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Toronto Raptors sign Aron Baynes, Chris Boucher to 2-year deals

Free agent Aron Baynes and the Toronto Raptors have agreed to a two-year, $14.3 million deal with a team option for the second year, his agent, Daniel Moldovan, told ESPN’s Bobby Marks.

Baynes fills an immediate need for Toronto at center with the departure of Marc Gasol to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Chris Boucher also agreed to a two-year, $13.5 million deal to stay with the Raptors, his agent, Sam Permut, told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Baynes, who hails from Australia, is coming off arguably the best season of his eight-year NBA career, averaging a career-high 11.5 points and 5.6 rebounds while showing a long-range shooting touch for the first time. His 1.4 3-pointers and 35.1% shooting from deep were both career highs.cheap nfl nike jersey

But when Phoenix resumed its season inside the NBA bubble in Orlando, Florida, Baynes wasn’t part of it. He tested positive for COVID-19 and remained in Arizona as the upstart Suns went 8-0 in the bubble, only to fall just short of the playoffs.8

Boucher made strides and was able to crack the Raptors’ rotation this past season, his second with the team. He averaged 13.2 minutes in 62 games, with 6.6 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.0 blocks.

A 6-foot-9 power forward with great bounce and a big wingspan, he can defend on the perimeter but has struggled to shoot from there, connecting on just 32.1% of his attempts from 3-point range while averaging close to 2.0 attempts for his career.

He got a late start in basketball, then tore his ACL late in his senior season at Oregon, so while he turns 28 in January, this will be just his fourth NBA season.nfl cheap jerseys nike

Boucher is a restricted free agent, meaning the Raptors had the right to match any offer for him.

The Raptors also agreed to a two-year, $4 million deal with former Atlanta Hawks small forward DeAndre’ Bembry, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Bembry was the Hawks’ first-round pick (21st overall) in the 2016 NBA Draft. He’s started 23 games over the last four seasons with Atlanta.

This past season, he averaged 5.8 points and 3.5 rebounds in 43 games (four starts) for the Hawks.

Sources: Los Angeles Lakers, Marc Gasol agree to 2-year deal

The Los Angeles Lakers are shoring up their defending championship run by adding a big man with championship experience whose career started with the purple and gold.

The Lakers are finalizing a two-year deal with center Marc Gasol, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe.

The free-agent signing, which would pry Gasol away from several other interested contenders by offering a longer deal, requires some maneuvering on the part of Lakers vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka to manage the salary cap.

L.A. is trading center JaVale McGee and a future second-round pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers to help make room for Gasol, a source told Wojnarowski. Cleveland is sending Jordan Bell and Alfonzo McKinnie to the Lakers in the deal, sources said.

Gasol will be signing for the equivalent of the veteran’s minimum salary for a player with 10-plus years of service in the league of $2.56 million per year, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks. However, because Gasol will be signing a two-year deal, L.A. will not receive the typical cap relief that comes from signing a player to the veteran’s minimum.cheap nfl nike jersey

Normally, a veteran’s minimum one-year contract counts as only $1,620,564 against the cap, with the league footing the rest of the bill. It is a mechanism that allows cap-strapped contenders to continue to field competitive rosters year after year. High-profile teams signing veteran players, rather than cheaper, young, unproven talent, also benefits the league by keeping players in the NBA that the league has already invested in marketing to develop familiarity with its fans.7

Because L.A. is signing Gasol to a two-year deal, however, the contract is ineligible from the approximate $1 million in cap relief from the league each season.

Both McKinnie ($1.8 million) and Bell ($1.8 million) were on non-guaranteed contracts for 2020-21, according to Marks. In order to make the money between them and McGee — who recently opted into his $4.2 million contract for next season — match under the league’s trade guidelines, L.A. will have to guarantee part of their contracts.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

The Lakers will guarantee $580,000 of Bell’s salary, waive him and use the stretch provision to space the money owed to him over the next three years, league sources told Marks.

