Fri Aug 23 11:09pm ET
By FRED GOODALL
AP Sports Writer
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Rashard Higgins (81) can't hang onto the ball after getting past Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Carlton Davis (33) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game Friday, Aug. 23, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken)
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) eludes a tackle by Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Carl Nassib (94) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game Friday, Aug. 23, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Vernon III Hargreaves III (28) knocks the ball away from Cleveland Browns wide receiver Derrick Willies (84) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game Friday, Aug. 23, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback M.J. Stewart Jr., (36) knocks a pass away from Cleveland Browns wide receiver Rashard Higgins (81) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game Friday, Aug. 23, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio)
Cleveland Browns defensive end Chris Smith (50) sacks Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game Friday, Aug. 23, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio)
Cleveland Browns cornerback Denzel Ward (21) knocks the ball away from Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Breshad Perriman (19) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game Friday, Aug. 23, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Jameis Winston (3) throws a pass during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Cleveland Browns Friday, Aug. 23, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Matt Gay kicked a 21-yard field goal with 15 seconds remaining, giving the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a 13-12 preseason victory over the Cleveland Browns on Friday night.
The rookie's game-winner capped a 16-play drive lasting more than seven minutes. Cairo Santos booted a 23-yard field goal in the third quarter and third-string quarter Ryan Griffin threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Leggett for the Bucs (2-1).
Rookie Austin Seibert kicked four field goals for the Browns (2-1), who led 9-0 when Baker Mayfield and the rest of Cleveland's starters left the game.
Mayfield, the No. 1 overall pick from the 2018 draft, started and played the entire first half after getting just one series of work in Cleveland's preseason opener against Washington and sitting out last week's game at Indianapolis.
Playing without starting receivers Odell Beckham Jr. (hip) and Jarvis Landry, the second-year quarterback led three short field-goal drives and was not particularly sharp while completing 10 of 26 passes for 72 yards and one interception.
Tampa Bay's Jameis Winston had an even tougher night, though it wasn't all his doing.
Gay missed a 37-yard field goal and Tampa Bay's leaky offensive line had difficulty protecting Winston, allowing five sacks while the fifth-year pro was in the game.
The No. 1 overall pick from the 2015 draft, who's closing in on becoming the franchise's career passing leader yet still trying to prove he's the club's long-term answer at quarterback, finished 9 of 19 for 88 yards without an interception.
Winston played seven series after seeing limited action the previous two weeks against Pittsburgh and Miami. Backup Blaine Gabbert started the second half and led the Bucs into field goal range before falling awkwardly at the end of an 8-yard scramble and heading to the locker room with a shoulder injury. Griffin's TD pass to Leggett gave Tampa Bay a short-lived 10-9 lead late in the third quarter.
Browns: Starting CB Denzel Ward made his preseason debut after missing two games with a minor leg injury. ... Coach Freddie Kitchens doesn't view the third preseason game as a dress rehearsal for the regular season. He's more concerned with keeping players fresh and healthy for the Sept. 8 opener, so his plan was to determine playing time for regulars on a case-by-case basis.
Buccaneers: WR Mike Evans, ILB Lavonte David, DL Vita Vea, TE Cameron Brate, S Mike Edwards, ILB Devante Bond, OLB Anthony Nelson and OLB Kahzin Daniels did not play. ... Backup TE Antony Auclair (calf) left the game in the first half and did not return. ... ILB Deone Bucannon (knee) and S Kentrell Brice (shoulder) were injured during the second quarter.
With field goals of 54, 36, 30 and 35 yards, Seibert may have made some headway in the competition for Cleveland's kicking job. Incumbent Greg Joseph has struggled and Seibert, a fifth-round draft pick out of Oklahoma, had not been consistent before converting all three of his attempts Friday.
Tampa Bay's kicking situation is unsettled, too, with Gay, a fifth-round draft pick from Utah, competing against incumbent Cairo Santos. Gay kicked a 55-yard field goal against Miami last week, but hasn't been as accurate on shorter kicks. His 37-yard attempt against the Browns hit the right upright and bounced away.
