Fantasy fallout: Rookie Tyler Boyd, rival Steve Smith could fill A.J. Green void

Injuries are part of the deal in fantasy football. But it’s not every week that teams lose their best player — which is now the case for many A.J. Green owners.

The Cincinnati Bengals are in the same boat. Not only did they lose Green to a hamstring injury that leaves the rest of his season in doubt, but they lost their No. 2 pass-catcher — running back Giovani Bernard — to a season-ending ACL tear.

The Vikings signed Jake Long in October to fill a void at left tackle, but he didn’t stay healthy for long.

Has Bradford made a difference in terms of winning games?

Let’s look. The Vikings were supposed to be built around a great defense and a Peterson-led running game, but only one end of that bargain has held up. Minnesota wasn’t acquiring Bradford to be Drew Brees, but you don’t give up a first-round pick unless you think you have a guy who can squeeze out a late score to win a game. Where has he made the difference so far this season?

You can make a case for Week 2, Bradford’s debut, when he threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Diggs to put the Vikings up 17-7 on the Packers with 2:11 left in the third quarter. The Packers scored a touchdown in the fourth to get within three, but never got much closer. Bradford didn’t do much to close it out in the fourth: He completed a 15-yard pass on third-and-27, had a pass batted away, took a sack, and was part of a 12-yard pass interference call. He otherwise kneeled, handed off, and threw a pass with three seconds left to burn the remainder of the clock.

The three other games in Minnesota’s winning streak were all by double digits; Bradford played well, but his defense allowed an average of 11 points in those games. Minnesota’s only other victory came against the Cardinals in Week 11, 30-24, in a game where the Vikes scored 14 points on returns and Bradford’s only second-half scoring drive produced a field goal. In the fourth quarter, Bradford’s offense produced one first down, while he took a strip sack that gave the Cardinals a short field and set them up for a touchdown.

The possibility of a Bradford injury was another one of the arguments against the deal that is somewhat forgotten now. He has managed to stay healthy, but the injury chaos surrounding Bradford is a reminder of how we can’t assume everything will go right in justifying win-now deals.

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Categories: Kansas City Chiefs


Saints willing to trade almost entire team, according to report

The New Orleans Saints are ready for an overhaul. After going 7-9 last season, the Saints are reportedly shopping “everyone but Drew Brees and Brandin Cooks,” according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. The team has already sent tight end Jimmy Graham to the Seattle Seahawks and offensive guard Ben Grubbs to the Kansas City Chiefs since the start of free agency at 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday.

The quick trigger by the Saints front office suggests that last season really didn’t sit well. The Saints missed the playoffs despite playing in perhaps the worst division in the NFL. Their final two losses came by a combined 47 points to the Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons, their NFC South rivals.

Kansas City previously cut wide receivers Donnie Avery and A.J. Jenkins, so the team is still thin at a critical position for quarterback Alex Smith, despite the addition of Maclin. No wideout caught a touchdown pass in 2014, a staggering statistic that highlights the Chiefs’ need for a playmaker.

The 30-year-old Bowe could still help a team elsewhere, but likely won’t command anything close to the salary he was due in 2015 before his release.

All the bad feelings of the last six months or so could be gone by the time September rolls around thanks to Baalke’s track record and eye for talent, but it’s hard to see a clear pattern in player movement there so far this spring. The 49ers are his team now, his alone, and that’s a heavy burden to carry.

Chip Kelly threw cold water on those rumors about packaging Sam Bradford and some draft picks for a move up to take Marcus Mariota at his Wednesday afternoon press conference. He’s committed to Sam Bradford, for now anyway. Interestingly enough, the team has not entered into talks with Bradford about a contract extension, who is in the last year of his original six-year rookie contract.

Did Patriots get a steal?
Jabaal Sheard, recently of the Browns, is headed to New England. He signed a two-year, $11 million contract. He was miscast in Cleveland as an outside linebacker when he’s much more natural at defensive end. The Patriots are moving toward a more straight forward four-man front after parting ways with Vince Wilfork.

Like Smith, Prescott was extremely efficient

In a strange coincidence, Prescott joins Smith and Cousins with a 94.1 Total QBR in Week 11. On Sunday, Prescott continued his magical rookie season by throwing for 301 yards and three touchdowns in the Dallas Cowboys’ 27-17 win over the Ravens. He has now thrown for 300 yards and two touchdowns in back-to-back games.

