DeMarcus Lawrence says being in a contract year isn’t why he’s playing well

AP

Demarcus Lawrence had four sacks, tying him for the league lead. However, earlier this week, after a review of the game film from the Cowboys’ season opener against the Giants, the Elias Sports Bureau took a half sack from the defensive end and gave it to defensive tackle Maliek Collins.

The statistics service is the only thing that has kept Lawrence from sacks. He also has a team-leading six quarterback pressures and a forced fumble.

“I think the key is my back is feeling good, and I’m paying more attention to details,” Lawrence said, via Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News. “It’s slowing the game down a lot for me. Plus, my coaches and my players are helping me get in the right position to make plays.”

The former second-round pick had back surgeries after the 2015 and 2016 seasons. He also served a four-game suspension last season.

This season, he has nothing standing in his way. In fact, Lawrence has much to play for, as he’s in the final year of his four-year, $5.5 million rookie contract.

“It’s way bigger than that,” Lawrence said. “I mean, it’s a contract year, so what? I want to be here forever. This year don’t define me as a player. Y’all might say it’s because it’s a contract year, but the first year I was balling. My second year I was balling. My third year I had trouble with my back, so it didn’t seem like I was there. This year doesn’t define me.”

Lawrence, who had eight sacks in 2015 and one in 2016, might prove to be the “War Daddy” pass rusher owner Jerry Jones has sought since releasing DeMarcus Ware. At this rate, though, Lawrence is going to cost more than the Cowboys expected to pay.

Tank Carradine could be headed for IR

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Among the various injures sustained last night for the 49ers was an ankle sprain for defensive lineman Tank Carradine. Coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters on Friday that Carradine could be headed for injured reserve.

“Tank has got a high ankle sprain,” Shanahan told reporters. “We haven’t gotten his MRI back, but we’re going to have to get that and really decide whether IR or not, because any time you’ve got a high ankle sprain, it’s going to be a while. So we’re not exactly sure how long it’s going to be. We’ll have to decide that probably Monday.”

Carradine, a second-round pick from Florida State in 2013 who would have been a first-round pick but for a torn ACL, was on the verge of becoming a full-time starter. He started two of three games in 2017 after starting only once in four prior seasons.

Each team can bring back up to two players per year from IR, after eight weeks.

Trump to NFL owners: Fire players who don’t stand for the national anthem

AP

President Trump today called on NFL owners to cut any players who don’t stand for the national anthem, the strongest statement yet from the president about the anthem protests that began last year with Colin Kaepernick and have since grown to include players on several teams.

“We’re proud of our country. We respect our flag,” Trump said to loud applause at a campaign event in Alabama. “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now’? He’s fired! He’s fired!”

Trump said an NFL owner who releases a player would instantly gain broad support across America.

“Some owner’s gonna do that. He’s gonna say, ‘That guy that disrespects our flag? He’s fired. And that owner . . . they’ll be the most popular person in this country. Because that’s total disrespect of our heritage. That’s total disrespect of everything we stand for,” Trump said.

Trump added that he believes fans should walk out if players don’t stand for the anthem.

“If you see it, even if it’s one player,” Trump said, “Leave the stadium.”

C.J. Anderson: Fastest I ran all game vs. Cowboys was to meet Jason Witten

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Most NFL players were NFL fans growing up, which means young players are often playing with and against their childhood idols. In the case of Broncos running back C.J. Anderson, meeting a childhood idol was the biggest thrill of Sunday’s game.

Anderson, whose Broncos beat the Cowboys on Sunday, couldn’t wait to meet Dallas tight end Jason Witten, who’s been in the NFL since Anderson was 12 years old.

“After the game, I saw him in the tunnel, and I literally did sprint, that was the fastest I ran the whole game, just to shake his hand and tell him how much I appreciate him, and thank him for being such a great role model,” Anderson told NFL Media.

Anderson played like a grown man, carrying 25 times for 118 yards against the Cowboys. But once the game was over, he was like a kid mingling among his football heroes.

