Month: April 2018

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Jonathan Martin facing five charges over threatening Instagram post, report says

Former NFL lineman Jonathan Martin was detained last month after posting an unsettling photo on Instagram that led to the temporary closing of Harvard-Westlake High School in Studio City, Calif., which Martin attended.

According to TMZ, Martin was charged with making criminal threats and possessing a loaded firearm by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office on Monday. The report says there is currently a warrant out for Martin’s arrest.

Grizzlies: Ben McLemore started the game 4-4, including a trio of 3-pointers, and finished with 13 points. … While Gasol was one rebound and an assists shy of a triple-double, Dillon Brooks also flirted with the standard. In addition to his 22 points, he had eight rebounds and eight assists.

Ellenson, a 6-foot-11 forward in his second season out of Marquette, collected his career-high by converting 6 of 10 shots, including 4 of 6 from outside the arc. He entered the game averaging 3.1 points. “He’s really a good player. It’s not a secret,” Tolliver said about Ellenson, the 18th overall pick in the 2016 draft. “There’s a reason why was such a high draft pick. He has a lot of potential. He’s just a young guy trying to find his way.”

The Grizzlies recorded season-highs in several categories, including points (130), field goal percentage (57.8 percent) and 3-pointers made (16). They also had a season-best 36 assists.

Cooks made his mark in New England as a deep threat, recording 65 catches for 1,082 yards and seven touchdowns with a career-high 16.6 yards per catch last season. He suffered a concussion in the Super Bowl in February but is expected to be healthy this upcoming season.

In addition to Cooks, the Rams have added Ndamukong Suh, Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib this offseason.

The Patriots now hold the 23rd, 31st, 43rd and 63rd overall picks and could be wheeling and dealing ahead of this month’s draft. The Rams first selection in the draft is now No. 87 overall.

“We’ve been on the road for a while,” Zobrist said. “Looking forward to that opening day tomorrow, and even though it will be cold, there will be a lot of people excited for that at Wrigley.”


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Steelers’ David DeCastro on NFL’s heads-up rule: ‘Might as well take the ball away while your at it’

The NFL announced a new rule last month that will penalize or even lead to ejection of players for lowering their helmets to initiate contact, sparking controversy among players and officials.

Steelers guard David DeCastro, who has been known to make hard head-first hits throughout his career, was more than willing to share his honest perspective on the rule change going as far as saying, You might as well take the ball away while you’re at it.

We stopped getting stops. We were defending really well up until that point, Magic forward Aaron Gordon said.

Terry, the savvy veteran guard, immediately gave the Bucks a spark by forcing a turnover on the inbounds play after Bledsoe’s two foul shots. Muhammad gave the Bucks a presence off the dribble to help make up for the absence of the free-wheeling Antetokounmpo.

Shabazz played a (great) game all night long, played in attack mode … got to his strengths in the paint, forward Khris Middleton said.

The Bucks led comfortably the rest of the way to close out the regular season at the Bradley Center. A new arena is scheduled to open in the fall on an adjacent lot in downtown Milwaukee.

Thomas is known for being one of the Browns’ most resiliant players, not missing a snap in 10 years until a triceps injury cost him the rest of the season in 2017.

Monday was a step in the right direction for Beckham and the Giants after a tumultuous offseason. The team wasn’t happy when a video surfaced that showed Beckham with what appeared to be a brown cigarette in his hand while a female companion used a credit card to arrange a white powder into lines after a night of partying in France.

This didn’t help Beckham’s desire to get paid. It’s no secret he wants a new contract. He played last year for $1.8 million and is expected to make $8.5 million on the fifth-year option of his rookie contract this season. A new deal is likely to net him in the range of $60 million guaranteed.

Showing up for the start of offseason workouts is at least a step in the right direction for the two sides.

Mavericks: Barnes started 0 of 7 from the field and missed his first three free throws. … Dallas finished 9-32 on the road.

