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A key moment happened before the vital touchdown that sealed the victory for Carolina. After the snap Smith gets away with a shove to the face on Jenkins when both players were out of the play. This should have been a personal foul for unnecessary roughness, but referees missed the call.

The Panthers’ receiver has characterized the game as him being disrespected by a young receiver, but it’s clear that blame went both ways. The veteran stretched every rule in an effort to prompt retaliation, something that got inside Jenkins’ head on the following play.

Jenkins is lost on the first move again, this time another inside cut that forces him out of position. The key problem is rounded coverage, where the defensive back loses Smith’s position as he’s concentrating too much on Cam Newton. This allowed a 2-yard buffer for Smith who has open space at the 6 yard line.

Hey, two wins … how exciting. This week’s win just so happened to come against a Bears team that had been held in pretty high regard. The only highlight for the defense was getting some pressure on Cutler. More importantly, the world finally saw an RGIII much closer to the 2012 version of RGIII. His throws were sharp and decisive, and he added 84 yards with his legs, his best rushing total Cheap Jerseys Youth of the season.

Andy Reid and Alex Smith: a combined 22 years in Philadelphia/San Francisco, and for most of those years they were somewhere between loathed and under-appreciated before their ousters. Fittingly, they were united in Kansas City, where the long-suffering fans merely wanted replacement-level stand-ins for the black hole of leadership and quarterbacking provided by Romeo Crennel, Matt Cassell, and Brady Quinn. And Reid and Smith are MUCH better than replacement-level! They’re downright kinda good! And, when Cheap Jerseys Zoom paired with a defense made of muscle and sharks teeth, they can actually mow their way through a soft schedule to the best record in the league.

Belichick on Tom Brady’s future as lacrosse goalie: ‘Can’t dodge, can’t run’

“Put him in the goal,” Belichick said. “He can’t run. I mean, he can’t run. He can’t dodge, can’t run.”

No one knows if the sixth-round pick will actually be any good in the NFL, but if his pro day is any indication, he at least has a chance to make Minnesota’s roster.

The German put up some impressive numbers at the Florida Atlantic pro day that he attended: Boehringer ran a 4.43-second 40-yard dash, had a vertical of 39 inches, a 10-foot-11 broad jump, a 4.10-second short shuttle, 11.15-second 60-yard shuttle, and a 6.65-second three-cone drill. He also had 17 lifts on the bench press. As Will Brinson noted after the draft, those marks are all within the top five among all wide receivers who tested at the combine.

The absurd drama of Sam Bradford pretending to hold out after collecting an $11 million signing bonus on a two-year contract ended this week when the presumptive Eagles starting quarterback showed up for offseason training activities. There was even a brief retirement quasi-threat/rumor/report.

But the drama isn’t over yet, thanks to his agent, Tom Condon, continuing to chat about the situation publicly. Condon appeared on The Rich Eisen ShowWednesday and said (confirmed?) the Broncos were in discussions with the Eagles to trade for Bradford.

“I haven’t seen a lot of guys that are riding camels and stuff,” Schneider said. “NFL players around the desert, I haven’t seen a lot of that. But he’s been thinking about this for a while, obviously, so I think he’s very much at peace with it.”

That being said, Schneider did admit that it’s basically impossible to predict what Lynch is going to do.

“Marshawn’s one of those guys: He’s his own man,” Schneider said. “I think it was just one of those deals where he was, and this is my opinion — this doesn’t come from him. This is just a guy, his running style is just so reckless and he gives it all every time he carries it. So I think at some point that takes a little bit of a toll and he had the injury this year and really, truly it’s been his first big injury. To see him try to come back from that and everything I think that’s probably a little bit of an eye opener as well and that’s not him speaking, that’s my personal opinion.”

“We thought we had a chance to go to a really good football team and be there for a really long time. And that opportunity was there and the attempt was made,” Condon said. “It was just that when the Broncos contacted the Eagles and talked about the trade, they couldn’t agree on a price, so they drafted somebody in the first round. At that point our options are pretty limited. Our next best option is to go back and prepare for the season and then we’re back to where you’ve already said. He either goes in, plays great, he’s lights out and everybody loves him. And he either sits Carson for another year or he’s very valuable as a trade commodity.”

