Ohio faces bowl newcomer ULM in Independence Bowl


Ohio faces bowl newcomer ULM in Independence Bowl

SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) It has taken Louisiana-Monroe 19 years to reach the postseason at college football's highest level.

Now third-year coach Todd Berry wants the Warhawks take advantage of the opportunity.

``This isn't the exclamation point at the end of the sentence,'' Berry said of the program's remarkable turnaround. ``This is the capital letter at the beginning.''

Louisiana-Monroe (8-4) will face Ohio (8-4) in the Independence Bowl on Friday in front of what's expected to be a partisan crowd for the Warhawks. The game will be played about 100 miles from Monroe, La., so Ohio can't expect much of a neutral environment.

That's just fine with Ohio's eighth-year coach Frank Solich.

``We want people in the stands,'' Solich said. ``We want to play in front of a large crowd. We liken this just a little bit to the first game of the year against Penn State where we knew we'd be outnumbered, yet we relish the opportunity in front of a national audience to display our football team.''

Ohio beat Penn State in that season-opening game. Louisiana-Monroe started its season by winning at Arkansas. The Bobcats and Warhawks were September upstart stars and now they'll get a chance to face each other with plenty on the line. Ohio is trying to win nine games for the third time in four seasons while Louisiana-Monroe is trying to end a dream season that began with the stunning overtime victory in Fayetteville, Ark.

The Warhawks also played tight games against Auburn and Baylor before ultimately falling short.

``It comes down to showing a lot of heart, a lot of resilience and a lot of belief,'' Berry said. ``I think this group - they believe they're going to find a way to win. And belief is a very powerful thing.''

But belief isn't all of it - the Warhawks also have some very good players.

Kolton Browning has thrown for 2,830 yards, 27 touchdowns and seven interceptions this season. The 6-foot-1, 194-pound junior also leads the team with 441 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. Browning's favorite target is senior receiver Brent Leonard, a former walk-on who has caught 97 passes for 1,042 yards and 10 touchdowns this season.

The duo gets one more chance to showcase Louisiana-Monroe's improvement.

``It's going to be a great environment,'' Leonard said. ``We've been trying to get the fans in the stands. I don't know if it's going to be sold out. I think we've sold out of our allotment of tickets. We've kind of done our job. I know the Warhawk fans are going to come here and they're going to be cheering loud so we're going to be ready.''

Ohio is playing in a bowl game for a fourth straight season, but isn't riding the same emotional high as Louisiana-Monroe. The Bobcats won their first seven games of the season, even briefly nudging into the Associated Press Top 25 before losing four of their final five regular-season games.

Solich said a compact schedule during that stretch - the Bobcats had to play four games in 19 days at one point because of television demands - contributed to losing some steam at the end.

But a month off has allowed Ohio some time to replenish its strength, and there's little doubt there is talent on the roster.

Beau Blankenship has rushed for a school-record 1,500 yards this season, breaking the 100-yard barrier in nine games this season. The 5-foot-9, 202-pound junior rushed for a season-high 269 yards against Massachusetts.

Quarterback Tyler Tettleton has thrown for 2,513 yards, 16 touchdowns and just three interceptions. He said Louisiana-Monroe's high-pressure defense is comparable to some of the best teams in the Mid-American Conference.

``Probably more like a Kent State or Bowling Green,'' Tettleton said. ``They're really aggressive and have a good front seven. They like to load the box to stop the run, so we're going to have to make plays downfield. We feel like we've got the players to do it.''

Louisiana-Monroe's gambling ways are part of Berry's philosophy. The offense takes plenty of risks as well, and has earned a reputation for going for fourth-down conversions even when the odds seem long.

Now the Warhawks are trying for their first postseason victory since joining the Football Bowl Subdivision in 1994.

``Our slogan is we didn't come here to play, we came here to win,'' Berry said. ``We're serious about going out there to try and win and we know we've got a great challenge for us.''


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Jordan Reed ruled out for Monday night and could be 'weeks' away, per source

Jordan Reed ruled out for Monday night and could be 'weeks' away, per source

The Redskins ruled Jordan Reed out for Monday night's game against Chicago and the star tight end could be "weeks" away, a source told NBC Sports Washington. 

