Tampa Bay Buccaneers

It’s that time again in the NFL season, time to play the “should ____ rest their starters in this meaningless Week 17 game?” Heading into this week, there are exactly two spots remaining for the playoffs, but there’s plenty of work left for seeding. Here’s where it stands.

In the NFC, Dallas is locked into the No. 1 seed. Atlanta and Seattle have won their divisions and are in. With a win Sunday, Atlanta would wrap up the two seed, followed by Seattle, the NFC North winner (Packers or Lions), the Giants in the fifth spot, and a frantic finish for the sixth spot between the loser of the NFC North and Washington, with Tampa having less than a 1 percent chance of making it.

In the AFC, the six spots are secured. Division winners New England, Pittsburgh (third seed), and Houston (fourth seed) are in, as well as Oakland and KC, and Miami. The only drama here is the first seed and the AFC West. If the Patriots win, they are the first seed. The winner of the AFC West will secure the second seed and a first-round bye. If Oakland wins and New England loses, the Raiders get the top seed.

So there are four teams who have the option of resting starters: the Cowboys, Giants, Steelers, and Texans. As usual, with any important decision, there are plenty of factors to take into account. I’ve been a part of two games, one with a team that was resting and another playing against a team resting its starters. I’ll get into my experiences as well.

After a weekend where two starting quarterbacks, Derek Carr and Marcus Mariota, broke their legs, it would scare any team that this could happen to them. However, there is no evidence that injury likelihood goes up in Week 17. Injuries are always a risk and part of the game, but I get where this would be the top factor.

How well the is team functioning on either side of the ball is a harder thing to judge because it’s on a team-by-team basis. If you’ve made the playoffs but are struggling on one side of the ball, getting reps in Week 17 may help correct some issues.

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The Arizona Cardinals have extended general manager Steve Keim and head coach Bruce Arians through the 2018 season, the team announced Monday. Arians had a team option through 2017, and Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic confirmed both Arians and Keim will have a fifth-year option for 2019 in their new deals.

Although the Cardinals didn’t release details on Geoff Cameron Authentic Womens Jersey the contracts, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported that Arians will make $6 million per year.

Arians joined the Cardinals in 2013 and helped them exceed expectations, guiding the team to double-digit wins in both seasons. Keim first joined the organization as a college scout in May 1999 and was promoted to general manager the same offseason the team signed Arians.

The Browns spent the past two days meeting with free agent QB Josh McCown, who was released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers earlier this month. The veteran signal caller instantly became one of the more attractive options in a weak quarterback market, although he was arguably one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL last season. He has also had visits with the Buffalo Bills, New York Jets and Chicago Bears.

McCown went 1-10 as a starter with Tampa Bay in 2014, completing 184 of 327 passes for 2,206 yards, 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. His completion percentage (56.3 percent) and yards per attempt (6.8) both ranked 31st out of 33 qualifying quarterbacks, and only Blake Bortles had a worse passer rating than McCown (70.5) last season.

Despite those ugly numbers, the 35-year-old has had some success in the league. In 2013, he completed 66.5 percent of his passes with 13 touchdowns and one interception in eight games for the Bears, finishing with the best Total QBR (85.1) among quarterbacks with at least 200 attempts. McCown also has ties to Cleveland, starting nine games for the Oakland Raiders in 2007 when new Browns offensive coordinator John DeFilippo Graham Zusi Authentic Womens Jersey was the quarterbacks coach.

The Browns were expected to meet with Hoyer’s representatives last week at the Combine, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, but that meeting apparently has not happened yet. Hoyer’s agent, Joe Linta, told ESPN.com’s Pat McManamon that there is mutual interest between his client and the team in getting together to discuss a potential return to the Browns.

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The strangest U.S. presidential election in recent memory had yet another strange moment on Monday night in New Hampshire when Republican candidate Donald Trump told the crowd that New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady had voted for him, and then Trump read a letter he said was from Patriots coach Bill Belichick in which Belichick praised Trump’s leadership, among other things.

Of course, many were dubious. Belichick took the time to write a letter? And it said things like, “You have dealt with an unbelievable and slanted media and have come out beautifully. You’ve proven to be the ultimate fighter”?

Obama dubbed James “one of the great Tony McDaniel Authentic Jersey players of all time,” but the president also represented perhaps the greatest player of all time, Michael Jordan, and his beloved Chicago Bulls.

