Baltimore Ravens

NFL Notes: Odell Beckham Jr. (ankle) dealing with 3-4 week injury

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NFL Notes: Odell Beckham Jr. (ankle) dealing with 3-4 week injury

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has practiced on a limited basis for the first time since spraining his left ankle more than three weeks ago.

The three-time Pro Bowler took two steps in his recovery on Thursday. He took part in some individualized drills and followed that by participating in some team drills in preparation for Monday night's home opener against the Detroit Lions.

Beckham believes he is making progress, but he said his injury has a recovery time that could last two months, or even longer. He is pushing to get back on the field as soon as possible. He moved better than he did last week.

Beckham had not practiced since spraining his ankle in a preseason game on Aug. 21. He started stretching with his teammates during warmups last week, and took the next step on Thursday.

The three-time Pro Bowler was inactive for the Giants' 19-3 loss to the Cowboys on Sunday night, a game in which the offense was limited to 233 yards.

Ravens: Place RB Danny Woodhead on IR
OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The Ravens placed running back Danny Woodhead on injured reserve with a hamstring injury Thursday.

Woodhead injured his left leg in the first quarter of the season opener and did not return. He missed part of training camp with a hamstring injury to the same leg.

Coach John Harbaugh said Wednesday that the 32-year-old would miss "multiple weeks" and would be a candidate to return later in the season. He would be eligible to play again as soon as Week 11.

Woodhead signed a three-year contract with Baltimore in March after playing for the New York Jets, New England and San Diego. He played in only two games for the Chargers last season before suffering a season-ending knee injury.

The Ravens promoted running back Jeremy Langford from the practice squad to replace Woodhead on the active roster.

Patriots: Concussions "come with the physical nature of the game," says Brady
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady says in a television interview that he doesn't worry about concussions and considers them part of playing football.

In an interview with CBS Sunday Morning, Brady says: "I'm not oblivious to them. I mean, I understand the risks that, you know, come with the physical nature of our game."

Brady's wife, supermodel Gisele Bundchen, had said in an interview with the show in May that the quarterback has had concussions that weren't reported. Brady denied it, and a joint NFL and players union investigation found no evidence that the team failed to follow the league's policies.

The interview with Brady is scheduled to be broadcast this Sunday.

Fantasy football: Be cautious with this week's top waiver pickups

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Fantasy football: Be cautious with this week's top waiver pickups

The person who has the top waiver priority in your fantasy football league will likely be using it this week on Kerwynn Williams.

Let them.

Williams is the hot name on the waiver wire after the long-term injury to Cardinals running back David Johnson. Johnson is expected to miss 3 to 4 months, opening up tons of carries in Arizona's backfield.

But there is literally no comparison between Johnson and Williams. Johnson is an elite running back with vision, patience, speed, amazing hands and a knack for converting at the goal line. It's not like Williams is going to come in and be this 150-total-yards-per-game player. He might not even get the bulk of carries.

Keep in mind that Andre Ellington is still in that Cardinals backfield, and he actually outsnapped Williams in Week 1. The Cards have also brought back veteran RB Chris Johnson, who has experience in that offense.

In terms of running backs, I'd go for Chris Thompson or Shane Vereen well before I'd go for a Cardinals back, especially in PPR leagues. Thompson and Vereen are both available in 83 percent of Yahoo leagues. 

Thompson had four catches for 52 yards and a TD in the opener and has a consistent role in Washington's offense.

Vereen didn't have a carry for the Giants but caught 9 passes for 52 yards. In a Giants offense with a skittish Eli Manning, there could be plenty of similar games in his future.

Here's a quick overview of the popular waiver wire players this week and whether you should go all-in on one of them.

Ravens D/ST
To me, the top pickup of the week is not a skill player, it's the Ravens' defense. Somehow, Baltimore's defense is available in 50 percent of Yahoo leagues. 

After pitching a shutout of the Bengals in Week 1, the Ravens get the Browns at home in Week 2. 

Home-field advantage might not mean a ton in today's NFL, but it has meant a lot for the Ravens' defense in recent years. Last season, Baltimore allowed an average of 14.8 points at home. (That includes the 26 points the Eagles hung on them in Week 15.)

The last time the Ravens hosted the Browns, they won 28-7, forced three turnovers and had four sacks. That translates to right around 15 fantasy points.

