Proposed rule could allow officials at NFL office to eject players after instant replay

Egregious “non-football acts” could be subject for ejection next season even if referees don’t call for expulsion on the field.

Troy Vincent, executive vice president of football operations, told USA Today Sports on Monday that the league’s competition committee will propose a rule allowing the league office in New York to eject players after instant replay.

“We are looking to address what’s obvious to coaches, players and fans,” Vincent said.

The rule, which will need 24 votes of support from owners to pass next week in Orlando, could also be used to identify players who spark fights.

Pirates: RHP Gerrit Cole (11-8, 3.99 ERA) goes for back-to-back wins over Cincinnati as the Pirates open a three-game series against RHP Luis Castillo (2-7, 3.26) and the Reds on Friday. Cole threw seven innings and homered to lead Pittsburgh to a 1-0 win at Cincinnati last week, after going 0-6 in his first nine career starts against the Reds.

Cubs: RHP Kyle Hendricks (5-4, 3.45 ERA) goes to the mound as Chicago opens a four-game series against Atlanta. LHP Sean Newcomb (2-7, 4.36) starts for the Braves.

The safety expressed that he wished to retire last September, but after talking with management, he was placed on the reserve/left squad, meaning he would have to sit out the season, per ESPN.

Cravens suffered a concussion in Week 4 of the 2016 season, which caused him to miss two games, and then missed the final three games of the season with an elbow injury.

The 2016 second-round pick did have a strong rookie season compiling 34 tackles, one sack and five passes defended.

Orioles: DH Mark Trumbo (quad strain) is expected to start for Double-A Bowie on Tuesday and Wednesday. … RHP Alex Cobb could make his season debut Saturday in Boston, Showalter said. Cobb missed most of spring training before signing as a free agent in late March.
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Cubs delay home opener vs. Pirates because of snow

The Chicago Cubs’ home opener against the Pittsburgh Pirates has been postponed because of snow.

The Cubs tried pushing back the scheduled start time by an hour, and workers used handheld blowers to melt the snow on the tarp, but the accumulation and cold temperatures were too much to overcome. Snow covered the seats on the lower level and the playing surface at Wrigley Field in a scene more reminiscent of December than April.

About 10 miles to the south, the Chicago White Sox were hosting the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday in a game delayed briefly by the wintry weather. This is Tampa Bay’s only trip to Chicago this season.

“Opening Day is always very special,” Maddon said. “We’ve already played nine or 10 games, so it’s a little different. You’d rather go out there with your uniform on and not five layers of clothing, [though].”

Pittsburgh is off to a surprising 7-2 start. It took three of four against Cincinnati in its previous series.

“Josh, I think, without a doubt, is the number one quarterback in the draft. He’s a franchise-changer,” Mora told SI. “He’s got the ability to have an immediate impact. His arm talent, intelligence, and his ability to see the game and diagnose the game is rare. He’d come to the sidelines after a play and it was uncanny he could right away say exactly why he made every decision.

“He needs to be challenged intellectually so he doesn’t get bored. He’s a millennial. He wants to know why. Millennials, once they know why, they’re good. Josh has a lot of interests in life. If you can hold his concentration level and focus only on football for a few years, he will set the world on fire. He has so much ability, and he’s a really good kid.”

Rosen is expected to go in the early part of the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft on April 26. He could be taken by any one of several teams, including the Browns, who have the Nos. 1 and 4 overall picks.

But Mora believes former USC quarterback Sam Darnold would be better suited for the Browns.cardinals_107

Kyle Kuzma on latest injury: ‘Hard to move around on two flat tires’

Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma hobbled out of Staples Center late Friday night with both of his ankles aching and the remainder of his impressive rookie season up in the air.

Already playing through a right ankle injury that he suffered earlier this season, Kuzma was limited to 18 minutes before leaving Friday night’s 113-96 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves midway through the third quarter after he suffered a mild left ankle sprain.

The Lakers are already without Brandon Ingram (concussion protocol), Lonzo Ball (knee contusion) and Isaiah Thomas (hip surgery). Ingram has missed four straight games, and while he is improving, the forward probably will be out Sunday against Utah. Ball has missed the past five games because of his knee injury.

Kuzma, who entered the game averaging 16.3 points and 6.3 rebounds, said his latest ankle injury was different than the one suffered to his right ankle. Kuzma also injured his right ankle last season while in college at Utah, in addition to spraining it this season.

