NFL Today, Week 8

SCOREBOARD

Monday, Oct. 29

New England at Buffalo, 8:15 p.m. The Patriots are 31-4 in their past 35 matchups against the Bills, and Tom Brady holds the NFL career wins record by a quarterback against one opponent at 28-3. With 575 TD throws in the regular season and playoffs, Brady is four short of matching the NFL record held by Peyton Manning. Veteran Derek Anderson will start his second straight game for Buffalo, which is 0-7 against New England in night games.

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STARS

Passing

— Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs, passed for 303 yards for his franchise-record seventh consecutive 300-yard performance and had four touchdowns to lift Kansas City to a 30-23 victory Denver.

— Carson Wentz, Eagles, threw three touchdown passes in Philadelphia’s 24-18 win over Jacksonville at Wembley Stadium.

— Russell Wilson, Seahawks, went 14 of 17 for 248 yards and three touchdowns, leading to a perfect quarterback rating in Seattle’s 28-14 win at Detroit.

— Cam Newton, Panthers, completed 21 of 29 passes for 219 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 52 yards and another score against the NFL’s No. 1-ranked defense in a 36-21 victory over Baltimore.

— Andrew Luck, Colts, threw three touchdown passes in Indianapolis’ 42-28 win at Oakland.

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Rushing

— Adrian Peterson, Redskins, had a season-high 149 yards rushing, including a 64-yard TD, on 26 carries and caught a 7-yard touchdown pass in Washington’s 20-13 victory over the Giants.

— James Conner, Steelers, ran for 146 yards and a touchdown in Pittsburgh’s 33-18 win over Cleveland.

— Marlon Mack, Colts, had a career-high 132 yards rushing and two TDs on 25 attempts as Indianapolis beat Oakland 42-28.

— Joe Mixon, Bengals, rushed for 123 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries to help Cincinnati top Tampa Bay 37-34.

— Todd Gurley, Rams, ran for 114 yards and caught six passes for 81 yards and a touchdown, reaching the end zone for a franchise record-tying 11th straight game as Los Angeles edged Green Bay 29-27.

— Chris Carson, Seahawks, had 105 yards rushing and a TD in Seattle’s 28-14 win at Detroit.

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Receiving

— Tyler Boyd, Bengals, caught nine passes for 138 yards and a touchdown to help Cincinnati defeat Tampa Bay 37-34.

— Sammy Watkins, Chiefs, had eight catches for 107 yards and two touchdowns in Kansas City’s 30-23 victory over Denver.

— Marvin Jones, Lions, had seven receptions for 117 yards and two TDs in Detroit’s 28-14 loss to Seattle.

— Mike Evans, Buccaneers, had 179 yards receiving and a touchdown on six catches in a losing cause as Tampa Bay fell 37-34 at Cincinnati.

— Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals, caught eight passes for 102 yards and a TD to help Arizona edge San Francisco 18-15.

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Special Teams

— Adam Vinatieri, Colts, set the NFL’s career scoring record with two field goals and four extra points in Indianapolis’ 42-28 victory at Oakland.

— Randy Bullock, Bengals, kicked a 44-yard field goal on the final play to lift Cincinnati over Tampa Bay 37-34.

— Graham Gano, Panthers, had field goals of 54, 44 and 30 yards in Carolina’s 36-21 win against Baltimore.

— Josh Lambo, Jaguars, booted four field goals, including a career-best 57-yarder, in Jacksonville’s 24-18 loss to Philadelphia in London.

— Greg Zuerlein and Ramik Wilson, Rams. Zuerlein hit a 34-yard field goal with 2:05 left and Ramik Wilson forced and recovered Ty Montgomery’s fumble on the ensuing kickoff return in Los Angeles’ 29-27 victory over Green Bay.

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Defense

— Jessie Bates, Bengals, returned Jameis Winston’s fourth interception for a touchdown to help Cincinnati top Tampa Bay 37-34.

— Dee Ford, Chiefs, had three sacks and two forced fumbles in Kansas City’s 30-23 victory over Denver.

— D.J. Swearinger and Matt Ioannidis, Redskins. Swearinger intercepted two passes in Washington’s 20-13 win over the Giants, and Ioannidis had 2½ sacks.

— Jason Pierre-Paul, Buccaneers, had two sacks in Tampa Bay’s 37-34 loss at Cincinnati to give him at least one in six straight games, tied for the longest streak in franchise history.

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MILESTONES

Indianapolis’ Adam Vinatieri set the record as the NFL’s top all-time scorer in the first half of the Colts’ 42-28 win at Oakland. He kicked a 26-yard field goal in the first quarter to tie Morten Andersen with 2,544 points and then added a 25-yarder late in the second to set the record. Vinatieri scored three more points, giving him 2,550 for his career. … Ben Roethlisberger’s second TD pass to Antonio Brown in Pittsburgh’s 33-18 win over Cleveland moved him past Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton (342) on the career list. Eli Manning (346) is seventh. Peyton Manning holds the record with 539 TD passes. Roethlisberger and Brown have combined for 67 TDs, tied for seventh-most in league history. Peyton Manning and Reggie Wayne also had 67 scores. … Kansas City’s 30-23 win over Denver gave coach Andy Reid his 201st victory, tying Dan Reeves for eighth-most in NFL history. … Tampa Bay’s DeSean Jackson caught a 60-yard touchdown pass in a 37-34 loss at Cincinnati, moving him ahead of Jerry Rice for the NFL record. He has 24 TDs of at least 60 yards. It also was Jackson’s 29th career TD of at least 50 yards, tying Randy Moss for second-most since the 1970 merger behind Rice’s 36. … Larry Fitzgerald’s 112th career touchdown catch, coming in Arizona’s 18-15 win over San Francisco, moved him past Tony Gonzalez alone into seventh on the NFL career list.

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STREAKS & STATS

Cleveland has lost 25 consecutive road games, one shy of the NFL record held by the Detroit Lions (2007-10). … Carolina’s Graham Gano extended his streak to 39 consecutive field goals made at home — and 28 straight overall — after connecting from 54, 44 and 30 yards in the Panthers’ 36-21 win over Baltimore. … Kansas City failed to score on its initial drive for the first time all season, but went on to beat Denver 30-23. … Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker had a streak of 61 consecutive PATs snapped in the first half of Kansas City’s win. … Tampa Bay’s Jason Pierre-Paul had a pair of sacks in the Buccaneers’ 37-34 loss at Cincinnati, giving him at least one in six straight games to tie Simeon Rice for the most consecutive games with a sack in team history. … Oakland’s Derek Carr scored on a 1-yard sneak on fourth down in the third quarter of a 42-28 loss to Indianapolis. It was his first career touchdown run, and Oakland hadn’t had a quarterback run for a TD since Terrelle Pryor scored on a 93-yard run against Pittsburgh on Oct. 27, 2013. Only the Chargers had gone longer without a TD run for a QB.

