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Where was Derrick Henry?

If you wondered that at times Sunday, it wasn’t your imagination.

During a loss that carried an especially bitter aftertaste and a feeling that the Titans let one slip away to the Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee’s top running back spent an inexplicably large portion of the game on the sideline.

Henry and Dion Lewis each played 30 offensive snaps Sunday, half of the Titans’ 60.

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For Henry, that was down from 61% in Cleveland.

As with any loss that easily could have been a win, there will be finger-pointing, especially when the offense struggles as it did. Chief among the gripes: the Titans continuing to under-utilize Henry. This wasn’t supposed to be a theme that lingered into 2019 for the Titans after the lessons learned in 2018.

Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) walks off the field after the team’s 19-17 loss to the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

123 Photos
Tennessee Titans host the Indianapolis Colts in the 2019 home opener
Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) walks off the field after the team’s 19-17 loss to the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

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Tennessee Titans strong safety Kenny Vaccaro (24) greets fans after the team’s 19-17 loss to the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Indianapolis Colts safety Khari Willis (37) and cornerback Kenny Moore (23) celebrate an incomplete pass intended for Tennessee Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown (11) that sealed the Titans’ 19-17 loss during the second half at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) is tackled by Indianapolis Colts defensive end Jabaal Sheard (93) and Indianapolis Colts outside linebacker Darius Leonard (53) during the fourth quarter at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Tennessee Titans kicker Cairo Santos (7) hangs his head after missing a field goal during the fourth quarter at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

A Tennessee Titans fan holds a sign in support of Tennessee Titans offensive tackle Taylor Lewan (77) who is serving a four-game suspension at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (13) pulls in a touchdown catch defended by Tennessee Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler (21) during the fourth quarter at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) chats with Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett (7) after the Colts beat the Titans 19-17 at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

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Tennessee Titans wide receiver Tajae Sharpe (19) runs off the field after the team’s 19-17 loss to the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.
Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) walks off the field after the team’s 19-17 loss to the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel shakes hands with Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich after the Colts 19-17 win at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) is escorted off the field after the team’s 19-17 loss to the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Tennessee Titans outside linebackers Kamalei Correa (44) and Harold Landry (58) celebrate Landry’s fumble recovery during the second half at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.
Indianapolis Colts cornerback Kenny Moore (23) tries to stop Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) during the second half at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Titans fans slap hands during the second half at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) moves through the Indianapolis Colts defensive line during the second half at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Indianapolis Colts cornerback Kenny Moore (23) stops Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker (82) after a catch during the second half at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Indianapolis Colts running back Jordan Wilkins (20) breaks free from the Titans defensive line and down the field during the fourth quarter at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Williams (33) tackles Tennessee Titans wide receiver Adam Humphries (10) during the fourth quarter at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Tennessee Titans linebacker Harold Landry (58) tackles Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett (7) during the fourth quarter at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Indianapolis Colts running back Marlon Mack (25) looks for his path after making a catch during the fourth quarter at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

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Indianapolis Colts running back Jordan Wilkins (20) makes his way down the field past the Titans defensive line during the fourth quarter at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota gains yards during the fourth quarter at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (13) celebrates his touchdown during the fourth quarter at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (13) pulls in a touchdown catch defended by Tennessee Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler (21) during the fourth quarter at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (13) pulls in a touchdown catch defended by Tennessee Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler (21) during the fourth quarter at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (13) celebrates his touchdown during the fourth quarter at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (13) celebrates his touchdown during the fourth quarter at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) gains yards during the fourth quarter at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

A Tennessee Titans fan holds a banner in support of Eddie George and Steve McNair whose jersey numbers were retired at halftime at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

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A Tennessee Titans fan celebrates during the second half at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

A Tennessee Titans fan celebrates during the second half at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.
Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) gains yards during the second half at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Indianapolis Colts running back Marlon Mack (25) leaves Titans defenders behind for a first down during the second half at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle (84) gets by Tennessee Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler (21) during the second half at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Titans fans watch the action during the second half at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Tennessee Titans offensive tackle Jack Conklin (78) congratulates running back Derrick Henry (22) after his touchdown during the third quarter at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) is congratulated by offensive guard Rodger Saffold (76) after his touchdown during the third quarter at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

A pass to Tennessee Titans tight end Jonnu Smith (81) is broken up by Indianapolis Colts strong safety Clayton Geathers (26) during the third quarter at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Titans owner Amy Adams Strunk hugs Titans great Eddie George during halftime ceremonies to retire his jersey number and No. 9 of the late Steve McNair at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Jersey numbers for former Tennessee Titans stars Steve McNair and Eddie George are retired during a halftime ceremony at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

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Former Titans great Eddie George speaks to the crowd during halftime ceremonies at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Former Titans great Eddie George gets emotional surrounded by Lucille McNair and Mechelle McNair, mother and widow of the late Steve McNair, as their jersey numbers are retired during halftime at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Former Titans stars pose for a group photo after halftime ceremonies at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) scrambles for yards over Indianapolis Colts cornerback Pierre Desir (35) during the second quarter at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) scrambles for yards over Indianapolis Colts cornerback Pierre Desir (35) during the second quarter at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) scrambles for yards over Indianapolis Colts cornerback Pierre Desir (35) during the second quarter at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett (7) slips away from Tennessee Titans inside linebacker Jayon Brown (55) during the second quarter at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) looks to hand off the ball during the second quarter at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) scrambles for yards during the second quarter at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Indianapolis Colts cornerback Pierre Desir (35) gains yards as Tennessee Titans strong safety Kenny Vaccaro (24) hangs on during the second quarter at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett (7) moves the ball during the first half against the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett (7) goes down after a stop in the second quarter during the second quarter against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett (7) passes during the second quarter against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel directs his team from the sideline during the first half at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett (7) slips away from Tennessee Titans nose tackle Austin Johnson (94) during the second quarter at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Parris Campbell (15) hauls in a pass from quarterback Jacoby Brissett (7) for a touchdown during the second quarter at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Parris Campbell (15) celebrates his touchdown with running back Marlon Mack (25) during the second quarter at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Parris Campbell (15) celebrates his touchdown with wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (13) during the second quarter at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Tennessee Titans offensive tackle David Quessenberry (72) celebrates his touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts during the second quarter at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Tennessee Titans offensive tackle David Quessenberry (72) makes the touchdown catch in front of Indianapolis Colts outside linebacker Darius Leonard (53) during the second quarter at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Tennessee Titans offensive tackle David Quessenberry (72) celebrates his touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts during the second quarter at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Tennessee Titans offensive tackle David Quessenberry (72) celebrates his touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts during the second quarter at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Tennessee Titans offensive tackle David Quessenberry (72) goes in for the touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts during the second quarter at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Tennessee Titans cornerback Adoree’ Jackson (25) is called for pass interference at about the 5-yard line giving the Indianapolis Colts and wide receiver Deon Cain (11) a first down during the first quarter at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Indianapolis Colts tight end Eric Ebron (85) and offensive guard Quenton Nelson (56) celebrate the touchdown against the Tennessee Titans during the first quarter at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Indianapolis Colts tight end Eric Ebron (85) rolls into the endzone for a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans during the first quarter at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker (82) gets stopped by Indianapolis Colts free safety Malik Hooker (29) during the first quarter at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) passes during the first quarter against the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Tennessee Titans wide receiver Darius Jennings (15) maneuvers through the Indianapolis Colts defense during the first quarter at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Titans line up for the National Anthem before the game at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

