Doubt in Dallas: Who will replace Witten, Dez?

Doubt in Dallas: Who will replace Witten, Dez?

Dallas Cowboys: Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy, promoting his new children’s book in Dallas, had much to say about the Cowboys heading into the season. He has real worries in one area. “Behind Ezekiel Elliott and that offensive line, there are a lot of things to like about Dallas. My concern for the Cowboys is, who is going to replace Jason Witten? Who is going to replace Dez Bryant? Their defense looks to be very solid, but the concern I think you’d have to have for the Cowboys is their young group of receivers. They lost a lot in those two guys and replacing them isn’t going to be easy to fill that void.”

New York Giants: Drafted as the heir apparent to quarterback Eli Manning, Davis Webb heard late last week he might be traded. Unable to make a trade, the Giants released Webb over the weekend and he awaits his next NFL chance on the practice squad of the New York Jets. Webb addressed the situation with reporters. “They made a decision,” Webb said. “I didn’t agree with it. Not many people did, especially my teammates. At the same time, I’ve moved on. I wish them nothing but the best.”

Philadelphia Eagles: On the eve of the season opener for the Super Bowl champion Eagles, Bud Light unveiled a 9-foot statue outside Lincoln Financial Field. It depicts head coach Doug Pederson at the moment quarterback Nick Foles asked in Super Bowl LII, “You want Philly, Philly?” That was the gutsy reverse pass call that went for a touchdown on fourth and goal to increase the Philadelphia lead to 22-12 over New England. Foles will start the season opener in place of Carson Wentz, who is recovering from a knee injury suffered last December.

Washington Redskins: The Redskins released their unofficial depth chart on Wednesday. The defensive line is filled with youngsters, thanks to the back-to-back draft picks at the position in the first round: Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne. The only member of the group older than age 25 is 31-year-old Ziggy Hood

“I mean, I think it’s a good thing that everybody can grow together but I also think it’s good because they have a guy like Ziggy Hood in the room,” Caleb Brantley 24, said. “I can go to him and ask him about stuff that I might be having trouble with in my career or that I might necessarily don’t now how to do, so he’s been there and he’s a vet and so it’s cool to learn from him.”

–Field Level Media

Saints place Bryant on injured reserve, promote Kirkwood

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Dez Bryant's season is over before it had even begun.

The New Orleans Saints placed the newly acquired Bryant on injured reserve Saturday, promoting receiver Keith Kirkwood from the practice squad to the active roster before Sunday's game at Cincinnati.

Bryant was injured during his second practice with New

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Dez Bryant’s season is over before it had even begun.

The New Orleans Saints placed the newly acquired Bryant on injured reserve Saturday, promoting receiver Keith Kirkwood from the practice squad to the active roster before Sunday’s game at Cincinnati.

Bryant was injured during his second practice with New Orleans on Friday. A person familiar with the situation says Bryant has a torn Achilles tendon. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Saturday because the Saints have not announced details of the veteran receiver’s injury.

The 30-year-old Bryant became a free agent in April after eight seasons with Dallas. He’d been looking for a new team until signing with New Orleans on Wednesday.

The 6-foot-3 Kirkwood is a 24-year-old undrafted rookie out of Temple.

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AP Source: Bryant has torn Achilles

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A person familiar with the situation says medical examinations and imaging have confirmed that Saints receiver Dez Bryant has a torn Achilles, ending his season before it had begun.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Saturday because the Saints have not announced details of

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A person familiar with the situation says medical examinations and imaging have confirmed that Saints receiver Dez Bryant has a torn Achilles, ending his season before it had begun.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Saturday because the Saints have not announced details of the veteran receiver’s medical exam or updated Friday’s injury report. Bryant was listed as questionable for Sunday’s game in Cincinnati with an ankle injury. But the receiver made it clear on social media that he’d had a significant setback, calling his path to recovery the “ultimate test.”

Bryant became a free agent in April after eight seasons with Dallas. He’d been looking for a new team until signing with New Orleans on Wednesday. He was injured during just his second practice.

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NFL notebook: Saints WR Bryant reportedly hurts Achilles

NFL notebook: Saints WR Bryant reportedly hurts Achilles

New Orleans Saints receiver Dez

NFL notebook: Saints WR Bryant reportedly hurts Achilles

New Orleans Saints receiver Dez Bryant is being evaluated for a possible torn Achilles tendon, multiple outlets reported Friday.

Bryant, who joined the Saints earlier this week, reportedly suffered the injury on the final play of practice. Bryant was helped off the field and scheduled to undergo an MRI exam. An Achilles injury would be season-ending.

Bryant, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, agreed to a one-year, $600,000 contract on Wednesday and was participating in his second practice when he was injured.

