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Shoutouts are mandatory for Texans and their ‘fine commissioners’

As Dylan Cole discusses an important role he has on this Houston Texans team, he pulls out a notebook.

On the inside of the back cover, Cole has a chart with tally marks that indicate the number of team violations each fellow inside linebacker has committed and the corresponding fines.

Cole is one of the team’s few unofficial “fine commissioners,” which also include outside linebacker Brennan Scarlett, nose tackle Brandon Dunn and guard Greg Mancz. The rules and different categories vary between position groups, but the linebackers and offensive line agree on one fine: If a player is doing an interview and doesn’t shout out at least two of his teammates, he gets put down into a fine category.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Players have different techniques they use when talking about their teammates during interviews, including everything from getting it over with in the first question to relying on their teammates yelling at them to remember.

The worst offender?7

“I’m going to go with B-Mac [inside linebacker Benardrick McKinney],” Cole said. “He has the same thing that he says every time, and then he forgets. I don’t know what lines he says, but he says the same lines every single time and then he forgets about us.

“Can’t forget about your teammates. That’s the most important thing. This is a team sport. It’s not individual. We’re not playing tennis out here.”cheap nfl nike jerseys china

The outside linebackers are more laid back about fines than the inside linebackers, Scarlett said, but the OLBs do have one violation that will be given a fine every time.

“We have one strong rule: no snitching,” Scarlett said. “If you snitch, it’s a fine. If you tell on your brother, it’s a fine.”

The defensive line doesn’t observe rules for not shouting out a teammate, but the D-linemen do have a long list of fine categories that position coach Anthony Weaver keeps track of in an Excel spreadsheet. If a player is late to a meeting, he is fined $250. Dunn says the “disrespect fine” of $50 applies mostly to rookies. And the biggest fine levied to date was for $500, for farting in the meeting room. Nose tackle D.J. Reader said that has happened only once, by a player who is no longer on the team. “We don’t play around with that,” he said.

Don’t overlook Kyle Allen if he faces former nemesis Kyler Murray

It’s easy to overlook Carolina Panthers backup quarterback Kyle Allen because he wasn’t invited to a college all-star game, went undrafted and was cut from the practice squad before making the 53-man roster when Cam Newton was shut down for the final two games of last season.

It’s easy to overlook Allen’s Week 17 win against New Orleans because the Saints rested their starters, having already wrapped up the NFC South title.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

It’s easy to overlook Allen this week as he works with the first team in the likelihood a left foot sprain will keep Newton out of Sunday’s game against the Cardinals in Arizona, where Allen grew up, and against the top pick of the draft — a fellow QB whose presence played a role in Allen’s college career that showed promise but never took off.

Jordan Palmer gets why Allen is under the radar.5

“I totally understand how the media and the fans could arrive at that,” said Palmer, a former NFL quarterback who works with Allen during the offseason at QB Summit. “There’s so much information out there nowadays, you feel if you don’t know a lot about somebody, they’re probably not that good.

“I do know Kyle. I’ve been paying attention since high school, and I’ve had a lot of conviction on him for a long time. So I’m not surprised at all he’s in this position, and I’m not going to be surprised at all when he plays really, really well and this offense really starts clicking.”

That’s a bold prediction, as Allen completed only 52.9% of his passes and had no touchdown passes in four preseason games.

Palmer has worked with Allen since he was at Desert Mountain High in Scottsdale. He has seen enough to believe that when surrounded by the first-team line and do-it-all running back Christian McCaffrey — neither was at his disposal most of the preseason — the offense will be as explosive as Allen promised it would be coming out of training camp.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

“He’s going to go through his progressions, and he’s going to throw and anticipate your timing; and the moment is not going to be too big for him, and he’s going to play really composed, good, execution football,” said Palmer, the younger brother of former three-time Pro Bowl quarterback Carson Palmer.

Hall, Devils to continue contract negotiations, GM says

Taylor Hall will continue to negotiate a contract with the New Jersey Devils during training camp, general manager Ray Shero said Monday.