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STARTS

The Los Angeles Rams remained the NFL’s lone unbeaten team at 8-0 with a 29-27 win against Green Bay to extend their best start to a season since 1969. … Washington defeated the New York Giants 20-13 to improve to 5-2, its best start since 2008.

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SOMBER DAY

The Steelers overcame a slow start and their own mistakes to win their 15th straight at Heinz Field over the Cleveland Browns, 33-18 on Sunday. The victory delivered a few hours of comfort to Pittsburgh’s fans and Western Pennsylvania still in shock a day after a gunman stormed into the Tree of Life Synagogue and killed 11 people. A moment of silence was observed before the game and several signs with the Steelers’ helmet logo — inlaid with a Star of David — were displayed by fans. The shooting was felt by all Pittsburghers, and was close to the Steelers. Michele Rosenthal, the team’s former community relations manager, had two brothers, Cecil and David, killed in the attack.

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STILL GOING STRONG

Washington’s Adrian Peterson had 149 yards rushing and two touchdowns — one rushing, one receiving — in the Redskins’ 20-13 win against the New York Giants. At 33 years and 221 days old, Peterson is the oldest player in NFL history to record at least 100 yards rushing and both a rushing and receiving touchdown in a single game. With a 64-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, Peterson joined Steve Bono (76 yards, 1995), Rocky Bleier (70, 1979) and Jim Thorpe (80, 1921) as the only players to run for a TD run of at least 60 yards at 33 or older. He’s also the fourth player with at least 140 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown in a single game at 33 or older, joining John Henry Johnson (200 yards, three TDs, 1964), John Riggins (140, one TD, 1984) and DeAngelo Williams (143, two TDs, 2016).

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IN THE CARDS

Arizona’s Josh Rosen threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to fellow rookie Christian Kirk with 34 seconds to play to rally the Cardinals to an 18-15 victory over the San Francisco 49ers in a matchup of teams with two of the worst records in the NFL. The Cardinals (2-6) beat the 49ers (1-7) for the eighth straight time and second time in three weeks. Arizona got two fourth-quarter touchdown passes from Rosen after the 49ers had built a 15-3 lead. Rosen’s 13-yard pass to Larry Fitzgerald cut the lead to 15-10 with 11:06 to play. Fitzgerald also caught a 2-point conversion pass after Kirk’s TD.

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LAST IN LONDON

Philadelphia’s 24-18 win over Jacksonville, played before a record, pro-Eagles crowd of 85,870 fans, was the last of three played at Wembley this season. The Jaguars, who have played at the venue since 2013, have a contract to hold one game there annually through the 2020 season.

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SLINGIN’ IT

Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes became the fourth player in NFL history to throw at least four touchdown passes in three consecutive games, joining New Orleans’ Drew Brees (three straight in 2011), Indianapolis’ Peyton Manning (five, 2004) and Miami’s Dan Marino (four, 1984). Mahomes also joined Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck (eight straight in 2014) and Brees (seven, 2011) as the only player with seven consecutive games with at least 300 passing yards in a single season.

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SEATTLE SURPRISE

To seal Seattle’s 28-14 victory at Detroit, punter Michael Dickson ran out of his end zone and gained 9 yards on a fourth-and-8 from the Seattle 3 on a play that was designed for him to take a safety. “He went against all traditions and everything, but he saw the situation and he took advantage of it,” coach Pete Carroll said. “It was truly a surprise.”

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WINSTON’S WAYWARD THROWS

Jameis Winston was benched in Tampa Bay’s 37-34 loss at Cincinnati after matching his career high with four interceptions, the third time he’s thrown so many in his career. He has thrown 10 interceptions, one fewer than all last season. “I’m definitely the reason we came up short with this game, and I know that I have to fix it,” said Winston, who was 18 of 35 for 276 yards with five sacks. Winston went to the bench, and Ryan Fitzpatrick pulled Tampa Bay even with a 72-yard touchdown to Mike Evans , his fifth TD pass of at least 50 yards this season — most in the NFL, and an 18-yard TD to O.J. Howard and completing another pass for the conversion with 1:05 left. Winston has thrown at least two interceptions in five straight games, tied for the most since 1990. His 13 interceptions over that span are tied with Fitzpatrick for the most in a five-game stretch over the past five seasons.

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SHIELDS SHINES

Sam Shields made several big plays for the Los Angeles Rams against his former team. The veteran defensive back caught a pass from Johnny Hekker on a fake punt, and he later downed a punt at the Green Bay 1 to set up the Rams’ defense for its safety in a 29-27 win. Shields played seven seasons with the Packers before his fourth concussion in 2016 nearly ended his career, but he returned to the NFL with the Rams this season.

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SHOWING SUPPORT

Demonstrators gathered outside the Panthers’ stadium in support of Carolina safety Eric Reid and his protest against social and racial injustice. The organization, known as Serve The People-Charlotte, held signs and chanted on a sidewalk near the stadium before the game against the visiting Ravens, then gathered at a nearby street to take a knee just before kickoff. About 50 people participated in the protest outside the stadium, while Reid was taking a knee on the Carolina sideline inside during the national anthem.

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SIDELINED

Philadelphia offensive tackle Lane Johnson injured his left knee on the Eagles’ opening drive and did not return to the team’s 24-18 win over the Jaguars in London on Sunday. Cornerback Jalen Mills injured his foot a minute into the third quarter and missed the rest of the game. … Kansas City wide receiver Tyreek Hill appeared to tweak his groin on a long catch early in the game and he left late in the fourth quarter of the Chiefs’ 30-23 win over Denver. … Chicago guard Kyle Long had to be helped off the field in the closing minutes with an injured right foot, putting a damper on a 24-10 victory over the New York Jets. … Bengals guard Clint Boling hurt his back late in the first half and defensive end Carl Lawson hurt his right knee in Cincinnati’s 37-34 win over Tampa Bay. Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones II suffered a hamstring injury in the second half. … The 49ers lost two important defensive players in their 18-15 loss to the Cardinals: Linebacker Reuben Foster left early with a hamstring injury and safety Jaquiski Tartt was knocked out with a shoulder injury. … Washington offensive tackle Trent Williams left the Redskins’ 20-13 win over the New York Giants with a dislocated thumb.

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SPEAKING

“We’re thankful for a victory, but we also understand that there are bigger things. There’s life. I’m glad that we could give people maybe three hours of a break of maybe not thinking about it all the time, and that’s what sports does sometimes is it helps you to kind of heal. But it’s over and people are going to celebrate and enjoy this, but reality still sets in for a lot of people.” — Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger after a 33-18 win over the Cleveland Browns brought temporary comfort to Pittsburgh’s fans and Western Pennsylvania still in shock a day after a gunman stormed into the Tree of Life Synagogue and killed 11 people.

