Colts continue to take advantage of tight end mismatches

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Frank Reich thought he could exploit the Indianapolis Colts’ tight end advantage.

Defenses still haven’t solved it.

Less than a year after helping the Philadelphia Eagles win their first Super Bowl, Reich brought the philosophy to his first head coaching job and is getting similar results.

“I did expect we were going to spread it around, that’s just kind of how we roll,” Reich said Monday, a day after beating Oakland. “Now it’s probably exceeded expectations, but the expectations were pretty high to start.”

There’s been little to quibble with through the first half of the season.

Only three tight ends in the league have more receptions than Eric Ebron (36), a free-agent signee who finally appears to be meeting the hype of a first-round draft pick. Only Antonio Brown (eight) has more touchdown catches than Ebron (seven).

Pro Bowler Jack Doyle has 15 receptions in three games and caught his first scoring pass Sunday, giving Indy a league-high 12 TD catches among four tight ends.

The group played so well Sunday, they pulled off a rarer feat than Adam Vinatieri becoming the NFL’s career scoring leader, Marlon Mack becoming the first Colts’ runner with back-to-back 100-yard games since 2007 and Andrew Luck avoiding a sack in a third straight game for the first time in his pro career.

Ebron, Doyle and Mo Alie-Cox became the first tight end trio to each catch a TD pass in the same game since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger.

And they did it in style.

Cox’s first career score came on an acrobatic, one-handed grab that Reich quickly dubbed one of the best catches he’s ever seen. It’s the first time fans really witnessed what the former college basketball star and undrafted free agent really could do on the football field.

Ebron’s score came as he tap-danced along the sideline for the tying score in the third quarter.

Doyle gave Indy the final lead change of the game with a 10-yard catch-and-run that ended with Doyle diving just inside the pylon.

“What an awesome job our tight end group does to complement this offense, to complement the wide outs, to complement each other in the way we play,” Luck said.

“I think there’s a lot of different personnel groups that run out on that field. It basically allows us to be successful in all those personnel groups, and I think that puts a lot of pressure on a defense.”

It’s all by design.

Reich saw how effective the tight ends could be during previous stints with the Colts, Chargers and the past two seasons in Philadelphia.

So when he returned to Indy and found the reliable Doyle and Erik Swoope, another college basketball convert, on the roster, Reich figured why not start building around tight ends. The Colts lured Ebron from Detroit, where he fell out of favor because of his reputation for drops, and they signed Ryan Hewitt in early September after he was cut by Cincinnati.

Alie-Cox has proved a pleasant surprise after spending last season on the Colts’ practice squad, reacquainting himself with a sport he hadn’t played since transferring to a non-football playing high school in Virginia.

“I bet in the last month there’s probably been three, four, maybe even five wow moments on the practice field involving Mo, although the one in the game might have been better than all those we saw on the practice field,” Reich said. “I remember when we got here and Chris is telling me about Mo and saying he really thought Mo had something to him.”

Now it’s translating to success on the field.

Indy (3-5) heads into its bye week on a two-game winning streak, in large part because its tight ends have been able to stretch the field and continue to play their part in protecting Luck and creating holes for Mack.

If they keep it up, the Colts could play their way back into the AFC South race. They’re just two games out of the division lead with home games looming against Jacksonville (3-5), Tennessee (3-4) and Miami (4-4) following the bye and the second-easiest schedule remaining.

“As we’ve said all offseason, the tight ends are a point of strength for this team and this offensive roster,” Reich said. “They showed up big (Sunday).”

Note: Indy signed offensive tackle Antonio Garcia to the practice squad Monday.

___

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Ex Cowboy Irving: Garrett ‘told me I should just quit’

Ex Cowboy Irving: Garrett 'told me I should just quit'

Ex Cowboy Irving: Garrett ‘told me I should just quit’

When suspended Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman David Irving shared a post – in which he appeared to be smoking marijuana – on Instagram and announced his retirement last week, it was with coach Jason Garrett’s encouragement, he said.

“He told me I should just quit, smoke all the weed I want, the team didn’t need me,” Irving told USA Today in an interview. “I’m a distraction to the team.

“He views marijuana as a drug, whereas I view it as a medicine. It’s not a good situation.”

Two weeks ago, the NFL suspended Irving indefinitely for a third violation of its policy regarding banned drugs.

“Basically, guys, I quit,” Irving said in his post. “I don’t want to talk about a suspension and all this other nonsense. I’m outta there. I’m not doing this (junk) no more. You know, it’s a lot of reasons.

Now, he said, rather than give up the drug, he will make his living through it. He already has an agreement to market two products — cannabidiol pre-rolls (joints) and cannabidiol vape pens.

