Dolphins look to keep playoff hopes alive against Bills

Dolphins look to keep playoff hopes alive against Bills

The Miami-Buffalo rivalry isn’t the biggest in the NFL, but there have been a lot of notable games between the teams. O.J. Simpson once rushed for 200 yards against the Dolphins. Dan Marino put up more than 400 yards on the Bills in a 1995 AFC wild-card playoff game.

On Sunday, the Bills (4-7) will visit the Dolphins (5-6) for the 105th game between AFC East foes and it’s an especially big game for Miami, which still has flickering postseason hopes after a 3-0 start.

Sunday’s game marks the first of two games between the teams within the next five weeks. Buffalo, which is breaking in rookie quarterback Josh Allen, has struggled as expected, losing seven of its first nine games, including a four-contest skid.

But the Bills have won two straight games entering Sunday, and Allen – who had been injured — returned last week for a win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Allen is 3-3 in his six starts, giving the Bills hope for the future. Allen did not have a high completion percentage in college, and that has continued to be the case in Buffalo (52.5 percent).

But he has just five interceptions in those six starts and none in his past two games. He also showed he could run the ball, burning the Jaguars for 99 yards on 13 carries. And, after taking seven sacks in a loss to the Green Bay Packers, Allen has gone down just three times in his past three games.

But while the strong-armed Allen, 22, is an ascending talent, his main running back, LeSean McCoy, 30, is on a downward trajectory.

McCoy, a six-time Pro Bowl player with more than 10,000 career rushing yards, is having the worst season of his career.

Since McCoy became an NFL starter in 2010, he has rushed for at least 840 yards every season. This season, though, he has just 426 yards, two scores and a 3.3 yards per carry average. He totaled 19 TDs the past two seasons and his career rushing average is 4.5.

Meanwhile, the Dolphins have lost six of their past eight games.

Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill returned last week after missing five straight games with a shoulder injury, losing 28-27 to the Indianapolis Colts.

It’s interesting to compare and contrast Tannehill and Allen.

Tannehill was the eighth player selected in 2012. Allen was chosen seventh this season.

Yet, despite the vast experience advantage, Tannehill and Allen are both 3-3 as starters this season.

Injuries have been a huge problem for the Dolphins this season.

They lost Tannehill for six games, but they have also been ravaged along the offensive line, losing starters such as center Daniel Kilgore and Pro Bowl guard Josh Sitton for the rest of the season. Kilgore’s replacement, Travis Swanson, is questionable for the Bills game, also due to injury.

The Dolphins have been hard hit at wide receiver, where Albert Wilson and Jakeem Grant – both of whom had been so dynamic – are out. Danny Amendola is questionable for Sunday due to a knee injury, and DeVante Parker is banged up once again.

Still, the Dolphins are 15-6 in their past 21 games at Hard Rock Stadium, and they are 59-44-1 in their all-time series against Buffalo.

Perhaps we’ll see one of those magical individual performances from someone this Sunday.

–Field Level Media

Report: Cowboys looking to extend Garrett’s contract

Report: Cowboys looking to extend Garrett's contract

Report: Cowboys looking to extend Garrett’s contract

Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett, whose job security was in question when the team was 3-5 at midseason, now is expected to receive a long-term contract extension, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

Garrett’s current contract runs through 2019, but his work leading the Cowboys to a 10-6 finish apparently has owner Jerry Jones ready to commit to him beyond then. Garrett is in his ninth season.

Jones gave Garrett a vote of confidence amid the team’s midseason struggles and teased a potential extension earlier this week during an interview on 105.3 The Fan.

Regardless, any talks will take place after the season ends for the Cowboys. They face the Los Angeles Rams Saturday night in a divisional-round playoff game.

Garrett is 77-59 since taking over in Dallas midway through the 2010 season, and 2-2 in the playoffs. Since going 8-8 in his first three full seasons at the helm, Garrett has led the Cowboys to three NFC East titles over the last five seasons.

The Cowboys also are expected to promote defensive backs coach Kris Richard to defensive coordinator next season. Richard was an interview candidate for multiple head coaching openings this winter.

–Field Level Media

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Cleveland officially names Kitchens as coach

Cleveland officially names Kitchens as coach

The Cleveland Browns

Cleveland officially names Kitchens as coach

The Cleveland Browns officially named Freddie Kitchens as the team’s new head coach on Saturday.

Kitchens, 44, becomes the 17th full-time head coach in franchise history. He replaces Hue Jackson, who was fired in October after compiling a 3-36-1 record in two-plus seasons.

Kitchens was featured in a short video clip on Twitter announcing the deal.

After parting ways with Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley in October, the Browns promoted Kitchens from running backs coach to offensive coordinator and named defensive coordinator Gregg Williams as interim head coach. Williams has been relieved of his duties and is no longer with the team.

His departure is one of several from the Browns’ previous coaching staff. Per multiple reports, Cleveland released several other coaches, including special teams coordinator Amos Jones, position coaches Ken Zampese (QBs), Bob Wylie (OL), Blake Williams (LBs) and Greg Seamon (TEs), and special teams assistant Josh Cribbs, a former Pro Bowl player for the Browns.

