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It’s a Monday edition of #PFTPM Nicklas Backstrom Jersey , and this one has a full hour with one of the key NFL decision makers. Colts G.M. Chris Ballard joined me for a one-hour, wide-ranging conversation about the Colts, his football journey, and much more. You can hear it all below, although if you’d simply subscribe to the podcast would wouldn’t have to come here to get it. (I’m not being complete altruistic on this; if you subscribe, it helps us, too.) So help both of us by subscribing to the podcast, by rating the podcast, and by reviewing the podcast. You can do it while listening to Monday’s podcast, which includes four codes for free downloads of the new Madden video game. They’re probably long gone by now Alex Ovechkin Jersey Kids , however, because someone who subscribes to the podcast already has surely squatted on them. Coach Bill O’Brien kept his job despite Houston’s 4-12 finish and looks to be returning for next season. His status beyond that is far less certain. O’Brien, who has one season left on his contract, was asked repeatedly on Tuesday if he’ll be with the Texans next season and if he’s been offered a contract extension. He never refused comment, but avoided answering the questions directly with the skill of a veteran politician. ”These are things that are being discussed,” he said when asked if he’ll coach the team next season. ”I feel like I will be here in 2018, but again, these are ongoing discussions that maybe we can clarify with you guys, maybe, at a later date. I’m sure we will Cam Fowler Jersey , but this is where it’s at right now.” When asked if he’d like to sign an extension, he again refused to give a direct answer, instead talking broadly about his relationship with owner Bob McNair and his son Cal McNair. ”We’re having great discussions, very productive,” O’Brien said. ”They’re very easy to talk to. They really do a great job of working with us, with me, of listening, back and forth, a lot of great ideas … these are really good discussions that we’re having and we’ll move from there.” O’Brien has a 31-33 record in four seasons in Houston and this was his first losing season after he led the team to 9-7 records in each of his first three years. The Texans won the AFC South the past two seasons before failing to make the postseason in 2017 as they dealt with injuries to quarterback Deshaun Watson and superstar defensive end J.J. Watt. Along with firming up O’Brien’s future with the team, the Texans also must find someone to fill in at general manager after Rick Smith announced that he’s taking a leave of absence of at least a year to care for his wife as she fights breast cancer. O’Brien said he isn’t looking to have more personnel power in Smith’s absence Sven Andrighetto Jersey , but that he has been involved in discussions with the McNairs about his replacement and that he hopes they hire someone who shares his thoughts on the team’s needs. ”The big thing for me and I think the big thing for the McNairs, and I don’t want to speak for them, but I would just say is alignment, being aligned philosophically on what type of team we want,” O’Brien said. Some things to know about the Texans as they wrap up the season: WATSON’S HEALTH Watson is recovering well since having surgery on his right knee in November, and O’Brien said there’s a chance he could be healthy enough to do some things in organized team activities in May. The 12th overall pick in the 2017 draft showed that he could be the solution to Houston’s long-term quarterback woes with his work before the injury. He appeared in seven games with six starts and threw for 1,699 yards with 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions. ”He’s an exciting player,” O’Brien said. ”He’s just a very coachable guy, eager to learn, eager to get better. He’s got great poise on the field. We’re all excited about his future.” WATT’S THOUGHTS Watt is already looking ahead to next season after seeing a second straight season cut short by an injury. Watt has played just eight games over the past two seasons after a back injury ended his 2016 season after just three games and he broke his left leg in Houston’s fifth game this season. The three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year said he is careful not to get caught up in negative thoughts after his tough stretch and is optimistic for the future. ”That’s what gets me to work my hardest every single day is what this team is capable of and what we can do with these guys Brock McGinn Jersey Kids ,” he said. And although he’s on the other side of the ball, Watt is thrilled to have Watson on his team after seeing the revolving door at quarterback over the past few years. ”We have won a few division titles with like 15 different quarterbacks,” Watt said. ”So if we have one quarterback who is back there who can play the way that he plays, who has the potential and has the abilities he has … we are really excited to see what he can do with a full season. I’m definitely excited to have a franchise quarterback.” CLOWNEY’S CAMPAIGN Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney’s play was one of the few bright spots during Houston’s tough season. The top overall pick in the 2014 draft had the best season of his career to earn his second straight Pro Bowl nod. Clowney finished second in the NFL with a career-high 21 tackles for losses and his 9+ sacks, 21 quarterback hits and two forced fumbles were also career bests. He also had a career-high 59 tackles and started all 16 games for the first time in his career after struggling with injuries in his first two NFL seasons before playing 14 games last season. ”I’m going to keep getting better,” he said. ”I get excited about it because I know my potential and I just say I’m going to keep improving year-in and year-out as long as I stay healthy.” — Cheap New Orleans Saints Jerseys
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The Jacksonville Jaguars used the NFL draft to build for the future Keith Yandle Jersey , not necessarily this fall.

They used every pick on down-the-road starters instead of filling pressing needs.

It’s a luxury rarely seen in Jacksonville, which made the AFC championship game in January after a decade of failure and futility. The Jags return 18 of 22 starters from a team that led the NFL in rushing and ranked second in total defense.

Top executive Tom Coughlin and general manager Dave Caldwell liked the team’s makeup enough that they actually made a best-player-available pick in the first round when they added Florida’s Taven Bryan to a defensive line that includes Pro Bowlers Calais Campbell, Malik Jackson and Yannick Ngakoue.

”We want the competition. We want it as much as we can get it,” Coughlin said following the three-day draft Saturday. ”That’s the one thing in our game that makes everybody better. These people were drafted to be football players, whether it’s a starter or whatever. It takes everybody.”

Bryan was the first of several Jacksonville draft picks expected to be backups as rookies.

The Jaguars envision LSU receiver DJ Chark (second round), Alabama safety Ronnie Harrison (third) and North Carolina State right tackle Will Richardson (fourth) as eventual starters, but neither of them is considered a plug-and-play guy.

”If they come in and play that is a bonus, too,” Caldwell said. ”We are not just going to say, `Hey, take it easy for the next two years.’ Those guys have to come in and compete. … Competition is great. The more depth you can have and be prepared for any situation then the better off you will be.”

Here are some other things to know about Jacksonville’s draft, which included Nebraska quarterback Tanner Lee (sixth round), Wisconsin linebacker Leon Jacobs (seventh) and Mississippi State punter Logan Cooke (seventh).

TAKING A CHANCE: The Jaguars took a chance with the 129th pick on Richardson, who was suspended twice in three years at North Carolina State.

The 6-foot-6, 306-pound Richardson started 30 games at right tackle for the Wolfpack. He was suspended for the first two games last season for what he said was a marijuana-related violation. As a redshirt freshman in November 2015, he was arrested for allegedly driving while intoxicated. He was suspended one game for that and served a university-imposed suspension for the 2016 spring semester.

”Ideally, we don’t like any baggage,” Caldwell said. ”We don’t like to have to answer these questions on a day like today, but we also understand some of these players have a past and hopefully they grow from their past and become fine Frans Nielsen Jersey Kids , upstanding citizens. The time that his discipline ended to this point and time in the draft and all the research and background checks and everything we’ve done on him has led us to believe that hopefully that’s behind him now. Time will tell, and it’s up to him to make sure that he holds his end of the bargain up.”

Richardson will compete at right tackle with 31-year-old Jermey Parnell, and if he doesn’t win the job, would be the team’s swing tackle in 2018.

DEVELOPMENTAL QB: Jacksonville added a third quarterback when it drafted Nebraska’s Tanner Lee in the sixth round. Lee will compete with Cody Kessler for the backup spot behind Blake Bortles. Coach Doug Marrone said the team would be open to keeping three QBs on the roster.

