For T.J. McDonald, playing alongside Rodney McLeod has its rewards.
It’s been that way since 2013, when McDonald was an NFL rookie and McLeod was in just his second season. Each of the safeties has been contributing since for the St. Louis Rams. And this past Sunday was no exception.
McDonald forced a fumble that led to Todd Gurley’s 1-yard touchdown in the third quarter and finished with eight tackles in the Rams’ 24-6 victory over the Cleveland Browns. McLeod recovered a fumble on the Browns’ opening drive and returned it 20 yards for a touchdown.
“We definitely push each other,” said McDonald, who prepped at Fresno’s Edison High, then played at USC. “Every time we step on the field we always tell each other what we’re doing to do well. In my opinion I think we’ve been able to compete with the best, if not be the best. Every time we step on the field we make plays and make our presence felt and try to keep the ball from getting over our heads; and we’ve done that.”
Like when a receiver tried to get past McDonald on Sunday. Cleveland’s Travis Benjamin made the catch on a crossing route, but McDonald saw an opportunity for a turnover.
“He had a pretty good angle because he’s a fast guy,” he said. “The only chance I had was to reach my hand around where the ball is at and punch it out and when I did that (inside linebacker) Mark Barron stopped his momentum and all I did was knock it out.”
Throught six games, McDonald, the strong safety, has 36 tackles, a sack and one pass deflection. McLeod, at free safety, has 29 tackles to go with a forced fumble and his recovery and TD return.
“I think we sent a message across the league with our physicality,” McDonald said. “I just know week in and week out, we just need to keep being consistent and keep making our presence felt and keep making plays.
“The direction our defense is going right now … I’m definitely excited (where) we’re headed.”
▪ Browns receiver Marlon Moore (Fresno State) didn’t have a stat.
Carr to Cooper in Raiders win – Oakland’s Derek Carr is thrilled to have Amari Cooper on his side.
The former Fresno State star completed 24 of 31 passes for 289 yards with three touchdowns and a passer rating of 137.7, including a 52-yard touchdown to Cooper in a 37-29 victory over the San Diego Chargers.
“He’s amazing, he’s awesome and he’s one of the best in this league,” Carr said. “Obviously, because he’s a rookie and hasn’t done it for a certain amount of time, people won’t say that but he’s one of the best.”
Carr topped 100 on the rating scale for the fifth time in his career. It was the second best mark of his career and seventh-best road rating in franchise history (minimum 20 attempts).His 77.4 completion percentage is a franchise fifth best in a road game.
It also was Carr’s 10th career multi-touchdown performance and fourth three-touchdown game, both franchise bests for a second-year player. Carr is the first Raider since Rich Gannon (2002) with at least 10 passing TDs through six games.
▪ Guard-tackle Kenny Wiggins (Fresno State) played for the Chargers.
Et cetera – Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy expects former Fresno State star Davante Adams (ankle) to be ready for Sunday night’s game against Denver. Adams has missed the past three games.
▪ Minnesota rookie middle linebacker Eric Kendricks (Hoover) had two sacks and six tackles overall in a 28-19 victory over Detroit. He had three tackles for a loss and three quarterback hits.
▪ Atlanta tackle Bryce Harris (Tulare/Fresno State) was inactive for the Falcons’ 10-7 win over Tennessee. Harris has been active for one game this season – Week 4 against Houston on Oct. 4.
▪ Carolina linebacker Ben Jacobs (Fresno State) played in his sixth straight game, but didn’t record a tackle in a 27-16 victory over Philadelphia.
▪ Eagles running back Ryan Mathews (Fresno State) had six carries for 97 yards, including a 63-yard touchdown in the third quarter, and three receptions for 24 yards. … Linebacker Mychal Kendricks (Hoover) finished with eight tackles and a sack in his return from a hamstring injury. He had two quarterback hits. …Receiver Seyi Ajirotutu (Fresno State) didn’t record a stat.
▪ Dallas fullback Tyler Clutts (Clovis/Fresno State) did not have a carry nor a reception in a 27-20 loss to the New York Giants.
▪ Pittsburgh strong safety Robert Golden started his second straight game and had four tackles as the Steelers fell to Kansas City 23-13.
▪ Chiefs rookie cornerback Steven Nelson (Sequoias) was credited with one tackle against the Steelers.
▪ New England offensive lineman Ryan Wendell came in as a reserve in a 30-23 win over the New York Jets.
▪ Jets defensive end Sheldon Richardson (Sequoias) finished with four tackles and a sack.
▪ New Orleans rookie defensive tackle Tyeler Davison started his second game and had two quarterback hits in the Saints’ 27-21 victory over Indianapolis.
▪ Tight end Anthony McCoy (Bullard) was held without a catch as Washington rallied for a 31-30 victory over Tampa Bay.
▪ Tampa Bay’s Logan Mankins (Fresno State) got the start once again at left guard.
▪ Atlanta signed receiver Devon Wylie (Fresno State) to its practice squad. … Raiders safety Tevin McDonald (Edison), who was waived Saturday, is back on the team’s practice squad.