Month: December 2017

Arians said he voiced his displeasure to the crew headed by Ron Tolbert, to no avail.

After a relatively poor rookie season — only by his high standards could winning Rookie of the Year and playing at an above-average level in the NBA as a teenager be considered relatively poor — James quickly leaped into superstardom and improved gradually from there. His four best seasons came from ages 24 through 28, a stretch interrupted only by a down performance from James in 2010-11, his first year with the Miami Heat. The best-fit curve suggests James peaking just before age 27, the expected time for an NBA player, and declining gently from there.

The aging curve gets a bit more complicated when we consider James’ playoff performance. Here’s how that looks using the same chart:

But Spooner says that the Wizards actually had an advantage on the play after the review, because the clock should have been reset to 0.1.

Now classified as a “defenseless player” in an effort to improve safety conditions, the long snapper is afforded protection from contact under NFL rules.

“While (Drescher’s) head was down there was contact on him,” Arians told co-host Bill Polian and me Tuesday night on SiriusXM NFL Radio. “That’s a foul.

“I’m on the (NFL Competition) Committee so I know it’s a foul. He’s a defenseless player.”

Now it’s just getting Mitchell Trubisky experience and making decisions on the coaches, front office and roster. If the Eagles are going to cool off at any point, this week isn’t likely to be the time. Jay Ajayi has now broken off long runs in each of his two games since the trade from Miami. Dropping a weapon like that into this offense doesn’t even seem fair.chargers_033-180x180

The Super Bowl hangover is gone.

And now the party might just be getting started again.

Atlanta’s third straight win, a 34-20 humbling of visiting Tampa Bay, kept the Falcons (7-4) on track for a playoff berth while serving as a reminder of just how dangerous this team will be if it gets there.

Reason for pessimism: The Falcons face a rough remaining schedule. Home-and-away matchups against New Orleans (9-3) are sandwiched around a Monday night road game vs. Tampa Bay (4-8). The season finale is against visiting Carolina (8-4), which beat Atlanta earlier this season.

Biggest remaining game: In a conference where 10 wins might be needed for a wild-card spot, the Falcons probably need to upend the Saints at home Thursday night for their best chance of hitting that target.

If they fall short …: Blame an early-season three-game losing streak that included home losses to Buffalo and Miami for putting Atlanta in a tough spot heading into December.

Riley Reiff, OT, Minnesota Vikings: Reiff was injured during the second half against the Panthers and had to be helped off the field. He was declared questionable to return because of an ankle injury. Reiff was spotted in a walking boot after the game.

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians on Gabbert as next year’s starter if Palmer retires: “The way he’s playing right now, I’d be very, very comfortable. I think it’s a possibility.”

Gronkowski on his touchdown celebration with Cooks: “That was not planned or anything. We got yelled at. We’re not allowed to talk about celebrations. That’s what we got told. But, I kind of want to talk about it, but I kind of don’t because I’ll get in trouble, so I don’t know what to do. So, it just happened on the spot. It wasn’t planned. We’ll just keep it there.”nike_chargers_550-180x180

Here’s a look at some of the best headlines from an entertaining slate of games.

While it’s far too early to assess the results of offseason moves, we can at least take a look at how well these teams addressed their needs. Some excelled, some failed. We gave each one a thumbs-up/thumbs-down rating:

Details of the deal: The Marlins trade OF Giancarlo Stanton (and his contract) to the Yankees for 2B Starlin Castro and two minor leaguers, P Jorge Guzman and SS Jose Devers. The Yankees will reportedly take on $265 million of Stanton’s remaining $295 million.

The Titans are faltering at the wrong time, and after their listless loss to Arizona the trip to San Francisco feels a lot more difficult. With the Rams and Jaguars looming, a disastrous losing skid could happen, which would add to the disappointment of finishing at .500 in 2016.

The Chargers kept chugging along against Washington, and now they get a long-awaited second shot against the Chiefs. Going from 0-4 to favorites in the AFC West should put Anthony Lynn in the Coach of the Year conversation.

