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Thread: Cnotes NFL 2019-2020 Football Schedule + News .Notes,Draft, Etc.

  1. #31
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    NFC East Preview
    August 11, 2019
    By Marc Lawrence


    2019 NFC EAST PREVIEW

    Dallas – Cowboys will face zero opponents both with a bye and coming off a bye next this season ... had only one double-digit win last season ... +2 net turnovers in 2018 regular season.

    New York – Giants will face 4 opponents in the 2nd+ away games this season ... played ‘under’ their regular season win total 7 of the last 8 years ... suffered 6 wire-to-wire losses last season ... +2 net turnovers in 2018 regular season.

    Philadelphia – Eagles will face 3 opponents coming off a by this season... suffered 5 wire-to-wire losses last season ... -6 net turnovers in 2018 regular season.

    Washington – Redskins will face 3 opponents in the 2nd + away games by this season ... had 6 wire-to-wire wins but suffered 5 wire-to-wire losses last season ... +7 net turnovers in 2018 regular season.


    Dallas Cowboys

    TEAM THEME: COWBOY UP

    Westgate SuperBook Season Win Total: 9 (under -130)
    Opponents’ Collective Season Win Total: 128.5

    It’s been said that the NFL needs its mediocrity and that Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett is doing his best to fill the void. Garrett’s nice-guy persona and ultra-conservative approach to the game was never more on display than last year when his play-calling continued to deny his team chances to win games. So was it any surprise when they fell to the LA Rams in the Division round of the playoffs last season? Not really, not when you consider the last time the Cowboys won consecutive games in the postseason was 22 years ago in 1996 when they last captured a Super Bowl. That team featured grit and toughness under Barry Switzer and resilient WR Michael Irvin.

    As Garrett enters the season on the final year of his contract, he faces a mandate to win in 2019 or else. QB Dak Prescott’s 24-3 SU mark in games in which he fails to turn the ball over is a start. Then again for the reigning division champs, maybe it’s time for this year’s edition to finally “Cowboy-up”. As our good friend and native Dallas legend Norm Hitzges said on an ESPN 30/30 documentary, “If you're gonna be a dirty program, you better be good at it. You better understand that the group handling the dirtiness has to be committed.” Are you listening, Jason?

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Cowboys are 2-22-1 ATS at home following a SU conference loss since 2009, including 1-18 ATS as a favorite.

    PLAY ON: vs. LA Rams (12/15)

    INSIDE THE STATS: The Cowboys are 37-10 SU and 31-15-1 ATS the L5Y in games where they won the stats.


    New York Giants

    TEAM THEME: MANNING THE FORT

    Westgate SuperBook Season Win Total: 6 (under -120)
    Opponents’ Collective Season Win Total: 125

    Dave Gettleman is not a popular figure in the Big Apple these days. Not after the Giants GM dismantled the team and then made highly questionable moves in the NFL Draft. To paraphrase ESPN’s evaluation of the moves: The Giants traded away one of the game's great playmakers (Odell Beckham) and one of their better pass-rushers (Olivier Vernon). They used the first-round choice acquired for Beckham on a 350-pound nose tackle, seven months after trading away a 350-pound nose tackle (Damion Harrison). They acquired a 23-year-old safety drafted in the first round (Jabrill Peppers) to replace a 25-year-old safety drafted in the first round (Landon Collins).

    Making matters worse, they over-reached for QB Daniel Jones with the 6th pick in the first round (he would have been available with their 17th pick later in the round). For some, it felt as if the Giants were like a basketball team sinking 2-point shots while its opponents were hitting 3s. Jones is the heir apparent to 38-year old veteran QB Eli Manning, who will likely assist in his development. The offseason additions of WR Golden Tate and OG Kevin Zeitler help, but they won’t fill the holes of the players that have departed. Meanwhile, Gettleman will be reminded on a daily basis that Kentucky LB Josh Allen at No. 6 would have been a smarter move than Jones.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Giants will not play consecutive road games for the first time since 1992.

    PLAY AGAINST: at Chicago (11/24)

    INSIDE THE STATS: The Giants are just 23-43 ITS the last four seasons.


    Philadelphia Eagles

    TEAM THEME: BIRDS OF PASSAGE

    Westgate SuperBook Season Win Total: 9.5 (over -150)
    Opponents’ Collective Season Win Total: 123.5

    Talk about putting all your eggs into one basket: the Eagles appear to be doing just that with QB Carson Wentz this season. After letting Super Bowl MVP QB Nick Foles leave via free agency, Philadelphia will depend on Nate Sudfeld should the oft-injured Wentz go down once again this season. However, if Wentz regains his health, the offense could be lethal with speedy receiver Desean Jackson returning, plus RB Jordan Howard joining the backfield. The Eagles made the most of their five draft picks as well when they landed Washington State redwood Andre Dillard to better protect Wentz, while also adding RB Mike Sanders form Penn State and WR JJ Arcega-Whiteside from Stanford. And on a sidebar note: look for former four-year Northwestern starter Clayton Thorson to secure a spot on the Eagles roster, as QB guru coach Terry Shea insists his skills were the best of any quarterback in this year’s draft.

    Philadelphia has three straight home games and three consecutive road games. Oddly, no other team plays three consecutive away games this season. And speaking of scheduling quirks, the Eagles will avoid playing on the road the entire month of November, with an open date wedged in between a three-game homestand. And the final four games in December come against division foes. If all falls into place, this team could be better than 2017’s Super Bowl edition.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: It’s been 14 consecutive years since the reigning NFC East division champion (Dallas this season) has repeated.

    PLAY ON: at Dallas (10/20)

    INSIDE THE STATS: The Eagles are 8-2 SU and 7-3 ATS after zero turnovers under head coach Doug Pederson.


    Washington Redskins

    TEAM THEME: CUTTING A NEW SWATH

    Westgate SuperBook Season Win Total: 6.5 (under -120)
    Opponents’ Collective Season Win Total: 129

    After a rash of injuries wrecked the Redskins’ season last year, they picked themselves back up off the mat and slayed the draft this year. It started when QB Dwayne Haskins (Ohio State) fell into their laps with the 15th pick in the first round and just got better thereafter. DE Montez Sweat (Mississippi State) was also a steal late in the first round before they added WR Terry McLaurin (Ohio State) and RB Bryce Love (Stanford). With QB Alex Smith out for the season with a gruesome leg injury (broken tibia and fibula), Haskins will likely follow the same path as Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield and ride the bench for a few games to learn the ropes behind Case Keenum until he’s ready.

    With free-agent DBs Landon Collins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in the secondary, expect last year’s 28th ranked Opponent Completion Percentage (67.41) to make major strides in 2019. The loss of LB Reuben Foster to a knee injury in the OTA’s is a major burn, but the hope is former Steeler LB Jon Bostic can be the Neosporin needed to fill the hole left by the 25-year-old impact player. Through it all, with only one winning season under his belt, head coach Jay Gruden finds himself in the hot seat and will likely rely heavily on this year’s youth-infusion. Especially out of the gate when they take on three 2018-playoff clubs.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Washington is 9-0 ATS as a dog when coming off a SU favorite loss of 20 or fewer points under Gruden.

    PLAY ON: vs. NY Giants (12/22)

    INSIDE THE STATS: The Redskins are 4-32 SU and 5-31 ATS in games in which they are minus in TO’s.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

  2. #32
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    Hot & Not Report - Week 2
    August 12, 2019
    By Matt Blunt


    Who's Hot and Who's Not

    Week of August 12th


    The first full week of NFL preseason action has come and gone, and it was a solid one for those of you willing to follow last week's breakdown – at least against the closing line – as the NFC North teams discussed (Detroit, Green Bay, Minnesota) went 2-1 ATS vs the closing number, while fading those teams from LA swept the board (2-0 ATS).

