Tagged in: NFL

LB Irvin to make season debut for Panthers

Just a week removed from one of the best pass-rushing performances in franchise history, the defensive front that produced six sacks of eight total sacks against Arizona is getting a boost.

Head coach Ron Rivera announced on Thursday that defensive end Bruce Irvin will make his Panthers debut on Sunday against the Texans.

Irvin missed the first three games of the season after suffering a hamstring injury during preseason practice.

“Having watched him today in practice, I feel very comfortable with having him out there,” Rivera said. “He’ll play on Sunday, so pretty excited about that. He had a good day and it was a lot of fun to watch, it really was.”

Last week against the Cardinals, the Panthers were without longtime defensive tackle Kawann Short, who was sidelined with a shoulder injury. As a result, rookies along the defensive front, like edge rushers Brian Burns and Christian Miller, stepped into the spotlight, as well as veteran defensive end Mario Addison. But as impressive as the young guys have been, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said there’s just something different about lining up next to an eight-year veteran.

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“He’s a vet,” McCoy said of Irvin. “His mind, just overall, his experience. The young guys have been doing great, but it’ll be great to have another vet out there that’s put in his time in the league. It’ll help out a lot, big time.”

It’s not just the big guys up front who are ready to have Irvin back. Linebacker Luke Kuechly said he’s excited to see the veteran return.

“Bruce has been waiting to come back, he’s worked real hard to get back,” Kuechly said. “When you bring a guy like that in who’s got great energy, I think guys are excited to have him back. He brings energy, brings some speed off the edge. He’s a real physical player and I think he’s going to do a really good job for us.”

Rivera said he expects the unit to take a few plays to get used to having a new player in the mix, but once the defense does adjust, Irvin’s presence will benefit everyone.

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Brady, limited in practice again, says age a factor

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has been limited in three of the last four drills and cited his age as part of the reason why.

“Football is a contact sport. I wouldn’t” I say I’m a spring chicken anymore, 42-year-old Brady said with a smile Wednesday. “I’m just trying to feel as good as I can and we’ll see how it goes tomorrow. But I’m feeling pretty good.”

There is little doubt that Brady will play Sunday against the Buffalo Bills in a highly anticipated matchup of 3-0 teams. But his limited practice load seems to be part of “roster management” head coach Bill Belichick, who is referred to the team signing free-agent quarterback Cody Kessler on Wednesday.

With Brady limited to practice twice last week, the only other quarterback on the watch list was rookie Jarrett Stidham. Having Stidham handle the regular offense, besides the scout team, was a heavy burden.

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Brady was one of 10 restricted players in practice Wednesday

A group that included receiver Julian Edelman, who injured his ribs in Sunday’s win over the New York Jets. X-rays were negative, but Edelman seems to be dealing with remarkable pain after being landed by 300-pound defensive lineman Henry Anderson.

“He’s as tough as they come,” Brady said. “He’s going to do everything he can to get ready to go. When he’s not out, it definitely becomes apparent to all of us. Hopefully he can do it. If he can’t, the other guys have to fill in and do the best job they can do. You just have to prepare for both. “

Sunday’s game features the NFL’s two most difficult teams, as the Patriots have allowed an average of 5.7 points per game in wins over the Pittsburgh Steelers, Miami Dolphins and Jets, which is a combined 0-9.

The Bills have allowed an average of 15.7 points per game in wins over the Jets, New York Giants and Cincinnati Bengals, which is a combined 1-8.

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Patriots lose key cog in offense, put Develin on IR and bring Johnson as replacement

The New England Patriots, who are one of the few teams in the NFL that still features the fullback position, sustained a blow to their offense Monday when James Develin was placed on injured reserve.

Develin, who was the AFC’s fullback in the 2017 Pro Bowl, had suffered a neck injury in the team’s Week 2 victory over Miami.

Teams can bring up to two players back from injured reserve during the season, and left tackle Isaiah Wynn (foot/toe) and wide receiver N’Keal Harry (leg) seem to be the Patriots’ top candidates, barring any setbacks. If that is the way it turns out, it would mean Develin’s season is over.

