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Broncos have focused free agency and the draft on fixing the offense

The Denver Broncos have wandered the we-didn’t-make-the-playoffs wilderness for three seasons now, and it has turned one of the league’s throw-deep executives into a one-day-at-a-time guy.

“I’m really at the point that we’re going to take this thing one day at a time,” Broncos president of football operations/general manager John Elway said. “Obviously, it’s been disappointing the last couple years, and I’m excited about the new staff and the new players we do have, but it’s one step at a time. I’m just kind of — I don’t want to get too far ahead, but I’m excited with the guys that we have. But again, as I said, this thing is one step at a time, so we’ll keep it that way.”

That’s a long way from his “there’s no Plan B” statement after he signed Peyton Manning, but that’s what 5-11 and 6-10 the past two seasons will do to you.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

Elway’s solution to the losing? Fix the offense this offseason. While he has said that the team needed more “continuity” in its offense to be better, the Broncos also simply faced a talent deficit. For the first time in his tenure, Elway has combined the most money spent in free agency with the team’s premium draft picks on offense.4

They traded for quarterback Joe Flacco, made Ja’Wuan James the highest-paid right tackle in the league and used the first three picks of their draft on offense, taking tight end Noah Fant, guard/center Dalton Risner and quarterback Drew Lock.

Fant and Risner figure to be starters by September. Elway has promised patience with Lock, but he called him the Broncos’ “quarterback of the future” after the team traded up in the second round to select him.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

“I think that, first of all, we improved in the offseason with the addition of Joe Flacco and bringing him in, and Ja’Wuan James at the right tackle,” Elway said after the draft. “… Then going with Noah and Dalton with the first two picks, we feel like they can come in and help us also. … Obviously, Noah can stretch the field. Joe’s going to — to me, we still believe he has tremendous upside in his career — so we feel a lot better about that. … We feel much better sitting here now today than we did coming out of last season with where we are and the additions that we’ve made.”

Elway added coach Vic Fangio’s staff to those changes, including offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello and offensive line coach Mike Munchak. The Broncos have hitched their hopes to an updated version of the West Coast offense that Scangarello brings with him after being on Kyle Shanahan’s staff in San Francisco and to Flacco having some miles left on his career odometer.

But the Broncos have approached the past few months with a focus on a talent upgrade on offense. In three consecutive playoff misses, they haven’t finished higher than 22nd in points scored or higher than 17th in yards per game, and they finished 28th and 31st on third down the past two seasons.

Griffin has knee surgery, will be ready for camp

Detroit Pistons star forward Blake Griffin has undergone arthroscopic surgery on his left knee.

The Pistons said the procedure Wednesday was successful and addressed the issue that caused soreness in the knee across the last two weeks of the regular season and the postseason. They said Griffin is expected to be fully recovered before the start of training camp in September.cheap nfl jerseys china nike6

The 30-year-old forward mostly avoided injury this season, playing in 72 games, but he missed four of the final six regular-season games and the first two of the Pistons’ first-round playoff series against the Milwaukee Bucks because of the troublesome left knee injury.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

He averaged a career-high 24.5 points per game, along with 7.5 rebounds and 5.4 assists. He also made a career-high 189 3-pointers, shooting 36 percent from beyond the arc. This is the most games he has played since he appeared in 80 in 2013-14 with the Los Angeles Clippers.

Russell ‘definitely’ wants to return to Nets

All Star guard D’Angelo Russell “definitely” hopes to return to the Brooklyn Nets next season but knows that, as a restricted free agent, much of what happens in the offseason will be beyond his control.

“I definitely want to be here. But I also know it’s a business, too. So I’m not going to play that role like I don’t know what could possibly happen,” Russell said Wednesday after the team conducted its exit interviews. “Say somebody comes here that I have to be a part of (a transaction to acquire them), I know that could be a possibility. So I just want to stay in this moment and not speak too soon about anything.“cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Russell helped lead the Nets to 42 wins and a playoff berth this season. The 23-year-old averaged 21.1 points and seven assists in 80 regular-season games and earned his first All-Star appearance.

