Titans have no regrets over 2-point conversion attempt

LONDON (AP) — The Tennessee Titans hated the outcome.

But they loved the call.

The decision by Titans coach Mike Vrabel to go for a go-ahead 2-point conversion against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday doomed Tennessee (3-4) to a third straight loss when Marcus Mariota’s pass to Taywan Taylor was tipped by safety Adrian Phillips in the end zone.

With the score 20-19 after Mariota threw a touchdown pass to Luke Stocker on fourth down with 31 seconds left, Vrabel had the option of playing it safe and heading for overtime by kicking an extra point. But there was no doubt in his players’ minds that he was right to go for the win.

“I love the call, everyone in this locker room loved the call,” wide receiver Tajae Sharpe said. “We wanted to be aggressive no matter what, and that’s what we did. Unfortunately it just didn’t go our way.”

Vrabel’s decision is likely to be second-guessed outside the Titans’ locker room, though, especially after the element of surprise disappeared when Tennessee’s first attempt at the 2-point conversion was negated by a defensive holding penalty.

The momentum was also in the Titans’ favor as they had rallied from an 11-point deficit in the second half and had largely managed to control the Chargers’ high-powered offense aside from two long touchdown passes by Philip Rivers.

Vrabel said playing with a banged-up offensive line after right guard Josh Kline limped off during the final drive was “a consideration” when making the call. Although he also said he had already made the decision before Kline’s injury.

“When that drive started I thought in my mind that if we scored, when we scored, and it was less than 40 seconds we were going to go for 2 and win the game,” Vrabel said.

“If it was a minute and 30 (seconds), we kick the extra point and we go and play defense. … I got a lot of faith in my players converting third downs and converting those situations. Marcus was doing everything we needed to do to keep the plans alive. So I’m not going to second-guess the call. It just didn’t work out.”

Mariota finished with 237 yards passing and one touchdown, but also regretted an interception thrown from the Chargers 10-yard line on a play that began with 39 seconds left in the first half. A touchdown would have put Tennesee ahead 13-10 at halftime, but they instead found themselves trailing 17-6 after Rivers hit Mike Williams on a 55-yard touchdown pass on the opening drive of the second half.

Rivers also threw a 75-yard score to Tyrell Williams on the Chargers’ first play from scrimmage as Los Angeles came up with the big plays that eluded Tennesee.

Like Sharpe, though, Mariota defended Vrabel’s decision to go for 2.

“I love that he has confidence in us to go make that. We just didn’t execute,” Mariota said. “I should’ve done a better job maybe extending the play, knowing it was the last play. There’s definitely more I wish I could’ve done. But that being said, they did a good job of covering it.”

___

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

Falcons WR Jones ‘trying to be out there’ Sunday

Falcons WR Jones 'trying to be out there' Sunday

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones did not

Falcons WR Jones ‘trying to be out there’ Sunday

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones did not play in the preseason and said he is “trying to be ready” to face the Minnesota Vikings in Week 1, but stopped short of saying he would be on the field in Minneapolis.

“As far as me, what I’m doing, I’m getting me ready to go,” Jones said. “There’s no if he will play, not going to play.”

Jones and the Falcons have been negotiating toward a new contract for months. Owner Arthur Blank said in March the team wanted a deal done before training camp. General manager Thomas Dimitroff set a goal of the start of the season — which is Sunday.

Jones, 30, on Thursday offered no updates. His approach this week is to answer the phone if his agent needs him. Jones said his agent will keep him posted on contract news, and talk to him only if he needs Jones’ input.

“When things have changed, he’ll come to me,” Jones said. “I’ve been at work. When I’m at work, I don’t be on my phone. When I be up here at 6:15, 6:45, I’m here.”

Dimitroff said the Falcons fully expect Jones to be the highest-paid receiver in the NFL when his contract is finalized. Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas signed for $100 million over five years, pushing the price tag for top pass catchers to an all-time high.

Multiple outlets reported Thursday a deal between Jones and the Falcons was imminent.

–Field Level Media

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Browns WR Beckham still hampered by hip injury

Browns WR Beckham still hampered by hip injury

Cleveland Browns

Browns WR Beckham still hampered by hip injury

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. said he plans to play Sunday despite an ongoing hip injury that prevents him from “opening up and sprinting.”

Beckham was not listed on Wednesday’s injury report for the season opener against the visiting Tennessee Titans. On Thursday, he updated reporters on the status of an ailment he has been dealing with for weeks. He did not play in the preseason.

