Monthly Archives: June 2016

Five weeks after Tom Brady’s appeal, court decision should be close

Five weeks after Tom Brady’s appeal, court decision should be close

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Some quick-hit thoughts regarding the New England Patriots and the NFL:

1. If initial projections by some legal experts are correct, wholesale jerseys this could be the week that the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rules on Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s request for an en banc hearing. Brady’s legal team filed its official appeal May 23, and at the time ESPN legal analyst Andrew Brandt, among others, estimated that a ruling could come as early as three weeks or possibly take as long as six weeks. Monday marks five full weeks since Brady’s appeal, which means we’re officially in the red zone for a court decision.

2. What is it like working under Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia? Here is how 2013 first-round draft pick Jonathan Cooper, now in his first year with the Patriots, described it during last week’s Sirius XM NFL Radio interview: “He’s just the type of guy who is going to get on you, like every coach, but when you’re doing it correctly he’s going to make sure you know that. And he’s going to give you the repetitions it takes on building the fundamentals and laying the foundation, so once you do get with the live bullets flying you’re ready to go and it’s second nature. That’s one of the biggest things I’d say about him, every day it’s doing the same repetitions, and it’s, ‘Oh, this again?’ You quickly learn that it starts to translate into the practice film, then it will translate into the game film, and that’s when you’re successful.”

3a. One of the notable transformations on the Patriots’ roster is at defensive tackle wholesale custom jerseys, where the club released its two players — Chris Jones and Dominique Easley — who best fit the description of a penetrating 3-technique. In their place, the club has favored bigger, stouter tackles who aren’t built to win with an explosive first step or penetrating move as they are with power or to hold the point of attack (e.g. Terrance Knighton, Vincent Valentine). When I asked defensive line coach Brendan Daly earlier in the offseason about the “disappearance of the 3-technique,” he politely contested my choice of words by pointing out how the defense is getting some of that from its defensive ends when they move inside in passing situations, and also from linebackers Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins when they pressure up the middle. It was a brief chat with Daly, but one I appreciated because it prompted me to look at things differently.

3b. In discussing the concept of defensive ends moving inside to rush on passing downs, one of the most topical players of late to highlight is San Diego Chargers rookie Joey Bosa, the third overall pick out of Ohio State. The Chargers envision him playing on the edge but also moving inside in some passing situations. It was something the Patriots’ Jabaal Sheard did wholesale best jerseys in 2015, which coach Bill Belichick previously mentioned was new to him, and he seemed to handle it well.

4. Jones is essentially competing with veteran Earl Mitchell for a backup spot behind Ndamukong Suh in Miami. The system being implemented by Dolphins first-year defensive coordinator Vance Joseph has similarities to the Bengals’ 4-3 (think about Geno Atkins as a penetrating 3-technique), which makes sense when considering Joseph spent the past two years as Cincinnati’s defensive backs coach and he also brought linebackers coach Matt Burke with him to South Florida. Meanwhile, Easley is behind All-Pro tackle Aaron Donald in the Rams’ 4-3, with coordinator Gregg Williams recently touting the overall line as arguably the fastest in the NFL. So both former Patriots have landed in schemes where the traditional 3-technique wholesale cheap jerseys china review — usually undersized but often explosive — is a bigger part of the scheme.

5. The Pro Football Writers of America announced its five annual awards last week, and Patriots left tackle Nate Solder was edged out by Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry for the George Halas honor, which goes to the NFL player, coach or staff member who overcomes the most adversity to succeed. Berry is a deserving choice — as is Solder, who has used his NFL platform to raise awareness for testicular cancer (Solder had been diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2014). In addition, Solder’s son Hudson, who was born in July 2015, was diagnosed with kidney cancer last fall and Solder and his wife, Lexi, have shared his story to raise public awareness. Solder will return in 2016 from a biceps injury that cost him most of the past season, and he should be a strong consideration for the award again at this time next year.

