Bears’ Mitchell Trubisky aims for repeat after breakout game

Bears' Mitchell Trubisky aims for repeat after breakout game

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky will wear a protective sleeve on his throwing arm again Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.

Why change up anything when you’re hot?

Coming off his biggest game in the NFL with six touchdown passes, Trubisky wants to begin achieving the consistency needed to keep the Bears (3-1) atop the NFC North.

“It definitely gave me confidence, but I think just looking back on it, it was just like any other win for the Bears,” Trubisky said. “It’s important. We got better that week. I felt like I got better that week in my growth and development.

“And this is a new week to continue to take another step and grow and get better.”

Trubisky had to laugh at fan suggestions that the protective arm sleeve he wore against Tampa Bay had anything to do with his 354-yard passing effort.

“I had a little cut on my arm a few weeks ago, and then it reopened in Arizona on the first drive and was just gushing everywhere,” Trubisky said. “And I didn’t want that to happen, and I covered it up (against Tampa Bay).

“And then you play pretty well, some superstition, call it what you want. I also got a lot of threats (from fans) that I have to wear it. Yeah I’m going to keep it on. We’ll see what the color is, but it feels comfortable, gives me a little more swag or whatever.”

Trubisky’s passer rating vaulted from 77.8 to 101.6 after his big game. Until then, he’d never had more than two touchdown passes in a game. Now he’s had a bye week to move on from the effort.

Bears coach Matt Nagy anticipates Trubisky’s head won’t be turned by one week of success.

“When you have a good game, it naturally gives you confidence,” Nagy said. “What you have to make sure you prevent is making sure that you (don’t) get complacent with that and think it’s just going to happen every week, because it’s not.”

Nagy hopes Trubisky handles it like the Chiefs’ Alex Smith did last year. When Nagy was Chiefs offensive coordinator, Smith went on from a big season-opening win over New England to have a strong, steady year.

“And that’s a veteran quarterback that’s been in the league for a long time and he knows how to handle that,” Nagy said. “So I can use that to help Mitch in these situations. But the best part of all this is I don’t really need to do that, because that’s just who he is.”

Nagy said Trubisky rarely gets his head turned by success or failure anyway, and it apparently affects teammates.

“It’s really impressive,” tight end Trey Burton said. “It’s one of the hardest things to do is focus on the next play, to not get too high or get too low on a past play. He does a great job with that and we all see it.”

It’s one reason Nagy thinks Trubisky shrugged off his early struggles in the new Bears offense.

“So he’s not going to change because he had one good game, he’s going to try to continue to make that a consistent process,” Nagy said.

Trubisky thinks he has a predisposition toward consistency.

“One, I think it’s part of my personality, and then two, it’s kind of like practice — something I’ve done for a really long time, really remain the same person and same emotional level throughout the games,” Trubisky said. “Never get too high, never get too low, being that even-keeled guy, just trying to convey to my teammates I’m always in control.”

If Trubisky needs a reminder of how difficult it can be for a quarterback, he’s getting it from watching game films of the Dolphins this week.

The Tampa Bay defense Trubisky beat badly is ranked last against the pass. But Miami leads the NFL in interceptions with 10, including three by cornerback Xavien Howard.

“Whether it’s opportunistic or skill or whether it’s a combination of both, they’re around the football,” Nagy said. “And to have 10 interceptions in this league, three by Howard, they’re a good football team, a good defense, and they make plays.”

Dealing with success is something Trubisky and the Bears as a team could get used to.

“It’s a whole new, different feeling, and for those of us who were here last year, especially for myself, it’s so much better coming into the building, being excited about going to work, about practicing with these guys,” Trubisky said. “Even in the film room and meetings, everyone is just that much more locked-in and loves what they do and is hungry to get better week after week.

“I guess that’s a byproduct of winning, and it’s something we just want to continue to keep going and keep growing and getting better.”

NOTES: Wide receiver Anthony Miller returned to full participation at practice Wednesday after missing the last game with a dislocated shoulder suffered Sept. 23 against Arizona. … CB Prince Amukamara practiced on a limited basis after missing the Sept. 30 win over Tampa Bay. … G Eric Kush was limited in practice due to a neck injury. … CB Marcus Cooper missed practice due to a pulled hamstring.

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Khalil Mack questionable for Bears’ game with Patriots

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — Bears linebacker Khalil Mack must wait until just before game time to learn if he gets a chance to rush New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady at Soldier Field.

Mack played through an ankle injury in Chicago's last game, a 31-28 loss to Miami. On Friday, he practiced for the

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — Bears linebacker Khalil Mack must wait until just before game time to learn if he gets a chance to rush New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady at Soldier Field.

Mack played through an ankle injury in Chicago’s last game, a 31-28 loss to Miami. On Friday, he practiced for the first time this week, although on a limited basis. Bears coach Matt Nagy says he thought Mack “moved around pretty good.”

Mack is listed as questionable for Sunday. Nagy says team medical personnel will monitor how he bounces back from Friday’s practice.

Mack has played in 70 straight games and has never missed a start.

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Sproles among several Eagles out Sunday with injuries

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Philadelphia Eagles running back Darren Sproles will miss his sixth straight game because of a hamstring injury, and cornerback Sidney Jones and safety Corey Graham are also out for Sunday's game against Carolina.

Linebackers D.J. Alexander (quadriceps) and Nathan Gerry (ankle, knee) also won't play when the Eagles (3-3) host

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Philadelphia Eagles running back Darren Sproles will miss his sixth straight game because of a hamstring injury, and cornerback Sidney Jones and safety Corey Graham are also out for Sunday’s game against Carolina.

Linebackers D.J. Alexander (quadriceps) and Nathan Gerry (ankle, knee) also won’t play when the Eagles (3-3) host the Panthers (3-2). Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (calf) was listed as questionable on Friday’s injury report.

Sproles was injured in the season opener. Jones suffered a hamstring injury last week. Graham hurt his hamstring in Week 5.

The Eagles have already lost starting running back Jay Ajayi and safety Rodney McLeod to season-ending knee injuries.

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Beckham doesn’t like losing, questions on owner or H2O

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — There are a lot of things Odell Beckham Jr. doesn't like these days.

It starts off with losing and the New York Giants' 1-5 record. He doesn't like the continual questions about his recent ESPN interview in which he criticized the team's energy on the field and its offensive schemes.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — There are a lot of things Odell Beckham Jr. doesn’t like these days.

It starts off with losing and the New York Giants’ 1-5 record. He doesn’t like the continual questions about his recent ESPN interview in which he criticized the team’s energy on the field and its offensive schemes.

New York Giants co-owner John Mara saying earlier this week the NFL’s highest -paid receiver needs to make more headlines on the field than off didn’t draw much of a response.

And there’s one more thing. Despite cramping in two of the last three games and needing IVs, Beckham isn’t a big fan of water.

Go figure?

Beckham hit all those topics Friday before the Giants practiced for Monday night’s game in Atlanta against the disappointing and banged-up Falcons (2-4).

The hot topic was Beckham’s reaction to Mara’s criticism. It was the first time the owner had spoken publicly since Beckham’s ill-advised comments in an interview before a game against Carolina on Oct. 7.

“I respect and value his opinion, obviously, so that’s what we’re going to do,” said Beckham, who added he has not spoken to Mara specifically about the owner’s comments. “Like I said, focus on Atlanta right now and that’s really it.”

Beckham reiterated he has no regrets for his comments in the ESPN interview, noting he tries not to have any regrets in life. He refused to say whether the team fined him.

His biggest concern was the Giants’ record and what he and his teammates could do to change things.

“We need to start winning games and everybody needs to pick it up,” Beckham said. “I need to play better. I can’t say that I’ve had my best season. I can’t say that I’ve done enough to help this team win and I need to do more. Everybody needs to do more. Everybody’s got to pick it up. We win games together, we lose them together. There’s no other way around it. It’s a team sport.”

Beckham’s faith in beleaguered quarterback Eli Manning has not wavered. He said he stands in the huddle all the time and tells Manning, “Take me home, 10.”

“He knows what he’s doing,” the 25-year-old said of the two-time Super Bowl MVP. “He’s the most prepared of anybody I’ve ever seen and that’s exactly what I say, ‘Take me home,’ so we’re going to start picking it up. We got to. We have no other choice.”

While he has only one touchdown catch, Beckham leads the team with 45 receptions for 506 yards.

Beckham said a couple of wins before the bye week would do a lot to reduce the focus on the negative things surrounding the team, which came into the year under new coach Pat Shurmur looking to rebound from a 3-13 season.

The Giants have had 11 days to prepare for this game and Beckham used some of the time to take a step back and clear his head. He’s back in football mode.

“You work 10 hours a day, I say this all the time, 10 hours a day for 60 minutes of football,” he said. “Those 60 minutes are crucial, so we need to take advantage of every minute of it.”

Coincidentally, Beckham has missed a couple of minutes in two of the last three days because he needed an IV after becoming dehydrated.

“I really don’t like water,” he said matter-of-factly. “I’m trying, I just really don’t like when you get that stomach feeling, it’s all slushy, like I’m trying to stay hydrated. Sometimes I just got to get an IV, it’s just necessary. You’re cramping in both calves, it’s hard to run and make cuts and if you’re cramping and dehydrated, you’re susceptible to something else, so I’m trying to stay on top of it the best that I can.”

