After being cut by 49ers and Jets, Bruce Ellington made a huge impact for Texans

Bruce Ellington needed fewer than four minutes to make an impact with the Houston Texans. The fourth-year wideout, matched up against All-Pro Malcolm Butler, used his explosive lateral speed to create playmaking separation in his first drive with the team, gaining 60 yards on three targets — all completions — to emerge as the latest threat in the Texans’ offense.

Damaging Goff’s development was a lack of help. In just seven games he was sacked 26 times and had to rely on Kenny Britt, Brian Quick and Tavon Austin to throw to. A poor season from Todd Gurley didn’t help much either.

Now it’s crucial that Goff rebounds from those rookie struggles, because it’s the Rams’ best shot at being good any time soon.

If Goff makes significant progress, a potentially upstart offense will be paired with defense that finished top 10 in yards allowed in 2016 and has pieces in place like Aaron Donald and Robert Quinn.
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There were other pieces in the deal, but at its core, the Rams traded away a second-round pick for Watkins. If he plays up to his ability, stays healthy, and remains with the team after 2017, that’s a steal.

The Broncos will have other new faces on their much-maligned offensive line. Free agent addition Menelik Watson is listed as a starter while recent acquisition Allen Barbre is currently Max Garcia’s backup at left guard, but he could easily move into a starting spot once he has more time with the team under his belt.

One player who won’t make his Broncos debut yet is Jamaal Charles, according to Joseph. The veteran running back is still being eased back from a knee injury that cost him most of his final season with the Chiefs.
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The Panthers went into their two-minute drill and Webb got them into field goal range. However, he committed an ugly turnover when he badly overthrew a ball in the end zone, leading to an easy interception by Texans safety Corey Moore.

This is clearly the correct option, though.

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Authentic Adam Gotsis Jersey Gray’s appeal isn’t that he’s the greatest pitcher on the market or that he’s exceedingly dominant and will be for years. His appeal is that he’s under contract through 2019 and cheap. While the Dodgers are very much into the idea of that kind of pitcher — see, Alex Wood — it’s not really the upgrade they’re shooting for. They want a postseason rotation that breathes fire.

Gray would make them markedly better, but his 2017 season has been a story of consistency, not dominance. His high in innings pitched this month is 6 1/3 innings, and his low is 6 IP. All four starts have been quality.

This is clearly the correct option, though. If they’re going to ditch prospects, ditch them for a fire-breather. Technically, Darvish has been something of a disappointment, with a 4.01 ERA (3.99 FIP) and a 6-9 record that isn’t as nice as the Rangers would have hoped. He’s striking out nearly two batters fewer per nine innings this year, and he allowed 10 earned runs in his last start. Kershaw has allowed 12 earned runs in 10 starts since the end of May.

Plus, Darvish could very well leave at the end of the season, and with the new collective bargaining agreement complicating the rules for compensation, there was a chance the Rangers would lose twice: first, lose out on a playoff spot, and then, see Darvish leave for another team as a free agent, with only a pick in the 75-80 range coming back to them as compensation.

You know the World Series you want. Your job is usually to set those expectations on fire.

Think about 2013. It could have been A’s/Pirates! That would have been a small-market delight, but it also could have been Dodgers/Tigers, a classic matchup of two original teams without a lot of championship success in the last 30 years. Heck, even Rays/Braves would have been interesting, just because of the freshness.

Mets trade Lucas Duda to the Rays for RHP Drew Smith

Mets first baseman Lucas Duda is heading to Tampa Bay, MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reports. There have been rumors that the Rays were interested in both Duda and Addison Reed in recent days, and the trade came together quickly after initial reports of the swap this afternoon. Joel Sherman was the first to report the connection.
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Duda is currently hitting .246/.347/.532, a respectable bounce back from a season plagued by injuries last year. He has 17 home runs in 219 plate appearances to go with that line. He’s been with the Mets since 2010, and has 125 career home runs in 760 games.

