Month: May 2018

Salt Lake City gets fourth AAF franchise

With legalized gambling, people will want (need) more games on which to bet. Enter the Alliance of American Football.

The fledgling spring league has announced its fourth franchise, to be headquartered in Salt Lake City. Via the Associated Press, a coach will be named later.

He caught the eye of some of his new teammates, impressing his fellow rookies with his command of the huddle.

“The biggest thing is you can tell how a quarterback’s going to act in the fourth quarter by the way he treats his huddle,” fifth-round guard Wyatt Teller said. “He was very respectful, but he was very stern. He complimented us if we had a good break and if we made the play right, but he had great huddle presence. If someone’s out of place or if someone’s like leaning in too far, he’s like, ‘Hey, hey, hey. Work on the huddle, fix the huddle.’

The report comes just days after Broncos general manager John Elway was deposed Tuesday and answered questions for an hour at Broncos headquarters.

The biggest bonus you’ll see if you read Breer’s full piece (and you should!) is that Darnold was the guy they fell in love with, and they never thought they’d get a chance at him until they were actually on the clock.

“I’ve stated again and again that I definitely want to be a head coach but at the same time, I love being here,” McDaniels said, via the Patriots’ team reporter.

“Indianapolis did a tremendous job. They have a tremendous organization and I was lucky to be considered and I just think once I found out [what my future in New England was], I made the right decision for me and my family at this time,” McDaniels said in March.

McDaniels, 41, started his NFL coaching career with the Patriots in 2001. He left in 2009 to serve as the head coach of the Broncos for two seasons before returning to New England. The 2018 season will be McDaniels’ 15th overall with the Patriots.cowboys_064

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Giants sign wide receiver Russell Shepard

The Giants have signed free agent wide receiver Russell Shepard, the team announced Tuesday.

Shepard had posted Monday on Instagram that he was joining New York’s roster.

Shepard signed a three-year, $10.5 million contract with the Panthers in March 2017. He registered 17 catches for 202 yards and a touchdown last season but asked for his release from Carolina earlier this month after the team reportedly requested he take a pay cut.

“I was locked out of my house after a late-night movie,” Heinicke told reporters. “I came back and there’s no one home, and I’m trying to nudge the door a little. It was one of those double doors. I thought it just needed a little nudge. Me and my buddy were getting it going a little, but when I put my foot to the door, my foot kind of slipped and it went through a window. It was just kind of a freak accident.”

The freak accident reportedly resulted in a severed tendon. He was expected to miss up to three months.

Reynolds was drafted in the sixth round by the Ravens in 2016 and later signed to the practice squad. He was on the active roster for just one game.

Later, he was released and picked up by the Redskins, but he became an unrestricted free agent again in Sept. 2017.

The 23-year-old may have landed in the perfect spot in Seattle as the Seahawks traded one of their top pass catchers in Jimmy Graham during the offseason to the Packers.

Allow me to explain. First, the head count. As the conference finals began, the Golden Knights had more Canadian players than the other three contenders:

But beyond that, they have the fewest American players. Nate Schmidt and Alex Tuch are basically the only U.S.-born players who see significant ice time. Contrast that with “CaTINO” (Canada’s team in name only). The Jets have roughly 10 players from the United States, ranging from captain Blake Wheeler to Dustin Byfuglien to Paul Stastny to Connor Hellebuyck. From a personnel perspective, the Jets are about as Canadian as Toby Keith.

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Takeaways from Yankees’ win over Red Sox

With the count full against ex-Yankee Eduardo Nunez to start the fifth, Severino got Nunez to swing over a slider in the dirt. The ball fell just short of its mark and bounced under Sanchez’s glove and to the backstop.

That allowed Nunez to reach despite the strikeout. He eventually scored on a two-out single by Andrew Benintendi. That cut the Yankees’ lead to 2-1.

The Red Sox tied the score, 2-2, when Mookie Betts tripled home Nunez in the seventh. Aaron Judge put the Yankees ahead for good in the bottom of the inning with a hard single to left field, scoring Neil Walker.

Some would deem that a lot for a 26-year-old back, especially when some in the organization believe that his 25-year-old backup, Tevin Coleman, who has one year left on his cheap deal, is better.

Freeman doesn’t quite have the size to be a true bellcow… would the Falcons invest another $20-plus million guaranteed to retain Coleman?

Both bring valuable flexibility to the passing game, and, stylistically, they fit Atlanta’s outside zone scheme.

The third starter is Ricardo Allen, who was drafted as a cornerback and has become one of the league’s top dozen free safeties.

