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Bills’ Josh Allen in good spot after playing with UCL injury


BUFFALO, NY — Buffalo Bills coach Sean McDermott said that quarterback Josh Allen came out of the team’s 33-30 overtime loss against the Minnesota Vikings in a “good spot” with his right elbow injury and that the team will “see where he goes ” when it comes to participation in practice this week.

Allen and McDermott said after the game that he was not affected by the injury to the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow that kept him out of the first two days of practice and limited on Friday.

“We’re just one day at a time,” McDermott said on Allen. The quarterback also was on the ground for several seconds after throwing his first of two interceptions against the Vikings in the fourth quarter/overtime. McDermott said that Allen was frustrated over the pick and was landed on when trying to tackle Patrick Peterson, but was OK. McDermott said, “[Allen] needed a second to gather himself a little there.”

Allen completed 29 of 43 passes for 330 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, and ran for 84 yards on six carries. He made multiple miscues in the second half/overtime of the loss, including fumbling the football on a botched snap with center Mitch Morse at the end of the fourth quarter when the Bills just needed to run out the clock.

“I think it was just one of those where he’s going and the ball is just a little off kilter where Josh couldn’t get to it,” offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey said on the play. “And then the ball’s coming down. As we’re trying to sneak it out of there. I think it was kind of a perfect storm. The ball being a little off, us trying to fire out.”

Dorsey said that the playcalling was largely not limited by Allen’s injury and that he was able to make the necessary throws. The only plays that were taken out of the plan were those he wasn’t as comfortable with because of lack of rep or concepts he didn’t feel great about in general.

“We’re going to look and make sure we’re doing the right things for [Allen] and in terms of calling [the game,]Dorsey said. “… I think that’s just something that at the end of the day, it’s going to be part of us moving forward.”

The Bills defense was without multiple starters in the loss to the Vikings, including safety Jordan Poyer and defensive end Greg Rousseau, and it showed. Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White has been a healthy scratch for the last two games after rejoining the 53-man roster as he recovers from a torn ACL suffered last Thanksgiving. He has not once been listed on the injury report since his return meaning he is physically healthy and fully participating.

“He’s just not in a position where he’s ready and we’re going to continue to take it one day at a time,” McDermott said.

Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said that White is “getting closer” to returning. Linebacker Tremaine Edmunds tweaked a groin injury in the loss and did not return. His availability for the Bills’ upcoming game against the Cleveland Browns (1 pm, CBS) is still to be seen.

Wide receiver Jake Kumerow is also week-to-week with an ankle injury.

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Broncos dodge major injuries to Jerry Jeudy, Graham Glasgow


ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — With five of the team’s six losses by seven or fewer points and an offense ranked last in the league in scoring at 14.6 points per game, Denver Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett will take any sliver of good news.

And Hackett got at least some good news Monday when injuries to wide receiver Jerry Jeudy and center Graham Glasgow were not as serious as the Broncos had feared Sunday night. Jeudy left Sunday’s 17-10 loss to the Tennessee Titans after he suffered a left ankle injury on the Broncos’ first play from scrimmage, and Glasgow left the game late in the third quarter with a right shoulder injury.

Hackett said both players would be day-to-day this week as the Broncos prepare for Sunday’s game against the Las Vegas Raiders. On Jeudy specifically, Hackett went as far as to call it a “minor ankle.”

On Glasgow, who was already playing in place of Lloyd Cushenberry III (hip) — the Broncos’ starting center injured in the Oct. 30 win over the Jaguars in London — Hackett added, “We dodged a bullet there. Hopefully he’ll be day-to-day.”

The Broncos didn’t get as good of news on right tackle Billy Turner (knee) and nickel cornerback K’Waun Williams (knee), who also left Sunday’s game with injuries. Hackett said both of those players will miss some time, classifying them as “week-to-week.”

With left tackle Garett Bolles already on injured reserve and his replacement, Cam Fleming, having missed Sunday’s loss to the Titans with a thigh injury, quarterback Russell Wilson’s well-being is a concern. The Titans sacked Wilson six times, four of those after Glasgow and Turner had left the game, and hit Wilson 18 times.

Hackett had said after Sunday’s loss that he hoped Jeudy’s injury wasn’t serious. Jeudy fell to the ground as he ran a route on the Broncos’ first play from scrimmage Sunday and grabbed the back of his left ankle.

He looked unsteady as trainers initially helped him walk to the bench and then was taken to the locker room on a golf cart and did not return to the game. Jeudy underwent an MRI exam Monday.

When asked about the extent of the injury as he exited the locker room with a walking boot on his lower left leg and foot, Jeudy had said, “I’m not sure.” He went into the game second on the team with 30 receptions and has the team’s longest touchdown play of the season — 67 yards in the season opener against the Seattle Seahawks.

“First play of the game, Jeudy goes down … it’s been tough, been tough, been tough,” Wilson said Sunday. ” … It’s been kind of crazy just to see some of our guys go down as often as we have. We have some world-class players we don’t have out there.”

Jeudy leads the struggling offense in touchdown receptions with three, as the Broncos have scored 16 or fewer points in five of their six losses.

