Tagged in: camp

‘Stronger’ Kawhi Leonard ready to start training camp with rest of LA Clippers this week

Kawhi Leonard stated he “definitely got a lot stronger” after a season off and is ready to start training camp when the LA Clippers open practice on Tuesday.

In his first comments since media day prior to last season, Leonard said he is good to go for camp — which opens in Las Vegas — after missing all of last season due to a torn right ACL.

“Plan is tomorrow to start training camp,” Leonard said at Clippers media day before the team flew to Las Vegas. “For me individually, I’ll be participating in training camp. Then from there, just seeing how my progression is, how I feel, what I’m not feeling, is it moving correctly, and just keep going from there, just gradually building up.

“But right now, I feel good, and the plan is to start camp and play.”

Leonard is cleared to fully participate, but the Clippers will be cautious with their franchise star, who hasn’t played since tearing his right ACL in Game 4 of the second round versus the Utah Jazz on June 14, 2021.

“I feel stronger, for sure,” Leonard said. “It’s been, what, 14, 15 months of no basketball — well, playing in an NBA season for me, no basketball. That whole 13-, 14-month process is just lifting weights and getting stronger. I definitely got a lot stronger.”

Get all the latest Betting and Sport News updates on your social media outlets.

The two-time NBA Finals MVP said he isn’t sure how different of a player he will be once he returns to the court.

“Right now I feel good in my workouts, weightlifting,” Leonard said. “I don’t feel like I have a subconscious mind of not jumping off my leg per se. I feel good. We’ll just see how the season goes.

“And can’t really tell you how that’s going to work out.”

The Clippers have assembled perhaps the deepest team in the NBA.

Head coach Ty Lue could go 11 to 12 players deep on his roster, which is loaded with interchangeable veteran wings who can play both ways. And there are championship expectations on the Clippers and owner Steve Ballmer, who was walking around the team facility at media day on Monday.

In addition to Leonard and star guard Paul George, the Clippers have Norman Powell, John Wall, Reggie Jackson, Marcus Morris Sr., Ivica Zubac, Nic Batum, Terance Mann, Robert Covington and Luke Kennard.

“I think really that mindset of Team USA,” George said of how the Clippers might approach using their depth. “You take the best guys, and of course everybody is good and they’re all on teams, everybody is the star of their own teams. But when you put us all together, it’s how do I make you better now and how do I shine with this environment.”

“It should be a lot of fun with this team,” George added. “And should be a lot of good nights being a Clipper fan.”

Lue stated he did not know yet exactly how much Leonard will practice or play in the preseason but that it was good to know that he is feeling good again and the team will listen to how Leonard is feeling daily.

Leonard says he is ready to get back on the court, something he thinks possibly could have happened late last season if the Clippers had gone deep into the postseason. Leonard laughed after entertaining that notion. The Clippers, though, failed to make it out of the play-in tournament.

“I mean, it’s all woulda, coulda, shoulda right?” Leonard said when asked if he could have returned had the Clippers made the postseason. “But yeah, if they would have made it to the Finals last year, you would have seen me playing.”

Check WagerWeb and find the best online betting site.

Joe Burrow makes training camp debut for Cincinnati Bengals, participates in several drills

For the first time in training camp, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow practiced. Nearly three weeks after he had his appendix removed, Burrow donned his orange No. 9 jersey and participated in several drills throughout Sunday’s practice.

All of his work in team drills came in a 7-on-7 period that was more strenuous than coach Zac Taylor expected.

“We talked about doing two reps in 7-on-7,” Taylor said after practice. “And then he took 10. That’s how it goes sometimes.”

Previously, Burrow’s most notable work during practice occurred last Monday when he did some light tosses during an impromptu walkthrough.

On Sunday, Burrow decided to extend his limits.

Burrow took the entirety of the reps during that 7-on-7 drill. That also eased the workload on the rest of the team’s quarterbacks following Brandon Allen’s concussion in last Friday’s preseason game versus the Arizona Cardinals.

Burrow’s most notable passes were two long completions — one to veteran receiver Trenton Irwin and the other to rookie Kwamie Lassiter II. Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, who watched the bulk of Burrow’s throws during that 7-on-7 period, said having the team’s star quarterback took what the defense was willing to allow as the quarterback brought positive energy to practice.

Get all the latest Betting and Sport News updates on your social media outlets.

“It’s funny because every pass he threw today, I was calling it out before he threw it,” Chase, who also played with Burrow at LSU, said. “I think I still know him perfectly fine.”

The third-year quarterback wasn’t the only key player to make significant progress Sunday.

Wide receiver Tee Higgins participated in team drills for the first time. Rookie Cordell Volson also took over as the team’s starting left guard with Jackson Carman out.

