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New Tennessee Titans running back Adrian Peterson ‘bringing juice’ at practice



NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Newly signed Adrian Peterson focused intensely on Tennessee Titans running backs coach Tony Dews as he prepared to take his rep during a blocking drill in his first padded practice. Dews held a pad and approached the line of scrimmage to simulate a blitzing linebacker as Peterson attempted to pick him up in pass protection.

“Don’t lunge,” Dews yelled to Peterson.

The 14-year veteran and future Hall of Famer nodded yes before quickly getting back into position to get another rep. This time, Peterson ran up on Dews so quickly that he stepped on his toe as he struck the blocking bag.

The energy and effort that Peterson has shown in a few practices have impressed his new teammates. That’s especially the case for a player with Peterson’s resume. It’s something that Peterson wanted to make sure he brought when he joined the Titans.

“Great energy,” Peterson said. “I felt it from the moment I got here. This team has been competing well. I was watching the game on Sunday and you see a group of guys doing whatever it takes to win games.”

Peterson said he attacked practice to make up for the time he has not been on the field. The Titans coaches had three defensive players from the practice squad hit him during drills on Thursday.

“He’s bringing juice,” wide receiver Chester Rogers said. “He’s been out for like 10 months. You can just see he’s eager to be out there. Even in walk-throughs, he’s been going full speed, 100 miles per hour. We’re excited to block for him, see him work, see him do his thing. Man, he’s a Hall of Famer, you know he’s got something left in the tank.”

Losing star running back Derrick Henry was a severe blow to the Titans in many ways. Henry’s effect on his teammates is something that isn’t measured in yards. Just watch the Titans’ sideline when Henry breaks off one of his signature runs. The whole team gets energized. The Titans will miss that from Henry.

Part of Tennessee’s plan to make up for Henry’s loss was to bring on Peterson, a player who once provided the same breathtaking blend of size, speed and power.

At 36 years old, Peterson isn’t the same home-run-hitting back that he once was. Stylistically, Peterson fits the Titans because he still brings a level of physicality that has become a trademark for Tennessee since Mike Vrabel and his staff took over in 2018.

The Titans will likely employ a committee approach to their running back group. That means Peterson will share carries with newly signed back D’Onta Foreman and Jeremy McNichols, who is also used in the passing game.

Even though he may not get the same volume of carries as he once did, Peterson still feels that he can make a difference on the football field.

“I’m in a good place,” Peterson said. “I feel like God has gifted me with incredible talent. I’m the type of individual that even when I’m at home, I’m dipping around the corner. I’m practicing at all times.”

Having a future Hall of Famer in the building and on the practice field is already impacting the Titans.

“I grew up watching and idolizing him,” wideout Nick Westbrook-Ikhine said. “I remember whenever they interviewed him or asked about his nickname — AD, All Day. I can remember saying that to myself. He’s a great presence; makes me want to elevate my game and kind of show him that I’m a great player, too. I’m sure other guys on the team feel the same way.”

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Curley Culp, Hall of Fame nose tackle for Kansas City Chiefs, Houston Oilers, dies at 75



KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Hall of Fame defensive lineman Curley Culp, who helped the Kansas City Chiefs win their first Super Bowl during a 14-year NFL career, died Saturday of complications from pancreatic cancer. He was 75.

Culp announced this month that he had been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. His wife, Collette Bloom Culp, announced “on behalf of our family and with a broken heart” the five-time All-Pro’s death.

“The entire Pro Football Hall of Fame family mourns the passing of Curley Culp. He was a wonderful man of great integrity who respected the game of football and how it applied to everyday life,” Hall of Fame president Jim Porter said. “Curley’s humility and grace were always apparent.”

Culp was considered one of the strongest players in the NFL during his playing career, though his position on the interior of the defensive line meant his play often went unnoticed. He was chosen to participate in six Pro Bowls, and he was second to Steelers cornerback Mel Blount for AP Defensive Player of the Year after the 1975 season.

It wasn’t until long after his playing days — Culp retired in 1981 — that he was inducted into the Hall of Fame. But after his enshrinement in 2013, Culp proudly wore the golden jacket of a Hall of Famer seemingly everywhere he went.

“Our team certainly lost a great one today,” Tennessee Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk said in a statement. “Curley was a game changer for our defense when he came to us in the trade with the Chiefs and was pivotal to our success during the Luv Ya Blue days. He rightfully earned a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and I was fortunate to spend some quality time with Curley and his wife Collette when we hosted the Oilers reunion this past September.

