John Ross: It’s all growth and progression from here

Bengals wide receiver John Ross‘ rookie season got off to a bad start when he fumbled on his first NFL touch and it didn’t get much better from there.

Ross missed time in the offseason as he recovered from shoulder surgery, hurt his knee once he did get on the field in August and then went on injured reserve after playing 17 snaps in three games due to another shoulder injury. That led to criticism from inside and outside the organization.

The voices inside the Bengals have been more positive this offseason and Ross said he’s taken last year’s struggles, which he says went beyond injuries, to heart.

“You can’t just look at the tax revenue,” he said. “You have to also look at the residual of more people coming to New Jersey (to place bets).”

Christie’s comments came after the state stumbled out of the gate when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of New Jersey-led lawsuit that paved the way for expanded sports betting nationwide.

After the ruling, Monmouth Park announced it would be ready by May 28. But then the state’s top lawmaker, state Senate President Stephen Sweeney, told the racetrack to stand down.

Kaepernick was also seen at Denver International Airport, according to Denver7.

The Broncos had interest in Kaepernick as Elway tried to work out a trade in the offseason leading up to the 2016 season, however, the two couldn’t reach an agreement. Kaepernick turned down the deal because he wouldn’t accept a pay cut. Elway went on to take Paxton Lynch in the first round of the 2016 draft.

Kaepernick’s collusion case claims that he has been unable to find a job with the NFL and has been blackballed by NFL owners as a result of kneeling during the national anthem as a form of social protests.

Elway joins a list of NFL figures who have been deposed in the case that reportedly includes Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and GM John Schneider, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, league executive VP Troy Vincent, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, Texans owner Bob McNair, Ravens coach John Harbaugh and GM Ozzie Newsome.cowboys_047

Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski could get traded as team’s frustration grows

Rob Gronkowski could find himself on another squad in 2018.

According to the Boston Sports Journal, which cited an unidentified team source, the Patriots tight end is at risk of being traded as coach Bill Belichick’s aggravation with him seemingly grows.

The Warriors stretched the lead in the second quarter. Durant scored on a 3-pointer — his first field goal of the game — and added a driving layup to put the Warriors up 55-41. Golden State led by as many as 18 in the second quarter and were up 64-50 at the break.

The Suns never seriously challenged after that.

“These are the dog days right now,” Phoenix interim coach Jay Triano said. “You can see with the number of guys we’ve got banged up. A lot of guys can’t make it through (82 games). Teams that are going into the playoffs are going through the same things.”

Phoenix has won twice — in 28 games — since Jan. 31 and is guaranteed to finish no better than 21-61, the second-worst record in the franchise’s 50-year history. Only the 1968-69 mark of 16-66 was worse.

“Smoked that ball, huh?” Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons said. “The center fielder ran after it like he had a chance for a second, scared everybody. Wasn’t even close.”

It marked Ohtani’s third straight game with a home run as the Angels won 13-9.

“It’s very impressive, yeah,” Athletics manager Bob Melvin said. “You don’t see too many guys do that on the mound and at the plate. Any.”

Ohtani, who is batting .462 (6-for-13) with six RBIs at home, drew a walk on four pitches with the bases loaded to pull the Angels within 8-7 in the fifth.

The 23-year-old will be on the mound Sunday, getting his first home start against the Athletics. The right-hander beat them in Oakland on Sunday, giving up three runs and three hits in six innings, with one walk and six strikeouts.cardinals_029

La’el Collins hopes to stay at right tackle but will do whatever Cowboys ask

La’el Collins wants to stay at right tackle, but it isn’t going to be his decision. Whether he stays or moves back to left guard likely depends on whether new tackle Cameron Fleming or new guard Marcus Martin proves the better fit in the Cowboys’ offensive line.

Collins, 24, makes it clear he would prefer to play right tackle, saying, “I like playing tackle, so hey, I think that’s where we’ll be.” But he also said he will do what’s best for the Cowboys, and what’s best might require a move back to left guard.

“Man, at the end of the day, I’m here to help the football team,” Collins said. “I think we’re in the right direction. I think we’ll be where we need to be.”

Collins played through injuries last season, including back pain late in the season, and was one of only two players to play all 1,065 offensive snaps. Center Travis Frederick also played every offensive snap.

“Guys are going to play through pain,” Collins said. “That comes with the game. It’s all about what you can play through. I feel good. Every Sunday I woke up I feel like I was able to play, and that’s what I did. I took that approach, and I did what I could in between.”

Marcus Semien’s clean one-out single to left broke up Ohtani’s bid for a perfect game, but he finished the inning with his 12th strikeout. Mixing 99 mph fastballs with precipitous breaking pitches and tremendous professional cool, Ohtani (2-0) was too much for Oakland — until the seventh, when he showed resilience too.

