Carson Wentz

THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Eagles improve to 5-1 with 28-23 win over Panthers

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THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Eagles improve to 5-1 with 28-23 win over Panthers

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carson Wentz said he saw some things from the Carolina Panthers he hadn't seen on film leading to three first-half sacks and plenty of pressure.

It didn't bother the Philadelphia Eagles' second-year quarterback.

Wentz came up big in a huge game, throwing for 222 yards and three touchdowns against one of the NFL's top defenses, and the Eagles beat the Panthers 28-23 on Thursday night to improve to an NFC-best 5-1.

"We kept backs in to handle their linebackers and we did a better job cleaning it up in the second half," said Wentz, who wasn't sacked in the second half.

The Eagles turned two interceptions deep in Carolina territory into 15 points. Wentz teamed with Zach Ertz on two touchdown passes, and LaGarrette Blount scored on a 2-point conversion run for an 18-10 lead in the third quarter. Wentz added a 24-yard scoring pass to Nelson Agholor in the fourth quarter.

"He's a great leader of this football team, even in his second year," Eagles coach Doug Pederson said about Wentz. "Guys really respect the way he plays. It's exciting to see that."

Cam Newton threw three interceptions for Carolina (4-2).

The first two interceptions came inside Carolina's 20, but weren't Newton's fault. He was hit by Fletcher Cox as he released one pass, and running back Jonathan Stewartbobbled another pass resulting in a pick. Newton's third interception - by Jalen Mills with 3:06 left - ended a chance for the go-ahead score.

Carolina had one last shot to win, but turned it over on downs at midfield.

"We gave them layups, giving them the ball inside our 20," Newton said. "Against a good team like that, well that's not good ingredients to win. We can't put our defense in that type of position."

Panthers middle linebacker Luke Kuechly was placed into the concussion protocol after his body crumpled following a collision with Eagles pulling guard Brandon Brooks. Kuechly missed nine games over the past two seasons with two concussions. All of the Eagles' touchdowns came after Kuechly left the game late in the second quarter.

Panthers cornerback Captain Munnerlyn said it won't be easy to replace Keuchly, adding "Luke is a big part of what we do."

Added defensive tackle Kawann Short: "You saw a quick prayer, but then the game has to go on."

Newton gave the Panthers a 10-3 lead on his 51st career touchdown rushing in the second quarter. He kept the ball on a read option and juked cornerback Rasul Douglas on the 16-yard run.

Douglas get revenge on Carolina's next possession, intercepting Newton's pass after Cox crashed into Newton as he was throwing, causing the ball to float high into the air.

EAGLES' COX RETURNS: After a two-game absence due to a calf injury, Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox returned and was a dominant force. Along with the tipped pass on Newton's interception, he also had a sack and two quarterback hurries. "There's no way I could sit him tonight," Pederson said. "It was too important to him."

NO RUNNING GAME: If it hadn't been for Newton , the Panthers would not have had any running game to speak of against the Eagles. Newton ran for 71 yards and the touchdown, but running backs Jonathan StewartChristian McCaffrey and Fozzy Whittaker were limited to 1 yard on 13 carries.

"We have a lot of things to look at. We really do," Panthers coach Ron Rivera said of the running game."

BLOUNT POUNDS AWAY: The bruising Blount didn't find the end zone for a touchdown, although he did score on a 2-point conversion after the Panthers defensive tackle Star Lotulelei jumped early on an extra point attempt. That prompted coach Doug Pederson to go for two. Blount finished with 67 yards on 14 carries.

PEPPERS' MILESTONE: Julius Peppers needed one sack to become the fifth player to reach 150 since they became an official statistic in 1982. The 37-year-old Peppers didn't waste any time reaching it, sacking Wentz on the first drive of the game and forcing a fumble.

LINEUP CHANGE: Panthers cornerback Daryl Worley was benched in the first half for Kevin Seymour.

INJURIES:

Eagles: Linebacker Jordan Hicks left the game early with an ankle injury. Defensive end Brandon Graham briefly left with a shoulder injury.

