All posts by phnseo

Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson given no assurance he’ll finish season

Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson said he has received no assurances from the front office that he will keep his job for the remainder of the season, but is “not going there mentally” when it comes to his job security.

“Listen, I’ve been around this league a long time, 25 years I believe as a player and a coach, and we’re always based on and evaluated on our performance,” he stated.

“Right now, that’s obviously not my concern as far as that decision goes. That’s out of my hands. But what’s in my hands and in my control is getting the team prepared and ready for Green Bay this weekend.”

The Eagles are in the midst of a three-game slide that has dropped them to 3-7-1 on the season and into third place in the historically bad NFC East.

Quarterback Carson Wentz has regressed dramatically in Year 5 and the offense has tied a season low in points with 17 in each of the last three weeks.

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Pederson said that temporarily giving up playcalling is “on the table” — the first time he’s been open to the idea publicly — but suggested a modification there wasn’t imminent.

With facilities across the NFL closed Tuesday, Pederson did his day-after news conference from his home office.

In the background was a towering bookshelf lined with awards and memorabilia.

Dominating the scene just off to his right was a replica of the Lombardi Trophy — a not-so-subtle reminder of the unparalleled heights he helped lift this franchise to a short time ago.

It was with that backdrop that Pederson faced questions regarding his job security for the first time.

He has guided the Eagles to the playoffs in each of the last three seasons, starting with their Super Bowl run in 2017, but the offense has grown stagnant over the last two years. That has not gone unnoticed by owner Jeffrey Lurie, who skipped their Week 11 game at the Cleveland Browns in part out of frustration, sources told ESPN.

With the team reeling, there are some on the inside who believe that Pederson needs to lead Philadelphia to a division title in 2020 to keep his job.

“Our relationship is good. We communicate a lot throughout the week,” Pederson said of Lurie. “We have our typical weekly meeting and cover a lot of ground.

“But that relationship is good. Listen, some of these questions might be for Mr. Lurie obviously, but my job is to prepare the team and get ready for Green Bay.”

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Boston Celtics’ Kemba Walker out until January after stem cell injection in knee

Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge stated Tuesday that the upcoming NBA season will indicate how much of a long-term problem Kemba Walker’s left knee will be moving forward.

“I think this year will tell us a lot more,” Ainge said Tuesday morning of Walker, who the team informed will be out until at least January after he was given a stem cell injection and put on a 12-week strengthening program after last season ended.

“He saw some specialists over the last six or eight weeks, and they all came to the same conclusion, and I think that gave Kemba a great peace of mind as he went to different, really good doctors in our country and got the same opinions. He’s on a program, and he seems to be in a very good, happy spot.”

Ainge said the anticipation from those meetings was that surgery would not be necessary.

After the Celtics signed Walker as a free agent to a four-year max contract in the summer of 2019 to replace Kyrie Irving, he spent the latter portions of the regular season dealing with ongoing soreness in his left knee — particularly after the All-Star break — before the season was suspended March 11.

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Then, once teams resumed on-court work in late June ahead of the NBA restarting its season in late July, Walker had another setback with his knee, and was put on a minutes restriction both during the weeks leading up to the restart and throughout the seeding games inside the league’s bubble at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.

Walker looked very good versus the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the playoffs, but he struggled as the Celtics progressed throughout the postseason — particularly after taking a hard fall during the second round versus the Toronto Raptors when he appeared to tweak the knee.

Ainge stated it was possible Boston rushed Walker back too quickly for the bubble — a touchy subject in Boston, given the history surrounding Isaiah Thomas after his hip issues following Boston’s run to the Eastern Conference finals in 2017 — before almost immediately walking back his own statement.

But just when Walker’s season will start — and when he will be a full participant for the Celtics — remains very much up in the air. The Celtics said in their statement that Walker’s game-availability status will be updated in the first week of January, which is roughly when his 12-week strengthening program should end.

That doesn’t mean, however, that Walker is going to start playing 30-plus minutes a game. Instead, the expectation is that Walker will slowly be ramped up over time, in a similar fashion to the restart in Orlando.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Walker’s return was affected in part by the fact that the NBA season is getting started sooner than everyone had anticipated.

