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Owner Jimmy Haslam among Browns contingent at Sam Darnold’s pro day – Cleveland Browns Blog

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Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam was among those viewing as Sam Darnold was slinging in the rain Wednesday at USC.

Haslam was one member of a large contingent present to evaluate the quarterback the Browns are pondering taking with the first overall pick in the NFL draft. In an unusual twist, Darnold chose to keep throwing after a heavy rain started a few minutes into his workout. He received generally favorable reviews from analysts for his footwork, arm strength and accuracy.

Those Browns in attendance for the workout included Haslam, general manager John Dorsey, coach Hue Jackson, offensive coordinator Todd Haley and quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese. Haslam sat with Darnold’s parents during part of the workout. On Tuesday night, the Browns took Darnold out to dinner. Haslam was not present to scout Darnold, but more to get to know him with the rest of the Browns staff.

“He’s a great guy,” Darnold said of Haslam on the NFL Network. “That whole staff is awesome. I was able to meet with the Giants as well [on Monday]. Just meeting with both of those organizations, like I said before, those people are at the top of the world right now and I’m trying to impress them but at the same time be myself. So there is a fine line between that, and I just tried to find that and do my best.”

Part of the reason the Browns sent such a large contingent to Los Angeles is because Darnold did not throw at the scouting combine. Darnold, who will turn 21 in June, chose not to go inside when it started raining, in part because he wanted to show he could handle the elements, and because he did not think it was fair to his USC teammates to move the time of the workout. Another factor is that USC’s indoor facility is not large enough for deep passes, ESPN’s Keyshawn Johnson said during the workout.

Though there were several dropped passes, Darnold was praised for his accuracy and mobility. He also focused on showing that he had worked at holding onto the ball with two hands (he had 21 fumbles in two seasons at USC). He did not seem to do anything to hurt his draft standing, and might even have improved his cause.

“Just being aware of all those little things and then just coming out here and ripping it,” Darnold said. “I thought I did a pretty good job.”

Darnold said during an interview with ESPN that he’s eager to go to a team that wants him. He is well aware that the Browns traded for Tyrod Taylor to be the team’s starting quarterback.

“It’d be awesome to go No. 1, just because I think what the Browns are doing is really good right now and I think they have potential to be a really good team in the future,” Darnold said. “Just based on that, yeah, a part of me really wants to go 1. But at the same time, if they don’t want me and they don’t pick me, that’s the best situation. Because I don’t want to go to a team that doesn’t want me.”

This is a busy time for quarterback pre-draft workouts. Josh Rosen had his workout at UCLA on Tuesday. The Browns will visit and work out Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield on Thursday. On Friday, it’s on to Wyoming, where Josh Allen will have his pro day. Allen is also viewed as a possibility for the Browns at No. 1.

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Atlanta Falcons’ Matt Ryan says win over Carolina Panthers may be ‘confidence builder’

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It has been a disappointing and, at times, embarrassing season so far for the Atlanta Falcons, but quarterback Matt Ryan wants to think that Thursday’s victory in Carolina could be the spark for yet another second-half surge.

The Falcons held on to a fourth-quarter lead for just the second time in five games in 2020 thanks to a Todd Gurley touchdown run and an interception by Blidi Wreh-Wilson and beat the Panthers 25-17 at Bank of America Stadium.

“I hope it’s the start of something,” Ryan said. “I really feel like, although we’re 2-6, I feel like we’ve been in some tight ones. We’ve played some good football. I think we can play some really tough football here in the second half of the season.”

The Falcons did that in 2019, following a 1-7 start with a 6-1 finish that included victories in the final four games. Can they repeat that over the next two months?

It won’t be easy. They have a winnable game against Denver next week, but after their bye they play New Orleans twice in a three-week span. Then there’s two games against Tampa Bay and one against Kansas City, as well, in addition to games against the Las Vegas Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers. The Broncos and Chargers are the only opponents remaining with losing records.

“We’ve been in every game we’ve played this year,” Ryan said. “We’ve had some crazy losses, just to be frank, and I really believe that we’ve got the caliber of team to go be in the games we’re going to play the rest of the season.

“Why can’t we win them all? That’s the mindset that I have.”

The way the Falcons beat the Panthers gives Ryan hope. They overcame a 2-for-6 performance in the red zone and the loss of leading receiver Calvin Ridley to an ankle injury. The Falcons held a 13-minute advantage in time of possession, totaled 401 yards, held the Panthers to 2-of-10 on third down and sacked quarterback Teddy Bridgewater three times.

Ryan also pitched in with a 13-yard touchdown run, the longest of his career, to become just the third quarterback in franchise history to have double-digit rushing touchdowns. He trails only Michael Vick (21) and Steve Bartkowski (11).

Thursday was just the second time this season that the Falcons won a game in which they entered the fourth quarter with a lead. They had been 1-3 in that situation, including last week’s loss to Detroit on the game’s final play. The Falcons led the Lions 14-13 in the fourth quarter but Todd Gurley’s touchdown run left the Lions with too much time and Matthew Stafford’s TD pass to T.J. Hockenson gave the Lions a 23-22 victory.

That was just the latest — and most painful — fourth-quarter flop. The Falcons blew a five-point lead in Week 2 in a 40-39 loss to Dallas and a 16-point lead in Week 3 to Chicago.

Until the victory over the Panthers, the Falcons’ only hold on a fourth-quarter lead was two weeks ago against Minnesota.

“It just felt like it was going to be a different night,” Ryan said. “Our defense stepped up and did a great job making plays. I’m happy for them. To come through in that type of situation, that’s a confidence builder for us moving forward.”

And, Ryan hopes, the start of another second-half rally.

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Hit on Carolina Panthers’ Teddy Bridgewater draws ejection for Atlanta Falcons’ Charles Harris

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Atlanta Falcons defensive end Charles Harris was ejected in the third quarter of Thursday night’s 25-17 win over the Carolina Panthers after a vicious hit that briefly sidelined quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

Bridgewater was scrambling on the third-and-7 play when he was tripped and went down for a 2-yard loss. Harris came in after Bridgewater was down and delivered a blow to the helmet.

Bridgewater went to the sideline tent to be checked for a possible concussion. He came out a few minutes later and began throwing on the sideline.

Bridgewater returned in the fourth quarter after clearing concussion protocol.

Former XFL star P.J. Walker took over at quarterback for three plays and the Panthers settled for a 39-yard field goal to pull within 19-17.

Bridgewater was 10-for-15 passing for 112 yards and a touchdown before the play.

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Atlanta Falcons receiver Calvin Ridley ruled out vs. Carolina Panthers with ankle injury

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Atlanta Falcons receiver Calvin Ridley suffered a left ankle injury during the first half of Thursday’s game against the Carolina Panthers.

Ridley was hurt when he was tackled by safety Jeremy Chinn at the end of a 19-yard catch-and-run late in the first half. He limped off the field and went to the locker room. He was originally listed as questionable to return but was ruled out early in the second half.

Ridley, who had three catches for 42 yards at the time of his injury, entered the game as the Falcons’ leader in receptions (40), receiving yards (615) and receiving touchdowns (six). The Falcons have relied on him heavily because Julio Jones had missed two games with a hip injury.

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