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Conley tweets he’s ‘good to go’ after neck injury

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ALAMEDA, Calif. — Oakland Raiders cornerback Gareon Conley took to Twitter Tuesday afternoon to reassure fans that he was physically fine after being carted off the field while strapped to a gurney in Monday night’s season opener.

Conley was injured when he was accidentally kicked on the top of the helmet by teammate Johnathan Abram while the two were tackling Denver Broncos running back Royce Freeman down the right sideline in the third quarter. Conley reached for his head in pain immediately after his neck was compressed.

With Conley out, the Raiders turned to rookie cornerback Trayvon Mullen, who would have to play again Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs and reigning NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes if Conley is sidelined.

But Raiders coach Jon Gruden sounded optimistic in his weekly media conference on Tuesday afternoon, just before Conley tweeted.

“Happy to say that Gareon Conley seems to be doing OK,” Gruden said. “I think there’s a chance he might be able to play this week but we’ll have to update his status tomorrow.”

Conley, the Raiders’ first-round draft pick in 2017, missed all but two games of his rookie season with a fractured tibia before playing in 15 games last season and tying for the team lead with three interceptions.



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Josh Allen among top fantasy football free-agent finds for Week 3

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How soon is too soon to panic about your stars?

That’s a good question … without a good answer.

There are probably some of you reading this column who entered the 2019 season with huge hopes for Buccaneers tight end O.J. Howard. There is one person who wrote this column who did as well. I’m here for you, Howard enthusiasts.

Two weeks into the season, Howard is on a robust 16-catch pace. For the season. Yikes.

In any event, is it too soon to cut bait on Howard? It is. He plays a position with minimal depth and is a really talented dude.

Meanwhile, Cam Newton has sputtered out of the gates, with exactly minus-2 rushing yards. That sounds not ideal.

Do I advocate cutting bait on Newton? Nope, he’s got such a large track record of fantasy excellence that a bounce-back is entirely possible. But if you’re ready to do so and like the available options? I’m not against finding a replacement quarterback, especially in a 10- or 12-team league.

By the way: It’s not just single players you’re taking stock of right now. If you’re interested in the overall direction of your squad, try this tool added to our site. Whether you’re trending up or down, there’s always time to examine which players can help.

Time now for the Week 3 ESPN Fantasy waiver adds.

All players listed are available in more than 50% of leagues on ESPN.com.

Let’s talk replacement quarterbacks first: With Ben Roethlisberger out for the season, Drew Brees out for potentially six weeks or more and Newton’s struggles, this could be a quarterback-heavy week on waivers. Some names of note:

Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills (28.1%)

Allen has looked improved as a thrower this season, but what gives him an edge is his mobility as a runner. He has scored a rushing touchdown in each of his two games, with the latest in Week 2 on an awesome designed run by playcaller Brian Daboll. The passing game still has room to grow, but the floor created by the rushing makes Allen a viable starting candidate in deeper leagues (12 teams or larger).

Jacoby Brissett, QB, Indianapolis Colts (12.0%)

Brissett’s play has been satisfactory up to this point, but it’s his upcoming schedule that really intrigues. He hosts Atlanta and Oakland before traveling to Kansas City for a Week 5 tilt with the Chiefs. He has been over 16 points in each of his first two starts, with five combined touchdown passes to this point.

Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati Bengals (9.8%)

Dalton’s passing yardage through two games is absurd. He has coasted past 700 total yards in large part due to the Bengals’ ineffective ground game and a poor defense that has left them playing from behind frequently. That doesn’t figure to change much going forward; there has been enough life in Zac Taylor’s passing offense to consider a roll of the dice, although Week 3 will be tough sledding against the Bills.

Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, San Francisco 49ers (24.3%)/Jameis Winston, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (42.9%)

These are two streaming candidates to consider for Week 3, as Garoppolo — coming off a strong effort in Week 2 — hosts the Steelers prior to his Week 4 bye, while Winston and the Bucs host the Giants before a difficult two-game road trip to face the Rams and Saints.

All other positions

Jaylen Samuels, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers (26.0%)

James Conner left Pittsburgh’s game early due to a knee issue, opening the door to him missing time. Samuels filled in admirably when Conner went down late last season and is a major value add in the passing game. While Benny Snell Jr. will see some work too if Conner is forced to miss time, there’s little doubt that Samuels will carry value right away. He’s a priority add.

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Colts to stick with struggling Vinatieri as kicker

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INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts will not be making a kicking change — for now.

Coach Frank Reich said Monday that they plan to stick with the struggling Adam Vinatieri as their kicker.

“Just want to make this clear, Adam is our kicker,” Reich said. “Like I said [Sunday], we have zero concern. He’s not only our kicker, he’s an instrumental leader on our team. When we talk about toughness and what we’re all about as a team and program, there’s probably no one who epitomizes that more than Adam.”

