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Nick Saban’s open-door policy a factor in Alabama’s draft success

Alabama coach Nick Saban knew what he wanted when he coached in the NFL — first as a defensive assistant with the Houston Oilers and Cleveland Browns, then as head coach of the Miami Dolphins in 2005 and 2006.

He has spent the past 11 years as a college head coach making sure he provides that information to the league he left behind. NFL talent evaluators crave information; Saban’s policy at Alabama helps them obtain it.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

He has maintained an open-door policy for scouts, a philosophy that can help recruiting, keep college players sharp in practice and, yes, lead to more information for NFL teams. It also can help underclassmen decide if they’re ready for the NFL.

“I know it’s a lot easier when you have that policy than when you don’t,” Saban said. “When I was in the NFL and I wanted to go see a player and work out players, places that had a policy that embraced that, you were always looking forward to going there. Places that didn’t, you almost didn’t want to go sometimes. It was counterproductive for the player.”

The Crimson Tide has ruled the NFL draft since Saban became their head coach in 2007. Since then, Alabama leads all schools with 77 draft picks — five more than runner-up LSU (which did not have a similar policy, but does now). And the Tide leads all schools with 26 first-round picks — 15 more than LSU and 10 more than Ohio State. The Washington Redskins have drafted four players from Alabama in the past two drafts, including three in the first two rounds.40

Alabama’s talent, more than anything, attracts attention. The Tide’s elite players annually vie for the top spot among the recruiting rankings. Alabama’s 2017 class had 24 players rated with four or five stars by ESPN Recruiting Nation. Players go to Alabama knowing the NFL is a possibility.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

“When you go to college, you’re there to develop in your career and develop off the field and develop on the field to play at the next level,” said Saban, who has won five national championships at Alabama. “To not embrace that and help the players do that is counterproductive.”

Redskins’ defense will benefit from quarterback Alex Smith

I don’t know that there’s one stat I’ll be looking at to judge Smith. It’s easy to say wins and losses, but when Kirk Cousins was here, I’d always say you can’t judge one player that way (even at this position). There are many other factors involved.

Passing yards is another one, though if Smith doesn’t throw for 4,000 yards, is that necessarily a bad season? What if it’s because the Redskins also can run the ball consistently (for a change)? With Cousins, he had to throw for a lot of yards because there wasn’t a consistent rushing attack. They were overly reliant on the quarterback; I’ll also say they remain firmly convinced Jay Gruden’s offense can help many quarterbacks throw for 4,000 yards. We’ll see.

But I’ll go to the one I know you want me to mention: turnovers. Smith has long been known for not turning the ball over. In fact, in the past five years combined, he’s thrown only 33 interceptions. In 17 fewer starts, Cousins threw 19 more picks (but only seven fewer touchdowns). We know Smith takes care of the ball, but this stat can have a tremendous impact on both sides of the ball. It’s about field position. I wrote about this in February, but here’s the stat: Last season,cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale Washington allowed the opposition to start 23 drives inside its territory, which ranked 29th in the NFL. The Patriots allowed only five such drives (and two were kneel-downs at the end of a loss). The Redskins allowed the most drives to start inside their own 30.
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That was not all on Cousins by any means. But if this stat gets turned around, the Redskins will improve. During Smith’s five seasons in Kansas City, the Chiefs allowed a combined 72 such drives. It’s no coincidence they made the postseason four times and finished with a winning record all five years. Their defense was good for his first four years, but last season the Chiefs ranked 15th in points allowed and 28th in yards. They were not great by any means. They won 10 games. Taking care of the ball (and having some offensive playmakers) mattered. One Redskins staffer earlier this offseason pointed to this stat and Smith’s win-loss record in the past seven years (69-31-1) and said it was no coincidence. He pointed to his ability to take care of the ball as a main reason. He’s played with some excellent defenses, too. But he helps them out by not committing turnovers.

