Jets’ Crowell looks to build off record-setting performance

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Isaiah Crowell kept hitting the holes cleared by the New York Jets’ offensive line and ran.

And, ran some more.

All the way into the franchise record books.

Crowell rushed for a whopping 219 yards on just 15 carries in the Jets’ 34-16 victory over Denver last Sunday, setting the team mark for yards rushing in a single game.

“Every time I got the ball, it was like at any given time, it could be a big play,” Crowell said Friday. “That really was because of my offensive line. I feel like they did their part, so I’ve got to credit them.”

Big rushing performances are usually the product of great O-line play. But Crowell also deserves some kudos for his big day.

After all, he became the fourth player in NFL history to run for 200 or more yards on 15 or fewer attempts, and his 14.6-yard average was the highest by any player with at least 15 carries.

“It hasn’t been like that since high school,” a smiling Crowell said. “In high school, I think I ran for 300 yards or something like that and five touchdowns in a playoff game, but not since then. Each level, you progress and the talent level progresses, so it hasn’t been like that since then.”

Crowell broke the Jets record of 210 yards rushing previously set by Thomas Jones in 2009. He was selected the AFC offensive player of the week and also won the league’s weekly award for FedEx Ground Player of the Week.

That’s quite a week for Crowell, and one that will be tough to top Sunday against Indianapolis.

“When you do something like that, you’re kind of unsure like, dang, how’d that happen?” Crowell said. “You’ve just got to move forward and try keep progressing as you go and just know that every game is not going to be like that.”

Crowell has been nursing an ankle injury this week, and is listed as questionable on the Jets’ injury list. He sat out practice Wednesday and Thursday, but returned on a limited basis Friday — a promising sign. Still, coach Todd Bowles said the running back would be a “Sunday decision” as to whether he’ll play.

After scampering all those yards last weekend, it’s no wonder Crowell’s ankle is a bit sore.

“We’ll work him out Sunday and see where he’s at,” Bowles said.

It’s expected that Crowell will be ready to roll by the time the game kicks off. Whether he’ll come anywhere close to the performance he had last Sunday is another story.

He had 21 yards on three carries in the first quarter. On his first handoff of the second quarter, Crowell ran for a 77-yard touchdown that was the second-longest scoring run in team history — 1 yard shy of Bruce Harper’s record set in 1983.

Crowell has scored on runs of 77 and 62 yards in his first five games with the Jets, joining Leon Washington as the only players in team history to have two TD runs of 60 yards or more.

He had a 54-yard run in the third quarter, giving him nine plays of 50 yards or more to lead NFL running backs in that category since 2015.

As he approached the team mark late in the game, running backs coach Stump Mitchell pulled him aside to let him know he was on the verge of something special.

“He was like, ‘You can get it since you’re so close,'” Crowell recalled. “That’s what I was chasing. When I did get it, he told me and I was happy about it, but it wasn’t like a goal or anything. It just happened.”

The mark was set on his final carry of the game, a 36-yard run in the fourth quarter.

The performance also wiped away some of the controversy surrounding Crowell the previous few weeks .

He was fined $13,369 by the NFL and scolded by Bowles after he wiped the football against his backside after scoring a touchdown at Cleveland — where he spent his first four seasons — two weeks ago. Crowell cashed in on that mistake, though, getting an endorsement deal from a company that makes toilet paper alternatives for men.

With the type of game he had last Sunday, surely there were some more off-field opportunities to pad the bank account, right?

“I prefer to not talk about my endorsements,” Crowell said after a big chuckle.

Despite the gaudy final rushing total, Crowell insists he isn’t spoiled to the point where anything less than 200 yards now is just an OK game.

“Nah, because I know that was like an amazing game,” he said. “You can have 50 yards and as long as you win the game, it was a good game. You could have a bad game, but did enough to help your team win so that’s really what it’s all about.”

___

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Was Beckham’s $2M watch Monday actually a fake?

Was Beckham's $2M watch Monday actually a fake?

The watch

Was Beckham’s $2M watch Monday actually a fake?

The watch Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. wore before his team’s game against the New York Jets on Monday continued to make headlines Tuesday, but for an entirely different reason.

When ESPN cameras caught Beckham wearing a white and transparent watch on the MetLife Stadium turf before the game, many said the timepiece looked just like the Richard Mille RM 56-02 Tourbillon Sapphire. There are only 10 of those in existence, and they are valued at more than $2 million each.

But early Tuesday morning, famed watch collector/aficionado Anish Bhatt alleged the watch is a fake.

“@obj wears a FAKE Richard Mille RM56-01 Sapphire (except his is made of plastic) during the warm ups vs New York Jets last night,” Bhatt alleged on the Instagram page for his company, Watch Anish. He also posted images of an authentic RM56-01 and the knock-off he believes Beckham wore.

In his postgame news conference, Beckham was asked about the watch. His response:

“I am off of it. I don’t really have any comment about it. I think (Swedish brand) Daniel Wellington might be a better watch than these, a little classier, it’s not as flashy as this one. I’m just blessed.”

