FLM All 32: Team-by-team NFL notes

FLM All 32: Team-by-team NFL notes

AFC EAST

Buffalo Bills: Troy Aikman was 1-11 as a starter in 1989. Peyton Manning was 3-13 in 1998. Their first seasons were disastrous, but both won multiple Super Bowls. Aikman is in the Hall of Fame, and Manning will join him there soon. No one is ready to fit Bills rookie quarterback Josh Allen for a Super Bowl ring or a gold jacket yet, but coach Sean McDermott said Wednesday he is delighted by what he has seen from Allen, who enters Sunday’s game at New England with a 4-5 record and significant progress made this season. “I went back and watched the Miami game a few days ago and he looks like a different player than he did from two or three games ago, which is important and good for him,” McDermott said. “The way the game is slowing down for him is encouraging.” McDermott is eager to see how he performs against the Patriots. “Josh has another opportunity to grow and develop. Now it’s on the road against a very good football team. … He’s really in my mind determined to improve every week.”

Miami Dolphins: The Jacksonville Jaguars — this weekend’s opponent for the Dolphins — were a Super Bowl favorite heading into the 2018 season but have disappointed. Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill said their 4-10 record means nothing to him. He said the defense, especially, impresses him, and despite the team record, the Jaguars are sixth in the NFL in total defense. “They’re a talented team,” he said. “I think it starts with the personnel. They have good players from their front to the linebackers and the secondary. All the way through, they’re really a solid team. (They’re) kind of a lot like we saw last week. They’ve stacked up good players at every position. They play fast. They keep things fairly simple. They play what they play, and I think they do a good job of studying what teams do to attack them and really try to lock those things down. You have to give a lot of credit to the way they’re playing right now. They’ve played well pretty much all season, through the ups and the downs of their season.”

New England Patriots: Bills coach Sean McDermott said he’s preparing to face vintage Tom Brady on Sunday when the Bills play the Patriots. To him, the Tom Brady of 2018, at age 41, is as good as he’s ever been. Or maybe better. “To me, he looks even better than in years past. I know the numbers may not support that, but I think his game is strong,” McDermott said. “He doesn’t turn the ball over. I think he’s as good as ever.” He added: “The way he’s allocating the ball to different receivers, how he’s getting them in and out of plays, the no-huddle offense, strategically. I think all of that showcases his ability, not only with his arm physically, but also his mental capability.”

New York Jets: For two teams with seemingly nothing to play for, Sunday’s game against Green Bay is important to the Jets — especially to Sam Darnold. The rookie quarterback continues to mature at the helm of the 4-10 Jets, and he said he has learned from Aaron Rodgers, whom he’ll see up close on Sunday. “During the offseason I look at Aaron all the time, just personally to watch some of the cool throws he’s able to make,” Darnold said this week. “He’s really the most talented person I’ve ever seen the way he’s able to get rid of the ball and throw the football.” He said now that he’s an NFL quarterback, he appreciates Rodgers’ talents even more. “It’s fun as a quarterback knowing how hard the position is, knowing how hard it is to play, it’s really cool to be able to watch someone really make it look so easy.”

AFC NORTH

Baltimore Ravens: Coach John Harbaugh called kicker Justin Tucker’s omission from the Pro Bowl “a big-time head-scratcher.” Tucker is 28-for-30 on field goals this year — his only two misses were blocked — but he was left off the AFC roster in favor of the Jets’ Jason Myers. Harbaugh said he was “very surprised” by the voting. So was Tucker. “I feel like I hit the ball really consistently well this year,” said the eight-year veteran, who was selected to the annual showcase in 2013 and 2016. “It’s something that I aim to continue to do,” he added. “But what are you going to do? I mean, the only thing you can do is just keep trying to be the best football player you can be.” Tucker is, in fact, the most accurate field-goal kicker in NFL history with a career mark of 90.6 percent. He missed an extra point for the first time in his career in Week 7, preventing the Ravens from taking the Saints to over time.

Cincinnati Bengals: Second-year running back Joe Mixon is just 5 yards shy of his first 1,000-yard season and is on pace to become the first Bengal to lead the AFC in rushing since Rudi Johnson in 2005. “I’m 5 away. I haven’t gotten there yet,” Mixon said. “Hopefully …I can get a 5-yard carry, and then I’ll be there. I’ll take that all the way.” He has topped 100 yards in back-to-back games against the Chargers and Raiders heading into Sunday’s game at Cleveland. In the first meeting against the Browns in Week 12, Mixon rushed for 89 yards on 14 attempts and set season highs with seven catches for 66 yards. His chief competition for the AFC rushing title is Denver’s Phillip Lindsay, just 4 yards behind him with 991.

Cleveland Browns: The Browns have won four of their last five, including a 35-20 victory at Cincinnati in Week 12. They look to complete the sweep of their in-state foes on Sunday in Cleveland. “It’s an AFC North rivalry,” safety Jabrill Peppers said. “Especially how things went up there last (time), we definitely want to let them know that it wasn’t just a fluke. This is what it’s going to be.” The Browns (6-7-1) technically have a mathematical shot at the playoffs — which would require, among other things, a tie between the Colts and Titans in Week 17 — but the team has more realistic goals in mind in the season’s last two games. “Having a winning record, that’s something we can control,” Peppers said. “If (the playoffs) happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it gives us good stepping stools to go into next year.”

Pittsburgh Steelers: Facing a New Orleans defense that ranks No. 1 against the run this Sunday, the Steelers could use more of the empty-backfield, five-receiver sets they showed in last week’s win over the Patriots. “It gives us a lot of weapons,” quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. “It creates some mismatch opportunities, and then it’s just about finding the right mismatch or the right opportunity that is available to us.” Roethlisberger completed 7 of 8 passes on a 92-yard touchdown drive using the set, which featured Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, Ryan Switzer and Eli Rogers. The downside is not having a tight end and losing some pass protection. “The guys up front are going to have their hands full with the pass rush and the noise,” Roethlisberger said.

AFC SOUTH

Houston Texans: The winner of 10 of the last 11 games, Houston is focused on continuing its momentum through the regular season and then making a playoff run. Last weekend’s 29-22 victory over the New York Jets wasn’t a thing of beauty but star defensive end J.J. Watt isn’t much for appearances. “It really doesn’t matter how you win, you just have to win,” Watt said. “After this week’s game — we’ve kind of heard it all year, ‘This. That. They didn’t’ — we won. I don’t care. I don’t care how we win, I just want to win. I really don’t care. I don’t care if people think it’s pretty, I don’t care if they like it, if they don’t like it, I just want to win. I really do not care how we win.”

Indianapolis Colts: Rookie linebacker Darius Leonard leads the NFL with 146 tackles and was distressed over not making the Pro Bowl. The second-round pick from South Carolina State said his goal is to get 40 tackles in Sunday’s contest against the New York Giants. Being informed that would be almost impossible — the NFL record is 24 — Leonard didn’t back off. “Impossible? There is nothing impossible,” Leonard told reporters about the 40 tackles. “If you play a lot of snaps you’ve just got to get on every play possible.” Asked to rate his anger on a 1-to-10 scale when he learned of the snub, Leonard raised the ante. “Twenty,” Leonard shot back. “Just knowing that I put everything on film and still not enough. So I’ve just got to keep improving.”

Jacksonville Jaguars: Switching from Blake Bortles to Cody Kessler at quarterback hasn’t led to an improvement on offense. Instead, things have been even more bleak; Jacksonville has scored just one offensive touchdown in Kessler’s three starts. “The biggest thing this week is for us to score: put up points,” Kessler said. “That is something we haven’t been able to do and that falls on me. That is something we have to do these next (two) weeks, obviously starting this week.” Kessler said pride is his main motivation for the last two games as his future with the team being unclear. “Every year in the NFL, teams are going to change — not the same guys will be here next year, no matter where you are at in the NFL.”

