Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) waves to fans as he heads to the locker room following an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) throws a touchdown pass to wide receiver Henry Ruggs III during the second half of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Derek Carr has heard all the accolades after his scintillating start to the season for the Las Vegas Raiders and has a message for those handing out praise: Cool it.
The back-to-back wins over Baltimore and Pittsburgh and the prolific numbers are nice, but Carr knows that won't matter if the Raiders can't beat Miami on Sunday in a rematch against the team that officially ended their playoff hopes late last season.
''Everyone is feeling good about themselves going 2-0 and all that kind of stuff,'' Carr said. ''Well, they don't hand any trophies out after two weeks. They don't give you any kind of anything. We have a team coming in here that got after us. They beat us.''
The Dolphins (1-1) beat the Raiders 26-25 last December when Ryan Fitzpatrick led a game-winning drive in the final 19 seconds.
That assured the Raiders of a fourth straight season without a winning record or playoff berth that they are hoping to snap this year.
Carr and an improved defense led by new coordinator Gus Bradley have them off to a good start as he has thrown for 817 yards - the seventh most in the first two games of a season - and four TDs, while the defense has five sacks and three takeaways.
''They're explosive,'' Dolphins coach Brian Flores said. ''They're really moving the ball. Derek Carr does a great job. I should always mention him first. He's done a great job of taking total control of that offense, putting them in good positions to have success. He finds the matchups. He knows what defenses he's looking at. And then defensively, I think Gus Bradley is doing a real nice job of getting those guys coached up.''
The Dolphins are coming off a 35-0 loss at home to Buffalo and will be playing a backup quarterback with Jacoby Brissett taking over for Tua Tagovailoa, who hurt his ribs in that game.
Brissett considers himself a starting quarterback, and for this week, he is. He'll start for the first time since the final week of the 2019 season. Among the 31 active quarterbacks with at least 1,000 career throws, Brissett's completion rate of 59.6 percent and his quarterback rating of 82.3 both rank 27th. He's 12-20 as a starter - going 3-3 in his first six, then 9-17 since.
While the Raiders have been passing effectively, the run game has stalled. Las Vegas had 52 yards on 25 carries last week with Josh Jacobs out and the offensive line dealing with injuries. Jacobs' status is unknown this week, but the bigger issues are with the blocking. Raiders running backs are averaging only 2.39 yards per carry for the season.
''It's hard to run the ball against certain defenses,'' coach Jon Gruden said. ''With that being said, you have to find other ways to move the ball and right now we've improved a little bit in the passing game. We're not there yet either. But against Miami it's going to be a very, very difficult day throwing and running, and the tape proves that.''
Miami won at New England to open this season. The Dolphins haven't started a season with consecutive road wins since 2013, part of a 3-0 start to that season. It didn't ultimately mean much; Miami lost eight of its final 13 games that year and finished 8-8.
The Raiders have gotten a big boost defensively from free agent cornerback Casey Hayward. Las Vegas signed the 32-year-old Hayward after he had a down year with the Chargers in 2020. But he has experience playing for Bradley and has thrived so far in the system. He's been targeted five times so far this season and hasn't allowed a single catch, according to Pro Football Focus.
The Dolphins were 4-1 last season (with wins in their last four) in games immediately following a loss, not counting the season-ending loss to Buffalo. It was a huge improvement over 2019, when Miami was 3-8 in the games that came after a defeat.
Dallas Cowboys starting safety Damontae Kazee was arrested early Tuesday morning on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, according to the police. Kazee was booked on a Class B misdemeanor and was released after posting $2,500 bond. The 28-year-old has started all six games this year and has 17 tackles (13 solo), an interception and a forced fumble for Dallas' improved defense. The Cowboys are on their bye in Week 7, but Kazee could be facing a suspension from the league and may not be available in Week 8 against the Minnesota Vikings.
