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Chiefs can’t wait to add Le’Veon Bell to a loaded offensive lineup – Kansas City Chiefs Blog

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COVID-19 protocols forced new Kansas City Chiefs running back Le’Veon Bell to watch his new team from afar Monday.

But Bell provided support over social media during the Chiefs’ 26-17 victory over the Buffalo Bills. At one point he simply tweeted “I can’t wait” and added a smiling face emoji with heart-shaped eyes.

The Chiefs feel much the same way about adding Bell to an already loaded offensive lineup that includes quarterback Patrick Mahomes, tight end Travis Kelce, wide receiver Tyreek Hill, running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire and others.

“He’s going to be another weapon,” Mahomes said. “He’s somebody who’s had tremendous success in this league for a long time now and he’s still in the prime of his career. He’s 28 years old, so he’s going to come in and make plays happen.

“Having him, Clyde, Darrel [Williams], Darwin [Thompson], all these guys that can come in and run the football and keep just going at the defense over and over again, it’ll open up the passing game and it’ll help me out a little bit, too.”

The Chiefs didn’t need Bell against the Bills. They ran 46 times for 245 yards, both being bests in their 7 1/2 seasons under coach Andy Reid. Edwards-Helaire ran for 161 yards.

Edwards-Helaire stands to lose some playing time to Bell, but if the Chiefs run anywhere near as much as they did against the Bills, there will be more than enough for both players.

Edwards-Helaire sounded ready to share.

“Another guy coming in, another piece to the puzzle,” he said of Bell. “I just feel like we can only go up. Le’Veon, the guy’s older than me. I’m still in my rookie year. So ultimately, anything I can do to pick his brain and gain any knowledge from him, I’m there for it.”

It will ultimately be the job of Reid, offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy and running backs coach Deland McCullough to decide how the playing time will be split. Reid indicated he didn’t consider the job to be a problem.

“We don’t turn away good players, and he’s a good one,” Reid said. “It’s exciting to have him around, and we’ll see how he does. He’s got to get in and get in the playbook and learn everything, but he’s a pretty smart kid and been doing it a long time, so I don’t think he’ll have a problem with that.

“I think if you talk to Clyde, Clyde will sleep well tonight, as I think the other backs will. To add one more guy, I don’t think any of them will complain there.”



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Robert Griffin III wonders if player ‘safety is actually being taken into account’ after gutsy matinee loss

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Baltimore Ravens players expressed frustration Wednesday over what has become one of the largest COVID-19 outbreaks in professional sports.

After their 19-14 loss to the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore players questioned a lack of preparation as well as some of the NFL’s decisions during a time when at least one Ravens player tested positive for 10 straight days.

“It’s not about whether or not guys want to play,” quarterback Robert Griffin III said after filling in for reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson, who tested positive last week. “It’s about whether or not our safety is actually being taken into account. I can’t say much more than that.”

The Ravens-Steelers game, which was originally scheduled for Thanksgiving night, was played six days later after three postponements. Baltimore was limited to walk-throughs on Monday and Tuesday after being shut out of its facility for five days.

Griffin described the socially distanced walk-throughs “abnormal” and indicated they weren’t run at full speed. He believes the lack of full practices contributed to his injury in the second quarter.

“I pulled a hamstring today,” Griffin said. “I’ve never pulled a hamstring in my life. You see guys going down left and right.”

Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith left with a groin injury in the second quarter. Defensive end Derek Wolfe, safety DeShon Elliott, offensive tackle D.J. Fluker and cornerback Marcus Peters all suffered injuries but returned.

Another issue that Ravens players had was with the decision to reopen the team facility. After two Baltimore players tested positive following an overtime loss to the Tennessee Titans on Nov. 22, the NFL closed the Ravens facility Monday morning before allowing players and coaches to reenter Monday afternoon. The facility remained open until Tuesday at noon. During that time, the Ravens held a walk-through with players wearing masks.

“I don’t know what comes with me saying this, but, of course, on Monday and Tuesday, we’re wondering, ‘Why were we allowed back in the building if we say everything is based off contact tracing and things like that, and that’s what’s told to us?,'” Ravens safety Chuck Clark said. “We’ve got to look at some of those things.”

Since Nov. 23, the Ravens have placed a total of 23 players on the reserve/COVID-19 list for either testing positive or being identified as a high-risk close contact. Baltimore has reduced that list to 17 players now, but it had to promote 10 players from the practice squad Wednesday to fill out a 48-man game-day roster.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh said it has been an emotional time for the team and everyone was transparent and honest in answering the players’ questions.

“I just feel like the league did their best. We did our best,” Harbaugh said. “We didn’t bat 1.000; nobody did. The league didn’t, nobody did. You can’t bat 1.000 against this thing. But I think our response, in terms of our effort, was a perfect effort.”

Asked if there was concern that any protocol violations would result in discipline from the league, Harbaugh said, “It’s not a time to take the accusatory stance; that’s not the position I would take. I’d take the position that our guys fought like crazy, and I’m proud of what they did.”

There were some players who experienced symptoms, but no one became seriously ill, according to Harbaugh. There were instances where players passed the coronavirus to family members, Griffin said.

“Those things don’t get reported,” Griffin said. “So, when people think, ‘Oh. Maybe they just don’t want to play. They just don’t want to do this.’ It’s not that — we love football. We want to play football, but we also want to make sure our families are safe.”

Jackson, who tested positive on Thanksgiving, will complete his 10-day quarantine Saturday. If he tests negative, he would be available to play in Tuesday night’s game against the Dallas Cowboys.