During the Browns’ season-opening loss to the Tennessee Titans on Sept. 8, Beckham wore a Richard Mille RM 11-03 McLaren Flyback Chronograph watch, valued at approximately $350,000. A day later, the NFL reportedly called the Browns and informed them Beckham could no longer wear the watch during games as it violated the league’s rule “prohibiting hard objects.”

On Monday night, Beckham had six catches for 161 yards, making a one-handed grab to set up a first-and-goal and taking a short pass from Baker Mayfield and taking it a career-long 89 yards for the final touchdown in the Browns’ 23-3 win.

–Field Level Media

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NFL notebook: Roethlisberger lost for season

NFL notebook: Roethlisberger lost for season

NFL notebook: Roethlisberger lost for season

A painful Sunday led to a sobering Monday for some of the NFL’s biggest names, and nowhere was the news more sobering than in Pittsburgh, where the Steelers learned starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will miss the remainder of the season.

While the team did not disclose the exact nature of the injury, coach Mike Tomlin said through a statement that an MRI exam on Roethlisberger’s right elbow Sunday night revealed an injury that would require surgery — a surgery which will happen this week and end the quarterback’s season.

Roethlisberger left the game against the Seattle Seahawks in the second quarter, grabbing his right elbow after a throw. The Steelers lost 28-26 at home and are 0-2 to start the season for only the second time in Roethlisberger’s 16-year career.

Mason Rudolph entered the game and completed 12 of 19 passes for 112 yards and two touchdowns. He will now start in Roethlisberger’s place.

–The other major quarterback injury was to New Orleans’ Drew Brees, who sustained an injury to a thumb ligament when his hand was hit by Los Angeles defensive tackle Aaron Donald as he threw a pass.

The NFL Network reported Monday that Brees will undergo surgery to repair the ligament in his right thumb and could miss six weeks, but Saints coach Sean Payton said on a conference call later in the day that Brees was seeking a second opinion and the Saints had no news to report on his status.

Teddy Bridgewater replaced Brees and will start this weekend in Seattle. He was 17 of 30 for 165 yards in the 27-9 loss.

In other injury news …

–Jets quarterback Trevor Siemian sustained an ankle injury and exited the field midway through the second quarter of New York’s Monday night game against the Cleveland Browns. Third-stringer Luke Falk took his place. …. Steelers starting running back James Conner told 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh that he was confident he would play next Sunday in San Francisco after injuring his knee against Seattle.

–Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Gallup reportedly needs arthroscopic surgery to trim the meniscus in his left knee and will miss 2-4 weeks. … Los Angeles Rams tight end Tyler Higbee sustained a chest injury that resulted in his coughing up blood in a hospital, Rams coach Sean McVay confirmed to reporters. McVay said Higbee has a lung contusion and is day to day.

–Los Angeles Chargers safety Adrian Phillips will go on injured reserve and be lost for a “significant amount of time” because of a broken right forearm, coach Anthony Lynn said. … Kansas City running back LeSean McCoy was reportedly set to undergo an MRI exam on his ankle after suffering an injury late in a 28-10 win in Oakland.

–Philadelphia defensive tackle Tim Jernigan reportedly suffered a foot injury, with NFL Network saying the injury could cost him “roughly a month” while Pro Football Talk said the foot is broken and Jernigan could be out for the year. … New England Patriots left tackle Isaiah Wynn will reportedly have an MRI exam for a toe injury suffered after playing just 11 snaps.

As for players looking to find new teams …

–The Miami Dolphins traded disgruntled defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick to the Pittsburgh Steelers for a 2020 first-round draft pick, multiple media outlets reported. That would give the Dolphins three first-round picks in the 2020 draft, adding to their own and the one they acquired from the Houston Texans in the trade involving tackle Laremy Tunsil in late August.

–The agent for Jacksonville cornerback Jalen Ramsey has asked the Jaguars to trade him, multiple outlets reported. The request comes after the 2017 All-Pro got into a sideline argument with coach Doug Marrone during a 13-12 loss at Houston.

–Disgruntled Dallas defensive end Taco Charlton — a 2017 first-round pick — tweeted “Free me” to the Cowboys, a day after he was a healthy scratch for the second straight game.

Around the league …

–The attorney for Patriots wide receiver Antonio Brown denied a new claim of sexual misconduct against his client that surfaced in a Sports Illustrated report. The story also includes accusations of a charity auction theft, multiple domestic incidents and a number of unpaid debts. … New York Giants coach Pat Shurmur did not commit to Eli Manning as his starting quarterback for Week 3 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with rookie first-round pick Daniel Jones waiting in the wings.

–Cleveland Browns defensive end Chris Smith planned to play Monday night, just five days after his girlfriend Petara Cordero was killed on a highway in Cleveland. … Indianapolis coach Frank Reich is sticking with kicker Adam Vinatieri, despite the 46-year-old kicker missing five total kicks in two games.

–Field Level Media

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Study: 15% of U.S. will bet on NFL games

Study: 15% of U.S. will bet on NFL games

More than 38

Study: 15% of U.S. will bet on NFL games

More than 38 million Americans — 15 percent of the country’s population — are expected to place bets on the National Football League this season, according to the American Gaming Association (AGA).