NOTES: LT Nate Solder and WR Russell Shepard were limited in practice for the second straight day with neck problems. … WR/KR Jawill Davis did not practice Friday because of a concussion. … The Giants signed receiver Corey Coleman to their practice squad. He was the 15th overall selection by the Browns in the 2016 draft. Cleveland traded him to the Buffalo Bills, who released him on Sept. 1. He spent 10 days with the Patriots before being waived. … WR Kalif Raymond was released from the practice squad.

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Browns’ Garrett rips officials after rash of bad calls

BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Browns defensive end Myles Garrett roughed up NFL officials.

The No. 1 overall pick unloaded on officials on Friday, criticizing them for several calls that have gone against Cleveland in recent weeks and swung momentum in their games.

"Do your job just like we need to do our job," Garrett said.

BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Browns defensive end Myles Garrett roughed up NFL officials.

The No. 1 overall pick unloaded on officials on Friday, criticizing them for several calls that have gone against Cleveland in recent weeks and swung momentum in their games.

“Do your job just like we need to do our job,” Garrett said. “If it’s holding, call holding. If it’s a false start, false start, whether it’s us or them.”

Garrett spoke out unafraid of any consequences from the league, which is sensitive about players criticizing its officiating crews.

“If I get fined, so be it,” he said. “Something needs to be said. If it keeps on going this way, this route, where it seems like we keep on getting the short stick.”

Garrett has issues with a number of calls, but he was particularly peeved about a play in the second quarter of last Sunday’s 38-14 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.

With the Chargers driving, Los Angeles left tackle Russell Okung clearly moved and dropped into pass protection before the ball was snapped. Garrett stopped rushing Okung, and several other players slowed in anticipation of a whistle. But nothing was called, the play continued and Philip Rivers threw a 29-yard touchdown pass.

So what should have been a false start instead became a touchdown.

“It was so obvious,” Garrett said. “To my mind, he’s moved, nobody else has moved and the ball hasn’t moved, so it’s kinda textbook. The flag should be up. I don’t understand how you don’t see it. That’s his job is to look down the line and see when people are jumping offside or false starting, but I’ve got to keep on finishing the play.”

And while the score put the Chargers up by 18 in a game they’d win by 24, Garrett said a different outcome on the play could have changed things.

“Momentum matters in the game,” he said. “No doubt. And a six-point turnaround, a seven-point turnaround like that where it could’ve been a sack or maybe a forced fumble if you keep on playing, or just a no play at all, to a touchdown, that’s a huge difference. There were a couple missed calls like that, and that’s not on Okung, he’s just doing his job.

“It’s on the ref and to him to have that kind of integrity to call that play when it comes.”

Garrett also referenced the Sept. 30 game at Oakland when a strip sack of Derek Carr was nullified by a quick whistle. The Browns scooped the apparent fumble and were running for a TD when the officials ruled Carr was in the grasp.

NFL senior vice president of officiating Al Riveron later acknowledged the crew made the wrong call.

Garrett said there were other instances, and he just wants there to be fairness.

“If it’s holding for them, if they’re grabbing us, if they’re turning us, if they’re trying to pull us out of a gap whether it’s a run play or a pass play, it needs to be called,” he said. “There’s no excuse for us. We need to get their hands off of us and we need to play ball, because we know they’re not going to get those kind of calls, but at the end of the day, if they see it, they need to pull the flag out.”

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FANTASY PLAYS: Burning questions for Week 7 in football

A look at some key fantasy football questions going into Week 7:

WHICH SAINTS WR WILL HAVE THE BIGGEST BOOST IN PRODUCTION WITH TED GINN ON INJURED RERSERVE?

The Saints have been high on Tre'Quan Smith since the preseason. He had 16 receptions (three for 20 yards or more) this summer, and with Ginn sidelined

A look at some key fantasy football questions going into Week 7:

WHICH SAINTS WR WILL HAVE THE BIGGEST BOOST IN PRODUCTION WITH TED GINN ON INJURED RERSERVE?

The Saints have been high on Tre’Quan Smith since the preseason. He had 16 receptions (three for 20 yards or more) this summer, and with Ginn sidelined in Week 5 he caught three passes for 111 yards and added two TDs. His two scores went for 62 and 35 yards, showing he’s a big play receiver. Although he was second on the team in routes run, in Week 5 he only received three targets.

Cameron Meredith should play most of his snaps from the slot. He might receive more targets and catch more passes than Smith, but Smith has the bigger upside. Saints receivers have a tough matchup against a good Ravens defense this week, so don’t become alarmed if neither player puts up big numbers. Both receivers should see an uptick in production but Smith has better potential for the rest of the season.

WHICH UNDER-THE-RADAR WR HAS THE BEST CHANCE FOR A BIG GAME IN WEEK 7?

Bears WR Allen Robinson has been dealing with a groin injury this week. He may not play and if he does, he might be limited. Robinson’s injury could make Taylor Gabriel Chicago’s most targeted receiver this week. Gabriel hasn’t dropped a pass since Week 3 and has two straight games with 100 receiving yards or more. The Patriots defense has given up the third most TDs to wide receivers with nine this season. Gabriel leads Bears WRs with four targets within the 10-yard line, so should have a good opportunity to score a TD in Week7.

Jets WR Jermaine Kearse could be in line for another double-digit target week vs. the Vikings. With Quincy Enunwa out, Kearse should play a significant portion of his snaps from the slot, a weakness for the Vikings defense.

WHICH UNDER-THE-RADAR RB HAS THE BEST CHANCE FOR A BIG GAME THIS WEEK?

Peyton Barber may eventually lose his starting job to rookie RB Ronald Jones but it’s not likely to happen right now. Barber’s coming off his best performance of the season, having rushed the ball 13 times for 82 yards (that’s 6.31 yards per carry). He also added four receptions for 24 yards and a TD. He has the potential to build upon that with a choice matchup against the Browns. They’ve given up 4.67 yards per carry and the second-most rushing TDs to the position this season.

Kerryon Johnson could also have a larger role out of the Lions backfield this week if Theo Riddick is forced to miss time due to his knee injury. Johnson has averaged 5.98 yards per carry in his last four games and could be featured in the Lions passing game if Riddick is out.

WHICH UNDER-THE-RADAR TE COULD BREAK OUT?

Fantasy football players have been waiting a long time for Austin Hooper to emerge as a reliable fantasy TE. Well, it looks like it’s finally happening. Hooper has caught nine passes in each of the last two weeks and has over 70 receiving yards in each of the past two outings as well. With Mohamed Sanu and Calvin Ridley battling injuries and questionable to play on Monday night, Hooper should see double-digit targets for a third straight game.

CAN YOU RECOMMEND A GOOD BUY LOW TARGET AMONG WRS?

Browns WR Jarvis Landry averaged just under seven catches per game through Week 3. He’s maintained an average of 11 targets per game, but since Week 3 his has just over four catches per game.

Now he gets a very favorable schedule over the next four weeks, facing the Buccaneers, Steelers, Chiefs and Falcons. All four of those teams are top 6 in most yards per game yielded to slot receivers. If you own Landry, use him with confidence starting this week. If you don’t, his two catch for 11-yard Week 6 performance might allow you to trade for him at a discount.

IF DALVIN COOK IS ACTIVE FOR WEEK 7 SHOULD HE BE IN STARTING LINEUPS?

Cook’s status (hamstring) needs to be closely monitored as game time approaches but even if he’s active, if you have an alternate option, you should use it. Leading up to Week 6, Cook’s practice status was as both a limited and full participant, he was also questionable, then likely to play and finally inactive. With the constant uncertainty surrounding his availability and the number of snaps he’ll play if active, try to minimize your risk and slip another RB into your lineup if possible.

IS IT TOO LATE TO TRY TO TRADE STEELERS RB JAMES CONNER?

No. It never hurts to put a player with Conner’s skill set on the trading block and allow offers to come your way. The potential impending arrival of Le’Veon Bell could drive down Conner’s fantasy trade appeal, but if and when Bell reports, he’s probably not going to be able to take on a full workload for a couple of weeks.

If Bell reports and is activated for Week 8 he’d probably suit up, but it might take until Week 10 before he can possibly work as a bell cow back again. It could even still be a time share. Don’t be too surprised if Conner retains a significant role in the Steelers offense.

Gauge his value if you have another feasible option at RB that you can slide into your weekly lineup. If you don’t, continue to use Conner until he’s no longer a surefire starter.

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Pats’ Gronkowski tops AP’s list of top NFL tight ends

NEW YORK (AP) — Rob Gronkowski is a difficult man to stop.

Just ask the Kansas City Chiefs.

The latest example was Sunday night, when the Patriots tight end had two key catches in the fourth quarter as New England edged the Chiefs 43-40.

He has caught 76 TD passes from Tom Brady in his

NEW YORK (AP) — Rob Gronkowski is a difficult man to stop.

Just ask the Kansas City Chiefs.

The latest example was Sunday night, when the Patriots tight end had two key catches in the fourth quarter as New England edged the Chiefs 43-40.

He has caught 76 TD passes from Tom Brady in his career.

“He made a big play. He’s been making a lot of those his career,” Brady said. “I’ll keep throwing to him in the biggest moments.”

Because of his knack for coming through when needed most, Gronkowski was the runaway choice as the NFL’s top tight end by a panel of 10 football writers for The Associated Press. The All-Pro received eight first-place votes in balloting released Friday.

