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How will the Broncos handle Joe Flacco with Drew Lock as starter?

Drew Lock will be the Denver Broncos’ starting quarterback in the 2020 season.

Or, as Broncos chief football decision maker John Elway put it earlier this week, it would be “unrealistic” to say Lock is not the starter next season.

But beyond that, the Broncos’ quarterback depth chart is little more than financial questions and future decisions, starting with Joe Flacco. Consider how Elway started his answer Monday about whether Lock would be the team’s starter after going 4-1 to close out the season.cheap nike nfl jerseys china

Elway then quickly followed with: “Obviously, he finished, did a heck of a job, won four out of five games and played well, but he still has a long way to go — he’s got a lot of work to do. But we’re excited about where Drew is, so, we don’t like to show our hand, but it’s unrealistic to say we’re going a different direction.”8

The 2020 Broncos will have Lock as the projected starter and Flacco as the only other quarterback under contract who has started an NFL game. Flacco’s playing future is uncertain because of a herniated disc in his neck and he’s facing the possibility of surgery. The Broncos did sign Brett Rypien, who spent his rookie season on the team’s practice squad, to a futures contract Tuesday.

The Broncos will have to consider free agency as well as the draft as they determine Flacco’s health. Flacco has two years remaining on his contract that carries a whopping $23.65 million salary-cap figure for the 2020 season and $27.65 million for 2021.

The Broncos won’t entertain paying anything near that galaxy for their No. 2 quarterback, but teams can’t release an injured player without a financial settlement. In short, the two sides are talking about Flacco’s future and his contract no matter what — even as Flacco tries to determine if he can even return to the playing field.

Flacco was quick to say this week that if he were healthy and cleared to play, he would “love” to be back with the Broncos.new nike nfl jerseys cheap

“Of course,” Flacco said. “… I’ll actually look into those things, think about those things when I have to. For now, I’m just focused on working out, getting as healthy as I can.”

Flacco, who went to injured reserve Nov. 1, is scheduled to have an MRI on his neck “around the Super Bowl,” and he said at that point a decision would be made as to whether he will, or won’t, need surgery.

Panthers star Christian McCaffrey named All-Pro at 2 positions

Christian McCaffrey’s versatility and superb statistics helped him to a rare double: The Carolina Panthers running back has made The Associated Press NFL All-Pro Team at two positions.

McCaffrey rushed for 1,387 yards and 15 touchdowns and caught 116 passes for 1,005 yards and four TDs this season. He became the third player in NFL history to finish with at least 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving in the same season, joining Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk and Roger Craig, who is on the senior ballot for the Hall this year.buy nike nfl jerseys cheap

McCaffrey was selected as the first-team running back and the top flex player in voting by the 50 members of a nationwide media panel who regularly cover the NFL. The flex position was created in 2016 to reward players who epitomize the way offense is now played in pro football. No one fits that description better than McCaffrey, whose terrific season came for a 5-11 team.

“It means a lot,” says McCaffrey, a third-year pro. “It is a big honor, and that is something that you don’t work hard for it, but when it comes you are really grateful and appreciative.”7

New Orleans Saints receiver Michael Thomas and New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore were unanimous selections. It’s the second straight season both made the squad, Thomas doing it with an NFL-record 149 catches and Gilmore anchoring the league’s top-ranked defense.

Ravens sensation Lamar Jackson, who in his second season led Baltimore to a league-best 14-2 mark, was chosen as the quarterback. Jackson and McCaffrey were among 14 first-time All-Pros.cheap nike nfl jerseys china

Los Angeles Rams safety Eric Weddle witnessed the jukes and jaunts of Jackson firsthand during a 45-6 Ravens romp on Nov. 25.

“When you get on the field and you get to the speed of what they run, it’s tough,” says Weddle, a former All-Pro and Jackson’s teammate in Baltimore last season. “I mean, some of the plays I didn’t know who had the ball because they run it so efficiently. [Jackson] is one of a kind; he’s pretty special.”

This special class includes several multiple-time All-Pros: Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald and Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner, each for a fifth time; and Cowboys right guard Zack Martin and Ravens kicker Justin Tucker for a fourth time.

Bears kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson made his third All-Pro roster, as did Eagles center Jason Kelce and Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins.

Don Larsen, who pitched only perfect World Series game, dies at 90

Don Larsen, the journeyman pitcher who reached the heights of baseball glory when he pitched the only perfect game in World Series history in 1956 with the New York Yankees, died Wednesday, his representative, Andrew Levy, tweeted Wednesday night. Larsen was 90.

Levy said the former pitcher died of esophageal cancer in hospice care in Hayden, Idaho. Levy said Larsen’s son, Scott, confirmed the death.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Larsen was the unlikeliest of characters to attain what so many Hall of Famers couldn’t pull off in the Fall Classic. He was 81-91 in his career, never won more than 11 games in a season and finished an unsightly 3-21 with Baltimore in 1954, the year before he was dealt to the Yankees as part of a 17-player trade.