6. Former Maine Black Bear Mike DeVito, who retired from the NFL this offseason after six years with the Jets (2007-2012) and three with the Chiefs (2013-2015), is exploring some opportunities in the media and will provide color commentary for televised UMaine games in 2016. We caught up on the radio last week, as DeVito was co-hosting a sports radio program on 92.9 The Ticket in Bangor, Maine, and his first question about the Patriots was with the offensive line. DeVito said as the Chiefs prepared to face the Patriots in the playoffs last season, they felt the O-line was one area that could be exploited. The big changes this year for New England: The return of Scarnecchia as coach, Solder’s return to health, the possibility that Cooper (right guard) realizes his potential as the No. 7 overall player selected in 2013, third-round draft pick Joe Thuney as a possible starter at left guard, and a potential open competition at center headlined by incumbent Bryan Stork and second-year man David Andrews.

7. Patriots top draft choice Cyrus Jones, in an interview with Tide 99.1 in Alabama last week, highlighted some of the similarities he has noticed in coming from Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide program to Belichick’s program. The primary link: “Coach Belichick is definitely a coach that demands discipline from his players. He runs a tight ship.” Jones is quickly learning what Alabama alum Hightower learned after the Patriots selected him in the 2012 first round. Hightower said of Belichick and Saban, “I literally think they’re exactly the same … two peas in a pod.”

8. Patriots No. 3 tight end Michael Williams, who tore his left ACL on June 8 in mandatory minicamp and was placed on season-ending injured reserve, is waiting for swelling to subside before undergoing surgery. The expectation is that the surgery will take place the week of July 4. He’ll rehab during the season in hopes of being ready to go next offseason, when he is a restricted free agent usa wholesale jerseys.

9. After the Cavaliers captured the first professional sports championship for the city of Cleveland since the Browns won the 1964 NFL championship, Browns cornerback Joe Haden told that it was motivation for the Browns, who are in the midst of another rebuilding project. Did You Know: The Browns have missed the playoffs each of the past 13 seasons, which is tied with the Raiders for the second-longest active streak in the NFL. The Bills, who last made the playoffs in 1999, have the longest active playoff drought.

10. Something to look forward to later this year: With this marking the 15-year anniversary of the Patriots’ first Super Bowl championship team — the 2001 squad that shocked the St. Louis Rams (aka The Greatest Show on Turf) — the club gathered a few of the reporters from that era to reflect, reminisce and travel back in time to that special season. Along with Tom Curran, Ron Borges and Bryan Morry, and led by host Bob Socci, we taped several segments that will run throughout the season on the team’s website (starting the week of July 25). So many meaningful stories to tell from that magical run.

Just one step more will help LeBron wipe away pain

Just one step more will help LeBron wipe away pain

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Well, on the eve of Game 7, let’s just say LeBron James was so at ease, he could go hours without deodorant and not stink wholesale jerseys.

“I’m going to give everything I’ve got to my teammates and my coaching staff, as I’ve always done,” he explained. “And I live with the results. One thing I can’t live with is if I don’t go out and be true to the game; that would stop me from sleeping. So I’m ready to go.”

This should come as scary news to the Warriors, and the most refreshing news for Cleveland since 1964, the last time the city celebrated a professional sports title of any kind. LeBron is chilly like Harrison Barnes’ shooting percentage because inside, his confidence is burning. The jump shot is falling, the path to the rim seems six lanes wide and suddenly he’s doing whatever he damn well pleases in this series. He knows that he’s on, perhaps, the finest stretch of his career, all things considered. Yes, he did have that gargantuan series against the Pistons in 2007 (48 points, nine rebounds, seven assists in Game 5). Yes, sport jerseys wholesale he did chop down the Celtics in 2012. But neither was the NBA Finals.

Nor did they put the Cavs on the doorstep of history.

The agent for a Cavs’ player who shall not be named made a point of grinning and insisting the Warriors are feeling the entire burden, and that’s not entirely true. The Warriors do need to justify their 73 wins this season, and true, they coughed up a 3-1 series lead. But they have a ring. Worst case scenario, they lose Sunday (8 PM EST, ABC) and bleed a little, then start next season with a strong and relatively young core good enough to reach the Finals again and be the favorites.