ESPN's Adam Schefter first reported that Reed would miss the Redskins game against the Bears on Monday, where Washington seeks to get their first win of the season. Reed hasn't played since he sustained a concussion in the third preseason game against the Falcons on August 22nd.

A huge part of head coach Jay Gruden's offense when healthy, Reed has dealt with injuries throughout his career. He has never played a complete 16-game season in seven years in Washington, and even more worrisome is the head injury situation. This marks his seventh documented concussion since he played college football at the University of Florida. 

Without Reed, the Redskins only have Jeremy Sprinkle and Vernon Davis at tight end. The team played with just two tight ends last week against the Cowboys, but that is unusual. 

Juggling injuries elsewhere with Quinton Dunbar, Colt McCoy and Cassanova McKinzy, at some point the Redskins might need to consider placing Reed on the injured reserve. 

Each time Gruden has been asked for an update on Reed, the head coach explains that as part of the NFL's concussion protocol there are no updates. The medical exams are handled by independent doctors, not the Redskins medical group. It's also worth noting that Reed is unable to speak with the media while in the NFL concussion protocol. 

There have been signs of optimism in spurts for Reed. 

He practiced each day prior to the opener against Philadelphia but was ruled out late in the week. In Week 2 against Dallas, he started the practice week but then missed Friday's session before being ruled out for the game.

In advance of the Bears game on Monday night, Reed was on the field on Wednesday but did not go again the rest of the week when the media was allowed to watch practice. 


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Fantasy Football WR Rankings 2019: Week 3

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Fantasy Football WR Rankings 2019: Week 3

Week 2 is in the books and rosters are beginning to take shape. Here are the top wide receivers for Week 3.

For a tiered breakdown of each fantasy football position, click below:

Quarterback Rankings: Week 3
Running Back Rankings: Week 3
Wide Receiver Rankings: Week 3
Tight End Rankings: Week 3

Flex Rankings: Week 3


1. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
Opponent: at Colts
2019 Stats: 11 Receptions, 137 Receiving YDS, 3 Receiving TD, 42.7 PTS, 2019 WR8
Previous Ranking: 3

2. DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans
Opponent: at Chargers
2019 Stats: 13 Receptions, 151 Receiving YDS, 2 Receiving TD, 40.1 PTS, 2019 WR15
Previous Ranking: 1

3. Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers
Opponent: vs. Texans
2019 Stats: 16 Receptions, 221 Receiving YDS, 1 Receiving TD, 44.1 PTS, 2019 WR5
Previous Ranking: 5

4. Amari Cooper, Dallas Cowboys
Opponent: vs. Dolphins
2019 Stats: 10 Receptions, 150 Receiving YDS, 2 Receiving TD, 37 PTS, 2019 WR19
Previous Ranking: 11

5. Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints
Opponent: at Seahawks
2019 Stats: 20 Receptions, 212 Receiving YDS, 41.2 PTS, 2019 WR10
Previous Ranking: 2

6. Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland Browns
Opponent: vs. Rams
2019 Stats: 13 Receptions, 232 Receiving YDS, 1 Receiving TD, 42.2 PTS, 2019 WR9
Previous Ranking: 9

TIER 2: WR1's

7. Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers
Opponent: vs. Broncos
2019 Stats: 11 Receptions, 142 Receiving YDS, 25.2 PTS, 2019 WR39
Previous Ranking: 6

8. Kenny Golladay, Detroit Lions
Opponent: at Eagles
2019 Stats: 12 Receptions, 159 Receiving YDS, 2 Receiving TD, 39.9 PTS, 2019 WR16
Previous Ranking: 16

9. Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Opponent: vs. Giants
2019 Stats: 6 Receptions, 89 Receiving YDS, 14.9 PTS, 2019 WR71
Previous Ranking: 7

10. JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh Steelers
Opponent: at 49ers
2019 Stats: 11 Receptions, 162 Receiving YDS, 27.2 PTS, 2019 WR33
Previous Ranking: 10