Cleveland also is working to hire former Arizona Cardinals coach Steve Wilks as defensive coordinator, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

The Browns also will have a different organizational structure, according to multiple reports. Kitchens will report to general manager John Dorsey rather than owner Jimmy Haslam, a departure from the structure for previous coaches.

The team’s confidence in Kitchens was boosted by the play of rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield under his watch. In eight games with Kitchens as OC, Mayfield threw for 2,254 yards, 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions and was sacked just five times.

A quarterback at Alabama from 1993-97, Kitchens coached in the college ranks from 1999-2005 as an assistant at Glenville State, LSU, North Texas and Mississippi State.

He broke into the NFL as tight ends coach with the Dallas Cowboys in 2006, and held the same role with the Arizona Cardinals from 2007-12. He served as Arizona’s quarterbacks coach from 2013-16 and as the Cardinals’ running backs coach in 2017.

–Field Level Media

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Fitzgerald pondering return to Cardinals

Fitzgerald pondering return to Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald pondering return to Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said he is undecided if he will retire or will play in 2019, which would be his 16th season in the NFL.

He told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that he intends to take some time to mull the decision.

Fitzgerald committed to playing the 2018 season last February, but it turned out to be a tough year in Arizona. The Cardinals finished the season with an NFL-worst 3-13 record, and head coach Steve Wilks was fired.

New head coach Kliff Kingsbury said last week that he hopes Fitzgerald, 35, will return.

“I’ll leave it to these guys who write the checks,” Kingsbury told reporters. “Like I said, what a great role model, what a great leader to have on your team, and I would be honored and love to work with him. He’s a guy that I’ve admired from afar for a long time, and I think we all hope that he’ll be back.”

The Cardinals took Fitzgerald with the No. 3 overall selection of the 2004 NFL Draft, and he’s put together a Hall of Fame career. An 11-time Pro Bowl selection, he is first among active players in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.

On the career list, he ranks second behind Jerry Rice for career yards and is third, trailing Rice and Tony Gonzalez, in career receptions. He would need 23 receptions to pass Gonzalez on the career list.

In 2018, he appeared in all 16 games and caught 69 passes for 734 yards and six touchdowns.

–Field Level Media

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NFL notebook: Monday Night Football coming to playoffs?

NFL notebook: Monday Night Football coming to playoffs?

If the Los Angeles Chargers beat the Kansas

NFL notebook: Monday Night Football coming to playoffs?

If the Los Angeles Chargers beat the Kansas City Chiefs this weekend and the Indianapolis Colts top the New England Patriots, the NFL will have a decision to make.

Will the Chargers be allowed to host the AFC Championship Game at their temporary home, the 30,000-seat Dignity Health Sports Park in suburban Carson, Calif., or will the league move the game to a stadium with larger capacity?

CBS Sports reported Friday that the NFL league office will be discussing contingency plans should the fifth-seeded Chargers and sixth-seeded Colts advance. That would give the Chargers home-field advantage in the championship game.

CBS’ Jason La Canfora reported last month that officials had discussed the potential of moving the game to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, home of the Rams. That could still be a Plan B, La Canfora said, but if the Rams host the championship game, as well, both games could not be played on Sunday. Instead, one of the conference championship games could be played on Monday night under that scenario, he said.

–The Miami Dolphins appear set to continue the AFC East’s game of musical chairs, as the team has zeroed in on New England Patriots assistant coach Brian Flores for its head-coaching vacancy, multiple outlets reported.

Flores, 37, joined the Patriots in 2004 as a scouting assistant and has been with the franchise since. This is his third season as New England’s linebackers coach and his first as the defensive play-caller. He assumed those duties after defensive coordinator Matt Patricia left to be the head coach in Detroit last offseason.

Miami fired head coach Adam Gase after three seasons following the end of the regular season. Also on Friday, another AFC East team — the New York Jets — introduced Gase as their new head coach.

–Gary Kubiak apparently will not move from the front office to the field to serve as offensive coordinator for new Denver Broncos coach Vic Fangio, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

“After lengthy discussions, Denver and Kubiak had different ideas on staffing and offensive philosophies,” Schefter tweeted. “Both sides going in different directions.”

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweeted that Denver appears to have turned its attention to Mike Munchak, the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line coach and former NFL head coach who was a finalist for the head coaching job.

–The man Fangio replaced, former Broncos head coach Vance Joseph, will serve as the Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator, the team announced.

Joseph, the first significant hire for new head coach Kliff Kingsbury, is expected to transition the Cardinals to a 3-4 defense from the 4-3 defense the team ran last season under then-coach Steve Wilks.

Also on Friday, ESPN reported that former Atlanta Falcons OC Steve Sarkisian was “closing in” on the Cardinals OC position. Sarkisian, 44, was fired after two years in Atlanta that reportedly did not meet the standard set during Kyle Shanahan’s tenure.

–Greg Roman will replace Marty Mornhinweg as offensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens.

New general manager Eric DeCosta, introduced Friday in the official changing of the guard with retiring GM Ozzie Newsome, made the announcement. Mornhinweg is expected to be offered another role on the offensive staff, and additional changes are expected.

