LAST SEASON: Extraordinary 2017 draft yielding offensive rookie of year Alvin Kamara and defensive rookie of year Marshon Lattimore propelled Saints back into ranks of contenders. Fell just seconds short of playing in NFC title game. QB Drew Brees [url=http://www.pantherscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-kawann-short-jersey]Kawann Short Jersey[/url] , 39, showed virtually no sign of age, completing NFL-record 72 percent of passes. Offense ranked second in NFL, aided by resurgent running game. Lattimore and rookie safety Marcus Williams considerably improved pass coverage, and veteran DE Cameron Jordan had first All-Pro season, highlighted by 13 sacks, as defense improved considerably.
OUTLOOK: During free agency, Saints tried to put themselves in position to draft best players available, regardless of position. Bolstered defense by signing S Kurt Coleman, CB Patrick Robinson and LB Demario Davis. Added WR Cameron Meredith and TE Ben Watson to passing game and sought to improve depth on offensive line with veteran Jermon Bushrod. However, Saints were unable to sign big-name DE or DT, so those areas could become draft priorities, particularly in light of coach Sean Payton's recent comments that improving pass rush is "a must."
Capsule preview for the NBA Finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors:
Story line: The fourth consecutive Cavaliers-Warriors matchup in the NBA Finals, the eighth straight trip to the title series for Cleveland star LeBron James, and once again it’s Golden State that arrives as the overwhelming favorite. Both teams needed to survive Game 7s on the road to win their conference championships, winning those clinchers in shorthanded fashion – no Andre Iguodala for Golden State, no Kevin Love for Cleveland. James will either become the 39th player with four NBA championships, or the third to lose the title series six times.
How They Got Here: Cleveland beat No. 5 Indiana 4-3, No. 1 Toronto 4-0 and No. 2 Boston 4-3 for the Eastern Conference title. Golden State beat No. 7 San Antonio 4-1 [url=http://www.brownscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-james-burgess-jersey]James Burgess Jersey[/url] , No. 6 New Orleans 4-1 and No. 1 Houston 4-3 for the Western Conference title.
Key Matchup: Golden State’s Klay Thompson vs. Cleveland’s J.R. Smith. It’s safe to expect James, Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant to be spectacular in this series. The Warriors have more firepower than the Cavs, but they’re only great when firing on all cylinders. Smith needs to take every last bit of available space away from the ultra-quick-releasing Thompson and not let him get shots off. Should he succeed, that’s a big edge for the Cavs.
How the Cavaliers can win: James being spectacular is a prerequisite, and Cleveland needs to bring the same defensive effort that carried the Cavs in the Game 7 win at Boston. From there, Cleveland needs to do what Houston did against Golden State – force turnovers and attack the offensive glass.
How the Warriors can win: Take care of the basketball. Do that, and they will be fine. Don’t do that, and they’re asking for trouble.
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The Stanley Cup Final is a block party for the Washington Capitals.
For all of Evgeny Kuznetsov’s points on offense and Braden Holtby’s saves in net [url=http://www.lionscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-glover-quin-jersey]Glover Quin Jersey[/url] , the Capitals are one win away from blocking their way to the Cup. They’ve gotten in front of almost a third of the Vegas Golden Knights’ shots, blocking with enough smarts and precision to take a 3-1 series lead into Game 5 Thursday.
”There’s more to blocking shots than just going out there and trying to get hit,” Holtby said. ”We’re doing a great job of creating the right layers, guys going out there strategically to know which lane I’m picking for sight lines and they’re taking away the other half and making big blocks.”
Washington is blocking in quantity and quality in the final, 86 total, in limiting Vegas to 124 shots on Holtby – many of which he’s seeing and stopping . Even star captain Alex Ovechkin is blocking shots as he gets closer to tasting his first championship.
”You see `O’ jumping in front of shots, it makes everyone on the team want to do the same,” winger Devante Smith-Pelly said.
Blocking shots is a team-wide commitment right now and comes from a season’s worth of skaters, goaltending coach Scott Murray, Holtby and Philipp Grubauer getting on the same page. The goalies have worked on making sure they can see past blocks to give players the confidence to get in front of pucks.
