NFL notebook: HOF inductee Moss gets hate mail for tie

NFL notebook: HOF inductee Moss gets hate mail for tie

Newly inducted Hall of Fame wide receiver Randy Moss said hundreds of pieces of hate mail greeted him upon his return from Canton, Ohio, this week.

Moss wore a tie listing the names of a dozen black men and women killed by police and was congratulated by dozens of NFL and NBA players for the statement.

But Moss told The Undefeated that “150 to 200 messages” equating to hate mail also found its way to him.

“The black community praised me and thanked me for shedding light on African-Americans dying,” Moss told The Undefeated in an interview published Thursday. “Then on the flip side, you’ve got sites where people are slamming me, saying, ‘Hey, (racial epithet), stay in your place.'”

–Panthers quarterback Cam Newton and his former teammate, wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, appeared to have a tense conversation prior to Carolina’s preseason game against the Buffalo Bills.

Videos of the two taken prior to kickoff show Newton rebuffed after approaching Benjamin, now with the Bills after being traded from the Panthers during last season, with his hand extended. Newton then sends away teammate Thomas Davis, who had been talking to Benjamin, and continues the conversation despite Benjamin trying to walk away.

Benjamin recently told The Athletic he wished he had never been drafted by Carolina, with specific mention to his poor rapport with Newton.

–New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is reportedly near an incentive-laden adjustment to his 2018 contract that lifts the five-time Super Bowl champion’s compensation toward current market value at the position.

Brady’s current annual average value of $20,500,000 could be increased by more than $5 million with incentives, according to multiple reports.

Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons ($30 million annually) and Kirk Cousins of the Vikings ($28M annual average value) raised the bar for quarterback salaries in the offseason.

–Green Bay Packers tight end Jimmy Graham wasn’t in uniform for the team’s preseason game against the Tennessee Titans after bruising his knee during drills Tuesday.

Graham was held out of practice Wednesday as a result of the injury.

Graham, 31, signed a three-year deal with the Packers in free agency.

–Vikings offensive lineman Nick Easton is likely to miss the entire 2018 season after undergoing neck surgery.

Easton was sidelined last Friday but remained in Minnesota awaiting the results of a second opinion. Agent Joe Linta told ESPN that Easton underwent surgery and would be on the shelf this season.

Speaking to reporters, Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said Easton will be put on injured reserve, though he wouldn’t divulge any further information on the injury.

–Field Level Media

Lack of takeaways leads to 49ers losses

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — When it comes to stopping opposing offenses from moving the ball, the San Francisco 49ers defense has fared all right early this season.

When it comes to generating the game-changing takeaways that so often determine who wins in the NFL, no team has been worse so far.

There

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — When it comes to stopping opposing offenses from moving the ball, the San Francisco 49ers defense has fared all right early this season.

When it comes to generating the game-changing takeaways that so often determine who wins in the NFL, no team has been worse so far.

There are many reasons why the 49ers are off to such a disappointing start with one win through five games, with the season-ending knee injury to quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo the most notable.

But a defense that has generated a league-low three takeaways for the fewest total for the franchise after five games since 1977 is a major reason why.

“We just have to find a way, that’s all it comes down to,” cornerback Richard Sherman said. “Takeaways are kind of more of a ball bounces your way, you get tips sometimes. Last week, we limited them pretty good. We have to be more violent in tackling and can’t miss when the quarterback throws into coverage.”

Turnovers often come because of the pass rush and the 49ers have struggled there with no consistent edge rusher. They rank in the bottom half of the league in both sacks and quarterback pressures despite allowing the ninth fewest yards per play at 5.31.

The only takeaways so far this season have come when Sherman recovered a fumble in the opener at Minnesota, Cassius Marsh recovered one after a strip sack by Elijah Lee against Detroit in Week 2 and Antone Exum had a pick-six on the third play from scrimmage two weeks ago against the Chargers.

The team has generated no turnovers in the 113 plays on defense since then.

“We’ve had our opportunities this year,” defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said. “There’s an old cliche saying that, ‘Catch the ones that are thrown to you.’ We’ve had our opportunities, especially early in the year where I think we’ve dropped about three or four interceptions this year. We’ve gotten the ball out. We’re taking shots at the ball. There’s great intent. Takeaways come in bunches, they do. … I know it’s a result-oriented business, but the result is a product of the process that you go through within every play, within every day. If we keep attacking the ball the way we have and the D-Line keeps pressing the pocket and getting after the quarterback, I’m very confident that eventually they’ll come.”

Trying too hard for turnovers can back fire, however. On the first play of a loss to Arizona last week, free safety Adrian Colbert jumped up in coverage anticipating a throw over the middle to Larry Fitzgerald.

Instead, Cardinals rookie Josh Rosen targeted Christian Kirk deep and the play turned into a 75-yard touchdown because cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon didn’t have the deep help he expected from Colbert on the play.

The Cardinals gained just 145 yards the rest of the game but it proved to be enough in a 28-18 victory, especially because the defense provided no short fields for the offense, which began each of its 13 drives inside San Francisco’s 40-yard line.

“When people feel like they need to do more than what they’re being asked to do, that’s when bad things actually happen,” Saleh said. “Right now, that first play, and A.C. will tell you, he’d love to have that play back, but the way they responded after that play and the way they came out and played and executed the defense all the way through, I thought was really good on their part to remain composed and to continue to fight all the way through the game.”

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Eagles got their swagger back against the Giants

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The champions got their swagger back.

After a pair of tough losses, the Philadelphia Eagles rebounded with a dominant performance on the road against a division rival and dismissed talk of a Super Bowl hangover.

Carson Wentz and Co. aren't going anywhere. They proved it in a 34-13 victory over

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The champions got their swagger back.

After a pair of tough losses, the Philadelphia Eagles rebounded with a dominant performance on the road against a division rival and dismissed talk of a Super Bowl hangover.

Carson Wentz and Co. aren’t going anywhere. They proved it in a 34-13 victory over the New York Giants on Thursday night. The Eagles (3-3) are still frontrunners in the NFC East, and they’re determined to make another long run.

“Having let a couple games slip through our hands, and this is what I love about the team, the players don’t panic,” coach Doug Pederson said Friday. “The players are resilient. The players know. Players are smart. You guys are around them. They understand what’s going on. They see it. They hear it. They read about it. They see it on television. And then as coaches, we point stuff out.”

Several of the team’s weaknesses were exposed during the first five weeks, especially in consecutive close losses to Tennessee (26-23 in overtime) and Minnesota (23-21). The offensive line had trouble protecting Wentz. The defensive line couldn’t get enough pressure on quarterbacks. The secondary gave up a lot of yards passing.

But they put it all together against the struggling Giants and showed flashes of the team that dominated the NFC on its way to winning the Super Bowl last season.

“When I talk about ownership, the guys have to take it upon themselves to make the necessary changes to fix,” Pederson said. “Our behavior has to change, right? Our standards have to change just a little bit. They have to elevate just a little bit. And I can stand up here and talk to the team until I’m blue in the face, but until they realize it, until they take ownership of it, until they sort of embrace it, it probably won’t change.

“And what I saw the last couple of weeks is they’re saying and doing the right things. They’re showing up to practice every day. They’re not complaining about a short week. They’re not making excuses for injury. And that’s what our culture has established. That’s what a veteran sort of led team can establish, and they’ve embraced that, and they’ve risen to the challenge, and I think they’d had enough, and quite honestly, they rose to the occasion last night and played well in all three phases.”

Now the Eagles have a few extra days of rest to prepare for a home game against Carolina in Week 7. It’ll give players more time to heal from injuries.

Nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters left the game with a biceps injury. Pederson said the medical staff is still evaluating the extent of his injury but the early indication is positive.

Cornerback Sidney Jones is week-to-week after he sustained a hamstring injury.

Veteran running back Darren Sproles missed his fifth straight because of a hamstring injury and he could return next week. The Eagles lost Jay Ajayi for the remainder of the season after he tore an ACL against the Vikings.

Wendell Smallwood (18 carries for 51 yards) and Corey Clement (11 carries for 43 yards, one touchdown) handled primary running duties. Personnel boss Howie Roseman could make a deal before the October 30 deadline.