The 6-foot-4 Lee has a big arm, but he completed just 57.5 percent of his passes in 2017, with 23 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. He transferred to Nebraska after three years at Tulane. Jaguars offensive assistant Eric Price served as Tulane’s offensive coordinator during Lee’s time on campus.

”We know the kid very well, his makeup, his intelligence, his drive, his attitude,” Caldwell said. ”He’s going to fit in well with Blake and Cody and that quarterback room. He’s an accurate passer when he has time like most of them. He was under a lot of duress this year at Nebraska. We feel like he can come in and he’s got a high ceiling because of the arm strength at the accuracy and the quick release.”

STILL NEEDED: The one position the Jaguars failed to address in the draft was tight end. They parted ways with veteran Marcedes Lewis in March, leaving them to rely on Austin Seferian-Jenkins in 2018.




At the All-Star break last year, Chris Sale looked as if he might pull away in the American League Cy Young race. He already had 178 strikeouts with only 22 walks.

By the end of the season, of course, Sale had to settle for second place – and not a particularly close second – after Corey Kluber took the award away with a torrid second half.

That’s all just a roundabout way of saying that the following midseason awards aren’t meant as predictions of who will actually win these in 2018. It’s just a quick attempt to honor the players who have stood out so far.



AL MVP

Top Contenders: Mookie Betts, Red Sox; Aaron Judge, Yankees; Francisco Lindor, Indians; Jose Ramirez, Indians; Mike Trout Youth Kevin Labanc Jersey , Angels

The Pick: Trout

Trout leads the AL in on-base percentage, and although he’s second to Betts in OPS, he’s played in 19 more games than the Boston outfielder. Trout also has the lead in wins above replacement – both the Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs versions. You could put together an entire 10-man MVP ballot that’s just Trout and nine players from the Red Sox, Yankees, Indians and Astros.

AL CY YOUNG

Top Contenders: Trevor Bauer, Indians; Gerrit Cole, Astros; Corey Kluber, Indians; Chris Sale, Red Sox; Luis Severino, Yankees; Justin Verlander, Astros

The Pick: Sale

At some point, all those strikeouts are going to be enough, right? Sale has finished in the top six of the Cy Young vote in each of the past six seasons, but he has yet to win it. Last year, he fanned 308 batters – baseball’s highest total since 1999 – and got all of two first-place votes. Severino has 14 wins already, but Sale has an AL-leading 2.23 ERA and 188 Ks.

NL MVP

Top Contenders: Lorenzo Cain, Brewers; Freddie Freeman, Braves; Max Muncy, Dodgers; Aaron Nola Alex Killorn Jersey Kids , Phillies

The Pick: Cain

Good luck coming up with a satisfying answer on this award. Right now the NL WAR leaderboard is topped by pitchers – Baseball-Reference has Nola, Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer ahead of all position players. Just sorting out that trio is hard enough (more on that later) and it’s not clear if any of those right-handers has stood out enough to win MVP honors as a pitcher. Yes, you can actually make a bit of a case for Muncy, who has come out of nowhere to hit 22 homers and lift the Dodgers back to first place after a difficult start. But he doesn’t even qualify for the batting title yet.

The top position players are Freeman, the steady Atlanta slugger, and Cain. Although he’s only played 80 games himself, Cain has been a terrific all-around player, and his arrival this year seems to have given Milwaukee’s defense an important boost.

NL CY YOUNG

Top Contenders: Jacob deGrom, Mets; Josh Hader, Brewers; Aaron Nola, Phillies; Max Scherzer, Nationals; Ross Stripling, Dodgers

The Pick: deGrom

One of the few bright spots for the floundering Mets, deGrom has a 1.68 ERA that sets him apart from Nola (2.30) and Scherzer (2.41). Hader has been spectacular in relief, with a 1.50 ERA and 89 strikeouts in 48 innings – but he’s only thrown about half as many innings as Stripling. If Hader is receiving Cy Young support, Stripling (8-2 with a 2.08 ERA in 95 1/3 innings) should be, too.

AL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

Top Contenders: Shohei Ohtani, Angels; Gleyber Torres, Yankees

The Pick: Ohtani

Torres has the slightly better OPS and 84 more at-bats than Ohtani. Plus Womens Kyle Palmieri Jersey , Torres plays in the field at second base. The question is whether Ohtani’s pitching – a 3.10 ERA over nine starts – makes up for that. Right now it’s close. If Ohtani’s injured elbow keeps him off the mound, Torres likely overtakes him.

NL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

Top Contenders: Brian Anderson, Marlins; Harrison Bader, Cardinals; Seranthony Dominguez, Phillies; Juan Soto, Nationals

The Pick: Anderson

Soto has been terrific in 51 games, but his late start leaves him with a playing time deficit against Anderson and Bader.

AL MANAGER OF THE YEAR

Top Contenders: Aaron Boone, Yankees; Alex Cora, Red Sox; Bob Melvin, Athletics; Scott Servais, Mariners

The Pick: Cora

Boone and Cora took over talented rosters in high-pressure situations and have managed their transitions smoothly. Cora’s Red Sox could be on their way to one of the best regular seasons in that franchise’s (lengthy) history.

NL MANAGER OF THE YEAR

Top Contenders: Craig Counsell, Brewers; Gabe Kapler, Phillies; Brian Snitker, Braves

The Pick: Kapler

It’s been quite a turnaround for Kapler after a tough start that had him getting booed at Philadelphia’s home opener. Now the Phillies are in first place despite having only one All-Star in Nola.



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The Latest on the NBA Awards P.K Subban Jersey , where the league’s individual honors are being presented (all times local):

8 p.m.

James Harden of the Houston Rockets is the NBA’s Most Valuable Player.

He joined Michael Jordan as the only players to average at least 20 points, eight assists, five rebounds and 1.7 steals in a season.

Harden led the league in scoring, 3-pointers and 50-point games with four. He helped the Rockets to an NBA-leading 65 wins.

Harden beat out Cleveland’s LeBron James and Anthony Davis of the Pelicans.



7:25 p.m.

Oscar Robertson commends the activism of today’s NBA players, although he wonders why more white athletes aren’t speaking out.

”Where are the white athletes when this is happening?” he said backstage at the NBA Awards. ”It’s not just black athletes when you see injustice in the world.”

Robertson went on to say he hopes ”the whites and the blacks can get together, even with the football Morgan Rielly Jersey ,” a reference to NFL players who have taken a knee or sat in silence during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequality.

The Hall of Fame guard was presented with the NBA’s Lifetime Achievement Award.



7:15 p.m.

The NBA gave Oscar Robertson a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Bill Russell gave Charles Barkley something else.

Barkley and fellow Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar were the presenters when Robertson received his honor. After Barkley mentioned Russell, Boston’s Hall of Fame center flipped his middle finger in Barkley’s direction.

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

Russell received the inaugural award last year.



6:55 p.m.

The name on everyone’s lips around the NBA isn’t at the league’s awards show.

LeBron James isn’t attending the show, where he’s vying for a fifth career Most Valuable Player award.

James has until Friday to tell the Cavaliers if he will pick up his $35.6 million option for next season or opt for free agency. Rumors about his future have spawned a cottage industry in the sports world.



6:45 p.m.

Dwane Casey has won the NBA’s Coach of the Year award for his work with his former team, the Toronto Raptors. He was fired last month and has since become coach of the Detroit Pistons.

Casey led the Raptors to the No. 1 seed in the East for the first time in franchise history. Toronto won a team-record 59 games. Casey coached the East in the All-Star Game for the first time.

