Ben Roethlisberger wonders if he ‘doesn’t have it anymore’

Ben Roethlisberger had a terrible day. Worse than that, really. He threw five interceptions in a 30-9 loss to the Jaguars in Pittsburgh. He became the first quarterback in history with more than 50 pass attempts, no touchdowns and five picks.

Koo’s struggles with the Chargers weren’t all his fault, as our own Nate Scott pointed out in his weekly NFL kickers column, Gramatica Errors. The blocking by his teammates during attempts was poor at times, and for crying out loud, Chargers. You can’t expect Younghoe Koo to do everything out there.

Still, Koo only converted three of six field goal attempts. One was blocked, and two were just misses. And it is pretty difficult for a team to justify sticking with a kicker who’s only converting 50 percent of his field goal attempts.

The Chargers signed Nick Novak to take Koo’s place. Novak has made 82.8 percent of his field goal attempts over his career.

“We feel like Nick (Novak) was the best choice for our team,” head coach Anthony Lynn said. “Nick has been an accurate kicker for a long time.”

Here’s hoping Koo gets another shot so we can get back to cheering him on again.

Adrian Peterson — AKA “All Day” — also matched his nickname, brutalizing the Bears all damn day. The Vikings rookie ran for the most yards ever against the Bears, with 224 on 20 carries, and gained the most all-purpose yards in a game against the Bears, with 361. He also set Vikings records for rushing yards and all-purpose yards in a game.

Peterson was in his 5th NFL game. Of the four records he set that day, the only one that no longer stands is the Vikings rushing record, which he broke himself.

Hester was in his 22nd NFL game. His first quarter punt return touchdown broke the franchise return TD record of eight, which Gale Sayers needed 43 games to set.falcons_032

Chris Long to donate rest of 2017 salary to education equality efforts, begins foundation

Chris Long is donating the rest of his year’s salary to increase educational equality.

The Philadelphia Eagles defensive end already gave up his first six game checks to provide two scholarships for students in his hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia. Now, he’s using the next 10 to launch the Pledge 10 for Tomorrow campaign.

Koo’s struggles with the Chargers weren’t all his fault, as our own Nate Scott pointed out in his weekly NFL kickers column, Gramatica Errors. The blocking by his teammates during attempts was poor at times, and for crying out loud, Chargers. You can’t expect Younghoe Koo to do everything out there.

Still, Koo only converted three of six field goal attempts. One was blocked, and two were just misses. And it is pretty difficult for a team to justify sticking with a kicker who’s only converting 50 percent of his field goal attempts.

The Chargers signed Nick Novak to take Koo’s place. Novak has made 82.8 percent of his field goal attempts over his career.

“We feel like Nick (Novak) was the best choice for our team,” head coach Anthony Lynn said. “Nick has been an accurate kicker for a long time.”

Here’s hoping Koo gets another shot so we can get back to cheering him on again.

Improvements from Kenny Vaccaro. New Orleans’ first-round pick in the 2013 draft, Vaccaro has had an up-and-down career. This season has been no different, as Payton threatened to bench the inconsistent Vaccaro after the opener and then did so against the Patriots in Week 2, with Vaccaro playing just 64 percent of the defensive snaps. Vaccaro was put back in the starting lineup against Carolina, and he has played superbly since, racking up five pass deflections, three tackles for loss against the run, and two interceptions. falcons_015

Three takeaways from Aaron Rodgers’ injury, Packers loss to the Vikings

The Packers may be without their MVP quarterback for the remainder of the season after Aaron Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone during Sunday’s 23-10 loss to the Vikings.

Rodgers was driven to the turf at U.S. Bank Stadium by Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr after throwing a pass in the first quarter. The second-and-9 pass attempt was dropped by Packers tight end Martellus Bennett, and Rodgers remained on the turf.

Hundley will be unfamiliar to those who are not 1) regular viewers of the questionable spectacle of preseason football or 2) ardent fans of the UCLA Bruins.

But while it would be foolhardy to expect the 2015 fifth-round pick to fill the gaping hole left by Rodgers’ injury, Hundley’s performance in a losing effort provided indicators that a quarterback who led UCLA to a Pac-12 South title and two bowl victories can at least keep Green Bay competitive.

Though Rodgers consistently has been able to make an impact with his legs as well as his arm, Hundley is a far superior runner and offers the Packers a legitimate dual-threat option.

And now, the franchise quarterback for the Shanahan-John Lynch regime will be the (projected) $30-million-a-year Cousins … or Beathard, the unpolished third-round gem.

Don’t feel bad if you didn’t see that plot twist coming. Shanahan probably didn’t even see it. But the last 10 games of the 49ers’ season sure got a lot more interesting. Maybe even more interesting than Washington’s and Cousins’ season, even though they have a division title in their sights and a franchise tag looming over them.

Another week and more prominent injuries in the NFL.steelers_008

Shaken up, Urshela was checked by a trainer but stayed in the game.

