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Bucs’ Barrett up to record 8 sacks in 1st 3 games

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TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa Bay Buccaneers outside linebacker Shaq Barrett recorded 4.0 sacks against the New York Giants Sunday, bringing his three-game tally to 8.0, tying him with Mark Gastineau in 1984 for most by a player through the first three games of the season, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

“He’s just wearing out left tackles,” coach Bruce Arians said of Barrett, who recorded 3.0 sacks last week against the Carolina Panthers and in the Bucs’ locker room after the game, wore a headband that read “Can’t be stopped.”

“It’s just everything working perfectly — the playcalls, the guys in the back and the inside, the inside push, the push from the other edge [rusher] Carl [Nassib] — so everything’s just working and I’m just beating my one-on-ones at the right time and making a play,” said Barrett, who became the first player in Bucs history to record three or more sacks in back-to-back games. The last NFL player to do so was Ezekiel Ansah in 2017.

Barrett’s 4.0 sacks tied him with Marcus Jones in 1990 and Simeon Rice in 2003 for most sacks in a single game in franchise history and his two forced fumbles also tied a franchise record.

Barrett, who is in his first season with the Bucs after signing a one-year, $5 million deal in March, earned a $250,000 bonus for reaching 8.0 sacks for the season, a source told ESPN. If he records 10 sacks for the season, he’ll get an additional $250,000. The Bucs’ last-second, 32-31 loss overshadowed any personal victories.

“The disappointment has taken over all of it. It was a good game, but we lost,” Barrett said. “You can’t go to the playoffs if you have 4.0 sacks and lose a game. You’ve gotta get a win. Winning is all that matters.”

Barrett had just 14.0 sacks in his first four seasons combined with the Denver Broncos, including a career-low 3.0 sacks last season.

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Green Bay Packers sign veteran receiver Ryan Grant amid spate of injuries

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GREEN BAY, Wis. — With injuries piling up at receiver and production waning at tight end, the Green Bay Packers on Wednesday signed veteran wideout Ryan Grant and used of one of their injured reserve/designated to return spots on rookie tight end Jace Sternberger.

While Sternberger can’t play until after Week 8 per injured-reserve rules, the Packers might need Grant for this Sunday against one of his old teams, the Oakland Raiders.

Pro Bowl receiver Davante Adams is in danger of missing his third straight game because of turf toe, and Geronimo Allison left Monday night’s win over the Detroit Lions because of a head and chest injury.

The Packers worked out Grant on Oct. 7, less than two weeks after he was released by the Raiders.

A fifth-round pick in 2014 by the Washington Redskins, Grant has 123 career receptions for 1,333 yards and seven touchdowns in 80 career games (64 for the Redskins, 14 for the Colts in 2018 and two this season for the Raiders).

The Packers finished Monday’s game with fifth-round pick Marquez Valdes-Scantling and three former undrafted free agents — Allen Lazard, Jake Kumerow and Darrius Shepherd.

After Shepherd dropped a pass near the goal line that the Lions intercepted, quarterback Aaron Rodgers lobbied for Lazard, who responded with four catches for 65 yards and a touchdown — all in the fourth quarter. Previously, he had one career NFL catch.

“I’m just excited for where he could go,” LaFleur said of Lazard. “He’s got to now, anybody can do it one time, and that’s what we say. But now you’ve got to do it each and every time. that’s the expectation, and that’s the standard. But, again, he puts in the work, and he does a great job at practice. So I’m excited to see him put together back to back to back, and see where it goes.”

As for the tight end spot, Sternberger won’t be eligible to play until Nov. 3 at the Chargers but can begin practicing immediately. It leaves the Packers with just one more spot for a player eligible to come off injured reserve.

For now, it appears the Packers plan to stick with veteran Jimmy Graham despite a lack of production. Graham dropped a would-be touchdown against the Lions and ranks fourth on the team with 14 catches (including two games without a catch). Against the Lions, fellow veteran tight end Marcedes Lewis was more productive (two catches for 50 yards) than Graham (two for 17 yards).

“I still have total confidence in Jimmy,” LaFleur said. “And you know it’s one of those deals I just want to make sure that he knows that all of us, we believe in him. And Jimmy’s his own worst critic at times and he can get down on himself. But I think he’s going to be ready to battle back this week and come out and put a good performance together.”

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Browns GM John Dorsey reaffirms commitment to Freddie Kitchens, Baker Mayfield

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BEREA, Ohio — Cleveland Browns general manager John Dorsey reaffirmed his commitment to coach Freddie Kitchens and quarterback Baker Mayfield on Wednesday, despite the team’s disappointing 2-4 start heading into its bye week.

Dorsey drafted Mayfield with the No. 1 overall pick last year, then this offseason promoted Kitchens from interim offensive coordinator to head coach. After a promising 7-8-1 record last season, expectations ballooned for the Browns when Dorsey traded for star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. in the spring.

So far, though, the Browns have sputtered, and Sunday they blew a 20-6 lead to the Seattle Seahawks in a 32-28 loss.

Dorsey said that despite the record, he’s been encouraged with what he’s seen from Kitchens, especially the way the Browns played against Seattle coming off an embarrassing 31-3 loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football.

