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What Todd Gurley’s lightened workload means for Malcolm Brown, Darrell Henderson – Los Angeles Rams Blog



THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — The Los Angeles Rams have implemented an every-other-day practice schedule for running back Todd Gurley throughout training camp.

The plan is to build Gurley’s workload so he’s prepared for the season opener against the Carolina Panthers, then is able to remain available through the season and into the playoffs. But Gurley and his left knee aren’t the only beneficiaries of his lightened training camp load.

Longtime backup Malcolm Brown and rookie Darrell Henderson have shared a bulk of the snaps with the starting offense in Gurley’s absence.

“The biggest learning point in this game is just having experience,” Brown said. “So being able to get the reps during practice when T.G. has those off days, I’m thankful for it, because it’s not doing anything but getting me better.”

Brown and Henderson could find themselves playing a significant role depending on the status of Gurley, although coach Sean McVay won’t commit to any increased playing time.

“That’s to be determined,” McVay said, when asked if Brown in particular could play a larger role this season on offense. “That’s a product of some of the other things that end up happening.”

The Rams matched an offer sheet from the Detroit Lions to keep Brown, a restricted free agent this offseason, paying him $3.3 million for another two seasons.

Brown, a 5-foot-11, 222-pound fifth-year pro, has enjoyed McVay’s starter treatment in preseason games. He has not played a snap, and is unlikely to, as McVay has attempted to shield most of his key players from injury.

Brown said sitting out the preseason has increased his confidence.

“It’s not just confidence in myself but these coaches and my teammates that have confidence in me,” Brown said. “And for the coaches to look at me as a player who may have a crucial role and not playing in the preseason and everything, that’s something I’m happy about, and it just kind of shows that the coaches have trust in me and confidence in me.”

Brown could have had a breakout last season when Gurley was out. But Brown was not available after suffering a clavicle injury in Week 13 against the Lions. His absence played a large role in the Rams signing free agent C.J. Anderson, who produced back-to-back 100-yard rushing performances against the Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers with Gurley and Brown sidelined.

“The more you’re around Malcolm, the more you appreciate him,” McVay said. “He can compete well in really all three phases. That’s as a runner, as a receiver and then if he’s asked to be involved in the protection element.”

Last season, Brown rushed for 212 yards in 43 carries and caught five passes for 52 yards and a touchdown in 12 games. He also was a standout on special teams.

“Malcolm’s been just Mr. Consistent ever since I’ve been here and has always filled in that role and that void if Todd is ever not able to go,” quarterback Jared Goff said. “I feel as comfortable with him and everything as I do with Todd.”

McVay called Henderson, a third-round pick from Memphis, the “change-of-pace back” he’s been in search of since he took over in 2017. But it remains to be seen what kind of impact the 5-foot-8, 208-pound Henderson can make as a rookie.

He came off the bench in the preseason opener against the Oakland Raiders and rushed for 13 yards in six carries. McVay noted some bright spots, but pointed to the nuances of the position as things Henderson must improve on.

He showed progress in Week 2 of the preseason against the Dallas Cowboys, when he rushed for 16 yards in six carries and caught all six of the passes he was targeted on for 38 yards — including an impressive 26-yard reception on third down.

“For the most part, he made some big-time catches, you could feel him in the pass game,” McVay said. “Not a whole lot of space in the run game, but I think overall, good ball security. It was a step in the right direction where he was on the screws with his assignments.”

Henderson said he has been able to adjust to the speed of the NFL quickly because of four joint practices with the Los Angeles Chargers and Raiders that preceded preseason games.

“I wouldn’t say [speed] was faster because from practice seeing the defense fly everywhere and like, going against the Raiders, I think it was kind of — it kind of had slowed down for me because seeing those guys fly around,” Henderson said.

Running back John Kelly, a sixth-round pick in the 2018 draft from Tennessee, also is making a push to secure a roster spot and a place in the rotation. Against the Cowboys, Kelly rushed for 11 yards in five carries and caught one pass for nine yards.

“He had some big-time catches that he ended up creating afterwards to get us in some third-and-manageables on a second-and-long,” McVay said. “He had some tough runs early on where he bounced it out on the perimeter on some of our downhill, direct runs.”

Brown called his training camp experience “Real solid” and said it was probably his “Best one yet.”

But, like McVay, he could not commit to an idea of increased playing time, despite the increase in practice reps.

“We going to see what happens,” Brown said. “We’re going to see.”

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DE Ansah cleared for Seahawks debut Sunday



RENTON, Wash. — Ezekiel Ansah is all set for his Seattle Seahawks debut.

According to Pete Carroll, the one-time Pro Bowl pass-rusher is expected to play extensively Sunday against the visiting New Orleans Saints.

“Ziggy’s ready to play, ready to play football,” Carroll said Friday. “So we’re excited to see that. It’s been a really good process to get him to this, where he’s in good shape, too. He’s worked hard and long, so he’s in better shape than sometimes when a guy is just coming back. So we’ll be able to get him a bunch of plays here in this game and look forward to his participation with us.”