Roman spent last season as the assistant head coach and tight ends coach in Baltimore but has experience working with run-first quarterbacks, which the Ravens have in Lamar Jackson. He was offensive coordinator of the San Francisco 49ers when the team switched in-season from Alex Smith to Colin Kaepernick. That team lost to the Ravens in the Super Bowl.

–In a technical formality, the Philadelphia Eagles officially declared quarterback Carson Wentz “out” for their Sunday divisional playoff matchup with the New Orleans Saints.

Wentz sustained a stress injury in his back on Dec. 9 against the Dallas Cowboys and has not played since — sitting out the Eagles’ final three regular-season games and their 16-15 wild-card win over the Chicago Bears last weekend.

The team has not placed Wentz on injured reserve, leading to the need to declare him inactive each week.

–Field Level Media

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Kuchar starts strong, grabs Sony Open lead

Kuchar starts strong, grabs Sony Open lead

Kuchar starts strong, grabs Sony Open lead

A hot start to the second round sent Matt Kuchar on his way to a one-shot lead at the midpoint of the Sony Open in Hawaii on Friday.

Starting on the back nine, Kuchar ran off three consecutive birdies and made it four in five holes en route to his second consecutive 7-under-par 63 at Waialae in Honolulu. He sits at 14-under 126 through two rounds, with Andrew Putnam in second at 13 under after a 65 on Friday.

“I think yesterday was a little bit cleaner, but today, I took advantage early,” Kuchar said on the Golf Channel. “The first few holes I don’t necessarily think of as birdie holes, but birdied the first three and just got off to a really good start.”

Kuchar made 116 feet of putts on the day.

“That’s certainly a helpful thing. I love when the putter’s hot,” he said. “I felt good over (the putts). The greens are beautiful. They’re in great shape. They just roll so nice, so it’s good to see some go in.”

His round ended up including six birdies, a bogey and an eagle on the par-5 18th hole, where he sank a 16-foot putt.

In November, Kuchar won the Mayakoba Golf Classic for his eighth career PGA Tour win, and he followed with two more top-20 finishes to end the calendar year. The Sony Open is his 2019 debut.

“I feel in pretty good control of what I’m doing,” he said of his current form. “Not sure a lot’s changed. I just kind of continue to evolve, continue to improve. That’s the goal out here. You never know when wins are going to come. You just hope (you’ll) always get better.”

Putnam had a bogey-free round that featured two birdies on the back nine and then three on the front nine. He concluded with a birdie on the par-5 ninth hole, slicing his deficit behind Kuchar to a single stroke.

Stewart Cink shot 8 under on Friday to leave him tied for third at 10 under with Chez Reavie, who shot 5 under in the second round.

Cink produced eight birdies and a single bogey.

“It was a great day out there. Really all facets of the game were firing,” Cink said on the Golf Channel. “I drove it well, hit a lot of good irons. I rolled in a lot of putts from the range that makes a lot of difference in your score, like 10 to 20 feet. …

“That’s kind of a hallmark of my game over my whole career is I do have a lot of putts in that range because I’m usually one of the better ball-strikers, but when you see ’em going in, the game feels a little easy.”

Ted Potter Jr. (5 under on Friday) and Australia’s Marc Leishman (6 under) are tied for fifth at 9 under. Hudson Swafford and Japan’s Shugo Imahira each had a 3-under second round, and they share seventh place at 8 under.

First-round leader Adam Svensson of Canada stumbled from a 9-under round on Thursday to a 4-over round on Friday. He is tied for 20th at 5 under.

Defending champion Patton Kizzire is also tied for 20th following an up-and-down, 2-under round on Friday. He made the turn at 2 over for the day. Following a birdie, an eagle and then back-to-back bogeys, Kizzire birdied each of his final three holes.

–Field Level Media

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Bears hire Pagano as defensive coordinator

Bears hire Pagano as defensive coordinator

After one year out

Bears hire Pagano as defensive coordinator

After one year out of the NFL coaching ranks, Chuck Pagano was hired Friday as the Chicago Bears’ new defensive coordinator.

The former Indianapolis Colts head coach takes over the role vacated when Vic Fangio was hired this week to be the head coach of the Denver Broncos.

Bears head coach Matt Nagy said in a statement, “We are excited to add Chuck to our staff as defensive coordinator. He has successful experience at many different levels in this league, and he is a great teacher with an aggressive mentality that fits our style of football. He is a man of high character and has a passion for the game that will no doubt add to the culture we have already started building at Halas Hall.”

Multiple media outlets reported that Pagano got the job over Bears defensive backs coach Ed Donatell, who also was interviewed.

Pagano, 58, posted a 53-43 regular-season record with the Colts from 2012-17. He also had a 3-3 playoff mark. Pagano missed most of the 2012 season while undergoing treatment for leukemia.

However, after producing three consecutive 11-5 seasons and three playoff berths at the start of his tenure, Pagano watched his Colts experience a pair of 8-8 years followed by a 4-12 season in 2017 that led to his firing.

Pagano spent last year working as an NFL consultant.

He inherits a Chicago defense that was one of the league’s best this season. Under Fangio, the Bears allowed the fewest points in the NFL, 17.7 per game. They finished third in total defense, allowing 299.7 yards per game, including a league-low 80 rushing yards per game.

