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    Donaldson hits a two-run homer in Akron's 5-2 win over Altoona at Canal Park.

    josh donaldson.jpgJosh Donaldson 

    AKRON, Ohio -- Josh Donaldson hit a two-run homer and right-hander Kyle Dowdy gave the RubberDucks nearly seven solid innings Wednesday in a 5-2 win over Altoona in the Class AA Eastern League playoff series opener at Canal Park.

    Akron erased a 1-0 lead with three runs in the third inning. Jodd Carter started the inning with a double off Curve starter Cam Vieaux, and Ernie Clement brought him home with a one-out single.

    Donaldson, the Indians infielder in Akron on a rehab assignment, then sent a 2-0 pitch over the center field wall to give Akron a 3-1 lead.

    An error by Altoona third baseman Ke'Bryan Hayes allowed another Akron run in the fifth inning, and Nellie Rodriguez's RBI single in the seventh put the RubberDucks up, 5-2.

    Meanwhile, Dowdy held the Curve to two runs on four hits in 6 2/3 innings, striking out six. Four RubberDucks relievers combined to close out the game, with Jordan Milbrath getting the final out to earn the save.

    The best-of-five series continues Thursday night at Canal Park.

    See the box score from the game.

    Notes: Donaldson, who is rehabbing a left calf injury, left the game after the sixth inning. It's unknown if he will play in Thursday's game. ... Top Indians prospect Triston McKenzie was left off the Akron playoff roster because of arm soreness.

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    Cleveland's magic number to clinch the A.L. Central Division is at 8 after a win and a Twins loss on Wednesday.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Cleveland Indians knocked off the Kansas City Royals for the second straight day, and Houston defeated the Minnesota Twins Wednesday, reducing Cleveland's magic number to clinch a third consecutive A.L Central Division title to 8.

    Cleveland's division lead over Minnesota is at a season-high 16 games with 23 to play. Any combination of Indians wins or losses by the second-place Twins that is greater than or equal to 8 will clinch the division title for Cleveland.

    The Indians (79-60) open a four-game series against Toronto on Thursday at 7:10 as Shane Bieber faces Sam Gaviglio.

    You can calculate the first-place Tribe's magic number by starting with 162 (games in a season) and adding one, then subtracting the number of Indians wins and subtracting the number of losses by the second-place team.

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    The Buckeyes lost one commitment during the university's investigation of Urban Meyer.

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Garrett Wilson put his pursuit of other players on hold for a bit. Jake Wray paid the situation no mind. Lejond Cavazos was certain Urban Meyer would be back.

    Meanwhile Ryan Day and the Ohio State coaching staff were behind the scenes trying to find a balance between running a training camp without Meyer and keeping the program's 21 verbal commitments, 16 in 2019 and five in 2020, on board while everyone waited for the other shoe to drop.

    Meyer is back now. His suspension ended on Monday, and his first official practice of the 2018 season as Ohio State's head coach was on Tuesday. Things, players and coaches say, are mostly back to normal. Though Meyer still can't coach the next two games.

    The on-field impact of that seemed minimal when the Buckeyes hung 77 points on Oregon State last week. Rutgers this week should again be no sweat. TCU next week will be a different challenge. The more pressing question surrounding the 22 days Meyer was on paid administrative leave and then the week he served a suspension was what that might do for OSU's current recruiting classes, and what it means for the future.

    Class of 2019 linebacker Kane Patterson did switch his pledge to Clemson this week, which seemed at least partly because of Meyer's situation, though Clemson had long lingered as a threat in Patterson's recruitment. One loss is almost acceptable considering what was hanging in the balance, some of the characterizations of Meyer in the media, what seemed like poor public relations steps by the university and any programs lingering on the fringes hoping to poach a Buckeye commit amid the noise.

    But there was no wide-spread panic with the staff trying to put out fires and wrangle commits who were thinking of taking a step back while waiting for the process to play out. It was more recruiting that the coaches are typically used to this time of year, with a dead period that just ended on Sept. 1., but it wasn't chaos.

    Commits spoke to this week seem confident that Ohio State has successfully navigated the uncertainty with both classes mostly intact.

    "For me, and I think this goes with most people in the class, when you commit to Ohio State, you commit to more than just one person," said Wilson, a five-star 2019 receiver from Austin, Texas. "This is a program that whoever has been at the helm, they've had success and put players in the league. You gotta get an education, and they set you up for stuff after football. This is bigger than just one person at Ohio State. Coach Meyer has a huge impact of course, but it's more than just one person."

    That's not to minimize what would have obviously been a major hit to the program had Meyer not be re-instated. Had that been the result, it surely would have been open season on OSU's commits and brought about real questions about trajectory. You don't get to take a hit like that and just continue with the recruiting machine rolling -- and it has been rolling.

    But Wilson wasn't alone in not assuming the worst while keeping an open mind about what the program could still be if a permanent coaching change was made. Give the staff credit for that.

    Day and the assistant coaches, Mark Pantoni and the recruiting department were available to answer questions any players had. If players wanted constant updates, they got them. Cavazos -- a 2020 cornerback from IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida -- said he talked with position coach Taver Johnson every day.

    "I knew (Meyer) was coming back," Cavazos said. "At least I had 99 percent hopes that he would ... It didn't change anything about my commitment at all."

    So his conversations with Johnson weren't always about this situation, but when Cavazos had questions, he got them answered. The commits who spoke with echoed that sentiment, and credited the staff with being available to address any concerns.

    "The communication has been, 'Hey, listen, you can ask questions, we may not have he the answers to them, but ask the hard questions,'" Day said last week. "So there's been open communication with all of them. They have all stuck together and I know that they all communicate with each other. So that's been a positive."

    That last part is key.

    It worked out well that Day recruited the top two players in the 2019 class -- Wilson and five-star center Harry Miller -- and quarterback Dwan Mathis. That class as a whole is a bit quiet, especially compared to the 2020 group, but that Day has strong bonds with players who can be labeled leaders in that class matters.

    The 2020 class has just six commits, but it's a tight class in constant communication with each other and uncommitted prospects through a group chat started by Wray. The four-star offensive tackle from Marietta, Georgia said he never wavered in his commitment, a stance that seemed to trickle down through the rest of his class.

    "It really for me wasn't that big of a deal," he said. "I didn't put a lot of thinking into it. I kinda just thought I'm gonna let them go through what they go through. I'm still a Buckeye."

    Through constant communication from the staff, and a with a group of players who didn't want to jump the gun until everything played out, Ohio State so far has kept its 2019 class together and its base for 2020 as strong as anyone's in the country.

