Month: February 2017

How does college football’s spring practice work? Here are 5 quick things to know

Spring football is upon us, with a handful of FBS teams already holding workouts and the rest of them getting started in the next month or so. It’s a somewhat exciting respite from a cold, football-less, six-month stretch, and it’s also a unique quirk of the sport.

Spring ball seems simple, with players suiting up as the weather gets nicer and coming together with their coaches for the first time in a new season. But spring practices are the result of a complicated web of scheduling, NCAA regulations and individual program preferences.

Here’s a rundown on how it all works.

The NFC South remains the worst division in football and nothing is going to change that at this point. The Falcons were dominated by the Packers Monday, and fell to 5-8. Of course, they’re still tied for the NFC South lead with the New Orleans Saints, who are 5-8 after falling to the Carolina Panthers. Carolina dominated the Saints Sunday and is 4-8-1 on the season, within spitting distance of the division lead.

This division became a two-team race over the weekend. The San Francisco 49ers were holding on to hopes of taking the division, and technically there is still a chance of making it to the postseason. Given that they looked totally lost against the Oakland Raiders, of all teams, it’s not likely. Meanwhile, the Arizona Cardinals notched their 10th win of the season, while the Seattle Seahawks are just a game behind.

The Philadelphia Eagles put themselves on top of the NFC East with a win over the Dallas Cowboys in Week 13, but the division is tied up again after the Cowboys won Thursday and the Eagles fell to the aforementioned Seahawks. Both teams are at 9-4, and they’ll play each other again Sunday for Week 15. That game could decide the division.
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Josh McCown: ‘Four or five teams’ have reached out

Veteran free agent Josh McCown is watching the quarterback carousel as closely as anyone, and the teams looking for signal callers have an eye on him, too.

In an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio on Thursday, McCown said that “four or five teams” have already reached out.

“Those are all stopping points as you see the offseason unfolds: When the draft starts, when free agency hits. Because that’s when moves will take place and you know, teams will be changing their roster and re-ordering their depth chart and things like that,” McCown said. “That’s when I think, for me, it will be opportunistic to pick the best opportunity. We’ve had good conversations with four or five teams and we feel good about the opportunities that will be there so it’s about finding the right one.”

“The only thing I have a problem with is not so much the guys that are starting, that are playing, but there’s an awful lot of young guys out there who don’t get the opportunity to sit in that catbird seat,” Williams said Thursday on NFL Network’s Up To The Minute Live. “I’m talking about that backup quarterback slot, that practice squad guy that gets the opportunity to learn. Those are the spots that we usually don’t get.
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Jamar Taylor Kids Jersey “Now, you have teams like Buffalo, who have three African-American quarterbacks on their roster at the same time, and a couple of other teams, but when you’re talking about 32 teams and about the number of starting African-American quarterbacks in this league, and all of the guys who could have developed if given the opportunity, those are the things I think we miss on.

Buffalo was the most notable story from the 2016 season that touched all of these points, with backup EJ Manuel (who was previously exiled to the bench) replacing starter Tyrod Taylor in Week 17 in a move that was driven more by finances than performance. Buffalo was also once the home of backup quarterback Thad Lewis, who has bounced around the league and is currently out of football.

Maddon needs Montero as much as Montero needs Maddon

This year, Maddon needs Montero as much as Montero needs Maddon. With veteran catcher David Ross now in retirement, there¡¯s a void in the locker room. Montero is even more valuable to the team considering he¡¯s bilingual. The catcher is tight with the Cubs¡¯ Latin relievers, earning praise from Maddon for his handling of righty Pedro Strop as recently as Tuesday morning.

¡°He can be such a valuable liaison between coaches and the room,¡± Maddon said. ¡°He¡¯s looking forward to it.¡±

Montero admitted that his situation weighed on him during the short offseason. Both parties were asked often during the winter if there would be a meeting of the minds. Montero preferred it happened away from the Cubs¡¯ spring training facility, so when Maddon invited the catcher to dinner, he jumped at the chance. Montero picked a low-key Italian restaurant.

