Foles at QB again as Eagles visit Tampa Bay

Nick Foles will start for the second consecutive game at quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles when they travel south to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday afternoon at Raymond James Stadium.


Carson Wentz, who suffered two torn ligaments in his left knee last December, still hasn’t been cleared for contact. Foles was named the Most Valuable Player and led the Eagles (1-0) to their first Super Bowl title, a 41-33 victory over the New England Patriots in February.


Foles wasn’t spectacular in the 2018 season opener, an 18-12 win over the Atlanta Falcons, but he was effective at times, going 19 of 34 for 117 yards and one interception while also catching a 15-yard pass.


Foles is 2-0 all-time at Tampa Bay, with victories in 2012 and ’13.


In the six-point win over the Falcons, Foles seemed to struggle throwing the ball downfield. It was a trend that didn’t go unnoticed by the coaching staff.


“I think just try to find him easy completions,” Eagles offensive coordinator Mike Groh told reporters. “Not unlike a lot of the quarterbacks, you like to get in the flow of the game, get a completion, or to use a basketball analogy, find a nice, easy open shot or a layup. Kind of find your rhythm early and get going.”


Wentz’s return date remains questionable, though he continues to improve.


“That’s what we’ve really seen since he came back in 11-on-11 as training camp progressed, his lower body strength, his upper body strength all trending in the right direction,” coach Doug Pederson told reporters.


Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery is likely to miss his second consecutive game with a sore shoulder. Pederson said that Jeffery is expected back on the field for 11-on-11 drills but not team drills just yet.


The Buccaneers (1-0), meanwhile, opened the season with a stunning 48-40 win on the road against the New Orleans Saints.


Backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick received the start in place of suspended Jameis Winston and completed 21 of 28 passes for 417 yards and four touchdowns in the win over the Saints. Fitzpatrick also rushed for a touchdown.


As a result, Fitzpatrick was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week.


“The talent level in that huddle, with guys that can go up and make plays, it’s a pretty special group,” Fitzpatrick told reporters after the win. “I’m glad we showed it today, but now it’s about consistency.”


Wide receiver DeSean Jackson, a former standout with the Eagles, had five receptions for 146 yards and two touchdowns on scores of 58 and 36 yards. But Jackson left the game with a concussion and remains in the protocol with his playing status in doubt on Sunday.


The Buccaneers scored on six of their first seven possessions.


The defense will be shorthanded as well after cornerback Vernon Hargreaves was placed on injured reserve with what is said to be a season-ending shoulder injury.


–Field Level Media

Motivated by critics, WR Kirk off to good start in NFL

TEM PE, Ariz. (AP) — Too small, too slow. Christian Kirk is well aware of what critics said to him going into this year's NFL draft.

They're right in front of him every day as he leaves home.

"I have a blackboard at my house that has it all written up," he said.

TEM PE, Ariz. (AP) — Too small, too slow. Christian Kirk is well aware of what critics said to him going into this year’s NFL draft.

They’re right in front of him every day as he leaves home.

“I have a blackboard at my house that has it all written up,” he said. “It’s all right where I leave for the door every day.”

He hasn’t forgotten that five receivers were drafted ahead of him.

“I thought I was the best and I’m out to prove that,” Kirk said.

He is off to a good start on a not-so-good team. Halfway through the season, his 31 catches and 410 yards receiving rank second among NFL rookie wide receivers behind only Atlanta’s Calvin Ridley (33 catches, 463 yards). And Kirk has done it on a team that ranks last in the NFL in offense and next-to-last in passing offense.

“This guy is the ultimate pro,” coach Steve Wilks said. “You look at rookies coming in really trying to find their way. This guy works hard each and every day, trying to take care of his body, trying to prep himself. I think, really, the opportunities that he has been getting, he’s taking advantage of them, meaning the throws, the catches. He’s finishing those plays, which is great.”

In his previous game, a week ago Sunday, Kirk broke free in the back of the end zone and caught a 9-yard touchdown pass from fellow rookie Josh Rosen with 34 seconds to play, the winning score in an 18-15 victory over San Francisco.

The Cardinals (2-6), who play at Kansas City (8-1) on Sunday, had last weekend off.

“I went back this week and actually watched the Washington game (the season opener),” Kirk said, “just seeing where I was at then until now. It’s night and day. So I feel like every week I’m progressing and I still want to do that throughout the season.”

Kirk has lots of hometown support. He grew up in suburban Phoenix before choosing Texas A&M over Arizona State in high school.

He has developed a close relationship with Rosen, who took over as starting quarterback in Week 4.

“I love Christian,” Rosen said after Wednesday’s practice. “We’re on the same page about everything. We hang out off the field. Football’s a very social game, and I think sometimes we can pick each other up and get each other going whenever we might be sputtering a little bit. Football’s a game of relationships, so it’s good to have a strong one.”

Kirk, after a standout career at Texas A&M, was drafted by Arizona in the second round, the 47th player chosen overall. He stands 5-foot-11 and weighs 200 pounds and there were concerns about that and his speed among pro scouts.

Not for the Cardinals though, Wilks said.

“Not at all,” he said. “It may have been a concern with other teams, but not with us. We felt like he had speed. I know that was a question: ‘He’s just a slot receiver.’ (But) he’s shown he can take the top off.”

Rosen, who has his own thoughts about quarterbacks drafted ahead of him, said people sometimes look for the wrong things when evaluating a player.

“I think sometimes you just have to turn on tape and watch guys play,” he said. “(Kansas City’s) Tyreek Hill on the other side is one of the best receivers in football right now, and he’s tiny. He’s unbelievable. I think they’re different kinds of receivers, but just in the sense that I think a lot of guys look at the wrong things. If you turn on Christian’s tape from college, he’s ripping people up and down the field.”


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Uncertainty about Carson will test Seahawks running depth

RENTON, Wash. (AP) — It's become clear through the first half of this season the Seattle Seahawks offense functions best when running back Chris Carson is getting the bulk of the carries.