Irving said he suffers from mental illnesses that he attributes to football and that players should have the option to treat their ailments with cannabis.

“People need to understand I’m not doing this – I didn’t quit football to smoke weed,” Irving said. “That would be idiotic. I understand that.

“It’s about wellness, about rights. People need to understand that.”

While the Cowboys didn’t respond to USA Today’s request for comment, Irving said owner Jerry Jones understands him.

“Basically, Jerry, he is supportive of me,” Irving said. “He understands my situation and what I was dealing with. Our hands were pretty much tied. His hands were tied.”

Irving, 25, spent the past four seasons with the Cowboys after entering the NFL as an undrafted free agent out of Iowa State. He appeared in 37 games (10 starts) and recorded 12.5 sacks, five forced fumbles and 56 tackles. Irving played in just two games in 2018, notching one sack.

–Field Level Media

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OL Watford joins Bucs on one-year deal

OL Watford joins Bucs on one-year deal

New head coach Bruce Arians is bringing

OL Watford joins Bucs on one-year deal

New head coach Bruce Arians is bringing a familiar face to Tampa Bay, with the Buccaneers signing offensive lineman Earl Watford to a one-year deal on Saturday.

Watford, who spent last season with the Cleveland Browns, was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in 2013 and spent his first five seasons playing for Arians.

The 6-foot-3, 300-pound Watford joins a Buccaneers offensive line that has four returning starters.

He’ll likely get a shot at the open right guard position, but he can provide flexibility across the line.

Watford, 28, has played both guard spots and right tackle over his NFL career, which spans 55 games and 22 starts.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

–Field Level Media

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Jaguars sign WR Conley, OL Ogbuehi

Jaguars sign WR Conley, OL Ogbuehi

Jaguars sign WR Conley, OL Ogbuehi

The Jacksonville Jaguars stayed busy in free agency, announcing the signings of wide receiver Chris Conley and offensive lineman Cedric Ogbuehi on Saturday.

The moves follow the Jaguars’ big free-agent splash when they signed former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles on Wednesday.

Contract terms for the two players were not announced.

Conley, 26, played for the Kansas City Chiefs over his first four seasons, making 104 catches for 1,238 yards and six touchdowns. He emerged as a scoring target for Patrick Mahomes last season, catching 32 passes for 334 yards and five touchdowns.

Conley and Foles were teammates in Kansas City in 2016, and the wide receiver cited the signing of Foles as a big factor in his decision.

“There was opportunity here to begin with, but then the addition of him at quarterback … that sealed the deal for me,” Conley said.

Ogbuehi figures to replace offensive tackle Jermey Parnell, who was released as part of the Jaguars’ efforts to free up money for Foles.

Ogbuehi, 26, started 25 of 35 games over his first four seasons, all with the Cincinnati Bengals, but appeared in just two games last season. A Texas A&M product, he was the Bengals’ first-round draft pick in 2015.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Broncos add CB Callahan for three years, $21M

Report: Broncos add CB Callahan for three years, $21M

Report: Broncos add CB Callahan for three years, $21M

The Denver Broncos have signed former Chicago Bears slot cornerback Bryce Callahan to a three-year, $21 million contract, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Friday evening.

The move reunites Callahan, 27, with new Denver head coach Vic Fangio, who was the Bears’ defensive coordinator during Callahan’s first four seasons in the league. Callahan has four interceptions in 45 games (29 starts).

Callahan started 10 of 13 games played last season and recorded 45 tackles, two sacks, two interceptions and defended six passes. He missed the final three games of the season after he broke his left foot in the Bears’ 15-6 victory over the Los Angeles Rams in a Sunday night game.

Also Friday, the Broncos announced they have re-signed tight end Jeff Heuerman, who was a free agent following the 2018 season. Multiple sources report the two-year deal is worth $9 million.

The three-year veteran is coming off his best professional season to date. Last season, the 26-year-old recorded 31 receptions for 281 yards and two touchdowns in 11 games (10 starts).

–Field Level Media

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Broncos add CB Callahan for three years, reported $21M

Broncos add CB Callahan for three years, reported $21M

Broncos add CB Callahan for three years, reported $21M

The Denver Broncos signed former Chicago Bears slot cornerback Bryce Callahan to a three-year contract on Friday evening.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the deal is worth $21 million with $10 million guaranteed.

The move reunites Callahan, 27, with new Denver head coach Vic Fangio, who was the Bears’ defensive coordinator during Callahan’s first four seasons in the league. Callahan has four interceptions in 45 games (29 starts).