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“I had a heavy heart today. My oldest son Devin didn’t want to come to the game today. My feelings were a little hurt. So I was carrying that around all day so when I got in there (the end zone), I kind of let it out. So all the kids that are watching, I’m sorry, I set a bad example today.” — Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald on spiking the football after his 2-point conversion in the Cardinals’ 18-15 win over San Francisco. His son went to a state fair instead of his game.

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“When we’re clicking and spreading the ball around, we’re really tough to stop.” — Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes after he had a franchise-record seventh consecutive 300-yard performance in the Chiefs’ 30-23 victory over Denver.

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For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

Eagles RB Sproles out for season, Ajayi signed

Eagles RB Sproles out for season, Ajayi signed

Eagles RB Sproles out for season, Ajayi signed

Philadelphia Eagles running back Darren Sproles is out for the rest of the season due to a torn right hip flexor, the team announced Friday.

The Eagles signed Jay Ajayi later in the day. Ajayi gained 592 yards with four touchdowns in 11 games over the past 1 1/2 seasons with the Eagles. He has 2,516 yards and 13 career rushing TDs over four seasons with the Miami Dolphins and Eagles.

“It’s a blessing to be back in the NFL and with this team, said Ajayi, who recently had tryouts with the Detroit Lions and Arizona Cardinals. “Philly is a special place for me, and to come back here is wonderful. I’m looking forward to Sunday (against the New England Patriots) and seeing what that brings.”

Ajayi suffered a torn ACL in his left knee on Oct. 7, 2018 and has been working to come back from the serious injury.

As for Sproles, the 36-year-old originally suffered the hip injury in a 31-6 win over the New York Jets on Oct. 6.

He missed the next three games, but returned and had three offensive touches in a 22-14 win over the Chicago Bears on Nov. 3. Sproles didn’t report any problems after that game and returned to practice the following week, but reported the injury after Wednesday’s session.

Sproles finishes the season with 17 carries for 66 yards and six receptions for 24 yards in six games this season.

Playing in his 15th season, Sproles is now fifth all-time in career all-purpose yards with 19,696.

–Field Level Media

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Bengals CB Kirkpatrick (knee) out for season

Bengals CB Kirkpatrick (knee) out for season

The

Bengals CB Kirkpatrick (knee) out for season

The Cincinnati Bengals placed cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick on injured reserve on Friday due to the knee injury he suffered in Week 6.

The club had held out hope Kirkpatrick could return this season but the move ends the 30-year-old’s season.

“It’s been hard to predict when he doesn’t feel ready to come back in these next couple of weeks,” Bengals coach Zac Taylor told reporters after Friday’s practice. “So I felt it was in everybody’s best interest to give him time to heal. It’s tough when you’ve got guys that you’re not quite sure what the long-term diagnosis is going to be and they keep taking a spot. We just felt like it was the best decision and it gives him a chance to get healthy.”

Kirkpatrick hyperextended his left knee against the Baltimore Ravens in the Week 6 contest.

Kirkpatrick had 33 tackles in six games. He has spent all eight of his NFL seasons with Cincinnati and has 10 career interceptions with 306 tackles.

Cincinnati also activated receiver Damion Willis and linebacker Hardy Nickerson off the practice squad.

Willis had nine catches for 82 yards in seven games (two starts) for the Bengals earlier this season. Nickerson made 71 tackles in 30 games (nine starts) with the club over the previous two seasons and was waived at the end of the preseason and re-signed to the practice squad on Sept. 3.

Cincinnati had an open roster spot after releasing linebacker Preston Brown earlier this week.

Also, the Bengals declared receiver A.J. Green (ankle), guard Alex Redmond (knee/ankle) and tight end Drew Sample (ankle) as out for Sunday’s road game against the Oakland Raiders. Green, a seven-time Pro Bowl selection, has yet to play this season.

Defensive tackle Geno Atkins (ankle) and offensive tackle Bobby Hart (shoulder) are questionable.

–Field Level Media

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Colts QB Brissett to play Sunday; WR Hilton out

Colts QB Brissett to play Sunday; WR Hilton out

Jacoby

Colts QB Brissett to play Sunday; WR Hilton out

Jacoby Brissett will be back at quarterback on Sunday for the Indianapolis Colts when they face the Jacksonville Jaguars.

“Jacoby was full go the whole week,” coach Frank Reich told reporters on Friday. “He looked good, so he’ll be our starter.”

Brissett sprained his left knee in the Colts’ 26-24 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Nov. 3. He sat out last Sunday’s game, a four-point loss to the Miami Dolphins.

Reich said he couldn’t estimate how near the quarterback was to 100 percent recovered.

“He’s looked really good. I really don’t want to put a percentage on it. I know he’s good enough to play,” Reich said.

On the season, the 26-year-old Brissett has completed 64.8 percent of his passes for 1,649 yards in eight starts. He’s thrown 14 touchdowns and been intercepted three times.

Reich also announced that No. 1 receiver T.Y. Hilton will miss the game with a calf injury. He last played on Oct. 27 in a win against Denver.

Hilton, a four-time Pro Bowl selection, has 32 receptions for 360 yards and five touchdowns in 2019.

–Field Level Media

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Reports: Ex-Browns WR Callaway loses appeal of 10-game ban

Reports: Ex-Browns WR Callaway loses appeal of 10-game ban

Reports: Ex-Browns WR Callaway loses appeal of 10-game ban

Former Cleveland Browns wide receiver Antonio Callaway must serve a 10-game suspension after losing his appeal, according to multiple reports published on Friday.

Callaway’s suspension was for his second violation of the league’s substance-abuse policy, which he and his agent attributed to a tainted CBD product.

The Browns waived Callaway on Thursday, four days after he was benched, and shortly before NFL Network reported his suspension.

Callaway was a late scratch for the Browns’ 19-16 home victory over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday for what multiple outlets reported was a late arrival to the game.

Callaway, 22, was a fourth-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, after the Browns traded up to get him. Most considered him a first-round talent, but legal issues and his dismissal from the team at Florida damaged his draft status.

In August 2018, four months after he was drafted, Callaway was cited for marijuana possession and driving with a suspended license, charges that were dropped in February.

Callaway played in all 16 games as a rookie and totaled 43 catches for 586 yards and five touchdowns in 16 games (11 starts as a rookie). But he was suspended four games under the substance-abuse policy — stemming from the 2018 citation — to start this season.

In four games (two starts) since the suspension, he had only eight catches for 89 yards.

–Field Level Media

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Browns’ Garrett suspended indefinitely, two others disciplined

Browns' Garrett suspended indefinitely, two others disciplined

Browns’ Garrett suspended indefinitely, two others disciplined

Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett was suspended indefinitely without pay for his role in a melee in Thursday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, as the NFL reacted with swift and harsh penalties one day after the ugly incident.

The minimum six-game suspension for Garrett, which would include the playoffs if the Browns advance, is the largest ever handed out by the NFL.

