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  • SALT LAKE CITY -- As the Oklahoma City Thunder shot free throws in the second quarter, a Utah Jazz fan seated baseline waved his cardboard Ricky Rubio cutout head on a stick. The stick snapped in half, and Rubio's head went flying onto the court.

    Russell Westbrook popped up off the end of the bench and walked onto the floor, picking up Rubio's cardboard head. He acted as if he were going to crumple it up and then shot a grin at the Jazz fans as they booed him. After proclaiming following Game 3 that he was going to shut down Rubio, Westbrook came out ready to back it up, picking Rubio up full-court, scrambling back to get in a deep defensive stance and clapping at him as they lined up to go one-on-one. It was on -- or so it seemed to be.

    Westbrook picked up his first foul by inadvertently tripping Rubio and raised his hand immediately to claim the foul. A few minutes later, Westbrook picked up full-court again, and this time Rubio sold some contact to hand Westbrook a second foul some 90 feet from the basket. A third foul came when Westbrook swatted Rubio's fadeaway jumper into another galaxy but was called for some contact. With Westbrook staying in late into the second quarter, Rubio stepped in front of Westbrook and drew a fourth foul on a charge on the perimeter.
    As Westbrook walked to the bench with a minute left, smoke fuming off of him as even Mitt Romney taunted him courtside with four fingers in the air, much like in Game 3, the Jazz closed the half with a massive boost of momentum. "We Bill Barber Jersey just stayed within ourselves," Donovan Mitchell said. "We always say the strength of our team is the strength of our team. I said this morning we're not really worried about one individual comment. I think if we get caught up in that it takes us out of our own game, and our play showed tonight that we really just focused on each other and made the right plays when we needed to."
    Westbrook accomplished his mission, at least statistically, in the first half. Rubio was shut down, with just six points on 1-of-5 shooting. But it was the gamesmanship by Rubio that bested Westbrook, using Westbrook's hyper-charged energy against him to put him into foul trouble and neutralize his aggressiveness. After the fourth foul, Westbrook just wasn't the same player as he protected against his fifth.
    "Little bit. Little bit," Westbrook said of his approach changing because of foul trouble. "Obviously, not being able to be on the ball takes a little bit of aggression away, but things like that happen within the game and you've got to figure out how to play with it."
    While the Jazz opened the game with a dynamite third quarter (outscoring OKC 12-2 in the first three minutes), everything changed in those closing minutes of the first half. Utah has a 3-1 lead after a 113-96 win, and the Thunder are officially on the ropes. Womens Taylor Hall Jersey It's not about me and him," Westbrook said when asked if his aggressiveness with Rubio backfired. "Let's get past that. We're done with that." It's not all that complicated, what the Jazz have done to the Thunder in the series. OKC is losing a simple math problem.
    Utah generates better, more consistent shots from Bronson Kaufusi Authentic Jersey efficiency areas, while the Thunder basically cross their fingers that their superstar players have a good night. Even when the looks have been clean -- like they were for Carmelo Anthony -- they aren't going down. Per ESPN Stats & Information tracking, the Thunder went 22 minutes, 9 seconds of game time without recording an assist (between made baskets at 10:33 of the second quarter and 0:24 of the third quarter). In that span, they attempted nine shots with an assist opportunity, compared to 27 attempts that didn't have an assist opportunity.
    "We were aggressive. We were in attack mode," Paul George said. "We were aggressive. We missed shots. I don't think all season long we've finished a game with only five 3-pointers. We missed shots." Westbrook hasn't looked himself, and he played with black kinetic tape all over his upper body. Billy Donovan says Womens Tyson Ross Jersey he's fine -- or at least he hasn't been told of any injury -- and Westbrook has fully participated in practices and shoot-arounds. But he struggled shooting again, hitting 6-of-17 from the floor for 20 points, plus 10 rebounds and 3 assists. George finished with 32 on 9-of-21, but with Anthony hitting just 5-of-18, including 0-of-6 from 3, and with the Thunder unable to produce consistent stops, that wasn't cutting it. It isn't a coincidence that Westbrook finished with three assists and didn't have any in the first quarter.
    here was so much talk of the Jazz's playoff experience, or lack thereof, but in Game 4, it was the Thunder who unwound. The intensity in the opening six minutes was off the charts, with technical fouls and light scuffles breaking out, but Utah held its poise while the Thunder took hurried shots and picked up tough fouls. Joe Ingles (20 points) lit the fuse with a flurry of 3s in the first half, and Mitchell (33 points on 13-of-28 shooting) threw the closing haymakers.
    As the Thunder know firsthand, a series doesn't end at 3-1. But the way the Jazz have outclassed the Thunder in the past two games sure makes it feel like it should. Game 5 is Wednesday in Oklahoma City, but the Thunder will take the floor having talked tough but returning home red-faced with their season on the line. wholesale jerseys cheap jerseys free shipping wholesale nfl jerseys wholesale jerseys wholesale nfl jerseys wholesale jerseys wholesale nfl jerseys

  • plays out like this to increase their low draft capital, but in this scenario they nab Hubbard for immediate and long-term pass-rush help. Hubbard fits the Titans’ desires for versatility, intelligence, instincts and play speed over timed speed. Titans coach Mike Vrabel also recruited Hubbard to Ohio State when he was a Buckeyes assistant. Hubbard gives the Titans a talented understudy to be groomed by veterans Brian Orakpo (who will be 32 at start of the season) and Derrick Morgan (29), both of whom are entering the final year of their contracts. -- Cameron Wolfe

    The Falcons need a big, athletic body on the defensive line alongside nose tackle Grady Jarrett, and the 6-2, 311-pound Payne fits the description. Although Taven Bryan might be the most disruptive and Mo Hurst might be the best scheme fit, the Falcons would settle for the former Crimson Tide star because he brings a massive, strong presence against the run and helps free up linebackers to make plays. The Falcons lost Dontari Poe (Carolina) in free agency, so Payne can Brad Nortman Authentic Jersey step right into the rotation. They could live with Payne being more of a nose tackle because Jarrett is versatile enough to play the 3-technique and has the quickness and counter moves to pressure quarterbacks. -- Vaughn McClure

    Receiver is no longer a “must” for the Saints after they signed Cameron Meredith and Brandon Coleman this month. But they could absolutely find room for a player whom ESPN’s Todd McShay called “the clear No. 1 wideout in this draft.” The Saints had the NFL’s No. 2 offense last year, but they ranked 19th on third downs and could use another reliable pass-catcher at receiver or tight end. Some of Ridley’s testing numbers at the combine could ding his draft stock a little bit, but he probably won’t fall all the way to No. 27. The 6-foot, 189-pounder showed some dynamic playmaking ability at Alabama and is widely considered a terrific route Brooks Laich Youth jersey runner. -- Mike Triplett
    The Steelers are eyeing inside linebacker or defensive line help, but the high-end playmakers at that position will be gone. They like LSU running back Derrius Guice but are still hoping for a long-term deal with Le'Veon Bell. So the Steelers go with value here, grabbing an uber-athletic center fielder who will bolster the secondary. They like this player and met with him during the pre-draft process. -- Jeremy Fowler
    The Jaguars led the NFL in rushing attempts (527), yards (2,262) and average per game (141.4), but their production dropped off significantly over the final six games. They averaged 51.3 yards rushing less per game in Weeks 12-17 than they did in the first 11 weeks and surpassed 100 yards rushing just twice in their final six games. Leonard Fournette ran for 1,040 yards as a rookie, but he only averaged 3.9 yards per carry. Inconsistency in the interior offensive line play was an issue the Jaguars needed to address and they did it by signing G Andrew Norwell in free agency. Hernandez is a powerful blocker who can take over on the right side.
    It's possible the Vikings end up trading down with a quarterback-needy team eyeing their selection at 30. If they stay put, the 30th overall pick is essentially a second-round pick by virtue. Guard is the most pressing need for Minnesota entering the draft. While the Vikings certainly can fill that void when they pick in the second round given the strength of this year's class, a player such as Ragnow will be "so far gone" at that point, as one league source put it. Injuries have been a problem on the interior between Nick Easton and Pat Elflein, so going after a
    player with a similar build and potential durability issues is likely something the Vikings want to avoid. The elite offensive lines that run similar blocking schemes feature players that look like Lane Johnson. That's what Minnesota wants. Ragnow's 6-foot-5 frame and tremendous length is a huge sell for the Vikings as they look for Joe Berger's replacement at right guard. Ragnow was ranked one of the top centers in the draft but has the ability to swing over to guard and fill in as a Day 1 starter. -- Courtney Cronin
    The Patriots had starting left tackle Nate Solder depart in free agency, and while they have in-house options in LaAdrian Waddle, Antonio Garcia and Cole Croston, they still have a need for another layer on the depth chart. And if that player could become a long-term answer, it would be even better for them. Miller has drawn some comparisons to Solder in terms of his height and length, so he has some of the Craig Hartsburg Authentic Jersey traits that the Patriots would view as worthy of a first-round choice. He was also one of the team’s 30 in-house visitors leading into the draft, which could be viewed as the team still having an interest in him at a late point in the draft process. -- Mike Reiss
    Trading out looks mighty tempting right now. The Eagles are tied for a league low with six picks and don’t own a second- or third-rounder. With the likes of safety Justin Reid and wide receivers Courtland Sutton, D.J. Moore and Christian Kirk still on the board, executive VP of football operations Howie Roseman knows he can move back into the second round, acquire more draft capital and still land a good player. If the Eagles stand pat, Guice will be among the top options. He has fans in both the coaching and personnel departments and would make a backfield currently led by Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement downright scary. -- Tim McManus

  • Strengths and weaknesses of the NFL draft's top QBsDateWed Apr 25, 2018 2:50 am

    I've believed that Sam Darnold is the best quarterback in the Aaron Nola Jersey 2018 NFL draft throughout the process Charles Harris Authentic Jersey leading into April. He has been the first overall pick in all three of my mock drafts, and I think if you polled league personnel, Darnold would get the most votes. Majority doesn't matter much when it comes to the Cleveland Browns' choice at No. 1, though -- general manager John Dorsey and his personnel staff own all the votes.

    But like the other top quarterbacks, Darnold also has shortcomings, which is what makes this year the most fascinating in terms of evaluating QBs since I've been at ESPN. Here are the strengths and weaknesses of the top five QBs -- Darnold, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen, Baker Mayfield and Lamar Jackson -- as well as what I'm hearing from NFL personnel about potential landing spots.