Casey won over Quin Snyder of Utah and Brad Stevens of Boston.



6:35 p.m.

Lou Williams of the Los Angeles Clippers is the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year.

The guard became the first player to average at least 20 points for the first time in his 13th season or later. He led the league in fourth-quarter points and scoring average.

He beat out Houston’s Eric Gordon, last year’s winner, and Fred VanVleet of Toronto.

Williams kissed his two young daughters on his way to the stage after becoming the Clippers’ third winner in the last five years.



6:30 p.m.

Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz is the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year.

The center was the leading vote-getter for the league’s All-Defensive first team.

Gobert anchored a Jazz defense that ranked second in the NBA in defensive rating.

He beat out Anthony Davis of New Orleans and Joel Embiid of Philadelphia.



6:20 p.m.

Victor Oladipo of the Indiana Pacers has won the Most Improved Player at the NBA Awards.

The guard averaged 23.1 points in his first season with the Pacers. He earned his first All-Star berth Womens Esa Lindell Jersey , too.

Oladipo also led the league in steals for the first time.

He beat out Clint Capela of Houston and Spencer Dinwiddie of the Brooklyn Nets.



6:15 p.m.

Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers has won Rookie of the Year honors at the NBA Awards.

The guard averaged 15 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, joining Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson as the only rookies to post those numbers in a season.

Simmons helped Philadelphia to a 52-30 record, including ending the season with a 16-game winning streak.

He beat out finalists Donovan Mitchell of Utah and Jayson Tatum of Boston.



6 p.m.

The NBA Awards aren’t just about the hardware. Everyone gets fed, too.

Players and their guests are sitting down to dinner at the second annual show. On the menu is salad with avocados, grapefruit and green goddess dressing Authentic Artturi Lehkonen Jersey , and a main course of wild seabass with rice and steak.

Dessert is a vanilla cream puff, chocolate peanut butter cupcakes and pavlova with lemon curd and blueberry.



5:55 p.m.

Jeanie Buss says she has complete faith in the Los Angeles Lakers‘ front office no matter how Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka want to build the team, whether it’s through trades, free agency or the draft.

Buss says she asked them a year ago to identify a style of play for the team and make decisions that reflect that style. She describes the Lakers’ style as fast and says it’s about passing and sharing the ball while committing to each other as a team.

Buss is the team’s controlling owner and president. Johnson is the team’s president of basketbal — San Francisco newcomer Richard Sherman will miss the next week of training camp and the 49ers‘ preseason opener after straining a hamstring in practice Friday.

“We’re definitely going to rest him at least a week,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said Saturday. “We don’t think it should be long term. It’s Grade 1, it’s a little higher than we expected so we got to be careful with that.”

The former Seattle cornerback was hurt chasing down receiver Pierre Garcon after a long completion from Jimmy Garoppolo during a full-team drill. The three-time All-Pro returned to practice at the start of training camp after suffering a torn right Achilles in November with the Seahawks. Sherman signed a three-year $39.15 million deal in the offseason after being cut by Seattle.

In Sherman’s place Sunday Joel Armia Jersey Kids , the 49ers rotated Tyvis Powell and Greg Mabin with the starting defense. Jimmie Ward stepped in for Sherman during the offseason program but has been withheld from full-team drills after suffering a hamstring strain last week. Ward has participated during individual portions of the last two practices.

San Francisco opens its preseason slate Thursday night at home against the Dallas Cowboys.

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LeBron James looked at the clock and scoreboard and didn’t flinch.

It was time to fix things. His time. Closing time.

”He gets that look David Bakhtiari Jersey ,” Cavaliers forward Kyle Korver said.

James scored 13 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter and rallied Cleveland from a 17-point deficit to stun the Washington Wizards 119-115 on Thursday night to maintain the No. 3 playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Cavs trailed 104-87 with 7:35 left before storming back behind James, who added 14 assists, nine rebounds and made sure coach Tyronn Lue got a win in his return after missing nine games due to health reasons.

Cleveland was down 14 when James checked in with 7:48 left, and 13 seconds later, the deficit swelled to 17 when the three-time champion took off on one of those runs that have made him famous.

”I don’t have a quit bone in me, so if I’m on the floor I’ve got to try to make plays happen no matter what the score is,” he said. ”That’s just my mindset.”

Jeff Green added 21 points and Kevin Love had 16 for the Cavs, who are 10-1 since March 17, when Lue was forced to leave a game in Chicago with ”piercing” chest pains. Lue Marcus Martin Jersey , who has changed his diet and is taking sleep medication, has come back to a Cleveland team that seems to be hitting its stride just in time for the playoffs.

But it took another of those patented James’ comebacks to down the Wizards, who have dropped seven of nine and are in a three-way battle with Milwaukee and Miami for playoff positioning.

Wizards coach Scott Brooks said he feared James would do exactly what he did.

”Like I said before the game, I’ll say it after the game and probably five years from now I’ll say the same thing,” he said. ”He’s the best player in the league and he does that every night. You don’t get to see players like him often.”

Washington’s John Wall looked more like his speedy All-Star self in his third game back from knee surgery, scoring 28 points with 14 assists. But he had a costly turnover in the closing seconds and the Wizards couldn’t put away the Cavs down the stretch.

Bradley Beal added 19 points, and Otto Porter had 18 for Washington.

A basket by Markieff Morris gave the Wizards a 110-100 lead with 3:16 left, but James scored six straight, fed Green for layup Paul Hornung Jersey , and Rodney Hood made two free throws to complete a 10-0 run by the Cavs. Morris then converted a three-point play, but Cleveland’s Kyle Korver knocked down a 3 in front of Washington’s bench – from nearly the same spot where he missed a big 3 in Game 3 of last year’s Finals.

”Yeah I was wide open and the ball was in the perfect pocket,” Korver said. ”I got to line it up and shoot it.”

Green’s two free throws – on a tough call against Wall, who appeared to make a clean steal – gave the Cavs a 116-115 lead, but after Walls missed a short jumper, James split a pair of three throws, giving Washington one last chance.

Wall drove the lane but instead of going to the basket, he attempted a twisting pass outside that was stolen by rookie Cedi Osman, who made two free throws to close it out.

”I already knew on the play before that I wasn’t going to get the call Chase Daniel Jersey , so why even put myself in that position?” Wall said. ”I tried to find a teammate for a wide open shot. You just give that guy credit for making a great defensive stop.”

SEEDING

The Wizards remained in the No. 7 spot, sandwiched between the Heat and Bucks, who lost at home to Brooklyn.

MORE INJURIES

Lue came back to a familiar situation as the Cavs, who have endured injuries for months, were missing point guards Jose Calderon (hamstring) and George Hill (ankle).

TIP-INS

Wizards: Brooks said Wall will not play Friday night. He’s yet to play consecutive game since returning. … Wall lost weight during his recovery, and coach Scott Brooks said that should help the All-Star going forward. ”It’s going to be good for his long-term recovery,” Brooks said. ”It’s good for him. It’s good for us. He just needs to gets some reps.”

Cavaliers: Won their eighth straight at home. … James has scored 30 points in 429 games, tying Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for fifth place in league history. … Osman is the seventh different starting point guard for Cleveland, which because of injuries has had 29 starting lineups. … Lue was sorry to learn Celtics guard Kyrie Irving will miss the playoffs. Irving had a great run with Cleveland and will be forever remembered for his go-ahead 3-pointer in the closing minutes of Game 7 in the 2016 Finals. ”He was a big part of what we did here Logan Thomas Jersey , a big part of winning the championship and even though he’s on another team you still don’t want to see anyone go through that,” Lue said.

