Volunteers dismiss WR Jennings after IG rant

Volunteers dismiss WR Jennings after IG rant

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee has dismissed wide receiver Jauan Jennings from the team after he ripped the Volunteers’ coaching staff in a profanity-laced video posted on Instagram.

Vols interim coach Brady Hoke said in a statement he made the decision “in consultation with” athletic director John Currie. Hoke added that “representing the University of Tennessee football program is a privilege.”

“It was a little bit of a surprise I think to everybody, me included,” Hoke said Wednesday night on his “Vol Calls” radio show. “But after talking to John Currie and consulting with him, I know what the right thing to do is for our football team. That’s why we made that decision.”

In his video, Jennings used the words “lying,” “fake” and “snake” to describe the coaches. He said the “coaching staff [is] holding us back” and asked that Tennessee officials “bring us a coaching staff that’s honest.”

Tennessee (4-7, 0-7 SEC) fired coach Butch Jones on Nov. 12. Hoke, who had served as a defensive line coach on Jones’ staff, is Tennessee’s interim head coach for the remainder of the season.

Jennings, a junior from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, entered the year as Tennessee’s top returning receiver. But he hadn’t played since injuring his wrist in a season-opening 42-41 double-overtime victory over Georgia Tech. Jones said in mid-September that the injury would sideline Jennings for the remainder of the season.

In the video, Jennings said he wanted to return for Tennessee’s game Saturday with Vanderbilt (4-7, 0-7).

Jennings caught 40 passes for 580 yards and seven touchdowns last season. Jennings was involved in two of the most memorable plays of Tennessee’s 2016 season, as he scored a 67-yard touchdown that put the Vols ahead for good in a 38-28 victory over Florida, and caught a 43-yard Hail Mary pass as time expired in a 34-31 triumph at Georgia.

The Jennings dismissal is the latest chapter in Tennessee’s nightmare season.

Tennessee opened the year in the Top 25 but is now at risk of its first eight-loss season in school history. Tennessee must beat Vanderbilt to avoid going winless in SEC competition for the first time since the league’s formation in 1933.

Source: http://www.espn.com/college-football/story/_/id/21520391/tennessee-dismisses-injured-wide-receiver-jauan-jennings-team

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WR Woods’ injury absence will force Rams to work together

WR Woods’ injury absence will force Rams to work together

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) Robert Woods is more than a target to quarterback Jared Goff. The Los Angeles Rams’ top receiver is also an example of professionalism and hard work.

Woods has made a significant impact on the Rams in just nine games with his hometown team, catching 47 passes for 703 yards. But the Rams (7-3) have to get along without him for a few weeks while he recovers from a shoulder injury, and Goff is hopeful their offense will rise to fill the gap.

”On the field, you obviously have the numbers and all that stuff,” Goff said. ”His production has been great. But I think off the field, what his presence is at practice is something that people don’t usually see as much. So that’s kind of maybe the bigger part of it.”

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The Rams went back to work on Wednesday after their 24-7 defeat at Minnesota last week. Along with the game, Los Angeles lost Woods to an injury that will keep him out for a significant amount of time during their push for their first playoff appearance since 2004.

A little adversity probably will be good for the Rams, who hadn’t faced much this season before their powerful offense was shut down by Minnesota. Coach Sean McVay and Goff are hoping the problems don’t linger when they host the New Orleans Saints (8-2) on Sunday in Los Angeles’ second straight showdown between division leaders.

”It’s going to be kind of a group effort, and we’ve got a lot of confidence in those guys to step up,” McVay said. ”Clearly it’s a big void that we’re going to be missing with Robert and what he’s brought to this team.”

Those guys include Sammy Watkins and rookie Cooper Kupp, who have been Goff’s top two wideout targets behind Woods.

Watkins has 24 catches for 408 yards and four touchdowns since joining the Rams during the preseason. Although his targets and effectiveness have risen and fallen during the season, he remains a big, speedy component in Los Angeles’ offense.

Kupp has a few memorable drops during his rookie season, but he also has emerged as a dependable target for Goff with 38 catches for 481 yards and three scores.

Woods, Watkins and Kupp are the Rams’ top three wide receivers, but McVay’s offense spreads the ball to all eligible receivers. Running back Todd Gurley has 38 catches for 425 yards in a remarkable show of versatility, while tight ends Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett have combined for 27 receptions.