    PITTSBURGH -- Doug Whaley took the orders from general manager Kevin Colbert and hit the phones. The 2003 Pittsburgh Steelers were prepared to make franchise history by moving up in the first round, and as Whaley began to call teams, he was greeted with disbelief on the other end of the line. “A lot of teams were like, ‘Yeah, yeah, you’ll really come up,’” said Whaley, then-Pittsburgh’s pro personnel director who later became general manager for the Buffalo Bills. “And other teams were like, ‘What?’ At first, they didn’t believe us. It just showed the confidence Kevin Colbert and Bill Cowher had in the player.”
    That player was a game-changing safety out of USC, a speedy, hybrid defensive back before it was trendy, an eventual Hall of Fame talent who sent lightning through Pittsburgh’s defense with perfect hair and Marvel superhero leaps over the line of scrimmage. This week’s NFL draft marks the 15-year anniversary of a trade that forced a traditional team to act non-traditionally to acquire Troy Polamalu with the 16th overall pick. The Steelers never had traded up in the first round before that moment, nor had they drafted a pure safety in that round.
    But the Steelers wanted to improve their secondary and got their guy for modest compensation, giving Kansas City their 27th pick -- which it used on running back Larry Johnson -- along with the 92nd pick (corner Julian Battle) and 200th pick (quarterback Brooks Bollinger). The Steelers' draft room is known as businesslike, emphasizing consensus building over reactionary high-fiving. That day, everyone sensed the satisfaction without saying a word.
    “We’ve always had the philosophy, if you like a guy, you go get him,” said Ron Hughes, the Steelers’ longtime college scouting coordinator who retired in 2015. “We drafted the best player available to us.” Here’s how it all went down. The buzz The Steelers planned to upgrade the Lee Flowers-Brent Alexander tandem at safety, and Polamalu’s hamstring issues during the 2002 season had them hoping he would slide into the late first round. Those plans were smashed once Polamalu smashed his pro day with elite athleticism. When the Steelers walked off the USC campus that day, they knew they had just watched a top-15 player in the draft.
    “I remember [then-USC coach] Pete Carroll telling me ... 'I could wake up Troy at 3 a.m. and he’d wake up and run a 4.3 and jump 42 inches,'” said Marvin Demoff, Polamalu’s agent. “So I think the Steelers saw he was different than the people playing safety at the time. They believed in their eye.”But Demoff hadn’t pegged Courtney Upshaw Authentic Jersey Pittsburgh to his client, who visited the Steelers but didn’t have his hopes up either way. Sure, Polamalu wasn’t a perfect prospect. Hughes cited a concussion history in his file, along with the lack of "corner fluidity." But Hughes knew Polamalu’s “special” playmaking was what they needed and would fuel draft-day drama. “We ended up getting anxious on draft day,” Hughes said. “And it paid off."
    The deaDemoff also represented Johnson, an explosive running back out of Penn State who was convinced Pittsburgh would select him 27th. He had the right number, wrong team. The Chiefs had targeted Johnson early in the process despite that former coach Dick Vermeil was hoping for a linebacker. “Carl [Peterson, the former Chiefs GM] was adamant about getting Larry Johnson, as was Lamar Hunt,” Vermeil said.
    That presented an opening for Pittsburgh, which understood the Chiefs’ draft needs while trading notes with teams over phone calls a few weeks earlier. Around the 14th pick, the Steelers brass -- Colbert, Cowher, owner Dan Rooney and son (now team president) Art Rooney II -- huddled in the corner of the room, then emerged with a plan and a ceiling for trade compensation. “[Colbert] called me over, and the message was, ‘We’re getting on the phone, let’s do it,'” Whaley said.
    The Steelers made several calls before reaching Kansas City, which felt fairly comfortable Johnson would be available at 27.Turns out the presence of Cowher, a former Chiefs defensive coordinator, would help cement the deal, Peterson said.“Both teams got what they wanted at the time,” wrote the now-retired Peterson via email while aboard The World residential cruise ship. “The Steelers needed and wanted a FS/SS, and the Chiefs wanted
    a big RB. Both players gave excellent production the first 4-5 years of their careers, but Troy P. went on to a very long, and a HOF career, and Larry J. did not play near as long in his NFL career. That’s OK, because some years earlier Bill C. assisted me in moving up in the first round, to draft a pretty good TE from Cal Berkeley (Tony Gonzalez), who should be a first-ballot HOFer this Adrian Amos Youth jersey next year!” cheap jerseys wholesale jerseys wholesale jerseys cheap jerseys wholesale jerseys from china cheap nfl jerseys cheap jerseys from china

  • Josh Allen/Barkley, Chubb or FitzpatrickDateTue Apr 24, 2018 8:17 am

    The alternative to taking Darnold first would be to take Allen. If he’s Roethlisberger Repeat, there’s nothing to not like about the pick. If the Browns believe they can solve the accuracy issue and that Allen’s skills override accuracy, he’ll be their guy. Checkdowns and system could make up for the difference between 56 and 60 percent. If the Browns take Allen, the Giants could take Darnold. The Jets would also take a quarterback, which would more than likely give the Browns the best player at every other position with this choice.

    t’s tough to see this happening given the Browns' recent history of trade-down errors, but it also can’t be eliminated. If the Browns value Fitzpatrick, they might be able to move down and still get him -- and also recoup the third-round pick Mike Shannon Womens Jersey they traded to acquire Taylor. They might also like Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward.
    A winless team has nowhere to go but up, so the Cleveland Browns have no choice but to be a better team in 2018. In Tyrod Taylor they have a professional quarterback with experience and will clearly be an improved team with the draft and other offseason additions. But the Browns also have a new offensive coordinator, new quarterback, new running back and new receiver, all of whom must mesh by September. As the Browns have shown in the past, that's a tall order. This will be an improved team, but it won't be a .500 team. Five wins will be a measure of improvement though.
    Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 9, vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, 1:00 p.m. ET This is a very tough opener, given the Steelers' overall edge in talent and the way they play the Browns. But if a team is going to dream, it has to dream big. Why not start here? The Browns played the Steelers well twice in 2017 (though one game was against backups), and they will pull out every stop in the universe to win this opener. Cleveland is overdue for an upset win. Win. Record: 1-0
    Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 16, at New Orleans Saints, 1:00 p.m. ET It's foolish to pick against Drew Brees in a game his team should win. The Saints have been together a long time and know how to win this kind of game. Record: 1-1 Week 3: Thursday, Sept. 20, vs. New York Jets, 8:20 p.m. ET This game is as good as any to measure how much the Browns have improved. The Jets game was one of the games the Browns easily could have won in 2017. They should be able to pull it out this season. How does a fast start sound? Record: 2-1
    Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 30, at Oakland Raiders, 4:05 p.m. ET Derek Carr had an off season in 2017. He should bounce back. He's just one of many really good quarterbacks the Browns have to overcome, and can't. Record: 2-2 Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 7, vs. Baltimore Ravens, 1:00 p.m. ET For whatever reason, the Ravens seem to figure out ways to beat the Browns. They've won six in a Avery Bradley Womens Jersey row and seven of eight over the Browns going back to 2014. At some point, though, that trend has to end. How does a winning record after five games sound? Record: 3-2
    Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 14, vs. Los Angeles Chargers, 1:00 p.m. ET Philip Rivers continues the gauntlet of quarterbacks the Browns must run, but the Chargers are beatable even with Rivers. The Browns beat them in Cleveland two years ago, and with better quarterback play could have won on the West Coast last season. The fast start continues. Record: 4-2 Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 21, at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1:00 p.m. ET It's tempting to go with the Browns here, but the fast-start bubble has to burst at some point. Jameis Winston on the road will be too much. Record: 4-3
    Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 28, at Pittsburgh Steelers, 1:00 p.m. ET The only good thing about this game's location on the schedule is that the league saved the Browns the annual end-of-the-season embarrassment in Pittsburgh. It's too much to expect the Browns to sweep the Steelers, especially in Pittsburgh. Record: 4-4 Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 4, vs. Kansas City Chiefs, 1:00 p.m. ET
    This will be an interesting game because the Browns will not have to face an experienced top quarterback. Patrick Mahomes gets the chance to take over in Kansas City. What gives the Chiefs the edge is their overall team speed. Record: 4-5 The Bengals have had the Browns' number lately for some reason, and until the Browns change things, it's tough to pick against that trend. Record: 5-10 Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 30, at Baltimore Ravens, 1:00 p.m. ET It took a record-setting day from Josh McCown for the Browns to beat the Ravens in Baltimore in 2015. That's the only win for Cleveland in the last eight games between the teams heading into 2018. Record: 5-11
    Quarterback gauntlet: A tough schedule usually means tough opposing quarterbacks, and that’s true this season. The schedule includes Roethlisberger (twice), Brees, Winston, Matt Ryan, Cam Newton and Derek Carr, all of whom have made the Pro Bowl. The Browns also face Joe Flacco and Andy Dalton, who have gone a combined 28-5 against Cleveland, and Watson, who had 225 yards and three touchdowns against the Browns as a rookie. The 13 starting quarterbacks the Browns will face have been to 35 Pro Bowls. wholesale jerseys from china wholesale nfl jerseys cheap jerseys cheap jerseys

  • Legendary Cleveland Browns coach Paul Brown decided he had to find Otto Graham’s successor in 1952. With his first-round pick in the NFL draft, Brown chose quarterback Harry Agganis, the son of poor immigrants and a standout at Boston University. Agganis was a bit of a legend in Boston. A multi-sport high school star in West Lynn, Massachusetts, he was recruited by 75 colleges but chose BU so he could be near his widowed mother. His play drew crowds where there had been none and caught the attention of the NFL’s greatest coach. While some compared Agganis to Sid Luckman and Sammy Baugh, Brown merely said Agganis would succeed Graham. Brown offered Agganis $50,000 to join the Browns, according to a bio on The Agganis Foundation website, but Agganis turned it down.

    He decided instead to join the Boston Red Sox for less money, saying he had proven himself in football and he wanted to prove himself in baseball. The tale took place in a different era in the NFL. The draft was not the colossal show it is now, and research on players was minuscule compared to today. But Agganis is a cautionary tale both about first-round picks and about quarterbacks. Even with the smartest minds at work, it sometimes does not work out, and the Browns have proven that in their 67 years in the NFL.
    Through the team’s history, its success with quarterbacks has been marred by missteps and pratfalls, by bad luck and misfortune, and by lack of commitment to what is the most important position on the field. It’s easy to look at the Browns' history since 1999 and find failure at the position. In reality, the Browns' entire history with the draft and quarterbacks has not been stellar -- and only highlights the importance of the Browns getting it right Thursday when they will no doubt select a quarterback with the first overall pick.
    This is a team that has never really found and/or committed to a player as its franchise quarterback in the regular draft. None of its best quarterbacks came via the regular draft. Bernie Kosar is the one player the team found and committed to, but he came via machinations that put him in the supplemental draft. It cost a future first-round pick to bring him to Cleveland, but he did not come in the regular draft.
    Graham, the greatest quarterback in Browns history, joined the team as a “free agent” out of Northwestern when the Browns were in the All America Football Conference. Brian Sipe came in the 13th round, Bill Nelsen was acquired via trade from Pittsburgh, and Frank Ryan was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams. Tim Couch was a first overall pick, Max Garcia Youth jersey but he lasted five seasons of painful expansion football; it’s impossible to look at Couch now and not feel that he deserved better.
    The Browns' history of drafting quarterbacks has produced only two outstanding players, and the team’s history of “committing” to top quarterbacks shows that it hasn’t. Since 1950, the Browns have drafted 49 quarterbacks, eight in the first round, with four of those first-rounders taken since 1999. Of the eight, only Kosar has been successful; he led the Browns to three AFC Championship Games. Sipe, a 13th-round choice in 1972 and the team's all-time leader in passing yards, guided the Browns in the Kardiac Kids era in the 1980s.
    The Browns twice drafted quarterbacks first overall: Couch in 1999 and Bobby Garrett in 1954. Garrett’s was an interesting choice, coming after the Browns went 11-1 and played for the NFL championship. Garrett’s selection and what happened after shows how different the draft was in the fledgling days of the Browns in the NFL. The draft in those years was based on a lottery, which the Browns won. Garrett was the consensus best pick after an All-America career at Stanford.
    The Browns took him as the heir apparent to Graham, who had played eight seasons. However, soon after the draft Paul Brown learned that Garrett was in Air Force ROTC and had a two-year military commitment. Brown traded Garrett to Green Bay before the season in a deal that brought Babe Parilli to Cleveland. Garrett played nine games in Green Bay, but did not start. In 1957, the Browns reacquired Garrett, with Parilli going back to the Packers.
    It was in the 1957 training camp that the Browns, and Brown, learned what was holding Garrett back: He stuttered, which made calling plays difficult. One of his teammates at Stanford eventually told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that they had to smack Garrett on the back to get him to make the play calls. Coaches did not take sensitivity training in those days, and Garrett retired before preseason ended. He never played a down for the Browns. The next quarterback taken by the Browns in the top 10 was Mike Phipps, who in 1970 was considered a future star coming out of Purdue.
    Art Modell so badly wanted a quarterback that he made a trade with the Miami Dolphins to send receiver Paul Warfield to Miami for the third overall pick. Phipps was selected after quarterback Terry Bradshaw went to Pittsburgh and defensive lineman Mike McCoy to Green Bay.Warfield was beloved in Cleveland. He had grown up in Warren, Ohio, and attended Ohio State. In his six seasons in Cleveland he had become a fan favorite. When Warfield returned to Cleveland for the first time after the deal for a Monday night game, he received an ovation that he has said was among the highlights of his career.
    The Browns were coming off 10-win seasons (in 14 games) in 1968 and 1969 that saw the team make consecutive conference championship games. But Nelsen’s Brandon Brooks Youth jersey creaky knees (six surgeries) scarred him and scared the team. Modell made a bold move, and it didn’t work out. Phipps went 24-35-1 as a starter in Cleveland and completed Evan Boehm Youth jersey just 48.1 percent while throwing 81 interceptions and 40 touchdowns. In 1977 he was traded to Chicago. cheap nfl jerseys cheap jerseys cheap jerseys cheap nfl jerseys cheap jerseys wholesale nfl jerseys

  • Three-round head-to-head 2018 NFL Mock DraftDateMon Apr 23, 2018 2:45 am

    Three rounds. 100 picks. This 2018 NFL mock draft is similar to our "Grade: A" projections -- it's all about whom we would take at each pick. We're playing general manager for all 32 teams. The ground rules are simple: alternate picks; no trades; no deals that say "I won't take Player X if you don't take Player Y." It's just "This is whom I'd take" at every slot on the board for three full rounds. Kiper kicks us off with the Browns. We'll explain each pick below, and needs play a big part. We're not going to reach on our boards, but we are taking into account holes on each roster.