Callahan started 10 of 13 games played last season and recorded 45 tackles, two sacks, two interceptions and defended six passes. He missed the final three games of the season after he broke his left foot in the Bears’ 15-6 victory over the Los Angeles Rams in a Sunday night game.

Also Friday, the Broncos announced they have re-signed tight end Jeff Heuerman, who was a free agent following the 2018 season. Multiple sources report the two-year deal is worth $9 million.

The four-year veteran — who missed his entire rookie season to a torn ACL — is coming off his best professional season to date. The 26-year-old recorded 31 receptions for 281 yards and two touchdowns in 11 games (10 starts) in 2018 before going on injured reserve with broken ribs.

Heuerman has missed 27 games to injury through four seasons since being drafted in the third round in 2015.

–Field Level Media

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Bengals sign G Miller for 3 years, reported $16.5M

Bengals sign G Miller for 3 years, reported $16.5M

The

Bengals sign G Miller for 3 years, reported $16.5M

The Cincinnati Bengals are signing free agent guard John Miller to a three-year, $16.5 million contract, according to multiple reports Friday.

Miller, 25, was Buffalo’s third-round pick in 2015 and started 47 games at right guard for the Bills over the past four seasons.

Miller ranked fourth on the Bills with 883 offensive snaps in 15 starts last season.

Miller visited Thursday with the Bengals. He will be reunited on the offensive line with former Buffalo teammate Cordy Glenn, a tackle who joined Cincinnati in a trade last March.

Cincinnati also brought former Browns and Patriots defensive tackle Danny Shelton in for a visit, according to ESPN.

The 25-year-old run-stopper was drafted 12th overall by Cleveland in 2015 and traded to New England for a swap of third- and fifth-round picks last March. He is a free agent after his fifth-year option was declined.

–Field Level Media

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Titans acquire Dolphins QB Tannehill, release Gabbert

Titans acquire Dolphins QB Tannehill, release Gabbert

The

Titans acquire Dolphins QB Tannehill, release Gabbert

The Miami Dolphins traded quarterback Ryan Tannehill to the Titans on Friday, receiving a 2020 fourth-round pick and 2019 seventh-rounder while also sending a 2019 sixth-rounder to Tennessee.

Tannehill restructured his existing contract and will have a fully guaranteed one-year, $7 million deal with the Titans, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported, $5 million of which will be paid by the Dolphins. The value could climb to $12 million with performance incentives.

The QB was previously due a base salary of $18.75 million in 2019.

Tannehill, 30, started 11 games in 2018 and completed 64.2 percent of his passes for 1,979 yards with 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He missed five games with an injured throwing shoulder.

To make room for Tannehill, the Titans released quarterback Blaine Gabbert.

The Dolphins made the move without a proven quarterback on the roster to replace him, having failed to sign free agents Teddy Bridgewater (Saints) or Tyrod Taylor (Chargers). Luke Falk and Jake Rudock are the only QBs on the Miami roster. Falk has never played in an NFL game and Rudock has thrown five passes in three games, including one interception.

Miami made Tannehill the eighth overall pick in 2012, but the Dolphins reached the playoffs only one time in his six seasons.

Tannehill leaves the Dolphins with a 42-46 record. He ranks third in franchise history in passing yards (20,434) and touchdown passes (123).

The Titans now have an insurance policy for Mariota. The 25-year-old former Heisman Trophy winner missed two starts last season because of a nerve injury that affected his throwing shoulder.

Mariota has a 27-28 record in four seasons since Tennessee picked him second overall in the 2015 NFL Draft.

–Field Level Media

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NFL transactions: Dolphins trade Tannehill to Titans

NFL transactions: Dolphins trade Tannehill to Titans

The Miami Dolphins traded

NFL transactions: Dolphins trade Tannehill to Titans

The Miami Dolphins traded quarterback Ryan Tannehill to the Tennessee Titans on Friday, receiving a 2020 fourth-round pick and 2019 seventh-rounder while also sending a 2019 sixth-rounder to Tennessee.

Tannehill restructured his existing contract and will have a fully guaranteed one-year, $7 million deal with the Titans, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported, $5 million of which will be paid by the Dolphins. The value could climb to $12 million with performance incentives. The QB was previously due a base salary of $18.75 million in 2019.

Tannehill, 30, started 11 games in 2018 and completed 64.2 percent of his passes for 1,979 yards with 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He missed five games with an injured throwing shoulder.

To make room for Tannehill, the Titans released quarterback Blaine Gabbert.

–Former Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles will visit the Los Angeles Rams on Monday, NFL Network reported.

Bortles, a 2014 first-round pick, was released earlier this week after the Jaguars signed Nick Foles. Incumbent Rams backup Sean Mannion is a free agent, leaving an opening behind Jared Goff.

