Month: December 2016

the Browns can and will deal with “normal” football issues

It wasn¡¯t supposed to be this way. Not with the general manager and head coach brought back to provide continuity at the top. Not with a healthy $140-million quarterback. Not with J.J. Watt missing for most of the season with a back injury down in Houston.
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But there Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano stood Monday behind the podium talking about a meaningless Week 17 game against Jacksonville. It¡¯s meaningless in the terms of the Colts aren¡¯t playing for a playoff spot or to get ready for the playoffs. They will play their final game of another disappointing season and then be on their way for the offseason way too early for the second straight season.

“I take full responsibility for everything,” Pagano said. “That¡¯s what comes with this job.”

A team that is 1-14 probably has no right to cry with happiness over its one win. It is the object of all the work, after all.

Game Chris Carter Jersey But when it has taken this long, the release is palpable, and the result leads to weepy videos featuring the coach and players.

This week, the Browns can and will deal with “normal” football issues. Who plays quarterback? Will the Steelers play their starters in Sunday’s finale? What would winning in Pittsburgh mean to this team? What about two in a row?

Had they lost to the Chargers, the flood of “what about finishing winless?” questions would have been overwhelming. And the pressure to avoid that winless season would have been that much more intense.

And had they gone 0-16, the misery of that finish would have hung over every offseason decision. Free agents and draft picks alike would have been asked why they would want to play in Cleveland, for a winless team. Jokes would have continued.

Instead, happiness and relief were the order of the day on Monday.

Jacksonville’s offense has improved as the year has gone on

The biggest concern for the Saints though, will be the team’s ability to stop the Jaguars offense. The New Orleans defense hasn’t done a good job of stopping anybody in 2015, and leads the NFL in points allowed.
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Jacksonville’s offense has improved as the year has gone on, with Blake Bortles and Allen Robinson playing their best football down the stretch.

The bigger problem for Jacksonville has been its lack of defensive pressure. The Saints are one of only two teams that have allowed more points than the Jaguars, who will have 2015 first-round pick Dante Fowler, Jr. added to the defensive line in 2016 after he suffered an ACL tear in the summer.
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Sunday is only the sixth-ever matchup between the Jaguars and Saints, with New Orleans earning wins in three of the first five games. The Saints won the last meeting in 2011, 23-10, as rookie Blaine Gabbert completed just 16 of 42 passes against the New Orleans secondary, while Drew Brees carved up the Jaguars to the tune of 351 passing yards.

Either way, Washington’s best chance of winning this game could come down to DeSean Jackson. He missed Washington’s Week 4 showdown against the Eagles with a hamstring injury, but Jackson will be as motivated as ever to stick it to the coach who unceremoniously dumped him two years ago. That plot line alone will be compelling enough for NFL fans to tune in on Saturday night, along with all the usual shenanigans that go with NFC East primetime television.

On their next drive, Cousins once again established his connection with Reed, hooking up with the tight end for his second touchdown of the night. The Eagles had a chance to take the lead back late in the second quarter, but Nelson Agholor had a brutal drop in the end zone, forcing Philadelphia to settle for a field goal.

Isaiah Thomas a real ‘killa’ with career night against Grizzlies

Boston Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas attended a gala with idol Allen Iverson in August and emerged with a prized possession: An autographed jersey that Iverson personalized by inscribing, “To a real killa.” In the aftermath of the meeting, an awestruck Thomas sat in his Philadelphia hotel room and marveled at Iverson’s career averages, then promised to elevate his own play this season with a goal of proving his first All-Star selection was no fluke last year.

So when the action lags, the head coach will remind his players — and sometimes any official delaying the game with a trip to the review monitor — by making a circular motion once, maybe twice, with his hand.

Authentic Womens Brian Urlacher Jersey His message doesn’t exactly require deep analysis: Pick up the pace.

Anthony Davis, for one, has benefited statistically from the speed. The fifth-year big man has never utilized more possessions or played more minutes in his pro career, and as a result, his season line has puffed to career-high rates (albeit via a career-low shooting percentage, as he chooses more often to shoot over the top of the crowd he draws). But the season as a whole has thus far been an exercise in patience for the 23-year-old superstar.
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New Orleans waited for Jrue Holiday to return from tending to his wife and newborn.

