Monthly Archives: August 2017

NHL trivia Q: Who was the first-ever Vegas Golden Knight? A: Reid Duke

The expansion Vegas Golden Knights’ first-ever player is free agent center Reid Duke, 21, who on Monday signed an entry-level NHL contract with the team.

The Golden Knights last week officially became a team when they made their final expansion-fee payment to the league, allowing them to begin signing college or junior hockey free agents.

After further evaluation from our team doctors, it was determined that the best road to recovery was surgery, Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic said, via the Denver Post. Doing this procedure at this time ensures that Semyon will be fully healthy for the start of training camp.

The 28-year-old has been a reliable netminder for the Avalanche the past three seasons, but his body has broken down on him during the 2016-17 campaign. Varlamov has missed 12 of Colorado’s last 18 games, and he has been ineffective when healthy enough to take the ice.

Varlamov will end the season with a 6-17-0 record, a 3.38 goals-against average, and an .898 save percentage, by far the worst numbers of an NHL career that began eight years ago with the Capitals.

Calvin Pickard has received the majority of the starts in Varlamov’s absence and will be the top choice going forward, with backup from rookie Spencer Martin.

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Pro Football Hall of Fame 2017 class: LaDainian Tomlinson, Kurt Warner headline inductees

The Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2017 was inducted Saturday night, and each inductee thanked those who helped them reach their goals. LaDainian Tomlinson’s speech focused on unity in the United States, and Kurt Warner talked about how Dan Marino’s face on a Wheaties box in a grocery store motivated him to not give up his dreams of becoming an NFL quarterback. Kenny Easley, Jason Taylor, Morten Andersen, Terrell Davis, and Jerry Jones also gave great speeches.

The games against Jason are some of my most (well, maybe least) memorable. He is one of the greatest players I’ve ever faced, having had the pleasure of looking across the line and seeing him on the opposite side of the ball, not once, but twice each season for a decade. While I entered the league with a health respect for Jason and the Miami defense he led, my admiration for him as a player and a person only grew with each play, each game, each season.

The word I typically used to describe Jason was tenacious. His effort was second to none. Regardless of the situation, Jason came after me with the same reckless abandon on each and every snap, getting to his target often. I remember hearing once he sacked me more than any quarterback in the NFL, a painful badge of honor for me. Jason was equally as incredible against the run and never took a play off.

Sure he was an explosive, athletic player, but it was his fierce tenacity that made him one of the league’s most dominant players for 15 years, and the reason we were on high alert every time No. 99 was in his pass rush stance.

Coach Belichick and the rest of the staff have a reputation for game planning against a team’s strengths. Perhaps the biggest compliment I can pay Jason is the amount of hours we spent watching game film over the years and going over what we needed to neutralize him. I can’t say we ever came up with a great answer.

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Donald is under contract and can be punished for not showing up.

Donald is still on his rookie contract through 2018 after the team picked up his fifth-year option. That means the Rams’ best player is making just $1.8 million this season.

The Rams gave a hefty extension last year to the underperforming Tavon Austin. He ended up with just over 500 receiving yards and three touchdowns last season, yet he’ll make almost $15 million in 2017. Donald led the Rams in sacks last year with eight, and he added 47 tackles and five pass breakups.

The Rams used the franchise tag on cornerback Trumaine Johnson and didn’t work out a long-term deal with the cornerback. Johnson’s $16.7 million price tag this season makes it about impossible for Los Angeles to work out an extension for Donald. The Rams are only working with just over $3 million in cap space this year.

Like Brown, Donald is under contract and can be punished for not showing up. That and the Rams’ difficult cap situation likely mean a brief holdout that doesn’t result in a contract for the defensive tackle.

QB Derek Carr (second round): The fourth pick of the second round started Week 1 and became the franchise QB the Raiders have spent over a decade looking for.

WR Allen Robinson (second round): Despite a disappointing 2016, Robinson remains an imposing matchup for opposing defenses, having scored 14 touchdowns in 2015.