The Bears also topped the NFL in takeaways (36) and lowest opponents’ passer rating (72.9).

Pagano’s coaching experience includes stints at the University of Southern California, Miami (Fla.), Boise State, East Carolina, UNLV and North Carolina in the 1980s and 1990s. He broke into the NFL as the Cleveland Browns’ secondary coach from 2001-04, and he was the Oakland Raiders’ defensive backs coach in 2005-06.

Pagano became the Ravens’ secondary coach from 2008-10 before serving as Baltimore’s defensive coordinator in 2011.

–Field Level Media

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Eagles QB Wentz out for Saints matchup

Eagles QB Wentz out for Saints matchup

In a technical formality Friday, the Philadelphia Eagles

Eagles QB Wentz out for Saints matchup

In a technical formality Friday, the Philadelphia Eagles officially declared quarterback Carson Wentz “out” for their Sunday divisional playoff matchup with the New Orleans Saints.

Wentz sustained a stress injury in his back on Dec. 9 against the Dallas Cowboys and has not played since — sitting out the Eagles’ final three regular-season games and their 16-15 wild-card win over the Chicago Bears last weekend.

The team has not placed Wentz on injured reserve, leading to the need to declare him inactive each week.

Nick Foles, who led the Eagles to the Super Bowl title last year as Wentz sat out the playoffs due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament, has thrived in Wentz’s absence again over the past month.

Foles led Philadelphia to wins over the Los Angeles Rams, the Houston Texans and the Washington Redskins to close out the regular season and lift the team into the playoffs at 9-7. He then guided the Eagles on the winning drive Sunday at Chicago, hitting Golden Tate for a 2-yard touchdown with 56 seconds left.

The Eagles hung on for the win when they tipped the Bears’ last-second field goal attempt and the ball hit an upright and the crossbar before bouncing back onto the field of play.

In 11 games this season, Wentz completed 69.6 percent of his passes for 3,074 yards and 21 touchdowns with seven interceptions.

Philadelphia listed six injured players as questionable for the game at New Orleans: defensive end Michael Bennett (foot), wide receiver Shelton Gibson (hamstring), wide receiver Mike Wallace (ankle), linebacker D.J. Alexander (hamstring), left tackle Jason Peters (quadriceps) and cornerback Sidney Jones (hamstring).

–Field Level Media

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Report: Kubiak will not join new Denver staff

Report: Kubiak will not join new Denver staff

Gary

Report: Kubiak will not join new Denver staff

Gary Kubiak apparently will not move from the front office to the field to serve as offensive coordinator for new coach Vic Fangio.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Friday afternoon that Kubiak will not work on Fangio’s staff.

“After lengthy discussions, Denver and Kubiak had different ideas on staffing and offensive philosophies,” Schefter tweeted. “Both sides going in different directions.”

When Fangio was hired Wednesday, it was widely reported that Kubiak, who was head coach when the Broncos won the Super Bowl in 2016, would assume the role. Fangio declined to confirm that at his introductory news conference Thursday.

Kubiak stepped down as Denver coach after the 2016 season, citing health reasons, and was elevated to a personnel role.

NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport tweeted that Denver appears to have turned its attention to Mike Munchak, the Pittsburgh offensive line coach and former NFL head coach who was a finalist for the head coaching job.

“OL coach Mike Munchak is among the best at what he does, and Denver had him in the final 2 for their HC interviews. Possibly adding both Munchak and Vic Fangio would be quite a coup for the #Broncos,” he wrote.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Dolphins zero in on Pats’ Flores for HC

Report: Dolphins zero in on Pats' Flores for HC

The Miami Dolphins appear

Report: Dolphins zero in on Pats’ Flores for HC

The Miami Dolphins appear set to continue the AFC East’s game of musical chairs, as the team has zeroed in on New England assistant Brian Flores for its head-coaching vacancy, multiple outlets reported Friday.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweeted the Dolphins “have narrowed the focus of their search to #Patriots defensive play-caller Brian Flores as their new head coach. No deal yet, nothing official. But that’s their target.”

But The MMQB’s Albert Breer took it a step further, stating, “The Dolphins are expected to hire Patriots LBs coach Brian Flores as head coach after New England’s season ends.”

Flores, 37, joined the Patriots in 2004 as a scouting assistant and has been with the franchise since. This is his third season as New England’s linebackers coach and his first as the defensive play-caller. He assumed those duties after defensive coordinator Matt Patricia left to be the head coach in Detroit last offseason.

The Patriots (11-5) host the Los Angeles Chargers this Sunday in the divisional round of the AFC playoffs. The Patriots rank 21st in the NFL in yards allowed in the regular season, up from 29th last season. And while the team gave up 29 more points than last season, it still ranked seventh in the league.

Miami fired head coach Adam Gase after three seasons following the end of the regular season. Also on Friday, another AFC East team — the New York Jets — introduced Gase as their new head coach.