With each week of the NFL season, more and more games carry playoff implications and that was again the case in Week 12.

The Rams and Saints are strong bets to be playing in the postseason, and their blockbuster clash did not disappoint.

Meanwhile, the Seahawks kept their playoff hopes alive in the Bay Area, where a possible franchise quarterback produced a fine late cameo in his debut, and things got really heated in Oakland between the Raiders and Broncos.

The Packers’ playoff hopes were dealt another blow, and the Chiefs continue to crater.lakers_003

His team managed to hold off a fourth-quarter rally by the Hawks, who have the second-worst record in the league.

With two games against both the Patriots and Dolphins over the final five games and a home game against the lowly Colts, the Bills (6-5) still in the thick of the playoff hunt in the AFC. Sunday’s road win over the reeling Chiefs should give McDermott full confidence in Taylor.

The Chiefs have to rediscover their identity — When the Chiefs were 5-0, they were running the ball at will. Kareem Hunt, who entered Sunday as the NFL’s second-leading rusher, had just 17 yards on 11 carries. The rookie from Toledo hasn’t had a 100-yard rushing game since Week 5 and hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 3.

“I don’t know when he’s coming back,” Lue said. “I wish I did so you could quit asking me. I really do. I really wish I knew so I could share it. You ask every day, but I really don’t know. I’m not hiding it. I really, truly, I don’t know. I know it’s your job and I understand. I’m really not hiding it from you.”

Hawks: Rookie power forward John Collins, who has been out due to a left shoulder strain sustained on Nov. 30, worked out before the game at Madison Square Garden. The 20-year-old first-round pick from Wake Forest was averaging 11.5 points and 7.1 rebounds and had started four straight games before going down with the injury.

Knicks: Porzingis had eight rebounds. … Ron Baker, who has fallen down the depth chart at point guard, logged a season-high 31 minutes, giving the Knicks a nice lift as they went with a small lineup down the stretch. The fan favorite scored nine points, including four free throws during 10 minutes of play in the final period.

New York coach Jeff Hornacek stopped short of feeling relieved, one night after a road loss to the NBA-worst Chicago Bulls.

“It’s never easy to win in the NBA no matter what the other team’s record is,” Hornacek said. “We’re still trying to learn things. I thought the end of the game was a good learning lesson for us.”panthers_104

Saints quarterback Drew Brees was the first to don the jersey patch for Thursday’s game.

The Panthers have the harder slate, and the Packers have some control of their fate there. So it probably makes sense for the Packers to root for the Falcons, too, so Atlanta can rise to No. 5. Then Green Bay can try to beat out Carolina for No. 6.

That was the case in the Mavs’ two previous games, a seven-point loss at Milwaukee followed by a five-point loss at Minnesota. Dallas has made it a theme this season of playing just well enough to lose at the end of games.

“It feels like we’re shooting ourselves in the foot,” forward Dirk Nowitzki told reporters after Sunday’s loss to the Timberwolves. “Every time we’re right there, you know, it’s a bad turnover, a guy makes a tough shot, or they make a layup after we don’t box out. It’s just little things here and there, and three tough ballgames in a row.”

Previous winners of the award will wear a special jersey patch of Walter Payton’s cloaked silhouette.

Brees, Giants quarterback Eli Manning, Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis, Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald and Cowboys tight end Jason Witten will wear the jersey patch beginning this week.

All 2017 nominees will also wear a Man of the Year helmet decal through the end of the season, in recognition of their accomplishments on and off the field. This tradition will continue for future nominees and winners of the award. Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan and Falcons guard Ben Garland were the first to wear the Man of the Year decal on Thursday.
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Three questions with new Texans RB Andre Ellington

Andre Ellington is excited to once again be teammates with his cousin, Bruce.

Commissioner Rob Manfred and other MLB officials have been giving the Ohtani case extraordinary scrutiny, with repeated warnings of bans and penalties for anyone found in violation.

