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Category Archives: Oakland Raiders

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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Danny Shelton quickly embraces the Patriot Way

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One of the most important aspects of ing for the Patriots is sounding like a Patriot. New defensive tackle Danny Shelton already has that down cold.

I think the biggest thing I’ve learned is part of the formula to winning is doing your job, Shelton told reporters during a Monday conference call introducing him as a member of the team. I see that everywhere at the facility with everyone just staying focused and having that same goal leading toward success. That’s what I want to be a part of.

When the Patriots make bargain-basement deals for failed first-round picks, however, there’s no guarantee that things will work out. But here’s one guarantee: Belichick won’t hesitate to admit failure and move on.

So it’s on Shelton to show that he can get it done. At least for now he can speak the part.

The top five of the upcoming quarterback draft class — Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen, Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson — have gotten all the attention, but there is talent to be had in the later rounds.

If you’re looking for a second- or third-round quarterback that’s intriguing to me, that would be Kyle Lauletta from Richmond, ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said. He would be the most intriguing second- or third-round type of guy. Followed probably by Mike White from Western Kentucky.

And a guy in the fifth, sixth, seventh round that could be interesting, if you can put him on the shelf for a couple of years, Chase Litton from Marshall. Had he gone back to Marshall and had a big year, he probably would have been a second-round pick. Now you may be able to get a guy like Litton in the fifth or sixth round.jets_055

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Here’s my story breaking down the winners and losers from this swap.

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Washington’s stunning trade for a new quarterback should reverberate around the league; a half-dozen teams that weren’t involved with the deal suddenly saw their offseason plans change or come into focus.

The deal (and Smith’s subsequent extension) obviously suggest Washington will be moving on from incumbent quarterback Kirk Cousins, who will hit unrestricted free agency.

“It was then I knew that I could compete on this level,” Acuna said. “I got the taste and now I’m even more hungry. I’m here to prove myself worthy.”

He followed his 2017 spring training showing with a line of.325/.374/.522, along with 21 home runs and 44 steals over 139 games across three minor league levels. Then, before he went home to Venezuela for the winter, Acuna lit up the Arizona Fall League. In 23 games, he hit seven home runs and slashed 325/.414/.639.

“I’ve been telling people about this kid for a while now,” Jones said. “He’s got every tool and then some. Ronald is a rare talent. We are lucky to have him in the organization.”

Minnesota Vikings | Age heading into 2018 season: 30 News: Cousins plans to sign with Vikings Cronin: Cousins’ expected signing raises Super Bowl hopes Insiders: Does Cousins make Vikings the new NFC favorite? After two years under the franchise tag with combined earnings of nearly $44 million, Cousins will experience a rarity for upper-level quarterbacks: a true bidding war for his services.

Even the most casual of baseball fans have been exposed to WAR, despite it being a fairly new invention FanGraphs did not publish the first WAR leaderboards until 2008 but despite its popularity as a metric, its calculation is nowhere near as intuitive as something like batting average or ERA. So if you’ve ever wondered how WAR is calculated, what it means, and how to use it, here’s the article for you.

When the 2016 Mets lost first baseman Lucas Duda to injury, they desperately needed a player to step in and take Duda’s slot. All the big-name free agents had already signed, so the Mets traded for James Loney. At that point, Loney spent the first half of the season at Triple A El Paso.

Outfielder Eloy Jimenez, commonly considered the top prospect in Chicago’s system and one of the best in all of baseball, spent just a few weeks at Double-A at the close of the 2017 season where he hit.353 in 18 games but his sights are set on making his major league debut this year.ravens_144

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Why would teams be interested in McCarron?

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That leaves the Bills among the few teams with a hole at quarterback. The Broncos would have made sense before it was reported that they’ll sign Case Keenum McCarron is familiar with Denver’s head coach, Vance Joseph, who was the Bengals’ defensive backs coach from 2014-15.

Being a relatively inexperienced player who spent most of his early NFL career as a backup hasn’t stopped teams in the past. Two years ago, Brock Osweiler received a four-year, $72 million deal from the Texans and last year Mike Glennon got a three-year, $45 million contract from the Bears.

