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Bears use transition tag on Kyle Fuller, have right to match any offers

The Chicago Bears used the transition tag on cornerback Kyle Fuller, guaranteeing Fuller $12.971 million for 2018 and giving Chicago the right to match any offers.

This hasn’t prevented the occasional disastrous top pick from entering the league. Anthony Bennett would be the most obvious example, although it would have been hard to find many in June 2013 who believed he was the draft’s best prospect. It so happened that one person who did was holding the No. 1 overall pick: GM Chris Grant of the Cavaliers. He lost that job less than a year later.

However, the one-and-dones who have been prominent picks have, on balance, been extremely successful.

There’s no doubt that as you’re watching a 17-year-old grow into an 18/19-year-old NBA prospect, there’s no question the higher level you get to eyeball him at, the more helpful it is in determining whether a guy is going to be a good NBA player or not, said college basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla, who covers the draft for ESPN.

That’s why baseball drafts 40 rounds, because oftentimes they’re taking high school players who are going to flame out. It’s harder to evaluate a player at the high school level than if he’s playing in the ACC or Big 12.

Although Martinez will be Boston’s primary designated hitter, he is expected to get time in the field. With the Red Sox playing split-squad games, he played left field and batted cleanup.

Facing Twins right-hander Jake Odorizzi, Martinez twice flied out.

“Seeing the ball, just going up there and trying to slow the ball down as best as I can and swing at strikes,” Martinez said. “Really, that’s all I was really worried about — just get a pitch over the plate and put a good swing on it.

“It felt good. It was fun. You don’t realize how much you miss something until you can’t do it and you haven’t been able to do it for a while. So it was fun to get out there.”

The AL East champion Red Sox announced Feb. 26 that they had signed Martinez to a $110 million, five-year deal. The 30-year-old hit a combined .303 with 45 home runs and 104 RBIs last season in 119 games with Detroit and Arizona.

In his first game for Boston, Martinez hit behind Hanley Ramirez, who was serving as the DH. It’s a combination the Red Sox hope will add punch to a lineup that finished last in the American League with 168 home runs last season.lions_100

The Oakland Raiders went from 12-4 in 2016 to a 6-10 mark in 2017.

The drop off perhaps wasn’t too surprising, considering the Raiders were 8-1 in games decided by seven points or fewer in 2016. But there’s one match here that matters more than others — and that’s between Gruden and quarterback Derek Carr.

Gruden has earned a reputation as a quarterback guru, between winning a Super Bowl in 2002 with Brad Johnson and his work with ESPN and his quarterback camp segments. Carr received a $125 million extension last offseason, and he was in the MVP conversation for a good chunk of the 2016 season before an injury ended his year. Carr struggled to regain his form in 2017, however.

The Philadelphia native hurt in this way is not disappointed with the outcome either way, because the Eagles won and that time I cracked my skull on the pavement makes for an excellent story.

In this stage, individuals embrace their mortality and revert into a primal state, desirous of fiber wherever it comes from. Typically unacceptable social behavior becomes normal, and the poop eater is often praised by their ilk.

Forte had some decent production when healthy last season, but he was further hampered by knee injuries and turned 32 in December. He’s too expensive for the Jets to retain with limited return on investment.

Quinn is still relatively young, turning 28 in May. After an incredibly slow first half of the 2017 season, he reeled off six sacks in the Rams’ final six regular-season games. The only way Quinn stays in LA is if he agrees to a pay cut.

San Francisco’s quarterbacks were sacked on only 6.6 percent of their dropbacks, a relatively middling rate. A closer look shows those passers dealt with much more pressure than the numbers suggest. 49ers quarterbacks were hit 116 times last season — more than all but four teams in the league. That’s a stark reminder of the pocket-collapsing pressure Garoppolo had to face as his season wore on.patriots_009

Krejci snaps tie late in 3rd, Bruins rally past Oilers 3-2

Patience paid off for the Boston Bruins on Tuesday night.

David Krejci broke a tie with 1:04 remaining and Boston rallied for a 3-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers.

Noel Acciari and Matt Grzelcyk also scored for the Bruins (37-13-8), who have won seven of nine and are one point back of NHL-leading Tampa Bay in the Atlantic Division. Boston trailed 2-0 before scoring three times in the third period.

The Oilers scored the game’s first goal with 1:31 left in the opening period — despite being outshot 13-2 to that point — when Strome beat Khudobin on a 2-on-1 break for his ninth of the season.

The Bruins came close five minutes into the second when David Pastrnak’s shot clanged off the post behind Talbot, but instead the Oilers extended their lead just more than six minutes later when a knuckler by Khaira beat Khudobin up high.

The shots favored the Bruins 29-14 through 40 minutes.

