FLM ALL 32: Team-by-team notes

FLM ALL 32: Team-by-team notes

AFC NORTH

Baltimore Ravens: New running back Ty Montgomery had such a whirlwind week that he wasn’t even sure what state he was in when media flooded the Ravens’ locker room on Wednesday. Montgomery, who fumbled the kickoff preceding a potential game-tying or game-winning possession with the Packers on Sunday, returned to Green Bay facing threats against his family. On Tuesday he learned he was traded to Baltimore for a seventh-round draft pick. “This whole part of the country kind of throws me for a loop. I don’t know if I’m in Virginia or what,” Montgomery said. Now it’s up to the Ravens to help him get his footing in an offense lacking explosive plays, including only one 20-yard run — a 22-yard scramble by rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson — this season. “He’s one of those guys who can do a variety of things,” quarterback Joe Flacco said.

Cincinnati Bengals: Head coach Marvin Lewis didn’t mince words about a preliminary self-scout of the team entering its bye week. Lewis excused players until early next week but said there is a lot of work to be done upon their return. “The opportunity for us to evaluate comes at a good time, and to have the guys understand their responsibilities. (The bye week) will be a good time for that,” Lewis said. “I’m very disappointed in the way we’ve played the past two weeks.” At 5-3, the Bengals return from their open week to host the New Orleans Saints in Week 10. Even with extra time to prepare, that could be a rugged way to return for a defense that has allowed 500 yards in consecutive games for the first time in team history.

Cleveland Browns: Swagger was underlined in boldface type on general manager John Dorsey’s final scouting report of No. 1 overall draft pick Baker Mayfield. Not only was his sparkplug energy evident on the field, but in face-to-face interviews with representatives in the Browns’ organization, Mayfield came through as an undisputed charismatic leader and face of the franchise. With head coach Hue Jackson fired Monday and a new offensive staff climbing the ladder to replace Todd Haley, Mayfield was asked Wednesday if he can be the player to lead the Browns from their nearly two-decades long malaise. “Bring it on,” Mayfield said. “With all the distractions, we will see what kind of men we have in this room — not what kind of team that we have but what kind of men can handle a distraction the right way — can come together and focus on doing their job and doing it at a high level against a great team (the Kansas City Chiefs) on Sunday.”

Pittsburgh Steelers: Playing with a broken finger can present major challenges for a quarterback, and Ben Roethlisberger will attempt to do just that at Baltimore on Sunday. Cold weather would complicate matters, but the midweek forecast in Maryland called for mid-50s and dry weather at gametime. Roethisberger could wear a glove on his left hand to protect the broken index finger but was mostly effective in the second half last week. “I’m not anticipating it being an issue for him in play or in-game,” head coach Mike Tomlin said.

NFC NORTH

Chicago Bears: Since failing on six of their first 10 possessions in the red zone, the Bears are 12 of 15 inside the opponent’s 20 in the past four games. Head coach Matt Nagy dedicates a portion of Friday practice to working on plays he’s prone to call in the red zone, and quarterback Mitchell Trubisky is now finding the red zone to be his comfort zone. “That’s something we’ve just gotten a lot better at with our mentality, our focus. Then we realize once we get down there, the really good offenses in this league, they take advantage of that and they finish with touchdowns and not settling for field goals,” Trubisky said Wednesday. “So I think it’s a result of just focus and execution and making the transition from great practices and transitioning it over to the game.”

Detroit Lions: Trading leading receiver Golden Tate was not part of the plan for 2018, but when they were offered a third-round pick for a veteran with an expiring contract, general manager Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia were reminded of the big-picture pledge that trumped all in New England. The former Patriots’ employees unloaded Tate knowing they could fill his spot on the current roster with Kenny Golloday — albeit without a certainty Tate’s production could be filled right away. “The biggest point for me that I want to make sure people understand is this also shows a lot of confidence in the people in that room. There’s great players in that room and there’s a lot of them,” Patricia said. “There’s a lot of guys who have an opportunity to make plays and go out there and play at a high level. And we’re all good with that from that standpoint.”

