Flexing its muscle: NFL shifts Bengals-Chiefs to prime time

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

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

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

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

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

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

There are some caveats to this matchup, however.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The other AFC South leaders.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

___

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Raiders’ Brown practices; NFL reportedly flunks helmet

Raiders' Brown practices; NFL reportedly flunks helmet

Raiders’ Brown practices; NFL reportedly flunks helmet

Oakland Raiders wideout Antonio Brown was a full participant in the team’s walkthrough on Saturday and could be a full participant as soon as Sunday, head coach Jon Gruden told reporters.

“He took all the reps today in our walkthrough,” Gruden said. “He showed great retention, and we’ll see what happens here with this afternoon; we’re going to have a walkthrough today as well. We have a lot of guys that can’t practice so we’ll pick it up tomorrow.”

Brown had taken part in just one walkthrough and one full-speed practice in training camp before Saturday, as his feet recover from blisters caused by a cryotherapy mishap. He also had been absent from the team last week while trying to sort out an issue with his helmet, as his old one is no longer approved for NFL use because it is more than 10 years old.

One of Brown’s potential solutions to his helmet conundrum can apparently be ruled out. Brown has used social media to seek out versions of his helmet model — the Schutt AiR Advantage — that are less than 10 years old, but Pro Football Talk reported late Saturday night that the NFL tested a 2011 version this week, and it failed.

Per the report, the league believes any Schutt AiR Advantage helmet, whether from the last 10 years or not, will not pass testing.

After Pro Football Talk posted a story about the subject on Twitter, Brown responded with a tweet apparently accusing the NFL of racial prejudice, using the N-word and writing “Super Prejudice unbelievable!”

It’s unclear what helmet Brown has been wearing during practices with the Raiders, or if he’ll have an approved one to use when he returns to full-speed sessions.

The league’s requirement of approved helmets technically applies to all practices and games, with teams at risk of punishment for any of their players who practice or play with disapproved helmets.

–Field Level Media

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Stidham powers Patriots past Titans

Stidham powers Patriots past Titans

Rookie fourth-round pick

Stidham powers Patriots past Titans

Rookie fourth-round pick Jarrett Stidham threw for 193 yards, including the game-winning 23-yard touchdown, as the New England Patriots beat the Tennessee Titans 22-17 in a preseason game Saturday night in Nashville, Tenn.

Stidham, who threw for 179 yards and a score in Detroit last week, finished 14 of 19 on Saturday. He hit Damoun Patterson on a fade route on third-and-12 for the winning score with 4:12 remaining.

With Tom Brady sitting out, Brian Hoyer started for New England, finishing 6 of 8 for 55 yards and an interception. He led one touchdown drive in four series.

Titans starting quarterback Marcus Mariota played three series and finished 6 of 9 for 63 yards and a touchdown, an 11-yard score to Delanie Walker, who saw his first game action since breaking his ankle in the 2018 regular-season opener. Ryan Tannehill followed and went 7 of 11 for 84 yards and one TD across three series.

–Field Level Media

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Watson sharp in debut, Texans beat Lions

Watson sharp in debut, Texans beat Lions

Deshaun Watson threw a touchdown

Watson sharp in debut, Texans beat Lions

Deshaun Watson threw a touchdown to DeAndre Hopkins on his only drive in his preseason debut, and the Houston Texans downed the visiting Detroit Lions 30-23 on Saturday night.

Watson finished 5 of 7 for 60 yards, finding Hopkins from 4 yards out to cap an 11-play, 75-yard drive to open the game. Joe Webb took over from there, finishing 14 of 25 for 186 yards and a touchdown.

Matthew Stafford sat once again for the Lions, who started Josh Johnson at quarterback just a week after signing him. Johnson played into the second half, finishing 9 of 18 for 85 yards, an interception and two fumbles (one lost). David Fales took over and shined, going 12 of 19 for 226 yards and a score.

Rookie third-round safety Will Harris had the Lions’ highlight of the night, scoring on a 19-yard fumble return in the second quarter.

