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Allegheny Co. DA Stephen Zappala to Investigate Sexual Assault Claim Against Antonio Brown

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Allegheny County district attorney Stephen Zappala will investigate the sexual assault allegations levied against former Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown late Tuesday evening, according to WTAE.

Brown was accused in a federal lawsuit of raping and sexually assaulting his former colleague and trainer Britney Taylor.

The lawsuit alleges that during a trip Taylor made in June 2017 to one of Brown’s homes in the Pittsburgh area, Brown exposed himself to her and kissed her without consent.

It also alleges another instance of sexual assault and one instance of rape that occurred at one of Brown’s homes in South Florida. The federal lawsuit was filed in the Southern District of Florida.

Through his attorney and agent Drew Rosenhaus, Brown has denied the allegations and has accused Taylor of extortion.

During a press conference on Wednesday, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said that the team has investigated the situation and that Brown will be permitted to practice this week. His status for New England’s game against Miami this Sunday is up in the air.

“Both Antonio and his representatives have made statements and I’m not going to be expanding on any of those,” Belichick said. “They are what they are. We’ve looked into the situation. We’re taking it very seriously, all the way through the organization.”

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the NFL is planning a formal investigation and will speak with Taylor.

NFL

Around the NFL: The Browns’ Backs Pummel Bengals

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NFL

Welcome to Around the NFL, where Cale Berger of Steelers Now will recap early-week action and take a look ahead at some of the most important matchups from the Pittsburgh Steelers perspective.

THURSDAY NIGHT HIGHLIGHTS

Cleveland Browns 35, Cincinnati Bengals 30 

An AFC North rivalry kicked off Week Two on Thursday night, as the Cleveland Browns rode their power running game to a victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.

Running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt made their case as the league’s best rushing tandem, carrying for a combined 210 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. Hunt also caught a score. The Bengals, who had the worst rush defense in the league last year, had no answer for Cleveland one-two punch, which looks even better with the addition of fullback Andy Janovich this offseason.

Success in the running game led to play-action opportunities for quarterback Baker Mayfield, which he and his receivers took full advantage of. Mayfield finally got on the same page with wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., with the two connecting on a 43-yard score in the second quarter. Thursday showed that new head coach Kevin Stefanski’s system can work when the Browns are successful in the running game early and often.

The Browns defense battered quarterback Joe Burrow all night, sacking him three times and hitting on plenty more occasions. Still, Burrow was impressive in front of a national audience Thursday, remaining calm and collected under constant pressure from the ferocious Browns pass rush. He completed 37 of 61 passes for 316 yards and three touchdowns.

Cleveland will host Washington next, and Cincinnati will travels to Philadelphia for their second-straight road game.

AROUND THE NFL THIS WEEKEND

Los Angeles Rams at Philadelphia Eagles, 1 p.m. FOX regional

A week after allowing quarterback Carson Wentz to be sacked eight times by Washington, the Philadelphia Eagles will welcome the league’s most fearsome pass rusher to Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday when the Los Angeles Rams and defensive tackle Aaron Donald come to town.

Donald dominated the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Night Football last week, recording a sack, a tackle-for-loss and four quarterback hits. His success opened up rush lanes for his teammates as well, as the Rams had three sacks, three tackles-for-loss and six hits as a team.

Luckily for the Eagles, reinforcements are on the way. Not only will they return tackle Lane Johnson, but they will also get back starting running back Miles Sanders. Both will have to provide a major boost in pass protection for Philadelphia to get back to their winning ways.

Also, former Steelers defensive tackle Javon Hargrave will make his Philadelphia debut on Sunday as well after missing their season opener with both a pectoral and hamstring injury. He should provide a big boost to an Eagles defense that allowed two rushing touchdowns to Washington last week.

Washington at Arizona Cardinals, 4:05 p.m., WPGH-TV

Following the Steelers’ home opener against the Broncos, fans in the Pittsburgh area will be treated to a duel of young quarterbacks in the late afternoon slot when Washington visits the Arizona Cardinals. Both teams are also coming off upset victories over division rivals.

Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray earned Rookie of the Year honors in 2019 behind 3,722 passing yards and 24 total touchdowns. Murray was just as good kicking off 2020, posting 321 total yards and two touchdowns in Arizona’s shocking 24-20 win over San Francisco.

