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Kansas City Chiefs hope pass-rusher Melvin Ingram ready to play on Sunday

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs, next to last in the NFL with 11 sacks, can’t afford to wait any longer than necessary for Melvin Ingram‘s help.

They might not have to wait long. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo held out hope that Ingram, acquired on Tuesday from the Pittsburgh Steelers, could play on Sunday against the Green Bay Packers at Arrowhead Stadium.

“It always takes a little bit [of time] when you bring somebody in midstream,” Spagnuolo said. “We’ll see where he’s at at the end of the week and then we’ll have to make a decision. … I think there’s always a chance.”

The Chiefs were interested in signing Ingram during the offseason when he was a free agent, but he joined the Steelers instead. With the Chiefs’ pass rush faltering and Ingram expendable in Pittsburgh, Kansas City made the move for the veteran defensive end shortly before Tuesday’s trade deadline.

Ingram seemed amused by the comment from Steelers coach Mike Tomlin after the trade that he preferred volunteers to hostages, a reference to Ingram wanting the Steelers to move him elsewhere.

“I never felt like a hostage,” Ingram said. “I don’t know what he means. The situation was kind of different. I don’t want to tell a lie. It was kind of different. It wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. It was a dope situation. I respect all those guys. I respect Coach Tomlin, all the coaches. I respect all the players. It was definitely a blessing to be with those guys.”

Ingram wouldn’t say how the situation with the Steelers was different from his expectations. He did say he was happy to join the Chiefs, a team he is familiar with. Ingram played against the Chiefs twice each season in his first nine NFL seasons as a member of the Chargers.

“Great offense,” he said of the Chiefs. “Great offense with a lot of weapons. They’ve got so many weapons. It’s dope just to be on this side of it and see that everything you were thinking was really true.”

Ingram will wear No. 24 for the Chiefs; he wore No. 8 with the Steelers. He said both numbers are a tribute to the late Kobe Bryant.

“I started off with a Kobe mentality from the beginning of the year,” Ingram said. “It’s just a never-stop, never-give-up, keep-grinding type [of] mentality … Coming here, I just wanted to keep the same mentality, really.”

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Teddy Bridgewater shows ‘toughness’ in return from injury as Broncos beat Chargers

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DENVER — When Denver Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater limped back into the huddle Sunday with a lower right leg injury, he helped the Broncos stay in the AFC’s jumbled playoff race.

So much so that the Broncos, now 6-5 after a 28-14 win over the Los Angeles Chargers in Empower Field at Mile High, will face the Kansas City Chiefs next Sunday night in Arrowhead Stadium with a chance to move into first place in the AFC West.

“When you win it doesn’t really matter what you’re going through, you feel good,” Bridgewater said. ” … We’ll see how I feel in the morning.”

“Teddy’s toughness is unquestioned when you talk about him and I didn’t question it in the big picture,” said Broncos coach Vic Fangio. “And like I said, some have you have asked me, he’s our quarterback and it’s as simple as that.”

Bridgewater will be evaluated more Monday morning.

Bridgewater, who had come under criticism after the Broncos’ Nov. 14 loss to the Philadelphia when he didn’t attempt to tackle Eagles cornerback Darius Slay on a fumble return for a touchdown, finished 11-of-18 passing for 129 yards and a touchdown Sunday. But it wasn’t the rather pedestrian-looking numbers that continue to endear Bridgewater to his teammates, it’s what they see as his burning desire to help them win.

After the loss to the Eagles, Bridgewater’s teammates vigorously supported him, as well as Fangio, as many cited Bridgewater’s severe leg injury in 2016 — Bridgewater’s surgeon later publicly said the damage was so severe amputation was a concern — as proof of his toughness to return to play.

Bridgewater suffered the injury Sunday when he was sacked by Chargers’ safety Derwin James Jr. with 2 minutes, 13 seconds remaining in the first quarter. Bridgewater limped to the sideline, was examined by the team’s medical staff and taken for an X-ray.

“[It] swells up real quick … he had to take some tests to make sure nothing was happening underneath it,” Fangio said. ” … He toughed it out, he was nowhere near 100 percent in that second half, but he toughed it out and led the offense.”

“I still don’t really know what happened, I just know Derwin kind of got me from behind,” Bridgewater said. ” … I’ll watch it [Monday].”

Drew Lock finished out the first half, as the Broncos finished out the drive Bridgewater was injured with a touchdown eight plays later. But Lock was sacked once and threw an interception in his limited duty that led to the Chargers’ first touchdown.

Asked if it would have made it easier to leave Lock in the game and play it safe on Bridgewater had Lock not throw the interception, into double coverage, Fangio simply said “no.”

Bridgewater returned in the second half and eventually led the Broncos on a 10-play, 80-yard touchdown drive that gave Denver a 21-7 lead with 8:54 to play in the game. He converted two key third downs on the drive — a third-and-7 to go with a third-and-10 — with completions to wide receiver Courtland Sutton and running back Javonte Williams, respectively.

Bridgewater did it in a game when the Broncos also lost two more starters in the offensive line – left tackle Calvin Anderson (left knee) and left guard Dalton Risner (back) leave the game with injuries. Anderson was already playing in place of Garett Bolles, who is on the COVID-19 reserve list.

By game’s end center Lloyd Cushenberry III was the only Week 1 starter in the offensive line who was in the lineup.

“We never question [Bridgewater’s] toughness,” tight end Eric Saubert said of Bridgewater. “That guy he does it all, he pushes through a lot and he’s done it all season.”

