Jets’ Darnold has injured foot, could miss game vs. Bills

Jets' Darnold has injured foot, could miss game vs. Bills

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — New York Jets rookie quarterback Sam Darnold has a boot on his right foot and is not practicing, leaving his status for the team’s game Sunday against Buffalo in doubt.

Darnold was injured during the Jets’ 13-6 loss at Miami last Sunday but finished the game. He said Monday that he felt fine other than some bumps and bruises.

Coach Todd Bowles is scheduled to meet with the media after practice later Wednesday.

If Darnold is unable to start, 39-year-old backup Josh McCown would take his place. McCown was the starter last season but hasn’t taken a snap this year.

Darnold has struggled during the Jets’ three-game losing streak, and he leads the NFL with 14 interceptions.

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Browns lose defensive starters Kirksey, Gaines to injuries

BEREA, Ohio (AP) — The losses are piling up for the Browns — in the standings, and on the sideline.

On Wednesday, two defensive starters were added to the stack.

Cleveland placed linebacker Christian Kirksey and cornerback E.J. Gaines on injured reserve, ending their seasons with seven games remaining and putting further strain

BEREA, Ohio (AP) — The losses are piling up for the Browns — in the standings, and on the sideline.

On Wednesday, two defensive starters were added to the stack.

Cleveland placed linebacker Christian Kirksey and cornerback E.J. Gaines on injured reserve, ending their seasons with seven games remaining and putting further strain on a unit lacking quality depth and experience.

“Those two guys, they really set a precedent for what we wanted to do as a team, as a defense,” said cornerback T.J. Carrie. “And, of course, they’ll still be here sparingly in and out throughout the week, but it’s a lot different when they were on the field fighting with you, blood, sweat and tears with you, through the trenches.

“We’re going to definitely miss that. Those are two players that we can’t replace.”

One of the team’s captains, Kirksey injured his left hamstring in the second quarter Sunday as the Browns (2-6-1) lost their fourth straight game, 37-21 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Gaines sustained his second concussion in three weeks when he took a knee to the helmet while trying to make a tackle in the first quarter.

The loss of Kirksey is especially damaging because he’s one of the team’s leaders. The fifth-year pro has played on the weak side and in the middle this season, making 43 tackles and two interceptions.

“Kirko is kind of the heart and soul of the defense, heart and soul of the team in the locker room, on the field, just how he goes about his business,” said linebacker Joe Schobert, a 2017 Pro Bowler who returned to practice after missing three games with a hamstring injury. “It’s the next-man-up mentality, but there’s things that you’re going to miss.”

Schobert’s return will help ease the loss of Kirksey, and the Browns are expected to have defensive back Damarious Randall for Sunday’s game against Atlanta after he missed last week’s game with a groin injury.

Linebacker Jamie Collins (ankle) and rookie cornerback Denzel Ward (hip) were limited in practice, but interim coach Gregg Williams expects both back on the field Thursday.

Randall, who has played cornerback and free safety, felt he was healthy enough to play last week, but Williams kept him out so he would have the versatile defensive back for multiple games. Randall’s absence became magnified when Ward and Gaines went down on the Chiefs’ opening drive, forcing Williams to adjust his game plan against the NFL’s most electrifying offense and play seldom-used reserves Denzel Rice and Tavierre Thomas.

“It’s very hard,” Carrie said of losing two key players. “It changes the game plan. It changes a lot of things because you can only give practice reps to so many guys, and so you get guys that come in and they’re athletes, but it’s hard when you don’t know the schematics of the little details that we put in for that game.”

And, as luck would have it, the banged-up Browns will have to deal with a talented Atlanta team that has overcome its own injury issues and reeled off three straight wins.

Schobert’s return is vital to Cleveland’s defense as he’s the one responsible for calling out Williams’ pre-snap schemes and getting his teammates organized — an on-field coach.

After missing three weeks, getting back on the field will be a welcomed change for Schobert, who had played every defensive snap since the start of the 2017 season until he got hurt on Oct. 21 at Tampa Bay.

“It is just different. It is weird,” Schobert said of being inactive. “Especially with a hamstring. You just walk around on the sideline feeling good and watching people on the field thinking you can be out there — wishing you could be out there. You just have to kind of suck it up and take it into your own role however you can help a team in that aspect.

“That is what I was doing. Just kind of jumped right into more of a coaching aspect, trying to keep myself involved that way. I think it helped.”

NOTES: Rookie LT Desmond Harrison was limited in practice after missing last week’s game with an undisclosed illness. Greg Robinson stepped in and played well in his first start for Cleveland. Williams hasn’t decided who he’ll play against the Falcons. “What we will do is every day is an interview and both of them are taking reps,” he said. “By the end of the week, we will make what is best and it is good — the fact that you have depth. Guys can compete and get ready to roll.” … The Browns signed DB Juston Burris to the active roster off the Jets’ practice squad. A fourth-round pick in 2016, he appeared in 34 games for New York.

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Floundering Jaguars take ‘must-win’ approach against Colts

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Jacksonville Jaguars used their bye week to ponder the team's precarious position.

Mired in a four-game losing streak and being 0-2 in the AFC South, they came to this conclusion: They must win at division rival Indianapolis (3-5) on Sunday.

It's essentially a playoff atmosphere for Jacksonville (3-5) in early

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Jacksonville Jaguars used their bye week to ponder the team’s precarious position.

Mired in a four-game losing streak and being 0-2 in the AFC South, they came to this conclusion: They must win at division rival Indianapolis (3-5) on Sunday.

It’s essentially a playoff atmosphere for Jacksonville (3-5) in early November.

“This is a thousand percent a must-win,” linebacker Myles Jack said Wednesday. “No. 1, it’s a conference game that we’ve got to win. And then we’re on a four-game losing streak, so we can’t lose another game.”

NFL teams are usually reluctant to put too much emphasis on any one game, especially in the middle of the season. But for the Jaguars, who openly talked about having Super Bowl aspirations , they understand another loss or two likely would end their dwindling playoff hopes.

“We put ourselves in this situation,” quarterback Blake Bortles said. “We created this small margin for error by not winning football games. We’ve put ourselves here. We know we still got a chance and we’ve got to play really well for the whole second half of the season to go where we want to go.”

The Jags are counting on running back Leonard Fournette’s return making a significant difference.

Fournette missed six of the last seven games with a strained right hamstring. He practiced in full for the first time in more than a month Monday and did the same Wednesday.

Jacksonville built its offense around Fournette and hasn’t been nearly as physical or effective without him. The team signed Jamaal Charles for a week and then traded for Carlos Hyde in hopes of filling the void, but neither move paid dividends.

Coach Doug Marrone said he lost faith in his offensive line in London, specifically in short-yardage situations, but has since stopped short of proclaiming Fournette the team’s savior.

Players, though, believe Fournette’s return could be a turning point.

“I know everybody’s fired up to have him back in the lineup,” Bortles said. “I know I’m excited to watch him run. I know guys are excited to block for him and kind of see him go. We got so used to him doing his thing last year and watching that and do everything off of that. Not having him has made us change some of the things we do, but to be able to have him back and healthy and ready to go is exciting.”

Marrone evaluated coaches, players and schemes during the bye week, but decided not to make any wholesale changes. He tweaked the schedule significantly, mostly so guys wouldn’t feel like things were the same after the break.

“It’s just kind of like the atmosphere is a little tighter,” Jack said. “Obviously, everybody is — I wouldn’t say desperate — but we just need (a victory). It’s a must-win week. As the weeks go on, it just gets worse and worse. Hopefully this is the week we change it.”

With the sense of urgency on the rise, the Jaguars have started to unravel.