Develin’s work as a lead blocker was instrumental in the offense morphing into a power rushing attack late last season, a switch that helped spark the team to a Super Bowl LIII victory. Captain Matthew Slater said late Monday that Develin is as good of a teammate as he has had in 12 NFL seasons.

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Slater also praised Johnson, his replacement, for his work ethic after initially joining the Patriots on April 8 as part of the NFL’s International Pathway program.

Johnson was born in Stuttgart, Germany, played college football at Tennessee, and spent 2018 with the Stuttgart Scorpions of the German Football League.

When Johnson was assigned to the Patriots on April 8, he faced long odds to stick around.

“He was not on our radar. I don’t think we would have ever signed him,” coach Bill Belichick acknowledged on Monday, adding that a recommendation by former Tennessee coach Butch Jones gave him some assurance that Johnson would be a hard worker. “I would say he definitely started out as the 91st person on the roster and had a long, long, long way to go. Back in the spring, I don’t think anybody ever envisioned him being on the roster at that point, or even being on the practice squad, to tell you the truth.

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New England Patriots at Denver Broncos

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Date: Sunday, Jan. 24
Time: 3:05 p.m. ET
Venue: Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver

This season’s AFC championship game looks very familiar, with the New England Patriots battling it out with the Denver Broncos. These two teams are the best when it comes to quarterback power — Tom Brady of the Pats and Peyton Manning of the Broncos. And what’s even more interesting is that these two American football greats will be facing each other in a rather colorful rivalry spanning more than a decade.

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This matchup will be a little different, however. Peyton Manning, not Brock Osweiler, will be the Broncos’ quarterback, and the Patriots will have receivers Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola, linebacker Dont’a Hightower and tight end Rob Gronkowski back and healthy. Jamie Collins, who injured his back Saturday against the Chiefs, also could play after missing the regular-season matchup. The Patriots lost Hightower and Gronkowski to injuries during the game earlier this season before the Broncos won in overtime. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s receivers were Brandon LaFell, Keshawn Martin and Chris Harper (yikes) with Edelman and Amendola out with injuries

The New England Patriots hope to clinch their third Super Bowl appearance since the 2011 season. Tom Brady is completing 66.7 percent of his passes for 302 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions. Brady has three touchdown passes in his last three games. Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski have combined for 183 receiving yards and two touchdowns while Keshawn Martin has two receptions. The New England Patriots ground game is averaging 38 yards per contest, and Steven Jackson leads the way with 16 yards on six carries. Defensively, New England is allowing 20 points and 378 yards per game. Patrick Chung leads the Patriots with nine tackles, Chandler Jones has a sack and Dont’a Hightower has a pass deflection.

The Denver Broncos look to reach their second Super Bowl in the last three seasons. Peyton Manning is completing 56.8 percent of his passes for 222 yards, zero touchdowns and zero interceptions. Manning has two touchdown passes in his last five games. Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas have combined for 125 receiving yards while Bennie Fowler has two receptions. The Denver Broncos ground game is averaging 109 yards per contest, and C.J. Anderson leads the way with 72 yards and one touchdown. Defensively, Denver is allowing 16 points and 396 yards per game. Danny Trevathan leads the Broncos with nine tackles, Derek Wolfe has one sack and Aqib Talib has two pass deflections.

The Patriots are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 road games and 1-3-1 ATS in their last 5 games following a straight up win. The Broncos are 0-3-1 ATS in their last 4 home games and 3-1-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record. The Patriots are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 meetings in Denver and 5-2 ATS in their last 7 meetings overall.

The Broncos defense is good enough to keep them in this game, but Manning is less than a shell of himself. The Broncos struggle to run the football and have a quarterback who can’t throw the ball like he used to. Brady has his weapons back, and the Pats are back to being that scary football team that’s hard to stop

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Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers

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While everyone is focused on the other conference championship featuring the rivalry of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, the NFC title game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Carolina Panthers has what it takes to grab the spotlight this Sunday.

The Panthers have been superb defensively all season long, and when that defense is tested by one of the league’s best offenses from the Cardinals, it’s a kind of game that shouldn’t be missed.