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Ravens’ Mark Andrews inspires children who have diabetes


BALTIMORE — Mateo Adajar traveled across the country to see Mark Andrews on Monday to deliver a special message to the Baltimore Ravens’ Pro Bowl tight end.

“I have diabetes, and I love football,” Adajar, a 12-year-old from Danville, California, told Andrews. “When I see you play, it lets me know that diabetes won’t stop me from making it to the NFL.”

Andrews, who is a Type 1 diabetic, shook Adajar’s hand and gave him a hug. It was one of many connections that Andrews made on World Diabetes Day.

Andrews spent the evening at M&T Bank Stadium taking questions from 20 children who use a specialized insulin pump from Tandem Diabetes Care. He was asked about what he eats before games, how many times he pricks his finger during games and whether he was bullied about his condition growing up.

“I got teased for being diabetic, but that didn’t stop just being young,” Andrews said. “There were people who counted me out for being a Type 1 diabetic and didn’t think I was going to be a good football player. So, you don’t listen to that.”

Andrews was the 2017 John Mackey Award winner as the nation’s top tight end and a unanimous first-team All-American at Oklahoma. But Andrews believes he slipped into the third round of the 2018 NFL draft because there was concern about his diabetes.

In five NFL seasons, Andrews has become Lamar Jackson’s favorite target and emerged as one of the best tight ends in the NFL. Since 2019, he ranks second among tight ends in receptions (271), receiving yards (3,402) and touchdown catches (31).

“He inspires me because I used to think that [it would] be hard to get to like the NFL because [of] diabetes,” Adajar said of Andrews.

For nearly an hour, Andrews stood at the podium where he normally takes questions from reporters. This time, the questions came from curious young fans who are personally motivated every time Andrews leaps for a touchdown catch.

How do you treat low blood sugar during games? “I have Gatorade on the sideline,” Andrews said. “But my go-to growing up was fruit snacks.”

How often do you prick your finger? “At least two to three times every time I come off the field,” he said.

What do you eat for breakfast before games? “It’s always going to be pasta, chicken and fruit,” Andrews replied.

Andrews has become one of the leading ambassadors for diabetics. Young fans at stadiums across the country will sometimes hold up signs with “T1D” on them to signify Type 1 diabetes. Andrews will often approach them before games and offer some encouraging words.

“Growing up, something that really struck me was you heard [from] people [who] have Type 1 diabetes and they’re not super outspoken about it. That kind of bugged me a little bit,” Andrews said. “So that’s extremely important to me to be able [to] talk about that, share my life stories, show kids and families that may [be] struggling with it … that anything is possible. Whatever they may want to do in life, go out and follow those dreams.”

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Cardinals TE Zach Ertz (knee) out indefinitely


TEMPE, Ariz. — Arizona Cardinals tight end Zach Ertz is out indefinitely with a knee injury suffered early in Sunday’s win over the Los Angeles Rams, but he will get a second opinion, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The injury could be season-ending.

Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury said during his press conference Monday that the team expected to have a better picture of Ertz’s injury later Monday or sometime Tuesday.

Ertz went down in the first quarter and walked off gingerly under his own power but put his head in his hands at one point. Teammates came over to him to slap his shoulder pads and give him high fives in support. After being evaluated in the blue medical tent, Ertz was carted to the locker room.

Ertz had 406 yards and four touchdowns on a team-high 47 catches before his injury.

Also Monday, the Cardinals released running back Eno Benjamin, who filled in as their top rushing option while James Conner missed three games earlier this season. Benjamin saw his first significant game action this season. Drafted in the seventh round out of Arizona State in 2020, Benjamin didn’t play his rookie season and then had just 34 carries for 118 yards in nine games last season.

He already had 70 carries for 299 yards and two touchdowns this season but he didn’t have a single carry in Sunday’s win over the Rams in just one offensive snap.

Kingsbury said Monday that the reason for Benjamin’s reduced role was the improved health of Conner.

“We talked about James getting the full share, if you will,” Kingsbury said. “I mean, he’s been banged up, had the ribs and it was basically one of those deals where it was time to give him the starting running back reps and I thought he played at a high level and got better as the game went on, allowed him to get in a rhythm and did what we needed him to do.”

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Coach Dennis Allen says struggling Saints mulling QB change


METAIRIE, La. — The New Orleans Saints are considering making a quarterback switch, according to coach Dennis Allen.

Allen said that Jameis Winston is a candidate to start against the Los Angeles Rams, but a decision has not been made yet.

“I think we’ve gotta look at everything,” Allen said. “Yeah, I think we’ve gotta look at everything. And that will be a process we go through today and tomorrow as we get ready for the Rams.”

The Saints have started Andy Dalton for the last seven games, but Allen hinted his starting job was contingent on the offense continuing to perform well. The Saints (3-7) have scored only 23 total points in back-to-back losses.

“And we haven’t been doing as well the last couple of weeks,” Allen said. “So, I think we’ve gotta evaluate that. I think that’s something that we need to look at.”

Winston was named the starter going into the season but injured his back in Week 1 and struggled to play through his injuries for the next two games. Allen initially sat Winston for the game against the Minnesota Vikings in London to allow him to heal, but eventually decided to go with Dalton full-time.

