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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Football

10 NFL players exceeding expectations in 2018

Patrick Mahomes

The NFL has offered up surprise after surprise this season, with a number of teams and players performing contrary to expectations. Several players stand out above the rest, off to great starts to 2018 despite the fact that not many people would have been expecting them to do what they’ve proven capable of doing.

Here are ten players whose 2018 seasons are off to great starts — better than many probably would have expected of them, in fact.

10. Myles Garrett, DE, Browns

Garrett played in 11 games in 2017 and collected seven sacks. That was impressive enough, but he’s taken a big step forward in year two that puts him ahead of what many thought his development curve would be. His four sacks — in only three games — are tied for the best mark in the NFL, and he’s helped the Browns’ defense become a rather fearsome unit. It’s safe to say he has even more room to grow now.

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Free agent QB Paxton Lynch visits Jaguars

Paxton Lynch

Paxton Lynch is still looking to catch on with a new team.

Lynch was cut by the Denver Broncos before the season began after being surpassed by Chad Kelly on the team’s depth chart. He has had visits with the Eagles and Lions since being cut but did not sign with either one. Now Adam Caplan reports that Lynch was among the players who worked out for the Jacksonville Jaguars this week.

Teams often bring in free agents early in the week in order to be proactive with knowing the market in case of future injuries or issues with players on their roster. The Jags have Blake Bortles and Cody Kessler occupying the top two spots on their QB chart and do not appear to have a need for another quarterback at the moment, but they’re obviously keeping tabs on Lynch, the former first-round pick.

Rams CB Aqib Talib to undergo ankle surgery

Aqib Talib

Aqib Talib will undergo ankle surgery and is likely facing an extended absence.

Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay shared the news about Talib with reporters on Tuesday.

Talib and teammate Marcus Peters both got hurt in the Rams’ win over the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday. Peters may not miss much time due to his calf strain, but Talib will likely miss several games due to his ankle injury.

Report: Everson Griffen tried to break into teammate’s house, escaped ambulance

Everson Griffen shirt

Everson Griffen remained at a hospital as of Tuesday undergoing a mental health evaluation, and new details from the events that led to him being admitted paint a picture of a man who needs serious help.

According to a police report obtained by Paul Walsh of The Star Tribune, Griffen’s wife said he left home on Sept. 16 after he awoke suddenly in the middle of the night, which is something he does at times when fighting “demons” in his head. Griffen’s wife said he returned briefly on Wednesday for an hour before leaving again until Saturday. She said he wasn’t making sense and ordered her to leave the couple’s home before he went to the Hotel Ivy in downtown Minneapolis, where he sometimes stays during the week.

It was at the Hotel Ivy that Griffen allegedly threatened to shoot staff members, who called police. He was not arrested and left on his own, and those who reported the incident said they did not see a gun.

Griffen’s wife notified police that the 30-year-old needs medication for his mental struggles and had not slept in days. An officer called Griffen on his cell phone, and the defensive end said he was going to be gone for about a week and again was not speaking coherently. Griffen’s wife later contacted police to inform them Griffen said he was at Vikings teammate Trae Waynes’ home and was trying to break in. Griffen later returned home shirtless in a truck with a man who had seen him at a gas station and given him a ride.

When police met Griffen at his home, they said he was making comments about angels and said he went to Waynes’ home because “God made me do it.” He agreed to be taken for mental health treatment, but the report says he fled the ambulance and later agreed to continue the trip with a police escort.

Griffen’s wife also told police that he has been growing increasingly paranoid and feared someone was going to kill him in the days and weeks leading up to Saturday’s events.

Griffen is in his ninth season with the Vikings. The former USC star was also involved in an incident with police that turned ugly several years ago. He did not play in Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills and is not traveling with the team to Los Angeles to face the Rams this week.

Cardinals crack funny joke over ESPN affiliate’s blunder on Twitter

The Arizona Cardinals have looked like one of the NFL’s worst teams in the early part of the season, so the last thing they need is to be blamed for losses that have absolutely nothing to do with them.

On Tuesday, ESPN’s affiliate from the Philippines tweeted about the Brewers beating the Cardinals the night before. Of course, they were talking about the MLB’s St. Louis Cardinals. They accidentally tagged the Arizona Cardinals on Twitter, and the football Cardinals were quick to correct the mistake.

The Cardinals are one of three 0-3 teams left in the NFL, so they don’t need any extra losses. In fact, they’re hoping a major change to their starting lineup will help turn their misfortunes around in Week 4. If that does happen, hopefully ESPN5 will give them the credit they deserve. The network owes them that at least.

Clay Matthews questioning his NFL future after penalties?

Clay Matthews penalty

No player in the NFL has been more affected by the league’s new roughing the passer rules than Clay Matthews, and it sounds like the Green Bay Packers star is beyond fed up with it.

Jay Glazer of FOX Sports says he spoke with Matthews on Sunday night, and the linebacker sounded like he might be questioning his future in the NFL.

It’s worth noting that Matthews was probably still very fired up about being flagged for roughing the passer for the third time in three weeks. He was penalized 15 yards in Sunday’s game for landing on Washington Redskins quarterback Smith with most or all of his body weight, which is prohibited based on the new rules. However, the general consensus seems to be that there was no way Matthews could have avoided it, and the same was true when he sacked Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins with what most felt was a textbook football hit the week before. That personal foul negated an interception that likely would have sealed a win for Green Bay.

Matthews is 32 and has battled some injuries in recent seasons, so perhaps he is starting to wonder if continuing to play is worth it when he feels he cannot properly do his job. Still, he may want to wait and see how things play out given the recent report we heard about the NFL possibly looking into some changes.

Report: NFL rule-makers ‘uncomfortable’ with roughing the passer calls

Roger Goodell

The debate over what constitutes roughing the passer has dominated the early portion of the NFL season, and the people in charge of making and amending rules for the league sound like they are starting to second-guess themselves.

Judy Battista of NFL.com reports that there are several members of the NFL’s Competition Committee who are “uncomfortable” with the amount of flags thrown for roughing the passer through the first three weeks of the season. It’s possible a change to the rule could be coming, but league officials are concerned about the optics of walking back a rule they implemented for safety reasons.

As Battista noted, members of the committee are particularly troubled by the roughing the passer calls against Clay Matthews. The Packers linebacker has been flagged in each of the first three games, and the two most recent baffled football fans and players. While the new rule states that a defender cannot land with his body weight on a quarterback, it’s hard to tell how Matthews could have avoided that with his sack of Redskins quarterback Alex Smith on Sunday. The same was true when he sacked Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins with what most felt was a textbook football hit the week before, and that personal foul negated an interception that likely would have sealed a win for Green Bay.

Four flags were thrown for roughing the passer in Monday night’s game between the Steelers and Buccaneers, and those four calls were tied for the most in an NFL game since 2001. Even Ben Roethlisberger said he was “surprised” by the first call that benefitted his team, and he’s not the first star quarterback to express concern over the rule change.

While the NFL wants to prove that safety is a top priority, you can understand the concern over how much negative attention the roughing the passer changes have garnered.

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