Category Archives: New Orleans Saints

New Orleans Saints

Aaron Donald ends holdout, rejoins Rams

Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald has officially ended his holdout and reported to the team one day before the team will open the season against the Indianapolis Colts, according to Pro Football Talk.

The late arrival means that Donald will not be on the field when the Rams begin the season Sunday, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The holdout for Donald ends without a contract, which means it could be tough for the Rams to keep the defensive tackle when his rookie deal expires.

With his fast rise and status as the Rams’ best defensive player, Donald was severely underpaid heading into the season, with two years left on his rookie contract. Currently, he’s scheduled to make just $1.802 million, a bargain for the Rams but a pittance for a player of Donald’s caliber.

Tolzien had two, and damn near a third to tie the record, but his receiver bailed him out.

That’s Donte Moncrief nearly ripping off the defensive back’s head and knocking the ball out. He got a facemask penalty, but that’s a small price to pay to save your quarterback from historical football status.

Tolzien’s previous two picks were exactly the same, a panicked throw late to his left.

Mercifully, the Colts brought in Jacoby Brissett for the fourth quarter.

Way to go, Colts! You might be worse than the Jets, maybe.

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They’ve basically bypassed the Flywire era by standing still.

When Nike took over the NFL’s uniform contract in 2012, the Packers were one of several teams that opted to stick with the old Reebok fabric and tailoring template (which is easy to spot — just look for the mesh fabric), and they’ve continued to stick with it this season. They’ve basically bypassed the Flywire era by standing still.

There’s one bit of Pack-related uni news, however: Last season, wide receiver Ty Montgomery spent most of his time lining up in the backfield. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it looked a little weird, because he was wearing No. 88. This year, he’s officially listed as a running back, but he’s keeping No. 88, a move permitted by NFL rules.

“I don’t mean to be a (expletive),” Shanahan added before covering the mic amid a chorus of laughter from the media. “It’s the season now. Sorry, that was bad. Shows my immaturity. If there’s any gray area, we’ll figure it out on Sunday.”

On Dec. 29, there will be wiener dog races between periods, and a post-game fireworks show in Carver Arena to celebrate the coming new year.

Sunday Family Fun Day: PNC Bank will sponsor a package for families at games on Jan. 28, Feb. 18, March 4 and March 25. Kids 12-under get a ticket for $3, hot dogs for $1, plus there are inflatables, face painting and balloon art in the lobby. All fans are invited to skate with the Rivermen players after the game.raptors_006

LeBron on new teammate BogutLeBron on new teammate Bogut

ONE factor, more than any other, convinced Andrew Bogut to sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers: revenge against the team that traded him away.

So says Michael Lee, The Vertical’s senior NBA writer, who told Fox Sports Radio in the US that Bogut’s move to the Cavs was motivated by the pain of rejection from Golden State.

We look at what the US media has had to say on Bogut’s latest career change. Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey wowed everyone with his athleticism. He put up top numbers in almost every category, and his 3-cone drill was the second-best by a running back since 2003.

“Which team would put him in the best possible place to defeat the Warriors and get revenge for trading him,” Lee said, when asked what was Bogut’s primary motivation in joining the Cavaliers.

“He was very upset that he got traded to make room for Kevin Durant. He didn’t necessarily want to leave Golden State. He had some great years for the Warriors. He found happiness there.

“To get traded I think really hurt him. When he became a free agent he looked around and was like, ‘Who can help me beat the Warriors?’

Meanwhile, big performances from less-heralded players like Donnel Pumphrey, Kareem Hunt, and Brian Hill could be the difference between Day 2 or Day 3 selections — or even being drafted at all. Samaje Perine has already made an impact, cranking out an impressive 30 reps at the bench press — six more than the next-closest invitee.

Tennessee’s Alvin Kamara has turned heads, too, especially with his 39.5-inch vertical jump.

Unfortunately for Texas running back D’Onta Foreman, he had to pull out of the rest of the drills on Friday with a stress fracture in his foot.

RGIII, Jay Gruden dismiss report of ‘alienated’ locker room

Washington head coach Jay Gruden and quarterback Robert Griffin III dismissed a report that Griffin had “alienated” the locker room. The report, from ESPN’s Britt McHenry, came out despite evidence showing that the Washington players were more incensed by the team opening the locker room to media after practice last week.

