N.F.L. Week 1 Live Updates: Contenders and Upstarts Begin New Season

Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt, left, joined teammates including safety Minkah Fitzpatrick during the team’s practice Wednesday, 
Credit score…Matt Freed/Pittsburgh Submit-Gazette, by means of Related Press

T.J. Watt may have grown up in Wisconsin, and he may play for the Steelers, however in keeping with Trainer Mike Tomlin, he’s simply “visiting from every other planet.” Tomlin mentioned this towards the top of closing season, which Watt completed with a league-leading 15 sacks.

The group’s entrance workplace stated Watt’s otherworldly ability with a four-year extension price $80 million assured, in keeping with more than one stories. Recent off that signing, Watt beams into Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y., on Sunday to guide a Steelers protection that represents a direct, and stern, check for the Buffalo Expenses and their superlative quarterback, Josh Allen.

Final season, Pittsburgh allowed the third-fewest issues within the league and they’re once more stacked at each and every degree, from secondary (Minkah Fitzpatrick) to linebacker (Devin Bush) to line of defense (Cam Heyward). Watt, although, is the most productive of all of them, a best edge rusher who bypasses double-teams to torment quarterbacks, typically from the left aspect. Simplest Shaquil Barrett of Tampa Bay (76) recorded extra pressures than Watt (73) all through the 2020 season, in keeping with Professional Soccer Focal point.

As he waited for his contract negotiation to get resolved, Watt abstained from working towards together with his teammates all through maximum of coaching camp. He after all joined them on Wednesday, and certainly he figures to be waiting to play. The Expenses higher be, too.

Baltimore Ravens running back J.K. Dobbins was carted off the field after tearing his A.C.L. in a preseason game against the Washington Football Team.
Credit score…Carolyn Kaster/Related Press

Within the span of simply 12 days, the Baltimore Ravens misplaced their most sensible 3 rushers at the intensity chart to season-ending accidents.

Gus Edwards tore his anterior cruciate ligament in his knee all through follow this week, the second one such damage for a Ravens operating again after starter J.Ok. Dobbins did so within the Aug. 28 preseason finale towards Washington. They joined Justice Hill, who tore his Achilles’ tendon in follow, on damage reserve. Cornerback Marcus Peters additionally tore his A.C.L. on the similar follow as Edwards.

“I feel you mourn for an afternoon, and we battle as of late,” Trainer John Harbaugh instructed newshounds Friday. “We will transfer ahead.” He mentioned he didn’t suppose the enjoying floor contributed to the rash of non-contact accidents.

To reply to the carnage, the Ravens signed Latavius Murray, the previous New Orleans Saints backup, after he was once launched for declining to take a pay minimize. Baltimore additionally added two avid gamers who in the past had 1,000-yard dashing seasons, Le’Veon Bell and Devonta Freeman, to the follow squad with the goal of raising them to the lively roster.

Bell, a three-time Professional Bowl variety all through his 5 seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, was once launched by way of the Jets halfway thru closing season for his loss of manufacturing. He in short signed with Kansas Town, splitting carries in a reserve function, and later criticized Trainer Andy Reid on social media this low season.

Freeman, an elusive runner and cross catcher, rushed for 1,000 yards two times early in his six seasons with the Atlanta Falcons, however his manufacturing slipped after his groin damage in 2018, which stored him out of all however two video games. He signed a one-year maintain the Giants closing season, showing in handiest 5 video games and dashing for 172 yards. The Saints launched him all through coaching camp after he signed a one-year contract this low season.

Mac Jones, right, took over the starting quarterback job at Alabama in 2019 when Tua Tagovailoa broke a hip. The pair will square off as N.F.L. pros on Sunday.
Credit score…Vasha Hunt/Related Press

After sharing probably the most proficient quarterbacks rooms in contemporary school soccer historical past, the previous Alabama teammates Mac Jones and Tua Tagovailoa will reunite at the box Sunday afternoon, as Tagovailoa’s Miami Dolphins face Jones’s New England Patriots in Foxborough, Mass.

