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News, Scores, Teams, Stories & More on Northeast OH Sports on cleveland.com

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    Tampa Bay started a relief pitcher on Sunday and the Cleveland Indians' offense never caught up in a 6-4 loss to the Rays.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Tampa Bay's unconventional strategy of starting a relief pitcher proved highly effective Sunday in a 6-4 victory against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field.

    Rays manager Kevin Cash started using "openers" in late May, beginning games with a relief pitcher who then gives way to a starter or long reliever after one or two innings. Cash trotted out reliever Diego Castillo in Sunday's series finale and inserted lefty Ryan Yarbrough after Castillo allowed a leadoff single to Yandy Diaz in the second inning.

    Yarbrough (13-5, 3.68) proceeded to shut down Cleveland's offense for the next five innings, allowing a run on two hits while striking out three and walking one.

    "They start a power right-hander, then go with a lefty that spins the ball and throws a changeup," Francona said. "He threw a ton of strikes and for the most part kind of kept us off the barrel."

    Lefty Adam Kolarek followed Yarbrough by tossing two scoreless innings, and the Rays survived a three-run Indians rally in the ninth that featured RBI hits from Jose Ramirez and Melky Cabrera. Tampa reliever Jose Alvarado picked up his seventh save by retiring Jason Kipnis, who represented the tying run at the plate.

    The Indians were already down six runs by the time Michael Brantley and Ramirez broke through with back-to-back hits against Yarbrough in the seventh. Ramirez's RBI single bounced off C.J. Cron's glove at first base and allowed Brantley to score the Tribe's first run.

    Francona said the challenge in countering Tampa's "opener" strategy isn't trying to predict who will come out of the bullpen next, it's that whomever that is generally has a quality arm.

    "What's challenging is that they're good," Francona said. "I think Cashie is doing a really good job with their pitching. The way they use them, the way they bring them in. You can tell he's having fun with it."

    Yarborough's effort was backed by some brilliant defense from Rays rookie Joey Wendle at third base. Wendle twice robbed Cleveland's Francisco Lindor of extra-base hits with diving stops behind the bag in the third and sixth innings.

    Indians starter Carlos Carrasco (16-8, 3.52) allowed solo home runs to Brandon Lowe in the second inning and Cron in the fourth before Wendle and Tommy Pham chased him from the game with back-to-back RBI extra-base hits in the seventh.

    "Overall he was pretty good," Francona said of Carrasco. "He spins the ball so well that even when he doesn't have his best fastball he's still pretty effective."

    Lowe added a two-run double against Tribe reliever Neil Ramirez and a double in the ninth off Josh Tomlin for his first career three-hit game.

    What it means

    In the race for home-field advantage in the ALDS, the AL Central-leading Indians fell to 6 games behind the AL West-leading Astros. Houston hosts the Los Angeles Angels in a Sunday Night Baseball showdown at 8:05 p.m. with Angels rookie Shohei Ohtani making his return to the mound.

    The Indians, despite losing to the Rays on Sunday, saw their Magic Number to clinch the division drop to 13 because Minnesota lost to Texas.

    Nice throw

    Indians right fielder Melky Cabrera kept the Rays from adding to their lead in the sixth when he threw out Cron, who was trying to advance on a fly ball. Cabrera's throw nailed Cron at third after the Rays' cleanup hitter had doubled to start the inning.

    Welcome to The Show

    Catcher Eric Haase, called up from Triple-A Columbus when rosters expanded on Saturday, made his big-league debut in the eighth inning behind the plate. In the bottom of the eighth, Haase struck out against Kolarek in his first major league at-bat.

    Tampa rookie Andrew Velazquez also made his big-league debut in the eighth, taking over in center field for the Rays.

    The pitches

    Castillo threw 16 pitches, 10 (62 percent) for strikes. Carrasco threw 107 pitches, 70 (65 percent) for strikes.

    Thanks for coming

    The Rays and Indians drew 26,535 fans to Progressive Field on Sunday afternoon. First pitch was at 4:10 p.m. with a temperature of 88 degrees.

    Next

    Kansas City comes to town for a three-game series beginning Monday. Right-hander Adam Plutko (4-4, 4.94) will face Royals righty Jakob Junis at 4:10 p.m. The game will air on SportsTime Ohio and can be heard on WTAM and WMMS.

    Plutko will be making his first start against the Royals, while Junis is 0-2 with an 8.05 ERA in four appearances (three starts) against Cleveland in his career.


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    The ongoing prank war between Terry Francona and Kevin Cash escalated Sunday to include Francona's beloved scooter.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The ongoing prank war between Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona and his buddy, Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash, escalated Sunday to include Francona's beloved scooter, the innocent means of transportation he uses to get back and forth from Progressive Field to his downtown apartment.

    Cash wheeled the scooter onto the infield during Tampa's batting practice. Word is there was a bounty on the bike for whichever Tampa hitter could do the most damage.

     

    When asked how the scooter ended up between second and third base, Cash told reporters that he fully expects retribution.

    "That's all right, I want him to know it was me," Cash said.

    In the past, Cash has had his own car windshield victimized in the ongoing back-and-forth between the two friends. Cash was a backup catcher in Boston from 2007-08 under Francona and was the bullpen coach in Cleveland from 2013-14.

    Francona is hardly innocent in all of this. Don't forget the scoreboard troll jobs that he pulled on Cash in 2016 and 2017 when the Rays visited Cleveland. Both times the ballpark's big screen displayed photos of Cash from his playing days and listed various less-than-flattering statistics, including Cash's .183 career batting average.

    For the most part, Cash has refrained from fighting back during the prank war. But Sunday's development could signal a change in approach.

    On Friday, somebody moved Francona's special dugout seat across the diamond and into the Rays dugout. The move appeared to be a setup, propagated by a member of Cleveland's bullpen crew.

    "That wasn't me," Cash said.

     


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    Former Ohio State quarterback Joe Burrow made his first college start on Sunday night in LSU's win over Miami.

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- LSU and Miami players got into a bit of a pregame dust-up on Sunday night before the teams met at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. There in the middle of it all was a smiling, laughing Joe Burrow clapping his hands and jawing at some of the Hurricanes payers. They jawed back and threw up "The U" sign with their hands.

    Anyone who watched Burrow put up video game numbers at Athens High School on his way to winning Ohio Mr. Football in 2014, or was around him during his three years at Ohio State wasn't surprised by that.

    Nor were they surprised by Burrow going out on the field and backing up his pregame smack talk in No. 25 LSU's 33-17 win.

    There was nothing showy about Burrow when he was a Buckeye, and not on Sunday night in his new purple and gold uniform. But he was always sure of himself. Confident when he went into a competition with Dwayne Haskins last spring, and confident when he chose to play for the Tigers when some thought maybe he'd opt for a more stable offense in a less difficult league when he transferred in May.

    He didn't set the world on fire in his debut, and that's fine. He was steady and poised, made plays when he had to, navigated some shaky pass protection against an aggressive Miami defense and finally got his career going with a win on a national stage.

    "He showed a lot of poise, was under a lot of duress and a lot of pressure, but he held it together and led this team" LSU coach Ed Orgeron told ABC after the game.

    It was a top-25 game televised nationally on a day when there were no other college football games. Burrow showed what many in Columbus already knew: He's good enough to have been a successful starter here had he not ended up in one of the most talent-stocked quarterback rooms in the country. And in Haskins and Burrow, Ohio State has two quarterbacks it can have fun watching this year.

    Their teammates, current and former respectively, certainly seemed to be enjoying it on Sunday.

    There seemed to be a sentiment among some of the fan base coming out of the spring that Burrow should have won the job over Haskins. That the only reason he fell behind was because of a broken throwing hand that sidelined him just before the 2017 season began. Haskins took the backup job and ran with it, and took a major step to being the starter this year with his performance in helping Ohio State come back against Michigan last year.

    Burrow would have been given the opportunity to compete for the starting job at OSU this summer, but told the ABC broadcast crew for Sunday's game that he saw the writing on the wall. Haskins came out of spring with a slight lead, according to Urban Meyer.

    That set Burrow on this path to LSU, where he secured a major career milestone on Sunday by beating Miami, ranked No. 8 in the country, and possibly set himself up for a special season. It's out there for both he and Haskins to get what they wanted this year, even if Burrow is now in a place he didn't anticipate he'd be when his career began.

    "When I committed everyone was talking about you're gonna go 6-6, 5-7," Burrow told ABC after the game. "Then I got here and thought we're a really talented team. We can be really good."

    The urge to compare the two this year will be strong, though not necessarily fair just yet. Haskins lit up Oregon State on Saturday. Burrow's numbers pale in comparison, but he also went against a defense stacked with NFL talent. His was a much more difficult proving ground and he held up well completing 11 of his 24 passes for 140 yards and rushing for 14 yards on four carries before taking a knee to end the game.

    Burrow wasn't overwhelmed by the moment, running hard the few times he was asked, including a fourth-quarter quarterback draw on third-and-10 backed up against his own end zone that he turned into 11 yards while reminding any Buckeye fans watching that he has some of J.T. Barrett's running skill set. But he's also got a strong arm that's developed over years of work. He had a couple of well-placed deep balls that were dropped early, and other strikes over the middle of the field that sustained scoring drives.

    He showed some high football acumen too, checking into safer runs a few times when reading blitz, one of which turned into LSU's first touchdown. 

    As far as measuring sticks go, Burrow's was more significant than Haskins' field day against Oregon State.

    Haskins will soon have his chance to show what he has on a national stage. That comes in two weeks when the Buckeyes play TCU at AT&T Stadium on Sept. 15. Kind of fitting that both he and Burrow will see their first big spotlight on the same stage just weeks apart.

    Hard to separate one from the other.

    For now though it seems better to appreciate how good the two guys competing for Ohio State's starting job this spring were, and enjoy watching both of them.


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    The Indians, 8-4 against the Royals this season, lost two out of them to them during their last trip.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Here is the preview and pitching matchups for the Indians' series against the Royals

    Where/when: Progressive Field, Monday through Wednesday.

    TV/radio: SportsTime Ohio, WTAM and WMMS will carry the series.

