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Kyle Pugh savors a rare 8th season of eligibility with Northern Illinois — and even the jokes: ‘They call me grandpa’

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Kyle Pugh Savors A Rare 8Th Season Of Eligibility With Northern Illinois — And Even The Jokes: ‘They Call Me Grandpa’
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Kyle Pugh remembers the play that would become just the first leg of an odyssey of repeated heartbreaks, only he didn’t know it at the time.

The Northern Illinois linebacker was trying to tackle then-San Diego State running back Rashaad Penny in the fourth quarter of a road game on Sept. 30, 2017, when he tore his left biceps.

“Yeah, that Rashaad Penny,” Pugh told the Tribune.

“Just shot an open gap and went for a routine tackle. And my forearm hit the runner’s leg, kind of hyperextending my elbow so it ruptured my bicep tendon at the elbow,” he said. It felt “like a rubber band pop.”

Today, Penny is a fifth-year Seattle Seahawks running back who featured prominently in Monday night’s primetime showdown against the Denver Broncos.

Pugh, 25, is still a member of the same Huskies five years later.

In fact, when Pugh suited up Sept. 1 against Eastern Illinois, it represented the start of his eighth and final season of college eligibility, barring some medical calamity.

And Pugh is all too familiar with calamity.

After all, how does someone make it to eight seasons of college football?

Four injuries, two redshirts, two degrees (and a master’s to come), a “free” COVID-19 season and a single-mindedness that Pugh wasn’t even sure he had.

“No part of me would have been OK with it,” Pugh said about the prospect not finishing his eligibility.

He’s part of a rare club of which he’d rather not be a member. There have been a handful of seventh-year student-athletes, but reportedly none had been granted an eighth year by the NCAA except East Tennessee State linebacker Jared Folks.

In Pugh’s case, “he’s definitely shown resilience and determination,” Huskies linebackers coach Robert Wimberly told the Tribune. “To know that he’s been in college for eight years, to have an opportunity to play his final year is definitely admirable.”

Like his fellow “super seniors,” Pugh has his reasons for sticking around.

“I have put so much into the game of football and proven that I can play at a high level,” he said. “But I’ve never been able to do it for as long as I wanted to. So if I had to walk away with that feeling, it would definitely be a disappointment.”

It all started with such optimism.

Pugh grew up in Chicago Heights believing Ray Lewis was “just the best to do it.” And Pugh made his own mark at Bloom Township, recording 112 tackles and making the All-Southland Conference team during his senior year in 2014.

Pugh said he came close to receiving 15 Division I offers, including Nevada, Indiana and Northwestern.

“I come from a pretty big family. I’m the youngest boy of 19 grandchildren,” he said. “Staying close to home was important to me so that a lot of my family could travel to the games, at least for the home games.”

Pugh opted to attend NIU, which was “doing big things and I wanted to be a part of (it),” he said, referring to NIU’s three Mid-American Conference championships in a four-year period, including 2014.

Pugh redshirted as a freshman in 2015 because there were upperclassmen ahead of him on the depth chart. In 2016, he primarily played special teams in 10 games.

In 2017, he burst out of the gate with 17 tackles and an interception in the season opener against Boston College, and had 35 tackles through four games before that fateful moment against San Diego State.

That’s where Pugh’s saga begins.

Sept. 30, 2017: The left biceps tear

When Pugh tore his left biceps, he said he didn’t feel much pain. In fact, he finished the game.

“The doc just told me in the locker room afterwards what actually happened,” Pugh said.

Pugh felt “disappointment. Confusion, I had got off to a really good start that year, and just to find out that I wasn’t going to be playing anymore, it was tough.”

Pugh missed the final eight games of the regular season and the Quick Lane Bowl against Duke.

“It was definitely a time where I had to lean on my family,” he said. “I was young and I hadn’t really been faced with that type of adversity before.”

Sept. 1, 2018: The right shoulder tear

When trainer Heath Duncan arrived in DeKalb in the spring of 2018, Pugh was doing well with his rehab and had no issues leading up to the season.

Then in the opener at Iowa, Pugh tore the labrum in his right shoulder.

“The unique thing about (a labral tear) is it’s a pretty painful injury, especially at the linebacker position,” Duncan said. “And it can be tough to kind of fight through.”