Following Washington’s loss to Minnesota Sunday, Griffin’s first game since a Week 2 ankle injury, Gruden called McHenry’s report “totally false,” according to The Washington Post’s Dan Steinberg.

It’s quite possible that Kaepernick hit the ground or crossed the goal line before losing the ball. The problem is that the referees needed conclusive evidence to overturn the call. The entire substance of this play happens in between a forest of human beings, with bodies and arms and limbs obstructing the view of the cameras.

It’s impossible to say with 100 percent certainty what happened here. If you’re a 49ers fan, you probably see a player down. If you’re a Rams fan, you probably see a fumble. But with the evidence provided, there’s no way to be completely sure of what happened in the middle of that pile. It might not be fair, but the refs couldn’t overturn their ruling on the field. And the Rams came away with a 13-10 win.

THAT said: we’re not really sure how this Michael Crabtree catch on the play before was not ruled a touchdown:

The nose touches the ground, but Crabtree has control of the ball when that happens. The refs didn’t rule this incomplete, they ruled it down at the half-yard line, which doesn’t make sense. But when Crabtree tucks the ball into his body, it’s across the plane. This really should’ve been a touchdown.

San Francisco fans can feel slighted by both of these plays. But with the former play, the refs did the best with the evidence they had. With the latter, it’s not really clear what they were looking at.2

The club has not confirmed any of the reports, normal procedure when physical exams are pending

The Dodgers edited the narrative that they Mens Charles Johnson Jersey would suddenly go frugal this winter by reportedly re-signing closer Kenley Jansen on Monday and moving very close to a deal with third baseman Justin Turner, their two biggest free agents.

According to baseball sources, the 29-year-old Jansen agreed to a five-year, $80 million deal with an opt-out after three years. The 32-year-old Turner, according to sources, is expected to soon accept four years and about $64 million, having found a less robust market for infielders his age than Jansen did for closers.

The club has not confirmed any of the reports, normal procedure when physical exams are pending. But adding to the signing of starting pitcher Rich Hill last week, the team apparently has committed $192 million for the three players crucial to getting the Dodgers to a fifth consecutive National League West title and beyond in 2017.

MLB Now discusses the impact of Kenley Jansen Frank Herrmann Authentic Jersey signing a five-year deal to stay in Los Angeles with the Dodgers
That means the heavy lifting for the shopping season is over, except for filling holes at second base and setup relief, with surpluses in the outfield and starting pitching as trade bait.

Among possible targets at second base are Minnesota’s Brian Dozier, as well as free agent Chase Utley, who wants to return to Los Angeles.

Defensively, while Turner couldn’t dislodge Colorado’s Nolan Arenado for the NL Gold Glove Award at third base, he committed only nine errors and ranked fourth among NL third basemen with a .972 fielding percentage and first in Ultimate Zone Rating.

With a stellar lifetime 2.20 ERA, 0.89 WHIP and 13.9 K/9 rate, Jansen will be the first closer selected in many 2017 drafts. The right-hander is among the few hurlers in baseball with a reasonable chance to provide 40-plus saves and 100-plus strikeouts next season. Additionally, fantasy owners won’t have to worry about Dodgers starting pitchers seeing many of their wins squandered with one of the game’s most reliable ninth-inning men back to protect leads.

Steelers teammates will help pay Ramon Foster’s fine for protecting Le’Veon Bell

Things got heated between the New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers in their late afternoon game during Week 13 in which the Steelers came out on top, 24-14. Steelers offensive guard Ramon Foster ignited a fight between the two teams, after it appeared Giants players were bending the neck of Le’Veon Bell. He was fined $9,115 for his involvement.

Mack has has 29 sacks in his career. Ten of those have come this season, and most of them are happening in third and fourth quarters.

Mack’s performance against the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday Night Football was no different. Mack sacked Alex Smith early in the third quarter, forcing a fumble, which the Raiders recovered.

It’s not just that Mack gets better as games go on — he’s also more productive as the season progresses.

Maybe it takes Mack a while to get up to speed — in games and over the course of a season — but it’s working for him.

Mack’s play has made him a front-runner for Defensive Player of the Year. If he continues his late-game and late-season dominance, his chances of earning that recognition will only improve.

Carr has thrown for 3,375 yards and 24 touchdowns with just five interceptions all season, and the Raiders are currently riding a six-game win streak and are sitting on top of the AFC due in large part to Carr’s play. Murray is no slouch either, with 553 yards and 11 touchdowns.

