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Von Miller helps Los Angeles Rams now and in long term, GM Les Snead says

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THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — Los Angeles Rams general manager Les Snead said Tuesday the decision to acquire All-Pro outside linebacker Von Miller was made with the team’s immediate and long-term future in mind.

Snead stopped short, however, of saying that Miller’s acquisition signaled that the Rams are all-in to win a Super Bowl and instead emphasized that they’re trying to build a roster that can win many games.

“We’re actually looking at this from a standpoint of how soon can he help us, can he help us if we’re fortunate enough to continue going and make the 2021 tournament, how can he help us there,” Snead said. “And then there’s a long-term vision for Von as well.”

A day before Tuesday’s NFL trade deadline, the Rams acquired Miller from the Denver Broncos in exchange for a second- and third-round pick in the 2022 draft. The Broncos will pay $9 million of the $9.7 million Miller is owed for the remainder of the season, after which the 32-year-old is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent.

Broncos general manager George Paton said the trade “made sense for both sides,” adding that Denver wanted to do right by Miller by sending him to a team “right in the thick of it.”

“This was not easy,” Paton said. “This guy’s an icon. He can still rush the passer. … It’s a win-win — you have to make the best decision for your franchise moving forward and we just felt this was at this time.”

The Rams are 7-1, on pace to easily qualify for the playoffs and have built a roster that has Super Bowl expectations behind quarterback Matthew Stafford, who has ignited the offense after he was acquired in a blockbuster offseason trade.

Miller will star on a defense that is steadily improving under first-year coordinator Raheem Morris and one that leads the NFL with 25 sacks and already includes three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald, All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey and outside linebacker Leonard Floyd, a former first-round pick who has 6.5 sacks this season.

“Outside linebacker, very important in our defense especially someone who is or has a pedigree of affecting the passer like he has,” Snead said about Miller, who is the league’s active career sack leader with 110.5. “We did feel like that adding Von to that front seven mix would be a player that would stress the protection, stress the opponent, the one-on-one matchup.”

Snead said the opportunity to acquire Miller first arose last week, shortly after the Rams engaged with Paton in a trade that sent linebacker Kenny Young and a 2024 sixth-round pick to Denver.

“George reached out at the end of the week and we just couldn’t take on, based on what we’ve done in the past with our cap situation, just can’t take on Von Miller, so that’s when we discussed what it would take from each side, the variables that really could change, I don’t want to say non-negotiables, but they were almost facts,” Snead said. “I think as they were analyzing their situation, we were analyzing ours and we came up with what we felt like was something that was good for the Rams and the Broncos.”

Snead said the Rams were willing and have discussed with Miller’s representatives the possibility of a long-term contract.

As for the cost to acquire Miller on an expiring contract, Snead said despite the appearance that the Rams have few draft picks in 2022 (they own a third-round compensatory pick, a fifth-round pick and two seventh-round selections) that the team has factored in anticipated compensatory selections.

“We like to think we use our picks innovatively, maybe creatively,” Snead said. “We’re projected to get four more picks, four more compensatory picks based on the players that signed elsewhere last year, so we should have around eight total picks and we knew that.”

ESPN’s Jeff Legwold contributed to this report.

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New England Patriots throw just three passes, dominate on the ground in win over Buffalo Bills

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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Taking the ball out of rookie quarterback Mac Jones‘ hands in wind gusts over 40 miles per hour, and relying on their running game, the New England Patriots defeated the Buffalo Bills 14-10 at Highmark Stadium on Monday night to enter their bye week as the No. 1 seed in the AFC.

Overall, Jones was just 2-of-3 for 19 yards, while the Patriots ran for 222 yards on 46 carries.

The three passing attempts are the fewest ever in Patriots history, while the two completions match their fewest, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. The three pass attempts were the fewest by any team since the Bills attempted just two in Week 3 of the 1974 season (vs. the New York Jets).

The Patriots’ fewest pass attempts in a game was previously five, which came in the 1982 “Snow Plow” game against the Miami Dolphins in Foxborough, Massachusetts – a game played in a driving snowstorm that was scoreless in the fourth quarter when stadium worker Mark Henderson drove a tractor on to the field to clear a spot for the only field goal of the game.

The Patriots improve to 9-4, with the Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee Titans and Kansas City Chiefs all 8-4. The Bills, meanwhile, drop to 7-5 and their margin for error to win the AFC East has been thinned.

Jones threw just one pass in the first half — when the Patriots led 11-7 at the break — and completed it for 12 yards. The pass sailed high in the wind and tight end Jonnu Smith pulled it down.

That was the fewest first-half pass attempts by a team since at least 1978, which is as far back as data is available, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

The previous record was two, which happened three times, most recently by the Indianapolis Colts in Week 14 of 2017 — also in Buffalo, in snowy conditions.

Overall, Jones’ only other completion was a screen pass in the fourth quarter.

The only other games in Patriots history in which they completed just two passes came in December of 1982, and November of 1969 — both against the Miami Dolphins.

