Cooper, Yeldon make big impact for top-ranked Tide


Cooper, Yeldon make big impact for top-ranked Tide

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Alabama's freshman playmakers are coming of age just when the top-ranked Crimson Tide will need them most.

Amari Cooper and T.J. Yeldon each scored two touchdowns Saturday in Alabama's 44-13 rout of Tennessee. Cooper caught seven passes and set an Alabama freshman single-game record with 162 receiving yards. Yeldon rushed for 129 yards on 15 carries to go over the century mark for the third time this season.

Cooper and Yeldon weren't made available to reporters after the game. Alabama coach Nick Saban has a policy of not allowing freshmen to speak to the media. They still made quite a statement with their performances as Alabama's offense delivered arguably its most complete performance of the season.

``Everyone has to understand that we are going to take what the defense gives us,'' said Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron, who now leads the nation in passing efficiency. ``One week, we might have to throw it and the next we might have to run it more. Tonight, we got them on their heels a little and we were able to do both.''

Alabama (7-0, 4-0 SEC) has won each of its games by at least 19 points, but the Tide have greater challenges ahead. Alabama's next three games are all against ranked SEC Western Division rivals: No. 13 Mississippi State, No. 6 LSU and No. 22 Texas A&M. The Mississippi State and Texas A&M games are at home, but Alabama will have to travel to LSU.

Cooper certainly seems ready for the challenge.

The 6-foot-1 receiver from Miami opened the scoring Saturday by getting behind the entire Tennessee secondary and catching a 23-yard touchdown pass in the right corner of the end zone. He also helped put the game out of reach in the third quarter with a 42-yard touchdown reception that extended Alabama's lead to 30-10.

His big day could have been even bigger. In Alabama's opening possession of the second half, Cooper had an apparent 30-yard touchdown nullified by an illegal formation penalty.

``He can be one of the greatest,'' Alabama tight end Michael Williams said. ``You see it. You can see the talent that he has.''

Cooper already has emerged as McCarron's favorite target. He has 28 receptions, twice as many as any of his teammates. He also has 425 yards receiving, 173 more than anyone else on the team. This marked his second two-touchdown performance in his last three games, as he also reached the end zone twice Sept. 29 in a 33-14 victory over Ole Miss.

``We think he's an outstanding player,'' Saban said. ``He's just a freshman, and he's gotten better and better every week. He has learned to be very consistent in how he plays. He plays fast and hard.''

Yeldon has been equally impressive. The 6-2 running back from Daphne, Ala., has exceeded the 100-yard mark and has scored a pair of touchdowns in each of Alabama's last two games.

When C.J. Mosley's interception gave Alabama the ball at the Tennessee 32 early in the second quarter, the Tide reached the end zone by handing the ball to Yeldon four straight times. Yeldon capped that drive with a 1-yard scoring burst and added a 43-yard breakaway in the fourth quarter for Alabama's final touchdown.

Yeldon, who had verbally committed to Auburn before signing with Alabama, has teamed up with junior Eddie Lacy to give the Tide a remarkably balanced rushing attack. Lacy has rushed for 570 yards and seven touchdowns while averaging 5.8 yards per carry. Yeldon has run for 565 yards and six touchdowns while averaging 6.8 yards per attempt.

Cooper and Yeldon arrived at Alabama this year as part of a recruiting class generally regarded as the best in the nation. Their performance Saturday backed up the comments Tennessee coach Derek Dooley had made before the game in reference to Alabama's extraordinary talent base.

``They draft. We recruit,'' Dooley quipped. ``And they get the first 25 picks of the draft.''

In that case, consider Cooper and Yeldon a pair of first-round picks. If they keep up this pace, both eventually could be actual first-round selections.

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With Caps in Vancouver, Jay Beagle receives his ring

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With Caps in Vancouver, Jay Beagle receives his ring

On June 7 in Las Vegas, Jay Beagle was in a Capitals uniform as they hoisted their first Stanley Cup in franchise history. Three weeks later, the 33-year-old signed a four-year, $12-million contract with the Vancouver Canucks

The Capitals begin a four-game, Canadian road trip this evening in Vancouver. Beagle did not attend the Capitals ring ceremony at the Palm three weeks ago so the Caps awarded Beagle with his ring today.

Each ring contains 252 diamonds, 35 rubies and one sapphire. Beagle was impressed but isn't sure how much use the ring will get.

“Not sure I’ll wear it again. It’s like wearing my truck.”

Jay Beagle will not be on the ice tonight against his former team. Beagle broke his forearm when he blocked a shot against the Florida Panthers on October 13th. Beagle is expected to be sidelined for another five weeks.

Despite the injury, it has still been a great week for Beagle. 

A shiny, new ring AND a baby girl. Not too shabby.


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As injuries linger at WR, Jay Gruden believes a trade might help Redskins

As injuries linger at WR, Jay Gruden believes a trade might help Redskins

The Dallas Cowboys traded for Amari Cooper on Monday, and with that, alarms go off around the NFL that it's wheeling and dealing season. The trade deadline hits in one week, and for teams looking to bolster their squad before the second half of the year, it's time to see what areas could improve. 

For Redskins head coach Jay Gruden, the injury situation at wide receiver means that his team could use help at the position. 

"We could probably use one more there if we could," Gruden said Monday on the Redskins Talk podcast. 

Asked if there was one area the team could bolster via trade, the coach explained that if wideouts Jamison Crowder or Paul Richardson could come back from injury right away, the Redskins would have no need to trade for another receiver. Unfortunately for the Redskins, neither injury situation is very clear, and some reports show that Crowder could miss a few more weeks working back from an ankle injury. 

"I think if you look at our team right now with the injuries to Crowder and obviously the uncertainty with Richardson you might want to add another receiver, but I like what [Michael] Floyd’s done coming in here," Gruden said. 

Floyd had one catch for 20 yards in the Redskins win on Sunday over the Cowboys, but he's a physical veteran that has the coach excited. Gruden also complimented what Maurice Harris and Brian Quick have done in the absence of Richardson and Crowder.

While the Cowboys struck first in the receiver trade market, more players remain reportedly available, including Broncos WR Demaryius Thomas and Dolphins WR DeVante Parker. 

Thomas is a five-time Pro Bowler in Denver, but at 30 years old and with some trade value, it makes sense for John Elway to consider his market. The Broncos are 3-4 and have an underperforming offense. 

Parker was a first-round pick in 2015 but has not had a 1,000-yard season in Miami. Making matters more complicated, Parker's agent Jimmy Gould called Dolphins head coach Adam Gase "incompetent" to a host of different media outlets. Parker has only been active twice this season though he contends health is not an issue. 

Gruden remains confident that 2016 first-round pick Josh Doctson will get going, and he is a similar big target as Thomas and Parker. Should Richardson miss significant time, the Redskins would lack a true speed threat.

There's certainly no clear indication that Washington will make a move before the NFL trade deadline, but as things stand now with injuries, there is a need. Remember, too, the Redskins are long on 2019 draft picks with 10 selections in seven rounds.