Friday’s roundup: Cardinals benefit from Welter

Associated Press

Glendale, Ariz. — Jen Welter’s groundbreaking days as an interim NFL coach are nearing an end.

“It’s been fantastic,” she said. “This is such a good group of guys who I think really embraced what could have been a challenging situation, and they just ran with it. I mean these players and these coaches have just been fantastic for me. It’s been like a dream come true.”

When coach Bruce Arians brought in Welter as an intern working with inside linebackers, she became the first female to hold any coaching position in the NFL.

“We showed little girls that even in the final frontier of sports that anything is possible,” she said. “That is breathtaking to me. It’s something that I never thought was possible.”

Arians cleared the way for her acceptance, Welter said, “just by being a man who is true to himself in how he coaches and how he deals with people.”

“I heard one player say it best: ‘I knew Bruce and the kind of guy he was and he wasn’t going to bring anybody here who didn’t belong.’ ”

Arians said the way Welter “approaches it is a little bit different from a lot of people, because she is female and she thinks differently.”

One of those “different” things was leaving notes for her players in their lockers before games.

“It came from the heart,” she said. “To me it’s something I would have wanted as a player. It never occurred to me that other people weren’t doing it, and yet the feedback from all the guys was really fantastic. They were like ‘Coach, we never had anybody do that before.”

They were notes of inspiration individualized to each player.

She said he had “just gone with my intuition on what the right thing was and to be true to myself and my beliefs that these guys needed to know they were important as people, not just football players.”

Friday’s games

New England 17, (at) Carolina 16: Tom Brady overcame two early interceptions to lead his first touchdown drive of the exhibition season as the Patriots beat the Panthers.

It has been a titanic struggle for Brady, who is awaiting word on his appeal of a four-game suspension for his role in “Deflategate.” After managing just three first downs in his first 11 exhibition possessions, Brady finally got on track, leading an 80-yard scoring drive before halftime running the hurry-up offense. He capped the drive with a well-placed 18-yard touchdown pass to tight end Scott Chandler.

New England played again without tight end Rob Gronkowski and wide receivers Brandon LaFell and Julian Edelman.

Carolina managed just two field goals in the first half behind Cam Newton and trailed 7-6 at halftime. Corey Brown bobbled away an easy TD pass from Newton — one of four Carolina drops in the first half.

(At) Kansas City 34, Tennessee 10: Alex Smith threw for 171 yards and two touchdowns in less than a half, and the Chiefs’ offense looked the sharpest it has in a weather-shortened game.

The game was called with 3 minutes, 50 seconds remaining after thunder rumbled and lightning streaked across the sky. Heavy rains had turned one end zone into a lake.

Smith was 16-of-18 before giving way to third-string quarterback Aaron Murray just before halftime. Murray played the rest of the game for Kansas City (3-0), throwing for 146 yards with two touchdown passes and an interception as backup Chase Daniel got the night off.

Marcus Mariota got off to a slow start for the Titans (1-2), misfiring on his first three throws. But the first-round pick out of Oregon was 7-of-8 for 99 yards the rest of the half.

Extra points

Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III will miss tonight’s exhibition game at Baltimore because of a concussion.

... Quarterback Ryan Mallett was back at Texans practice after oversleeping Thursday.

... The felony charge against Titans wide receiver Justin Hunter has been reduced to a misdemeanor count of assault and battery.

... Dallas offensive lineman R.J. Dill has been suspended four games for violating the league’s policy against performance-enhancing drugs.