Like Smith, Prescott was extremely efficient, with 72 percent of his plays gaining positive EPA. He also avoided costly plays as he took one sack for 2 yards and posted his sixth game this season without a turnover.

“I’m still gathering information on what exactly took place, but all I know at this point is, when we were out there on the field on offense, there were multiple times I saw a green laser coming from the stands,” Osweiler said. “There were a couple of times it definitely hit me in the eye. And it was very noticeable.”

Osweiler refused to say the laser was “the difference-maker” in the game, but he said, “Certainly, having a laser zoomed in on your eyeball definitely affects how you play.”

Texans head coach Bill O’Brien would not comment on the laser, saying that was more of a question for security.

Texans players weren’t the only ones who noticed.

“Certainly, having a laser zoomed in on your eyeball definitely affects how you play,” Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler said. twitter/@espnnfl
“Yeah, that was kind of weird,” Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack said. “I saw that, and I thought I was in the Twilight Zone.”

Osweiler said he had never experienced anything like that while playing football.

“I’ve never experienced a laser being shined in my eyeball during a football game, let alone a professional football game in the National Football League,” Osweiler said. “So I think that was certainly disappointing. But at the end of the day, that’s not why we lost the game. That was just one small factor. But it certainly affected how I was playing.”

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Categories: Kansas City Chiefs


LeSean McCoy avoids criminal charges for night club brawl

Two months after Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy was reportedly involved in an incident that ended with two off-duty police officers being hospitalized, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams announced no criminal charges will be filed because of “insufficient evidence.”

Williams was criticized by the head of Philadelphia’s police union for “overthinking” the case and taking too much time.

Gordon initially applied for reinstatement in February, and could have been reinstated within 60 days of his application had this test not come up dirty. Goodell was not required to make a decision in that time frame, according to initial Fox Sports report.

When previously talking about the issue of reinstatement, Goodell said that the whole process was designed around making sure the things that led to the suspension don’t continue to happen. This is obviously a huge roadblock on that front, though he can again apply for reinstatement on Aug. 1.

Gordon was originally suspended last February for “at least a full calendar year” for multiple violations of the league’s substance abuse policy. Gordon was suspended after testing positive for alcohol after entering the league’s substance abuse program following a guilty plea for a DUI charge. He was suspended for the full 2014 season following a failed drug test the previous year, but it was reduced to 10 games when the league revised its substance abuse policy.

“Wow. Wow. If you had done anymore, you would’ve knocked me out for sure,” Glenn said, via CBS Sports. “I would take a practice punch, but I’m sure you’d knock me out in one second.”

Glenn is also prone to some of the endearing verbal missteps that plague other members of his family as well. In a January Buffalo News profile, he couldn’t pronounce the name of Ravens fullback Kyle Juszczyk, a player he says he’s often compared to.

“Kyle Zu … Baltimore Ravens fullback,” Glenn said. “J or Z. Something crazy. Zu-check or something. A lot of people have been comparing me to him. I heard that’s not a bad thing, that’s what they’re saying.”

Interestingly enough, Glenn says he isn’t receiving any draft advice from his older brothers.

“Not much,” Glenn told Evans in an interview for CBS Sports. “They had to go through the process, so they’re making me go through the process.”

Uni Watch’s Friday Flashback: The power of the powder blue

The San Diego Chargers wore their powder blue alternate uniforms on Sunday. As you know, one of the sports world’s most iron-clad rules states that whenever this uniform is worn, countless fans will respond by saying: They should go back to wearing their original powder blues from the 1960s. Those were the best football uniforms ever!

And those fans are right — mostly. The Chargers’ original powder blues were gorgeous. What many fans don’t realize, though, is that the team’s original powder blue period, which ran from 1960 through 1973, actually featured a surprisingly large number of variations, with many of the uniform’s key elements — the helmet, the pants, and even the shade of blue used on the jerseys — in constant flux. So when people talk about the Chargers’ “original powder blues,” they’re actually referring to a wider range of uniforms than they probably realize.

Let’s look at some of those variations, one uniform element at a time:

Thursday night, the Browns coach spoke louder, pulling Kessler in the second half against Baltimore and replacing him with Josh McCown.

