Tagged in: arizona

Arizona Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins suspended six games for violating PED policy

Arizona Cardinals star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins has been suspended six matches for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs, the league announced Monday.

The suspension comes four days after the Cardinals traded their first-round pick in the 2022 draft to the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday for wide receiver Marquise Brown.

Hopkins will be permitted to play during the preseason and practice with the team until the beginning of the 2022 regular season.

Hopkins, a three-time first-team All-Pro and five-time Pro Bowl selection, is set to turn 30 on June 6 and is coming off an injury-riddled season that led to the lowest output of his career.

He missed three games in the middle of last season with a hamstring injury and the final four games of the regular season, plus Arizona’s wild-card loss to the Los Angeles Rams, after suffering an MCL injury in Week 14 on Monday Night Football.

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The knee was surgically repaired in December.

In February, while making interview rounds at the Super Bowl in Los Angeles, Hopkins said on SiriusXM NFL Radio that his rehab was going great and he was ahead of schedule.

Hopkins concluded with 572 yards and eight touchdowns on 42 catches a year after having 1,407 yards. Arizona went 3-4 without Hopkins during the regular season and was then blown out in the playoffs, losing 34-11 to the Rams.

Before his injuries, Hopkins was as good in 2021 as he has been in the past, or better. He had a higher catch percentage, yards per target and yards after catch per reception through Week 8. He was down slightly in yards per route, from 2.1 in his first eight seasons to 2.0 last season.

In two seasons with the Cardinals since they got him from the Houston Texans in 2020, Hopkins has 157 receptions for 1,979 yards and 14 touchdown catches.

Hopkins missed just two games in the first eight seasons of his career before missing seven last season.

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Arizona Cardinals release starting inside linebacker Jordan Hicks

The Arizona Cardinals released veteran linebacker Jordan Hicks on Wednesday.

Hicks, 29, played at a high level last season, registering 116 tackles and four sacks, but the Cardinals are making the move to give fellow inside linebacker Zaven Collins, drafted in the first round last year, more playing time.

The Cardinals had told Collins he would be the starter last season after selecting him 16th overall. Hicks said last year he was “pissed off” when initially told he had lost his starting job to Collins.

He requested a trade, which never happened, and the seven-year veteran ended up starting all 17 matches.

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By getting released now, Hicks will be able to sign with another team before free agency officially starts next week.

The move will save the Cardinals $6.5 million on their salary cap but also will leave $3 million in dead money on their books.

Hicks signed with the Cardinals in 2019 and posted more than 100 tackles in all three seasons with Arizona, including a career-best 150 his first year there.

He spent the first four seasons of his career with the Philadelphia Eagles, who selected him in the third round of the 2015 draft. He missed 21 regular-season games due to a variety of injuries during his time with the Eagles but didn’t miss a game (all starts) in three seasons with the Cardinals.

Hicks has career numbers of 638 tackles, 10.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles and 11 interceptions.

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Titans rally from 10 down at half, edge 49ers 20-17

Coach Mike Vrabel heard that his banged-up Tennessee Titans were being written off after the left side of their offensive line was ruled out a day before hosting the streaking San Francisco 49ers.

Then they lost their backup left tackle to a positive COVID-19 test Thursday morning, forcing them to use their 52nd different starter and 88th player this campaign.

“We’re not dead yet,” Vrabel said. Alive and kicking.

Randy Bullock booted a 44-yard field goal with 4 seconds left and the Titans rallied from a 10-point halftime deficit to defeat the 49ers 20-17 Thursday night. The Titans (10-5) are a win or a Colts’ loss away from clinching their second consecutive AFC South title despite losing three of their past four games to drop from the AFC’s top seed to third. Indianapolis plays Arizona on Saturday. Tennesse moved to second in the AFC.

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Ryan Tannehill threw for just 40 yards in the first half but finished with 209 yards and a TD for Tennessee. A.J. Brown caught 11 passes for 145 yards hours after being activated off injured reserve, and his 18-yard TD catch gave Tennessee a 17-10 lead early in the fourth.

“It was all on us and we just had to make a play,” Brown said. “Then we had to make another play. That was the mindset. Just come out here and make plays, so that’s what we did.”

The Titans also picked off two passes, sacked Jimmy Garoppolo twice and forced the Niners to turn it over on downs once.