Tampa Bay already has a first baseman in 29-year-old Logan Morrison, but as Ken Rosenthal notes, the Rays have increased roster flexibility to slot Duda’s left-handed offense into their lineup in the designated hitter slot now that former DH Corey Dickerson is proving himself more than capable in the outfield.

Sale started the All-Star Game last year as a member of the White Sox, so this start makes him the first to ever do it in consecutive years for different teams. This isn’t Scherzer’s first All-Star start, either, as he began the game for the AL back in 2013 while with the Tigers.

Womens La’el Collins Jersey As for the lineups, the National League is taking advantage of having a designated hitter at their disposal to make their lineup even more frightening and full of muscle:

Don’t sleep on the AL’s lineup, even if it lacks the same kind of established names of the NL’s starting nine: all of these dudes are having a wonderful 2017, and it’s still a situation where last year’s MVP runner-up is batting ninth. Sure, we’d all love to see Mike Trout share a field with Bryce Harper and Giancarlo Stanton and Betts and Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa, but this is still some fine baseballing to look forward to. And we’ll get subs often for the same reason the pitchers won’t be leaned on too heavily.

Jaguars activate CB Jalen Ramsey from PUP list

Second-year Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey was activated Saturday off the physically unable to perform list, the team announced.

Ramsey, a 2016 first-round pick, had two interceptions (one returned for a TD), 55 solo tackles, 14 pass breakups and one forced fumble. He was named to NFL.com’s 2016 All-Rookie team.

New England’s bye week comes at a convenient time, in the middle of the season and before a tough road game in Denver. Then comes a long road trip to Mexico City and a game against the Raiders, a fellow contender in the AFC. That game against Oakland, given the location and the strength of opponent, might be the toughest game on New England’s schedule. It comes right before the first of two Dolphins games in three weeks.

The final month of the 2017 regular season for the Patriots is a Steelers sandwich with AFC East bread. New England’s final road game of the year, in Pittsburgh and with a late kickoff, could come with massive playoff implications. We certainly are not going to suggest the last two home games of the season, against the Bills and Jets, will carry such weight.

Patriots schedule 2017, record prediction: 12-4
If we’re being honest, every single game on the Patriots’ 2017 schedule is winnable for the best team in the NFL. Considering the impressive offseason moves they made — not including the soon-to-be-completed NFL Draft — another undefeated slate similar to New England’s 2007 season is not a crazy suggestion.

But too many talented, playoff-caliber teams — the Chiefs, Texans, Falcons, Broncos, Raiders and Steelers among them — present traps for the Patriots, whose occasional lapses into complacency would be totally understood. That said, expect the Super Bowl 51 champions to be right back in contention for the Super Bowl 52 crown.

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Preseason NFL schedule 2017: Team-by-team, week-by-week game matchups

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No, NFL preseason games do not matter. And yes, many have issues with the league’s preseason format (and ticket pricing). But the NFL preseason schedule does at least present fans chances to see teams that otherwise would not come to their cities given the 2017 divisional matchups for the regular season.

Ryan O’Reilly Jersey The 2017 NFL preseason schedule includes eight nationally televised games, including the preseason-opening Hall of Fame Game, which this year features the Cowboys and Cardinals.

Meanwhile, receiver Sammy Watkins, who the Rams acquired from the Bills in a three-way trade Friday, did not dress for the game.

Neither Cowboys second-year QB Dak Prescott nor sophomore running back Ezekiel Elliott played, either. While Elliott was handed a six-game suspension Friday for violating the league’s personal conduct policy, Darren McFadden provided optimism for the Dallas ground game. McFadden carried the ball six times for 28 yards, once leveling a defender with a stiff arm, and hauled in a catch for eight more yards. As noted by Pro Football Focus, he took all 19 snaps with the first team offense.

Cowboys rookie defensive end Taco Charlton, the No. 28 overall pick out of Michigan, made his presence felt in L.A. Saturday night, tallying three solo tackles and this first-quarter sack of Rams QB Sean Mannion.

