up 37 or more points over the next three. Andrew Luck’s short, quick throws created debate over whether his surgically repaired right shoulder was — or ever would be — back to full strength.

Three straight wins have changed a lot.

Suddenly, the Colts trail division leader Houston by just two games, have slowly moved back into the wild-card chase, face only one more team with more than five wins at home against Houston (6-3) on Dec. 9. With momentum and hope restored in Indy, there’s no telling how this might end.

“That’s not a good question to ask a perfectionist,” coach Frank Reich said Monday when asked if the offense could play more efficiently.

“It’s never good enough. But it’s been pretty good. It’s funny how we’re wired in this business. This business can humble you in a second and the moment we think we can throw it out there and score 30 points in a minute is the time we get embarrassed.”

Reich’s comments explain why he refused to panic when many things — including his decision to go for the win in an overtime loss to Houston — seemed to backfire.

It’s also the reason he views Sunday’s 29-26 victory over Jacksonville with mixed feelings.

He was thrilled to see Luck finding open receivers throughout the first half as Indy scored on four its first six possessions and excited to look at a stat sheet that showed the Colts’ defense limited the Jaguars’ usually strong ground game to just 91 yards and 2.7 yards per carry.

Still, he understands Indy (4-5) must continue improving to continue winning.

The offense only produced two first downs in the second half, preventing the Colts from sealing the victory until finally forcing a fumble after Jacksonville had moved into position for a potentially tying field goal with 90 seconds left in the game. They only got the ball back after a booth review barely beat Jacksonville’s next snap and the replay review overturned the call on the field.

“It’s sort of like a mixed bag of emotions,” Luck said after joining Tom Brady and Peyton Manning as the only players with six consecutive games of three or more touchdowns in one season. “A win, excited, but also a little bit angry on the mistakes I know that I felt like I made and that our offense made.”

There are plenty of encouraging signs.

Luck has thrown 21 touchdowns and six interceptions in the past six games with a reduced workload on his shoulder. He’s increasingly exploited the mismatches between Indy’s versatile tight ends, hooking up with them on five TD passes over the past two weeks.

Perhaps most important: Indy’s rebuilt offensive line has kept Luck upright. He’s been sacked 10 times in nine starts after going down 156 times in his first 70 games, and Luck’s streak of four straight games and 184 consecutive sacks are the longest of his pro career.

They’ve played well enough that Reich is expanding the play calls.

“It gives us a lot of confidence to call anything we want, to call stuff down the field,” he said. “There’s not a play that gets called that we don’t think protection first.”

Defensively, things look better, too.

The Colts generally have created a pass rush though they failed to even hit Blake Bortles on his 38 attempts Sunday, and they’ve proved stouter against the run than in previous seasons.

If they keep it up, Reich knows anything is possible. Another home win next Sunday against Tennessee would give the Colts a four-game winning streak, a share of second place in the AFC South and perhaps even better odds in the playoff race.

“It’s not easy, obviously, to win three in a row, especially coming off of a bye,” Reich said. “But we really want to make a statement in these games we have at home. We want to get the excitement back in the building.”

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Bills release turnover-prone quarterback Nathan Peterman

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — The Buffalo Bills have released turnover-prone quarterback Nathan Peterman.

The move was announced by the team Monday and made as the Bills enter their bye week. Earlier in the day, coach Sean McDermott backed Peterman by saying he maintained his confidence in the second-year player.

Peterman became the

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — The Buffalo Bills have released turnover-prone quarterback Nathan Peterman.

The move was announced by the team Monday and made as the Bills enter their bye week. Earlier in the day, coach Sean McDermott backed Peterman by saying he maintained his confidence in the second-year player.

Peterman became the odd man out with Buffalo carrying four quarterbacks, and with rookie Josh Allen set to reclaim his starting job after missing four games with a sprained right throwing elbow.

Peterman was also passed on the depth chart by newly signed Matt Barkley, who took over the starting job in a 41-10 win over the New York Jets on Sunday. Derek Anderson is the third quarterback on Buffalo’s roster, and has missed two games because of a concussion.

Peterman could never escape his reputation for committing turnovers since the Bills selected him in the fifth round of the 2017 draft out of Pittsburgh.

Overall, he threw 13 interceptions in nine career appearances, including playoffs, and four starts. Peterman began this year as the starter, before losing the job early in the third quarter of a 47-3 season-opening loss at Baltimore.

He’s best remembered for throwing five interceptions in the first half of his first career start in a 54-24 loss at the Los Angeles Chargers a little under a year ago.

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No time for Seahawks to recover from being overrun by Rams

RENTON, Wash. (AP) — The idea the Seattle Seahawks would score 31 points and lose used to be unfathomable with Pete Carroll in charge.

It's happened now twice this season, both times to the division-leading Los Angeles Rams. And by the end of the season those two games of being unable to slow

RENTON, Wash. (AP) — The idea the Seattle Seahawks would score 31 points and lose used to be unfathomable with Pete Carroll in charge.

It’s happened now twice this season, both times to the division-leading Los Angeles Rams. And by the end of the season those two games of being unable to slow down the Rams could end up being the difference between Seattle finding its way into the playoffs and being left home for the second straight year.