McCarron is set to be the next in that group of young backup quarterbacks to get a big contract in free agency, and just like Osweiler and Glennon it probably won’t be the best idea for whichever team signs on the dotted line.

As pitchers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine joked in that old Nike commercial: Chicks dig the long ball. YES posted its best numbers among female viewers in five years. The ratings were particularly strong among affluent women, with a household income of $150,000 or more.

The result has been a lucrative start to the new 2018 season for YES and the Yankees.

The network’s ad revenue is up double-digits from the same point last season. With fans interested in both the distance and velocity of home runs hit by Judge/Stanton/Sanchez/Bird, YES is examining ways to integrate the themes of distance and speed into sponsors’ advertising campaigns.

MORE: Lawsuit threatens to take MLB back down PED path

Along Madison Avenue, the network is selling its product against the top-rated entertainment and news programs; not just sports.

Why not? asks Levinson. With a team of charismatic young stars right out of Central Casting and a new manager in Aaron Boone replacing Joe Girardi, the soap opera known as the 2018 Yankees should be as entertaining as any primetime drama, comedy or cop show.packers_095

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Yankees’ Aaron Boone on World Series expectations: ‘The hunger is there’

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Yankees reliever Dellin Betances said this season would be a disappointment if the Yankees fail to win the World Series. It turns out new manager Aaron Boone agrees.

“Well, he’s right about the World Series would be a great year,” Boone said Tuesday in a press conference. “We understand the expectations and I think one of the things that’s exciting for me is to hear these comments and to be around these guys, as they’ve trickled in the last few days, as I’ve trickled in.

One of Boone’s first tasks will be managing Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. Both play the same defensive position, meaning one will have to be designated hitter.

Judge is also coming back from offseason shoulder surgery, but Boone was just happy to have two of the most dangerous sluggers on his roster.

“He’s doing well,” Boone said of Judge. “We talk about managing individuals and getting individuals ready and we’ll certainly be as cautious as we need to be in the early days. But I think the one thing that’s exciting about both of those guys is we’ve got two — obviously an MVP, a Rookie of the Year — guys that are tremendous players.

“Both guys are really good defenders as well. And both guys, when I answer that last question, talking about quality individuals that you can tell it’s about winning for them. It’s about trying to chase down that championship for them.

Some of this might be nothing more than a product of adjusting to a new and different role, but Devenski also ditched his curveball in 2017, so he was adapting to a new pitch mix as well. He gets good whiff rates on his three other pitches a fastball, changeup, and slider but it’s his changeup that has proven to be the most difficult for batters. Devenski’s offspeed pitch generates a whiff rate of just under 51 percent, and he held hitters to a .150 average against his changeup. For comparison, Kyle Hendricks had a whiff rate of less than half that during his sterling 2016 season.

The stuff is there, and Devenski is well-suited to propel the Astros back to the postseason. And for as well as he did last year, Devenski is poised to make a pronounced mark in 2018.

Cousins’ representation could have structured the deal in such a way to virtually ensure that he saw at least four years of that money, given that top-tier quarterbacks almost always make it to the next-to-last year in their deal.

The Vikings wouldn’t have blinked. packers_008

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Steelers veteran Mike Mitchell likely to be cap casualty, source says

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Safety Mike Mitchell’s four-year run with the Steelers might be up. The Steelers are likely to release Mitchell because of his $8.1 million salary-cap charge but are interested in him returning on a new deal, according to a source.

Releasing Mitchell should save the Steelers around $5 million in cap room, which is necessary for a team that enters the weekend with $1.022 million in space.

“Just hand us all some flags. Hand us all some flags, and we’ll go out there and try to grab the flags off. Because we’re not playing football,” Mitchell said. “This is not damn football. When I was 6 years old watching Charles Woodson, Rod Woodson, Sean Taylor, the hitters, Jack Tatum — that’s football. This ain’t football.”

The Steelers have restructured three contracts since February and can create more cap space by reworking veteran deals or releasing players. The Steelers have not informed 33-year-old cornerback William Gay of his status. Releasing Gay would save $1.75 million in space.