    According to the Bucks, Rodgers is the only active NFL player to have an ownership stake in an NBA team. "I have proudly called Wisconsin my home for the past 13 years, and I am thankful for the friendships and the opportunities I have been given to live and play here," Rodgers in a statement released by the Bucks. "I am excited and honored to deepen my connection to the region by joining Wes Edens, Marc Lasry, Jamie Dinan, Mike Fascitelli
    and the ownership group of the Milwaukee Bucks. As a huge fan of the NBA and the sport of basketball, this is a dream come true for me, and I look forward to furthering my affinity for Wisconsin sports as a minority owner in a team I love and support."Rodgers, a native of Chico, California, splits his time between Green Bay and Southern California. The current ownership group purchased the Bucks in 2014 from Herb Kohl, a former Senator, for $550 million.
    "Aaron is a winner, a Wisconsin icon, and we are honored to welcome him to our partnership group of the Milwaukee Bucks," the Bucks ownership group said in a statement. "With our team in the playoffs and our new world-class arena opening this fall, it's an exciting time for this city and the Bucks. We are thrilled for Aaron to be with us."The New York Giants are set to acquire punter Riley Dixon from the Denver Broncos in exchange for a future conditional pick, a source told ESPN on Friday.
    Dixon became expendable after the Broncos signed Marquette King as a free agent earlier this month. The Giants had an opening after cutting Brad Wing in March following a poor season. Dixon, 24, had been on the trade block and was looking for a landing spot. He did not report to the start of Denver's offseason workout program earlier this week. There were other teams interested in his services.A third-year pro, Dixon averaged 45.6 yards per punt this past season. Two of his kicks were blocked last season, as Denver's special teams units struggled. The Broncos averaged 40.8 net yards per punt last year, tied for 26th in the NFL.
    The Giants finished last with an average of 38.6 net yards per punt. They've invested heavily in their special teams this offseason, including signing special teams ace/wide receiver Cody Latimer from the Broncos. Dixon has appeared in 32 games over the past two seasons. He averaged 45.7 yards per punt with the Broncos.
    Foles stepped in for the injured Carson Wentz, who tore the ACL and LCL in his left knee against the Los Angeles Rams in December, and guided the Eagles to their first Super Bowl win.He completed 73 percent of his passes in the postseason with six touchdowns and one interception, including three TD passes in a 41-33 win over Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII.
    Wentz has set the 2018 season opener against the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday, Sept. 6, as his target return date. Speaking to the media on Tuesday, Wentz said he is in the "running progression" stage of his rehab and is "feeling good with where I'm at" on the comeback trail. Foles recently expressed the desire to be a starter again during an interview with a Texas ABC affiliate, while also highlighting the positives of remaining with the Eagles for another season.
    "We love Philly. I know there was some stuff going around [about] a possible trade, and I would love the opportunity to be a starter again," Foles said. "I know my spot in Philly. I think I've shown what I can do. I'm signed for one more year and I love the team, I love the city. I'm excited for Carson to get back on his feet. I'll be ready to go whenever they need me. Womens Quinton Carter Jersey But we'll see; Chris Paul Youth jersey just living in the moment." While some teams inquired about potentially trading for Foles at the beginning of the league year, the Eagles set the price high and no deal was struck.
    What's missing? A healthy, high-upside prospect on a rookie contract to add another layer for the future with Hogan, Matthews, Dorsett, Britt and Patterson all having contracts that expire after the 2018 season. Of course, the need for that could always change with any of those players in the final year of their contracts agreeing to an extension at some point.
    2018 draft class primer: Not strong at the top, with the best value coming in the late-first-round-and-beyond area. Given the variety of receiver prospects in this year's draft, NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock had projected that teams selecting players at that position between the second and fourth round will likely have a notable contrast in their grades based on what skills they value most.

  • The Seattle Seahawks aren't scheduled to make aDateSat Apr 21, 2018 4:29 am

    pick in next week's NFL draft until No. 18 overall, but in a way they might already be on the clock. If they're going to trade All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas -- a legitimate possibility by all indications -- Marc Gasol Jersey then the Eric Fisher Jersey logical deadline would be before the end of the second round, if not the first.The Seahawks are without a second- or third-round pick this year. It's not an ideal situation for any team, but especially not for one that needs an infusion of young talent more than ever after parting with a handful of its top players this offseason -- Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett and Jimmy Graham, to name a few.

    Thomas, a six-time Pro Bowl selection and arguably the NFL's best safety, is a big-enough asset to bring back early-round draft capital. But given what they're missing, whatever picks the Seahawks could get for him in a trade would be much more useful in this year's draft than next year's. It's why Thomas' uncertain future in Seattle should become a bit more clear by the end of next week.
    In the meantime, here's a closer look at his situation and what could happen next: Where things currently stand Thomas has been absent from the start of the Seahawks' voluntary offseason workout program, which is not surprising. He mentioned to ESPN in January the possibility of holding out if he doesn't get a new deal from Seattle. He's entering the final season of a four-year, $40 million contract, and Seahawks general manager John Schneider told reporters at the NFL owners meetings last month that the two sides weren't currently discussing a new deal. Even if they were, Thomas may opt to stay away until there's a resolution.
    What Thomas may want ADVERTISEMENT He hasn't said anything specific about what he's looking for, but it's a safe assumption that it's something in the neighborhood of $13 million a season. That's what Eric Berry makes as the NFL's highest-paid safety. Recall that Thomas mentioned Berry's six-year, $78 million deal last June in response to a question about when he put to rest thoughts of retirement that he had entertained after breaking his leg in December 2016.
    Thomas could reasonably argue he's worth that much. Santiago Casilla Jersey He's a better player than teammate Kam Chancellor, whom Seattle signed to an extension last summer that averages $12 million a season. Thomas has one more Pro Bowl on his résumé than does Berry (six to five) and the same number of first-team All-Pro selections (three). Why wouldn't the Seahawks pay him?
    It's not out of the question. They arguably should given how important he's proven to be to their defense. That was never more evident than when Thomas was sidelined late in the 2016 season. Seattle's pass defense fell apart without him, allowing a 100.3 passer rating and 12 touchdown passes to only one interception, compared with a 77.8 rating and seven TDs to 10 picks with him on the field.
    On the flip side, there's risk in sinking big money into third contracts for players who are approaching or are over 30. The Seahawks just got two painful reminders of that. They extended Bennett late in the 2016 season and Chancellor last summer. Each had a season left on his contract. Bennett was banged up last season and is now gone, and Chancellor's neck injury may end his career. That means the Seahawks paid each of them a bunch of money and may not see either player reach the first season of his extension. Those are extreme examples, but they're no doubt fresh on the Seahawks' minds when it comes to a possible extension for Thomas.
    Thomas turns 29 in May. Calling him beat up would be an overstatement, but at the same time he hasn't been the indestructible iron man he was at the start of his career when he didn't miss a game for his first six and a half seasons. He's missed seven starts since, including two this past season because of a hamstring injury. He was also frequently listed on Seattle's injury report last season because of knee and Achilles issues. Could Seattle just let him play out his final year? In theory, yes -- and they could also control his rights for 2019 by applying the franchise tag if they don't extend him. But that's much trickier in practice.
    Thomas has always been a difficult person to read, but there's reason to believe he would indeed hold out without a new deal. Consider what he's been making relative to some teammates and other NFL safeties. While Thomas was the league's highest-paid safety when he signed his deal, he still got $4 million less per year than what Seattle gave Sherman that same offseason. Since then, Thomas has been surpassed by five other safeties -- including Chancellor -- in terms of annual average.
    Marshawn Lynch missed the first week of training camp in 2014 and returned with a reworked deal. The team increased his base salary for that season by $1.5 million by moving money around his contract, but he didn't get any additional money or a new contract.The Seahawks didn't make any known adjustments to Chancellor's contract when he held out through the first two games of the 2015 season.
    One difference between those situations and that of Thomas is that Lynch (two) and Chancellor (three) each had more than a season left on their deals when they held out. Schneider said after the fact that the team refused to give Lynch a new deal at the time because it could have led to players unreasonably expecting similar treatment no matter how far along they were in their contracts.

  • The Cowboys have seven games against teams DateSat Apr 21, 2018 2:48 am

    that made the playoffs in 2017, including two against the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles. The path back to the postseason will be difficult and the offseason has not been great with free-agent losses and the release of Dez Bryant. In recent years (2014, 2016) when the expectations at the start of a season were not Super Bowl-or-bust for whatever reason, the Cowboys have responded. Jason Garrett might need more than 10 wins and a playoff Jonathan Ogden Womens Jersey appearance to save his job. -- Todd Archer

