Dont’a Hightower: We have fun, but it’s not for everyone

Every guy in that locker room, I love like a brother. We have fun, whether it’s out here struggling together — blood, sweat and tears — or we’re back in the locker room or we’re hanging out outside of football. So, there’s a time and place for everything, but we know whenever we walk through the building, it’s time to work.

Hightower added that making the sacrifices necessary to play for the Patriots sucks sometimes, but that looking back at personal and team success leads to a realization that it was actually worth it.

The amount of fun one has with the Patriots will vary from person to person. It’s impossible to argue with the success of the team’s approach when it comes to on-field matters, however, and those that prioritize that side of things above all else are likely to share Hightower’s feeling about life in New England.

Several reporters at Bears practice shared video of Robinson’s first practice work with his new team and Nagy shared his happiness about the step forward after the session.

It’s really good to see him out there. It’s a positive sign when he’s out there to run some plays, Nagy said, via Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune.

Nagy said he does not expect Robinson to do team drills during next week’s mandatory minicamp, but the signs are good for full participation in training camp.

3. Marc-Andre Fleury on Nicklas Lidstrom, 2009. Seconds remained at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit when Fleury scrambled to his right to deny Lidstrom’s drive from the lower left circle to preserve a 2-1 lead and deliver the Cup to the Penguins, who’d trailed 3-2 in the series and stopped the Red Wings’ bid for a repeat.

4. Cam Ward on Fernando Pisani, 2006. The Candy Canes were up 2-1 with 3:45 to play when Ward stretched his left pad to somehow stop Pisani’s rebound from in front after an initial save on Raffi Torres’ drive from the left side. Carolina won the game 3-1 after an empty-netter, and won the Cup.

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Jordan Peterson brought amazing perspective to staff, Pete Carroll says

Carroll said Peterson had an important message for the staff.

He talked about personal growth. He talked about perspective and life and working together and helping each other find our best, things that really rang true to us around here, Carroll said.

Carroll frequently brings guest speakers to address his players and coaches, a practice he began at USC and has continued in Seattle.

Strength and speed are why Hill was able to help out on special teams, but passing accuracy are what he needs to develop if he wants to be a quarterback. Playing behind Brees, Hill has time to develop. And perhaps some day, Hill could even be Brees’ successor.

It’s unclear whether the NFL will use progressive discipline in this situation. Given the way the changes to the anthem policy were handled by the league, it’s fair to wonder whether the league has even considered that angle.

At some point, the league will need to consider whether it wants to engage Johnson and the Jets in a showdown that would unfold in the NFL’s backyard, and that would play out on the front and back pages of every periodical in the nation’s No. 1 media market. Before that happens, the league would be wise to reconsider what seems to be one of the worst non-unanimous unanimous non-vote votes that ownership has ever taken not taken.

In the near-total makeover of the offensive line, the one holdover returning to the same position is Brett Jones, who started 13 games at center last season when Weston Richburg went down and took full advantage of the playing time. The new coaching staff assessed the situation, new general manager Dave Gettleman reviewed the tape and the determination was made the Giants could move forward with Jones as the center, a huge vote of confidence for the former Canadian Football League player. Jones has certainly not been unseated, but it appears as if Halapio, a guard turned center this spring, has a shot to not only make the team as a backup interior offensive lineman but also to push Jones for the coveted spot with the first team.

If so, this will be a friendly battle waged between the pair of 26-year-olds.

The competition brings out the best in him, and me, Halapio said. It’s important we both get these reps and split ’em with the first team because ultimately, we’re trying to compete for that starting role.

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NFL Draft dream trades: Imagining an ideal three-team swap involving Buffalo Bills, Indianapolis Colts, New York Giants

NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah, bucky Brooks and former UCLA head coach Jim Mora imagine a three-team draft trade between the Indianapolis Colts, New York Giants and Buffalo Bills.

In 2014, members of the Raiderettes, the cheer team for the Oakland Raiders, sued the team in a class action lawsuit, claiming the team was committing wage theft. It turns out that the Raiderettes were not being paid for their many hours of practice, and they won $1.25 million. The next year, the state of California passed a law requiring that professional cheerleaders be paid minimum wage and receive benefits. Cheerleaders for the New York Jets also sued their team in 2014, and in 2016 won more than $320,000. The suit claimed that the cheerleaders were being paid less than minimum wage.