    Week 2 of the preseason is where we get to see starters on the field for a much longer period of time (typically at least one quarter or more), although some teams have been moving towards using this game as more of a “dress rehearsal” type in recent years too. Make sure to keep your eyes and ears open for any announcements that head coaches make regarding prospective playing time this week as typically when that news comes out it ends up being a rush to the window for bettors to grab what they believe to be the best numbers currently out there. As of now, the bulk of the games this week have point spreads below the -4 threshold, but don't expect that to hold as the week goes on.

    So in a similar style to last week's piece, this week deals with preseason Week 2 trends for a few teams across the league, and if you are a football fan, young or old, of those teams with connections to the great state of Texas, it's with those organizations that you may want to start with this week.

    Who's Hot

    “Youngest” team in Texas brings home the Week 2 cash

    Houston Texans 6-1 ATS last seven years in Week 2 of the Preseason

    When I say “youngest”, I'm not referring to the average age of the players in a Houston uniform, but the time they've existed in pro football. The Houston Texans turn 20 years old this year since being awarded their expansion franchise back in 1999, but they didn't hit the football field until 2002 when they forced the league into realignment. And while there have been some extreme highs and lows for this organization during those 17 years on the football field, they've found much more consistency this decade.

    Starting with the 2011 campaign, Houston has won the AFC South division crown five different times, finished 2nd once, and bottomed out with a last-place finish twice. It's not like you can paint a picture of Week 2 success in the preseason as a calling card to many of those successful years, but they are one of the best in the NFL right now at covering the spread during this week of action. They've won this game outright in three straight years, and given the fight we saw from them late last week in Green Bay – covering earlier, non-closing numbers of +2.5 vs the Packers – we could possibly see a complete effort from every group on the depth chart this week.

    Oddsmakers are aware of this trend as well apparently, as they are one of the select few teams currently lined at -4.5 this week, as they host a Detroit Lions team that looked as disinterested as a team could be in Week 1. Lions HC Matt Patricia does come from that New England Patriots way of life and preseason has never been a priority for that franchise, and when you pair that result with Houston being a great Week 2 team, if you are going to back the Texans this week, it's best to do it sooner rather then later.

    Who's Not

    “Older” teams with ties to the state of Texas

    Dallas Cowboys 1-8 ATS last nine years in Week 2, Kansas City Chiefs 2-14 ATS last 16 years in Week 2

    Speaking of “Texans”, the Kansas City Chiefs started out as the Dallas Texans way back in the start of the AFL, and played their three years before owner Lamar Hunt moved them on to Kansas City. Since then they've long since established a connection to the city of Kansas City, and with how much this team has won, but ultimately come up short in the modern era, there is never a shortage of high hopes for the Chiefs each year. That's especially true this year with them arguably being a literal coin flip away from a Super Bowl appearance last season, and there are plenty of lofty expectations thrust upon them in 2019 because of that result.

    But the team that originated in Dallas is not one I'd be looking to back this week, as a 2-14 ATS run in these Week 2 games is nothing but fade material.

    Kansas City looked great from top to bottom in their Week 1 dismantling of Cincinnati, as the Chiefs scored a TD in every quarter en route to the 38-17 win. Four different QB's saw action with starter Patrick Mahomes going a perfect 4-for-4 throwing (66 yards) before getting pulled, and while he will see more action against Pittsburgh this week, the team is likely to still be very cautious with him in numerous ways (how long he stays out and their play-calling).

    At the same time, I don't believe we see Chase Litton go 11-for-15 for 122 yards and 2 TD's again, while Kyle Shurmur's 6-for-15 is probably right in line with what to expect from a better Pittsburgh defense. Considering this 2-14 ATS run does include two straight wins in Week 2 the past two seasons, there is a case to be made that it's a new era in Chiefs-land during this week, but I'd much prefer to back the larger sample size here and go against them, especially at the current 'pick'em' price.

    In the Dallas Cowboys case, they have got nothing but support early this week, as an opening line of +3 as visitors against the Rams, quickly turned to a 'pick'em' before continuing to see even more action and now currently sitting at the Cowboys laying -2.5 points. That's such a huge swing regardless of history and has to be taken with some respect, however, at the same time, history suggests that the Cowboys never do all that well during Week 2, and now you are getting a great price to fade them in this spot.

    Granted, that would mean backing a LA Rams team that showed last week they've got little interest in being competitive in the preseason, as they understand it's all about staying healthy and depth evaluation right now. They aren't going to be a team many will run to the window to back, but it's highly plausible that we see Dallas end up winning this game by two or less points, allowing all that early Dallas money to cash, while the steam chasers on Dallas at -2.5 (or more) end up getting left in the dark.

    That Cowboys are also 1-7 SU the past eight years during Week 2 of the preseason, and have lost those seven games by an average of 8.7 points. With where the current price is now, a loss of any nature would be detrimental to the bankrolls of Cowboys backers yet to confirm their wager, and for as disinterested as the Rams looked last week, if this line gets to +3 on LA, you've probably got to side with history and look to fade the Cowboys once again.
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    Giants WR Tate suspended 4 games
    August 13, 2019
    By The Associated Press


    EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) New York Giants wide receiver Golden Tate has had the appeal of his four-game suspension for a violation of the NFL's policy on performance enhancers turned down.

    The decision by an independent arbiter was announced Tuesday and means the 10-year-veteran will miss the first four games of the regular season, starting with Dallas on Sept. 8.

    Tate, who signed a $37.5 million contract as a free agent with the Giants in March, announced the suspension in a Twitter post on July 27. He said he intended to appeal it and felt his case had merit because he was using a fertility drug prescribed by a doctor.

    The appeal was heard by a member of an independent appeals panel in New York last week.

    The NFL allows players to use fertility drugs but they must obtain a therapeutic use exemption prior to using them. The league has insisted players are responsible for the drugs and supplements they take and advises them to talk to team trainers and medical personnel before using them.

    ''This morning I received the unfortunate news that my appeal was denied,'' Tate said in a statement on Twitter. ''I went into this arbitration with the understanding that due to the facts, unlike many other cases, we could be the exception to win. Unfortunately the NFL stood by their no tolerance policy, which I hope one day to help have a part in reforming, so no other player has to go through this situation.''

    Certain fertility drugs can help athletes boost performance or mask doping. Some fertility drugs bought on line are not approved by the FDA.

    Tate will be eligible to practice with the team until the start of the regular season.

    In his tweet last month, Tate said he has never violated the league's rules on banned substances. He noted the treatment was for a fertility issue and it will have no effect on this season.

    Hours before the suspension was officially announced, quarterback Eli Manning called Tate a smart player who came turn short plays into big ones.

    ''He is going to be in the right spot and he has a good feel for the zones, how to get open versus different techniques and stuff,'' Manning said.

    The Giants, who traded standout receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to Cleveland in the offseason, have been hit a rash of injuries at the wideout spot in training camp.

    Sterling Shepard broke his left thumb in the opening practice. He has returned to practice on a limited basis. Fellow receiver kickoff returner Corey Coleman tore an ACL in the same workout.

    Rookie Darius Slayton, the fifth-round draft choice, returned to practice this week after missing almost all of training camp with a hamstring injury.

    Tate split last season with the Lions and Eagles, catching 74 receptions for 795 yards and four touchdowns in 15 games. The Notre Dame product played with Seattle from 2010-13 and was with the Lions from 2014 until the trade to Philadelphia. His best seasons were from 2014-17, when he caught at least 90 passes per season with Detroit.
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    WR Sanders had surgery on both ankles
    August 13, 2019
    By The Associated Press


    ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Emmanuel Sanders' comeback was more complex than he had let on.