NFL suspends Ra’Shede Hageman six games

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The NFL has suspended former Falcons defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman six games, Ian Rapoport of NFL Media first reported. The league placed him on the commissioner’s exempt list Sept. 2 as a result of domestic violence related charges, and the Falcons released him two days later.

Hageman, currently a free agent, does not need to be on a team to serve the suspension.

He was arrested in March 2016 on domestic violence charges stemming from an alleged incident with the mother of his child. Hageman faced misdemeanor charges of battery, cruelty to children and interfering with calls for emergency assistance, via the Associated Press.

Hageman, a second-round pick in 2014, made four sacks and 61 sacks in his three seasons in Atlanta.

Kyle Shanahan on offensive pass interference: I saw a very good route

AP

In postgame interviews, Kyle Shanahan didn’t have much to say about the offensive pass interference penalty called against his team late in Thursday’s game. The 49ers coach said then that he “didn’t see it.”

After seeing it, Shanahan said a lot by saying little.

“I saw a very good route,” Shanahan said, via quotes distributed by the team.

In other words, the 49ers aren’t buying the flag thrown on receiver Trent Taylor.

Brian Hoyer completed an 11-yard pass to Taylor on third-and-10, down to the Rams 39 with less than two minutes to go. It would have given the 49ers a first down and put them in field-goal range.

Hoyer threw an incompletion on third-and-20 and took a sack on fourth down, and the Rams ran out the clock.

Derrick Henry could start with DeMarco Murray listed as questionable

AP

Titans running back Derrick Henry could make the second start of his career Sunday. Tennessee lists DeMarco Murray as questionable with a hamstring injury.

Henry has 20 carries for 117 yards and a touchdown this season, while Murray has 21 carries for 69 yards and no touchdowns.

“[Henry] appears to be the type of guy that the more you hand it to him, the stronger he gets,” Titans offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie said, via Jason Wolf of The Tennessean. “At the end of the day, he’s getting strong and hopefully those guys are getting weaker. But he appears to be a guy that the more he touches it, the stronger he gets.”

Murray played 37 of the team’s 68 snaps Sunday before leaving with a tight hamstring, which cost him much of training camp and the preseason. Henry played 30 offensive snaps.

Murray, who led the league in rushing in 2014 with the Cowboys, returned to practice Friday but was limited.

“Both could be the starter on any team,” Titans coach Mike Mularkey said. “We’re just very fortunate that we’ve got them on our team.”

Week Three injury report roundup

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Week Three kicked off on Thursday with a Rams win and it continues with 14 more games on Sunday, which means that the 28 teams in those games submitted their final injury reports of the week on Friday.

Questionable players are uncertain to play, doubtful players are unlikely to play and out should be self-explanatory. Players who are on active rosters and don’t appear below should be considered healthy enough to play barring any announcements on Saturday. The teams playing on Monday night won’t release their injury reports until Saturday and are not listed here.

With that housekeeping out of the way, here are all the injury reports for Sunday.

Ravens vs. Jaguars (in London)

The Ravens have a long injury list for their transatlantic trip. DT Brandon Williams (foot), TE Maxx Williams (ankle), T Dieugot Joseph (not injury related) and CB Jaylen Hill (thigh) have all been ruled out for Sunday. WR Michael Campanaro (ankle), DB Anthony Levine (chest), WR Chris Matthews (ankle), LB Za'Darius Smith (knee/ankle) and RB Terrance West (calf) have been listed as questionable.

LB Lerentee McCray (knee) and WR Jaelen Strong (hamstring) will not play for the Jaguars. QB Chad Henne (illness), CB Jalen Ramsey (ankle) and T Cam Robinson (shoulder) drew questionable tags.

Broncos at Bills

It looked like Broncos T Garett Bolles (lower leg) might be out a long time after being carted off last week, but he’s listed as questionable. WR Bennie Fowler (concussion) is also questionable while CB Brendan Langley (knee) and QB Paxton Lynch (right shoulder) have been ruled out.