“We’re going to basically expose him to everything,” Maccagnan said. “We’re going to give him the opportunity to go out there learn and earn the position. Of course our focus is not necessarily to throw him into the fire until he’s earned it. We’re very excited about him, his upside and potential. He’s going to have every opportunity to go out there and hopefully fulfill every potential we see in him.”

There have been plenty of cases where rookies have made it clear they are the top option before the summer is out, others when a change was made shortly after the start of the season and, of course, situations where a rookie season is devoted to learning while observing. The Jets will start sorting out which way things will go for Darnold during their minicamps and OTAs this spring.broncos_003_4dc71ebe680da54b-180x180

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Titans take a quarterback in the Tom Brady slot

If you’ve ever watched any of the third day of the draft, you’ve possibly heard once or twice (or 1,000 times) that Tom Brady was the 199th pick. This year, a team with plenty of connections to the team that drafted Brady has taken a quarterback in the same spot.

The Titans selected Washington State quarterback Luke Falk in the sixth round on Saturday, the exact place where Brady was picked 18 years ago.

Detroit’s offensive coaching staff remains largely intact from previous years, with the primary exception being the offensive line. Patricia hired Jeff Davidson to oversee the position group and Hank Fraley to assist.

Davidson brings more than two decades of coaching experience to the table. For Fraley, he was an assistant for three years in Minnesota, starting under Davidson, prior to coaching the line at UCLA last season.

Jernigan, 25, started 15 games last season and made 29 tackles and 2.5 sacks.

The Ravens drafted him in the second round in 2014 before trading him to the Eagles a year ago. Philadelphia signed him to a four-year, $48 million contract extension in November.

According to Texas court records, Patricia was charged in 1996 with aggravated sexual assault, but he was never prosecuted for it. The case was quickly dismissed.

According to records in Cameron County Circuit Court, Patricia was indicted in August of 1996. The case was dismissed five months later, in January 1997.

Greg Dietrich, Patricia’s friend and former college teammate at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, also was accused in the sexual assault and was not prosecuted. 

Odell (Beckham) does everything well, though there are some things he does better than others. So you try to fit that. To those on the outside, rolling with Manning might look like a little bit of a gamble. And so the obvious question I had for Shurmur related to age. Did he see it watching Eli?broncos_096_112d5a864672b5c6-180x180

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NFL doles out four more international practice squaders

As the NFL continues to try to build its international brand, they continue to dole out a few players to hang around teams for a year to build interest.

The league announced that eight teams will carry international players on their practice squads this year, with each team in the AFC North getting a player and the NFC South teams bringing theirs back from last season.

Last year, to save the toll on the bodies of draft picks and college free agents worn down by the process, they held meetings and walkthroughs in lieu of practices during the time they were allotted for a rookie minicamp.

As of this writing, the plan was for Miami to do the same this weekend.

One thing I kept hearing in the wake of Baker Mayfield ’s meteoric rise was wide-spread respect for the job that Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley did in building the offense last year.

And it’s in the way plays compliment each other, how Riley creates completions for the quarterback, and how he mixed tempo and aggressively attacks the defense.

“We certainly have enough — without a doubt,” Nagy said, via the Chicago Sun-Times. “You’re at a point right now where there [are] really good numbers in regards to all the positions. Whether it’s the running-back position, the tight-end position, wide receiver and then the depth at O-line, we’re in a really good spot. That was the goal going into free agency, going into the draft. I feel like we accomplished that.”

Nagy will now be tasked with putting all of the pieces in the right places and getting quarterback Mitchell Trubisky to make it all run smoothly on the field. Success on both fronts will get his Bears tenure off on the right step.

Cowboys DE Gregory to seek reinstatement More Suspended Dallas Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory will file for reinstatement from the NFL next week, multiple media outlets reported Wednesday.broncos_003_4dc71ebe680da54b-180x180

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Herschel Walker To Kaepernick: I Wouldn’t Hire You Either!

Herschel Walker says he understands why NFL teams won’t hire Colin Kaepernick but offers a simple solution … if a team asks you to stop kneeling, stop kneeling.

The ex-NFL star says he respects what Colin was trying to accomplish with the kneeling, and wants to help the QB make a real difference in the communities.

But when it comes to the workplace, Walker says Colin should either fall in line and do what he’s asked … or don’t expect anyone to hire you.

The Chargers gave up the fewest sacks in the league last season. However, blocking issues prevented the ground game from building consistency. The addition of Pouncey and 2018 fifth-round draft pick guard Scott Quessenberry should help fix blocking woes while also keeping quarterback Philip Rivers upright if Pouncey can remain healthy this season.