    The Denver Broncos' 32-year-old receiver revealed this week that he had surgeries on both ankles in the offseason, one to repair his left Achilles tendon, which he tore in practice last December, and one to fix a severely sprained right ankle a month later.

    Sanders recounted fans approaching him at the **** last winter and asking, ''How's the Achilles doing?'' while pointing at the boot on his right foot.

    ''I'm like, `I'm good. But it's not my Achilles. It's actually my ankle,''' Sanders said Tuesday. ''But I kind of kept that under wraps because I didn't want you guys writing stories of hey, there's no way he can battle through two surgeries. So, I just said I'm going to keep it under wraps and let you guys know once I get myself back healthy and feeling good.''

    He's at that point now.

    Sanders methodically ramped up his workload since training camp began July 18 to the point that he has participated in every 11-on-11 period so far this week. He plans to face the San Francisco 49ers in two joint practices this weekend, and if all goes well, he'll go against them Monday night in the Broncos' third preseason game.

    ''Obviously, everybody's like, `You're playing in the preseason coming off an Achilles?!' But at the same time, I want to get in a groove before the first regular season game,'' Sanders said.

    Sanders initially injured his right ankle midway through the 2017 season and missed four games down the stretch. ''We were going to have surgery last spring but we didn't do it because it was feeling good,'' he said.

    That turned out to be a big mistake when the pain returned during his conditioning test at the start of training camp last summer, ''and I thought there's no way I'm going to make it through the season on this,'' Sanders said.

    He didn't make it through the year, tearing his left Achilles tendon at practice on Dec. 5 , something he told 9News he believes resulted from favoring his right ankle all season.

    So, a month after his Achilles tendon surgery, Sanders had what's known as a ''tightrope'' procedure on his right ankle. The surgery is being used in athletes to accelerate recovery from high ankle sprains. Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa had the same operation last December and played in last season's national championship four weeks after suffering a high ankle sprain in the SEC championship.

    Sanders said that while his left foot still gets sore, ''it's minute compared to what I was dealing with'' in his right ankle, which is now pain-free.

    ''I feel like all the doctors, they done repaired me back to myself,'' Sanders said.

    His goal now is to get his stamina up so he can run 30 to 40 routes on game days.

    Sanders said ''the chemistry is coming,'' with new quarterback Joe Flacco. ''Everything is looking good. It's all about going out and just trying to master this offense so that when (the opener against Oakland) comes around we're putting up points and we're hooking up on deep passes and trying to create explosive plays.

    ''Because that's what it's about: it's not about the dink and dunk; it's about those chunk explosive plays. So, that's what I know that I have to bring to the table.''

    Notes: Coach Vic Fangio joined Von Miller and Bradley Chubb in a pre-practice clap to rile up the fans on the last open practice of training camp. ... With a day off ahead, OLB Malik Reed (possible oblique injury) and Aaron Wallace (hamstring) were held out Tuesday. ... Fangio said he ended a long tradition of rookie haircut hazing in Denver because ''I just don't think it's right.''
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    QB Rodgers to play on Thursday
    August 13, 2019
    By The Associated Press


    GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) For the first time this preseason, the world will have the opportunity to see what Aaron Rodgers looks like in Matt LaFleur's offense.

    The Packers' first-year coach said Tuesday that Rodgers and the rest of the first-team offense and first-team defense will play for about ''a quarter or so'' on Thursday when Green Bay heads to Baltimore to face the Ravens in their second preseason game.

    ''We're always fluid with that, dependent upon how the game goes and how much time they have,'' LaFleur said. ''But everybody should be prepared to play about a quarter or so.''

    Thursday will be Rodgers' preseason debut after the 15th-year pro watched the entire preseason opener against the Texans last week from the sideline in warmups while listening to the offensive communications on his headset.

    Rodgers said he wants to make sure he stays healthy and plays efficient football on Thursday night.

    ''It will be a good test for our first time running this offense in another stadium, on the road, against a really good defense,'' he said.

    For the umpteenth time, Rodgers was asked on Tuesday about his relationship with LaFleur. Specifically, Rodgers was asked what he wishes people knew about his relationship with his new coach who is just four years his senior.

    ''We have a great line of communication,'' he said. ''But I'm not sitting up here wishing people - `I wish you just knew this' - I don't care. Look, I don't need to go out and prove to anybody how great Matt and I are getting along, or him stand up there and say how great it's been. Look, we're having a great time, we're communicating, and the conjecture is for clickbait news stories you guys can put on your websites.''

    Rodgers said the dialogue between him and LaFleur has been great because Rodgers knows who's the boss - LaFleur.

    LaFleur said Rodgers' backfield mate, running back Aaron Jones, will not play. Jones, who led the team with 728 yards on the ground last season, participated in his first team (11-on-11) period on Tuesday after missing six practices and the preseason opener because of a hamstring issue.

    ''I wouldn't even call it an injury; it was just tight,'' Jones said.

    The defense will be without outside linebacker Oren Burks indefinitely. Burks said he initially thought he would need to undergo season-ending surgery to repair a pectoral muscle he injured last week against the Texans. Burks said a specialist determined that it would heal on its own.

    ''I'm really hoping that Oren's thing is going to be really short term and we'll get him back here quicker,'' Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst. ''Right now, I'd just kind of like to get through this next game, kind of see where we're at, see where Oren's at.''

    Burks said he's day to day and there is no timetable for his return.

    NOTES: CB Kevin King, whose 2018 campaign was ended by a hamstring injury, continues to be sidelined with yet another hurt hamstring. King hasn't practiced since suffering the injury in the team's scrimmage Aug. 2. ... Rodgers and TE Jimmy Graham connected on a 40-yard touchdown over S Adrian Amos on Tuesday. The score was followed by the entire offense running down to the end zone to celebrate with Graham. ''He's a Hall-of-Fame talent, and we gotta get him the opportunities so that he can reach his potential in this offense,'' Rodgers said. ''And I think we're going to do it based on the schemes and the approach in getting him in some of those positions where he can be the first or second read in a progression.'' ... A helicopter circled and hovered over practice for several seconds on Tuesday. Both LaFleur and Rodgers said they didn't see it. When asked about it after practice, LaFleur said: ''Did the Bears send a spy?'' Green Bay opens the regular season Sept. 5 at rival Chicago.
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    Jaguars plans to rest Foles vs. Eagles
    August 13, 2019
    By The Associated Press


    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) Nick Foles won't get to play against his former team in the preseason.

    Jacksonville Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said Tuesday he plans to sit most of his starters, including his quarterback, against Philadelphia this week. Marrone said starters will play in the team's third exhibition game, at Miami next week. But Marrone quickly added that Foles would only get on the field against the Dolphins if Jacksonville's starting offensive line is intact.

    Left tackle Cam Robinson (knee), guard Andrew Norwell (quadriceps) and rookie right tackle Jawaan Taylor (knee) were limited participants in practice Tuesday.

    ''If the third preseason game comes and someone doesn't play, it's probably on the verge of just being cautious,'' Marrone said.

    Marrone rested 31 players, including 20 starters, in the exhibition opener at Baltimore last week. The Jaguars crossed midfield for one play and lost 29-0 .

    The decision to withhold so many starters was part of Marrone's "smarter approach" to training camp and the preseason , which came a year after Jacksonville lost a number of key guys - most notably receiver Marqise Lee - to injuries. Lee tore several ligaments in his left knee in the team's third preseason game.

