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Could Jachai Polite follow Terrell Suggs’ path to Ravens?

Asked if the Ravens should be alarmed by Suggs’ slow times, coach Brian Billick said, “If quarterbacks started taking 40-yard drops, then I’d be a little concerned.”

With Suggs departing this offseason as the franchise’s all-time sacks leader, the Ravens could fill his spot with someone who has followed a similar path.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Florida’s Jachai Polite established himself as one of college’s top pass-rushers, recording 11 sacks in 13 games. But Polite has experienced this year’s biggest free-fall after he ran his pro day 40-yard dash in just 4.96 seconds — even worse than his 4.84-second effort at the combine (the second slowest among edge players).

The Ravens need an impact pass-rusher after Suggs and Za’Darius Smith left in free agency. Their 15.5 sacks last season represented over one-third of Baltimores’s production.6

With the growing expectation that the Ravens will trade out of the first round, could Polite be on Baltimore’s radar if the team falls back into the second round? Ravens officials didn’t sound too scared off by Polite’s troubling workouts.

“I think ultimately it comes down to the film, and then, the testing results are just that,” Ravens director of college scouting Joe Hortiz said when asked about Polite. “They’re testing results on that day.”

This is more than lip service by Baltimore. In last year’s draft, the Ravens benefited from Orlando Brown Jr.’s nightmarish NFL combine.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Brown went from being a first-round pick to slipping to the third round, where Baltimore selected him. In 10 starts, Brown helped the Ravens become the league’s second-best rushing attack and didn’t allow a sack.

No more belly jokes from Aaron Rodgers to Aaron Jones

Rodgers ID’d the duo as among the players who looked much improved in the physique department since he last saw his teammates more than three months ago.

“I’m excited about them,” Rodgers said. “I like to tease Aaron Jones from time to time. He’s the most athletic, fast guy with a little bit of a belly. He’s pretty lean this year. It’s fun being back with all the guys. I especially like those two guys.”cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Neither Jones nor Williams has been available yet to talk about their offseasons, so everyone will have to take Rodgers’ word for it. But it would have been wise on the part of the two third-year running backs to come back ready to impress the new coaching staff.

In one of LaFleur’s first interviews after he was hired in January, he made it known how important the run game will be in his plan — and his plan to restore Rodgers’ greatness.4

“I think anytime you can take as much off the quarterback as possible that only helps them out in the long run,” LaFleur said.

As Tennessee’s playcalling offensive coordinator last season, LaFleur fielded the NFL’s seventh-most prolific running game while utilizing a pair of backs: Derrick Henry (1,059 yards) and Dion Lewis (517).

While Jones led the NFL with a 5.47-yard average per rush, he missed the final two games because of a knee injury — the third MCL sprain in his two NFL seasons. The Packers were anything but committed to the run last season, when they dropped back an NFL-high 71.5 percent of their offensive snaps.

“Well, I know we want to run the ball,” Rodgers said this week. “That’s important. Everything comes off of a positive run game. They ran the ball really well last year with their guys. But the action comes off of that, the boot comes off of that, so we’re going to have to run the ball. And we have those two guys and some guys behind them who can really play as well.”cheap nfl nike jerseys china

While the Titans’ offense, which ranked 25th in the NFL overall last season, might not be the model, LaFleur’s time with Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan is. Both coaches find ways to set up the pass with the run game.

Ajax add substance to style vs. Juventus to raise hopes of UCL upset

Johan Cruyff famously once remarked: “Italians can’t beat us, but we can certainly lose against them.” It summed up the clash of footballing cultures at the time. His Ajax and Barcelona teams could outplay their Serie A counterparts but give up one chance, allow one counter, make one mistake and expect to be punished.

Cruyff’s words rang as true Wednesday night as they did back then. Ajax dominated the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal against Juventus. They deserved to win but yet, their streetwise and vastly experienced Italian opponents fly back home with a draw and an away goal from their only shot on target. The advantage is now with the Old Lady and history stands by her side. On the seven occasions Juventus have drawn the first leg away from home 1-1, they have progressed six times including against Ajax in 1978.cheap nfl jerseys nike china

That said, Ajax must draw strength from this encounter. A team that has scored 100 goals in the Eredivisie, 44 on the road, will back themselves to score at the Allianz Stadium even with Juventus’ captain and best defender Giorgio Chiellini expected to return for the seven-time defending Italian champions.6

On the eve of Wednesday’s game, Jordi Cruyff told La Gazzetta dello Sport: “My father would have liked this Ajax side.” Wednesday’s showing did nothing to change that opinion. Ajax stayed true to their values and managed 60 percent possession. Frenkie de Jong commanded, giving and going, twisting and turning, always moving, losing whomever it was who followed him.