Yet it's also becoming clear that Carson may be a spectator on Sunday when the Seahawks face the Los Angeles Rams

RENTON, Wash. (AP) — It’s become clear through the first half of this season the Seattle Seahawks offense functions best when running back Chris Carson is getting the bulk of the carries.

Yet it’s also becoming clear that Carson may be a spectator on Sunday when the Seahawks face the Los Angeles Rams as he deals with a hip injury that could keep him sidelined for the second time this season.

Seattle coach Pete Carroll said Wednesday that Carson would not practice and his status for Sunday’s NFC West matchup was uncertain. Carson started last Sunday’s 25-17 loss to the Chargers and averaged 5.0 yards per carry, but did not play the final 2½ quarters after a lingering hip issue flared up.

While there is a chance Carson could be ready by Sunday, the Seahawks (4-4) also turn around and play a Thursday night game against Green Bay next week. And playing Carson on Sunday may make him unavailable against the Packers, which could end up being a more important game for Seattle’s playoff hopes.

“The soft tissue thing is kind of hanging with him a little bit,” Carroll said of Carson. “This hip thing is still kind of there and we’ve got to wait and see how it comes out at the end of the week.”

Carson has shown he’s the best option as Seattle’s primary running back when he is healthy. In the four games Carson has carried the ball at least 14 times this season, he’s averaging 4.2 yards per carry, 95.5 yards per game and the Seahawks are 3-1 in those four games.

In the three games where Carson has carried the ball fewer than 14 times either because of injury or game plan, the Seahawks are winless.

If Carson can’t play against the Rams, Mike Davis would likely get the bulk of the work at running back with a bigger role for rookie first-round pick Rashaad Penny as well.

“We’ve got plenty of guys we can go to,” Carroll said. “We don’t have to just rely on one guy right now.”

Davis has shown an ability to be the primary ball carrier for the Seahawks, running for 101 yards on 21 carries in Seattle’s Week 4 victory over Arizona when Carson was out because of an unrelated groin injury. Davis had 62 yards on 15 carries last week carrying the bulk of the running after Carson was unable to continue.

“It’s like I do every week, prepare that I’m going to be the starter so if it does come up I don’t get blindsided,” Davis said.

Davis has proven he can handle the load. The same can’t be said of Penny, who has just 42 carries for 146 yards through eight games. In the first couple of weeks, Seattle made it a priority to force Penny into the game and get him some action. After they realized that wasn’t working, Penny disappeared for a couple of weeks before slowly being reintegrated to the offense.

Last week Penny had just four carries, but may see that number increase significantly if Carson can’t play.

“We’ve just got to get him out there. He just needs more turns,” Carroll said of Penny. “Mike has been very versatile in the throwing game and all the styles of runs, really good at it and very effective. We’re just going with what looks right. It has nothing to do with where you got picked or where you came from for the opportunities to present itself for the guys to show what they can do.”

Whoever is carrying the ball, the Seahawks will want to replicate the success they had from the first meeting with the Rams. Seattle rushed for a season-high 190 yards in the 33-31 loss, the most allowed by Los Angeles this season. But Carson was a big part of that success, running for 116 yards.

Davis expects the Rams to make changes, but also believes in his offensive line.

“We know what our guys can do up front and they’re killing it. I have no doubt,” Davis said.

NOTES: G D.J. Fluker didn’t finish last week’s game with a calf injury and sat out practice on Wednesday. Carroll said Fluker was a little more sore on Wednesday than he was earlier in the week. … S Bradley McDougald also didn’t practice with a knee injury that kept him out the second half against the Chargers. Delano Hill would start if McDougald can’t play.


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Packers eager to finish strong after first-half frustrations

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Randall Cobb is out of detailed answers for now.

But the veteran receiver did have one simple solution to get the Green Bay Packers out of their first-half funk.

No rallying cries. No inspirational slogans, like the "Run the Table" phrase from Rodgers that turned into catchword of

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Randall Cobb is out of detailed answers for now.

But the veteran receiver did have one simple solution to get the Green Bay Packers out of their first-half funk.

No rallying cries. No inspirational slogans, like the “Run the Table” phrase from Rodgers that turned into catchword of the Packers’ comeback from a 4-6 start in 2016.

“Yeah, win a game. Win a game you get going,” Cobb said after practice on Wednesday when asked if there were lessons to draw from two years ago.

“We’ve just got to win one right now,” the veteran said.

The Packers aren’t quite yet in such dire straits as in 2016. But at 3-4-1, Green Bay has little margin for error if they want to avoid a second straight season without the playoffs.

Third place in the NFC North behind the division-leading Bears (5-3) and second-place Vikings (5-3-1) isn’t going to cut it. A bounce-back second half can start Sunday when the Miami Dolphins visit Lambeau Field.

“It’s always good to be at home. You have to take care of your home-field advantage,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “We also know what’s coming after it, too.”

It’s a quick turnaround back on the road after the Dolphins game with a Thursday night trip to Seattle.

“It’s great to be home and I can’t remember the last time, it’s been a while since we played there,” McCarthy added.

That would be in Week 6 on Oct. 15 over the San Francisco 49ers, a closer-than-expected, 33-30 victory that required the Packers to score 10 points over the final 1:55.

Following a bye, the Packers had trouble closing out road games the next two weeks, albeit in losses to two of the league’s best teams in the Rams and Patriots.

Last week, running back Aaron Jones’ fumble on the first play of the fourth quarter in New England territory was a turning point. The Patriots went on to sandwich two touchdown drives around a three-and-out for Green Bay.

“We’ve lost games before here. But this just feels different,” Cobb said. “And it doesn’t feel good. It’s not fun. But we’ve got to figure something out.”

Asked how this felt different, Cobb didn’t have any specifics.

“I wish I could. If I could then I would try to correct that ‘how,'” he added. “At this point, we’re not where we should be and where we want to be. We’ve got to figure out how to get there.”