Tennessee Titans: Running back Derrick Henry is on a roll with 408 yards over the past two games — he broke Earl Campbell’s franchise record of 405 — and it turned out he received a push former Titans star Eddie George. The two Heisman Trophy winners had a conversation in which George minced no words. “I was very honest,” George told reporters. “I said, look, it’s not about you hitting the home run. We know you can hit the home run. It’s what you can do consistently between the tackles, and it comes down to one fundamental thing. It comes down to you imposing your will on defenders. You are too big not to use that as your strength. You have to force guys to tackle you. Make one cut and go.” Said Henry: “He told me I wasn’t playing to my potential, and I could play better. That’s the stuff I needed to hear. It gave me a different outlook moving forward.”

AFC WEST

Denver Broncos: Just a few months ago, running back Phillip Lindsay was wearing No. 2 in practice and sitting sixth on the Broncos’ running back depth chart, just hoping to make the roster via special teams. On Tuesday, he became the first offensive undrafted rookie in NFL history to make the Pro Bowl. “At one point, I was just trying to make the team,” Lindsay told reporters Wednesday. “I was hoping to do some (gunner) reps, some kick return and hopefully catch some balls at punt return. When they gave me the news that I was going to the Pro Bowl, it was just a real emotional moment.” Lindsay is 9 rushing yards away from 1,000 on the season, and he ranks second among all qualified rushers in yards per carry (5.4).

Kansas City Chiefs: Right tackle Mitchell Schwartz missed his first practice of the season on Wednesday, a bit of a surprise after his knee injury had not been previously reported. Coach Andy Reid said Schwartz hurt the knee last Thursday during a loss to the Chargers and called him “day-to-day.” Schwartz didn’t miss a snap in the game, keeping alive his streak of well over 7,000 consecutive snaps, so there doesn’t appear to be major concern about his status at the moment. Wideout Sammy Watkins (foot) and cornerback Kendall Fuller (hand) also missed practice, while running back Spencer Ware (hamstring) was limited. Reid said earlier this week that Fuller could play Sunday despite having surgery on what was reported as a fractured wrist. The team’s injury report refers to it as a thumb issue.

Los Angeles Chargers: Lamar Jackson’s legs have been more efficient than his arm through five starts, but the Chargers aren’t sleeping on the throwing ability of the Baltimore Ravens quarterback ahead of their Saturday matchup. “I know he’s beating people with his legs right now, and he has no choice as to (how) they choose to use him with his legs,” Los Angeles coach Anthony Lynn said. “But I watched him in college, and he threw for over 9,000 yards in college. The young man can throw the football, and he can develop into a pocket passer in this league.” Chargers safety Adrian Phillips compared the challenge of containing Jackson to facing the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes, which L.A. has done twice this season. “They’re equally dangerous,” Phillips said. “Mahomes can throw it a mile. Lamar can throw it like crazy, too, but he can blink and he’s running 70 yards.”

Oakland Raiders: After having a total of 12 Pro Bowl selections over the past two seasons, the Raiders were one of three teams (joining the Buffalo Bills and Tampa Bay Buccaneers) not to have a player selected this year. Three Raiders — tight end Jared Cook, center Rodney Hudson and left guard Kelechi Osemele — were named alternates, giving the team a good chance of having one added as an injury replacement. Cook ranks second among AFC tight ends in receptions (63) and receiving yards (848), but the Indianapolis Colts’ Eric Ebron (59 catches for 662 yards) won out for the second spot in the conference behind the Chiefs’ Travis Kelce thanks to his 12 touchdowns. Hudson and Osemele each made the Pro Bowl in 2016 and 2017.

NFC EAST

Dallas Cowboys: Without much fanfare, wide receiver Terrance Williams, defensive lineman Datone Jones and center Travis Frederick saw their seasons end Wednesday when the Cowboys activated defensive back C.J. Goodwin to return from injured reserve. The Cowboys activated wide receiver Noah Brown from IR earlier this year, and each team is limited to bringing back two players each season. Frederick, who has missed the entire year with Guillain-Barre syndrome, a nerve condition, already knew he wouldn’t come off the list. Williams last played in Week 3 and was placed on IR on Oct. 6 with a lingering foot injury. Jones, who has battled a hamstring injury, went on injured reserve on Sept. 25. Goodwin had been on the list since breaking his forearm in Week 7.

New York Giants: Last week, the Tennessee Titans had the number of rookie running Saquon Barkley, holding him to 31 yards on 14 carries for a season-low 2.21 yards per carry. This week, it will be the Indianapolis Colts (7-7), who are fighting for a playoff berth, looking to put the brakes on Barkley, who has 1,809 yards from scrimmage and 13 touchdowns on the season. The heavy rain and gusty winds at MetLife Stadium hampered the Giants’ passing game last week, leading the Titans to expect the run, and that wasn’t lost on Colts head coach Frank Reich, whose team shut out the Dallas Cowboys last week. This Sunday, the Giants will be playing in the enclosed Lucas Oil Stadium. “We can always open the roof and hope that it rains,” Reich quipped, adding: “The defense has been playing well, so I think we’re going to play our game.”

Philadelphia Eagles: Defensive back Malcolm Jenkins turns 31 on Thursday, and he said the vegan lifestyle he follows has helped him to hold off Father Time. He hasn’t missed a game since 2013. Jenkins told ESPN.com that he converted to vegan last year after watching the documentary “What the Health?” about the effects of eating animal products. “I wanted to see how I was going to feel,” said Jenkins, who tested out the lifestyle beginning in July 2017. “I set it up to fail, quite frankly, because I’m going to do it during training camp, I’m going to go cold turkey — no meat, no dairy. I was like, ‘There was no way I’m going to have enough energy or protein to keep up.’ In all actuality, I felt great, lost a few pounds, speeds were great, my strength was up, my recovery was really good. So I said, if that’s the case, I’ve got to stick with it.”

Washington Redskins: The team placed safety Montae Nicholson on the reserve non-football injury list Wednesday, a day after he was arrested and charged with assault and battery and being drunk in public. By being placed on the list, the second-year player will be required to miss six weeks, ending his season. TMZ Sports released a video that shows a man identified as Nicholson punching a man on the street near Redskins Park. A 24-year-old woman with him, Sydney Maggiore, also was arrested and charged with malicious wounding and assault and battery. They were arrested outside World of Beer in Ashburn, Va. The report from police in Loudoun County, Va., stated “an investigation determined the male suspect assaulted the male victim, and the female suspect struck the female victim with a bottle and also assaulted the male victim,” ESPN reported.

NFC NORTH

Chicago Bears: With a chance at the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs, Bears coach Matt Nagy said he has no plans to rest quarterback Mitchell Trubisky of any of his other starters in Sunday’s game at San Francisco. “That’s not even in the world of consideration for us,” Nagy said Wednesday. “We’re trying to win. There’s too many other things that can happen and the fact of the matter is, realistically speaking, is we can be a higher seed. If you have an opportunity to do that, they why wouldn’t you try for that?” The NFC North champions are 10-4 and one game behind the Los Angeles Rams for the second seed. If the teams finish tied, Chicago would earn the first-round bye because of its Week 14 win against the Rams at Soldier Field.

