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Luck, Martin latest rookies to impress


Luck, Martin latest rookies to impress

In what is turning into a memorable year for rookies, Andrew Luck and Doug Martin took the excellence to a record level.

Luck broke the NFL's single-game rookie record by throwing for 433 yards in leading Indianapolis over Miami 23-20. He was 30 of 48 with two TDs and broke Cam Newton's mark of 432 yards set last season. And it came on the day coach Chuck Pagano returned to Lucas Oil Stadium for the first time since being diagnosed with leukemia.

``His presence is felt every day in the facility,'' Luck said. ``But to see him in the flesh, in the locker room, to hear him speak I think gave all the guys a boost.''

Luck, the first overall draft pick, showed it the most as Indianapolis (5-3) won its third straight after winning only twice a year ago. He has four 300-yard passing games, tied with Peyton Manning (1998) for the most by a rookie in a season.

``The kid, he continues to amaze,'' Reggie Wayne said after catching seven passes for 78 yards. ``Hopefully I can help, you know, add on to his legacy that he's about to build.''

Martin could be doing the same for Tampa Bay (4-4). The Buccaneers' first-round pick rushed for a franchise-record 251 yards and four touchdowns in a 42-32 victory at Oakland - his hometown. He scored on runs of 1, 45, 67 and 70 yards in the second half as he gashed what had been an improved run defense for the Raiders (3-5).

Martin, the 31st pick in April out of Boise State, became the first back since at least 1940 to score on three TD runs of at least 45 yards in one game, according to STATS LLC.

About 60 friends and family members witnessed Martin's magic.

``Everybody was there. It was awesome,'' he said. ``It's surreal right now. I'm just doing my job out there. I'm honored.''

He finished 45 yards shy of tying Adrian Peterson's single game record of 296 set in his rookie season in 2007 and joined Denver's Mike Anderson as the only backs with at least 250 yards rushing and four TDs in a single game.

``He's turned into a heck of a player here these last two weeks,'' Bucs veteran safety Ronde Barber said. ``He's really jumped onto the scene, just the way he's handled the pressure that he's had to be the main guy here in our offense these past couple of weeks. It's impressive, man.''

In other games, it was Atlanta 19, Dallas 13 as the Falcons remained the league's only unbeaten team; Chicago 51, Tennessee 20; Houston 21, Buffalo 9; Green Bay 31, Arizona 17; Denver 31, Cincinnati 23; Pittsburgh 24, the New York Giants 20; Baltimore 25, Cleveland 15; Seattle 30, Minnesota 20; Carolina 21, Washington 13; and Detroit 31, Jacksonville 14.

On Thursday night, it was San Diego 31, Kansas City 13.

Monday night's game has Philadelphia (3-4) at New Orleans (2-5).

Off this week were New England (5-3), San Francisco (6-2), St. Louis (3-5) and the New York Jets (3-5).


At Atlanta, Matt Bryant made four field goals and Michael Turner had a tiebreaking 3-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Turner had 20 carries for 102 yards and Matt Ryan had a season-high 342 yards passing for the Falcons (8-0).

Tony Romo completed all six passes for 78 yards, including a 21-yard scoring pass to Kevin Ogletree, on the Cowboys' touchdown drive in the fourth period, but Atlanta used up 5 minutes, 4 seconds, leaving only 17 seconds left after Bryant's 32-yard field goal.

The Falcons have never been undefeated halfway through a season.


At Nashville, Chicago's defense was dominant once more.

Brian Urlacher returned an interception for a touchdown, while cornerback Charles Tillman forced four fumbles and Chicago created five turnovers while winning its sixth in a row.

The Bears (7-1) scored a franchise-record 28 points in the first quarter. They took control by forcing three turnovers in the first 13 minutes and turning them into 14 points. Urlacher went 46 yards for his score.

Jay Cutler threw three TD passes to Brandon Marshall.

The Titans (3-6) had only Chris Johnson's 80-yard run as a highlight.


At Houston, Matt Schaub threw two touchdown passes, Arian Foster ran for 111 yards against Buffalo's NFL-worst rushing defense, and Andre Johnson caught eight passes for 118 yards. Foster scored for the fifth straight game for Houston (7-1), which has the AFC's best record.

Mario Williams had a sack and five tackles in his return to Reliant Stadium after signing with the Bills (3-5) in the offseason. The Texans made Williams the No. 1 pick in the 2006 draft and he's still Houston's career sacks leader (53).

``I was at least going to get one,'' Williams said. ``I couldn't just come in here and not. I had to at least somehow, some way get one. I wish it would have been more. I definitely had some more opportunities.''


At Green Bay, Tom Crabtree's 72-yard touchdown was the Packers' longest of the season, and Randall Cobb added two TD catches. The Packers (6-3) also found a running game with a season-high 176 yards on 39 carries.