The Arizona Cardinals hope to reach their first Super Bowl since the 2008 season. Carson Palmer is completing 61 percent of his passes for 349 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Palmer has six touchdown passes in his last three games. Larry Fitzgerald and John Brown have combined for 258 receiving yards and one touchdown while Michael Floyd has three receptions. The Arizona Cardinals ground game is averaging 40 yards per contest, and David Johnson leads the way with 35 yards on 15 carries. Defensively, Arizona is allowing 20 points and 386 yards per game. Tony Jefferson leads the Cardinals with nine tackles, Dwight Freeney has one sack and Jerraud Powers has two pass deflections.

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The Carolina Panthers look for their first Super Bowl appearance since the 2003 season. Cam Newton is completing 72.7 percent of his passes for 161 yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions. Newton has three touchdown passes in his last three games. Greg Olsen and Jerricho Cotchery have combined for 99 receiving yards and one touchdown while Ed Dickson has two receptions. The Carolina Panthers ground game is averaging 144 yards per contest, and Jonathan Stewart leads the way with 106 yards and two touchdowns. Defensively, Carolina is allowing 24 points and 403 yards per game. Luke Kuechly leads the Panthers with 11 tackles, Josh Norman has a sack and Robert McClain has one pass deflection. Foswhitt Whittaker is questionable and Jared Allen is doubtful.

The Arizona Cardinals struggled to run the ball well against the Green Bay Packers in their playoff game last week. It is fair to ask if they will be able to do anything against Carolina, considering their defense. Center Lyle Sendlein knows they have to do better.

He was asked if Green Bay really stacked the box against them in their game on Saturday. Sendlein said “not really.”

“We should have had a little more success in the run game against Green Bay,” he explained. “We have things in the game plan for when they do stack the box, and we still didn’t execute so it’s something if we want to keep playing, we’ve got to improve our run game.”

And they have themselves a challenge in Carolina, where the Panthers are the league’s fourth-best defense against the rush.

“We see them as the best defense in the league,” Sendlein said. “Their front seven is something special, so we’ll have our challenges this week.”

Head coach Bruce Arians indicated they don’t need to run the ball to take the pressure off the passing game, “because that’s who we are on offense,” but they need to do it more effectively

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Chicago Bulls vs Charlotte Hornets

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Chicago Bulls (3-1) at Charlotte Hornets (0-3)
NBA Basketball: Tuesday, November 3, 2015 at 7:00 pm (Time Warner Cable Arena)
The Line: Charlotte Hornets +4 — Over/Under: 193

The Chicago Bulls look for their second road win to get off to a fast 4-1 start. The Chicago Bulls are averaging 99.5 points on 43.5 percent shooting and allowing 95 points on 39.6 percent shooting. Jimmy Butler is averaging 19.5 points and six rebounds while Nikola Mirotic is averaging 18.8 points and 6.8 rebounds. Pau Gasol is grabbing 7.8 rebounds and Derrick Rose is dishing 5.5 assists. The Chicago Bulls are allowing just 24.7 percent shooting from deep and have won 11 of their last 14 regular season games when allowing less than 100 points. The Bulls are playing as well as you could have hoped under new coach Fred Hoiberg. Kirk Hinrich is questionable with a toe injury.

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The Charlotte Hornets need a win after a tough 0-3 start to the year. The Charlotte Hornets are averaging 93.3 points on 39.1 percent shooting and allowing 98.3 points on 44.7 percent shooting. Kemba Walker is averaging 16.3 points and 5.3 assists while Nicolas Batum is averaging 13 points and 7.3 rebounds. Marvin Williams is grabbing nine rebounds and Jeremy Lin is dishing 3.3 assists. The Charlotte Hornets are getting just 58.7 points from their starters and are one of six teams that is shooting under 40 percent. The offensive struggles for the Hornets have clearly carried over from last season. The good news is that four of the Hornets last five wins have come on their home court.

The Bulls are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 road games and 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games overall. The Hornets are 3-0-1 ATS in their last 4 games vs. a team with a winning S.U. record and 3-1-1 ATS in their last 5 games overall. The Bulls are 6-2 ATS in the last 8 meetings in Charlotte.

Pay attention to Frank Kaminsky and Spencer Hawes in this game, too. Kaminsky, despite limited playing time so far, has almost unquestionably played better than Hawes so far, and it’s only a matter of time before the rookie overtakes the veteran in minutes. There might not be a better time to illustrate the difference between the player’s abilities early in the season than this game, where athletic big men will have to play a large role no matter what.