–Field Level Media

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Steelers’ wideouts impress in victory over Chiefs

Steelers' wideouts impress in victory over Chiefs

Steelers’ wideouts impress in victory over Chiefs

Second-year wideout James Washington impressed again, and rookie third-rounder Diontae Johnson snared a 24-yard touchdown as the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the visiting Kansas City Chiefs 17-7 on Saturday night.

The Steelers honored late wide receivers coach Darryl Drake, who died suddenly last Sunday, before the game with a moment of silence.

Drake’s pupils played inspired. Washington, a 2018 second-round pick, had four grabs for 78 yards after totaling four for 84 in the preseason opener. Johnson had three grabs for 46 yards and his score, along with another touchdown that was nullified by offensive pass interference. Mason Rudolph (10 of 15, 77 yards) started at quarterback for Pittsburgh before Josh Dobbs (6 of 11, 95 yards, INT) took over just before halftime.

Chiefs starter Patrick Mahomes played just two series, going 2 of 5 for 11 yards. Rookie second-round wideout Mecole Hardman scored a 17-yard touchdown for the second straight game.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Bucs GM Licht signed 3-year extension

Report: Bucs GM Licht signed 3-year extension

Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager

Report: Bucs GM Licht signed 3-year extension

Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht received a three-year contract extension earlier this year, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

The deal came just days after he lured Bruce Arians out of retirement to coach the team.

Licht is now under contract through 2023, which coincides with Arians’ contract with the team.

Just a year ago, Licht had been rumored to be on the hot seat after the team missed the playoffs for the 10th consecutive season.

The ensuing 5-11 season led to the firing of coach Dirk Koetter, but Arians reportedly insisted on Licht staying in the job before signing on.

Licht, 48, is in his sixth season as the GM after stints in the front offices of the Arizona Cardinals, New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles. His 2015 draft class produced starters with the first four picks (QB Jameis Winston, OT Donovan Smith, G Ali Marpet, LB Kwon Alexander), but he also was responsible for trading up in the second round in 2016 to take kicker Roberto Aguayo, who didn’t make it out of his second training camp with the team.

Licht used his top pick this year on inside linebacker Devin White out of LSU. He also signed defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh as a free agent this offseason after allowing DT Gerald McCoy to walk away.

If Licht serves the duration of his contract, he’ll become the longest-tenured GM in club history.

–Field Level Media

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NFL notebook: Chargers S James to have foot surgery

NFL notebook: Chargers S James to have foot surgery

Los Angeles Chargers All-Pro safety Derwin James will

NFL notebook: Chargers S James to have foot surgery

Los Angeles Chargers All-Pro safety Derwin James will have surgery on his right foot and be sidelined approximately three months, NFL Network reported Saturday.

James suffered a stress fracture in his fifth metatarsal during practice Thursday and was in a walking boot Friday. The three-month timetable leaves open the possibility of James returning from injured reserve for the end of the regular season and the playoffs.

“His production, his intangibles, we’re going to miss him a lot,” head coach Anthony Lynn said Friday. “But we’re a team. I think we have a good team, and we have guys that will step up, and we’ll be fine.”

James recorded 105 total tackles, 3.5 sacks and three interceptions last season after being selected with the 17th overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft. The 23-year-old earned Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors and was the first rookie in franchise history to eclipse 100 tackles.

–New England coach Bill Belichick made no commitment as to the role wide receiver Josh Gordon will have when he returns to the team.

Gordon, the talented but troubled receiver whose career has been thrown off course by substance abuse issues, was reinstated from suspension on a conditional basis by the NFL on Friday.

“For the past eight months, Josh’s situation has been entirely a league matter. When Josh returns to our program, we will evaluate the entire situation and do what we feel is best for Josh and the team,” Belichick said in a statement released by the team.

–Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht received a three-year contract extension earlier this year, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

The deal came just days after he lured Bruce Arians out of retirement to coach the team.

Licht is now under contract through 2023, which coincides with Arians’ contract with the team. Just a year ago, Licht had been rumored to be on the hot seat after the team missed the playoffs for the 10th consecutive season.

–Authorities in Las Vegas have decided not to bring charges against Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott over a May 19 incident, according to TMZ Sports.