Pugh, however, played in 13 games that season, including the Huskies’ tight MAC championship win against Buffalo, when Pugh made nine tackles, and a Boca Raton Bowl loss to Alabama-Birmingham, when Pugh had seven stops.

He had a career-best 106 tackles for the season and was named to the All-MAC second team.

Pugh had surgery that December, Duncan said, according to school records. More rehab followed.

Sept. 7, 2019: The right shoulder fracture

Disaster struck again two games into the 2019 season against Utah when he broke the socket in the same shoulder.

“I delivered a pretty hard hit and it was just a freak accident,” he said.

That freak occurrence — which “broke the coracoid process” and glenoid in his shoulder socket, Duncan said — cost Pugh the rest of the season.

“Basically, you lose the ‘cup’ (in the shoulder socket),” Duncan said. “So it’s like sitting a golf ball on a golf tee. And you would shatter a piece of that golf tee and then try and put the ball back, and it would just kind of roll off.”

Duncan said Pugh had surgery two weeks after the injury.

“It was like a six- to eight-month long process,” Pugh said.

Here was yet another recovery, so Pugh started to reevaluate routines he had taken for granted.

“I figured there was something with my training regimen or the way that I was eating or something like that that was making me more susceptible to injury,” he said.

So he started “prehabbing,” he said.

“I started to have a prepractice routine and pregame routine to make sure I was warmed up properly and ready to go,” he said.

After that season, Pugh was granted a medical redshirt waiver that gave him an additional two seasons.

“I had to write a brief request to the NCAA for an extended career, just because of the time that I’ve spent on the sideline. It was only like a paragraph long,” Pugh said. “And then if you add up (my games, it) adds up to probably a season and a half.

“I sent it in and I didn’t really know what to expect or how they were going to respond to it, but they ended up giving me two extra years, which explains why I’m here now.”

2020: No injuries — just a pandemic

COVID-19 shut down sports in March 2020 and it would be months before many leagues would resume.

Because of the unusual circumstances, the NCAA granted athletes an extra year of eligibility whether they opted to play that fall or following winter, or not.

Pugh played five games, had 36 tackles and was selected to the All-MAC third team.

“No injuries that season,” he chimed in.

April 17, 2021: The right ACL tear

But the clean bill of health wouldn’t last long.

“I was fully cleared and ready to go to take on a full season,” Pugh said, “and then in the last practice of spring ball I tore my ACL in a non-contact injury.”

Duncan said Pugh also suffered meniscus damage as well.

“What happens is, you plant and then you’re stuck on that leg, and then you have some sort of twisting motion in the knee,” Duncan said.

“The whole job of the ACL is to keep your shin bone from shifting. When that ACL goes, the bones will bounce into each other and that’s normally what causes some sort of meniscus tear.”

But Pugh also had to worry about the psychological damage. He nearly reached his breaking point.

Said Pugh: “The training staff was examining me (on the field) and there was a brief moment where I said, ‘You know, I don’t know if I can do this again.’”

Pugh said that when he was alone he screamed in frustration.

But in the locker room, “I kind of centered myself and understood that there’s something that my mom always told me when I was growing up, and it was that ‘God gives his hardest battles to his strongest soldiers.’

“That’s something that every time any adversity confronts me that always plays in my head. And so I sat there emotional and everything like that, but I understood that if it was meant for me to give up, I think it would more so coincide with me not having any more time or if I didn’t love the game as much anymore.

“But just because it was tough adversity, I didn’t have the option to quit.”

Pugh traveled to the Andrews Institute in Florida for his surgery.

But rehab was different this time. He had trouble changing direction and decelerating. His subconscious had to regain confidence in his body.

“(It’s) failing and trying again and re-accomplishing things and learning how to do certain things, dynamic movements,so it was definitely more a mental recovery than than the rest of my surgeries,” Pugh said.

Duncan had watched Pugh navigate past injuries and rehabs with hardly a word of complaint, but he knew this time something was off.

“It’s a very devastating thing to happen” Duncan said. “This would be a fourth time that he’s going through this. So I think there was some questioning probably internally of ‘What’s going on? How do I stay healthy? What’s the next step?’

“After (he) kind of got over that initial shock, he just went right back to work.”

2022: One final season

Pugh said his current teammates, some of them as much as seven years his junior, have been supportive, but that doesn’t mean they don’t give him grief.

“Pretty much any song from the early 2000s … they’ll say, ‘Were you in high school when this came out?’” Pugh said. “I hear it all. They call me grandpa.”

