The Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens both improved to 2-0 in the NFL but in contrasting fashion on Sunday.

Reigning Super Bowl champions the Chiefs needed overtime to see off the Los Angeles Chargers 23-20 in Week 2.

Lamar Jackson and the Ravens powered past the Houston Texans 33-16 on the road.

Meanwhile, Kyler Murray dazzled for the high-flying Arizona Cardinals and Russell Wilson sparked the Seattle Seahawks.

 

MAHOMES' CHIEFS OUTLAST CHARGERS

Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs stayed perfect thanks to Harrison Butker's 58-yard field goal with less than two minutes remaining in OT.

Butker drilled three field goals for the day as he tied a Chiefs record for distance, while becoming the second kicker in NFL history to make a pair of 58-yard kicks in the same game.

It completed a rally for the Chiefs, who overturned a 17-6 deficit in the third quarter to survive an impressive NFL debut by Chargers rookie Justin Herbert.

Herbert threw 311 yards to become the ninth player since the merger to top 300 in his first game. He was 22 of 33 for a touchdown and interception.

As for former MVP and last season's Super Bowl MVP Mahomes, the Chiefs quarterback finished 27 of 47 for 302 passing yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 54 yards.

 

RAVENS PRESERVE UNBEATEN RUN

The Ravens overcame a slow start to extend their regular-season winning streak to 14 games – the longest run since the Carolina Panthers reeled off 18 successive victories in 2014-15.

Reigning MVP Jackson threw for 204 yards and a touchdown, while he rushed for 54 yards in Houston, where the Ravens led 20-10 at half-time.

The Ravens rushed for 230 yards compared to the Texans' 51 as Mark Ingram II had 55 and a touchdown.

"We feel like we have the best backfield in the league. We just try to prove that, week in, week out," Ingram said.

MURRAY HAS CARDINALS SOARING

Murray continues to show why the Cardinals were so desperate to draft him with the number one pick last year after inspiring a 30-15 victory against the Washington Football Team.

Second-year quarterback Murray finished with 286 yards and a touchdown, while he ran for two TDs in a stunning display.

Murray – a dual-threat – put on a show as he ran with the ball and went for 14 and 21 yards to help the Cardinals improve to 2-0.

"As soon as I leave the pocket I survey the field," Murray said. "Seeing how the blocks were set up, they were set up pretty perfectly. Once I get a guy one on one, I like my chances."

Cardinals star DeAndre Hopkins had eight catches for 68 yards and a touchdown.

Meanwhile, Wilson fuelled the Seahawks to a 35-30 win over the New England Patriots.

Wilson was 21-of-28 for 288 yards and five touchdowns as the Seahawks made it two victories from two games.

It condemned Can Newton and the Patriots to their first loss of the season after Tom Brady's QB replacement in New England finished 30 of 44 for 397 yards, a touchdown, interception and a sack in Seattle.

 

Week 2 scores:

Chicago Bears 17-13 New York Giants 
Dallas Cowboys 40-39 Atlanta Falcons 
Green Bay Packers 42-21 Detroit Lions 
Tennessee Titans 33-30 Jacksonville Jaguars 
Indianapolis Colts 28-11 Minnesota Vikings 
Buffalo Bills 31-28 Miami Dolphins 
San Francisco 49ers 31-13 New York Jets 
Los Angeles Rams 37-19 Philadelphia Eagles 
Pittsburgh Steelers 26-21 Denver Broncos 
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-17 Carolina Panthers
Arizona Cardinals 30-15 Washington Football Team
Kansas City Chiefs 23-20 Los Angeles Chargers
Baltimore Ravens 33-16 Houston Texans
Seattle Seahawks 35-30 New England Patriots

Tom Brady's Tampa Bay Buccaneers debut did not go according to plan, while last season's Super Bowl participants the San Francisco 49ers started their 2020 NFL campaign with a loss.

Legendary quarter Brady struggled as the Buccaneers went down 34-23 to the New Orleans Saints in Week 1 on Sunday.

