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Archives for: April 30, 2018

Bills, among others, bringing Baker Mayfield in for predraft visit

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The Bills pick 12th in the 2018 NFL Draft, and everybody knows they want a quarterback. So they know they have to cast a wide net.

But Baker Mayfield keeps turning up in that net.

After Darnold at No. 1 overall, there’s a good chance all quarterbacks drafted in Round 1 will be selected following a trade. The Jaguars re-signed Blake Bortles to what amounts to a Mike Glennon-Bears-like contract. They still need a quarterback for the future and not much else. Trading this year’s first-round pick and next year’s first-round pick (and maybe a little more) could do the trick.

The Raiders added Jordy Nelson to their offense in free agency, and they likely will use the middle and later rounds of the draft to tweak that side of the ball to new coach Jon Gruden’s liking. But they need to continue adding talent across their defense. The secondary isn’t Oakland’s biggest weakness, but Fitzpatrick is easy to like and could give the Raiders another playmaker.

In signing TJ McDonald a year ago, the Dolphins addressed a need at safety but didn’t fix the problem for the long term. Maintaining a strong secondary would be wise after losing their defensive leader up front in Ndamukong Suh.

A league source tells PFT that Griffin recently worked out for the Ravens, as part of a courtship that began last year. A contract was offered near the start of training camp in 2017, at about the same time the Ravens engaged in a public debate over whether to sign Colin Kaepernick.

Griffin spent last year out of football, after his lone season with the Browns. He spent 2012 through 2015 in Washington, a team that ultimately devoted three first-round picks and a second-round pick to acquiring him.

Griffin became the 2012 NFL offensive rookie of the year, but a knee injury originally suffered against the Ravens derailed Griffin’s career. He was benched in 2015 for Kirk Cousins.

The Ravens haven’t ruled out selecting a quarterback in the first round of the draft, but Joe Flacco remains entrenched as the starter — in large part because his contract makes it virtually impossible for the Ravens to move on.bills_067

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Kyle Long expects “no limitations” this season after three surgeries

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Bears guard Kyle Long has spent a lot of time in the operating room over the last couple of years, but he’s feeling optimistic about his health heading into the 2018 season.

As more players have mastered the Eurostep, a growing subset has also starting marking successful Eurosteps with an exaggerated, start-and-stop shimmy:

Boogie down, big fella. When a center pulls a Eurostep, he can do whatever the hell he wants.

Russell Westbrook is probably the league’s preeminent Eurostep mime. He’ll bust out two or three in a row, even during live play. He spasm-dances his way back on defense.

You’ve almost certainly seen this running, right-handed beauty by now. We all love Kuzma’s audacious 3s, and the way Lakers fans sing “KUUUUUZZZZ” when they see him rising. Everyone shoots 3s now. There are maybe a half-dozen guys with a bills_055polished skyhook. That thing is magic.

Quarterback Johnny Manziel, a failed first-round pick of the Browns in 2014, is now blaming the Browns for not realizing that they were drafting a guy who prefers to wing it.

“If Cleveland did any of their homework they would have known I wasn’t a guy who came in every day and watched film,” Manziel said in a visit to The Dan Patrick Show. “I wasn’t a guy who really knew the X’s and O’s of football.”

He’s right, but at the time the Browns supposedly should have been doing their homework, Manziel was doing everything he could to create the impression that he was fully committed to football. Manziel was so focused on football that a decision to visit the Nike factory in Oregon in February 2014 actually made waves.

So it’s now Cleveland’s fault for not realizing he was pretending to be something he isn’t?

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Josh Allen To Visit Jets?

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Will Josh Allen visit the Jets at their Florham Park facility, or won’t he? There are conflicting reports on that front, as we heard from Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com earlier this week that Allen would indeed be making the trek to New Jersey, but last night Rich Cimini of ESPN.com suggested that would not be the case.

Dragging his overachieving club into the postseason with this season’s Hart Trophy-worthy play, Nathan MacKinnon shines as a long-shot fantasy gem on a team with little chance of advancing past the first round. However, those more audacious fantasy managers willing to go all-in on an Avalanche upset may as well also pick up MacKinnon’s linemates Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen. Defenseman Tyson Barrie collected 57 points in 68 games this season, including 30 with the man advantage, and stands as the lone attractive blue-line asset.

In net, backup Jonathan Bernier has been outstandingly mediocre in relief of No. 1 Semyon Varlamov, who’s projected to miss the entire first round with an enduring knee injury.