WR Jarvis Landry (second round): Quickly became Ryan Tannehill’s favorite target, racking up 289 catches in three years. Should get a contract extension sometime soon.

WR John Brown (third round): There were a lot of good WRs in this draft, huh? Despite being slowed down by hamstring injuries, Brown is a big-play threat for Carson Palmer in Arizona.

LB Chris Borland (third round): He had a brilliant rookie season for the 49ers, looking like the natural successor to Patrick Willis. And then … he immediately retired, because the post-Harbaugh 49ers can’t have nice things.

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Stanley Cup playoffs three stars: Roman Josi’s late goal gives Predators 2-1 series lead

Two wins from the first Stanley Cup Final in Nashville history, the Predators have all the makings of a team of destiny.

Never mind their status as a de facto No. 8 seed. Roman Josi’s power-play goal with 3:43 remaining in Game 3 gave the Predators a 2-1 win over the Ducks and a two-games-to-one edge in a Western Conference finals that has quickly shifted in their favor.

Backed again by stellar defensive play and more timely goal scoring, the Preds thoroughly outplayed the Ducks. Josi, Ryan Ellis and Filip Forsberg combined for 20 shots on goal, matching the total of the entire Ducks roster. They out-attempted Anaheim, 75-38, and the possession numbers were equally lopsided.

Anaheim’s Corey Perry opened the scoring with 15:35 gone in the second period.

Of course, other leagues generate more revenue and have higher team salary caps than the NHL, and not every penny of an NFL pact is even guaranteed. But it is sobering to see that 67 players in the NBA 67! will make more than McDavid in 2017-18. As of today, 52 NFL players will pull in more than McDavid’s reported $13.25 million; and the EA Sports NHL 18 cover boy will make the same as Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel this season, sitting behind 85 other major league baseball players.

Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli said Wednesday that McDavid’s signing signals a partnership between the team and player, and that the young superstar could have sought more dollars and agreed to fewer years on the deal than he ultimately did.

In the end, both sides win.The Oilers lock up the face of the franchise for eight years, a major coup, and McDavid pockets $100 million before becoming an unrestricted free agent at 28.

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The Ravens had other options at quarterback.

Gurley is 6’1, 226 pounds. Arm tackles do not work against him because he’ll just run through them with his powerful legs. He reminds me of Jackson. Like Jackson, Gurley looks for contact and runs angry.

Look at how he shredded the Cleveland Browns in 2015. He broke tackles, plowed over and dragged their helpless defenders, and kept his legs churning for extra yards.

Gurley hit holes with so much force, you’re left in awe watching him. The thrill of seeing No. 30 gallop through defenses leaves you on the edge of your seats.

His powerful running is the reason to watch the Rams this season, maybe the only reason. I like to see my team win like the next fan, but I also love when players play with heart, grit, and passion. What makes Gurley fun to watch is that he displays all those traits.

Olson, 25, just finished a 12-game season with the Kansas City Phantoms of the Champions Indoor Football (CIF) league, an arena football league based in the Midwest.

He also spent time with the CIF’s Wichita Force and the Indoor Football League’s Iowa Barnstormers the same arena team that produced Kurt Warner.

Before his pro career got started, Olson was a career backup in college, spending four seasons at Stanford before transferring as a graduate student to Clemson. He never threw a pass at Stanford and completed one of three passes at Clemson for a loss of 1 yard.

The Ravens had other options at quarterback. Even if the team wanted to steer clear of Kaepernick, there’s a lengthy list of available players with NFL experience or, at the very least, positive passing yardage in college.

The logical explanation so far is that Olson’s time at Stanford gave him the inside track to John Harbaugh:

QB David Olson played for Jim Harbaugh at Stanford. He gave Olson a good review to John. He’ll join the #Ravens for practice tomorrow.

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6 reasons the NFL Hall of Fame game wasn’t a waste of time

There was no Dak Prescott and no Ezekiel Elliott. Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald were on the sideline. But still, when the Cardinals and Cowboys faced off in the Hall of Fame game Thursday, it wasn’t nearly as bad as we expected.