Also suspended for their role in the fracas, notable for Garrett swinging a helmet at Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph, was Browns defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi (one game and a fine) and Steelers offensive lineman Maurkice Pouncey (three games and a fine.)

The Browns and Steelers organizations also were fined $250,000 each.

The incident started after Rudolph dumped off a short pass. After getting knocked down, Rudolph appeared to grab at Garrett’s helmet before Garrett ripped off Rudolph’s helmet and, with Steelers’ offensive linemen attempting to intervene, hit the quarterback in the head with it.

“It was bush league,” Rudolph, who was uninjured, told reporters afterward. “Total coward move on his part. I get it. I mean it’s OK, though. I’ll take it. I’m not going to back down from any bully out there.”

Rudolph did not initially fall from the hit by the helmet, as he turned to officials with his hands raised, but Ogunjobi charged at him from behind and shoved him to the ground.

Meanwhile, Steelers offensive lineman David DeCastro tackled Garrett, and Pouncey jumped on the pile, throwing several punches at Garrett before kicking at him once and throwing more punches.

After conferring with replay officials in New York, referee Clete Blakeman ejected Garrett, Ogunjobi and Pouncey. That made four ejections in the game, after Browns safety Damarious Randall was disqualified following a helmet-to-helmet hit that concussed Steelers wideout Diontae Johnson in the third quarter.

Before Garrett can be reinstated, he has to first meet with the commissioner’s office in New York. In addition to not being paid for the games he will miss, he was also fined an additional undisclosed amount.

In a statement, the NFL said that further discipline to players “will be forthcoming through the standard accountability process, including those players that left the bench to enter the fight area.”

The suspensions can be appealed within three business days.

The previous record suspension was five games in 2006 for the Tennessee Titans’ Albert Haynesworth after he stomped on the head of the Dallas Cowboys’ Andre Gurode and caused lacerations that required 30 stitches.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Browns S Burnett has torn Achilles

Report: Browns S Burnett has torn Achilles

Cleveland Browns

Report: Browns S Burnett has torn Achilles

Cleveland Browns safety Morgan Burnett likely has a torn Achilles, an injury that would knock out the veteran for the rest of the season, according to an NFL Network report.

Burnett came away with the injury in Thursday’s victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers and will undergo an MRI to confirm the diagnosis on Friday.

If lost for the year, it would be a significant blow to a Browns defense that is also expected to be without defensive end Myles Garrett for an extended period of time. A suspension is expected after Garrett struck Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph with his own helmet in the closing moments of Thursday’s game.

Burnett, 30, in his first season with the Browns, has 41 tackles, two sacks and an interception in eight games this season. His interception came in Thursday’s 21-7 victory.

The defense had recently helped the team recover from a four-game losing streak by giving up 23 total points in consecutive victories over the Buffalo Bills and Steelers.

Over his 10-year career, Burnett has 788 tackles, 9.5 sacks and 10 interceptions in 121 games (112 starts). He played eight seasons with the Green Bay Packers after he was a third-round draft pick in 2010 and played last season with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

–Field Level Media

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Lions QB Stafford out for second consecutive week

Lions QB Stafford out for second consecutive week

Detroit

Lions QB Stafford out for second consecutive week

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford will not play at home against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, the second consecutive week he will be out of action because of a back injury, head coach Matt Patricia said Thursday.

ESPN reported last week that scans of Stafford’s back showed fractured bones. The injury also kept him out of last week’s 20-13 loss to the Chicago Bears, an absence that cost him his 136-game starting streak.

Stafford has not practiced this week as he works through his medical program.

Patricia has classified Stafford as week-to-week, with no word that his availability for the remainder of the season is in jeopardy.

“That’s not my thinking at the moment,” Stafford said last week about stepping aside for the remainder of the season. “My thinking is to try and be out there as soon as I possibly can to help us win.”

Stafford has passed for 2,499 yards with 19 touchdowns and five interceptions this season as the team has gone 3-4-1 when he was on the field. The 31-year-old former No. 1 overall selection in the draft in 2009 has 41,025 passing yards over 11 seasons with 256 TDs and 134 interceptions.

–Field Level Media

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Eagles RB Sproles (hip flexor) out for season

Eagles RB Sproles (hip flexor) out for season

Eagles RB Sproles (hip flexor) out for season

Philadelphia Eagles running back Darren Sproles is out for the rest of the season as he recovers from a torn right hip flexor the team announced on Friday.

Sproles, 36, originally suffered the injury in a 31-6 win over the New York Jets on Oct. 6.

He missed the next three games, but returned and had three offensive touches in a 22-14 win over the Chicago Bears on Nov. 3. Sproles didn’t report any problems after that game and returned to practice the following week, but reported the injury after Wednesday’s session.

Sproles finishes the season with 17 carries for 66 yards and six receptions for 24 yards in six games this season.

Playing in his 15th season, Sproles is now fifth all-time in career all-purpose yards with 19,696.

–Field Level Media

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Agent of Steelers QB Rudolph not ruling out legal options

Agent of Steelers QB Rudolph not ruling out legal options

Agent of Steelers QB Rudolph not ruling out legal options

The agent for Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph has not ruled out involving the legal process against Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett after the melee that ensued toward the end of Thursday night’s game at Cleveland.

Garrett came away with Rudolph’s helmet during a skirmish following a short pass by the quarterback. In a scrum that included Steelers offensive lineman David DeCastro, Garrett proceeded to swing the headgear and hit Rudolph in the head.

Garrett was ejected in the closing moments of the game. The NFL is reviewing the incident for further punishment.

Rudolph’s agent did not rule out filing criminal charges, according to multiple reports.

“I am gathering all information and no options have been removed from the table,” agent Tim Younger said via text, according to ESPN.

Younger first took to Twitter late Thursday night to let his feelings be known about the incident.

“There are many risks an NFL QB assumes every snap taken on the field,” Younger wrote. “Being hit on your uncovered head by a helmet being swung by a 275-pound DE is not one of them. Tonight could have had a catastrophic ending. The matter will be reviewed thoroughly.”

Rudolph called the incident both “cowardly” and “bush league.” Garrett expressed regret for his actions.

“What I did was foolish, and I shouldn’t allow myself to slip like that,” Garrett said after Thursday’s game. “That’s out of character, but a situation like that where it’s an emotional game, and I allowed myself to fall into those emotions with what happened.”

The most serious punishment for an on-field incident in NFL history was a five-game suspension in 2006 for the Tennessee Titans’ Albert Haynesworth after he stomped on the head of the Dallas Cowboys’ Andre Gurode and caused lacerations that required 30 stitches. Gurode did not press criminal charges or file a criminal lawsuit.

–Field Level Media

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Browns’ win over Steelers ends with ugly brawl

Browns' win over Steelers ends with ugly brawl

Browns’ win over Steelers ends with ugly brawl

Baker Mayfield threw for two touchdowns, and the Cleveland defense beat down and beat up the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday night, resulting in a 21-7 win for the Browns.

