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Panthers trade for Bills OT Marshall Newhouse

Panthers trade for Bills OT Marshall Newhouse

5:56 PM ET

  • David NewtonESPN Staff Writer


    • Covered Panthers, NFL for 11 years
    • More than 25 years experience covering NFL, college football and NASCAR
    • Joined ESPN in 2006

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — TheCarolina Pantherscontinued their pipeline with theBuffalo Billson Tuesday, trading for backup offensive tackleMarshall Newhouseto help with depth on an injury-plagued line.

The Bills will receive a conditional late 2021 draft pick, a source tells ESPN. Buffalo also signedJeremiah Sirles, who was released by the Panthers and has a hamstring injury.

Buffalo used Newhouse in its first three games as a sixth offensive lineman in running situations. He played 11 offensive snaps and was called for two penalties, a holding and a false start.

Buffalo signed Newhouse to a one-year contract in March that included a $1 million base salary and a $500,000 signing bonus. His trade will elevateConor McDermottinto the top backup offensive-tackle role for the Bills behind startersDion DawkinsandJordan Mills.

The Panthers have made multiple deals with the Bills since former Carolina assistant general manager Brandon Beane was named general manager in Buffalo last year. The biggest came last year when No. 1 wide receiverKelvin Benjaminwas shipped to the Bills so the Panthers could get more speed on the field oppositeDevin Funchess.

The trade for Newhouse will give the Panthers experience behind left tackleChris Clarkand right tackleTaylor Moton, neither of whom was in that position prior to the opener againstDallas.

Moton played left tackle in the opener to replaceMatt Kalil, put on injured reserve with a designation to return after undergoing minor surgery on his right knee.

Moton moved to right tackle the second game againstAtlanta FalconsafterDaryl Williamsreinjured the knee that forced him to miss all four preseason games and was placed on injured reserve.

Veteran Clark, coming off a season-ending ankle injury withHoustonlast year, signed the Wednesday before the Atlanta game and started at left tackle the past two games. Carolina’s only other proven tackle wasCorey Robinson, acquired in a trade with Detroit prior to the first game.

The Panthers (2-1) have a bye this week before returning to face theNew York Giantson Oct. 7 at Bank of America Stadium.

ESPN’s Michael Rodak contributed to this report.

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FANTASY PLAYS: Waiver pickups for Week 4 as byes start

FANTASY PLAYS: Waiver pickups for Week 4 as byes start

With the loss of Jimmy Garoppolo to a season-ending knee injury and the beginning of bye weeks rendering Cam Newton idle, many fantasy players will be looking for quarterback help this week.

If you need a long-term solution at the position, try to make a trade for someone more consistent. Yet there is one possible QB with upside who has the promise to make a real significant impact from the free agency pile.


Baker Mayfield, Cleveland: The rookie is only owned in 6.8 percent of leagues and could be the answer to solving the Garoppolo problem for many fantasy owners. In relief ofTyrod Taylorlast week, he completed 17 of 23 attempts for 201 yards. Mayfield has crisp mechanics, puts good zip on his passes, throws well on the run and has a diverse crew of receiving targets. He can be plugged into lineups immediately against Oakland, which has allowed 8.7 passing yards per attempt, 30th in the NFL.

Andy Dalton, Cincinnati (28.6): He can be incredibly inconsistent and maddening, as he threw four TD passes in Week 2 and was intercepted four times in Week 3. Dalton has always been seemingly very good or very bad and can be very frustrating to own. But this week, he faces the Falcons’ 27th-ranked pass defense in what should be one of the highest-scoring games of the week. You can at least stream Dalton this week if you do not find a permanent solution in a trade, and he can be considered when the matchup is friendly if you need him for the longer term, playing matchups with another QB.

Case Keenum, Denver (17.1): He is already turning back into the journeyman QB we thought he was before last season, as Keenum has not thrown a TD pass since the season opener and has five interceptions. This week, however, he will take on the league’s worst pass defense as theBroncoshost theChiefson Monday night. If you do not find a trade to your liking or just need to replace Newton for a week, you can ride with Keenum for a single week.

Ryan Tannehill, Miami (7.8): He has thrown eight TD passes overall with no interceptions in the past two weeks. The surprisingDolphinsare riding intoNew Englandundefeated, and thePatriotspass defense ranks 23rd in the league so far and is looking vulnerable. Tannehill also faces the Bengals’ 24th-ranked pass defense in Week 5. Tannehill does not have a lot of perceived upside, but right now, it looks like you can do worse if you have a hole.


Javorius Allen, Baltimore (39.3): “Buck” Allen has scored on the ground in every game so far this season and added a receiving score in Week 3. The Ravens obviously lack the faith in Alex Collins to utilize him as a pure feature back, and Allen is their preferred receiving RB, as he caught five passes in each of the first two games. He’s a good add for depth now that the bye weeks are here.

Chris Ivory, Buffalo (5.1): He totaled 126 yards from scrimmage in the Bills’ stunning upset of theVikings, and LeSean McCoy is dealing with cracked rib cartilage and some persistent off-the-field issues. Even if McCoy can return soon, he has a lot of mileage on his legs at this point of his career and Ivory may be needed somewhere down the line again. We mentioned him last week and the ownership did not climb much, so here’s a reminder to not miss out this time.

Nick Chubb, Cleveland (20.0): The rookie has become a forgotten man asCarlos Hydehas gotten off to a strong start with theBrowns. But Hyde does have a past history of getting banged up, so if you are not rostering him as a handcuff to Hyde, you are making a mistake. Chubb can also be stashed even if you don’t own Hyde. Think ahead on this one based on Hyde’s track record of injuries.