“He’s in good spirits,” said Ravens wide receiver Marquise Brown, who is Jackson’s close friend. “He told us to go out there and try to win this game. Just wishing for a speedy recovery for him.”

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Frustrated Mike Tomlin calls Pittsburgh Steelers’ effort in matinee win ‘really junior varsity’

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PITTSBURGH — Mike Tomlin’s assessment of the Pittsburgh Steelers‘ performance in the Wednesday matinee win against the Baltimore Ravens was blunt.

“It was really junior varsity, to be quite honest with you,” Tomlin said after the Steelers’ 19-14 victory. “It was in all three phases. We couldn’t run the ball effectively when we needed to. We dropped too many significant passes, very catchable, makeable passes. We didn’t make significant plays in the special teams game. Our kickoff coverage unit wasn’t good enough. We turned the ball over. We gave up big plays in critical moments on defense. Can’t have it.”

Tomlin continued, excoriating his undefeated team.

“[The Ravens] converted a long run on a possession down before the half,” he said. “Unacceptable. They had a 70-yard touchdown late in the game. Unacceptable. We’re fortunate tonight. It’s good to proceed with the victory. I acknowledge that. But not a lot happened tonight to be proud of or to be excited about other than that.”

The Steelers (11-0) put together a sloppy and error-riddled performance in the close win against their short-handed AFC North rival. The offense had five dropped passes, matching the most in the past 15 seasons — in 2019 versus the Rams and 2007 versus the Browns.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who had an interception in the end zone along with a touchdown, took the blame for the drops.

“I need to be more accurate with my passes,” Roethlisberger said. “I need to give them better chances to make the plays. There weren’t some plays made today when they needed to be.”

The Steelers were also ineffective in the red zone, especially in the first half. Three of their drops came in the red zone in the first half — the most of any team in an NFL game over the past three seasons.

They also failed to score a touchdown on their first three trips to the red zone, matching their most in a game this season. On the season, the Steelers entered the game scoring a touchdown on 69% of red zone drives, good for seventh in the NFL.

To explain his team’s failures in the red zone and the receiver drops, Tomlin offered a clipped explanation: “Us sucking.”

Tomlin refused to blame the poor performance on the roller-coaster week leading up to the game that saw three postponements and an unconventional 3:40 ET kickoff on a Wednesday afternoon.

“We make no excuses,” he said. “We seek no comfort. We didn’t play well, coach well tonight.”

Like his coach, wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster said his team played down to the Ravens (6-5), at a level the Steelers should’ve been above.

“We played like the JV,” Smith-Schuster said. “You know, we played down to their level. They came out with a JV squad and we were playing JV and we didn’t come out and execute and play the way we wanted to play. And as you could see, it was a close game, which shouldn’t have happened.”

The Steelers play again in just five days, taking on the Washington Football Team on Monday evening in a game rescheduled to accommodate Wednesday’s delayed contest. It’s a short week, but Tomlin said he believes that despite his frustrations, his team can turn it around.

“We don’t have to reinvent the wheel,” he said. “It’s not some transformational thing that needs to transpire. We got to coach better and play better when we get inside the bowl. I expect our group to do that Monday night, Monday evening, whenever it is that we play.”

At the end of his raw news conference, Tomlin was asked if he’s ever been more frustrated after a win. He stopped for a beat and pondered the question.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I know this one’s pretty frustrating.”

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Los Angeles Rams’ Jared Goff vows to do better after loss, criticism

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Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff appears to be taking in stride the rare public criticism coach Sean McVay delivered following a Week 12 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

“If he was lying I’d feel differently about it, he’s absolutely right,” Goff said Wednesday after practice. “I’m a big boy, I can handle it.”

In the immediate aftermath of a disappointing 23-20 loss to Rams’ division rival, McVay bluntly stated, “Our quarterback has got to take better care of the football.”

A day later, McVay acknowledged that his decision to call out Goff publicly — a departure from his typical move of assuming any blame — “was a little bit different,” but the coach added that his QB had “broad shoulders to be able to handle it.”

“We have a great relationship and I’m accountable for myself,” said Goff, who is in his fourth season with McVay.

Goff was 19 of 31 for 198 yards against the 49ers, who beat the Rams for a fourth straight time. He also had three turnovers, including two interceptions — one of which was returned 27 yards for a touchdown, and a lost fumble.

“I need to be better than that, I need to take care of the football and he’s absolutely right, and I will,” said Goff, who has four seasons remaining on a contract extension that guarantees $110 million. “I have done that for the majority of my football career and will continue to take care of the football better.”

Goff added that disappointment from the loss, the Rams’ first at SoFi Stadium, lingered long after the game.

“For the 24 hours after it, I was not in a happy place, for sure, really was disappointed in myself,” Goff said. “But you move on.”

The Rams are 7-4 and remain in the hunt to win the NFC West as they prepare to play the 6-5 Arizona Cardinals on Sunday at State Farm Stadium. The Rams are 6-0 against the Cardinals since McVay took over as coach in 2017.

This season, Goff has completed 67.2% of his passes (15th in the NFL) and has passed for 16 touchdowns (17th). Goff also has lost 14 turnovers (10 interceptions, four fumbles), which ties him with Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins for the second-most in the NFL. Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz has lost 18 turnovers, the most in the league.

Goff vowed Wednesday to eliminate his turnovers moving forward.

“I’ve always been confident, been able to overcome mistakes, but at the same time, I don’t want to keep sitting here and saying that I need to take care of the ball better,” Goff said. “I’ll just be smarter with it, make better decisions.”

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