Pelicans big man Anthony Davis is averaging career highs in points (29.6), rebounds (11.1) and minutes per game (37.4) this season.

The sliding-door rotations have taken a toll on the Pelicans’ playoff chances, which, after a win in Philadelphia on Wednesday, brought them to 3-3 since an 0-5 dip to start December, coming in at a measly 1.4 percent, according to ESPN’s BPI.

Bryce Petty to undergo CT scan after absorbing big hit to chest

New York Jets quarterback Bryce Petty will have a CT scan Sunday to determine if there’s damage to his lungs after he left Saturday night’s game with a chest injury.

Luis Sardinas Mens Jersey Petty was sandwiched by Miami Dolphins pass-rushers Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake on the first play of the fourth quarter in the Jets’ 34-13 loss at MetLife Stadium.

If Jets owner Woody Johnson is considering cutting Todd Bowles loose, he shouldn’t take Saturday’s loss with a ramshackle roster into account.
The second-year quarterback, making his third career start, took three warm-up tosses on the sideline, but he felt “a pretty sharp, burning pain throughout my chest.”

Limited Mens Sean Smith Jersey Petty was taken to the locker room for X-rays, which were negative, according to the team. He said the CT scan will determine if there’s a bruise or puncture in one of his lungs.

He threw in practice as a full participant all week long without issue. Of course, it is impossible to simulate game situations when throwing under duress with traffic all around, so this could be a bit more challenging come game time. All things considered, however, the injury does not appear to present as much of a challenge for Stafford at this point as it seemed it could earlier this week.

Trevor Siemian, Denver Broncos, foot: Siemian has already played through the foot injury, so seeing him on the practice injury report doesn’t come as a surprise. He was a full participant all week and heads into the matchup against the Patriots without limitations.

Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts, right shoulder/right elbow: Luck remains on the injury report because of his shoulder but adds another body part: his throwing elbow.

He did not practice at all Wednesday but returned Thursday to a limited session followed by a full practice Friday. There is no doubt he will start after being removed from the game status injury report.

The Jets have struggled against the slot

The NFL’s silence does not faze Pereira, who has become a media star for his accurate and frank assessments of calls during games since retiring from the NFL and joining Fox Sports in 2010.
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“They’re never going to come out and admit it because it’s not allowed in the rules,” he said. “I get that. And I’m not against the notion of trying to get as many calls right as you can, but my only concern is if the rulebook doesn’t allow you to do it — to me, there is a conflict. I get the side of trying to avoid controversy, but I’d rather the rulebook allow it first.”

How could this happen? As an example, Pereira cited a play from the fourth quarter of Monday’s game at Gillette Stadium between the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots.

Game Youth Tim Hardaway Jersey Jamison Crowder, Redskins: As you know from my Cousins write-up, I like a lot of points to be scored in the Panthers-Redskins game, especially from Cousins. So even though Crowder is coming off a down week, I’m back on him as a WR2. No player in the NFL has more fantasy points from the slot than Crowder and look at what the slot has done to Carolina the past eight games: 77 catches, 802 yards and 10 touchdowns. Or, to put in another way, more than 17 fantasy points a game to the slot in that time frame.

He hasn’t had back-to-back games with single-digit fantasy points since Weeks 4 and 5, and since he’s coming off a three-point game last week, I’m not expecting that streak to be broken on Monday.

Others receiving votes: It’s not a shock as I like the wideouts of the quarterbacks I like, so yeah, fire up Tyrell Williams (four scores in his past five) and Dontrelle Inman (touchdowns in three straight) this week. …

The Jets have struggled against the slot, giving up 301 yards and a score the past three weeks, so even with Matt Moore under center, I’m higher than normal on Jarvis Landry. … Even if Julio Jones plays, I still like Taylor Gabriel’s chances against a 49ers team that has allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers.