During a loss to Dallas on Nov. 27, 2010, LeBron’s first season in Miami, a video clip of LeBron bumping Spoelstra as he strode toward the huddle during a timeout went viral. The team had lost four of five games at that point, dropping its record to 9-8, and held a long, private meeting following the game. ESPN, citing unnamed sources, reported a few days later that players were frustrated with Spoelstra and were “questioning whether he is the right coach for their team.”

“The Soul of Basketball” takes us one step further. Riley revealed in the book that the day after the Heat’s loss to Dallas, he asked James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to meet him in his office for 10 minutes to check on how the team leaders felt the young season was progressing.bills_044

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Moving to his left, a quick crossover dribble with his right hand allowed Simmons to begin showing his quickness.

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Ben Simmons sized up Doug McDermott as the two were isolated against each other near the foul line elbow, and quickly realized that he was not being guarded by someone who will be receiving any Defensive Player of the Year votes.

As McDermott fruitlessly swiped at the ball with his feet planted flat, Simmons scooted around him and went in for dunk.

Simmons was unable to record another triple-double (he leads all rookies with 12), finishing with 16 points, nine assists and seven rebounds to go along with four steals.

Rovert Covington helped out with point-rebound double-doubles, J.J. Redick had a team-high 18 points, and there was not a heck of a lot else to autopsy after an afternoon matinee game that was as unremarkable as McDermott’s defensive prowess.

Except for this: Philadelphia recorded 32 assists, extending their NBA-high streak of having at least 20 assists to 33 consecutive games.

“It’s not easy to win in this league, 14 games in a row,” said Marco Belinelli, who added 15 points. “We are playing good basketball right now, on defense and offense too. I think today we didn’t play a good game, but we found a way to win this game.”

Manziel participated in The Spring League on Saturday, finishing 9-of-15 for 82 yards and a touchdown. He was also sacked three times. The former Cleveland Browns quarterback played about half of the game, the first of two in the Spring League, a developmental league for NFL hopefuls.

Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com said he spoke to a number of scouts from the NFL and CFL about what they were seeing from Manziel, and the consensus seemed to be that he was “attentive and interactive.” Spring League head of operations Terry Shea, who has coached many NFL quarterbacks, said Manziel was asking the right questions.

“We’ll introduce him to, say, a play where a quarterback can go to the line of scrimmage and have a’check with me’ to one run or another. And then he’ll say,’Coach, I understand doing it that way, but would you ever consider it this way instead, and here’s why?'” Shea said. “He’s not challenging. He’s inquiring, and that shows me an active and engaged mind.”

Shea also believes Manziel has an NFL future.bills_008

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Packers WR Trevor Davis arrested for making joke about bomb at LAX

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Green Bay Packers wide receiver Trevor Davis was arrested on a misdemeanor threat charge at Los Angeles International Airport on Sunday, police confirmed to NFL.com.

Patricia reiterated the importance of improving offensive balance, but also said the Lions will always do what’s necessary to win – whether that means running the ball more or throwing most of a game. Specifically, talking about the ground game, it was noted the Lions’ attack will likely mirror the Patriots’ multi-faceted usage of their backfield options from week to week to take advantage of mismatches.

“Anything we do, we certainly don’t want to give our opponents any advantage,” Patricia said. “Again, we’re always going to try to work hard than them, we’re always going to try to come up with a scheme that gives us and advantage and puts our players in position to make plays. It’s not necessarily the Xs and Os, it’s who is the X and who is the O and what’s the matchup.”

We know statistically your best chance of success is by rewarding your own players and maintaining that quality core. That is what drove that. We are certainly aware quarterback deals have evolved since then. We know that at the right time we will have to evolve as well. We don’t think this is the time right now. What we are going to focus on right now is building the best team for 2018 we possibly can.”

Dalton is due $13.9 million this year, which is on the low end for starting quarterbacks who are no longer on their rookie contracts. But with three more years on his deal, Dalton can’t really expect the Bengals to tear up his contract and give him a new one — especially when Dalton’s passer rating has declined three straight years.

Some day Dalton may get a new deal with the Bengals, but that day will not be this year. And probably not next year, either.

The free-agency acquisitions of Cousins and Siemian suggest Minnesota is set with its starter and backup. The former was made the highest-paid player in the NFL, and the latter finally finds himself in a clear role after a couple years of muddiness in Denver. Barring catastrophic injury or an enormous drop-off in Cousins’ production, the Vikings are set for a few years.rams_063

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Don’t tell that to David Johnson

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In Wednesday morning’s interview with SiriusXM Mad Dog Sports Radio , host Adam Schein asked just how prolific new coordinator Mike McCoy’s offense can be if Bradford stays healthy this year.