The Bills have three players on this week’s report and all of them have been ruled out. DT Marcell Dareus (ankle), T Cordy Glenn (ankle) and DT Jerel Worthy (concussion) will be the missing pieces for Buffalo.

Saints at Panthers

The Saints ruled out four players — T Terron Armstead (shoulder), CB Marshon Lattimore (concussion), CB Sterling Moore (chest), T Zach Strief (knee) — for their NFC South clash. DE Trey Hendrickson (knee) is listed as questionable.

LB Jeremy Cash (calf) and C Ryan Kalil (neck) are missing a second straight game for the Panthers. QB Cam Newton (right shoulder, ankle) is listed as questionable, but no one in Carolina talked about him as anything but definite.

Steelers at Bears

T Marcus Gilbert (hamstring, illness) and LB T.J. Watt (groin) will miss the game for the Steelers. T Jerald Hawkins (knee) and DE Stephon Tuitt (biceps) are both questionable to return in the lineup.

Bears LB Nick Kwiatkoski (chest) is out while G Josh Sitton (ribs) is doubtful and T Tom Compton (hip) is questionable.

Falcons at Lions

The Falcons head to Detroit without the services of LB Vic Beasley (hamstring), T Ryan Schraeder (concussion), DE Courtney Upshaw (ankle, knee) and RB Terron Ward (neck/shoulder).

LB Jarrad Davis (concussion), RB Dwayne Washington (quad) and S Tavon Wilson (shoulder) have been ruled out by the Lions. DE Ziggy Ansah (knee) is joined in the questionable category by G Joe Dahl (lower leg) and C Travis Swanson (ankle).

Browns at Colts

The Browns won’t have LB Jamie Collins (concussion) in the lineup and they don’t expect to have WR Sammie Coates (hamstring) or DE Myles Garrett (ankle) after listing them as doubtful. DT T.Y. McGill (back) is questionable to play in Sunday’s game.

Injury lists were lengthy for the Colts the first two weeks and things haven’t changed. C Ryan Kelly (foot), QB Andrew Luck (right shoulder), RB Marlon Mack (shoulder), WR Chester Rogers (hamstring), LB Anthony Walker (hamstring) and CB Quincy Wilson (knee) are all out and CB Vontae Davis (groin) is doubtful to play. There’s also four questionable players — WR Kamar Aiken (hip), S Darius Butler (hamstring), CB Chris Milton (hamstring), TE Brandon Williams (calf) — to add to the woes.

Buccaneers at Vikings

The Buccaneers will try for a second straight win without LB Kwon Alexander (hamstring). DT Chris Baker (illness) and DE Jacquies Smith (illness) are listed as doubtful with LB Devante Bond (knee), CB Brent Grimes (shoulder), DT Gerald McCoy (ankle) and G Kevin Pamphile (illness) landing in the questionable category.

The Vikings have just one player on the injury report, but it’s QB Sam Bradford (knee) and he’s out for the second straight game.

Texans at Patriots

G Jeff Allen (ankle), WR Will Fuller (shoulder) and CB Kevin Johnson (knee) will not play for the Texans. RB Alfred Blue (ankle) and DT Brandon Dunn (knee) are listed as questionable.

RB Rex Burkhead (ribs) is out for the Patriots. WR Danny Amendola (concussion, knee), T Marcus Cannon (ankle, concussion), WR Phillip Dorsett (knee), S Nate Ebner (shoulder), CB Stephon Gilmore (groin), TE Rob Gronkowski (groin), LB Dont'a Hightower (knee), WR Chris Hogan (knee), LB Elandon Roberts (thumb), CB Eric Rowe (groin) and WR Matt Slater (hamstring) make up a long list of questionable players, although Amendola and Gronkowski both said they are ready to go.

Dolphins at Jets

LB Rey Maualuga (hamstring) is out again for the Dolphins and DT Jordan Phillips (ankle) is doubtful. RB Jay Ajayi (knee), WR Jarvis Landry (knee), WR DeVante Parker (ankle) and RB Damien Williams (rib) make up a quartet of questionable players on offense.

