NFL and College Football Articles

NFL and College Football Articles

Bears LB Mack (ankle) questionable vs. Pats

Bears LB Mack (ankle) questionable vs. Pats

Chicago Bears outside linebacker Khalil Mack is listed as questionable because of an injured ankle for the team's showdown against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots this Sunday.

Mack was listed as a limited practice participant on the Bears' Friday injury report

Bears LB Mack (ankle) questionable vs. Pats

Chicago Bears outside linebacker Khalil Mack is listed as questionable because of an injured ankle for the team’s showdown against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots this Sunday.

Mack was listed as a limited practice participant on the Bears’ Friday injury report after the star pass-rusher sat out workouts each of the previous two days.

The 27-year-old two-time All-Pro injured his ankle during last week’s loss at Miami. He played through the injury, but recorded only two tackles while not getting a sack for the first time this season.

Mack already has five sacks and four forced fumbles in his first five games with the 3-2 Bears since his trade from Oakland shortly before the season began.

Mack was joined by wide receiver Allen Robinson (groin) as Bears who returned to practice Friday and were pegged as questionable for Sunday. Cornerback Bryce Callahan (ankle) was also listed as questionable, although he sat out all of Friday’s practice. Cornerback Marcus Cooper (hamstring) was declared doubtful.

–Field Level Media

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Chargers downplay RB Gordon’s injury listing

Chargers downplay RB Gordon's injury listing

Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon was mentioned on Friday's NFL injury report with a hamstring injury, but head coach Anthony Lynn downplayed the listing and hinted that Gordon would be on the field Sunday.

The Chargers are in London, where they will

Chargers downplay RB Gordon’s injury listing

Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon was mentioned on Friday’s NFL injury report with a hamstring injury, but head coach Anthony Lynn downplayed the listing and hinted that Gordon would be on the field Sunday.

The Chargers are in London, where they will face the Tennessee Titans at Wembley Stadium.

Gordon, who has rushed for 466 yards and six touchdowns and has 279 yards receiving and three more receiving scores in six games, was placed on the injury report when he was limited in practice on Friday.

One sign of the Chargers’ confidence that Gordon will play: He wasn’t given a status designation, such as probable or questionable.

Lynn said Gordon’s shortened practice was more likely due to symptoms of dehydration rather than the hamstring.

“You know, I think it was just dehydration to be honest with you,” Lynn said. “Eight-hour plane ride. He didn’t drink enough water. So just playing the safe side today, and just kept him out of practice.”

The Chargers (4-2) will face the Titans (3-3) early Sunday morning Eastern time.

–Field Level Media

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Vikings RB Cook to miss third straight game

Vikings RB Cook to miss third straight game

Minnesota running back Dalvin Cook will miss third straight game with a hamstring injury when the Vikings face the New York Jets on Sunday.

Cook appeared to be making progress when he was a full practice participant on Wednesday. But he missed

Vikings RB Cook to miss third straight game

Minnesota running back Dalvin Cook will miss third straight game with a hamstring injury when the Vikings face the New York Jets on Sunday.

Cook appeared to be making progress when he was a full practice participant on Wednesday. But he missed the past two days and was declared as out on Friday’s injury report.

Cook has just 98 yards on 36 carries this season while dealing with the bothersome hamstring.

“It makes it difficult because you never really know,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer told reporters of Cook’s situation. “He comes out and he says, ‘Hey, I’m good to go.’ And it’s just kind of how it goes. You have to have versatility in your game plan.”

Latavius Murray will start in Cook’s place.

Murray racked up a career-high 155 yards on 24 carries in last Sunday’s win over the Arizona Cardinals.

“He’s a guy that needs carries and the physicality of things,” Zimmer said. “I like Latavius and the way he approaches the game, and typically he’s not a one-carry-every-quarter guy, he’s a guy that needs to get the football some.”

Minnesota also ruled out offensive tackle Riley Reiff (foot), safety Andrew Sendejo (groin) and defensive end Everson Griffen (mental health).

Defensive tackle Linval Joseph (ankle, knee, shoulder) is listed as questionable.

–Field Level Media

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WR Hilton slated to return for Colts

WR Hilton slated to return for Colts

The Indianapolis Colts ruled out five players for Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills, while it appears top receiver T.Y. Hilton is set to return after a two-game absence.

Hilton was no longer listed on the injury report after being a full participant

WR Hilton slated to return for Colts

The Indianapolis Colts ruled out five players for Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills, while it appears top receiver T.Y. Hilton is set to return after a two-game absence.

Hilton was no longer listed on the injury report after being a full participant in Friday’s practice. He has been ailing with chest and hamstring injuries since being hurt in the Week 4 loss to the Houston Texans.

Hilton has 21 receptions for 294 yards and two touchdowns in four games this season.

Listed as out by the Colts are defensive lineman Denico Autry (hamstring), tight end Jack Doyle (hip), safety Clayton Geathers (concussion, neck), receiver Ryan Grant (ankle) and running back Robert Turbin (shoulder).

Doyle will be missing his fourth straight contest while Autry and Geathers are missing their second in a row.

Indianapolis listed cornerbacks Arthur Maulet (hip) and Chris Milton (hamstring), as well as tight end Erik Swoope (knee) as questionable.

Linebacker Darius Leonard (ankle) didn’t practice Friday but is expected to play. He leads the AFC with 62 tackles.

–Field Level Media

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Browns trade RB Hyde to Jaguars

Browns trade RB Hyde to Jaguars

The Cleveland Browns have traded running back Carlos Hyde to the Jacksonville Jaguars for a fifth-round draft pick, the Browns confirmed Friday.

Hyde can help the Jaguars to replace the yards lost with the injury to No. 1 running back Leonard Fournette, who has

Browns trade RB Hyde to Jaguars

The Cleveland Browns have traded running back Carlos Hyde to the Jacksonville Jaguars for a fifth-round draft pick, the Browns confirmed Friday.

Hyde can help the Jaguars to replace the yards lost with the injury to No. 1 running back Leonard Fournette, who has missed much of the young season with a hamstring injury. He has played in just parts of two games and gained 71 yards on 20 carries.

Fournette’s backup, T.J. Yeldon, also has been fighting injuries. The Jaguars also lost Corey Grant with a foot injury.

A product of Ohio State, Hyde was selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft. The Browns signed him to a three-year, $15 million contract in the offseason.

In six games (five starts) with the Browns, Hyde carried the ball 114 times for 382 yards and scored five touchdowns and added six receptions for 29 yards.

The trade should mean more playing time for rookie Nick Chubb, a second-round draft pick this year by Cleveland. Chubb, who played college football at Georgia, has carried the ball 16 times for the Browns and gained 173 yards, an average of 10.8 yards per carry.

–Field Level Media

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Raiders RB Lynch out at least a month

Raiders RB Lynch out at least a month

Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch is expected to miss at least a month due to a groin injury, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Friday.

Lynch underwent an MRI exam earlier this week. The Raiders may place the 32-year-old on injured

Raiders RB Lynch out at least a month

Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch is expected to miss at least a month due to a groin injury, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Friday.

Lynch underwent an MRI exam earlier this week. The Raiders may place the 32-year-old on injured reserve.

Lynch was injured during last Sunday’s loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

Lynch has rushed for 376 yards and three touchdowns this season.

Doug Martin will receive a heavier workload in Lynch’s absence. He has rushed for 99 yards on 27 carries.

The Raiders (1-5) have a bye this week.

–Field Level Media

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Redskins RB Peterson questionable for Cowboys

Redskins RB Peterson questionable for Cowboys

The Washington Redskins listed running back Adrian Peterson as questionable with a shoulder injury on Friday, but he is expected to play against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.

Peterson said he feels much better than he did last week, when he labored through pregame

Redskins RB Peterson questionable for Cowboys

The Washington Redskins listed running back Adrian Peterson as questionable with a shoulder injury on Friday, but he is expected to play against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.

Peterson said he feels much better than he did last week, when he labored through pregame preparations and rushed for 97 yards on 17 carries against the Carolina Panthers.

Peterson, who has rushed for 339 yards on the season, also is bothered by a tender ankle.

Washington ruled out Jamison Crowder (ankle) for the contest. Fellow receiver Paul Richardson (shoulder, knee) and safety Troy Apke (hamstring) were listed as doubtful.

“He’s getting his knee checked out and still dealing with his shoulder,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden told reporters of Richardson. “So, we’re trying to get him some rest, see if he can do anything.”

Cornerbacks Quinton Dunbar (shin) and Danny Johnson (forearm), guard Shawn Lauvao (calf) and running back Chris Thompson (rib, knee) are listed as questionable.

–Field Level Media

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NFL notebook: With RB Fournette out, Jaguars acquire Hyde

NFL notebook: With RB Fournette out, Jaguars acquire Hyde

With starting running back Leonard Fournette ruled out for his third straight game and limited to just 20 carries this season, the Jacksonville Jaguars have acquired Carlos Hyde from the Cleveland Browns for a fifth-round draft pick.

Fournette suffered a hamstring

NFL notebook: With RB Fournette out, Jaguars acquire Hyde

With starting running back Leonard Fournette ruled out for his third straight game and limited to just 20 carries this season, the Jacksonville Jaguars have acquired Carlos Hyde from the Cleveland Browns for a fifth-round draft pick.

Fournette suffered a hamstring injury in the season opener against the New York Giants and missed the next two games. He aggravated it in Week 4 when he returned to play against the New York Jets. Fournette’s backup, T.J. Yeldon, also has been fighting injuries and the Jaguars lost Corey Grant with a foot injury.

A product of Ohio State, Hyde was selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft. The Browns signed him to a three-year, $15 million contract in the offseason. In six games (five starts) with the Browns, Hyde carried the ball 114 times for 382 yards and scored five touchdowns and added six receptions for 29 yards.

The trade should mean more playing time for rookie Nick Chubb, a second-round draft pick this year by Cleveland. Chubb, who played college football at Georgia, has carried the ball 16 times for the Browns and gained 173 yards, an average of 10.8 yards per carry.

–Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch is expected to miss at least a month due to a groin injury, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported.

Lynch underwent an MRI exam earlier this week after suffering the injury last Sunday during a loss to the Seattle Seahawks. The Raiders may place the 32-year-old on injured reserve.

Lynch has rushed for 376 yards and three touchdowns this season for the Raiders (1-5). Doug Martin will receive a heavier workload in Lynch’s absence. He has rushed for 99 yards on 27 carries.

–Odell Beckham Jr. said he is ready to do his part to get the New York Giants back on a winning path, but the outspoken wide receiver said he can’t do it alone.

“I’m ready to talk about the Atlanta Falcons,” Beckham said. “I think we’re 1-5 and we need to start winning games. “Everybody needs to do more. I need to play better. I can’t say that I’ve had my best games. I can’t say I’ve done enough. … We win games together, we lose games together.”

With the Giants at 1-5 entering Monday night’s game in Atlanta, Beckham put himself on the spot by flinging arrows at teammates and the offense in general in a wide-ranging ESPN interview last week. Beckham’s critique drew the ire of ownership, and John Mara said publicly he needs “less talk, more play” from the newly minted Beckham. On Friday, Beckham said he has not yet talked to Mara and did not confirm he was fined by the team as ESPN reported this week.

–The Arizona Cardinals fired offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and promoted quarterbacks coach Byron Leftwich to the play-caller position.

The move comes hours after a 45-10 loss to the Denver Broncos on Thursday night, which dropped the Cardinals to 1-6 on the season. The Cardinals are 31st in the league in scoring at 13.1 points per game this season. They were limited to 223 total yards against the Broncos and haven’t had more than 269 yards in a game this season.

Leftwich, a former first-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars, joined the Cardinals as an intern in 2016 under former coach Bruce Arians. He takes up the task of guiding rookie quarterback Josh Rosen and turning the offense around. Rosen had a season-worst five turnovers on Thursday night. His 1.9 QBR on Thursday is the second-worst by any quarterback this season, surpassed only by Bills QB Nathan Peterman’s lowly 1.1 rating in Week 1.

–Rookie running back Royce Freeman sprained his ankle in the Denver Broncos’ Thursday night rout of the Cardinals, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Freeman, who has started every game for the Broncos this season, left the 45-10 victory after carrying the ball 13 times for 37 yards and a touchdown. He reportedly could miss some time, but the Broncos don’t play again until Oct. 28 vs. the Kansas City Chiefs.

Freeman, 22, was drafted by the Broncos in the third round of the 2018 draft, 71st overall. The rookie has rushed 71 times for 309 yards and four touchdowns through his first seven games.

–Field Level Media

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Jets’ Myers kicked way through ‘long road’ into record books

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Jason Myers kept jogging onto the field to kick one field goal after another.

Once, twice, six times.

By the time he went out to boot his seventh last Sunday, the New York Jets kicker wasn't sure how many he had against Denver.

Myers just knew there were

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Jason Myers kept jogging onto the field to kick one field goal after another.

Once, twice, six times.

By the time he went out to boot his seventh last Sunday, the New York Jets kicker wasn’t sure how many he had against Denver.

Myers just knew there were lots of them.

“Someone goes, ‘Man, how many was that?'” a smiling Myers recalled Friday. “I started counting and I lost count.”

Totally understandable, of course. That’ll happen when you make a franchise-record seven field goals, the second-most in NFL history. Myers was one shy of the eight by Tennessee’s Rob Bironas in 2007. His 24 total points — seven field goals and three extra points — were just two short of Bironas’ mark for the most in league history by a player who didn’t score a touchdown.

“It’s fun to get all that work in,” Myers said. “I didn’t even know where they were from until after the game. But, yeah, it was fun.”

Myers got things started with a 30-yarder in the first quarter. He had a 48-yarder in the second and closed the opening half with a 32-yard kick.