”You obviously don’t want to cross in front of him,” center Jay Beagle said. ”You don’t want to become a screen. So if you miss the block, which happens, guys are good at shooting pucks and stuff, you want it still so from your standpoint you didn’t hinder Holts’ view.”
Defensemen have an understanding of which half of the net is their responsibility and which half is Holtby’s. Forwards closer to the blue line have to react quickly, take the right angle and get to the shooter.
”If guys have time and space, they’re going to be able to sift one through,” Smith-Pelly said. ”For the forwards, it’s just going out there pretty hard and just getting in the way.”
The amount of shots the Capitals have blocked through four games seems to be getting in the Golden Knights’ heads. They’re struggling to get quality shots through and resorting to settling for lower-danger scoring chances.
Capitals coach Barry Trotz doesn’t want his players thinking too much about blocking shots or hesitating. He doesn’t care much about Ovechkin’s blocking form or the philosophy of shot-blocking as long as it keeps the puck out of the net.
”If you’re positionally sound, if you’re in shot lanes, block the shot,” Trotz said. ”It’s all about will.”
And that will can turn into skill. Washington has been comfortable and confident enough in the final to push the puck up ice quickly, and a well-timed block shot can set the table for an odd-man rush.
”The less shots they have, the more opportunities we’re gonna have in offensive zone,” defenseman Dmitry Orlov said. ”Sometimes when you block it, you get quicker pass and you jump on the rush and you got 3-on-2 or 4-on-3.”
The Golden Knights by this point are well-aware of that. But they don’t really have a solution.
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In addition to a suffocating neutral-zone trap that’s not easy to play but has frustrated opponents for four rounds, the Capitals have embraced a shot-blocking-when-it-matters mentality.
”It’s not exactly fun, but you got to do if you really want to win,” Smith-Pelly said. ”Everyone is on board with doing those things.”
More Stanley Cup coverage:
The Panthers may not know at the moment what their offensive line is going to look like Sunday.
But they at least have more options than anticipated.
Via reporters at practice, right tackle Daryl Williams is practicing in full pads today, as is left guard Amini Silatolu.
Having either one back this week against Dallas would help, though there’s no guarantee either will be available. Williams suffered an MCL sprain and dislocated kneecap in the first padded practice of training camp [url=http://www.cowboyscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-joe-looney-jersey]Joe Looney Jersey[/url] , while Silatolu had a procedure for a torn meniscus.
It may be too optimistic to think they’d be ready this soon, but their participation is a good sign, as was not putting Williams on IR so he could return after eight weeks. That’s what they did with left tackle Matt Kalil.
The Panthers will likely use Taylor Moton at left tackle, and the right tackle start could go to trade acquisition Corey Robinson or right guard Trai Turner, who played some tackle two years ago. That would throw two guard jobs up in the air, which is less than ideal, but nothing about the Panthers’ line situation is.
Philadelphia looked crisp early – scoring both goals in the first period – despite losing in overtime at Dallas a night earlier. Neuvirth turned back 10 shots in his first game since suffering a lower-body injury on Feb. 18, but he exited the game midway through the second period for an undisclosed reason. Hakstol had no update after the game.
Mrazek took over and was exceptional, especially in the last five minutes when the Avalanche turned up the pressure. He withstood a flurry of shots in the last few seconds, including one from Gabriel Landeskog where the red light briefly came on after the puck flew by the net.
”Those five minutes felt like 15. So long [url=http://www.bengalscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-vincent-rey-jersey]Vincent Rey Jersey[/url] ,” Mrazek said. ”Lots of blocked shots in front of me, a couple of lucky bounces today. Didn’t see, I think, one or two pucks get to my pad. Big thanks to these guys in front the last five minutes.”
Matt Nieto scored for an Avalanche team that’s on the outside of the playoff picture with five games remaining. They’ve lost three of four, including two of those at home where they’ve been stellar all season. The Avs are 16-4-1 at the Pepsi Center over their last 21 games.
”When our line goes cold we lose games,” star forward Nathan MacKinnon said. ”If we have some chances it’s up to us to bury them.”
Andrew Hammond had 31 saves during an emergency start for Semyon Varlamov, who was sidelined by an illness. Varlamov had appeared in 21 straight games for the Avalanche.