MLB, after finalizing its agreement with the Nippon Baseball League on Dec. 1 that allowed bidding to begin, issued a memo to all teams and baseball executives that contained paragraphs again warning against any form of cheating.

Teams were told, again, that they could attempt to persuade the two-way pitching and hitting star from Japan to join their team based on the merits of their respective organizations and their cities, but they were warned against discussing future contracts and business relationships, and against third-party machinations — paying off someone who might have influence with Ohtani, for example, or making quid-pro-quo promises outside of the rules.

“I also have quickly realized how passionate Jimmy and Dee are about bringing a winning team to the city and would have not taken the job if I didn’t think the right ownership was in place. I am eager to work with Hue, his staff, and our personnel department and help bring us the success these fans so deserve.”

“We’ve gotta learn how to put teams away,” Beal said. “We’ve gotta learn how to put our foot on the gas,” he added. “These are important games and games that we need to win and should have won.”

The Nets are returning after spending the last week on the road, though they were the home team for games against Oklahoma City and Miami in Mexico City.

Brooklyn will be adding Okafor and Stauskas to the roster after acquiring the former first-round picks from Philadelphia on Thursday.

Neither player has played much this season, so it’s unlikely they’ll get big minutes Tuesday.panthers_004

Tarasenko looked good out there, too.

The Falcons fail to corral a short kickoff by the Seahawks, who recover to regain possession. Seattle will start its drive inside the Atlanta 15 with 8:08 to play in the half.

Seattle nearly picks off a Matt Ryan pass near the goal line, but it can’t secure the ball and it falls incomplete.

Turnover, Seahawks. Seattle fails to take advantage of Lockett’s return as Russell Wilson’s second pass of the game is picked off by Desmond Trufant, who returns it 43 yards to the Seahawks’ 35.

Redskins running back Rob Kelley left Sunday’s 38-30 loss to the Vikings with knee and ankle injuries and did not return.

Saints running back Daniel Lasco was taken off the field by ambulance after suffering a spine injury on a second-quarter kickoff. Saints coach Sean Payton said following the game that all signs were positive with Lasco.

Brayden Schenn also had two goals and two assists, and Jake Allen stopped 26 shots for the NHL-leading Blues (16-5-1).

Tarasenko’s fight came in the second period. In just the third scrap of his six-year career, the skilled forward tangled with Matt Benning and landed a solid right hand much to the crowd’s delight.

It sure sounds like the perfect time to let Jimmy Garoppolo make his San Francisco debut when the 49ers return to action Nov. 26 against Seattle.

It’s also not that simple.

“The more we Hall of Famers talk about this — and we talk about it a lot — we realize we can no longer sit silent,” Morgan wrote. “Many of us have come to think that silence will be considered complicity. nike_steelers_2529

Miami decides to go for it on a fourth-and-1 on its 48.

In addition, the Braves were banned from signing Robert Puason, a 14-year-old Dominican shortstop with whom they had reached a verbal agreement, when he becomes eligible for a contract on July 2, 2019. MLB said Puason agreed to sign with the Braves because the team agreed with his agent to deals with six other players for “inflated” signing bonuses.

Olive Sagapolu, DT, Wisconsin — The massive 6-2, 346-pound Samoan had a great all-around game against Iowa. Sagapolu helped the Badgers hold Iowa to 25 rushing yards and added a sack that was nearly a safety late in the first half of Wisconsin’s 38-14 win.

Touchdown, Carolina. The Panthers are pulling away from Miami and now lead 31-7. Cameron Artis-Payne takes a handoff, runs through an arm tackle at the line of scrimmage and goes into the end zone for the 12-yard score.

Damien Williams is brought down behind the line of scrimmage by Luke Kuechly and the Dolphins turn it over on downs.

Touchdown, Carolina. Two plays after Samuel’s drop, the Panthers punch it in and take a 24-7 lead. Newton throws a screen pass to Devin Funchess, who avoids Miami’s tacklers for a 28-yard touchdown.