It’s not just the students, either.

Said Duncan: “I don’t know if there’s a day that goes by when we’re taping him that we don’t throw a joke at him. … ‘How was it when NSYNC’s first album came out?’ … ‘Michael Jackson in his early days, when he was a kid? Like, how was that concert?’”

Wimberly said he calls Pugh “Methuselah, the oldest man, according to the Bible.”

Duncan said Pugh “just starts shaking his head and kind of laughs. I think he’s probably heard every joke you can hear about being old. It just rolls off at this point.”

Pugh throws some punchlines back if he’s in a joking mood, but even he admits there are some stark changes in locker room culture from when he first started.

“I’m still not on TikTok, I don’t really have the time,” Pugh said. “I don’t know what the dance is that they’re doing and what’s going on, but it’s definitely different.”

But there’s respect there, too.

“To know the battles and things he’s had to overcome in his life through injuries to get to this point, you definitely have respect for what you’re trying to accomplish,” Wimberly said.

“The younger men on the team respect him and look up to him, because he definitely has that other game experience. But just about the injuries that he’s had in his career, when young men maybe are nursing an injury or dealing with different situations, they can go to him. … And I think that’s what makes him special, because everybody sees what he’s had to overcome.’”

Pugh volunteers be the voice when players have to address issues with coaches, but his institutional wisdom extends outside the locker room.

“I don’t know, really, anybody who has been here longer than Kyle, from our coaching to operations to the athlete training staff,” Duncan said.

Case in point, Pugh had four years under coach Rod Carey and is in his fourth year under Thomas Hammock.

Pugh’s also had time to further his education. He received an undergraduate degree in kinesiology in 2019, a master’s in sports management in 2020 and is on track to earn a master’s in sports and exercise psychology in December.

Somewhere down the line, he wants to work with the mental side of sports and sports injuries. But these final few months are about putting everything he has left into football. He still craves the chance to excel on the field and holds onto a dream of maybe hearing his name called by the NFL on draft day.

“He loves the film room. He’s a student of the game,” Wimberly said.

Pugh said he expects coaches will “save me reps” here and there to help preserve him, but otherwise there have been no restrictions.

Whether or not there’s football in his long-term future, Pugh said he has learned through his faith and this entire saga that every experience he goes through, good or bad, is to his benefit.

“One of the major things that I’ve learned is that the power of the mind is incredible,” Pugh said. “This process has been different for me this time around because I’ve taken more time to allow myself to be ready mentally. I’ve always kind of rushed back into things and took all the precautions to rehab myself back to health physically, but I never really paid much mind to the mental aspect of it.

“There’s a heavy psychological part of rehabilitation and there’s sometimes you need to get into some meditation or positive self-talk and different things like that. I’ve taken the time to do that this time around. So there’s no doubt in my mind when I hit the field again that I’m 100% healthy.

“And I’m going to stay that way.”

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White Sox say La Russa won’t return to dugout this season

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CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago White Sox manager Tony La Russa will not return to the dugout this season.

La Russa, who turns 78 on October 4, underwent “additional medical tests and procedures over the past week,” the team said on Saturday, and doctors ordered the Hall of Fame not to handle for the rest of the season.

Bench coach Miguel Cairo will continue to act as interim White Sox manager.

“Right now the focus is on his health,” general manager Rick Hahn said when asked if La Russa still wanted to manage.

La Russa left the White Sox ahead of an Aug. 30 game against Kansas City to deal with a heart condition. He joined the club in Oakland on September 11 and returned to Chicago for a two-game series against Colorado.

La Russa was waiting for permission to return to the dugout and manage during matches. Chicago lost to Detroit 7-2 on Saturday night.

“We will continue to follow his wishes to keep much of the specific details and his personal information under wraps,” Hahn said Saturday. “I spoke to him on the way this morning, and he had no problem with us letting everyone know that there is a treatment protocol in place that he plans to follow. As a result, he won’t manage the rest of this season.

“As for the inevitable question, ‘Well, what does that mean for next season?’ We will finish this season first and then tackle everything when it comes time to turn the page at the end of this year.

Cairo said he spoke to La Russa for about 15 minutes on Friday night and was fine. When asked if he wanted the managerial job, Cairo said he was focused on the current season.

“Right now we have 11 more games,” Cairo said. “I don’t know what will happen. He’s still a year old.

