Byard fined for Monday’s ‘star’ celebration

Byard fined for Monday’s ‘star’ celebration

The NFL fined Tennessee Titans safety Kevin Byard $10,026 for his dancing and stomping on the Dallas Cowboys’ midfield star, ESPN reported Friday.

Byard’s celebration occurred after he intercepted a pass during Monday night’s 28-14 victory over the Cowboys.

Byard raced from the end zone to midfield after the first-quarter play. Several of his teammates joined him.

“I made the play, and I ran straight to the 50-yard line,” Byard told reporters after the game. “It was kind of off the wall a little bit.”

Titans coach Mike Vrabel wasn’t so thrilled with Byard’s antics. He strongly rebuked his actions.

“I’m not [happy], and I won’t be,” Vrabel told reporters on Tuesday. “That’s not what we want as an organization, and that’s not what I want as a head coach. I want our guys to play as hard as they possibly can for each other, between the whistle, and as physical and aggressive and as clean as they possibly can.”

Vrabel discussed the matter with Byard after Monday’s game and again the following day.

“Some people loved it, some didn’t, but the main thing is the head coach didn’t like it, and that’s the most important thing,” Byard told reporters on Wednesday. “I am more concerned with the trust and the way my head coach and my teammates view me. Those guys know that I am not a selfish person.

“I understand that act looked selfish and that’s why we had a talk about that,” Byard said. “I don’t want to be in the doghouse, or end up in the doghouse over a celebration.”

The Titans host the New England Patriots on Sunday.

–Field Level Media

3 Dolphins offensive linemen questionable for Green Bay

DAVIE, Fla. (AP) — The Miami Dolphins could be without three injured starting offensive linemen Sunday at Green Bay.

Guard Ted Larsen (neck) is doubtful, and left tackle Laremy Tunsil (knee and ankle) and right tackle Ja'Wuan James (knee) are questionable. All three were limited in practice Friday, as they have been all week.

Defensive

DAVIE, Fla. (AP) — The Miami Dolphins could be without three injured starting offensive linemen Sunday at Green Bay.

Guard Ted Larsen (neck) is doubtful, and left tackle Laremy Tunsil (knee and ankle) and right tackle Ja’Wuan James (knee) are questionable. All three were limited in practice Friday, as they have been all week.

Defensive end Charles Harris (calf) was ruled out for the fourth game in a row. Linebacker Kiko Alonso (ankle) was added to the injury report after missing practice and is listed as questionable.

___

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

Read More 39 Words

Rams cancel practice for fire; 20 players, coaches evacuate

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Rams have canceled practice after a wildfire forced about 20 players and coaches to evacuate their homes.

The Rams will cram their normal Friday preparations into a workout at the University of Southern California on Saturday before they face the Seattle Seahawks at the Coliseum on

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Rams have canceled practice after a wildfire forced about 20 players and coaches to evacuate their homes.

The Rams will cram their normal Friday preparations into a workout at the University of Southern California on Saturday before they face the Seattle Seahawks at the Coliseum on Sunday.

Just one day after the Rams were stunned by a mass shooting less than five miles from their training complex in Thousand Oaks, they were affected by two wildfires burning in Ventura and Los Angeles counties.

About 45 Rams employees were evacuated, although coach Sean McVay doesn’t believe any homes have been lost. Those forced to leave their homes Friday included defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and defensive line coach Bill Johnson.

___

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

Read More 75 Words

Jaguars RB Fournette expected to play vs. Colts

Jaguars RB Fournette expected to play vs. Colts

Jacksonville

Jaguars RB Fournette expected to play vs. Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette was cleared to return Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts, according to a Florida Times-Union report.

Fournette was given the green light for his first game action in six weeks after making it through a full week of practice with no setbacks to his chronic hamstring injury. He was not listed on the team’s injury report for Sunday’s game.

Quarterback Blake Bortles (left shoulder) also participated in practice and is cleared to play.

Fournette has not played since Week 4 because of the injury and appeared in only two games this season, rushing for 71 yards on 20 carries. After aggravating the injury on multiple occasions, he has remained out as the team tries to avoid any future setbacks.

Fournette participated in individual drills Monday as the team exited its bye week, then in his first full session on Wednesday. He was a full participant each of the last three days.

The Jaguars (3-5), who are on a four-game losing streak, return to action Sunday against the Colts (3-5) in Indianapolis.

Cornerbacks Quentin Meeks (knee) and A.J. Bouye (calf) were both ruled out of Sunday’s game.

Jacksonville traded for Carlos Hyde while Fournette was out and also has T.J. Yeldon available in the backfield. Yeldon leads the team with 334 rushing yards on 81 carries.

–Field Level Media

Read More 168 Words

Bills rule out QB Anderson vs. Jets

Bills rule out QB Anderson vs. Jets

Bills rule out QB Anderson vs. Jets

The Buffalo Bills have ruled out veteran backup quarterback Derek Anderson for Sunday’s game against the New York Jets as he remains in the concussion protocol.

Anderson was concussed late in a Week 8 loss to the New England Patriots and has yet to return to practice.

Bills first-round draft pick Josh Allen practiced in a limited capacity this week as he returns from an elbow injury, but the team has yet to reveal whether he, Nathan Peterman or Matt Barkley would start on Sunday.

Head coach Sean McDermott said on Wednesday the rookie quarterback has had no setbacks and “has done a good job so far.” Allen told reporters he has felt good while throwing for the first time in weeks.

McDermott admitted the team’s Week 11 bye will be a consideration in deciding when Allen will return to the starting lineup. If Allen misses his fourth straight game on Sunday, he would have two extra weeks to get healthy before a Week 12 game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

With Anderson out last week, Peterman made his second start of the season and threw three interceptions, bringing his career total to 12 picks on 130 attempts. Peterman finished 31 of 49 for 189 yards, the lowest yardage total with at least 30 completions in a game in NFL history.

Tight end Charles Clay (hamstring) and defensive end Trent Murphy (knee) were also ruled out on Friday.

–Field Level Media

Read More 178 Words

Jets’ Darnold doubtful vs. Bills, unlikely to back up McCown

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold is listed as doubtful for the team's game against Buffalo, making it unlikely he will serve as Josh McCown's backup.

Darnold did not practice all week after straining his right foot last Sunday in the Jets' 13-6 loss at Miami. He wore

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold is listed as doubtful for the team’s game against Buffalo, making it unlikely he will serve as Josh McCown’s backup.

Darnold did not practice all week after straining his right foot last Sunday in the Jets’ 13-6 loss at Miami. He wore a boot on his foot and watched from the side during practice.

