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Tampa Bay Buccaneers LB Kwon Alexander tore ACL


Pro Bowl linebacker Kwon Alexander, who left the Tampa Bay Buccaneers‘ overtime victory over the Cleveland Browns just before halftime with a right knee injury, suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Alexander underwent an MRI on Monday to confirm the diagnosis.

Alexander suffered the injury with 18 seconds left in the first half of the Bucs’ 26-23 victory Sunday. He was blitzing quarterback Baker Mayfield and planted his foot, going down without contact. Players on both teams immediately knelt down. Alexander was able to leave the field under his own power.

“He said to us before we left out there for halftime, he was like, ‘Never take anything for granted,'” Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston said Sunday. “We see the passion he plays with. We see the heart he puts in the locker room. We are going to have his back just like we had his back today.

“I love Kwon. We’re going to miss him, and I know he is going to make an amazing comeback. That’s just the type of person that he is, and his work ethic has been strong since he’s been here.”

The timing couldn’t be worse for Alexander, who is set to become a free agent next season and has been trying to negotiate a new contract.

The Bucs are now razor-thin at linebacker. Rookie Jack Cichy, who stepped into Adarius Taylor‘s strongside spot (Taylor slid over to Alexander’s middle spot), also left with a knee injury and did not return. Last year’s starting strongside linebacker, Kendell Beckwith, is still recovering from ankle surgery after an offseason car accident.

The team did re-sign linebacker Devante Bond this week to provide more depth. Bond had been waived after suffering a foot injury during the preseason and received an injury settlement.



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Green Bay Packers biggest underdogs in Aaron Rodgers’ career


Aaron Rodgers has overcome a lot of obstacles in his career, and still plays with a chip on his shoulder from falling to No. 24 in the 2005 NFL draft.

He’ll have some more motivation next Sunday at the Los Angeles Rams, courtesy of Las Vegas oddmakers.

The SuperBook at the Westgate Las Vegas opened the Green Bay Packers as 8.5-point underdogs in Week 8.

If the line stands, it would represent the largest total by which Rodgers has been an underdog in his career, per ESPN Stats & Information data, and biggest since the Packers were 8-point underdogs to the Seattle Seahawks in 2014. Green Bay was an underdog to the Arizona Cardinals by 7 in 2015, to the New York Jets by 6 in 2010 and to the Atlanta Falcons by 5.5 in 2016. All but the Jets game came in the playoffs.



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Mason Crosby of Green Bay Packers rebounds from disastrous week with game-winning field goal vs. San Francisco 49ers


GREEN BAY, Wis. — A week after missing five kicks, Mason Crosby kicked the game winner for the Green Bay Packers.

Yes, that Mason Crosby.

The same one who missed four field goals and an extra point in a loss at Detroit. This time, Crosby kicked a 27-yard field goal as time expired to give the Packers a 33-30 comeback victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football at Lambeau Field.

It was Crosby’s fourth field goal of the night. He was good from 29, 39 and 51 yards before the game winner. He also made all three of his extra points for a perfect night.

“It’s very apropos,” Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “What he went through last week and the team to stick with him, and the guys to kind of wrap our arms around him and encourage him the way we do for our teammates was great. And then he responded. The crowd was very encouraging. I was trying to figure out at first if it was kind of a sarcastic cheer, but I felt like it was a pretty heartfelt encouragement after he made four field goals and three extra points. Obviously very happy afterwards and we were very happy for him.”

Eight days earlier in Detroit, Crosby was surrounded by cameras in the visitor’s locker room after the Packers’ loss to the Lions and he said: “I don’t get this much attention unless it’s really bad or extremely good.”

The crowd around him was even bigger in the victorious home locker room at Lambeau Field.

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Mason Crosby expresses his thoughts on his game-winning field goal and how it feels to bounce back after missing five kicks against the Lions.

“Gosh, just so thankful for the Packers organization and my teammates just sticking with me knowing I’ve bounced back a lot in my career,” said Crosby, a 12-year veteran. “I had no days like last week, but this is a special one. This is one of my better days. And to be able to go out there and perform the way I did after last week [was great]. Did a lot of soul-searching this week and made sure I really locked in on my preparation, and it paid off.”