With Jalen Hurts having taken over the beginning activity for the Philadelphia Eagles on the finish of the 2020 season, Alabama’s closing 3 quarterbacks will probably be beneath middle for N.F.L. franchises in Week 1. That each and every made it onto Sunday’s N.F.L. time table will have to validate the quarterback battles that took place once they have been there. After successful a countrywide championship with the Red Tide on the finish of the 2017 season, Hurts misplaced the beginning spot to Tagovailoa in 2018. When Tagovailoa broke a hip in 2019, Jones supplanted him, beginning two video games to finish that season.

Jones led an undefeated Alabama group to a countrywide championship in 2021 ahead of being decided on at No. 15 within the draft. His poise in coaching camp and preseason video games so inspired Patriots Trainer Invoice Belichick that he topped the rookie the No. 1 quarterback and minimize closing yr’s starter, Cam Newton, who’s now a unfastened agent.

In a single season in Miami, Tagovailoa has but to cement himself because the Dolphins’ quarterback of the long run. All the way through the low season, rumors swirled that the group may had been on the lookout for different choices, together with the Texans’ Deshaun Watson, however Trainer Brian Flores threw his beef up at the back of Tagovailoa as coaching camp ended.

Alabama head trainer Nick Saban wanted either one of his former quarterbacks smartly in a information convention Wednesday. “I’m hoping they each do extraordinarily smartly on this sport and of their profession,” Saban mentioned. “However any person has to win and any person has to lose.”

Justin Herbert finished the 2020 season with the most passing touchdowns (31) and completions (396) of any rookie in league history.
Credit score…Jae C. Hong/Related Press

If Los Angeles quarterback Justin Herbert plans to make a jump in 12 months 2, going through the Washington Soccer Group’s dominant defensive finish Chase Younger is most certainly probably the most tricky tactics to begin. Younger, the 2020 defensive rookie of the yr, will meet Herbert’s Chargers Sunday afternoon. It’s going to be the second one directly season the place the reigning offensive and defensive freshmen of the yr will meet of their season opener: Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray confronted Nick Bosa’s San Francisco 49ers in Week 1 closing season.

In 2020, Younger anchored one of the crucial league’s highest defenses, which allowed simply over 300 yards according to sport, 2nd fewest within the N.F.L. Herbert completed the season with essentially the most passing touchdowns (31) and completions (396) of any rookie in league historical past.

Giants running back Saquon Barkley is expected to return to play for the first time since Week 2 last season.
Credit score…Noah Ok. Murray/Related Press

Getting into Week 1, maximum groups’ optimism hinges at the well being in their rosters. A couple of superstar avid gamers whose standing have been murky this week, together with Giants operating again Saquon Barkley, Chargers operating again Austin Ekeler, and Colts guard Quenton Nelson, are just right to head.

In other places, the absence of injured avid gamers will mood their groups’ sport plans.

Jets receiver Jamison Crowder (reserve/Covid-19) will omit Sunday’s season opener, whilst receiver Keelan Cole (knee) will probably be a game-time choice. And the Panthers will probably be with out receiver Shi Smith, who neglected follow this week with a shoulder damage.

The Washington Soccer Group positioned receiver Curtis Samuel at the injured reserve record previous this week, so he’s going to omit no less than 3 weeks to nurse a groin damage.

The Titans will probably be with out kicker Sam Ficken, who’s at the injured reserve record with a groin damage.

The Colts’ veteran cornerback Xavier Rhodes (calf) will omit Sunday’s opener, at the side of receiver T.Y. Hilton, who re-aggravated a lingering neck damage all through a convention closing month. Hilton, the Colts’ most sensible receiver, is predicted to omit the beginning of the common season.

Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson is out for his or her season opener towards the Jaguars. Watson, who has 22 civil fits alleging sexual misconduct filed towards him, isn’t anticipated to fit up for Houston this season. (He has denied the accusations.) Tyrod Taylor will get started in his position. Houston can even omit kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn (leg), in addition to defensive again Lonnie Johnson Jr. (thigh).

The Jaguars will probably be with out cornerback Tre Herndon, who’s out with a knee damage.

Expenses operating again Zack Moss was once no longer at the group’s damage document main as much as Sunday’s sport towards the Steelers, however he’s going to omit the group’s opener.

Dolphins receiver Preston Williams, who’s been nursing a foot damage, is reportedly no longer anticipated to play towards the Patriots.