An American flag in the shape of the country is rolled out during the opening ceremony of the Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts game at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri (4) shakes hands with a young Titans fans before the game at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Trent McNair, son of late Titans great Steve McNair, serves as 12th Man in pregame ceremonies before the start of the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Players enter the field during the opening ceremony for the Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts game at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

An American flag in the shape of the country is rolled out during the opening ceremony of the Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts game at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

An American flag in the shape of the country is rolled out and planes perform a fly-over during the opening ceremony of the Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts game at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

An item used in the introduction for players catches fire and burns on the sidelines during the opening ceremony at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

An item used in the introduction for players catches fire and burns on the sidelines during the opening ceremony at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

An item used in the introduction for players catches fire and burns on the sidelines during the opening ceremony at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Titans personnel try to put out a fire started on the field before the start of the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Titans personnel try to put a fire on the field before the start of the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Titans personnel try to put out a fire started on the field before the start of the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

A fire burns on the field before the start of the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

A fire burns on the field before the start of the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Former Titans great Eddie George signs autographs before the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Former Titans great Eddie George holds a jacket with uniforms with his number before the game against Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Former Titans great Eddie George signs autographs before the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.
Mechelle McNair, widow of Titans great Steve McNair, hugs Titans owner Amy Adams Strunk before the start of the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Lucille McNair and Mechelle McNair chat before the Tennessee Titans game that will honor Steve McNair and Eddie George at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Tennessee Titans inside linebacker Rashaan Evans (54) takes the field before the the start of the game against Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Tennessee Titans quarterbacks Logan Woodside, Marcus Mariota and Ryan Tannenhill get pysched before the start of the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

The on-the-field thermometer shows a temperature of 117 degrees before the start of the Tennessee Titans game against the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Tennessee Titans inside linebacker Wesley Woodyard (59) takes the field before the start of the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Hyperion gestures before the start of the game between the Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Former Tennessee Titans great Eddie George takes a break before the start of the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn. His jersey number, along with the one worn by the late Steve McNair, were retired at halftime.

Tennessee Titans offensive guard Nate Davis (64) warms up before the start of the game against Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker (82) warms up before the tart of the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Andrew Prue, of Myrtle Beach, S.C., takes a selfie with former Tennessee Titan Eddie George before a game between the Tennessee Titans and the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn., Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019.
Tennessee Titans cornerback Logan Ryan (26) warms up before the start of the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Tennessee Titans free safety Kevin Byard (31) warms up before the game against Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.
Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) warms up before the start of the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Emi-lei Sodetani-Cabanilla holds up a Hawaiian flag before the start of the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Tennessee Titans linebacker Reggie Gilbert (93) warms up before the start of the game against Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) passes before the start of the game against Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.
Tennessee Titans wide receiver Tajae Sharpe (19) makes a catch before the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Tennessee Titans inside linebacker Jayon Brown (55) warms up before the game against Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Tennessee Titans linebacker Reggie Gilbert (93) warms up before the start of the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Tennessee Titans wide receiver Corey Davis (84) stretches before the start of the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Tennessee Titans cornerback Adoree’ Jackson (25) takes a drink before the start of the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Titans fans rehearse for halftime ceremonies honoring Steve McNair and Eddie George before the home opener against the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Riglee Kalliainen, 8, has his face painted before a game between the Tennessee Titans and the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn., Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019.
Hailey Butler, 13, of Nashville, rides the zipline before a game between the Tennessee Titans and the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn., Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019.
Tommy Miles, of Springfield, Tenn., who goes by “Titan Big Poppa”, sports a dyed beard before a game between the Tennessee Titans and the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn., Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019.
Dwayne Tucker, of Murfreesboro, Tenn., poses with Titans cutouts before a game between the Tennessee Titans and the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn., Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019.
Dennis Powell, of Cleveland, Tenn., sports a painted face before a game between the Tennessee Titans and the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn., Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019.
Fans gather in the fan zone before a game between the Tennessee Titans and the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn., Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019.
Kristen Lamar, of Evansville, Ind., has her face painted before a game between the Tennessee Titans and the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn., Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019.
Tennessee Titans defensive end DaQuan Jones (90) heads to the locker room early on game day against the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Tennessee Titans linebacker Daren Bates (53) heads to the locker room before the start of the home opener against the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.
Tennessee Titans defensive back Dane Cruikshank (29) heads to the locker room before the start of the home opener against the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.
Tennessee Titans offensive guard Nate Davis (64) heads to the locker room before the start of the home opener against the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Tennessee Titans cornerback Tye Smith (23) arrives before the start of the home opener against the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.
Next Slide
Not only did Henry run for 81 yards (on 15 carries), which was 72 more than Lewis, but Henry also caught one more pass – and had two more targets – than Lewis.

But it’s not about Lewis. Taking the ball out of Henry’s hands in crunch time Sunday put the onus on quarterback Marcus Mariota, and he didn’t get it done.

Why sit a productive player?
Barring some kind of health issue for Henry that we didn’t know about, sitting your most productive player for 50% of your offensive snaps didn’t make sense, even in sweltering conditions. Only playing half the time is not enough for a back as capable as Henry on most days, but especially a tight, physical game in which Tennessee led for much of the second half and Henry had the hot hand.

