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Saints’ Sean Payton says he’s ‘doing well’ after testing positive for coronavirus



METAIRIE, La. — New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton said he was “cleared” Tuesday after he tested positive for the coronavirus last week.

Payton told WWL radio on Wednesday evening that he has not had a fever for eight or nine days after he first began feeling symptoms March 15 and took his test the next day.

“I’m doing well. I was cleared yesterday,” Payton said. “It’s been quite a process. You spend a lot of time trying to learn as much as you can about it. We’re certainly seeing it on the news 24/7.

“So I’ve been fortunate. You stay inside like everyone’s doing and you find ways to pass the time. We had a competition committee meeting the other day on teleconference. But I’m feeling a lot better. And unfortunately my appetite didn’t dissipate at all during that time. You know, you watch a lot of Netflix, then you go on to Twitter and you see everyone else is watching the same shows.”

Payton, 56, also continued to campaign passionately for other people to learn from his example and heed the advice of health and government officials to practice social and physical distancing so there isn’t a spike in cases that overwhelms the medical field.

“We try asking nicely and we trying saying, ‘Hey, look, this is the deal.’ And then you still see behavior that makes you upset,” Payton said. “Just picture everyone’s got a hand grenade on ’em — how about that? So stay away from everybody.

“We’re not invincible and every one of us certainly can catch this thing. Shoot, we’ve got politicians, athletes, you name it, they’ve caught it. Prince Charles caught it [Wednesday], right? So it doesn’t matter if you live in a castle or you live in an apartment.”

Payton acknowledged that he took some flak from people on social media for appearing in public at the Oaklawn race track in Hot Springs, Arkansas, on March 14, the day before he began feeling symptoms.

“My Twitter blows up. ‘Hey, what is he doing at the races?’ Hey, if I knew I had this, I wouldn’t have been at the racetrack two weeks ago. And the racetrack was closed; I was there in a small ownership group,” Payton said. “And then [people complained], ‘He got a test on Monday without symptoms.’ I had symptoms. I wasn’t gonna use a test if I didn’t have symptoms.”

Payton also spoke about the resilience of Southern Louisiana through some of the country’s most well-known crises over the past two decades, including the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and Hurricane Katrina.

“We’ve been through so much,” Payton said. “But we don’t just have to be tough, we’ve got to be smart now, too.”

Saints and New Orleans Pelicans owner Gayle Benson also offered an update on Payton’s condition earlier Wednesday in an interview with the Pelicans’ podcast.

“He’s talking about going to play golf, so he is getting better,” Benson said. “But he’s still quarantined, so he still has to kind of cool it. But he is getting better. I’m glad that he was able to stay home and take care of himself during this time.”

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Fresh off win, Ben Roethlisberger ‘just so excited’ to be leading Pittsburgh Steelers yet again



If Ben Roethlisberger had any jitters Monday night, the veteran shook them off in time for a vintage performance in the Pittsburgh Steelers‘ 26-16 victory against the New York Giants.

Playing for the first time in a year since the 2019 season-ending elbow injury sustained in Week 2, Roethlisberger completed 21 of 32 passes for 229 yards and 3 touchdowns – and an 11-yard keeper for a first down.

With his third touchdown pass of the night – and second to JuJu Smith-Schuster, Roethlisberger notched his 366 career touchdown, setting a franchise record and tying Eli Manning for eighth-most in NFL history.

“I am just so excited, I am just thankful,” Ben Roethlisberger told ESPN’s Maria Taylor in his postgame interview. “I told the guys in the locker room before the game that I’m back because of them. I don’t need to accomplish anything personally anymore. It’s about being with a defense that I think is as good as any I have ever played with, skill guys that are young and fun to play with and then, of course my line, who I love to death and they love me.

“They are the reason I came back to play.”

It wasn’t the most auspicious start for Roethlisberger, 38, when he threw up a lateral to James Conner under pressure for no gain, ending his first series back after three plays. But Roethlisberger slowly got into a rhythm, finding Smith-Schuster for an 11-yard gain on the next series. That gave the quarterback and his offense a little life as he went on to connect with rookie Chase Claypool on a 28-yard toe-tapping reception to convert a third-and-long. The Steelers had to settle for a field goal on that drive, but a quarter later, Roethlisberger found the end zone when he hit Smith-Schuster for a 10-yard touchdown, capitalizing on T.J. Watt‘s interception of Daniel Jones in Giants’ territory.