His 37-yarder in the third quarter gave him four.

Then came the fourth quarter, when he made field goals of 45, 37 and 45 yards to help lift the Jets to a 42-34 victory. The Jets’ offense ranks last in the NFL in red-zone efficiency and scored just one touchdown in six opportunities against the Colts, but Myers was there to give them a boost with his busy leg.

Myers was also selected the AFC’s special teams player of the week for his performance.

“That was really out of the ordinary,” long snapper Thomas Hennessy said. “I think in the fourth quarter, we had three or something, so I definitely knew that we were approaching an amount that is not normal.”

Myers’ path to the Jets’ record books has also been unusual, with plenty of twists and turns.

Just two months ago, he didn’t know if he’d have a job in the NFL after being cut by Seattle. Today, he leads NFL kickers with 63 points and 16 field goals, and is tied with Kansas City’s Harrison Butker for the most touchbacks with 32.

“I think the progression of Jason’s career is just awesome and it’s an awesome testament that the guy stuck through it all like that,” Jets special teams coordinator Brant Boyer said. “To see success happen for him, I think it’s really cool because he’s such a great kid and he’s a hard worker. Just seeing him come in and have success, I was proud as hell of him.”

The 27-year-old San Diego native grew up playing football, soccer and baseball at Mater Dei Catholic High School, but his success as a kicker had him focused on the gridiron for college. The offers weren’t flooding his mailbox, though.

“I was a late bloomer,” he said with a shrug.

He considered going to junior college before Marist College — on the other side of the country, tucked in the town of Poughkeepsie, New York — came calling.

So, Myers traded the sun of southern California for the chilly northeast.

“I came out for an official visit and I loved the campus, loved everything,” said Myers, who kicked four seasons for the Red Foxes.

The NFL was still a long way off, though, especially after going undrafted and unsigned in 2013. Myers went to the Arena Football League the following year and had stints with Arizona and San Jose.

“I was there just for a hot second,” Myers said. “It was good. It helped me keep kicking.”

His big NFL break came in March 2015, when Jacksonville signed him to a free-agent deal. Five months later, the Jaguars traded Josh Scobee to Pittsburgh — making Myers their kicker.

He led the league with 12 field-goal attempts of more than 50 yards, and for the most made with seven. His 80 percent touchback rate made him a reliable asset to Jacksonville’s special teams unit.

But that all changed when he missed three long field goals in Week 6 last season against the Rams. He was released and had a few workouts with teams, but remained unemployed until Seattle signed him a few days after the regular season ended.

He lost a camp competition in Seattle to Sebastian Janikowski and was again without an NFL gig for a few days until the Jets claimed him off waivers.

Myers hopped on a red-eye flight to New Jersey, got off the plane, headed to the Jets’ facility and immediately linked up with Hennessy and punter Lachlan Edwards on the practice field. Myers proceeded to boot 20 consecutive field goals.

“And he hit one from like 63 (yards) or something,” Hennessy recalled. “His focus was amazing, especially since there was so much going on at that point. It was impressive.”

Two days after his first practice with the Jets, Myers was kicking for them in the team’s third preseason game — on his way to securing the job with New York.

“If I would’ve sat back and thought about how fast everything moved that week, I think I probably would’ve not been able to do as well as I did,” he said. “I just kind of kept rolling and took it day by day.”

And one kick at time. All the way to a spot in Jets history.

“I’ve definitely taken the long road,” he said. “It was a little tougher, but it kind of helps me be who I am — mentally tough — and I don’t take all that stuff the wrong way. It just kind of helps build my character, who I am. I kind of use it as a positive and keep building off it.”

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AP Source: Raiders RB Lynch to miss month with groin injury

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) — Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch will miss at least a month because of a groin injury.

A person familiar with the injury said Friday that an MRI this week determined the severity of the injury. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the team has not made

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) — Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch will miss at least a month because of a groin injury.

A person familiar with the injury said Friday that an MRI this week determined the severity of the injury. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the team has not made any announcement. NFL Network first reported the diagnosis.

Lynch was hurt last week in Oakland’s 27-3 loss to Seattle in London. The Raiders (1-5) are off this week and will play again on Oct. 28 at home against Indianapolis. Oakland could choose to place Lynch on injured reserve, which would require him to miss at least eight weeks.

The 32-year-old Lynch has been one of the few bright spots for the Raiders this season. He ranks 12th in the league with 376 yards rushing, averaging 4.2 yards per carry with three touchdowns. Lynch ranks fourth in the NFL in rushing since Week 12 last season.

Lynch’s best game came in Oakland’s only win when he ran for 130 yards last month against Cleveland when he showed off the power that earned him the nickname Beast Mode. Lynch came out of retirement last season in order to join the hometown Raiders before they move to Las Vegas in 2020. He is in the final year of his contract.

With Lynch sidelined, the struggling Raiders will likely turn to Doug Martin and Jalen Richard to carry the bulk of the load at running back. Martin was signed to be the main backup to Lynch this season but has been unproductive so far. He has 27 carries for 99 yards and four catches for 5 yards this season. He is averaging just 3.0 yards per carry since the start of the 2016 season.

Richard is more of a receiving back, ranking second on the team with 31 catches for 253 yards. Richard has carried the ball 11 times for 32 yards this year and has never had more than nine carries in a game in his three seasons in the NFL.

The only other halfback on the roster is DeAndre Washington, who injured his knee in training camp and has not been active yet despite being healthy the past few weeks. Washington has rushed for 620 yards on 144 carries in two seasons in the NFL. His most productive game came as a rookie in 2016 when he ran for 99 yards and a TD on 12 carries against the Colts on Christmas Eve.

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Dolphins’ Wake might return against Lions; Riddick out

MIAMI (AP) — Miami Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake is on a course to return Sunday against Detroit from a knee injury that sidelined him the past two weeks.

Wake is listed as questionable but took full part in practice Friday. He coyly declined to say whether he expected to play but added,

MIAMI (AP) — Miami Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake is on a course to return Sunday against Detroit from a knee injury that sidelined him the past two weeks.

Wake is listed as questionable but took full part in practice Friday. He coyly declined to say whether he expected to play but added, “It’ll be Christmas morning on Sunday.”

The return of Wake would be timely because Miami defensive ends Charles Harris (calf) and Jonathan Woodard (concussion) were ruled out.

Lions running back Theo Riddick, who has 23 catches this season, was ruled with a knee injury. That could mean more snaps for rookie Kerryon Johnson, especially on third down.

Miami cornerback Bobby McCain is questionable but took full part in practice and is expected to return from a knee injury.

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Saints scratch Peat vs. Ravens, hope Ginn plays this season

METAIRIE, La. (AP) — Saints coach Sean Payton says there is a "very realistic" possibility of injured receiver Ted Ginn Jr. playing again this season.

Meanwhile, New Orleans has ruled out left guard Andrus Peat and listed right guard Larry Warford as questionable for Sunday's game at Baltimore.

Peat has missed practice this

METAIRIE, La. (AP) — Saints coach Sean Payton says there is a “very realistic” possibility of injured receiver Ted Ginn Jr. playing again this season.

Meanwhile, New Orleans has ruled out left guard Andrus Peat and listed right guard Larry Warford as questionable for Sunday’s game at Baltimore.

Peat has missed practice this week with a head injury, while Warford has been hampered by back soreness.

Ginn was placed on injured reserve on Thursday because of a nagging knee injury that Payton says will require arthroscopic surgery. Under NFL rules, teams may bring up to two players back to the active roster after they have spent at least eight weeks on injured reserve.

If Ginn recovers on schedule, he’d be eligible to play again in Week 15. That means he’d be able to play in up to three regular season games plus any playoff games, should the NFC South-leading Saints qualify for the postseason.

Ginn has played in four games this season, catching 12 passes for 135 yards and two touchdowns.

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Jaguars acquire RB Hyde from Browns in trade for draft pick

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Jacksonville Jaguars traded for Cleveland running back Carlos Hyde on Friday, adding a proven starter while Leonard Fournette progresses slowly from a strained right hamstring.

The Browns (2-3-1) will get a 2019 fifth-round draft pick from the Jaguars in exchange for Hyde, who has 382 yards rushing and

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Jacksonville Jaguars traded for Cleveland running back Carlos Hyde on Friday, adding a proven starter while Leonard Fournette progresses slowly from a strained right hamstring.

The Browns (2-3-1) will get a 2019 fifth-round draft pick from the Jaguars in exchange for Hyde, who has 382 yards rushing and five touchdowns in his first season in Cleveland. Hyde signed a three-year, $15.25 million contract in March.

The Jaguars (3-3) were willing to take on the financial commitment because leading rusher T.J. Yeldon will become a free agent at the end of this season. So will third-stringer Corey Grant, who was placed on injured reserve last week because of a foot injury. The Jaguars signed veteran Jamaal Charles to a one-year contract to replace Grant.

Fournette was ruled out for Sunday’s game against Houston. It will be the fifth game he’s missed this season because of the nagging injury.

Cleveland had seemed pleased with Hyde, but his departure clears the way for rookie Nick Chubb to be the team’s primary back. He’s averaging nearly 10 yards per carry.

Browns general manager John Dorsey continues to revamp the team’s roster and add picks. In addition to their own picks in the first six rounds, the Browns acquired a third-rounder from New England, Jacksonville’s fifth-rounder, another fifth-rounder from New England and a seventh-rounder from Jacksonville.

The NFL trading deadline is Oct. 30.

The Jaguars built their offense around Fournette, a bruising runner and the fourth overall pick in the 2017 draft. He tried to return after missing two games earlier this season but re-injured his hamstring and has been sidelined since. Yeldon, meanwhile, is dealing with foot and ankle injuries.

Making Jacksonville’s offense even more stagnant, the team is without its top two left tackles, its top two tight ends and its leading receiver from 2017.

The 28-year-old Hyde was off to an impressive start in Cleveland. But he was taking playing time away from Chubb, who scored on two long touchdown runs at Oakland on Sept. 30 and enters Sunday’s game averaging 10.8 yards on 16 carries. Also, running back Duke Johnson had gone from being a dual threat to mainly a receiver. He’s had just 19 carries this season.

Earlier this week, Browns coach Hue Jackson said it was vital to get Chubb more touches. Chubb had only three carries for 25 yards last week in a loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.

“We need to get him more chances,” Jackson said. “But I think sometimes the game changes, you get behind and you need Duke Johnson out there because that is what he does well — catch the ball and run it. I think that is what you were seeing yesterday. As these games get a little closer, they do not get too far away and we can get up whatever that is, we do need to give Nick Chubb more carries.”

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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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Bears’ Khalil Mack practices but questionable for 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

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.

“That’s just who he is,” the coach said.

Ultimately, the decision will depend on Mack and the medical evaluations.

“When we get to the time when we’ve got to make a decision, then we’ll go with what we feel is best for him and best for the team,” Nagy said.

Mack has five sacks, and last week was held without a sack for the first time this season. He didn’t comment Friday on his injury, but wants to see the Bears defense bounce back from its worst game of the year when they face the Patriots.

“They’re very explosive,” Mack said. “They’ve got weapons over the top. They’ve got some good backs. And so it’s going to be a challenge.”

Mack called last week’s overtime loss and 31 points allowed “difficult to handle.”

Wide receiver Allen Robinson II practiced Friday on a limited basis after missing Thursday’s practice because of a groin injury. He is questionable.

Cornerback Bryce Callahan is also questionable after missing Friday’s practice because of an ankle injury from Thursday’s practice. Cornerback Marcus Cooper (hamstring) is doubtful. Cornerback Prince Amukamara (hamstring) and guard Eric Kush (neck) were removed from the injury list and are expected to play.

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Broncos reverse the script, can they keep it up?

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — The Denver Broncos will try to replicate their energy and emotion from their 45-10 blowout of the Arizona Cardinals so they don't fall into the same morass they did the last time they ran up the score on an overwhelmed opponent.

They walloped the Dallas Cowboys 42-17 in Week

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — The Denver Broncos will try to replicate their energy and emotion from their 45-10 blowout of the Arizona Cardinals so they don’t fall into the same morass they did the last time they ran up the score on an overwhelmed opponent.

They walloped the Dallas Cowboys 42-17 in Week 2 last season.

They then won just five of their next 20 games, suffering through a franchise-worst eight-game skid last year and a four-game losing streak this season that had general manager John Elway reprising his “soft” label for a deficient defense and spurring fans to call for coach Vance Joseph’s job.

Then, on a short week, the Broncos (3-4) backed up Von Miller’s smack talk and outclassed the Cardinals (1-6) just as their superstar linebacker had promised, flipping the script maybe on what had been a soured season.

Miller’s message was actually directed at his own shaken team in hopes of restoring its swagger.

“It’s not even like me,” Miller said, “But I thought it was the best thing to do to get my teammates going.”

Miller first asked if his teammates had his back.

“We said, ‘Yeah, we got you. Go ahead and say it,'” said cornerback Bradley Roby. “When he put it out there, it put confidence in this team and I think it brought the best out of us.”

It sure brought the best out of Roby, a former first-round pick who had struggled in his first season as a starter opposite star Chris Harris Jr ., who had a pick-6 Thursday night along with linebacker Todd Davis .

Roby gave up three long touchdowns against the Jets two weeks ago, then failed to follow protocol for a sick day the next morning.

Against the Cardinals, Roby broke up four passes and recorded his first interception of the season.

“He really played well yesterday,” Joseph said. “For this defense to work, the corners have to play well. Chris has played well the entire season.”

Another former first-rounder who was also struggling, left tackle Garett Bolles, played his best game against Arizona and wasn’t whistled for any flags after drawing an NFL-high six holding calls going in.