As for the 49ers, they were upstaged by Kyler Murray's Arizona Cardinals 24-20 in San Francisco.

 

BRADY'S BUCS BEATEN

Brady has taken his Super Bowl-winning expertise to Tampa Bay, but the six-time NFL champion endured a tough debut against NFC South champions the Saints.

A high-profile recruit from the New England Patriots following 20 years in Foxborough, Brady threw two interceptions in the team's season opener.

The 43-year-old had a pick-six, finishing 23 of 36 for 239 yards and two touchdowns, while he was sacked three times.

Brady started well, scoring a two-yard touchdown. He led a nine-play, 85-yard drive, completing his two passes for 37 yards before running the ball into the endzone for the first points of the game.

But Brady turned the ball over twice, with the second turnover resulting in a touchdown for the Saints' Janoris Jenkins.

It was a far better outing for fellow veteran quarterback Drew Brees, who passed for 160 yards and two touchdowns, without turning the ball over – throwing TD passes to Alvin Kamara and Emmanuel Sanders in New Orleans.

 

CARDINALS RALLY AMID GAROPPOLO WOES

The Cardinals – led by their star QB Murray – completed a comeback to upstage the highly rated 49ers on the road.

Murray's throw to DeAndre Hopkins set up Kenyan Drake's one-yard score with just over five minutes remaining as the Cardinals topped the 49ers.

The Cardinals overcame a pair of fourth-quarter deficits thanks to Murray, who threw for 230 yards and a touchdown, while running for 91 yards and another score.

It came as 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo struggled as criticism grows.

After a disappointing display in the Super Bowl loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, further questions have been raised after Garoppolo led just one scoring drive in the second half.

Garoppolo finished 19 of 33 for 259 yards and two touchdowns, and he missed two crucial throws, with 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan saying: "He's gotta play better. We've all gotta play better. The entire offense missed opportunities."

 

RAMS OPEN NEW STADIUM WITH WIN

In their first game at SoFi Stadium, the Los Angeles Rams topped the Dallas Cowboys 20-17 behind a career-high 79 yards and two touchdowns from Malcolm Brown.

Rams quarterback Jared Goff passed for 275 yards, while Cowboys counterpart Dak Prescott was 25 of 39 for 266 yards and a touchdown.

Number one draft pick Joe Burrow put the Cincinnati Bengals in a position to claim a dramatic last-gasp win over the Los Angeles Chargers.

But after running 23 yards for a touchdown, Burrow watched Randy Bullock miss a 31-yard field goal with seven seconds to play as the Chargers prevailed 16-13.

 

Week 1 scores:

Seattle Seahawks 38-25 Atlanta Falcons
Baltimore Ravens 38-6 Cleveland Browns
Buffalo Bills 27-17 New York Jets
Las Vegas Raiders 34-30 Carolina Panthers
Chicago Bears 27-23 Detroit Lions
Jacksonville Jaguars 27-20 Indianapolis Colts
Green Bay Packers 43-34 Minnesota Vikings
New England Patriots 21-11 Miami Dolphins
Washington Football Team 27-17 Philadelphia Eagles
Arizona Cardinals 24-20 San Francisco 49ers
New Orleans Saints 34-23 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Los Angeles Chargers 16-13 Cincinnati Bengals
Los Angeles Rams 20-17 Dallas Cowboys

The new NFL playoff format will see seven teams from each conference reach the postseason, and that presents the division widely regarded as the league's best with an opportunity for history.

A realignment of divisions following the addition of the Houston Texans to the league in 2002 had made it impossible for four teams from the same division to reach the playoffs.

That is no longer the case in the wake of playoff expansion, though, providing the NFC West with the chance to do what the five-team AFC East last did back in 1998.

With division champions the San Francisco 49ers still considered the class of the NFC by many and the Seattle Seahawks, Los Angeles Rams and Arizona Cardinals all likely to be competitive, there is a clear possibility all four could be playing postseason football come January.

