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Browns fire coach Freddie Kitchens after 1 season, 6-10 finish

Even after a dispiriting loss to the lowly Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, Cleveland Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens spoke like he’d have a job to come to on Monday.

Turned out, he would not.

Shortly after the team landed from Cincinnati, owner Jimmy Haslam and general manager John Dorsey met with Kitchens at the team’s practice facility to fire him following one season in which Cleveland finished 6-10.

“We thank Freddie for his hard work and commitment to this organization but did not see the success or opportunities for improvement to move forward with him as our head coach,” the Haslams said. “Our focus is on hiring an exceptional leader for this football team and we will take a comprehensive approach to this process. We are excited about the core players we have to build around and develop and we look forward to bringing in a strong head coach that will put this group of players in the best position to succeed.“nfl nike jersey cheap

The Haslams have now gone through six head coaches, including interims, since buying the team in 2012. Cleveland will be hiring its 12th head coach since returning to the NFL in 1999.7

After another listless performance in Sunday’s 33-23 loss to the then-1-14 Bengals, yet another coaching move in Cleveland felt unavoidable – even as Kitchens pushed back on any inevitability.

“We’ve got meeting scheduled through next week, and I’m looking forward to going to work tomorrow,” Kitchens said. “They have not given me any indication of anything else. Mr. Jimmy and Dee, I think they want me to do my job, and that’s what I’m gonna do – until they tell me not to, if they tell me not to.”

The Haslams had seen enough, as Kitchens’ brief tenure was enveloped by discipline issues and distractions.

The Browns ranked in the top five in penalties and penalty yardage all season.

Then on Nov. 14, in the closing seconds of a victory over Pittsburgh, star defensive end Myles Garrett ripped the helmet off Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph and slugged him in the head with it. The incident left Garrett suspended indefinitely, and the ensuing melee led the NFL to fine both the Browns and Steelers $250,000 apiece.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Before the Dec. 1 rematch, Kitchens was photographed at the movies wearing a “Pittsburgh started it” T-shirt, a reference to the brawl. After the Steelers won the game 20-13, which severely damaged Cleveland’s playoff chances, several Pittsburgh players criticized Kitchens for wearing the shirt.

Kitchens, who originally came to Cleveland last year as a running backs coach, took over as offensive coordinator midway through last season after head coach Hue Jackson was fired. With Kitchens calling plays, Mayfield thrived and went on to break the NFL rookie record with 27 passing touchdowns.

Bears LB Roquan Smith out for season with torn pec

Chicago Bears second-year linebacker Roquan Smith is being placed on injured reserve with a torn pectoral muscle, head coach Matt Nagy announced on Monday.

Smith, Chicago’s leading tackler, suffered the injury on the opening drive of the Bears’ 31-24 victory over the Dallas Cowboys last Thursday night.cheap nike nfl jerseys paypal

“I really thought you felt him especially here in the last several games really turning it on, really playing fast,” Nagy said of Smith. “He’s always had that every play that he gets, every game that he plays, for the rest of his career, he’s only going to get better and better in my opinion… it’s just unfortunate that it ended like that.”

The eighth overall pick of the 2018 NFL draft, Smith appeared in every game last season as a rookie and recorded a team-high 122 tackles. However, Smith’s second NFL season got off to a slower-than-expected start and the Bears deactivated him in Week 4 for what the club termed “personal reasons.”7

Smith returned to Chicago’s starting lineup the following week and played much better as of late as the Bears surged to three straight wins.

“You know we all have some games where we feel like we could play a little bit better, a little bit faster, and we all have our own challenges on and off the field,” Nagy said. “He’s not the only one. But I like the fact that you know with his challenges, his own personal challenges, he came out and I thought he had a good year this year, flew around.nfl nike jerseys for cheap

“I mean you see it on tape he’s really moving fast, flying around making tackles. He’s violent, he’s always had instincts, that’s been his biggest strength and he’s violent, he’s a violent tackler. I know a lot of defensive coordinators that have come up to me and explained to me how bad they wished he was on their team and the future that he has ahead of him.”

Nagy said he’s unsure whether Smith, 22, will be ready for the beginning of the offseason program in April.

Kevin Pierre-Louis replaced Smith at linebacker for the remainder of the Cowboys game.

Oakland Raiders’ Derek Carr mourns loss of former teammate George Atkinson III

Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr opened his weekly media conference by eulogizing former teammate George Atkinson III, who died Monday, three days after turning 27.

“It’s crazy how quick life can come at you, and I love George,” Carr said Wednesday. “We had a lot of fun playing basketball at 24 Hour Fitness, as well as playing football games together and competing together. He was always so joyful, man. So happy every single time. It felt like he was cut and re-signed a whole bunch of times, and every single time, he just looked so thankful to be here. So I just wanted to say that we’re thinking about him and his family that we love.”cheap nfl nike jerseys china

Atkinson was the son of former Raiders strong safety George Atkinson, a two-time Pro Bowler who played for Oakland from 1968 to 1977 and had 30 interceptions, and he appeared in five games with the Raiders in 2014, returning seven kickoffs for 134 yards.

