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Saints rule out Alvin Kamara, Jared Cook vs. Bears

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METAIRIE, La. — The New Orleans Saints‘ four-game win streak will be put to a serious test Sunday at Chicago. The team has ruled out running back Alvin Kamara and tight end Jared Cook because of injuries.

Kamara (ankle, knee) and Cook (ankle) rank second and third on the team in passing targets behind wide receiver Michael Thomas and are tied for second with two touchdowns apiece. But neither practiced this week after being injured during Sunday’s game at Jacksonville.

Replacing Kamara will be veteran backup Latavius Murray, who was a No. 1 back in both Oakland and Minnesota. Veteran tight end Josh Hill will be among those filling in for Cook.

Kamara, who leads the Saints with 649 yards from scrimmage, first showed up on the injury report on Oct. 10 with an ankle injury. But he played through it before also “tweaking” his knee early against the Jaguars, according to coach Sean Payton.

The running back finished the game but was still feeling the effects this week.

Payton was asked if things like the Saints’ winning streak and 5-1 record ever factor into decisions about whether to rest injured players. The coach said that’s not the case here.

“I’m asked this a lot,” Payton said. “[But] we take the medical, the science relative to the player being ready to play or not. And we don’t factor in, ‘Well, we have a bye, or we have [other circumstances].’ It’s, ‘Is the player healthy to play?’ And if he is, then we’ll play him. And if he’s not, then we won’t.

“I think the exceptions to that might be when you get into the postseason. But I think you really try to pay attention to where the player is relative to his recovery and his injury and being smart.”

The Saints signed Murray to a four-year, $14.4 million contract in free agency to both complement Kamara and be available for situations like this.

Murray, 29, has 3,836 career rushing yards, 950 career receiving yards and 35 touchdowns. He made the Pro Bowl with the Raiders with 1,066 rushing yards in 2015, then ran for a total of 1,420 yards over the past two years while splitting time in the Vikings’ backfield.

“Look, he’s a real good football player. And we knew when we signed him there was a vision and a role,” Payton said of the 6-foot-3, 230-pounder. “He runs zone schemes well. He’s smart. He knows how to block the pressure and handle some of the third-down situations.”

Murray has not played a substantial role with the Saints yet, with 32 carries for 138 yards and a touchdown, plus nine receptions for 67 yards. But his touches have steadily increased each week. He had his best performance to date at Jacksonville last week; it would have looked even better if his 42-yard touchdown catch had not been nullified by a questionable holding penalty.

“I’ve been feeling good since Week 1, but I just think it’s one of those things where the more I’m in this offense, every day in practice, the more comfortable I’m definitely gonna be,” said Murray, who ran eight times for 44 yards and caught three passes for 35 yards last week. “For sure, being in this offense and continuing to get the reps has definitely helped.”

Cook, who also joined the Saints this year in free agency, will be missed at a time when he was finally starting to find a groove. Over the past two weeks, he caught a total of seven passes for 78 yards with his first two touchdowns of the season.

The Saints ruled out quarterback Drew Brees for the fifth straight game with his thumb injury — though he is on the mend after starting to throw a regulation-sized football again last week. They also ruled out wide receiver Tre’Quan Smith (ankle) and defensive end Trey Hendrickson (neck).

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Myles Garrett suspension for Steelers-Browns fight

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On Thursday night, Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett committed the closest thing we’ve seen to an on-field crime in the modern era of pro football. Only one response will suffice. The NFL must issue the longest suspension for a single on-field act in its history, ending Garrett’s 2019 season with six games remaining on the Browns’ schedule and making clear to the world that what happened at FirstEnergy Stadium is one of the worst moments on the field in its history.

Such discipline, as harsh as it might seem, won’t be particularly controversial to anyone who saw Garrett rip off Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph‘s helmet and then use it to pummel his unprotected head. If Garrett hit someone with a helmet on the streets of Cleveland, he would face arrest. The outburst left grizzled football veterans gasping at its sheer violence, a throwback matched by only a handful — if any — of intentional acts in 100 years of league play.

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Myles Garrett hits Mason Rudolph in the head with a helmet as a fight breaks out at the end of the Steelers-Browns game.

