Sat Aug 17 11:45pm ET
By WILL GRAVES
AP Sports Writer
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman (17) makes a touchdown catch in front of Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Cameron Sutton (20) in the first half of a preseason NFL football game Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Barry Reeger)
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jaylen Samuels (38) runs the ball as Kansas City Chiefs defensive back D'Montre Wade (40) tries to tackle him in the first half of a preseason NFL football game, Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph (2) is hit as he plays against the Kansas City Chiefs in the first half of a preseason NFL football game, Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Barry Reeger)
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes passes in the first half of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Barry Reeger)
Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner (30) runs away from Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Alex Okafor (97) in the first half of a preseason NFL football game, Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
Pittsburgh Steelers kicker Matthew Wright wears a "DD" sticker on the back of his helmet before a preseason NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019, in Pittsburgh. The team will wear the stickers to honor receivers coach Darryl Drake who died last week. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
PITTSBURGH (AP) Mason Rudolph guided a long first-half touchdown drive to perhaps nudge ahead of Josh Dobbs in the race to be the backup behind Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Kansas City Chiefs 17-7 on Saturday night.
Rudolph finished 10 of 15 for 77 yards while Dobbs completed 6 of 11 for 95 yards with a red-zone interception on a night the Steelers (2-0) opted to keep several key starters on the sideline, from quarterback Roethlisberger to Pro Bowl offensive linemen David DeCastro and Maurkice Pouncey to rookie linebacker Devin Bush.
Kansas City coach Andy Reid suggested Patrick Mahomes would play most of the first half.
The reigning NFL MVP - who directed a touchdown in his lone drive in Kansas City's preseason opener last week - did little during two series of work following a thunderstorm that forced the opening kickoff to be pushed back nearly an hour.
Mahomes completed just 2 of 5 passes for 11 yards, a far cry from his previous visit to Heinz Field, when he threw for six touchdowns in a Week 2 win last September that served as a harbinger of the season to come.
Mahomes' best play during his cameo may have been his decision to slide during an 8-yard scramble, something he didn't do a week ago when he lowered his shoulder against Cincinnati rather than step out of bounds.
Chad Henne found Mecole Hardman for a 17-yard touchdown late in the first half for Kansas City (1-1), which managed a lone touchdown a week after putting up 38 against the Bengals. Hardman, a second-round pick, has two touchdowns in two weeks and his rapid emergence could give Reid another option to play with in what could be the NFL's most potent offense.
Pittsburgh chose to give the 37-year-old Roethlisberger the night off. Rudolph, a third-round pick a year ago who is hoping to supplant Dobbs as the top backup, was given the start instead. Playing with a group that included Pro Bowl running back James Conner and star wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, Rudolph struggled early to gain some momentum.
It wasn't until Rudolph found himself playing with the reserves that he started to get going. He directed a 14-play, 89-yard drive in the second quarter, a series that ended with a 14-yard sprint to the end zone by Jaylen Samuels.
Dobbs started off brilliantly, hitting Washington for a 40-yard gain. He couldn't sustain the momentum, thanks in part to an interception in the end in which he overthrew Diontae Johnson. The ball sailed into the arms of Kansas City's Charvarius Ward to cut short a scoring chance late in the first half.
Johnson, a third-round pick, ended up scoring in the fourth quarter when he made a diving grab in the end zone on a heave from fourth-stringer Devlin Hodges.
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Steelers outside linebacker Bud Dupree is entering the season with a significant amount of pressure after Pittsburgh opted to pick up his fifth-year option but have not approached him about signing a long-term deal. Dupree provided a spark, sacking Mahomes and Henne and knocking down a pass.
A difficult week that began with the sudden passing of wide receivers coach Darryl Drake at age 62 ended with the Steelers making sure Drake's legacy won't be forgotten.
Coach Mike Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert and their wives attended Drake's funeral in Gallatin, Tennessee. The wide receivers took the field for warmups with shirts emblazoned with the phrase ''Shut out the noise,'' the credo Drake adopted for his group for the 2019 season.
