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NFL preseason Week 2 takeaways



Welcome to the NFL, rookie.

Kyler Murray realized how the opposite half lives Thursday towards the Raiders, who blitzed the No. 1 general decide and made him look uncomfortable. However it wasn’t all unhealthy for the children as Week 2 of the preseason began, as Dwayne Haskins confirmed off his arm with a giant landing cross towards the Bengals.

We have now all that and extra within the largest takeaways and fantasy soccer nuggets of the preseason’s second week from NFL Nation:

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Carson Wentz mustn’t contact the sector this preseason. The QB accidents are piling up for Philadelphia. Cody Kessler was knocked out of the sport within the first quarter with a concussion, one week after backup Nate Sudfeld went down with a damaged wrist. Coach Doug Pederson has been ratcheting up the depth at follow to provide the primary staff high quality work in a managed setting. He ought to proceed on that path and preserve Wentz out of hurt’s means till the regular-season opener towards Washington. The Eagles will in all probability have so as to add one other arm this week with Kessler in concussion protocol. — Tim McManus

Yates: Second-year breakout candidates

Clay: Final Draft Board

Karabell tiered rankings: RBs | WRs

Clay: 2019 variations of 2018 breakouts

QB Gardner Minshew wanted a bounce-back efficiency after actually struggling within the preseason opener and delivered: 19-for-29 for 202 yards in three quarters regardless of being below strain from the sting just about the whole night time. Minshew did lose a fumble after getting hit (RT Leonard Wester received beat badly) and in addition had a TD cross referred to as again due to a block-in-the-back penalty by TE Ben Koyack. Minshew additionally put collectively a strong two-minute drive on the finish of the primary half that resulted in a subject objective, giving the Jaguars their first factors of the preseason. Minshew was clearly way more comfy than he was final week. He was decisive and received the ball out shortly, that are encouraging indicators for the Jaguars — who once more sat the vast majority of their starters — as a result of they’re relying on him to be the backup to Nick Foles. His efficiency Thursday night time just about cemented that. — Mike DiRocco



Sam Darnold hyperlinks up with Quincy Enunwa and Robby Anderson earlier than Ty Montgomery plunges in for a 1-yard TD run.

Enjoying behind a makeshift offensive line, QB Sam Darnold opened with a TD drive for the second straight week. The tempo was quick and Darnold was in command. It is early, however he appears to have a agency grasp of the brand new offense. Massive concern: RT Brandon Shell injured his knee in warmups, turning into the third offensive lineman to go down with an damage. Chemistry will likely be a difficulty in Week 1.– Wealthy Cimini

There must be concern in regards to the offensive line throughout Matt Ryan’s first look this preseason. Ryan was sacked 3 times and threw below duress an excessive amount of whereas finishing 10 of 14 passes for 118 yards. Ryan absorbed some good hits, one thing you by no means wish to see within the preseason. Proper sort out Ty Sambrailo did not appear like a starter, and backup middle Wes Schweitzer had some points, amongst others. The Falcons are taking part in with out two injured gamers who had been considered on monitor to start out: left guard James Carpenter (quad) and rookie proper sort out Kaleb McGary (coronary heart process). Jamon Brown may begin at left guard and McGary, if wholesome, ought to surpass the struggling Sambrailo sooner or later. — Vaughn McClure

Rookie Ryan Finley made a powerful case to be Cincinnati’s No. 2 quarterback this season. The fourth-round select of NC State adopted up his preseason debut with one other sturdy efficiency. Excluding a spike on the finish of the primary half, Finley was 20-of-25 passing for 150 yards and two touchdowns. The rookie steadied the Bengals after a begin riddled with miscues. He led Cincinnati’s second unit on a 12-play, 93-yard drive that took 7:36 off the clock within the first half. From there, the whole staff discovered its rhythm, because the guests scored 23 of the ultimate 30 factors. Midway by means of the preseason, the rookie is finishing 75 p.c of his passes for 259 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.– Ben Child

Every little thing you want this week:
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• Easy methods to shorten the preseason »
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The Redskins hoped the preseason would establish their No. 1 quarterback, however after two preseason video games that hasn’t occurred. Colt McCoy cannot but play due to points together with his leg and Case Keenum has been abnormal in two begins. He is nonetheless adapting to the offense and getting in sync together with his receivers. However being in a contest makes it harder to construct that chemistry. And rookie Dwayne Haskins exhibits extra big-play potential — as evidenced by his 55-yard landing cross to Robert Davis. He isn’t afraid to problem down the sector, however he additionally hasn’t proven sufficient to significantly problem extra skilled gamers. However with what these gamers have proven, it is arduous to consider Haskins will not be used sooner or later this season.– John Keim

