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Pitt gets name recognition after moving to .500

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Pitt gets name recognition after moving to .500

PITTSBURGH (AP) When Paul Chryst took over at Pitt in January, he told the Panthers he was making some alterations to their jerseys.

Well, just one actually.

Chryst stripped the names off the back, telling his players the names would return when he felt the team actually started playing like one.

The Panthers didn't balk at the move. The evidence of widespread selfishness - of guys going all-in - was there on the tape for all to see.

``With a new coaching staff coming in here, guys have to earn the coaches' respect and you have to put your time in,'' offensive lineman Chris Jacobsen said. ``Coach Chryst did it as a thing saying we're a team and not individuals.''

It took nearly a year, but the Panthers have finally won Chryst over. The names will return on Saturday when Pitt (4-4) travels to fourth-ranked Notre Dame (8-0), a token of appreciation from Chryst to his players for the way they've hung in there.

Chryst could see things start to come together in recent weeks and after a somewhat sluggish win over Buffalo on Oct. 20, he told his players if they could beat Temple the equipment manager would have a busy week ahead of him.

The Panthers responded with an emphatic 47-17 win, posting their highest point total against an FBS team in 13 years. Ray Graham rolled up 180 yards of total offense, quarterback Tino Sunseri passed for 321 yards and the defense left little doubt.

``A lot of players impacted it,'' Chryst said.

It was the kind of selfless play Chryst has been preaching for months. Not one for easily attained motivational ploys, Chryst insisted the reward was for his team's hard work, not just one solid afternoon against a program it beats with regularity.

``I thought that it was the right thing for this group at this time,'' he said.

The return of the names is a bit of a double-edged sword for the Panthers. Sure, the names are back, but they're back during a week when they face their toughest task of the season.

Resurgent Notre Dame is stirring up the echoes behind a smothering defense led by Heisman Trophy candidate Manti Te'o. Pitt already has one upset over a Top 25 opponent this season, but that was at home in September against a Virginia Tech team that wasn't quite as good as advertised.

The Fighting Irish are no fluky unbeaten. They thumped Oklahoma on the road last Saturday and are surging into the national championship conversation.

Pitt doesn't see itself as a spoiler, insisting this is just another game. Maybe, but it's one they believe they're capable of winning. They might not have said the same thing a month ago.

``I think we're getting better,'' Chryst said. ``I think we've been inconsistent. Two weeks ago I thought we weren't running the ball consistently ... (but) guys are getting a feel for some things. Are we in better shape now than before? I don't know if I can answer that question honestly.''

Chryst expects his players to have provide the answer for him, though Pitt will go into the game shorthanded. The Panthers have lost junior linebacker Dan Mason for the season due to internal injuries to his abdomen he suffered against Temple. It was a bitter blow for one of the team's toughest players.

Mason missed nearly two full seasons due to a severe right knee injury against Miami (Fla.) on Sept. 23, 2010. He returned to the starting lineup against Buffalo - recording a team-high 11 tackles - and made a couple of big stops versus the Owls before going down again.

Chryst said Mason is ``doing really good'' and doesn't have a ``woe is me'' attitude despite the setback. It's that kind of mindset that has permeated the locker room in recent weeks as Pitt deepened its trust in its third coaching staff in as many seasons.

``I think that guys are really starting to buy in and to do things the right way on a consistent basis,'' center Ryan Turnley said. ``That consistency, that's something that's plagued us the whole year and something we need to work on.''

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Follow Will Graves at www.twitter.com/WillGravesAP

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Redskins sign linebacker Jon Bostic to try and help make up for the loss of Reuben Foster

Redskins sign linebacker Jon Bostic to try and help make up for the loss of Reuben Foster

Two days after losing Reuben Foster for the year, the Redskins made a move to at least provide reinforcements to a weakened linebacker group.

On Wednesday, Washington announced that they have signed Jon Bostic, a six-year veteran. The 'Skins also officially placed Foster on injured reserve.

Bostic was a 2013 second-round pick of the Bears out of Florida. He's since bounced around to New England, Detroit, Indianapolis, and Pittsburgh, where he started 14 times for the Steelers in 2018 and posted 73 tackles. He's been traded twice in his career and missed all of 2016 with a foot injury. 

So, what does the move accomplish for the Redskins?

Well, Bostic — or any other free agent signing at this point — isn't going to have close to the level of talent and potential that Foster had. However, getting another option at linebacker was necessary for the Burgundy and Gold, and the 28-year-old has played in 30 contests over the past two years, so he's relatively established. 

Yes, he's far from a gamechanger, considering he has just one interception and 5.5 sacks as a pro. But he's regarded as a solid run defender and tackler and should at least push Mason Foster and Shaun Dion Hamilton. His presence also could alleviate some of the pressure that would've been on rookie Cole Holcomb. 

Signing a defender who's been with five franchises in six years isn't exactly inspiring, but Bostic has experience as a starter and could give the Redskins useful snaps on first and second down at a minimum. Now it's on him to take advantage of the opportunity he's been given.

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Landon Collins is thrilled to be with the Redskins and can't wait to get revenge on the Giants

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NBC Sports Washington

Landon Collins is thrilled to be with the Redskins and can't wait to get revenge on the Giants

You may not know the exact dates of the Redskins' two matchups with the Giants this season, which will take place Sep. 29 and Dec. 22 in 2019. But Landon Collins sure does.

"I'm gonna circle it for the next six years," the 'Skins new safety told ESPN in a recent interview. 

No, Collins isn't circling those dates from now until 2024 because he wants to be very organized and ensure he doesn't have any scheduling conflicts. He's doing it because he's dying to get revenge on his former team, who let him leave as a free agent in part because of their "culture change," according to him.

"All we wanted to do was win, and we spoke up because we had to get them to listen to us," Collins told ESPN, referring to himself and other now ex-Giants like Odell Beckham and Damon Harrison. "I think we were too vocal, and that platform was bigger than the Giants... If it's not good media, they don't want that kind of media."

In addition to the organization wanting to go in a different direction culture-wise, New York didn't want to pay the amount of money the Redskins ended up paying for Collins because he wasn't an ideal fit in their defense. The 25-year-old pushes back against the idea that he's strictly a "box safety," though, as do current and former players.

Interestingly enough, Collins isn't the only member of the Redskins' secondary who's in D.C. thanks to a decision by Dave Gettleman. Gettleman was also the same guy who decided the Panthers needed to move on from Josh Norman in April 2016.

Collins, for one, doesn't sound like he'll miss Gettleman at all. The defender didn't love how the GM consistently failed to make an effort to connect personally with his players. 

"I don't know him, he don't know me, that's kind of how it just kind of was," he explained.

All that, however, doesn't matter anymore. Collins is going to be the foundation of the Redskins' defense for quite some time, and that's a challenge he's ready to accept.

"I'm on a team that loves me and wanted me here," he said.

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