The Chicago Bears placed defensive back Deon Bush (quadriceps) on Injured Reserve and linebacker Robert Quinn on the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday. Bush was injured in the Week 6 loss to the division-rival Green Bay Packers and will now be forced to miss at least the next three games. The sixth-year pro has 15 tackles and two passes defensed through the first six games of the year. Safety Teez Tabor was promoted to the active roster from the practice squad as a result. Quinn has 5.5 sacks, 19 tackles and five tackles for loss so far in 2021, so Chicago's defensive line could be at less than full strength in Week 7 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers if he isn't cleared from the league's protocols this week.
The Carolina Panthers placed wide receiver Brandon Zylstra (hamstring) on Injured Reserve on Tuesday. Zylstra has not been a very big part of Carolina's offense through six weeks, catching all eight of his targets for 139 yards and a touchdown. He will miss at least the next three games after landing on Injured Reserve. The injury to Zylstra should open up more opportunities for both rookie wide receivers Terrace Marshall Jr. and Shi Smith. Smith, a sixth-rounder out of South Carolina, caught his first two NFL targets in the Week 6 loss to the Minnesota Vikings for 20 yards.
The New England Patriots placed linebacker Chase Winovich (hamstring) on Injured Reserve on Tuesday. Winovich injured his hamstring in the Week 6 loss to the Dallas Cowboys and will now miss at least the next three weeks. He hasn't been a big part of New England's defense, playing just 19% of the snaps, but he's contributed more frequently on special teams. The 26-year-old has recorded seven tackles (four solo) and a QB hit in six games on the season. Defensive back Myles Bryant was signed to the active roster off the practice squad to take Winovich's spot on the roster.
Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel said that "all signs" are pointing toward offensive tackle Taylor Lewan (head) entering the league's concussion protocol this week. Lewan was strapped to a stretcher and carted off the field in Monday night's win over the Buffalo Bills, so all things considered, this has to be good news. The 30-year-old won't be guaranteed to return in Week 7 against the Kansas City Chiefs, but it looks like he has avoided a serious neck injury. Kendall Lamm replaced Lewan at left tackle for the rest of the Monday night game and would likely get the start on quarterback Ryan Tannehill's blind side if Lewan isn't cleared for this weekend.
Denver Broncos pass-rusher Bradley Chubb's (ankle) return isn't quite around the corner, according to head coach Vic Fangio. Chubb had a walking boot on his surgically repaired ankle on Tuesday and has been on Injured Reserve since he underwent arthroscopic surgery on his ankle on Sept. 22. Denver's defense got off to a hot start against some of the worst teams in the NFL, but they've come crashing back down to Earth and allowed a season-high 34 points to the division-rival Las Vegas Raiders in the Week 6 loss. They could certainly use Chubb's pass-rushing help, but it doesn't look like it's coming anytime soon. Despite Denver's struggles on defense of late, they'll be on the streaming radar in Week 7 on Thursday night against a banged-up Cleveland Browns team.
Denver Broncos running back Melvin Gordon III (hip) was upgraded from a limited practice on Monday's estimated report to a full practice on Tuesday. Gordon has been dealing with some nagging injuries in recent weeks, but it hasn't kept him from playing on game days, and he continues to split the backfield work right down the middle with rookie Javonte Williams. The 28-year-old should be good to go for Thursday night's clash with the Cleveland Browns. Williams has been more efficient and has shown more big-play ability through six games, but Gordon is averaging 4.7 yards per carry and has scored two touchdowns on 332 rushing yards on 70 carries. He'll be on the RB2/3 borderline again this week.
The New Orleans Saints designated wide receiver Tre'Quan Smith (hamstring), linebacker Kwon Alexander (elbow) and defensive end Marcus Davenport (shoulder) for return from Injured Reserve this week. The Saints will now have 21 days to activate the trio from Injured Reserve. Michael Thomas (ankle) is also getting closer to a return, but Smith appears to be ahead in his recovery. Smith has only played in one game in Week 4 before getting injured, and he wasn't targeted at all in the passing game. Marquez Callaway currently leads all Saints receivers with 13 receptions on 21 targets for 222 yards and three touchdowns on the season, with Deonte Harris actually leading the team with 236 receiving yards. Smith could have a bigger role before Thomas returns, but it's hard to get excited about him in this low-volume Saints passing attack.