“I’m not a moral victories guy. A loss is a loss,” Seattle linebacker Bobby Wagner said. “We need to grow from it. It’s only good if we learn something from it and do better. We’ve got to do that. We have to apply that to the rest of the season.”

Seattle has little time to make corrections with Green Bay visiting on Thursday night in a matchup with major wild-card implications in the NFC. Seattle has dropped two straight, falling to 4-5 and can’t afford a third straight loss if it wants to remain in the playoff race.

Carroll believes there is still time for Seattle to make a playoff run. But its defense must improve starting this week.

“We’ve got to go. We’ve got to take these one week at a time and start piling up some wins. I like our style and I like our style in playoff mode. I’d like that opportunity,” Carroll said on Monday.

“We’ve got a lot of ball to play, there are a lot of games coming at us, lot of opportunities at home and we should have nothing but the thoughts that we should build on where we are right now and have a chance to get going and get better. Hopefully we can stay healthy and give us a chance to play with the same guys.”

For the second straight week, Seattle was terrible at stopping the run, especially in the first half. A week earlier against the Chargers, it was Melvin Gordon running wild as that Los Angeles franchise rolled up 160 yards rushing and averaged more than 7 yards per carry.

It didn’t get better against Todd Gurley and the Rams. Gurley rushed for 120 yards on just 16 carries and the Rams averaged 6.5 yards per carry. It was the third time this season Seattle has allowed its opponent to average more than 6 yards per rush — it happened just seven times in the previous eight seasons.

“We’ve just got to play better and not allow the big plays to happen,” Carroll said. “It’s just consistency. That’s the common denominator, the consistency at the line of scrimmage.”

The Rams are the only team this season to score 30 or more points against the Seahawks, but what was a rarity under Carroll’s regime has become more of an issue in the past two years.

From the middle of the 2011 season through the end of the 2016 season, the Seahawks allowed 30 or more points eight times, including none in the 2012 season — a span of 89 games.

In the past two seasons, including Sunday’s 36-31 loss to the Rams, the Seahawks have given up 30 or more points seven times in a span of 25 games.

Injuries can be blamed for some of the problems, but clearly the Seahawks defense is far more vulnerable than they’ve been in the past.

“We gave up too many plays, particularly early. It took us a while to zero in on what we needed to do to stop the running game. I really thought that was the key,” Carroll said. “They did a nice job again. They continue to just keep rolling on offense and we weren’t able to slow them down enough.”

NOTES: Center Justin Britt declined to comment about a postgame confrontation with Rams’ DT Aaron Donald. Donald rushed Britt near midfield at the end of the game and the players had to be separated. … Carroll was unsure the status of LB K.J. Wright who left Sunday’s game with a knee injury. Wright had knee surgery in August that caused him to miss the first six games. … Carroll said he expects RB Chris Carson and G D.J. Fluker to be able to play against the Packers. Both players sat out Sunday’s game in the hope of being able to play against Green Bay.

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Falcons miss opportunity to stay close in NFC wild-card hunt

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — The Atlanta Falcons picked a bad time to play their second-worst game of the year.

Losing by two touchdowns at Cleveland cost the Falcons (4-5) a chance to move one-half game back in the NFC wild-card race. They enter this week's home game against Dallas (4-5) two games

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — The Atlanta Falcons picked a bad time to play their second-worst game of the year.

Losing by two touchdowns at Cleveland cost the Falcons (4-5) a chance to move one-half game back in the NFC wild-card race. They enter this week’s home game against Dallas (4-5) two games behind Carolina for the final playoff spot.

Atlanta looked out of sync most of the day. Only in Week 5 in a blowout loss at Pittsburgh did the Falcons play worse, but quarterback Matt Ryan isn’t terribly concerned.

“There are seven games to go, and we are right in the mix,” Ryan said. “Probably the most important part of being a professional is being able to move on. That includes being able to move on from both positive experiences and negative experiences. We can’t begin to start feeling sorry for ourselves or anything like that.”

Coach Dan Quinn told his team Monday that he was satisfied with its effort against the Browns but not much else. There was a palpable lack of speed as the Falcons fell short of reaching “another spot that you go to, to play really exemplarily ball.”

Trailing 14-10 and getting the ball to begin the third quarter, Atlanta’s next four possessions ended with a fumble, two punts and a failure to score from the 1-yard line early in the fourth when Tevin Coleman was stopped for no gain and Ryan threw an incompletion.

In between, the Browns scored two touchdowns with Nick Chubb’s 92-yard run, the longest in Cleveland history, one of the most embarrassing plays of the season.

Linebacker Duke Riley froze and got blocked by center JC Tretter while right guard Kevin Zeitler pinned Derrick Shelby back at the line of scrimmage. Chubb dashed through the hole and was too fast to catch after free safety Damontae Kazee dove at his feet and whiffed near the Cleveland 22.

The Browns’ 211 yards rushing were the most Atlanta has allowed since Sept. 28, 2014, at Minnesota.