Sherman was an instrumental figure in Seattle’s historically good defense, which allowed the fewest points in the NFL every year from 2012 to 2015. During his seven seasons with the team, the Seahawks made five playoff appearances, reached two Super Bowls and delivered Seattle its first NFL championship.

Elway had said early in the offseason “for us to have a chance to get better we have to get better at that position.”

The Broncos had three quarterbacks start games this past season — Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch and Brock Osweiler — but it was a bumpy ride on offense as the Broncos were among the league leaders in turnovers and offensive coordinator Mike McCoy was fired in November.

Only the winless Cleveland Browns threw more interceptions than the Broncos’ 22, and Denver had just one receiver catch more than 50 passes and finish with more than 560 yards receiving — Demaryius Thomas with 83 catches and 949 yards.buccaneers_088

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Red Sox, J.D. Martinez contract signing delayed by language

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The Red Sox are apparently still tweaking the language in J.D. Martinez’s contract and are not worried about the slugger’s current physical condition.

Since news broke last week that the two sides had reached a five-year deal worth $110 million, rumors have swirled that Martinez’s physical uncovered a problem. Those fears heightened Friday when NBC Sports Boston reported the Red Sox and Martinez had agreed to consult “additional medical experts.”

Here’s the thing: They shouldn’t be necessary.

If pitchers and catchers could communicate with each other with actual words, with headsets or earpieces, the trips to the mound wouldn’t be necessary. Opposing teams can’t steal signs if there aren’t signs to steal. And if there are no signs to steal, there’s no need to be worried about stolen signs and far fewer reasons for time-consuming mound visits.

The complaint comes a month after the MLBPA hinted their frustrations to the league. However, MLB said, “We do not have concerns about the Pirates’ and Marlins’ compliance with the Basic Agreement provisions regarding the use of revenue sharing proceeds.”

Teams are required to use the revenue-sharing money to improve the on-field product but not necessarily on their major-league payroll, according to the collective bargaining agreement.

MLB acknowledge the grievance, which was filed Friday, in a statement to the Times adding they “believe it has no merit.”

The Pirates responded in a statement Tuesday from president Frank Coonelly calling the complaint “baseless” and a “meritless claim.”

“As previously indicated, our revenue sharing receipts have decreased for seven consecutive seasons while our Major League payroll has more than doubled over this same period. Our revenue sharing receipts are now just a fraction of what we spend our major League payroll,” the statement read.buccaneers_031

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2018 NBA All-Star Game: Reserves leaked ahead of announcement

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The 2018 NBA All-Star reserves — as selected by league head coaches — were leaked ahead of Tuesday’s 7 p.m. ET scheduled announcement on TNT.

Damian Lillard, Jimmy Butler, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Karl-Anthony Towns, Russell Westbrook and LaMarcus Aldridge were named Western Conference reserves, according to multiple reports and later confirmed by the NBA.

“I see it in practice,” Dragic told Heat.com’s Couper Moorhead about Adebayo’s defense. “He can stay in front of guys, points guards, two guards, three guards. He’s athletic enough and he’s great at contesting those shots.”

Adebayo’s versatility makes him an ideal fit in Erik Spoelstra’s system. He can use his speed and length to swarm ball handlers in pick-and-rolls and recover to his assignment before they can get off a clean look.

Emily Kaplan, national NHL reporter: The Los Angeles Kings. A potential first-round matchup with the Predators could debunk my pick; a date with the Vegas Golden Knights would be much more favorable. Either way, I like the Kings to get hot at the right time. Center Jeff Carter is playing with a vengeance; he has three goals and 23 shots in his first five games back since missing 55 games with a lower-body injury. Los Angeles is still one of the league’s elite defensive teams (2.5 goals allowed per game) and the whole been-there-done-that aspect cannot be understated.

Chris Peters, NHL prospects writer: It’s the Kings for me, too. Goal prevention is a huge indicator of contender status — and, as Emily notes, L.A. is among the best. In fact, only the Predators, with their loaded D corps and Pekka Rinne, have allowed fewer goals per game. Goalie Jonathan Quick is having his best season in years and Anze Kopitar is playing at a level where I think he could carry this team on a deep run.lions_026

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Oakland A’s release designated hitter Brandon Moss

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Designated hitter Brandon Moss has been released by the Oakland Athletics.