¡°The food was good,¡± Montero smiled. ¡°I think he liked it.¡±

Montero felt so good about the dinner that he insisted they take a picture to share on social media.

Johnson and Jeanie Buss were asked how long it will take to turn the franchise around.

“It’s going to take us a while,” Buss said. “I don’t want to fool the fans. We’re going to build this thing the right way.”

Johnson added: “I can’t turn it around tomorrow. Or I really would be Magic, right?”

Game Womens Shamarko Thomas Jersey One thing both said was that they are not trying to bring back the Showtime Lakers of Johnson’s era.

Justin Gilbert Mens Jersey “We’re not trying to turn back the clock,” Buss said. “The Lakers have figured out how to win in every era, and certainly the game has evolved and the rules have changed, and we know in our discussions about evolving with the game and looking at what the modern NBA is all about. This isn’t about going to the past and recreating Showtime. You can’t recreate Showtime. … This is about the future and about finding the right team for the style that Luke Walton wants to play.”

Johnson said he will fly on the team’s charter plane to Oklahoma City for the Lakers’ game Friday.

Patriots injury report for Super Bowl 2016: Stork upgraded to probable, Revis rests Friday

The New England Patriots are heading into Super Bowl 49 with a mostly healthy squad as they prepare to face the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday night.

Authentic Kids Mike Purcell Jersey Starting center Bryan Stork was upgraded to probable on Saturday afternoon, after being listed as questionable on the Patriots’ final injury report of the week on Friday. According to the NFL rules, a probable designation means the player has a 75 percent chance of taking part in the game, whereas a questionable designation implies a 50-50 shot to play.

Stork suffered a knee injury against the Baltimore Ravens in the Divisional round, and missed New England’s win over the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC title game. The rookie lineman has allowed just one sack in 830 snaps this season.

Harbaugh had previously denied the ESPN report, claiming the Ravens did not suspect foul play.

Jonathan Bullard Mens Jersey “We did not notice anything,” Harbaugh told ESPN. “We never had a ball that they used or anything like that on offense, so we don’t know anything about that in our game. We didn’t have a chance to handle any of their offensive footballs.

“As far as the kicking balls, it was 20 degrees out, so the balls were softer,” Harbaugh said. “Our guys told us during the game, and I just chalked that up to the fact that it was cold and that both teams were kicking the same kicking balls, so I didn’t think really anything of it during the game. Other than that, it’s not something we’ve really given any thought to at all.”

For every shiny bauble a general manager reaches for at the trade deadline, searching for pieces that fit perfectly into a playoff-drive or Stanley Cup puzzle, there are countless others with hidden jagged edges that end up leaving a franchise bloodied and battered.

With the trade deadline just two weeks away, here’s a look at the best and worst deals since the 2012 lockout.

Howard Beck writes that the Knicks and their fans are trapped in the ’90s.

McCutchen knows he could still be traded in midseason if the Pirates aren’t in contention, but he said he refused to speculate on if he will get to fulfill his dream of spending his whole career as a Pirate.

“I don’t think about that,” he said. “I’m trying to focus on right now. If I start thinking about everything else, I’m not going to focus on what’s in front of me. … Who knows what’s going to happen and transpire? We don’t know.”

He said he spent the winter trying to wash away the frustration of a disappointing season, in which he hit a career-low .256, with a .336 on-base percentage and .766 OPS. Now he can’t wait to get back to playing baseball and proving he’s a better player than that.

“Just looking forward to getting out on the field and playing,” he said. “Because I’m sure, as you guys know, you’re all sick of hearing about it, and I am too, just about everything that’s happened. I’m just ready to get my feet out there, ready to show that this is just the beginning of some good stuff.”

Howard Beck writes that the Knicks and their fans are trapped in the ’90s.

Welp. The NBA started selling #RaiseTheCat t-shirts, angering the Sixers fan who sparked the whole #RaiseTheCat movement (one that has been adopted by Ben Simmons and the Sixers).

Jeremy Lin is still an American icon, writes Joon Lee.