“It’s like an extremely fast car with like a little alignment or something off,” he said. “And it’s right in the center of what you need. Now, the car can still go, but it’s dangerous, you know what I mean? So, it’s just something I’ve been trying to figure out, in and out of rehab every single day. Never really dealt with anything like that.”

Beckham, 26, missed 16 of 32 games during his last two seasons with the New York Giants. He played all 16 games only once (2016) in five years there.

The three-time Pro Bowl selection said the injury is getting better.

“It’s something that hopefully that keeps progressing and gets better and not worse,” he said.

“But it’s just something you have to deal with. We have a game Sunday, so it’s time to go. … I’ll be running as fast as I can run. If that’s not a hundred [percent], I feel confident in myself that wherever I’m at, I’ll be ready to play with wherever I’m at.”

–Field Level Media

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Koepka, Mickelson commit to Shriners event

Koepka, Mickelson commit to Shriners event

Brooks Koepka

Koepka, Mickelson commit to Shriners event

Brooks Koepka and Phil Mickelson committed to play in next month’s Shriners Hospital for Children Open at TPC Summerlin in Nevada.

Koepka, the world’s No. 1-ranked player, participated in the Las Vegas-area event four straight years from 2014-17. He was the runner-up in 2016.

Mickelson has competed in the tournament 12 times, but not since 2005. He placed second in 2000.

“Just awesome, and we are very excited to announce the addition of two championship golfers to the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open field, Brooks Koepka and Phil Mickelson,” tournament executive director Patrick Lindsey said Thursday. “Their commitments speak volumes to our hard work in attracting top-caliber players to Las Vegas’ only PGA Tour event.”

The tournament runs from Oct. 3-6.

— Field Level Media

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Mayfield: Browns WRs ‘licking their chops’

Mayfield: Browns WRs 'licking their chops'

Baker Mayfield and the

Mayfield: Browns WRs ‘licking their chops’

Baker Mayfield and the Browns are hungry to hit the field Sunday when the regular season begins with the Tennessee Titans in Cleveland.

The highly anticipated debut of Odell Beckham Jr. and the first Browns team in years to have serious playoff expectations has everyone itching for kickoff, and Mayfield said he senses it in his wide receiver corps.

“I have full confidence in all our playmakers, our skill position guys that if they have one-on-ones, they should be licking their chops and they should all take that as disrespect because that’s the type of team we have and we need to take advantage of,” Mayfield told The Plain Dealer. “It’s going to be a matchup game …

It’s going to look like a lot of matchups that we can take advantage of, a numbers game.”

Mayfield said not to make anything out of Beckham not logging many snaps in the preseason and missing parts of offseason workouts. He pointed out that he didn’t throw a single pass to Jarvis Landry last year until he unseated Tyrod Taylor as the Browns’ starting quarterback.

“I always pride myself on being an accurate guy, but [Beckham] is kind of a security blanket if I do make a mistake. Just knowing what he can do to affect the defense, it helps us as an offense as a whole but also just to know that I have that threat at all times is great,” Mayfield said.

The Browns are familiar with head coach Freddie Kitchens, who will work with offensive coordinator Todd Monken to build the game plan each week and keep Mayfield comfortable. He had 27 touchdown passes in 14 games in his rookie season in 2018 and now adds Beckham to the mix.

But Mayfield said he believes the Browns should enter Sunday’s game ignoring outside expectations and projections.

“Nobody has done anything yet, so I’d say everyone is starting the same — square one,” Mayfield said. “I’d say it’s pretty hard to live up to any hype if you’re listening to the outside. None of that really matters, so I think we’ve got a bunch of guys who have bought in to what’s going on in this building and the standards that we’re setting. So to us that’s all that matters.”

–Field Level Media

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Vikings WR Diggs returns to practice

Vikings WR Diggs returns to practice

Vikings WR Diggs returns to practice

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs returned to practice Thursday after he was out a day earlier.

Diggs missed Wednesday’s practice with a hamstring strain.

The Vikings are hopeful Diggs will be on the field for Sunday’s regular-season opener with the Atlanta Falcons in Minneapolis.

The 25-year-old caught 102 passes for 1,021 yards and nine touchdowns — all career highs — in 15 games last season.

–Field Level Media

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Brown ban shifts line, Raiders become dogs against Broncos

Brown ban shifts line, Raiders become dogs against Broncos

Brown ban shifts line, Raiders become dogs against Broncos

Antonio Brown is likely to be on the sideline Monday night when the Oakland Raiders open the regular season, and oddsmakers responded Thursday by shifting the game from a pick ’em to giving the Denver Broncos a two-point edge.

