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PFT’s Week Nine picks

Chiefs Getty Images

Alas, I failed to gain any ground on MDS in Week Eight.  I didn’t lose any either.  We each went 10-3, splitting the two games on which we differed.

This week, we disagree on three games.  Which means I can cut his four-game lead down to one.  (I was always good at math.  Speling not so mutch.)

For the year, he’s 81-39, and I’m 77-43.

For a complete look at this week’s picks, just keep on reading.

Actually, I don’t care if you keep reading.  The click already has been registered.

Bengals at Dolphins

MDS’s take: The Bengals are surging and the Dolphins are falling. I see Cincinnati winning big and NFL Network televising another Thursday night game that many fans will turn off at halftime. Also, never bet against a team that wears black and orange on Halloween.

MDS’s pick: Bengals 30, Dolphins 10.

Florio’s take:  This is precisely the kind of game that the Bengals can lose.  Road game against an overmatched opponent with four straight losses and general disarray.  But a skeptical nation will be watching this one while discreetly bogarting its children’s Halloween candy.  One of the best teams in the AFC will step up, or risk not being perceived as one of the best teams in the AFC.

Florio’s pick:  Bengals 31, Dolphins 20.

Chiefs at Bills

MDS’s take: The Bills’ defense is good enough to hold the Chiefs’ offense in check, so this game should be close into the fourth quarter — certainly closer than you’d think for an 8-0 team facing a 3-5 team. I have a funny feeling a big play on special teams late in the game will give this one to the Chiefs.

MDS’s pick: Chiefs 17, Bills 14.

Florio’s take:  It’s time.  The Chiefs have flirted with disaster the last two Sundays at home, narrowly beating the Texans and the Browns.  This week, the Chiefs go on the road, where they really haven’t been tested this year.  The Bills have easily beaten the Chiefs each of the last two years.  While this one won’t be a blowout, it’s time for someone to score more points than the last undefeated team in the NFL.

Florio’s pick:  Bills 23, Chiefs 20.

Falcons at Panthers

MDS’s take: The Falcons are finished. The Panthers are playing great football right now. Carolina has won three straight games by more than two touchdowns, and Sunday will make it four in a row.

MDS’s pick: Panthers 35, Falcons 17.

Florio’s take:  It’ll be interesting to see if the Panthers can recover from a 10-point deficit.  With the defense playing as well as it is, that may not happen any time soon.  With some tough games looming, the Panthers could get a tough test from a team fighting for its playoff life.  Based on how the Falcons played in Arizona last week, it won’t matter.

Florio’s pick:  Panthers 24, Falcons 17.

Vikings at Cowboys

MDS’s take: The Cowboys’ defense may be shellshocked after what Calvin Johnson did to them on Sunday, but there’s no way the Vikings’ terrible passing game is going to make big plays in Dallas. The Cowboys will probably only need to win eight games to win the NFC East, and they’ll earn their fifth win on Sunday.

MDS’s pick: Cowboys 27, Vikings 13.

Florio’s takeAdrian Peterson returns home to Texas to face a team that could really use him.  Even without him, they have enough firepower to defeat a Vikings team that could be worse than the 3-13 edition from 2011.

Florio’s pick:  Cowboys 35, Vikings 17.

Saints at Jets

MDS’s take: I expect Rex Ryan’s defense to rebound from last week’s disaster in Cincinnati and play well against the Saints’ offense, but I don’t expect Geno Smith to play much better than he did last week. As a result, the Saints win a low-scoring game.

MDS’s pick: Saints 20, Jets 14.

Florio’s take:  It’s a Ryan twins reunion in New York.  Even though the Jets are doing better than expected, they aren’t good enough to close a major gap in talent one week after being blown out by the Bengals.

Florio’s pick:  Saints 30, Jets 17.

Titans at Rams

MDS’s take: The Rams were more competitive than I expected them to be in Monday night’s loss to the Seahawks, but the Kellen Clemens-led offense is going to be in a lot of low-scoring losses the rest of the season. That’s what I expect to happen when Jeff Fisher’s old team comes to town.

MDS’s pick: Titans 14, Rams 13.

Florio’s take:  The Titans play their first game ever without owner Bud Adams — and against long-time coach Jeff Fisher.  With Tennessee having two weeks to get ready and the Rams operating only six days after a physically and emotionally draining loss to the Seahawks, this could be the ugly result everyone expected on Monday night.

Florio’s pick:  Titans 27, Rams 13.

