Ezekiel Elliott

NFL Notes: Ezekiel Elliott drops appeal, will serve rest of suspension

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NFL Notes: Ezekiel Elliott drops appeal, will serve rest of suspension

FRISCO, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott has dropped his appeal with five games remaining on his six-game suspension over alleged domestic violence.

Elliott's agents said Wednesday the decision by last year's NFL rushing leader "is in no way an admission of wrongdoing." They said Elliott's decision came from "a practical assessment of the current legal landscape."

Elliott had a hearing set in a federal appeals court on Dec. 1, four games into the suspension.

He served the first game in Dallas' 27-7 loss to Atlanta last weekend. By accepting the six games, Elliott is eligible to return for the final two games: Dec. 24 at home against Seattle and Dec. 31 at Philadelphia.

The 22-year-old Elliott was suspended in August after the league concluded following a yearlong investigation that he had several physical confrontations in the summer of 2016 with Tiffany Thompson, his girlfriend at the time. Prosecutors in Ohio didn't pursue the case. Elliott denied the allegations under oath during his NFL appeal (see full story).

Bills: QB Taylor benched in favor of rookie
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Rather than continue watching a pedestrian offense muddle through a third consecutive game, Bills coach Sean McDermott sent his team a jolt by making an abrupt change at quarterback.

Tyrod Taylor was benched Wednesday and rookie fifth-round pick Nathan Peterman will make his first career start on Sunday, when Buffalo (5-4) plays at the Los Angeles Chargers (3-6).

McDermott acknowledged taking a "calculated risk" in making the switch at a time when the Bills have a winning record. They sit sixth in the AFC standings, and control their own destiny in a bid to end a 17-season playoff drought -- the longest active streak in North America's four major professional sports.

"This is about becoming better as a football team," he said. "As a decision maker, you have to be able to or willing to take calculated risks to get to where we're trying to go. And I'm comfortable doing that,” (see full story).

Browns: Team upset with comments by Gipson
BEREA, Ohio -- Several Cleveland players feel disrespected by Jacksonville safety Tashaun Gipson's harsh comments about the Browns.

Gipson was a Pro Bowler with the Browns before the team chose not to re-sign him as a free agent after the 2015 season.

Earlier this week, Gipson took some swipes at Cleveland's front office for letting him leave, predicted the Jaguars will score 40 points this Sunday against the NFL's only winless team and believes the Browns will "probably go 0-16."

Browns linebacker Christian Kirksey said Gipson is only trying to "rile up" his teammates, but that his words have provided some extra motivation. Kirksey and Gipson are close friends.

Rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer said he's looking forward to "prove him wrong with those comments."

Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said he addressed Gipson's comments with his team and that the safety will not be disciplined (see full story).

Vikings: Sticking with Keenum at QB
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Case Keenum will start again at quarterback this week for the Minnesota Vikings.

This time he'll face his former team, the Los Angeles Rams.

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer announced Wednesday that Keenum will keep his place running an offense that produced a season-high 38 points in the previous game at Washington. The Vikings host the Rams Sunday.

With Teddy Bridgewater back on the active roster, he's widely expected to take over sooner than later. The Vikings have won five straight games with some strong performances by Keenum, though, so a change now would be strange.

Keenum has started five and finished six of the team's seven victories this season, relieving Sam Bradford because of knee trouble. Bridgewater has not played in a non-preseason game in more than 22 months.

Best of NFL: Ezekiel Elliott-less Cowboys a disaster in Atlanta

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Best of NFL: Ezekiel Elliott-less Cowboys a disaster in Atlanta

ATLANTA -- The Dallas Cowboys knew it would be tough to get by without Ezekiel Elliott.

Turns out, they missed Tyron Smith even more.

With their starting left tackle sidelined by back and groin injuries, the Cowboys surrendered six sacks to Adrian Clayborn in one of the greatest pass rushing performances in NFL history.

The result: an ugly 27-7 loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.

"The next man up has to be ready on a moment's notice," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "We didn't handle the adversity of the day."

After three legal reprieves, Elliott finally began serving a six-game suspension for allegations of domestic abuse. There was certainly no replacing a dynamic back who led the league in rushing as a rookie.

Alfred Morris started in Elliott's place and broke off a 20-yard run, but the former Pro Bowler really didn't have much of an impact. He finished with 11 carries for 53 yards (see full recap).

Loss to winless 49ers increases heat on Giants coach McAdoo
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- C.J. Beathard threw for 288 yards and two touchdowns and ran for a third score to lead the San Francisco 49ers to their first win of the season with a 31-21 victory over the New York Giants on Sunday.

Beathard connected on an 83-yard TD to Marquise Goodwin and a 47-yarder to Garrett Celek in the second quarter as the 49ers (1-9) took advantage of another listless effort by the Giants (1-8) to win for the first time under coach Kyle Shanahan.

Beathard's time as starting quarterback in San Francisco figures to be numbered after the team acquired Jimmy Garoppolo two weeks ago in a trade from New England. Garoppolo has been learning the offense and could take over when the team returns from the bye in two weeks.

While the Niners could be making a quarterback change soon, this performance will only heighten the questions about whether the Giants will need to change coaches. Ben McAdoo has been under fire after a report this past week from ESPN that quoted an anonymous player as saying the players have given up on the season and don't view McAdoo as a leader.