San Francisco had one final chance. Garoppolo completed a 16-yard pass to Pro Bowl receiver Deebo Samuel, who fumbled, starting three laterals before Jayon Brown finally tackled Brandon Aiyuk to end the game.

The 49ers (8-7) lost for the second time in seven games as they try to hold onto a wild-card berth in the NFC. Their loss ensured a playoff berth for Dallas, which can clinch the NFC East with a victory over Washington on Sunday night.

Garoppolo tied it with a 2-yard TD pass to Brandon Aiyuk with 2:20 left, a score set up by a 56-yard catch-and-run by Samuel down to the Tennessee 6.

This was the Niners’ first loss after leading by 10 or more at halftime under coach Kyle Shanahan — they had been 18-0 in the regular season and playoffs with those leads. They hadn’t blown such a lead since Week 14 of 2016 to the Jets under Chip Kelly.

Garoppolo knows the Niners had their chances.

“It’s tough when you let one like this slip away,” Garoppolo said. The Niners led 10-0 at halftime, their first time shutting out an opponent in the first half since the 2019 NFC title game against Green Bay. That also marked four straight scoreless quarters for the Titans.

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Diamondbacks a perfect 4-0 against Phillies after 8-7 win

Carson Kelly hit a two run-homer and drove in three runs, Nick Ahmed added a two-run blast and Zac Gallen pitched five strong innings in his first start in his hometown, leading the Arizona Diamondbacks to an 8-7 victory over the slumping Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday night.

Asdrubal Cabrera, Josh Rojas and Drew Ellis had RBI singles as the Diamondbacks pounded Phillies pitching for 15 hits.

Gallen (2-7), who grew up in nearby Pennsauken, New Jersey, needed 103 pitches to get through five innings. He permitted just three hits and no earned runs while striking out six.

It’s been a long year for Arizona (44-85), but the Diamondbacks have been perfect versus the Phillies this season, winning all four contests, so far. Since 2017, Arizona is 18-5 against Philadelphia, the best record against the Phillies of any team in baseball in that span.

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Jean Segura hit a two-run home run to supply the brunt of offense for the Phillies (62-63), who have lost seven of nine to fall 5½ games behind the idle Atlanta Braves in the NL East.

Philadelphia is 4-11 since winning eight in a row and moving into first place earlier this month.

The Phillies tried to mount a comeback by taking advantage of two Arizona errors in the ninth inning. They added unearned runs on a fielder’s choice by Freddy Galvis, two-run double by Bryce Harper, and a two-run single by Didi Gregorius. But Philadelphia couldn’t finish it off as Noe Ramirez struck out Brad Miller with the tying run on base to earn his first save since 2018 when he was with the Los Angeles Angels.

The Diamondbacks jumped all over Phillies starter Matt Moore (2-4), tagging him for four runs and seven hits in just four innings.

Moore was pressed into emergency starting duty after scheduled starter Zach Eflin was scratched just a couple hours before the match with inflammation in his left knee.

Ahmed’s homer was a big blow in the fourth inning, as he crushed a 1-2 fastball from Moore to the deepest part of the ballpark in left centerfield for his fourth homer of the season to make it 4-0.

Kelly’s homer, his 10th of the season, seemed to put the game out of reach in the eighth inning, but turned out to be the game-winning RBI. Kelly also had an RBI single in the sixth inning to restore Arizona’s four-run lead after Segura’s homer an inning earlier.

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Arizona Cardinals sign ex-Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner

The Arizona Cardinals added much-needed depth in the backfield on Tuesday when they agreed to terms on a one-year deal with former Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner.

Conner, 25, will be paired with Chase Edmonds to form the Cardinals’ 2021 backfield. It’s expected that they’ll share reps and responsibilities in coach Kliff Kingsbury’s offense that asks running backs to be both rushers and receivers.

Conner will reunite with Cardinals running backs coach James Saxon, who was his position coach in Pittsburgh in 2017 and 2018. He received a one-year, $1.75 million contract, including a $500,000 signing bonus and $1.25 million salary fully guaranteed, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

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Connor went to the Pro Bowl in 2018 under Saxon’s guidance after rushing for 973 yards and 12 touchdowns, tied for the third most in the NFL that season, and while catching 55 passes for 497 yards and a touchdown in 13 matches.

Arizona was in need of another running back after letting Kenyan Drake go in free agency. He signed with the Las Vegas Raiders.