“He had been caught red-handed,” Caldwell’s attorney, Nicholas Matassini, told ESPN. “And by that I mean the drugs were literally found, by police, in the hands of my client, who was also tracking them on his phone.”

Not even Caldwell’s mom could believe what was happening.

“Good lord that boy was a bad criminal,” Caldwell’s mother said, “and thank Jesus for that.”

Browns VP: RG3 could be more than just a short-term solution

All that is, of course, easier said than done. Griffin sure looked like the long-term answer in Washington for a year, but a serious knee injury, struggles with a changing offensive system (and the head coach who installed it), and the performance of Kirk Cousins (in 2015) led to his leaving the team this offseason. The turmoil he’s gone through during his short career led Brown to compare Griffin to … well, the Browns.

“He’s a little bit the mirror image of us, where he’s got a chip on his shoulder, there’s a lot of noise about him on the outside, and he’s a tremendous teammate, really passionate about football, wants to learn and get better, wants to be coached hard, wants to be the best he can be,” Brown said. “He’s proven that. He’s done it before, but he knows also that he’s proven he’s got a lot of growth left for him to become the consistent player that we need him to be and he wants to be.”

The 2015 Denver Broncos had the best defense in the NFL. They led the league in total yards allowed, yards allowed per play, yards allowed per drive, and points allowed per drive. They also led in more advanced statistics like Pro-Football-Reference’s expected points contributed and Football Outsiders’ defensive DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average, which adjusts performance for down, distance, and opponent). They were the eighth-best defense in Football Outsiders’ entire database, which goes back to 1989. Basically what we’re trying to say here is: they were really damn good.

So when a player on another team says that his defense can be as good as the 2015 Broncos, he’s making quite a claim. And that’s exactly what Raiders star Khalil Mackdid on Saturday.

“The 49ers organization has been incredibly supportive throughout my journey and I cannot thank them and the support staff enough. I am especially grateful to the strength and conditioning coaches, trainers and medical staff, equipment guys, public relations crew, chefs, logistics, and merchandise staff for their countless hours helping me in many different ways, so I could focus on football. Thank you to the fans from down under, as well as those around the world, who stood behind me and supported me along this amazing journey. I also want to thank the boys, especially my running back brothers, for their help and support in my transition to the NFL. I wish the team nothing but the best for the upcoming season.

Based on this chart, we can pretty safely say that Gronk will not retire as the all-time leader in catches as a tight end. His career high in catches for a single season is 90 (set in 2011) and he’d have to average more than 14 additional catches per year on top of that for the next 11 seasons in order to catch Gonzalez. Considering Gronk has played an average of 13.3 games per year so far in his career, he’d have to raise his catches per-game average from 4.8 to 7.8 in order to reach 104.1 per year. That’s almost definitely not going to happen.

Receiving yards is a tighter battle. Gronk has so far average 925.8 receiving yards per season in his six years in the league. If he kept exactly that average, he’d catch Gonzalez during his age-37 season (2026). That would be pretty poetic, but it’s also likely that Gronk will average more receiving yards per season than that over the next few years, because that average includes a season in which he played only seven games. In the five seasons that Gronk has played at least 11 games, he’s averaged 992.6 receiving yards per game. That kind of average would put him on track to break the record early in his age-36 season (2025). It’ll be tough, but it’s possible.

49ers general manager Trent Baalke also released a statement:

“We would like to thank Jarryd for his contributions to the San Francisco 49ers organization and our community over the last year. Jarryd is a tremendous example of what can happen when you commit to a goal and do everything in your power to make it a reality. He earned the right to wear a 49ers uniform and compete alongside the best in the game. We fully support Jarryd’s decision to pursue another dream – representing the Fiji Rugby Sevens team in this summer’s Olympic games. We look forward to watching him in Rio and wish him continued success.”