The Giants have not fired a coach during the season since 1976 when Bill Arnsparger was let go after a 0-7 start and replaced by John McVay, who had more success as an executive who helped build the 49ers dynasty in the 1980s (see full recap).

Jared Goff leads Rams to 4th straight win
LOS ANGELES -- Robert Woods caught two of Jared Goff's three touchdown passes during a dominant third quarter, and the surging Los Angeles Rams returned after a month away from home for their fourth straight victory, 33-7 over the depleted Houston Texans on Sunday.

After struggling to a 9-7 lead during a quiet first half for the NFL's highest-scoring team, the Rams (7-2) ran away with a series of big throws by Goff, who passed for a career-high 355 yards.

Woods caught a 94-yard TD pass to break it open before Sammy Watkins and Woods made TD catches 19 seconds apart late in the third quarter. The Rams defense shut out Houston in the second half and won at the Coliseum for just the third time in 11 games since returning to Los Angeles last season.

Woods finished with eight catches for 171 yards, making the longest catch of his NFL career before following it up with a 12-yard TD.

Bruce Ellington caught a 26-yard TD pass for the Texans (3-6), who have lost three straight and four of five.

Tom Savage passed for 221 yards with two interceptions for Houston, which lost its second straight since losing rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson for the season with a knee injury (see full recap).

Rash of star injuries will help Eagles down stretch

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Rash of star injuries will help Eagles down stretch

Any observer who follows the NFL on a weekly basis can tell you it is incredibly unpredictable. There was a strong contingent of folks who prior to the season believed the New York Jets would not win a game. They already have four victories through nine games. 

The L.A. Rams, who won all of four games last season, are off to a 6-2 start. 

Jacksonville has a better record than the NFC champion Falcons. 

Even Cleveland ... oh wait, never mind. But you get the point. There's a reason why Vegas has all of those big, fancy buildings and why your friendly neighborhood buddy who you call every Sunday, Monday, and Thursday continues to keep taking those calls. They're making money off of you and the betting public because this is a tough league to predict. 

It's difficult to win on a weekly basis in the NFL. Which makes the Eagles' 8-1 start and streak of seven straight wins that much more impressive. Simply put, they have played better football than any other team through nine games. This has been no fluke. It should be pointed out, however, that in those first nine games, only two of those teams currently have a winning record, the Chiefs and Panthers. Certainly not the Eagles' fault — they've contributed to the fact that the Redskins are 4-4, handing them two of those losses. But the schedule gets tougher down the stretch as they face 5-3 Dallas twice, the 6-3 Seahawks and the aforementioned 6-2 Rams. Three of those games come on the road.

And while the Eagles themselves have suffered some major losses with season-ending injuries to Jason Peters, Jordan Hicks and Darren Sproles, the teams they have coming up over their final seven games will be without some big-time firepower as well. Let's take a look.

Cowboys — Week 11 and 17
Stop me if you've heard this before but Ezekiel Elliott is suspended. At least for right now. The Birds would miss him a week from Sunday at Dallas. He would be eligible to return for the season finale in Philadelphia. Who knows if that game will hold any meaning to the Eagles. Elliott rushed for an NFL-high 1,631 yards, 5.1 yards per carry and 15 touchdowns as a rookie and was the second-leading rusher this season prior to the suspension. 

The Cowboys are a vastly different team without Elliott and there will be a great deal more pressure on Dak Prescott if their run game does not flourish with Alfred Morris and Darren McFadden. Not to mention a defense that could be exposed if the Cowboys can't control the ball or put up a lot of points.

Seahawks — Week 13
The Seahawks were dealt a major blow when they lost cornerback Richard Sherman for the season to a torn Achilles Thursday night. Sherman is a shutdown corner who has accumulated 32 interceptions in seven seasons. And at 6-foot-3, he is a physical, willing tackler. Sherman's absence will really change the dynamic of a Seahawks defense that, while still very good, is not quite what it once was a few years back. 

With Sherman in the game Thursday, Cardinals QB Drew Stanton rarely threw to his side. Once Sherman left, the Cardinals threw to that side with regularity.

Giants — Week 15
New York is a hide-the-children-and-pets kind of bad this season. Ben McAdoo and his coif shouldn't be buying any green bananas but this was a team that won 11 games and made the playoffs last year. So what happened? Injuries for one. The Giants will be without arguably the league's best receiver in Odell Beckham Jr. in Week 15 vs. the Eagles, not to mention Brandon Marshall. 

Injuries aren't the only reason this team is 1-7. They've had players go AWOL, their O-line stinks, Eli Manning may be nearing the end of the road, and McAdoo appears to be lost. But no Beckham in a game that late in the season that may have major playoff implications for the Eagles. It could be huge. Especially coming off what appears a very tough back-to-back on the road at Seattle and at Los Angeles against the Rams.

I, for one, don't subscribe to the "give me the other teams' best" school of thinking. If the Eagles can miss Elliott for a game, or Sherman, or OBJ, great. When you've never won a Super Bowl, I'll take the path of least resistance. I'm pretty sure Cowboys or Rams fans aren't shedding any tears over Jason Peters being out in those games. Take it any way you can get it. And enjoy the ride.