Green Bay goes into its bye week with a four-game winning streak. The break comes at a good time for the Packers, who lost star linebacker Clay Matthews, WR Jordy Nelson and tackle Bryan Bulaga to injuries.

Arizona (4-5) is going the other way with five straight losses.


At Cincinnati, Peyton Manning overcame a pair of interceptions by throwing three touchdown passes, and Trindon Holliday returned a kickoff a Broncos-record 105 yards for a touchdown.

Manning improved to 8-0 against Cincinnati (3-5), which has lost four in a row for the first time in two years. But the four-time MVP threw a pair of interceptions - one in the end zone - that led to 10 points and a 20-17 Cincinnati lead early in the fourth quarter.

Then Manning threw a 1-yard touchdown to Joel Dreessen that put Denver (5-3) back ahead. After Andy Dalton was picked off by Champ Bailey, Manning put it away with a 4-yard pass to Eric Decker.

It marked Manning's 48th winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime, passing Hall of Famer Dan Marino (47) for the most in the NFL since 1970.


The Steelers arrived in New Jersey hours before the game because of logistical issues stemming from the superstorm. That might have accounted for their carelessness. They had the fewest giveaways in the NFL entering the game, but were careless with the ball and in pass coverage; cornerback Keenan Lewis had 87 yards on two pass interference penalties, and they wasted some great kick returns, too.

Still, Isaac Redman ran for 147 yards, and scored the winning touchdown from a yard out with 4:02 remaining. The Steelers (5-3) snapped New York's four-game winning streak.

Temporary relief from the destruction of Superstorm Sandy was what New York's fans sought, and the Giants (6-3) provided it for a while. Just not long enough.

``My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone else who are going through so much,'' said Ben Roethlisberger, who threw for two TDs. ``There were so many emotions going on, I didn't know what to expect from it. But maybe we were able to take their minds off their problems just a little.''


At Cleveland, the Ravens (6-2) kept up their dominance within the division. Joe Flacco threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Torrey Smith with 4:26 remaining as Baltimore won its 11th straight game inside the AFC North.

``Whew,'' coach John Harbaugh said. ``That was a fight. That's a really good football team. They are well coached, tough and physical. They are building something here. They are an up-and-coming AFC North-style team. That was an AFC North battle.''

The Ravens beat the Browns (2-7) for the 10th consecutive time. It was also Baltimore's 15th straight win following a loss.

Phil Dawson kicked five field goals for the Browns.


At Seattle, Marshawn Lynch ran for 124 yards and a touchdown, rookie QB Russell Wilson threw three first-half touchdowns, and Seattle overcame 182 yards rushing by Adrian Peterson in a matchup between the top two rushers in the NFL.

Lynch ran for a 3-yard TD in the third quarter, while Wilson threw TD passes of 11 yards to Sidney Rice, and TDs of 6 and 11 yards to Golden Tate for the Seahawks (5-4).

Peterson and the Vikings (5-4) had 197 yards on the ground in the first half, but only had 46 yards rushing in the second half.


Cam Newton passed for 201 yards with a touchdown and ran eight times for 37 yards and a score as Carolina snapped a five-game losing streak. The visiting Panthers (2-6) were in desperate need of a win after a series of close defeats that had players questioning the team's leadership.

Referee Carl Cheffers admitted there was an inadvertent whistle by the line judge on a first-quarter play when Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams scored on a 30-yard run.

According to a pool report, Cheffers said the touchdown stood after the officials discussed the play because, ``We just felt when the whistle blew, that the player would have already scored.''

Robert Griffin III was 23 for 39 for 215 yards, ran 11 times for 53 yards and was sacked four times as the Redskins (3-6) lost their third straight.


At Jacksonville, Mikel Leshoure ran for touchdowns of 7, 1 and 8 yards, becoming the first player in franchise history - including Hall of Famer Barry Sanders - to run for three touchdowns in the first half.

Leshoure finished with 70 yards rushing as Detroit improved to 4-4, and Calvin Johnson had five receptions for 99 yards before the Jaguars (1-7) even managed first down. He finished with seven catches for 129 yards despite playing through a knee injury.


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Five observations from Day 1 of Ravens training camp

Five observations from Day 1 of Ravens training camp

OWINGS MILLS – Here are five observations from Day 1 of Ravens’ training camp:

1. Joe Flacco didn’t look like someone who had not practiced since November.

First of all, there is nothing wrong with Flacco’s arm. Early in drills, he effortlessly floated a long pass to rookie Chris Moore on a ball that traveled at least 55 yards in the air. Secondly, Flacco moved well wearing a brace on his surgically-repaired left knee, moving out of the pocket several times without any sign of favoring the injury. It remains to be seen if Flacco feels discomfort after several days of practice, and of course, he is not taking any hits. But this was a good first step.