    Though pulling that off didn't come without some difficulties.

    Wilson might be the most active recruiter in the 2019 class, and while unsure himself of what the outcome might be, he got the sense that maybe he should pull back on going after other players while things played out.

    "I can't lie and say I didn't have any doubts," he said. "But I talked to some people who were on campus and they kind of helped me have a better understanding of what was going on, and they had a good feeling that it was gonna be OK ... Whenever I was trying to recruit people, they obviously want to have stability at the head coach job. That scared them, and they didn't have people to talk to like I did at the university because they're not committed yet. It was a lot harder to recruit, so after a week I kind just wanted to wait before I got back at that."

    Cavazos encountered some of that in the 2020 class.

    "There was just one person in particular who I spoke to who was kind of iffy about it ... but that's classified," he said.

    The hope now is that such sentiment has mostly blown over.

    Wilson is back recruiting other prospects, and said it's mostly normal, with 15 players still solid in the 2019 class. The 2020 class, ranked No. 3 in the country, hasn't lost anybody while players themselves or their parents -- such as the father of 2020 quarterback Jack Miller -- were active on social media with strong support for Meyer and the program.

    If you were worried about some kind of mass exodus of committed players, that hasn't happened and at this point seems of little concern to a program that now has its head coach back.

    As for the future, this will create a new obstacle for the Buckeyes. It would be naive to think that it wouldn't.

    But how the program successfully navigated this first part has created some optimism that Ohio State can re-start its recruiting momentum. 

    "There's a lot of people who use this to look at Ohio State, and hate it more than they already did," Wilson said. "With me I'd say that it probably could change the outlook of the program, but hopefully we can get the kids that look past that and really want to be a part of the program."

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    Ohio State opens Big Ten play on Saturday against Rutgers in Ohio Stadium.

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State football opens Big Ten play on Saturday against Rutgers.

    Time: 3:30 p.m.

    Where: Ohio Stadium.

    TV: Big Ten Network.

    Announcers: Kevin Kugler, Matt Millen and Rick Pizzo.

    Radio: Ohio State's state-wide radio affiliates can be found here.

    Ohio State is coming off a 77-31 win over Oregon State in its season opener on Saturday. Rutgers, coached by former OSU assistant Chris Ash, opened with a 35-7 win over Texas State. will have coverage leading up to, during and after the game.

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    The Indians, one their second last trip of the regular season, open a four-game series against the Blue Jays on Thursday night at Rogers Centre.

    TORONTO -- Here is the preview and pitching matchups for the Indians' series against the Blue Jays.

    Where/when: Rogers Centre, Thursday through Sunday.

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

    Pitching matchups and starting times: RHP Shane Bieber (8-3, 4.66) vs. RHP Sam Gaviglio (3-7, 5.02) Thursday at 7:07 p.m.; RHP Carlos Carrasco (16-8, 3.52) vs. RHP Marco Estrada (7-11, 5.43) Friday at 7:07 p.m.; Adam Plutko (4-5, 5.04) vs. Sean Reid-Foley (1-2, 5.51) Saturday at 4:07 p.m. and RHP Mike Clevinger (11-7, 3.11) vs. LHP Thomas Pannone (1-1, 4.50) Sunday at 1:07 p.m.

    Series: The Indians are 1-2 against the Blue Jays this year. The Blue Jays lead, 207-206, overall.

    Hot pitchers: Clevinger is 4-0 in his last five starts with a 2.12 ERA after losing his four previous decisions for the Tribe. The Indians drafted Pannone, Sunday's starter for the Jays, in 2013. They traded him to the Blue Jays last year as part of the deal for Joe Smith.

    Hot hitters: Jason Kipnis hit .357 (10-for-28) with two homers and seven RBI on this just completed homestand for the Indians. Rookie Billy McKinney is hitting .370 (17-for-46) in his first 14 games with Toronto. He was acquired from the Yankees in the J.A. Happ deal.

    Team updates: The Indians are coming off a 5-4 homestand and embark on their second last trip of the regular season. Toronto, after winning five straight, went into Wednesday night's game against the Rays with seven losses in their last nine games. Toronto has won six of the last 10 games with the Tribe.

    Disabled list: Indians - 3B Josh Donaldson (left ankle), 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.

    Blue Jays - RHP Joe Biagini (left oblique), RHP Rhiner Cruz (right groin), 3B Brandon Drury (left hand), 3B Yangervis Solarte (right oblique), SS Troy Tulowitzki (surgery on both feet) are on the disabled list. RHP Marcus Stroman (blister right middle finger) is day to day.

    Next: Indians open a three-game series against the Rays on Monday night at Tropicana Field.

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    Doug and I discuss in the latest edition of Buckwhys if H-back Parris Campbell should get more than the four touches he had vs. Oregon State. Watch video

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State H-back Parris Campbell had just four offensive touches when the Buckeyes routed Oregon State, 77-31, in Week 1.

    That prompted the question that Doug Lesmerises and I touched on in this week's episode of Buckeye Talk

    Campbell is the most explosive of Ohio State's receivers with his ability to take a short pass and turn it into a big gain. It's something that we have seen a lot in past years. 

    So should coaches make Campbell a focal point of the offense each week?

    Watch us discuss that in the newest Buckwhys video above. Leave your own questions that you want asked for future Buckwhys episodes and remember to subscribe to the Ohio State Football on channel on YouTube.

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    The Cleveland Browns tried to trade two draft picks for AJ McCarron last season. They should be grateful the trade collapsed.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Talking to myself about the Buffalo Bills and the Browns;

    QUESTION: Did you see who is starting the season at quarterback for the Buffalo Bills?

    ANSWER: Josh Allen?

    Q: Nope, he's the backup. Try again.

    A: That's right, it was supposed to be AJ McCarron. The guy the Browns tried to trade for.

    Q: Didn't you see, Buffalo traded him?

    A: They just signed him as a free agent.

    Q: Traded him...

    A: For what?

    Q: To Oakland for a fifth-rounder.

    A: That's it?

    Q: That's it.

    A: Wait a minute, McCarron signed a 2-year, $10 million deal with Buffalo. They guaranteed him nearly $8 million. He was supposed to start until Josh Allen developed.

    Cleveland Browns vs. Buffalo Bills preseason game, August 17, 2018Josh Allen will be the backup in Buffalo.  

    Q: All that is true, but he played poorly and lost the job. But don't you see the bigger point?

    A: I'll give it a shot. Right before the 2017 trading deadline, the Browns suddenly decided to trade for McCarron, who was a backup in Cincinnati.

    Q: That's correct, and what else?

    A: They didn't start the trade talks with the Bengals until the morning of the last day, the deadline being 4 p.m.