UP NEXT

Wizards: Host Atlanta on Friday night.

Cavaliers: At Philadelphia on Friday night.

After the NFL adopted a new policy regarding the national anthem last week that gave the league the right to fine teams if players don’t stand during the song along with giving teams the right to impose penalties on players who don’t stand during the playing of the song, Jets CEO Christopher Johnson announced the team will not avail themselves of that opportunity.

Johnson said he hopes the players will stand — no Jets took a knee last year — but that he never wants “to put restrictions on the speech of our players.” That stance was a topic of conversation when wide receiver Jermaine Kearse spoke to the media on Tuesday.

Kearse called the league’s policy “disappointing” while saying that it was “very gratifying” to hear Johnson’s response.

“I’m very appreciative of him,” Kearse said, via NorthJersey.com. “I think he kind of gets it. … He understands. I don’t know what other owners are doing with their teams, but he’s been actively involved, had multiple meetings. We’ve all been talking to him. So [we’re] just very appreciative of his support. He cares.”

The league has not outlined a fine schedule for teams who have players take a knee or otherwise fail to show respect during the playing of the anthem this season.

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Although the standings indicate the Washington Wizards are headed to the postseason this weekend http://www.dallascowboysteamonline.com/deonte-thompson-jersey , they are staggering to the finish.

The Wizards will be making their fourth playoff appearance in the last five seasons and hope to finish the regular season on a good note when they visit the Orlando Magic on Wednesday.

Even when John Wall was sidelined while recovering from a knee injury, the Wizards rose to as high as fourth in East. Now Washington (43-38) is eighth after Wall collected 29 points and 11 assists in his fourth game back during a 113-101 home win over the Boston Celtics on Tuesday.

Washington holds the same record as the Miami Heat, who are hosting the top-seeded Toronto Raptors on Wednesday. The Wizards are 7-12 in their last 20 games after they won 10 of 13 games from Jan. 27-Feb. 27

To get the sixth seed Washington must beat Orlando while Milwaukee and Miami lose. To get the seventh seed, Washington must win Wednesday and get a loss by either the Heat or Bucks, who are visiting Philadelphia.

A sixth seed would earn Washington a matchup with Cleveland or Philadelphia, while the seventh seed means a matchup against Boston and a rematch of last season’s hard-fought seven-game series in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

“Being in the playoffs is not disappointing,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks told reporters ahead of Tuesday’s game. “With where we are, sure I’d love to be in a higher seed. We’re worried about ourselves, we gotta play better. We gotta string some games together, have a good showing the next two games. Competitive spirit on both ends and for each other.”

The Wizards beat the Celtics after getting a film session of recent games and playoff games from last season

“Looking at the things we were doing over the course of the year, over the course of the last couple games,” Wizards guard Bradley Beal told reporters. “Just seeing our demeanor and our approach and seeing two different teams. They showed us clips of us last year in the playoffs. Just our intensity, our focus Randy Gregory Jersey , our grit and grind, attention for detail for everything was a lot better. So, that’s who we need to be.”

Orlando (24-57) is 5-14 in its last 19 games and 16-24 at home this season. Wednesday could also be the final game for coach Frank Vogel, who was hired before last season under the previous regime.

Vogel is 53-110 and has two years remaining on his contract, though the team is under new management in first-year president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman and new general manager John Hammond.

This season, the Magic began 8-4 but dropped 27 of their 31 games. The team’s rotation players have missed a total of 224 games due to injuries.

“I think he’s done the best job he could,” Orlando center Nikola Vucevic told reporters. “Last year, he came in and he had a team that was just put together — a lot of new players. It didn’t work out. We just couldn’t get things together on the court at all. It looked good on paper. On the court, it never clicked. So, it was a tough situation.”

In their last home appearance, the Magic dropped a 137-100 decision to the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday and then followed it up with double-digit losses at Toronto and Milwaukee.

In Monday’s 102-86 loss to the Bucks, the Magic missed 19 of 24 3-point shots and couldn’t keep pace defensively in their 25th double-digit loss of the season. Orlando also dropped to 6-22 against Eastern Conference playoff teams.

“It’s been the case all season. Our defense has never been consistent enough,” Vogel said.

Vucevic led the Magic with 17 points and has six double-doubles in his last seven games.

The Wizards have averaged 123.3 points in winning the first three meetings against Orlando and are trying to sweep the season series for the fourth time in five seasons. Washington also is 17-2 in the last 19 meetings.

Even with the conference finals going on http://www.washingtonredskinsteamonline.com/rob-kelley-jersey , the NBA’s eyes turn to the future this week.

A future that, perhaps, will have less tanking.

The draft lottery – the last before changes come next year to dissuade tanking – is Tuesday night, and then about 70 players will partake in the draft combine that starts on Wednesday. Those events are both happening in Chicago, as are some various league meetings such as a gathering of NBA general managers and other front-office executives.

But the biggest news will be made by 14 pingpong balls that will decide who drafts No. 1 next month.

”We’ve got to see what happens in the lottery first and see where our position is,” Memphis executive vice president of basketball operations John Hollinger said. ”That’s going to dictate a lot of the decisions that come after that and how we use our time after that.”

Phoenix has a 25 percent chance of winning the No. 1 pick, followed by Memphis (19.9 percent), Dallas (13.8 percent) and Atlanta (13.7 percent). The rest of the candidates for No. 1 are Orlando (8.8 percent), Chicago (5.3), Sacramento (5.3), Cleveland (2.8), New York (1.7), Philadelphia (1.1) Larry Allen Jersey , Charlotte (0.8), Detroit (0.7), the Los Angeles Clippers (0.6) and Denver (0.5).

Many of those teams were at the center of tanking questions this season. Now they’ll see if it pays off.

”We did this year what we felt was in the long-term best interest of the Bulls,” Chicago vice president of basketball operations John Paxson said. ”It’s not a situation that any of us want to ever be in again. And it goes against everything as a competitive person that you believe in. But it’s the way the system’s set up.”

For now. The NBA is changing the system.

Starting in 2019, with the NBA hoping that teams have less incentive to strive for the worst record and therefore the best chance of winning the lottery, the odds will be changing. The three teams with the worst regular-season record will each have a 14 percent chance of winning the No. 1 pick, the fourth-worst team will have a 12.5 percent chance and the fifth-worst 10.5 percent.

”My sense is we’re still going to have some work to do,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said.

Tanking got plenty of attention this season, and a few minutes on Jan. 29 might have decided the race.

Phoenix and Memphis played that night. The Grizzlies scored 42 points in the second quarter – their only 40-point period all season – and forced the Suns into 10 consecutive misses in one stretch, on the way to a 120-109 win.

The Suns finished one game worse than the Grizzlies. Flip that Jan. 29 outcome, and it would been the Grizzlies with the best chance at the No. 1 pick.

”The league has been beating us up right now,” said Phoenix guard Devin Booker, who hasn’t come even close to making the playoffs and is already on the fourth head coach of his three-year career now that the Suns have hired Igor Kokoskov. ”But I think it’s going to be motivational for us. I know for myself Kemoko Turay Jersey , working out, I think about that all the time. I never want to be in these situations again.”

The new lottery format isn’t the only looming change related to drafts. It seems likely that by 2020, the one-and-done rule – in place since 2006 – will be gone and players will be allowed to jump from high school directly to the NBA again.

If that was the case this season, the rights to draft phenoms like R.J. Barrett, Zion Williamson and Cameron Reddish would probably be decided by those pingpong balls in Chicago on Tuesday. Instead, they’re all going to Duke this fall.

