Dallas Cowboys star Dak Prescott said it is "safe to say" he will return from injury and start against the Denver Broncos on Sunday.

A calf injury forced Prescott to miss last week's 20-16 win over the Minnesota Vikings, backup quarterback Cooper Rush sensationally fuelling the high-flying Cowboys.

After two weeks off to recover from a right calf strain, two-time Pro Bowler Prescott is now set to suit up to face the Broncos.

"Safe to say," Prescott told reporters on Thursday when asked if he would play on Sunday.

"I'm feeling good. Obviously I had two weeks to do a lot of rehab and recover, get everything that I needed to, the different modalities, and I feel good.

"Had two great days of practice and looking forward to Sunday."

The Cowboys (6-1) are averaging 40.3 points per game at home this season compared to 26.0 points per game on the road. Dallas have scored at least 36 points in five straight home games dating back to last season, according to Stats Perform.

In his first career NFL start, Rush threw for 325 yards and two touchdowns, including a 73-yard touchdown pass to Cedrick Wilson. The last Dallas quarterback to have a 70-yard TD pass in their first career NFL start was Roger Staubach in 1969.

The Green Bay Packers have been boosted by the return of star wide receiver Davante Adams from the reserve/COVID-19 list.

Adams missed last week's 24-21 NFL win over the previously unbeaten Arizona Cardinals after testing positive for coronavirus on October 25.

The four-time Pro Bowler is now set to be available for Green Bay's showdown with the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, music to the ears of the Packers as reigning MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers is sidelined due to COVID-19.

"It's great to see those guys," Packers head coach Matt LaFleur said before Thursday's practice. "They were fired up to be back. It's a huge benefit to this team."

Adams leads the Packers (7-1) with 52 catches and 744 yards with three touchdowns this season.

The Packers are on a seven-game winning streak – their longest within a single season since opening the 2011 campaign 13-0 on their way to a 15-1 record. Their lone loss that season came in Kansas City, per Stats Perform.

Rodgers will miss his first game since the 2017 season when he broke his right clavicle. Since he took over as the starter in 2008, the Packers are 133-64-1 (67.4) with Rodgers, and 6-11-1 (36.1) without him.

The Packers have been at their best in the second quarter, posting an NFL-best -plus 36-point differential (scored 77, allowed 41). Kansas City's minus-40-point differential (scored 51, allowed 91) in the second quarter ranks 28th in the league, and is their worst mark in any quarter this year.

Von Miller may have to wait to make his Los Angeles Rams debut, with head coach Sean McVay wanting to "ease him back in" after an ankle injury.

Miller, 32, joined the Rams from the Denver Broncos in a blockbuster trade on Monday, which significantly boosts McVay's 7-1 side and their NFL Super Bowl prospects.

A Super Bowl winner and MVP, Miller arrived in Los Angeles on Tuesday and underwent a physical and onboarding but sat out practice on Wednesday, ahead of Sunday's game against the Tennessee Titans.

Miller missed the Broncos' Week 8 game due to an ankle injury suffered against the Cleveland Browns in Week 7, putting his availability to face the Titans in doubt.

"He'll do some limited work off to the side, just getting a feel for where his ankle is at. He hasn't been with us," McVay told reporters about Miller on Wednesday.

"Want to be smart, want to be able to ease him back in. We'll see what that looks like a day at a time."

McVay said the eight-time Pro Bowler was eager to play for his new team.

"Oh yeah, he's going to do everything in his power to try to play," McVay said. "But I think there's an element of let's take it a day at a time and let's be smart, let's get a feel for how he's doing, but this guy is an elite competitor and he definitely wants to be able to do that."

Miller has a pressure rate of 24.8 per cent, which was well above the pre-Week 8 average of 17.2 per cent for edge rushers.

McVay also revealed quarterback Matthew Stafford and receiver Robert Woods should both face the Titans, despite not practicing on Wednesday.

"We're fairly banged up so we're going to take a little bit more modified approach to practice this week," McVay said, adding later, "it's more about just being smart, being safe."