LeBron returned to Cleveland two summers ago to create a new image for a sobbing city with a sports inferiority complex, and that can only be secured with a championship. That’s heavy. That’s a burden. How many more times will he get this close game jerseys wholesale?

And he’s one win away.

“I don’t think people imagined it this way, the route we’ve taken,” he said.

He was the teenaged basketball messiah from Akron drafted No. 1 by the sad-sack Cavs and therefore planted a seed of hope. That initial tour of duty in Cleveland resulted in one championship appearance, where the Cavs were rudely swept by the Spurs, to be followed shortly afterward by a nasty defection to Miami. After living out his mid-life crisis with the Heat, winning two rings, LeBron returned two summers ago to a hero’s welcome only because Cleveland was just as miserable as when he left, maybe more wholesale basketball jerseys.

The Cavs last season were simply unlucky, harpooned by injuries and therefore ran out of gas last summer against the Warriors. LeBron was the most important player on the floor, then and now, especially the last two games, both 41-point masterpieces, forcing a winner-take-all Game 7.

His averages in this series: 30.2 points, 11.3 rebounds, 8.5 assists, 2.7 steals, 2.5 blocks in 41.2 minutes of heavy labor. He’s away from Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, his All-Star teammates in Miami who relieved him of all the leadership responsibilities and pressure, and blessed only with Kyrie Irving, which magnifies what he has already accomplished. Win or lose in Game 7, LeBron should be a strong favorite if not a lock for MVP — Jerry West is the only MVP winner on a losing Finals team — and jerseys wholesale usa he managed a wisecrack about that.

“The last time I answered a question about MVP, it didn’t go so well for me,” he said, “so I’m not going to do it.”

Why should he? His play speaks loudly and boastfully. If you combine this series with last summer’s, nobody has more points, rebounds, assists or blocks than LeBron. He shot only 40 percent last summer, mostly because he wore down from the load without Irving and Kevin Love, but is far more efficient now. Besides, his defense and especially shot-blocking has been brilliant if barely noticed from the outside; when the subject came up Sunday, he took the opportunity to mention his pet peeve: “I’ve been highly upset that I haven’t won Defensive Player of the Year.”

So yes, he cares about individual honors, another reason why he’s taking delight in outplaying Steph Curry, the only player to win MVP other than Kevin Durant and LeBron in the last six years.

LeBron is gunning for three trophies, then: Finals MVP, championship hardware, and a statue that will surely be built in Cleveland should he do the unimaginable. And yet, regarding that last piece of metal, he’s being cool about it, because he doesn’t want his teammates to deal with that gorilla. Deep down, maybe he doesn’t want the Win For Cleveland campaign to consume or suffocate him, either.

But it’s impossible to ignore what’s at stake.

“I came back for a reason, and that’s to bring a championship to the city of Cleveland,” he said. “That’s been one of my goals. But I don’t add too much pressure on it. You go out there and see what happens. I mean, if we win and we take care of business, that’s something that our city hasn’t had in a very long time.

“The word everyone likes to use in sports is ‘pressure.’ I don’t get involved with it. But I guess in layman’s terms, ‘pressure’ is an opportunity to do something special, and I’m fortunate that I can be in position where I can do something special.”

If you ask him, he’ll spend the hours leading up to tipoff in his very own chill chamber, barely noticing the fuss around him, unable to see Cleveland mobilizing itself 2,000 miles away, just in case. LeBron mentioned that he’s been inspired by watching “The Godfather” almost non-stop, and judging by the level of his performances of late, it wasn’t “Godfather III.”

One championship in Cleveland is worth, what: Five in Miami? A place on the basketball Mount Rushmore? Dinner for life in any Ohio restaurant? At the very least, every man and woman in Cleveland will suddenly develop amnesia regarding The Decision, if they haven’t already.

A group of fans burned his Cavs jersey when he announced he was headed to Miami, and the emotion that LeBron will generate, should he win Sunday, would be the complete opposite.