So they won’t be at the combine, nor will the likely top two picks in the June 21 draft – Arizona’s Deandre Ayton, and Slovenia’s Luka Doncic. Ayton declined the invitation to participate in Chicago, and Doncic’s season in Europe isn’t over yet.

”We sort of expected this, that we might not see the top couple guys there,” Hollinger said. ”So we just have to adjust from that and get our information in other ways.”



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EAST RUTHERFORD Randall Cobb Jersey , N.J. (AP) — Sam Darnold jogged onto the field for his NFL debut and was greeted by butterflies in his stomach and cheers in the stands.

The anxiety quickly faded. The buzz only got louder.

Darnold sparkled in his NFL debut and made a strong initial case to win the Jets‘ starting quarterback job as he helped lead New York to a 17-0 victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Friday night.

“I was a little nervous going out there,” Darnold said, “but I think more just excited to finally be able to play in an NFL game, even though it is preseason.”

Darnold, the No. 3 overall draft pick in April, was the Jets’ third quarterback of the game, following Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater. The former USC star received a standing ovation as he jogged onto the field at MetLife Stadium with 8:41 to go in the first half.

“Yeah, it was pretty cool just to get that response from the crowd,” Darnold said with a big grin. “Even when I was on the sideline, I had fans later in the fourth quarter yell, ‘Great game, Sam!'”

Darnold’s first series ended in a punt and his non-throwing left hand was checked out by trainers on the sideline after it was stepped on. But he was fine and wore a glove in the second half.

He got the crowd on its feet again just before halftime Chris Thompson Jersey , throwing a 14-yard touchdown pass to Charles Johnson that gave New York a 17-0 lead.

The 21-year-old Darnold showed the poise of a veteran on the drive while completing six straight passes to get to the Falcons 3. He would’ve had a seventh consecutive completion, but his throw into the end zone was dropped by Johnson. Darnold went right back to Johnson on his next pass and the receiver caught a 4-yard TD toss — but was called for offensive pass interference.

On third-and-14, Darnold again threw to Johnson while rolling to his right and zipping in a pass for the score.

“My first scoring drive of my whole career was a two-minute drive going down the field,” Darnold said. “It was awesome. To get the penalty and be pushed back and for our whole offense to respond to adversity like that, it was awesome to see.”

Darnold, who finished 13 of 18 for 96 yards, sat out the first three days of training camp before his representatives and the Jets agreed on a fully guaranteed four-year, $30.25 million deal that included a $20 million signing bonus. He quickly made up for the missed time, and is being given every opportunity to win the starting job.

“I’m not going to jump to any conclusions after one game,” coach Todd Bowles said.

McCown is the incumbent and started the game, but played just one series. The 39-year-old veteran completed his only throw, a 4-yard toss to Neal Sterling.

TEDDY’S NIGHT

Bridgewater came out with the starting offense for the Jets’ second possession and led New York down the field on a scoring drive Bart Starr Jersey , capped by Isaiah Crowell’s 16-yard catch-and-run to the end zone.

Crowell, in his first game with the Jets after four seasons in Cleveland, was evaluated for a head injury after taking a few hard hits on the play. He didn’t return.

Bridgewater, who suffered a serious knee injury in practice while with Minnesota nearly two years ago, converted a third-and-11 with an 8-yard pass to Robby Anderson — while also taking a hard hit bouncing back up. On fourth-and-3 from the Falcons 40, Bridgewater connected with Jermaine Kearse for a 6-yard gain and a first down to keep the drive alive.

Playing with the backup offensive line on his second series, Bridgewater led New York on another scoring drive capped by Taylor Bertolet’s 45-yard field goal.

“Overall, it was a great day,” said Bridgewater, who finished 7 of 8 for 85 yards. “It was good to be back out there with the guys, flying around and scoring touchdowns and winning football games.”

SHORT STINT

Matt Ryan played the first series for the Falcons, and completed his only attempt to rookie Calvin Ridley for a 2-yard loss.

He was replaced by veteran Matt Schaub Josh Bellamy Jersey , who went 9 of 9 for 54 yards while playing the rest of the first half.

SLUGGISH

Atlanta got its initial first down of the game with 10 seconds left in the first half on Schaub’s 10-yard pass to Eric Saubert.

The Falcons, who finished with 11 first downs, were also called for 10 penalties resulting in 71 yards lost.

“I thought penalties in this game cost us,” coach Dan Quinn said. “It created some difficult field positions to convert, so we didn’t get the looks that we wanted to. That part of our game we certainly need to clean up.”

NATIONAL ANTHEM

Players from both teams stood during the anthem, with no demonstrations. The Jets linked arms on the sideline, including owner Christopher Johnson, as they did last season.

SITTING OUT

Atlanta wide receiver Julio Jones and running back Devonta Freeman did not play, despite being healthy. Kicker Matt Bryant and offensive tackle Ty Sambrailo had previously been scratched.

Several Jets didn’t play, including rookie tight end Chris Herndon, who Bowles said was banged up in practice and got the night off. Also out because of injuries were: left tackle Kelvin Beachum, linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin Vontae Davis Jersey , defensive tackle Deon Simon, rookie cornerback Parry Nickerson, and running back Eli McGuire.

STILL NOTHING

Atlanta tried to stop the shutout in the closing seconds, but David Marvin was short on a 42-yard field-goal attempt as time expired.

INJURIES

Sterling left in the third quarter with an ankle injury and didn’t return. … Jets cornerback Buster Skrine left after injuring his shoulder in the first quarter. … Falcons backup guard Jamil Dougla

Two NFC East teams added help for their secondary during Wednesday’s supplemental draft, but the other 30 clubs left without any new additions to their rosters.

Former Western Michigan cornerback Sam Beal went to the Giants in the third round and Washington plucked a local prospect in the sixth round when they selected former Virginia Tech cornerback Adonis Alexander before the draft concluded with every team taking a pass in the seventh round. Both teams will forfeit selections in the same round of the 2019 draft after making their picks.

The other three players who were eligible for selection — ex-Mississippi State safety Brandon Bryant, ex-Oregon State linebacker Bright Ugwoegbu and former Grand Valley State running back Marty Carter — are now free agents who are eligible to sign with any team in the league.

There was some speculation heading into the draft that Bryant would be selected, so he may be a popular target for teams looking to flesh out their rosters before training camp.

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Keith Fahnhorst Jamison Crowder Jersey , a star tackle for the San Francisco 49ers who won two Super Bowl titles in the 1980s, has died. He was 66.

He died Tuesday, the 49ers said Friday. No cause was given.

Fahnhorst won two Super Bowls in his 14 seasons with the franchise and was an All-Pro in 1984. He started 160 of the 193 games in which he appeared from 1974-87. Only seven more players and one offensive lineman, Len Rohde, appeared in more games for the 49ers.

Fahnhorst retired because of a neck injury that caused him to miss nine games during his last season in 1987. He dealt with neurological problems after his career.

Former teammate Randy Cross noted on Twitter that he and Fahnhorst were teammates for 12 years. Cross played right guard next to him for 9 1/2 years.

"We won SB's together, went to ProBowls together, lockered next to each other," Cross wrote, adding he was lucky to call him his friend. "WorldClass Dad + Husband who was gentle + kind to all."

Fahnhorst http://www.buffalobillsteamonline.com/patrick-dimarco-jersey , who teamed with linebacker brother Jim with the 49ers, is the second member of the 49ers' title winning teams of the 1980s to die in the last two weeks. Receiver Dwight Clark died at 61 from Lou Gehrig's disease, the neurological condition that attacks cells that control muscles.

