Kyler Murray’s rushing output is on a record pace

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Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray‘s stellar rookie season featured less running than anyone expected. His even-more-stellar second season has, so far, featured more.

While it’s still very early, Murray’s willingness to take off and to do so in a way that avoids hits and potential injuries puts him on pace to do much more on the ground than he did last year — and possibly to do more running with the football than any quarterback ever has.

Through 16 games in 2019, Murray ran the ball 93 times for 522 yards and four touchdowns. That works out to 5.81 rushing attempts per game, 5.61 yards per attempt, 32.6 yards per game, and one touchdown every four games.

Through two games in 2020, Murray has 21 runs for 158 yards and three touchdowns. That’s 10.5 per game, 7.5 yards per attempt, 79 yards per game, and 1.5 touchdowns per game.

Extrapolating these numbers over the course of a full season, that’s 1,264 rushing yards and 24 rushing touchdowns. Although the touchdown rate will be difficult to maintain, Murray’s raw abilities relative to those of the opposing defenses will make it easier for him to keep running circles around would-be tacklers. And if he gets to 1,264 yards, he’d break the single-season rushing record for quarterbacks, set just last year by Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, with 1,206.

Zack Moss out for Bills this weekend

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The Bills will be short a running back for Sunday’s game against the Rams.

Head coach Sean McDermott said at his Friday press conference that rookie running back Zack Moss has been ruled out. Moss has not practiced this week due to a toe injury.

Moss has 17 carries for 48 yards and three catches for 16 yards and a touchdown in his first two NFL games. The third-round pick’s absence should leave more work for Devin Singletary and could lead to T.J. Yeldon being active for the first time this year.

The Bills will also be without tight end Dawson Knox and linebacker Del'Shawn Phillips. Knox is in the concussion protocol and Phillips missed last Sunday’s win with a quad injury.

Mike Tomlin says to “keep watching” Eric Ebron’s development

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Steelers tight end Eric Ebron said in April that he wants to be quarterback Ben Roethlisberger‘s security blanket in the passing game, but that hasn’t happened yet.

Ebron has four catches for 61 yards while being targeted seven times in the first two games of the season. Three others have been targeted more and wide receiver Diontae Johnson‘s 23 targets suggest he’s filling that security blanket role in the early going.

Whatever the numbers, neither Roethlisberger nor head coach Mike Tomlin have concerns about Ebron’s fit in the offense.

“Keep watching,” Tomlin said, via Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “That’s all I can say to that. . . . A two-game body of work is not a big enough sample to assess. We are pleased with the development of Ebron and his role within our system, and time will tell that story as we proceed.”

Roethlisberger said there’s “no reason to panic” because the offense hasn’t hit its stride in games against the Giants and Broncos. Sunday’s game against the Texans offers the next chance for the offense to fire on all cylinders.

Falcons special teams coach credits kick, defends his players’ education

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While Falcons head coach Dan Quinn defended his special teams players for last week’s onside kick debacle, owner Arthur Blank said it looked like they didn’t know the rules.

Perhaps not, but it’s not for a lack of education.

Via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Falcons special-teams coordinator Ben Kotwica said his players were aware, but not aggressive enough.

“There is a restraining area to recover a spinning football where there is a risk if they don’t recover it cleanly that gives the kicking team the opportunity to recover the ball because then it becomes a live ball,” Kotwica said. “We should have aggressively gotten on the football. Those are smart guys. They are intelligent. They are hard-working. One went to Yale, the other one went to [Virginia]. And so we should have aggressively gotten on the ball as it got close to the restraining line.

“I’m responsible for it. I’m responsible for everything the unit does and fails to do. It’s something that we’ve looked at. We’ve made the corrections. We’ve talked to the players. We’ll do a better job and look forward to Sunday’s opportunity.”

He was referring to Jaeden Graham (Yale) and Olamide Zaccheaus (Virginia), who were part of the group standing around watching the ball spin and roll, as the Cowboys recovered.

Kotwica offered no specific endorsements of Florida Atlantic (Sharrod Neasman) or South Carolina (Hayden Hurst); though we’re sure he meant no slight to those Ivies of the South, whose alumni were also circled around the ball.

He also mentioned that the way the ball moved was unlike anything he’d seen, referencing Zach Johnson‘s putt at last week’s U.S. Open golf tournament at Winged Foot.

“What I have seen is the ball placed flat and the ball kicked in different forms,” Kotwica said. “I can’t say that I’ve seen that specific one, where the ball goes parallel to the restraining line on the 39-, 40-yard line and then, like a putt, it wing-foots and starts going down the hill to the right.