“I wanted to keep a clean zero on the board,” Ohtani said. “One hit would [mean] two runs, and it’s a huge difference. I wanted that strikeout, and I got it.”

Ohtani struck out the side twice during the latest feat in a series of early-season superlatives by the 23-year-old prodigy. He won his pitching debut in Oakland last weekend with six strong innings, and he homered in three consecutive games in Anaheim between starts in his attempt to become the first regular two-way player in decades.

“Especially with how my spring training went, I wasn’t really imagining [the start of the season] to be this good, to be honest,” Ohtani said. “I feel better every day. I feel like I’m getting used to everything more and more each day. But it’s just the first week.”

He was sharp from the beginning on a gorgeous day in Orange County, striking out the side in the first inning on 15 pitches. Ohtani struck out the side again in the fifth inning, and he fanned every Oakland batter except Jonathan Lucroy at least once.patriots_121-223x223

Trevone Boykin arrested, charged with aggravated assault

Free-agent quarterback Trevone Boykin was arrested at his home in Mansfield, Texas, on Wednesday and charged with aggravated assault, according to The Associated Press. Boykin’s girlfriend, Shabrika Bailey, said in a recent interview with WFAA-TV in Dallas that he severely beat her, breaking her jaw. Mansfield police were able to review footage of the March 21 incident captured by his home security video system. Boykin, 24, was released from the Seattle Seahawks’ practice squad Tuesday after the interview. He has denied assaulting Bailey, and his agent told the TV station that her statements are false.

That’s why players with domestic-violence incidents and DUIs are still given chance after chance to keep their place in the league – and arguably no one in the NFL has more talent than Beckham. If the Giants ultimately decide a middling return is acceptable for a talent of Beckham’s quality, they only have themselves to blame when it’s inevitably labeled as one of the NFL’s worst-ever moves.

I’m going to put my fan hat on, and obviously at some point we have to, owner Robert Kraft said, when asked if finding a quarterback in the draft is a high priority for the team. Not just that, but think what happened in the’08 season when in the first quarter against Kansas City, Tom [Brady] goes out. How many people would have said that Matt Cassel would have led us to an 11-5 season I put my faith and confidence in Bill [Belichick]. He knows his responsibilities. Anything can happen, even if Tom comes in [and is in] tip-top shape.

Part of why the networks pay us the funding they do, and the reason this is the best entertainment product in America, is you don’t know — one play can change a whole season. One play with one person. To do a good job managing an NFL franchise, we’ve always said understanding quality depth management, that’s our business.nike_broncos_048-500x500

Rawls runs likes a bowling ball wrapped in barbed wire, seeking out contact and delivering menacing blows for a player his size.

While it’s possible that Bell’s vague tweet could be referring to several topics, the fact that he hasn’t clarified the statement speaks volumes as he and the Steelers struggle to agree on his long-term worth.

Bell is set to make $14.56 million on the franchise tag in 2018. The dual-threat wants to reset the running back market, being paid like the Steelers’ No. 1 running back and No. 2 receiver. It’s possible he’s responding to the idea that he’s asking for too much dinero.

Unfortunately, the bruising physical style that makes Rawls so fun to watch has also held him back. The 24-year-old has been unable to stay healthy the past two seasons. Rawls started just 10 games the past two years after being slated to take over the full-time duty. He earned just 58 carries and averaged 2.7 yards per carry in 2017.

In New York, Rawls will attempt to prove he can stay healthy while battling for a roster spot. The top of the Jets running back corps includes free-agent signee Isaiah Crowell, and incumbents Bilal Powell and Elijah McGuire.

If I was worried too much about it, I’d be worried about the wrong things. But I do use some of it as motivation. I can listen to all the people patting me on the back, or I can listen to the people saying I need to get better. I know I need to get better, or else there would be nobody saying that. Mayfield caused an uproar on multiple occasions during his time in Norman because of his actions both on and off the field.

He was arrested in 2017 after drunkenly attempting to flee police officers, and video of the incident still circulates online. Then came the infamous crotch-grab during the Sooners’ beatdown of Kansas, after Jayhawks players refused to shake Mayfield’s hand before the game. Joe Thomas, the former Browns offensive tackle who retired this offseason, voiced concern about a player like Mayfield, whose fiery personality and chip-on-the-shoulder mentality sometimes leads him into trouble. The thing that scares me about someone who is motivated by criticism is that he could become overwhelmed with the amount of negative, Thomas said, according to Sports Illustrated.patriots_084-223x223

Goose Gossage calls out steroid users again: ‘It’s a bunch of bulls—’

Goose Gossage has Joe Morgan’s back. He doesn’t want anyone to vote known or suspected steroid users into the Hall of Fame.