Based on a study conducted by Morning Consult, the AGA report stated that millions of Americans now have access to regulated betting within the United States. The report also said that 24 percent of the population would plan to wager on NFL games if it were legal to do so in their state.

Seven million Americans say they will bet legally at a casino sportsbook this year, according to the report, up 1.2 million from last year.

“During this centennial NFL season, more Americans than ever before can wager on football in safe, well-regulated environments,” AGA president and CEO Bill Miller said in a statement. “It is clear that as jurisdictions enact policies to provide a legal alternative to the dangerous illegal market, consumers follow suit and seek the protections they deserve.”

Additional data indicates increased fan engagement on several levels when a wager is made:

–39 percent of avid NFL fans plan to place a bet on the NFL this season.

–75 percent of NFL bettors say they are more likely to watch a game they bet on.

–28 percent are more likely to attend a game they have bet on.

–51 percent are more likely to watch pregame shows and commentary.

–63 percent are more likely to gather with friends or family to watch a game.

“Sports betting clearly impacts fans’ enthusiasm for engaging with the NFL,” said Miller. “As the legal market grows, it is imperative for gaming and adjacent industries to focus on implementing and promoting legal sports betting responsibly to protect consumers and ensure the viability of legal markets to the continued detriment of illegal operators.”

–Field Level Media

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Chargers put S Phillips on IR, sign TE Kendricks

Chargers put S Phillips on IR, sign TE Kendricks

Chargers put S Phillips on IR, sign TE Kendricks

The Los Angeles Chargers placed strong safety Adrian Phillips on injured reserve and signed tight end Lance Kendricks on Tuesday.

Phillips, who had been starting in place of injured All-Pro Derwin James, is out indefinitely with a broken forearm sustained late in a loss at Detroit on Sunday. He will miss at least eight weeks before being eligible to be recalled from IR.

Kendricks, 31, spent the preseason with the New England Patriots before being released last week after serving a one-game, NFL-imposed suspension for a violation related to a “drug of abuse.” He will provide depth with Hunter Henry out injured, as the Chargers dressed only two tight ends against the Lions.

Phillips has 13 tackles this season after totaling 94 in 2018. He also had nine pass breakups and an interception last season, when he started seven of 16 games and also earned Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors as a special-teamer.

When James is healthy, Phillips primarily works as a dime linebacker in five- and six-DB packages.

Jaylen Watkins played 16 snaps Sunday in relief at strong safety, and second-round rookie Nasir Adderley saw one snap after not playing on defense in Week 1. Watkins has five starts in 38 career games.

James is already on IR with a broken foot, projected to return in November.

Kendricks had 19 catches for 170 yards and a touchdown in 16 games (three starts) with the Green Bay Packers in 2018. The ninth-year veteran spent the first six years of his career with the St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams.

The Chargers also signed defensive end Chris Peace, waived wideout Andre Patton and added safety Adarius Pickett to the practice squad.

–Field Level Media

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NFL notebook: Giants turn to rookie QB Jones, bench Manning

NFL notebook: Giants turn to rookie QB Jones, bench Manning

NFL notebook: Giants turn to rookie QB Jones, bench Manning

New York Giants head coach Pat Shurmur named Daniel Jones as the team’s starting quarterback for Week 3, sending Eli Manning to the backup role after an 0-2 start to the 2019 season.

“Eli and I spoke this morning,” Shurmur said Tuesday. “I told him that we are making a change and going with Daniel as the starter. I also talked to Daniel. Eli was obviously disappointed, as you would expect, but he said he would be what he has always been, a good teammate, and continue to prepare to help this team win games. Daniel understands the challenge at hand, and he will be ready to play on Sunday.”

The Giants play the Buccaneers (1-1) on Sunday in Tampa to kick off the Jones Era.

Manning, 38, won two Super Bowls with the Giants and was the top overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft. The 22-year-old Jones was selected with the sixth overall pick in this year’s NFL draft.

–Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton sat out practice and could miss Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals after aggravating a foot injury on Thursday.

General manager Marty Hurney and head coach Ron Rivera told reporters Newton said his foot was sore following the team’s Thursday night loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The 30-year-old sprained his left foot in a preseason game last month against the New England Patriots.

Teammate Eric Reid said Newton has been in a walking boot.

–After seeing two specialists about his injured right thumb, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees will have surgery Wednesday in Los Angeles, ESPN’s Ed Werder reported.

Werder cited a source saying the timeline for Brees’ return won’t be known until after surgery, which will be performed by Dr. Steven Shinn.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the current expectation is six weeks.

–New York Jets quarterback Trevor Siemian is out for the season with a left ankle injury and likely will need surgery, coach Adam Gase announced.

Siemian, filling in for ill starter Sam Darnold, was injured in the second quarter of Monday night’s loss to the Cleveland Browns.

Second-year quarterback Luke Falk is expected to start Sunday against the Patriots.

–Patriots left tackle Isaiah Wynn was placed on injured reserve with a toe injury, putting him out until at least mid-November.

–Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson is expected to miss two weeks because of an abdominal strain, ESPN reported.

–The Los Angeles Chargers placed strong safety Adrian Phillips on injured reserve and signed tight end Lance Kendricks.

–Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri is working to clear the “demons” from his head amid a rocky stretch, but he told reporters he has not considered retiring, contrary to speculation in recent days.

–Former first-round pick Paxton Lynch was signed to the Pittsburgh Steelers practice squad.

–An MRI exam on LeSean McCoy’s ankle showed the Kansas City Chiefs running back sustained “no significant damage,” NFL Network reported.

–The Detroit Lions released veteran running back C.J. Anderson, clearing a roster spot after they claimed running back Paul Perkins off waivers from the Giants.

–Field Level Media

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Jets’ Siemian (ankle) reportedly headed for MRI

Jets' Siemian (ankle) reportedly headed for MRI

Jets quarterback Trevor Siemian

Jets’ Siemian (ankle) reportedly headed for MRI

Jets quarterback Trevor Siemian sustained an ankle injury and exited the field midway through the second quarter of New York’s Monday night game against the Cleveland Browns, and he didn’t return to action.

The Jets announced in-game that Siemian’s ankle ailment was being evaluated. After the Jets’ 23-3 loss, multiple media outlets reported that Siemian will undergo an MRI exam Tuesday.

Siemian was injured when he was hit by Browns defensive Myles Garrett after throwing a deep incompletion in East Rutherford, N.J. Siemian’s toes pressed into the turf and his left leg twisted as he felt the brunt of the weight of his lower body plus Garrett’s body weight falling on him.

Siemian was able to walk off the field and soon was taken into the locker room for observation. He had completed 3 of 6 passes for 3 yards.

Garrett tweeted postgame, “I want to wish @TrevorSiemian a speedy recovery. We put our bodies on the line every single snap, and I wouldn’t wish an injury on anyone.”

Luke Falk, a former star quarterback at Washington State, replaced Siemian and finished 20 of 25 for 198 yards.

Siemian started Monday because Sam Darnold was out due to mononucleosis.

–Field Level Media

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Reports: Raiders to suspend Brown after Mayock altercation

Reports: Raiders to suspend Brown after Mayock altercation

The Oakland

Reports: Raiders to suspend Brown after Mayock altercation

The Oakland Raiders plan to suspend wideout Antonio Brown after he “got into it” with general manager Mike Mayock, multiple outlets reported Thursday.

Speaking to reporters later in the day, Mayock didn’t confirm the reports.

“Short and sweet, Antonio Brown is not in the building today,” Mayock said. “He won’t be practicing. I don’t have any more information for you right now. When I have some and it becomes appropriate, you guys will all get it but that’s it for today.”

Head coach Jon Gruden declined to get into details after practice, telling reporters the team would have “an official announcement later.” Brown was officially listed on the injury report as a non-participant, with the designation “not injury related – conduct.”

“Obviously he wasn’t here today, and when we have some information for you, we’ll get it to you,” Gruden said.

Multiple outlets reported Brown had to be held back from Mayock by teammates. NFL Network reported that Brown told Mayock he would hit him in the face, then punted a football and said, “Fine me for that.”

Their exchange occurred Wednesday after Brown went on Instagram and posted a letter he received from Mayock detailing the $53,950 in fines he accrued while missing time in training camp.

Brown wasn’t pleased with the letter, judging by his response. “When your own team want to hate but there’s no stopping me now devil is a lie,” he wrote in the caption. “Everyone got to pay this year so we clear.”

Should the Raiders suspend Brown for conduct detrimental to the team, they could make a case that the guarantees in Brown’s contract should be voided. His contract calls for about $30 million of guaranteed money.

Brown, 31, missed time during the preseason while dealing with blistering feet as a result of a frostbite mishap during cryogenic therapy as well as grievances involving his helmet.

The Raiders open the season Monday night at home against the Denver Broncos. Tyrell Williams, signed in March as a free agent from the Chargers, will presumably be the No. 1 wide receiver.

Asked if the team is prepared to play without Brown, Gruden told reporters, “Yeah, and we’ve been doing that.”

“We have been practicing without him and preparing to play no matter who’s … injured,” Gruden added. “We have to adapt, and unfortunately we had to adapt again today, but we’re really excited about our receiving corps.”

The Raiders acquired Brown, a seven-time Pro Bowl selection, from the Pittsburgh Steelers in a trade in March and later signed him to a three-year, $50.125 million contract.

Brown caught at least 100 passes and exceeded 1,200 receiving yards in each of the past six seasons with the Steelers. He appeared in 130 games with Pittsburgh from 2010-18, catching 837 passes for 11,207 yards and 74 touchdowns.

–Field Level Media

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Rodgers or Mack? Book boosting stars in opener

Rodgers or Mack? Book boosting stars in opener

With legalized gambling expanding state by

Rodgers or Mack? Book boosting stars in opener

With legalized gambling expanding state by state, sportsbooks are pulling out all the stops to catch the attention of the 38 million fans expected to bet on NFL games this season, according to a report by the American Gaming Association.

That effort begins in earnest with Thursday night’s regular-season opener between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears.

While most books have the Bears around a field goal favorite at home, DraftKings is offering “Boosts” on several individual performances.