It is likely to be too quickly to say the Packers have a major problem with their run recreation — in any case, neither Aaron Jones nor Jamaal Williams (each have hamstring points) have performed a snap within the preseason — however the set up of recent coach Matt LaFleur’s outside-zone oriented scheme has been a tough go. The Packers totaled simply 7 yards speeding on seven makes an attempt within the first half per week after that they had solely 38 yards on 13 carries within the first half towards the Texans. That is 45 yards on 20 carries when the opponents had been taking part in starters or key backups. Any hope that sixth-round rookie Dexter Williams may function a change-of-pace again seems bleak given his lack of ability to hold onto the ball (he dropped a cross and could not safe a handoff during which a fumble was charged to the quarterback). Tra Carson has been the starter within the absence of Jones and Jamaal Williams, however he is averaging simply 1.7 yards per carry. As a lot as LaFleur’s offense facilities across the run recreation and what it will possibly do for play-action, he must know if the dearth of manufacturing is as a result of he does not have his high backs or as a result of the scheme hasn’t taken maintain. — Rob Demovsky



Lamar Jackson breaks free for an 18-yard landing, however it’s nullified due to Willie Snead IV’s unlawful blindside block.

Lamar Jackson continues to enhance as a passer, however — because the Ravens’ beginning quarterback confirmed and stated Thursday night time — he is nonetheless at his most harmful when working with the ball. On third-and-10, Jackson noticed his receivers coated and took off, faking out Tramon Williams within the open subject earlier than leaping over Jaire Alexander to achieve the top zone. The spectacular 18-yard landing run was nullified by Willie Snead’s unlawful block, however that does not erase one other highlight-reel second that may preserve defensive coordinators up at night time. “The four-man rush gave me a lane,” Jackson stated, “and I simply did what I do finest.” Jackson completed 6-of-10 passing for 58 yards, main the Ravens to subject objectives on each of his drives. — Jamison Hensley

The Raiders protection, with a solid of recent characters headlined by center linebacker Vontaze Burfict, seems a lot improved. At the least it did on this second exhibition for each groups, with Oakland harassing No. 1 general decide Kyler Murray right into a 3-for-Eight passing night time for 12 yards and defensive again Lamarcus Joyner sacking the nimble Murray for a security. In 4 sequence, the Raiders beginning protection solely let Murray run as soon as, for Four yards. In reality, Joyner’s security got here on the third straight blitz dialed up by defensive coordinator Paul Guenther. At one level, the Raiders had outgained the Cardinals 231-12 in whole yards. Additionally, rookie Josh Jacobs seems primed to be the Raiders’ characteristic again, beginning and carrying the ball 4 instances for 21 yards on their opening landing drive with Derek Carr below middle, because the Raiders’ beginning offense performed only one sequence. — Paul Gutierrez

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Thursday night time was one to neglect for Kyler Murray. The rookie quarterback went 3-for-Eight for 12 yards with a 4-yard run and regarded out of sync within the 4 possessions he performed, which went into the second quarter. He was flagged twice for false begins due to his clap snap, as soon as for delay of recreation and went down ultimately zone to keep away from a sack for a security. Whereas, sure, it is nonetheless the preseason and the Cardinals are working a vanilla offensive scheme, there have been nonetheless some points that Murray and the Cardinals want to wash up. — Josh Weinfuss

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Jay-Z songs intended to ‘challenge’ Stills



MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores passionately defended his choice to play eight consecutive Jay-Z songs throughout Tuesday’s observe simply in the future after receiver Kenny Stills expressed disdain about how the hip-hop mogul went about his social justice partnership with the NFL.

As phrase of the stunt percolated all through social media and the web, many speculated on Flores’ motives for seemingly trolling one among his veteran gamers. Thursday, after the Dolphins’ 22-7 preseason win over the Jaguars, Flores was emotional in explaining his causes behind the motion. He mentioned the criticism about whether or not he helps what Stills stands for is with out benefit.

