Category: New England Patriots

New England Patriots

Ravens sign QB Robert Griffin III to 1-year deal

Robert Griffin III is back.

The Ravens on Wednesday announced they have signed the free agent quarterback to a one-year contract to serve as Joe Flacco’s backup.

“He came in last week, worked out. Had a real good workout and we were able to come to an agreement late yesterday,” Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said Wednesday. “He will probably be here early next week to sign the deal.”

Bucks: Prunty said Brogdon (left quad) was evaluated Saturday and it was determined he wasn’t ready to go. The Bucks hope last season’s Rookie of the Year can play Monday. … Parker had averaged 20 points in his last three games.

Knicks: Coach Jeff Hornacek said he expected that Kanter and Hardaway would play again this season if healthy, refusing to rule them out for the final two games. “Those guys are all competitors and that’s what we like about them,” Hornacek said. … Knicks starters had no turnovers in the first half and the team had just two total, both by Luke Kornet.

The Knicks held Latvian heritage night in celebration of Latvia’s 100th anniversary. The New York Latvian Concert Choir sang the national anthem and Latvia President Raimond Vejonis was presented with a personalized jersey by Knicks All-Star Kristaps Porzingis, who is from Latvia.

Chicago is the last major league team to hold its home opener. It began the season with a 5-4 road trip to Miami, Cincinnati and Milwaukee.

The Cubs’ new-look bullpen has shined so far. It has a major league-best 0.94 ERA through 38 1/3 innings. Brandon Morrow picked up his first two saves over the weekend since he signed with Chicago in the offseason.

“We’ve got a lot of guys with a lot of good stuff,” Morrow said. “When we’re going to continue to be in the strike zone like we have been, I mean you see the results. Guys are getting quick outs and strikeouts when they need to. Been limiting the free passes for the most part, and just really going in with a lot of confidence.”

Pittsburgh is off to a surprising 7-2 start. It took three of four against Cincinnati in its previous series.cardinals_049

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Max Scherzer caps complete-game shutout with first career stolen base

Washington Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer, not content with just another lights-out pitching performance, decided to add another weapon to his arsenal against the Atlanta Braves on Monday night — his blazing speed.

Scherzer singled to right field, leading off the top of the seventh inning with the Nationals holding a 2-0 lead. Then, with Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman playing behind him and an 0-2 pitch to leadoff hitter Trea Turner, Scherzer took off and stole second base.

With the combination of Scherzer’s great jump and a low-outside pitch by Braves pitcher Peter Moylan, catcher Kurt Suzuki had no chance and never attempted a throw.

He struck out 10 and walked none, not allowing a Braves hitter to get past first base while throwing just 102 pitches in his ninth career complete game.

And Scherzer’s stellar performance came at a good time for the Nationals, who got back to .500 after losing five in a row.

Gronkowski has been the subject of trade rumors in recent weeks as coach Bill Belichick’s aggravation with him seemingly grows. Earlier this week, Gronkowski said he was pretty certain he’d return to the Patriots as long as quarterback Tom Brady remains with the team. However, lingering frustrations remain and Belichick has questioned whether Gronkowski is all in after he reportedly considered retirement to pursue a career in acting.

There are only a few options on tonight’s slate, as the wise fantasy manager will be building around a motivated star. If you want to go full stars and scrubs, I fully condone it, but Davis is the high-end player I am making sure I get as much exposure to as I can. As the Pellies look to qualify for postseason play, they have not been shy about leaning on The Brow (nearly 37 minutes per game over the past two weeks), and I’ll happily invest in that level of court time against a checked-out Clippers team that has given up at least 110 points in all four April games.cardinals_093

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Bob McNair says he regrets apologizing for ‘inmate’ comments after NFL protests

Texans owner Bob McNair made headlines last season when he referred to the NFL as inmates running the prison. Although months have passed since he made those comments, McNair admitted he is only sorry for apologizing afterward.

The main thing I regret is apologizing, McNair said, adding, I really didn’t have anything to apologize for.

McNair told the Wall Street Journal he doesn’t think he was in the wrong for the remarks he made at the NFL owners meeting in October. While discussing the ongoing national anthem protests, McNair used a figure of speech for an analogy, saying, We can’t have inmates running the prison.

Washington hadn’t lost that many consecutive games since a seven-game rut in June 2016.

Nationals 1B Ryan Zimmerman went 0 for 4, dropping his season batting average to .097. His early production is getting a lot of scrutiny because he took only two Grapefruit League at-bats, instead opting to prepare in spring training on back fields and against minor league pitchers.