At least quarterback Aaron Rodgers seems to be getting better each week from the left knee injury suffered in the season opener against Chicago.

He seems to be moving around much better. Last week against New England, he didn’t have to wear a sleeve or brace on the knee.

“Just grit,” Rodgers said. He was a full participant in a practice on Wednesday that was abbreviated by McCarthy in part because of the wear following two straight long road trips.

Rodgers has had a dip in his completion rate this year, at 60.6 percent through eight games, down from his career average of 64.8 percent. Rodgers said it had to do with “an unnatural amount of throwaways this year,” referring to passes thrown out of bounds or out of the defense’s reach if he can’t find an open receiver.

“We’ve got to keep finding ways to get guys into one or two spots, open on time,” Rodgers said, “and when they’re open, I’ve got to make the throws.”

The Packers lost 29-27 against the then-unbeaten Rams a couple of weeks ago. In that game, Ty Montgomery, who has since been traded , fumbled a late kickoff after being directed to stay in the end zone for a touchback. The turnover deprived Rodgers a chance to drive for a game-winning score.

Losing hasn’t been fun.

“I don’t think anybody’s happy about the position we’re in. So, yeah, I just want to have fun again,” Cobb said with a smile and slight chuckle.

NOTES: WR Trevor Davis, who has been on injured reserve since the start of the season with a hamstring injury, has returned to practice. He could be in line to be activated for the Nov. 15 game against Seattle to help replace injured wideout Geronimo Allison (groin). … Limited in practice on Tuesday were S Kentrell Brice and RT Bryan Bulaga, who have knee injuries, and LB Blake Martinez (ankle).


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NFL fines Dolphins and Gase for injury report violation

MIAMI (AP) — The NFL has fined the Miami Dolphins $30,000 and coach Adam Gase $15,000 for an injury report violation a month ago involving quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

The Dolphins listed Tannehill as participating fully in practice on the Thursday before the Week 6 game against Chicago. In fact, Tannehill was limited because

MIAMI (AP) — The NFL has fined the Miami Dolphins $30,000 and coach Adam Gase $15,000 for an injury report violation a month ago involving quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

The Dolphins listed Tannehill as participating fully in practice on the Thursday before the Week 6 game against Chicago. In fact, Tannehill was limited because of a throwing shoulder injury that forced him to miss the game, and he hasn’t played since.

“We have been fully cooperative and transparent with the NFL throughout this process,” the Dolphins said in a statement Wednesday. “We received the penalties imposed and will have no further comment.”

Tannehill will miss his fifth game in a row Sunday when Miami plays at Green Bay.


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Under pressure: Sacks rise for Carr behind hurt Raiders line

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) — After taking a career-high seven sacks behind a decimated Oakland Raiders offensive line, Derek Carr got a phone call from someone who knows just what that's like to being repeatedly hit by bruising NFL defensive linemen.

Big brother David, who was sacked an NFL-record 76 times in 2002, offered

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) — After taking a career-high seven sacks behind a decimated Oakland Raiders offensive line, Derek Carr got a phone call from someone who knows just what that’s like to being repeatedly hit by bruising NFL defensive linemen.

Big brother David, who was sacked an NFL-record 76 times in 2002, offered some words of consolation.

“It’s not that bad,” Derek Carr said Wednesday. “It’s not that bad, my guys are awesome. The thing about him is there were times where they would have the right guys blocked, they just physically couldn’t do it. At least our guys fight, we have that going for us. He did mess with me a little bit, but no, it’s not like, ‘Oh man, how do you deal with this or that?’ It’s not like that at all.”

The situation in Oakland definitely isn’t on the level it was for the expansion Houston Texans, but it’s been a major drop-off from the solid protection Carr earned for most of his first four seasons.

Carr has already been sacked 24 times halfway through the season for the Raiders (1-7), a mark he has topped only once in an entire season in his first four seasons. His sack rate has doubled from 3.9 percent of pass plays his first four years — lowest in the NFL among players with more than 25 starts during that span — to 7.8 percent this year and he’s facing pressure at a much higher rate than he has in the past.

“It’s hard, there’s sometimes it’s gotten that way and it’s not a knock on those guys,” Carr said. “They’re trying their tail off. We have some young guys trying to play, we have our veteran guys who dominate and they’re great players, but we have some young guys that are just getting their feet wet against the best players in the world.

“It’s not easy for them. For me, I’ve always been one, I try to make it seven-on-seven as much as you can. There’s never a time where you’re ever looking down, you just try and feel things, move and make throws. You try and do it and as it’s happening you don’t notice it until you turn the film on like, ‘Oh, we can maybe adjust this or adjust that’ kind of a thing.”

Injuries on the line have played a big role with right tackle Donald Penn being placed on injured reserve following a Week 4 win against Cleveland. Rookie Brendan Parker has struggled since replacing Penn and had to be pulled for part of the game last week against the 49ers.

Rookie left tackle Kolton Miller also hurt his knee in that game against the Browns and has been in and out of the lineup. He has been hampered even when he has played and came out against the 49ers because the injury got too bad. The Raiders averaged more than 11 yards a play in the first six plays against San Francisco before the offense sputtered after Miller first got hurt.

The situation at left guard also hasn’t been good with Kelechi Osemele missing time with a knee injury and backup Jon Feliciano bothered by injured ribs.

The decimated line has hampered the play-calling and Carr did not complete a single pass more than 10 yards downfield in losses to Seattle and San Francisco the past three games. He was sacked 13 times combined in those games.

“No doubt it affects him,” coach Jon Gruden said. “It affects any quarterback. … I’m not going to make any excuses. I think Derek is doing some good things. It does make things difficult when you have the amount of injuries that we have had.”

NOTES: Miller practiced with a brace on his right knee. … DT Eddie Vanderdoes (knee) could return for the game against Arizona on Nov. 18. … DT Justin Ellis (foot) could return to practice next week.