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is 16-5 all-time against the Bears, with a passer rating over 100 and a 45-10 TD-to-INT ratio. DraftKings has boosted his odds of throwing at least four touchdowns on Thursday from +800 to +850 as Rodgers — who did not play during the preseason — makes his debut in new coach Matt LaFleur’s offense.

Rodgers was knocked out of last season’s opener against Chicago, only to return and lead Green Bay from a 20-0 deficit to a 24-23 victory. However, the Bears returned the favor by sacking Rodgers five times in a 24-17 victory in the second meeting.

DraftKings is offering a boost from +500 to +545 that Bears pass rusher Khalil Mack drops the 35-year-old quarterback at least two times. This caveat? Chicago also must win.

Packers wide receiver Davante Adams caught 13 passes for 207 yards and one touchdown in the two games against the Bears last season. DraftKings is offering a boost from +900 to +1010 that Adams scores the first touchdown in a Green Bay victory.

PointsBet, which is offering -105 odds on all NFL games this season, is also offering numerous prop bets on individual performances Thursday night. That includes -170 on Rodgers throwing for more yards than Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky (+126), and -264 that Adams has more receiving yards than Chicago’s Allen Robinson (+188).

It’s a critical opener for both teams, with the Bears (+900 by DraftKings) and Packers (+1000) both among the top five bets on DraftKings to emerge as the NFC champion.

PointsBet is offering a +900 bet on there being overtime, versus -2500 that the game ends in regulation. And in a game between teams expected to light up the scoreboard this season, the book is offering a +310 bet that there will be a scoreless quarter.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Raiders plan to suspend WR Brown

Report: Raiders plan to suspend WR Brown

The Oakland Raiders

Report: Raiders plan to suspend WR Brown

The Oakland Raiders plan to suspend wideout Antonio Brown after he “got into it” with general manager Mike Mayock, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Thursday.

Speaking to reporters later in the day, Mayock didn’t confirm the reports.

“Short and sweet, Antonio Brown is not in the building today,” Mayock said. “He won’t be practicing. I don’t have any more information for you right now. When I have some and it becomes appropriate, you guys will all get it but that’s it for today.”

Their exchange occurred Wednesday after Brown went on Instagram and posted a letter he received from Mayock detailing the $53,950 in fines he accrued while missing time in training camp.

Brown wasn’t pleased with the letter, judging by his response. “When your own team want to hate but there’s no stopping me now devil is a lie,” he wrote in the caption. “Everyone got to pay this year so we clear.”

Should the Raiders suspend Brown for conduct detrimental to the team, they could make a case that the guarantees in Brown’s contract should be voided. His contract calls for about $30 million of guaranteed money.

Brown, 31, missed time during the preseason while dealing with blistering feet as a result of a frostbite mishap during cryogenic therapy as well as grievances involving his helmet.

The Raiders open the season Monday night at home against the Denver Broncos.

The Raiders acquired the seven-time Pro Bowl selection from the Pittsburgh Steelers in a trade in March and later signed him to a three-year, $50.125 million contract.

Brown caught at least 100 passes and exceeded 1,200 receiving yards in each of the past six seasons with the Steelers. He appeared in 130 games with Pittsburgh from 2010-18, catching 837 passes for 11,207 yards and 74 touchdowns.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Eagles WR Jackson out two weeks

Report: Eagles WR Jackson out two weeks

Report: Eagles WR Jackson out two weeks

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson is expected to miss two weeks because of an abdominal strain, ESPN reported Tuesday.

Jackson opted against one doctor’s recommendation of surgery, which would have kept Jackson on the sideline for about six weeks, according to an ESPN source.

The 32-year-old Jackson was injured in the first half of Sunday’s loss at the Atlanta Falcons. He did not make a catch in that game after snagging eight passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns in the season-opening victory over the Washington Redskins.

The Eagles brought back Jackson via trade with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in March. A second-round pick by Philadelphia in 2008, Jackson spent six years with the Eagles (2008-13), catching 356 passes for 6,117 yards and 32 touchdowns in 87 games.

Philadelphia wide receiver Alshon Jeffery could also miss Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions after leaving last week’s game with a calf injury.

–Field Level Media

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Saints, WR Thomas discussing long-term deal

Saints, WR Thomas discussing long-term deal

Saints, WR Thomas discussing long-term deal

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas is headed for paydirt, one way or another.

General manager Mickey Loomis said on Mad Dog Sports Radio that the Saints and Thomas have begun talks geared toward a long-term deal. Thomas is entering the final year of his rookie contract.

“We’ve had some conversations, and I like keeping that close to the vest until there’s something to report, but look, we love what Mike’s done for us,” Loomis said. “He’s a fantastic player, one of the best at his position in the league, and hopefully we can keep him a Saint for a long time as well.”

ESPN reported Tuesday that negotiations with Thomas are “progressing,” and that the Saints are “comfortable” with making Thomas the highest-paid receiver in the NFL.

Thomas had 125 receptions for 1,405 yards in 2018, when he was a first-team All-Pro selection.

The Saints recently agreed to a three-year deal with defensive end Cam Jordan, but locking up Thomas might be pushed into the 2020 offseason.