Pittsburgh endured a four-game losing streak through mid-October and early November in 2016, and this portion of the schedule won’t be easy. Rivalry games against Baltimore are always physical, and two weeks later comes a rematch of the Steelers’ AFC divisional playoff game vs. the Chiefs. It will be interesting to see where the Bengals fit in the AFC North race when the teams meet in Week 7. From there, Pittsburgh’s first Sunday Night Football game of the season is a trap game at Detroit.

Baseball Hall of Fame 2017: Induction ceremony time, inductees list at Cooperstown

This Sunday, the Baseball Hall of Fame will induct three more MLB greats into Cooperstown.

The former MLB players being inducted this year are outfielder Tim Raines Sr., first baseman Jeff Bagwell and catcher Ivan Rodriguez. Former MLB commissioner Bud Selig and front office executive John Schuerholz are also being inducted.

Josh Smith Limited Jersey The 2017 Hall of Fame induction ceremony is being broadcast on MLB Network at 1:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, July 30. There will also be a live stream of the ceremony on baseballhall.org. Here’s everything you need to know about the Hall of Fame Inductees and ceremony.

For some reason, Beltre hasn’t gotten the respect that he’s due as a major leaguer. Not only has he reached the highly regarded plateau of 3,000 hits, but he’s aged like a fine wine.

Though Beltre’s career average wRC+ sits at 119, since he’s been with Texas, that number has increased dramatically. Since 2011, he’s posted wRC+ seasons of: 135, 142, 135, 142, 109, 130 and 134. Those are his age-32 through 38 seasons.

Rhett Ellison Limited Jersey Here are some other crazy numbers regarding Beltre, via Sporting News contributor Ryan Spaeder.

The Cubs aren’t looking for back-end-of-the-rotation help. They have those options. If they’re going to trade for another starter, it’s going to be for a guy who takes the mound in the postseason.

First of all, I want people to understand that I love the military, Bennett said. My father’s in the military. I love hot dogs like any other American. I love football like any other American. But I don’t love segregation. I don’t love riots or oppression.

Mets promote No. 2 prospect Dominic Smith to majors

Dominic Smith was blocked by Lucas Duda in his path to get to the Mets. Now that Duda has been traded to the Rays, the Mets are promoting their No. 2 overall prospect.

Game Fabian Johnson Jersey The team announced Thursday that Smith will be promoted Friday and will be with the team when they travel to Philadelphia.

OK, not good, but there was time to recover. Pat Valaika laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Lucroy to second. Robles intentionally walked Charlie Blackmon and accidentally walked DJ LeMahieu. So, bases loaded thanks to a hit by pitch and two walks. How does Robles get out of this jam?

By getting to a 3-2 count and proceeding to throw the baseball to the moon, ending the game in a walkoff walk.

So to wrap up the bottom of the ninth for Robles: Hit a batter, walked three straight and ended the game on an airmailed pitch to the backstop.

Afterward, it was revealed Robles had numbness in his fingers, and, well, some other problems.

While Sherman will serve as the Marlins’ control person, or primary owner, Jeter will oversee both the business and baseball sides of the operation, the Herald reported. Fox Sports said Jeter will become the franchise’s chief executive officer.

A purchase agreement is expected to be finalized and sent to Major League Baseball’s offices Friday, according to the Herald. MLB owners must still vote to approve the sale.

Game Justin Britt Jersey The Jeter-Sherman group and another led by Miami businessman Jorge Mas were the two finalists after a group that included former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush dropped out of the running.

The Marlins haven’t made the postseason since winning the World Series in 2003, the year after Loria bought the team in an MLB-orchestrated deal that saw him unload the Montreal Expos.

Bruce Arians won’t play starters in Hall of Fame game because it’s just not worth it

Bruce Arians isn’t willing to risk anything for the Hall of Fame Game on Thursday, and will rest his starters, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The Cardinals — who didn’t know this offseason whether or not they’d get another season out of Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald — don’t want to risk injury in the first preseason game of the year.

Gilmore signed a five-year, $65 million deal with the Patriots in March after five seasons with the Buffalo Bills.