“I spoke to the players today, let them know and it’s still 11 games,” said Cairo, who was the bench coach. “Let’s finish strong.

The White Sox have won 10 of their first 14 games under Cairo, but have lost five in a row to fall to a season-high nine behind AL Central leaders Cleveland.

“Miggy and the coaches did a really good job,” Hahn said. “We have seen many times, unfortunately not in the last four days or so, but for long stretches over the last few weeks, this team show flashes of play at the level that we thought we were capable of over the course of the whole season. It’s a little too little too late in the year.

“But I think these guys deserve a lot of credit for what was thrown on them on the fly and the way they reacted, both in the coaching room and the way they reacted.”

The White Sox started the season with high hopes of defending their division title under La Russa.

“He’s a Hall of Famer,” outfielder Eloy Jiménez said. “He had an impact in every way in the clubhouse. For us, he wasn’t available to be there for those games we were playing, and he’s fighting for his life, so that’s not good. That’s all I can say for now.”

Tigers manager AJ Hinch said La Russa’s health was the “no.” 1 concern.

“These are stressful jobs; you can’t take your health for granted,” Hinch said. “As men in this sport, we often don’t ask for help, so I’m glad he’s good. On the management side, he’s a Hall of Famer. He’s done everything that every one of us who has ever held this position would dream of doing His accomplishments in different teams, different leagues, different jobs in his role in baseball and the number of players he touched, the staff he developed, his resume speaks for itself and his impact in the game should be respected forever.

The White Sox also made several roster changes. Outfielder Luis Robert will be closed for the season because discomfort from his sprained left wrist worsened after being hit by a pitch, Hahn said. Chicago placed Robert on the 10-day disabled list on Saturday. Outfielder Mark Payton has been recalled from Triple-A Charlotte.

Reliever Joe Kelly was reinstated from the family medical leave list and left-hander Tanner Banks was opted for Charlotte.

Shortstop Tim Anderson could return this season after being placed on the disabled list for a sagittal band tear in his left middle finger on Aug. 9, Hahn said. Anderson was expected to miss six to eight weeks.

“It’s really a question of whether it makes sense at this point in the year to try and rush into that two-week window or let nature take its course and send it completely healed to the end. offseason,” Hahn said.

Right-hander Michael Kopech’s right shoulder is doing well, but the White Sox have discussed when a knee cyst will be removed, Hahn said. Kopech went on the 15-day disabled list for right shoulder inflammation on September 17.

___

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Ukrainian missile hits hotel where RT correspondent was staying in Kherson

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Ukrainian Missile Hits Hotel Where Rt Correspondent Was Staying In Kherson
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var RT = RT || {}; RT.comScore = RT.comScore || {}; RT.comScore[“js-mediaplayer-632ff71987f3ec08f0140598”] = { id_nsStCi: “632ff71987f3ec08f0140598” };

var RT = RT || {}; RT.jwplayer = RT.jwplayer || {}; RT.jwplayer[“js-mediaplayer-632ff71987f3ec08f0140598”] = { file: “ image: “ “, // stretching: ‘fill’, title: “”, aspectratio: “16:9”, skin: { name: “five”, active: “#77bd1e”, background: “rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.5)”, inactive: “#FFFFFF” }, width: “100%”, startparam: “start”, sharing: {}, events: { onPlay: function(){ if(ga) ga(‘send’, ‘ event’, ‘JWPLAYER-GA’, ‘CLICK PLAY’, location.href); }, onPause: function(){ if(ga) ga(‘send’, ‘event’, ‘JWPLAYER-GA’, ‘CLICK PAUSE’, location.href); }, onComplete: function(){ if(ga) ga(‘send’, ‘event’, ‘JWPLAYER-GA’, ‘COMPLETE’, location.href); } }, };

Ukrainian missile hits hotel where RT correspondent Murad Gazdiev was staying

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Pennsylvania police respond to ‘mass causation event’ after witnesses hear gunshots at theme park’s Fall Fest

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Pennsylvania Police Respond To 'Mass Causation Event' After Witnesses Hear Gunshots At Theme Park'S Fall Fest
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A heavy police presence gathered at Kennywood Park, an amusement park in West Mifflin, Pennsylvania, on Saturday night after gunfire was reported in the area. The possible shooting was classified as a “high casualty incident”.