The NFL has had flexibility with moving games to and from the Sunday Night Football window as well as between the early and late windows on Sunday afternoons. However, the league has not made a habit of moving games to different days than they were originally scheduled. The NFL saw a full slate of games on Christmas Eve in 2016 and had four games over two weekends on Saturdays last year.

The Chicago Bears faced the Detroit Lions and the Los Angeles Chargers faced the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 15, and the Indianapolis Colts played the Baltimore Ravens and the Minnesota Vikings faced the Green Bay Packers in Week 16. The NFL doesn’t play Saturday games while the college football regular season is ongoing, but a few games are generally scheduled on Saturdays in December.

Kraft said the right things while discussing Mill’s predicament, but it’s odd to see him come to the defense of a rapper he can do little for while refusing to use his status to speak on behalf of someone he can help: Colin Kaepernick. It makes it clear to me we have to do something with criminal justice reform, Kraft said outside the prison. He called Mill, whose real name is Robert Rihmeek Williams, an amazing young man who is very intelligent. It’s just sad, he said. This guy is a great guy. Shouldn’t be here. He’s right, Mill shouldn’t be in prison for what amounts to technical violations of a parole that stretched more than a decade, an uncommonly long time.

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He recovered in time to appear in all 16 games with 11 starts as an NFL rookie.

Kids these days, man.

We used to do 1,500 up-downs! Griffin announces. Nice and hot. When you hit the ground, there’s sweat. A pool of sweat. Now they have that AC blowing there. We liked it nice and hot!

It was different.

I can’t imagine that any of the on-air YES crew would enjoy sitting down to watch a ballgame only to be accosted by a steady roll of stat graphics and discussions of stats, stats and more stats, now including projected distances, launch angles and exit velocities.

As for YES’ capitulation to the foolish fad in posting that computerized strike-zone box over live pitches, placing any artificial element over live play is anathema to sensible television.

That these single-dimension boxes are frequently misleading, often demonstrably wrong and always irrelevant apparently doesn’t dawn on the gimmick-headed shot-callers.

And if a network claims that its survey shows fans love the box, I have several hundred readers who would like to be surveyed. They find it needlessly distracting, annoying, intrusive and insulting.

Sherman, who joined the San Francisco 49ers this offseason after the Seahawks released him coming off of a ruptured Achilles, said that Four years, guys rotate in, rotate out, and so we had kind of heard all his stories, we had kind of heard every story, every funny anecdote that he had. And honestly because he just recycles them. And they’re cool stories, they’re great for team chemistry and building, et cetera, et cetera. But we had literally heard them all. We could recite them before he even started to say them.

Right now it’s unfair to give a timeline as well with him, Licht said. We’re very fortunate that it wasn’t life-threatening for him or the [driver]. We’ll probably hold him he’ll be out of OTAs, and in training camp we’ll have a better idea of how far along he is.

Due to an ACL tear late in LSU’s 2016 season, Beckwith fell to No. 107 in last year’s draft.

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NFL players, reform advocates kick off campaign on social justice

What started when NFL players sparked a national discussion on racism and police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem will continue this week as current and former players meet with lawmakers and community officials in major cities across the Northeast.

The week concludes Friday in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins and former NFL wideout Anquan Boldin, among others, will participate in a Harvard University summit that will include panel discussions on criminal justice reform and related issues plaguing communities.

In January, the NFL finalized plans to partner with players on social justice issues, announcing a Let’s Listen Together initiative that will publicize the players’ work on social and racial equality. Team owners earmarked $89 million over a seven-year period for the project.

A league official told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that team owners will discuss the social justice platform at next week’s annual league meetings in Orlando, Florida. The official also told Schefter that no vote on a policy change as it pertains to the national anthem is anticipated.

In the last quarter-century, nobody has put real football, by real football people, on the field in the offseason, co-founder and CEO Charlie Ebersol said Tuesday at the Park Hyatt in Manhattan, as a group that included Hall of Famer Bill Polian and former players Justin Tuck, Jared Allen and Troy Polamalu unveiled the project that’s been more than a year in the making. The second thing was, we believe by integrating players into the actual building and the foundation of the experience, that we’re going to build something meaningful and long term.

