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: 12.9.2018, 5:50
: 18.9.2018, 21:29
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12 2018
After months of questions about the health of his heart sent him tumbling down the draft board until being taken by the Oakland Raiders in the fifth round Lorenzo Alexander Jersey , Maurice Hurst was happy to get on the practice field and turn the conversation to football. Hurst took part in his first practice as a pro Friday when the Raiders opened their rookie minicamp with three promising pass rushers they hope can bolster their defense.

Just trying to get all of that stuff behind me, try to get people to stop talking about it, Hurst said. You know, some sort of issue or all of those kinds of things just try to move past that and focus on playing football and just having fun out there.

Hurst was one of the most productive defensive players in the country last season at Michigan. He had 5 sacks as an interior rusher and led all nose tackles and defensive tackles with 49 total quarterback pressures, according to Pro Football Focus.

Hurst was sent home from the combine after a heart issue was detected. Hurst said it was something he has dealt with for a long time and hadnt impacted him on the field. He said he has been cleared by doctors at Harvard and Michigan but that didnt prevent every team passing on a player projected as a first-rounder until the Raiders got him at 140th overall.

Im not going to answer any more health questions on Hurst, coach Jon Gruden said. I realize there are a lot of ghost stories out there about unnamed sources that have their opinion on why we shouldnt have drafted him. This man played at Michigan. I know the head coach there. Theyve looked after him carefully. Were happy to have him in any round, and Im excited for him and Im really excited for him because hes an Oakland Raider and hes a great kid. I hope you just judge him on the field. Hes been cleared medically and Ill just leave it at that.

The additions of Hurst, second-round defensive tackle P.J. Hall and third-round defensive end Arden Key give the Raiders help on a defensive front that has ranked near the bottom of the NFL in sacks in recent years despite the presence of edge rushers Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin.

The Raiders have the second fewest sacks in the NFL the past two seasons with just 56 one more than the last-place New York Jets. Nearly two-thirds of those sacks have come from Mack (21 1/2) and Irvin (15), as the edge players have gotten almost no help from the inside rushers.

It was a major priority, Gruden said. Its a commodity thats hard to find. Ive heard a lot of critics have talked about the risk involved. There is risk involved with every pick.

While Hurst faced questions about his health, Hall and Key had other concerns.

Hall had 42 sacks and 86 1/2 tackles for loss in his college career, but that came at the FCS level for Sam Houston State instead of against top-flight competition.

Gruden called Hall and Hurst the top two interior rushers in the draft Justin Hardy Jersey , a position of major need after Oakland had just 1 1/2 sacks last year from players playing inside full-time.

Key proved himself at the highest level of college football for LSU in the SEC. He had 11 sacks in 2016 and 20 overall in three seasons in college, but he has had off-field problems and checked himself into rehab last spring.

If Oakland can get production out of those three players, that should go a long way in improving a defense that has been a weakness for the team in recent years.

We all work together, Key said. We have edge rushers that can get to the quarterback and the quarterback steps up. Inside guys get the sack. We have inside guys that get to the quarterback and make the quarterback roll out, the edge rushers get the sack. So we all work together.

NOTES: Fourth-round pick CB Nick Nelson sat out as he heals from a knee injury. The Raiders signed undrafted TE Marcus Baugh, WR Saeed Blacknall, LB Jason Cabinda, C Alex Officer, K Eddy Pineiro and FB Nick Sharga.

Several signings and one big trade drastically shifted the balance of power across the NHL in a matter of days.

With John Tavares going home to Toronto, Paul Stastny leaving Winnipeg for Vegas, St. Louis signing three free agents and trading for Ryan OReilly, the landscape of the league has changed. The Washington Capitals are bringing back a vast majority of their team Nico Siragusa Jersey , the Western Conference is loaded and yet the Maple Leafs now appear to be Stanley Cup favorites after adding Tavares.

Hes one of the best players in the league, Tampa Bay general manager Steve Yzerman said. And I think its obvious to say that Toronto is a better team today with that acquisition.

