Month: January 2017

2015 NFL training camp preview: AFC East belongs to the Patriots until proven otherwise

The New England Patriots have finished atop the AFC East in 11 of the last 12 seasons and enter the 2015 season with a streak of six consecutive division titles. So there’s really no question which team enters the year as the one to catch in the division, although that reign could be difficult to maintain.

Between the Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins and New York Jets, there are pass rushers aplenty and they’re all targeting a single player more than any other: Tom Brady.

Brady is currently suspended for the first four games of the 2015 season, although that could still change. But for the time being, the Patriots have to prepare for the possibility that Jimmy Garoppolo will be the man leading the way for the defending Super Bowl champions for the beginning of the season.

Even when the Patriots do get Brady back though, there are several teams hunting to dethrone the champions, and that hunt will officially begin at the end of July when the AFC East reports to training camp.

Aaron Rodgers says that leadership is a “challenge” but that he enjoys that part of his role.

He is the antithesis, really, of that State Farm commercial he does with Clay Matthews, the one in which he yells in the locker room, “Not here, not ever!” as his psyched-up teammates bounce around him. Rodgers would rather they watch him — how hard he works, how competitive he is — and follow. He will be there to give them a push, and when things get really bad, he’ll do more.

When he wasn’t in rhythm earlier this season, for example, he had a short meeting with the wide receivers. Many of them are young, in their early 20s. Some of them, at some point, were terrified of letting down Aaron Rodgers.

“He kind of took us aside and said, ‘I’m not yelling at you guys just to yell. I’m yelling because I care. I believe in each and every one of you.’ I think it meant a lot to all the guys,'” receiver Jeff Janis said.

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Chiefs’ Justin Houston: ‘Once you get paid, it’s not like you won the lottery’

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Justin Houston got the phone call on Tuesday saying he needed to come to Kansas City. He figured this was the end of his year long quest for a new contract from the Kansas City Chiefs.

“I knew they wouldn’t have me fly out here for nothing,” Houston told reporters on a Wednesday conference call after he signed a reported six-year, $101 million contract.

Authentic Youth Latavius Murray Jersey Pierre-Paul’s contract status adds another level of intrigue to an already sad story. After leading the Giants with 12.5 sacks last season, New York placed the franchise tag on the 26-year-old. However, Pierre-Paul never signed the tender in hopes of securing a long-term deal. The Giants could theoretically pull the offer, leaving the defensive end without a contract for next season.

Pierre-Paul has been a force in the NFL since becoming a first round pick in 2010 out of South Florida. He has 42 sacks and eight forced fumbles in his career, and was expected to be a cornerstone of the Giants defense for years to come.

The injury reportedly caused the Giants to withdraw a $60 million contract offer, and while the injury for Wilson won’t cost him nearly as much, it could prove especially costly to a player who was likely fighting for a roster spot in the fall.

“Once I retired it was like, ‘Wow, now what do I do?’ There was no guidance, no help. If it weren’t for Charlie, I don’t know what I’d be doing.” he shared. “I’m ready to start my next journey.”

Redman’s first journey started when he was a two-year-old boy watching football with his mom and ended suddenly when he sustained a neck while living out his dream in the NFL. His second journey is just beginning.

“I have hope now,” he smiled.

Gregg Popovich: Spurs ‘not where we want to be’

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San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich pointed out his team “played a great 24 minutes” of basketball Tuesday during its 122-114 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

But for a 32-9 squad clinging to ever-present title aspirations at the halfway point in the season, Popovich and the Spurs need the full 48. That’s partly why Popovich said the Spurs aren’t yet where they want or need to be in terms of the cohesion and consistency required to capture championships.

THERE’S A REVEALING moment in Steve Young’s new autobiography, “QB: My Life Behind the Spiral,” that made me think of Matt Ryan. During the 1991 season, Young’s first year as a starter with the San Francisco 49ers, the quarterback visited Bill Walsh. Young needed help. A few days earlier, after a bad loss to the Raiders, he’d sat in his parked car for hours, crippled by the pressure of replacing Joe Montana. Young called friends for support, and then, at 3 a.m., having run out of people to call, he cried alone.

Now, in the office of the retired head coach who had believed in him more than anyone, Young hung his head, expecting a measure of empathy. Instead, Walsh scolded him.

“All you do is take the blame!” Walsh said.

“What am I supposed to say?” Young said, incredulously. “It’s not my fault?”
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“It’s been a tremendous experience — not just basketball, but culturally, very enriching and giving me a new perspective on the world that we live in,” Morris said. “So overall, [it was] a pretty good decision to take that leap.”

