The Titans offensive line is feasting on defenders

Retired NFL lineman Geoff Schwartz celebrates the week’s most disrespectful blocks. This week, we’ve got the Titans helping themselves to slabs of ribs, Washington’s OL, and some receivers in on the fun!

Many of the posts he shared on Wednesday were aimed at NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who addressed the media at the league’s owners meetings in New York. Goodell spoke at length about the national anthem protests, a movement that Kaepernick started last season as a member of the 49ers, saying he wants — but is not mandating — all players to stand for the song, saying he aims to put the number of protesters “at zero.”

“Goodell and his avoidance of police killing unarmed black and brown people is an extension of the coopting/erasure of Kaepernick’s cause,” came a tweet from @LeftSentThis, endorsed by Kaepernick.

Darnold has made some questionable decisions throwing the football this season (nine INTs ties his total from last season), but it hasn’t changed my evaluation of him. He simply makes plays when it matters, as seen again against Utah in the second half. His delivery still needs to be cleaned up, but his accuracy is phenomenal. He is the most complete quarterback in college football and a potential franchise signal-caller.

Barkley hasn’t played against terrific competition, but he looks like the best running back in the nation this season. With good balance and terrific lateral agility, he can run away from the defense when he gets to the second level. He did it all against Iowa in Week 4, willing Penn State to a 21-19 win to keep the team undefeated. He has a big matchup this weekend against a stout Michigan defense.


Marcus Mariota won’t play in Week 5’s Titans vs. Dolphins showdown

Marcus Mariota will miss the Tennessee Titans’ Week 5 game against the Miami Dolphins after suffering a hamstring strain in last week’s 57-14 loss to the Houston Texans. Veteran quarterback Matt Cassel will start in his place, and the newly signed Brandon Weeden will serve as his backup.

Veteran special teams captain Craig Robertson was promoted into the starting lineup to replace Anzalone alongside fellow veteran starters A.J. Klein and Manti Te’o. But now the Saints are down to backups Adam Bighill (a rookie transplant from the Canadian Football League) and Gerald Hodges (a veteran who just signed last week).

The Saints also attempted to trade for veteran Navorro Bowman last week before the San Francisco 49ers opted to let Bowman become a free agent and sign with the Oakland Raiders instead.

Stupar, 29, signed with the Saints as a free agent last year after spending his first three seasons with the 49ers, Jacksonville Jaguars and Atlanta Falcons.

Stupar played solely on special teams this season. But he started six games as an injury replacement last year and finished with 58 tackles, a sack, an interception and two forced fumbles.

Crawley jumped ahead of De’Vante Harris in the lineup, and Harris hasn’t taken a defensive snap in two weeks. With the Saints leading more frequently over the past three weeks, they’ve been able to go to their Big Nickel package on a regular basis, pushing 2016 second-round pick Vonn Bell into the lineup. There are seven first- and second-round picks playing meaningful roles for the Saints, so it shouldn’t be talent; if Allen can turn players like Bell, Marcus Williams, and Sheldon Rankins into above-average players, the Saints could get good on defense quickly.falcons_015

Jets receiver Jermaine Kearse on the critical overturning of Austin Seferian-Jenkins’ touchdown against the Patriots

After the game, Kuechly’s teammates weren’t outwardly somber in the locker room. This wasn’t same scare as the New Orleans game when there were many tense moments of him being down on the ground.

Most didn’t see exactly what happened this time, when they were backed up near their goal line. The realization for many came after Kuechly jogged off the field.

“Prayers up, next man up” was the theme of every reaction. That next man, Mayo, played as well as he could, but he had Kuechly on his mind as much as the opportunity to replace him.

Brown on drawing an offensive pass interference call on 49ers receiver Pierre Garcon late in Washington’s 26-24 win: “I ran to him. I ran into him. But I was protecting myself too. And when he threw the flag, I was like, ‘Good flag, ref.'”

Jets receiver Jermaine Kearse on the critical overturning of Austin Seferian-Jenkins’ touchdown against the Patriots: “When you look at the replay, I thought it was a BS call.”

Myers on his two missed field goals against the Rams: “It feels great, dude. It’s f—ing awesome, man.”

“If we’re going to have any other recognition the place to have it is before the anthem in my view and be real clear that it’s not associated with the anthem,” Jones said. “I think it’s real important for our players that they have that to reply to anybody whether they’re asking them to express themselves or not that the way we do it where I work, where I earn my livelihood, is that we stand for the flag.”

When asked if he would really sit a player like Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and Dez Bryant, Jones initially deferred.steelers_034

“We’ve got a young team and they’re hungry,” Severino said.

Simply taking two in a row to send the series back to Cleveland was no small feat for the Yankees. The last time the Indians lost consecutive games was Aug. 22-23 at home against Boston, just before starting their AL-record 22-game winning streak. From that point on, Cleveland had gone 35-4 before arriving in the Bronx for Game 3 of the ALDS.

