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It's official: Shafer takes over at Syracuse

It's official: Shafer takes over at Syracuse

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) As he addressed the media at his first press conference as coach, Syracuse's Scott Shafer briefly fumbled for words as he looked over at his wife and two children and thought about his father.

``(Being a head coach) has been a goal of mine since I was 10 years old because I was influenced by my dad. I just have so many vivid memories of the influence that he had on so many young men and young women,'' Shafer said Friday as he remembered his father, Ron, a high school coach who died in 1994. ``I came home for the funeral and I can remember as a couple of thousand people lined up outside waiting to see my dad. He touched everyone, and that's always been a goal of mine.

``It's hard not to be emotional about this sort of thing, but at a very young age I just knew it was something great.''

Defensive coordinator the past four years for the Orange, Shafer succeeds Doug Marrone, who resigned and was named coach of the Buffalo Bills on Monday.

Marrone preached discipline, accountability, character, and integrity, in rejuvenating a team that went 10-37 under his predecessor, Greg Robinson, and transformed it into a two-time bowl winner. Syracuse finished 2012 at 8-5 after beating West Virginia 38-14 in the Pinstripe Bowl and earned a share of the Big East regular-season title with a 5-2 conference mark, its best since Paul Pasqualoni's 2001 team went 6-1.

Shafer promised to follow that lead with a foundation based on attitude, effort, and enthusiasm as the Orange prepare to leave the Big East and join the Atlantic Coast Conference in July.

``It's those three pillars that we will always point back to as we try to progress forward and make this community proud about the product that we put on that football field,'' Shafer said. ``The thing that I like about Syracuse the city is that the people that live here and embrace it are tough people. They're hard-nosed people and they expect a hard-nosed football team.

``It's our job to put a product on the field that the community can say, `That is us. That is our team. They're physical, and they're going to get after you when you come to the (Carrier) Dome.' We're going to storm that conference and do better than people think we can.''

Shafer said he planned to meet with the players on Sunday when they return from semester break and Marrone is expected to address the team as well.

As for his staff, Shafer tabbed Chuck Bullough as defensive coordinator. Bullough was a two-time All-Big Ten linebacker at Michigan State and joins the Syracuse staff after two seasons as a defensive assistant with the Cleveland Browns. He was linebackers coach at Western Michigan in 2005 when Shafer was defensive coordinator and also spent five years at UCLA, the last two as defensive coordinator.

A big hole remains on Shafer's staff, though. Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, architect of a record-setting, uptempo offense this past season with fifth-year senior quarterback Ryan Nassib at the helm, has joined Marrone and the Bills in the same role.

``I want an offense that's fast, that's fun, and invested. I think Coach Hackett did a great job putting that on display, and we want to continue that,'' said Shafer, who was a quarterback in college. ``What we're looking for is the right fit, that fit for Syracuse, and I'm not in a hurry to do that.

``We don't want to go about this taking the first guy that sounds exciting. We'll get the best guy in here that gives us a chance to put on a show on offense. It's unbelievable how many people want to be here.''

With national signing day looming in early February, Shafer said one of his first priorities will be to reach out to recruits.

``We have to do a great job of tending to our prospects, the recruits that we're going after and trying to hold onto. You never know until signing day,'' he said. ``I want guys that want to go to the Dome and say this is my home. All those other guys that are wavering, they'd just better make a decision that they're not going to play us if they decide to go elsewhere.''

According to Rivals.com, Syracuse has received 14 commitments, nine of them three-star athletes, including quarterbacks Zach Allen of Texas and Austin Wilson of Pennsylvania. Scout.com listed 15 recruits, including five three-star athletes, and both websites had the class ranked No. 71 on Friday.

Prior to Syracuse, Shafer was an assistant at Michigan, Stanford, Western Michigan, Illinois, Northern Illinois, and Rhode Island. A 1990 graduate of Baldwin Wallace University, Shafer was one of Marrone's first hires.

Shafer's defenses have ranked among the nation's best in various categories during his four-year tenure with the Orange. In 2010, the Orange defense was No. 7 in the nation and he was nominated for the Broyles Award as the nation's top assistant.

Even though he won't be running the defense next season, Shafer doesn't expect the Orange to skip a beat.

``I envision an Orange crush defense that makes the opponents' families cringe when their child is about to get hit,'' he said with a smile. ``I want to put the fear of God in the opposing football player that happens to have the ball underneath his arm. That's what we want to do, play an aggressive style of defense that people love to watch.

``When we get the opposition in the loud house (the Carrier Dome), we lock the doors behind them and we don't let them out.''

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Ravens hold on to another close preseason win in Week 2

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Ravens hold on to another close preseason win in Week 2

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Baltimore Ravens spoiled Andrew Luck's Indianapolis homecoming.

They picked him off before allowing a completion, and Terrell Suggs nearly chopped the ball out of Luck's hands on a sack. The Ravens then secured a 20-19 preseason win over the Colts by stopping a late 2-point conversion run.