Detroit Lions: Rookie running back Kerryon Johnson was officially placed on injured reserve Wednesday, ending a promising debut campaign that included a pair of 100-yard games — the first by a Lions rusher since 2013. The second-rounder from Auburn suffered a left knee sprain in a Week 11 win against Carolina and finishes the season with 118 rushes for 641 yards and three touchdowns, plus 32 catches for 213 yards and a score. Johnson’s average of 5.43 yards per carry ranks third in the NFL among qualifying backs, just behind fellow rookie Philip Lindsay (5.45) of the Broncos and Green Bay’s Aaron Jones (5.47). Jones was also placed on IR this week.

Green Bay Packers: As the Packers prepare for the final road game of the season Sunday against the Jets, one New York player in particular has caught the attention of interim coach Joe Philbin: second-year strong safety Jamal Adams, who was named to his first Pro Bowl on Tuesday. “Their safety really jumps off the tape,” Philbin said Wednesday of Adams, the sixth overall pick in the 2017 draft. “No. 33 is excellent. He’s all over the place. They use him everywhere. They’ll turn him loose at times. We’re going to have to be ready to handle him.” The Packers’ offense may not be at full strength, with quarterback Aaron Rodgers nursing a groin injury, though the QB said Wednesday he plans to play.

Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings sacked Matthew Stafford a whopping 10 times in a Week 9 win against the Lions — and that was without the services of linebacker Anthony Barr. Barr missed that game and two others with a hamstring injury, but enters Sunday’s rematch at Detroit on a roll. “He’s played outstanding, really the last month or so, maybe a little longer,” said coach Mike Zimmer. “He’s always been a good player. I think he’s probably taking it to another level right now.” Barr bagged two sacks in last week’s blowout of against Miami and tallied one the week before at Seattle. “I feel we’ve been playing to my strengths the last few weeks,” Barr told the Pioneer Press. “It’s a positive for myself and for the team.” Barr is in the final year of his rookie contract and set to hit free agency in March.

NFC SOUTH

Atlanta Falcons: Running back Devonta Freeman won’t return this season after having his campaign hindered by knee and groin injuries. Falcons coach Dan Quinn told radio station 92.9 The Game that he kept the option open unless Freeman recovered but it is now clear there is no need to do so with two games left and the team out of playoff contention. “He won’t make it back in the next couple of weeks,” Quinn said. “We were always keeping that option available with him to return, depending on how we finished and where we’d go. But now that we have a sense that he wouldn’t make it back in the next few days to get the practice reps needed to play, he won’t make it back.” Freeman carried the ball just 14 times for 68 yards in two games.

Carolina Panthers: Quarterback Taylor Heinicke will make his first career start against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday with Cam Newton (shoulder) declared out of the contest. Heinicke passed for 132 touchdowns at Old Dominion but was not selected in the 2015 draft and bounced around until landing with the Panthers. He has thrown four passes this season for the Panthers, and one last season for the Houston Texans. “I know he’s excited for the opportunity, and we’re excited to see what he can do,” center Ryan Kalil told reporters. “I haven’t had a lot of experience playing with him, and most of the reps I’ve taken with him have been in practice. But from what I’ve seen this year, I think he’s very talented. He’s a very sharp, detailed kid.”

New Orleans Saints: Receiver Ted Ginn Jr. (knee) returned to practice Wednesday for the first time since going on injured reserve in mid-October. The participation begins the 21-day window in which Ginn can be activated but New Orleans likely won’t need that much time to make a decision with the postseason looming. Failing to activate Ginn would mean he would remain on IR for the rest of the campaign. The 12-year veteran has 12 receptions for 135 yards and two touchdowns in four games. The Saints have received a huge season from Michael Thomas (109 receptions) but only one other wide receiver — Tre’Quan Smith with 24 — has more receptions than Ginn.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Receiver Mike Evans wasn’t selected to the Pro Bowl but is the first alternate should any of the four chosen NFC wideouts decide to pull out of the contest. Evans, who has 74 receptions for a career-high 1,328 yards and five touchdowns, said he wasn’t surprised with being passed over. “I’m not disappointed,” Evans told reporters. “I kind of knew the eight (receivers) midway through the season and it’s hard to change that. You’ve got to do something spectacular to get in that conversation. But all the guys that made it were deserving. There were probably a couple snubs out there but it’s just an all-star game.” Evans has topped 1,000 yards in each of his first five seasons.

NFC WEST

Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals’ opposing quarterback this week, Los Angeles Rams third-year pro Jared Goff, knows all too well about the rookie struggles Josh Rosen is going through on a team that hasn’t given him much support. “Every experience — positive, negative and in between — will be valuable for you in the future,” Goff said of his rough rookie year. “That’s something that I tried to take away when I was going through a similar situation. And just understand that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.” Rosen remains upbeat despite many down moments in his first year. “I think mistakes are valuable,” he said. “You want to minimize them, but more importantly, you don’t want to make them twice. I’ve made plenty of them this year, and hopefully I’m for the most part not making the same mistakes twice, just finding new ones to make.”

Los Angeles Rams: The Rams held only a walkthrough on Wednesday, but running back Todd Gurley would not have participated had it been a regular session. That said, head coach Sean McVay still expects the NFL’s touchdown leader to play Sunday against the Cardinals. “I think he’s making good progress,” McVay said. “It’s still earlier in the week, but I think he’s feeling good. Came in, was feeling better today. So that’s good news.” Reserve back Justin Davis (shoulder) also was a nonparticipant Wednesday, providing extra incentive to get recently signed veteran C.J. Anderson incorporated. “Very sharp, cerebral player,” McVay said of Anderson. “It’s going to be good to be able to get him in here, get him up to speed as quickly as possible.”

San Francisco 49ers: Head coach Kyle Shanahan sees a little bit of his own schematic approach in this week’s opponent, the Chicago Bears — not in their offense, but in Vic Fangio’s defense. “Vic’s just unique in that everything is tied together,” Shanahan said. “Whatever you think you have on him, it could be good, but they have a counter off of it. It’s very, very similar to our offense. There’s a scheme you’ve got to run to stop a certain play. Whatever scheme you do to stop that play, you opened up another play. That’s really how their defense is. … So, you’ve just got to keep playing the game within the game.” Fangio, of course, was the 49ers defensive coordinator from 2011-14. The Bears are 1-2 against the Niners since Fangio moved to Chicago.

Seattle Seahawks: Every team is banged up late in the season, but the Seahawks have a particularly lengthy injury report, with 10 players missing Wednesday’s practice — including sack leaders Frank Clark (12) and Jarran Reed (8.5) — and four more limited. Head coach Pete Carroll said safety Bradley McDougald will be away from the team rehabbing during the week and “possibly” has a chance to play Sunday night against the Kansas City Chiefs. On the plus side, linebacker K.J. Wright was back practicing for the first time since Week 10 and has a good shot to play. “Really excited about him getting the chance to get back out there, of course,” Carroll said, “and he looks so good on the field. He’s a monster out there.”

–Field Level Media

Bucs DT McCoy: ‘I will be playing football somewhere’

Bucs DT McCoy: 'I will be playing football somewhere'

Bucs DT McCoy: ‘I will be playing football somewhere’

Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy vowed to get on the field this season on Friday night, but left in question whether that will be with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The six-time Pro Bowl selection, who voiced his displeasure with trade rumors earlier this week and hasn’t been attending voluntary workouts at the team’s headquarters, spoke about it with SpectrumSports 360 host Mike Cairns at the Dick Vitale Gala in Tampa.

“I will be playing football somewhere,” McCoy said.

Pressed about whether that meant in Tampa Bay, McCoy said, “I don’t know. We’ll see.”

McCoy, the third overall pick in 2010 NFL Draft, has three years left on his contract and has been a pillar on otherwise subpar defenses for most of his career in Tampa.

