Raiders focused on getting ‘some deals done’ with Derek Carr, Gabe Jackson in offseason

The next offseason goal for Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie: Getting “some deals done” with two of the team’s top offensive players.

McKenzie said the franchise plans to focus on negotiations with the agents for quarterback Derek Carr and right guard Gabe Jackson. Each player is entering the final year of their rookie contracts.

The Giants selected former Clemson star Wayne Gallman in the fourth round, but he is projected to be more of a plodder than a true starter in the NFL.

New York has stated that Paul Perkins will begin the season as the starting running back, but he has limited experience, so a guy like Blount could help ease pressure on the 22-year-old.

With that being said, the Lions appear to be the most obvious fit for Blount, who will want guaranteed carries as he finishes the last years of his prime. Though he adds little in pass-catching skills, Detroit is well-covered in that area with Abdullah and Riddick.

Zenner proved towards the end of the season he can be counted on when needed, but the Lions are in a window to compete for the Super Bowl with Matthew Stafford under center.

Blount would provide a nice boost to their offensive attack.

For a while, it seemed as though Blount would re-sign with the Patriots, but they ofted to sign Bills restricted free agent Mike Gillislee instead.

Despite his one-dimensional style, Blount can still help a team win games due to his toughness as a runner and blocker.

Bracketology 2017: This is where the last 4 teams in and 1st 4 teams out stand

With a quartet of teams on either side of the cut line and a few other lurkers in action on Friday, expect some bubble mayhem with just two days left before the bracket is revealed.

Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) and Strength of Schedule (SOS) information is courtesy and reflects only games against Division I opponents through Thursday, March 9.

Martha Burk, who unsuccessfully lobbied Augusta National to admit women in 2002, in July joined Dr. Jeffrey T. Sammons and other African American golfers in demanding relocation of the Women’s Open from the Trump course. In October, three U.S. senators entered the fray, writing to USGA executive director Mike Davis to request a change of venue for the tournament after a 2005 video, in which Trump boasted about groping women without their consent, came to light.

“The decision that the USGA makes is more consequential than simply the geographic location of a golf tournament,” senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Edward Markey (D-MA), and Dick Blumenthal (D-CT) wrote. “In declining future association with a brand that degrades women, the USGA and LPGA have an opportunity to make clear to the world, and most especially young Americans, that our nation will not tolerate nor do business with any company that condones or excuses action that constitutes sexual assault.”

It’s the Women’s Open venue, though, that has the USGA and LPGA taking heat for holding the competition on a course owned by a man who boasts about molesting women.

It’s likely too late to find another course and rearrange all the logistics involved with the Open, but initiatives to get the powers-that-be to do so have been ongoing since last year’s Women’s Open.1

He has also topped the 4,000-yard mark in each of the past two seasons for Clemson

Maybe they will finally luck into something in the 2017 NFL Draft. All the rumors seem to be centered around the Cleveland Browns going with defensive end Myles Garrett first overall. Theres also talk San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan may not want the team to go quarterback with their second overall pick. Should those two stick with these philosophies, the Jets may very well see Clemson signal caller Deshaun Watson on the board when it’s their turn to pick.

No hesitation is needed. If this scenario falls New York would be wise to finally grab a guy the fans could get behind. Watson is coming off a National Championship and a 41 touchdown passing season. He has also topped the 4,000-yard mark in each of the past two seasons for Clemson. There may be some question about if he isn’t worthy of a first-round pick, but there’s really no question he is a starter in the NFL〞which is more than what can be said about the current group the Jets have.

It has become painfully obvious that the Jets have no plan at quarterback. Geno Smith was a second-round pick in 2013, and he’s been bad. He was replaced by veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick who was good for one year and awful the next. There’s also Bryce Petty, who was a fourth-round selection in 2015 and has had limited experience. The little he has played though has been very discouraging. More discouraging is the fact that the team wouldn’t even try 2016 second round pick Christian Hackenberg last season even as everyone else struggled.

