NFL

NFL news and notes: Belichick mum on Brown's Week 2 status, Newton shoulders blame

By Sports Desk September 13, 2019

With Week 2 underway, we take a look at the top storylines around the league. 

From reaction to the Carolina Panthers suffering another loss on Thursday to New York Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams responding to Odell Beckham Jr.'s recent comments, we follow all that is happening on Friday in this edition of NFL news and notes. 

Three things that matter

Cam Newton takes blame after Panthers start season 0-2

After the Panthers fell to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20-14 on Thursday, quarterback Cam Newton shouldered most of the blame. He said all fingers will be pointed at him to try and figure out how to turn around an 0-2 start. 

"We didn't uphold our end and we're past due. Special teams had a good return, defensively we were stout all game, but all fingers are pointing back to me specifically – and the offense," Newton said. "It's extremely frustrating knowing that you're getting opportunities and you just can't put the ball in the end zone. That's what we have to figure out – what I have to figure out."

Newton threw for 324 yards but completed just 24 of 51 passes and was sacked three times as the Panthers failed to score a touchdown. There has been speculation with Newton's health as he had shoulder surgery during the offseason and suffered a foot injury in the preseason. Coach Ron Rivera insisted, though, that Newton's health is not a concern.

"There's no issue with his shoulder. He threw the deep ball today, threw it a couple times," Rivera said.

Williams responds to Beckham's 'cheap shots' comment

Jets defensive coordinator Williams responded to Beckham's accusations that the coach told his players to injure the wide receiver during a preseason game two years ago.  When pressed about Beckham's recent claims, Williams said with a slight laugh: "Odell who?" before saying, "That was a joke ... that was Jerry [Jones]," in reference to how the Dallas Cowboys owner responded to Ezekiel Elliott holdout questions in the preseason. 

"We don't do that. Never done that anywhere I've been. We don't do anything to hurt the team," Williams said.

Beckham said on Thursday that Williams, who was a defensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns from 2017-18 before serving as interim head coach in 2018, coaches his players to make "dirty hits and cheap shots" targeted at him. Beckham added Williams "changed my life forever" when he was hit during a preseason game in 2017 while playing for the New York Giants, which resulted in an ankle injury. He claims Browns players told him that Williams would tell his players to take the receiver out. 

Needless to say, Monday's Week 2 game between the Jets and Browns will be an interesting one.

Giants receiver Sterling Shepard out against Bills

The Giants will be without a key part of their offense against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. New York have ruled out wide receiver Sterling Shepard, who was placed in the NFL's concussion protocol this week as a result of a hit he suffered in Week 1's loss to the Cowboys. The Giants had been hopeful that Shepard would be ready to play and he continued working on the side in practice this week.

Coach Pat Shurmur said on Thursday he was "doing OK", but still needed to pass steps in the protocol before being cleared.

The news certainly is not good for the Giants as their receivers have been hit hard with injuries. Cody Latimer (questionable for Sunday's game) and Darius Slayton (ruled out) are both hampered by hamstring injuries. In addition, Golden Tate has three games remaining on his suspension for violating the NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances, and Corey Coleman is on the injured reserve.

The Giants re-signed TJ Jones on Thursday to fill the void.

Two things that don't matter

Bill Belichick mum on Antonio Brown's Week 2 status

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick addressed Antonio Brown's Week 2 status, though he was not willing to divulge too much information about his game plan for Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.

"We'll do what's best for the team," he told reporters on Friday.

Brown practised with the Patriots on Wednesday after signing a one-year deal with the team at the start of the week, but Belichick said Brown still has "a long way to go" and the receiver is "not familiar with our offense".

Brown has been accused of sexually assaulting his former trainer, Britney Taylor, in a lawsuit filed on Tuesday in the Southern District of Florida. The lawsuit alleges there were three separate incidents, two of which occurred in June 2017. Taylor alleges in the suit she was "forcibly raped" by Brown in the other incident, which took place in May 2018.

Torrey Smith retires after eight NFL seasons

Torrey Smith is ready to call it a career. The former receiver last played for the Panthers, but he was cut less than two weeks ago. He previously spent time with the Baltimore Ravens, San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles.

"Dear football, I knew this day would come, and to be completely honest, I've been preparing for it my entire career," Smith said during a video posted on Twitter. "You and I both knew the game for me wouldn't last forever. It's the NFL circle of life and I'm prepared for what's next."

Smith, 30, finished his career with 319 catches for 5,141 yards and 41 touchdowns. He won Super Bowl titles with the Ravens and Eagles.

One video you have to see

In the NFL, players become known for their touchdown celebrations, and it looks like some rookies were practising their moves.

Friday's tweet of the day

Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins had high praise for the Jacksonville Jaguars' Jalen Ramsey. He said Ramsey is his "favourite corner to play against".