Denver is -2.5 against the Raiders at DraftKings and Fan Duel made the same move just hours after news of Brown’s looming suspension broke. According to multiple national reports, Brown and general manager Mike Mayock had a heated exchange Wednesday, hours after Brown took his beef to social media for being fined nearly $54,000.

Westgate Superbook brought the over-under down from 43.5 to 42.5. As of 3 p.m. ET, William Hill Sportsbooks held with the Broncos at -1.5.

The offensive side of the ball is in flux for Oakland without Brown as the No. 1 receiver, but the Raiders are accustomed to being in formation without him.

Rookie Josh Jacobs could get a heavier workload at running back, but Denver’s defense is viewed as a strength with Von Miller and Bradley Chubb on the edge and new head coach Vic Fangio at the controls.

–Field Level Media

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Prospect of Brown suspension shifts Raiders-Broncos line

Prospect of Brown suspension shifts Raiders-Broncos line

Prospect of Brown suspension shifts Raiders-Broncos line

Antonio Brown is likely to be on the sideline Monday night when the Oakland Raiders open the regular season, and oddsmakers responded Thursday by shifting the game from a pick ’em to giving the Denver Broncos a two-point edge.

Denver is -2 against the Raiders at DraftKings, and Caesars made the same move just hours after news of Brown’s looming suspension broke. According to multiple national reports, Brown and general manager Mike Mayock had a heated exchange Wednesday, hours after Brown took his beef to social media for being fined nearly $54,000.

The offensive side of the ball is in flux for Oakland without Brown as the No. 1 receiver, but the Raiders are accustomed to being in formation without him.

Rookie Josh Jacobs could get a heavier workload at running back, but Denver’s defense is viewed as a strength with Von Miller and Bradley Chubb on the edge and new head coach Vic Fangio at the controls.

–Field Level Media

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Take 5: Kyler, Kliff and the unknown of Week 1

Take 5: Kyler, Kliff and the unknown of Week 1

Take 5: Kyler, Kliff and the unknown of Week 1

Week 1 of the regular season is thrilling not only because football is back, but also because we finally learn more about the offseason’s great unknowns.

Chief among this year’s mysteries the Arizona Cardinals’ all-in bet on the Air Raid, Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray. The uncertainty of what to expect makes Sunday’s visit from the Detroit Lions fascinating, even if neither team is pegged as a major playoff contender.

1. Will the Air Raid fly out of the gates, or crash and burn?

Remember when Chip Kelly and Michael Vick eviscerated the Washington Redskins to open the 2013 season? Of course you do. Well, Kingsbury and Murray are hoping for an encore.

Kingsbury kept his powder dry during the preseason, eschewing the no-huddle, four-WR sets and packaged plays that define his offense. Most of his concepts aren’t new to the NFL, but he’ll present them in myriad ways through tempo, formations, motion and varied personnel. Murray’s quick release, precision and legs fit perfectly in the quick-timing scheme.

Matt Patricia has the unenviable job of game-planning for the unknown, preparing for ghosts that his defense may or may not see. A few tactics he will surely lean on: blitzes and, especially, stunts and twists.

Expect teams to blitz Murray relentlessly early on, to test both his mettle and the soundness of Kingsbury’s protections. With wide offensive-line splits and limited protection calls, the scheme is vulnerable to extra rushers and especially stunts, as penetrators can surge easily into adjacent gaps and clear the way for loopers.

As he did in New England, Patricia loves bringing stunts, usually from muddy fronts that show six or seven potential rushers but only bring four or five. Free agent prize Trey Flowers is a key part of these. The Cardinals must be ready with an answer.

2. Hill vs. Ramsey, Round 2

In Week 5 in Kansas City last year, Jalen Ramsey covered Tyreek Hill only occasionally, seeing five targets in the matchup. The first three were incomplete — two vs. man coverage, one vs. zone — but Hill got free late in the third quarter for a 10-yard hitch under Ramsey’s zone cushion and a 36-yard fade vs. man coverage.

Sunday’s matchup in Jacksonville should be juicier, as Jaguars defensive coordinator Todd Wash said Ramsey will shadow Hill.

“Our linebackers can run,” Wash said. “All of our guys can run. We can just say, ‘Hey, Jalen, you go take care of him.'”

That suggests the Jaguars will play mostly man coverage rather than Wash’s typical Cover-3 (and sometimes Cover-4). How often will he put Ramsey on an island with no safety help?