He carried the ball 15 times compared to Lewis’ three, thus the even timeshare tended to make the offense more predictable. In other words, if Lewis was on the field instead of Henry, it was far more likely the Titans were going to pass, while Henry’s presence indicated the Colts could expect him to run it half the time.

Henry still averaged 5.4 yards per carry against a Colts defensive front that was getting the best of a makeshift Titans offensive line for much of the game.

He ended the third quarter with runs of 11, 6 and 18 yards (which was the Titans’ longest rush of the day). He was beginning to get rolling, and the Colts defense – for one of the few times Sunday – looked as though it didn’t have an answer.

A Tennessee Titans fan holds a sign in support of Tennessee Titans offensive tackle Taylor Lewan (77) who is serving a four-game suspension at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

20 Photos
Photos: Titans fans at the season opener against the Indianapolis Colts
A Tennessee Titans fan holds a sign in support of Tennessee Titans offensive tackle Taylor Lewan (77) who is serving a four-game suspension at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

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A Tennessee Titans fan holds a banner in support of Eddie George and Steve McNair whose jersey numbers were retired at halftime at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Titans fans watch the action during the second half at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Tennessee Titans strong safety Kenny Vaccaro (24) greets fans after the team’s 19-17 loss to the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Jersey numbers for former Tennessee Titans stars Steve McNair and Eddie George are retired during a halftime ceremony at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.
Titans fans slap hands during the second half at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

A Tennessee Titans fan celebrates during the second half at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.
A Tennessee Titans fan celebrates during the second half at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Jersey numbers for former Tennessee Titans stars Steve McNair and Eddie George are retired during a halftime ceremony at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Halftime ceremonies to retire the jersey numbers of former Tennessee Titans stars Eddie George and Steve McNair at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Andrew Prue, of Myrtle Beach, S.C., takes a selfie with former Tennessee Titan Eddie George before a game between the Tennessee Titans and the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn., Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019.
Emi-lei Sodetani-Cabanilla holds up a Hawaiian flag before the start of the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Dennis Powell, of Cleveland, Tenn., sports a painted face before a game between the Tennessee Titans and the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn., Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019.
Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) takes a selfie with Sharon Baba, left, and Annalyn Ogata before the game against Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.

Hailey Butler, 13, of Nashville, rides the zipline before a game between the Tennessee Titans and the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn., Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019.
Riglee Kalliainen, 8, has his face painted before a game between the Tennessee Titans and the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn., Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019.
Dwayne Tucker, of Murfreesboro, Tenn., poses with Titans cutouts before a game between the Tennessee Titans and the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn., Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019.
Kristen Lamar, of Evansville, Ind., has her face painted before a game between the Tennessee Titans and the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn., Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019.
Tommy Miles, of Springfield, Tenn., who goes by “Titan Big Poppa”, sports a dyed beard before a game between the Tennessee Titans and the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn., Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019.
Fans gather in the fan zone before a game between the Tennessee Titans and the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn., Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019.
Next Slide
Yet in the fourth quarter, Henry received only three more carries. Meanwhile, the Titans had a drive reach the Colts’ 20 and stall without points before going three-and-out on consecutive possessions, the first with the lead and the second with the Colts having just pulled ahead 19-17 with 4:38 remaining.

Asked about the switch to Lewis to start the fourth quarter, Titans coach Mike Vrabel offered an explanation that he was essentially saving Henry to run him later in the game.
“I just figured if we were going to win the fourth quarter, we were going to win with Derrick carrying the football,” Vrabel said. “Unfortunately, it didn’t happen that way. I thought we would have the lead and have the opportunity to run him in that situation.”

The Titans did run 11 plays in the fourth quarter with the lead. Henry carried in three of them, and each of those carries was on first-and-10.

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Is Henry a game breaker?
Only a small percentage of offensive skill players in the NFL consistently have shown the ability to reshape a game, and they are so valuable because of it. If you have a running back that can be successful in any situation – even when the defense is gearing up to stop him – he should be utilized.

If we don’t yet know whether Henry is one of these players, it is largely because the Titans have made a habit out of under-utilizing him.

But we do know he’s the closest thing the Titans have to that kind of player on their offense. The moment Cleveland lost a grip on the opening game was when Henry took a short pass 75 yards for a touchdown. That was immediately after the Browns closed to within 15-13. The Titans outscored them 28-0 from that point.

For better or worse, these Titans need to embrace who they are personnel-wise. They look to be the kind of plodding, ground-and-pound, defensively strong team (especially in the secondary) that is built to thrive with a lead in the fourth quarter, wearing down an opposing side, a la Cleveland. In turn, they’ll struggle if they have to come back, which we saw against Indianapolis.

And that probably means a large dose of Henry, start to finish, is going to be the Titans’ best shot this season.

Instead, Sunday’s loss to the Colts was a step back from that.

And it wasn’t clear why.

Following their overtime loss in Week 1, the Indianapolis Colts (1-1) spent this entire week having to answer questions of “what if.” To some, the Colts could have easily won that game; to others, they rightfully lost. But none of that mattered as the AFC South competitor played in their first divisional game of the season against the Tennessee Titans (1-1) on Sunday.

It was competitive — at times ugly — yet in the end, the Colts defeated the Titans 19-17. Ranging from them being able to re-establish their successful running game to the defense slightly improving its performance, the Colts did just enough to emerge as winners.
Here are five takeaways from the Colts’ first win in 2019:
Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Oh, the Colts can actually run the ball
I questioned this entire week whether the Colts could carry over their huge running success from Week 1. Running back Marlon Mack rushed for an astonishing 174 yards against the Los Angeles Chargers, and the offensive line dominated. But would that remain against a Titans defense, who routinely produces a talented and tough front seven?

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The answer Sunday was a loud yes. Despite Mack rushing for only 51 yards, the Colts still produced 167 yards as a team. Back up Jordan Wilkins broke out a huge 55-yard run in the fourth quarter, and quarterback Jacoby Brissett had seven rushes for 25 yards.

Head coach Frank Reich has constantly expressed a serious commitment to running the ball, and the first two weeks have been great examples of that.