“It was a problem to Kenny to carry out no matter no matter is happening outdoors,” Flores mentioned of enjoying the Jay-Z songs. “I might say, and I mentioned this to him, he hasn’t carried out as much as that degree over the course of coaching camp, or as I’ve seen. In order that was the problem — to get open, catch the soccer and make performs for this crew, no matter what is going on on outdoors of this constructing.”

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The transfer appeared puzzling on the time as a result of it brought about one other distraction for a Dolphins crew that has been affected by non-football storylines this month. It was a Flores-induced distraction carried out very visibly in entrance of the media in response to one thing he was fearful is likely to be a distraction for one among his gamers.

Flores’ choice to play the Jay-Z songs at observe — clearly an in a single day choice, given the freshness of Stills’ feedback about Jay-Z — is likely to be perceived as a former Patriot assistant-turned-head coach enjoying Jedi thoughts video games with one among his key gamers.

However Flores mentioned he has put his phrases behind now. He made it clear that he feels, because the Dolphins coach, he can encourage his gamers nonetheless he chooses. He made the problem to Stills in entrance of the crew after the Jay-Z playlist was carried out. Then, after being stunned by the media consideration this story obtained, Flores mentioned he received up in entrance of the crew the subsequent day to inform them that he supported Stills and the participant protest.

“We talked about it in-house and he dealt with it in-house,” Stills mentioned. “For essentially the most half, I feel it was him seeing if I may deal with if individuals have been going to heckle me or play Jay-Z in one other stadium if I may very well be mentally sturdy sufficient to deal with that form of remedy. I have been coping with this since 2016 — music, boos, racial slurs. So I do not assume just a little Jay-Z music goes to ruffle my feathers that dangerous.”

Since 2016, Stills has been on the frontline of the NFL participant protest motion. Each recreation, together with Thursday evening, Stills has taken a knee in the course of the anthem to deliver consciousness to police brutality, social injustice and systemic oppression.

Flores appeared stunned that his assist for Stills’ trigger could be questioned. He took a breath and defined why he pertains to Stills’, Colin Kaepernick’s and Eric Reid’s protests a lot.

“Fairly actually, they’re bringing consideration to my story,” mentioned Flores, a local of Brooklyn (Brownsville), New York. “I am a son of immigrants. I am black. I grew up poor. I grew up in New York in the course of the stop-and-frisk period. So I have been stopped as a result of I match an outline earlier than. So every thing that these guys protest, I’ve lived it, I’ve skilled it. So I applaud these guys’ protest. So whether or not it is Kaepernick, or Eric Reid or Kenny, I applaud these guys. I advised Kenny that in our assembly in entrance of your entire crew.

“I do not understand how many individuals have, however I lived it. So I perceive why guys protest. And it is essential. And what else is essential to me? There’s 89 guys in that locker room who’re relying on Kenny to get open, catch the soccer and carry out for this crew. That is essential to me. And if anyone’s received an issue with that, then we have simply received an issue. We’ll conform to disagree. I really feel like that is essential and that is the place I stand on this factor.”

The Dolphins clearly need to transfer on from this second and get again to soccer. Nonetheless mentioned that he does not imagine it’s a huge deal.

“It is simply music,” mentioned Stills, including that he does not need this to be any extra of a distraction than it already is.

The remainder of the Dolphins’ locker room appears to be taking it in stride, even ribbing Stills about it.

On Monday, Stills criticized Jay-Z for a way he went about forming a social justice partnership with the NFL, significantly his comment that “we have moved previous kneeling, and I feel it is time to enter actionable gadgets.”

“He is not a NFL participant. He is by no means been on a knee,” Stills mentioned earlier this week. “Selecting to talk for the individuals like he had spoken to the individuals. … I’m wondering what number of widespread people who he is aware of or has spoken to. I’m wondering if he is learn my Fb feedback or my Instagram feedback or a few of the issues individuals say to me. To say we’re transferring previous one thing, it did not appear very knowledgeable.”

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Minnesota’s Opara eager to show former club SKC what it’s missing in MLS Rivalry Week



Aug 20, 2019

Austin LindbergESPN FC

As a lot as issues have modified for Ike Opara, on the workplace, it is enterprise as common. Final season, he shepherded a protection that ranked fourth in Main League Soccer in each objectives in opposition to and anticipated objectives in opposition to. This season, the again line he leads ranks fourth in objectives in opposition to and seventh in anticipated objectives in opposition to.