Boston got on the board 4:37 into the third when Acciari swung a puck in front of the Edmonton net and it bounced off Strome and in to make it 2-1.

Cousins has been with the Redskins since they selected him in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL Draft. Washington took Robert Griffin III with the No. 2 overall pick that season, but after Griffin was named the NFL’s Rookie of the Year in 2012, injuries derailed him and Cousins stepped in. The former Michigan State quarterback has started every game for the Redskins since 2015 and was a Pro Bowler in 2016, where he threw for 4,917 yards with 25 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.

Cousins has thrown for over 4,000 yards in each of this three seasons as a starter, but the Redskins have just one playoff appearance and have seen their wins dip each season. After placing a franchise tag on Cousins last season, paying him nearly $24 million, the Redskins signaled the end of his time in Washington when they traded for Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith.

That Jan. 30 trade didn’t sit right with Swearinger, who was upset the team sent second-year cornerback Kendall Fuller to Kansas City. Swearinger was initially upset Washington traded away the “best No. 1 slot corner” in the league, but said Monday he’s “extremely over it.”jays_319_96df3c75400e9cf8-180x180

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The Hornets are averaging 128 points against the Wizards this season.

After declining to offer general manager Rich Cho a new contract, Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan is planning to target former Los Angeles Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak for a high-ranking role in the organization, league sources told ESPN.

Jordan is planning to continue grooming assistant GM Buzz Peterson as a foundation of Charlotte’s front office, and Kupchak is a primary target to partner with Peterson, league sources told ESPN.

The Hornets announced Tuesday that Cho’s contract will not be extended and that the search for a new GM will begin immediately.

“We were a little careless for whatever reason,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. “We just did not have that edge that we’ve had for the last couple of weeks.”

Led by Kaminsky, the Hornets’ reserves outscored the Wizards’ backups 50-26. Kaminsky hit six 3-pointers.

Walker, who scored 31 points in Thursday’s 111-96 victory over Brooklyn, had 15 points in the third quarter and five 3s overall.

“The one thing about Kemba — you never have to worry about him because he’s going to come alive at some point,” Williams said. “He did it last night. He did it again tonight.”

Black lives, they matter here, a group of protesters chanted. They wore shirts that said, You can’t play with black lives while they stood on the tracks.

Steele: He’s an unrestricted free agent in the NFL. The Browns released him in March 2016, so he’s free to sign with anyone. In the Canadian Football League his rights are very notably held by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, who put him on their international-players’ negotiation list in 2017. CFL teams hold the rights to players they claim until they trade or release them.

The Tiger-Cats talked contract with him last month, but when Manziel signed with the new Spring League, they issued a statement to wish [him] well. Training camps in the CFL open May 20, a month after the Spring League ends.

Some folks will criticize Hart for the way he acted, but an Eagles’ Super Bowl win doesn’t exactly happen every day. The guy was just having a good time, and it’s not like he climbed a lamp post or anything.bears_105-223x223

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Carruth, who did not testify at his trial, said he wants custody of Chancellor when he is released.

Saundra Adams has raised Chancellor, now 18. In past interviews with the Charlotte Observer, she has expressed that she would like to be present the day Carruth is released.

I should be raising my son. His mother should be raising her son, Carruth said. Ms. Adams should not be doing this and I want that responsibility back.

Then if you translate that to the Dunk Contest where players are trying to pull off dunks that they’ve been practicing for only a few weeks, it makes perfect sense that there are always so many missed or incomplete dunks. They’re trying to do things that are inherently hard as hell, with a relatively small window of preparation.

Even the easiest contest of the weekend, the Skills Challenge, shows that a bounce pass is not as routine as it may look in game highlights.

The whole weekend has to be boring because it’s the nature of it. Unless players take it upon themselves to give gravity to the contests, it’s all meaningless and there’s really no incentive for them to take it seriously. To add to that is the fact that athletic life is mostly built on failed attempts, whether it be dunks or shots or bounce passes. Usually we understand and forgive these missed attempts when they happen in a game. But no one really wants to watch the same failures away from the context of real wins and losses.

Garcia, for his part, never lost the faith despite entering last season as a career .258 hitter.

I believed, he said. I put in a lot of sacrifice. Play hard every single day.

The Celebrity Game, which started in 2003, has always underscored that vast range of appeal. The NBA just needed to find a way to include all of those various people into the larger conversation of the league. Fifteen years later, that’s clearly happened.

The power of the current NBA is that the league knows there’s enough space for everyone. Social media has helped in turning the league into a permanent global conversation, but the league has a unashamed realness and celebration of its people that others don’t. A bland product can appeal to a general audience, but it’s not fun. An authentic one that celebrates all, no matter who they are, is more engaging.