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  • Patrick Mahomes reportedly set to return this season following dislocated kneecap Patrick Mahomes reportedly set to return this season following dislocated kneecap

    Patrick Mahomes has avoided significant damage despite dislocating his kneecap while in action for the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday, according to reports.

    Mahomes was taken off in the first half of the Chiefs' win over the Denver Broncos, having appeared to have his right knee popped back into place while still on the field.

    The quarterback was set to undergo MRI scans on Friday, and the NFL Network later reported the 24-year-old had suffered no additional damage.

    It was said Kansas City plan to have reigning NFL MVP Mahomes back on the field this season.

    ESPN reported Mahomes could even be back in around three weeks in a best-case scenario.

    Mahomes, who had been playing through an ankle problem, was able to leave the field without a cart and will now be aiming to lead the Chiefs in the playoffs.

    The team are 5-2 through seven weeks, returning to winning ways on Thursday following back-to-back defeats to the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans.

    Kansas City lost the AFC Championship game to eventual Super Bowl champions the New England Patriots last season as Mahomes enjoyed an outstanding sophomore year.

    He threw 50 touchdowns in the 2018 regular season and had added another 15 this term before backup Matt Moore was required to step in against the Broncos.

  • NFL Week 7 Bullet Points: Three must-know stats previewing every game NFL Week 7 Bullet Points: Three must-know stats previewing every game

    Kyler Murray and Daniel Jones meet for the first time on what promises to be a mouthwatering Sunday of NFL action.

    The New England Patriots travel to face the New York Jets on Monday looking to make it seven wins from seven.

    Here is a look at Week 7's Bullet Points with data supplied by Stats Perform.

     

    SUNDAY (All Times Eastern)

    Raiders (3-2) at Packers (5-1), 1pm

    Josh Jacobs rushed for 123 yards and a pair of touchdowns in Oakland's victory in London. It was the first time since 2011 (Darren McFadden) that an Oakland player rushed for 120-plus yards and two touchdowns in a game. Jacobs has four rushing touchdowns in 2019, matching Doug Martin’s team-leading total from the 2018 season.

    The Packers have had consecutive big games out of their running backs. Aaron Jones had 182 scrimmage yards and four rushing touchdowns at Dallas two weeks ago, while Jamaal Williams totalled 136 yards and a TD reception on Monday. Wide receiver Allen Lazard had four receptions for 65 yards and a TD against the Lions – all of them coming in the final 10 minutes.

    Among quarterbacks in NFL history with at least 100 career TD passes, Aaron Rodgers has the highest touchdown/interception ratio at 4.22 (346 TD passes, 82 interceptions). Fourth on the list is Derek Carr at 2.25 (128 and 57). Carr is 14-27 (.341) on the road in his career, while Rodgers is 64-17-1 (.787) at home.

    Rams (3-3) at Falcons (1-5), 1pm

    After totalling a combined 912 passing yards in Weeks 4 and 5, Jared Goff threw for a career-low 78 yards in the Rams’ 20-7 loss against the 49ers. The Rams had 48 net passing yards in that game, the fewest by the team since recording 22 against the 49ers in Week 17 of the 2010 season.

    At 1-5, the Falcons are off to their worst six-game start to a season since also beginning the 2007 season with a 1-5 record. Atlanta have allowed 1034 total yards in its last two games, the most surrendered by any team in a two-game span this season.

    Atlanta is the only team in the NFL this season to have four different players with at least 300 receiving yards: Austin Hooper (480), Julio Jones (467), Calvin Ridley (343) and Mohamed Sanu (310).

    49ers (5-0) at Redskins (1-5), 1pm

    San Francisco are 5-0 for the first time since it won its first 10 games in 1990 and have already eclipsed their four-win total from last season. Another victory would make the 49ers the fifth team since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger to start 6-0 after winning four or fewer games the previous season (2013 Chiefs, 1999 Rams, 1988 Bengals, 1973 Cardinals).

    San Francisco have outscored opponents 86-31 in the second half, the second-largest point differential in the NFL this season (Patriots, +67). The 49ers are the first team to score a touchdown on their opening drive of the third quarter in five straight games since the Colts did so from October 23-December 4, 2005.

    After ranking 31st in the NFL in rushing yards per game (49.8) in four September games, the Redskins have rushed for 145 yards in back-to-back contests to begin October. They are the first team since the 1957 Lions to average over 140 rushing yards per game in October after averaging under 50 prior to the month.

    Texans (4-2) at Colts (3-2), 1pm

    The last 10 regular-season meetings between the Colts and Texans have all been decided by a single-digit margin. That is tied for the third-longest streak in NFL history between two divisional opponents, behind only the Colts and Patriots (11 straight from 1988-93) and the Eagles and Redskins (11 straight from 1991-96).

