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Bolts closing in on 1st losing year under Turner


Bolts closing in on 1st losing year under Turner

SAN DIEGO (AP) With a quarter of the season still to play, everything is pointing toward the free-falling San Diego Chargers having their first losing record in Norv Turner's six years as head coach.

All but mathematically eliminated from the playoffs for the third straight season, odds are pretty good the Chargers (4-8) will clinch a losing record Sunday. They play at Pittsburgh, where they're 0-14 in regular-season games, and the Steelers (7-5) have beaten both the Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals. Plus, the Chargers have yet to beat a team with a winning record this season.

The Chargers are coming off home losses to the Ravens and Bengals in which they blew fourth-quarter leads.

They can't run the ball and Philip Rivers had two more crucial turnovers in Sunday's 20-13 loss to the Bengals.

Their offensive line, which couldn't protect Rivers even before a rash of injuries, is certain to have even more upheaval this week.

The Chargers were shut out in the second half on Sunday after taking a 13-10 halftime lead. They didn't score an offensive touchdown for the third time this season as they lost their fourth straight game and for the seventh time in eight games.

Now they have to face the Steelers, who, playing for the third week without Ben Roethlisberger, won 23-20 at AFC North-leading Baltimore on Sunday behind 37-year-old Charlie Batch. The Steelers are tied with the Bengals for the second AFC wild-card berth. They're two games behind the Ravens.

The Steelers have won the last three games against the Chargers, including a 38-28 playoff victory following the 2008 season.

The Chargers' only wins in Pittsburgh have been in the playoffs, a wild-card win after the 1982 season and their AFC championship game upset after the 1994 season that propelled them to their only Super Bowl.

Three-quarters of the way into the season, the Chargers still can't play a complete game. And they can't explain why they can't.

The Bengals went ahead on Andy Dalton's 6-yard scamper up the middle with 4:11 left Sunday, and San Diego's final two drives ended with turnovers by Rivers. The week before, they let Ray Rice convert on a fourth-and-29 dump-off pass and the Ravens won in overtime.

``It's not so much the fourth quarter,'' the embattled Turner said Monday. ``It stands out because it is the fourth quarter, but we have not been able to move the ball consistently in any quarter. And when we can make some plays we're able to move the ball. Sometimes you're able to scheme them, sometimes guys make plays. We've had too many negative plays that keep us from being a consistent team. It's not one guy.''

Safety Corey Lynch, who had an interception against the Bengals, was asked why the Chargers have trouble finishing.

``Every week I kind of ask myself that same question and there's just no words. I don't have an answer for that. It's been disappointing for all players, who I feel like when I'm on the sideline watching the game, everyone's giving 100 percent. I feel like when I'm in the game, playing the game, all my teammates are giving 100 percent. So, on Monday, I don't have an answer.''

Turner has had some revealing comments recently that seem to sum up the state of the Bolts' roster.

A week ago, Turner acknowledged the Chargers were outmanned by the Ravens in a number of areas.

After the loss to the Bengals, he said: ``I think there are a lot of guys that are playing about as good as they can play right now.''

On Monday, he said: ``I think we've played two really good football teams and I think we stood there toe-to-toe with them, and we've just come up short.''

The Steelers' defense provides a contrast to San Diego's lack of consistency.

Although Steelers stars Troy Polamalu and James Harrison have missed time this season, the Steelers lead the NFL in overall defense.

``I tell you one thing, when we put their depth chart up on the wall, we played them in 2008, and I think nine of the same guys are starting,'' Turner said. ``So you have great consistency in terms of through the years, they all know what each other's doing. The guys they have backing those guys up are young players that I think are talented guys that have filled in when they need to fill in for a guy. When you're filling in for one guy, I think we all know you have to do that through a season, that you're not going to have all 11 starters for every game. But they have a great scheme, they're certainly well-coached, they know what each other's doing, they know what each other's responsibility is and they execute it at a real high level.''

The Chargers will face that defense with an offensive line that could be without right tackle Jeromey Clary, left tackle Mike Harris and left guard Tyronne Green due to injuries.