— The Denver Broncos signed former Chicago Bears slot cornerback Bryce Callahan to a three-year. ESPN reports the deal is worth $21 million, with $10 million guaranteed.

The move reunites Callahan, 27, with new Denver head coach Vic Fangio, who was the Bears’ defensive coordinator during Callahan’s first four seasons in the league. Callahan has four interceptions in 45 games (29 starts).

The Broncos also re-signed starting tight end Jeff Heuerman on a two-year deal worth a reported $9 million.

–Cornerback Ronald Darby will remain with the Philadelphia Eagles after agreeing to a one-year deal, the team announced.

According to multiple outlets, the deal is worth $8.5 million.

Darby had one interception in nine games last season before suffering a torn ACL in his right knee in a game against the Dallas Cowboys on Nov. 11. It hasn’t yet been determined if he will be healthy by the start of the 2019 season.

–New England is releasing defensive end Adrian Clayborn, a move that clears about $4 million in cap space.

Clayborn, 30, broke the news on Twitter and thanked the Patriots for granting his release.

–Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has come out of retirement to sign with the Washington Redskins.

Rodgers-Cromartie retired midseason with the Oakland Raiders last season before deciding this spring to return.

–The Titans are releasing right guard Josh Kline, one year after signing him to a four-year, $26 million contract extension.

NFL Network reported the 29-year-old veteran declined to take a pay cut. Releasing him saves $3.25 million while leaving $3.5 million in dead money.

–The Cincinnati Bengals signed free agent guard John Miller to a three-year contract. The deal is worth $16.5 million, according to multiple reports.

The Bengals also brought former Cleveland Browns and Patriots defensive tackle Danny Shelton in for a visit, according to ESPN.

–The Tampa Bay Buccaneers added former Broncos outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett on a one-year deal worth a reported $5 million.

The team also signed guard Earl Watford, per multiple reports, and re-signed cornerback De’Vante Harris and defensive tackle Rakeem Nunez-Roches.

–The San Francisco 49ers released defensive end Cassius Marsh, saving $4.7 million against the cap in 2019.

Marsh had 5.5 sacks and 14 quarterback hits last season but was apparently deemed expendable after the acquisition of Pro Bowler Dee Ford earlier this week.

The 49ers also re-signed linebacker Mark Nzeocha, per the team, and restricted free agent running back Raheem Mostert, per his agent, on three-year deals.

–The Los Angeles Chargers retained safety Adrian Phillips on a one-year deal. Phillips was a Pro Bowler in 2018 as a special teamer.

–The New York Giants are likely to sign former Minnesota Vikings offensive lineman Mike Remmers, his agent said. Remmers was primarily a right tackle before switching to guard last season.

Meanwhile, the Giants signed defensive tackle Olsen Pierre, who had 5.5 sacks under Giants defensive coordinator James Bettcher when both were with the Cardinals in 2017.

–The New Orleans Saints signed former New York Giants defensive lineman Mario Edwards on a two-year deal. The contract is worth $5 million with up to $1.5 million additional in incentives, per Pro Football Talk.

–The Baltimore Ravens signed former Arizona Cardinals and Atlanta Falcons cornerback Justin Bethel to a two-year deal. Bethel made three Pro Bowls from 2013-15 as a special teamer.

–The Green Bay Packers re-signed restricted free agent wideout Geronimo Allison on a one-year deal, CBS Sports reported.

Per the report, the deal will pay Allison more than his restricted free agent tender and has additional incentives, after other teams expressed interest in the 25-year-old.

–The Raiders signed speedster wideout J.J. Nelson and defensive end Josh Mauro, while re-signing linebacker Jason Cabinda and guard Chaz Green.

Mauro’s one-year deal is reportedly worth $1.4 million.

–Former Bengals cornerback Darqueze Dennard is visiting the Kansas City Chiefs, per multiple reports.

–The New York Jets signed former kicker Chandler Catanzaro, after Pro Bowler Jason Myers left in free agency.

–The Browns signed former Houston Texans right tackle Kendall Lamm to a two-year deal worth $7 million, per the Houston Chronicle.

–The Texans signed former Browns cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun on a one-year deal worth a reported $900,000. Houston also worked out former Bengals second-round offensive tackle Jake Fisher, who is trying to transition to tight end.

–The Jacksonville Jaguars signed former Cowboys tight end Geoff Swaim.

–The Bears signed former Falcons wideout/returner Marvin Hall to a one-year deal.

–Former Saints offensive lineman Jermon Bushrod visited the Carolina Panthers but left without a deal, per multiple reports.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Ex-Jags QB Bortles to visit Rams

Report: Ex-Jags QB Bortles to visit Rams

Former Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles will visit the Los

Report: Ex-Jags QB Bortles to visit Rams

Former Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles will visit the Los Angeles Rams on Monday, NFL Network reported Friday evening.