“Sometime later in training camp we’ll sit down,” Shero said. “From Taylor’s standpoint, I think he’s dialed in on himself right now in terms of his game and getting back on the ice after only playing 33 games last year. I look forward to seeing him at training camp. Nothing has really changed since the end of the season in terms of how this is playing out.”

The 27-year-old left wing has one season remaining on a seven-year, $42 million contract he signed with the Edmonton Oilers on Aug. 22, 2012, and can become an unrestricted free agent July 1, 2020. Hall, who was acquired by New Jersey in a trade with Edmonton for defenseman Adam Larsson on Jun 29, 2016, can sign an extension of up to eight years with the Devils at any time.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Hall had 37 points (11 goals, 26 assists) last season before missing the final 47 games after having arthroscopic surgery in February to remove fragments from his left knee. In 2017-18, he won the Hart Trophy as the NHL most valuable player after getting an NHL career-high 93 points (39 goals, 54 assists) in 76 games and helping the Devils qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in six seasons.6

“He’s been working out, skating, and we’ll kind of see where we go with the exhibition games,” Shero said. “Maybe he’ll play later on in the exhibition, but I’ll leave that up to [coach John Hynes] and our medical staff. But everything is good to go coming into camp. I’m looking forward to it and we’ll kind of see how he’s doing and then get him game ready maybe for the last few games of exhibition, but we’ll see.”

The Devils have a seven-game preseason schedule consisting of three home games and four on the road. New Jersey opens the preseason with a split-squad game against the Boston Bruins and at the Montreal Canadiens on Sept. 16.

The Devils will host the Winnipeg Jets in their season opener at Prudential Center on Oct. 4.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

“There are different stages of negotiation and at some point, [Hall’s] going to play for us and then we’ll sort it out,” Shero said. “Whether he’s signed, we’ll see. I look forward to sitting down with him and seeing him back on the ice with us, which will be great. I know he’s looking forward to that, too. Ideally, we wanted to give him space this summer anyway, training wise. We’ve made some additions to try and improve our hockey team and hopefully Taylor will be a big part of this in the future.”

New Jersey, which went 31-41-10 last season, 26 points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets for the second wild card from the Eastern Conference, has been among the most active teams during the offseason. The Devils selected center Jack Hughes with the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft on June 21 and acquired defenseman P.K. Subban in a trade with the Nashville Predators the next day. They also signed forward Wayne Simmonds to a one year, $5 million contract July 1 and acquired forward Nikita Gusev in a trade with the Vegas Golden Knights on July 29 before signing him to a two-year, $9 million contract the same day.

Tavares says next captain of Maple Leafs will be ‘great one’

John Tavares said the chance to be Toronto Maple Leafs captain would be an honor but noted whoever is selected will have a strong leadership group in place to help him.

“No question being a Maple Leaf and the history, what it means, the tradition, the connection to the fan base and city, it’s a big deal but at the same time you don’t want to let it change you,” Tavares said Monday after skating with teammates. “You just want to be yourself and play your game but whatever happens, I know we’re going to have a great one, whoever it is. We want to all support whoever it is.”

Toronto has not had a captain since defenseman Dion Phaneuf was traded to the Ottawa Senators on Feb. 9, 2016; and general manager Kyle Dubas has said naming a captain is a significant decision because of the responsibility it carries for an Original Six team.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Tavares, who signed a seven-year contract with Toronto as an unrestricted free agent July 1, 2018, was captain of the New York Islanders for five seasons (2013-18) and is one of two Maple Leafs along with Jason Spezza, who was captain of the Ottawa Senators for one season (2013-14), to have been a captain in the NHL.5

“I know from my time being a captain, you realize how important the people are around you, that you don’t have all the answers and that you have to lean on your teammates,” Tavares said. “When you have so many great players, great people, guys who can lead and could wear the C here and be that guy, you realize just how much you can lean on everyone else because you’ve got all those guys around you to lift you up and help you when things aren’t going well.”

Tavares, who had an NHL career-high 88 points (47 goals, 41 assists) in 82 games last season, mentioned several of his teammates he feels worthy of the honor.

Defenseman Morgan Rielly.

