Category Archives: New England Patriots

New England Patriots

Panthers’ Luke Kuechly on pace to play Sunday vs. Buccaneers

It looks like good news on the injury front for the Panthers.
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Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly ran out in full pads for practice on Wednesday, according to the Charlotte Observer.

League executives tried to show they understood the players’ concerns. Several league staff members presented a three-pronged action plan: expand the My Cause, My Cleats initiative; help convene more meetings with lawmakers to ramp up lobbying for players’ causes on Capitol Hill and, through the clubs, in statehouses across the country; and use the NFL’s platform to promote it all. The league had scrapped a staff idea to extend an olive branch to Kaepernick — who in October filed a collusion claim against the owners — by inviting him to visit the league headquarters.

Impact: It can be argued that no one player is tied into his team’s success more than Rodgers, who was again enjoying another superlative season with 13 touchdowns, three interceptions and 103.2 passer rating. Brett Hundley is now experiencing an NFL baptism-under-fire as Rodgers’ replacement. After losing two straight games since Rodgers was hurt, the Packers (4-3) must hope the Week 8 bye allows Hundley to get more up to speed before a once-promising season slips away.

Bowen: With Philip Rivers and the pass rush, the Chargers can stay in the mix in the AFC West. In Miami, don’t be surprised if Adam Gase’s system facilitates even more production than we expected with Matt Moore running the show.

Graziano: I had the Chargers as bounce-back contenders in the preseason, and even though they were awful out of the gate, it’s clear that the Broncos and Raiders aren’t without their flaws. The Chargers still have the AFC West’s best quarterback — all due respect to Alex Smith’s hot Alex Killorn Authentic Jersey start and Derek Carr’s ascendant talent — and that still means something.

Terrence Ross scored 15 points and Elfrid Payton had 13 points and nine assists. All five Magic starters had at least 10 points.

Brady now holds all or shares the important NFL wins records. His five Super Bowl victories are tied for most all-time with former 49ers and Cowboys linebacker Charles Haley. His 25 postseason victories are unparalleled. And he’d passed Favre and Manning in terms of total wins — regular season and playoffs — in 2016.

There are plenty of astonishing numbers in that record-setting run. He’s carved up the AFC East in his 18 years as the Patriots’ start. Brady is 25-8 against the Jets, 20-9 against the Dolphins, and a ludicrous 26-3 against the Bills.

He’s 102-19 at home in the regular season and 85-37 on the road. The only NFL division Brady has a losing record against is the since-defunct NFC Central — he threw three passes at the tail end of a blowout loss to the Lions in 2000. There are only two franchises against whom Brady has a losing record in the regular season — the Carolina Panthers and Seattle Seahawks

On Monday, Goodell and Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin sent a letter of support to the congressional sponsors of the Sentencing Reform and Correction Act, a bill designed to increase rehabilitation of people convicted of crimes.

According to ESPN, which is keeping a week-by-week tally of which professional football players protest this season during the playing of The Star-Spangled Banner, this past Sunday only 10 NFL players participated in protesting racial inequality by kneeling or refusing to stand during the national anthem—the fewest this season. Other players protested by raising fists during the song, staying in the tunnel or demonstrating before the anthem.sabres_006

I’ve continued to get better and better and better.

Cam Newton was MVP of the league in 2015, then bottomed out to a 52.9 completion percentage in 2016. Following offseason shoulder surgery and minimal training camp activity, Newton’s 2017 got off to a rocky start. But his completion percentage is 65.2, which would break his previous career high by 3.5 points if it held up. And his yards per attempt are at 7.9, which is a higher figure than he posted in his MVP season. Panthers people to whom I’ve talked are still saying they’re not worried about Newton or his health — that a slow start was expected after the offseason inactivity. They have faith and confidence in him. They just hope he rewards it by bouncing back off a down 2016. So far, the jury is out. Veteran Derek Anderson, who has started 47 career games but has won only 20 of those, is the backup.