NFL scores 2016: Follow all the Week 17 action from Sunday

The final Sunday of the year is the only one of the season that features all 32 teams with no Thursday, Saturday or Monday games to split up the action. Entering the day, 10 of the 12 playoff berths had been clinched, and the Indianapolis Colts and Pittsburgh Steelers still had a chance to topple the Houston Texans and New York Jets, respectively, for a spot in the postseason.

For the Colts, it would have taken a Game Kids Tony Sanchez Jersey miraculous scenario of nine games going just right to earn the AFC South crown, and their playoff hopes ended when the Saints beat the Falcons on a last-second field goal. Even though the Colts, led by Josh Freeman and Ryan Lindley, topped the Titans, it wouldn’t have mattered: the Texans’ dominating win over the Jaguars was the exclamation mark on their division title.

In four seasons as general manager of the Ttians, the team Kids Greg Zuerlein Jersey went 18-46, tied with the Oakland Raiders for the second-worst mark in the league over that period. Only the Jacksonville Jaguars ranked worse.

Webster has never been in an ideal situation in Tennessee. He has worked under three different people, and has been above three different head coaches. But he hasn’t helped himself with lackluster draft picks like Bishop Sankey, Justin Hunter, Chance Warmack and Zach Brown.

“We share our fans’ frustration about the team’s recent performance, and we are committed to doing everything we can to return our team to a perennial postseason contender,” Strunk said.

Webster has had some hits, like the free agent acquisitions of Delanie Walker and Brian Orakpo, and the team made a bold move by sticking with Marcus Mariota with the second overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.

He also set the franchise single-season passing yards record, passing Jay Schroeder’s 4,109 yards in 1986. He is the first quarterback in the franchise’s history to pass for more than 4,000 yards and throw more than 25 touchdowns in a single season.

Sandoval recently moved to Fort Myers to be closer to the Red Sox’s training facility

“I have been following a really strict routine that has taken a lot of dedication from my part,” Sandoval said. “It has not been easy to wake up every single day at 6:30 in the morning to then head to the gym and start a full day of work. But you have to have that kind of dedication if you want to achieve the goals you have set for yourself.”

Sandoval recently moved to Fort Myers to be closer to the Red Sox’s training facility. He works out each day with team trainers, and although neither Dombrowski nor manager John Farrell has traveled to Florida to personally check in on Sandoval, they receive regular reports from the staff there.

While the Indians and Rockies have showed legitimate Kevin Pillar Kids Jersey interest at these meetings, there is no indication that a deal with either club is close. Rangers GM Jon Daniels has downplayed his team’s chances of jumping into this bidding. A source who spoke with the Red Sox front office described the chances of Boston making a run at Encarnacion as “very unlikely” unless other moves change the look of their team and payroll.

The team seemingly best-positioned to make major Game Womens Steven Hauschka Jersey cost-efficient moves in hours/days ahead: The Rangers. Some big-time free agents need them.

David Schoenfield’s take: The Rangers need to make some big moves. Although Texas won the division handily, keep in mind that both the Mariners (plus-61) and Astros (plus-23) had better run differentials than the Rangers (plus-8).

Jayson Stark’s take: Kinzer headed for the winter meetings last weekend, hoping to get Encarnacion signed with the Blue Jays, Astros or Yankees this week. But all three have moved on. If he’s looking for a deal anywhere close to the four-year, $80 million offer from Toronto that he turned down early in the offseason, he essentially has to generate a whole new market.

Tyreek Hill is hot, even in freezing Chiefs vs. Raiders game

The Chiefs took a 7-3 lead over the AFC-leading Oakland Raiders on Thursday Night Football when Alex Smith hit Tyreek Hill with a 36-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter. Hill, the fastest player in the NFL, outran everyone to haul in the score.

He topped himself later in the quarter when he ran back a 78-yard punt for another return:

To be fair, Whalen had never practiced the play before, according to Colts punter Pat McAfee. Safety Clayton Geathers was supposed to be the center, but left the game with an injury, and Whalen, though unprepared, had to step in for him.

Whalen didn’t realize that he wasn’t supposed to snap the ball unless the Patriots responded by misaligning or trying to substitute, giving Indianapolis the opportunity to catch them with 12 men on the field.