Ramsey can win a fair fight, but Andy Reid rarely settles for fair fights. He’ll have Hill whirring in presnap and jet motion throughout the game, forcing Ramsey to chase across the formation and limiting opportunities to press. It should make for a terrific back-and-forth battle.

3. Can McVay shred the blueprint?

Defenses finally caught up to the Rams’ offense late last season, culminating in a 3-point output in Super Bowl LIII, using a few consistent tactics: condensed fronts along the D-line and Cover-4 (also called quarters) on the back end.

The Bears and Patriots were particularly effective, using 6-1 fronts — six men on the line of scrimmage, one off-ball linebacker — to disrupt L.A.’s zone running game, and Cover-4 to squelch deep play-action designs.

The Panthers are suited to use similar tactics on Sunday in Charlotte. Luke Kuechly’s smarts and range fit perfectly as the lone ‘backer in a 6-1 front, and cornerbacks James Bradberry and Donte Jackson are well-versed in off-zone.

Sean McVay had the whole offseason to adapt and draw up counterpunches, so he’ll surely have some answers. More diversity in the run game (gap-scheme runs with pull-blockers instead of pure zone) could solve the 6-1 front problem, assuming McVay trusts first-time starters Joe Noteboom (left guard) and Brian Allen (center).

4. How much will Seattle cater to Clowney?

Jadeveon Clowney is a devastating talent, but the Texans deployed him in a unique role. That’s not to say he can’t slot in as an immediate star for the Seahawks, but it’s unclear how similarly Seattle will use him.

While tremendously gifted, Clowney has never been a pure edge-bender who threatens offensive tackles outside (partly why he’s never reached 10 sacks in a season). He more often goes through or inside offensive tackles, or better yet, guards and centers. The Texans weaponized Clowney by matching him one-on-one with interior linemen, often out of five-man fronts and usually from a stand-up, roving position.

Attacking the interior would be wise Sunday against the visiting Bengals, who are weak at guard after injuries and Clint Boling’s retirement. With defensive tackle Jarran Reed suspended, the Seahawks have more room to bump Clowney inside, but it’s unclear if they’ll want him standing up and roving like he did in Houston.

Either way, Clowney should thrive from Day 1 against the run, where he uses physicality and relentlessness to blow up runs on the front side and chase down ball carriers from the back side.

5. What can Tunsil do for O’Brien?

Bill O’Brien wanted Laremy Tunsil so desperately that he paid more than the Bears did for Khalil Mack or the Browns did for Odell Beckham Jr. While the Texans obviously needed better protection on the edge, this was a drastic measure.

Was O’Brien thinking solely of keeping Deshaun Watson healthy at all costs? Does he have broader plans — more deep dropbacks or fewer 6- and 7-man protections — in mind with the blind side fortified? Does he trust the rest of the offensive line?

O’Brien preferred having five eligible receivers running routes in New England, but he hasn’t had that luxury in Houston. Tunsil doesn’t necessarily solve that problem, though. While he should be able to handle Saints second-year end Marcus Davenport in New Orleans on Monday, right tackle Seantrel Henderson will need help against All-Pro Cameron Jordan.

The onus is also on Watson to manage the pocket properly. While the line was indeed poor in 2018, he often sensed pressure that wasn’t there, bailing on an adequate pocket and creating actual pressure in the process. His tendency to hold the ball also accounted for several sacks.

A better feel in the pocket and quicker distribution will be key on Monday and throughout 2019.

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

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Redskins sign LB Spence, place Rodgers-Cromartie on IR

Redskins sign LB Spence, place Rodgers-Cromartie on IR

Redskins sign LB Spence, place Rodgers-Cromartie on IR

The Washington Redskins have signed free agent outside linebacker Noah Spence and placed cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie on injured reserve, the team announced Wednesday.

Rodgers-Cromartie, who has seven tackles and no interceptions in two games this season, suffered a leg injury on Sunday during the Redskins’ 31-21- loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

Ten players are now on the team’s IR list, and are eligible to start practicing after six weeks and play after eight weeks. However, only two players are eligible to come off injured reserve during a team’s season.

Spence, a second-round pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2016 NFL Draft, joins a team in need of a pass rush after recording only two sacks in two games, the second-fewest total in the league.

Spence, 25, made 5 1/2 sacks in his rookie season, playing in all 16 regular-season games with three starts.

Last year, he played in 12 games but made only three tackles.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Savage expected to join Jets’ scouting staff

Report: Savage expected to join Jets' scouting staff

Report: Savage expected to join Jets’ scouting staff

Former Senior Bowl director and Cleveland Browns general manager Phil Savage is expected to join the New York Jets’ personnel department under new general manager Joe Douglas, NFL Network reported Tuesday.