And then there’s Tavon Austin, the Rams’ former No. 1 receiver. Austin got a four-year, $42 million contract extension before last season, but the 5-foot-8 speedster has been used primarily as a change-of-pace, gadget player out of the backfield by McVay.

Austin has 36 rushes and just seven receptions this season.

”I’m just ready whenever my name gets called,” Austin said. ”We’ve got phenomenal players on this team, and other guys that can step in, too.”

Austin only played two snaps against the Vikings, and he described the afternoon as ”very tough, just because of the competitor I am. But I’m a team player, so it doesn’t really make a difference to me.”

He has primarily taken handoffs this season, but his snaps have declined in recent weeks, a circumstance that McVay is determined to change. Austin would welcome the chance to line up more frequently as a wide receiver, but after spending his first four NFL seasons on losing teams, he’s more interested in results.

”At the end of the day, there’s only one ball,” Austin said. ”I ain’t a selfish person. I’m just here, and when my name gets called, hopefully I’ll pop a big one.”

NOTES: LB Mark Barron missed Wednesday’s practice with a hand injury. CB Kayvon Webster also sat out while in the NFL’s concussion protocol, and CB Nickell Robey-Coleman rested his thigh injury. CB Troy Hill and TE Derek Carrier were full participants. McVay said it’s too early to know whether the Rams will be without one or two of their top defensive backs Sunday. … The Rams re-signed TE Johnny Mundt to their practice squad, one day after waiving the Oregon product. Los Angeles also promoted cornerback Kevin Peterson from the practice squad to the active roster.

For more NFL coverage: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

Source: https://www.foxsports.com/nfl/story/wr-woods-injury-absence-will-force-rams-to-work-together-112217

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Going head-to-head, Westbrook rules as KD returns in losing fashion

Going head-to-head, Westbrook rules as KD returns in losing fashion

Westbrook delivers virtuoso performance against Warriors (1:05)

With a couple of face-to-face moments with ex-teammate Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook records 34 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists as the Thunder top the Warriors 108-91. (1:05)

OKLAHOMA CITY — Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder finally got one on the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

In a game that featured games within the game, it was a 108-91 victory for the Thunder that produced multiple confrontations between two former teammates in Kevin Durant and Westbrook.

In his second game playing in Oklahoma City (8-9) since becoming a member of the Warriors, Durant was showered with boos upon being introduced in the starting lineup and he was booed every time he touched the ball.

Golden State (13-5) had not faced an atmosphere like this all season. The Thunder jumped on the Warriors from the outset and never really relinquished control. They led by as many as 26 points.

Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and Paul George combined for 50 points in the first half. The Warriors scored 48 as a team, their second-lowest first-half total.

Westbrook was an assist short of a triple-double, recording a game-high 34 points and 10 boards. He scored 17 of his 33 points on Stephen Curry as his primary defender.

Late in the second quarter, Westbrook denied a post entry into Durant and the ball sailed out of bounds. Westbrook turned to the Warriors’ bench and yelled, “No!” Durant pointed at Westbrook while just smiling.

Westbrook was then fouled on the other end by Draymond Green.

Green didn’t like the call, and he began clapping in the vicinity of Westbrook, and the reigning MVP began clapping back at him. The two had a few words before Westbrook went to the foul line to take his shots.

In the third quarter, tempers would flare even more.



Draymond Green draws a foul against Russell Westbrook, but Kevin Durant interferes and shares a few of his own words to Westbrook.

Halfway in, Westbrook was guarding Durant on the right wing and he almost stole the ball, slapping it out of bounds. The two began jawing at one another and inching closer. Soon, they were forehead to forehead, talking trash.

Durant was seen saying, “You’re a p—y.” Westbrook responded, “You’re soft.”

The crowd went crazy, as they loved every minute of it. The referees allowed the two to exchange verbal taunts without issuing double techs. Moments later, Warriors coach Steve Kerr and Green were hit with technicals.

Kerr benched his starters for most of the fourth quarter, conceding to the eventual loss. After the game, there were no handshakes exchanged with the two teams. Anthony, George and Raymond Felton waved their hands out of respect in the direction of the Warriors’ bench before retreating to the locker room.

Curry had a team-high 24 points and Durant put in 21 points. Golden State leaves this four-game road trip with a split.