What has modified is that these defenses are on two completely different groups: Sporting Kansas Metropolis in 2018 and Minnesota United this season. And the change in fortunes of these golf equipment — Minnesota’s anticipated objectives in opposition to has improved from 22nd within the league, whereas SKC’s objectives in opposition to has dropped to 20th in MLS — reveals simply how invaluable Opara is. All of which is ironic, contemplating that it’s worth that led him to depart Kansas Metropolis for the Twin Cities.

Twelve months faraway from successful MLS’ Defender of the 12 months Award in 2017, Opara was Sporting’s third-highest-paid center-back, together with his $342,916 annual wage lagging nicely behind new signing Andreu Fontas’ $999,999 and Matt Besler’s $783,250.

“I feel should you simply look across the league,” Opara stated in an unique interview with ESPN FC, “I feel objectively I had a really undervalued contract.”

So he requested for a brand new deal, a 12 months after signing a contract that improved his 2017 wage by almost $200,000.

“We had a dialogue to see if we might make this occur,” SKC supervisor and sporting director Peter Vermes instructed the Kansas Metropolis Star final offseason about Opara’s request. “Our assertion and remark to the participant was that we had some targets that we had already recognized previous to the tip of the season that we had been going to work on first, and if there have been monies left over, we would be prepared to have a dialog.

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“However it went public instantly, and that modified the best way this is able to be handled.”

After conceding 141 objectives in its first two seasons in MLS, Minnesota had set out final winter so as to add an skilled center-back, ideally somebody conversant in the league. By Jan. 28, Opara was a Loon.

“It was a problem that I used to be prepared to simply accept,” Opara stated forward of dealing with his former facet on Thursday (9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN). “[The Loons] had been able to proper the previous two years, as a result of nobody needs to surrender 70-plus objectives a 12 months. These guys had been sick and uninterested in listening to it.”

So United parted with $1 million in Focused Allocation Cash to convey the now-30-year-old to Minnesota.

“One or two folks raised just a few eyebrows and thought we overpaid for him,” Minnesota supervisor Adrian Heath instructed ESPN FC. “However as I’ve stated since we have got him: We bought him low cost.”

Ike Opara has been central to Minnesota United’s turnaround in 2019. Brace Hemmelgarn/USA TODAY Sports activities

It has been cash nicely spent. Minnesota United completed ninth within the Western Convention in every of its first two seasons in MLS; however with Opara anchoring the again line, the Loons are second in 2019 with a aim differential that has gone from minus-12 at this level final 12 months to plus-eight.

In fact, Opara cannot take all of the credit score. The membership’s entrance workplace signed former Seattle Sounders captain Osvaldo Alonso (who has proven few indicators of slowing down at age 33), midfielder Jan Gregus (who’s among the many league’s main creators from deep), right-back Romain Metanire (who was chosen to the All-Star group final month) and goalkeeper Vito Mannone (who has the third-most clear sheets within the league). Additionally they added left-back Chase Gasper and midfielder Hassani Dotson with their second and third picks within the SuperDraft, a pair that’s in within the dialog for rookie of the 12 months.

However central to the membership’s unbelievable stand up the desk has been a vastly improved protection, the place Opara’s bodily talents and management qualities have had a tangible impact on everybody round him — previous Loons and new Loons alike. And whereas his new membership thrives in his presence, his previous one has faltered with out him.

SKC are in jeopardy of lacking the postseason for the primary time since 2010, sitting 10th within the West, six factors out of the convention’s remaining playoff place.

To say that Sporting’s downturn is solely a results of Opara’s departure could be deceptive. The membership has been beset by accidents in 2019, dropping 141 man video games to damage this season, with 74 of these coming from gamers throughout the again line. Besler and Fontas, the center-back pairing who earned more cash than Opara in Kansas Metropolis final season, have been absent 12 instances this time period.

In the end, it has led to defending that Vermes has referred to as “horrible,” defending that “embarrassed” him.

“It is stuff that this group doesn’t do, however sadly, we’re doing it,” he was quoted as saying by journalist Andy Edwards. “And that is an issue.”

Amid its rash of accidents, Sporting is determined for the type of defensive depth that the 2017 Defender of the 12 months would’ve supplied. And with Opara on target to contend for this season’s award, he’ll have the chance to point out his former membership exactly what it’s lacking when he and Minnesota journey to Kansas Metropolis on Thursday.