Pennsylvania police and emergency service vehicles from multiple agencies responded to the scene to rescue and treat victims still trapped inside the park, which was especially crowded Saturday night as the park kicked off its Phantom Fall Fest. , reported WPXI-TV.

“There is one confirmed incident in Kennywood with reported injuries. My thoughts are with the victims of physical and mental injuries,” Pennsylvania State Rep. Nick Pisciottano tweeted.

Kennywood Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Kennywood confirmed in a statement to Fox News Digital that visitors left the park while law enforcement remained inside.

“The park is closed for the night and all guests are out. We are aware of a situation that occurred tonight and are working with local law enforcement,” communications manager Tasha said. Pokrzywa, in an email. “The safety of our guests and crew members is our top priority. Members of the park, Allegheny County and West Mifflin security departments were already on site and responded immediately.”

JOSH SHAPIRO BETS HARSH MESSAGE ON CRIME, ECONOMY WILL SURPASS RED WAVE IN PENNSYLVANIA

It is not immediately known how many people were injured or the severity of their injuries.

Witnesses at the scene told WPXI that several people were lying on the ground, but it is unclear if they were shot.

“There’s no denying what I heard,” said a witness, confirming that he heard gunshots.

The incident happened around 10:45 p.m., minutes before the park was scheduled to close.

Pennsylvania Police Respond To 'Mass Causation Event' After Witnesses Hear Gunshots At Theme Park's Fall Fest

BIDEN COMMITS TO MORE GUN CONTROL AND FUNDING FOR POLICE IN ‘SAFER AMERICA PLAN’ DURING PENNSYLVANIA SPEECH

West Mifflin Borough Police are urging the public to avoid the area.

“Due to the current emergency services situation, there is an increased emergency services presence in the Kennywood Park area,” police said. “We ask that you avoid the area at this time.”

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The park was particularly crowded on Saturday night as Kennywood’s flagship October event, Phantom Fall Fest, a Halloween event for children and adults, began this weekend.

A witness told WPXI they believe the sound of gunshots was “a prop” used in a haunted house.

In 2016, a 26-year-old woman was shot dead near Kennywood Park during a July 4 celebration.

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Turkey-India Relations and the Need for Calculated Outreach

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CNBC-TV18 columnist and former diplomat Anil Trigunayat writes that Ankara must understand the economic imperative of India-Turkey bilateral relations to build a mutually beneficial relationship. A nuanced change is visible on both sides.

Overlooking distrust, especially when the writing on the wall has yet to be erased, is a difficult proposition. But then the entrenchment principle of discourse and international diplomacy is that there are no permanent friends or enemies but only national interests. It also implies that having a transactional exchange, to begin with, is desirable to break the ice for good before moving to a higher orbit in the collaborative matrix. This is also evident in recent high-level interactions between Indian and Turkish leaders.

Recently, on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Samarkand, the capital of Uzbekistan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met, followed by a meeting between the India’s External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar and his Turkish counterpart on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), showing a conscious effort by both sides to repair barriers and move forward .
Prime Minister Modi had traveled to Turkey to attend the G20 summit and next year we expect President Erdogan to be in India for the next G20 summit. Ankara is expanding its footprints in the Eurasian region and wants to become a full member of the SCO as well as being part of the BRICS in addition to NATO, which could give it additional leverage to balance the geopolitical spectrum.

Although there is great potential and a perceived commonality of approaches and opportunities for mutually beneficial goals and undertakings between the two countries, the relationship has been marred by the “Pak factor” for decades, particularly in the Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) context.

Moreover, Ankara overlooked Pakistani complicity with extremist groups in cross-border terrorism against India. He not only raked in the inappropriate reference to J&K in international forums like UNGA and OIC etc. They must not forget that extremism and terrorism will turn against them too, whether in the so-called Kurdish revolt or for the Chinese in Xinjiang against the Uyghurs.
There is no disjunction as terrorist and extremist groups are well-oiled syndicates operating in all geographies and adept at exploiting societal fissures to their advantage. The recent crackdown by the People’s Front of India (PFI) – a terrorist group in India also indicates the direction and complicity of various Middle Eastern countries, several of which have closer strategic relations with India.

It was expected that after the Samarkand meeting between the two principals, President Erdogan could refrain from his rhetoric on Kashmir at the UNGA. But old habits die hard. He couldn’t resist the temptation even though it was lightly voiced compared to previous times when New Delhi condemned and rejected them or was disturbed.