Roby and Bolles hadn’t been benched like right guard Connor McGovern was last week because the Broncos lack depth at cornerback and tackle. So, Joseph was left to let Roby and Bolles work out their difficulties in the glare of the game.

“I thought Bolles played one of his best games of the year,” Joseph said, praising Bolles’ work blocking pass rusher Chandler Jones.

The Broncos have a long weekend now to relish their slump-busting victory before getting ready for their rematch with the Chiefs , who rallied for a 27-23 victory in Denver three weeks ago.

“Like Coach Joseph said, in this league, when you lose you feel like you’re never going to win again and when you win, you feel like you’re never going to lose again,” receiver Emmanuel Sanders said. “It’s one of those situations we can build off.

“Obviously, you all heard about Von’s ‘We’re going to kick their’ you-know-the-word. We went out and did it and it feels good,” said Sanders, who both threw and caught a TD pass against Arizona . “Now we got 10 or 11 days until we go out to Kansas City. We’ll just sit back, watch some football over the weekend feeling confident in yourself. Hopefully, we can keep building off this.”

As for Miller, he doesn’t anticipate issuing a similar warning next week when the Broncos visit Arrowhead.

“Honestly, it wasn’t even for the Cardinals; it was for my teammates,” said Miller, who collected two strip sacks of rookie Josh Rosen. “It was just to put us in that mentality, no backing down now. I think we have a great football team. We have great leadership. We have a great GM, great owner, great coaches, and we have great players.

“I just thought what we were missing is the confidence part of it.”

That’s been restored in a big way.

Notes: Joseph said RB Royce Freeman (ankle) and WR/PR DaeSean Hamilton (knee) were day to day but S Darian Stewart (neck), who sustained his third stinger in three weeks, may be out a while. … Joseph said CB Adam Jones (thigh) should return this week and OLB Shane Ray (ankle) and RT Jared Veldheer (knee) are day to day.

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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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Bengals, Chiefs could be missing key players to injuries

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Cincinnati Bengals and Kansas City Chiefs could be without several starters on their already porous defenses when they meet Sunday night at Arrowhead Stadium.

The Bengals ruled out first-round pick Darqueze Dennard, their best slot cornerback, with a shoulder injury Friday. They also ruled out linebacker Nick

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Cincinnati Bengals and Kansas City Chiefs could be without several starters on their already porous defenses when they meet Sunday night at Arrowhead Stadium.

The Bengals ruled out first-round pick Darqueze Dennard, their best slot cornerback, with a shoulder injury Friday. They also ruled out linebacker Nick Vigil with a knee injury and listed safety Shawn Williams as questionable with a concussion

Running back Giovani Bernard (knee), tight end Tyler Kroft (foot) and center Billy Price (foot) are also out for Cincinnati.

The Chiefs are expected to be without Eric Berry (heel) and Justin Houston (hamstring), who are both listed as doubtful. Pass rusher Tanoh Kpassagnon was limited in practice Friday with an ankle injury, while safety Eric Murray was also questionable with an ankle injury.

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Jaguars trade draft pick to Browns for running back Hyde

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Jacksonville Jaguars traded for Cleveland running back Carlos Hyde on Friday, adding a proven starter while Leonard Fournette progresses slowly from a strained right hamstring.

The Browns (2-3-1) will get a 2019 fifth-round draft pick from the Jaguars in exchange for Hyde, who has 382 yards rushing and

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Jacksonville Jaguars traded for Cleveland running back Carlos Hyde on Friday, adding a proven starter while Leonard Fournette progresses slowly from a strained right hamstring.

The Browns (2-3-1) will get a 2019 fifth-round draft pick from the Jaguars in exchange for Hyde, who has 382 yards rushing and five touchdowns in his first season in Cleveland. Hyde signed a three-year, $15.25 million contract in March.

The Jaguars (3-3) were willing to take on the financial commitment because leading rusher T.J. Yeldon will become a free agent at the end of this season. So will third-stringer Corey Grant, who was placed on injured reserve last week because of a foot injury. The Jaguars signed veteran Jamaal Charles to a one-year contract to replace Grant.

Fournette was ruled out for Sunday’s game against Houston. It will be the fifth game he’s missed this season because of the nagging injury.

Cleveland had seemed pleased with Hyde, but his departure clears the way for rookie Nick Chubb to be the team’s primary back. He’s averaging nearly 10 yards per carry.

Browns general manager John Dorsey continues to revamp the team’s roster and add picks. In addition to their own picks in the first six rounds, the Browns acquired a third-rounder from New England, Jacksonville’s fifth-rounder, another fifth-rounder from New England and a seventh-rounder from Jacksonville.

The Jaguars built their offense around Fournette, a bruising runner and the fourth overall pick in the 2017 draft. He tried to return after missing two games earlier this season but re-injured his hamstring and has been sidelined since. Yeldon, meanwhile, is dealing with foot and ankle injuries.

Making Jacksonville’s offense even more stagnant, the team is without its top two left tackles, its top two tight ends and its leading receiver from 2017.

The 28-year-old Hyde was off to an impressive start in Cleveland. But he was taking playing time away from Chubb, who scored on two long touchdown runs at Oakland on Sept. 30 and enters Sunday’s game averaging 10.8 yards on 16 carries. Also, running back Duke Johnson had gone from being a dual threat to mainly a receiver. He’s had just 19 carries this season.

Earlier this week, Browns coach Hue Jackson said it was vital to get Chubb more touches. Chubb had only three carries for 25 yards last week in a loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.

“We need to get him more chances,” Jackson said. “But I think sometimes the game changes, you get behind and you need Duke Johnson out there because that is what he does well — catch the ball and run it. I think that is what you were seeing yesterday. As these games get a little closer, they do not get too far away and we can get up whatever that is, we do need to give Nick Chubb more carries.”

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Report: Rihanna backed players, turned down SB LIII halftime

Report: Rihanna backed players, turned down SB LIII halftime

Superstar singer Rihanna turned down an invitation to perform at the 2019 Super Bowl in solidarity with protesting NFL players, according to multiple reports.

"The NFL and CBS really wanted Rihanna to be next year's performer in Atlanta," a source told

Report: Rihanna backed players, turned down SB LIII halftime

Superstar singer Rihanna turned down an invitation to perform at the 2019 Super Bowl in solidarity with protesting NFL players, according to multiple reports.

“The NFL and CBS really wanted Rihanna to be next year’s performer in Atlanta,” a source told US Weekly, which first reported the news. “They offered it to her, but she said no because of the kneeling controversy. She doesn’t agree with the NFL’s stance.”

Rihanna, who reportedly has an album and tour in the works, declined on principle despite the potential exposure, according to another source.

“The offer and exposure would have been great for Rihanna as she’s planning a new album and tour but she stuck to what’s right in her eyes,” a person close to the singer reportedly told Entertainment Weekly.

Rolling Stone said it had independently confirmed the news on Friday morning.

Fellow singer Pink, who performed the national anthem before Super Bowl LII in February, was also reportedly considered, but never reached an agreement.

Maroon 5, fronted by Adam Levine, was reportedly offered the job and accepted, though no formal announcement has been made.

Super Bowl LIII will take place in Atlanta on Feb. 3.

–Field Level Media

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Jaguars RB Fournette to miss third straight game

Jaguars RB Fournette to miss third straight game

Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette will miss his third consecutive game with a hamstring injury after being ruled out of Sunday's game against the Houston Texans.

Fournette suffered the injury in the season opener against the New York Giants and missed

Jaguars RB Fournette to miss third straight game

Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette will miss his third consecutive game with a hamstring injury after being ruled out of Sunday’s game against the Houston Texans.

Fournette suffered the injury in the season opener against the New York Giants and missed the next two games. He aggravated it in Week 4 when he returned to play against the New York Jets.

Fournette has just 71 yards on 20 carries this season. T.J. Yeldon (299) again will be the main ball carrier.

Standout defensive Calais Campbell was listed as questionable on Jacksonville’s Friday injury report due to an ankle injury.

Campbell has four sacks in six games this season. He posted a career-best 14.5 last season.

Cornerback D.J. Hayden (toe) and tight end James O’Shaughnessy (hip) also will sit out the contest. Cornerback Tre Herndon (hamstring) and offensive lineman Will Richardson Jr. (knee) are listed as questionable.

–Field Level Media

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Browns’ Garrett complains about officiating after bad calls

BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Browns defensive end Myles Garrett flagged NFL officials, saying he's tired of bad calls going against Cleveland.

Garrett spoke out on Friday and said he doesn't care if he gets fined by the league for his comments because "something needs to be said."

He was particularly upset about a

BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Browns defensive end Myles Garrett flagged NFL officials, saying he’s tired of bad calls going against Cleveland.

Garrett spoke out on Friday and said he doesn’t care if he gets fined by the league for his comments because “something needs to be said.”

He was particularly upset about a non-call last week against the Los Angeles Chargers, whose left tackle Russell Okung clearly moved before the snap to block Garrett. The play was allowed to continue and Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers threw a touchdown pass.

Garrett argued that not only should Okung have been penalized, but if he had continued rushing he may have sacked Rivers or forced a fumble.

Garrett also pointed to a fumble that was whistled dead on Oct. 30 at Oakland. The Browns stripped Raiders quarterback David Carr, recovered the ball and were running for a TD. But officials ruled Carr was in the grasp.

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

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Jets’ secondary will be down a few key players vs. Vikings

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — New York Jets cornerback Buster Skrine and safety Marcus Maye are out for the team's game against the Minnesota Vikings with injuries, and cornerback Trumaine Johnson is doubtful to play.

The Jets will have to face a Vikings offense on Sunday that includes wide receiver Adam Thielen, who

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — New York Jets cornerback Buster Skrine and safety Marcus Maye are out for the team’s game against the Minnesota Vikings with injuries, and cornerback Trumaine Johnson is doubtful to play.

The Jets will have to face a Vikings offense on Sunday that includes wide receiver Adam Thielen, who leads the NFL in receptions and yards receiving.

Skrine has a concussion that has caused him to miss most of the last two games. Maye is dealing with a broken right thumb. Meanwhile, Johnson — the Jets’ top free-agent signing — will likely miss his third straight game with a quadriceps injury.

New York could also be short-handed at wide receiver, with Quincy Enunwa having been previously ruled out with a sprained ankle and Terrelle Pryor doubtful with a groin injury.

Linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis (foot) is doubtful, and running back Isaiah Crowell (foot) is questionable.

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Chargers duo Rivers, Gates back in London 10 years later

Ten years after their first trip to London, Los Angeles Chargers veterans Phillip Rivers and Antonio Gates are keen to see how much the British audience has learned about the American version of football.

Rivers and Gates took part in the second regular-season game played at Wembley back in 2008, when the NFL

Ten years after their first trip to London, Los Angeles Chargers veterans Phillip Rivers and Antonio Gates are keen to see how much the British audience has learned about the American version of football.

Rivers and Gates took part in the second regular-season game played at Wembley back in 2008, when the NFL was still a bit of a curiosity and large parts of the crowd didn’t quite understand the sport.

“I remember like if it was yesterday,” Gates said. “The ball would be punted in the air and the crowd would be making noise. We were like, ‘what are you making noise about?’ But it was just their way. They’re used to watching soccer, and the chants and things of that nature. It was foreign to us, just like we were foreign to them.

“And now I think over the years, they’ve learned to grasp a little bit more a better concept of the game of American football. Most people understand it now here.”

That was the goal behind the NFL’s decision to stage annual games in London — to grow the interest and understanding of the game overseas. When the Chargers (4-2) host the Tennessee Titans (3-3) at Wembley on Sunday, it will be the 23rd game played in London since 2007.

“I’m interested to see again the atmosphere in the stadium,” Rivers said. “Last week, I hear it was an unbelievable crowd for Oakland and Seattle. I remember there being a great crowd 10 years. I just remember so many different jerseys from so many different teams represented. The energy was in there. A long pass, or a ball getting kicked, all those things got the crowd going pretty good.”

The Chargers arrived in London on Friday morning after spending the week in Cleveland following a win over the Browns, a move aimed to shorten the trip and make it easier to adjust to the time difference.

It also helped the players bond while spending that time together, coach Anthony Lynn said.

“We did have a team-building activity and 100 percent participation. And I thought the guys liked it a lot,” Lynn said. “I left it up to my sports psychologists. The coaches get the hell out of the room and let the players talk and do their own thing. But everyone says it went really well.”

The shorter flight didn’t completely help Rivers stave off the jet lag.

“Today was one of those days where I don’t think anything could help. It got to the point where that third, fourth cup of coffee wasn’t working at all,” the quarterback said after finishing a training session in North London at 8 a.m. California time. “But it’s not bad. I think if we can push through and get to 8, 9 o’clock tonight, we should be OK.”

Running back Melvin Gordon was limited in the practice session, but Lynn said it was mainly a precaution after the long trip.

“He was just sore. Long plane ride. Probably didn’t drink enough water,” Lynn said. “We were being extra cautious with him.”

For those European fans who have really studied the game since the Chargers’ last visit, Rivers did have some disappointing news. The Alabama native won’t be wearing his famous bolo tie after the game, although he does plan on sporting his traditional cowboy boots.

“I did not bring the bolo tie. I’ve got the cowboy boots,” Rivers said. “I always make sure to have those with me on game day. The same boots I probably wore here in 2008, I’ve had them for that long. They’re almost like slippers now.”

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Manning stresses importance of financial literacy for kids

Eli Manning recognizes that the numbers in a playbook aren't the only important statistics.

Manning wants children, including his three daughters, to have a strong set of financial skills.

"I think it's so important for kids to understand what it means to save, to have a budget, to be smart about spending money,"

Eli Manning recognizes that the numbers in a playbook aren’t the only important statistics.

Manning wants children, including his three daughters, to have a strong set of financial skills.