“I think the team has responded really well,” Dorsey said. “I like the offensive scheme that he’s kind of developed which was on [display] in the Seattle game, by putting [Mayfield] in a really good position to move those chains.

“I think Freddie has done a really good job. I love where he is right now in terms of that first-year heading label you all try to stick with him.”

Dorsey also declared that he remains “100%” convinced of Mayfield being Cleveland’s franchise quarterback of the future, despite a slow start in his second season.

After finishing second in the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year voting last year, Mayfield leads the league with 11 interceptions. He also ranks 33rd with a completion rate of 56.6% — way down from the 63.8% he posted last season.

“Mastering the quarterback position is very hard,” Dorsey said. “Right now, defensive coordinators are probably throwing different looks that he hasn’t seen. But Baker is one of those guys that he’s smart enough, he’s not going to make the same mistake twice. He’s learning from that.

“I like where he is. I like his competitiveness. I love everything about him — that hasn’t changed one bit, in terms of his competitiveness, his ability to throw the football. … I still think his balls are still accurate. Everybody keeps saying that there’s inaccuracy with his ball. I still think he throws a good football. … What I really like is his teammates like him.”

Dorsey was also effusive in his praise of Beckham, whom the Browns have had trouble getting the ball to at times. Despite the hype he arrived with, OBJ ranks just 31st in the NFL with 29 receptions and 16th with 436 receiving yards. He has only one touchdown grab.

Still, Dorsey noted that Beckham has impacted the Browns in ways other than pass catching.

“Is he a talented player? Yeah, he’s a talented football player,” Dorsey said. “If we can get the ball to him, we get the ball to him. But let’s don’t force it. Let’s win the game, that’s the objective.

“Odell is one of those guys who’s a selfless individual. I think he really does a nice job run blocking. I’m happy we have him.”

The Browns soon will add 2017 rushing champ Kareem Hunt to their offense. Hunt is serving an eight-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy and has been away from the team. Dorsey said that Hunt is “doing really well” and is ahead of schedule rehabilitating from sports hernia surgery.

“In a couple weeks he’s going to be back,” Dorsey said, “and I can’t wait to see him.”

Dorsey also hinted that the Browns might not be done upgrading the offense heading into the trade deadline later this month. Cleveland has been mentioned in connection with Washington All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams, who is holding out due to his unhappiness with the Redskins and would bolster an offensive line that Dorsey admitted needs to be “more consistent.”

Dorsey wasn’t very cryptic in expressing his interest. Asked if he’s spoken to Washington team president Bruce Allen, Dorsey said, “We’ve had a few conversations.” After Williams’ name was brought up, Dorsey said, “It takes two to tango.”

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‘Grateful’ Brock Osweiler says he’s retiring from NFL

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Free-agent quarterback Brock Osweiler says he is retiring from the NFL.

The former Denver Broncos, Houston Texans and Miami Dolphins quarterback told 9News in Denver in a telephone interview that he was “extremely grateful for the time I did receive playing in the National Football League.”

“The experiences I did have, people I did meet, relationships I did make — I’m not going to dwell on the things that didn’t happen in my career.

“Being a kid from Kalispell, Montana, playing for the Denver Broncos, winning a Super Bowl, having the opportunity to sign a second contract — when you look back on it, I couldn’t be more appreciative. It was great.”

Osweiler, who is 28, went 2-3 as a fill-in starter for the Dolphins last season when Ryan Tannehill was injured. He gave the fan base hope in a period dubbed “Brocktober,” which began with him throwing for a career-high 380 yards in an upset overtime victory against the Chicago Bears, but his play leveled off in the following games.

What Osweiler did do, however, is reestablish his career from disappointing starter to reliable backup quarterback. He signed a one-year, $880,000 contract with Miami and competed to make the roster as a backup. Despite a rough training camp, the Dolphins kept Osweiler as their No. 2 QB, and he kept them afloat when Tannehill got hurt early in the season.

In 2018, Osweiler completed 63.5 percent of his passes for 1,247 yards, 6 touchdowns and 4 interceptions.

Osweiler’s biggest NFL contribution came in a similar role. He went 5-2 as a starter in place of an injured Peyton Manning for the 2015 Denver Broncos, helping them earn the AFC’s top seed en route to a victory in Super Bowl 50.

“That 2015 season is something that is very special,” Osweiler told 9News. “The coaches, the players, they mean the world to me. I was thankful to have had the opportunity to play the role I did, but that was the ultimate team deal. There was a ton of talent on that football team, but I would say we were the closest of all teams in the National Football league. Our culture was beyond anything that can ever be created. It was so genuine, so real that I think any coach or player on that team would have done anything for anybody in that building that year.”

That season led to a $72 million contract with the Texans, who traded him to the Cleveland Browns after one difficult season as the Texans’ starter. The Browns then released Osweiler just before the 2017 season, when he was again picked up by the Broncos.

Osweiler, who played seven seasons in the NFL, was drafted by the Broncos in the second round (57th overall) of the 2012 draft.

“I have my health. I have the ring. There’s a lot of things I still wanted to accomplish. And I have a lot more left in the tank. But, hey, sometimes you don’t get that opportunity. And given that, it’s all good,” he told 9News.

ESPN’s Cameron Wolfe contributed to this report.

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