A serious injury to Bryant, 30, could lead to the Saints taking a second look at veteran Brandon Marshall, who also worked out for the team this week.

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

Fournette was cleared for his first game action in six weeks after making it through a full week of practice with no setbacks to his chronic hamstring injury. He was not listed on the team’s injury report for Sunday’s game. Quarterback Blake Bortles (left shoulder) also participated in practice and is cleared to play.

Fournette has not played since Week 4 because of the injury and has appeared in only two games this season. The 3-5 Jaguars are on a four-game losing streak.

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

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

Bell must report by Tuesday or will become ineligible to play this season. Bell’s holding out after the Steelers failed to meet his contract demands, sacrificing more than $8 million in salary during the ongoing stalemate.

–Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is undergoing tests on his hip to determine whether he will be healthy enough to start in Week 11, multiple outlets reported.

Flacco was injured on the first series of Baltimore’s 23-16 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 9. Flacco remained in the game despite showing visible discomfort on the sideline.

NFL Network reported Flacco has been on crutches and is dealing with significant pain. The Ravens are currently on their bye week, but Flacco’s availability could be in doubt for Week 11 against Cincinnati. That could lead to rookie Lamar Jackson making his first career start.

–The New York Jets know who will start at quarterback on Sunday when they host the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium. The Bills aren’t so sure.

The Buffalo News reported that Matt Barkley, signed as a free agent 10 days ago, could start over turnover-prone Nathan Peterman and rookie Josh Allen, who is coming off an elbow injury. Allen is listed as questionable and Derek Anderson still is feeling the effects of a concussion suffered Oct. 29 against New England.

For the Jets, 39-year-old Josh McCown will start. Rookie quarterback Sam Darnold (foot) was listed as doubtful Friday for the game. He did not practice during the week and head coach Todd Bowles said Thursday that Davis Webb will be signed from the practice squad to back up McCown if Darnold cannot.

–Former Jets quarterback Christian Hackenberg has signed to play in the upstart Alliance of American Football.

The league, which starts its first season in February, included Hackenberg on a list of new players. A product of Penn State, Hackenberg was taken by the Jets in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft, but he never played a down in two seasons in New York.

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

Byard’s celebration occurred after he intercepted a pass during Monday night’s 28-14 victory over the Cowboys. Byard raced from the end zone to midfield after the first-quarter play. Several of his teammates joined him.

“I made the play, and I ran straight to the 50-yard line,” Byard told reporters after the game. “It was kind of off the wall a little bit.” Titans coach Mike Vrabel wasn’t too thrilled with Byard’s antics.

–The Los Angeles Rams called off practice in Thousand Oaks, Calif., due to devastating wildfires in the region that have caused mass evacuations, property damage and led to road closures that would affect several people within the organization.

Los Angeles County Fire officials announced early Friday that the 101 Freeway was closed and that one of the fires had torched some 8,000 acres and with zero containment. That fire began Thursday afternoon and had jumped the freeway just 12 minutes later.

The Rams (8-1) are still scheduled to play host to the Seattle Seahawks (4-4) on Sunday at the Los Angeles Coliseum.

–Field Level Media

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Reports: Ravens QB Flacco battling hip injury

Reports: Ravens QB Flacco battling hip injury

Baltimore Ravens quarterback

Reports: Ravens QB Flacco battling hip injury

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is undergoing tests on his hip to determine whether he will be healthy enough to start in Week 11, multiple outlets reported Friday.

Flacco was injured on the first series of Baltimore’s 23-16 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 9, the Ravens’ third consecutive loss and fourth in the last five games. Flacco remained in the game despite showing visible discomfort on the sidelines throughout.

NFL Network reported Flacco has been on crutches and is dealing with significant pain.

The Ravens are currently on their bye week, but Flacco’s availability could be in doubt for Week 11 against Cincinnati. That could lead to rookie Lamar Jackson making his first career start. The Ravens also have former Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III as an option, if they believe Jackson is not ready.

Flacco, 33, has started Baltimore’s last 41 games and has missed just six games in his NFL career, when he tore his anterior cruciate ligament in 2015.

This season, Flacco has thrown for 2,465 yards with 12 touchdown passes and six interceptions.

–Field Level Media

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QB carousel continues for Bills, Jets

QB carousel continues for Bills, Jets

The New York

QB carousel continues for Bills, Jets

The New York Jets know who will start at quarterback on Sunday when they host the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium.

The Bills aren’t so sure.

The Buffalo News reported Friday that Matt Barkley, signed as a free agent 10 days ago, could get the call over turnover-prone Nathan Peterman and rookie Josh Allen, who is coming off an elbow injury.

He put in significant work with the first team this week. Allen is listed as questionable and Derek Anderson still is feeling the effects of a concussion suffered Oct. 29 against New England.

