Monthly Archives: January 2017

Morris and Gortat will also flash some fun big-to-big passing

He’s battling bigger guys in the post, and looking comfortable switching onto perimeter players — even unguardable studs like James Harden. He’s not even yapping at the refs that much! This version of Morris isn’t a star, but he’s a nice complementary player. He fits.

Gortat has accepted a subordinate role without slacking on his grunt duties — rebounding, solid defense, and setting nasty screens at ever-changing angles for Wall and Beal. Gortat is attempting just 8.7 shots and a measly 2.0 free throws in more than 35 minutes per game. Only 26 times in league history has a player logged so much time while getting so few cracks at putting the ball in the hoop.

Almost everyone else on that list was either a defensive specialist or shooting-phobic point guard; Ben Wallace, Shane Battier and Dennis Rodman account for 10 of the 26 qualifying player seasons. Gortat still fancies himself as more than that. He hasn’t let being an afterthought impact the rest of his game.

Morris and Gortat will also flash some fun big-to-big passing.

Even when critics turned against Bell for his offseason issues, his teammates were supportive, he says.

ALL THAT SEEMED in jeopardy this August when Bell, just off a monthslong rehab for his torn MCL/PCL, was suspended four games for his second substance abuse offense after allegedly missing several drug tests (but not failing one). The NFL reduced the suspension to three games upon appeal.

Bell had spent the previous six months splitting time between checkups in Pittsburgh and five-to-six-hours-per-day training sessions at Bommarito Performance Systems, a sprawling facility in North Miami that provides muscle activation training, acupuncture and an in-house chef.

Patriots agree to $17.2 million deal with kicker Stephen Gostkowski

The New England Patriots have agreed to terms with kicker Stephen Gostkowski on a four-year deal, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN. The deal came just hours before the 4 p.m. ET deadline for Gostkowski to sign his extension after the team placed the franchise tag on him earlier in the offseason. Gostkowski’s deal is worth $17.2 million, per Adam Schefter.
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Gostkowski is coming off a five-year contract he signed in 2010, a contract that paid him $15.8 million, an average salary of $3.15 million. The franchise tag was set to pay him $4.56 million, which would have made him the highest-paid kicker in the league next season. He will still remain so under his new contract. Gostkowski obviously wanted a long-term deal, but he had no plans to hold out and had already signed his franchise tender in advance of the deadline.

“He talked the whole time he was there. I was dozing off. He can talk. A lot. He talked for a whole straight hour.”

Clowney stayed close to home and committed to Steve Spurrier and the South Carolina Gamecocks in 2011, though he did admit in the book that he would have committed to Alabama “a long time ago” if only it ran a 4-3 instead of a 3-4 defense. He went on to have a stellar career anyway, winning SEC Defensive Player of the Year and the Hendricks Award as the nation’s best defensive end in 2012. In 2014, Clowney was the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft by the Houston Texans.

Mens Chase Utley Jersey Saban’s Crimson Tide, meanwhile, won two national championships while Clowney was in school, so Clowney and Saban did just fine without each other. South Carolina is the biggest winner of all, of course, with a one-game winning streak over the Tide going back to 2010.

The Niners can’t officially hire Shanahan until after the Falcons’ season is complete

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Limited Thomas Morstead Jersey Although the Niners are the only team with a general manager opening and have their pick of the nine candidates they’ve interviewed so far, they also have put an emphasis on finding one who can pair well with a new coach. Green Bay’s Brian Gutekunst and Arizona’s Terry McDonough are among the candidates who have been linked to Shanahan.

The Niners can’t officially hire Shanahan until after the Falcons’ season is complete, something that could happen as soon as Sunday when Atlanta hosts Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game. If Atlanta wins, the Niners can at least have a second interview with Shanahan during the bye week between the NFC championship and the Super Bowl.

What did leading the Toronto Raptors franchise to its first Eastern Conference finals do for you?

It was great. It gave us confidence to go out there and know we can play with one of the best teams out there in the world. We were able to take the eventual champion to Game 6 in the playoffs. Yeah, they beat us, and they beat us good, but it gave us that learning pedestal that we have to make sure that we know that, ‘Look, it is going to happen. We can do it.’ Now we got to get better and see how we can take the next step and continue to grow.

How long did the loss to Cleveland stick with you?

It lasted a little bit, but I had to go and do the Olympics, so I had to get over it. I am glad I had a chance to get to play and do Rio. It didn’t stick too long. I felt I had more to give, but I left it all out there. I definitely wanted to continue to get better. When you go out there and you feel like you have given your all and you have a little bit left in the tank but not a lot, you’re happy with it. You want to get to the championship, you want to be in the Finals, so you just motivate yourself to get to the next level.

Phillips joined new Rams coach Sean McVay’s staff shortly after Joseph’s introduction

Joseph had initially left the door open for Phillips to stay in Denver — Joseph was with Phillips on Kubiak’s staff with the Houston Texans — and called Phillips “one of my football dads.” Joseph said he and Phillips routinely spoke “three or four times a week.”

