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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.

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.”

Awkward… Is Liverpool’s African brotherhood on the rocks?

There was friction within African football’s most beloved double act this weekend, as Sadio Mane’s frustrations with Mohamed Salah boiled over, although there’s been plenty of success for the continent’s stars in Europe’s major leagues this past week.

Mane’s displeasure with his teammate came within the context of another resounding Liverpool victory, with the Senegal forward netting the Reds’ second in a 3-0 win at Burnley.

Mane played a key role in another fine Reds performance, as they maintained their 100 percent start to the new campaign and secured a club-record 13th successive league win in the process.

The 27-year-old’s second goal of the season came via a Roberto Firmino assist, as the Brazilian exposed space in the Burnley half, dribbled to the edge of the box and played in Mane, who snapped his shot beyond Nick Pope.nfl nike jersey cheap

Earlier, the attacker had played in Salah for a fine chance, only for the Egyptian to strike the woodwork, although the latter didn’t return the favour late on when he opted to go for goal himself, rather than tee up Mane.

The West African reacted emotively after being replaced, gesticulating furiously to teammates and not hiding his anguish at perceived selfish play on the part of Salah.5

In another context, this act would be perceived as a gross display of dissent, but in this Liverpool machine, it’s being read as a testament to the side’s hunger and single-mindedness under Jurgen Klopp.

Certainly, the coach opted to play down Mane’s frustrations post-match.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

“I could describe five or six situations where everyone thought, ‘pass it, pass it, pass it’,” Klopp told journalists, as per the Metro. “That is the freedom of the player.

“The boys have to make these decisions: pass the ball, don’t pass the ball,” he added. “We can make this mistakes. You can lose the ball and mis-kick the ball, or sometimes you cannot see your teammate.

“It is not that you ignore him. Sometimes to us it looks like you must see him but you don’t. It’s not a big challenge, but of course with a striker always you can have this.

“What you do depends on the situation,” the German coach concluded. “We will leave it 100 percent because we won 3-0, and everyone goes away in different directions. In one week, I don’t think I will talk about it again.”

Credit must also go to Joel Matip, one of the unsung heroes of this Liverpool side, who cleared an Ashley Barnes effort off the line with the scores level, ensuring the contest didn’t turn against the visitors.

Also in the Premier League, Alex Iwobi scored his second goal in a week for Everton as they defeated Wolverhampton Wanderers 3-2, with new Ivory Coast call-up Willy Boly seeing red in stoppage time.

Andrew Bogut revels in victory over Team USA

Those four simple words were Andrew Bogut’s typically wry reaction after Australia’s history-making win against Team USA in the second of their two-game exhibition series at Marvel Stadium.

Speaking minutes after the Boomers’ 98-94 victory in front of a 52,079 capacity crowd, Bogut said the performance was one of the highlights of his illustrious career. The Boomers big man also signalled that the victory was a huge moment for the psyche of Australian men’s basketball, with the team — world basketball’s longtime bridesmaids — now firmly believing they can beat anyone they lock horns with.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

“[That was] huge for us,” he said. “It’s a friendly, so we want to keep that in context, but we did create history tonight — the first senior Australian men’s team to beat an American team. I was fortunate enough to do it in juniors so I told the boys, ‘welcome to the club.'”

The 34-year-old said Australia’s growing presence in the NBA was starting to pay dividends on the national stage, admitting some players were previously “starstruck” against the best players in the world. He added Saturday’s win over Team USA would be a turning point among the group.5

“We feel like we can beat anyone in the world … this [is] the first time I’ve felt that with the Boomers. In the past, we’d be going to an Olympics or Worlds and not so much making up the numbers but [thinking], ‘We’ll give it a fair shot and what happens, happens.’

“We were competitive in the past but it wasn’t like we were [thinking], ‘We’re trying to win a gold medal and beat anyone we come across’ and I think this group genuinely has that belief. And I think a lot of that comes from having guys in this squad who are playing with those Team USA guys on a nightly basis [in the NBA] and not just warming the bench, but playing against them. In the past we have had guys who were a little starstruck about playing against [the big names], but that’s not the right mindset.”