The Pittsburgh Steelers began the day with a 76 percent chance to win

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The Seahawks took the early lead with an 89-yard drive that consumed more than half of the first quarter. Leading 10-7, the Seahawks forced a Falcons punt that Devin Hester returned 80 yards to the Falcons¡¯ 7-yard line. A holding penalty on the return negated that runback, though, and two plays later, Russell Wilson was sacked in the end zone for a safety. The safety, the Falcons¡¯ third in eight postseason games since the start of the 2004 season, increased their win probability from 55 percent to 70 percent.

The sequence was especially pivotal considering what the Seahawks missed. Had Hester¡¯s punt return not been negated by penalty, the Seahawks (already leading 10-7) would have had a 59 percent chance to win. From ¡°what might have been¡± to the safety was a 29 percentage point swing in favor of the Falcons.

This game marked the most exciting game of wild-card weekend, based on the movement in the win probability chart. The Packers started slow, with five straight punts, but because of a few missed opportunities by the Giants, the Packers were able to stay in the game. New York probably felt like it was in a good position going into the half until Green Bay¡¯s final drive, which was capped by another Aaron Rodgers Hail Mary, which increased the Packers’ chance of winning by 13 percentage points.
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Green Bay entered halftime with a 14-6 lead and an 87 percent chance to win, but the game was far from over, as the Giants stopped the Packers on fourth down and scored a 41-yard touchdown two drives later. That long touchdown was the biggest play of the game, based on win probability added, as it increased the Giants¡¯ chance to win from 19 percent to 41 percent. The Packers answered with a touchdown on their next drive and never looked back, as they scored the game¡¯s final 24 points.

Chiefs RT Jeff Allen leaves Cardinals game with knee injury

Kansas City Chiefs right tackle Jeff Allen exited Saturday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals with a knee injury, and the team announced he will not return. Allen started the game at right tackle but went down early, and was replaced by Donald Stephenson.

It’s unclear if the injury is serious, but he was taken to the locker room on the cart and wasn’t able to put much weight on the injured leg. Allen only recently was named the Chiefs starting right tackle, with Stephenson the favorite to win the job prior to the team moving Allen to that position.

Allen was previously going to start at right guard, but the team liked his versatility. Stephenson will now likely be the right tackle going forward, if the injury is serious enough to force Allen to miss any time.

White, a 6’3, 215-pound receiver, had 109 catches, 1,447 yards and 10 touchdowns as a senior at West Virginia last year. He was the second receiver in the draft taken behind Oakland’s Amari Cooper.

The Chiefs’ offense got out to a shaky start, with starting quarterback Alex Smith throwing an interception. He finished 6 for 10 with 42 yards and the pick. Backup Chase Daniel fared quite a bit better, throwing three touchdowns, while wide receiver Fred Williams managed six receptions for 82 yards and a touchdown.

For the Cardinals, Carson Palmer looked effective as usual, completing all four of his passes for 77 yards. Most importantly, the Cardinals didn’t allow Palmer to get sacked. Keeping him protected will be the prime objective this season, and they did that on Saturday.

In terms of preparation for the season, both teams will learn more when Green Bay is on offense; the Packers can evaluate their young receivers and the Saints can work on strengthening their defense.

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Chiefs coach Andy Reid has publicly praised Tyreek Hill for his work off the field

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The well-being of survivors matters more than the sanitization of the NFL’s brand — or the delusion that if we no longer have to look at abusers, we can enjoy our societally sanctioned violence while pretending they don’t exist. But it’s undeniable that their presence on television causes many people pain. When these men play and play well, their success creates a dilemma that continues to beguile everyone with a vested interest in football. How do we talk about them?

Chiefs coach Andy Reid has publicly praised Tyreek Hill for his work off the field.

Brady did not play in the Week 3 matchup between the Texans and Patriots because he was serving the third game of a four-game suspension to start the season. In the 12 regular-season games he did play, he was of MVP caliber. Brady completed 67.4 percent of his passes for 3,554 yards, 28 touchdowns and just two interceptions, and his passer rating was 112.2.

O’Brien worked under Patriots coach Bill Belichick from 2007 through 2011. He was the offensive coordinator during the final season and the quarterbacks coach in the two before that. O’Brien praised Brady’s preparation and mindset.

It appears that actions like this are why the Goodell has been pushing so hard during this DeflateGate scandal. He went easy on the Patriots last time around, even, according to Outside the Lines, calling up Mike Martz, the Rams head coach at the time of Super Bowl XXXVI, and asking him to back off.
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Martz also recalls that Goodell asked him to write a statement, saying that he was satisfied with the NFL’s Spygate investigation and was certain the Patriots had not cheated and asking everyone to move on — like leaders of the Steelers and Eagles had done.