In the 1956 World Series, won in seven games by the Yankees, Larsen was knocked out in the second inning of Game 2 by the Brooklyn Dodgers and didn’t think he would have another opportunity to pitch. But when he reached Yankee Stadium on the morning of Oct. 8, he found a baseball in his shoe, the signal from manager Casey Stengel that he would start Game 5.8

“I must admit I was shocked,” Larsen wrote in his autobiography. “I knew I had to do better than the last time, keep the game close and somehow give our team a chance to win. Casey was betting on me, and I was determined not to let him down this time.”

The Dodgers and Yankees split the first four games, and Stengel liked the deception of Larsen’s no-windup delivery. The manager’s instincts proved historically correct. The lanky right-hander struck out seven, needed just 97 pitches to tame the Dodgers and went to three balls on a batter only once — against Pee Wee Reese in the first inning.

Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement Thursday that Larsen’s perfect game has “remained unique for 63 years and counting.”nike nfl jerseys cheap china

“On a team of many stars, Don illustrated that anyone can make history — even perfection — on our sport’s biggest stage,” Manfred said.

In their 2-0 win, the Yankees managed only five hits against the Dodgers’ Sal Maglie but scored on Mickey Mantle’s home run and an RBI single by Hank Bauer.

Larsen, selected MVP of the 1956 Series, had two close calls. In the second inning, Jackie Robinson hit a hard grounder that was deflected by third baseman Andy Carey to shortstop Gil McDougald, who threw out Robinson. In the fifth, Mantle ran down a long drive to left-center field by Gil Hodges. With two outs in the ninth, pinch hitter Dale Mitchell took a third strike, completing the perfect game and sending catcher Yogi Berra dashing out from behind the plate to leap into Larsen’s arms.

RHP Pierce Johnson goes from Japan to Padres

The San Diego Padres have added a reliever who excelled in Japan, signing right-hander Pierce Johnson to a two-year contract.nfl nike jersey cheap

A source told ESPN’s Jeff Passan that the deal — announced Monday by general manager A.J. Preller — is for $5 million with a club option for the third year.7

Johnson, 28, struggled in the big leagues in his previous stint. The 2012 first-round pick of the Cubs made only one appearance for Chicago before being waived in 2017 and claimed by the Giants. He played for San Francisco in 2018, posting a 5.56 ERA over 37 appearances.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

He spent the 2019 season with the Hanshin Tigers in Nippon Professional Baseball, where he went 2-3 with a 1.38 ERA and 40 holds in 58 appearances.

Johnson will make $2 million in each of the 2020 and 2021 seasons, sources said. The 2022 option is for $3 million and includes a $1 million buyout.

Rockets’ James Harden says double-teams mean ‘I’m pretty good’

Denver Nuggets coach Mike Malone considers his preferred defensive strategy of double-teaming Houston Rockets star James Harden, sometimes as far as 40 feet away from the basket, to be a form of flattery.

“I know it’s probably frustrating for him,” Malone said before Tuesday night’s game at the Toyota Center. “But he should take it as a sign of huge respect because people are game planning to get the ball out of the [hands] of the best scorer in recent memory.”

Harden agreed, saying he takes it as a compliment that teams are double-teaming him, often in areas of the floor that are virtually unprecedented for NBA defenses.

“For sure,” Harden said after scoring 35 points on 10-of-17 shooting in the Rockets’ 130-104 win over the Nuggets. “Me and Coach [Mike] D’Antoni talk about it all the time. That means that I’m doing something right, [that] I’m pretty good.”cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

The strategy certainly didn’t frustrate Harden and the Rockets on Tuesday night. Houston shot 52.9% from the floor and 47.1% from 3-point range in the rout of the Nuggets, a stark contrast to the first meeting between the two Western Conference powers this season.8

Houston’s 105-95 road loss to the Nuggets on Nov. 20 is the Rockets’ lowest-scoring game this season. Denver was the first team to employ frequent double-teams against Harden from the opening tip and held the NBA’s leading scorer to 27 points on 8-of-16 shooting. Several Houston opponents have followed suit since.

Denver doubled Harden for the majority of the first half Tuesday night — sometimes bluffing but usually sending a second defender at him — and the Rockets picked apart the Nuggets’ defense. Houston scored 69 points in the first half despite Harden attempting only seven shots from the floor.
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“We were just more prepared,” said Harden, who also had six assists and showed no signs of being slowed by a sprained toe that caused him to sit out Sunday’s loss to the New Orleans Pelicans. “We’ve seen that so many times now, so guys know what to do.”