Allen said at the time of the switch that Winston was healthy enough to play, and he eventually was not on the injury report, but admitted it’s unlikely Winston, who also had a foot injury this season, will be 100%. He said Winston’s health will factor into his decision.

“I feel like I think we probably have to visit with him a little bit in terms of that or visit with the medical staff in terms of that,” Allen said. “And I think Jameis said this the other day, I don’t know that he’s ever gonna be 100% healthy this season. But he’s in here every day, he’s in here every morning working with the trainers, getting himself ready. And I feel like he’s closer to being there.”

Allen also said the health of the offensive line is another factor. The Saints placed starting center Erik McCoy on injured reserve before their loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers this weekend and did not play starting right guard Andrus Peat. Starting left tackle James Hurst left the game with a concussion, leaving the Saints to play backup guards Calvin Throckmorton and Lewis Kidd, backup center Josh Andrews and backup tackle Landon Young.

“I think everything goes into the decision,” Allen said. “I don’t think any decisions are made in a vacuum. But we’ve gotta try to do what we feel like gives our team the best chance to win. So that’s ultimately what the decision will come down to.”

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How Commanders Terry McLaurin became one of NFL’s highest-paid WRs


ASHBURN, Va. — As he started to answer a question about his newly signed mega-contract, Washington Commanders receiver Terry McLaurin coughed briefly, staving off another round of tears. He’d shed enough since signing the deal and he didn’t want to do it again at a news conference in July.

For McLaurin, the money wasn’t the issue. Or at least not the main one. Yes, with the three-year extension worth up to $68.2 million that he signed in the summer he could take care of his family. But it was more than the financial windfall, it was vindication of his approach and efforts, it was rewarding the belief others had placed in him.

And that’s why, when he recalled his reaction to his contract, the 27-year-old focused on the road he traveled — being a “kid from Indianapolis” who had a dream to play in the NFL. He called the moment surreal.

“If you’re blessed to be in a situation to get a second contract, you know what that means for yourself, your future and your family. That part of it was awesome,” McLaurin said when reflecting back.

But, he said, the emotion stemmed from something else.

“I think it was the journey,” he said. “My journey was just different.”

McLaurin’s journey was indeed unlike others. By combining an underrated talent level with an inner competitiveness, a gift for studying opponents and weekly attendance at therapy sessions, he has gone from a third-round pick and expected backup and special teams player to one of the highest-paid receivers in the NFL.

On Monday night, McLaurin enters the NFC East clash against the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles (815 p.m. ET, ESPN ) as one of the bright spots for the Commanders (4-5). Despite playing with nine starting quarterbacks in his three-year-plus career, he has caught 260 passes. This season — while playing with two different starters — he has 38 receptions (second on the Commanders) for a team-high 609 receiving yards and is poised to lead the team in that category for the fourth straight year.

Production like that is why Washington gave him an extension. And his appreciation for all the work he has put in and the people who have helped him along the way explains why his emotions came pouring out upon signing the deal, and how he has quietly become one of the NFL’s best.

“It was all about how far he had come,” his agent, Buddy Baker, said. “I thought his press conference was one of the more impressive things I’ve seen in all my years in the business.”

‘I hate losing more than I like winning’

McLaurin likes to retell a story about a recent game of Scrabble in which he had the letters K, Z, Y and X. It’s hard to make a word out of those and there was no place on the board he could put them to form another word. Yet he wouldn’t concede.

“I’m sitting there for 15 minutes figuring out what word I could make out of it,” he said. “I hate losing more than I like winning. When I’m playing video games, I want to win every single game.”

Washington receiver Cam Sims said McLaurin is competitive about everything — including who gets to the meeting room first.

But his football mentality can be seen in how he plays 3-on-3 games in NBA 2K. McLaurin said he’s one of the best players in his group so if his team loses, he blames himself.

“When you’re in leadership situations like I’ve been blessed to be in you’ve got to take that approach,” he said.

But McLaurin does not react with tantrums or by storming out of a room. Rather, he breaks down what he did wrong. If he made a certain move in the video game and it didn’t work, he’s already planning the next one. He always wants a backup plan.

“I try not to do the same things over and over again expecting a different result,” McLaurin said.

It’s the same mindset that led him to picking the brains of veteran cornerbacks during his first spring practice sessions, and to working on improving his releases in the 2021 offseason with former Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin and to focusing on getting better at contested catches.

Flashback to the Green Bay Packers game. On a third-and-9 play with 2:13 left in the game, quarterback Taylor Heinicke, about to get hit, threw an intermediate out. McLaurin was just starting to break and cornerback Jaire Alexander was all over him. But he outfought Alexander coming back to the ball, making the 12-yard grab.

“That was the kind of play I struggled with early in my career in college,” McLaurin said.

“You see that guy, he’s fast but he’s like, ‘No, I want to make the contested catch, I want to be tough,'” former Washington wide receiver Santana Moss said. “He wants to be great.”

Then, against the Indianapolis Colts, Heinicke unloaded a deep ball for which McLaurin had to come back more than 5 yards and outjump cornerback Stephon Gilmore. But Gilmore had his hands on the ball as they started to fall to the ground; McLaurin yanked it away as they hit the ground at the 1-yard line with 41 seconds left. Washington scored the game-winning touchdown on the next play.