With that, the NBA can be more of a brand than merely a sport. It’s basketball, but it’s also a show, one full of unique characters that consumers of all walks of lives can understand.bears_121

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Through his first two seasons, Taillon is a respectable 13-11 with a 3.98 ERA over 43 starts.

I don’t want to say I feel things are easier now, because this game is never easy, but I do feel a lot more comfortable, Taillon said. Not just with the pitching aspect, but just everything that goes into playing in the major leagues.

You’ve got to put yourself in position to finish those races, and those guys have been positioning themselves, Harvick said. Whether it be fast cars, strategy, driver decisions, it takes a lot.

And who prevailed at Talladega last fall? Keselowski, who on the final lap, used a timely push from his teammate Logano to nudge by leader Ryan Newman.

There is some luck involved to not wrecking, without a doubt, Keselowski said. Last year in the [Daytona] 500, we missed three wrecks but got in the fourth one. That’s just timing. I don’t feel like there was anything I could do different, so that part takes a lot of luck. But to think that the person who wins [Sunday] is just lucky, his success is solely reliant on luck, is probably false.

Kiermaier, who is entering his fifth season with Tampa Bay, is the latest prominent player to comment on the Rays’ moves.

Rays ace pitcher Chris Archer said Sunday that designating Dickerson for assignment was perplexing, while former Tampa Bay star Evan Longoria, now with the Giants, also questioned the moves.

It’s kind of a shame,” Longoria said Sunday. I don’t understand it. [Dickerson] was an All-Star last year. He’s in his early prime. … It just doesn’t make sense to me. It doesn’t make sense to a lot of people. Corey will end up somewhere and continue to be the player that he is. But I kind of just feel bad for the Rays’ fan base.

It’s business as usual in the Ohio Valley, where Belmont and Murray State both appear to be a step or three ahead of the rest of the conference as we near the postseason. The Bruins beat Murray State in the only between the OVC powers, so they get the status of being the favorite as both teams stare down the final three games of the regular season.bears_039

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Teams will be eager to trade down and obtain additional picks, draft analysts say.

The group getting hosed here, though, are the Bengals coaches, who currently do not have contracts and who must decide if they should seek employment elsewhere or if they should wait and see if Lewis gets extended.

But the deals still could come once the draft begins Thursday night.

“Beyond [No.] 10 or 12 in this draft, about 40 guys all look alike,” said former Dallas Cowboys executive Gil Brandt. “And if there’s any possibility that you can move down and pick up an extra choice by moving down and still probably get a player from the same plateau, I’m not sure why you wouldn’t consider doing it.”

Of course, this requires finding a team willing to trade up. That’s the tricky part.

Late Sunday night, as he prepared to retreat to the sanctuary of his dressing room, where several family members were gathered, Pederson proudly broke down Foles’ final touchdown pass — the third-and-goal strike to Jeffery in the back of the end zone on the second play of the fourth quarter.

“He’s now getting into that rhythm,” Pederson said. “That throw he made to Alshon — in the back of the end zone, high, above the facemask — he couldn’t have put that any other place. And that comes from repetition with his guys; that’s Nick repping that route every single day in practice.”

These days, an Eagles’ practice might feature a quarterback and his receivers gelling and a chagrined coach yelling — all part of a dream the Eagles are selling to a growing legion of believers, with only Brady and Belichick left to spoil it.

When the world first got a glimpse of the year 2018, things were supposed to get wild in the NFL coaching circles, with one of the bloodiest Black Mondays in recent years coming down the pipe. Instead we were treated to a totally different situation, as only six jobs opened up over the course of the first 24 hours. jaguars_114

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Ateman did his thing against the Hokies.

He showed off his rebounding ability on a deep ball and was a safety valve for Rudolph as he scanned through his progressions. Ateman obviously doesn’t win with separation. His body and length provide him the requisite separation as the ball arrives.

Adams’ ability to win quickly in the short area bodes well for his fit in likely a zone-blocking scheme in the NFL. Playing with toughness as well as composure speaks to his tenacity as a blocker.

Scales is an All-American linebacker who has been a centerpiece to the Hoosier defense for the last four seasons. He is a good overall athlete who possesses solid speed and lateral agility. He has quickness as a blitzer and can get a good jump to put himself in position to provide pressure on opposing QBs. He is solid as a run defender, displaying good gap discipline, and he keeps his shoulders square when he’s filling at the point of attack.

The Dallas Cowboys learned that running back Ezekiel Elliott’s six-game suspension was upheld by arbitrator Harold Henderson on Tuesday night, but because of the timing of the announcement, Elliott will be allowed to play against the New York Giants on Sunday.

Elliott rushed for 1,631 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2016, plus caught 32 of 39 targets for 363 yards and a touchdown in the passing game, earning him the fourth-highest player rating at the position by the game charters at Pro Football Focus.