Dozens of Steelers knelt for a prayer shortly before kickoff and the team will wear ''DD'' stickers on their helmets this season and a moment of silence was held just before the national anthem.
The Chiefs didn't escape Heinz Field unscathed. Safety Tyrann Matthieu left with a shoulder injury. Wide receiver Deon Yelder went down with a knee injury and Marcus Kemp exited with a knee injury. Linebacker Breeland Speaks suffered a knee injury in the second half and did not return. Quarterback Chase Litton was taken out in the final seconds after taking a hard hit shortly after releasing a pass.
Chiefs: Host San Francisco next Saturday.
Steelers: Expect to give Roethlisberger his only reps of the preseason next Sunday when they visit Tennessee.
Sunday Morning Update: Week 3
Los Angeles Rams rookie running back Cam Akers (ribs) is out for Sunday's contest against the Buffalo Bills. Without Akers, expect Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson Jr. to split carries, with the advantage likely going to Henderson. Brown is a touchdown-dependent fantasy play, while Henderson has the potential to be a solid RB3. Both guys have their upside limited due to a tough matchup with the Buffalo Bills Defense.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Tajae Sharpe is a healthy scratch on Sunday against his former team, the Tennessee Titans. Considering Sharpe had taken just 16 offensive snaps this season, this doesn't move the needle at all. Wide receiver Chad Beebe will play for the first time this year, but like Sharpe would have been, Beebe isn't a fantasy option this week. The Vikings offense doesn't have the upside to support their fringe receivers as fantasy plays.
No surprise here, as all reports indicated both would play, but it's now official: Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs (hip) and tight end Darren Waller (knee) are both playing against the Patriots. Both players are must-play options in season-long leagues, with Waller being a TE1 option and Jacobs being a strong RB2 play. Don't be concerned about how the injury issues will impact their performance today. The bigger issue is the Patriots Defense and a game script that might be bad for Jacobs.
Las Vegas Raiders TE Darren Waller (knee) will play in Week 3's game against the New England Patriots.
Fantasy Spin: Waller has 18 receptions for 150 yards and a touchdown through his first two games this season and has developed into QB Derek Carr's favorite target. His steady role in the Las Vegas offense makes him a viable starting option in all fantasy formats.
Cincinnati Bengals WR Tee Higgins will be one of the starting receivers in Week 3 because WR John Ross is inactive for the game. WR Auden Tate is also active this week after being inactive last week.
Fantasy Spin: Higgins is off to a slow start this season with only 35 receiving yards but should be more involved in the passing game this week. He has a chance to have success against the Philadelphia Eagles and could be a flex option in deeper leagues. Tate may see a handful of targets but can be avoided in most leagues. Fantasy players should keep an eye on Ross' status to see when he will return to the lineup.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver John Ross III is a healthy scratch in Week 3 against the Eagles. After being targeted five times in Week 1 and playing 84 percent of the team's snaps, he saw that snap share fall to 30 percent last week. Now, the Bengals won't have Ross on the field this week. It sounds like this team is already wanting to see how rookie Tee Higgins and other players look. This isn't the first time that the Bengals have made a wide receiver a surprise inactive this year, and Ross could very well suit up next week, but his fantasy outlook moving forward becomes very cloudy. You can probably drop him in most season-long redraft leagues.
New York Giants running back Devonta Freeman was just signed this week, but he'll officially be active for Sunday's meeting with a banged-up 49ers Defense. Freeman's a risky fantasy option for this week as he works his way into being part of a new team, but at some point this season, Freeman's going to be the lead back in the Meadowlands. For this week, he's a deep-league flex option with a fairly low floor.
The San Francisco 49ers have declared CB Ahkello Witherspoon, DL Dee Ford, QB Jimmy Garoppolo, LB Dre Greenlaw, TE George Kittle, OG Tom Compton and RB Raheem Mostert inactive for Week 3.