But Phillips joined new Rams coach Sean McVay’s staff shortly after Joseph’s introduction. Joseph said last week he doesn’t want to call plays on defense.

Woods now runs the part of the team that’s on John Elway’s mind. The team’s “No. 1 priority” this offseason is to “stay great” on defense, according to Elway, the Broncos’ executive vice president of football operations/general manager.

The Houston Texans dominated with their defense in a 27-14 win over the Oakland Raiders to kick off the NFL playoffs on Saturday.
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Elite Youth Michael Bennett Jersey This was a game that turned quickly and in an unlikely way, as defensive end Jadeveon Clowney recorded his first career interception (in college or the pros) at the 12-yard line a little more than midway through the first quarter. That play added nearly 12 percentage points to the Texans’ win probability. It was the most impactful play of the game, and it led to Lamar Miller’s 4-yard touchdown run.

The Texans never had a less than 52 percent chance to win the game. For three quarters of the game, their win probability was 70 percent or higher. The Raiders’ chance of winning in the fourth quarter never reached 4 percent.

Le’Veon Bell also had a monster game, with a Steelers postseason record with 167 rushing yards and two touchdowns. His contributions came later in the game but still helped to push Pittsburgh’s average win probability to nearly 95 percent, the most dominant postseason victory in our dataset, which dates to 2001.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston made his NFL debut on Saturday and it wasn’t pretty

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston made his NFL debut on Saturday and it wasn’t pretty. He struggled through most of the first half, missing his receivers and looking uncomfortable in the pocket. He had a bad interception, which you can see below:

He did do one big thing, though, when he rushed for a touchdown to end the second quarter. He managed to finish strong, but it was ultimately a tough game for him. He finished 9 of 19 for 131 yards with no touchdowns through the air and an interception, along with four carries for 18 yards and a touchdown.

The other prominent rookie quarterback, No. 2 overall draft pick Marcus Mariota, made his debut with the Tennessee Titans on Friday. It was a decent debut, with Mariota looking good on some throws but bad on others — particularly his interception and the fumble that was returned for a touchdown.

On one hand, some running backs stand out because they’re that good, or they are simply better than anyone expected. Some stand out because they fit their team’s scheme perfectly. On the other hand, some do great because of an excellent offensive line. Some look amazing in part because they’re going up against players that won’t even make an NFL roster, or they rack up stats because they’re given more snaps than others on their team.

Either way — once the regular season rolls around, there are many variables that can come into effect that make the “preseason standout” to “regular season breakout” correlation hard to nail down. However, let’s take a closer look.

Taking a look at last year’s preseason, let’s set a benchmark for a “breakout” performance and see if it strongly correlated to a breakout in the regular season. This may help give you a little context when you’re watching your team over the next four weeks.

Butler and the Patriots host O’Brien’s Texans on Saturday night in the AFC divisional round of the playoffs

Butler and the Patriots host O’Brien’s Texans on Saturday night in the AFC divisional round of the playoffs, a game that New England is heavily favored to win. But the Patriots aren’t taking anything for granted, and Butler, in many ways, is the embodiment of that approach.

He competes as if every play is his last, which teammate Devin McCourty says probably is a result of his underdog career path. Butler has now put together back-to-back seasons as the team’s No. 1 corner, during which he has played an eye-opening 2,090 of 2,137 defensive snaps (97.8 percent).

With the New England Patriots preparing to begin their playoff quest with hopes of winning their second Super Bowl championship in three years, it’s timely to revisit what has unfolded with the player primarily responsible for delivering the most recent Lombardi trophy.

A deep search through ESPN data identified some veteran quarterbacks who performed well at low salaries. A quarterback, of course, is by nature a more valuable position. And even then, their salaries were typically more than what Blount earned this season when you adjust for salary cap inflation.

Game Mens C.J. Wilcox Jersey Trent Dilfer, for example, signed with the Ravens in 2000 for a backup salary of $1 million. He started eight games as the Ravens won Super Bowl XXXV. But his contract was negotiated at a time when the salary cap was $62.1 million. It’s now 150 percent higher at $155.27 million.

Game Mens Vincent Valentine Jersey ESPN business analyst Andrew Brandt, a former agent and vice president of the Green Bay Packers, suggested an alternative. Brandt doesn’t think Blount should be considered the best value on his team, let alone in recent league history.

‘Sunday Night Football’ 2015 live stream: How to watch 49ers vs. Giants online

Mens Felix Potvin Jersey The San Francisco 49ers have had a rough season thus far, and the New York Giants haven’t been much better. As far as overall records go, the Giants have the edge, sitting at 2-2 while the 49ers are at 1-3. It’s not exactly a matchup of titans, but there is a bit of a rivalry between the two teams and they generally combine for exciting games. If that’s enough for you, then you can check it out on NBC Sports Live Extra when Sunday Night Football gets underway at 8:30 p.m. ET.