The Rams beat the Houston Texans 38-22 on the road last week after leading 38-0 heading into the fourth quarter. They are one of two teams (also the Dallas Cowboys) to score at least 20 points in every game this season, according to Stats Perform.

Meanwhile, the Rams have scored points in every half dating back to Week 13 in 2019 – their streak of 58 consecutive halves is the second-longest active streak (Baltimore, 135), per Stats Perform.

The Titans (6-2) will be without running back Derrick Henry, who underwent foot surgery on Tuesday.

Miami Dolphins general manager Chris Grier said the franchise did their "due diligence" regarding a trade for wantaway Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson before opting not to make a deal.

The Dolphins were reportedly favourites to land Watson before Tuesday's NFL deadline as the three-time Pro Bowler was believed to have been willing to waive his no-trade clause.

It sparked uncertainty over the future of second-year QB Tua Tagovailoa, however, a trade for Watson did not materialise.

Grier was asked about Miami's interest in Watson – who is yet to play this season – on Wednesday and he told reporters midweek: "We never got to a point where anything was going to be realistic in terms of happening.

"It was still us just doing our due diligence, just talking through things. We never got to a point where anything was that close to happening."

Topping 4,000 yards for the second time in his career as he racked up 4,823 to lead the league, Watson threw for 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions last season.

Fifth in the NFL in air yards per attempt (9.27), according to Stats Perform data, Watson did an excellent job of balancing his aggression with smart decision-making.

Watson threw a pickable pass on just 2.28 per cent of his attempts, the fourth-lowest rate in the NFL last term.

This season, Tagovailoa has 103 completions for 1,040 yards, seven touchdowns and five interceptions in five games.

"I don't think it's any different than any player on the roster, honestly," Grier said. "Because if there's a player available around the league that's viewed as being one of the top players in the league at any position, I think you look at it and try to go for it.

"We're very happy with Tua. We think he's developing well. Brian has been very consistent with his message, and we have been as well.

"He's working hard, he's showing a lot of improvement and we think he'll continue to develop and be the player he should be."

Watson will remain in Houston until at least the end of the season and Texans GM Nick Caserio added: "The veracity of some of what has been reported is a little bit stretched. But that's just the nature of how these things work.

"There were various levels of discussions, specific to him and specific to other players as well. In the end, there was no trade that came to fruition, so I don't really have any comment about some of the logistics and the mechanics about what happened and what hasn't happened, what did happen."

Baker Mayfield was "pretty surprised" by Odell Beckham Sr's apparent criticism of the Cleveland Browns quarterback, insisting he wants the best for Odell Beckham Jr.

The Browns wide receiver was thrust into the spotlight ahead of the trade deadline on Tuesday when his father posted a lengthy video on Instagram showing a number of occasions on which Mayfield failed to find his team-mate.

Beckham Sr. also responded to comments criticising Mayfield, seemingly agreeing the one-time Heisman Trophy winner was hampering his son's performances.

Beckham Jr., who returned from a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in Week 3 this year, has 17 catches for 232 yards and zero touchdowns for the 4-4 Browns, who are bottom of the AFC North. He has been targeted 34 times.

In the six games before his Week 7 injury in 2020, Beckham had 23 receptions on 42 targets for 319 yards and three TDs.

With Mayfield – who is averaging a career-high 8.3 yards per passing attempt but has tossed only six TD scores – blamed by Beckham Sr., he described himself as "surprised" but not "hurt".

"I've had conversations with his dad before, man-to-man, face-to-face, and I was pretty surprised by the video and the intentions and the feelings behind it," Mayfield said.

He added: "Naturally, he wants his son to succeed. I can't blame him for that. I want Odell to succeed. That's where we were at – or at least so I thought."

Beckham will do well to succeed from the sideline, though. He was "excused" from practice on Wednesday, coach Kevin Stefanski confirmed, with his future in doubt despite staying in Cleveland.

Should he return, Mayfield is willing to work with Beckham again, having had 110 completions for 1,513 passing yards from 202 targets throwing to the former New York Giants wideout – second to Jarvis Landry in each category for the QB's NFL career.