Fahnhorst was a second-round draft choice in 1974 out of Minnesota, where he was a tight end. He twice won the 49ers' Bobb McKittrick Award, which is given annually to the offensive lineman who best represents the courage and sacrifice displayed by the longtime offensive line coach.

Fahnhorst grew up in St. Cloud, Minnesota.

LATROBE, Pa. (AP) — Pittsburgh Steelers rookie quarterback Mason Rudolph exudes confidence heading into his first NFL preseason game Thursday against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Rudolph admitted that jitters may be there as the Steelers prepare to face the defending Super Bowl champions in Philadelphia. But the Steelers’ third-round pick has settled into a comfort zone two weeks into training camp.

“It’s just football,” Rudolph said. “I think everyone has a little bit of nerves because it’s going to be the first one back. But just like your debut in college, you get out there Richard Dent Jersey , you make a completion and it starts flowing like football has always been.”

Rudolph is in a fight for the backup quarterback spot behind Ben Roethlisberger. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday that Rudolph will see time under center against the Eagles, along with veteran Landry Jones and Josh Dobbs, the Steelers’ fourth-round pick a year ago.

Tomlin is eager to see how Rudolph can direct the offense and maintain possession.

“Mason’s done a really good job, but he hasn’t been hit,” Tomlin said. “Ball security is much more difficult in-stadium because a training camp environment is controlled in a lot of ways. You don’t touch or get close to the quarterback, so a quarterback’s ability to secure the football doesn’t get tested until they play in-stadium preseason football.”

Rudolph will have an opportunity to show how far he’s come since the Steelers traded up to select the Oklahoma State star with the 76th overall pick, the highest the organization has taken a quarterback since Roethlisberger was the 11th overall selection in 2004.

During spring practices, Rudolph impressed, but he also missed a couple center-quarterback exchanges after working almost exclusively out of the shotgun both in high school and at Oklahoma State.

“We cleaned it up for the most part Maliek Collins Jersey ,” Rudolph said. “I’m just starting to feel a lot more comfortable under center after not doing it the last eight years of my life.”

Rudolph also had an inauspicious start at training camp when he ran a bootleg to the right and fumbled his first pass attempt backward. That gaffe is far from Rudolph’s mind.

“I could (not) care less about the first pass,” Rudolph said. “I have a lot of first passes. I had my first pass in OTAs and rookie minicamp. I’m thinking about the next pass. If one play goes bad, the next play can be the one that wins it, or gets you back in the game.”

Rudolph has found his groove after a rocky first week at camp. The rookie looked comfortable and crisp while running the two-minute offense at the end of a practice last week. Rudolph finished the drill an efficient 5 of 6 for 52 yards, which included a practice-ending 14-yard touchdown pass to rookie running back Jaylen Samuels.

“I just want to progress,” Rudolph said. “You obviously dream about playing in the NFL, but once you get here, you take it one day at a time. I think that’s the way I’ve approached practice and it has gone well.

“I’m just focused on completing passes and making sure I’m taking mental steps forward every day.”

The next step forward for Rudolph will be into a NFL stadium for his preseason debut — against an opposing defense.

“You’re playing your own team every single day and you get frustrated because they start to learn your calls, they’re cheating on your install sheet Tramon Williams Jersey , printing your stuff out and trying to game plan against you,” Rudolph said. “And then you get out there in a game and it’s easy because those guys are scared, they’re all tight, they want to be in their spots, they don’t want to get yelled at by their coach, and you end up scoring points and driving down the field. That’s the way I feel this will go.”

NOTES: Tomlin said Roethlisberger won’t play Thursday against Philadelphia. . Wide receiver Antonio Brown missed practice again Tuesday, but he worked out alone on an adjoining field. He will miss Thursday’s game along with LBs Bud Dupree and T.J. Watt, and TE Vance McDonald.

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Injured Pittsburgh Steelers Ryan Shazier doesn't just plan to play again following a spinal injury. He says he wants to make it all the way to the Hall of Fame.

Shazier opened up to teammate Roosevelt Nix on Nix's podcast http://www.greenbaypackersteamonline.com/aaron-jones-jersey , Shazier's first public comments since injuring his spine in a victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Dec. 4.

Shazier told Nix, who released the podcast on Tuesday night , that he plans to walk again on his own and return to a career that was on the verge of stardom before the injury, one that required spinal stabilization surgery and left him in the hospital for two months.

"I'm really trying to come back and still be a Pro Bowler," Shazier told Nix. "I'm sorry, because I feel I got snubbed this year for All-Pro even though I got hurt. But I feel like my stats are as good as those who made it."

The 25-year-old is undergoing outpatient therapy and has documented a portion of his recovery on social media. General manager Kevin Colbert said last week Shazier has been a fixture at the team's headquarters watching film. Shazier said it's necessary to keep him mentally sharp while aggressively attacking his rehab.

"I've got to get back," said Shazier, who has not released the exact nature of the injury. "Right now I'm reading a book and it's basically saying trust the process. I'm really trusting the process. I know the end goal. So I'm taking every step of the way, I'm giving everything I got. The therapists are like, 'Man this is crazy; I've never seen anyone work this hard.' They almost see progression every day."

Shazier has been vague about specific aspects of his recovery Derrius Guice Jersey , though he is quick to point out that he can stand on his own, as he did when the cameras cut to him recently while attending a Pittsburgh Penguins game. Either way, Shazier insists he'll one day run back through the tunnel at Heinz Field with his No. 50 jersey on ready to get back at it.

"I'm still reaching for that Hall of Fame because I really feel I'm the best linebacker ever," Shazier said. "I just got to be back out there so everybody can see it. You know what I'm saying?"


Someone is going to gamble on Michael Porter Jr.

He insists it’ll pay off.

There is an element of danger involved with every NBA draft pick, in that nothing is guaranteed. There isn’t a player that epitomizes the risk versus reward thinking in this draft more than Porter Jr., who could get taken as high as No. 2 by Sacramento or go several picks lower because of uncertainty surrounding his health.

Back problems that necessitated surgery limited his lone college season to three games at Missouri, and a scheduled Friday workout was called off because of hip spasms. There’s still a chance he will do a workout before draft night and teams have gotten access to new medical information that would seem to suggest he’s ready for the NBA – but still, skepticism may be understandable.

”I’m feeling great,” Porter Jr. said.

Find out Thursday night which team believes him the most.

He’s 6-foot-10 and is usually categorized as a power forward, though in an NBA that’s now largely positionless Porter Jr. could wear a lot of hats. He’s already shown a complete skillset – passing Chris Thompson Jersey , dribbling, shooting – that would translate to playing basically anywhere except center. He weighed 211 pounds last month at the Draft Combine, meaning there’s still plenty of room on his frame to add strength.

His college highlights are basically nonexistent: Porter Jr. scored 30 points in 53 minutes of action with the Tigers. Porter Jr.’s reputation is largely built on what he did as a high schooler when he was considered the best prospect in the country, and there was a workout earlier this month arranged by agent Mark Bartelstein earlier this month where he got rave reviews.

”He showed that he’s alive and well and moving,” said Memphis general manager Chris Wallace, whose team has the No. 4 pick – and has been linked to Porter Jr. by many prognosticators. ”I would say (he) passed that first test.”

Alive, well and moving would seem to be the absolute basic prerequisites for a team to be satisfied about when preparing to use a lottery pick on someone, but Porter Jr. vows that whichever team grabs him won’t be disappointed.

”I just feel like in today’s game, there’s guys that can do anything on the floor,” Porter Jr. said. ”And that’s how I kind of view myself.”