Jackson said this was only a one-game, in-game move and Kessler will start Nov. 20 against visiting Pittsburgh. ?But the decision said something, as clearly a team under strain from losing is looking for any kind of way to end the skein that hit 0-10 with Thursday’s 28-7 defeat. And a coach weary of seeing his team lose is willing to try anything.

“You’ve got to try something different,” Jackson said. “And, being in the situation we are, why not try something different?”?

Why not, indeed? The worst that can happen is the Browns lose again.

The move does speak volumes about the state of the Browns when they pull a rookie quarterback and replace him with a 37-year-old. It’s not the spot a building team wants to be.

The pants. When you think of the Chargers’ powder blue era, which pants do you instinctively envision them wearing? It’s a trickier question than you might think, because the Chargers wore four different pant designs from 1960 through 1973: white with blue lightning bolts down the sides; white with gold bolts; gold with blue bolts; and gold with conventional striping.

Brown opened up during two separate interviews totaling nearly four hours

In the film, Hall of Famer and Browns teammate Paul Warfield said, “The creator said, ‘I’m only going to do this one time in a very special player.'”

“We wanted to remind people of what made him so special,” Smith said. Yet there is so much more to Brown’s life. The film examines his early retirement at age 30 and how he transitioned to a career in Hollywood. It shows how his film roles broke from convention and laid the foundation for future African-American actors.

Interviews with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Rev. Jesse Jackson, among others, tell how Brown was a crusader among African-American athletes in pushing for social change in America. Smith says he didn’t realize how close Brown was to Muhammad Ali.

Golden Tate’s acrobatic sudden-death touchdown tumble topped Week 9’s Top “Performance Moments of the Week”, presented by Bridgestone.

The score came on the heels of two momentum-swinging drives. After the Vikings scored to grab a three-point lead with just 27 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, Stafford led a two-play, 35-yard drive in 21 seconds to set up a game-tying 59-yard field goal from Prater. The quick turnaround shocked Minnesota’s previously impenetrable defense, and was a sign of things to come.

Detroit won the coin toss in overtime and chose to receive. The Lions converted three third downs in a row — one via penalty — before being faced with a fourth third down on the Vikings’ 28-yard line. With the Minnesota fans roaring, Stafford took the snap in shotgun with two wideouts set to his right blanketed by man coverage and Tate to his left shadowed by safety Harrison Smith and cornerback Xavier Rhodes. Despite being targeted by two of Minnesota’s top defensive backs, Tate found space on a 15-yard out and caught Stafford’s pass just a few steps from the sideline.

Instead of running out of bounds to secure the first down and continue the drive, Tate instinctively cut back. The wideout’s juke sent Rhodes, who was closing fast, flying out of bounds. With his back briefly toward the end zone, Tate shoved off Smith and sped off toward the far pylon, toward another victory.

Always the showman, Tate topped off his game-winning grab with a boastful, if not reckless flip into the end zone, giving safety Andrew Sendejo some “cheeky” treatment in the process. The win moved Detroit within a half-game of the lead in the NFC North.

Also on the countdown: Mike Wallace: still fast. … Fat Guy Interception Alert! … Jimmy Graham can catch touchdowns with one hand tied behind his back.

NFL on pace to obliterate recent ejections record

Before you settled into your Barcalounger Sunday, two more NFL players had been ejected from games. And then, before the early games were complete, another player had been disqualified.

Add it all up, and NFL officials already have ejected more than twice the number of players as they did during all 17 weeks of the 2015 regular season. The total of 10 disqualifications puts them on pace to set at least a 15-year high and continues a two-pronged effort by the league to restrain what it considers to be unsportsmanlike player behavior.

Roethlisberger won that 2010 game after Haloti Ngata busted his nose and left the crushed bone looking, the quarterback said, “like corn flakes” on the X-rays.

“Hands down,” Harbaugh told when asked if Roethlisberger is the toughest competitor his teams ever faced. “Oh yeah, yes, yes, his physical power, the strength, just a brutish athlete. He’s incredible. The guy’s a Hall of Famer, a lock.

