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75-man roster tracker

NFL teams have until 4 PM EDT on Monday, August 27 to cut their rosters from 90 players to 75 players. We’ll track all the moves that every team makes to get down to 75 players right here.

Arizona Cardinals: Got down to the 75-player limit on Friday by putting LT Levi Brown on injured reserve, waiving fullback Jared Crank and running back Thomas Clayton with the waived-injured designation, and releasing DE Landon Cohen, WR Gino Crump, S Eddie Elder, WR Tre Gray, CB Marshay Green, WR Jaymar Johnson, FB Reagan Maui’a, LB Marcus McGraw, LB Zack Nash, CB James Nixon, K/P Ricky Schmitt and LB Paul Vassalo.

Atlanta Falcons: Got down to the 75-player limit on Saturday by putting tackle Will Svitek on injured reserve, waiving tight end Chase Coffman, linebacker Max Gruder, kicker Erik Folk, running back Richard Medlin, fullback Lee Meisner, defensive end Louis Nzegwu, receiver Kenny Stafford and tight end Aron White and reaching injury settlements with defensive tackle Elisha Joseph and cornerback Darrin Walls.  The Falcons also waived quarterback John Parker Wilson and placed defensive tackle Corey Peters on the reserve/non-football injury list.

Baltimore RavensCut nine on Sunday, including kicker Billy Cundiff, tight end Davon Drew, receiver Devin Goda, offensive lineman Addison Lawrence, cornerback Jordan Maybin, center Cecil Newton (brother of Cam), long snapper Patrick Scales, quarterback Chester Stewart, and receiver Patrick Williams. Finished things up on Monday by placing linebacker Terrell Suggs and wide receiver David Reed on reserve/PUP and placing linebacker Stevie Baggs, linebacker Darryl Blackstock, safety Emanuel Cook and defensive tackle Ryan McBean on injured reserve.

Buffalo Bills: Made 10 moves Sunday to get to the limit. They placed tight end Mike Caussin on reserve/PUP, and released nine players: Wide receiver David Clowney, cornerback Prince Miller, linebacker Danny Batten, defensive end Sean Ferguson, tight end Fendi Onobun, defensive tackle Jay Ross, wide receiver Derek Session, defensive back Nick Sukay and guard Jake Vermiglio.  Batten was waived with the designation “failure to disclose physical condition.”

Carolina Panthers: Started the process of getting down to 75 by cutting their veteran punter and their veteran kicker, Nick Harris and Olindo Mare. They also put promising wide receiver David Gettis on reserve/PUP list, and cornerback Brandon Hogan on IR, and waived wide receivers Darvin Adams, Michael Avila, Brenton Bersin and Rico Wallace (with injury settlement), running backs Josh Vaughan and Lyndon Rowells, tight end Greg Smith, guards Roger Allen and Will Blackwell and linebacker-defensive end Eric Norwood.

Chicago Bears: Made 12 moves Sunday, getting the roster to 76 the day before the deadline. They placed safety Brandon Hardin on IR, receiver Johnny Knox on reserve/PUP, and released veteran defensive tackle John McCargo. They also waived linebacker K.C. Asiodu, quarterback Matt Blanchard, safety Trevor Coston, receiver Terriun Crump, receiver Chris Summers, defensive end Derek Walker, and defensive end Thaddeus Gibson.  They also waived/injured linebacker Adrien Cole and guard Nick Pieschel. The Bears’ final move was cutting former supplemental draft pick Harvey Unga, which got them down to 75.

Cincinnati Bengals: Got down to 76 players on Friday by putting cornerback Brandon Ghee, cornerback Shaun Prater, receiver/cornerback Taveon Rodgers, safety Robert Sands, and guard Travelle Wharton on injured reserve, and releasing defensive end Luke Black, running back Aaron Brown, quarterback Tyler Hansen, and guard Matt Murphy. Wide receiver Kashif Moore was waived on Monday to complete the cuts.

Cleveland BrownsMoved to 80 on Sunday by waiving offensive lineman Jake Anderson, offensive lineman Matt Cleveland, defensive back Emanuel Davis, linebacker JoJo Dickson, punter Spencer Lanning, receiver Carlton Mitchell, receiver Bert Reed, receiver Jermaine Saffold, and receiver Owen SpencerGot to 75 on Monday by waiving with the “injured” designation defensive lineman Marcus Benard, defensive lineman Auston English, and defensive back Antwuan Reed,  placing linebacker Chris Gocong and sixth-round rookie linebacker Emmanuel Acho on injured reserve, and converting defensive lineman Phil Taylor from the active/Physically Unable to Perform list to the reserve/PUP list.