McCoy’s base salary in 2019 is $13 million as he crosses the midway point of the six-year, $95.2 million deal he signed in 2016. His base salary is $10 million next season and $10.432 million in 2021.

New head coach Bruce Arians might have set the rumor mill in motion, unintentionally. At the NFL Spring Meeting in Arizona, Arians said every player should be at One Buc Place for workouts in April and May if they’re committed to winning.

“I’ve gotta evaluate him,” Arians said of the 31-year-old McCoy in March. “Guy’s up there in age, it’s different. It’s usually the age when they’re getting paid the most, and production and [pay] don’t match. So we’ve gotta find that out.”

General manager Jason Licht responded to those comments and questions about where McCoy was during workouts by saying he’s “the last person I would worry about. He’s a consummate pro. He’s always been one.”

–Field Level Media

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Reports: Seahawks to sign DT Woods

Reports: Seahawks to sign DT Woods

Reports: Seahawks to sign DT Woods

On the same day the Seattle Seahawks officially announced the signing of defensive end Ezekiel Ansah, the team also reportedly plans to add veteran defensive tackle Al Woods.

Woods’ agency, SportsTrustAdvisors, posted news of the agreement on Twitter on Friday, with NFL Network reporting a deal to be signed that could be worth up to $2.5 million for next season.

Woods, 32, a captain last season with the Indianapolis Colts, has played for five NFL teams in his nine seasons in the league. That includes a two-game stint he spent with the Seahawks in his second year in 2011.

Listed at 6-foot-4 and 330 pounds, Woods is known as a bulky run-stopper in the middle of the defensive line. He recorded 24 tackles in 14 games (eight starts) last season with the Colts.

Originally a fourth-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft out of LSU by the New Orleans Saints, who cut him before the season began, Woods has played for Tampa Bay (2010), Seattle (2011), Pittsburgh (2012-13), Tennessee (2014-16) and Indianapolis (2017-18).

He has 172 tackles and 4.5 sacks in his nine-year career.

–Field Level Media

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Wrong shoes hurt Cards’ Murray at minicamp debut

Wrong shoes hurt Cards' Murray at minicamp debut

If quarterback Kyler Murray's first

Wrong shoes hurt Cards’ Murray at minicamp debut

If quarterback Kyler Murray’s first day of rookie minicamp with the Arizona Cardinals didn’t start so smoothly, he has an excuse: It must be the shoes.

“My feet hurt a little bit,” Murray said. “It’s been a long time since I put cleats on. I’ve been running around. The cleats were pretty new.”

Murray was missing his usual cleats, which weren’t delivered to the practice facility in time for the start of minicamp, so the backup pair didn’t have a comfortable feel.

Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury expects the proper pair to arrive for Saturday’s practice, so he wasn’t too worried about Murray’s quick feet. He basically liked what he saw Friday of the Heisman Trophy winner from Oklahoma.

“Not bad,” Kliff Kingsbury said of Murray’s on-field debut. “Some familiarity with the system helps. He can really throw it. He’s got a presence about himself. I liked how he operated.”

The No. 1 overall draft pick who on Thursday signed his rookie contract, a four-year deal worth $35.1 million fully guaranteed, can buy all the shoes he wants now.

“It was good finally touching the field again,” Murray said. “A lot of this process has been just a lot of talk and evaluation and stuff like that. Just to actually be able to play football again, get out here with the guys and do what you love, it was fun.”

Other than the shoe issue, he was pleased with how the first day went, saying “it was great” to work with Kingsbury.

“Obviously, it’s only been day one, but I can already feel the rhythm going,” Murray added. “Hopefully, we can keep this thing going and do something good, do something great.”

Kingsbury, who began recruiting Murray during the quarterback’s sophomore year in high school, finally has the man he has wanted to coach.

“He’s been born and bred to do this. I’ve said it all along,” Kingsbury said Friday. “That’s his mentality. That’s what he’s always expected to do and be. So he’s kind of living it out right now. It might affect other people, but it doesn’t seem to affect him.”

With Murray jumping in feet first, there’s no telling how far he’ll take the Cardinals.

–Field Level Media

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Jets’ Gase: RB Bell will be at mandatory minicamp

Jets' Gase: RB Bell will be at mandatory minicamp

Despite raising eyebrows

Jets’ Gase: RB Bell will be at mandatory minicamp

Despite raising eyebrows in the New York media by skipping voluntary team workouts two months after signing a contract with $27 million guaranteed, new Jets running back Le’Veon Bell intends to participate in the team’s mandatory minicamp in June.

According to the New York Daily News, head coach Adam Gase confirmed Friday that his star free agent pickup said he plans to show up when the Jets convene on a mandatory basis from June 4-6.

“We had a conversation about what was kind of his schedule,” Gase said. “We’ll kind of see how the (organized team activities) go. As of right now, I know the mandatory stuff … he said he was going to be here for that. So I don’t expect him to not show up.”

Bell preferred his Miami-area digs for offseason training as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers, including his full year spent in relative exile as a holdout.

The Daily News on Friday characterized the Jets as not “particularly pleased” that Bell, 27, has not shown up for the voluntary portion of the Jets’ offseason schedule, despite most other veterans attending. Earlier this week the former Steelers Pro Bowler explained why he preferred to work out on his own at this time of the year.

“When it’s time to play football…” Bell wrote on Instagram. “I got to stick to the formula that I know works for me to be the best player I can be…I’m not just tryna win football games, I want a ring. I want to desperately show everybody what I can REALLY do…I’ll take the heat right now, everybody will forget about that once January comes around.”

His new coach tried to downplay the situation on Friday.

“It’s voluntary,” Gase said. “Everybody can get upset about it. There’s no point. We know where he is. He’s working out. He’s always been ready. Every year that he’s played, he’s been ready to go. So that’s just what it is. If somebody doesn’t like it, then talk to the NFLPA.”

–Field Level Media

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NFL notebook: Pierre-Paul out at least 5 to 6 months

NFL notebook: Pierre-Paul out at least 5 to 6 months

Tampa Bay

NFL notebook: Pierre-Paul out at least 5 to 6 months

Tampa Bay Buccaneers pass rusher Jason Pierre-Paul will miss five to six months as a best-case scenario due to the broken neck he suffered in a car accident last week, head coach Bruce Arians told reporters on Friday.

A decision on whether Pierre-Paul will need neck surgery hasn’t yet been reached. “Very unfortunate,” Arians said of the situation. “All we can do is just pray and hope for the best and hope it’s one of those five- or six-month things and go from there.”

Pierre-Paul was injured in the early morning hours of May 2 when he lost control of his Ferrari and it veered off the road and crashed into a concrete barrier. It was raining at the time of the accident, according to the crash report. Pierre-Paul was not ticketed at the scene.

The loss of Pierre-Paul would be a big blow as even the hopeful scenario outlined by Arians would have him missing six to 10 games. Not having him at all in 2019 is also possible. Pierre-Paul had a team-best 12.5 sacks last season, his first with the Bucs after playing eight years for the New York Giants.

–If quarterback Kyler Murray’s first day of rookie minicamp with the Arizona Cardinals didn’t start so smoothly, he has an excuse: It must be the shoes. Murray was missing his usual cleats, which weren’t delivered to the practice facility in time for the start of minicamp.

“My feet hurt a little bit,” Murray said. “It’s been a long time since I put cleats on. I’ve been running around. The cleats were pretty new.”

Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury expects the proper pair to arrive by Saturday’s practice, so he wasn’t too worried about Murray’s quick feet. Other than the shoe issue, Murray was happy with his first day, saying “it was great” to work with Kingsbury.