“Both these guys are determined runners. They run hard. They run aggressive. They’re really good backs for us,” Pederson said. “A lot of confidence in both of those guys, and what they do, very versatile. And it’s just two guys that really take their job serious and feel like they have to prove something every single day, and that’s what you want out of your players, that they’re out there proving themselves over and over because it just makes them better and it makes us better as an offense. I’ve been real encouraged by both those guys.”

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Browns rookie WR Willies breaks collarbone, out indefinitely

BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Browns rookie wide receiver Derrick Willies broke his collarbone in practice and will miss several games.

Willies got hurt during Friday's workout as the Browns went through final preparations for Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Chargers. The injury is a costly one as Willies was filling in for

BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Browns rookie wide receiver Derrick Willies broke his collarbone in practice and will miss several games.

Willies got hurt during Friday’s workout as the Browns went through final preparations for Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers. The injury is a costly one as Willies was filling in for Rashard Higgins, who is also sidelined with a right knee injury sustained in last week’s win over Baltimore.

Willies replaced Higgins in the fourth quarter against the Ravens and turned a short pass from Baker Mayfield into a 39-yard gain in overtime to help set up Cleveland’s game-winning field goal with 2 seconds left.

An undrafted free agent from Texas Tech, Willies finished with three catches for 61 yards. He was expected to get more playing time this week with Higgins out.

Damion Ratley will likely be active Sunday to replace Willies. Ratley does not have a catch this season.

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Bengals’ Boyd would love to beat hometown Steelers for once

CINCINNATI (AP) — Hines Ward was Tyler Boyd's favorite Steelers player while he grew up in Clairton, Pennsylvania. He loved how No. 86 made the tough catches in the biggest games and helped Pittsburgh win two Super Bowls during his 14 seasons.

"He was my guy," the Bengals receiver said. "Everything about him

CINCINNATI (AP) — Hines Ward was Tyler Boyd’s favorite Steelers player while he grew up in Clairton, Pennsylvania. He loved how No. 86 made the tough catches in the biggest games and helped Pittsburgh win two Super Bowls during his 14 seasons.

“He was my guy,” the Bengals receiver said. “Everything about him was good. He was quick, aggressive, he was smart, just a guy that everyone looked up to in the Pittsburgh area.”

Boyd got to know the Steelers when he went to Pitt, which shares Heinz Field with the Steelers. Instead of being drafted by them in 2016, he wound up going to the rival Cincinnati Bengals, who were looking for a slot receiver to complement A.J. Green.

Boyd immediately redirected his goal toward beating his beloved black-and-gold team. So far, he’s 0-for-4.

The Bengals (4-1) have dropped six straight to the Steelers (2-2-1), a streak that’s the talk of the town as Pittsburgh arrives for a game Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium. Boyd has played in three of the games. All three times, he has walked off the field watching thousands of Steelers fans twirl their Terrible Towels — a scene he once enjoyed.

“I haven’t beaten them once, so that would mean everything to me,” Boyd said. “Just with all my friends and family and fans coming to watch, I can start bragging a little and talk a little noise and stuff.”

So far, there’s been little to talk about.

Boyd had his best game against the Steelers as a rookie. He caught six passes for 78 yards in the second game of the season, a 24-16 loss in his return to Heinz Field. He also had a decisive fumble. He caught a pass at the Pittsburgh 33-yard line and was stripped by James Harrison. Pittsburgh recovered with 1:50 left, ending the Bengals’ comeback attempt.

Boyd had two catches for 13 yards in the rematch at Paul Brown Stadium, a 24-20 Steelers win .

Last year, Boyd suffered a knee injury and missed a 29-14 loss at Pittsburgh . He had two catches for 15 yards in a 23-20 loss to the Steelers at Paul Brown Stadium. Thousands of Steelers fans twirled their towels as Pittsburgh ran off the field after Chris Boswell kicked a 38-yard field goal on the final play.

The scene was familiar to Boyd, who attended a handful of Steelers games as a youth.

“They were all loud and crazy, so I’m expecting that,” Boyd said. “But a lot of games get like that at some point in the game. I think we’ll do a better job of keeping them quiet this game.”

The Bengals are counting on significant contributions from Boyd, who is having his best season. He leads the team with 30 catches — Green is second with 26.

Boyd knows many of the Steelers from his playing days at Pitt, when they used the same stadium.

“When we were at practice, me and James (Conner) always talked to (Mike) Tomlin and Le’Veon (Bell) and AB (Antonio Brown),” Boyd said. “I would ask AB how he would work a route in certain coverage, just little things like that.

“I had a good relationship with those guys when I was at Pitt. It’s fun to play against them now.”

NOTES: Running back Giovani Bernard was ruled out Friday with a knee injury, the second game in a row he’ll miss. … Tight end Tyler Kroft also is out with a foot injury. … Center Billy Price will miss his fourth game with a partially torn ligament in his right foot. … Cornerback William Jackson (knee), receiver John Ross (groin) and offensive tackle Cedric Ogbuehi (wrist) are listed as questionable.

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49ers apologize for leaving Kaepernick photos out of gallery

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — The San Francisco 49ers are apologizing for initially leaving Colin Kaepernick out of a photo gallery celebrating the team's history against the Green Bay Packers.

The team posted dozens of photos on its website of past games against the Packers before the teams meet again Monday night without

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — The San Francisco 49ers are apologizing for initially leaving Colin Kaepernick out of a photo gallery celebrating the team’s history against the Green Bay Packers.

The team posted dozens of photos on its website of past games against the Packers before the teams meet again Monday night without initially including any of Kaepernick.

The 49ers say in a statement that “unfortunately there were a handful of obvious misses in this gallery” and “we appreciate them being brought to our attention.”

Kaepernick set an NFL record for quarterbacks by rushing for 181 yards in a playoff win against Green Bay on Jan. 12, 2013. He threw for 413 yards in a season-opening win against the Packers in 2013, and led a winning drive to win a playoff game in Green Bay on Jan. 5, 2014.

The team later added photos of Kaepernick to the gallery. This is the first photo gallery the team has run this year but pictures of Kaepernick were included in all seven photo galleries posted on the website last year.

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FANTASY PLAYS: Burning questions for Week 6 in football

A look at some key fantasy questions for Week 6:

SHOULD ALVIN KAMARA OWNERS BE CONCERNED AFTER MARK INGRAM'S TWO TD PERFORMANCE?

No. Ingram played 16.1 percent more snaps than Kamara in Week 5 but the Saints jumped out to a big early lead, calling for them to run. Compared with Kamara, Ingram

A look at some key fantasy questions for Week 6:

SHOULD ALVIN KAMARA OWNERS BE CONCERNED AFTER MARK INGRAM’S TWO TD PERFORMANCE?

No. Ingram played 16.1 percent more snaps than Kamara in Week 5 but the Saints jumped out to a big early lead, calling for them to run. Compared with Kamara, Ingram is a more traditional type of RB.

He out-carried Kamara by a 230 to 120 margin last season and came into the game with fresher legs. Not surprisingly, Ingram scored his TDs from 1 and 2 yards out Monday night. Last season, Ingram had 13 carries from inside the 5 compared with four such carries for Kamara. Kamara’s owners shouldn’t be shocked that Ingram had the busier and more productive night, but they shouldn’t panic either.

Kamara finished third and Ingram finished sixth in overall fantasy points scored in point-per-reception (PPR) scoring leagues last season. In standard scoring, Kamara was fourth overall. Those stats demonstrate that Ingram and Kamara can co-exist.

WHICH UNDER-THE-RADAR RB HAS THE BEST CHANCE FOR A BIG GAME IN WEEK 6?

Vikings running backs have an excellent matchup against a Cardinals defense that is giving up 142 rushing yards per game and allowing 4.23 yards per carry (YPC) to RBs. They’re also tied for having allowed the most rushing TDs at eight. Although it now appears that Dalvin Cook will play, watch his situation carefully. If Cook’s status changes, Latavius Murray could be a sneaky play.

Marshawn Lynch also has the opportunity for a productive week. Lynch has been surprisingly effective so far this season, averaging 4.3 YPC and he scored a TD in each of the first three games. He’s also provided fantasy football owners with double digit fantasy points in four of his first five games. Call this a revenge game against his old team, the Seahawks, who’ve given up four TDs in the past two weeks and 4.24 YPC to RBs.

Although James White shouldn’t be considered under the radar RB any longer, make sure to start him this week. He is especially valuable in PPR scoring formats against the Chiefs, who’ve given up the most passing yardage to RBs this season.