Security guard Kyle Johnson had pressed charges against Elliott over an incident at the Electric Daisy Carnival at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Elliott’s camp accused Johnson of extortion in a statement released to the NFL Network after the charges were made.

–Josh McCown was lured out of retirement to sign with the Philadelphia Eagles.

McCown announced his retirement and joined ESPN as an NFL analyst, ending a 17-year career that spanned 10 teams. But he’ll make it 11 when he officially signs with the Eagles, a team that can’t seem to keep a backup healthy this preseason.

Nate Sudfeld suffered a broken wrist in the preseason opener, and his audition to be the No. 2 quarterback behind Carson Wentz was derailed by surgery. Sudfeld could be ready to return in mid-September, head coach Doug Pederson said. No. 3 quarterback Cody Kessler was diagnosed with a concussion following a hit in Thursday’s game.

–The Pittsburgh Steelers are honoring the memory of Darryl Drake, their late wide receivers coach, with a helmet decal.

The yellow decal with the initials “DD” will debut in Saturday night’s preseason home game against the Kansas City Chiefs and will be worn throughout the 2019 campaign.

–Almost one year after suffering a gruesome knee injury during a preseason game, Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Marqise Lee returned to practice.

The Jaguars removed the 27-year-old veteran from the physically unable to perform list. Lee suffered a torn left ACL during the Jaguars’ third preseason game on Aug. 25, 2018 against Atlanta.

–Field Level Media

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Pollard flashes, Cowboys handle Rams

Pollard flashes, Cowboys handle Rams

With Ezekiel Elliott still holding

Pollard flashes, Cowboys handle Rams

With Ezekiel Elliott still holding out, rookie running back Tony Pollard had 51 yards on six touches, including a 14-yard touchdown run, as the visiting Dallas Cowboys beat the Los Angeles Rams 14-10 on Saturday night.

Pollard, a fourth-round pick out of Memphis, totaled five carries for 42 yards on the ground. He broke two tackles and powered through two more Rams defenders at the goal line to cap the Cowboys’ first possession.

That finished Dak Prescott’s only series of the night, as he hit all five pass attempts for 64 yards on a 12-play, 97-yard drive. Mike White entered next and struggled, going 7 of 13 for 30 yards and an interception, before giving way to Cooper Rush (10 of 16, 83 yards, TD).

As usual, Sean McVay sat the Rams’ starters. Backup QB Blake Bortles went 7 of 11 for 62 yards and a TD, while rookie running back Darrell Henderson had 54 yards on 12 touches, including six catches for 38 yards.

–Field Level Media

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Gilbert outduels Brissett, Browns clip Colts

Gilbert outduels Brissett, Browns clip Colts

With

Gilbert outduels Brissett, Browns clip Colts

With both starting quarterbacks sitting out, Cleveland Browns backup Garrett Gilbert threw for 151 yards and two scores to outduel Jacoby Brissett in a 21-18 victory Saturday afternoon over the host Indianapolis Colts.

Gilbert, a standout in this spring’s Alliance of American Football, completed 13 of 19 passes, including a 4-yard score to Jaelen Strong and a 6-yarder to D’Ernest Johnson. Baker Mayfield, Odell Beckham Jr. and the Browns’ other starters did not play, after two productive joint-practice sessions with the Colts during the week. Beckham has yet to play in the preseason.

Brissett played three series, going 8 of 10 for 100 yards and a 12-yard touchdown to Eric Ebron. Deon Cain, a 2018 sixth-round pick who missed all of his rookie season with a torn ACL, had seven catches for 80 yards, both game highs.

Andrew Luck sat out for the Colts as he continues to work back from a left ankle injury, but he did warm up pregame, moving laterally through bag drills and throwing several passes.

–Field Level Media

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Thomas fires 61, seizes 6-shot lead at BMW

Thomas fires 61, seizes 6-shot lead at BMW

Thomas fires 61, seizes 6-shot lead at BMW

Justin Thomas tied the course record with an 11-under-par 61 to surge to a commanding lead of the BMW Championship in the third round Saturday at Medinah Country Club in Medinah, Ill.

