Monthly Archives: July 2018

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OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — Bernard Pierce can’t wait to become the Baltimore Ravens’ starting running back in Sunday’s season opener against Cincinnati.

Pierce will step in for Ray Rice, who is serving a two-game suspension for domestic violence.

“I’m as excited as I can be, but at the end of the day I can’t really overthink it,” Pierce said after Wednesday’s practice. “I just have to make sure I stay mentally locked in and focused because, you know, this could possibly be my only shot. If you can’t handle the load, somebody else will.”

Pierce already has shown he can handle at least some of the load. He rushed for 532 yards in the regular season as a rookie two years ago, then ran for 202 more yards in four playoff games as the Ravens won the Super Bowl.

He also averaged 4.9 yards per carry in the regular season in 2012. His numbers slipped some last year as Pierce battled injuries (knee, shoulder) while working behind an ineffective offensive line. He finished with 436 yards and only 2.9 yards per carry.

Pierce then underwent shoulder surgery in the offseason and suffered a minor concussion in the third exhibition game versus Washington. He said he’s fine now and ready to go in his second career start.

“I guess it’s a good feeling,” Pierce said. “But we always have to prepare to be starters. So when you’re needed, you’ve got to be ready to go at all times.”

Ravens coach John Harbaugh said he’s confident Pierce will be do the job while Rice sits out. The Ravens picked Pierce in the third round of the 2012 draft from Temple, and Harbaugh said there’s a reason he was selected that high.

“Bernard’s a good player,” Harbaugh said. “He’s got talent. He’s tough. He works really hard. We’ve all seen him carry the ball at his best, and we just want to see him be his best. He’s done a real good job.”

Pierce ran for 89 yards on 21 carries in the preseason and scored a touchdown.

Injuries slowed Pierce last year, but when he’s right, he’s effective.

“You’ve seen Bernard for a couple of years now. He’s a good running back, especially when he’s healthy and feeling good,” quarterback Joe Flacco said. “I think he’s ready to go.”

The Bengals know that Pierce can cause problems as the focal point of new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak’s scheme.

“Bernard is a very good downhill runner,” Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis said. “He’s a strong, strong runner; he’s a good screen runner. He does a lot of good things.”

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BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Browns coach Mike Pettine is keeping his starting quarterback a secret — even from the quarterbacks.

“Strategic reasons,” he said Friday.

Pettine wouldn’t reveal whether Josh McCown or Johnny Manziel will start on Sunday when the Browns visit the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are playing their own guessing game with an injured Ben Roethlisberger.

With McCown still limited by injured ribs, Manziel took the majority of snaps with Cleveland’s starting offense this week in practice. Signs are pointing to the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner making his fifth career NFL start — and third this season — on Sunday. Manziel started in place of McCown last week and passed for 168 yards and one touchdown in a 31-10 loss to Cincinnati.

McCown, who returned to practice on Wednesday, has improved each day. Pettine said if he’s healthy enough to play, the 36-year-old will start. With a bye week coming up, it’s possible the Browns will give McCown another week to recover.

McCown is listed as questionable — a 50-percent chance of playing — on the team’s final injury report of the week.

Pettine hasn’t told McCown or Manziel if they’ll start. He did say third-stringer Austin Davis will be active.

Some fans might argue it won’t make a difference which quarterback plays for the struggling Browns (2-7). Pettine, a former defensive coordinator, said knowing who is playing in advance makes a big difference.

“If you’re game planning, let’s just say you’re going against a guy that can potentially scramble and you’re going to have calls up as far as setting your plan and kind of having your A plan and knowing who it’s going to be and being able to review that on a Saturday night,” he said. “You can force the mindset to kind of dovetail a little bit, ‘Hey, here’s plan A, here’s plan B,’ without saying, ‘It’s definitely going to be this.’”

The Browns haven’t won in Pittsburgh since 2003 — an 11-game losing streak — and Cleveland is just 6-26 against the Steelers since 1999.

As he prepares for another possible start, Manziel remains under investigation by the NFL for his involvement in a recent domestic dispute. The league is checking whether Manziel violated its personal conduct policy.

NOTES: S Tashaun Gipson missed practice with an unspecified illness. … CB Joe Haden and S Donte Whitner remain in NFL concussion protocol and will not play.

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RENTON, Wash. (AP) — Pete Carroll called it an “amazing experience” for the Seattle Seahawks to host the football team from Marysville-Pilchuck High less than a week after a shooting at the school left three students dead, including the shooter.

The high school team practiced at the Seahawks’ facility Tuesday. Carroll was there to meet the team, along with a number of players, including cornerback Richard Sherman, safety Earl Thomas and wide receiver Doug Baldwin.

“It was an amazing experience to feel their gratitude. They were most grateful for the opportunity to be here,” Carroll said Wednesday. “Obviously, the Seahawks are a big deal to them. To see them react to Richard Sherman coming out and Earl Thomas and all the guys, and Bobby Wagner, greet them and shaking hands and taking pictures and having fun with them. It was tremendous. As always is the case, both sides receive a lot out of that kind of exchange.”

Student Jaylen Fryberg opened fire at the school’s cafeteria on Friday, killing two students and wounding three others. Fryberg killed himself. Fryberg was a popular freshman who played football and was crowned homecoming royalty days before the shooting.

The team practiced for about two hours inside the Seahawks facility.

“They were kind of shocked to see us I guess a little bit,” Sherman said. “They seemed like some excited kids. They seemed like for a moment in time they forgot about everything that happened and everything that was going on and were able to enjoy the moment and take pictures and smile and laugh and have a good time.”

Baldwin said the experience made him think of his 12-year-old brother.

“The thing I think about a lot is that you can’t take for granted the time you can spend with him or the time you can take to talk to him,” Baldwin said. “Just appreciating the people you have around you, loved ones, family members, friends, because anything can happen.”

The shooting came on the day Marysville-Pilchuck was scheduled to play Oak Harbor High for a division championship. Instead of attempting to reschedule the game, Oak Harbor forfeited the game to Marysville-Pilchuck, agreeing to finish second in the division.

Carroll made a point Wednesday to highlight the generosity of Oak Harbor’s decision and said the Seahawks hope to host Oak Harbor next week. Marysville-Pilchuck is scheduled to play its first game since the shooting this Friday night.

“It does speak to the power of sport and how it is such a unifying element in our culture and you could just see it in this local community,” Carroll said.