    Q: What else?

    A: They thought they had a deal, sending a second- and third-round pick to Cincinnati for McCarron.

    Q: What happened?

    A: The Browns didn't get all the paperwork done in time. Former V.P. Sashi Brown took the blame. But owner Jimmy Haslam later admitted it was his fault because they started too late.

    Q: They were trading what for McCarron?

    A: It was a second- and third-round pick.

    Q: And McCarron was going to be what after the season?

    A: He was headed to free agency.

    Q: So the Browns were trying to trade a second-round pick. And a third-round pick. All that for a guy who would play a half-season and then be able to leave?

    A: Exactly.

    Q: Whose idea was that?

    A: Hue Jackson was pushing for McCarron because Jackson had coached him in Cincinnati.

    Cleveland Browns practice, August 28, 2018After all the moves, Tyrod Taylor ended up as quarterback with the Browns.  

    Q: Are the Browns thrilled that deal fell apart?

    A: You know the answer to that. New General Manager John Dorsey wanted a better quarterback than McCarron. That's why he traded a third-round pick to Buffalo for Tyrod Taylor.

    Q: So he traded the third-round pick headed to the Bengals for Taylor?

    A: A league source told me that was the case.

    Q: And a second-round pick, too?

    A: I know for a fact it was the second-rounder they received in the Brock Osweiler deal from Houston.

    Q: So what happened to those picks instead of them going to Cincinnati?

    A: The Browns used the second-rounder on running back Nick Chubb. They used the third-rounder in the trade for Taylor.

    Q: And McCarron signed with Buffalo to replace Taylor?

    A: That was the plan. McCarron opened training as the starter, but ended up being dumped for a fifth-rounder. In Oakland, he'll be the backup to Derek Carr.

    Q: So who is Buffalo's starting quarterback?

    A: It's Nathan Peterman.

    Q: Isn't that the same guy who started a game last season when Buffalo benched Taylor and Peterman threw five interceptions?

    A: Same guy. To be fair to Peterman, he was a rookie last year. He has had a terrific preseason, completing 80 percent of his passes -- three TDs compared to a single interception.

    Q: What happened to Josh Allen?

    A: In the third preseason game, he completed 6-of-12 passes for 34 yards. He was sacked five times. After the game, Allen told the media: "Getting out there with the first team, it's moving really fast. To see that speed, it's eye-opening."

    Q: So he's not ready to start?

    A: Not a surprise. He's coming from Wyoming. Most scouts believe he is a physically gifted quarterback who requires patience.

    Q: So the Bills moved away from Taylor and are opening with Peterman?

    A: That's the story.

    Q: And McCarron is on the bench in Oakland?

    A: Yep.

    Q: And Taylor is starting for the Browns?

    A: You got it. And my guess is the Browns will be very happy with how all of this worked out.

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    The three-star offensive tackle is down to Notre Dame and Stanford. Watch video

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State football is out for a player who was one of its top remaining offensive line targets in the 2019 class.

    Walter Rouse, a three-star tackle from Washington D.C., announced on Wednesday that his two finalists are Notre Dame and Stanford. That announcement comes on the heels of his official visit to Notre Dame last weekend.

    Rouse was last in Columbus in July, but with this announcement it appears unlikely the Buckeyes will be in line for an official visit this fall. Stanford was the leader in Rouse's 247Sports crystal ball as of Wednesday night, though the timing of this coming after his visit to South Bend suggests that could soon change.

    The Buckeyes have three offensive line commits in the Class of 2019, including four-star tackle Ryan Jacoby. With one senior tackle on the roster and two more already committed in the 2020 class, Ohio State doesn't necessarily have to take another tackle in this class. But there was a short list, and Rouse was on it.

    Other options include five-star prospect Darnell Wrightfour-star prospect Trevor Keegan and three-star prospect Jonathan Allen. None of those players have as of yet scheduled official visits to Ohio State.

    Buckeyes make the cut for 2019 DT

    Whether OSU adds another offensive tackle this cycle remains to be seen, but a position that will likely end up being filled at some point is defensive tackle. This is a deep position group that currently doesn't feature any seniors, though Dre'Mont Jones is a safe bet to turn pro after this year.

    Because of that you could see only one defensive tackle added in 2019, and OSU is still in the mix for one of the country's best. Siaki Ika -- a four-star prospect from Salt Lake City, Utah -- included Ohio State in his top eight schools in an announcement on Aug. 31.

    The No. 11 defensive tackle in the country is also considering Alabama, LSU, Ole Miss, Oregon, USC, Utah and Washington. Alabama currently has all of the predictions in Ika's 247Sports crystal ball. Ika took an official visit to USC in June, and has one set to LSU in October. Watch to see if Ohio State gets one of the remaining three.

    Ika was one of the more impressive performers at The Opening Finals in Dallas back in May, including getting into a couple of good matchups with 2019 Ohio State center commit Harry Miller.

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    Check here for the live first-round leaderboard for the PGA Tour's BMW Championship 2018 on Thursday, Sept. 6, in Pennsylvania. Tiger Woods was locked in early.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Tiger Woods, Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth comprise one of the groups for Rounds 1-2 of the PGA Tour's BMW Championship 2018 this week in Pennsylvania. The BMW, featuring a field of 69, is the third of four events in the FedExCup Playoffs.

    Bryson DeChambeau, who has won the first two playoff events (The Northern Trust, Dell Technologies Championship) is grouped with Dustin Johnson and Justin Rose. DeChambeau, Johnson and Rose are Nos. 1-3 in the FedExCup standings.

    Site: Newtown Square, Pa.
    Course: Aronimink GC. Yardage: 7,267. Par: 70.
    Purse: $9 million. Winner's share: $1,620,000.
    Television: Thursday-Friday, 2-6 p.m. (Golf Channel); Saturday, Noon-3:30 p.m. (Golf Channel), 3:30-6 p.m. (NBC); Sunday, Noon-2 p.m. (Golf Channel), 2-6 p.m. (NBC).
    Defending champion: Marc Leishman.
    FedExCup leader: Bryson DeChambeau.
    Last week: Bryson DeChambeau won the Dell Technologies Championship.
    Notes: This is the third FedEx Cup playoff event, with the top 30 advancing to the Tour Championship at East Lake in two weeks. .... DeChambeau is assured of being the No. 1 seed at the Tour Championship. At stake this week is getting one of the top five seeds. Those players only need to win the Tour Championship to claim the FedExCup title and the $10 million bonus. ... Aronimink last held a PGA Tour event in 2010 and 2011 when the AT&T National moved there from Congressional ahead of the 2011 U.S. Open. Justin Rose and Nick Watney won those two years. Tiger Woods, whose foundation ran the tournament, tied for 46th in 2010 and did not play in 2011 because of leg injuries. ... Rickie Fowler is playing his first FedExCup playoffs event. He missed the last two with an injury. He started at No. 17 and now is No. 26. ... Aronimink is where Gary Player won the PGA Championship in 1962. The club will host the Women's PGA Championship in 2020 and the PGA Championship in 2027.
    Next tournament: Tour Championship on Sept. 20-23.