Ansah signed with the Seahawks in May after having surgery to repair a shoulder injury that cut short his final season with the Lions. He appeared to be on track to play in the Seahawks’ Sept. 8 opener after returning to practice 12 days before. It was thus somewhat of a surprise when he was inactive for the first two games.

Carroll never fully committed to Ansah playing in Week 1 against the Cincinnati Bengals or last weekend against the Pittsburgh Steelers, giving his usual qualifiers ahead of time about needing to make sure that Ansah felt OK on game day. He gave no such qualifiers Friday.

“We took a shot at it,” Carroll said of Ansah returning in time for the opener. “He made it back to practice for Week 1 in time to do that, but we just felt like it would be better to continue to build his confidence in his return and all of that and just wait it out to secure the return. So hopefully that’s what happens.”

Ansah, 30, echoed Carroll’s remarks about long-term thinking with his health.

“I think we all got to understand that it’s a marathon and not a sprint,” Ansah said. “If I was good enough, I would be on the field.”

The Seahawks list three players as questionable for Sunday: safety Tedric Thompson, cornerback Tre Flowers and running back Rashaad Penny, who was a late addition to their injury report after hurting his hamstring late in Friday’s practice. Flowers turned his ankle Thursday and will be a game-time decision along with Thompson, who missed the Steelers game with a hamstring injury.

With cornerback Neiko Thorpe listed as doubtful with a hamstring injury, Akeem King or Jamar Taylor would step in for Flowers at right cornerback if need be. Lano Hill started last weekend in Thompson’s absence. Carroll said he wouldn’t hesitate to give C.J. Prosise snaps behind Chris Carson if Penny can’t play.

The Seahawks expect to have receiver David Moore back from the shoulder injury that kept him out of the first two games. Defensive tackle Poona Ford will also return after missing the Pittsburgh game with a calf injury. Right guard D.J. Fluker was a full participant Friday and was not listed with any game designation, meaning he’s expected to play despite an ankle injury.

The Seahawks listed Ansah as a full participant in all three practices this week. Carroll said he’ll wear some sort of device on his surgically repaired shoulder, though he didn’t specify that it was a harness.

Ansah said his conditioning feels “great” and added that before he began practicing, “it’s all I did, run around all day every day.”

The Seahawks signed Ansah after trading Frank Clark, who had played the weakside end spot known as the “Leo” in Carroll’s defense. Ansah pivoted away from a question about whether his role in Seattle’s defense differs from what he did in Detroit.

“Detroit is the past,” he said. “I’m just looking forward to what we can do with this team collectively. So far so good. You can see the production we’ve been putting on the field and I’m just excited to be a part of that.”

As for playing opposite another Pro Bowler in Jadeveon Clowney for the first time Sunday?

“I’m super excited to play with him,” Ansah said. “He’s a great guy off the field, and we all know what he can do on the field.”

Said Carroll: “I couldn’t be more excited to see these guys play together and get going. JD’s just getting started, too. It’s pretty fun. Can’t wait to see what it looks like.”

The one-year deal Ansah signed with Seattle includes a base value of $9 million and has $1.5 million available in roster bonuses tied to being active on game day. That means he lost out on two bonuses worth $93,750 apiece by being inactive the first two weeks. But he also made that same amount in per-game bonuses that are tied to being on the 53-man roster. Ansah can make another $4.25 million in incentives.

Carroll’s Friday afternoon media session was held minutes after news broke that the Patriots were releasing Antonio Brown. He was asked if the Seahawks would look into Brown, having spoken with him before he signed with New England.

“We’re pretty well set right now,” Carroll said. “We kinda know where we’re going with that.”

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Artist says Antonio Brown sent ‘intimidating’ texts



The lawyer for a woman who earlier this week alleged sexual misconduct by Antonio Brown reached out to the NFL on Thursday night after the wide receiver apparently sent what were described as threatening text messages to her client, Sports Illustrated reports.

Attorney Lisa J. Banks wrote the NFL, asking the league to stop alleged conduct by Brown that she deemed as “intimidating and threatening to our client, in violation of the NFL Personal Conduct Policy,” according to the report. The NFL responded quickly, setting up a phone call between league investigators and the woman’s attorneys.

The woman told SI that, on Wednesday night, she received a group text message that appeared to come from the same phone number Brown gave to her in 2017, when she was hired by the wide receiver to paint a mural in his suburban Pittsburgh home. The text chain had four other numbers on it, SI reported.

The woman said she believes Brown was encouraging others in the group to investigate her, describing her as a “super broke girl” and asking someone he refers to as “Eric B” to “look up her background history.” He then sent a screenshot of an Instagram photo she had posted showing the faces of her young children, adding “those her kids … she’s awful broke clearly.”

The texter accused the woman of fabricating her account of a 2017 incident for cash.

The text messages, sent while Brown was a member of New England Patriots, were viewed by some in the organization to have crossed the line, a source told ESPN on Friday, shortly after the Patriots released the embattled wide receiver less than two weeks after signing him.

