January 2017

When training camp opens for the NFC East at the end of July, there are plenty of questions that will need to be answered.

How will the Dallas Cowboys look without DeMarco Murray handling the brunt of the load? How will the Philadelphia Eagles deal with adding Murray to the fold along with everybody else after a crazy offseason of wheeling and dealing? Will Robert Griffin III finally return to form after a pair of ugly seasons?

The Cowboys enter the season as the favorite in the NFC East, but winning back-to-back titles in the division hasn’t been easy. The Eagles reigned over the division for four straight years from 2001-04, and since then, no team has been able to repeat as champion.

In the last four years, each of the four teams have had a turn atop the NFC East and there are three teams hungry to dethrone the Cowboys and recapture the division title.

He began to fine-tune his new style as soon as 2013, when, before the draft, he and longtime trainer Pete Bommarito looked to drop weight to enhance his quickness. Bommarito was wowed the moment Bell caught passes in running-back-vs.-safety drills. His hands and body-contortion abilities could make him an elite receiver if he had focused on that position full time.

The NFL was fine with Bell at 230. But he could maintain his strength at a lighter, more explosive weight. “Power back was the label. But we knew — and he knew — he was more than that,” Bommarito says. “The great ones are psychologically tough enough to trust the knee and do everything I asked. He just goes. My biggest issue is holding him back.”

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Nowitzki hailed from W¨¹rzburg, Germany, a town of about 125,000 people that didn¡¯t include many black or African residents. The racial differences never mattered to Nowitzki, as he quickly became smitten with ¡°Jess¡± after they met.

¡°What made her so special? What made me fall in love with her? First of all, she¡¯s got to be attractive. That¡¯s obviously part of it,¡± Nowitzki said with a big smile. ¡°And I think we just clicked intellectually. She likes art, she likes sports. Her brothers both played soccer, they were professional.

¡°She grew up around sports. We both love tennis and we love to travel. We both love kids and family.¡±

“Usually streets named after civil rights leaders are in rough neighborhoods,” Austin says. “It stinks. It would be nice to have a Martin Luther King Street in Beverly Hills.”

His father chuckles upon hearing this.
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“Austin’s right,” Doc says. “We’re not there yet.” “The election broke my heart, but not because the person I wanted to win didn’t win. I can get over the person I supported not winning. But I don’t ever like it when there are racial overtones to anything. For a lot of people — women, minorities, poverty-stricken people — we hear ‘Make America great again.’ Make America great — I’m all for that. It’s the ‘again’ part that scares me.”
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THE CLIPPERS PLAY the Oklahoma City Thunder on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Glenn “Doc” Rivers will address his team before they take the floor. He’s not yet sure what he will say.

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The Philadelphia Eagles might not be signing Sam Bradford to a long-term contract extension any time soon. According to a report from Ian Rapoport of NFL media, the Bradford plans to play out the final year of his rookie contract in 2015. More from Rapoport:

“Was asked about Sam Bradford¡¯s contract on NFL Total Access: I¡¯m told he plans to play it out this year on the final year of his deal. For Sam Bradford, not signing an extension now may allow him to maximize his value. He takes that over more security long-term.”

Bradford is scheduled to make nearly $13 million in 2015. None of his salary is currently guaranteed, though that will change if/when he’s on the Week 1 regular season roster.

It’s clear Bradford is ready to bank on himself, similar to how Jeremy Maclin did last season before cashing in on a big contract in free agency this offseason.

Details about what actually happened are scarce, though the jail report cites charges including “malicious intent, stabbing, cutting and wounding,” according to Audra Martin of WKRN in Nashville. The incident is still being investigated.

Authentic Kids Kelvin Herrera Jersey In a statement, the Titans said, “We are aware of the situation and are continuing to gather more facts.”

Limited Kids Jaye Howard Jersey Hunter, 24, was a second-round pick by the Titans in 2013 and has caught 46 passes for 852 yards and seven touchdowns in two seasons. He was expected to compete for a starting role in training camp. Head coach Ken Whisenhunt said that “At some point, you either get it or you won’t be in this league anymore,” when talking about Hunter’s on-field production recently, according to The Tennessean.

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Game Chicago Cubs Jersey ESPN’s Brad Gilbert is a basketball junkie/Warriors addict who, even with the Australian Open taking over his life, hit me up on Twitter the other day with an interesting comparison while watching the Blazers. Are Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, BG wondered aloud, destined for the same breakup we saw with Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis because they’re too small together? You can safely assume rival front offices are crossing their fingers and hoping that the Blazers inevitably reach the seemingly hard-to-envision point that they feel the need to shake things up. McCollum, mind you, is getting so good that the whole discussion is only getting more complicated; C.J.’s eight consecutive games with at least 25 points is Portland’s longest such streak since Clyde Drexler’s nine-gamer way back in 1987-88.