Hammond was called up from San Antonio of the American Hockey League earlier in the day as an insurance policy. It was his first appearance for Colorado after splitting time between the minors and a backup role. He also dealt with what the team called a head injury. Hammond was acquired as part of a three-team trade that sent Matt Duchene to Ottawa in November.
”I think it took me a period to get my legs under me,” said Hammond, who played in his first NHL game in more than a year. ”The unfortunate part is I guess the game-winning goal ended up being scored in that period. But as the game went on I settled in and started to feel better.”
Nieto cut it to 2-1 by poking the puck past Neuvirth at 5:36 of the second period.
Colorado pulled Hammond with around 90 seconds left but couldn’t score the equalizer despite turning up the pressure.
With Provorov’s score, the Flyers have 48 goals from their defensemen – the team’s most in a season since the group accounted for 52 in 1992-93.
”This is how the game is played right now,” Provorov said. ”You can’t create offense with just three forwards. You have to move and have mobile `D.’ I think that’s what we have on our team.”
NOTES: Flyers D Shayne Gostisbehere set up Giroux’s goal. Gostisbehere has five assists over his last three games. … D Andrew MacDonald had seven blocked shots. … Avs RW Sven Andrighetto missed a third straight game with a lower-body injury. … Backup G Jonathan Bernier remains sidelined as he deals with a cut on his hand that became infected. He faced some shots during a morning skate Wednesday, but didn’t have his stick.
Flyers: Host Boston on Sunday.
Avalanche: Face Chicago on Friday before a three-game trip.
Marvin Bagley III was adamant that he was the best player going into the draft and was quick to share that opinion when asked. The former Duke star wasn’t backing down after being taken by the Sacramento Kings with the second overall selection [url=http://www.broncoscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-brian-dawkins-jersey]Brian Dawkins Jersey[/url] , either.
”That’s just the type of player I am,” Bagley said during a conference call with reporters. ”I’m going to have confidence in my game. I still think I’m the best player in the draft and I stand by that. I put a lot of work into it and I’m glad that I’ll be able to show it with Sacramento.”
Bagley’s positioning in the draft had been a topic of debate in the days leading up to the draft, whereas 7-foot-1 center Deandre Ayton of Arizona was almost unanimously viewed as the top overall pick.
The Phoenix Suns grabbed Ayton with the No. 1 pick, dropping Bagley to the No. 2 spot with Sacramento, which he says will give him added incentive heading into the NBA.
”It just lit a fire inside of me to want to play and compete at a high level,” Bagley said. ”So I’m happy it ended like that. Now all we can do is step out on the floor and play the game. That’s what it all is.”
The Kings drafted another Duke player, Gary Trent Jr., with the 37th overall pick then traded him to the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for two future second-round selections.
Bagley will be a welcome addition in Sacramento’s frontcourt. The 6-foot-11 Bagley was AP’s player of the year in the Atlantic Coast Conference during his only season at Duke. He averaged 21 points and 11.1 rebounds while shooting better than 60 percent and has the ability to consistently finish at the rim.
”Marvin is an elite talent in this draft, a great player,” Kings general manager Vlade Divac said. ”He’s a guy who works hard, wants to improve, learn, coachable, good teammate. Checks all the boxes that we want.”
Divac had several options with the franchise’s highest pick since the Kings grabbed Pervis Ellison with the top overall pick in 1989.
Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr. and Real Madrid sensation Luka Doncic were linked to Sacramento in the weeks leading up to the draft. Both were intriguing for different reasons, but there were questions about Porter’s health as well as concerns about Doncic’s ability to carry over his international success to the NBA.
”Marvin is for us a better fit, a better player,” Divac said. ”It was an easy choice for us.”
Bagley was one of four players in Division I to average at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in 2017. He joins a struggling franchise that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2006.
Coach Dave Joerger’s young team showed flashes at times in 2017 but there was never an established starting lineup and players were shuffled in and out.
Bagley played forward at Duke but could also get time at center in Joerger’s system. The 19-year-old is more of a scoring threat than last year’s starter, Willie Cauley-Stein, although both big men need more development on the defensive end.
A more likely scenario is the two big men playing together to give the Kings an inside presence on both ends.