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Today, the Sacramento Kings announced the debut of the team’s newly formed gender inclusive hip-hop group, 916 Crew, the official date of Fan Fest where the entire roster will participate in a free event for the public as well as a number of theme nights fans can look forward to for the 2019-20 Season, the Kings 35th season in Sacramento.

“We are thrilled to announce a number of exciting entertainment elements for the upcoming season as we celebrate the 35th year of the Kings in Sacramento,” said President of Business Operations John Rinehart. “We look forward to welcoming our fans back to Golden 1 Center with a high energy line-up of entertainment including our newly formed 916 Crew, Fan Fest and an array of theme nights.”

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916 Crew Debut

The 916 Crew for the 2019-20 season represents the diversity of the Sacramento community and is composed of 25 individuals – including former Sacramento Kings Dancers and Street Team members. These individuals are employed by the Kings and will perform high energy routines during Kings games and serve as ambassadors in the Sacramento region at community events and appearances.

Earlier this summer, the Kings announced they will partner with three regional studios, Dance Elite All Stars, Hype Dance Studio and Kast Academy of the Arts, to choreograph routines for the debut season of 916 Crew.

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On Saturday, October 19, the Kings will host their annual free Fan Fest and Open Practice in anticipation of the upcoming 2019-20 season at Golden 1 Center. This all-ages event will be free and open to the public, but tickets will be required for admission. Fans can reserve up to four general admission tickets at Kings.com/FanFest. Fan Fest parking can be reserved online at reserve.sacpark.org for $5 for the West Garage. Anyone paying online will automatically pay $5, while those who pay day of will pay the listed rate.

Before and during Fan Fest on the DOCO Plaza in front of Golden 1 Center, fans can shoot hoops and listen to live DJs. Fans can also visit the Bosque in the plaza to enjoy food and beverage including new signature cocktails and a selection of flavored popcorn or items from one of DOCO’s other favorite eateries.

Season Ticket Members will have early access into the arena at 11:45 a.m. with doors opening at 12 p.m. The newly expanded Kings Street Team will be on hand, playing games with fans and passing out prizes throughout the concourse and plaza. The full Kings roster and coaching staff will participate in an open practice featuring team drills, skills challenges, a scrimmage, and the traditional rookie dance contest. Lucky fans will be selected to participate in on-court contests for the chance to win prizes. Select Kings Legends will engage with fans throughout the event. In addition, fans will have the opportunity to stock up on newly-arrived styles for the season at the Team Store, including the popular Classic Edition gear.

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Additionally, youth ages 6-14 are invited to participate in a Jr. Kings youth basketball clinic on October 19 to coincide with Fan Fest. Spots are limited and will be available for purchase at Kings.com/JrKings later this month.

2019-20 Season Select Theme Nights

Last month, the Kings announced their full season schedule, which will showcase a number of interactive and immersive theme nights. Breast Health Awareness will take place on October 28 while Salute to First Responders and Service will take place on October 30 and November 12, respectively. The team will celebrate the highly anticipated new Star Wars movie with a themed night on December 13. To continue to celebrate the first NBA games in India, the Kings will host their annual Bollywood Night on January 6. Each year the Kings shine a spotlight on Sustainability, Health and Education on the community, these games will take place on January 2, March 15 and March 29. The team will celebrate Lunar New Year on January 29, Black History Month starting on February 1, Latino Heritage on March 1, Equality Night on March 5, Slamson’s birthday on March 8 and Women of Inspiration on March 31. The team will conclude their regular season schedule with a Sixth Man Celebration on April 15. The full list of theme nights can be viewed at Kings.com/Promos.

A USA Basketball spokesman responded Saturday to comments made on ESPN suggesting Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox would not be allowed to represent Team USA in the future because he withdrew from consideration for this summer’s FIBA World Cup team.

On Thursday’s episode of “The Jump,” an ESPN panelist wondered what Fox was “saving himself for” and speculated he would not be invited back by USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo. USA Basketball communications director Craig Miller dismissed that notion, telling The Sacramento Bee that Team USA “understands De’Aaron’s decision.”

Fox and Kings teammate Marvin Bagley III were initially invited to training camp in Las Vegas as members of the Select Team, a group of younger players who gain USA Basketball experience while helping the national team prepare for competition. Due to their impressive play, Fox and Bagley were moved up to the pool of players who were evaluated for the World Cup team.

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Fox, Bagley and Kings small forward Harrison Barnes were among the final 14 players being considered for the 12-man roster. Fox and Bagley withdrew before the team headed overseas, saying they wanted to focus on the upcoming NBA season in Sacramento.

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The Kings are hoping to end a 13-year playoff drought after finishing ninth in the Western Conference last season. They will take a 19-hour flight to India for two preseason games against the Indiana Pacers on Oct. 4-5, so the travel demands would have been considerable for Fox had he accompanied Team USA to Australia and China.

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“Given De’Aaron was added into consideration for the World Cup team after originally being part of the USA Select Team in Las Vegas, USA Basketball understands De’Aaron’s decision,” Miller told The Bee.

Dozens of more established NBA stars withdrew before Fox, leaving the United States with a depleted roster. Team USA finished seventh in the tournament with an 87-74 victory over Poland on Saturday, America’s worst showing in a major tournament since NBA players were allowed to participate beginning in 1992.

Team USA’s World Cup roster featured only four of the 35 players originally selected for the player pool. The list of players who backed out included LeBron James, Stephen Curry, James Harden, Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis, Jimmy Butler, Victor Oladipo, Russell Westbrook, Damian Lillard, Bradley Beal, C.J. McCollum and Paul George.

For some reason, though, Fox was singled out in a discussion between Rachel Nichols, Richard Jefferson and Amin Elhassan on “The Jump.”

“Will De’Aaron Fox ever be able to play for the USA team?” Jefferson asked.

“No, not as long as Jerry Colangelo is in charge,” Elhassan said.

Colangelo has not publicly indicated any ill will toward Fox, but he expressed his general frustration to reporters earlier this week in China, saying, “You can’t help but notice and remember who you thought you were going to war with and who didn’t show up.”

Colangelo indicated USA Basketball would move swiftly to assemble a stronger and more stable roster for the 2020 Summer Olympics.

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FRISCO — The Stars will be without defenseman Stephen Johns for the foreseeable future.

Johns did not practice during the first day of training camp on Friday, and general manager Jim Nill said the organization wouldn’t be answering any questions about Johns until there is an update on his status.