“The NFL and the Patriots clearly took our client’s concerns seriously,” Banks and law firm partner Debra Katz said in a statement Friday. “She wanted the threats and intimidation to stop and we hope that will be the case. The NFL has assured us that regardless of Antonio Brown’s roster status, it will continue to investigate all claims regarding his behavior.We are gratified that the NFL recognized that it has an important role to play in policing player conduct that is sexually harassing and threatening.”

The woman’s allegations were first included within a Sports Illustrated story published Monday that detailed multiple domestic incidents involving Brown.

According to SI’s initial report, Brown had hosted a charity softball game in Pittsburgh to benefit the National Youth Foundation, a Pennsylvania-based volunteer group of women that promotes inclusion and gender equality, as well as developing academic skills in kids. The event had an auction that included artwork, and Brown agreed to purchase a portrait of himself before befriending the artist who created it.

Brown invited the artist to come to his home to create another painting of him, according to the report, arranging for transportation from New York to western Pennsylvania. The artist told SI she was thrilled by Brown’s willingness to share her work on social media, but on her second day in Pennsylvania, things changed.

According to the report, which did not include the artist’s name, she “was in a kneeling position while painting and turned to find Brown behind her, naked, holding a small hand towel over his genitals.” The artist said she didn’t stop painting and that “after that, it all ended abruptly.”

Brown paid her $2,000 for the mural, according to SI, and didn’t contact the artist thereafter.

The artist is not pursuing charges or remuneration, according to SI.

After SI published its story Monday, Brown’s attorney, Darren Heitner, tweeted that his client denied he ever acted inappropriately.

Heitner told SI he had not advised Brown to communicate with the woman but otherwise declined comment when reached Thursday.

Messages sent by SI to Brown’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, were not immediately returned Thursday, according to the report.

The woman’s allegations are separate from those of Britney Taylor, Brown’s former trainer who filed a civil suit in Florida earlier this month. In the lawsuit, she alleges that Brown sexually assaulted her in three separate incidents, two in June 2017 and another in May 2018.

NFL investigators met with Taylor on Monday, and a source previously told ESPN that there are “more interviews and information gathering being conducted now beyond Taylor.” It remains unclear when or if Brown will interview with the league.

Brown, who was signed by the Patriots on Sept. 9 — before Taylor’s lawsuit was filed — and made his season debut Sunday against the Miami Dolphins, spoke publicly Thursday for the first time since the allegations came out. During the brief media session, Brown was not directly asked a question about his reaction to Taylor’s lawsuit and deflected a question on whether he has heard from the NFL about being able to play throughout the 2019 season.

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What now for Antonio Brown? Answering the biggest questions around his release



Antonio Brown has been released by his second NFL team in less than two weeks. The New England Patriots announced Friday that they were parting ways with the star wide receiver, whom they signed when he was released by the Oakland Raiders just before Week 1.

Brown has been publicly accused of sexual misconduct by two different women in the time since the Patriots signed him, and once new allegations of his behavior toward one of those women surfaced overnight Thursday, the Patriots decided they’d had enough.

It has been a bizarre saga for Brown since he forced his way out of Pittsburgh via trade during the offseason. His time with the Raiders was marked by controversy over his preferred choice of helmet, the accidental freezing of his feet in a cryotherapy chamber and a public feud with team management over fines for missing work. The Patriots agreed to terms with him hours after his release from Oakland on Sept. 7, but it wasn’t long before far more serious controversies began to surface.

Brown is under NFL investigation and without a job. Here’s a look at some of the key facts of the situation as it stands:

Why did the Patriots cut him now?

The Patriots claim that they did not know, when they signed Brown on Sept. 9, that his former trainer Britney Taylor was planning to file a lawsuit against him alleging sexual assault. She did that three days later, but New England kept him on the team last week, and he played in their victory over the Miami Dolphins.

This week, a Sports Illustrated story was published that included a fresh allegation of sexual misconduct against Brown by a different woman. That woman told Sports Illustrated on Thursday that Brown had sent her intimidating and threatening texts after the story ran, and her attorneys said Thursday they were sharing those texts and that information with league investigators. The Patriots woke up to that news Friday morning and, according to sources, held a series of meetings to determine the best course of action in light of the most recent development and all of the issues that were piling up around Brown.

Coach Bill Belichick, who has control over the composition of the team’s roster, walked out of his regular Friday news conference because he didn’t want to answer questions about Brown and the reporters who cover the team understandably kept asking them anyway. Several hours later, the Patriots released a short statement that read, “The New England Patriots are releasing Antonio Brown. We appreciate the hard work of many people over the last 11 days, but we feel that it is best to move in a different direction at this time.”

Will the NFL take action against him, too?

The NFL’s investigation into Brown’s off-field conduct began Monday when league investigators interviewed Taylor, who filed the lawsuit last week accusing Brown of sexual assault. That investigation, a league source said Friday after Brown’s release, “will continue.” The league has been interviewing other witnesses besides Taylor this week and has been gathering information on all of the accusations against Brown. At this time, the league is not scheduled to interview Brown. Usually, the interview with the player happens at the end of the investigation, after the league has compiled all of its evidence against him.

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