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NFL Notebook: Jaguars RB Fournette will miss fourth game

Sports Xchange
11 Oct 2018, 09:21 GMT+10

Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette will miss his second straight game and fourth this season after being ruled out for Sunday's contest against the Dallas Cowboys.

Fournette is nursing a troublesome hamstring injury for the Jaguars (3-2), who are once again expected to lean on running back T.J. Yeldon. Jamaal Charles was signed as a free agent on Tuesday to help a backfield that also saw Corey Grant placed on injured reserve because of a foot injury.

While Jacksonville is going week-to-week with Fournette, Florida Football Insiders cited a "source having knowledge of the Jaguars' thinking" that the team will sit him through the Week 9 bye.

The Jaguars host the AFC South rival Houston Texans in Week 7 before traveling to London to face the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 8.

Yeldon has rushed for 258 yards and reeled in 22 passes for 194 yards while taking on the lead role for the Jaguars in Fournette's absence.

Head coach Doug Marrone also ruled out left tackle Josh Wells (groin) for Sunday's game versus the Cowboys. Josh Walker likely get the start in place of Wells, who took over after Cam Robinson's season-ending ACL injury. Cornerback D.J. Hayden will miss his fourth straight game because of a toe injury.

--The NFL on Wednesday fined head coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers $25,000 for criticizing game officials following a victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, USA Today Sports reported.

"We've got to get better as a National Football League," Tomlin said on Sunday. "Man, these penalties are costing people games and jobs. We've got to get them correct. So, I'm pissed."

It is believed Tomlin, who called the quality of officiating "a joke," apparently was unhappy with a questionable roughing-the-passer penalty called against Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt.

There has been an outcry around the NFL about such calls this season, as the league seems to be more intent than ever on protect its quarterbacks. Tomlin, who is a member of the of the NFL's competition committee, on Monday spoke about the issue with Troy Vincent, the league's executive vice president of football operations, and told reporters later that he did not expect to draw a fine.

--Running back Devonta Freeman of the Atlanta Falcons, who missed three games because of a knee injury, was back on the injury report when he missed practice because of a foot injury.

Freeman, who injured his right knee in the Falcons' opener and did not play again until a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, has a bone contusion in the foot, according to the NFL Network, but he did some individual work on the side while his teammates practiced.

Against the Steelers, Freeman had 41 total yards on 10 touches while taking part in 28 snaps, the most of any Falcons running back. Tevin Coleman recorded 26 snaps while Ito Smith tallied 11.

Freeman has 14 carries for 68 yards, a 4.9-yard average, when he has been able to play this season, but has not scored a touchdown. He also has five receptions for 23 yards. The Falcons (1-4) play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this weekend, and obviously hope Freeman is able to play against the NFL's fourth-ranked rushing defense.

--Quarterback Deshaun Watson took a beating during the Houston Texans' 19-16 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night, but he said that he will be ready to go this week against the Buffalo Bills.

The Houston Chronicle reported that Watson, who received treatment on the sideline during the game after taking several big hits, is dealing with a chest injury.

"For sure," Watson said, according to Deepi Sidhu of the Texans' official website, when he was asked if he would be able to face the Bills.

"I feel good; I feel great," added Watson, who completed 33 of 44 passes for 375 yards with one touchdown and one interception against the Cowboys. "I've been sore plenty of times. That's part of the game."

--Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix said he sees the writing on the wall and doesn't expect to return to the Green Bay Packers next season.

Clinton-Dix, who is a 2016 Pro Bowl selection, is in the final season of his contract year.

"Right now, I'm playing each and every game like it's my last. I don't think I'm going to be here next year," the 25-year-old Clinton-Dix told ESPN. "That's how I look at it. I just (have to) be honest with myself. You've got to play it game-by-game. Whether we're losing by 60 points, you've got to go out there and perform. This is my biggest interview of my career. So I've got to perform, regardless of what the record says."

Clinton-Dix steered clear of organized team activities while seeking a long-term deal with the Packers. The team had picked up the fifth-year option on his contract.

--Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger doesn't want to see running back James Conner relegated to the bench when three-time Pro Bowl selection Le'Veon Bell returns to the team.

"Now granted, I think Le'Veon's one of the best in the business, I think we all understand that and can agree on that," Roethlisberger told 93.7 The Fan, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "But what James needs to understand -- and he's gonna say the right things, and he should (as) a younger guy with a veteran, awesome football player ahead of him -- but when Le'Veon comes back, in no way, shape or form should James just say, 'OK, it's all yours. I'm gonna sit back and when you need me, use me.'

"And I will push for James to get as much run as we can because we've seen some great things from him in all phases of football. He's picking up blitzes, he's catching the ball, he's running hard and making plays and playing with a passion, so we need to keep using that."

Conner has rushed 84 times for 342 yards and five touchdowns to go along with 22 receptions for 239 yards this season. The Steelers (2-2-1) visit the Cincinnati Bengals (4-1) in an AFC North showdown on Sunday. They have a Week 7 bye before a contest versus the Cleveland Browns in Week 8.

--Carolina Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers spent his off day assessing the damage of Hurricane Florence with his own eyes.

Peppers, who started a fund for Hurricane Florence relief with $100,000 of his own money, spent Tuesday helping with the recovery efforts in Lumberton, N.C -- about a two-hour drive from his hometown in Bailey.

"My home isn't too far away from that area, and that made it real to me," the 38-year-old Peppers said, via the Charlotte Observer. "It made it real to me to actually come down here and see some of the damage, some of the people who were affected by this disaster."

Hurricane Florence caused extensive damage in September, with estimates saying it will take years to fix.

"A lot of these people had to rip the walls out of their homes, throw out furniture and clothing, throw out everything that they had, all of their possessions thrown to the side of the road," Peppers said. "Seeing those things, and the people telling their stories, it was an experience that I'm going to take with me and that I'm going to share with others as I encourage others to come try to help out, too."

--Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week for the second time this season after collecting his second three-sack performance.

Watt had eight tackles and forced a fumble during Pittsburgh's 41-17 win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. He also received the honor in Week 1 following a three-sack effort versus Cleveland.

Also on Wednesday, New York Jets running back Isaiah Crowell was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week after rushing for a franchise-best 219 yards on just 15 carries in Sunday's 34-16 victory over the Denver Broncos.

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week after surpassing Peyton Manning as the NFL's new all-time leader in passing yards on Monday. Brees threw for 363 yards with three touchdowns in the Saints' win over the Washington Redskins.

Arizona Cardinals defensive end Chandler Jones earned NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors after recording a sack, forced fumble and recovery in Sunday's win over the San Francisco 49ers.

--Cleveland Browns cornerback Denzel Ward has opened a lot of eyes during his rookie season.

Ward, who was the fourth overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, was named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week after blocking a field-goal attempt in Cleveland's 12-9 overtime win over the Baltimore Ravens.

The 21-year-old Ward also had five tackles, three passes defended and an interception against the Ravens. Perhaps not surprisingly, Ward received rave reviews from his teammates for his performance.

"He was everywhere," Cleveland defensive end Myles Garrett said, via the team's official website. "He had a game just like he did in the first game of the season, where he was ball hawking and on top of guys at all times."

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