Brain may know your dead after you die, study suggests

Oct 19, 2017 12

Driven by ambition and curiosity to learn what lies on the other side of death, five medical students deliberately stop their hearts in order to experience “the afterlife” in the new thriller “Flatliners” (Sony Pictures), which opened in U.S. theaters on Sept. 29.

They quickly discover that there are unexpected and terrible consequences of dallying with death — but not everything they experience after “dying” is in the realm of science fiction. A growing body of research is charting the processes that occur after death, suggesting that human consciousness doesn’t immediately wink out after the heart stops, experts say.   

But what really happens in the body and brain in the moments after cardiac arrest?

The terms “cardiac arrest” and “heart attack” are frequently used interchangeably, but they are not identical conditions, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). During a heart attack, a blocked artery prevents blood from reaching a portion of the heart, which can cause that section to die — though the heart continues to beat, the AHA explained.

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During cardiac arrest, the electrical signals driving the heart’s pumping action are disrupted, the heart ceases beating and death shortly follows, the AHA said.

In the vast majority of terminal cases, physicians medically define death based on when the heart no longer beats, said Dr. Sam Parnia, director of critical care and resuscitation research at NYU Langone School of Medicine in New York City.

“Technically speaking, that’s how you get the time of death — it’s all based on the moment when the heart stops,” he told Live Science.

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Once that happens, blood no longer circulates to the brain, which means brain function halts “almost instantaneously,” Parnia said. “You lose all your brain stem reflexes — your gag reflex, your pupil reflex, all that is gone.”

A trajectory of cell death

The brain’s cerebral cortex — the so-called “thinking part” of the brain — also slows down instantly, and flatlines, meaning that no brainwaves are visible on an electric monitor, within 2 to 20 seconds. This initiates a chain reaction of cellular processes that eventually result in the death of brain cells, but that can take hours after the heart has stopped, Parnia said.

Performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) does send some blood to the brain — about 15 percent of what it requires to function normally, according to Parnia. This is enough to slow the brain cells’ death trajectory, but it isn’t enough to kick-start the brain into working again, which is why reflexes don’t resume during CPR, he said.

“If you manage to restart the heart, which is what CPR attempts to do, you’ll gradually start to get the brain functioning again. The longer you’re doing CPR, those brain cell death pathways are still happening — they’re just happening at a slightly slower rate,” he told Live Science.

Recent studies have shown that animals experience a surge in brain activity in the minutes after death. And people in the first phase of death may still experience some form of consciousness, Parnia said. Substantial anecdotal evidence reveals that people whose hearts stopped and then restarted were able to describe accurate, verified accounts of what was going on around them, he added.

“They’ll describe watching doctors and nurses working; they’ll describe having awareness of full conversations, of visual things that were going on, that would otherwise not be known to them,” he explained. According to Parnia, these recollections were then verified by medical and nursing staff who were present at the time and were stunned to hear that their patients, who were technically dead, could remember all those details. 

Death and beyond

Parnia and his colleagues are currently investigating the pervasiveness of consciousness after death. They’re looking at large numbers of people in Europe and the United States who have suffered cardiac arrest, in the largest study of its kind, he said.

“In the same way that a group of researchers might be studying the qualitative nature of the human experience of ‘love,’ for instance, we’re trying to understand the exact features that people experience when they go through death, because we understand that this is going to reflect the universal experience we’re all going to have when we die,” he said.

The study researchers are also observing the brain in detail during the period of cardiac arrest, death and revival to understand how much oxygen is reaching the brain, when exactly the cortex comes “back online” and how these experiences relate to brain activity itself, Parnia added.

For these scientists, the most important next steps are finding more accurate methods of monitoring the brain from beyond the threshold of death and improving the quality of resuscitation, to do a better job of preventing brain injuries while restarting the heart, Parnia said.