Chris Godwin,Tampa Bay(37.7): The second-year wideout has scored in all of theBuccaneers‘ first three games and is looking to be more dependable than boom-or-bust type DeSean Jackson, who disappeared in Week 3. Godwin is getting regular looks in the goal line area and should be recognized as Tampa Bay’s true No. 2 WR very soon.

Christian Kirk, Arizona (6.2): Rookie wide receivers can be risky, but theCardinalsare desperate to find another playmaker in their offense. Arizona is making an official QB change to another rookie,Josh Rosen, and he may need to lean on Kirk immediately. Take the flier for some depth after Kirk caught seven passes for 90 yards in Week 3.

Geronimo Allison, Green Bay (34.2): The window is closing fast on your opportunity to get this rising playmaker in a prime passing game. Allison has scored twice in three games and has also caught five passes in two outings. Allison does have a boom-or-bust look to him so far but could soon surpass Randall Cobb as Green Bay’s true No. 2 option.


Vance McDonald,Pittsburgh(13.0): His 75-yard catch-and-run TD on Monday night complete with the stiff arm of the century has quickly become the stuff of legend — and he finished with 112 receiving yards. McDonald has obvious appeal if he can stay healthy, but injuries have often been an issue for him, so hope he stays on the field and more quality production may be ahead.

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Astros reliever Roberto Osuna has domestic assault charge dropped in Toronto

Astros reliever Roberto Osuna has domestic assault charge dropped in Toronto

On May 8, news broke that then-Blue JayscloserRoberto Osunahad beenarrested and charged with domestic violence in Toronto. As protocol goes,MLBimmediately put him on administrative leave and conducted an investigation. After said investigation, MLB came down hardwith a 75-game suspension

Wednesday, theAstros(Osuna’s current team) and Osuna released statements to inform the public that the assault charges have been withdrawn against Osuna. 

“Today, the Ontario Court of Justice withdrew the assault charge against Roberto Osuna.  The Houston Astros look forward to Roberto continuing his commitment to be a productive and caring part of our community.

“The Astros remain committed to increase our support regarding the issues of domestic violence and abuse of any kind. We have engaged with a number of local, state and national organizations – and we look forward to working with them in the short term and over the long term.” 

Osuna’s statement: 

“I am pleased and relieved by today’s court decision. Now I can begin to put these allegations behind me and focus on baseball. I want to thank my family, teammates and fans for believing in me. I am grateful to the Astros for providing me with the opportunity to play baseball and compete for a World Series championship.

“I will make no further comments about this matter, as I plan on moving past this and look only to the future.”

John Lott from The Athletic Toronto sheds some light on why the charge was withdrawn: 

Osuna assault charge withdrawn, replaced by one- year peace bond: keep the peace, continue counselling, no contact with complainant without written consent. Crown says no prospect of conviction; complainant in Mexico, wouldn’t return for court proceedings.

— John Lott (@LottOnBaseball)September 25, 2018

Osuna, 23, was acquired by the Astros just in front of the July 31 trade deadline and he made his first post-suspension appearance on Aug. 6. This season, Osuna has 19 saves in 20 chances with a 2.50 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 32 strikeouts against only four walks in 36 innings. He’ll be the Astros closer as they had back to the playoffs and look to defend their World Series title. 

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Scary, concerning details emerge about Everson Griffen’s mental state after hotel incident

Scary, concerning details emerge about Everson Griffen’s mental state after hotel incident

TheVikingswent off the rails Sunday, losing in historic fashion to the Buffalo Bills as a 16.5-point favorite. During the game, defensive endEverson Griffenwas nowhere to be seen. Mike Zimmer was predictably tight-lipped about the situation, but some concerning details surrounding Griffen’s absence have begun to emerge, involving a bizarre incident with a gun at a Minneapolis hotel. 

According toa report from Josina Anderson of ESPN, Griffen was in a hospital being evaluated after the incident in question. A source told Anderson that Griffin is “getting assistance on personal matters” and that theNFLis “comfortable he has a good support system around him.”

The primary concern for Griffen is what happened over the weekend, as officers of the Minneapolis Police Department were called to Hotel Ivy on Saturday because, per a police report obtained by ESPN’s Courtney Cronin, “an individual was threatening to shoot someone if he wasn’t allowed in his room.”

Additionally,according to the Minnesota Star-Tribune, Griffen was “growing increasingly paranoid and feared someone was trying to kill him in the weeks and days” ahead of Saturday’s incident. The police report also references another incident in Griffen’s home neighborhood.

On the police report the individual’s name was redacted, but Cronin reports it was indeed Griffen who was at the hotel with a firearm when police came to check on him. 

Additionally, the report indicates members of the hotel staff thought Griffen could have been “under the influence of alcohol or narcotics” and that Griffen, who checked into the hotel last week, created issues/a disturbance “each time he walks through the lobby.” 

The Star-Tribune reports that Griffen’s wife said her husband “awoke in the middle of the night on Sept. 16 and left the home” and that Griffen does that “at times when he is fighting ‘demons’ in his head.” Griffen came back home on Wednesday and then left until Saturday.

Some of the details provided by Griffen’s wife are extremely bizarre and concerning. From the Star-Tribune:

  • Police learned from Vikings player development director Les Pico that Griffen “has been really struggling for the past few weeks,” the police reports read. Pico said Griffen “has been explosive, screaming and yelling” at practice, the reports continued. Pico called Griffen paranoid and prone to repeating himself.
  • Griffen’s wife then called and said he was at teammate Trae Waynes’ home down the road. Griffen was trying to break in, had jumped through bushes and was shirtless. Within minutes, Griffen’s wife notified police that he was in a pickup truck with someone who didn’t know what to do with him. The man had encountered Griffen at a gas station, and delivered him home.
  • Police met Griffen outside late Saturday afternoon, and he was making comments about “777” — having to do with angels — and that he went to Waynes’ home because “God made me do it.”