Boomers teammate Chris Goulding, who starred in Game 1 before a quieter outing on Saturday, was pinching himself after the win. But he was also trying to retain perspective with the World Cup only a week away.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

“It was a great day for Australian basketball,” he said. “We feel like we’re starting to play to our potential, but I think we can play even better, which is so exciting.

“We wanted to enjoy it and make sure the crowd enjoyed it but we have bigger goals — to keep it [the excitement] under wraps and use it as a stepping-stone and hopefully be better again … and if we have to play [Team USA] again, we’ll be ready.”

The two-game exhibition series didn’t come without its controversies, with stars withdrawing from both squads, and ticketing and seating issues at the venue, but Bogut and star teammate Patty Mills — the matchwinner for the Boomers in Game 2 — were both thrilled at the growth of basketball in Australia.

“We just had 52,000 people twice come to a football stadium for a game of basketball — if someone would have told me that five or six years ago, it just wouldn’t happen,” the Melbourne-born veteran said. “On top of that, we won, so I’ve never seen basketball at this height in this country. I couldn’t be prouder to be an Australian basketballer right now. To win a game against the USA in my home city is something I never would have thought was realistic as a kid … to beat them is a whole other ballgame.

Man Utd hammer Chelsea with Rashford double

Marcus Rashford scored two goals with Anthony Martial and Daniel James also on the scoresheet to earn Manchester United an emphatic 4-0 victory over Chelsea in their opening match of the Premier League.

United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer handed debuts to new boys Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire with James left on the bench while his opposite number Frank Lampard opted to start without United States international Christian Pulisic, but did name youngster Mason Mount in his line up.nfl cheap jerseys nike

The visitors were the better team in the early exchanges and will argue the opening goal came against the run of play.

Referee Anthony Taylor played advantage following a foul by Jorginho and in the next phase of play Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma was adjudged to have fouled Rashford in the box. Following a short consultation with the video assistant referee, Taylor pointed to the spot and Rashford made no mistake.7

The goal galvanised United who improved after taking the lead, but it was Chelsea who came closest to scoring when left-back Emerson Palmieri rattled David De Gea’s crossbar.

Lampard introduced Pulisic for his Premier League debut on 58 minutes and he showed some bright touches, winning a free kick with his first involvement.

However, as they pushed forward in search of an equaliser, Chelsea were caught on the counter-attack and were 2-0 down on 65 minutes.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Maguire won the ball on the edge of the United box before playing in Rashford. The England forward passed it to Jesse Lingard. He teed up Andreas Pereira, who swung in a tantalising cross, which was finished off by Martial.

And just two minutes later, it was 3-0 when Pogba won the ball in midfield and played in Rashford, who beat the offside trap to slot the ball past goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Solskjaer introduced James, who got in on the act with a debut goal on 82 minutes to make it 4-0 when played in by Pogba after another United counter.

The result represents a dream start to the campaign for Solskjaer but, for Lampard, there will have been some serious concerns as to how much his side struggled to deal with United’s counter-attacks.

Ben Simmons will probably beat you one-on-one — in video games

When asked about his love of video games, Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons pulls out his phone and flips through a gallery of photos. After a bit of perusing, he stops on the picture he was attempting to find, an older, sepia-tone one contrasting with his state-of-the-art smartphone.cheap nike nfl jerseys china

In the snapshot, an adolescent Simmons lounges in an Australian living room, playing video games on a lazy day, with close friend and fellow future NBA player Dante Exum sitting beside him.

my whole life,” Simmons says. “The first game I really got into was Resistance for Playstation. That was the shooter I played. And then from there I started playing Call of Duty, picked all those up and eventually got into PC gaming a little later [with Counter-Strike], PUBG, a little bit of Fortnite — not too much Fortnite, because I’m not into building stuff. It’s too much.”

With a new generation of stars like Simmons entering the NBA, video gaming culture has permeated the league alongside these stars. What once would have seemed uncool to bring up in the locker room has become standard talk between teammates and friends, with arguments sometimes settled through video games. Nowadays, players throughout the NBA stay connected by gaming together online and even creating leagues in games such as Madden and NBA 2K where they can compete regularly against each other.