WHAT SHOULD OWNERS DO WITH RAIDERS WR AMARI COOPER?

Cooper leads Raiders WRs with 31 targets and has an outstanding 71 percent catch rate, but he has been consistently inconsistent. He’s had two big games and three duds — on alternating weeks. Cooper’s owners should hope that he has another big-time performance this week following a dud, and if he does, trade him immediately to get rid of the inconsistency.

CAN BUCCANEERS QB JAMEIS WINSTON BE STREAMED THIS WEEK? IS HE AN EVERY WEEK-STARTER?

Winston is absolutely a streaming option at QB this week against the Falcons. The Falcons defense has been decimated by injuries and that has resulted in them allowing the fourth most fantasy points per game to QBs. They are also tied for having given up the most total TDs to QBs.

Winston has yet to play up to his expected potential in his young career. However, he did look good this preseason and still has solid offensive weapons. Mike Evans has four TDs in his last three games against the Falcons with Winston at QB.

Take the rest of the season one week at a time. With only four of his remaining 12 matchups against teams that are in the top 8 in fantasy points per game allowed to QBs, it might be best to use him as a matchup play until we’ve seen that he should be treated otherwise.

CAN LARRY FITZGERALD BE DROPPED IN SEASON-LONG FANTASY FOOTBALL LEAGUES?

Yes. Unfortunately hamstring issues and the uneven play of his rookie QB make him expendable if you have a better option.

HOW ABOUT DETROIT LIONS WR MARVIN JONES?

No. Marvin Jones is tied for the league lead in end zone targets through Week 5. With a TD in three of his last four games, he is especially valuable in standard scoring leagues. On the subject of Lions WRs, try trading for Kenny Golladay. He’s scored double-digit fantasy points in PPR scoring formats every game this season. He’s scored a TD in three of his last four games as well.

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Bills starting safety Hyde set to play against Texans

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Buffalo Bills starting safety Micah Hyde is set to play at Houston on Sunday after missing one game with a groin injury.

Hyde practiced fully on Friday, as did backup safety Rafael Bush, who also didn't play in a 13-12 win over Tennessee last week because of a

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Buffalo Bills starting safety Micah Hyde is set to play at Houston on Sunday after missing one game with a groin injury.

Hyde practiced fully on Friday, as did backup safety Rafael Bush, who also didn’t play in a 13-12 win over Tennessee last week because of a shoulder injury.

This is the first time this season the Bills have no players whose status is uncertain due to health reasons on their final injury report of the week.

Starting cornerback Tre’Davious White was listed as practicing fully after being limited the previous two days with an ankle injury.

The Bills and Texans both have 2-3 records.

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Titans DC Pees gives his players financial incentive to read

Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator Dean Pees gives his players a financial incentive to read his tip sheets very carefully each week.

Well, at least for the first player to find the bonus Pees hides in plain sight.

"All it is is to double-check and see if they're reading," Pees says.

Pees includes a

Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator Dean Pees gives his players a financial incentive to read his tip sheets very carefully each week.

Well, at least for the first player to find the bonus Pees hides in plain sight.

“All it is is to double-check and see if they’re reading,” Pees says.

Pees includes a note to come collect either $50 or $100 to the first player who finds his offer inside notes that can run up to nine pages long. The offer usually is buried in some of the play calls Pees has used on defense from the beginning, and the coordinator says he uses red ink to note any new play calls. Players then typically scan for everything noted in red.

Titans coach Mike Vrabel got so good at beating teammates to the hidden bonus when playing linebacker that Pees says he had to rule out him out.

“He’d be standing at my door going, ‘$100,'” Pees says. “I’d say, ‘Where’d you find it?’ And he’d tell me.”

Pees also has had weeks go by when nobody collected.

Writing out the sheets is a habit Pees picked up since his own college days. Each call usually has up to four sentences, and Pees says he better explains himself when writing out each call.

“I really think that stems back from starting out as a high school teacher,” Pees says. “When you do lesson plans and you do all that stuff, you really prepare and that’s how I got my start was as a teacher. And I felt that’s what good teaching is, is try to be very thorough, don’t be long, don’t be long-winded, just try to be exact and tell on point. And it helped me to know what I was talking about.”

REALLY BIG BEN

Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap was talking this week about how difficult it is to bring down quarterbacks such as Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger under the new NFL rules that prevent defenders from using their full body weight in a tackle.

“Any time you try to tackle a 300-pound quarterback, it’s going to be pretty difficult,” Dunlap says.

Wait, what?

How much does Big Ben weigh?

The 6-foot-5 quarterback changed his diet in the offseason to drop some weight entering his 15th season. Although he won’t give his official weight, he’s listed at 240 pounds in the Steelers’ media guide — 1 pound lighter than in recent years.

For comparison, Jared Lorenzen was listed at 275 pounds when he played for the Giants from 2006-07.

Does Dunlap really think Big Ben tips the scales at 300 pounds?

“With his equipment and his rib cage (protector) and all the other stuff he has on — sweat, whatever — I’m pretty sure he gets close,” Dunlap says.

PRAISING BREES

Few star NFL quarterbacks know more about Drew Brees than his former teammate, Philip Rivers.

After all, Rivers beat out Brees when the Chargers were in San Diego, sending Brees into free agency in 2006, when he landed with New Orleans.

Now, Brees holds nearly every NFL passing record, having surpassed Peyton Manning on Monday night for the lead in yardage.

Rivers was watching.

“Yeah, it was awesome,” he says. “I certainly was tuned in watching it, counting the yards down. A heck of an accomplishment. It’s crazy when you think about it, how many yards (72,103) that is. That’s a ton of yards.

“I think credit to him, obviously, and I heard Drew’s comments of him thanking and giving credit to so many people that have had a hand in it, as you expected him to do. Obviously, he’s a talented player and passer and all those things. I think it was just hard work and preparation – and really probably maybe more than anything, the belief in himself.”

San Diego chose Eli Manning atop the first round of the 2004 draft and then dealt him to the Giants for Rivers. Brees was the starter for the Chargers, but he soon began battling shoulder problems.

“I wasn’t here during the early times of his first couple years,” Rivers says. “I know it was a bumpy start, and then I get drafted here in 2004, and shoot, he kept me sitting for those two years.

“I was able to watch and learn, and he really got it going then, and what he’s done in New Orleans the last 13 years or whatever has been remarkable. So I was happy for him. He and I still keep in touch. It was fun to watch.”

SHOW OF HANDS

Minnesota wide receiver Adam Thielen turned in his fifth straight 100-yard game last Sunday, but there was no bigger contribution to the win at Philadelphia than his recovery of Jake Elliott’s onside kick for the Eagles with a little more than a minute left in the game and the Vikings leading by two points.

Elliott managed to put a plenty of backspin on the ball that made it skip off Thielen’s chest as he dropped to his knees like a catcher in baseball to keep it in front of him before diving forward to smother it just in time as several Eagles converged.

“It was nasty,” Thielen said. “It was the best onside kick I’ve ever seen.”

For a player who leads the NFL in receptions, the hands team on the kickoff return unit falls in the category of dirty work. But it’s an honor to be picked for it nonetheless.

“It’s definitely not my favorite play in the world because there’s a lot of pressure, but at the same time once the ball’s kicked, you’re not thinking about pressure,” Thielen said, adding: “The coaches, they want to put the best people out there for that situation, and you kind of hope your name is called for that. You want to be in those situations. You want to help this team win games, and if you’re out there for a hands play, most of the time it’s to help secure a win.”

HOMECOMING

One bright spot in the Miami Dolphins’ dismal loss last week at Cincinnati was the play of young linebackers Raekwon McMillan and Jerome Baker, both from Ohio State.

“I was giving them a hard time, saying we’ve got to play in Ohio every week,” Miami coach Adam Gase says.

Baker, a rookie, had his first two career sacks for a unit that held the Bengals’ potent offense to one touchdown. McMillan, who missed his entire rookie season last year with a knee injury, had six tackles and graded well at middle linebacker.

Credit their Buckeyes background, Baker says.

“It’s definitely not to be overlooked,” he explains.

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AP Pro Football Writers Dave Campbell, Teresa M. Walker and Barry Wilner, and Sports Writers Steven Wine, Joe Kay and Joe Reedy contributed.