    Full Josh Manson Jersey regular-season NFL schedule Quarterback Carson Wentz fully intends to be in the lineup when the Eagles begin their title defense at home on Sept. 6 against the Atlanta Falcons. Even if he reaches that goal, it could take some time until he rounds back into MVP form. The schedule is no cake walk, as the Eagles face seven teams that made the postseason last year. But the defending champs return 19 of 22 starters, and will be fueled by a talented group of players coming off injury led by Wentz and Jason Peters, who will stress that a Super Bowl hangover is not an option. -- Tim McManus
    The Redskins feel they've upgraded at quarterback with Alex Smith over Kirk Cousins, but how much a bump they'll get from this change remains to be seen. To improve, overall, the Redskins need much better health and for key young players to develop such as receiver Josh Doctson. If those happen, then they could be good. But it's hard to go much above last year's mark based on the initial part of the offseason and before seeing what happens in the draft. -- John Keim
    The Bears' offseason upgrades on offense (WR Allen Robinson and TE Trey Burton) bode well for second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who ought to have more freedom in new head coach Matt Nagy's offensive scheme. However, Chicago's strength is its defense led by veteran coordinator Vic Fangio. The NFL did the Bears no favors with early games against Green Bay and Seattle, but the schedule lightens up considerably beginning in Week 3. -- Jeff Dickerson
    The Lions have a new coaching staff and new hope under Matt Patricia. The schedule, though, likely will lead to the same mediocre results Detroit has seen over the past few years. The Lions still have far too many holes on offense (the line and run game) and far too many questions on defense (pass rush and interior line) for them to be anything other than middle of the pack at this point. But the draft can change all of that. -- Michael Rothstein
    The last time Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone (2013), he came back to win MVP the next season. The last time the Packers changed defensive coordinators (2009), they made a five-win improvement. Both of those factors are in play this season and even though they supposedly have the toughest schedule on paper, those other influences are much stronger. Plus, they have a Curtis Samuel Jersey chance to get off to a fast start with three out of their first four games at home and could finish strong with three December home games if they can survive a tough middle stretch. -- Rob Demovsky
    Coming off a runner-up finish in last year's NFC title game, the Vikings face Jimmy Garoppolo, Aaron Rodgers, Jared Goff and Carson Wentz (assuming he's back from his ACL injury) in the first five weeks of the season. Road games at Green Bay, Los Angeles and Philadelphia during that stretch won't be the easiest way to usher in the Kirk Cousins era, along with back-to-back games at New England and Seattle in December. The Vikings enter the season with the league's reigning top defense and get a break toward the end of the regular season with Miami and Chicago at home in the final three weeks. They'll aim to capitalize on their dominant home-field advantage after losing only four games at U.S. Bank Stadium since it opened in 2016. -- Courtney Cronin
    The Falcons have a tough start to the season, traveling to Philadelphia to take on the Super Bowl champion Eagles in the NFL opener Sept. 6. But they turn around and start NFC South play with back-to-back home games against the Panthers and Buccaneers, then follow with another home matchup with the Bengals. Going to the cold of Green Bay in December to face Aaron Rodgers doesn't sound appealing. At least the Falcons can focus on the division race when they close the season at Carolina and Tampa Bay. -- Vaughn McClure
    The schedule-makers apparently believe the NFC South could come down to New Orleans and Carolina. The two will meet on Monday night in Charlotte in Week 15 and then conclude the season in New Orleans in Week 17. Those games could be the difference between which team goes 10-6 and 11-5. A year ago they both were 11-5 with the Saints winning the tie-breaker by virtue of three wins against Carolina. -- David Newton
    The Saints are a made-for-TV team again, with five prime-time games scheduled for the first time in four years. Expectations are high for 39-year-old QB Drew Brees and New Orleans' breakout 2017 rookie class. They'll have to buck their trend of slow starts over the past four years and take advantage of their early schedule, because the final 10 weeks are loaded with likely playoff contenders. -- Mike Triplett wholesale jerseys wholesale jerseys wholesale jerseys wholesale jerseys wholesale jerseys wholesale jerseys

  • Goedert participated in a pro day as a juniorDateFri Apr 20, 2018 7:08 am

    running the 40-yard dash in 4.68 seconds without training to perfect his time. He hasn't run another since. He suffered a Grade 2 hamstring tear on Jan. 23, the first day of Senior Bowl practice, and did not work out at the scouting combine. Fully recovered by his pro day on March 30, Goedert opted out of the 40 but did all other drills.

    It's unusual for a receiver not to have a current 40 time on record. But sitting in the local Applebee's, crushing a double order of artichoke dip and smothered chicken, Goedert said simply that he didn't need to run. "[The 40] was first," he said. "And there were maybe seven or eight tight ends coaches there. I wanted to do the position work. I felt like obviously teams want to see the 40, but my tape shows how fast I really am."

    In truth, if there is any question about Goedert as the draft approaches, it's that his recent tape doesn't show much of the traditional in-line blocking NFL teams like to see. South Dakota State coaches had too many ideas for him as a receiver and scheme-buster to give him conventional blocking assignments. "I'm not going to say it would have been wasting him," offensive coordinator Eric Eidsness said, "but it would have been almost like wasting him."
    Goedert is honest about his priorities. "Any tight end that says blocking is his favorite part of the game," he said, "is lying to you." But he is willing, he said, and scouts who have studied him don't have much of an issue. Steve Muench, who spends the year evaluating draft prospects for ESPN, gave Goedert an above-average grade for blocking. "There's room for improvement," Muench said. "[But] he's a willing run-blocker with the size and strength to compete as an in-line blocker and engulf smaller defenders as a move blocker in space. He's got the length to push linebackers past the hole when he climbs Denis Savard Jersey up to the second level, and he's competitive in pass pro."
    Conventional wisdom suggests Goedert will be in play late in the Authentic Jack Lambert Jersey first round and almost certainly off the board midway through the second. Who will take him? His pre-draft visits were scheduled to include the Jacksonville Jaguars, Minnesota Vikings, Miami Dolphins, Carolina Panthers, Detroit Lions, Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins.
    There is some lineage to consider, as well. Named "Dallas" by his biological father, a Cowboys fan, Goedert grew up rooting for the Green Bay Packers. The walls in his boyhood bedroom Andrej Sustr Jersey are painted a distinctive green, and a Brett Favre poster still hangs. Goedert long dreamed of playing in Green Bay and catching passes from Aaron Rodgers, but the Packers' decision to sign Jimmy Graham in free agency makes the connection unlikely.
    "The last few years, I thought it would be really cool to go play with Aaron Rodgers because he's one of the best and the way he can fling it," Goedert said. "But now I'll go anywhere. Any franchise that picks me up, I'll be more than happy to play for." He grinned wistfully as he mentioned Rodgers. For much of an hourlong conversation, though, he rarely cracked a smile. Goedert earned an operations management degree from South Dakota State's engineering school in December and responded to every question with a precisely formed answer.
    A fuller picture of the man awaited two hours north in Britton, a town with a stop sign at its center and "more cows than people," according to Goedert. There, his extended family -- mother Mary, stepfather Gary, sisters Emily and Megan and their husbands and children -- gathered to share stories about him. "If you're too serious, Dallas can actually be annoying," Mary said. "He's not social until you get to know him, and then he's very funny." "My sides hurt after spending a day with him," Emily said. "Honestly, you laugh so much." "The big thing," Megan said, "is he's impatient. He likes to do things. He doesn't want to sit around all day."
    Much like his one-handed catches at bedtime, everything develops into a game. Part of the reason Goedert is a Packers fan, he admits, is to Brian Hartline Jersey give him a competitive foil. Most of Britton, and South Dakota for that matter, is Vikings territory. "When the Vikings played, I would bet my buddy a pop," he said, using the Midwestern term for soda. "And if I was a Vikings fan, I wouldn't be able to bet him -- or anyone." Watching television? Let's do a push-up contest during commercials. Jumping on the trampoline? Let's play "500." Swimming? Let's race.
    The story of how Goeddert became a unicycle enthusiast goes back nearly 50 years, when Mary's father noticed one in a North Dakota parade and thought it would be fun for his family to try. Five of his daughters learned, including Mary, and when Goedert was old enough, his grandfather offered $50 to the first grandchild to learn. Goedert taught himself in a day, bracing the side of a wall until he felt balanced. Then he took off down the family's downhill driveway. There are no brakes on a unicycle, of course, so dismounting is perhaps the most difficult part. Essentially, you slow down and jump off the front.

  • As we approach the 2018 NFL draft, I keep getting this type of question: "Mel, who do you like?" It's so tough to answer because I have to think about team needs, how each prospect fits into those needs and realistic draft positions. Well, below is my version of an answer to that question, in which I annually give out my list of favorite prospects at every position. A reminder of how this works:

    This is neither a list of the best players in the draft overall, nor guys I consider the best at each position. They're all good, and they're all going to be drafted, but they fit into a few separate categories. These are prospects whom I've: Allen has been my guy all along. I'm not backing down now. He has checked all the boxes to be the No. 1 overall pick, and he's a perfect fit as the Browns' developmental franchise quarterback. Remember: He doesn't have to start in 2018. Tyrod Taylor can be the short-term answer. Allen has all the talent in the world to be a superstar quarterback down the road.

    Chubb had a great college career, but teammate Sony Michel was better last season, and it looked like Chubb had lost some explosiveness after a severe knee injury in the middle of the 2015 season. Then Chubb went and lit up the combine, running a 4.52-second 40-yard dash with Womens Tyler Flowers Jersey a 38.5-inch vertical and 10-foot, 9-inch broad jump, and he really impressed scouts. This is a big, 227-pound back who's going to break tackles and find running lanes. There are questions about his hands, but I think he can be a three-down player. He'll be a value Womens Mikhail Sergachev Jersey pick on Day 2.
    Life can turn on the chance of a random gift. Goedert wouldn't have Clay Matthews Authentic Jersey made it to South Dakota State without Larson's repeated intervention. And if Goedert hadn't made it to South Dakota State, albeit an FCS school, he would never have stuck the one-handed catch that catapulted him into the national consciousness. He wouldn't have competed against FBS opponents such as Kansas and TCU. And, without a doubt, he would never, ever have become a projected first-round pick.
    Goedert could be the first tight end selected when the draft opens April 26. The team that takes him will get 256-pound tight end with 10-inch hands like Odell Beckham Jr. and an affinity for dramatic plays. It will also take on a unique character who rides a 6-foot unicycle for fun, is ready to bust out from small-town stereotypes and isn't opposed to wearing a leopard-print Snuggie to embarrass his sisters in public.
    "I like to bring the flair," he said. "Fans of the city I go to will like it. If people are wondering what they'll be getting, I'd say to think about how much fun and how much energy I'll bring."You can trace Goedert's elite receiving skills to the nighttime routine he began as an 8-year-old, when he would refuse to sleep until his stepfather, Gary Carlson, agreed to throw him footballs from his bedroom doorway.
    "A stalling tactic," his sister Megan said. Not so, said Goedert. I'd have him keep throwing me the ball," he said, "so I could do one-handed catches. That's where it all came from." Goedert showed up on the Brookings, South Dakota, campus in 2013 amid little fanfare. He redshirted his first year, then caught 34 passes over his next two seasons as he added 60 pounds. From the beginning, however, Goedert brought with him undeniable assets: big hands and a star's mindset in deploying them. To find gloves that fit, the school submitted a special order to Under Armour for size XXXL. With those mitts, attached to 34-inch arms on a 6-5 frame, Goedert could reach over any FCS defender.
    Never was that more apparent than on Sept. 10, 2016, when he swallowed up a 3-yard touchdown pass with his right hand while a 5-8 linebacker from Drake University pinned Goedert's left arm to his body. The high floater stuck on Goedert's fingers as if it were a Nerf ball. Instead of pulling it in, Goedert held the ball aloft -- and away from the defender -- as he fell to the ground.
    I have really big hands, but I try to use all of my fingers," Goedert said. "I feel like when the ball hits my hands, it sticks. A lot of the one-handed catches you see, people bring it to their body and don't completely catch it one-handed. I feel like I'm really good at ... being a hands-catcher. "That catch made people say, 'Whoa, who is this guy?' Is this a one-time deal or is he a good player?"
    The answer was clear as he neared the end of a 92-catch season. He was one of the most dominant skill players in FCS, with a body that was easy to project at the next level. NFL scouts, perpetually in search of mismatch opportunities, began showing up in Brookings. "The winter after that season," Stiegelmeier said, "a pro scout asked me, 'Is he going to leave early?' Well, everything here is small. I didn't know what he was talking about. You don't think about our players 'leaving early.' Then it dawned on me: Was he going to enter the draft?"
    Goedert opted to stay for his final season, and Stiegelmeier's assistants dug in to supplement their offense with plays that could maximize a tight end who had the advantage in any matchup. They Jamon Brown Authentic Jersey used him as an "X" receiver in the red zone. They studied how the Kansas City Chiefs deployed tight end Travis Kelce, adding a tight end shovel pass to the playbook. They even made plans to hand Goedert the ball as a true running back; as a junior, he had taken a handoff 17 yards for a touchdown against Southern Illinois. "One-on-one, he's super tough to guard," tight ends coach Luke Schleusner said. "And it's not just size; he has quick feet to go with it." cheap jerseys china wholesale jerseys from china wholesale jerseys cheap jerseys china wholesale jerseys from china wholesale jerseys cheap jerseys china wholesale jerseys from china

  • Conventional wisdom suggests Goedert will beDateThu Apr 19, 2018 6:41 am

    in play late in the first round and almost certainly off the board midway through the second. Who will take him? His pre-draft visits were scheduled to include the Jacksonville Jaguars, Minnesota Vikings, Miami Dolphins, Carolina Panthers, Detroit Lions, Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins.