Tavares decision to leave the New York Islanders knocks them out of contender status and puts a whole lot of pressure on coach Mike Babcocks Maple Leafs to make a deep playoff run. Losing out on Tavares despite reportedly offering more money than the Maple Leafs $77 million over 11 years kept the Sharks from moving into front-runner status in the West but they may not be done yet.

We pride ourselves on being able to take a swing on difference makers like this, San Jose GM Doug Wilson said. John was the one that we wanted to swing at.

The Sharks, who extended Logan Couture and re-signed Joe Thornton and Tomas Hertl to keep their core together, have plenty of tradable assets and will keep swinging for a difference-maker. One is off the market following the Blues trade for OReilly that now gives them a potent 1-2-3 punch down the middle with Brayden Schenn and free agent signing Tyler Bozak.

OReilly saw the Blues sign Bozak to a $15 million, three-year contract and wondered if there wasnt room for him anymore. Now they have centers to match up with just about any opponent in the league.

You look at all the teams that have success, they definitely have guys down the middle that compete, OReilly said Monday. And Im thrilled to be a part of that.

The Capitals boasted depth with Evgeny Kuznetsov, Nicklas Backstrom and Lars Eller during their Cup run, and Babcock can now roll out Tavares, Auston Matthews and Nazem Kadri. Vegas lost talent on the wing with David Perron going to St. Louis and James Neal signing with Calgary but now has a very competitive center corps led by Stastny, William Karlsson and Erik Haula.

We do like having centers Junior Seau Jersey , Golden Knights GM George McPhee said. You can move centers around the lineup, you can have centers on the wing. You cant get wingers to play center.

Heres a look at where a few more teams stand early in the preparations for the 2018-19 season:


LIGHTNING: Signing Tavares wouldve been a luxury and mightve necessitated a roster makeover just to fit him under the salary cap. Tampa Bay signed restricted free agent forward J.T. Miller to a long term deal, extended defenseman Ryan McDonagh, got a deal done with Slater Koekkoek and should have much of the same team that won the Atlantic Division last season.

We try to improve our team, Yzerman said. I dont sense that we have a need to change just to change.

FLAMES: Inking Neal to a $28.75 million, five-year contract would be a nice capper to the Flames offseason that began with acquiring center Elias Lindholm and defenseman Noah Hanifin from Carolina. New coach Bill Peters could put Neal or Lindholm on right wing with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan.

GM Brad Trelivings final tasks this offseason are to find a backup goaltender to Mike Smith and sign restricted free agents Lindholm and Hanifin to new contracts.

KINGS: Long-term , signing franchise defenseman Drew Doughty to an $88 million, eight-year extension is the most important thing Los Angeles did. In the shorter term, it also won the competition for returning Russian winger Ilya Kovalchuk, who GM Rob Blake believes can play with either top-six center, Anze Kopitar or Jeff Carter, and produce at age 35.

That scoring-type winger was something that we needed to add Paul Hornung Jersey , Blake said. Where he plays on the power play and the way he scores goals with his shot I think is something weve coveted or looked for.


SENATORS: They traded Mike Hoffman, bought out Alexandre Burrows but still have at least one big problem with the future of Norris Trophy-winning defenseman Erik Karlsson. The Senators have reportedly given Karlssons camp permission to speak with other teams about a contract which is expected to look a whole lot like Doughtys deal which would open to door to Ottawa trading its captain rather than losing him for nothing like the Islanders did when Tavares wouldnt sign early.

We start Oct. 4, GM Pierre Dorion said Sunday in Ottawa. Weve got lots of time.

OILERS: Connor McDavid won the scoring title and the Ted Lindsay award as the players choice for most outstanding player, and yet Edmonton missed the playoffs by 17 points. GM Peter Chiarelli publicly dangled the 10th pick in the draft to try to get an offensive defenseman and hasnt been able to acquire one yet.

Meanwhile, left wing Milan Lucic is 30, coming off a 34-point dud of a season and still has five years left on his contract at a $6 million annual cap hit. Lucics name has come up in trade talks, but moving him now wont be easy, so the Oilers have to prepare for life with him next season.

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12 2018
One of the biggest busts in recent draft history is getting another shot. In Cleveland.

