Now there’s another connection between Kuechly and Watt — Watt’s former Wisconsin teammate Chris Borland. As a 49ers rookie in 2014, Borland looked like he would succeed Patrick Willis in San Francisco as a premier inside linebacker and was often mentioned in the same breath as Kuechly.
Borland then famously walked away from the game after only one NFL season, before the accolades, before the millions. Kuechly, like Watt, has been well-compensated, and well-honored. Given how repeated concussions have felled many great players in a most brutal sport, Kuechly has given — and received — enough to ease the difficulty of walking away.
As much as that hurts for Kuechly, the difficult decision may end up being the only decision.
With their much-talked about trip to the White House out of the way, the Pittsburgh Penguins will turn their focus back to hockey Wednesday night when they visit the Washington Capitals.
The Stanley Cup winners visited President Donald Trump on Tuesday, but beyond the White House, the Penguins are not very welcome in Washington. The last time they came to town, in May, they ended Washington’s season in the Eastern Conference semifinals for the second straight year, both coming after the Capitals had won the Presidents’ Trophy.
Jones said he understands the social concerns surrounding the issue, adding that he has “always had our players’ backs on issues I’ve been criticized for.” But he said he won’t compromise when it comes to the anthem
The vice president of the United States says he attended Sunday’s game between the Colts and 49ers to help honor Peyton Manning.
Mike Pence sure had a funny way of showing it.
No matter the outcome, the retirement of Manning’s No. 18 jersey coming on the heels of Saturday’s statue unveiling outside Lucas Oil Stadium was going to be something this game would always be remembered for more than the final score. Not anymore.
The Steelers should inspire confidence that they’re back on track after that domination of the Ravens last week, except that the loss to the Bears sticks out like a sore thumb. The Jaguars ought to be furious that they let the Jets beat them; it takes a lot of the air out of the start the defense and Leonard Fournette generated. Don’t expect the Steelers to breeze through this.
The Jay Cutler honeymoon ended faster than anyone expected, as did the notion that knowing Adam Gase’s system after that one year in Chicago would make this a seamless fit. The quarterback situation is far more problematic on the other sideline, though, with Marcus Mariota’s hamstring and that his backup is … Matt Cassel. Yes, you’re spared the obvious and deserved quarterback-depth lecture.
A former governor of Indiana, Pence had been in Indianapolis as part of the celebration of Peyton Manning and his jersey retirement and induction into the Colts’ Ring of Honor during Sunday’s game.
Pence had tweeted a photo of him and his wife, Karen Pence, saying they were looking forward to cheering for the Colts and honoring Manning. But the Indianapolis Star noted that the photo appeared to be from 2014.
The photo the vice president tweeted showed him wearing a Colts polo shirt.
Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars: For the fifth consecutive game to begin his NFL career, Fournette found the end zone, helping him join a group of only four other players since 1950 with a touchdown streak of at least five games to begin an NFL career (see the chart below). He managed the first 30-point fantasy performance — PPR or non-PPR — of his young career, finishing with the best non-PPR score of the 1 p.m. ET block (30.4) and the second best in PPR (31.4). With that, Fournette now has 95.4 non-PPR and 108.4 PPR fantasy points in his five-game career.
The Lions made the playoffs in 2014, Caldwell’s first season, while Martin Mayhew was still the general manager. They got there despite a shaky offense thanks to an overachieving veteran defense and a favorable schedule. Credit current GM Bob Quinn for knowing he had work to do in taking over in 2016 to take better advantage of the window with Stafford.
One clear focus of Quinn was to rebuild the offensive and defensive lines, a good place for every GM to start. In his first draft, he landed starting left tackle Taylor Decker and starting left guard Graham Glasgow. In that same class, he also got starting defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson and stole breakout end Anthony Zettel.
The Miami Dolphins believe receiver DeVante Parker suffered a sprained right ankle during Sunday’s 16-10 win over the Tennessee Titans, a source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.
Parker left the game in the first quarter with an ankle injury and did not return. Prior to his departure, he had one catch for 6 yards.
Miami’s leading receiver entering Sunday, Parker has 18 receptions for 230 yards and one touchdown in four games.
With Parker sidelined, Jarvis Landry led all Dolphins receivers with five catches for 44 yards and a touchdown against Tennessee.