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Seahawks look to keep Gurley out of end zone

Seahawks look to keep Gurley out of end zone

Seahawks look to keep Gurley out of end zone

Arizona Cardinals: A diehard Philadelphia Eagles fan growing up, Josh Rosen was particularly fond of Andy Reid, whose Kansas City Chiefs the Cardinals will face this Sunday. Rosen told reporters Wednesday he used to own an Eagles shirt reading, “Our coach will eat yours,” referring to Reid’s famed appetite. Rosen also recounted a memory of watching Reid’s offense and Michael Vick tear up the Washington Redskins for 59 points on Monday Night Football in 2010. “My mom, we didn’t really have TiVo, so she would have a video recorder and record the TV screen,” Rosen said. “I was at a Pop Warner practice, and I came back. …She was like, ‘Hey, I’ve got a surprise for you on the first play.’ It was the naked boot when [Vick] bombed it, like, 80 yards to DeSean Jackson. I remember it like it was yesterday.”

Los Angeles Rams: A day after Aqib Talib said on NFL Network he expects to return after Thanksgiving — when he’s eligible to be recalled from injured reserve — head coach Sean McVay was cautiously optimistic about the cornerback’s prediction. “Certainly he’s a guy we anticipate using one of [two injured-reserve recall] designations on,” McVay said. “When that is exactly, I don’t know. I love the fact that Aqib wants to get back as soon as possible, but we’ll see if [head athletic trainer] Reggie [Scott] earns his paycheck and he can make that thing happen.” McVay joked that Talib’s proclamation was “a vet move,” putting the pressure on Scott and the training staff.

San Francisco 49ers: Kyle Juszczyk is paid well over twice what any other fullback in the NFL makes, and head coach Kyle Shanahan has used him accordingly, moving him all over the formation and asking him to do a number of different tasks. “Every game, if the other team has a fullback, he’ll come up to me, and it’s usually the exact same conversation,” Juszczyk told the team’s website. “It’s, ‘Damn, man, they’ve got you doing everything. You’ve got it good.’ Literally every single time. There’s not much I can say. I just grin.” Unsurprisingly, Shanahan is effusive in his praise of Juszczyk, calling him “as good of a fullback as there is or probably has been.”

Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks couldn’t quite pull the upset over the Rams in Week 5, but they have positives to pull from as they prepare for this week’s rematch in Los Angeles. Linebacker Bobby Wagner liked how Seattle’s defense limited running back Todd Gurley to 3.5 yards per carry but added that it needs to do better at finishing the job, as Gurley scored three touchdowns. “We have to find a way to do that, make them one dimensional, find a way to make sure Todd doesn’t get into the end zone as many times as he did,” Wagner said. “We know we have the recipe to do that, but we have to do it. We can talk about it all we want, but if we don’t do it on Sunday, it won’t mean anything.”

–Field Level Media

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Giants RB Barkley aiming to better the best

Giants RB Barkley aiming to better the best

Dallas Cowboys: Maybe the opposition has provided

Giants RB Barkley aiming to better the best

Dallas Cowboys: Maybe the opposition has provided the fighting words needed to get the 3-5 Cowboys on track. The Cowboys meet division rival Philadelphia (4-4) on Sunday night, and Eagles center Jason Kelce had this to say about Dallas on the 94.1 WIP Morning Show on Wednesday. “There’s certainly a rivalry there, we play them twice a year,” Kelce said of the Cowboys. “I would say mostly I just don’t think a lot of players, in particular me, just don’t really like the franchise, the organization, what it stands for — what it’s always stood for. This goes back to the lockout when they were getting replacement players, how outspoken the Dallas Cowboys franchise was in ending that. I’ve just never really appreciated what the organization — and what its fans really stood for. A lot of fair-weather people from across the country that just kind of fell in love because they’re winners instead of having any type of emotional connection to the team whatsoever.”

New York Giants: Rookie running back Saquon Barkley certainly has set high goals for himself. With 1,016 combined rushing and receiving yards this season, he’s third in the NFL and he aspires to be better than the man sitting in first place on the list: Todd Gurley of the Los Angeles Rams (1,260). “I watch film of Todd Gurley, I love the way he plays. He’s an all-purpose back, a threat any time he touches the ball. He runs physical, running great in between the tackles.” He added: “I want to be better than Todd one day. I know he’s got the same mindset. All the running backs got the same mindset in the league, and that’s just the way it operates in this league, just how it operates as competitors.”

Philadelphia Eagles: Quarterback Carson Wentz spent his bye week back home in North Dakota surrounded by nature — and a huge Eagles fan: Los Angeles Angels fan Mike Trout. The two have formed a friendship and spent last week together hunting. “Mike and I, when we go hunting, we hang out, we don’t talk too much baseball or football,” Wentz said. “We keep it strictly hunting, just hanging out and having a good time. That’s our time to get away from our sports and everything, so we don’t talk too much about that.” He added: “There are lots of ducks, and lots of geese, in North Dakota. We had a great trip. Like I said earlier, it was just perfect timing for me and some of my friends and family to all get together, get away, get refreshed, recharged for the second half of the season.”

Washington Redskins: Head coach Jay Gruden won’t make excuses for injuries now that the Redskins (5-3) have 13 players on injured reserve. “It’s something you don’t want to go through, but it’s pro football and you have to go through it. … We can’t slow down. The train doesn’t stop.” Quarterback Alex Smith agreed, even if it means three offensive linemen signed Monday will need to take a speed-read through the playbook. “All the calls, all the communication that has to take place – run, pass, third down. All the different looks, the thousands and thousands of reps that we’ve had, you try to condense into a few days to get ready,” Smith said. “I think communication is a key.”

–Field Level Media

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Titans coach Vrabel not a fan of Byard’s celebration

Titans coach Vrabel not a fan of Byard's celebration

Titans coach Vrabel not a fan of Byard’s celebration

Houston Texans: The bye week comes at a good time for recent trade acquisition Demaryius Thomas. The veteran receiver will be able to dig deep into the playbook after playing against the Denver Broncos — his former team — just five days after being acquired. “Now, we can kind of take a step back and really go back into what we call the basic information, teach him the formations, teach him the routes, the protections, how the protections fit with the routes that he’s running and things like that and the technique of the route,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien told reporters. “He’s a really good pro, as I said after the game [Sunday], he’s going to do a great job of learning.” Thomas made three catches for 61 yards against Denver in his team debut.