As you’d expect, McDaniels said all the right things publicly about how he appreciated the Niners for considering him.
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“I was really impressed with Jed York and Paraag [Marathe] and Brian [Hampton] and people that came for the 49ers organization,” McDaniels told New England media. “They did a great job with their presentation. Again, humbled to be included in that process. At this time, it’s just best for my family and myself to remain here in New England and focus on this year’s playoffs and finish out the year, however it turns out.”

But it’s also reasonable to conclude that McDaniels had at least some reservations about the 49ers job given his past interest in becoming a head coach again.

Which leads us back to Shanahan. It was already pretty much a given that York and the Niners would have to concede a lucrative, long-term contract to whoever they hire as head coach. No strong candidate would walk into this situation after the events of the past few years without plenty of built-in security. Likewise, there are some concessions the Niners might have to make in terms of personnel control, or at least in terms of making sure Shanahan has a general manager he feels comfortable with.

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Defensive end Willie Young had a career year tackling quarterbacks in 2014, getting 10 sacks after signing with the Chicago Bears. Young had flashed before — not surprising when you consider that he’s tall, long, athletic and surprisingly powerful for a man his size — but he only had six sacks combined in his four-year stint with the Detroit Lions. Until last season, he had never put all of his physical gifts together to the point where he was dominant.

You might be wondering how in the hell a dude who touched dougle-digit sacks last season be a breakout player this season. Well, I’m glad you asked.

What follows is just one man’s opinion, but let’s take a look at some of the possible sleepers among quarterbacks for the season. Some of these guys are borderline starters who could become sure things, and some are guys who are likely to go undrafted but might find themselves with some relevance.

Here we go:

Eli Manning, Giants
First off, we never know any football player is going to be healthy, but if there’s anyone we can count on to be on the field, it’s Manning, who still hasn’t missed a game since becoming the Giants’ starter in 2004. Just being on the field isn’t everything, of course, but it counts a lot. Meanwhile, Manning might actually have the best assortment of weapons of any quarterback in the league this year. Odell Beckham Jr.

Second-year players White and Janis have come a long way since their rookie endeavors, and will be asked to play much larger roles early this season. White has 12 receptions this preseason for 111 yards, with 89 of those coming in Week 3. Janis has already impressed as a deep threat with a total of eight receptions for 128 yards, 72 of those against the Eagles.

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Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger walked with no noticeable limp three days after injuring his right foot in Sunday’s AFC wild-card game.
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“Good, thank you,” Roethlisberger said from his locker when asked about the foot Wednesday in preparing for a matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs in the divisional playoff.

Roethlisberger was off Wednesday but is expected to get a full practice workload Thursday and Friday. Coach Mike Tomlin said the Steelers would monitor Roethlisberger’s foot closely, but he doesn’t anticipate any setbacks.

Ben Roethlisberger is not limping and is on pace to play this week.
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Roethlisberger got hurt on a passing play with 4:30 left and the Steelers holding a 30-12 lead over the Miami Dolphins. During his weekly news conference Tuesday, Tomlin took responsibility for calling the passing play in a three-score game.

When Tafoya was finished, Tirico explained that when Chiefs general manager John Dorsey chose Hill, he had to have anticipated a backlash in Kansas City, where linebacker Jovan Belcher had murdered the mother of his child, Kasandra Perkins, in 2012 before committing suicide. Collinsworth pointed out that Hill’s selection might have caused some distress for Perkins’ family. “As an organization, they obviously put him through every program you can imagine, and it’s still ongoing,” Collinsworth said. “But it obviously gets into those fine lines of second chances versus maybe you don’t deserve a second chance sometimes. But they took a chance.”

As Collinsworth spoke, he sounded calm and prepared, but the juxtaposition of images and words was undeniably jarring — a breathtaking display of the human body’s potential followed by a reminder of its terrifying capacity for misuse. When Hill appeared on screen again, it occurred to me that millions of people were asking themselves whether the Chiefs had made a grievous error. They would continue to do so as he bloomed into a bona fide star, sparking the Chiefs to the second seed in the playoffs.

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Kansas City’s offense ground to a halt when Charles left Sunday’s game against the Bears. They took a 17-3 lead into halftime, but once Charles was out, the Bears stacked the box less and took away the short passing game. Quarterback Alex Smith had nowhere to throw the football, and the Bears won the game, 18-17.

Eric Ebron Elite Jersey Both second-year pro Charcandrick West and Knile Davis took snaps after Charles exited. West is the Chiefs’ No. 2 running back this season while Davis has been the backup for the past couple of seasons.

It was a worrisome sight for Broncos fans yesterday when LB DeMarcus Ware was carted off the field in the first half of Denver’s win at Oakland. It was later announced as a back injury. Following the game, Ware said his back “locked up” on him when he had a misstep on the Oakland Coliseum turf.

Ike Davis Elite Jersey Early signs are positive for a speedy recovery. From his description, Ware will undergo further tests this week to confirm whether the injury was a muscle spasm or similar type of strain, which sounds likely given his description. If that’s the case, it would require rest and possibly anti-inflammatory medications to help relieve any pain or discomfort that are likely to follow in the coming days.

