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Source — Colts make Moore highest-paid slot CB

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INDIANAPOLIS — The Colts signed cornerback Kenny Moore to an extension on Thursday.

Terms were not disclosed. A source confirmed to ESPN that Moore received a four-year contract extension that will make the cornerback the highest-paid slot cornerback in the NFL.

“Kenny personifies the characteristics that we look for in a Colt with his leadership, tenacity and work ethic,” Colts GM Chris Ballard said in a statement. “We are happy for Kenny and his family. He has done the right things and deserves this. We also appreciate the hard work by Buddy Baker and his team in getting this deal done.”

The Colts claimed Moore, an undrafted free agent out of Valdosta State in 2017, off waivers after he was released by the New England Patriots in September 2017.

Moore had 77 tackles, three interceptions and 1.5 sacks last season.

While lined up in the slot last season, Moore’s three interceptions were tied for first in the NFL, his 10.5 disrupted dropbacks were first and his 517 defensive snaps were seventh, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Colts general manager Chris Ballard has made it a priority to re-sign as many of the team’s core players as possible while limiting the number of outside free agents they sign.

The Colts have re-signed kicker Adam Vinatieri, offensive lineman Mark Glowinski, defensive lineman Margus Hunt, safety Clayton Geathers, cornerback Pierre Desir, punter Rigoberto Sanchez and long-snapper Luke Rhodes to go along with Moore.

NFL Network was the first to report the terms of Moore’s deal with the Colts.

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Vaughan Johnson, former Saints Pro Bowl linebacker, dies at 57

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METAIRIE, La. — Vaughan Johnson, a member of the New Orleans Saints‘ legendary “Dome Patrol” linebacking corps, died Thursday night at the age of 57 in North Carolina, according to Saints Hall of Fame general manager Ken Trahan.

The four-time Pro Bowler had been battling kidney disease for several years and lung failure most recently, according to Trahan’s report for CrescentCitySports.com.

Johnson began his career with the USFL’s Jacksonville Bulls from 1984-1985, before spending eight years with the Saints and one with the Philadelphia Eagles. Known as a punishing hitter, the 6-foot-3, 235-pounder finished his career with 669 tackles, 12 sacks and 11 forced fumbles.

Denver Broncos coach Vic Fangio, who was Johnson’s position coach in New Orleans, told ESPN’s Chris Mortensen: “He was a great teammate, loved by everyone. He was a ferocious hitter and great all around ILB. And feared by the RBs in the league when he played. Ask Roger Craig.”

Johnson is now the second member of the Dome Patrol to die at an early age, following Sam Mills, who died of intestinal cancer at the age of 45 in 2005.

Pro Football Hall of Famer Rickey Jackson and Pat Swilling were the other two members of the fierce foursome, which produced a combined 18 Pro Bowl selections among them. They made history in 1992 by all being selected to the Pro Bowl together.

“He was one of the best players and best people I ever played with,” Jackson told Crescent City Sports. “He was never fighting with anyone, the most generous guy I ever knew. He loved everybody. He was the greatest teammate I ever had. He would hit so hard. He was a great player and a great man. I am truly going to miss him. He was my brother. He was more than a teammate. He was my great friend for life.”

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Jets’ Le’Veon Bell returns from flu with season-high 87 yards

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BALTIMORE — Five nights after famously rolling a 251, New York Jets running back Le’Veon Bell bowled through the Baltimore Ravens for a season-high 87 yards.

Coming off an eventful week that included a bout with the flu and a headline-making bowling party, Bell showed flashes of his old form Thursday night, but it wasn’t enough to sustain the Jets, 42-21 losers at M&T Bank Stadium.

Bell lost close to 10 pounds before missing last week’s game, but he showed fresh legs with 21 carries against a sturdy defense on Thursday. It wasn’t his fault the Jets lost for the ninth time, clinching their fourth straight losing season — the franchise’s longest drought in the Super Bowl era.

The Jets (5-9) were undermined by two turnovers by quarterback Sam Darnold and an inability to contain Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, who threw five touchdowns and rushed for 86 yards in a performance that likely clinched the NFL MVP award.

With six starters inactive due to injuries, the Jets’ plan was to lean on Bell, who missed last Sunday’s game because of his illness. His absence became a bigger story when word got out that Bell had gone bowling on the eve of the game — only hours after being ruled out of the game.

Coach Adam Gase wasn’t happy that Bell was out instead of resting at home, but Bell laughed it off, noting he didn’t break any team rules. Adding levity to the story, Bell bragged that he bowled a career-high 251 “off the flu.” Video of Bell’s flu-game boast went viral.