"If he's back, then we'll work through it and do whatever it takes," Mayfield said. "I can put my ego and pride to the side to win. Because that's all I care about is winning.

"If not, then we'll roll with the guys we have out there. And those guys will know that I completely trust them, and they'll know that I'm always here for them, and that's the leader and the type of quarterback I am."

The Browns actually have a better record without Beckham than with him since his 2019 signing, going 14-15 when the receiver is in the team compared to 7-4 when he is missing.

The Carolina Panthers have received a boost after confirming that star running back Christian McCaffrey has been taken off the injured reserve list.

The 25-year-old has been on injured reserve since Week 6 after the hamstring issue he suffered in the Week 3 victory over the Houston Texans did not respond well in practice.

The Panthers announced on Wednesday McCaffrey would be back in practice along with punter Joseph Charlton, who was also placed on injured reserve in Week 6.

McCaffrey only played three games in 2020, too, after an outstanding 2019 campaign in which he became just the third player ever to pass 1,000 rushing yards (1,387) and 1,000 receiving yards (1,005) in the same season – along with Roger Craig and Marshall Faulk. He scored 19 total touchdowns that season.

So far this year, McCaffrey has only one score from 201 yards on the ground and 163 yards through the air. He will hope to add significantly to those totals as he returns in good time for Carolina.

The Panthers halted a run of four straight defeats on Sunday as they won at the Atlanta Falcons to move to 4-4. It was the first victory for coach Matt Rhule since McCaffrey was injured.

Odell Beckham Jr remained with the Cleveland Browns beyond the trade deadline, but his future became no clearer on Wednesday when he was "excused" from practice. 

Despite Beckham not being realistically seen as a mover before the deadline on Tuesday, he was the source of plenty of conversation due to his disappointing returns this season. 

The Browns wide receiver has 17 catches for 232 yards and zero touchdowns since returning from a torn ACL in Week 3. 

Odell Beckham Sr posted a lengthy video on Instagram on Tuesday showing Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield repeatedly failing to find his son. 

NBA great LeBron James, an Ohio native, tweeted "#FreeOBJ", saying Beckham would "show again why he's special". 

But when Beckham gets the opportunity to do so is in significant doubt, with the player not attending practice with his team-mates on Wednesday. 

Asked if the former New York Giants wideout was still a member of the team, coach Kevin Stefanski replied cryptically: "I would just tell you today he is excused, and we will see where this goes." 

Mayfield's media availability was postponed on Wednesday, and he has yet to comment. 

Green Bay Packers coach Matt LaFleur has no explanation for why Aaron Rodgers described himself as "immunised", with Patrick Mahomes disappointed to miss out on a meeting with the reigning NFL MVP.

Reports on Wednesday revealed Rodgers has tested positive for coronavirus and will miss a minimum of 10 days as he is not vaccinated.

Before the season, the quarterback said he was "immunised", causing some confusion as the Packers now face being without him for two key games.

Rodgers will certainly miss this week's matchup with Mahomes' Kansas City Chiefs and is only set to be cleared for practice the day before Green Bay play the Seattle Seahawks next week.

Asked about Rodgers' contentious wording, coach LaFleur said: "That's a great question for Aaron – I'm not going to comment on it."

The shock development means Rodgers' wait for a first game against Mahomes will go on, with Jordan Love instead in line for his first career start under center.

Mahomes, whose Chiefs are a hugely underwhelming 4-4, said: "It's definitely disappointing [not to play Rodgers].

"I've watched his game for a long time. I feel I play a similar style. You always want to compete against the best.

"Hopefully he's healthy and it's not too bad. I'm sure he'll come back from it stronger than he was before."

Rodgers has been at the forefront of NFL discussion throughout this season, having pushed for a trade away from his only professional team before the campaign begun.

He was then awful in the stunning 38-3 Week 1 defeat to the New Orleans Saints, throwing two interceptions with a passer rating of 36.8 – the fourth-worst of his career.