Green Bay Packers: Aaron Rodgers didn’t hold back when the Packers and new general manager Brian Gutekunst released wide receiver Jordy Nelson and made additional moves that didn’t bring in immediate help. With two regulars, running back Ty Montgomery and safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix shipped out of Green Bay on Tuesday, Rodgers was again asked about taking the field this week knowing the team subtracted talent. “You have to trust what Brian and his staff are doing,” Rodgers said. “I think there’s been good communication with those guys about what we need and what’s in the best interest of the team with Mike (McCarthy), but I’m not privy to those conversations. The conversations I’m concerned about are the ones in the locker room and how our locker room’s doing. We’ve got to make it work. That’s the way it goes in this league. It’s a tough business from a friendship standpoint. You lose guys every single year.”

Minnesota Vikings: As the Vikings prepare for the Lions, rookie running back Kerryon Johnson is jumping off the film for Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer. “I think they’re more committed to running the football, number one. He has been running the ball extremely effective,” he said of Johnson. “I’m not sure it’s changed the run game all that much. There is a lot of similar runs they’ve had in the past but they’re much more effective at it. He is good. Very good. Runs hard, speed to the perimeter, catches the ball well, has been good in protection. He is a good back.”

AFC SOUTH

Houston Texans: Demaryius Thomas practiced Wednesday for the first time since being acquired from the Denver Broncos. Ironically, his first game with the Texans will be Sunday against the Broncos in Denver. After passing his Wednesday morning physical, Thomas turned his focus on learning the Houston offense as rapidly as possible. “My main thing is when I am in or when I get a chance, just know what I’m doing,” Thomas said. “Don’t go out and have mistakes to possibly hurt our team. Just getting into my playbook, doing everything the way that I’m supposed to correctly, trying to help us out to get a W.” Thomas caught 665 passes for 9,055 yards and 60 touchdowns in 8 1/2 seasons with the Broncos before being dealt to Houston on Tuesday.

Indianapolis Colts: Receiver Dontrelle Inman made six catches in last Sunday’s win over the Oakland Raiders and will have a chance to carve out a role. The 29-year-old Inman didn’t go to training camp with any team this summer and signed with the Colts on Oct. 16. “I was just waiting for the best opportunity for me, me and my family, and here it is,” Inman told the Indianapolis Star. “If you believe in who you are, believe in the people that surround you and support you, good things will happen.” A key factor leading to the signing of Inman was first-year Colts head coach Frank Reich, who was with the then-San Diego Chargers from 2013-15, the last two seasons as offensive coordinator. Inman played first three NFL seasons with the Chargers in 2014-16.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Jacksonville has a bye this week after four consecutive losses. Due to concern with Blake Bortles’ tender left shoulder, the club signed quarterback Landry Jones on Wednesday. Though the injury to Bortles’ non-throwing shoulder isn’t considered severe, the Jaguars wanted to add a third quarterback just in case he experiences a setback. Jones spent five seasons as a reserve with the Pittsburgh Steelers and passed for 1,310 yards, eight touchdowns and seven interceptions in 19 career games. Second-year pro Cody Kessler is the backup to Bortles, who has started 69 consecutive contests. The Jaguars meet the Indianapolis Colts following their bye.

Tennessee Titans: Quarterback Marcus Mariota has regained feeling in the fingers of his throwing hand and is leaning toward not wearing a glove when the Titans face the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night. Mariota has been bothered by numbness and loss of feeling since injuring his elbow against the Miami Dolphins in the opening week of the season. He hasn’t made excuses, despite the obvious issues with gripping the football, and he has just three touchdown passes against five interceptions as the Titans repeatedly have struggled in the red zone. “I think it’s execution,” Mariota said. “Making plays really, we haven’t been very good down there. Yes, I give credit to the defenses that we’ve played. They’ve found ways to hold us out of the end zone. For what it’s worth, that’s what it is. We have to find ways to improve and get better.”

NFC SOUTH

Atlanta Falcons: It might be tough sledding on the ground against the Washington Redskins for an Atlanta team that has lost two starting offensive linemen for the season in right guard Brandon Fusco (ankle) and left guard Andy Levitre (triceps) and remains without its top running back in Devonta Freeman (groin). Washington ranks second in the NFL in rushing defense (80.1 yards per game) while the Falcons are just 30th in rushing offense (83.3). “So just because they’re good at (defending) the run, doesn’t mean we can’t try,” Atlanta coach Dan Quinn said. “We’re going to run the ball, knowing that’s an important part of what we do as well. They just happen to be one of the very best at defending it. That doesn’t mean that we don’t go down that road.”

Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton is being mentioned as an MVP candidate after throwing 13 touchdown passes against four interceptions while guiding the team to a 5-2 start. Newton, who was the NFL MVP in 2015, is completing a career-high 66.4 percent of his throws. But Panthers coach Ron Rivera isn’t ready to say his star quarterback is back in his 2015 form — a season in which Carolina reached the Super Bowl. “The proof will be in the pudding when we get to the end of the year,” Rivera said. “We’ll see. He is playing well, and I think we are playing well as a unit.”

New Orleans Saints: Quarterback Drew Brees is the NFL’s all-time leader in career passing yardage (72,435) but he has never won the MVP award during his stellar career. Brees finished second three times (2006, 2009, 2011) and is back in the conversation this season due to his stellar campaign and the Saints’ 6-1 start. This Sunday’s showdown with the Los Angeles Rams could play a part in how the MVP race plays out as unbeaten Los Angeles has two candidates in running back Todd Gurley and quarterback Jared Goff. Brees is completing a stunning 77.4 percent of his throws for 1,990 yards and 14 touchdowns against only one interception.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The benching of quarterback Jameis Winston (10 interceptions in four games) is making the seat hotter for third-year coach Dirk Koetter. A big reason why Koetter ascended to the head-coaching position was his work with Winston as the offensive coordinator. Veteran right tackle Demar Dotson is among the players that can see the big picture with the team sitting at 3-4. “It’s his third year. He’s got to prove that he should continue to coach,” Dotson told reporters. “I love Dirk … but if we don’t win for Dirk, he’ll probably be without a job.” Ryan Fitzpatrick is back as the starting quarterback and the Bucs are hoping he can produce more “FitzMagic” like he did when he began the campaign by becoming the first quarterback in NFL history to record three straight 400-yard passing games.

AFC EAST

Buffalo Bills: The Bills are averaging just 10.9 points per game — that’s less than a third of what Kansas City averages — and their scoring prospects are dim with a number of players, including quarterback Josh Allen, sidelined by injury. But head coach Sean McDermott told reporters Wednesday that he’s encouraged, despite the team’s 2-6 record. “I’ve been a part of … once in Philadelphia, once in Carolina, I’ve been a part of this before. You know, there’s challenging moments, especially early. It’s always a challenge,” he said. “… I know we’re getting it turned in the right direction, and I have a vision for this football team. … I know it’s frustrating for our fan base. But I know we’re doing things that are right that are going to lead us to that [success] down the road.”

Miami Dolphins: Brock Osweiler will start Sunday against the Jets as Ryan Tannehill continues to recover from a shoulder injury. And he told reporters Wednesday that he intends to show head coach Adam Gase that he should stay the starter, even when Tannehill is cleared to play. “I think your mentality in this league is when you get your opportunity to play, you never give that guy his job back,” said Osweiler, who is 1-2 as a starter this season. He added: “Every single week is the biggest game out there because this sport is so special and you never know when you’re going to get another opportunity. So when you do get the opportunity, shoot, I play every single play like it’s my last,” said Osweiler, who has six touchdowns, three interceptions and 895 passing yards this season. “I put laser focus on every single play, and I’m playing as hard as I possibly can so hopefully I never have to go back to the bench.”

New England Patriots: The Patriots meet Green Bay on Sunday night, and they have the Packers’ No. 12 clearly in their sights. “Um, where do I start?” linebackers coach Brian Flores said Wednesday before practice, discussing how the Patriots will prepare for quarterback Aaron Rodgers. “You know, great command of the offense. This is as big a challenge that we’ve had since I’ve been here, which is a long time now. He’s an incredible leader, tough. You see him get carted off in the Chicago game, come back and bring them back from 20 points down. You know, they are never out of the game with him leading the charge. It’s an incredible challenge for us. We’re going to have our hands full for sure. It’s not just Aaron Rodgers, you know, their entire group: the O-Line, backs and tight ends, you know, everybody makes plays on this offense. … We’re going to have to be at the top of our game. ”

New York Jets: Former Jets wide receiver Terrelle Pryor, who signed with the Bills on Tuesday, told reporters Wednesday he didn’t think the Jets used him as much as they should have. The Jets released Pryor on Oct. 20, citing a groin tear, but he said he was going to miss only a game. “Let’s shut that one down how I was [going to be] out for five or six games,” he said. “I was going to miss a game, and then I got cut. So I guess, I don’t know if I wasn’t a part of their plan, or whatever it was.” He said he brought value to the Jets and will to any team. “I can ball,” he said. “I can ball, bro. I’m not being cocky. I just know how I study, how I work, and how I practice. I compete at a high level. I expect high things from myself.”