“He hasn’t played in all 16 games since 2011, but when he’s on the field he’s still essentially unstoppable,” said Minnesota-based AP Football Writer Dave Campbell.

Kansas City’s Travis Kelce was second. He has 33 catches for 468 yards and three touchdowns for the Chiefs, who are off to a 5-1 start entering Sunday night’s matchup against Cincinnati.

“Kelce is already just a notch behind Gronkowski and could top this list soon while playing in Kansas City’s high-flying offense with Patrick Mahomes throwing him the ball,” said New York-based AP Football Writer Dennis Waszak Jr.

Zach Ertz of the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles was third. He leads tight ends with 48 catches for 480 yards.

“One wonders if Wentz-Ertz will be a household combo along the lines of Brady-Gronk five years from now,” said Dallas-based AP Football Writer Schuyler Dixon. “It’s lofty company, but the pieces are in place.”

Green Bay’s Jimmy Graham was fourth. He has 27 catches for 349 yards and a touchdown in his first season with the Packers.

“Aaron Rodgers sure knows what to do with a tight end like Graham,” said Nashville-based AP Football Writer Teresa Walker.

Graham edged out Carolina’s Greg Olsen, who has been dealing with injuries the past two seasons. After Olsen, Minnesota’s Kyle Rudolph finished sixth.

Tennessee’s Delanie Walker, who is also hurt and out for the season with a broken leg, still managed to finish seventh.

“It’s a shame he is injured, and the flop of the Titans’ offense has a lot to do with his absence,” said New York-based AP Football Writer Barry Wilner.

Eric Ebron, who has six touchdowns, has been a bright spot for the Colts in his first season in Indianapolis. He finished eighth.

“He’s become a go-to guy in the red zone for Andrew Luck,” Philadelphia-based AP Football Writer Rob Maaddi said.

Veteran Jared Cook, who’s third among tight ends with 32 receptions, was ninth.

“Might be the only bright spot in Oakland right now,” said Denver-based AP Football Writer Arnie Stapleton of the one-win Raiders.

Rounding out the top 10 was San Francisco’s George Kittle. The 2017 fifth-round pick is tied for sixth among tight ends with 27 catches.

“Kittle has emerged from being primarily a blocking tight end in college at Iowa to a real dual threat for the 49ers,” Bay Area-based AP Football Writer Josh Dubow said.

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The rankings:

1. Rob Gronkowski, New England

2. Travis Kelce, Kansas City

3. Zach Ertz, Philadelphia

4. Jimmy Graham, Green Bay

5. Greg Olsen, Carolina

6. Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota

7. Delanie Walker, Tennessee

8. Eric Ebron, Indianapolis

9. Jared Cook, Oakland

10. George Kittle, San Francisco

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What to Look For – Week 7 Wide Receivers/Kickers

PRESS RELEASE
 
Indianapolis kicker ADAM VINATIERI has scored 2,535 total points during his 23-year NFL career. With 10 points on Sunday against Buffalo (1:00 PM ET, CBS), Vinatieri would surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer MORTEN ANDERSEN (2,544 points) as
PRESS RELEASE
 
Indianapolis kicker ADAM VINATIERI has scored 2,535 total points during his 23-year NFL career. With 10 points on Sunday against Buffalo (1:00 PM ET, CBS), Vinatieri would surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer MORTEN ANDERSEN (2,544 points) as the league’s all-time leading scorer.
 
The players with the most points scored in NFL history:
 
PLAYER
TEAM(S)
TOTAL POINTS SCORED
Morten Andersen*
New Orleans, Atlanta, New York Giants, Kansas City, Minnesota
2,544
Adam Vinatieri
New England, Indianapolis
2,535
*Pro Football Hall of Famer
 
BIG PLAY TYREEK: Kansas City wide receiver TYREEK HILL had seven receptions for 142 yards and three touchdowns, including a 75-yarder, in Week 6 and ties for the league-lead with six touchdown receptions in 2018.
 
Hill, who turns 25 in March of 2019, has 14 career touchdowns of at least 50 yards. With his next touchdown of at least 50 yards, he would become the third player in NFL history with at least 15 touchdowns of 50+ yards before turning 25 years old.
 
The players with the most 50+ yard touchdowns before turning 25 years old in NFL history:
 
PLAYER
TEAM
SEASONS
Gale Sayers*
Chicago
16
Randy Moss*
Minnesota
15
Tyreek Hill
Kansas City
14**
*Pro Football Hall of Famer
**24 years old
 
AMAZING ADAM: Minnesota wide receiver ADAM THIELEN had 11 catches for 123 yards and a touchdown in the Vikings’ Week 6 win and leads the league with 58 receptions and 712 receiving yards this season. His 58 catches are the most by a player in his team’s first six games of a season in league annals.
 
Thielen has recorded at least 100 receiving yards in each of Minnesota’s first six games this season and joined CHARLEY HENNIGAN (seven consecutive games in 1961) as the only players in NFL history with 100 or more receiving yards in each of his team’s first six games to start a season.
 
With 100 receiving yards on Sunday at the New York Jets (1:00 PM ET, FOX), Thielen would become the fifth player to record seven consecutive games at any point in a season with at least 100 receiving yards in NFL history.
 
The players with the most consecutive games with at least 100 receiving yards in NFL history:
 
PLAYER
TEAM
SEASON
CONSECUTIVE GAMES WITH 100+ REC. YARDS
Calvin Johnson
Detroit
2012
8
Demaryius Thomas
Denver
2014
7
Michael Irvin*
Dallas
1995
7
Charley Hennigan
Houston Oilers
1961
7
Adam Thielen
Minnesota
2018
6*
*Pro Football Hall of Famer
**Active streak
Courtesy of NFL Communications
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Old friends Shanahan, McVay square off when 49ers face Rams

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan arrived as head coaches in the NFC West together last year as longtime friends and colleagues tasked with revitalizing struggling franchises.

McVay has done a much quicker job overhauling the Los Angeles Rams than Shanahan has with the San Francisco 49ers. The teams headed in

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan arrived as head coaches in the NFC West together last year as longtime friends and colleagues tasked with revitalizing struggling franchises.

McVay has done a much quicker job overhauling the Los Angeles Rams than Shanahan has with the San Francisco 49ers. The teams headed in opposite directions meet for the first time this season on Sunday when the Rams (6-0) hope to remain the NFL’s only unbeaten team when they visit the struggling 49ers (1-5).

McVay credits Shanahan for his success, pointing to his four years as an assistant in Washington when Shanahan was offensive coordinator for much of his development.

“I wouldn’t really say it was a give and take,” McVay said. “It was more me taking information from him, and him a lot of giving. I think more than anything, just being committed to an identity. The way he prepared was so impressive. The way that he saw the game. His ability to make things look the same and attack defensive structures and rules and manipulate those. He’s a great coach. I learned so much from him.”

That knowledge has helped McVay build one of the NFL’s top teams with a dynamic offense led by quarterback Jared Goff and running back Todd Gurley that ranks third in scoring (32.7 points per game) and second in yards per play (7.16) after winning the NFC West last season.

The Niners haven’t had nearly as much success, winning just six games last year and struggling mightily this year after quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo went down with a season-ending knee injury in Week 3.

San Francisco showed glimpses of becoming what Shanahan envisioned with five straight wins to end last season with Garoppolo at quarterback, but the team has a 1-13 record under Shanahan when either Brian Hoyer or C.J. Beathard starts.

Beathard has shown improvement in his second year, leading San Francisco to back-to-back 400-yard games, but his seven turnovers in three starts contributed to the losses.

While the results have been different and the teams take slightly divergent approaches — the Rams preferring three-receiver sets and the 49ers relying more on a two-back offense with fullback Kyle Juszczyk — both coaches have taken what they did together in Washington to their current teams.

“He’s a good coach and a real good friend. We got to put a lot of that stuff in together,” Shanahan said. “Just like you do everywhere and everyone you work with, you’re always a product of your environment. You carry things over, you change a few things. We’ve both gone some different directions over the last few years, but when you do turn on the tape it’s very similar.”

Here are some other things to watch:

TAKE THE TOP OFF

Having a healthy Marquise Goodwin last week provided a big boost to San Francisco’s offense. He made four catches for 126 yards, including touchdowns of 67 and 30 yards in the first half. Perhaps even more importantly, his sprinter’s speed forces defenses to provide help in coverage, opening up holes in the running game and opportunities for other receivers.

“Guys are respecting his speed, and you’ve got to respect his speed,” Beathard said. “He can take the tops off of coverages, so it definitely helps having him out there.”

GOOD GURLEY

Gurley is off to a scintillating start with 870 yards from scrimmage and 11 TDs through six games. Since the merger in 1970, only two other players have reached those marks in six games: Priest Holmes for Kansas City in 2002, Emmitt Smith for Dallas in 1995. Gurley ran for 208 yards and two TDs last week in Denver. Gurley had 149 yards from scrimmage and three TDs in his only game against the Niners last year.

RUN TO DAYLIGHT

Raheem Mostert had just 13 carries since entering the NFL in 2015 before having a breakthrough performance last week for the 49ers. Mostert carried 12 times for 87 yards at Green Bay, forming a potent rushing duo with Matt Breida. San Francisco ranks third in rushing with 142.5 yards per game and a 5.12 average per carry.