“It wasn’t the outcome we wanted and worked for but we can’t dwell on it,” Riley said. “We have to move forward like we did with the first couple of losses.”

The offense suffered a letdown when center Alex Mack sent a shotgun snap over Ryan’s head in the second quarter, causing the Falcons to settle for a field goal. Mohamed Sanu’s lost fumble to begin the third was even worse because he held the ball out to get an extra yard and was still 14 yards shy of the first-down marker.

Six plays later, the Browns were dancing in the end zone.

“We didn’t do our jobs the way we were supposed to,” Sanu said, “and you saw exactly what happened.”

Quinn will challenge his players to create more energy in practice this week.

“I thought over the last couple weeks defensively we knew we had faced some good runners with the Giants and certainly at Washington, and it was going to take that second and third guy jumping over the pile to get there,” he said. “I thought offensively we’ve been hitting it on that stride for a few weeks now.

“So for us not to find that speed, to create some of the explosive plays and same thing on the defensive side, not to create some of the speeds that create negative plays, those are things that I didn’t think was up to our standard.”

Notes: Quinn said MLB Deion Jones will practice for the second straight week in hopes that he can play against the Cowboys. Jones has been out since breaking his foot in the season-opening loss at Philadelphia. … It will likely be Thursday before Quinn knows if kicker Matt Bryant will be ready to return from a hamstring injury. Giorgio Tavecchio is 5 for 5 on field goals and has hit all eight of his extra-point tries in playing the past three games in Bryant’s spot.

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Houston RB Foreman could return to practice soon

HOUSTON (AP) — Houston Texans running back D'Onta Foreman has recovered from a ruptured Achilles tendon he suffered almost a year ago and could return to practice soon.

When Foreman returns to practice the team will have 21 days to take him off the physically unable to perform list and add him to

HOUSTON (AP) — Houston Texans running back D’Onta Foreman has recovered from a ruptured Achilles tendon he suffered almost a year ago and could return to practice soon.

When Foreman returns to practice the team will have 21 days to take him off the physically unable to perform list and add him to the active roster.

He believes he could return to practice as early as this week.

“I’m just waiting for them to let me know, but I think it will be this week,” he said. “I definitely think it will be this week. But … I’m just ready to go out there. Whenever they put my helmet in my locker and tell me: ‘Let’s go.'”

Foreman, a third-round pick in 2017 from Texas, ran for 327 yards with two touchdowns and had 83 yards receiving before his injury on Nov. 19.

Coach Bill O’Brien didn’t give an exact date for when he expects him to begin practicing, but said Monday that it would be “pretty soon.” After that they’ll evaluate him to see if he’s in good enough shape to return to the active roster.

“I think that there’s a lot of thought that goes into that for the player and for the team,” O’Brien said.

“He has not played football in a long time. He’s a very young player. He’s got a lot of talent, everybody saw that last year, but let’s see where he’s at. Let’s see where he’s at before we start handing him the ball in big games.”

Foreman, who won the Doak Walker Award as the nation’s top collegiate running back in 2016, said he’s feeling great now, but that his rehabilitation process was trying.

“At first it was difficult,” he said. “I just had a lot of up and down days not knowing if I would feel the same or how would I feel coming off of it. But … I’ve been rehabbing for a long time (and) I’m just looking forward to getting back out there.”

The Texans, who are coming off their bye, visit Washington on Sunday before hosting the Titans on Nov. 26.

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Patricia’s Lions reeling after 3rd straight loss

ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) — Matt Patricia wants the Detroit Lions to stay the course.

The Lions have lost three games in a row — all by double digits — and are mired in last place. Their most recent defeat was an ugly one. Detroit fell behind 26-0 in the second quarter and

ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) — Matt Patricia wants the Detroit Lions to stay the course.

The Lions have lost three games in a row — all by double digits — and are mired in last place. Their most recent defeat was an ugly one. Detroit fell behind 26-0 in the second quarter and eventually lost 34-22 at Chicago on Sunday.

Patricia’s first season as coach has been a disappointment so far, and if he has any easy, quick fixes at his disposal, he wasn’t sharing them in his Monday news conference.

“No time to feel sorry for ourselves,” Patricia said. “We have to just keep working and getting better.”

Offensive lineman Taylor Decker sounded a similar refrain.

“You’ve just got to play better,” Decker said. “At the end of the day, you’ve just got to perform better. I know that sounds cliche. It’s a simple answer, but it’s not easy to do.”

The Lions (3-6) lost their first two games of the season, then fought back to a 3-3 mark before this current losing skid. They traded receiver Golden Tate before going on the road to face Minnesota and Chicago, and Detroit never led in either of those games.

The past two games have been particularly rough from a pass protection standpoint. Detroit allowed 10 sacks against the Vikings and six against the Bears.

“Whatever the situation is, whatever the score is, we have to play better as an offensive line. We have to protect the quarterback,” Decker said. “Six sacks isn’t something that’s going to be acceptable, and we know that.”

So now the Lions are back where they were after those first two losses — playing catch-up. Only now, they don’t have a long season still in front of them. Detroit’s next three games are at home, but all are against teams with winning records in Carolina, Chicago and the Los Angeles Rams.