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Houston Texans WR Will Fuller, CB Bradley Roby suspended six games under NFL’s PED policy

Houston Texans wide receiver Will Fuller V and cornerback Bradley Roby have been suspended for six matches for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.

Fuller stated the violation was a result of his taking prescribed medication not permitted under the policy.

“Earlier this year, I sought treatment from a medical professional who prescribed medication that he believed to be permitted under the NFL’s drug policy,” Fuller wrote on Instagram.

“As it turns out, my trust in this professional was misplaced because this medication was NOT an acceptable substance under the NFL Policy on Performance Enhancing Substances.

“As a result of this mistake, I have been suspended for six games for taking this prohibited medication. I want to sincerely apologize to the Texans organization and all of my fans for this mistake. I am looking forward to putting this all behind me and returning better than ever in 2021.”

“His hunger to get on the end of things is the key for a centre-forward. Sometimes it hurts and sometimes it doesn’t but to score you have to be in there.”

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Roby, in a tweet Monday night in which he apologized to his family and teammates, stated that a “few months ago, I unknowingly used a product that was contaminated with a banned substance by the NFL. I recognize that it is my job to know, and be responsible for, everything I put in my body.”

Both suspensions will start with the final five games of this campaign and end with the first of the 2021 season.

Fuller, 26, is coming off his best game of the season — in a year full of impressive performances — versus the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving, when he added six catches for 171 yards and two touchdowns to his impressive 2020 totals.

Fuller has 53 receptions for 879 yards and eight touchdowns this season. Through 11 games, Fuller has more receiving yards and touchdowns than the Texans’ former No. 1 wide receiver, DeAndre Hopkins, had for Houston at this point last season.

After missing 22 games in his first four seasons in the NFL, Fuller had not missed a game this season.

He was playing on his fifth-year option and will be a free agent after the season. With Fuller suspended, Randall Cobb on injured reserve and Kenny Stills recently released, the Texans (4-7) are left with four wide receivers: Brandin Cooks, Keke Coutee, Isaiah Coulter and Steven Mitchell, who is on the practice squad.

With Roby, 28, suspended, the Texans lose their top cornerback and are left with Vernon Hargreaves and Phillip Gaines as their top two remaining players at the position. Cornerback Gareon Conley, acquired for a third-round pick during the 2019 season, has been on injured reserve all season.

In 10 games this season, Roby has 37 tackles, one interception and one fumble recovery. He signed a three-year, $31.5 million contract in March.

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DeMarlo Hale replaces Brad Mills on Terry Francona’s Cleveland Indians coaching staff

Indians manager Terry Francona has assembled his coaching staff for the 2021 season, but it won’t contain his longtime friend and bench coach Brad Mills.

Francona, who missed much of this past shortened season with significant health issues, will replace Mills with DeMarlo Hale. Hale, 59, joins the Indians after spending the past two seasons with the Braves.

Hale previously worked on Francona’s staff in Boston from 2006 to 2011, serving as bench coach in 2010 and 2011. Hale has also been with Texas, Baltimore and Toronto. Mills, who opted out of the 2020 season for personal motives, will remain with the Indians in a yet-to-be determined capacity.

“DeMarlo was one guy that I kind of thought that if I ever get back to managing again, this is a guy I’d like to have on my staff. He’s really good. He has an unbelievable way of not just communicating, but connecting with everybody,”

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Francona stated on a call from his home in Arizona.

Francona intends to return for his ninth season with the Indians.

He managed only 14 games this year due to a gastrointestinal issue requiring surgeries as well as blood-clot complications that landed him in the hospital for several days.

“I feel good. I’ve spent the last six weeks really working hard,” Francona said. “I told (Indians president of baseball operations) Chris (Antonetti) I needed to do that. I said, ‘Hey, give me until Thanksgiving just to make sure I’m OK.’ We’re coming up on Thanksgiving now and I’m doing pretty well.

“I’ve been active, lost some weight and feel like I’m putting myself in a better position to succeed physically over the course of a long season.”

