Raiders

Cursed Cleveland? No. 1 pick's debut on hold with injury

myles-us.jpg
USATSI

Cursed Cleveland? No. 1 pick's debut on hold with injury

CLEVELAND -- Myles Garrett's NFL debut for the Browns won't happen for weeks.

Is that Cleveland's luck or what?

The top overall pick in this year's draft will miss Sunday's opener against Pittsburgh and possibly a few more games after severely spraining his right ankle during practice.

A teammate fell on the back of Garrett's leg during a drill Wednesday, and the impressive rookie defensive end stayed on the field as long as he could before succumbing to pain.

An MRI revealed the 6-foot-4, 275-pound Garrett has a high ankle sprain, a tricky injury that typically takes several weeks to heal. His status will be updated in a "couple" of weeks," the team said. That means he will sit out against the Steelers and likely the following week at Baltimore, and perhaps other games.

Garrett is not expected to need surgery.

Garrett's loss is another blow for the beleaguered Browns, who went 1-15 last season and have had their share of costly injuries in recent years.

Quarterbacks Robert Griffin III and Josh McCown were hurt early last season. Wide receiver Corey Coleman, a first-round pick, missed six games after breaking his hand in practice, and Cleveland lost both starting guards with torn foot ligaments.

"Obviously, it hurts when you lose a premier pass rusher like Myles," said Browns Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas. "It hurts losing a guy that is that much of a game changer."

Browns coach Hue Jackson said the injury to one of his top players just days from the opener hasn't changed his resolve.

"Have you guys ever seen me run from anything?" he said. "I am not about to now. If anything, our team is a little bit tighter, a little bit stronger because of the things that have happened.

"We grow from this. It is happening now and glad it is happening early in the year so we can move on from it and grow from it and become stronger as a football team. We never want to see things happen, but we all know they do during a long season, so here we go. This is just the start of it. Let's put it behind us and keep marching."

This is the second time Garrett already has been hurt as a pro, and those setbacks came after he was limited during his junior year at Texas A&M by a badly sprained left ankle.

Garrett sustained a lateral sprain to his left foot during minicamp while pressuring former Browns quarterback Brock Osweiler. The injury was initially thought to be serious, but Garrett's foot was immobilized in a walking boot and he recovered in time for the start of training camp.

The Browns eased him into practices, but it wasn't long before Garrett was dazzling Cleveland's coaches and teammates with his speed and strength. Garrett also impressed with his humility and work ethic, staying after practice to run wind sprints to build stamina.

Jackson said he's not concerned about Garrett's recent spate of injuries. The one that occurred Wednesday was unavoidable.

"I know exactly how it happened," Jackson said. "If you get somebody thrown into your leg, it could happen to any one of our guys, anybody on our football team. It is just unfortunate it happened to a guy who we wish was out there all of the time. That goes with it."

With Garrett out, the Browns re-signed second-year lineman Tyrone Holmes, who was waived by the team on Sunday. He played in 11 games for Cleveland last season and showed promise during this summer's exhibition games.

Holmes knows he alone can't replace Garrett.

"It's huge," he said of losing Garrett. "Everybody knows how talented of a player he is. He is a freak. It is a huge loss for the team, but we are going to have to go in and step up and try to fill the role."

Garrett had been pointing to the opener and promised to sack Ben Roethlisberger. Before Wednesday's practice, Garrett said taking down the Steelers quarterback would be nice, but his main objective was to wreak havoc wherever he could.

"It's to make a difference," he said. "Making a difference whether it's a sack, TFL (tackle for loss) or just being disruptive, that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to take the opportunities that are given to me."

For now, those chances are on hold.

Aaron Hernandez lawyer: Brain showed 'most severe case' of CTE for 27-year-old

aaron-ap.jpg
AP

Aaron Hernandez lawyer: Brain showed 'most severe case' of CTE for 27-year-old

BOSTON — Tests conducted on the brain of former football star Aaron Hernandez showed severe signs of the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, and his attorney said Thursday that the player’s daughter is suing the NFL and the New England Patriots for leading Hernandez to believe the sport was safe.

In a news conference at his offices, Hernandez’s attorney Jose Baez said the testing showed one of the most severe cases ever diagnosed.

“We’re told it was the most severe case they had ever seen for someone of Aaron’s age,” Baez said.

Dr. Ann McKee, the director of the CTE Center at Boston University, concluded that the New England Patriots tight end had stage 3 of 4 of the disease, and also had early brain atrophy and large perforations in a central membrane.