However, Rodgers has since led the Packers to seven straight wins, a run they will attempt to continue in his absence.

The Arizona Cardinals are set to make a late decision on whether Kyler Murray plays in a Week 9 showdown with the San Francisco 49ers.

Quarterback Murray missed the opening part of practice on Wednesday due to an ankle injury as the Cardinals stepped up their preparation to face the Niners at Levi's Stadium this weekend.

Head coach Kliff Kingsbury had stated that MVP contender Murray was day-to-day as he nurses a sprain of his left ankle, having limped off the field following the defeat to the Green Bay Packers last Thursday.

Kingsbury said after practice that the signal-caller is "progressing" ahead of Sunday's showdown with a 3-4 San Francisco team and a game-time decision is likely to be made.

Wide receivers DeAndre Hopkins and A.J. Green were also absent from practice along with running back Jonathan Ward.

There was more positive news on center Rodney Hudson, offensive lineman Max Garcia and defensive tackle Rashard Lawrence, who all returned to practice.

Linebacker Zaven Collins also recovered from a shoulder injury to take part in practice.

NFC West leaders the Cardinals are 7-1 after suffering their first loss of the season, going down 24-21 to the Packers.

Murray threw multiple picks and no touchdowns in a game for the first time in his career as Arizona lost the only perfect record in the NFL.

 

In fantasy football, as in life, things do not always work out the way you planned.

Every year, fantasy managers will leave their draft in a great mood, believing they have nailed it, only to see their star players fail to live up to expectations.

This week's look at some of the top selections for Week 9 features such players heavily, with some who have struggled with consistency or injuries appearing in line for a strong outing this weekend.

Stats Perform looks at four offensive players and a defense who should be fantasy starters in Week 9.

Quarterback: Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings @ Baltimore Ravens

Cousins can be a confounding quarterback for Vikings fans and fantasy players alike, as his 184-yard performance in the Week 8 loss to the Dallas Cowboys demonstrated.

Yet he has an intriguing bounce-back matchup on the road as the Vikings aim to stay in touch in the NFC playoff race.

The Ravens are conceding 7.35 yards per play, the fifth-most in the NFL, and saw their defense shredded for 415 yards passing by Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals in their last game before the bye.

Cousins already has three 300-yard games to his name this season and unquestionably has the weapons to take advantage of the Baltimore defense and record another on Sunday.

Running Back: Najee Harris, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Chicago Bears

Harris has not been efficient in his rookie season, averaging 3.74 yards per carry, but this is a selection predominantly about volume.

Indeed, the former Alabama star has carried the ball 128 times so far this season. Only three players have recorded more rushing attempts.

That is a recipe for success against a Bears defense allowing 4.55 yards per carry, the eighth highest in the NFL. Fantasy managers with Harris on their roster should be optimistic about a player with three touchdowns in his last four games.

Wide Receiver: Stefon Diggs, Buffalo Bills @ Jacksonville Jaguars

Diggs has endured a mediocre year, continually frustrating his fantasy owners, though he did find the endzone for the second successive week as Buffalo defeated the Miami Dolphins last week.

And the wideout who led the league in receiving yardage last year gets another chance to exploit a vastly inferior opponent this week as the Bills travel to Jacksonville.

The 1-6 Jaguars are giving up 8.18 yards per pass play. Only the Detroit Lions (8.28) have been more charitable to opposing passing attacks this season, making the Jaguars the ideal opponent for Diggs as he looks to record only his second 100-yard performance of the season.

Tight End: George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers vs. Arizona Cardinals

Like Diggs, it's been an underwhelming season for Kittle, though for different reasons as he missed the last three games with a calf injury.

Prior to being put on injured reserve, however, Kittle had seen 19 targets across his last two games. With Kittle anticipated to return this week, expect him to be a favoured target of Jimmy Garoppolo, which could lead to a big day with the 49ers offense seeming to find its rhythm in the Week 8 win over the Bears.

Defense: Dallas Cowboys vs. Denver Broncos

Third in the league in takeaways with 14, backing an opportunistic defense like that of the Cowboys is never a bad play.

