- Associated Press - Saturday, October 4, 2014

Texans defensive end J.J. Watt did something he never dreamed he’d get accomplished as a kid when he surprised his mother with a white Range Rover for her birthday this week.

He described what he wrote in the card.

“I said: ‘Growing up on TV I saw all the commercials with (cars with) red bows on them at Christmas time,’” Watt said. “And I always thought to myself: ‘Who can do that? Who can just buy a whole car for somebody’s birthday or for Christmas and then put a bow on it in the driveway?’ I was like: ‘Could you imagine if you could do that for somebody, how awesome that would be?’

His mother was in Wisconsin for her big day, so Watt had a brother send him a video of the moment she received the vehicle.

Watt, the Defensive Player of the Year in 2012, signed a six-year, $100 million contract last month and wanted to share some of his newfound wealth with his mother.

“To be able to give back to her and surprise her like that … there is really no better feeling in the world than that,” Watt said. “Just being able to take care of your family, to take care of those that are closest to you, no better way to spend my money than that.”


GOT TO BE THE HAIR: Titans backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst beat out starter Jake Locker for one honor: He’s been chosen one of Nashville’s 25 most beautiful people by Nashville Lifestyles magazine.

And wide receiver Nate Washington wasn’t surprised one little bit.

“You seen them locks,” Washington said with a laugh.

Whitehurst has flowing brown hair, which helped earn him the nickname “Clipboard Jesus.” When he started against Indianapolis last week, Whitehurst pulled his hair back into a bun that poked out from underneath his helmet. But Whitehurst also brings a fashion sense to his game-day attire, with a recent outfit featuring a suit and flat-brimmed hat in a nod to actor Johnny Depp.

“He’s definitely a spiffy guy,” Washington said of Whitehurst. “From the suit to the hat, he’s going to give you something that’s going to be an eyebrow raiser.”

Locker, who prefers a ball cap and jeans himself, said his wife told him he wasn’t allowed to take part in Nashville’s most beautiful list.

“He’s far more beautiful than I am,” Locker said of Whitehurst.


NO NIGHT OWLS: The Bengals completely changed their practice and meeting routine this week in an attempt to do better when they’re up late at night.

Unlike high-profile teams that get bumped around the Sunday schedule and wind up with a lot of night games, the Bengals (3-0) have been left alone in the 1 p.m. time slot for the most part. That became a challenge as they got ready to play at New England (2-2) on Sunday night.

Coach Marvin Lewis gave the players a later reporting time during the week and pushed practice back by three hours - it started at 4 p.m., an hour after it usually ended. He also had crowd noise played over the public address system at Paul Brown Stadium, trying to get the players ready for the din at Foxborough.

“You’re usually in a normal routine - if we’re not playing a night game, we’re playing all 1 o’clock games - so you get into a routine,” quarterback Andy Dalton said. “Your schedule’s a little different. But playing at night, it’s really no different. It’s just you have to wait around a lot longer to play.”

Cincinnati hasn’t done very well at the waiting-and-playing adjustment. The Bengals are 3-12 on Sunday night, 10-20 on Monday night, 5-3 on Thursday night, 0-1 on Friday night and 0-2 on Saturday night.


SAFETY VALVE: The free-agent addition of safety Malcolm Jenkins has quickly paid off for the Philadelphia Eagles. Jenkins already has a career-high three interceptions, becoming the first Eagles player to have picks in three straight games since Asante Samuel in 2010. He’s the first safety to do it since Brian Dawkins in 2004. The Eagles had a revolving door at safety after allowing Dawkins to leave in free agency following the 2008 season. Jenkins, who came over from the New Orleans Saints, has solved that problem. He’s become the defensive leader and bolstered a secondary that struggled mightily last year.

“He’s been an unbelievable guy around this building in terms of his preparation, in terms of the amount of time he puts in from film study and understanding the game itself,” coach Chip Kelly said. “I think he just fits. We’re not a team that wants to have one guy who’s a down safety, one guy who’s a high safety. You have to be able to do both, and I think his ability to do all those different things, to cover in man-to-man situations, to play in the box and to also play high, really adds to where he is. His versatility really attracted us to him right from the get go.”


SPECIAL PLAYER: Matthew Slater is a rare bright spot for the struggling New England Patriots.

The special teams captain is having another outstanding season after being chosen for the past three Pro Bowls. And he thinks he can help the rest of the team stay upbeat after a 2-2 start.

“I think as a leader and with my unit we just try to continue to do and focus on our jobs,” Slater said. “And when it comes to the offense and the defense, I think it’s about lifting guys up.

“At this time of the year with the way things have gone, there is so much negativity, there has to be a positive voice. And I think for me it’s important to remain positive with those guys. We still believe in everyone on this team. We still believe we have a good, competitive football team. We don’t need to beat ourselves down. We need to stay upbeat and keep working.”

The Patriots have yet to play a solid game against a decent team, losing to Miami before beating Minnesota and Oakland. Then they were routed by Kansas City 41-14 on Monday night.

“I feel confident that we’ll be a resilient group and bounce back, but time will tell,” Slater said. “I know everyone is ready to hit the panic button, but there is a lot of football left to be played.”


AP Pro Football Writers Barry Wilner, Rob Maaddi and Teresa M. Walker, and Sports Writers Joe Kay, Howard Ulman and Kristie Rieken contributed to this story.


AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL



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