“I agree with Joe Morgan, 100 percent,” Gossage told the NY Daily News Wednesday. “It’s a bunch of bulls— that they’re even considering these guys. They don’t belong in the Hall of Fame.”

Elected to the Hall in 2008, Gossage has always been a man with strong opinions, and was quick to back up fellow Hall of Famer Morgan, who wrote a letter to voters not to cast ballots for those who have used PEDs.

Gossage said he was thrilled for Chipper Jones, Trevor Hoffman, Jim Thome and Vladimir Guerrero, all of whom were elected into the Hall of Fame this year.

“I was very happy with the way the voting went this year. All of the players voted in, I don’t think there was any question they were very deserving. There wasn’t any doubt in my mind,” Gossage said. “I was disappointed Edgar (Martinez) didn’t make it. But I was glad to see Trevor get in.

“I couldn’t believe it took him this long, that it took three years. Of course, Mariano had the opportunities and all of the success in the postseason, which separates him from everybody. But that shouldn’t be a reflection on Trevor. So I was happy to see him go.

“But I’m just glad people didn’t make a jump in the steroids bunch.”

That “part” is the cities of Ruston and West Monroe, where Williams and Whitworth were respectively raised and the makings of long NFL careers for both began to take root.

Williams officially decided to continue his for a 13th season with Buffalo on Tuesday by agreeing to a one-year, $6 million contract. Before making up his mind, Williams consulted extensively with Whitworth about whether to retire or keep playing.

“We talk all the time,” Williams told co-host Bill Polian and me on SiriusXM NFL Radio. “I spoke with him (Tuesday) and everything leading up to (re-signing).”

While the two play on different sides of the ball and have never been on the same NFL team together, Williams and Whitworth began forming a strong bond well before the two represented Louisiana State as members of the NFL’s 2006 draft class. Whitworth was drafted in Round 2 by the Bengals while Williams joined the Bills as a fifth-round pick.

“He and I played middle school and high school sports against each other,” Williams said. “When we went to LSU we lived together. We got out and have been at it (in the NFL) ever since.packers_001

MLB free agency rumors: Tim Lincecum to sign with Rangers

Tim Lincecum is coming back to MLB.

Poor Starlin Castro. It’s pretty rough to go from being one win away from the World Series to baseball’s island of misfit toys. There’s a reason he’s reportedly already requested a trade. Fortunately for Castro, he can claim to be the best second baseman in the state of Florida, so he’s got that going for him, which is nice.

What Castro is going to give the Marays is known by now. He’s going to hit for a high average while swinging at everything and anything thrown in his general direction, and he’s going to make most of the plays in the field. Just don’t expect it to be pretty. Castro also found some power in his two years with the Yankees. How much of that was a product of the totally-not-juiced ball and Yankee Stadium’s friendly confines can be debated, but the homers don’t count for less regardless of what caused him.

The individual breakout candidates have been tallied here already, so now it’s time to name the two teams who, after missing the playoffs in 2017, are most likely to nab a postseason spot this year.

This could all turn out to be laughably wrong, but over the months of the baseball season there’s ample chance for surprise — and Philadelphia has many of the right pieces to make them contenders. With two wild-card spots to be claimed, the Phillies should absolutely be in the mix to reach at least the one-game playoff this October.

Batted balls can be grouped based on similarity, and then the frequency at which players turn those batted balls into outs can be evaluated as a percent. DRS gives credit for players based on how they perform on based on that percentage.

Now, a hypothetical: a screaming line drive hit just over the shortstop’s head.seahawks_119_60362ab9cd2e4be2-180x180

At the core of the team’s issues was an offense that scored the fewest points in the NFL.

The Dallas Cowboys locked up defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence by using the franchise tag on Monday, which guarantees the pass rusher won’t hit free agency during the 2018 offseason.

It wasn’t unexpected. David Moore of the Dallas Morning News reported earlier that the Cowboys planned to give Lawrence the franchise tag , with the intent of working out a long-term deal with him before the July 16 deadline. But team vice president Stephen Jones said that the ultimate goal was to lock Lawrence up long-term.

“We won’t let D-Law not be a Dallas Cowboy next year,” Jones said, via the team’s website . “We’ll do everything we can to try to make something work, and if we don’t get it done then we’ll franchise him. Then we’ll go back to work.”

Lawrence signed his tag on Thursday, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter . Now the two sides will try to come together to make sure Lawrence sticks around beyond 2018.