The Cavs have now moved two of their better individual defenders to the bench — Smith and Thompson — while only adding one plus defender back to that group in Crowder. Lue’s lineup appears to skew to offensively, but James sees potential in the defense Cleveland can get out of its starters.

“Jae, D-Wade is a big 2-guard, I’m a big small forward. … D-Rose is a big point guard,” James said. “We have the versatility and the ability to fly around with the athleticism that we have and the IQ we have as well. We can do a few different things defensively.”

Kaepernick’s collusion grievance in part, alleges league owners blackballed him NFC South tigers_049and were further coerced by President Donald Trump.

The NFL players’ union said Sunday it will support Kaepernick but will have no role in the grievance. The union didn’t learn of it until it was reported in the media Sunday.

“Our union has a duty to assist Mr. Kaepernick as we do all players and we will support him,” the statement said. “The NFLPA has been in regular contact with Mr. Kaepernick’s representatives for the past year about his options and our union agreed to follow the direction of his advisors throughout that time.

they have become the first expansion team in NHL history to win its first three games.

Last year, when they fell to the Dodgers in five games, Roark started Game 2 and did not factor in the decision. This season, the 31-year-old hurler was 13-11 with a 4.67 ERA. Strasburg went 15-4 with a 2.52 ERA that ranked third in the NL.

While the game itself felt secondary to the ceremony beforehand, the Golden Knights scoring four goals within the first 11 minutes before winning 5-1 gave the fans something to celebrate. Each goal provided a reason to stand up and cheer and high-five a stranger. Who knows how the Golden Knights’ inaugural season will play out, but during a time when this city needs something to feel good about, they have become the first expansion team in NHL history to win its first three games.

“I think the team is feeding off the city,” Foley said. “And I think the city is feeding off the team and the players and coming together as a community.”

New York, not the Broncos, looked like they had the best defense in the league, holding Denver to just three points for the majority of the game in the 23-10 win. The Giants forced three turnovers and sacked the hapless Trevor Siemian four times.

Siemian, who briefly exited the game with a left shoulder injury, threw for 347 yards in the loss. While he was able to return, receiver Emmanuel Sanders was carted to the locker room after suffering a third-quarter ankle injury.

A golden day for Cardinals’ oldies: The Cardinals beat the Buccaneers, 38-33, after bursting out to a 31-point lead behind a 100-yard, two-score rushing effort from 32-year-old Adrian Peterson, as well as strong performances from 37-year-old Carson Palmer and 34-year-old Larry Fitzgerald. “A great day for old guys,” Bruce Arians said afterward. Quite.tigers_047

Smith then connected with West again, this time on a 4-yard TD pass to put the Chiefs up 23-7 at halftime.

The Chiefs led 3-0 early after a 35-yard field goal by Harrison Butker on their first drive. Watt was injured on the play before the field goal and fell to the ground while being blocked. Watt remained on his hands and knees for a couple of minutes while trainers checked on him.

They flipped him onto his back and were looking at his left leg. He was then helped to his feet and looked to be in a lot of pain and didn’t appear to be able to put any weight on the leg as he was helped off the field by two Texans officials. He remained on the sideline under a tent for a few minutes before being taken to the locker room on a cart and then taken by ambulance to the hospital.

Butker added another field goal early in the second quarter to make it 6-0.

Ironically, Pence’s antics run counter to his message of “unity.” They instead continue to drive the wedge Trump — and, by extension, Pence — used to fuel his 2016 election with attacks on Kaepernick. The duo’s desire to fortify its political base amid dwindling public support has made the NFL — a vulnerable entity in its own right with a sizeable conservative fan base dismayed by the anthem’s politicizing — a convenient target once again.

And before labeling me a member of the “liberal media” for this opinion, I’m a registered Republican. I don’t like kneeling during the anthem.

But I also recognize Pence’s real motivation for doing what he did: buttressing Trump’s plea that fans walk out of NFL games and stop watching the product in response to the anthem flap that had largely died down until rekindling from the president.x (10)

Green Bay goes three-and-out on its first possession of the second quarter.

I think it has to be a league decision for this simple reason: It isn’t just like any other injury. We can’t condemn the NFL’s relative inaction in the CTE crisis in one breath and then celebrate Adams’ courage in the next without asking this question: How can it possibly be a good long-term idea for a receiver to play four days after one concussion (last year) and then 10 days after a second caused by one of the most vicious head hits in recent memory?

Green Bay was too busy enjoying another breathless victory over Dallas to weigh that one. Rodgers was Rodgers in the endgame, and he nailed down his 94th regular-season victory, tying the career total of Bart Starr, the quarterback who won the most memorable Packers-Cowboys game of all, the 1967 Ice Bowl. A series of late-life strokes and seizures have robbed Starr of nearly every memory of his iconic career, and his wife, Cherry, believes the hits her husband accumulated over the years are at least partly responsible for his physical and mental state.