Indianapolis Colts: Quarterback Andrew Luck has been on a roll, and the team hopes it continues after the bye week. Luck has thrown three or more touchdown passes in five straight games — 18 overall during the stretch — while halting all talk about whether his shoulder is 100 percent. He has fired 23 touchdown passes and is just nine away from the second-highest total of his career. His career best of 40 also could be topped later this season. Luck could have wideout Ryan Grant back on the field for Sunday’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars after Grant missed the previous two games with an ankle injury. Grant has 26 receptions for 270 yards and one score.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Quarterback Blake Bortles pronounced himself as fit and ready for Sunday’s game against Indianapolis. Bortles injured his non-throwing shoulder against the Philadelphia Eagles on Oct. 28 and then had a bye week to help him recuperate. “I’m ready to go — better than ever,” Bortles told reporters. “It’s just banged up — no different than anybody else getting a nick or a bruise or whatever. It’s part of playing an NFL football season. It’s going to happen at some point. There isn’t anybody playing that feels 100 percent healthy and is totally good to go.” The Jaguars also are hoping to have running back Leonard Fournette (hamstring) back in the lineup. He last played in Week 4 against the New York Jets.

Tennessee Titans: Safety Kevin Byard made a key interception in Monday’s win over the Dallas Cowboys, but his dash to celebrate and dance on the midfield star at AT&T Stadium wasn’t well-received by first-year coach Mike Vrabel. “I’m not [happy], and I won’t be,” Vrabel told reporters. “That’s not what we want as an organization, and that’s not what I want as a head coach. I want our guys to play as hard as they possibly can for each other, between the whistle, and as physical and aggressive and as clean as they possibly can.” Vrabel discussed the matter with Byard after Monday’s game and again the following day. “I understand that act looked selfish and that’s why we had a talk about that,” Byard said. “I don’t want to be in the doghouse, or end up in the doghouse over a celebration.”

–Field Level Media

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Mahomes, Chiefs enjoying coin-toss win streak

Mahomes, Chiefs enjoying coin-toss win streak

Denver Broncos: At 3-6 and

Mahomes, Chiefs enjoying coin-toss win streak

Denver Broncos: At 3-6 and sitting 2 1/2 games out of the final AFC wild-card spot entering their bye week, the Broncos’ playoff hopes are grim, which often leads teams to plan for the future and play young players down the stretch. But head coach Vance Joseph doesn’t see any difficulty balancing the development of rookies with staying competitive. “We’ve got seven or eight rookies in major, major roles right now,” Joseph said. “If they play good, we win, so it’s not a balancing act. They are playing. They are our headliners right now. They’ve got to play well, they have no choice.” First-round rookie Bradley Chubb is tied for sixth in the NFL with eight sacks, 6.5 shy of the rookie record, while undrafted running back Phillip Lindsay is second in yards per carry (5.4) among players with 100-plus carries.

Kansas City Chiefs: Andy Reid’s team has one loss in the standings, but there is one place it remains undefeated this season: the coin toss. Kansas City has won the toss in all nine games, deferring all nine times. “It is ridiculous,” Reid told reporters Wednesday. “But on the other hand, if one goes the other way, you have to be ready to go. You can’t have a letdown or something off a coin toss.” Quarterback Patrick Mahomes has had his own fun with the streak. “I say that’s one of the most nervous points in the game for me right now,” he said. “It’s kind of a running joke type of thing. I don’t think there’s any pressure. Whatever happens, happens.”

Los Angeles Chargers: Second-year cornerback Desmond King claimed AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors on Wednesday after notching a critical pick-six against the Seattle Seahawks last week. King leads the Chargers with three interceptions and six passes defensed this season, and he also is the top punt returner (11.5-yard average) after notching a 17-yarder on Sunday. “He’s a playmaker,” head coach Anthony Lynn said Wednesday. “He’s a very instinctive football player. That’s why we drafted him. He’s been doing it his whole life. …It’s good to have a good, instinctive football player in the slot, because he’s in space.”

Oakland Raiders: Preparing for their second meeting with the Chargers after a 26-10 loss in Week 5, the Raiders aren’t discouraged by the lopsided defeat in Los Angeles. Head coach Jon Gruden pointed to how Oakland had limited opportunities on offense (only three possessions in the second half) and committed three false starts in key situations. He also blamed himself for the playcall that led to a Derek Carr interception on first-and-goal from the 1 late in the third quarter. “We had some critical errors that were inexcusable and really hurt us,” Gruden said. “But we competed hard, played some good football against the Chargers.”

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Patriots RB White has opposing coach worried

Patriots RB White has opposing coach worried

Buffalo Bills: Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll

Patriots RB White has opposing coach worried

Buffalo Bills: Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll seems just as disillusioned by the Bills’ anemic offense — the 2-7 team has scored just 96 points through nine games — as the fans are. “Yeah, it’s very frustrating. Put a lot of hard work and effort into it and the end result is getting a win, and when you don’t do that or play poorly or coach poorly, that’s your job to go out there and do the best you can do and try to get a win. Anything less than that is unacceptable,” Daboll said. He wouldn’t but the blame on struggling quarterback Nathan Peterman. “It’s not just the quarterback. There’s ten other guys [that] have to help the quarterback out, too. There were plays [Sunday] that people could’ve helped out with Nate. …We all need to do a better job.”

