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Special-teams captain Matthew Slater returning to New England Patriots

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — New England Patriots special-teams captain Matthew Slater has reached agreement on a two-year deal to return to the club, according to a league source.

The two-year deal gives Slater, who entered the NFL as a fifth-round draft choice of the Patriots in 2008, a chance to spend his career with just one team. That is something his father, Pro Football Hall of Famer Jackie Slater, did by playing 20 years with the Rams.

Matthew Slater took a free-agent visit to the Pittsburgh Steelers last week, according to ESPN’s Field Yates. That seemed to reflect that Slater’s return to New England was uncertain. Then the club traded for Cordarrelle Patterson, who could fill some of the same coverage roles that Slater has on special teams.

Slater, who in 2017 won the NFL’s Bart Starr Award — given to the player who exemplifies character and leadership — is one of the Patriots’ inspirational and spiritual leaders. He’s also a perennial Pro Bowl player, having been selected to play in the game in each of the past seven seasons. That ties Steve Tasker for the most special teams Pro Bowl nods in NFL history.

He had seven special-teams tackles in nine regular-season games last season, often commanding double-team blocks from the opposition.

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NFL Week 2 arrivals – Best entrances, outfits, cleats and more

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Welcome to Week 2 of the 2020 NFL season. We’re still mostly fanless at the stadiums, but players have brought their “A” game with their outfits and cleats as they get prepared for kickoff.

Here’s our roundup of the best pregame threads, entrances, scenes from the field and locker room and more.

The Week 2 NFL schedule is stacked with great matchups. Our NFL Nation reporters bring us the keys to every game, a bold prediction for each matchup and final score picks. Check out ESPN’s NFL Week 2 game guide.

More: Sunday’s fantasy football inactives: Who’s in and who’s out?


Best cleats

Golden Tate has two legends on his pregame cleats for Sunday:

Kobe also made it on to Darius Slay‘s cleats in Philly:

Best arrival looks

Apparently there’s a Wild West showdown taking place Sunday, based on the arrival looks from Dak Prescott and Takkarist McKinley:

Carson Wentz, Zach Ertz and … The Dude???? … make their way into Lincoln Financial Field:

Miami’s Preston Williams has arrived at Hard Rock Stadium:

Best brotherly reunion

Reid Ferguson and Blake Ferguson pause for a meetup before the Bills and Dolphins head into battle:

Best movie reference

Not sure if this is exactly how the Saints arrived in Vegas, but we’ll give them the “A” for effort here:

Best of the rest

There’s a range of emotions before a game, and that’s easy to see on the faces of NFL players, even behind their masks:



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Washington coach Ron Rivera plans for another halftime IV treatment Sunday

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After getting an IV treatment at halftime of last weekend’s regular-season opener, Washington Football Team head coach Ron Rivera plans to do the same for Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals if he needs it.

“If I’m feeling it, I will tell our head trainer [Ryan Vermillion] that I need it,” Rivera said Friday before his team left for Arizona.

Rivera, 58, was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma located in a lymph node this past summer. The cancer is in the early stages and is considered “very treatable and curable,” but Rivera still is learning how to deal with it.

For instance, Rivera now usually goes to bed at 9 p.m., about two hours earlier than he usually has during his decorated coaching career. He gets treatments that sometimes throw off the timing of his days.

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Sources — NFL senior VP of officiating Al Riveron missed Week 1 because of coronavirus

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Al Riveron, the NFL’s senior vice president of officiating, was not in the league office’s replay command center last Sunday for the Week 1 games because he was at home in Miami battling the coronavirus, league sources told ESPN.

But Riveron said Saturday that he will return to the command center Sunday for Week 2 and is “feeling great.” To date, Riveron is the highest-profile NFL employee who has been forced to miss a game day because of COVID-19.

With Riveron out last Sunday, it was next man up: The NFL’s vice president of instant replay, Russell Yurk, stepped into the role that Riveron usually has on game day, being a critical voice on any disputed replay call.

Most team owners, head coaches and general managers don’t know who is in the officiating command center in New York, and they certainly don’t know the depth chart. They didn’t know that some of their fates last Sunday were being decided by Yurk, who was a replay official under former NFL VP of officiating Dean Blandino and started in the league office with Riveron in 2017.

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