Of course, Gronk’s pace will also be affected by the presence or absence of Tom Brady. The future Hall of Famer has been the QB under center for every one of Gronk’s games so far, and Gronk’s statistics will undoubtedly take a hit if and when someone else takes over. Luckily for Gronk’s sake, Brady has stated his intention to play 10 more years, which would mean he’d stay under center until 2025.

Eric Decker surprised the Jets drafted Christian Hackenberg in Round 2

Why Decker feels that Fitzpatrick is the QB most likely to help the Jets “win now” when he had never shown an ability to do so prior to last season is a question for another day, but considering the Jets’ only other options at the position are Hackenberg, Geno Smith, andBryce Petty, it wouldn’t be a terrible idea for the Jets to re-sign last season’s starter, provided they can get him to accept a contract that pays him at a level more appropriate for his career performance.

It’s official: Everyone has now weighed in on Sam Bradford’s peculiar decision to demand a trade a month after the Eagles gave him $18 million for 2016 and possibly up to $36 million over the next two years.

TMZ caught up with former Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens, who didn’t sugarcoat his opinion of Bradford.

“It’s Sam Bradford’s job to lose,” Owens said, “[but] I think it was not a great move for Sam to want to request a trade being that they were getting a No. 1 pick. If it were me … that’s kind of a sign of a coward, to be honest.”

In August 2011, the Steelers gave LaMarr Woodley a six-year, $61.5 million contract extension. The deal made sense; Woodley had 35 sacks the previous three seasons, and he added nine more in the months following his new deal. But he had just nine total sacks in 2012 and 2013, and by March 2014, he was out of a job.

Woodley spent an injury-plagued year in Oakland (six games, zero sacks) before signing with the Cardinals last season (10 games, one sack). Now 31 and a free agent, it’s fair to wonder if his best days are behind him.

Not helping his chances: Woodley ripping his former defensive coordinators. And while he doesn’t name names, he might as well have; Woodley’s clearly talking about the Cardinals’ James Bettcher and former Raiders coordinator Jason Tarver.

“In Oakland, we had a dumb defensive coordinator and in Arizona, we had a dumb defensive coordinator,” Woodley said on his podcast, via AZCentral.com. “It was just two dumb guys. They thought we were like Madden players. They’d draw something up and on paper it looked good, but the players still have to go out there and run it. Those guys didn’t really listen to their players. They wanted to do it their way and their way only.”

Woodley, who played outside linebacker in Pittsburgh from 2007-13, wasn’t happy about being moved to defensive end in Oakland. And he blamed Bettcher for the Cardinals’ 49-15 blowout loss to the Panthers in last season’s NFC Championship Game.

Fantasy Baseball: Monday’s DFS advice

The Astros recalled Gattis from Double-A Corpus Christi, where he spent a week getting some reps behind the plate. Now that he is up, Gattis will serve as the backup to starting catcher Jason Castro, so it’s just a matter of time before he gains catcher eligibility. With the Astros also optioning Preston Tucker to Triple-A Fresno, room has been cleared for him to serve as the team’s primary designated hitter when he’s not catching.

Gattis started the regular season a week late due to recovery from sports hernia surgery, and he produced precious little before his brief demotion. Striking out more and hitting with little power, Gattis has mustered just a .203 batting average with one home run in 70 plate appearances. We could give Gattis a pass for a slow start, given that he had offseason surgery, but it’s worth noting that he didn’t hit with the same home run clout last season that he did in his two seasons with the Braves. As the table below shows, Gattis was lifting flies for shorter distances, pulling them with less frequency and lacing fewer hard-hit balls.

Everything that led to the controversial Rangers-Blue Jays brawl

Sunday afternoon in Arlington, things finally boiled over between the Rangers andBlue Jays. The two sides were involved in a pair of benches clearing brawls, the first of which involved actual punches being thrown.

These two teams, as I’m sure you remember, met in the ALDS last year and it was a very bitter series. Benches cleared and a war of words continued through the offseason. Here are the details of Sunday’s brawl and everything that led up to it.