“He wasn’t going to be denied,” Washington coach Ron Rivera said. “You can do all the drills you want about it, but a guy that plays with vision, sees the ball and knows when to anticipate a jump, that’s the kind of guy that’s going to go make those plays. That’s what Terry does very well.”

Teammate Curtis Samuel said when they roomed together at Ohio State, he saw McLaurin’s competitiveness.

“After practice this man is still working,” Samuel said. “I’m talking on days we got off I wake up and say, ‘Terry, what are you about to go do?’ He’d say, ‘I’m about to go to the facility, go run some routes, catch some passes.’ Where he’s at today is all because of that.”

‘Those little things can help you’

When describing McLaurin’s film watching, both he and his position coach use one word: deliberate. It’s not about the hours spent watching his opponent, it’s about his ability to pick out what he needs.

“A lot of times you can get lost in film and you don’t know what you’re looking for,” he said. “You look up in an hour and it’s like, ‘What did I really watch?'”

McLaurin starts by knowing who he is as a receiver: a vertical speed guy with a hard release. He watches opponents to see how they defend that type of receiver, while also dissecting any weaknesses.

Then he has a checklist for what he wants to see: How do they play press man, both in how and when they jam a receiver and also their footwork? How do they play off man coverage? What style in his repertoire might work versus that particular corner?

“Most people during a long season, they fall off,” Sims said. “But with T, he just picks it up. He watches more film. He just does a lot more things.”

There’s a reason; having that bank of knowledge also can help if he needs to adjust during the game.

“Those little things can help you,” McLaurin said.

Against Green Bay, after studying Alexander, McLaurin knew he could not waste movement at the line. In the third quarter, for one of the few times in the game, he found himself matched against Alexander in press man coverage. McLaurin was ready with a plan, based on film study.

“I knew he hadn’t gotten a feel for my speed to that point so I wanted to make him run with me and make him play at my speed,” he said.

That play set up a smaller catch the next week. In a win over the Colts, McLaurin watched how Gilmore played press man. He was different from Alexander: Gilmore liked to “inch out” to maintain cushion. So McLaurin attacked by stepping hard to the outside — the same action that beat Alexander. As Gilmore opened wide and backpedaled, McLaurin cut inside for a 9-yard catch on second-and-10.

“I put a lot of those releases on film and knowing how he’d react to that I could get the inside release I wanted,” McLaurin said.

‘He’s out ahead of his emotions’

McLaurin started going to therapy in January and continues weekly sessions. With burgeoning expectations, not just in his professional life but in his personal one, McLaurin said he needed help.

“I do struggle with, ‘I could be doing more; I’m not doing enough,'” McLaurin said.

His analytical approach led him to look at the work he had put in, then compare it to the results. They didn’t always match up, which led him to sometimes spiral down a negative rabbit hole. He had to learn how to adjust to, as he said, “life happens.”

“How do I deal with it? How do I adjust? How do I not let it throw off my whole psyche?” McLaurin said.

He said if anything went wrong, as a person known for being in control, his day could be ruined. Something small became magnified in his head.

“I could be having a good day and I drop my food on the floor,” he said. “That one event can throw off my whole day because it was like, ‘My food fell on the floor, now I have to go get another one!’ I get in a very bad mood. Now I understand that it’s just a bad event that happened. How do I respond from that? That’s where I can find more of the homeostasis.”

Achieving that mental equilibrium was necessary. Taking yoga classes also helps.

“I would get into ruts where I was thinking negatively, to the point I’m very down,” he said. “Therapy has helped me take more accountability for myself on what role I play in certain situations. It forces you to look more inside versus what’s going on around you.

“The biggest thing I had to learn was to catch myself before I got in that hole. It’s so natural to start to think, ‘Dang, it didn’t work out; I must not be good enough and if you’re not good enough…’ Then you look up and you’re in a s—ty mood. I had to catch myself.”

Receivers coach Drew Terrell said McLaurin is more aware of his emotions and focuses less on external factors and outside noise — be it praise or criticism. Considering McLaurin has played with nine different starting quarterbacks since entering the league, that’s a key trait. McLaurin has always been praised for how he outwardly handled those emotions; it’s among the reasons he’s highly respected. Now he’s controlling them inside as well.

“He’s out ahead of his emotions,” Terrell said. “Certain things in the past, if things didn’t come up right in the game, he would get frustrated. It’s not outward, vocal frustration but I could see it …. [Now] it’s taking the emotion of what it is and knowing how to process it.”

That’s the result of what McLaurin calls his greatest year of growth.

“Therapy has helped me with compartmentalizing things and understanding I can only control my role in things,” he said.

‘I’ve been touched by God to have this ability’

McLaurin does not lack talent. He’s not the biggest receiver at 6-foot, 210 pounds but he is strong. He’s not Tyreek Hill, but he is fast, having run a 4.35 in the 40-yard dash at the 2019 NFL scouting combine. It just took time for that talent to coalesce into what he’s become today.

But to reach this point, he endured: having to convince Urban Meyer he was worthy of a scholarship to Ohio State, redshirting his freshman year, catching no passes his first season playing and 11 in his second, having people doubt he could play well for the Buckeyes, finishing fourth on the team in receptions in his last season, seeing his peers receive more rewards from their work, getting drafted in the third round as a special teams player and solid backup.