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Steelers’ Watt fined $20,054 for hit on Ryan

Steelers' Watt fined $20,054 for hit on Ryan

The NFL fined Pittsburgh Steelers pass rusher T.J. Watt $20,054 for a hit on Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan in Week 5, according to ESPN.

The league office instructed the Steelers to take the fine out of Watt's paycheck if he does

Steelers’ Watt fined $20,054 for hit on Ryan

The NFL fined Pittsburgh Steelers pass rusher T.J. Watt $20,054 for a hit on Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan in Week 5, according to ESPN.

The league office instructed the Steelers to take the fine out of Watt’s paycheck if he does not appeal.

The fine was levied two days after Watt was named the AFC defensive player of the week for the second time this season. He had three sacks among his eight tackles to go with a forced fumble in the victory over the Falcons, but was also flagged for a controversial roughing the passer penalty.

Watt, who also had three sacks in the season opener against the Cleveland Browns, is tied for the league lead with six with brother J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans and the Cincinnati Bengals’ Geno Atkins.

–Field Level Media

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Seahawks WR Baldwin looks to put receiving woes in the past

WATFORD, England (AP) — Doug Baldwin wants to catch a few more passes and play a more vital role in the Seattle Seahawks' passing game.

As he sees it, the one reception he had in the loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday just isn't going to cut it.

Baldwin, Seattle's leading

WATFORD, England (AP) — Doug Baldwin wants to catch a few more passes and play a more vital role in the Seattle Seahawks’ passing game.

As he sees it, the one reception he had in the loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday just isn’t going to cut it.

Baldwin, Seattle’s leading receiver each of the past four years, should be able to return to his reliable ways in a favorable matchup against the Oakland Raiders this weekend at Wembley Stadium.

“I just look at it as another opportunity,” Baldwin said. “I’ve got to go out there and do my job and get open, and if the ball comes to me, it comes to me. That’s really what it comes down to. I’m not worried about it. I’ve got to focus on my job and do the best I can with the opportunities that I get.”

The Raiders (1-4) will statistically be the worst defense the Seahawks (2-3) will have faced so far, having allowed 8.35 yards per reception, the second-worst average in the NFL, and 277.2 passing yards per game, good for 23rd.

Baldwin had his lone catch on the Seahawks’ second play from scrimmage in the 33-31 loss to the Rams, marking only the second time since the end of the 2013 season the wide receiver had fewer than two receptions in a game.

It was Baldwin’s second game back after he sprained the medial collateral ligament in his right knee in the season-opening road loss to the Denver Broncos. Both he and coach Pete Carroll said earlier this week that the knee is healthy, removing the injury as an excuse.

The Seahawks have been trying to play more to their strengths, emphasizing their running game behind Chris Carson and Mike Davis. Carroll, though, insisted that despite the emergence of second-year wide receiver David Moore, Baldwin’s role has not changed.

“Because the ball didn’t get to him has nothing to do with anything,” Carroll said. “That’s not part of any evaluation at all on our side. Sometimes that happens. We only completed 13 passes last week in a real productive offensive day. Doug will be right in the middle of that. He’s one of our best players and he’s been a great performer for a long time. There’s nothing to change that thought at all.”

Quarterback Russell Wilson attempted only 21 passes against the Rams, the fewest he’s had in a game this season. The Seahawks could afford that, and hand the workload to the running backs, because they controlled the game for much of the first three quarters.

Several big gains also helped. Seattle had five plays of 30 or more yards against Los Angeles, two of which resulted in touchdowns — a 39-yard pass by Wilson to Tyler Lockett in the second quarter and a 30-yard catch by Moore in the third.

Baldwin, though, was conspicuously absent, with Wilson failing to throw to his longtime top target at any point after the third minute.

“Doug’s always phenomenal,” Wilson said. “He’s one of the best in the world to do it. He’s always been a superstar, so the more times he can get the football, the better. That’s a great thing for us.”

A two-time Pro Bowl selection — including last season, when he played in the game as an injury replacement — Baldwin’s omission isn’t the only issue the Seahawks have in the passing game.

They have not ranked among the bottom third of teams in total offense since Wilson was drafted in 2012, though they were among the six worst passing offenses in the league during the quarterback’s first three years.

They will enter the game against the Raiders ranked 27th in both categories, but after winning two of their last three games, and having a 100-yard rusher in each, Baldwin believes the offense is starting to take shape.

“(Running the ball) balances us pretty well,” Baldwin said. “It makes it easier on the quarterback and the receivers when there are eight in the box having to respect our run game. It’s going to open some things up in the passing game, and as we go along in the season, I think it’ll make a lot of things easier for us going forward.”

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Jaguars’ DeCamillis returns to Dallas, recalls accident

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Nearly a decade later, Joe DeCamillis chuckles at the memory of wearing a neck brace and screaming into a bullhorn at practice.

"It's called stupidity," he said.

With Jacksonville playing at Dallas on Sunday, the veteran special teams coordinator reflected on his time with the Cowboys. It was one

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Nearly a decade later, Joe DeCamillis chuckles at the memory of wearing a neck brace and screaming into a bullhorn at practice.

“It’s called stupidity,” he said.

With Jacksonville playing at Dallas on Sunday, the veteran special teams coordinator reflected on his time with the Cowboys. It was one of Joe DeCamillis’ eight coaching stops — and most painful — during a 30-year NFL career.

DeCamillis was inside Dallas’ 86-foot-tall practice facility that collapsed during a thunderstorm in May 2009. About 70 people were inside. Twelve were injured.

Scouting assistant Rich Behm was paralyzed from the waist down when his spine was severed. DeCamillis broke his neck but returned to work a little more than a week later wearing a neck brace. He still has physical issues, including occasional numbness in his hands, and gets a little nervous at the sound of lightning and thunder.

“Still feel the effects from it,” he said. “I’m going to deal with it every day of my life. It’s just part of my life and hopefully I came out of it a better person. Sometimes you have adversity that happens and hopefully you find a way to deal with it.”

DeCamillis got a $9.5 million settlement, which included cash and benefits, following the accident from companies responsible for building the tent-like structure.

DeCamillis stayed three more years in Dallas after the accident, then spent two seasons in Chicago and two in Denver before returning to Jacksonville for a second stint in 2017. He won the Super Bowl with the Broncos in 2016.

“What are you going to do? Feel sorry for yourself? Just keep going,” DeCamillis said. “Obviously, I was told at that time I might not be able to coach, and eight years later, I’m still coaching. It turned out great.”

He hasn’t been back to Dallas since he left following the 2012 season. He doesn’t expect the trip to be anything special, either.

“As many places as I’ve been right now, you can’t get nostalgic of too many places that’s for sure,” he said. “I just want to get in, get out and hopefully get a win. … There’s a lot of good people at that place. I’m looking forward to going back and seeing them.”

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Jaguars place long-snapper Tinker on IR, bring back Overton

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Jacksonville Jaguars placed long-snapper Carson Tinker on injured reserve for the second straight year because of a knee injury.

Tinker injured his right knee in last week's game at Kansas City. The teams says it's not the same injury that sidelined Tinker all of last season, a torn

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Jacksonville Jaguars placed long-snapper Carson Tinker on injured reserve for the second straight year because of a knee injury.

Tinker injured his right knee in last week’s game at Kansas City. The teams says it’s not the same injury that sidelined Tinker all of last season, a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

The Jaguars brought back Matt Overton to replace Tinker. Overton has played in 89 career NFL games, including nine with the Jaguars in 2017 before sustaining a season-ending shoulder injury. Overton previously played for Indianapolis.

Tinker, who originally won the job as an undrafted rookie from Alabama in 2013, played in every game his first four years and was voted special teams captain in 2016.

Jacksonville plays at Dallas on Sunday.

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Wentz, Eagles cruise past Barkley, Giants

Wentz, Eagles cruise past Barkley, Giants

Carson Wentz threw three touchdown passes, including two to Alshon Jeffery, and the Philadelphia Eagles outclassed the New York Giants 34-13 on Thursday night in East Rutherford, N.J.

Wentz completed 26 of 36 passes for 278 yards, going 13 of 14 for 168 yards

Wentz, Eagles cruise past Barkley, Giants

Carson Wentz threw three touchdown passes, including two to Alshon Jeffery, and the Philadelphia Eagles outclassed the New York Giants 34-13 on Thursday night in East Rutherford, N.J.