Philip Rivers, meanwhile, has been fantastic, leading the league in passing yards through the first month of the season. But injury issues (particularly on the O-line) and struggles on defense have the Chargers sitting at 2-2, two games back from the undefeated Denver Broncos. Despite a slow start from Peyton Manning, they look very capable of running away with the AFC West.

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To find hitting power in baseball — which can prove scarce throughout the marathon MLB campaign — we often stomach specialists such as Chris Carter in order to acquire homers. In hoops, we similarly need to pursue players who might only provide positive contributions in a few or even a single statistical category.

Elite Youth Patrick Marleau Jersey The Lakers’ Nick Young, for instance, is enjoying a breakout season beyond the arc. Currently fourth in 3-pointers made per game and with the requisite shooting freedom in an up-tempo offensive scheme, Young is 10th in the NBA in added value in 3-point production on the Player Rater. Despite providing scant value in rebounds or defensive metrics, we can acquire points and a high volume of 3-point production. Young is available in well over half of ESPN leagues as of Friday afternoon. While versatility is increasingly valuable in fantasy basketball, we also need specialists to fuel specific stats.

When Brogdon started seeing increased minutes as the team’s third guard on a thin backcourt rotation, his value in DFS play was easy to identify. The combination of deflated pricing and inflated minutes is a key recipe for attention in daily competition. The seasonal market naturally demands stronger and more enduring production given the finite nature of roster space, so interest in Brogdon has proven more modest. That said, the rising rookie is among the most-added assets of the past week — albeit he’s still available in more than 65 percent of ESPN leagues.

Insider cheat sheet: What’s Antetokounmpo’s fantasy ceiling?
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This week’s edition of the Insider cheat sheet looks at Giannis Antetokounmpo’s rise as the East’s top player, Kyle Korver’s move to Cleveland and whether you should trade Joel Embiid in fantasy.

Will Joel Embiid keep putting up monster stats?

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Of seven previous cases, there are three players more productive than El Gallo. One of the first things of note is that these players did not sign for many extra free agent years. Carlos Carrasco, Johnny Cueto, and Ervin Santana gave their team two additional years of control. Wade Miley, Paul Maholm, and Scott Kazmir signed on for just one extra year. Kazmir is the only pitcher featured here that was younger than Carlos, so I¡¯d like to see the Cardinals break ground here with the longest extension for a pitcher in his service time category.
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The Blues have fifty years of outstanding coaches and tremendous players who have managed to win multiple Stanley Cups… elsewhere, of course. But the players on this team are loved for more than wins. Do we laugh about how guys tend to get a championship after they leave the city? Yep. Do we love the guys who play here for their scrappiness and whatever ¡°blue collar work ethic¡± is? Absolutely.

The Blues are the yang to the Cardinals¡¯ yin. The Cardinals are celebrated for their success, their style, and their history. The Blues are beloved for the cast of characters who have skated through here over the past fifty seasons. Over 40,000 people came to the Alumni Game yesterday to watch a group of guys, many of whom won Cups elsewhere, celebrate the history of a franchise that has always seemed to be a day late and a dollar short.

Game Kids Tom Brady Jersey What¡¯s special about Blues fans is not that we don¡¯t care about the shortcomings, but that we have embraced them and made them part of this team¡¯s identity before shifting our eyes to the future of the franchise.

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The Carolina Panthers stayed undefeated and officially clinched a first-round bye in the playoffs by dominating the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. All of the San Francisco 49ers, Tennessee Titans, Baltimore Ravens, Detroit Lions and San Diego Chargers were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs on top of that. Previously, the Cleveland Browns were the only team eliminated going into Week 14.

In addition to the Panthers, the Arizona Cardinals were the only other team to go into Sunday with a guaranteed spot in the postseason.

Game Youth Torry Holt Jersey The quarterback showed some of the relentlessness Jackson had been looking for in initially signing Griffin, but the coach indicated there’s still progress to be made in his postgame press conference:

“[Griffin] made some plays. He made some plays with his legs, made some plays with his arm. He has to continue to grow that way. In the second half, we got slowed down a little bit, and I think he can still do some things better, but he did show me some things today. He has to keep working. We all have to keep working.”

With a hectic Browns quarterback carousel — in addition to the two QBs mentioned, the team has started Josh McCown and seen guys like Charlie Whitehurst and Kevin Hogan attempt at least 20 passes in relief — it will be good for Jackson to see some more of Griffin this week before the team heads into the offseason with a decision to make about the future of the position.

Griffin already has the support of one teammate. Longtime Browns left tackle Joe Thomas said Griffin has “shown enough” in his four games so far this year to be the starter again next year.
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The Browns travel to Pittsburgh on Sunday for their final game of the season. The Steelers, who have already clinched the AFC North, are expected to rest several starters, including Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, and Le’Veon Bell.

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