Chargers at Redskins

MDS’s take: Washington is just not a good team in any phase of the game: The offense still looks like it needs last year’s Robert Griffin III, the defense allows too many big plays in the passing game and the special teams are an absolute disaster. San Diego will put a lot of points on the board and win an easy one.

MDS’s pick: Chargers 31, Redskins 17.

Florio’s takePhilip Rivers owns a 5-1 record against Mike Shanahan.  The Chargers are rested and the Redskins are reeling after suffering a 38-point second-half barrage against the Broncos.

Florio’s pick:  Chargers 24, Redskins 14.

Eagles at Raiders

MDS’s take: Everyone has spent so much time in the last couple weeks asking what’s wrong with Chip Kelly’s offense that a lot of people are overlooking all the problems with the Eagles’ defense. When you can’t even force a turnover against the Giants’ offense — and the Eagles’ defense couldn’t last week — you know something is wrong. Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor makes his share of mistakes, but the Eagles don’t have the defense to take advantage of those mistakes. Pryor will make enough big plays with his feet to win this one and make Kelly wish he had a quarterback like Pryor.

MDS’s pick: Raiders 20, Eagles 10.

Florio’s take:  The Raiders complete a rare two-game sweep of Pennsylvania’s pro football teams without ever having to leave the Bay Area.  All four NFC West teams will be at or above .500 come Sunday, thanks to their ability to pulverize the teams of the NFC East.

Florio’s pick:  Raiders 17, Eagles 9.

Buccaneers at Seahawks

MDS’s take: The Buccaneers are playing as badly as any team in the NFL right now. Seattle is the toughest place to play in the league. The Seahawks can name their score.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 41, Buccaneers 13.

Florio’s take:  Two teams that entered the NFL together in 1976 couldn’t be more different in 2013.  While the Bucs still have the bragging rights that come from winning a Super Bowl, the Seahawks could be on course to match that achievement this year.  Tampa will be a minor speed bump along the path to New York

Florio’s pick:  Seahawks 31, Buccaneers 10.

Ravens at Browns

MDS’s take: Browns quarterback Jason Campbell actually played well against the tough Chiefs’ defense, and the Ravens haven’t been playing well recently. Call me crazy, but I think the defending Super Bowl champions are going down in Cleveland.

MDS’s pick: Browns 20, Ravens 14.

Florio’s take:  The team that used to be the Browns has beaten the Browns 11 straight times.  If the Ravens can’t run that streak to 12, their five-year run of playoff berths could be ending, too.  Rested and re-focused, the Ravens will find a way, as they always seem to do when they need it most.

Florio’s pick:  Ravens 20, Browns 10.

Steelers at Patriots

MDS’s take: The Patriots have had so many injuries that they feel like they’re going to fall apart at any moment, but there they are in their customary spot atop the AFC East. They’ll keep it going against the Steelers.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 27, Steelers 21.

Florio’s take:  The Steelers can win if they commit fully to the run, and if they can find a way to slow down a good-not-great New England offense.  Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger seems to be too determined to prove he’s still a franchise quarterback to buy in to a run-based attack, even if the team’s use of the Wildcat means that the Steelers no longer view him as a true game changer.

Florio’s pick:  Patriots 24, Steelers 21.

Colts at Texans

MDS’s take: Case Keenum may provide the Texans a spark, and the Colts may be due for a letdown. I’m tempted to pick Houston to pull off an upset and snap their five-game losing streak, but I just can’t pull the trigger on it.

MDS’s pick: Colts 21, Texans 20.

Florio’s take:  Two weeks after Peyton Manning returned to his adopted home of Indianapolis, Andrew Luck returns to his real home of Houston.  The question is which Colts team will come with him — and whether Case Keenum can build on his near miss against the Chiefs from Week Seven.  I’ll say the one that lost to the Chargers, and yes.

Florio’s pick:  Texans 27, Colts 20.

Bears at Packers

MDS’s take: In this week’s only matchup of teams with winning records, the Packers will strengthen their grip on the NFC North race with a win over the Bears. Both teams are banged up, but the Bears’ loss of Jay Cutler and Lance Briggs makes it tough for them to win anywhere. I certainly don’t see them winning in Green Bay.

MDS’s pick: Packers 34, Bears 17.

Florio’s takeJosh McCown, Luke McCown, Cade McNown.  Either way, it’s a McLoss, McDog.  Green Bay keeps rolling toward another division title, as long as the quarterback doesn’t join the injured list.