Teammates and Nets coach Kenny Atkinson lauded Russell for his leadership, improved conditioning and professional approach to the game. Russell was asked on Wednesday whether the Nets would have an advantage over other teams this summer due to his success and development in Brooklyn.5

“Yeah, for sure, for sure. I don’t know any other teams, I don’t know any other GMs or coaches. I don’t know any of those people. I know where I’m at. So it definitely gives you that advantage,” said Russell, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft.

The Nets will have the right to match any offer made to Russell this summer. But it could be challenging for the club to create the cap space to sign a max free agent while keeping its rights to Russell, who shot 36 percent from the floor in Brooklyn’s five-game first-round series loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.

So Nets GM Sean Marks may be faced with a difficult decision regarding Russell, who was acquired in a 2017 trade with the Los Angeles Lakers.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Russell’s teammates who spoke to the media on Wednesday all said they’d like him to return.

“We’ve obviously built a great chemistry together playing together the last couple of years, and I feel like it’s only going to get better growing in the future,” Caris LeVert said. “Whatever they decide to do, I’ll obviously support it, but I’d love to play with D’Angelo.”

In general, Nets players said that the franchise should be considered a free-agent destination this summer following their 14-win improvement from a season ago.

“The story before this was that the Nets were the worst team in the NBA. Even when we weren’t the worst team, we still were in the eyes of the public,” center Jarrett Allen said. “So just coming in here and showing we made the playoffs and we’ve got a lot of young talent, we made it a more attractive destination.”

‘The Lion King’ and Disney-loving T.J. Hockenson made for Lions

It wasn’t a subliminal message or a hoped-out, thought-out plan when T.J. Hockenson was packing for Nashville earlier this week to attend the NFL draft. He looked in his pile of socks and, the Disney aficionado that he is, made a quick decision.

He didn’t know then how prescient it would end up being. Hockenson wore “The Lion King” socks last night during the first round of the NFL draft. When the No. 8 pick came along, the Detroit Lions selected the tight end, making the wearer of the socks an actual Detroit Lion.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Not that wearing the socks of his favorite movie was even planned. Before an event where suits were custom-tailored and fashion choices were analyzed greatly, Hockenson thought “these socks are pretty sweet” and decided he would wear them.6

It was just the latest sign that perhaps Detroit was his destination. The signs went deeper, too. He said in Little League baseball, he played for the Tigers — Old English D on his cap and everything. Playing NHL video games as a kid, he usually used the Red Wings (and with good reason — the Wings were often one of the better teams in the game). Now, if he plays Madden with the Lions, he’ll be able to use himself on a different Detroit team as a dual-threat tight end the franchise drafted to improve the blocking and receiving at the position while giving Matthew Stafford a strong option.

Matt Patricia said they had his draft card ready to go immediately when Hockenson was still there at No. 8 — a strong signal he was high on their draft board, even with Ed Oliver as another option. Patricia praised Hockenson’s “fit” in the organization and said it was “a perfect match.”cheap nfl nike jerseys china

“The sock choice was completely by coincidence,” Hockenson said. “‘The Lion King’ has been my favorite movie ever since I was little and (I like) Disney, so I was like, ‘Let’s do it.’ It’s awesome.

“There’s a lot of signs that came to this, with the dropping of the puck and then the socks, and all I have is blue, so I was meant to be here and I’m excited to start.”

He has a bunch of different Disney pairs and he’s a fan of all the movies and cartoons. His dog’s name? Lilo, from “Lilo & Stitch,” of which he also has a pair of socks for the movie. He’s been to Disney “a few times,” and called it “the best place on Earth.” Favorite ride? Space Mountain, which he calls “a classic.”

Jerry Jones knows Cowboys can’t take a second-round risk in 2019 NFL draft

Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones loves winning the deal. And over the years, Jones has viewed the second round of the NFL draft as the best chance to win a deal.