Conner, 25, joins the Cardinals after spending the past four campaigns with the Steelers. In 50 career games (33 starts), he rushed for 2,302 yards and 22 touchdowns on 532 carries (4.3-yard average) and caught 124 passes for 963 yards and four touchdowns.

A third-round pick out of the University of Pittsburgh who was named to the Pro Bowl in 2018, Conner becomes the latest well-known veteran to join the Cardinals.

The team previously signed edge rusher J.J. Watt, a five-time Pro Bowl selection and three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, wide receiver A.J. Green, a seven-time Pro Bowl selection, cornerback Malcolm Butler, a two-time Super Bowl champion, along with kicker Matt Prater, guard Brian Winters and safety Shawn Williams.

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J.J. Watt agrees to two-year contract with Arizona Cardinals

Free-agent pass-rusher J.J. Watt has agreed to a two-year contract with the Arizona Cardinals, the team revealed Monday.

Terms were not disclosed, but a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the deal is worth $31 million and includes $23 million guaranteed.

“I’m excited to get started,” Watt said on the tarmac after the plane landed. “Very excited to get started, get to work, get to know the people of Arizona.”

Watt, 31, was released by the Houston Texans, who granted his request on Feb. 12, ending his 10-year run with the franchise.

Four days later, Watt’s former Texans teammate and current Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins posted a photo of himself and Watt photoshopped in a Cardinals uniform on Instagram with the caption: “Let’s finish what we started…” Hopkins reacted to Monday’s news by tweeting: “Life is good in Arizona!”

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Watt will reunite with Vance Joseph, the Cardinals’ defensive coordinator, who was the Texans’ defensive backs coach during Watt’s first three campaigns in Houston.

In Arizona, Watt will be paired with fellow pass-rusher Chandler Jones, who leads the NFL in sacks since he was drafted in the first round in 2012 with 97. Second during that span is Watt with 95.5.

Watt’s addition meant minimal variations to the Cardinals’ odds for the 2021 season from Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill. Their odds to win the Super Bowl stays 40-1 and to win the NFC remain 20-1. Arizona’s odds to win the NFC West moved from 7-1 to 6-1, still the longest odds of the four teams in the division.

“The one thing I can promise you is I’m going to work my ass off every single day to make you proud,” Watt said. “Very proud to be a part of the ‘Bird Gang’ and the ‘Red Sea.'”

In 2020, Watt ranked 15th out of 119 qualified pass-rushers in pass rush win rate, according to ESPN Stats & Information. He concluded the season with five sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception he returned for a touchdown. He has been plagued with injuries recently, having played 16 games in a season only twice since 2015.

After the Texans drafted Watt with the No. 11 pick in 2011, he became the face of the franchise, winning three NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards from 2012 to ’15. Watt is one of three players to collect that award three times. A five-time Pro Bowl selection and five-time first-team All-Pro, Watt was by far the most productive pass-rusher in Texans history with 101 career sacks.

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San Francisco 49ers signing Josh Rosen to back up C.J. Beathard

Whether or not he wanted to make a modification at quarterback, San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan has no choice but to turn to third-stringer C.J. Beathard for Saturday’s game versus the Arizona Cardinals.

That’s because Beathard is the only healthy quarterback on the active roster. Desperate for a quarterback to back him up, the 49ers are signing Josh Rosen off the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ practice squad, sources tell ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Field Yates.

Beathard’s return to the starting lineup comes almost a year to the day after his brother Clayton was stabbed to death outside a bar in Nashville, Tennessee.

“To go through what he did last year and then to go right into quarantine and to come right to us with the season, I know it’s been a huge challenge for him,” Shanahan said. “And I’m excited he’s going to get an opportunity this week. I have got as much respect for C.J. as anyone I’ve ever been with as a person and as a player, and it’s going to be fun working with him this week.”

Shanahan stated Tuesday that quarterback Nick Mullens is dealing with a right elbow injury that could require Tommy John surgery and will cost him the final two games of the campaign. Team doctors are waiting for the swelling to go down in Mullens’ elbow before determining the severity of the injury and what surgery will be required.

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Complicating matters was Tuesday’s news that practice squad quarterback Josh Johnson has been placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, with a source telling ESPN’s Adam Schefter that he tested positive for the virus.

That means he can’t be activated in time for Saturday’s game.