Dallas is driving again. The Cowboys advance to Green Bay’s 20, where it faced a fourth-and-1. On the play, Prescott keeps it himself, dives forward and gains two yards to move the chains and keep the Cowboys offense on the field.

The Cowboys sacked Aaron Rodgers twice on the drive, and they’ll re-take position at their own 42 following a holding penalty on the punt return.

Touchdown Cowboys . On a third-and-6, Prescott again escapes pressure and finds Rod Smith down the field for an 18-yard gain. Two plays later, the quarterback connects with Cole Beasley for a 5-yard score to put Dallas ahead 14-6.
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Mike Pence leaves 49ers-Colts game over protesting during national anthem

Vice President Mike Pence says he left Sunday’s 49ers-Colts game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis because of protesting that took place during the national anthem.

For the second week in a row, the 49ers had more than 20 players kneeling during the national anthem with their hands over their hearts. Teammates stood behind the kneeling players with one hand on a kneeling teammate’s shoulder and the other over their hearts.

With all of it, the Lions have seen their Ford Field advantage truly emerge for the first time, too. Stafford has always been better there, and with a strong overall team around him now, it’s become a tough place for opponents to visit. The Lions were 6-2 at home last season and were inches and seconds away from knocking off Atlanta to be 2-0 there this season and 4-0 overall.

Before the season, Sporting News picked Detroit to win the NFC North over Green Bay with identical 11-5 records. That would mean the Lions would be only the second non-Packers team to win the division in eight seasons — and give them that elusive home playoff game.

Those Packers, Vikings and Bears fans expecting the Lions to go right back into their den better get used to them roaring for a while.
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Jerry Jones reportedly ‘impeding’ work on Roger Goodell’s contract extension

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is “impeding” negotiations on NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s proposed contract extension, according to ESPN.

Goodell’s current contract expires in 2019, and the NFL’s compensation committee is working on a five-year extension through 2024. But despite not being a member of the six-person committee, Jones has become involved in negotiations, to the point that ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported one source said, “If it weren’t for Jerry’s involvement, Goodell’s extension by now could be done.”

Smith is under contract with Kansas City through 2018. The 12-year veteran is scheduled to earn $10.8 million in base salary this season and $14.5 million next season in addition to a $2 million bonus should he still be on the roster on the third day of the league year in March.

The writing was on the wall for the Chiefs to move on from Smith when they selected quarterback former Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes with the No. 10 overall pick in this year’s draft after sending the No. 27 pick in the first round, a third-round pick and their 2018 first-round selection to move up the list.

Smith, 33, threw for 368 yards and four touchdowns in the Chiefs’ 42-27 victory over the Patriots in last week’s season opener. Smith was again efficient Sunday against the Eagles, going 21 of 28 for 251 yards and a touchdown in a 27-20 win.

The Lions kicker made all three of his extra points, but he’s on this list because of his outrageously dramatic field goal that couldn’t have been closer.

Bell was more involved in Week 2 against the Vikings than he was the week before against the Browns. That’s a silver lining here. He’s getting back to his rightful place as one of the centerpieces in Pittsburgh’s offense after missing camp and the preseason.

However, 27 carries for just 87 yards leaves a little to be desired. That’s 3.2 yards per carry, which is also his average through two games, and well off his career mark of 4.4 YPC. This week, he gets the Bears defense, which isn’t as easy to run against as you might think. The entire Steelers offense has been grinding it out in low gear to start the season, so it’s not just Bell. Big plays will come. Bell is sure of it.

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Aaron Donald to be on ‘pitch count’ in first game back, Rams say

Rams All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who ended his holdout last weekend, is expected to play Sunday against the Redskins, but he won’t be an every-down player.

“It’s more of a pitch count I think,” Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips told reporters Thursday (via Pro Football Talk). “But it’s a number of plays and we’ll see how he is. He looked to be in good shape. You know, football shape and shape are two different things because you’re carrying a lot more weight with pads on and so forth. But he doesn’t seem to be bothered too much by the reps we’re giving him in practice. It’s not wearing him out, so we’ll make sure in the ball game that we watch him.”

So what does Oakland do, run it with Beast Mode like Seattle should have done? Nope. They actually went the Seahawks route, and Derek Carr was heard audibiling the play by yelling out “Seattle.”

So was this intentional? Calling a “Seattle” audible with Lynch in the backfield on the goal line, switching to a pass play? It’s hard to know for sure, but if it is the case, then this was an excellent call.

And as you see in the clip, passing instead of running worked out well as it resulted in a touchdown for Oakland.
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