“Can’t say that I’ve seen that. I’ve seen the ball go past the restraining line and come back to the left. I’ve seen the high hop. There are a handful of kicks that you’ve seen, but again, you have to give Dallas and Greg [Zuerlein] credit for that kick. If that’s on grass, I don’t know if that happens. That’s a smooth surface.

“There are multiple onside kicks that in my whatever years this is, I’ve seen, but that is as good of a kick as I’ve seen.”

HIs team’s coverage, however, didn’t make the grade.

Mohamed Sanu: “Just wasn’t a good fit” in New England

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Wide receiver Mohamed Sanu made his 49ers debut last Sunday against the Jets and he played 13 offensive snaps without having a pass thrown his way.

That quiet outing didn’t have a negative impact on Sanu’s view of his new team. Sanu said on Thursday that he’s excited to be with the 49ers and that “this culture is more my style” than the one he was in in New England.

Sanu joined the Patriots in a trade for a second-round pick last year, but never caught on in their offense while dealing with an ankle injury. Sanu was released this summer, which left the Patriots with little to show for the trade and Sanu feeling like parting ways was for the best.

“I felt like it just wasn’t a good fit,” Sanu said, via Chris Biderman of the Sacramento Bee. “Things happened the way they happened, and I’m not really looking to the past. I’m grateful for my time in New England. It taught me a lot, just didn’t jell out how I wanted it to.”

Sanu will be back at MetLife Stadium to face the Giants and we’ll see if another week of jelling with his new team leads to more of an impact on the field.

Saints expect Emmanuel Sanders production to pick up

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It would be reasonable to expect more from Emmanuel Sanders, especially in the absence of Michael Thomas from the Saints lineup last week.

But they’re confident the veteran wide receiver will find his place soon, and become a more productive part of their offense.

“We are [just] two weeks in,” Saints coach Sean Payton said, via Luke Johnson of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “So, I see him being a big part of what we do offensively. We didn’t have enough snaps the other night, unfortunately. That time of possession was a big factor in it. . . .

His touches are going to come.

Sanders has four catches for 33 yards in his first two games with the Saints, with one touchdown.

Quarterback Drew Brees said the intent was to get some deep shots in his direction, though it didn’t work out last week against the Raiders.

“I honestly don’t feel like there have been a ton of opportunities,” Brees said. “We’ve called some downfield shots. For example, we called two in that game that were designed to go to him down the field, unfortunately, the coverage didn’t really dictate that, didn’t really allow that.

“There was a couple other opportunities that for whatever reason, just we didn’t have the time to get it to him or there was a breakdown elsewhere that did not allow it.”

Sanders is still learning the system, so it may be too soon to panic. But there are clearly some issues with the offense that haven’t been resolved, and his numbers illustrate that.

T.Y. Hilton “back to being me” after talk with grandmother

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Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton has built his career on being a reliable target for quarterbacks, but reliability hasn’t been his strong suit so far this season.

Hilton dropped two passes in the season-opening loss to the Jaguars, which led to some harsh self-criticism, and dropped what would have been a touchdown in last Sunday’s win over the Vikings. The criticism after that drop came from another member of Hilton’s family.

The wideout said on Thursday that he got a call from his grandmother telling him that he didn’t look like himself.

“She just always keeps it 100 with me,” Hilton said, via the team’s website. “She always shoots it straight with me and lets me know what’s up. She’s my rock, she’s my heart, and she called me and told me that the person that she seen on TV wasn’t her grandbaby. She knew that that wasn’t me. So, you know, it hurt me for her to tell me that, but she’s always kept it real. She said, ‘You look frustrated,’ and that’s not the way I play this game. I’m always happy, always excited. So I’m back to being me. I’m good.”

The Colts face the Jets this weekend and that should provide Hilton with plenty of opportunity to show that the first couple of weeks were an aberration.

Devonta Freeman thinks he has “a lot in the tank”

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Devonta Freeman may have looked like he was running on fumes last year, but he insists that’s not the case as he arrives with the Giants.

Freeman was acquired following the season-ending injury to Saquon Barkley, and is confident he can help his new team.

I know I still have a lot in the tank,” Freeman said, via Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post. “This was a great opportunity at the right time, coming in to compete.”

After playing just two games in 2018 because of knee, foot, and groin injuries, Freeman sputtered last year for the Falcons, rushing 184 times for 656 yards (a paltry 3.6 yards per carry).