Roethlisberger looked most like his old self in an abbreviated two-minute drill just before halftime, leading the Steelers on an eight-play, 78-yard drive capped with touchdown throw to James Washington where the third-year wide receiver muscled his way into the end zone for the score. Just before that drive, Roethlisberger stood on the sideline between drives with a jacket transformed into a wrap for his surgically repaired elbow to keep him loose and warm.

After a scoreless third quarter, Roethlisberger got his team on the board yet again with a field-goal drive followed by a long 11-play, 75-yard drive finished with Smith-Schuster’s second touchdown to seal the victory on his return.

The veteran quarterback did it with a new-look offensive line, including an entirely different right side than the one he last played behind. Zach Banner won the right tackle job out of training camp, while Stefen Wisniewski replaced the injured David DeCastro at right guard. But both left late in the fourth quarter with a knee injury and pectoral injury, respectively.

The Steelers also finished the game without starting running back James Conner, who was ruled questionable to return with an ankle injury late in the fourth quarter, but didn’t play after early in the second.

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Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay — NFL’s mask warning ‘directed at me’



THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay says he’s likely responsible for the NFL memo sent Monday to reinforce that coaches must wear face coverings at all times on the sidelines during games, and threatening discipline for those who don’t comply.

“I figured that memo was directed at me,” McVay said Monday evening during a video conference with reporters.

On Sunday, during a season opening victory over the Dallas Cowboys in front of a Sunday Night Football television audience, McVay roamed the sideline with his mask mostly worn under his chin, a clear violation of the league’s coronavirus safety protocol.

“I’ve been getting blasted all day about it, so I just love it,” McVay said, a bit tongue-in-cheek, before continuing in a more serious tone. “I will do better.”

In contrast to McVay, Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy, when shown on the broadcast, appeared to wear his mask throughout the 2 hour, 56 minute game.

McVay says he’s uncertain if he’ll stick with a face mask or potentially wear a neck gaiter when the Rams play the Eagles in Philadelphia next Sunday. A face shield, like the one Kansas City coach Andy Reid wore in the Chiefs’ opener that fogged up, seems to be a non-starter for McVay.

“I was definitely one of the main culprits of not following what the league wants,” McVay said. “I will definitely be aware of that and do better.”

The league’s coronavirus safety protocol says that anyone with bench area access, excluding players, must wear masks on game day, and that the mask must fit securely across the nose and mouth to prevent transmission of COVID-19.

ESPN’s Kevin Seifert contributed to this article.

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Fantasy football waiver wire for NFL Week 2



We’re back! For those who are loyal readers of the ESPN Fantasy Football waiver-wire column, you may recall that yours truly has had the pleasure of writing this column for several years and looks forward to doing so again this season.

Here’s the drill: Every week we’ll review the players who are available in more than 50% of leagues who merit consideration as pickups for your roster. Keep this in mind: If you play in a 10-team league, the number of players who should be added is smaller than the number of players who should be added in a deeper league.

We’ll do our best to highlight these names each week to help you improve your roster right away.

So here they are, the Week 2 ESPN Fantasy waiver-wire pickups:

Malcolm Brown, RB, Los Angeles Rams (7.9%): While the Rams entered the season with enthusiasm about second-round rookie Cam Akers, it was Brown who shined in Week 1, as he carried 18 times for 79 yards and two touchdowns, adding a trio of catches for 31 yards for a standout night. Brown is a player the Rams have long valued — they matched an offer sheet he had signed with Detroit to retain him two years ago — and he earned a prominent role on Sunday as a result. He finished with one more carry than Akers and 2019 third-rounder Darrell Henderson Jr. combined and — importantly — was their best goal-line option.

Nyheim Hines, RB, Indianapolis Colts (34.4%): Coming into the season we knew Hines was bound for a role within the Indy offense given Philip Rivers’ propensity for targeting backs in the passing game. But Hines exceeded expectations early with a pair of touchdowns and now Marlon Mack could be out for the season. It’ll be the Jonathan Taylor show in Indy, but Hines’ role should remain quite steady.

Dallas Goedert, TE, Philadelphia Eagles (27.2%): The Eagles believe they have a star in the making in Goedert, who sailed past 100 receiving yards and a touchdown in Week 1. With the Eagles already dealing with wide receiver injuries, Goedert is bound to see his fair share of targets and has weekly top-10 tight end upside.