1. The bat flip heard ’round the world

Game 5 of the ALDS last year was totally epic. Especially the seventh inning, which was highlighted by Jose Bautista’s monster three-run home run and legendary bat flip. Here’s the highlight, which I’m sure you’ve seen many times before:

Benches cleared twice that inning, remember. Once immediately after Bautista’s home run because Sam Dyson thought Edwin Encarnacion was showing him up when he was really trying to get the crowd to calm down, then later after the inning ended and Dyson said something to Troy Tulowitzki.

Several Rangers players said after the game they did not appreciate Bautista’s bat flip. They were hardly the only ones who felt that way, but, since they were on the field for that homer, it hits a little closer to home for them.

2. Blue Jays vs. Rangers, round 1

The Blue Jays and Rangers met for the first time this season earlier this month. It was a four-game series at Rogers Centre in Toronto, and that series was played without incident. No intentional plunkings, no bases clearing incidences, nothing like that. The Blue Jays won three of four games. The retaliation waited until the two teams played in Texas.

3. Gibbons gets ejected to kick off Round 2

Round 2 was played this weekend in Texas. The two teams split the first two games Friday and Saturday, so Sunday was the rubber game.

Johnny Cueto, Changeup (HP view) pic.twitter.com/m2czgmtM2U
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 27, 2016

And the people of baseball gasp as one. We know how well Cueto hides the ball and throws off the hitter’s timing with his boogie-music delivery, but then you get that filth. It looks just like the fastball out of the hand — coming at you in the same “tunnel” — but then it dives just before it reaches the plate. Filth. Filth, I say. Also note that that’s a somewhat unconventional righty-on-righty changeup (something Cueto isn’t averse to using). That’s one of two changeups on which Rosales whiffed in this particular game.

The larger point is that when you’re asked whether you could hit a Johnny Cueto changeup — and it’s a matter of time until you’re asked this very question in a public forum — you should be honest with yourself and others say, “LOL, no.”

Adrian Peterson explains why the Vikings are ready to win the Super Bowl

That’s a Super Bowl guarantee without actually being a guarantee and it warrants a follow up. Fortunately, Peterson was willing to expound on the topic.

The running back told Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio — in rather lengthy fashion — he sees a lot of ways the Vikings organization has put themselves in good position to succeed over the long haul.

Peterson initially cited the job GM Rick Spielman and coach Mike Zimmer have done building the roster, “core system” and the “guys in the right place.”

Peterson also digs the “young group” of players on the roster, a quality mix of veterans and youth “that can really play some good ball” — especially on the defensive side of the ball. AP is spot on calling the Vikes defense a young, dangerous unit that will be talented again in 2016.

It’s the offense that’s got to improve. And Peterson knows it.

“Offensively just going off of what we were able to accomplish this year and we really weren’t the type of offense that we wanted to be,” Peterson said. “But you look at that and we were right there in the mix of really going on to play Arizona and end up in the NFC Championship game with what we had offensively.”

Of course, AP might not be calling himself out here. He did lead the league in rushing yards (1,485) while averaging 4.5 yards per carry.

The passing game was the primary problem. Teddy Bridgewater didn’t take the leap everyone expected and there weren’t any real weapons in the passing game outside of rookie Stephon Diggs. Minnesota finished 16th in points per game (22.8) and 29th in yards per game (291.2).

The Vikings added Alex Boone and Andre Smith to the offensive line in free agency and picked up Laquon Treadwell in the first round of the draft. The Vikings won 11 games last year and are right there in terms of contenders for the NFC North along with the Packers, especially if Peterson can meet his own expectations.

But when you break it down, these are exceptional players at their respective positions, and Ingram and Cooks were hard to pass up at No. 24 and 25 overall given how this draft unfolded. Now that I had two stud receivers and a top-10 running back, I wanted more depth in the backfield, so I took Matt Jones and Jay Ajayi at No. 48 and 49 overall, and I’m happy with that start.