The result was marred by a huge brawl with eight seconds left that resulted in the ejections of three players. Cleveland’s Myles Garrett and Larry Ogunjobi, along with Pittsburgh’s Maurkice Pouncey, were booted.

Garrett could be facing a long suspension after he ripped quarterback Mason Rudolph’s helmet off and then hit him in the head with it. Pouncey punched and kicked Garrett in response.

Mayfield completed 17 of 32 passes for 193 yards and added a touchdown run while playing his second straight turnover-free game after committing 13 giveaways in the first eight games.

Linebacker Joe Schobert starred for the Browns’ defense with 10 tackles, a sack and two interceptions. The last pick set up Mayfield’s game-sealing, 8-yard touchdown toss to Stephen Carlson with 5:25 left.

Pittsburgh (5-5) saw its four-game winning streak end as Rudolph endured a rough game. Rudolph hit on just 23 of 44 passes for 221 yards with a touchdown and four interceptions.

The Steelers lost leading rusher James Conner (shoulder) and top receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (concussion) in the first half. That was part of a physical, chippy game in which Cleveland (4-6) was penalized eight times for 121 yards.

Browns safety Damarious Randall was ejected in the third quarter for a helmet-to-helmet hit on rookie wideout Diontae Johnson. It was the first of four penalties on an 87-yard drive that Pittsburgh capped with a 3-yard touchdown pass from Rudolph to Jaylen Samuels at the 5:39 mark, cutting Cleveland’s lead to 14-7.

The Browns set an immediate tone by forcing a three-and-out to start the game, then going 65 yards on just five plays. Mayfield found Odell Beckham for 42 yards to the 1, then snuck the final yard for a 7-0 advantage before the game was four minutes old.

Cleveland upped the lead to 14-0 on Mayfield’s 1-yard scoring strike to Jarvis Landry with 9:55 left in the second quarter.

Nick Chubb rushed 27 times for 92 yards for Cleveland, becoming the first player to go over the 1,000-yard mark on the ground this year.

–Field Level Media

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Browns’ Garrett ejected for swinging helmet at Steelers QB

Browns' Garrett ejected for swinging helmet at Steelers QB

Browns’ Garrett ejected for swinging helmet at Steelers QB

Cleveland defensive end Myles Garrett was one of three players ejected after a instigating an ugly brawl with the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers with eight seconds remaining in the Browns’ Thursday night win.

Scrapping with Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph after a play, Garrett pulled Rudolph’s helmet off by the facemask and — while being restrained by Steelers offensive linemen David DeCastro and Matt Feiler — swung it deliberately and made contact with the top of Rudolph’s head.

Rudolph did not initially fall from the hit by the helmet, as he turned to officials with his hands raised, but Browns defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi charged at him from behind and shoved him to the ground.

Meanwhile, DeCastro tackled Garrett, and Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey jumped on the pile and threw several punches at Garrett before kicking at him once and throwing more punches.

After conferring with replay officials in New York, referee Clete Blakeman ejected Garrett, Ogunjobi and Pouncey. That made four ejections in the game, after Browns safety Damarious Randall was disqualified following a helmet-to-helmet hit that concussed Steelers wideout Diontae Johnson in the third quarter.

The late fracas began as Rudolph flipped a screen pass and was wrapped up by Garrett, who did not let go and slowly dragged Rudolph to the ground as the quarterback resisted. Once on the ground, Rudolph grabbed at Garrett’s facemask and helmet, and the two continued to scrap as DeCastro pulled Garrett off and Feiler tried to separate the two.

But Garrett grabbed Rudolph’s facemask, pulled the quarterback off the ground by the facemask and then yanked it once more to pull the helmet off. Rudolph got up and chased after Garrett, which is when the defensive end swung the helmet.

Rudolph, who was concussed and knocked unconscious by a helmet-to-helmet hit earlier this year, also took an inadvertent shot to the back of the head from Feiler, who was walking to confront Ogunjobi as Rudolph was getting up from Ogunjobi’s hit. Rudolph remained in the game to run one more play.

Cleveland coach Freddie Kitchens said postgame of Garrett, “He understands what he did. He understands what he did is totally unacceptable.”

DeCastro said, according to ESPN, “The (NFL) has to make a statement,” while Steelers defensive end Cam Heyward said of Rudolph, “The dude was defenseless.”

Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield gave his perspective from the bench in a postgame interview with Fox.

“I didn’t see why it started, but it’s inexcusable,” he said. “I don’t care, rivalry or not, we can’t do that. … That’s just endangering the other team. That’s inexcusable. (Garrett) knows that.

“The reality of it, he’s going to get suspended, and that’s going to hurt our team. We don’t know how long, but that hurts our team.”

The Browns won 21-7, beating the Steelers for the first time since October 2014. They had lost seven of the previous eight meetings, with the teams playing to a tie in the 2018 season opener at Cleveland.

–Field Level Media

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Steelers’ Smith-Schuster, Conner leave with injuries

Steelers' Smith-Schuster, Conner leave with injuries

Steelers’ Smith-Schuster, Conner leave with injuries

The Pittsburgh Steelers lost Pro Bowlers JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Conner to first-half injuries on Thursday night against the Browns in Cleveland.

Both players were ruled out by the team. Conner aggravated his right shoulder injury, which kept him out of the last two games, on the final play of the first quarter.

Smith-Schuster sustained a concussion midway through the second quarter as he was sandwiched by a trio of Browns defenders, with safety Morgan Burnett’s facemask colliding with Smith-Schuster’s helmet. The hit, which came a step or so after Smith-Schuster caught the ball, was not penalized.

Burnett later left the game with what multiple media outlets reported was a possibly serious Achilles injury.

Conner had five carries for 10 yards and one reception for 6 yards, while Smith-Schuster made two grabs for 21 yards before departing. Both made their first career Pro Bowl appearances in 2018.

The Steelers also lost cornerback Artie Burns (knee), linebacker Ola Adeniyi (concussion) and rookie wideout Diontae Johnson (concussion) to injuries.

Johnson was hurt on a hit in the third quarter by Browns safety Damarious Randall that drew an ejection.

A throw down the sideline went through Johnson’s hands, and Randall arrived a beat late, with his helmet colliding squarely with Johnson’s helmet. Randall was given a 15-yard penalty on the field and then ejected upon review.

Johnson appeared to be in serious pain and then was helped off with significant assistance, with blood dripping from his right ear.

–Field Level Media

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Chiefs regroup vs. Chargers in Mexico City

Chiefs regroup vs. Chargers in Mexico City

The return of the

Chiefs regroup vs. Chargers in Mexico City

The return of the NFL’s reigning Most Valuable Player coincided with a drop in performance among Kansas City Chiefs defenders.

In the two-plus games quarterback Patrick Mahomes missed with a dislocated kneecap, the Chiefs stopped the run effectively and did not give up a 100-yard performance. Their defense held its own.