McKinnie’s contract has been fully guaranteed, and he will begin the season on the Lakers’ roster, according to Marks.

Adding Gasol and McKinnie, while parting with McGee, will give L.A. 10 players under contract, and when Anthony Davis signs his extension to stay with the team, as expected, that will bring the roster to 11. That will leave the Lakers with only enough cap space to sign three more players to one-year, veteran’s minimum contracts for 2020-21.

In Gasol, L.A. brings in a former All-Star to fill the void in the middle created by the departures of McGee and Dwight Howard, who signed with the Philadelphia 76ers as a free agent. Even though Davis is more than capable at center and played the position plenty during the Lakers’ postseason run, sources told ESPN that it remains a priority for L.A.’s front office to fill the roster with other reliable centers so that Davis doesn’t have to bear the brunt of the position during the arduous regular season.

Gasol was drafted by the Lakers in 2007 but had his rights traded to Memphis for his brother, Pau, before he ever played an NBA game.

On the Lakers, Gasol will be looking to win his second NBA championship. He won his first with the Raptors two seasons ago after Toronto landed him from the Grizzlies in a midseason trade. Gasol spent the first 10 seasons of his career with Memphis and was one of the founding fathers of the “Grit and Grind” Grizzlies who catapulted the franchise to new heights.

The 2012-13 Defensive Player of the Year, Gasol remains a stalwart on that end of the floor. The Raptors allowed a measly 98.9 points per 100 possessions when Gasol was on the court last season.

While his days as an offensive fulcrum are behind him, the 35-year-old averaged 3.3 assists in 26.4 minutes per game last season while stretching the floor as an effective 3-point shooter on a healthy number of attempts.

Gasol struggled to stay on the court in the playoffs, however, which could be a sign that Father Time is catching up to the 12-year veteran.

Taysom Hill runs for 2 TDs, lifts New Orleans Saints to win in 1st start at QB

Taysom Hill laughed when asked if he paid any attention to the scrutiny and criticism surrounding the New Orleans Saints’ decision to start him at quarterback on Sunday.

No, insisted the fascinating and polarizing 30-year-old curiosity, who is now 1-0 as a starter in the NFL after leading the Saints to a 24-9 win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.

Hill didn’t throw a touchdown pass or an interception, but he did lose a fumble after his longest run of the day in the fourth quarter.

However, Hill was quite open about how emotional this week was for him as he prepared to fill in after Drew Brees suffered broken ribs and a punctured lung last week. Brees will miss at least three weeks after being placed on injured reserve by the 8-2 Saints, who won their seventh consecutive game.

“Man, I spent a lot of time reflecting this week,” said Hill, who was a star dual-threat quarterback at BYU but battled injuries and went undrafted in 2017. “My wife and I had so many conversations about where we’ve been, the process of getting here. And if I’m being honest, it was an emotional week.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

“Felt a lot of love from a lot of people, and it was overwhelming in a good way. And then to be able to come out and get a win in my first start was gratifying. More than anything, I have so much love and respect for Drew and my other teammates that I wanted to make sure that I did my part to help us continue to win.”

Saints coach Sean Payton’s decision to start Hill over fellow backup Jameis Winston was heavily scrutinized, since Hill had attempted only 20 passes in his four-year NFL career, including the playoffs.

But Payton has long expressed his belief that the dual-threat athlete could be a successful starting quarterback. And he told ESPN’s Dianna Russini before Sunday’s game that Hill “deserves this opportunity.”8

Payton downplayed the significance of Hill’s performance after Sunday’s game and even directed the media to start asking about New Orleans’ defense instead. However, Payton couldn’t resist a little gloating minutes later when he retweeted former Falcons receiver Roddy White, exposing White’s “cold take” that read: “Saints about to get whip trying us with taysom hill at qb we about to snack them.”