The Bolts wrap up Phase II of the offseason program this week. The session also served as the first opportunity for Pouncey and his new signal-caller to work together on the field and develop chemistry

It’s very rare, Walker said of Torres’ poise following Torres’ walk-off, three-run homer in a 7-4 victory over the Indians at Yankee Stadium on Sunday.

He stepped into this role and he’s kind of taken off with it and he’s really impressive.

Before the game, manager Aaron Boone was asked what’s stood out most about Torres in his debut. When the Yankees called up the Venezuela native and Baseball America’s No. 6 overall prospect April 22, Boone said that he was just a very good all-around player without any aspect of his game that might wow somebody.

Was Sunday’s blast off Dan Otero with one out and the game knotted at 4-all a wow moment?

Yeah, Boone said, laughing.

“His success at the quarterback position speaks for itself,” Lynch said of Jackson at the NFL Combine.

So does Baltimore’s faith in Flacco by choosing Jackson.

Spence signed a three-year, $9 million contract last offseason, which included a $2.25 million signing bonus. The 26-year-old interior lineman appeared in all 16 games in 2017, including 11 starts, recording 39 tackles, three sacks and a forced fumble.tigers_003-115x115

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Tennessee running back John Kelly was taken early in the sixth round by the Los Angeles Ra

They have won 15 of their last 16 games and six straight. The Yankees have also won nine consecutive home games. They and will host Boston in a three-game set starting Tuesday. The Yankees are off Monday.

German struck out nine Indians, eight of them swinging, while walking two.

German lost his perfect game when he walked Jose Ramirez in four pitches with two outs in the fourth inning. He also walked Edwin Encarnacion to start the fifth.

He got a ton of help from second baseman Gleyber Torres. To end the fifth inning, Torres ranged far to his left and into shallow right field. After sliding, Torres popped up and threw out Tyler Naquin at first base.

German struck out the last batter he faced, Michael Brantley, with a curveball to end the sixth.

The Yankees finished a streak of 18 straight games.

Jackson improved his accuracy in each of the past two seasons at Louisville. He went from a 56.2 completion percentage in 2016 to 60.4 in 2017.

Despite the better passing numbers, Jackson only ranked 62nd in completion percentage out of 126 qualified FBS quarterbacks last season.

B/R’s Matt Miller noted in his scouting report after the Ravens drafted Jackson with the 32nd overall pick that he will have to rework his setup and better drive the ball with his legs to improve his accuracy—especially on out routes because he hasn’t shown on tape that he can fit the ball consistently into tight windows up the seam.

Joe Flacco will likely enter the 2018 season as Baltimore’s quarterback, so the Ravens have the benefit of giving Jackson time to develop his skills before testing him against NFL defenses.

The Redskins grabbed him well after the hard-running power back had departed. It did surprise me because a lot of the things came out of nowhere and weren’t true, he said of sliding, reportedly for off-field character issues, and I just didn’t understand why me out of all people, because I’m great to everybody. I have a great personality and I just didn’t understand why everything just hit so hard with me out of everybody.tigers_073-115x115

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Sixers’ Ben Simmons missed a wide-open dunk, and the arena gasped.

With 4.7 seconds left, the game tied, J.J. Redick sent an errant pass straight into the hands of a sea of Celtics defenders. The crowd yelled, in agony.

Celtics’ guard Terry Rozier scored at the other end with 1.8 seconds left, the crowd booed.

Marco Belinelli made a buzzer-beating jumper in the corner to send the game to overtime, positive pandemonium ensued.

The Celtics center is never going to flash with statistics, though he was solid 13 points, six rebounds, two assists, two steals, three blocks in 41 minutes but he had clutch moments defensively, frustrated Embiid all night and was a driving force behind Boston’s victory. Rookie Jayson Tatum led all scorers with 24 points. 

For the Sixers, Joel Embiid flashed back and forth between superstar play and frustration. he attempted 26 shots, and missed 16 of them. He finished with 22 points, 19 rebounds, two assists, one block, one steal and fouled out in overtime.

He’s been around a long time, but I actually believe that he is a far better rider in the last 10 years and he was pretty damned good before then. Forget his age. Trainers want him when a real money race is on the line. There’s a reason they call him ‘Big Money Mike.’

This horse, Smith had said earlier in the week, has the ‘it factor.’ The first time I worked him here, I could feel it. He’s like switch you can turn on or off and that’s not easy with a big horse but he is so light on his feet.

I saw him work when I first arrived here and I thought, ‘Wow, I’m looking at American Pharoah.

The trainer? Well, Baffert, he also knew what he had in this colt but because he saw something special in him and saw potential doom in the record 2.6-inch rainfall that swamped the joint all day long.