On Tuesday, commissioner Roger Goodell sent a letter to NFL teams expressing a belief that “everyone should stand for the national anthem” and that the dispute surrounding the issue is “threatening to erode the unifying power of our game.” He spoke of a plan that will be reviewed with the teams at next week’s league meeting, which would “include such elements as an in-season platform to promote the work of our players on these core issues.”

But in the aftermath of their season, several players spoke positively about Farrell while stopping short of openly lobbying for him to return.

“He’s done a great job,” right fielder Mookie Betts said. “I know no [Red Sox] manager has won back-to-back [division] titles, so it shows he’s done a great job in managing personalities and put us in a position to win. He listens to us and he talks with us. [It’s] one of those dynamics that he fits well.”

“We’re going to go as planned with Tanner,” Baker said about a half-hour after Major League Baseball announced that Game 4 instead will be played Wednesday at 4:08 p.m. ET.

Despite missing his entire first two seasons with injuries and undergoing season-ending surgery that limited him to 31 games in 2016-17, Embiid showed the promise of being a transformational talent. He averaged 20.8 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game last season.

Embiid, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft, had successive surgeries on his right foot that sidelined him in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons. Surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee ended his 2016-17 season in March. Embiid has yet to make his debut this preseason but recently returned to full-contact participation in practices.
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Flames hope G Smith stays hot against Kings

Having erased a dubious distinction from the record books on Monday, the Calgary Flames will try to complete a successful Southern California road trip against the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday.

“A lot of those guys haven’t killed penalties,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. “(Nathan) Walker wasn’t killing much in (AHL) Hershey, and (Alex) Chiasson wasn’t killing much in Ottawa and Calgary, so they’re taking on some new roles, and they’re doing a real good job.”

After his early-season goal surge, Ovechkin was held scoreless Monday night. Against the Penguins, he has 20 goals and 21 assists in 48 regular-season games.

Carolina hadn’t been bothered by penalties early in the season until it was flagged for seven penalties within the first 16 minutes in Detroit. Rivera said it will take better discipline to maintain the winning ways.

Roark is from Wilmington, Illinois, about 60 miles south of Chicago, and grew up rooting for the Cubs. The 31-year-old right-hander is 3-1 with a 3.24 ERA in five career games at Wrigley Field.

Arrieta hasn’t pitched in a game since he lasted just three innings in a loss at St. Louis on Sept. 26. But he said he is 100 percent for his eighth career playoff start.

Wade said there was no ill will from how Rose, then just 23 years old, handled his business.

“That’s not his personality,” Wade said. “Don’t want to do something that’s not in someone’s personality. We knew he wanted us to come in. He didn’t have to be on our line all the time. We knew that. We just made a decision that was better for us.”
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The positive thing is we’re 4-1 and we know we can be a lot better.

Josh Robinson, CB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Robinson exited the game against the Patriots in the first half due to a concussion, and did not return. Robinson serves primarily as the Bucs’ gunner on special teams.

Ryan Russell, DE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: A shoulder injury knocked Russell out of action during the second half on Thursday night, and he did not return. Following the contest, the team indicated Russell had dislocated his shoulder, and he is expected to miss 2-4 weeks.

Find a way. The Panthers are 4-1 and a half-game in front of the defending NFC champion Falcons, who had the week off. The Saints and Buccaneers are at 2-2, and there’s only been one intradivision NFC South game so far. The next one isn’t until Week 8. No way at all to know how that division will sort itself out, but in the meantime, Carolina fires the measuring stick right back up again Thursday night, hosting those 4-1 Eagles in what could be an NFC playoff preview but yeah it’s still too early to tell.

“There’s still a lot to work on,” said Panthers rookie running back Christian McCaffrey, who had his first NFL touchdown on Sunday. “Every day is about finding a way to get better. ”

It’s all about finding a way. The Panthers and the Lions met here Sunday with each trying to find its way back to the NFC playoffs. The early part of the season has shown that each has the defense to do it but needs to work on the offense. The Panthers’ offense has found a way to stack two good games in a row, so they’re 4-1 and the Lions are 3-2. Will they meet again? They could find a way.x (1)

Let’s Take Brain Injuries Out of Play.

Rodgers threw this ball a little higher on the next play, and Adams turned to track it a little earlier, and suddenly the Packers had all but replicated their dramatic divisional playoff victory nine months ago in the same supermall of a ballpark, AT&T Stadium. Adams fired the ball into the crowd to punctuate the moment. It was a 34-31 Packers win in January and a 35-31 Packers win Sunday, and everybody on the visitors’ side went home happy.

“That’s what we do,” Rodgers barked as he entered the locker room. “That’s what we do, baby.”

Rodgers immediately passed a sign on his left that was headlined, “CONCUSSION,” in bold, capital letters, with this message beneath it: “A Must Read for NFL Players.”

That sign perfectly explained why the hero of the game, Adams, didn’t belong on the field in the first place.

