Thu Oct 17 7:01pm ET
By TIM BOOTH
AP Sports Writer
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson works out prior to an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
In this Sept. 8, 2019, file photo, Baltimore Ravens free safety Earl Thomas (29) intercepts a pass, as Miami Dolphins wide receiver DeVante Parker (11), attempts to tackle, during the first half at an NFL football game, in Miami Gardens, Fla. Over the course of nine NFL seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, Earl Thomas picked off 28 passes, earned a Super Bowl ring and was selected to the Pro Bowl six times. Those are some of the memories the standout safety will take across the country before he faces former team on Sunday as a member of the Baltimore Ravens.(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson looks to pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Richard)
Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley, left, and quarterback Lamar Jackson celebrate Jackson's touchdown run against the Cincinnati Bengals during the first half of a NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)
SEATTLE (AP) There is an understandable mutual admiration between Baltimore's Lamar Jackson and Seattle's Russell Wilson.
In Jackson, Wilson sees a combination of speed and shiftiness working in concert with an underrated passing ability that has the young QB causing headaches for anyone tasked with slowing him down.
In Wilson, Jackson sees a veteran who has reached the pinnacle of the NFL, who has figured out a way to balance his athleticism and running ability with a dynamic right arm that makes him one of the premier passers in the league.
''I love everything about his game,'' Jackson said. ''He's a great quarterback. He makes guys miss. He breaks the pocket, and there will be guys chasing him everywhere. He knows what to do with the ball - dish it out, go to a checkdown. He makes plays. He's a playmaker, and that's what you need in a guy and at the quarterback position. That's what he is.''
Jackson and Wilson will meet on the field or the first time on Sunday when the Seahawks host the Ravens in a showdown between two of the better teams in each conference and two of the early MVP candidates.
Jackson has wowed with his combination of running and passing. He's on pace to rush for 1,200 yards and throw for 4,000. Last week, he became the first player in league history to throw for more than 200 yards and rush for more than 150 in the same regular season game.
Jackson is completing 65% of his passes, has 13 touchdowns passing and rushing and causing nightmares for opposing defenses.
''People always mention his speed. That's obvious. But I think the mixture of all the different things he can do - he can throw it down the field, he's tough, he hangs in there, he's a smart player too,'' Wilson said. ''You put all those things together with his elusiveness, which is as good as it gets, probably best you've ever seen kind of speed, he's really special.''
Where Wilson has impressed is his overall command of Seattle's offense. He's just the fourth QB in league history to start the season with six straight games with a passer rating of 100 or higher. He hasn't thrown an interception since Week 17 of last season. Wilson is playing with a confidence and savvy that's flashed at times throughout his career, but perhaps never for such a prolonged period.
''I know he's deep in the conversation for the MVP already,'' Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said. ''We hope, and we're going to do everything we can, to make sure that we don't make that argument any stronger, or help make that argument any stronger.''
Here's what else to watch as the Seahawks and Ravens meet for the first time since 2015:
MY NAME IS EARL
Aside from the quarterbacks, the biggest story line is the return of safety Earl Thomas, who spent his first nine seasons with Seattle before signing with Baltimore in free agency. Thomas was a star with the Seahawks, a founding member of the ''Legion of Boom'' secondary and a three-time first-team All-Pro selection. The final image of Thomas with Seattle was being carted off the field last season after breaking his leg in Arizona and flashing the middle finger at Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, angry about not getting a contract extension with the Seahawks.
''I don't know what this game is going to bring, but I definitely respect and love the organization. They gave me my first shot,'' Thomas said.
BACKFIELD IN MOTION
The Ravens have been forced to shuffle their defensive backfield this season to cope with injuries to Tavon Young, Tony Jefferson, DeShon Elliott and Jimmy Smith. First-year general manager Eric DeCosta refurbished the secondary this week by trading for two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Peters and signing safety Bennett Jackson from the Jets practice squad.
Both newcomers are expected to play Sunday, so it's imperative that they work in unison with cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey and Brandon Carr, as well as Thomas.
''Communication is going to be really critical, especially there,'' Harbaugh said. ''It won't be quite as loud, because their offense will be on the field, maybe as it would be here. But it's a loud place, and you're on the road. It's terminology.''
Seattle should get a boost on its defensive line with the return of Jarran Reed after he was suspended for the first six games. Reed had 10+ sacks last season, but more important will be his ability to draw attention and potentially open up more on the outside for Jadeveon Clowney and Ziggy Ansah. Seattle has just 10 sacks through six games and didn't have a quarterback hit recorded last week against Cleveland.
The task this week isn't so much getting pressure on Jackson as it is keeping the elusive QB contained.