    Pitching matchups and starting times: RHP Jakob Junis (7-12, 4,53) vs. RHP Adam Plutko (4-4, 4.94) on Monday at 4:10 p.m.; LHP Danny Duffy (8-11, 4.72) vs. RHP Mike Clevinger (10-7, 3.17) Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. and RHP Brad Keller (7-5, 3.26) vs. RHP Corey Kluber (17-7, 2.80) Wednesday at 1:10 p.m.

    Series: The Indians lead the Royals, 8-4, this season. The Indians lead, 366-332, overall.

    Hot pitchers: Kluber is 5-1 with a 2.57 ERA in his last seven starts. His only loss came against the Royals on Aug. 25. Kevin McCarthy has allowed two earned runs in 20 1/3 innings in one-run games for the Royals.

    Hot hitters: Right fielder Melky Cabrera is hitting .369 (24-for-65) with five homers and 19 RBI since Aug. 12 for the Indians. Whit Merrifield is hitting .368 (32-for-87) with 15 runs, nine extra base hits and 14 RBI over his last 22 games for the Royals.

    Team updates: The Indians started this 10-game homestand by winning three out of four from the Twins, but lost two out of three to the Rays over the weekend. The Royals just finished an eight-game homestand by going 7-1 against the Indians, Detroit and Baltimore. It's the first time they've won three straight series since July 2017. In the series, they Royals slashed .332/.389/.597 with 15 homers and 51 runs.

    Disabled list: Royals: 3B Cheslor Cuthbert (back), RHP Jesse Hahn (right elbow), RHP Nate Karns (right elbow), RHP Ian Kennedy (left oblique), LHP Eric Skoglund (left elbow), OF Jorge Soler (left foot) are on the disabled list. C Salvador Perez (left thumb) is day to day.

    Indians - LHP Andrew Miller (left shoulder), RHP Trevor Bauer (right fibula), OF Leonys Martin (illness), CF Tyler Naquin (right hip), OF Lonnie Chisenhall (left calf), RHP Nick Goody (right elbow), RHP Danny Salazar (right shoulder) and RHP Cody Anderson (right elbow) are on the disabled list.

    Next: Indians open a seven-game trip on Thursday night against Toronto at Rogers Centre to start a three-game series.


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    Urban Meyer returned to the Ohio State football program on Monday following more than a month away from the team.

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Urban Meyer returns to the Ohio State football program on Monday following more than a month away from the team while he was on paid administrative leave and then served a suspension.

    That represents some return to normalcy for a team that's been without its head coach since Aug. 1, though coaches and players will tell you it's mostly been business as usual while Meyer has been out -- including a 77-31 win in the season opener against Oregon State on Saturday.

    "Obviously you notice that he's not there, but I can't stress enough how our coaching staff kept everything really the same," receiver Terry McLaurin said. "I've seen it all being a fifth-year senior, and literally nothing changed from our routine or about the way we prepared."

    Meyer had been on paid administrative leave from Aug. 1-22. He met with the team and staff briefly on Aug. 23 before officially going on suspension on Aug. 26 through Sept. 2.

    For a month it's been Ryan Day's team, as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach -- who's never been a head coach at any level -- was elevated to acting head coach in Meyer's stead. He's repeated several times that he never set out to replace Meyer, but simply keep his seat warm.

    Now they enter a two-week period where they'll share the seat.

    Meyer will be back in the building on Monday. The Buckeyes won't practice as the players have their NCAA-mandated day off. Any player in the building on Monday will be there voluntarily, though it's a safe bet many of them will stop in to welcome Meyer back.

    "I'm gonna be happy to see him, give him a big hug, and get ready for Rutgers," running back Mike Weber said.

    That's where things get interesting for OSU, arguably more interesting than they've been in the time Meyer was completely out of the picture. He can run practice like he normally would, and that begins on Tuesday. He can game plan, run meetings, recruit -- everything a head coach does -- but he can't coach in the next two games.

    For this week's game against Rutgers, and the following week against TCU, Meyer can help prepare the team but not be with it on Saturdays. His suspension is not technically totally over as he's in this weird limbo period where he can do everything but coach in the games. The stipulations of his lingering punishment are that he can't perform any duties as Ohio State's head coach in the 24 hours surrounding the next two games, and he can't be in the building on game day.

    The ABC broadcast of OSU's opener on Saturday reported that he watched the game from his home in Dublin, Ohio.

    So Meyer is back. But he's not back back.

    "When Coach gets back, we're looking forward to getting him back and looking forward to those meetings and kind of building as we go to Rutgers," Day said.

    Exactly how that all plays out will be interesting, and perhaps something Day can shed some light on when he meets with the media on Monday morning.

    The expectation is that Meyer will not hold his normal Monday news conference until Sept. 17, when he's fully back and allowed to coach in games again beginning with one at home against Tulane on Sept. 22.


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    Check here for the live final-round leaderboard for the PGA Tour's Dell Technologies Championship 2018 on Monday, Sept. 3, in Massachusetts.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Abraham Ancer (13-under) led by one shot entering the final round of the PGA Tour's Dell Technologies Championship 2018 on Monday, Sept. 3, in Massachusetts. Bryson DeChambeau and Tyrrell Hatton were tied for second.

    The Dell is the second of four events in the FedExCup Playoffs.

    For the final round, Silver Lake's Ryan Armour was paired with Phil Mickelson.

    PGA TOUR
    DELL TECHNOLOGIES CHAMPIONSHIP
    Site: Norton, Mass.
    Course: TPC Boston. Yardage: 7,342. Par: 71.
    Purse: $9 million. Winner's share: $1,620,000.
    Television: Monday -- 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Golf Channel; 1:30-6 p.m., NBC.
    Defending champion: Justin Thomas.
    FedExCup leader: Bryson DeChambeau.
    Previous week: Bryson DeChambeau won The Northern Trust.
    Notes: Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk will make three of his four wild-card picks after the tournament. ... European Tour players in the field cannot count any world ranking points from this event to the Ryder Cup standings. ... This is the second of four FedExCup playoffs events, culminating with the Tour Championship. The top 70 in the FedExCup advance to the third playoff event next week outside of Philadelphia. ... Rickie Fowler is taking another week off to rest an oblique injury. He is No. 22 in the standings and could fall out of the top 30. ... Rory McIlroy makes his first playoff event appearance this year. ... Tiger Woods fell five spots in the FedExCup standings to No. 25. He won at the TPC Boston in 2006 and was runner-up in 2004 and 2007. ... Brooks Koepka has another shot at replacing Dustin Johnson at No. 1 in the world. Koepka trails by a narrow margin. ... After this year, The Northern Trust will alternate years between Liberty National in New Jersey and the TPC Boston. ... The tournament began in 2003 and was run by the Tiger Woods Foundation. ... Jordan Spieth tied for 25th last week and moved up 10 spots to No. 33. He never has missed the Tour Championship in his previous five years on tour.
    Next week: BMW Championship.
    Online: www.pgatour.com
    (Fact box from Associated Press.)


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    The backup QB can give the opposition something to think about with a few run plays here or there each game.

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Ohio State offense is hooked on the quarterback run and trying to quit cold turkey with Dwayne Haskins. The Buckeyes' starting quarterback didn't run in Saturday's opener, scrambling twice but executing no called run plays, and he shouldn't run.

    He should throw. Often.

    But it's hard to abandon something that has been part of Urban Meyer's offensive gameplan his entire coaching career. And the few times in his life he's started a dropback quarterback, he's found a way to run the quarterback by putting someone else at quarterback.

    That's why backup QB Tate Martell should continue to get a few snaps a game, maybe a full series, maybe a surprise play in the red zone, as a regular part of the offense. Keep it up even if it didn't work Saturday.

    Martell made his OSU debut on the fifth series against Oregon State, taking Haskins' place. He ran zone-read with J.K. Dobbins on his first play, hesitated finding a hole, which was there, and was then was tackled for no gain as center Michael Jordan was beaten by a defensive lineman for one of the few times all game. On second down, Martell handed to Dobbins, who gained two yards.

    That brought Haskins back into the game to complete a third-and-8 pass and then finish what would be a 10-play, 59-yard touchdown drive. Martell got three more series with other backups, but that was his lone shot with the first team.

    Try it again.

    It will give opposing defensive coordinators something extra to work on during the week. It will serve as a way for Meyer and the Ohio State offense to scratch that quarterback run itch. Make a Martell series, or at Martell snap here or there, a normal part of the offense so both Haskins and Martell expect it.

    When it happens, it doesn't mean Haskins has failed or the offense is sagging. It doesn't mean Martell might stay in. It just means the Buckeyes are giving the defense another look. And if the first two plays bomb, bring Haskins back on third-and-long, just like Saturday, and let him sling it.

    A Martell series will keep the redshirt freshman (who's in line to start next year if Haskins heads to the NFL) happy, provide the offense a little twist and give Meyer a QB runner.

    A little Tate can do everyone some good.

    Buckeye Take is a quick 300- to 400-word column on a single aspect of Ohio State football. We're trying to replicate in written form the feel of our Buckeye Talk Podcast, where we drop a multitude of opinions every week. We know not all of you listen to the pod (though you should), and we don't want you to miss out on what we're thinking about the Buckeyes. 

    * Listen to our postgame Buckeye Talk podcast from Ohio State's win over Oregon State 


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    Whatever happened to the signed I beams intended for use in construction at Jacobs Field?

    CLEVELAND, Ohio - Progressive Field / Jacobs Field will mark a quarter century of hosting baseball games when the 2019 season opens.

    Ground was broken in 1992 on the park that has hosted more than 2,000 games. But it was 25 years ago that fans had a chance to sign on to the project - literally.

    Then-owner Dick Jacobs had suggested the idea for fans to sign support beams at the second Wahoo Winterfest held Feb. 6-7, 1993.

    After drawing 6,000 people for the inaugural fest in 1992, the team attracted about 9,000 fans at the Marriott Society Center in downtown Cleveland in 1993. Admission was $5 and included seminars, player appearances, displays and more.