–Field Level Media

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Cardinals hire ex-Broncos coach Joseph as DC

Cardinals hire ex-Broncos coach Joseph as DC

Former Denver Broncos head coach Vance Joseph will

Cardinals hire ex-Broncos coach Joseph as DC

Former Denver Broncos head coach Vance Joseph will serve as the Arizona Cardinals’ defensive coordinator, the team announced Friday.

Joseph, the first significant hire for new coach Kliff Kingsbury, is expected to transition the Cardinals to a 3-4 defense from the 4-3 defense the team ran last season under then-coach Steve Wilks.

It had been speculated the Cardinals would follow the Los Angeles Rams’ lead of pairing a young, offensive-minded head coach with a coordinator with head coaching experience, as the Rams did with Sean McVay and Wade Phillips.

And that’s just what they got with Joseph, 46, who compiled an 11-21 record in two seasons with the Broncos. He had extensive experience as a defensive backs coach before the Miami Dolphins named him defensive coordinator in 2016.

The Cardinals also announced the return of former defensive coordinator Bill Davis (2009-10), who will coach the linebackers. He held that position the past two seasons at Ohio State, but new head coach Ryan Day chose not to retain him.

In addition, the Cardinals said special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers will stay in that position under Kingsbury.

–Field Level Media

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Ravens name Roman offensive coordinator

Ravens name Roman offensive coordinator

Ravens name Roman offensive coordinator

Greg Roman will replace Marty Mornhinweg as offensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens.

New general manager Eric DeCosta, introduced Friday in the official changing of the guard with retiring GM Ozzie Newsome, made the announcement. Mornhinweg is expected to be offered another role on the offensive staff, and additional changes are expected.

Roman’s star pupil will be Lamar Jackson. Jackson guided the Ravens to the playoffs after displacing Joe Flacco as Baltimore’s starter.

Roman spent last season as the assistant head coach and tight ends coach in Baltimore.

Roman has worked with run-first quarterbacks in the past. He was offensive coordinator of the San Francisco 49ers when the team switched in-season from Alex Smith to Colin Kaepernick. That team lost to the Ravens in the Super Bowl.

Roman also was offensive coordinator of the Buffalo Bills, who made Tyrod Taylor a starting quarterback under Roman’s direction.

–Field Level Media

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Svensson shoots career-low 61 to lead Sony Open

Svensson shoots career-low 61 to lead Sony Open

Svensson shoots career-low 61 to lead Sony Open

Canada’s Adam Svensson shot a career-best round of 9-under-par 61 on Thursday to claim the lead after the first round of the Sony Open in Hawaii.

Svensson, 25, put his second shot on the par-5 18th hole in the rough to the right of the green, but he was able to get up and down for birdie to move out of a tie for the lead with American Andrew Putnam. The 61 marked Svensson’s lowest career round on the PGA or Web.com Tours.

The Surrey, British Columbia, native turned pro in 2015 and is ranked 444th in the world. Svensson finished eighth in the Web.com Tour Championship, but he failed to finish better than a tie for 39th in five PGA events in the fall swing, including missing the cut in his final three.

The scoring on the short, par-70 Waialae Country Club course in Honolulu was particularly low in the afternoon wave when the winds died down, and Svensson will have plenty of challengers over the final three rounds.

Matt Kuchar is in solo third place after a 7-under 63 on Thursday, tying the lowest opening round of the 40-year-old’s career.

“I feel like I’ve just evolved into a better player,” Kuchar said. “This course is unique, we don’t play many like it. Reminds me a little bit of Hilton Head, a little bit of Colonial. It’s tight, it’s narrow, it’s flat, but man, it’s tricky.”

Fellow Americans Chez Reavie and Hudson Swafford along with Japan’s Shugo Imahira are tied for fourth place at 5 under.

Patton Kizzire and Justin Thomas, the past two event champions, are both at 3 under after posting 67s on Thursday. Thomas has now shot 68 or lower in nine consecutive rounds at Waialae.

Jordan Spieth, making his 2019 debut after failing to qualify for last week’s Tournament of Champions, struggled to a 3-over 73 and will need a strong Friday to avoid missing his second consecutive cut. Spieth made just 33 feet of putts while carding a lone birdie against four bogeys.

“It was kind of a test, I guess,” Spieth told reporters after the round. “It’s very unusual, I don’t feel like I’ve been in this situation before. But it’s OK … I felt like I was patient out there, and I still am.

“Like I said, it could take a while. I got pretty far off (my game), so I’m trying to backtrack significantly, but I need to get some tournament rounds to do it … even though it’s pretty humbling at the same time.”

He is tied with Australia’s Adam Scott, who is also making his 2019 debut.

By comparison, Putnam made 174 feet of putts, gaining 6.844 strokes on the field on the greens, according to PGATour.com.

“The putter was hot … it was getting a little ridiculous out there,” Putnam said. “The hole was very large and the ball was going in. It was fun.”

Peter Jung, the 16-year-old amateur who qualified for his first PGA Tour event by winning the Hawaiian qualifier, is last in the field by eight strokes after struggling to a 14-over 84.

–Field Level Media

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Panthers S Reid’s lawyers reject report findings, request info

Panthers S Reid's lawyers reject report findings, request info

Panthers S Reid’s lawyers reject report findings, request info

The legal team for Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid rejected the findings in a report released Wednesday by NFL/NFLPA that there was no evidence he was targeted for drug testing and are demanding a response on the matter, according to a report by CBSsports.com.