“Oh, we’re going to be great if Sam Bradford ‘s healthy,” Johnson replied. “From me watching him personally, I’ve seen him do some great things. The biggest thing is just being healthy.

“Not just with the addition of him but with also with the linemen we got, the receivers and everyone else that we have added to the team on the offensive side, I think we definitely will be the top offense in the league this year.”

Bradford’s brilliant performance in the 2017 season opener (27 of 32 for 346 yards and three touchdowns) was one of the most impressive displays of ball placement we’ve seen in recent years. Playing behind a tattered offensive line the previous season, he led the NFL in completion rate (71.6) while topping Pro Football Focus’ accuracy ratings on deep passes (20 yards or more downfield).

A healthy Bradford is no afterthought, much less a laughingstock.

That said, there’s perhaps no bigger injury risk in the league. Despite Johnson’s optimism over the offensive line, it’s a shaky group tasked with keeping Bradford’s fragile limbs out of harm’s way.

In a recent poll conducted by NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah, three of five NFL executives chose the Cardinals as the franchise most likely to trade up in the draft for a quarterback.

We’re waiting for a lot of results. I think there are a few more he’s probably got to go through, to follow up with some of the tests he’s had. I think they want to see some more on some things. I think he’s, for the most part, been through most all of them.

What are his symptoms?rams_008

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NHL moves up All-Star skills competition, game in 2019

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The NHL is moving up its All-Star skills competition and game next season.

After years of holding the skills competition on Saturday night and the All-Star Game on Sunday, the NHL is moving each event up a day for the 2019 weekend hosted by the San Jose Sharks. The skills competition will take place on Friday, Jan. 25 and the game on Saturday, Jan. 26 at SAP Center.

The league announced the change Monday.

Luke Walton’s team was already playing without Lonzo Ball (knee contusion), Brandon Ingram (concussion) and Isaiah Thomas (hip) when it lost Kyle Kuzma in the third quarter to a mild left ankle sprain.

Kuzma, who was already playing through a sprained right ankle, had X-rays that were negative on his left ankle. Butler was available to play Thursday night, but the Wolves opted to keep the guard out for one more game to be safe. Minnesota lost that game 100-96 at Denver.

With Butler back in the starting lineup, all five of Minnesota’s starters scored in double figures.

Jeff Teague had 25 points and eight assists and Karl-Anthony Towns put up 14 points, 11 rebounds and 3 blocks after a slow start. Taj Gibson added 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Wolves.

Romero appeared in two games this season for the Nationals, allowing three runs over two innings for a 13.50 ERA. In 55 appearances for Washington since the beginning of 2017, he was 2-4 with two saves and a 3.90 ERA.

Manziel’s CFL rights are owned by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Their general manager, Eric Tillman, was among the NFL and CFL representatives in attendance. A total of 17 NFL teams have sent scouts to practices, according to Spring League CEO Brian Woods.

Manziel attended high school about two hours away in Kerrville, Texas, and most of the estimated 2,500 in attendance Saturday at Kelly Reeves Stadium appeared to be in support of their local hero. Manziel showed some glimpses of his playmaking ability, leaving the pocket twice to complete passes — including the touchdown — while also producing scrambles of 11 and 10 yards. The competition was inferior to what he would face in the NFL or CFL, but he gave scouts of both leagues an important check-in on his progress.buccaneers_079

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Titans agree to deal with veteran DT Bennie Logan

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Giants: RHP Jeff Samardzija (right pectoral strain) pitched three innings in a simulated game and is expected to throw make a rehab start later this week. He could be activated next week.

He has one year left on his current deal.

The Nuggets outscored Portland 35-20 afterward.

“Coaches are funny that way,” Devin Harris said. “I thought it was the right thing to do. Obviously, I thought Jamal got fouled. But he used it to kind of fire us up and we needed a little bit of an energy pick-up right there and I thought Coach gave it to us.”

The teams ahead of Denver in the playoff race haven’t done the Nuggets any favors. A loss to Portland would have eliminated the Nuggets from playoff contention because the Spurs, Timberwolves, Thunder and Pelicans all won Monday night.

They won’t be watching the scoreboard Wednesday night, either.

Hurns had a break-out season in 2015, hauling in 64 receptions for more than 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns. But he has played in just 21 games in the two seasons since, catching a combined 74 passes with five touchdowns.