On Friday, head coach Sean McDermott did not name a starter.

“I haven’t been told anything,” Barkley said, per The Buffalo News. He added, “All of us are preparing like we can play.”

Peterman threw three interceptions last Sunday in a loss to Chicago, giving him seven on the season and just one touchdown pass. In his two-year career, 12 of his 130 attempted passes have been picked off.

The 28-year-old Barkley, a fourth-round draft pick by Philadelphia in 2013, hasn’t appeared in a game since 2016, when he played for Chicago.

For the Jets, 39-year-old Josh McCown will start.

Rookie quarterback Sam Darnold (foot) was listed as doubtful Friday for the game. He did not practice during the week and head coach Todd Bowles said Thursday that Davis Webb will be signed from the practice squad to back up McCown if Darnold cannot.

This will be McCown’s first start of the 2018 season.

–Field Level Media

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Reports: Saints WR Bryant suffers Achilles injury

Reports: Saints WR Bryant suffers Achilles injury

New Orleans Saints receiver Dez Bryant is being

Reports: Saints WR Bryant suffers Achilles injury

New Orleans Saints receiver Dez Bryant is being evaluated for a possible torn Achilles tendon, multiple outlets reported Friday.

Bryant, who joined the Saints earlier this week, reportedly suffered the injury on the final play of practice.

Bryant was helped off the field and slated to undergo an MRI exam.

Bryant agreed to a one-year, $600,000 contract on Wednesday and was participating in his second practice when he was injured.

Earlier Friday, coach Sean Payton told reporters that Bryant was learning the offense.

“Just getting him up to speed as quickly as possible,” Payton said.

A serious injury to Bryant, 30, could lead to the Saints taking a second look at veteran Brandon Marshall, who also worked out for the team this week.

Bryant, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, was optimistic about joining the Saints after experiencing an acrimonious split with the Dallas Cowboys earlier this year. He was unable to land a new gig prior to the season or during the first half of the campaign.

“That chapter’s closed, that’s something I had to accept. I accepted that and moved on,” Bryant told reporters on Thursday. “I’m here with the New Orleans Saints. I’m a (member of the) Saints now, I’m excited about that and I’m looking forward to moving on with these guys.”

–Field Level Media

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Upstart league signs ex-Jets QB Hackenberg

Upstart league signs ex-Jets QB Hackenberg

Former New York

Upstart league signs ex-Jets QB Hackenberg

Former New York Jets quarterback Christian Hackenberg has signed to play in the upstart Alliance of American Football.

The league, which starts its first season in February, included Hackenberg on a list of new players on Friday.

A product of Penn State, Hackenberg was taken by the Jets in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft, but he never played a down in two seasons in New York.

The Jets traded Hackenberg, 23, to the Oakland Raiders in the offseason, but he didn’t make the roster. He spent the preseason with Philadelphia, then wound up on the Cincinnati practice squad. The Bengals cut him on Monday and replaced him with former Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook.

The AAF will begin play in February and will have teams in Atlanta, Birmingham, Memphis, Orlando, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, San Antonio and San Diego. Hackenberg will learn where he will play on Nov. 27 when the league holds a quarterback draft at Esports Arena Las Vegas at The Luxor.

–Field Level Media

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7 Seahawks questionable to play against Rams

RENTON, Wash. (AP) — Safety Bradley McDougald, running back Chris Carson and right guard D.J. Fluker headlined a list of seven Seahawks players listed as questionable to play Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams.

McDougald (knee), Carson (hip) and Fluker (calf) each were forced out of last week's game against the Los Angeles

RENTON, Wash. (AP) — Safety Bradley McDougald, running back Chris Carson and right guard D.J. Fluker headlined a list of seven Seahawks players listed as questionable to play Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams.

McDougald (knee), Carson (hip) and Fluker (calf) each were forced out of last week’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers due to their injuries. Only McDougald was able to get any practice work in this week for the team as he was limited in Friday’s workouts.

All three are expected to be game-time decisions.

Delano Hill, a third-round pick in 2017, would make his first career start in place of McDougald if he is unable to play. It would leave the Seahawks with a starting secondary consisting entirely of players in their first or second year in the NFL against one of the league’s most explosive offenses.

“He had a good week,” head coach Pete Carroll said of Hill. “These are two really good weeks. I mentioned it to you at the end of last week, too, that he had really stepped up in the preparation, he got a lot of work.”

Mike Davis is set to go in place of Carson with first-round pick Rashaad Penny and C.J. Prosise available as well. Carroll wouldn’t say who would start in place of Fluker, but Ethan Pocic would be the most likely option.

Linebacker K.J. Wright (knee), defensive tackles Shamar Stephen (foot) and Nazair Jones (illness) and guard Jordan Simmons (calf) are also listed as questionable.