    Initially, four steel beams were placed outside the center for fans to sign, said Glen Shumate, then Indians director of community relations and coordinator of the fest, at the time. But they quickly filled with signatures so four additional ones were brought in for the fest's second day. Signatures soon were scrawled over them, too.

    The Indians confirmed the beams are in the stadium but are not exposed.

    They were incorporated into the East Ninth Street stair tower near the right-field gate, says Jim Folk, the team's vice president of ballpark operations.

    He said the beams, which are approximately 12 feet long and are covered by brickwork and concrete masonry units, are supporting stairs in right-center field.

    Osborn Engineering, a firm with roots dating to the 19th century, worked on League Park, Cleveland Municipal Stadium and Jacobs Field.

    The first game at Jacobs Field was played April 4, 1994. Eric Plunk earned the win in relief as the Tribe beat the Seattle Mariners, 4-3, in 11 innings.

    The Indians' 2019 home opener is Monday, April 1, against the Chicago White Sox. Cleveland will host Toronto on Thursday, April 4, the 25th anniversary of the stadium's inaugural regular-season game.


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    Nassib and Meder were among five players waived by the Browns on Sunday afternoon to make room for waiver claims.

     CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Browns waived defensive linemen Carl Nassib and Jamie Meder on Sunday as part of the group of players let go to make room for their waiver claims. Center Austin Reiter, defensive back Jeremiah McKinnon and linebacker Jermaine Grace were also waived.

    The Browns claimed five players via waivers on Sunday afternoon: defensive linemen Carl Davis (from Baltimore) and Ifeadi Odenigbo (from Minnesota), offensive lineman Aaron Neary (from the Rams), defensive back Tavierre Thomas (from Arizona) and lienbacker Tanner Vallejo (from Buffalo).

    The Browns took full advantage of their spot atop waiver priority -- something they will maintain through the completion of Week 3. All told, 31 of the 53 players on the Browns' roster are new additions since the start of 2018.

    Earlier: Browns claim five players

    "As we sit here today, we have actually turned the roster over 59 percent from last year's roster," Browns general manager John Dorsey said in a statement. "That does not happen unless you have a plan. That plan was developed in mid-January with the input of the coaches and the personnel staff putting this thing together."

    Nassib, who took a star turn on Hard Knocks thanks to his financial advice and other comments caught as he was mic'd up, was a third-round pick in 2016 who seemed secure. He spent most of training camp and the preseason working with the second unit. The addition of two new defensive linemen pushed him out, however.

    Meder earned the nickname the Pierogi Prince of Parma from Joe Thomas after his blocked field goal helped the Browns win their only game in the last two seasons. He attended Valley Forge High School and started on the inside along the defensive line all camp and preseason.

    Reiter started a game for the Browns in 2016 in Washington. He was a part of one of the team's more successful games running the football, but he suffered a season-ending injury in that game. The Browns signed JC Tretter the following offseason.

    Davis is a 6-foot-5, 320 pound former third round pick by the Ravens in 2015. Odenigbo is 6-foot-3, 275 pounds out of Northwestern. He was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Vikings in 2017 and spent all of last season on their practice squad.

    Neary is officially a first year player, originally signed by Denver in 2016. He spent time on the Eagles and Rams practice squads and started at center during the Rams' Week 17 game last season.

    Thomas is an undrafted free agent signed by the Cardinals this past spring. 

    Vallejo is a former sixth-round pick by the Bills in 2017 out of Boise State. He appeared in 15 games last season and in the Bills' playoff loss to Jacksonville.

    The Browns roster now stands at 53 players. They open their season Sunday against Pittsburgh at FirstEnergy Stadium.


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    Legendary Maple Heights coach Mike Milkovich helped turn Ohio into a national wrestling hotbed. He died Monday, Sept. 3.

    MAPLE HEIGHTS, Ohio - The King of Ohio high school wrestling died Monday at age 96.

    Mike Milkovich, the patriarch of a powerhouse wrestling family and program as the great Maple Heights High School coach for 27 years, passed away from what doctors said was complications from pneumonia and old age.

    Milkovich was a charter member of the Ohio Wrestling Hall of Fame and also one of the few high school coaches elected to the Helms National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Oklahoma. From 1949 to 1977, he coached the Mustangs to 16 undefeated seasons, 10 state championships, nine state runner-up finishes and had 37 individual state champions. His teams' overall record in dual meets was 262-25-2 (a .912 winning percentage).

    All were state records at the time he retired in 1977. Milkovich also guided the Mustangs to a record 103 consecutive dual meet victories from 1963-72 (still a record).

    "I'm proud of those winning streaks because we've taken on all comers,'' Milkovich said in 1977. "It's not my nature to back away from tough teams.''

    More than 3,000 fans packed the Maple Heights gym for Milkovich's final match in 1977, at which he wore his trademark long-sleeve red shirt.

    "I'm getting old and tired,'' he said then. "It's time for the younger generation to take over. But wrestling will always be in my blood. It's been my whole life.''

    While the records speak for themselves, Milkovich's nephew, Jamie Milkovich - the current Maple Heights coach - said his uncle's legacy was heightened as a promoter of the sport.

    "He was the first coach to wrestle dual meets at night, which attracted sellout crowds at our school," Jamie Milkovich said. "He also had cheerleaders and mat maids at our matches, formed a huge booster club and made sure we got coverage in newspapers."

    Jamie Milkovich was Mike's last state champ in 1977 at 145 pounds. Coincidentally, his first state champ was Jamie's father Paul in 1949.

    Mike Milkovich was a 145-pound state champion for Garfield Heights High in 1941, and he helped the Bulldogs win the state team title.

    A key to Milkovich's powerful teams was his establishment of junior high wrestling programs, where wrestlers could come to Maple Heights already knowing basic wrestling. Fittingly, Maple Heights named a new middle school for Milkovich in 2009. He was also the first coach in Ohio to have a summer wrestling camp in 1970.

    "My uncle was a very good technician," Jamie Milkovich said, "but he was a master motivator. He could reach kids who were not involved in any school activities and make them outstanding wrestlers."

    Among them were Milkovich's four sons. Tom was an undefeated three-time state champ and NCAA champ at Michigan State, Mike Jr. was a state champ and All-American at Kent State, Dan was third in the state and the youngest son Pat, while not a state champ, was a two-time national champ and four time NCAA finalist at Michigan State.

    "I really didn't want to wrestle in high school, but was afraid to tell my father so I told my mother (Barbara, now deceased) instead," Pat Milkovich said. "She said you'd better tell your father, and eventually told him I didn't want to wrestle. One stern look from him was all I needed to see to know I had no choice in the matter. My brothers and I learned we had to do what he told us. His word really was law.

    "But he never steered us wrong."

    Milkovich also had two daughters, Cathy and Beth. Funeral arrangements are pending.

    Milkovich was the plaintiff in a landmark 1990 U.S. Supreme Court libel ruling in which he sued the Lorain Journal Publishing Company, then owner of The News-Herald.

    Milkovich filed the suit in 1975 after News-Herald sports editor Ted Diadiun wrote a column accusing Milkovich of lying about his role in a brawl between Maple Heights and Mentor that took place in 1974 and was covered by Diadiun. The Ohio High School Athletic Association banned Maple Heights from the state tournament in 1975 because of the fracas. Maple Heights sued the OHSAA and got an injunction allowing it to compete at state. Diadiun wrote that Milkovich lied at that hearing. (Diadiun is a retired Plain Dealer and cleveland.com editor and current member of its editorial board.)

    The Supreme Court ruled opinion pieces do not have a blanket exemption from libel lawsuits and sent the case back to Ohio courts. The suit was settled out of court in 1991, by which time The News-Herald's owners had filed for bankruptcy. Milkovich told The Plain Dealer in 1991 he received more than $100,000.

    Bob Preusse, longtime high school wrestling writer for Amateur Wrestling News, said Milkovich was indeed the Mat King of Ohio wrestling.

    "Mike Milkovich was one of eight kids in his family," said Preusse. "His parents were poor Croatian immigrants. The family did not have enough to eat, and Mike struggled in school because he could not speak English. From these humble origins, a wrestling legend emerged."


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    Dwayne Haskins was named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week on Monday.

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Following his first career start, Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins earned Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week honors on Monday.

    Haskins completed 22 of 30 passes for 313 yards and five touchdowns in the Buckeyes' 77-31 win vs. Oregon State on Saturday.

    Four of his TD passes came in the first half of the game.

    The 313 yards passing and five TDs were the most by an Ohio State quarterback in his first start.


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    Ohio State plays its first Big Ten game on Saturday against Rutgers.

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State offensive coordinator and acting head coach Ryan Day, and defensive coordinator Greg Schiano are talking about Saturday's game against Rutgers. Here's what I'm thinking:

    * Not sure exactly what to call Day now. Urban Meyer is back in the building today, but he can't coach in the next two games. So I guess Day is just offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Sunday-Friday, and still acting head coach in addition to those other roles on Saturday.

    * One of the things I'm most interested in today, and it's possible Day hits on it in his opening statement, is how he and Meyer plan to balance that throughout the week. Day is expected in the room at 11:45 a.m. We might hear from defensive coordinator Greg Schiano today too.

    * Football sports information director Jerry Emig, who apparently is going to become a recurring character in this running diary, says we should be getting Schiano today too. He also gave me crap for texting him on a Sunday night to ask about the practice schedule this week with the holiday. He was joking ... I think.

    * Some things that jumped out in the game notes this week: 10 players made their first start against Oregon State ... Mike Weber is 92 yards away from becoming the 26th player in program history to rush for 2,000 yards ... the entire starting offensive line graded out as champions in the opener ... only two defensive players were champions against Oregon State, Nick Bosa and Dre'Mont Jones.

    * Hoping to ask Day again about the tempo OSU used on Saturday. Seemed like the fastest they've played since Meyer has been here. I asked after the game, but I think I did a poor job and didn't quite get the answer I was looking for. Not the first time that's happened. Beauty is I get a re-do today. Have a Dwayne Haskins question I want to ask Greg Schiano, but he'll obviously get a lot of questions about the defensive performance. Interested to hear how much of the struggles he attributes to youth.