James Robinson, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars (29.1%): Robinson generated some steam late in the preseason after the Jaguars released Leonard Fournette and with Ryquell Armstead on the reserve/COVID-19 list. He debuted impressively by handling all 16 running back rushing attempts for the Jaguars in Week 1, posting 62 yards and adding one catch for 28 yards. The reservations on Robinson stem from whether Jacksonville will consistently be in tight games and whether Chris Thompson will interrupt his passing-game usage, but basically every starting running back is a worthwhile addition at this time of the year.

Parris Campbell, WR, Indianapolis Colts (29.8%): Just prior to Week 1 of the 2019 season, colleague Mike Clay suggested DJ Chark Jr. as a second-year wideout ready to shine that season. Campbell was Mike’s pick this year and the early returns make Clay look what extremely smart. Campbell posted nine targets in Week 1, tied for the team lead, hauling in six catches for 79 yards and 9 rushing yards as well. He’s an intriguing chess piece for Indy’s offense and a player who has his best football ahead of him.

Anthony Miller, WR, Chicago Bears (38.2%): The Bears have long been bullish on Miller as a player and he showed well in Week 1, leading the team with 76 receiving yards to go along with a touchdown. This is a talent play, as there’s a lot to like about Miller’s skill set and potential. While he doesn’t play in a major passing attack, we’re in lockstep with the Bears’ view of his talent and believe he deserves roster consideration.

Joshua Kelley, RB, Los Angeles Chargers (11.3%): Credit to Matthew Berry for all of his preseason love for Kelley, as he was one of the most common players on TMR’s roster in his 16 teams that he manages. Kelley got involved right away in his NFL debut to the tune of 12 carries for 60 yards and a touchdown. While some will question whether there is room each week for a second Chargers back in fantasy lineups if Austin Ekeler is going to post 19 carries (like he did in Week 1), I’d bypass that debate for now and instead focus on the quality talent of Kelley and stash him as a depth-level back.

Scotty Miller, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3.4%): Miller generated some preseason steam after positive comments from quarterback Tom Brady and had five catches for 73 yards in Week 1. While the Buccaneers have so many players on offense who could contribute in a given week, I think Miller piques my interest most among those eligible for the column … for now. The matchup in Week 2 against Carolina bodes well for a fun Sunday.

Adrian Peterson, RB, Detroit Lions (21.3%): I went back and forth on whether to include Peterson on this list, as while he had 14 carries for 93 yards and added three catches in his Detroit debut, the Lions have two backs I believe will be decidedly more involved in future weeks in D’Andre Swift and Kerryon Johnson. Peterson is a volume-dependent scorer, as he’s not a consistently dynamic pass-catcher (despite his contributions Sunday) with substantial upside in that aspect of the game. But if Detroit sticks with him as its lead toter, there’s going to be some value, particularly in non-PPR leagues.

Gardner Minshew II, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars (14.9%): There weren’t many quarterback performances that had me immediately reconsider the surefire starters coming into the season, but it’s always worth monitoring what’s available. Minshew completed 19 of 20 passes and threw for three touchdowns in an upset over the Colts. He’s such a fun player to watch and a useful one as well. Though Jacksonville won in Week 1 with Minshew throwing just 20 passes, we still expect a ton of volume and good rushing ability from the mustachioed quarterback to boot.

Joe Burrow, QB, Cincinnati Bengals (47.8%): I’m including Burrow on this list now because I sense he might soon be available in too few leagues to be on it going forward. His debut was fun and had some impressive moments, most notably a designed, 23-yard quarterback draw for a touchdown. Beautiful. Burrow’s passing day wasn’t one to write home about, per se, but he has a favorable matchup Thursday night against the Browns that could lead to a breakout fantasy day. If you have any questions about your starter and are already pressing for quarterback insurance, I’d snag Joey B. now.

Jerick McKinnon, RB, San Francisco 49ers (16.1%): It was just great to see McKinnon back on the field in Week 1 after two seasons lost to injury. Moreover, he scored a touchdown! McKinnon was clearly entrenched behind Raheem Mostert — who was terrific — and there are a lot of options in the San Francisco backfield, but he’s a name to keep in mind as a stash because of his special pass-catching skills. A deeper-league consideration.

Logan Thomas, TE, Washington Football Team (0.4%): I’m filing this Week 1 performance away: Thomas had eight targets, four catches for 37 yards and a touchdown. TMR has been convinced all preseason that Washington would get creative with Thomas (a former college quarterback) and Week 1 confirmed as such. If you’re potentially researching tight ends to roster, here’s a name we won’t discourage you from considering.

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