Dallas Cowboys: Dallas got down to 76 players after releasing tackle Levy Adcock, punter Delbert Alvarado, tight end Harry Flaherty, receiver David Little, tackle Tyrone Novikoff, receiver Raymond Radway, running back Javarris Williams and cornerback C.J. Wilson. They also waived/injured receiver Donavon Kemp and linebacker Caleb McSurdy, and put guard/center Kevin Kowalski on the physically unable to perform list. They got to 75 by releasing long snapper Charley Hughlett, who had a partially guaranteed contract.

Denver Broncos: Got down to 75 by cutting veteran long snapper Lonnie Paxton, putting defensive end Jason Hunter on injured reserve and waiving linebacker Elliot Coffey, wide receiver Mark Dell, wide receiver Cameron Kenney, tight end Anthony Miller, defensive end Cyril Obiozor, running back Xavier Omon, safety Anthony Perkins, tackle Mike Remmers, cornerback Ramzee Robinson, fullback Austin Sylvester and guard Austin Wuebbels.

Detroit Lions: The Lions got down to 80 players after waiving fullback James Bryant, receiver Jarett Dillard, running back Stephfon Green, safety Sean Jones, guard Jacques McClendon, linebacker Slade Norris (injured), guard J.C. Oram, defensive tackle Bobby Skinner, kicker Derek Dimke and receiver Terrence Toliver. Running back Jahvid Best’s slow recovery from a concussion landed him on the PUP list where he’ll join cornerback Chris Greenwood. Offensive linemen Jonathan Scott and Bill Nagy were placed on injured reserve and wide receiver Dominique Curry and wide receiver Isaac Madison were released.  Also, an injury settlement was reached with defensive back Don Carey, who had been on injured reserve.

Green Bay Packers: Got down to 75 on Monday by placing linebacker Desmond Bishop, running back Du’ane Bennett, tight end DeMarco Cosby, guard Ray Dominguez, defensive end Johnny Jones and receiver Shaky Smithson on injured reserve. Tight end Andrew Quarless and linebacker Frank Zombo were placed on reserve/physically unable to perform. The Packers also released fullback Jon Hoese and defensive end Jarius Wynn. Green Bay began the cuts on Friday by releasing DE Anthony Hargrove, WR Andrew Brewer, S Micah Pellerin, T Herb Taylor and CB Dion Turner.

Houston Texans: Made their moves Sunday, cutting veteran LB Omar Gaither and WR Bryant Johnson among others. They also put rookie kicker Randy Bullock on injured reserve, and waived-injured nose tackle Sunny Harris and linebacker Greg William. Linebacker Darryl Sharpton was placed on reserve-PUP, and they released the following: Tackle Nick Mondek, center Thomas Austin, punter Brett Hartmann, receiver Mario Lewis, running back Davin Meggett, defensive end Jimmy Saddler-McQueen, fullback Derrell Smith, guard Kasey Studdard and cornerback Torri Williams.

Indianapolis Colts: Got the ball rolling on Sunday by waiving cornerback Chris Rucker, cornerback Cameron Chism, cornerback Terrence Johnson, cornerback Antonio Fenelus, safety Matt Merletti, safety David Caldwell, linebacker Mike Balogun, wide receiver Quan Cosby, running back Alvester Alexander, guard Jason Foster and punter Brian Stahovich. They got to the limit Monday by placing defensive tackle Brandon McKinney and offensive tackle George Foster were placed on injured reserve, along with wide receiver Griff Whalen. Rookie defensive tackle Josh Chapman and guard Justin Anderson were placed on the reserve/PUP list, which will keep them on the shelf for at least the first six weeks.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Cut eight players on Saturday: cornerback Ashton Youboty, quarterback Nathan Enderle, receiver Chastin West, linebacker Nate Bussey, running back DuJuan Harris, cornerback Mike Holmes, tackle Dan Hoch, and linebacker Donovan Richard.  Finished the move to 75 on Monday by placing guard John Estes, guard Drew Nowak, guard/center Jason Spitz, and tight end Matt Veldman on injured reserve.  Also, fullback Brock Bolen was waived with the injured designation, and defensive end John Chick and linebacker Clint Session were shifted from the active/PUP list to the reserve/PUP list.

Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs cut 14 players Sunday to get to the limit. They released second-year wideout Jeremy Horne, who had yet to record a regular season catch, as well as former Army linebacker Caleb Campbell. Also released were: Fullback Shane Bannon, tight end Tim Biere, wide receivers Brandon Kinnie, Zeke Markshausen and Aaron Weaver, offensive linemen Justin Cheadle and Cam Hollland, defensive end Ethan Johnson (waived for failure to disclose physical condition), linebacker Dexter Heyman, defensive backs Dominique Ellis and Jean Fanor and kicker Matt Szymanski.

Miami Dolphins: Cut Hard Knocks star Les Brown as well as defensive tackle Chas Alecxih, cornerback Marcus Brown, safety Tyrell Johnson, cornerback Trenton Hughes, linebacker Josh Linam, running back Jerome Messam, defensive end Jacquies Smith and cornerback Jonathan Wade. Placed running back Jonas Gray on the physically unable to perform list.

Minnesota Vikings: Got down to 75 players on Saturday by waiving guard Bridger Buche, running back Derrick Coleman, guard Grant Cook, linebacker Soloman Elimimian, defensive back Corey Gatewood, tackle Levi Horn, defensive end Anthony Jacobs, receiver Kamar Jorden, receiver A.J. Love, linebacker Tyler Nielsen, defensive end Ernest Owusu, defensive tackle Tydreke Powell, cornerback Chris Stroud, receiver Kerry Taylor, and receiver Bryan Walters. The Vikings previously waived rookie receiver Greg Childs and rookie defensive back Nicholas Taylor, both of whom reverted to the team’s injured reserve list.

New England Patriots: Cleared out some veteran receivers, including Donte’ Stallworth and Jabar Gaffney. They also released were defensive linemen Gerard Warren and Tim Bulman and safety Ross Ventrone. Defensive back Will Allen, safety Josh Barrett and fullback Spencer Larsen were placed on injured reserve, and tight end Jake Ballard and defensive lineman Myron Pryor were placed on the reserve-PUP. Rookie offensive lineman Markus Zusevics was placed on the reserve-Non Football Injury list. The Patriots also claimed first-year WR Kerry Taylor off waivers from the Vikings.

New Orleans Saints: Beat the storm and made their cuts Monday, releasing veteran defensive tackle Remi Ayodele and quarterback Luke McCown. The Saints also waived the following players: Tight end Jake Byrne (who had a partially guaranteed contract), wide receivers Marques Clark, Kevin Hardy and Derek Moye, offensive linemen Hutch Eckerson, Paul Fenaroli and Brian Folkerts, defensive end Donavan Robinson, defensive tackle Swanson Miller, linebacker Aaron Tevis, cornerbacks Kamaal McIlwain and Cord Parks and safety Johnny Thomas (who had a partially guaranteed contract).

New York Giants: Reached the 75-man limit on Monday by placing tight end Travis Beckum and defensive tackle Chris Canty on reserve/PUP, placing offensive lineman Brandon Mosley on injured reserve, releasing cornerback Antwaun Molden and waiving tight end Ryan Purvis, defensive tackle Carlton Powell, defensive back Chris Horton, wide receiver Julian Talley, wide receiver Brandon Collins, tight end Christian Hopkins, defensive back Brandon Bing, defensive back Jojo Nicolas, running back Joe Martinek, tackle Joel Reinders and defensive tackle Oren Wilson.

New York Jets: Got down to 80 players on Saturday by cutting receiver Dexter Jackson, guard Terrence Campbell, long snapper Derek Chard, defensive tackle Matt Hardison, cornerback LeQuan Lewis, safety Marcus Lott, and receiver Raymond WebberCut to 74 Monday by dumping linebacker Ambrose Damario, receiver Stanley Aruke, receiver Wes Kemp, running back Jeremy Stewart, and kicker Josh Brown, and by waiving fullback/tight end Josh Baker with the “injured” designation.

Oakland Raiders: Made 12 moves Monday to get to the limit. They waived linebacker Korey Bosworth (nephew Brian) along with the following players: Defensive ends Mason Brodine and Wayne Dorsey, safeties Aaron Henry and Chaz Powell, cornerback Terrail Lambert, wide receivers Thomas Mayo and DeAundre Muhammad, quarterback Kyle Newhall-Caballero and fullback Manase Tonga. They also waived-injured fullback Rashawn Jackson and offensive lineman Ed Wang.