Luck, who has missed 14 games over the past two-plus seasons, won’t put a timetable on when he’ll return, but he was adamant in saying that he will play this season. Pagano has already ruled him out for Sunday’s game against the San Francisco 49ers at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Brissett will continue to start until Luck is ready to start for the Colts (1-3).

“I wish I would wake up tomorrow morning and feel incredible and the whole thing was a dream,” Luck said. “But I know that’s not the case and I know that’s not the reality. And I understood when I elected to have surgery to try not to be surprised by anything, and understand it’s going to be a long process. A really, really long process. I’m not surprised in a sense that we’re here now.

“What I know is true, I’ve continued to get better and better and better. And at the end of the day, you take a weeklong snap shot and I know I’m better than I was at this point last week. I got to go out there and throw and do stuff in practice and it felt pretty darn good. That’s where my focus as to be.”vikings_114

How many jerseys can you really afford to own?

For the past three seasons, the Lions have worn a “WCF” memorial patch for former team owner William Clay Ford. The new uni set moves the memorial to the left sleeve, where it will become a permanent fixture, much like the Bears’ “GSH” sleeve memorial for George S. Halas.

Watkins says buying jerseys is a tough proposition these days and his company is absorbing the risk for fans.

“How many jerseys can you really afford to own?” Watkins said. “Wouldn’t it be nice to not only wear the players on your favorite team, but also be able to wear the jerseys of the players on your fantasy team?”

To see Mike Clay’s analysis of most (and least) advantageous WR matchups in Week 1, and for a downloadable cheat sheet of every matchup, you must be an Insider.

General manager Rick Spielman has invested in the offensive line this offseason, spending big to add a pair of new tackles in Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers. The interior of the line, anchored by rookie third-rounder Pat Elflein at center, might be a bigger concern now. The defense should be great, and if Bradford can stay healthy and one of the young receivers — most likely Stefon Diggs — breaks out, the Vikings have both the stars and the depth to challenge any team in the NFC.

KC Joyner, NFL writer: Chargers over Broncos. The Broncos overhauled their offensive line and have to face a Chargers squad that brings back nine front-seven players who each tallied 250 or more snaps last season. That group ranked second in pass pressure rate. Points will be at a premium, but the Los Angeles offense will post enough to pull off the upset.magic_024

Lamar Odom shares chilling reality of cocaine addiction

The Players’ Tribune has proven to be a unique source for retirement announcements, farewells and anecdotes. But today’s entry penned by Lamar Odom may be the most real and powerful piece published on the site to date.

Just a quick refresher — the former NBA Sixth Man of the Year was found unconscious in a Nevada brothel in 2015 after suffering several strokes and kidney failure. He fell into a coma for four days.

One source whose team has been trying to find a way to deal for Irving said this week that there does not seem to be anything of a deadline for the Cavs to make a decision. While the Cavs have been very focused and professional in their talks, this particular team did not have any sense of where they stood in the Cavs process, describing them as in “fact finding mode,” not necessarily deal making mode. That can always change quickly, but there doesn’t seem to be much urgency to find closure.”

The report goes on to say that if there a front-runner emerges, that team would likely be the Suns simply because a trade for Josh Jackson might be the most appealing to LeBron James. The Suns reportedly though are not discussing deals that include Jackson or Devin Booker, but that very well could be because Jackson does not become trade eligible until this coming week.

The Heat, Timberwolves and Knicks are all still working to try to get a trade done, but no specific names have been mentioned and Andrew Wiggins is reportedly untouchable for the Timberwolves, so they may be out of the running entirely with a solid four that includes Wiggins, Jimmy Butler, Karl-Anthony Towns and newly acquired Jeff Teague.

For now we wait to see what happens, just don’t hold your breath because Altman may not make a move for a while.
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Sammy Watkins has one last chance to make good with the Bills

2017 is Sammy Watkins’ last chance to prove Buffalo right.