“Stephen will not be on the ice, and moving forward, I want the focus on the players here in training camp, we will not be answering anymore questions,” Nill said. “If there’s an update, I’ll update everybody as soon as I get my information. But other than that, no other questions moving forward. I want the focus on the players here.”

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Johns missed all of last season with post-traumatic headaches and he began to feel symptoms after training camp in Boise. When healthy, Johns is a top-four defenseman for the Stars and an ideal partner for Miro Heiskanen.

But Johns hasn’t practiced with the team in nearly a year, save for two days during development camp when he skated with the Stars prospects. Development camp offered optimism for the Stars, a potential development that would make an already deep defense deeper and push players like Roman Polak and Jamie Oleksiak to roles that suited their skills.
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Instead, the Stars might be proceeding like they did last year: under the assumption that Johns won’t play.

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“I just want the focus to be on the team,” Nill said. “That’s the important thing. We’ll work with Stephen behind the scenes, but I just want to make sure the focus stays on the team.”

Without Johns, the Stars remain in a good position on the back end. Andrej Sekera was paired with Heiskanen on Friday and that duo could be one that Jim Montgomery rolls out when the regular season opens in less than three weeks.

The Stars signed Sekera over the summer after Edmonton bought out the final two years of his contract with a cap hit of $5.5 million. Dallas will pay him $1.5 million this season and potentially $500,000 more in performance bonuses.

Sekera missed time each of the last two seasons with knee and Achilles injuries and was limited to 24 games last year. He is a left-handed defenseman who can play both sides, Nill said.

“You talk about [Corey] Perry and [Joe] Pavelski, I think people are going to be surprised with what he brings,” Nill said. “He had some major injuries that take a year to heal. People are judging these guys off of two, three months when they’re not up to 100 percent. He feels fine now and he’s ready to go. He’s in a good spot.”

When the Stars signed Sekera on July 1, coach Jim Montgomery was pleased with the signing, noting two months ago that he could be a top-four option for Dallas. So what impresses him about Sekera?

“Intelligence, poise,” Montgomery said. “I’m watching him in the offensive zone and he’s so smart shooting the puck. He doesn’t shoot it all that hard, but it gets through and he just missed a couple opportunities for screened tips or goals themselves. And then his communication on rush defense. He’s a very intelligent athlete, very intelligent hockey player.”

The Stars’ defense could look like this without Johns:

Esa Lindell – John Klingberg

Miro Heiskanen – Andrej Sekera

Jamie Oleksiak – Roman Polak

Taylor Fedun

Joel Hanley, Emil Djuse, Gavin Bayreuther, Ben Gleason, Reece Scarlett and Dillon Heatherington could also be battling Fedun for a roster spot.

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He opened the scrum with a handful of noteworthy updates on three players in particular.

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To start things off, defenseman Stephen Johns will not skate or participate in training camp. Johns missed all of the 2018-19 regular season and postseason while trying to recover from post-traumatic headaches and entered the 2019 offseason on an uncertain note. While he participated in development camp with Stars prospects and skated on his own a handful of times, his status for camp, the preseason, and the 2019-20 regular season was still up in the air.

In addition, Nill stated that no more questions would be accepted or answered regarding the status of the 27-year-old defender.

“Stephen Johns will not be on the ice and moving forward, and since I’d like to focus on the players here at training camp, I will not be answering any more questions,” Nill said. “If there’s an update, I’ll update everyone as soon as I get the information. But other than that, no other questions moving forward. I want the focus on the players here and we’ll go from there.”

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Johns was a relatively regular starter on the Dallas blue line from the end of the 2015-16 season through the 2017-18 season and was in the middle of a career year under head coach Ken Hitchcock before suffering a concussion near the end of the season. He posted eight goals, 15 points, and a +10 rating in 75 games during the 2017-18 season and earned a three-year contract extension in the summer of 2018 as a result. But his last NHL action came on March 29, 2018, and he’s been dealing with injuries and setbacks since.

“I just want the focus to be on the team,” Nill said. “That’s important for me. We’ll work with Stephen behind the scenes, but I want to make sure the focus stays on the team because that’s what we’re here for.”

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Nill followed the update on Johns with a note on 23-year-old defenseman Julius Honka. The former first-round pick was assigned to Group A prior to the beginning of training camp, but was not on the ice during their session on Friday morning. The Dallas GM provided an update on why.

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“I talked to Julius Honka’s agent last night – as you probably see, he’s not on the ice – and he’s asked to get traded,” Nill said. “I’ve told his representatives that we’ll see where that goes. I’ve been talking to teams and we know their stance. Julius felt that it was probably not proper to be here and be a distraction, so I respect that. But that’s where we stand.”
Honka was selected 14th overall by the Dallas Stars in the 2014 NHL Draft and made his NHL debut with the team in Nov. 2016. But through three different coaching staffs and various NHL stints over the past three seasons, he’s yet to cement a spot in the starting lineup.

“I think there’s probably things on both sides,” Nill said about why Honka couldn’t find a fit in Dallas. “Did we handle him right at times? Yes and no, we don’t know. It’s on the player, too. You get an opportunity, and sometimes things don’t work out. There’s different personalities, but that’s sports and that’s life. Some people fit in and some don’t.”

The defender last played a game for the Stars on Jan. 15 against the Tampa Bay Lightning before serving as a healthy scratch for the remainder of the regular season and playoffs. He finished the season with no goals and four points in 29 games played.

Trade rumors involving Honka arose during the 2019 NHL Draft and have stayed prevalent throughout the summer. Now, Nill is simply looking for a trade partner.

“I’ve been talking to teams and we talk all the time. Right now, the League is in a real, I guess you could say shutdown mode. All of these restricted free agents that haven’t signed have really slowed the League down. Right now, teams have their hands tied. There are teams that I have talked to that might have interest, but until they know what they can do with their RFAs, they can’t make any moves. We’ll play this out and see where it goes. In the end, I just have to make sure I do what’s right for the organization.” –Jim Nill on what goes into trading Honka
To top off the updates, Nill stated that Corey Perry would miss the next two weeks with a small fracture in his foot. He will be re-evaluated two weeks from now and is expected to start skating then, assuming everything heals properly.
“Corey Perry has a small fracture in his foot and he’ll be re-evaluated in two weeks,” Nill said. “He should be skating after that, but it depends on how it heals. He will not be on the ice for probably two weeks and we’ll do another image on it in two weeks. He took a fall on his foot and tried to get his skates on, but couldn’t do it. He’ll be missing the first part of camp. This happened on Wednesday.”

