NFL Notes: League looking into Terrelle Pryor racism claims against KC fans

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NFL Notes: League looking into Terrelle Pryor racism claims against KC fans

WASHINGTON -- The NFL is looking into a situation Monday night at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City during which Washington Redskins wide receiver Terrelle Pryor says he was called racist names and cursed at by a fan.

Pryor posted on Instagram story on Wednesday that it got so bad during the game against the Chiefs that a league employee had to stand by him from the second quarter on. Pryor apologized to teammates and the organization for "flicking the person off."

NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart said the league is looking into "all aspects" of Pryor's claim and will report back when the review is complete. Lockhart added that the league has "no tolerance for racial remarks directed at anyone in a stadium" and said those fans are not welcome to come back "this week, next week or any time."

On Instagram, Pryor says the comments are the reason players are kneeling during the national anthem. He says he didn't kneel because he and his teammates decided to stand together (see full story).

Raiders: Carr returns to practice after back injury
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr returned to the practice field four days after breaking a bone in his back.

Carr took snaps and threw a few light passes Thursday during the open period of practice. E.J. Manuel is expected to start Sunday for the Raiders (2-2) against Baltimore (2-2).

Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said Monday that Carr has a transverse process fracture in his back after taking a hard hit last week in Denver. Del Rio says the injury usually takes between two and six weeks to heal, although Cam Newton and Tony Romo came back after missing one game with similar injuries in 2014.

Left tackle Donald Penn talked to Carr earlier in the day and said the quarterback told him he was "very ahead of schedule."

Chargers: Rookie kicker Koo waived, Novak re-signed
COSTA MESA, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Chargers have re-signed kicker Nick Novak, waiving rookie Younghoe Koo after just four games.

The Chargers (0-4) made the moves Thursday.

Novak is a 13-year NFL veteran who has kicked for eight franchises, including the San Diego Chargers from 2011-14. He made 101 of his 117 field goal attempts for the Chargers before spending the past two seasons with Houston.

Novak was released by the Texans last month after losing a competition with Ka'imi Fairbairn, the former UCLA kicker.

Koo became the fourth NFL player born in South Korea after winning the job in a camp competition with incumbent Josh Lambo.

Koo went 3 for 6 on field goal attempts for Los Angeles. The Georgia Southern product's potential tying field goal was blocked in the Chargers' season opener at Denver.

Koo then missed two field goals in their 19-17 loss to Miami one week later, including a 44-yarder at the final gun.

Giants: Banged-up defense now proving unreliable
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The defense that a year ago carried the New York Giants to their first playoff berth since 2011 has suddenly become unreliable.

Steve Spagnuolo's unit is no longer stopping the run, it is giving up big plays, missing tackles, and now it is fighting injuries heading into Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Chargers, who like they Giants are winless in four games.

Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon both missed their second straight practice Thursday and that never bodes well for playing the weekend.

Vernon, who has never missed a game, aggravated a sprained ankle against the Buccaneers and missed the second half. Pierre-Paul hurt a shoulder early but never left the game. However, he was never a factor in the game and he said he didn't like what he put on film.

The Giants will have a recovery day on Friday and a final practice Saturday.

"Definitely expect to practice on Saturday and be playing Sunday," Pierre-Paul said Thursday. "It's not a secret. Everybody that knows me knows I'm going to play" (see full story).

Eagles Film Review: How the run game erupted against the Chargers

Eagles Film Review: How the run game erupted against the Chargers

In his press conference earlier in the week Doug Pederson said, as a team, “every week you go in and try to establish your run game.” Last week, the Eagles did this by utilizing a zone run scheme.

The reason: The Chargers' defense under Anthony Lynn and Gus Bradley specializes in slanting defensive linemen one direction while the linebackers head the opposite direction to fill running lanes. A man-to-man blocking scheme against this type of scheme could mean a long day for the best of offensive lines. To lighten the load on his hogs up front, Pederson gave the Chargers defense a heavy dose of zone runs. 

There are some keys in the zone-blocking scheme that the Eagles executed nicely in Week 4.

Here, in the beginning of the second quarter, is an example of a zone run using the technique called pin and pull. The guard and tackle pin down their side of the line. On the backside, whichever player is uncovered with no defender in front of him will pull around the formation and block the first opposite color he sees. 

Lane Johnson and Brandon Brooks (pointed out with black arrows) are your pin-down men. Chance Warmack is your pulling man with the yellow arrow.