11. T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts
Opponent: vs. Falcons
2019 Stats: 12 Receptions, 130 Receiving YDS, 3 Receiving TD, 43 PTS, 2019 WR7
Previous Ranking: 13

12. Sammy Watkins, Kansas City Chiefs
Opponent: vs. Ravens
2019 Stats: 15 Receptions, 247 Receiving YDS, 3 Receiving TD, 57.7 PTS, 2019 WR1
Previous Ranking: 8

13. Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams
Opponent: at Browns
2019 Stats: 12 Receptions, 166 Receiving YDS, 29.2 PTS, 2019 WR29
Previous Ranking: 14

TIER 3: High-end WR2's

14. Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Opponent: vs. Giants
2019 Stats: 11 Receptions, 174 Receiving YDS, 2 Receiving TD, 40.4 PTS, 2019 WR14
Previous Ranking: 22

15. Adam Thielen, Minnesota Vikings
Opponent: vs. Raiders
2019 Stats: 8 Receptions, 118 Receiving YDS, 1 Receiving TD, 25.8 PTS, 2019 WR35
Previous Ranking: 12

16. Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks
Opponent: vs. Saints
2019 Stats: 11 Receptions, 123 Receiving YDS, 1 Receiving TD, 29.3 PTS, 2019 WR28
Previous Ranking: 20

17. Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals
Opponent: vs. Panthers
2019 Stats: 13 Receptions, 217 Receiving YDS, 1 Receiving TD, 40.7 PTS, 2019 WR12
Previous Ranking: 18

18. Marquise Brown, Baltimore Ravens
Opponent: at Chiefs
2019 Stats: 12 Receptions, 233 Receiving YDS, 2 Receiving TD, 47.3 PTS, 2019 WR4
Previous Ranking: 28

19. Julian Edelman, New England Patriots
Opponent: vs. Jets
2019 Stats: 10 Receptions, 134 Receiving YDS, 25.6 PTS, 2019 WR36
Previous Ranking: 15

TIER 4: On the cusp

20. D.J. Moore, Carolina Panthers
Opponent: at Cardinals
2019 Stats: 16 Receptions, 165 Receiving YDS, 1 Fumble, 30.5 PTS, 2019 WR27
Previous Ranking: 21

21. Stefon Diggs, Minnesota Vikings
Opponent: vs. Raiders
2019 Stats: 3 Receptions, 86 Receiving YDS, 1 Receiving TD, 15.6 PTS, 2019 WR69
Previous Ranking: 24

22. Josh Gordon, New England Patriots 
Opponent: vs. Jets
2019 Stats: 5 Receptions, 92 Receiving YDS, 1 Receiving TD, 20.2 PTS, 2019 WR50
Previous Ranking: 17

23. Alshon Jeffery, Philadelphia Eagles
Opponent: vs. Lions
2019 Stats: 5 Receptions, 49 Receiving YDS, 1 Receiving TD, 1 Rushing TD, 22.1 PTS, 2019 WR44
Previous Ranking: 19

24. Robert Woods, Los Angeles Rams
Opponent: at Browns
2019 Stats: 10 Receptions, 103 Receiving YDS, 25 Rushing YDS, 22.8 PTS, 2019 WR42
Previous Ranking: 23

25. Tyrell Williams, Oakland Raiders
Opponent: at Vikings
2019 Stats: 11Receptions, 151 Receiving YDS, 2 Receiving TD, 38.1 PTS, 2019 WR18
Previous Ranking: 25

26. Calvin Ridley, Atlanta Falcons
Opponent: at Colts
Previous Ranking: 29

27. Emmanuel Sanders, Denver Broncos
Opponent: at Packers
Previous Ranking: NR

28. Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati Bengals
Opponent: at Bills
Previous Ranking: 27

29. Terry McLaurin, Washington Redskins
Opponent: vs. Bears
Previous Ranking: NR

30.  Jamison Crowder, New York Jets
Opponent: at Patriots
Previous Ranking: NR

For a tiered breakdown of each fantasy football position, click below:

Quarterback Rankings: Week 3
Running Back Rankings: Week 3
Wide Receiver Rankings: Week 3
Tight End Rankings: Week 3

Flex Rankings: Week 3