–Despite raising eyebrows in the New York media by skipping voluntary team workouts two months after signing a contract with $27 million guaranteed, new Jets running back Le’Veon Bell intends to participate in the team’s mandatory minicamp in June.

Per the New York Daily News, coach Adam Gase confirmed that his star free agent pickup said he will show up when the Jets convene on a mandatory basis from June 4-6. Bell liked his Miami-area digs for offseason training as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers, including his full year spent in relative exile as a holdout.

The Daily News on Friday characterized the Jets as not “particularly pleased” that Bell, 27, has not shown up for the voluntary portion of the Jets’ offseason schedule, despite most other veterans attending.

–Defensive end Ezekiel Ansah, who has 48 career sacks, officially signed one-year, $9 million contract with the Seattle Seahawks.

The signing of Ansah figures to help make up for the departure of Frank Clark, who was recently dealt to the Kansas City Chiefs after leading the team with 13 sacks last season. Defensive end Nate Orchard was released to open a roster spot for Ansah. The four-year veteran was signed by Seattle last month.

Coming off shoulder surgery after missing nine games in 2018, Ansah expects to be cleared by mid-August, according to the NFL Network. Ansah, who turns 30 on May 29, had four sacks and seven quarterback hits in seven games (two starts) while playing on the franchise tag ($17.1 million) for Detroit last season.

–The New England Patriots agreed to terms with receiver Dontrelle Inman on a one-year deal, according to multiple reports.

Inman, 30, caught 28 passes for 304 yards and three touchdowns in nine games for the Indianapolis Colts last season. Inman’s best season came in 2016, when he established career highs of 58 receptions, 810 yards and four touchdowns for the then-San Diego Chargers.

Inman played for the Chargers from 2014-17 — including four games in 2017 after the move to Los Angeles — and also played for the Chicago Bears (eight games in 2017). He has 158 career receptions for 2,101 yards and 11 scores in 58 games (34 starts).

–Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Kendell Beckwith will miss a second consecutive season after being placed on the reserve/non-football injury list.

Beckwith missed 2018 after having surgery to repair a broken ankle suffered in a single-car accident near his home in Louisiana. According to ESPN, there are fears his injury could be career-ending. He returned to practice late last season, but after three weeks, the team declined to add him to the active roster.

Beckwith, 24, played in all 16 games (11 starts) as a rookie third-round pick in 2017, collecting 73 tackles, two passes defensed and a sack. His NFL debut was his first in-game action since suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in November 2016 during his senior season at LSU.

–Field Level Media

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Kang ties course record with 61, leads Nelson by 4

Kang ties course record with 61, leads Nelson by 4

Kang ties course record with 61, leads Nelson by 4

Competitors awoke Friday to an unusual situation at the AT&T Byron Nelson in Dallas: sweater weather.

It didn’t matter to Sung Kang, the South Korean who now lives in nearby Coppell, Texas. He shot a 10-under 61 at Trinity Forest Golf Club in the second round to tie the course record set last year by Marc Fleishman the first time the course played host to the tournament.

Kang — still seeking his first win on the PGA Tour — holds the lead after two rounds at 16-under 126, getting some serious breathing room from his nearest competitors, Matt Every and Tyler Duncan, who are at 12 under.

“It’s like perfect and awesome,” Kang said of the cool and sometimes windy day at the wide-open course. “Nice conditions for a low score.”

Kang admitted that 59, the PGA record for a round, did cross his mind, but he chose to play conservatively down the stretch rather than risk giving some shots back to the field.

“Conditions were so hard, you try to force it and the course is playing so tough out there,” he said. “So, just try to get the opportunity, probably try to hit it within 15 feet and if I make the putt, good. If I don’t, make par and get me going.

“I still think it was a great round.”

Kang played a bogey-free round, birdieing the opening hole and closing out the front nine with five straight birdies. He made it six in a row with a birdie on No. 10. He birdied all three of the course’s par-5s.

The weather seemed to be a bigger issue for many players.

At least Sweden’s Henrik Stenson, who is at 6-under 136 and tied for 17th, was ready for it.

“Had four layers on and felt a little bit like the Michelin Man,” he said after shooting a 2-under 69.

Dallas native Jordan Spieth was not. He had to call his wife and have her deliver some cool-weather gear after he got a dose of the conditions on the practice range.

“No excuses if you’re in your hometown,” he told reporters with a smile.

Spieth mixed seven birdies with a bogey and double bogey to finish the day 4 under. He is at 7 under through two rounds, in a tie for 10th.

Brooks Koepka is at 11 under after a 66 on Friday. Slovakia’s Rory Sabbatini rounds out the top five, alone at 10 under after firing a 65.

–Field Level Media

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Ansah officially signs with Seahawks

Ansah officially signs with Seahawks

Defensive end Ezekiel Ansah officially signed

Ansah officially signs with Seahawks

Defensive end Ezekiel Ansah officially signed with the Seattle Seahawks on Friday.

Ansah, who has 48 career sacks, reportedly received a one-year, $9 million contract.

“I’m super excited,” Ansah told the team website after signing his contract. “This is a great team. The caliber of players who have been through here, they have a great coach out here, the environment, the organization, it’s just great. I’m just happy to be a part of it.”

The signing of Ansah figures to help make up for the departure of Frank Clark, who was recently dealt to the Kansas City Chiefs after leading the team with 13 sacks last season..

Coming off of shoulder surgery after missing nine games in 2018, Ansah is expected to be cleared by mid-August, according to the NFL Network.

Ansah, who will turn 30 on May 29, had four sacks and seven quarterback hits in seven games (two starts) while playing on the franchise tag ($17.1 million) for the Detroit Lions last season, after posting 12 and 17, respectively, in 2017.

His best season came in 2015, when he had 14.5 sacks and 34 QB hits while earning his only Pro Bowl nod.

Drafted fifth overall by Detroit in 2013, Ansah has 110 quarterback hits in six NFL seasons.

The change of scenery appeals to Ansah.

“I am really motivated right now,” Ansah said. “Not that I wasn’t motivated before, but I’m just super excited to be part of the Seahawks.”

Defensive end Nate Orchard was released to open a roster spot for Ansah. The four-year veteran was signed by Seattle last month.

Orchard has five sacks in 38 NFL games for the Cleveland Browns (2015-17), Buffalo Bills (2018) and Kansas City Chiefs (2018).

–Field Level Media

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Arians: Pierre-Paul out at least 5 to 6 months

Arians: Pierre-Paul out at least 5 to 6 months

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Arians: Pierre-Paul out at least 5 to 6 months

Tampa Bay Buccaneers pass rusher Jason Pierre-Paul will miss five to six months as a best-case scenario due to the broken neck he suffered in a car accident last week.

The best-case scenario was provided by coach Bruce Arians on Friday, when he met with reporters. A decision on whether Pierre-Paul will need neck surgery hasn’t yet been reached.

“Very unfortunate,” Arians said of the situation. “All we can do is just pray and hope for the best and hope it’s one of those five- or six-month things and go from there.”

Pierre-Paul was injured in the early morning hours of May 2 when he lost control of his Ferrari and it veered off the road and crashed into a concrete barrier. It was raining at the time of the accident, according to the crash report.

Pierre-Paul was not ticketed at the scene.

The loss of Pierre-Paul would be a big blow as even the best-case scenario outlined by Arians would have him missing six to 10 games. Not having him at all in 2019 is possible if the timetable worsens.

Pierre-Paul had a team-best 12.5 sacks last season, his first with the Bucs after playing eight years for the New York Giants. The 12.5 sacks tied for his second most behind the 16.5 he had for New York in 2011.