    * Day at the podium now. First question about the dynamic between him and Meyer now. "Things are back to normal .. he can't coach on game days ... but other than that it's back to normal."

    * Urban Meyer was back in the building this morning. Day said there were some meetings, and some players have seen Meyer already this morning. Day said they broke down the game a little bit with Meyer, talked about the plan moving forward and then started preparing for Rutgers.

    * Some better insight on the tempo from Day today. Said it was the plan coming into the season to go faster with Haskins at QB, the athletes they have the conditioning of the linemen. Said he thought the play calling mechanism was smooth with him on the field and Kevin Wilson up in the box. I'm just so interested in if having a voice removed from the play calling allowed Ohio State to play faster. Tough to ask that without insulting Meyer, which isn't the point, but I think it may matter.

    * Day asked about Demario McCall, said he's just in a competitive and deep position group right now with Parris Campbell and K.J. Hill ahead of him.

    * Writing fast, apologies for any typos. I'll come back and clean it up when we're done here.

    * No opening statement from Day. Meyer usually gives one, going over champions and general thoughts from the game. I do get the sense that Day is a little uncomfortable speaking for the team now with Meyer in the building. Still answering every question though.

    * Day says game day routine stays the same. Only difference is that Meyer can't be with the team in the 24 hours around the game, and can't be in the stadium. Day making it sound like it will be business as usual, and I believe it mostly will be, but hard to see how it won't be a little challenging in this new dynamic.

    * Day sharing what Meyer told him about the offensive performance on Saturday: "You only had to punt once, huh?"

    * Day has loosened up a bit. Early read on him might have been premature.

    * Day said he texted Joe Burrow and his parents to tell him how happy he was to see him starting for LSU.

    * Tim Bielik gets a "good question" from Day asking about the running back rotation as it pertains to tempo. Said they would prefer to roll with a guy for one drive because when you sub, the refs stop you and allow the defense to sub.

    * Good question from Tim May about whether Day saw anything different from Oregon State's defense because of Dwayne Haskins' skill set. Day said not really, he didn't notice a less loaded box, but maybe some softer coverage.

    * Four-pack of questions from Tim May today. Gonna track that throughout the year because I love the way he asks questions.

    * That's all from Day. Pretty good stuff from him on the offense. Think Doug got some good answers on the type of throws Haskins made on Saturday. Schiano up next.

    * Final assessment on Day: Little uncomfortable answering questions as the head coach with Urban in the building, very comfortable and informative answering questions as the offensive coordinator. Makes sense.

    * Schiano up. Says he saw a lot of good with the defense. Handled some sudden changes well and scored on defense.

    * Schiano talking about young guys, said he looks on film to see if young guys look they belong. Mentioned specifically Tommy Togiai, Tyler Friday and Tyreke Smith as looking comfortable out there.

    * Rutgers starting a true freshman QB this week. Kid from New Jersey named Art Sitkowski. Schiano said he was familiar with him a bit because of the Jersey roots.

    * Good stuff from Schiano about knowing a young Dwayne Haskins in New Jersey. Excited to write about that this week. Hoping we get Dwayne this week so I can ask him about it. Dwayne grew up, as Schiano said, "across the river" from Rutgers campus.

    * Don't get the vibe from Schiano that Tuf Borland will be all the way back this week. Said he had a 10-play restriction against Oregon State, and about hit that. Said that play count will increase this week and then eventually both he and Baron Browning will rotate at middle linebacker. I think Borland's presence will really help the young linebackers moving forward.

    * Schiano getting asked a couple of the sentimental Rutgers questions he's been asked for the last three years. Clear he loves that place. He said his goal back in 2002 was the get Rutgers into the Big Ten. He thinks it belongs there. Don't think he's said that before.

    * Schiano said he's not concerned if a guy makes a mistake or misses a tackle because there should be overlap from the other 10 guys. That's what concerned him, guys out of position that turned 10-20 yard plays into 80-yard touchdowns. He'll live with big plays every now and then if they're a product of aggression, but it can't be that.

    * "One thing Jordan gives you is a sweeper back there, an insurance policy." Good quote from Schiano about what the defense missed with safety Jordan Fuller out against Oregon State. Wouldn't go as far as to say some of those big hits wouldn't have happened with Fuller back there, but good chance he would've been in the right position. Sounds like Fuller will play this week.

    * Schiano said Dre'Mont Jones and Nick Bosa were "off the charts" on Saturday. My opinion, that was the best I've seen both of them play against what shouldn't be a terrible Oregon State offensive line this year.

    * Another four-bagger from Tim May for Schiano. Love that guy.

    * Maybe some mixing coming in the nickel package to get some other guys a role. Schiano said he feels good about the top-three corners, but Shaun Wade and Marcus Williamson could see some time.

    That wraps up both Day and Schiano. Really good info from both. More coming at cleveland.com/osu. Thanks for following along.


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    Watch Gordon return to the practice field today in preparation for the Steelers. Watch video

    BEREA, Ohio -- Josh Gordon was back on the practice field Monday in preparation for Sunday's opener against the Steelers, as seen in the video above.

    Gordon, who returned to the team on Aug. 18th from his stint in treatment at the University of Florida, shook off his tweaked hamstring and rejoined his fellow receivers, at least in the early part of practice open to the media.


    If Gordon makes it through today okay, he'll likely be ready for a bigger workload on Wednesday when the Browns begin installing the full gameplan for the Steelers.

    Gordon went through agility drills and caught some passes from the QBs before the media was ushered out after 30 minutes. He showed no ill effects from the hamstring that's had him mostly working off to the side with trainers for the past week.

    It was great news for the Browns, who are solely focused on beating the Steelers.

    Conversely, the Steelers sent out a statement today saying they're disappointed that star running back Le'Veon Bell hasn't rejoined the team yet because of a contract dispute.

    Other Browns who returned to the field today included Seth DeValve (quad), Genard Avery (hamstring) and Damarious Randall (knee).

    Cornerback E.J. Gaines is still idle with his sprained knee, and linebacker James Burgess is idle with his concussion.

    As for Gordon, Tyrod Taylor said he believes he'll still have good chemistry with the 2013 Pro Bowl receiver.

    "We had a chance to do some things the last two days,'' Taylor said last week. "More importantly is that we're communicating and talking the same language once we get out there so both of us just being playmakers can go out there and react. Of course, you definitely have to spend time with him throwing. He is a talented guy. You put the ball around him, and he is going to make a catch. Just continue to keep building the chemistry mentally and physically."

    A couple of scenes on the fourth episode of Hard Knocks Tuesday night revealed that Gordon feels genuinely comfortable with the new offense.

    "Not too many new plays, which works good for me,'' he said to a fellow receiver while sitting at his locker when he first got back. "I'm a low-key surprised, though. Pretty much like the same s----. You've all been doing this for a month, two months? I pretty much know all of these, so I'm straight. They might as well let me practice today, give you all a break. I'm going to talk s-- from the sidelines today.
    I can't wait to get back out there.''

    He also told Fox sideline reporter Kristina Pink that he was on board with Jackson's decision not to start him against the Steelers.

    "It makes sense,'' he said. "You definitely don't want to come from a place of entitlement, and that's not where I'm coming from. I think anybody should have to step in and earn the right to play football in the National Football League. That doesn't put me beyond that. I'm not above reproach in any type of way.''

    * In other Browns news today, the players have earned their stripes. They were back on the helmets at practice.


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    The Indians will begin a hot three-game series against the Kansas City Royals on Monday afternoon at Progressive Field.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio-- Though the Indians cooled off by losing two of three to the Tampa Bay Rays over Labor Day weekend, the temperatures in Cleveland will remain on fire as the Tribe begins a three-game series with the Kansas City Royals.

    Indians vs. Royals - Monday, Sept. 3 4:10 pm

    For the Labor Day game between Cleveland and Kansas City, there is a chance of rain around first pitch, but that chance dwindles as the day wears on, according to the National Weather Service. 

    The NWS also indicates that temperatures will remain around 90 degrees with a heat index in the mid-90s until around 8 pm.

    Indians vs. Royals - Tuesday, Sept. 4 7:10 pm

    Tuesday won't be much different, despite the later start time.

    According to the NWS, the temperatures will hover in the 90's around first pitch, before cooling ever so slightly into the mid-80s as the game wears on. Unlike Monday, however, there isn't much of a chance of rain at all.

    Indians vs. Royals - Wednesday, Sept. 5 1:10 pm

    For the series finale at Progressive Field, the summer sun will be out in the afternoon as the temperatures remain in the upper 80's and could even reach a high of 90, per the NWS.

    Bottomline, if you're coming to Progressive Field this weekend, be sure to be hydrated, grab your sunblock and bring out the shorts.


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    See everything Ohio State acting head coach Ryan Day said on Sept. 3, 2018. Watch video

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Here is everything Ohio State acting head coach Ryan Day said on Sept, 3, 2018. Watch the full press conference at the top of the post, and remember to subscribe to the Ohio State Football on cleveland.com channel on YouTube

    Q. Ryan, it's such an interesting dynamic. Can you clarify now that Urban is back, is your role as simple as you're in charge game days and he's in charge through the week?

    Day: Coach came back today, we had a meeting earlier this morning, and he's been meeting with some of the players, so things are back to normal.

    Q. You touched on the offense after the game, said it might be a little too fast at times, but if it keeps the defense -- they were extremely uncomfortable, and you guys were a little uncomfortable. Is that a trade-off? Does that make sense to you?

    Day: It was really hot, it was humid, even in warm-ups, and even leading up to the game, so it took a toll on both sides, so it got sloppy there for a while, but we did play some depth in there. I think that was to our advantage in the game. We have shoot almost ten deep at receiver, and we're three deep at tight end and we actually rolled the offensive line a couple times, so that was to our advantage.

    Q. What was the reaction when Urban came back today? Was it strictly normal or was there any --

    Day: A lot of the coaches hadn't seen him much, again, so embracing and great to see you back, but we got back to our meeting. We had our meeting; it was business as usual.

    Q. How was his demeanor? How would you describe him today?

    Day: Coach is Coach, you know? Talked to the staff about moving forward, going to the game. We debriefed on Saturday's game and now we're working at game planning today.