Per Cronin, things got heated enough Saturday where there was a threat of assault directed toward some hotel staff members. When police officers showed up, Griffen said “I’m leaving.” No arrests were made.

The Vikings released a statement Monday night confirming they are aware of the situation.

“We are aware of the situation involving Everson Griffen and certainly concerned by what we have heard,” Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said. “We are currently focused on Everson’s well-being and providing the appropriate support for him and his family.”

Asked about Griffen’s absence after the loss to Buffalo, Zimmer said the defensive end “is having a personal matter and I’m going to leave it at that.”

Griffen was held out of practice throughout the week with a knee injurybefore being declared inactive for Sunday’s gameagainst the Bills.

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NHL mascot rankings: Gritty’s big debut

NHL mascot rankings: Gritty’s big debut

5:58 PM ET

  • Greg WyshynskiESPN

There are game-changers in popular culture. Like when “The Matrix” altered the course of science fiction films, or Dr. Dre featured Snoop Doggy Dogg for the first time, or “The Sopranos” aired on HBO.

Or on Monday, when thePhiladelphia Flyersunleashed “Gritty” on an unsuspecting populace.

Gritty is the Flyers’ new mascot, and their first since the 1970s. It’s an orange mess of googly eyes and a hoopla-hoop belly. It was an instant sensation, whether you treated it as “nightmare fuel” or were strangely captivated by it. Rare is the hockey thing that bursts out of the sport’s bubble, but Gritty was a conversation starter for non-hockey people ranging fromESPN baseball writer Keith Lawtocomedy’s Paul F. Tompkins.It’s pretty much the most incredible NHL debut sinceAuston Matthewsscored four goals in his first game.

So, to that end, Gritty’s changed the game. Here are the ESPN NHL mascot rankings in a Gritty-enhanced world, as we rank these plush entertainers for the 2018-19 season. (Keep in mind that the Rangers do not have a mascot, andthe Red Wings’ giant octopus was recently sold at auction.)

Note: Click each mascot’s name to see who we’re ranking!

1.Los Angeles Kings:Bailey the lion

Known for his in-game antics against opposing fans (or team plants) that include popcorn showers, Bailey has also roared into online feuds witheveryone from C.M. Punktohubristic hockey writers.The sassiest lion this side of Scar.

2.Nashville Predators:Gnash the sabretooth tiger

As the story goes, the Predators were named when construction crews found the partial skeleton of a saber-tooth cat while building their downtown arena in Nashville. No word if they also found the petrified remains of an ATV and a T-shirt cannon. When Gnash repels from the rafters, it feels like an event.

3.San Jose Sharks:S.J. Sharkie

Many mascots rappel from the rafters, but there’s just something about the way S.J. Sharkie does it that feels epic. A great looking mascot who is a ton of fun. No word if he scurries away if punched in the nose, like a real shark or San Jose in the playoffs.

4.Pittsburgh Penguins:Iceburgh

One of the goofiest-looking mascots, in a good way. Iceburgh gained fame when it became a plot point in the Jean-Claude Van Damme ‘Die Hard in a hockey arena’ classic “Sudden Death,” as a terrorist wearing the costume met his end in a large mechanical dishwasher. Hans Gruber wishes his demise had had that flair.

5.Philadelphia Flyers:Gritty the … um, we’re stumped

“Gritty” appears to be the result of a gene-splicing experiment involving the Lorax, Grimace, “Animal” from The Muppets, Flyers defensemanRadko Gudasand a Tide pod, with the resulting creature having mainlined Wawa extra bold coffee to stay awake for several straight days. The mania surrounding this mascot upon his introduction is something we’ve rarely seen, as fans were aghast in the morning and then were basically getting Gritty tattooed on their backs by the evening. It’s hard to judge something this new, but the googly eyes alone warrant a high ranking.

6.Calgary Flames:Harvey the hound

Harvey was involved in perhaps the most infamous mascot moment of all time, when then-Oilers coach Craig MacTavish became infuriated with his antics and ripped the dog’s tongue out. He’s a classic, and let’s face it: The bar for mascots in the Calgary organization is set at“did we have to get rid of it because it attacked a firefighter in a vignette?”

7.Montreal Canadiens:Youppi!

It’s no surprise that in the myopic world of hockey culture, Youppi! would receive backlash fororiginating in Major League Baseball with the now-defunct Expos. Counterpoint: It’s Youppi!, and he’s unimpeachable. But enough people play the “but baseball” card that we have to knock him down a bit.

8.Buffalo Sabres:Sabretooth

Why not a Buffalo, you ask? Well, because the Buffalo Bison already had a buffalo mascot at their minor league baseball games, so the Sabres went with a sabre-tooth tiger. And, serendipitously, ended up with one of the best mascots in hockey, if only for its ATV ice-sliding innovations.

9.Anaheim Ducks:Wild Wing

The greatest attribute of this mascot is the mask, which is a homage to the original Mighty Ducks of Anaheim logo and just looks so cool. Perhaps his greatest claim to fame was serving as the inspiration for the lead character in the “Mighty Ducks” cartoon, voiced by none other than “Sharknado” star Ian Ziering.

10.New Jersey Devils:N.J. Devil

There’s a myth that N.J. Devil is based on the “Jersey Devil” that haunts the Pine Barrens. Actually, the Jersey Devil is described as being kangaroo-like with leathery bat wings and a goat’s head. N.J. Devil, on the other hand, has a thin John Waters-like mustache.

11.Carolina Hurricanes:Stormy

Having an anthropomorphic pig as your mascot in a region famous for its BBQ is the kind of twisted thing we love. We imagine it was born out of necessity, as it’s rather difficult to conceive a cuddly plush mascot based on wind. Maybe a broken umbrella or a sandbag. Who knows.