``If we're in there with three new starting offensive linemen, guys that I haven't met yet, and we're playing the Steelers in Pittsburgh, it will be a challenge,'' Turner said.


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Ravens reopen training facility in Owings Mills without players and coaches

Ravens reopen training facility in Owings Mills without players and coaches

The Ravens reopened their training facility in Owings Mills, Maryland, on Tuesday under Phase I of the NFL’s process to reopen. This means that while the facility is open, players and coaches still cannot return.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan gave the green light last week that the Ravens could open their training facility and M&T Bank Stadium. 

According to the Ravens’ release, individuals returning to team facilities are mainly from the equipment crew, football video group, and the personnel department. The team is limited to a maximum of 75 people in the building at one time. Employees must wear masks and have their temperature checked before entering the building.

Phase II of the reopening process is to allow coaches, but still not players, into the facility — as long as the state allows for it. There has not been a date set for the beginning of Phase II.

For players and coaches to be in the facility at the same time, the Ravens indicated the target for the entire team to be together is for training camp, currently slated for the end of July. 

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Ravens wide receiver Miles Boykin heading to Florida to work out with Lamar

Ravens wide receiver Miles Boykin heading to Florida to work out with Lamar

The importance of Miles Boykin’s second season as a Raven cannot be overstated. 

After a strong offseason last year, one that included a standout training camp, Boykin went under the radar in his 2019 campaign. He posted just 13 catches for 198 yards in 16 games and caught three touchdown passes. He was targeted only 22 times all season. 

He was the team’s eighth leading receiver, in terms of catches and yards, and was fourth in targets at the receiver position.

Now, with two more rookies in the wide receiver room, the urgency Boykin is facing is palpable. 

“I just feel like I’m getting better as an all-around player,” Boykin said Tuesday on a conference call with reporters. “I’m capable of a lot more, I’ll be able to play faster this year and have more chemistry with Lamar and just be able to go out there and play the game the way I want to play.”

He’ll travel to Florida next week to throw with Lamar Jackson, wide receiver Marquise Brown and a host of other Ravens, in place of offseason workouts that have been canceled. In the meantime, he’s trained with fellow second-year player in quarterback Trace McSorley, who is closer to home for Boykin -- meaning workouts are less of an ordeal to make happen. 

Chemistry for Boykin will be important, as the Ravens shipped tight end Hayden Hurst to the Falcons in the offseason and have said they could look to become more of a passing team in the future. 

But the Ravens also drafted wideouts Devin Duvernay and James Proche in April’s draft, which muddies the water as to where the increased targets can come from. 

That’s where Boykin thinks he can step in with his experience in the wide receiver group.

“When you’re younger, you worry about, ‘What do I have to do?’” Boykin said. “When you’re older, you know, ‘Why am I doing this?’ Like, 'this makes sense.' Everything starts to roll off of it. Now I’m worried about how to do things right, I’m not worried about what I need to do right. That’s part of film study that you don’t have time for during the season.”

Boykin added he won’t be shy about helping those rookie wide receivers, though, as now he’ll be one of the veterans in the room just a year removed from his rooke season.

“I would say film is going to be huge, especially during July,” Boykin said. “Even though I wasn’t participating in OTAs, I was still involved in meetings, I was doing everything else. I just couldn’t practice because I was injured. Even then, for rookies, it gets hard and stressful because you’re trying to pick up a whole new playbook. In July, you have a chance to relax a little bit, and I don’t think it’s going to be like that this year, especially for rookies.”

Despite everything, from Boykin’s confidence to knowledge of the offense, the threat of coronavirus has dampened expectations for everyone across the league in terms of what can be expected. 

That’s not Boykin’s concern, however. Whenever the 2020 season comes, if it does, he knows he’ll be ready. 

“At the end of the day, I’m still playing football -- if we have a season, obviously,” Boykin said. “It doesn’t matter where I’m playing it, who I’m playing it against, football is football. There’s going to be 11 people on each side of the ball and I just have to go out there and do my job. It doesn’t affect me as much.”

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