    Q. Coach, I've heard more than once that the biggest jump you will every see a player make is between their first game and their second. I'm wondering if you think the same is true of head coaches and if so where your biggest area of improvement might be going from week one to week two?

    Day: Everything was for the first time on Saturday, so there were just some things made some notes on some things going from offense to special teams to defense, like even at the end of the half, being aware of the situation, making sure I was right there in case we needed timeouts or communicating with Greg and the guys on special teams, so, yeah, anytime you do something for a second time, it becomes easier and more efficient.

    Q. How long this week do you make sure that this isn't the equivalent of Urban writing the first 14 chapters of a book and leaving you to write the big finish?

    Day: I said it last week, that so much of coaching is done during the week. Today the game planning, the decisions that are made up to the game is really where most of the coaching is done, and then once we get on the field the game plan is in and now it's just a matter of calling the plays and going from there.

    So yeah, it's kind of Coach is back, and we're going with Coach, and once we get to the game the decisions are almost made before we get there.

    Q. Ryan, I asked you about the tempo after the game and I know it changes throughout the game situation and score, but coming into the season was there any desire to want to play faster, at least at the beginning of the game, and is there anything about that that suits Dwayne better?

    Day: We like to play with tempo. We played with temp last year as well. I think that our guys are suited for that. What Mick has done with those guys in the summer, getting them in shape, especially the guys up front, they run well, they're athletic, really good. So that was our thought process going into the season was that we wanted to play with some tempo, and also for a young quarterback at times you get a feel for does it stress him out or does he feel more comfortable in that environment. We found it does make him feel more comfortable, they like playing fast, and in the no-huddle offense I think they feel comfortable playing at that speed.

    Q. And with you on the sideline and Kevin in the box and Urban not there to be part of the collaboration, how do you feel the play calling went and how did that maybe impact the speed at which you were able to play?

    Day: I thought it was pretty efficient. It seemed like we were moving at a good clip. We were snapping the ball pretty fast. I think guys were getting up and getting set. Talked to the receivers, the quarterbacks and the guys carrying the ball to get to the ball to the official a little bit better, so we could be more efficient. We looked at that on film. I thought that was good, but the overall operation I thought was clean.

    Q. Ryan, when it comes to Jordan Fuller, do you have an update on how his hamstring is doing, and when you looked at the tape of some of the breakdowns in the secondary, what did you guys see there? Was it young kids making mistakes or easy fixes?

    Day: Greg is going to come up later, and Greg can address some of that stuff, but Jordan was a game-time decision coming down to the field. Shaun and the guys were working him out to see if he could do it. We felt like it was better to hold him, so we made that decision, and he's getting treatment today and obviously this weekend so looking forward to getting him in practice this week and going from there.

    Q. Demario McCall is somebody that a lot of people are very interested in, and I know he was supposed to be a return man, and he didn't really see the field much. What's his status in terms of, is it just too many people returned, is it going to be hard to get him on the field? What's your viewpoint of his role on this team?

    Day: He's part of a group that's pretty deep right now. He's working his way up. He had a nice return in the game. I think it was 26 yards, really did a nice job there, ball was high, nice and tight, so ball security.

    Anytime you put that on film that's going to give us more and more confidence to put him back out there.

    Q. You mentioned receivers and the depth, and I know one guy that will have a big game this week might be a little quieter next week. Terry McLaurin one of your leaders on the team, we have only known him for a couple of years, but he's come a long way. He has worked so hard, and he has a game like he did last week, what does that do for you as a coach? How did that make you feel?

    Day: That was probably one of my -- in terms of looking at the game and watching the film, something that was -- I was proud of him. Because Terry has put a lot of work in here. He's a captain. He's one of our best practice players. Practices really hard, he blocks really, really well, does all those things.

    Like you said, there have been times in his career where it's faith without results, where -- just keep running the route, Terry, the ball is going to find you, and it did. Very happy for him, well deserved, and I think that he is a great start to a great year for him.

    Q. What does it says about that group where they can go a game without a catch, but nobody seems to mind?

    Day: Says a lot about that room and the leadership in that room. I think sometimes as receivers, you can get selfish. I don't think that's a selfish group. They pull for each other, and they know that if we are playing fast and we are playing depth they need each other, so it does say a lot about that group.

    Q. Ryan, obviously Mike Weber had a great day. Were you happy looking back on it, the way that those guys, Weber and J.K. were rotating, and is that what we're likely to see this week?

    Day: It is, kind of like we talked about going in, I keep saying it's a two-headed monster. You've got two guys going there that are really, really talented. Sometimes it is the way that the play was blocked, you know, where we got Mike to the safety a couple of times, but Mike, you know, made those plays count.

    He made those safeties miss on several occasions. So he was running downhill, but J.K. played well, as well, so we will continue with that kind of rotation and they need each other. Like we said, same thing. When you are playing -- I think we had 91 plays to film, I don't know how many of those were penalties but it was high. You need the play depth. And then you saw Brian and Master get in there and also run the ball when they had a chance as well, so good group as well.

    Q. Obviously a unique situation you taking over for the weekend. When do you get the reigns back Friday night or Saturday, and are you doing anything different to make sure that transition goes smoothly?

    Day: No, we're going to pick it up from when Coach was here. He will be with the team on Friday, he can't be with them on Saturday, but other than that we will keep the routine, which is what we did last week. We did everything we would do normally, and now it's just great to have Coach back so we can keep things rolling.

    Q. Did he beat everybody to the office this morning?

    Day: I don't know. I know he was excited to get back here.

    Q. Ryan, now that you have a game as a head coach under your belt, do you feel like as you go into these meetings with Coach Meyer and the rest was the coaches on the staff that you can take a little bit more influence or you have more input than you did before?

    Day: No. I think it's been a group effort the whole time, and I've referred to these guys and everybody on this staff, like I said a million times, how unbelievable this coaching staff is, and it's been a group effort all along. I don't think I've done anything more than what is required in this situation. Now we have Coach back, kind of keep that going, it's a group effort as we move forward.

    And I also think that when you look at our staff, you know, the way that our staff is built, on offense it's Kevin and I working together.

    Then we have, you know, Greg, Tony, Brian and the whole offensive staff. It is a collaborative effort. We take a lot of pride in that. Everybody has a certain area that they work on, so somebody might have third downs, somebody might have short yardage, somebody has the run game, first and second down, so everybody adds that into the game plan and that's what you see on Saturday.

    Q. Did Coach Meyer give you an assessment on your performance this morning?

    Day: I think the comment he made was, "You only had to punt once, huh? That's a pretty good day." I said, "Yeah."

    Q. Ryan, one of the first things Dwayne said when he came out on Saturday was talking about the interception, not the good stuff that happened. I imagine as a coach that's what you would rather hear, that they're looking at the mistakes not what they did well. When you guys look at that play in particular or maybe some others for Saturday, where do you see room for him to grow?

    Day: I think what happens is as you step up into the conference and some of the games get a little tighter, the decisions that you make become more and more consequential, so he needs to understand that. We all do. It wasn't just the throw, either, there was a little bit of breakdown up front, he got forced to throw the ball a little bit sooner than he should have. So that's how you can lose a game. So we have to understand that. As a whole offense, one play can ruin your whole afternoon, and we have to be aware of that, so as the games get closer and closer, we're on top of that and, you know, we're making good decisions to manage the game.

    One thing I do want to say about that interpretation that was remarkable was the effort on that play to tackle the ball carrier. It was a crazy play, and the ball squirted out and two guys in particular if you go back and watch the film ended up getting him down was Binjimen Victor and Isaiah Prince and to see 59 running the length of the field to make that tackle was really amazing. It wasn't a fun play to watch, it was a mess, but the effort on that play to get him down was remarkable.

    Q. When it comes to getting Tate involved, was that -- where he came in that first time, was that always part of the plan or take me through how you approach maybe not disrupting the offense, getting Tate involved, how that plan will go moving forward?

    Day: I think it will change as we go into each week and what we see with the defense. We want to kinda get him in the game. How it plays out, can't really predict how that's going to work, but we definitely want to get him in the game and let him go play.

    Q. Ryan, just to clarify, did you move your stuff out of Urban's office last night or this morning? (Laughter.)

    Day: I think you know the answer to that.

    Q. It seems like Dwayne throws in rhythm, middle of the field, those intermediate throws. How comfortable is he making those throws? How good is he at sort of just evaluating this is where this should go, my guy is there, let's do it?

    Day: The ball comes out of his hand quick as you can see, and he is a rhythm passer. So much of that has to go with the protection. When he has a nice pocket and the guys are doing a good job in protection, the spacing is right, the separation with the receivers is right, then that's when you can see we get into a rhythm and a tempo. That part is good.

    If there is a breakdown anywhere along the line that's where, you know, you can disrupt a passing game. So we spend a lot of time talking about that and our offensive line and Coach Stud does a great job in protection. We have to block some really good guys on defense every day so that helps us in these situations. It is a collaborative effort. He does get the ball out quickly though, and he's accurate when he throws it.

    Q. Why didn't he just, like, throw 50-yard deep throws? He has a big arm. Why aren't you calling shot after shot after shot?

    Day: Based on what the defense is giving you, so if that corner is playing really, really soft, and they're giving you stuff underneath because maybe they're respecting our speed, then you have to take the stuff that's underneath. Secondly, when you're playing fast, if you run a guy call all the way down the field and possibly miss the throw, that takes a long time for him to get all the way back so all that stuff goes into consideration, but you have to take what the defense is giving you.

    You can't force things down the field, and some young guys want to do that. They want to take their shots. They get hungry, want to take a shot down the field, if there is a safety sitting in the middle of the field at 25 yards, you can't throw a post, so that's all part of maturing.

    Q. Coach, did Coach Meyer give you any advise on what he thinks you could do better this Saturday, and, secondly, any reaction to Joe Burrow's first game and the outpouring he got from his former teammates?

    Day: Really happy for Joe, texted Joe and his parents to let him know how happy I was for him, seeing him out there playing and really happy for he and his family. It was great to see him get a win.