“I think it’s so important for kids to understand what it means to save, to have a budget, to be smart about spending money,” the Giants’ 15th-year quarterback says. “I think the more you can introduce financial literacy to students at an early age, the more it’ll prevent them from making mistakes when they’re a young adult.”

Manning and Giants rookie Saquon Barkley spoke to more than 100 local high school students about the importance of managing their finances before facing off in a head-to-head competition playing the latest version of Financial Football, a free video game designed to educate users on smart money decisions. Financial Football was created in a partnership between the NFL and Visa. The game challenges players to answer multiple choice and true or false questions to advance down the field in order to score a touchdown.

With one in five teenagers in the United States lacking basic financial skills, Visa has teamed with 49 state governments and the District of Columbia to issue copies of the game to middle and high school students across the country.

The free video game is available through iOS and Android apps and financialfootball.com.

“It’s a fun interactive game for both adults and kids,” Manning says. “You get to play a game, but also answer questions and learn about your finances. It’s good for kids to start learning about the importance of financial literacy and to start saving their money.”

“Involving football for the kids is a way for them to learn more interactively. Some of it is asking questions they might not know the answer to, but it might trigger their curiosity. It starts a conversation and I think it will help them down the line.”

https://financialfootball.com/downloads

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BENGALS BOOK

No one knows more about the Cincinnati Bengals than Geoff Hobson, now in his 18th year at Bengals.com after covering the team for the Cincinnati newspapers.

Hobson’s incredibly detailed “This Day In Bengals History” is a terrific ride through 50 years of a franchise that has had highs — two Super Bowl appearances — and lows — a string of 14 seasons without making the playoffs, and no postseason wins since Jan. 6, 1991.

Stories about Cincinnati greats such as Hall of Famers Anthony Munoz and team founder Paul Brown share space in the book with anecdotes about the lesser-known Bengals Solomon Wilcots and David Verser.

From New Year’s Day through New Year’s Eve, there’s plenty of good reading for every day on the calendar.

“Two things I rediscovered while putting together a daily log of the club,” Hobson says. “It’s amazing how 24/7 the NFL has become in the 21st century. Even as late as 30 years ago, it was virtually a six-month enterprise for everyone from coaches to media — except scouts.

“But even though it wasn’t 24/7, there was never a dearth of news. From the World League to the USFL to expansion to free agency to strikes, the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s give the new century a run for its money when it comes to headlines. Put a football down between coaches, players, fans, media, you’ll always make news no matter the decade.”

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COUNTRY FLAIR

Nashville is making it very clear just how much of a country flair Music City will be bringing to the 2019 NFL draft.

Even though no artists have been announced yet for free concerts in Nashville around the draft, country star Tim McGraw has been tapped for Nashville’s local organizing committee. Other celebrities include Eddie George, former Titans running back, and ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit.

The committee is raising money to pay for free fan events during the draft scheduled for April 25-27. Nashville had free concerts by Alan Jackson before Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final in June 2017 and Luke Bryan performed before Game 6 of that series. Nashville is planning concerts, autograph sessions and other events as part of a three-day festival around the draft.

The organizers already have raised $1.5 million of the $2 million expected to be needed. Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk and the Nashville mayor are honorary co-chairs on the committee. Strunk thanked everyone who volunteered to work on the committee, and says she can’t wait for Nashville to be on the national stage for the draft.

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TOAST TO THE CHAMPS

Joe Wagner grew up watching and playing football. Now, he gets to bottle up his passion.

Literally.

The fifth-generation Napa Valley winemaker has created the second release of Jets Uncorked Championship Reserve, a limited-edition premium 2016 California Red that celebrates the 50th anniversary of New York’s Joe Namath-led 1968 team that upset the Baltimore Colts 16-7 in the Super Bowl.

The Jets collaborated with Wine by Design on the project, and fans can purchase the wine at retailers in New York and New Jersey, throughout MetLife Stadium, and online through the team’s website for $24.99.

“Bringing two of my passions — football and winemaking — together was a great opportunity,” said Wagner, owner and operator of Copper Cane Wines and Provisions. “Together with the team, we created an amazing red blend using some of my favorite vineyards from throughout the Napa and Sonoma appellations. We believe it’s the perfect way for a Jets fan to celebrate the past and look forward to a successful Jets future.”

The wine bottle’s label includes green and white stripes and a diagrammed X’s and O’s play — “19 Straight” — with which Matt Snell ran for the go-ahead touchdown for New York.

It’s the second time the Jets and Wine by Design have worked together, with the first coming in 2010 when Jets Uncorked Wine was released. Through a multiyear partnership, they plan to expand the wine lineup in the future.

https://www.newyorkjets.com/stadium/wine

___

FIRED UP

Quarterbacks are the natural team leaders, but in the case of Kirk Cousins he’s only been with Minnesota for about seven months. Still, Vikings defensive tackle Linval Joseph nominated him before the game in Philadelphia on Oct. 7 to lead the breakdown prior to pregame warmups on the field , when Cousins delivered a message about finishing strong.

On the flight home, Joseph told him to be ready for a repeat. So before playing Arizona last Sunday, Cousins screamed at his teammates to encourage a similar effort and urge the defense to harass rookie quarterback Josh Rosen. The Vikings (3-2-1) won both of those games.

Though Cousins has said he considers himself reluctantly vocal in some of those situations, preferring to let his play do the talking, he’s had plenty of experience with pep talks.

“In college, we did it some, and then in the locker room as well,” Cousins said. “In high school, we did it a lot. It’s not foreign to me. I’ll put it that way.”

The Vikings have posted the clips on their website, thus making a story out of their quarterback’s recent rah-rah moments.

“He definitely has the fire. He has the passion. Sometimes guys have too much passion and their words get lost and they get jumbled over, but we know what they meant, and other times guys have the right words but not the right gusto,” defensive end Stephen Weatherly said. “And he has a great balance of both.”

The message is easier to express when you’re third in the NFL in completion percentage and fifth in the league in passing yards.

“I loved it,” linebacker Anthony Barr said. “At first, not knowing the guy, it kind of maybe comes off as fake or phony. But as you get to know him, that’s really who he is, an intense guy, a competitor, a guy who likes to go out and compete at a high level and compete well for his team, and the message that he shares hits home.”

___

AP Pro Football Writers Barry Wilner, Teresa M. Walker, Dennis Waszak Jr. and Dave Campbell contributed.

___

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NFL giddy right now, must watch for storm clouds

NFL owners were almost giddy about the state of their game as they departed their fall meetings on Wednesday. So was Commissioner Roger Goodell.

That's easy to do when TV ratings are up, viewership across all digital media is strong, scoreboards are practically exploding with all the points being scored, and the number

NFL owners were almost giddy about the state of their game as they departed their fall meetings on Wednesday. So was Commissioner Roger Goodell.

That’s easy to do when TV ratings are up, viewership across all digital media is strong, scoreboards are practically exploding with all the points being scored, and the number of close games through six weeks has been eye-catching.

There’s also the prospect of attracting billionaires from other sports when NFL franchises hit the market now that a cross-ownership ban has been lifted. Going in the other direction, the football billionaires are free to purchase teams in baseball, hockey or basketball that are not located in their NFL areas.

“I will leave you with something that I have said to the owners many times,” Goodell said. “I don’t think there has been a better time to be an NFL fan. The quality of the games and the enjoyment that comes with that, I hear it from the fans all the time — that is No. 1 for them. No. 2 is the access to the games and the way that fans are able to engage with the NFL. There are more platforms and more opportunities to do that. The experience is better because of technology. All of that creates a much better opportunity for our fans to enjoy football and NFL football.

“From our standpoint, we look at this as a great moment for us: the tremendous growth and the tremendous popularity of our game.”

There are storm clouds ahead, though.

The unilateral policy the league put together in May barring players from demonstrating against social and racial injustice on the sideline during the national anthem remains in limbo.

The players’ union and its members fought back against the policy that would allow players to remain in the locker room during “The Star-Spangled Banner,” but they could not kneel or sit by team benches during the anthem.

And while Goodell correctly cited the strong and widespread community involvement being done by the league and players, the protests haven’t gone away, nor should the players be penalized for expressing their concerns.

Colin Kaepernick, whose kneeling during the anthem soon was embraced by many of his peers, hasn’t been with a team since 2016. That comes down to the individual teams, of course, and not the league itself, and it’s uncertain that Kaepernick would return to the field if given the opportunity.

But does anyone truly believe that opportunity might come?

There’s also been a fan and media maelstrom — with complaints by coaches and players, both publicly and privately — about the inconsistency of officiating. When a defensive player admits he let up on a hit to prevent getting a roughing-the-quarterback call, that’s a bad sign. Those defenders have little idea what is a foul anymore.

One week, lowering the helmet to initiate contact, by the offense or the defense, draws a flotilla of yellow flags. Another week, when “incidental contact” is added to the equation, the penalties decrease exponentially.

To its credit, the NFL is trying very hard with its rules to make the game safer. One mechanism for that is consistency with implementation of them.

Another way of keeping players healthier and safer would be by increasing the size of rosters on game day. The Colts went into a recent meeting with the Patriots minus five starters and lost a few more during the defeat.

It’s difficult enough trying to win in Foxborough with a full complement of players. With third-stringers on the field, well, give Indy credit for not getting entirely blown out.

The senseless requirement that seven of the 53 active players be declared inactive on game day can lead to more such inequities. If teams are paying 53 guys, let them all suit up.

Indeed, as we move forward, the union would be wise to seek expanded rosters, and not just for the added salaries. That would help make the game safer, in part because fewer banged-up guys would wind up on the field.

Also ahead, albeit not until 2021, is the expiration of the labor agreement. Already, both sides are building “war chests” for the likely lockout or players’ walkout. Neither the owners nor the players have displayed an inclination for at least preliminary peace talks, if you will.

Then again, why would they at this point, with so many indicators looking so positive?

___

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

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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.

___

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

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Report: Broncos RB Freeman sprained ankle

Report: Broncos RB Freeman sprained ankle

Rookie running back Royce Freeman sprained his ankle in the Denver Broncos' Thursday night rout of the Arizona Cardinals, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Freeman, who has started every game for the Broncos this season, left the 45-10 victory after carrying the ball 13

Report: Broncos RB Freeman sprained ankle

Rookie running back Royce Freeman sprained his ankle in the Denver Broncos’ Thursday night rout of the Arizona Cardinals, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Freeman, who has started every game for the Broncos this season, left the 45-10 victory after carrying the ball 13 times for 37 yards and a touchdown.

He could reportedly miss some time, but the Broncos don’t play again until Oct. 28 vs. the Kansas City Chiefs.

Freeman, 22, was drafted by the Broncos in the third round of the 2018 draft, 71st overall.

The rookie has rushed 71 times for 309 yards and four touchdowns through his first seven games.

In a 27-23 loss to the Chiefs in Week 4, Freeman had eight carries for 67 yards and a touchdown.

–Field Level Media

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Cardinals fire OC McCoy, promote Leftwich

Cardinals fire OC McCoy, promote Leftwich

The Arizona Cardinals fired offensive coordinator Mike McCoy on Friday morning and promoted quarterbacks coach Byron Leftwich to the play-caller position.

The move comes hours after a 45-10 loss to the Denver Broncos on Thursday night, which dropped the Cardinals to 1-6 on the

Cardinals fire OC McCoy, promote Leftwich

The Arizona Cardinals fired offensive coordinator Mike McCoy on Friday morning and promoted quarterbacks coach Byron Leftwich to the play-caller position.

The move comes hours after a 45-10 loss to the Denver Broncos on Thursday night, which dropped the Cardinals to 1-6 on the season.

The Cardinals are 31st in the league in scoring at 13.1 points per game this season. They were limited to 223 total yards against the Broncos and haven’t had more than 269 yards in a game this season.

Leftwich, a former first-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars, joined the Cardinals as an intern in 2016 under former coach Bruce Arians. He takes up the task of guiding rookie quarterback Josh Rosen and turning the offense around.

Rosen had a season-worst five turnovers on Thursday night. His 1.9 QBR on Thursday is the second-worst by any quarterback this season, surpassed only by Bills QB Nathan Peterman’s pitiful 1.1 rating in Week 1.

Leftwich spent nine years in the NFL as a quarterback after going from Marshall to the Jaguars in 2003.

In 60 career games (50 starts), Leftwich completed 57.9 percent of his passes for 10,532 yards with 58 touchdowns and 42 interceptions.

The Cardinals face the San Francisco 49ers next Sunday before their Week 9 bye. They beat the 49ers 28-18 on Oct. 7 for their only win of the season and first under new coach Steve Wilks.

“I would say all our jobs are in jeopardy, including mine, if we don’t win (Thursday),” Wilks said on Wednesday.

–Field Level Media

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Giants WR Beckham vows to improve, but needs help

Giants WR Beckham vows to improve, but needs help

Odell Beckham Jr. is ready to do his part to get the New York Giants back on a winning path.

But the outspoken wide receiver also said he can't do it alone.

"I'm ready to talk about the

Giants WR Beckham vows to improve, but needs help

Odell Beckham Jr. is ready to do his part to get the New York Giants back on a winning path.

But the outspoken wide receiver also said he can’t do it alone.

“I’m ready to talk about the Atlanta Falcons. I think we’re 1-5,” Beckham said, “and we need to start winning games. “Everybody needs to do more. I need to play better. I can’t say that I’ve had my best games. I can’t say I’ve done enough. … We win games together, we lose games together.”

With the Giants at 1-5 entering “Monday Night Football” in Atlanta, Beckham put himself on the spot by flinging arrows at teammates and the offense in general in a wide-ranging ESPN interview last week. Beckham’s critique drew the ire of ownership, and John Mara said publicly he needs “less talk, more play” from the newly minted Beckham.