How likely is that? Here we look at each team to assess the chances of the NFC West having three wild card teams to go with its division winner.

San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers are attempting to avenge their Super Bowl LIV agony. Kyle Shanahan's team were minutes away from lifting the Lombardi Trophy before Patrick Mahomes propelled the Kansas City Chiefs to glory.

It is typically usual for great defensive teams as the 49ers were in 2019 to experience some kind of regression and San Francisco traded All-Pro defensive tackle DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts in the offseason.

However, the Niners still have a ferocious pass rush and a dynamic offense overseen by arguably the league's premier play-caller in Shanahan. The addition of seven-time Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams as a replacement for the retired Joe Staley could see a devastating running game get even better while tight end George Kittle is the most versatile offensive weapon in the game.

The question surrounds quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo – maligned by some after the Super Bowl loss – and whether he can take the step forward to keep the Niners atop the conference. With Shanahan calling the plays, the smart money is on Garoppolo and the 49ers silencing the doubters.

Seattle Seahawks

On offense, the Seahawks are the inverse of the 49ers. There are no doubts about their quarterback but there are plenty around the coaching staff's ability to maximize his MVP skill set.

Despite Seattle's bizarre focus on running the ball rather than putting the game in the hands of Russell Wilson, they have missed the playoffs only twice in Pete Carroll's 10 seasons as head coach and the Seahawks were inches away from beating the 49ers in Week 17 and winning the division last year.

There are concerns about the pass rush after Jadeveon Clowney was not re-signed but an underrated secondary was significantly bolstered by the acquisition of All-Pro safety Jamal Adams in a blockbuster trade.

The hope will be that Adams can slow down Kittle and the 49ers. That may be wishful thinking but, as long as Wilson is around to perform his trademark late-game heroics, there appears little chance of Seattle missing out on an expanded postseason.

Los Angeles Rams

Had playoff expansion happened before last season, the Rams would have made the postseason in 2019, a fact that serves as evidence their 'Super Bowl hangover' was not as bad as perceived.

Head coach Sean McVay was overshadowed by Shanahan last year but he remains among the league's best in terms of play-calling acumen. He should continue to put Jared Goff in favourable positions in 2020 but the success of the Rams' quest to get back to the playoffs hinges on two things: their offensive line and their defensive coordinator.

Injuries and a decline in performance from the O-Line was a significant factor in a disappointing 2019 for Los Angeles. They chose to bring back veteran left tackle Andrew Whitworth and the hope is that better continuity up front will fuel a committee group of runners to production the departed Todd Gurley was unable to deliver last year.

Brandon Staley is a relative unknown that has the huge responsibility of replacing legendary defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. To his advantage is that he gets to coach perennial Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald and the new highest-paid cornerback in football Jalen Ramsey.

If he delivers a resurgence on that side of the ball, expect the Rams to again be a force in the NFC.

Arizona Cardinals

After an Offensive Rookie of the Year season from 2019 first overall pick Kyler Murray, the Cardinals have been the darlings of the offseason.

The stunning trade for All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins won them more admirers who anticipate an exciting offense helping Arizona challenge in the division.

While the NFL is an offense-first league, there is not enough on defense in Arizona to provide the support needed for the Cardinals to contend for the division title.

Pass rusher Chandler Jones is frequently in the Defensive Player of the Year mix and Budda Baker is a versatile playmaker at safety, but a lack of talent elsewhere on defense should stymie their hopes of an NFC West crown.

The offense could be productive enough to keep them in the mix for a wild card berth, however, in a loaded conference, Arizona's shortcomings when Murray is not on the field may just be what stops the entire NFC West from going to the playoffs in 2020.

There has perhaps never been a tougher year to be a rookie in the NFL.

With the coronavirus pandemic decimating offseason practice schedules and preventing any preseason games from taking place, 2020's crop of first-year players will start their pro careers having had very little time to adapt.

Yet, even in exceptional circumstances, there are still plenty of players from a talented rookie class with the chance to excel in their maiden season.