Greg Robinson Garry Gilliam Jersey , the second overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft, has signed with the Browns. To make room for Robinson on the 90-player roster, the Browns cut offensive tackle Rod Johnson, a 2017 fifth-round pick who spent his rookie year on injured reserve.

An offensive tackle from Auburn, Robinson was viewed as a big-time prospect when the Rams chose him in 2014. But although he was a starter for three years with the Rams, he never developed into the kind of player they hoped he would be.

A year ago the Rams traded Robinson to the Lions, who started him for six games early in the year but waived him midway through the season. He cleared waivers and hasnt been with an NFL team since.

Now Robinson will try to make the Browns roster. If he doesnt, his NFL career may be over.

The Minnesota Timberwolves used the draft to add a pair of players possessing the skills they want for the wing positions. Even if Josh Okogie and Keita Bates-Diop prove they are capable right away of a place in the rotation Bobby Hebert Jersey , though, there is a question about how much they will actually play as rookies. This is, after all, the team run by Tom Thibodeau, who is as likely to prefer experience over potential as any head coach in the NBA.

Practices are important. Playing time is based on performance. You earn that, Thibodeau said. Thats not just something that is given to you.

Okogie and Bates-Diop, during their introduction at a news conference Tuesday, sounded like they understand the climb they face. All five starters for the Wolves last season averaged 33 minutes per game or more and ranked among the top 36 most-used players in the league Melvin Gordon Jersey , with Jimmy Butler third and Andrew Wiggins ninth.

Everybody wants to play a lot as a rookie, but that comes with trust and learning the system and being productive out there, said Bates-Diop, the Big Ten Player of the Year award winner at Ohio State last season who dropped into Minnesotas lap with the 48th overall pick in the second round after most projections pegged him much higher on the board.

Okogie, who was selected 20th overall out of Georgia Tech, also expressed a willingness to accept the no-nonsense, tough-love supervision that comes with playing for Thibodeau.

Im definitely comfortable with it, Okogie said. Ive never really had a coach who wasnt hard on me.

Both players will go through an adjustment phase with their offensive game Keith Tandy Jersey , beginning with the longer 3-point shot. Bates-Diop led the Big Ten in scoring (19.8 points per game) and Okogie was fourth in the ACC (17.9 points per game), though, so theyre not coming to the league without any shooting prowess. Theyre not one-and-done prospects, either. Okogie will be 20 before the season starts, and Bates-Diop will turn 23 in January, just two months after Wolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns.

What will help them the most toward working their way onto the court is the athleticism, tenacity and versatility theyve exhibited while playing defense. Thats at the top of reasons Thibodeau and the front office targeted these two, enamored by a high leap and a long reach that makes switching from a 6-foot-4 classic shooting guard to a 6-foot-10 stretch power forward doable. Bates-Diop and Okogie were two of the four non-post players with a wingspan of 7 feet or more at the NBA scouting combine last month.

You can kind of be in two places at once Jerry Hughes Jersey , Okogie said.

The other factor in their favor? The roster. Butler and Wiggins dont currently have any backups in place, with Jamal Crawfords decision to opt out of his contract and become a free agent. Theres nobody else who played on the wing last season who is under contract entering the start of free agency this weekend.

So just how important is it for a rookie to play right away?

I think its important, Okogie said. Is it the most important thing? Probably not. But if I was given a chance to produce and to help this team win nothing would give me more joy than that. So hopefully it happens, and Ill work and do everything in my power to make it happen.

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12 2018
Oscar Robertson commends the off-court activism of todays NBA players K'Waun Williams Jersey , although the Hall of Famer wonders why more white athletes arent speaking out, too. Robertson received the Lifetime Achievement Award from presenters Charles Barkley and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at the NBA Awards on Monday night.

Robertson is the career leader in triple-doubles and was the first player to average one for a season. His antitrust case against the NBA also ushered in free agency for players, which Robertson said was his most important assist.

The 79-year-old former guard who starred at Crispus Attucks High in Indianapolis and in college at Cincinnati before going to the NBA said its time for players to speak out about politics and education, among other issues.