“A lot of those times are discouraging,” McLaurin said. “You see your peers who went off to the NFL; you put in the same work but the results aren’t happening for you in the timing you think they should happen.”

Former Washington coach Jay Gruden said they believed he could be a dynamic receiver, having scouted him at the Senior Bowl.

But McLaurin said he does feel his natural talent gets overlooked at times.

“Because I’ve worked so hard, a lot of people don’t give me my flowers on the God-given athletic ability,” he said. “I’ve been touched by God to have this ability to run fast, jump high, be extremely strong, really smart, leadership. A lot of things you can’t quite coach and teach, but it comes out naturally because it’s who I am. It’s not a façade. … I’m not the flashiest player, you can’t look at me and say, ‘Wow, he does X well.’ I pride myself on being a complete receiver.”

Gruden, who coached McLaurin for the first five games of his career before he was fired, said after the top receivers — he listed Hill, Jaylen Waddle, Stefon Diggs and Davante Adams — “you’ve got to put him in the mix. He’s made big plays. Imagine if he was in Green Bay [with quarterback Aaron Rodgers] how many catches he’d have?”

Samuel said, “When he first got to the league they said he was a special teams guy. That’s crazy. I’d seen this guy work his butt off every day. He’s a receiver. I’ve always said he’s a No. 1 receiver.”

It just took a minute for it to happen.

“His journey was different,” Samuel said. “But the journey he’s had has made him the man he is today. It’s all about timing.”

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Panthers to start Baker Mayfield at QB with PJ Walker hurt


CHARLOTTE, NC — Quarterback Baker Mayfield will return to the starting lineup for the Carolina Panthers on Sunday after an MRI taken over the weekend revealed that PJ Walker suffered a high ankle sprain in Thursday night’s victory over the Atlanta Falcons.

Sam Darnold, who lost the open competition to Mayfield for the starting job during training camp, will be the backup for the Week 11 game against the Baltimore Ravens.

This will be Mayfield’s first start since he suffered an ankle sprain in a Week 5 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. He was replaced by Walker the following week against the Los Angeles Rams and had remained the backup the past four games despite being healthy enough to play.

Mayfield’s only playing time last month came in the second half of a 35-17 blowout loss at the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 7 in which he led three scoring drives, going 14-for-20 passing for 155 yards and two touchdowns.

Mayfield struggled to a 15.3 Total QBR during a 1-4 start that was the lowest in the NFL this season and the worst since ESPN began using the statistic in 2006. He had four interceptions and four touchdown passes during that stretch.

Interim coach Steve Wilks said the No. 1 thing Mayfield has to do against the Ravens is “protect the football.”

Having a solid running game led by D’Onta Foreman should take some pressure off Mayfield, who was the top overall pick of the 2018 NFL draft. The Panthers rushed for a season-high 232 yards against Atlanta and have averaged 159.5 yards rushing the past four games since trading star back Christian McCaffrey to the San Francisco 49ers. They averaged 89.9 yards rushing the first five games with Mayfield starting.

“Everything starts up front,” said Wilks, who has committed to the running game since Matt Rhule was fired after a 1-4 start. “We’ve got to do a great job of really establishing the run game, and when we do pass, we’ve got to do a great job of giving him a clean pocket so he can go through his progressions and get the ball down the field.”

With Darnold returning last week from injured reserve and Walker playing well, the Panthers had been looking at all options at quarterback, including a possible release of Mayfield, according to a league source.

Walker was 2-3 as the starter, including Thursday night’s 25-15 victory over the Falcons that kept Carolina (3-7) a factor in the NFC South, which is led by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-5). He suffered the injury in the fourth quarter, but it was never reported because, as Wilks said, Walker “sucked it up and played through it.”

Wilks put no timetable on the injury, saying only that Walker would not go on injured reserve.

“A high ankle sprain limits his mobility … so we’ll let him sit this week and go with Baker,” Wilks said.

Walker is the third Panthers quarterback since August to suffer a high ankle sprain at Bank of America Stadium, which went from a grass field to turf last year. Darnold started the season on injured reserve after suffering a high ankle sprain in the final preseason game, and Mayfield suffered a similar injury in Week 5.

Walker could not say whether his injury was a result of the turf.

“It’s tough on the bodies, especially for those big guys, receivers as well, coming out of breaks,” Walker said Monday. “It’s tough. Do I think the league should go to more grass fields? Absolutely. It helps the body more. It’s just more healthy on the body, the joints, the bones and all those things, especially if you play for a long time in this league.”

Wide receiver DJ Moore said team leaders went to owner David Tepper earlier this year and expressed their concerns about the turf.

“To see that happened within eight weeks … is pretty unique,” he said of the injuries Carolina players have had.

Mayfield has plenty of experience facing the Ravens after spending his first four NFL seasons with the Cleveland Browns in the AFC North before being traded to Carolina in July.

In his eight starts against Baltimore, the Browns went 3-5 as he posted an 83.2 passer rating while throwing 13 touchdown passes and nine interceptions.

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Browns QB Deshaun Watson set to return to practice Wednesday


BEREA, Ohio — Quarterback Deshaun Watson is set to join the Cleveland Browns on the practice field this week.