Pittsburgh SteelersMoved to 75 on Monday by releasing linebacker Ryan Baker, defensive tackle Mike Blanc, wide receiver Paul Cox, cornerback Andre Freeman, kicker Daniel Hrapmann, offensive lineman Kyle Jolly, long snapper Matt Katula, tight end Jamie McCoy, cornerback Walter McFadden, tight end Justin Peelle, safety Myron Rolle, wide receiver Juamorris Stewart, defensive tackle Kade Weston, and wide receiver Jimmy Young. Also waived linebacker Mortty Ivy with the “injured” designation.  (They’ve since reached an injury settlement with Ivy.)

Philadelphia EaglesCut to 80 on Saturday by releasing receiver Elvis Akpla, safety Wade Bonner, defensive end Xavier Brown, receiver Brian Hernandez (injured), receiver McKay Jacobson, receiver Tiger Jones, guard Alfred McCullough, safety Tom Nelson (injured), cornerback Kevin Thomas, and tackle Thomas Welch.  On Sunday, the Eagles moved to 79, by releasing former Oregon All-American cornerback Cliff Harris. They got down to 75 by placing tackle Jason Peters on the reserve/non-football injury list, defensive tackle Mike Patterson on the reserve/non-football illness list, guard Mike Gibson on injured reserve and waiving wide receiver Jamel Hamler.

San Diego Chargers: Released wide receiver Roscoe Parrish, placed guard Johnnie Troutman on reserve/non-football injury list, placed offensive lineman Brandyn Dombrowski on reserve/non-football illness list and waived wide receivers Jason Barnes, Taylor Embree and Phillip Payne, defensive tackle Eddie Brown, long snapper Nick Guess, running back Michael Hayes, tight end Brad Taylor and offensive tackle Phil Trautwein. The Chargers also reached injury settlements with defensive tackle Garrett Brown and tackle Michael Toudouze to get to 75 players.

San Francisco 49ers: Got to 75 players on Monday by placing linebacker Darius Fleming on the PUP list and running back Jewel Hampton on the reserve/non-football injury list. They also waived tackle Jason Slowey, running back Cameron Bell, linebacker Kourtnei Brown (injured), wide receiver Brian Tyms, safety Cory Nelms, wide receiver Joe Hastings (injured), wide receiver Ben Hannula, kicker Giorgio Tavecchio, defensive tackle Matt Masifilo, cornerback Deante’ Purvis , tight end Joe Sawyer and defensive tackle Patrick Butrym.

St. Louis Rams: Got down to 80 players on Monday by waiving defensive lineman John Gill, linebacker Noah Keller, fullback Todd Anderson, kicker Garrett Lindholm, running back Nicholas Schweiger, wide receiver Charles Gilbert, wide receiver Brandyn Harvey, offensive lineman Kevin Hughes, linebacker Alex Hoffman-Ellis and running back Calvin Middleton. The Rams got to 75 by waiving-injured wide receiver Danario Alexander, placing defensive tackle Trevor Laws on injured reserve and waiving tight end Brody Eldridge, offensive lineman Ryan McKee and long snapper Travis Tripucka.

Seattle Seahawks: Released on Sunday receiver Terrell Owens, guard Deuce Lutui, tackle Alex Barron, receiver Phil Bates, tackle Edawn Coughman, cornerback Donny Lisowski, cornerback Ron Parker, and running back Tyrell Sutton. Also waived the following players with the “injured” designation: linebacker Jameson Konz, defensive tackle Lazarius Levingston, cornerback Roy Lewis, and tight end Cameron Morrah.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers:   Reduced to 75 on Monday by waiving running back De’Anthony Curtis, long snapper Andrew DePaola, receiver Greg Ellingson, tight end Collin Franklin, receiver Ed Gant, punter Eric Guthrie, tackle Mike Ingersoll (injury settlement), linebacker Brian Smith, safety Tramain Thomas, and cornerback Marquese Wheaton.  Also placed guard Davin Joseph on injured reserve and shifted defensive end Da’Quan Bowers to reserve/PUP list.

Tennessee Titans: Got the to 75-man limit Sunday by placing receiver Marc Mariani on IR, safety Markelle Martin on reserve/PUP, and releasing the following players: running back Herb Donaldson, center William Vlachos, quarterback Nick Stephens, kicker Will Batson, tight end Joey Haynos, offensive linemen George Bias and Jonathan Palmer, safety Christian Scott, and receivers Chase Deadder, LaQuinton Evans, and Marcus Harris.