NFC EAST

Dallas Cowboys: Veteran linebacker Sean Lee, in a wide-ranging Q&A with the Star-Telegram, said he doesn’t think Cowboys are out of the race to win the NFC East, despite being 3-4 and trailing both the Redskins and Eagles. “It is close. We still have a lot of season left. We have to start winning those close games. If we want to win the NFC East we have to win close games in the division … make more plays down the stretch to really help us. Everything is ahead of us with the conference being tight. Two or three games were really close and we didn’t win. If we can win those games we’re in a great position right now so let’s find a way to win those games.”

New York Giants: The Giants are 1-7, but safety Landon Collins said he’s happy to be part of the team and glad the rumors he was about to be traded didn’t turn out to be true. “Honestly it’s always been my dream to be one of those guys like LT (Lawrence Taylor), Michael Strahan, those guys that finish their years on one team,” Collins said on ESPN Radio in New York on Tuesday. “It’s a dream of mine to do that. If I can, it’s a blessing in my eyes.” He said he was surprised his name had come up in trade talk, and he was nervous whenever his phone buzzed on Tuesday. “I looked at my phone,” Collins said, “and thought, ‘Oh God.'” According to SNY, many teams inquired about a trade for Collins but couldn’t meet the Giants’ demand for a pair of draft picks.

Philadelphia Eagles: It’s Halloween, but Eagles running back Wendell Smallwood sounded like a kid excited about a new toy on Christmas morning when he spoke on a national radio show Wednesday morning about newly acquired wide receiver Golden Tate. “I believe he’s going to help out our offense tremendously,” Smallwood said on Taz & The Moose. “I know he’s a competitor. We played him in Detroit, and what he’s been doing for years, we know he’s a dominant receiver. He just brings another piece to this offense. I think we’re going to get explosive plays out of him. It’s just great to have him. I can’t wait to compete with him.”

Washington Redskins: Head coach Jay Gruden isn’t exactly hiding his game plan. It consists of Adrian Peterson … and Adrian Peterson. “Well, I think his production has been such that we’ve continued to run the ball,” Gruden said about Peterson, 33. “When you have success running the football, you’re not just going to stop running it, you are going to keep running it, especially with a guy that is hot like he is right now.” Peterson can owe some of his success to the offensive line and the run blockers, Gruden said. “Our offensive line, tight ends, receivers are doing an excellent job blocking for him and we’re getting some big hits, staying on track for the most part. We’ve added some RPO type things, which we’ve ended up handing off a lot of them. I don’t foresee any major changes to our game plan. He’s going to be a major part of it.” On the season, Peterson has rushed for 587 yards (4.6 yards per carry) and has four touchdowns.

AFC WEST

Denver Broncos: With Demaryius Thomas suddenly on the opposite sideline for Sunday’s game, cornerback Chris Harris Jr. isn’t worried about handling the new Houston Texans wideout. Asked who has the advantage between the two, Harris replied, “Me.” Why? “Because I’m that good,” Harris said. Harris also said he’s excited about the possible season debut of safety Su’a Cravens, who is on track to be activated from injured reserve for Sunday’s game. “He’s a playmaker,” Harris said of Cravens. “To get a guy who is a big body like him — he’s a great blitzer, he can play the run, and also he’s a big-bodied guy who can also guard the tight end … he’s going to be huge.”

Kansas City Chiefs: With the Chiefs visiting this week, Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield told reporters Wednesday that Patrick Mahomes probably should have been Cleveland’s No. 1 overall pick in 2017 based “on talent” over actual pick Myles Garrett. Asked about those comments, Mahomes said he’d have loved to have gone first overall but always hoped to end up in Kansas City. “I mean, I’m glad I’m here,” he said. “For sure. You want to be the number one draft pick. You want to be that guy. I think they got a good guy in Myles Garrett. He’s pretty talented I would say from watching film. It’s awesome for him to say that, but I know now that we are both happy with the situations we’re in.”