There was a locker room scuffle last month following a loss to Houston, a players-only meeting the next day and then a run-in with London police over an unsettled nightclub tab.

They have eight games left to save the season. It starts with a “must-win game” against the Colts, who have won two in a row.

“I don’t think you can look at it as a whole eight games — ‘we’ve got to win eight games in a row or six out of the eight,'” Bortles said. “Obviously, playing Indy is a division game, and that’s an important one.

“It’s kind of like Doug talked about all week and all last week: you’ve got to win one to get it rolling. It’s all anyone’s really focused on right now.”

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With weak offense, Gruden’s Redskins can’t mount comebacks

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — Coach Jay Gruden's Washington Redskins have established a pattern: When they get a lead, they win; when they trail, they lose.

The Redskins (5-3) are the only one of the NFL's 32 teams that both has managed to avoid a single loss after holding a lead AND also has failed to

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — Coach Jay Gruden’s Washington Redskins have established a pattern: When they get a lead, they win; when they trail, they lose.

The Redskins (5-3) are the only one of the NFL’s 32 teams that both has managed to avoid a single loss after holding a lead AND also has failed to come back to win a game after trailing.

The first is good, of course. The latter could prove to be truly problematic as the season progresses if the offense overseen by Gruden and carried out by quarterback Alex Smith continues to be as ineffective as it’s been.

“I don’t think we’re probably even aware” of Washington’s inability to erase a deficit this season, Smith said Wednesday, then added: “Certainly we’ve been in a lot of games that have been back-and-forth.”

That last assertion is not accurate. Not at all.

During each of the Redskins’ eight games this season, whichever team scored first not only won — it never fell behind. Not even once.

In last week’s 38-14 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, Washington was down 14-0 early, cut that to 14-7, then never got closer.

“It’s just a mindset really: You’re never out of it until the final gun. We’ve just got to keep playing. I don’t think guys played less hard because we got down. We just didn’t make enough plays to come back,” Gruden said. “That’s something we need to figure out: a way to put our players in position to, A, get the ball back when were on defense and, B, get the ball in the end zone at a decent rate on offense.”

Heading into the NFC East leaders’ game at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-5) on Sunday, the Redskins are putting up a mere 20 points and 343.9 yards per game, which both rank 25th. No team below them in either of those two categories has a record above .500.

The Bucs, in contrast, rank No. 7 in points at 28.6, and No. 2 in yards at 446.8.

It’s the defense that’s been Tampa Bay’s downfall while losing five of its past six games — worst in the league in points, allowing an average of 34.4, and third-worst in passing yardage, at 307.1.

An inability to mount a comeback is typically the mark of a bad club.

Currently, the only teams other than Washington without an erase-a-deficit victory this season are the Detroit Lions and Jacksonville Jaguars, who are both 3-5.

Over the previous four complete seasons, the only two teams to go an entire campaign without even one such win were the 2017 Cleveland Browns of 0-16 infamy and the 2017 New York Giants, who were 3-13.

During Gruden’s 4½ years in charge of Washington, it owns 15 victories in games in which it trailed, which is just the 27th-best total in the NFL. The teams with fewer? The Browns (9), Jaguars (10), Giants (13), Chicago Bears (13) and Indianapolis Colts (14).

“You can probably count on one hand how many comeback wins we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Gruden said, exaggerating a bit. “That’s something that we have got to do a better job of.”

Notes: At the portion of Wednesday’s practice open to the media, two of the three offensive linemen signed off the street Monday lined up with the starting unit, with Jon Cooper at left guard and Austin Howard at right tackle. Morgan Moses, the regular RT, worked by himself on a separate field, wearing a big brace on the right knee he injured against Atlanta, although he could be ready to play instead of Howard by Sunday. … The other linemen were Ty Nsekhe at LT, Chase Roullier at C, Tony Bergstrom at RG.

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Chiefs becoming must-watch show with Mahomes under center

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — There are times that Dolphins coach Adam Gase hears about a cool play that happened somewhere else in the NFL, or something unique that a rival might be doing, and he makes a note to himself to check it out once his day-to-day work is complete.

Then there are times

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — There are times that Dolphins coach Adam Gase hears about a cool play that happened somewhere else in the NFL, or something unique that a rival might be doing, and he makes a note to himself to check it out once his day-to-day work is complete.

Then there are times he flips on the TV for pure entertainment.

“Sometimes,” Gase said, “when you watch Kansas City, you sit back and watch because it just seems like they’re out there playing 7-on-7. It’s impressive to watch.”

Patrick Mahomes and Co. has certainly captured the attention of the league.

The Chiefs lead the NFL in scoring at more than 36 points per game. They have its reigning rushing champion in Kareem Hunt, the league’s fastest wide receiver in Tyreek Hill, the most versatile tight end in Travis Kelce and plenty of depth behind all of them.

Then there’s Mahomes, who can break Andrew Luck’s single-season NFL record with his ninth straight 300-yard passing game Sunday against Arizona. The first-year starter has thrown 29 touchdown passes, two shy of Len Dawson’s 54-year-old franchise record, and he leads the league in most meaningful statistical categories: yards, TD passes, touchdown-to-interception ratio.

“He’s a baller, like I’ve been saying,” said Dolphins wide receiver Albert Wilson, who spent last season with the Chiefs. “He thinks he can make every throw. He has a great group of guys around him to do good things with the football. I’m not surprised at all.”

Wilson has reason to watch Kansas City, considering he has so many friends still on the roster. But it still speaks volumes that in the midst of his own preparation he finds time to tune in.

Then again, it’s hard for his coach to complain when Gase is doing the same thing.

Alex Smith also has plenty of friends on the Chiefs, including Mahomes, who stepped into his job when Kansas City traded him to the Redskins last offseason. The veteran Smith helped to mentor the Texas Tech standout when he was a wide-eyed rookie, and he takes pride in the young quarterback’s success.

When the Chiefs rallied in the fourth quarter for a Monday night win at Denver earlier in the season, and Mahomes took on a starring role in primetime, Smith was watching from his home near Washington, D.C.

“I mean, record-setting start for them, for him, for the offense — lighting the world on fire right now,” Smith said. “Fun to watch, obviously a ton of friends on that team, including Pat, and to see what they are doing is crazy. They are on fire right now.”

That game against Denver was the most-watched Monday night game that didn’t involve the Cowboys since Week 16 of the 2016 season. When the Chiefs played the Patriots on Sunday night a few weeks ago, it earned a 12.3 rating and 21.1 million viewers for NBC, an increase of 31 percent from last year.

In the Kansas City market, about half the TVs are tuned into the Chiefs whenever they are playing.

“It’s been a lot of fun, frankly, for me and I think everybody who is a Chiefs fan to see all the interest in the Chiefs,” team owner Clark Hunt said.

“That’s a credit to the success we’ve had. That interest is not only here locally but it’s really nationally. It seems like everybody who went to Texas Tech is all of a sudden now a Chiefs fan, which is great.

“You mentioned the TV ratings — the ratings were among the highest in a number of years for that Patriots game on Sunday night. Our local ratings are also higher than they’ve been in many, many years,” Hunt added. “Our local ratings are always very good, but clearly Andy (Reid), Patrick and the offense and the victories that we’re getting has taken that to a higher level.”

The Chiefs will get plenty of more exposure this season, too.

After facing the lowly Cardinals on Sunday, the Chiefs head to Mexico City to face the high-flying Los Angeles Rams on Monday night. They also have a Thursday night showdown with the surging Los Angeles Chargers and a Sunday night trip to Seattle two days before Christmas.

Regardless of whether anyone tunes in, Mahomes plans to keep the party going.