Carroll indicated that Wright and Jones should be able to play. Stephen had been away from the team this week getting treatment on his injured foot but has told the team he expects to be able to play as well.

Cornerback Neiko Thorpe is doubtful to play due to a groin injury. It would be the third straight game he’s missed due to injury.

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Lions rule out Slay, Lang for game against Chicago

ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) — The Detroit Lions will be without standout cornerback Darius Slay for Sunday's game at Chicago.

The Lions ruled Slay out Friday with a knee injury. Guard T.J. Lang is also out with a neck problem.

Linebacker Eli Harold (shoulder) is doubtful for Detroit, and defensive end Ziggy Ansah

ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) — The Detroit Lions will be without standout cornerback Darius Slay for Sunday’s game at Chicago.

The Lions ruled Slay out Friday with a knee injury. Guard T.J. Lang is also out with a neck problem.

Linebacker Eli Harold (shoulder) is doubtful for Detroit, and defensive end Ziggy Ansah (shoulder) and rookie running back Kerryon Johnson (ankle) are questionable. Ansah returned last weekend and played for the first time since the season opener.

Running back LeGarrette Blount was back to full practice Friday after being limited earlier in the week with a knee problem. He is not listed on the injury report for Sunday’s game.

Slay started all 16 games for the Lions last season and had eight interceptions. He’s picked off two passes this season.

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49ers, Raiders alter schedules due to smoke from wildfire

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — The San Francisco 49ers shifted workout times Friday as smoke from a massive Northern California wildfire affected the air quality in the Bay Area.

With the air quality rated at levels considered unhealthy, the 49ers worked out earlier so they could get off the field before conditions worsened.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — The San Francisco 49ers shifted workout times Friday as smoke from a massive Northern California wildfire affected the air quality in the Bay Area.

With the air quality rated at levels considered unhealthy, the 49ers worked out earlier so they could get off the field before conditions worsened.

The team has been in contact with NFL officials to keep them updated about the situation, 49ers spokesman Bob Lange said. The 49ers don’t play until Monday, when they host the New York Giants.

Cornerback Richard Sherman was monitoring the air quality on his phone before the team took the field.

“Well, I’ve got to, I’ve got kids,” Sherman said. “I just talked to my wife, making sure they’re not letting them go outside. Some of these schools, you would think it’s common sense.”

The NFL is also monitoring the situation in nearby Oakland, where the Raiders are scheduled to host the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday afternoon. The Raiders also altered their practice routine Friday, changing to a walkthrough instead of a full practice as a precaution.

Coach Jon Gruden said he didn’t know if the poor air quality would force any change to the game schedule.

“I hope that the fires go away,” he said. “I’m more concerned about a lot of people that are being impacted by this. We’ll react to whatever the circumstances are, whatever happens. I just hope this ends fast.”

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Chargers CB King developing into complete defensive player

COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) — Desmond King is showing signs of developing into a complete player for the Los Angeles Chargers.

The second-year cornerback, who was used mainly as a blitzer last season, is being used more in man coverage while also getting some opportunities on special teams as a returner.

King has

COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) — Desmond King is showing signs of developing into a complete player for the Los Angeles Chargers.

The second-year cornerback, who was used mainly as a blitzer last season, is being used more in man coverage while also getting some opportunities on special teams as a returner.

King has three interceptions in the Chargers’ past three games. He is the AFC’s defensive player of the week after returning an interception 42 yards for a touchdown in last Sunday’s 25-17 win at Seattle . It is the second straight year that King has had a pick-six (he had a 90-yard interception for a TD last season at Dallas).

He is one of eight players in the conference with three picks as the Chargers (6-2) travel to Oakland on Sunday looking to extend their five-game winning streak.

“He doesn’t have the height, the weight, the speed and all that, but if you look at Desmond he’s always been a very productive player and that’s not going to change when you get to the NFL. It’s just a pattern of success,” Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said.

King won the Jim Thorpe Award, which is given to the nation’s top corner, when he was a junior at Iowa in 2015. He returned for his senior season but wasn’t drafted until the fifth round last year.

King has lined up as a slot corner the past two seasons, but he has improved this year in man coverage. He said he hardly played that at Iowa due to the scheme but that it is something he worked on during the offseason.

“I feel like I am doing a pretty good job with that this year,” King said. “It’s not that much harder than transitioning from a zone team.”

Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley has noted that King has always been a physical player who can tackle in space, but that his comfort level with the defense has grown, which has allowed him to be more consistent.

“He’s anticipating and he’s making plays. There’s a couple plays that took place (against Seattle) that it wasn’t really his responsibility, but he identified it and played a pass and eliminated a big play for us,” Bradley said.