''That's why we come out here to practice, to get a feel of each other,'' Reed said. ''We talked a long time. We're going to get out here. We're going to work together. We're going to build that chemistry together.''
The Ravens cranked up the music at practice this week to simulate the crowd noise at CenturyLink Field. Jackson played in packed stadiums while at Louisville, and he's twice started in Kansas City against the Chiefs. But playing in Seattle is taking it to another (sound) level.
''The coaches have been telling us it's very loud,'' Jackson said. ''I just have to do a good job of executing, calling out the plays and letting everyone hear me.''
Atlanta Falcons RB Brian Hill played 51 percent of the offensive snaps Sunday, Nov. 10, in the win over the New Orleans Saints. The bulk of Hill's work came with RB Devonta Freeman (foot) out of the game.
Fantasy Spin: With Freeman expected to miss multiple games and backup Ito Smith (neck) already out for the year, Hill will have a big role in a nice matchup against the soft Carolina Panthers run defense. He should be a top waiver priority this week.
Kansas City Chiefs RB Damien Williams played 72 percent of the offensive snaps in the Week 10 loss against the Tennessee Titans Sunday, Nov. 10. RB Darrel Williams played just 21 percent with RB Darwin Thompson getting a total of five offensive snaps. RB LeSean McCoy was a healthy scratch.
Fantasy Spin: Williams' 109 yards from scrimmage were the second-most he's racked up in a game and came on the heels of a season-high 125 rushing yards last week. He didn't find the end zone for the first time in three weeks, but it was a heavy workload and he lived up to the task. Fantasy managers who took a chance on him this year seem like they'll be rewarded down the stretch run.
Miami Dolphins RB Kalen Ballage played 82 percent of the offensive snaps Sunday, Nov. 10, against the Indianapolis Colts. RB Patrick Laird played just eight offensive snaps with RB Myles Gaskin playing five total snaps (all on offense).
Fantasy Spin: Ballage ran the ball 20 times but for a very disappointing 43 yards. He caught all four of his targets but for just two yards. It was the Dolphins' second straight win but it remains highly doubtful there'll be many more of these. If he wasn't successful in Week 10, it's unlikely he will be.
Cleveland Browns RB Kareem Hunt played 54 percent of the offensive snaps against the Buffalo Bills Sunday, Nov. 10, but starter Nick Chubb played a three-week high of 81 percent in the 19-16 victory. RB Dontrell Hilliard played just eight offensive snaps for his lowest total since Week 5.
Fantasy Spin: Chubb ran 20 times for 116 yards while catching two of four targets for just five yards. Hunt totaled 74 yards from scrimmage on 11 touches with seven receptions and four carries. It's quite possible both could be effective fantasy options in the same games, but Chubb remains the definitive No. 1 option.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson has put together a solid rookie campaign with 30 receptions, over 360 yards, and three touchdowns. In Thursday night's game against the Cleveland Browns, Johnson will work to stay in the sights of quarterback Mason Rudolph. However, Rudolph has been favoring shorter routes recently, which puts Johnson at a bit of a disadvantage. Although Johnson's big-play ability gives him value as a touchdown-dependent WR4 in Week 11.
Cleveland Browns WR Jarvis Landry drew criticism from head coach Freddie Kitchens Tuesday, Nov. 12, for the 15-yard taunting penalty he took Sunday, Nov. 10 against the Buffalo Bills. 'I don't like penalties,' said Kitchens. 'I don't like penalties. I want him playing with passion, though, not emotion, but passion.'
Fantasy Spin: Landry had one of his best games of the season by catching nine of 10 targets for 97 yards and finding the end zone for the second straight week, but the penalty set up the missed 48-yard extra point by PK Austin Seibert.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster has just 12 receptions for 170 yards and one touchdown in his last four games. With a Thursday Night football matchup against the Cleveland Browns in Week 11, Smith-Schuster shouldn't be considered the reliable option many drafted him as. Quarterback Mason Rudolph has been favoring shorter to intermediate routes, which should favor the USC product, but the numbers haven't followed. Look at Smith-Schuster as a touchdown-dependent WR2 against Cleveland.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver James Washington is coming off the best consecutive performances of his young career. He's hauled in 10 of 11 targets for 159 yards and a touchdown in the last two games, and he seems to be redeveloping a connection with his college quarterback Mason Rudolph. He'll face off against the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night and has a chance to build himself more opportunities in the offense. View Washington as nothing but a WR4 in deeper leagues, as he still has some room to prove his fantasy worth.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner (shoulder) was a full participant in Tuesday's practice, all but confirming he's good to go for Thursday night's road game against the Cleveland Browns. After missing the last two contests, Conner has been missed on offense, as the Steelers have combined for just 132 rushing yards in that span. Against the Browns, Conner should help open up the offensive gameplan by reassuming the lead-back role. Look at the 24-year-old as an RB2 against a defense that allows 19 fantasy points per game to running backs.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jaylen Samuels steps away from the lead-back role with the expected return of James Conner (shoulder) in Week 11 against the Cleveland Browns. Over the last two games, Samuels turned 38 touches into just 123 yards and no touchdowns, so it's clear he's not suited for four-down work in this offense. Against the Browns on Thursday, the NC State product isn't very fantasy appealing as Cleveland has allowed just 40 receptions to running backs this season, the ninth-fewest in the NFL. Since Conner is likely returning, Samuels is best left on fantasy benches in Week 11.