Florio’s pick:  Packers 35, Bears 21.

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Report: Giants center Weston Richburg fined for taunting

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - AUGUST 22:   Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants calls out the play as  Weston Richburg #70 prepares to make the snap in the first quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars during preseason action at MetLife Stadium on August 22, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

Giants center Weston Richburg became the first player to be ejected from a game for picking up two separate unsportsmanlike conduct penalties under the new league rule requiring disqualification for such offenses.

The latter of the two penalties Richburg incurred has now led to a fine as well.

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, Richburg has been fined $12,000 for taunting Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman. Richburg is appealing the fine.

Richburg was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for loudly and profanely (the interaction was clearly heard on the TV broadcast) disagreeing with a holding call against him. Then in the fourth quarter, Richburg blocked Norman from behind on a catch and run by Odell Beckham. He then turned around and stood over Norman, which drew the second flag and the ejection.

Richburg felt the umpire was out to get him. Now the league is out to get in his wallet.

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Wednesday’s PFT Live asks which undefeated team will be the last to lose

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 18:  Strong safety T.J. Ward #43 of the Denver Broncos tackles tight end Jack Doyle #84 of the Indianapolis Colts in the red zone in the third quarter of the game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 18, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) Getty Images

Wednesday’s PFT Live features a visit from safety T.J. Ward of the 3-0 Broncos. Which meshes well with the question of the day: Which 3-0 team will be the last to lose?

The candidates are the Broncos, Eagles, Patriots, Ravens, and Vikings.

The Eagles definitely won’t lose this weekend; they don’t play. The other four do.

Cast a vote here, argue your case in the comments, and tune in at 6:00 a.m. ET on the radio side, 7:00 a.m. ET for the NBCSN simulcast.

Also joining us will be Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald. The Dolphins face the Bengals on a short week, after narrowly defeating the Browns on Sunday.

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Antonio Brown confirms he was told to change shoes or stay in the locker room

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 25:   Malcolm Jenkins #27 of the Philadelphia Eagles breaks up a pass to Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the second quarter at Lincoln Financial Field on September 25, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) Getty Images

Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown changed out of his yellow and blue shoes at halftime of last weeks loss to the Eagles, but not by choice.

On his weekly Pittsburgh radio show Tuesday night, Brown confirmed that game officials gave him a choice: Change his shoes or stay in the locker room.

That was first reported by Mark Kaboly of DKPittsburghSports.com.

Brown changed his shoes for the second half. His yellow and blue shoes were an NFL uniform violation.

When Brown was fined for his blue shoes and his touchdown dance in the season opener, he said the fines were “nothing to a boss.” But the boss wanted to keep playing, so he changed his shoes last Sunday.

He can expect another fine this week.

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Report: Cardinals to sign long snapper Aaron Brewer

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After parting with long snapper Kameron Canaday after a botched field goal snap that led to a Buffalo Bills touchdown last week, the Arizona Cardinals brought in a pair of long snappers for tryouts on Tuesday.

According to Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com, former Denver Broncos and Chicago Bears long snapper Aaron Brewer won the competition and will be signed by the Cardinals.

Brewer and Tyler Ott both worked out for Arizona on Tuesday.

Ott has appeared in just one regular season game playing for the New York Giants last season. He has also spent time with the New England Patriots and St. Louis Rams during previous offseasons.

Brewer has played in 64 games for the Denver Broncos over the last four seasons. He spent the offseason with the Chicago Bears before being released.

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Texans will sign Antonio Smith

Antonio Smith AP

The Texans are planning to sign veteran defensive end Antonio Smith to a one-year deal, PFT has learned.

The signing will become official Wednesday when the Texans place All-Pro defensive end J.J. Watt on injured reserve. Watt re-injured his back in last Thursday night’s loss to the Patriots.

Smith, 34, played for the Texans from 2009-13. He played in all 16 games as a backup for the Broncos last season.

Smith has 47 career sacks in 173 career games, 133 starts. He entered the league as a fifth-round pick of the Cardinals in 2004.

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Colin Kaepernick calls debate “embarrassing to watch”

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump listens to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton during the presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) AP

In the week of the first presidential debate, neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton but Colin Kaepernick occupied the cover of Time. On Tuesday, Kaepernick was asked if he saw the 98-minute back-and-forth.