“By knocking off the Warriors, the [Cavs] cemented the 1996 Bulls as the greatest team of all time,” Obama said. “So your president thanks you for that.”

ESPN FC’s Adrian Healey, Jeff Carlisle and Tom Marshall assess the tactics of the U.S. and Mexico ahead of their WCQ match.
There are other lineup decisions to be made for the Yanks. Since starting center-back Geoff Cameron is unavailable because of a knee injury he picked up playing for English Premier League side Stoke City, Klinsmann will have to find a partner for the left-footed John Brooks. The leading candidates appear to be Steve Birnbaum and Omar Gonzalez.

Gonzalez plays for Pachuca in Liga MX, but Mexico’s top flight has supplied just 10 players to coach Juan Carlos Osorio’s current roster. But Birnbaum has been ahead of Gonzalez in Klinsmann’s pecking order for most of 2016. And while Birnbaum hasn’t played since Oct. 27, when D.C. United were eliminated from the MLS postseason, he’s done his best to remain in game shape.

“We had a lot of the [D.C.] coaching staff stay behind with me during the last week after we lost in the playoffs,” Birnbaum said. “They kept me fit, and I did some technical work and trained with the academy a little bit, and then I was ready to rock once I got here.”

Elsewhere, in-form Timmy Chandler could replace DeAndre Yedlin at right-back, although that would sacrifice even more of the continuity Klinsmann’s back four built during the summer’s successful Copa America showing. There’s also a chance Klinsmann could opt for Tyler Lockett Authentic Jersey playmaker Sacha Kljestan in the midfield alongside Michael Bradley, at the expense or either Jones or Alejandro Bedoya.

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The White Sox finished fourth in the American League Central with a 78-84 record this past season and haven’t finished above .500 since 2012. Manager Robin Ventura resigned at the end of the season, and Rick Renteria was chosen to replace him.

While a Sale trade would be a clear indication that the White Sox plan to rebuild rather than try to make a playoff push in 2017, Hahn declined to address which way the team might be leaning.

“We have a pretty firm sense internally about what we want to accomplish,” Hahn said. “But I’ve been saying this for months back in Chicago: There’s just not any advantage to us to declare publicly exactly what we’re trying to accomplish.

“Once we start making deals, we’ll explain precisely the rationale behind them. Are we looking to add and compete right now, or are we looking for a more long-term benefit? The last few years, we’ve taken a shorter-term, stopgap type of approach, and obviously that hasn’t borne fruit.”

“Instead of getting loaded down thinking, ‘In this coverage I’m going here, in that coverage I’m going there,’ with so many hybrid players, so many variations of schemes and so much pressure up front and all the things that defenses can do, the way to combat all that is to see spots,” Ryan said.

A lot of people ripped him for that statement. It Devin Taylor Authentic Womens Jersey seemed like a regression or a waving of the white flag — nonsense that a spread quarterback would say. What quarterback reinvents himself by announcing that he no longer reads defenses? But when the season started, and Ryan began to light up opponents at a rate unprecedented in his career, it was clear that this wasn’t a concession at all. It was a breakthrough.

“I’m pretty surprised an old man like me can win the Gold Glove,” said the 37-year-old Beltre, who was thrilled Moreland won as well.

“I think I’m happier for him than for me because for Eric Ebron Authentic Womens Jersey the last couple of years, he has played such a great defensive first base and was never recognized,” Beltre said. “Most of my mistakes are throwing the ball and Mitch has saved me so many errors and makes things look easier for me.”

The 22-year-old Lindor became the first Indians player to win a Gold Glove since outfielder Grady Sizemore in 2008, and their second shortstop after Omar Vizquel won every year from 1994 to 2001.

Votes are submitted in September by managers and coaches who cannot choose their own players. Three years ago, Rawlings added a sabermetric component to the Gold Glove selection process as well.

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Top Rank promoter Bob Arum said newly crowned welterweight world titleholder Manny Pacquiao will “definitely” fight again in the spring and said “I give it 75 percent” that he will face Floyd Mayweather in a rematch.

Pacquiao, elected to the Philippines Senate in May, came out of a brief retirement to handily outpoint Jessie Vargas on Saturday night at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas to regain the welterweight belt he lost to Mayweather by unanimous decision in May 2015 in their record-shattering mega fight that generated a record $600 million in total revenue.