Here we look at 10 rookies to watch in the 2020 campaign.

 

Joe Burrow - QB, Cincinnati Bengals

The first overall pick in the 2020 draft will look to carry arguably the greatest season by a quarterback in the history of college football into his rookie year into the pros. Should he succeed, it will likely result in a quick turnaround for a moribund Bengals franchise. The reports from training camp suggest he is a position to do just that.

KEY STAT: Burrow's 60 passing touchdowns for National Champions LSU were the most in a single season by a college football quarterback.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire - RB, Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs used the final pick of the first round to select Burrow's former LSU team-mate. With Super Bowl hero Damien Williams opting out of the season, Edwards-Helaire has been a consensus first-round pick in fantasy drafts and - entering the league's most explosive offense - this do-it-all running back is in a situation to enjoy a monster rookie season.

KEY STAT: Of running backs selected in the 2020 draft, only Raymond Calais (7.5) - a seventh-round pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers - had a higher yards per touch average than Edwards-Helaire (6.9) in 2019.

Chase Young - DE, Washington Football Team

Young was an easy pick for Washington with the second overall selection. Some believe his upside is greater than last season's Defensive Rookie of the Year Nick Bosa, who was taken in the same spot by the 49ers in 2019. Playing on a defensive line stacked with first-round talent, Young has the ability to replicate the impact his former Ohio State team-mate had for San Francisco with a Washington team that has few bright spots.

KEY STAT: Despite serving a two-game suspension Young's 16.5 sacks were the most in the NCAA last season.

Tua Tagovailoa - QB, Miami Dolphins

Tagovailoa will have to wait for his NFL debut after veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick was named the 2020 starter. That is not much of a surprise given Tagovailoa has not played a game since dislocating his hip for Alabama in November. However, given the frenetic nature of Fitzpatrick's play, the fifth overall pick should eventually get a chance to prove he, and not Burrow, was the best quarterback in the class.

KEY STAT: Tagovailoa led the NCAA in touchdown percentage in 2019, with 33 (13.1 per cent) of his 252 pass attempts resulting in scores.

Brandon Aiyuk - WR, San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers traded up from 31 to 25 to select wide receiver Aiyuk with their second pick of the first round. When a play-caller of Kyle Shanahan's talents makes such a move, the rest of the league needs to take notice. Aiyuk has reportedly started to vindicate that decision with impressive performances in training camp and has the skillset to make one of the league's premier offenses even more devastating in 2020.

KEY STAT: Aiyuk averaged 18.2 yards per touch in 2019 for Arizona State. Of wide receivers selected only CeeDee Lamb (19) - the first-round pick of the Dallas Cowboys - averaged more.

Isaiah Simmons - LB, Arizona Cardinals

Aiming to help the Cardinals slow down the 49ers offense will be Cardinals first-round pick Simmons, who can operate as a linebacker, safety and even occasionally as a cornerback. His remarkable blend of size and athleticism gives Simmons the potential to be a true position-less player on defense and the key to him thriving as a rookie will be defensive coordinator Vance Joseph making the most of his physical attributes.

KEY STAT: Simmons showed his versatility in his final season at Clemson, recording eight sacks, three interceptions and eight pass breakups.

Antoine Winfield Jr. - S, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

While there has been so much focus on the Buccaneers' offense following the arrival of Tom Brady, the defense also looks championship-ready and Winfield can be a crucial contributor in his first year. The second-round pick is the son of former Pro Bowl defensive back Antoine Winfield Sr. and the same playmaking ability his father had has been apparent in Tampa Bay's preparations for a season where expectations will be extremely high.

KEY STAT: Winfield's seven interceptions for Minnesota in 2019 were the fourth-most in college football.

Jalen Hurts - QB, Philadelphia Eagles

Hurts' selection in the second round by the Eagles caused a stir, but Hurts will not be displacing Carson Wentz as starter, at least not yet anyway. It is likely, though, that the Eagles use Hurts as runner in the red zone, the former Alabama and Oklahoma quarterback having the dual-threat ability to add another dimension to the Philadelphia offense.