Jones can point to second-round gambles — just with the players currently on the Cowboys’ roster — that have paid off perhaps more than most thought despite some issues that remain.

In 2010, the Cowboys had linebacker Sean Lee rated as a first-round pick on their draft board. They knew he had a partially torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee that might fully tear and require surgery. With the No. 55 overall pick, the Cowboys drafted Lee, who missed his third season at Penn State with a torn ACL in his right knee. While he battled through injuries throughout his career, the left ACL did not tear until 2014.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

In 2015, the Cowboys viewed Randy Gregory as one of the best pass-rushers available in the draft. Off-field issues and a failed drug test at the NFL scouting combine kept Gregory from being selected in the first round, but the Cowboys took a chance on the defensive end with the No. 60 overall pick.5

In 2016, outside linebacker Jaylon Smith was off a number of teams’ draft boards because of a serious knee injury he suffered in the Fiesta Bowl while playing for Notre Dame. There was a risk of permanent nerve damage that could have ended Smith’s career before it even began. But one of the Cowboys’ team physicians, Dr. Daniel Cooper, performed Smith’s surgery and was confident Smith could return at his top level some day. With the No. 34 overall pick, the Cowboys chose Smith, knowing he would not play his rookie season.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Smith finished second on the Cowboys in tackles in 2018, played in 32 straight regular-season games and has the potential to be a yearly Pro Bowl pick. When healthy, Lee has been one of the Cowboys’ best defenders since the Cowboys picked him. He made the Pro Bowl in 2015 and ’16. Gregory’s issues remain and he is suspended indefinitely, but he showed he still has a chance to deliver on his pass-rush promise with six sacks last season.

If there was one commonality between those three drafts (2010, 2015 and 2016), it’s that the Cowboys had a first-round pick in each of those years, taking Dez Bryant before Lee, Byron Jones before Gregory and Ezekiel Elliott before Smith.

The Cowboys did not make a pick in Thursday’s first round because of their trade for Amari Cooper last October with the Oakland Raiders.

“I think you’re operating without a net a little bit,” Jones said when asked about making a risky second-round selection in 2019. “By not being able to have [drafted in the] first round someone you hope gives you a contribution in the first year, if you start going into the second pick with a real question mark as to this coming year’s contribution, I think logic would dictate for me slowing down a little bit there.”

Yanks’ Frazier to IL; Stanton’s recovery hits snag

On the day the New York Yankees finally got back one reinforcement from their 13-man injured list, manager Aaron Boone disclosed some less promising news about two other banged-up stars.

According to Boone, outfielder Clint Frazier will go on the injured list on Thursday, thanks to a left ankle injury that popped up this week and has been more temperamental than previously believed.

An MRI revealed “enough in there” to shut Frazier down, Boone said.

“Some partial tear and stuff that it’s going to cost him the 10 days,” Boone said, adding that he didn’t know at the time the exact nature of what was partially torn. “The good news is we feel like [the IL stint] will be short. [Doctors] feel like it’s 10-14-day thing. Maybe a little less. So we don’t feel like it’s a long thing.”

Several hours before announcing the update on Frazier, Boone revealed that fellow outfielder and designated hitter Giancarlo Stanton’s recovery from an arm injury has hit a snag. Although the left biceps strain that landed Stanton on the IL on April 1 has completely healed, Boone said Wednesday that a separate, “residual” left shoulder problem has appeared.

Boone didn’t specify the nature of the injury but said Stanton in recent days has been dealing with “stuff” in his left shoulder.

“He’s just kind of had it,” Boone said.china nike nfl jerseys cheap6

Once, early in the 2013 season while he was with the Marlins, Stanton was scratched from a game because of a sore left shoulder. He was listed as day-to-day with the injury over the next six days before returning to the lineup. He hasn’t been formally diagnosed with any other shoulder ailments during his big league career.

Upon arriving in Anaheim with the rest of the club earlier this week, Stanton had a cortisone shot, Boone said.