Davis Webb is likely to be signed from the practice squad to the active roster to provide insurance for the 39-year-old McCown, who will make his first start of the season.

McCown will likely be without one of his key receivers, though, with Robby Anderson doubtful to play after not practicing all week with an ankle injury.

Tight end Neal Sterling (concussion) is out, center Spencer Long (knee/finger) is doubtful and nose tackle Steve McLendon (ankle) is questionable.

___

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

Read More 97 Words

Bears raise more than $800,000 in social justice donations

The Bears and their players raised $813,850 in social justice donations, with matching grants.

With money donated primarily by players, and matched by the team and the NFL Foundation, five recipients will benefit.

By the Hand Club for Kids; Kicks 4 the City; SAGA; YWCA Lake County; and My Block, My Hood, My

The Bears and their players raised $813,850 in social justice donations, with matching grants.

With money donated primarily by players, and matched by the team and the NFL Foundation, five recipients will benefit.

By the Hand Club for Kids; Kicks 4 the City; SAGA; YWCA Lake County; and My Block, My Hood, My City will each receive separate donations.

The players collectively donated $291,600. Coaches and front office executives contributed $19,550. The Bears will match the total donation of $311,150, along with additional matching grants from Bears Care and the NFL Foundation.

“We are beyond excited to come together as a team and organization to take advantage of the opportunity the NFL has provided and announce these donations,” linebacker and players’ union representative Sam Acho says. “Together, we can empower our communities and help them better educate our youth both in the classroom and beyond, while also strengthening relationships with the police.”

In March, the NFL announced that each club would match player contributions up to $250,000 annually to establish a fund to support community improvement, social justice and law enforcement relationships. Bears players were the first team to collectively commit to donating more than $250,000 to social justice initiatives.

The players formed a social justice committee consisting of Acho, tight end Trey Burton, defensive lineman Akiem Hicks, quarterbacks Chase Daniel and Mitchell Trubisky, and four front office staff members. But more than 40 players have been involved and provided donations.

EXPECTING TWINS

Saints veteran tight end Ben Watson was resting easy this week knowing he wouldn’t be fined $10,000 for celebrating a touchdown against the Rams last Sunday by telling the world he and his wife, Kristen, are expecting twins.

When Watson scored, he stuffed the football under the front of his jersey, and then at first held up five fingers on one hand as he often does to honor his five children, after which held up two more fingers on his other hand in honor of the twins on the way.

Watson, 37, said he similarly stuffed the ball under his jersey after scoring in 2009, when Kristen was close to full term with their first child, Grace. Soon after, he was fined for using the ball as a prop.

“So the cool thing is I will be able to say (to his twins) that, ‘When I did it for Grace, I had to pay. When I did it for you all, the league had changed,'” Watson said. “What a difference nine years make.”

But only so much of a difference. That same game, Watson’s second-quarter celebration was upstaged by receiver Mike Thomas pulling a cell phone out of the goal post padding after his fourth-quarter score. He used a flip phone like that used in a similar celebration by former Saints receiver Joe Horn. Thomas was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct.

“Where did he get a flip phone?” Watson said. “I said (to Thomas), ‘Do you even know who Joe Horn is? You must have been in elementary school back then.’ But that was pretty good. I’ve got to give him props on that one.”

Meanwhile, Watson said it looked like his celebration inadvertently caused his wife, a Baton Rouge native, to miss much of the game.

“I’m looking up at her and she’s just got her head down the whole time because people were just blasting her with text messages and she was trying to respond,” Watson said.

Watson, who is active on social media, said he also was surprised by the volume of responses from fans.

“We didn’t expect so many people to, I guess, notice,” Watson said. “It was pretty public. It was. But I’m thinking, I’m looking at her. It’s a shout-out to her. … I guess it just means that people love babies, man. People love babies.”

TOUCHDOWN TODD

Rams running back Todd Gurley, last year’s Offensive Player of the Year, leads the NFL with 16 touchdowns. the fourth-year pro has scored at least one touchdown in each of the Rams’ nine games this season.

With a touchdown against Seattle on Sunday, Gurley would join Pro Football Hall of Famers O.J. Simpson (1975), Lenny Moore (1964) and Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hirsch (1951) as the only players to score a touchdown in each of their team’s first 10 games of a season.

Simpson and Moore had at least one touchdown in each of their team’s 14 games during their respective record seasons.

FLIPPING PERFECT

Chiefs coach Andy Reid has sent his captains to midfield before kickoff nine times this season, and nine times they have trotted back to the sideline having won the coin toss.

The absurd streak, which trails the Lions’ NFL record of 14 straight coin-flip wins during the 2004-05 season, has become a running sidebar in the Chiefs’ locker room. Nobody talks about it, much like a pitcher in the midst of a no-hitter, lest the streak come to a crashing end.

“I don’t want that pressure on me, for sure,” quarterback Patrick Mahomes says. “I joke about it, it’s one of the most nervous parts of the game for me. Everyone knows the coin-toss thing is going.”

The Chiefs have called heads in each of their first four away games and won, and their opponents called tails in their first two home games and lost. The Chiefs also won the flip the last three weeks against the Bengals, Broncos and Browns and elected to defer each time.

“It’s ridiculous,” Reid said, “but on the other hand, if one goes the other way you have to be ready to go. You can’t have a letdown or something with the coin toss.

“We get a kick out of the thing going on,” Reid added, “but you have to be ready to roll.”

DAD’S LEGACY

Six-year veteran Kenny Stills will play at Lambeau Field for the first time Sunday when the Miami Dolphins visit Green Bay, but his family has a history there.

Stills’ father, Ken, played for the Packers in 1985-89.

“If you go on YouTube, there’s a video of him kind of cheap-shoting somebody after the play — the Bears-Packers rivalry,” Kenny Stills said.

The video from Lambeau shows flags flying when Stills hit blocker Matt Suhey after the whistle. The elder Stills will be at the game Sunday with divided loyalties.

“There are no hard feelings there,” the younger Stills said. “I definitely think he’s rooting for the Dolphins. Maybe he’ll have a split jersey — half Dolphins, half Packers.”

THE NEXT FRIDGE

The Eagles could use 6-foot-8, 346-pound offensive tackle Jordan Mailata at running back.

Mailata is more athletic than William “The Refrigerator” Perry, who had three rushing TDs for the 1985 Super Bowl champion Chicago Bears, including one in the title game. Mailata was an Australian rugby player before the Eagles selected him in the seventh round in April.

“He’s definitely used to carrying a larger football. I don’t know what they call it, that ball (in rugby),” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. “Very athletic guy. It’s intriguing. I mean, it’s not out of the question.”