12.Tampa Bay Lightning:Thunderbug

Thunderbug is straight up adorbz, combining two of the greatest mascot attributes: giant eyes and bouncy antennae. Much better than what we assume was Option B for Tampa: a passed-out 40-year-old man in an ill-fitting Gasparilla pirate costume.

13.Vancouver Canucks:Fin the whale

The cuddliest orca this side of Free Willy, Fin is notable forhaving once engaged in an open-mouth kiss with Pamela Anderson, which is something we’re sure he reminds his peers about at every All-Star weekend.

14.Washington Capitals:Slapshot

For years, Slapshot might have been second only toAlex Ovechkinin memorable public appearances to promote the Capitals around D.C. Unfortunately, unless Slapshot ups his goal celebration game and starts doing half-naked snow angels in public fountains, he’ll remain the second most enjoyable mascot on the Capitals.

15.St. Louis Blues:Louie the bear

Is Louie cuddly? Yes. Does Louie dance? Quite well. But why do the St. Louis Blues have a generic plushie that looks like it walked in from an off-brand amusement park as their mascot when there are, like, Clydesdales right down the road?

16.Toronto Maple Leafs:Carlton the bear

To paraphrase Quint from “Jaws” here:‘Y’know, the thing about an NHL mascot, he’s got lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll’s eye.’Carlton actually bounces back and forth between the Leafs and the AHL Marlies, making him the mascot equivalent ofKasperi Kapanen.

17.Boston Bruins:Blades The bear

On obvious choice given the team moniker, Blades is memorable for those overly intense eyes that stare at you like a Dunkin’ Donuts full of Bostonians when someone in a Yankees hat walks in.‘Ya think ya a smaht guy, huh’That kind of look.

18.Arizona Coyotes:Howler the coyote

We’ve always appreciated the joyful look plastered on Howler’s face despite years of Glendale city council meetings and relocation rumors and performing for empty sections of the arena. A lesser mascot would have shed its jersey and sprinted into the desert air.

19.Winnipeg Jets:Mick E. Moose

This mascot name doesn’t get nearly the love it deserves. Mick was promoted from the AHL when the Jets arrived back in Winnipeg, oversized grotesque smile and all. He has the misfortune of sharing the hearts and minds of fans withBenny, the original Jets mascotwhose moniker was partially inspired by Elton John, who once performed concerts dressed as Don L. Duck.

20.Florida Panthers:Stanley C. Panther

Notable for having appeared on “The Price Is Right” and having oncegone on injured reserve for the Panthers(does that count against the cap?), this anthropomorphic cat unfortunately gets knocked down a few pegs for the overwhelming irony of a Florida Panthers mascot being named after the Stanley Cup.

21.Columbus Blue Jackets:Stinger

When the Blue Jackets entered the NHL, they had this whole insect motif that was in line with Stinger, a giant bug whose head was reminiscent of Aquaman’s arch nemesisBlack Manta. Gradually, they moved away from that into a military history motif, which producedBoomer, a quickly cancelled mascot that still lives in infamy.We miss you, Booms.

22.Chicago Blackhawks:Tommy Hawk

The thing we always come back to on Tommy Hawk is that face. It has this perpetual look of quiet concern that says “thing have been going so well but nothing lasts forever and oh man have you seen thatBrent Seabrookcontract.” Or maybe we’re projecting.

23.Ottawa Senators:Spartacat

There’s a lot to unpack here. Spartacat is a lion whose name is inspired by “Spartacus,” a gladiator who would fight in the Coliseum, where lions would frequently be used to devour said gladiators or be defeated by them. So, in being the Ottawa Senators’ mascot, Spartacat is cheering on the centurions who would be sending him to his inevitable death for their entertainment. Also, there’s a chance Eugene Melynk trades Spartacat to San Jose for some magic beans in a cost-cutting measure.

24.New York Islanders:Sparky the dragon

Get this backstory: Sparky was the mascot for an arena football team owned by former Islanders owner Charles Wang that folded in 2009, so he then became the Islanders’ mascot. He was then locked up in a lighthouse for a few years when the team moved to Brooklyn and went sans mascot. Then the team realized Islanders fans hated Barclays Center and they were like “fine, here’s your dumb dragon to shut you up.” His tail also looks like a hockey stick.

25.Colorado Avalanche:Bernie the St. Bernard

Having replaced Howler the Yeti a decade ago, Bernie is a good boy who personifies the modern experience of watching the Avalanche: His tongue is out withNathan MacKinnon‘s on the ice, and he has a barrel of adult beverage around his neck for when he’s not. (In full disclosure, we prefer the Yeti, but that’s probably Seattle’s thing now.)

26.Vegas Golden Knights:Chance the Gila monster

One assumes the Golden Knights settled on this escaped Pokémon when their offer to become the first Vegas mascot was rejected by Carrot Top. Chance is fine; the problem is that he’s totally overshadowed by the Medieval Times fights and the electric drum line and the pyrotechnics of a Vegas home game. Well, that and he looks like he just got a facelift despite only being a year old.

27.Minnesota Wild:Nordy

In fairness to Nordy, when your team has a non-descript nickname (“The Wild”) it’s only natural that its mascot is going to end up being an animalistic Rorschach test. Is it a bear? A puma? A fox? Is it wrong that now we can’t shake the idea of Rorschach from “Watchmen” as an NHL mascot? (“I’m not locked in this penalty box with you … you’re locked in this penalty boxwith me.”

28.Dallas Stars:Victor E. Green

Obviously there’s nothing else in Texas’s history or ecosystem the Stars could have drawn from in creating a mascot, which is why they settled on a neon green Woozle with hockey stick blades jammed into its head. It’s like someone saw the Phillie Phanatic and said “that, but more like a booger.”