Hakim Ziyech, for one, will be cursing his accuracy. The Moroccan’s aim failed him as the game wore on, but Wojciech Szczesny still needed to produce a world-class stop in the 17th minute to tip over one of Ziyech’s seven shots. Van de Beek blasted another chance high and wide soon afterward, and Nicolas Tagliafico, who will miss the second leg through suspension, caught Joao Cancelo napping but couldn’t steer Ziyech’s far-post cross on goal.cheap youth nfl jerseys

The inability to take the opportunities they created risked coming back to haunt Ajax and so it proved. Cristiano Ronaldo had not been peripheral. He’d volleyed a Miralem Pjanic corner wide and set up Federico Bernardeschi with a knock-down. But his opener — the last act of the first half – definitely came against the run of play.

Man United are running out of time to give David De Gea a new contract. Can they do it before he leaves for free?

In 2015, after a summer of rumour and speculation, Manchester United accepted defeat in their attempt to get David De Gea to sign a new contract and agreed to sell the Spaniard to Real Madrid. Four years and a faulty fax machine later, and United are back where they started. In less than three months’ time — July 1, to be exact — De Gea will officially have one year left on his deal at Old Trafford and the decision facing executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and the Glazer family will be whether to cash in on their prized goalkeeper or hold their nerve.cheap wholesale nike nfl jerseys

Sources have told ESPN FC that their plan, as of writing, is to stand firm. Bids in the summer will be rebuffed in the hope that De Gea can be convinced to stay. Their view is that they can take the financial hit should the worst happen and he leaves for nothing in 12 months; to the club, it’s worth the risk if it gives them extra time to negotiate a fresh agreement.

At the moment, though, an agreement is some way off. Sources close to De Gea have suggested the club do not have the “capacity” to meet his demands. Other sources have hinted that associated costs (including agents’ fees) have driven up the price of the deal.4

De Gea and his representatives believe he deserves to be one of the highest-paid players at United. He has, after all, won the club’s player of the year award in four of the past five seasons and is among the best goalkeepers in the world. At 28, he is in the prime of his career and is keen to cash in while he can. You can see his point.

United, meanwhile, are trying to manage a wage structure that has been wrecked somewhat by Alexis Sanchez’s mega-money move from Arsenal in January 2018. More than that, they’re also trying to cope with a shifting landscape in the transfer market. Neymar’s £199m move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain in 2017 blew the roof off the market in terms of transfer fees and it’s taken time for wages to catch up. During negotiations with De Gea and Ander Herrera in particular, they’ve started to feel the pinch. After more than a year of talks, Herrera is two months away from leaving on a free transfer, cheap nfl jerseys from china nike with PSG linked most closely to the Spanish midfielder.

Neymar and Sanchez have set a benchmark, but United are at least learning. From now on, their top players will be offered five-year contracts with the option of a sixth rather than the four-plus-one deal De Gea signed in 2015 when his transfer to Real Madrid fell through at the last minute. Club chiefs hope it will give them more protection from situations like this happening again in the future.

Bullpen breakdowns, basepath mishaps add to Yankees’ woes

The New York Yankees’ season is only 11 games old, and already two troubling trends are forming.

Firstly, the bullpen — long deemed the strength of the team — has struggled. A pair of blown late leads in the past two games have highlighted that issue now more than at even the earliest stages of this still-young season. Evidence of the bullpen woes so far? Three blown saves and 19 runs allowed.cheap nfl jerseys from china nike

Secondly, sloppy play has become the team’s calling card. Since the start of the season, the Yankees have had trouble stringing together a series of completely clean games, both offensively and defensively.7

Baserunning miscues remain a concern, and mental lapses in the field have been a problem. Still, the manager of the team that entered the season with the easiest April strength of schedule believes both bullpen strength and cleaned-up play are at hand.

“We’re prepared, the guys are focused, I love the way the guys are competing, but when you’re not clicking on all cylinders, you’ve got to do the little things. Because every little thing matters,” Aaron Boone said. “It’s important that we learn from every time there is a bump in the road, every time there is a mistake that we learn from it and grow from it. We’re confident we will.

“The bottom line is, we’re really close to playing a good brand and a complete game.“cheap nfl jerseys nike china

That complete game didn’t come in a loss Monday night. And it certainly didn’t in Tuesday’s 6-3 defeat.

But the thing is, the Yankees very much needed it both nights. In the middle of arguably their biggest series to this point, it was important they used these games at Minute Maid Park to send an early message. Although much of their first-month schedule is against teams that were sub-.500 last season, the Houston Astros likely will be in the playoff picture once the season ends.