Chriss is gonna be good, but starting him is a great way to tank

Things are still perilous here. The Wiz are just 16-18, a game out of the No. 8 spot, and paper thin. Scott Brooks has no clue what he’s going to get from his atrocious bench every night, or even who might get into the game. Hey, there’s Jason Smith! Wait, what happened to Andrew Nicholson, the other half of Orlando’s old backup frontcourt? Trey Burke scored 27 points last week against Brooklyn. It might take him three weeks to total up that many points again.

But the Wiz are playing with more fight. Markieff Morris has looked energetic on defense, including in switching onto Harden, and he and Gortat have unleashed some nice big-man passing. Washington’s small-ball lineups, with Otto Porter or Kelly Oubre at power forward, have managed well.
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The Wiz have to bring that kind of attuned energy every night. They don’t have enough talent to play entitled basketball.
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Chriss is gonna be good, but starting him is a great way to tank. The Suns are last in the West, jostling with Miami, Brooklyn, Philly, Dallas and the Lakers for the league lead in losses, and they’ve made a clear move toward youth the last couple of weeks. They’ve damn near benched both Brandon Knight and Jared Dudley — not that Knight was helping much — and reserved regular minutes for Dragan Bender.

The race to the bottom is going to be a fun second-half storyline, especially since the Lakers owe their pick to Philadelphia unless it falls within the top three.

But sources also say that the Kings, at season’s end, want to pitch Cousins on a long-term partnership in the summertime, knowing he’s going to be eligible in July for a Designated Player Extension that ?could make him one of a handful of $200 million players league wide.

The latest signals suggest it would take a monster offer to get the Kings to tweak those plans.

The Lakers keep their pick in the June draft only if they finish in the top three of the next NBA lottery.

2017 World Juniors: Team USA captain ejected for high hit on Canada defender

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After a strong start to their game against Canada, the United States lost their captain for the rest of their biggest 2017 World Junior Championships game to date.

U.S. captain Luke Kunin went to finish a check behind the Canada net early in the second period, but landed it a bit too high for the referee¡¯s liking. Any hit to the head in the World Juniors warrants an automatic ejection and a five-minute power play to the victimized team.

Gerald McCoy Womens Jersey Kunin was tossed for the hit, which didn¡¯t appear to make contact with Canada defenseman Philippe Myers¡¯ head. Kunin stopped to look at the replay on the video board before disappearing down the tunnel for good.

It was the fourth penalty for Team USA before the halfway point of their game on Saturday. Charlie McCoy got dinged for tripping moments after Kunin¡¯s ejection, giving Canada a 5-on-3 opportunity that they scored on.

Considering the circumstances, the Bruins¡¯ 3-0 shutout loss to the Devils was quite the frustrating result. Boston had just 10 shots in the final 40 minutes of play while the Devils essentially played keep away through the majority of that time.

The Bruins were very close to having life at the end of the first period, though the no-goal call on Brad Marchand¡¯s shot seemed to suck the remaining energy out of the team.

Canada has the top power play in the tournament so far.

Alex Smith’s interception-free streak ends 46 passes shy of Tom Brady’s record

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith threw his first interception since September on Sunday, ending a streak of 312 pass attempts without a pick.

The interception by San Diego Chargers second-year cornerback Jason Verrett was the first for Smith since a Week 3 loss to the Green Bay Packers and only his fourth of the 2015 season. His streak of 312 pass attempts without throwing an interception was only the second streak in NFL history of over 300 pass attempts without a pick, but still came well short of the record of 358 set by Tom Brady on a streak that began in 2010.

Smith’s efficient and mistake-free Elite Youth King Dunlap Jersey play for the Chiefs helped the team turn around a 1-5 start and rattle off six consecutive wins to grab a lead in the race for an AFC Wild Card berth. As long as the team manages to continue to avoid turnovers and find ways to win, a spot in the postseason is theirs for the taking.

First of all, raise your hand if your Womens Richard Jefferson Jersey suprised that Newton celebrated so much after clinching a bye. I havent seen a guy this excited to skip a day at his job since Obamas inauguration.

I cant imagine Tom Brady being so happy to not have to play a game of football, or American Pharoah dabbing in his stable because a race got cancelled. These guys are suppose to want to go out there and compete every weekend and the fact that Newton worked so hard just to get a day off work shows you that his work ethic still has a long way to go before hes considered to be one of the greats.

Cam could of learned a thing or two from watching the Army-Navy game on Saturday when the players showed us all the true meaning of class, instead of what the Panthers did by making a big producton out of it and celebrating boistrously with there fans.

The Cowboys lost in Green Bay again, as is traditon. But they kept themselves in the news cycle on account of there are rumors swirling that DeMarco Murray wants to get back into Big D after a year of frustration with the Eagles, and you have to imagine Jerry Jones is willing to take that call given its only a matter of time untill Darren McFaddens hamstring curls up into a ball and punts itself into the Cowboys jumbotron.