That appeared to be a run-pass option, with Kelly having to make the call whether to take the inside handoff or fire a quick toss Engram’s way. Engram helped make the decision by firing off the line, sitting down in an open area and getting turned back toward the QB. Kelly had the ball in his hands for fewer than two seconds, so there could be no wasted motion on Engram’s end.

Better yet, Engram spun upfield after the catch and left the Memphis safety flailing en route to a TD.

Will Tiger Woods retire or just limp away?

Tiger Woods will not receive a golf watch for his 20-plus years on the job.

He won’t be making a David Ortiz-like farewell tour of Torrey Pines, Bay Hill, or Augusta, when it’s his time to walk away from the game.

On the wings SMU has senior Sterling Brown and sophomore Jarrey Foster. Both players are big wings (6’6 and about 225 pounds) who set the tone defensively and can shoot from distance. Tying the lineup together is Ben Moore, a 6’8 senior who looks nothing like a center but does a little bit of everything in the middle to maximize SMU’s versatility. He’s the only non-shooter on the floor but he’s an active rebounder, a good passer, and excels as a cutter.

With so many players capable of playing interchanging roles, SMU has a decidedly modern look. It also has balance as the No. 23 offense and No. 14 defense in KenPom’s efficiency rankings. Even without Brown on the sidelines or Moore running the show, there’s a case to be made this is the best team SMU has had in recent years.

For the program, this season should be worth the wait. The fanbase seems recharged, the atmosphere at games has been great, and Tony Romo and George W. Bush are even making appearances in the crowd.

After everything that’s happened to SMU, it’s easy to forget that the last time this team was in the NCAA Tournament, it lost at the buzzer on a goaltending call on Bryce Alford’s air ball. That would be a controversy that hangs over some programs for years. For SMU, it was just another bump in the road on the way to this season.

It was a nightmare to get here, but SMU came out of it all as energized as ever. Now it’s time to find out how good this team really is.

That’s exactly what Bell feels he needed to hear

Green plays hard and smart. He’s a hungry offensive rebounder, but he’s not crashing the glass willy-nilly, leaving the indefatigable Grizzlies in the lurch going the other way.

But when he senses a chance — an open corridor to the rim, a size mismatch — Green revs his motor to its highest gear:

That is smart basketball. Green drills little Ty Lawson with a pick, realizes Lawson is stuck on his back, and darts through a swath of open space for a putback Jam-Jam. The Grizzlies win because they stay within themselves, minimize mistakes, and play hard every damn second. Green has absorbed that ethos.

As Bell tells it, not once did the Steelers organization try to implement a three-strikes plan or deliver an empty pep talk. Tomlin didn’t castigate the player he affectionately calls “Juice” because of a smooth open-field running style similar to O.J. Simpson. The edict: Come back stronger for the final 13 games.

That’s exactly what Bell feels he needed to hear. Bell said he explained to several teammates, sometimes in groups, exactly what happened, and they believed the story was plausible. When asked by ESPN to retell the story, Bell cited a short-lived Twitter video in which he explains the confusion over an early-morning testing time and scheduling issues. In the video, which he posted and removed, Bell said he hadn’t smoked marijuana since December 2014.

By now, Bell has eased those concerns with his play (though his past might cause trepidation for the Steelers when it comes to a potential megadeal long term). But from the very beginning, his Steelers teammates were publicly supportive, more inclined to encourage the hard-working and likable Bell than lanky receiver Martavis Bryant, who has missed 20 regular-season games because of marijuana-related offenses. The tone Bell set in meetings and on-field work each day offset any potential character concerns because, as several players have said, “he works his ass off.”

Fantasy football quarterback bust candidates in 2015

If the first running back or the first wide receiver you draft this season falls on his face, it’s frustrating, but you can recover from it. Such is the benefit of having five, six, seven of them on your roster, and dozens more on the waiver wire.

If your quarterback busts, though, it’s hard to find a place to turn. You might be drafting a backup (though not always), but you aren’t burning a pick on a second quarterback at any point early; you really need the guy you draft to provide a solid return on investment.