Panthers: Aside from Kuechly's injury, Whittaker was carted to the locker room in the first quarter with a right ankle injury and did not return.

UP NEXT:

Eagles: Host the Washington Redskins on "Monday Night Football" on Oct. 23

Panthers: At the Chicago Bears on Oct. 22.

Curran's NFL notes: The hotter the better for Belichick

Curran's NFL notes: The hotter the better for Belichick

FOXBORO - There will be greenhouse conditions at Gillette Stadium on Sunday for the team’s first practice since the Saints game Thursday night. It will be a true “it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity” day and that really doesn’t bother Bill Belichick at all. He wants to see work during nasty conditions.

Thursday night, after the win over the Saints, Belichick said, “We had a good level of heat. There were a good amount of longer drives on both sides. There were times that we were out there for eight, nine, 10 plays defensively and then there were a few times when we were out there for eight, or nine, or 10 plays offensively. Those longer drives are really where players build their conditioning; they build their stamina, so it was good to have a few of those. I think the players themselves could see after three, four, five plays, you know OK, but then at nine, 10, especially when you’re running off the field with substitutions like you have to do against the Saints to matchup against their offense or what we do offensively, using different personnel combinations. You combine that running on and off the field with a longer drive [and] I think that was definitely a good evaluation of our conditioning tonight and I wouldn’t say it was bad, but it certainly can be better. We need to continue to work on that. Tonight was a good night for us to see where we’re at on that front.”

There will be no significant letup this week as the Bears come to town for joint practices on Tuesday and Wednesday. Temperatures will be in the mid-to-high 80s all week.

***
The Bills committed 47 penalties in the first four games of 2015 and tied for the most penalties in the league with Tampa Bay (143). They were back at it again Saturday night against with 11 flags in a 19-18 loss to Indy. 

Rex Ryan’s opening statement regarding the penalties, though? Stream-of-consciousness, word waterfall.

“Man, there were so many positives in this game. It was exciting for me to see the way our guys competed,” Ryan began. “Obviously we didn’t do our end as a football team. The mistakes that we made, I pointed out to our team, it’s like we have to turn the page on that, that was last year’s team and we can’t have that. We’ve been working extremely hard about some of those penalties we saw. We had four offside penalties and that was upsetting to me. I think we had three on special teams, so that blueprint was what last year’s blueprint was. As a team, there isn’t anybody in there that’s happy with that performance just because of that.”

Flags fly excessively in the preseason anyway. Half the roster is there on temporary employment and the officials call things pretty closely to set the tone and get their own work in. It’s just the tone of Ryan’s remarks that make you chuckle because you know he’s going to be standing there at a Bills podium saying the same thing about being happy with the effort, upset about the penalties and committed to having it not happen again. And then it will happen again.  

Ryan also channeled Gisele in praising the work of his quarterbacks: “I loved the way our quarterbacks played. It might not be reflected in the quarterback ratings but I don’t know, we had four or five drops but the quarterbacks can’t throw it and catch it.”

***
The Bills are already taking on water defensively in terms of personnel. They were already going to be without rookie defensive end Shaq Lawson for the first month of the season after he had post-draft shoulder surgery. Now, they’ve lost rookie linebacker Reggie Ragland to an ACL. Both players were ticketed to be Day 1 starters by GM Doug Whaley 

As a chaser, the team lost linebacker IK Enempkali Saturday night to what Ryan described as a “major” knee injury. Veteran DE Manny Lawson hasn’t participated yet in training camp with a pectoral injury. All of that is bad for business. The Patriots face the Bills in Week 4.

***
Jared Goff experienced shoulder stiffness and Carson Wentz fractured his ribs, so the quarterbacks who went 1 and 2 to the Rams and Eagles are already in different levels of disrepair after their first preseason game. In relation to Goff, that’s just the kind of thing that would make a head coach’s hands sweat, especially after four seasons in charge and 27 wins to show for it. But the head coach for the Rams is Jeff Fisher and he’s the sideline equivalent of a Supreme Court Justice appointment, so he’s going to get a contract extension soon.  