In a letter to the NFL and NFLPA, Reid’s legal team also requested more information as to how these findings were made, as well as a public correction of several dates the NFL used in its report that Reid’s team says are incorrect. The lawyers have asked for access to all evidence, records, electronic messages and information sources used to determine the report’s findings.

On Wednesday, the league and union released the results of its joint investigation into Reid’s claim that he was targeted by the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug testing program. Reid, a close friend and supporter of former teammate of Colin Kaepernick, believes he was being tested more than normal.

After the Panthers’ game on Dec. 17, Reid said he’d undergone his seventh drug test since joining the team as a free agent in September. He suggested the tests weren’t random and that he was tested repeatedly because of a collusion grievance he’d filed against the league.

A joint statement Wednesday from the NFL and players association said their investigation showed no evidence of his claims: “Mr. Reid’s tests were randomly generated via computer algorithm and that his selection for testing was normal when compared with the number of tests players were randomly selected for throughout the league during the time that he was on an active roster. There is no evidence of targeting or any other impropriety with respect to his selection for testing.”

Based on the collective bargaining agreement, drug testing is conducted by an independent laboratory — without the NFL or NFLPA’s involvement — with players’ names chosen at random by a computer.

Reid also said he has never failed a test. Failed tests warrant more frequent testing tied to tiered penalties for further failed tests.

The San Francisco 49ers selected Reid with the No. 18 overall pick of the 2013 NFL Draft. Reid, 27, became the first player to join Kaepernick in kneeling during the national anthem to protest social injustice.

The NFLPA filed a collusion grievance on Reid’s behalf in May alleging that NFL owners colluded to keep Reid from being signed, in response to his protests during the national anthem.

Reid, a 2013 Pro Bowler, was an unrestricted free agent from March until Sept. 28, when the Panthers signed him after an injury to Da’Norris Searcy. Reid has not dropped the grievance, which is expected to be heard during the offseason.

–Field Level Media

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NFL notebook: Bengals hope to hire Rams QB coach Taylor

NFL notebook: Bengals hope to hire Rams QB coach Taylor

The Cincinnati Bengals would

NFL notebook: Bengals hope to hire Rams QB coach Taylor

The Cincinnati Bengals would like to hire Los Angeles Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor to be their next head coach, multiple media outlets reported Thursday.

No team can hire Taylor until the Rams’ season is over, but Taylor reportedly is the Bengals’ top choice. ESPN reported that Taylor also wants to be in Cincinnati, where he coached as the Cincinnati Bearcats’ offensive coordinator in 2016.

Taylor, 35, would become the second-youngest active head coach in the NFL, behind only his current boss, Rams head coach Sean McVay, who turns 33 on Jan. 24. He interviewed for the Denver Broncos’ and Arizona Cardinals’ head-coaching vacancies before those teams hired Vic Fangio and Kliff Kingsbury, respectively.

A former Nebraska quarterback, Taylor is in his first year as QBs coach with the Rams after spending 2017 as assistant wide receivers coach.

–Pittsburgh Steelers president Art Rooney II cast serious doubt about the future of wide receiver Antonio Brown with the team, in an interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

“As we sit here today, it’s hard to envision that,” Rooney said when asked if Brown would be with the Steelers when they open training camp in July. “But there’s no sense on closing the door on anything today.”

–Arizona interviewed Steve Sarkisian for their offensive coordinator vacancy and Joseph for their defensive coordinator vacancy, according to ESPN.

Sirius XM NFL reported that Sarkisian, who was fired last week after two seasons with Atlanta, and former Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett are also contenders for the coordinator vacancy in Detroit.

Multiple outlets also reported that former New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo would interview for a job on head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s staff.

–The Cleveland Browns have yet to officially announce Freddie Kitchens as their new head coach, but they are moving to fill out his staff.

NFL Network reported that former Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter and former Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Todd Monken will interview for the same position in Cleveland. ESPN reported that Vance Joseph, the ex-Denver Broncos head coach, will interview for the defensive vacancy.

–The Broncos agreed to terms with longtime defensive coordinator Vic Fangio to become the 17th head coach in franchise history, general manager John Elway announced. Fangio, boasting 32 years of NFL coaching experience, succeeds Joseph for his first stint as an NFL head coach.

“Vic really impressed us with his attention to detail — his focus is on teaching the fundamentals, technique and playing disciplined football,” Elway said.

Former Houston Texans and Broncos coach Gary Kubiak will come down from the Denver front office to oversee the offense of the Broncos.

–The New York Jets’ hiring of Adam Gase as head coach has received a major vote of approval from at least one important voice on the team — starting quarterback Sam Darnold.

“It was a tough decision, but I think Gase and the things he’s able to do, the way he’s able to lead, I think is the best thing for our team,” Darnold told ESPN during a phone interview on Thursday.

“I’m really, really excited about this opportunity and all the things Adam can bring this team,” said Darnold, who spoke with Gase on FaceTime for 10 minutes on Monday. “For us, it’s about winning. How do you do that? You score more points than the other team.”