Sacramento also has Skal Labissiere, who had an uneven season while dealing with injuries in 2017. Harry Giles, acquired in a draft-day trade from Portland a year ago, is also on the roster but didn’t play at all his rookie season after recovering from a torn ACL in his right knee.
Bagley’s ability to play both forward positions and center will give Joerger flexibility within his lineup.
Bagley is eager to get started. He is due to fly to Sacramento on Saturday and has already been penciled in to play in the NBA’s summer league.
”I think I can bring a lot to a team, offensively and defensively, inside and out,” Bagley said. ”I’m very confident in my game and my abilities. I know how much work I put into this and how much I sacrificed for it. I’m excited to show the world, my team and my teammates everything I can do.”
Just before the start of his ninth NFL season, Eric Decker has decided to call it a career.
“It has been my childhood dream and my passion to play the game of football,” Decker wrote. “I was very fortunate and blessed to have had the opportunity to have those dreams fulfilled and to have played with such extremely talented and hard-working teammates, coaches and staff. This has been a passion inside of me since I was a little boy but I know now it is time to hang up my helmet and start a new chapter in my life. I love football and always will. It will continue to be a part of my life.”
A 2010 third-round draft pick out of Minnesota, Decker spent his first four NFL seasons with the Broncos before playing three with the Jets, and then signing with the Titans for one year in 2017.
Even if Kendricks lingers on the market a little bit longer, he’ll almost certainly be with a new team before the Eagles have settled on the linebackers who will be filling out their defense this season. Assuming all continues to go well with Jordan Hicks‘ return from a torn Achilles, he and Nigel Bradham will return in leading roles and defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said Tuesday the team will be taking its time figuring out who will join them.
“The plan is to just have competition and see what comes of it,” Schwartz said in comments distributed by the team. “This time of the year you’re certainly open minded for all positions. We communicate that to our team. Whether it’s a player that’s a rookie, whether it’s a veteran, we have some guys that — we have a lot of guys come from different points. We have some young players that have worked up in our system. We have some guys that we brought from other teams and we have some new players on the roster. We’ll shake it all out, and when we get to the end of training camp, we’ll try to go forward with the best plan that we have.”
Corey Nelson, Nathan Gerry, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Joe Walker and LaRoy Reynolds round out the group in Philadelphia.
Schwartz proposed a similar approach at slot cornerback, where the team will be replacing Patrick Robinson. Schwartz said the team is experimenting with different ideas including sliding Jalen Mills inside and looking at players like D.J. Killings, De’Vante Bausby and 2017 second-round pick Sidney Jones as possibilities. Jones missed almost all of last year after injuring his Achilles [url=http://www.coltscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-andrew-luck-jersey]Andrew Luck Jersey[/url] , but if he restores his form from college he’s likely to find the field somewhere this fall.
Patrick Mahomes II dropped back to pass during a recent Chiefs practice, and before the new quarterback even had time to set up, fearsome pass rusher Justin Houston was staring him in the eyes.
Without Mahomes turning his back, either.
The four-time Pro Bowl linebacker has primarily played on the right side during his career, which means he's been chasing quarterbacks down from their blind side. But his new position coach, Mike Smith, intends to line Houston up opposite the weakest player on an opponent's offensive line, and often that will mean facing the right tackle rather than the left.
"It doesn't matter what side. I want to be everywhere," Houston said this week. "The weakest link is where I want to be. Every team is different. Everybody has a different weak link. So whoever has the weakest link, wherever it is, that's where I want to be."
Just so long as it's on the field.
Houston spent a lot of time on the sideline the last few years as a career that once seemed destined for the Hall of Fame was slowed by injuries. He piled up 22 sacks in 2014, a half-sack shy of the single-season NFL record, and was rewarded with a $101 million [url=http://www.texanscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-ibraheim-campbell-jersey]Ibraheim Campbell Jersey[/url] , six-year contract that made him one of the highest-paid defensive players in the league.
But after playing well the first 11 games the following season, Houston hyperextended his knee in Week 12, and what seemed like a relatively benign injury had lasting ramifications.
He tried to return in the playoffs but was ineffective in a win over Houston and a divisional loss to New England. And that hyperextended knee turned out to reveal a "non-functioning" ligament, causing Houston to undergo serious knee surgery in February 2016.