The Lions fired special teams coordinator Joe Marciano last week, but Patricia indicated no more staff changes are imminent. He said communication between him and the players is good.

“I think we understand (that) we’re working hard to try to get everything the right way. There’s not a big discussion about it, there’s not a big confrontation or anything like that. I don’t know where any of that really comes from outside the building,” Patricia said.

“Inside the building, we’re just trying to get better. We really are just working really hard to make sure we’re doing the right things and trying to find different ways, if we have to, to get those things done.”

Detroit went 9-7 last season and then fired coach Jim Caldwell, so that makes the decline in 2018 even more alarming. Quarterback Matthew Stafford turned 30 earlier this year, and although the Lions traded Tate — a potential free agent at season’s end — for a draft pick, this franchise doesn’t seem as if it’s in a rebuilding mode.

That means the rest of this season is significant. Whether they make the playoffs or not, the Lions need to show some progress — some reason for fans to trust that this roster and this coach are better than what the team has shown so far.

“I believe in this team and we’re going to work real hard every single day,” Patricia said. “I think the guys in that room, I have a great understanding of what they are and what we’re going to do as a team. We’re not hitting the panic button or anything like that right now. We’re just trying to get better.”

NOTES: P Sam Martin didn’t go into much detail about the medical issue that sent him to the hospital, other than to say he’s fine and will play this coming weekend. He said he got blocked during a return Sunday. … The Lions waived CB Lenzy Pipkins.

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Colts G Nelson making case as NFL’s top rookie

Colts G Nelson making case as NFL's top rookie

Houston

Colts G Nelson making case as NFL’s top rookie

Houston Texans: Running back D’Onta Foreman (Achilles) has been sidelined 12 months but sees himself returning to the field prior to the end of this season. “I’ve made a lot of progress since I started my rehab process,” Foreman told reporters. “I feel really good and I’m looking forward to getting back out there.” Foreman is currently on the Physically Unable to Perform list and whenever the Texans remove him from that list, the team would have 21 days to decide whether to activate him or place him on injured reserve. “He’s got a lot of talent,” Houston coach Bill O’Brien told reporters. “Everybody saw that last year. But let’s see where he’s at, before we start handing him the ball in big games. Let’s make sure we’re all on the same page with where he’s at.”

Indianapolis Colts: There could be a day where five NFL teams are criticized for bypassing guard Quenton Nelson in the 2018 NFL Draft. Offensive linemen don’t score touchdowns or land national commercials but Nelson is receiving a lot of mention as the league’s top rookie — regardless of position. Nelson also appears to be getting stronger as opposed to being a player who might hit the proverbial “rookie wall.” “I haven’t seen him slow down at all,” offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni told reporters. “That’s one of the great things about Quenton is that he’s consistent and he’s the same guy every day. That’s something we look for in our players. We don’t want the guys that are up and then down and then up and then down, and Q gives us that steadiness.”

Jacksonville Jaguars: The club is sliding in the wrong direction with five consecutive setbacks and apparently some feelings were hurt when the NFL moved Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers from a nationally televised night game to the afternoon. “We all complained last week about getting flexed out of Sunday that a lot of guys are looking forward to,” safety Tashaun Gipson told reporters. “But who would want to watch the Jaguars play football the way we’re playing right now? That’s tough, because I’ve been on terrible teams. I’ve been on teams that when you’re 3-6 you’re like, ‘That’s a lot better than I thought we would be nine games in.’ The feeling right now is tough on a lot of guys because this is not a 3-6 team. We’re much better than 3-6, but we’re playing like 3-6 and our record says 3-6 and we are 3-6.”

Tennessee Titans: Cornerback Malcolm Butler has largely been a disappointment in his first season with the Titans but he perked up when he lined up against his former club, the New England Patriots, on Sunday. Tennessee coach Mike Vrabel said Butler “had a much better day” and he was glad to see the improvement. “He took care of his techniques, took care of his assignments,” Vrabel said of Butler. “He understood the defense and how he fit in it. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a good step for him and our defense on Sunday.” The Titans are encouraged by the progress being shown by offensive tackle Jack Conklin (concussion), who has missed the New England game. Vrabel said Conklin remains in the protocol but “is feeling better.”

–Field Level Media

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Panthers waive veteran RB Anderson, sign Cadet

Panthers waive veteran RB Anderson, sign Cadet

The Carolina Panthers waived running back

Panthers waive veteran RB Anderson, sign Cadet

The Carolina Panthers waived running back C.J. Anderson on Monday, giving the veteran the opportunity to latch on with a new team ahead of Week 11.

Signed to a one-year deal in the offseason after five seasons with the Denver Broncos, Anderson rushed 24 times for 104 yards in nine games this season. He also caught one pass, a 24-yard touchdown in a Week 3 win against the Cincinnati Bengals.

“When we signed C.J. in the spring he saw a bigger role than he has had, and honestly, at the time so did we,” general manager Marty Hurney said. “But Christian McCaffrey has taken so much of the offense and so much of the plays, we just made the decision that this was the best thing for all parties involved.”