Bell could’ve helped the Jets in one of the game’s pivotal moments — a fourth-and-1 from the Ravens’ 7 in the second quarter — but the $53 million running back didn’t get the call. Curiously, Gase called a pass play, and Darnold threw incomplete to a well-covered Robby Anderson in the end zone.

The Jets followed up that blown opportunity with another. On their next possession, with the ball at the Baltimore 25, Darnold was intercepted by safety Chuck Clark. The Jets missed a chance to slice a 21-7 deficit. They never really threatened again, as the Ravens pulled away in the third quarter.

It was an uneven night for Darnold (18-for-32, 218 yards), who came out strong with the first of two touchdown passes to wide receiver Jamison Crowder but eventually was rattled by the Baltimore blitz. In addition to his costly interception, he fumbled on a strip sack.

Darnold has 14 turnovers (12 interceptions, two lost fumbles), which ranks ninth among quarterbacks. He also missed three games due to mononucleosis.

In the offseason, the Jets expected the Darnold-Bell tandem to elevate the offense from mediocrity, but they have scored more than 24 points just three times.

This has been a frustrating season for Bell, who entered the game with a career-low 3.2 yards per carry. He doesn’t believe it’s his fault, claiming this week he has been the victim of circumstances — a patchwork offensive line and a lack of opportunities. He claimed he’ll “be back to what people are used to seeing” once he gets a full workload.

Bell began the night with 143 rushes, 14th in the NFL. His previous single-game high with the Jets was 70 yards.

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Rams’ Todd Gurley stiff-arms QB Jared Goff’s compliment

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THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — Last week, Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley let his head coach shoulder the blame. This week, it’s his quarterback who intended to deliver a compliment, but perhaps didn’t find the right words.

“Sounds like I suck and then I made a good play,” Gurley said, straight faced with a shrug. “So, yeah, I guess so.”

Gurley, who has seen his workload increase in three of the Rams’ last four games, was referring to a stiff-arm touchdown run in which he battled Seattle cornerback Tre Flowers in a 28-12 victory over the Seahawks that caught the attention of quarterback Jared Goff.

So much so, that Goff stood at the podium after the win and lit up when asked about it. “He’s a bad dude,” Goff said. “It was vintage Todd.”

Vintage? Gurley didn’t think so … and made it known Thursday.

Against the Seahawks, Gurley rushed for 79 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries and caught four passes for 34 yards. And that stiff arm? Nothing special. “Not my first time stiff arming nobody,” Gurley said. “Just a regular stiff arm.”

The Rams are 8-5 and chasing the Minnesota Vikings for the final wild card berth. On Sunday, they play the NFC East-leading Dallas Cowboys (6-7) at AT&T Stadium.

Gurley has played an increased role in the offense and indications point to the trend continuing Sunday.

“The approach for us is that Todd is a big-time player,” Rams coach Sean McVay said. “He’s shown that he’s feeling good and when he’s doing those kind of things — whether it be through the pass game, through the run game — good things seem to happen for the Rams.”

After averaging 14.9 touches per game through the first 10 weeks, Gurley’s touches have increased to an average of 21 over the last four games.

When asked Thursday how he felt at this point of the season, compared to last season, Gurley responded, “It’s Week 15 in the league, ain’t nobody feeling rested. It’s Week 15, no one in this league is feeling well rested.”

Gurley had a season-best 28 touches in a Week 11 win over the Chicago Bears. In a Week 13 blowout over the Arizona Cardinals, he had 20 touches and last Sunday when the Rams defeated the Seahawks, he had 27.

McVay recently shouldered the blame for not giving Gurley more opportunity early in the season.

“Me not being an idiot,” McVay said last week, when asked what caused him to get the ball to Gurley more.

Gurley offered no alternative to McVay’s explanation.

“He said it, I didn’t,” Gurley said, chuckling. “That’s all I got to say. I don’t have anything else to say.”

The Rams offense has appeared to benefit from Gurley’s increased production, as Goff broke a month-long touchdown drought to pass for four touchdowns in the last two games.

Gurley was asked Thursday if the offense and other teammates benefitted when he was in rhythm.

“I feel like we all feed off of each other. I don’t really have to explain too much, you see the results over the last couple of years,” said Gurley, who rushed for more than 1,200 yards in each of the last two seasons, as the Rams won back-to-back division titles and last season advanced to Super Bowl LIII. “When we’re running the ball, stuff is going well, stuff is opening up – so it’s like, it’s not too much really to explain, just got to go out there and do it, whether it’s in the passing game or the running game.”

Gurley has rushed for 721 yards and nine touchdowns on 177 carries in 12 games this season. He also has caught 26 passes for 168 yards and a touchdown.

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