    ''I think it's important that you play that (third preseason) game because you are presenting and you want to get the players in the right frame of mind,'' Marrone said.

    Foles seemed to sense he wouldn't play against the Eagles.

    ''It'll mean a lot to see those guys pregame and catch up with a lot of those guys,'' he said. ''They're family to me, always will be. So it'll be good to see a lot of their faces and talk to them, see how they're doing.''

    Foles led Philadelphia to four playoff victories over the last two seasons, including the franchise's first NFL title since 1960. He earned 2018 Super Bowl MVP honors and made himself the league's premier quarterback commodity. He signed a four-year, $88 million contract with Jacksonville in March that included $50.125 million guaranteed.

    The 30-year-old Foles appears to be a significant upgrade for a team that's spent most of the last 15 years searching for a franchise quarterback. He's poised in the pocket, has a strong grasp of the offense and makes nearly every throw on time and into precise spots. He's also taken on a leadership role, arriving early and staying late.

    On Tuesday, after struggling to connect on corner routes during red-zone drills, Foles stuck around after practice and worked to perfect those timing passes with receivers Chris Conley and Keelan Cole. He then opted to run sprints by himself back and forth across the field.

    Foles has started 44 games in seven NFL seasons with Philadelphia, Kansas City and St. Louis. He has 68 touchdown passes and 33 interceptions.

    Rookie Gardner Minshew is expected to start Thursday night against the Eagles. Foles will be watching and helping from the sideline.

    ''There's a method behind the madness, so we trust that,'' Foles said. ''We're getting those game reps out here (in practice). Obviously, it's not in a stadium, it's not under the lights, and that is a different animal in itself. But we're getting a lot of work, and when we do take the field, when coach decides that, we'll be ready to roll.''
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    Chargers' Ekeler, Jackson max out snaps
    August 14, 2019
    By The Associated Press


    COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) As Melvin Gordon continues his holdout from the Los Angeles Chargers' training camp, Justin Jackson and Austin Ekeler are showing why they should be in the mix to get more carries this season.

    Both running backs have made a strong impression on coaches during the three weeks of practices as well as last Thursday's preseason opener against Arizona.

    They will figure prominently as Los Angeles hosts New Orleans for joint workouts Thursday and Friday and then a game Sunday.

    ''I mean, even if he was here, we have the same mentality,'' Ekeler said. ''If he's here, we still have to move forward. If he's not here, we still have to move forward.''

    Ekeler ran for 40 yards on five carries during the Arizona game. Jackson gained 22 yards on five carries, scoring from four yards out on the Chargers' second drive.

    ''They've done a good job of taking advantage of their opportunities,'' offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt said. ''I thought that they ran strong (last Thursday), made good decisions on their cuts and did a good job in protection. It was very nice to see the way they played.''

    Ekeler's role continues to expand as he enters his third season. The 5-foot-10, 200-pound Ekeler has emerged as a shifty change-of-pace back who is dangerous catching the ball out of the backfield. He is the first undrafted player in franchise history to have a rushing and receiving TD in each of his first two years.

    Ekeler's six receiving touchdowns also make him the first undrafted running back with five or more in his first two years since Dallas' Dan Reeves in 1966.

    Ekeler said he is still receiving the same amount of reps that he would get if Gordon was on the field. He said the biggest difference is that he is getting more with the first team.

    Jackson was a seventh-round pick last year but missed most of training camp with a hamstring injury. He started the season on the practice squad before being called up to the active roster before Week 4.

    When Gordon was out for four games with a knee injury, Jackson ended up getting his opportunity. He had an 18-yard touchdown at Pittsburgh and gained 58 yards with a TD in a start at Kansas City.

    The 6-0, 199-pound Jackson showed how much growth he's had during the offseason on his touchdown against Arizona. He was able to lower his shoulders and powered through for the score.

    Running backs coach Alfredo Roberts said that run showed the game isn't too big for him.

    ''We're both trying to carve out our space in this offense, especially with Melvin not being here,'' said Jackson. ''We're trying to step up and work off each other. You have to plan for Austin's speed and my change of direction.''

    There aren't any signs that Gordon will end his holdout soon. He is in the final year of his rookie contract and is slated to earn $5.6 million this season. Gordon has gained over 1,200 yards from scrimmage and scored 10 or more touchdowns in three straight seasons.

    Whisenhunt said he wouldn't be concerned if Jackson and Ekeler were his starting backfield if Gordon doesn't report in time for the Sept. 8 opener against Indianapolis. Whisenhunt also didn't want to say whether Gordon could report the week of the opener and be ready go.

    ''I don't know that scenario. Like I said, we miss Melvin,'' he said. ''I think Melvin's a hell of a football player, but we're working with the guys that are here and they're doing a nice job.''
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    Colts rookie CB to get test against Browns
    August 14, 2019
    By The Associated Press


    WESTFIELD, Ind. (AP) Indianapolis Colts cornerback Rock Ya-Sin has impressed coaches with his playmaking skills.

    He passed another significant milestone Wednesday..

    In the first of two joint practices against Cleveland, Ya-Sin held his own against the Browns' receivers, and quarterback Baker Mayfield never even challenged the rookie in seven-on-seven or 11-on-11 drills.

    ''I felt like I competed well, felt like I worked hard,'' Ya-Sin said. ''I definitely want to continue to get better, whether it's against a guy on our team or their team.''

    Ya-Sin didn't go one-on-one with either of the Browns' projected starting receivers - Odell Beckham Jr. or Jarvis Landry, the talented college teammates who were reunited in a draft-week trade. Landry did limited work, none against Ya-Sin, and Beckham again sat out though he was dressed.

    Browns coach Freddie Kitchens said Beckham hasn't practiced recently because he ''has a little something going on in there'' and that he hopes the Browns top receiver returns ''soon.''

    It could happen Thursday when the Browns will help the Colts close out training camp on the Grand Park Sports Campus in suburban Indianapolis. The teams will square off for a third time in Saturday's preseason game, just a short drive away from Westfield, Indiana, where both bleacher sections were almost full and almost equally divided between Browns and Colts fans.

    Aside from one brief skirmish between Colts running back D'Onta Foreman and Browns cornerback Lenzy Pipkins, the first workout went pretty smoothly.

    ''We're not going to take anything from anybody,'' Kitchens said, explaining why he might not discipline any of his players for the dust-up.

    Indy's biggest concern continues to be Andrew Luck's lower left leg injury, which has kept their starting quarterback off the field for all but three practices since April. Luck did not speak with reporters Wednesday but did watch practice in street clothes with his ankle and lower calf areas appearing to be taped.

    Luck's return also remains unclear though a decision on his availability for the Sept. 8 regular-season opener could be made in less than two weeks.

    ''You have to be able to make a call and move from there whether we're full speed with Andrew after that third preseason game or, if at that point, we are going with Jacoby (Brissett),'' coach Frank Reich said.

    But the joint practices are about more than known commodities.

    For instance, the Colts are eager to see how their second-round draft pick fares against new faces and crafty veterans.

    ''The experience that you get as a young rookie going against another skill set, the learning experience you get from knowing yourself and knowing another opponent and then what works for you and what didn't work is invaluable,'' defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus said. ''We tell our players this all the time - it doesn't matter if it was a good experience or a bad experience, what matters is what you learned after the fact.''

    Ya-Sin has proven himself a quick learner at every stop he's been lately.

    Since December 2017, the Football Championship Subdivision standout transferred to Temple for his final season, was chosen a captain, made scouts take notice at the Senior Bowl and started moving quickly up draft boards with workouts at the NFL's annual combine and Temple.

    The Colts thought highly enough of him to take him with their first draft pick in April, No. 34 overall.