McCaffrey, a second-year star, has rushed for 579 yards and four touchdowns and caught 54 passes for 439 yards and four scores.

Anderson, 27, was coming off his first 1,000-yard season last year with the Broncos. In 67 career games, he has rushed for 3,155 yards and 20 TDs.

Anderson thanked the Panthers on Twitter, writing, “No love lost. Thank you Carolina. Grind time.”

The Panthers signed running back Travaris Cadet for depth.

The 29-year-old has yet to play in a game this season after being released by the Buffalo Bills during final cuts. He has primarily been a receiving back, totaling 959 yards and seven touchdowns on 118 catches, compared to just 49 carries for 180 yards, in 72 career games (three starts).

Also on the roster is Cameron Artis-Payne, who has only been active in two games this season and has yet to touch the ball. A fifth-round pick in 2015, he has 99 career carries for 422 yards and four touchdowns.

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Falcons activate LB Jones from IR

Falcons activate LB Jones from IR

The

Falcons activate LB Jones from IR

The Atlanta Falcons activated linebacker Deion Jones from injured reserve on Monday, clearing the way for him to play as soon as Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys.

Jones has not played since injuring his foot in Week 1 against the Philadelphia Eagles. He became eligible to be recalled from injured reserve this week, but head coach Dan Quinn cautioned earlier on Monday — before Jones was activated — that the team would work him back in slowly.

“As we go through the week, we’ll take it step by step and see where he’s at,” Quinn said. “Too early to make a prediction of where he could be. I know he’s eligible to be back this week, that doesn’t mean he’s ready to. We’re going to put him out there when he’s 100 percent ready.”

The 2017 Pro Bowler had nine tackles, an interception and two passes defensed in 69 snaps while fighting through the injury in the season opener. He posted 138 tackles, three interceptions and 10 passes defensed last season.

He is one of three Falcons defensive starters to hit injured reserve this season, along with safeties Keanu Neal (torn ACL) and Ricardo Allen (torn Achilles). Neither Neal nor Allen will return this year.

Atlanta can recall one more player from IR this season. Running back Devonta Freeman is considered a possible candidate once he is eligible in Week 16.

To make room for Jones on the roster, the Falcons waived offensive lineman Rees Odhiambo, who was signed for depth in late October but has not appeared in a game for Atlanta.

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Bucs to start Fitzpatrick again in Week 11

Bucs to start Fitzpatrick again in Week 11

Bucs to start Fitzpatrick again in Week 11

Ryan Fitzpatrick will remain the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ starting quarterback for Week 11 against the New York Giants, head coach Dirk Koetter announced Monday.

“I just think he still gives us the best opportunity right now,” Koetter said of Fitzpatrick, who topped 400 yards for the fourth time in six starts on Sunday against the Washington Redskins but also threw two interceptions and lost a fumble.

When asked how long Fitzpatrick will remain the starter, Koetter replied, “Until we change… I don’t know. A guy could get hurt at any time.”

Asked about the importance of evaluating previous starter Jameis Winston as he approaches his fifth-year option in 2019, Koetter indicated the team is still focused on winning and competing this season.

“I understand that, but we’re right in there,” Koetter said. “It’s just barely past the halfway point in the season and there’s a lot of football to be played. I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility that we can turn this thing and get on a little bit of a win streak.”

He also lamented turnovers, which have been an issue with both Fitzpatrick (10) and Winston (11), leaving Tampa Bay with a turnover ratio of minus-19, worst in the NFL by six.

Fitzpatrick, who turns 36 on Nov. 24, finished Sunday 29 of 41 for 406 yards, plus the three turnovers.

The Bucs became the first team since at least 1940 to gain more than 500 total yards (they had 501) and score fewer than six points. They lost 16-3 to Washington while committing four turnovers, all inside the opponent’s 30-yard line.

It was Koetter’s first game calling plays since early in the season, as offensive coordinator Todd Monken had been handling the job. Koetter said he hasn’t made a decision who will call plays against the Giants.

Meanwhile, kicker Chandler Catanzaro was released on Monday after missing wide right from 30 yards and 48 yards against Washington.

Catanzaro, 27, made 11 of 15 on field-goal attempts in nine games and also missed four extra-point attempts (23 of 27) after joining Tampa Bay on a three-year, $9.75 million deal in the spring.

The team has yet to sign a replacement kicker.

–Field Level Media

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Panthers RB McCaffrey’s rise led to Anderson’s demise

Panthers RB McCaffrey's rise led to Anderson's demise

Atlanta

Panthers RB McCaffrey’s rise led to Anderson’s demise

Atlanta Falcons: Linebacker Deion Jones is eligible to be activated off injured reserve but there isn’t yet an indication that the Pro Bowler will be in uniform this Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys. Jones suffered a foot injury in the Week 1 game against the Philadelphia Eagles and coach Dan Quinn said the team plans to be cautious about the 24-year-old’s possible return. “We’ll be staying with the same format that we had last week,” Quinn said during a press conference. “As we go through the week, we’ll take it step by step and see where he’s at. Too early to make a prediction of where he could be. I know he’s eligible to be back this week, that doesn’t mean he’s ready to. We’re going to put him out there when he’s 100-percent ready.”