“He’s in day two or three of not swinging,” Boone said.

The Yankees will let the effects of the shot settle into Stanton a little longer before he’s able to pick up a bat. The plan is to leave the superstar in Southern California this weekend while the rest of the team travels to Northern California for its scheduled three-game series at San Francisco.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

A native of suburban Los Angeles, Stanton has rehabbed from other injuries in Southern California in the past, and the Yankees will be allowing him to do that for the next several days. When the Bronx Bombers conclude their three-city road trip with a visit to Phoenix to face the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday, Stanton will join them.

After learning from Duncan, Jokic a triple-double threat vs. Spurs

Three years later, Jokic is using the type of versatility that would have made Duncan proud. As the Nuggets and Spurs head into the pivotal Game 5 on Tuesday tied at two games apiece, Jokic is averaging nearly a triple-double, with 20.5 points, 11.8 rebounds and 9.3 assists in his first playoff series.

Jokic patiently handled double-teams Gregg Popovich sent at him as soon as he put the ball on the floor in Game 1. He became only the fourth player to record a triple-double in his first playoff game, with 10 points, 14 rebounds and 14 assists.

In Game 4, he attacked single coverage and aggressively looked for his shot, finishing with 29 points.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Jokic’s success is thanks in large part to his deft footwork. Perhaps it’s no surprise that Duncan was Jokic’s favorite big man to watch when it came to footwork in the post.5
After shooting 51.1 percent from the field during the regular season, the 24-year-old Jokic is shooting 48.3 percent from the field in this series and 37.5 percent from 3-point range. He leads all players in the series with 37 assists.

“We talk about Nikola as an afterthought sometimes because [as] a great player you expect that from him, and it is always about the other guys,” Denver coach Michael Malone said. “But when you look at Nikola’s averaging a damn near triple-double in the playoffs. … For as young as he is, first time going through it, it really is remarkable.”

Malone said Jokic’s biggest leap has been on the defensive end, where he has taken on the challenge of guarding LaMarcus Aldridge, who is averaging 20.3 points and 9.0 rebounds — numbers slightly under his regular-season averages of 21.3 points and 9.2 rebounds.

Surely, Popovich will have some kind of wrinkle for the Nuggets and Jokic in Game 5.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

“The chess match, he’s Bobby Fischer,” Malone said of Popovich. “He’s a savant.”

Three years after Jokic got a personal lesson on post play from Duncan, Popovich now has to find a way to slow down Jokic in order to advance in the postseason.

“Nobody is going to stop Nikola,” Popovich said after Game 3. “He’s such a great passer, you got to pick your poison. If you start doubling him every place, they are going to knock down those 3s and they’re great at it. So you just have to make some decisions in that regard and be kind of picky if you are going to go double.”

Leonard Williams faces uncertain future as Jets mull defensive-line pick

The last time the Jets had a high-profile defensive lineman entering the final year of his contract (Sheldon Richardson, 2017), they traded him. The time before that (Muhammad Wilkerson, 2015), they drafted another defensive lineman in the first round (Leonard Williams), sending a message to Wilkerson.

Now, four years later, Williams finds himself in the Wilkerson position, preparing for the last year of his contract and wondering about his long-term future. The questions will intensify if the Jets select a defensive lineman with the No. 3 overall pick in the NFL draft, perhaps Nick Bosa, Quinnen Williams or Ed Oliver.cheap nike nfl jerseys free shipping

Round and round, we go. The Jets have a way of repeating history.5

Unlike 2015, when Wilkerson, 24, was the subject of pre-draft trade speculation, it’s all eerily quiet on the Williams front. The Jets are intent to ride it out with him, waiting to see if he can deliver a blockbuster season that would warrant a massive, long-term extension (or, failing that, a franchise tag). It could backfire, of course, if he doesn’t rise to that level. In that case, they could lose him next year for nothing.