    What they liked on tape was Ya-Sin's long arms, sturdy body and physical nature - a combination that allows him to play bigger than his listed size of 6-feet, 190 pounds.

    But what really sets him apart is his ability to make big plays. He's gotten his hands on the ball almost every day at camp until Wednesday when he never got a chance. And that might be the best compliment of all.

    ''It's kind of surreal, like a dream come true,'' Ya-Sin said, referring to the opportunity to line up against some of the guys he's been watching on television for years. ''I feel like I worked and created an environment where I could see myself learning.''
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    Chiefs defensive staff brings change
    August 14, 2019
    By The Associated Press


    ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) The first step in what became a top-to-bottom overhaul of the Kansas City Chiefs defense began when coach Andy Reid replaced coordinator Bob Sutton with Steve Spagnuolo, the former St. Louis Rams coach and longtime NFL defensive coordinator.

    It was an obvious, unsurprising move in many ways: The two had worked together for nearly a decade in Philadelphia, and Spagnuolo was looking to get back into coaching after taking a year off.

    The rest of the steps in building a defensive staff were a little more surprising.

    For one thing, the choices came from every corner of the coaching landscape.

    Linebackers coach Matt House was plucked away from the college ranks, where he had been serving as the successful defensive coordinator at Kentucky. Defensive line coach Brendan Daly had just helped the Patriots win another Super Bowl. Cornerbacks coach Sam Madison had been working in television, his on-field work limited mostly to preparing prospects for the NFL combine.

    Throw in new defensive backs coach Dave Merritt, who spent last season with the Cardinals, and holdover Britt Reid - the head coach's son - and it's quite a collection of backgrounds and skill sets.

    Just what Spagnuolo had in mind.

    ''All of these coaches are familiar with Steve, love the game, and are good teachers that have had success in their careers,'' said Reid, who worked closely with Spagnuolo in assembling the staff.

    Their task is simple: Turn a defense that was such a liability last season, and in many ways it cost the Chiefs a spot in the Super Bowl, into a unit that is at minimum mediocre. Or at best able to give the ball back quickly and efficiently to what is arguably the league's most dynamic offense.

    ''I mean, we've got all the right pieces as far as instructors and teachers go, you know?'' Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu said. ''It's about us going out there and being consistent.''

    House may be the most interesting of the position coaches, in part because of the hurdles it took for him to get hired. The news leaked in early February that the Chiefs were interested, but his school announced a few days later that House had decided to stay with the program.

    Then word filtered out of Lexington that House wanted to take the job in Kansas City, but he was trapped because of a prohibitive buyout - an issue that ultimately got resolved.

    Now he's working with a linebacker corps still adjusting to Spagnuolo's new 4-3 scheme.

    ''I like the energy he brings every day,'' said Anthony Hitchens, who is slated to started at one of the inside linebacker spots. ''He's definitely an alpha and we need more guys like that. He has a lot of energy and he's also a veteran. He knows about good football.''

    Daly went from the Super Bowl champions to a Super Bowl contender, leaving coach Bill Belichick's program in New England for a similar job in Kansas City. He's made several other stops in both the NFL and college football, but Daly certainly brings with him a winning pedigree.

    Madison played 12 seasons in the league, including a three-year stint with Spagnuolo as his own coordinator with the Giants. But the extent of his coaching experience amounts to an internship under Spagnuolo in St. Louis, then time working with the Ravens, Giants, Dolphins and Seahawks.

    ''When he called, I jumped at the opportunity,'' Madison said. ''For the last 10 years I've been doing radio and television. Training a lot of kids in the offseason, getting kids ready and prepared for their college training camps and getting ready for combines and stuff like that.''

    Now he's working with Mathieu and Co. on a vastly revamped defensive backfield, drawing on a unique path toward being an assistant coach with the three-time defending AFC West champions.

    Madison fits right in with the rest of their defensive assistants.

    ''I think the leadership is a big thing,'' said Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who has been facing the retooled defense throughout camp. ''Guys are really taking accountability for knowing every single position on that defense. I think that's the biggest thing - they're being assignment-sound, they're doing exactly what the coaches are telling them to do and it's working.''

    NOTES: WR Sammy Watkins missed practice Wednesday with an illness. ... DE Frank Clark (hip) was on hand but did not practice. He was ill Tuesday. ... The Chiefs have their final workout of training camp at Missouri Western on Thursday morning. They play Pittsburgh on Saturday in their second preseason game before resuming their work at their own facility in Kansas City next week.
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    Garoppolo has rough day for 49ers
    August 14, 2019
    By The Associated Press


    SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) Jimmy Garoppolo had a practice to forget in his final session before facing an opposing defense for the first time since suffering a season-ending knee injury in September.

    Garoppolo threw interceptions on five straight pass attempts at practice for the San Francisco 49ers on Wednesday, by far his worst session since his return from the torn ACL that cut short his 2018 season after three games.

    ''I was the defensive coach today so I was pumped,'' coach Kyle Shanahan said. ''The defense did great today. Obviously, he struggled. You hope to never have a day like that. But I don't think it's never not happened to anyone. When you do that, you hope you can practice long enough and you have a chance to play out of it.''

    Garoppolo's day went off the rails when safety Jaquiski Tartt intercepted a pass that was tipped by linebacker Kwon Alexander. Free safety Tarvarius Moore added two more interceptions, cornerback Richard Sherman jumped in front of tight end Ross Dwelley for one of his own and cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon had one in the end zone on an attempt to Dante Pettis.

    Garoppolo settled down a bit after that and did lead a two-minute drill into the red zone before Tartt nearly came up with another interception on the final play, only to have it go through his hands to Jordan Matthews for a completion short of the goal line.

    Shanahan said he hopes a practice like this will be a learning experience for Garoppolo on how to deal with frustration when things don't go the right way in games.

    ''You want so badly to make it up the next play but the next play you still have to make the right decision and go with what the defense gives you,'' Shanahan said. ''Sometimes it's hard to make the right decisions when you're fired up and competitive. Usually when you make a bad play, it makes your mind go a little bit sideways. That's why it is sometimes a good situation to put guys in and when that does happen sometimes you try to protect them a little bit in the game. But in practice it's the exact opposite. When there's an issue, you kind of poke at it a little bit more and see how guys react.''

    Garoppolo will get a chance to rebound when the 49ers hold joint practices with the Denver Broncos on Friday and Saturday in preparation for an exhibition game. This will be Garoppolo's first time facing an opposing defense since injuring his knee in Kansas City last Sept. 23. He will also get a chance to play in the game on Monday night.

    The one bright spot in Garoppolo's poor performance was that it showed that maybe the 49ers will have a more opportunistic defense this season after setting NFL records for futility with just two interceptions and seven takeaways all last season.

    San Francisco goes into the joint practices a bit short-handed, especially on the defensive line where starting defensive ends Dee Ford and Nick Bosa remain sidelined. Ford (knee tendinitis) could return to practice next week for the first time since July 30.

    Bosa had a severe ankle injury last week and his status for the season opener remains in doubt. Bosa worked out on the side Wednesday in an encouraging sign that he is making progress.

    Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said making this missed time even more crucial is the fact that the team is implementing new techniques on the defensive line under coach Kris Kocurek.

    ''That stuff, to me, is important,'' Saleh said. ''Do I think it will hinder us from still being able to get after the passer? No, I don't think it will be too bad. I feel like there's going to be an adjustment. ... We're going to have a high celling once those guys get back of trying to master those techniques and master the relationship they have with one another so they can operate at a very high level.''