I watched a little bit of it,” Kaepernick told reporters, via Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group. “To me it was embarrassing to watch that these are our two candidates. Both are proven liars and it almost seems they’re trying to debate who’s less racist. At this point . . . you have to pick the lesser of two evils but in the end it’s still evil.”

Plenty of people feel the same way as Kaepernick. Regardless, in a nation of 319 million people, these are our two primary options.

At a time when the country seems to be more divided than ever, we seem to be destined to become even more divided, regardless of the outcome of the election.

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J.J. Watt could miss rest of season with back injury

HOUSTON, TX- OCTOBER 09: J.J. Watt #99 of the Houston Texans celebrates an Indianapolis Colts fumble after he returned it for a touchdown in the fourth quarter in a NFL game on October 9, 2014 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) Getty Images

Football’s top defensive player could be done for the year.

Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt has re-injured his back and is expected to miss significant time, possibly the rest of the season, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports.

According to the report, the Texans are still gathering information about the injury, which he apparently suffered Thursday night in New England.

Watt was dealing with a back injury throughout the offseason, and after he underwent surgery to repair a herniated disc, there were some reports over the summer that he might not be able to return in time for the beginning of the regular season. He has played all three games this year, but he hasn’t looked like himself.

Now the Texans may be looking at playing the rest of 2016 without the three-time NFL defensive player of the year. That would be a massive loss to the playoff hopes of the team that is currently leading the AFC South.

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Seahawks look at eight players, but no quarterbacks

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 25:  Quarterback Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks warms up prior to the game against the San Francisco 49ers at CenturyLink Field on September 25, 2016 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) Getty Images

If Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson can’t play on Sunday with a knee injury, the team apparently will be content to roll the dice with undrafted rookie Trevone Boykin.

On Tuesday, the Seahawks tried out eight players. None were quarterbacks.

Getting look-sees were running backs Bernard Pierce, Kenny Hilliard, Tommy Bohanan, and Darrel Young, defensive back Chimdi Chekwa, receiver Jamel Johnson, linebacker Randell Johnson, and defensive end Rufus Johnson.

Wilson has a sprained MCL. If it’s a low-grade tear, he should be able to play. Coach Pete Carroll has said that Wilson will practice on Wednesday.

The team’s interest in running backs comes from the leg injury suffered nine days ago by Thomas Rawls.

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Colts alter routine as they prep for London trip

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JANUARY 03:  Head coach Chuck Pagano of the Indianapolis Colts talks to his players during the game against the Tennessee Titans at Lucas Oil Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Colts held what was basically a walkthrough Tuesday, normally a day off for players.

It’s not a normal week, though, as the Colts play the Jaguars in London Sunday. This marks the fourth straight year the Jaguars will play a home game in London, but the experience is new to the Colts.

“The theme is to keep the main thing the main thing, and that’s preparation, prepare, do everything, try to keep things as normal as possible from a preparation and practice standpoint,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said, per the team’s official transcript. “You have to make a few adjustments here and there, but at the end of the day it’s focus and mindset on one thing and one thing only, and that is getting win No. 2.”

The Colts, who rallied to beat the Chargers last Sunday, will fly to London Thursday evening and practice after arriving Friday morning. Pagano said the team kept things light Tuesday but felt that using the day to begin prepping for the Jaguars was necessary given the circumstances.

“We are just coming off a really physical and mental-draining game, as you know,” he said. “We had really good, long meetings, [an] introduction to Jacksonville. We will amp it up tomorrow. We will amp it up Thursday.”

Sunday’s game kicks off at 9:30 a.m. ET.

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Cardinals try out several punters and long snappers

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 11:  Punter Drew Butler #2 of the Arizona Cardinals walks off the field following the NFL game against the New England Patriots at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 11, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. The Patriots defeated the Cardinals 23-21.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Cardinals will be adding a long snapper this week. They also plan to add a punter, too.

Per a league source, the Cardinals worked out Tim Masthay, Michael Palardy, and Ryan Quigley on Tuesday. Whoever gets the job will serve as the short-term solution while Drew Butler (pictured) recovers from an Achilles injury.

With Kameron Canady released, the Cardinals also tried out long snappers Tyler Ott and Aaron Brewer.

The next punter could have a chance to give Butler the boot; he is averaging a career-low 40.3 yards per punt in 2016, along with a career-low 33.7-yard net.

Butler will still serve as the holder. Botch field-goal attempts fueled by bad snaps have marred both of Arizona’s losses in 2016.