FAMILY AFFAIR

The 49ers are hosting alumni weekend and will be wearing 1994 throwback jerseys to honor their last Super Bowl championship team. That team means a lot to McVay, whose grandfather, John, helped build the 49ers dynasty as general manager. Sean McVay listed several of his favorite players from that era, including Steve Young, Jerry Rice, Dexter Carter and Merton Hanks. He also said he had a Deion Sanders jersey from that 1994 season.

“It’s always weird going against them,” he said. “But you feel so fortunate just to have the family history my grandpa established and developed.”

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

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What to Look For – Week 7 Running Backs

PRESS RELEASE
 
PACE SETTER: Los Angeles Rams running back TODD GURLEY leads the NFL with 870 scrimmage yards and nine rushing touchdowns through the first six weeks of the 2018 season.
 
With 130 scrimmage yards and a touchdown on
PRESS RELEASE
 
PACE SETTER: Los Angeles Rams running back TODD GURLEY leads the NFL with 870 scrimmage yards and nine rushing touchdowns through the first six weeks of the 2018 season.
 
With 130 scrimmage yards and a touchdown on Sunday at San Francisco (4:25 PM ET, CBS), Gurley can become the fifth different player in NFL history with at least 1,000 scrimmage yards and 10 rushing touchdowns in his team’s first seven games of a season.
 
The players with at least 1,000 scrimmage yards and 10 rushing touchdowns in his team’s first seven games of a season in NFL history:
 
PLAYER
TEAM
SEASON
SCRIMMAGE YARDS
RUSH TDS
Priest Holmes
Kansas City
2004
1,017
13
Priest Holmes
Kansas City
2002
1,113
12
Terrell Davis*
Denver
1998
1,099
12
Eric Dickerson*
Los Angeles Rams
1983
1,045
12
Jim Brown*
Cleveland
1958
1,060
14
Todd Gurley
Los Angeles Rams
2018
870**
9**
 
*Pro Football Hall of Famer
**Through first six games of season
 
TOUCHDOWN DAVID: Arizona running back DAVID JOHNSON has 3,678 scrimmage yards and 39 total touchdowns in 39 career games.
 
With a touchdown on Thursday against Denver (8:20 PM ET, FOX/NFLN/Amazon Prime), Johnson can become the seventh player since 1970 with at least 40 total touchdowns in his first 40 career games.
 
The players with the most total touchdowns in their first 40 career games since 1970:
 
PLAYER
TEAM
TOUCHDOWNS
Chuck Foreman
Minnesota
45
Marcus Allen*
Los Angeles Raiders
44
Larry Johnson
Kansas City
44
Eric Dickerson*
Los Angeles Rams
42
Earl Campbell*
Houston Oilers
41
Barry Sanders*
Detroit
40
David Johnson
Arizona
   39**
*Pro Football Hall of Famer
**In 39 career games
 
KEEP IT 100: New York Giants rookie running back SAQUON BARKLEY had a career-high 229 scrimmage yards (130 rushing, 99 receiving) in Week 6. Barkley has totaled at least 100 scrimmage yards in each of his first six career games.
 
With 100 scrimmage yards on Monday at Atlanta (8:20 PM ET, ESPN), Barkley would join KAREEM HUNT (2017) as the only players in league annals with at least 100 scrimmage yards in seven consecutive games to begin their career.
 
Additionally, with 100 scrimmage yards in Week 7, Barkley would become the seventh rookie in NFL history to record seven consecutive games at any point in a season with at least 100 scrimmage yards.
 
The rookies with the most consecutive games of at least 100 scrimmage yards in NFL history:
 
PLAYER
TEAM
SEASON
CONSECUTIVE GAMES WITH 100+ SCRIMMAGE YARDS
Eric Dickerson*
Los Angeles Rams
1983
10
Edgerrin James
Indianapolis
1999
9
Kareem Hunt
Kansas City
2017
7
Kevin Jones
Detroit
2004
7
Jamal Lewis
Baltimore
2000
7
Clark Gaines
New York Jets
1976
7
Saquon Barkley
New York Giants
2018
6**
*Pro Football Hall of Famer
**Active streak
Courtesy of NFL Communications
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Brees and Saints vs Suggs and Ravens: ‘A good, fun game’

BALTIMORE (AP) — The challenge of facing one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history and the league's highest-scoring offense is precisely why 36-year-old Terrell Suggs still gets a kick out of playing football.

Suggs and the Baltimore Ravens' top-ranked defense take on Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints on Sunday in an intriguing

BALTIMORE (AP) — The challenge of facing one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history and the league’s highest-scoring offense is precisely why 36-year-old Terrell Suggs still gets a kick out of playing football.

Suggs and the Baltimore Ravens’ top-ranked defense take on Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints on Sunday in an intriguing matchup of first-place teams.

“They’re the kind of explosive offense that gives you nightmares,” Suggs said. “We get to play football against one of the premier quarterbacks. It’s going to be a good, fun game.”

Suggs had one of Baltimore’s 11 sacks last week in a 21-0 rout of Tennessee. The Ravens (4-2) are allowing an NFL-low 12.8 points and 270.8 yards per game and have given up only 12 second-half points.

“There’s really no weakness,” Brees said. “They do so many things well.”

The Saints (4-1) come off a bye with a four-game winning streak. New Orleans is averaging an NFL-best 36 points per game behind Brees, the league’s career leader in yards passing with 72,103 yards .

“It’s definitely going to be a task there, but we’re up for it,” said Suggs, a seven-time Pro Bowl linebacker. “We like this game. We get the chance to compete against as good a team as there is.”

The prospect of facing the Saints and the 39-year-old Brees is enough to make Suggs feel young again.

“He’s been here longer than me, so I won’t be the old guy,” Suggs said with a smile. “But definitely, I mean that just goes to his experience. He’s mastered his craft. He’s not showing age; he’s just one of those ferocious, deadly quarterbacks in our league.”

Brees is 0-4 lifetime against the Ravens. When the teams last played, in November 2014, Suggs had six tackles and a sack in Baltimore’s 34-27 victory.

“He’s the ageless wonder,” Brees said of Suggs. “He’s still playing at such a high level deep in his career, and man, he’s been doing it so well for so long. I’m obviously aware of that they are the only team that I haven’t beaten, but they’ve always had a great team.”

Some other things to know about the Saints-Ravens game:

DEVELOPING DEFENSE

The Saints’ defense stumbled out of the gate, but has looked markedly better in the previous two games. New Orleans yielded averages of 421 yards and 34.3 points through its first three games, but allowed fewer than 300 yards and 20 points in each of the past two.

The improvement could stem from increasing comfort within the scheme of a few new players, including veteran linebacker Demario Davis and rookie defensive end Marcus Davenport.

New Orleans has been — at least statistically — the NFL’s best against the run, allowing just 71.4 yards per game. One reason is that opponents have gone to the air on nearly two-thirds of their offensive plays against the league’s 30th-ranked pass defense.

HELLO, OLD FRIEND

Ravens wide receiver Willie Snead was once one of Brees’ favorite targets. He left for Baltimore as a restricted free agent during the offseason, and now is catching passes from Joe Flacco.

“It’s great to see him doing well and doing the things I’m sure a quarterback like Joe appreciates,” Saints coach Sean Payton said.

Snead intends to trade jerseys with Brees after the game.

“Absolutely,” Brees said. “He’s a stud, man. I love Willie.”

ELUSIVE ACHIEVEMENT

Brees is trying to become just the third QB in NFL history to defeat every team in the league, joining Brett Favre and Peyton Manning.

Now in his 13th season with the Saints after five years with the Chargers, Brees is still searching for a victory against the Ravens.

“I would love to beat these guys,” Brees said. “You always know it is going to be a slugfest.”

HOME AGAIN

Coming off a three-game road trip, the Ravens play four of the next five at home, where they’re 61-21 since coach John Harbaugh arrived in 2008.

“We get to play in front of our home fans, so that’s going to be exciting,” Suggs said. “It feels like it’s been forever since they got the opportunity to see us play.”

EMERGING TARGETS

It took three games for free-agent acquisition Cameron Meredith to make his first catch with New Orleans and four games for third-round draft choice Tre’Quan Smith to make his initial reception.

Now it appears as if they’ve got the hang of it. Smith had touchdowns of 62 and 35 yards against Washington, and Meredith had five catches for 71 yards, including a 46-yard gain. Their emergence has strengthened a receiving group led by Michael Thomas, who leads the club with 46 catches for 519 yards.

___

AP Sports Writer Brett Martel in New Orleans contributed to this report.

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Browns missing CB Gaines vs. Bucs because of concussion

BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Stopping the NFL's top-ranked passing offense got more daunting for the Browns.

Starting cornerback E.J. Gaines will miss Sunday's game at Tampa Bay because of a concussion, further challenging a Cleveland defense also without Pro Bowl linebacker Joe Schobert, who could be out several weeks with a hamstring injury.

BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Stopping the NFL’s top-ranked passing offense got more daunting for the Browns.

Starting cornerback E.J. Gaines will miss Sunday’s game at Tampa Bay because of a concussion, further challenging a Cleveland defense also without Pro Bowl linebacker Joe Schobert, who could be out several weeks with a hamstring injury.

The loss of Gaines would be tough any time, but especially this week against the high-flying Buccaneers, who are averaging 368.4 yards passing per game and have a trifecta of talented receivers in Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson and Chris Godwin.

With size and speed, Tampa Bay’s receivers stress defenses.

“Stresses the coaches, too, everybody,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said. “They are good. Make no doubt about it. We have one that is averaging 23 yards a reception (Jackson), another guy that is 14 yards per reception (Evans) and another guy that is 13 or 12, whatever he is (Goodwin).