This is where things potentially could have gone differently. I want Fleener whenever possible now that he’s in New Orleans. He’s been good at times with the Colts, especially when Dwayne Allen has been out, and he’s now in one of the best tight end offenses in the NFL with Sean Payton and Brees. A breakout season is on the table, and I consider him a top-five option in all formats. He was my target at No. 72 overall.

Cowboys fans are, by and large, just the best. Not so much in a “they are smart football fans” kind of way as a “mercy, they are nuts” kind of way.

And that’s a good thing, because it creates things like the video below, in which a Cowboys fan takes his Tony Romo jersey, hangs it on a washing machine that he has filled with explosives, and shoots a rifle at it.

He began to bash and berate Cutler and his game to the tune of a verbal flogging neither had ever witnessed. The expletive-laden diatribe went on for a few minutes, after which Cook stood up and told Cutler they were leaving. As they walked down the long hallway past Bowlen’s office, Cutler turned to Bus and said, “Get me out of here. I don’t care how you do it.”

Long story short, the Bears traded for Cutler and continue to employ him today.McDaniels lasted less than two seasons as a head coach. Now, he’s back in New England as the Patriots’ offensive mind and Tom Brady’s “babe.”

Since that trade transpired, Cutler and McDaniels have actually shared the field together, as recently as 2014 when the Bears played in Foxborough, but postgame meetings are easy to avoid. Sharing a practice field for two full days might be a bit different. Hopefully the reunion takes place and hopefully a camera catches it, but even if it does happen, don’t expect fireworks. Cutler, for his part, seems to be over the drama.

Astros GM says Carlos Gomez has to start hitting to avoid being benched

One of the (many) reasons the Astros are underperforming: center fielderCarlos Gomez. The 30-year-old impending free agent comes into Monday heading a meager .182/.238/.248 (36 OPS+) with no home runs and only 5 RBI. He’s struck out 46 times in 121 at-bats. Only the Nationals (.490 OPS) have gotten worse production from their center fielders than the Astros (.494).

On Monday, Astros GM Jeff Luhnow stated what should be pretty obvious at this point. Gomez has to start hitting to avoid being benched.

Luhnow on Gomez: “I think he’s going to have to turn it around at some point otherwise we’re not going to be able to continue to play him.”
— Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) May 16, 2016

The Astros called up prospect Tony Kemp on Monday, and Kemp is fully capable of playing center field. The team could also slide either Colby Rasmus or George Springer into center field. They have options at the position.

Gomez hasn’t hit much since coming over from the Brewers in a trade last season. He put up a .242/.288/.383 (84 OPS+) batting line in 41 games with the Astros last year after hitting .262/.328/.423 (104 OPS+) in 74 games with Milwaukee. Gomez hit .284/.356/.477 (129 OPS+) with 23 home runs and 34 steals as recently as 2014, remember.

Manager A.J. Hinch has already started to scale back on Gomez’s playing time. Jake Marisnick has started two of the last three and three of the last eight games in center field. Kemp is not coming up to ride the bench, so Gomez figures to lose more playing time going forward.

Gomez will be a free agent after this season, and while there is still plenty of season to go, it is very much in doubt whether the Astros will make him a qualifying offer. Gomez is still reasonably young, but, if he doesn’t pick up the pace and soon, he’s going to wind up costing himself a ton of money.

Antonio Cromartie will be keeping busy this summer, even if he remains a free agent. He also won’t be getting much sleep.

On Sunday, Cromartie’s wife, Terricka Cromartie, gave birth to twins, named Jynx Revell-Antonio Cromartie and J’adore Nayvi Cromartie, as US Weekly reported.

Before Manziel can do that, though, he’ll need to sort out his legal future. In late January, Manziel allegedly assaulted Colleen Crowley, whose attorney alleged that Manziel ruptured her eardrum during the incident. Last week, Manziel turned himself into police after a grand jury indicted him. He was released on bail and appeared in court on Thursday, where a judge ordered him to stay away from Crowley and told him that he wasn’t allowed to possess any firearms.