Browns: Preseason finale at home vs. Detroit next Thursday
Buccaneers: Close the preseason next Thursday at Dallas
Five Waiver Wire Adds: Week 3
The Seattle Seahawks are placing wide receiver Phillip Dorsett II (foot) on Injured Reserve on Tuesday, according to a source. Dorsett will be eligible to return in three weeks, and it'll give him some time to let his injured foot heal. The earliest he'll be able to return will be in Week 6. He hasn't played yet in 2020. Dorsett's injury has opened the door for David Moore as the No. 3 behind wideouts DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. Moore took advantage in the Week 2 win over the Patriots, catching all three of his targets for 48 yards and his first touchdown of the year. However, he's still a reach in deep leagues, as he's competing with rookie Freddie Swain and has only six targets through two games.
San Francisco 49ers DE Dee Ford (back) is expected to miss Week 3 against the New York Giants, and there appears to be no clear timetable for his return, according to multiple sources.
If all goes well with COVID-19 testing, the New York Giants will sign free-agent running back Devonta Freeman, according to sources. Freeman visited with the Eagles a few days ago, but it's looking like he'll land with the Giants after they lost Saquon Barkley (knee) for the season. The veteran back has 43 scrimmage touchdowns since 2014, which is tied for 11th in the NFL in that span. Freeman should eventually become the team's lead back, but it remains to be seen how long before that'll happen. Until then, Dion Lewis and Wayne Gallman will split touches, making this a tough backfield to get behind until Freeman gets up to speed. For those hurting at running back early in the season, Freeman will be an attractive waiver pickup heading into Week 3.
Free-agent RB Devonta Freeman (Falcons) reportedly agreed to terms on an undisclosed contract with the New York Giants on Tuesday, Sept. 22.
Fantasy Spin: Freeman is reportedly waiting to get through COVID-19 protocols, but it appears the deal will happen if everything checks out OK. If the deal comes together as expected, the former Atlanta Falcon can't be expected to do much in Week 3 but should be expected to lead this backfield at some point early in October. Unfortunately, he graded out as one of the worst running backs analytically last season, so it's debatable what he might be able to offer fantasy owners. Consider him a low-end flex option at best.
Atlanta Falcons QB Kyle Lauletta was released from the practice squad Tuesday, Sept. 22.
New York Giants RB Saquon Barkley (knee) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee Tuesday, Sept. 22. CB Ryan Lewis was elevated from the practice squad to take Barkley's spot on the roster.
The Indianapolis Colts placed wide receiver Parris Campbell (knee) on Injured Reserve on Tuesday with injuries to his MCL and PCL. The team also put safety Malik Hooker (Achilles) on IR, and he'll miss the entire season. The Colts are saying that Campbell will be out indefinitely, but he'll be eligible to return from the IR in three weeks. Without a timetable for a return, the 23-year-old can be dropped in shallow formats if you don't have the room to stash him. Rookie Michael Pittman Jr. and Zach Pascal will see more targets alongside T.Y. Hilton with Campbell out, but this Colts team could be transitioning to more of a run-first offense behind their stellar offensive line.
Indianapolis Colts WR Parris Campbell (knee) and S Malik Hooker (Achilles) were placed on the Reserve/Injured list Tuesday, Sept. 22. The Colts also elevated S Ibraheim Campbell and CB Tremon Smith from the practice squad and added free-agent TEs Hale Hentges and Ethan Wolf to the practice squad.
Los Angeles Rams running back Malcolm Brown (pinkie) had surgery on Monday to repair the fractured left pinkie finger that he suffered in the Week 2 win over the Eagles. The Rams expect Brown to play in Week 3 against the Bills, however. Just as we expected, this Rams backfield has been tough to figure out through two weeks of the season. Brown had 18 carries for 79 yards and two touchdowns in the Week 1 win over Dallas, but he came back to Earth against Philly, carrying the ball 11 times for 47 yards and didn't catch a pass. To make things worse, both Brown and rookie Cam Akers (rib) are injured heading into a tough Week 3 matchup with the Bills. Darrell Henderson Jr. could see more of a lead-back role this Sunday as a result, making Brown more of a touchdown-dependent RB3/flex.
Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Henry Ruggs III had a quiet Monday night in the win against the Saints, catching just one pass for four yards on three targets. Tight end Darren Waller saw nearly half the targets among the team's pass-catchers, so there were not many to go around for the rest of the offensive weapons. Combining this with 35 rushes did not give Ruggs a whole lot of opportunity to catch passes. Ruggs also saw a lot of attention from the Saints secondary due to his speed and explosiveness. Things will not get easier next week against the Patriots, where Ruggs will likely see a lot of attention from star cornerback Stephon Gilmore. It is unlikely that Ruggs will only catch one pass again next week, but don't expect him to have a great performance either.
Detroit Lions RB Jonathan Williams was released from the practice squad Tuesday, Sept. 22.
Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller was dominant against the Saints, catching 12 balls for 103 yards and a touchdown on a whopping 16 targets. The Saints had absolutely no answer for Waller. He is too big and strong for safeties and cornerbacks and too fast for linebackers, so he is a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. He is clearly quarterbackDerek Carr's favorite offensive weapon, leading the team in targets by a significant margin. He will match up against the Patriots next week, a team that has found success against opposing tight ends thus far, but they have not faced an elite tight end like Waller to this point. Look for Waller to have another strong performance next week. He's a must-start high-end TE1 each and every week.
Los Angeles Rams rookie running back Cam Akers (rib) is being listed as day-to-day after separating rib cartilage in the Week 2 win over the Eagles. Akers had just three carries for 13 yards before suffering the injury last Sunday, but he should be OK going forward. However, the Rams are uncertain on Akers' status for this weekend at the Bills, which is already a very tough matchup to begin with. Malcolm Brown (pinkie) is ailing, too, but LA also has Darrell Henderson Jr. in the picture, so Akers will once again be an extremely risky flex option in shallow leagues for Week 3. After two weeks, this Rams backfield has been extremely tough to predict, as was expected coming into the year.
Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr had an impressive performance against the Saints, throwing for 282 yards and three touchdowns in a Monday night victory. Carr showed his efficiency once again, completing 73 percent of his passes and not throwing an interception. The Saints have a solid defense, so this was an encouraging performance from Carr. After a difficult first quarter, the Raiders were great on third down, and the Saints had no answer for the passing attack. Carr has led the Raiders offense to 34 points per game over the first two contests, but it will not be easy to keep this pace next week against the Patriots. Carr will need to have a couple more of these performances to start being considered as a legitimate fantasy starter.
Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs picked up 88 yards on 27 carries in a win against the Saints. The Saints have one of the best defenses in the league, so yards did not come easy for Jacobs. It was not the best fantasy day, considering he was not heavily utilized in the passing game, catching just three balls for 17 yards. However, he showed that he can still put up a significant amount of yards against stout run defenses, gaining over 40 yards after contact. He will look to build on this performance next week against the Patriots, who surrendered 115 rushing yards to running backs against the Seahawks in Week 2. Jacobs should remain a starter in fantasy lineups no matter who he matches up against.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers TE Rob Gronkowski received four targets in the first two games, which head coach Bruce Arians said wasn't a surprise. 'We're not throwing the ball 50 times to the tight ends,' Arians said. 'That's what we have receivers for, that's the way our offense is built. Gronk's playing great run blocking in the fourth quarter, so I'm not concerned with his pass catches or his targets.'
Fantasy Spin: Gronk certainly could break out any given week, but if you need to drop him to replace an injured starter, we could certainly see it.
The Denver Broncos signed free agent quarterback Blake Bortles to a one-year deal on Tuesday morning. The former Jaguars signal-caller will officially sign once he passes his COVID protocols and will serve as some much-needed depth in the absence of Drew Lock (shoulder). Bortles owns an 80.6 career passer rating in 73 starts along with 103 touchdowns to 75 interceptions. Backup Jeff Driskel looked good in relief of Lock on Sunday and should remain the starter for the near future, though if he falters, Bortles could step in as a serviceable backup.
Free-agent QB Blake Bortles (Rams) is signing a one-year deal with the Denver Broncos this week. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
Free-agent QB Blake Bortles (Rams) is visiting the Denver Broncos Tuesday, Sept. 22.
Las Vegas Raiders TE Jason Witten posted one grab for three yards on his only target in Week 2 against the New Orleans Saints.
Fantasy Spin: Witten won't sniff the field for many snaps as long as Darren Waller is healthy and running hot. He is more of an on-field coach and mentor at this point of his career. His fantasy value is rather negligible at the moment. The Raiders travel to meet the Patriots in Week 3.