They couldn’t have picked a better game to attend, either. Klay Thompson scored 40 points in Golden State’s blowout win over the Pacers.

Thompson wasn’t the only one hitting shots on Monday night. Derek Carr dropped a three-point shot in a shootaround after the game.

It was a banner night for Carr, who also got a photo with Kevin Durant’s mom.

Andrew Luck sat out half of the season with injuries

As of now, Kiper only has two other quarterbacks going in the first round: Memphis’ Paxton Lynch at No. 15 to the Rams, and North Dakota’s Carson Wentz to the Texans at No. 22. Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg, who was recruited by current Texans and former Nittany Lions head coach Bill O’Brien, isn’t listed.

This won’t excite fans very much — can’t exactly build hopes and dreams around a pulling guard — but Kiper has four offensive linemen going in his top 18. They are: Laremy Tunsil (Ole Miss), Ronnie Stanley (Notre Dame), Jack Conklin (Michigan State) and Taylor Decker (Ohio State).

Kiper has left tackle Tunsil — in his words, a “flat out gifted prospect” — going to the Chargers at No. 3. Stanley, another left tackle who Kiper says would be the first offensive lineman off the board most seasons, is listed next at No. 6 to the Ravens, a team that can certainly use the help up front.

Baldwin shook Robinson like it was nothing.

Baldwin’s footwork, along with subtle head-and-shoulder jabs, is teaching tape on route running. This type of play in particular is an example of one where we could see Baldwin and Norman square off. Norman mostly sticks outside in coverage, with Cortland Finnegan or another slot cornerback covering inside.

That’s where Seattle could exploit some other matchups as well: Putting Baldwin inside against one of Carolina’s depth cornerbacks. One way that Seattle has been so successful in their passing game this season is to spread things out with five receivers and/or running backs out wide, which stretches the defense and forces them to spread out. In the example below, against the Vikings in their earlier matchup this year, that meant that Baldwin was matched up in a one-on-one with Antone Exum, with no additional help over the top in the right slot. Russell Wilson knew this before the snap, and took advantage of it.

Baldwin’s stutter-jab outside before cutting inside is all he needs.

He did something similar the very next week against Lardarius Webb and the Ravens. After getting Baldwin isolated on the outside against Webb, all it took was an explosive jab outside before cutting it inside.

Rookie fifth-round draft pick Tyreek Hill has emerged as the Chiefs’ top receiver

Young receivers Tyreek Hill, Taylor Gabriel and Malcolm Mitchell have emerged as three of the NFL’s hottest young playmakers — and fantasy waiver-wire pickups — in recent weeks.

But we’re past the time where you’re just looking for a flier on the end of your bench. You want to know if you can actually trust these boom-or-bust type playmakers in a playoff starting lineup. As always, our ESPN NFL Nation crew is here to help.

Hill (60.3 percent owned, most-added player in ESPN fantasy leagues this week). Of the three, Hill definitely appears to be the most trustworthy, because the rookie fifth-round draft pick has emerged as the Kansas City Chiefs’ top receiver. That should continue even if Jeremy Maclin returns from a lingering groin injury this week, because Maclin would likely be eased back into the mix.

I like his chances for a solid flex-level game with upside against the Rams’ 26th-ranked run defense the past four weeks. … Deeper leaguers in need of help can consider the Jets’ Bilal Powell, as he has played just two fewer snaps than Matt Forte the past two games and faces a Colts team that has allowed a league-high five receiving scores to opposing RBs this season. … Another gut call here, but after Tevin Coleman scored last week, I expect even bigger production in his second game back against a Chiefs team that is 31st against the run the past four weeks.

Doug Martin, Buccaneers: Bit of a gut call here, as he hasn’t been great since returning and the Chargers are actually playing decent run defense — they are 14th against the run the past four weeks. But 14th ain’t, like, fifth or something, you dig? The Chargers have given up five RB rushing scores in the past five games and at least 76 rushing yards in seven of the past nine.

Among running backs, only Le’Veon Bell has more touches than Martin’s 52 the past two weeks. So even if Jacquizz Rodgers is active for this one, I expect a heavy workload for Martin, and he does seem to be getting healthier: His yards per carry by game since returning: 2.1, 2.6, and 3.8 (vs. Seattle). He’s a solid RB2 for me this week.

the Jets have recorded only 16 winning seasons — total!