The league will begin announcing the cities, stadiums and coaches of the teams in April, with rosters largely made up of players cut from the NFL. Ebersol said they focused on cities and markets with the highest levels of fan engagement, both professionally and collegiately. There will be no owners, just one single entity.

Polian, the former NFL executive, is the co-founder of the AAF. Polamalu, the former Steelers Pro Bowler, will serve as the head of player relations and USC senior associate athletic director J.K. McKay — also the general manager of the XFL’s only championship team — will be the head of football operations.

For years I’ve been talking, in the football community, about the fact that there’s a real need for this, Polian said. As a member of the NFL competition committee for a very long period of time, we often talked about, ‘What if?’ What if we had a blank canvas and could invent the game today, what would we do?

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Derrius Guice: If you don’t draft me, I’m going to give your defense hell

LSU running back Derrius Guice has a simple message for NFL teams: If you don’t draft me, I’m going to give your defense hell.

Guice rushed for 3,074 yards and 29 touchdowns on 471 career carries. He played through injuries last season, failing to duplicate his 2016 form.

Gettleman last week at the NFL scouting combine said it is difficult to scout college linebackers because there’s all these bastardized linebackers who do funky things. The way to combat that, he said, is to go back to the basics.

What you have to do when it comes back down to with linebackers, Gettleman said, is [ask]: Is he instinctive? Can he run? Is he instinctive, is he athletic, is he smart and is he tough?

In addition to his history with Beckham, Ogletree has another connection to the Giants: He is the brother-in law of Andrew Adams, a Giants safety he is married to Adams’ sister.

Losing Ogletree, a two-time team captain, evidently was not popular among some Rams players. Todd Gurley, the star running back, took to Twitter to post two pouting emoji faces.

As soon as the Dolphins applied the franchise tag to Jarvis Landry, all signs pointed toward a potential trade for the wide receiver. Sure enough, the team has given Landry permission to seek and facilitate a trade, Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports.

Landry’s representatives, though, will have to find a trade partner. He reportedly seeks a four-year, $58 million deal.

The Giants had three of their own offensive linemen on the market: Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg and D.J. Fluker. Richburg on Tuesday agreed to a five-year deal with the 49ers. The Giants will tender Brett Jones, a restricted free agent, and he will return as the favorite to start at center.

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That translates to there being (on average) 36 two-start pitchers available in each of the 25 scoring periods.

Teams are opening this season on Thursday, March 29, an early start which will add four more off days to the schedule. Some weekly leagues keep all weeks separate, while others will end up combining both the truncated opening week and All-Star week with another week to create a single week with double-digit days of baseball action.

Before the schedule change, there were 43. In other words, expect there to be seven fewer options per week this season, rendering it even harder to identify a favorable choice to activate from your reserves or pick up as a free agent.

Except for Ovechkin’s first two seasons (both of which were exactly 70-point seasons for the Washington Capitals), his teams have been good. And remember, Jaromir Jagr played until age 46. Ovechkin, like Jagr, has a giant butt and good genes and, so far, good luck with health.

So what follows are my Ovechkin goal projections and his age (conjunction junction) at the time I wrote them in 2010. Included are comments from 2010 in parentheses and updated comments, along with a running tab on how the projection is going against 894.

After the dust settled this season, the three best players on the Clippers are DeAndre Jordan, Lou Williams and Tobias Harris. Jordan was the third member of their core pieces from last season and the only one who remains in L.A. Williams was the best player they received back from Houston in the Paul trade, while Harris is the best of what they got in the Pistons trade.

Later, I’ll discuss what this actually means as far as the Clippers’ future team-building possibilities, but for now, let’s look at the fantasy output of their three best players, according to the ESPN Fantasy Player Rater:

Dec. 14: With Marcell Ozuna headed to St. Louis, Piscotty moves to a team with more opportunity for him to play every day. He’s a rebound candidate playing closer to home, though he could lose some at-bats against righties on an Oakland team that likes to platoon. Read more from Tristan H. Cockcroft.