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Lions bring back Aaron Dobson

GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 01:  Aaron Dobson #17 of the New England Patriots looks on during warm ups prior to Super Bowl XLIX against the Seattle Seahawks at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

It’s not quite the full-blown 54-man roster trick, because receiver Aaron Dobson still isn’t a vested veteran and must pass through waivers. Still, Dobson is emerging as the early bottom-of-roster option in Detroit for player who is cut in order to create a roster spot for a position of need and then re-signed the following week.

That’s precisely what the Lions have done with Dobson, waiving him last week and bringing him back this week.

A second-round pick of the Patriots in 2013, Dobson was cut by the Patriots as the 2016 rosters reduced to 53.

Some teams will cut a vested veteran last in a given week, allowing a practice-squad player to be promoted for game day. Then, the vested veteran will be resigned the following week, getting full pay for both weeks.

Per a league source, the Lions also kicked tires on Tuesday on four other players: defensive end Quinton Coples, linebacker Bjoern Werner, and tight ends Justice Cunningham and Adrien Robinson. None were signed.

Copies and Werner are former first-round picks who currently are looking for their next NFL opportunities. The Lions have a need at pass rusher, given the ankle injury suffered in Week Two by Ziggy Ansah.

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Bears signing defensive lineman C.J. Wilson

CJWilson Getty Images

The Bears are signing defensive tackle C.J. Wilson, his agents announced on Twitter.

Wilson, 29, spent time with the Raiders and Lions last season. He was released by the Saints in August.

He’s a veteran of 78 career games and 19 starts, and he’ll have a chance to contribute immediately on a Bears defense that’s dealing with multiple injury issues.

Wilson was part of a Bears tryout Tuesday that included running back Joique Bell, tackles Clay DeBord, Colin Kelly, and Arturo Uzdavinis, guard Austin Shepherd and defensive tackle Sealver Siliga. The Bears signed Bell to the active roster and signed Kelly to the practice squad.

The Packers selected Wilson in the seventh round of the 2010 draft and he played his first four seasons in Green Bay. He has 6.5 career sacks.

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Collins says he’ll rest for now, surgery decision will come later

La'el Collins AP

Cowboys guard La’El Collins told reporters Tuesday that he plans to rest his injured toe for two weeks before a decision is made on whether he needs surgery.

Collins has torn ligaments in his right big toe. He was placed on injured reserve Monday, but he’ll eligible to return in eight weeks if he’s healed and up to speed. Collins is wearing a protective boot and undergoing treatment in hopes the injury will heal without surgery.

There had been conflicting reports on whether or not surgery would be necessary, and also whether an eventual decision would be dictated by how much pain Collins could tolerate or if the injury would heal in time for a return this season.

Ronald Leary will move into the starting lineup at left guard.

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Panthers sign Michael Griffin

KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 28:  Free safety Michael Griffin #33 of the Tennessee Titans in action during the preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on August 28, 2015 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Panthers have made a veteran addition to their secondary.

The team announced Tuesday that they have signed former Titans safety Michael Griffin. Griffin was released by the Titans in February and signed with the Vikings in March, but didn’t make Minnesota’s roster coming out of the preseason.

Griffin, a 2007 first-round pick, played 141 games for the Titans over nine years with the organization. He was a two-time Pro Bowler during his run in Tennessee, but his play had slipped by the end of his time with the team.

He’ll join Kurt Coleman, Tre Boston and Colin Jones in Carolina with Dean Marlowe on injured reserve and Marcus Ball getting waived to make room for Griffin.

The Panthers also confirmed the signing of defensive tackle Kyle Love, who will help fill in for the injured Vernon Butler, and announced that defensive end Ryan Delaire is headed to injured reserve with a knee injury.

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Get to know Zachary Orr

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 11: Linebacker Zach Orr #54 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates in the first half of the Buffalo Bills vs. the Baltimore Ravens game at M&T Bank Stadium on September 11, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Ravens have one new first-year starter in 2016: Linebacker Zachary Orr. The undrafted free agent from North Texas in 2014 has made the most of the assignment, leading the team in tackles and notching the game-clinching interception to seal Sunday’s win at Jacksonville.

Orr joined PFT Live on Tuesday to discuss his team’s performance to date, the moment when he realized he belongs on the field with the rest of the Baltimore defense, and the strong temptation to keep running with the ball after he picked it off, in an effort to score a touchdown in a game the Ravens led by only two points.

Get to know him now, because based on the way he’s playing you’ll be hearing his name a lot more frequently throughout the rest of the season, and beyond.

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