Since Oct. 10, Watson has been allowed to participate in team meetings and work out at the Browns’ training facility. But now he will be permitted to practice with the team for the first time since training camp. The Browns are next scheduled to practice again Wednesday.

Watson violated the NFL’s personal conduct policy by committing sexual assault on massage therapists, as defined by the NFL. He’ll continue to serve an 11-game suspension.

Watson will ramp up for his Browns debut Dec. 4 in a game against his former team, the Houston Texans.

“We’ll have a plan for him to start getting ready,” coach Kevin Stefanski said Monday.

The NFL and NFL Players Association reached a settlement on Watson’s 11-game suspension Aug. 18 after he was accused by more than two dozen women of sexual assault and misconduct during massage sessions. Watson was also fined $5 million and required to undergo a treatment program.

Jacoby Brissett has filled in at quarterback during Watson’s suspension. General manager Andrew Berry recently reiterated that Watson would replace Brissett as Cleveland’s starter once he’s eligible to return. But Stefanski said getting Brissett ready to play will remain Cleveland’s priority in practice until then.

“Whatever we do with Deshaun won’t take away from Jacoby’s preparation,” Stefanski said.

Over the summer, Watson agreed to settle 23 of the 24 civil lawsuits against him. A 25th lawsuit was dropped by the plaintiff when the judge ruled her petition had to be amended with her name. Two other women filed criminal complaints against Watson but did not sue him.

On Oct. 13, another woman filed a lawsuit against Watson, claiming he pressured her into oral sex during a massage session in 2020. Two weeks later, Watson’s attorneys filed a series of court exhibits as evidence to undermine the allegation.

Two grand juries in Texas declined to pursue criminal charges against Watson earlier this year. But Sue L. Robinson, an independent arbiter jointly appointed by the league and players’ union, found that “the NFL carried its burden to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that Mr. Watson engaged in sexual assault.” Robinson also concluded in her report that Watson’s behavior was “egregious” and “predatory.”

Watson has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and said that people haven’t been interested in hearing his side of the story. He hasn’t spoken publicly since his suspension was announced.

The Browns traded for Watson in March, sending the Texans three first-round draft picks. Cleveland also signed Watson to a five-year deal worth $230 million guaranteed, the richest contract in NFL history.

Watson hasn’t played in a regular-season game since 2020, sitting out all of last year in Houston while waiting for a trade.

The Browns (3-6) face the Buffalo Bills this weekend, then the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before Watson’s return. On the heels of Cleveland’s 39-17 loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, ESPN’s Football Power Index gives the Browns just a 4.5% chance to make the playoffs.

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Josh McDaniels – Raiders ‘building’ but it’s slow, painful process


HENDERSON, Nev. — Coach Josh McDaniels said he will stay the course amid rumors about his job security in his first year a day after a stunning 25-20 loss to the Indianapolis Colts that dropped the Las Vegas Raiders’ record to 2-7.

“We are building,” McDaniels said in his weekly Monday media conference. “I have never used the word ‘rebuilding,’ or anything like that. It’s the National Football League; there’s not five years to do that.

“There’s a process that we’re trying to go through. Certainly, slower and more painful than anybody wants it to be.”

And while McDaniels said he had not been reassured of his status by Raiders owner Mark Davis in “some big clandestine meeting” in recent weeks, McDaniels said he will continue to try to build a foundation for the future.

“I’m going to control what I can control and do the best I can at my job, and part of that is continuing to think about the future and next year and what goes on beyond the next few months here,” McDaniels said.

“If somebody tells me that my time is done, then my time is done.”

Expectations were high for Las Vegas after its unlikely run to a 10-7 finish and the playoffs last season under interim coach Rich Bisaccia and general manager Mike Mayock, after which Davis chose to bring in McDaniels and Dave Ziegler, as GM, from the New England Patriots.

But the Raiders got off to a 0-3 start. And after winning two of three, they have lost their past three games in dispiriting fashion, getting shut out by the New Orleans Saints and former coach Dennis Allen, blowing a 17-0 lead (their third such loss of the season) at the Jacksonville Jaguars, and then Sunday’s loss to the Colts, who had a coach who had never coached above the high school level in Jeff Saturday, an offensive coordinator who had never called plays in the NFL before in Parks Frazier and a 37-year-old quarterback who had been benched earlier this season in Matt Ryan.

“We’re not trying to do anything other than win every game, and that’s what we will continue to do,” McDaniels said. “I think the reality is, I do understand the short-term history of this place. I was educated on it; they talked to me about it when I came here — trying to get something together that can last and sustain and win and win and win and win and win. We’re not doing enough of it now, and we understand that. But at the same time, that was the vision for us, to try to figure out what is going to be part of the future , what isn’t. And how we proceed going forward is going to impact that.

“When you go through change, there’s some things that you’re going to see initially, and there’s some things that you’re going to see over time. When you have enough opportunity to make those evaluations and try to get it right eventually, that’s the opportunity that you’re hoping for.”

McDaniels said the goal is to “have a culture and the kind of people on the team that continue to try to uphold that year after year after year” in Las Vegas.

“I understand the short-term frustration. I get it. I really do.”