Clearly, Chris Thompson and Derrius Guice will be on the roster. They’ve used Rob Kelley as their No. 1 back in the spring (for what that’s worth). But coach Jay Gruden always has liked him, and they believed Kelley was doing a solid job before his ankle injuries kept slowing him down. And do you get rid of Samaje Perine after one season? To me, he showed enough that he could be a viable backup. But I also felt the Redskins were caught when Thompson went down because nobody else on the roster could do what he did. That doesn’t mean you must carry that guy on the active roster. If they’re on the practice squad it’s OK, considering they might not be active anyway on game day.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Between Byron Marshall and Kapri Bibbs, they have possible third-down options behind Thompson. If they believe undrafted free agent Martez Carter can develop (they like him, yet thought he needed to get in better shape), then he could be placed on the practice squad and developed. That way you get four backs on the roster and a fifth who would be in your system should anything happen. Last season they didn’t even have one on the practice squad when Thompson was hurt.

Astros outlast Rangers after A.J. Hinch argues for balk call

The Houston Astros scored the winning run against the Texas Rangers on Sunday when manager A.J. Hinch successfully argued that the Rangers’ Keone Kela had balked with a runner on third, even though the call hadn’t originally been made on the field.

With runners on second and third and the count 1-2 on the Astros’ Evan Gattis, Kela made a quick pitch to Gattis that was called a ball. After he made the pitch,nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal  Hinch came out of the dugout to point out that the pitch was illegal and should have resulted in a balk. The umpires convened and agreed, calling a balk that allowed George Springer to score from third base. Rangers manager Jeff Banister then came out to argue and was ejected from the game.

The score was 7-7 at the time with Springer scoring the eighth and eventual winning run as the Astros held on for the 8-7 victory.24

The umpires ruling falls under MLB Rule 8.01, which states “pitchers may disengage the rubber after taking their signs but may not step quickly onto the rubber and pitch. This may be judged a quick pitch by the umpire. When the pitcher disengages the rubber, he must drop his hands to his sides.”

“It’s clear as day what happened. It’s a weird play and it caught everybody off guard, including the umpiring crew,” Hinch said after the game.nfl nike jersey cheap”It’s an illegal pitch with a runner on third. And Kela does that all the time with nobody on, so I think he was so focused on the hitter he decided to do a quick pitch, which you can’t do — it’s a balk. So once they convened I could overhear a little bit of the conversation and ultimately they got the game right.”

Olney: Could the Mets really deal Jacob deGrom to the Yankees?

Jacob deGrom has faced 12 batters with the bases loaded this year, and of those, nine have struck out and zero have gotten hits. There have been times when pitching coach Dave Eiland has visited the mound and deGrom has said flatly that he’ll get out of the jam, his words sounding nothing like a boast and everything like recitation of fact.buy nike nfl jerseys cheap

So deGrom is everything that the New York Mets really need right now, in their worst of times, in his dominance and his leadership. But given the current challenges of the organization — the gray-beard age at the major league level, the lack of depth at the top of their farm system — they owe it to themselves to welcome offers from other clubs for deGrom and Noah Syndergaard, to at least understand what’s possible.23

And lest there be any doubt, deGrom would be the most sought-after commodity in the market, and because he’s 2? seasons away from free agency and could potentially lead a team to three postseasons, the offers from contenders would probably surprise the Mets. They could reasonably ask for two elite major league ready prospects, and two high-end guys from the lower minor league system. If Syndergaard demonstrates that he’s healthy before the All-Star break, he could generate similar interest.

But the Mets won’t know for sure unless they go through the process of engaging other teams, setting a stratospheric price and then waiting to see if somebody is especially motivated. The Mets should talk to deGrom and Syndergaard and give them the same kind of heads-up that Tigers general manager Al Avila provided for J.D. Martinez, Justin Verlander and others last year: Look, your name is going to be in the rumor mill, and a lot of it is going to be false. nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal Don’t believe anything until we tell you, and we’ll keep you in the loop if something gets really serious.

And yes, the Mets should welcome offers from the Yankees, who may well be capable of producing the best offer because they are highly motivated, with a chance to win the World Series in the immediate future, and because they have the best farm system. The old-school philosophy has always been that you don’t talk trade with your rivals, including the team that vies with you for backpage attention in your city.

Suspended Cowboys DE Randy Gregory expected to meet with NFL

Dallas Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory is expected to meet with NFL officials, potentially including commissioner Roger Goodell, this week in New York regarding his reinstatement, according to multiple sources.