    There is some lineage to consider, as well. Named "Dallas" by his biological father, a Cowboys fan, Goedert grew up rooting for the Green Bay Packers. The walls in his boyhood bedroom are painted a distinctive green, and a Brett Favre poster still hangs. Goedert long dreamed of playing in Green Bay and catching passes from Aaron Rodgers, but the Packers' decision to sign Jimmy Graham in free agency makes the connection unlikely.
    "The last few years, I thought it would be really cool to go play with Aaron Rodgers because he's one of the best and the way he can fling it," Goedert said. "But now I'll go anywhere. Any franchise that picks me up, I'll be more than happy to play for." He grinned wistfully as he mentioned Rodgers. For much of an hourlong conversation, though, he rarely cracked a smile. Goedert earned an operations management degree from South Dakota State's engineering school in December and responded to every question with a precisely formed answer.
    A fuller picture of the man awaited two hours north in Britton, a town with a stop sign at its center and "more cows than people," according to Goedert. There, his extended family -- mother Mary, stepfather Gary, sisters Emily and Megan and their husbands and children -- gathered to share stories about him."If you're too serious, Dallas can actually be annoying," Mary said. "He's not social until you get to know him, and then he's very funny."
    "My sides hurt after spending a day with him," Emily said. "Honestly, you laugh so much.""The big thing," Megan said, "is he's impatient. He likes to do things. He doesn't want to sit around all day." Much like his one-handed catches at bedtime, everything develops into a game. Part of the reason Goedert is a Packers fan, he admits, is to give him a competitive foil. Most of Britton, and South Dakota for that matter, is Vikings territory. "When the Vikings played, I would bet my buddy a pop," he said, using the Midwestern term for soda. "And if I was a Vikings fan, I wouldn't be able to bet him -- or anyone."
    Watching television? Let's do a push-up contest during commercials. Jumping on the trampoline? Let's play "500." Swimming? Let's race. When he was 8, Goedert set six state records in swimming. When informed that he had broken the previous records, the boy -- known for demolishing household objects during competitions -- burst into tears."Broke?" he said, according to his mother. "Is that bad?" There is much more laughing than crying around Goedert, though. A few years ago, his sisters made plans for an ice cream run. He asked them to wait a moment. Soon he emerged wearing a leopard-print Snuggie. "Just to embarrass us," Emily said.The costumes come out for unicycle expeditions, as well: clowns, cowboys and even the Incredible Hulk.
    Unicycles? Yes. The story of how Goeddert became a unicycle enthusiast goes back nearly 50 years, when Mary's father noticed C. J. Prosise Jersey one in a North Dakota parade and thought it would be fun for his family to try. Five of his daughters learned, including Mary, and when Goedert was old enough, his grandfather offered $50 to the first grandchild to learn. Goedert taught himself in a day, bracing the side of a wall until he felt balanced. Then he took off down the family's downhill driveway. There are no brakes on a unicycle, of course, so dismounting is perhaps the most difficult part. Essentially, you slow down and jump off Marcus Semien Youth jersey the front.
    "It's harder than a bicycle," Goedert said, "but once you learn it, it's the same thing as a bike. You don't forget how to do it. You figure out where your body position needs to be." A 17-year-old Dallas Goedert rides a six-foot unicycle in a local parade. Courtesy of the Goedert family
    Typically, Goedert Curtis Granderson Jersey opts for a 6-foot unicycle, the kind that makes parade onlookers gawk. He has no fear," Gary said.
    That extends to Goedert's plans. The kid from Britton is looking forward to life in a big(ger) city."Depending on what city I go to," he said, "there's a good chance I stay there, depending on if I like it. Just to explore the world more and to find a place to raise a family."His pending move is a reminder of the arbitrary nature of life. What if Carl Larson, a stranger most of Goedert's family has not met, had skipped that Milbank game five years ago? What if he had stopped with one call to Stiegelmeier? Goedert probably would have wound up at Northern State University, a Division II school in Aberdeen that hasn't had a player drafted in the NFL's modern era. Instead of preparing for the draft, Goedert would have been hoping -- at best -- to find work as a rookie free agent.
    "Life is full of things that just happen," Mary said. "I do think there is intervention or reasons that they happen. I don't know what would have happened for Dallas. He would have been successful at Northern. Would he have had the same success? Highly unlikely."As it turns out, Larson provided the best kind of gift. It was anonymous, without recognition or the expectation of reciprocation. For years, no one in Goedert's family even knew about it.
    "I was under the assumption that coaches find athletes," Gary said. "I kind of thought that's probably what happened and how he ended up at South Dakota State."It wasn't until years later that the parent of another player, who knew Larson, relayed the story. Larson, who recently moved to a congregation to Brainerd, Minnesota, waves off any responsibility for Goedert's football life."He would have been a star wherever he went," he said.But that's not always how life works. Sometimes, the cream needs a little shove while rising to the top. Dallas Goedert got a determined boost from a man he had never met. His football story began that night. The rest was up to him. Let it be a lesson for us all. cheap nfl jerseys wholesale nfl jerseys cheap jerseys cheap jerseys china cheap jerseys from china

  • SEATTLE -- Vita Vea's position coach at WashingtonDateWed Apr 18, 2018 2:49 am

    Ikaika Malloe, had seen the massive defensive tackle pull off all sorts of improbable athletic feats for over two seasons. So he was used to it when he saw Vea, covering a punt in his final college game, sprint some 40 yards to take down the returner with an open-field tackle.

    By that time, there's not really anything he can do to shock me anymore," Malloe told last month. "You kind of just shrug your shoulders and say, 'Yep, I'm not surprised by it.' He does things that normally people of his size should not be doing. But he does it with such ease that you take it for granted. You kind of get used to him doing those types of things. He's got footwork like a linebacker or even a DB. He can backpedal with the best of them and change direction and flip his hips. In the beginning, maybe a year ago ... that's kind of when I was in awe of things, just of what he can do and that type of stuff."
    Vea, a projected first-round pick in this year's NFL draft, showed during his three seasons at UW that he's much more than just an athletic marvel. He started 27 games and in 2017 was voted the Pac-12's defensive player of the year and the conference's top defensive lineman. His 9.5 career sacks are proof he possesses the pass-rush ability that can separate good defensive tackles from great ones.
    "When you're 6-4, almost 350 pounds and you have incredible strength and you've got unbelievable quickness for your size, that is a rare combination," ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said. "That's why he's drawing comparisons to Haloti Ngata. That's why I'm projecting him to go in the top part of the first round." Kiper and ESPN's Todd McShay each had Vea going No. 13 overall to the Washington Redskins in their dueling two-round mock. So just how freaky and dominant of an athlete is Vea? From outrunning a sprinter to Lawrence Timmons Authentic Jersey jumping as high as cornerbacks and more, here are some tales told by those who have coached him and those who have played with him.
    Vea's first sport was tennis, which he played in after-school programs while growing up in Santa Clara, California. He was too big to play Pop Warner because of the league's size restrictions, so his first real taste of football came at Milpitas High School, where he spent four years on varsity. He played all over the field for the Trojans, including running back -- he scored 11 touchdowns as a senior -- and even some Wildcat quarterback as a 6-4, 240-pound freshman.
    Kelly King, who coached Vea at Milpitas, on a play from his junior season: "We were down ready to score on the goal line against another team and the sprint champion from the other team [Delshawn Mitchell of Wilcox High School], we had fumbled the ball and he picked it up and was running down the sideline. Vita ran him down and caught him. The look in the guy's eye's that that guy had caught him was priceless. Unfortunately, we fumbled, but ... [Vea] probably tracked him down about 50 yards and caught him. ... He was the sprint champion of the league, so he was supposedly one of the fastest guys in the league, and he got caught from behind."
    BYU running back Squally Canada, a teammate of Vea's at Milpitas who was on the field during that play: "Vita had 150 pounds on him and not only that, Delshawn had like a 30-yard head start and Vita came across the field. That was probably the craziest thing I've ever seen Vita do in my life. ... It was a toss right, I dropped the pitch, got tackled ... Delshawn happened to pick it up and Vita was on the other side of the field, and I just remember looking down from the ground and I'm seeing Delshawn and the crowd cheering and what not. I'm like, 'Oh yeah, it's over. It's a touchdown.' Next thing you know, here comes Vita. He grabs him and just pushes him out of bounds. And it was one of those things like, we all looked at each other like, 'Did Vita just catch Delshawn Mitchell?' We looked and we started wondering, 'How fast is Vita?' That was the question ... At 6-4, 285, he just caught a known track star. It was crazy, man. It was one of those things you had to see and be there for."
    Vea ran the 40-yard dash in 5.1 seconds at the 2018 NFL scouting combine and suffered a strained hamstring in the process. His time ranked 11th among players listed as defensive tackles. The 10 times ahead of him, which ranged from 4.87 to 5.09, all came from players listed between 285 and 315 pounds. In other words, a bunch of significantly smaller defensive tackles ran slightly faster times.
    Malloe, on a play Vea made during a game against Cal: "He did some type of pass-rush move, he ended up on the back side of the play and chased the quarterback from the far hash to the far sideline. And that was pretty impressive. He was passing people by. If I showed you the clip and you watched it, and you watch the opponent's coaches as they just stared at him saying, 'I can't believe that dude just ran that far,' you kind of sit in awe of the type of stuff he can do."
    'I ain't never been hit like that in my life'
    Canada, then a junior, on squaring off with Vea in practice during Vea's senior season at Milpitas: "They had us doing the Oklahoma drills. I was over there with the safeties Dalton Pompey Authentic Jersey and corners, because I played safety as well. I was dominating because I was pretty big amongst the people that was normal sized. So he comes over there, and he's like, 'I want Brandon Carlo Authentic Jersey to run the ball, Coach. Let me run the ball.' And our safety coach was like, 'Yeah, come on. Go ahead.' So he steps out there and nobody steps in. Everybody's scared. So I was like, 'All right, whatever. I'll step in.' And I don't know what I got into, but this was one of the hardest hits I've ever taken. I stepped in and I go head-up with him, shoulder to shoulder. He runs me over, looks down at me and steps over me. I was just like, 'Man, I ain't never been hit like that in my life.'"

  • A decade of dominance as seen by the ace and DateTue Apr 17, 2018 6:56 am

    CLAYTON KERSHAW CRACKED open a window into the future on May 25, 2008. One minute, Vin Scully was introducing the television audience to the 2006 first-round MLB draft pick from Texas with the smooth cheeks and slight hesitation in his delivery. Thirty-two pitches later, Kershaw walked off the mound having struck out the side against the St. Louis Cardinals in the first inning of his major league debut.

    While the crowd of 46,566 at Dodger Stadium exulted in the possibilities, the fans had no idea how deeply the blips between, "Good morning, good afternoon and goodnight'' would resonate with Kershaw. A decade later, he recoils at the notion he made things look easy by whiffing Skip Schumaker, Ryan Ludwick and Troy Glaus in that Sunday matinee.