Don’t believe us? Look how much fun Prescott, Elliott, and Dez Bryant had on the sideline.

It’s being a sports fan and watching some of my favorite all-time players either not finish in the place they started or the place where you fell in love watching them play or they did, Rodgers said. And seeing how different the memory is of those players as a fan, and seeing some of my favorite players growing finishing up now or have finished up in the last two or three years the Derek Jeters, the Kobe Bryants, the Tim Duncans doing it their entire career in one place, that makes things pretty special.

So again, I’m a realist as well. I have to play well, the team has to want to bring me back, but I’ve said I’d like to finish things here where we started.

For what it’s worth, Mike McCarthy thinks Rodgers is fully capable of staying at the top of his game until he’s 40.

I wouldn’t be surprised by it, with some good fortune, McCarthy said at the 2017 combine. As far as the conditioning and the level of conditioning from the guy, it’s off the charts.

Rodgers is entering his 13th NFL season, but he’s only been Green Bay’s starter since 2008, after Favre retired for the first time. Brady took over for an injured Drew Bledsoe in his second season, so he’s got a couple of extra years of wear and tear that Rodgers escaped. Still, Brady was clearly at the top of his game last season, with 3,554 yards, 28 touchdowns and just two picks over 12 games.

In 2016, Rodgers finished the season with 4,428 yards, 40 touchdowns, and seven interceptions. As long as he keeps it up, there’s no reason to think Rodgers won’t be right there in Green Bay when his 40th birthday rolls around.

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this time with head coach Mike McCarthy explicitly calling him out on it.

Lacy played 15 games in 2015 but was bothered by ankle and groin injuries for most of the year. His numbers took a big hit as a result Lacy’s yards per attempt dropped to 4.1 and he scored just five touchdowns all season. He also failed to reach the 1,000-yard mark, eventually settling into a backfield committee with James Starks.

After the season, Lacy’s weight became a talking point once again, this time with head coach Mike McCarthy explicitly calling him out on it. Eddie Lacy has a lot of work to do, McCarthy told Packers.com. I think I’m stating the obvious. His offseason last season was not good enough. He has to get it done. He cannot play at the weight he did this year.

Lacy got the message and set about shedding pounds that offseason, even taking up P90X training. The results were pretty convincing, to say the least. Looking leaner and more spry than ever, Lacy had a hot start to the 2016 season, rushing for 360 yards and averaging 5.1 yards per carry in the first five games. Unfortunately, he picked up another ankle injury that required surgery, shutting down his season early.

Verrett is kind of in the same boat as Watkins: good-to-great player who simply can’t stay healthy for a long stretch. He missed 10 games in 2014 and two in 2015 with injuries, before a torn ACL ended his 2016 season after just four games. When he’s on the field, Verrett is easily the Chargers’ best cornerback, and he should form a strong duo with Casey Hayward if his recovery from knee surgery goes well. He does have a 2015 Pro Bowl appearance to his name.

The best name in the first round is also a pretty good safety. Clinton-Dix has been a fixture in Green Bay’s secondary, never missing a single game in three years and recording a career-high five interceptions last season. He’s the bright spot in a Packers defense that’s otherwise struggled with consistency.

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This time of year for everyone in the league is anxious and exciting

The Jets went from 10-6 in 2015 to half as many wins in 2016. There doesn’t seem to be much optimism about the career prospects of Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty, and 38-year-old veteran Josh McCown is probably going to start ahead of both young quarterbacks anyway.

Unless the additions of Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye suddenly revives a Jets defense that went from No. 9 in points allowed in 2015 to No. 28 a year later, it’s hard to believe much in New York’s chances.

This time of year for everyone in the league is anxious and exciting, Payton said. Every year is different, and I think in today’s game you have to set things up differently. Whether you are coming off success or a lack of success, you’ve got to create a completely different slate, a new set of challenges and goals for your team. This league is different from the MLB or the NBA you can make that jump into the playoffs more readily.