Wentz completed 26 of 36 passes for 278 yards, going 13 of 14 for 168 yards and two scores on third down as the Eagles (3-3) converted 9 of 16 chances. Jeffery finished with eight grabs for 74 yards in his third game since offseason shoulder surgery.

The Giants (1-5) trailed 24-6 at halftime and never came closer. They managed little besides big plays from Saquon Barkley, who racked up 229 total yards (130 rushing) and a score on 22 touches (13 rushes).

Eli Manning finished 24 of 43 for 281 yards and an interception. The Giants went 4 of 14 on third down, including 0 of 8 in the first half. Odell Beckham Jr. caught six of 10 targets for 44 yards.

Philadelphia forged a 14-3 edge before the end of the first quarter thanks to great field position. Linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill intercepted Manning on the second play from scrimmage, returning it 24 yards to the Giants 16. Three plays later, Wentz escaped the pocket and found Jeffery for 13 yards and a 7-0 lead.

A 23-yard punt return by DeAndre Carter set up the Eagles’ second touchdown, a 1-yard plunge by Corey Clement to cap a six-play, 44-yard drive.

Barkley’s 46-yard run and 55-yard, tackle-breaking catch-and-run set up two short Aldrick Rosas field goals. The No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, Barkley had 149 yards on 13 touches at the break.

Wentz made it 21-6 by hitting Zach Ertz for a 10-yard touchdown 4:22 before halftime, one play after finding Nelson Agholor for 58 yards on third-and-3.

Jake Elliott tacked on a 33-yard field goal to give Philadelphia a season-high 24 points at half. Wentz had 175 yards by halftime, including 90 on two completions to Agholor.

Jeffery made it 31-6 with 8:42 left in the third on a 1-yard quick screen.

Barkley broke a 50-yard TD run less than three minutes later.

Elliott hit a 30-yarder early in the fourth for the final margin.

Eagles left tackle Jason Peters (biceps) and cornerback Sidney Jones (hamstring) left early and did not return.

–Field Level Media

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Eagles finally start looking like team that won NFL title

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The Philadelphia Eagles are finally starting to play like a defending Super Bowl champion.

It took six games, but they sent a clear message to the rest of the NFL that they are going to make another run, if their game against the New York Giants on Thursday

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The Philadelphia Eagles are finally starting to play like a defending Super Bowl champion.

It took six games, but they sent a clear message to the rest of the NFL that they are going to make another run, if their game against the New York Giants on Thursday night was a sign of things to come.

The Eagles (3-3) played fast, Carson Wentz spread the ball around and the defense — particularly the front four — made life miserable for Eli Manning and the Giants in a 34-13 win that enabled Philadelphia to avoid its first three-game losing streak since 2016.

“All season long we have been close, we just were not sustaining it,” said tight end Zach Ertz, who caught one of Wentz’s season-high three touchdown passes. “Hopefully this win sparks us for the rest of the year. Obviously, we are going to look at film and learn how we could be better even, but this is something that we hope we can build some momentum on.”

The 34 points were a season high for the Eagles, who beat the Giants for the fourth straight time.

“It’s a big win for us,” said Wentz, who threw for 278 yards and hit Alshon Jeffery on his other two TD tosses. “NFC East and the conference. It’s huge. Being 3-3 is better than 2-4. This is more like who we are. We can build from this.”

The win put the Eagles into a first place tie with Washington (2-2) in the NFC East with Dallas (2-3) a half game back. The Giants (1-5) are fading fast.

“Obviously not where we want to be,” said Manning, who was sacked four times and hit 13 other times. “I’m not happy about it. I am frustrated like everyone. Obviously, all you can do is worry about the next game.”

The pressure was the key for the Eagles. It allowed defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz to sit back with his linebackers and secondary and kept receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard from making big plays for New York. They were invisible most of the game.

“We want to get after the passer every week,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. “These games are battles. It all comes down to which team gets after the passer. We hit Eli and put him on the ground. That was big.”

So was winning.

Five things were learned from the game:

SAQUON BARKLEY: The Giants rookie halfback is carrying the team. The second pick in the draft ran for 130 yards on 13 carries, scoring on a 50-yard run. He caught nine passes for 99, including a tackle-breaking 55-yarder that set up a field goal. That’s 229 yards from scrimmage. He has gained at least 100 in all six games, one off the NFL rookie record set by Kansas City’s Kareem Hunt last year.

“Saquon is a beast,” said Eagles halfback Corey Clement, who scored on a 1-yard run. “It’s hard not to say it. if I was saying anything otherwise, I’d be a hater.”

QUICK START HELPS: The Eagles got big contributions early. An interception by Kamu Grugier-Hill on the opening series set up Wentz’s first touchdown to Jeffery. A 23-yard punt return by DeAndre Carter paved the way for Clement’s score. Coming into the game, Philadelphia had scored seven points in the first quarter. They got 14 against New York.

MORE ODELL CONTROVERSY: Beckham was frustrated. At one point, he head butted a cooling fan on the Giants’ sideline. He also left the field one play before halftime with New York lining up for a Hail Mary. Coach Pat Shurmur said he was going to get an IV.

“I was just trying to get myself fired up,” Beckham said.

INJURIES: The Eagles’ biggest concern has to be left tackle Jason Peters. He left the game with a biceps injury. Backup cornerback Sidney Jones left in the first half with a hamstring injury. The Giants had LB Ray Ray Amstrong (concussion), WR Cody Latimer (hamstring) and CB Antonio Hamilton (illness) leave the game.

THE DIFFERENCE: Wentz had an idea what changed for the Eagles

“I think more than anything we just stayed ahead of the chains,” he said. “I think we didn’t shoot ourselves in the foot. And really offensively and defensively we just fed off each other. I think that’s something we do so well when we get that rolling and so tonight it was good to get it going.”

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Beckham makes scene, Giants drop to 1-5 with loss to Eagles

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — After last week's last-second loss against Carolina, Giants coach Pat Shurmur said he was "done" talking about Odell Beckham Jr. and his critical comments about the team.

Six games into his first season, Shurmur still can't shake the OBJ questions. It's talk of a postseason push that's gone

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — After last week’s last-second loss against Carolina, Giants coach Pat Shurmur said he was “done” talking about Odell Beckham Jr. and his critical comments about the team.

Six games into his first season, Shurmur still can’t shake the OBJ questions. It’s talk of a postseason push that’s gone silent.

The Giants are 1-5 and in last place in the NFC East after a 34-13 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday night that featured Beckham marching to the locker room before the end of the first half and slamming his head into a giant cooling fan during a second-half fit.

Shurmur said Beckham went to the locker room early because of cramps. Beckham said his headbutt was a bit of self-motivation.

“I was just trying to get myself going,” he said. “I felt like some of those plays where I was getting myself going was some of my best stuff. So I was just trying to get myself fired up. I did that and it helped me.”

Beckham bemoaned the lack of downfield passes from quarterback Eli Manning and the team’s subpar energy following a 33-31 loss to Carolina.

The Giants were counting on a prime-time visit from the Super Bowl champs to get their season turned around.

Instead, poor pass protection, inconsistent offense and costly penalties have left the Giants reeling.

The Eagles’ game plan on Thursday was to contain Beckham. He had six catches for 44 yards and his longest reception was 12 yards.

The Giants’ mistakes started early against the Eagles. Manning was intercepted on the opening drive of the game, and they took advantage for a touchdown.

Later in the quarter, Manning was sacked at his 1 and the Giants were forced to punt. The Eagles took advantage of the favorable field position and drove for another touchdown and a 14-3.

When the Giants added a field goal to get within 14-6, the defense allowed a touchdown on the next Eagles possession.

The Eagles, who entered the game at 2-3, had not scored more than 23 points in a game this season entering Thursday.

But they managed 24 in the opening half.

The Giants’ offense continued its struggles on third downs. They didn’t convert a third down until their opening drive of the second half. It was the first time in 16 tries they converted on third down going back to Week 4. The finished 4 of 14. The Eagles were 9 of 16 on third downs.

“They converted on third downs,” Shurmur said. “When you’re that good on third downs and you can stay on the field, you can give yourself a chance.”

The biggest bright spot for the Giants was rookie running back Saquon Barkley. He had 13 carries for 130 yards, including a 50-yard touchdown. And he added nine receptions for 99 yards, including a spectacular 55-yarder where he eluded several would-be tacklers. He’s the second player in NFL history to gain at least 100 yards from scrimmage in each of his first six career games.