    All five of the Colts’ games this year have been decided by seven points or fewer, their longest such streak to start a season since 1995 (six straight).

    Deshaun Watson has accounted for at least one touchdown in all 29 career games thus far, the longest streak in NFL history by a player to start his career.

    Vikings (4-2) at Lions (2-2-1), 1pm

    All five of Detroit’s games this season have been decided by four points or fewer. Only one team has begun a season with six straight games decided by four points or fewer: 1935 Chicago Cardinals (six). The Lions played in just four games decided by four points or fewer in the entire 2018 season.

    When facing the blitz this season, Matthew Stafford is 39-for-54 (72.2 per cent) with 530 passing yards, four passing TDs and zero interceptions. Minnesota’s defense has limited opposing QBs to a 60.9 completion percentage and one touchdown pass when blitzing this season.

    Stefon Diggs recorded 167 receiving yards and three touchdown receptions last week, becoming the first Viking with 150+ receiving yards and three receiving TDs in a single game since Randy Moss did so in Week 4 in 2003 (172 rec yds and three rec TD).

    Jaguars (2-4) at Bengals (0-6), 1pm

    The Bengals are 0-6 for the ninth time in franchise history. Cincinnati has lost four of its six games by six points or fewer. The Bengals have allowed at least 16 points in 34 straight games, the second-longest such streak in the history of the NFL (Saints allowed 16+ in 36 straight games between 2014 and 2017).

    The Jaguars average 5.1 yards per rush, third best in the NFL; the Bengals allowed 5.3 yards per rush, worst in the NFL. The Jaguars are second-worst in the NFL in yards per rush allowed, giving up 5.2 per tote.

    Gardner Minshew II is the third quarterback since 1950 to have 800+ passing yards and zero interceptions through his first three career road starts. The other two were Marcus Mariota with Tennessee in 2015 and Elvis Grbac with San Francisco in 1995.

    Cardinals (2-3-1) at Giants (2-4), 1pm

    The game will pit the first two quarterbacks picked in the 2019 draft against one another in Arizona’s Murray (No. 1 overall) and New York’s Jones (No. 6). It will the sixth time since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger that two QBs taken in the top six picks have gone head-to-head as rookies, and the first since Tampa Bay (Jameis Winston) and Tennessee (Mariota) met in the 2015 opener.

    The Giants hope to have leading rusher Saquon Barkley back after missing two games with an ankle sprain he suffered at Tampa Bay in Week 3. Barkley has totalled 100 scrimmage yards or more in 15 of 19 career games. Only one player (Edgerrin James) has done so in 16 of his first 20 NFL games.

    After generating 514 total yards in a Week 5 win at Cincinnati, the Cardinals gained 442 in last week’s 34-33 victory over Atlanta. The 956 combined yards are the franchise’s highest amount over a two-game span since it had 962 from November 10-17, 1996.

    Dolphins (0-5) at Bills (4-1), 1pm

    The Dolphins are allowing a passing touchdown on 9.9 per cent of opponent pass attempts, on pace to be the highest in a single season since the 1966 Giants (10.1 per cent). The Dolphins are the second team in NFL history to allow 14 passing touchdowns with one interception or fewer through five games of a season, joining the 2018 Buccaneers (16 TD, 1 INT).

    The Bills have held opponents to 17 points or fewer in every game this season, the first time in franchise history they have done so in each of the first five games of a season. Buffalo forces its opponents into a 3-and-out on 36.7 per cent of drives, best mark in the NFL.

    The Bills have outgained their opponents by 97.4 total net yards per game, fifth best in the NFL. The Dolphins have been outgained by 205.6 yards per game, worst in the NFL (the Jets are second at -137.8).

    Chargers (2-4) at Titans (2-4), 4.05pm

    Los Angeles have been held to 35 rushing yards or fewer in both games since Melvin Gordon III returned to the team. It is the first time the Chargers have had back-to-back games with 35 rushing yards or fewer since 1996, and only one team in the Super Bowl era has had three straight (2005 Eagles).

    Last week was the 32nd time in his career (including postseason) that Philip Rivers has thrown for 300+ yards in a loss, tying Eli Manning for third most all-time behind Drew Brees (45) and Peyton Manning (35). Rivers is 104 passing yards behind Ben Roethlisberger for sixth on the all-time list.

    Tennessee are expected to start Ryan Tannehill for the first time after Mariota threw his first two interceptions of the season last week. The Titans have had fewer than 25 completions in 18 straight games, the longest active streak in the NFL.