Cincinnati is looking to replicate last season’s success that featured a Super Bowl run that Burrow spearheaded. The top overall pick in the 2020 draft completed 70.4% of his passes for 4,611 yards, 34 touchdowns and 14 interceptions as the Bengals played for the Lombardi Trophy for the first time in 33 years.

The Bengals have been hesitant to release any firm timetables for Burrow’s practice acclimation following the appendectomy July 26. Taylor said he was uncertain on when Burrow will return to full participation.

But he was with his teammates Sunday. It was the first time that Burrow, new tight end Hayden Hurst and all the returning players from last year’s Super Bowl run practiced together since organized team activities.

Said Higgins: “As soon as we got in the huddle I said, ‘Uh oh. We’re back.'”

Check WagerWeb and find the best online betting site.

Tyrann Mathieu reports to New Orleans Saints after missing start of training camp

New Orleans Saints safety Tyrann Mathieu reported for training camp and was practicing Wednesday after initially being excused to attend to what the team described as a personal matter.

Mathieu made his first appearance of training camp Wednesday morning after missing the first six practices of camp and getting to the team hotel Tuesday night. Saints coach Dennis Allen stated they were able to talk at the hotel and that Mathieu appeared to be in “good spirits.”

The 30-year-old Mathieu did not participate in 11-on-11 or 7-on-7 drills but went through the team walk-through and did individual drills with the defensive backs.

“He’s anxious to kind of get back here and get started,” Allen said. “We’ll go through a little bit of a ramp-up period with him, kind of let him get his feet up under him, but man, to have a player of his decorated ability back in the building is a positive.”

On Thursday, Mathieu spoke to the media for the first time since his return to the team on Wednesday, praising the support he has received from his coaches and teammates and saying he’ll go through a ramp-up conditioning period as he gets back into football shape.

Get all the latest Betting and Sport News updates on your social media outlets.

“Everyone was really supportive, teammates, former teammates,” Mathieu said. “Lot of different people just being supportive. Obviously that was a great feeling, to have that support. … I’m sure at some point I’ll be more transparent about the first six days of practice, but more important I’m just happy to be back and around the guys. I’m feeling good, I’m in great spirits, really healthy. Everything that’s important, it’s going good. I’m just in a good place and just all about ramping it up and getting back into it.”

The offseason addition of Mathieu to the Saints’ secondary was met with much fanfare in New Orleans, where Mathieu grew up and played in high school before starring in college at LSU.

The nine-year NFL veteran agreed to a three-year, $33 million free agent contract with the Saints in early May.

Mathieu was raised by his grandparents in New Orleans then became a star football player and track athlete for St. Augustine High School. He maintained deep ties to the city, enhanced through his charitable endeavors and football camps in the area.

He also has deep ties to LSU, where his tenacious play over two seasons earned him the nickname “Honey Badger.” As a sophomore in 2011, he was a Heisman Trophy finalist and obtained the Bednarik Award as the nation’s top defensive player. But his college career was cut short when then-Tigers coach Les Miles dismissed Mathieu in the summer of 2012 for repeated drug test failures.

Mathieu spent time in a Houston rehabilitation program, but it wasn’t until he was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in the third round in 2013 that he put his life together.

Mathieu became a dependable defensive standout for coach Bruce Arians and has since added two All-Pro nods with Kansas City to go with one earned in Arizona. He also has been named to the Pro Bowl each of the past three seasons. He wound up playing five seasons for the Cardinals before a year with the Houston Texans.

He signed with Kansas City as a free agent for $42 million over three years and immediately became the quarterback of the Chiefs’ defense, often relaying signals and directing the pre-snap alignment of defensive teammates.

Check WagerWeb and find the best online betting site.

Trey Lance on being named San Francisco 49ers’ starting quarterback

While San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan’s definitive declaration that this team now belongs to quarterback Trey Lance might have come as news to outside observers, it was just another day at the office for Lance himself.

“Honestly, the only difference is I was hoping you guys would stop asking me about it all the time,” Lance said Thursday. “For me, it wasn’t really a moment or anything like that. I’ve been excited. I’ve been preparing to play since the day I got here, since the day I got drafted. So, obviously excited for this year but nothing has really changed this whole offseason.”

Shanahan made that statement Tuesday, the day the Niners reported for the start of this year’s training camp. And though it had long been expected that Lance was ready to step in as the starter, Shanahan had previously declined to say it in such certain terms.

But with training camp’s arrival and the pending departure of incumbent starter Jimmy Garoppolo, who has passed a physical as he recovers from right shoulder surgery, nobody had much reason to further delay the unavoidable.

After taking all of the reps with the starting offense in the offseason program, Lance arrived at this camp knowing that the job was his and that every practice is a chance to prepare to lead a team that has Super Bowl aspirations.