Luck was just OK in his first home start since Jan. 1, 2017. But he did receive a roaring ovation from the crowd when he took the field, led the Colts to one score and apparently emerged unscathed after going down twice on sacks.

"Not too sharp, certainly red-zone turnovers are a negative, missed a couple of throws I'd like to hit," he said. "And I didn't feel like we, as an offense, got into any semblance of a sustained rhythm."

Expectations were high following a solid start in Seattle.

This time, the Colts (1-1) looked sloppy.

Luck missed his first three throws, the third winding up in the hands of Ravens safety Anthony Levine Jr. Luck rebounded to finish 6 of 13 for 50 yards and set up 45-year-old Adam Vinatieri for a 57-yard field before leaving in the second quarter.

If Luck had his way, he might have played longer. But first-year coach Frank Reich wasn't taking any chances with Luck's surgically repaired arm.

"We just never found a rhythm for him and some of his balls were not his best balls," he said. "But I still have a lot of confidence we're headed in the right direction."

Joe Flacco, Lamar Jackson and the Ravens looked better.

Flacco went 7 of 9 for 72 yards and one touchdown. Jackson then showed flashes of what helped him win the 2016 Heisman Trophy.

Jackson was 7 of 15 for 49 yards and a TD and carried four times for 26 yards before giving way to another Heisman winner, Robert Griffin III, in the fourth quarter.

Indy still had a chance at the end after Tarell Basham recovered a fumble at the Ravens 9. Five plays later, Phillip Walker threw a 9-yard TD pass to Zach Pascal with 2:24 left. But the Ravens (3-0) stopped Walker on the 2-point try, recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock.

"Happy to get the win," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "We did a lot of things that weren't winning football, especially in the second half."

The Ravens made it tough on Indy all night.

They stopped Indy twice in the red zone and nearly had a third when Jordan Wilkins fumbled the ball into the end zone, where it bounced right into the hands of receiver Chester Rogers.

Flacco gave the Ravens a 7-3 lead early in the second quarter when he hooked up with John Brown on a 7-yard score, and Jackson's masterful hurry-up drive at the end of the first half ended with Justin Tucker's 38-yard field goal with 2 seconds left.

When Colts rookie Nyheim Hines fumbled away the opening kickoff of the second half, Jackson hooked up with Chris Moore on a 7-yard TD pass to make it 17-10.

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Is Adrian Peterson a good fit with the Redskins?

Is Adrian Peterson a good fit with the Redskins?

Adrian Peterson is one of the best running backs in NFL history.

But is he the best running back for the Redskins right now?

The Redskins signed Peterson, 33 years old and a 12-year NFL veteran, to a one-year contract. They have been hit with injuries at the running back position, most notably the loss of second-round pick Derrius Guice for the season with a torn ACL. They didn’t make any moves when that diagnosis was announced a week and a half ago. But they lost two more backs to short-term injuries last Thursday and they decided that now is the time to go out and get somebody.

Is the need for a running back really there? Rob Kelley was the starter for the last half of the 2016 season and for seven games last year before a variety of ailments sent him to injured reserve. Samaje Perine became the starter after that and while he struggled at time he also showed growth potential.

Kelley is 25 and Perine is 22. In the absence of Guice, they could develop and when Guice returns next year the team would have a good stable of young running backs.

But now, Peterson is in the picture. We don’t yet know what his role will be, but they did not sign him to be the back who is inactive on game days. He will get some carries and that will take work away from Perine and Kelley.

Now, if Peterson is more productive than either of the two younger backs then that is a worthwhile swap. But what does he have left in the tank at age 33?

Last year, playing for the Saints and Cardinals he gained 529 yards on 156 carries, a very pedestrian average of 3.4 years per carry. That is very similar to the production of Perine, who had 175 carries for 603 yards, a 3.4 average. In his two years in the NFL, Kelley has averaged 3.9 yards per carry.

By signing Peterson, however, the Redskins are hoping that Peterson has one more big year, or at least a medium year by his standards, left in him. After all, it was just in 2015 that he led the NFL in rushing for the third time in his career as he ran for 1,485 yards and averaged 4.5 yards per carry. The Redskins would be delighted if he could get half of that total.

Any free agent signing can only be evaluated when the contract details are available. We only know that it’s a one-year deal and according to some reports he did not get any money guaranteed at signing. That seems to be a team friendly deal, but we will have to see what might kick in if he is on the Week 1 roster.

As with everything else, time will tell if this move works out. If the money is right, it’s a low risk transaction with some possible upside for Washington.

Back during minicamp while talking about how quickly Alex Smith would have to get up to speed with the offense, Jay Gruden said that the Redskins are not in a rebuilding mode and that they need to win now. After the trade for Smith, the Peterson signing is another indication that patience may be wearing thin.

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Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS and on Instagram @RichTandler