Carolina Panthers: Christian McCaffrey’s rise as a complete back led to the release of running back C.J. Anderson on Monday. McCaffrey has 177 offensive touches (123 rushes, 54 receptions) through nine games and that left little action for Anderson. The free-agent signee had just 24 carries with the Panthers. “When we signed C.J. in the spring he saw a bigger role than he has had, and honestly, at the time so did we,” general manager Marty Hurney said in a statement. “But Christian McCaffrey has taken so much of the offense and so much of the plays, we just made the decision that this was the best thing for all parties involved.”

New Orleans Saints: Brandon Marshall finished second during workouts last week when New Orleans signed receiver Dez Bryant. But the Achillies injury Bryant suffered in his second practice opened the door and Marshall is now a member of the Saints. Coach Sean Payton told reporters on Monday that he liked Marshall’s team workout. “He moved around well. Smart, he is experienced,” Payton said. “He is someone, again, that has been in a number of systems and overall had a good workout. He has good length and size. He’s another big target. We’ll see how it goes here this week and what our plans are.” The 34-year-old Marshall has 970 career receptions but only 29 have come over the past two seasons. He had 11 catches in seven games for the Seattle Seahawks earlier this season before being released.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: As the team’s playoff aspirations continue to dwindle, coach Dirk Koetter said Ryan Fitzpatrick will again be the starting quarterback when the team faces the New York Giants on Sunday. Koetter appears to want to stick with Fitzpatrick over Jameis Winston as long as there is a chance of going on a run. “I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility that we can turn this thing and get on a little bit of a win streak,” Koetter told reporters. Fitzpatrick passed for 406 yards in last Sunday’s 16-3 loss to the Washington Redskins but the team was unable to find the end zone. Kicker Chandler Catanzaro missed field goals of 30 and 48 yards and the team released him on Monday.

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Report: Patriots WR Edelman avoids serious injury

Report: Patriots WR Edelman avoids serious injury

Report: Patriots WR Edelman avoids serious injury

New England Patriots wideout Julian Edelman is not expected to miss much, if any, time due to a minor ankle injury, ESPN reported Monday.

Edelman played 54 snaps (82 percent) in Sunday’s loss to the Tennessee Titans and was limping slightly on his left leg after a pass to him on fourth-and-6 early in the fourth quarter was knocked away.

He did not play another snap, but he wasn’t the only Patriots veteran to sit, as Tom Brady was replaced by Brian Hoyer for the final two possessions with the Patriots down by 24 and just seven minutes remaining.

Edelman was one of the few bright spots for New England in its most lopsided defeat since 2014, catching nine passes for 104 yards. The 32-year-old has 40 grabs for 426 yards and two touchdowns in six games this season after missing the first four due to a PED suspension.

The Patriots have been without tight end Rob Gronkowski (back, ankle) in three of the last four games, but the offense hadn’t struggled significantly until Sunday’s setback, when it was held to just 284 yards and 10 points.

New England is entering its bye week and doesn’t play again until Nov. 25 at the New York Jets.

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Panthers waive veteran RB Anderson

Panthers waive veteran RB Anderson

The Carolina Panthers waived running back C.J. Anderson

Panthers waive veteran RB Anderson

The Carolina Panthers waived running back C.J. Anderson on Monday, giving the veteran the opportunity to latch on with a new team ahead of Week 11.

Signed to a one-year deal in the offseason after five seasons with the Denver Broncos, Anderson rushed 24 times for 104 yards in nine games this season. He also caught one pass, a 24-yard touchdown in a Week 3 win against the Cincinnati Bengals.

“When we signed C.J. in the spring he saw a bigger role than he has had, and honestly, at the time so did we,” general manager Marty Hurney said. “But Christian McCaffrey has taken so much of the offense and so much of the plays, we just made the decision that this was the best thing for all parties involved.”

McCaffrey, a second-year star, has rushed for 579 yards and four touchdowns and caught 54 passes for 439 yards and four scores.

Anderson, 27, was coming off his first 1,000-yard season last year with the Broncos. In 67 career games, he has rushed for 3,155 yards and 20 TDs.

Anderson thanked the Panthers on Twitter, writing, “No love lost. Thank you Carolina. Grind time.”

The primary backup to McCaffrey is now Cameron Artis-Payne, who has only been active in two games this season and has yet to touch the ball. A fifth-round pick in 2015, he has 99 career carries for 422 yards and four touchdowns.