“But it’s his vision, too. How does he see down the field? He’s got people bouncing off him, falling off him, he’s shrugging them away, moving in the pocket, and all the time where are his eyes? I mean, how does he feel these guys? His eyes are downfield all the time. You look at his size, arm strength, accuracy, the fact he’s at the line doing everything, calling their offense at the line. I don’t think there’s any other quarterback in history that you can compare Ben to. Who would you compare him to?”
Roethlisberger didn’t do enough ducking and dodging to steal this game. He usually struggles in these comeback games (especially since he’s forever expediting his returns), and Sunday was no exception. Roethlisberger spent most of the day missing open receivers, dropping shotgun snaps, absorbing hits on delivery and acting like a quarterback who should’ve waited to return for next week’s showdown against Dallas and QB Dak Prescott.

When it was over, the losing quarterback revealed he decided he was fit enough to go a couple of hours before kickoff, and blamed himself for the substandard play to come. As to how his body felt, Roethlisberger said, “You never walk out of a Baltimore game feeling as good as you went in.” And then the NFL’s reigning king of pain grabbed the handle of his travel bag and started rolling it out of the ballpark with a noticeable limp. Ben Roethlisberger won’t go down as the best player in the Brady-Manning generation. He will go down as the toughest.

As the chart shows, NFL ejections typically have remained in single digits for a full season. Historically, the short season relative to other sports has made the league reluctant to use the ejection as a deterrent. There have not been more than 13 in any season since at least 2001, which is as far back as the ESPN Stats & Information database goes.

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Categories: Kansas City Chiefs


Eli Apple denies the Giants asked him to ‘control what his mother says’ about the Josh Brown situation

Like many, Annie Apple was stunned by the New York Giants’ poor handling of Josh Brown after it was revealed that the kicker admitted to abusing his wife. And like many, she voiced those concerns.

The Giants don’t have the power to muzzle any of those voices, but she says team attempted to flex its muscles and pressure rookie cornerback Eli Apple into silencing his mother.

“It’s taking the fun out of the game for me,” Newton said.

There have been a number of hits on Newton this season that were questionable. During Carolina’s season opener against the Denver Broncos, Newton took several helmet-to-helmet shots, but only one was flagged by officials. A helmet-to-helmet hit from Falcons linebacker Deion Jones in Week 4 sidelined Newton with a concussion. Jones was neither penalized nor fined by the league.

Newton told reporters Tuesday that he had spoken to Goodell about the fact that he’s taking hits inside the pocket where he should be protected, and he said it was a “great discussion” according to Pro Football Talk’s Michael David Smith.

“I got my point across, he got his point across,” Newton said. “We’ll see Sunday and moving forward.”

Newton’s ability to make plays with his legs does open him up to more hits when he runs the ball, but when he’s in the pocket, he should be afforded the same protection as other quarterbacks.

Turner and head coach Mike Zimmer disagreed on the best way to run the offense, according to Albert Breer of The MMQB. It wasn’t a huge rift, but they couldn’t come to terms on the margins of it, the details of the offensive system that needed to be changed in order to better protect the quarterback, get the running game going again, and score more than 20 points a game.

“We had a lot of challenges,” Turner told Breer. “And for a period of time, we were able to hide some problems we had, but it catches up to you. And then we just had a difference of opinion—or what I felt was a difference of opinion—on what we needed to do to give our guys the best chance to fix it.”

On the surface, it looks like Turner handled this in a reasonable, sane way. You could make the case that it’s better for the Vikings that he leaves now to than to let the disagreement fester and turn ugly. On the other hand, why couldn’t he just adapt and stick it out through the end of the season?

Turner hasn’t made a decision on whether or not he’ll coach again — he’s only 64 — but I’d be surprised if some team doesn’t lure him back to coaching with the right circumstances.

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Categories: Kansas City Chiefs


NBA Insider is projecting wins and player performance for every team

“I do think that sometimes the narrative with athletes is we want this linear [progression],” says Redick, who read Duckworth’s book during training camp. “It doesn’t always work that way — and not only on the outside and kind of what the public sees and the media talks about, but the internal battles that every athlete faces. There are obstacles and maybe even moments of self-doubt.”

It’s little surprise, then, that Duckworth hears regularly from coaches interested in how they can use her research. While the concepts of hard work, dedication and resilience that are encapsulated in Duckworth’s version of grit are nothing new for coaches, her research into how grit translates in other fields of high achievement, how to measure it and how to build it provide helpful coaching tools.

NBA Insider is projecting wins and player performance for every team. Check out what we expect for your team.

“She gave a greater clarity to the word ‘grit’ for me,” says Philadelphia 76ers coach Brett Brown, who invited Duckworth to speak to his young team. “I think that through her examples of what her version of grit was, it resonated with me more clearly.