Gregory’s attorney, Daniel Moskowitz, who helped former Arizona Cardinals linebacker Daryl Washington gain reinstatement last year, declined comment.nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal

Gregory, who has missed 30 of the past 32 games because of suspension, filed the reinstatement application within the past two weeks.15

Last week, Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said the proceeding was in the league’s hands.

“We don’t have anything to report differently, other than that I know he’s wanting to move forward with the appeal,” Jones said. “I don’t really have anything new to report on that front other than that. I know he’s done the application process, but I’m pretty sure he hasn’t had the actual appeal. It’s in the league’s hands.”

The NFL’s substance-abuse policy states that once the reinstatement paperwork has been filed, “all individuals involved in the process will take steps to enable the commissioner to render a decision within 60 days of the receipt of the application.”

There have been instances of the timeline being extended because not all of the steps have been completed in time.

Gregory fell to the Cowboys in the second round of the 2015 draft because of off-the-field issues during his time at Nebraska. Jerry Jones was willing to take the chance on Gregory and hoped a support system that helped other players through the years would help Gregory.cheap nfl nike jersey

Gregory played in 12 games as a rookie in 2015, missing four with an ankle injury. He ended up in the NFL’s substance-abuse program in 2016 and was initially suspended the first four games of that season. Another failed test led to an additional 10-game suspension, but he was able to return for the final two regular-season games and recorded the first — and so far only — sack of his career.

Roddy White: No-brainer that Julio Jones should be top-paid WR

Close friends and former Atlanta Falcons teammates Julio Jones and Roddy White have spent plenty of time together this offseason, including a recent trek to Los Angeles and multiple visits to the Carribean.

During those trips, White insisted neither discussed Jones’ contract situation that is tied to his absence from the Falcons’ offseason workouts.new nike nfl jerseys cheap

“Two rich people don’t talk about money,” White said with a laugh.

At the same time, White understands there is a reason for Jones to be a bit perplexed about his contract situation despite having three years and almost $35 million left on his deal.

A quick glance around the league shows seven receivers who average more than Jones’ $14.25 million per year, led by Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown at $17 million per year. When Jones signed a five-year, $71.25 million contract extension in August 2015, he received $47 million guaranteed — the same amount of guaranteed money Jarvis Landry secured after being traded to Cleveland from Miami. Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans tops all receivers with $55 million guaranteed as part of a five-year, $82.5 million extension he signed in March. Jones is set to make $10.5 million in 2018, 12th most among all receivers.

Naturally, the market value increases as the salary cap increases. But on paper, White firmly believes Jones has a valid argument for a revised contract and raise.6

“It’s a tough situation, especially for him because he just signed a deal three years ago,” White said, “but the numbers would tell you he’s way, way, way outplayed being paid the amount of money that they’ve given him.nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal

“A lot of times, you don’t want to rub people the wrong way. On the other hand, when people look at the numbers and start stacking them up against people that are making more money than him, then it verifies that he should be paid a lot more money. Yes, he deserves to be the highest-paid [receiver]. I think he does, based on performance. For me, that’s a no-brainer.”

White, the Falcons’ all-time leading receiver who went through a contract saga with the team, has mentored Jones over the years and is willing to serve as an adviser now — if needed. Falcons coach Dan Quinn said he expected Jones to be present when the Falcons held their three-day mandatory minicamp Tuesday through Thursday. Players who skip mandatory minicamp are subject to maximum fines of $14,070 the first day, $28,140 the second day, and $42,215 the third day.

Winning TD catch fuels Chris Godwin’s offseason momentum

It wasn’t just the play of the game in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 31-24 win against the New Orleans Saints in Week 17 last season — it was the play of the season. And if what the coaches and players at the Bucs’ organized team activities are saying is true, there should be many more of them in wide receiver Chris Godwin’s future.

On first-and-10 at the 39-yard line with 15 seconds to go, quarterback Jameis Winston hit Godwin along the right sideline. Cornerback Ken Crawley draped himself all over Godwin’s body the last 10 yards, but Godwin still managed to dash his way into the end zone, giving him his first NFL touchdown catch.cheap nike nfl jerseys china

“For me, it was kind of just a big [weight] off my shoulders,” Godwin said. “Like when you first get into the league, you have milestones that you want to get to, whether it’s first catch, or first touchdown — I’m just thankful it was able to come my first year.”