    (Fact box from Associated Press.)

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    Whether the starter is Tyrod Taylor or Baker Mayfield, the Browns have a second quarterback they know is ready and capable. That's not the case with most teams.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- What do Jeff Driskel, Taylor HeinickeAlex Tanney and an alpaca have in common?

    None of them should start an NFL game at quarterback this season.

    All but the alpaca could.

    The state of backup quarterbacks in the NFL should leave more than half the league, maybe two-thirds, maybe 90 percent, beset with nerves entering week one. My shocking discovery over the weekend that eight former Browns quarterbacks are serving as primary backups around the league is just part of it.

    It's not only about Brandon WeedenCody KesslerBrock OsweilerBrian Hoyer, Josh McCownDeShone KizerColt McCoy and Robert Griffin III.

    It's also about C.J. BeathardCooper RushChase Daniel and the Chads, Henne and Kelly.

    And it's about the Browns. While the debate has raged over whether Tyrod Taylor or Baker Mayfield should start, as Hue Jackson has never wavered from Taylor, have we spent time on the flip side of that competition?

    The Browns have the best backup quarterback in the NFL. No lie.

    Whether it's a three-year starter with a winning record who led his team to the playoffs last year, or the overall No. 1 pick who adapted quickly to the demands of the pros and hasn't looked overmatched, that's the truth.

    When Taylor hurt his hand in the third preseason game, an injury that looked potentially serious, no one freaked out. Mayfield was ready. If the roles were reversed, the feelings wouldn't change.

    That's not true anywhere else in the league.

    The Oakland Raiders reached the end of the preseason, didn't like any options behind Derek Carr, and traded a fifth-round pick to Buffalo for AJ McCarron.

    The Green Bay Packers, after watching Brett Hundley go 3-6 last year after MVP candidate Aaron Rodgers went down, traded for Kizer, the failed Browns starter. When Kizer beat out Hundley, the Seattle Seahawks traded for Hundley and made him the backup behind MVP candidate Russell Wilson.

    The Houston Texans were 1-9 without Deshaun Watson last year, and switched backups from Tom Savage to Weeden, who hasn't thrown a pass in two years.

    New Orleans signed Savage to back up Drew Brees, then soured on him in camp and traded for the Jets' Teddy Bridgewater, a talented quarterback coming off a major knee injury that any team could have signed on the cheap in the offseason.

    The Patriots sat on Jimmy Garoppolo for years, and after last year's trade, big-money Jimmy G is the starter in San Francisco. The backup to Tom Brady, greatest quarterback of all-time, is Hoyer, he of the six career teams and 16-21 record.

    Rookies Josh Allen and Josh Rosen are the No. 2s in Buffalo and Arizona, but are they ready? Not as ready as Mayfield, picked ahead of them.

    Veterans Matt SchaubMatt Cassel and Ryan Fitzpatrick are the backups in Atlanta, Detroit and Tampa, but are they ready? At ages 37, 36 and 35, not as ready as Taylor, still in his prime at 29, would be if Mayfield slid into the starting role.

    The Rams might win 13 games with Jared Goff starting at quarterback. They won't if they need backup Sean Mannion, who has completed 31 NFL passes in three years.

    The Minnesota Vikings practically had to buy Kirk Cousins his own dome, his free agent contract was so huge. Last year, when Vikings starter Sam Bradford went down, backup Case Keenum went 11-3 and parlayed that into the starting job in Denver. So Cousins' backup is Trevor Siemian, who was so average starting for Denver last year while going 5-5, that the Broncos signed Keenum.

    The good backups from last year are now starters. The new backups are either failed starters, unproven youngsters, or mentor QBs on their last legs.

    This is a league where the Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl last season with backup Nick Foles after Carson Wentz saw his season ended by injury. Foles was a hot name in the offseason. He wrote a book, but didn't change jobs. He'll start the opener Thursday night as Wentz works back toward full health.

    You saw Foles in the preseason, that 5-0 Browns win in which Foles was intercepted twice. Are you sure the Super Bowl hero is a better backup than Mayfield right now?

    Jacoby Brissett was heralded as a pretty solid backup in Indianapolis after Andrew Luck was lost last year. Yet the Colts were 4-11 when he started, as he threw 13 touchdowns in 15 games.

    With the Chargers, Geno Smith is behind future Hall of Famer Philip Rivers, and Mason Rudolph and Joshua Dobbs are behind future Hall of Famer Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh after five-year backup Landry Jones was dumped. Blaine Gabbert, with his 11-34 career record, sits behind rising star Marcus Mariota in Tennessee.

    With backup QBs, those are usually your choices -- failed starter, young guy or old guy. If they were good, they'd still be starting.

    In picking the best backup in the league, you could certainly make a case for Foles, or make a case for Bridgewater if he's healthy. But we just went through every No. 2 quarterback in the league. (Wait, did we remember Gary Alpaca?)

    Did you want any of them as a backup more than the options already in Cleveland?

    There's a No. 1 pick who's ready when needed. There's a three-year starter with a winning record who isn't yet 30 and has emerged as a leader for the franchise before he's played a regular season game.

    Yes, there's a quarterback debate here. That's because there are two quarterbacks. That's not the case almost anywhere else.

    The Browns don't have the best starting quarterback in the league, not close. But in a league where teams try to win with backups all the time, they might have the best No. 2.

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    Le'Veon Bell's chair remained tucked neatly into his locker on Wednesday, meaning he will almost certainly not be available when the Steelers open the season in Cleveland this weekend.

    PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Le'Veon Bell's teammates spent the offseason and all of training camp brushing off his absence, confident in their belief that the Pittsburgh Steelers All-Pro running back would eventually let the business side of things play out, sign his franchise tender and be at work when things start to get real.

    He's one of the best in the league and earned the right to take his time, they said. He'll show up when it starts to matter, they said. We're not worried, they said.

    Time to worry. And vent.

    Bell's chair remained tucked neatly into his locker on Wednesday, meaning he will almost certainly not be available when the Steelers open the season in Cleveland this weekend.