On Friday, Beckham said he has not yet talked to Mara and did not confirm he was fined by the team as ESPN reported this week.

Mara said Manning, 37, has become an easy target but said there is plenty of blame to go around. Beckham signed a six-year, $103 million contract before the start of the 2018 season. He said this week on Uninterrupted that he would not apologize for his critical comments.

Beckham, asked Friday about Manning turning this around after his sluggish start, didn’t offer blatant support.

“You gotta ask him,” Beckham said. “I tell him every time we get in the huddle, ‘Take me home, 10.’ Which to me carries weight because he’s been there. He knows how to win. He knows what he’s doing, he’s the most prepared of anybody I’ve ever seen. That’s exactly what I say, ‘Take me home.’

“We’ve got to start picking it up. We’ve got to. … We’ve just been beaten. Some games we’ve been out-executed. We just need to win.”

–Field Level Media

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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.

___

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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Cardinals offensive coordinator gone after blowout loss

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — The Arizona Cardinals have dismissed offensive coordinator Mike McCoy a day after the team was blown out at home by the Denver Broncos on national television.

The team said in a statement Friday quarterbacks coach Byron Leftwich will take over the job for a club that is 1-6 and

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — The Arizona Cardinals have dismissed offensive coordinator Mike McCoy a day after the team was blown out at home by the Denver Broncos on national television.

The team said in a statement Friday quarterbacks coach Byron Leftwich will take over the job for a club that is 1-6 and has the worst record in the league.

Coach Steve Wilks is to discuss the move later in the day.

The Cardinals lost 45-10 on Thursday night, trailing 21-3 after one quarter and 35-3 at the half. Wilks called the effort “embarrassing.”

The Cardinals have lost their first four home games for the first time since 1979, nearly a decade before the franchise moved from St. Louis to the desert.

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Returning Woodyard, Titans’ D eager to face Chargers’ Gordon

LONDON (AP) — Tennessee Titans linebacker Wesley Woodyard knows that the Los Angeles Chargers are going to get the ball in the hands of running back Melvin Gordon on as many plays as possible on Sunday.

That means it will be up to his unit to keep Gordon out of the end zone.

LONDON (AP) — Tennessee Titans linebacker Wesley Woodyard knows that the Los Angeles Chargers are going to get the ball in the hands of running back Melvin Gordon on as many plays as possible on Sunday.

That means it will be up to his unit to keep Gordon out of the end zone.

“In the red zone, he’s one of their top targets, and we know what type of runner he is,” Woodyard said Friday. “He’s a guy that’s good on the edge and fine to beat you with his speed. Most importantly, (we need to) just understand the runs that he’s going to give us in different backfield sets.”

Gordon, the Chargers’ do-everything running back, enters the game at Wembley Stadium third in the league with 466 rushing yards and six touchdowns, and his nine total touchdowns rank second only to the Los Angeles Rams’ Todd Gurley.

And while the Titans (3-3) have allowed 14.5 points per game, the third-fewest in the league, they have also surrendered an average of 123.2 rushing yards, the sixth-most of any team.

“The biggest challenge is all 11 of us just getting to the ball, point of attack, wrap up and make sure we make the tackle,” defensive end DaQuan Jones said. “(If) we just swarm, do our job up front, we horde the point of attack, set the edge … we’ll be fine. We have to be consistent. We can’t do it a couple plays here, a couple plays there. It’s got to be all 60 minutes of the game.”

Quarterback Philip Rivers, in his 15th season, is off to one of the finest starts of his career, having thrown 15 touchdown passes and averaged 8.8 yards per pass attempt for the Chargers (4-2) — marks that are both good for third in the league.

His success, though, has relied heavily upon Gordon, who is also the Chargers’ second-leading receiver with 30 catches for 279 yards and three touchdowns.

“Philip Rivers obviously is Philip Rivers,” outside linebacker Brian Orakpo said. “He’s a top, elite quarterback in this league, but everything goes through Gordon. Whenever the receivers are not open, the checkdown to Gordon is always there and he’s always getting positive yards.

“The running game is wide open and guys want to rush the passer, (so) they do a lot of draw plays, things of that nature to get Gordon free. So we have to contain and stop Gordon and then we’ll worry about all the other (explosive) plays.”

Woodyard, who is expected to make his return on Sunday after missing two games with a shoulder injury, should help with that.

Hurt in the overtime victory against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sept. 30, Woodyard had a career- and team-high 172 tackles last season and had played in every game since joining the team in 2014.

“It was really tough, especially seeing my guys not being able to get a victory,” said Woodyard, who was with the Denver Broncos in 2010 but was inactive for their game at Wembley. “I felt like that was my fault for not being able to get out there, but I’m excited to be back out there making calls and making plays.”

The Chargers, who rolled to a 38-14 win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, remained in Ohio for practice before departing Thursday evening to cross the Atlantic.

Tennessee also arrived on Friday, and free safety Kevin Byard said he hopes players can acclimate to the time difference quickly in order to avoid the Titans’ third consecutive loss.

“That’s the most important thing,” Byard said. “Nobody wants to lose three straight games. We have to get back on track. Nobody’s panicking. Nobody’s living like the sky is falling or anything like that, but we have to play with more consistency.”

___

AP Sports Writer Teresa M. Walker in Nashville, Tenn., contributed to this report.

___

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Eagles fan hit with fame after hitting pole gets some glory

The moment in the spotlight isn't over yet for a Philadelphia Eagles fan who stumbled into fame as a viral video star after running into a subway pillar earlier this year.

Jigar Desai is now the subject of an NFL digital short feature, shot ahead of the Oct. 28 Eagles game against the

The moment in the spotlight isn’t over yet for a Philadelphia Eagles fan who stumbled into fame as a viral video star after running into a subway pillar earlier this year.

Jigar Desai is now the subject of an NFL digital short feature, shot ahead of the Oct. 28 Eagles game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in London.

In the short, he’s surprised with tickets for him, his wife and two kids to attend the game in England.

Desai says the ticket giveaway was a total surprise.

In January, Desai was trying to rally subway passengers for the NFC Championship game. He was filmed running along the train, and then slamming into a pole.

He says the whole ordeal has “been a wild ride and a long 15 minutes” and he’s “enjoyed every minute of it.”

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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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Cards QB Rosen on toe injury: ‘I’m fine’

Cards QB Rosen on toe injury: 'I'm fine'

Cardinals rookie quarterback Josh Rosen, who injured a toe on his left foot late in Arizona's blowout loss to the Denver Broncos on Thursday, downplayed the ailment postgame.

"I'm fine," he said after the Cardinals' 45-10 defeat in Glendale, Ariz. Referring to

Cards QB Rosen on toe injury: ‘I’m fine’

Cardinals rookie quarterback Josh Rosen, who injured a toe on his left foot late in Arizona’s blowout loss to the Denver Broncos on Thursday, downplayed the ailment postgame.

“I’m fine,” he said after the Cardinals’ 45-10 defeat in Glendale, Ariz. Referring to leaving the game limping, he said, “I was just being soft.”

Arizona coach Steve Wilks added, “From early talking to him, he thinks he is fine, but I am not going to sit here and say that. That may be the case. We have to make sure we get the evaluation from the trainer.”

Rosen was injured while getting sacked on a fourth-and-16 with two minutes left and the Cardinals down by 35 points.

Wilks admitted his probably should have removed Rosen earlier, but the 21-year-old quarterback disagreed.

“Football is a violent sport,” Rosen said. “I’d definitely rather stay in there and see as many defenses as I possibly as I can as early in my career as I can. If (Wilks) tried to pull me out, we would have definitely had to have a conversation about that one.”

Injury aside, Rosen endured a tough night. He threw three interceptions, two of which were returned for first-quarter touchdowns, and he fumbled three times, with the Broncos recovering two of them.

Rosen, the 10th overall pick in this year’s draft out of UCLA, completed 21 of 39 passes for 194 yards and one touchdown.

Regarding to the turnovers, Rosen said, “I think sometimes you just got to make the smart play and I can’t just toss it up there, or I even got lucky on some of the fumbles that weren’t fumbles and some that were. …

“I’ve got a lot to learn. More to learn than I would have wished for.”

–Field Level Media

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Lots of Broncos fans on hand to watch rout of Cardinals

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — There were a lot of orange-clad Denver fans in the stands in Arizona.

They must have loved watching the Broncos beat down the host Cardinals 45-10 Thursday night.

"That was unbelievable," Denver quarterback Case Keenum said afterward. "It felt like a home game there for a lot of it.

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — There were a lot of orange-clad Denver fans in the stands in Arizona.

They must have loved watching the Broncos beat down the host Cardinals 45-10 Thursday night.

“That was unbelievable,” Denver quarterback Case Keenum said afterward. “It felt like a home game there for a lot of it. That was impressive. That was really cool.”

After four straight losses, the Broncos (3-4) took control early, returning two interceptions of Josh Rosen’s passes for first-quarter touchdowns. Denver led 21-3 after one quarter and 35-3 at the half, giving a rare breather of a win to embattled coach Vance Joseph.

“That’s more about our football team. I’m not concerned about me,” Joseph said. “It’s a good win for our football team. It has been a tough, tough two weeks. We had a tough loss on Sunday. We had a short week, so it’s really good for our team to win a game.”

The Cardinals (1-6) have lost their first four home games for the first time since 1979, nearly a decade before the franchise moved from St. Louis to the desert.

“Definitely an embarrassing effort tonight,” first-year coach Steve Wilks said. “Our fans deserve more than that. We have to perform better than that. Six sacks, three interceptions. It can go on and on. Unacceptable.”

Arizona offensive coordinator Mike McCoy had been considered on shaky ground but there’s no indication that any move is imminent.

“You guys are going to ask me about changes,” Wilks said. “That’s premature to talk about any changes right now. Everyone is going to be evaluated across the board.”

Here are some things to consider from the Broncos’ romp in the desert:

MILLER’S PROMISE

Denver’s Von Miller had promised the Broncos would kick the Cardinals’ backside and they certainly did.

Miller said he did it to boost the confidence of his teammates.

“And it worked,” he said.

Defensive end Zach Kerr agreed.

“It puts an extra fire in us,” he said. “You can feel it all week during the preparation. Everyone was zoned in, locked in. It’s a short week, but nobody complained. Nobody said anything, but we just went out there and worked.”

HARRIS’ FLIP

Emmanuel Sanders had a big night, throwing a 28-yard touchdown pass and catching a 64-yarder for a score.

On the TD catch, he did a front flip over the goal line. He had said he was going to quit with the flips, but couldn’t resist.

“That’s what it’s about, man, having fun and playing football,” Sanders said. “That’s how you win games. To catch that pass, I didn’t have to do anything but run straight. It was probably one of the easiest touchdown passes I’ve caught in terms of a deep ball.”

ROSEN’S NIGHT

Arizona rookie quarterback Josh Rosen had a tough night.

He threw three interceptions and fumbled the ball away twice. He also was sacked six times.

Rosen said he tried to force things and it backfired.

“This is kind of an old saying I got in college. ‘Don’t turn a car crash into a fatality,'” Rosen said. “So I think sometimes you just have to make the smart play. I can’t just kind of toss it up there. … I just have to take care of the ball. For the most part, I think that was the biggest lesson I can take from the game.”

FITZGERALD’S SCORE

It took seven games, but Larry Fitzgerald finally caught his first touchdown pass of the season.

The four-yard pass from Rosen in the third quarter was Arizona’s lone touchdown.

It was Fitzgerald’s 111th career touchdown catch, tying him with Tony Gonzalez for seventh on the all-time list.

BIG RETURNS

The Broncos had two big early interception returns.

On the second play of the game, Derek Wolfe deflected Rosen’s pass and Todd Davis gathered it in, returning it 20 yards for the score.

With two minutes left in the quarter, miscommunication between Rosen and receiver J.J. Nelson led to the ball being thrown right to Denver’s Chris Harris Jr., who took it 53 yards for a touchdown.

“Yeah, we’re having a good time out there,” Davis said. “When everything is clicking like that, it really becomes fun and you really enjoy the game of football.”

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Cardinals drop to 1-6 after mistakes in all phases

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — A season already gone bad turned worse for the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday night, before a national television audience.

The Cardinals absorbed a 45-10 drubbing by the Denver Broncos to fall to 1-6, one of the worst home losses in franchise history. There were mistakes across the board on

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — A season already gone bad turned worse for the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday night, before a national television audience.

The Cardinals absorbed a 45-10 drubbing by the Denver Broncos to fall to 1-6, one of the worst home losses in franchise history. There were mistakes across the board on offense, defense and special teams.

The offense entered last in the NFL in yards per game, and didn’t do much to help deflect further criticism. With offensive coordinator Mike McCoy under pressure amid rumors of his possible ousting, the Cardinals went 4 for 14 on third down and gained only 223 total yards.

Forced to play from well behind, they managed only 69 rushing yards against the league’s worst rushing defense.

“That’s premature to talk about any changes right now,” Cardinals first-year head coach Steve Wilks said. “Everybody’s going to be evaluated across the board. We’ve got to find ways to get this thing moving in the right direction.”

Wilks was pressed on McCoy’s status.

“I didn’t say Mike McCoy at all,” Wilks said. “I’m talking about changes that could personnel. It could be players. Whatever it may be. It could be scheme.”

Josh Rosen threw three interceptions — two returned for touchdowns in the first quarter — and lost two fumbles.

Broncos linebacker Von Miller had earlier in the week said boldly claimed that the Broncos would kick the Cardinals’ behind. The Broncos, 2-4 going in, helped their star linebacker back up his words.

Rosen, the 10th overall pick this year, was critical of himself. Miller stripped him of the ball twice and he was sacked six times.

“Obviously I didn’t play up to my standards or even close to it, but there’s another one next week,” Rosen said.