But the only thing that really bothers me is where are the white athletes when this is happening? he said backstage. This is not a black athlete problem. You see injustice in the world. Its all around you.

Robertsons high school and college career was plagued by racism.

But it seems that what we have today is a system where you dont want players to say anything at all, he said. Because years ago they didnt say anything because they couldnt say anything. But now I hope they all, the whites and the blacks get together. Even with the football.

Robertson was referring to NFL players who have taken a knee or sat in silence during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequality.

What do you think is going to happen when the union gets involved with the owners? he said You think its going to be settled really easily? No, its not. Its going to be nothing but a total mess.

The four-week stretch from the middle of June to the middle of July gives NFL coaches a rare opportunity to get away from it all. To relax, to unwind. To not worry.

For some coaches, good luck with the last part. History has proven time and again that as many of one in four NFL coaches wont be NFL coaches six months after the start of training camp. Every year, theres a list of coaches regarded as being on the hot seat as the season approaches.

And in more and more jurisdictions, bettors will be able to put money on which coach will be the first to have his supply of money cut off (pending a buyout).

Heres the list, with Browns coach Hue Jackson as the favorite at +350. Next is Dolphins coach Adam Gase at +750, followed by Bengals coach Marvin Lewis at +1000, Broncos coach Vance Joseph at +1000 Jared Cook Jersey , Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter at +1200 (those were pre-Jameis Winston suspension odds), Washington coach Jay Gruden at +1200, Jets coach Todd Bowles at +1600, Texans coach Bill OBrien at +2000, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett at +2500, Ravens coach John Harbaugh at +2800, Raiders coach Jon Gruden at +2800, and Seahawks coach Pete Carroll at +2800.

And this is where well likely carve out a niche of sorts in this new world of sports wagering. On a game-by-game basis, when the bounce of the ball, the gust of wind, a bad decision at the worst possible time, or a flaw in game-planning can change things dramatically, its too hard to know what will happen with any degree of certainty. When it comes to big-picture, full-season propositions Nick Nelson Jersey , however, thats a different story.

On those bets, the feel that comes from following the NFL every waking moment of every day will be very beneficial. And as it relates to this specific proposition, here are the bets to avoid, and the bets to consider.

Dont waste your money betting on OBrien, Harbaugh, Jon Gruden, or Pete Carroll being the first to be fired. OBrien has a new contract, Harbaugh most likely will be permitted to finish the season, barring a complete and total disaster (which isnt likely), Jon Gruden is just starting a 10-year contract that would have a hefty buyout, and Carrolls Seahawks likely will be better than most expect.

The smart money would be placed on Vance Joseph or Jay Gruden. Joseph avoided (perhaps narrowly) a termination after only one year on the job, with a team that seemed to be easily broken within the confines of a given game. (Remember when G.M. John Elway called the team soft?) If things dont turn around quickly in 2018, 聽Elway may feel compelled to shake things up. And he may decide that he made the wrong decision after 2017.

In Washington Aaron Burbridge Jersey , theres plenty of pressure on the entire organization, and plenty of indications that the team will be battling at best for the basement. The Eagles will continue to be very good (most likely), the Cowboys should be better, and the Giants cant be much worse (and probably will be much better). If Washington falls behind its three arch rivals, owner Daniel Snyder could decide that the time has come to move on.

Gase is a surprise at +750, and thats another bet to avoid. He took the team to the playoffs in 2016, and he navigated a season of endless turmoil in 2017. The many doubters will serve only to strengthen the resolve of Gase and his team, which likely will be more of a team than it was given the departures of possibly-not-team-first players like Jarvis Landry, Ndamukong Suh, and Mike Pouncey.

Heres one more to avoid: Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, for a couple of reasons. First, they wont be as bad as many expect. Second, owner Mike Brown doesnt like to pay people to not work. So if a firing comes, it likely wont happen during the season barring the kind of meltdown that just isnt likely given the talent on the roster.

And heres one to watch John Matuszak Jersey , given the long odds (and potentially great payoff): Cowboys coach Jason Garrett. Although owner Jerry Jones prefers a coach who wont try to steal the spotlight, Garrett is running out of chances to prove Jones right for being so patient with the offensive coordinator who succeeded Wade Phillips during the 2010 season, after Jones made it clear that he wouldnt be firing Wade Phillips during the 2010 season.

