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Wilson was regarded as an ace recruiter when he took the job in 2016,

In 2011, SMI shifted one of Atlanta’s two races to Kentucky Speedway. The company also owns Bristol Motor Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Sonoma Raceway, and Texas Motor Speedway.

“We’re honored that NASCAR has entrusted us with a second NASCAR weekend,” Powell said. “We’ve pursued a second NASCAR premier series race weekend for quite some time, so this news is monumental for everyone at Las Vegas Motor Speedway as well as everyone in our wonderful city.”

NASCAR’s aversion to expansion left SMI with two options if it wanted to add a second race at Las Vegas: 1) purchase a race from a track outside its portfolio, or 2) shift a date from one of its existing properties. With no tracks outside of SMI indicating a willingness to sell, the first option wasn’t feasible, leaving realignment the lone alternative.

So now he has to coach. Either he will struggle like Orgeron did and leave his successor a stocked cupboard, or he will show that he’s learned from previous bosses’ mistakes and thrive. All we know is that he can still recruit and that his assistant coach hires have been interesting.
When you hire someone mostly known for recruiting instead of coordinator success or college head coaching experience, you don’t expect immediate success. P.J. Fleck went 1-11 in his first year at Western Michigan, after all, and in Orgeron’s first head coaching gig at Ole Miss, he never turned things around. There’s a learning process here, and there’s a foundation to be laid.

Summary: Wilson was regarded as an ace recruiter when he took the job in 2016, but before his recruiting even kicked in, he took a young squad and improved it by quite a bit. What might he do with actual experience?

Wilson went from small schools to big roles in a hurry. The Nicholls State grad spent seven seasons as a Louisiana high school assistant before taking the reins at O. Perry Walker High in 2000, at the age of just 26. He won state coach of the year honors in 2002, and by 2005 found himself in the college ranks.13

Could Tony Romo be involved in potential Cousins deal?

The Redskins, Cowboys and 49ers are flirting with the idea of an unprecedented three-team quarterback blockbuster.

The three organizations could soon discuss a trade that would send Kirk Cousins to San Francisco, Tony Romo to Washington and draft-pick compensation (including the No. 2 overall pick in April’s draft) to Dallas, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Friday, via sources informed of the potential talks.

To be clear, the proposed swap is in a stage so preliminary that serious negotiations have yet to take place — and might never reach fruition.

The Redskins are in a quarterback pickle after handing Kirk Cousins unheard-of leverage by way of a second consecutive franchise tag. 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan is an avowed Cousins booster. After mentoring Cousins for two years in Washington, Shanahan attempted to trade for the former Michigan State star after landing the Browns offensive coordinator job in 2014.

“We’re always going to look to invest in that position,” Brown said. “I think we’ve got three young guys on the roster between Robert, Cody and Kevin that we’re excited to have back. But we will always look to add to that position. We think there are some guys in the draft that are intriguing for us. There could be some guys in free agency, depending on how things shake out, that can help us, too.”

When Brown also said he could imagine entering the 2017 season with just those three on the roster, he was asked why.

“That could be the reality that we’re faced with, so it’s something that you have to prepare for,” Brown said. “It doesn’t mean that it’s an aiming point on our target. And I’d leave it at that. But we do like having Cody and the work they’ve put in. Robert’s come in and obviously had a tough year with the durability and the injury early. But the reality is those are three guys on our roster and we’ll continue to develop and work with them.13

Karl-Anthony Towns’ dad got injured by the Timberwolves’ mascot. Now, he might sue.

Karl-Anthony Towns Sr., the father of the reigning NBA Rookie of the Year, is considering his legal options after an incident during a January home game inflicted a serious leg injury, according to Sports Illustrated’s Michael McCann.

Those options include potentially suing the Minnesota Timberwolves for negligence.

During a timeout in the second quarter of the T’Wolves’ Jan. 26 loss to the Indiana Pacers, the Minnesota mascot lost control at the end of a sledding stunt down a flight of stairs. The mascot, named Crunch, crashed into an empty row of chairs, and those chairs hit the 54-year-old Towns, Sr.’s right knee.

The stunt is frequently performed at the Target Center and has been performed by the Utah Jazz mascot, as well.