Perry was signed by the Dallas Stars as a free agent on July 1 after spending the first 14 years of his career with the Anaheim Ducks. He missed the majority of the 2018-19 season with an MCL and meniscus injury that he sustained while warming up in a preseason game. The 34-year-old played in 31 games this past season, tallying six goals and 10 points.

“I’m not too concerned,” Nill said about Perry’s status. “Corey Perry has been around a long time and he’s trained hard this summer. He wants to play as much as anybody, but it is what it is. We can’t control it and it’s happened, so we move on and go from there. But he’s in great shape, he already knows the system well, and he’s been skating with these players for the last two or three weeks anyways, so he’s got a good feel for them. Like I said, it’s something we can’t control, so we just move on.”

Perry is expected to be a low-risk, high-reward signing for the Dallas Stars. His resume is covered in various awards and accolades (as well as a Stanley Cup championship) and he’s proven to be a determined winner in his time in the NHL.

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And while there’s a chance that he will be ready for opening night, Nill is excited to see the Stars’ younger players and prospects take advantage of the open spot in the roster.

“I think it’s another opportunity for a younger guy. [Perry] may be ready for the start of the season, but we’ll know after two weeks. It all depends on how the bone heals. It’s a small bone in the foot and nothing major. But it’s an opportunity for other players. We just got back from Traverse City at the prospects tournament, and our players played very well there. I’m excited about the youngsters coming up, the kids we signed as free agents, and the guys coming up from Texas. I think we’re in a good spot. We have as much depth as we’ve ever had and now we have to go do it.” –Nill on the opportunity presented to younger players
Two weeks from Friday would pin Perry’s re-evaluation around Sep. 27. That’s six days before the Stars open the 2018-19 season against the Boston Bruins, so his status for game one could fall either way.

NEXT: Setting The Bar For Ben Bishop’s 2019-20 Campaign
The weekend is off to a fast start at the Comerica Center in Frisco as the Stars prepare for the 2019-20 regular season, and things are just getting started.

 

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With two weeks left in what was supposed to be a fun season for the Philadelphia Phillies, the team is 4.5 games out of the second wild-card spot and facing an uphill battle to make the playoffs.

The Phillies’ situation got even worse on Sunday, when they lost 6-3 to the Boston Red Sox at home at Citizens Bank Park. Not around for the end of the game was star outfielder Bryce Harper or manager Gabe Kapler, thanks to a wonderfully petty series of events.

Bryce Harper ejected in costly loss for Phillies
The $330 million man was rung up in the fourth inning after home-plate umpire Gabe Morales punched him out on a fastball that looked clearly inside. Thing is, Harper’s ejection didn’t come after an argument immediately following the call.

No, Harper had to double-check something before he was ready to completely call out Morales.

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From MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand:

“I disagreed with that call, kind of looked back at him and said, ‘Hey, that’s not a strike,’” Harper said. “He kind of looked at me like, ‘Yeah, all right, stupid.’ Just that look. I went back and thought, ‘Maybe he’s right.’”

Harper raced back to the video room to take another look, but the video only reinforced his belief that Morales had blown the call. Harper returned to the dugout during Rhys Hoskins’ at-bat, during which he barked toward the plate, “Not even [expletive] close,” prompting Morales to eject him immediately.

Few sequences can capture Bryce Harper’s energy as much as that.

An incensed Kapler was then ejected after giving Morales a piece of his mind.

Bryce Harper’s day ended early Sunday. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Bryce Harper’s day ended early Sunday. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Harper was unsurprisingly unamused by the incident after the game, saying Morales simply needs to be better at his job:

“Especially in these games right now, you have to be better back there,” Harper said. “You’ve got to be better. It’s not like they’re not going to make mistakes; I miss heaters down the middle, too. It’s part of it. Just in these games right now, you have to be better.”

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It was a tough day overall for the 76-72 Phillies, who lost a game in the wild-card standings due to the Chicago Cubs’ 16-6 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates. They had only a 2.1 percent chance of making the playoffs entering Sunday, according to Baseball Prospectus, and might have lost a solid chunk of that.

If they want to mount some kind of miracle run, a hot streak from Harper is probably one of the best ways to do it. They just need him in for the whole game to make that possible.

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With the Phillies’ remote wild-card chances being further vaporized Sunday, Bryce Harper and Gabe Kapler got ejected in the fourth inning against the Boston Red Sox.

Harper didn’t agree with a called third strike from home-plate umpire Gabe Morales. After expressing his displeasure, Harper returned to the dugout and appeared to continue hollering at Morales, who booted him from the game.

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Kapler charged onto the field to defend Harper got immediately tossed. Before leaving the field, Kapler gestured emphatically at Morales.

The Phillies were trailing 5-1 at the time. Left-hander Jason Vargas, who entered with a 5.01 ERA and no wins in eight starts since being acquired in a July 29 trade with the New York Mets, gave up a grand slam to Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez in the third inning.

It marked Harper’s 13th career ejection and second of the season. The other came in New York on April 22, also over a called third strike. After that game, a 5-1 loss to the Mets, Phillies starter Jake Arrieta criticized the star right fielder for losing his cool.

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“He’s got to understand we need him in right field,” Arrieta said. “I don’t care how bad the umpire is. He wasn’t great for either side. I’m out there trying to make pitches, and he misses some calls. So what? We need him out there. I need him in right field, I need him at the plate, and he wasn’t there. So that hurts.”

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The San Francisco 49ers are finishing up practices for the week and we have an idea of who will be there and who won’t be. Jason Verrett, who was out in Week 1, is a sure thing, while Tevin Coleman continues to rehab his ankle injury.

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Then there’s Nick Bosa. He played in the opener, got a bit sore, and hasn’t been practicing most of this week. He managed to get one practice in and is listed as questionable on the injury report but the fact remains, the ankle is bothersome.

He had a hell of a debut to the NFL; getting one sack, three quarterback hits, and being a wall on defense all day against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

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Bosa hit a high ankle sprain to start training camp and while he managed Week 1, those high ankle sprains can take forever before you’re 100 percent—and you don’t want to make it worse. 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said that he wants to see Bosa practice so at least that box is checked.