29.Edmonton Oilers:Hunter

It’s adorable that Edmonton fans aretrying to make the case that Gritty is somehow scarier than Hunter,when the latter is the cover model of an issue of “Cat Fancy” guest-edited by Guillermo del Toro. A mascot who appeals to children slightly less than sharing a sewer with Pennywise.

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An all-woman NFL broadcast team should be more than an alternative

An all-woman NFL broadcast team should be more than an alternative

“It’s just different when there’s a lady in the room, isn’t it?”mused Cris Collinsworthduring this week’sSunday Night Footballbroadcast, as the camera panned toLionsteam owner Martha Ford. “It’s just so different when there’s a lady in a football setting.”

He didn’t elaborate on exactlywhatmade things so different when there was a “lady” around, thankfully for both those watching and the NBC public relations team. But that sentiment—that women working in the NFL make things “different”—was echoed ina press release todayfrom Amazon, who decided to make history in service of promoting their ownThursday Night Footballbroadcast via Amazon Prime: veteran sportscasters and journalists Hannah Storm and Andrea Kremer will share the booth to become the first all-woman NFL broadcast team.

Amazon Prime viewers can still streamThursday Night Footballgames with commentary from Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, who will call the broadcast for FOX and NFL Network. The Prime-only stream with Storm and Kremer’s commentary is part of the channel’s initiative to “enable customers around the world to customize their viewing experience,” the press release explains, along with Spanish-language and U.K. English broadcasts.

While it’s understandable that Amazon would not be able to change the cast of the FOX and NFL Network broadcasts, promoting the Storm-Kremer team as compelling for being different rather than simply being good reinforces some unsavory conclusions. The implication of that list of streaming options—whether it was intended that way or not—is that when it comes to football, women speak another language.

Many NFL fans would agree with that exact statement, if the response to Beth Mowins’ call on the first game of the Week 1Monday Night Footballdoubleheader this season was any indication. Her name was trending on Twitter as hordes of (mostly) men declared they would rather listen to the Spanish-language broadcast on ESPN Deportes (which, presumably, they couldn’t understand) than hear Mowins call the game, regardless of her years of experience and deft play-by-play commentary.

Storm and Kremer clearly have the sports TV bona fides to succeed on Thursday Night Football, even if they haven’t spent extensive time doing in-game commentary like Mowins. And the bottom line is that if they’re qualified to call games for Amazon Prime, what’s holding them and other veteran women sportscasters back from handling standard TV broadcasts? Women like Storm, Kremer and Mowins deserve to be permanent staples of NFL games—not only as fans or even as sideline reporters, as is now an accepted role for women in the industry, but as authoritative analysts and commentators.

Maybe if Mowins had a weekly gig in an NFL booth, casting Storm and Kremer in this role would look more like the exciting, history-making moment it is. I, at least, am thrilled by the prospect of hearing their commentary—sure, because they’re women, but also because they’re exceptional journalists and analysts. But all those convinced that women calling men’s sports is simply unnatural need only flip the audio to feel comfortable again; when listening to women is presented as a choice rather than the standard, too many will continue to opt out.

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Steelers hope win over Bucs sign of things to come

Steelers hope win over Bucs sign of things to come

PITTSBURGH (AP) —Vance McDonaldinsists he wasn’t sending some sort of message when thePittsburgh Steelerstight end extended his right arm towardTampa Bay’sChris Conte and jammed theBuccaneersdefensive back into the turf on Monday night.

It was a show of force that sprung McDonald for a 75-yard touchdown reception and seemed to snap the two-time defending AFC North champions out of an early funk that threatened to swallow their season whole.

“Just playing big,” McDonald said after Pittsburgh held on for a 30-27 victory. “It was frustrating. I was (injured) in training camp, so this was kind of just a ‘Welcome Back’ almost.’”

McDonald was talking about himself. He might as well have been talking about the Steelers, too.

While there remains plenty of issues — particularly when it comes to penalties and pass defense — Pittsburgh (1-1-1) played with a sense of urgency it lacked at times during a maddening opening two weeks in which the Steelers frittered away a 14-point fourth-quarter lead in Cleveland before getting overwhelmed by Kansas City.

McDonald’s highly “GIF-able” swat of Conte provided a desperately needed spark. The defense put a sudden if brief halt to Tampa Bay quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick’s hot streak by forcing a turnover on four consecutive possessions.

Ben Roethlisbergerdid the rest while throwing for 353 yards and three scores.

“That was a total team win, all the phases, and that’s what Steeler football is about,” Roethlisberger said.

Even if anything close to a “clean” game remains elusive. Pittsburgh was flagged 13 times for 155 yards, the defense gave up 411 yards passing and kickerChris Boswellmissed two more kicks.

Throw in some anxious moments in the fourth quarter after the Buccaneers trimmed a 20-point deficit to three and the Steelers understand they’re far from a finished product heading into a Sunday night visit by Baltimore (2-1).

Still, considering all the off-the-field issues surrounding the team in recent weeks — from wide receiverAntonio Brown’serratic behavior to running back Le’Veon Bell’s extended absence while waiting to sign his franchise tag — they will take it.

“It was big,” cornerbackJoe Hadensaid. “We haven’t started the season (anywhere) like we expected to, but we just wanted to start getting our first win, get that thing rolling.”

Pittsburgh created just two turnovers over the first two weeks, but produced four against the Buccaneers thanks to three interceptions — including a pick-6 by linebackerBud Dupree— and a fumble recovery.

They’re the kind of “splash” plays coach Mike Tomlin covets, though he’s still concerned about the massive amounts of yardage his team continues to give up.

Four different Buccaneers had at least one reception of 20 yards or more, and Fitzpatrick became the first player in NFL history to top 400 yards three consecutive weeks.