    Ravens (4-2) at Seahawks (5-1), 4.25pm

    The Ravens moved to 4-2 on the season with a 23-17 win against the Bengals in Week 6. So far this season, Baltimore’s opponents have combined for a .300 winning percentage, tied with San Francisco for the easiest schedule played in 2019.

    Lamar Jackson had 236 passing yards and a career-high 152 rushing yards in Baltimore’s Week 6 win. Jackson’s 152 rushing yards were the fourth most all-time by a QB in a single game, and he is just the second player all-time (including postseason) with 200+ passing yards and 150+ rushing yards in a single game (Colin Kaepernick on January 12, 2013 in the NFC Divisional playoffs).

    Russell Wilson (14 TD and 0 INT) is the first QB all-time with at least 14 touchdown passes and zero interceptions through six team games in a season. Wilson has thrown 210 touchdown passes in his career, fourth most all-time by a QB through eight career NFL seasons: Manning (244), Dan Marino (241) and Brett Favre (213).

    Saints (5-1) at Bears (3-2), 4.25pm

    Chicago have lost five straight coming off of a bye week, the longest active streak in the NFL. The Bears allowed 24 points in their loss to the Raiders in Week 5, the most they have allowed in a regulation game since Week 7 of last season in a 38-31 loss to the Patriots.

    In 19 games with the Bears, Khalil Mack has 17 sacks, the most by any Chicago player through 20 games with the team all-time. He has forced 10 fumbles since joining the team in 2018. Mack has eight games with at least one sack and one forced fumble since last season, most in the NFL.

    Teddy Bridgewater moved to 4-0 as a starting quarterback this season, throwing for 240 yards and one touchdown in New Orleans’ win over Jacksonville. Bridgewater is 15-6 as a starter since 2015 – only Tom Brady (53-13) and Patrick Mahomes (17-6) have a better record in that time (minimum 20 starts).

    Eagles (3-3) at Cowboys (3-3), 8.20pm

    Dallas have lost three straight games, falling to the Saints, Packers and Jets (11-6 combined record) after opening the season 3-0 against the Giants, Redskins and Dolphins (3-14 combined). In Weeks 1-3, the Cowboys ranked fourth in the NFL in both points per game (32.3) and opponent points per game (14.7), but are tied for 23rd in points for (18.7) and rank 16th in points against (23.3) since.

    Philadelphia are 18-2 when scoring in the first quarter since 2017, the best record in the NFL. The Eagles have been outscored by 13 points in the first quarter this season, the second-worst differential in the NFC (Atlanta, -24).

    Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott will face each other for the sixth time in their careers (Dal 3-2), tied for the fourth most frequent QB matchups in the history of this rivalry. The other matchups to occur exactly six times are Ron Jaworski versus. Roger Staubach and Donovan McNabb against Tony Romo.

    MONDAY

    Patriots (6-0) at Jets (1-4), 8.15pm

    New England has a +142 point differential through six games, the third best in the Super Bowl Era behind only the 1999 St. Louis Rams (+154) and the 1968 Dallas Cowboys (+149).

    The Patriots have won seven straight games against the Jets, tied for their longest streak versus New York all-time and for their fourth-longest streak against any single opponent. New England is 16-3 versus New York since 2010 – Pittsburgh are the only team with a better record facing a divisional foe over that time (15-2-1 versus Cleveland).

    Sam Darnold averaged 10.56 yards per attempt in the win over Dallas, the highest mark in a game in his career. The last Jets quarterback to average 10.0+ yards per attempt in a game with at least 30 attempts was Ryan Fitzpatrick in 2016; before that, you have to go back to Ken O’Brien in 1986.

  • Mahomes upbeat about injury, says knee 'looking good so far' Mahomes upbeat about injury, says knee 'looking good so far'

    Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes provided a positive early update on the knee injury which forced him out of his team's win over the Denver Broncos on Thursday night.

    The reigning NFL MVP is thought to have dislocated his kneecap on a quarterback sneak in the second quarter of the Chiefs' 30-6 victory over the Broncos.

    Mahomes was helped off the field after the fourth-down play and did not return to the game as backup Matt Moore filled in for a Chiefs team that improved to 5-2 with the win.

    Shortly after the game, Mahomes posted on Twitter: "Awesome team win! Love my brothers! Thank you for all the prayers! Everything looking good so far!"

    Reports suggest Mahomes will undergo an MRI on Friday to determine whether there is any ligament damage.

    "His knee didn't even look like a knee," tight end Travis Kelce said in quotes published on ESPN. "It was all out of whack. I couldn't even describe it."

    Mahomes has been battling an ankle problem in recent weeks, which made the play call on fourth down even more curious, yet Chiefs head coach Andy Reid defended the decision to use his star quarterback in such a way.

    "Not too many people get hurt on a sneak," Reid argued. "It's a freak thing and it happens."

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