With first-base coach Sandy Alomar Jr. filling in for Francona, the Indians clinched a wild-card spot but were eliminated by the Yankees.

Alomar, who has been a Cleveland coach for more than a decade, figured to be a candidate for a managerial job but didn’t get one.

That shocked Francona.

“I was borderline stunned that somebody didn’t try to hire him away from us this winter, because I thought he basically did a 54-game interview process and did it under the most difficult of circumstances and kind of aced it,” he said. “Now, for personal reasons, I’m glad he’s staying. I love having him on our staff.

“I guarantee you Sandy has as much or more responsibility than any first base coach in baseball, and there’s a reason, and that’s because he’s really good. … When you spend eight years with somebody you get to trust them a lot. So for personal reasons, I’m thrilled he’s back, but I am really surprised.’

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Detroit Lions fire head coach Matt Patricia, general manager Bob Quinn

The Detroit Lions have fired coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn, the team revealed Saturday.

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell will serve as the Lions’ interim coach, per an informed source.

Patricia’s firing comes two days after the Lions suffered a blowout loss to the Houston Texans on Thanksgiving Day, which put the team’s record at 4-7.

Patricia was asked about his job security in the immediate aftermath of the loss. “On behalf of my family, I want to thank Bob and Matt for their hard work and their dedication to the Lions organization over the past several years,” Lions owner Sheila Ford Hamp stated during a Zoom call presser Saturday afternoon.

“They’re both very fine men, and we wish them nothing but the best in the rest of their careers. Obviously, this season has not gone the way we expected. We want to take the rest of this year to assess every aspect of our football operation, find the best individuals to lead and coach our team.”

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Ahead of the 2020 season, Lions ownership made it clear to Patricia and Quinn that the team needed to be playoff contenders this campaign. After losing four of their last five after Week 12, ownership materialized the writing on the wall.

Patricia amassed a 13-29-1 record in his two-plus seasons as Lions head coach.

Patricia was hired by the Lions in 2018 after serving as the New England Patriots defensive coordinator for six years.

Patricia succeeded Jim Caldwell, who was fired by the Lions after four seasons as coach. Caldwell had three winning seasons during his time in Detroit and made the playoffs twice. Since Patricia’s hiring, the Lions rank in the bottom 10 in scoring, total and pass defense, and they are tied for fewest takeaways (43) in the NFL since 2018.

The Lions’ .314 triumph percentage during Patricia’s tenure ranked 27th in the NFL. Patricia has the worst career win percentage by any coach whose teams averaged 21-plus points per match in the Super Bowl era (minimum 40 games coached).

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New Orleans Pelicans sign Will Magnay to two-way contract

The New Orleans Pelicans are adding Will Magnay from the National Basketball League (NBL) in Australia to a two-way contract, according to ESPN’s Olgun Uluc.

The 22-year-old center posted a line of 8.1 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in an average of 21.8 minutes per match (27 total games) for the Brisbane Bullets. For those efforts, he was awarded the NBL20 Most Improved Player Award.

The numbers do not necessarily jump off the page alone; however, realize those statistics represent substantial improvement from Magnay’s 2018-19 campaign, where he was largely invisible in an average of 4.3 minutes a game. Not a known commodity to the average fan in the United States.

Magnay has sat on the radar of multiple NBA teams for some time.

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There were rumors last February that the Golden State Warriors were going to sign Magnay to a 10-day contract, but the deal never came to fruition. Then another false report was published prior to the restart inside the Orlando bubble that Magnay was likely to join the Dallas Mavericks.

Why are NBA teams so enamored with Magnay? Because the athleticism and talents stand out on his 6’10 frame. While he made only 6 of 32 three-point shots in the NBL, the jumper exhibits a good amount of rhythm and solid enough form.

It’s not difficult to understand what the Pelicans may see in Magnay. In a perfect world, his development continues to noticeably grow under their tutelage, where someday he’ll be able to carve out a meaningful role alongside Zion Williamson, offering stellar shot-blocking and some floor-spreading shooting ability.