While Haden’s return from a hamstring issue that kept him out against Kansas City settled one cornerback spot, the other remains a problem.Artie Burns,Coty Sensabaughand Cam Sutton all saw playing time opposite Haden, and all three struggled.

“We’re going to continue to play a number of people until someone distinguishes themselves,” Tomlin said Tuesday.

The new-look Ravens figure to continue to test Pittsburgh’s revamped secondary when they visit Heinz Field.

Tomlin understands his team can’t make every play. What he’d like to see, however, is the Steelers stop beating themselves.

Pittsburgh’s 37 penalties are easily tops in the NFL, nine more than Buffalo. Though Tomlin attributed some of the mistakes to the emotions of playing a pivotal game so early in the year, he allowed “we’ve got to play cleaner, got to play smarter.”

Tomlin declined to take a shot at the officiating, pointing out that in each of Pittsburgh’s three games both teams were highly penalized.

He admitted the number of flags — the Steelers and Buccaneers combined for 22 on Monday night — might be “worrisome” to those watching at home because the penalties make it difficult for the game to develop any sense of rhythm.

“It probably wasn’t a fun game to watch,” Tomlin said.

That doesn’t mean it wasn’t a fun game to win, if only because it turned the attention back to football and not everything else.

“We always say winning cures a lot of things, but I still think the biggest issue, if you will, was outside the locker room, people perceiving different things,” Roethlisberger said.

“Not saying we don’t have issues, all teams have issues and there’s different things going on, but I think it was a little bigger than it really is.”

Then the 15-year veteran paused ever so briefly before adding, “was.”

NOTES: Tomlin said there’s a chance RGDavid DeCastro(hand), RTMarcus Gilbert(hamstring) and SMorgan Burnett(groin) — all of whom sat out against the Buccaneers — could play against Baltimore. … Tomlin declined to address reports the team is listening to trade offers for Bell. “I’m not talking Le’Veon,” Tomlin said. “I’m just not. There’s nothing new to add.”

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Bucs know who will start at QB, but won’t say

Bucs know who will start at QB, but won’t say

6:04 PM ET

  • Jenna LaineESPN Staff Writer


    • Covered the Buccaneers since 2009
    • Joined ESPN in 2016

TAMPA, Fla. — TheTampa Bay Buccaneers‘ quarterback situation will remain a mystery — for at least another day and possibly through the week.

Coach Dirk Koetter said Tuesday that he isn’t divulging who his starter will be, even after meeting with bothJameis WinstonandRyan Fitzpatrickand informing them of the team’s plan.

Winston returned from his three-game suspension Tuesday morning. Fitzpatrick has thrown for 400 yards in each of his last three games but struggled in the Bucs’ 30-27 loss to thePittsburgh Steelerson Monday Night Football.

“I know there’s a lot of interest in the quarterback thing,” Koetter said. “I did talk to both Jameis and Fitz and it was great to see Jameis back in the building. He was here early and working hard. We’re glad to have him. [It’s] a short week. He assured me that he’s ready to go, which I don’t doubt for a minute that he’s been working hard. So we both know what we’re going to do. I hope everyone can appreciate that it doesn’t do us any good to tell our opponents what we’re going to do. So that will work itself out as the week goes on. But we do have a plan and both guys are aware of it.”

Koetter said the plan has been a work in progress over the last several days.

“I wasn’t sure where everything was going to be,” Koetter said. “I’m still not 100 percent sure because I haven’t seen Jameis practice. I know when Jameis left at the end of the preseason, he was in good form.”

Heading into Monday’s game, the feeling around the Bucs’ facility was that Fitzpatrick would continue to start for at least another week, with the astronomical numbers. In Weeks 1 and 2, Fitzpatrick led the NFL with 819 passing yards, throwing eight touchdowns and tacking on a ninth score with his legs, leading the Bucs to wins over theNew Orleans SaintsandPhiladelphia Eagles.

But he struggled against a Steelers defense that was hellbent on pressuring the 35-year-old signal caller and preventing big plays downfield. He threw three interceptions in the second quarter alone, including a pick-6 when he was backed up into his own end zone.

“We can’t turn the ball over, no matter if they pressure us 40 percent [of the time] or 400 percent,” Koetter said. “We can’t turn the ball over.”

A source close to Winston confirmed to ESPN that the QB was at the team facility at 4:45 a.m., even though it was the players’ day off. He’ll be joined by teammates Wednesday, which will mark the first time he’s practiced with them in 28 days.

For the past three weeks, Winston was not permitted to set foot in the Bucs facility, let alone practice with the team. He enlisted the help of private quarterback coach George Whitfield and rounded up a group of 25 Tampa-area players, including former Bucs teammates Louis Murphy, Andre Davis and Bernard Reedy, along with former FSU teammate Nick O’Leary.

The players practiced every day for 2½ hours at Plant High School, the University of South Florida and a local park. They participated in 7-on-7s and even 11-on-11s to simulate pressure. They even put on pads and had mock games on Saturdays.

“It was very intense,” Murphy said. “He made us all better.”

Reedy added: “He’s still one of the hardest workers I know.”

Wide receiverChris Godwinsaid he doesn’t see the offense changing, regardless of who starts.

“It’s a good situation to be in, knowing that you have two very, very good quarterbacks that can come in and sling it,” said Godwin, who caught one of Fitzpatrick’s fourth-quarter touchdowns. “We’re just so used to all of our quarterbacks, because we get a lot of reps with all of them and are all on the same page. It’s not like what we’re doing with Fitz is so different than what we’ve done with Jameis.”

Wide receiverAdam Humphriessaid, “[They’re] hungry to play and hungry to win games. Obviously it’s not our decision, but as a receiver, I’m excited to go out and play my heart out for either one of them.”