Los Angeles Chargers: Sunday’s game at Seattle will mark Philip Rivers’ 200th consecutive regular-season start, the fourth-longest streak in NFL history. Rivers told reporters on Wednesday that he once had his sights set on Brett Favre’s record streak of 297, but added with a laugh, “I’m not gonna get there.” Still, he said it’s “pretty cool” to hit 200 in a row. “Obviously the two Mannings and Favre have started more than 200 in a row,” he said. “And I just feel thankful. I think there’s a small element of toughness involved, but then again, shoot, lots of prayers for me from many people on Sundays.” Rivers needs 10 more regular-season starts to pass Peyton Manning (208) and 12 more to pass Eli Manning (210) on the list.

Oakland Raiders: With 49ers quarterback C.J. Beathard (throwing wrist) banged up and questionable for Thursday night’s game, the Raiders could be facing second-year undrafted QB Nick Mullens, who never has appeared in an NFL game. Head coach Jon Gruden told reporters Wednesday “you never underestimate anybody in this league” and added that who plays quarterback is less important than Kyle Shanahan’s scheme. ” You have to prepare for this running game and everything that comes off of it,” Gruden said. “If you can’t stop the running game against Shanahan, you got no chance, because they have as good of move-the-pocket system and play-action system as there is in the league.”

NFC WEST

Arizona Cardinals: Despite a slow start in his first game as offensive coordinator, Byron Leftwich finally got the offense going as the Cardinals rallied for 15 fourth-quarter points Sunday and an 18-15 victory over the 49ers. Leftwich told reporters he wasn’t worried about the early struggles. “Oh, no, there was no second-guessing,” he said. “Every time you call one (play), you think that’s the one. And when it’s not, the key is for the guys to keep fighting. Our guys just kept fighting.” Arizona now hits its bye week, giving Leftwich a bit more time to settle into his role after he had 10 days to prepare for his first game as interim coordinator. “It gives me some time to tweak things here and there, to see it my way,” he said.

Los Angeles Rams: A day after the Rams traded third- and fifth-round picks for Dante Fowler Jr., Sean McVay and the Rams’ coaches intended to get the pass rusher plenty of mental reps with an eye on having him contribute on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints. “We feel like he’s gonna help us, specifically from a rush perspective,” McVay said. “Got him in here, and we’ll see how quickly he can get up to speed, if he’s going to be able to contribute and help us this weekend. But we’re excited to get Dante here.” Fowler is used to a rotational, pass-rush specific role, having started just one of 39 games in his career with the Jaguars. He has two sacks through seven games after totaling eight last season.

San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers are limping into their Thursday night battle with the Bay Area rival Oakland Raiders, as linebacker Reuben Foster (hamstring) and safeties Jaquiski Tartt (shoulder) and Antone Exum Jr. (concussion) have been ruled out. Six others are questionable, including starting quarterback C.J. Beathard (throwing wrist), running backs Matt Breida (ankle) and Raheem Mostert (ankle), wideout Pierre Garcon (shoulder, knee), center Weston Richburg (knee) and cornerback Richard Sherman (calf, heel). If Beathard can’t go, second-year undrafted man Nick Mullens would make his NFL debut and start at quarterback, with Tom Savage serving as the backup.

Seattle Seahawks: Though the Seahawks released wide receiver Brandon Marshall on Tuesday, coach Pete Carroll said the move had more to do with Seattle’s roster needs than the 34-year-old’s ability to play in his 13th NFL season. “He was a great pro for us,” Carroll said. “He did such good stuff. Helped guys on both sides of the football with all his experience and all that. He’s in terrific shape for this stage of his career. He can still play. It just happened that we looked at the roster. … There’s just not enough throws to get it to him, but he can play.” Carroll didn’t rule out the possibility of bringing Marshall back at a later date.

–Field Level Media

Report: Kubiak will not join new Denver staff

Report: Kubiak will not join new Denver staff

Gary

Report: Kubiak will not join new Denver staff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–Field Level Media

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Report: NFL could move AFC title game from Chargers’ stadium

Report: NFL could move AFC title game from Chargers' stadium

Report: NFL could move AFC title game from Chargers’ stadium

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

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

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

The league discussed the possibility of where the Chargers would host a potential title game when they were vying with the Chiefs for the No. 1 seed, but that talk died down when the Chargers landed as a wild-card team, CBS’ Jason LaCanfora reported.