The length of Garrett’s absence shouldn’t be too tough for the NFL to figure out. It suspended Oakland Raiders linebacker Vontaze Burfict indefinitely earlier this season for an accumulation of on-field acts, culminating with a helmet-to-helmet hit, but the longest suspension it has issued for a single on-field incident is five games. That happened in 2006 when then-Tennessee Titans defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth ripped the helmet off Dallas Cowboys center Andre Gurode and then kicked and stomped on his face. Gurode needed 30 stitches to close the wounds.

Rudolph was lucky to avoid a similar fate, or worse. The stunned expression on the face of Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield, speaking moments later in an interview on Fox, depicted the weight of the scene. Mayfield couldn’t summon an ounce of defense for his teammate.

“It’s inexcusable,” he said. “That’s just endangering the other team. … The reality is he is going to get suspended. We don’t know how long, and that hurts our team.”

Don’t forget that Rudolph was knocked unconscious last month by a hit to his helmet and missed one game. The contact from that blow, initiated by Baltimore Ravens safety Earl Thomas, was so severe that Rudolph’s eyes were closed before he hit the ground. If you knew that context, you were surely cringing as you saw Garrett bash Rudolph’s head, topped off by Browns defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi pushing Rudolph to the ground from behind. Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey then entered the fray, kicking and punching Garrett and escalating the scene to a point where it wouldn’t have been surprising to see police officers on the field. (Rudolph did pull at Garrett’s helmet while both were on the ground, but that bit of aggressiveness hardly merited the response.)



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‘Craziest thing I have ever seen on a football field’

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The Cleveland Browns were seconds away from wrapping up their second straight win when bedlam ensued.

Browns defensive end Myles Garrett ripped the helmet off Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph and hit him over the head with it. Garrett was then taken down by Steelers linemen David DeCastro and Maurkice Pouncey, who kicked Garrett when he was on the ground. Benches cleared before order was restored. Garrett, Larry Ogunjobi and Pouncey were ejected, and suspensions are expected.

Here’s how the NFL world reacted across social media on Thursday night:



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Quincy Enunwa blasts Jets on social media after $27,900 fine

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New York Jets wide receiver Quincy Enunwa, who suffered a season-ending neck injury in Week 1, blasted the organization Thursday after he was fined for missing medical treatments.

In a series of tweets, Enunwa said he missed two treatments (Nov. 8 and 11) and was fined $27,900, the maximum allowed under the collective bargaining agreement. He called it “excessive.”

“Given everything that’s going on around the team I thought this could’ve been handled so many different ways,” he tweeted. “I’ve spent my time with the team trying to build myself up to be dependable and hardworking so this s— hurts.”

Enunwa, who is on injured reserve, became the second player to publicly express frustration with a medical-related issue. Earlier in the season, guard Kelechi Osemele was fined for conduct detrimental to the team because of a dispute over a shoulder injury. He wound up undergoing surgery, unauthorized by the team, and was released.

In his Twitter rant, Enunwa acknowledged that he missed the treatments and should have alerted the team beforehand. He explained that he missed Monday’s treatment because he took his wife, a veteran, out to lunch on Veterans Day. On Nov. 8, he “had to handle an emergency in my house.” The Jets declined to comment.

“The biggest reason is hurts is that I’m on IR for the second time in my career and the doctor told me I have a 50/50 chance of coming back to play,” Enunwa said. “I shouldn’t even have to be in that building being reminded every day of what I can’t do.

“This s— feels like punishment already and then they FINE me the max. And then want me to continue to do my rehab there and IF I get healthy they want me to play for them after.

“I’m not writing this for sympathy and never wanted to even say anything, but when multiple teammates are coming up to me saying it’s f—– up I don’t care to sit on it anymore.”

Enunwa, 27, missed the 2017 season because of neck surgery. He played well enough in 2018 to land a four-year, $33.4 million contract extension. He has received $10 million of the contract. His $6 million salary for 2020 was guaranteed for injury only at signing; it becomes fully guaranteed on the fifth day of the league year.

Enunwa has 119 career receptions for 1,617 yards and five touchdowns.

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