Molina’s version was he said a bad word to me and I reacted that way. He called me [it] twice. You can’t allow that.

I know he was frustrated with what I said, and I can’t blame him, Lovullo said. I was giving him more of a compliment in saying that he’s very good and didn’t necessarily follow through, to execute the right way of my words to tell that that’s what I was thinking.

Lovullo had not tried to reach out to Molina.

I just want everything to settle down and go away, Lovullo said. I know that it’s a big story. It happened, and I can see why it’s a big story, I’m not trying to downplay it, I just want the dust to settle a little bit and think through it through a really clearer lens.

Lovullo said he expects to be fined for the ejection.

I’ll deal with the consequences, he said.cardinals_138

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Cowboys had interest in Kony Ealy in 2014 draft

If DeMarcus Lawrence wasn’t still on the board in the second round of the 2014 draft, when the Cowboys moved up to take him 34th overall, Dallas wanted Kony Ealy. This season, they get both.

“He’s a young, developing player, and we feel like he’s got a lot of football left in him,” Garrett said.

Ealy played in the Jets’ 3-4 defense last season. But in his first three seasons, Ealy played defensive end in Carolina, so the Cowboys are confident he fits their Tampa 2 scheme.

“That’s always a challenge when you’re talking about players you get from other teams, players you get coming out in the draft,” Garrett said. “What their exposure has been, what system they’ve played in. We’re fortunate that Kony has played in a system similar to ours in Carolina. We saw him as a four-down type of player coming out of school. So we don’t feel like he has any physical limitations. He’s been exposed to some different systems now as a pro, so we feel like that will benefit him.”

As Mehta notes, Mayfield had off-the-charts completion percentage at Oklahoma. The Jets, however, have concerns about his footwork.

Ultimately, the decision will be made by G.M. Mike Maccagnan, who surely has at a minimum a strong lean, with the draft only 19 days away. Through it all, the reality remains that the Jets need to be willing to take whichever quarterback is third on their list, because the chance remains that No. 1 and No. 2 will be long gone by the time the Jets are on the clock.

From a P.R. standpoint, this makes it critical for Maccagnan to keep his cards close to the vest. Ultimately, he needs to be able to say that he got his No. 1 guy at No. 3. Even if he didn’t.texans_104

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Allen Robinson: “Exciting” to learn a new offense

Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson is working his way back from the torn ACL that brought his 2017 season to an early end and one might wonder if learning a new offensive system at the same time would be too much for the free agent acquisition.

Robinson doesn’t see things that way. He said it has been “exciting” to learn the system being put in place by Bears head coach Matt Nagy and used the same word to describe what it’s like to work with quarterback Mitchell Trubisky on getting the scheme down pat.

“It’s been a tremendous blessing to have Jordan,” Allen said.

Allen isn’t the only highly touted QB that Palmer is training, which actually has an ancillary benefit to the former. Darnold and Allen have become close by going through a shared experience while pushing each other on the field.

At a press conference introducing Cooks on Thursday, General Manager Les Snead said there won’t be an impact on those talks.

“None of it affects Aaron Donald,” Snead said, via Rich Hammond of the Orange County Register. “He’s one of 53 and he’s budgeted into the budget. We didn’t do all this and forget about him.”

The Rams have plenty of cap space in 2019 and they’ll have money to spend even if Donald is taking up a big chunk of it. Holding onto everyone would be a bit more difficult, especially with players like Jared Goff and Todd Gurley coming up on new contracts relatively soon, so Snead’s plate should remain full for quite a while.

For the immature and media-hungry Beckham, it’s just more fuel for his oversized ego.

Trevone Boykin was accused of viciously beating his girlfriend last Tuesday. It wasn’t until this Tuesday — a day after the victim went on Dallas’s WFAA-TV to tell her story — that the Seahawks released him, although they reportedly knew of the investigation into the incident soon after it happened.

The NFL might never get a grip, collectively or with each team, on how to deal with players in these situations. The way the Seahawks handled this one doesn’t create much confidence. Until this, Boykin was the only backup for Russell Wilson under contract. Until this, they were ready to ride with him.texans_092

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With 17 days until the draft, it’s nit-picking time

For Allen, it may be staring down a receiver. For each of the other top-tier quarterbacks, it’s something else. The challenge becomes figuring out who will overcome those deficiencies and become great players at the next level.

Yes and no.

The Broncos initially had strong interest in Kirk Cousins, but as the odds of signing him diminished, Denver quickly turned its focus toward securing what many feel was the second-best option on the free-agent market. Not that there’s necessarily anything wrong with that, considering the huge gamble Minnesota took by signing Cousins to an unprecedented three-year, $84 million deal.