Erdogan apparently wanted to be the paragon of peace, despite the militarization of his own foreign policy from Syria to Libya to Nagorno-Karabakh and the Mediterranean, when he uttered “India and Pakistan, after having established their sovereignty and independence 75 years ago, they have always ‘t established peace and solidarity among themselves. This is very unfortunate. We hope and pray that a just and permanent peace and prosperity will be established in the Cashmere”.

If they were really interested in peace, they could have convinced Islamabad to give up the affliction of a destructive syndrome. Of course, his penchant for Islamic leadership and the Ummah often skips school on the hidden agenda. India rejected Erdogan’s comment saying “the reference to Kashmir by other countries in the UNGA does not matter”.

A nuanced change is visible on both sides. Many would say the two should go a bilateral route, but foreign policy is a holistic and serious matter. The joint working group on counter-terrorism and India-Turkey policy planning dialogue needs to meet more so that the threshold of trust tolerance can be lowered.

But today’s India is quick and nimble in delivering a ‘tick for tat’ in a spirit of reciprocity and disdain. During his meeting with the Turkish Foreign Minister, Dr S Jaishankar also raised the issue of Cyprus (which has been simmering since 1974) to be resolved in accordance with UNSC resolutions.

Jaishankar tweeted “Met FM @MevlutCavusoglu from Turkiye on the fringes of #UNGA. Wide-ranging conversation that covered Ukraine conflict, food security, G20 processes, world order, NAM and Cyprus”. India has also increased its strategic outreach to Greece and Egypt and the I2-U2 group as well as other Eastern Mediterranean powers, including enhanced defense collaboration with them.

Ankara must understand the economic imperative of the bilateral relationship and the historical connection between P2P and Bollywood and the bonhomie of Turkish soap operas, Sufi affection and support during the Khilafat movement, if nothing else. These are the edifice on which the mutually beneficial relationship across the spectrum can be rebuilt. However, if needling is the game, so be it.
But it has been observed recently that Turkey has become a major mediator in several conflict areas, including the Russian-Ukrainian war and even in exercising its ambitious and somewhat independent “Blue Home Land” foreign policy, Ankara has started to refine it. a bit as he has embarked on a frenzy of rapprochement with his former rivals and competitors in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt as well as Israel, even if he is motivated by his economic constraints.
India is already a strategic friend with them, hence Ankara’s continuing to undermine the interests of a potentially beneficial relationship with New Delhi is illogical to say the least. Apparently, Turkey has supported India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and MTCR regimes, while taking an ambivalent stance on India’s claim to a seat at the Iron Table at UNSC horse. Good beginnings could hopefully lead to positive results.

— The author, Anil Trigunayat, is a former Indian ambassador and heads the West Asia Expert Group at the Vivekananda International Foundation. The opinions expressed are personal.

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Cole Beasley gives Tom Brady another target as Bucs meet Packers’ Aaron Rodgers – The Denver Post

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Three days after signing veteran wide receiver Cole Beasley to their practice squad, the Tampa Bay Bucs announced they were raising him for tonight’s home opener against the Green Bay Packers.

Beasley, 33, was moved with veteran guard John Molchon, who has spent the majority of the past two seasons on Tampa Bay’s practice squad. Realistically, Beasley could provide a handful of quality reps for a unit that will be without Mike Evans (one-game suspension) and Chris Godwin (hamstring), and could miss Julio Jones (knee).

Jones will be a game-time decision, coach Todd Bowles said Friday.

“[Beasley’s] fast, catch up [really] fast, he understands the system,” added Bowles. “He’s played and he’s got a lot of reps under him, so if we needed him I think he’ll be ready.”

Green Bay (1-1) at Tampa Bay (2-0)

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, WOFL-35

Betting line: 1½ Buccaneers, according to FanDuel SportsBook.

Against the spread: Packers 1-1, Buccaneers 2-0.

Series record: The Packers lead 33-23-1.

Last meeting: The Bucs defeated the Packers 31-26, NFC Championship Game, Jan. 24, 2021, in Green Bay.

Last week: The Packers beat the Bears 27-10; The Buccaneers beat the Saints 20-10.

Infringement by packers: Total (11), rush (6), assist (20), score (23).

Packers defense: : Total (10), rush (27), pass (4), score (7).