This week they face a Broncos offense that has committed a turnover in all but one game and is averaging 5.51 yards per play, putting them 21st in the NFL.

The Cowboys are eyeing a playoff run while the Broncos, despite being 4-4, appear focused on building for the future, events on Sunday should reflect that.

Aaron Rodgers has been ruled out of the Green Bay Packers' clash with the Kansas City Chiefs after testing positive for COVID-19.

NFL Media's Tom Pelissero reported Rodgers had returned a positive test, meaning he will not go head to head with Kansas City Chiefs superstar Patrick Mahomes in a blockbuster quarterback matchup.

Instead, Rodgers' backup and heir apparent Jordan Love, controversially drafted in the first round in 2020, will get the start for the 7-1 Packers.

Rodgers, according to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo, is not vaccinated against coronavirus, meaning he is out for a minimum of 10 days. Asked about his vaccination status back in August, Rodgers said he was "immunised".

The news comes after the Packers prevailed in their Week 8 matchup with the Arizona Cardinals despite COVID issues that meant they did not have the services of wide receivers Davante Adams and Allen Lazard as well as defensive coordinator Joe Barry.

Now the onus is on Love to prevail against the odds in his first start on the road at Arrowhead Stadium.

In Love's favour is the form of the Chiefs' defense, which is giving up a league-high 6.43 yards per play.

Mahomes and the Chiefs have also struggled mightily on offense by their usual high standards. He has thrown a league-leading 10 interceptions and was unconvincing in Monday's 20-17 win over the New York Giants that saw the Chiefs improve to 4-4.

Rodgers is still yet to face Mahomes, the 2018 MVP and MVP of Super Bowl LIV, in his storied NFL career.

Three-time MVP Rodgers and the Packers last faced the Chiefs in 2019, but Mahomes was sidelined with a knee injury. Green Bay prevailed 31-24.

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas will miss the rest of the 2021 season having suffered a setback in his recovery from ankle surgery.

Thomas underwent the operation in July following a 2020 season that saw him battle ankle issues.

He had hoped to return for the 5-2 Saints at some point this season, but will not feature in 2021 after it was reported Thomas was dealing with a new ankle injury separate to his previous problems.

Confirming the news on Twitter, Thomas wrote: "As many of you know, early last season I injured my ankle and worked extremely hard over the next few months to get back in time to finish the season.

"Unfortunately, the rehab didn't go as planned and earlier this offseason it was apparent I would need to have a procedure to repair the injury.

"Since then, the team and I have worked diligently, day and night to rehab and get me back on the field.

"Unfortunately, there has been another small setback which we will have to address.

"To my displeasure, I will not be able to make it back in time for this season but will do everything in my power to get back to the player I have always been."

A two-time first-team All-Pro, Thomas led the league in receiving yards with 1,725 in 2019 as he set the NFL record for most catches in a single season with 149.

Injuries restricted him to 40 catches for 438 yards in 2020. The Saints, who lost starting quarterback Jameis Winston to a torn ACL last Sunday, face the Atlanta Falcons in Week 9.

The Las Vegas Raiders released wide receiver Henry Ruggs III after being involved in a fatal car crash on Tuesday, the NFL franchise announced.

Ruggs will be charged with driving under the influence resulting in the death of another person after the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department stated officers responded to an incident at approximately 03:39 (local time) involving a Toyota and a Chevrolet.

A deceased victim was found inside the Toyota by fire department personnel, with Ruggs identified as the driver of the Chevrolet.

The 22-year-old remained on the scene and police say he was showing signs of "impairment". He was taken to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Later in the day, the Raiders said they had released the 2020 NFL Draft 12th pick.

The Raiders initially said in a statement: "The Raiders are aware of an accident involving Henry Ruggs III that occurred this morning in Las Vegas.

"We are devastated by the loss of life and our thoughts and prayers go out to the victim's family. We are in the process of gathering information and will have no further comment at this time."

An NFL statement also read: "Our hearts go out to the family and friends of the victim of this horrific tragedy.