76ers: The 1982-83 Sixers won 14 straight from Dec. 21-Jan. 21. … Philadelphia won 18 straight over two seasons in 1966. … The Sixers last lost March 13 to Indiana. … Ersan Ilyasova had 11 points and 12 rebounds.


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NFL Draft 2018: Aaron Rodgers gives QB tips to Josh Rosen, praises Sam Darnold

California quarterbacks stick together, apparently.

Cal great Aaron Rodgers had high words of praise for UCLA QB Josh Rosen and USC’s Sam Darnold ahead of this month’s NFL Draft.

Rodgers and Rosen worked out together before the latter’s Pro Day last month and shared multiple tips on what it takes to be a successful NFL quarterback.

This is just awesome seeing Aaron Rodgers interact and give advice to Josh Rosen. You can tell they’re kinda similar personality wise.

The 21-year-old player is favored to go in the early portion of the first round at the 2018 NFL Draft which begins April 26 and he could be taken around the same time as Darnold, who is also on Rodgers’ radar.

Sam is super talented, what he did in the Rose Bowl was really impressive. Josh, he’s got the total package, Rodgers said. He throws it really well, he moves well enough, he’s heady, smart, gamer. I think those guys both have a chance, situation-wise and opportunity-wise, to have a nice, long career.

Several teams at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis reportedly wanted to watch Jackson work out with wide receivers, not just quarterbacks. Mayfield was and is among those who defend Jackson’s ability to play QB.

His response was the best, Mayfield said of Jackson while speaking with Sporting News prior to a recent press conference at the Maxwell Football Club’s annual award gala. He said, ‘(Is) Josh Allen going to do a tight end-quarterback?’

Lamar is a great quarterback no matter what people are going to pick up apart about his game.

Jackson in 2016 won both the Heisman Trophy and the Maxwell Award as the nation’s top college player following a season in which he threw for more than 3,500 yards and had 30 touchdowns with nine interceptions. He produced similar numbers in 2017, but Mayfield took the awards.


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Dolphins cutting quarterback Brandon Doughty

“LeBron has led this charge and playing 81 out of 81 games,” Lue said. “It’s very easy for a guy to sit down when you’re going through the stuff we went through all season. I think he did a great job just leading by example, playing every game even though we were going through a tough stretch and tough stretches. I think he did a really good job of setting the tone for everyone. That’s what we need from him. To win 50 games after we — I guess, for 35-40 games we had probably four or five different starting point guards and guys being out, six of our rotational guys being out — him stepping up and playing the way he’s played has been tremendous.”

The proposal potentially could return to the agenda at the league’s spring meeting in May. However, rules that are not passed when first presented at the league’s annual March meeting usually fall short again upon reconsideration … unless the wording is satisfactorily changed and/or enough momentum is generated to sway 24 of the 32 voting teams needed for approval.

Neither seems likely to happen in this case — and there’s good reason why.

Simply put, a few stoplights are needed for a league that has never before operated at such a breakneck pace.

Front-office staffs used to take some time to catch their collective breath once eliminated from the title race as the playoffs unfolded. After a brief respite, attention toward the next season was then placed primarily on draft prospects at college all-star games before shifting toward free agency and veteran trade possibilities entering the NFL Combine in late February.

It is expected to be one of Jackson’s final trips — if not his final trip — to a team facility before the draft, per Breer.

Cleveland and Miami also are among the teams reportedly on Jackson’s itinerary.

The Ravens’ interest in Jackson is interesting given they have Super Bowl-winning quarterback Joe Flacco under contract for four more seasons. But General Manager Ozzie Newsome and coach John Harbaugh both said Thursday that Griffin’s signing wouldn’t affect their draft plans, with a quarterback remaining a possibility.

Flacco is only 20-22 over the past three seasons with 52 touchdowns and 40 interceptions. The Ravens have not made the playoffs the past three seasons.

If his 2017 season is an indication rather than outlier, the Broncos will soon be ecstatic with Keenum after two uninspiring years under center in the aftermath of Peyton Manning’s retirement.