Miami Dolphins: Safety Reshad Jones said he didn’t quit on his team on Sunday, even though it was reported he took himself out of the game. Instead, according to the Miami Herald, he was peeved that he was rotated out to give rookie Minkah Fitzpatrick more time on the field. Defensive coordinator Matt Burke told Jones, Bobby McCain and T.J. McDonald that he planned to lessen their snap load on Sunday, but when Jones left the field after 10 snaps, he wouldn’t return. “I’ve never been a quitter,” Jones said. “I’ve been here nine years, playing my ass off for this team. Never been a quitter, never will. I’m going to continue to do what I need to do to be one of the best in the league and help this team win football games.”

New England Patriots: Rookie running back Sony Michel could return Sunday against the Tennessee Titans, but Titans head coach Mike Vrabel said he’s equally worried about James White. White has 61 receptions on the season and is on pace to break the record for receptions by a running back (Matt Forte, 102), and Vrabel has taken note. “It’s like 5,000 [catches],” Vrabel said Wednesday. “It’s ridiculous, right?” Teams haven’t figured out how to stop the Tom Brady-to-White connection. “I hope by Sunday we have an answer [for White],” Vrabel said. “We’re working towards having an answer. Obviously, Tom trusts him. He catches the ball every time — 75 percent of the time he throws it to him, he catches it. He’s really turned into a nice player, another third-down back — first and second-downs, change-of-pace back. Tom trusts him and I know that’s the most important thing.”

New York Jets: After struggling to snap the ball accurately last week in a 13-6 loss to the Miami Dolphins, center Spencer Long could find himself on the bench Sunday against Buffalo. He had a number of poor snaps, including one that hit quarterback Sam Darnold’s head and another that led to a poor Darnold throw that would up being intercepted for a touchdown. He has a finger injury that was aggravated on Sunday. “When we saw the finger start giving him more issues than normal, we replaced him with Jonotthan [Harrison]. His finger got banged up again,” head coach Todd Bowles said. “I’ll see where it goes. It’s been thought about, but I haven’t expressed it to the coaches yet. We will deal with that this week.”

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Report: Holdout RB Bell hoops at Pittsburgh gym

Report: Holdout RB Bell hoops at Pittsburgh gym

Report: Holdout RB Bell hoops at Pittsburgh gym

Le’Veon Bell touched down in Pittsburgh two days after posting a farewell message to his offseason home in Miami on social media.

However, the holdout running back has not yet reported to the Steelers, who play Thursday night at home against the Carolina Panthers.

Instead, Bell was spotted playing basketball at an L.A. Fitness facility in North Pittsburgh. Opponents and onlookers shared their encounter with Bell on social media, and the facility manager confirmed to ESPN on Wednesday that Bell was present.

Bell has worked out at L.A. Fitness the past three offseasons.

He’s holding out after the Steelers failed to meet his contract demands, sacrificing more than $8 million in salary during the ongoing stalemate. Reporting after the July 15 deadline to sign a long-term deal, but before Week 1, would have assured Bell the entirety of his $14.5 million franchise tender for 2018.

Bell is facing the latest deadline in the off-field-drama next week. He must report by Tuesday or will become ineligible to play this season.

The Steelers are sailing along with James Conner at running back. Conner has 1,085 yards from scrimmage with 10 touchdowns.

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Saints hoping Bryant can bolster WR production

Saints hoping Bryant can bolster WR production

Atlanta Falcons:

Saints hoping Bryant can bolster WR production

Atlanta Falcons: Linebacker Bruce Irvin signed Wednesday and he’s already highly familiar with the defense. Irvin played in the same defense in Seattle, including two seasons under Falcons coach Dan Quinn, who was the Seahawks’ defensive coordinator in 2013-14. “He will add to our rotation along the defensive line, while adding to our pass rush,” Quinn told reporters. “He is familiar with our scheme and we are familiar with his strengths, so we are looking forward to getting him on the field as soon as possible.” Another positive development for the Atlanta defense is linebacker Deion Jones’ return to practice. The Pro Bowler suffered a foot injury in the season-opening game against the Philadelphia Eagles and is eligible to be activated from injured reserve for the Week 11 game against the Dallas Cowboys.

Carolina Panthers: Center Ryan Kalil is bothered by a sore ankle and will be a “game-day decision” for Thursday night’s game with the Pittsburgh Steelers, coach Ron Rivera said. Not having Kalil, who is listed as questionable, would represent a big blow for an offense that will be missing receiver Torrey Smith (knee) for the third straight game. Tyler Larsen will start at center if Kalil is ruled out. Three defensive players are also listed as questionable — defensive end Mario Addison (shoulder), linebacker David Mayo (groin) and safety Eric Reid (shoulder) — but Rivera feels good about each of their chances of playing.

New Orleans Saints: The club has reached a deal with free agent Dez Bryant to bolster a group of wideouts that suffered a blow when Ted Ginn Jr. (knee) was placed on injured reserve last month. Bryant, a three-time Pro Bowler, didn’t reach a deal in the offseason after parting ways with the Dallas Cowboys. Saints quarterback Drew Brees is enjoying a big season but star Michael Thomas (70 receptions) is the only New Orleans wide receiver with more than 12 catches at the midway point. The hope is that the 30-year-old Bryant (69 catches last season) is in good shape and can be a strong contributor over the second half of the campaign.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Wide receiver DeSean Jackson won’t disclose whether he requested a trade but he had no qualms about revealing how disgusted he is over the team’s 3-5 record at the midway point of the season. “I can’t say I’m as happy. I’m not winning. I’m not being as productive,” Jackson said. “For me to sit here and say I’m happy with that, I’d be lying to you. It’s a competitive sport, a competitive nature, we’re all professionals. Everyone gets paid to do a job and do it at our best. I don’t feel we’ve been doing that the past couple of games, at our best, with what we’re capable of doing with the talent in this locker room.” Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter initially expressed annoyance at the trade topic but later reluctantly admitted he and general manager Jason Licht did discuss dealing Jackson prior to the trading deadline.

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Report: Jets QB Darnold (foot) out Sunday

Report: Jets QB Darnold (foot) out Sunday


Report: Jets QB Darnold (foot) out Sunday

New York Jets rookie quarterback Sam Darnold has a significant right foot injury and will miss Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills, according to a New York Daily News report on Wednesday.