“At the same time, we also study the human mind and consciousness in the context of death, to understand whether consciousness becomes annihilated or whether it continues after you’ve died for some period of time — and how that relates to what’s happening inside the brain in real time,” Parnia said.

The “Flatliners” movie also suggests that death and resuscitation could enhance normal brain activity after revival, as the students who “died” and woke up can suddenly remember obscure passages in long-forgotten books. However, in the real world, a return ticket from death doesn’t include newly acquired cerebral superpowers — though it does frequently provide a new perspective on life, Parnia noted.

“What tends to happen is that people who’ve had these very profound experiences may come back positively transformed — they become more altruistic, more engaged with helping others. They find a new meaning to life having had an encounter with death,” Parnia said.

“But there isn’t like a sudden magical enhancement of their memories,” he added. “That’s just Hollywood jazz.”

Original article on Live Science.

Titans gunning for 1st place against Browns

Oct 19, 2017 3

The goal is the same for both teams, but the Cleveland Browns and Tennessee Titans have entirely different motives heading into their game Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland.

The Texans, tied for first place in the AFC South with Houston and Jacksonville at 3-3, are trying to keep pace with their division rivals if not separate themselves from the Texans and Jaguars.

“They’re all important,” Texans coach Mike Mularkey said Wednesday. “That’s the thing. This is a week-to-week league. This is an important game. Our players know that.”

The Browns (0-6) are just trying to win so they won’t have that dark “0-for” cloud following them across the Atlantic Ocean when they play the Minnesota Vikings in London on Oct. 29. The Browns have won just one of their last 26 games.

“It does get frustrating, but the men in our locker room are committed to getting better,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said. “We’ll stay focused, and I’m confident we’ll achieve the results that we want because of the character of the men on the team and in our organization.

“I think we all get that. We have serious work to do. We’re not going to run from that. We just have to put our heads down, keep working, stay together and hold each other accountable to get better.”

The game will pit one of the best rushing attacks in the league against one of the better run defenses. The Titans are averaging 132 yards per game on the ground — sixth best in the league. The Browns’ run defense also ranks sixth.

The Browns have given up four rushing touchdowns. The Titans have nine rushing touchdowns by five different players.

The one-two punch of Derrick Henry and Demarco Murray has produced 318 and 313 rushing yards, respectively, and two touchdowns on the ground apiece. Quarterback Marcus Mariota has rushed for three.

“You have to defend all 11 guys out there,” Jackson said. “Their blockers are good. They pull. They have a lot of different schemes. They do a lot of different things. It’s not just line up and play power football.

“They’re all over the place offensively, which is good. They’ve created different running lanes for their runners, as well as the quarterback.”

Focus will be on both quarterbacks for different reasons. Mariota is playing his second game since returning from a hamstring injury. He was not mobile in Tennessee’s 36-22 victory over the Indianapolis Colts on Monday night, but should be moving better by Sunday.

DeShone Kizer is back as the Browns’ starting quarterback after being benched last week when Cleveland played in Houston. Different quarterback, same result when Kevin Hogan threw three interceptions, so Jackson is going back to Kizer, the rookie from Notre Dame chosen with the 52nd pick of the April draft.

Kizer threw nine interceptions and lost two fumbles through the first five games.

“When you’re on the sideline, you get to feel the momentum of the game a little more than when you’re out there,” Kizer said. “You get to see the reactions of everyone. From the fans to the coaching staff, to the defense, you get to see all the different parts that move along throughout a game.

“For me, it really showed last week the importance of making sure that the ball is just simply out of harm’s way and what positive plays can do for the team.”

Mularkey said Mariota has no restrictions in practice this week. The third-year quarterback had most of his success throwing from the pocket against the Colts.

Mariota’s ability, or inability, to run from trouble could have a huge bearing in the game because Browns rookie defensive lineman Myles Garrett is expected to take a full load this week.

Garrett played 19 snaps in Week 5 after missing the first four games with an ankle injury. He played 33 snaps last week. He leads the Browns with three sacks.