If the Cowboys stumble out of the gates, if they are outcoached a time or two (e.g., six sacks registered by one player with no in-game adjustments), and if Jerry catches a wild hair as a Week Eight bye approaches (the first seven weeks of the schedule will be no picnic), Garrett could be the first one to go. And at $2500 for every $100 wagered, that would be a nice way to turn Garretts negative into something positive.

All that said, no one ever knows whats going to happen. But its a heck of a lot easier to predict moves like these over what will happen on any given Sunday, Monday, or Thursday.

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12 2018
The Buffalo Bills took the first step in restocking their quarterback position by agreeing to a two-year contract with A.J. McCarron. The 27-year-old spent the past four seasons backing up Andy Dalton in Cincinnati after being selected by the Bengals in the fifth round of the 2014 draft.

McCarron's signing on Wednesday came a few hours after the NFL's free-agency period opened Frank Gore Jersey , and five days after Buffalo traded three-year starter Tyrod Taylor to Cleveland. The trade left 2017 fifth-round pick Nathan Peterman as the only quarterback on Buffalo's roster.

General manager Brandon Beane said he intended to add a veteran quarterback this offseason to provide experience.

With two picks in each of the first three rounds of the draft, Buffalo also is expected to target one of the highly touted quarterback prospects.

McCarron was a two-time national champion at Alabama but appeared in just 11 games in Cincinnati, mostly in mop-up duties. McCarron did start the final three games of the 2015 season and led the Bengals to the playoffs after Dalton broke his thumb.

Against Pittsburgh in the wild-card playoff game, McCarron had the Bengals in position to win their first playoff game since the 1990 season. Jeremy Hill however lost a fumble, and penalties on Vontaze Burfict and Adam "Pacman" Jones set up the Steelers for a winning field goal in the final seconds.

Though he missed his rookie season because of a sore passing shoulder Charles Harris Jersey , McCarron was allowed to become an unrestricted free agent after an independent arbitrator ruling last month. McCarron was also nearly traded to Cleveland last season, but the deal fell through after the Browns failed to submit the paperwork on time.

The Bengals agreed to a one-year deal with often-injured tight end Tyler Eifert and a three-year deal with punter Kevin Huber on Thursday, holding onto two of their unrestricted free agents. Eifert has been hurt during much of his five-year career in Cincinnati. He was sidelined for half of the 2016 season because of an ankle injury and a problem with a disc in his back that required surgery. He aggravated his back early last season and went on an injury list after two games.

"Couldn't be happier to stay home in Cincinnati," Eifert tweeted . "The last five years have been tough at times but every day I have been proud to be on the @Bengals."

The Bengals took Eifert with the 21st overall choice in the 2013 draft, hoping his pass receiving skills would upgrade their offense. He's been one of Andy Dalton's favorite targets Tim Williams Jersey , especially near the goal line, but has been severely limited by injuries in three of his five seasons.

The Bengals finished last in the NFL in offense last season for the first time in their history.

Eifert caught 39 passes for 445 yards and two touchdowns in 15 games as a rookie. The following year, he hurt his shoulder during training camp and dislocated an elbow in the opener, ending his season. He returned and had his best season in 2015, caching 52 passes for 615 yards and 13 touchdowns Chris Jones Jersey , a franchise record for a tight end.

He made the Pro Bowl that season and tore a ligament in his ankle during the game, requiring surgery. He returned and played in eight games in 2016, making 29 catches for 394 yards and five touchdowns, but an injured back disc ended the season and resulted in more surgery.

Huber has spent all 10 seasons with Cincinnati. He had 32 punts inside the 20-yard line last season, fourth in the NFL.

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12 2018
Falcons coach Dan Quinn had good reason not to worry about Julio Jones showing up for training camp. Jones told Quinn weeks ago he'd report on time Evan Engram Jersey , even as the wide receiver sought to have his contract renegotiated. A training camp holdout appeared to be Jones' best path to a new deal.