Per the report, Savage’s role is not yet fully defined, but an announcement “should come this week,” absent a setback. NFL Network also reports Ravens assistant director of pro personnel Chad Alexander will join the Jets as director of player personnel.

ESPN reports the Jets are hiring Indianapolis Colts vice president of player personnel Rex Hogan as assistant general manager, after Hogan served as New York’s senior director of college scouting from 2015-2017.

Savage, 54, worked with Douglas when both were with the Baltimore Ravens, Savage as director of college scouting (1996-2002) and then director of player personnel (2003-04) and Douglas as a scout (2000-2014). Alexander knows both men well, having worked for the Ravens since 1999.

Both Savage and Douglas also spent time with the Philadelphia Eagles, though they did not cross paths (Savage from 2010-12 and Douglas from 2016-19).

Savage served as the Browns’ GM from 2005-08, helping the team to its only 10-win season since 1994 when they went 10-6 in 2007.

He became the executive director of the Senior Bowl — the annual showcase of top senior college prospects in Mobile, Ala. — in 2012 and ran the event for six years before stepping down in May 2018.

The Jets previously missed out on other reported targets for Douglas’ staff. ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay pulled his name out of consideration, while the Eagles promoted Andy Weidl — to VP of player personnel, Douglas’ old job — and Ian Cunningham (to assistant director of player personnel) to prevent them from following Douglas to New York.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Falcons expect Jones extension before camp

Report: Falcons expect Jones extension before camp

The Atlanta Falcons are "confident" they will re-sign wide receiver

Report: Falcons expect Jones extension before camp

The Atlanta Falcons are “confident” they will re-sign wide receiver Julio Jones to a new long-term extension before training camp begins next month, ESPN reported Tuesday.

The team reports for camp on July 22.

Jones has two years remaining on his deal, which owes him $9.6 million in 2019 and $11.4 million in 2020. He signed a contract adjustment as training camp opened last July — giving him $4.4 million, including $2.9 million from his 2019 salary, up front — and the team reportedly promised to do a full extension this offseason. That came after Jones missed the Falcons’ entire offseason program and threatened to hold out into training camp.

The 30-year-old again missed voluntary workouts this summer, but he showed for mandatory minicamp. He told reporters in April he isn’t concerned with being the NFL’s highest-paid wide receiver.

Bleacher Report reported in late March the Falcons and Jones were closing in on a four- or five-year deal averaging $20 million annually, but nothing has developed since.

In his eighth season, Jones is coming off of his sixth Pro Bowl selection — fifth in a row — after catching 113 passes for a league-high 1,677 yards and eight touchdowns last season. He remains the NFL’s all-time leader in career receiving yards per game (96.7).

–Field Level Media

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Browns’ Beckham, Swedish watchmaker enter partnership

Browns’ Beckham, Swedish watchmaker enter partnership

Browns’ Beckham, Swedish watchmaker enter partnership

Time apparently is on Odell Beckham Jr.’s side in the watch-what-happens-next saga.

The Cleveland Browns wide receiver announced a partnership with Swedish watchmaker Daniel Wellington on Wednesday.

The company posted a video of Beckham on Twitter on Wednesday as part of the announcement, tweeting, “We’re thrilled to announced that @obj is joining #DanielWellington as one of our new Icons. #OdellBeckhamJr.”

“There’s always a method to the madness,” Beckham told reporters after Wednesday’s practice. “The partnership with Daniel Wellington, I’m very happy to do that.

“But again, I’m just off of the watch topic. I’m going to leave it alone from now on. I’m strictly on football. Now you know, Daniel Wellington. That’s just the bottom line. I’m off it. I’m not talking about watches anymore. I’m done.”

Before Monday night’s game against the New York Jets, ESPN cameras caught Beckham wearing a white and transparent watch at MetLife Stadium while warming up. Many said the timepiece looked just like the Richard Mille RM 56-02 Tourbillon Sapphire, one of 10 in the world that are valued at more than $2 million each.

Richard Mille spokesperson Laura Hughes said Monday the company was unsure if the watch was theirs. On its website, the prices of Daniel Wellington watches are listed between $139 and $229.

After the game, which the Browns won 23-3 and included an 89-yard catch-and-run touchdown by the watch-wearing entrepreneur, Beckham said, “I think Daniel Wellington might be a better watch than these, a little classier, not as flashy as this one. I’m just blessed.”