“Morgan being here as long as he has (six seasons) and his maturity level, you can see it in his game and how he carries himself off the ice, just very level headed especially as a defenseman which is a very tough position to play with the amount of load he carries,” Tavares said.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Forward Mitchell Marner, who remains a restricted free agent.

“[Marner] has an incredible energy about him, just brings the room to life and the way he impacts the game in so many different areas, the way he plays it is so unique,” Tavares said.

Cubs’ Javy Baez Thumb Injury Diagnosed as Fracture; Likely Out Rest of September

The Chicago Cubs will likely be without shortstop Javier Baez for the rest of the regular season.

According to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times, Baez is “unlikely” to play in September after suffering a fractured thumb. Wittenmyer noted a specialist confirmed the injury but discovered there was no ligament damage.cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

The hope is he can play in October should the Cubs advance to the playoffs.6

Baez, 26, is slashing .281/.316/.532 with 29 home runs and 85 RBI in 133 games this season. He was also Chicago’s best player last year when he slashed .290/.326/.554 with 34 home runs and 111 RBI as a National League MVP candidate who helped carry the team into the playoffs.nfl cheap nike jerseys

Addison Russell would typically be the next shortstop with Baez sidelined, but he is under concussion protocol, per Zach Zaidman of the Cubs Radio Network. That leaves highly regarded prospect Nico Hoerner, who is in the starting lineup for Monday’s game against the San Diego Padres.

Yankees News: Mike Tauchman to Miss 6-8 Weeks with Calf Injury

The New York Yankees have battled injuries throughout the season and will be without another key piece down the stretch.

According to Yankees reporter Bryan Hoch, outfielder Mike Tauchman will miss six to eight weeks with a Grade 2 calf strain.

“I’m bummed out for him,” manager Aaron Boone said, per Hoch. “We’ve got to keep moving.”nfl nike jerseys cheap china5

Tauchman has appeared in 87 games for the Bronx Bombers this season and is slashing .277/.361/.504 with 13 home runs and 47 RBI. The numbers are a significant turnaround from last year when he was largely a nonfactor for the Colorado Rockies and finished with an .094 batting average in 21 games.

His presence in the lineup has helped make up for injuries to Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, Miguel Andujar, Aaron Hicks and Greg Bird, among others, throughout the season.

Even with the attrition, New York is 94-50 and 8.5 games ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League East. It has fought through injuries all year and remains on the short list of World Series contenders and will have to continue doing the same following this setback.cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

Hoch noted Boone pointed to Cameron Maybin, Clint Frazier and Tyler Wade as candidates to see more playing time while Tauchman is out.

X-rays negative after Harper plunked, exits game

Philadelphia Phillies right fielder Bryce Harper exited Friday night’s game against the New York Mets with a right-hand contusion after he was hit on the right hand by a pitch from Mets starter Steven Matz in the third inning.

X-rays were negative, but Harper said after the game that he could not grip a bat, and he was uncertain whether he could Saturday.

“I don’t know yet. See tomorrow how I feel,” he said. “Of course, we’re in the stretch right now so if I can be in there, I’m gonna be in there. But gotta be careful too.”nike nfl jerseys cheap china

Harper, batting with one out and a runner on third, was ahead in the count 1-0 when Matz’s 93 mph fastball sailed up and in on him. Harper recoiled and the ball ricocheted off his hand.7

The 26-year-old fell to his knees and gripped his hand in pain before getting to his feet and walking back to the plate, where Mets catcher Wilson Ramos appeared to ask Harper how he was doing. Harper put his head on Ramos’ shoulder before Ramos, a former teammate with the Washington Nationals, patted him on the shoulder.

After a brief visit from a trainer and manager Gabe Kapler, Harper trotted to first base. He was retired at second on an inning-ending double play by Rhys Hoskins, after which Sean Rodriguez trotted out to replace Harper in right field.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

“Any time it squares you up a little bit, it’s scary,” Harper said. “Definitely wanted to get on first and keep the game going. But yeah, it wasn’t good.”

Harper’s plunking might be the latest chapter in what has become a volatile rivalry this season. The Mets have been hit by a pitch 14 times in 16 games against the Phillies, who have been hit by a New York pitcher eight times.