“They all are making plays. They have all scored touchdowns. Then you throw the tight ends in there, too. They have some weapons. Guys that can score the ball. It is a big challenge for us. Have to go play well.”

Gaines only recently moved into the starting lineup after Terrance Mitchell, who started Cleveland’s first four games, was placed on injured reserve after he broke his right wrist at Oakland on Sept. 30.

Gaines practiced on Wednesday, but reported to the team’s facility Thursday with concussion-like symptoms and was placed into league protocol. Jackson doesn’t know exactly when Gaines got hurt, but said it was not during practice this week.

“These things, sometimes they flare up at different times in different ways with players,” Jackson said. “We had one of these a year ago that was a little different. Once they check them and put them into the protocol, in they go.”

With Gaines sidelined, T.J. Carrie will start on one corner opposite rookie Denzel Ward, and Briean Boddy-Calhoun will take over at nickel back.

Carrie signed a four-year, $31 million free agent contract with Cleveland in March after four seasons in Oakland. The 28-year-old Carrie started all 16 games last season and 37 during his tenure with the Raiders. He was credited with 12 tackles when the Browns played the Raiders and has 26 this season in a reserve role.

Carrie said all of Tampa Bay’s receivers are dangerous.

“It is going to be a challenge,” he said. “All of us on the back end are going to have to really bone up because they have some talented receivers with the guys that they have. It is another challenge that we have always prepared for. Week in and week out, there is always going to be a challenge with receivers in this league. So many teams in this league have No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 so for our matchup, it is about going out there and being confident in what we do.”

Cleveland’s got a major injury issue on the offensive side as well with starting center JC Tretter slowed by a high left ankle sprain.

Tretter didn’t practice again Thursday so he could get more treatment on the ankle he injured last week while blocking on a quarterback sneak in the first half of a loss to the Chargers. Tretter will test the ankle Friday, but feels positive he’s going to play.

“We will tape it up and we will see what it feels like, and we will make a good decision,” said Tretter, who is wearing a walking boot. “I still feel confident about playing on Sunday. I played with it during the game for the rest of it, and it feels better than it did at that point. I feel confident.”

NOTES: Browns offensive coordinator Todd Haley said there were plenty of teaching points for rookie QB Baker Mayfield after his shaky performance last week. Haley said it’s vital the No. 1 pick bounces back Sunday. “How we respond to that, how he (Mayfield) responds to a game like that is very, very critical,” Haley said. “It was one game of 16.” … The Browns have scored just six points in the first quarter this season, and Haley’s emphasized stronger starts. “I have told the offense very clearly that we need to do something to get the Browns going early. We can’t wait around and wait for somebody else to do it — for (DE) Myles Garrett to make a big sack/fumble or something like that. We have to do it. That is the charge this week and looking to see our guys respond.”

___

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FANTASY PLAYS: Players to start and sit for Week 7

Fantasy football in 2018 has been defined by a revival at quarterback. Entering Week 7, the position is 12 to 15 players deep with quality starters along with a handful of others who can deliver above-average numbers, depending on the matchup.

There are also those who came into the season expecting to put up monster

Fantasy football in 2018 has been defined by a revival at quarterback. Entering Week 7, the position is 12 to 15 players deep with quality starters along with a handful of others who can deliver above-average numbers, depending on the matchup.

There are also those who came into the season expecting to put up monster numbers but haven’t.

There will be more of the same at the position this week, as well as some under-the-radar backs who need to be in most lineups and a receiver who has worked his way into WR2 status.

START: Sony Michel, RB, Patriots: He’s arrived to borderline RB1 status. In his past three games, Michel is averaging 105.1 yards on a solid 4.7 yards per carry average while scoring four touchdowns. By averaging 22.1 carries a game, Michel has shattered the longtime fear of fantasy owners committing to Patriots running backs. Even against a Bears defense that is second only to the Ravens in fantasy points allowed per game to opposing running backs, Michel belongs in most lineups.

SIT: Deshaun Watson, QB, Texans: Watson looks like a quarterback with only 13 games of experience under his belt. In his past two starts, Watson has thrown three interceptions and has led the offense to only two drives that resulted in touchdowns. A lot of his issues come from the fact Houston’s running game averages just 3.9 yards per carry and has only one rushing touchdown from its backs (Watson has the only other rushing TD), a problem that will not be resolved on the road against a Jaguars D that is fourth in fewest fantasy points allowed per game to opposing quarterbacks. Better days lie ahead for Watson, but Sunday won’t be one of them.

START: John Brown, WR, Ravens: Nothing says “rebound” like facing the Saints pass defense that is the most fantasy-friendly unit against opposing receivers. Brown had only three targets last week against the Titans but should easily return to the nearly nine targets per game he had before that. New Orleans has given up 21 passes of at least 20 yards, which plays well for Brown, who had at least one catch for better than 20 yards in each game prior last week. Expect at least 2-3 shots up top to Brown, who’ll make the most of the opportunities.

SIT: Dalvin Cook, RB, Vikings: Although Cook practiced Wednesday without a hitch, the weekly saga continues for owners of Cook. He has only 10 touches over the last four games and even if he does get on the field, there’s no guarantee how many touches he’ll see. Cook could miss out on a Jets defense that is a modest 17th against the run, which means Latavius Murray owners should be ready to plug him in as either an RB2 or flex if Cook is either limited or completely unavailable.

START: Marquise Goodwin, WR, 49ers: Finally healthy, Goodwin torched the Packers for 126 yards and a pair of touchdowns on just four catches. The Rams secondary has struggled without injured All-Pro corner Aqib Talib, having allowed nine touchdown passes in the last four games. Expect Goodwin — who has just 14 targets all season — to approach double digits in a game where the 49ers will likely be playing catch-up. Niners quarterback C.J. Beathard has thrown two touchdown passes in three straight games and is likely to keep that streak if he gets Goodwin involved from the outset.

SIT: Jordan Howard, RB, Bears: Howard has just one touchdown thus far and has become almost nonexistent in the Chicago passing game. Tarik Cohen continues to eat away into his snaps and Howard’s 3.5 yards per carry only makes using him tougher. Even though the Patriots are a middle of the road run defense (18th overall), Howard probably deserves to be benched, especially in PPR formats.

START: C.J. Uzomah, TE, Bengals: Uzomah is a big, athletic target who has caught eight of the nine passes thrown in his direction the past two games and gets a chance to make his fantasy mark against a Chiefs defense that is 30th in fantasy points allowed per game to opposing tight ends. Kansas City last in passing yards allowed, and if they become too focused on stopping receivers A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd, Uzomah will have the middle of the field to himself for much of Sunday night. He’s likely available in most leagues.

SIT: Evan Engram, TE, Giants: Everything is pointing in the direction of Engram returning to the lineup but he’s not a lock and with the G-Men playing on Monday night, fantasy owners will be taking a high risk in assuming the potential TE1 will be on the field. Engram has an impressive 77 percent catch rate and should develop into a must-start performer; however, that development might be best served until next week for fantasy owners.

START: Josh Gordon, WR, Patriots: The Bears secondary gives up catches to opposing receivers at a 71 percent rate. Gordon’s workload has increased with each game, and it’s not a stretch to envision him getting double-digit targets on Sunday. This has a good chance of being Gordon’s best fantasy game since arriving to New England.

SIT: Lamar Miller, RB, Texans: Even if it wasn’t against the Jaguars, Miller merits time on the bench, managing 105 yards on 39 carries in the last three games, a 2.7 yards per carry average. D’Onta Foreman is one to two weeks away, so Miller’s owners should consider stashing Foreman if possible.

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For more Week 7 fantasy lineup advice and tips, visit RotoExperts: https://rotoexperts.com

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Chiefs defense continues to hold back electrifying offense

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The only thing that might hold back the Kansas City Chiefs this season is their defense.

That's because they haven't been able to hold back anybody.

While the Chiefs have earned plenty of attention for their record-setting offense, led by Patrick Mahomes and several skill-position studs, the defense has struggled

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The only thing that might hold back the Kansas City Chiefs this season is their defense.

That’s because they haven’t been able to hold back anybody.

While the Chiefs have earned plenty of attention for their record-setting offense, led by Patrick Mahomes and several skill-position studs, the defense has struggled six weeks into the season.

The unit is allowing a league-high 468.2 yards and more than 28 points per game.

The latest glaring letdown came last Sunday night in New England, when the Chiefs had just forged a 40-all tie with 3 minutes left on Mahomes’ 75-yard touchdown toss to Tyreek Hill. Their defense proceeded to allow Tom Brady and Co. to march the length of the field, getting within range for Stephen Gostkowski to drill a point-blank field goal and give the Patriots the win.

“When you score 40 points and you lose, you’ve got to look yourself in the mirror,” Chiefs cornerback Orlando Scandrick said. “This team has got great character. It’s one of the best groups of guys I’ve been around in my whole 11-year career. We’ll be fine. I’m not worried about it at all.”

That makes one person.

Among fans in bars and restaurants or call-ins on sports-talk radio, the biggest source of angst this week has been the porous defense. And the biggest point of discussion has been defensive coordinator Bob Sutton, whose group struggled so much last season that some thought he would be fired.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid decided to stick with him, preferring continuity over change, and the result has been — well, a continuation of last season. The defensive line has been pushed around to the tune of 127.8 yards rushing per game, and the secondary is second-to-last in the NFL in yards passing.