The Jets ruled out TE Eric Tomlinson (elbow) and G Brian Winters (abdomen). TE Jordan Leggett (knee) and S Rontez Miles (eye) will likely miss the game after being listed as doubtful. TE Will Tye (illness) and DE Muhammad Wilkerson (shoulder) are questionable to play.

Giants at Eagles

Giants LB B.J. Goodson (shin), T Bobby Hart (ankle) and LB J.T. Thomas (groin) have been ruled out. CB Janoris Jenkins (ankle) is questionable after missing Monday night’s game.

The Eagles will be short on defensive backs after ruling out CB Ronald Darby (ankle), S Corey Graham (hamstring) and S Jaylen Watkins (hamstring). S Rodney McLeod (hamstring) is questionable, so things might get even thinner. DT Destiny Vaeao (wrist) is also out and WR Torrey Smith (illness) is also questionable.

Seahawks at Titans

The Seahawks ruled out CB Neiko Thorpe (ankle) and listed LB D.J. Alexander (hamstring) as doubtful. LB Terence Garvin (shoulder) and TE Jimmy Graham (ankle) got questionable tags, although the signs point to Graham playing.

The Titans ruled out S Johnathan Cyprien (hamstring) and WR Corey Davis (hamstring). RB DeMarco Murray (hamstring) is questionable after getting hurt in last week’s game.

Bengals at Packers

The Bengals ruled out TE Tyler Eifert (back), G Trey Hopkins (knee) and WR John Ross (knee). DE Michael Johnson (concussion, stinger), CB KeiVarae Russell (hamstring) and S Derron Smith (ankle) make up the questionable contingent for Cincinnati.

The Packers are holding out limited hope for T David Bakhtiari (hamstring), S Kentrell Brice (groin), WR Randall Cobb (chest), DT Mike Daniels (hip), CB Davon House (quadricep), LB Nick Perry (hand) and LB Jake Ryan (hamstring, concussion) after listing them as doubtful. T Bryan Bulaga (ankle) and WR Jordy Nelson (quadricep) have greater hopes of playing after getting the questionable tag.

Chiefs at Chargers

Center Mitch Morse (foot) is out for the Chiefs and offensive lineman Parker Ehinger (knee) is doubtful to play.

The Chargers ruled out CB Jason Verrett (knee) for the second straight week and WR Mike Williams (back) will be out for the third time. RB Melvin Gordon (knee), T Joe Barksdale (foot) and LB Hayes Pullard (knee) are listed as questionable.

Raiders at Redskins

CB Sean Smith (neck, shoulder) is listed as questionable and makes up the entire Raiders injury report.

LB Mason Foster (shoulder), RB Rob Kelley (rib), S Montae Nicholson (shoulder), CB Josh Norman (shoulder and TE Jordan Reed (rib, sternum) are all listed as questionable for the Redskins.

Cliff Avril fined $9,115 for facemask

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Seahawks defensive lineman Cliff Avril cost his team 15 yards Sunday against the 49ers. He cost himself $9,115.

That’s what the league fined him this week for a facemask penalty.

During Carlos Hyde‘s 27-yard run with seconds remaining in the first half, Avril inexplicably grabbed tight end George Kittle‘s facemask away from the play.

It gave the 49ers a first down at the Seattle 28 with 33 seconds remaining until halftime. They got a field goal out of it to tie the Seahawks 6-6 at intermission.

Ezekiel Elliott will play for the next two games, at a minimum

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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has spoken, sort of.

Ignoring the league’s request for a ruling by September 26 on the emergency motion to stay the injunction that allows Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott to play while the legal challenge to his six-game suspension proceeds, the Fifth Circuit has set oral argument on the matter for Monday, October 2.

This means that Elliott will play on Monday night against the Cardinals and next Sunday against the Rams, in a game that has become far more compelling after L.A.’s thrilling 41-39 win over the 49ers on Thursday night. Elliott’s suspension could commence as soon as Week Five, depending on whether the Fifth Circuit stays the injunction or rules that the injunction was erroneously granted in quickly after the October 2 hearing.