The Denver Broncos cut wide receiver David Moore on Tuesday, according to a source. The move isn't unexpected after the team added John Brown last week. Moore was active for two games but didn't record a reception on his two targets. The Broncos are also looking forward to the return of Jerry Jeudy, who remains on Injured Reserve after suffering a high ankle sprain in the season opener. Jeudy has resumed workouts but has a less than 50% chance to return on Thursday night against the Cleveland Browns. There's a much better chance that Jeudy will make his return in Week 8 against the Washington Football Team. The second-year wideout figures to return to a considerable role in Denver's offense and should be rostered in all leagues.
New York Giants wide receiver C.J. Board (arm) was placed on Injured Reserve on Tuesday after suffering a broken arm in the Week 6 loss to the Los Angeles Rams. Board will miss at least the next three games while on IR, but he'll probably be out longer. The 27-year-old has just four catches on six targets for 51 yards through the first six games of the season, and he hasn't played more than 31% of the offensive snaps in any one game so far this season. With Kenny Golladay (knee) and rookie Kadarius Toney (ankle) unlikely to play in Week 7 against the Carolina Panthers, the Giants could be down to Sterling Shepard, Dante Pettis, Collin Johnson and John Ross as their primary receivers.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (shoulder) missed another practice on Tuesday. His DNP designation on Monday came on the estimated practice report, but he actually missed practice on Tuesday. Beckham is looking truly questionable after missing some game time in the Week 6 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. It could be a death blow to Cleveland's offense, as they'll also be without both starting running backs Nick Chubb (calf) and Kareem Hunt (calf). If OBJ cannot play on Thursday night against the Denver Broncos, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Rashard Higgins and rookie Anthony Schwartz would operate in three-receiver sets if Jarvis Landry isn't ready to come off Injured Reserve. Peoples-Jones would be the most attractive after going for nine catches (11 targets), 171 yards and two touchdowns in the last two weeks.
New York Giants OT Korey Cunningham and WR Dante Pettis were signed off the practice squad Tuesday, Oct. 19.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers CB Rashard Robinson was signed off the practice squad Tuesday, Oct. 19.
The New York Giants placed left tackle Andrew Thomas (ankle, foot) on Injured Reserve on Tuesday, so he'll be forced to miss at least the next three games. Thomas is dealing with a right foot injury and also a left ankle issue, so he was pretty hobbled in the Week 6 loss to the Los Angeles Rams. The Giants offensive line will be more vulnerable in the near future, beginning in a Week 7 matchup with the Carolina Panthers. It's bad news for quarterback Daniel Jones, especially if he's without starting running back Saquon Barkley (ankle) for a second straight game this weekend. Expect Matt Peart to fill in on Jones' blind side in the immediate future.
Denver Broncos WR David Moore was released Tuesday, Oct. 19.
New York Giants rookie wide receiver Kadarius Toney (ankle) is expected to be out for at least one game, according to a source. However, as of right now, it doesn't sound like the Giants plan on placing Toney on Injured Reserve, which would require him to miss at least three games. The 22-year-old first-rounder exploded for 10 catches and 189 yards in Week 5 when Kenny Golladay injured his knee, and he was in line for another big role in the Week 6 loss to the Los Angeles Rams before he aggravated his ankle on Sunday. Toney should remain involved in the passing game whenever he returns from his ankle injury, so he's worth stashing in deeper leagues. With Golladay not a lock to return in Week 8 against the Carolina Panthers, Sterling Shepard could be in line for a massive target share.
Chicago Bears S Deon Bush (quad) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Tuesday, Oct. 19. DB Teez Tabor was signed off the practice squad to replace him on the roster.
Free-agent RB Chris Thompson was signed to the practice squad of the Chicago Bears on Tuesday, Oct. 19.