While his numbers may not be as eye-popping as Murray, Washington quarterback Dwayne Haskins also led his squad to a Week 1 win behind 178 passing yards and a touchdown.

The two 2019 first rounders have been solid early, but both have struggled to protect the football throughout their short careers. Murray has 15 turnovers in 17 career games, Haskins has nine giveaways in ten.

As is often the case with young quarterbacks, success for Murray and Haskins on Sunday and going forward will be predicated on and determined by their ability to take care of the football.

Baltimore Ravens at Houston Texans, 4:25 p.m. Sunday, KDKA-TV

No team was dealt a tougher hand to start the season than the Houston Texans, who begin 2020 facing three AFC juggernauts. Sandwiched between their opening night loss to the Chiefs and a Week 3 visit to Pittsburgh, the Texans will battle reigning MVP Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens this Sunday.

Sunday’s matchup will be decided by which team dominates the redzone. The Ravens were phenomenal in the redzone offensively last season, scoring a league-leading 43 touchdowns. Houston was not as stellar defensively, allowing opponents to score touchdowns on 71.4% of their trips, the highest rate in the league.

The story was the same for Houston last week against Kansas City, as they allowed the Chiefs to score on seven of their eight redzone trips.

Baltimore also continued their trend of success from last season, scoring in the redzone at an 83% clip against the Browns last Sunday.

The Texans may have to do the impossible this week to get their first win of the season, which means stopping Jackson and Baltimore’s abundancy of running backs from finding the goal line.

REST OF THE SCHEDULE

New York Giants at Chicago Bears, 1 p.m. CBS regional

Atlanta Falcons at Dallas Cowboys, 1 p.m, FOX regional

Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers, 1 p.m., FOX regional

Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans, 1 p.m., CBS regional

Minnesota Vikings at Indianapolis Colts, 1 p.m., FOX regional

Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins, 1 p.m., CBS regional

San Francisco 49ers at New York Jets 1 p.m., FOX regional

Denver Broncos at Pittsburgh Steelers, 1 p.m., KDKA-TV

Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1:00 p.m., FOX regional

Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:25 p.m., CBS regional

New England Patriots at Seattle Seahawks, 8:20 p.m., NBC

New Orleans Saints at Las Vegas Raiders, 8:15 p.m. Monday, ESPN

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NFL

Cam Heyward Named NFLPA Community MVP for Week 1

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Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Cam Heyward has been named NFLPA Community MVP for Week 1.

Heyward was honored for installing his first Little Free Library, a book-sharing box placed in underserved communities around the Pittsburgh area.

Little Free Library is a non-profit organization that “inspires a love of reading, builds community, and sparks creativity by fostering neighborhood book exchanges around the world.”

The installation of the book-sharing boxes marks the launch of the Rufus and Judy Jordan Literacy Project, a new initiative of the Cameron Heyward Foundation that will work to promote children’s literacy and honor his late grandparents, both of whom were lifelong educators in Pittsburgh.

Drafted in first round of the 2011 NFL Draft out of Ohio State, Heyward has spend his entire career in Pittsburgh. He is a three-time Pro Bowler, and has twice received First-Team All-Pro honors.

Heyward and the Steelers agreed to a four-year, $71.4 million contract extension on Sept. 6 that will allow him to retire in Pittsburgh and make him the highest-paid defense player over the age of 30 in NFL history.

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Report: Titans to Allow 7,000 Fans for Game Against Steelers

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The Tennessee Titans will reportedly announce Thursday that they will be able to have 7,000 fans in attendance for their Week 4 matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers, according to Outkick.com’s Clay Travis.

The Oct. 4 meeting between the two AFC sides will be the first game with fans inside Nissan Stadium, with the total gradually increasing over the following weeks. Approximately 8,600 fans are planned to be in attendance Oct. 11 against the Buffalo Bills and then 10,400 are expected the following week when the Houston Texans visit on Oct. 18.

Nashville Mayor John Cooper is expected to make a formal announcement this afternoon, Travis reports.

While the Steelers have already ruled out fans for their first two home games against the Denver Broncos this Sunday and the Texans on Sept. 27, the organization has not yet announced a decision on fan attendance for the remainder of the season.

The Jacksonville Jaguars were the only team that played in front of fans this past weekend, with seating capped at 25% capacity inside TIAA Bank Field for their season-opening win against the Indianapolis Colts.

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