___

Pro Football Writers Barry Wilner and Rob Maaddi, and Sports Writers Dave Skretta and Joe Kay contributed.

___

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

Read More 1129 Words

Rams cancel practice as fires rage in Southern California

Rams cancel practice as fires rage in Southern California

The Los Angeles Rams called off Friday's

Rams cancel practice as fires rage in Southern California

The Los Angeles Rams called off Friday’s practice in Thousand Oaks, Calif., due to devastating wildfires in the region.

The wildfires have caused mass evacuations, property damage and led to road closures that would affect several people within the organization.

Los Angeles County Fire officials announced early Friday that the 101 Freeway was closed and that one of the fires had torched some 8,000 acres and with zero containment.

That fire began Thursday afternoon and had jumped the freeway just 12 minutes later.

The Rams (8-1) are currently still slated to play host to the Seattle Seahawks (4-4) on Sunday at the Los Angeles Coliseum in a rematch of a Week 5 game in Seattle.

The Rams held on to win that game thanks to a gutsy quarterback sneak by Jared Goff on fourth down late in the game.

–Field Level Media

Read More 87 Words

Rooney expects Bell to return next week

Rooney expects Bell to return next week

Rooney expects Bell to return next week

Days after being spotted playing basketball in Pittsburgh, Le’Veon Bell’s return to the Steelers could be imminent, according to team president Art Rooney II.

During an interview on Sirius XM radio, Rooney said the team expects the holdout running back to report to the team next week.

“I don’t know what his plans are, but I would say that at this point we expect him to come back next week,” Rooney said.

Either way, Rooney is hoping for some kind of communication with Bell.

“We know he’s back in Pittsburgh, and so we’re hoping to have some communications with him over the weekend, and we’re kind of expecting he will be back next week.”

The Steelers improved to 6-2-1 without Bell after Thursday night’s 52-21 rout of the Carolina Panthers.

James Conner, filling in at running back, ran 13 times for 65 yards and a touchdown in the blowout. Conner has 1,158 yards from scrimmage with 11 touchdowns.

Bell’s holding out after the Steelers failed to meet his contract demands, sacrificing more than $8 million in salary during the ongoing stalemate. Reporting after the July 15 deadline to sign a long-term deal, but before Week 1, would have assured Bell the entirety of his $14.5 million franchise tender for 2018.

Bell is facing the latest deadline in the off-field-drama next week. He must report by Tuesday or will become ineligible to play this season.

–Field Level Media

Read More 176 Words

Bills rule out QB Anderson from playing against Jets

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Buffalo Bills coach Sean McDermott has ruled out quarterback Derek Anderson from playing against the New York Jets this weekend, and continued leaving open the possibility of Josh Allen's return after missing three games with an injured throwing arm.

McDermott says Allen is progressing well from a sprained

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Buffalo Bills coach Sean McDermott has ruled out quarterback Derek Anderson from playing against the New York Jets this weekend, and continued leaving open the possibility of Josh Allen’s return after missing three games with an injured throwing arm.

McDermott says Allen is progressing well from a sprained right elbow, but would practice on a limited basis Friday for the third consecutive day. The first-round draft pick was hurt in a 20-13 loss at Houston on Oct. 14, and began testing his arm in practice a week ago.

Anderson will miss his second game since sustaining a concussion in a 25-6 loss to New England on Oct. 29.

If Allen isn’t deemed ready, turnover-prone backup Nathan Peterman would likely start for a second straight week. Buffalo’s only other option would be Matt Barkley, signed last week.

McDermott also ruled out starting tight end Charles Clay, who hurt his hamstring last weekend.

The Bills are 2-7 and have lost four straight.

Jets rookie starter Sam Darnold has already been ruled out with a strained right foot. Veteran backup Josh McCown will start against Buffalo.

___

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

Read More 139 Words

Eagles optimistic Darren Sproles will play this season

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Eagles coach Doug Pederson says he optimistic running back Darren Sproles will play again this season despite suffering a setback with his hamstring injury.

Sproles returned to practice on Wednesday after missing the previous seven games but re-injured his hamstring and won't play against the Cowboys on Sunday night. Pederson

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Eagles coach Doug Pederson says he optimistic running back Darren Sproles will play again this season despite suffering a setback with his hamstring injury.

Sproles returned to practice on Wednesday after missing the previous seven games but re-injured his hamstring and won’t play against the Cowboys on Sunday night. Pederson wouldn’t say who will return punts in place of Sproles.

The team released DeAndre Carter, who handled those duties, on Tuesday.

The 35-year-old Sproles tore his ACL and broke his arm on the same play last September and missed the rest of the season. He was hoping to play one more season.

Cornerback Jalen Mills is unlikely to play because of a foot injury, but nickel cornerback Sidney Jones has a chance to return after missing two games with a hamstring injury.

___

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

Read More 88 Words

FANTASY PLAYS: Burning questions for NFL Week 10

A look at some key fantasy football questions for Week 10:

WHICH UNDER THE RADAR PLAYERS HAVE THE BEST CHANCE FOR A BIG GAME THIS WEEK?

Several Washington players — quarterback Alex Smith, running back Adrian Peterson, wide receiver Maurice Harris and tight end Vernon Davis — all have the potential to post

A look at some key fantasy football questions for Week 10:

WHICH UNDER THE RADAR PLAYERS HAVE THE BEST CHANCE FOR A BIG GAME THIS WEEK?

Several Washington players — quarterback Alex Smith, running back Adrian Peterson, wide receiver Maurice Harris and tight end Vernon Davis — all have the potential to post big numbers this week against the Buccaneers.

The Bucs are top 6 or better in fantasy points allowed to each of the main offensive positions. Smith isn’t a prototypical fantasy quarterback but the Bucs have given up multiple TDs to the position in six straight games.

Look for Smith to connect often with Harris, who is coming off of a career-best performance with 10 catches for 124 yards receiving last week. With WR Paul Richardson out for the rest of the season and Jamison Crowder’s status for Week 10 unclear, Harris should be heavily targeted and has an especially good matchup against a Buccaneers defense that has been torched by fellow slot receivers this season. If Crowder plays, Harris can still be productive on the outside.

Even with the injuries to Washington’s offensive line, Peterson should bounce back from his 16-yard performance in Week 9. Tampa Bay has allowed five TDs to running backs over the past two weeks.

He’s expected to play, but tight end Jordan Reed has been limited in practices due to a back injury. He also hasn’t scored a TD since Week 1 or recorded more than 43 receiving yards in five straight games. Davis caught five passes for 62 yards in Week 9 and has a favorable matchup against Tampa Bay, which has allowed the second most receiving yards to TEs.