He said later, as though to remind himself: I have learned not to worry about things I can’t control.

But he has achieved too much and been around for too long to quite let it go at that. With thoughts of the worst rain to ever hit a Kentucky Derby, he added: He has got to break clean. If he doesn’t, then it’s over for him.

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Jets lose college scouting director Matt Bazirgan to Texans

The Jets are losing their director of college scouting, Matt Bazirgan, to the Texans, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Bazirgan is expected to become the Texans’ director of player personnel a promotion for him. He was one of Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan ‘s top lieutenants.

The Texans have a new general manager, former Jets scout Brian Gaine, and he has cleaned house. He fired Jimmy Raye, the team’s assistant general manager and vice president of player personnel.

One more QB deal finished the round. Super Bowl champion Philadelphia traded the 32nd spot to Baltimore, which took Louisville’s Jackson, an entirely different QB than incumbent Joe Flacco. While Flacco is a stationary picket passer, Jackson’s athletic skills, speed and running ability were enticing to GM Ozzie Newsome in his final draft before retiring.

The rest of the top 10 was Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward, fourth to Cleveland; Chubb, considered the best pass rusher, to Denver at No. 5; Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson sixth to the Colts — won’t Andrew Luck be smiling about that; Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith, eighth to Chicago; and Notre Dame tackle Mike McGlinchey, a somewhat surprising ninth to San Francisco.

Teams shuffled spots deep into the first round, with 11 picks involved in deals Thursday night.

It’s not my playbook, Jackson added. He can’t go call my offense any more than I can go call his offense. There’s a respect level there, as I said a long time ago when I hired him, he’s one of the best in the business. That’s why he’s here. So he has to do those things his way and he’s done a great job.

Haley called plays for the last six years in Pittsburgh, overseeing one of the most prolific offenses in the league.

Now charged with resurrecting the NFL’s lowest-scoring attack, he will benefit from an infusion of talent that includes veteran quarterback Tyrod Taylor, No. 1 overall draft pick Baker Mayfield, Pro Bowl slot receiver Jarvis Landry and the backfield tandem of Carlos Hyde and Nick Chubb.

If the Browns offense isn’t among the NFL’s most improved this year, both Haley and Jackson could be looking for work in 2019.

Pettine is keeping the base 3-4 of predecessor Dom Capers, but he is giving it a shot of creative energy with more hybrid looks and better meshing between the defensive front and secondary. The Packers were No. 22 in total defense and No. 26 in scoring defense last season.

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Sam Darnold handles hectic Day 1 well at Jets rookie minicamp

Signing the 35-year-old Johnson continues the Raiders’ offseason of adding aging veterans. Johnson has clearly lost a step but was reasonably effective in 15 games last season despite rupturing his Achilles tendon late in the 2016 season. Johnson compiled 71 tackles, and seven passes defended in 2017.

Could Dak Prescott’s Cowboys future be uncertain without a step forward in 2018?

Football has a funny way of taking unexpected turns. Literally, the balls do that on the field, oftentimes creating havoc and unexpected results. But what we think we know about football and the long-term plans of NFL teams changes just as regularly. Last year at this time, the biggest debate around the NFL was whether you want Dak Prescott or Carson Wentz as your long-term quarterback.

Both were good answers, but Cowboys and Eagles fans were adamant their guy was THE guy. After the 2017 season, things have changed rather dramatically. Wentz would win in a landslide right now, despite entering 2018 with questions about his health after suffering a torn ACL late last year. He was Tom Brady’s primary MVP competition until that injury and helped set up the Eagles for their Super Bowl run.

Dak needs a structured environment, Walker noted. There are still some fundamentals he needs to work on: footwork, timing, consistent accuracy. So whereas he’s the highest-graded quarterback in the NFL with tight-window passes, consistently making down the field passes, those back-shoulder throws, things of that nature, he’s admitted himself he needs to improve upon that.

“There are things that have to be worked out that you can only do on the field,” Dominik told Sporting News. “You know you’re getting a super athlete. The problem is he’s so used to being able to tuck the ball and run. Coaches have to fix that so there’s a little pause and making sure Lamar goes through his progressions and looks for that final checkdown rather than tucking and running.

“Because of his size, you’re not going to want to see that all the time at the NFL level. Otherwise, he’ll end up being Hurt Jackson rather than Action Jackson.”

Finally, here’s one knock you won’t hear every day. Sporting News has learned that at least two NFL teams had concerns about whether Jackson annunciates well enough to effectively call plays in the huddle. That about covers Jackson’s perceived flaws.nike_jets_1621

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