    I don't know what happened but in the scuffle before the game in the mix, didn't surprise me. He's a competitive guy, so it was funny seeing him out there. And the other question, there wasn't much conversation about that with Coach.

    Q. Follow Saturday you mentioned the 50/50 split for J.K. and Mike. How necessary is it to make sure you don't need to pull one of those guys out for a series, because you want to keep that tempo? I think it was only one drive when you had the first team in that you switched in between from one back to another, do you need those guys to go that full drive to have that tempo going?

    Day: Good question. We just talked about that in meetings. Sometimes when you go with a series that there is four plays. They're just rolling. You know, we had a couple of those drives. But then if it gets into six, seven, eight, nine play range, it also depends on what he's involved in. If he just had a run for ten, and he turns around and runs the ball over here for another ten, and now you get to play four and five, and he starts to show fatigue, then that might be a time to get him out.

    So we're communicating on the headset, talking about when we can take a guy in and take a guy out, because when you sub, the referees will show you down. When you don't sub, we can go as fast as they can put the ball down, and the referee gets out of the way. But if we sub, they will slow the game down.

    Q. Second start for a quarterback is always interesting because now there is a full amount of game film on him. As a coach who works with quarterbacks, how do you manage that chess match knowing that now the defenses have a little bit more knowledge and how do you have to mask tendencies and continue to evolve to make sure they're not keying on anything that you were doing on Saturday?

    Day: I think you talk about. I think that you try and figure out early on what they were doing, like we said going into the game last week. We had to figure out in the first quarter what we were doing, and also on third down, they'll have something cooked up on third down.

    Just making the quarterback aware there may be something new, and if there is, and maybe, you know, we weren't prepared for it, it's something that's catching us off guard, the first time you see it, it can't ruin the game. You check the ball down, maybe we have punt. We get on the sideline, we make the end game adjustment and get it fixed.

    Q. Chris Olave is a guy who is under the radar in recruiting but he's clearly made an impression on the staff and his teammates. How was he able to do that and what kind of a role can he have this year?

    Day: I was fortunate enough to recruit Chris. I was out recruiting a quarterback out in California and they said, we have this great receiver here who didn't play his junior year, so we watched him play his senior year and really just tore it up the first few games and we fell in love with him. Comes from a really good family, four-sport athlete, and we knew right when he got here that he was special. He's got really good speed.

    Great hand-eye coordination. So his work ethic, to go along with that has been excellent. And he's got great guys in a room to follow. When you're sitting right next to Parris Campbell and Johnnie Dixon and Terry McLaurin everyday, watching they way they go about their business, then it gives you a great role model moving forward. Proud of where he is, and you'll see him at some point have an impact on the season.

    Q. Ryan, as you look back on Saturday, what is the biggest thing you learned as a head coach in game? What is that thing that sticks with you right now that you didn't know 48 hours ago?

    Day: I don't know if there is one thing. I think that, again, like I was saying before, being aware of everything that's going on, so, like, for instance, if we're trying to make an adjustment on offense and maybe the defense needs a timeout, you know, the coach has to call the timeout, so being available to have communication with special teams, being available to have communication with the defense, are we looking to go after a punt, are we not looking to go after a punt, are we going to return it, those type of things while we're trying to make adjustments on the sidelines with the offensive line, running backs, quarterbacks and such, so I think that whole thing was probably the biggest thing that kinda caught me a little bit, and so you learn from it, be better this weekend.

    Q. Did you see anything that told you Oregon State is respecting the passing game more than maybe other defenses previously or in different ways, meaning with Dwayne back there, with a better gun, for want of another term, than J.T. had? Did you see anything that was --

    Day: I know what you're asking, yeah, you're saying was it softer coverage or the box less loaded? No, didn't see that. We did come out early and throw the ball a little bit, so I think that may have affected it, but then you've still got to deal with Mike and with J.K. It was soft, the corners were soft, there wasn't as much challenge on the line of scrimmage, and that may have been the respect for our receivers, but we didn't see anything there that caught us as unusual.

    Q. And who -- God forbid something happened to Dwayne or Tate, who is your third quarterback now?

    Day: Well, we have three guys there. Matt Baldwin, this week, will start doing some more, so we will see how he does this week. He's getting closer. Chris Chugunov is a graduate transfer, just kinda showed up. He's kind of like a guy who got signed off of waivers, and he's here, but he just got here, so he's learning the offense. We will see how he does this week.

    Then Kory Curtis was our third string quarterback in preseason camp, so all three of those guys are helping out a little bit. They're all working to improve, and I think as the next couple of weeks progress we will have a better idea who that guy is.

    Q. When Urban showed up today was it obvious in meetings and stuff that he didn't just sit around for a month? Could you tell he was up on Rutgers, up on Texas Christian, what was the sense you got from him about the homework he did in his off time?

    Day: Coach was up with everything right from the start today.

    Q. With regard to the deep passes, was it a plan to attack deep, given Dwayne's arm or did you have to go into the game and take what the defense gives you and approach it that way?

    Day: Yeah, we want to challenge people horizontally, so some of the bubble passes that we got out to Parris, and then the speed sweep that you saw him going sideways, that was a way to stretch it horizontally, and then we want to stretch it vertically, and that's with the shots down the field, but if they're playing soft, then you can't force the action, you've got to keep us in rhythm.

    If you're playing fast, and you're playing in rhythm and the guys are taking the underneath stuff -- we called some plays that in certain coverages would dictate throwing a post or seam or down the field but because the coverage was softer you saw us come underneath and get some completions.

    Q. How have you liked Dwayne's deep ball throwing? I know you track the completions. How has he done with that?

    Day: He's been good. He's been good. Practice, and we work on it a lot, and the receivers do a good job of tracking it. We'll see the more we do that in the games, then we will see where it's at.


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    Edwards included profane language in a tweet critical of Michigan's offense on Saturday night.

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Former Michigan receiver and Cleveland Browns draft pick Braylon Edwards has been suspended by Big Ten Network for his critical tweet about the Wolverines offense, one which included profane language, during Saturday night's game against Notre Dame.

    "Effective as of Sunday, Sept. 2, Braylon Edwards has been suspended indefinitely from his role at the Big Ten Network due to a violation of the network's social media guidelines," the network said in a statement released Monday.

    Edwards joined the network as an analyst last year.

    In a since-deleted Twitter post during Michigan's 24-17 loss to Notre Dame, Edwards specifically referenced offensive lineman Cesar Ruiz and quarterback Shea Patterson while being generally critical of the offensive performance.

    "Ruiz is weak, line is weak shea is scared, f------ Michigan offense is so predictable.....Michigan football is sadly one thing.......trash," Edwards wrote. 

    Edwards, apparently not deterred by his suspension, doubled-down on his criticism of Michigan and coach Jim Harbaugh on Monday afternoon:

    Harbaugh responded to Edwards' criticisms on Monday.

    "Number 1, first of all, it's not true," Harbaugh said, according to MLive.com. "It's not factual. There's nobody in our program who thinks these things about any player on our team, let alone the two players he describes. On another level, it's disappointing that a member of the Big Ten Network would choose to attack the character of our team players. It's disappointing.

    "If anyone wants to attack the character of anybody on our ball club, come after me. I would rather them come after me ... I don't think it's right. It's not true. And nobody in the program thinks that about any player on our team. Just so you know, that's not coming from anybody inside here."


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    See everything Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano said during his press conference on Sept. 3, 2018. Watch video

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Here is everything Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano said during his Monday press conference. Watch the video at the top of the post and don't forget to subscribe to the Ohio State Football on cleveland.com channel on YouTube.

    Q. After you reviewed the film what disappointed you most about your defense?

    Schiano: There was a lot of good stuff on the tape, so I wasn't disappointed other than there were some plays that I was disappointed in. There was actually I think it was 82% of the offense came on seven plays, 82% of their production. We can't allow that. Have to go back a long time to remember two long runs like that, not only here but anywhere. It's unacceptable.

    We made a small error on the one long touchdown pass, couple small errors but when you're playing RPO's and people are spreading you outside line to sideline you can make a mistake and they can may you pay. So good lessons to be learned. It's not an acceptable performance, but there was a lot of good things, too. Two sudden changes and you make them attempt a field goal on both of them, they made one, and missed one, and that's your goal when you go out after a sudden change on the plus 25 or in, can you make them attempt a field goal. They did it both times. I thought that was excellent.

    Scoring on defense, that's one of our goals, you score on defense. And it really is the way we like to play football here, we had a great punt, 50-something yards and pinned them back and had an opportunity to score as a defense on the sack fumble. There are a lot of good things. We got to play a ton of people.

    As I said early on we have a young group, four or five of their guys that was their first significant action. I think we learned a lot, always people say between week one and week two is when you make your most improvement and when you're an awe young unit that even multiplies. We need to improve, that's for sure, that's not what we want to see out there, but the opportunity is there.

    Q. You mentioned some young guys and that was maybe their first performance. Tommy Togiai, looked like he played well, is that correct, and maybe some of the other first-time guys that flashed?

    Schiano: Well, yeah, we played a lot of guys, so young guys got some opportunities. I thought Tommy played strong. He is strong. I thought Tyler Friday did his job, nothing spectacular, but I always look at young guys when you watch them on tape do they look like they belong.


    That to me is the measuring stick. Tyreke Smith got in there early and played and I thought did a good job, and I'll probably leave somebody out but, you know, it's good to get 'em out there playing. That's the benefit of getting a big lead like that.

    We played, I don't know how many defensive linemen, we maybe played 14 or 16 guys on the defensive line, which is always a positive.

    Q. How do you scheme against a guy who has only made one collegiate start?

    Schiano: A lot of times you hear that question about the individual, the quarterback, per se. More than that it is what does it allow the offensive coordinator to do? As a coach you have to scheme against the plays that all 11 guys are going to do. I'm familiar with the quarterback because he's a Jersey kid, and I knew him back when, and then obviously through recruiting. He is a big, strong arm drop-back passer with good mobility. He's not a stiff back there, so you have to be ready to be able to have ways to get him down when he does move.