    And while Bell's agent took to the airwaves to vaguely explain Bell's reasoning for staying away, the men Bell has played alongside for the past five years are starting to run out of patience.

    "Honestly it's a little selfish," said center Maurkice Pouncey, a captain who had predicted Bell would arrive by Wednesday. "I'm kind of (ticked) right now. It sucks that he's not here. We'll move on as a team. It doesn't look like he'll be in the game plan at this point."

    Veteran offensive guard Ramon Foster poked a little fun at Bell on social media, tweeting out a picture of Bell's head attached to the body of the character from the "Where's Waldo" line of children's books .

    "What do you do?" Foster said. "Here's a guy who doesn't give a damn, so I guess we'll treat it as such. I just hate it came to this."

    Bell and the Steelers spent each of the past two springs failing to come to terms on a new contract. Pittsburgh placed the franchise tag on Bell each time. The 26-year-old made over $12 million last season and is due $14.5 million this season if he signs his one-year tender by the weekend and the Steelers opt not to ask for a two-week roster exemption. He will lose about $850,000 for each game he misses.

    The biggest issue for Bell's teammates appears to be the lack of communication. There's a sense of anger that he has intentionally left them in the dark, forcing them to answer for him. Bell's agent Adisa Bakari was interviewed on SiriusXM NFL Radio on Wednesday and hinted at a concern Bell would be overworked this season by the Steelers, which could affect his earning potential when Bell reaches the open market in 2019. Bell's 406 touches led the NFL in 2017.

    Pittsburgh general manager Kevin Colbert, who expressed disappointment on Monday when Bell's locker remained empty, declined comment. Team spokesman Burt Lauten said the club would not conduct talks with Bakari through the media, adding "if Adisa would like to talk further, he has the phone number to our offices."

    Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger understands the constant questions about Bell but added "one person doesn't make or break you."

    "I'd like to say that the linemen are far more important than any skill position, including myself, on this team so this offense is more than just one back," Roethlisberger said.

    Maybe, but now the Steelers find themselves turning from a three-time Pro Bowler to a second-year player in James Conner. The former Pitt star is in line to make his first NFL start on Sunday and he's not too concerned about the circumstances that made it happen.

    "I've got the opportunity to play the game again," said Conner, who endured a highly public battle with cancer during his college career. "Any time I can play football, I don't take it for granted. I've got an opportunity for Sunday and I can't wait for it."

    What the Steelers can wait for at this point is Bell to join them. He can still technically accrue a full year of service time if he reports by Week 10.

    "At some point and you're like, 'All right, if you don't want to be here, it is what it is, hold out for 10 weeks," Pouncey said.

    Whatever Bell's plan is, he isn't telling. And the "train" that defensive end Cam Heyward uses as a symbol for the season is getting ready to roll. If Bell arrives in time to hop on is anyone's guess.

    "Like I said, we have a lot of weapons," Roethlisberger said. "We'd like to have him out there, but we have guys that can make plays for us."

    NOTES: The Steelers signed RB Trey Edmunds, the older brother of rookie safety Terrell Edmunds, to the practice squad and released RB Jarvion Franklin. ... TE Vance McDonald (foot) was limited in practice on Wednesday. All other players were full go.

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    The Browns could reach out to Bryant again after the vested veteran guarantee expires next week.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Dez Bryant slipped to the Browns' back burner after visiting the club last month, but things could heat up again next week after the vested veteran guarantee expires, a league source told

    If the Browns signed the ninth-year pro before the first game, his entire 2018 salary would be guaranteed. After the first game, only 25 percent of the salary is guaranteed in the event he were released.

    In a interview with Browns GM John Dorsey on Tuesday, he re-iterated that he liked Bryant during his visit here Aug. 16 and noted "it's a week-to-week thing. Who's to say I won't call Dez on Tuesday and see how it's going?'' He added that a player would have to come in soon to be able to make an impact this season. reported that the Browns offered Bryant a base salary worth less than $5 million for the 2018 season, and a source told that the two sides weren't close on the money.

    But the Browns could sweeten the deal with play-time and performance-based incentives.

    Bryant wants to play for a contender, and will undoubtedly have other suitors when the full guarantee is up. But there's no doubt that Bryant is a Dorsey kind of player.

    "I've had a chance to be around Dez,'' Dorsey said last month. "I got a chance, when he was down there at Lufkin, Texas, I actually went to his (pre-draft) workout and got a chance to meet him down there. I know what kind of person he is and what makes him, he's a very talented player."

    Browns quarterback Tyrod Taylor has been expressed several times that he'd love to see Bryant.

    "That would be awesome,'' he said last month. "I've said this before. We know what type of talent Dez brings to the football field. He's been a very, very good player in his time throughout this league and he adds talent to the wide receiver room.

    "I definitely think he could help this team."

    After Bryant's visit, Taylor said, "I've texted him, but I haven't physically talked to him. I would love to see where his mind is."

    The third episode of HBO's Hard Knocks showed a scene in Jackson's office with Bryant where he gets him fired up about what he believes can be "the greatest turnaround in sports history."

    He also tells Bryant, "In order to deliver, I need guys like you."

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    As Borland continues his comeback from an Achilles injury, it's clear he's needed on Ohio State's defense. Here's how he got to that point.

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- This all started with a game of patty cake?

    John Greenidge chuckles at that question.

    He's a four-time black belt. So it wasn't meant as an insult. It just seemed so, kind of silly, the image Greenidge and a young Ohio State linebacker Tuf Borland playfully clapping hands as a way of preparing to play football.

    Greenidge has been coaching athletes for more than a decade with a program that uniquely blends strength training, hand fighting and a deeper understanding of how the mind interacts with the body. It's developed over his 30-plus years as a competitive martial artist and gymnast, a method he uses with athletes across all sports out of his JG Tumbling and Training gym in Chicago. Borland has been a client since he was in eighth grade.

    Years of training athletes led Greenidge to the discovery that young girls typically have better hand-eye coordination than young boys, a skill he attributed to girls being more likely to play patty cake as children. So that's where he and Borland started in their first session eight years ago.

    "When you think about it, it's just hands coming at you, and you get used to that movement," Greenidge told "We used to play patty cake a lot. Then after a while instead of looking at each other, we would look away from each other and play. Now you're training your peripheral vision, which is actually faster than your linear vision. It takes 1.3 seconds of thought to get from your brain to your extremities."

    A conversation with Greenidge goes a lot of places. From games of patty cake (the more manly term would be hand fighting) to physics lessons about the angles at which you can hit a moving train with a pickup truck to knock it off of its tracks. You get a crash course in anatomy and psychology, and how the body is a system of levers that can be manipulated when pushed and pulled the right way.

