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Cleveland Browns RB Kareem Hunt out ‘several weeks’ with calf injury

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Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt is expected to miss “several weeks” with a calf injury, coach Kevin Stefanski said Monday.

Hunt suffered the injury Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals. He had to be helped off the field, then was carted to the locker room. Hunt is expected to go on injured reserve, which means he will miss a minimum of three games.

“Hopefully not much longer than that, but we will see,” a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Hunt started Sunday’s game in place of Pro Bowl running back Nick Chubb, who was out with a calf injury.

Stefanski said he’s “not ruling out” Chubb from playing Thursday against the Denver Broncos.

“He’s progressing,” Stefanski said.

Hunt, the 2017 NFL rushing champ, has 361 rushing yards and five touchdowns this season while averaging 5.2 yards per carry. He also has 20 receptions for 161 yards.

If Chubb is out for Thursday’s game, the Browns will likely have to lean on D’Ernest Johnson and rookie Demetric Felton at running back.

In addition to Hunt, Stefanski said that rookie linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah would be out weeks as well with an ankle injury he suffered Sunday. Owusu-Koramoah, a second-round pick out of Notre Dame who’s been a starter all season, had eight tackles against the Cardinals.

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Jacksonville Jaguars coach Urban Meyer not interested in leaving NFL for college football jobs, source says

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer has no interest in taking another head coaching job in college and remains committed to rebuilding the Jaguars, per a league source familiar with Meyer’s thinking.

The source said the 57-year-old Meyer does not want to re-enter the college ranks at this point in his life. College football has changed significantly with the implementation of Name Image Likeness rules, which were not in place when Meyer was coaching his final season at Ohio State (2018).

Meyer’s name has been linked to the opening at Notre Dame, in large part to the fact he previously called that his “dream job” and was courted by Notre Dame in 2005 along with Florida.

The Notre Dame job came open on Monday after LSU hired Brian Kelly, who led the Fighting Irish to a 113-40 record over the past 11 seasons.

It’s not the first time this season that Meyer has been linked to an open college job. One day after USC fired Clay Helton in September Meyer said there was “no chance” that he’d leave the NFL to become the Trojans’ head coach. The school filled that vacancy on Monday by hiring Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley.

Meyer also had said in early September that he didn’t miss the rigors of recruiting.

Meyer is in his first season with the Jaguars (2-9), who have lost three games in a row heading into Sunday’s game at the Los Angeles Rams (7-4). The Jaguars, despite drafting quarterback Trevor Lawrence first overall, have struggled on offense all season. Injuries at receiver and tight end have hurt Lawrence’s development and the Jaguars are averaging 15.7 points, which is worse than every team except the Houston Texans (14.9).

Meyer won three national championships and had a 187-32 college coaching record during stints at Bowling Green, Utah, Florida and Ohio State. He won two of those titles (2006, 2008) with the Gators, whom he led to a 65-15 record in six seasons. He also led the Buckeyes to the 2014 national title and had an 83-9 record in seven seasons in Columbus, Ohio.

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Washington kicker Joey Slye out at last three weeks because of hamstring injury, says Ron Rivera

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ASHBURN, Va. — The Washington Football Team will need to find another kicker. Again.

Coach Ron Rivera said Tuesday morning during his weekly appearance on 106.7 The Fan that placekicker Joey Slye will miss at least three weeks because of a hamstring injury suffered in Monday’s 17-15 win over the Seattle Seahawks.

That means Washington will need to sign its fourth kicker of the season. It released Dustin Hopkins on Oct. 21; the veteran kicker had missed two field goals and two extra points in the first six games. But his replacement, Chris Blewitt, had three kicks blocked in his two games — all because of a low trajectory. His signing was a big gamble because Blewitt had not kicked since 2016 while at the University of Pittsburgh.

But Slye had steadied the kicking duties. In his first two games, Slye had made all five of his field goal attempts as well as all five extra points. He made one field goal Monday night. But he had an extra-point attempt late in the first half blocked. While in pursuit of Rasheem Green, who blocked the kick and was running with the ball, Slye shot to the ground.

He injured the hamstring on his left leg, also his plant leg. He’ll likely be placed on injured reserve, which means Slye would be unable to return until a Week 17 game at Dallas.

Without Slye, Washington could not kick a field goal or extra point in the second half. Punter Tress Way was the emergency kicker, but it also meant having a new holder in quarterback Kyle Allen. Washington converted a 2-point try in the second half for a 17-9 lead that turned out to be the difference in the game. It eschewed a 21-yard field goal late in the game and had a touchdown pass overturned on replay.

Washington is still awaiting news on running back J.D. McKissic, who was carted off the field late in the game. Quarterback Taylor Heinicke said McKissic was up and walking around in the locker room after the game. His agent, Doug Hendrickson, tweeted after the game that McKissic “is all good.”

Center Wes Schweitzer injured an ankle and slowly limped off the field. Schweitzer, usually a backup guard, was starting at center because of injuries to two others. His status also hasn’t been updated.



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Why the NFL in 2021 feels more balanced — and unpredictable — than ever before

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Minnesota Vikings are like a lot of NFL teams in 2021 in that their game days have been stressful. They’ve just taken it to an extreme.

The Vikings beat the Seattle Seahawks 30-17 in Week 3, but their other 10 games have been settled by one score, with many of those coming down to one play determining the result.

“That’s the NFL, and that’s kind of how it is,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said with a shrug. “We had several games come down to one play.”