“That was good… but I feel as if we’re still scratching the surface with our potential and things we can do as a whole in this offense,” Newton said. “We left a lot of plays out there.

“There’s nothing saying we hit our pinnacle yet and there’s nothing saying we can’t get better. That’s the thing we’ve just got to be optimistic about.”

With less than two minutes left, the Jaguars led 13-7 and those on Cleveland +7 were seconds away from winning their bet. Then, for the third time in three possessions, DeShone Kizer turned the ball over, this time fumbling it away on a sack that resulted in a Telvin Smith touchdown. That score gave Jacksonville a 19-7 lead, which would stand as the final score after a backdoor cover attempt by the Browns came up short.nike_steelers_716

Either way, watch both guys play. They’re a pleasure to see in action.

Matthews is the main attraction, however, and probably the biggest reason I find myself eagerly watching what Toronto does. Everyone loves goals and Matthews scores a lot of them, but what makes him seemingly different is the way he scores them.

While Darnold may need some more seasoning, we’re splitting hairs here. Both quarterbacks have NFL potential, but it appears Rosen will be better out of the gate.That’s not a shot at Darnold, it’s just a compliment to Rosen.

Either way, watch both guys play. They’re a pleasure to see in action.

In a conference where the Patriots, Steelers and Chiefs rule, the Titans have yet to prove they’re up to the same passing pop. Given that their constant pass defense woes leave them prone to getting into higher-scoring affairs than they would like, Mariota has to go from solid to spectacular. That’s not an easy ask.

Thompson, meanwhile, averaged 4.6 yards per carry as the third-down back and rushed for two scores. He is tied for the team lead with 39 catches, good for 510 yards and four touchdowns. Starting running back Rob Kelley is already on IR.

Onwuasor and his Ravens are now sitting in a wild card spot and in the AFC with several inconsistent teams fighting for the wild card spots, the Ravens and their 6th-ranked defense are sitting pretty for now.

How it works, also per SkyCam’s site: “Skyview interprets the operator’s joystick commands into positional coordinates, tracks the location of the SkyCam, and synchronizes the movement of each reel setting the Skycam in motion. Each of the four suspension lines goes over a precision pulley and is attached to a computer-controlled spooling mechanism.
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Three questions with Dolphins running back Kenyan Drake

The Buccaneers (3-6) and Dolphins (4-5) were supposed to play in Miami on Sept. 10 in the 2017 regular-season opener. Instead the two teams are playing in Week 11 after Hurricane Irma robbed both teams of their bye week this season.

The go-ahead goal came after New York defenseman Johnny Boychuk tied the game with the Islanders on a two-man advantage. Boychuk finished off a passing play at 7:13 of the middle period with his third goal of the season, assisted by Bailey and John Tavares.

The 20-year-old Barzal — a first-round draft pick by the Islanders in 2015 — has 20 points overall.

According to the NFL Network, a person with knowledge of the situation said Smith will be unable to play with a groin injury and Byron Bell will start at left tackle for Dallas instead.

Smith missed practice again Thursday, meaning he hasn’t practiced all week.

Chaz Green started at left tackle for the Cowboys Sunday, but he was benched due to his ineffectiveness. Green allowed five sacks to Falcons defensive end Adrian Clayborn before he was taken out of the game in favor of Bell.

Derek Carr is still picking up stats — 1,954 yards with 13 touchdowns to seven interceptions while completing 65.2 percent of his passes — but there’s just something missing. He, and the entire Raiders team, got “shook” at Washington in Week 3 and they have been trying to get their legs under them ever since. Carr often doesn’t look comfortable in the pocket and gets rid of the ball too soon, before a play can develop. He also seems to be putting too much touch, or air, on his passes at times. Is last year’s broken leg still on his mind? Is the broken bone in his back, suffered in Week 4, still an issue? Carr was supposed to be an MVP candidate for a Super Bowl contender this season. Instead, something just looks, well, off. — Paul Gutierrez
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