    So it will be interesting, Coach McNulty and I go back a long way. He was on my staff twice. Once at Rutgers, where he was my offensive coordinator and once at Tampa, where he coached the quarterbacks. So he's familiar with us defensively, and we're familiar with him. Some of that can be an issue.

    He knows the verbiage, and I'm sure he's going to tell his players that, so we'll have to change some of the words we use on the field, some of the calls, so they're not aware exactly what's happening.

    Q. Could you assess the play of the safeties. Obviously you didn't have Jordan. Do you expect him back? Can you assess the way Josh and Isaiah played?

    Schiano: First, we hope to have Jordan back. That was a game-time decision. There was a lot of good things they did, and there was a lot of learning that they can take from that tape and that performance, which is good. They're going to have to -- anytime you start two guys at the same position which is the middle of your -- going into the game we knew we were going to have a brand new "Mike" linebacker and two brand new safeties. That's like starting a new catcher and a new shortstop and a new pitcher in baseball, right up the middle.

    So we knew that there could be some growing pains there. Overall I thought they were solid and made some mistakes, but now at least we have a leaping off point. Now we have to go and see how fast we can ascend, and if we get Jordan back that makes a big difference.

    Q. Just about Urban Meyer coming back today, what was it like in the room when he did return?

    Schiano: It was good. Excited to have him back, everybody is. Coach is a very focused guy, as you know, and we hit it running, got back to it.

    Q. Greg, what's the plan with Tuf now moving forward since he was able to get in, and when you have young guys at linebacker, how can a presence from Tuf help settle things down a bit for those young guys experiencing new things?

    Schiano: You saw Tuf, I think he had ten plays and that was his pitch count and it's all part of his recovery. There are different stages, right? He went through the rehab, then through independent running and change of directions, and then he went into individual technique work and then into some team stuff, and part of that is going and playing live football, and he did that for ten plays. So we look for that to increase. How much, we will work with our training staff and our medical staff to figure out what's optimal.

    I thought that Baron did a nice job in there. So as we progress, they're both going to play, they're both really good football players. How much you kinda got to see how the week goes. Not only will we up his reputations in the game, we will do that in practice as well. We've been fortunate, there has been zero set-back so far, but you never know.

    Q. I think Dwayne was an 8th grader in South Brunswick when you were at Rutgers. Were you familiar with him at all? I know he is close with Mo Sanu. He talked about how much he liked the program when you were coaching there. Do you guys talk about that at all, sort of you had a role, and he was a kid watching you guys play?

    Schiano: Sure. We have a connection. I remember when I started at Ohio State and we were recruiting him, his dad sent me the picture of him and I at camp together. He came to our camp. And Mo is -- very close to Mo. So yeah, there definitely is a connection with Mohamed, his family. He grew up right across the river from Rutgers, so he's a local guy, so we know a lot of the same people. Great to see him have the performance he did.

    Q. Did you ever think maybe if you were still there he would end up being a quarterback at Rutgers some day?

    Schiano: I haven't thought of that, but he was in our little guys camp, and so were my twins. I remember them coming down to my office, he was playing wide-out in the pick-up, 7-on-7 games, and they said there is one kid up there we can't cover. Nobody can cover him. So it was kind of prophetic.

    Q. You touched on how Baron played. I think as Tuf continues to recover I think people have this vision that he's going to be the guy that steps in and takes a big role on this team. Can you be more specific about what you saw out of him and do you think that he played well enough to continue with that role moving forward?

    Schiano: How Baron played? Like I said last week, I think we have more than three linebackers that should play, so we're going to do that. We're going to try to work those guys in the lineup and Baron is one of those guys. As Tuf comes back I can see them ham and eggin' it, there are certain things that each of them do well right now.

    That's our job. That's not the only linebacker position where we need to do that. We have other guys that can play as well. Dante Booker is coming back from his injury, how does he fit into playing. Justin Hilliard, I think Justin is playing at a high level.

    So it's a good -- I don't call it a "problem," it's a good situation to have. We have to figure out optimal way to get the best performance from everyone. You saw in package ages, third down packages who goes in, we were talking about that this morning, how do we get everybody on the field and get everybody a role. Inning that's be important. I know this for a fact you prepare better when you can visualize what your role is going to be. The role may change second play of the game, but I think it helps you in preparing for the game. And now we're into game weeks, they really go fast, Saturday turns into Saturday really quickly.

    Q. Coach, I know you personally have a soft spot for Rutgers, but what's your value to the week to having an improved Rutgers? Some would say having a top heavy league you can still get a team to the national championship, what's the value of having teams like Rutgers and Minnesota and teams that seem to be on the upswing? What's the value to having them play well?

    Schiano: Well, general terms the more competitive teams you have the better the league, right? That's general terms. I think Rutgers specifically, its location is key. It is right across the river from New York City, it brings a huge market with it and when Rutgers is doing well that market gets behind it.

    It's like so many urban areas, though, when you're winning, the hot thing, people want to be there. I can remember when we started winning, now all of the sudden the Giants are on our sidelines, the Jets and the pro baseball players. When you're not winning, they're not there. They're not going to be seen at an event that's not an event. So I think that's good for the league to get that far east coast going. That's nothing but good for the league.

    Q. I hate to be stupid, but I don't understand the value of balance. Because if you had a league that was Ohio State and Alabama and all of the rest of the teams were Podunk U, it would still be a great team worthy of a national championship, so what's the value of having week in and week out a really tough opponent?

    Schiano: Well, couple things. One if you're a fan, right, of a league or a conference, you love to see competitive games. At least I do as a fan of other sports.

    And this sport. I love going home and watching college football when we're done. But I think also, you know, the old saying iron sharpens iron. When you play in a league that every week you better buckle it up or you're going to get beat, it makes you better, it improves you as a whole organization.

    Q. Greg, is there any sentiment or anything that crops up whenever you guys play Rutgers with your connection and does that factor into game week at all? Do you have somewhat of a relationship with Rutgers? Do you talk to Chris and any of those guys?

    Schiano: Sure. As far as it applies to game week there is no factor. You're going to prepare when you're a coach at Ohio State it's a very high standard and you're going to do everything in your power to meet that standard. As far as is it sentimental? Sure it is. We built that program and really, you know, to come back to your question, from 2002 on, that was always my goal, you know, is we gotta get Rutgers in the Big Ten. I believed that's where it belonged, the kind of academic institution it is, land grant institution, so I'm really proud that Rutgers is in the Big Ten.

    So when we get ready to play, I know people that are still there, Coach Ash and I are friends. Sure, when you built something you never forget about it, but now it's our job to beat them, and our job -- my job is to make sure that the defense plays the way they're capable of playing against them.

    And they're better. You look at the offense, we're game planning as we speak. They're a much better team, and I think Coach McNulty was a great acquisition. Chris had the ability to get Coach and to be his offensive coordinator, and I really think what they're doing, it gives us challenges.

    Q. Obviously you have a big game coming up against TCU, in Texas. I know you guys like to focus on one game at a time, but maybe phrase it this way: What's the biggest couple of things you would like to see change on the defensive side of the football this week versus Rutgers, especially with a big game like that down in Texas looming next week?

    Schiano: Well, first, I know people say, coaches they -- we really do that, because coaches as a group, it's all about here. Certainly as the leader you have to have some plans of what is going on in the background, because you're always a week ahead, but all our focus is on one team and that's the team we're playing this that week. But what we need to see get better on defense, there is plenty of that. I think anytime you miss any tackles, that's expected a little bit in the first game, but we really need to work on our angles of entry in our tackles, because that was an issue.

    There were some issues in the past game. We had two DPIs called on us, defensive pass interference, which I'm not a lunatic when we get a DPI. That he happens. You're covering guys that are on scholarship too, and they're good players, but if they're avoidable, those are the ones that bother you. Some are unavoidable. You're being aggressive, you make a play and you get a flag thrown, that happens. So we need to make sure that gets cleaned up.

    We had too many big plays. It's okay if a guy misses a tackle or makes a mistake, but we should have overlap and have guys there that can get him down. If it's 16 or 18 yards that's fine, but it can't be an 80-yard play. You don't live very long as a defense if you are giving up 80-yard plays.

    Q. Did Urban tell you how he spent his last three weeks, especially Saturday afternoon?

    Schiano: No. Like I said, we got right down to business. Today is a big day as a coach. Monday is your big game planning day, and Coach was sensitive to that. We got together as a staff and met, and it wasn't very long and then get together and being work on the game plans.

    Q. Ryan said maybe the biggest area he learned or challenge he had as a head coach was balancing all three phases while making adjustments on offense. How did he juggle those things and did you give him any pointers on that?

    Schiano: I thought Ryan did an excellent job, not only on game day, but as I said last week, leading up to all of the decisions he had to make, and the leadership he provided. But game day, when you're calling the game as a head coach is different than when you're not. I've done both. Because you're ultimately you're responsible for the call that goes in in a timely fashion, but you're also responsible for game management and keeping an eye on the other side of the ball and the kicking game. I'm sure his plate was full, but he did a great job.

    Q. Greg, with the pass rush that you guys have, I know Saturday is just one game. Do you anticipate that the screens and the quick throws and misdirection, that's going to be how teams decide to attack you and negate that and how do you adjust to that?

    Schiano: Without a doubt it will be. Some of those screens we didn't exactly do things the way we want them done, so we have to improve and get that done. The risk you have, you have to be careful because when you are evaluating your performance, did we do when we set out to do schematically and from a technique stand point. If we did and it didn't worked then we gotta find a new way to do it. If we didn't, then let's go do what we said we were going to do and then evaluate it. There is a little bit of that. We need to make sure we're on point with our details.

    Some of it, like I said, first game, uneasiness for some guys, but another opportunity this week, because they screen in every way we saw Saturday, this team did it to their opponent last Saturday. So we know we have them all, and I'm sure they have a few we haven't seen.

    Q. How much of those "teachable" moments do you expect from a team or a first-time guy on a Saturday. How much do you have to live with as a coach when you see them go out there and do that?

    Schiano: Not as many as we had. That's not, to me, acceptable. It all comes back to coaching. We have to limit those. We had too many.

    Q. What did y'all miss with Jordan Fuller not being there? Obviously he was elected captain. I think he does a lot of calls. What do you think y'all missed in the secondary with three young starters back there, making adjustments, as you analyzed the video?