However, the rest of the Giants’ offense struggled as they couldn’t consistently sustain long drives.

“We beat ourselves. Every time I looked up I felt like there was a yellow flag somewhere. We can’t have that,” Beckham said. “There’s no way we’re going to beat good teams with doing that.”

Manning was 24 for 43 for 281 yards and was sacked four times.

And the Giants have the same record as they did last year when they finished 3-13. And they have to wait to make up any ground since they don’t play again until facing the Atlanta Falcons on Monday, Oct. 22.

“1-5 is not where we want to be. I’m not happy about it, and I’m frustrated like everybody,” Manning said. “All we can do is worry about the next game.”

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Take 5: Can Belichick slow Chiefs’ offense?

Take 5: Can Belichick slow Chiefs' offense?

Bad Blake Bortles turned Week 5's best game into a dud. Luckily, the NFL schedule brings another AFC showdown this week, this time in prime time when the Kansas City Chiefs visit the New England Patriots on Sunday.

No one will confuse the

Take 5: Can Belichick slow Chiefs’ offense?

Bad Blake Bortles turned Week 5’s best game into a dud. Luckily, the NFL schedule brings another AFC showdown this week, this time in prime time when the Kansas City Chiefs visit the New England Patriots on Sunday.

No one will confuse the Patriots’ defense with the Jacksonville Jaguars’, but it’s a unit that is quietly much improved — 13th in yards per play (5.5) and eighth in yards per pass (6.1), up from 31st (5.7) and 20th (6.4), respectively, in 2017 — and we know Bill Belichick is one of the best at preparing for a specific opponent. But can he limit Andy Reid’s attack with his signature approach?

1. What will be the focus of Belichick’s defense?

The Patriots’ coach is known for game plans centered on taking away the opponent’s top threat.

But that’s hardly simple against the Chiefs, because Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce are each so dangerous and unique. Complicating matters, both men often align in the slot (especially in empty sets) and attack vertically, making them more difficult to bracket with dedicated double-teams than an X receiver who lines up wide.

To combat both threats, expect Belichick to employ plenty of three-man rushes, which would open up a number of possible wrinkles. With eight in coverage, the Patriots could assign dedicated double-teams to both Hill and Kelce while still keeping a center field safety and playing man coverage elsewhere (Stephon Gilmore likely will follow former Bills teammate Sammy Watkins, as the two have similar body types).

Dropping eight also would give Belichick freedom to deploy a lurker — a free defender who simply reads the quarterback’s eyes — or a QB spy, or both on the same play at times. These tactics would help clog the middle of the field against Reid’s wealth of crossing routes while keeping a watch on Patrick Mahomes to limit his movement outside the pocket.

2. Containing Mahomes is more important than sacking him

A three-man rush wouldn’t hamstring the Patriots much anyway, as their pass rush (3.5 percent sack rate, 32nd in NFL) shouldn’t threaten the Chiefs’ O-line (3.4 percent sack rate allowed, second).

Instead, Belichick will be more focused on preventing Mahomes’ opportunities to escape, which a three-man contain rush is built to do. The Patriots also could employ stunts and twists with three rushers to flush Mahomes in the direction they want, with a QB spy waiting to close him down as he leaves the pocket.

New England’s dedication to coverage will open up lanes for Kareem Hunt — just as Denver’s did two weeks ago — but Belichick could mitigate the damage somewhat by employing “Bear” fronts, which place defensive linemen over the center and both guards. Belichick often uses this approach, which plays like a 5-2 front (five DLs, two LBs) or a 5-1 in nickel and dime, because it prevents double teams against his stoutest run defenders and can render zone runs — which the Chiefs favor — fruitless.

Even if most of these tactics work, Kansas City’s overwhelming offensive firepower will be enough to move the ball regularly against a famously bend-don’t-break defense. New England will look to win on third down and especially in the red zone, where Hill becomes a less dangerous receiver (and more of a gadget player) because of his tiny frame and less space in which his speed can stretch the defense.

Tom Brady & Co. should carve up the Chiefs’ last-place D, so New England’s defense simply must win a few battles rather than the war.

3. Cincinnati must protect to dispatch Pittsburgh

The Steelers have bullied the Bengals of late, winning the past six meetings, nine of the past 10 and 14 of the past 17 (including playoffs). Perhaps more surprising, Pittsburgh hasn’t allowed more than 21 points to Cincinnati in the past 18 meetings.

Cincinnati’s offense should break the latter streak if it can avoid what short-circuited the Atlanta Falcons in Pittsburgh: poor pass protection (six sacks, 13 QB hits).

Keeping clean pockets is especially important with Andy Dalton, whose inability to handle pressure has always been his biggest weakness.

The Bengals’ reconfigured O-line has been a major part of the team’s 4-1 start. Cordy Glenn rarely wows, but it’s often easy to forget he’s out there (a good thing for a left tackle). Longtime left guard Clint Boling has steadied some in pass protection this year, and Trey Hopkins has held up fine in the absence of first-round center Billy Price, who could return from a foot injury this week.

The right side, however, is more exploitable. Despite mostly steady play, right guard Alex Redmond and right tackle Bobby Hart have each been susceptible to bull rushes this season, with Redmond accumulating four holding calls and Hart racking up 5.5 sacks allowed plus two holds.

That could be trouble against Stephon Tuitt, whose burst and power routinely get him near quarterbacks, and T.J. Watt, who is tied for the NFL sack lead (six) and plays with a springy explosiveness. (Bengals fans probably hold a grudge against Tuitt for ruining Cincy’s 2015 season when he intercepted Dalton and the QB broke his thumb tackling the big man.)

Even without Tyler Eifert (ankle), Dalton has the weapons to carve up Pittsburgh’s leaky back end if given time. That’s the top priority as the Bengals seek a breakthrough against the Steelers.

4. Promising signs for Seattle’s offense

Brian Schottenheimer was hardly an inspiring hire as the Seahawks’ offensive coordinator, and early returns (including 0-for-10 on third downs in Week 4) were mostly discouraging. But glimpses of optimism have shined through, most obviously Sunday in a 31-point performance against the Los Angeles Rams.

Pete Carroll clearly wanted to return to the run-centric approach that defined the offense early in Russell Wilson’s career. The Seahawks have 105 runs over the past three weeks, but they aren’t just running into a brick wall over and over.

Schottenheimer has kept them efficient with a variety of man- and zone-blocking concepts and a ton of zone-read elements to occupy backside defenders. On Sunday alone, Seattle showed an option for Wilson to keep the ball on 19 of 32 runs, including Mike Davis’ 6-yard touchdown. The same tactic also produced Davis’ 20-yard score at Arizona and Chris Carson’s 5-yarder vs. Dallas.

More important, Schottenheimer has ramped up the play-action passing, one of Wilson’s greatest strengths. Against L.A., Wilson went 9 of 11 for 172 yards and three touchdowns off play-action. Two of those scores came on designer deep shots, one on a sluggo (slant-and-go) and another on a Yankee concept (deep crosser underneath a deep post).

Such designs are a great fit for Wilson, featuring his excellent deep accuracy and forcing him to deliver on time rather than hold the ball and burden his offensive line. Tyler Lockett’s speed and Wilson’s mobility make such plays particularly dangerous, like on a Week 1 design in which Wilson rolled right by design and threw all the way back left to Lockett for a 51-yard score.

The Seahawks probably remain too run-heavy — it’s a myth that you must run it well and/or often for play-action to work; just ask Jay Gruden — but Schottenheimer is building effectively off of the run-based identity.

Facing an Oakland Raiders defense that has been porous against run and pass, Seattle’s offense could be in for its most productive game yet, with friendly matchups against the Detroit Lions and Los Angeles Chargers to follow.

5. Which Titans offense will we see vs. Baltimore?

Blaine Gabbert and a limited Marcus Mariota prevented us from seeing the full scope of new coordinator Matt LaFleur’s offense until Week 4 against the Philadelphia Eagles, when Mariota erupted for 344 passing yards and two scores (one INT), including the game-winner to Corey Davis in overtime.

That performance was particularly encouraging because of the Titans’ aggressiveness opening up the playbook. LaFleur, who has worked under both Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan the last two years, dialed up a number of downfield route designs out of condensed formations, using stack releases to free receivers and give Mariota defined reads and throws.