“I don’t want to single out anybody for not meeting supposed expectations,” Sutton said Thursday. “I think everybody needs to elevate their game. You don’t make quantum leaps. You make these small improvements individually, and you hope collectively if we all do that we have a chance to move this in the direction we’d all like it to be going.”

Still, the Patriots were particularly successful last weekend.

Sony Michel and James White helped to grind out 173 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, and Brady was 24 of 35 or 340 yards and a score. His favorite target down the stretch was Rob Gronkowski, who had three catches for 97 yards and helped set up the winning field goal.

“They got us on a couple of big plays there,” Reid acknowledged. “Bob goes back and evaluates it, we talk — ‘What can we help the guys with? What can the guys do to help themselves?’ We’re in it just like the players are in it. We’re going to get you in the best position and if you are, then you have to look at technique. But our guys stand up. They tell you, ‘Hey, listen, I messed up.’

“If you have that you get better,” Reid continued. “If there’s a wall, eh, you’re average. But we all take responsibility and that’s what is important.”

Reid is the last to make excuses, but the Chiefs defense has two readily available.

The first is the fact that Kansas City has roared to big leads in many of its games, forcing its opponents to air it out from behind. Many of the yards that the Chargers’ Philip Rivers, the Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger and the Jaguars’ Blake Bortles put up came in garbage time.

They count toward the stats. They didn’t count much toward the outcome.

The second is injuries, which began hitting the Chiefs defense in training camp and have continued to be a problem. They’re down three safeties in Eric Berry, Daniel Sorensen and Armani Watts — Berry and Sorensen are hopeful of playing this season — along with top pass rusher Justin Houston.

Throw in nagging injuries to Dee Ford and Tanoh Kpassagnon, and the Chiefs were forced last week to sign Frank Zombo, who was cut in training camp, to give them some insurance against more injuries.

“Unfortunately you’re going to have injuries,” Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones said, “but people come in and learn the scheme and have to be ready the same week. It’s part of the business.”

Or, as Ford said, “you have to answer the bell at the end of the day.”

“We know that as a defense as a whole, we have to keep rocking and rolling,” he said. “There’s just a bunch of little things that we need to correct.”

Notes: Safety Eric Berry (heel), outside linebacker Justin Houston (hamstring) and C Mitch Morse (concussion) did not practice Thursday. … P Dustin Colquitt is averaging a career-best 48.7 yards per punt, and special teams coach Dave Toub said there’s a couple reasons for it. “We haven’t had a lot of punts,” Toub said, “and it’s still warm. It’s not winter yet. The cold weather hasn’t hit. It’s going to get harder as it gets further on, but he’s off to a really good start.”

___

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‘Cover City’: NFL Week 7 Picks, Preview With Analytics Guru Warren Sharp

The post ‘Cover City’: NFL Week 7 Picks, Preview With Analytics Guru Warren Sharp appeared first on SportsHandle.

Sports Handle is pleased to present Cover City: A Pro Football Betting Podcast, hosted by Eric Rosenthal (@ericcports). Rosenthal is a professional sports bettor who focuses on NFL and college football.

The post ‘Cover City’: NFL Week 7 Picks, Preview With Analytics Guru Warren Sharp appeared first on SportsHandle.

Sports Handle is pleased to present Cover City: A Pro Football Betting Podcast, hosted by Eric Rosenthal (@ericcports). Rosenthal is a professional sports bettor who focuses on NFL and college football. He’s wagered more than $25 million in the last nine years, getting banned from many sportsbooks along the way.

For the NFL Week 7 preview and picks pod, Rosenthal is joined by Warren Sharp @SharpFootball, creator of custom and predictive NFL analytics to discuss the most (and least) valuable statistics in the game, as well as some key games for bettors.

Don’t miss Rosenthal’s SuperContest picks (he went 4-1 last week) toward the end of the podcast. Time codes for the episode follow below. Listen and subscribe on Spotify here.


3:20 — Which stat is more valuable: Success rate or total yards? Sharp reviews some of the key stats the average fan may not know, and what that may mean for your wallet.

8:30 — In 2017 the Eagles showed how data can give a team a competitive edge, so why are bad teams and bad coaches not using analytics?

12:47 — How do injuries impact analytically driven teams?

17:10 — Sharp explains the intricacies of the teaser betting philosophy.

20:24 — Sharp weighs in on the Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers’ and Mike McCarthy’s roles in shaping what could have been a dynasty.

25:42 — Sharp predicts what we can expect to see from Derek Anderson and the Bills going forward.

29:35 — Executive Producer Sean Pfeiffer joins the show to break down Week 7 in the NFL.

30:58 — Houston Texans +5 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars — Can Sean’s Texans, winners of three straight, beat reeling divisional rival Jacksonville?

33:48 — Carolina Panthers +4.5 vs. Philadelphia Eagles — An attractive matchup for the Super Bowl champs.

35:30 — New England Patriots -3 vs. Chicago Bears — Trap game, be on the side of Vegas if any side at all.

37:33 — Buffalo Bills +7.5 v Indianapolis Colts — Why this game really comes down to Derek Anderson vs. Andrew Luck.

40:01 — Dallas Cowboys +1.5 at Washington Redskins — Will the Cowboys be the same team we saw in the Jaguars blowout last week?

42:16 — LA Rams -9.5 at San Francisco 49ers — One of Rosenthal’s favorite games of the year. Find out how to leverage this game to cash in.

44:10 — Quick rundown of the other Week 7 matchups.

46:55 — This may be a football podcast, but Sean takes advantage of Rosenthal’s LA Dodgers fanhood for some MLB action!

48:55 — Rosenthal makes his his SuperContest picks of Week 7 in the NFL (4-1 last week).


[Located in New Jersey and want to join a quality legal sportsbook with a generous sign up bonus? Read our review of SugarHouse Sportsbook hereSign up using our link and you’ll get a 100% match bonus on up to $250 on your first deposit (with only a 1x wager requirement).  Use code HANDLE when depositing.

[You can download the app for Android phones here and iOS devices here. Prefer the laptop/desktop experience? The web-based platform is accessible here.]


Also check out: Sports Handle’s Week 7 edition of “LoLookahead Lines’: By comparing changes between current lines and the numbers hung days earlier, we can get a sense of where recency bias or overreactions are seeping in.

Listen to more ‘Cover City’: NFL Week 7 Picks, Preview With Analytics Guru Warren Sharp on SportsHandle.

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Super Bowl 53 Odds: Updated for Week 7

Key takeaways from week 6:

  • Rams, Patriots, and Chiefs remain in top three spots
  • LA Chargers are 4-2, with losses only to the LA Rams, KC Chiefs
  • Biggest jump: New York Jets (+42.9%)
  • Biggest drop: New York Giants (-100.00%)
  • No change: Lions, Vikings (0%)

Super Bowl 53 Odds

{{CODE_SB_ODDS_AFTER_WEEK_6}}

Key takeaways from week 6:

  • Rams, Patriots, and Chiefs remain in top three spots
  • LA Chargers are 4-2, with losses only to the LA Rams, KC Chiefs
  • Biggest jump: New York Jets (+42.9%)
  • Biggest drop: New York Giants (-100.00%)
  • No change: Lions, Vikings (0%)

Super Bowl 53 Odds


Martin is a data analyst that has been applauded for his ability to make the complex simple. He grew up on a farm in northern Vermont and spent his summers helping his mom lead llama treks at Smugglers’ Notch Resort.

Martin graduated from University of Vermont with a degree in Mathematics. After graduation he left Vermont to work for an educational nonprofit called City Year for two years, and followed that up by attending the data science immersive program at Galvanize in Denver. He is an avid Green Bay Packer fan, and spends his free time playing football and soccer.

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Ballin’ on a Budget Week 7 Picks

We’re back for Week 7 picks and there’s actually plenty to like, at least on paper. When I sat down and wrote which games I would consider betting this week, I came up with nine. That’s much higher than what I normally come up with. For the sake of the column, I’ve whittled

We’re back for Week 7 picks and there’s actually plenty to like, at least on paper. When I sat down and wrote which games I would consider betting this week, I came up with nine. That’s much higher than what I normally come up with. For the sake of the column, I’ve whittled it down to the five I’m most confident in.

Just like last week, we’re gonna put much more money on the highest confidence pick than the others. That’s the only way we’re going to start making considerable money (unless, of course, we run the table and go 5 for 5). For the first time all year, that high confidence is in an over/under.

Vikings -4 at Jets (-110)

The Jets offense looked revived against the Colts last Sunday, but Indy is also the most injured team in football. New  York may be a little better than we gave them credit for, but the Vikings are hitting their stride too and their ceiling is much higher than the Jets. Kirk Cousins’ weird dance in the end zone against the Cardinals doesn’t do them any favors in the style points department, but he’s really starting to gain command of that offense.

It looks like Dalvin Cook should finally be back for this game as well. Even if he’s limited, having the two-headed monster of Cook and Latavius Murray should open up Minnesota’s passing game even more. It’s always scary betting a team that’s over a touchdown favorite, but I’m confident enough in the fact the Vikings have now found their groove that I’m comfortable giving those points even on the road. The bet: $3 for total payout of $5.70.