Elway also was wise to quickly change gears: Keenum told co-host Mark Dominik and me on SiriusXM NFL Radio that “there were honestly a few teams” showing interest.

“We got with our agents and went through the options of what teams might be looking for quarterbacks,” Keenum said. “Denver was on the list and far-and-away, as we did our homework, emerged as the top one. Not only the team, organization, city, but the players, coaches, all the staff here.”

That includes one of the biggest factors in Keenum’s arrival: his former head coach, who now has Elway’s ear when it comes to building rosters.

That would match the record of six quarterbacks set in 1983, when John Elway went first overall to the Colts (and then was traded to the Broncos), Todd Blackledge went seventh to the Chiefs, Jim Kelly went 14th to the Bills, Tony Eason went 15th to the Patriots, Ken O’Brien went 24th to the Jets and Dan Marino went 27th to the Dolphins.

This year’s draft will certainly see more quarterbacks drafted at the top of the first round. It’s possible that Darnold, Allen, Rosen and Mayfield will all go within the top half dozen picks. In 1983, teams would wait for a quarterback to fall to them, but these days teams will move up to take a franchise quarterback. When it’s all said and done, six teams may get their man in the first round this year.

I occasionally did this with descending players who still had value to the team in their playing abilities and leadership skills but whose contracts needed to be adjusted. Hitting a veteran player and his agent with this option was tough, as prideful vets typically don’t want to face their teammates after taking pay cuts. Word always gets out quickly.patriots_110-223x223

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Mets rout Cardinals in opener behind Yoenis Cespedes’ 3 RBI, Syndergaard’s 10Ks

Yoenis Cespedes drove in three runs and newcomer Adrian Gonzalez hit a go-ahead double to lead Noah Syndergaard and the New York Mets past the St. Louis Cardinals, 9-4, in their opener Thursday.

Syndergaard (1-0) struck out 10 and walked none in six innings after missing most of last season with a torn lat muscle. Leadoff man Brandon Nimmo, subbing for injured All-Star Michael Conforto, reached safely four times and scored twice as the Mets chased a furious Carlos Martinez in the fifth inning to make Mickey Callaway a winner in his first game as a manager.

Bo Melton is having an outstanding spring. He’s had a good offseason, Ash said. There are a lot of things on a freshman that’s playing, but he’s learned to handle it. He understands what to expect, he understands how to handle his business. He’s really matured. When he shows up to football, he can focus on football and not be distracted from a lot of other things. I really like where Bo is at.

Teams had asked him to also go through wide receiver drills for a potential position change, despite the fact that he’s never played the position. Jackson told reporters at the combine he is not open to switching positions and highlighted his skills as a quarterback.

I’m mobile, Jackson said. I can hit any target on the field. I love the game with a passion. I can lead my team; I feel like I’m a field general when I’m out there. I love to score. I love to put the ball in other people’s hands. I’m not a ball hog at all. It may look like it, but I’m not. I just love winning.

Jackson won the 2016 Heisman Trophy and holds a number of career and single-season records at Louisville. He has struggled with accuracy and ball placement at times, but those questions have come in stark contrast to potential No. 1 overall pick Josh Allen. patriots_038-223x223

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Cowboys’ coaches think Dez Bryant is slipping physically

Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant is 29 years old, and may already be past his prime.

That’s the word from Albert Breer of SI.com, who reports that the Cowboys’ coaches began to see Bryant slip physically in 2015 and now think he just isn’t the same player he was when the Cowboys signed him to a five-year, $70 million contract. That physical decline is measurable, as Bryant has lost inches on his vertical jump.

“Based on last year,” one member of the Cowboys’ staff told Breer, “he does very few things really well.”

Spurrier wouldn’t have to worry about that with the Alliance. Plus, he’d be able to do what he misses most working with quarterbacks while still having plenty of time for his golf game.

Jeff Fisher: Multiple NFL sources have told Sporting News that Fisher believed he had a strong chance to become an NFL head coach again in 2018. The rapid rise of the downtrodden Rams in the first year after his firing didn’t help Fisher’s cause. The Alliance would give him a chance to reinvent himself; a chance that might not be coming in the NFL again unless it comes as an assistant.

He started his career in Minnesota after the Vikings made him a seventh-round pick in 2013. He played 23 games and made 18 tackles in two seasons with the Vikings.

Mauti didn’t make the Saints’ season-opening roster last season but signed October 18 and played 11 games with two starts.