Thomas moved to 21-under 195 through 54 holes, good for a six-shot lead going into Sunday’s final round.

Tony Finau (who shot 68) and Patrick Cantlay (68) are tied for second place, followed by South Africa’s Rory Sabbatini (67), who holds fourth alone at 14 under.

Thomas, 26, began the round with birdies on the first five holes. His lone blemish came with a bogey on the par-4 sixth, but he bounced back with a birdie at No. 8.

Thomas scorched the backside in 6 under, aided by a pair of eagles. At the par-5 10th, he hit a 259-yard approach to just three feet for a tap-in, then holed his 180-yard approach on the par-4 16th. He also used a chip-in for a birdie at the par-5 14th and rolled in a 6-footer for birdie at the par-3 17th.

Thomas entered the tournament — the second of three tournaments in the FedEx Cup Playoffs — in 15th place in the FedExCup standings.

If Thomas wins the BMW Championship, he’ll move atop the standings.

Finau had an eagle on the fourth hole — holing out from 119 yards on the par-4 — and was 4 under for the round until a bogey at No. 9. He played the backside at 1 under.

Cantlay had his only bogey of the round on the 16th hole. He closed with a birdie on the final hole.

Spain’s Jon Rahm (66) is alone in fifth place at 13 under. He had the fourth-best round of any golfer in the field, but the gap grew between him and Thomas.

Brandt Snedeker (67), Lucas Glover (69) and Canada’s Corey Conners (69) share sixth place at 12 under.

Second-round leader Hideki Matsuyama of Japan shot 73, falling to a ninth-place tie at 11 under alongside Rickie Fowler, Kevin Kisner and Xander Schauffele.

–Field Level Media

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Tiger keeps Tour Championship hopes alive with 67 at BMW

Tiger keeps Tour Championship hopes alive with 67 at BMW

Tiger keeps Tour Championship hopes alive with 67 at BMW

Tiger Woods kept his hopes of qualifying for next week’s Tour Championship alive by shooting a 5-under-par 67 on Saturday during the third round of the BMW Championship in Medinah, Ill.

Woods finished the day at 7-under 209 through 54 holes at Medinah Country Club outside Chicago, tied for 31st after finishing Friday tied for 48th. He needs to place 11th or better to advance and defend his Tour Championship next week at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.

“I figured I (was) going to have to do something in mid-60s for two straight days there,” Woods said afterward. “Left myself pretty far behind after the first two rounds. At least, I’ve got a shot at it.”

He sits four strokes back of four players who are tied for ninth.

The 43-year-old put together his first bogey-free round all season, birdieing the fourth and seventh holes on the front nine and Nos. 10, 14 and 16 on the back. Woods hit 12 of 18 greens and 10 of 14 fairways, needing just 27 putts to complete the round.

He had totaled seven bogeys and nine birdies through two rounds to start the week, scoring 71 in both.

“Basically, the only difference between today and the last couple of days, I was able to clean up the card,” Woods said. “I didn’t have any stupid mistakes where I made bogey from bad spots or from easy spots I converted a nice up-and-down on five. I did the little things that was able to keep the momentum going and made a couple putts here and there.”

The score was Woods’ lowest since the final round of the Memorial Tournament in early June and tied for his lowest since the second round of the WGC-Mexico Championship in February. The event is only his fourth since the Memorial, including a missed cut at The Open Championship and a withdrawal from The Northern Trust last week due to an oblique injury.

The injury wasn’t enough to keep Woods out this week, and he said he felt considerably better during Saturday’s round.

“It’s just one of those things where some days I feel better than others, but also, then again, it’s what I do with the golf club, too,” he said. “Able to swing the club properly. Body feels better.”

–Field Level Media

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Flores: Fitzpatrick will ‘probably’ start Miami’s third preseason game

Flores: Fitzpatrick will 'probably' start Miami's third preseason game

Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores said veteran quarterback

Flores: Fitzpatrick will ‘probably’ start Miami’s third preseason game

Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores said veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick will “probably start” the team’s third preseason game on Thursday against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Flores made the announcement after Friday’s 16-14 loss at Tampa Bay, when Josh Rosen got the start and completed 10 of 18 passes for 102 yards.