He wound up missing the first nine games that season, and after appearing in a handful midway through the year, was shut down until the playoffs. The Chiefs had hoped Houston would be able to help them when it mattered, but he was again ineffective in a playoff loss to Pittsburgh.
Even last season, when Houston continually professed himself healthy, he never appeared to be going full speed. He was listed as questionable on the injury report twice because of his knee, and he finished the season with 9陆 sacks in 15 regular-season games.
It wasn't until training camp, a few weeks back, that he acknowledged "playing on one leg."
"When you have surgery, and the surgery I had on my knee [url=http://www.bengalscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-cedric-ogbuehi-jersey]Cedric Ogbuehi Jersey[/url] , it takes time," Houston said. "As much as you want to be ready, it still takes time to get your pop back and get where you want to be. I think I'm there. I think I'm beyond there right now and it feels great to be back in that feeling."
His fellow linebackers have noticed, too.
"Justin, he's starting to really go back to that 22-sack guy, so we have an opportunity to be one of the best (pass-rushing groups) in the league," Dee Ford said. "People don't understand how bad his injury was and how he also tried to play, and he tried to come back too fast, and he's not an excuse guy and you got to really respect that."
One could argue that nobody is more crucial to the Chiefs' defense than Houston, given the way the defense has been overhauled. Longtime pass rusher Tamba Hali is gone, and Ford has dealt with his share of injuries, resulting in a precipitous drop in sacks the past couple of years.
"Would you love to have a million sacks? Yeah, I would love that. But the biggest thing is always affecting the quarterback," Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said. "Obviously you can affect his timing. You don't have to sack him. But as long as you are moving him, and making him get off that spot a little bit, then you can affect him."
Houston should be able to help now that's moving around more.
Both on his knee and all over the field.
NOTES: OLs Cam Erving (knee) and Eric Fisher (shoulder) left Thursday's practice with "tweaks," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. Mitchell Schwartz moved from RT to LT, Andrew Wylie took over at RT and Bryan Witzmann took over at LG. ... The Chiefs are off Friday before resuming camp on Saturday.
That made him perhaps the best-rested player when the teams returned to the field barely 12 hours later. And it showed.
Urena and three relievers combined on a four-hitter and the Marlins bounced back from their marathon loss to beat Tampa Bay 3-0.
J.T. Riddle singled, tripled and homered.
”There is a little bit of a hangover. I’m not going to lie,” Riddle said. ”You play 16 innings like that, and you come in eight hours later and have to play again, the body doesn’t feel the greatest. But it’s part of your job.”
While both teams were dragging, Urena looked fresh in his first outing since June 20, when he was sidelined by right shoulder impingement. He pitched five scoreless innings and struck out six before departing for a pinch hitter after throwing 78 pitches.
”Everything was good,” Urena said. ”I felt I could go longer, but I haven’t thrown that much the past 12 or 13 days.”
Drew Rucinski (4-1) pitched two scoreless innings for his second win in the series. Brad Ziegler pitched around a walk in the ninth to earn his 10th save.
The Marlins took the series and went 5-5 on their longest homestand of the year. The Rays lost for only the third time in the past 12 games.
Riddle’s RBI triple in the sixth put the Marlins ahead. The ball appeared catchable, but sailed over the head of center fielder Kevin Kiermaier near the wall.
Riddle added his fifth homer in the eighth.
Three Rays – Kiermaier, Daniel Robertson and Jake Bauers – started after playing all 16 innings Tuesday. They went a combined 0 for 11.
”Urena pitched well,” manager Kevin Cash said. ”He kind of changed his approach a little bit, started throwing fastballs in to the lefties and away to the righties. That has generally not been his M.O.”
”He squared it up pretty good, it sounded like,” Riddle said.
Gomez then punched another cooler, which sent cups flying over the dugout railing.
Despite all that solid contact, Gomez is batting only .195.
”When I’m angry, I’m not thinking really well,” he said. ”If they fine for me this, I’ve got enough money to pay.”
Gomez said he was upset because he was hit by a pitch during the at-bat, and the umpire blew the call. He was jeered in subsequent at-bats by the crowd of 7,572.