Crosby said he appreciated Rodgers and the offense making the game winner a “chip shot,” as he called it.

He said the more nerve-racking kick was the extra point to tie the game at 30 after Rodgers hit Davante Adams for a 16-yard touchdown with 1:55 left.

“The extra point to tie the game was the one that I was a little more amped up for, making sure I knocked that through,” Crosby said. “But that last one was just kind of muscle memory. The snap came, I felt like I was pretty quick on it and everything was perfect. The protection was great. I felt guys kind of diving in front of me right after, but I was in the zone. It’s special whenever it all comes together that way, and I’m just so thankful for the week of work I had and the guys, how much they never wavered from how they felt about me. To be able to come through like this after a week like I had last week is pretty special.”

An interception by Kevin King with 1:07 left gave the ball back to Rodgers. An illegal contact penalty on 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman wiped out a third-down sack that would’ve killed the drive. Rodgers scrambled on his gimpy left knee for 21 yards, hit Adams for 8 and then rookie Equanimeous St. Brown made a stellar sideline catch for 19 yards, followed by another one to Adams for 19 to set up the game winner.

“That last drive there was unreal,” Crosby said. “The chemistry that this locker room has, everyone is always bringing each other up, trying to make sure that we have each other’s back. Like I said, the guys never wavered from how they felt about me as a man and as a football player. They knew that I worked really hard this week to make sure that I would come through if I was called on this week for this game. Like I said, I’m tired. I’m glad we have the bye week and [I’m] ready to keep moving forward.”

The Packers enter their bye week at 3-2-1 and have four of their next five on the road, beginning at the Rams and at the Patriots. But at least they’re on an emotional high thanks in part to Crosby.

“That’s exactly the way you want to see it end,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “Frankly I wish he didn’t need to kick as many field goals as he did tonight, but yeah definitely, that was a big bounce-back game for Mason and really for our football team. We needed that win.”

And Crosby needed those kicks.

“This week was a grind,” said Crosby, who has made 83.4 percent of his field goals since his career-worst year of 63.6 percent in 2012. “It was one of the tougher weeks of my career just making sure that I didn’t overreact, overanalyze everything. I really did a great job of just locking in and making sure I had good tempo and I kind of just flushed last week and made sure that if I was called upon again this week I was going to come through. Honestly, I had a 51-yarder tonight. When I’m going out there, I was just thankful for another opportunity to hit a kick and felt just really solid with my performance.”



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Jim Taylor, first of Vince Lombardi-era Green Bay Packers inducted into Hall of Fame, dies


Hall of Fame fullback Jim Taylor, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards over five straight seasons with the Green Bay Packers, died Saturday morning at the age of 83, the team announced.

Taylor rushed for 8,207 yards and scored 91 touchdowns in his nine seasons with the Packers from 1958-66, and he was the first of the Vince Lombardi-era players to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, in 1976.

Taylor led the league with 1,474 rushing yards in 1962, when he was named the league’s MVP by The Associated Press.

“Taylor may not be as big as some fullbacks, but he has balance and determination,” Lombardi once said. “He is hard to knock off his feet and he fights for every yard.”

A five-time Pro Bowl selection, Taylor was the Packers’ career rushing leading until Ahman Green broke his mark in 2009. Taylor was a member of the Packers’ NFL championship teams in 1961, 1962 and 1965, and the Super Bowl I title team.

Taylor, a Louisiana native and former LSU star, played his final season in 1967 for the expansion New Orleans Saints.

“That son-of-a-gun is the toughest son-of-a-gun in the league,” Hall of Fame teammate Paul Hornung once said of Taylor. “I’ve seen him run over guys 30 or 40 pounds bigger than he is like that [snap of a finger].”





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Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers hopes to avoid knee brace


GREEN BAY, Wis. — There’s good news and potentially bad news for Aaron Rodgers.

The Green Bay Packers quarterback could have his top three receivers back together for Monday night’s game against the San Francisco 49ers, but he might be a little less mobile than he’d like.

Rodgers experienced what he called a setback with his ailing left knee during last Sunday’s loss to the Detroit Lions, when he took a hit from linebacker Christian Jones on the game’s opening drive.