Mind you, that’s a big “if.”


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Cavs can’t overcome 30-point deficit as Sixers win 13th straight

Larry Nance Jr.’s tip-in attempt off an intentionally missed free throw by LeBron James bounced off the rim at the buzzer, cutting the Cleveland Cavaliers’ comeback against the 76ers just short in a 132-130 loss Friday night.

As frantic as the finish was, what led up to it was even more remarkable: The Cavs trailed the Sixers by 30 points in the second quarter and found themselves down by only one with 12.4 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

Had Cleveland pulled off the victory, it would have marked the biggest comeback of the entire NBA season — eclipsing the Washington Wizards overcoming a 27-point deficit against the New York Knicks on Feb. 14, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

James and Kevin Love showed they were more than capable of executing their late-game “touchdown” play, in which Love throws an inbounds pass from the baseline past the half-court line to a streaking James to catch and shoot. They had run it only one other time this season, and Love told ESPN the pair hadn’t practiced it since training camp.

“Kevin’s a great passer in that situation, and Bron being able to shield his man off and go up and catch it and get it,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said. “We had our chances.”

“Competitiveness,” Jackson said, via Mickles. “I wanted to beat my time from the combine. I was successful, so that’s really what it was.

“. . . I was shooting for something under 4.3, but 4.31 is fast, so I’m OK with it. I’m not disappointed at all. I felt like I ran good, felt like I ran a 4.2. When I didn’t see 4.2 [on the video screen], it was like, ‘That’s all I had in the tank, so it was OK.’”

Jackson has visited the Eagles, his only trip so far. But with Pro Day out of the way, he could get more attention the next couple of weeks.

The chip that began building on Melvin’s shoulder served him well when he arrived as a walk-on at nearby Northern Illinois.

“It was, ‘Hey, just try your best and give it all you’ve got and you’ll earn a scholarship,'” Melvin said. “I did that.”


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Dolphins sign exclusive rights free agent Jake Brendel

Center Jake Brendel signed his exclusive rights tender with the Dolphins.

Brendel, 25, played all 16 games last season as a reserve offensive lineman. He also saw action on special teams.

He played a total of 67 snaps in 2017.

Juan Lagares, another right-handed hitter, could be in play for a start in center field. The Mets may choose to rest a lefty-hitting outfielder such as Michael Conforto or Jay Bruce.

The Marlins, meanwhile, have been overmatched so far as they have embarked on yet another rebuilding effort. But some of their hitters have managed to be productive early on, including left fielder Derek Dietrich, who went 3-for-4 on Monday and is batting .311.

Marlins rookie third baseman Brian Anderson, who had an RBI on Monday, is batting .289. Second baseman Starlin Castro is hitting .286 and has been consistent. Outfielder Cameron Maybin is hitting .281, and shortstop Miguel Rojas has had his moments, including a game-winning hit, stellar defense and a .256 batting average.

“I think our guys are fighting to stay with the game plan,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “They are fighting, battling, scratching for runs.”
Campbell said Jacksonville’s success now “means nothing” and spoke from experience about what happens when you act differently.

“You start back at zero, so everybody’s equal,” Campbell said, via Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com. “You have to earn the right to have the opportunity to make it to the playoffs. When people start picking you as the favorite and [predicting] what you should do, it’s kind of poison. You’re kind of relaxing and start believing you’re better than you are. I experienced that back in ’15 in Arizona. We went to the conference championship, and everybody next year predicted us to win the Super Bowl. I think it kind of affected the way we played. I think we kind of believed it instead of earning it.”

The Jaguars earned their spot in the NFL’s final four last year and the talent is on hand for another run. Campbell’s words are a reminder that talent alone doesn’t decide who survives and advances come January.

What Polian promises will be top-tier coaching with NFL experience will ideally provide the guidance that can develop skill sets.

Contract terms aren’t too shabby, either.