“I thought he played well. He had the one turnover late in the game,” Payton said of Hill. “We had a big touchdown pass called back [an apparent 57-yarder from Hill to Emmanuel Sanders that was nullified by a holding penalty]. But look, it was a good team win. I thought we were fantastic defensively.”

Hill and the Saints’ offense got off to a bit of a slow start before he led them on their first touchdown drive late in the second quarter — thanks to his longest and ugliest completion of the day. Hill heaved up a wobbly deep ball that was badly underthrown, but Sanders made a great effort to come back for it and make a 44-yard catch. Hill found his groove from that point on, and he connected a total of nine times with Saints receiver Michael Thomas for 104 yards.

“I feel like me and Taysom, we have the same chip on our shoulder,” said Thomas, who also blamed himself for a “terrible drop” early in the game that might have made Hill’s performance even more impressive.nfl nike jerseys for cheap

Thomas laughed and acknowledged that Hill throws a “fastball.”

“We’re always trying to come out here and dominate and help this team win games and always prove people wrong and prove people that believe in us right,” Thomas said. “You know he’s a dog, man. Taysom’s a dog. So just to see him come out there and play like he played today, who cares what anyone says? He’s a baller.”

Hill said the Saints cut down “significantly” on the number of designed runs they usually draw up for him. But his legs were still a big asset.

Hill’s first TD run came on a designed QB keeper on fourth-and-goal from the 2-yard line in the third quarter. His second TD run was a 10-yard scramble that showed off his speed and athleticism when he couldn’t find an open receiver in the fourth quarter.

Hill went undrafted out of BYU in 2017 after throwing for 6,929 yards and 43 TD passes and running for 2,815 yards and 32 TDs. He began his NFL career with the Green Bay Packers before being claimed by the Saints off waivers.

Since then, his role has steadily increased from special teams to just about every position on the offense. The Saints signed Hill to a two-year, $21 million contract extension as a restricted free agent this offseason.

Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson after loss: Tennessee Titans ‘wanted it more than us’

Reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson questioned the effort of the Baltimore Ravens after they blew an 11-point lead in a 30-24 overtime loss to the Tennessee Titans.

“It looked like that team wanted it more than us,” Jackson said. “They were playing physical. When we went up, I felt like we just took our foot off the gas. But we just have to keep it going for the team.”

On Sunday, the Ravens took a commanding 21-10 advantage early in the third quarter before collapsing late in the fourth quarter and in overtime. Baltimore suddenly trailed 24-21 with 2:18 remaining in regulation when three defenders (Chuck Clark, Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey) missed tackles on A.J. Brown’s 14-yard touchdown catch. The Ravens then lost in overtime when Derrick Henry ran 29 yards up the middle of their defense for the touchdown.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

Asked about Jackson’s comment that the Titans wanted to win more than the Ravens, Baltimore rookie running back J.K. Dobbins said: “We always give good effort, but today was … They just gave more effort than us. We just have to fix that.”7

The frustrations continue to build on a team that was once among the preseason Super Bowl favorites. After last week’s 23-17 loss in New England, Jackson said the team was “ticked off” and other players acknowledged the Patriots were more physical than them. The Ravens put on the pads Wednesday to set a more physical tone, but the results Sunday were all too familiar.

Baltimore has lost three out of four games for the first time under Jackson and dropped consecutive games for the first time since September 2019. The Ravens (6-4), the defending two-time AFC North champions, dropped to third place in the division.

The biggest difference between last season and this one has been games against the better teams in the NFL. In 2019, Jackson was 6-1 against teams with winning records. This year, he’s 1-3 against them.

What can Jackson tell his teammates?nfl cheap jerseys nike

“Just focus and keep your head up,” said Jackson, who completed 17 of 29 passes for 186 yards with one touchdown and one interception. “We were in worse situations my rookie year [when the Ravens started 4-5 in 2018]. We turned the season around and people were down on us then. I feel like people want us to lose.”