The Jaguars released Bortles on Wednesday, less than two hours after officially signing free agent Nick Foles.

The Rams have an opening behind starter Jared Goff, with incumbent backup Sean Mannion an unrestricted free agent.

Bortles, who turns 27 next month, signed a three-year, $54 million extension with the Jaguars last offseason, but he threw for 2,718 yards, 13 touchdowns and 11 interceptions while going 3-9 as a starter before being benched for Cody Kessler. Jacksonville was willing to eat $16.5 million in dead money from Bortles’ contract to move on from him this offseason.

A first-round pick in 2014, Bortles has completed 59.3 percent of his passes for 17,646 yards, 103 touchdowns and 75 interceptions in his career, with a passer rating of 80.6 and a record of 24-49.

–Field Level Media

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Reports: Chiefs WR Hill under investigation for battery on juvenile

Reports: Chiefs WR Hill under investigation for battery on juvenile

Reports: Chiefs WR Hill under investigation for battery on juvenile

Kansas City Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill is under investigation for an alleged battery incident involving a juvenile, according to multiple published reports.

The Kansas City Star reported that Hill’s 3-year-old son suffered a broken arm in the incident.

Police responded to a home in Overland Park, Kan., according to a police report by the Overland Park (Kan.) Police Department.

The report is dated March 14. It is unclear if the incident occurred that day.

The Chiefs know about a situation involving Hill.

“The club is aware of the investigation involving Tyreek Hill,” the Chiefs said in a statement to The Kansas City Star. “We’re in the process of gathering information and have been in contact with the league and local authorities. We’ll have no further comment at this time.”

KCTV said it contacted Hill’s agent, who “would also not comment on the matter and hung up the phone on KCTV5’s investigative reporters.”

Overland Park police also responded to the same address on March 5 to investigate a report of child abuse or neglect. Hill’s name is listed on the report.

Hill’s fiance, Crystal Espinal, is listed on the March 14 report under others involved. The Star reports that Espinal is pregnant with twins. Espinal is the mother of the 3-year-old son whose arm was broken.

Hill reportedly choked and punched Espinal when she was pregnant in December 2014. Hill was arrested and dismissed from the Oklahoma State football team.

Hill later pleaded guilty to domestic assault and battery by strangulation, and received three years probation.

The conviction was dismissed last August after Hill completed probation requirements.

Hill was a fifth-round draft pick in 2016 and has blossomed into a major star for the Chiefs.

He has 223 catches for 3,255 yards and 25 touchdowns in his first three seasons, and is in line to receive a big-money deal from Kansas City. He also has returned four kickoffs and one punt for scores.

News about Hill broke on the same day that former Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt was handed an eight-game suspension. Hunt was released by the Chiefs on Nov. 30 when a video was released showing him kicking a woman.

Hunt was recently signed by the Cleveland Browns.

–Field Level Media

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McIlroy closes strong to pull even with Fleetwood at The Players

McIlroy closes strong to pull even with Fleetwood at The Players

McIlroy closes strong to pull even with Fleetwood at The Players

Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy rolled in a 21-foot birdie putt on the famed 17th hole on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass on Friday to grab a share of the lead with England’s Tommy Fleetwood at 12 under halfway through The Players Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

Fleetwood sat in the clubhouse leading by as many as three shots after posting his 5-under 67 on Friday, only to watch McIlroy eagle the 16th hole en route to posting 5-under 31 on the back nine alone.

Fleetwood, who birdied his final three holes on Thursday, opened with a birdie in the second round. He then holed out for eagle from a green-side bunker on the par-5 second hole and rolled in another birdie on No. 3.

He mixed three more birdies against a pair of bogeys over the final 15 holes to reach the clubhouse at 12-under-par 132 through 36 holes.

“It was a bit tougher (Friday), the greens got a bit crustier there at the end,” Fleetwood told the Golf Channel. “And the course is just firming out a bit now. All in all, very happy.”

McIlroy had a chance to shoot 64 — which would have equaled Jim Furyk for the low round of the tournament — and take the outright lead, but left his birdie attempt on the 18th hole short.

Furyk, who played in the morning wave and had eight birdies and no bogeys, is tied for third place at 9 under along with Brian Harman, England’s Ian Poulter and Mexico’s Abraham Ancer.

“I’ve rolled a couple of nice putts in today,” said Poulter, who chipped in from off the green twice on Friday and has made an average of 100 feet, 11 inches of putts through the first two rounds. “Hit a few decent shots in, where I could take advantage.”