King was used plenty as a blitzer last season and he had four sacks. First-round pick Derwin James is being used as a blitzer this season but Bradley said he might still use King in that role during the second half of the season.

King has also been used more on punt returns due to wide receiver Travis Benjamin being injured for most of the season. Lynn said this week that with Benjamin finally healthy, he is planning on using both players.

With last week’s score, King joined Roy Williams as the only defensive backs in NFL history to have at least four sacks and two INTs for TDs their first two years. He also doesn’t mind being challenged covering opposing teams’ slot receivers.

“I feel like playing inside is harder than playing outside. A lot of people say you need size and speed to play outside but anyone can play it,” King said. “As long as we are having success, have your cover guys cover and have your blitzers blitz.”

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Cowboys shuffling receivers again; pair set for 2018 debuts

FRISCO, Texas (AP) — The Dallas Cowboys are doing more shuffling at receiver as they try to revive one of the NFL's worst passing attacks before a critical game at Philadelphia.

The Cowboys on Friday waived one of their key offseason free agent pickups, receiver Deonte Thompson, while activating Noah Brown off injured

FRISCO, Texas (AP) — The Dallas Cowboys are doing more shuffling at receiver as they try to revive one of the NFL’s worst passing attacks before a critical game at Philadelphia.

The Cowboys on Friday waived one of their key offseason free agent pickups, receiver Deonte Thompson, while activating Noah Brown off injured reserve and promoting Lance Lenoir from the practice squad.

The moves come two weeks after the Cowboys traded their upcoming first-round draft pick to Oakland for receiver Amari Cooper, who was solid and scored a touchdown in his Dallas debut, a 28-14 loss to Tennessee. The Cowboys (3-5) visit the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles (4-4) on Sunday night.

Dallas is 29th in the league in passing and hasn’t been able to compensate for defenses that focus on stopping star running back Ezekiel Elliott.

Brown hasn’t played this season while battling a hamstring injury. He appeared in 13 games last season, with four catches for 33 yards. Lenoir appeared in one game last year.

The Cowboys ruled out four defensive players against the Eagles: linemen Taco Charlton (shoulder) and David Irving (ankle) and linebackers Sean Lee (hamstring) and Joe Thomas (foot). Rookie left guard Connor Williams also was ruled after having arthroscopic knee surgery this week.

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Win streak aside, Brady says Patriots can still do more

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Historically, Tom Brady has been hesitant to express satisfaction when it comes to the Patriots' offense.

His approach has remained unchanged this season about a group that only recently has started to find consistency after a 1-2 start. The passing attack particularly has suffered during that time because of

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Historically, Tom Brady has been hesitant to express satisfaction when it comes to the Patriots’ offense.

His approach has remained unchanged this season about a group that only recently has started to find consistency after a 1-2 start. The passing attack particularly has suffered during that time because of his lack of cohesion with a new group of receivers.

Brady didn’t eclipse 300 yards passing in any of New England’s first three games, averaging 208 yards through the air with six total touchdowns.

Things have changed during the Patriots’ current six-game win streak, in which Brady has averaged 308 yards per game and thrown 11 TDs.

It’s progress, Brady said, but what he hopes is only a glimpse at where they can be as the Patriots prepare for Sunday’s matchup at Tennessee.

“I don’t think we’re there. Certainly not. I think we need some more time together,” he said Friday. “We need to be kind of battle-tested in these games.”

While Brady credits the entire offense’s dedication in the film room and its attention to detail in game plans, the acquisition of receiver Josh Gordon in Week 3 and return of Julian Edelman after missing last season with a torn right ACL have been big factors.

Gordon has shown a different facet of his athleticism each week. He posted his best game in a Patriots uniform in last week’s win over the Packers, finishing with five catches for 130 yards and a touchdown. The score came on a 55-yard catch-and-run that gave New England some needed distance on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter. It was his second 55-yard catch this season.

In six games with New England, Gordon has 22 catches for 396 yards and two TDs.

Likewise, Edelman has started to look like the go-to target Brady has depended on in recent years. He followed his first 100-yard receiving game of the season at Buffalo in Week 8 with six catches for 71 yards against Green Bay.

“I think his mental and physical toughness are just unmatched in a lot of ways,” Brady said of Edelman. “I have so much confidence in him. He really does all the dirty work for us, you know? He’s so scrappy and goes in there and blocks hard, catches balls over the middle. We put him in a lot of different positions and he always seems to come through for us.”

In the aftermath of his trade Gordon said he had no doubt he was going to take advantage of the opportunity with the Patriots following a tumultuous tenure with the Browns that included his receiving treatment for drug and alcohol dependence, and several suspensions.

He has flourished in New England’s strict environment, which he called comfortable and “a real home.” He’s also benefited from building a quick rapport with Brady.