If the two sides are far apart on value, Thomas is expected to be given the franchise tag. The tag value for 2019 was $16.7 million.

Thomas’ four-year deal signed as a second-round pick out of Ohio State calls for him to be paid $1.15 million in salary in 2019.

–Field Level Media

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Well-traveled QB McCown announces retirement

Well-traveled QB McCown announces retirement

Josh McCown, whose 17-year NFL career spanned 10

Well-traveled QB McCown announces retirement

Josh McCown, whose 17-year NFL career spanned 10 teams, announced his retirement Monday.

His longest tenure with any franchise was four seasons, that being with the Arizona Cardinals, who drafted McCown in the third round of the 2002 draft.

He started 22 games for the Cardinals, the most he had in any of his NFL stops.

“But looking back, I’m proud of how my career has gone,” he wrote at The Players’ Tribune website. “I don’t shy away from the journeyman label. I embrace it, full force.

“Because it’s been one heck of a journey.”

McCown played in 99 games (76 starts) across 16 seasons, completing 1,581 of 2,628 passes for 17,707 yards, with 98 touchdowns and 82 interceptions.

McCown, who turns 40 on July 4, spent the past two seasons with the New York Jets, serving as the starter in 2017. He appeared in four games (three starts) last season, serving as a backup to rookie Sam Darnold.

McCown’s career also took him to the Detroit Lions, Oakland Raiders, Miami Dolphins, Carolina Panthers, San Francisco 49ers, Chicago Bears, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Cleveland Browns.

“At the end of the day, no matter what team I was on, I tried to serve it to the best of my ability, and I tried to influence my team in a positive manner. I hope I did that,” McCown wrote.

“And I made sure that when my number was called, I was prepared, and I gave it everything I had, every time. I may not have turned out to be the franchise quarterback I set out to be back at Cardinals rookie camp, but I’m extremely proud of the career I had.”

McCown has done analyst work for ESPN and wrote that he plans to do more of that, as well as coach his two sons, who are high school quarterbacks.

–Field Level Media

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Packers claim TE Roberts off waivers from Lions

Packers claim TE Roberts off waivers from Lions

The Green Bay Packers claimed tight end

Packers claim TE Roberts off waivers from Lions

The Green Bay Packers claimed tight end Michael Roberts off waivers from the Detroit Lions on Monday, according to multiple reports.

The Lions released Roberts on Friday after his trade to the New England Patriots for a 2020 seventh-round pick was rescinded due to a failed physical. New England was expected to have interest in claiming Roberts, but Green Bay had a higher waiver priority.

Roberts, 25, was a fourth-round pick out of Toledo in 2017 after catching 13 touchdowns as a senior. The 25-year-old has 13 receptions for 146 yards and three touchdowns in 23 NFL games, with 48 yards and two scores coming in one game last season (at Miami).

He’ll join a Packers tight end group that includes veterans Jimmy Graham and Marcedes Lewis and third-round rookie Jace Sternberger.

New England has been searching to bolster the position since the retirement of Rob Gronkowski earlier this year.

–Field Level Media

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Lions release RB Anderson, add Perkins

Lions release RB Anderson, add Perkins

The Detroit Lions released veteran running back C.J.

Lions release RB Anderson, add Perkins

The Detroit Lions released veteran running back C.J. Anderson on Tuesday, clearing a roster spot after they claimed running back Paul Perkins off waivers from the New York Giants.

The team also signed quarterback Jeff Driskel and released veteran Josh Johnson, who had signed with the Lions during preseason.

Anderson, 28, had 16 carries for 43 yards through two games with Detroit, rotating in behind starter Kerryon Johnson. He had gained 299 yards and two touchdowns on 43 carries in two games with the Los Angeles Rams late last season, in addition to 189 yards and two touchdowns on 46 carries during the team’s run to the Super Bowl.

A Pro Bowler in 2014 with the Denver Broncos, Anderson also spent time with the Carolina Panthers and Oakland Raiders in 2018.

Perkins, 24, was waived by the Giants on Monday after they claimed tight end Kaden Smith off waivers from the San Francisco 49ers.

A fifth-round pick in 2016, Perkins missed all of the 2018 campaign due to a torn pectoral muscle, and he was not active through the first two weeks of this season. In 25 career games (five starts) with the Giants, he totaled 153 carries for 546 yards, along with 23 catches for 208 yards.

Driskel, 26, was released by the Cincinnati Bengals with an injury settlement last week. He started five games as a rookie while filling in for Andy Dalton in 2018, going 1-4 while throwing for 1,003 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions.

Johnson, 33, was active as Matthew Stafford’s backup for the first two games, but he did not take the field. He has played for five different teams since entering the league as a fifth-round pick in 2008.

–Field Level Media

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QB Rodgers donates helmets to hometown high schools

QB Rodgers donates helmets to hometown high schools

Aaron

QB Rodgers donates helmets to hometown high schools

Aaron Rodgers donated state-of-the-art helmets to three Northerrn California high schools in an area devastated by forest fires last fall.