The Ravens have a quick four-day turnaround and play at the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers (10-0) on Thanksgiving night.

Dallas Cowboys back in NFC East chase after snapping 4-game skid vs. Minnesota Vikings

It had been so long that Ezekiel Elliott couldn’t remember the last time the Dallas Cowboys won a game.

Forty-two days might have seemed like 42 years to Elliott and the rest of the Cowboys, considering all that had gone wrong before beating the Minnesota Vikings 31-28 on Sunday.

The Cowboys snapped a four-game losing streak, won a road game for the first time this season and put themselves in the NFC East race with six games to play, even with a 3-7 record.

“We never thought we were out of it,” Elliott said. “Our division’s been struggling this year. We’re right where we need to be with what’s been going on with the division. We’ve got to build on this success, so we can’t come out on a short week and take a step back against a division opponent. We’ve got to make sure we build on the success and keep getting better.”

The Cowboys’ season took a drastic turn on the day they beat the New York Giants at AT&T Stadium on Oct. 11, when Dak Prescott suffered a dislocation and compound fracture of his right ankle. Andy Dalton started two games as Prescott’s replacement before getting hurt, and he was followed by Ben DiNucci for a game and Garrett Gilbert for one more.

On Sunday, Dalton threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Dalton Schultz with 1:37 to play for the winning score, four weeks after suffering the first concussion of his career and three weeks after testing positive for COVID-19.

The Cowboys could be in first place in the NFC East with a win on Thanksgiving against the Washington Football Team. Of course, Washington can also make that claim, at least until the Philadelphia Eagles and Giants play their games.

After 10 games, no team in the division has more than three wins. The Eagles, who lost to the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, are in first place with a 3-6-1 record. The Cowboys, Giants (who were idle Sunday) and Washington are all 3-7, but the Giants hold the tiebreaker, followed by Washington and the Cowboys.

“There’s a lot of football left to be played,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “You have to play your best football in November and December, so obviously with the state of our division, that focus is ours. We need to win Thursday, and this will be our first opportunity to really stack success, and that’s the key to where we are as a team. All three phases played well. This is clearly the most rounded performance, victory we’ve had this year. It took us a little longer to get here, but I clearly think the journey will make us stronger.

“We need to do something with this win. It needs to mean something.cheap nfl jerseys china nike7

To claim first place in the division, the Cowboys would need back-to-back wins for the first time under McCarthy, and the first time since they opened the 2019 season with three straight wins.

Consistency has not been a trademark of the Cowboys’ season, but the win against the Vikings could serve as the catapult they have been waiting for.

Few folks expected the Cowboys to win Sunday. But the Dallas defense came up with two takeaways, leading to nine points in the first half, and two key fourth-quarter stops. The offense was able to score four touchdowns in a game for the first time since losing Prescott. Dallas entered Sunday with just two touchdowns in the four games without Prescott.

Dalton threw for just 203 yards and had a pass intercepted for the fourth time, but he was clutch when he needed to be. Trailing 28-24 with 4:00 to play, Dalton directed an 11-play, 61-yard drive in which he completed 5 of 7 passes for 37 yards. On fourth-and-6, he hit Amari Cooper for 10 yards five plays before his scoring throw to a wide-open Schultz.nfl cheap jerseys nike

“Andy’s a guy that’s played a lot of ball,” Elliott said. “He’s a vet. I think he’s in Year 10. He’s been in that moment a bunch of times. We trust him. … He was definitely clutch and came up big at the end.”

Behind an offensive line that was using its seventh different starting combination that included Pro Bowl guard Zack Martin at right tackle, Elliott also came up big, finishing with his first 100-yard game of the season, rushing for 103 yards on 21 carries, setting up Tony Pollard’s 42-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Elliott also had a receiving touchdown.