    At some point you get to how the heck any of that has anything to do with Borland, the sophomore middle linebacker and Ohio State captain with the unique name who's made a stunning comeback from an Achilles injury suffered less than six months ago.

    You hear Achilles injury and think extensive rehab. Borland doesn't like to share the exact nature of the injury, whether it was a tear or something else. Regardless, the fact that he was on the field last week against Oregon State seemed awfully early when you consider such injuries often end entire seasons. Then you learn how Borland has been in tune with his body for years, how he's focused extensively on high-concept physical training since before he was in high school, and how that's affected him as a football player. Then it starts to make a little more sense.

    "He's always been a fast healer," his father, Kyle Borland said. "I had no doubt he was going to meet or exceed the projections for his recovery time."

    Tuf, born Jarred Tuf Borland, didn't have much choice.

    That story can be worn out, the one about the guy who was born to play football. With Borland, though, there really isn't any way around it.

    "It's in his blood, so to speak," Kyle said.

    Kyle played football at Wisconsin and then briefly in the NFL. Kyle's brother Brian is the defensive coordinator and safeties coach at the University of Buffalo. Their father was a high school coach in Wisconsin and then a college coach at Division III Wisconsin-Whitewater. Their grandfather was a high school coach in Iowa. Tuf's younger brother Trevor is a junior defensive end and tight end at Bolingbrook High School in the Chicago suburbs.

    The Borlands' love affair with football wasn't going to end after three generations.

    When the time came to take Tuf's training to another level, Kyle sought out the traditional strength and speed options. Through a mutual friend he met Greenidge, and became intrigued by his different approach.

    "We really liked the idea of total body awareness, mind awareness and how the mind affects the body," Kyle said. "I really think that's been beneficial for Tuf."

    Some of what Greenidge and Borland do sounds very familiar. Pushing and pulling sleds, push-ups, bear crawls, jumping rope and an ab regime. There are nine or 10 stations, three sets of each and high reps. Always high reps.

    That's also just the warm-up.

    When freshmen arrive at Ohio State, they typically remark about how the winter and summer conditioning drills are so grueling that they often mistake the warm-up for the full workout. For Borland at least, that wasn't anything new.

    "When most people train, they train the body to fatigue and then they stop. With what we do, we start at fatigue," Greenidge said.

    The warm-up is an hour long, including between 200 and 500 jumping jacks on a mat at the start. Doing them on a mat rather than on the hard floor is part of the plan to exhaust the athlete before the training really starts.

    "You're working the transverse muscles of the feet, burning the feet out and starting to make the person tired," Greenidge said.

    Once the warm-up is complete, more traditional methods like bench press and squat are combined with balance work and stations dedicated specifically to martial arts hand fighting. That's where Greenidge's four black belts -- two in taekwondo and two in karate -- come into play.

    "The hand fighting we do is how to fight in a closet, or in a phone booth," Greenidge said. "What we taught is that for somebody to be able to control you, they have to reach out and touch you. As soon as someone touches you, they are at a longer lever and I'm at a shorter lever. That means I'll have more power over them. Your body is basically a bunch of levers."

    No, Borland is not also a secret black belt. He never took up martial arts outside of this work with Greenidge.

    But you see some of the skill in how Borland plays. How, for an undersized middle linebacker at 6-foot-1 and 230 pounds, he's adept at using his hands to shed blocks from offensive linemen much larger than he is, and how he moves his body into the right gaps to plug up running lanes.

    That led to Borland finishing fourth on the team in tackles last year, despite only starting the final five games. When he took over as a starter, and OSU shuffled the linebacker pieces around him, a position group that was problematic for much of the season started to turn a corner.

    "If you pull back and look at a play and see everyone in their position, they're waiting for the offense," Greenidge said. "Defense is a reaction. If you look at his position, you'll see his mind is always moving even without him moving. You can see the twitching of the muscles getting ready to go. That's how he always trains."

    Coming off a season opener in which linebackers often found themselves out of position, a full return from Borland can again have the same effect it had last year for the Buckeyes. Though that's still at least one more game off.

    He was in 10 plays last week, part of a plan that targeted between six and 15 snaps. That number should come up this week against Rutgers and again next week against TCU as Borland, reluctantly, is worked slowly back into the plan.

    "Tuf is such a committed young man to what he's doing," defensive coordinator Greg Schiano said. "And he's made incredible progress. As a coach and as a father I kind of am hesitant, because that's a serious injury, as you know. But you have to trust the medical people and if they say he can go. ... One of the hardest things is going to be hold him back. If you know Tuf at all, he is a laser-focused guy. And he's put that laser focus on his recovery and getting ready to play."

    When Kyle and Jeny Borland flew from Chicago to Columbus last March after getting word of their son's injury, the initial feeling is what you'd expect.

    Kyle asked himself questions, "Why him?"

    Tuf was coming off such a productive season the year before. Kyle recalled being on the verge of tears in Ohio Stadium last September when Tuf got his first defensive snaps in a win over Army. The end of last season was supposed to be a springboard into a full year of being a starter.

    That was all put into question when Tuf injured is Achilles on what he called "kind of a freak thing" on an otherwise normal early play in spring practice. Then Kyle was assured that this road back would be a shorter one when he saw Tuf back in the Woody Hayes Athletic Center the same day he was released from the hospital.

    It always sounded kind of cheesy, the way Urban Meyer would describe his optimism for Borland making a quicker recovery than most. Stuff about living up to the name, corny lines that write themselves. It turns out, though, that since he was in elementary school, Tuf has been focused on exactly that.

    The name is unique. Kyle Borland once worked with a Montana-based sales rep named Tuf, and the name always stuck with him. The Borlands gave their oldest son the name Jarred Tuf with the intention of calling him by his middle name. They also wanted to give him an out in case he wanted to shed that moniker when he got older.

    But his grade school teachers refused to call him "Tuf" out of fear that it might incite other students to pick on, or worse, try to fight the tuf guy. Tuf decided he wasn't going to give them a choice, and around the time he was in fifth grade he persuaded his parents to legally drop the Jarred.

    Tuf was Tuf.

    "I always teased him, you better be tough then," Kyle said.

    Turns out that it was good self-awareness by Tuf, and good forethought by his parents to give their son a name that quite literally described his mentality when faced with new challenges.

    "He's like missile," Greenidge said. "When he has the target, he's focused on the target. ... I would really hate to be the person who has to line up against him. If you're the person who has to line up against him, and look into his eyes ...

    "Good luck."

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    Bowen broke his leg last year against Maryland, and posted on social media that he's undergone a third surgery on his road to recovery.