“They also brought two of their young grandchildren for that weekend and Curley’s love for those two was very obvious. He will forever be remembered as a ferocious nose tackle as a player and a Hall of Fame gentleman off the field.”

Culp learned to use his speed and leverage while at Arizona State. He was an All-American in football for the Sun Devils and, standing 6 feet and weighing about 265 pounds, won the heavyweight national championship in wrestling.

The Denver Broncos selected Culp in the second round of the 1968 draft with the idea of turning him into an offensive guard. But when it became clear that wasn’t going to work, they traded him to the Chiefs, where Hank Stram plugged him into the middle of a defensive line that ultimately would take Kansas City all the way to the Super Bowl.

“I guess I proved them wrong,” Culp told The Associated Press in a 2013 phone interview. “A little fireplug, that’s me.”

Culp was part of a defense that included fellow Hall of Famers Emmitt Thomas, Willie Lanier, Bobby Bell and Buck Buchanan. And in the fourth Super Bowl, that group shut down the Vikings’ vaunted run game in a 23-7 victory. Primarily a defensive tackle, Culp made the move to nose tackle during that Super Bowl win as the team successfully experimented with the 3-4 defense, which was relatively new to the NFL at the time.

“Curley represented the franchise with honor and respect both on and off the field,” Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt, whose father Lamar Hunt founded the team, said in a statement Saturday. “He was known as a fierce competitor and a difference maker who commanded a great deal of respect. His legacy will forever be remembered by Chiefs Kingdom. Our prayers are with his family at this time.”

Hall of Fame quarterback Len Dawson recalled Culp as “a tremendous athlete,” while Thomas called him “ornery as hell.”

Culp was traded to the Oilers in 1974, and he had arguably his best season the next year, thriving in Bum Phillips’ 3-4 scheme. Culp was released by the Oilers during the 1980 season and was picked up by the Detroit Lions. He finished out the 1980 season with the Lions before retiring after the 1981 season.

He would often show up for Chiefs games in later years, and he stayed in touch with many of his old teammates. He was inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame in 2008, less than two years after Lamar Hunt’s death.

Funeral arrangements were not immediately available.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers left guard Ali Marpet (abdomen) downgraded to out vs. Indianapolis Colts



INDIANAPOLIS — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be without starting left guard and arguably one of their best offensive linemen, Ali Marpet, when they face the Indianapolis Colts Sunday, the team announced.

Marpet, who sustained an abdominal injury in the second quarter of Monday night’s game against the New York Giants, was downgraded to out Saturday prior to the team’s departure for Indianapolis.

He was initially going to be a game-time decision, but was listed on Friday’s injury report as doubtful.

Marpet was replaced in the game by Aaron Stinnie, who filled in for Alex Cappa last year during the playoffs when Cappa suffered a broken leg in the wild-card game at Washington.

In 51 snaps against the Giants, Stinnie surrendered one sack, and last year, he surrendered only one sack in the postseason — in the NFC Championship game against Kenny Clark.

Marpet’s 74.6% run block win rate is the highest of any offensive lineman on the team, as is his 92.5% pass blocking win rate.

The Colts, meanwhile, have given up 19.5 points per game over the last six games — eighth-best in the league.

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Short-handed Pittsburgh Steelers will take on Cincinnati Bengals without cornerback Joe Haden



PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers placed two players on the injured reserve list Saturday, and downgraded another to out for Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Steelers ruled out cornerback Joe Haden, downgraded from questionable with a mid-foot sprain, and they put tight end Eric Ebron and center/guard J.C. Hassenauer on IR.

Ebron injured a knee last week against the Los Angeles Chargers, apparently during his fourth-quarter touchdown. He is expected to miss extended time with surgery, a source told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler earlier this week.

Ebron was a co-starter along with rookie tight end Pat Freiermuth. He has had a reduced role this season with just 12 catches for 84 yards and a receiving touchdown as well as a rushing TD.

Hassenauer, who was starting in place of guard Kevin Dotson, injured a pectoral muscle early in the loss to the Chargers. Tackle Joe Haeg replaced Hassenauer a week ago, but the Steelers are likely to turn to B.J. Finney, a veteran interior offensive lineman, to replace him in the long term.

With both Dotson and Hassenauer now on IR, the Steelers signed practice squad offensive lineman John Leglue to the active roster.

The team also elevated defensive lineman Daniel Archibong and wide receiver Anthony Miller ahead of Sunday’s game, and signed kicker Sam Sloman to the practice squad.

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