With Johnson squarely in front of his man, Brooks sealing off the defensive tackle and working to the second level and Warmack on the kick-out block, LeGarrette Blount is able to pick his running lane and go for 10 yards.


With this zone scheme, you have to imagine a railroad laid down on the line of scrimmage going from sideline to sideline. Each blocker's job within the box is to move themselves and anyone in front of them left or right down the line of scrimmage depending on the play call. Here the play call is to the left.

You see that each blocker's first steps are to the left, where the play is headed. Each blocker is responsible for an area, not a man. The objective is to keep the defensive line moving, allowing the running back to pick a lane to hit.

Now, this particular play was a 5-yard loss, but it's good to show why keeping your shoulders parallel to the line of scrimmage is important. Stefen Wisniewski turns his shoulders to seal off the defensive tackle, but that opens up a gap for a linebacker to shoot, resulting in a negative play for the Eagles.


This, along with pin and pull, provided Pederson with his most running success Sunday. Here, on first down midway through the second quarter, the Chargers have both defensive tackles either shading one side of an Eagles' lineman or directly in a gap.

The Eagles do a great job of collapsing both defensive tackles, creating multiple lanes for Blount to run through.

Lane Johnson ignoring trash talk, shutting up one top pass rusher after another

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Lane Johnson ignoring trash talk, shutting up one top pass rusher after another

Lane Johnson thinks about his 10-game suspension from last season every day. Even if he didn't, his opponents wouldn't let him forget. 

On Sunday, before the game in Carson, California, one Chargers player made sure to get a dig in. 

Defensive tackle Damion Square greeted Johnson by calling him "Roid Boy." 

"He was joking and having fun," Johnson said of Square, who was suspended four games in 2016 for a PED violation himself after missing a random test. "It's still the stuff that will make you mad." 

Johnson uses moments like that as motivation — "Whenever we got on the field, we settled it," he said — but he definitely doesn't need any reminders. 

Johnson was suspended for 10 games last season for his second-career PED violation. In his absence, the Eagles crumbled and missed the playoffs after a 3-1 start with him. 

"I think about it every day," he said. "Every time I come in here, I think about all the games that I missed and let my teammates down. I try to give it back whenever I'm on the field or at practice. I just try to give it back whenever I can."

This is about the time the Eagles lost Johnson for those 10 games last season. And coincidentally — or maybe it's not a coincidence — they've started a second straight season at 3-1. 

But this time, Johnson doesn't appear to be going anywhere.  

Johnson has been playing at a high level throughout the first four games of the 2017 season, which shouldn't be much of a surprise. He was playing at a similar level when he was on the field in 2016. It's hard not to look at the correlation between Johnson's availability and the Eagles' record. 

Since the start of last year, the Eagles are 8-2 with Johnson and they're 2-8 without him. Johnson is well aware. 

"I think I help this team," he said. "I'm not trying to be arrogant. I think when I'm in there, I definitely help this team out. On the field and off the field, I like this group of guys. I see them as my brothers and guys that I enjoy being around and enjoy being friends with. So whenever I'm away from this place in the offseason, I just miss the guys and camaraderie we have here. It's something special."

So far this season, Johnson has played all 295 offensive snaps. He's given up just one sack, two QB hits and two QB hurries this season. 

That's even more impressive considering he's faced Ryan Kerrigan, Justin Houston, Jason Pierre-Paul, Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. 

"Lane has played very well, like you said, against top-notch opponents every week and it's really going to continue throughout the whole year," offensive coordinator Frank Reich said. "Looking at the schedule in advance, even before the season, we could see that was going to happen. So I imagine that was part of his motivation the whole offseason."

This Sunday, there's a good chance Johnson will see a healthy dose of Chandler Jones, who is averaging a sack per game through the first four. 

It doesn't get any easier from there. 

"I still got Von Miller and Khalil Mack, so it's just how it is this season," Johnson said. 

At 320-325 pounds, Johnson feels stronger than he's ever been before. And his offseason hand work has improved his pass protection. He was already one of the Eagles' best players and now he's convinced he's better. 

He just needs to stay on the field. He couldn't do that last year thanks to the suspension. 

Square isn't the only player who has chirped at Johnson about his suspensions. In fact, a couple years ago he remembers Jones, then with the Patriots, bringing it up when the two faced off. 

So far this season, though, Johnson has been able to shut everyone up. 

"Usually when you're trying to kick somebody's butt, if you're doing well, the talking kind of stops," Johnson said. "JPP before the game against the Giants was all dancing around, doing this, doing that. It all comes down to how you play on the field."