Fisher enjoys most-favored nation status with the NFL so Rams owner Stan Kroenke – who has the league to thank for puppeteering the Rams move to LA – knows Fisher is a shrewd guy to keep around even if he’s forever .500. 

 

NFL Draft picks No. 1-8: Tunsil sliding after video of bong hit surfaces

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NFL Draft picks No. 1-8: Tunsil sliding after video of bong hit surfaces

No access at Gillette? No first-round pick unless the Patriots make a swap into the latter stages of the round? No problem. We're all over it from the palatial offices here in Burlington. We go pick-by-pick through the first round.

Rams: Jared Goff, QB, Cal

“Is there anything you’d like to translate to the fans of the Los Angeles Rams?!?!” Deion Sanders wheezed into the face of Goff moments after he was selected. Goff, who to that point had done little but shake his head and “golly-gee” then had something else to be befuddled by. Goff will, for the next few years, provide adequate cover for Jeff Fisher to continue stealing money as an NFL head coach. Fisher – who’s won 8, 6, 7, 7, 6 and 7 games in his past six seasons and hasn’t coached a playoff win since 2003 – did as he was told by the league office and milked the clock all the way down before making the selection everyone knew the Rams would make when they mortgaged the future to make a 2016 splash in their new city.

Eagles: Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State

“Now, the competition really begins,” Deion Sanders told to Carson Wentz. “Who’s gonna prepare their team to the playoffs first?” Wentz, who fits the quarterback suit so much better than Goff, had to be stunned that he not only had to lead his team to the playoffs on the field but also prepare them there as well. Now the Eagles have to assuage the feelings of a former No. 1 overall pick, Sam Bradford, who’s pissed that the Eagles were going to draft a quarterback. And Wentz has to look at Bradford and make sure he doesn’t end up like him.

Chargers: Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State

“You fillllllleddddd with emotions,” Deion Sanders told Joey Bosa. “Give me the feeling right now.” The feeling from Bosa was surprise. He said he thought he’d be cooling off for another half-hour or 45 minutes before being selected but the Chargers brought the first eye-widener of the night by selecting Bosa who Pro Football Focus had as their No. 1. The Chargers knew it all along and didn’t tip their hands.

Cowboys: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State

“This kid can bring them right into the playoffs!” proclaimed NFL Network analyst Steve Mariucci. Whoa, Mooch. Whoa. First off, it’s a playoff team to begin with if Tony Romo doesn’t crack his collarbone again. Second off, running behind that offensive line with an outside receiver like Dez Bryant and a tight end like Jason Witten on the field, you don’t necessarily need to burn the fourth overall pick on a running back. But the Cowboys love their splash factor and Elliott provides one.

Jaguars: Jalen Ramsey, CB, Florida State

“You’re dancing,” Deion Sanders observed. “You’re exuding your swag. Are you happy right now?” Ramsey, the massive 6-1, 209-pound corner confirmed that he was. He also confirmed that he’s a shutdown corner. The Jaguars, as Senator Phil Perry noted as we watched the draft from our Burlington offices, are going to be good soon.

Ravens: Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame

“Folks,” said NFL Draft Analyst Mike Mayock, “he’s got 35 and three-quarter-inch arms.” Yes he does. And now he’s going to the Ravens where his physicality and toughness are going to enable Baltimore to plunk him down on Joe Flacco’s blind side and let him roll. Still doesn’t really address the issue of wide receiver talent aside from the ageless Steve Smith but what can you do. Stanley’s a good pick.

49ers: DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon

It was between Buckner and offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil at this point but just before the draft commenced, a video of Tunsil taking a bong hit while wearing a gas mask popped up on his Twitter feed. It was deleted and a hacking was blamed. And Buckner likely became the beneficiary of the Tunsil fiasco. My suspicion is Tonya Harding was behind it.

Titans: Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State

The Titans made a deal with the Rams, sending them the 15th overall pick to move up and get former walk-on Conklin. The Browns got the 15th overall pick in return and a third-rounder as well. And the Laremy Tunsil debacle rolls on as reports that the Ravens took Tunsil off their draft board when the video popped up. .