An undrafted running back from Notre Dame, the younger Atkinson also played for the Cleveland Browns in 2016.5

His twin brother, Josh, who also played for the Fighting Irish, died last December, and Atkinson recently wrote an open letter in TheUnsealed.com describing his rough upbringing with their mother, who he said had paranoid schizophrenia and drug addiction and died in October 2018. He also wrote that his brother killed himself, about his own struggle with mental health and how he had tried to harm himself before, and about his father entering their lives when he and his brother were 13 and instilling discipline.

“Like you, I am still struggling,” Atkinson wrote. “My mother’s birthday just passed and I know the holidays this year won’t be easy. But I am trying to take life one day at a time.”cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

It has been a difficult year for the Raiders, as many former players, coaches and family members have died since last December: Josh Atkinson, Warren Wells, Duane Benson, Cedrick Hardman, Ron Sabal, Clem Daniels, Dan Conners, Bob Zeman, Gunther Cunningham, Cliff Branch, Willie Brown and George Atkinson III.

“I heard about what he wrote, obviously, but I would have never guessed that he was struggling that hard,” Carr said of Atkinson. “I know things had happened in the year prior and things like that make you hurt, but every time I was around George, I never thought that he was hurting that much, to be honest. Every time I was around him, he was full of happiness, full of joy, always joking.”

Carson Wentz: Eagles fans have right to be frustrated

Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz is a primary focus of fan frustration for the first time in his career, following a four-turnover performance in Sunday’s loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

The heat is turned up to high in Philadelphia, and Wentz gets it.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

There were plenty of issues outside of quarterback play in Sunday’s 17-9 loss to Seattle. Wentz was without his top two linemen, Lane Johnson and Brandon Brooks; receivers Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor; and running back Jordan Howard.8

With the offensive line struggling and his receiving corps not always in proper position, Wentz was in a precarious spot. But he misfired on several standard throws and fumbled three times — losing two of them — in what was arguably the worst outing of his professional career.

The offense has scored a total of 19 points in consecutive losses to the Seahawks and Patriots.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Wentz remains unshaken, he said, as the Eagles (5-6) set their sights on the Miami Dolphins.

“I have so much confidence in my ability to turn this around and do my best and get these things fixed,” Wentz said, “that I don’t get too high or too low going through these things.”

Giants’ Jabrill Peppers has transverse process fracture; Golden Tate concussed

New York Giants safety Jabrill Peppers is likely to miss time after the team announced he suffered a transverse process fracture in his back on Sunday against the Chicago Bears.

Wide receiver Golden Tate also was injured in the game, suffering a concussion because of the way he landed on his 23-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter of the 19-14 loss at Chicago.

There was no timetable set on Peppers’ return, although the Giants believe it should be this season. It will depend on his pain tolerance.

“My understanding, his too, in terms of the evaluation of it, as I knew [Sunday] he had a sore back. I guess he can return; it’s kind of relative to pain tolerance,” coach Pat Shurmur said. “So, I would say no [to season-ending].”

Peppers was in severe pain after the game Sunday. He said the injury occurred when he was hit on a kickoff return with no time remaining in the first half.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

The starting safety and returner did not return to the field in the second half.6

“I’m tough. I’m hoping it’s something I can tough through,” Peppers said after barely being able to sit and dress himself in the locker room.

Peppers, 24, acquired in the offseason in the trade that sent Odell Beckham Jr. to the Cleveland Browns, leads the Giants with 78 tackles this season and also has an interception, which he returned for a touchdown.

Tate, 31, has 36 receptions for 450 yards and four touchdowns in his first season with the Giants after signing with the team in free agency. He already missed four games this season serving a four-game suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

With Tate now in doubt for Sunday against the Green Bay Packers, the Giants face the prospects of another week without their full arsenal. They have not played a game this season with Tate, wide receiver Sterling Shepard, running back Saquon Barkley and tight end Evan Engram working alongside rookie quarterback Daniel Jones.

Engram (foot) missed Sunday’s seventh straight loss, which dropped the Giants’ record to 2-9.

Fantasy fallout: Goodbye Saquon Barkley, hello Daniel Jones

Normally you can’t accuse this column of any sort of East Coast bias. But the New York Giants changed that this week by becoming the center of the fantasy universe. For better and for worse.

We lost the consensus No. 1 draft pick, Saquon Barkley, to a high ankle sprain for an estimated 4-8 weeks. But we gained “Danny Dimes,” thanks to the surprisingly explosive debut of rookie quarterback Daniel Jones — which should also boost the value of tight end Evan Engram and receivers Sterling Shepard and Golden Tate, according to ESPN Giants reporter Jordan Raanan.