The report, which called the injury a sprain, adds the Jets hope Darnold will return after the Week 11 bye to face the New England Patriots in Week 12, but they are not overly optimistic.

Darnold sat out Wednesday’s practice, observing in street clothes with a walking boot on his right foot. It was his first missed practice since a brief holdout during training camp, before he signed his rookie contract.

Head coach Todd Bowles told reporters the injury is a strain and deemed Darnold “day-to-day.” The coach confirmed it is not believed to be a Lisfranc injury or any issue that would require surgery, and said it’s “too early” to determine the rookie’s availability for Sunday.

“We’ll see how he comes along with the week,” said Bowles, who added that the extra rest of the Week 11 bye could be a factor in whether Darnold faces the Bills.

It’s unclear when Darnold was injured, but he told reporters on Monday that he felt “fine” despite taking a number of big hits in Sunday’s loss to the Miami Dolphins. Miami totaled four sacks and seven QB hits on Darnold, forcing him into four interceptions, including three in the fourth quarter.

“Some bumps and some bruises, but everything is good,” Darnold said.

Bowles said Wednesday that he didn’t hear about the injury until Monday afternoon and that Darnold was fine on the flight home from Miami before the issue worsened. Bowles said he didn’t know the specific play on which Darnold was hurt, saying the QB told him it happened as he was cutting.

Darnold, who has started every game this season, finished Sunday’s game in Miami 21 of 39 for 229 yards, no touchdowns and the four picks. His rating (31.8) was a career low, and his total of 14 interceptions this season leads the NFL by four.

Overall, Darnold has passed for 1,934 yards and 11 touchdowns but has completed just 55 percent of his throws.

If Darnold is out, 39-year-old Josh McCown would make his first start of the season. McCown threw for 2,926 yards, 18 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 13 starts in 2017 before breaking his hand late in the season.

Davis Webb, who is currently on the practice squad, would be promoted to the active roster to serve as the backup if Darnold is sidelined, Bowles said.

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Reports: Vikings claim RB Abdullah off waivers

Reports: Vikings claim RB Abdullah off waivers

The Minnesota Vikings claimed running back Ameer Abdullah on Wednesday, a

Reports: Vikings claim RB Abdullah off waivers

The Minnesota Vikings claimed running back Ameer Abdullah on Wednesday, a day after he was waived by the Detroit Lions, according to multiple reports.

Abdullah, 25, was a second-round pick by Detroit in 2015 but was active in only three games this season and carried the ball just once. The Lions filled his roster spot with wide receiver Bruce Ellington, a fourth-round pick by San Francisco in 2014, who spent the past two seasons with the Houston Texans after two seasons with the 49ers.

Abdullah’s best season came in his rookie year, when he gained 780 total yards (597 rushing, 183 receiving) and scored three touchdowns.

He will provide depth at the position for the Vikings. Starter Dalvin Cook missed five games this season with a hamstring injury.

Latavius Murray leads Minnesota with 417 rushing yards. Cook has 187.

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Bears LB Mack back at practice

Bears LB Mack back at practice


Bears LB Mack back at practice

Chicago Bears: Linebacker Khalil Mack returned to practice and the Bears hit the field Wednesday as healthy as they’ve been in weeks. Wide receiver Allen Robinson II, tight end Adam Shaheen — who is on injured reserve — tight end Ben Braunecker and defensive tackle Bilal Nichols were all part of the group that returned to the field. Mack has been limited by an ankle injury since the Bears’ overtime loss at Miami, when he originally sprained his right ankle but played the majority of defensive snaps. He hasn’t practiced on a Wednesday since Week 6. After playing against the Patriots in Week 7, Mack missed the first two games of his career the past two weeks.

Detroit Lions: For the first time since Week 1, defensive end Ziggy Ansah is not facing questions about whether he can take the field this week. “I feel amazing,” Ansah said. “It’s a process. We’re taking in week in and week out. We’ll find out on Sunday how many reps I get.” Ansah said he sees definite room for improvement, but felt great to be back on the field. “I’ve taken a lot of reps in meetings, walkthroughs, practice — I’ve been playing football for awhile. I’m hoping my instincts will take over,” Ansah said. Playing on the franchise tag, Ansah saw just 12 snaps last week but tallied a sack, giving him two on 31 snaps this season.

Green Bay Packers: Marquez Valdes-Scantling is expected to be the third wide receiver — a starter in Green Bay’s preferred three-WR sets — this week after Geronimo Allison (core muscle) was placed on injured reserve. Valdes-Scantling has 100 yards in two of the past three games while flashing big-play ability (21.1 yards per catch this year). “The transition is the biggest challenge for the rookies, play speed, understanding,” head coach Mike McCarthy said. “At the end of the day, he’s been given more opportunities, probably more than expected with the injuries. His confidence continues to grow each week.”

Minnesota Vikings: Before a 10-sack shellacking of the Detroit Lions, the Vikings were not looking like their dominant selves on defense. Head coach Mike Zimmer said a willingness to change was the magic tonic for Minnesota. “Quite honestly, we’ve had to change up a lot,” Zimmer said before beginning the bye week. “Because we’re good at what we did, people are copying it. There’s a lot of teams now that are playing a style of defense similar to us. Now, all these offenses are attacking these defenses pretty much the same way. So we’ve had to adjust and change coverages and what we’ve done in the red zone.”

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Steelers look to up tempo against Panthers

Steelers look to up tempo against Panthers

Steelers look to up tempo against Panthers

Baltimore Ravens: Baltimore has a bye this week.

Cincinnati Bengals: With A.J. Green (toe) out and the Bengals without one of their top weapons, Cincinnati hopes to find a way to slow down the Saints and quarterback Drew Brees. Defensive end Carlos Dunlap said, “we have to find a way to slow down the future Hall of Famer. Anytime somebody throws the ball quick like that, one of the challenges is disrupting their routes a little bit to get that extra time.” Dunlap said the average defensive lineman cannot get to Brees before his release time of less than 2.7 seconds. “If you want to get to him,” Dunlap said, “disrupt the timing.”