Pierre-Paul has faced adversity before as he was involved in a fireworks accident on July 4, 2015. He lost a finger and part of a second and played in just eight games in the 2015 season.

Arians is still pondering how the Buccaneers would replace Pierre-Paul.

“I don’t know what the answer is yet, if he’s gonna play, if he’s not gonna play,” Arians said. “(You) just practice with the guys you have, just like if anybody else gets hurt, on the field or off the field. You march on.”

–Field Level Media

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Romo misses cut at Byron Nelson

Romo misses cut at Byron Nelson

Tony

Romo misses cut at Byron Nelson

Tony Romo was happy with Friday’s 3-over 74 but the round didn’t prevent him from missing the cut at the AT&T Byron Nelson in Dallas.

Romo shot 8-over 150 in 36 holes in his third PGA Tour event, all due to sponsor’s exemptions.

The former Dallas Cowboys quarterback said he was encouraged by his trek around the course on Friday.

“I think more than anything, I got a sense to be able to hit a lot of high-quality shots under what is a pressure situation for me,” Romo told reporters. “That’s encouraging and shows that the work you’re doing holds up when it counts. And from there, you just got to find the little things that allow you to keep things going and not derail a round. Just small stuff, technique-wise, but we’re coming on.”

Romo shot three birdies, four bogeys and one double-bogey during the second round. He hit nine of 14 fairways.

He felt he performed better than Thursday, when he shot 76 despite recording an eagle-3 on the par-5, seventh hole.

“I hit so many good shots today,” Romo said after Friday’s round. “I mean, I kind of know that the driver is going to be the ability to go low because you have to put yourself in position to attack the pins consistently. I think you found the next step of what we’re going to be working on (with the driver). I think it’s more just your ability to keep your misses small. Out here, golf is a game of misses.”

–Field Level Media

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Bucs LB Beckwith to miss second straight season

Bucs LB Beckwith to miss second straight season

Bucs LB Beckwith to miss second straight season

Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Kendell Beckwith will miss a second consecutive season after being placed on the reserve/non-football injury list on Friday.

Beckwith missed last season after having surgery to repair a fractured ankle suffered in a single-car accident near his home in Louisiana.

According to ESPN, there are fears Beckwith’s ankle injury could be career-ending. He returned to the practice field late last season, but after three weeks the team declined to add him to the active roster.

Beckwith, 24, played in all 16 games (11 starts) as a rookie third-round pick in 2017, collecting 73 tackles, two passes defensed and a sack. His NFL debut was his first in-game action since suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in November of 2016 during his senior season at LSU.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Patriots agree to deal with WR Inman

Report: Patriots agree to deal with WR Inman

The New England

Report: Patriots agree to deal with WR Inman

The New England Patriots agreed to terms with receiver Dontrelle Inman on a one-year deal, according to multiple reports.

Inman reportedly visited the Patriots on Friday and the deal was consummated during his stay.

Inman, 30, caught 28 passes for 304 yards and three touchdowns in nine games for the Indianapolis Colts last season.

Inman’s best season came in 2016 when he established career highs of 58 receptions, 810 yards and four touchdowns for the San Diego Chargers.

Inman played for the Chargers from 2014-17 — including four games in 2017 after the move to Los Angeles — and also played for the Chicago Bears (eight games in 2017).

He has 158 career receptions for 2,101 yards and 11 scores in 58 games (34 starts).

–Field Level Media

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Reports: Dolphins make Howard highest-paid CB

Reports: Dolphins make Howard highest-paid CB

The Miami Dolphins will make

Reports: Dolphins make Howard highest-paid CB

The Miami Dolphins will make Xavien Howard the highest-paid cornerback in NFL history, agreeing to a five-year, $76.5 million extension, multiple outlets reported Thursday.

The deal reportedly includes $46 million in guarantees and $51 million over the first three seasons. Howard, 25, was set to earn $1.3 million in 2019, the final year of a four-year, $6.12 million rookie contract.

Washington’s Josh Norman was previously the NFL’s highest-paid corner at $15 million annually, signing a five-year, $75 million deal in April 2016 after the Carolina Panthers rescinded his franchise tag. Norman’s deal included $36.5 million in guarantees.

A second-round pick (38th overall) by the Dolphins out of Baylor in 2016, Howard tied for the league lead with seven interceptions last season despite missing the final four games to injury, earning the first Pro Bowl nod of his career. He had four interceptions in 2017 and has 31 career pass breakups in 35 games (34 starts).

Various reports earlier this offseason suggested Howard could be traded for the right price, as the Dolphins entered a rebuild under new head coach Brian Flores. Instead, the new deal puts him under contract through 2024.

–Field Level Media

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Rookie signings: Cardinals’ Murray inks $35.1M deal

Rookie signings: Cardinals' Murray inks $35.1M deal

Rookie signings: Cardinals’ Murray inks $35.1M deal

Arizona Cardinals quarterback and No. 1 overall draft pick Kyler Murray signed his rookie contract on Thursday, a four-year deal worth $35.1 million fully guaranteed. Like all first-round pacts, it includes a fifth-year team option.

Murray repaid a $4.66 million signing bonus to the Oakland A’s and, according to The MMQB, turned down more than $18 million in guarantees from the A’s when he announced his full commitment to football instead of baseball. His deal with the Cardinals includes a $23.59 million signing bonus and will count $6.39 million against the cap in 2019.

“This is just the beginning,” Murray told the team’s website. “I plan to work as hard as I can, lead this team to a lot of wins and, hopefully, a lot of rings.”

The Cardinals also signed five other rookie draft picks to four-year deals: CB Byron Murphy (second round), DE Zach Allen (third), WR KeeSean Johnson (seventh), OL Joshua Miles (seventh) and TE Caleb Wilson (seventh).

–The Washington Redskins signed 15th overall pick Dwayne Haskins to his rookie contract, worth $14.4 million over four years with a fifth-year team option.

Haskins was the first quarterback to sign in the first round, hours before the Cardinals announced Murray.

Washington also signed seven other picks to four-year deals: RB Bryce Love (fourth round), OLs Wes Martin (fourth) and Ross Pierschbacher (fourth), LB Cole Holcomb (fifth), WR Kelvin Harmon (sixth), CB Jimmy Moreland (seventh) and OLB Jordan Brailford (seventh).

–The Detroit Lions signed first-round tight end T.J. Hockenson to his rookie contract, which is worth $19.8 million over four years with a fifth-year team option.

Detroit took Hockenson eighth overall last month, making him the first tight end drafted in the top 10 since the Lions took Eric Ebron 10th overall in 2014.

The Lions also signed second-round LB Jahlani Tavai and fifth-round cornerback Amani Oruwariye to four-year deals.

–The Buffalo Bills signed first-round defensive tackle Ed Oliver to his rookie contract, which is worth $19.6 million over four years with a fifth-year team option.

Buffalo took Oliver ninth overall last month.

The team also signed six other draft picks — OT Cody Ford (second round), RB Devin Singletary (third), LB Vosean Joseph (fifth), S Jaquan Johnson (sixth), DE Darryl Johnson (seventh) and TE Tommy Sweeney (seventh) — to four-year deals, leaving TE Dawson Knox (third) as the only unsigned pick in the class.

–The Miami Dolphins signed five draft picks, including first-round defensive tackle Christian Wilkins.

Taken 13th overall, Wilkins’ deal is worth $15.4 million over four years, with a fifth-year team option.

Signed to four-year deals were: LB Andrew Van Ginkel (fifth round), OT Isaiah Prince (sixth) and RBs Chandler Cox (seventh) and Myles Gaskin (seventh).