The NFL’s other 31 teams haven’t had it quite like the Vikings but can relate. Consider:

  • Twenty-five games this season have been decided on the final play, the most through 12 weeks since the 1970 merger.

  • Thirty-five games have had the winning score come in the final minute of regulation or overtime, the fourth most through 12 weeks since 1970.

So while the Vikings might be ground zero for close games determined by one play, they’re not alone.

The race for this year’s Super Bowl championship seems as open as ever. Through 12 weeks, nine teams had Super Bowl odds at 13-1 or shorter, matching the most teams with odds that short in the past six years.

“The league is always meant to have teams that [are] pretty equal,” Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said. The Cardinals beat the Vikings 34-33 in Week 2 when Minnesota missed a 37-yard field goal attempt on the final play.

“They don’t want teams running away with this thing. They want competition; they want teams to battle down to the end. … To see the league pretty much even, I’m not surprised by that. That’s the way they want it. That’s the way it should be. And it keeps everyone grinding, and that makes it fun.”

In the first two weeks of the season, the Kansas City Chiefs experienced the full spectrum of close-game emotions.

They rallied from nine points down in the fourth quarter to beat the Cleveland Browns 33-29 but only after intercepting a pass to kill a Browns drive late in the game.

The next week they led the Baltimore Ravens by 11 points in the fourth quarter and lost 36-35 but only after a late Chiefs fumble killed a potential game-winning drive in the final moments.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid said no lead is ever safe, but he said he feels that way more than ever this year.

“The league has strived like crazy for the last how-many-ever years for parity,” Reid said. “I’m just looking at the way this season has gone for different teams, and it seems to me that there’s a tremendous amount of parity in the league. Every given weekend, every town, every city, in the NFL has an opportunity to win a game.

“That’s a great thing. We’re in it for the competition, and there’s great competition.”

Unexpected results everywhere

The NFL also has had more than its normal share of lopsided games this season. Thirty-five have been decided by 22 points or more, the second-highest total through 12 weeks since 1970.

But even the league’s better teams aren’t immune from getting blown out. The Cardinals have the league’s best record at 9-2, followed closely by the Green Bay Packers (9-3), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-3) and Ravens (8-3). The Cardinals lost a game by 24 points. Green Bay lost by 35. Baltimore lost by 24. The Bucs have two double-digit losses on their résumé.

Strange and unexpected results are everywhere, turning the standings upside down weekly. The Browns recently went through a 63-point swing from one week to the next, beating the Cincinnati Bengals by 25 points then losing by 38 to the New England Patriots.

The Dallas Cowboys one week trailed the Denver Broncos at one point by 30 points then beat the Atlanta Falcons the next week by 40.

There might be no better example of this season’s unpredictability than the Bengals. Five of their games have been decided by exactly three points (2-3 in those games). Their remaining six games have been decided by 14 points or more (5-1), including all four of their divisional matchups (3-1).

More than ever, it seems, taking a result for granted is trouble for just about any of the 32 teams.

“It’s a week-to-week [league], and you’ve got to come to play each and every week,” Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs said.

Diggs and the Bills, then 5-2, lost to the 1-6 Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 9 in one of the season’s biggest upsets. Neither team scored a touchdown, and the Jaguars won 9-6 by kicking one more field goal than the Bills.

“You just can’t get comfortable,” Bills tackle Dion Dawkins said after the contest. “You have to stay hungry and everybody is going to give us their best ball. We’re in a position now that everybody is going to give us their best ball every week. Everybody’s coming for the Buffalo Bills.

“You have to go through the ups and downs of life in football and wins and losses to honestly feel that and understand that. It’s a kill or be killed world, and now that we know that everybody has their best effort against us, then we just know that we have to be at our best every time. We can never take our foot off of that gas pedal.”

No Goliaths

There’s more evidence the competition around the league is what the NFL is striving for. Betting underdogs have a 71-106-1 record straight up this season. That .402 winning percentage for teams that are supposed to lose would be the highest in a season since 2006.

There are no Goliath teams opponents wish to avoid in the playoffs for as long as possible. The defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers have rebounded from losing two straight games, but those defeats weren’t to top-level competition. One came to the New Orleans Saints and backup quarterback Trevor Siemian and the other to lowly Washington.

The Chiefs, who won 26 games in the past two regular seasons and represented the AFC in each of the previous two Super Bowls, have come back to the pack. They’re 7-4, and one of their losses, 27-3 to the Tennessee Titans in Week 7, was by the biggest losing margin since Patrick Mahomes became their quarterback in 2018.

Twelve of the 16 teams in the AFC are .500 or better, including all of the teams from the West and North divisions. That’s the most teams .500 or better in a single conference through Week 12 in NFL history. Leaguewide, 21 teams are at least within a game of .500, so the scramble for a division championship or a wild-card playoff berth might be as, well, wild as ever.

The Vikings are one of those 21 teams. They’re 5-6 overall and 4-6 in those games decided by one score.

The Vikings are among the many teams wondering what their record might be if they had just been better on all of the game-deciding plays.

“We were right there,” Minnesota center Garrett Bradbury said after that missed field goal cost the Vikings a win against the Cardinals in Week 2. “We’re going to do the things we need to correctionwise so when we’re in that position again — because we will be — we’re going to finish the game and come out on top.”

ESPN Stats & Information as well as NFL Nation reporters Courtney Cronin, Alaina Getzenberg and Josh Weinfuss contributed.

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