For the first time since he was injured in the season opener, Rodgers wore a smaller, lighter brace against the Lions. Now there’s a chance he may have to go back to the larger brace that he wore in the three games immediate following the injury.

“I hope not,” Rodgers said. “The goal would be to wear the same brace I wore last week, but I have a lot of faith in our training staff and we’re going to [use] the brace we feel is most safe and allowing me to do exactly what I’m able to do on Monday.”

Rodgers did not practice on Thursday, the Packers’ first of the week in advance of the 49ers game. That followed the same pattern as the last month. He said he hoped to practice on Friday; the past two weeks, he has taken part in that full-pads workout (which is normally on Thursday in advance of a Sunday game).

He did, however, call what happened against the Lions a setback. He threw for 442 yards and three touchdowns against the Lions but was done in by two first-half fumbles on strip sacks, marking only the third time in his career that he lost two fumbles in a game.

“Yeah, kind of a setback last week, the beginning of the week,” Rodgers said. “Got to be in the rehab group again today, got a lot of good work in with [assistant trainer] Nate [Weir] and just hoping I get back out there tomorrow and have a feel-good Friday and a practice [Sunday] and be good to go — hopefully back to where I was in Detroit.”

While Rodgers worked with the trainers, receivers Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison were surprise participants at practice on Thursday after missing the Detroit game. Both had hamstring injuries; Allison also was diagnosed with a concussion. Coach Mike McCarthy said before Thursday’s practice that Allison had cleared the concussion protocol, but indications were both receivers would be in the rehab group.

Instead, they went through at least part of practice, meaning the trio of Cobb, Allison and No. 1 receiver Davante Adams are on the verge of a reunion. The trio hasn’t played together since Week 3 because Cobb missed the previous two games.

Against the Lions, it was Adams and three rookie receivers. Two of them, Marquez Valdes-Scantling (seven catches for 68 yards) and Equanimeous St. Brown (three for 89) made contributions, but Adams (nine for 140 and a touchdown) did the majority of the work.

“I think we can be one of the best in the league,” Adams said of the trio of himself, Cobb and Allison. “I honestly think that because obviously you know how I feel about myself and my game. Randall’s been doing this thing for a long time, longer than I have. I have the utmost respect for him, and G-Mo goes about his business as good as anybody else in the league. So the sky’s the limit for him. I feel like he has not even come close to reaching his potential. He’s shown flashes, but he can do a lot for us.”

Perhaps that will help the Packers get off to a faster start, something Rodgers has identified as a goal. Although they’re 10th in the NFL in total offense, they are tied for 18th in scoring and tied for 19th in red-zone touchdown percentage. They have been outscored 42-13 in first quarters this season and 76-43 in first halves, while averaging just 23 points per game.

“It’s definitely below, and we’ve kind of been stuck at that number,” Rodgers said. “Scored that a couple of times — 22, 24, way up to 29 in Week 2. Not quite the standard that we’ve set here over the years with the type of offense we think we can have and the type of offense we think we could have coming out of training camp.

“I told you guys Week 1 it’s going to be a work in progress; I don’t think we’re far off. I feel kind of like after Washington a couple of years ago [2016, Week 11]. We are very close to getting things going and like I said then and I’ll say again now, I feel like if we can get off to a better start on offense, it makes the entire squad play with a different type of confidence.

“We need to lead from the front as an offense and as a team and give our defense an opportunity to pin their ears back and get after the quarterback and make them a little more one-dimensional.”

A full complement of receivers and the smaller knee brace could help.



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Green Bay Packers receiver Randall Cobb ruled out for Lions game


GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Green Bay Packers are taking the long view on Randall Cobb, but there’s a chance they’ll have at least one — if not two — of their three starting receivers for Sunday’s game at Detroit.

Cobb will miss his second straight game because of the hamstring injury he sustained in practice on Sept. 30, but Davante Adams will practice on Saturday and if all goes well he should play against the Lions.

The short workout before the team departs for Detroit will be Adams’ first time on the field since he dropped out of Wednesday’s practice with a calf injury.

