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What Todd Gurley’s lightened workload means for Malcolm Brown, Darrell Henderson – Los Angeles Rams Blog



THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — The Los Angeles Rams have implemented an every-other-day practice schedule for running back Todd Gurley throughout training camp.

The plan is to build Gurley’s workload so he’s prepared for the season opener against the Carolina Panthers, then is able to remain available through the season and into the playoffs. But Gurley and his left knee aren’t the only beneficiaries of his lightened training camp load.

Longtime backup Malcolm Brown and rookie Darrell Henderson have shared a bulk of the snaps with the starting offense in Gurley’s absence.

“The biggest learning point in this game is just having experience,” Brown said. “So being able to get the reps during practice when T.G. has those off days, I’m thankful for it, because it’s not doing anything but getting me better.”

Brown and Henderson could find themselves playing a significant role depending on the status of Gurley, although coach Sean McVay won’t commit to any increased playing time.

“That’s to be determined,” McVay said, when asked if Brown in particular could play a larger role this season on offense. “That’s a product of some of the other things that end up happening.”

The Rams matched an offer sheet from the Detroit Lions to keep Brown, a restricted free agent this offseason, paying him $3.3 million for another two seasons.

Brown, a 5-foot-11, 222-pound fifth-year pro, has enjoyed McVay’s starter treatment in preseason games. He has not played a snap, and is unlikely to, as McVay has attempted to shield most of his key players from injury.

Brown said sitting out the preseason has increased his confidence.

“It’s not just confidence in myself but these coaches and my teammates that have confidence in me,” Brown said. “And for the coaches to look at me as a player who may have a crucial role and not playing in the preseason and everything, that’s something I’m happy about, and it just kind of shows that the coaches have trust in me and confidence in me.”

Brown could have had a breakout last season when Gurley was out. But Brown was not available after suffering a clavicle injury in Week 13 against the Lions. His absence played a large role in the Rams signing free agent C.J. Anderson, who produced back-to-back 100-yard rushing performances against the Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers with Gurley and Brown sidelined.

“The more you’re around Malcolm, the more you appreciate him,” McVay said. “He can compete well in really all three phases. That’s as a runner, as a receiver and then if he’s asked to be involved in the protection element.”

Last season, Brown rushed for 212 yards in 43 carries and caught five passes for 52 yards and a touchdown in 12 games. He also was a standout on special teams.

“Malcolm’s been just Mr. Consistent ever since I’ve been here and has always filled in that role and that void if Todd is ever not able to go,” quarterback Jared Goff said. “I feel as comfortable with him and everything as I do with Todd.”

McVay called Henderson, a third-round pick from Memphis, the “change-of-pace back” he’s been in search of since he took over in 2017. But it remains to be seen what kind of impact the 5-foot-8, 208-pound Henderson can make as a rookie.

He came off the bench in the preseason opener against the Oakland Raiders and rushed for 13 yards in six carries. McVay noted some bright spots, but pointed to the nuances of the position as things Henderson must improve on.

He showed progress in Week 2 of the preseason against the Dallas Cowboys, when he rushed for 16 yards in six carries and caught all six of the passes he was targeted on for 38 yards — including an impressive 26-yard reception on third down.

“For the most part, he made some big-time catches, you could feel him in the pass game,” McVay said. “Not a whole lot of space in the run game, but I think overall, good ball security. It was a step in the right direction where he was on the screws with his assignments.”

Henderson said he has been able to adjust to the speed of the NFL quickly because of four joint practices with the Los Angeles Chargers and Raiders that preceded preseason games.

“I wouldn’t say [speed] was faster because from practice seeing the defense fly everywhere and like, going against the Raiders, I think it was kind of — it kind of had slowed down for me because seeing those guys fly around,” Henderson said.

Running back John Kelly, a sixth-round pick in the 2018 draft from Tennessee, also is making a push to secure a roster spot and a place in the rotation. Against the Cowboys, Kelly rushed for 11 yards in five carries and caught one pass for nine yards.

“He had some big-time catches that he ended up creating afterwards to get us in some third-and-manageables on a second-and-long,” McVay said. “He had some tough runs early on where he bounced it out on the perimeter on some of our downhill, direct runs.”

Brown called his training camp experience “Real solid” and said it was probably his “Best one yet.”

But, like McVay, he could not commit to an idea of increased playing time, despite the increase in practice reps.

“We going to see what happens,” Brown said. “We’re going to see.”

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‘Blessed’ OBJ torches Jets in return to MetLife



EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — When asked his feelings about New York Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, Odell Beckham Jr. responded, “Who?” Then, the Cleveland Browns wide receiver let out a smile.

OBJ made his point both during — and after — Cleveland’s 23-3 win on Monday night, highlighted by a pair of spectacular plays.