Just really throbbing, Kuzma said of how his left ankle feels. [It’s] a little different than my last one. My last one was an inside sprain. This is an outside sprain. Two different types of feelings.

This time it is just a little bit harder to get out there and try to run, Kuzma added of having to leave the game in the third quarter. Both ankles are hurting.

I was completely caught off-guard by this,” he said. I’ve never in any way done anything to try to intentionally cheat the game. I’ve taken the same supplements for the last seven or eight years and never had any issues … been tested numerous times over the years while taking the same stuff.
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Unfortunately, this is some of the things that happen when you take supplements. I’ve never tested positive for steroids or HGH. This is not one of those situations. It ended up being an estrogen blocker that triggered a positive test for me. I just want you guys to know that in no way would I ever do anything to cheat this game or try to create a competitive advantage over anybody.

Davis, the 14th pick of the 2005 draft and 2014 NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year, already planned to have his role lessened this season to make more time for Shaq Thompson in nickel situations.

Draft will give fans of each team their own section

In 17 days, the draft does Dallas — and Dallas will do the draft like no other city ever has.

“This is going to be the most talked-about draft in history,” NFL draft historian and custodian Gil Brandt tells Peter King of SI.com. “And not just because quarterbacks could go one through four, or four of the top five picks. But this will be an incredible extravaganza. For years to come, people will compare every draft to Dallas. The saying, Everything’s bigger in Texas, will definitely apply.”

The total difference between No. 15 and No. 17: $1.004 million. The total fee paid by the 15th pick, at a maximum rate of three percent: $378,000.

So if an agent could get Jackson drafted by the Cardinals (who need a quarterback) at No. 15 instead of the Chargers (who need a quarterback) at No. 17, the contract value arising from two-spot difference would pay the entire fee, with more than $600,000 left over.

Sherman is going to continue to believe what he believes, for reasons that perhaps only he knows. The truth continues to be that good agents provide a valuable service to their clients. It’s abundantly clear that Jackson would have benefited from those services, and that those services may have paid for themselves, and then some.

He played in 15 games last season, catching 12 passes for 160 yards and a score.

As explained in November 2016 in the aftermath of an extensive SI.com article looking at the state of football in America, a silent majority of football fans may want old-school football. It’s generally regarded as uncouth or non-mainstream for reporters or broadcasters to say that, since most who cover sports have tried (consciously or not) to steer the discussion toward an unconditional embrace of safety, safety, and more safety in football.

Meanwhile, plenty of fans don’t want safety, at least not at the professional level. MDS recently made an excellent comparison between football and karate. Parents don’t want to see their kids get kicked in the face, but those same parents will pay $64.95 every four or five weeks to watch adults kick each other in the face during UFC events.texans_135

Manziel’s allegation of “toxic” quarterback room cries out for response from Brian Hoyer

Quarterback Johnny Manziel’s Wednesday interview on The Dan Patrick Show, part of an obvious effort to parlay lingering media attention into another NFL opportunity, included a misguided attempt to blame the Browns for not realizing that Manziel was conning them in 2014. Manziel also mentioned that, when he arrived as a rookie in Cleveland, no veteran quarterback was there to help him.

We’re currently trying to track Hoyer down and get him either on the record or on PFT Live. And we’ll continue to keep our eyes and ears open for anything from Hoyer reacting to the fairly strong allegation made by Manziel.

Given that Hoyer currently plays for the Patriots, chances are that he won’t be saying anything. Or that if he says anything, it ultimately will be nothing.

He will get a new punter to snap to, with the Broncos having signed Marquette King on Thursday.

It would be no shock to see the Browns trade out of the No. 4 spot. If Cleveland finally gets their quarterback at No. 1 and another franchise has a quarterback in mind, the Browns could parlay that second first-round pick into a package that would add more impact players down the board. It’s a strategy Cleveland has used before, but the fact Dorsey has five picks in the first two rounds to work with provides the opportunity for some packaging. Given how active the Browns have stayed on the trading block this offseason, it’s a real possibility.

