Education

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The first meeting of the Polk Retired Educators Association (PREA) was kicked off by the new President, Andrea Sorrells, who discussed the plans for the new season.

The Kansas City Chiefs have a 2-0 record with two quality victories that have vaulted them into the NFL's upper class early in the season. Perhaps the biggest pleasant surprise for Andy Reid's team has been the play on the offensive side of the ball.

Big plays in the run game with rookie Kareem Hunt and in an Alex Smith-led vertical passing game have been terrific developments. They suddenly look like one of the more offensively dynamic teams in football right now.

But there's some firepower defensively, too, and there's one cog on that side of the ball that maybe is just now starting to get the national attention he deserves.

"Can we talk about 95 please?" one pro scout texted us this week.

That would be the uniform number for Chiefs DE Chris Jones, who was a one-man wrecking crew in Week 2 against the Philadelphia Eagles. Jones logged three sacks, two forced fumbles and an athletic interception in the win and was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week for his work. Perhaps he's becoming more of a household name as we write this.

But it's also the way Jones has done it. The Chiefs still are managing his worload a bit, as he was on the field for only 32 of the 72 defensive snaps. That's 44 percent of the game he played, and Jones racked up more stats in that game than many 310-pound defensive linemen collect in an entire season. Jones was on the field for 48-of-81 snaps in the opener against the Patriots, bringing his two-week workload percentage to just over 52.

One reason why they're keeping him on a snap count is that Jones is coming off knee surgery that forced him to miss a big chunk of training camp as he worked his way back to health. It's possible that he starts logging 60 percent or more of the snaps in time, perhaps after the team's Week 10 bye. The Chiefs face a gauntlet of excellent offensive lines in the games leading up to that.

"Imagine what he does [later in the season]," the scout continued. "He's a scheme wrecker. He's going to be a problem."

It doesn't hurt that the Chiefs' next three opponents — the Los Angeles Chargers, Washington Redskins and Houston Texans — have had their share of offensive line concerns this season.

"Play him over the center, play him at the 5 [technique], it doesn't matter," the scout noted. "They have the depth to move him around a little and make him dangerous at any spot. Big guy who moves so well [and] plays with a lot of power."

Justin Houston is also off to a phenomenal start this season, and he has a chance to be a Defensive Player of the Year candidate if he keeps it up. But if Jones keeps trending upward as he has, he too should get that same consideration. The Chiefs also expect to get Tamba Hali back at some point as well, so the front seven is looking like a potential powerhouse of a unit.

We hear that Jones has developed from his first to his second year in a number of ways, but so far the team has been very pleased at his snap-to-snap consistency and effort. There were times last season, as much as he flashed, that Jones still appeared to either wear down or take plays off.

Jones also was said to come out of college with some immaturity issues, which might have caused him to fall just out of Round 1. But he's now starting to realize, after just turning 23 in July, that he can be a dominant force — even with less than a full game's worth of snaps.

  • Steve Batterson sbatterson@qctimes.com
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Four things the football teams from Iowa and Penn State can do to put themselves in a position to win Saturday night at Kinnick Stadium:

Chad Greenway will be a busy man Saturday. In addition to being the sixth former Hawkeye to be inducted on the America Needs Farmers Wall of Honor at Kinnick Stadium, he will also be Iowa’s honorary captain for the game against Penn State.

The Pro Football Weekly Fantasy Football podcast is back with our Week 3 game-by-game breakdown. Hosts Arthur Arkush, John Sahly and Kyle Nabors go over their favorite plays from Week 3. Plus we make our bold calls! 

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It might be a while before we get another game as exciting as the USC's 27-24 victory over Texas on Saturday night. The fourth quarter and overtime of that game was as good as it gets.

With only one matchup between teams in the top 30 slated this week, I thought I would outline some players to watch on TV this weekend.

If you want to see one of the better edge pass rushers who could be in the 2018 draft, check out Syracuse at LSU at 6 p.m. Central time Saturday on ESPN2. LSU’s Arden Key is tall, long and athletic, which is just what most NFL clubs want. Key missed the first two LSU games this season because of a shoulder injury, but played this past week and had a half-sack in limited reps. He should get more work this week, as he needs to be ready for tough SEC games.

LSU also has a pretty good running back to check out in junior Derrius Guice. If Guice enters the draft, he will be one of the first running backs selected. Through three games, Guice has run for 300 yards and four touchdowns. Although Guice doesn’t have the size of former teammate Leonard Fournette, he may be just as physical a runner.

Another top pass rusher to watch is North Carolina State’s Bradley Chubb. It won’t be an easy game for Chubb, as NC State plays at Florida State at 11 a.m. Central on Saturday on ABC. Chubb is an ideal 4-3 defensive end, but he also has the athleticism to play on his feet in a 3-4.

Ohio State has it easy this week hosting UNLV. That means defensive end Tyquan Lewis could have a big day. Lewis has not lit it up so far this year the way many thought he would, so this game is an opportunity for him to get going in the right direction.

In the preseason, Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph got nowhere near the publicity passers like Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold and Josh Allen did, yet through three games he has outplayed them all. He has completed 72.3 percent of his passes for 1,135 yards, 11 touchdowns and only one interception in his first three games. Although he didn’t get the preseason publicity, he sure is getting it now and is currently one of the favorites for the Heisman Trophy.