Manziel declined to comment to reporters at the hearing.

“I get kind of emotional about it because he’s very close to me. He’s really a great kid. And it’s a shame that he’s been categorized like he his. But he’s brought that on himself,” Smith said. “We’re always going to be there for him. We’ll continue to love him just like I love the people in my family.”

Deontay Wilder-Alexander Povetkin title fight postponed

Wilder, who embraced going to foreign territory to defend his title, was upset that the fight was called off.

“I’m very disappointed that due to Povetkin’s failed drug test the fight is not going to happen on May 21 in Moscow,” Wilder said in a statement. “I had worked very hard to prepare myself for this important title defense, spending the last two weeks training in England to get accustomed to fighting in Europe. I wanted to give the fans a great show, but we understand the WBC’s position that the fight occur on an even playing field.

“This is a huge disappointment and a setback to my goals in boxing. I want to be an active heavyweight champion and it is still my goal to collect all the belts and become the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.”

Meldonium is the same drug for which tennis star Maria Sharapova and many other athletes recently tested positive. It was approved to be added to the banned substance list by the World Anti-Doping Agency in September, and the ban went into effect Jan. 1. Meldonium is used to increase blood flow and carry more oxygen to muscles, thereby enhancing stamina, a trait boxers would want in a long fight.

“The guy tested positive for a dangerous drug and the health and safety of Deontay was paramount, so the fight could not take place on May 21,” Wilder promoter Lou DiBella told ESPN.com. “Deontay would have fought King Kong without any regard for what substance was being used, but Povetkin’s use of this banned substance and the breach of the contract deprived Deontay of an opportunity to defend his title on a fair playing field. As a result, Deontay has suffered significant damages.

“He has gone through his entire training camp and expended a tremendous amount of time and money and energy. It’s awful.”

Andrey Ryabinsky of World of Boxing, Povetkin’s promoter, said the fight would be rescheduled while the rest of the card will go forward. A cruiserweight world title unification bout between Russia’s Denis Lebedev (28-2, 21 KOs) and Victor Emilio Ramirez (22-2-1, 17 KOs), of Argentina, has been moved from the co-feature to the main event.

“Any talk from Ryabinsky of a rescheduled date is both unfounded and premature,” DiBella said. “We need to sit back and await further rulings from the WBC, but we will weigh all of our options.”

There is a lot of money at stake. Based on Ryabinsky’s winning purse bid of $7.15 million, Wilder was due $4,504,500 to Povetkin’s $1,930,500 with the remaining 10 percent — $715,000 — going to the winner. With no fight, the purses won’t be paid and a lawsuit is likely to ensue; Wilder’s purse is sitting in escrow in a United States bank, according to his camp.

If there is a lawsuit, Ryabinsky could have issues mirroring a 2014 situation he was in.

Lebedev, who is promoted by Ryabinsky, was due to face Guillermo Jones in a rematch in Russia, but with the fighters in their dressing rooms hours before the fight, Jones tested positive for a banned diuretic, which is typically used as a masking agent for steroids. The fight was canceled, and Ryabinsky later won a judgment against Jones promoter Don King for the money he and Lebedev were owed for the bout.

Ryabinsky said Povetkin’s levels of meldonium were very low and that the traces in his system were left over from when he took it in September, before the ban.

“He has not taken it since Jan. 1. The situation is ambiguous,” Ryabinsky told Russia’s TASS news agency before the fight was called off. “The blood sample was taken in April this year.”

However, Povetkin was tested by the VADA on April 7, 8 and 11, and each of those tests came back negative for any banned substances, according to two letters ESPN.com obtained in which the VADA disclosed those test results to both sides and the WBC. Those results indicate that meldonium apparently entered Povetkin’s system after the ban was in place.

Wilder (36-0, 35 KOs), 30, a 2008 U.S. Olympic bronze medalist from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, was supposed to make his fourth title defense against Russia’s Povetkin (30-1, 22 KOs), 36, a 2004 Olympic gold medalist. Povetkin loomed as Wilder’s most significant opponent, and the fight is one of the significant bouts that could be made in the heavyweight division.