Moss was acquired from Kansas City on Jan. 29 and was 4-for-10 with two walks in four spring training games. He was designated for assignment when Oakland claimed left-hander Jairo Labourt off waivers from Cincinnati on Sunday.

Braun has been taking ground balls daily during practice, though with his history of back problems, the Brewers have been careful to monitor that workload. He is comfortable with the basics of the position, but it’s the smaller intangibles, including the footwork required to play the position, on which Braun has been focusing most of his attention.

He also has had to pick up the nuances of defensive shifts, which are more common now than when Braun broke into the majors as a third baseman in 2007.

Milwaukee had yet to pursue Cain or Yelich when Counsell first approached Braun with the idea of playing first base, after injuries limited him to 105 games last season.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner said he will wear the number his brother used as an amateur.

“I always looked up to my brother,” Lincecum said. “He was an idol for me. He just had a lot of bad runs with the choices he made in life.”

Texas general manager Jon Daniels said the 33-year-old right-hander will be a reliever and that he could be the Rangers’ closer as he attempts to pitch in the big leagues for the first time since 2016.

“I think it’s a great opportunity,” Lincecum said. “It was a difficult decision with the Dodgers and the Rangers, but it came down to those two teams. I thought the Rangers would be a better fit. The conversations that we had just made me feel a little bit more warm and fuzzy inside.”

Lincecum is fascinated about becoming a closer.

“I feel like I could do that,” he said. “I’ve done that in the Cape [Cod League] and at the college level. It is going to be, obviously, different, but I feel like I could tap into that mentality.”

Lincecum has made only eight regular-season relief appearances and seven in the postseason.

“Right now, I’m just trying to see where I fit on this team,” he said. “The idea was to go to a bullpen role because I felt like that’s what would be best for the way I am right now and at this point in my career.”raiders_009-223x223

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Todd Haley’s departure from the Steelers came as no surprise, but the writing was on the wall for some time.

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During a radio appearance with ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith at Super Bowl 52 in Minneapolis, running back Le’Veon Bell revealed that the former offensive coordinator didn’t always see eye to eye with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

“I feel like it was a lot of third downs Todd would maybe call something that Ben didn’t like,” Bell said, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “There’s certain plays that Ben didn’t like. As a player, you’ve always got plays that you like, plays you dislike. It would be a big situation, and Todd would call a play that Ben don’t necessarily like, and he tried to go out there and just execute it because the play is called.”

“Randy’s only kind of going to give Ben what he wants, you know, make him comfortable,” Bell said. “Because third downs, that’s the biggest thing, that was our Achilles heel was third downs and red zone.”

The Steelers finished the regular season 13-3 before their hopes of winning a seventh Super Bowl were halted one game into the playoffs, though they opened at 8-1 odds Monday behind the Patriots and Eagles to win the championship next season.

As if an extra obstacle had to be put in their path, Philly had to beat the defending champions and the defining dynasty of this generation, the Patriots, on Sunday night in Minneapolis to do it. And one more wall to scale: They did it with their backup quarterback, Nick Foles, instead of the second-year sensation they lost to a knee injury with a month remaining in the regular season, Carson Wentz.

Wentz was a serious NFL MVP candidate when he went down. Tom Brady won the award instead. Foles, though, has a trophy Brady couldn’t get, couldn’t add to the five he already possessed.

In years to come, that may be remembered as strongly as the fact the Eagles took their name off a short list they despised being on, the list of teams that have never won a Super Bowl. It was no small feat proving that Brady was not invincible, that beating him in the ultimate game was not the sole province of Eli Manning, and that even an MVP season at age 40 and an eighth trip to the Super Bowl in an unprecedented career wasn’t guaranteed to have a happy ending.

On the other hand, it won’t be forgotten that Foles won a Lombardi Trophy as a backup quarterback for the first time since … Brady did it in Super Bowl 36, the dawn of the dynasty. (Nor will it be forgotten that Foles helped himself by catching a touchdown pass , to go with the one he threw earlier.)patriots_124_77368f4a06a8e644-180x180

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