Porter Jr. played two minutes in his college debut in November Mike Daniels Jersey , then underwent back surgery – a microdiscectomy of the L3 and L4 spinal discs – about a week and a half later. He returned for an SEC Tournament game against Georgia, then put up 16 points and 10 rebounds in Missouri’s loss to Florida State in the NCAA Tournament.

The injury went back to Porter Jr.’s sophomore year of high school, when he got hurt while getting hit on a dunk attempt.

”He’s a very versatile player,” former Georgia coach Mark Fox said. ”And I’m thankful that the kid’s gotten healthy because he was a terrific talent. … He’ll be a top-five selection. I remember watching him in high school, and he’s as complete of a player as there was at that level.”

That’s what Porter Jr. wants NBA teams to remember before making their selection.

He believes he’s the best player. But with every indication that Deandre Ayton will go No. 1 to Phoenix, the intrigue starts at No. 2 and Porter is surely getting a real long look from the franchises that have the other top-10 spots, those being in order Sacramento, Atlanta, Memphis, Dallas Deion Sanders Jersey , Orlando, Chicago, Cleveland, New York and Philadelphia.

”It’s about getting in the right situation,” Porter Jr. said. ”I don’t need to go No. 1. I don’t feel like I have an ego that makes me want to go No. 1. I just want the right situation for me.”



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MIAMI GARDENS Troy Apke Jersey , Fla. (AP) — Around 10,000 spectators remained at the finish of the Miami Dolphins‘ marathon win over Tennessee, and they were hardly fair weather fans.

Lightning forced two delays of about two hours each Sunday, and it took Miami more than seven hours to complete a 27-20 victory.

“Appreciate all you Dolphins fans sticking it out tonight,” quarterback Ryan Tannehill shouted to a camera as he headed for the locker room. “Win No. 1, baby.”

That it was. Here are things to know about a season opener that was memorable for the Dolphins and costly for the Titans:

HEAVY TOLL: The Titans lost starting quarterback Marcus Mariota, tackle Taylor Lewan, tight end Delanie Walker and cornerback Adoree Jackson to injuries, which made it an especially tough debut for rookie coach Mike Vrabel.

Mariota hurt his throwing elbow in the third quarter, left the game for one play, returned to throw two interceptions and departed for good.

“I couldn’t feel my fingers, feel my hand,” Mariota said. “It was one of those things — couldn’t grip the ball.”

Blaine Gabbert replaced Mariota.

“It’s just go time,” Gabbert said. “That’s the backup quarterback’s job description: to be ready at a moment’s notice Doug Williams Jersey , to go in and help your team win the game.”

Gabbert didn’t do that, going 11 for 22 for 117 yards and an interception that sealed the win for Miami. He’ll have more notice if he’s in the lineup for Sunday’s home opener against Houston.

Lewan left the game with a concussion. Walker was carted off the field later in the period with a right leg injury. Jackson hurt his shoulder on a 26-yard punt return.

FRACAS: Lewan appeared to be briefly knocked out when flattened on Andre Branch’s blindside block during an interception return by Reshad Jones. Lewan sprawled face down on the turf, then suddenly sprang to his feet, and players exchanged words and shoves.

Jordan Phillips and Bobby McCain of Miami and Dion Lewis of Tennessee received offsetting unsportsmanlike conduct penalties for taunting,

“There were a lot of words being said,” McCain said, “and I don’t think you can write them down.”

COMEBACK: Tannehill hopes to perform better Sunday at the New York Jets. Coming back from knee surgery, he played for the first time in 21 months with mixed results.

Tannehill threw two interceptions, and the Dolphins twice came up empty on possessions inside the Tennessee 20.

“I wasn’t as sharp as I like to be,” he said.

Even so, Tannehill went 20 for 28 for 230 yards and threw two touchdown passes to Kenny Stills.

BIG PLAYS: The Dolphins flashed their speed in the fourth quarter. Jakeem Grant scored on a 102-yard kickoff return, Stills caught a 75-yard touchdown pass and Jones returned his second interception of the game 54 yards.

“You have three or four guys who are burners,” Tannehill said. “It’s a lot of fun to play with them.”

ANTHEM: Colin Kaepernick, a leader of the protest movement by NFL players against social injustice Art Monk Jersey , tweeted his support after Dolphins receivers Stills and Albert Wilson knelt during the national anthem.

“I know he has our back,” Stills said. “Really, there has been a huge difference between when we first started protesting and now. A lot of people are reaching out and supporting us, so I really appreciate that. To everybody out there, thank you for reaching out, thank you for the positivity. Let’s keep doing our best to make positive change and have these conversations and make our country a better place.”

If his right arm isn’t healed in time for his next start, maybe Vince Velasquez can pitch with his left.

Ambidextrous, indeed.

Hit on his pitching arm by a line drive, Velasquez made a dazzling throw with his left hand, and Philadelphia overcame an early injury to its starting pitcher to beat the Washington Nationals 3-2 on Saturday night.

”It is well-known he is one of our best all-around athletes,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. ”You just would never predict that.”

Velasquez was struck in the forearm by Adam Eaton’s liner in the second inning. He dropped his glove, hustled to retrieve the ball as it deflected toward third base, and unleashed a strong toss with his opposite arm that nipped the speedy Eaton at first for the final out.

”I tried to finish the play,” Velasquez said.

The Phillies pitcher actually spent his junior season in high school as a lefty-throwing center fielder due to bone chips in his pitching arm that prevented him from taking the mound.

And on Friday night Tony Dorsett Jersey , Velasquez startled Phillies first baseman Carlos Santana by throwing a ball to him left-handed from the dugout in between innings.

”Kind of warmed up for that play today,” Velasquez joked.

So, Velasquez knew he could throw left-handed – he just didn’t know if he could make an accurate toss.

”I actually surprised myself throwing a strike right there,” he said.

After completing the play, Velasquez then dropped to the ground, writhing in pain and clutching his right arm. He was pulled from the game with a bruise, having allowed one run and three hits.

X-rays were negative, a better result than he anticipated.

”I thought something was broken,” he said. ”Thanks to God, nothing is severe.”

Kapler said Velasquez would be further evaluated on Sunday. The pitcher said it was ”up in the air” whether he would be able to take his next turn in the rotation.

”We’ll see how it feels,” he said.

Victor Arano (1-0) followed Velasquez with two scoreless innings.

Odubel Herrera homered and Jorge Alfaro and Aaron Altherr had RBI doubles as the Phillies bounced back from a 17-7 loss. Anthony Rendon homered for the Nationals, who went deep seven times in Friday night’s romp at Citizens Bank Park, but managed just eight hits against six Philadelphia pitchers.

”I thought we were going to score more than two runs after yesterday’s performance,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. ”We had our chances.”

Yacksel Rios kept Philadelphia in front by getting out of a jam in the eighth. After Adam Morgan allowed the first two runners to reach on a single and a walk http://www.chicagobearsteamonline.com/marcus-cooper-jersey , Rios entered and got Rendon to line out to right, Juan Soto to pop out and Mark Reynolds to ground out.

Rookie Seranthony Dominguez pitched a scoreless ninth for his seventh save in his eighth chances. Dominguez retired the first two batters before pinch-hitter Daniel Murphy doubled to right, but the right-hander retired Eaton on a flyball.

”Cool as a cucumber,” Kapler said. ”A special performance.”

Jeremy Hellickson (2-1) returned to the mound for Washington after being sidelined since June 4 with a right hamstring strain. The veteran right-hander allowed three runs on seven hits in 4 2/3 innings with four strikeouts and two walks.