TORONTO — Twelve days ago, Kyle Lowry was a humbled two-time All-Star, working late into the night to try to fix his broken jump shot.

But on Sunday afternoon, with everything on the line, the Toronto Raptors point guard was the best player on the court.

And when he exited for the final time, with the franchise’s first trip to the Eastern Conference finals already secured, Lowry received a standing ovation from the capacity crowd at Air Canada Centre.

Go figure.

“Hard work pays off,” Lowry told ESPN.com after posting a 35-point, 9-assist, 7-rebound, 4-steal performance for the ages in Toronto’s 116-89 blowout victory over the Miami Heat in Game 7 of their second-round series.

“It’s the dedication that I’ve put into this game of basketball for myself and for this organization. I just wanted to make sure I could be the best player I could be, at all times — especially on the biggest stage.”

“The word ‘na?ve’ comes to mind pretty quickly more than anything, especially now that I’m old and looking back on it,” said Raycroft, 36. “You don’t really feel the complete gravity of it, which is obviously a positive, especially for these guys jumping into scenarios where they weren’t really expecting it. I had a whole year to kind of expect it. I was probably gearing up for it a month or two earlier and I was really excited when it came. For these guys to jump in, I’m sure come August it’ll really click in, so being a little na?ve is a good thing and just going out and letting it fly.”

Current Penguins coach Mike Sullivan coached Raycroft and the Bruins that season, and it ended with a loss to the Canadiens in seven games. Raycroft said he felt the coach had confidence in him, but it was also the presence of veteran Felix Potvin — the former Toronto Maple Leafs goalie who had bounced around and was in his last season in the league — that had a calming influence on Raycroft, similar to the relationship between Murray and Fleury.

“I’m willing to bet that Flower has been a huge help,” Raycroft said of Fleury. “I know for the few weeks to have Felix with me and talking to him, he had been through the trenches many times and won many huge games through his career, so to have him there, and he was the kind of guy who would tell you, ‘It’s just another game.’ I remember him having that demeanor and basically saying that to me. He was helpful to me, so I would imagine it’s a similar scenario because Marc-Andre has a similar personality and he just goes out and plays and has fun with it. I would assume that helps.”

Secretary of Navy: Patriots could lose player to active duty for a ‘year or so’

“Right now, we do have a process. And it hasn’t got up to me yet to do it. But there are a lot of paths to both play and to serve,” Mabus said, later adding, “I’m confident that we can work something out for Keenan to do both — to serve his country and to play professional football.”

But, as the case with Cardona indicates, the Ravens could lose Reynolds at some point, assuming he even makes the team in the first place.

I tried really hard to justify taking Zobrist and Segura is having a ridiculous season with his change of scenery, but Murphy has continued his relentless approach from his historic postseason. He’s hitting .405 with 13 doubles, two triples and five homers. Only Zobrist has more RBI and runs here than Murphy’s 22 each, but that difference is mostly a product of teammates’ production.

Shortstop options: Asdrubal Cabrera, Zack Cozart, Brandon Crawford, Jordy Mercer, Addison Russell, Corey Seager, Trevor Story, Aledmys Diaz (write-in)

And here’s our biggest conundrum. Take note of what I said above about it being too early to go only on this season and how we need to kind of predict the next six weeks in addition to judging the past six weeks. Who is the “establishment” candidate, though? Crawford? Or are we ready to move onto Seager or Russell? There’s no good answer there. What we do know is that Story easily has the best power here and best, forgive me, story of the season so far. Diaz has the best offensive slash line and it’s not close, but am I really going to throw away my vote on a write-in? No, no I’m not.

So, yeah, I’m saying we’ll get to see what Kessler can do in 2016, which on its face sounds shocking given how far most believe he is from being an NFL quarterback. And if he is thrust into the fire with this cast around him, you have to wonder if he’s worse off for it down the line.

My crystal ball says: He will be starting at least four games. Gulp.