Vander Esch has displayed the type of skill set that would make him attractive to a linebacker corps missing Ryan Shazier, whose NFL career is in question because of last December’s spinal cord injury. Vander Esch enjoyed a brilliant junior season that featured 141 tackles, four sacks and four forced fumbles as a do-it-all weakside linebacker.

Suffice to say, Vander Esch has made a successful transition from playing eight-man football at a high school (Salmon River) that had less than 100 students.

“I feel like we didn’t really have like a specific assignment or anything,” Vander Esch said. “It was just, ‘Go out there and play ball and call the plays and run them.’

“You get to the (FBS) level though — the 11-man side of it — and it totally changes.”texans_043

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Glennon’s 2017 season was even worse that of Bradford’s outside of the ridiculous $18 million he received to sign with Chicago as a free agent.

Glennon, who joined the Bears believing he had a legitimate chance to become the team’s franchise quarterback, immediately knew his days were numbered when Chicago made Mitchell Trubisky the draft’s No. 2 overall pick just six weeks after his signing.

The end came after four pedestrian games in which Glennon had committed eight turnovers and gotten sacked eight times while leading an offense that averaged a paltry 15.3 points. Like in Tampa Bay the previous two seasons with Jameis Winston, Glennon spent the rest of the season on the sideline watching a neophyte QB (Trubisky) take his lumps.

Cousins should offer a much higher floor, given that he’s been playing at this level for nearly three full seasons since the famous “You Like That?!” game against the Buccaneers.

He has played with a solid offensive line in Washington and had useful receivers from Jamison Crowder to Chris Thompson alongside him, but the running game was a mess most of the time under Jay Gruden, ranking 32nd in DVOA in 2015 and 28th last season.

(To be fair, they were fourth in 2016.) Just as Keenum got a boost from playing in Minnesota, it would hardly be a surprise to see Cousins reach new heights, too.

The coaching infrastructure should be sound, given that Minnesota blocked quarterbacks coach Kevin Stefanski from leaving and replaced Pat Shurmur with highly regarded Philadelphia quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo.

In that limited time of regular-season play, he completed 64.7 percent of his passes with six touchdowns and two interceptions. His career 93.6 passer rating would’ve landed 13th among the numbers put up by starting quarterbacks in 2017 ahead of players like Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan, Dak Prescott, and Derek Carr.

A fifth-round pick in 2014, McCarron entered the NFL after leading the Alabama Crimson Tide to back-to-back BCS National Championship victories. Since then, he’s had four years of learning from Bengals coaches Hue Jackson, Ken Zampese, and Bill Lazor.

In his brief time on the field, McCarron has been relatively efficient and mistake free. With Kirk Cousins drawing the major attention in free agency, a team may be drawn to the idea that McCarron’s best is still ahead of him and he could quickly outplay his price tag.ravens_172

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Tim Tebow’s freak injury joins long list of odd spring training mishaps

There’s just something about spring training, and the greater offseason in general, that brings out odd mishaps and injuries in baseball. Tim Tebow’s sprained ankle, thanks to an unfortunate run-in with a sprinkler, is just the latest example.

Type “weird spring training injuries” into the ol’ Google machine and a bevy of articles comes up. But to save you the trouble, here’s a quick rundown of some of the truly weird ones.

And then there’s the urban legend of a young John Smoltz burning his chest when he tried to iron a shirt while wearing it. But, to be fair, Smoltz says that’s not really what happened.

Even before players arrive in spring training, the offseason tends to put people in position to hurt themselves in other ways. Just this past offseason, Royals manager Ned Yost nearly died after he fell while repairing a tree stand used for hunting. And a year before that, Royals pitcher Brian Flynn missed eight weeks after he fell through the roof of a barn. (Note: If you’re associated with the Royals, please avoid high places.)

Spring training is often dull because the games are meaningless and the stats don’t count, so tallying freak injuries is definitely a worthy way to pass time until Opening Day.

The 80-year-old Cepeda was rushed to the hospital last Tuesday after suffering cardiac arrest and falling in a parking lot, where he suffered a “severe blow to the skull,” according to the San Jose Mercury News. He had been listed in critical condition.

Cepeda looked healthy last month at former teammate Willie McCovey’s 80th birthday party at AT&T Park, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Nicknamed “Baby Bull” because of his thick build, Cepeda earned NL Rookie of the Year honors in 1958, the year the Giants moved from New York to San Francisco.

One of baseball’s top power hitters through the 1960s and early ’70s, the first baseman-outfielder was traded to the Cardinals in 1966 for pitcher Ray Sadecki. He then won the NL MVP award in 1967 as St. Louis won the World Series, cementing the trade as one of the worst in Giants history.seahawks_131_58a762570ecc8749-180x180

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