On the game’s opening drive, Beckham hauled in a one-handed grab near the same pylon of his famous one-handed stab at MetLife Stadium with the New York Giants five years ago. Then in the third quarter, Beckham hauled in a quick slant off a run-pass option play from quarterback Baker Mayfield and raced a career-best 89 yards to the end zone.

Earlier in the week, Beckham accused Williams of teaching “cheap shots” and “dirty hits,” and he said that led to an ankle injury that nearly derailed his career two years ago. The next day, Williams responded to the charge with a joke, saying, “Odell who?” He then went on downplay the notion that Beckham was a “dynamic” player.

“Everybody has a right to their own opinion,” Beckham said after the game. “He’s a phenomenal coach and he’s got a great defense. I’m done talking about it.”

Beckham let his play do his talking.

He finished with six receptions for 161 receiving yards, outproducing the entire Jets pass-catching corps, which collectively had only 125 yards receiving.

“Pretty dynamic,” deadpanned Mayfield, who seemed stunned to find out that Williams had suggested otherwise. “He’s a special guy.”

On his touchdown, Beckham actually reached a maximum speed of 21.7 miles per hour, the fastest any player has run while scoring this year, according to NFL NextGen Stats.

Beckham had battled a hip injury throughout the preseason, which landed him on the injury report. He also noted he had to work through cramps in his calves and tightness in his hamstrings Monday. But Beckham said that he’s now feeling great in every way after two games with his new team.

“I think I’m in a better physical, mental space than I’ve ever been in my life,” said Beckham, who celebrated his maiden score with the Browns by pantomiming opening a front door with a key, as if to signify, “I’m home” in MetLife. “I was joking with my trainers, I’m trying to hit 24, 23 [miles per hour]. Not saying it’ll happen, but I’m working for it.

“It didn’t feel like [that was] fastest I could run. I was just trying to get to the end zone.”

Officials took away Beckham’s other opportunity to reach the end zone on the opening drive. Two plays after his one-handed catch, officials removed Beckham from the field on third-and-goal, saying his visor was too reflective. Without Beckham in the game, Mayfield threw an incompletion and Cleveland had to settle for a field goal.

“It’s just frustrating. I feel like I’ve grown a lot, to be better, do better and it’s always something,” said Beckham, who admitted he doesn’t know what visor he’ll be wearing going forward. “I don’t want to break any rules. I just want to play football.”

Beckham also complained last week about being singled out by the league for wearing a $189,500 Richard Mille watch during the season opener. The NFL said the watch violated a league rule against players wearing “hard objects.” Beckham didn’t wear a watch in Monday’s game, though he did warm up with a different designer watch beforehand. When asked about it after the game, and whether it actually cost $2 million, as some had speculated over social media, Beckham played it coy.

“I’m off of it,” he said of the watch. “I don’t really have any comment about it.

“I’m just blessed.”

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Fires! Floods! Bees! On-field fire at Colts-Titans is the latest stadium mishap



It’s all fun and games until one of the pyrotechnics machines malfunctions, and suddenly you’ve got a fire erupting on your football field.

That’s exactly what happened at Nissan Stadium ahead of the Colts-Titans game on Sunday. Fortunately, the staff acted swiftly to extinguish the flames and no one was injured — but it didn’t make the blazing in-stadium fire any less alarming for those in attendance.

While it might be the first of the NFL season, the pyrotechnics incident of 2019 is far from the first bizarre mishap in sports. Whether it be a weird flex by Mother Nature or untimely field irrigation, here are some of the moments that have left us in a collective state of confusion over the years:

Giants-Reds swarmed by bees, 2019

When bees attack! You really can’t make this stuff up. A swarm of bees set up shop by home plate at Great American Ball Park and eventually ventured into the stands, forcing an 18-minute delay to the start of the game.

Oddly enough, it’s not even the first time the Giants have been involved in a bee delay in Cincinnati, as a swarm went into the Giants’ dugout at Riverfront Stadium in 1976, forcing a 35-minute delay.

Un-bee-lievable. (I’m sorry, I’ll see myself out.)

IUP basketball team wears opponent’s jerseys, 2019

File it away under: Opponent stole my look. The visiting Indiana University of Pennsylvania Crimson Hawks showed up for their game against Edinboro without uniforms.

When questioned about the unique situation, a spokesperson for the school explained that one of the team managers simply “forgot to bring them.” So being the gracious hosts that they were, the Fighting Scots offered up their old road uniforms.

IUP went on to win the game 87-59 to capture the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference West Division crown — we’re going to go out on a limb here and say that losing to a team rocking your own unis probably hits a little differently.

Celtics-Sixers premature confetti, 2018

Well, this was awkward. Tying up a playoff game in the final seconds of regulation only to eventually lose in OT is painful to begin with — add a premature confetti release to the mix and it’s downright brutal.

It was the final 10 seconds of Game 3 of the second-round matchup between the Celtics and the Sixers when chaos ensued. The game was tied 87-87, but Philly turned it over and gave Boston an easy layup with only 1.7 seconds left on the clock. Marco Belinelli then nailed an absurd jumper and this thing was headed to OT.