Is it a big deal that he’s just a few days into his first training camp in New England and already getting into fights with teammates? Not at all. Camp fights happen all the time and Patriots wide receiver Chris Hogan brushed it off as no big deal.

The Patriots will host the Jacksonville Jaguars on Monday and Tuesday next week for joint practices before the team’s preseason opener on Thursday, Aug. 10. They’ll also have joint practices with the Houston Texans and Detroit Lions in August. There’s a good chance that more training camp fights will be on the way for the Patriots.

Rarely does a player step into the NFL and instantly become one of, if not the best player at his position. Martin has possibly been the league’s best right guard since day one of his rookie year. He hasn’t missed a game, made the Pro Bowl all three seasons, and is a key component of the Cowboys elite offensive line. Dallas already picked up his fifth-year option, and a big-time extension should be in the works over the next year or so. patriots_304-180x180

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Jaromir Jagr still wants to play, but has gotten zero calls

Limited Reshad Jones Jersey After playing in all 82 games this past season, Jaromir Jagr still believes he can contribute to an NHL team.

The 45-year-old future Hall of Famer sent out a couple of tweets Thursday wondering why none of the NHL’s 31 clubs appears interested in signing him.

Laviolette actually has been a little more expansive in his discussion of Rinne — who has a .778 save percentage through Games 1 and 2 and is winless (0-7-2) in nine career starts against the Penguins — since pulling him from Wednesday’s loss.

Laviolette: I said it a couple days ago when everybody was asking about [Mike] Fisher and [Craig] Smith. I said it then. We don’t talk about the lineup. When they ask the next day, we’re going to stay consistent with that. We don’t discuss the lineup.

Downtown Nashville has become a Predators-obsessed place to be on playoff days and nights, with watch parties outside the arena and in the Music City Walk of Fame Park across the street. Then there’s the screaming 17,000-plus fans lucky enough to be in the arena. Before playoff games begin, they are thrilled by the stream of A-list music or sports stars, including Fisher’s wife Carrie Underwood, who either sing the national anthem or wave the honorary rally towel.

Limited Malik McDowell Jersey The Predators have been a playoff regular, but this Western Conference title is their first of any kind, as they’ve never won their division. The Preds entered the playoffs as the last seed in the West and were coming off an inconsistent regular season. The Blackhawks were picked by 47 of 50 national analysts to beat the Preds in Round 1. The ensuing sweep of Chicago startled the hockey world and was the catalyst in expanding the beast that is the Nashville fan base.

Sharks re-sign defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic, goalie Martin Jones

The San Jose Sharks signed Marc-Edouard Vlasic, one of the NHL’s best defenders, to an eight-year, $56 million contract extension Saturday, as well as goalie Martin Jones to a six-year contract extension worth $5.75 million annually, according to multiple reports.
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By inking the deal, Vlasic is forgoing the opportunity to become an unrestricted free agent next summer for the first time in his 11-year NHL career, the Mercury News noted.

People are looking for a major solution to what we have going on, MacLellan said, via The Associated Press. I think part of it is they watch certain things in his game and then it shows up and they say, ‘That’s not acceptable.’ But he’s a big part of our franchise, a big part of our history. He’s been a big part of where we’re at as an organization and just to casually say, ‘Let’s trade him for what for who?’

I don’t think it makes sense from an organizational point of view. Maybe at some point if there’s a legitimate hockey deal that came available, but I don’t know that that’s where we’re at right now. I just think he’s got a history here, he’s a big part of this franchise and he’ll continue to be going forward.

Ovechkin finished his 11th year in the NHL with 33 goals during the regular season. Although it was his lowest in an 82-game season in six years, the 31-year-old veteran added five goals and three assists in 13 postseason games.

Julian Howsare Youth Jersey MacLellan also announced coach Barry Trotz will remain behind the bench despite the Capitals being eliminated from the playoffs by the rival Penguins after posting the NHL’s best regular-season record in back-to-back years. Washington hasn’t advanced past the second round of the playoffs since the team’s Stanley Cup Finals appearance in 1998 against the Red Wings, who shut out the Caps in four straight games.