The games on Monday and Tuesday were prime opportunities to put all of baseball on notice: Even with 11 players on the injured list, these Yankees can compete with the best. That message might have turned some heads this week.

Passan: Why question-filled present for Red Sox mirrors what future could look like

For those in Boston panicking about the Red Sox’s sequel to a World Series championship starting with a 3-9 record and the worst run differential in the American League, fear not. That thing in the distance — it’s not the sky falling. It’s just a smoke signal from luxury-tax hell to warn that it’s coming. Or wait. Maybe it’s actually the farm sending a message that the system is barren and needs help.

Pardon the gallows humor. The Red Sox’s debacle of a beginning to the 2019 season is bad enough as it is. That Boston has backed itself into a corner in other integral facets of building a sustained contender only makes it worse — and explains why the capacity to change their current trajectory won’t be easy.cheap wholesale nike nfl jerseys

This is not to cast the Red Sox to where they resided in their previous incarnation, with three last-place finishes sandwiched around a most unlikely title. Any team with Boston’s resources can purchase an end around most issues, with the caveat that it could perhaps compound them to an even greater degree.4

Perhaps it’s easiest to start there, with the Red Sox showering their largesse at a curious time. Less than a week after the first pitch of the spring he threw clocked in at 89 mph, Chris Sale agreed to a five-year, $145 million contract extension with the Red Sox. Sale has been one of the best pitchers in the major leagues for the better part of a decade. His two seasons in Boston have been beyond phenomenal. He is revered in the clubhouse, the organization, the city.cheap nfl jerseys from china nike

That said, the reaction around baseball was the awkward marriage of puzzlement at why they did it and giddiness that they actually did. Among the mileage on Sale’s arm, the shoulder problems that disabled him twice last year and the fastball velocity going AWOL, the warning signs were lit up like the Citgo sign. And the Red Sox had the perfect hedge: Sale was under contract for the 2019 season. If he looked good, rival executives figured, the Red Sox could extend him following the year. If not, he would hit free agency.

Now, on the heels of his third consecutive troublesome start, with radar guns registering UH-OH instead of a number, the Sale contract is, at least in the short term, a red flag, and not the kind that hangs at Fenway Park celebrating a title. Starting next season, they’re on the hook for $29 million a year for Sale — at least twice what he’d get coming off a substandard 2019 — plus $32 million a year for David Price and $17 million a season for Nathan Eovaldi, both through 2022. That’s $78 million a year for three starting pitchers — or more than the first-place Tampa Bay Rays, who have only three starting pitchers, are spending on their entire team this season.

Team-by-team look at how to approach NHL playoff fantasy action

Last season was an example of just how straightforward this can sometimes be when it comes to picking among the scorers. Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nicklas Backstrom were the most obvious choices from the Washington Capitals, so if you liked this squad to make a run for the Stanley Cup, these would have been no-brainer selections for your squad. In fact, they finished one-two-three in scoring (Kuznetsov, Ovechkin, Backstrom) and that was that.

Yet, that was about the only predictable aspect. The run by the Vegas Golden Knights was impressive and pushed Reilly Smith to finish fourth in scoring. Jake Guentzel and Sidney Crosby exploded together for 21 points each in just 12 games to finish tied for fifth, even though the Pittsburgh Penguins didn’t escape the second round. Despite being a fantasy trainwreck in the regular season, Braden Holtby ended up with the most wins (16) and posted two shutouts, while Marc-Andre Fleury was right behind him in scoring with 13 wins and four shutouts.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

So, with uncertainty still likely to come into play, there is a general strategy to fall back on:5

You want players from the teams that will advance the furthest. This is pretty obvious, as more games played equals more points. Of the 36 players that scored more than 10 points during last season’s playoffs, only 12 were not on teams that made the conference finals.

In most formats, goaltenders will earn the most points. This is, of course, assuming most teams will ride one goaltender through the playoffs. The Fleury/Matt Murray show we saw for the Pittsburgh Penguins in their back-to-back Stanley Cups has been the exception, not the rule. The goalie that wins it all will probably get 16 wins and a couple of shutouts sprinkled in. If your league awards two points per win, that’s already more points than the top-scoring skater of the playoffs is probably going to get. Evgeni Malkin’s 36 points in 2008-09 is the only example from the past 10 years of a player eclipsing 32 points.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

All your eggs should be in a minimal number of baskets. Pick your teams that you think will go far and take players from those teams. Sean Couturier and Mitch Marner both scored better than a point-per-game during the playoffs last year, but that doesn’t help you much if they don’t get out of the first round.