Russell Westbrook had 18 of his 28 points in the first half, frequently exploiting Denver’s double-teams on Harden by attacking the paint once Harden gave up the ball. Crisp ball movement repeatedly generated open looks for the Rockets’ shooters, with Houston making 9 of 16 3-point attempts in the half.

“We’ve seen it a thousand times. Every game,” D’Antoni said of doubles on Harden. “Guys were making some shots. We’re getting more comfortable with it. Russell was really good. It shouldn’t work in theory. If you just double [Harden], he throws it to Russell and it’s 4-on-3. We should score every time. … We’re not surprised by it. They don’t rush. You know, you see something that’s kind of odd. Now it’s not odd, so we should be able to handle it.”

Sources: Darren Collison mulling February return, likely to an LA team

Veteran guard Darren Collison, who stunningly retired before free agency, is considering a February return to the NBA — with the Los Angeles Lakers and LA Clippers emerging as his preferred destinations, league sources told ESPN.

Collison, 32, exited the league abruptly in late June despite an expectation that he would attract multiple contract offers in the neighborhood of $10 million-plus a season.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

Collison’s interest in a return and his focus on the Los Angeles teams sets up another possible recruiting showdown between the Lakers and Clippers, two of the NBA’s primary championship contenders.

Many of the league’s contenders have monitored Collison’s interest in returning and have stayed in contact with his agent, Bill Duffy of BDA Sports, and others close to Collison, league sources said.7

It is unlikely that a Collison comeback would come before the NBA’s trade deadline on Feb. 6. The Lakers and Clippers are also competing to acquire Andre Iguodala, who is waiting for Memphis to trade him.

In an interview with The Undefeated and ESPN’s Marc Spears on June 28, Collison cited religious reasons for retiring.

“While I still love basketball, I know there is something more important, which is my family and my faith. I am one of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and my faith means everything to me.

“I receive so much joy from volunteering to help others and participate in a worldwide ministry. The joy I feel is unmatched.”

Collison averaged 11 points and six assists with the Indiana Pacers last season. He’s become a progressively better 3-point shooter in his career, including shooting 47 percent in the 2017-18 season with the Pacers.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Collison played one season for Doc Rivers with the Clippers in 2013-14, including 13 playoff games as a backup to Chris Paul. Collison also had stops with New Orleans, Sacramento and Dallas.

T.J. Watt and the board game bringing the Steelers together

It was Christmas afternoon and Pittsburgh Steelers players were scattering quickly after practice, in a rush to get back to their families.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

But Anthony Chickillo had business to take care of first.

He took the Biñho board from T.J. Watt’s spare locker and placed the table-top soccer game on the team’s covered pool table and dumped out the small game balls that look like marbles.

Then he turned and motioned Watt over.

“One game to five, that’s it,” Watt said.8

The two each took a side behind a tiny goal, reached across the table and shook hands over the board, which measures about a foot wide and two feet long. Defending each goal are 10 stationary defenders, represented by markers that look like golf tees. The object is to score by knocking the marble around the defenders and into the small goal.

As the game started, offensive lineman David DeCastro walked over and leaned in over the table to watch.

One by one, more teammates encircled the pair of players, watching breathlessly as Chickillo and Watt flicked the marble back and forth. Rookie tight end Zach Gentry morphed into a de facto commentator as Watt took a shot.nfl nike jersey cheap

“He knows all the nuances, it’s insane,” Gentry said. “He revolutionized the game.”

At one point, Alejandro Villanueva leaned in and pointed at the marble before Chickillo’s shot, trying to direct the linebacker where he should go with his next flick. Watt scolded the offensive lineman for giving his opponent extra help.

After 10 minutes, the score was tied, 4-4.

Watt was close on a number of near winning shots, yelling as one ricocheted off the bendy wall and came to rest just in front of the goal.

“I need to make that shot,” he said.

Finally, Watt finessed a soft shot through the stationary defenders and into the tiny goal, fist pumping as shot went in.

Browns fire coach Freddie Kitchens after 1 season, 6-10 finish

Even after a dispiriting loss to the lowly Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, Cleveland Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens spoke like he’d have a job to come to on Monday.

Turned out, he would not.

Shortly after the team landed from Cincinnati, owner Jimmy Haslam and general manager John Dorsey met with Kitchens at the team’s practice facility to fire him following one season in which Cleveland finished 6-10.

“We thank Freddie for his hard work and commitment to this organization but did not see the success or opportunities for improvement to move forward with him as our head coach,” the Haslams said. “Our focus is on hiring an exceptional leader for this football team and we will take a comprehensive approach to this process. We are excited about the core players we have to build around and develop and we look forward to bringing in a strong head coach that will put this group of players in the best position to succeed.“nfl nike jersey cheap

The Haslams have now gone through six head coaches, including interims, since buying the team in 2012. Cleveland will be hiring its 12th head coach since returning to the NFL in 1999.7

After another listless performance in Sunday’s 33-23 loss to the then-1-14 Bengals, yet another coaching move in Cleveland felt unavoidable – even as Kitchens pushed back on any inevitability.