Touchdown Cowboys. Dallas drives down the field and gets into the end zone on its opening possession to take a 7-0 lead. After Prescott’s long completion, Dallas converts on a fourth down and moves the chains again on a 14-yard catch by Jason Witten. Three plays later, on third-and-goal, Dez Bryant drops a Prescott pass in the end zone. But, Packers linebacker Blake Martinez is called for a questionable personal foul penalty, resulting in a fresh set of downs for Dallas. Prescott follows with a 2-yard touchdown pass to Cole Beasley.

Facing a third-and-14 on the game’s opening driving, Dak Prescott avoids pressure, rolls out of the pocket and finds Brice Butler for a 49-yard gain, moving Dallas into Packers territory.x (5)

How to bet Minnesota-Chicago

ESPN Chalk’s NFL Vegas experts (Phil Steele, Erin Rynning, Warren Sharp and Mike Clay) are here to provide analysis and best bets for Monday night’s tilt between the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears.

“Sources said Brown has felt strongly the urge to kneel in protest during the anthem, but the Steelers have been in unison standing or remaining off the field during the playing of it. Sunday, when the quarterback did not throw to him early in the game, when he was wide open for a possible TD, Brown took it personally and believed it was related to his recent dispute with Roethlisberger, according to the sources, which led to his sideline blow-up.”

Brown on Wednesday apologized for his tantrum. A day prior, Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin had addressed the matter.

“It doesn’t need to happen,” Tomlin said Tuesday. “It shouldn’t happen. Hopefully, he learned a lesson through that. A.B. is a competitor, we all know that. It aids him, it aids us. He has to control (his emotions). If not, it can work against him, it can work against us. Those are lessons you learn along the way.”

Roethlisberger also spoke out Tuesday against Brown’s actions, saying, “I don’t know (if) he needs to react that way. He’s superhuman on the football field, and when that happens it almost brings him back to being a mere mortal, if you will. Because it gets in his head and it just messes with all of us a little bit. I’m not trying to call AB out. I just think this is causing a distraction that none of us really need.”

Brown, who has 30 catches for 388 yards and a touchdown through four games in 2017, was held to just four catches for 34 yards against Baltimore.
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Key Bucs players Spence, David will undergo MRIs Monday after game injuries

Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Noah Spence suffered a dislocated shoulder during the Bucs’ 34-17 loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, while weakside linebacker Lavonte David suffered what the training staff believes is a high ankle sprain, a source told ESPN.

Spence left the game early but did return, while David was carted off late in the fourth quarter. X-rays for David did not reveal any broken bones, but he will undergo an MRI Monday to learn the extent of the injury, as will Spence. David was walking around on crutches after the game with his left ankle heavily taped.

Despite the world’s most depressing pro day, where he kicked in front of zero scouts in the California rain, he earned his first NFL contract with 49ers in 2012. San Francisco cut him before he even saw the field, setting off a string of almosts that led him to deals with the Raiders, Packers, and Lions without finding a permanent home.

The one team who kept calling, however, was the one closest to his American home. The Raiders saw Tavecchio’s talent, even though they had no room for him on the roster behind their entrenched veteran kicker. As Silver and Black Pride tells it:

When I left there, it was not the best of terms with some of the people, Tolbert said on The John Murphy Show. But at the same time, I have lifelong brothers that I made there.

Tolbert, a 10-year veteran, has been highly productive in his career, racking up 2,444 yards and 34 touchdowns. He’ll now have to block guys like Luke Kuechly — whom Tolbert called the best linebacker in the league — and Thomas Davis in this game. Buffalo is a run-first team, and Tolbert is arguably one of the best blocking fullbacks in the league.

This matchup should be a knock-down-drag-out game, and Buffalo will look to Tolbert set the tone in the run game against some of his best friends.
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CFL, CFLPA immediately end full-contact practices

The CFL and CFLPA are enacting a new safety measure.

The league on Wednesday announced it will immediately eliminate full-contact practices during the regular season in an effort to reduce collisions and ensure the well-being of its players.

NFL Network first reported that he likely would play Thursday, and ESPN confirmed the report.

Ross made his NFL debut in Cincinnati’s third preseason game, brought along slowly after surgery for a torn labrum. He had no receptions in his one game, but was used on a jet sweep, an example of how the Bengals are expected to use his speed and ability to stretch the field.

Quarterback Andy Dalton likely will welcome another weapon. He struggled in the Bengals’ season-opening shutout loss to the Ravens, completing only 16 of 31 passes, five to A.J. Green, for 170 yards and was intercepted four times and sacked five times.

In his final season at the University of Washington, Ross had 81 receptions for 1,150 yards and 17 touchdowns and also averaged almost 13 yards per carry on eight rushing attempts.

This was the fifth time in his 16 NFL starts that he managed at least 23 carries — he had exactly that number — and his five receptions represented a new personal best. That’s not to take anything away from Cohen, who had healthy numbers in terms of PPR (14.2) and non-PPR (10.2) fantasy points, but the Bears remain likely to give Howard the larger rushing share of the two to keep the smallish Cohen healthy over the long haul. Howard was started in just 53.0 percent of ESPN leagues, down more than 40 percent from Week 1, but that number is sure to rise significantly next week.
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