“Just being able to learn every day from Coach Reid, be able to get out here with all these guys, we literally have fun every single day,” he said. “We love coming to work and getting to just play this game that we’ve loved since we were little kids and winning a lot of games.”

Notes: Safety Eric Berry (heel), LB Anthony Hitchens (ribs), C Mitch Morse (concussion), WR Sammy Watkins (foot) and OL Cam Erving (illness) did not practice Wednesday. … FS Daniel Sorensen could make his season debut Sunday. He was activated from IR this week after breaking his leg in training camp.

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AP Sports Writers Howard Fendrich and Steven Wine contributed to this report.

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Miami’s Tannehill to miss Packers game with shoulder injury

DAVIE, Fla. (AP) — Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been ruled out of Sunday's game at Green Bay because of a throwing shoulder injury, and replacement Brock Osweiler will make his fifth consecutive start.

The Dolphins have a bye next week, which means Tannehill won't be back until Week 12 at the

DAVIE, Fla. (AP) — Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been ruled out of Sunday’s game at Green Bay because of a throwing shoulder injury, and replacement Brock Osweiler will make his fifth consecutive start.

The Dolphins have a bye next week, which means Tannehill won’t be back until Week 12 at the earliest. Coach Adam Gase said the goal is for Tannehill to return for the Indianapolis game Nov. 25.

Miami is 5-4 overall, and 2-2 with Osweiler starting.

Tannehill is throwing but hasn’t participated fully in practice in more than a month. The Packers game will be the 25th he has missed out of the past 30 because of injuries.

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Panthers and Steelers test their mettle in prime time

Two teams headed for January football, the Panthers and Steelers, get to test their mettle on Thursday night. It should be a good one in prime time.

Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin, who's 1-1 in Super Bowls, isn't admitting any postseason thoughts are in the minds of his players or himself. But he has to like

Two teams headed for January football, the Panthers and Steelers, get to test their mettle on Thursday night. It should be a good one in prime time.

Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin, who’s 1-1 in Super Bowls, isn’t admitting any postseason thoughts are in the minds of his players or himself. But he has to like how the Steelers have performed in four straight victories.

“I’m not trying to look for specific areas, I just try to challenge these guys to get better every day,” Tomlin says.

“That’s what we’re focused on. I think that if we do that daily that will give us a chance to produce consistent performances that are on the rise. Not only in the second quarter (of the season) but as we continue through this journey.”

That journey has Carolina (6-2), ranked fifth in the AP Pro32, at No. 7 Pittsburgh. The Steelers (5-2-1) are a 5½-point favorite in the week’s best matchup.

The Panthers have won three straight and five of six. They are particularly strong running the ball, though Pittsburgh is stingy in that area on defense.

Carolina trails New Orleans by one game in the NFC South and leads the wild-card chase. Pittsburgh has a half-game lead in the AFC North over Cincinnati.

This could come down to the final play, which would be a treat to begin Week 10.

STEELERS, 33-31

KNOCKOUT POOL: Pro Picks is on a roll, and the Bears kept it going. This time, we’ll buy into underachieving (or under skilled perhaps) GREEN BAY.

No. 20 Dallas (plus 6 1-2) at No. 11 Philadelphia

Yes, it’s a bitter-rivalry game. But Eagles come off a bye, Cowboys off a poor showing.

BEST BET: EAGLES, 27-16

No. 1 New Orleans (minus 4 1-2) at No. 12 Cincinnati

With Eagles up next, Saints could stumble here. They won’t.

SAINTS, 31-23

No. 13 Seattle (plus 10) at No. 4 Los Angeles Rams

That’s a lot of points for a game that many Seahawks fans will attend.

RAMS, 30-23

No. 29 Arizona (plus 16 1-2) at No. 2 (tie) Kansas City

Pro Picks rarely is afraid to lay so many points. So …

CHIEFS 40, CARDINALS 22

No. 22 Detroit (plus 6 1-2) at No. 10 Chicago

First of two meetings in less than three weeks.

BEARS, 22-14

No. 15 Washington (plus 3) at No. 25 Tampa Bay

Redskins’ record could plummet with all those O-line injuries.

BUCCANEERS, 33-31

No. 2 (tie) New England (minus 6 1-2) at No. 17 Tennessee

Brady has Patriots in their usual fine November form.

PATRIOTS, 31-19

No. 14 Atlanta (minus 4) at No. 27 Cleveland

Are the injury-ravaged Falcons in midst of a turnaround?

FALCONS, 26-20

No. 6 Los Angeles Chargers (minus 10) at No. 32 Oakland

We ask once again: Have Raiders given up?

CHARGERS, 33-16

No. 19 Miami (plus 10) at No. 16 Green Bay

Dolphins have better record, Packers have much better team.

PACKERS, 34-20

No. 21 Jacksonville (plus 3) at No. 23 Indianapolis

Could there be a worse matchup this weekend? Well, see below.

JAGUARS, 21-20

No. 31 Buffalo (plus 7) at No. 26 New York Jets

Could there be a worse matchup? Well, see Monday night.

JETS, 8-5

No. 30 New York Giants (plus 3 1-2) at No. 28 San Francisco, Monday night

The worst matchup. And in prime time.

UPSET SPECIAL: GIANTS, 19-13

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2018 RECORD:

Last Week: Against spread (9-4). Straight up (9-4)

Season Totals: Against spread (65-62-4). Straight up: (90-42-2)

Best Bet: 3-6 against spread, 7-2 straight up

Upset special: 6-3 against spread, 5-3-1 straight up

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FANTASY PLAYS: Finding low-owned players in daily leagues

The Rams and Saints again showed the value of stacking lineups in daily fantasy football contests as they erupted Sunday for 80 total points and more than 280 fantasy points in point-per-reception leagues.

Drew Brees, Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara, Jared Goff, Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp all cracked the 20-point threshold and a few savvy

The Rams and Saints again showed the value of stacking lineups in daily fantasy football contests as they erupted Sunday for 80 total points and more than 280 fantasy points in point-per-reception leagues.

Drew Brees, Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara, Jared Goff, Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp all cracked the 20-point threshold and a few savvy owners were able to fit in combinations of these players into their lineups.

With a high anticipated game total a lot of the ownership went to Todd Gurley (26 percent owned) and Goff (17 percent owned) leaving much lower ownership on Brees (6 percent owned) in daily tournaments. With a back and forth game, it ended up being Brees stacked with Thomas and Kamara vaulting DFS players up the leaderboards.

Game stacking is important but equally important is trying to find ways to identify low ownership in games with high expected totals, allowing you to separate yourself from the field. Brees out-produced Goff at the same price and lower ownership, which provided the separation necessary to win. This week, there are a few spots where high potential upside can be found at reduced ownership or pricing.

CHIEFS-CARDINALS

Kansas City has the highest implied team total on the slate with 33 points expected at home against the Arizona Cardinals. The Chiefs are averaging 36.3 points per game on the season and rank within the top 5 in the NFL in both total offense and passing yards per game. Patrick Mahomes has carried only modest ownership (10 percent) in DFS contests and has been producing the most lately when paired with RB Kareem Hunt and TE Travis Kelce, who now has double digit fantasy points in every game since Week 1.

With so much emphasis in the fantasy community on recent results, fantasy owners are likely to overlook Tyreek Hill, who was just 5 percent owned in DFS contests last week compared to 30 percent ownership on Hunt and 17 percent on Kelce. DailyRoto’s DFS ownership projections expect that to continue and it leaves Hill as a contrarian tournament target who has double digit fantasy performances in eight of nine weeks this season and two 40-plus point games. Pairing up Mahomes with Hill offers high upside and lower ownership this week.