Bucs offense: : Total (24), rush (13), assist (23), score (18).

Bucs offense: : Total (5), rush (T9), pass (8), score (1).

Revenue differential: Packers minus 2; Bucs plus-4.

Packers player to watch: RB Aaron Jones. He’s coming off a huge performance in which he rushed for 132 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries and caught 3 passes for 38 yards and another score. Jones struggled in the Packers’ two losses to Tampa Bay in 2020. He rushed for 15 yards on 10 carries in the regular season game and had a critical fumble in the NFC Championship Game while taking a blow that knocked him out for the rest of the day.

Bucs players to watch: QB Tom Brady. He didn’t need to be at his best the past two weeks to beat Dallas and New Orleans on the road, mostly because the Bucs defense was so dominant. In two games, he had 402 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception after leading the NFL in completions, attempts, passing yards and touchdowns last season. The challenge this week is to get the Bucs’ offense rolling despite first receiver Mike Evans serving a one-game suspension and the status of two other key playmakers, Chris Godwin and Julio Jones, in the air. Brady is 5-2 and has thrown for 15 touchdowns in 7 career starts against Green Bay, including the playoffs.

Key match: Packers QB Aaron Rodgers against the Bucs’ defense, which has a league-leading 10 sacks and allowed just one touchdown in two games. Tampa Bay forced 5 turnovers against the Saints last week and leads the league in the fewest runs allowed (13) and is tied for second in opposing first downs per game (15) and in opposing third down conversion rate (25%).

Key injuries: Packers OT David Bakhtiari is yet to play this season and has only played one game since tearing his left anterior cruciate ligament on December 31, 2020. Godwin (hamstring) and Jones (knee ), as well as Bucs LT Donovan Smith (elbow) did not play against the Saints. Their status for this week is uncertain.

Notes on the series: The Packers have won three of the past four regular season matchups between former NFC Central rivals.

Stats and tips: The Packers and Bucs have the NFC’s two best regular season records since 2020. The Packers are 27-8 in the regular season, while the Bucs are 26-9. … This is only the fifth time Brady and Rodgers have faced off as starting quarterbacks. Brady’s teams have won three of four previous matchups, including Tampa Bay’s 31-26 NFC Championship Game win at Green Bay in the Bucs’ 2020 Super Bowl-winning season. Rodgers’ only win over a team managed by Brady was Green Bay’s 26-21 home triumph over New England in 2014. … The Packers allowed just one third conversion and 7 assists on the week last against the Bears. The 7 completions were the fewest they had allowed in a game since 2005. … Rodgers threw 2 touchdown passes last week to bring his career total to 451, becoming the fifth NFL player to have at least 450. Brady leads the way with 626. … The Packers committed just 5 penalties, the lowest total of any NFL team. … Green Bay’s Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon are the first Packers running back tandem to each have 20+ carries and 100+ yards rushing in the first two games of a season since John Brockington and MacArthur Lane in 1973 … Packers OLB Preston Smith had 2 sacks and a team-high 7 tackles against the Bears. … This game will represent a homecoming for Packers rookie WR Christian Watson, a second-round pick from North Dakota State who went to Plant High School in Tampa.

Fancy tip: Bucs RB Leonard Fournette. He is fifth in the NFL rushing with 192 yards, including 127 against the Cowboys. With Evans out, Brady is also thinking of trying to use him more in the passing game. … The Packers allowed Chicago’s David Montgomery to rush for 122 yards on just 15 carries. Dalvin Cook ran for 90 against them a week earlier.

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Cole Beasley gives Tom Brady another target as Bucs meet Packers’ Aaron Rodgers

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Cole Beasley Gives Tom Brady Another Target As Bucs Meet Packers’ Aaron Rodgers
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Three days after signing veteran receiver Cole Beasley to their practice squad, the Tampa Bay Bucs have announced they’re elevating him for tonight’s home opener against the Green Bay Packers.

Beasley, 33, was moved up with veteran guard John Molchon, who has spent the majority of the past two seasons on Tampa Bay’s practice squad. Realistically, Beasley could provide a handful of quality reps for a unit that will be without Mike Evans (one-game suspension) and Chris Godwin (hamstring), and could be missing Julio Jones (knee).

Jones will be a game-time decision, coach Todd Bowles said Friday.