“He’s a disruptive player, somebody that can come off the ball and create havoc and do a lot of different things,” Mariota said Wednesday. “We’re going to have our hands full. I think he’s a great player and somebody that can change the outcome of a game.”

Jabrill Peppers (toe), linebacker James Burgess (knee) and left tackle Joe Thomas (rest) did not practice with the Browns on Wednesday.

Safety Johnathan Cyprien (hamstring), linebacker Derrick Morgan (abdomen), linebacker Brian Orakpo (not injury related), wide receiver Corey Davis (hamstring) and running back Demarco Murray (hamstring) did not practice with the Titans.

Cleveland has won four of the last seven games with Tennessee, but the Titans won 28-26 in Nashville last season.

CMA Awards 2017: What to know

Oct 19, 2017 6

Country music stars will compete for honors at the 51st Annual CMA Awards next month in Nashville, Tenn. 

Singers Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood will co-host this year’s event. It’s their tenth time emceeing the show together. 

Here is what you need to know about the biggest night country music: 

How can I watch the 2017 CMA Awards?

The Country Music Association Awards will air on Nov. 8 on ABC. 

Some of the genre’s biggest names — among them Garth Brooks, Luke Bryan, Alan Jackson, Miranda Lambert, Little Big Town, and Chris Stapleton — have been announced as show performers. 

Who has the most nominations?

Miranda Lambert is up for five awards: Single of the Year (“Tin Man”), Album of the Year (“The Weight of These Things”), Song of the Year (“Tin Man”), Female Vocalist of the Year, and Music Video of the Year (“Vice”). 

Who is nominated for Entertainer of the Year?

Garth Brooks, Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Chris Stapleton, and Keith Urban are all nominated. 

Who are the nominees for Male Vocalist of the Year? 

This year’s nominees are Dierks Bentley, Eric Church, Thomas Rhett, Chris Stapleton, and Keith Urban. 

Who are the Female Vocalist of the Year nominees? 

Along with Lambert, Kelsea Ballerini, Reba McEntire, Maren Morris, and Carrie Underwood round out the five nominees.

Who is nominated for Vocal Group of the Year? 

Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, Old Dominion, Rascal Flatts, and Zac Brown Band are all up for the award. 

Who are the nominees for Vocal Duo of the Year? 

Brothers Osborne, Dan + Shay, Florida Georgia Line, LOCASH, and Maddie & Tae. 

CMA Awards 2017: Who are the country music performers and nominees?

Oct 19, 2017 6

Country music stars will compete for honors at the 51st Annual CMA Awards next month in Nashville, Tenn. 

Singers Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood will co-host this year’s event. It’s their tenth time emceeing the show together. 

Here is what you need to know about the biggest night country music: 

How can I watch the 2017 CMA Awards?

The Country Music Association Awards will air on Nov. 8 on ABC. 

Some of the genre’s biggest names — among them Garth Brooks, Luke Bryan, Alan Jackson, Miranda Lambert, Little Big Town, and Chris Stapleton — have been announced as show performers. 

Who has the most nominations?

Miranda Lambert is up for five awards: Single of the Year (“Tin Man”), Album of the Year (“The Weight of These Things”), Song of the Year (“Tin Man”), Female Vocalist of the Year, and Music Video of the Year (“Vice”). 

Who is nominated for Entertainer of the Year?

Garth Brooks, Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Chris Stapleton, and Keith Urban are all nominated. 

Who are the nominees for Male Vocalist of the Year? 

This year’s nominees are Dierks Bentley, Eric Church, Thomas Rhett, Chris Stapleton, and Keith Urban. 

Who are the Female Vocalist of the Year nominees? 

Along with Lambert, Kelsea Ballerini, Reba McEntire, Maren Morris, and Carrie Underwood round out the five nominees.

Who is nominated for Vocal Group of the Year? 

Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, Old Dominion, Rascal Flatts, and Zac Brown Band are all up for the award. 