Source: http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/21520487/nba-oklahoma-city-thunder-rout-golden-state-warriors-kevin-durant-return

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Cowboys facing must-win on Thanksgiving vs. Chargers

Cowboys facing must-win on Thanksgiving vs. Chargers

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Philip Rivers looks forward to his Thanksgiving debut in his 14th season.

The six-time Pro Bowl quarterback is also pretty fired up about how important Thursday’s visit to the Dallas Cowboys is for his Los Angeles Chargers.

“Outside of playoff games, I don’t know that there’s any bigger stage and game than Thanksgiving,” Rivers said . “It’s certainly a big-time game, more so because of what’s riding on it for our team. Throw in the fact that it’s Thanksgiving, even better.”

Los Angeles (4-6) started 0-4 while AFC West rival Kansas City won its first five. Now the Chargers are within two games of the division-leading Chiefs after scoring their most points since 1981 in a 54-24 win over Buffalo.

The Cowboys (5-5) have lost both games without suspended star running back Ezekiel Elliott, with still four games remaining on the six-game ban over alleged domestic violence. The defending NFC East champs are already all but eliminated in the division race, facing a tough road to a wild-card spot.

“It’s going to show the character of our team,” said quarterback Dak Prescott, who has struggled without the backfield mate from their remarkable rookie season.

“We’ve got the choice to go 11-5 right now or 5-11 or anything in between. It’s about us coming in and coming to work every day to show the character and fight we have to be 11-5.”

Tyron Smith appears set to return for Dallas after the four-time Pro Bowl left tackle missed two games with back and groin issues. Prescott was sacked a career-high eight times in the first loss, 27-7 to Atlanta, and lost a fumble in both games.

But the Cowboys still have to figure out how to stop the run without 2016 All-Pro linebacker Sean Lee, who will miss his second straight game and fourth overall with a hamstring injury. Dallas is allowing 181 yards rushing per game without Lee.

Things to consider going into the Chargers’ second straight Thanksgiving game in Texas (the most recent was a 21-17 AFL win at Houston in 1969, the year before the merger):

BIG MIKE: After an injury-plagued beginning to his rookie season, Chargers receiver Mike Williams is starting to become a bigger part of the game plan. He caught a season-high five passes against Buffalo, playing 41 snaps and finally getting into a rhythm on the field. The Clemson product could get an even larger role going forward as defenses focus on Keenan Allen after his 12-catch performance against the Bills.

MORE REINFORCEMENTS: In addition to the likely return of Smith, it appears kicker Dan Bailey will be back after injuring his right groin against San Francisco and missing four games. Mike Nugent was signed to replace him and apparently will remain on the roster at least one more week. Linebacker Anthony Hitchens injured his groin against the Eagles, but has said he thinks he’ll play. Hitchens usually fills Lee’s weakside spot when Lee is out.

WHAT A RUSH: The Chargers are third in the NFL with 30 sacks after harassing Buffalo quarterbacks Nathan Peterman and Tyrod Taylor. LA’s dynamic rushing duo of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram is responsible for 19 of those sacks. Bosa is on a particular roll lately, with his pressure causing two of Peterman’s interceptions and Taylor’s fumble, which was returned for a touchdown by Ingram.

TIGHT END ROYALTY: Once again, Chargers-Cowboys will mean an Antonio Gates-Jason Witten showdown at tight end. They came in together in 2003 and have played all 15 seasons with the same franchise. Between them, Gates and Witten have 2,045 catches for 23,612 yards and 178 touchdowns. Gates’ only TD this season set the NFL record for tight ends at 112. Witten and Tony Gonzalez are the only tight ends with at least 1,000 catches and 10,000 yards. “They are two of the all-time greats,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said.

FUNNY MAN: Assuming Bosa faces Smith, he’ll do so with a healthy amount of respect for the 6-foot-5, 320-pound former Southern Cal standout. “First of all, you just look at the man — he’s like a cartoon character, a freakin’ test tube baby. It’s unbelievable the size of him.” Bosa won’t get to see Elliott, his old roommate at Ohio State. Elliott was taken fourth in the 2016 draft, one spot after Bosa. “We were both terrible roommates so it didn’t bother either of us. We were both sloppy,” Bosa said.