SAINTS-BENGALS

New Orleans also has a high team total this week and Brees, Thomas and Kamara will be popular plays after going off in the last game. While their projections will be strong again this week, DailyRoto projections suggest that pivoting to RB Mark Ingram can save salary and be a contrarian tournament target. Ingram’s $6,800 FanDuel price and $4,500 DraftKings price are among the lowest they have been over the last four seasons.

Since his return in Week 5, Ingram has still played on roughly 50 percent of the Saints offensive snaps, receiving an average of 12.5 carries and 2.5 targets per game. This role is comparable to his role down the stretch in the 2017 offense that saw Ingram put up 15-plus fantasy points in five separate games from Week 10 through the end of the regular season.

The biggest concern for Ingram isn’t Kamara but perhaps Taysom Hill’s role in the red zone, where he has seen nine opportunities and can eat into some of Ingram’s goal line work. Despite this, Ingram projects as a solid RB value this week and one that should be low owned. In additional to providing leverage against popular Saints players, Ingram also is the same price as RB Dion Lewis, who DailyRoto projects as one of the highest owned players on the slate.

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AP source: Saints sign ex-Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant

METAIRIE, La. (AP) — A person familiar with the situation says free-agent Dez Bryant and the Saints have agreed on contract terms that will add the former Dallas Cowboys star to one of the NFL's top offenses in New Orleans.

The person spoke to The Associated Press Wednesday on condition of anonymity because the roster

METAIRIE, La. (AP) — A person familiar with the situation says free-agent Dez Bryant and the Saints have agreed on contract terms that will add the former Dallas Cowboys star to one of the NFL’s top offenses in New Orleans.

The person spoke to The Associated Press Wednesday on condition of anonymity because the roster move has not been announced.

The 30-year-old Bryant spent his first eight years in the NFL with Dallas and last season caught 69 passes for 838 yards and six touchdowns, including a 50-yard scoring play, for the Cowboys.

However, his professional reputation has been marred at times by public confrontations with coaches and teammates during games and practices.

Seeking salary cap relief, the Cowboys released Bryant after last season with two years remaining on the receiver’s five-year, $70 million contract.

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Surging Newton, Panthers face red-hot Steelers

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Cam Newton spent a portion of the summer studying Ben Roethlisberger and working out alongside Antonio Brown, something the Carolina Panthers quarterback did out of a mix of curiosity and respect.

Newton found himself enamored of Roethlisberger's footwork — "The play is never over for Big Ben" — and Brown's relentlessness.

"He's

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Cam Newton spent a portion of the summer studying Ben Roethlisberger and working out alongside Antonio Brown, something the Carolina Panthers quarterback did out of a mix of curiosity and respect.

Newton found himself enamored of Roethlisberger’s footwork — “The play is never over for Big Ben” — and Brown’s relentlessness.

“He’s literally like a nocturnal beast,” Newton said of Brown. “I thought I was bad. … We had late workouts. I’m talking like 10 p.m-.ish. It was like our second or third one of the day. Whenever he feels the urge to work, he works and I respect it.”

Newton will get an up-close look at Roethlisberger, Brown and the rest of the Steelers (5-2-1) when the Panthers (6-2) make a rare trip to Pittsburgh. Maybe it’s the workouts with Brown. Maybe it’s the rapport he’s developed with offensive coordinator Norv Turner. Maybe it’s the emergence of running back Christian McCaffrey. Whatever it is, Newton is in the midst of his finest season since winning league MVP in 2015.

Maybe that’s why Roethlisberger just laughed when asked if there’s any wisdom he might pass along to Newton.

“I do not need to give him advice,” Roethlisberger said. “He’s Superman.”

A Man of Steel who could be a handful for a resilient Pittsburgh defense. The Steelers were a hot mess during the first month of the season but have figured out things during their four-game winning streak. Pittsburgh is allowing just 275.5 yards per game over the last month. That’s from a combination of the rapid cohesion of a revamped secondary and spending less time on the field thanks to an offense starting to hog the ball behind second-year running back James Conner.

Still, the Panthers present their own unique challenge. Carolina might be the NFL’s closest approximation to a throwback. The Panthers have run for at least 121 yards in seven of eight games, with Newton serving as the catalyst. At 29 he’s on pace for a career high in rushing attempts, a mixture of Turner’s creative play calling and Newton’s pragmatic approach to when he tucks the ball and takes off. While he’s still happy to deliver a shot now and then, he’s more likely to slide before getting hit.

Pittsburgh, fourth in the league in sacks, is determined to make sure Newton doesn’t get loose.

“There’s no way he can duck 10 bullets,” Steelers defensive tackle Cam Heyward said. “If everybody is shooting their shot, someone is bound to hit. That’s got to be group effort. … It’s a heck of a test.”

Some things to watch for as Pittsburgh looks to extend its hot streak while Carolina searches for the franchise’s first win in the Steel City:

LE’VEON WHO?

Wayward Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell is nearing the end of his months-long standoff with the club. He has until Nov. 13 to report and sign his one-year franchise tender if he wants to make sure he accrues the service time necessary to hit the open market next spring. After some initial angst, Bell’s teammates have moved on. Conner is thriving in Bell’s absence. He’s second in the league in total yards and is the first player in team history to have 10 total touchdowns through eight games.

“James Conner has been rolling and bulldozing people,” Brown said.

GIMME THAT

Carolina is winning the turnover battle. The Panthers have been even or positive in turnovers in seven of eight games and are 6-1 in those games. They are 5-0 when winning the turnover battle outright.

Carolina is fourth in the league in turnover differential with a plus-8, sixth in points off turnovers (51), seventh in total takeaways (15), and tied for fourth in interceptions (11) behind speedy rookie cornerback Donte Jackson, who has four picks.

Since 2015, Carolina leads the NFL with 102 takeaways and is second with 62 interceptions.

FEISTY FEILER

Pittsburgh right tackle Matt Feiler will likely make his third straight start in place of injured Marcus Gilbert. An undrafted free agent, Feiler is thriving while opening up holes for Conner and helping keep Roethlisberger clean. Roethlisberger has been sacked twice during Pittsburgh’s winning streak. Feiler’s success isn’t exactly unprecedented. Three members of Pittsburgh’s current starting offensive line — Feiler, left guard Ramon Foster and left tackle Alejandro Villanueva — all went undrafted.

“It’s how we’re built,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “It’s what we expect, and (Feiler) is just the latest example of a guy that is meeting that expectation like we talked about. He’s capable, so it’s understandable to expect those types of performances from him.”

STOPPING ADDISON

Future Hall of Famer Julius Peppers may have more name power, but Mario Addison has been the more productive defensive end for Carolina. Addison leads the team with 7 ½ sacks, including a sack trifecta last week against Tampa Bay.

Over the past 38 games, Addison has 28 sacks.

“I’m a pretty strong guy,” said the 6-foor-3, 260-pound Addison. “People underestimate me because I look kind of small, but I pack a punch. By the time they miss and my hands get on the inside of them, I’m running them back and they’re like ‘Dang, this guy’s stronger than I thought.'”

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AP Sports Writer Steve Reed contributed to this report.

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Browns place starters Kirksey, Gaines on injured reserve

BEREA, Ohio (AP) — The Cleveland Browns lost two defensive starters after placing linebacker Christian Kirksey and cornerback E.J. Gaines on injured reserve.

One of the team's captains, Kirksey hurt his hamstring in the second quarter of Sunday's loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Gaines was also hurt, sustaining his second concussion in

BEREA, Ohio (AP) — The Cleveland Browns lost two defensive starters after placing linebacker Christian Kirksey and cornerback E.J. Gaines on injured reserve.

One of the team’s captains, Kirksey hurt his hamstring in the second quarter of Sunday’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Gaines was also hurt, sustaining his second concussion in three weeks.