Who are the nominees for Vocal Duo of the Year? 

Brothers Osborne, Dan + Shay, Florida Georgia Line, LOCASH, and Maddie & Tae. 

Underclassman running backs fuel Big 12 attacks

Oct 19, 2017 5

The running game has become increasingly important in the Big 12 this season — with a host of talented young backs leading the way.

Seven of the league’s top 10 rushers were underclassmen as the league reached the midway point of the season, led by Oklahoma State’s Justice Hill, Iowa State’s David Montgomery and Oklahoma’s talented duo of Trey Sermon and Abdul Adams.

While Mason Rudolph and James Washington have hogged the headlines in Stillwater, Hill has quietly emerged as the Big 12’s most productive back.

Hill had the best freshman season for a Cowboys’ running back in school history a year ago — which is saying something at a program that produced Barry Sanders, Thurman Thomas and others. He’s on pace to for even bigger numbers this fall.

Hill, the national leader among freshman in 2016 with 1,142 yards, leads the Big 12 with 633 yards. Hill is also averaging 6 yards per carry with five touchdowns, and he’s topped 100 yards in all three league games so far.

Hill might even line up in the Wildcat when No. 10 (5-1, 2-1 Big 12) Oklahoma State faces Texas (3-3, 2-1) on Saturday on the road like he did last week against Baylor. However, coach Mike Gundy sounds as though he might shy away from that.

“We felt like Justice would give us an edge in that area for this game, and it did. But I don’t know if it’s a long-term answer depending on who we play and how we matchup up front,” Gundy said.

The Big 12 also had the nation’s leading freshman rusher in 2015 in Mike Warren. But Montgomery surpassed Warren by the end of last season, and this fall he’s blossomed into one of the most underrated backs in America.

Montgomery has rushed for 476 yards and a league-high eight TDs, including three in a 45-0 blowout over Kansas last weekend.

“I don’t know (what his ceiling is). The one thing I do know is that he’ll get to that point because of who he is and what his work ethic is,” Iowa State coach Matt Campbell said.

Sermon, a freshman, and Adams, a sophomore, have helped the ninth-ranked Sooners (5-1, 2-1) overcome the loss of Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine — who each surpassed 1,000 yards in 2016.

Sermon has rushed for 469 yards on 5.8 yards a carry and has also caught a pair of touchdown passes, and Adams has averaged 10.6 yards on just 35 attempts.

Having such talented young backs has help the Sooners wear opponents down and free things up for All-American quarterback Baker Mayfield. Oklahoma averaged 7.7 yards a play in last week’s 29-24 win over Texas.

“We play really intense and we were being just as physical and trying to give all our effort. I think over the course of the game, we just started to run them down,” Sermon said after beating the Longhorns.

TCU sophomore Darius Anderson has rushed for 470 yards to key a versatile attack for the fourth-ranked Horned Frogs (6-0, 3-0), including a 160-yard, three-TD effort in a win over Oklahoma State on Sept. 23.

Even scuffling Kansas has had a young back emerge in sophomore Khalil Herbert.

But Herbert, who is third in the Big 12 with 503 yards, missed last week’s loss to Iowa State with a hamstring injury. His absence hurt, as the Jayhawks gained just 106 yards overall.

Baylor freshman John Lovett ranks 10th in the league with 383 yards rushing. But he’s questionable for this week’s home game against West Virginia with a toe injury.

Can Colts solve problems vs Jaguars?

Oct 19, 2017 7

The Indianapolis Colts know what the problem is but have seemed powerless to do anything about it.

Monday night’s come-from-ahead 36-22 loss at Tennessee highlighted the reason Indianapolis is 2-4 and in last place in the AFC South — its inability to maintain a lead once they build one.