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

–Field Level Media

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Report: Dolphins zero in on Pats’ Flores for HC

Report: Dolphins zero in on Pats' Flores for HC

The Miami Dolphins appear

Report: Dolphins zero in on Pats’ Flores for HC

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

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

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

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

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

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

–Field Level Media

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Cardinals hire ex-Broncos coach Joseph as DC

Cardinals hire ex-Broncos coach Joseph as DC

Former Denver Broncos head coach Vance Joseph will

Cardinals hire ex-Broncos coach Joseph as DC

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

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

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

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

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

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

–Field Level Media

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Ravens name Roman offensive coordinator

Ravens name Roman offensive coordinator

Ravens name Roman offensive coordinator

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

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

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

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

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

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

–Field Level Media

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Svensson shoots career-low 61 to lead Sony Open

Svensson shoots career-low 61 to lead Sony Open

Svensson shoots career-low 61 to lead Sony Open

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–Field Level Media

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–Field Level Media

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Reports: Bengals hope to hire Rams QB coach Taylor

Reports: Bengals hope to hire Rams QB coach Taylor

The Cincinnati Bengals would like to

Reports: Bengals hope to hire Rams QB coach Taylor

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

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

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

A former Nebraska quarterback, Taylor is in his first year as QBs coach with the Rams after spending 2017 as assistant wide receivers coach. He also coached for the Miami Dolphins, one year as assistant quarterbacks coach (2012), three as quarterbacks coach (2013-15) and part of the 2015 season as interim offensive coordinator.

NFL Network earlier Thursday that the Bengals told several assistant coaches they would not be returning, as the team’s next head coach has other assistants in mind to replace them. That indicated the hire would come from outside the organization.

Other candidates for Cincinnati job include Hue Jackson — who joined the Bengals midseason after being fired as the Cleveland Browns’ head coach — former Broncos head coach Vance Joseph, Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy and former Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Todd Monken.

Taylor would be the third head coach hired during this cycle who has ties to McVay.

New Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur spent 2017 as the Rams’ offensive coordinator under McVay.

Meanwhile, McVay offered Kingsbury a job on L.A.’s staff for the remainder of the 2018 season after the latter was fired by Texas Tech. Kingsbury instead joined the University of Southern California as offensive coordinator before getting the Cardinals’ job a month later.

Taylor’s brother, Press Taylor, is in his first season as the Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterbacks coach.

–Field Level Media

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NFL notebook: Bengals hope to hire Rams QB coach Taylor

NFL notebook: Bengals hope to hire Rams QB coach Taylor

The Cincinnati Bengals would

NFL notebook: Bengals hope to hire Rams QB coach Taylor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–Field Level Media

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Reports: Browns interview OC Cooter, DC Joseph

Reports: Browns interview OC Cooter, DC Joseph

The Cleveland Browns have yet to officially announce

Reports: Browns interview OC Cooter, DC Joseph

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–Field Level Media

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Reports: Browns interview Cooter, Monken, Joseph

Reports: Browns interview Cooter, Monken, Joseph

The Cleveland Browns have yet to officially announce Freddie

Reports: Browns interview Cooter, Monken, Joseph

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–Field Level Media

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Jets QB Darnold strongly supports hiring of Gase

Jets QB Darnold strongly supports hiring of Gase

Jets QB Darnold strongly supports hiring of Gase

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

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

Darnold had an up-and-down 2018 rookie season (17 touchdown passes, 15 interceptions) with the Jets, who finished 4-12 and ranked 29th in total offense. He also supported former Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Todd Monken, but said he thought the team made the right choice with Gase, the former Miami Dolphins head coach who was fired on Dec. 31 after they finished 7-9 and ranked 31st in total offense.

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

If there was a backlash by fans about the Jets’ decision to hire Gase, Darnold expects it to subside, saying, “I don’t think they’ll be upset when we start winning games.”

Eight known candidates interviewed for the position, including former Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy. It came down to a final four: Gase, Monken, McCarthy and Baylor coach Matt Rhule.

“Adam is an awesome dude. First of all, a really trustworthy guy,” Darnold said of Gase, who previously worked with Peyton Manning, Jay Cutler and Ryan Tannehill. “He just knows ball. He knows football. He’s very, very passionate about it. I think that’s what’s going to be awesome about this whole thing.”

Manning reached out to Jets CEO Christopher Johnson on Tuesday night to throw his support Gase’s way.