–Running back Leonard Fournette met with Jacksonville vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin and the rest of the team’s brass to clear the air, NFL Network reported. The meeting apparently went well on both sides, and Fournette should be part of the team’s 2019 plans.

Fournette and fellow running back T.J. Yeldon drew Coughlin’s ire for sitting on the team’s bench for the duration of the season finale, prompting Coughlin to say both players were “disrespectful, selfish and their behavior was unbecoming that of a professional football player.”

–The legal team for Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid rejected the findings in a report released Wednesday by NFL/NFLPA that there was no evidence he was targeted for drug testing and are demanding a response on the matter, according to a report by CBSsports.com.

–Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Ryan Grant has been ruled out of Saturday’s divisional playoff game at Kansas City due to a toe injury. Safety Malik Hooker was also listed as questionable with a foot injury.

–Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Cole Beasley and tight end Blake Jarwin missed practice again with ankle injuries and are listed as questionable for Saturday’s divisional playoff game against the Rams.

–Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry (heel), wideout Sammy Watkins (foot) and running back Spencer Ware (hamstring) are all questionable for Saturday’s playoff game against Indianapolis.

–Cleveland announced that guard Joel Bitonio has been added to the 2019 AFC Pro Bowl roster, replacing injured Steelers guard David DeCastro.

–The Jets are considering three former head coaches to fill their defensive coordinator position under Gase, according to multiple reports. The list includes Gregg Williams, who was let go by Cleveland earlier this week.

NFL.com reported that Joseph is also under consideration, and CBSSports.com reported that former Indianapolis coach Chuck Pagano is on the list.

–Field Level Media

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Reports: Browns interview OC Cooter, DC Joseph

Reports: Browns interview OC Cooter, DC Joseph

The Cleveland Browns have yet to officially announce

Reports: Browns interview OC Cooter, DC Joseph

The Cleveland Browns have yet to officially announce Freddie Kitchens as their new head coach, but they are taking steps to fill out his staff.

NFL Network reports former Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter will interview for the same position in, and ESPN reports former Denver Broncos head coach Vance Joseph will interview for the defensive vacancy.

ESPN’s report added that Joseph interviewed for the same position with the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday.

The Lions chose not to renew Cooter’s contract last week, ending his three-plus-year tenure as the team’s coordinator. After joining Detroit as a quarterbacks coach in 2014, Cooter was promoted to interim offensive coordinator midway through 2015.

He helped Matthew Stafford have a career season in 2017, as the Lions finished seventh in points and 13th in yards that season. However, Detroit finished 25th in points and 24th in yards in 2018, more in line with its rankings in 2015 and 2016.

Joseph was fired by the Broncos last week after two seasons. He is considered a contender for the Cincinnati Bengals’ head-coaching job and the New York Jets’ coordinator job. He worked previously in Cincinnati and has familiarity with new Jets head coach Adam Gase after they worked together in Miami.

News broke Wednesday that Kitchens would be the Browns’ next head coach, but the team has yet to make it official. Kitchens is expected to keep his offense and call his own plays after quarterback Baker Mayfield thrived following Kitchens’ promotion to offensive coordinator midseason.

The team moved on from interim head coach and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who released a statement Wednesday thanking Browns fans for their support.

–Field Level Media

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Reports: Browns interview Cooter, Monken, Joseph

Reports: Browns interview Cooter, Monken, Joseph

The Cleveland Browns have yet to officially announce Freddie

Reports: Browns interview Cooter, Monken, Joseph

The Cleveland Browns have yet to officially announce Freddie Kitchens as their new head coach, but they are taking steps to fill out his staff.

NFL Network reports former Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter and former Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Todd Monken will interview for the same position in Cleveland.

ESPN reports former Denver Broncos head coach Vance Joseph will interview for the Browns’ defensive vacancy, adding that Joseph interviewed for the same position with the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday.

The Lions chose not to renew Cooter’s contract last week, ending his three-plus-year tenure as the team’s coordinator. After joining Detroit as a quarterbacks coach in 2014, Cooter was promoted to interim offensive coordinator midway through 2015.

He helped Matthew Stafford have a career season in 2017, as the Lions finished seventh in points and 13th in yards that season. However, Detroit finished 25th in points and 24th in yards in 2018, more in line with its rankings in 2015 and 2016.

Monken interviewed for head-coaching vacancies with the New York Jets — who hired Adam Gase — and the Cincinnati Bengals, who reportedly hope to hire Los Angeles Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor for the job.

Monken helped the Bucs’ offense finish third in yards and 12th in points this season, but he won’t return to Tampa after the team hired Bruce Arians, whose offensive coordinator will be Byron Leftwich.

Joseph was fired by the Broncos last week after two seasons. He was considered a contender for the Bengals’ head-coaching job, and could still be in the mix for the Jets’ coordinator job. He worked previously in Cincinnati and has familiarity with Gase after they worked together in Miami.

News broke Wednesday that Kitchens would be the Browns’ next head coach, but the team has yet to make it official. Kitchens is expected to keep his offense and call his own plays after quarterback Baker Mayfield thrived following Kitchens’ promotion to offensive coordinator midseason.

The team moved on from interim head coach and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who released a statement Wednesday thanking Browns fans for their support.