“It’s great that he has a certain amount of trust in me to put it in my direction,” Gordon said. “And, I just want to come down and make a play on it.”

Brady said Gordon, who debuted in the Week 4 win over Miami, has exceeded expectations.

“I think he’s done really everything the coaches have asked him to do. Here early, stays late, always getting extra reps at practice, takes as many reps as he can, and it’s been fun to see,” he said.

It’s all helped mask a drop-off in production this season by tight end Rob Gronkowski, who has missed two of the last three games with ankle and back injuries. He has 29 catches for 448 yards, but has only one TD on the season.

Gronk is officially listed as questionable for Sunday after being limited in practice all week. He declined to say if he thought he was physically ready to play, adding the decision of whether he traveled to Nashville or suited up was not his own.

“It’s up to the coaches,” he said.

Whatever personnel Brady has available to him, he is adamant that there’s still another level for this offense to reach before season’s end.

“Things that we do well we’re going to keep building on, and things that we’re not doing well, you try them maybe a different year or different players,” he said. “We’re still trying to figure those things out.”

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Saints’ Dez Bryant hurt, calls injury the ‘ultimate test’

METAIRIE, La. (AP) — Dez Bryant has been injured in just his second practice with New Orleans Saints and the newly acquired receiver has indicated in social media posts that he has had a significant setback.

The team's injury report on Friday has listed Bryant as questionable for Sunday's game in Cincinnati with

METAIRIE, La. (AP) — Dez Bryant has been injured in just his second practice with New Orleans Saints and the newly acquired receiver has indicated in social media posts that he has had a significant setback.

The team’s injury report on Friday has listed Bryant as questionable for Sunday’s game in Cincinnati with an ankle injury, but a person familiar with the situation says the team is still awaiting the results of a doctor’s examination of Bryant.

The person spoke to The Associated Press Friday on condition of anonymity because the team has not announced any details of Bryant’s medical exam.

Bryant has indicated on social media that the injury will be challenging to overcome, writing on his verified Twitter account, “Things was just starting to heat up for me … I won’t question the man upstairs … this is the ultimate test.. thank you everyone for the prayers.”

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Bears get Khalil Mack back for game with Lions

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — Khalil Mack will save some secrets for the Detroit Lions on Sunday at Soldier Field.

Asked if he would be 100 percent healthy or hindered by the sprained right ankle he suffered Oct. 14, the Chicago Bears' pass rusher smiled on Friday, but hedged.

"You want me to

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — Khalil Mack will save some secrets for the Detroit Lions on Sunday at Soldier Field.

Asked if he would be 100 percent healthy or hindered by the sprained right ankle he suffered Oct. 14, the Chicago Bears’ pass rusher smiled on Friday, but hedged.

“You want me to give up everything?” Mack said. “When I get there, I’m going to try to be myself.”

If that means 100 percent healthy, it could be a problem for Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford — especially after the Lions (3-5) gave up 10 sacks to the Minnesota Vikings last week.

Mack has been out two weeks but practiced Friday to complete three straight days of full work. He is not listed on Chicago’s injury report and is expected to play.

Also expected to play is wide receiver Allen Robinson (groin), who was dropped from the injury list after completing Friday’s practice.

“They’re doing good right now and I like what I see,” Bears coach Matt Nagy said. “So we’ve just got to continue to keep it in that direction. And if we do, then come game time, we’ll be able to make a decision and feel good one way or the other.”

Mack had five sacks in the first four games, then tried playing through the injury in two games before sitting and seeing his streak of 70 straight games come to an end.

“We know what we’ve got here and just understanding the situation, it was better for the team,” Mack said. “So I bit my tongue and sat back and listened instead of trying to do too much in the situation.

“We got two wins and trying to make it three.”

The victories made sitting somewhat easier to accept, but Mack did want to be a part of them.

“It was real tough for me, knowing the type of person that I am,” Mack said. “But even then I’m excited to get out there this week.”

The Bears (5-3) continued to play effective defense without Mack, who came over in a trade with Oakland just before the start of the season. They rank fifth overall and third against the run.

“I’m excited to come here and play with these guys, knowing that they have the talent that they have,” Mack said. “Even without me, it’s a hell of a thing.

“I’m excited to be a part of the party this week and get ready for Detroit.”

Nagy likes how the team handled getting past the injuries to Mack and Robinson. Aaron Lynch moved into the lineup in place of Mack, while Taylor Gabriel and Anthony Miller stepped up as targets for Mitchell Trubisky.

“I think one of the things, you always want to have a contingency plan in case,” Nagy said. “We’ve had a couple guys this year where we’ve had to deal with backups in certain cases, and I think our guys have done well. Having depth, that’s important for any team in this league to be able to feel good with that going into it.”