UP AND DOWN
After using nine pitchers Tuesday, the Rays called up right-hander Ryan Weber from Triple-A Durham as reinforcement. Weber (0-1) allowed two runs in five innings and was optioned after the game back to Durham.
”I knew I was coming up to get the team innings, and that’s what I did,” Weber said. ”I kept the pitch count low so they could keep running me back out there. That’s all I could have asked for.”
Rays: RHP Chris Archer (left abdominal strain) felt fine after a rehab start and could rejoin the rotation as early as Monday against the Tigers. … LHP Vidal Nuno (right hamstring strain), who earned the victory Tuesday and contributed two hits before he was hurt, went on the 10-day disabled list. … RH Wilmer Font (right lat strain) was transferred to the 60-day DL.
Marlins: OF Lewis Brinson (left hip inflammation) [url=http://www.jaguarscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-marcell-dareus-jersey]Marcell Dareus Jersey[/url] , batting only .186, was placed on the 10-day disabled list. … 3B Martin Prado (left hamstring) and 1B-OF Garrett Cooper (bruised right wrist) are expected to be activated for the upcoming series at Washington. … Miami recalled LHP Dillon Peters from Triple-A New Orleans.
Rays: Following a day off, the Rays play a three-game series at the Mets, with RHP Ryne Stanek (1-2, 1.98) expected to start.
Marlins: RHP Pablo Lopez (1-0, 3.00), who beat the Mets in his major league debut Saturday, is scheduled to start Thursday when Miami opens a four-game series at the Nationals.
Miami is 6-16 against Washington since the start of 2017.
”We’ve had our trouble with those guys,” manager Don Mattingly said. ”They’ve beat us up pretty good the last couple of years.”
Even the owner of the Kansas City Chiefs is excited to see what Patrick Mahomes II can do.
Clark Hunt doesn't seem worried about putting too much pressure on his young quarterback, either.
The chairman and most visible face of the ownership family said after Saturday's training camp session at Missouri Western State University that he's looking forward to seeing Mahomes under center when the Chiefs open their preseason schedule Thursday night against Houston.
He's is eager for what the second-year pro can do for seasons to come, too.
"There's a lot of excitement here in Kansas City and really around the country about Patrick. He is a young man with a lot of skills, has a very high ceiling," Hunt said. "He's going through the process in learning what it means to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. That learning process will continue during the preseason and I'm sure once we get to the regular season."
Mahomes is taking over on a full-time basis from Alex Smith, who was traded to Washington despite the best year of his career. And the fact that Kansas City is pinning its hopes on its first homegrown quarterback in a generation has energized an already fervent fan base.
"It's very exciting for the franchise from a long-term perspective," Hunt said. "If you can develop your own quarterback who can play at the top of the league, you can create an opportunity over the course of a decade to win a championship, and that's what we hope Patrick does for us."
No pressure, kid.
Hunt has also noticed what many others have this offseason: Chiefs coach Andy Reid has an extra bounce in his step, a byproduct of the fun he's having working with a new, young quarterback.
"I know that's a hard thing to imagine when you're talking about Andy," Hunt said in his annual training camp availability, "but truthfully he seems energized. And that goes all the way back to the preseason, the chance to take a quarterback and mold him, something he's had a lot of success at."
In other news, Hunt declined to discuss the dispute between the league and its players when it comes to protesting during the national anthem. "There's really nothing to report," Hunt said. "Until the league tells us what the policy is, there's nothing really to talk about."
Hunt did say he's spoken to the Chiefs individually and collectively about social justice initiatives, and that the organization was willing to provide human resources and financial resources to help players make a difference with causes that they care about.
"That's not something new for the Chiefs. It's something that's been going on here in Kansas City since my dad brought the team here in 1963 [url=http://www.billscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-micah-hyde-jersey]Micah Hyde Jersey[/url] ," Hunt said. "I've challenged the players to go out there and make a difference, and there's so many that have a great heart and want to spend the time."
Hunt also said the Chiefs are content with using Missouri Western as their training camp base, even though the majority of NFL franchises now hold camp at their usual practice facility.
Hunt and Reid both like the old-school idea of team-building that occurs at camp, even though it's only an hours' drive from Kansas City. Missouri Western has also built and improved its facilities to the point they rival most major colleges and professional franchises.