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Dolphins rookie Jaylen Waddle establishing himself as a No. 1 receiver – Miami Dolphins Blog

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MIAMI — Jaylen Waddle was the last Miami Dolphins player to enter the news conference room Sunday after the team’s 33-10 romp against the Carolina Panthers. He was fresh off a nine-catch, 137-yard performance — and he was dressed like it.

Waddle wore a black-and-white checkered hoodie with a red shirt underneath, white designer jeans with red splatter on them and a spotless pair of Nike Air Force 1 shoes. He even kept his black Ray-Ban sunglasses perched atop his nose; when you play like that, you can wear whatever you want.

The Dolphins rookie has cemented himself as the team’s No. 1 wide receiver during its current four-game winning streak, compiling 346 yards and a touchdown on 29 catches. He has 77 catches for 759 yards and four touchdowns, and is one of seven players in the NFL with more than 100 targets. He is on pace for 109 receptions, which would surpass the only other rookie in league history with 100 or more catches — Anquan Boldin — who had 101 in 2003 with the Arizona Cardinals.

“Preparation, practice,” Dolphins coach Brian Flores said of Waddle’s emergence. “I think we worked at it and worked at it and worked at it, and we’ve been able to string some good weeks together from a practice standpoint, and you’re seeing that show up in the game.”

Miami traded up to draft him at No. 6 overall in this year’s draft, in an effort to rekindle some of the chemistry that made Waddle and Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa a potent tandem at Alabama. While the early results were promising — Waddle was the team’s leading receiver entering Week 12 — Sunday’s victory felt like an official arrival, of sorts.

And it surprisingly came against the NFL’s best pass defense.

The Panthers had allowed 174.2 passing yards per game entering Week 12, playing more man coverage than all but three teams in the NFL. Tagovailoa picked them apart underneath, completing 23 of 24 passes of 10 or fewer air yards for 141 of his 230 total passing yards Sunday.

The second-year passer said it was Carolina’s coverage tendencies that made his efficient day possible.

“They played a lot of man, and when they did play zone, we tried to take advantage of in-cuts, crossers, things like that, so it’s really what we expected, and what they showed us out there,” he said.

The chemistry between Tagovailoa and Waddle has been striking.

Since Tagovailoa’s return from injured reserve in Week 6, Waddle is the NFL’s third-most targeted receiver and leads the league in receptions with 50. His 528 receiving yards in that span trail only Los Angeles Rams receiver Cooper Kupp‘s 618.

“Jaylen has just been in the right place at the right time,” Tagovailoa said. “There’s times where he gets covered and he is still open, so you take a look at one of the third downs that we had. I think it was 26. Donte Jackson covering him. It was really good coverage. [Jaylen] still got open.”

Tagovailoa is hesitant to attribute their effectiveness to their time together at Alabama — that was two years ago, after all. But their experience in college laid a foundation to make them successful at this level.

Waddle said Tagovailoa has grown as a player, which has inspired him to try to do the same each week. Initially known as a field-stretching vertical threat coming out of college, Waddle has worked to sharpen his entire route tree during this recent stretch.

“I work extremely hard not to just be known as a speed guy or a vertical threat. I’m just going to continue to try to go out there every week and show I can actually run routes and do things that people don’t expect me to do.”

The rookie has also broken out a new touchdown celebration during this win streak, in which he pins his arms to his sides, palms outstretched, and waddles like a penguin.

He said he used to be laughed at for it, particularly by Dolphins defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, who now does it with him.

Maybe those who thought Miami made a mistake by drafting Waddle instead of fellow receivers Ja’Marr Chase (Cincinnati Bengals) or DeVonta Smith (Philadelphia Eagles) can take a page from Wilkins’ book and hop on board, as well.



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Dallas Cowboys haven’t asked me to sit vs. New Orleans Saints

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FRISCO, Texas — Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott does not want to take a game off despite a bruised right knee.

“No one’s came to me and asked me to rest,” Elliott said Sunday as the Cowboys opened up preparation for Thursday’s game against the New Orleans Saints.

If they do, Elliott said he would listen.

“I’ve just got to go with what they believe is best for the team,” he said.

Elliott said he has been dealing with the injury since banging it in the Oct. 3 win against the Carolina Panthers.

A day after the Thanksgiving Day loss to the Las Vegas Raiders, coach Mike McCarthy expressed concern for Elliott’s health after Elliott had just 25 yards on nine carries. The running back has not topped 51 yards in his last four games, the lowest-output of his career.

“It’s that time of year,” McCarthy said. “Zeke’s running style is ferocious. He gives a pounding and he takes some hits. We need to evaluate that and this week we’ll see what the preparation looks like for him.”

A source told ESPN the Cowboys will consider providing Elliott some time off to heal, including the possibility of holding him out of Thursday’s game. The source does not believe placing Elliott on injured reserve is a consideration at this time. That would require him Elliott to miss at least three games.

The Cowboys have scaled back Elliott’s snaps in the last four games to help manage the injury. He has played 164 of 280 offensive snaps (58.5%) after playing in 379 of 451 snaps (84%) in the first seven games of the season.

Elliott has missed just one game in his career because of injury (calf strain last December vs. the San Francisco 49ers). He was held out of the season finales in 2016 and ’18 because the Cowboys’ playoff position was set, and he was suspended for six games in 2017.

“He’s the ultimate competitor,” right guard Zack Martin said. “We see it on a day in, day out basis and I think everyone is seeing it. He takes great pride in being there for his teammates and doing whatever he can in his power to help this team win. For me, he’s one of the top competitors I’ve been around, and he’s going to keep doing that.”

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