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Sports

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Associated Press
Giants QB Eli Manning was sacked seven times Sunday in the Giants’ 38-0 loss to Carolina, including this one by the Panthers’ Charles Johnson.
NFL notebook

QBs being sacked at historic pace

Eli Manning went down seven times, EJ Manuel one more than that Sunday. NFL teams are on a near-record sacks pace, and it’s not solely because of what defenses are doing. These spread-out offenses are making quarterbacks more vulnerable than ever.

Heading into Oakland’s visit to Denver on Monday night, there have been 97 sacks in Week 3, five short of the record set in 1986’s 11th week. The New York Jets led the way with eight on Buffalo rookie Manuel.

“You get what’s coming to you when you play the Jets. If you dig a hole, that’s their game,” Bills center Eric Wood said.

The Carolina Panthers got those seven on the Giants’ Manning, including five in the first quarter.

“I think the big thing is you have to see how many passes are being thrown, more than anything else,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. “It’s funny, but when people are throwing the ball more, you are creating more opportunities (for sacks).”

Greg Hardy beat left tackle Will Beatty for three sacks.

“I’ve got one simple job – protect the guy with the ball. That’s my job,” Beatty said. “Do your job, good things are going to happen. I let it get way out of hand by having him go down.”

The sack parade began last Thursday night when Kansas City and Philadelphia combined for 11, including 3 1/2 by Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston, who leads the league with 6 1/2 . Houston is on pace for more than 30, which would obliterate Michael Strahan’s record of 22 1/2 .

So what gives, other than offensive lines that can’t protect passers?

In part, blame the current trend of more wide-open attacks, particularly when offenses spread out personnel and place the onus on five linemen to handle whatever number of rushers. By getting more skill players out in space on pass plays, there’s also more burden on quarterbacks to get rid of the ball quickly.

Bears lose Melton

Chicago lost starting defensive tackle Henry Melton for the season with a torn left anterior cruciate ligament.

Melton was designated the team’s franchise free agent this year and received $8 million, but is without a contract for next year. He had six sacks last season and seven in 2011, playing alongside defensive end Julius Peppers. He had a fumble recovery this season.

The Bears will replace Melton with former New York Giants defensive tackle Nate Collins and will likely have undrafted rookie Zach Minter active for Sunday’s game in Detroit.

Browns QB up in air

Cleveland coach Rob Chudzinski hasn’t decided whether to stick with Brian Hoyer at quarterback or go back to Brandon Weeden.

Hoyer, who leapfrogged backup Jason Campbell on the depth chart to start at Minnesota on Sunday, threw three touchdown passes as the Browns (1-2) stunned the Vikings 31-27.

On Monday, Chudzinski kept his options at quarterback open.

“I’m going to wait to make any determination on that until I have all the information,” Chudzinski said.

Chudzinski said Weeden’s sprained right thumb has improved, but the second-year QB hasn’t thrown the ball since getting hurt in the fourth quarter on Sept. 15 against Baltimore.

49ers’ Smith out

San Francisco linebacker Aldon Smith was placed on the reserve non-football injury list as he enters rehab for substance abuse and begins what team CEO Jed York has termed an indefinite absence.

Smith was arrested Friday on suspension of marijuana use and driving under the the influence. He played Sunday against Indianapolis and had five tackles. …

Pacman Jones cited

Cincinnati cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones was accused of making offensive comments while drunk and was given a disorderly conduct citation.

The Ohio State Patrol said Jones was arrested just after 2:30 a.m. Monday after the vehicle he was in was pulled over for speeding. The driver was cited for drunken driving while Jones was cited for disorderly conduct.

Both charges are misdemeanors. Jones has a hearing Friday.

Around the league

Green Bay released receiver and return man Jeremy Ross a day after the second-year player muffed a kickoff that set up a touchdown in the wild 34-30 loss to the Bengals. …

Jacksonville quarterback Blaine Gabbert, who missed the last two games after slicing open the back of his throwing hand, will start Sunday against Indianapolis. …

Arizona starting outside linebackers Sam Acho (broken leg) and Lorenzo Alexander (foot) are out for the season with injuries suffered in Sunday’s loss to New Orleans. …

Buffalo placed Alex Carrington on season-ending injured reserve after the starting defensive end tore his left quadriceps Sunday. …

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