Another QB to consider is Andy Dalton. He takes on the Saints, who’ve allowed an average of 354 passing yards to QBs over the past three weeks.

Dalton will be without his top receiver A.J. Green, but John Ross has been practicing in full this week and has an opportunity for a big game against the Saints, who have given up the most fantasy points per game (FPPG) to WRs.

At running back, if Seattle’s Chris Carson is either limited or out again in Week 10, Mike Davis has an opportunity for a big game. He faces the Rams, who’ve allowed two TDs to RBs and at least 101 rushing yards in each of their last two games.

Saints TE Ben Watson has scored TDs in two of his last three games and takes on the Bengals, who have allowed the second most FPPG to the position.

HOW MUCH OF A FANTASY IMPACT WILL DEZ BRYANT HAVE WITH NEW ORLEANS?

Let’s face it, Bryant’s skills had already been eroding for the past few seasons. It’s not fair to expect too much from Bryant this season. Name recognition has put him back on the fantasy horizon. Asking a wideout who hasn’t played a live NFL game since last December to step in, learn a new system and be fantasy productive right away is a bit much. Michael Thomas, Tre’Quan Smith, Watson and Alvin Kamara will all easily get more targets on a weekly basis. We all know that QB Drew Brees already loves to spread the ball around.

CAN 49ERS QB NICK MULLENS BUILD UPON LAST WEEK’S PERFORMANCE AND IS HE STARTABLE IN WEEK 10?

Mullens has what appears to be a very good matchup in Week 10, however the 1-7 Giants have held opposing QBs to just one passing TD in each of the past two weeks. While WR Marquise Goodwin and TE George Kittle provide Mullens with potential TD makers, WR Pierre Garcon, his most targeted receiver last week, has been limited this week (knee) and his progress should be monitored. Mullens is definitely startable in two QB leagues, but he’s a riskier play in other formats. He has a bye in Week 11, but if he’s granted another start in Week 12, he’ll take on the Buccaneers, and they’ve given up the most FPPG to QBs entering Week 10.

WHICH COLTS TIGHT END HAS MORE FANTASY VALUE FOR THE REST OF THE SEASON, JACK DOYLE OR ERIC EBRON?

It depends on your league’s scoring format. Both have value, but in point-per-reception scoring leagues, Doyle will likely out-produce Ebron. With Doyle missing five games, QB Andrew Luck targeted Ebron 15 times in the red zone, tied for the fourth most in the NFL. However, Doyle averaged just over seven targets in the three games he’s played this season. In those same three games, Ebron averaged just four targets.

WHICH RUNNING BACKS HAVE UPSIDE BASED ON THEIR REST-OF-THE-SEASON OUTLOOK?

Cardinals running back David Johnson is an excellent buy-low candidate. Four of his last seven opponents are in the top 10 in FPPG allowed to opposing running backs.

Bears running back Jordan Howard has quietly had a productive season. His 3.5 yards per carry is underwhelming, but he’s scored five TDs through his first eight games. He is seventh in the league with 20 red zone rushing attempts, and with an average of just under 16 carries per game, Howard is a major part of the Bears offensive scheme and will continue to have ample opportunities to be fantasy relevant.

___

For more Week 10 fantasy tips and insights, please visit RotoExperts: https://rotoexperts.com

Read More 797 Words

Mullens set for sequel as 49ers host Giants

Mullens set for sequel as 49ers host Giants

The San

Mullens set for sequel as 49ers host Giants

The San Francisco 49ers will seek to take advantage of a one-win team for the second week in a row when they host the New York Giants on Monday night in Santa Clara, Calif.

The 49ers, who were a one-win team themselves when they hosted the Oakland Raiders in a nationally televised game last Thursday, rode the impressive NFL debut of quarterback Nick Mullens to a 34-3 romp over their San Francisco Bay Area rival.

Mullens will get a second start in place of C.J. Beathard, this time based on his 262-yard, three-touchdown performance against the Raiders rather than the thumb and wrist injuries that held Beathard out of the Oakland game.

Mullens began the week with a simple request of the media: Stop gushing over his NFL debut so that he could focus on Game 2.

“I’m done reflecting on it,” the Southern Mississippi product said Tuesday. “But it was a very cool moment. I tried to give it everything I had, and when your work pays off, it’s exciting.”

The 49ers (2-7) faced the Giants (1-7) in a similar situation at about this time last year, ending a season-opening, nine-game losing streak with a 31-21 home win over a New York team that had brought a 1-7 record to town.

Beathard was the starting quarterback in that game.

Eli Manning will once again lead the Giants, but this time he’ll have a much more talented supporting cast featuring rookie running back Saquon Barkley and star wideout Odell Beckham Jr., who was injured at the time of last year’s meeting.

Giants coach Pat Shurmur had a week to contemplate a quarterback change with his team having been on a bye after Manning was intercepted twice and sacked seven times in a 20-13 loss at Washington in Week 8.

However, the coach short-circuited any talk this week about a quarterback controversy when he announced Tuesday that Manning would retain his starting role.

“I explained to him that he’s going to start on Monday,” Shurmur said of a conversation he had with Manning. “I also explained to Eli that everybody needs to play better as we go through this. It’s important that we’re not ‘almost’ in these games and we do what we have to do to get it over the top and win football games. We’ll just take it from there.”

The Giants have lost five in a row, although their two road losses during the stretch were by just two points at Carolina and by three points at Atlanta.

The 49ers had lost six in a row, including at home by 10 points to Arizona and by 29 points to the Los Angeles Rams, before the win over Oakland.

–Field Level Media

Read More 398 Words

Rising Chargers square off with reeling Raiders

Rising Chargers square off with reeling Raiders

Two longtime AFC West rivals

Rising Chargers square off with reeling Raiders

Two longtime AFC West rivals headed full speed in opposite directions meet Sunday afternoon when the surging Los Angeles Chargers (6-2) visit the tail-spinning Oakland Raiders (1-7).

The clubs met in Week 5 in Los Angeles, with the Chargers forcing two critical turnovers en route to a 26-10 victory that was their third straight over the Raiders.

The win began a four-game run of allowing fewer than 20 points by the Los Angeles defense. The Chargers are coming off a 25-17 win at Seattle last week.

The Chargers are tied for 12th in the NFL in points allowed at 22.5 per game.

Los Angeles scored just three touchdowns in the earlier win over Oakland, two of which were set up by turnovers.

The Chargers recovered a Martavis Bryant fumble in the second quarter, then needed just six plays to cover 48 yards, a drive culminating in a Melvin Gordon 1-yard run and a 17-3 lead 1:39 before halftime.