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State junior offensive lineman Branden Bowen on Thursday underwent surgery on the leg he injured last year against Maryland, according to a post on Bowen's Instagram account.

    An Ohio State spokesperson confirmed to that Bowen had surgery, but could not offer a timetable for return.

    Bowen said in his social media post that this is the third surgery he's had on his left leg since breaking it on Oct. 7 of last season. Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer called it "a clean break" then.

    Bowne Instagram post 

    Bowen was held out of spring practice while recovering from the broken leg. Acting head coach Ryan Day said last week that Bowen had still been bothered by the injury throughout training camp.

    "He has been dealing with that leg injury and coming back from it has been a little bit slower than he's liked," Day said. "He's still working through that now. But he has missed some time and so I know he's been frustrated with that, but it's a long road to recovery with the injury that he had."

    Bowen has not been listed on either of Ohio State's depth charts this season. He was OSU's starting right guard last year for the first six games before the injury, and was thought to be in contention for a starting job again this year provided he was healthy.

    Demetrius Knox and Malcolm Pridgeon started at guard in last week's season opener against Oregon State. Brady Taylor and Wyatt Davis were listed as the back-up guards.

    Bowen posted a message on Instagram following his surgery:

    "This past year has been by far the most challenging year of my life," he wrote. "I found out a couple weeks ago that my fibula hadn't fully healed, and was not connected (known as a non-union), and would most likely never fully heal on its own. I tried to play through this for a while, but the pain became too much as it was affecting how I was playing, from running, to simply taking my steps as an offensive lineman. As frustrating as this injury has been, I know it's going to make me stronger after it's all said and done. I know God has a plan for me. I'll be back and better than ever."

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    DETROIT (AP) -- Billionaire Richard DeVos, co-founder of direct-selling giant Amway, owner of the Orlando Magic and father-in-law of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, died Thursday. He was 92. Family spokesman Nick Wasmiller says DeVos died at his western Michigan home due to complications from an infection. DeVos was born in Grand Rapids, not far from Ada, the community about...

    DETROIT (AP) -- Billionaire Richard DeVos, co-founder of direct-selling giant Amway, owner of the Orlando Magic and father-in-law of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, died Thursday. He was 92.

    Family spokesman Nick Wasmiller says DeVos died at his western Michigan home due to complications from an infection.

    DeVos was born in Grand Rapids, not far from Ada, the community about 140 miles (225 kilometers) west of Detroit where he later lived and died.

    In 1949, he and friend Jay Van Andel took $49 and invested the modest amount into manufacturer and vitamin direct-seller Nutrilite. They became independent vitamin distributors and later used the company's person-to-person selling approach when starting Amway in Ada with an all-purpose household cleaning product.

    They coined the name Amway as an abbreviation of "American Way." Over five decades, Amway became a multibillion dollar international corporation. Van Andel died in 2004.

    "Rich and my father built this company from the ground up, and in many ways Rich was the heart and soul of Amway," said Steve Van Andel, Amway's chair. "His vision and spirit inspired our employees and independent business owners for more than 50 years."

    DeVos, who served as Amway's president until 1993, also was involved in the NBA, buying the Magic from a group headed by Orlando real estate developer William duPont III in 1991.

    "Mr. DeVos' boundless generosity, inspirational leadership and infectious enthusiasm will always be remembered," Magic CEO Alex Martins said in a statement. "Simply, he was the team's No. 1 cheerleader and the best owner that a Magic fan could ever want for their team."

    Amway was not with controversy. The Federal Trade Commission charged in 1969 that company was an illegal pyramid scheme, but ruled after a six-year investigation that it wasn't.

    Amway also has been controversial because of its almost evangelical zeal in promoting free enterprise, and gained attention with DeVos' and Jay Van Andel's high-profile participation in Republican politics. DeVos was a major supporter of the Republican Party and was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to the Presidential Commission on AIDS in 1987.

    DeVos and his late wife, Helen, also donated to Christian churches and ministries and various other causes through their Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation.

    DeVos also supported Grand Valley State University in Allendale. In the 1970s, he served on its governing board. He later became president of the university's foundation board.

    "Rich gave so much of himself to Grand Valley. His enthusiasm and vision were contagious, and drew the entire community together to help provide a world-class education to West Michigan citizens," Grand Valley State President Thomas J. Haas said in a written statement.

    DeVos and Van Andel also helped revitalize downtown Grand Rapids, and many buildings and institutions in the city bear the names of the men or their company.

    DeVos graduated from Grand Rapids Christian High School and attend Calvin College. He served from 1944-46 in the U.S. Army Air Corps.

    His son, Dick, is married to Betsy DeVos, who was appointed Education Secretary by President Donald Trump. He is also survived by four other children, two sisters and a number of grandchildren.

    Services have not been finalized.

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    The defending Super Bowl Champions Philadelphia Eagles host Atlanta Falcons Thursday night.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio - Week 1 of the NFL season starts Thursday night with the Super Bowl defending champions Philadelphia Eagles and the Atlanta Falcons.

    The Eagles will begin the season as they ended last season - with back-up quarterback Nick Foles as the starter.

    How long Foles will remain the starter depends on his play and how soon starter Carson Wentz returns from his injury. It isn't likely Wentz will play in Week 2.

    Other notable games in the Week 1 schedule includes the Cincinnati Bengals at the Indianapolis Colts and the return of quarterback Andrew Luck. He will play for the first time since the end of the 2016 season due to a shoulder injury.

    There's also the Monday Night football tilt between the Oakland Raiders and Los Angeles Rams. The Rams are Super Bowl contenders with running back Todd Gurley, quarterback Jared Goff, receiver Brandin Cooks and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

    The Raiders, on the other hand, traded its best player in Khalil Mack and Jon Gruden will take the field as a head coach for the first time in 10 years.

    NFL Week 1 Schedule


    Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles, 8:30 p.m., NBC


    Cincinnati Bengals at Indianapolis Colts, 1 p.m., CBS
    Buffalo Bills at Baltimore Ravens, 1 p.m., CBS
    Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints, 1 p.m., FOX
    Houston Texans at New England Patriots, 1 p.m., CBS
    San Francisco 49ers at Minnesota Vikings, 1 p.m., FOX
    Tennessee Titans at Miami Dolphins, 1 p.m., FOX
    Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns, 1 p.m., CBS
    Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Giants, 1 p.m., FOX
    Kansas City Chiefs at LA Chargers, 4:05 p.m., CBS
    Washington at Arizona Cardinals, 4:25 p.m., FOX
    Dallas Cowboys at Carolina Panthers, 4:25 p.m., FOX
    Seattle Seahawks at Denver Broncos, 4:25 p.m., FOX
    Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers, 8:25 p.m., NBC


    New York Jets at Detroit Lions, 7:10 p.m., ESPN
    LA Rams at Oakland Raiders, 10:20 p.m., ESPN

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    This week's Cleveland Baseball Talk Podcast looks at Josh Donaldson's potential impact on the Indians' roster.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Josh Donaldson has homered twice in minor-league rehab starts for the Cleveland Indians and looks like he could be ready to join the club in Tampa Bay next week.