The losses will make things even tougher on a Cleveland defense already stretched thin. Pro Bowl linebacker Joe Schobert missed the past three games with a hamstring injury, rookie cornerback Denzel Ward hurt his hip against the Chiefs and cornerback Terrance Mitchell broke his arm earlier this season.

Kirksey made 43 tackles and two interceptions in seven starts.

Gaines, who signed with Cleveland as a free agent in March, moved into the starting lineup after Mitchell went down. He made one interception.

The Browns signed defensive back Juston Burris to the active roster off the New York Jets’ practice squad.

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NFL Week 10: Over and Under Best Bets

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we're making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we're offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over and Under Best Bets

Over of

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we’re making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we’re offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over and Under Best Bets

Over of the week: Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Rams

Total: 51.5

In their last meeting, the Seahawks and Rams combined for 64 points. Seattle has since scored 55 points in two road games, while Los Angeles is coming off a 45-35 loss to the New Orleans Saints. 

These teams should push the 60-point plateau when they meet Sunday in L.A.

Sure, both teams still have a lot of talent on the defensive side of the ball, but Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is hungry and should pounce on a still-vulnerable defense when backed into somewhat of a corner in Week 10. Meanwhile, the Rams have scored at least 29 points in eight of their nine games this season. 

Seattle is beatable on the ground. The Rams have Todd Gurley. L.A. is struggling in pass defense. Seattle has Wilson. It’s simply a bad matchup for those riding the under. 

Predicted score: Rams 33, Seahawks 30

Under of the week: Los Angeles Chargers at Oakland Raiders

Total: 50.5

The Raiders have allowed 76 points to the Indianapolis Colts and San Francisco 49ers in the last two weeks, which might explain why this total is above 50. But I’d expect somewhat of a correction with Oakland hosting a more familiar opponent Sunday. 

The Chargers managed “just” 26 points in a home victory over the Raiders earlier this season. They may be a little more tired for this road matchup after a big Week 10 victory in Seattle, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they scored 26 or fewer again here. 

But even if that doesn’t happen, is there any reason to think the Raiders can suddenly score points? They’ve been held to 10 or fewer in three of their last four games, and this Los Angeles defense is a lot stronger than the Colts D on which they scored 28 a couple weeks ago. 

This might not even hit 40, let alone 50. 

Predicted score: Chargers 26, Raiders 13

Good luck, we’re all counting on you. 

Previous results
Last week: 2-0
2018 season: 12-6

Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL since 2007 and is a member of the Professional Football Writers of America, despite the fact he actually lives in Canada. The Toronto-based sports journalist’s work can also be seen at Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, Awful Announcing and The Guardian. He can be found on Twitter @brad_gagnon

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Jerry Jones: Cowboys ‘not in anything’ without improved play

FRISCO, Texas (AP) — Even if the Dallas Cowboys were better than 3-5, Jerry Jones says he would have plenty of cause for concern based on what he saw in a damaging loss to Tennessee.

And the normally upbeat owner and general manager doesn't care to discuss the NFC East standings, even though the Cowboys

FRISCO, Texas (AP) — Even if the Dallas Cowboys were better than 3-5, Jerry Jones says he would have plenty of cause for concern based on what he saw in a damaging loss to Tennessee.

And the normally upbeat owner and general manager doesn’t care to discuss the NFC East standings, even though the Cowboys can pull even with defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia by getting their first road win of the season at the Eagles on Sunday.

“We’re not in anything if we don’t play better,” Jones said after a 28-14 loss to the Titans that looked like it could be a blowout win for Dallas midway through the first quarter. “What I recognize is not so much the three wins and five losses but the way we lost this game and the way we played in the game.

“We’ve got to play better. Our record could be better than it is right now, and we’d still be in trouble.”

The Cowboys traded for a new No. 1 receiver in Amari Cooper and fired offensive line coach Paul Alexander during a surprisingly busy open week. The changes looked good early, with Cooper scoring the first Dallas touchdown and star running back Ezekiel Elliott having 75 yards from scrimmage in the first quarter.

Everything changed with Dak Prescott’s throw to Cooper in double coverage in the end zone with a 7-0 lead. Kevin Byard intercepted, Tennessee drove 80 yards in 15 plays for the tie and the Titans never trailed again.

Now the Cowboys are looking at a second straight year of missing the playoffs since the remarkable rookie seasons for Prescott and Elliott, who powered Dallas to an NFC-best 13 wins before a divisional round loss to Green Bay.

Since a franchise-record 11-game winning streak for an 11-1 record two years ago, the Cowboys are 14-15, including the loss to the Packers.

Jones was peppered with questions about Garrett’s job security after the loss to the Titans, at one point flatly saying he wouldn’t fire him during the season. Anything less than a 6-2 finish would leave Garrett with three winning seasons, and two playoff appearances, in eight full seasons.

“I don’t know how to articulate my patience or lack thereof, and I’m not trying to be smart,” Jones said. “I just don’t have an assessment of my patience right now.”

Prescott committed his first two turnovers at home this season in Dallas’ first loss at AT&T Stadium. The interception was the game-changer. A fumble while trying to churn for yardage on a sack at his 40-yard line set up Tennessee’s go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter.

While it’s realistic to expect Prescott and Cooper to need time to work together and an offensive line to adjust to an in-season coaching change, the Cowboys are running out of it.

“As coach Garrett said, we’ve got a decision to make,” said Prescott, who threw for 243 yards and two touchdowns. “We’ve got to buckle down, lock arms and be together more than ever. Not let anything break us apart.”

Garrett revealed a possible crack Tuesday. A few weeks after strongly backing Scott Linehan when asked if he still had faith in his offensive coordinator, Garrett had a different tone when asked if he envisioned a scenario where he took over play-calling.

“Right now, Scott Linehan is going to call the plays on offense,” Garrett, who called plays early in his tenure as head coach, said after the Cowboys had just 109 yards total offense in a scoreless second half against the Titans.

If the Cowboys lose to the Eagles, not much else will matter, other than the question of Garrett’s future beyond this season. Jones declined several chances to address that issue.

“I think we realize we have eight games to go, we’ve got a long way to go in this season,” Jones said. “We want to play better than we played tonight, so I certainly think each individual and coach and front office person is going to have to do better, including me.”

NOTES: Garrett said rookie LG Connor Williams came out of the Titans game with a knee injury that could require arthroscopic surgery. Any possible line shuffling would appear to be confined to Williams’ spot and center, where Joe Looney has filled in all season with four-time Pro Bowler Travis Frederick battling a nerve disorder. The likely candidate to join the group is backup center Adam Redmond, who has done some work in practice at guard in practice. … Garrett indicated LB Sean Lee will have another extended absence after re-injuring a hamstring. Lee missed three games earlier this year with the same injury.

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Roethlisberger skips practice, but expects to face Panthers

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger sat out practice on Tuesday to give his broken left index finger a rest but he is expected to play on Thursday night when Carolina visits Heinz Field.

Roethlisberger said the finger was "fine" after he threw the ball 47 times in last Sunday's victory over Baltimore.

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger sat out practice on Tuesday to give his broken left index finger a rest but he is expected to play on Thursday night when Carolina visits Heinz Field.

Roethlisberger said the finger was “fine” after he threw the ball 47 times in last Sunday’s victory over Baltimore.

He did leave the game briefly in the third quarter after getting the wind knocked out of him, but he returned after missing just one snap.

The 36-year-old is on pace to top 5,000 yards passing for the first time in his career. He came close in 2014 when he tied Drew Brees for the league lead with 4,952. Roethlisberger said reaching the 5,000-yard plateau “is still a pretty big deal” but he is keeping his focus on the team.