    NOTES: LT Joe Staley didn't take part in team drills with pectoral soreness. ... TE George Kittle remains day to day with tightness in his calf. ... S Jimmie Ward has been cleared to practice but will still be held out of contact after breaking his collarbone during the offseason program. ... Rookie LB Dre Greenlaw was held out of contact drills because of a stinger suffered in practice Tuesday. ... DL Jullian Taylor (back) and TE Levine Toilolo (shoulder) didn't practice.
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    Lions-Texans practice reunites coaches
    August 14, 2019
    By The Associated Press


    HOUSTON (AP) Wednesday's joint practice between the Texans and Lions was a reunion for Houston coach Bill O'Brien and Detroit coach Matt Patricia.

    The two worked as assistants with the New England Patriots from 2007-11.

    O'Brien said the first of two practices between these teams before Saturday's preseason game ran like clockwork.

    ''He and I, we go back a long way, coached together in New England, didn't really even have to meet about this,'' O'Brien said. ''We just knew how it would work. It was smooth operation.''

    O'Brien and Patricia have remained close friends from their time working together under New England coach Bill Belichick, and Patricia said it was easy to fall right back into their old routine when they got back together on Wednesday.

    ''We spent a lot of time together at New England,'' Patricia said. ''He was the offensive coordinator, I was the defensive coordinator. It's funny when we get into practices like this, it's just like old times kind of: `Hey what do you want to do this period? Let's do this. How many reps here? What does this look like?'

    ''That conversation comes right back to what we did a long time ago.''

    The teams went through about a two-hour practice on Wednesday morning in which they conducted drills separately early in the day before working together. Patricia, recovering from offseason leg surgery, zipped around from field to field on a four-wheeler, and O'Brien was seen standing near his ATV and chatting with him several times during practice.

    It is the second consecutive week both teams have held joint practices. The Texans worked out with the Packers for two days last week before Thursday's preseason opener at Green Bay. Detroit hosted Belichick and the Patriots for two workouts in advance of the team's first preseason game on Thursday.

    Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson and Lions signal caller Matt Stafford took many of the snaps in Wednesday's workouts. They both made some nice passes, with Stafford connecting with first-round pick T.J. Hockenson on one long throw.

    The Lions believe that chasing around dual-threat quarterback Watson for a few days this week will help them prepare for their season opener when they'll meet Arizona and Kyler Murray, last year's Heisman Trophy winner and the top overall pick in this year's draft.

    Along with dealing with the Texans, the Lions were also fighting the weather conditions Wednesday. Where they normally practice in Allen Park, Michigan, temperatures are usually in the low to mid-70s in the mornings. In Houston on Wednesday temperatures soared to above 90 degrees with high humidity by the time practice wrapped up just before 11 a.m.

    Patricia said he and his staff have been getting the team ready for the conditions for a while.

    ''Making sure that we're doing a good job with our players to hydrate and to make sure they are prepared,'' he said. ''We've tried to stress that through the last 48 hours or so through the travel. Obviously getting on the plane, that dehydrates you, too. ... We're just going to have to do a really good job of monitoring everything. I've talked to coach O'Brien at length about taking his guidance and his lead as far as the heat is concerned because he is obviously in tune with it a little bit more than we are.''

    Patricia said it's not only important to be cognizant of the heat's effect while practice is going on, but also later in the day and evening as they prepare for a second day in the conditions Thursday.
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    Pats, Titans practice like family reunion
    August 14, 2019
    By The Associated Press


    NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Patriots' rookies surprised Titans coach Mike Vrabel at the start of their joint practice by serenading him for his 44th birthday.

    Vrabel knows who likely instigated the singing.

    ''That was something that was unexpected but very appreciated,'' Vrabel said Wednesday. ''It was a good idea by whoever came up with it. Probably Tom or Bill.''

    That would be either former teammate Tom Brady or Bill Belichick, the coach Vrabel won three Super Bowl rings with as a linebacker during his 14-year career. Now Vrabel is in his second season as head coach with the Tennessee Titans hosting Belichick and the Patriots for two days of practices before Saturday night's preseason game.

    This session featured lots of trash talking and felt much more like a family reunion than an NFL training camp with all the ties between these franchises.

    Vrabel started the talk as soon as Brady came onto the field, yelling at the three-time NFL MVP for walking and not jogging onto the field. Brady told Vrabel to pay attention to his own work in just the start of the barking between teams with lots of ties and former players now on the other roster.

    The Titans coach stayed close to his defense working against Brady, all the better for the two to chirp at each other.

    ''It brought back a lot of memories just to be able to sit out there and they make a play and he turns around and says, `Mikey you better cover that, you guys need to do this.' I'm sure I had plenty to say too,'' Vrabel said. ''It was a lot of fun. We have a lot of respect for those guys. We can learn a lot from the way they practice and how they operate.''

    Cornerbacks Logan Ryan and Malcolm Butler and running back Dion Lewis all won Super Bowl rings with the Patriots before signing with Tennessee as free agents. Patriots cornerback Jason McCourty never played in the postseason through eight years with the Titans before finally joining his twin brother, Devin, in the New England secondary last season.

    Ryan jumped up trying to knock down a Brady pass from his old teammate only to get knocked down by Patriots right tackle Marcus Cannon.

    ''It's all good,'' Ryan said. ''We're competing. Tom said that he'll know every time I'm blitzing because he knows my mannerisms. I think I tricked him on one.''

    Brady got the better of a Titans' defense Wednesday that was sixth against the pass and third in fewest points allowed. Ryan said Brady dominates in a practice setting where defenders can't use all their tricks.

    ''When you're on top, he's going to throw it low,'' Ryan said. ''You're in front, he's going to throw it behind. I mean if you can't get pressure on him and sack him like we can't do in practice, he's going to be pretty accurate. But we just want to be on body and we want to be close and challenge those receivers.''

    The Titans made clear they want their version of the Patriot Way when general manager Jon Robinson, who got his NFL start with the Patriots, hired Vrabel as their new coach in January 2018.

    Vrabel and the Titans routed Belichick and the Patriots 34-10 last November. But the Patriots finished the season with their sixth Super Bowl title while Tennessee just missed the playoffs losing the regular season finale. Belichick said Vrabel's been a friend for a long time and did a great job in that game last season.

    ''We really got handled down here,'' Belichick said. ''He's got an excellent staff, and I'm sure that he's teaching these guys a lot of football. He was really smart player, a very fundamental player, so I'm sure that you can see those strengths in the way he coaches his team.''

    NOTES: Titans WR Adam Humphries went to the locker room during practice, while Patriots OL Dan Skipper was taken to a tent on a cart for treatment in the heat. ... Titans RB Derrick Henry (left calf) caught some passes from Robinson before working in a sand pit. He has not practiced since the opening day of camp.
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    Fitzpatrick competes for Dolphins job
    August 14, 2019
    By The Associated Press


    TAMPA, Fla. (AP) It didn't take Ryan Fitzpatrick long to get re-acclimated to a familiar setting.

    The journeyman quarterback who's preparing for his 15th NFL season is back on the practice fields at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' training facility this week, this time competing for a starting job with the Miami Dolphins.

    Fitzpatrick spent the past two seasons with the Bucs, mostly as a backup to 2015 No. 1 overall draft pick Jameis Winston.

    With the Dolphins, he's trying to beat out second-year pro Josh Rosen, another young passer hoping to prove he's a franchise QB.

    ''Being on eight teams, this has happened more than once, where I've gotten to go back,'' Fitzpatrick said of this homecoming for a pair of joint workouts leading to Friday night's preseason game between his last two employers.

    ''It's really cool. man. Just him being back here in Tampa,'' Winston said Wednesday. ''He's a fun-loving guy ... a great leader.''