The league’s primary argument arises from the fact that Elliott filed his lawsuit before arbitrator Harold Henderson issued a ruling on the appeal of the suspension, making the entire case premature and preventing the Texas federal court in which the lawsuit was filed from acquiring proper jurisdiction over the dispute.

Evan Engram fined for celebration that cost Giants 30 yards

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Giants tight end Evan Engram cost the Giants valuable field position and cost himself some money with a celebration on Monday night against the Lions.

Engram was fined $12,154 for unsportsmanlike conduct, grabbing his crotch after scoring a touchdown.

That was a 15-yard penalty, but it was really more like a 30-yard penalty for the Giants: The ensuing kickoff was moved back to the 20-yard line, and the kickoff went out of bounds at around the 7-yard line. By rule, when a kickoff goes out of bounds, the receiving team can take the ball 25 yards from where the ball was kicked. Ordinarily that means the receiving team’s 40-yard line, but with the ball already moved back 15 yards, it meant the Lions got the ball on the Giants’ 45-yard line.

So a kickoff that would have been a touchback if kicked from the 35 went out of bounds when kicked from the 20. That gave the Lions an extra 30 yards of field position. A costly penalty in more ways than one.

Patriots rookie Harvey Langi fined for facemask

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Undrafted rookie Harvey Langi made his NFL debut Sunday. The Patriots linebacker played six defensive snaps, 12 special teams snaps and made one special teams tackle.

He also came out of it with a $9,115 fine for unnecessary roughness.

Langi was penalized for grabbing a facemask on a first-quarter kickoff. It gave the Saints good field position at their own 38, and they went 34 yards before settling for a field goal.

Langi’s tackle came later in the quarter when he stopped Saints returner Alvin Kamara.

OBJ not fined for block that caused Jarrad Davis concussion

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The Lions don’t have a problem with the block in the back from receiver Odell Beckham Jr. that shoved first-round rookie linebacker Jarrad Davis into a concussion. The NFL doesn’t have a problem with it, either.

According to the league, Beckham won’t be fined for the maneuver, which didn’t draw a flag but probably should have. It would have been a surprise if a fine had been imposed, since illegal blocks aren’t the kind of safety violations that can directly lead to injury.

Davis will miss Sunday’s game against the Falcons, an absence that will make it difficult for the Lions to contain a potent Atlanta offense.

Travis Kelce avoids fine for taunting

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Chiefs coach Andy Reid is tired of talking about tight end Travis Kelce‘s extracurricular activities on the field and he won’t have to answer any questions about a fine for Kelce’s most recent penalty.

PFT has confirmed with the league that Kelce was not fined after receiving a taunting penalty during last week’s victory over the Eagles.

Kelce was penalized for going over to the Eagles sideline, which included his brother Jason, and engaging with them after running back Kareem Hunt scored a touchdown.

Kelce was not quite as lucky during the first week of the season. Kelce ended a post-play tussle with Patriots linebacker Kyle Van Noy by slamming a ball into Van Noy’s groin and drew a $12,154 fine for the effort.

Noah Brown not fined for low block on Von Miller

AP

Von Miller didn’t like it, but Cowboys receiver Noah Brown did nothing illegal with a low block on the linebacker that injured Miller’s knee.

The league did not fine Brown.

“Von Miller is a great player, and he gets blocked a lot of different ways,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Friday when asked about Miller’s complaint. “He’s certainly been cut a lot of times in his life. So we have a tremendous amount of respect for him. Noah was trying to execute that block as well as he could to keep him out of the play.”

Miller called Brown’s block “dirty” on Wednesday, via Troy Renck of Denver7, and “just baffling” on Thursday.

Miller’s knee limited him in Wednesday’s practice, but he returned as a full participant Thursday.

“I saw that he was critical of it,” Brown, a seventh-round pick who was making his NFL debut, said via Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “He did fall a little bit funny. But I had no ill intentions. The block that I did was legal. There was no flag, no penalty, no fine. I hope he’s all right. I hope he has a great season. There was no ill intentions.”