But it's not just the Ravens' Week 2 matchup that makes them, in my mind, the most impactful pickup this week. In Week 3, they face the turnover-prone Jaguars, who just lost their top wide receiver, Allen Robinson, to an ACL tear. 

Looking ahead, there might not be a single better defense to have in the fantasy playoffs. In Week 15, semifinal week, the Ravens play the Browns again. In Week 16, they get the Colts, who at that point might have shut Andrew Luck down for the season given how much of a trainwreck they could be by midseason.

Look, if you have massive holes on your roster, maybe a skill player makes more sense for you this week. But if your choices are picking up Cooper Kupp or Williams just to keep them on the bench, why not pick up a starter? The Ravens' defense is a starter in fantasyland.

WR Cooper Kupp (Rams)
There's a lot to like about Kupp, especially in PPR leagues. He caught 4 of 5 targets for 76 yards and a TD in his NFL debut after a preseason full of hype.

But be cautious with guys like this. If you have a Pierre Garcon, a Golden Tate, a Randall Cobb, even a Cole Beasley ... are you really going to confidently start Kupp ahead of them most weeks? If the answer is no, then he's not worth $30 out of your $100 free-agent purse. 

Kupp is definitely a player worth picking up in leagues that start three wide receivers in addition to a flex. But if you're in a 2-WR league, it's just hard to imagine there being too many weeks where he's a clearly better option than what you have on the bench or what is readily available in free agency.

RB Tarik Cohen (Bears)
Cohen turned heads in Week 1 with 113 total yards, eight receptions and a receiving TD. His exciting game will make him an exciting pickup for some owners this week.

Just keep in mind that despite his impressive debut, Cohen received just 42 percent of the Bears' snaps. Jordan Howard was on the field for 57 percent. Howard has not been supplanted.

The more important point, though, is that the Bears' next six games are against good to very good teams — at Bucs, vs. Steelers, at Packers, vs. Vikings, at Ravens, vs. Panthers. They figure to face larger deficits in those games than they did in the Week 1 nailbiter with Atlanta, and unless Cohen becomes a Mark Ingram-like checkdown machine, his presence might not be as important the next month and a half.

Cohen isn't going to be targeted 12 times in the passing game every week. He's obviously worth a pickup if you have Howard or even if you have an extra bench spot, but don't automatically throw him into the lineup this week.

RB Buck Allen (Ravens)
I'd prioritize Allen over both Williams and Cohen. Danny Woodhead is expected to miss 6 to 8 weeks with his hamstring injury, and Terrance West is barely ever on the field on third downs, meaning Allen will have a consistent role in an offense that utilizes short passes. Allen also carried the ball 21 times in Week 1.

Allen was an intriguing running back two years ago when Justin Forsett went down for Baltimore, and he is again just that with Woodhead hurt and Kenneth Dixon not currently in the picture.

WR Nelson Agholor (Eagles)
Same points with Agholor as with Kupp. My big thing with fantasy pickups is: Will you ever confidently start this player? Remember Kevin Ogletree several years ago after his explosive Week 1?

To me, Agholor is not even worth wasting your spot in the waiver order. Not unless he does this two or three weeks in a row.

WR Kenny Golladay (Lions)
This is a wide receiver worth using an early claim on. Golladay was a preseason darling who turned in two TDs in Week 1 and appears to already have a rapport with Matthew Stafford. 

Golladay was the clear No. 3 wide receiver for Detroit in terms of snaps, behind Golden Tate and Marvin Jones. But at the very least, he's shown he can be an impact player even if he's third in the pecking order. He could be this year's Jamison Crowder.

Under the radar options
Here are some guys that you might not even need to use a waiver claim on. Just wait for waivers to pass and you could probably have one of them for free, without losing free-agent bucks or your spot in the waiver order:

• Jets WR Jermaine Kearse: 9 targets, 7 catches, 59 yards in his first game with a Jets team that badly needs someone to throw the ball to.

• Seahawks WR Paul Richardson: Clearly ahead of Tyler Lockett in Week 1, Richardson caught 4 passes for 59 yards and played 41 of 49 offensive snaps, just two fewer than Doug Baldwin.

NFL Notes: Lions give QB Matthew Stafford 5-year contract extension

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NFL Notes: Lions give QB Matthew Stafford 5-year contract extension

DETROIT -- Matthew Stafford has made a home in the Motor City, leading the Detroit Lions on the field and becoming a first-time father with twin girls earlier this year.