Flores has said he wants Miami’s third preseason game to be a “dress rehearsal for what game No. 1’s going to look like” in the regular season, according to Yahoo Sports.

If that’s indeed the case, the 36-year-old Fitzpatrick appears to be on track to start the Sept. 8 opener against the Baltimore Ravens.

“I’m here,” Fitzpatrick told the Miami Herald. “Whatever coach wants me to do. Whenever he wants to put me in or not put me in, I’m ready to play. Whatever he wants, I’m here for.”

Fitzpatrick has started six season openers for four different NFL teams: 2011 and 2012 with the Buffalo Bills, 2014 with the Houston Texans, 2015 and 2016 with the New York Jets, and 2018 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Dolphins signed Fitzpatrick to a two-year, $11 million contract in March.

Miami acquired Rosen, 22, in a trade with the Arizona Cardinals in April.

–Field Level Media

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Report: No charges for RB Elliott in Vegas incident

Report: No charges for RB Elliott in Vegas incident

Authorities in

Report: No charges for RB Elliott in Vegas incident

Authorities in Las Vegas have decided not to bring charges against Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott over a May 19 incident, according to TMZ Sports.

Security guard Kyle Johnson had pressed charges against Elliott over an incident at the Electric Daisy Carnival at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Elliott’s camp accused Johnson of extortion in a statement released to the NFL Network after the charges were made.

TMZ has aired video footage of the incident in which Elliott is seen leaning against a security guard, who fell to the ground when the metal railing behind him toppled over. Elliott was handcuffed and briefly detained by Las Vegas police around 3 a.m. before being released.

The gossip site reports that police and prosecutors decided against bringing charges after reviewing the incident together, citing police documents.

The NFL announced on July 3 that Elliott will not be disciplined for the incident. Commissioner Roger Goodell determined there wasn’t a violation of the personal conduct policy, the league said.

Johnson was displeased with the NFL’s decision so he filed charges in mid-July.

Elliott has had personal conduct issues in the past, most notably receiving a six-game suspension in 2017 due to allegations of abuse made by a former girlfriend.

Elliott, who turned 24 on July 22, rushed for a league-leading 1,434 yards and six touchdowns in 15 games last season. He also caught three touchdown passes.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Chargers’ James to have surgery, miss 3 months

Report: Chargers' James to have surgery, miss 3 months

Los Angeles Chargers All-Pro safety Derwin James will

Report: Chargers’ James to have surgery, miss 3 months

Los Angeles Chargers All-Pro safety Derwin James will have surgery on his right foot and be sidelined approximately three months, NFL Network reported Saturday.

James suffered a stress fracture in his fifth metatarsal during practice Thursday and was in a walking boot Friday.

The three-month timetable leaves open the possibility of James returning from Injured Reserve for the end of the regular season and the playoffs.

He recorded 105 total tackles, 3.5 sacks and three interceptions last season after being selected with the 17th overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft.

The 23-year-old earned Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors and was the first rookie in franchise history to eclipse 100 tackles.

“His production, his intangibles, we’re going to miss him a lot,” head coach Anthony Lynn said Friday. “But we’re a team. I think we have a good team, and we have guys that will step up, and we’ll be fine.”

James excelled in his final season at Florida State in 2017, collecting 84 tackles (5.5 for loss), two interceptions (one returned for a touchdown) and 11 pass breakups.

–Field Level Media

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Steelers honor late coach with helmet decal

Steelers honor late coach with helmet decal

The Pittsburgh Steelers are honoring the memory of Darryl Drake,

Steelers honor late coach with helmet decal

The Pittsburgh Steelers are honoring the memory of Darryl Drake, their late wide receivers coach, with a helmet decal.

The yellow decal with the initials “DD” will debut in Saturday night’s preseason home game against the Kansas City Chiefs and will be worn throughout the 2019 campaign.

Drake, 62, passed away suddenly last Sunday, one day after reportedly complaining of chest pains.

Drake joined the Pittsburgh staff in 2018 following stints as a receivers coach with the Arizona Cardinals (2013-17) and Chicago Bears (2004-12).