Source: https://www.foxsports.com/southwest/story/cowboys-facing-must-win-on-thanksgiving-vs-chargers-112217

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Celtics’ 16-game win streak ends in loss to Heat

Celtics’ 16-game win streak ends in loss to Heat

MIAMI — Perhaps it was a case of the always-powerful South Beach flu.

Or maybe Kyrie Irving was due for a rough night after a stellar 47-point performance Monday night.

What is certain is the Celtics‘ 16-game win streak is over, with Boston falling victim to the Heat, 104-98, on Wednesday night in arguably Miami’s most complete performance of the season.

Irving, whose Celtics hadn’t lost a game since starting the season 0-2, finished with 23 points on 11-of-22 shooting, while rookie Jayson Tatum added 18. Dion Waiters hit a pair of 3-pointers in the final minutes to finish with 26, while Goran Dragic led Miami with 27.

The Heat led by as many as 18 points in the first half and went into halftime leading 54-41, with Dragic having scored 20.

The Celtics struggled with their efficiency in the first half, shooting 33.3 percent from the field and scoring just three points off 10 Miami first-half turnovers.

The Celtics’ bench was the most glaring problem in the opening half, with Marcus Morris, Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier combining to shoot 3-of-15 in 36 combined minutes.

In the second half, though, the Celtics were hoping to do what they had been doing throughout the season: recover from a rough start.

Heading into Wednesday night’s game, the streaking Celtics had been making their wins fairly stressful. In eight of the 16 games, Boston trailed in the fourth quarter. Against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Nov. 3, the Celtics trailed by 18 in the third quarter before Irving put on a show down the stretch for that win.

Boston does its best work in the second halves. The team is third overall in the NBA in third-quarter plus-minus and second in the league in fourth-quarter points allowed.

But whether it was the opponent, the Miami nightlife, that holiday travel or just a bad night, the Celtics weren’t able to call upon that third-quarter magic at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Source: http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/21521809/boston-celtics-16-game-win-streak-ends-loss-miami-heat

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This incredible stat captures how poorly Nathan Peterman’s first Bills start went

This incredible stat captures how poorly Nathan Peterman’s first Bills start went

Nathan Peterman isn’t good enough to be the Buffalo Bills‘ starting quarterback anymore, but if Sunday’s game is an indication of what’s to come, he might have a slightly brighter future with the Los Angeles Chargers. After all, he’s already shown a knack for helping the Chargers score points and win games by throwing five interceptions in a half, which led to his benching and Tyrod Taylor ultimately regaining the starting job this week.

It turns out, there’s an even better way to capture his performance than those five interceptions. As Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio noted on Wednesday, Peterman actually posted a better passer rating if you assumed he was playing for the Chargers — not the Bills.  Florio explains:

If Chargers players had been the intended target of his throws, and if treating his one pick-six as a touchdown pass and interception return yardage as passing yardage, Peterman’s stat line would have been five for 14, 84 yards, one touchdown, and six interceptions. And that creates a passer rating of 41.1.

Peterman’s actual stat line in the game? 6 of 14 for 66 yards, zero touchdowns, five picks, and a 17.9 passer rating. So, his actual passer rating was 23.2 points lower than the one Florio calculated above, which is kinda incredible. 

And that’s why Bills coach Sean McDermott had no choice but to go back to Taylor for the Bills’ upcoming game against the Chiefs. By throwing out Peterman again, McDermott would’ve been throwing away the Bills’ playoff chances.

And that brings me to an important point: It’s easy to laugh at Peterman and stats like the ones above, but the fault lies with McDermott. There’s no way he should’ve started Peterman over Taylor — a top-20 NFL quarterback. There’s no way he should’ve started Peterman — a fifth-round developmental rookie — with the Bills still in the playoff race. There’s no way he should’ve started Peterman against that Chargers defense in Los Angeles. 

The stat line above is on McDermott for thinking Peterman was ready. He clearly wasn’t. It’s a coach’s job to put his players in a position to succeed. McDermott did the opposite.

It’s also important to note that, because he clearly wasn’t ready, we shouldn’t rush to judgement on Peterman after one game. Yes, it was a disaster, but that doesn’t mean he’s destined to always be a disaster. 