Washington Redskins: Kicker Neil Rackers was let go after losing kicking competition to Graham Gano.  The Redskins also released veteran offensive linemen Tony Moll and James Lee; waived running back Antwon Bailey, offensive lineman Chris Campbell, running back Lennon Creer, quarterback Jonathan Crompton, receiver Samuel Kirkland, linebacker Monte Lewis, guard Nick Martinez, and tight end Beau Reliford; waived receiver Lance Lewis with the injured designation; waived cornerback Morgan Trent with an injury settlement; traded cornerback Kevin Barnes to the Lions; and placed right tackle Jammal Brown on reserve/PUP.

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Greg Roman “pretty darned pleased” with Marcus Lattimore

San Francisco 49ers Rookie Minicamp Getty Images

Marcus Lattimore returned to practice for the San Francisco 49ers on Wednesday for the first time this season.

The second-year running back from South Carolina has yet to play in an NFL game after being drafted by the 49ers in 2013. Lattimore suffered a devastating knee injury in college and has yet to be healthy enough to play in a game. He began the season on the non-football injury list for San Francisco and the team now has 21 days to evaluate Lattimore before making a decision to put him on the active roster or face another wasted season on injured reserve.

However, early impressions from offensive coordinator Greg Roman seem to indicate Lattimore has a chance to get on the field this season.

It was good, very good … great to see him out there,” Roman said via Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com. “He worked with [running backs] Coach [Tom] Rathman after practice extra and got with some of the defensive players and got some contact work, which was really good. And I know they looked at that this morning in a pretty early meeting.

“He’s got his window and there’s a good plan in place to kind of progress him through that window and see where he’s at. Was pretty darned pleased.”

The 49ers only have two running backs on their active roster right now in Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde. Lattimore, if healthy, could bring some additional depth to a position that hasn’t been as successful for San Francisco as they’ve shown in past seasons.

 

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Seahawks hurting at center as Stephen Schilling misses practice Thursday

Max Unger, J.R. Sweezy AP

The Seattle Seahawks could be short-handed at center this week for their game against the Oakland Raiders.

Stephen Schilling has started the last three games at center in relief of an injured Max Unger. However, Schilling did not practice on Thursday due to a knee injury.

Unger has missed the last three games for Seattle after suffering a sprained foot against Washington earlier this month. While Unger has been limited in practice the last two days, his availability for Sunday’s game  also remains in doubt.

With Schilling sitting and Unger limited, Patrick Lewis picked up the additional workload for Seattle on Thursday. However, Lewis has only appeared in one game in his career, which was in brief relief of Schilling in St. Louis two weeks ago.

It remains to be seen whether Schilling’s knee injury is anything of concern or more just a day off to manage soreness. If it is an issue, it could lead to Unger having to suit up even if he’s not at 100 percent or Lewis getting the first extended playing opportunity of his career.

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Saints pick up first road victory of year 28-10 over Panthers

New Orleans Saints v Carolina Panthers Getty Images

After a sloppy first half that featured multiple turnovers by both teams, the New Orleans Saints kicked the offense into gear and cruised to a 28-10 victory over the Carolina Panthers for their first road win of the season.

Mark Ingram rushed for 100 yards and two touchdowns and Drew Brees added two touchdowns of his own – one passing and one rushing – to lead the Saints into the lead into the NFC south. Ingram is the first New Orleans running back to rush for 100 yards in consecutive games since Deuce McAllister in 2006.

The Saints had lost their first four games away from the Superdome this season and won all three games played at home prior to Thursday night. Now the Saints get four of their five games at home and appear primed to take control of the division after a slow start to the season.

Brees was intercepted by Dwan Edwards on the Saints opening possession and fumbled away the ball on their second drive of the game. However, the Panthers Offense could not capitalize on the turnovers. After a Cam Newton fumble, New Orleans responded with touchdowns on four of five possessions to put the game out of reach.

Newton was sacked and fumbled to give the Saints the ball at the Panthers 5-yard line. Ingram punched in the ball from three yards out to give the Saints the lead.

The Saints followed with a lightning quick 10-play, 85-yard drive before halftime that culminated in a 1-yard touchdown pass to Jimmy Graham to take a 14-0 lead into the locker room.

Newton scrambled for a 10-yard touchdown run cap a 10-play, 81-yard drive for the Panthers first points of the night.