Things were already in such dire straits at halftime that Cardinals fans booed their team off the State Farm Stadium field going into the locker room, and even that was drowned out in part by the cheers from a large number of fans in Broncos orange.

Defensively, the Cardinals were caught off guard by wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders’ trick-play touchdown pass to a wide open Courtland Sutton in the first quarter, and Sanders was so open on his 64-yard touchdown reception that he had time to execute a flip into the end zone.

“The one trick play in the first quarter, that was a little surprising,” linebacker Haason Reddick said. “No matter what the score is, whether we’re down 14, 15 or 60, you’ve’ve just got to continue to play and try to get back on top.”

Denver’s rush defense was strong; Arizona, the second-worst rush defense in the league behind the Broncos coming into Thursday, was gashed for a third-quarter 28-yard touchdown run by Phillip Lindsay with the Broncos already ahead 35-3.

On special teams, Brandon Williams leg-whipped Broncos return man DaeSean Hamilton after he called for a fair catch, and the Broncos got the ball at their own 21 instead of the 6, already ahead 28-3.

Rosen was replaced by backup Mike Glennon with 5:29 to play and, by that time it was a celebration for Broncos fans in the Cardinals’ stadium.

“Good question,” Wilks said when asked why Arizona’s offense continues to struggle. “Whether it’s not getting movement up front, whether it’s not protecting in the pass game, not being able to make the proper throws or make the proper catches, there’s a lot that goes around.”

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Holdout Steelers RB Bell supports teammates from afar

Holdout Steelers RB Bell supports teammates from afar

Le'Veon Bell likely has more than a few detractors in the Pittsburgh Steelers' front office.

However, in the locker room, and specifically when it comes to fellow running back James Conner, the sentiment is pro-Bell.

The veteran running back

Holdout Steelers RB Bell supports teammates from afar

Le’Veon Bell likely has more than a few detractors in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ front office.

However, in the locker room, and specifically when it comes to fellow running back James Conner, the sentiment is pro-Bell.

The veteran running back has not reported to the team this season as he seeks a more lucrative contract — a demand the Steelers have not yet been willing to meet.

Conner, the replacement starter, said Bell sends him supportive text messages during games and frequently reaches out to wish him well.

“Any time I do something good on the field, I always come back to the locker room to a text from him saying ‘good game’ or ‘nice move right there,'” Conner told the TV network FS1. “Me and Le’Veon are super cool. He’s a great person. With him holding out, people are going to call him selfish, but that’s not the case at all. This is business, and that’s my guy.”

Conner, 23, has rushed for 453 yards and seven touchdowns in six games (five starts). He is averaging 4.4 yards per carry.

Bell, 26, has topped 1,000 yards three times in five seasons with Pittsburgh. He averaged 4.0 yards per carry last season as he compiled 1,291 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground. He also caught 85 passes for 655 yards and two scores in 2017.

–Field Level Media

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Broncos pound Cardinals, end 4-game losing streak

Broncos pound Cardinals, end 4-game losing streak

The visiting Denver Broncos returned two interceptions for touchdowns in the first quarter and coasted to a 45-10 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday night in Glendale, Ariz.

Emmanuel Sanders caught six passes for 102 yards and a touchdown and threw

Broncos pound Cardinals, end 4-game losing streak

The visiting Denver Broncos returned two interceptions for touchdowns in the first quarter and coasted to a 45-10 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday night in Glendale, Ariz.

Emmanuel Sanders caught six passes for 102 yards and a touchdown and threw for another, as Denver (3-4) snapped a four-game losing streak. Broncos quarterback Case Keenum went 14 of 21 for 161 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

Rookie Josh Rosen finished 21 of 39 for 194 yards, a touchdown and three picks as Arizona (1-5) failed on its first seven third-down conversion attempts after going 0-for-10 last week. He limped off in the final minutes after getting sacked for the sixth time.

Entering last in total offense and 31st in scoring, the Cardinals got off to a disastrous start. On the second play from scrimmage, Rosen’s pass was tipped by Derek Wolfe and intercepted by Todd Davis, who returned it 20 yards for a 7-0 lead.

After an Arizona three-and-out, the Broncos’ offense marched 77 yards in six plays on its first possession for a 14-0 lead. Sanders capped it with a 28-yard reverse pass to rookie wideout Courtland Sutton, who made a diving grab.

A 43-yard Phil Dawson field goal cut it to 14-3 before Denver’s defense scored again. Rosen threw a slant to J.J. Nelson, who stopped his route as Chris Harris Jr. intercepted it and returned it 53 yards for a 21-3 advantage with 2:13 left in the first.

Keenum opened the Broncos’ next possession with a 64-yard bomb to Sanders two plays into the second quarter, pushing the lead to 28-3.

Rookie back Royce Freeman’s 1-yard plunge 21 seconds before halftime made it 35-3. The Broncos outgained the Cardinals 237 to 82 before the break.

Rosen hit Larry Fitzgerald from 4 yards out midway through the third to cut into the lead.

Phillip Lindsay’s 28-yard scamper and Brandon McManus’ 41-yard field goal capped the scoring. Both were set up by strip-sacks from Von Miller, who added four QB hits.

–Field Level Media

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Flexed: NFL’s nice move had Bengals-Chiefs in prime time

It's been a while since the NFL flexed a game to Sunday night. The Bengals vs. Chiefs is a worthy choice.

No games were moved from day to night last season, except for the final weekend, when all games are scheduled for the afternoon until the league and NBC figure out what is

It’s been a while since the NFL flexed a game to Sunday night. The Bengals vs. Chiefs is a worthy choice.

No games were moved from day to night last season, except for the final weekend, when all games are scheduled for the afternoon until the league and NBC figure out what is most attractive for prime time. Back in 2016, there were three flexed games, including Week 17. Not counting that, the last flex was Bucs at Cowboys on Dec. 18, 2016.

So switching a pair of first-place teams made sense: Cincinnati (4-2) is at Kansas City (5-1).

Some of the juicy plot lines involve offense, hardly a surprise in this year of points, points and more points. Kansas City has the league’s lowest-ranked defense and the Bengals rank 29th. Even worse, both are dealing with a slew of injuries on that side of the ball.

So Patrick Mahomes throwing to Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce and Kareem Hunt could fill the screen. So might Andy Dalton connecting with A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd.

“Any time you want to be one of the great ones on the defense or you want your defense to have a statement-type game, you have to do it against the best offenses in the league,” Cincinnati defensive end Carlos Dunlap said. “And right now, they’re putting up those points like they’re one of the best offenses in the league. So you’ve got to go out there and put it on ’em.”

There are some caveats to this matchup, however.

Although the Bengals have won four straight in the series dating to Oct. 14, 2007, they are 3-15 on Sunday nights, losing eight straight. The Chiefs are 7-3 in games on Sunday nights.

The weekend began with Denver’s 45-10 victory at Arizona on Thursday night

Emmanuel Sanders threw and caught touchdown passes, Denver returned two interceptions for first-quarter touchdowns and the Broncos snapped a four-game losing streak.

Todd Davis returned rookie Josh Rosen’s deflected pass for a touchdown on the second play of the game and Chris Harris Jr. took another back 53 yards for a score with 2:02 left in the quarter as the Broncos (3-4) opened a 21-3 lead. Rosen threw three interceptions and fumbled the ball away twice on a rough night that began badly for him and never got better. The Cardinals (1-6), down 35-3 at the half, fell to 0-4 at home for the first time since 1979.

Off this week are Seattle (3-3), Green Bay (3-2-1), Oakland (1-5) and Pittsburgh (3-2-1).

New England (4-2) at Chicago (3-2)

Seems like every week, the Patriots’ opponent is battered by injuries to key players. No one is more key in Chicago than edge rusher Khalil Mack, who is battling an ankle problem.

Just what Tom Brady needs against one of the five teams he’s never lost to. Brady is 4-0 against the Bears; the others are Atlanta (5-0), Dallas (4-0), Minnesota (4-0) and Tampa Bay (4-0).

While the Bears should be able to move the ball on New England, they’ll likely need lots of points for a chance in this one.

New Orleans (4-1) at Baltimore (4-2)

Just like Patriots-Bears, this is one terrific offense against defense matchup. New Orleans ranks third in total offense and Baltimore is first on defense.

Led by Drew Brees, who set the yards passing career mark in a rout of the Redskins before their bye the Saints have won four in a row. Nobody is more balanced with the ball now that RB Mark Ingram is back from suspension to team with dynamic Alvin Kamara. Brees, who is 0-4 vs. the Ravens, this year has a 78 percent completion rate for 1,658 yards with 11 touchdowns and no interceptions.

The Ravens had 11 sacks last week against Tennessee and a league-most 26 overall. They are allowing an NFL-low 12.8 points per game and the fewest yards per game (270.8). Baltimore has four of the NFL’s past 14 shutouts since the start of the 2017 season.

Carolina (3-2) at Philadelphia (3-3)

An intriguing matchup of a solid running team in Carolina, led by Christian McCaffrey and QB Cam Newton, facing the second-stingiest rushing defense in a place where the Eagles are 17-4 under Doug Pederson.

As for the air game, which seemingly everyone needs to succeed these days, Carolina is far too inconsistent.

Meanwhile, Carson Wentz has thrown at least one TD in his past 19 games played, the longest streak in franchise history and second-longest active streak behind Andrew Luck (28). Wentz has thrown 133 consecutive passes without a pick. His longest streak is 135 passes.

Tennessee (3-3) vs. Los Angeles Chargers (4-2) at London

The Titans were humiliated at home by Baltimore and should welcome the long trip overseas. Then again, they have lost 10 of the past 11 to the Chargers and bring a sputtering offense into Wembley.

Although Tennessee has a solid D, it faces an in-synch offense. The Chargers are 13-5 since starting last season 0-4 and QB Philip Rivers leads the AFC and ranks second in the NFL with a 115.1 passer rating. He has 13 TD passes and four interceptions in seven games vs. the Titans.

Houston (3-3) at Jacksonville (3-3)

The other AFC South leaders.

After beginning the season with three defeats, the Texans have turned it around, albeit all their wins have been tight affairs, two in overtime.

Defensive end J.J. Watt , perhaps the NFL’s best player when healthy, is back in form after missing most of the 2016 and ’17 seasons with injuries. Watt has seven sacks and three forced fumbles in the past four games.

The Jaguars have a solid defense, too, particularly against the pass, where they ranked first in yards surrendered. But Jacksonville was outscored 70-21 in consecutive road losses, forcing coach Doug Marrone to return to training camp practices this week to emphasize fundamental football.

Dallas (3-3) at Washington (3-2)

Among pro sports’ most intense rivalries, this will be a physical and possibly low-scoring affair given the strength of both defenses and imbalance of the offenses.

Dallas, winless on the road, will try to run with Ezekiel Elliott, second in rushing yards with 586 and third in yards from scrimmage with 752. Washington will counter with Adrian Peterson, who averaged 108.5 yards rushing in the past two home games.

Minnesota (3-2-1) at New York Jets (3-3)

The Vikings have never won at the Jets, going 0-5. To break that slump, the main weapon could be WR Adam Thielen. He had 11 catches for 123 yards last week, joining Houston’s Charley Hennigan (1961) as the only players in NFL history with 100 or more yards in each of his team’s first six games to begin a season. Thielen leads the NFL with 58 catches, the most by a player in the first six games in league history, and 712 yards receiving.

Guess what: New York’s secondary is banged-up and porous.

The Jets are seeking their first three-game winning streak since Weeks 3-5 of 2017.

Los Angeles Rams (6-0) at San Francisco (1-5)

Keeping the NFL’s only perfect record shouldn’t be too challenging for LA, which has the most dangerous offense around. RB Todd Gurley ran for a career-high 208 yards and two TDs last week. The Rams are averaging 32.7 points per game despite scoring TDs on only 56.7 percent of red-zone trips. Los Angeles also leads the NFL with 7.64 yards per play on first down.

San Francisco blew a game at Green Bay last week and Niners QB C.J. Beathard is tied for the NFL worst with seven turnovers in the past three weeks since Jimmy Garoppolo tore up his knee. The Niners have an NFL-worst minus-11 turnover margin.

New York Giants (1-5) at Atlanta (2-4), Monday night

More injuries plagued the Falcons, who placed top running back Devonta Freeman on IR. No team has been more damaged by injuries in 2018, most of them coming on defense.

That means Atlanta needs shootouts to have a chance most weeks, and QB Matt Ryan leads the NFL with 1,432 yards passing and a 128.2 rating since Week 3. He is tied for first with 12 TD passes in that span.

New York’s D is vulnerable and the offense is enigmatic despite the presence of sensational rookie RB Saquon Barkley, and firebrand wideout Odell Beckham Jr. The O-line should be dubbed the “Awful-Line.”

Detroit (2-3) at Miami (4-2)

The Lions are feeling upbeat following a victory over Green Bay and a week off, but that special feeling could turn sour because of their special teams.

Lions coverage units rank last on punts and sixth worst on kickoffs. The Dolphins rank second in kickoff return average and third in punt return average.

Miami is no powerhouse, though. The Dolphins are tied for the AFC East lead even though they’ve been outgained by 398 yards.

Cleveland (2-3-1) at Tampa Bay (2-3)

The Dawg Pound was silenced in Cleveland when the Chargers pounded the Browns last week. Tampa will be hitting the airwaves, trying to find mismatches for WRs DeSean Jackson and Mike Evans. It won’t hurt the Bucs that Browns Pro Bowl MLB Joe Schobert is out with a hamstring injury. This will be his first game missed — at any level — due to injury.

The Browns do lead the NFL with 16 takeaways, three more than all last season. Tampa has 11 giveaways.