The Colts also coughed up second-half leads in losses to Arizona and Seattle, and blew a 14-point fourth-quarter advantage two weeks ago before an Adam Vinatieri field goal beat San Francisco in overtime. They also barely held off Cleveland in Week 3 after establishing a 31-14 fourth-quarter margin, escaping with a 31-28 verdict.

So when Indianapolis hosts South co-leader Jacksonville on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium, it knows what must be done. But can it accomplish the task?

“We’ve got to play 60 minutes,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. “It’s a recurring thing, I know that. We’ve got to figure out, obviously, a way to finish games. Our margin for error is minute and we just continue to kill ourselves.”

Their opponent this week knows a little something about killing itself. The Jaguars (3-3) outgained the Los Angeles Rams 389-249 and sacked Jared Goff five times but lost 27-17 because of an epic fail by their special teams.

Jacksonville gave up touchdowns via kickoff return and a blocked punt in the first half. It also missed two field goal attempts and received less-than-booming punts of 18 and 28 yards.

“What do we have to do personnel-wise, scheme, is there anything we can do to get better? Are we putting the players in the best position? What are these issues, have they come up before, have I done a poor job of addressing them? Things of that nature,” Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said.

“We’re looking at that. A lot of times you got someone in there, you got a missed tackle, you got everyone else coming through the ball, you got a pileup going and he squirts out. It’s just not acceptable. They shouldn’t happen and we understand that.”

Jacksonville cut kicker Jason Myers and signed former San Diego kicker Josh Lambo to replace him. Lambo displayed a powerful leg in two seasons with the Chargers but also missed a spate of critical kicks, including three potential game-winners.

“We just wanted to bring a guy in to see if we can get more consistency from that position,” Marrone said.

While the Jaguars have special teams issues, the Colts continue life without franchise quarterback Andrew Luck. It was hoping that Luck would be able to return this week, but the Colts had to shut him down because of recurring shoulder soreness.

General manager Chris Ballard said Wednesday that Luck took a cortisone shot and is not going to practice this week.

“I’ve watched every session of him throwing,” Ballard said. “His velocity is good, his motion’s good, all that’s coming along at a good rate. It’s the soreness right now that we’re dealing with and that we have to get through.”

Jacoby Brissett hasn’t been terrible as Luck’s replacement by any means, but he is by no means the elite talent Luck is, and opponents have been able to exploit his lack of experience in key spots.

Brissett tossed critical interceptions against Arizona and San Francisco, and failed to make crucial plays in the second half at Tennessee.

If there was a positive for the offense at Tennessee, it was the play of the line. After allowing 18 sacks in the first five games, Indianapolis didn’t permit one on Monday night. The Colts also averaged more than four yards per carry, although the inability to get explosive rookie Marlon Mack more than two carries was puzzling.

Jacksonville, on the other hand, has had no problem integrating rookie running back Leonard Fournette into its offense. Fournette has 596 yards and six touchdowns on the ground in six games, starting last week’s game with a 75-yard scoring run.

His presence has made the Jaguars the top rushing team in the NFL and taken some pressure off quarterback Blake Bortles. Jacksonville’s other big addition, defensive end Calais Campbell, has eight sacks in six games and will be a source of worry for Indianapolis all day.

The Colts’ biggest concern, though, will be finding the consistency that has eluded them all year.

“We have to hit the reset button,” safety Darius Butler said. “We have a short week. We have another division game at home and they all count a little bit more now. We have to win and we have to keep winning.”

Packers host Saints for first game without Aaron Rodgers

Oct 19, 2017 6

Even with Aaron Rodgers sidelined indefinitely with a broken collarbone, the quarterbacks will be in the spotlight when the Green Bay Packers host the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.

Without Rodgers, third-year pro Brett Hundley will make his first NFL start. Hundley threw three interceptions in relief of Rodgers in Sunday’s 23-10 loss at Minnesota. His career passer rating of 40.9 is the lowest among quarterbacks with at least 40 career passing attempts since the start of the 2015 season. On the other hand, his passer rating of 107.3 is the highest among quarterbacks with 100-plus passing attempts over the last three preseasons.