The talented wide receiver cost the Bills two premium first-round draft picks nearly four years ago, but injuries have prevented him from blossoming into the consistent scoring threat Buffalo has needed for years. Instead, the player who management hoped would end a 17-year streak of regular-season futility has been so frustrating he couldn’t even earn the team option at the end of his rookie contract.

The Bills decided to let their erstwhile No. 1 receiver test free agency next season rather than retain him for $13.26 million. That kind of dismissal should light a fire under the young receiver, making him one of the AFC’s most dangerous scoring threats.

Well, they can’t all be winners. Bill Belichick took the plunge on a guy who tore both his ACLs in college, and it simply never worked out. Easley lasted just two injury-riddled years in New England before the Patriots waived him last offseason. The Los Angeles Rams picked him up and he was pretty decent, playing all 16 games and putting up 3.5 sacks.

Perhaps the Rams found a late bloomer on the cheap, but New England got nothing out of its first-round pick, so I have to grade it as I see it. The one year Belichick doesn’t trade down … Grade: D-

Ward played safety in college, but the 49ers moved him to nickel cornerback at the pro level. Despite injury problems, Ward has been a fairly solid corner when healthy. The Niners plan on moving him back to his college position next season as they transition to a 4-3 defense. Grade: B
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Robert Griffin III will work out for Chargers on Tuesday

Robert Griffin III is finally getting another chance with an NFL team.

NFL Media reported Monday that the 2012 NFL Rookie of the Year will work out for the Chargers on Tuesday.

Lillard specifically called out ESPN writer Tom Haberstroh, who introduced a couple of negative comparisons between the two star point guards.

“Irving might fancy himself as the next Kobe (Bryant) or (Russell) Westbrook — alpha dogs who became MVPs after their co-star left the picture — but you can’t just ignore Irving’s losing track record as the No. 1 guy. The more realistic expectation is that he’s another Lillard,” Haberstroh wrote.

Lillard does have a point. Aside from a tough rookie year in 2012-13, the Trail Blazers have had a winning record each season since. They have also frequented the playoffs during Lillard’s tenure.

From an individual standpoint, Lillard is one of just three players (Oscar Robertson and LeBron James) who has recorded more than 1,500 points and 400 assists in their first five years in the league.

The Cardinals only have three players who can be free agents after this season.

Zach Duke has been on the DL all season, so he won’t/can’t be moved (though he is on track to return at some point in 2017). Sueng-hwan Oh was great in 2016, but has struggled this year (4.07 ERA/4.80 FIP) in the late innings.

Let’s start with this: Verlander, 34, is owed a lot of money over the next couple years. He’ll bring in approximately $10 million for the rest of 2017, then he’s guaranteed $28 million next year and $28 million in 2019, too, with a vesting option for $22 million for 2020 that automatically kicks in if he finishes in the top five of the 2019 Cy Young vote.

No team is going to pay his entire salary and give up an elite prospect or two. That’s just not going to happen. So the question is this: Can the Tigers find the right money/prospects balance with any team? More on that in a moment.

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Joel Embiid out indefinitely with swelling in knee, will have MRI today

Joel Embiid cannot catch a break.

The promising 76ers big man and Rookie of the Year candidate, who has missed the last 13 games with a left knee injury, is now out indefinitely, according to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The Embiid news comes just days after the 76ers announced that rookie forward Ben Simmons will miss the enitre season while recovering from a broken foot.

Embiid missed his first two NBA seasons due to foot injuries.

He is averaging 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game in 31 games played this season.

Shamet helped himself by playing well in Indianapolis this weekend against group of tough, athletic guards from both Dayton and Kentucky.

First, he was matched up against Scoochie Smith and Kyle Davis from Dayton, both of whom are physical, tough defenders who can make life miserable. Then, he was forced to match up against De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk against Kentucky. Shamet played exceedingly well, especially in the Kentucky game, mostly helping Wichita State to dictate tempo against the Wildcats.