Some of Hurns’ problems since 2015 have rested with inconsistent quarterback Blake Bortles and the team’s shift in philosophy. Marquise Lee also emerged as a threat during the last two seasons, taking targets away from Hurns.

With Allen Robinson now with the Bears, and Hurns set to be released, Jacksonville has given up on the talented wide receiver tandem that took the NFL by storm in 2015.

Kintzler came on in the seventh and promptly gave up consecutive hits to Amed Rosario and Cabrera to make it 2-2. Then Kintzler — who allowed Jay Bruce’s grand slam Thursday — got Frazier to hit a bouncer up the middle. But Michael Conforto was running from first on the play and was safe when second baseman Howie Kendrick bobbled the ball before throwing over to get Frazier.buccaneers_021

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Broncos’ Von Miller being investigated over catching shark, report says

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The Broncos’ Von Miller caught a 9 1/2-foot hammerhead shark last week during a fishing trip off the coast of Miami, but the linebacker is facing some heat.

According to a report from TMZ.com, Miller is being investigated by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission on whether he violated any rules in catching the shark. The probe comes after Miller posted photos and video posing with a shark that’s covered in bloody smudges.

PETA made the FWC aware of the social media posts and said the organization would “ensure that Miller is held accountable if killing this animal, was, as we suspect, illegal.”

For the Yankees, injured Aaron Hicks, who was set for a rehab start Monday night and could rejoin the Yankees in Boston, is 8-for-23 (.348) against Sale, but he’s the only current Yankees player with any success against the skinny left-hander — this Yankees group hits a combined .183 with one homer in 126 at-bats against Sale.

Aaron Judge heads the futility list, coming in 0-for-12 with 10 strikeouts against Sale. Brett Gardner is 4-for-23 (.174) and Gary Sanchez 3-for-17 (.176) with seven strikeouts.

Sanchez, off to a dreadful start at the plate, missed the last two games with a sore calf, but he hopes to play Tuesday night.

Holland then walked Orlando Arcia, and three-time All-Star closer was pulled.

“I hope it’s a rarity, but sometimes you just don’t have a good feel for the strike zone,” Holland said. “Obviously today I struggled with my command kind of from the go.”

St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said Holland won’t let this debut affect him down the road.

“We threw him right into the fire. It was a tough spot,” Matheny said. “To me it’s one of those where we let go and we know what we’re going to get from him. He’s a pro, and he’s going to keep working to get sharp and we know what we’re going to get.”

Matt Albers (2-0) gave up the tying run in the ninth. The Cardinals loaded the bases with no outs, and Dexter Fowler’s sacrifice fly tied it at 4.

Albers threw a scoreless 10th.buccaneers_008

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On the field and at Louisville’s pro day, Lamar Jackson remains elusive

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One of the biggest names in the NFL draft is keeping a low profile.

Quarterback Lamar Jackson, Louisville’s main attraction, was once again hard to pin down Thursday at the team’s pro day. He did not run the 40-yard dash or do any other agility drills, and he did not agree to interviews with reporters outside of brief segments on ESPN and NFL Network.

At least 27 NFL teams sent representatives, including head coaches, such as the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Mike Tomlin. Mayock and the NFL Network broadcasted live from the Trager Center indoor facility, and ESPN gathered video as well. In his brief television interviews, he talked strategy with Mayock, who said he was impressed with Jackson’s ability to call plays and diagnose defenses.

Otherwise, Jackson was coy. After sitting out the morning testing, he stood in a corner of the field and made stationary throws before spanning the full field for passing drills. He threw 59 passes but had only a few receivers, who dropped at least five balls. At one point, former Louisville wide receiver James Quick — who caught passes for Jackson during the position drills — dropped two in a row.

Part of why the networks pay us the funding they do, and the reason this is the best entertainment product in America, is you don’t know — one play can change a whole season. One play with one person. To do a good job managing an NFL franchise, we’ve always said understanding quality depth management, that’s our business.

Since Belichick took over the Patriots in 2000, he hasn’t been shy about drafting quarterbacks. As Brady ages, those selections have come in higher rounds:

A day after the NFL broadened the helmet-hit rule, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell expanded on the decision the league hopes will help make the game safer.

Our focus is how to take the head out of the game and make sure that we’re using the helmet as protection, and it’s not being used as a weapon, and that’s the core of what we’re focused on, and I think we made a tremendous amount of progress in that this week, Goodell said at the conclusion of the Annual League Meeting in Orlando on Wednesday.nike_broncos_066-500x500

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