Buffalo (2-4) at Indianapolis (1-5)

Remember Derek Anderson, most lately the backup to Newton in Carolina. He has surfaced as the new starter in Buffalo with rookie Josh Allen hurting and Nathan Peterman an interception machine.

On the positive side, the Bills’ defense is tied for the league lead with seven fumble recoveries.

The Colts will try for the fifth time to win game No. 300 since moving to Indy in 1984. And placekicker Adam Vinatieri needs 10 points to break Morten Andersen’s scoring record (2,544 points).

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Broncos return 2 interceptions for TDs, beat Cardinals 45-10

Emmanuel Sanders threw and caught touchdown passes, Denver returned two interceptions for first-quarter touchdowns and the Broncos snapped a four-game losing streak with a 45-10 rout of the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday night.

Todd Davis returned rookie Josh Rosen's deflected pass for a touchdown on the second play of the game and Chris

Emmanuel Sanders threw and caught touchdown passes, Denver returned two interceptions for first-quarter touchdowns and the Broncos snapped a four-game losing streak with a 45-10 rout of the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday night.

Todd Davis returned rookie Josh Rosen’s deflected pass for a touchdown on the second play of the game and Chris Harris Jr. took another back 53 yards for a score with 2:02 left in the quarter as the Broncos (3-4) opened a 21-3 lead.

Rosen threw three interceptions and fumbled the ball away twice on a rough night that began badly for him and never got better. He limped off the field after he was sacked for the fifth time, on a fourth-and-16 play near the end of the game.

The Cardinals (1-6), down 35-3 at the half, fell to 0-4 at home for the first time since 1979.

Case Keenum completed 14 of 21 passes for 161 yards and a touchdown with one interception for Denver. Phillip Lindsay rushed for 90 yards on 14 carries, including a 28-yard TD run.

Rosen had called a time out after the game’s first play. Then his pass was deflected by the outstretched hand of defensive end Derek Wolfe. The ball dropped into the hands of Davis, who ran it in from there.

Arizona followed with a three-and-out and the Broncos quickly made it 14-0 with a six-play, 77-yard drive. Sanders took the ball on an end around and threw to a wide open Courtland Sutton 28 yards for the touchdown.

The receiver may have run the wrong route on Rosen’s second “pick six.” In a third-and-one situation from the Arizona 46, Rosen passed but there was no one near the ball except Harris, who returned it 53 yards to make it 21-3.

The Broncos made it 28-3 in the second quarter when Keenum found Harris wide open on a 64-yard TD play, the Denver receiver doing a front flip over the goal line.

A pass interference play against Bene Benwikere in the end zone set up Royce Freeman’s one-yard TD run that made it 35-3 with 21 seconds left in the half. The run capped a 15-play, 70-yard drive that used up 6:39.

The Arizona fans booed as the team left the field for the half, while there were cheers from the sizable contingent of orange-clad Broncos supporters.

FITZ SCORES

The Cardinals got their only touchdown in the third quarter, Rosen throwing four yards to Larry Fitzgerald for the score. Fitzgerald’s first TD catch of the season came at the end of an 11-play, 63-yard drive that followed Patrick Peterson’s interception. Fitzgerald’s 111 career TDs tie him with Tony Gonzalez for seventh on the NFL’s career list.

INJURIES

Denver lost two players to injury in the first half.

Rookie punt returner DaeSean Hamilton left with a knee injury after Arizona’s Brandon Williams rolled into his legs as he was waiting for the ball to make a fair catch. Williams was penalized for interfering on the play.

Safety Darian Stewart left the game with a neck injury in the first quarter.

Arizona tight end Ricky Seals-Jones, trying to run down Rosen’s fumble, slammed his left forearm against an opponent’s helmet and didn’t return.

UP NEXT

Broncos: At Kansas City on Oct. 28.

Cardinals: Host San Francisco on Oct. 28.

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NFL to celebrate 100th season in 2019 with series of events

NEW YORK (AP) — The NFL will celebrate its 100th season in 2019 with a yearlong series of "NFL 100" events.

The league says the historic celebration will salute fans; highlight the unifying nature of football and its positive impact in communities; bring together generations of past, present and future players; and look

NEW YORK (AP) — The NFL will celebrate its 100th season in 2019 with a yearlong series of “NFL 100” events.

The league says the historic celebration will salute fans; highlight the unifying nature of football and its positive impact in communities; bring together generations of past, present and future players; and look ahead to the NFL’s next 100 years.

A special “NFL 100” logo was unveiled Thursday night during halftime of the Broncos-Cardinals game. It will be prominently displayed throughout the 100th season during celebrations on the field, in stadiums, game broadcasts, NFL Films and NFL Network programming, and in digital and social media content. That logo will be featured on game balls and on every player’s game jersey in the neck area.

NFL 100 will officially kick off at the Super Bowl in Atlanta.

“For nearly 100 years, the NFL has been part of the fabric of America, unifying communities and bringing fans together to support their favorite teams and players.” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

“Next year, we will join our fans in celebrating what this incredible game means to each of us.”

A panel of former players, general managers, coaches, NFL historians and media will select an all-time team and the 10 greatest coaches in NFL history.

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Saleh aiming to fix holes in 49ers defense

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Robert Saleh sometimes beams with pride when watching film of his 49ers defense.

Other times he wants to hide his eyes.

It's been a perplexing season for San Francisco's defensive coordinator, as Saleh has found it difficult to get his young unit to string together four quarters of

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Robert Saleh sometimes beams with pride when watching film of his 49ers defense.

Other times he wants to hide his eyes.

It’s been a perplexing season for San Francisco’s defensive coordinator, as Saleh has found it difficult to get his young unit to string together four quarters of mistake-free football.

“You see the flashes,” Saleh said Thursday. “You can go to every game, and there’s a block of plays where those guys are executing and performing at a very high level and they look unbelievable.

“But when we trip over ourselves, it looks horrendous.”

The 49ers’ knack for giving up big plays cost them dearly in Monday night’s 33-30 loss to Green Bay.

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers carved up San Francisco’s secondary during a game-winning drive in the final minute.

Another big test awaits the 49ers (1-5) on Sunday afternoon when they host the undefeated Los Angeles Rams, who have the NFL’s top-ranked offense led by quarterback Jared Goff.

To have any chance at an upset, San Francisco’s defense has to avoid the blown coverages and game-changing plays that have marked its season so far.

“It’s just being where you’re supposed to be, when you’re supposed to be there, and doing that for 60, 70, 80 plays,” veteran cornerback Richard Sherman said.

Against the Packers, the 49ers gave up a 60-yard completion to a wide-open receiver on their first defensive snap, setting up a Green Bay touchdown. Two series later, a 54-yard completion on another busted coverage led to another touchdown.

The 49ers then clamped down, holding the Packers to just two field goals over their next seven possessions, spanning the end of the first quarter to midway through the fourth.

But trying to hold a 30-23 lead, San Francisco allowed 10 points in the final two minutes and lost. Rodgers picked apart the 49ers’ pass defense on the tying and game-winning drives.

San Francisco ranks 25th in the league in pass defense (279 yards per game), too often leaving receivers wide open with plenty of room to run after the catch.

The key is “guys staying on their details, doing their job,” defensive tackle DeForest Buckner said. “We’ve been having too many busts, and we can’t have that.”

Saleh called for more blitzes than normal against Green Bay, and the result was three sacks and good pressure on other plays that threw Rodgers off his rhythm.

But the 49ers need better play from whichever cornerback is playing opposite Sherman. Second-year corner Ahkello Witherspoon has lost his starting job for the time being.

Jimmie Ward, who started in place of Witherspoon at Green Bay, is nursing a hamstring injury. His status for Sunday is unknown. Greg Mabin, who spelled Ward after he was injured Monday, gave up several completions as the Packers made their late comeback.

Saleh, in his second season running San Francisco’s defense, said he’s examining his own game plans and preparation to make sure he’s putting players in the best position to succeed.

“When we’re not communicating and there’s a lack of execution, it is not pretty. And that’s the thing that’s happening,” Saleh said. “We make the smallest mistake and it’s going for a lot of yards.”

NOTES: Ward didn’t practice Thursday. Witherspoon (concussion protocol) and nickel back K’Waun Williams (shoulder) both practiced but were held out of contact. Among the receivers, Trent Taylor (back) and Pierre Garcon (shoulder, knee) were both limited. Dante Pettis (knee) worked on a side field.

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After latest concussion, Lions’ Lang plans to keep playing

After latest concussion, Lions' Lang plans to keep playing

Detroit Lions offensive lineman T.J. Lang plans to keep playing despite recently sustaining another concussion.

Lang, 31, visited several neurologists after his most recent concussion last month, either his fifth or sixth brain injury, per varying media reports. He said at

After latest concussion, Lions’ Lang plans to keep playing

Detroit Lions offensive lineman T.J. Lang plans to keep playing despite recently sustaining another concussion.

Lang, 31, visited several neurologists after his most recent concussion last month, either his fifth or sixth brain injury, per varying media reports. He said at least one expert had concerns about him returning to play, but others indicated that he could do so once he was cleared.

“The biggest question I had was, do you guys feel safe?” Lane said in comments published by the Detroit Free Press. “Do you think I’ll be safe to return once I’m fully back healthy, and I think most of them said yeah. And that gave me a lot of comfort knowing that, hey, when this thing’s all settled and gone, then basically hit the reset button and continue to play.”

Lang brought his wife, Laura, to the consultations and admitted that the conversations were “tough.” He does not remember the play that caused his last concussion, a helmet-to-helmet hit with Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith that dropped him to his knees.

“Coming off the field, I didn’t really remember what happened, but the next day or a couple days after that, I watched the TV copy and didn’t really want to look at it,” Lang said. “Nobody really, you don’t really want to see yourself in that kind of position, but this is what it is, man. It’s football. There’s a lot of risks in this game. It’s not the first time I’ve been injured. Hopefully it’s the last.”

Lang has appeared in 135 career games, including 119 with the Green Bay Packers before he joined the division rival Lions. He made the Pro Bowl in 2016 and 2017 and won a Super Bowl championship with the Packers in 2010.

The Michigan native said he might reconsider his position after this season.

“I think the offseason is definitely a time where you finally have a couple days to sit back, reflect and think,” Lang said. “I mean, cross that bridge when I get there, but for right now I’m comfortable where I’m at here (in Week 7) and I’m just glad I’m feeling better.”

–Field Level Media

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Take 5: Battle in Baltimore highlights Week 7

Take 5: Battle in Baltimore highlights Week 7

Sunday brings the second matchup in three weeks featuring the league's best scoring offense and best scoring defense, this time when the New Orleans Saints (36 points per game) visit the Baltimore Ravens (12.8 allowed per game).

This one should look entirely

Take 5: Battle in Baltimore highlights Week 7

Sunday brings the second matchup in three weeks featuring the league’s best scoring offense and best scoring defense, this time when the New Orleans Saints (36 points per game) visit the Baltimore Ravens (12.8 allowed per game).

This one should look entirely different than the Jaguars-Chiefs clash of Week 5, mostly because the Ravens’ defense is built on disguises and blitzes, unlike the straightforward Jacksonville defense. The multiplicity will put a heavy burden on New Orleans up front.

1. Saints’ protection must be sharp physically and mentally

Anchored by tackles Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramczyk, the Saints’ line is excellent in protection. Always uber athletic, Armstead has blossomed into a technician and has been nearly flawless on Drew Brees’ blind side this year. Baltimore’s Terrell Suggs remains a terror despite turning 36 last week, but he won’t have it easy Sunday.

Ramczyk has continued the steady play he showed as a rookie, and he’ll draw a variety of challenges in Baltimore: Solid third-year man Matt Judon, speedy pass-rush specialist Tim Williams and the 274-pound Za’Darius Smith, who plays both inside and outside and has already matched his career high with 5.5 sacks (three last week)

New Orleans is stout inside, too, where former tackle Andrus Peat has become a rock at left guard, and center Max Unger ($8 million cap hit) and right guard Larry Warford ($9 million) are well worth their hefty contracts. That group will be tested mentally this week against an expansive collection of amoeba fronts.

The Ravens often bring only four or five rushers, but good luck trying to figure out who’s coming. They routinely line up players in both A gaps (on either side of the center), threaten blitz off either edge or employ both tactics at once. Chaos ensues at the snap, as four or five (and sometimes six or seven) men rush, and two or three drop out. Veteran safeties Tony Jefferson and Eric Weddle might rotate 20 yards as one blitzes and the other drops deep, while Suggs, Judon or Smith will buzz under crossers to take away quick throws.

The coverage usually settles into a three-deep zone featuring matchup principles and two or three underneath defenders, but the Ravens mix in plenty of man coverage as well. That frees up linebackers and safeties to blitz when the running back or tight end to whom they are assigned stays in to block (called a green-dog blitz), which led to several of the 11 sacks on Marcus Mariota last week.

But Brees is no Mariota, who looked lost trying to decipher the Ravens’ coverages and routinely held the ball too long, essentially sacking himself on several plays. Brees, an 18th-year veteran, has great protection, but more important, he diagnoses and delivers on time and decisively, often aided by an offense that manufactures short completions.

Brees will sniff out some of Baltimore’s disguises and make them pay. Saints coach Sean Payton, a master of the screen game, will call several to slow down the rush. But the Ravens will get home some, too, especially with a rowdy home crowd making communication difficult. Brees has historically been a different player outdoors (103.6 QB rating in domes compared to 90.8 outside), and the forecast at M&T Bank Stadium calls for some wind.

That should make for one of the more intriguing and evenly matched offense-defense battles we’ll see this year.