“His passion is going to be super, super contagious,” Darnold added about his new coach. “Guys are going to want to go out there and play the game all the time. I think that’s kind of his leadership style, and I think that’s really where he’s going to thrive. I think our guys are going to take on that kind of attitude.”

–Field Level Media

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Reports: Sarkisian, Joseph interview with Cardinals

Reports: Sarkisian, Joseph interview with Cardinals

The

Reports: Sarkisian, Joseph interview with Cardinals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–Field Level Media

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Report: Panthers sticking with Washington as DC

Report: Panthers sticking with Washington as DC

The Carolina Panthers will reportedly retain Eric Washington as defensive

Report: Panthers sticking with Washington as DC

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

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

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

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

–Field Level Media

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Browns G Bitonio replacing DeCastro in Pro Bowl

Browns G Bitonio replacing DeCastro in Pro Bowl

The Cleveland

Browns G Bitonio replacing DeCastro in Pro Bowl

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

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

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

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

–Field Level Media

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Giants’ Vernon replaces Bears’ Mack in Pro Bowl

Giants' Vernon replaces Bears' Mack in Pro Bowl

Giants’ Vernon replaces Bears’ Mack in Pro Bowl

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Pro Bowl will be held Jan. 27.

–Field Level Media

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Chargers sign K Rose; RB Gordon practices

Chargers sign K Rose; RB Gordon practices

Chargers sign K Rose; RB Gordon practices

The Los Angeles Chargers will sign kicker Nick Rose, according to multiple reports Thursday, to handle kickoffs in their Sunday playoff game against the New England Patriots.

The team has yet to announce the move.

Michael Badgley has proven reliable as the Chargers’ placekicker, making 5 of 6 field-goal attempts last week and 15 of 16 during the regular season. However, he has just nine touchbacks on 60 kickoffs (including playoffs) this season, easily the worst rate among qualified kickers.

Rose, who missed 2 of 3 field goal attempts with the Chargers in 2017, has 32 touchbacks on 47 career kickoffs since going undrafted out of Texas in 2016. He also converted on 10 of 11 field goal tries for the Washington Redskins in the first part of the 2017 season.

Patriots kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson averaged 28.8 yards per return in the regular season, scoring once.

“They have one of the best kick returners that I’ve seen in a long time,” Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said earlier this week. “So that’s going to be a heck of a challenge for our special teams. It’s a good thing we have one of the better cover units in the league right now, but that’s going to be a heck of a challenge.”

Meanwhile, Chargers running back Melvin Gordon was back at practice on a limited basis Thursday and vowed to play through his left knee sprain.

“Just hurt it a little bit,” Gordon said. “Throw a little dirt on it, I’ll be all right.”

Gordon reportedly has a light sprain in his left knee after missing three games late in the year with a similar injury to his right knee. All indications are that he will play Sunday.

Center Mike Pouncey returned to a full practice Thursday after missing Wednesday’s session with a thumb injury.

–Field Level Media

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Cowboys WR Beasley, TE Jarwin questionable

Cowboys WR Beasley, TE Jarwin questionable

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver

Cowboys WR Beasley, TE Jarwin questionable

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

Neither player practiced this week. The Cowboys are already at less than full strength in the passing game after losing wide receiver Allen Hurns to a dislocated left ankle in last weekend’s wild-card win against Seattle.

Beasley caught 65 passes for 672 yards and three touchdowns in 16 games this season. The seventh-year wideout tweaked the ankle — which had already been bugging him — early in the game against the Seahawks, finishing with three catches for 28 yards.

Jarwin had 27 receptions for 307 yards in 16 games this season, including 119 yards and three TDs in a Week 17 win against the New York Giants. He had three grabs for 15 yards last week against Seattle.

Defensive tackle Maliek Collins (illness, ankle), guard Xavier Su’a-Filo (ankle) and safety Darian Thompson (groin) were also listed as questionable on Thursday’s injury report. Defensive lineman David Irving (ankle) remains out.

The good news for Dallas is that left tackle Tyron Smith (neck), right guard Zack Martin (knee), linebacker Sean Lee (hamstring), defensive end Tyrone Crawford (neck) and wide receivers Tavon Austin (groin) and Noah Brown (illness) were all full participants in Thursday’s session and are expected to play.