Another shot back at 8 under are Kevin Kisner, Keith Mitchell, Australia’s Jason Day and Slovakia’s Rory Sabbatini.

Luke List was in the first group to tee off on No. 1 at 7:40 a.m., and he took advantage of the soft conditions and mild winds. He posted a 5-under 68 in reaching the weekend for the first time in three attempts at The Players, and is part of a group at 7 under that includes top-ranked Dustin Johnson.

“It was pretty benign early, and then the wind began picking up like it does here,” Lust told the Golf Channel. “I think the weekend they can do whatever they want, make it as hard as they want it and make it a challenge for us.

“If you’re playing really well, you can score. But if you get out of position, that’s where you have to be really cautious. If I can just kind of do the same things, I think I can be there on Sunday.”

Tiger Woods also took advantage of the early conditions, teeing off on the back nine and arriving at the 17th hole with three birdies on his card. However, his tee shot rolled off the back left into the water, and Woods put his next shot in the water as well.

Woods wound up carding the first quadruple bogey of his career on the hole. The last player to win a PGA Tour event with a quadruple bogey during the week was Adam Scott at the 2016 Honda Classic.

“I was pretty ticked, no doubt about that,” Woods told reporters. “I was bound and determined to get it all back and get it back to 5 under.”

Woods did finish the day with five birdies in posting a 1-under 71 and is nine shots off the lead at 3 under for the tournament.

“I ended up getting back to 3 (under),” Woods said. “It was a good fight to get it back to that point.”

Fleetwood and McIlroy might prove difficult men to catch over the weekend, although both are chasing something elusive.

McIlroy has finished in the top six in all five of his events this year, but he has not posted a victory since the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Meanwhile, Fleetwood has made a point of playing more big events in the United States, which includes posting six consecutive rounds under par on the Stadium Course.

However, Fleetwood has yet to claim his first victory on U.S. soil.

“It’s tough,” he said of trying to close out a victory. “Late in the afternoon on Saturday you get into the very, very final part of how the golf course is playing.

“It’s tough. I’ve yet to win, but hopefully that’s coming.”

NOTES: Jordan Spieth (1 over) and Phil Mickelson (4 over) were among those to miss the cut. … Rookie Cameron Champ withdrew after two holes Friday due to a back injury. He was 2 over through eight holes after opening with a 78. … “Disappointingly, I had to WD from my first @thePlayersChamp,” Champ tweeted. “I’ve been dealing with some tightness in my back throughout the week and it spasmed up pretty good today. My team and I decided it was best not to take any unnecessary risks. Good luck to the guys this weekend!” … South Korea’s Sungjae Im hit the second hole-in-one of the week, acing the par-3 13th hole from 152 yards. Ryan Moore aced the 17th hole on Thursday. Im would later hit his tee shot on 17 into the water and take a double bogey, ultimately missing the cut. … Wyndam Clark was disqualified after shooting an 80 in Thursday’s opening round but signing for a 79. He was the last player into the field, landing a spot after Pat Perez withdrew due to an Achilles injury.

–Field Level Media

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CB Darby agrees to remain with Eagles

CB Darby agrees to remain with Eagles

Cornerback Ronald

CB Darby agrees to remain with Eagles

Cornerback Ronald Darby will remain with the Philadelphia Eagles after agreeing to a one-year deal on Friday, the team announced.

According to spotrac.com, the deal is worth $8.5 million.

Darby had one interception in nine games last season before suffering a torn ACL in his right knee in a game against the Dallas Cowboys on Nov. 11. It hasn’t yet been determined if he will be healthy by the start of the 2019 season.

Darby totaled four interceptions in 17 games over two seasons with the Eagles after being acquired from the Buffalo Bills. He played in just eight games in 2017 after suffering a dislocated ankle in September.

Darby was a second-round pick in 2015 by the Bills. He had two interceptions in 29 games with Buffalo.

–Field Level Media

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Kaepernick ‘ready to play,’ shows interest in Dolphins

Kaepernick ‘ready to play,’ shows interest in Dolphins

Kaepernick ‘ready to play,’ shows interest in Dolphins

The Ryan Tannehill trade by the Miami Dolphins to the Tennessee Titans on Friday apparently gave Colin Kaepernick some ideas.

The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback expressed interest in replacing Tannehill as the starting quarterback in Miami, according to a CBS Sports report.

Kaepernick is “training hard and ready to play,” a source close to the onetime star told CBS Sports NFL insider Jason La Canfora. The source indicated that the Miami job interests Kaepernick.

Kaepernick has not been an active player in the NFL since the 2016 season, having gone unsigned in free agency during the past two seasons after opting out of a contract with the 49ers.