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Fantasy football free agent pickups Week 11


The Rams currently have a 3-6 record, which is tied for the worst-ever nine-game start by a defending Super Bowl champion. The previous four defending champs to start 3-6 all missed the playoffs. Despite the losing, one bright spot for both the Rams and fantasy managers was Cooper Kupp, who unfortunately injured his ankle during the Rams’ loss to the Cardinals on Sunday.

Head coach Sean McVay said immediately after the game that “it didn’t look good; it didn’t sound good,” but an MRI will be performed on Monday to try and determine the full extent of the injury and how much time, if anyway, Kupp will have to miss. Prior to getting hurt, Kupp had managed 21 consecutive games with at least 15.0 fantasy points in PPR formats, the third-longest streak of its kind. Kupp also accounted for 35.7% of all Rams receptions entering Week 10, the highest mark in the league.

Fantasy managers should consider Ben Skowronek as an option if Kupp’s injury is serious. He led the Rams with 60 snaps and 40 routes run on Sunday, with a total of six targets. Van Jefferson, who returned to the team in Week 8, also caught his first three passes of the season, including a touchdown.

Here are some other WR options to consider if you have Kupp on your roster:

Kadarius Toney, Kansas City Chiefs (47.5%): Those fantasy managers who had proactively stashed Toney were rewarded handsomely on Sunday, as he caught 4-of-5 targets for 57 yards and a touchdown. According to Next Gen Stats, his touchdown had 20.4 yards of separation — the greatest separation of any passing score since Next Gen began tracking in 2016. Toney also rushed twice for 33 yards against the Jaguars. JuJu Smith-Schuster’s health should be monitored by fantasy managers, but even if he can get cleared from the league’s concussion protocol, the WR position has been heavily rotated by the Chiefs and Toney’s involvement should continue to grow each week. He’s firmly on the flex radar against the Chargers in Week 11.

Christian Watson, Green Bay Packers (5.8%): With Romeo Doubs out due to an ankle injury, Watson scored an impressive 32.7 fantasy points on Sunday, becoming just the sixth rookie in the last 20 seasons with 100 receiving yards and three receiving touchdowns in a game. The concussion and hamstring injury that the rookie dealt with earlier in the season appear to be behind him. Watson played on 84% of snaps and had a season-high eight targets against the Cowboys. The stage is set for him to become a fantasy superstar for the rest of the season. Watson is a great flex option in Week 11 against a Titans defense which has allowed the second-most passing yards (272.6).

Nico Collins, Houston Texans (6.7%): Collins had been out due to a groin injury for the last month but, on Sunday, he led the Texans with 10 targets against the Giants. Collins caught five passes for 49 yards and a touchdown. As for Brandin Cooks, he caught four of his seven targets for just 37 yards. The disgruntled receiver wasn’t traded at the deadline and the Texans have stripped him of his captaincy because of his comments after not being traded. Since Houston has a 1-7-1 record, Collins might get more targets as a sort of audition for the No. 1 receiver slot for next season. Houston has a very favorable rest-of-season schedule for wide receivers.

Donovan Peoples-Jones, Cleveland Browns (22%): Peoples-Jones delivered against the Dolphins on Sunday, catching 5-of-9 targets for 99 yards. He played on 58 snaps and ran 37 routes, which was eerily similar to No. 1 receiver Amari Cooper. Peoples-Jones has scored double-digit fantasy points in five of his last six games, averaging 6.7 targets and 74.3 receiving yards per game. His fantasy ceiling could increase even further when Deshaun Watson returns from suspension in Week 13.

Quick Hits: Darius Slayton (4.6%) caught 3-of-4 targets for 95 yards and a touchdown for the Giants on Sunday. In Week 11, he should be considered a flex option against the Lions. … Jarvis Landry (29.4%) should not be overlooked by fantasy managers in deeper formats. He played on 78% of snaps against the Steelers on Sunday and was targeted six times. … Isaiah McKenzie (17.5%) continues to play on a high number of snaps and run a lot of routes for the Bills. … In his first game returning from injury, Treylon Burks (23.8%) played on 56.4% of snaps. … Odell Beckham Jr. (30%) will be getting into football shape over the next few weeks. Many teams are rumored to be interested in signing the veteran receiver.

Let’s take a look at our recommended Week 11 ESPN Fantasy waiver-wire adds at the other skill positions.


Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers (46.6%): Garoppolo has scored at least 16 fantasy points in all but one game. Playing for a 49ers offense that now includes Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle, Garoppolo is well-positioned for success. Due to the 49ers’ reliance on the running game, he has a high fantasy floor, but a low ceiling. Since Tua Tagovailoa and Tom Brady have a bye week, Garoppolo is an excellent option against the Cardinals in Week 11. Arizona’s defense has allowed 19.7 QB fantasy points per game.

Jared Goff, Detroit Lions (37.2%): From a film perspective, I was very pleased with what I saw from Goff against the Bears. Despite a struggling Lions’ running game, he managed the pocket well, made some excellent throws in tight windows, and carried the offense in the fourth quarter. In Week 11, Goff faces a Giants defense that has allowed 16.0 QB fantasy points per game, which is just about what Goff is averaging (15.7). Look no further than Goff if you’re looking for a quarterback with a high floor.

Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans (7.5%): Tannehill is often overlooked as a streamer, as the Titans are averaging 30.2 rushing attempts per game thanks to Derrick Henry. However, on Sunday, Denver’s defense prioritized shutting down the run and Tannehill ended up with a season-high 19.4 fantasy points. The Titans went with a designed pass on 79% of plays, their highest rate since 2015. Tannehill won’t provide you with a week-winning performance on his own, but he can provide fantasy managers in deeper formats with a high floor.

Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh Steelers (5.9%): Pickett scored a season-high 19.0 fantasy points on Sunday against the Saints, thanks to his rushing ability. From a film perspective, Pickett’s accuracy on deep throws is my biggest concern. If you have the space on your bench, he is worth stashing in deeper formats or superflex leagues. With games against the Panthers, Raiders, and Ravens during the fantasy playoffs (Weeks 15-17), the Steelers have one of the easiest remaining schedules for a fantasy quarterback.

Quick Hits: Deshaun Watson (28.2%) is a good pickup for fantasy managers in deeper formats or superflex leagues. Once he returns from suspension in Week 13, he is expected to start against the Texans. Watson has averaged 22.7 fantasy points per game in his career.

Running backs

Elijah Mitchell, San Francisco 49ers (51.0%): When Mitchell (knee) was activated from IR, he returned to a radically different backfield than the one he left behind. Mitchell ran for 89 yards on 18 attempts in his first game back against the Chargers on Sunday night, playing on 33.8% of snaps. Mitchell finished with 18 rushing attempts compared to just 14 for McCaffrey, who saw his workload significantly reduced. It’s clear that both running backs will be involved in the 49ers’ running game. Mitchell can be viewed as a flex option going forward, particularly in games where the 49ers are heavy favourites.

Rachaad White, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (24.4%): White started over Leonard Fournette against the Seahawks on Sunday. After Fournette left the game with a hip injury, White played on 20 of a possible 25 snaps, with Ke’Shawn Vaughn occasionally replacing him. He finished the game with 105 rushing yards on 22 attempts. It was the first time since 2013 (Bobby Rainey) that a Buccaneers rookie recorded 100 rushing yards. In addition, White gained 48 yards after contact against the Seahawks — the most by any Buccaneers’ rusher this season. White looks like a potential fantasy football league winner, just like Kenneth Walker III did earlier this season prior to his breakout.

Isiah Pacheco, Kansas City Chiefs (23.1%): Pacheco played on 55.5% of the Chiefs’ offensive snaps on Sunday against the Jaguars and finished with 82 rushing yards on 16 attempts. Clyde Edwards-Helaire wasn’t given a single rushing attempt or target and only played on four total snaps. On passing downs, Pacheco left the field, mostly in favor of Jerick McKinnon, who had eight targets. The Chiefs’ upcoming schedule is very favorable for running backs and should have fantasy managers salivating. In Week 11, Pacheco will face a Chargers defense that allows 27.4 RB fantasy points per game.

Jaylen Warren, Pittsburgh Steelers (11.7%): Warren finished with 77 total yards on 12 touches against the Saints on Sunday. Warren is more explosive than Najee Harris, who had 37% of his rushing yards come from a single run. Warren played on just 42.8% of snaps, while Harris played on 59.5%. Still, the rookie is on the flex radar against the Bengals in Week 11.

Quick Hits: Brian Robinson Jr. (51%) has had 13-plus rushing attempts in three out of five games this season and JD McKissic has missed two consecutive games with a neck injury. … Kyren Williams (15.4%) was activated from IR after dealing with an ankle injury and played on more snaps than Cam Akers, totaling 39 yards on four touches. … Gus Edwards (33.6%) is expected to be healthy coming out of the Ravens’ bye week. … Latavius ​​Murray (25.4%) has had double-digit touches in four consecutive games and has scored double-digit fantasy points in two of those outings.

Tight ends

Cole Kmet, Chicago Bears (38.8%): Kmet has amassed 13 targets over the last two games and has scored 20-plus fantasy points in consecutive games. He’s reached the end zone five times over the last three games and is now tied for the second-most TE touchdowns this season. After taking a hit to the leg, Kmet left Sunday’s game against the Bears early, but the injury does not appear to be serious. Against the Falcons, Kmet can be viewed as a TE1.

Foster Moreau, Las Vegas Raiders (12.3%): Moreau should continue to play on significant snaps and get a lot of targets with Darren Waller (hamstring) now on IR. Moreau caught 3-of-4 targets for 43 yards and a touchdown on Sunday against the Colts, playing on 95% of snaps and running 37 routes. He’ll be actively involved against the Broncos in Week 11 and can be viewed as a high-end TE2.

Juwan Johnson, New Orleans Saints (8.2%): Johnson caught 5-of-7 targets for 44 yards and a touchdown against the Steelers on Sunday. In three of his last four games, he has scored at least 12 fantasy points. Johnson is a great streamer for fantasy managers in deeper formats.

Quick Hits: Zach Ertz’s knee injury on Sunday against the Rams has put rookie Trey McBride (0.3%) onto the streaming radar. McBride was one of Colorado State’s most decorated players. The John Mackey Award winner set school records for tight ends in receptions, receiving yards, and 100-yard games in 2021.

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