When Mahomes returned last week, the defense contributed to a total team collapse. The unexpected letdown tightened the AFC West chase as Kansas City (6-4) meets a division rival, the Los Angeles Chargers (4-6), on Monday night at Mexico City.

“You can’t change what happened,” Chiefs safety Daniel Sorensen said. “What you can do is focus on fixing and improving as we go down this last stretch.”

The closing run is tighter than most predicted. The Chiefs are tied in the loss column with the Oakland Raiders (5-4) atop the AFC West, and the Chargers can tighten things even more by beating Kansas City on a neutral field in prime time.

“We’re in a battle now,” Mahomes said.

The matchup is a second crack for Kansas City to play in Mexico City after field conditions last year at Estadio Azteca prompted a scheduled appearance against the Rams to be moved to Los Angeles.

“I was hopeful that we would have a chance to go to Mexico City,” said Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt, noting that the league assured his staff that the turf is much improved. “All of the international games are very important for the league, and they are also important for the Chiefs from a branding standpoint. I frankly did not expect that we would be (scheduled again for) Mexico City so fast.”

Kansas City is designated as the visitor, leaving the Chiefs with three home games, one each against division rivals, and road tests at New England and Chicago. The Chiefs’ strength of schedule currently ranks fifth.

Expect the Chargers to try to establish a balanced attack. Melvin Gordon, coming off a 108-yard performance in a loss to the Raiders, will try to exploit a Chiefs run defense that ranks 31st.

Kansas City allowed 188 yards last week to Derrick Henry, who led a Tennessee rally that capitalized on two botched field goals.

In preparation for the 7,200-foot altitude in Mexico City, the Chargers are practicing in Colorado Springs, Colo. (at 6,035 feet), which prompted some players to complain about the arrangements on Twitter.

“I’ve felt the effect, so I wanted my players to come and practice in it for a week,” said Chargers coach Anthony Lynn, referencing his playing days in Denver.

Defensive end Joey Bosa, with 12 tackles for loss, leads a Los Angeles defense that will attempt to keep Mahomes from spotting his electric receivers.

The Chargers face a battered Kansas City line that continues to hope for the return of left tackle Eric Fisher and right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, both of whom practiced in full on Thursday. Right tackle Mitchell Schwartz has a tender knee but practiced on a limited basis.

Defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah underwent surgery for a pectoral tear. Another defensive end, Alex Okafor, continues to be slowed by an ankle injury.

The Chargers are hopeful the extra day of preparation can help left tackle Russell Okung rebound from a groin strain suffered in last Sunday’s loss at Oakland, but he was absent at Thursday’s practice, along with right tackle Sam Tevi.

–Field Level Media

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NFL notebook: Ex-coaches will lead Kaepernick’s workout

NFL notebook: Ex-coaches will lead Kaepernick's workout

Colin

NFL notebook: Ex-coaches will lead Kaepernick’s workout

Colin Kaepernick’s open workout for all 32 teams in Atlanta on Saturday will be led by former Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson, with former Miami Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin also participating, the NFL announced in a statement Thursday.

Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who began kneeling on the sideline during the national anthem to bring attention to social injustice, has not played since the 2016 season.

The NFL scheduled a workout for Kaepernick at the Atlanta Falcons’ practice facility. The league announced that 11 teams — Arizona, Atlanta, Cleveland, Denver, Detroit, Miami, New England, New York Giants, New York Jets, Tampa Bay and Washington — have confirmed they will attend in some capacity, with more expected to commit.

–The Cleveland Browns waived wide receiver Antonio Callaway, four days after he was benched, and shortly before NFL Network reported he is facing a 10-game suspension.

Callaway was a late scratch for the Browns’ 19-16 home victory over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday for what multiple outlets reported was a late arrival to the game. His replacement, Rashard Higgins, caught the game-winning touchdown pass in the fourth quarter.

Not long after Callaway’s release Thursday, NFL Network reported the wideout is appealing a 10-game suspension for what would be his second violation of the league’s substance-abuse policy.

–Kansas City Chiefs left tackle Eric Fisher practiced in full for the first time since having sports hernia surgery following Week 2.

Fisher was initially given a four- to six-week timetable for a return. He returned for two limited practices leading up to Week 8 but then went back to missing practice until this week.

Fisher, 28, was a Pro Bowler in 2018 and had played in 87 consecutive games prior to leaving the Chiefs’ Week 2 win at Oakland after just four snaps.

–Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford did not practice for the second straight day, increasing doubt about his availability for the Lions’ Sunday game against the Dallas Cowboys. Stafford sat out last week with a back injury as Detroit fell to the Chicago Bears.

–Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery did not practice for the second straight day. Coach Doug Pederson told reporters on Wednesday that Jeffery was considered day-to-day with a calf injury ahead of the Eagles’ Sunday game against the New England Patriots.

–New England quarterback Tom Brady, 42, had initially said in recent years that he envisioned himself playing in the NFL until he’s 45. However, Brady’s personal trainer, Alex Guerrero, thinks the three-time NFL Most Valuable Player can go until he is 46 or 47.

–Broncos cornerback Bryce Callahan is likely to land on injured reserve due to a foot injury, coach Vic Fangio said. After signing a three-year, $21 million with Denver in the offseason, Callahan has yet to appear in a game this season due to the foot issue.

–New York Giants rookie quarterback Daniel Jones is looking to trademark his “Danny Dimes” nickname, according to ESPN. Jones’ application reportedly covers everything from apparel and toys to video games, helmets, trading cards and bumper stickers.

–Architectural renderings revealed show a number of proposed changes for the New Orleans Superdome as part of a $450 million renovation, including the addition of standing-room only viewing areas.

–The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the first NFL team to establish a college scholarship program for female high school football players. A $250,000 commitment from the team’s foundation was announced and is open to all female seniors nationwide who participate in a formally sanctioned flag or tackle football program.

–Field Level Media

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Giants QB Jones seeks ‘Danny Dimes’ trademark

Giants QB Jones seeks 'Danny Dimes' trademark

New York Giants rookie quarterback Daniel

Giants QB Jones seeks ‘Danny Dimes’ trademark

New York Giants rookie quarterback Daniel Jones is looking to trademark his “Danny Dimes” nickname, ESPN said Thursday.

Jones’ agents at CAA said they filed the paperwork last month due to the demand for “Danny Dimes” merchandise and to protect Jones moving forward.

Two other trademark applications were recorded soon after Jones replaced Eli Manning as the starting quarterback in mid-September. One was filed by John Messina, believed to be the nickname’s creator.

Jones’ application covers everything from apparel and toys to video games, helmets, trading cards and bumper stickers, per ESPN.

Jones originally gave a lukewarm endorsement to the “Danny Dimes” moniker.