NOTES: Bears wide receiver Taylor Gabriel (knee) practiced Friday for the second straight day and is off the injury list, as well. Defensive end Bilal Nichols was limited in Friday’s practice and goes in Sunday as questionable. … The other personnel matter to be decided at game time for the Bears is whether to activate tight end Adam Shaheen from injured reserve after he went out in the preseason with a foot injury.

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Take 5; Steelers get a break after drilling Panthers

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Ben Roethlisberger was still in the process of picking himself up off the Heinz Field turf when the scrum started, one that sent a message that at the moment it might be unwise to mess with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey and right guard David DeCastro were not

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Ben Roethlisberger was still in the process of picking himself up off the Heinz Field turf when the scrum started, one that sent a message that at the moment it might be unwise to mess with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey and right guard David DeCastro were not particularly pleased with how Carolina safety Eric Reid launched himself at Pittsburgh’s franchise quarterback as Roethlisberger finished off an 18-yard scramble during the third quarter of a 52-21 dismantling of the Panthers on Thursday night.

Together the two perennial Pro Bowlers — a combined 630 pounds give or take a meal — let Reid and a handful of his teammates know they didn’t appreciate Reid’s approach to his job. What followed was 30 seconds of flexing, grabbing and shoving before Reid was ejected for targeting.

“You’ve got to be there for your guy,” DeCastro said. “Just trying to stand up for him and show him we’ve got his back.”

As the Steelers made their way back to the huddle, Roethlisberger gave his linemen peace of mind should the NFL decide to hit their wallets after sticking up for him.

“Ben came up after and said, ‘If any fine gets handed out, I’ll handle that,'” Pouncey said with a laugh.

Pouncey, in the fourth year of a five-year contract that will pay him $44 million, can certainly afford to write the check. He believes the fact he won’t have to if it comes to that says a lot about Roethlisberger — and a lot about the current climate within the Pittsburgh locker room.

“It’s cool man,” Pouncey said. “I appreciate all the guys repping like that.”

Those guys have found their identity over the last five weeks. Pittsburgh (6-2-1) set a record for the most points by an NFL team in the 17-year history of Heinz Field while rolling to a fifth straight victory. The reward? Five days off to rest up before starting a daunting final stretch that begins on Nov. 18 in Jacksonville in a playoff rematch that saw the Jaguars stun Pittsburgh at home in January.

“Last year is last year,” Steelers cornerback Mike Hilton said. “We’re a different team just like they’re a different team.”

If anything, Pittsburgh looks much better than while getting pushed around by Leonard Fournette and Blake Bortles in a confidence-shaking 45-42 setback that led to an exodus in both the secondary and portions of the coaching staff.

Randy Fichtner took over for Todd Haley as offensive coordinator and, even with star running back Le’Veon Bell sitting out due to concerns with his one-year contract, has put together an attack that looks as dynamic and varied as anything in the league.

James Conner, Bell’s replacement, already has 11 touchdowns through nine games, as many as Bell has scored in any full season. Roethlisberger spread the ball all over the place on a night he finished with more scoring passes (five) than incompletions (three).

“We’ve got a lot of weapons on this team and Ben showed it tonight getting the ball to all of them,” DeCastro said.

Roethlisberger’s only complaint is that Fichtner may get a little too loud in the headset because he’s so pumped up about the next play call.

Pittsburgh’s defense kept Carolina’s Cam Newton under wraps, sacking him five times while limiting the Panthers to 242 yards, the fourth straight game an opponent has finished with 275 yards or less. Save for a couple of early communication breakdowns that allowed Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey to get loose, the Steelers kept things tight.

“I don’t think it’s a come-to-Jesus moment where something miraculously just happened,” defensive tackle Cam Heyward said. “I think everybody got back to work. It showed on the practice field and it showed ever since. This is a big win, but it’s not like we don’t have games after this. We’ll enjoy it for tonight and enjoy it for the weekend, but when we get back in we have to get back to work.”

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Chiefs could get Houston, Sorensen on field vs Cardinals

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Chiefs could be getting some much-needed help for their ailing, leaky defense when linebacker Justin Houston and safety Daniel Sorensen are expected to play against the Arizona Cardinals.

Houston has missed four straight games after hurting his hamstring, while Sorensen was added to the active roster this

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Chiefs could be getting some much-needed help for their ailing, leaky defense when linebacker Justin Houston and safety Daniel Sorensen are expected to play against the Arizona Cardinals.

Houston has missed four straight games after hurting his hamstring, while Sorensen was added to the active roster this week after landing on injured reserve in training camp with a broken leg.

Wide receiver Sammy Watkins practiced Friday for the first time this week after dealing with a foot injury, while Cam Erving was back on the field after dealing with an illness.