The week before against the Carolina Panthers, he’d been stopped 1 yard shy of the end zone and wide receivers coach Skyler Fulton still puts in the tape of it to remind him.5

“I give him a hard time that Bobo [Wilson] got a touchdown before he did,” Fulton said, laughing. “But ultimately, it just gives you confidence. You go out and make plays like that on an NFL stage in a pressure situation, at the point we were at in our season … it’s just another step of maturity and confidence. Now when we get to a similar scenario — that’s nothing to him, he’s done it before, he knows he can do it.”

The play did wonders for his confidence. It has carried into 2018, and he has had arguably one of the best offseasons of any Bucs player.

“It’s kind of like a night-and-day difference, just how comfortable I am. Coming in, like I have my routine that I do every day, it just allows me to come out here and play a lot faster,” said Godwin, adding he learned a lot from the different matchups he had with opposing cornerbacks.new nike nfl jerseys cheap

“I think the biggest difference is that in college, you may have like four really good guys that you go against,” Godwin said. “And in the NFL, every week, you have a guy that’s in the top 1 percent in the world at what he does. So it’s just understanding that and coming prepared every day to get better and really compete on every single play.”

Ismael Tajouri-Shradi brace lifts New York City FC past Orlando City

Rookie Ismael Tajouri-Shradi scored two goals as NYCFC remained unbeaten at home with a 3-0 victory over Orlando City FC on Saturday night at Yankee Stadium.

Tajouri-Shradi made it 1-0 by converting New York’s first scoring chance in the 35th minute. Trailing the play, he went into the box, took the pass from Anton Tinnerholm and released a nifty left-footed shot after defender Donny Toia fell to the ground that sailed into the far side of the net.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

Tajorui-Shradi’s big night helped NYCFC improve to 6-0-0 at home and beat Orlando for the second time this season.

He added his seventh goal of the season by converting a rebound off a free kick by Maximiliano Moralez in the 78th minute.

It was the second career two-goal game for the 24-year-old, who was born in Switzerland to Libyan parents. He also tallied twice on March 24 in a 2-2 tie at the New England Revolution.

Moralez made it 3-0 in the 87th minute after Orlando was unable to clear the box twice, just moments after David Villa hit the crossbar with a left-footed shot.

NYCFC is outscoring opponents 18-2 in six home games this season.48

NYCFC improved to 8-3-3 on a night when Villa was not in the starting lineup. No reason was given for Villa’s absence at the start, but he warmed up briefly on two occasions around the 22nd minute and the 52nd minute before entering the game in the 65th minute.

Orlando played without leading scorer Dom Dwyer for the third straight game with a lower-body injury. Dwyer, who was seen at training this week, missed his sixth game this season, and Orlando dropped to 0-5-1 when he sits out.cheap official nike nfl jerseys

Orlando, which lost its fourth straight game, was unable to convert five corner kicks and missed a golden opportunity to tie the game on a penalty kick in the 48th minute when Sacha Kljestan hit the right post with his right-footed shot.

New York’s Sean Johnson made two saves and notched his 48th career shutout. It was his fifth shutout this season.

Max Scherzer’s surprise single, mad dash beat Braves

The Atlanta Braves have been living a charmed existence during the first couple months of the 2018 season. A 34-23 start, a long stay in first place, a rebuilding plan that has come together ahead of schedule, frightening injuries to foundation players — Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acuna Jr. — that turned out to be much less serious than initially feared.

Then, with the National League East favorite Washington Nationals visiting SunTrust Park for a big, four-game series this weekend, there was this: The Braves missed Max Scherzer’s turn through the rotation.new nike nfl jerseys for sale cheap

As it turns out, though Atlanta won’t have to face Scherzer’s filthy repertoire on the mound this weekend, they were beaten by him anyway. Scherzer’s pinch-hit single in the 14th inning sparked a two-run rally as the Nationals outlasted the Braves 5-3 on Saturday and moved within a half-game of Atlanta in the NL East.36

Scherzer’s hit off Braves reliever Miguel Socolovich with one out in the 14th was far from a screamer. Statcast gave Scherzer’s knock an exit velocity of 83.8 mph. But it got the job done.