In February, he settled a collusion grievance with the NFL. Kaepernick filed his grievance in October 2017, alleging collusion by NFL owners to keep him out of the league.

A number of owners, executives, coaches and other figures were deposed as part of the grievance, and a motion by the NFL to have the grievance dismissed was denied in August.

Kaepernick’s decision to kneel during the national anthem in protest of police brutality and racial injustice created controversy throughout the country in 2016.

While compiling a 28-30 record as the 49ers starting quarterback from 2012-16, he led them to a Super Bowl XLVII appearance after the 2012 season.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Rams’ strength coach charged with sexual battery

Report: Rams' strength coach charged with sexual battery

Los Angeles Rams strength

Report: Rams’ strength coach charged with sexual battery

Los Angeles Rams strength and conditioning coach Ted Rath reportedly entered a not guilty plea Friday to charges of misdemeanor sexual battery in Ventura County, Calif.

KNX 1070 Newsradio reported that Rath’s attorney, Vicki Podberesky, entered the plea on his behalf and said her client would go to trial to fight the charges if necessary.

The alleged incident took place last June, according to the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department. Rath was not arrested until Jan. 15.

Deputy District Attorney Erik Nasarenko asked the sheriff’s department to conduct an additional investigation before deciding to charge Rath with three counts of misdemeanor sexual battery, per KNX 1070.

The Rams issued a statement: “We are aware of the charges. We take allegations very seriously. Once the charges were filed, we decided Ted would take a leave of absence from the team as the matter works its way through the justice system.”

Rath is perhaps best known as the Rams’ “get-back” coach, because he helps to keep head coach Sean McVay out of harm’s way on the sidelines.

When Rath was not with the team during the playoffs, including Super Bowl LIII, the Rams told NFL.com he was recovering from a medical procedure.

–Field Level Media

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Reports: Dolphins trade QB Tannehill to Titans

Reports: Dolphins trade QB Tannehill to Titans

The

Reports: Dolphins trade QB Tannehill to Titans

The Miami Dolphins reportedly have traded quarterback Ryan Tannehill to Tennessee, where he will back up Titans starter Marcus Mariota.

The Dolphins will receive a seventh-round pick in 2019 and a fourth-rounder in 2020, with the Titans also receiving Miami’s sixth-round pick in 2019, according to NFL Network.

Tannehill restructured his existing contract and will have a fully guaranteed one-year, $7 million deal with the Titans, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported. The value could climb to $12 million with performance incentives.

He would have been due a base salary of $18.75 million. Schefter said Miami will save $33 million in cap space over the next two years.

Tannehill, 30, started 11 games in 2018 and completed 64.2 percent of his passes for 1,979 yards with 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He missed five games with an injured throwing shoulder.

The Dolphins made the move without a proven quarterback on the roster to replace him, having failed to sign free agents Teddy Bridgewater (Saints) or Tyrod Taylor (Chargers). Luke Falk and Jake Rudock are the only QBs on the Miami roster. Falk has never played in an NFL game and Rudock has thrown five passes in three games, including one interception.

Miami made Tannehill the eighth overall pick in 2012, but the Dolphins reached the playoffs only one time in his six seasons.

Tannehill leaves the Dolphins with a 42-46 record. He ranks third in franchise history in passing yards (20,434) and touchdown passes (123).

The Titans now have an insurance policy for Mariota. The 25-year-old former Heisman Trophy winner missed two starts last season because of a nerve injury that affected his throwing shoulder.

Mariota has a 27-28 record in four seasons since Tennessee picked him second overall in the 2015 NFL Draft.

–Field Level Media

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Redskins sign CB Rodgers-Cromartie

Redskins sign CB Rodgers-Cromartie

Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has come out of retirement

Redskins sign CB Rodgers-Cromartie

Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has come out of retirement to sign with the Washington Redskins, the team announced Friday.

Contract terms were not announced.

The No. 16 overall pick by the Arizona Cardinals in the 2008 NFL Draft, Rodgers-Cromartie has played in 160 regular-season games (121 starts).

Following his stint with the Cardinals (2008-10), he played for Philadelphia (2011-12), Denver (2013), the New York Giants (2014-17) and Oakland (2018).

Rodgers-Cromartie played in seven games with the Raiders, then abruptly retired in October, announcing it on Instagram. But earlier this month, he said he wanted to return to football.

He turns 33 next month.

A two-time Pro Bowl selection, Rodgers-Cromartie has 451 tackles to go with 30 interceptions for 535 yards.

In Washington, he’ll be reunited for his former Giants teammate, safety Landon Collins, who signed a six-year, $84 million contract this week.