“We’ve got meeting scheduled through next week, and I’m looking forward to going to work tomorrow,” Kitchens said. “They have not given me any indication of anything else. Mr. Jimmy and Dee, I think they want me to do my job, and that’s what I’m gonna do – until they tell me not to, if they tell me not to.”

The Haslams had seen enough, as Kitchens’ brief tenure was enveloped by discipline issues and distractions.

The Browns ranked in the top five in penalties and penalty yardage all season.

Then on Nov. 14, in the closing seconds of a victory over Pittsburgh, star defensive end Myles Garrett ripped the helmet off Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph and slugged him in the head with it. The incident left Garrett suspended indefinitely, and the ensuing melee led the NFL to fine both the Browns and Steelers $250,000 apiece.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Before the Dec. 1 rematch, Kitchens was photographed at the movies wearing a “Pittsburgh started it” T-shirt, a reference to the brawl. After the Steelers won the game 20-13, which severely damaged Cleveland’s playoff chances, several Pittsburgh players criticized Kitchens for wearing the shirt.

Kitchens, who originally came to Cleveland last year as a running backs coach, took over as offensive coordinator midway through last season after head coach Hue Jackson was fired. With Kitchens calling plays, Mayfield thrived and went on to break the NFL rookie record with 27 passing touchdowns.

Manchester United turn on style in comeback defeat of Newcastle

Anthony Martial scored twice as Manchester United hit back in emphatic fashion from a rocky start against a benevolent Newcastle United to open their Christmas programme with a 4-1 victory at Old Trafford on Thursday.

After a 2-0 loss at Watford last weekend, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had demanded a response from his players but a yellow card for Scott McTominay after 24 seconds and going behind to Matthew Longstaff’s 17th-minute goal was not what he had in mind.

It was all smiles later though as Newcastle folded and Martial, Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford all struck before half-time before Martial scored again early in the second half as United moved back to seventh, four points off the top four.

United have now won 21 Premier League games on Boxing Day for a win percentage of 81% — more than any other club.

With midfielder Paul Pogba also coming on after half-time, only his second appearance since September because of injury, United will hope to end an up-and-down year with a flourish with a trip to Burnley looming on the horizon on Saturday.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

“Against Watford we were not good enough for our standard but the boys showed a great intensity today and we thoroughly deserved the three points,” defender Harry Maguire said.8

“We have now got a big game in two days and our story so far has been a good performance and then a not so good one.”

Newcastle have made steady progress up the table under former United defender Steve Bruce and could have gone above United with a win on Thursday. So when 19-year-old Longstaff tucked his shot past David de Gea after linking well with Joelinton the away fans went wild.cheap nike nfl jerseys paypal

It was Longstaff who scored the winner in the reverse fixture at St James’ Park this season, but any sense of dread for the Old Trafford faithful soon diminished as United sparked into life to play some flowing football.

Six minutes after Longstaff’s goal, United were level with Martial’s shot squeezing in at the near post when Newcastle keeper Martin Dubravka should really have kept it out.

Newcastle offered United another gift as they tried to play out from the back but merely gave the ball to 18-year-old Greenwood who thumped a left-footed cracker in off the crossbar.

Manchester United’s Scott McTominay suffers knee ligament damage vs. Newcastle

Manchester United midfielder Scott McTominay suffered knee ligament damage during the win over Newcastle, according to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

McTominay left Old Trafford on crutches after being substituted at half-time during the 4-1 victory over Steve Bruce’s side.

The 23-year-old was involved in a challenge with Sean Longstaff in the opening stages but was able to play on until the break before being replaced with Paul Pogba.nfl nike jerseys for cheap

“He’s done his ligament in the knee,” said Solskjaer.7

“I don’t know how bad. Let’s see. The boy has got the biggest heart, you see the attitude of the kid [to play on]. I’m not sure if he’s going to be ready for Saturday [against Burnley] but we’ve seen him heal quickly before.”nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

United moved to within four points of the top four with victory over Newcastle, which was secured thanks to goals from Mason Greenwood, Marcus Rashford and a brace from Anthony Martial.

Greenwood’s goal — his eighth of the season — was a spectacular effort from outside the box that went in off the underside the of crossbar and Solskjaer has warned the rest of the Premier League that the 18-year-old is only going to get better.

“He’s learning, growing as a human being,” said the United boss.

“He’ll grow more and more and we’re not going to see the best of Mason for a couple for years. When I was 18 … I was nowhere near the level he is now.”