The Chicago Bears have declared OT Arlington Hambright, DL Daniel McCullers, LB Trevis Gipson, CB Duke Shelley and WR Riley Ridley inactive for Week 3.
The New York Giants have declared S Adrian Colbert, DT R.J. McIntosh, TE Eric Tomlinson, CB Brandon Z. Williams, OT Jackson Barton and LB T.J. Brunson inactive for Week 3.
Houston Texans running back Duke Johnson Jr. (ankle) is inactive for the team's Week 3 contest against the Steelers, which means that David Johnson should function as the workhorse back for the team this week. It's a bad matchup for Johnson, but his projected volume gives him a good shot at being an RB2 on the day. Elsewhere on the team, wide receiver Kenny Stills (illness) is playing but is the No. 4 receiver on the team and isn't a fantasy option. Defensive tackle Ross Blacklock -- who was ejected from last week's game -- is also inactive and could be in head coach Bill O'Brien's doghouse.
New England Patriots wide receiver N'Keal Harry (ankle) is officially active for the team's Week 3 meeting with the Las Vegas Raiders. Harry had a bit of a lost season as a rookie, but has become one of the primary targets for quarterback Cam Newton in 2020. His high target share and the lack of viable receiving options in New England makes Harry a solid WR3 with upside, even if there are valid concerns about just how healthy he'll be out there with an injured ankle.
The Minnesota Vikings have declared OL Olisaemeka Udoh, WR K.J. Osborn, CB Cameron Dantzler, WR Tajae Sharpe, CB Mike Hughes, DE Eddie Yarbrough and DE James Lynch inactive for Week 3.
The Washington Football Team have declared OT David Sharpe, QB Alex Smith, OT Saahdiq Charles, RB Bryce Love, LB Cole Holcomb, CB Danny Johnson and DE James Smith-Williams inactive for Week 3.
The Cincinnati Bengals have declared LB Markus Bailey, WR John Ross, RB Trayveon Williams, DE Andrew Brown, PK Austin Seibert and DL Geno Atkins inactive for Week 3.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (hamstring) is officially inactive for the team's Week 3 meeting with the Chicago Bears. In his stead, expect big performances from both Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage. Ridley becomes a WR1 option, and Gage is now a solid WR3. Tight end Hayden Hurst gets a boost as well. As for Jones, this shouldn't be a huge surprise as he seemed to be trending down all week. Now, the question becomes if Jones will miss more than just this one game.
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Tyrod Taylor (lungs) is already ruled out for Week 3, but it seems his absence due to a punctured lung that happened pre-game in Week 2 will stretch until at least the team's Week 4 meeting with Tampa Bay. Justin Herbert will start this week and should be the starter again in Week 4 if healthy. As for Taylor, the team has said the quarterback job is his when healthy, but things could if Herbert plays well over the next couple of games.
The Atlanta Falcons have declared DT Deadrin Senat, DE Takkarist McKinley, LB Foyesade Oluokun, WR Julio Jones, OT Kaleb McGary, S Ricardo Allen and DB Kendall Sheffield inactive for Week 3.
Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence (knee) is expected to suit up for Sunday's Week 3 contest with the Seattle Seahawks. Lawrence hasn't done a lot in 2020, and while he's a disruptive pass rusher when he's at his best, his impact is likely to be pretty minimal this week based on how his season's began. The Cowboys Defense remains unplayable in all formats -- unless you really want to make a big punt play in a GPP -- because they're facing the extremely dangerous Seattle Seahawks offense.
New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton is unlikely to get a contract extension until after the 2020 season concludes, according to NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport. Newton was signed by New England late in the offseason to a one-year, $1.05 million contract in what was looked at as a cheap signing at the time. It's only two games, but Newton is on pace to set career highs in completion percentage and yards per attempt, as he's looked excellent in tandem with Patriots' offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. New England is hesitant to extend Newton given his injury history, and it makes more sense for Newton to wait until after the season, when he could potentially become a free agent and cash in. In the meantime, it looks like fantasy managers who waited to select Newton in drafts are the real breadwinners.