"We will continue to gather facts and monitor the matter under our policies, but our thoughts at this time are with those impacted by this devastating incident."

This season, Ruggs had 24 catches for 469 yards and two touchdowns in seven appearances.

The Raiders, who saw head coach Jon Gruden stand down after an investigation into another NFL team revealed numerous offensive emails he sent while working as a television analyst, are top of the AFC West with a 5-2 record.

Los Angeles Rams general manager Les Snead rejected suggestions they are all-in on this season with the acquisition of All-Pro outside linebacker Von Miller, insisting he has been added with an immediate and long-term view.

The 7-1 Rams bolstered their defence by striking a blockbuster trade for Miller from the Denver Broncos on Monday, although the 32-year-old will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season under the deal.

The Rams gave up second and third-round picks in 2022 to the Broncos for the Super Bowl champion and Super Bowl 50 MVP, and will pay $9million of the $9.7m Miller is owed on his contract for the remainder of the season.

Miller's arrival is anticipated to substantially propel the Rams towards winning their first Super Bowl since 1999 but Snead insisted it was not an all-in approach to win an elusive title.

"We're actually looking at this from a standpoint of how soon can he help us, can he help us if we're fortunate enough to continue going and make the 2021 tournament, how can he help us there," Snead told reporters on Tuesday. "And then there's a long-term vision for Von as well."

On the draft picks exchanged, Snead added: "I even got a mug that my kids have given me about what I think about draft picks. I get the shallow narrative, it's fun and narrative but we like to think we use our picks innovatively and creatively… We're going to get four more compensatory picks based on players that signed elsewhere last year so we should have around eight total picks."

Miller joins a top-heavy defence that but boasts fearsome stars in the form of defensive tackle Aaron Donald, regarded by many as the best player in the NFL, outside linebacker Leonard Floyd and cornerback Jalen Ramsey. The Rams defence leads the NFL with 25 sacks this season.

Since being drafted by the Broncos with the second overall pick in 2011, Miller has recorded 110.5 sacks – the most in the NFL, winning the Super Bowl 50 MVP award as he played a key role in delivering the Lombardi Trophy to Denver at the end of the 2015 season.

"Outside linebacker, very important in our defence especially someone who is or has a pedigree of affecting the passer like he has," Snead said. "We did feel like that adding Von to that front seven mix would be a player that would stress the protection, stress the opponent, the one-on-one matchup."

Miller is set to make his Rams debut on Sunday in a primetime clash with the Tennessee Titans, who will be without running back Derrick Henry, who may miss the rest of the season with a foot injury.

The Los Angeles Rams waived wide receiver DeSean Jackson after exploring trade opportunities prior to NFL's deadline.

Jackson was allowed to seek trade options for himself, but the deadline passed without a deal being made, though the Rams waiving the three-time Pro Bowler still allows him to explore opportunities elsewhere.

The 34-year-old, who signed a one-year deal in the offseason, caught eight of 15 passes for 221 yards and one touchdown in seven games for the 7-1 Rams.

"I'm not going to give it a grade. One came to mind, but that would probably be the headlines, right? Obviously it was an experiment that we attempted," said Rams general manager Les Snead on Tuesday.

"It didn't work out as well as we wanted it to, as DeSean wanted it to, as even [head coach] Sean [McVay] wanted it to, especially those two because they have a relationship that probably goes ... deeper than football.

"Didn't work out for us and that is why we somewhat wanted to move in this direction and come up with a win-win in this situation."

Jackson added: "I am very grateful for the time that I spent playing for the LA Rams. Although this isn't the outcome that we wanted, I am extremely appreciative for the opportunity and support given to me by the Rams coaches and all of the fans.

"I understand that everything happens for a reason and I look forward to beginning the next chapter of my NFL career."

Meanwhile, the Green Bay Packers cut linebacker Jaylon Smith just weeks after signing him.

Smith – acquired by the Packers after leaving the Dallas Cowboys – only made two appearances for high-flying Green Bay, playing a total of 27 snaps.

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