    "Yeah, and I walked the second guy and gave up a double to Pujols,'' he said. The box score is a testament to his annoyance. Kershaw walked Brian Barton on Alex Erickson Youth jersey four pitches before allowing a double to deep left-center by Albert Pujols for his first big league run. That is his biggest takeaway from the inning.
    Kershaw recovered from that indignity to go six strong, and he has encountered very few blips since. If he handed the ball to manager Dave Roberts after his Opening Day start this week and kept on walking, he would go straight to Cooperstown on the first ballot.
    Kershaw turned 30 years old March 19 and has three Cy Young Awards, an MVP, five ERA titles, four strikeout titles and seven straight All-Star Games on his résumé. He's paid like an ace, with three years and $98 million left on the mammoth contract extension he signed in 2014. Kershaw has to decide by November whether he'll exercise an opt-out clause in the deal. Based on his 21 1/3 scoreless innings and 23-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio in the Cactus League, he's not exactly stressing it.
    With his 10-year anniversary in the majors approaching, Kershaw talked to about his evolution as a pitcher and a professional. How did he get here, and how does he plan to maintain the level of performance he has established? The best pitcher in baseball and some fellow passengers on his journey reflect on the pivotal moments, revelations and attributes that have helped make Kershaw Kershaw.
    Kershaw's rookie year was a mixed bag. He logged a 4.26 ERA in 22 appearances and walked 52 batters in 107 1/3 innings. Command of the strike zone was a problem, and the issues spilled over into April 2009. After Kershaw got clobbered by the Astros and Rockies in back-to-back starts, manager Joe Torre and hitting coach Don Mattingly summoned him to Clayton Keller Authentic Jersey the office for some straight talk. "Joe and Donnie were in there and basically said, 'Look, if you're not throwing your curveball for a strike, you have one pitch,'" Kershaw said. "They told me, 'You need to figure something out.'"
    Kershaw has always found spinning a ball more natural than mastering the arm speed and grip required to make a changeup work. Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt showed him a slider grip, and he began tinkering with input from bullpen catcher Mike Borzello. In 2009, he threw the slider about 7 percent of the time. Last year, his slider usage was a whopping 35 percent. Among elite big league pitchers, only Tampa Bay's Chris Archer made more liberal use of the pitch.
    "The curveball was working well, but it wasn't a pitch you could call," said Mark Sweeney, a member of the 2008 Dodgers. "It was so nasty, it was a swing-and-miss pitch, but you couldn't drop it in for a strike. It had so much depth to it, but it had that arc to it where you weren't going to get the call. And a lot of hitters tried to stay off it because they couldn't do much with it. The slider really was the separator. That took him to a different level."
    'The hitters will tell you what you need to Ales Hemsky Womens Jersey do'
    Kershaw's pitch usage through the years reflects his ability to read situations and adjust. His fastball usage peaked at 72 percent in 2009 and gradually declined to 47 percent in 2017. Even with 2,057 innings' worth of big league wear on his arm, Kershaw's velocity has held firm at a tick under 93 mph. But he threw fastballs last year at the same rate as Jason Vargas, whose 85.6 mph was the slowest in the majors by a pitcher not Claude Giroux Jersey named R.A. Dickey. "None of this is on purpose,'' Kershaw said. "It's just a matter of what's working -- what you feel like you need to do to get guys out. I never go into a season thinking I'm going to use a certain pitch one way or the other. The hitters will tell you what you need to do.
    Through time, Kershaw has discovered that a well-placed fastball complemented by an 88 mph slider and a 73 mph curveball can bring success even with negligible use of a changeup. His two breaking balls live in blissful harmony and complement each other wonderfully. Lefty hitters have a .190/.243/.308 career slash line against him. Righties are only a tad less overwhelmed, at .210/.266/.306. "Two completely different grips," Kershaw said of the slider and curve. "Two completely different thought processes, so that really helps me to differentiate between the two. I have to have both of them. I can't just live off one or the other. I have to have both.",103902

  • Edmunds brothers ready to graduate from VirginiaDateTue Apr 17, 2018 2:57 am

    There's a story Cookie Edmunds likes to tell about her youngest son's first taste of football. She was watching Tremaine Edmunds toddle around along the sideline of a Pee-Wee game Homer Bailey Jersey that featured his two older brothers. He loved the action, and after watching a few plays, he found his mother and offered a proclamation. "I can't wait to play football," he told her, "so I can knock somebody's head off."

    That proved to be a pretty accurate prediction for how Tremaine Edmunds' football career would unfold, from stardom in high school to a career at Virginia Tech that saw him emerge as one of the most fearsome defenders in the country. Now, some 15 years after telling his mother of his plans for the future, Edmunds is about to reach the pinnacle -- a likely first-round draft pick and potentially the first linebacker off the board, according to ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr.

    "It just shows you how long I've been working and how long I've been wanting this," Edmunds said. "Now, getting to this stage, it means so much to me." Of course, the anecdote also captures the other part of Lorenzen Wright Jersey what has defined Edmunds' career. His older brothers, Trey and Terrell, were the ones on the field that day. Years later, the three would be on the field together at Virginia Tech. The past two years, Terrell and Tremaine have been the anchors of the Hokies' defense together. (Terrell is a year older, but each had a year of eligibility remaining.)
    And now, with Terrell projected as a midround selection, the odds are all three will be on an NFL roster when the new season begins this fall. Even in a football-obsessed household, that seems a bit surreal, Tremaine said. "It's really crazy," he said. "We've all dreamed of it, and now here we are. We're blessed and thankful for the opportunity, but we're going to compete. That's for sure." Trey played running back for the Hokies and Maryland, and while he wasn't drafted out of college, he Womens Daniel Alfredsson Jersey caught on with the Saints last season and played in all 16 games.
    Terrell blossomed into one of the ACC's top safeties at Virginia Tech, racking up nearly 150 tackles over the past two seasons. Then there's Tremaine, who at 6-foot-5, 253 pounds, emerged as a legitimate star, finishing last season with 109 tackles, including 14 for a loss. "I always knew I was a big-time player, and I'm glad other people are seeing that, as well," Tremaine said. That made Tremaine's decision to leave Virginia Tech early an easy one. Terrell said he was confident doing the same. And while both had some pangs of guilt, passing up one last chance to play together, they insist that didn't factor into their ultimate choice.
    The past few months have been a whirlwind, and the brothers haven't seen nearly enough of each other. Tremaine was headed back to Virginia Tech's campus earlier this week to unwind a bit. They have plans, however, to all be in Arlington, Texas, together -- along with Cookie and their father, Ferrell, who also enjoyed a distinguished NFL career -- for the draft. Tremaine's name will be called first, and the family is eager to celebrate together. Terrell said he's still hoping to upstage his brother with a fresher look; they've been shopping for the right suit. At some point in the weekend, Terrell's name will be called, too, and then things will be forever changed.
    Odds are, there will be three Edmunds brothers on three different teams, and for a family that has always been close and always bonded over football, that's a big transition. But it's also a big opportunity -- one they've been waiting a long time to enjoy. "It's going to be crazy, but also an exciting moment," Terrell said. "Playing against your brothers at the highest level possible, going out and talking a bunch of junk to them, doing what you've done your entire life but doing it on a national stage, that's what it's all about."
    For some players, their number is like their identity and they'll keep it throughout their career. If a number is already taken by someone on their new team, it's customary to work out a deal for it, whether that means paying for it or donating to the charity of the player's choice. While some are willing to pay whatever it takes to get their old number back, others such as new Raiders receiver Jordy Nelson don't feel the same. Nelson said in an interview that he wasn't even going to pay a dollar to get No. 87 back from former Packers teammate Jared Cook. He went with No. 82.
    Some players have to switch because the numbers they want have been retired. Packers tight end Jimmy Graham is switching back to No. 80, which he wore with the Saints, as the No. 88 he wore with the Seahawks was retired in Green Bay. Other players must switch numbers coming out of college because the NFL has different rules than the NCAA regarding what positions are allowed to wear certain numbers.
    Here are some of the numbers of the players who switched teams this offseason via trade or free Freddie Hamilton Jersey agency. Some numbers have not been made official yet because they are subject to change after the draft. cheap jerseys china cheap jerseys free shipping cheap jerseys wholesale nfl jerseys cheap nfl jerseys wholesale jerseys wholesale nfl jerseys cheap nfl jerseys

  • You wouldn't like Eddie Butler when he's angryDateMon Apr 16, 2018 6:46 am

    reenbrier Christian Academy, in Virginia, was playing nearby Bishop Sullivan. Emotions were running high. Several pro scouts were in the stands to watch Greenbrier senior right-hander Eddie Butler. Instead of trying to impress those who had a say in his future, Butler wanted some revenge.

    “This kid just kept running his mouth the whole time,” Butler recently recalled of the 2009 game. “He ran his mouth in the fall and ran his mouth all winter. He went to a rival school. So I hit him on purpose. We cleared benches. A couple guys got ejected.”It wouldn’t be the first or last time emotion overcame Butler. Now a member of the Chicago Cubs bullpen, Butler admits he had -- or even has -- an “anger problem.” In fact, he’s still trying to overcome it -- or at least put it in its place.

    “I did it this spring training,” Butler said. “I had a bad inning. Threw my glove against the bench then kicked it under the bench.”The irony is Butler might be the last guy on Mario Edwards Jr Womens Jersey the Cubs you would think has a short fuse. Usually there’s a smile on his face, but underneath it all, he has struggled to maintain control.“He would get in trouble for doing stupid stuff,” Eddie’s dad, Tim Butler, said via a phone interview. “But he would give everything up just to go to baseball. We took everything else away from him. He lost his TV in his room. He would have to go to bed right after dinner and no friends. But he got to go to practice.”Eddie Authentic Justise Winslow Jersey summed it up: “I used to hold things in, hold things in, then explode.”
    A day in middle school provided quite the scene.“I got angry and Authentic Steve Grogan Jersey yelled at a girl in the middle of class and got suspended,” Butler said. “That’s when my parents sat me down and said, ‘Look, you need to get this under control.’ It was either losing baseball or stop hanging out with friends and no TV and stuff. I chose baseball.”It was a good choice, as Butler was eventually drafted in the first round by Colorado after attending Radford University. Before spring training in 2017, he was traded to the Cubs for James Farris, who has since retired.
    Baseball should have been his release. Instead, it only fueled his anger, especially when things didn’t go his way. Fortunately, the thrown bats, kicked gloves and punched water coolers never resulted in real harm -- for himself or his teammates.“You would see him do that stuff, but I think it was just a maturing thing,” said teammate Tyler Chatwood, who played with Butler in the Rockies system. “He was pretty young, getting called up. He’s been able to mature.”
    "We were in a conference championship game, and he pitched two days earlier. He wanted to close out the championship game. His velocity was way up when he came in. He stepped it up a notch and blew them away. I saw him use his emotions to help himself."Gary Lavelle, Eddie Butler's high school coach
    While Butler has grown on the mound, his past actions earned him a reputation across baseball -- for better or worse.
    “The Cubs were aware,” Cubs president Theo Epstein said. “The industry was aware.” Maybe that’s because of those scouts in the stands the day Butler hit a high school kid on purpose, leading to that brawl. One of those scouts in attendance worked for the Cubs.“There were three scouts there that day, and I was one of them,” Cubs area scout Billy Swoope said. “I don’t know how to say this, but it kind of perked me up a little bit. I was like, ‘OK, this guy doesn’t fool around.’ It kind of intrigued me about him to the point where I wanted to sign him out of high school.”
    Yes, Butler’s anger problem actually made Swoope take notice of him, but taking out frustrations on equipment isn’t usually viewed as a positive.“I’d throw a bat or helmet and accidentally hit a guy on my team, and I’d feel like an idiot,” Butler said. “I’d have to go apologize to them for getting mad and slamming something down and hitting someone else. ... Then I’d be yelling at umpires, doing all kinds of stupid stuff like throwing at the other team and punching coolers. I punched a wall once.”
    Butler didn’t have to be reminded that the wall never loses in those battles. Epstein was quick to point out that many players show their anger in the moment; it can happen after a bad at-bat or poorly pitched ball -- or, in Epstein’s experience, in the office.“There were times when you have to release a guy, and you want a big body in the room,” he said with a half-smile.
    Fortunately, Butler was good enough to advance in baseball even as his anger got the best of him at times, but he didn’t exactly light the world on fire with the Rockies and is still finding his way with the Cubs. He surprised even himself with his performance in a 17-inning marathon in the second game of the season, when he threw seven stellar innings in relief -- all in extras.
    “Pitching with your back against the wall was kind of cool,” Butler said. “I was surprised with how well I handled it. I didn’t let it get to me too much. I threw my best game I ever threw in the big leagues. ... I wasn’t sure how I would respond to one pitch forcing the game to be over. I didn’t think about it once I left the bullpen. He actually suffered the loss against the Marlins, but only after Brandon Morrow gave up the winning hit while Butler was looking on from the dugout. Did that infuriate him?
    “No,” Butler said with a chuckle. “I wanted to win that game, but I pitched well. I wasn’t mad.”His defenders -- such as his parents and perhaps even Swoope -- will say the anger comes from his being overly competitive. Butler allows for that notion but also understands that he has to stay in control.“It actually fizzled out in baseball more than off the field,” Butler said. “Things would aggravate me and stay with me all day.”His mom remembers one incident in particular.“We had an unattached garage,” Monica recalled. “He was on his four-wheeler. Dad got on him about something, and he had a little bit of an attitude. When Justin Coleman Authentic Jersey he came around the back of the garage, the door was closed, and he ran the four-wheeler right into the door and tore it all up. A brand new door. He told us he hit he garage door not because his attitude, but because the brakes weren’t working. He had to replace the cost with doing chores around the house.”

