Cleveland expects Denzel Ward to be the No. 1 cornerback immediately

When the Browns open the season against the Steelers, look for Denzel Ward to cover Antonio Brown.

The Golden Knights are Canada’s team because they play the way Canadians are always complaining more teams should play. They were fifth in goals per game (3.27) in the regular season while rolling four lines and skating teams out of the building with nary a neutral-zone trap, which had been a hallmark of NHL expansion teams since the mid-1990s. This isn’t to say the Jets don’t also “play the right way,” having averaged 3.33 goals per game. But again, basically half the team is American so, like, they don’t even know about hockey.

The Golden Knights are Canada’s team because of Jonathan Marchessault, who is basically the embodiment of the Canadian hockey dream. He was an undrafted free agent from Cap-Rouge, Quebec, because he was a 5-foot-9 forward and scored only 40 goals with the Quebec Remparts.

Although it was overlooked on an otherwise terrible team, the Browns actually had a pretty good run defense last year. If Ward can shore up the pass defense, it’s easy to see him being one of the key building blocks for a turnaround in Cleveland.

One of the new faces is quarterback Luis Perez, who won the Harlon Hill Trophy as Division II’s top player while helping Texas A&M-Commerce to the Division II title last season. Perez will be joined by Kent State running back Nick Holley, who also played some quarterback in college before missing most of last season with a torn ACL.

Colorado safety Afolabi Laguda, Southeastern Oklahoma State tight end Codey McElroy, Oklahoma safety Steven Parker and Rice defensive end Brian Womac round out the group of players joining the Rams.

The Rams also announced that they have waived linebacker Carlos Thompson. Thompson played three games last year and got a start in Week 17 against the 49ers.

“It was different for everybody. With the younger guys, it was fun at times. I think sometimes when they come up, they don’t really have time to think, or be nervous. In a way, it relaxes the rest of the group a little bit,” said Orpik.ravens_001

NFL, NFLPA can’t afford to care about impact of kickoff changes on roster composition

As the NFL continues to explore what to do with the kickoff, one of the arguments against getting rid of it comes from the reality that the death of the kickoff would result in the elimination of certain specific roster spots that currently are devoted to players who specialize in special teams.

“I know [for] a fact this year that [the Jaguars] signed three guys because of their special teams play and gave them significant monies,” Jaguars special-teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis said in a recent appearance on SiriusXM NFL Radio. “You’re going to end up taking those guys away from it. Throughout the draft, you say, ‘Well, this guy has the ability to play special teams.’ You take those [kickoff] plays out of the game. . . .

In the NFL, every closing door opens another. The broader concern comes from ensuring that the doors will be open to full participation in football at every level. Removing or restricting or dramatically changing the so-called “most dangerous play in the game” seems to be far more important to the NFL than keeping employed those players whose skills extend only to the kickoff as currently constituted.

The NFL began a two-day player-safety summit Tuesday with owners, coaches, game officials, former players and a representative of the NFL Players Association.

The NFL ratified the safety rule five weeks ago. Everyone still is trying to figure out what type of play exactly officials will throw a flag. The most egregious violations are subject to ejection.

“That’s what I came here for,” Chargers Coach Anthony Lynn said during a break in Tuesday’s meeting, via Maske. “I want to know how the officials are going to officiate this in real speed. We’re sitting here watching all this stuff on video, and that’s easy. I’ve asked six times, ‘Can you rewind that back?’ Well, they [officials] don’t have that option on the field. I just want to see how they’re going to do it — the language and how we’re going to do this and how they’re going to officiate it when it’s full speed on the field.”broncos_067_6141aadcadbef790-180x180

Kahlil McKenzie, Raiders G.M. Reggie McKenzie’s son, goes to Chiefs

Raiders General Manager Reggie McKenzie may get a couple of chances to watch his son play in person during the 2018 NFL regular season, but he’ll likely be rooting for him to do well in a losing cause when those opportunities come up.

But we’ll start here with a franchise that was at a legitimate crossroads heading into the offseason, armed with the second overall pick, and staring at a landscape that juxtaposed a solid quarterback class against a generational running back talent. On one hand, Gettleman and Shurmur could use their pick on the quarterback, buy some time for a rebuild, and push their window to build out. It would be like the Packers did in drafting Aaron Rodgers behind Brett Favre in 2005. On the other, they could give the 37-year-old franchise QB a teammate who could help extend his career in the way Ezekiel Elliott and Todd Gurley ignited the careers of Dak Prescott and Jared Goff. They chose what was behind Door No. 2, which means it’s go time for everyone.

Beachum spoke Tuesday in Manhattan at the annual Gridiron Gala charity event, which benefits the United Way of New York City. Beachum was honored at the event — along with Giants defensive lineman Damon Harrison (an ex-Jet) — for his work in the community.