Newton dumped a pass to DeAngelo Williams that Wiliams turned into a 30-yard gain to open the drive. After a potential touchdown pass was dropped by Kelvin Benjamin in the end zone, Newton pirouetted away from pressure and escaped the pocket to his left. Newton dived for the goal line and managed to get the ball to cross over the line for the touchdown.

Newton had a poor night passing. He completed just 10 of 28 passes for 151 yards and a touchdown/

New Orleans answered right back with Brees quickly sneaking the ball over the goal line to extend the Saints lead to 21-7. After a Graham Gano field goal for Carolina, Ingram added his second 3-yard scoring effort of the night to put the game away.

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Rams sign QB Case Keenum to practice squad

Case Keenum AP

The Rams have brought back Case Keenum.

St. Louis signed Keenum, the ex-Texans quarterback, to its practice squad on Thursday, according to the NFL’s transaction log.

The Rams waived Keenum on Tuesday. When he cleared waivers Wednesday, he was eligible to be added to the practice squad.

The 26-year-old Keenum started eight games for Houston in 2013. However, the Texans overhauled their QB depth chart entering this season, and Keenum lost his spot. The Rams claimed him on waivers from the Texans on Sept. 1.

The Rams are one of 19 teams carrying just two quarterbacks on the active roster. However, 14 of those clubs, including St. Louis, have at least one practice squad passer as insurance.

Overall, there are 78 quarterbacks on 53-player rosters, with 16 passers on practice squads, which were expanded to 10 players this season.

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Dick LeBeau gives Cortez Allen a vote of confidence

Andre Johnson, Cortez Allen AP

It was a tough first half of the regular season for Steelers cornerback Cortez Allen.

While Allen did sign a contract extension before the start of the campaign, he’s had a rough go of it on the field. Though he’s still listed as the Steelers’ starter at left cornerback, he didn’t get the start in the Week Eight win vs. Indianapolis. And through eight games, no qualifying cornerback has a lower grade from Pro Football Focus than the 26-year-old Allen.

On Thursday, Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau was asked about Allen’s confidence.

“Well, having been an old corner myself, a corner learns to live alone, and he’s got to believe in himself, just go out there and play, work on everything he’s doing,” said LeBeau, a Hall of Fame cornerback. “You got to believe in yourself to play corner, and I think Cortez does.

“I have a lot of confidence in him. He just got to produce and get out there and make some plays.”

LeBeau’s remarks on Allen start around the 1:15 mark of this clip. They are worth a listen, if only to hear LeBeau describe the solitary life of a cornerback.

When the 77-year-old LeBeau gives up coaching, here’s to hoping he writes a book. He certainly has an ear for dialogue. But in the meantime, there are players to be helped. And as Allen tries to regain his best form, he’s got a defensive coordinator with 14 NFL seasons as a player to his credit in his corner.

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Cam Newton touchdown run gets Panthers on the board

New Orleans Saints v Carolina Panthers Getty Images

After watching the New Orleans Saints march 85 yards for a touchdown to take a 14-0 lead in the half, the Carolina Panthers needed to get their offense jump started after the break.

Cam Newton answered the call.

Newton scrambled for a 10-yard touchdown run cap a 10-play, 81-yard drive for the Panthers first points of the night.

Newton dumped a pass to DeAngelo Williams that Wiliams turned into a 30-yard gain to open the drive, The Panthers faced two third downs on the drive and Newton used his legs to convert both opportunities. Newton ran for nine yards on 3rd and 1 from the Saints 31-yard line to keep the chains moving.

After a potential touchdown pass was dropped by Kelvin Benjamin in the end zone, Newton pirouetted away from pressure and escaped the pocket to his left. Newton dived for the goal line and managed to get the ball to cross over the line for the touchdown.

Newton has not been great from a passing standpoint – he’s completed just six of 19 passes for 77 yards and an interception – but he managed to get the Panthers in the end zone on what could ultimately be a critical drive to keep Carolina within reach of the Saints.

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Saints take 14-0 lead into halftime

saintspanthers AP

It’s fitting that tonight’s Saints-Panthers game is for first place in the worst division in the NFL, because this game has been mostly a stinker.

But the Saints came alive late in the second quarter and took a 14-0 lead into halftime.

Saints quarterback Drew Brees and Panthers quarterback Cam Newton each have two turnovers, with an interception apiece and a lost fumble apiece. But the difference has been that the Saints have been able to capitalize on the Panthers’ mistakes: Newton’s fumble deep in Saints territory turned into the first New Orleans score, and just before halftime the Saints benefited from a pass interference penalty in the end zone to set up a one-yard touchdown pass from Brees to Jimmy Graham.