Get all the latest Betting and Sport News updates on your social media outlets.

For right now, the objective for the Niners is to reinforce the fundamentals of Shanahan’s offense before turning an eye toward some of the additional skills — such as running — that Lance brings to the table.

“There’s certain plays you have to get good at just to succeed in this league and to move the ball,” Shanahan said. “And then what can Trey do differently than we’ve had? I do believe Trey is a threat to run at any time, so knowing that he is a threat to run at any time, that definitely changes things. That gives another element that defenses have to worry about.”

Lance’s first two days of practice as the confirmed starter have come with some ups and downs.

On Wednesday, he took 16 snaps in team drills, operating mostly from the pocket and appearing to be in control as he completed 5 of 7 passes during team drills.

On Thursday, Lance had a few more hiccups, including an interception he threw right to free safety Jimmie Ward and a couple of misfires to open targets that fell incomplete.

Lance was pleased with how the offense rebounded, and he drew large cheers from fans when he scrambled for a long run down the left sideline and again when he found receiver Brandon Aiyuk between two defenders on a deep out late in the session.

Despite the miscues, Lance stated he felt like Thursday was better than Wednesday, though he acknowledged the turnovers have to stop (the offense had three other interceptions in addition to Lance’s).

If nothing else, Lance can move forward confidently knowing he’s free to make and learn from mistakes without looking over his shoulder.

“Last year I was definitely in a different spot mentally, I would say,” Lance said. “Just feeling a lot more confident this year coming in knowing what I’m doing, knowing the offense a lot better, knowing the guys a lot better, having been around this organization and coaching staff for a year, I think it will be a great thing.”

As for Garoppolo, he has been in the building and continuing his throwing program but is not attending practice as the Niners seek a trade partner for him. Lance said he saw Garoppolo on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“It’s nothing weird at all,” Lance said. “I’ve never had anything I could possibly say that’s bad about Jimmy. He’s been a big brother to me since the day I came in, and he could have made things hell for me last year. He didn’t. He helped me out with everything so I’m super excited to see him healthy, I’m super excited to see him throwing again and super excited to see what he does.”

Check WagerWeb and find the best online betting site.

Green Bay Packers star LT David Bakhtiari on PUP list ahead of first training camp

Green Bay Packers All Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari’s return from the torn ACL in his left knee has hit another snag.

More than a year and a half removed from his injury, he’s still not in the clear. Bakhtiari was placed on the physically unable to perform list Saturday, according to ESPN’s Field Yates, meaning he almost certainly won’t be on the field when the Packers hold their first training camp practice on Wednesday.

Bakhtiari was injured in practice Dec. 31, 2020. It took more than a year for him to return to game action following his initial surgery. He played 27 snaps in last year’s regular-season finale — his only game action of the 2021 season — but then was shut down for the playoffs.

Get all the latest Betting and Sport News updates on your social media outlets.

The Packers held him out of all OTA and minicamp practices this offseason, letting Bakhtiari to work with the group of players rehabbing from injuries.

As recently as June, Packers coach Matt LaFleur stated the hope was that Bakhtiari would be ready for the start of training camp.

“Our plan all along was to hold him from [offseason workouts] and make sure he’s continuing to get stronger and ready to go hopefully for training camp,” LaFleur said. “We just thought that this is a guy that’s played a lot of ball and it’s best to hold him from this portion of it.”

Bakhtiari returned to practice briefly last fall but then underwent a second surgery to help reduce swelling in his knee. That delayed his return until the Week 18 game versus the Lions.

It’s uncertain whether Bakhtiari had another procedure done this offseason. The Packers placed nine players on PUP on Friday, but Bakhtiari was not one of them. They were: WR Christian Watson, TE Robert Tonyan, G/T Elgton Jenkins, K Mason Crosby, DE Dean Lowry, RB Kylin Hill, DL Hauati Pututau, OLB Randy Ramsey and RB Patrick Taylor.

Check WagerWeb and find the best online betting site.

New York Jets DE Carl Lawson expects to be ready for training camp after tearing Achilles last year

Nine months removed from Achilles surgery, New York Jets defensive end Carl Lawson won’t participate in OTA practices later this month, but he expects to be on the field for training camp in late July.

“I think I’ll be good to go, but it’s up to the organization and how they want to play it, what they want me doing and stuff like that,” Lawson said Wednesday on a Zoom call with reporters, his first interview since December.

“I’ll be ready to go when my number is called. Even when I was on one leg, I was ready to go.” Lawson is sprinting, according to coach Robert Saleh, but he’s still in the latter stages of his rehab.

The team will be cautious with Lawson, their marquee free-agent signing in 2021, which means there could be a ramp-up period once camp starts.