Unlike Wilkerson, who skipped voluntary workouts because he was unhappy with his contract, Williams is participating in the offseason program. What does that mean? Not a whole lot. In the end, it’s all about production. Wilkerson moped for months, but he enjoyed a career year and landed a five-year, $86 million deal (a bad investment, as it turned out). If Williams plays lights out, he’ll get paid, too.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

Everything is aligned for Williams to have that kind of season. He’s all-in, which is what you’d expect from a player in a contract year. (By the way, he’s making a handsome wage in 2019 at $14.2 million.) Before team workouts in New Jersey, he trained at the Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, California. Instead of a normal routine, he changed up his workouts, sprinting up beach dunes and taking jujitsu classes to improve his body control and balance. He also believes he will thrive under fiery new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.

“One of my favorite coaches of all-time was Coach [Ed] Orgeron, and he was an intense coach,” Williams said of the current LSU head coach, his position coach at Southern California. “I feel like that type of energy brings the best out of people.”

Still, Williams is only human. If the Jets invest a $30 million-plus guarantee in a hot-shot rookie, he’ll have to be thinking about what it means for his future.

Durant, Green double-technical rescinded

The NBA has rescinded technical fouls called against the Warriors’ Kevin Durant and the Clippers’ JaMychal Green during Thursday’s Game 3, the league announced Friday.

Both players appeared surprised by the third-quarter call, since they were just exchanging a few words when the double-technical was given.cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

Durant said after the game that he hoped the technical would get rescinded.8

“Me and JaMychal Green, we were conversing about the play that happened before, just like you and I,” Durant said. “Somebody came out of nowhere and tech’d us both. How would you feel? That was pretty quick. Hopefully they rescind that one because I don’t want somebody to think somebody is in my head, that’s why I got that tech. I just want to get that out of the way because I don’t want to jeopardize my team in the future.”nfl nike jerseys cheap china

With the technical rescinded, Durant is now five away from an automatic one-game suspension.

Learning languages, talking race and soccer: U.S. U20 captain Mark McKenzie opens up over dinner

It has been a busy day in the McKenzie household; that’s only natural when there are inhabitants ages 20 and younger. One of them, Mark, just so happens to be a second-year center-back with the Philadelphia Union and one of the rising stars within U.S. Soccer. But it’s another McKenzie who has the more pressing matter. Younger sister Madison has prom coming up and a decision needs to be made.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

“Sorry I’m late,” says Mark, who slides into a booth at a Buffalo Wild Wings, just miles away from the McKenzie home. “I had to help my sister pick out her prom dress. It’s a big deal, you know?”

“The last year has been great. There were a lot of ups and downs but it’s been a learning experience,” McKenzie says. “I just wanted to put my head down and do my work, and ultimately, I feel like my play would do the talking and it did. It’s been a whirlwind to keep it all together, but I’m extremely humbled and thankful for what happened last year.”6

On this night, however, McKenzie is like any U.S. fan experiencing the emotions that comes with watching the national team, this one a late March friendly against Chile. There is praise for Michael Bradley (“Dude, I picked his brain so much during camp”) and Gyasi Zardes (“That first touch bro, how ’bout that?”). But there is also angst when Chile equalizes. (“Argh! Can’t let that happen.”)

One of the biggest takeaway from watching the Chile game with this budding U.S. star is that McKenzie is a true student and lover of the game. He’ll sit there and patiently wait for your reasons as to why Lionel Messi is better than Cristiano Ronaldo while munching on his sandwich, and then counter it with his own in support of the Portuguese superstar.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

He’ll also wade into waters that divide much of American soccer. Promotion and relegation? “We need it. We need that incentive so we don’t get complacent.” That night in Trinidad in October 2017? “It was a sad night. So much buildup for a big game and to see it crumble hurt me personally, because I’m part of it in a way.”

McKenzie has a passion for other sports, too. His occasional glances at the other televisions in the restaurant reveal as much. The NBA is a favorite, and while he enjoys watching the games, it’s the off-court stuff that really gets McKenzie’s attention. “NBA Twitter, man. It’s so petty! I love it,” he says with a laugh.