Now the Panthers will need to play a lot better in the second half, or else the Saints are going to make a strong statement that they’re the best team in the NFC South. Not that that’s saying much.

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Judge denies Hernandez change of venue request

Hernandez AP

Plagiarism apparently isn’t grounds for moving the location of a murder trial.

According to the Associated Press, Judge Susan Garsh has rejected a request by former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez to move the Odin Lloyd murder case out of Bristol County, Massachusetts.

Specifically, Judge Garsh ruled that Hernandez’s lawyers had not shown that local prejudgment of the case would make it impossible to pick an impartial jury.

Lawyer Michael Fee had argued that “sensational and inflammatory” media coverage “has poisoned the jury pool in Bristol County.”  Of course, the media coverage — sensational or inflammatory or otherwise — has extended far beyond the borders of Bristol County.  It will be a challenge anywhere in the state to find 12 jurors who haven’t formed an opinion about the case based on the media coverage.

The trial currently is set for January 2015.  Hernandez also faces trial on two separate murder charges from July 2012, eleventh months before Lloyd was shot in an area not far from Hernandez’s home.

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Emmitt Smith stresses ball security

emmitt-smith Getty Images

On Thursday, Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith made the media rounds on behalf of Keurig, the company that makes the one-cup-at-time coffee machines.  The former Cowboy had some pointed advice to the player who is jeopardizing a special season, one fumble at a time.

DeMarco Murray has blamed his five lost fumbles on bad luck and on trying to get every last yard while running the ball.  Emmitt, while supportive of his successor, said something Murray needs to heed.

“Ball security is the most important thing and I learned this at a very young age,” Smith said on Thursday’s PFT Live.  “The football is the most important thing on the football field.  No matter if you get a hundred yards, no matter if you lead the league in rushing, if you turn the football over and you’re costing your team games or opportunities to win games, then it becomes a problem.

“I only want to bring it up because his performance has been stellar this entire season thus far, but you cannot help but bring it up when you’re laying the ball down, turning the ball over, and you’re taking away opportunities to either score points, whether it’s through field goals or touchdowns, or you’re taking away opportunities for your team to maintain control of the football, it’s tough to ignore.”

When it comes to fighting for that extra yard, Smith says it’s wiser to understand when to call it a play, and to move on to the next one.

“Knowing when the journey is over is one of the things I had to learn myself as a young running back and I had great coaches to try to emphasize those things when I started to have fumbling issues,” Smith said.

Murray will need even better coaching, because now he’ll be even more of a target.

“In the National Football League, once you starting laying it down on the ground, every team from this point forward is coming to tackle the football, not necessarily tackle you, so therefore you must have some ball security,” Smith said.  “Ball security must be an important thing in a running back’s mind.”

For more from Emmitt, well, you know what to do by now, don’t you?

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Brees has two early turnovers in Carolina

Minnesota Vikings v New Orleans Saints Getty Images

After playing a nearly flawless game on Sunday night, Drew Brees is off to a rough start on Thursday night.

Brees had two turnovers in just over 10 minutes to start the game, although both were flukes as much as they were anything Brees did wrong.

On the first, the Saints had marched deep into Panthers territory only to have Brees throw a pass that was deflected, took a high bounce into the air and ended up in the hands of Panthers defensive tackle Dwan Edwards. The second turnover happened when Saints fullback Erik Lorig got pushed backward in pass protection and knocked the ball out of Brees’s hand.

The Saints have moved the ball well, gaining 67 yards before the interception on their first drive and 43 yards before the fumble on their second drive. Now the Saints need to hold onto the ball.

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Jonathan Goodwin, Thomas DeCoud among inactives for Thursday night

Thomas DeCoud AP

Two Saints who were questionable for Thursday night’s game at Carolina are among the team’s inactives.

However, tight end Jimmy Graham is not among them.

Graham (shoulder) is on the Saints’ active roster, as is inside linebacker Kyle Knox (ankle), who was questionable with an ankle ailment.

However, while Graham and Knox will play, the Saints (3-4) will be without center Jonathan Goodwin (knee/ankle) and reserve tailback Khiry Robinson (forearm), who were each questionable for Thursday night.

Tim Lelito is the top backup to Goodwin on the Saints’ depth chart.

