The NFL notebook …
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. ó John Abraham only shrugged when asked what the Carolina Panthers can expect from the Atlanta Falcons’ pass rush.
“It’s all about matchups,” the Falcons defensive end said Monday. “So if the matchup is on the other side, I’ll go to the other side. Whatever works.”
Everything seems to be working just fine this season for Abraham, who leads the NFL with six sacks and has 16 in his last 18 games.
When the Falcons (2-1) visit the Panthers (2-1) on Sunday, Abraham really won’t really care if defensive line coach Ray Hamilton lines him up opposite left tackle Jordan Gross or rookie right tackle Jeff Otah.
Abraham is coming off a two-sack performance in Atlanta’s 38-14 victory against Kansas City. The second time he mauled Chiefs quarterback Tyler Thigpen, Abraham forced his second fumble this season and 29th of his 100-game career.
With 73.5 career sacks and now in the third season of a six-year, $45 million contract, Abraham has the numbers to prove his place among the league’s elite defensive ends.
Running back Clinton Portis parked his burgundy Toyota pickup truck at Redskins Park Monday with a unique new paint job that served as a tribute to Sean Taylor, the Redskins safety who was slain at his Florida home last year. The truck has a portrait of Taylor, wearing a bandana around his head, on the back tailgate with the inscriptions “4-1-83,” Taylor’s date of birth, and “11-27-07,” the day he died.
JETSThe New York Jets re-signed recently released punter Ben Graham in time for him to play in the team’s Monday night game against the San Diego Chargers.
Graham was cut last Tuesday after getting off to a poor start in his fourth season with the Jets. New York signed journeyman Reggie Hodges to replace him, but Hodges injured his left thigh in practice late last week and was ruled out for the game at San Diego.
TEXANSCoach Gary Kubiak reiterated his faith in Matt Schaub, who has thrown five interceptions and one touchdown in Houston’s first two games ó both losses.
Kubiak said everyone, including Schaub, needs to improve.
“In this business every person, whether they’re playing or coaching, if they’re not doing their job then there’s a chance they could be replaced,” Kubiak said. “But when I look at the big picture, if I felt like one player was the reason why we were not succeeding, then that would be easy. But I don’t see it that way. I see a lot of reasons we’re not succeeding and we all need to fix those issues.”
RAVENSThe Ravens have a new head coach and the same old defense, which helps explain why they’re unbeaten and alone atop the AFC North.
The Ravens have long relied on their defense to win, and that formula hasn’t changed under first-year coach John Harbaugh. Baltimore (2-0) has allowed only two touchdowns, forced five turnovers and surrendered 161.5 yards per game.
BUCSA 27-24 overtime victory at Chicago was first time the Bucs (2-1) rallied from a deficit of 10 points or more to win since Dec. 12, 1999, when they beat the Detroit Lions 23-16 after falling behind 10-0. They had to throw like crazy to do it.
Brian Griese was 38-of-67, setting a franchise record for pass attempts in a game, He also shrugged off three interceptions to improve to 2-0 since replacing Jeff Garcia’s as Tampa Bay’s starter.
“He was great down the stretch. It’s hard to duplicate that. It’s hard beat what he did the last 25 or 30 minutes of the game,” Gruden said Monday.
RAMSAfter another excruciating, embarrassing loss, this time in Seattle, the Rams find themselves again searching for answers to an ever-mounting pile of problems.
“Losing is disappointing and the way our team is playing is disappointing, the way we are coaching and everything,” coach Scott Linehan said. “I would say everybody that’s playing for us is hand-picked by us and so we are at the no-excuse time. It’s time to perform.”
RAIDERSALAMEDA, Calif. ó Lane Kiffin is back at work Monday as Oakland Raiders coach despite more reports that his firing could be imminent.
Speaking at his weekly news conference, Kiffin says he will assume he is still the head coach until owner Al Davis tells him otherwise. Kiffin says he has not spoken to Davis since before the season opener against Denver on Sept. 8.
Reports about Kiffin’s firing first surfaced on the eve of the second game of the season against Kansas City. The team has refused to deny the reports, but Kiffin has remained the coach.