C.J. Prosise, Seattle Seahawks, ankle, (D), 4:05 p.m. ET: Coach Pete Carroll said last week that he would be shocked if Prosise did not return in Week 5. Known for being eternally the optimist, Carroll may have spoken too soon, as the doubtful tag all but ensures Prosise will miss another week.
Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys, chest, 4:25 p.m. ET: Very quietly, Elliott has been on the practice injury report with a chest injury throughout the week. Perhaps since he was a full participant daily, combined with coach Jason Garrett’s lack of concern that the injury was going to limit Elliott in any way, there hasn’t been much worry in Dallas. Elliott’s removal from the pregame injury report confirms he will be healthy enough to play when the Cowboys host the Packers Sunday.
Washington Redskins running back Rob Kelley is expected to miss Sunday night’s game against the Oakland Raiders, and tight end Jordan Reed will be a game-time decision but also is unlikely to play, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Both suffered rib injuries in last Sunday’s 27-20 win over the Los Angeles Rams.
Brissett completed a 50-yard pass to Donte Moncrief on his first series, about the only positive play the Colts mustered in Los Angeles. Now that the 23-year-old has had another week of reps in the system after his trade from the Patriots on Sept. 2, Pagano and Co. can have a bit more confidence in handing him the reins, but the situation remains less than ideal.
Andrew Luck (shoulder) remains sidelined for the foreseeable future, and the team’s failure to shore up the position until a week before the opener looks even worse after Tolzein’s performance in Week 1.
Brissett shined at times while filling in for Tom Brady early last season and has plenty of room to grow, but he’ll be stepping into a rough situation with his still-new team.
Most unusually, Lewis was targeted three times in the red zone, his most in a game since 2011 Week 12 (also three), harkening back to his 2010 season when he managed 14 red zone targets resulting in a career-best seven of his 10 touchdowns. Was this a new trend, or a one-game aberration? The latter is the wiser guess, but the red zone usage makes Lewis a name to track in the coming weeks.
Aaron Donald is officially back.
The Rams defensive tackle has been added to the team’s active roster and is expected to start Sunday against the Redskins in Los Angeles.
Donald, who ended his contract holdout last weekend, reported to the team facility and passed his physical after missing all of training camp and preseason. According to defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, Donald won’t be an every-down player in his first game back.
Elliott had never been held to less than 50 yards in a game, and the last time he was held to fewer than 80 yards on the ground was in his first game of his rookie season.
The Broncos are known for their vaunted pass defense as they have been top 5 in the NFL each of the last two seasons, but their rush defense held Elliott and the Cowboys to 40 yards on 14 carries in the blowout.
In the meantime, while Elliott was having trouble finding room to run quarterback Dak Prescott struggled mightily in the loss. He finished the day 30 of 50 for 238 yards, but he threw two interceptions and had less than 150 passing yards well into the fourth quarter of the loss.
Prescott only had four interceptions in his career coming into this game, but this was the second multi-interception game of his career. He threw two INTs in the Cowboys Week 13 loss to the Giants in 2016.
Odell Beckham Jr. will play Monday against the Lions.
The Giants receiver was a game-time decision, but felt good enough during warmups to be listed as active.
Beckham, who injured his ankle in the Giants’ second preseason game against the Browns, has not played since and has seen limited practice time through the first two weeks of the regular season.
Beckham, who caught 101 passes for 1,367 yards and 10 touchdowns last season, was bouncing around the field at MetLife Stadium Monday. He was able to run, stop and start during warmups.
Beckham’s injury occurred when Browns cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun hit him just above the right knee as Beckham leaped in an attempt to catch a high pass from quarterback Eli Manning.
Terrelle Pryor Sr., WR, Redskins: His Redskins career hasn’t begun quite as well as his fantasy owners had hoped, as he managed just 3.9 PPR fantasy points on Sunday Night Football, his worst single-game score since 2016 Week 14 (1.3) and second worst since the beginning of the 2016 season. Pryor was started in 69.3 percent of ESPN leagues, and as his point production continues to slide, so soon will his start rate. That might well be true in Week 4 facing a much tougher matchup against the Chiefs.
Derek Carr, QB, Oakland Raiders: He and the entire Raiders offense couldn’t get things going on Sunday Night Football, as Carr finished with 5.2 fantasy points, his sixth-worst single-game total in 50 career NFL games. Carr was started in 75.7 percent of ESPN leagues.