I think the Seahawks thought they were literally tougher than the Bengals and being up 24-7 confirmed it — in their own minds. They forgot the Bengals twice a year play AFC North grind-it-out teams Pittsburgh and Baltimore, and some of these Bengals players grew up being pounded by menaces like Steelers safety Troy Polamalu and Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis.

“That’s a good team, even better than people think,” Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett said of the 5-0 Bengals.
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Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner added: “They were resilient under duress.”

The Seahawks can continue to think they are the toughest team on the field. They just should not be surprised any longer by how their opponents respond.

Seattle managed only three first downs in its final six drives. Too frequently against the Bengals, the offense on third-and-short was Wilson stepping back, taking a quick look and then seeking to run for first downs up the middle. The Bengals figured this out, aligned for it and were ready for it throughout the fourth quarter and beyond. But Wilson and the Seahawks kept trying it.

Brock Osweiler finds some redemption in leading Texans to playoff win

Jared Goff Limited Jersey It doesn’t erase the struggles he had during the regular season, but Houston Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler’s performance in Saturday’s 27-14 victory over the Oakland Raiders was a step in the right direction.

Osweiler, who was making his first start since being benched for Tom Savage in Week 15, finished the game 14-of-25 for 168 yards and a touchdown. He also had a 1-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to give the Texans a 20-point lead, their biggest of the season. For just the third time this season, Osweiler did not turn the ball over in a game he started.

When Houston and Oakland square off in a wild-card matchup Saturday, two of the top picks from the 2014 NFL draft will be showcased: Jadeveon Clowney, who went to the Texans with the first overall pick, and Khalil Mack, who went four picks later to the Raiders.
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What’s interesting are the three players who were sandwiched between the two.

At No. 2, the Rams selected offensive tackle Greg Robinson, who was a healthy inactive for a game this season and struggled when he did play. At No. 3, the Jaguars selected quarterback Blake Bortles, who spent this season struggling to play through two separated shoulders and wrist tendinitis. And at No. 4, the Bills selected wide receiver Sammy Watkins, who is scheduled to undergo another foot surgery during what has already been a medically challenged career.

After his own medical issues, Clowney has asserted himself as a defensive force, while Mack has developed into one of the game’s top young defensive players. Bottom line: The teams in the top five who hit with their first-round picks in the 2014 draft have made it to this season’s playoffs; those who missed did not. Probably not much of a coincidence.

2017 World Juniors results: Canada advances to semifinals with 5-3 victory over Czech Republic

Canada survived a scrappy Czech Republic squad and has advanced to the World Junior semifinals against Sweden thanks to a 5-3 victory.

Hurricanes first-round draft pick Julien Gauthier had a pair of goals while goaltender Connor Ingram saved 16 shots in the victory.
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The Czechs struck first after a rebound struck off a linesman in front and bounced right to David Kase. The Flyers prospect whacked home the rebound between the arm and leg of Canadian goaltender Connor Ingram.

The goal was Kase¡¯s second of the tournament.

Rollins was down on the sideline for several minutes while he was attended to by medical personnel. Often, players who sustain what appears to be a neck injury will be immobilized on a backboard as a precaution, and hopefully the injury is not as serious as it appeared.

The Packers ruled Rollins out for the remainder of the game. Green Bay¡¯s secondary is badly depleted ¡ª it¡¯s without cornerback Makinton Dorleant, who injured a knee and is questionable to return ¡ª and cornerback Damarious Randall, who is also questionable with a knee injury.
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The Packers have a 23-14 lead over the Lions in the fourth quarter. The Cubs turned down his $12 million option which may be an indication the elbow has some issues, but he should be worth a flyer, at least on a one-year deal worth around $8-12 million, and maybe even more if the Royals want to backload a contract.

Adrian Peterson hopes to play for the Vikings again in 2017, unlikely without paycut

The 2016 season didn’t come close to going as planned for Adrian Peterson and it’s possible it was his last with the Minnesota Vikings.

Peterson suffered a knee injury earlier in the year that required surgery to repair and he struggled with knee and groin injuries late in the season that spoiled his brief return. In just three appearances, Peterson managed only 72 rushing yards on 37 attempts.

His 32nd birthday is coming in March, but Peterson isn’t concerned at all that his struggles during the 2016 season mean the end is coming soon.

“I look at it this way. I’m the GM of the football operation and I was told by my boss that I will no longer be working with a certain person,” Whaley said. “My role is not to figure out why, my role is to go forward and put this organization in the best possible position to win football games. So I didn’t ask.”

When asked if he had any input whatsoever in the organization’s decision to move on from Ryan, Whaley replied only with “No.” When asked if he knew that Ryan was in danger of being fired, he again replied, “No.”

Following the firing of Ryan, the team appointed offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn as the interim head coach. That was another decision that Whaley said he didn’t have control over, and he told reporters Monday that Lynn was appointed after Ryan recommended him for the job in a conversation with Pegula.