The lawsuit filed in federal court in Boston on Thursday claims that the team and league deprived Avielle Hernandez of the companionship of her father. It is separate from a $1 billion settlement in which the league agreed to pay families of players who suffered brain damage because of repeated head trauma while playing football.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy declined comment, saying the league had not seen the lawsuit.

Baez said Hernandez had been playing football because the NFL led him to believe it was safe.

“Those representations turned out to be false,” Baez said.

CTE can be caused by repeated head trauma and leads to symptoms like violent mood swings, depression and other cognitive difficulties. Hernandez killed himself in April in the jail cell where he was serving a life-without-parole sentence for a 2013 murder. His death came just hours before the Patriots visited the White House to celebrate their latest Super Bowl victory.

CTE can only be diagnosed in an autopsy. A recent study found evidence of the disease in 110 of 111 former NFL players whose brains were examined.

CTE has been linked with repeated concussions and involves brain damage particularly in the frontal region that controls many functions including judgment, emotion, impulse control, social behavior and memory.

“When hindsight is 20-20, you look back and there are things you might have noticed but you didn’t know,” Baez said.

A week before his suicide, Hernandez was acquitted in the 2012 drive-by shootings of two men in Boston. Prosecutors had argued that Hernandez gunned the two men down after one accidentally spilled a drink on him in a nightclub, and then got a tattoo of a handgun and the words “God Forgives” to commemorate the crime.

Baez said he deeply regretted not raising the issue of Hernandez having CTE during his murder trials. He said they did not blame CTE for the murders because Hernandez’s defense was actual innocence.

A star for the University of Florida when it won the 2008 title, Hernandez dropped to the fourth round of the NFL draft because of trouble in college that included a failed drug test and a bar fight. His name had also come up in an investigation into a shooting.

In three seasons with the Patriots, Hernandez joined Rob Gronkowski to form one of the most potent tight end duos in NFL history. In 2011, his second season, Hernandez caught 79 passes for 910 yards and seven touchdowns to help the team reach the Super Bowl, and he was rewarded with a $40 million contract.

But the Patriots released him in 2013, shortly after he was arrested in the killing of semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd, who was dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancee. Hernandez was convicted and sentenced to life in prison; the conviction was voided because he died before his appeals were exhausted, though that decision is itself being appealed.

No rust at all for Carr coming off broken leg: 'He doesn't make mistakes'

carr-crab-us.jpg
USATSI

No rust at all for Carr coming off broken leg: 'He doesn't make mistakes'

ALAMEDA –Derek Carr has been shockingly efficient early this season, even by his own standards. The Raiders quarterback has 492 yards, five touchdowns, no picks and a 126.5 passer rating over two games.

Not half bad for the $25 million man.

He nearly threw a perfect game against the New York Jets. Carr completed a career high 82 percent of his passes in Week 2, going 23-for-28 for 230 yards and three touchdowns. Accounting for receiver drops and throwaways (one each), Carr only misfired on three passes. All darn day.

The Raiders scored six touchdowns in 10 drives and punted only three times. It’s the type of game this Raiders offense is capable of, with maybe the league’s best offensive line and a stable of skill players.

Nothing, however, happens without the triggerman. Carr expectedly deflected praise for recent performance.

“The O-line, and the wide outs, running backs did great,” Carr said. “With the way we’re able to pick up blitzes, we’re able to hit go-routes for touchdowns, we’re able to push the ball on deep. (Michael) Crabtree going across the middle on a deep route a couple times. You know, without them doing their job, I can’t do it by myself. Everyone gives the quarterback credit and all those things because you always touch the ball, but I give all those guys the credit.”

Carr has been accurate and decisive working with offensive coordinator Todd Downing, operating with great comfort at the line of scrimmage, before the snap.

“I think he’s done a nice job,” Downing said. “And we’re not trying to make it a scenario where every play he’s walking up to the line of scrimmage and has to evaluate something. We want to him to be able to go play fast. It’s probably not as frequent as it may seem, but when he does have those opportunities, he’s really done a nice job of helping us out. As I told him, if he sees something that makes me look like a better play caller, have at it.”

The offense is in great sync at this early point, which has been noticed by the opposition. Carr has long commanded respect, but it’s certainly heightened after an MVP-caliber year in 2016.

"He's about timing," Washington cornerback Josh Norman said, via ESPN. "...He's precise at what he does. It's cool to see. He doesn't have any turnovers, and he doesn't make mistakes. So it's more for us as defensive backs to make plays on the ball because he's so methodical and timing-based on how he does things. He's a good quarterback. He really is. We've got our work cut out for us."