Cue the celebratory confetti.

… Oops. Classic case of peaking too soon.

The start of OT was delayed slightly so they could sweep up the aforementioned confetti. The Celts would go on to win the series 4-1.

Super Bowl XLVII power outage, 2013

Perhaps the most infamous of all stadium-related mishaps in sports: The time the lights went out during the Super Bowl.

It feels like just yesterday that Mercedes-Benz Superdome fell to darkness early in the third quarter, suspending play between the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens for about 34 minutes. Officials from Entergy, the utility company supplying power to the Superdome, said the outage could be attributed to an “abnormality.”

Ah, yes, an abnormality — an explanation not even remotely satisfactory to Ravens fans who were convinced the incident was an attempt to halt Baltimore’s momentum.

San Francisco would go on to score 17 points in the span of 4 minutes, 10 seconds once play resumed, but the Niners’ comeback eventually came up short.

Diamondbacks-Mets sprinkler system interruption, 2005

Rain delays are common, sure. But how about sprinkler-induced infield flooding delays? Yeah, those are a little more rare, and a different animal entirely.

Pedro Martinez was on the mound at Shea Stadium as the sprinklers went off for an untimely field irrigation. Despite getting absolutely drenched, Pedro remained unbothered. The Hall of Famer even took a drink from the sprinkler, which is probably the most underrated part of this video.

The Mets would go on to win the game 6-1 and Pedro was quoted as saying, “Water is blessing to me, and I got wet.” It’s all about perspective, people.

Sharks mascot gets stuck, 1999

Somebody come get your man … er, shark.

In an NHL first, S.J. Sharkie — the San Jose Sharks mascot — got stuck while attempting to rappel down from the ceiling during pregame introductions.

Despite dangling helplessly 25 feet above the ice for quite some time, Sharkie’s spirits remained high as he continued to fire up the crowd. The San Jose staff brought over safety mats just in case the beloved mascot should fall as they attempted to rescue him from the precarious position.

Eventually they were able to pull him back up to the ceiling and to safety, but the dangling Sharkie situation would go on to live in NHL infamy.

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Steelers’ move for Minkah Fitzpatrick bold, calculated — and a bit desperate – Pittsburgh Steelers Blog



On the surface, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ decision to deal a first-round pick to the Miami Dolphins for safety Minkah Fitzpatrick reeks of desperation. They are 0-2, just lost their franchise quarterback for the year and see the Super Bowl window closing fast. The stage was set for Pittsburgh to get a high pick in 2020.

But the Steelers have never done business with draft positioning in mind. Win now is always the culture. The Steelers feel strongly enough about Fitzpatrick’s talent — and affordable rookie contract with an average base salary of $2.1 million for the next three seasons — to justify any pick the team could muster in April’s draft.

The move says a lot about where the Steelers are, and where they will be:

Roethlisberger isn’t retiring

Despite an elbow injury that could take the better part of 12 months from which to recover, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is likely back for next season. He’s not a lock to start Week 1, but Roethlisberger said in his statement Monday he’s honoring all three years of his deal.

Roethlisberger will be 38 in March, which is a reasonable number thanks to the blueprint set by Drew Brees and Tom Brady. Surrounding him with high-level pedigree is crucial.

The defense needs the help

As news broke midweek that the Dolphins were willing to deal Fitzpatrick, the 11th overall pick in 2018, I was told the Steelers wouldn’t be involved in the preliminary wave for him. Giving up a first was too steep for a franchise that values such capital.

But giving up 61 points through the first two weeks with what should be an improved defense must have pressed Pittsburgh to negotiate harder. They are tired of watching their safeties almost make plays. Terrell Edmunds’ athletic gifts should turn into consistent performance eventually, but they haven’t yet.

Fitzpatrick gives the Steelers a versatile safety who can help cover the slot and erase mistakes on the back end. He also can serve as a potential replacement for Sean Davis, who’s a free agent in March. A three-man safety lineup of Fitzpatrick, Edmunds and Davis is much better than what the Steelers rolled out in a 33-3 loss to New England in Week 1.

The defense now has eight former first-round picks in its starting lineup. If Mike Tomlin can’t make that work …

This speaks loudly about Rudolph

The Steelers had no intentions of selecting a quarterback in the top 10 next year despite Roethlisberger’s injury. General manager Kevin Colbert believes Mason Rudolph is a first-round talent, and the team is clinging to that belief with this move.

Teammates say they believe in Rudolph and their words don’t feel empty. He prepares hard, and that has earned their respect.

They also probably looked at the draft class of quarterbacks and figured they would win enough games to have no shot at Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa or Oregon’s Justin Herbert.

But that outside chance makes this move incredibly risky. If the season tanks and the rebuild is on, the Steelers just traded away a potential replacement quarterback.

But the Steelers will sell this: We have two good quarterbacks already. That promotes bold ideas.

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