Mayweather so far has remained in the retirement he announced after beating Andre Berto in September 2015, but the signs are there that it may not last much longer. Mayweather showed up with his daughter at ringside Saturday to watch Pacquiao, who invited him to the fight.

Floyd Mayweather was seated Christine Michael Jersey ringside with his daughter for Manny Pacquiao’s welterweight title challenge against Jessie Vargas on Saturday night at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Making the first fight dragged on for a tedious five years of “will they or won’t they.” A second fight wouldn’t take nearly as long to put together if Mayweather wants it, Arum said.

“Floyd came to the fight and he was very Christine Michael Sr Jersey friendly with [Top Rank president] Todd [duBoef] and some of our staff,” Arum told ESPN on Monday. “Now, that doesn’t mean that the fight will happen, but if it does, it won’t take a long time to make because the animosity that was there before the first fight is gone. There’s no more animosity between the camps.”

Arum has since settled a $100 million antitrust lawsuit he filed against Al Haymon, Mayweather’s adviser.

“It was so tense last time, but it won’t be that way now because everyone can get along,” said Arum, who promoted Mayweather for most of his career before they had a falling out that Haymon was in the middle of.

“Like everyone else, I’m guessing there will be a rematch. He did come to the fight,” Arum said. “I give it 75 percent. Do I know it’s gonna happen? No. Do I know if Floyd wants the fight? No. I know nothing more than the public knows at this point and what I observed.”

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SEATTLE — In the days leading up to the Seattle Seahawks’ third preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys, running backs Thomas Rawls and Christine Michael heard from an old friend: Marshawn Lynch.

It was also a vivid depiction of why Peterson, admittedly, has been at odds with running out of the shotgun. He’s been able to build the bulk of his Hall of Fame resume on handoffs from a quarterback under center; Peterson has logged 2,257 such carries in his career, according to ESPN Stats and Information, and has averaged 4.95 yards per attempt, accounting for 11,204 of his yards and 94 of his touchdowns. But when asked to line up next to the quarterback, Superman becomes Clark Kent: Peterson has logged only 115 shotgun carries in his career, for 461 yards and three touchdowns, and his nine pistol attempts — all of which came in his last two full seasons — went for just 10 yards.

Peterson logged a career-high 32 carries out of the shotgun last year, and five more out of the pistol, as the Minnesota Vikings tried to bring him back from his 2014 suspension in an attack that had been adapted to quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s strengths. The team quickly scrapped that plan, though, giving Peterson just 19 shotgun handoffs after Week 2. It wasn’t as if the return to familiar territory didn’t work; Peterson led the league with 1,485 rushing yards, accounting for a greater percentage of his team’s offensive output than any other player in the NFL, and helped the Vikings win the NFC North for the first time since 2009.

Still, after a wild-card playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks, the running back admitted he needed to be more versatile. Traditionally an infrequent participant in organized team activities, Peterson showed up on the first day of OTAs as the Vikings renewed their efforts to improve his compatibility with Bridgewater. And while Peterson won’t play in the preseason again this year, he said Thursday he’s done enough work in the shotgun to get a better feel for the running style — and even come to enjoy it.

“Just being more patient, that’s always been the main thing,” Peterson said. “I’ve been able, I feel, to conquer that now. I feel real comfortable taking runs out of the shotgun, and I’m liking it more. I was always against running out of the shotgun, but now that I’ve kind of switched and tweaked my way of approaching it, things are working out good.

The groin injury Cruz had been dealing with didn’t appear to limit him Tuesday, when he took 18 snaps during live drills and caught a team-high seven passes.

Cruz, 29, has missed most of the past two seasons with knee and calf injuries. He tore the patellar tendon in his right knee on Oct. 12, 2014, against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Beckham continues to reiterate that the goal for Cruz should be the Sept. 11 season opener against the Dallas Cowboys. But the Giants are anxious for Cruz to get on the field, hopefully as soon as this weekend against the Jets.

“It’s important. It’s the game,” coach Ben McAdoo said. “That is what he is looking forward to. That is what we are looking forward to seeing him do.”

McAdoo said last week the Giants still haven’t been able to make an evaluation on him this summer. He’s hoping this week provides some information.

“We’ll find out more [Tuesday] and [Wednesday],” McAdoo said before Tuesday’s practice. “But I’m looking forward to seeing him. It was nice to see him in a uniform in pregame the other day.”