While some players lug their consoles onto planes or set them up as a fixture in the clubhouse, Simmons primarily plays on a PC, a convert from his younger days of playing on the Playstation and Xbox.6

“I used to be console [player], but PC is much easier,” Simmons says. “Every game is right there, you can log on and everything is much easier.”

Growing up in Australia, Simmons was just like any other kid fascinated with games, consuming Call of Duty content from the top players and entertainers on YouTube, such as Optic’s Hector “H3CZ” Rodriguez. Since moving to America and reaching the NBA, he has gotten to know and grown close to H3CZ and Thomas “Temperrr” Oliveira, the co-founder of FaZe Clan.

Simmons’ game of choice nowadays is PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, which is why he is spending some time in Los Angeles this offseason while competing in PUBG Mobile’s Team Up Superstar Showdown. Although this version of PUBG is played on a mobile device, Simmons has had few problems adjusting, defeating every other NBA player he has faced and capping the event off by defeating a team captained by Eastern Conference rival and reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

Before leaving the venue, Simmons even razzes the MVP as Antetokounmpo is conducting an interview, reminding him that while the Milwaukee Bucks star might have gotten the edge against the 76ers on the court this year, he got the last laugh … at least, in the world of video games.

Simmons doesn’t just talk trash with NBA rivals, but with his own teammates too. In the hierarchy of gamers in the 76ers locker room, Simmons notes that there is only one other teammate who can keep up with him in terms of gameplay and trash talk — Joel Embiid.

“If you put me on PC, I’ll destroy him,” Simmons says. “He plays FIFA. I can beat him in FIFA. Here’s the thing: I don’t play FIFA, but I’ve beaten him in a game of FIFA. I can play any game.”

Undrafted Elijah Holyfield has a fighter’s chance to make Panthers

Carolina Panthers running back Elijah Holyfield was 14 when he stepped into the boxing ring against a highly ranked 16-year-old. It was a chance to make a name for himself in a world where his father achieved greatness, maybe even carve a path to his own career in the sport.

Evander Holyfield, a four-time heavyweight champion and the only boxer to hold undisputed titles in two weight classes, was confident that his son was up to the challenge.

“I remember saying, ‘He can handle that guy. Just don’t tell his momma, because I know she’s going to think about all the fight this guy has,'” the elder Holyfield recalled last week during quarterback Cam Newton’s celebrity kickball tournament, which was held while Elijah participated in a Panthers rookie minicamp.

“He was rugged and hit real hard.”cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale8

Elijah hit real hard, too. He was holding his own in the match, but unlike his father he had a habit of holding his head up and exposing his face to punches instead of his forehead. That led to a nosebleed and a disqualification.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Elijah never stepped back into the ring competitively.

“I was, ‘I don’t want to get hit that much,'” Elijah recalled. “So I just kept with football, and it’s worked out for me.”

Whether Elijah becomes the real deal in the NFL the way his father was in boxing remains to be seen. The Panthers signed him as an undrafted free agent out of Georgia after a slow 40-yard-dash time of 4.78 seconds at the NFL combine hurt his draft stock.

His undrafted status means he has a lot to prove in the hotly contested battle to back up Christian McCaffrey, who last season fell just shy of becoming the third back in NFL history to have 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in the same season.

Among Holyfield’s competition is fifth-round pick Jordan Scarlett out of Florida and 2015 fifth-round pick Cameron Artis-Payne, along with Elijah Hood and Reggie Bonnafon.

Again, Evander believes his son is up to the challenge.

“It’s kind of disappointing he wasn’t drafted,” he said. “The fact of the matter is, it’s part of life. If you’re fast enough and score touchdowns, what difference does it make [what your 40 time was]? If it just had to do with how fast you are then they would have all the track stars go in the NFL.”