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NFL Draft 2018: Five channels to provide coverage, for first time

Back in 1979, the late NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle was surprised when ESPN offered to televise the draft. Why would anybody watch, asked Rozelle. Times have changed. Now Rozelle’s successors at the NFL seemingly won’t be happy until there’s a law that all fans must watch the NFL Draft. Or else.

On Wednesday, the NFL announced its largest TV coverage plan, one in which the 2018 event will be covered by two broadcast networks (Fox and ABC) and four cable outlets (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, NFL Network). For the first time, all seven rounds of the three-day event will air live on broadcast TV.

Is the NFL overdoing it? Decide for yourself, but the league is betting the additional TV channels will make this the most-viewed draft ever.

Here’s what you need to know about TV coverage of next month’s big event, which will be held Thursday, April 26, to Saturday, April 28, at Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

With Chris Berman at the helm for decades, ESPN coverage helped turn the league’s annual offseason event into must-see TV. ESPN exclusively televised the draft from 1980 to 2006, when the league’s 24/7 network added its own coverage.

But Berman is out and so is ESPN’s stranglehold on the draft. Now the league has invited Fox, its new Thursday Night Football partner, to push its way into draft coverage as well.

Huizenga bought a share of the Dolphins in 1990 and took full ownership of the team — and its stadium — four years later. He owned the Dolphins until selling all but 5 percent of his shares to Stephen Ross between 2008 and ’09.

While the Dolphins made the playoffs in seven of his first eight seasons as owner, they never reached the AFC championship. The franchise has made only two playoff appearances in the 16 years since, losing in the wild-card round both times.

Huizenga found more success — and infamy — as a baseball owner. His expansion Marlins won the World Series in 1997, their fifth season of existence, but that joy was short-lived. Huizenga claimed to have lost $34 million that season and ordered the roster gutted, leading to 54-108 record in 1998. He then sold the team the following offseason to John Henry.


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Packers’ appeal of Martellus Bennett grievance has not been heard yet

The Packers’ appeal of an arbitrator’s decision in their grievance against Martellus Bennett could take a while. Packers president Mark Murphy said the appeal has not been heard yet, Rob Demovsky of ESPN reports.

Thus, Green Bay is having to count Bennett’s $4.2 million in dead money on this year’s salary cap.

Arbitrator Stephen Burbank dismissed the Packers’ grievance in February as they sought to collect the unamortized portion of Bennett’s signing bonus. The Packers cut the tight end November 8, saying he failed to disclose a medical condition during his physical.

They traded Bennett and released Sherman. They have entertained trading Thomas. And they used the “anybody but Kaepernick” strategy of backing up the most valuable, and vulnerable, player on their roster.

Again, some of this was inevitable. Some was avoidable. Much of it involved players whose skills and personalities can’t be duplicated, cap hit or on-field production notwithstanding.

What’s certain is that the Seahawks we all knew are no more. What’s also certain is that they look more like one-out-of-32 than they have in a long time.

With that said, here are the five most important takeaways from Jackson’s hour-long showcase.

Don’t call it a smokescreen. Pittsburgh definitely is interested in Jackson as a potential successor for Ben Roethlisberger. Not only were coach Mike Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert in attendance, but so was offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner.

The Steelers don’t plan to deviate too much from the success they had with Todd Haley running the offense, and Haley with Cleveland this season is going with a big-armed, mobile passer in Tyrod Taylor as the Browns’ starter while they develop their rookie. Jackson (6-3, 200 pounds) doesn’t quite have Roethlisberger’s size (6-5, 240 pounds), but his ability to buy time with his legs to get the ball deep should appeal to Black and Gold brass.

With Pittsburgh picking right before Jacksonville, another team that could groom Jackson in its offense for the near future, it would be shocking to see him still on the board when Minnesota picks at No. 30 overall.