Those four were listed as questionable on the final injury report, along with Anthony Hitchens, who has bruised ribs, and fellow linebacker Frank Zombo, who has a hamstring injury.

Safety Eric Berry is doubtful with a heel injury. Center Mitch Morse remains out with a concussion.

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Rivera tells Panthers to get away from football after loss

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Panthers coach Ron Rivera wants his players to get away from football, just for a little while.

A day after a humiliating 52-21 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Carolina's eighth-year coach said it may just be what the Panthers need.

"Sometimes the best medicine is to forget about it

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Panthers coach Ron Rivera wants his players to get away from football, just for a little while.

A day after a humiliating 52-21 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Carolina’s eighth-year coach said it may just be what the Panthers need.

“Sometimes the best medicine is to forget about it and then come back ready to roll,” Rivera said Friday, adding that they should focus on something other than football.

That advice doesn’t apply to Rivera and his coaching staff.

Rivera said coaches will spend the next few days pouring over game film, looking for solutions and making adjustments, particularly on the offensive and defensive lines where the Panthers were overwhelmed by the Steelers in the road loss. The coach wouldn’t say if he’s considering any changes to the starting lineup.

Quarterback Cam Newton was sacked five times and threw a crucial pick-six out of desperation to avoid taking a safety in the end zone, while the defense never was able to stop Ben Roethlisberger, who turned in a perfect QB rating (158.3) after throwing for 328 yards and five touchdowns. The 52 points allowed tied the most in franchise history.

The Panthers (6-3) are still in good shape in the NFC playoff picture, but Rivera expressed concern knowing the NFL is a copycat league and upcoming opponents will look to simulate what the Steelers did against them.

“It is a beg, borrow and steal league,” Rivera said. “Guys are going to look at this tape and see what (the Steelers) did and have answers. We as coaches, as I said, are not done evaluating tape and going through it and trying to correct things.”

Pittsburgh’s defense brought more pass rushers than the Panthers were able to block, often resulting in 5-foot-11, 210-pound running back Christian McCaffrey desperately trying to pick up linemen who outweighed him by almost 100 pounds. That didn’t go well.

Rivera said the Steelers defense threw some new looks at Carolina’s revamped offensive line and the guys up front didn’t recognize or adjust to them.

“Sometimes you see things for the first time, things that they do a little differently, with a little twist to them, it makes things difficult,” Rivera said. “We have to be able to handle those things. We have to stick to our rules, our base fundamentals.”

Meanwhile, Carolina’s defense failed to generate much of any pressure on Roethlisberger. There were times he danced around in the pocket untouched for nearly 10 seconds.

Rivera said that has to change.

He plans to continue to rotate defensive linemen in and out of the lineup “until we find something that clicks on the pass rush side.”

Carolina’s stadium was noticeably quiet and somber on a dark, gray afternoon.

After what he called a “very humbling experience to be beat the way we were,” Rivera still gave players four days off — as previously planned before the game — beginning Friday. They’ll return to practice Tuesday to begin preparations for the Nov. 18 game at Detroit.

For some, that wasn’t by choice.

Tight end Greg Olsen said after the game Thursday night that he wishes the Panthers had a four-day week this week and he could get back on the field to wash this loss out of their mouths instead of waiting 10 days for the next game.

“We just got thoroughly beaten in a game that we were looking forward to, a game that we thought we could really measure ourselves against one of the better teams in the league,” Olsen said. “We got that answer. We got a lot of work to do.”

NOTES: Rivera said he plans to ask the league for a clarification on why safety Eric Reid was ejected Thursday night after hitting a sliding Roethlisberger on a downfield scramble. Rivera said he agreed Reid should have been penalized, but felt he shouldn’t have been kicked out of the game.

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Jaguars’ Fournette ‘completely healthy,’ will play at Colts

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette is good to go for Sunday's game at Indianapolis.

Fournette practiced without any limitations or setbacks all week, prompting coach Doug Marrone to declare him "completely healthy" for the first time since Week 4.

The fourth overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette is good to go for Sunday’s game at Indianapolis.

Fournette practiced without any limitations or setbacks all week, prompting coach Doug Marrone to declare him “completely healthy” for the first time since Week 4.

The fourth overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft missed the last four games and six of eight this season because of a strained right hamstring.

Marrone says “so far, no issues. He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do. No setbacks, no really nothing. Right now, he’s completely healthy. Today, at this time.”

Fournette has 20 carries for 71 yards with no touchdowns. He ran for 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns in 13 games in 2017.

The Jaguars (3-5) will be without starting cornerback A.J. Bouye (calf) and backup cornerback Quenton Meeks (knee).

Linebacker Telvin Smith (shoulder) is questionable.

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3 Dolphins offensive linemen questionable for Green Bay

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

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

Defensive

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

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

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

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