–Field Level Media

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Steelers acquire DB Fitzpatrick from Dolphins for draft picks

Steelers acquire DB Fitzpatrick from Dolphins for draft picks

Minkah Fitzpatrick got

Steelers acquire DB Fitzpatrick from Dolphins for draft picks

Minkah Fitzpatrick got his wish, and the Miami Dolphins landed another first-round pick in a trade with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Tuesday.

Fitzpatrick was traded to the Steelers for a 2020 first-round pick, a 2020 fifth-round pick and a 2021 sixth-round pick . As part of the return, the Steelers also will get the Dolphins’ 2020 fourth-round pick and a 2021 seventh-round pick.

The 0-2 Dolphins have traded multiple starters for draft selections since breaking training camp and appear to be full steam ahead on a rebuild under first-year general manager Chris Grier and first-time head coach Brian Flores.

“We are very excited to add Minkah to our defense,” Steelers general manager and vice president Kevin Colbert said in a statement. “We had him rated very high during the 2018 NFL draft process and we thought that he could be an impact player in this league.”

Fitzpatrick, 22, requested a trade because his role changed week to week under Flores, including playing strong safety. Fitzpatrick was critical of the team’s plan to play him as an in-the-box defender instead of in coverage.

The Steelers will have Fitzpatrick under contract for the rest of this season and three more, should they choose, and at below-market rates for a highly regarded defensive back. Fitzpatrick has salaries of $1.9 million in 2020, $2.7 million in 2021 and a fifth-year option in 2022.

Miami is setting itself up to be a major player in upcoming drafts. The Dolphins have three first-round picks and two second-rounders in 2020. They also have two first-rounders and two second-rounders in 2021.

–Field Level Media

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Giants bench Eli, name rookie Jones as starting QB

Giants bench Eli, name rookie Jones as starting QB

Giants bench Eli, name rookie Jones as starting QB

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

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

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

Manning, 38, won two Super Bowls with the Giants and was the top overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft. The Giants acquired Manning from the Chargers on draft day for Philip Rivers. Of the last 245 games the Giants have played with Manning, including 12 in the playoffs, Manning has started 244 times.

Shurmur planted the seed for a change on Monday, when he said all positions were going to be reviewed.

The Giants lost at home to Buffalo on Sunday after dropping the opener to the Dallas Cowboys.

Manning completed 56 of 89 passes for 556 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions through two games.

Jones, 22, was selected with the sixth overall pick in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft. He sparkled in the preseason, setting up a potential in-season conflict with Manning. Jones was 29-for-34 passing for 416 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions over four preseason games.

“Ultimately, this is a move that I felt was best for this team at this time,” Shurmur said. “I have said it since I got here, I am very fond of Eli. His work ethic, his preparation, his football intelligence. All those attributes are as good as I have ever seen in a player. And Eli worked as hard as you could ask of anybody to get ready for this season. This move is more about Daniel moving forward than about Eli.”

Jones will pair with 2018 first-round pick Saquon Barkley in the backfield on Sunday, bringing the projected future core of the team to the present.

Barkley did not directly discuss the quarterback situation on Monday but said the team needed to get “back to playing Giants football.”

Manning said Sunday he was disappointed the team was 0-2 and took his share of the blame for not getting the job done despite the offense averaging 420 yards per game. The Giants have only four touchdowns this season.

“When you’re 0-2, there’s pressure on everybody. You can’t have that affect you. I’ve got to make better throws, better plays, find ways to convert on third downs. That’s the quarterback’s job,” Manning said Sunday.

Jones could be tasked with moving the ball against the Buccaneers without several top receivers. Golden Tate has two games remaining on his season-opening suspension, Sterling Shepard (concussion protocol) was out last week and Cody Latimer left the loss to the Bills with a concussion.

–Field Level Media

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Garrett: ‘Too soon’ to determine Elliott snap count

Garrett: 'Too soon' to determine Elliott snap count

Ezekiel Elliott might

Garrett: ‘Too soon’ to determine Elliott snap count

Ezekiel Elliott might not be on a snap count Sunday against the New York Giants after all.

According to head coach Jason Garrett, the Dallas Cowboys will wait at least another day before deciding whether Elliott should be limited in Week 1 after missing five weeks of preseason work during a contract holdout.

Elliott reported to the team Wednesday, signed a $90 million contract and was in meetings from sunrise to sunset to get up to speed on some of the essentials of the team’s game plan for the Giants. He was officially limited in practice, but Garrett said that was by design.