Now they are in the business of building for a repeat title. Of course, the memories from their magical run last spring will always be there. And they’ll serve their purpose when things go sideways this season, as they inevitably will, when guys have to remember what they’re all capable of accomplishing together.

However, the goal should be to become a championship team all over again. Not just through having the requisite talent or experience, but by — to use the buzzword of the night uttered in mirrored fashion by James, Irving, Love and Lue — “growing” into one.

That’s why as satisfying as the result might have been, it was just as important to see Lue experiment with a second unit surrounding James at the 5 or accepting that having Iman Shumpert play a heavy dose of backup point guard could look bad before it looks good, but having it look bad is the only way to know if it can ever look good.

“It’s a game we wanted to win,” Lue said. “Our guys wanted to win, they wanted to make a statement on [Toronto’s] home floor, second game of the season.”

A new season. A new goal accomplished. And a little bit of growth from the Cavs.

“It’s something that we’ve moved on from,” Love said of the surreal splendor of last spring. “We still have obviously a goal of winning another championship and repeating and defending a title, but that’s a long ways away. We have a lot of [time to go]. We’ve got to respect the process, love the process and just continue to go through it.”

“Both of my parents are schoolteachers, and her examples of different practices in different school systems and the different economic situations relative to some of her areas that displayed the most grit — and the people who were able to overcome different socioeconomic barriers or boundaries or obstacles and still persevere — that interested me a lot, as well as the coaching side of it.”

“I’ve always felt like the best players have these attitudes and the best players are able to bounce back from a tough night,” he says. “The best players are able to handle success. Certainly the best players always get better.

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Titans sign veteran WR Andre Johnson to 2-year deal

Andre Johnson was hellbent on not retiring after the Indianapolis Colts released him last month, and now he’s found a new home with another AFC South squad.

The Tennessee Titans signed Johnson to a two-year deal, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, ensuring the 13-year veteran will receive at least another shot to play in the NFL. Johnson, 35, recorded a career-low 41 receptions and only 503 yards last season. He caught more than four passes in a game only once and was shutout on three occasions.

Prior to the 2016 campaign, the Colts viewed Johnson as a productive veteran who was ready to mentor the younger wide receivers on the roster. But it didn’t work out that way, as Donte Moncrief emerged as the clear No. 2 option behind T.Y. Hilton, leaving Johnson in the dust.

And McAdoo somehow managed to shoot upward from there.

Players like Justin Pugh (a fourth-year guard) look bigger, stronger and in the best shape of their careers. Pugh was virtuoso in the way he communicated his hopes for the season, in the clarity he effused about the Giants offensive line building camaraderie and cohesion, about how the offense should be faster and sleeker, about how the defense is re-energized and stouter. You could have flipped back and forth between McAdoo and Pugh and the message would have been seamless.

This says that McAdoo is on point with his message to his players. It is filtering effectively among the Giants, several of whom spoke on Thursday in similar manner to Pugh.

It was defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul who stressed that the Giants have not been to the playoffs “in a minute.”

Try four straight seasons. And the last two seasons were raw 6-10 ones, the kinds that forced change, that got coach Tom Coughlin fired and fixture players like cornerback Prince Amukamara and receiver Rueben Randle booted. The Giants needed a mental and physical overhaul and McAdoo is driving both.

There is a frank reality about him, though, that is operative: “These are words,” he said. “We need to back it up. We all have to go earn it.”

McAdoo has a 1-2 punch, a two-step shuffle that is his chief Giants playbook.

Several offensive-minded coaches in recent years became head coaches and concentrated on being creative, on being fancy, on their Xs-and-Os factor being the single-most important ingredient to victory. They wanted to dazzle as much as win. But McAdoo has a true grit to him and this quote from him on Thursday should make anyone who cares about the Giants ecstatic:

“The game looks a little different than it has in the past, but still the teams that are standing at the end are the heavy-handed, tough teams. That part hasn’t changed and it never will.”

This emphasis on being “heavy-handed” is a huge difference between NFL winners and losers. McAdoo gets this. The Giants players get it. He said he will be smart about injuries but also insisted that he will have a physical training camp. He is incessantly instructing his team that discipline and poise must accompany this physicality. It is a tricky mix, but also an essential mix to championship football.