KEY STAT: The 3,274 rushing yards Hurts gained from 2016 to the end of the 2019 season were the third-most by a quarterback in that span.

Cam Akers - RB, Los Angeles Rams

With Todd Gurley now a member of the Atlanta Falcons, second-round pick Akers will carry much of the burden of reviving the Rams' running game in 2020. Having excelled in college despite playing behind a poor offensive line at Florida State, Akers should be confident of making a successful transition to the pros for a Rams team that also had a fair share of struggles in the trenches last season.

KEY STAT: Akers averaged 93.3 scrimmage yards per game in three seasons at Florida State, with that number the third-highest among running backs in the Atlantic Coast Conference between 2017 and 2019.

Jonathan Taylor - RB, Indianapolis Colts

Second-round pick Taylor is set to step into a heavy-duty role in the Colts backfield as a rookie. He should get a larger share of the carries than team-mate Marlon Mack, who is a free agent at the end of the season, and will be the favoured back in the red zone. If he performs as he did during a stellar collegiate career at Wisconsin, Taylor will be in the Offensive Rookie of the Year conversation.

KEY STAT: Taylor averaged 150 rushing yards per game during in his career at Wisconsin (2017-19), the highest average of any running back in college football in that timeframe.

DeAndre Hopkins has signed a two-year extension with the Arizona Cardinals, according to reports, making him the highest-paid non-quarterback in NFL history.

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported Hopkins' deal is worth $54.5million in new money, an average of $27.25m per year.

Hopkins will receive $42.75m guaranteed at signing and, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, is now tied to the Cardinals for five years for a total of $94m.

The deal keeps Hopkins under contract through the 2024 season and follows his stunning trade from the Houston Texans.

Hopkins was dealt, along with a fourth-round pick, to the Cardinals in return for running back David Johnson, a second-round pick and a 2021 fourth-rounder.

A first-round pick by the Texans in 2013, Hopkins is a four-time Pro Bowler and three-time first-team All-Pro who is expected to have a significant impact for an offense helmed by 2019 Offensive Rookie of the Year Kyler Murray.

He led the NFL in receiving touchdowns in 2017 and has five seasons with 1,000 receiving yards in seven years in the league.

Hopkins is poised to make his Cardinals debut on Sunday when they visit division rivals and reigning NFC champions the San Francisco 49ers.

Multiple NFL teams cancelled their Thursday practices in response to the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

The New York Jets, Green Bay Packers, Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans, Arizona Cardinals, Washington Football Team and Los Angeles Chargers were among those not to take to the field.

It comes amid widespread protests in the Unites States following the shooting of Blake, who was repeatedly shot in the back by police on Sunday.

His father said he has been left paralysed from the waist down.

Washington were the first to cancel practice, their decision coming shortly after the Milwaukee Bucks boycotted Game 5 of their first-round NBA Eastern Conference series against the Orlando Magic.

All of Wednesday and Thursday's NBA playoff games were postponed.

The Cardinals were among those to cancel their practice entirely, with head coach Kliff Kingsbury later addressing the media to explain the decision.

"What happened to Jacob Blake was horrendous and it has to stop," he said.

"I know it sounds hollow at times because you hear the same things over and over, but we wanted to make sure our players know that we support them and we're here for them.

"There's time where football takes a backburner and we felt like this was one of those moments as an organisation. 

"We wanted our players to know that we support them and want them to have a day to be with their families, be able to reflect on things, be around friends, be around each other and then use the day to help make that change the way to see.

"Whether it's on social media, using that platform that they have, or if it's going to register to vote or trying to get other people set up to register to vote, we just wanted them to know this is their day and I felt like it was important to our organisation."

Cardinals running back Kenyan Drake wrote on Twitter: "We have the day off today to educate and reflect on who we are as individuals and here we need to progress as people. 

"I'm honoured to be in an organisation of men and women who lead the charge for change in this country."