“You just want to have a plan and you recognize where he’s been,” Garrett said. “There’s no question he’s been working out, he’s in good shape, his weight’s good, all of that. But again he hasn’t been practicing against pro football players so you just work your way back into it. He’s an experienced guy. He’s played a lot of football for us, so we just use our best judgement based on what we see, his feedback, what he says to us — how he feels — all of that. You just take it step by step.”

Garrett said Thursday that the next two days will be about nudging Elliott forward and “just seeing what he can handle.”

Elliott said on Wednesday he’s determined to prove his worth as the highest-paid running back in the NFL. Rookie Tony Pollard, who worked all summer with the first-team offense, could still play a major role against the Giants, Garrett said.

–Field Level Media

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Watson leads Texans into matchup with Brees, Saints

Watson leads Texans into matchup with Brees, Saints

Only five players

Watson leads Texans into matchup with Brees, Saints

Only five players on the New Orleans Saints roster have won a season opener while with the team.

The Houston Texans have added more players than that (six) to their roster just through trades since the weekend.

Two of the NFL playoff participants from a year ago meet in one of the marquee match-ups of the league’s opening weekend on Monday night in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

The Saints have won the NFC South the past two seasons and narrowly missed going to the Super Bowl last season in a controversial overtime loss to the Rams that featured a missed pass interference call on L.A. that led the NFL to alter its instant-replay rules.

But New Orleans has not been able to win its first game since 2013 when it won a home game against Atlanta 23-17 to trigger a 5-0 start. Tackle Terron Armstead was a rookie on that team.

“It’s definitely a focal point for us to start off fast,” Armstead said.

The Saints are pulling out all the stops to try to create a frenzied atmosphere in their indoor environs. They’ll go with all black jerseys — pants and socks included — in a monochromatic look never before worn by the franchise. Recent fortunes indicate the team is wise to seek an injection for Week 1.

Last season the Saints lost at home to Tampa Bay in the opener, then won their next 10 games on their way to a 13-3 regular-season finish.

In 2017, they started 0-2 then won their next eight games on their way to an 11-5 finish.

From 2014-16 they started 0-2, 0-3 and 0-3 on their way to three consecutive 7-9 finishes.

Even rookie second-round draft choice Erik McCoy, who earned a starting position in the preseason, is well aware of the losing streak even though he was in high school when it started.

“There has been a big emphasis on coming out strong just because in the past we have been very good in first games,” he said.

The Texans have been trying to get their newcomers up to speed for the opener.

“What we try to do is teach them the basics,” coach Bill O’Brien said. “Teach them what we call the basic information section of each playbook and also special teams, and then teach them the game plan. I think if you try to throw everything at them in one or two days and see what sticks, that’s not the right approach.”

The Texans traded away a marquee player when they sent star defensive end Jadeveon Clowney to Seattle for two players and a draft choice and they brought in a marquee player when they acquired left tackle Laremy Tunsil from Miami for three high draft picks.

Tunsil is expected to bolster the protection for Deshaun Watson, who was sacked an NFL-high 62 times last season.

“I feel really good about being able to get a proven left tackle to protect Deshaun Watson,” O’Brien said. “They’re hard to draft. They’re hard to develop.”

Another acquisition from the Dolphins was former Saints wide receiver Kenny Stills, who had 37 catches for 553 yards and six touchdowns last season.

“He can run all the routes on the outside,” O’Brien said. “He can play on the inside. He’s a versatile wide receiver who can do a lot of things. He’s got good hands. He’s a really good route runner, a really smooth route runner.”

–Field Level Media

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Dolphins sticking with QB Fitzpatrick over Rosen

Dolphins sticking with QB Fitzpatrick over Rosen

Staying the

Dolphins sticking with QB Fitzpatrick over Rosen

Staying the course despite scoring 10 points in eight quarters, the Miami Dolphins maintain support of Ryan Fitzpatrick as the starting quarterback.

First-year head coach Brian Flores opened the door to a potential change at the position on Monday but announced on Wednesday that he’ll ride with Fitzpatrick into Dallas for Week 3.

The Dolphins are 21-point underdogs against the 2-0 Cowboys on Sunday after being thrashed 59-10 by the Baltimore Ravens and 43-0 against the New England Patriots at home to open the season.

Flores said the team still has a lot of reasons to like Fitzpatrick over Josh Rosen.

“He’s got real leadership ability. He’s smart,” Flores said Wednesday. “He gets guys in the right position. He’s a guy I have a lot of trust in. I like Fitz a lot.”