The Raiders threatened to cut into a 20-3 deficit late in the third period before Derek Carr threw an interception to Melvin Ingram in the end zone.

The Chargers then went 96 yards in eight plays for Philip Rivers’ 13-yard, game-clinching TD pass to Virgil Green with 9:42 left in the game.

Los Angeles’ Caleb Sturgis connected on two field goals but missed one of his three PAT attempts. After not connecting on two of three PATs and his only field goal attempt in the win at Seattle, he was released by the Chargers, who have promoted Michael Badgley off the practice squad.

“We feel like we gave (Sturgis) a fair shot,” Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said to reporters this week. “We stayed with him as long as we could. It just came down to performance.”

The Raiders haven’t recovered from the loss to the Chargers, limited to three points in two of their next three games, a 27-3 loss to Seattle in London and a 34-3 shellacking at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers in a nationally televised game last Thursday.

Things have gone so far south for the Raiders, coach Jon Gruden made a simple goal for his team this week: Do better than in the San Francisco debacle.

“I just want to see some improvement,” he said. “I want guys to continue to work hard and develop. I’d like some guys to get healthy so we can be all we can be.”

–Field Level Media

Read More 347 Words

Ailing Redskins limp into Tampa Bay

Ailing Redskins limp into Tampa Bay

The Washington Redskins

Ailing Redskins limp into Tampa Bay

The Washington Redskins travel to play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday as a first-place team dealing with a rash of injuries and a struggling offense.

The NFC East-leading Redskins (5-3) were shellacked 38-14 by the Atlanta Falcons at home last Sunday. On Monday, they put three offensive starters on season-ending injured reserve: outside receiver Paul Richardson (shoulder) and guards Brandon Scherff (torn pectoral muscle) and Shawn Lauvau (torn ACL).

In addition, left tackle Trent Williams (thumb), and third-down back Chris Thompson (rib/knee) are probably out at least another week, and the status of wide receiver Jamison Crowder (ankle) and starting tackle Morgan Moses (knee) is uncertain for Sunday.

“The big thing I think is on the road, crowd noise, against a good D-line. I think those things, all the calls, all the communication that has to take place — run, pass, third down,” quarterback Alex Smith said regarding the challenge of integrating new players on offense. “All the different looks, the thousands and thousands of reps that we’ve had, you try to condense into a few days to get ready.”

The Redskins’ offense hasn’t topped the 20-point mark in the past three games. Washington is 25th in the NFL with an average of 343.9 yards gained per game despite ranking 10th in rushing.

While injuries have hindered the passing game, Smith has struggled as well, producing a passer rating of 89.8 that would be his lowest since 2013. While Tampa Bay’s Ryan Fitzpatrick leads the NFL with 9.75 yards per attempt, Smith is 28th at 6.81.

Smith should improve those numbers Sunday’s against the NFL’s 29th-ranked defense, which is giving up 414.3 yards and an NFL-worst 34.4 points per game.

The Redskins have been front-runners thus far, never trailing in their victories nor leading in their defeats.

“Yeah, you can probably count on one hand how many comeback wins we’ve had since I’ve been here, and that’s something that we have to do a better job of and just keep grinding,” fifth-year Washington head coach Jay Gruden said. “It’s just a mindset really.”

The Buccaneers (3-5) remain on the fringes of the playoff race.

Fitzpatrick earned another start after he completed 24 of 40 passes for 243 yards and four touchdowns last week against the Carolina Panthers. He rallied the Buccaneers from a 35-7 deficit to make it 35-28 in the fourth quarter, but threw costly interceptions in the first and fourth quarters in a game Tampa Bay wound up losing 42-28.

Despite the Redskins’ dud last week vs. Atlanta, Washington’s defense is still ranked 10th in the NFL, allowing 343.5 yards per game, and just 89.4 on the ground, resulting in 21.5 points per game.

“You look at all of it and they look pretty darn good to me,” Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter said of the Redskins’ defense. “Again, the score is the score from last week’s game, but these guys look really good on defense to me. I think they are top 10 in the league in like five defensive categories.”

Tampa Bay is generating 446.8 yards per game (2nd in the NFL). But leading rusher Peyton Barber is averaging just 3.6 yards per carry, so the burden Sunday will fall to Fitzpatrick and his receiving corps, including Mike Evans and former Redskin DeSean Jackson.

Jackson has averaged just 50 yards over the past four games, three of them losses, but he said he was frustrated with the team’s recent results and not his role.

“It’s just knowing what’s in this locker room, knowing the players we have all across the board, and knowing how talented it can be,” Jackson told reporters. “It did show early on. That’s the frustration.”

Evans (knee), Barber (ankle) and tackle Demar Dotson (knee/shoulder) were limited in practice Thursday, while defensive end Vinny Curry (ankle), running back Ronald Jones (hamstring) and cornerback M.J. Stewart (foot) sat out.

–Field Level Media

Read More 580 Words

QB injuries shape Bills-Jets matchup

QB injuries shape Bills-Jets matchup

Rookie quarterbacks Sam

QB injuries shape Bills-Jets matchup

Rookie quarterbacks Sam Darnold and Josh Allen figure to be AFC East rivals in the coming years. However, their first NFL matchup is likely on hold.

Darnold, the third overall pick in the 2018 draft, and Allen, the No. 7 selection, are both uncertain to play Sunday when the New York Jets (3-6) host the Buffalo Bills (2-7).

Allen is nearing a return from a strained elbow that has sidelined him for three games but was only a limited practice participant for the Bills on Wednesday and Thursday.

Darnold will not start Sunday after he was unable to practice Wednesday and Thursday while wearing walking boot to protect a strained foot he sustained last week in New York’s 13-6 loss at Miami.

“Obviously, I want to be out there with the guys,” said Darnold, who might be active against Buffalo as a backup. “I want to go out there and play. Hopefully, if I’m able to go out there and play Sunday, I will. If not, I’m just going to treat it as another learning experience. When adversity hits, it’s up to me to respond. That’s all I can worry about.”

Darnold has faced adversity on the field during the Jets’ three-game losing streak, throwing seven interceptions and only two touchdown passes. For the season, he ranks near the bottom of the league with a 55 percent completion rate, 68.3 passer rating and 14 interceptions.

The Jets will start 39-year-old quarterback Josh McCown, who went 5-8 as the team’s starter last season, completing 67.3 percent of his passes with 18 touchdowns and nine interceptions for a passer rating of 94.5.

Both the Jets and Bills enter bye weeks after the Sunday game, offering additional time for the ailing quarterbacks to rest their injuries.