“[Beasley’s] quick, catches up to speed [really] fast, he understands the system,” Bowles added. “He’s played and he’s got a lot of reps under him, so if we needed him I think he’ll be ready.”

Green Bay (1-1) at Tampa Bay (2-0)

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, WOFL-35

Betting line: Buccaneers by 1½, according to FanDuel SportsBook.

Against the spread: Packers 1-1, Buccaneers 2-0.

Series record: Packers lead 33-23-1.

Last meeting: Bucs beat Packers 31-26, NFC championship game, Jan. 24, 2021, at Green Bay.

Last week: Packers beat Bears 27-10; Buccaneers defeated Saints 20-10.

Packers offense: Overall (11), rush (6), pass (20), scoring (23).

Packers defense: : Overall (10), rush (27), pass (4), scoring (7).

Bucs offense: : Overall (24), rush (13), pass (23), scoring (18).

Bucs offense: : Overall (5), rush (T9), pass (8), scoring (1).

Turnover differential: Packers minus 2; Bucs plus-4.

Packers player to watch: RB Aaron Jones. He’s coming off a huge performance in which he rushed for 132 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries and caught 3 passes for 38 yards and another score. Jones struggled in the Packers’ two losses to Tampa Bay back in 2020. He rushed for 15 yards on 10 carries in the regular-season matchup and had a critical fumble in the NFC championship game while taking a hit that knocked him out for the rest of the day.

Bucs players to watch: QB Tom Brady. He hasn’t needed to be at his best the past two weeks in beating Dallas and New Orleans on the road, mainly because the Bucs defense has been so dominant. Through two games, he’s thrown for 402 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception after leading the NFL in completions, attempts, yards and TDs passing last season. The challenge this week is to get the Bucs offense rolling despite leading receiver Mike Evans serving a one-game suspension and the status of two other primary playmakers, Chris Godwin and Julio Jones, up in the air. Brady is 5-2 and has thrown for 15 TDs in 7 career starts against Green Bay, including playoffs.

Key matchup: Packers QB Aaron Rodgers vs. Bucs defense, which has a league-leading 10 sacks and allowed just 1 touchdown in two games. Tampa Bay forced 5 turnovers against the Saints last week and lead the league in fewest points allowed (13) and are tied for second in opponent first downs per game (15) and opponent third-down conversion rate (25%).

Key injuries: Packers OT David Bakhtiari hasn’t played yet this season and has appeared in only one game since tearing his left anterior cruciate ligament on Dec. 31, 2020. Godwin (hamstring) and Jones (knee), as well as Bucs LT Donovan Smith (elbow) didn’t play against the Saints. Their status for this week is uncertain.

Series notes: The Packers have won three of the past four regular-season matchups between the one-time NFC Central rivals.

Stats and stuff: The Packers and Bucs have the NFC’s two best regular-season records since 2020. The Packers have a 27-8 regular-season record, while the Bucs are 26-9. … This is only the fifth time that Brady and Rodgers have faced off as starting quarterbacks. Brady’s teams have won three of the four previous matchups, most notably Tampa Bay’s 31-26 NFC championship game victory at Green Bay during the Bucs’ 2020 Super Bowl-winning season. Rodgers’ lone victory over a Brady-led team was Green Bay’s 26-21 home triumph over New England in 2014. … The Packers allowed just one third-down conversion and 7 pass completions last week against the Bears. The 7 completions were the fewest they’d allowed in a game since 2005. … Rodgers threw 2 touchdown passes last week to increase his career total to 451, becoming the fifth NFL player to have at least 450. Brady leads the way with 626. … The Packers have committed only 5 penalties, the lowest total of any NFL team. … Green Bay’s Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon are the Packers’ first running-back tandem to each have 20-plus carries and 100-plus yards rushing in the first two games of a season since John Brockington and MacArthur Lane in 1973. … Packers OLB Preston Smith had 2 sacks and a team-high 7 tackles against the Bears. … This game will represent a homecoming for Packers rookie WR Christian Watson, a second-round pick from North Dakota State who went to Plant High School in Tampa.

Fantasy tip: Bucs RB Leonard Fournette. He’s fifth in the NFL in rushing with 192 yards, including 127 against the Cowboys. With Evans out, Brady figures to try to utilize him in the passing game more, too. … The Packers allowed Chicago’s David Montgomery to rush for 122 yards on only 15 carries. Dalvin Cook ran for 90 against them a week earlier.

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