The Steelers (5-2-1) have ripped off four straight wins to climb into first in the AFC North. The short week means they won’t have much time to prepare for the surging Panthers (6-2), which might not be a bad thing. Roethlisberger expects to rely a little more heavily on the no-huddle offense, a setup in which he thrives.

“We’ve been doing it for a while,” Roethlisberger said. “We know it. We know it pretty well. We did it really well in Baltimore, really well, and just being able to pick up the pace and the tempo.”

The Steelers often turn to the no-huddle in an effort to snap them out of a funk early in games, but Roethlisberger isn’t using it as a method of trying to get the ball downfield.

While he’s on track to set a career high in yards, his production has dipped a bit during Pittsburgh’s winning streak. He’s gone over 300 yards just once in Pittsburgh’s past five games after going over 330 yards in each of the first three weeks.

An improved defense has helped. Roethlisberger lit up scoreboards early because the Steelers were trying to keep up with opponents who had little trouble getting to the end zone.

That’s not happening much anymore. Now that Roethlisberger isn’t tasked with trying to play catch up, the Steelers have taken a more balanced approach.

Second-year running back James Conner is second in the NFL in yards from scrimmage and Roethlisberger is content to keep throwing the ball underneath to move the chains and keep Pittsburgh’s defense off the field. And just like that, Pittsburgh’s sluggish 1-2-1 start has become a distant memory.

“There was no panic in this room early in the season,” Roethlisberger said. “That’s why we got a good chuckle out of (the media) panicking and the outside world panicking, but for us it was just a matter of playing the next week.”

NOTES: Right tackle Marcus Gilbert (knee) did not practice and is unlikely to play, meaning Matt Feiler will make his third straight start. … NT Daniel McCullers (ankle) also did not practice. … WR Antonio Brown (coach’s decision) and WR Ryan Switzer (ankle) were limited. … WR James Washington (knee) was a full participant.

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Titans now face Patriots on short week after snapping skid

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee's three-game skid is over, and the Titans are back to .500 after a big road victory.

But before they can catch their breath, the Titans have a short week before they host the surging New England Patriots in what will be Tennessee's lone home game in November.

Coach Mike Vrabel

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee’s three-game skid is over, and the Titans are back to .500 after a big road victory.

But before they can catch their breath, the Titans have a short week before they host the surging New England Patriots in what will be Tennessee’s lone home game in November.

Coach Mike Vrabel understands the challenge — and opportunity — the Titans have going against his old coach, Bill Belichick.

“We’ve just gotten ourselves to the surface where there’s a little bit of air, a little bit of water,” Vrabel said Tuesday. “You’re kind of taking a little bit of both in and you can’t survive there for long. But you can survive there for a few minutes. And so we got to make the next decision to see if we can get our heads completely above water.”

The Titans (4-4) still trail the Houston Texans (6-3) inside the AFC South, but their 28-14 victory in Dallas on Monday night put Tennessee into the sixth and final playoff spot in the AFC for now. The Titans shook off a horrific start with two fumbles by Marcus Mariota on their first two drives to turn score a season-high in points after managing just 31 points all of October.

Vrabel credited the Titans with shaking off that start. Tennessee turned two turnovers into 14 points, came up with five sacks and held Ezekiel Elliott to just 61 yards rushing.

Offensively, the young Titans showed serious signs of progress in offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur’s scheme.

They converted 11 of 14 attempts on third down for a 78.6 percent rate that was the best in the NFL this season and tied for the league’s highest in the past three years. The Titans tied up the game at 7-7 with the franchise’s longest drive since Dec. 9, 2012, using up 8 minutes, 55 seconds.

Tennessee scored touchdowns on four of five trips inside the Dallas 20 against a Cowboys defense that came in as the NFL’s second stingiest in the red zone. Mariota also completed passes to nine different receivers and had a season-high 119.9 passer rating throwing for 240 yards and two touchdowns. He ran for 32 more yards and another score.

“I hope it’s that guys are understanding where they fit, what they need to do to get open and understand when they get open, Marcus is going to try to get them the ball,” Vrabel said of the Titans’ offense.

Left tackle Taylor Lewan, who spoke about the Titans deserving respect after a 3-1 start, said he is just relieved to win a game and get back to .500.

“I’ll definitely keep my (expletive) mouth shut from now on about that kind of stuff,” Lewan said. “Daddy learned his lesson.”

Cornerback Logan Ryan said the Titans knew they were in a must-win situation in Dallas and that one win in the NFL can turn things around.

“It was a huge win,” Ryan said after the game. “Now we know we’ve got a tough test next week, and we will be ready.”

The Titans host the Patriots (7-2) on Sunday before heading back on the road to Indianapolis and Houston. The Patriots routed Tennessee 35-14 in an AFC divisional game last January. Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk fired Mike Mularkey after that game and chose Vrabel to take this franchise further.

“We have to just get our players as ready as we can for the game,” Vrabel said.

Notes: Vrabel made it clear he didn’t like safety Kevin Byard celebrating his interception by running to the star at midfield and posing like Terrell Owens 18 years ago. The coach said he plans to talk again with the safety and the Titans on Wednesday, and Vrabel said he wants them to celebrate with each other.

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Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker

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Mullens announces he’s 49ers’ starting QB

 

 

Nick Mullens will start for the San Francisco 49ers when they host the New York Giants on Monday night.

 

That's according to Mullens, who announced the news himself to reporters Tuesday after practice. He said coach Kyle Shanahan told him he was the starter, and Mullens took the reps with the first

 

 

Nick Mullens will start for the San Francisco 49ers when they host the New York Giants on Monday night.

 

That’s according to Mullens, who announced the news himself to reporters Tuesday after practice. He said coach Kyle Shanahan told him he was the starter, and Mullens took the reps with the first team.

 

Mullens made his NFL debut last Thursday and led the 49ers (2-7) to a 34-3 win over the Oakland Raiders. He completed 16 of 22 passes for 262 with three touchdowns, and he didn’t turn the ball over.

 

The 23-year-old product of Southern Miss started last week when C.J. Beathard — himself a substitute for starter Jimmy Garoppolo, who is out for the season — couldn’t grip the ball because of an injury to his throwing hand.

 

Beathard, taken by the 49ers in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft, was 0-5 as a starter this season and is 1-9 for his career.

 

–Field Level Media

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Saints on top of latest Pro32 poll; KC, Pats tied for 2nd

NEW YORK (AP) — Who Dat on top of the latest AP Pro32 rankings?

Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints.

The Saints knocked off the Los Angeles Rams 45-35 on Sunday, handing them their first loss of the season.

The Saints jumped three spots to No. 1 in the latest AP Pro32 poll .

NEW YORK (AP) — Who Dat on top of the latest AP Pro32 rankings?

Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints.

The Saints knocked off the Los Angeles Rams 45-35 on Sunday, handing them their first loss of the season.

The Saints jumped three spots to No. 1 in the latest AP Pro32 poll . They received seven of 12 first-place votes and 377 points in balloting Tuesday by media members who regularly cover the NFL.

“Beat the Rams big time,” Fox Sports’ John Czarnecki said.

The Kansas City Chiefs and the surging New England Patriots are tied for No. 2. The Patriots, who have won six in a row, got two first-place votes and the Chiefs received the remaining three, giving both teams 364 points.

“Andy Reid has been a terrific coach for so many years, but Patrick Mahomes’ brilliance allows Reid’s true play-calling talents shine through like never before,” Newsday’s Bob Glauber said of the Chiefs.

The Rams fell from the top spot to No. 4. They will look to get back to their winning ways when they host NFC West rival Seattle on Sunday.