2. Bears must fix fundamentals, and fast

The consensus best defense in football through five weeks collapsed on Sunday against Brock Osweiler, of all people, because its players suddenly forgot how to tackle. The Dolphins quarterback went just 7 of 16 with two interceptions on throws at least 5 yards beyond the line of scrimmage, but he finished with 380 yards and three touchdowns because his receivers generated 274 (!) yards after the catch.

Miami coach Adam Gase deserves credit for crafty underneath designs, but most of the damage came from missed tackles. Chicago safeties Adrian Amos and Eddie Jackson each whiffed on Albert Wilson’s 43-yard touchdown, and then again on his 75-yarder. Linebacker Danny Trevathan could have kept the latter to a 4-yard gain, but he inexplicably let Wilson escape from a trio of Bears before the two safeties missed.

Chicago must correct those mistakes immediately, because defending the Patriots’ offense is untenable with tackling breakdowns. New England coordinator Josh McDaniels — who hired Gase in Denver — engineers the NFL’s shrewdest horizontal passing game, which became all the more lethal with Julian Edelman’s return in Week 5.

Against zone-heavy schemes like Bears coordinator Vic Fangio’s, the Patriots attack underneath pockets over and over, putting the burden on linebackers and safeties to close quickly and tackle shifty wide receivers. Though not major pieces of the offense, Josh Gordon and Cordarrelle Patterson are even more dangerous in space than Edelman, and James White is also extremely elusive.

Even if Khalil Mack (ankle) is healthy, the Bears’ pass rush could have trouble getting home before Tom Brady delivers. If Chicago can’t tackle soundly, it’ll be an awfully long day on defense.

3. Geno Atkins is licking his chops

Through six weeks, we’ve seen Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes do almost everything, and do it extremely well. But he hasn’t yet had to deal with repeated pressure, a credit to both Andy Reid’s scheme and a front five that has been excellent in protection.

But that line is taking hits, with right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (fractured fibula) on injured reserve and center Mitch Morse (concussion) likely to miss at least one game. The timing isn’t ideal with Atkins coming to town this week. The Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle has a new contract that pays him more annually than any other non-QB over age 30 in NFL history, and Atkins has earned every penny so far.

The six-time Pro Bowler still has a lethal combination of lateral wiggle and forklift power, already producing six sacks and 12 QB hits (tied for second in NFL). Traditionally a 3-technique tackle, he usually lines up on a guard’s outside shoulder, but he also will align directly over the center in some third-down packages, a threatening look because centers are rarely isolated against top rushers in protection. Atkins happily beats single blocks, but he also reaches QBs through doubles on occasion and leading tackle-end stunts, plowing between the guard and tackle.

Jordan Devey moved to center in Morse’s absence last week, with Andrew Wylie stepping in at right guard. Even if recently re-signed Jeff Allen — released after struggling for two years in Houston — takes over at right guard, expect to see Atkins across from both spots often. Left guard Cameron Erving has had hiccups as well, so Atkins should have plenty of chances to collapse pockets in Mahomes’ face.

4. Get-right game for Jaguars’ pass rush

Eerily quiet in losses to the Chiefs and Cowboys the past two weeks, the famed “Sacksonville” front four is due for a bounce-back performance. As it happens, they face the league’s most exploitable offensive line this week.

Already thin entering the year, the Houston Texans lost Seantrel Henderson in Week 1, thrusting rookie third-rounder Martinas Rankin into the lineup opposite raw 2017 fourth-rounder Julien Davenport. Both players have been benched for stretches in favor of Kendall Lamm, a fourth-year undrafted free agent. The results have been about what you’d expect: 25 sacks (one shy of the NFL’s highest total) and 65 QB hits allowed, the latter a whopping 18 more than any other team.

With his front five whiffing blocks and getting bulled into him with frightening regularity, Deshaun Watson has exacerbated matters by moving preemptively and erratically. But his escapability isn’t limiting pressure — it’s expanding the burden up front because linemen aren’t taught to protect for a moving target. Not only is Watson moving into pressure, but he’s holding the ball too long while trying to create, leading to more hits and sacks.

Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell (four sacks, seven QB hits) should have a field day. Offensive tackles rarely face edge rushers with his raw power, and Davenport lacks the anchor to handle it. Yannick Ngakoue (four sacks, nine QB hits) also should give Lamm repeated trouble with his blend of burst and bendability.

For whatever reason, Texans coach Bill O’Brien has dialed back the use of play-action in Watson’s second season, but that would be a helpful tactic to feature again this week. It won’t matter, however, if Houston gets behind early and has to throw.

5. Pressure squarely on Titans’ linebackers

With an offense that possesses little identity and a quarterback who isn’t seeing the field clearly, Tennessee needs defense to win right now, and the unit has mostly impressed. One weak spot, however, has been inside linebacker, where first-round rookie Rashaan Evans has been pulled in some passing situations in favor of nominal special-teamer Daren Bates.

The group should be better this week with the return of Wesley Woodyard (shoulder), who pairs with second-year man Jayon Brown to form a speedy duo. The two will be stressed often in London against the Los Angeles Chargers’ outstanding running back tandem of Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler, who rank eighth and second, respectively, in yards per carry among qualified rushers.

The Chargers killed the Browns with the perimeter run game last week, getting the edge on tosses and sweeps while often running the same plays. Gordon’s power and ability to set up blocks has been devastating, and the shifty Ekeler continues to leave defenders grasping at air in the open field.

They might be even more dangerous as receivers, especially because Philip Rivers has always been excellent at hitting his check-down early to maximize yards after catch. Gordon ranks fourth and Ekeler 12th in receiving yards by running backs this season, and Ekeler’s 14.8-yard average is tops among backs with more than 10 catches.

Woodyard and Brown will be central to the Titans’ hopes of slowing an offense that ranks fifth in scoring (29.2 points per game) and third in yards per play (6.8).

–David DeChant, Field Level Media

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Titans, Chargers meet in London going in opposite directions

The Tennessee Titans and Los Angeles Chargers have made the trip abroad to London for Sunday's game with their seasons going in opposite directions on offense.

The Chargers (4-2) are on a three-game winning streak with one of the more well-balanced offenses in the league while the Tians (3-3) have dropped two straight

The Tennessee Titans and Los Angeles Chargers have made the trip abroad to London for Sunday’s game with their seasons going in opposite directions on offense.

The Chargers (4-2) are on a three-game winning streak with one of the more well-balanced offenses in the league while the Tians (3-3) have dropped two straight and haven’t scored a touchdown the past two weeks.

Tennessee quarterback Marcus Mariotta said there is plenty of urgency going into the game, while also trying not to push too hard.

“It’s finding the happy medium. When it comes down to it, it’s just making plays,” he said. “When you’re out here in practice, it’s getting comfortable with the game plan, making sure that everybody knows the little details. From there, it’s just the process.”

If the Titans are going to be successful on Sunday, they needs to commit to keeping Mariotta upright and also recommitting to the run game. Mariotta was sacked 11 times in last Sunday’s 21-0 loss to Baltimore. The performance was surprising because the Titans had their top six offensive linemen back, including both tackles who’ve missed time because of injuries, and they had allowed only nine sacks combined over the first five games.

One step toward taking pressure off Mariotta would be finding a way to get running back Derrick Henry more involved. Henry came into this season having led the Titans with 744 yards rushing last season despite starting only two games, and he ran for 156 yards in their playoff victory last January. But the 2015 Heisman Trophy winner had a season-low seven carries for 21 yards in last week’s loss. Henry could be very helpful against a Chargers defense that is giving up 4.2 yards per carry.

Los Angeles has been firing on all cylinders offensively. Quarterback Philip Rivers has a 115.1 passer rating, which leads the AFC and is second in the NFL. A key to Rivers’ hot start is that he has been sacked only seven times.

Running back Melvin Gordon has rushed for more than 100 yards in two of the past three weeks and is averaging 5.7 yards per carry.

Rivers said the biggest key for this week has been on maintaining a familiar schedule despite being away from home.

The Chargers stayed in Cleveland after last Sunday’s win against the Browns and practiced at Baldwin-Wallace University.

“We kind of talked about it as a group. Whatever you normally do, make sure you do it. There’s going to be plenty more time to do more, but make sure you do it whether it be a rehab routine you have, something you do recovery or studying,” Rivers said.

Here are other things to watch during the NFL’s second straight week at Wembley Stadium:

EARLY POSITIONING

As the season gets closer to the midway point both teams are looking to stay in prime postseason position. The Chargers, who haven’t been in the playoffs since 2013, are only a game behind Kansas City in the AFC West, but also in good early shape for a wild-card spot. The Titans are in a three-way tie for the top spot in the AFC South.

“We want to get this win and be able to rest up on a positive note. It always sucks if you were able to lose a game and then you have a bye week, then you have a long time to process and think about it. We want to come off on a good note.” Titans linebacker Brian Orakpo said.

STOUT DEFENSE

The Titans’ defense is allowing the third-fewest points in the league at 17.8 per game. They have also been very tough in the red zone, allowing only six touchdowns in 16 opportunities (37.5 percent).

SEARCHING FOR DAVIS

Tennessee wide receiver Corey Davis set career highs with nine receptions for 161 yards in a Sept. 30 win over Philadelphia. But Davis has only five receptions for 73 yards the past two weeks as the Titans have been kept out of the end zone.

PASS RUSH REBOUNDS

The Chargers had only eight sacks in the first four games, but have eight the past two weeks. They are still missing defensive end Joey Bosa (foot), but defensive tackle Corey Liuget’s return from a four-game league suspension has resulted in fewer double teams to Melvin Ingram and other players.

KEEP AN EYE ON

The Chargers kickers. Caleb Sturgis missed last Sunday’s game because of a quad injury, which meant Michael Badgley became the seventh kicker to make a field goal for the team since the start of last season. Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said it is likely to come down to a game-time decision.

Sturgis’ future has been in doubt since he missed four extra points in the first five games.

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AP Pro Football Writer Teresa Walker contributed to this story.

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Follow Joe Reedy at www.twitter.com/joereedy

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Jaguars trying to straighten out turnovers against Texans

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Of all the things that went right for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2017, turnovers were at the top of the list.

The Jaguars took care of the ball, especially in the postseason, and ranked second in the league with 33 takeaways. They finished the regular season at plus-10 in

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Of all the things that went right for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2017, turnovers were at the top of the list.

The Jaguars took care of the ball, especially in the postseason, and ranked second in the league with 33 takeaways. They finished the regular season at plus-10 in turnover margin, tied for fifth in the NFL.

They’re nowhere close to that these days.

The Jaguars (3-3) have been careless with the football through six games and have done considerably less to create fumbles and interceptions.

The result: Jacksonville sits next to last in turnover margin, a minus-9 ratio that was a key part of consecutive blowout road losses to Kansas City and Dallas.

Finding a way to end the trend Sunday against Houston (3-3) could be the difference between first place in the AFC South and a three-game losing streak.

“We’re definitely not helping ourselves out by any means,” quarterback Blake Bortles said. “We are getting unlucky. Not only are we not helping ourselves, but we are also getting some bad bounces, and that is part of it.

“We will start creating our own good fortune, and I think with that we will start getting some breaks and some bounces will go our way as well.”

The Jaguars could use some better fortune, especially since they are without their top two left tackles, their top two tight ends, two of their top three running backs and their leading receiver from a year ago. The rash of injuries has hampered the offense so much that it failed to score in the first half of the past two games.

And the usually stout defense has done little, if anything, to pick up the slack. The unit allowed a combined 802 yards, 63 points and 49 first downs against the Chiefs and Cowboys.

“We haven’t lost our confidence,” defensive tackle Malik Jackson said. “I think it’s a reality check. We understand who we are. We know who we are. I think a lot of us are leaning on the accolades.

“We want to be Pro Bowlers. We have to be All-Pros. We want to be this, but we have to understand that we just have to play like we did last year, just stay carefree, and the less you care about your accolades off the field, the more we’ll win as a team.”

The Texans have won three in a row in dramatic fashion. They won twice in overtime and beat Buffalo last week thanks to Johnathan Joseph’s interception return for a touchdown in the waning minutes.

Houston hasn’t won four in a row since 2015.

Beating Jacksonville could come down to how well Houston’s offensive line plays. The Texans allowed 14 sacks in two lopsided losses to the Jaguars last season and have allowed 25 in six games this season, the second-most in the league.

Quarterback Deshaun Watson played last week with a partially collapsed lung and a broken rib.

“I’m fine now. I’m healthy,” he said. “I’m cleared to practice, cleared to do everything. I’m good.”

Bortles should be wary, too. He has been sacked eight times in the past two games while playing behind an injury-riddled line. And now the Jaguars have to deal with J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney.

Equally concerning are the team’s 14 turnovers and five takeaways.

“It has not been what we wanted or what we expected or planned for,” Bortles said. “Everybody knows that. You learn from it, you put it in the past and you move on. You have to find a way to get back on track and get back to playing like we did against the Jets or against New England or late last year. That is all we are focusing on: getting back to playing the kind of football and the execution level that we know we can do.”

Here are some other things to know about the Texans and Jaguars:

BACK TO BASICS

Jaguars coach Doug Marrone focused on fundamentals in practice all week, with several players saying they essentially returned to training camp mode in Week 7. Some might consider it a desperation move, but Marrone defended his decision to go back to square one.

“Anytime you see football being played as poorly as we have been playing, then it comes down to fundamentals,” he said. “That is my philosophy.”

HAL RETURNS

Texans safety Andre Hal, who is in remission after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, resumed practicing this week. He won’t play against the Jaguars, but gave the team an emotional lift this week. Hal was diagnosed with the disease in May and immediately began treatment.

“I’m in the best shape of my life just from working out all the time, eating right, getting closer to God, getting closer to myself, finding out who I am, stuff like that,” Hal said. “I’m a better person.”

PASSING LEAGUE

Watson and Bortles have three games each with at least 375 yards passing this season.

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