“Just watching film from my first year, even coming out of college, I’ve seen such an improvement in my game,” said Hundley, a fifth-round pick in 2015 from UCLA. “I’m really happy with where I’m at. There’s a lot to grow, and I want to be one of the greatest to play this game, but there’s a lot of growth to do. I think it was a blessing in disguise to be behind ’12’ for this long. I’ve been preparing every week for three years now, so I felt ready.”

Coach Mike McCarthy, with three years invested in Hundley, is confident in his new starter as Green Bay (4-2) tries to extend its playoff streak to nine years.

“Great personality. Always has a smile on his face. He’s a joy to coach, joy to work with, so that part’s fun,” McCarthy said. “When you look in a quarterback’s eyes during the course of a game, I think the road that he rode in Minneapolis, with the adversity that he was under, the number of times he was getting hit, the number of breakdowns that occurred in the game and the way he played all the way to the final whistle, I think that’s very, very encouraging. That’s something that I feel great about because that’s what I’m building off of. For as bad as the moments were at that particular time of the game, he just kept playing. He was playing with great energy, didn’t blink. Frankly, I can’t support this with statistics, but I felt like he got better. He got better in that game. That’s my belief.”

For the Packers, the challenge is obvious in overcoming the loss of their two-time MVP quarterback. Heightening that challenge is determining who will play on the offensive line. The Packers played the fourth quarter at Minnesota without three starters — left guard Lane Taylor, left tackle David Bakhtiari and right tackle Bryan Bulaga. Taylor (ankle and knee) sat out Wednesday’s practice while Bakhtiari (hamstring) and Bulaga (concussion) were limited. Their return would bolster Hundley’s chances against a defense that feasted on Detroit veteran Matthew Stafford, with five turnovers and a franchise-record three defensive touchdowns in last week’s 52-38 victory.

The Saints have no such questions about their quarterback. At age 38, Drew Brees has completed 68.9 percent of his passes with 10 touchdowns, two interceptions and a 103.2 rating. In six career games against the Packers, Brees has topped 300 passing yards every time. His lowest output came in the most recent matchup, 2014 in New Orleans. Brees completed 27-of-32 passes for 311 yards and three touchdowns to lead a 44-23 rout.

Unlike Hundley, Brees can stand confidently in the pocket behind his offensive line. With left tackle Terron Armstead, who made his season debut last week following a torn labrum, and right tackle Ryan Ramczyk, a Wisconsin native, Brees has been sacked only four times.

Also unlike Hundley, Brees has a reliable running game at his disposal. Veteran Mark Ingram and rookie Alvin Kamara have combined for 762 yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns as the Saints rank eighth with 4.4 yards per rushing attempt.

New Orleans’ defense is on a roll, too. Defensive end Cameron Jordan has five sacks. A young secondary filled with early draft picks is coming together, too, as the Saints have given up an opponent passer rating of 56.7 during their three-game winning streak.

“We’ve taken the ball away. Our third-down numbers are a little better,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. “We’re still giving up the explosives, which is something that we’re working on. But I think the takeaways, I would start with that. I think we’re contesting more throws and gaining more confidence outside.”

The Packers are limping into this game, with a whopping 14 players on the injury report, with starters Rodgers, Taylor and safety Morgan Burnett not practicing, and cornerbacks Davon House (quad), Damarious Randall (hamstring) and Lenzy Pipkins (concussion) limited. The Saints have only two, with Armstead (shoulder) and receiver Willie Snead (hamstring) limited.

Ravens, Vikings heading in opposite directions

Oct 19, 2017 6

MINNEAPOLIS — The Baltimore Ravens and the Minnesota Vikings look to be headed in opposite directions.

After a 2-0 start, the Ravens (3-3) have lost three of four, including last weekend in overtime to the Chicago Bears. Questions about their once-feared defense are growing.