With that in mind, here’s a look at some potential quarterback bust candidates for 2015. These are just my opinion, and you might disagree, but these guys scare me more than most entering the season:

With that in mind, we’re looking at some running back sleepers, guys who aren’t going in the first round but who could be one of those win-your-league guys late. You can always pick your own — this is more art than science — but here are a few names to consider:

Rashad Jennings, New York Giants
Injuries are always going to be a part of the equation when considering Jennings, and that’s why he’s not an obvious early pick among running backs. He’s never played 16 games in a season (though last year was his first as a starter, so his opportunity to play 16 games has historically been limited). But in 11 games last year, he reached double-digit fantasy scoring four times. He had at least five points in each of the first five games before injuries ruined his season (his one- and zero-point outings in Weeks 14 and 15 came when he was obviously still injured). Now, he gets to be part of what could be an incredible offense in New York, with Eli Manning, Odell Beckham Jr., Victor Cruz, Rueben Randle, Larry Donnell and Shane Vereen. A rising tide lifts all boats.

NFL panic index, Week 17: 4 playoff teams have QBs with no postseason experience

Christmas Eve was a rough one for two of the league’s most promising young quarterbacks. The Raiders’ Derek Carr and the Titans’ Marcus Mariota each left the second halves of their Week 16 games on carts thanks to a pair of broken fibulas.

Mariota’s injury closed the door on an uneven playoff push in Nashville. Carr’s bum wheel likely razed his MVP chances and puts his team’s first postseason appearance since Nickelback was an emerging young talent in the hands of a backup.

Other teams have had their postseason fates altered by the fickle hands of the injury gods. Thanks to the stretch run of the 2016 season, and Ryan Tannehill’s sprained ACL, NFL fans may be treated to a showdown between Matt McGloin and Matt Moore.

It hardly seems fair when the other starting quarterbacks in the AFC playoffs include a four-time Super Bowl winner (Tom Brady) and a two-time Super Bowl winner (Ben Roethlisberger).

There’s more playoff experience among the starter quarterbacks in the NFC. Eli Manning, Russell Wilson, and (if the Packers clinch a spot) Aaron Rodgers all have Super Bowl rings. Depending on if the Lions or Washington lock down a playoff berth, Matthew Stafford and Kirk Cousins have both played in the postseason. So has Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan.

For four of the 10 teams already officially in the playoffs, they’ll be trotting out a quarterback who has zero experience on this big of a stage.

The Raiders have plenty of talent; Amari Cooper, Donald Penn, and all 265 pounds and 57 years of Sebastian Janikowski rank among the team’s standouts. But despite placing seven players on the AFC Pro Bowl team, Oakland’s success rises and falls on two men — and one of them won’t return this season.

Adrian Peterson’s agent involved in ‘heated exchange’ with Vikings executive, per report

The drama between the Minnesota Vikings and running back Adrian Peterson shows no signs of letting up. In the latest report, Peterson’s agent, Ben Dogra, got into a “heated verbal altercation” with a front office executive about the veteran back and his status with the team, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports.

Dogra reportedly got into Mike Pouncey Authentic Womens Jersey a fiery argument at the NFL Combine with Rob Brzezinski, Minnesota’s vice president of football operation, and “made it clear that Peterson would never play there again.” According to the report, it was a very public altercation and had to be broken up by former Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik.

The report comes less than a week after Vikings general manager Rick Spielman praised Peterson and stated the team wanted him to return. However, just two days later, the All-Pro running back said that he’s “still uneasy” about returning to the Vikings because he felt a lack of support from the organization during his 2014 suspension.

Peterson was indicted for child abuse and later pleaded no contest to charges of reckless injury to his 4-year-old son. He played one game before being suspended for the rest of the season. Peterson still hasn’t been reinstated, and is currently not eligible to do so until April 15. He, along with the NFLPA, are engaged in a battle with the NFL over the discipline taken.

It’s a murky situation, especially given that Peterson’s NFL future was in doubt around the time of his suspension and he has a rather burdensome contract. Peterson still has three years on his deal and a total of $48 million coming his way if he plays out the full term.