Keep in mind, part of the reason the 49ers were cautious with Bosa was because of the turf the 49ers practiced on. The team is in Youngstown, Ohio, trying to reduce the tear that going back and forth from east to west coast can provide. That has a hand in it, but the fact remains, Bosa did not practice.

The Bengals also play on turf which is going to be none too kind to an ankle injury. Given the Bengals injuries, and Bosa’s ankle sprain, is it worth it to put him on the turf Sunday? Or would you shut him down for Week 2 so he’s healthy against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the home opener? The one question (and doctors obviously know more than I do) is can this turf add an extra probability that he can suffer something more devastating? Is it worth it?

If you were Kyle Shanahan, would you shelf Bosa for a week?

I am not among those of my era who are amazed that the Rolling Stones are still touring energetically at carbon-dateable age, but I know I am in the minority here, and I recognize power when I see it. So when the Stones condemned their recent experience playing the 49ers’ stadium, the implication was clear.

The 49ers should move.

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The team, which built and owns the stadium, located it within the confines of the city of Santa Clara, where its headquarters have been for decades. But until the stadium was built, city and company got along well enough. Since then, though, they have enjoyed a hate-hate relationship so vicious that they don’t even hide it anymore. They’ve fought over adjacent soccer fields, curfews, taxes, zoning, ingress, egress and engaged in hilarious and mutual snottiness toward each other. The stadium, once hailed as a triumph, is now condemned as a terrible alternative to Candlestick Park, whose best day was the day it was collapsed. It’s hot in the sun, and the turf is bad in the rain, and it’s empty in all conditions. Jed York looked like a genius, and five years later he looks like pre-stadium Jed again.

Indeed, Oakland and the Raiders got along far better, even while the football team was leaving. Beat that with a stick.

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So with the caveat that not every situation is the same, maybe it’s time after all these years (five) for an annulment. I mean, if you can’t make Mick Jagger happy, what is the point of any relationship?

True, the 49ers would be leaving their own stadium, and true, there isn’t a lot of open space between where Candlestick was and Levi’s is, but it isn’t like there aren’t places out there that would debase themselves for a stadium. Besides, who wouldn’t like a team leaving its own home because they think the neighbors suck, while the neighbors are offering to put up the For Sale signs on their own dime?

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Toward that end, my first solution: Las Vegas. When the Raiders were trying to figure out their stadium problem (which is to say, before they bamboozled Sheldon Adelson), they were always earmarked by people who didn’t understand either team’s leadership to become subtenants of the 49ers. It is to Mark Davis’s credit (yeah, yeah, shut up) that he refused. But it seems right and proper to subject Jed York to that same level of humiliation, making him the guy who has to pay rent to the guy who didn’t want to pay rent to him.

Second: Oakland. The advantage is that they would be moving closer to their actual fan base, and to an old/borderline decrepit stadium which would remind them of the place where they knew their finest glories. In addition, it would drive the A’s nuts yet again, since they are this close to finally having the town to themselves, and we could listen to a few more years of football players bitching about the evils of infield dirt. The disadvantage is that the 49ers might be actually playing a game when the city implodes the place, and while the NFL can endure rescheduling games due to weather, doing so due to rubble would be a rougher optic.

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Third: Los Angeles. The idea of Jed getting last choice on everything after Stan Kroenke and Dean Spanos is hilarious on its face, and the three guys could split the cost of begging the Stones to return. Besides, every team in the NFL will eventually be based in Los Angeles for network ease, so why not jumpstart that process? The NFL put a game in Winnipeg on an 80-yard field, so overcrowding is clearly not an issue.

Fourth: Treasure Island. The artificial island built in 1939 and which currently holds up the middle of the Bay Bridge is technically a part of San Francisco. But getting there and leaving there would be an ordeal that would make getting in and out of the Santa Clara yard resemble the Star Trek transporter, and besides, global warming is going to swamp the whole thing in 20 years anyway and we’ll be right back where we started, with a stadium with half its seats in a flash-fryer.

Fifth: St. Louis. This would simply be more needless punishment for a city that doesn’t deserve it.

Sixth: Mendocino County. If the league ever relents on marijuana as a pain medication, the 49ers can corner the market on Day One, a competitive advantage that would make Jerry Jones’s brain explode. That, we can all agree, is a desirable outcome under any circumstance.

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As the Arizona Cardinals head to Baltimore to take on the Ravens, they do so mostly healthy.

That will be important for the team as they look to take on a very talented Baltimore Ravens team.

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However, the Cardinals may catch a break as a number of Ravens are likely to play, but may be a bit slow or hobbled on Sunday.

Here is the final injury report for the week before the official inactives are announced on Sunday.

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Lamont Gaillard will miss his second game in a row, but there is a chance that Jonathan Bullard, who had 15 snaps in his first game in a Cardinals jersey, could play this Sunday.

Everyone else is a full go for the Cardinals.

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Meanwhile, the Ravens will be without Jimmy Smith, while Mark Andrews and Marquise Brown were not part of practice on Friday for the Ravens.

They are both likely to play on Sunday, but could be a bit hobbled.

Let’s go Cardinals.

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Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) watches from the sidelines during the second half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Larry Fitsgerald Sr. was a sports writer in Minneapolis, Minnesota for 40 years. He must have taught his son, Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald, a few tricks.

The legendary wide out wrote an article that was published in Sports Illustrated last Friday. He discussed how sport can lead to greater understanding of oneself and others, even opponents.

The piece, “How sports can help America heal,” touches on the hostility in the US between people with differences of opinions and how the team mentality could bring people closer.
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“I try not to get political because you’ll piss 50 percent of the population off if you go politics,” Fitzgerald said on Thursday. “But I think sports have an interesting way of bringing people together. It doesn’t matter your color, race, religion, everybody likes sports.

“As you can see in this locker room, there is an eclectic group of people from all over the country, all over the world. And you get along for one common goal and I think that is unique in sports.”

Fitzgerald also makes references to teams and chemistry.

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He wrote on how teammates of all backgrounds have to find ways to coexist because they all have a common goal — winning.

Listening to one another and settling differences that could divide teams is vital in sports, so his philosophy is that the country could take those lessons and become more united.