“Although they couldn’t stop Drew Brees when it counted, the Rams are still in very good shape to secure an NFC playoff bye,” said Ira Kaufman of Fox 13 in Tampa, Florida.

The Carolina Panthers and the LA Chargers followed at No. 5 and No. 6. The teams flipped spots from the previous poll.

The Pittsburgh Steelers, who open Week 10 when they host the Panthers on Thursday night, remained at No. 7.

The Minnesota Vikings and Houston Texans each moved up a spot to No. 8 and No. 9 as they enter their bye weeks. The Texans have won six in a row after a 0-3 start.

And the Chicago Bears climbed five spots to round out the top 10 after their 41-9 rout of the woeful Buffalo Bills.

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Developing young QBs in NFL a tricky balancing act

NEW YORK (AP) — Start them right away? Ease 'em in? Have them sit a whole season?

When it comes to developing young quarterbacks in the NFL, it all depends on who you talk to.

Some teams think it's best to throw rookie QBs into the fire to learn on the job. Others prefer to

NEW YORK (AP) — Start them right away? Ease ’em in? Have them sit a whole season?

When it comes to developing young quarterbacks in the NFL, it all depends on who you talk to.

Some teams think it’s best to throw rookie QBs into the fire to learn on the job. Others prefer to gradually work them into the offense. Some say it’s more beneficial to have them grab a cap and clipboard and take it all in from the sideline.

“I think every position is the same,” Jets offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates said. “If someone can’t handle it mentally, then you don’t want to put them on the field, because naturally they’ll play slower and be thinking instead of reacting.”

Sam Darnold clearly passed that test for New York, and the No. 3 overall pick in April was under center to start the season.

“If a player shows the athletic ability, the talent and has the mental capacity to handle a gameplan and go into a game and be successful,” Bates said, “then he’s ready to play.”

That doesn’t mean things have necessarily gone smoothly for the former USC star.

Darnold’s 14 interceptions lead the league and have contributed to the Jets’ 3-6 start. So have his 55.0 percent completion rate and 68.3 quarterback rating, which also rank among the worst in the league.

Still, some point to these early struggles as crucial building blocks for the future.

“I’m going to continue to learn,” Darnold said Sunday after a 13-6 loss at Miami in which he threw four INTs. “There’s always lessons to be learned.”

Of the 32 quarterbacks currently listed as starters for their teams, 12 were under center in Week 1 of their first season.

On the flipside, some veteran superstar QBs waited a while before they got their chances.

Aaron Rodgers was stuck behind Brett Favre in Green Bay before finally starting in his fourth season. Philip Rivers didn’t start with the Chargers until his third year, when Drew Brees went to New Orleans. Even Brees didn’t get his first NFL start until his second season.

Tom Brady, Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger and Alex Smith weren’t Day 1 starters, either.

“In an ideal world, it gets to be like Drew, who had a chance to watch a little, or Tom Brady and Aaron,” said former quarterback Rich Gannon, the 2002 NFL MVP and now an analyst for CBS Sports and SiriusXM NFL Radio.

Patrick Mahomes sat behind Smith in Kansas City until Week 17 as a rookie last year, and now is a leading MVP candidate as one of the NFL’s top gunslinger s with a league-leading 29 TD passes for the 8-1 Chiefs.

“We knew that Patrick was very talented, but any time that an NFL team goes with a young quarterback, usually it’s a very challenging endeavor,” Chiefs owner Clark Hunt said. “Sometimes it takes time, several years, but as we’ve seen, Andy (Reid) had Patrick ready to go Week 1.”

Gannon thinks the Chiefs provide the perfect blueprint.

“Mahomes had a chance to watch a master of his domain for a year,” he said. “Alex Smith knew that system inside and out, has great huddle command and leadership skills. Maybe he doesn’t throw it like Mahomes does, but this is a guy who was willing to share and help him for that year, and we’re seeing the fruits of it now.

“That’s the best situation you can have.”

Again, that depends on who you ask.

In the past three drafts, 11 quarterbacks were taken in the first round — including Darnold, Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield, Buffalo’s Josh Allen, Arizona’s Josh Rosen and Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson this year.

Jackson is the only one to not yet start at least one game. Baltimore has Joe Flacco leading the huddle, but Jackson has still been used in the offense and is the Ravens’ second-leading rusher.

The Browns wanted to have Mayfield, the No. 1 overall pick this year, sit and learn behind Tyrod Taylor. But like most plans in Cleveland, it backfired.

Taylor got hurt in Week 3 and Mayfield was thrust into the lineup, helping the Browns rally to beat the Jets in a nationally televised game and end a 19-game winless streak. Mayfield has shown poise and promise, but lacks playmakers and is dealing with a coaching change after Hue Jackson was fired.

In Buffalo, the Bills weren’t anticipating Allen starting in the second week. They were taking what coach Sean McDermott called a “calculated” approach. But after AJ McCarron was traded before the season opener and Nathan Peterman bombed in Week 1, McDermott was left with no choice but to turn to Allen.

The rookie has been dealing with a sprained right elbow , and is uncertain to play Sunday against the Jets.

“When you draft a quarterback like we did, there’s a part of it where you have to say, ‘Hey, he’s going to play either A, B, or C — early, middle, or late or next year.'” McDermott said. “You have to be OK with all of that.”

The initial plan in Arizona was to have Rosen learn behind Sam Bradford. All that changed when the veteran was ineffective and benched in favor of the No. 10 overall pick.

Rosen took his lumps with some turnover-filled performances. Then, Mike McCoy was fired as the Cardinals’ offensive coordinator and Bradford was later cut — leaving the job to Rosen.

“His demeanor allows him to have success,” new offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich said. “Quarterbacking in this league is hard and when things go bad, this kid tends to be fine.”

But, some say too many adverse situations could end up having long-term deleterious effects on a young player.

“When you put them in before they’re ready, they also get hurt: Josh Allen, Josh Rosen,” Gannon said. “The speed of the game is way too fast for them. … Or they have a bad experience, like what wound up happening with (the Jets’) Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith, or going back to Ryan Leaf (with the Chargers). They play right away before they are physically or mentally ready or maturity-level ready. They get benched and booed and maybe run out of town, the coach gets fired, and then the next thing, they’re on their third or fourth team. They think he will be a savior and he’s not ready to play.

“How is that being responsible from a coach and ownership standpoint? It’s doing a tremendous disservice.”

Tampa Bay’s Jameis Winston and Tennessee’ Marcus Mariota started right away after being the top two picks in 2015, but the jury’s still out on both.

For those who preach patience, 25 of the 32 current QBs started a game at some point in their rookie season. And, several held on to the job from there.

Quarterbacks such as the Rams’ Jared Goff (No. 1 in 2016) and the Bears’ Mitchell Trubisky (No. 2 in 2017) started and struggled as rookies, but benefited from changes in coaching staffs and philosophies and took leaps in their second seasons.

So, who’s right?

Well, all of the above.

“There’s certainly valuable experience when you stand and watch,” McDermott said. “But we all know there’s no substitute for the experience when you’re actually behind the wheel. There’s a lot of value to that.”

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AP Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner and AP Sports Writers Bob Baum, David Ginsburg, Dave Skretta, John Wawrow and Tom Withers contributed.

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Report: Former Vikings DT Floyd suing Dr. James Andrews

 

 

Former Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd plans to file suit against Dr. James Andrews over what the 27-year-old claims was a knee surgery gone wrong.

 

Floyd, according to multiple reports, will file the $180 million lawsuit in Florida on Tuesday against Dr. Andrews, the Andrews Institute for Orthopedic Surgery and others,

 

 

Former Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd plans to file suit against Dr. James Andrews over what the 27-year-old claims was a knee surgery gone wrong.