Jeremy Bates didn’t ‘overhaul’ Jets’ offense, but what might it look like?

Since Jeremy Bates was the Jets ‘ quarterbacks coach last season, it seemed reasonable, when he was promoted this offseason to offensive coordinator, that he would retain some of the schematic approach used last year by coordinator John Morton. broncos_180_031bf3018bc85802-180x180

Flames name ex-Hurricanes coach Bill Peters as new head coach

The Flames have hired Bill Peters as the team’s head coach.

The Flames introduced Peters at a news conference on Monday at Scotiabank Saddledome. The 53-year-old from Three Hills, Alberta, resigned as head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday after four seasons and a year remaining on his contract.

The Flames fired Glen Gulutzan and assistants Dave Cameron and Paul Gerrard last week after missing the playoffs with a 37-35-10 record.

In his NHL head coaching debut, Peters went 137-138-53 with the Hurricanes but wasn’t able to get the team into the playoffs.

Carolina was looking for a new general manager as Ron Francis was reassigned within the organization, so Peters’ tenure there would have eventually been subject to the new GM’s approval.

After leading the Spokane Chiefs to Western Hockey League and Memorial Cup championships in 2008, Peters spent three seasons coaching the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs and then joined the Detroit Red Wings coaching staff.

He was an assistant for Mike Babcock in Detroit for three seasons before heading to Raleigh, N.C.

Butler, who had eight points, five rebounds and five assists in the 122-104 loss, injured the knee in a Feb. 23 loss to the Rockets. He underwent surgery to repair the meniscus in his knee and missed 17 games before returning to help the Timberwolves win the final three games of the regular season and earn the franchise’s first playoff berth in 14 years.

A buzzer-beater. A 25-point comeback. A team moving on to the second round. Wednesday’s NBA playoff action had everything, and we have it all here.

“He had surgery, so it’s a concern any time someone’s hurt,” Thibodeau said when asked if Butler’s knee would be an issue in the offseason.

Butler was not asked about his knee during his postgame media availability, which he did in the Timberwolves’ locker room during Thibodeau’s news conference.

Butler declined to answer a question about the knee as he exited the locker room. Thibodeau said Butler was not bothered by the knee during the series until Game 5.

The Timberwolves were down 11 when Butler left the game, and they never cut the deficit to single digits.

“He just said it was sore,” Thibodeau said. “We wanted to use caution.”dolphins_001

Victor Oladipo says LeBron James should’ve been called for goaltending on late block

Another LeBron James block keyed a big playoff victory for the Cleveland Cavaliers, but Indiana Pacers star Victor Oladipo contends it should’ve been called as goaltending.

With the score tied at 95 on Wednesday night, Oladipo — who shot just 2-of-15 in the Game 5 matchup — drove the left side of the key and was at the rim when James swooped in for a block. The play was reminiscent of his Game 7 block on Andre Iguodala of the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 NBA Finals.

Oladipo, however, thought his shot hit the backboard first and that goaltending should have been called. TV replays showed the ball appeared to hit the glass before James touched it.

“Dalvin’s knocked the rehab out of the park,” Sugarman said. “He’s done a great job. He’s been here every day since the injury occurred, post-surgery.”

The Vikings started their offseason workout program last week at their sparkling new training facility, with state-of-the-art equipment that certainly hasn’t hurt Cook’s quest to come back as the same dual-threat player who was briefly on display last season after being drafted in the second round out of Florida State .

Cook took part in strength and conditioning activities on the indoor turf with the rest of his teammates on Tuesday, when the Vikings opened a portion of the workout to reporters.

“You’ve got to trust yourself and know that you did everything in your power to get your knee back to where it’s at,” Cook said.

“I’ve got a lot to prove,” Bryant said Friday in a media conference at the Raiders’ facility. “I don’t want to be just a one-dimensional player. I have a lot to work on, all aspects of my game. I’m going to do that, just to prove to myself that I can be great.

“I’ve seen the Steelers practice, in my previous position [on ESPN’s Monday Night Football]. The man knows how to practice. The guy knows how to prepare. He’s been through a lot in his life and he’s got something to prove, and I think we’re catching him at the right time … I got a lot of confidence in this young man. I think a change of scenery can unleash his greatness.”

Gruden also said running back Marshawn Lynch should be happy with the acquisition because Bryant’s ability to stretch the field will help the Raiders’ rushing attack.

No official decision had been reached Thursday night, according to multiple sources close to the situation, but the months-long process of evaluating Patterson’s waiver request is nearing its conclusion.sl_cardinals_006

Acuna singles, scores in MLB debut, Braves beat Reds 5-4

Prized prospect Ronald Acuna Jr. looked like a polished veteran.