Rookie receiver CeeDee Lamb made a Dez Bryant-like touchdown grab in the first half and impacted the game more than his four catches for 34 yards would indicate.

In the end, a maligned Dallas defense stiffened after wilting in the second half — Adam Thielen had 123 receiving yards, Dalvin Cook had 115 rushing yards — with two key stops in the fourth quarter to set up Dalton’s winning drive and end a potential tying drive by Minnesota.

“This is what it’s about,” McCarthy said. “Trust me, it’s great to win because that’s what this is all about. It’s about winning and our team earned it.”

Trevor Bauer becomes first Cincinnati Reds pitcher to win Cy Young Award

The Cincinnati Reds’ Trevor Bauer won the National League Cy Young Award, giving Cincinnati its first winner of the honor.

Bauer topped fellow finalists Yu Darvish of the Chicago Cubs and Jacob deGrom of the New York Mets in the voting announced by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America on Wednesday.

DeGrom was looking to become the third pitcher in MLB history to win the award in three consecutive seasons.

The Reds had never had a Cy Young winner, making them one of four active MLB teams without a Cy Young winner and the only team founded prior to 1961 without one.

Bauer ended that drought.new nike nfl jerseys cheap7

He went 5-4 with an NL-best 1.73 ERA in 11 starts, helping the Reds reach the playoffs for the first time since 2013. Animated on the field and outspoken off it, the 29-year-old right-hander struck out 100 in 73 innings and led the majors with two shutouts, a pair of seven-inning performances on doubleheader days.

He became a free agent after the season and turned down the Reds’ qualifying offer, but left the door open for a return.

This is the first Cy Young for Bauer, who tied for sixth in the AL voting in 2018, after he went 12-6 with a 2.21 ERA for the Indians. He was traded to Cincinnati at last year’s deadline as part of a three-team deal that moved Yasiel Puig to Cleveland.

Bauer struggled after he was acquired by the Reds, going 2-5 with a 6.39 ERA in 10 starts. He returned to form when this season started in July. He gave up only two runs and eight hits in 26⅓ innings over his first four starts. He also closed out the season with a flourish, recording a 1.29 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 35 innings over five September starts.nfl nike jersey cheap

“The biggest deal this year is I was just healthy,” he said. “I was able to go out there and compete, be on a routine.”

Bauer pitched Game 1 of the playoffs at Atlanta and struck out 12 in 7⅔ innings. But the Reds lost 1-0 in 13 innings and failed to score during the Braves’ sweep.

Bauer, who has his own YouTube account and nearly 400,000 followers on Twitter, was selected by Arizona with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2011 draft. He is 75-64 with a 3.90 ERA in 205 career games, including 195 starts.

Sources: Brooklyn Nets top James Harden’s list of trade destinations

As Houston Rockets star James Harden considers his uncertain future with the franchise, the Brooklyn Nets are rising to the top of his list as a possible trade destination, sources told ESPN.

The idea of joining Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn is resonating with Harden, sources said.
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Durant and Harden — past teammates with the Oklahoma City Thunder — have recently discussed the possibility, but there have yet to be trade discussions between the two front offices.

Harden has been increasingly uneasy about the Rockets’ ability to compete for an NBA title and has been considering the possibility of pushing to play elsewhere before his contract expires, sources said.

The Nets are believed to be considering the viability of a deal for Harden, but it is unclear how far the franchise would go in delivering Houston the assets it might require in return.

Rockets general manager Rafael Stone has consistently been telling teams that the team plans to “run it back” with Harden this season, sources said. The Rockets have seemed inclined to listen to offers on Harden, sources said, although that’s customary for most teams about most players in the league.nfl nike jerseys cheap china7

If the Rockets did decide to engage in trade talks on Harden, they’ve privately made it clear that they would require a monstrous return of players, draft picks and pick swaps. The Nets have two borderline All-Star guards on the roster — Caris LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie — and several more intriguing young players.