 

Floyd, according to multiple reports, will file the $180 million lawsuit in Florida on Tuesday against Dr. Andrews, the Andrews Institute for Orthopedic Surgery and others, claiming a 2016 routine arthroscopic procedure turned into a career-ending operation.

 

Floyd’s attorney, Brad Sohn, said the suit will outline the failure of those being named in the court documents, including Andrews, his anesthesiologist, two surgery assistants and the hospital where the operation took place.

 

Sohn said Floyd was expecting a scope of his knee in 2016 with a recovery time of no more than one month.

 

Once on the operating table, doctors determined Floyd needed microfracture knee surgery, Sohn described in interviews with multiple outlets.

 

When surgical assistants administered a pain blocker, muscle tissue and nerves around the knee were paralyzed, Floyd claims.

 

Sohn told ESPN.com the $180 million figure is based on projected career earnings.

 

Floyd, the 23rd overall pick in 2013, was placed on the Non-Football Injury List by the Minnesota Vikings. By rule, teams are not required to pay the full salary — $6.757 million in Floyd’s case — for players on NFI.

 

Floyd has field a grievance against the NFL Players Association, but not the Vikings.

 

–Field Level Media

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FANTASY PLAYS: Immediate and future pickups for Week 10

The Vikings, Broncos, Texans and Ravens being off in Week 10 means there are plenty of bye week players to replace in lineups.

You'll be without the likes of Adam Thielen, Kirk Cousins, Phillip Lindsay, Emmanuel Sanders, DeAndre Hopkins and Deshaun Watson this week. Work the waiver wire aggressively and with a forward-looking focus.

RUNNING

The Vikings, Broncos, Texans and Ravens being off in Week 10 means there are plenty of bye week players to replace in lineups.

You’ll be without the likes of Adam Thielen, Kirk Cousins, Phillip Lindsay, Emmanuel Sanders, DeAndre Hopkins and Deshaun Watson this week. Work the waiver wire aggressively and with a forward-looking focus.

RUNNING BACKS

DUKE JOHNSON JR., Browns (49.6 percent owned): He was cut in some very competitive leagues recently, but a coaching overhaul in Cleveland has led to Johnson quickly regaining fantasy relevance. Johnson caught nine passes for 78 yards on Sunday, and with the Browns lacking a quality second wideout he should remain in the flow going forward. Make him a top waiver priority or be willing to spend handsomely if your league uses a free agent acquisition budget. If you need RB help in a point-per-reception format, don’t hesitate to spend 50 to 60 percent of your budget.

MIKE DAVIS, Seahawks (18.5): He totaled 107 yards from scrimmage and caught seven passes on Sunday as Chris Carson could not make it out of the early stages of the game. Carson is already looking iffy this week with hip and groin problems and he has been a consistent injury concern. Davis is clearly preferred by the Seattle coaching staff over Rashaad Penny and faces the league’s worst run defense (the Rams) in Week 10.

JOSH ADAMS (3.0): We advised picking him up last week but he was only added in 2.5 percent of leagues. Many owners passed on him because Adams was on a bye week. Don’t overlook players who have byes, when you can get the jump on passive league mates. Adams may start for the Eagles coming off the bye.

WIDE RECEIVERS

MARQUES VALDES-SCANTLING (20.8): Not enough owners paid attention to injury news late last week, which indicated Geronimo Allison would likely be out with a groin injury, boosting Valdes-Scantling’s outlook again. Now Allison may be done for the season and Randall Cobb is oft-injured and only had 24 receiving yards last week. The rookie has either reached 100 yards or scored in his last four games and has quickly risen to fantasy WR3 status.

ADAM HUMPHRIES, Buccaneers (2.8): In the past, he had flashed some potential to be a decent fantasy player, then totally defied expectations in Week 9 with eight catches for 82 yards and two TD receptions. He used to be more of a Jameis Winston favorite, but Ryan Fitzpatrick can use him as a reliable option from the slot.

JOHN ROSS, Bengals (8.1): Ross has started to practice as he anticipates a potential return from a groin injury, and with A.J. Green possibly missing two games or more with a toe problem, Ross becomes a viable waiver target because of increased opportunity. Tyler Boyd may get extra defensive attention during Green’s absence, and Ross will likely be more targeted more frequently. His big-play promise is no secret to seasoned fantasy players.

TIGHT ENDS

C.J. UZOMAH, Bengals (18.2): He has disappointed since becoming the clear No. 1 at his position in Cincinnati because of injuries, but Uzomah also still has some lingering appeal because of the Green injury. Andy Dalton will always consider his tight ends when inside the 10-yard line, and Uzomah has some TD potential while Green is out.

JEFF HEUERMAN, Broncos (7.9): Here’s a guy on a bye that you need to add now if TE is a desperation need. Heuerman immediately stepped into the Demaryius Thomas void left by the WR’s departure, catching 10 passes for 83 yards and a TD in a career performance. While his statistical ceiling may not be as high as those numbers indicate going forward, you have to take a waiver chance on the improved production possibly lasting more than one game.

QUARTERBACK

LAMAR JACKSON, Ravens (1.5): This is a forward-looking waiver move where you possibly can get ahead of the rest of the league, as Baltimore is on a bye. Joe Flacco has four TD passes in his past five games and 398 passing yards with one TD and two interceptions in his last two outings. There could be a QB change coming in Baltimore soon. Jackson looked like an erratic passer in the preseason, but his rushing and playmaking skills point to some tantalizing fantasy possibilities if he gets inserted into the Ravens guiding role.

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For more waiver and Week 10 advice, visit RotoExperts: https://rotoexperts.com

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Week 11 Schedule Changes

PRESS RELEASE

WEEK 11 (NOVEMBER 18) SCHEDULE CHANGES:
 
VIKINGS-BEARS MOVES TO 8:20 PM ET ON NBC,
 
EAGLES-SAINTS TO 4:25 PM ET (FOX) & STEELERS-JAGUARS TO 1 PM ET (CBS)

PRESS RELEASE

WEEK 11 (NOVEMBER 18) SCHEDULE CHANGES:
 
VIKINGS-BEARS MOVES TO 8:20 PM ET ON NBC,
 
EAGLES-SAINTS TO 4:25 PM ET (FOX) & STEELERS-JAGUARS TO 1 PM ET (CBS)
 
The NFL announced today the following schedule changes for Week 11 on Sunday, November 18.
The Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears game will move from 1 PM ET on FOX to 8:20 PM ET on NBC.
The Philadelphia Eagles at New Orleans Saints game moves from 1 PM ET on FOX to 4:25 PM ET on FOX.
The Pittsburgh Steelers at Jacksonville Jaguars game originally scheduled at 8:20 PM ET on NBC will move to CBS at 1 PM ET.
The following is the final Week 11 NFL schedule (all times ET):
 
Thursday, November 15
Green Bay at Seattle
8:20 PM
FOX/NFLN/Amazon
 
Sunday, November 18
Dallas at Atlanta
1:00 PM
FOX
Cincinnati at Baltimore
1:00 PM
CBS
Carolina at Detroit ­
1:00 PM
FOX
Tennessee at Indianapolis
1:00 PM
CBS
Pittsburgh at Jacksonville
1:00 PM
CBS
Tampa Bay at New York Giants
1:00 PM
FOX
Houston at Washington
1:00 PM
CBS
Oakland at Arizona
4:05 PM
CBS
Denver at Los Angeles Chargers
4:05 PM
CBS
Philadelphia at New Orleans
4:25 PM
FOX
Minnesota at Chicago
8:20 PM
NBC
 
 
 
Monday, November 19
Kansas City at Los Angeles Rams (Mexico City)
8:15 PM
ESPN

 

Courtesy of NFL Communications

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