The 20-year-old Acuna singled and scored the tying run in the eighth inning of his big league debut, and the Atlanta Braves went on to beat the Cincinnati Reds 5-4 Wednesday night.

Joey Votto’s two-run drive, his second homer in two nights, got the Reds on the board in the fifth.

Reds starter Brandon Finnegan, who opened the season on the disabled list with a strained left biceps, allowed two earned in five innings.

“We made it tough on Brandon Finnegan,” manager Jim Riggleman said. “We missed a couple opportunities and fell behind early but we scored four after missing a couple. It came back to bite us.”

Braves starter Matt Wisler was roughed up for nine hit and four runs in five innings.

Adam Duvall was called out to end the fifth inning while trying to score the tying run from first on Scott Schebler’s double, but a video review requested by the Reds led to the call being overturned after a 2-minute, 10-second look.

A 33-second video review showed that Nick Markakis beat out what originally was ruled to be a double-play grounder with nobody out in the Atlanta ninth.

Wall said he started to feel fatigued down the stretch on Wednesday as the Toronto Raptors pulled away for a 108-98 win on Wednesday to take a 3-2 series lead. Wall had 26 points, nine assists and nine rebounds but did not score a point as he missed his last three shots and had two turnovers in the final nine minutes of the game.

“I definitely do, I feel like that,” Wall said when asked if he feels he can take over a playoff game at any point after the Wizards’ shootaround today. “But at the same time, I think last game I kinda like ran out of gas a little bit the last five minutes and I gotta do a better job of — not taking time off — but letting other guys create or create for other guys and let those guys make plays at times.

“So [during] those last five minutes, kind of like Game 4 here, I can have the energy to make plays for myself but also for my teammates. I think that kind of hurt us in the last game.”

Game 6 will be Wall’s 10th game since returning from left knee surgery at the end of March. He is averaging 38.8 minutes and has played 43 and 44 minutes each in the last two games. Wall is averaging 26.6 points, 12.2 assists, 5.8 rebounds and 2.6 steals in the series.jets_055

Landon Collins headed for surgery? Giants star not ‘100 percent’ after all

Actually, the Giants star might be far from it and soon need a second surgery on his fractured forearm, according to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo. If that is the case, the timeline for recovery would be 6-8 weeks and take him out of offseason camps, per the report.

While it’s bad news for the Giants and Collins, the silver lining is the estimated timetable still would allow him to be ready in time for training camp. The two-time Pro Bowler also injured his ankle last season and played through the pain.

“Mostly ankle mobility because I hurt my ankle last year,” Collins said of the focus of his offseason training. “That’s the thing I worked on the most, and then endurance. Endurance to continue to be able to run around the field and make plays.”

Collins is entering the final year of his four-year rookie contract, with a salary cap hit of $1.94 million. His contract negotiation is an under-the-radar tricky subject for the Giants.

In 2016, the Jets also played at Washington in Week 2 of the preseason. The Jets don’t play any of their 2018 preseason opponents in the 2018 regular season.

So when will the Jets’ regular season schedule be released? Last year, it came out April 20 . So you can probably expect to see it around then — sometime next week.

We already know the Jets’ regular season opponents for 2018 , plus the locations of those games. We just don’t know the dates, times, and TV details.

They host defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson, whom they recently cut. He signed with the Packers. Quarterback Kirk Cousins chose the Vikings over the Jets — and surely won’t get a warm welcome at MetLife Stadium.

The Vikings let quarterback Teddy Bridgewater walk in free agency, and he signed with the Jets. The Jets signed middle linebacker Avery Williamson away from the Titans and running back Isaiah Crowell away from the Browns.rams_001

Skaggs has made three starts in his career against the Indians and is 0-2 with a 6.23 ERA.

The left-hander faced Cleveland on Sept. 19 at Angel Stadium and gave up two runs and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings of the 6-3 loss.

The Los Angeles offense should be confident after five players hit home runs Tuesday night in a 13-2 victory against Cleveland, ending a 12-game losing streak against the Indians. Two of the home runs came just above the new yellow line on the wall that extends from right to right-center. Before this season, the wall had to be cleared for a home run.

On the other coast, the Patriots cleared up somewhat of a logjam at wide receiver by moving on from Cooks. Julian Edelman is set to return after missing all of last season with a torn ACL. Whereas Cooks handled a 19 percent target share last season (7.1 per game), Edelman averaged a 27 percent share (9.9 per game) during the 2013-16 seasons.

Bolin only spent one season in Rutgers after transferring from Louisville. After starting the team’s first five games, he was benched in favor of Gio Rescigno. Bolin — listed at 6-2, 210 pounds — played six total games in 2017 and passed for 711 yards, three touchdowns and six interceptions with a 54.9 completion percentage.