Source: https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/this-incredible-stat-captures-how-poorly-nathan-petermans-first-bills-start-went/

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Rams hoping to slow down runaway Saints train (Nov 26, 2017)

Rams hoping to slow down runaway Saints train (Nov 26, 2017)

The streaking New Orleans Saints play the Los Angeles Rams in search of their ninth straight victory on Sunday at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

The Saints (8-2) will carry plenty of momentum into the contest after an improbable win over the Washington Redskins last week. New Orleans trailed by 15 points with three minutes remaining and still prevailed. In previous games when it was down by 14 points in the final quarter, New Orleans was 0-223-1.

“It just felt like one of those games that we shouldn’t win,” Saints punter Thomas Morstead said.

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The Rams (7-3) are looking to return to their winning ways. They saw a four-game streak snapped when the Minnesota Vikings’ vaunted defense contained what was then the NFL’s highest-scoring team, 24-7, on Sunday.

Los Angeles fell for the first time in over a month and it came with a cost. Robert Woods, the team’s leading receiver, sustained a shoulder injury and is out this week.

“It requires some guys to step up and fill the void left by Robert,” Rams coach Sean McVay said. “He’s done a lot of great things.”

So have the NFC West-leading Rams, one of the NFL’s biggest surprises this year. But they need to rebound after getting thumped in their showdown in Minnesota between divisional leaders.

To meet that goal, someone has to replace Woods’ production: A team-best 47 catches for four touchdowns and 703 yards.

The Rams are deep at that spot and a collection of players will be in the mix for more playing time. Tavon Austin, Mike Thomas, Pharaoh Cooper and rookie Josh Reynolds are available.

“It will really require a kind of by-committee approach,” McVay said.

Austin is making $15 million this year but the Rams aren’t getting much bang for their buck. The speedy Austin has been used mostly as a running back, gaining 171 yards.

Against the Vikings, Austin was on the artificial turf for just two plays.

“I’ve got to do a better job for getting a feel for the flow of the game and finding a way of getting him involved,” McVay said.

While the Rams have depth at wide receiver, the same can’t be said at cornerback. That’s not a good sign against a unit led by Drew Brees, which is averaging an NFL-high 415.7 yards per game and 30.2 points.

“Definitely it is a concern,” McVay said.

Cornerback Troy Hill, out last week with a hamstring injury, is primed to return. But two other cornerbacks, Kayvon Webster (concussion) and Nickell Robey-Cole (thigh) could be compromised.

The Rams’ secondary was relatively healthy leading to the outing in Minnesota. But the physical game took its toll.

“We have been fortunate in that manner that we haven’t had a lot of guys miss games that have been in starting roles,” McVay said. “But it looks like that is going to end up occurring.”

While the Rams’ offense is ranked No. 2 in averaging 30.3 points a contest, the defense hasn’t been as stout. It is No. 16 in total yards (3,350) and it will have to decipher the Saints’ balanced approach.

While most of the Saints’ outcomes once depended on Brees’ right arm, now it’s the churning legs and sure hands of running backs Mark Ingram and rookie Alvin Kamara.

Coach Sean Payton has embraced the running game so much that he called a rushing play on 24 straight plays in Week 10 against the Buffalo Bills. The Saints served noticed with Ingram and Kamara rushing for a combined six touchdowns and 298 yards; each eclipsed 100 yards.

Since Adrian Peterson was traded to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 5, Kamara has provided solid production with an average of 112.7 yards per scrimmage.

Ingram found another gear as well as he’s averaged 120.7 yards from scrimmage, nearly double his output from when Peterson was on the roster.

Ingram has been a force on early downs and early in games, gobbling up yards after contact.

Payton then inserts the shifty Kamara against a spent defense and the results have been impressive.

“I’ve always had a lot of respect for him as a play-caller,” McVay said. “He’s one of those guys that seems like he’s got a great feel.”

McVay was still the Washington Redskins offensive coordinator when the Saints walloped the Rams last year, 49-21. In McVay’s film study of the Saints, something is hard to ignore.

“They do such a great job of making people defend the width and the depth of the field in the pass game,” he said. “It’s a very well-versed offense where it’s quick screens, play-actions, movements. They do it all and they do it very well.”

The Rams own a 40-33 advantage over the Saints, winning two of their past three meetings.