After appearing to be an also-ran in the NFC North early, the Vikings (4-2) have won two division games in a row, and the injury to Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers seemingly opened the door for Minnesota to control its own destiny.

The two purple-clad teams meet on Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh said this week that 10 wins is the realistic need to eye the playoffs. And despite Baltimore’s recent struggles, he sees his team within striking distance of that goal after six weeks of play.

“Spinning your wheels right now, being .500 is in the hunt. We’re very much in it,” Harbaugh said. “We’ve had three pretty good games, in some ways excellent games. And we’ve had three not so good games, and it’s not been across the board, it’s been this and that that’s cost us. We need to find a way to win games. That’s what it boils down to. We need to stack as many wins as we can.”

And they need to find a way to stack the defensive line despite key injuries that have opponents running the ball more effectively.

Defensive line star Brandon Williams hinted at a return last week against Chicago but was stuck on the sideline for the fourth straight game with a foot injury. Williams, who hopes to return this week, practiced Wednesday. The coach feels the addition of Williams would make a big difference defensively against Minnesota’s run game.

“It’s taken an edge off the run defense, no question about it,” Harbaugh said of the injuries to Williams and defensive end Brent Urban. “But we’re getting a lot of tackles for loss. Terrell Suggs made a lot of big plays in the backfield. Our guys are flying around to the football.

“I love the way we’re playing as far as the style of play, the effort, the tenacity, the physicality. It’s all there, but we want to be dominant. We want to have a dominant run defense. That’s what we had at the beginning of the year, and we want to get back to that. Getting Brandon back would be a big plus.”

No matter the status of the Ravens’ defensive roster, the Vikings see places for concern with quarterback Case Keenum expected to make his fourth start.

“They’re aggressive,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said of the Ravens’ defense. “If they get in some of these third-down situations, they attack the football. They’ve got a bunch of different looks in the coverage as far as some of their fire zones and zone blitzes and things they do.”

The quarterback job is Keenum’s for the time being, with Sam Bradford still nursing a knee injury. But this week the Vikings got additional good quarterback news with Teddy Bridgewater coming off the physically unable to perform list and practicing for the first time since sustaining a serious knee dislocation 14 months ago.

While the Vikings are encouraged by the former starter’s return to the field, Zimmer was quick to preach patience.

“I think everybody feels really good for Teddy. He’s worked extremely hard to get to this point where he can get back out on the practice field,” Zimmer said. “We still don’t know where it’s going to go or where that’s going to lead to.

“But I think everybody feels good for him because they know what kind of kid he is and how hard he has worked. He’s probably not going to play this week. We need to put the brakes on things a little bit.”

The Vikings could try to pick on a Baltimore defense that is allowing the third-most rushing yards in the NFL, 141.3 per game. Conversely, Minnesota’s rush defense ranks third best at 78.7 yards allowed per game.

The Ravens hold a 3-2 edge in their all-time series with the Vikings. The last meeting was on a snowy Baltimore day in December 2015. The Ravens prevailed 29-26 with the teams scoring five touchdowns in the final 2:09.

Rams 'host' Cardinals in London

Oct 19, 2017 6

Considering the Rams have only won twice at home since moving their franchise to Los Angeles for the start of the 2016 season, perhaps it was wise to stay on the road all week as they prepared for their “home” game in London, England, on Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.

“I don’t think we should ever play at home,” joked running back Todd Gurley, noting the Rams are 3-0 on the road this season and 1-2 at home. “We’ve gotten all the wins on the road. That’s been a good thing for us.”

The Rams (4-2) decided to stay in Jacksonville, Fla., after their 27-17 victory over the Jaguars. They practiced at a nearby college campus and flew to London on Thursday for their game at Twickenham Stadium.

The Cardinals (3-3), meanwhile, traveled to England on Monday, a day after their 38-33 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and have been practicing there since they landed.