Hoskins took offense to a pair of up-and-in pitches from Jacob Rhame on April 23 and punctuated his displeasure by taking a 35-second home run trot after going deep off Rhame the next night.

On July 6, Phillies right-hander Jake Arrieta hit three Mets batters. Todd Frazier, the second batter plunked by Arrieta, was ejected for arguing after home plate umpire Tripp Gibson warned both teams. Two batters later, Arrieta wasn’t ejected after hitting Amed Rosario with a changeup, though New York manager Mickey Callaway was tossed for arguing. After the game, Arrieta said if Frazier was unhappy about being hit, “he can come see me and I’ll put a dent in his skull.”

How the Boomers won a brutal chess game vs. Lithuania

Disregard an exhibition series against Team USA. Disregard a first-up, almost must-win game against Group rivals Canada. The test — the real test — for the Boomers’ medal credentials was always going to hinge on a confrontation with historical rivals, Lithuania.

Consider the stakes: actual tournament play, a grind-it-out style that would test the Australians, a surging opponent backed by a frenetic, roaring, travelling band of supporters (and their drums) and media alike. Both will travel to Nanjing — this was confirmed days ago — but the winner of this vaunted Group H clash would have more than just bragging rights within this storied rivalry.

“They’re great in their sets – they’ve got winks on blinks on counters,” said Boomers assistant coach Luc Longley, a few days ago. “They’ve got enough bigs to be a problem inside. They’ve got enough shooting. They’re just a very good basketball team — well organised, well disciplined, and they care a lot.”cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

“Obviously, got the bigs inside, big, physical bigs,” said Matthew Dellavedova. “But I think [they’re] a very even team — a lot of perimeter and wing scoring as well.”6

Boomers power forward David Barlow explained to ESPN that the level of detail has been astounding when it came to preparation for their bodies, their schemes, their opponents.

The Boomers have been fully aware of the potential permutations and competition mechanisms which have ensured that every game, every point, means so much in the this tournament.

Weaver described the challenges in-game adjustments, of reading and reacting to what Lithuania would throw at them, in the manner of a high-level chess game. To win, the Boomers would need to solve those puzzles deep in the trenches.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Shortcomings are amplified in the cauldron of a tournament, and within the company of elite competition. In Lithuania, the Boomers found a creditable puzzle to solve, as they survived a blistering second-half rally to win 87-82, and carry a precious one-game advantage into the second round of group play.

Allowing offensive rebounding, and the subsequent second-chance opportunities, was a sore spot for the Boomers against Senegal. The twin towers of Memphis Grizzlies big man Jonas Valanciunas and the Indiana Pacers’ Domantas Sabonis have been bulwarks in this tournament, bludgeoning their opponents on the glass. They would be an imposing frontline.

Lithuania averaged a staggering 15 o-boards (and 16 second-chance points) over their first two matches. A point of emphasis had to be to keep the likes of Valanciunas and Sabonis from beasting the offensive glass. In an amped up Aron Baynes, they met their beefy match, the Boomers centre barging his way to every defensive rebound available, setting the tone on the glass, particularly with Andrew Bogut plagued by foul trouble.

The Boomers and Lithuania: A rivalry forged over two decades

The intertwined histories of the Boomers and the Lithuanian national team in major tournaments is perhaps summed up with a nod and a smile.

Mark Bradtke, legendary Boomer (and now team manager), recalls sitting one row behind Lithuanian basketball royalty, the great Arvydas Sabonis, at the FIBA World Cup draw in Shenzhen, back on a Saturday evening in March.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Once it was confirmed that the Boomers would indeed be drawn with Lithuania in Group H, Sabonis would turn to Bradtke, and shake his head in tacit understanding: oh, we’re back at it again.

“They understand the significance as well as us,” says Bradtke. “It’s just another chapter in the history of Australia versus Lithuania.”

This rivalry, perhaps the Boomers’ greatest in international basketball, has been largely forged through the Summer Games.

“Unfortunately, most of my memories of Lithuania on the court are bad,” says Luc Longley.5

In their first Olympics since regaining independence, in Barcelona 1992, Lithuania defeated the Australians in their final group encounter, relegating the Boomers to third in their group, and a dreaded crossover quarter-final matchup with eventual silver medallists, Croatia. Croatia would ultimately bundle out the Australians.

