Saturday's NFL: Gordon cleared to play, unlikely to face Lions
Josh Gordon got the go-ahead from the NFL to practice. Now one of his hamstrings is holding him back.
The former Pro Bowl wide receiver, whose career has been derailed by drug and alcohol addictions, was released by the league to resume all on-field activities with the Browns after being limited to attending meetings, working out and watching practice since returning from a three-week absence.
“He’s now cleared to return to all activities, including games,” league spokesman Brian McCarthy said in an email to the Associated Press.
Gordon took part in the team’s pre-practice walk-through on the field after the team removed him from the active/non-football injury list. The team was going to bring him along slowly, and then that plan got altered because Gordon “tweaked” his hamstring a few days ago.
“I am not going to put him out there until I think he is totally ready to go,” coach Hue Jackson said following practice. “Hopefully, we will work through that. A little minor setback, but we will get him out there soon.”
The Browns have eagerly awaited the chance to get Gordon back on the field since he returned on Aug. 24 after leaving on the eve of training camp to receive treatment and counseling in Florida connected to his struggle with drug and alcohol dependence.
Jackson had hoped to play the 27-year-old receiver in this week’s exhibition finale against Detroit, so Gordon would be ready to face Pittsburgh in the Sept. 9 opener. However, the hamstring issue has put everything on hold.
Jackson said it’s unlikely that Gordon will face the Lions on Thursday.
“I don’t want to stick him out there if there’s a chance we will not have him for the opener,” Jackson said. “I want to make sure he’s ready to go.”
Saturday’s NFL preseason
Chicago 27, Kansas City 20: Bears coach Matt Nagy decided to rest his starters for the next-to-last preseason game rather than use it as the customary regular-season tuneup. And the backups proved that they’re also ready for the regular season. Backup quarterback Chase Daniel directed touchdown drives on the first three possessions.
Playing against Chiefs defensive starters and then the backups, Daniel led the Bears to a 24-10 halftime lead.
Daniel, a Chiefs backup quarterback from 2013-15, finished 15-of-18 for 198 yards and two touchdowns. The first two Bears touchdown drives came against Kansas City’s starting defense, minus injured safety Eric Berry and four other injured players.
Wide-open receiver Kevin White caught Daniel’s 29-yard TD pass in the first quarter to break a 7-7 tie, and Daniel then found Javon Wims for a 7-yard TD pass in the back corner of the end zone and a 21-10 lead.
Benny Cunningham ran in from 13 yards for Chicago’s first TD and Cody Parkey added a 48-yard field goal just before halftime.
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes II and the starting offense played into the third quarter against the backup Bears defense, and showed inconsistency.
Mahomes flipped a short pass to the right side and Kareem Hunt turned it into a 19-yard TD for a 7-7 tie. Then he led a 49-yard drive ending in Harrison Butker’s second-quarter 47-yard field goal.
Mahomes didn’t produce a big play on Saturday, and finished 18-of-24 for 196 yards. He left the game with the Chiefs down 24-10 in the third quarter.
(At) Jacksonville 17, Atlanta 6: The Jaguars might have lost their No. 1 receiver for the season. Marqise Lee, who led the team in receptions in 2017, injured his left knee and could be out for the year.
Lee was carted off the field in the first quarter after Falcons cornerback Damontae Kazee twisted his leg making a tackle. Lee fumbled on the play, but it was overturned because Kazee was flagged for tackling with his helmet.
Teammates and coaches offered well-wishes to Lee as he left the field. Nonetheless, it was the kind of preseason injury that leaves players, coaches and fans shaking their heads.
It also reaffirmed Falcons coach Dan Quinn’s decision to rest two of his biggest offensive stars, receiver Julio Jones and running back Devonta Freeman.
Lee had 56 catches for 702 yards and three touchdowns last season. He signed a four-year, $34 million contract in March that included $16.5 million guaranteed.
A second-round draft pick from USC in 2014, Lee has 171 catches for 2,166 yards and eight touchdowns. He missed games because of various injuries in three of his four seasons.
If Lee misses extended time in 2018, the Jaguars would rely on second-year pros Keelan Cole and Dede Westbrook, one-year rental Donte Moncrief, and rookie DJ Chark to pick up the slack.
(At) L.A. Rams 21, Houston 20: Rookie John Kelly (Oak Park) rushed for 64 yards and two touchdowns, and the briefly debuted their new defensive stars.
Although the Rams rested 10 presumptive offensive starters for the third straight preseason game, the Los Angeles defense’s three big offseason acquisitions played at the Coliseum. Ndamukong Suh and cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib got some action early in the first quarter before sitting.
J.J. Watt also started and made a tackle in his first on-field action since breaking his leg in the Texans’ fifth game last season. The three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year didn’t get to see the current holder of the award, Aaron Donald, who is deep in his second consecutive contract holdout from the Rams.