“Yeah, I’ve heard it a little bit more recently,” he told ESPN in September. “I don’t know. It’s all right, I guess. There could be worse nicknames.”

Jones, 22, was the No. 6 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft out of Duke. Through nine games (eight starts), he has completed 63.0 percent of his passes for 1,984 yards with 15 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

Jones and the Giants (2-8) have lost six straight entering this week’s bye. They return to action Nov. 24 at the Chicago Bears (4-5).

–Field Level Media

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Chiefs LT Fisher practices for first time since Week 2

Chiefs LT Fisher practices for first time since Week 2

Chiefs LT Fisher practices for first time since Week 2

Kansas City Chiefs left tackle Eric Fisher practiced in full on Thursday for the first time since having sports hernia surgery following Week 2.

Fisher was initially given a 4- to 6-week timetable for a return. He returned for two limited practices leading up to Week 8 but then went back to missing practice until this week.

Fisher, 28, was a Pro Bowler in 2018 and had played in 87 consecutive games prior to leaving Week 2’s win at Oakland after just four snaps.

In 16 starts in 2018, he allowed 4.5 sacks and committed five penalties. Replacement Cameron Erving — who has started the last eight games at left tackle — has allowed 4.5 sacks and committed four penalties this season.

The Chiefs’ offensive line could potentially be whole again for Monday night’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers in Mexico City.

In addition to Fisher, right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (ankle) returned to a full practice after missing Weeks 9 and 10.

Right tackle Mitchell Schwartz (knee) was limited Thursday. He left Sunday’s game in Tennessee — halting a streak of 7,894 snaps, the longest active streak in the NFL at the time — but later returned to finish it.

The Chiefs lost backup Martinas Rankin, who has started five games as a fill-in this year, for the year due to a knee injury on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Chargers have less positive news regarding injuries up front. Left tackle Russell Okung, who exited Week 10’s loss in Oakland on Nov. 7 with a groin injury, sat out Thursday’s practice. Sam Tevi also sat out with a knee injury, which kept him out of Week 10.

Los Angeles allowed five sacks and 10 hits of quarterback Philip Rivers in the loss to the Raiders.

–Field Level Media

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Browns waive WR Callaway amid suspension report

Browns waive WR Callaway amid suspension report

The Cleveland

Browns waive WR Callaway amid suspension report

The Cleveland Browns waived wide receiver Antonio Callaway on Thursday, five days after he was benched, and shortly before NFL Network reported he is facing a 10-game suspension.

Callaway was a late scratch for the Browns’ 19-16 home victory over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, for what multiple outlets reported was a late arrival to the game. His replacement, Rashard Higgins, caught the game-winning touchdown pass in the fourth quarter.

Not long after Callaway’s release Thursday, NFL Network reported the wideout is appealing a 10-game suspension for what would be his second violation of the league’s substance-abuse policy.

Per the report, the pending suspension was “not the only reason” Callaway was waived, but “it is an important factor.” The report also said Callaway had an appeal hearing within the last week, with Callaway contending a “tainted CBD product” was involved.

Head coach Freddie Kitchens told reporters on a conference call Monday that Callaway’s benching would be only for one game. The coach added, “I don’t know if he got the message or not, but I’m not wavering.”

Callaway, 22, was a fourth-round pick in the draft last year, after the Browns traded up to get him. Most considered him a first-round talent, but legal issues and his dismissal from the team at Florida damaged his draft status.

In August of 2018, four months after he was drafted, Callaway was cited for marijuana possession and driving with a suspended license, charges that were dropped in February.

Callaway played in all 16 games as a rookie and totaled 43 catches for 586 yards and five touchdowns in 16 games (11 starts as a rookie). But he was suspended four games under the substance-abuse policy — stemming from the 2018 citation — to start this season.

In four games (two starts) since the suspension, he had only eight catches for 89 yards.

The Browns replaced Callaway on the 53-man roster with offensive lineman Drew Forbes, who was activated from injured reserve after sitting out all season thus far with a knee injury.

Forbes, a sixth-round rookie out of Southeast Missouri State, worked at several different positions during the preseason after playing offensive tackle in college.

–Field Level Media

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Browns waive WR Callaway, activate OL Forbes

Browns waive WR Callaway, activate OL Forbes

The Cleveland

Browns waive WR Callaway, activate OL Forbes

The Cleveland Browns waived wide receiver Antonio Callaway on Thursday, five days after he was benched for what multiple outlets reported was a late arrival to a home game against the Buffalo Bills.

Callaway sat out the 19-16 victory on Sunday, and his replacement, Rashard Higgins, caught the game-winning touchdown pass in the fourth quarter.

Head coach Freddie Kitchens told reporters on a conference call Monday that Callaway’s benching would be only for one game. The coach added, “I don’t know if he got the message or not, but I’m not wavering.”

Callaway, 22, was a fourth-round pick in the draft last year, after the Browns traded up to get him. Most considered him a first-round talent, but legal issues and his dismissal from the team at Florida damaged his draft status.

He totaled 43 catches for 586 yards and six touchdowns in 16 games (11 starts as a rookie) but had just eight catches for 89 yards in four games (two starts) this year, being limited by injuries.

The Browns replaced Callaway on the 53-man roster with offensive lineman Drew Forbes, who was activated from injured reserve after sitting out all season thus far with a knee injury.

Forbes, a sixth-round rookie out of Southeast Missouri State, worked at several different positions during the preseason after playing offensive tackle in college.

–Field Level Media

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Former coaches Jackson, Philbin to run Kaepernick workout

Former coaches Jackson, Philbin to run Kaepernick workout

Former coaches Jackson, Philbin to run Kaepernick workout

Colin Kaepernick’s open workout for all 32 teams in Atlanta on Saturday will be led by former Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson, with former Miami Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin also participating, the NFL announced in a statement Thursday.

Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who began kneeling on the sideline during the national anthem to bring attention to social injustice, has not played since the 2016 season.

The NFL scheduled a workout for Kaepernick at the Atlanta Falcons’ practice facility. The league announced that 11 teams — Arizona, Atlanta, Cleveland, Denver, Detroit, Miami, New England, New York Giants, New York Jets, Tampa Bay, and Washington — have confirmed they will attend in some capacity, with more expected to commit.

NFL Network reported teams have until Saturday to submit names of who is attending. Multiple outlets have reported the league will not provide Kaepernick with a list of names of those attending, despite the belief the NFL had agreed to do so.

A video of the workout, along with an interview, will be prepared and sent to every head coach and general manager in the league.

NFL Network reports the receivers at the workout will be provided by the National Football Scouting Service, which is putting on the event and runs the NFL Scouting Combine each year. The receivers are expected to be mostly players who were on teams during the preseason.

Kaepernick, 32, has played six seasons in the NFL and participated in six postseason games, including Super Bowl XLVII in 2013, when the 49ers lost 34-31 to the Baltimore Ravens. Kaepernick passed for 302 yards and one touchdown in that game.