“I’ve hit in big situations, so it’s the same thing,” Scherzer said. “You go up there, you have to get in the box and have pre-pitch thoughts and, for me, try to hit it up the middle. I’m not going to be hitting the ball out of the ballpark. I know that. I’ve got a high school swing. I know it. But, hey, it’s good enough just to get a ball in play, and sure enough, something happens.”

It was Scherzer’s first career pinch hit in his third appearance in the role. Overall, the three-time Cy Young winner is a .194 career hitter with one home run. This season, he stole his first career base, something Washington manager Dave Martinez thought might have been on his ace’s mind as he led off first base.

Instead, after a Michael Taylor fly out, Wilmer Difo hammered a drive to right-center that reached the fence. Off on contact, Scherzer raced around the bases to score standing up, while Difo slid into third with a go-ahead triple. Difo then scored when Cobb County, Georgia, native Spencer Kieboom singled him home.

“It looked like [Scherzer] was going to try to steal as well, and I was like, ‘Oh, boy,'” Martinez said. “Then all of a sudden, he goes first to home, and I’m holding my breath. But he was flying. I said, ‘You can run.’ He said, ‘I can do it all.’ Kudos to him. He picked us up.”

As a starting pitcher, Scherzer bats on a semi-regular basis. Still, it had been a while since he’d gone first to home.

“A couple of years ago,” Scherzer said. “I got it. I know how to run the bases.”cheap nfl jerseys nike china

According to Statcast, Scherzer’s mad dash around the bases took 10.89 seconds, giving him a sprint speed of 26.9 seconds. The league average is 27 seconds, and if Scherzer had enough instances to qualify, 26.9 seconds would rank 10th on the Nationals, just ahead of outfielders Adam Eaton and Bryce Harper.

Cubs strike out season-high 24 times vs. Mets, still win in extras

The irony for the Chicago Cubs is that even though they’ve been reducing their high strikeout games at the plate, every so often they get into one that makes the history books. It happened again Saturday, in their 7-1, 14-inning victory against the New York Mets.

According to ESPN Stats & Information research, the Cubs’ MLB-season-high 24 strikeouts were the second-most in a win by any team since the mounds were moved to their current distance in 1893. According to Elias, the Cubs are the third team since that same year to have multiple 20-strikeout games in the same season, as they also struck out 20 times on March 30 against the Miami Marlins.nike cheap nfl jerseys

Mets starter Jacob deGrom accumulated most of the whiffs on Saturday, with 13 in his seven innings of work.

“He was unbelievable,” Albert Almora Jr. said after the 4-hour, 53-minute game. “It’s been a while since I faced a pitcher like that. Everything was moving away from my barrel. His fastball had some late life, his slider was sharp, and he threw me one of the nastiest changeups I’ve ever seen.”35

Almora struck out three times but was the hero, as he hit a two-run double to right-center in the 14th inning to break a 1-1 tie. The Cubs scored six runs total in the 14th, tied for the fourth-most in that inning in the past 30 seasons. It was all part of a crazy night in which the teams combined for a 2018 major-league-high 39 strikeouts, yet the Cubs also had 17 hits.

For the Cubs, Mike Montgomery pitched six innings of two-hit ball, and reliever Luke Farrell pitched five innings in relief as the game went into extras.

“I’m a lot chippier and happier right now because we won,” manager Joe Maddon said. “Had we not won that game with all those opportunities, it would have been difficult … We just have to move the ball. We started chasing again tonight.”

Maddon asked reporters if anyone had struck out so much in a win, forgetting that the New York Yankees beat the Cubs last season when both teams struck out more than 20 times. Part of the reason the Cubs were stuck on one run for so long is that they struck out five times with the bases loaded alone.

“When you get guys like this [deGrom], the secret for me is when you get a chance to score with an out, move the baseball,” Maddon said before the game.new nike nfl jerseys for sale cheap

The plan failed miserably against deGrom, but the Cubs hung in there, taking the first three games of the series while accumulating 45 hits. Even with all those swing-and-misses, it worked out.