The Wednesday before All-Star Weekend is among the strangest nights in any NBA season. Twenty-eight teams are in action, with about 90 percent of the players prepping for a short getaway from basketball and the other 10 percent trying to keep focus before participating in the festivities. It’s like the last day of school. Tasks tend to fall through the cracks. Anyway, your ESPN doubleheader is Pacers-Cavaliers at 7 p.m. ET and Knicks-Thunder at 9:30.

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Will Cardinals franchise linebacker Chandler Jones?

The end of Chandler Jones’ story is already written.

Limited Mens Shareece Wright Jersey He’ll play for the Arizona Cardinals in 2017 one way or the other. Cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick would be the most likely candidate, but the projected $15 million price probably would scare off the Bengals from using it.

It’s how he gets to that point that is yet to be determined. They have plenty of cap space available, more than $40 million projected after they released Sam Shields and James Starks last week, so if ever they were going to make a splash in free agency, they’re well positioned to do it now.

Jones is the highest profile of the Cardinals’ 19 unrestricted free agents this offseason. Arizona has made it clear publicly it wants the 26-year-old outside linebacker back. They have two ways of doing that.

Prater doesn’t think he can get better from more kicks at this point. Getting stronger is the priority along with studying film to see whether there is any nuance to his motion he can shore up.

“You can always learn and try to get better,” Prater said. “But some of the misses that I had were obviously makeable kicks for me. Just didn’t make them.”

John Jenkins Limited Jersey He has yet to have a perfect season in the NFL — in 2013 he missed one field goal and in 2010 and 2015 he missed two field goals — but he’s been close. And he’s been about as reliable as a kicker can be in the NFL.

That’s been huge for the Lions, who went two-plus seasons searching for kicking stability after Jason Hanson’s retirement. Prater has provided that for Detroit, so whatever process he needs to take to remain the consistent kicker he’s been should work.

The Thunder shook up the 2016 NBA draft when, just days before Durant’s free agency

On one hand, we probably shouldn’t make too much of this because A) Cleveland won’t see any ?back-to-backs in the playoffs, and B) Kevin Love is suddenly dealing with knee trouble (if you’re really looking for something Cavs-related to fret about). On the other hand …

Cleveland’s loss Thursday night at Oklahoma City dropped the reigning champs to 0-7 on the second night of a back-to-back on the road this season. Given how talented they are, that stat has to be at least somewhat troubling. Especially so when that defeat left the Cavs as one of only four winless teams league-wide in that situation along with Brooklyn, Indiana and Dallas (all of whom are also 0-7). Interesting bit of trivia on the side: Derrick Williams’ arrival on a 10-day deal means the Cavs now have three of the top four picks (No. 1 Kyrie Irving, No. 2 Williams and No. 4 Tristan Thompson) from the draft that followed LeBron James’ first full season in Miami.

Limited Kids Ricardo Louis Jersey There’s a growing sense around the league ?that Ibaka could be on the move again as the league’s Feb. 23 trade deadline draws near.

The Thunder shook up the 2016 NBA draft when, just days before Durant’s free agency, they dealt Ibaka to the Magic. Orlando was willing to part with Victor Oladipo and the rights to No. 11 pick Domantas Sabonis to make the swap, confident that Ibaka could be sold on a long-term future in the Magic Kingdom.
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Seven months and change later, Orlando is exploring all of its options anew. League sources say the Magic are fielding calls from a handful of teams on Ibaka as the deadline approaches, amid undeniable concern that retaining the Congo native in free agency come July will prove much trickier than initially anticipated.

Boston Bruins fire head coach Claude Julien

The longest-tenured coaching relationship in the NHL is no more.

The Boston Bruins moved on from Claude Julien on Monday, firing the 56-year-old head coach early in the morning just days after a 6-5 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Julien had coached the Bruins for the last 10 seasons.

Assistant coach Bruce Cassidy will replace Julien behind the bench on an interim basis.