    Fitzpatrick also was a big help to the Bucs' quarterback, generously sharing knowledge and experience gleaned from a meandering career that also includes stops with the Rams, Bengals, Bills, Titans, Texans and Jets.

    Now, he's doing the same with Miami, even though he and Rosen are competing for the starting job.

    Coach Brian Flores has declared Fitzpatrick the leader in the competition, however Rosen may be closing the gap after directing three scoring drives in last week's preseason opener and getting some work with the Dolphins' No. 1 offense in joint practices against Tampa Bay.

    Rosen said Fitzpatrick has been ''unbelievably helpful ... probably one of the best mentors I've had in the sport.''

    ''It's pretty impressive how he can just sort of walk up to the line and see (things) and just know what front, what coverage, everything they're trying to do, and I'm just trying to get to that level,'' Rosen said.

    ''I think I have a sort of special skillset, so that when I can put those two together, it can be special,'' the young quarterback added. ''But it's going to be a long road, a lot of film, a lot of studying, and I'm just indebted to Fitz for how selfless he's being.''

    As far as Fitzpatrick is concerned, it's part of the job.

    He became the first player in NFL history to throw for over 400 yards in three consecutive games, leading Tampa Bay to a 2-1 start last season while Winston was serving a suspension for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy.

    Winston was inconsistent when he returned, briefly losing the starting job before regaining it and playing well enough down the stretch that the Bucs brought him back for the final year of his rookie contract at a salary of nearly $21 million.

    ''I think last year was a difficult situation for a lot of different reasons; but I also look at the way he played down the stretch and he played some really good football,'' Fitzpatrick said about his decision to sign with Miami in the offseason.

    ''For me at least, football is a lot more fun when I'm out there playing,'' he added. ''Having the opportunity to go to Miami and compete, that's why I decided to do what I did.''

    Rosen took some snaps with the first team offense during Tuesday's workout in Tampa, then worked exclusively with the starters on Wednesday.

    Flores said no conclusions should be drawn from the way the workload was divided the past two days, adding it had more to do with wanting both quarterbacks to benefit from various looks presented by Tampa Bay's defense.

    ''Fitz saw it (Tuesday). We wanted Josh to see it see it (Wednesday), and that's really what that was. ... From what I saw, I thought he had a good day. He's heading in the right direction,'' said Flores, who later downplayed whether Rosen is closer to becoming No. 1.

    ''Look, it's a competition and it's a competition at every position,'' the rookie coach said. ''I think my job is to help these guys become the best players they can possibly be. And the competition is part of that. Who's leading? Who's not leading? That's irrelevant to me. I want these guys to get better and improve every day. That' where I'm at with it.''

    Flores had even less to say about how whether there's concern about whether running back Kenyan Drake will be ready to return by next month's regular season opener after injuring his right foot.

    Drake was wearing a walking boot Wednesday after limping off the practice field the previous day.

    ''We take things day-to-day here. The opener's down the road,'' Flores said. ''He's got a little injury, and I think ... he's just going to take it day-to-day. He's got a great attitude about it. I think he'll be OK.''
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    Seahawks at Vikings
    August 14, 2019
    By Matt Blunt


    NFL Preseason Week 2 Preview
    Seattle at Minnesota


    A pair of NFC teams coming off SU and ATS wins in Week 1 of the preseason meet in Minnesota on Sunday night, as it's a high-profile, under the lights preseason contest for the Seahawks and Vikings.

    Minnesota's 34-25 win last week was arguably the more impressive of the two, as they managed to put up 35 points against the Saints in New Orleans. Strong performances by QB's Sean Mannion and Kyle Sloter were a big reason for that result, as both guys managed to throw a TD pass and were a combined 13-for-20 throwing the ball. Kirk Cousins did his thing as well in one drive going 4-for-4 for 65 yards and a TD, and he'll likely cut into a bit of the playing time for Mannion and Sloter in this one.

    From Seattle's perspective, their 22-14 win at home was fueled by a strong all around effort from QB Paxton Lynch. Lynch went 11-for-15 throwing the ball for 109 yards and a TD, but it was his four rushes that totalled 38 yards and a TD that helped Seattle grab the lead in the 3rd quarter for good. Lynch is a guy that's looking to revitalize his career after his failed stint in Denver as a 1st round pick, and based off one performance, his dual-threat ability is something that Seattle covets.

    Doing it at home is one thing though, as can Lynch and company get it done on the road in prime time?

    NFL Odds: Minnesota (-4.5); Total set at 41.5

    As is the case with NFL preseason lines every week, there is significant line movement early on in the week and this game is no different. Bettors have already shown their hand in terms of backing the Vikings and the 'under', given that this line originally opened up at Minnesota -3.5 and a total of 42.

    An average of 28 points put up between them on offense last week makes the 'under' look a little puzzling to some, especially given the QB battles both teams seemingly have going on for that backup role. But without question both sides would like to tighten things up defensively – especially in Minnesota's case, and I do suspect that's what we see to a degree form both sides in this one.

    Seattle and Minnesota also have a recent history of preseason games finishing with 41 or fewer points, as they've met in August each of the past three years, and last year's 21-20 Minnesota win was the highest point total of the three. It was also the only one played in Week 3 of the preseason – typically the dress rehearsal game for starters – as the previous two years they met in Week 2 as they are this season, and those games finished with 33 and 29 points respectively.

    So the 'under definitely makes a lot of sense here, and typically you'd better have a few good reasons to go against line moves in general during the preseason, and outside of last week's offensive performance by both sides, there really isn't a lot to suggest otherwise this week. Given that Seattle's 2nd preseason game has cashed 'under' tickets in each of the past four years, it would be that side of the total where I believe you can only look.

    However, it's actually the side that may present a slightly better betting opportunity as there is at least one strong enough reason to go against the line move that's gone Minnesota's way already.

    Going back to the start of the 2011 NFL season – essentially a year before the Russell Wilson era started there – the Seahawks have not minded travelling for preseason games at all. In road games outside of the Pacific Time zone (PST), Seattle has gone 7-1 ATS overall, and 5-0 ATS when lined as an underdog. That's an ATS run that has significant weight to stand on for this game, especially when you consider that QB Geno Smith will be looking to up his performance after what he saw from Lynch a week ago.

    And for as much as Minnesota would like to see improvement on defense, it may be hard to completely flip that around in just a week. Mike Zimmer's defense have also been built around getting pressure and being physical, and those are two things that can be very limited in August action. At the same time, Mannion and Sloter are two guys I wouldn't count on lighting up the stat sheet again, which makes it very tough to back Minnesota at anything over a FG in this case.

    The early money may have got the best of the number on Minnesota now, but I wouldn't be surprised to see some buy back come Seattle's way the closer we get to kickoff. Remember, as a stand alone, SNF game, most of the action here has yet to hit the board, and I'm looking to stay ahead of the curve.

    Best Bet: Seattle ATS
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    Thursday's Preseason Essentials
    August 15, 2019
    By Tony Mejia

    Note: Quarterback rotation subject to change. Lines courtesy of Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook.

    Eagles at Jaguars (-3, 35) - 7:00 PM EST

    Phildadelphia
    Head Coach: Doug Pederson (7-6 SU, 7-6 ATS in season)
    Quarterback Rotation: Cody Kessler, Clayton Thorson (R)
    Beat Writer Twitter Follow: Jeff McLane


    Anyone looking to watch Nick Foles try to match Carson Wentz for even a series is going to be awfully disappointed. After neither played in Week 1, both projected starters are expected to watch from the sidelines in Jacksonville too. Nate Sudfeld got his wrist broken after a late hit against Tennessee last week, so Kessler and Thorson will be at the controls here. Pedersen is 2-1 in Week 2 of the preseason and defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz will likely want to see more from a unit that got lit up by the Titans.