Texans +5 at Jaguars (-105)

Yes, the Jaguars defense is (or maybe “was” is a more accurate term) the best defense in football, but the Texans are red hot. Jacksonville is coming off allowing 37 points to the anemic Cowboys offense. Deshaun Watson and Co. have been close in every game. They’ve lost their three games this season by a combined 15 points. That means even if the Jags get some of their mojo back, Houston should keep things interesting.

It’s hard to say whether or not the Jaguars offense is completely broken, but it’s certainly been hampered without RB Leonard Fournette in the lineup. Houston’s defense is tough as well and in a game that should be low scoring, five points is too much for us to pass up. Texans cover on the road. The bet: $4 for total payout of $7.81.

Saints over Ravens (+120)

Here’s an upset pick for you. New Orleans has been bouncing between a 2 and 2.5-point underdog against Baltimore this week. Yes, they are coming off an emotional game in which Drew Brees broke the passing record, so they’re primed for a letdown. However, expect this one to come down to the final possession. The Saints’ high-powered offense against the Ravens’ high-powered defense will create an interesting dynamic.

I could see this one going either way, so I’m going to go where the value lies and that’s with the Saints being +120 straight up to win. As a general rule, whenever a team is +2.5 or lower as an underdog, I will just bet them to win. There isn’t a ton of value in getting those points, because very rarely is a game decided by 1 or 2 points. The bet: $3 for total payout of $6.60.

Panthers-Eagles OVER 45.5 (-110)

The Panthers are coming off a letdown game against the Redskins and the Eagles will have had 11 days to prepare for this matchup. With Carson Wentz starting to look good in this offense again, Philly should be able to hold their own on offense. After a slow start last Sunday, Cam Newton and his offensive weapons should be able to put up some points as well. Greg Olsen being in the lineup makes a huge difference.

This game will be dictated by tempo and early field position, so if we can get some points on the board early, we should be in good shape. Worst-case scenario for us would be a field position battle in the first half. We need a close shootout, so that both teams are still taking shots downfield late into the game. The bet: $2 for total payout of $3.70.

Saints-Ravens UNDER 49.5 (-110)

I LOVE this pick. This is the big one this week. Do you know how many points Baltimore has allowed over their last two games combined? I’ll save you the 10-second Google search: the answer is 12. They’ve given up just 12 points over the last two games. Granted, that was against the Browns and Titans and they lost one of those games, but those are still NFL teams they’re shutting down.

Drew Brees and New Orleans will be a different beast, but do we expect this game to finish 30-20? Even then, that would hit the over by just half a point. Who knows, it could develop into a shootout, but I certainly don’t see it. As long as Baltimore can avoid giving up the big play that New Orleans is known for, this under should be safe. Especially with the Ravens having to settle for so many field goals this season (eight combined between Weeks 4 & 5), the under should be safe. The bet: $8 for total payout of $15.20.

BONUS PICKS: For the first time in weeks, I’m going to give you some bonus picks, because there’s a lot to love this Sunday. We aren’t going to go one-by-one and explain them all, but there are a handful of promising spreads and picks this week. The picks: Bucs -3 vs. Browns, Bills +7.5 vs. Colts, Titans-Chargers OVER 45, Vikings-Jets UNDER 47.

As always, we will calculate our pipe dream of going 5 for 5 this week, by letting you know the parlay payout for our main bets this week. If all five of them hit, we’d be in the green to the tune of $597.52. Let’s hope for that, but if all else fails, we really need that Saints-Ravens UNDER to hit. Happy betting and we’ll check back in early next week.

Jacob Kornhauser is a sports reporter in Southern Oregon covering all sports, including Oregon and Oregon State athletics. He has been a national baseball writer for Bleacher Report and Rant Sports and has written two baseball books. He also specializes in sports betting analysis. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri Journalism School.

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Belichick: Don’t compare Bears’ Mack to LT just yet

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — No matter how dominant Chicago Bears star pass rusher Khalil Mack is, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick wanted to make one thing clear.

He's no L.T.

"Wait a minute, we're talking about Lawrence Taylor now," Belichick said Wednesday. "Yeah, I'm not putting anybody in Lawrence Taylor's class. So, you

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — No matter how dominant Chicago Bears star pass rusher Khalil Mack is, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick wanted to make one thing clear.

He’s no L.T.

“Wait a minute, we’re talking about Lawrence Taylor now,” Belichick said Wednesday. “Yeah, I’m not putting anybody in Lawrence Taylor’s class. So, you can put everybody down below that. With a lot of respect to a lot of good players now, but we’re talking about Lawrence Taylor.”

The Patriots visit the Bears this week and that means Belichick will get an up-close look at one of the game’s top outside linebackers, assuming Mack is ready to play after injuring his ankle last week.

Belichick knows the Patriots could have their hands full with a two-time All-Pro and havoc-wreaking edge rusher who has energized a struggling franchise. He’s just not ready to place Mack — or anyone else — on Taylor’s level.

“He’s already had a huge impact on the Bears’ defense in the first five games,” said Belichick who was Taylor’s position coach and then defensive coordinator with the New York Giants.

“So, I’m not taking anything away from him. You’re talking about Lawrence Taylor, you’re talking about probably the greatest defensive player in the history of the game. So, I think it’s a little early. I mean, look, I wouldn’t put anybody in Lawrence Taylor’s category. Not that I’ve seen. And I’ve seen a lot of great players.”

Whether Mack will play this week is up in the air after he was injured in an overtime loss at Miami. He did not practice Wednesday, and coach Matt Nagy said he is day to day.

Mack was hurt early in the game against the Dolphins and his 2018 streak of at least one sack and one forced fumble in each game ended. Playing without him would be a huge blow, particularly with Tom Brady and the Patriots visiting on Sunday.

“We’re just going to continue to keep an eye on it and make sure whatever we do, we’re more cautious than anything,” Nagy said. “I believe in that and I think it’s important to go that route.”

Mack has not missed a game since Oakland drafted him with the No. 5 overall pick in 2014. Chicago acquired him from the Raiders just before the start of the season, after he held out the entire offseason and preseason trying to secure a long-term deal rather than play under the final season of his rookie contract. Mack and the Bears then agreed to a six-year, $141 million extension that guarantees $90 million.

The trade for Mack has boosted a franchise with four straight last-place finishes in the NFC North. Despite the loss at Miami, the Bears (3-2) remain in sole possession of the division lead for the first time since late in the 2013 season. But the defense wasn’t the same against the Dolphins with Mack at less than 100 percent.

The pass rush never got to Miami quarterback Brock Osweiler, and the Bears’ league-best run defense was trampled by 35-year-old running back Frank Gore for 101 of Miami’s 161 yards rushing.

Missed tackles on Albert Wilson contributed to two shorter passes going for long touchdowns to cap off a rough game in the heat for the Bears.

“I guess it happens every once in a while, not maybe to that extent, to have that much of an impact on a game,” said cornerback Kyle Fuller, who had two interceptions. “But it’s one of those things we just learn from it and move forward.”

NOTES: CB Prince Amukamara (hamstring), WR Allen Robinson (groin) and LG Eric Kush (neck) were limited in practice. DB Marcus Cooper (hamstring) did not participate.

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AP Sports Writer Kyle Hightower contributed to this report.

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Browns’ Mayfield ready to get past ‘worst loss’ of career

BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Baker Mayfield bravely stood in the pocket last week, held the ball — sometimes for too long — and took some punishing shots from the Los Angeles Chargers.

He hasn't recovered.

Physically, he's fine. Mentally, Cleveland's quarterback hasn't healed.

"That is the worst loss that I have ever had," Mayfield said

BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Baker Mayfield bravely stood in the pocket last week, held the ball — sometimes for too long — and took some punishing shots from the Los Angeles Chargers.

He hasn’t recovered.

Physically, he’s fine. Mentally, Cleveland’s quarterback hasn’t healed.

“That is the worst loss that I have ever had,” Mayfield said Wednesday.

For the first time this season, the Browns (2-3-1) weren’t competitive in Sunday’s 38-14 loss to the Chargers, and Mayfield looked like what he is: a rookie who is going to make mistakes and take some lumps from time to time.

But as he and his teammates prepare to play at Tampa Bay on Sunday, the No. 1 overall pick is showing leadership and a resolve not to let it happen again. The Browns may soon find out how far they’ve come — or how far they’ve got to go.

“Any loss like that hurts,” Mayfield said. “You have to push forward and just have to do your job, and you will find out what this team is made of. It is never about the week before or if you win or lose — it is how you react from it. Coming off of a loss, we will really see what this team is made of.”

Mayfield’s third career pro start was one of the worst of his football life. He completed just 22 of 46 passes (48 percent) for 238 yards with two interceptions.

For a player who completed 71 percent of his passes last season at Oklahoma and 69 percent over four years (the first at Texas Tech), Mayfield’s inaccuracy against the Chargers was an anomaly.

It was the first time his completion rate was under 50 percent since Nov. 21, 2015, when he went 9 of 20 against TCU. However, he only played the first half of that game because of a concussion.

Mayfield only twice completed less than 50 percent of his passes in 48 college games, which is why he was so despondent about his performance last week.

“Mathematically, which I think goes hand in hand with emotionally,” he said when asked why he called it his worst loss. “Just did not play well, plain and simple. No way around it. It was not fun.”

Cleveland’s offensive line struggled to protect Mayfield, whose mobility was impacted when he slipped and tweaked his ankle while running out of bounds in the first quarter. The Chargers were able to keep Mayfield from rolling out and making plays.

