Sun Sep 8 4:34pm ET
By DAVE CAMPBELL
AP Pro Football Writer
Minnesota Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter, right, and Eric Kendricks (54) celebrate with teammates during the first half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) scores on a 1-yard touchdown run during the first half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan walks to the sideline during the first half of an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Minnesota Vikings linebacker Eric Wilson (50) blocks a punt by Atlanta Falcons punter Matt Bosher, left, during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) carries the ball during the first half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins throws a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)
Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) celebrates with teammate Brian O'Neill after a 19-yard touchdown run during the first half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen celebrates after catching a 23-yard touchdown pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Anthony Harris highlighted a thorough thrashing by Minnesota's defense with two interceptions of Matt Ryan and a fumble recovery, Dalvin Cook carried a revived running attack, and the Vikings started the season with a 28-12 victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.
Eric Wilson recovered his own blocked punt at the Atlanta 21-yard line after a three-and-out by the Falcons on the first possession of the game, and the Vikings were well on their way to winning a fourth straight opener. Including the blocked punt, their first in five years, they turned all four Falcons turnovers into touchdowns.
Kirk Cousins connected with Adam Thielen for a 23-yard score to finish the short first drive and crossed the goal line on a 1-yard sneak in the second quarter to cap a 79-yard march to give Minnesota a 21-0 lead. Cousins went 8 for 10 for 98 yards, all career lows for games he started, but there was no need for more.
Cook had 21 rushes for 111 yards and two touchdowns behind the new zone blocking scheme influenced heavily by new offensive adviser Gary Kubiak, the former Houston and Denver head coach. Cousins averaged 38 attempts per game in his first season with the Vikings, and much to head coach Mike Zimmer's chagrin they finished with the third-fewest rushing yards in the NFL. The new system directed by offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski and the favorable field position sure shifted the ratio hard the other way.
Ryan played more like a rookie than a 2016 league MVP beginning his 12th NFL season, unable to find his footing all afternoon in the face of a fierce pass rush that racked up four sacks. The worst moment came at the end of Atlanta's first possession of the second half, a 13-play, 82-yard drive thwarted when his second-and-3 fling into the back of the end zone for backup tight end Luke Stocker was picked off by a leaping Harris.
Ryan finished 33 for 46 for 304 yards and two fourth-quarter scores to Calvin Ridley and Julio Jones to make the fantasy football players happy, but the Falcons left without much to be pleased about. Devonta Freeman had only 19 yards on eight carries, plus the lost fumble. Jones, who signed a $66 million, three-year contract extension on Saturday, was targeted 11 times but managed only 31 yards on six catches.
The Falcons, trying to get a once-potent offense back on track this year after missing the playoffs along with the Vikings in 2018, started rookies Kaleb McGary and Chris Lindstrom on the right side of their offensive line. James Carpenter won the left guard job over Jamon Brown, who signed an $18.75 million, three-year contract in free agency. McGary took turns at right tackle with Ty Sambrailo, with Matt Gono inactive because of a back injury. Lindstrom left the game with a foot injury.
Falcons: WR Russell Gage was removed from the game on the final drive of the first half with a concussion, after converting a first down and being leveled by Vikings FS Harrison Smith. A woozy Gage twice tried to get up and jog off, only to fall back to the turf.
Vikings: Nickel CB Mackensie Alexander injured his elbow in the second quarter and did not return. ... WR Stefon Diggs was in the lineup after being listed as questionable with a hamstring injury. He had two catches for 37 yards.
Falcons: Host Philadelphia on Sept. 15, one of two night games on their schedule at Mercedes-Benz Stadium this year.
Vikings: Play at rival Green Bay (1-0) on Sept. 15. Their visit to Lambeau Field in Week 2 last season resulted in a 29-all tie with the Packers.
Tennessee Titans QB Marcus Mariota will be replaced by backup Ryan Tannehill Sunday, Oct. 20, for the Week 7 matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers, sources told NFL Network's Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero.
Fantasy Spin: Mariota should be kept in dynasty leagues, as the former No. 2 overall pick will surely get a look elsewhere is the Titans choose to part ways, but his time in Tennessee appears to be done. He can be dropped in all redraft formats and all but the deepest of keeper leagues.
New York Jets DB Bennett Jackson was signed by the Baltimore Ravens on Tuesday, Oct. 15.
Philadelphia Eagles CB Jalen Mills (hamstring) returned to practice Tuesday, Oct. 15.
Tennessee Titans QB Ryan Tannehill was informed Tuesday, Oct. 15, he'll get the Week 7 start against the Los Angeles Chargers, sources told NFL Network's Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero.