Jets running back Le'Veon Bell appeared to send a message to the NFL when he wrote: "We've been protecting the shield. It's time for the shield to protect us."

New Orleans Saints players did take to the field, with each player wearing a helmet with Blake's name written on it.

The Pittsburgh Steelers also practiced, and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger told reporters: "Everyone has the choice to choose to what level and what degree they want to use their platform.

"I think the biggest thing right now is to listen to my African-American team-mates and friends that aren't even in football just to get a better understanding to educate myself."

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins has returned to practice after missing three days with hamstring tightness.

Hopkins was stunningly traded to the Cardinals from the Houston Texans in the offseason for the meagre return of a 2020 second-round pick, a 2021 fourth and running back David Johnson.

There had been speculation Hopkins was holding out because the Cardinals have not given him a new contract, something he was said to have requested from the Texans prior to his shock trade.

He put that to bed on Twitter on Tuesday and his return to the field will be a welcome sight for a Cardinals team looking to contend in the NFC West in 2020.

Hopkins is a four-time Pro Bowler and three-time first-team All-Pro who led the NFL in receiving touchdowns in 2017 and has topped 1,000 yards in five of his seven seasons.

The Cardinals finished 5-10-1 and last in the NFC West last season but are expected to improve after quarterback Kyler Murray, the first overall pick in the 2019 draft, was named Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Arizona Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill has been released from a hospital in Rhode Island after undergoing treatment for COVID-19.  

The team announced the news in a statement on Monday, saying that Bidwill – who tested positive for the novel coronavirus last week after spending time on the East Coast – had his symptoms subside over the weekend.  

"This week I learned first-hand just how serious COVID-19 is," Bidwill said in the statement. "I'm very fortunate to have this experience behind me and strongly encourage everyone to continue practicing the important measures to avoid it themselves.” 

The state of Arizona saw a large spike in confirmed COVID-19 cases at the end of June and beginning of July. According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, the state has reported over 44,000 new cases since July 1.  

The club said that Bidwill has been working remotely since NFL facilities were shut down in March.  

Despite a flurry of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. in recent months, the NFL still plans to open training camps by the end of the month and kick off the season on September 10.  

The league and the players' union have yet to come to an agreement on testing protocols and safety measures for the season.

Arizona Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill has been hospitalised after testing positive for COVID-19.

The team said Bidwill had been traveling recently and was not feeling well this week, with a headache and fever. After testing positive,  Bidwill admitted himself to a hospital in Rhode Island following a recommendation by his doctor.

The Cardinals said his symptoms have subsided and he is expected to be released this weekend.

Bidwill has been working remotely since March and the team said he has not had in-person contact with coaches or players.

The 55-year-old Bidwill has been president of the family-owned team since 2007 after previously serving as vice-president and general counsel. His father and previous team owner, Bill, passed away in October.

Intent on being a solution to the problem of systemic racism in society, Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray said he will join the growing list of NFL players who plan to kneel during the playing of the United States' national anthem this season.

Several players are planning to kneel during the upcoming season amid protests in the USA, and Murray will join that group.

"Yeah, I'll be kneeling," the 2019 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year told reporters on Wednesday during a Zoom conference. "I stand for what's right, that's the bottom line. I call it like I see it. I'll definitely be taking a knee."

Murray also praised the swarm of peaceful protests around the country sparked by the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25, calling them a step towards ending racial injustice and police brutality.

"There is a lot of hate in this world, but at the same time, what's happening and what we're seeing right now, it's huge," he said. "I don't condone rioting and stuff like that, but the peaceful protests, I think they're great, they're amazing. Whether it takes years, I feel like we're getting there. At least we're making a step towards it."

As a high-profile black quarterback, Murray added that he believes he bears a responsibility to be more vocal on issues such as social justice and race relations than he was as a rookie.

"If it's wrong, I'm going to say it's wrong. I feel like, personally, it's on everybody to hold each other accountable, but more so from me," he said.