Assuming Cleveland doesn’t draft Barkley in the first round, it would be a good idea to target either LSU’s Derrius Guice or Georgia’s Sony Michel, both of which would add depth to the backfield of Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson. Cleveland should also target offensive line help in the second round and Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey and Pitt’s Brian O’Neill fit that description.
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NFL suspends Jalen Collins a fourth time

Former Falcons cornerback Jalen Collins is not currently on an NFL roster, and today’s news makes it less likely he ever will be.

Collins has been suspended for the first 10 games of the 2018 NFL season, according to Field Yates of ESPN.

“We could’ve just gave in, but the guys showed pride and came out and fought tonight,” Lue said of his team, playing on the second night of a back-to-back after needing a 17-point fourth-quarter comeback to beat the Washington Wizards on Thursday. “Hats off to them. They played very well, and we might see them down the road.”

James just doesn’t want to have to rely on too many comebacks in the future.

“I mean, you don’t want to be in that situation,” he said. “If you’re down 30 in the postseason, that can lose you a series. You don’t want to hang your hat on, ‘OK, well, we can come back from deficits like that.’ You want to try to play well, but we know what we’re capable of as far as that. We’ve come back. We came back last night; we came back today. So, it’s all about defense. And when we defend, we can do some real good things offensively.”

“I can honestly say we can’t do much more now,” Snead said, via Peter King of SI.com.

Snead admitted that he’s unlikely to add even the cheapest free agents at this point, because he doesn’t want to risk 2019 compensatory picks.

While the exact formula isn’t known, comp picks are doled out based on the net loss of unrestricted free agents. Players who were released by their previous team or untendered restricted and exclusive rights free agents don’t count toward the formula.

The winners are the teams who lose top unrestricted free agents. So the Rams (Sammy Watkins, Trumaine Johnson), Patriots (Nate Solder, Malcolm Butler), Panthers (Andrew Norwell), and Washington (Kirk Cousins) appear to be the teams ready to cash in on third-rounders next year.

And for that reason, teams are slow-playing it until after the draft, when the rules change. If an unrestricted free agent doesn’t receive a tender from his prior team by May 8, he can then sign with a new team without affecting the comp pick formula.
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Saints sign Benjamin Watson for his ability, not his familiarity with the offense

The Saints did not necessarily sign tight end Benjamin Watson for his familiarity with the offense. That was just an added bonus.

New Orleans added Watson because he was available and because he played well last season for the Ravens when he caught 61 passes for 522 yards and four scores.

Steve Spurrier: Yes, the “Ol’ ball coach” is getting old with Spurrier set to turn 73 in April, and his two-year NFL head coaching run with Washington was disastrous. Spurrier, though, did later regain his mojo as South Carolina’s head coach for 11 years. Spurrier also is the kind of presence that will draw fans and media attention if connected with an Alliance team stationed in the Sunshine State Orlando, I’m looking at you based on his legacy at the University of Florida.

Spurrier last October publicly said he was open to coaching again under the right circumstances.

The Boston Herald reports that Belichick chastised Gronk in front of teammates for being a TB12 client, an effort from Belichick to keep other players from following the instructions of Guerrero instead of the team’s training staff.

Whatever Guerrero is doing with Brady and Gronkowski, it seems to be working: Brady is still playing at an MVP level at age 40, and the oft-injured Gronkowski stayed healthy last season through the Super Bowl. So perhaps it would be wise for Belichick to ease up on his contempt for the TB12 Method.

Yes, he gets emotional at times during games. It’s an emotional game. Yes, he enjoys the celebrity that flows from his football skills. But his football skills remain unparalleled. Yes, he wants to be paid $20 million per year. Yes, a video recently emerged that appeared to possibly show Beckham doing possibly something that a high percentage of football players do — smoke marijuana in their spare time.
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Chiefs bring Kerwynn Williams in for a visit

The Chiefs weren’t exactly shorthanded in the backfield, but they continue to look for options.

Per Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the Chiefs brought former Cardinals running back Kerwynn Williams in for a visit.

O’Brien’s comments are encouraging, if the goal is to see minimal impact — and maximum predictability. The only question is whether his views are consistent with the league’s intentions. As written and presented, this seems to be about more than using the top of the head as a weapon, because the league banned that technique outside the tackle box in 2013. There’s a vague area between the facemask and the top of the helmet that the new rule seems to be encompassing. For now, it’s impossible to know where the line will be drawn, and how the NFL will enforce this provision in a fair and consistent way.