Their one passing first down tied for the second fewest in franchise history, and was their fewest since Dec. 4, 1983. The Pittsburgh Steelers were the last team in the NFL that won a game with one or fewer passing first downs, doing so in 2010 with Dennis Dixon as their quarterback.

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Potential No. 1 pick Kayvon Thibodeaux to declare for NFL draft, skip Oregon Ducks’ bowl game

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Star Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux is declaring for the NFL draft, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Monday.

Thibodeaux will not play in the Ducks’ bowl game, a matchup against No. 16 Oklahoma in the Valero Alamo Bowl on Dec. 29, and instead will start preparing for the draft, sources said.

ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. has Thibodeaux rated No. 1 overall in his latest Big Board. Fellow ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay has him as the No. 2-rated prospect in this year’s draft class.

The 6-foot-5 Thibodeaux was the Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year in 2019 and a first-team All-Pac-12 selection last year after arriving at Oregon as the No. 1-ranked player in the class of 2019. He played 10 games this season — an ankle injury slowed him up early — and finished with seven sacks and 49 total tackles.

Thibodeaux was also at the forefront of players’ ability to capitalize on their name, image and likeness. He signed a handful of deals, including one with Ebay, another with United Airlines and a six-figure memorabilia deal. He also released an NFT in partnership with Nike founder Phil Knight and sneaker designer Tinker Hatfield that sold for $100 per unit. In September, he launched his own cryptocurrency called $JREAM.

Thibodeaux’s early exit came on the same day Mario Cristobal left Oregon to take the head-coaching position at Miami.

Information from ESPN’s Paolo Uggetti was used in this report.

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New York Giants QB Daniel Jones (neck) unlikely to play vs. Los Angeles Chargers, sources say

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — After further visits with team doctors and specialists to have his neck injury evaluated, New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones is unlikely to play Sunday vs. the Los Angeles Chargers, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Jones missed Sunday’s loss to the Miami Dolphins. He was injured the previous week in a win over the Philadelphia Eagles. The Giants (4-8) remain hopeful he won’t miss much more time and will return this season.

Mike Glennon started in Jones’ place on Sunday, but was diagnosed with a concussion after the contest. That puts newly acquired quarterback Jake Fromm potentially in line to start against the Chargers. It only adds to questions about whether Jones has done enough in his first three professional seasons to convince the Giants — and potentially a new general manager — that he is a true franchise quarterback they should build around.

Fromm, a University of Georgia standout, was signed off the Buffalo Bills’ practice squad last week. He has never played in an NFL game and could be making his first start 11 days after joining the team.

“It’s the beauty of the NFL. It’s next man up. Jake is getting his opportunity,” said Giants left tackle Andrew Thomas, who was also his teammate at Georgia. “I’m excited for him to get his chance. But like I said, next man up, and we’re doing everything to help him.”

The Giants also have former Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke on their practice squad. He seems to have been immediately jumped by Fromm on the depth chart.

Judge said that Fromm would be next in line this week at practice with Jones and Glennon sidelined. The Giants might still add additional contingencies.

“We’re talking internally about a lot of options personnel-wise to see what we can do and build in depth for a multitude of reasons,” coach Joe Judge said.

Judge said after the game in Miami that Glennon would remain the starter if healthy while Jones remained sidelined. But Glennon’s status is in doubt and might not be decided until late this week.

He’s currently in the concussion protocol.

“The optimistic view would be to have [Glennon] ready for the game on Sunday,” Judge said during a Monday afternoon conference call from Arizona, where the Giants are practicing this week.

New York is also dealing with COVID-19 issues. Offensive lineman Wes Martin and quarterbacks coach Jerry Schuplinski tested positive on Monday, per Judge.

Martin was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday afternoon. Schuplinski was involved in meetings virtually throughout the day as the Giants try to get Fromm coached up quickly for a potential start.

Having Fromm start would provide some limitations.

“For a guy who has only been in your system for a couple days, you have to go ahead and select more of a menu what he can operate with in a game,” Judge said. “That is not always based on what he’s capable of with his ability, it’s just based on being new in a scheme and system and what he’s comfortable going out there and playing aggressively and making the right decisions within.”

Fromm has crammed hard since joining the Giants. He stayed after practice on Friday last week and did extra work with Jones there to provide input.

The fifth-round pick by the Buffalo Bills last year has made a positive first impression.

“He’s an intelligent guy. He’s demonstrated that already,” Judge said. “He has very good poise out there and he has a very good presence. Once thing that is very impressive about this guy is you talk to former teammates of his, like we did before he got in here, most of those Georgia guys, and every single one lit up and said we’d absolutely love to have that guy on the team.”

The bar won’t be especially high. The Giants failed to score a touchdown on Sunday in Miami. They have one touchdown in the two games since offensive coordinator Jason Garrett was fired.

Glennon went 23-of-44 for 187 yards with an interception against the Dolphins.

Jones has completed 64.3% of his passes for 2,428 yards with 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions this season.

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