Lake Erie, the Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame, and LeBron. Those would be the everlasting Cleveland landmarks, and not necessary in that order.


Amari Cooper more confident heading into Year 2

Amari Cooper more confident heading into Year 2

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Oakland Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper made a splash in his rookie season, finishing with 1,070 yards — the first rookie to do so in club history — and earned a Pro Bowl bid wholesale jerseys.

Cooper’s hot season was slowed down after sustaining a foot injury last December — an injury that the Raiders considered shutting the rookie down for the remainder of the season.

The former first-round pick is channeling last year’s frustrating end into his performance at the team’s offseason workouts. Cooper’s earnestness and newfound wholesale sports jerseys confidence has not gone unnoticed by his veteran teammates.

“I always joked around last year that three years ago, he was in seventh period chemistry,” quarterback Derek Carr said per CSN Bay Area. “He’s a young guy, and he was just learning his way around but going to the Pro Bowl while doing it.

“He has (always been) very special, but now he’s more open. He’s more talkative. But everyone is like that their rookie year, no matter who it is. There is so much going on mentally in this game that a lot of guys are more reserved and quiet, not to us, but in general. Now, you see he and ‘Crab’ (Michael Crabtree) joking more because he is more comfortable.”

Veteran wideout Michael Crabtree has noticed Cooper’s wholesale jerseys us personality emerge as well. Crabtree says he’s eager to see what the receiving duo can produce this season.

“It’s one year and every year adds experience,” Crabtree said. “It’s one of those things when you have talent like that you just build off of it, really with the knowledge of the game. You’re getting smarter and different situations on the field, and I feel like he is doing that. I can’t wait to get out there with wholesale jersey outlet him in games and do our thing.”

Jake Arrieta lost Sunday, but his streak was really impressive

Jake Arrieta lost Sunday, but his streak was really impressive

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In the days between Chicago Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta’s past two regular-season losses, 481 pitchers lost a regular-season game wholesale jerseys.

Arrieta’s win streak ended at 20 straight decisions. Elias Sports Bureau research shows that only two pitchers have had longer win streaks: New York Giants Hall of Famer Carl Hubbell (24 from 1936 to 1937) and Pirates reliever Roy Face (22 from 1958 to 1959).

Arrieta’s 9-0 start to the season is an undefeated mark topped only once in Cubs history, by Jim McCormick in 1886.

Since July 26, Arrieta is 20-1 with a 1.14 ERA. He has allowed 97 hits in 174 1/3 innings. His .160 opponents’ batting average and .431 opponents’ OPS are both the lowest in baseball in that span authentic jerseys wholesale.

Arrieta’s 1.14 ERA is the best in the majors in that time. Clayton Kershaw ranks second (1.51). But it’s worth pointing out how much better Arrieta’s mark is than those of some pitchers who rank among the best in baseball. His ERA is more than a run better than Madison Bumgarner’s (2.26) and Stephen Strasburg’s (2.42), two runs better than Zack Greinke’s (3.14) and more than two runs better than Chris Sale’s (3.41).

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You might have read in John Jackson’s game story that Arrieta allowed nine hits on the 10 balls put in play against him. That was pretty unlikely.

Entering the day, the Cubs’ defense had converted 77 percent of the balls put in play against Arrieta into outs, a rate that ranked second-best among pitchers, behind Marco Estrada’s. Estrada carried a no-hit bid through seven innings against the Red Sox, and his team’s season rate now stands at 79.4. The Cubs’ out rate for Arrieta (73.6 percent) now ranks 17th.

One thing to keep an eye on sport jerseys wholesale

Recently, Arrieta’s slider has not been the super-invincible pitch it usually is, even though he has thrown it harder. He got two strikeouts with it Sunday but also allowed two hits.

Arrieta gave up one hit and got 35 outs on the 144 sliders (average speed: 88.6 mph) he threw in his first six starts of the season. Since then, he has allowed 12 hits and gotten 19 outs on the 111 he has thrown in his past six starts (average speed: 89.7 mph).