It’s also possible that coaches like O’Brien may have a lot more to say about the situation if/when the league provides information suggesting that the rule will be truly as sweeping and significant as many fear it will be.

“Sometimes you get lucky,” Verlander said.

Verlander didn’t need much luck against Mauer and the Minnesota Twins. He struck out nine over seven dominant innings, Carlos Correa had two hits and the Houston Astros won 2-0 on Monday night.

The right-hander followed his strikeout of Mauer in the sixth by striking out Miguel Sano and getting Eddie Rosario to pop out, freezing up Minnesota’s rally on a chilly night with a first-pitch temperature of 35 degrees.

Verlander gave up three hits and walked one while helping the reigning World Series champions match their best 11-game start by going 9-2.

The right-hander improved to 11-1 in 14 games, including the playoffs, since being traded to Houston last season. He’s 7-0 with a 1.20 ERA in eight regular season starts since the trade.texans_006

Jameis Winston promises to show how valuable DeSean Jackson is

Wide receiver DeSean Jackson caught 50 passes for 668 yards and three touchdowns during his first season with the Buccaneers and that production represented a drop across the board from what he did in his final year in Washington.

Some of that drop could be attributed to the presence of Mike Evans in the offense and some could be attributed to playing without quarterback Jameis Winston while Winston was dealing with shoulder injuries, but the overall need for more was the subject of an article by Thomas Bassinger of the Tampa Bay Times last week.

Josh Gordon was retained as he keeps trying to rebuild his No. 1 wideout status, but with 2016 first-rounder Corey Coleman on the brink on flaming out, the Browns could use more help to complement Gordon outside and Landry in the slot. Beckham would turn what was the worst receiving corps in the league two years ago into the best.

Imagine Taylor working with that group now, then a young franchise QB like Sam Darnold or Josh Allen leaning on it in the near future. Given a higher-upside backfield, too, with Hyde joining Duke Johnson, this offense could be legitimately scary everywhere.

CBS Sports reports that Kaepernick exercised his prerogative to personally attend the depositions of G.M. Ozzie Newsome and coach John Harbaugh.

In many cases, it’s critical for the party who initiated a grievance or lawsuit to attend depositions because that person can help the lawyer frame follow-up questions based on first-hand interactions with the witnesses. Kaepernick had limited, if any, interactions with Newsome or Harbaugh; still, being there shows his commitment to the effort to prove that the NFL and its teams acted with coordination in avoiding him.

And that’s really what any collusion case is. The basis for the collusion doesn’t matter. If these 32 supposedly independent businesses coordinate in any way when it comes to the collective work force, a violation of the labor deal.

The collusion/coordination can be over anything, legitimate or illegitimate. In this case, the fact that collusion/coordination may have happened over such a polarizing topic (Kaepernick’s role in starting the anthem protests) has made the collusion case necessarily more polarizing, too. At its core, however, all that matters is whether collusion/coordination occurred. If it did, and if Kaepernick can prove it, the NFL has a problem.patriots_109-223x223

Roger Goodell: NFL focused on’taking the head out of the game’ with new rule

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wrapped up the league’s annual meeting Wednesday in Orlando, and the implementation of a rule change that prohibits lowering the head to initiate contact was one of the key points of his news conference.

Our focus is taking the head out of the game, to make sure we’re using the helmet as protection and not a weapon, Goodell said.

Goodell indicated that league representatives will meet with meet with coaches, medical staffs, and players from all 32 franchises over the offseason to address and educate the clubs about the rule change, which could yield ejections in certain cases.

Additionally, Goodell said that there’s support among the coaches to use replay review to confirm ejections.

If we’re able to have replay to confirm when there’s one of these fouls when it happens in the game, then we should be able to use replay to confirm when an ejection may be necessary, Goodell said. I believe that our coaches and clubs feel (using replay for ejections) is the appropriate thing to do.

Among some of the other more notable topics Goodell addressed included:

With regard to the clarification of the catch rule, when asked if the league applied the new language of the rule in Eagles running back Corey Clement’s touchdown catch in Super Bowl LII in which the ball appeared to move as it hit the ground, NFL vice president of officiating Al Riveron said the the old standard was used to confirm the catch. In order for us to overturn the call, we had to see clearly indisputable evidence, Riveron said. There was some slight movement, but we didn’t see loss of control. We didn’t see indisputable evidence that he did not have possession of the football.

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