The Giants were the second-best team against the run last season per Football Outsiders, yet they struggled stopping the rusher at or behind the line of scrimmage (17 percent stuff rate, 20th in the league). Elliott, meanwhile, averaged close to three yards per carry after contact.

Coach Bill Belichick did little to tamp the speculation Tuesday, when he praised Rowe and had little to say about Butler, as Stephen Hewitt writes. Last year, the Patriots dealt linebacker Jamie Collins to the Cleveland Browns after it became clear he wanted a new deal. jaguars_076

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Rubio averages 11.3 points per game on 50.1 percent true shooting, making 29.7 percent of his 3-pointers.

Though these differences are stark, their shot-types can be broken down further to really tease out how they score. Let’s break down the primary perimeter options each year in this way, per Second Spectrum:

Hayward made 59.5 effective field goal percent (eFG%, field goal percentage factoring in 3-pointers made) of his 178 driving-layup attempts (out of 1,339 total shots), but most of his work was from the perimeter. He was outstanding in catch-and-shoot situations, making 74.4 eFG% of his 125 shots, and he was fine on the move as well, making 48.0 eFG% of his 122 catch-and-shoot-relocating shots. He was also relatively strong as a scorer off the dribble, taking 334 pull-up jumpers at a 44.9 eFG% clip and also took 155 shots over screens, hitting them at 52.3 eFG%.

“I was the one telling Zak if there was still some seat available for the Daytona 24, and in 10 minutes, we managed to finish everything [to do it].”

Alonso has one other non-F1 event on his radar: LeMans remains a possibility for this year.

“It is one thing I would like to do,” Alonso said. “I would like to compete in the best races in the world, and LeMans is one of the top races. One day I would like to do it. If that day will be this year or not, it’s to be discussed.”

Early in the second quarter, the Eagles went up 14-7 on an 11-yard run by LeGarrette Blount. Shortly before halftime, Foles, his play seemingly improving with every drive, hit Alshon Jeffery on a third-and-10, 53-yard pass play for a 21-7 lead. To top it off, they added a field goal for a 24-7 halftime lead.

In the third quarter, Foles, who turned 29 on Saturday, found Torrey Smith for a 41-yard touchdown pass that made it 31-7 and stunned the Vikings’ defense. It looked for a brief bit as if Keenum had found Thielen for a touchdown that would have narrowed the score to 31-13, but the ball clearly bounced off the ground on the fourth-down play.

The offense was unproductive Sunday in Atlanta, as QB Cam Newton was off target in a 14-for-34, three-interception performance. That won’t be nearly good enough against the Saints, who will demand the Panthers put forth a decent scoring performance to keep pace. TE Greg Olsen and RB Christian McCaffrey must be major factors. The defense is good enough. It’s all about whether Newton and the offense will come around.jaguars_039

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When it comes to the injuries, those within the league can’t believe the amount of misfortune.

Griffin turned it over again on an out-of-bounds pass before Rivers was tossed out after assistant Sam Cassell drew a technical on the Clippers’ bench. Woodson got a technical and then was booted.

“I literally got thrown out for saying, `You guys gave us some tough calls tonight,” Rivers said. “That was it. No swear words, nothing. … Just like players can lose their composure, officials can lose their composure as well. Sam got a technical for saying, `Three seconds.’ Blake said, `Over my back’ and got a technical.”

Obviously, Senior Bowl week is important for every player invited to the marquee college football all-star game. But these 10 future pros have the most riding on their week in Mobile. Each of these players is fighting a negative perception — whether it’s based on their level of competition in college or their overall game. The Senior Bowl is really their last shot in a true football atmosphere to change those perceptions.

Lee is seen as a “tools” prospect who didn’t put up great numbers during his collegiate career. He started the majority of two seasons at Tulane before transferring to Lincoln, but has struggled with interceptions, throwing 37 during his career against 46 touchdowns. Lee has a pro arm and good mobility, looking the part of a potential starter in the league. He needs to rely less on his arm and more on good decision-making during his time in Mobile, however, for scouts and coaches to convince their general manager that he is worthy of a selection in top 100 picks.

“I don’t think that’s going to affect people from saying, ‘I’m going to do what’s in the best interest of my football team and give my team the best chance to win,’” the commissioner said, “because that’s what every team wants to do.”

Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck hasn’t played all season, and Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s season ended with a knee injury in the preseason. The Dallas Cowboys are about to play their sixth straight game without suspended running back Ezekiel Elliott.

“Well, it’s certainly been frustrating to us,” Packers President Mark Murphy said this week at the NFL owners’ meetings in Dallas.

But Murphy, a former safety for the Washington Redskins, knows it’s about more than his own team. It’s about the entire league.jaguars_024

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