Brock Osweiler
Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it. The Texans play a pretty big-boy schedule this year — tends to happen the year after you win the division — and expectations are high.

This can’t be a situation like a year ago with the coach having the quickest QB hook in the history of the NFL. This is Brock’s team. He’s the guy (even if the head coach sounded ambivalent at best about that prospect in the intro press conference and never even met the kid before the owner had stuffed $40 million into the QB’s pocket).

The 2016 NFL Draft featured multiple trades among the first 10 picks. The top two picks both got dealt away. The No. 8 pick was traded twice. The final trade in the top 10 saw the Tampa Bay Buccaneers move down out of the No. 9 spot. They sent No. 9 to the Chicago Bears in exchange for No. 11 and No. 106.

Why were they so willing to move down two spots? According to Bucs GM Jason Licht, he had a pretty good feeling that neither the Bears nor the Giants (picking at No. 10) would take their target, former University of Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves. Not only that, but he felt picking up an extra selection would help make another, later move.

It’s their world. We’re just livin’ in it.

But, alas, the calendar is changing and grown men are congregating back to practice facilities and football fields around the country. It won’t be too long before this quarterback class of 2016 — veterans and rookies alike — have to actually show what they can do. And that, my friends, is where things can and will likely get dicey.

What we don’t really know about of these dudes is if they can perform as legitimate starters. Even in the case of many of these guys on their second contracts, we really don’t know if they can command a team and be true leaders and make plays on a big stage and lift others around them.

We still have more questions than answers and for all of the money that has been spent on them — all the draft picks surrendered to acquire them, all of the hours of evaluation, scrutiny and background work done — the greater reality is that these passers are largely unknown commodities. Or, in the case of some, they just are exactly what everyone thinks they are, and what they have been. But desperation can make you see things in them that have never been there. (Yeah, Eagles and Bradford, I’m talking to you).

Tyronn Lue calls it a ‘relief’ to finally learn conference finals foe

What Cleveland wouldn’t do was look back at its regular-season series with Toronto — which the Raptors won 2-1 — as any indicator of how the conference finals could go.

“We’re a totally different team than the regular season,” James said.

Cavs coach Tyronn Lue echoed James’ sentiment. “Nothin’,” Lue said when asked what the Cavs could learn from their previous games with the Raptors.

Kyrie Irving followed suit, simply saying, “No,” when asked if he could draw anything from those meetings, with both of the Cavs’ losses coming at the Air Canada Centre.

Irving later changed his stance ever so slightly, allowing that the Cavs’ experience in those losses in Toronto — two games in which Cleveland held fourth quarter leads only to fold down the stretch — could help them when the series shifts north for Games 3 and 4.

After openly pining for the chance to play his old crew earlier in the postseason, James was mum on the subject of the reunion not happening when asked about it on Sunday.

“No,” was all James said when asked if he was lamenting the fact that he missed out on the chance to compete against his friend Dwyane Wade.

“I’ve always said anytime you get an opportunity to get some rest throughout the course of our season, it’s always beneficial for anybody,” James said. “Doesn’t matter if you’re a 31-year-old guy who’s played a lot of basketball or you’re a 19-year-old kid who just came into the league. It doesn’t matter; you get a couple days in the postseason, there’s a benefit.”

In two short days, the wait will be over.

Silver does, however, say he believes that having logos on jerseys makes more sense today than it did even five years ago, when the idea of selling the spot was broached.

“The media landscape is changing,” Silver said. “People are watching less live television outside of sports. People are watching fewer commercials. This will become an important opportunity for companies for connecting directly with their consumers.”

NBA spokesman Mike Bass declined to confirm the vote tally.

“They’re ready to play,” Lue said. “I think [Sunday], it was a relief. Now we know who we’re playing and now we can get focused and now we can lock in on what we’re trying to do.”

The 2016 World Cup of Hockey will take place in Toronto this September, and today we got our first look at the jerseys, which are being made by Adidas.

The good news is that the jerseys aren’t bad. Even the worst of them are adequate, and the best ones are spectacular.