Julien¡¯s Bruins have made the playoffs in all but two seasons under his reign, but those two seasons happen to be the most recent ones. Boston doesn¡¯t look like a surefire playoff contender again this year, either ¡ª they sit a point back of the Flyers for the final Wild Card berth in the Eastern Conference.
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None of this matters if they don’t make it out of the first round again. But if they don’t, in this year of all years … maybe it was never meant to be. Because this last month was a statement of intent.
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Coyotes president Anthony LeBlanc came out with a strong denial on Thursday.

It¡¯s probably best to keep in mind that this news broke just six days after the Coyotes announced the joint arena deal with Arizona State fell through. It¡¯s also not the first time the Coyotes have been linked to the northwest, and it¡¯s likely not the last until an arena deal has been hammered out. Even so, speculation of a relocation likely won¡¯t die down until Seattle itself has a team.

Whether the Coyotes were just checking their options as they deal with their arena situation in Glendale or are legitimately looking into other cities in the northwest is anyone¡¯s guess. Either way, it¡¯s just another off-ice situation for fans to worry over while the team struggles on the ice.

Ravens owner gives 2014 season high marks despite his ‘absolute crappy year’

Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti called 2014 his “worst year as an owner,” but said the 10-6 season was a success for the franchise, in a season-review press conference held Tuesday.

Just one day after a loss in Week 1 to the Cincinnati Bengals, a video surfaced showing Ray Rice knocking his then-fiancee unconscious. Rice, who had served half of his two-game suspension, was released by the team later in the day and Bisciotti was criticized, along with the NFL, for the small punishment originally given to the running back.

Jackson put up eight consecutive 1,000-yard seasons with the St. Louis Rams between 2005 and 2012, including 1,045 yards (4.1 yards per carry) and four touchdowns in 2012. That was his final year with the team that drafted him all the way back in 2004. But it wasn’t just injuries that limited Jackson with the Falcons. He also struggled when he was actually on the field, posting per carry averages of 3.5 and 3.7 yards in 2013 and 2014. In all, he ran for 1,250 yards and 12 touchdowns in two seasons with the Falcons.

It’s unclear if Jackson is considering retirement or if he’ll see if he can catch on with a team in 2015. There’s no shortage of teams looking for a starting running back, but there’s also no shortage of big-name backs on the open market. Even in the aging veteran space, there are better options, such as San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore. On top of that, this NFL Draft class is strongest at running back. It could be tough for Jackson to find a team in 2015.

Coming off an embarrassing NBA Finals collapse, but with Kevin Durant in tow, the Warriors remained as talked-about as ever

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When scouts informed him he was an unlikely first-round candidate, he put his hoop dreams on hold to fulfill his destiny as the nation¡¯s No. 1 tight end prospect. He¡¯d have a familiar face to help him acclimate to his new environment, too ¡ª older brother (and future Super Bowl winner) Michael was waiting for him in College Station.

While the duo hasn¡¯t shared a locker room since their days at A&M, they¡¯ll have a big reunion on tap in their hometown for the Super Bowl.

Marty Bennett to call his brother: “I¡¯m about to Facetime him saying, ¡®Now, I¡¯m going to the Super Bowl mother——, meet me in Houston.¡¯”

Just last winter he was redefining everything. His pregame rituals were events, in part because they seemed like windows into a laboratory for a wholly new way of doing basketball. “He’s this generation’s Jordan,” said Jason Kidd. “We all wanted to be like Mike, and children today will grow up seeing Steph.” Kevin Garnett declared, “Like Michael Jordan was a whole other thing, this guy is his own thing. It’s beautiful for basketball.”

Coming off an embarrassing NBA Finals collapse, but with Kevin Durant in tow, the Warriors remained as talked-about as ever, just not because of the guy who drove 90 percent of the interest in their ascent. A man who drew Jordan comparisons from future Hall of Famers suddenly found himself in the backseat of a car he built.
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Early in the season, the Warriors obsessed over making Durant comfortable. Curry participated in that project, starting with the free-agency recruitment meeting, after which Curry texted Durant that he couldn’t care less who was the face of the franchise, who got the most recognition or who sold the most shoes.