The idea of playing together again came up during Harden and Durant’s offseason workouts together in Los Angeles. Sources said the players talked openly about whether the combination could work and how a trade facilitating it could work.

Durant was selected No. 2 overall in the 2007 NBA draft and became the building block of the Thunder team that advanced to the 2012 NBA Finals. Russell Westbrook and Harden were drafted in subsequent drafts, but as their talents grew, it became impossible for the small-market Thunder to sign all three to maximum contract extensions. Harden was traded to Houston in 2013.

Harden, 31, has been an All-Star in all eight seasons since arriving in Houston, winning MVP in 2017-18 and finishing among the top three in voting four other times in the past six years, and claiming the NBA’s past three scoring titles. He is owed $131.5 million over the three seasons remaining on his maximum contract, including a $46.9 million player option in 2022-23.nfl cheap nike jerseys

The Rockets have been actively searching for trade partners for Westbrook, but that marketplace is proving relatively barren, sources said. Westbrook, 32, has three years and $131.5 million left on his contract — including a $46.7 million player option in 2022-23.

He won the 2016-17 MVP and made his ninth All-Star appearance last season, which ended with Westbrook playing through rust and injury after rushing back from a strained right quadriceps during the first round of the playoffs.

Cleveland Browns activate RB Nick Chubb off injured reserve

The Cleveland Browns activated the Pro Bowl running back off injured reserve Saturday, clearing the way for his return Sunday against the Houston Texans.

Chubb has been out since Week 4 with a knee injury but practiced all week with the team. He has 335 rushing yards and four touchdowns on the season.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Through the first four weeks of the season, when Chubb was healthy, the Browns led the NFL with almost 205 rushing yards per game — 25 yards more than any other offense. They also topped the league with 5.9 yards per rushing attempt.8

Kareem Hunt, considered one of the top backup running backs in the league, stepped into the starting lineup while Chubb was out. But facing tougher defenses without Chubb, the Browns ranked just 24th with 96 rushing yards per outing over their past four games, while averaging only 3.9 yards per carry — 26th in the league.

Quarterback Baker Mayfield said this week that having Chubb and Hunt together is what helps make the Cleveland rushing attack special.nfl cheap jerseys nike

“It’s a huge part of our offense to be able to sub those guys in with fresh legs, and it wears on defenses,” Mayfield said. “Later in the games when they are able to still be somewhat fresh, it is amazing how the grind and the ground game pounds on those guys.”

Seattle Seahawks take on Los Angeles Rams without running backs Chris Carson, Carlos Hyde

The Seattle Seahawks were without running backs Chris Carson and Carlos Hyde for a third straight game when they played the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.

Seattle downgraded Carson (foot) and Hyde (hamstring) to “out” on Saturday after initially listing them as questionable, announcing that news along with several roster moves. The Seahawks activated cornerback Neiko Thorpe off injured reserve, placed defensive tackle Bryan Mone on IR and elevated two players for Sunday’s game: running back Alex Collins and defensive tackle Damon Harrison.

A source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that Carson has an excellent chance to return next week for a home game against the Arizona Cardinals. “Absolutely,” the source said when asked if Carson would return next week.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

The Seahawks’ available running backs against the Rams were rookie DeeJay Dallas, Travis Homer and Collins, plus fullback Nick Bellore. Dallas has started the past two games, but Homer played more snaps last week, 31 to 20, while Collins played 13 snaps in his first game since 2018. Dallas leads Seattle’s running backs over that span with 72 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries.