Alfred Blue rushed for an early score for Houston, and Braxton Miller caught a TD pass from Brandon Weeden, who went 10 of 17 for 108 yards with an interception after Deshaun Watson’s brief action. Quan Bray caught a 3-yard touchdown pass from Joe Webb with 5:54 to play for the Texans, but Ejuan Price sacked Webb on the ensuing 2-point conversion attempt.
Nick Rose then missed a 57-yard field goal at the gun.
(At) Pittsburgh 16, Tennessee 6: Ben Roethlisberger made the most of his brief preseason cameo, throwing for 114 yards and a touchdown.
New Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner didn’t let Roethlisberger’s lone scheduled exhibition appearance ahead of the Sept. 9 season opener at Cleveland go to waste. Roethlisberger completed 11 of 18 passes during his three drives, including a 32-yard rainbow to Justin Hunter for a score late in the first quarter.
Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota, meanwhile, struggled against Pittsburgh’s starting defense. Mariota completed 5 of 8 passes for 43 yards while playing most of the first half. He missed a wide-open Corey Davis for what would have been a long touchdown on Tennessee’s opening drive and his afternoon ended late in the second quarter when Steelers rookie safety Terrell Edmunds picked off a floater intended for Taywan Taylor.
The Titans didn’t do much in the run game to take any of the pressure off Mariota. Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis combined for 23 yards rushing on eight carries. Tennessee’s lone touchdown came on a 3-yard touchdown pass from Blaine Gabbert to tight end Anthony Firkser in the fourth quarter.
(At) Indianapolis 23, San Francisco 17: Andrew Luck threw a touchdown pass on what will probably be his last preseason drive, and Christine Michael scored on a 1-yard plunge late in the third quarter.
Luck looked much sharper than he did in Monday night’s loss to Baltimore. He wound up 8-of-10 with 90 yards and produced the only TD in the first half. He also had four carries for 27 yards before leaving midway through the second quarter.
Otherwise, it was a struggle for the Colts. They had trouble establishing the run — and stopping the run, too.
Alfred Morris carried 13 times for 71 yards in the first half as San Francisco piled up 99 yards on the ground. Morris finished with 17 carries for 84 yards.
Still, the Colts managed to keep the 49ers out of the end zone until late in the fourth quarter and nearly picked off Jimmy Garoppolo on back-to-back plays near the goal line late in the first half. Garoppolo was 9-of-19 with 135 yards before giving way to C.J. Beathard midway through the third quarter.
Baltimore 27, (at) Miami 10: First-round pick Lamar Jackson led touchdown possessions of 84, 62 and 73 yards against mostly deep reserves.
Jackson entered the game at the start of the second half and had his best performance yet for the Ravens. He went 7-for-10 for 98 yards and a touchdown, and ran for 39 yards on three carries, including a 19-yard scoring run.
Kenyan Drake sparked one scoring drive with a 30-yard run and another with a 36-yard reception for the Dolphins, whose starters reached the end zone for the first time this preseason.
Ryan Tannehill fumbled twice early, and the Dolphins drew boos from the small crowd when they went three-and-out on the first series. But the offense began to click in the second quarter against a mix of Ravens starters and reserves, and Tannehill finished 11-of-16 for 115 yards.
Danny Amendola made a nifty cutback to juke past two defensive backs and score on a 16-yard pass from Tannehill. It was the first touchdown by Miami’s starters during the preseason in 10 possessions.
On the next series, Tannehill hit Drake deep for a big gain to set up a field goal, and the Dolphins led 10-3 at halftime before both teams emptied their benches.
New Orleans 36, L.A. Chargers 7: Alvin Kamara ran for a 2-yard touchdown, and New Orleans capped a productive week in Southern California with a preseason win over Los Angeles.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees was 7-of-9 for 59 yards with an interception in three series, while Philip Rivers was 5-of-7 for 29 yards in a brief tuneup appearance for the Chargers.
New Orleans did not get its initial first down until late in the first quarter when third-string quarterback and special teams contributor Taysom Hill moved the chains by running a direct snap on a fake punt around the left side. That helped set up Kamara’s short touchdown plunge seven plays later. The Saints took an 8-7 lead on a 2-point pass from Brees to Michael Thomas, the last throw Brees would make before giving way to Tom Savage.
Wil Lutz kicked field goals of 25 and 35 yards in the final two minutes of the first half, and Hill scrambled for an 11-yard touchdown run and a 2-point conversion on a keeper late in the third quarter. Cornerback Marcus Williams added a 59-yard interception return for a touchdown, which came seven plays after a pass interference penalty against Williams negated a ricochet TD return by linebacker Craig Robertson.