Rodgers is from Chico, Calif., and played at Pleasant Valley High in the city. In all, the Green Bay Packers quarterback gifted 375 helmets to Pleasant Valley, Chico High and Paradise High.

The schools received the VICIS ZERO1 model of helmets, which the Sacramento Bee reported is a top performer in NFL annual safety tests. Rodgers is an investor in the manufacturer.

The donation was much appreciated.

“I don’t know if anybody outside of Paradise and Butte County can truly understand what football means to helping us to feel normal again,” Paradise coach Rick Prinz told the Sacramento Bee. “We’re grateful for Aaron’s donation.

“I’ve been the head coach now for eight years and not one time have I ever had to ask Aaron for anything. He calls or texts every year and says, ‘Coach, here is what I would like to do. Is this OK?’ He does so much for our school and community that most people have no idea.”

The Camp Fire, as it was named, burned for 17 days in Butte County last November, causing at least 85 deaths and spreading through almost 240 square miles. It caused $16.5 billion in damage.

Rodgers and the Packers open the 2019 season Thursday night against the Chicago Bears.

–Field Level Media

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World No. 3 Johnson recovering from knee surgery

World No. 3 Johnson recovering from knee surgery

World No. 3 Johnson recovering from knee surgery

Dustin Johnson had arthroscopic surgery Thursday to repair cartilage damage in his left knee.

Johnson’s agent said the world’s No. 3-ranked player was resting comfortably and expected to make a full recovery before returning to the PGA Tour this fall.

The surgery was performed in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., by Dr. George Caldwell. Johnson had a similar procedure on his right knee in December 2011 and returned to action in mid-January 2012.

Johnson, 35, won his 20th PGA Tour title in 2019 at the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship. The 2016 U.S. Open champion was runner-up at this year’s Masters and PGA Championship.

He struggled down the stretch this season with zero top-10 finishes in his past eight starts. Johnson tied for last in the 30-man field at the Tour Championship in his most recent start.

–Field Level Media

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Bell ready to carry load for Jets against Bills

Bell ready to carry load for Jets against Bills

Bell ready to carry load for Jets against Bills

Le’Veon Bell hasn’t played in an NFL game in nearly 20 months so his body feels fresh and he craves a heavy workload.

Bell has passed on the message to coach Adam Gase that he is ready to see a lot of the football when he makes his New York Jets’ debut on Sunday against the visiting Buffalo Bills.

Bell’s words to Gase were “don’t hold back” and the 27-year-old expects the play caller to heed the advice in the opener.

“I can carry 50 (times) if you ask me,” Bell told reporters after Wednesday’s practice. “When I say, ‘Don’t hold back,’ I mean literally that. I don’t want to go out there and try to sprinkle me in or anything like that. I’m ready to play football.

“I’ve been waiting a long time for this moment. A lot of people are excited to see me play. Quadruple that, and that’s how I feel.”

Bell signed a four-year, $52.5 million deal with the Jets in the offseason. He refused to sign the franchise tender of $14.5 million with Pittsburgh last season and ended up sitting out the entire season.

Bell rushed for 5,336 yards and 35 touchdowns and caught 312 passes for 2,660 yards and seven scores during five seasons with Pittsburgh.

“I’m not trying to prove anybody wrong,” Bell said. “I’m not trying to prove the Steelers wrong. Everybody is trying to format me with the Steelers. I’m not talking about the Steelers anymore. I’m done talking about the Steelers. I want to worry about the Bills, and I want to worry about the Jets. That’s it.”

Bell and first-year coach Gase are trying to ignite a Jets squad that went 4-12 last season and missed the playoffs for the eighth straight campaign.

Second-year quarterback Sam Darnold displayed promise last season by passing for 2,865 yards and 17 touchdowns. But he also tossed 15 interceptions, tied for second most in the NFL.

Darnold is hoping to make strides this season under the tutelage of Gase.

“I think we’re going to do some fun things out there with all the tempo and all the different things we can do,” Darnold told reporters. “It’ll be fun. It will be fun to watch us and hopefully we are going to put up a lot of points.”

The Bills, who went 6-10 last season, also have a second-year quarterback in Josh Allen and he was intercepted 12 times last season while passing for 2,074 yards and 10 touchdowns. Allen also rushed for eight scores.

“The smartest play is the best play,” Allen said Wednesday. “The job of the quarterback is to get the ball to the playmakers and let them make plays.”

The Bills’ running back duties will be split up after the recent release of LeSean McCoy. Veteran Frank Gore, versatile T.J. Yeldon and third-round draft pick Devin Singletary will all be involved in the attack.

“Didn’t really expect it,” Singletary told reporters of the Bills cutting McCoy. “But that’s part of the business and what comes with it. It shows they believe in me, so now it’s time to see how it turns out. They believe in me, I believe in myself, so the sky is the limit and we’ll go from here.”

The Buffalo defense should get a lift from rookie defensive tackle Ed Oliver, the ninth overall pick of the 2019 draft. Solid safety Jordan Poyer had four interceptions last season.

New York added linebacker C.J. Mosley to a defensive core led by standout safety Jamal Adams. The Jets also selected nose tackle Quinnen Williams with the third overall choice in the 2019 draft.