“I only knew him for a year and a half, but I think in that year and a half he meant more to me than some people I’ve known my whole life,” Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said, per the team website.

–Field Level Media

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Belichick says he’ll ‘evaluate’ WR Gordon

Belichick says he'll 'evaluate' WR Gordon

New

Belichick says he’ll ‘evaluate’ WR Gordon

New England coach Bill Belichick made no commitment on Saturday as to the role wide receiver Josh Gordon will have when he returns to the team.

Gordon, the talented but troubled receiver whose career has been thrown off course by substance abuse issues, was reinstated from suspension on a conditional basis by the NFL on Friday.

“For the past eight months, Josh’s situation has been entirely a league matter. When Josh returns to our program, we will evaluate the entire situation and do what we feel is best for Josh and the team,” Belichick said in a statement released by the team on Saturday.

Gordon was suspended on Dec. 20 for violating the terms of his previous reinstatement under the NFL substance abuse policy. He will be able to rejoin the Patriots on Sunday and is eligible to play in the regular season.

After breaking into the NFL with the Cleveland Browns in 2012 and making the Pro Bowl after the 2013 season, Gordon missed the entire 2015 and 2016 seasons due to suspensions related to substance abuse.

Gordon played in five games in 2017 after being reinstated. He played one game for Cleveland last year before being traded to the Patriots in September.

In 12 games last season, Gordon caught 41 passes for 737 yards and four touchdowns.

–Field Level Media

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Jaguars WR Lee off PUP list, returns to practice

Jaguars WR Lee off PUP list, returns to practice

Jaguars WR Lee off PUP list, returns to practice

Almost one year suffering a gruesome knee injury during a preseason game, Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Marqise Lee returned to practice Saturday.

The Jaguars removed the 27-year-old veteran from the physically unable to perform list.

Lee suffered a torn left ACL during the Jaguars’ third preseason game on Aug. 25, 2018 against Atlanta. Falcons safety Damontae Kazee hit him low at full speed and was flagged for lowering his head.

Lee was the Jaguars’ leading receiver in 2017, catching 56 passes for 702 yards and three touchdowns in 14 games. In his first four seasons, he had 171 receptions for 2,166 yards and eight scores.

Jacksonville coach Doug Marrone said last week that the team was preparing to start the regular season without Lee and injured left tackle Cam Robinson.

“I don’t know if they’re going to be ready for the season,” Marrone said. “They’re working hard, the trainers are working hard, everyone’s working hard, but we just can’t get them over the hump, so we’ve got to start preparing to play without them.”

–Field Level Media

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Eagles lure QB McCown out of retirement

Eagles lure QB McCown out of retirement

Eagles lure QB McCown out of retirement

Josh McCown was lured out of retirement to sign with the Philadelphia Eagles.

McCown announced his retirement and joined ESPN as an NFL analyst, ending a 17-year career that spanned 10 teams. But he’ll make it 11 when he officially signs with the Eagles, a team that can’t seem to keep a backup healthy this preseason.

Nate Sudfeld suffered a broken wrist in the preseason opener, and his audition to be the No. 2 quarterback behind Carson Wentz was derailed by surgery. Sudfeld could be ready to return in mid-September, head coach Doug Pederson said.

No. 3 quarterback Cody Kessler was diagnosed with a concussion following a hit in last week’s game.

Enter McCown, who turned 40 on July 4 and was last a starter in 2017.

Pederson did not directly answer questions posed last week about the Eagles’ interest in Colin Kaepernick, but the move to McCown indicates there was likely no interest.

–Field Level Media

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Reid kneels before preseason loss, rips Jay-Z deal again

Reid kneels before preseason loss, rips Jay-Z deal again

Carolina

Reid kneels before preseason loss, rips Jay-Z deal again

Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid kneeled in silent protest before a 27-14 preseason loss to the Buffalo Bills on Friday night.

Afterward, he took another shot at the partnership between the NFL and hip-hop mogul Jay-Z, who said during an introductory press conference this week “I think we’re past kneeling … I think it’s time for action.”