Vinatieri will be the kicker against the Atlanta Falcons for the Colts, but there’s a chance they may not have All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard. Leonard, according to Reich, suffered a concussion against the Titans and is in the protocol.

Vinatieri’s playing future appeared murky after he missed two more kicks — both extra points — in Sunday’s victory over the Tennessee Titans to bring his total of misses up to seven over the past three games, dating to last season’s playoffs. It has taken him only two games to tie the same number of missed extra points he had last season — three — in 47 attempts.

Vinatieri, the NFL’s all-time leading scorer with 2,605 points, left the locker room without talking to the media on Sunday. Colts owner Jim Irsay didn’t hold back in making some strong comments about his team’s kicker for the past 14 seasons.

“Of course it’s a concern,” Irsay said Sunday. “I can’t lie to you guys … the expectation is to win when you’re a professional. So we have to figure out where we’re at there and see what Coach and [general manager] Chris [Ballard] think is the best direction.”

Reich and Vinatieri met Monday on the team’s day off, with the coach declining to say what was discussed.

Vinatieri, who is in his 24th season, admitted that he was “100%” responsible for Indianapolis’ Week 1 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Chargers after he missed three kicks. The Colts could have dropped to 0-2 if not for a strong defensive performance in the fourth quarter against the Titans.

“He will figure it out, do what he needs to do,” Reich said. “Has it been two weeks of subpar? Yes. Is it catastrophic? No. To me it’s far from catastrophic. This is the NFL. Some of the most elite players that I’ve ever played with or coached, I’ve seen them have bad games back-to-back. That’s the way I see it.”

The Colts’ decision to stick with Vinatieri is looked at as somewhat risky, considering how poorly he has played lately. Not every player in the NFL would get the same leeway that Vinatieri is getting from the Colts.

“There’s high standards for every person on our team but we all have to understand there’s high standards, but to stay they are equally applied the same to all people is probably not realistic,” Reich said. “The more games a guy has played, the more he’s done, you get a little bit more latitude.”

Vinatieri dealt with a knee problem that sidelined him for a portion of training camp. Reich described his kicker as a physical “powerhouse” and said he doesn’t see the knee as an issue despite Vinatieri continuing to receive treatment on it.

In a span of less than a year, Vinatieri has gone from passing Morten Anderson on the NFL’s all-time scoring list to now having every kick in practice, pregame warm-ups and games heavily monitored, while also potentially forcing Reich to go for it on fourth down or go for 2 points instead of kicking the extra point.

“We’re always going to make the call at the time that gives us the best chance to win,” Reich said. “In a strange way, before that game started [Sunday], I was kind of hoping it kind of came down to a 60-yard field goal to win the game. Hoping that’s going to happen one of these games, and there’s nobody I would trust more than Adam Vinatieri. Doesn’t mean he’s going to make every kick. Shoot, he’s human.”

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AB denies new sexual misconduct claim

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The attorney for New England Patriots wide receiver Antonio Brown said the player denies a claim of sexual misconduct with a female artist who was working in his western Pennsylvania home in 2017.

The allegation was part of a Sports Illustrated report that detailed domestic incidents involving Brown, a charity auction theft and multiple unpaid debts.

The report comes in the wake of ESPN’s Jeff Darlington reporting that Brown declined to sign a $2 million-plus agreement with his former trainer Britney Taylor to settle a sexual assault allegation.

The NFL was scheduled to meet with Taylor on Monday as part of its investigation into the matter, sources told ESPN.

According to the Sports Illustrated report, Brown had hosted a charity softball game in Pittsburgh to benefit the National Youth Foundation, a Pennsylvania-based volunteer group of women that promotes inclusion and gender equality, as well as developing academic skills in kids. The event had an auction that included artwork, and Brown agreed to purchase a portrait of himself before befriending the artist who created it.

Brown invited the artist to come to his home to create another painting of him, according to the report, arranging for transportation from New York to western Pennsylvania. The artist told SI that she was thrilled by Brown’s willingness to share her work on social media, but on her second day, things changed.

According to the report, which did not include the artist’s name, the artist “was in a kneeling position while painting and turned to find Brown behind her, naked, holding a small hand towel over his genitals.” The artist said she didn’t stop painting and that “after that, it all ended abruptly.”

Brown paid her $2,000, according to SI, and didn’t contact the artist thereafter.

The artist is not pursuing charges or remuneration, according to SI, but said that friends with whom she had shared the experience pointed out the lawsuit Taylor filed against Brown last week.

Requests for the $700 payment for the original auction painting have gone unanswered, the National Youth Foundation and the artist told SI.



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