The Bucs (2-1) visit theChicago Bears(2-1) on Sunday.

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Nike’s ‘message’ marketing strikes a chord

Nike’s ‘message’ marketing strikes a chord

NEW YORK (AP) — Nike caused an uproar earlier this month with its ad featuring former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick that debuted just as the football season was about to begin. But the shoe maker’s stock is up and sales have been steady.

The furor seems to have largely died down and the company reported an earnings beat on Tuesday.

While purpose-driven marketing can be a land mine for some companies, others like Nike have found it a useful way to appeal to their core demographic and differentiate themselves in an increasingly polarized political landscape.

“I don’t think it was a big gamble. Historically, Nike has always done this so it was no shock,” said Antonio S. Williams, who teaches sports marketing at Indiana University. “They’re the king of emotional marketing so everything they do, they do it with emotion.”

For the quarter ended Aug. 31, Nike’s net income rose 15 percent to $1.09 billion, or 67 cents per share, from $950 million, or 57 cents per share in the prior-year quarter. Analysts expected 63 cents per share. Revenue rose 10 percent to $9.95 billion, edging past analyst expectations of $9.93 billion, according to FactSet.

The results don’t have anything to do with the Kaepernick ad, which came out shortly after the quarter ended. Instead, the quarter benefited from the FIFA World Cup of soccer that showcased many players and teams wearing its clothing and shoes, as well as the “athleisure” trend that continues to be strong.

But Nike has long boosted its global brand with edgy visual ads. On Monday, it celebrated another controversial athlete, Tiger Woods, who Nike stuck by during a 2009 sex scandal. Its latest campaign, a two-image Instagram ad celebrating Woods’s first PGA Tour win in five years, went viral. The first image shows his back, with the words, “He’s done.” But a swipe through to the second image shows the front of him giving a fist pump and the words “it again.”

The Kaepernick campaign included a print ad that featured a close-up of his face and the words, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything,” as well as a TV ad that featured many Nike athletes and a voiceover by Kaepernick in celebration of the 30th anniversary of Nike’s “Just Do It” tagline. Kaepernick was the first NFL athlete to take a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality.

People online were divided over the ads. Some burned their Nike socks and threatened boycotts while others saluted the company’s message. Overall, revenue hasn’t been dampened and the boycotts seem to have fizzled out. This week, in fact, a Rhode Island town council that had approved a nonbinding resolution to boycott Nike products reversed course .

In a call with analysts, Nike CEO Mark Parker said the campaign has inspired “record engagement with the brand,” and an uptick in traffic and engagement “socially and commercially,” although he did not give specifics.

He said Nike marketing is always about addressing “how do we connect and engage in a way that is relevant and inspiring to the consumers we’re here to serve.”

Taking a political or social stand is anathema to most brands, who aim to appeal to the broadest amount of people possible in order to get them to part with their dollars. They don’t always work out. For example, Etsy, the craft-centric e-commerce company, rose to prominence as a B Corp., a type of for-profit company that has been certified to meet social sustainability and environmental performance standards. But once Etsy went public, its board voted to give up its B Corp. status to maintain its corporate structure.

In another case, an 84 Lumber Super Bowl ad in 2017 that tried to tackle immigration came across as overly complicated and tone deaf. Similarly, a 2017 Airbnb Super Bowl ad that aimed to celebrate diversity ended up inadvertently echoing Airbnb’s own problem with combating discrimination by some hosts.

But if it fits with the brand, a social stance can work. Outdoor clothing company Patagonia has had success taking a stand on environmental issues because that resonates with its main customers: buyers of high end outdoor clothing gear. And as opposition swelled against the Trump administration policy to separate migrant families, American Airlines and United Airlines, as well as other carriers, issued statements that said they did not want to use their flights to carry migrant children to temporary shelters.

As for Nike, “they hit it out of the park with the Kaepernick ad,” said Bob Phibbs, CEO of New York-based consultancy the Retail Doctor. “This ad is completely in line with who Nike is and what they stand for. That authenticity resonated and will continue to resonate with their customers.”

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Reports: Jets contact Steelers about Bell

Reports: Jets contact Steelers about Bell

The New York Jets reached out to the Pittsburgh Steelers regarding holdout running back Le’Veon Bell, according to multiple reports on Monday.

The exchange was merely a “preliminary conversation” with no trade offer, per multiple reports.

ESPN reported Sunday that the Steelers are listening to offers for Bell, who has yet to report to the team or sign his franchise tender after getting tagged for the second consecutive offseason. Bell ended his 2017 holdout before the regular season, but it remains unclear if or when he’ll join the Steelers this season.

SEE ALSO:49ers’ Jimmy Garoppolo tore his ACL, out for season – now what?

Any trade of Bell would have to come before the Oct. 30 deadline, and the acquiring team would have to take on significant salary. Bell is currently owed just under $12 million for the rest of 2018, after forfeiting $2.6 million ($853K per game) for missing the Steelers’ first three games.

An acquiring team also would not be assured of keeping Bell long-term. Bell is not allowed to sign a contract extension with any team until after the season, and at that point, he could simply choose to hit free agency. It’s unlikely any team would use the franchise tag on Bell, as it would cost around $18 million if used a third straight time on him.