“For one, when has Jay-Z ever taken a knee to come out and tell us that we’re past kneeling?” said Reid, per ESPN. “Yes, he’s done a lot of great work, a lot of great social justice work. But for you to get paid to go into an NFL press conference and say that we’re past kneeling? Again, asinine. Players Coalition 2.0, he got paid to take the bullets that he’s taking now because we’re not having it.”

Reid, who joined the Panthers three weeks into the 2018 season, kneeled before every game last year, although no Panthers teammates joined him.

According to the Charlotte Observer, Reid’s reason for kneeling is to “protest racial inequality and social injustice in America.”

Reid is close friends with former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick from their days as teammates with the 49ers. Kaepernick is well known for his protests during the anthem. Both players settled a collusion lawsuit with the NFL last year.

“Jay-Z made a money move. He’s capitalized on this situation. Nobody to my knowledge talked about social justice before Colin started protesting,” said Reid. “That was not a topic of the NFL off the field. For Jay-Z to come in and partner to address social justice, do it behind Colin’s back, get paid to do it … I don’t have words.”

Reid also suggested the NFL is using Jay-Z as cover for Kaepernick still not having an NFL job.

“The (injustice) that’s happened to Colin, they get to say, ‘Look, we care about social justice, we care about the black community because we’re with Jay-Z,'” said Reid.

“Jay-Z is doing the work for them. We all know that it’s unjust that Colin isn’t in an NFL locker room, the way he lost his job. But they get to pretend they care about social justice.”

Reid, 27, ended up starting all 13 games he was in uniform for the Panthers last season. He was sixth on the team with 71 tackles with one sack and one interception. In six NFL seasons, five with the 49ers, the former No. 18 overall selection in the 2013 draft has 398 career tackles and 11 interceptions.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Bucs GM Licht signed 5-year extension

Report: Bucs GM Licht signed 5-year extension

Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager

Report: Bucs GM Licht signed 5-year extension

Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht received a five-year contract extension earlier this year, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

The deal came just days after he lured Bruce Arians out of retirement to coach the team.

Licht is now under contract through 2023, which coincides with Arians’ contract with the team.

Just a year ago, Licht had been rumored to be on the hot seat after the team missed the playoffs for the 10th consecutive season.

The ensuing 5-11 season led to the firing of coach Dirk Koetter, but Arians reportedly insisted on Licht staying in the job before signing on.

Licht, 48, is in his sixth season as the GM after stints in the front offices of the Arizona Cardinals, New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles. His 2015 draft class produced starters with the first four picks (QB Jameis Winston, OT Donovan Smith, G Ali Marpet, LB Kwon Alexander), but he also was responsible for trading up in the second round in 2016 to take kicker Roberto Aguayo, who didn’t make it out of his second training camp with the team.

Licht used his top pick this year on inside linebacker Devin White out of LSU. He also signed defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh as a free agent this offseason after allowing DT Gerald McCoy to walk away.

If Licht serves the duration of his contract, he’ll become the longest-tenured GM in club history.

–Field Level Media

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Manning, Daniels solid in Giants’ win over Bears

Manning, Daniels solid in Giants' win over Bears

Manning, Daniels solid in Giants’ win over Bears

Giants quarterback Eli Manning and his heir apparent, rookie first-round pick Daniel Jones, each threw a touchdown pass, and New York routed the Chicago Bears 32-13 on Friday in East Rutherford, N.J.

Manning hit all four of his pass attempts for 42 yards before exiting, with his 10-play, 79-yard drive ending with an 8-yard touchdown to wide receiver Bennie Fowler.

Jones then came in for the Giants (2-0) and connected on 11 of 14 passes for 161 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown to wide receiver TJ Jones, but he fumbled twice. Running back Saquon Barkley was held out for the second straight week.

Chase Daniel threw for 103 yards for the Bears (0-2), and Tyler Bray chipped in with 53 yards passing as Mitchell Trubisky sat out. Javon Wims hauled in five passes for 64 yards to lead Chicago. Kerrith Whyte Jr. produced the Bears’ only touchdown on a 1-yard run in the third quarter.

–Field Level Media

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