“We don’t want to rush things,” Darnold said. “That’s one thing we don’t want to do. I’m eager to get back out there on the field with my guys, but at the same time, I’ve got to take care of my body, first and foremost.”

Allen is listed as day-to-day and has not yet been able to fully participate in practice. He just started throwing again last Friday.

“We’re still taking it precautiously,” Allen said. “Anytime it’s your throwing arm, your throwing shoulder, throwing elbow, whatever it is, you never want to push it too hard because you don’t want to feel any discomfort or pain or whatever it is in there. I’m just taking it day by day, throw by throw, really.”

The Bills likely would turn to embattled second-year quarterback Nathan Peterman again if Allen can’t play. Veteran Derek Anderson, who started the first two games Allen missed, remains in the NFL concussion protocol for a second week.

Peterman threw three more interceptions Sunday in a 41-9 loss to the Chicago Bears. He’s been intercepted seven times in 81 attempts this season. For his career, Peterman has thrown 12 interceptions in 130 attempts and has a passer rating of 32.5.

Regardless of who starts at quarterback, the Bills’ offense has struggled, scoring just two touchdowns during a four-game losing streak. Buffalo’s 96 points scored are a franchise low through nine games and the fewest in the league.

“I’m frustrated just like our fans are frustrated,” Bills coach Sean McDermott said. “When you put in the amount of time that we put in, to get the results we’ve gotten, on that side of the ball in particular, leaves you frustrated, leaves you empty-handed.”

–Field Level Media

Read More 512 Words

Chiefs’ Mahomes eyes milestone vs. Cardinals

Chiefs' Mahomes eyes milestone vs. Cardinals

The number Len Dawson

Chiefs’ Mahomes eyes milestone vs. Cardinals

The number Len Dawson wore is retired after he played 14 seasons in Kansas City, led the AFL in passer rating five times and was named MVP of Super Bowl IV after he paced the Chiefs to victory.

Now, with Kansas City off to an 8-1 start, first-year starting quarterback Patrick Mahomes is about to break one of Dawson’s most hallowed franchise records. Mahomes needs one more touchdown pass to tie the single-season mark, 30, Dawson set in 1964 as the Chiefs enter a Sunday home game against the Arizona Cardinals (2-6).

More than 50 years later, football is played differently. Mahomes is on the forefront of engineering more of the spread tendencies that first grew popular in the college game.

Yet Mahomes is also aware of Chiefs lore and the esteem for Dawson, a Pro Football Hall of Fame selection as both a player and broadcaster.

“Len had a ton of success in the NFL and was kind of ahead of his time,” Mahomes said. “Throwing all those touchdowns, I think the record has stood for a very long time. It would be awesome to pass that, but hopefully we can just keep building and getting more and more wins.”

A sweep of NFC West rival San Francisco represents Arizona’s only victories.

“You can let (point) spreads and all these things, ‘trap game,’ all these terms that pop up and things that happen come into it,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “If you can honestly focus on the process and discipline yourself to do that … you are not going to let distractions get in the way.”

Mahomes has been sensational at deflecting attention. He leads NFL passers with 2,901 yards while recording eight consecutive 300-yard games and posting a league-best touchdown-to-interception ratio of plus-22.

The Cardinals, meanwhile, are struggling behind their own first-year starter, Josh Rosen.

Not all the blame can be pinned on the rookie quarterback, who fired two fourth-quarter touchdown passes to rally Arizona past the 49ers on Oct. 28 in the Cardinals’ first game after promoting Byron Leftwich to offensive coordinator.

Arizona, returning from an off week, is keeping an eye on a potential milestone. Veteran wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald needs 33 yards to pass Terrell Owens into second place on the all-time list for receiving yardage. Fitzgerald has 15,902 career yards after posting eight catches for 102 yards against the 49ers.

“I’ve got to just keep giving credit to Byron, just the way he’s trying to spread the ball around,” Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks said. “He’s trying to find creative ways to get all those guys open, but most importantly, trying to target our top guys. Larry had a phenomenal game (against San Francisco), and hopefully he can top it.”

Rosen is completing fewer than 60 percent of his attempts and has more interceptions (six) than touchdowns (five). Still, Arizona released former starter Sam Bradford on Nov. 3 during its off week.

Offensive guard Justin Pugh (hand) could return for the Cardinals. Wide receiver Sammy Watkins (foot) is new to the Chiefs’ injury list.

–Field Level Media

Read More 449 Words

XTECH shouldering its way into locker rooms on all levels

EAST HANOVER, N.J. (AP) — At 43, Baylor coach Matt Rhule is far removed from a playing career. That doesn't mean he won't run the gauntlet with his guys to prove a point.

When Rhule was helping turn around the program at Temple, he already had many of his players outfitted with XTECH

EAST HANOVER, N.J. (AP) — At 43, Baylor coach Matt Rhule is far removed from a playing career. That doesn’t mean he won’t run the gauntlet with his guys to prove a point.

When Rhule was helping turn around the program at Temple, he already had many of his players outfitted with XTECH shoulder pads, a revolutionary protective device that is gaining traction on all levels of football.

“I even wore the XTECH pads and went through bull-in-the-ring while I was at Temple,” he recalls, “and I can tell you that the next day I felt less sore than I should have felt.”

That’s the refrain from many a player, including NFL stars such as Khalil Mack, Matt Ryan, Odell Beckham Jr., and Andrew Luck — who missed an entire season because of shoulder issues.

“I had a unique history after being at the New York Giants where several players wore the XTECH pads ,” says Rhule, who left Temple for Baylor in 2016. “Then Muhammad Wilkerson, who played for me at Temple, was a proponent of the pads. I had a chance to see them work firsthand. When we went to Temple, we put them on several guys, and they all had positive reviews. Shoulder injuries went down. Upon coming to Baylor, we had a chance to implement the same thing. We’ve watched our occurrence of injuries and postseason surgeries come down subsequently.

“The pads have been shown to work at a high level, and we have had tremendous personal success with them. The vast majority of our players have enjoyed the pads and appreciated the commitment to their health and welfare. I’ve even had other coaches reach out to me over the years to ask about them.”

That seems to be the reaction from high schools — famed Mater Dei in Santa Ana, California, originally bought three sets and now the entire team is wearing XTECH — to college, where company co-founder Bob Broderick says close to 500 schools across all levels have players suiting up in the pads, with virtually the entire Washington State roster using them.

Dozens of players at the likes of Michigan, Penn State, Syracuse, Mississippi and Notre Dame use the pads.