  • Philadelphia 76ers All-Star center Joel Embiid has missed the last seven games after suffering an orbital bone fracture following an on-court collision with teammate Markelle Fultz on March 28. When he returns to the court -- likely in the first round of the Sixers' playoff Authentic Quintin Demps Jersey series against the Miami Heat -- Embiid will don a face mask, joining a handful of recent NBA stars who suffered facial injuries and were forced to wear protective gear.

    Embiid showed off a dramatic black mask on the sideline at the Sixers' home finale Wednesday night and leveraged the situation in his Jason Williams Jersey favor on social media -- as he has done in almost every scenario this season -- by posting a self-deprecating Instagram photo. TORONTO -- April 18, 2015, was a glorious early-spring day in downtown Toronto, sunny and reasonably warm. Thousands of Toronto Raptors fans had packed into Maple Leaf Square to watch a massive screen on the side of Air Canada Centre, the fulfillment of an urban planner's dream.

    Just after noon, Masai Ujiri stepped onto a temporary stage wearing one of his trademark form-fitting dark suits and was handed a live microphone. The Raptors' general manager and team executives were anxious to show off the admirable scene with a special guest who'd flown in for the kickoff of the playoffs, NBA commissioner Adam Silver. In the elevator on the way, Silver joked about when Ujiri had gotten up on the same stage a year before and screamed "F--- Brooklyn" to fans' joy just before the Raptors opened the playoffs against the Brooklyn Nets. But the Nets won the game, with Paul Pierce making a jumper to ice it, and Silver fined Ujiri $25,000 for his language.
    They all laughed at the memory. This time, of course, everyone would behave and the improved Raptors were going to handle the Washington Wizards in Game 1. Who cared that Pierce, now with the Wizards, had waved off the Raptors by saying they didn't have the "it" factor? Look at the scene; this was "it." "The atmosphere in Toronto for playoff games is incredible; what you see on TV doesn't do it justice," Pierce said, looking back. "You have to be there to feel it.
    "But you know, nobody respected the Raptors, even on their home court. If you got the Raptors in the playoffs, it was nothing to fear. It was a matchup I always wanted." There it is. Harsh and plain. And the losses keep happening. Game 1 has been a demon the Raptors cannot shake. It has gone from nuisance to unexplainable to unacceptable. The Raptors' Game 1 losing streak is at 10. More confounding is they're 0-6 at home. Six Game 1 defeats in front of that relentless crowd when they have had the higher seed and the alleged advantage.
    In their history, the Raptors are a depressing 1-12 in Game 1s. But the current core that has been in Toronto since it made its first appearance in six years in 2014 -- Lowry, DeRozan, Jonas Valanciunas and coach Dwane Casey -- are 0-7 in Game 1s. Five of them have taken place in their beloved building. And it haunts them. It must be said that three times in the past two seasons, the Raptors have recovered from Game 1 losses to win the series. But the added stress seemed to affect them in the next round.
    The Raptors have just finished the greatest regular season in their history, winning the No. 1 seed and 59 games. They have built a deep and flexible roster that can withstand injuries, bend to an opponent's strengths and reduce the burden to keep their stars fresher for the postseason. They will have Game 1 at home as long as they're alive in the East playoffs.And they will carry the weight of the CN Tower on their backs when they host the Wizards on Saturday to try to end this splitting headache.
    "We have to take advantage. We have to," Lowry said. "Game 1 will be the most important game for us. We haven't talked about it much in the past, but this year it's going to be an emphasis, at least, my personal emphasis." In 2006, the No. 3-seed Raptors were favored against the New Jersey Nets. It was a "red out," and all fans were given red T-shirts for the effect. But no one told the Nets, who wore their red alternate road jerseys so they looked and felt like the home team. Played like it, too. They won Game 1 and the series.
    In 2016, Lowry made a miraculous shot at the buzzer from just inside half court to force overtime against the Miami Heat in Game 1 at home. Were there no bars in front of all the rows in the upper deck, fans might've toppled onto the court. The scene in Maple Leaf Square -- aka Jurassic Park in the playoffs -- resembled a mosh pit."It's just crushing when you lose at home in Game 1," said Raptors season-ticket holder Jamie Schacter, who has owned seats in the first row since 1995. "When we get the early game, we cringe. Basketball players, and the Raptors especially, it seems, play better at night."On Saturday, the Raptors will have to deal with yet another 5:30 p.m. start.
    But it may be simpler than that. Lowry and DeRozan have had some miserable Game Daniel Winnik Jersey 1s. In the 2014 loss to Brooklyn, they combined to shoot 11-of-31. They were worse the next season against Washington. When Lowry hit the miracle shot against Miami in 2016, it was a part of a 3-of-13 shooting night. In a 2016 Game 1 loss to the Indiana Pacers, Lowry and DeRozan were 8-of-32 from the field. In the 2016 conference finals against Cleveland in Game 1, Lowry was 4-of-14. Last season in their Game 1 loss to the Bucks, Lowry was 2-for-11. In Game 1 against the Cavs in Cleveland in 2017, DeRozan's plus/minus was minus-32. wholesale nfl jerseys cheap nfl jerseys cheap jerseys wholesale nfl jerseys wholesale jerseys wholesale jerseys

  • I've said throughout this 2018 NFL draft process that I believe Sam Darnold is the best quarterback in this class. Miro Heiskanen Jersey But that's just my opinion. I know Louis Riddick likes Baker Mayfield and Mel Kiper has Josh Allen as his No. 1 signal-caller. That lack of consensus is representative of conversations I've had with NFL personnel evaluators, and it's why I think this is the most interesting QB class in 19 years of evaluating the NFL draft.

    How does this year's crop compare to quarterbacks taken in the first round since 2008? Let's take a look. Below are my grades and excerpts from my scouting reports for every first-round QB over the last decade, along with the grades for the top five guys -- Darnold, Allen, Josh Rosen, Mayfield and Lamar Jackson -- in this class. These are in order of highest grade (Andrew Luck) to lowest (EJ Manuel). Note: The "as a prospect" blurbs are how we viewed each player coming out of college. The grades are from my final evaluations before they were drafted.

    As a prospect: "There's no such thing as a can't-miss prospect, but Luck has everything you're looking for in a quarterback. In terms of physical tools, he has a prototypical frame, strong arm and above-average pocket mobility. In terms of his football intelligence, he has a strong understanding of how to run an offense and he makes sound decisions on the field. Finally, there's no question about his ability to step into an NFL huddle and take charge of it."
    In the NFL: It has been a mixed bag for Luck, who has made three Pro Bowls and threw for 4,761 yards and 40 TDs (only 16 INTs) in the 2014 season. He has played in only 22 games over the past three seasons, though, and missed all of 2017 with a shoulder injury.
    As a prospect: "Matt Ryan doesn't have the arm strength of a JaMarcus Russell, and he isn't a dynamic open-field runner, but he is clearly the most NFL-ready quarterback in this year's draft class. He has better-than-average arm strength, he's accurate and he understands the game. A lot has been made of the amount of interceptions he threw during his senior season at Boston College, but it's important to remember
    that he didn't have a strong receiving corps and that BC put Reggie Jackson Authentic Jersey the ball in the air far more often in 2007 than Womens Rico Gathers Jersey in years past." In the NFL: Ryan has a 95-63 record as a starter and has missed only two starts since being drafted. He has been named to three Pro Bowls, one All-Pro Team (2016), won an MVP ('16) and outside of a historic meltdown should have a Super Bowl title to his name.
    As a prospect: "Winston is one of the best prospects we've evaluated the last 10 years at the skills that translate to the NFL level, including making pro-style reads, going through progressions and throwing with anticipatory accuracy. He is also a good on-field leader. The concern with him has to do with his off-field behavioral and maturity issues." In the NFL: Winston's career has been a bit disappointing so far, with 69 TDs to 44 INTs and a record of 18-27. He made the Pro Bowl his rookie season, but the Bucs haven't made the playoffs yet under his guidance.
    As a prospect: "There are concerns about the system Bradford played in at OU and the season-ending shoulder injury he suffered last year, but we still think he's an excellent value here. His shoulder has clearly healed and his arm may be even stronger than it was before the surgery. We also believe he has the mental aptitude to make a successful transition to the NFL." In the NFL: Bradford has always been extremely talented -- and extremely injury prone. Now with his fourth team (Arizona), he has started only 80 games in his career.
    As a prospect: "The two things that set RG III and Luck apart are concerns about RG III's durability and how long it will take for him to transition to more of a pro-style offense. While there are concerns about the pro-style offense, he's done it enough in college that you know he'll be successful in the NFL. If Luck is 1, then RG III is 1A. In fact, he has an even stronger arm and he moves just as well. If he stays healthy, he'll be the quarterback Washington so desperately needed and well worth the picks they gave up to get him." In the NFL: Griffin was incredible as a rookie, leading the Redskins to the playoffs and throwing 20 TDs to five INTs. But after his injury he went 5-15 as a starter in Washington and was inactive the entire 2015 season. He signed with Cleveland in 2016, was out of football in 2017 and recently signed on as a backup with the Baltimore Ravens.
    As a prospect: "Sanchez doesn't have as much arm strength or the same body of work as Matt Stafford, but on the other hand teams have fallen in love with his intangibles and accuracy during the offseason. There's a lot to like about his pocket presence and ability to elude the rush. We are Authentic Dan Marino Jersey concerned about rushing him into the starting lineup, but if any of this year's quarterback prospects have the mental toughness to learn on the fly Sanchez is the one." In the NFL: Sanchez led the Jets to two straight AFC Championship Games, but it was downhill after that. He has been a backup since 2014 with Philadelphia, Dallas and now Chicago.

  • Six of the most dramatic nights inDateSat Apr 14, 2018 2:40 am

    The almost shocking conclusion to what Womens Dontae Johnson Jersey had been a notable Juventus recovery against Real Madrid at the Bernabéu has not only divided opinion – it was a penalty all day long, one could only admire the stealth with which Medhi Benatia administered his shove in the back of Lucas Vázquez and the bravery of Michael Oliver for punishing it – but has also inspired much talk of the evening being one of the most dramatic in Authentic Menelik Watson Jersey the history of the European Cup and Champions League. However the latter stages of the competition have frequently produced controversy, spectacle and drama. Here are six other notable European nights to consider.

    Comebacks do not come any more unexpected or spellbinding than this. Call it the greatest of escapes, the miracle of Istanbul or just the ultimate games of two halves but the fact is the first half was so embarrassingly one-sided that some Liverpool supporters are said to have attempted to leave the stadium during the interval, only to find the gates locked. Cue a little tactical adjustment by Rafa Benítez, who brought on Didi Hamann for the second half, and heroic performances by Steven Gerrard and Jerzy Dudek, and Liverpool recovered a three-goal deficit, negotiated extra-time and then won on penalties. Unforgettable.