Freeman turned down an offer from the Seahawks this offseason, and also had interest from the Eagles before signing with the Giants.

“A lot of situations didn’t fit what I want to do and some of my own personal goals,” Freeman said. “Trying to win one game at a time and when it’s all said and done hopefully win the big game.”

He’s also not walking into the best situation, but they hope he’s a quick study so he can join Dion Lewis and Wayne Gallman to try to replace some of the production they were counting on from Barkley.

Ryan Fitzpatrick beats Jaguars for sixth different team

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At this point, it almost seems inevitable that Ryan Fitzpatrick will play for another team.

And when he does, it’s equally inevitable that he’ll beat the Jaguars.

Via Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com, Fitzpatrick became the first player since at least 1950 to beat one team as a member of six different clubs.

With last night’s 31-13 dispatch of the Jags, the Dolphins joined the Bengals, Bills, Titans, Texans and Jets in triumphing over Jacksonville with Fitzpatrick at the wheel.

(Sadly, he didn’t get the chance to play against him when he was with the Rams or Buccaneers, but when you’ve played for a quarter of the league, things don’t always fall your way.)

The 37-year-old Fitzpatrick is now 6-3 against the Jaguars, losing to them twice as a Bill (2009 and 2010) and once as a Titan (2013).

Last night, he was 18-of-20 for 160 yards and two touchdowns, and ran for another touchdown.

Report: Broncos promoting Brett Rypien from practice squad

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The Denver Broncos are promoting quarterback Brett Rypien from the practice squad to their active roster, according to Brandon Krisztal of 850 KOA-AM.

Rypien is likely set to serve in the backup quarterback role this weekend against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers behind relief starter Jeff Driskel. Drew Lock is set to miss several weeks with a shoulder injury and Driskel will get the starting nod in the interim. While the team signed Blake Bortles to their roster this week, he won’t be prepared enough on short notice to adequately serve as the backup Sunday.

Right now it would be more likely Brett,” head coach Vic Fangio said, via Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post “Bortles just got into the building and we play on Sunday so that would be a tall task to expect him to be ready to play.”

Rypien was called up to the active roster last year as well in similar circumstances when Brandon Allen had to start a game in November following injuries to Joe Flacco and Lock.

Rypien is the nephew of Super Bowl MVP Mark Rypien.

JuJu Smith-Schuster says he’s playing against Texans on instagram

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Despite missing two days of practice this week due to a knee injury, you should expect to see JuJu Smith-Schuster in uniform for the Pittsburgh Steelers game against the Houston Texans on Sunday.

Smith-Schuster said via his instagram stories on Thursday night that he will be playing this weekend.

Add me on your fantasy (team), I’m playing this week,” Smith-Schuster wrote, via Brooke Pryor of ESPN.com.

The caption was on a picture of Smith-Schuster working out in the gym on Thursday night. He also missed time in practice last week before playing most of the snaps in last week’s win over the Denver Broncos.

“Guys could be limited in the early portions of the week, but I doubt it will be significant in terms of their availability,” Tomlin said, via the team’s website earlier in the week.

Smith-Schuster has 13 catches for 117 yards and two touchdowns so far this season for the Steelers.

Russell Wilson wants to be an MVP, not just get a vote

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Much has been made of Russell Wilson never getting a single vote for MVP during his eight seasons with the Seattle Seahawks.

Wilson has helped lead the Seahawks to a Super Bowl victory, two appearances, seven playoff trips and nine postseason victories in his eight seasons in Seattle. He’s never missed a game, never won fewer than nine games in a season and led the league in touchdown passes in 2017 with 34.

But despite all that success, Wilson has not earned one of the 50 votes for the MVP award at the end of any of his eight seasons in the NFL.

Wilson was asked Thursday about that reality and made it clear getting a vote for the MVP isn’t on his mind. But something else definitely is.

“I don’t want a vote. More importantly, I want to win (the award),” Wilson said.

When you examine the MVP cases through the years, it’s hard to find a significant fault with any of the votes that kept Wilson from a vote. His best statistical years came in years when the Seahawks weren’t as strong as they had been during the Super Bowl runs. The year he led the league in passing touchdowns was the one year the team has missed the playoffs. While he’s been brilliant the last two seasons especially, Mahomes and Jackson have had far better cases at the end of the year. In 2015 when he led the league in passer rating and tossed 34 touchdowns, Cam Newton led the Carolina Panthers to a 15-1 year with a big statistical season of his own.

Wilson’s played well enough to potentially have earned a vote at some point, but it’s not a travesty that he hasn’t.