Mitch Creek was 3 months old when Lithuania would advance through to the bronze medal game in Barcelona and win an historic medal.

“I didn’t get to see it when I was really young,” he says of the seemingly inevitable clashes between these two sides in three straight Olympics. “For me, it was more like the archives, watching the VHS tapes, watching footage online, and watching those battles play out.”cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Four years later at Atlanta, a surging Boomers team would encounter Lithuania once again, this time in the bronze medal game. In a tense and torrid affair, the Baltic Giants would once again prevail, behind the dominance of their Hall of Fame centre, Sabonis, to win a second consequence medal, and deny the Boomers their first.

“I know the year that I didn’t play, Atlanta, because I had an ankle clean-up, [Arvydas] Sabonis hurt them in the bronze game when they came fourth that year as well,” recalls Longley.

“He was slowing down a bit there, but extremely talented, would shoot the three-ball back then,” says Bradtke, who had the onerous task of playing against one of the greatest ever centres. “[He was] a really good passer, and they had awesome shooters around him as well. It was a tough cover for all teams. He was my biggest challenge in opponent and he got the better of me every single time.”

Bears kicker Eddy Pineiro faces what might be NFL’s most unstable job

The Chicago Bears’ most scrutinized offseason storyline rests on the right foot of Eddy Pineiro, the former undrafted kicker who enters Week 1 with a tenuous grip on the starting job.

Tenuous being, perhaps, an understatement.

The Bears’ much-publicized, and sometimes unorthodox, search to replace Cody Parkey (he of “double-doink” fame and eight missed field goals in 2018) ultimately led them to Pineiro, whom Chicago acquired from the Oakland Raiders in May.

Pineiro ended up as the last man standing in a nine-kicker derby that began at the post-draft rookie minicamp, but Chicago’s problem isn’t necessarily solved. Pineiro said on Sunday, after Bears coach Matt Nagy named him the starting kicker for Thursday night’s Green Bay Packers game, that “a big stress has been lifted off my shoulders.”

In reality, having never attempted a field goal in a regular-season game, Pineiro’s stress level is about to get worse.
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The second-year kicker, who turns 24 on Sept. 13, is assured of very little beyond Week 1, and that’s the difficult balancing act for the Bears.6

“Hopefully it’s the arrow-up deal where he hits a few early and he gets his confidence going, and before you know it, he’s on a nice streak. … And if it starts out a little slow or there’s inconsistency, that’s where the challenge of being able to … the frustration of how much it hurts you comes into play.”

The Bears were exceedingly patient with Parkey only to get burned at the worst moment. Most people remember the 43-yard playoff miss against the Philadelphia Eagles, but Parkey, astonishingly, bounced four missed kicks (two field goals, two extra points) off the uprights in a regular-season home game with Detroit.

Chicago stuck with Parkey, who went 3-for-3 on field goals the next week, but the veteran’s accuracy again began to wane as the regular season drew to a close. The Philadelphia disaster made an already uncomfortable situation untenable. Parkey’s ill-advised appearance on a national morning television show days after the Bears’ season ended expedited his departure, which was inevitable.

The Bears cannot let history repeat itself, but they have to be fair to Pineiro.nike jerseys nfl cheap

“Otherwise, we’re just a cat chasing its tail,” Nagy said.

But just how much leeway can a team with legitimate Super Bowl aspirations afford an unproven kicker?

“You look at a lot of good kickers around the league, you’ll see ebbs and flows sometimes earlier in their career — not that that’s our expectation. We also understand sometimes that you have to have patience with this position,” Bears general manager Ryan Pace said. “Eddy has the right demeanor. He’s got the right leg talent. The team has really embraced him and we’re happy with the way the whole process played out.”

Bears special teams coordinator Chris Tabor added: “There have been some other players here that have been really good that missed two of their first four kicks. So the hard part is, if it does happen, when does that take place? … I like how he’s preparing, because he keeps growing, each and every day. And that’s our job to help him with that.”