    Jacksonville
    Head Coach: Doug Marrone (8-9 SU, 7-8-2 ATS in preseason)
    Quarterback Rotation: Gardner Minshew, Tanner Lee, Alex McGough
    Beat Writer Twitter Follow: John Reid


    Minshew saw the bulk of the work as the Jags were shut out by the Ravens, so the expectation is he'll play at least the first half on Thursday. Marrone has already given Jags' fans the heads up that they won't see any starters in this second contest, but the hope is that the backups will be much better than they were up in Baltimore. First-round pick Josh Allen will look to be a disruptive force up front. Marrone has split his four Week 2 preseason games and has seen 11 of his 18 go 'under.'


    Jets (-1 , 44 ) at Falcons - 7:30 PM EST

    N.Y. Jets
    Head Coach: Adam Gase (5-8 SU, 5-8 ATS in preseason)
    Quarterback Rotation: Sam Darnold, Trevor Siemian, Davis Webb, Luke Falk
    Beat Writer Twitter Follow: Manish Mehta


    New defensive coordinator Gregg Williams blitzes in exhibitions and wasn't at all thrilled that he couldn't get home and his defensive backs got carved up by the Giants last week. This will be a huge opportunity for guys looking to impress on that side of the ball. Sam Darnold's entire projected started interior line won't play, so it remains to be seen whether he plays more than a series. New kicker Tyler Bertolet will look to solidify his hold on the gig after Chandler Catanzaro retired. The 'over' is 9-3-1 in Gase's 13 preseason contests as head coach of the Dolphins and Jets. He was 0-3 in Week 2 contests with Miami.


    Atlanta
    Head Coach: Dan Quinn (5-13 SU, 4-14 ATS in preseason)
    Quarterback Rotation: Matt Ryan, Matt Schaub, Matt Simms
    Beat Writer Twitter Follow: D. Orlando Ledbetter


    The Falcons dropped the Hall of Fame Game in addition to last week's high-scoring contest in Miami, so this is Quinn's third look at his team in a game setting. A few offensive linemen are missing too, but Matt Ryan will debut and is likely going to play into the second quarter. Simms, who was signed when Kurt Benkert went on IR, should mop up ahead of WR/QB Daniel Etling, who was just claimed after being waived by New England. Quinn is 0-4 in the third preseason game and carries a 10-game preseason losing streak into this game, last winning on Sept. 1, 2016. The under is 6-11-1 in his preseason games.


    Bengals at Redskins (-3, 41) - 7:30 PM EST

    Cincinnati
    Head Coach: Zac Taylor (0-1 SU, 0-1 ATS in preseason)
    Quarterback Rotation: Andy Dalton, Jeff Driskel, Ryan Finley (R), Jake Dolegala (R)
    Beat Writer Twitter Follow: Tyler Dragon


    The Chiefs routed the Bengals last week to spoil Taylor's debut, but the head coach did see a few bright spots, which included Finley showing out and climbing into the primary backup role ahead of Driskel, who has started getting reps at receiver. Dalton led a drive for a TD against the Chiefs and should be in for a longer stint with backs Joe Mixon, Giovani Bernard and Trayveon Williams all expected to play through ailments. New defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo saw the first-team defense get overwhelmed by Kansas City, which ended up scoring 38 points in making the entire unit look porous. It will be interesting if communication improves as they look to handle a second straight road game.

    Washington
    Head Coach: Jay Gruden (12-9 SU, 11-10 ATS in preseason)
    Quarterback Rotation: Case Keenum, Dwayne Haskins (Rookie), Jalan McClendon
    Beat Writer Twitter Follow: Kareem Copeland


    The 'Skins still don't have Colt McCoy (leg soreness) available and lost Josh Woodrum to a torn pectoral muscle, so with McClendon signing this week, it's expected that Keenum and Haskins will get all the snaps as they try and impress in order to secure a starting that spot that looks up for grabs. Haskins, the No. 15 pick, sabotaged an effective debut with costly turnovers, so he'll be among Thursday's most scrutinized subjects. New OC Kevin O'Connell is considered a lock to be a future head coach and is calling plays while working with Haskins, so he should take some shots against the Bengals despite holes along the offensive line. Gruden has won four of five Week 2 games and is 7-3 SU at home in the preseason.


    Packers at Ravens (-4, 37) - 7:30 PM EST

    Green Bay
    Head Coach: Matt LeFleur (1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS in preseason)
    Quarterback Rotation: Aaron Rodgers, DeShone Kizer, Tim Boyle, Manny Wilkins (R)
    Beat Writer Twitter Follow: Tom Silverstein



    Rodgers is expected to play about a quarter, debuting for the first time with LeFleur calling the plays into the future Hall of Famer. We'll see how their relationship evolves, but Rodgers is likely to have most of the offense around him with RB Aaron Jones expected to play after dealing with a hamstring issue. Kizer and Boyle threw for 142 yards and three TDs, showing off great chemistry with the team's younger receivers. A new-look defense lost projected top linebacker Oren Burks and will be looking to improve after giving up 26 points in holding off Houston.

    Baltimore
    Head Coach: John Harbaugh (34-12 SU, 31-14-1 ATS in preseason)
    Quarterback Rotation: Lamar Jackson, Trace McSorley (R), Joe Callahan
    Beat Writer Twitter Follow: Jamison Hensley


    Jackson played more than he was expected to last week and didn't tuck it and run, so it's clear that the Ravens want him to work on his passing from the pocket. He completed 19-of-25 in Tuesday's practice and will be looking to build on that in probably working another three series before giving way to McSorley and Callahan, a former Packer. Robert Griffin III is out for the entire preseason with a hairline fracture in his thumb. The Ravens have won 14 consectuive preseason games, last losing on Sept. 3, 2015. They blanked the Jags 29-0 last week. Harbaugh has gone 8-3 in Week 2 and has dropped just one preseason home game since mid-August of '13.


    Raiders at Cardinals (-3, 40 ) - 8 PM EST, ESPN

    Oakland
    Head Coach: Jon Gruden (34-17 SU, 19-12-3 ATS in preseason)
    Quarterback Rotation: Derek Carr, Mike Glennon, Nathan Peterman
    Beat Writer Twitter Follow: Paul Gutierrez


    The Raiders dominated a Rams squad that ran a vanilla offense last week and managed just a field goal, so their defense will get their first true test here. Carr will play for the first time despite Antonio Brown remaining on the sidelines, so we'll get to see what chemistry has developed with the team's other receivers. Offseason Tyrell Williams and a pair of rookies HBO's Hard Knocks' has focused on, Clemson's Hunter Renfrow and UC Davis' Keelan Doss, will get long looks. Rookie RB Josh Jacobs will also get touches to try and balance out a passing attack that looked uneven at best in the opener. Gruden has an incredible record in Week 1 of the preseason but has really struggled in his second games.

    Arizona
    Head Coach: Kliff Kingsbury (1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS in preseason)
    Quarterback Rotation: Kyler Murray (R), Brett Hundley, Chad Kanoff, Drew Anderson (R)
    Beat Writer Twitter Follow: Bob McManaman


    The Cardinals saw Murray put together an impressive debut and ran a mostly vanilla offense despite Kingsbury's stated desire to push tempo and unveil some innovations. The expectation is that Arizona won't show off many bells and whistles this early in the preseason, but they will want to see the training wheels come off some for top QBs Murray and Hundley. There's also a lot of competition at receiver that must shake out, so the battle for No. 3 between Kanoff and Anderson, a rookie from Murray State, should lead to the ball being in the air often. .
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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