Source: https://www.foxsports.com/nfl/story/rams-hoping-to-slow-down-runaway-saints-train-112217

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Saints hobbled defense aims to stem slippage vs. Rams

Saints hobbled defense aims to stem slippage vs. Rams

METAIRIE, La. (AP) Right when it looked like Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen had built one of the more stifling units in the league, injuries have begun taking a toll.

Not only is starting end Alex Okafor done for the year, but the effectiveness of three other key starters who could try to play this week remains to be seen as New Orleans braces for the Los Angeles Rams’ fourth-ranked offense.

Saints rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore did not practice Wednesday because of a left ankle injury that occurred Sunday in a victory over Washington. A first-round draft choice and the Saints’ top cornerback this season, Lattimore limped through the locker room wearing a protective boot on his lower left leg while it was open to reporters.

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If Lattimore isn’t ready to play by Sunday, it’s safe to say Rams coach Sean McVay would see that as a considerable break for his offense.

”Lattimore’s a star. I’ve been extremely impressed in watching the tape of him – patience at the line of scrimmage and strength, short speed quickness, agility, all of the traits you look for in a corner,” McVay said. ”He’s one of the most explosive players on the team, especially with some of the concepts coach Allen has in play. He’s a special player. I can’t say enough good things.”

The Saints could get safety Kenny Vaccaro and linebacker A.J. Klein back. Both players, who are veteran leaders for their position groups, said they expected to return to action after practicing on a limited basis Wednesday.

Vaccaro did not play last week because of a Week 9 groin pull that has sidelined him for two full games since, but said on Wednesday he was held out against Washington for precautionary reasons. Klein, who makes pre-snap formation calls for the defense, has missed one full game since hurting his ankle during a Week 10 victory over Buffalo.

Their absence, along with that of Lattimore, appeared to hurt a defense that gave up 456 yards and 31 points to the Redskins – statistically the worst performance by far for the unit during the Saints’ eight-game winning streak.

”Some of those scores we gave up were because of missed assignments and broken plays,” said Klein, who had to watch from the sideline. ”When the crucial stops were needed later in the game, they came, which is obviously a positive, but we don’t want to be giving up that many points.”

During the first seven games of New Orleans’ winning streak, the Saints’ defense did not allow any opponent more than 347 yards, held five of its previous seven opponents to less than 300 yards – and three of them to 200 or fewer. The Saints also allowed 17 or fewer points in all but one of those games, the lone exception being when Detroit scored 38 with the help of defensive and special teams TDs.

Against the Redskins, Vaccaro said, ”All the big plays that happened in the game were on us. It wasn’t anything they did spectacular.”

”We gave up almost 500 yards of offense and that hasn’t been us this season. A lot of it was communication,” Vaccaro continued. ”We’ll get it corrected. We’ve got some guys coming back this week.”

Okafor, however, is one player who won’t return because of his torn Achilles. He could be replaced by rookie Trey Hendrickson, who has two sacks, two tackles for losses and a forced fumble in a reserve role.

Okafor had 4 1/2 sacks, five tackles for losses and two forced fumbles, and fellow defensive end Cameron Jordan called Okafor’s injury a ”tremendous loss.”

Jordan added, however, that ”it’s not like Trey’s coming in cold.”

Cornerback Ken Crawley, who has started the past seven games, also did not practice because of an abdomen injury, and the possibility of his and Lattimore’s absence led the Saints to bring back veteran free agent defensive back Sterling Moore this week.

Now New Orleans hits the road to face second-year quarterback Jared Goff, running back Todd Gurley, and an offense that averages 375.4 yards per game and ranks second in points per game with 30.3 – even after an uncharacteristic 24-7 loss to Minnesota last week.

Klein said coach Sean Payton made a point in Wednesday morning’s team meeting of touching on the Rams’ elite offensive rankings this season.

”Obviously this team has been very efficient on offense and it starts with Goff getting them into the right plays,” Klein said. ”He’s definitely improved a lot from last season. He’s become a really good quarterback. And obviously with Gurley in the backfield they’ve got skill players across the board and can hurt you in different ways.”

For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

Source: https://www.foxsports.com/nfl/story/saints-hobbled-defense-aims-to-stem-slippage-vs-rams-112217

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Eagles wary of Bears despite sub-.500 record (Nov 26, 2017)

Eagles wary of Bears despite sub-.500 record (Nov 26, 2017)

With the NFL’s best record and one of its best players, quarterback Carson Wentz, the Philadelphia Eagles are on a roll.