But last week’s flop in Buffalo was equally discouraging. Perhaps thinking they wouldn’t need many points to win, the Titans returned to a far more conservative approach and looked stuck in mud, totaling 221 total yards and just 129 through the air.

Setting aside a nice off-schedule play on Nick Williams’ brutal dropped touchdown, Mariota did little to inspire confidence. He often looked unsettled in the pocket, threw with spotty accuracy and, most worrisome, struggled to read the field against Sean McDermott’s zone-heavy defense.

That has quietly been a major recurring concern for Mariota, who should be much more comfortable reading defenses in his fourth year as a starter, and such issues could be exacerbated against the Ravens on Sunday. Under coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale, Baltimore’s defense is as complex as any in the league, employing a wide variety of zone exchanges and blitzes to break down protections and fool quarterbacks.

LaFleur can help Mariota by bringing back the aggression from Week 4 and dictating to the defense with downfield designs, many of which feature extra protection built in. But it might not be enough if the former No. 2 overall pick doesn’t make significant strides on his own.

–David DeChant, Field Level Media

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Jaguars All-Pro CB Ramsey added to injury report

Jaguars All-Pro CB Ramsey added to injury report

Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey was a surprise addition to the injury report, the team revealed on its official website Thursday.

The third-year All-Pro was limited at practice because of a knee injury.

Ramsey, who turns 24 later this

Jaguars All-Pro CB Ramsey added to injury report

Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey was a surprise addition to the injury report, the team revealed on its official website Thursday.

The third-year All-Pro was limited at practice because of a knee injury.

Ramsey, who turns 24 later this month, has started all five games for 3-2 Jacksonville this season, compiling 17 tackles without an interception.

The Jaguars’ defensive star joins a pair of other cornerbacks on the team’s injury report, as both D.J. Hayden (toe) and Tre Herndon (hamstring) have not practiced since Tuesday.

Veteran defensive lineman Calais Campbell was a limited participant for the second straight day because of an ankle issue, although two other linemates returned to full practice Thursday — Malik Jackson (back, sat out Wednesday) and Yannick Ngakoue (shoulder, limited at Wednesday practice).

Two members of Jacksonville’s offense were sidelined for the second straight day, running back Leonard Fournette (hamstring) and offensive lineman Josh Wells (groin). Fournette was already ruled out for this Sunday’s game at Dallas, promoting the team to sign free agent Jamaal Charles to a one-year deal on Tuesday.

Center Brandon Linder (knee) and left guard Andrew Norwell (foot) were limited on Thursday after both missed practice on Wednesday.

–Field Level Media

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Pack, Rodgers seek healthy return vs. 49ers

Pack, Rodgers seek healthy return vs. 49ers

Aaron Rodgers' sore knee continues to bother him as the season approaches its halfway point.

Doctors can provide the Green Bay Packers quarterback with medicine. But nothing makes Rodgers feel as good as winning.

The Packers (2-2-1) will try to

Pack, Rodgers seek healthy return vs. 49ers

Aaron Rodgers’ sore knee continues to bother him as the season approaches its halfway point.

Doctors can provide the Green Bay Packers quarterback with medicine. But nothing makes Rodgers feel as good as winning.

The Packers (2-2-1) will try to climb back toward the top of the NFC North standings when they host the San Francisco 49ers (1-4) on Monday night at Lambeau Field.

The Packers are 1-0-1 at home this season. Rodgers has saved some of his best work for home crowds, posting an 8-0-1 record in his last nine starts at Lambeau, with 22 touchdowns and three interceptions.

Now, if only he felt better. He sprained his knee in the season opener against the Chicago Bears, and he sat out Thursday’s practice after experiencing a setback.

Rodgers expects to be available Monday, although he might wear a bigger knee brace that limits his mobility.

“I hope not,” Rodgers told reporters when asked about wearing a larger brace. “The goal would be to wear the same brace I wore last week, but I have a lot of faith in our training staff, and we’re going to (use) the brace we feel is most safe and (allows) me to do exactly what I’m able to do on Monday.”

Meanwhile, 49ers quarterback C.J. Beathard is focused on fixing his mental mistakes. The second-year player out of Iowa will try to bounce back from a tough loss against the Arizona Cardinals in which he threw two interceptions, lost two fumbles and was sacked twice.

Beathard has taken over for Jimmy Garoppolo, who is sidelined for the rest of the year with a torn ACL.

“The bottom line is you can’t lose the ball,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan told the San Francisco Chronicle. “Whether you get hit, whether someone’s not open, sometimes you need to get rid of it.

“Sometimes you need to take sacks. But the worst-case scenario, we plan on ending the series with the ball in our hand. That’s something he’s got to do a better job of.”

Green Bay has averaged 401 yards per game on offense while giving up an average of 313.8. The 49ers have averaged 378 yards while allowing 348.4.

Packers wide receiver Davante Adams, who has seven touchdown catches in his past seven games, could pose challenges for the San Francisco secondary. He made nine catches for 140 yards and a score last week in a 31-23 loss to the Detroit Lions.

The 49ers’ top target could be Pierre Garcon, whose two most recent games against the Packers included 100-plus receiving yards and a touchdown.

This is the teams’ first meeting since 2015, when the Packers pulled away for a 17-3 win.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Giants fined Beckham over interview

Report: Giants fined Beckham over interview

Three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was fined by the New York Giants over his controversial comments about the team last weekend, Fox Sports reported Thursday.

According to Jay Glazer on the Fox NFL pregame show shortly before New York's home matchup

Report: Giants fined Beckham over interview

Three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was fined by the New York Giants over his controversial comments about the team last weekend, Fox Sports reported Thursday.

According to Jay Glazer on the Fox NFL pregame show shortly before New York’s home matchup against NFC East rival Philadelphia on Thursday night, the Giants levied an undisclosed fine on their talented, yet outspoken wideout after Beckham expressed frustration with his role in the offense to ESPN’s Josina Anderson. Beckham didn’t express much confidence in quarterback Eli Manning, either.

Asked whether Manning was the cause of the Giants’ offensive woes, Beckham didn’t exactly stick up for the quarterback.

“I don’t know,” Beckham began.

“Like I said, I feel like he’s not going to get out the pocket. He’s not — we know Eli’s not running it. But is it a matter of time issue? Can he still throw it, yeah, but it’s been pretty safe and it’s been, you know … cool catching shallow (passes) and trying to take it to the house. But I’m, you know, I want to go over the top of somebody.”

Glazer reported that the Giants’ players and coaches were upset with Beckham for speaking publicly.

During training camp, he signed a five-year contract extension worth $95 million, with $65 million guaranteed, ending preseason drama between the two sides.

Going into Thursday night’s game, Beckham had 39 catches for 462 yards and one touchdown.

–Field Level Media

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Chiefs, Mahomes will get major test in New England

There can be no better measuring stick for the Chiefs and young quarterback Patrick Mahomes than what they face Sunday night.

Beat the Patriots in Foxborough and all that excitement in Kansas City might be validated.

Remember, though, that the Chiefs, with Alex Smith, went into Gillette Stadium and won the 2017 kickoff

There can be no better measuring stick for the Chiefs and young quarterback Patrick Mahomes than what they face Sunday night.

Beat the Patriots in Foxborough and all that excitement in Kansas City might be validated.

Remember, though, that the Chiefs, with Alex Smith, went into Gillette Stadium and won the 2017 kickoff to the season. They went on an up-and-down ride the rest of the way, lost in the wild-card playoff round, while the Patriots straightened out and made the Super Bowl before losing to Philadelphia.

Mahomes, of course, has looked immune to any sort of high-stakes pressure in leading the Chiefs (5-0) to the top of the AFC. He embraces this challenge and trying to outdo Tom Brady.

“It is going to be a great opportunity,” says Mahomes, who has a league-best 14 touchdown passes. “He is one of the greatest quarterbacks, if not the greatest to ever play. I am going against their defense, but as a team we are going to go in and try to compete. They are a good team in the AFC every single year. Just to compete against one of the best teams in the league is going to be an awesome opportunity.”

How familiar is Mahomes with three-time league MVP Brady, whom he has never met?

“I definitely watched a good amount of him in college (at Texas Tech),” he says. “Coach (Kliff) Kingsbury actually played with Tom at one point. He liked to show me some things that he did where he was in the pocket, his pocket movements and things like that. I have definitely taken some things from him. He does it at such a high level, it’s something you have to strive to be like.”