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph gets a favorable matchup for Thursday Night Football when the Steelers travel to take on the Cleveland Browns. Rudolph has been gaining more confidence with each start, and his 242 yards passing last week were the second highest of his short career. Against the Browns, the second-year signal caller faces a defense that allows an average of 23 fantasy points per game. Rudolph can be considered a low-end QB2, especially in the early game of the week. You could do worse, but you could certainly do better for a streaming option.
Free-agent QB Colin Kaepernick (49ers) shared a message on Twitter Tuesday, Nov. 12, addressing the previous reports of the league-arranged free-agent workout Saturday, Nov. 16. 'I'm just getting word from my representatives that the NFL league office reached out to them about a workout in Atlanta on Saturday. I've been in shape and ready for this for 3 years, can't wait to see the head coaches and GMs on Saturday,' Kaepernick wrote.
San Francisco 49ers running back Matt Breida (ankle) will seek a second opinion on his reaggravated sprained ankle. Breida only accrued 25 yards on 12 touches in Week 10 before exiting in the second half. Breida is no stranger to playing injured but NFL Networks Tom Pelissero believes he could miss some time to let it heal. Breidas absence would benefit third-string back Raheem Mostert who flashed promise earlier this season when Tevin Coleman was hurt. Mostert would be a risky but upside flex play in Week 11 against the Arizona Cardinals if Breida is inactive.
San Francisco 49ers WR Dante Pettis is running out of time to prove his worth in head coach Kyle Shanahan's offense. 'The more he doesn't take advantage of his opportunities, the less opportunities he gets,' Shanahan said Tuesday, Nov. 12.
Fantasy Spin: Pettis, a second-year pro, has caught just 11 of 24 targets this season for 109 yards and two touchdowns. He shouldn't be on rosters in anything shallower than 14- or 16-team leagues.
Seattle Seahawks TE Luke Willson (hamstring) has a 'legit' hamstring injury, according to head coach Pete Carroll Tuesday, Nov. 12.
Seattle Seahawks TE Ed Dickson (knee) was close to being activated off of injured reserve this past week and will return for Week 12 following the team's bye, according to head coach Pete Carroll Tuesday, Nov. 12.
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (knee, ankle) and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (ribs) are considered day-to-day and shaping up as game-time decisions in Week 11 against the Arizona Cardinals. Kittle and Sanders figure to practice minimally this week, if any. Kittle missed Week 10 and his injury appears serious but head coach Kyle Shanahan refrained from ruling out the warrior. Sanders suffered a rib cartilage injury on Monday night and the severity is unknown. Without their top aerial playmakers, the biggest gainer could be wideout Deebo Samuel. The rookie amassed 112 yards on eight catches in Week 10 and was clearly the most electric player amongst Kendrick Bourne, Marquise Goodwin and Dante Pettis. Samuel will be a hot waiver commodity and slots as a WR3 if both Kittle and Sanders cant go.
Updating a previous story, San Francisco 49ers DL Ronald Blair (knee) will undergo season-ending surgery for his torn ACL, according to head coach Kyle Shanahan Tuesday, Nov. 12.
Denver Broncos QB Drew Lock (thumb) returned to practice Tuesday, Nov. 12. A decision will need to be made by Dec. 3 to activate him from injured reserve. CB Bryce Callahan (foot) also returned to practice Tuesday. He has remained on the 53-man roster.
San Francisco 49ers TE George Kittle (knee) is day-to-day, although head coach Kyle Shanahan is 'hopeful' Kittle will be able to play in Week 11 against the Arizona Cardinals.
Fantasy Spin: Expect the third-year tight end to be held out of practice early in the week, although it sounds like Kittle's fantasy owners need to be prepared for the possibility of another missed game. If he can make it through a limited practice by Friday, he'll have a chance to suit up and be worth a start in fantasy. If he can't go, Ross Dwelley and Garrett Celek figure to see the bulk of work on passing downs in his absence.