The Nevada product, who was a second-round draft pick by the 49ers in 2011, has passed for 12,271 yards in his career with 72 TDs and 30 interceptions. He also rushed for 2,300 yards and 13 more TDs.

–Field Level Media

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Take 5: Pressure on Eagles in Super Bowl LII rematch

Take 5: Pressure on Eagles in Super Bowl LII rematch

Take 5: Pressure on Eagles in Super Bowl LII rematch

Sunday’s meeting between the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles — the first since the Eagles triumphed in Super Bowl LII — should look quite different from the offensive bonanza two Februaries ago.

Those teams combined for 74 points, one punt and 1,151 yards, the latter a record for any game in NFL history.

Neither offense is clicking at the same level this season, and neither has as dangerous of a set of weapons, which is likely a bigger problem for the Eagles.

1. Patriots’ D must focus on Ertz, Sanders

Without DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia’s offense lacks speed and vertical weapons. Alshon Jeffery got free for a few big plays downfield in the Super Bowl, but that’s not much of his repertoire any longer.

The Patriots will be comfortable playing one-on-one man coverage against almost all of the Eagles’ targets. That will allow Bill Belichick to put additional attention on tight end Zach Ertz and, to a lesser degree, running back Miles Sanders.

Ertz is the team’s best weapon, but he’s not a gamebreaker or vertical threat. Belichick could assign a cornerback to him — J.C. Jackson is the typical choice — and will certainly bracket Ertz with a safety at times, including the majority of third downs and high-leverage situations.

Sanders has created most of the Eagles’ explosive plays without Jackson. Belichick likes to handle running backs with blitz/peel calls — the edge defender rushes unless the back releases to his side — and could also use a “bullseye” technique to disrupt Sanders’ routes. If he’s healthy, Patrick Chung would be a great man-to-man match for Sanders, but Belichick could also use Devin McCourty.

It’s hard to imagine the Eagles’ passing game thriving given the Patriots’ resources, so the run game will be critical. New England’s run defense has been exploited of late, and Philadelphia has leaned more heavily on Jordan Howard.

2. Texans run defense in the spotlight

By cumulative statistics, the Houston Texans’ run defense is terrific, ranking third in rushing allowed per game (84.1). But the unit is less impressive by efficiency (4.14 yards per carry allowed, 13th in the NFL), and is trending down, with a 4.45 average allowed in six quarters since J.J. Watt sustained a season-ending torn pec.

There’s no greater test for a run defense than the Baltimore Ravens’ offense, which leads the league by a wide margin in total rushing (197.2 to runner-up San Francisco’s 161.8) and average (5.51 to Cleveland’s 5.23). With Lamar Jackson’s legs, the Ravens stress defenses in all kinds of ways, usually from heavier sets.

The Ravens often feature two or three tight ends and/or fullback Patrick Ricard, drawing more base defenses and slower defenders on the field. Recall in last year’s playoffs, the Chargers stopped Jackson with six- and seven-DB packages that put more speed on the field to corral him. But it’s hard to play those packages against three-TE sets.

Likewise, Baltimore uses tight ends (and Ricard) to change the point of attack and gap assignments. On any given play, a tight end or fullback could be a lead blocker, a kick-out man on counter, a “slice” or “sift” blocker on split zone, a decoy on an arc release or actually running a route, all from various alignments via formation and motion. That’s a lot of movement for a defense to process, even before deciphering whether Jackson is giving or keeping the ball.

3. Pass rush will decide Chiefs-Chargers on MNF

The Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers both have protection problems.

With left tackle Eric Fisher out, and others banged up across the line, life has been much tougher for Patrick Mahomes than in 2018. He’s mostly handled it fine, but he’ll now face the duo of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram.

The Chargers move both players around the formation, flipping sides or putting both on the same side with one — usually Ingram — over a guard. That’s a nightmare for most guards, especially backups or starters who have swapped sides due to injury, as the Chiefs have recently.

Meanwhile, the Chargers’ offensive tackle situation flat out cost them the Week 10 game in Oakland. After left tackle Russell Okung went down early — and with right tackle Sam Tevi already out — Los Angeles played Trent Scott (the Week 1-7 starter at LT) at right tackle and Trey Pipkins (a rookie from Sioux Falls) on Philip Rivers’ blind side. Scott was worse on the right side than he’d been on the left, and Pipkins was — as you’d expect — completely overmatched.

Making matters worse, the Chargers’ interior was the biggest concern entering the season, before Mike Pouncey’s injury. While Scott Quessenberry, a 2018 fifth-rounder, has been a pleasant surprise filling in at center, this group is marginal at best.

It will be interesting to see where the Chiefs play their best pass-rusher, Chris Jones. Normally an interior player, he’s spent significant time on the edge in recent weeks, and that could continue with end Emmanuel Ogbah out for the year. Jones moves very well for a 300-pounder and has the strength to collapse the pocket from anywhere.

4. Juicy matchup for Cowboys’ offense

The Dallas Cowboys have lost four of six games, averaging just 20 points in those defeats. But those results belie what is — on paper and on tape — one of the NFL’s best offenses.

Dak Prescott is playing comfortably the best football of his career, and his pass protection has been outstanding. Dallas has weapons at every position — including supplementary pieces in Michael Gallup and Blake Jarwin — and a sharp play designer in Kellen Moore. Despite inconsistent results on the scoreboard, Dallas ranks first in total offense (437.4), yards per play (6.65) and yards per attempt (8.42).

That should translate this week, as the Detroit Lions’ defense lacks threatening pass rushers and has not held up well enough in the man coverage that Matt Patricia prefers. With the group also declining in run defense (4.61 yards per carry allowed, 23rd), all signs point to a scoring explosion from the Cowboys.

5. Things look bleak for McVay, Rams’ offense

Conversely, the Los Angeles Rams’ offense is in dire straits, just in time for a rematch with the defense that undressed Sean McVay’s team on national television last December.

The Chicago Bears were the first to pair the 6-1 front with primarily Cover-4 against the Rams, who have since struggled to combat the approach against many other teams. Worse, L.A.’s running game has collapsed. The Steelers didn’t even need a 6-1 front to shut it down last week.

The biggest issue is not the 6-1/Cover-4 blueprint, but rather an offensive line in shambles. After all five O-linemen started all 32 games from 2017-18 — an exceedingly rare run of health — the Rams have lost left guard Joe Noteboom and Brian Allen for the season, and right tackle Rob Havenstein will miss time, too.

Noteboom and Allen — new starters replacing the departed Rodgers Saffold and John Sullivan — weren’t thriving to begin with and have now been replaced by inexperienced backups. Soon-to-be 38-year-old left tackle Andrew Whitworth is finally showing his age.

Chicago’s defense has regressed some — as expected — and remains without Akiem Hicks, but it’s still well suited to slow down L.A.

–By David DeChant (@DavidDeChant), Field Level Media

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