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Rams LB Clay Matthews Expected to Play vs Steelers

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The Los Angeles Rams (5-3) have missed linebacker Clay Matthews for their last three games. A week ago, the Rams had their bye week. This Sunday they will travel to Pittsburgh (4-4) in a Week 9 non-conference battle.

Will Matthews be on the field against the Steelers?

“That’s the anticipation, yes,” Rams head coach Sean McVay said on Monday.

Matthews, the 11-year veteran, suffered a broken jaw in the Rams’ Week 5 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

In the five games that Matthews has played in this year, he has recorded six sacks and two forced fumbles. Matthews was also credited with 16 solo tacked

“I think, really, it’s just kind of getting him back into normal routine, seeing how he’s feeling,” McVay said of what he expects from Matthews leading up to Pittsburgh.

Matthews presence is even more vital against a young quarterback like the Steelers Mason Rudolph. Matthews is known for his ability to rush the quarterback and adding him to a defense with the likes of Aaron Donald and company, gives the Steelers just a little more to worry about.

The Rams are giving no signs stating that Matthews wouldn’t be lining up across from the Steelers offense, come Sunday.

“Everything’s checked out in a positive manner up to this point, so I think it’s just kind of progressing back to, ‘How comfortable do you feel putting a helmet on?’” McVay said. “It’s just kind of trusting that you’re nice and secure in that absence of some of that stuff that kind of kept it in place and helped it heal over the last couple weeks.”

The Rams defense ranks No. 8 in points allowed and  No. 10 in the NFL in total yards allowed.

 

NFL

Around the NFL: Derrick Henry, Titans Rolling into Next Week’s Matchup with Steelers

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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.

AROUND THE NFL THIS WEEKEND

Tennessee Titans 31, Minnesota Vikings 30

Sunday’s matchup in Minneapolis boasted a battle between two of the leagues premier running backs in Tennessee’s Derrick Henry and Minnesota’s Dalvin Cook. While both were sensational, a Herculean effort from kicker Stephen Gostkowski pushed the Titans to 3-0.

The 15-year veteran hit six field goals Sunday, including a 55-yard game winner with 1:44 remaining. Not only did Gostkowski set a career-high for field goals made in a single game, he also became the first kicker since 1970 to boot three game winning kicks in his team’s first three games of a season. Gostkowski’s record-breaking performance comes just two weeks after his challenging Titans debut, where the former Patriot went one for four and missed an extra point.

Cook rushed for 181 yards and a score on the afternoon, while Henry rushed for 119 and two touchdowns.

Henry and the Titans will host the Steelers next week, pitting the league’s leading rusher against the top run defense. Henry already has 316 yards and four total touchdowns, while the Steelers have only surrendered 162 yards over their first three games.

Cincinnati Bengals 23, Philadelphia Eagles 23 (OT)

For the third-straight year, a pair of NFL teams will have a tie on their record. While the Internet rejoices, the Eagles and Bengals are have to be far from thrilled.

The Eagles offensive woes persisted Sunday, with quarterback Carson Wentz continuing his poor play to begin the season. Wentz completed 29 of 47 passes for 225 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions. His six picks are tied for the league lead with Kirk Cousins. Wentz did demonstrate his mobility, rushing for 65 yards and a score.

While Wentz repeatedly disappoints, Bengals quarterback continues to shine. Demonstrating poise beyond his years, Burrow diced the Eagles secondary, completing over 70% of his passes for 312 yards and two touchdowns. He connected with nine different receivers, and topped the 300-yard mark for the second-straight game. His 91 completions through his first three games is the most by a rookie in NFL history.

Former Pitt standout and Pittsburgh native Tyler Boyd was Burrow’s go-to target Sunday. The former second-round pick caught 10 passes for 125 yards, one catch shy of his career high.

Former Steeler Javon Hargrave failed to record a stat for the second-straight week for the Eagles defense, which did sack Burrow eight times on the afternoon.

Seattle Seahawks 38, Dallas Cowboys 31

While he has amazingly never received an NFL MVP vote, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson looks well on his way to change that following another record-setting performance on Sunday.

The Cowboys looked helpless against Wilson, who completed 27 of 40 passes for 315 yards and five touchdowns and no interceptions. He leads the NFL with 14 touchdown passes, and is the first player in league history to throw at least four touchdown passes in his team’s first three games of a season. The nine-year veteran is also completing an astounding 76.7% of his passes.

Wide receiver Tyler Lockett was the primary beneficiary, catching nine passes for 100 yards and three of Wilson’s touchdown tosses. D.K. Metcalf also crossed the century mark with 110 yards on four catches and a touchdown. Metcalf could have a second walk-in touchdown, but he was stripped as he let up just before crossing the goal line the ball going out of the endzone for a touchback.

Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott tossed for a career-high 472 yards, but could not out out duel Wilson. Prescott threw three touchdowns and crossed the 400-yard mark for the second-consecutive week, but also threw two costly interceptions.

Seattle’s defense also stifled star running back Ezekiel Elliot, holding him to just 34 yards and a touchdown on the ground.

The Steelers may avoid the Seahawks this season, but they will visit the Cowboys in Week 9, fresh off their bye week.

Kansas City Chiefs at Baltimore Ravens, 8:15 p.m. Monday, ESPN

Monday night’s clash between the Chiefs and Ravens feels like a monumental game in what is still a very young 2020 season. Both teams will enter the game at 2-0, and are led by two of the league’s most electric, dominant young players.

The quarterback duel between the last two MVPs will garner the bulk of the attention leading up to Monday night, and deservedly so. Fresh off a Super Bowl win in February, Patrick Mahomes amazingly looks even better starting his fourth season, having thrown for 513 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions through two weeks. Last year’s phenom Lamar Jackson is off to a strong start as well, throwing for 479 yards and four scores with no turnovers.

Eye-catching as the two offenses are, Monday’s game will be decided by the defenses. Specifically, which unit is able to generate the ever-elusive takeaway off the opposing offense. The Chiefs have yet to turn the ball over, while the Ravens have just once.

Baltimore’s defense leads the league with five takeaways already this season, Kansas City has forced a passable two turnovers through two weeks.

In an explosive game that could very well be decided in the thirties, the club that steals a possession could be the one that snatches the win and the driver’s seat in the AFC.

REST OF THE SCHEDULE

Miami Dolphins 31, Jacksonville Jaguars 13

Chicago Bears 30, Atlanta Falcons 26

Buffalo Bills 35, Los Angeles Rams 32

Cleveland Browns 34, Washington 20

New England Patriots 36, Las Vegas Raiders 20

San Francisco 49ers 36, New York Giants 9

Pittsburgh Steelers 28, Houston Texans 21

Indianapolis Colts 36, New York Jets 7

Carolina Panthers 21, Los Angeles Chargers 16

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 28, Denver Broncos 10

Detroit Lions 26, Arizona Cardinals 23

Green Bay Packers 37, New Orleans Saints 30

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Around the NFL: Chiefs-Ravens a ‘Monumental’ AFC Clash

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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.

AROUND THE NFL THIS WEEKEND

Tennessee Titans at Minnesota Vikings, 1:00 p.m., CBS Regional

After an abysmal performance last week in Indianapolis, quarterback Kirk Cousins is looking to bounce back in a big way this week when his Vikings host the Titans. Cousins went 11 of 26 for just 113 yards and three interceptions with no touchdowns against the Colts. He was also sacked three times.

Cousins has to be relieved to be returning to the friendly confines of U.S. Bank Stadium, where he has posted a passer rating of 100 or more in seven of his last eight starts. He has also won three-straight home games over AFC opponents.

While a bounce-back performance for Cousins may be in the cards for Sunday, the most intriguing storyline has to be the matchup between two of the NFL’s top running backs in Minnesota’s Dalvin Cook and Tennessee’s Derrick Henry.

Henry led the league in rushing yards (1,540) and rushing touchdowns (16) last season, while Cook’s 13 rushing scores were the third-most. Cook

Although neither team has defended the run well so far this season, the Vikings hold the fourth-worst in the league and lost linebacker Anthony Barr to a torn pectoral last week. Both backs should shine, but expect Henry to have the bigger day.

Henry and the Titans should savor Sunday’s opportunity while they can, as they will host the Steelers and their top-ranked rush defense on Oct. 4.

Cincinnati Bengals at Philadelphia Eagles, 1:00 p.m., CBS Regional

Beginning a stretch of three games in four weeks against AFC North opponents, the Eagles will start by hosting the Bengals on Sunday, with both teams still seeking their first win of the season.

Optimism abounds in Cincinnati, with No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow impressing just two games into his NFL career. The LSU product has tossed for 509 yards and three touchdowns, rushing for another.

There is significantly less positivity in Philadelphia, as franchise quarterback Carson Wentz has looked troublesome to start the 2020 campaign. He has thrown for 512 yards and just two scores with four interceptions, tied for the league lead. Wentz is only completing 58.8% of his passes and has been sacked eight times. He leads the league with 20 off-target throws, 15 of which came in a clean pocket.