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You can see the dramatic difference in offensive rating when Green exits

If the Cavs want to keep up with the Warriors, they need to take advantage when Golden State’s best defensive player is on the bench. Green played less than 25 minutes in Game 2, down more than seven minutes from his regular-season average. But Cleveland couldn’t take advantage.

You can see the dramatic difference in offensive rating when Green exits, but that’s countered by the Cavs becoming much worse defensively. Part of that comes from the Warriors having multiple weapons and Durant becoming a small-ball weapon of mass destruction at center, but Cleveland needs to use these chances to close leads (or maybe take one) with offensive bursts.

As deep as the upcoming draft is, it is heavy on bigs and very light on shooters. No one stands to benefit more from that than another Duke guard, Luke Kennard. Scouts see Kennard projecting favorably as an offensive player, one who shot 49.0 percent as a sophomore, including 43.8 percent from the 3-point line. He showed lights-out touch at his pro day at the beginning of June, and he also has the ability to handle the ball and run pick-and-rolls.

That will likely get him into the lottery. As far back as last month, there was talk of Detroit’s interest in Kennard, given their desperate need to add shooting. The Pistons, picking 12th, are Cheap Jerseys Kids also considering moving that pick. The Hornets, at No. 11, have interest in Kennard as well, and will give him a workout.

Other teams are jumping on the Kennard bandwagon. The Magic, Knicks Cheap Jerseys In US and Mavericks will have Kennard in for workouts, too, though those teams have considered adding (or already have) picks later in the draft and could look at Kennard there. Orlando has No. 6 and 25, the Knicks have No. 8 (but have been active in searching for another pick) and Dallas has No. 9.

To review, MLB umpire reverses call on himself without replay

Umpires have a saying: You’re expected to be perfect on your first day ’ and improve after that.

The primary goal, everyone knows: Get the call right.

Enter veteran MLB ump Hunter Wendelstedt, who on Monday during the Angels-Rays game knew the instant he called L.A. rookie Nolan Fontana safe at second it was the wrong call.

Tampa Bay second baseman Michael Martinez agreed (per the Tampa Bay Times) and immediately signaled the dugout to use a replay challenge.

Sidelined since March 1 with soreness around his throwing elbow as he recovered from a strain, Red Sox left-hander David Price will make his season debut Monday against the White Sox in Chicago.

The 2012 Cy Young Award winner threw 89 pitches in his last start with Triple-A Pawtucket Wednesday, but lasted only 3 2/3 innings and gave up six runs (three earned). Price struggled with his control, although his fastball did ranged between 92-96 mph.

In two rehab starts, he’s allowed nine runs (six earned) on 12 hits in just 5 2/3 innings.

Boston is hoping Price’s return can boost the club into first place in the AL East. Currently 3 1/2 games behind the rival Yankees, the Red Sox (24-21) will keep a close eye on Price in case he suffers another setback.

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Angels relieved after Albert Pujols’ negative MRI results

Lewis could easily wind up with the Padres, if they opt for the local prep star (relatively speaking), but the Rays would be happy to help Lewis find his eventual position home. The Rays are actually in a pretty decent spot; they’ll wind up with one of the top four players without having to make much of a decision.

The Braves aren’t afraid to take prep pitchers early — four of their five first-rounders in the past two seasons have been prep pitchers — and Gore is a lefty with command and a fastball that sits in the low- to mid-90s. Makes a lot of sense.

Both BA’s John Manuel and MLB.com’s Jim Callis note the A’s scouts have been in North Carolina a lot this year, and there’s a lot to like about Bukauskas, what with his developing nasty slider and a mid-90s fastball.

The Angels dodged a bullet with Albert Pujols’ balky hamstring.

Pujols left Wednesday’s game with tightness in his hamstring, which prompted an MRI Friday afternoon. The result came back clean, but Pujols will not rejoin the lineup until at least Saturday, according to the Orange County Register.

Los Angeles kicks off a series against the Mets on Friday while riding a four-game winning streak.

Pujols is slashing a pedestrian .247/.293/.370 so far this season, but he is second in the American League with 32 RBIs.

The Angels, who can not have a designated hitter while playing at Citi Field in New York, will start C.J. Cron at first base Friday.

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