    But does the acquisition of Donaldson solve more problems for the Cleveland Indians than it creates?

    Donaldson's impending arrival leaves manager Terry Francona little time to get his team in order for the postseason. With 24 games remaining, Jason Kipnis and Jose Ramirez must acclimate quickly to their new roles in center field and second base.

    In this week's Cleveland Baseball talk podcast, Paul Hoynes and Joe Noga discuss what it will take for the Donaldson experiment to work in Cleveland's favor. Paul and Joe also answer reader-submitted questions about Francona's fire, Yonder Alonso's future and the pace of play.

    We even take a look at the ongoing prank war between Terry Francona and Rays manager Kevin Cash, and what could happen in Tampa next week.

    Got a question you want answered on the podcast? Submit it to Paul or Joe on Twitter or via email.

    Listen along to the show and leave your comments. You can download the audio here.

    Subscribe on iTunes.
    Subscribe on Google Play.

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    Ward will likely spend plenty of time going against Brown on Sunday afternoon. Watch video

    BEREA, Ohio -- Browns rookie cornerback Denzel Ward will get a taste of life at cornerback in the NFL early on Sunday against the Steelers. He'll likely line up across from one of the best -- if not the best -- wide receivers in football, Antonio Brown.

    And Ward's job, according to head coach Hue Jackson, is simple.

    "Cover him," Jackson said. "That is what it comes down to."

    Simple enough, right?

    Except we all know it's not. Brown has put up more than 1,200 yards receiving for five straight years, including four seasons over 1,400 yards. Last season marked the first time since 2013 in which he scored single-digit touchdowns -- and he still scored nine of them. In 12 career games against the Browns, he has 86 catches, 1,312 yards and seven receiving touchdowns. He caught all 11 of his targets in the opener last season for 182 yards, including a backbreaking 38-yard reception that set up the Steelers to run the clock out on their 21-18 victory.

    So, yeah, you definitely want to cover him.

    "He's going to push you," Ward said on Thursday. "He's going to work every play, so you've just got to know where he's at all the time on the field."

    Ward might not end up following Brown all afternoon. Early indications are that he might just play one side of the field, but he wasn't saying either way on Thursday. The Steelers, at least under their former offensive coordinator Todd Haley -- who now does the same job for the Browns -- loved finding creative ways to get Brown the ball.

    "We are going to have to always know where he is and what he is attempting to do," Jackson said, "and we have to get him shut down, but it will not just be Denzel trying to do that."

    When asked what makes Brown so dangerous, though, Ward didn't point to the route running or the shiftiness or the versatility -- he brought up Brown's ability at the catchpoint.

    "Cornerbacks can be on him at the catchpoint," Ward said, "but he comes down with those 50/50 balls."

    The same can be said for the Steelers' other dynamic weapon, JuJu Smith-Schuster. He put up 143 yards against the Browns in Pittsburgh's Week 17 win last season, a game Brown sat out.

    Ward said that, even though Smith-Schuster spends time in the slot, he'll be outside enough that the two could end up facing each other.

    "Those guys, they win a lot of balls at the 50/50 catch point," Ward said, "so catching a lot of balls and the way they run their routes, really good receivers."

    When one of those players does make a catch, Ward likely won't change his tackling style too much. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams went after Ward when he got hurt against the Eagles while making a tackle against tight end Zach Ertz that forced Ward out of the game. Williams blamed Ward's "stupid" tackling against Ertz.

    Ward said he would critique some things about his tackling and he knew what Williams wanted him to do, but also said it's hard to get into an ideal position sometimes.

    He also said Williams said the same thing to him as he did to the media.

    "That didn't really faze me," Ward said. "That's who he is, that's the type of person he is and, growing up, my parents always told me people aren't going to always talk nice to you or be your friend, so I don't really let that stuff faze me."

    Don't expect Ward, who said he will have 50 or so people in attendance for his hometown debut at FirstEnergy Stadium, to get fazed by facing Brown, either. What better way to start your career than going against one of the best?

    "Definitely embracing that challenge and look forward to going against him," Ward said.

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    Three outrageous predictions for Ohio State's game on Saturday against Rutgers. Watch video

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Some would say that Rutgers being in the Big Ten is outrageous. But hey, man ... New Yorkers have televisions. So we're into the part of Ohio State's schedule when the Buckeyes play the team on the eastern edge of the conference footprint. Mighty Rutgers.

    Ohio State vs. Rutgers by the numbers: sports, money, academics

    The inventors of college football come to Ohio Stadium on Saturday for a 3:30 p.m. kick on Big Ten Network, looking to score for the first time in three games. In 2016, Ohio State beat Rutgers 58-0. Last year OSU won 56-0 in New Jersey. So, improvement for the Scarlet Knights.

    Here's my outrageous prediction for Saturday's game: Rutgers will score.

    Doug Lesmerises says Parris Campbell gets more involved in the game plan, to the tune of setting a career high in total yards. Tim Bielik thinks the defense will take the ball away three times -- perhaps not that outrageous given that Rutgers turned the ball over four times against Texas State last week -- but we don't do re-shoots.

    Maybe the outrageous part was Tim not picking Rutgers to turn it over more.

    Doug, Tim and I offer our outrageous predictions for Saturday's game in the video above.

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    Kendricks is facing charges for insider trading.

    BEREA, Ohio -- Former Browns linebacker Mychal Kendricks pleaded guilty to insider trading charges on Thurdsay afternoon. He was charged last week, along with his friend, Damilare Sonoiki, a Harvard-educated analyst for Goldman Sachs who's currently a writer for the ABC hit sitcom "Black-ish."

    Kendricks was released by the Browns Aug. 29.

    According to

    "U.S. District Judge Gene E.K. Pratter asked Kendricks why he was pleading guilty.
    "'Because I know I was wrong," he said. "I know that I made the decision to accept information, secret information, and it wasn't the right thing to do.'
    "The judge said she wanted to be sure that Kendricks was not coerced into making his decision to plead guilty.
    "'I'm making the decision because it's the right thing to do,' he said."

    Kendricks could face up to 25 years in prison.

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