Towns Sr. was in “considerable pain,” per McCann, using an ice pack to reduce swelling. He refused to seek medical care at the behest of team attendants, however, under the belief his absence would negatively influence his son’s play.

At least the referees were consistent, we suppose, since this play also earned Leonard a technical foul. After Damian Lillard missed the first technical free throw, Westbrook knocked down the second, resulting in a one-point swing in the game.

On the TNT broadcast, Reggie Miller complained about the game becoming “too soft” as the officials went back to look at the initial play that earned a technical.

The NBA’s increased emphasis on player safety, especially on hits around the head area, is good and important. But Miller might actually be right on this one. What lines of decorum do either of these plays cross? Did either really pose a threat for further escalation later on in the game? From our perspective, it doesn’t seem like it at all, for either one.13

Ryan Tannehill might not be the Dolphins’ starter for long

The Miami Dolphins’ 1-2 start has the coaching staff on edge, especially after a home blowout to the previously winless Kansas City Chiefs. For a team with playoff ambition, such a pedestrian early-season performance can lead to desperation. According to the Miami Herald’s Armando Salguero, the Dolphins may have crossed that threshold:

Selected eighth overall in the 2012 NFL Draft, Tannehill became an immediate starter for Miami, completing 58.3 percent of his passes for 12 touchdowns, 13 picks, and nearly 3,300 yards as a rookie. He improved on those numbers a year later, finishing with a completion rate north of 60 percent, 24 TDs to 17 picks, and just 87 yards shy of 4,000.

Shortly after Philbin threw Tannehill’s job status into doubt, Lazor contradicted his boss:

Still, if Tannehill’s struggles continue, Miami’s hot-seat head coach may have no choice but to make a change.

For his part, Tannehill chalks up his shortcomings with downfield passing to turnover aversion.

Jones was initially listed as questionable to return at the time of the injury, but his status was quickly downgraded once the medical staff took a closer look at the severity. It was reported after the game that Jones had his wrist wrapped with a plastic guard, though he noted at the time that he didn’t expect to miss any time. Obviously, that’s no longer the case.

Because the Steelers placed Jones on short-term IR, he’ll be eligible to return after eight weeks. That means that he could return to the lineup when Pittsburgh hosts the New Orleans Saints on Nov. 30.

One of the biggest concerns with Tennessee Titans quarterback Jake Locker is his ability to stay healthy. That issue has crept in yet again, with the team reporting that Locker injured his wrist during Sunday’s 33-7 loss against the Cincinnati Bengals.12

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie injury: Giants CB questionable after injuring calf

New York Giants cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie left the Thursday night game against Washington with an apparent calf injury and is questionable to return, according to Tracy Wolfson of NFL Network.

Midway through the second quarter, Rodgers-Cromartie exited the game and was on the sideline receiving treatment from the team’s medical staff.

Houston has been able to dominate on the ground behind Arian Foster. The sixth-year back, who is taking on the bulk of the carries after Ben Tate left for the Cleveland Browns in free agency, has 241 yards on 4.4 yards per carry. Rookie Alfred Blue has stepped into Tate’s old role, gaining 118 yards on 4.7 yards per attempt.

Over at CBS Sports, only Jason La Canfora and Ryan Wilson believe the Bills can go on the road and come away with a victory, while the rest of the eight-member panel is going with the Texans. However, half of the panel thinks Buffalo will be able to keep it close and cover the small 3.5-point spread.

USA Today features seven experts, and only Nate Davis is going with Buffalo to pull the upset. Only one man at SB Nation selected the Bills, as evidenced below. All the other picks can be seen by clicking here.

There’s nothing partisan about that. It’s just common sense. And wouldn’t it be nice to see something come out of Washington, D.C., that is for the benefit of the American people? I would love for this to be the issue that every party could agree on.

“Frankly, I’ve never heard a really good reason as to why they have this non-profit status,” she told me. We talked about why she’s doing what she’s doing, and why she believes her cause will win.3

Hawks get Ersan Ilyasova, trade Tiago Splitter to Sixers

The Atlanta Hawks have acquired forward Ersan Ilyasova from the Philadelphia 76ers for Tiago Splitter and draft considerations.