Five thoughts on the game:

1. Mismatch at quarterback: On the stat sheet, this might be the most lopsided matchup of the year. Brady is the No. 1-rated passer in the league (123.3) and Fitzpatrick (67.6) is the lowest. Heck, it might be one of the biggest mismatches in league history based on passer rating. Belichick is looking at a different statistic, telling anybody willing to listen (no doubt, his players) the Jets have averaged 26 points in Fitzpatrick’s past three games.

2. Will boobirds fly?: The fan base has turned quickly on Bowles, in part, because of his decision to stick with Fitzpatrick, leaving Bryce Petty on the bench. The crowd won’t have much patience — the boos will start early if Fitzpatrick gets off to a slow start. The over/under on the first “We Want Bryce!” chant is the first three-and-out series. Fitzpatrick is handling the situation well, as he appeared relaxed during the run-up to the game. He will get the old Geno Smith treatment if he doesn’t give them something to cheer about — quickly. The Jets are 1-3 at home, so there haven’t been many feel-good moments.

3. Sweet 16: Cheating scandals notwithstanding, the Patriots have become the model franchise. Get this: A win by New England would clinch their 16th straight winning season, tying the San Francisco 49ers (1983-1998) for the longest streak since the merger in 1970. That is a staggering run of consistency, the likes of which we may never see again.

4. Paging Brandon Marshall: He’s on pace for 69 receptions and 962 yards, a major decline from last season’s numbers — 109 and 1,502, both franchise records. He has gone five straight games without a touchdown and five straight under 71 yards, his least productive stretch since his 2010 season with the Miami Dolphins.

5. Baby steps: The Jets’ pass defense, an embarrassment in September and October, is showing signs of improvement. Since Week 8, it ranks second in completion percentage (55.5) and yards per attempt (6.0).

The Vikings’ loss Thursday came after a backbreaking interception from Bradford, who has mostly avoided picks this season. It was only his third interception of the year, but it came in a game where his defense had held the Lions to 13 points with Bradford doing little to hold the lead or add to the offensive ledger. He finished the game 31-for-37, but those throws generated just 224 yards, with 119 of those yards — more than 50 percent — coming after the catch.

Smith, 37, continued to defy Father Time last week with eight catches for 99 yards and a touchdown, giving him 1,000 receptions for his career. And ESPN Ravens reporter Jamison Hensley wrote in this Week’s NFL Nation Insider Buy/Sell fantasy column that Smith will “do everything in his power to finish off his legacy on a strong note,” since Smith is supposedly planning to retire for real this time.

Smith is owned in only 76 percent of ESPN fantasy leagues, but Hensley believes he is worth starting down the stretch — especially this week. When Smith last faced the Bengals last year, he caught 13 passes for 186 yards and two touchdowns.

Washington is threatening to draft Marcus Mariota

Things haven’t gone well for Robert Griffin III in the two seasons after he won Offensive Rookie of the Year honors in 2012. He was even benched during the 2014 season in favor of Colt McCoy, and according to John Clayton of ESPN, Washington wouldn’t hesitate to move on from Griffin by selecting Marcus Mariota in the 2015 NFL Draft.

A frequent trend in mock drafts has been the projection of a blockbuster trade that features the Philadelphia Eagles moving up near the top of the draft order to reunite Mariota with his college coach, Chip Kelly. However, a trade on Tuesday sent Sam Bradford to Philadelphia and cost the Eagles a second-round pick which could have been used as ammunition in a trade.

With the Eagles now less likely to make a move for Mariota, Clayton joined the Freddie Coleman Show on ESPN Radio and said that Washington could be the logical landing spot for the 2014 Heisman Trophy winner, via 247Sports:

“And honestly, don’t discount, he’s not going to fall to the Jets at six right now, the Redskins will take him at five. At least Dan Snyder might not think there’s quarterback issues, Jay Gruden and everyone else in the front office thinks there’s quarterback issues.

“And if Marcus Mariota falls to five, it’s not a position where they’re desperate enough to trade up to get him, but if he falls to five, I’m telling you this right now, they’ll take him.”

Washington started three different quarterbacks during the team’s 4-12 season and finished with the No. 5 selection in the 2015 NFL Draft. Rumors linking the team to Mariota doesn’t necessarily mean that the interest is legitimate or honest, though.

Mariota earned the Heisman Trophy after finishing the 2014 season with 42 passing touchdowns, 15 rushing touchdowns and one receiving touchdown.