Catch-22: Reds scramble to fill spot after injuries

The Reds are down to their fourth and fifth catchers after placing two more on the injured list Thursday.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Curt Casali went on the 10-day injured list with a right knee sprain that manager David Bell said could keep him out for as long as a month. Casali is expected to spend two weeks wearing a brace.6

Kyle Farmer was placed on the seven-day concussion list after taking two foul balls off his mask in the ninth inning of Tuesday’s game against the Cubs in Chicago.

Gold Glove catcher Tucker Barnhart has been out since June 28 with a right oblique strain.nfl nike jerseys for cheap

Juan Graterol was promoted from Triple-A Louisville and rushed to Chicago to start Wednesday’s day game. The Reds shored up the position on Thursday by signing Ryan Lavarnway, one day after he was released by Yankees.

Jadeveon Clowney playing on franchise tag is wrong step for Texans brass

the Houston Texans had two of the top pass-rushers in the NFL in J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney. By not reaching a long-term extension by the franchise tag deadline on Monday, the Texans risk losing Clowney — the first overall pick in the 2014 draft — at the end of the season instead of building around the core talent they have right now.

The Texans placed the non-exclusive franchise tag, which is worth $15.967 million for the 2019 season, on Clowney in March and the outside linebacker/defensive end did not attend any of the Texans’ spring workouts, including the mandatory veterans minicamp.

While the Texans could of course still sign Clowney to a new contract after the 2019 season — or tag him for the second year in a row — they likely wouldn’t match what the pass-rusher would get on the open market.cheap nike nfl jerseys free shipping5

The Raiders learned last season that you can’t let a player of that caliber go when they traded outside linebacker Khalil Mack to the Bears for two first-round picks. Mack gave a huge boost to the Bears defense (12.5 sacks, 18 QB hits), while Oakland coach Jon Gruden said later in the season that his team was in need of a pass-rusher.

There are few teams that have a pair of defensive linemen like the Texans do with Watt and Clowney. Last season, Houston ranked 12th in total defense but third against the run. The 3.4 rushing yards allowed per attempt was an NFL low due to the performances of Watt and Clowney.nfl nike jerseys for cheap

Last season, Clowney was named to his third straight Pro Bowl, and finished the regular season with 47 tackles, nine sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. According to NFL NextGen, the Texans’ defender had a Pass-Block Win Rate of 35% — second-best among qualifying defensive ends/linebackers. He also had 16 tackles for loss, which tied for ninth in the NFL last season, and now has 53 tackles for loss over the past three seasons, third in the league.

According to Pro Football Focus, Clowney had the best season of his career “by far” in 2018. His overall grade of 89.5 was tied for seventh best among edge defenders. He had 28 run stops on 283 run-defense snaps, the 10th-best run-stop percentage at his position.

While Clowney is not expected to report to training camp on July 24 with the rest of his teammates because he did not get a new contract, it’s unlikely his holdout will continue into the regular season, where he would miss out on game checks worth more than $1 million per game.

Cards place Molina on IL amid series of moves

The Cardinals placed catcher Yadier Molina on the injured list with a strained right thumb and activated infielder Matt Carpenter as part of a series of roster moves Thursday.

The Cardinals expect Molina back in action “within a three-week range,” manager Mike Shildt said Thursday.cheap nike nfl jerseys free shipping

His move to the IL was retroactive to Monday. The nine-time All-Star, who missed 12 games in May and June with a similar injury, pinch hit on Saturday but hasn’t started a game since July 3.7

St. Louis will recall catcher Andrew Knizner from Triple-A Memphis before Friday’s game against Arizona to fill in for Molina. Knizner made his big league debut June 2, going 0-for-7 for St. Louis.

The Cardinals also brought up left-hander Chasen Shreve from Memphis, optioned left-hander Tyler Webb and outfielder Rangel Ravelo to Memphis, and transferred pitcher Jordan Hicks to the 60-day IL ahead of their series against Arizona beginning Friday night.

Carpenter has been sidelined since June 29 with a lower back strain.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

Shreve appeared in 20 games for the Cardinals last season, and is 2-1 with a 3.80 ERA in 37 games for Memphis this season.