And while the Niners opened the 21-day practice window for starter Jimmy Garoppolo to return from the high ankle sprain that landed him on injured reserve, it’s unlikely that Garoppolo will play in either of the final two matches.

“Right now, he’s safe to go out to practice, which we’re only having a walk-through today, but it will be fun for him to throw the ball around a little bit,” Shanahan said. “But we’re going to be very safe with him this week. We’ll see next week, but I’d be very surprised if that changes.”

Because of the NFL’s COVID-19 protocols that require players to go through a six-day testing period before they can be activated, the Niners can’t sign a quarterback off the street, leaving them with just the option of signing a quarterback off another team’s practice squad.

Rosen was taken by the Cardinals with the 10th overall pick in the 2018 draft and traded to the Miami Dolphins in 2019 as Arizona selected Kyler Murray No. 1 overall.

The Dolphins released Rosen in September and he was later signed by the Bucs for their practice squad. Rosen has made 16 career starts and appeared in 20 regular-season games overall, throwing for 2,845 yards with 12 touchdowns and 19 interceptions while completing 54.8% of his pass attempts.

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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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Los Angeles Dodgers expect Cody Bellinger to be ready for spring training

Cody Bellinger’s pennant-winning home run in Game 7 of the NLCS proved costly. The Dodgers outfielder on Tuesday had surgery on the right shoulder he dislocated during the celebration of said home run.

The surgery was performed in Los Angeles by Dr. Neal ElAttrache, the team informed. Bellinger is expected to start rehab in Arizona next week.

Bellinger’s home run off Braves right-hander Chris Martin in the seventh inning of Game 7 of the NLCS gave the Dodgers a 4-3 lead, which a few innings later became the third National League pennant in four years for Los Angeles.

After hitting the home run, Bellinger exchanged forearms with A.J. Pollock, then did so more aggressively with Kiké Hernández near the on-deck circle. The forearm bash was so hard, Bellinger dislocated his right shoulder, something he’s done before in his career, but on defense at first base.

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After the home run, Bellinger played the final two innings of Game 7 on defense after trainers popped his shoulder back into its socket.

Bellinger and the Dodgers downplayed the injury, and he was cleared to play all six matches of the World Series. But he was just 3-for-22 (.136/.208/.273) versus the Rays, after hitting .250/.365/.545 in the Dodgers’ first 12 playoff games. That Fall Classic performance included a home run in Game 1, after which Bellinger toned down the celebration, opting to exchange toe taps with his teammates.

“I said it before the game, if I hit one today, I’m not touching anyone’s arm. I’m going straight foot,” Bellinger said at the time. A 10-week recovery time for Bellinger would have him ready by the end of January, still with some time before spring training initiates.

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DeAndre Hopkins, Cardinals Agree to Reported 2-Year

The Arizona Cardinals have signed receiver DeAndre Hopkins to a two-year extension, the team announced Tuesday.

The deal is worth $54.5 million, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. The $27.25 million per year is the highest annual salary in league history for a non-quarterback. The deal includes $42.75 million in guarantees.

Hopkins also told reporters his contract contains a no-trade clause and a clause that won’t let him to take the franchise tag.

Added to the three years left on his present contract, the extension gives him $94 million over the next five seasons for an average of $18.8 million per year, via ESPN’s Adam Schefter. He is now signed through 2024.

Arizona acquired Hopkins this offseason in a trade with the Houston Texans, also receiving a fourth-round pick, in exchange for David Johnson, a second-round pick in 2020 and a fourth-round pick in 2021.

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Texans head coach Bill O’Brien said the receiver’s interest in a new deal caused the trade.

“It was in the best interest of our team,” the coach said in April. “DeAndre Hopkins was a great football player. We loved DeAndre Hopkins. He had three years left on his deal, and he wanted a raise.”

The 28-year-old only has a $12.5 million cap hit for 2020, which ranks 14th among receivers, per Spotrac.

Ed Werder of ESPN reported he was seeking $18-20 million per year, which is what he got when added to his current deal.

Hopkins has been one of the top players at his position since entering the league in 2013, earning four Pro Bowl selections and making the All-Pro First Team in each of the last three years. He had over 100 catches in 2018 and 2019 and has remained durable with only two missed regular-season games in seven years.

He will play a crucial role in the Cardinals passing attack alongside Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk, trying to provide some stability for second-year quarterback Kyler Murray.

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