But perhaps more problematic was Mayfield missed open receivers, misread coverages and didn’t release the ball quickly enough. There were plays when a simple dump-off throw to a running back would have been a better option.

“Kudos to them for doing their job,” Mayfield said of the Chargers. “They did it well. At the same time, if I get the ball out of my hands, then none of that really matters. It just comes down to me not doing my job to the best of my ability, plain and simple. There is no way around it. I have to be better for this team and be that for our offense.”

Browns coach Hue Jackson was pleased to hear that Mayfield was accountable. However, it wasn’t entirely his fault as Cleveland’s receivers weren’t getting open and rookies Antonio Callaway and Damion Ratley didn’t make plays on deep balls that could have been touchdowns.

Mayfield took the blame.

Jackson spread it around.

“We have to make sure that we are in the right spots for him all of the time,” Jackson said. “I think there were some opportunities there. As I said to our line coaches, we have to make sure that we give up ground grudgingly for this young man. I do not want people hitting our quarterback. He has been hit way too much in my mind and then he has to get the ball out of his hand.

“I have seen some things where he can improve, but I have seen some things where the unit can improve more than anything.”

NOTES: QB Tyrod Taylor, who lost his job to Mayfield when he suffered a concussion in Week 3, believes he can still be a winning NFL starter. The 29-year-old said he has not considered asking for a trade. “My mindset is to continue to keep helping this team,” Taylor said in his first extensive interview since getting hurt. “It’s a new role for me.” Taylor will be a free agent after the season, and Jackson expects him to finish it with the Browns. “Until someone tells me something differently,” Jackson said. “He is our backup quarterback.” … Starting C JC Tretter (ankle) did not practice, but Jackson thinks he’ll be ready for Sunday. If not, rookie Austin Corbett will start.

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Jets, Darnold to face QB who spurned team

 

 

Buffalo Bills: Defensive tackle Kyle Williams is in his 13th NFL season and has played only in Buffalo. The Bills had to work to encourage the 35-year-old to return in 2018, but he said he's glad he did, even though the Bills are off to a 2-4 start. "I came back to be

 

 

Buffalo Bills: Defensive tackle Kyle Williams is in his 13th NFL season and has played only in Buffalo. The Bills had to work to encourage the 35-year-old to return in 2018, but he said he’s glad he did, even though the Bills are off to a 2-4 start. “I came back to be a Buffalo Bill, to play for Sean McDermott and play for my teammates,” Williams said on the team’s radio station. “There’s ups and downs during seasons. We did it last year, up and downs, as low as it got, and we had to come back up. There’s struggles, and you just never know what’s out there.” The Bills’ defense has been a highlight on the season, ranking as the third best in the NFL and allowing 311.7 yards per game. He has 3.5 sacks on the season, trailing Jerry Hughes (4.5) for the team lead. He also has 12 tackles.

 

Miami Dolphins: As the former defensive coordinator of an AFC East team — the Patriots — Detroit Lions coach Matt Patricia said he knows what to expect when his team meets the Dolphins Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium. “I’ve always had battles with this team,” Patricia told reporters. “This is a grueling team to play at home.” The Dolphins (4-2) have not lost in three home games, averaging 28.7 points per game. On the road, the Dolphins have averaged about half of that. Patricia said the South Florida weather could compound the problems for the Lions. “It’ll be a big challenge for us,” he said. “We haven’t had heat or humidity like they’re anticipating down there this weekend. I think you saw in the Chicago game, you definitely could see the sideline with the sun on the visitor sideline beating down on the players there and as the course of the game goes on, when you start to get into those 80-plus-play games, you just kind of wear out at the end. “

 

New England Patriots: Tom Brady will retire — someday — with a truckload of awards, multiple entries in the team and league record books, and lots of rings. But here’s one fun fact about Brady that most people don’t know. Since taking over as starting quarterback of the Patriots in 2001, Brady has more regular-season and postseason wins to his credit than only one major league pitcher. Brady has won 227 games in 294 starts. CC Sabathia of the New York Yankees has 256 wins in 561 starts, according to Boston Sports Info. Starting pitchers who stay healthy and throw every fifth game start an average of 32.4 games per year — double the number of NFL regular-season starts.

 

New York Jets: When the Jets host the Minnesota Vikings this week, the game will feature New York’s franchise quarterback against the man who could have been their franchise quarterback. The Jets made a big offseason play for free agent Kirk Cousins, who spurned them for the Vikings. That led to the Jets moving up in the draft to grab a quarterback, who turned out to be Sam Darnold. Some NFL insiders said this week that the Jets should thank Cousins for passing.

“Cousins or Darnold? Me, personally, I’d take Darnold,” a longtime NFL talent evaluator told ESPN on the condition of anonymity. “They gave up a lot for Darnold, but you can’t minimize the money and how it impacts their cap. They got Darnold at a fraction of the price. I thought they did a good job.” And here’s another take from a rival general manager. “Cousins is likely who he is in terms of ceiling, but at that, it’s good and productive. I just think when you get a chance to draft and groom your own guy to play for 10 or 12 years, it can be special.”

 

–Field Level Media

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Redskins’ defense ready for Elliott-led Cowboys running game

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — Even after Dak Prescott rushed for 82 yards and a touchdown last week, the Washington Redskins aren't zeroing in on stopping the Dallas Cowboys quarterback.

"We don't really care about him running," linebacker Zach Brown said. "Him running is not really our concern."

Their concern is Ezekiel Elliott, the Cowboys' top

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — Even after Dak Prescott rushed for 82 yards and a touchdown last week, the Washington Redskins aren’t zeroing in on stopping the Dallas Cowboys quarterback.

“We don’t really care about him running,” linebacker Zach Brown said. “Him running is not really our concern.”

Their concern is Ezekiel Elliott, the Cowboys’ top running back who’s coming off 106 yards and a score against Jacksonville. After seeing Cam Newton with Carolina, the Redskins are prepared for Prescott, but after ranking last in the league in run defense last season — including allowing 351 yards in two games against Dallas — the Redskins know it all starts with containing Elliott.

“Definitely with their O-line, their running game is something that definitely jumps off on film,” linebacker Mason Foster said. “You don’t want to start thinking about Cam Newton or thinking about Dak Prescott so much that you’re letting Zeke and (Panthers running back Christian) McCaffrey run free because those are the guys who really can hurt you.”

Amid plenty of inconsistency , Washington has not allowed an opponent to rush for more than 104 yards in a game so far this year. Newton was the Panthers’ leading rusher when they had just 81 yards on the ground.

“One of our things is trying to make a team one-dimensional because we know if you put it in the air, you eventually might make a mistake,” Brown said. “The run is just something we’ve got to make sure we stop. If a team can run the ball on you, they can kind of control the game. So we’ve got to make sure they’re not running that ball on us.”

The big difference for the Redskins this season is the addition of first-round pick Daron Payne and the return of a healthy Jonathan Allen on the defensive line. The Alabama products plus young defensive linemen Matt Ioannidis and Tim Settle finally give Washington the muscle up front to handle prolific running attacks.

“Having Jon Allen back, Ioannidis fully healthy, Ryan (Kerrigan) — all these guys are physical up front, closing gaps,” Foster said. “Guys are going to bust runs or guys are going to make plays, but it’s about limiting those plays and making them earn it.”

The Cowboys’ diverse run schemes present what Redskins coach Jay Gruden called a big challenge for Payne, Allen and the young defensive linemen. But those guys think they’re plenty prepared to handle the dual-threat ground game of Elliott and Prescott.

“Just hit them in the mouth, get the O-line going backwards, win the line of scrimmage,” Settle said Wednesday. “They got to block us. We don’t have to worry about them. They got to stop us from accomplishing what we want to accomplish. I feel like the more focused we are, the more dominant we play.”

No one is calling the Redskins’ defense dominant quite yet, but the organization zeroed in on Payne with the concept of him being a difference-maker against the run and the pass. Elliott running all over them contributed to the decision to take Payne 13th overall.

“When you have a weakness, you’ve got to address it,” Gruden said. “Daron Payne was, we thought, the best run-stopper — him and Vita Vea — in the draft and we were lucky to get him. Obviously we paid it huge consideration for adding a player of that caliber.”

Payne has been every bit of what coaches expected, but he can’t stop Elliott by himself. Safety D.J. Swearinger said defenders are thinking, “We’ve got to find ways to stop 21” and let the rest of Dallas’ offense beat them.

That’s what Gruden wants to hear, putting the emphasis on gang-tackling a running back who doesn’t go down easily.

“These one-on-one tackles against Zeke are easier said than done,” Gruden said. “Great backs can make the unblocked player miss or run through them for another 5 or 6 yards, and that’s what he’s done in his career. … There’s always going to be a free guy coming, and that guy has got to make his presence felt and make that tackle or at least hold him up for when other guys can get off blocks and make the tackle.”

NOTES: WR Jamison Crowder (ankle), RB Adrian Peterson (shoulder/ankle/knee), WR Paul Richardson (shoulder/knee), LG Shawn Lauvao (calf), RG Brandon Scherff (knee), CB Danny Johnson (broken right forearm) and S Troy Apke (hamstring) did not practice Wednesday. Gruden said Crowder is the most iffy to play against Dallas. … The Redskins plan to hold a moment of silence for longtime reporter Rich Tandler, who died unexpectedly Tuesday at age 63. A team spokesman says a plaque will be placed at Tandler’s seat in the press box at FedEx Field, which will remain empty.

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