The New Orleans Saints will probably be with out receiver Michael Thomas for the beginning of the season after he underwent ankle surgical operation in June. They’ll additionally omit receiver Tre’Quan Smith (hamstring).

Giants tight finish Evan Engram (calf) is out.

Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts wore a helmet decal that read “Black Lives Matter,” one of six league-approved social justice messages, in a game last season.
Credit score…Wealthy Schultz/Related Press

In Thursday evening’s season opener, avid gamers stood at the box at Raymond James Stadium with their fingers intertwined as Alicia Keys and the Florida A&M choir carried out “Carry Each Voice and Sing” ahead of the sport’s get started.

The N.F.L. started airing the music, sometimes called the Black nationwide anthem, as a part of its TV publicizes ahead of video games following the global racial justice protests held after the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. It additionally incorporated a efficiency of the music ahead of the draft in April.

The league will proceed to incorporate the music’s efficiency in its pregame ceremonies as a part of its endured social justice efforts.

“Carry Each Voice and Sing,” written over 120 years in the past by way of N.A.A.C.P. chief James Weldon Johnson, captures in its lyrics the solemn hope for the freedom of African American citizens, which learn partially:

Sing a music filled with the religion that the darkish previous has taught us.

Sing a music filled with the hope that the existing has introduced us.

Dealing with the emerging solar of our new day begun,

Allow us to march on ’til victory is received.”

In conjunction with enjoying the music ahead of its video games, the N.F.L. can even permit avid gamers to put on helmet decals with one among six accredited social justice messages. The league will once more show the slogans “It Takes All of Us” and “Finish Racism” on finish zones in unity with social justice actions towards racism and police brutality.

The New Orleans Saints’ Week 1 game against the Packers was moved to Jacksonville’s TIAA Bank Stadium in the wake of Hurricane Ida.
Credit score…John Raoux/Related Press

No, it’s no longer a misprint. Sure, the top zones at TIAA Financial institution Stadium, house of the Jacksonville Jaguars, in reality do say “SAINTS.”

The New Orleans Saints, displaced by way of the destruction of Storm Ida, will start the season Sunday towards the Inexperienced Bay Packers within the teal-tinged barren region of Jacksonville, Fla., as a substitute of the Superdome’s black-and-gold cacophony. The stadium was once to be had for the reason that Jaguars open at the street, however the web site was once hardly ever selected at random.

After evacuating New Orleans on Aug. 28, the Saints settled in North Texas, working towards first at AT&T Stadium in Arlington ahead of transferring to Texas Christian College, in Castle Price. With AT&T unavailable Sunday on account of a war, the Saints picked Jacksonville from amongst Florida’s 3 N.F.L. locales, in keeping with the New Orleans Occasions-Picayune, on account of its “relative inaccessibility and unattractiveness as a vacation spot location.”

The Saints went as far as to analyze flights to Miami, Tampa and Jacksonville, and found out that Jacksonville was once the toughest — and costliest — choice for Packers fanatics.

“We’re aware of the whole lot, I feel, in terms of making ready for an opponent,” Saints normal supervisor Mickey Loomis instructed newshounds closing week. “The primary factor is, hi there, we’ve were given to have an NFL-ready stadium. Glance, there’s simply such a lot of variables. I don’t wish to get into the entire variables that exist, however the principle factor is to have an acceptable position to play that each groups have get entry to to.”

That is anticipated to be the one house sport the Saints play clear of New Orleans. Mayor LaToya Cantrell mentioned that the Superdome, which didn’t undergo any primary injury, will have to be waiting to host the group’s Week four sport towards the Giants.

Zach Wilson was 1 of 2 passes for 11 yards on his first N.F.L. drive.
Credit score…Jacob Kupferman/Related Press

Zach Wilson’s first pressure because the Jets’ beginning quarterback incorporated two pre-snap consequences, a sack and a drop by way of one among his receivers. In different phrases, it was once sloppy.

Wilson tried handiest two passes at the pressure towards the Carolina Panthers, finishing one on a seven-yard flare path to tight finish Ryan Griffin. However an unlawful formation and a preserving penalty killed any offensive momentum. He additionally absorbed a nine-yard sack from Panthers defensive finish Brian Burns.

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