Joseph — a 6-4, 305 pound defensive tackle — had an impressive showing in front of scouts at the College Gridiron Showcase in January. Joseph is also visiting with the Jets and Giants for their local days.

The makeup game will begin at 1:15 p.m. and the original game will be moved back an hour to 7:15 p.m.

The White Sox won the opener Thursday with a six-homer barrage in a 14-7 rout, then rallied in the eighth inning for a 4-3 victory over their AL Central rivals on Saturday night.

That applies to weekly leagues as well, where Ohtani’s pitching exploits remain considerably more useful. With his typical week probably resulting in one pitching start and roughly three hitter starts at DH, he’s not going to provide the volume needed to contribute in the latter.buccaneers_072

Pirates closer Felipe Rivero changes name to Felipe Vazquez

Pirates closer Felipe Rivero has changed his name to Felipe Vazquez.

Vazquez told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Monday that he legally changed his surname to match that of his sister, Prescilla.

The 26-year-old from Venezuela took over as Pittsburgh’s closer last season and saved 21 games with a 1.67 ERA. His uniform will reflect the change soon, though Rivero said Monday he wasn’t sure when. He apologized on Twitter to fans who had purchased his No. 73 jersey with his name on the back.

The Cavs led by only six with under 4 minutes left, but James found Love for a basket, then followed Clarkson’s two 3-pointers with one of his own to put away the game.

“They’re a great team, and when LeBron’s out there it makes it very difficult on guys. You can’t guard him one-on-one,” Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek said. “But, our guys didn’t quit, so it was good.”

“Why not Whitney?” Holt said. “I was a little nervous there for it to play in the situation that we were in. But I think they might have turned the volume up. I feel like it was a lot louder than everyone else’s walk-up song.”

Rays: Open a three-game series at the Chicago White Sox on Monday. Chris Archer (0-0, 6.55 ERA) is 3-2 with a 4.29 ERA against the White Sox.

Red Sox: Begin a three-game series with the New York Yankees on Tuesday night. Boston ace Chris Sale (0-0, 0.82 ERA) makes his first home start of the season. He went 7-3 with a 3.16 ERA in 13 starts at Fenway last season.

Andrew Luck missed the entire 2017 season after undergoing surgery on his right shoulder during the offseason, but Colts owner Jim Irsay believes his star quarterback will soon be back on the field.

Kelly starred for the Bills from 1986-96, leading them at one point to four consecutive Super Bowls, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002.

His presence sparked an eight-game winning streak in March that helped San Jose clinch a playoff berth, and he has helped fill a scoring void created when Patrick Marleau left as a free agent for Toronto last summer and then Joe Thornton went down with a knee injury in January.buccaneers_013

Kraft: Patriots’obviously’ must consider drafting QB

The New England Patriots strayed from their usual preparation at the quarterback position in 2017 by trading both Jacoby Brissett and Jimmy Garoppolo. With only veteran Brian Hoyer signed behind Tom Brady for the 2018 season, owner Robert Kraft expects the team to address the position in April’s draft. I’m going to put my fan hat on, and obviously at some point we have to, Kraft told ESPN’s Mike Reiss at this week’s owners meetings in Orlando. 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.

Engram averages just under $2.7 million per season, while Webb earns just under $900,000. While it’s far from a perfect comparison as the Giants would likely use the picks on their offensive line or a running back, would the equivalents to Engram – who looked like a stud in his rookie season – and Webb – who couldn’t even see the field despite the Giants imploding and benching Manning – even come close to an adequate return for a potential Hall of Famer like Beckham Essentially, it comes down to Beckham versus, for example, offensive tackle Connor Williams and running back Nick Chubb, $17 million extra a year in cap space, and a massive hole at receiver.

And that’s even ignoring the fact the Giants gave up an elite player to one of their conference’s burgeoning powerhouses. If that’s somehow the limit of what teams will give up for Beckham, which is crazy in itself, the Giants should stifle a laugh and move on, not take what they can get just to get rid of Beckham and his apparent personality issues. And make no mistake, this is about Beckham’s personality.

Roberts left for personal reasons unrelated to Elliott’s case., according to a source.

Elliott eventually lost his case in court and served his suspension.

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and the NFL have moved on and consider the matter closed after Jones reimbursed the league more than $2 million in legal fees stemming from Elliott’s court case and his opposition of a new contract extension for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

Robert’s departure gives the league some closure on a seemingly ugly internal battle between Roberts and NFL senior vice president of investigations Lisa Friel that played out in court.

Randy Gregory is gearing up to apply for reinstatement to the NFL.nike_broncos_050-500x500