    Almost certainly the height of European injustice, as the Norwegian referee Tom Henning Øvrebø waved away four reasonable Chelsea penalty appeals before a 90th-minute goal from Andrés Iniesta swept Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona into the final with their only shot on target. One of the most memorable images of the night was Michael Ballack sprinting half the length of the pitch while remonstrating with Womens Karlos Dansby Jersey the hapless official, before Didier Drogba’s sweary rant to the camera at full-time earned him a five-match ban. Øvrebø apologised some years later but it was far too late to earn Guus Hiddink the shot at Manchester United in Rome he so craved.
    Barcelona were at the height of their supremacy under Guardiola in 2010 but Inter arrived at the Camp Nou with a 3-1 lead from the first leg. The visitors soon went down to 10 men when Thiago Motta was dismissed in the first half but what followed was a defensive masterclass, more organisation than improvisation, as Inter virtually abandoned attack to concentrate their resources on stopping Barcelona from scoring again. This was peak José Mourinho who, after outwitting Guardiola while short-handed, was presented with few problems by Louis van Gaal’s Bayern Munich in the final. Perennial underachievers in Europe, Inter had suddenly landed the treble of the Serie A title, Coppa Italia and Champions League.
    A 10-goal final certainly sounds dramatic, even if the distribution of goals suggests the showpiece might have been a tad one-sided. In Britain at least, this felt like it was the moment when the European Cup came of age, when the scales fell from insular eyes and the attraction of continental competition was suddenly grasped. The final provided royal entertainment for an immense Hampden Park crowd of 127,621, an audience that seemingly included – just like the Sex Pistols at the Free Trade Hall or the Velvet Underground’s first Alex Iafallo Jersey LP – a great many people who would later be inspired to achievements of their own. If this was football, Britain wanted more.
    Strange as it might seem now, it came as news to the nation at large to discover there was something intoxicatingly special about European nights at Anfield. Liverpool under Bob Paisley were breaking new ground – in Bill Shankly’s time the club had never been synonymous with European success – and when the French champions scored an away goal the home side needed two more to progress. Thanks in part to a hugely partisan crowd, Ray Kennedy and David “supersub” Fairclough they got them, though knowing what we know now the most arresting sight of the evening was the spilling, seething, all-standing Kop. cheap nfl jerseys cheap nfl jerseys wholesale nfl jerseys from china wholesale jerseys cheap nfl jerseys cheap nfl jerseys wholesale nfl jerseys from china

  • Trading down for a load of draft capital in 1999DateFri Apr 13, 2018 8:22 am

    Robert Griffin III was the most anticipated draft pick in franchise history, but the most memorable moment came when the Redskins were the recipients of a bold (or dumb?) move by New Orleans, which traded eight picks to Washington for the fifth overall choice in the 1999 draft. The Redskins used that draft capital to move back into the first round, drafting corner Champ Bailey at No. 7 -- the player they wanted all along. Washington then used its future bounty from New Orleans to select three-time second-team All-Pro linebacker LaVar Arrington at No. 2 in the 2000 draft, then to trade up to get six-time Pro Bowl tackle Chris Samuels at No. 3. -- John Keim

    Most believed that the Bears would draft a quarterback last year, but few -- if any -- foresaw them doing so in the top three. The Bears' pursuit of Trubisky was so clandestine that virtually no one inside their own building -- outside of general manager Ryan Pace and a handful of his top lieutenants -- knew Chicago planned to select Trubisky, who had started only 13 games at North Carolina, until the exact moment the Bears turned in their official draft card. -- Jeff Dickerson
    It led to a decade's worth of jokes about Detroit always taking receivers in the first round of the draft. Of those four receivers, Charles Rogers and Mike Williams were gigantic busts, Roy Williams was OK and then Calvin Johnson became one of the best players in franchise history before retiring in his prime at age 30. It's brought up because of who Detroit could have picked in their places: Andre Johnson or Terence Newman in 2003, DeAngelo Hall or Ben Roethlisberger in 2004, then DeMarcus Ware in 2006. Even though it has been a decade, thinking of taking a receiver in the first round still causes a segment of the fan base to shudder. -- Michael Rothstein
    Ted Thompson knew that at some point he would be charged with finding the next Brett Favre. He had no idea that he'd get that chance in his first-ever draft as the Packers general manager in 2005. Still, Thompson did his due diligence, studying the top quarterbacks on the off chance one became available when he picked at No. 24. But with one of the top two QBs sure to go to the 49ers at No.
    1, Thompson recalled in an interview last year: "There's only two. How is either of them going to get to us? And the one we want, how is he going to get to us?" Just days before the draft, it looked like the 49ers would take Rodgers, and that would be that as far as the Packers were concerned. But when San Francisco picked Alex Smith and Rodgers' draft free fall began, it was a no-brainer to Thompson to take the quarterback who would successfully follow Favre. -- Rob Demovsky
    In 2002, Minnesota was on the clock in the first round when the Chiefs beat them to a trade with the Cowboys to land defensive tackle Ryan Sims with the sixth overall pick. The Vikings ended up with offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie, which worked out well, but issues arose with the clock the following year, leading them to miss out on yet another player they wanted. In 2003, Jacksonville and Carolina,
    who were drafting seventh and eighth respectively, took advantage of Minnesota failing to make a pick while on the clock, leaving the Vikings to select defensive tackle Kevin Williams ninth overall. Both McKinnie and Williams went on to become Pro Bowlers, so the Vikings might have gotten the last laugh in the long run, but that time management snafu is one of the more memorable gaffes in draft history. -- Courtney Cronin
    The Falcons traded away five draft picks to the Browns -- including the 27th overall pick that year -- to select the game-changing wide receiver. The Browns also picked up the Falcons' second- and fourth-round picks in that draft and first- and fourth-round picks in 2012. "It took me by surprise," Jones said immediately following the trade. "I feel like they have AJ McCarron Jersey a lot of trust in me. I'm not going to disappoint."
    Jones, with four consecutive seasons of 1,400-plus yards, is arguably the most dangerous threat in the game -- when healthy. And although some criticize the Falcons for voiding themselves of some depth, general manager Thomas Dimitroff never publicly expressed regret even though friend Bill Belichick advised him not to make Akiem Hicks Jersey the trade, according to author Michael Holley in his book "War Room." -- Vaughn McClure
    This one gets overlooked among the selections of Julius Peppers second overall in 2002 and Cam Newton first overall in 2011. But in 2007, the Panthers traded their first- (No. 14) and sixth-round picks to the Jets in exchange for New York's first-, second- and fifth-round picks. They got linebacker Jon Beason at No. 25 and center Ryan Kalil at No. 59 in the second round. Beason went on to become a three-time
    Pro Bowl selection and Kalil a five-time Pro Bowl selection. Beason was a mainstay in the lineup until an Achilles injury ended his 2011 season. And then, of course, the Panthers took Luke Kuechly in the first round of the 2012 draft and the rest is history with him. But Kalil will go down as one of the greatest offensive linemen in team history, if not the greatest. -- David Newton

  • Boone, Cora scout each other's rosters as YanksDateThu Apr 12, 2018 6:34 am

    BOSTON -- Fans here don't think much anymore about the home run Aaron Boone tucked just inside Yankee Stadium's left-field foul pole in October 2003. The Boston Red Sox, after all, have won three World Series since then, including putting an end to their so-called curse a year after that American League Championship Series defeat. But in New York, it's a different story. Virtually anywhere Boone has gone in the Big Apple during the 15 years following his 11th-inning walk-off that put the New York Yankees in another World Series, a stranger has had a story to tell him.

    Just this past Sunday morning, on his way to the Bronx for the series finale against the Orioles, Boone, now the Yankees' manager, listened patiently as his Uber driver giddily recalled a bloody mess he made of himself the night of Game 7. "He jumped over something and he cut his arm and stuff," Boone says, grinning. "He was pretty fired up." Starting Tuesday night, Boone and his fellow first-year manager, Boston's Alex Cora, will attempt to keep their emotions in check as they battle for the first time in 2018. Ahead of the three-game set at Fenway, we caught up with the managers and former ESPN broadcasters to get their take on each other's teams, and on what they believe they'll bring to the old rivalry in their new roles.

    When the Astros -- with Cora as the team's bench coach -- visited Miami last May, Giancarlo Stanton was in the midst of a 14-game homerless stretch, the longest drought Jamie Oleksiak Authentic Jersey of his MVP season. He was particularly quiet Prince Amukamara Jersey against the Astros, going 2-for-9 with one double, two walks and four strikeouts. But as Cora watched a Marlins game on television later in the season, he noticed Stanton had changed his mechanics at the plate.
    "I know he made an adjustment with his front leg," Cora says, referring to Stanton moving his front foot closer to the plate than his back foot, making his swing more compact while maintaining his power. "I think he's more disciplined on the inside part of the plate now, and that's why he's been able to cover the plate more because he's been disciplined.
    "We've got to wait and see which Stanton we get [this] week. These guys, they change a lot. For how great they are, they have their weeks that they're aggressive, Timmy Jernigan Authentic Jersey others they're passive and others they're hitting home runs. Hopefully we get the aggressive ones. Obviously he's very talented. It's going to be very difficult, we know that. But I think you take a look at our [starting pitching] staff
    and it's a pretty good one, too. You've got to be ready, but we feel that we have the pitching to compete with them." Stanton enters this series having gone 3-for-28 (.107) with 16 strikeouts in the Yankees' six-game homestand. He recorded two five-strikeout games this past week, drawing boos from the home crowd. As enticing as the Green Monster must have looked to Aaron Judge during his superhuman rookie season, it wound up having the effect of an emerald-colored wall of Kryptonite.
    Judge homered in his first at-bat against the Red Sox last April 26 -- his birthday Ha Ha Clinton-Dix Authentic Jersey -- at Fenway Park. He didn't go deep again until his second-to-last at-bat there -- 86 plate appearances later -- on Sept. 3. Overall, he was 11-for-73 with two homers and 30 strikeouts against the Sox, who attacked him with elevated fastballs and cutters. Thirty-one percent of the pitches Judge saw from Boston were in the upper-third of the strike zone, according to ESPN Stats & Information, and he batted .097 and slugged .194 against those pitches.
    But while pitching coach Dana LeVangie, the lone holdover from last year's coaching staff, figures to tap into that successful scouting report, Cora won't assume the Red Sox have solved the riddle of Judge. "For whatever people think, he has his holes, but this guy controls the strike zone," Cora says. "He does an outstanding job of not expanding. At that stage of the playoffs, it's different and the stuff he was seeing [from the 2017 Astros] was tough. But he's a complete player.
    "You know what really got my attention about Judge? The way he plays defense. He won one of the [ALCS] games defensively -- he robbed a home run, he got a ball in the gap. He's a great athlete. He can do a lot of stuff. He picks his spots running the bases. He's more of a complete player than what people think. He reminds me of [Green Bay Packers tight end] Jimmy Graham. He's that type of athlete. If he wanted to, he could be a tight end in the NFL."
    Tanaka and Martinez will see each other again this week when the righty Tanaka pitches Wednesday. In barely two weeks with his new team, Martinez has already doubled, tripled and homered for the Red Sox. Boone and Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild are well aware of the big-fly potential Martinez possesses. They know 34-year-old vet Hanley Ramirez has that same capability, too -- "He's already got a couple big hits for them," Boone says of Ramirez.
    But Boone's biggest concern is how dangerous Boston is once it gets runners on base ahead of Ramirez and Martinez in the heart of the order."It's a very athletic team," Boone says. "Kind of different than the old-school Red Sox that will kind of bash you to death. This is a team that's really athletic on defense and on the bases.

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