He also praised the work done by general manager Brett Veach, who has made several controversial moves since taking over last year. Among them was dealing talented but temperamental cornerback Marcus Peters to the Rams, a clear attempt at improving the clubhouse culture.
"One thing we really care about as a franchise is the culture and character of the team," Hunt said. "That's something very important to Brett. As he brought in players in free agency and the draft, he made sure those players would be positive contributors to the character of the football team."
NOTES: OLs Cam Erving (knee) and Eric Fisher (shoulder) did not practice, nor did LBs Reggie Ragland (knee) and Anthony Hitchens (hamstring). None of the injuries to the four starters is thought to be serious. ... CB Keith Reaser (quad), LB Tanoh Kpassagnon (heel) and FS Leon McQuay (hamstring) were limited in practice. It's unclear if any will play in the preseason opener.
The Dallas Cowboys have offered a second-round tender worth $2.9 million to defensive end David Irving.
The one-year offer on the opening day of free agency Wednesday means the Cowboys will get a second-round pick if another team signs Irving. Dallas can also match any offer.
Irving was suspended the first four games last season for violating the NFL's ban on performance enhancers and missed the last four with a concussion. In between [url=http://www.coltscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-jack-mewhort-jersey]Jack Mewhort Jersey[/url] , he had seven sacks in eight games, second on the team behind Pro Bowl selection DeMarcus Lawrence.
The Cowboys signed Irving off Kansas City's practice squad in 2015. The 24-year-old has 11 sacks over three seasons in Dallas.
Zay Jones is with family and is going to be fine, the Buffalo Bills receiver’s father said Wednesday, two days after his son was arrested following a naked, bloody argument with his brother.
Robert Jones posted a note on his Twitter account saying Jones ”is with me and his mom,” while adding ”he’s going to be fine!”
The 22-year-old Jones was arrested after officers were called to a disturbance in downtown Los Angeles, said police spokesman Luis Garcia. Jones was found ”breaking glass doors and windows” and arrested on suspicion of felony vandalism, Garcia said.
Prosecutors did not immediately file a case against Jones and have asked police to further investigate the matter, district attorney’s office spokesman Paul Eakins said.
The arrest was first reported by TMZ, which posted a video showing a nude Zay Jones pushing his brother [url=http://www.texanscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-justin-reid-jersey]Justin Reid Jersey[/url] , Cayleb, in what appeared to be the hallway of an apartment building. Cayleb Jones, a Minnesota Vikings receiver, on Wednesday also posted a note on his Twitter account, which read: ”I am my brothers keeper.”
Jones was the first of Buffalo’s two second-round picks in 2017 after completing a prolific college career at East Carolina. He set an FBS record with 399 career catches and broke the single-season reception mark with 158 catches in his final season.
The production didn’t carry over into Jones’ rookie season as he struggled in attempting to take over the Bills’ No. 2 receiver spot. He finished tied for third on the team with 27 catches and fourth with 316 yards. He also scored two touchdowns.
Jones’ production tailed off over the final month, when he had just two catches for 25 yards. Following the season, Jones revealed he played part of the year with a torn labrum and had surgery to repair the injury in January.
The NFL players' union has filed a non-injury grievance on behalf of free agent safety Eric Reid.
The NFLPA cites one team appearing "to have based its decision not to sign a player based on the player's statement that he would challenge the implementation of a club's policy prohibiting demonstration" during the national anthem.
The union also says "at least one club owner has asked pre-employment interview questions about a player's intent to demonstrate. We believe these questions are improper, given league policy."
That team reportedly is the Cincinnati Bengals.
Considered one of the top safeties in the league, Reid played out his contract with San Francisco last season. He has been a strong supporter of former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who in 2016 became the first player to kneel during the anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequality.
Kaepernick wasn't signed for the 2017 season following his release in San Francisco. Reid continued the quarterback's protests.
Reid last week filed a collusion claim similar to one filed by Kaepernick last year. The union announced Monday that it filed its grievance and was seeking an arbitrator to hear the case.
Kaepernick deposed several league owners and executives, including Commissioner Roger Goodell, in his grievance. Reid is using the same attorneys as Kaepernick.
When NFL owners met in March, they didn't hold lengthy discussions on anthem protocol. But they are expected to do so at their spring meetings in Atlanta on May 21-22.