But that could change this year with the stellar start Wilson has had against Atlanta and New England over the first two weeks. Wilson has completed 52 of 63 passes for 610 yards with nine touchdowns and an interception in Seattle’s wins over the Falcons and Patriots. Only Patrick Mahomes‘ 10 touchdowns in 2018 over the first two weeks of the season surpasses Wilson’s nine touchdowns passes. Peyton Manning (2013), Drew Brees (2009) and Charley Johnson (1965) also had nine touchdowns in the first two games of the season.

Wilson has frequently said he wants to be considered one of the best quarterbacks ever and views himself as the best quarterback in the NFL currently. An MVP award would be another accomplishment to check of his list.

“Obviously MVP is a special award,” Wilson said. “It’s the best football players in the world and there are so many great guys. I think about guys like Lamar (Jackson) last year, he was unbelievable last year. Such a great player. Guys like Patrick Mahomes.

“I think for me, I want to be regarded as one of the best to ever play this game to be honest with you. I think it’s part of the process and hopefully I can win enough games and do enough special things as a team to be able to do that. It’s a team award, really, I think, in terms of the MVP. It’s really a special award because everybody’s involved in it. Hopefully I can be a part of that and hopefully we can be a part of that as a team.”

Rams brace for Josh Allen

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The 2-0 Rams face the 2-0 Bills in Buffalo on Sunday, and the team from L.A. is bracing for its first experience for the phenomenon that is quarterback Josh Allen.

“He’s a big quarterback that’s mobile, that plays hard,” Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald told reporters on Thursday. “He will run through you, run past you, and he will make you miss. He can do it all. So when you get him you better come with your big boy pads and find a way to get him to the ground. You have to play physical, you’ve got to play hard and you’ve got to be the physical guy when it comes to getting him down.”

So who do the Rams compare Allen to?

“I guess like a Cam Newton, a bigger guy that can do a lot of things,” Donald said. “I would say similar, you know, different as far as body size and all that.”

Rams safety Josh Johnson made a different comparison.

“He’s like the rebirth of Ben Roethlisberger,” Johnson said, via Lindsey Thiry of ESPN.com.

Donald shared with reporters a glimpse of the team’s plan for knocking Allen off his rhythm.

“That’s putting pressure on him, getting to him, hitting him” Donald said. “Not letting him sit back there, not letting him be comfortable. That’s on us that’s up front to find a way to put pressure on him, find a way to be in his face so he can’t get those clean throws, to the point where we’re trying to make it a tough day for him.”

If the Rams don’t make it a tough day for Allen, Allen will make it a tough day for the Rams, with improved throwing and a relentless running style that puts Allen at risk, but that also puts anyone who tries to tackle him at equal if not greater risk.

Cam Robinson ejected for contact with an official

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Things are not going well for the Jaguars.

Not only are they behind 28-7, but they have lost their left tackle.

Officials ejected Cam Robinson with 4:04 remaining in the third quarter. FOX rules analyst Mike Pereira questioned the ejection.

Robinson was in the bottom of a pile after Kyle Van Noy forced a Gardner Minshew fumble on a sack. Robinson first shoved the arm of Dolphins cornerback Jamal Perry and then appeared to inadvertently shove the arm of an official, not knowing it was down judge Danny Short.

Robinson was incredulous when they announced his ejection. Will Richardson replaced him.

The Dolphins used the short field for their fourth touchdown, with Ryan Fitzpatrick getting the final yard in a four-play, 5-yard touchdown drive.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, Dolphins lead Jaguars 21-7 at halftime

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Ryan Fitzpatrick hit his first 12 passes before his first incompletion with 47 seconds remaining in the first half. It gave him a streak of 21 consecutive completions over two games, the second most completions in a row in franchise history.

He finished the first half 12-of-14 for 127 yards and two touchdowns.

The Dolphins scored on three of four possessions, taking a 21-7 lead into the locker room at halftime.

They dominated the Jaguars with 32 plays, 17 first downs, 218 yards to Jacksonville’s 27 plays, 10 first downs and 131 yards. The Dolphins held the ball for 17:48.

Miami’s points came on a 3-yard touchdown catch by Preston Williams, a 1-yard touchdown run by Jordan Howard and a 15-yard touchdown catch by Mike Gesicki.

The Jaguars’ only touchdown came on an 11-yard run by James Robinson, his second of the season.

Jacksonville has ruled out two players with injuries: Safety Andrew Wingard has a core muscle injury, and linebacker Leon Jacobs a right knee injury.