“It is arduous to check these two seasons throughout two completely different groups, however in some methods, I feel I’m [playing better than in 2017],” Opara stated. “That is all the time one thing I have been striving for, is to be acknowledged as among the best defenders on this league.”

That recognition is prone to arrive sooner slightly than later. Contemplating Opara’s request for a larger contract earlier than becoming a member of Minnesota, and the membership’s dramatic turnaround since his arrival, it might be silly to not reward him financially. The adoration of his coach suggests a long-term cope with the Loons is in Opara’s future, and Heath additionally has campaigned for his center-back so as to add a second Defender of the 12 months award in three seasons.

“I have never seen anyone higher, I actually have not,” Heath stated. “If there’s anyone who’s going to beat him to Defender of the 12 months, he will need to have had some 12 months to have a greater 12 months than Ike Opara’s had.”

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Nagy defends Bears’ kicker search amid backlash



LAKE FOREST, Sick. — Chicago Bears coach Matt Nagy defended the style during which his group carried out its offseason kicker search after a number of kickers who attended the rookie minicamp in Could on a tryout foundation and left and not using a contract have been extremely important of the method.

“I perceive — we introduced in a number of kickers that got here in right here,” Nagy mentioned Wednesday. “To me, I have a look at it as a constructive, in the truth that we mentioned we going to show over each stone to seek out whoever’s on the market. We felt like we, at that cut-off date, after we introduced in a bunch of kickers, we will take a look at all of them out and see what they’ll do.

“After which, inside that time-frame, we additionally put in some conditions with the Augusta Silence early on to see how they might deal with it. Is it precisely the right science? I do not know that, perhaps not…I simply actually like how we’re going by way of this factor. [Bears general manager] Ryan [Pace] and I discuss no regrets, proper?”

Sports activities Illustrated revealed a narrative Wednesday that quoted a number of of the 9 kickers — a few of them anonymously — who the Bears introduced in for an audition at rookie camp. The kickers’ vary of complaints included Nagy’s obsession with Parkey’s missed 43-yard discipline aim try in Chicago’s playoff loss to the Eagles (the notorious double-doink), the best way the Bears used metrics to judge the kickers, the general detrimental temper within the particular groups’ room and a perceived bias that concerned kicker marketing consultant Jamie Kohl, who the Bears employed to help them of their search.

Many, however not all, of the kickers invited to Halas Corridor had at one time kicked at one in every of Kohl’s camps.

“All of Jamie’s guys, they might have shanked the kick, and it was like, ‘Oh, you might have actually good rotation, your foot is wrapping across the ball,'” one kicker instructed SI. “I do not suppose this example will likely be solved or will likely be what the group must be till Jamie Kohl is gone. The best way he very a lot tries to manage a room, tries to be the alpha.”

One other kicker added: “All of the vibes they gave us through the specialists conferences simply didn’t appear constructive in any way. It did not appear to be anybody did properly. The vibe and the power was off.”

Former Notre Dame kicker Justin Yoon took difficulty with Nagy harping on Parkey’s 43-yard miss. The Bears repeatedly within the offseason program referred to as for his or her kickers to try discipline targets from 43 yards.

“It is not environment friendly for the group to constantly beat that one useless horse the entire time,” Yoon mentioned. “You must construct a system of confidence on your kicker. I do not suppose that is how the Bears are working it.”

The Bears finally whittled their checklist of kickers down to 2 at the start of coaching camp, however on Sunday, they waived Elliott Fry, which left Eddy Pineiro — acquired from the Raiders by way of a commerce — because the lone kicker left on Chicago’s present 90-man offseason roster.

The Bears need Pineiro to deal with all kicks within the closing two preseason video games, however he is not been assured of the job. Pineiro, who spent final 12 months on injured reserve in Oakland, has by no means tried a kick in an NFL regular-season sport.

“I actually do not imagine there is a kicker on the market that by no means misses in follow and within the video games,” Nagy mentioned. “It is the way you reply to it … so we preserve that in thoughts.

“Keep in mind what I instructed you earlier than, it is very easy in Chicago as a head coach of the Chicago Bears, as a fan of the Chicago Bears, because the media of the Chicago Bears, because the group of the Chicago Bears, it is very easy for us to only destroy each missed kick. And I feel we have now to maintain these issues in just a little perspective and never get too loopy over a missed kick right here or there.”

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