–Field Level Media

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Raiders will play in Oakland in 2019

Raiders will play in Oakland in 2019

The

Raiders will play in Oakland in 2019

The Raiders will remain in Oakland for the 2019 season.

The Oakland Alameda County Coliseum Authority voted unanimously Friday to approve a new stadium lease with the Raiders, who are scheduled to relocate to Las Vegas in 2020.

The Raiders will pay $7.5 million to play at the Coliseum in 2019 and have a $10.5 million option to remain there in 2020, an insurance plan in case of construction delays in Nevada.

The team’s $1.8 billion, 65,000-seat facility in Las Vegas is scheduled to be finished by July 31, 2020.

The Oakland City Council and Alameda County Board of Supervisors still need to approve the deal, but that is considered a formality.

Team owner Mark Davis had explored other locations in the Bay Area, including the San Francisco 49ers’ Levi’s Stadium and the San Francisco Giants’ Oracle Park.

The Raiders will play seven games in Oakland in 2019, with an eighth “home” game scheduled against the Chicago Bears in London.

–Field Level Media

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QB Mayfield: ‘It’s an exciting time in Cleveland’

QB Mayfield: 'It's an exciting time in Cleveland'

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield said Friday he can't wait to show the fans what

QB Mayfield: ‘It’s an exciting time in Cleveland’

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield said Friday he can’t wait to show the fans what the team can do in 2019.

“It’s an exciting time in Cleveland, absolutely,” Mayfield said. “The fans there, after having a decent year, nothing that we were too happy about (7-8-1), were unbelievably satisfied. But now, I can’t even imagine.

Mayfield made his first public comments since the Browns acquired Pro Bowl wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. from the New York Giants on Tuesday. He spoke to the media from the Milwaukee Brewers spring training locker room in Phoenix, where he spent the day as a guest of his close friend, Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich.

The Browns have spent the offseason surrounding the second-year quarterback with offensive weapons, most notably Beckham and running back Kareem Hunt, who must serve an eight-game NFL suspension before he can take the field. Beckham is reunited in Cleveland with wide receiver Jarvis Landry, his teammate at LSU and training partner in the NFL.

He called the offense “a thing where you pick your poison.”

When a reporter asked Mayfield about the oversized personalities of Landry and Beckham, he said he has no intention of trying to change anything about the receivers.

“You could say the same thing about me; you don’t want to tame it,” Mayfield said. “You just let them be themselves and make plays. That’s who they are, and when it comes down to it, the guys in that locker room, you’re going to love playing with them.”

–Field Level Media

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Woods’ 7 at island green has him nearing The Players cut line

Woods' 7 at island green has him nearing The Players cut line

Woods’ 7 at island green has him nearing The Players cut line

The 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., claimed another victim in Friday’s second round of The Players Championship: Tiger Woods.

Cruising along in a tie for eighth place when he teed off on the famed hole, Woods took a quadruple-bogey 7 on the picturesque par-3 with the island green, his eighth hole of the day after starting on the back nine. His tee shot from 146 yards was long and left over the island green and his next shot from the drop zone was also long.

After never scoring higher than a double-bogey 5 on No. 17, Woods plummeted to 57th place before he even moved on to the next tee.

Instead of planning his attack for victory on the weekend, Woods was left hovering around the cut line in the PGA Tour’s premier event.

“I was pretty ticked, no doubt about that,” Woods told reporters after the round. “I was bound and determined to get it all back and get it back to 5 under.”

After starting the day with birdies at Nos. 12, 13 and 16, Woods was at 5-under par. But his rough hole moved him to 1 under for the tournament. He rallied back with a 1-under 71 for the day, closing with a birdie on the par-5 second hole and another on the par-4 seventh. He is at 3-under par for the tournament through 36 holes.

“I ended up getting back to 3 (under),” Woods said. “It was a good fight to get it back to that point.”

Immediately after his round, Woods was six strokes off the lead but still feeling confident, even though the leaders had started to widen the gap.

“I just need to go out and put it together, because right now literally anybody who makes the cut has got a chance to win this tournament,” Woods said of his approach to the weekend.

–Field Level Media

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Titans releasing veteran G Kline

Titans releasing veteran G Kline

The Tennessee Titans are releasing right guard Josh Kline, one

Titans releasing veteran G Kline

The Tennessee Titans are releasing right guard Josh Kline, one year after signing him to a four-year, $26 million contract extension.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said the 29-year-old veteran declined to take a pay cut. Releasing him leaves a $3.5 million dead cap hit this season.

Kline started all 16 games last season and 46 of the Titans’ 48 games from 2016-18. He spent his first three seasons with the New England Patriots.

–Field Level Media

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