“It felt really good to be out there,” Flacco said in quotes provided by the team. “I wasn’t as efficient as I’d like to be, but I felt comfortable. I just need to throw it a little better and complete some more passes.”

2. Veteran tight end Ben Watson didn’t have the greatest practice.

The usually sure-handed Watson dropped two passes early. Maybe Watson was nervous in his first practice with Flacco, or maybe he was adjusting to the pace of Flacco’s throws. But Watson will be looking to bounce back quickly, competing for playing time at tight end with Crockett Gillmore, Dennis Pitta, and Maxx Williams.

3. The starter at inside linebacker could be rookie Kamalei Correa.

While Correa is taking reps both outside and inside, the Ravens are searching for a starter at inside linebacker next to C.J. Mosley. If Correa wins the starting job, it means the Ravens’ top two picks, left tackle Ronnie Stanley and Correa, could be starters from Week 1.

4. Pitta looks like Pitta, running patterns and making catches.

Fans still love Pitta, and he received a huge ovation whenever he made a catch. Pitta’s attempt to come back from his second major hip injury is a feel-good story and people are rooting for him.  However, a major test for Pitta will come Saturday when the Ravens put on pads for the first time.

5. John Urschel could be the starter at left guard, but he is also taking reps at center.

Urschel is the favorite to replace Kelechi Osemele as the starting left guard. However, Urschel’s best position may be center. If anything happens to starting center Jeremy Zuttah, the Ravens could shift Urschel to center and play either Ryan Jensen or rookie Alex Lewis at left guard.


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Ronnie Stanley sings 'Ignition Remix' in chicken suit for his teammates

Ronnie Stanley sings 'Ignition Remix' in chicken suit for his teammates

OWINGS MILLS - When the Ravens drafted left tackle Ronnie Stanley, he never expected to sing in front of teammates wearing a chicken suit.

Welcome to the Ravens, and to the traditional rookie talent contest. Stanley led off this year’s draft class as the first-round pick, and apparently, he was a hit. The chicken suit was courtesy of wide receiver Steve Smith Sr., who purchased it for Stanley.

Where exactly do you find a chicken suit that fits somebody 6-foot-6, 320 pounds? But Smith found one. If you are a smart rookie, you don’t say no to Steve Smith. That left Stanley with no choice but to perform wearing the suit.

Stanley chose the R. Kelly song “Ignition Remix” for his selection.

“I knew it was crowd pleaser,” Stanley said after Thursday’s practice. “I know every word to the song. That was the song I picked, so I was practicing all throughout this break that we had.”

Under the circumstances, Stanley felt he did well.

 “I actually didn’t know about the chicken suit until yesterday,” Stanley said. “I did what I had to do. I knew since I was going first, I had to set the tone. That was the first time I sang in a chicken suit.”

Ravens coach John Harbaugh was impressed.

“He did a great job and we had fun,” Harbaugh said. “It’s nice when your first-round pick, kind of the leader of the rookie class, is able to step up and make a statement about that. I can fit in, so to speak.”

No word on if Stanley plans to go on tour after the season.


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Kenneth Dixon hobbled, Lorenzo Taliaferro placed on PUP list

Kenneth Dixon hobbled, Lorenzo Taliaferro placed on PUP list

OWINGS MILLS -- The Ravens deep running back group grew a little thinner – at least temporarily – on Thursday as rookie Kenneth Dixon left the first training camp practice after tweaking his left knee and Lorenzo Taliaferro was placed on the preseason physically-unable-to-perform list with a lingering foot injury.

Dixon had been very active in the noncontact practice, especially as a pass catcher. But as he caught one pass near the left sideline in an 11-on-11 drill, he was inadvertently bumped out of bounds by linebacker Patrick Onwauasor and fell hard to the ground. Dixon was slow to get up and was ultimately helped off the field by Justin Forsett and a trainer.

Dixon has “a slight thing with the knee,” coach John Harbaugh said after practice. “He should be fine.”

Taliaferro sustained a foot injury last year and had surgery that ultimately ended his season in October.

"Not that there's a big issue with it," Harbaugh said of Taliaferro's foot, "but it's not quite there yet."

Entering his third season, Taliaferro is fighting for a roster spot after missing 16 of 32 games over his first two seasons. Forsett, Buck Allen and Dixon all appear to be locks to make the team, leaving Taliaferro competing for a potential fourth running spot with Terrance West and perhaps Trent Richardson, though he, too, is injured.

Taliaferro joins five other Ravens who had previously been placed on the preseason PUP list – receivers Steve Smith and Breshad Perriman, linebackers Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs, and Richardson.

Players can be activated from the PUP list and return to practice at any time during training camp. If they begin the regular season on the PUP list, they must sit out the first six games.

In addition to Taliaferro’s absence, three players sat out Thursday's practice because they haven’t passed the conditioning test: wide receiver Mike Wallace, cornerback Jerraud Powers and newly signed wide receiver Dobson Collins.