The Seahawks were without their top two cornerbacks Sunday, with Shaquill Griffin (hamstring) and Quinton Dunbar (knee) ruled out. Tre Flowers filled one starting spot, but it’s not clear who would fill the other. Thorpe, Seattle’s captain on special teams, is one candidate. Others include Linden Stephens, D.J. Reed and Ryan Neal, who previously started at strong safety while Jamal Adams was out.7

The Seahawks are 6-2 despite allowing the most passing yards (2,897) through eight games in NFL history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau data. In fact, no team has ever allowed that many passing yards through nine games.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

Harrison has been waiting to make his Seahawks debut since joining their practice squad on Oct. 7. The holdup initially was that the 350-pound Harrison had to work himself back into football shape. He had been undecided over the offseason about playing in 2020 due to concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, which he said were eased once he saw how the league was handling travel protocols and other safety measures.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has said for the past few weeks that Harrison is physically ready to play. The obstacle, according to Carroll, has been the absence of an opening in Seattle’s defensive tackle rotation, which has consisted of Jarran Reed, Poona Ford and Mone. The ankle injury that landed Mone on IR creates that opening.

“We had a plan when I was coming in,” Harrison said Thursday in his first comments to reporters since joining the Seahawks. “I needed to work myself back into football shape. The only way you can get into football shape is actually playing football, so I was at home working out, trying to do as much as I could without exposing myself in too many public situations. But I spoke to the coach, I spoke to the general manager before I got here, and we knew it was going to be a process. That’s why I’ve been OK with it just working from the ground up.”

The Seahawks weree without starting center Ethan Pocic (concussion) against the Rams. Kyle Fuller was set to make his third career start in Pocic’s absence.

USMNT’s Steffen: I’m growing at Manchester City despite limited play

United States men’s national team goalkeeper Zack Steffen feels he’s already grown on the field with club side Manchester City, even though he’s only been with the first team for a little over two months.

Steffen, 25, signed with Man City back in July of 2019, but spent the 2019-20 season on loan with German side Fortuna Dusseldorf. Steffen was brought in this season primarily to back up Ederson, but he has backstopped the club to two wins in the EFL Cup.

“Their goalie coach is really detailed, and is very eager to make me a better goalkeeper,” Steffen told reporters ahead of Thursday’s friendly against Wales. “And then just working with those guys day in and day out, the training, the level of intensity and skill and talent and everything that goes into it, I feel myself growing.”

In terms of what areas have been sharpened, Steffen pointed to the technical side of his game.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

“It’s just so much more detailed than anything I’ve ever really been a part of, whether that’s hand positioning when you’re just catching the ball, or it’s a set position on a certain shot, or one-v-one.7

“There’s so many little aspects that I obviously knew of and I know the techniques, but I feel like I never really got the reasons why you do that. And so, I feel like I’m learning some new techniques obviously but [also] some reasons of why these techniques are gonna help me in the long run.”

Steffen’s brief spell with City has now allowed him to see manager Pep Guardiola up close. He said while he’s still in the process of getting to know the manager and staff, he’s been impressed with what he’s seen so far.cheap nfl nike jersey

“I feel like [Guardiola] has a good balance of being focused in intense,” Steffen said. “But with that he brings humor, and he brings just his genuineness, and just kindness. So it’s been cool to see how he works, how his coaching staff works.”

Steffen added that he’s also noticed an increase in how players are treated now that he’s in the Premier League.

“The player care is just more prominent,” he said. “They want us to be fully focused on football, and they really help us out and worry about everything else whether that’s cars, whether it’s banking, whether it’s housing, family stuff. Anything at all, they’re one call away, one text away, and they really make us feel comfortable.”

But for the next week, Steffen’s job will be to integrate himself with a U.S. side that hasn’t played a match since February, with many first choice players rejoining the U.S. team for the first time in over year. Steffen’s last appearance for the U.S. came on Oct. 15, 2019 in a 2-0 loss to Canada in the CONCACAF Nations League.

“The vibe so far has been really good,” he said. “Everybody’s excited to be here and everybody’s excited to see each other, meet one another. Training has been short and sharp and quick. It’s obviously tough when there’s so many new guys and we don’t have so many training days. But now we’re excited for the game, we’re excited to get on the field each day and learn from one another and see what everybody’s really made of.”