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Lions looking at no-name WR corps without Jones

Lions looking at no-name WR corps without Jones

Chicago Bears:

Lions looking at no-name WR corps without Jones

Chicago Bears: Wide receiver Allen Robinson thrived against the Lions’ man-based defensive scheme and gave a preview of what he could become when healthy. “That’s what I’ve always been able to bring to the table, being able to set people up and just go out there and win those one-on-one matchups,” Robinson said. “We knew we were going to have a lot of one-on-ones because this was a man-based defense.” Head coach Matt Nagy said Robinson’s importance to quarterback Mitchell Trubisky cannot be overstated. Because of his size and reach, the Bears view Robinson as a security blanket and much more. “He is just so hard to cover one-on-one,” Trubisky said. “He just knows how to use his body and run great routes that create separation. And when the ball’s in the air, it’s 12’s ball.”cd

Detroit Lions: Wide receiver Marvin Jones avoided a major injury, the Detroit News reported Monday night, but could miss time with a bone bruise in his knee. While not the worst possible news, it’s a tough blow for the Lions on the heels of trading Golden Tate to the Philadelphia Eagles. Jones feared he might have suffered a ligament tear, but ESPN reported the ACL, MCL and all tendons were intact. Jones has 35 receptions for 508 yards and a team-leading five touchdowns. Without Jones, the Lions could be looking at Bruce Ellington — signed as a street free agent after the Tate trade — or rookie Brandon Powell as the No. 3 receiver against the Carolina Panthers. Running back Theo Riddick has spent time at slot receiver the last two weeks.

Green Bay Packers: There was little time to celebrate Sunday night after beating the Miami Dolphins as the Packers get ready to hit the road for a Thursday night date with the Seattle Seahawks. Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine has mixed blitz packages and coverage to improve the pass rush, and head coach Mike McCarthy said the Packers will need every creative morsel Pettine can dig up to slow Russell Wilson. Green Bay has 15 players with at least half a sack and is tied for the NFL lead with 31 sacks. “We’ve just been hungry and trying to fight for opportunities to get after the passer,” Packers defensive tackle Kenny Clark said. “I’m not surprised by it, though, honestly. It’s not like a big shock to me because I feel like we’ve got good players and I feel like we’ve got some guys that are hungry for opportunities that are trying to make plays.”

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Jaguars C Linder (knee) out for season

Jaguars C Linder (knee) out for season

Jaguars C Linder (knee) out for season

Jacksonville Jaguars center Brandon Linder needs surgery on his knee and will miss the rest of the season, head coach Doug Marrone announced Monday.

Linder went down in the third quarter against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. He walked off the field but was carted to the locker room and did not return.

The 26-year-old is the NFL’s second- highest-paid center at $10.3 million annually. A third-round pick in 2014, he missed 19 games due to injury over his first four seasons but started every game in which he was healthy.

Tyler Shatley, a reserve who made four starts in each of the last two seasons, replaced Linder on Sunday and will start moving forward.

“That’s why he’s on the team,” Marrone said of Shatley. “We have him on the team to be the backup center. We feel we can win with him as a backup center. We expect him to go out there and play winning football for us.”

Chris Reed, a third-year undrafted free agent, is now the backup center.

The Jaguars’ line was already without left tackle Cam Robinson (torn ACL) and swing tackle Josh Wells (groin, IR). Ereck Flowers, who was signed midseason and rotated with Josh Walker at left tackle in his Jaguars debut Sunday, left the game with knee tendinitis but is not expected to miss significant time.

“There were a couple of things I really liked,” Marrone said of Flowers, a former first-round pick of the Giants. “I thought in the run game he did some good things. Pass rush-wise, once I found out the knee was bothering him it’s tough to evaluate. We were happy to get him in there.”

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Ravens’ Harbaugh calls job drama ‘BS’

Ravens' Harbaugh calls job drama 'BS'

Baltimore Ravens: It was an unusual

Ravens’ Harbaugh calls job drama ‘BS’

Baltimore Ravens: It was an unusual week at the team’s Owings Mills headquarters, and the abnormalities went way beyond the Ravens being on a bye week. Reports circulated in a span of 72 hours that coach John Harbaugh was ready to bow out of Baltimore in a mutual split with the team, and that quarterback Joe Flacco might not play this week because of a hip injury. Harbaugh spent more time than he cared to talking about his status, summing up his feelings by saying, “It’s all BS. Let’s play the game. We have a game Sunday. We have to go win it.” Harbaugh wouldn’t say whether Flacco was good to go against the Cincinnati Bengals. As the needle skipped back to his standing with the Ravens, Harbaugh cut it off. “That stuff doesn’t matter,” he said. “It’s just noise; it doesn’t matter. It’s not something I’m going to think about or concern myself with.”

Cincinnati Bengals: Players were raging Sunday night after a loss Preston Brown called “embarrassing” and defensive end Michael Johnson said was a “look in the mirror loss” to the Saints, who scored touchdowns on their first five possessions and hung 52 on Cincinnati. The result was dismissing defensive coordinator Teryl Austin on Monday, as the Bengals attempt to regroup on the fly and avoid giving up 500-plus yards for an NFL-record fourth game in a row. “I will be coordinating the defense from here on out and I am excited to do that. This football team has a real chance to get back to playing winning football so we can compete for the playoffs, and that is our sole focus,” head coach Marvin Lewis said.

Cleveland Browns: With four overtime games in the first 10 weeks, the Browns are thrilled to get a break with the upcoming bye. Interim head coach said a rest period this late in the season is not common, but nonetheless welcomed in Cleveland. Williams told players to get away without losing focus. “Getting healthier, getting the body to feel better and stronger and getting the mind cleared up a little bit because we all need a little break away from some things,” Williams said. “It is a good time for this to happen right now. We have to make sure that it is right when we get back and not take any steps back.”