RED-HOT RENDON

Rendon is batting .396 in his last 13 games, with hits in 12 of those contests. His 85 career hits against Philadelphia are tied for his most against any opponent.

WHAT A THROW

Alfaro upped his major-league lead to 15 base runners caught stealing when he nailed the swift Trea Turner for the final out in the fifth. Turner entered second in the majors with 22 steals, but was easily out.

”Alfaro threw a bullet,” Martinez said.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Nationals: RHP Stephen Strasburg (right shoulder inflammation), out since June 10, threw a bullpen session on Saturday. … Washington transferred 1B Ryan Zimmerman, who has been out since May 10 with a strained right oblique, to the 60-day DL.

UP NEXT

The teams close out the four-game series on Sunday afternoon with Washington LHP Gio Gonzalez (6-5, 3.68) facing Phillies RHP Jake Arrieta (5-6, 3.54).

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The Los Angeles Rams have agreed to trade linebacker Alec Ogletree to the New York Giants for two draft picks Pat McAfee Jersey , a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity Wednesday because NFL trades can't be announced until March 14. ESPN first reported the deal.

Los Angeles gets the Giants' fourth-round and sixth-round picks in the 2018 draft. The NFC West champion Rams also will send a seventh-round pick in 2019 to the Giants along with Ogletree, their defensive captain and last season's leading tackler.

Ogletree has spent his entire five-year NFL career with the Rams, who drafted him out of Georgia in the first round in 2013. He led their defense in tackles during four of his five seasons, only failing to do so in 2015 when he played in just four games due to a broken leg.

He had 95 tackles and two sacks last season while moving into coordinator Wade Phillips' 3-4 defensive scheme. He also provided leadership on the defense, both during the Rams' turbulent relocation season from St. Louis and again last season, when they ended their 12-year playoff drought.

Ogletree signed a four-year, $42.7 million extension with the Rams just last October, getting $30 million in guaranteed money.

While Ogletree is a speedy linebacker who has been quite productive, he has been an inconsistent tackler at times, and he never appeared to be an ideal fit in Phillips' defense.

Ogletree also was a key player in the Rams' spotty run defense. Los Angeles finished last season fifth-worst in the NFL at stopping the run, allowing 122.3 yards rushing per game and frequently struggling with stops between the tackles, where Ogletree needed to shine.

Ogletree will fill the Giants' need for quality veteran linebackers as they rebuild from their 3-13 season http://www.washingtonredskinsteamonline.com/d.j.-swearinger-jersey , arguably the worst in franchise history. Starting linebackers Devon Kennard and defensive captain Jonathan Casillas could leave as free agents.

The Giants had two fourth-round picks in the upcoming draft, including a compensatory selection.

Despite their overall success last season under coach Sean McVay, the Rams clearly are reconfiguring their defense in Phillips' preferred image while clearing salary cap space. That room is likely to be used in part to sign AP Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald to a lucrative long-term extension.

Los Angeles already agreed to trade linebacker Robert Quinn to Miami last week, and starting linebacker Connor Barwin is a free agent.

The Rams agreed last month to acquire cornerback Marcus Peters in a trade with Kansas City, and Los Angeles also used its franchise tag on safety Lamarcus Joyner. Those moves likely mean top cornerback Trumaine Johnson will leave as a free agent.

The trade of Ogletree seemingly improves the chances for the Rams to keep fellow veteran linebacker Mark Barron, who carries a $28 million salary cap hit over the next three seasons. He is due a $2 million roster bonus next week.

The Carolina Panthers will once again have to figure out the best way to replace the injured Greg Olsen.

The three-time Pro Bowl tight end injured his right foot in the first half of Carolina's 16-8 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday and spent the second half looking on from the sideline on crutches with his foot in a boot. It's the same foot Olsen fractured in Week 2 last year. That injury kept him out of nine games and ended his streak of three straight 1,000-yard seasons.

Olsen was not available for comment after the game and coach Ron Rivera said he didn't know the extent of the injury.

Panthers general manager Marty Hurney said the team should know more on Monday, but Olsen's teammates made it sound like the 33-year-old won't be returning anytime soon.

Panthers center Ryan Kalil said Olsen was "pretty upset" after the game.

"I feel bad for him," Kalil said. "He works incredibly hard, he cares a vast amount. He does a nice job, and he was out doing his job for his team, and it breaks my heart for him. Hopefully he gets some good news."

The Panthers will likely turn to rookie Ian Thomas as their starting tight end Andrew Luck Jersey , although Cam Newton suggested the front office might need to make a roster move to add a tight end.

"You guys know how I feel about Greg, you can't ever replace him, his professionalism that he brings to the game, his overall outlook, his IQ, his understanding," Newton said.

If history is any indication, running back Christian McCaffrey will see more balls thrown his way with Olsen out. McCaffrey was used as Newton's safety valve last season and finished with a franchise rookie record 80 receptions.

The Panthers also lost right tackle Daryl Williams to a knee injury, although the severity is not known.

Things we learned from Carolina's win over Dallas:

KICKING TALK: Cowboys fans still angry about the team's decision to release Dan Bailey, the NFL's second-most accurate field goal kicker in history, will have more ammunition this week.

Replacement Brett Maher missed his only field goal attempt from 47 yards wide to the right. It came late in the third period with Dallas trailing 10-0.

Intermittent rain made for a sloppy field at Bank of America Stadium on a windy afternoon, conditions Maher brushed off.

"I know what my job is Randall Cobb Jersey ," Maher said. "My role on this team is to go out there and when I get a chance, put points on the board. I didn't do that today."

REPLACING GREGORY: Randy Gregory's return to football didn't last long.

The Cowboys defensive end, who missed the 2017 season because of multiple violations of the league's substance abuse policy, left the game in the first half with a concussion. The league could reportedly rule on another possible substance-abuse related suspension as early as this week.

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said he had no comment on those reports.

CHASING HIM DOWN: The fact that the Panthers sacked Dak Prescott six times bodes well for the Carolina defense, given he's an elusive quarterback.

"We know he's a scrambling quarterback and we know he likes to get out of the pocket," Panthers linebacker Shaq Thompson said. "There were some times he got out and escaped but overall, the D-line did a phenomenal job keeping him in the pocket."

Prescott finished 19 of 29 for 170 yards, but just a 8.9-yard average and two completions of more than 15 yards.

McCAFFREY'S TOUCHES: Panthers coach Ron Rivera said in ideal world McCaffrey would touch the ball "25-30 times per game" this season. But the versatile second-year back only got his hands on the football 16 times for 95 yards on Sunday.

McCaffrey rushed 10 times for 50 yards, with a long of 15, and caught six passes for 45 yards. Newton targeted him a total of nine times in the passing game.

McCaffrey's first carry, from the Dallas 5 in the first quarter and with the game still scoreless, resulted in a fumble that was recovered by Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence.

"It can't happen JK Scott Jersey , but it's football," McCaffrey said.

FULLBACK WEAPON: The Panthers might have a new goal line weapon in fullback Alex Armah, who scored on a 1-yard plunge on his first NFL carry.

Armah's number was called after C.J. Anderson's 9-yard run to within two feet of the goal line. The second-year pro out of Division II West Georgia said he wasn't surprised to get the carry in his 10th career game.

"I was just ready," said Armah, who primarily played special teams a year ago. "I wasn't too nervous because we practice it during the week. We go over it, so I really just tried to get into the end zone."

Once he did, Armah chose not to give the ball away despite Newton's pleading with him. He wanted to keep it to mark the milestone.

"I don't blame him," Rivera said.

AP stringers Eli Pacheco and Justin Parker contributed to this report.

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