Brown needs an­other big day

USA TODAY International Edition - - SPORTS - Jar­rett Bell jbell@us­ato­day.com USA TO­DAY Sports FOL­LOW NFL COLUMNIST JAR­RETT BELL @Jar­ret­tBell for commentary, break­ing news and anal­y­sis.

Key items of in­ter­est as Week 2 rolls on in the NFL …

Who’s hot: An­to­nio Brown. Just like last year, the Pitts­burgh Steel­ers’ big-play re­ceiver has opened the sea­son with a bang. With­out his 11 catches for 182 yards — in­clud­ing clutch ac­ro­bat­ics — Pitts­burgh prob­a­bly would not have won its opener at the Cleve­land Browns. With run­ning back Le’Veon Bell just get­ting back to ac­tion and look­ing for rhythm, it’s even more para­mount for the best re­ceiver in foot­ball to be on his A game as the Min­nesota Vik­ings bring their well-bal­anced de­fense to Heinz Field on Sun­day. An X fac­tor has emerged with Min­nesota’s best cor­ner­back, Xavier Rhodes — ex­pected to be as­signed on Brown — nurs­ing a hip in­jury.

Pres­sure’s on: Sean Pay­ton. The New Or­leans Saints coach has big­ger prob­lems than find­ing snaps for Adrian Peterson, who might be per­fect with a niche as the go-to run­ner at the goal line. Slow starts to the sea­son have be­come a bad habit for the Saints, who are flirt­ing with 0-2 again as the New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots come to the Su­per­dome. The Saints started 0-3 last sea­son, 0-3 in 2015 and 0-2 in 2014 and fin­ished 7-9 each time. The Saints last made the play­offs in 2013 af­ter open­ing 5-0. Kansas City Chiefs quar­ter­back Alex Smith had lit up the Pa­tri­ots dur­ing Week 1, and much can swing on Saints quar­ter­back Drew Brees ex­pos­ing a vul­ner­a­ble unit. But Pa­tri­ots coach Bill Belichick had four more days to pre­pare and since Tom Brady be­came quar­ter­back in 2001, New Eng­land is 38-11 (.776) in games af­ter a loss.

Next man up: Ja­coby Bris­sett. It was roughly a year ago when Bris­sett came off the bench in Septem­ber as a rookie for an emer­gency start for the Pa­tri­ots, with Brady sus­pended and Jimmy Garop­polo in­jured. Now, two weeks since he was traded from New Eng­land, he’ll make his de­but start for the Indianapolis Colts against the Ari­zona Car­di­nals. Who knows how long Bris­sett will be in the lineup, given the mys­tery sur­round­ing An­drew Luck’s ail­ing shoul­der? In any event, he’s a bet­ter op­tion that Scott Tolzien. In re­lief last week, Bris­sett – work­ing off a lim­ited set of plays – got the Colts into the end zone in three plays against the Los An­ge­les Rams. And here’s some­thing else to like: A hands-on men­tor dur­ing high school and col­lege was none other than Bill Par­cells, who swears by Bris­sett’s men­tal ap­proach.

Rookie watch: DeShone Kizer. It’s just Week 2 of his rookie sea­son, but the sec­ond-round pick from Notre Dame might be the long-term an­swer the Browns have been seek­ing at quar­ter­back for a num­ber of years. And what a way to be­gin. Kizer opened against the blitz-happy Steel­ers and now goes on the road to face a big-play Baltimore Ravens de­fense that stung Cincin­nati Ben­gals quar­ter­back Andy Dal­ton in its opener. Still, Kizer, who got the nod over the since-re­leased Brock Osweiler, brings hope. And he ben­e­fits from be­ing aligned with one of the most cre­ative minds in the NFL in coach Hue Jack­son, who will de­sign scheme wrin­kles to pro­tect his quar­ter­back and keep his psy­che in­tact as he ex­pe­ri­ences the grow­ing pains of tran­si­tion­ing to the NFL.

Stom­ach for an up­set: Buf­falo Bills at Carolina Pan­thers. They’re call­ing Buf­falo “Carolina North” with new Bills coach Sean McDer­mott and new gen­eral man­ager Bran­don Beane com­ing from the Pan­thers. We’ll see whether McDer­mott, the former Carolina de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor, can uti­lize any in­sider knowl­edge in ex­ploit­ing the Pan­thers de­fense and de­rail­ing Cam New­ton af­ter Carolina’s ho-hum open­ing win at the San Fran­cisco 49ers. The re­u­nion sub­plot play­ing out

all across the NFL in Week 2. Andy Reid is fac­ing the Philadel­phia Ea­gles. Sean McVay plays against Washington, . Chicago Bears quar­ter­back Mike Glen­non goes to Tampa. Ten­nessee Ti­tans coach Mike Mu­larkey goes back to Jack­sonville.

Stat’s the fact: The three rook­ies who rushed for 100 yards in their NFL de­buts in Week 1 — the Chiefs’ Ka­reem Hunt, Jack­sonville Jaguars’ Leonard Four­nette and Vik­ings’ Dalvin Cook — have a shot at achiev­ing a feat not done since 2005. Cadillac Wil­liams was the last rookie to rush for 100 yards in each of his first two NFL games. The last time two rook­ies be­gan their ca­reers with back-to­back 100-yard games was 1979, with Ot­tis An­der­son and Wil­liam An­drews.

KEN BLAZE, USA TO­DAY SPORTS

Steel­ers wide re­ceiver An­to­nio Brown, right, caught all 11 of his tar­gets last week against the Browns, and his 182 re­ceiv­ing yards were the league’s high­est to­tal in Week 1. He’ll play Sun­day against the Vik­ings, whose top cor­ner­back, Xavier Rhodes, is deal­ing with a hip is­sue.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.