Those nine steals, though, were likely born of opportunity and teams not expecting Ramirez to run. If Ramirez is going for 30 steals, people are going to catch on at some point. He’s going to need more than the element of surprise to swipe 30 bags. There were just six players who cracked 30 steals last year. Three of them (Dee Gordon, Billy Hamilton and Trea Turner) feature speed as their primary attraction. If we’re going to put a 34-year-old Hanley Ramirez into that bunch, we’re going to need to get funky.

There are some weapons on the offense in Josh Gordon, David Njoku and Corey Coleman, but Landry adds another threat to the mix for Taylor or whoever else the Browns might draft at quarterback.

You might say “poor Jarvis Landry,” but he’s evidently excited about the new opportunity in Cleveland.

Landry, like Kirk, did himself a ton of favors at the Combine. The Titans were a good pass-rushing team in coordinator Dick LeBeau’s final season, but it was?done by committee. At outside linebacker, Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo are?signed through 2018, and Erik Walden is a free agent. Landry can help situationally before stepping into a regular role next season.seahawks_102_d9225c51be4c0cc7-180x180

Branden Albert arrested in Atlanta on felony charge

Free-agent offensive tackle Branden Albert was arrested Wednesday in Atlanta and is currently in the Fulton County Jail, according to online records.

He is facing a felony charge of willful obstruction of law enforcement officers by use of threats or violence and second degree criminal damage to property. No bond is listed.

Broncos OLB Von Miller. The Super Bowl 50 MVP completed the three-cone in 6.70 seconds in 2011, tied for the third-best mark among linebackers over the past seven years. And that confirmed what teams saw on tape: a freak athlete who wreaked havoc off the edge.

LSU OLB Arden Key. The 6-foot-6, 265-pound defender’s tape is up and down, but Key is arguably the most gifted athlete among edge rushers in this class. A three-cone time in the sub-7-second range would help boost that argument.

Chris Peters, NHL prospects analyst: I don’t know that a package exists that would fully satisfy a Senators fan when it comes to potentially losing their team’s generational defensemen. Few players can change a game the way Karlsson does. The Senators are going to have to get more than picks and prospects for him, that much is certain. I also think that this is the kind of deal the team is going to need more time to put together.

The former Buffalo Bills quarterback announced Thursday that recent tests had revealed evidence of oral cancer. Kelly told WGRZ he credits his daughter, Erin Kelly-Bean, and his doctor for talking him into having a biopsy last month.

Kelly first announced in June 2013 that he had squamous cell carcinoma of the upper jawbone. He had surgery to remove tumors but was found again to have cancer in March 2014. Kelly underwent weeks of chemotherapy and radiation in 2014 before being declared cancer-free that September.

Kelly, 58, played for the Bills from 1986 to 1996 and appeared in four consecutive Super Bowls. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2002.patriots_019

Kessel, Malkin lead Pens past Canes 6-1 for 6th straight win

They played without physical center Jordan Staal, who missed the game because of a family concern — and his absence certainly was felt against Crosby, Malkin, Kessel and the rest of the Penguins’ lineup.

Kucherov had two assists to reach 80 points this season and Tampa Bay defeated the Ottawa Senators 4-3 on Thursday night.

Tyler Johnson, Victor Hedman, Vladislav Namestnikov and Brayden Point scored for the Lightning (41-17-3), who leapfrogged expansion Vegas to regain the top spot in the overall standings with 85 points. Louis Domingue earned his third win by stopping 33 shots.

Kucherov, the NHL’s leading scorer, has 32 goals and 48 assists in 61 games.

Ryan Dzingel, Mark Borowiecki and Derick Brassard scored for the Senators (21-29-10), who are 0-2-1 in their last three games. Craig Anderson made 20 saves.

The loss snapped the Senators’ five-game winning streak on home ice. And with Monday afternoon’s trade deadline quickly approaching, Ottawa players are finding it difficult to stay focused.

“There’s definitely a little bit of anxiety in here,” Borowiecki said.

Green said that Simmons was an inspiration to the next generation of Australian kids coming up through the ranks.

“We do speak,” he said. “He helps me out and gives me some advice so that’s cool. He just tells me to play the game and enjoy it; have fun with everything.

“I think he’s really motivated everybody in Australia. It shows that there’s always chances no matter where you are in the world and you just need to make the most every opportunity you have.”

Before Green can entertain seriously the idea of joining Simmons at the next level, he must finish this season at IMG Academy in Florida and enter the college system. He has attracted the interest of many top schools, including Arizona, Arizona State, UCLA and Kansas, but he is yet to make a decision on which one he’ll attend next year.

“There’s been a lot of colleges, but most colleges have offered me [scholarships] and stayed in daily contact with me, so there’s nothing I can really pick out like that,” he said.jays_519_2a5127ba7e459cf9-180x180