Le’Veon Bell through his career

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ANN ARBOR, MI – OCTOBER 09: Le’Veon Bell #24 of the Michigan State Spartans scores on a 41 yard touchdown in the second quarter during the game aginst the Michigan Wolverines during the game on October 9, 2010 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – DECEMBER 03: Le’Veon Bell #24 of the Michigan State Spartans runs the ball in the first half against the Wisconsin Badgers during the Big 10 Conference Championship Game at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 3, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – FEBRUARY 24: Le’Veon Bell of Michigan State runs the 40-yard dash during the 2013 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 24, 2013 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 24: Leveon Bell attends the 10th Annual ESPN The Magazine Pre-Draft Party at The IAC Building on April 24, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by John Lamparski/WireImage)

PITTSBURGH, PA – AUGUST 10: Injured running back Le’Veon Bell of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on from the sideline during a preseason game against the New York Giants at Heinz Field on August 10, 2013 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Giants defeated the Steelers 18-13. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)

Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers is tackled by Kyle Wilson, New York Jets, during the New York Jets V Pittsburgh Steelers NFL regular season game at MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ, USA. 13th October 2013. Photo Tim Clayton (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

GREEN BAY, WI – DECEMBER 22: Le’Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers warms up before a game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on December 22, 2013 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Steelers defeated the Packers 38-31. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

JACKSONVILLE, FL – OCTOBER 05: Le’Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs for yardage during the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on October 5, 2014 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

PITTSBURGH, PA – NOVEMBER 30: Le’Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers rushes against the New Orleans Saints during the game on November 30, 2014 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

PITTSBURGH, PA – NOVEMBER 30: Ben Roethlisberger #7 hands the ball off to Le’Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the game against the New Orleans Saints at Heinz Field on November 30, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

ATLANTA, GA – DECEMBER 14: Le’Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs off the field after the game against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome on December 14, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

PITTSBURGH, PA – SEPTEMBER 03: Le’Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers watches the game from the sideline in the first quarter against the Carolina Panthers during the preseason game at Heinz Field on September 3, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

October 25, 2015: Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell (26) during the NFL game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Kansas City Chiefs at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by William Purnell/Icon Sportswire) (Photo by William Purnell/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images)

NEW ORLEANS, LA – AUGUST 26: DeAngelo Williams #34 of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Le’Veon Bell #26 talk before a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on August 26, 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

MIAMI GARDENS, FL – OCTOBER 16: Le’Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on before a NFL game against the Miami Dolphins on October 16, 2016 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Ron Elkman/Sports Imagery/ Getty Images)

PITTSBURGH, PA – NOVEMBER 13: Pittsburgh Steelers Running Back Le’Veon Bell (26) stretches out to score a touchdown during the NFL Football game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Steelers on November 13, 2016, at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, PA. The Cowboys defeated the Steelers with a final score of 35-30. (Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

PITTSBURGH, PA – DECEMBER 04: Le’Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers warms up before a game against the New York Giants on December 4, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

PITTSBURGH, PA – DECEMBER 25: Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell (26) looks on after a NFL football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens on December 25, 2016 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, PA. The Steelers went on to win 31-27, advancing to the playoffs as the AFC’s No. 3 seed. (Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

PITTSBURGH, PA – DECEMBER 25: Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell (26) runs out to the field after being introduced during a NFL football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens on December 25, 2016 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, PA. The Steelers went on to win 31-27, advancing to the playoffs as the AFC’s No. 3 seed. (Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

KANSAS CITY, MP – JANUARY 15: Running back Le’Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers tosses the ball forward after gaining a first down against the Kansas City Chiefs during the first quarter in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

CLEVELAND, OH – SEPTEMBER 10, 2017: Running back LeVeon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers laughs as he plays catch with fans prior to a game on September 10, 2017 against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Pittsburgh won 21-18. (Photo by: 2017 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)

CHICAGO, IL – SEPTEMBER 24: Le’Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on during a game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on September 24, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears won 23-17 in overtime. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

BALTIMORE, MD – OCTOBER 01: Running back Le’Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs with the ball against the Baltimore Ravens in the fourth quarter at M&T Bank Stadium on October 1, 2017 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell (26) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in Detroit, Michigan USA, on Sunday, October 29, 2017.

(Photo by Jorge Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – NOVEMBER 12: Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell (26) watches a video replay during the NFL game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Indianapolis Colts on November 12, 2017, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN. (Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

PITTSBURGH, PA – DECEMBER 10: Pittsburgh Steelers Running Back Le’Veon Bell (26) walks in before the game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers on December 10, 2017 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pa. (Photo by Mark Alberti/ Icon Sportswire)

PITTSBURGH, PA – DECEMBER 10: Pittsburgh Steelers Running Back Le’Veon Bell (26) looks on during the game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers on December 10, 2017 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pa. (Photo by Mark Alberti/ Icon Sportswire)

PITTSBURGH, PA – JANUARY 14: Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell (26) runs with the ball during the AFC Divisional Playoff game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Pittsburgh Steelers on January 14, 2018 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pa. (Photo by Mark Alberti/ Icon Sportswire)

PITTSBURGH, PA – JANUARY 14: Le’Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the first half of the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Heinz Field on January 14, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

ORLANDO, FL – JANUARY 28: Runningback Le’Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers of the AFC Team as he arrives to the NFL Pro Bowl Game at Camping World Stadium on January 28, 2018 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)



The Jets have the cap space (around $17 million) to take on Bell, but they would also have plenty of space (in the neighborhood of $90 million) to sign him as a free agent in March.

In Bell’s absence, the Steelers have gotten good production out of second-year back James Conner, who had 192 yards on 36 touches with two touchdowns in a Week 1 tie against the Cleveland Browns. He was held to 17 yards on the ground against the Chiefs, but scored a touchdown and added five catches for 48 yards.

In his five seasons in Pittsburgh, Bell has had at least 1,200 yards rushing and 600 receiving yards three times. He is a two-time first-team All-Pro and three-time Pro Bowler.

But his contract squabbles with the club have become an annual offseason ritual. After not signing under the franchise tag until Sept. 4 last season, Bell averaged fewer than 3.5 yards per carry through the first three weeks. But he finished 2017 with a league-high 321 carries for 1,291 yards along with 85 catches for 655 yards and 11 total touchdowns.

–Field Level Media

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