“The teams that I’ve talked to that have done both, most were more successful coming early and getting acclimated to the time,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said, adding he consulted with four or five different coaches.

Arizona is 5-0-1 in its past six games against NFC West opponents and 9-3-1 in its past 13 vs. the division, which marks the fourth-best winning percentage (.731) for a team against its own division during that span.

The Cardinals know they are facing an improved bunch in this year’s version of the Rams, however.

“The bodies are the same, but the structure of the defense is totally different,” Arians said. “They’re still very aggressive. (Defensive Coordinator) Wade Phillips is one of the best coaches there is, and Robert Quinn, Aaron Donald and Alec Ogletree, they’re all the same guys, but they’re in different structures but still very dangerous.

“Offensively, they totally revamped their offense — offensive line, receivers, tight ends — but they still have that young running back that’s great, and their quarterback has fit in very well because they do have a good running game now.”

Quarterback Jared Goff is seventh in the NFL with 1,484 passing yards and he has thrown eight touchdowns against just three interceptions. He looks more comfortable in the pocket, has shown better patience in play-action calls, and he isn’t forcing throws like he did during his rookie season a year ago.

It helps that he’s not getting hit as much, either, and that the Rams are playing from ahead far more often.

Goff can thank Gurley for most of that. The running back is fourth in the league with 521 rushing yards and is on pace to finish with 1,400. Although nearly half of his rushes have gone for at least five yards, only two of his runs to date have gone for 20 yards or longer.

“For Todd to have over 100 yards on 23 carries and the long be 14 shows you how efficient we were running it — guys were getting good knockoff,” Rams coach Sean McVay said, referring to Gurley’s game against the Jaguars.

He will have the full attention of the Cardinals’ defense, according to defensive tackle Josh Mauro.

“He’s a really, really good back,” Mauro said. “He’s got really good size, speed, strength, vision and he can catch the ball, too, so he’s going to be a tough task to handle as a defense.”

Adrian Peterson, scheduled to make his second start for the Cardinals after his trade form the New Orleans Saints, figures to offer just as much of a challenge to a Rams run defense that has allowed the fourth-most rushing yards in the league at an average of 139.5 per game.

“Adrian Peterson is not Adrian Peterson in 2008, 2009,” cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman said in the postgame locker room as a few stunned teammates looked on and listened. “He’s not the same Adrian Peterson, and I think everybody knows that.”

Or are the Rams really concerned about the 32-year-old Peterson at all?

All Peterson did in his debut with the Cardinals, though, was run for 134 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries against the Buccaneers and win NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors in the process. That’s the eighth time he has won the award, which is the most of any non-quarterback.

Peterson has proved the skeptics wrong before, like when he returned from a torn ACL.

“Yeah, I think I did that a little bit in 2015. I came back after a year off and led the league in rushing, but yeah, because it is what it is,” Peterson said. “A lot of people like to put a stamp on guys that it’s over, running backs especially that are over 30, 32, but that doesn’t mean anything. You’ve got guys that are playing at a high level, not at the running back position.

“You’ve got a couple guys that are still out there, but everyone is different. Everyone approaches it differently, as far as their mindset, the tools that they have, the ability that they’ve been blessed with. So I don’t think they should attach that to every single player, especially running backs.”

If Peterson does his thing, which should allow quarterback Carson Palmer to bide his time and not have to throw the ball so often, all the Cardinals have to do is make sure their defense shows up and finishes the game.

Los Angeles blew a 21-0 lead against Tampa Bay and almost paid for it.

“We have to understand that once we have a team down, we have to find a way to keep them there,” said Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson, who is nursing a sore quadriceps tendon. “We understand that momentum shifts in games. At the end of the day, we have to find ways to weather the storm.

“Luckily, we did last week, and we just have to continue building on finding ways to finish games. We started out fast, but we didn’t finish fast. We’ll start slow, then try to finish fast. We have to find ways to put both of those together so we can become that dynamic team that we know we are.”