–The Philadelphia Eagles signed their full five-man draft class, led by first-round offensive tackle Andre Dillard.

Dillard, the 22nd overall pick, will make $12.33 million over four years, with a fifth-year team option.

Signed to four-year deals were: RB Miles Sanders (second round), WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (second), DE Shareef Miller (fourth) and QB Clayton Thorson (fifth).

–The Houston Texans signed first-round offensive tackle Tytus Howard to a four-year deal worth $12.3 million, according to the Houston Chronicle, plus a fifth-year team option.

Howard was drafted 23rd overall.

According to the report, Houston also signed fifth-round DE Charles Omenihu and sixth-round CB Xavier Crawford.

–The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed five of their eight draft picks to four-year deals, including second-round cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting.

Also signing were fourth-round DE Anthony Nelson, K Matt Gay (fifth), WR Scotty Miller (sixth) and DE Terry Beckner (seventh).

–The Carolina Panthers signed five of their seven draft picks, including third-round quarterback Will Grier, to four-year deals.

Also signing were fourth-round OLB Christian Miller, RB Jordan Scarlett (fifth), OT Dennis Daley (sixth) and WR Terry Godwin (seventh).

–Field Level Media

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Bills backup QB Anderson retires

Bills backup QB Anderson retires

Backup quarterback Derek Anderson,

Bills backup QB Anderson retires

Backup quarterback Derek Anderson, who signed with the Buffalo Bills last October, has decided to retire from the NFL, the team announced Thursday.

“Derek let me know a few weeks back that he wasn’t sure if he could be committed (for the season) and wanted to still think about it,” Bills general manager Brandon Beane said in a statement. “So I knew going into the draft that this was something that could potentially happen. But it wasn’t definite. We talked this week and he let me know today that he is going to retire.”

Anderson, 36, a sixth-round pick of the Baltimore Ravens in 2005 who began his NFL career with the Cleveland Browns in 2006, appeared in 78 career games, completing 909 of 1,674 passes for 10,878 yards with 60 touchdowns and 64 interceptions.

He led the Browns to a 10-5 record in 2007 — making the Pro Bowl for the only time in his career — then after two more seasons with the Browns, played for the Arizona Cardinals (2010) and Carolina Panthers (2011-17) before joining the Bills.

Last season, he played in only two games with Buffalo (both starts) and completed 42 of 70 passes for 465 yards with no touchdowns and four interceptions.

Among the remaining Bills quarterbacks are starter Josh Allen and backups Matt Barkley and Tyree Jackson, an undrafted free agent.

–Field Level Media

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McCarthy scorches 63 to lead Byron Nelson by one

McCarthy scorches 63 to lead Byron Nelson by one

McCarthy scorches 63 to lead Byron Nelson by one

Denny McCarthy rebounded from an early setback on Thursday to scorch the final 13 holes at Trinity Forest Golf Club and take a one-stroke lead after one round at the AT&T Byron Nelson in Dallas.

McCarthy leads Tyler Duncan and Tom Hoge by one stroke after shooting 8-under 63.

World No. 3 Brooks Koepka, the highest-ranked player in the field, is one of nine players tied for fourth place after shooting 65. Nine more are another stroke back at 5 under.

McCarthy, a 26-year-old fifth-year pro seeking his first PGA title, opened with three pars before double-bogeying the par-4 sixth, following a penalty off his tee shot. But he responded by starting an incredible run at No. 6, birdieing five straight holes, eight of nine and 10 of 12 to go 10 under across the final 13 holes.

On greens softened by rain, McCarthy attacked pins with deadly accuracy. All 10 birdie putts came from 18 feet or closer, and six game from within nine feet. He also drained an eight-footer for par at the 18th to cap a 6-under 29 on the back nine.

“I’m not the farthest hitter, so the golf course played somewhat long for me, but I really put some work in on my mid-irons, long irons, so gave me a chance to work on those today,” McCarthy told reporters afterward. “Hit a lot of great ones today.”

McCarthy, who has one Web.com Tour victory, has missed six cuts in 12 PGA Tour tournaments since late January, including last week at the Wells Fargo Championship. His only finish better than 26th this year came when he tied for ninth at the Valspar Championship in March.

“I’ve kind of been looking for a round like this just to kind of get me going,” he said. “I know I can be out here playing with the best, and today kind of showed that. It’s a good start but still have three more days to go.”

Duncan started on the back nine and also had a hot finish, playing his final nine holes at 6 under with the help of an eagle at the par-4 fifth. Hoge had a bogey-free day with seven birdies.

Koepka also started on the back nine and was 6 under through 14 holes before finishing bogey-birdie-birdie-bogey.

“I’m pleased with the way I played,” Koepka said afterward. “What I did there on 6 … just hit a flyer from the middle of the fairway, and 9, didn’t hit a good shot. Other than that, I struck the ball beautifully.”

Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo shot 5-over 76 and is tied for 148th in the 155-person field. He opened with a birdie and got as low as 2 under with an eagle at the par-5 seventh, but he double-bogeyed Nos. 9 and 13 before three bogeys in the final four holes.

Defending champion Aaron Wise is tied for 55th after shooting 69.

D.J. Trahan withdrew after eight holes.

–Field Level Media

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Seahawks release injured WR Baldwin, S Chancellor

Seahawks release injured WR Baldwin, S Chancellor

Seahawks release injured WR Baldwin, S Chancellor

The Seattle Seahawks officially severed ties with two longtime standouts who are expected to retire due to health concerns, waiving wideout Doug Baldwin and safety Kam Chancellor with failed physical designations.

“The Seahawks have made the difficult decision to terminate/failed physical Doug Baldwin and Kam Chancellor,” general manager John Schneider said in a statement. “These are two of the most iconic players in franchise history and both were instrumental in establishing our championship culture, great examples of competitiveness and leadership on the field and in the community.

“These legendary players will always be a part of our Seahawks family.”

The news was expected for the 31-year-old Chancellor, who sat out all of last season with a neck injury that was described as career ending.

Baldwin’s playing future was revealed to be in doubt during the draft in late April, when ESPN reported the 30-year-old receiver might have already played his final game, due to an accumulation of injuries.

Baldwin is recovering from three offseason surgeries — on his knee, shoulder and abdomen — after battling nagging injuries throughout the 2018 campaign. Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll appeared to be holding out hope Baldwin could keep playing, before Thursday’s news.

NFL Network reports Baldwin is “leaning toward” retirement, with his release allowing him to keep his signing bonus and possibly future injury-protection money.

An undrafted free agent out of Stanford in 2011, Baldwin had 493 catches for 6,563 yards and 49 touchdowns in eight seasons with the Seahawks, reaching the Pro Bowl in 2016 and 2017 and playing in 123 of a possible 128 games (90 starts). He ranks third in team history in catches and yards and second in receiving touchdowns.

Chancellor was a fifth-round pick by Seattle in 2010 and went on to make four Pro Bowls, intercepting 12 passes and breaking up 44 in 109 career games (93 starts) across eight seasons before missing 2018.

Both players were a part of the Super Bowl XLVIII winning team and the squad that lost Super Bowl XLIV to the New England Patriots a year later.

–Field Level Media

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Seahawks sign CB Taylor, FB Bellore

Seahawks sign CB Taylor, FB Bellore

Cornerback Jamar Taylor agreed to a one-year deal with the Seattle

Seahawks sign CB Taylor, FB Bellore

Cornerback Jamar Taylor agreed to a one-year deal with the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday.

Taylor, a nickel cornerback, follows defensive end Ziggy Ansah as another potential value find deep into free agency.

