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Pittsburgh Steelers activate safety Minkah Fitzpatrick from COVID-19 list

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PITTSBURGH — At least one significant piece is returning to the Pittsburgh Steelers defense ahead of Sunday’s AFC North matchup at the Cincinnati Bengals.

The team activated safety Minkah Fitzpatrick off the reserve/COVID-19 list Thursday morning.

“He looks like he’s 100 percent out there to me,” defensive coordinator Keith Butler said. “He’ll practice today and see how he feels, stuff like that.”

Fitzpatrick tested positive for the virus Nov. 15 and was activated to the active roster after a mandated 10-day stay in COVID-19 protocols.

Without Fitzpatrick — and two other significant contributors in pass-rusher T.J. Watt and cornerback Joe Haden — the Steelers’ defense struggled to keep the high-powered Los Angeles Chargers‘ offense in check. In Fitzpatrick’s absence, rookie safety Tre Norwood wound up playing every snap.

Fitzpatrick isn’t the only defensive player the Steelers hope to have back against the Bengals. Watt, who injured his hip and knee in a fourth-quarter sack against the Detroit Lions, returned to practice Wednesday as a limited participant. Watt missed the first meeting against the Bengals after sustaining a groin injury a week earlier, and fellow outside linebacker Alex Highsmith also was out of that game with a groin injury of his own.

Haden, who suffered a mid-foot sprain in the same game, didn’t practice Wednesday, but coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday he anticipated his return to practice sometime this week, too.

“I’m real happy about it,” Butler said of getting Fitzpatrick back. “And the possibility of getting the other guys back, too, that always helps. Last time we played them we were down a couple people.

“Having those guys come back and being able to play means a lot to us, means a lot to everybody that’s out there on the field. They’re used to playing with each other. It will be better for us, no doubt.”

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Las Vegas Raiders RB Kenyan Drake to have season-ending ankle surgery

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HENDERSON, Nev. — Las Vegas Raiders running back Kenyan Drake will travel “in a few days” to undergo season-ending surgery on his broken right ankle in Birmingham, Alabama, Raiders interim coach Rich Bisaccia said Monday in his weekly news conference.

Drake, who was carted off the field after being tackled and twisted down awkwardly from behind by Washington’s Daniel Wise midway through the second quarter of the Raiders’ 17-15 loss, took to Twitter Sunday night to say that the tackle that injured him “should be an illegal form of tackling like a horse collar.”

Bisaccia said Monday that Drake was frustrated since he suffered a similar injury last season, when he had a high right ankle sprain in Week 7 while playing for the Arizona Cardinals against the Seattle Seahawks. He missed one game with that injury.

“When you look at the play on tape, it did not look intentional,” Bisaccia said. “I think he got himself in a funky body position at the end, when he went to finish … the guy kind of rolled him over, got his ankle caught underneath there.

“Certainly, it ended up being a roll-up position at the end.”

Drake, 27, signed a two-year free-agent contract worth $14.5 million with $11 million guaranteed with the Raiders this offseason. A versatile change-of pace back to complement starter Josh Jacobs, Drake rushed for 254 yards and two touchdowns on 63 carries and caught 29 passes for 283 yards and a TD. He also returned 10 kickoffs for 192 yards for the Raiders.

The Raiders have also lost fullback Alec Ingold for the season with a torn ACL in his right knee and backup running back Jalen Richard was placed on the COVID list the morning of the Washington game.



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Los Angeles Chargers put leading WR Keenan Allen on reserve/COVID-19 list

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Los Angeles Chargers leading receiver Keenan Allen was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday, putting his availability for Sunday’s game against the New York Giants in doubt.

Allen was one of 11 players placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list by teams on Monday. All were the result of positive tests, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports.

Allen, who has been selected to the Pro Bowl each of the past four seasons, leads the Chargers with 929 receiving yards this season and has four touchdown receptions.

If Allen is vaccinated, he will need two negative tests 24 hours apart and be asymptomatic for 48 hours before he can return. If he is unvaccinated, Allen will have to stay away from the team for a minimum of 10 days.

The Chargers improved to 7-5 with their 41-22 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals, a game in which Allen had two touchdown receptions.

Los Angeles is currently in second place in the AFC West standings.

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Cleveland Browns star defensive end Bill Glass dead at 86

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CLEVELAND — Bill Glass, a four-time Pro Bowl defensive end with Cleveland and member of the Browns’ 1964 NFL championship team, has died. He was 86.

The Browns said Glass died Sunday night surrounded by family at his home in Waxahachie, Texas. The cause of death was not immediately known.

Glass spent seven seasons with the Browns, who acquired him from the Detroit Lions as part of the trade involving quarterback Milt Plum.

An All-American offensive guard at Baylor, Glass switched to defense when he began his pro career in 1957 with the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League. A year later he joined the Lions, who had drafted him with the No. 12 overall pick.

Glass spent four seasons with Detroit before going to Cleveland, where he became a star. He was credited with 16½ sacks in 1965, back when they were not recognized as an official stat by the league.

Glass finished with 87½ sacks, getting 77½ in his seven seasons with the Browns. He retired after the 1968 season and was inducted into the Browns Legends program in 2007.

After he retired, Glass, who was born in Texarkana, Texas, started his own ministry, Bill Glass Behind the Walls, working extensively with helping reform prisoners.

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