The Panthers (3-4-1) also are also down a starter who was questionable, as safety Thomas DeCoud (hamstring) is inactive. According to Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer, Tre Boston will get the call in his place.

The Panthers’ other inactives had previously been ruled out with injuries: left tackle Byron Bell (knee), cornerback Bene Benwikere (ankle), wideout Philly Brown (concussion), left guard Amini Silatolu (calf), right guard Trai Turner (knee) and tailback Fozzy Whittaker (thigh).

The Saints’ other inactives are inside linebacker David Hawthorne (hand), cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste, fullback Austin Johnson (knee), tailback Pierre Thomas (rib/shoulder) and wide receiver Nick Toon. Hawthorne, Johnson and Thomas had already been declared out for tonight’s game in Charlotte.

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Greg Hardy’s trial is continued until after season

Hardy Getty Images

As the Panthers continue to play without defensive end Greg Hardy, they may be playing without him even longer than they had thought.

Per a league source, Hardy’s jury trial on domestic violence charges has been postponed.  It had been set for November 17.

A judge previously found Hardy guilty via a preliminary trial so informal that the court doesn’t even create a transcript of the proceedings.  Hardy has agreed to, as a practical matter, a suspension with pay pending the resolution of his case.  He’s continuing to receive weekly installments of his $13.1 million franchise-tag salary.

According to the source, Hardy resisted the postponement.  He wants to get the case behind him, so that he can return to football.  Due to be a free agent after the season, Hardy will have a hard time making the case for a big contract on the open market if he hasn’t played since September.

The delay necessarily puts pressure on Hardy to strike a plea deal.  But without a clear idea of the punishment the NFL would impose under the personal conduct policy, a plea bargain carries with it a high degree of uncertainty in the Court of Goodell.

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Jake Locker says he won’t pout about being benched

Jake Locker AP

Titans quarterback Jake Locker isn’t happy about getting benched. But he’s going to try to keep his chin up.

It’s frustrating. It’s not the way you draw it up obviously,” Locker said, via 24/7 Sports. “But I don’t think you can dwell on it either. It doesn’t do anybody any good to pout about it, so I’m just gonna go forward as is now and do my part to be a productive member of this football team.”

Locker said he’ll do his best to help the man who has taken his job, rookie Zach Mettenberger.

“You want to be on the field and you want to play, but I understand that’s my role as a part of this team now. Zach was that teammate to me and I plan to do the same thing for him, help him to be as prepared as possible, as ready as possible every Sunday when he steps on the field,” Locker said.

That’s all Locker can do now. That, and wait until March, when he’ll be a free agent and can put his disappointing tenure in Tennessee behind him.

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Ronnie Hillman limited again on Thursday with shoulder injury

Hillman Getty Images

Ronnie Hillman has 283 yards rushing in Denver’s last three games.  Whether he gets a chance to build on that remains in doubt, to some degree.

Via Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com, Hillman was limited again in practice with a shoulder injury that he suffered on Wednesday.  Hillman has said that he’ll play on Sunday in New England.

If Hillman can’t carry the load on Sunday, that likely will mean more opportunities for rookie Juwan ThompsonMontee Ball remains out of practice with a groin injury.

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Eli Manning: You can’t just throw it deep and think it’s a solution

Eli Manning AP

Giants General Manager Jerry Reese said this week that the team needs to be more aggressive on offense than they’ve been while compiling a 3-4 record.

Reese’s comments come at a time when Eli Manning is completing 64.9 percent of his passes and on a pace to throw 11 interceptions, which is exactly the kind of play that the Giants spent all offseason saying they wanted to see from the offense installed by offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo. It’s come with a drop in his yards per attempt and the team hasn’t made many big plays at all, but, again, that’s the offense they seemed to want during the offseason.

Reese said that Manning is playing “pretty well,” but also suggested that the quarterback is too cautious because you have to throw the ball down the field to win. Manning has a different take on the situation.

“You can’t just start throwing it deep and [think] that’s the solution,” Manning said, via Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News.

Setting aside the issue of the tenets of the offensive scheme that McAdoo installed, Manning spent a lot of time trying to throw it deep behind an offensive line that couldn’t block last season and paid the price for it. The line’s had some better moments this season, but they’ve been less effective the last two weeks and the loss of Victor Cruz has taken away one of the players Manning liked to look for down the field. Rookie Odell Beckham appears able to pick up some of the slack in that department, but the line will need to be more consistent and the offense will have to be crisper across the board if those plays are going to open up for the Giants in the second half.

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