Fitzpatrick hasn’t finished either of the first two games of the season because of the lopsided nature of the final score. Rosen has done little with the offense in his cameo appearances.

The 36-year-old Fitzpatrick will yield some of the first-team reps to Rosen according to the team’s plan, but Flores did not indicate this was the week he plans to make a change behind center.

Fitzpatrick is 25 of 50 with one touchdown and four interceptions. His passer rating is 39.9.

–Field Level Media

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RB Smart, known as ‘He Hate Me,’ missing in S.C.

RB Smart, known as 'He Hate Me,' missing in S.C.

RB Smart, known as ‘He Hate Me,’ missing in S.C.

The former NFL running back who wore “He Hate Me” on his jersey during his season in the XFL has gone missing in South Carolina, police said.

The Lancaster (S.C.) County Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday that Torrold “Rod” Smart is a “missing endangered person” and it is seeking information regarding his whereabouts. His last known location was Indian Land, S.C., where he was seen last Wednesday morning.

Smart, 42, played college football at Western Kentucky. As an undrafted free agent in 2000, he was signed by the San Diego Chargers but was released. The following year, he played for the Las Vegas Outlaws of the XFL, then later in 2001 played in the Canadian Football League and with the Philadelphia Eagles. He played four more seasons with the Carolina Panthers.

He gained 1,814 all-purpose yards in his five-year NFL career, plus 364 more during two playoff runs with the Panthers.

“It is unusual for him to be out of touch for this long,” the sheriff’s office wrote in an advisory posted to its Facebook page. “Mr. Smart’s family is worried about his safety and well-being.”

The Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office is asking anyone with information about Smart to call (803) 283-3388.

–Field Level Media

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Darnold projects Week 5 return to Jets; Gase concurs

Darnold projects Week 5 return to Jets; Gase concurs

Quarterback Sam

Darnold projects Week 5 return to Jets; Gase concurs

Quarterback Sam Darnold projected his return from mononucleosis for Week 5, and New York Jets head coach Adam Gase called the target realistic on Wednesday.

The Jets originally estimated an absence of 3-7 weeks. Mono in adults can be more serious because of the potential impact on internal organs.

“This is something that is serious. If his spleen bursts, we got a problem,” Gase said Wednesday.

Gase also addressed reports that safety Jamal Adams was benched for misreading a play Monday in a loss to the Browns. After the game, media noticed Adams unfollowed the team on Instagram and deleted the team from his profile, sparking speculation he’d request a trade.

“Good thing I don’t pay attention to that — I don’t care,” Gase said of Adams unhitching himself from the team’s social media accounts.

Gase did say he discussed the move with Adams. The coach said he was concerned that with Adams’ emotions running high, he was worried about something going wrong late in a one-sided game.

Darnold won’t play on Sunday against the New England Patriots, and the Jets have a bye the following week.

“He’s feeling better. … The doctors are letting us know how to proceed with him,” Gase said Monday.

Darnold, who was allowed back at the team’s facility on Tuesday, said on ESPN radio he is targeting Week 5 at Philadelphia.

He also said that he wasn’t 100 percent for the season opener, a 17-16 loss to the Buffalo Bills, after sleeping poorly and having cold sweats, estimating he played around 80-85 percent.

“After the game, my body decided to shut down,” Darnold added.

Since Darnold was announced out for Week 2, the Jets have placed his backup and Week 2 starter Trevor Siemian on injured reserve with an ankle injury, promoted Luke Falk from the practice squad — he’ll start Sunday, facing Tom Brady and the Patriots — and signed street free agent David Fales to be Falk’s backup.

–Field Level Media

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Falcons OL McGary to be active for season opener

Falcons OL McGary to be active for season opener

Atlanta

Falcons OL McGary to be active for season opener

Atlanta Falcons rookie offensive lineman Kaleb McGary could start Sunday’s season opener against the Minnesota Vikings, just five weeks after undergoing a heart procedure.

Head coach Dan Quinn said the first-round pick (31st overall) will be on the active roster, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constutition.

McGary, 24, had a cardiac ablation on July 31, a procedure designed to correct heart rhythm issues. He was cleared to return to practice last week and played in the preseason finale against Jacksonville last Thursday.

Quinn is still deciding who will start at right tackle in the opener, with McGary and 2018 undrafted rookie Matt Gono both listed with the first team on Atlanta’s depth chart.

The 6-foot-6, 306-pound McGary played his college ball at Washington and twice was an All-Pac-12 first-team selection. He also won the 2018 Morris Trophy as the conference’s top offensive lineman.

–Field Level Media

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