–Field Level Media

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Reports: Sarkisian, Joseph interview with Cardinals

Reports: Sarkisian, Joseph interview with Cardinals

The

Reports: Sarkisian, Joseph interview with Cardinals

The Arizona Cardinals interviewed Steve Sarkisian for their offensive-coordinator vacancy and Vance Joseph for their defensive-coordinator vacancy on Thursday, according to various ESPN reports.

New Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury is expected to call plays and run his own offense in Arizona, but the team appears set on hiring an offensive coordinator to assist him.

Sarkisian, who was fired last week after two seasons leading the Atlanta Falcons’ offense, had spent all but one year of his coaching career in college prior to 2017, the lone exception being a stint as the Oakland Raiders quarterbacks coach in 2004. Atlanta finished 11th in points and seventh in yards in 2017 before slipping to 17th in both categories this season.

Sirius XM NFL reports Sarkisian and former Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett are contenders for the coordinator vacancy in Detroit.

Meanwhile, Joseph is considered a contender for the Cincinnati Bengals’ head-coaching job and the New York Jets’ coordinator job, after being fired by the Denver Broncos last week. He worked previously in Cincinnati and has familiarity with new Jets head coach Adam Gase after they worked together in Miami.

An ESPN report Wednesday added that Joseph will interview next with the Cleveland Browns’ for their defensive opening.

Cardinals general manager Steve Keim said at Wednesday’s news conference that the Cardinals will move back to a 3-4 defensive scheme after shifting to a 4-3 during Steve Wilks’ one season as head coach.

Joseph’s Broncos ran a 3-4 scheme that was carried over from Wade Phillips in previous seasons, but Joseph’s defenses in Miami and Cincinnati were 4-3 based.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Panthers sticking with Washington as DC

Report: Panthers sticking with Washington as DC

The Carolina Panthers will reportedly retain Eric Washington as defensive

Report: Panthers sticking with Washington as DC

The Carolina Panthers will reportedly retain Eric Washington as defensive coordinator, although head coach Ron Rivera will continue to call the defensive plays in 2019.

There was some speculation about Washington’s job status this week as the team held interviews with former Indianapolis head coach Chuck Pagano and former Jacksonville defensive backs coach Perry Fewell.

However, those interviews were not for the role of defensive coordinator, according to The Charlotte Observer. The Panthers are trying to hire a new secondary/cornerbacks coach, the newspaper reported on Thursday, citing league sources.

The Panthers played the final four games of 2018 with Washington as the DC and “front seven” coach, with Rivera calling the defensive plays.

–Field Level Media

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Browns G Bitonio replacing DeCastro in Pro Bowl

Browns G Bitonio replacing DeCastro in Pro Bowl

The Cleveland

Browns G Bitonio replacing DeCastro in Pro Bowl

The Cleveland Browns announced Thursday that guard Joel Bitonio has been added to the 2019 AFC Pro Bowl roster, replacing injured Pittsburgh Steelers guard David DeCastro. Bitonio, initially named a first-team alternate, joins defensive end Myles Garrett and rookie cornerback Denzel Ward as Browns representatives.

“I am so honored to be able to represent the city of Cleveland and all the great Browns fans at the Pro Bowl,” Bitonio said in a press release. “It’s good to be recognized by the players, coaches and fans for your hard work. What’s really cool, though, is that I can share this honor with Myles and Denzel, but I wish all our offensive linemen could come, too, because it’s a group effort.”

Bitonio’s Pro Bowl selection marks the first in his five-year NFL career. The 27-year-old team captain is currently the longest-tenured team member. In 2018, he started all 16 games at left guard and did not miss an offensive snap for the second consecutive season. Bitonio was voted a second-team Associated Press All-Pro selection.

The 2019 Pro Bowl is set for Jan. 27 in Orlando, Fla.

–Field Level Media

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Giants’ Vernon replaces Bears’ Mack in Pro Bowl

Giants' Vernon replaces Bears' Mack in Pro Bowl

Giants’ Vernon replaces Bears’ Mack in Pro Bowl

New York Giants outside linebacker Olivier Vernon is headed to his first Pro Bowl as an injury replacement for Chicago Bears linebacker Khalil Mack.

Mack was not listed on any Bears injury reports after Week 10, but he dealt with an ankle issue during the season and will now pass on the game in Orlando.

Vernon missed five games to injury had just seven sacks this season, which tied for 21st in the NFC, but only six players topped his 21 QB hits. He also chipped in 30 tackles (five for loss).

Vernon, 28, has 22 sacks and 56 QB hits in three years with the Giants, whom he joined on a five-year, $85 million deal as a free agent in 2016. He has 51 sacks and 130 QB hits in his seven-year career, including his first four seasons with the Miami Dolphins.

A native of Miami who attended the University of Miami, Vernon was selected by his hometown team in the third round of the 2012 draft.

Mack, 27, was acquired by the Bears from the Oakland Raiders in an early-September trade. In 14 games (13 starts) for Chicago, he had 12.5 sacks, six forced fumbles and an interception that he returned for a touchdown.

The Pro Bowl will be held Jan. 27.

–Field Level Media

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