The Hawks were looking for frontcourt help in talks with teams in recent days and landed Ilyasova, who has been traded five times in the past three years. He is averaging 14.8 points and 5.9 rebounds in 56 games for the 76ers. He will be a free agent at the end of the season.

How does this deal affect Philly’s future and its young players? Will Ersan Ilyasova help the Hawks in the East? Kevin Pelton grades the trade.
Splitter has been plagued by injuries over the past two seasons and has not played this season due to a calf injury. He is also on the final year of his contract.

The Hawks will send a future second-round pick and give the 76ers swap rights on another second-round pick as part of the deal.

During the first two weeks of the season, Garoppolo went 13-of-17 for 205 yards and two touchdowns versus the blitz (five or more rushers). Yes, that speaks to his vision, quick release and ability to read coverages as we have already discussed, but I’ve also looked at plays on the tape that show his ability to buy time and throw from unstable platforms.

Take a look at this play, a touchdown pass to Amendola versus Miami where Garoppolo identified the pressure and bought extra time to deliver a perfect ball for six points.

George is scheduled to become a free agent in the summer of 2018. In last week’s interview with Stein, when asked about the possibility of signing a contract extension of more than $200 million that Indiana is expected to offer him this summer, George said: “As I told Larry, I always want to play on a winning team. I always want to be part of a team that has a chance to win it [all]. That’s important. … I want a chance to play for a chance to win a championship.”

 

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I can move around that’s huge, because you’re trying to make the team.

“We have positionals twice a week,” said Alabama lineman A.J. Shepherd, “where I train so I was working with the coach to learn guard and learn some more pulling. It’s different because at guard, you have to punch right away, but at tackle you can wait and see. I’ve just been working on both because I don’t know where I’m going to play.”

“I feel guard is a little easier,” noted Utah tackle Jeremiah Poutasi, “because of the fact the D-tackle is just right there. Right out of your stance, he’s right there in front of you. At tackle you need to be a little bit more fluid in your steps because you’re going against some of the best speed rushers. Not only that, you’re out in space by yourself. At guard you’ve got a lot of help, but guard also is more about being physical.”

I played left tackle in my career, but early on I played right tackle. I also took snaps at [center] at practice at the NFLPA Game, did some 9-on-7 work, some things like that, so to have the ability to snap the ball and play center, play a little guard out there too, I can move around that’s huge, because you’re trying to make the team. If there’s a hole at guard and all you know how to play is tackle, it’s hurting you for getting onto the field.”

At one point a Cleveland Browns beat writer asked him about Johnny Manziel and how last year’s must-see rookie quarterback’s first-year struggles will impact him. Winston waved it off, for one of the more refreshing moments of the 10-minute melee. He wasn’t worried about it, and reminded the audience that he was “not Johnny Manziel.” At least he wasn’t asked to “talk about” it.

The highlight of the whole affair came with just a few questions left on the clock when he reminded the huddle masses of pleated khakis about his weight.

“A lot of people thought I was fat, but I’m proving everybody wrong. I look good and I know it.”

Bell was to running backs what Aaron Rodgers was to quarterbacks in 2016

The only realistic candidate for the Bills’ franchise tag is cornerback Stephon Gilmore. The tag is expected to cost about $15 million, which could be too rich for a defense that already has devoted big money to defensive tackle Marcell Dareus and defensive end Jerry Hughes. If the Bills decide to keep quarterback Tyrod Taylor this offseason at a $15.9 million cap number in 2017, they might not have the salary-cap space to assign the franchise tag to Gilmore.

Could it work? It’s hard to see it, given how rarely the Packers dip into the free-agent market and how many questions they have to answer on their offensive line, where T.J. Lang is a free agent. They’re also not a team that would offer Peterson a boatload of carries.

Le’Veon Bell is the easy call here. Bell was to running backs what Aaron Rodgers was to quarterbacks in 2016, a wizard with the ball who shifted and cut with ease. The Steelers would be willing to let Bell play on the $12.7 million running back tag if necessary, but the tag is a placeholder for a long-term deal if it makes sense. The team won’t pay Adrian Peterson money ($14 million per year). The $9 million to $10 million range might be more feasible for both parties.