Philadelphia may be wise to turn rely on the run Sunday, lightening the load on Wentz’s shoudlers. Although he missed the season opener with an ailment, second-year running back Miles Sanders was great against the Rams last week, rushing for 95 yards and a touchdown. Facing one of the NFL’s worst rushing defenses in the Bengals, look for the Eagles to feature the Pittsburgh native.

In addition, former Steeler defensive tackle Javon Hargrave made his Philadelphia debut last week against the Rams, but failed to record a sack. The former third-round pick will be looking to make much more of an impact this weekend.

Dallas Cowboys at Seattle Seahawks, 4:25 p.m., WPGH-TV

Following Steelers-Texans, local football fans who flip over to FOX will be treated to a battle of NFC heavyweights when Russell Wilson and the Seahawks host Dak Prescott and the Cowboys.

Wilson has put on quarterbacking clinic through two weeks, already passing for 609 yards and nine touchdowns in two victories. Even more impressive, he has completed 82.5% of his passes. It is mind-numbingly insane Wilson has never received a single MVP vote over his eight-year career.

Prescott’s 716 passing yards are the fourth-most in the league, but the true offensive star of America’s Team has been running back Ezekiel Elliot. The former Ohio State standout has rushed for 185 yards and scored three touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving) already.

Elliot will face his toughest hurdle yet Sunday afternoon when he opposes the league’s second-best run defense in the Seahawks.

If Seattle is able to stifle Elliot, Dallas will have to rely on the arm of Prescott and his trio of talented pass catchers. Wide receivers Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup have combined for 32 receptions and 454 yards, but amazingly have scored no touchdowns. That will likely need to change Sunday at CenturyLink Field.

Kansas City Chiefs at Baltimore Ravens, 8:15 p.m. Monday, ESPN

Monday night’s clash between the Chiefs and Ravens feels like a monumental game in what is still a very young 2020 season. Both teams will enter the game at 2-0, and are led by two of the league’s most electric, dominant young players.

The quarterback duel between the last two MVPs will garner the bulk of the attention leading up to Monday night, and deservedly so. Fresh off a Super Bowl win in February, Patrick Mahomes amazingly looks even better starting his fourth season, having thrown for 513 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions through two weeks. Last year’s phenom Lamar Jackson is off to a strong start as well, throwing for 479 yards and four scores with no turnovers.

Eye-catching as the two offenses are, Monday’s game will be decided by the defenses. Specifically, which unit is able to generate the ever-elusive takeaway off the opposing offense. The Chiefs have yet to turn the ball over, while the Ravens have just once.

Baltimore’s defense leads the league with five takeaways already this season, Kansas City has forced a passable two turnovers through two weeks.

In an explosive game that could very well be decided in the thirties, the club that steals a possession could be the one that snatches the win and the driver’s seat in the AFC.

REST OF THE SCHEDULE

Miami Dolphins 31, Jacksonville Jaguars 13

Chicago Bears at Atlanta Falcons, 1:00 p.m., FOX Regional

Los Angeles Rams at Buffalo Bills, 1:00 p.m., FOX Regional

Washington at Cleveland Browns, 1:00 p.m., WPGH-TV

Las Vegas Raiders at New England Patriots, 1:00 p.m., CBS Regional

San Francisco 49ers at New York Giants, 1:00 p.m., FOX Regional

Houston Texans at Pittsburgh Steelers, 1:00 p.m., KDKA-TV

New York Jets at Indianapolis Colts, 4:05 p.m., CBS Regional

Carolina Panthers at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05 p.m., CBS Regional

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Denver Broncos, 4:25 p.m., FOX Regional

Detroit Lions at Arizona Cardinals, 4:25 p.m., FOX Regional

Green Bay Packers at New Orleans Saints, 8:20 p.m., WPXI-TV

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NFL, NFLPA Announce Zero Positive Cases Among Players

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The NFL had zero positive cases among players and just five among staff members in their last round of COVID-19 testing, the league and NFLPA announced Tuesday.

This week’s results mark a slight improvement from the last testing period, where two players and five staff tested positive.

In the period spanning from Sept. 13 – 19, the league administered 36,664 total tests to 7,845 players and staff.

14,074 tests were distributed to 2,438 players. 5,407 staff members received 22,590 coronavirus tests.

Tier 1 and 2 individuals continue to be tested daily, while Tier 3 staff across the league are being tested on a weekly basis.

As the 2020 season approaches week 3, the league’s COVID-19 protocols appear to be working perfectly with no significant virus outbreaks to date.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have not had any virus-related issues since running back Jaylen Samuels was removed from the COVID-19/ Reserve list on Aug. 13.

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