Oklahoma State also has a big time receiver in senior James Washington, who has a combination of size, speed and toughness. In three games, Washington has 13 receptions for 367 yards and three touchdowns. That’s a whopping 28.2 yards per catch!

Oklahoma State hosts TCU Saturday afternoon on at 2:30 p.m. Central on ESPN. It is the only game between ranked teams this week.

Inside linebackers don’t often get the publicity they deserve by the draft analysts because it isn’t always a premium position come draft day. Still, they are an important part of any club's defense, and teams are always looking for good ones. One of the best in the country is Virginia’s Micah Kizer, who already has 36 tackles and 5 sacks in just three games. If you want to see Kiser, check him out at 7 p.m. Friday on ESPN2 versus Boise State.

Another top inside linebacker to watch is USC’s Cam Smith. Smith is a junior with size, strength, speed and instincts. While he doesn’t have the production numbers like Kiser, he isn’t far behind. USC plays at Cal at 2:30 p.m. Central on Saturday on ABC. While you’re watching Smith, don’t forget to look closely at QB Sam Darnold, who had some outstanding throws late in the game versus Texas. 

  • JOEY WAGNER Herald & Review
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Herald & Review Illini Weekly features conversations with Herald & Review Executive Sports Editor Mark Tupper talking all things Illini.

  • By Austin Bornheim austinb@thedailytimes.com
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KNOXVILLE — The Southeastern Conference has plenty of good running backs. Historically it always does, and this year is no different.

  • CODY BASHORE Sun Sports Editor
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After Western Illinois controlled the clock for nearly two-thirds of Northern Arizona’s home opener two weeks ago, the Lumberjacks will face a similar battle against the Cal Poly Mustangs on Saturday in California.

  • Maria McIlwain mmcilwain@themercury.com
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Potential game-changing opportunities slipped through Kansas State players’ fingers — sometimes literally — in the Wildcats’ 14-7 loss against Vanderbilt on Saturday.

Utah always has stellar special teams under Whittingham. The Utes’ punter, Mitch Wishnowsky, is a legitimate weapon.

Other than in practice, Arizona hasn’t faced a quarterback quite like Utah’s new starter, Tyler Huntley.

LAKE FOREST, Ill. — The Chicago Bears have a wide receiver problem, and the Pittsburgh Steelers don’t.

That is why Markus Wheaton — who will apparently make his Bears debut Sunday when the Steelers come to town — is a Bear and it is why Bears fans surveying the Steelers sideline on Sunday should be and probably will be green with envy.

Another new, and wounded, Bear who is also likely to debut in front of the home folks this week, cornerback Prince Amukamara, had this to say Thursday about Pittsburgh’s embarrassment of pass-catching riches.

“Those receivers, Martavis (Bryant) and Antonio (Brown), both amazing.

“I like to use the term that they’re both No. 1 guys on the outside.

“And JuJu (Smith Schuster) and No. 17 (Eli Rogers), they’re all good. No matter where a receiver lines up, it’s not going to be a down to take off.

“We’re always going to have to have our ‘A’ game.”

Amukamara may have given Bryant top billing, but Brown has had three straight All-Pro seasons and, along with Julio Jones, is one of the two best receivers in the game.

Bryant, on the other hand, is the main reason Wheaton is a Bear.

Although the Steelers had high hopes for Wheaton when they drafted him in the third round four seasons ago, at 6-4, 211 pounds, Bryant, originally a fourth-round pick, has 4.4 40 speed and the ability to compete with Brown and Jones for the title of the NFL’s best if he can overcome a list of off-the-field issues.

Wheaton can be very good but has not shown that high a ceiling, and injuries have derailed his career since the Steelers drafted him.

With Bryant returning from a yearlong suspension last season due to substance abuse problems, the Steelers were quite comfortable letting Wheaton try and get healthy elsewhere.

While it will be exciting to see what Wheaton can do Sunday and going forward, his story to date sadly seems to be the theme of a long running problem for the Bears at the position.

Dating back to the Bears' last Super Bowl appearance, following the 2006 season, the best they have have been able to do at the position has been Bernard Berrian, Earl Bennett, Johnny Knox, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and fliers on Roy Williams and ex-Steeler Santonio Holmes after their best football was behind them.

Only Marshall and Jeffery paid any significant dividends on the field, but Marshall hurt the team off the field as much as he helped on it, and Jeffery spent a portion of his time in Chicago figuring out how to leave.

During that same time period, in addition to their current group, the Steelers have had potential Hall Of Famer Hines Ward, Holmes when he was winning a Super Bowl for them, Emmanuel Sanders, Mike Wallace, Nate Washington and Jericho Cotchery.

For a decade, as good as the Steelers have been at wide receiver, the Bears have been that weak.

As outstanding as Ben Roethlisberger has been, his targets have been a huge part of it, and as disappointing as Jay Cutler was, his lack of weapons were always part of the problem.

To Bears fans upset and disappointed that Mike Glennon is struggling and Mitch Trubisky isn’t being given a chance yet, their paltry receiver group is a huge part of the problem.

When Big Ben has been banged up, Pittsburgh has won with guys like Charlie Batch and Landry Jones because of the strength of their receiving corps.

Le’Veon Bell is a great running back in part because the Steelers outstanding receiver group prohibits defenses from loading the box to stop him.

Jordan Howard can be a great running back, but he is struggling now because defenses can stack to stop him without worrying about where Bears receivers are.

All of that is why the Steelers are once again playing for bonus time in January, and the Bears are once again playing for their jobs.