"Aggressive start," Stafford recently cracked.

The Lions, likewise, made an aggressive move to keep their franchise quarterback around for many more years with the richest contract in NFL history.

Stafford agreed to a $135 million extension, according to a person familiar with the deal. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because financial terms of the contract were not disclosed. The team announced the five-year deal keeps Stafford under contract through the 2022 season.

He was entering the last year of his $53 million, three-year deal.

Stafford stood to get quite a raise and did, getting more than the $125 million, five-year contract the Oakland Raiders gave Derek Carr this summer (see full story).

Ravens: Harbaugh receives contract extension
OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The Baltimore Ravens have given coach John Harbaugh a contract extension, even though the team has missed the playoffs in three of the past four years.

Harbaugh started this season with a contract that stretched through 2018. The Ravens did not disclose the length of the new deal.

Since his arrival in 2008, Harbaugh has taken Baltimore to the postseason six times. The Ravens played in the AFC title game in 2008, 2011 and 2012, and he guided Baltimore to a Super Bowl victory in the 2012 season.

In nine years with the Ravens, Harbaugh is 85-59 during the regular season and 10-5 in the playoffs.

Over the past four years, however, Baltimore has had one winning season. The Ravens were 8-8 in 2013, 10-6 in 2014, then 5-11 and 8-8 last season.

Texans: Team longs for Houston home after storm
FRISCO, Texas -- Tom Savage longs to hold his tiny daughter and spend some quality time with his wife.

J.J. Watt wants to do more than raise money via video on social media about 250 miles from Houston with the city swamped by floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey.

While wanting simply to be home with family and friends, the Texans are instead stranded in the Dallas area. And now what was supposed to be a home preseason game against Dallas will be played at the Cowboys' stadium Thursday night.

"It's very, very tough," said Watt, the star defensive end who posted Monday that a fundraising effort that included selfie videos had raised more than $500,000 within 24 hours. "It's very difficult to watch, your family, your friends, your city, go through a time like this and not be there to help."

After losing an exhibition game at New Orleans on Saturday, the Texans essentially flew over their flood-stricken city on the way to Dallas. They practiced Monday at Cowboys headquarters, and were hotel hopping because of the uncertainty over what was next.

The NFL said late Monday afternoon that the exhibition game Thursday night was being moved to Arlington "due to public safety concerns resulting from the ongoing weather emergency related to Hurricane Harvey." The statement said the league and Texans would continue to closely monitor the situation in Houston and adjust the team's plans as necessary (see full story).

Bengals: Burfict suspended 5 games for hit
CINCINNATI -- Linebacker Vontaze Burfict missed the first three games last season because of his hit to Antonio Brown's head in the playoffs. He'll miss the first five this season thanks to another rattling hit, this time during a preseason game.

The NFL has suspended the Cincinnati Bengals' defensive leader for leveling a Chiefs running back in violation of its player safety rules, the latest in Burfict's history of egregious hits that have drawn fines and suspensions.

Burfict hit running back Anthony Sherman in the chest this month during a pass play in which he was not the intended receiver, knocking him to the ground. The NFL has been cracking down on such hits as part of its emphasis on player safety.

Burfict was suspended for his hit to Antonio Brown's head on an incomplete pass during a first-round playoff game in the 2015 season. The resulting personal foul moved the Steelers into field goal range in the closing seconds for an 18-16 victory at Paul Brown Stadium (see full story).

Chiefs: LB Ragland acquired from Bills
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Linebacker Reggie Ragland will get a fresh start in Kansas City after the Chiefs acquired the second-year player in a trade with the Buffalo Bills.

In exchange, the Bills acquired a fourth-round pick in the 2019 draft.

The Chiefs land a player with the potential of being an upgrade for Josh Mauga, who was released earlier in the day. Ragland also gets a chance to play in a three-lineman, four-linebacker-styled defense, which he was accustomed to at Alabama.

For the Bills, they cut ties with a 2016 second-round draft pick who was in jeopardy of being cut this weekend when teams establish their 53-player roster.

The Bills drafted Ragland because he was considered an ideal fit in former coach Rex Ryan's defense. That changed when Ryan was fired and replaced by Sean McDermott, who prefers a 4-3 system.

Ragland missed all of last season after tearing a ligament in his left knee during training camp.