Hopkins, 22, had a torn ligament in the wrist and needed a pin and rod to be inserted to Nat Moore Authentic Womens Jersey repair the damage. The Texans wide receiver said that the procedure was minor and he should be able to resume normal activities soon. Hopkins finished 2014 with 76 receptions for 1.210 yards and six touchdowns, although he managed just five yards in Week 17 while dealing with his wrist injury.

Even without Draymond Green, Warriors still look like themselves

With Draymond Green out with a left ankle contusion, the Golden State Warriors still managed to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 115-102 on Saturday night. Even when lacking an All-Star, this superteam can roll. Such is the luxury of this much talent, but victories also require role players to step up in different situations.

Not a even a week ago, it KeiVarae Russell Authentic Womens Jersey seemed as if young Kevon Looney was fading from the rotation. Suddenly, with Green out, the 20-year-old big man was thrust into the starting lineup. After revealing as much in pregame, Warriors coach Steve Kerr prompted a minor shock when he confirmed that Looney would indeed start off guarding the incredible Karl-Anthony Towns. “Yes,” Kerr said flatly of the assignment. “What else would you like to know?”

While Kerr would prefer not to play undermanned, he also relishes the opportunity to use guys who rarely play. “I’m actually really excited for tonight’s game,” he said before facing the Wolves. “I think it’s a great challenge for us.”

Remember our encylopedia-length Weekend Dimes back in the day? On Fridays, whenever the schedule allows, we like to try to recapture the spirit of the WD thing with a mini Son of Weekend Dime … because you know what nostalgic saps we are here at Stein Line Live.

Omri Casspi: You undoubtedly want to know if Sacramento is going to trade DeMarcus Cousins or Rudy Gay between now and the Feb. 23 deadline. The answer remains: Too soon to say. The closest thing to a trade lock in the California capital is the exit of the popular Casspi, whose representatives have been blessed by the Kings to search out potential deals now that the versatile swingman — coming off the best year of his career — has been exiled from the rotation by new coach Dave Joerger.

Brandon Knight: Suns general manager Ryan McDonough recently went on the Kenneth Acker Authentic Womens Jersey Burns & Gambo radio show in Phoenix and proclaimed (A) that he isn’t actively trying to trade Knight and (B) that he’d prefer to take at least two months to evaluate his team before seriously considering trades. None of that, however, has stopped interested rivals from believing that the struggling Knight — who started two games this week with TJ Warren out but mostly comes off the bench for the Suns — will be made available.

Red Sox first base coach Ruben Amaro Jr. was the Phillies’ assistant general manager in 2007

A year later, they played starring roles in a World Series championship.

“I think it was very important for us to go through that,” Victorino said by phone. “It was a wake-up call. We went on that miraculous run to win the division, and we ran into a team that was Rodney Hudson Authentic Jersey that much better and that much hotter. It was definitely a stepping-stone for the next year.”

Red Sox first base coach Ruben Amaro Jr. was the Phillies’ assistant general manager in 2007 and recalls the coaching staff preparing the players for their first postseason by trying to duplicate the atmosphere of the regular season, especially late September, when they were pushing to win the division title. Farrell and his coaches attempted to do the same with the youngest Red Sox players before the Division Series opened in Cleveland.

That never happened with Branca. Even as his career fizzled after 1951, he handled his moment in history with good sport. He and Thomson became friends, and in retirement often appeared together at card shows or on talk shows. He became a successful financial executive after his baseball career and he ran the Baseball Assistance Team organization for 17 years, helping those who faced financial difficulties in their post-baseball lives. One of his daughters married Bobby Valentine.

One of the greatest guys to ever throw a pitch or sing a song is longer with us. Ralph Branca Passed this morning.

My colleague Jayson Stark wrote on Monday that this blueprint could even spill over into Ronnie Lott Authentic Jersey the regular season:

Frankly, when we’ve surveyed veteran relievers about this trend, many have expressed great skepticism that anyone could make it through a season healthy while assuming a workload remotely similar to Miller’s postseason role.

But they should know that, in their very own front offices, the folks who are gazing into baseball’s future aren’t so sure of that. Not anymore.