"If you've got white friends that feel this certain type of way, don't understand what's going on, it's on me to educate them as well as black, Hispanic, any other ethnicity.

"We're all human and I feel like we should all be treated equally. I don't get the debate on why anyone shouldn't be treated equally because of their skin colour. It doesn't make sense to me, but it is what it is right now and we're trying to fix it."

Murray's comments came on the same day the Cardinals announced they will make June 19 – the day slaves were officially declared free by the US government following the end of the American Civil War – a permanent holiday within the organisation.

The 2019 number one overall pick is one of several Cardinals players, including long-time wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who have actively spoken out about Floyd's killing and race relations in recent weeks. He is also the second starting quarterback to publicly state he will be kneeling during the anthem, joining Cleveland Browns star Baker Mayfield, a close friend of Murray and a former college team-mate at Oklahoma.

The Arizona Cardinals cancelled meetings on Thursday to allow their players to remember George Floyd.

Floyd died in police custody in Minneapolis last week, sparking protests at police brutality and racial injustice across the United States and beyond.

The Cardinals issued a statement on Monday saying they were "committed" to being part of a "meaningful societal change".

Three days later running back Kenyan Drake revealed players of the NFC West franchise had been given the day off meetings in order to honour Floyd.

"Cardinals have granted us the day off from meetings to honour George Floyd's memorial," he wrote on Twitter.

"We are but a small cog in a big machine but gestures like these create dialogue and expands the vision to help take the next steps for a better tomorrow. Peace and love."

The Diamondbacks welcomed Arizona's announcement that professional sport can resume in the state without fans on Saturday amid the coronavirus pandemic.

COVID-19 has wreaked havoc globally, suspending the NBA and NHL seasons, while delaying the start of the 2020 MLB campaign.

The United States has been the hardest country hit, with more than 1.4 million confirmed cases and over 83,400 deaths.

But on Tuesday, Arizona governor Doug Ducey opened the door for sport to return to the state, albeit behind closed doors.

"We have had discussions with leaders with some of these leagues, and they all know they are welcome to operate, play and perform in the state of Arizona," Ducey said.

"It would be, at this point in time, according to the CDC guidelines, without fans. We could do that safely in the state of Arizona beginning May 16."

In a boost for MLB franchise the Diamondbacks, president Derrick Hall said in a statement: "I was pleased to hear the governor's comments on the state's willingness to allow sporting events in a controlled environment.

"We have been in constant communication and he has consistently shown cooperation and support to us and league leadership. Both he and I have made it clear we are more than willing to be part of a solution if there is a need for us to host more teams or games."

In a statement to the Arizona Republic, NFL team the Arizona Cardinals said: "We would still need the NFL to green-light the return to team facilities and resume activities."

Meanwhile, the NHL's Arizona Coyotes said: "We are aware of governor Ducey's announcement and will await direction from the NHL."

J.J. Watt conceded it was tough to lose DeAndre Hopkins as a Houston Texans team-mate but admitted the decision to trade him to the Arizona Cardinals was "above his pay grade".

All-Pro wide receiver Hopkins was stunningly dealt to the Cardinals in March for a second-round draft pick and running back David Johnson.

The deal, made by head coach Bill O'Brien, who acts as the Texans de facto general manager, drew widespread criticism.

Watt, along with quarterback Deshaun Watson, is one of the faces of the franchise. The three-time Defensive Player of the Year was unwilling to criticise the Texans' decision to part with another of the team's superstars.

In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Watt said: "Anytime you have a guy like Hop, who in my opinion, has the best hands in the game and is obviously one of the top receivers of the game, it certainly catches your eye, that's for sure.

"It's always tough to lose a guy like that, no matter what the situation is.

"It's above my pay grade and it's something that obviously the team and the organisation feels is in the best interest of the team.

"So as a player on the team, I do my job and I go to work and I play the games, and the GM and the owners, they do their job and they try and do what they feel is best for the team.

"And so, all I can do is show up and go to work and hope that all the guys that we have are great contributors to our team."

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