The Eagles (9-1) welcome the Bears (3-7) to Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday afternoon surrounded by a euphoria that is rare in a town where its hard-scrabble, blue-collar fans have been viewed nationally as persistently unhappy — even when the team is good.

After Sunday’s 37-9 rout of the host Cowboys, where they laughed off another potential NFC East challenger as if they were the scrawny and disheveled Santa Claus that Eagles fans once so infamously booed, the talk around town isn’t about making the Super Bowl but more centered on parading the Lombardi Trophy down Broad Street.

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Well, unless you’re talking to head coach Doug Pederson.

“If you don’t come ready to play, you’ll get your tail beat,” Pederson, who could point to the Bears’ Week 3 win over the now 8-2 Steelers, said Wednesday when asked if the Eagles would be overconfident against Chicago.

Coach-speak aside, the Eagles certainly have plenty to feel good about while seeking a ninth straight victory.

First, there’s Wentz, the No. 2 pick in the 2016 draft who leads the NFL with 25 touchdowns and is fourth with a 103.4 rating.

It certainly helps the Eagles’ second-year quarterback and his third-ranked offense that he has so many weapons at his disposal — perhaps too many on another team where egos are put ahead of winning.

There’s the backfield combination of Jay Ajayi (168 yards, one TD in two games), plucked from the disarrayed Dolphins three weeks ago for a fourth-round pick, LeGarrette Blount (team-leading 561 yards) and undrafted rookie Corey Clement (tied for team lead with six TDs).

Kenjon Barner, another running back, scored a touchdown against the Cowboys.

Outside, the Eagles are led by former Bears standout Alshon Jeffery, whose 567 receiving yards and six touchdowns are solid but not quite Pro Bowl worthy like in one of his five years in Chicago. That’s because Wentz is spreading the ball around to Torrey Smith, Nelson Agholor, Mack Hollins and Trey Burton.

Did we mention tight end Zach Ertz and his 536 yards and six touchdowns?

The combined gaudy numbers explain much of the winning, but so does the attitude of the players.

“This is a very unselfish football team right now,” Pederson said. “It’s a combination of all of them. It doesn’t matter who makes the play.”

Defensively, the Eagles also are stout, ranking seventh overall and first against the run.

They will need to be strong up front against the Bears, who are one of the league’s top rushing attacks.

Second-year Chicago back Jordan Howard leads the NFC with 841 yards and shifty rookie back Tarik Cohen has a team-best 33 catches.

They also have developing rookie Mitchell Trubisky, the No. 2 pick in this year’s draft, under center. Coach John Fox can only hope that Trubisky’s ascent is similar to Wentz’s. In his six starts, the University of North Carolina product has completed 53.1 percent of his passes for 988 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions — though none in his last two outings.

It wouldn’t hurt if one of his targets still was Jeffery, who left the Bears this offseason to sign a one-year deal with the Eagles. Jeffery might have been on to something when he guaranteed his team would win the Super Bowl this season after the Bears went 3-13 in 2016.

It’s not the same team, but the prediction still may hold.

“Hindsight is always 20-20,” Fox said Wednesday when asked if he wished he still had Jeffery. “He’s a guy we liked. We did talk to him. It’s not like we weren’t in the mix.”

If it comes down to a kicking game, both teams have interesting situations. Chicago cut Connor Barth on Monday after he missed a 46-yard field goal that would’ve sent the game to overtime in its 27-24 loss to the Lions. In his place, the Bears signed Cairo Santos, a career 85 percent field-goal kicker who was injured (groin) in Week 3 with the Chiefs.

Philadelphia’s Jake Elliott was concussed early in the Eagles win at Dallas, forcing the Eagles to go for two points on four of their touchdowns. Pederson said he expects Elliott to play. If not, Caleb Sturgis, whom Elliott unseated due to a Week 1 hip injury, could replace him.

Source: https://www.foxsports.com/nfl/story/eagles-wary-of-bears-despite-sub-500-record-112217

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Grubes’ Thanksgiving mistake like Leon Lett in 1993 | The Dose (VIDEO)

Grubes’ Thanksgiving mistake like Leon Lett in 1993 | The Dose (VIDEO)

Source: https://www.foxsports.com/southwest/video/1102197827764

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