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Manziel needs to play well in Canada to get back to the NFL

The plan made sense — take #ComebackSZN to The Spring League, dominate it, get a spot on a 90-man NFL offseason roster, work to get from 90 to 53. The performance in his debut likely wasn’t sufficiently dominant to trigger steps three and four.

Given that an NFL contract likely won’t be coming based on Saturday night’s game, the next question becomes whether Johnny Manziel will play at all on Thursday, in the second of the league’s two games. If Manziel plays, he may want to insist on playing all four quarters, both to show that he can do it physically and to hopefully develop the kind of rhythm and groove that will result in a better overall performance.

He’ll also need to show that he can show up, day after day and week after week, fully engaged at meetings and practices and everything else he’ll be expected to do.

Manziel says he’s happy to be playing again, and that’s good. He said his #ComebackSZN isn’t just about football but repairing relationships, and that’s even better. The best possible outcome for Manziel — full redemption in the NFL — is likely going to take a lot more time, patience, effort, and frustration.

“It was always an idea I had. I never really ran with it,” Hawley said. “When I decided I was done playing, I started getting stressed out about what I wanted to do. I took a step back: ‘Dude, you’ve got money. You’re single. You’re 29. You don’t have a job. Take advantage of the opportunity.’ ”

Hawley is doing this in style, an updated version of John Steinbeck’s “Travels With Charley,” with a video blog in place of a book that you read in high school and always want to recreate. And instead of a French poodle, he adopted a boxer mix named Freedom from a kill shelter, and he’s hitting the road and chronicling it under the Man Van Dog Blog banner.

Hawley spent $55,000 to buy and customize a cargo van for the trip. He has a fold-out bed, a freshwater tank, solar cells on top of the van and everything he’ll need for the journey. He’s already lost 50 pounds, and said he doesn’t miss the ulcers he developed last season because of the mental stress of his job.

“Like 95 percent of football players, their career ends before they want it to,” he said. “For me, I’m so grateful and blessed I was able to exhaust all the football I had. I’m very satisfied with my career. I gave it my all. I don’t have any regrets. It was my time. It’s pretty cool I’m able to move on from football without the ‘what if.’ ”


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Jed York will make final call on Reuben Foster’s future with 49ers

CEO Jed York took responsibility for what the 49ers will decide as more information becomes available on linebacker Reuben Foster.

The 49ers have dealt with off-field issues in the past involving Aldon Smith, Ray McDonald, Bruce Miller and Tramaine Brock. Each of those players were released after off-field incidents. Smith and McDonald had multiple run-ins with the law.

Earlier in March, the Browns landed Tyrod Taylor in a deal with the Buffalo Bills. Cleveland also sent DeShone Kizer to the Green Bay Packers in exchange for defensive back Damarious Randall.

The Browns also signed quarterback Drew Stanton on Monday, though Cleveland is widely expected to draft a quarterback with either the No. 1 or 4 overall pick in April’s NFL draft.

Kessler, 24, appeared in just three games last year after starting eight in 2016. He was a third-round pick out of Southern California two years ago.

In Jacksonville, he is expected to serve as backup to Blake Bortles. Chad Henne, the Jaguars’ No. 2 quarterback last year, signed with the Kansas City Chiefs earlier in free agency.

I would not be surprised if we see an Odell Beckham trade on or before the NFL draft, Schefter said

Former Seattle Seahawks quarterback Trevone Boykin was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of aggravated assault with serious bodily injury by police in Texas.

The Mansfield Police Dept. confirmed Boykin’s arrest one day after his former girlfriend told WFAA-TV in Dallas she was assaulted by the former TCU signal-caller. Shabrika Bailey accused Boykin of breaking her jaw in two places during an argument over a text message last week and that he choked her until she lost consciousness. Bailey said her injuries left her hospitalized for three days.

Boykin was arrested without incident at his residence at was still in police custody Wednesday ahead of his scheduled arraignment. Detectives interviewed Boykin, gathered evidence from the scene and reviewed video camera footage showing the alleged assault before issuing an arrest warrant.