As for the pros — the NFL does not survey shoulder pads as it does helmets — Patriots running back James White, in the midst of the finest season of his five-year career, says: “I like that the pads are light and give me a lot of range to move my arms. But at the same time, they give me all the protection my shoulders need. I’ve always given thought to my shoulder pads because as a person who runs and catches the football, I feel like you should have the right pads to help you get your job done.”

XTECH has been on the job for six years, though the work staff is small: 11 full-timers, seven part-timers. That could be increased as Broderick and co-founder Ted Monica break into the European market; there are distribution deals in place for January to expand in Germany, Switzerland and the UK. Also next year, XTECH will make available its first five-padded girdle; most states require all high school football players to wear a five-padded girdle.

Their Cover-2 Program works with NFL teams, current and former coaches and players to buy pads and donate them back to their high schools. Zach Ertz, Melvin Gordon and the McCourty brothers have done so, and the Giants donated equipment to the New York Police Department’s football squad.

Monica has worked in the football equipment world for nearly 38 years. He custom designs every pad, which Broderick says are the only pads made entirely in the United States.

What makes those pads stand out?

The patented design features the only dual-cantilever system on the market, an adjustable three-piece body system that allows each pad to fit the player’s body at the proper angle while creating a natural channel for the AC joint to sit in. On the performance side, a three-point swivel system allows for enhanced range of motion, and air flow occurs into the front and back to work in conjunction with uniforms, allowing for maximum ventilation.

Additionally, XTECH uses XRD Technology, which is well known in the military space and is the foam XTECH uses in the entire pad. XRD, a division of Rogers Corporation, has a multi-year exclusive partnership with XTECH for American football. Monica calls it “smart foam,” which is water resistant as well as highly protective and durable.

The majority of the shoulder pad industry uses foam from China and an “air management” system which was developed in the 1970s. Think of a pillow and every time you hit it air goes out the side, and it compresses down and is therefore less protective for the subsequent hit.

According to many of the players using XTech’s pads, that’s never been a concern.

Recent company addition Brooks Barnard is the vice president of sales and left Under Armour after 12 years overseeing its high school properties to join XTECH. He was attracted by XTech’s implementing “an idea that was disruptive and challenged a predictable way of thinking.”

“As I spent time in locker rooms across the country, I noticed the XTECH brand growing in popularity with elite athletes as their choice of pads to wear on Friday nights,” he says. “The design of XTECH naturally captures your attention and automatically engages any football mind. It was evident that XTECH was sought by top players at the NFL and NCAA level and a groundswell was happening at the high school level. Several of the nationally ranked programs in the country already had players in XTECH and I witnessed first-hand what top recruits were saying about the pad.”

If anyone needs a reliable shoulder pad, naturally it is Luck. The first overall selection in the 2012 draft and the Colts’ franchise QB since then never suited up in 2017. He’s back now and having a strong season despite a general dearth of talent around him.

Luck is intrigued by technology, but his reasons for switching to XTECH appear simpler.

“Just a little lighter,” Luck says. “Been wearing the same shoulder pads and thought I’d try a new one out. It didn’t come from a place that I need something different, I need more protection. It was just some new technology that our equipment managers came to me about and it’s worked well so far.”

___

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

Read More 1017 Words

NFL television ratings see increase for most packages

After years of declines, NFL television ratings are showing modest gains.

Three of the league's television partners have shown increases after the first nine week of the season while one remains flat. That is welcome news after ratings decreased 9.7 percent last season and 8 percent in 2016.

"I'm glad the league has

After years of declines, NFL television ratings are showing modest gains.

Three of the league’s television partners have shown increases after the first nine week of the season while one remains flat. That is welcome news after ratings decreased 9.7 percent last season and 8 percent in 2016.

“I’m glad the league has turned the corner. The top teams are very exciting and there are plenty of high-scoring games,” said Neil Pilson, the former president of CBS Sports who now runs his own sports television consulting company.

Pilson said a major ratings driver has been the emergence of young quarterbacks like the Rams’ Jared Goff, Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes and Bears’ Mitchell Trubisky. That has created a buzz not only with their teams but throughout the league.

Another factor is that player protests against social and racial injustice during the national anthem have not been a major storyline this season. Pilson noted that “a few of those folks who said they were going to stop watching I don’t know how many did.”

NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” package has shown the biggest improvement with an eight percent increase from last season. It is averaging 19.7 million viewers, compared to 18.3 million last season.

This past Sunday’s game between the Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots averaged a league-high 23.7 million, and was the largest prime-time audience on any network since ABC aired the Academy Awards in March. NBC has seen increases all but one week compared to last season.

“We’re looking forward to the second half of our schedule, which features many crucial divisional matchups, the Thanksgiving night game, plus the Week 17 flex game. We expect ‘Sunday Night Football’ to finish atop the prime-time rankings yet again,” NBC Sports Chairman Mark Lazarus said in a statement.

ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” is averaging 11.418 million, which is up three percent (11.135 million). Pilson has been critical of scheduling for Thursday and Monday nights in past seasons, but he said the league has made improvements in those areas. ESPN will have one of the marquee games of the season on Nov. 19 when Kansas City faces the Los Angeles Rams in Mexico City.

“For years I thought that they were burying those two nights but they have improved dramatically,” he said.

CBS’ Sunday afternoon games are averaging 15.713 million viewers, which is up one percent from last season (15.528 million). This past Sunday’s slate of five games, which was headlined by Pittsburgh at Baltimore, had a 10.0 household rating, which was up 23 percent from the same week last season.

CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus, whose network has Super Bowl 53, has been pleased with advertising sales for the rest of the season and the Feb. 3 game in Atlanta.

“There are a number of very good stories. Kansas City is a team of national interest, Mahomes has become a legit star and a lot of the big teams — including New Orleans, Pittsburgh and New England — are playing very well,” he said.

Fox’s Sunday afternoon coverage is averaging more viewers than CBS at 17.299 million, but this is a decrease of less than one percent from last season (17.414 million).

The only package that has sharply declined is Thursday Night Football. It is averaging 12.522 million viewers in its first season on Fox, which is down from the 14.134 million on CBS last season. Fox though is hopeful that the numbers can rebound over the next month, which includes Green Bay at Seattle (Nov. 15), New Orleans at Dallas (Nov. 29) and the Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City (Dec. 13).

Pilson and McManus both think the league’s overall improvements could carry through the second half. That’s even better news for McManus, as he sees a number of potential Super Bowl matchups that would bode well for CBS.

“I’m encouraged. There are a lot of good storylines that will carry throughout the next couple months,” he said. “With so much going on that is negative people are looking for an escape and football provides that for a lot of people.”