Meanwhile, Geronimo Allison has made some progress through the concussion protocol and head coach Mike McCarthy said “there’s hope for Geronimo.” Allison was knocked out of last Sunday’s win over the Bills with a concussion in the second half.

Adams, Allison and Cobb have combined for 64 catches, 768 yards and six touchdowns — or 62.1 percent of the team’s receptions, 64.8 percent of the receiving yards and all but one of Aaron Rodgers‘ touchdown passes.

“I think we’ve still got some progress to make before I think both sides would be comfortable,” Cobb said Thursday. “It’s a long season and we’re on Game 5, but at the same time, it’s a short season, and we’re on Game 5. So it’s trying to balance both of those. If something was to happen and I reinjure the same hamstring, it’s going to put me out for double the time. So it’s trying to be smart on both sides of it, which I struggle with because I play through emotion.”

If all three were out, the Packers would be down to their three rookie receivers.

Of the three, only fifth-round pick Marquez Valdes-Scantling has caught a pass (two for 41 yards, including a 38-yarder against the Bills) this season.

Fifth-round pick J’Mon Moore played his first snaps from scrimmage last week against the Bills and did not have a ball thrown his way. He battled drop issues during the preseason.

Sixth-round pick Equanimeous St. Brown has played only special teams this season.

The Packers added a receiver, former fifth-round pick DeAngelo Yancey, to their practice squad on Thursday and have until the end of Saturday to add him to the roster in order to play him on Sunday.

“They’ve all got talent, they’ve all come a long way and at some point you have to find out a little bit more about exactly what you have,” Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said of the three rookies. “Quez did some good things, obviously made a big play in the game the other day and started to emerge on special teams. J’Mon is continuing to get better and better. EQ was up for the game. They’re a good group. We’ll just see how the rest of the week unfolds.”



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Tampa Bay Buccaneers name Jameis Winston starting quarterback


TAMPA, Fla. — Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter erased all doubt surrounding his quarterback situation Monday by naming Jameis Winston the starter for the Bucs’ Week 6 game against the Atlanta Falcons.

Ryan Fitzpatrick started against the Chicago Bears on Sunday but was pulled after the first half. Koetter hadn’t planned to make an in-game switch, but the Bucs were down by five touchdowns at halftime, and he felt it was important to get Winston some in-game reps after being away for three weeks due to suspension.

“In no way is this on Fitz that we lost like we did yesterday. Fitz didn’t play as well as he’s been playing, but this was a 100-percent team deal,” Koetter said, adding that when he initially saw the Bucs’ schedule, he’d planned to give Fitzpatrick four starts and turn things over to Winston after this week’s bye week unless Fitzpatrick was playing “lights out,” which would have meant playing him longer.

Neither quarterback played “lights out” Sunday in their 48-10 loss to the Bears. Fitzpatrick completed 9 of 18 passes for 126 yards, no touchdowns and an interception. Winston was able to move the ball a bit better, getting 12 first downs compared to Fitzpatrick’s four in the first half. Winston went 16 of 20 for 145 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. They were each sacked twice.

“We brought Fitz here two years ago to be a mentor for Jameis and to be a guy that could fill in if Jameis was out for injury. Both times we’ve asked Fitz to fill in — for a three-game stretch a year ago he led us to 2-1 [and] a four-game stretch this year, he led us to 2-2 this year — job well-done, excellent. I think any team in the league would take that.”

“Fitz’s combination of experience, talent and leadership is valued at a very high level here. But at the same time, Jameis Winston is the guy that’s gonna be here way longer than I am so he needs to be out there playing, and he will be, unless he gets hurt at Atlanta.”



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Tampa Bay Buccaneers TE O.J. Howard out 2-4 weeks with sprained MCL


Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end O.J. Howard sprained his MCL and is expected to miss two to four weeks, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Howard injured his left knee late in the first half of Sunday’s 48-10 loss to the Bears.

Howard is third on the team with 222 receiving yards through four games this season. His 11 receptions rank fifth on the team. He also has one touchdown reception.

He was drafted 19th overall in 2017 and had 26 receptions for 432 yards and six touchdowns in his rookie season.