The Patriots will be without wide receiver Danny Amendola indefinitely as he recovers from an ankle injury, and Whalen will help fill Amendola’s role.

Whalen spent three seasons in Indianapolis, and was signed by the San Diego Chargers after Danny Woodhead was placed on injured reserve early in the 2016 season. Over eight games with the Chargers this season, Whalen had two catches for 22 yards.

Gasser was charged with misdemeanor simple battery in that incident, and prosecutors later dropped the charge.

Manslaughter in the state of Louisiana is defined as taking someone’s life due to “sudden passion or heat of blood immediately caused by provocation sufficient to deprive an average person of his self-control and cool reflection.” If Gasser is convicted, he could face up to 40 years in prison.

Bears actually lose by winning against inept 49ers

Matt Barkley’s tenure in Arizona looks like a throwaway line in the quarterback’s official NFL biography.

After appearing in four games for Philadelphia, Barkley – the Eagles’ fourth-round pick in 2013 – was traded to the Cardinals on Sept. 4, 2015, but never played in a game for Arizona.

Still, Barkley, who will make his third consecutive start for the Chicago Bears in Detroit, said on Wednesday that he made the most of his one-year spent in the desert observing Arizona’s Carson Palmer — a fellow former USC quarterback.

Matt Barkley will make his third consecutive start for the Bears on Sunday.

“When you go through tough times, so many have it far worse, so how can I make a difference in someone’s life?” Kelly said, about what he’s learned through his challenges. “When you go out, you’re not only representing yourself but your whole family. [Roethlisberger] gets that.”

Through many conversations, Roethlisberger became touched by Kelly’s story, from his cancer battle to the loss of his 8-year-old son, Hunter, to Krabbe disease in 2005.

An offseason story from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette called ‘Ben’s Quiet Quest’ reported that Roethlisberger gave his third son, Bodie, the middle name Hunter.

To hear Roethlisberger tell it now, he and his wife, Ashley, wanted to honor Kelly’s family and also liked the name. Roethlisberger called Kelly for his blessing, and he was “honored” by the gesture, Roethlisberger said. Kelly used the word “touched.”

Shared experiences blazed by years of campfire talk gave Roethlisberger someone to trust, a sounding board for his thoughts on life, football, toughness, whatever.

“We talk a lot,” Roethlisberger said. “It’s not like any specific things, but I’ll get texts after games like, ‘Great job, keep it up,’ things like that. Those mean a lot coming from a guy like that.”

Peyton Manning at quarterback means it’s all or nothing for the Broncos

Peyton Manning will start at quarterback for the first time in nine weeks when his Denver Broncos host the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC playoffs on Sunday. He will also try to be on the upside of what has been his bizarre boom-or-bust playoff history over the last nine seasons.

In Manning’s last nine trips to the AFC playoffs with the Colts and Broncos, it’s been all or nothing for his teams. There have been six one-and-done appearances and three Super Bowl appearances going back to the 2005 season. He’s perfect in AFC title games in that span, but has also lost four times in the Divisional round when his team had either the No. 1 or 2 seed.

Campbell, a former NFL tight end, was drafted by the New York Giants in the third round of the 1999 draft. Saints head coach Sean Payton coached Campbell during his time in New York, and Payton was also on staff when Campbell was with the Dallas Cowboys. Campbell signed with the Saints prior to the 2009 season and was placed on injured reserve before the season began. He retired following the Saints’ Super Bowl victory.

His coaching career began the following season, when Campbell was hired by the Dolphins as a coaching intern. The Dolphins promoted Campbell to the tight ends coach position in 2011, and he remained in that role until being named interim head coach early in the 2015 season.

Payton had glowing praise for Campbell when he was named the interim head coach in Miami, per Triplett. “He’s a fantastic guy, a great worker, a great teammate,” Payton said. “He’s someone that is tough, strong. I can’t say enough good things.”

Campbell will be working with a position group in New Orleans that includes tight end Benjamin Watson, who is coming off of a career season. In his 12th season in the NFL, Watson had 825 receiving yards and six touchdowns. Watson was one of Drew Brees’ favorite targets, and his 74 receptions were second only to the team’s leading receiver, Brandin Cooks.