The bigger your pool, the more contrarian you need to be. This is the same approach you take for daily fantasy sports, as the more opponents you are facing in your pool will usually translate into more of the same lineup decisions. If you are in a pool with 10 of your co-workers, go ahead and stack the top teams and pick all the superstars. There should be enough variety among only 10 teams. However, if your friend runs a playoff pool with 50-100 entries, all of a sudden you need to zig a little while everyone else is zagging to have a chance at winning. You don’t want to go completely contrarian, but a couple of sleeper picks will be needed to separate you from the pack. Taking part in an online pool with thousands of entries? You may need to predict something like a Colorado Avalanche-Columbus Blue Jackets final — and be right — in order to win the crown.

Wild’s Brown arrested for public intoxication

Minnesota Wild forward J.T. Brown was arrested on suspicion of public intoxication in Dallas hours before the Wild’s season finale.

Police reports indicate the incident happened at British Beverage Co. early Saturday. Brown did not play in the Wild’s final game that night against the Dallas Stars, who beat the Wild 3-0 to take the Western Conference’s top wild-card spot. The Wild announced he was out because of illness.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Brown apologized to the Wild, his teammates, family and fans for making a “poor decision.” He said in a statement to the Star Tribune that he put himself in “a bad situation” and takes full responsibility.4

The Wild said the team is aware of the report and has no comment.

Dallas police say an off-duty police officer was advised by employees of a nearby business that Brown was causing a disturbance with other patrons and employees inside the business. Brown was asked to leave and escorted off the premises. Police say Brown later returned and caused a verbal altercation with the staff. He was taken into custody by officers and processed for public intoxication, a misdemeanor. Police say it was later discovered that Brown was a member of the Wild.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Brown, 28, is in his first season with the Wild after signing a two-year, $1.375 million contract last July as a free agent. The Burnsville, Minnesota, native and former Minnesota Duluth standout appeared in 56 games, recording three goals and eight points as the fourth-line right-winger. He previously played for the Tampa Bay Lightning and Anaheim Ducks.

Warriors get delay of game after Young gets ring

Nick Young smiled from ear to ear when he received his championship ring for the Golden State Warriors’ 2017-18 title run in his return to Oracle Arena on Friday. But after the pregame presentation, it was his former teammates and coaches who got a chuckle.

Referee Ken Mauer assessed the Warriors a delay of game warning before tipoff for taking too long with the ceremony. Young spent extra time laughing and joking with teammates and waving to the crowd.nfl nike jerseys for cheap

“The last two years, we’ve had probably five or six of those celebrations, and it usually spills over,” Curry said. “I wish he would have just given it to Nick Young because he was taking his sweet time, for sure, as he should have. But probably more just entertainment for everybody, [Mauer] trying to get the game started. But we did take a long time, for sure.”6

Young seemed to be enjoying the moment, telling reporters before the game that he was happy to be spending time with his kids in his year away from the game. He said he would be interested in coming back to the NBA if a team on the West Coast called and he could stay close to his family.

In the meantime, Young said he has a TV show coming out soon called “Swaggy’s World.”nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

Young also said he was hopeful that LeBron James would give him a call to play a role in the upcoming movie “Space Jam 2.”

“You’ve got to have Swaggy in Space Jam,” Young said. “If you want to sell tickets, you got to have me. I could give them swag once they get their powers taken. They could come to me, I could be, like, a sorcerer of swag, and I could, like, hand it out to them, give them hope”

Magic closer to ending playoff drought

The Magic are on the brink of ending the longest playoff drought in the Eastern Conference.

Orlando’s 149-113 win over Atlanta on Friday night came in the home regular-season finale for the Magic. In every year since 2012, the home finale has been the last chance for Magic fans to see their club until the following fall. This time, the Magic might be coming home for Game 3 of the East first round. With the win, they jumped from the eighth to sixth seed in the Eastern Conference.

The Magic have won nine consecutive home games, the longest active streak in the league.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china5

“I think the fans are a big part of it, but we’re definitely playing with a lot more purpose and a lot more balance here in this last, whatever it’s been, five or six weeks,” Magic coach Steve Clifford said.

Detroit fell from sixth to eighth after losing to Oklahoma City 123-110. Brooklyn stayed in seventh (the Nets were idle). Miami stayed ninth after a 111-109 loss in Minnesota, its third straight defeat. Charlotte remained 10th with a 113-111 win over Toronto.

There are still five teams alive for the last three spots, and oddly, four of them actually control their destiny. Miami will be assured of getting in by winning its final three games. Orlando, Detroit and Brooklyn would also be in if they all win out — Orlando plays Brooklyn on Sunday, and Brooklyn plays Miami on Wednesday, the final night of the regular season.nfl nike jerseys for cheap