–Field Level Media

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Steelers’ Rooney: ‘Hard to envision’ Brown staying

Steelers' Rooney: 'Hard to envision' Brown staying

Steelers’ Rooney: ‘Hard to envision’ Brown staying

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

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

Rooney added the team hasn’t made any firm decisions, though it won’t simply cut Brown.

“We’ll look at all the options,” Rooney said “We’re not going to release him, that’s not on the table. But I will say all other options are on the table.

“Whether the situation can be reconciled and have him back on the team next year, we’re a long way away from thinking that can happen. We’re not closing the door on anything at this point.”

Brown skipped practices and team meetings and didn’t answer phone calls from Rooney, head coach Mike Tomlin or teammates leading up to the regular-season finale. He then showed up to play against the Cincinnati Bengals, but the team held Brown out. The wideout was listed on the injury report with knee soreness, but many have questioned his injury, and reports have said teammates felt he quit on them.

Tomlin acknowledged last week that Brown might have become more of a distraction than he’s worth.

Just last February, the Steelers decided Brown was worth a four-year, $68 million extension, the richest in NFL history for a wide receiver at the time. As a result, there would be serious cap implications if Pittsburgh were to move on. The Steelers would save more than $15 million in real money in 2019, but they would owe $21.12 million in dead money against the cap, compared to Brown’s $22.165 million cap hit if he remains on the roster.

“That has to be taken into consideration,” Rooney told the Post-Gazette of cap implications, “but, as I sit here today, I’m not going to say that’s going to box us into anything. If we decide something has to be done, we’ll figure out how to deal with that.”

When Rooney was asked specifically about the possibility of a trade, he replied, “I’m not going to use those words. All options are on the table. We have two months to go before we can do anything. There’s no sense making the decision now. We’ll see how things play out. Maybe he decides to come talk to us some day and we learn more about where he is. We’ll see.”

Brown, 30, cannot be traded until March 13, when the NFL’s 2019 season officially opens. The Steelers would likely make a decision on his status before March 17, when he is due a $2.5 million roster bonus.

The Post-Gazette reports the team has not been in contact with Brown, who has not returned repeated phone calls from Rooney and Tomlin.

Rooney acknowledged that teammates’ opinions about Brown possibly returning in 2019 will be factors in the decision-making process. He also indicated that the issues with Brown at the end of the season are likely part of a broader problem.

“My belief is there’s more to it than an incident one day at practice,” Rooney said. “That’s one of the reasons I would have liked to talk to him about it — what it was and how it got to this point.”

A seven-time Pro Bowl and four-time All-Pro selection, Brown caught 104 passes for 1,297 yards and a career-high 15 touchdowns in 2018.

Brown ranks second in Steelers history behind Hines Ward in career receptions (837), receiving yards (11,207) and touchdown catches (74).

–Field Level Media

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DeCosta to officially start as Ravens GM on Friday

DeCosta to officially start as Ravens GM on Friday

DeCosta to officially start as Ravens GM on Friday

The Baltimore Ravens’ long-awaited change in front-office leadership will become official on Friday, when Eric DeCosta takes over as the team general manager. The club made the announcement Thursday.

The team also announced that outgoing GM Ozzie Newsome will remain with Ravens “in a significant role.”

DeCosta, 47, first joined the Ravens as a scouting intern in 1996, the club’s first season after moving from Cleveland to Baltimore. According to the team, he has declined interview requests from clubs with GM openings in each of the last seven years, preferring to stay in Baltimore.

Following his internship, DeCosta moved up to area scout (1997-2002), then director of college scouting (2003-08), director of player personnel (2009-11) and finally assistant general manager, his job since 2012.

“No. 1, he’s a very good person,” Newsome said of DeCosta last spring, adding that his successor saw the Ravens as a “bare-bones” organization. “He’s a very good talent evaluator. He’d had a chance to watch how this thing has grown, but he has also seen how this thing was built.”

Newsome, who moved with the franchise from Cleveland in 1996, took over as the Ravens’ GM in November 2002. During that time, Baltimore has won two Super Bowl titles. Meanwhile, the other 31 NFL teams went through a combined 149 general managers prior to this season.

Newsome has drafted two Hall of Fame players in offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden and linebacker Ray Lewis. At least two more are likely to join them in safety Ed Reed, who is eligible, and linebacker Terrell Suggs, who is still active. Also among his draft picks have been three NFL Defensive Players of the Year and an Offensive Player of the Year.

–Field Level Media

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