    Schiano: You know, we did a pretty good job with the adjustments. I think one thing Jordan gives you is kind of a sweeper back there, an insurance policy. He's a very good tackler in space and, again, I don't know if he's there, do we get some of those plays? Can't live in the speculative world, but I like our odds with him. He's an experienced player who is one of the best in the country at what he does. Certainly you miss a guy of that caliber when he's not playing.

    Q. Up front, seemed like the front had a pretty good day, but what did you see, like Nick was saying there were some mistakes made, etcetera, by the guys up front, but what did you see from them in particular that needs to get cleaned up?

    Schiano: Well, I think Nick and Dre'Mont played very, very well. When you look at their performance it was kind of off the charts, right? Some of the other things -- you know, so much of what football is today with all the shotgun and the ride and read stuff it's option football and when you don't take care of your responsibility one of those options pops free. We had that a couple times. We need to clean that up.

    Obviously the off-sides penalties are frustrating when you jump off sides and give them a free play, and if you remember one of those off-sides -- actually two of those off-sides were also DPIs. And what most offenses have built in, doesn't matter what the play is if you clearly feel, see, hear the off-sides, it's an automatic deep shot.

    You don't need extra deep shots, that's for sure, and we need to do a better job with that.

    Q. How do you think Kendall and Okudah played?

    Schiano: I think they played solid. They didn't have a ton of opportunities. The one was kind of a freakish on Kendall, a jump ball, underthrown ball deal, certainly like to come down with that, but it doesn't always happen, and those DPIs on Jeff, those are close calls. Like I told them, if you put yourself in the shoes of the judge that's watching, you might call it, too.

    So our saying around here is if they throw the flag, it's a penalty. Doesn't matter what you think. You don't get a vote in that one.

    Q. Pete Werner, you were praising him last week. Did he live up to your expectations? Obviously caused the fumble that was the touchdown, et cetera, what did you see out of him?

    Schiano: I thought Pete played well. Did he make mistake, sure, everybody did, including yours truly, but I thought Pete played at a high level of speed and plays the game with great passion and really is a contact player. He's going to hit you. Bright future for him. We're looking forward to seeing him get better and better.

    Q. What did Okudah do exactly on the two pass interferences? How close was he on playing that right?

    Schiano: When you look at pass interference, what I try to explain to the corners is if you restrict them, now you give the official a chance to make the call, and he just had his arm kind of -- it's called an arm bar, we don't teach that here but a lot of guys do it naturally. They want to make sure it's like a safety belt. We just got to keep running and make the play.

    There is one play, if you freeze it, you would think Okudah was the wide receiver. He was on the outside, and the receiver was trying to play so he didn't intercept it, but he got called because he put his arm out. So little things like that we have to work on, but I thought he was in really good position on both plays. Just gotta avoid that penalty.

    Q. We know you guys have done the three-corner rotation typically here. Are you good with that? Is that working? That's what you're going to continue with?

    Schiano: I think it is. Shaun Wade got in there and did a nice job as well and Marcus Williamson, he's going to. He was a little bumped up during camp, so he didn't get all the reps he needs so, I think we have depth there, and may be more than three we play there, and then the nickel is a corner position as well.

    Q. And nickel, you're putting the top three corners out there, right? That's your nickel look at the moment?

    Schiano: Yeah, and we were talking today there might be some mixes and matches and give everybody a role and something to focus on and know that they're going to get in a game. Thanks, guys.


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    Adam Plutko and the Cleveland Indians face Jakob Junis and the Kansas City Royals at Progressive Field.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Here are the starting lineups for Monday's game between the Cleveland Indians and Kansas City Royals.

    What: Indians (77-59) vs. Royals (45-91).
    When: 4:10 p.m.
    Where: Progressive Field.
    Broadcast: SportsTime Ohio, WTAM 1100 AM, WMMS 100.7 FM.

    CLEVELAND INDIANS

    Francisco Lindor SS
    Michael Brantley LF
    Jose Ramirez 3B
    Yandy Diaz DH
    Yonder Alonso 1B
    Melky Cabrera RF
    Jason Kipnis 2B
    Yan Gomes C
    Greg Allen CF

    Adam Plutko (4-4, 4.94)

    Kansas City Royals

    Whit Merrifield
    Alex Gordon LF
    Hunter Dozier DH
    Ryan O'Hearn 1B
    Emilio Bonifacio RF
    Brian Goodwin CF
    Adalberto Mondesi SS
    Alcides Escobar 3B
    Cam Gallagher C

    Jakob Junis (7-12, 4.53)

    Umpires

    Doug Eddings HP
    Joe West, crew chief, 1B
    Marty Foster 2B
    Mark Ripperger 3B.


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    The Browns are preparing for the Steelers on Sunday. Watch video

    BEREA, Ohio -- The Browns are getting ready for the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday afternoon. Wide receiver Josh Gordon returned to practice for the first time. The offensive line is also a question mark with the possibility of Joel Bitonio moving back to guard and undrafted free agent Desmond Harrison getting the call at left tackle.

    Mary Kay Cabot and I talked about all of that and some players returning from injury in the video above.


    Get the best Browns news and perspective in your inbox at lunch time every weekday. Sign up for our Browns newsletter.


    Go inside the Browns every week with cleveland.com's Orange and Brown Podcast, featuring Mary Kay Cabot and Dan Labbe. Listen and subscribe here.


    Want more Browns? Subscribe to our Browns YouTube channel for interviews, analysis and more.


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    Harrison could get the nod at left tackle against the Steelers on Sunday. Watch video

    BEREA, Ohio -- Joel Bitonio was asked on Monday what it says about future Hall of Famer Joe Thomas that he could be replaced -- as soon as Sunday against the Steelers -- by an undrafted rookie in Desmond Harrison.

    "He's a little overrated, huh,'' Bitonio deadpanned.

    In all seriousness, coach Hue Jackson is contemplating starting the unknown rookie Sunday against the vaunted Steelers' defense, and moving Bitonio back to his natural position at left guard. That would leave No. 33 overall pick Austin Corbett, who's been starting at left guard with Bitonio at left tackle, the odd man out.

    So why on earth would Jackson think about starting a no-name rookie in the opener against a team that finished No. 5 on defense last year and has defensive end Cam Heyward -- 12 sacks in 2017 -- ready to exploit your weakest link?

    "He can move, man,'' Bitonio said. "He's athletic. He's definitely the most athletic lineman we have. And he has the length, he has the size, he's the prototypical left tackle when you think of a left tackle. He's like 6-6, long arms, can get back and set. He's done some good things.

    "I know he hasn't played against the ones all the time but when he's been out there he's made some good plays. We're just making sure he has the right mindset and understands what he's doing every play.''

    When all is said and done, Jackson might stick with the status quo for this game and start Bitonio at left tackle and Corbett at left guard until he can give Harrison more reps with the ones. But if he comes up the learning curve quickly enough this week, Harrison (6-6, 295) could get the nod.

    "He's just improved,'' said Jackson. " So it gives you another option to look through to see who's the best five guys to put out there, him, (Greg) Robinson. Robinson's improved. I've seen a lot of good things over the last week and a half. And, again, my job is to make sure we put the best players out there period. Whatever position it is, that's what we're supposed to do in those situations. That's what we're going to do."

    Jackson has liked what he's seen from Harrison, out of West Georgia, more and more every day since he passed his physical on Aug. 9 and started practicing with the team. A transfer from Texas, Harrison missed the first two weeks of camp with a toe injury. Had he not missed any camp, he might've won the starting job sooner. But Jackson wasn't about to provide the Steelers with a thorough scouting report.

    "Athletic,'' said Jackson. "You guys have watched him, though. I don't want to talk about him too much. You've seen him play in games. The guy is big and long and athletic. So he's got talent."

    Jackson said currently "nothing's change'' with the lineup but "we've got a week. We don't play until Sunday, so I'm going to figure it out, put the best five guys out there.''

    He also said he'll make an announcement on it before the game but "I already know what it is. You just don't know what it is, that's all. I have a pretty good idea what it is, what it's going to be.''

    The least of his worries would be Bitonio going back to left guard, where he was a Pro Bowl alternate last year and one of the best in the game.

    "He's been working at tackle, he's been working at guard, so I think we'll be fine,'' he said. "Whatever we decide to do it's going to be what's best for the football team.''

    Bitonio insisted he doesn't know if he'll be a guard or tackle for one of the biggest games of the season.

    "I think coach is going to come back Wednesday and give us a definite answer,'' said Bitonio. "I'm ready for both, though. Whatever they put me at I'm ready to go and play some football finally."

    Has he ever not known which position he'll be playing this close to the season?

    "Yeah, in high school,'' he said.

    Unusual?

    "Yeah, it's different, for sure,'' he said. "Usually you have your five linemen, you're set to go. We're trying to get our best five guys out there. I just do what I'm told. That's a coach Jackson question, I'm ready to go out there and play whatever position he wants me to play.''

    Unusual yes, but awkward, no.

    "It's just trying to get the best five guys out there,'' he said. "I know he's going through his plan and Desmond hasn't gotten as much practice time so he's trying to see where he's at and Corbett is still working. It's taking a little more time than we would have hoped. But we didn't have (Kevin) Zeitler out there for a while either. We're going to need a few good days of practice, we're going to get a good rhythm going and we'll be fine for Pittsburgh."

    Despite the left side shakeup and the fact Zeitler played only one series in preseason -- against the Lions -- because of a calf injury, Bitonio believes the line will come together in time for Sunday.

    "Yeah, I think so,'' he said. "It's going to be a rookie most likely whoever I'm playing next to, so I'll be able to communicate with them and kind of understand and if I'm playing tackle we have J.C. (Tretter) in there and if I'm playing guard, we'll have Desmond out there but we'll be able to communicate and we'll be able to work together. I know Hubb and Zeitler are doing good things on the right side, so it will be good."

    Does Bitonio have any input on the decision with Jackson considering he wasn't thrilled about moving to left tackle in the first place?

    "No, he just tells me what to do,'' said Bitonio.


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