Running back situation: Jacquizz Rodgers led the team in rushing with 560 yards, but he’s a free agent. Doug Martin and his $7 million cap hit could also be on the way out after a violation for performance-enhancing drugs last season. Charles Sims, who played only seven games in 2016, is in the final year of his contract.

Could it work? It might have been no accident that Peterson mentioned the Bucs (remember in 2015 when his agent, Ben Dogra, posed in a Tampa Bay hat next to Peterson’s jersey during his standoff with the Vikings?). They’ve got the cap space to pay him plenty of money, though an up-and-coming young team might look to stick with a back like Rodgers as it builds around quarterback Jameis Winston. Should the Buccaneers have interest, though, they’ve got the wherewithal to get Peterson.

Long described the pendulum of emotions for him.

For background: Luck’s deal averages $24.594 million; he also received $87 million in guaranteed money. I don’t know that Cousins will receive that much in guaranteed money — it was $47 million fully guaranteed at the time of signing — but the average per year? If he signs a long-term deal, that number has to be in play for a couple of reasons.

Here’s the thing, as Joel Corry (former agent who now works for CBS Sports) told me this past week: Even if Cousins tops Luck, that doesn’t mean he’ll enter next season as the highest-paid quarterback. Actually, by then he could be fourth. There’s a chance Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford and Derek Carr all get new deals. Each one would top Luck, too. Again, this isn’t about who’s better but rather about the position they play, a rising salary cap, timing and leverage.

Long described the pendulum of emotions for him.

“It went from the worst nightmare in the world to the best dream all within an hour. You go from the lowest point of your career to the highest point of your career, just like that. It was the most insane thing I’ve ever been a part of,” he said on the Russillo and Kanell program.

Long added that one “could make the claim this is the toughest team in Super Bowl history. It’s unprecedented, that type of comeback.”

He noted that when the Patriots won the overtime coin toss and took the ball, some defensive players looked at each other on the sideline and said, “We’re not going back out there.”

Long, who is an unrestricted free agent this offseason, plans to keep playing in 2017.

“I’m excited for the next step,” he said. “I didn’t know coming into this year that I could still play football at a high level. I feel like I can play just as well as I did before I started getting hurt [in 2014-2015]. I’m happy to be back.”

Cubs Tie Team Record With Win Thursday vs. Diamondbacks

The last time that the Cubs won a dozen games in a row away from home was in the 1945 season, which also just happens to be the last time that the team made it to the World Series.

During their current 12-game road winning streak, the Cubs have outscored their opponents 72-25, with 29 of those runs coming over their last three games. According to Christopher Kamka of Comcast SportsNet, that 29 run total is the Cubs’ best start to a season on the scoreboard since the 1954 campaign, when they racked up a staggering 41 runs in their first trio of games.

Friday’s game against the Diamondbacks will not only provide the Cubs with an opportunity to break the franchise record for longest road winning streak, but will also give the team a chance to join some incredibly exclusive company.

According to Baseball Reference, the Cubs are one of only 10 teams to win their first three games by five or more runs. If they do that again on Friday, they will join the 1976 Cincinnati Reds as the only teams to accomplish that feat in the first four games of a regular season.

Moments after NFL fans learned which teams would be playing in the Super Bowl, counterfeiters took notice of the winners and began sending knock-off NFL merchandise to Chicago.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, a large number of fake NFL jerseys and other gear has been seized by trained officers since Sunday.

Zobrist and the Cubs couldn’t solve Pirates ace Gerrit Cole, losing 2-1 on Sunday in front of 40,814 fans at Wrigley Field.

It was the Cubs’ first loss to the Pirates in the last eight games dating back to last September.

Cole was absolutely brilliant, allowing three hits (one of which was a sun-aided double by Dexter Fowler in the first when Pirates infielders lost track of the ball) and didn’t walk a batter, striking out seven.

Lester admitted it was hard not to notice he had something special brewing, but “it doesn’t matter now,” he said.

Lawrie also skipped a throw in the first inning that Jose Abreu couldn’t scoop, which allowed the first batter of the game (Jacoby Ellsbury) to reach against Miguel Gonzalez. Ellsbury later scored on a Beltran sac fly that made it a 1-0 game.