After coming through unscathed Tuesday, the next step is to string together back-to-back practices. Cruz’s legs need to prove they can handle the pounding of football work. Then it’s onto getting through the week and playing in the game. But for one day at least, the Giants were happy with where this situation is headed after years of health struggles.

“It’s great to see Vic back out there,” Beckham said. “He’s been through quite a lot.”

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INDIANAPOLIS — Colts cornerback Vontae Davis is week-to-week with right medial ankle sprain, coach Chuck Pagano announced Monday.

Davis was seen walking out of the locker room with a cast on his right foot. He is coming off back-to-back Pro Bowl appearances.

As for the line, they say they block the same regardless of the runner.

“It’s going to be about him getting in and learning the system and learning the way that other backs do it so it’s uniform across the board,” center Travis Frederick said. “For us, it doesn’t really change. There’s not a ton of back and forth there. But we’re excited to get him back. I think he can bring a lot to the team.”

Just as Elliott and the rest of the rookies have to earn the stars on their helmets, they also have to earn a spot in the new locker room at The Star. The rookies are in a side locker room, out of sight from the rest of the room.

Payton was asked if the team is making a conscious effort to limit expectations with Thomas, who has generated so much buzz this summer.

“No, I’ve got high expectations for him,” Payton quickly responded. “Listen, I think he’s gonna contribute early. I don’t follow fantasy football, but shoot, I’d try to have him. I think he’s gonna do well.”

Payton has tried to keep Thomas in check in one area — stressing that he would like to see a few less one-handed catches after Thomas has been swept up in the Odell Beckham Jr. “epidemic.”

But other than that, Payton and the Saints’ quarterbacks have raved about the second-round draft pick from Ohio State this summer. He has quickly earned their trust with his ability to make difficult catches and win in traffic.

“They are all going to play an equal amount,” Kubiak said. “I have to sit here and think about how much I’m going to play the starters, so that’ll have a lot to do with how I play them. I’m going to see how much I’m going to play our starters in the game. I’ll make that decision later in the week.”

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“Bottom line, without getting into it a lot, Stephen has absolute, tremendous influence on these decisions that are ultimately made in this organization and everything we do,” the elder Jones said. “It would be madness for two people to work as hard as [Stephen and coach Jason Garrett] do, not to … be influenced by what they are telling you.”

In the NFL, teams with legitimate franchise quarterbacks are always in the playoff conversation. Romo provides that for the Cowboys. But those teams that are perennial playoff contenders also have roster depth — it’s as close to insurance against injuries as you’re going to get.

That’s where Stephen comes in, and why the rest of the league has apparently taken notice.

The 2016 NFL Draft was one of the craziest drafts in recent memory, thanks to a tumble by Laremy Tunsil sparked by a video of him smoking marijuana using a gas-mask bong. (Say it out loud, seriously.)

It nearly got even crazier, with the Giants and Jets coming close to a Big Apple blockbuster trade in the middle of the first round.

According to Gary Myers of the New York Daily News, the Jets were eager to try and draft Tunsil and, when he started falling, rang up the Giants to make a move from No. 20 up to No. 10.

The Giants had just lost out on their top targets, Jack Conklin and Leonard Floyd (taken by the Titans and Bears, respectively, both who traded up to get them) and weren’t interested in Tunsil.

The Jets wanted Tunsil and were willing to spend on moving up. But not spend big. More from Myers:

The Jets offered just one pick, their second-rounder, to flip spots. It was easy to say no. If they had also offered their fourth, the Giants would have been tempted. The second-round choice was not enough to drop 10 spots.
According to the Jimmy Johnson Trade Value Chart, the difference between the two picks (Nos. 10 and 20) is 450 points. The Jets’ second-round pick, No. 51, is worth 390 points. So we’re not talking a massive difference here.

According to Myers, the Giants were worried Eli Apple, the next player on their board, wouldn’t be available at No. 20.

Many of these players have been done no favors by organizations and some have been dogged by injuries. Some might be ready to finally cash in on potential while facing the prospect of not having their fifth-year options executed. A few might just be late bloomers, which is not uncommon.

With that in mind, here are three players from that star-crossed 2013 first round who I believe we have yet to see the best from:

OL Jonathan Cooper, No. 7 overall, Patriots: It wasn’t happening for Cooper in Arizona. He wasn’t developing or really even playing — starting only 11 games in three years — so things looked bleak. But sometimes a change of scenery can work wonders and Bill Belichick, of all people, wanted Cooper for a reason. The Pats don’t get their hands on too many prospects drafted this high, and they’ve mostly been making due with try-hard guys on their offensive line.