Cleveland Browns: Quarterback Baker Mayfield said the Browns are close to popping more big plays and noted the team is spending extra time on execution in the red zone. “Continuing to score points — touchdowns. When we get the shot plays, converting those,” Mayfield said of his focus this week. “With any of our playmakers, get the ball in their hands, let them do the work.” Mayfield said the Browns understand they must be able to threaten down the field and also make those plays to improve. “There was a big jump last week, we’ve got to make that moreso this week,” he said.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Coach Mike Tomlin resisted calling the short week a disadvantage and instead encouraged his players to embrace mental repetitions. “Running routes, stay healthy,” wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster said. “A lot of mental reps.” Smith-Schuster and the Steelers are likely to employ more fast-paced sets in an effort to maximize the advantage of the Carolina Panthers, who had only 72 hours to get ready for the game. “For us, no-huddle, our pace, it makes everything easier,” Smith-Schuster said.

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Jaguars’ Fournette practices in full, nearing return

Jaguars' Fournette practices in full, nearing return

Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars’ Fournette practices in full, nearing return

Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette appears ready for a return after practicing in full on Wednesday for the first time in six weeks.

Fournette has not played since Week 4 because of a hamstring injury and has appeared in only two games this season, rushing for 71 yards on 20 carries. After aggravating the injury on multiple occasions, he has remained out as the team tries to avoid any future setbacks.

Fournette participated in individual drills Monday as the team exited its bye week, but Wednesday was his first full session.

Also practicing in full on Wednesday was quarterback Blake Bortles, who is battling a left (non-throwing) shoulder injury sustained in the fourth quarter of the team’s Week 8 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in London.

“It’s just banged up,” Bortles told reporters Wednesday. “No different than anybody else getting a nick or a bruise or whatever.”

Cornerbacks A.J. Bouye (calf), who sat out the game in London, and Quenton Meeks (knee) missed practice on Wednesday.

The Jaguars (3-5), who are on a four-game losing streak, return to action Sunday against the Colts in Indianapolis.

Jacksonville traded for Carlos Hyde while Fournette was out and also has T.J. Yeldon available in the backfield. Yeldon leads the team with 334 rushing yards on 81 carries.

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Bills’ Allen, Edmunds practice; Anderson still out

Bills' Allen, Edmunds practice; Anderson still out


Bills’ Allen, Edmunds practice; Anderson still out

Buffalo Bills first-round draft picks Josh Allen and linebacker Tremaine Edmunds each practiced on Wednesday, giving both a chance to return Sunday at the New York Jets.

Allen was limited again like he was on Friday, his first practice since spraining his right (throwing) elbow in Week 6 against the Houston Texans. Head coach Sean McDermott said the rookie quarterback has had no setbacks and “has done a good job so far.” Allen told reporters he’s felt good while throwing for the first time in weeks.

“We’re still taking it day-to-day,” Allen said. “Just trying to work through if there’s any soreness or stiffness, just trying to get back in the swing of playing football again.”

McDermott admitted the team’s Week 11 bye will be a consideration in deciding when Allen will return to the starting lineup. If Allen misses his fourth straight game on Sunday, he would have two extra weeks to get healthy before a Week 12 game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Veteran backup Derek Anderson, who was concussed late in a Week 8 loss to the New England Patriots, did not practice on Wednesday and remains at least two steps away from clearing concussion protocol.

With Anderson out last week, Nathan Peterman made his second start of the season and threw three interceptions, bringing his career total to 12 picks on 130 attempts. Peterman finished 31 of 49 for 189 yards, the lowest yardage total with at least 30 completions in a game in NFL history.

Meanwhile, Edmunds returned to a limited practice on Wednesday, his first session since sustaining a concussion against the Patriots. Barring a setback, Edmunds should clear protocol in time to face the Jets.

Edmunds, 20, leads the Bills in tackles (62) and passes defensed (seven) despite missing last week’s game. He also has a sack, four QB hits and a pair of forced fumbles this season.

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Vikings claim Abdullah off waivers from Detroit

EAGAN, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota Vikings have claimed running back Ameer Abdullah off waivers from the Detroit Lions.

The Vikings announced the move Wednesday.

Abdullah was drafted by the Lions in the second round in 2015, but they weren't using him much this year. He has 1,251 yards rushing along with 57

EAGAN, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota Vikings have claimed running back Ameer Abdullah off waivers from the Detroit Lions.

The Vikings announced the move Wednesday.

Abdullah was drafted by the Lions in the second round in 2015, but they weren’t using him much this year. He has 1,251 yards rushing along with 57 receptions in his career.

The Vikings also waived rookie running back Roc Thomas.

Minnesota is off this week. The Vikings return to action Nov. 18 at Chicago.


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Browns GM Dorsey to lead search for team’s next coach

BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Browns general manager John Dorsey is heading the team's search for a new coach.

Owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam recently fired coach Hue Jackson, who won just three of 40 games over two-plus seasons. It was assumed Dorsey would lead the pursuit for Jackson's successor, and vice president of

BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Browns general manager John Dorsey is heading the team’s search for a new coach.

Owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam recently fired coach Hue Jackson, who won just three of 40 games over two-plus seasons. It was assumed Dorsey would lead the pursuit for Jackson’s successor, and vice president of communications Peter John-Baptiste confirmed that Wednesday night to dispel speculation the Haslams would not involve Dorsey.

Dorsey will collaborate with the Haslams on the hire.

Dorsey has overhauled Cleveland’s roster since he was hired in December. He has never been in charge of hiring a coach, but the Haslams are turning to their top football executive to help them find a replacement for Jackson, who was brought back for a third season despite going 1-31 in his first two.

Jackson was the third coach fired by the Haslams since they took over the franchise in 2012.

Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is serving as Cleveland’s interim coach.


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