“A roadmap for a nation that can be even better as it harnesses the power of its most valuable resources—all of us,” Fitzgerald wrote.

This was the second time that Fitzgerald was published in Sports Illustrated (his last article was in 2017). According to him, this won’t be his last.
“I have a couple more pieces coming as the year goes on,” Fitzgerald said. “They told me I could write and being around journalists my whole life, I picked up a few things.”

 

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The Dallas Cowboys had a dozen players appear on their final injury report. But how many are in danger of missing their Week two matchup?
After a stellar showing in their regular-season opener, the Dallas Cowboys are hoping to defy lofty expectations in Week Two against yet another NFC East rival, the 0-1 Washington Redskins.

The Cowboys were able to put on an offensive onslaught against the New York Giants last weekend, beating the G-Men in Arlington to the tune of 35-17. While the Redskins led the Philadelphia Eagles 20-7 through the first half in their Week One matchup in Philly, only to allow the Birds to come back in the second half and hand Washington a loss.

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Now, these divisional foes will face each other in a Week Two battle at FedExField, the home of the Redskins in Landover, Maryland. But the Cowboys will have to go to war without a couple of their players.

On the Cowboys’ final injury report, a whopping 12 names were listed for America’s Team. They included wide receiver Tavon Austin (concussion), wide receiver Randall Cobb (rib), wide receiver Amari Cooper (foot), defensive end Tyrone Crawford (hip), linebacker Luke Gifford (ankle), safety Jeff Heath (knee), tight end Blake Jarwin (foot), linebacker Sean Lee (knee/NIR), guard Zack Martin (back), offensive tackle Tyron Smith (back), safety Darian Thompson (ankle), and safety Donovan Wilson (ankle).

Out of the dozen players appearing on the Cowboys’ final injury report, only Tavon Austin and Luke Gifford have been designated as out for the game. The rest were able to be full participants in practice on Friday expect for Darian Thompson and Donovan Wilson, who were both limited. Veteran linebacker Sean Lee did not practice on Friday (non-injury related) after being a full participant on both Wednesday and Thursday.

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For the Redskins, defensive linemen Jonathan Allen (knee) and Caleb Brantley (foot) plus running back Derrius Guice (knee) and quarterback Colt McCoy (fibula) have been officially ruled out for the game. Cornerback Quinton Dunbar (knee) has been listed as questionable while fellow corner Fabian Moreau (ankle) is doubtful.

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The possibility of the Dallas Cowboys trading with the Miami Dolphins for Minkah Fitzpatrick has been just one more topic generating buzz this week. There is another, somewhat related trade story as well, and is the persistent rumors the team cutting ties with former first-round pick Taco Charlton. That may actually be the far more likely one, as the trade demands for Fitzpatrick are reportedly rather high, and there could be 30 other teams interested in his services. Charlton himself is lending a certain credibility to the idea his days with Dallas being numbered.
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This would be a major decision for the Cowboys, who value draft capital greatly and take great pride in making good picks. It would be an admission they got this one wrong. On the other hand, it also indicates that they believe their defensive line group is so strong that they don’t need to hang onto Charlton and wait for him to develop.

Most importantly, it would point to real change in the approach of the front office. One that goes hand-in-hand with the decision during the offseason to part with Scott Linehan and promote Kellen Moore in his place. And there is more than one component to that.

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The first is a more hard line, results-driven decision process. In the past, the team has been, at times, overly loyal to both coaches and players that have not produced. That is possibly a component in giving Linehan one more shot last year. Muddying that take is how Linehan seemed to really be selling the problems of the offense in 2017 as more driven by injury and some failings of his subordinates, with the latter paying the price in a general housecleaning below him. Even in light of those arguments that he advanced, the top management and head coach seemed to grant him more leeway than is perhaps wise in the “what have you done for me lately” world of the NFL.
That same thing has been seen regarding past high draft picks that underperformed. The team kept them when the roster spot might have been better used to develop new talent – although in the past, that talent may not have been attractive or promising enough to force their hands. This season, the Cowboys roster appears to be one of the deepest and most talented in a long time. Many have ranked it as one of the elite squads, top to bottom, in the league. While the game against the New York Giants is the smallest of sample sizes, it did nothing to disprove that idea. Arguably the deepest position on the entire team is defensive end. When Robert Quinn returns next week from suspension, the staff has to decide who to release to make room. The signposts increasingly point to Charlton being the logical choice. That assumes they believe Charlton’s strong performance in preseason is just not likely to carry over into regular season games. His being inactive last week could be taken as proof of that.

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The other thing this says is that the Cowboys are all in on this being the year they can make a run at a sixth Lombardi. That is a logical influence in both the Moore promotion and a possible moving on from Charlton. They are firing every round in the magazine to make it happen.

And in both cases, the available options played a big part. Hiring Moore as the new quarterbacks coach showed they believed he had real potential. He had to have shown them something to make him the OC with so little experience. Giving him that first year to prove himself might have been a consideration in retaining Linehan one more season as well. They didn’t feel comfortable in giving the job to such a neophyte right off the bat – who would? But seeing him at work in practice, meetings, and games must have reassured them that he had the stuff to handle things this year.

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The logic with Charlton seems to be that Quinn, Kerry Hyder, Dorance Armstrong, and Joe Jackson all have more to offer in proven potential and/or expected growth. Don’t forget they also have Jalen Jelks stashed on IR. Charlton may have gained the dreaded label of “progress stopper.” That may be the real driver here.

Some may see releasing Charlton as a failure. But he is now a sunk cost, and the best way to approach these things is to disregard that draft capital that is now long gone, and evaluate things strictly on current and projected value. That is smart roster management. The Cowboys have been doing a lot of that of late. You still always seek to improve the process. This seems to fit exactly that.

Now the caveat: Nothing has been done yet, and we may just be misreading the indicators. Also, that dreaded injury threat is always out there. We don’t want to see that make the decision for Dallas, but Charlton is probably a better option in that case than whomever they could try and replace him with.

If his time with Dallas is ending, the team is probably working to get some kind of draft pick back in a trade. But if nothing appealing materializes, then they can just release him outright and move on.

That is not how they have always done things. But this year, with what may be a golden opportunity given what the offense appears to be becoming, it is the way to go now. If Charlton leaves, we should all wish him the best and hope he finds some success in another uniform. The Cowboys just have to focus on what is best for the team.