For a player whose athletic limitations will be the main point of contention about his draft stock over the next couple of years, Shamet held up exceedingly well against elite players both in terms of quickness and physicality. He was probably the best player in the Missouri Valley this season despite not winning the POY award. A freshman, Shamet will be a 2018 or 2019 NBA Draft prospect. But it’s worth pointing out his impressive play as something to watch for on a Wichita State team that should be in the preseason top-10 next season.broncos_068 (1)

Will Kyle Lowry leave Raptors to escape LeBron James’ dominance in the East?

Kyle Lowry said before the season he’d opt out of the final year of his contract, and he told reporters Monday he still stands by that.

So what’s next for the All-Star point guard? Typically when a star opts out of his contract it means he’s coming back just to sign a larger deal, but Lowry may actually consider leaving. He’s currently on a team that just made several offseason moves to challenge the Cavs, only to be swept by them in the second round of the playoffs.

When asked Monday what he’ll seek most as a free agent this offseason, his response was, without hesitation, “A ring. Nothing else. I just want a ring.”

Bradley Beal had been averaging just under 30 points in the Wizards’ last four playoff games, but he misfired Tuesday, hitting only 1-of-9 3-pointers and 4-of-15 overall. He also turned the ball over six times.

How does John Wall sneak behind Isaiah Thomas and strip this ball? He gets a well-deserved dunk for his cobra-like quickness.

Rockets (55-27) at Spurs (61-21), 9:30 p.m. ET, TNT (Rockets lead series 1-0) — The Rockets buried 22-of-50 3s in Game 1 to blow out the Spurs, 126-99. Meanwhile, the Spurs, who led the NBA in 3-point shooting percentage in the regular season, fizzled behind the arc. The more troubling aspect for the Spurs might have been that they lost their composure, something that doesn’t happen very often to Gregg Popovich’s teams. Don’t expect to see a repeat Wednesday night.

Embiid, of course, started the feud with Ball on draft night, tweeting, “Please dunk on him (Lonzo Ball) so hard that his daddy runs on the court to save him.”

LaVar Ball upped the ante Friday, telling TMZ Embiid made the foul comment because, “his vocabulary is limited,
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MLB All-Star Game 2017: Reds’ Zack Cozart earns bonus — donkey from Joey Votto

Joey Votto and Zack Cozart have given the baseball term “red ass” a whole new meaning.

Votto last spring promised Cozart a donkey if his Cincinnati teammate made the National League All-Star team this year. Well, Cozart is the National League’s starting shortstop and Votto is a man of his word, so . . .

The Cubs designated Montero for assignment last week after he publicly criticized Jake Arrieta and other Cubs pitchers for being “slow to the plate.” His comments to reporters came after the Nationals racked up seven stolen bases against Chicago last Tuesday.

Montero has thrown out one of 32 potential base-stealers this season, the worst percentage among major leaguers with more than 10 games behind the plate. Cubs starter Willson Contreras has thrown out 18 of 53, the fourth-best percentage among regular catchers.

Montero a two-time All-Star who turns 34 Sunday, will back up Russell Martin in Toronto. Montero slashed .286/.366/.439 with four home runs in 112 plate appearances for the Cubs this season. He has never played a game at Rogers Centre.

At last count, Turner was leading Kris Bryant in the voting. He’s now hitting .384/.472/.569. It’s still a tough call between Turner, Bryant and Anthony Rendon, but it looks like Turner may get it. He did miss 20 games on the DL, but it’s hard to ignore a guy hitting .384. You can’t go wrong with any of the three.

Logan Morrison is mad and isn’t going to take it anymore. OK, you can imagine how New York Yankees fans reacted on Twitter to the Tampa Bay Rays first baseman saying he should be in the Home Run Derby instead of Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez. Morrison has 24 home runs, tied for third in the majors, while Sanchez has 13 home runs. “Gary shouldn’t be there,” Morrison told reporters. “Gary’s a great player, but he shouldn’t be in the Home Run Derby. I remember when I had 14 home runs. That was a month and a half ago.”warriors_006-115x115