“Engram and Shepard, they’re like on Cloud 9 right now,” said Raanan, who said it’s no coincidence that both of them had 100-yard games in Jones’ debut — because not only does he throw the ball deep with accuracy, but he also keeps plays alive with his legs longer than previous QB Eli Manning did.5

Raanan had a great breakdown of how Jones’ mobility played such a big role in the Giants’ 32-31 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, in which he threw for 336 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 28 yards and two more TDs.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

Raanan stopped short of predicting Shepard will become a top-20 fantasy receiver, because he thinks Shepard and Tate could be somewhat interchangeable when Tate returns from a suspension in Week 5.

However, Raanan does believe that Jones himself can be a legitimate fantasy asset — especially when you throw in those bonus points he can provide in the running game.

“I mean, he’s done it pretty consistently,” Raanan said. “He completed 85% of his passes in the preseason. That’s really good no matter who you’re playing against. And he’s not throwing dink and dunks — he’s willing to throw it down the field. That’s probably the thing he does best. He averaged 9.8 air yards per attempt.

“And he’s gonna put up numbers because their defense is not very good. So they’re gonna have to score points.”cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Raanan did offer some notes of caution, though. For one thing, fumbling has been an Achilles’ heel for Jones, with three of them in the preseason and three of them already in limited regular-season action. And, of course, the Giants’ offense will lose some potency while Barkley is sidelined, especially when they face top defenses such as New England and Minnesota in Weeks 5-6.

As for replacing Barkley, Raanan said he thinks third-year RB Wayne Gallman is “their guy” and that he should see around 15 carries per game. He certainly won’t replace the production level of Barkley — and Raanan doesn’t think he will see nearly as much work in the passing game, some of which could go to fullback Elijhaa Penny. But Raanan said he’s a little higher on Gallman’s running ability than others seem to be and thinks he could have moderate success because the opportunity will be there.

Don’t overlook Kyle Allen if he faces former nemesis Kyler Murray

It’s easy to overlook Carolina Panthers backup quarterback Kyle Allen because he wasn’t invited to a college all-star game, went undrafted and was cut from the practice squad before making the 53-man roster when Cam Newton was shut down for the final two games of last season.

It’s easy to overlook Allen’s Week 17 win against New Orleans because the Saints rested their starters, having already wrapped up the NFC South title.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

It’s easy to overlook Allen this week as he works with the first team in the likelihood a left foot sprain will keep Newton out of Sunday’s game against the Cardinals in Arizona, where Allen grew up, and against the top pick of the draft — a fellow QB whose presence played a role in Allen’s college career that showed promise but never took off.

Jordan Palmer gets why Allen is under the radar.5

“I totally understand how the media and the fans could arrive at that,” said Palmer, a former NFL quarterback who works with Allen during the offseason at QB Summit. “There’s so much information out there nowadays, you feel if you don’t know a lot about somebody, they’re probably not that good.

“I do know Kyle. I’ve been paying attention since high school, and I’ve had a lot of conviction on him for a long time. So I’m not surprised at all he’s in this position, and I’m not going to be surprised at all when he plays really, really well and this offense really starts clicking.”

That’s a bold prediction, as Allen completed only 52.9% of his passes and had no touchdown passes in four preseason games.

Palmer has worked with Allen since he was at Desert Mountain High in Scottsdale. He has seen enough to believe that when surrounded by the first-team line and do-it-all running back Christian McCaffrey — neither was at his disposal most of the preseason — the offense will be as explosive as Allen promised it would be coming out of training camp.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

“He’s going to go through his progressions, and he’s going to throw and anticipate your timing; and the moment is not going to be too big for him, and he’s going to play really composed, good, execution football,” said Palmer, the younger brother of former three-time Pro Bowl quarterback Carson Palmer.

2019 fantasy football handcuffs: Austin Ekeler among top options

On one hand, you want to protect yourself from injuries by warehousing your star player’s backup.

On the other hand, the opportunity cost of expending that roster spot could cost you a valuable waiver pickup.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

The fact is handcuffing is a valuable tool if used correctly.

Some backups are very good players, while others are not. In the event of an injury, some would be positioned for a clear path to a large share of touches, while others would see only a slight uptick in work. Most of your opponents will be thinking only about handcuffs at running back, so you can gain an advantage by considering those at other positions as well.6

When evaluating handcuffs, the best game plan is to select players with high ceilings should the player ahead of them on the depth chart miss time. For example, should Alvin Kamara get hurt, Latavius Murray would take on a workhorse role in New Orleans and would be in the RB1 discussion. If Saquon Barkley goes down, however, the likes of Wayne Gallman, Paul Perkins and Rod Smith would figure to share touches and none would be a clear fantasy starter. If you selected Barkley and not Kamara, don’t cross Murray off your draft board and force a dart throw at Gallman. Pick the guy who can win you a league championship, not a player who would barely be worth flex consideration.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

Below is a two-part examination of the 2019 handcuff landscape. Because handcuffing is most relevant to the running back position, the first part is a ranking 1-to-32 of the top RB handcuffs for each team, as well as some thoughts on how the backfield might look if the starter goes down. Part 2 runs through a few notable handcuffs at other positions.