In March, Goodell was asked about Reid, one of the better players at his position in the NFL, not having a job.
"I've said this repeatedly to you: The 32 teams make individual decisions on the players who are going to best help their franchises [url=http://www.ramscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-michael-brockers-jersey]Michael Brockers Jersey[/url] ," Goodell said. "Those are decisions they have to make. They do that every day in the best interest of winning. Teams make those decisions. I'm not directly involved with that."
Last month, Kaepernick praised Reid for continuing to make a stand for social justice when the quarterback was presented an Amnesty International award in Amsterdam.
"Eric introducing me for this prestigious award brings me great joy," Kaepernick said. "But I am also pained by the fact that his taking a knee, and demonstrating courage to protect the rights of black and brown people in America, has also led to his ostracization from the NFL when he is widely recognized as one of the best competitors in the game and in the prime of his career."
The Denver Nuggets have stopped scoreboard watching and suddenly started winning.
A novel concept, with coach Michael Malone posting the standings on the board for basically the last time after a loss in Toronto. Since then, they’ve won four straight to make things interesting down the stretch.
Jamal Murray had 22 points to lead six Denver players in double figures, Nikola Jokic sealed the game with a late tip-in and the Nuggets beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 100-96 on Thursday night in a pivotal matchup between teams vying for a playoff spot.
The victory moved Denver (44-35) into a tie, record-wise, with Minnesota for the eighth spot with three games remaining. Both are a half-game behind New Orleans.
”Prior to the winning streak [url=http://www.billscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-tremaine-edmunds-jersey]Tremaine Edmunds Jersey[/url] , I think we were (looking at the standings) and putting too much pressure on ourselves,” Paul Millsap said. ”We’re just back to ourselves and playing basketball. On nights we’re not shooting well, we’re still playing and still having fun.”
Jokic finished with 16 points and 14 rebounds, while reserve Devin Harris added 20 points for the Nuggets. The playoff jockeying between these two teams could go down to the wire with Minnesota hosting Denver in the regular season finale Wednesday.
”We knew this was a big one coming in,” Denver’s Mason Plumlee said. ”But as big as this is, we have to forget about it.”
Karl-Anthony Towns had 26 points and grabbed 13 rebounds before fouling out with 1:46 remaining.
Up 98-96 with 6.6 seconds left, Will Barton took a shot that bounced off the rim and in Jokic’s direction, and he batted it in with 4.3 seconds on the clock to wrap up the win. Jokic was an uncharacteristic 6 of 20 from the field.
”Joker couldn’t make a shot to save his life,” Murray joked. ”Comes in and gets a tip-in. That’s what he does. That’s who he is, man.”
Minnesota had a familiar face available and sitting on the bench in Jimmy Butler [url=http://www.broncoscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-chad-kelly-jersey]Chad Kelly Jersey[/url] , but he didn’t get into the game. Butler has been out since suffering a right knee injury on Feb. 23 at Houston. The Wolves are 8-9 since Butler was sidelined.
”So just taking everything into consideration, we just thought it was best to wait another day,” Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau said.
This game featured quite a showdown between two elite big men in Towns and Jokic. They pushed and shoved each other around before Towns fouled out with 1:46 remaining while trying to cover Murray on the perimeter.
”You want to be out there, you want to be helping the team,” Towns said. ”You just got to find ways to win regardless of the situation.”
No time for looking back, though.
”We can’t take back what happened tonight,” Towns said. ”There’s no time to weep.”
Timberwolves: G Jeff Teague (knee) was back after missing a game and scored 15 points. Derrick Rose (ankle) had four. … Towns earned his 65th double-double of the season.
Nuggets: G Gary Harris missed a 10th straight game with a strained right knee. ”Longer than I think anybody anticipated,” Malone said. ”Just not where it needs to be for him to come back.” … Jokic had nine assists.
Towns momentarily stayed down early in the third after taking an elbow to the face from Millsap. Towns remained in the game.
Moments later, Murray took an accidental hand to the face from Towns while trying to grab a rebound. Murray hit the floor before slowly getting back up.
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In his pregame chat, Malone said he didn’t buy that Butler would sit out despite being listed as doubtful.
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