This is a unique specimen in an area of particular import, and I generally don’t bet against the Pats. They parted with a pretty accomplished player in Chandler Jones to get Cooper, and if he can be a competent guard it would be a major step forward. With his fifth-year option not activated, he should have plenty of motivation to accelerate his progress.

CB D.J. Hayden, No. 12 overall, Raiders: He came in very raw, missing significant time in college because of a vein injury that nearly killed him. He’s continued to have bad luck as a pro and if some would call him a doomed pick, well, I wouldn’t entirely blame them. It’s been a struggle, but he’s overcome bigger problems.

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Thursday’s contract extension for Zimmer was another nod to the team’s newfound stability. Zimmer, like Bruce Arians, was ignored for too long in head coaching interviews because he may have been too honest. While Zimmer may not play the politics well, he has the full attention of his players. He has a knack for developing defenders, especially on the defensive line and secondary. They have an all-time great Adrian Peterson trying to squeeze out another season of greatness before his contract becomes an issue. The Vikings boast promising youth throughout their defense and look to take a Cardinals-like leap toward the upper echelon of NFL teams.

On Thursday’s Around the NFL Podcast, Marc Sessler took issue with everyone handing the NFC North to the Packers. The natural inclination is to wonder if Minnesota will take a step back after 11 wins last year, but there are plenty of reasons to believe they can be even better. They might have bought low on Zimmer.

Here’s what else we learned at training camp Thursday:

While Broncos VP John Elway says it’s an open competition for the team’s starting quarterback job, coach Gary Kubiak has sounded a different note publicly. He gave Mark Sanchez first team reps, with Trevor Siemian occasionally mixing in with the starters. Rookie Paxton Lynch was with the third team and showed “stage fright”, according to NFL Media’s James Palmer, in his first camp practice. Kubiak admitted Lynch’s head was spinning.

Don’t rule out a Tyrod Taylor extension in Buffalo just yet. Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News reports that the two sides have been talking “frequently” and Taylor still has a chance for an extension before the season. It’s a tricky contract to figure out; the Bills would essentially be buying low.

One clear change to the Colts’ offense showed up at practice on Thursday. The base two-tight end offense appears to be gone, according to the Indianapolis Star, along with Coby Fleener. The team now appears to be working out of a base offense with three receivers on the field: T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief and Philip Dorsett. Moncrief and Dorsett are in prime position to make the leap.

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Broncos coaches have talked up the untested Siemian as having a “legitimate shot” to start, while general manager John Elway said in May that Lynch will be “ready quicker than a lot of people think.”

Still, it’s not surprising if Kubiak chooses to open the campaign with the only quarterback on his roster boasting genuine NFL experience. For all his on-field quirks, Sanchez has 72 regular-season starts and a 4-2 playoff record with two trips to the AFC title game. He’s also a confirmed turnover machine primed to lose any job he wins.

Williams, at least when talking Wednesday, disagreed, saying: “Personally, I’ve got a lot of faith in Mark and Trevor, as well as Paxton. But I feel like Mark can go out there and get the job done if he needed to.”

With the Broncos set to kick off their preseason on Aug. 11 against the Bears, the answers to these long-running — and, by now, oxygen-sucking — questions will come soon enough.

Are we inching closer to a decision on the fate of Josh Gordon?

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell met in person with the Browns receiver on Wednesday regarding his return to the field, per sources informed of the process. Rapoport added that no decision appears imminent for Gordon, who can’t reapply for reinstatement until Aug. 1.

The oft-banned Gordon failed another drug test in March, prompting the NFL to deny his application for reinstatement and delay his potential return until after Cleveland opens training camp. He was suspended in February 2015 for violating the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse.

Drafted in the third round out of Minnesota in 2007, the noted blocking specialist has accrued 420 yards and 10 touchdowns on 55 receptions across nine seasons with the Steelers and Chicago Bears.

Between the release of Spaeth and the offseason retirement of Heath Miller, Pittsburgh is undergoing a changing of the guard at tight end.

Former San Diego Chargers speedster Ladarius Green was signed to add a more dynamic dimension to the aerial attack. Jesse James, selected in the fifth round of the 2015 draft, is expected to take over Spaeth’s role as an inline blocker and red-zone specialist.

At the Scouting Combine in February, Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim offered penetrating insight into the state of the position in today’s NFL.

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