For updated handcuff information and advice throughout the season, be sure to keep up with our fantasy depth charts.

Jadeveon Clowney playing on franchise tag is wrong step for Texans brass

the Houston Texans had two of the top pass-rushers in the NFL in J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney. By not reaching a long-term extension by the franchise tag deadline on Monday, the Texans risk losing Clowney — the first overall pick in the 2014 draft — at the end of the season instead of building around the core talent they have right now.

The Texans placed the non-exclusive franchise tag, which is worth $15.967 million for the 2019 season, on Clowney in March and the outside linebacker/defensive end did not attend any of the Texans’ spring workouts, including the mandatory veterans minicamp.

While the Texans could of course still sign Clowney to a new contract after the 2019 season — or tag him for the second year in a row — they likely wouldn’t match what the pass-rusher would get on the open market.cheap nike nfl jerseys free shipping5

The Raiders learned last season that you can’t let a player of that caliber go when they traded outside linebacker Khalil Mack to the Bears for two first-round picks. Mack gave a huge boost to the Bears defense (12.5 sacks, 18 QB hits), while Oakland coach Jon Gruden said later in the season that his team was in need of a pass-rusher.

There are few teams that have a pair of defensive linemen like the Texans do with Watt and Clowney. Last season, Houston ranked 12th in total defense but third against the run. The 3.4 rushing yards allowed per attempt was an NFL low due to the performances of Watt and Clowney.nfl nike jerseys for cheap

Last season, Clowney was named to his third straight Pro Bowl, and finished the regular season with 47 tackles, nine sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. According to NFL NextGen, the Texans’ defender had a Pass-Block Win Rate of 35% — second-best among qualifying defensive ends/linebackers. He also had 16 tackles for loss, which tied for ninth in the NFL last season, and now has 53 tackles for loss over the past three seasons, third in the league.

According to Pro Football Focus, Clowney had the best season of his career “by far” in 2018. His overall grade of 89.5 was tied for seventh best among edge defenders. He had 28 run stops on 283 run-defense snaps, the 10th-best run-stop percentage at his position.

While Clowney is not expected to report to training camp on July 24 with the rest of his teammates because he did not get a new contract, it’s unlikely his holdout will continue into the regular season, where he would miss out on game checks worth more than $1 million per game.

Seahawks rookie receiver DK Metcalf has brains to go with brawn

Leading up to and immediately after the NFL draft, in which the Seahawks traded up to take Metcalf with the final pick of the second round, he was perhaps known just as much for his hulking physique as he was for what he did on the field at Ole Miss.

But this spring, he was more than merely a physical specimen. Wilson pointed to Metcalf’s football knowledge when asked what about the rookie wide receiver has stood out most.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

“Everybody knows about his ability to run and everything else, and jump and catch and all that,” Wilson said. “You guys have been talking about that for months, but I think more than anything else, it’s his brain and how he processes information and how quickly he understands it. He’s really intelligent. He really understands the game really well. He takes coaching really well. He gets extra work. He’s a legit pro wide receiver. He’s everything that everybody was talking about in terms of what he’s capable of and more.”5

Metcalf, at 6-foot-3 and 228 pounds, has looked like a professional receiver during offseason work, so much so that it was easy to momentarily forget about all the concerns over his route running, lateral agility and NFL readiness. Metcalf ran a blazing 4.33 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the combine but produced less impressive results in some of the agility drills. He managed 26 catches for 569 yards and five touchdowns before a neck injury ended his final season at Ole Miss after only seven games.
Now, for the mandatory pumping of the breaks. The usual caveats about offseason practices apply here. The noncontact format — Seahawks defensive backs weren’t fully contesting catches — sets pass-catchers up to shine. And there are a few cautionary tales from recent Seahawks past about getting too excited over an impressive spring from a rookie receiver.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

In 2010, it was Golden Tate, who arrived with similar fanfare as a second-round pick coming off an All-American season that earned him the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top receiver. He made play after play over the spring and summer and looked poised for a strong rookie season. He was benched in Week 1 and finished the year with only 21 catches.

Carroll has theorized aloud that Tate’s football development was stunted in college because of the double duty he pulled as an outfielder on Notre Dame’s baseball team, which took him away from spring practices. Tate readily admitted years after the fact that he was skating by on his athleticism as a rookie and didn’t really understand the finer points of the position.