New England (3-2) is striving to be, well, New England. After a 1-2 start, the Patriots appear to have gotten back on their usual winning path.

The weekend began with Philadelphia’s 34-13 road victory over the New York Giants. Carson Wentz threw a season-high three touchdown passes for the Eagles (3-3). They beat the Giants (1-5) for the fourth straight time and seventh in eight games.

Off this week are Detroit (2-3) and New Orleans (4-1)

Pittsburgh (2-2-1) at Cincinnati (4-1)

One of the NFL’s most vicious and yellow-tinted rivalries . As in:

—These teams combined for four penalties for unnecessary roughness, one for unsportsmanlike conduct, one for taunting, one for roughing the passer, and two 15-yard penalties for grabbing a facemask in their previous meeting.

—Cincinnati set a club record with 173 yards in penalties in that messy affair, when the Steelers overcame a 17-0 deficit to win.

More numbers of note:

—The Steelers have won the past six games in this series, nine of 10 and 14 of 17.

—The Bengals are 8-24 vs. the Steelers under coach Marvin Lewis

—Lewis is 2-15 at Paul Brown Stadium against Pittsburg.

— Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger is 24-4-1 in his native Ohio, including the postseason. He’s 13-2 at Paul Brown Stadium with 23 TDs, 10 interceptions.

Los Angeles Chargers (3-2) at Cleveland (2-2-1)

When last they met in Cleveland, the Browns won in their 15th game to avoid a perfect season on the wrong side of the ledger. So they lost every game in 2017, including at the Chargers.

“Not to speak too much of last year, but I could not believe and I did not feel like they were an 0-16 team or 0-14, whatever they were when we played them last year,” says Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers. “It was a good football team. They just did not find ways to win and so many (games) they had opportunities.”

They’ve got two wins already and lead the NFL with 15 takeaways, two more than in the entire 2017 season.

Baltimore (3-2) at Tennessee (3-2)

Two clubs coming off down weekends: Tennessee was punchless at Buffalo, Baltimore was inept offensively at Cleveland.

Both can play D, though, so don’t expect a lot of end zone activity in Music City.

The Ravens are playing a third straight road game, then have four of the next five at home. They lead the NFL in scoring defense, allowing 15.4 points per game, with no TDs in a second half.

The Titans have allowed seven points in the first quarter and lead in red zone defense, allowing three TDs in 13 possessions for a 23.1 percent success rate by opponents.

Chicago (3-1) at Miami (3-2)

The Bears have won three in a row and come off a bye. They haven’t earned four straight wins since 2012.

With Khalil Mack revitalizing the defense, Chicago ranks No. 1 against the run and second overall. If second-year quarterback Mitch Trubisky truly has found the passing rhythm — his six TD throws in a rout of Tampa Bay tied for second most in an NFL game — the Bears needs to be taken seriously.

Miami was taken seriously until it laid eggs at New England and Cincinnati, where it blew a 17-0 lead. The Dolphins rank third worst in yards and fifth worst in points. They have been outgained by 94 yards per game, which ranks third worst.

Carolina (3-1) at Washington (2-2)

Washington was on the wrong end of the record-setting Brees blitz through the air in New Orleans, and was damaged as much by penalties as inefficient defense. The usually precise Alex Smith threw an interception and was generally off-target.

Now comes Carolina, which has seven picks, is plus-5 in turnovers, and has nine sacks. The Panthers also have the NFL’s top rushing offense, in part because quarterback Cam Newton is such a weapon on the ground. Newton is 4-0 with nine TDs and zero picks for a 115.4 passer rating vs. Washington, along with two rushing scores.

Washington has lost five straight to Carolina.

Los Angeles Rams (5-0) at Denver (2-3)

While Denver’s defense has been getting Orange Crushed recently, LA’s offense has looked unstoppable. Jared Goff leads the league with 1,727 yards passing and ranks second with a 119.7 passer rating. In the past month, Goff is averaging 374 yards per game.

Todd Gurley tops the NFL with seven TD runs and ranks second with 645 scrimmage yards. Of concern for the impressive receiving group is that Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp each left last week’s win at Seattle with concussions.

Denver star LB Von Miller has gone sackless the past three weeks. The Broncos yielded 323 rushing yards to the Jets, so, yes, that has caught Gurley’s attention.

Jacksonville (3-2) at Dallas (2-3)

Oddly, Dallas has never won its first three home games at Jerry World.

With RB Leonard Fournette still hurt, the showpiece matchup with Ezekiel Elliott disappears. Elliott has been the prime weapon for Dallas and is averaging 154 yards from scrimmage per game in the past three. But the passing game is 30th as Dak Prescott struggles without a topnotch receiver.

He’ll face the stingiest defense in the NFL.

Seattle (2-3) vs. Oakland (1-4) at London

Wonder if the Raiders will have as many fans in Wembley as they did in StubHub Center. They could really use the support as Jon Gruden’s return season spirals out of control.

“I’m going to continue to emphasize the good and do everything I can to fix the things that are bad, because most of the things that are bad, my fingerprints are all over,” Gruden said.

Such as a defense, minus the traded Mack of course, that ranks 30th. Oakland has the fewest QB pressures in the league (29), tied for fewest sacks (six), and is tied for third-fewest takeaways (five).

Seattle makes its first regular-season overseas appearance. Worth watching:

—Pete Carroll seeks his 91st win with the team to pass Mike Holmgren as winningest coach for the franchise.

—Russell Wilson is 25-6 after a loss, the best record of any quarterback since the merger.

—Seahawks kicker Sebastian Janikowski spent 18 seasons with the Raiders, holding the franchise record for points (1,799) and games (268).

Indianapolis (1-4) at New York Jets (2-3)

If any team needed the long layoff from a Thursday nighter, it was the Colts. They went into New England undermanned and then got hammered with more injuries, giving them little chance against the Patriots.

Assuming they are somewhat healthier, this is a far better chance for Indy to straighten out its season. Andrew Luck’s arm looks strong, but who does he have to throw to if T.Y. Hilton isn’t in the lineup?

New York opened up its offense in a win over Denver, letting Sam Darnold occasionally fling the ball downfield and it led to some huge plays. The Colts are vulnerable to that.

Buffalo (2-3) at Houston (2-3)

Each team comes off a tight victory in which the offenses were stagnant, while the defenses and kicking games were decisive.

Houston wants things more open when it has the ball, with Deshaun Watson connecting on throws to DeAndre Hopkins. Buffalo’s solid second-year cornerback Tre’Davious White, will be tested.

Apparently fully healthy after two tough years, Texans DE J.J. Watt is tied for the NFL lead with six sacks. Watt had an 80-yard interception return for a score in his previous game against the Bills in Houston, a 23-17 win in 2014.

Arizona (1-4) at Minnesota (2-2-1)

What could be a mismatch — Arizona has the NFL’s worst offense and has scored all of 65 points — has one intriguing element. Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald, a likely Hall of Famer, returns to his hometown for the sixth time in his 15-year career, with an average of 87.4 receiving yards and no touchdowns at Minnesota.

On the other side, wideout WR Adam Thielen leads the league in receptions (47) and is second in yards (589). He’s also first in third-down catches (14). Thielen is the third player in NFL history with five 100-yard games to start a season, the first since 1961.

San Francisco (1-4) at Green Bay (2-2-1), Monday night

Following a stinker at home to hand Arizona its first win, the Niners go to the prime-time showcase against Green Bay, which is following a stinker of its own at Detroit.

Both teams struggle to protect the ball, and the 49ers can’t find ways to take it away from opponents; they have a league-low one interception and have forced three turnovers.

Of special interest for the Pack: Mason Crosby went 1 for 5 on field goals and missed his only extra-point try at Detroit.

Tampa Bay (2-2) at Atlanta (1-4)

No one played worse the past two weeks than the Bucs. But the Falcons were close.

Bucs QB Jameis Winston gets back his starting job following a bye; he was suspended for the first three games, when Ryan Fitzpatrick was either magical or mediocre. Tampa’s defense has been dreadful.

Then again, so has Atlanta’s, which is ravaged by injuries. It ranks worst in points allowed and worst in third-down percentage. The offense struggles to protect Matt Ryan and to generate a running game.

___

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