Ansah, the fifth overall pick in the 2013 draft, was due in Seattle on Thursday to a sign a one-year deal that could be worth $8 million. However, Ansah is still recovering from offseason shoulder surgery and might not be cleared until August.

Taylor, 28, is a former second-round pick of the Miami Dolphins out of Boise State but has bounced around from Miami to the Cleveland Browns, Arizona Cardinals and Denver Broncos, where he ended last season.

The Seahawks lost cornerback Justin Coleman (Detroit Lions) in free agency.

Seattle also announced the signings of fullback Nick Bellore and guard Marcus Martin.

–Field Level Media

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NFL notebook: Seahawks officially cut ties with Baldwin, Chancellor

NFL notebook: Seahawks officially cut ties with Baldwin, Chancellor

NFL notebook: Seahawks officially cut ties with Baldwin, Chancellor

The Seattle Seahawks officially severed ties with two longtime standouts who are expected to retire due to health concerns, waiving wideout Doug Baldwin and safety Kam Chancellor with failed physical designations.

“The Seahawks have made the difficult decision to terminate/failed physical Doug Baldwin and Kam Chancellor,” general manager John Schneider said in a statement. “These are two of the most iconic players in franchise history and both were instrumental in establishing our championship culture, great examples of competitiveness and leadership on the field and in the community.

“These legendary players will always be a part of our Seahawks family.”

The news was expected for the 31-year-old Chancellor, who sat out all of last season with a neck injury that was described as career ending. Baldwin’s playing future was revealed to be in doubt during the draft in late April, when ESPN reported the 30-year-old receiver might have already played his final game, due to an accumulation of injuries.

–Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith said he won’t play the 2019 season for personal reasons, writing on Instagram, “I must take time away from this game & get my world in order.”

A full-time starter the past four seasons and a 2017 Pro Bowler, Smith affirmed he doesn’t plan to play for any team other than the Jaguars, despite rumors of a possible trade. The 28-year-old was set to earn a base salary of $9.75 million this season.

The Jaguars issued a statement, reading, “We will not have a comment about Telvin Smith’s statement at this time. We need to have a conversation with Telvin to understand the situation and the circumstances. If there is a way we can support him we need to understand that.”

–Tight end Benjamin Watson plans to end his short-lived retirement and sign with the team that drafted him, the New England Patriots, multiple media outlets reported.

According to ESPN, Watson will sign a one-year, $3 million deal.

Watson, 38, was drafted 32nd overall by the Patriots in 2004. He played six seasons in New England, followed by three in Cleveland, and spent four of the last five in New Orleans.

–The Carolina Panthers will receive $120 million in tax breaks if they move their facility to South Carolina, after the state’s Senate approved a bill by a 27-15 vote.

Under the bill, which Gov. Henry McMaster is expected to sign, the Panthers would be exempt from paying state income taxes for players, coaches and other employees for 15 years, assuming that money is used toward a new complex in South Carolina.

Currently based in Charlotte, N.C., the team has been planning a 200-acre development in Rock Hill, S.C., about 25 miles south of its current facilities next to Bank of America Stadium, though it will continue to play games in Charlotte.

–The Miami Dolphins signed former Buffalo Bills tackle Jordan Mills to a one-year deal, which ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported is worth $3 million.

Mills, 28, started all 48 games over the past three seasons and has appeared in 87 games (82 starts) for the Chicago Bears (2013-14) and Bills (2015-18).

Mills played 95.5 percent of Buffalo’s offensive snaps (1,011 total) at right tackle last season and was penalized five times — three for holding and two false starts.

–The Jaguars released backup quarterback Cody Kessler and linebacker Blair Brown.

Kessler, who turns 26 on Saturday, was 2-2 as a starter for Jacksonville last season. He completed 64.9 percent of his passes for 709 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.

Brown was a fifth-round pick in 2017. He has 12 career tackles in 28 games (two starts), with 495 of his 548 career snaps on special teams.

–The Seahawks signed cornerback Jamar Taylor, fullback Nick Bellore and guard Marcus Martin.

Taylor, 28, is a former second-round pick who has bounced around from Miami to the Cleveland Browns, Arizona Cardinals and Denver Broncos in recent years.

Bellore started four of 14 games for the Lions last year. Martin has not played in a regular-season game since 2016.

–Backup quarterback Derek Anderson, who signed with the Bills last season, has decided to retired from the NFL, the team announced Thursday.

“Derek let me know a few weeks back that he wasn’t sure if he could be committed [for the season] and wanted to still think about it,” Bills general manager Brandon Beane said in a statement. “So I knew going into the draft that this was something that could potentially happen. But it wasn’t definite. We talked this week and he let me know today that he is going to retire.”

Anderson, who began his NFL career with the Browns in 2006, appeared in 78 games, completing 909 of 1,674 passes for 10,878 yards, with 60 touchdowns and 64 interceptions.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Dolphins make Howard highest-paid CB

Report: Dolphins make Howard highest-paid CB

The Miami Dolphins have will

Report: Dolphins make Howard highest-paid CB

The Miami Dolphins have will make cornerback Xavien Howard the highest-paid cornerback in NFL history, agreeing to a five-year, $76.5 million extension, multiple outlets reported Thursday.

The deal reportedly includes $46 million in guarantees and $51 million over the first three seasons. Howard, 25, was set to earn $1.3 million in 2019, the final year of a four-year, $6.12 million rookie contract.

Washington’s Josh Norman was previously the NFL’s highest-paid corner at $15 million annually, signing a five-year, $75 million deal in April 2016 after the Carolina Panthers rescinded his franchise tag. Norman’s deal included $36.5 million in guarantees.

A second-round pick (38th overall) by the Dolphins out of Baylor in 2016, Howard tied for the league lead with seven interceptions last season despite missing the final four games to injury, earning the first Pro Bowl nod of his career. He had four interceptions in 2017 and has 31 career pass breakups in 35 games (34 starts).

Various reports earlier this offseason suggested Howard could be traded for the right price, as the Dolphins entered a rebuild under new head coach Brian Flores. Instead, the new deal puts him under contract through 2024.

–Field Level Media

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Panthers offered $120M to move facility to S.C.

Panthers offered $120M to move facility to S.C.

The Carolina Panthers will receive $120 million in tax breaks if they move

Panthers offered $120M to move facility to S.C.

The Carolina Panthers will receive $120 million in tax breaks if they move their facility to South Carolina, after the state’s Senate approved a bill Thursday by a 27-15 vote.

Under the bill, which Gov. Henry McMaster is expected to sign, the Panthers would be exempt from paying state income taxes for players, coaches and other employees for 15 years, assuming that money is used toward a new complex in South Carolina.

Currently based in Charlotte, N.C., the team has been planning a 200-acre development in Rock Hill, S.C., about 25 miles south of its current facilities next to Bank of America Stadium. The development plans include expansive football facilities as part of a broader campus with hotels, shopping and restaurants.

The bill was supported by McMaster, but many senators pushed back against the idea of giving public funds to a team owned by David Tepper, whose net worth is estimated at $11.6 billion.

“We’d like to be there. Hopefully they help us out there,” Tepper told reporters Wednesday of the potential facility in Rock Hill. “But I could be with a (practice) bubble and a cafeteria in Charlotte, too. So it’s up to them.”

Now the path appears clear for the Panthers to proceed with the planned move, which is not expected until at least 2022. The team will continue to play games at Bank of America Stadium, its home since its second season in 1996.

Tepper also told reporters Wednesday he hopes to bring a Major League Soccer team to the area eventually, potentially housing it on the same campus in Rock Hill.

–Field Level Media

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