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Cowboys’ Jones ‘didn’t dream we’d be in this spot’

Cowboys' Jones 'didn’t dream we’d be in this spot'

Dallas Cowboys: Throughout the week, there was gloom and doom about

Cowboys’ Jones ‘didn’t dream we’d be in this spot’

Dallas Cowboys: Throughout the week, there was gloom and doom about the Cowboys, questions about the futures of both head coach Jason Garrett and quarterback Dak Prescott. After a hard-fought win Sunday night over the Philadelphia Eagles, owner/general manager Jerry Jones said the win was a big one, but much work remains to right the ship of the 4-5 Cowboys. “To get it done was particularly rewarding,” Jones said after the 27-20 win, per the team website. “I emphasize the respect I have for the (Eagles) team, the coach and organization. As rewarding as this is, we’ve still got a lot of accountability to do here. I didn’t dream we’d be in this spot when we started this season. I had this thing set up differently in my mind. But as everything, you’ve got to realize it never comes the way you’ve got it in your mind.”

New York Giants: General manager Dave Gettleman appears to be planning for the end of the Eli Manning era. Gettleman and assistant Kevin Abrams were in Salt Lake City on Saturday to watch Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert against Utah. Herbert, a junior, likely would be one of the first players chosen in April’s NFL draft, should he enter. Representatives of the Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills, Dallas Cowboys, Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers and Arizona Cardinals also were on hand, and the Denver Broncos have been seen scouting Herbert previously. Herbert has not announced his intentions. Oregon fell to Utah, but the NFL brass got a good look at the 6-foot-6 Herbert, who completed 20 of 33 passes for 288 yards and three touchdowns.

Philadelphia Eagles: Head coach Doug Pederson said he knew going into Sunday night’s game at Dallas that the defense would be tested, especially by running back Ezekiel Elliott. “One of the things I think we knew coming into this game was that we were going to get a steady diet of the run game. Zeke is a big back. He’s a powerful back,” he said, according to the team website. “I thought overall we didn’t tackle great. That’s one of the areas that we’ve got to get better at is tackling. Tackling in space, tackling in the box, and making sure we get the guys on the ground. There were too many yards after contact and things like that, and those are areas that we have to concentrate on.” It won’t get any easier next week, when the Eagles travel to New Orleans to meet Drew Brees and the 8-1 Saints.

Washington Redskins: Quarterback Alex Smith had to introduce himself to his offensive line this week. After all, the team signed three offensive linemen to bolster the injury-depleted front. Head coach Jay Gruden was impressed by their performance in a 16-3 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. “They held up pretty good,” Gruden said, according to the Washington Times. “It has a little bit of an effect when you’re putting the game plan together, you think you’ll be fine, but on game day when you look at [defensive tackle Gerald] McCoy and look at some of the pass rushers that they have, it has a little bit of an effect on making sure Alex is protected, so we were probably a little conservative early.” Behind the revamped offensive line, the Redskins averaged 4.6 yards per rush. Smith was sacked three times.

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Chargers LB Perryman out for season

Chargers LB Perryman out for season

Chargers LB Perryman out for season

Los Angeles Chargers linebacker Denzel Perryman will miss the rest of the season with a left knee injury that will require surgery, head coach Anthony Lynn confirmed Monday.

Perryman injured his lateral collateral ligament on the second play from scrimmage Sunday against the Oakland Raiders. NFL Network reports he likely needs hamstring surgery, and his recovery is expected to take three to four months, meaning he should be ready for offseason workouts.

“That was definitely a blow to our defense,” Lynn said. “(Denzel is) very frustrated right now. All he can do now is get healthy, have a good attitude, go to rehab every day and help his teammates the best he can.”

Perryman, who turns 26 in December, is set to hit free agency in March. He has battled injury issues throughout his career, missing 15 games through his first three seasons after the Chargers took him in the second round of the 2015 draft.

When on the field, Perryman has been productive, totaling 233 tackles, four sacks, two interceptions and four passes defensed in 42 games (35 starts). He is tied for second on the team with 51 tackles this season while playing 64.7 percent of the defensive snaps, most of any linebacker on the team.

“Denzel is a starter for a reason,” Lynn said. “Our rush defense is a lot better with Denzel in there. We’re going to have to pick it up collectively as a group now.”

Jatavis Brown (48.2 percent) has been the next-most used linebacker, as the Chargers have favored dime packages featuring three safeties in Derwin James, Jahleel Addae and Adrian Phillips. No other Chargers linebacker has played more than 25 percent of the snaps, and recently re-signed Hayes Pullard is listed as the backup middle linebacker.

“He did a heck of a job stepping up last year and playing the Mike position when Denzel was out,” Lynn said of Pullard. “He’ll get another opportunity.”

Rookie Kyzir White (142 snaps in just three games) is already on injured reserve after having knee surgery.

The Chargers also have been without standout defensive end Joey Bosa (foot) all season.

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