___

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

___

Follow Joe Reedy at www.twitter.com/joereedy

Read More 617 Words

Bryant practices with Saints, asserts he’s ‘not a bad guy.’

METAIRIE, La. (AP) — Dez Bryant wasn't about to declare himself a changed man just because he'd changed teams.

At age 30, the ninth-year NFL veteran receiver said he is comfortable with who he always has been and hopes he'll fit in with the New Orleans Saints, a team on a seven-game winning

METAIRIE, La. (AP) — Dez Bryant wasn’t about to declare himself a changed man just because he’d changed teams.

At age 30, the ninth-year NFL veteran receiver said he is comfortable with who he always has been and hopes he’ll fit in with the New Orleans Saints, a team on a seven-game winning streak that looks like it’s all-in to contend for a Super Bowl this season.

“I’m always going to be me, you know, who I am. I’m not a bad guy. I’ve always been a good guy,” Bryant said after his first practice with New Orleans on Thursday afternoon. “You can ask my teammates — my ex-teammates — how I am. I love the locker room. It’s like family. Every locker room that I’ve been in — from middle school, high school, college, to the pros — it’s always been like a family.”

Bryant was reticent when asked to go into detail about interest shown in him by other clubs. He is known to have met with Cleveland and Baltimore before his workout with New Orleans this week earned him a spot on a Saints offense that currently ranks seventh in the NFL and is led by the NFL’s all-time leader in completions and yards passing.

“Who wouldn’t want to play with Drew Brees,” said Bryant, who caught passes from Brees at practice on Thursday. “Not taking away from nobody else, but you got a guy like Drew Brees, like I said, you got a guy like Michael Thomas, (Ben) Watson, Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram. You got those types of guys.”

Bryant spent his first eight NFL seasons with Dallas and in 2017 caught 69 passes for 838 yards and six touchdowns, including a 50-yard scoring play, for the Cowboys.

However, his professional reputation has been marred at times by public confrontations with coaches and teammates during games and practices.

Last season was Bryant’s best since he caught 88 passes for 1,320 yards and 16 TDs in 2014, which at the time was his third consecutive season with at least 1,200 yards receiving. He signed his last Cowboys contract right after that, but has not approached that level of production since — a central reason Dallas released him in April with two years left on his five-year, $70 million contract.

Saints players sounded eager to see how Bryant might help.

Thomas, who is New Orleans’ leading receiver, said he has been following Bryant’s career.

“He’s definitely one of those guys you have to watch if you’re playing the receiver position,” Thomas said. “He’s a guy who’s done some great things at the position, so you just have to respect it and pick his brain. I asked him a lot of questions, and it’s just cool to play with a guy like that.”

Saints coach Sean Payton said Thursday that Bryant would be taking the spot on the active roster vacated by receiver Cameron Meredith, a free-agent signing last offseason who is coming back from a major knee injury, and who went on injured reserve after he and the club agreed he’d benefit from undergoing an arthroscopic cleanup on that same knee.

“He kept having the swelling week in and week out and he really was pushing through it,” Payton said.

Receiver Ted Ginn Jr. also is on injured reserve and cannot come back until the final few weeks of the regular season, if he’s ready by then.

It’s not clear how soon Bryant will have a regular role in New Orleans’ offense. Payton said Bryant is perhaps five pounds heavier than his ideal playing weight, which would be common among players who did not go through a training camp.

But Payton added, “we felt like he did a number of things that we liked in the workout.”

The signing sets the stage for Bryant to play in Dallas when the Saints visit the Cowboys for a Thursday night game on Nov. 29.

“I am going to be excited. I’ll get to see all the Cowboys fans. You know I still love those guys. I love my ex-teammates. They’re my family,” Bryant said. “But I’m here on a new chapter. It’s going to be fun, but I’m the opponent now.”

Bryant said he is “not at all” bitter about his departure from the Cowboys, adding, “That chapter’s closed. That’s something I had to accept. I accepted that and moved on.”

___

For more NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/NFL and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

Read More 669 Words

Eagles hitting stride, look to corral sliding Cowboys

Eagles hitting stride, look to corral sliding Cowboys

The Philadelphia

Eagles hitting stride, look to corral sliding Cowboys

The Philadelphia Eagles attempt to move back above .500 when they host the rival Dallas Cowboys Sunday night at Lincoln Financial Field.

The Eagles moved to 4-4 with a 24-18 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars in London followed by their bye week. The Cowboys fell to 3-5 following a 28-14 home loss to the Tennessee Titans on Monday night.

Philadelphia, the defending Super Bowl champions, will likely receive a boost with the return of right tackle Lane Johnson. Johnson has struggled with a high ankle and MCL sprain.

The Eagles will also feature a new addition, wide receiver Golden Tate, who was acquired before the trade deadline from the Detroit Lion for a fourth-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

“I’m going to tell you, he’s been in here every day,” Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said. “He and (wide receivers coach Gunter Brewer) and (offensive coordinator) Mike Groh, even myself, we’ve kind of tackled him every single day. Trying to get him caught up to just our terminology, the way we call things, how we line up. But he’s been awesome, been in here every day.”

The Eagles are 1-0 in the NFC East with a win over the New York Giants. They’ll try and continue the divisional momentum with a victory over the Cowboys.

“This rivalry, it’s an exciting rivalry,” Pederson said. “It’s two really great franchises, obviously, great teams. It’s always exciting, Dallas week. There’s a lot of energy. It’s an NFC East opponent, something that we talk about all the time. I go back to my days when I was here as a player, obviously, and playing the Cowboys and what it meant to obviously this city and our fans. So, I expect all our fans to be rocking the Linc Sunday night.”

The reeling Cowboys, who have dropped two games in a row, will be without left guard Connor Williams as he undergoes arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.

In the 14-point loss to the Titans, quarterback Dak Prescott was 21 of 31 for 243 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Prescott was also sacked five times.

Despite some struggles through the first eight games, Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said he’s confident in his young quarterback.

“His arrow is up,” Jones told ESPN.com of Prescott. “His arrow is up physically. It’s up mentally. Having seen him and know his consciousness to protect the ball is one of his virtues and I think I’m going to go with that.”

This will be the second game for wide receiver Amari Cooper in a Cowboys uniform. Cooper was traded from the Oakland Raiders to the Cowboys for a first-round draft pick before the trade deadline. Cooper had five catches for 58 yards and a touchdown against the Titans.

The Cowboys’ offense was shut out in the second half against the Titans, now making this game even more crucial against the Eagles.

“I very candidly didn’t see this coming,” Jones told reporters. “I thought we would be sitting here with a positive result. This is a surprise to me and is a setback.”

–Field Level Media

Read More 463 Words