If allowed to dream for a moment, can anyone else see a solid screener who will run aggressively to the rim and finish strongly as well as offer pick-and-pop potential out to the three-point line? I think I can, but now for a healthy dose of reality: it took Magnay several years in the NBL to finally make a mark.

This, after leaving the US following his freshman year at Tulsa to turn pro in Australia.

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Buccaneers’ A.Q. Shipley May Have Career-Ending Neck Injury

Tampa Bay Buccaneers center A.Q. Shipley may have suffered a career-ending neck injury during his team’s game versus the Los Angeles Rams on Monday.

Bucs head coach Bruce Arians provided the news on Sirius XM NFL Radio on Wednesday, per Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times.

“A.Q. Shipley appears to have had a career-ending injury,” Arians said. “And I feel bad because I love A.Q. He’s one of my favorite players of all time and was playing good for us. But I think it was a previous injury that might have just got aggravated in his neck.”

Arians told reporters postgame Monday that Shipley had suffered a stinger but would be OK.

The ex-Penn State lineman did not take part in Wednesday’s practice. Afterward, Arians statedthat the team would “see more on A.Q. [Thursday].” However, it appears Shipley’s prognosis has unfortunately taken a turn for the worse.

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While Williams will remain out for at least the next two weeks, the 49ers are hoping to get some reinforcements back from injured reserve soon.

The team opened the 21-day practice window for running backs Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr. on Tuesday, which means they could return as early as Sunday’s game versus the Los Angeles Rams.

Mostert and Wilson have been on injured reserve with high ankle sprains; Mostert’s happened in a Week 6 win versus the Rams, and Wilson’s came a week later against the New England Patriots.

Mostert has a team-best 303 rushing yards despite playing in just four games. Wilson has 163 yards rushing in six games.

The 49ers also signed safety Chris Edwards to the active roster on Tuesday. Edwards offers additional depth after the Niners placed strong safeties Jaquiski Tartt and Johnathan Cyprien on injured reserve in recent weeks.

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Cincinnati Reds, Colorado Rockies involved in four-player trade

The Colorado Rockies and Cincinnati Reds agreed to a four-player trade on Wednesday, the teams declared. The Rockies will get right-handed pitcher Robert Stephenson and outfielder Jameson Hannah in exchange for a pair of right-handed pitchers, in Jeff Hoffman and Case Williams.

Stephenson, 28 come February, is the most seasoned of the four personalities involved. He’s appeared in more than 100 big-league games to date, accumulating a 5.15 ERA while walking nearly five batters per nine.

Stephenson, who appeared on a handful of top-100 prospect lists before debuting in 2016, has turned into a two-offering pitcher: a slider that coerced whiffs on nearly half the swings taken against it last campaign, and a rising mid-90s fastball. He’s out of options but should make the Rockies’ Opening Day bullpen.

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Hannah, on the other side, will join his third organization since being drafted in the second round in 2018.

He had previously been part of the trade that sent Tanner Roark to Oakland in 2019. Hannah has some bat-to-ball skills, but he lacks the power projection necessary to forecast him as a starting corner outfielder. He also lacks the arm strength to play right field.

On the other side of the ledger, the Reds could give Hoffman another chance to make it as a big-league starter. He’ll turn 28 in January, and he’ll enter the new season with a career 6.40 ERA in 68 appearances.

Hoffman threw three pitches more than 10 percent of the time in 2020: a mid-90s rising fastball, a mid-80s changeup, and a curveball. Both of his secondary pitches posted whiff rates exceeding 30 percent. Hoffman is also out of options and will have to be on the Reds’ Opening Day roster or otherwise will be exposed to the waiver wire.

Williams was chosen in the fourth round of the 2020 draft. He’s yet to make his professional debut. 

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Brandon Allen to replace injured Joe Burrow at QB for Cincinnati Bengals

Bengals quarterback Brandon Allen will take over for the injured Joe Burrow as the team’s starter, a source confirmed to ESPN on Wednesday.

Allen, who has spent the entire campaign on the practice squad, will be making his fourth career NFL start on Sunday versus the New York Giants. The other three starts came with the Denver Broncos last season.