Finally, the Falcons announced close to midnight on Wednesday they'd reached an agreement to renegotiate Jones' deal next year. The news came about 16 hours before Thursday's deadline for players to report.

The Falcons open training camp on Friday.

"I probably didn't feel the same stress that you and the fan base had," Quinn said at a news conference on Thursday. "There were some reports regarding him not coming. I'd known he was coming to camp for a while. That's part of good communication, player to coaches."

The Falcons announced Jones reported before Thursday's 4 p.m. deadline.

Quinn said he spoke with Jones earlier this month when the receiver participated in an annual offseason passing camp in California led by quarterback Matt Ryan.

"It was probably during that time that I felt comfortable he was coming to camp," Quinn said.

The reassurance from Jones was especially important after he did not participate in the Falcons' mandatory minicamp in June.

Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff were in good spirits as they discussed how they avoided the potential distraction of a training camp holdout by one of the team's most prominent players.

It has been a good week for the Falcons' leadership team. Quinn and Dimitroff have new three-year contract extensions, which were announced on Wednesday.

Jones, a two-time All-Pro and five-time Pro Bowl selection Muhammad Wilkerson Jersey , wasn't happy that a flurry of new contracts signed by other top NFL wide receivers moved him down the list of top-paid players at the position.

He is entering the third year of his five-year, $71.5 million contract, including $47 million in guaranteed money.

The Falcons managed to make Jones happy with an undisclosed financial "adjustment" without a dramatic change to their salary cap position for 2018. Dimitroff wouldn't reveal details of the new agreement.

The biggest reward for Jones was the assurance the team will rework his contract following the season. That promise was delivered with more than a handshake.

"Papers are written up, sitting on a desk waiting to be signed," Dimitroff said.

The agreement preserves Dimitroff's flexibility in his efforts to negotiate contract extensions for defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, offensive guard Jake Matthews and safety Ricardo Allen.

The Falcons already agreed to a five-year, $150 million extension with quarterback Matt Ryan Amari Cooper Jersey , the most lucrative deal in NFL history, this offseason.

Ryan's contract and talks with players moving closer to free agency left little financial space to make big changes to Jones' deal before 2019.

"We felt like we came to a good agreement," Dimitroff said. "We were very creative with how we put this together."

Dimitroff said talks with Jones' agent, Jimmy Sexton, were "never contentious at all, at least from our perspective."

Jones is expected to talk with reporters on Friday, when the Falcons have their first practice of training camp. He was not seen during the 30-minute period reporters were able to view players reporting to the team's practice facility.

Jones' teammates seemed to have little concern about the status of the team's top receiver.

"Oh Tanoh Kpassagnon Jersey , I don't know what's going on with him," offensive guard Andy Levitre said when asked about the team's agreement with Jones. "He's coming? I'm expecting everybody to be here, I guess."

Added cornerback Brian Poole: "That's exciting. That's definitely exciting. Yeah. That's exciting."

Poole said players don't get involved in teammates' contract talks.

"When it comes to that kind of stuff, everybody kind of worries about himself," Poole said.

But when it comes to Quinn and Dimitroff, having one of the league's top receivers on the practice field is crucial to the team's hopes for a third straight playoff appearance.

"I sleep a hell of a lot better at night," Quinn said.

Johnny Manziel never made it off the sideline in Hamilton's regular-season opener Archie Manning Jersey , looking on as starter Jeremiah Masoli played in the Tiger-Cats' 28-14 loss to the Calgary Stampeders on Saturday night. Manziel is making a comeback with the Canadian Football League team after being released by the Cleveland Browns in March 2016. The 2012 Heisman Trophy winner at Texas A&M was 21 of 32 for 168 yards and a touchdown in two exhibition games.

Masoli was 25 of 36 for 344 yards and a touchdown and also ran for a score. Calgary rallied in the fourth quarter on Bo Levi Mitchell 15-yard touchdown pass to Kamar Jorden, and Don Jackson's 44-yard scoring run.

Hamilton will return to action Friday night at Edmonton.

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7 Jun 2018 - 11:27


: 18.9.2018, 21:29