–Field Level Media

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Exclusive: Aaron Rodgers has new MVP ‘Mahomie’ in State Farm ads

Exclusive: Aaron Rodgers has new MVP 'Mahomie' in State Farm ads

Exclusive: Aaron Rodgers has new MVP ‘Mahomie’ in State Farm ads

Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers on the same team?

State Farm will release a new series of commercials — three, 30-second spots — two of which bring reigning NFL MVP Mahomes into the player-agent spat between Rodgers and his make-believe player rep Gabe Gabriel. The spots are a continuation of the plotline established in the 2018 ads which also includes a State Farm agent Rodgers won’t leave home without.

Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers open the season Thursday against the Chicago Bears, the opening game of the 2019 regular season and the kickoff of NFL 100, a yearlong celebration of the history of football and its contributors. The Kansas City Chiefs open Sunday in Jacksonville.

Rodgers, a two-time MVP, and Mahomes will be featured in State Farm’s “Tables Have Turned” ad Thursday (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8qjkcihNCU&feature=youtu.be). In the spot, the ever-envious Gabriel attempts to make Rodgers jealous by introducing his hotshot client, Mahomes.

Rodgers, 35, and Mahomes, 23, greet one another and announce “We’re friends.”

“I’m pumped to be working with State Farm and Aaron,” Mahomes said of the new TV spots.

State Farm has utilized Rodgers’ Green Bay teammates in past commercials, including fly-swatting linebacker Clay Matthews and 337-pound defensive lineman B.J. Raji. In their NBA campaign, State Farm teamed former Houston Rockets teammates Chris Paul and James Harden. Paul was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the offseason.

Coming out of Texas Tech in 2017, Mahomes said Rodgers is the player he modeled his style of play after, watching all of Rodgers’ games at Cal to get a better grasp for the traits that now define his excellence.

Mahomes won the 2018 NFL MVP Award in his first full season as a starting quarterback with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Rodgers was voted MVP following the 2011 and 2014 seasons. Thursday’s game at Chicago begins Rodgers’ 15th NFL season.

Forbes estimated Rodgers could earn $90 million in 2019 in combined salary and endorsements. In addition to State Farm, which Forbes labeled one of the richest endorsement deals in the NFL, Rodgers is a pitchman for Adidas, IZOD and Sharpie.

–Field Level Media

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Rams lock up TE Higbee through 2023

Rams lock up TE Higbee through 2023

Rams lock up TE Higbee through 2023

The Los Angeles Rams and tight end Tyler Higbee agreed to terms Thursday on a four-year extension through 2023.

The deal has a base value of $31 million (more than $36 million with incentives) and includes $15 million in guarantees, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported.

Higbee, 26, was entering the final year of his four-year, $2.9 million rookie contract signed in 2016.

A fourth-round pick in 2016 out of Western Kentucky, Higbee has played in all 48 games (39 starts) and caught 60 passes for 672 yards and four touchdowns over the last three seasons.

Higbee caught 24 passes for 292 yards and two touchdowns for the NFC champions in 2018, adding six receptions for 55 yards and a score in the postseason.

–Field Level Media

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Colts’ Vinatieri trying to clear ‘demons,’ didn’t consider retiring

Colts' Vinatieri trying to clear 'demons,' didn't consider retiring

Colts’ Vinatieri trying to clear ‘demons,’ didn’t consider retiring

Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri is working to clear the “demons” from his head amid a rocky stretch, but he told reporters Tuesday he has not considered retiring, contrary to speculation in recent days.

Speculation about his possible retirement mounted after Sunday’s game — in which Vinatieri missed two extra points — when the kicker declined to speak to the media but said they would “hear from me” on Monday, normally the players’ off-day. The 46-year-old said Tuesday that conclusions drawn from the interaction were incorrect.

“Quite frankly, for two decades, we’ve always had open locker rooms on a Monday, and granted our schedule has changed now as of last year,” Vinatieri said. “So when I walked out saying I’ll talk to you guys on Monday, I just needed a little bit more time. Like I said, none of us should assume stuff.

“… I want some time to clear my mind. All the nasty, crazy rumors then got out there.”

Instead, the 24th-year veteran is focused on shaking his cold streak, which includes seven missed kicks in his last three games, dating back to January.

“I’m going to work a lot this week to get those demons out so I can go clear-headed, step on the field and just do my job,” Vinatieri said. “I think anybody that has a bad game, or, I don’t know, I guess if you go out golfing and you hook a couple balls, are you thinking about it until you get it figured out?

“… I’ll spend some time this week working those out.”

Vinatieri, who turns 47 in December, missed two field goals — including a 29-yarder — and an extra point in the season-opening overtime loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. He also missed a 23-yard field goal and an extra point in the Colts’ divisional playoff loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in January.

Head coach Frank Reich has repeatedly supported Vinatieri, telling reporters on Monday, “Adam is our kicker. We have zero concern. He’s not only our kicker, he’s a key leader on our team.”

Vinatieri told reporters he is “plenty healthy” and has been watching film closely as he tries to fix his issues.

The Colts (2-0) host the Atlanta Falcons (1-1) on Sunday.

–Field Level Media

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