A sixth-round pick in the 2016 draft, Allen was picked up by the Bengals during training camp as a contingency option due to COVID-19. He was among the team’s final preseason cuts and was added to the practice squad.

NFL Network first reported that Allen would start for the Bengals. After the Bengals selected Burrow with the top overall pick in the 2020 draft, they opted not to add another quarterback to the 53-man roster.

On Monday, Bengals coach Zac Taylor said Allen filled that void because of the promotions allowed from the practice squad this season.

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“Whether he’s on the active roster or the practice squad doesn’t really matter,” Taylor said. “He’s still in the room doing that kind of stuff.”

Allen and Taylor have a familiarity with each other.

The two were with the Los Angeles Rams in 2017 and 2018, when Taylor was an assistant coach. Taylor noted Allen’s experience with the team’s system when discussing the quarterback options for the rest of the season.

Burrow was placed on injured reserve Monday after he tore multiple ligaments in his left knee during last weekend’s 20-9 defeat to Washington. A timetable for Burrow’s surgery or eventual return is still uncertain.

Allen earns the nod as Cincinnati’s starter over second-year quarterback Ryan Finley. Finley, a 2019 fourth-round pick, started three games in 2019 as the Bengals evaluated their quarterback options ahead of the 2020 draft.

Finley served as the team’s primary backup quarterback the past two seasons but was 3-of-10 passing for 30 yards versus Washington.

“He’s in a tough spot there in the second half, but that’s life as a backup quarterback,” Taylor said. “You’ve got to get yourself ready to go. There’s things that I wish I could put him in a better position to get a better opportunity, but the bottom line is we didn’t get it done and weren’t able to get any points there in the second half to help us win.”

Also Wednesday, running back Giovani Bernard was held out of practice with a concussion, the team said. It wasn’t clear if he would be able to play versus the Giants. If not, the likely starter would be Samaje Perine.

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Free agent Adam Wainwright uncertain of his future with St. Louis Cardinals

Longtime St. Louis Cardinals star and current free agent Adam Wainwright is in wait-and-see mode.

“I know the nature of the business of baseball with salaries, and not sure what the revenues will be like next year,” Wainwright told ESPN this week. “Or the fan situation.

“St. Louis is very dependent on their fan situation to bring in revenues to offset player costs. They said that, and I really believe them. They don’t have the billion, billion, billion dollar TV deals that some other teams do.”

Between 2013 and 2019, the Cardinals ranked second in the National League in attendance, behind only the Los Angeles Dodgers, despite playing in the 23rd-largest market in the country.

Like many teams, St. Louis is trying to thread the needle of putting a winning product on the field while being cognizant of revenue uncertainty, meaning the futures of both Wainwright and fellow longtime Cardinal Yadier Molina are up in the air.

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“They’re going to put a winning team on the field,” Wainwright stated. “It’s going to be interesting to see what they do, though. Yadier is a free agent too. We just don’t know what they’re going to be offering — or if they will offer.”

It’s the existing situation many free agents find themselves in, and they’re bound to have some company come Dec. 2, the deadline for arbitration-eligible players to be offered contracts for 2021.

Those who are non-tendered on or before Dec. 2 become free agents, meaning the market could be flooded with players who are in their peak years along with the older free agents like Wainwright. The expectation is teams will lighten their payroll obligations this offseason by letting go more players than ever.

“That’s what I’m expecting, yes,” Wainwright said. “There’s so much uncertainty among teams and players, it’s just going to be a wild ride. This is whole situation is different than anything we’ve ever faced.”

Wainwright broke in with the Cardinals in 2005, spending the entirety of his 15-year career with them. But that relationship is in jeopardy for the 39-year-old right-hander, who pitched well in 2020 despite all the difficulties, including a COVID-19 outbreak on his team.

“Every player has an expiration date,” Wainwright stated. “It’s just the nature of the game. You will never hear me say a bad word about the city of St. Louis or the Cardinals organization. They’ve done so much for me. They’re amazing people from top to bottom. I’ve been so blessed.”

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