The Hornets have played well so far, but not well enough to earn a win just yet. Despite playing against perhaps the biggest challenger for the Eastern Conference title, the Hornets will have a pretty good shot to get their first win of the season on their home court.

Observations

▪  Bulls big man Joakim Noah has bought into coming off the bench, which allows the Bulls to start Nikola Mirotic at power forward, where he’s is a classic “stretch 4.”

▪  If the Hornets don’t win tonight, there is a distinct possibility they could start the season 0-6, facing a tough trip to Dallas and San Antonio.

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Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers

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The San Francisco 49ers face the Seattle Seahawks in Week 7 of the regular season. The game takes place on Thursday, October 22 at 5:25 p.m. PT at Levi’s® Stadium.

Both teams enter the contest with 2-4 records. So this game isn’t just another chapter of this heated rivalry but also, perhaps, a last chance for either team to save its playoff chances in 2015.

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The Seahawks were pegged by many to make a triumphant return to the Super Bowl again this season after their heartbreaking loss last year but with the way things are going at the moment things are bleak and they could very well find themselves with a sub .500 record when it’s all said and done. The Hawks haven’t been able to utilize Jimmy Graham in the way he was used in New Orleans and Marshawn Lynch has had to battle injury woes and as such they are just 2-4 on the year and are three games behind the Arizona Cardinals. Russell Wilson needs to get this group together and put their frustrations aside or things might get even uglier as Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman were at each others throats last week and that could be the beginning of the end of the Legion of Doom.
The Niners meanwhile sport an identical 2-4 mark and head into Thursday night’s game as a four point underdog. San Fran hasn’t been able to get things going under Jim Tomsula and while they have some play makers on the offensive side of the ball we haven’t seen a breakout from them yet. Carlos Hyde has been the line bright spot for the Niners this season as he will continue to be one of the game’s better runners moving forward but with San Fran playing from behind a lot his yards haven’t been as impacting and as such San Fran is well back of Arizona and are a long shot to even finish with eight wins this season.

LAST MEETING

The 49ers officially were eliminated from playoff contention when they fell 17-7 at Seattle on Dec. 14. It also marked the final straw for coach Jim Harbaugh, who later said he learned after this game that his tenure officially would end after two more games. That fate seemed sealed 17 days earlier, anyhow, when the 49ers lost 19-3 at home on Thanksgiving, a defeat that prompted CEO Jed York to apologize on Twitter to fans.

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New York Giants At Philadelphia Eagles

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When: 8:30 PM ET, Monday, October 19, 2015
Where: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles will face off on Monday night in a classic NFC East rivalry game. This game has huge implications on the NFL standings, as the Dallas Cowboys have a bye week and the Washington Redskins lost their week 6 game to the New York Jets.

The Giants head into Philly on Monday night looking to continue their surge in the NFC East after a three game winning streak but they will be in tough against an Eagles side that seemingly found their stride last week and will be looking to send the rabid Eagles fans home happy. The Giants have made huge strides over the last three weeks as Eli Manning seems to have the offense in a groove and while Odell Beckham has been hit and miss this season he remains one of the game’s biggest threats through the air and he will have to be on point in this one if the Giants are to pull off the victory. New York hasn’t been able to get the ground game going with a ton of efficiency but Shane Vereen was huge in the passing game last week and if the Giants continue to look his way and they can pick up good chunks of yardage it will go a long way to keeping Sam Bradford off the field which is where the Giants will operate best.

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Philadelphia has been a very interesting to watch this season as they have looked very pedestrian some weeks but world beaters the next and that type of inconsistency is going to cause heart burn for Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia faithful. On paper, the Eagles should be in the mix as NFC contenders as they have a solid ground game led by Demarco Murray and have some weapons through the air in Jordan Matthews and Riley Cooper but the success of the team will be determined by how far Sam Bradford can carry them.
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The biggest concern for the Giants is the health of stud wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who did not practice Thursday or Friday due to a hamstring injury sustained in last week’s victory. Rueben Randle will return from his own hamstring injury and provide a familiar target for Manning, who threw for 441 yards and three touchdowns while setting a franchise record with 41 completions. Middle linebacker Jon Beason suffered a concussion last week but practiced on a limited basis Friday for a defense that ranks No. 2 against the run (80.6 yards) and dead last against the pass (304.2).