This is an important camp for us. We’ve got two recent draft classes that should be ready to come on now. We’ve got some very good, very smart players on the PUP list (among them center Max Unger and left tackle Terron Armstead) who we look forward to getting back. But until then, this allows younger guys to get work at those positions.

Defensive tackle Nick Fairley (heart condition) is lost for the season possibly a career-ending situation. But defensive end Alex Okafor is in as a free agent from the Arizona Cardinals. And promising cornerback Marshon Lattimore is in as a 2017 first-round draft pick. And future Hall of Fame running back Adrian Peterson is in the fold.

When the Saints take the field for training camp, you know who the big stars are to watch. What about the other guys?

The Saints have long featured the electric combination of Payton and quarterback Drew Brees, a prolific NFL head coach/quarterback duo. But this team’s recent struggles center on its defense.

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the NFL and NFLPA released a joint statement saying player safety is our primary concern

Graham spent the entire offseason rehabbing the knee, and it would’ve been safe to assume that he’d open the season on the PUP list, sitting out the first six weeks. For comparison’s sake, Cruz tore his patellar tendon late in the 2014 season, sat out all of 2015, and didn’t return until last year, mostly looking like a shell of his former self.

But Graham managed to defy all expectations and was back on the field for Week 1. Fully integrated into the Seahawks offense, he became one of Wilson’s more reliable weapons, turning 95 targets into 65 catches, 923 yards, and nine touchdowns. He still wasn’t quite the focal point that he was in New Orleans, but Graham firmly re-established himself as one of the league’s better tight ends and was named to the third Pro Bowl of his career.

If 2017’s preseason opener between the Dallas Cowboys and Arizona Cardinals gets even a coin toss in, it will have exceeded the 2016 Hall of Fame Game. Last year’s scheduled matchup between the Packers and Colts was called off after extreme heat in Canton turned the field’s synthetic turf into a hardened, sticky mess.

At the time, the NFL and NFLPA released a joint statement saying player safety is our primary concern, and as a result, we could not play an NFL game on this field tonight.?

The end result was an underwhelming start to the 2016 preseason. Fans who made the trip to Ohio were forced to head home without seeing Aaron Rodgers or Andrew Luck take the field.

2017 promises to be better, if only because the game will actually take place (we think).

If this were the regular season, the headlining matchup would be a showdown between two of the league’s best tailbacks. Cowboys runner Ezekiel Elliott’s premier season was an unrequited success; he topped the NFL and threatened Eric Dickerson’s rookie record with 1,631 rushing yards. On the other sideline is David Johnson, who led the league with 2,118 yards from scrimmage in his second season as a pro.

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Irving has been heavily linked with a move to either the Knicks or Spurs.

The Cowboys went into the offseason with the salary-cap issues of a veteran team. They also were forced to shuffle their offensive line and needed to further address their defensive line. As Jerry Jones was celebrated as a class of 2017 Hall of Famer, some off-field news brought more bad publicity.

But so far, Ezekiel Elliott will remain starting in the backfield, alongside Nike Elite Cheap Jerseys Dak Prescott. They make the transition from rookies who delivered well beyond expectations to second-year standouts expected to lead as part of the nucleus. With Elliott and Prescott’s combined explosiveness and efficiency setting the tone, Dallas suddenly has a high floor to match a brand new ceiling. The Cowboys, if those two stay healthy, are too steady to succumb to any sophomore slump.

With less than a month to go before the league’s trade deadline, Jackson is trying to see if he can accomplish now what he could not accomplish then: ridding the Knicks of Anthony and starting over with youth.

It is what Jackson would have preferred from the beginning, knowing that the style San Jose Sharks Cheap Jerseys of play he wants to employ with the Knicks is incompatible with Anthony’s ball dominance. But Jackson won’t find a deal for Anthony easy to come by. For one thing, Anthony’s contract (three more years, with an option, at $58 million) is prohibitive. For another, Anthony’s advancing age and diminishing skillset have dented his value.

Irving has been heavily linked with a move to either the Knicks or Spurs. In New York, Irving would be the focal point — as long as Carmelo Anthony goes the other way — which means he could be the man to save the dysfunctional franchise.