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Packers still a work in progress even with shutout of Bills – Green Bay Packers Blog


GREEN BAY, Wis. – Nothing like a bad quarterback – or at least a rookie who isn’t ready to play – to make the Green Bay Packers feel better about themselves.

Sure, there were enough notable performances from the home team in Sunday’s 22-0 victory at Lambeau Field:

  • Jimmy Graham’s first touchdown with the Packers

  • Aaron Jones’ dominance, even in a still-limited role

  • A Clay Matthews (half) sack without a penalty

  • First-round pick Jaire Alexander’s first career interception (that wasn’t wiped out by a roughing flag)

  • The Packers’ first shutout in nearly eight years.

  • And perhaps most important, a more mobile Aaron Rodgers

But Josh Allen isn’t Tom Brady, Jared Goff, Matt Ryan Kirk Cousins or even the suddenly dangerous Mitchell Trubisky – with his six touchdown passes on Sunday. They’re all quarterbacks still on the Packers’ schedule, and they’re all more dangerous than the Bills’ first-round pick.

No wonder Rodgers for weeks has called the Packers “a work in progress.”

Five dropped passes on four different drives cost the Packers points. They punted twice and settled for a field goal on two others.

Without Randall Cobb (hamstring), the Packers played rookie Marquez Valdes-Scantling as the third receiver and his miscue on a route would have been a pick-6 if Bills cornerback Ryan Lewis hadn’t dropped the ball.

But the biggest difference was in the quarterbacks.

Much like Dom Capers’ defenses did, new coordinator Mike Pettine feasted on a rookie quarterback. The Packers sacked Allen seven times (three of them by Kyler Fackrell), picked him off twice and forced a fourth-quarter fumble to clinch their first shutout since a 9-0 win over the Jets on Oct. 31, 2010. The Bills totaled just 145 net yards, while Allen completed just 16 of 33 passes for 151 yards with two interceptions and passer rating of 36.3.

Alexander benefited from an amateurish decision by Allen to heave a ball late over the middle into the end zone, where Alexander picked it off in the second quarter. Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dixthen picked off Allen in the second half for his third interception of the season.

Matthews and Nick Perry shared a sack in the second quarter and no, Matthews wasn’t flagged for roughing the passer for the first time in four games this season.

There were signs of progress on offense, too.

Rodgers moved better than at any time since he injured his left knee in the opener. He scrambled for a 10-yard gain to set up the Packers’ set touchdown and then again for 15 yards to set up a field goal to close the first half.

Rodgers went 22-for-40 with 298 yards, including a 3-yard touchdown pass to Graham for his first in Green Bay and his first interception of the season on a twice-tipped pass.

Jones showed why eventually he will be the Packers’ go-to running back. And by eventually, perhaps that will be next Sunday at Detroit. Jones still played after Jamaal Williams and Ty Montgomery took their turns, but much like when he made his season debut a week earlier at Washington, he was instant offense.

Jones’ first possession featured a run for 30 yards, a screen pass for 17 and a 3-yard touchdown. Jones rushed 11 times for 65 yards as a part of a 141-yard rushing day that put the Packers at 2-1-1 after the first quarter of the season.



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Tampa Bay Buccaneers replace Ryan Fitzpatrick with Jameis Winston


CHICAGO — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who started Ryan Fitzpatrick against the Chicago Bears Sunday, have put in Jameis Winston in the game in the second half.

Amid heavy pressure from the Bears’ defense, the Bucs’ offense mustered just three first downs and converted one third down. Fitzpatrick completed 9-of-18 passes for 126 yards and was intercepted by Eddie Jackson on a pass intended for Mike Evans. He was sacked twice.

On Winston’s first possession, he completed five passes but he was picked off by Danny Trevathan.

Winston was active for the first time since serving a three-game suspension, but the plan was for Fitzpatrick to get the start and for the Bucs to re-evaluate their quarterback situation during next week’s bye week.

The Bucs’ struggles against the Bears have gone far beyond Fitzpatrick. In fact, he’s just a small part of it. Mitch Trubisky shredded the Bucs’ defense, throwing five touchdowns in the first half.

Bucs starting tight end O.J. Howard has left the game against the Bears with a knee injury and won’t return.



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