 

Philadelphia finally managed to get its ground game untracked in the rout of New Orleans as offseason acquisitions DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews each scored a touchdown while rushing for 83 and 73 yards, respectively. Bradford had his second-highest output of the season with 333 yards passing to go along with a pair of TDs, but he also showed his penchant for making the costly mistake by getting intercepted twice in the red zone. The Eagles have also been vulnerable through the air, ranking 26th in the league at 279.6 yards permitted, but they have six interceptions and eight forced fumbles.

 

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Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans

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Date: Thursday, Oct. 8
Time: 8:25 p.m. ET
Venue: NRG Stadium

The Indianapolis Colts will travel to Texas for a Week 5 clash with the Houston Texans on Thursday night at NRG Stadium.

Though the Colts (2-2) stumbled out of the gates and dropped their first two games of the season, they’ve rebounded by winning two straight to surge to the top of the AFC South. However, quarterback Andrew Luck has been listed as questionable for Thursday’s game due to a shoulder injury.

Currently the Texans are averaging 50.25 pass attempts per game and completing 52.7 percent; the NFL team average for those stats are 35.5 attempts per game and a completion percentage of 64.2.

Not surprisingly after seeing the last two stats, the Texans also sit near the bottom of the league, in 29th place, for team quarterback rating.

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The Texans come into Thursday night wounded from a game in Atlanta, a 48-21 drubbing by the Falcons, and it was even worse than the final score indicates: it was 42-0 at one point. They’re 1-3 on the season, with their lone victory coming against the Buccaneersin Week 3. They’ve flipped their QB from Brian Hoyer to Ryan Mallett back to Hoyer mid-game last week, and Mallett will start his fourth straight game Thursday night. It’ll be the 4th straight game against the Texans where they’ll see a different QB (Case KeenumRyan FitzpatrickTom Savage), so the carousel that is the Houston signal caller has been going on for a while now.

Playing on the road on a Thursday night has become a Colts tradition over the years, as this will be the 13th game the Colts have played on a Thursday, and the 11th on the road since 2001, and one of those home games was the opening game of the 2007 season when they smoked the Saints after winning the Super Bowl. Now, the Colts have only lose once in those games (Week 1 2004 in NE), but it’s still a little ridiculous the Colts have been forced way more than any other team to go on the road. For instance, the Rams haven’t played a Thursday road game since 1998! Yes it’s only been 4 home games (5 this season), but that’s something the schedule makers should be advised of by the Colts this offseason.

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Detroit Lions at Seattle Seahawks

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When: 8:30 p.m. ET

Where: CenturyLink Field, Seattle

The Lions are still searching for their first win, while the defending NFC champs don’t even look like the best team in their own division. The two clubs will be under the microscope on Monday Night Football in a pivotal conference matchup at Seattle’s CenturyLink Field.

The Lions are off to their worst start since 2010, when they lost their first four games en route to a 6-10 finish. You don’t want to bury anybody after just three games, but an 0-3 start is a huge hole to crawl out of for a Lions team seeking to make back-to-back playoff appearances for the first time since the mid-90s.

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The rediscovery of Jimmy Graham and the return of Kam Chancellor helped the Seattle Seahawks put aside an 0-2 start.

Those factors as well as the performance by an undrafted rookie have lessened the concern over star running back Marshawn Lynch’s health.

Lynch, who had been dealing with a sore back and neck along with a calf injury, had a difficult time getting himself loose before last Sunday’s 26-0 victory over Chicago. He didn’t come out of the locker room until midway through the first half, rushing five times for 14 yards before injuring his hamstring.

The team announced Sunday the five-time Pro Bowler won’t play Monday after not practicing this week. He’s only missed one game since joining the Seahawks early in the 2010 season.

The Seahawks won the last two home meetings by a combined 33 points but dropped the most recent matchup 28-24 in 2012 when Stafford threw a touchdown pass with 20 seconds left.

 

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