Fantasy Spin: Tannehill becomes nothing more than a low-end QB2 even in an adequate matchup. He can be scooped up in deeper two-quarterback leagues, but he shouldn't be started this week unless there are no other available options.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Dare Ogunbowale led the backfield with 46 offensive snaps played in the Week 6 matchup against the Carolina Panthers. Peyton Barber played 19 snaps and Ronald Jones saw just 13.
Fantasy Spin: Ogunbowale was rarely used when on the field, rushing just once for a three-yard touchdown while catching three of five passes for 22 yards. The Bucs trailed by large amounts for much of the game so this one-game sample shouldn't be worth much. Jones remains the most appealing of the three.
Pittsburgh Steelers DE Stephon Tuitt (pectoral) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Tuesday, Oct. 15.
Los Angeles Rams CB Jalen Ramsey was acquired from the Jacksonville Jaguars Tuesday, Oct. 15, in exchange for a 2020 first-round draft pick, a 2021 first-round pick and a 2021 fourth-round pick, the Jaguars announced.
New Orleans Saints RB Alvin Kamara (ankle) is dealing with a high-ankle type issue that will limit him in practice through the week, a source told NFL Network's Tom Pelissero Tuesday, Oct. 15. Kamara believes he still has a shot to play against the Chicago Bears Sunday, Oct. 20.
Fantasy Spin: Latavius Murray becomes a hot commodity on waiver wires wherever he's available. He doesn't possess Kamara-level abilities in the passing game, but he'll see the necessary volume on the ground even in a difficult matchup. Dwayne Washington is the only other RB on the roster.
Baltimore Ravens CB Marcus Peters will make his debut with the team Sunday, Oct. 20, against the Seattle Seahawks, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter Tuesday, Oct. 15.
Denver Broncos QB Drew Lock (thumb), RB Theo Riddick (shoulder), TE Jake Butt (knee) and WR Tim Patrick (hand) are likely to return to practice next week, according to Mike Klis of 9News Tuesday, Oct. 15. Only two of the four will be able to be activated at that time.
Washington Redskins QB Alex Smith (leg) was spotted on the practice field Monday, Oct. 14, by Ben Standig of The Athletic. Smith is 11 months removed from the leg injury which ended his 2018 season and threatens his career. The veteran was throwing a variety of routes with two team officials and was later seen with a compression sleeve on his leg.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers DE Jason Pierre-Paul (neck) participated in practice Tuesday, Oct. 15, opening the 21-day window for him to be activated to the 53-man roster. Pierre-Paul has spent all season on the Non-Football Injury list following an offseason car accident.
Denver Broncos CB Bryce Callahan (foot) was listed as a non-participant in practice Tuesday, Oct. 15, while CB Duke Dawson (foot), OT Ja'Wuan James (knee) and DE Derek Wolfe (hip) were limited. DE Shelby Harris (ribs), OG Ronald Leary (shoulder), NT Mike Purcell (knee), WR Emmanuel Sanders (knee) and S Will Parks (wrist) were listed as full participants. All of Tuesday's listings were estimates, as Denver held a walk-through as opposed to a formal practice.
Kansas City Chiefs OT Eric Fisher (groin), CB Kendall Fuller (thumb), DT Chris Jones (groin) and OG Andrew Wylie (ankle) did not practice Tuesday, Oct. 15. WR Sammy Watkins (hamstring) was limited. OT Cameron Erving (groin), LB Anthony Hitchens (groin), DT Derrick Nnadi (elbow), LB Dorian O'Daniel (hamstring), OG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (ankle), WR Tyreek Hill (shoulder), QB Patrick Mahomes (ankle) and FB Anthony Sherman (shoulder) fully participated in practice.
New England Patriots QB Cody Kessler was released Tuesday, Oct. 15.
New Orleans Saints CB P.J. Williams was suspended for two games on Tuesday, Oct. 15, for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. He is eligible to return in Week 8 against the Arizona Cardinals.
Washington Redskins TE Jerome Cunningham (undisclosed) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Tuesday, Oct. 15. FB Michael Burton was signed to fill his spot on the roster.
Los Angeles Rams CB Marcus Peters was traded to the Baltimore Ravens in exchange for LB Kenny Young and an undisclosed 2020 draft pick on Tuesday, Oct. 15.
Free-agent RB Josh Ferguson worked out for the Washington Redskins on Tuesday, Oct. 15.
Washington Redskins RB Chris Thompson (toe) was diagnosed with a mild case of turf toe and his availability for Week 7 is 'in some doubt,' according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
Fantasy Spin: It couldn't be much worse timing for fantasy owners or the Redskins, as they are about ready to start a three-game stretch leading into the team's Week 10 in which Thompson figured to be quite busy. Wendell Smallwood is the most likely candidate to pick up the majority of snaps in the passing game if Thompson can't go, and he would be worth a flex play for however long Thompson needs to recover if that ends up being the case.