The Texans and Bengals faced off in the first real Thursday Night Football game of the season — filled with Color Rush uniforms and bad football.
Both teams headed into the game having had miserable Week 1 performances. The Texans benched Tom Savage in a 29-7 loss to the Jaguars, and the Bengals got shut out, 20-0, against the Ravens. On a short week of rest, one team was going to come out feeling better about itself, and the other, not so much.
Thursday, Deshaun Watson made his first start, and the Bengals were hoping to finally score their first touchdown of the season. That didn’t happen for the Bengals, whose only scores were a trio of field goals by Randy Bullock. They fell to the Texans, 13-9, at home.
John Ross — the NFL Combine’s 40-yard dash king — made his NFL debut on Thursday night. It didn’t get off to a great start. On his first touch, Kareem Jackson popped the ball loose.
For all the pundits, and experts who didn’t think Denver could compete in 2017, the first two weeks of the season seem to be pointing in the other direction. It’s early, but watching the Broncos dismantle the Cowboys was up lifting. Dallas is considered a contender to be the NFC representative in the Super Bowl. Denver is pushing to be in the same conversation.
Things won’t get any easier, as Denver has the toughest schedule in the NFL. If they can continue to make statements like they did against the Cowboys, it will be impossible to ignore the Broncos as a true contender.
Lynch officially made his post-retirement debut last week against the Tennessee Titans. Everything about it reminded us why we missed him so much during his year off from the NFL. But this week marks Lynch’s first game in Oakland, in front of a home crowd.
Lynch entertained us last week with his play and with classic Marshawn antics, like flipping the Titans’ Karl Klug a double bird and interrupting Jack Del Rio’s post-game presser to make sure he wasn’t going to get fined for ducking out without talking to the media.
Now Lynch will finally get to play in front of a home crowd in Oakland, his hometown that he loves so dearly. And we can’t wait.
Shortly after the end of the 2017 NFL Draft, SB Nation’s Dan Kadar posted his first mock draft for 2018. While an NFL and college football season will warp most of Kadar’s predictions, he was optimistic about the class of passers on the horizon.
USC’s Sam Darnold, UCLA’s Josh Rosen and Wyoming’s Josh Allen were projected as the top three picks, respectively. Not far behind was Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph at No. 8 and Jackson at No. 11.
Sure, some of you may have heard the fake news that Gronk played football at Arizona State. Some of you may even think you witnessed it. This didn’t happen. It must’ve been some weird group hallucination. Maybe you all need to lay off the ayahuasca, but hey, I don’t know. I’m not a doctor.
If Gronk’s origin story were a movie, what followed upon his arrival in Foxborough was a montage along the lines of Will Farrell in Elf learning how to ride the subway, or the kids in Stranger Things taking Eleven to school.
Both the Houston Texans and Cincinnati Bengals are looking to bounce back in a big way in Week 2. Not only did they both suffer humiliating defeats in the NFL’s opening weekend slate of games, but both teams’ offenses were terrible. One team will at least come out of this matchup with a 1-1 record, after what will likely be a defensive showcase at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati beginning at 8:25 p.m. ET on NFLN nationally, NBC in Houston and Cincinnati markets (live stream).
Week 1 taught us that the Texans still have a major quarterback problem — rookie Deshaun Watson is expected to get the starting nod over Tom Savage against the Bengals. Savage threw for only 62 yards against the Jaguars and was sacked six times. Worse yet, the Texans lost two tight ends (Ryan Griffin and C.J. Fiedorowicz) to concussions by game’s end.
The Bengals took over as the worst team from Ohio after their Week 1 scoreless performance against the Ravens. There were some questions about how the offense might come together over the summer. But with so many young, talented skill players added to the roster, Cincinnati was, at a minimum, supposed to be faster than it was in 2016. The Bengals will get a little help this week with the return of rookie wideout and first-round draft pick John Ross back to full health and back to the field.
Scherzer and his wife Erica are helping in a way that doesn’t seem like an obvious need at first. Some animals that have been rescued from the Houston area are being relocated to Washington D.C. and the Humane Rescue Alliance needs to make room for the incoming rescues.
To achieve their goal of making space, they are asking people to come adopt the current animals living at the shelters. In order to make this as easy as possible for anyone who is thinking about adopting, the Scherzers are covering all adoption fees until the end of the weekend.