McCourty OK with kick returns


McCourty OK with kick returns

New England was already down 7-0 when it got its first chance with the football in Tampa.

Michael Koenen got ready to kick off for the Bucs. Jeff Demps, Olympic sprinter and new Patriot . . . Stayed on the sideline.

Devin McCourty, come on down.

"It's cool experience, a defensive guy getting a chance to get the ball in your hands," the cornerback told reporters Sunday. "I did it a couple times in preseason my rookie year."

McCourty's rookie returns were impressive.

In the team's first preseason game of 2010, he had two big runs against the Saints -- one for 52 yards, another for 50.

The effort shouldn't have been shocking. McCourty was a dynamic special teams player while at Rutgers, averaging 25.43 yards per kickoff return (he took one 98 yards for a touchdown) his senior year.

Of course, that was three years ago. And the old, "like riding a bike" idiom doesn't always translate well in the NFL.

"I wouldn't say it's that easy, but once you do it a couple times you get used to it," he said. "I think a lot of returners are just using what your have -- their skill set -- going out there and running hard. I know when I'm on kickoff team we go back there, just set everything up, and just hit it. When I go back there I try to do that and help those guys block and get the offense started."

The Patriots didn't get Jeff Demps to sit on the sideline, silver medal around his neck. But if McCourty gets the call during the regular season to return kicks, he won't mind one bit.

"Whatever coach Belichick decides to have me out there doing, I'm just going to take advantage of the opportunity."

Raiders' Marshawn Lynch suspended game for shoving official


Raiders' Marshawn Lynch suspended game for shoving official

NEW YORK - Oakland running back Marshawn Lynch was suspended for one game without pay by the NFL on Friday for shoving a game official during the Raiders' victory over Kansas City on Thursday night.

Lynch was ejected from the game after he shoved line judge Julian Mapp.

The scuffle started when Oakland quarterback Derek Carr was hit late on a run by Kansas City's Marcus Peters midway through the second quarter. Raiders offensive linemen Kelechi Osemele and Donald Penn immediately confronted Peters, and Lynch sprinted onto the field from the bench to join the fray. Mapp tried to break up the fight, but Lynch pushed him and grabbed his jersey. Lynch also got a personal foul.

NFL vice president of football operations Jon Runyan wrote a letter to Lynch, saying:

"You made deliberate physical contact with one of our game officials as he was diffusing an active confrontation between players. You were disqualified for your inappropriate and unsportsmanlike actions. Your conduct included pushing the game official and grabbing his jersey. ... You were not directly involved in the active confrontation that the game official was attempting to diffuse, nor were you a participant in the play that initiated the confrontation. You were the only player from either team who ran from the sideline to midfield to insert himself into a situation in which he was not directly involved."

Lynch will be eligible to return to Oakland's active roster on Oct. 30, the day after the Raiders' game against the Buffalo Bills.

Lynch finished the game with two carries for 9 yards.

The Raiders rallied to win 31-30 on a touchdown pass by Carr on the final play, and Lynch was in the locker room after the game congratulating his teammates.

Lynch came out of retirement this season and was traded from Seattle to the Raiders. Lynch said he wanted to make a comeback so he could give something back to his hometown of Oakland before the Raiders move to Las Vegas in 2020.

Lynch has rushed for 266 yards and two touchdowns in seven games.