Get all the latest Betting and Sport News updates on your social media outlets.

The Jets had big expectations for Lawson after signing him to a three-year, $45 million contract, but he tore his Achilles last Aug. 20 in a joint practice with the Green Bay Packers.

He was finished before the season got started.

The defense struggled without him, finishing 32nd in yards allowed, 32nd in scoring and 26th in sacks.

This is a difficult injury for any player, let alone a pass-rusher who relies on first-step quickness, but Lawson is confident he can regain his old form.

“I’ve had major injuries before and I came back better,” said Lawson, who has rebounded from two ACL injuries. “This is different, but I don’t plan on not being better than I was. … But if I don’t, who knows? But I plan on being better than I was.”

Lawson dominated training camp before the injury, and he’s planning to go to school on that film. That, he believes, will provide a baseline for when he’s back on the field.

Check WagerWeb and find the best online betting site.

Philadelphia Eagles name Jalen Hurts starter

Eagles coach Nick Sirianni named Jalen Hurts the starting quarterback Tuesday after weeks of declining to do so, citing the importance of creating competition at every position.

“Jalen’s our starter. He’s done a great job,” Sirianni stated shortly after the roster was trimmed to 53 players.

“We wanted him to … take the reins and take advantage of the opportunity that he got, and we feel like the preseason he had, he did that. I consistently saw a player that got better every single day. I consistently saw a player getting better with his reads and his accuracy and his ability to run, and when not to run. He did exactly what we wanted him to do.”

This was the expected outcome, as Hurts took all of the first-team reps during training camp.

But multiple reports of the Eagles’ interest in Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson and the recent purchase of Gardner Minshew helped fuel the idea that the organization isn’t sold on the 23-year-old Hurts.

Get all the latest Betting and Sport News updates on your social media outlets.

Addressing the Minshew trade, general manager Howie Roseman stressed the team’s history of prioritizing the quarterback position, noting that depth is especially important amid a pandemic and heading into a 17-game regular season.

Roseman stated he spoke with both Hurts and Joe Flacco about acquiring Minshew, telling them “we thought it was an opportunity to get a good player and a good person at an important position.”

“[Hurts] was great,” Roseman said. “Jalen is all about the team and he’s very confident in his ability and very secure in where he stands with all of us.”

Minshew will start off as the third-string quarterback behind Hurts and Flacco, according to Sirianni.

As for his level of interest in Watson, Roseman said: “I think we’re very confident and comfortable with the quarterbacks we have on our roster. Any player that is on another team is property of that team, and we’re going forward with who we’ve got here.

“We’ll see what happens over the next 24 hours with the rest of our roster, but when we talk about that quarterback room, we think we’ve got a good blend of youth, of experience, of talented guys, and we’re excited to start this season and to see the players we have on this football team.”

Hurts, the team’s second-round pick in 2020, started four matches as a rookie in place of Carson Wentz. He completed 52% of his throws for 1,061 yards with six touchdowns and four interceptions while rushing for 354 yards and three scores.

Check WagerWeb and find the best online betting site.

Everson Griffen signs with Minnesota Vikings, says he regrets leaving to sign elsewhere in 2020

Veteran free-agent pass-rusher Everson Griffen signed with the Minnesota Vikings, the team revealed Monday.

The terms of Griffen’s contract were not disclosed.

Griffen, 33, was selected by Minnesota in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL draft and spent a decade with the Vikings. From 2010 to ’19, Griffen totaled 74.5 sacks, which ranks seventh in franchise history. He was named a Pro Bowler four times in Minnesota, including three consecutive seasons from 2015 to ’17.

In February 2020, Griffen opted out of his contract and became a free agent. He signed a one-year deal with the Dallas Cowboys in August 2020 and was traded to the Detroit Lions two months later. In 14 matches last season, Griffen registered six sacks, 33 tackles (seven for loss) and 14 quarterback hits.

Griffen said he was waiting for the “right fit” as a free agent and noted how difficult last year was having to move his family from Minnesota to Dallas to Detroit in the middle of a pandemic. His familiarity with the Vikings’ scheme and close relationship with players like Danielle Hunter and defensive line coach Andre Patterson drew him back to Minnesota.

Get all the latest Betting and Sport News updates on your social media outlets.

“Honestly, I wanted to be here,” Griffen said. “I really wanted to be here. I felt like this was the best fit for me throughout the whole league. I really wanted to be here and I’m excited to be back. I’m just happy that things worked out the way they did and they welcomed me back with open arms.”

As Griffen reflected on why he left Minnesota instead of taking a pay cut after opting out of his previous deal, the defensive end expressed regret with his decision.

“I left because I thought the grass was greener on the other side, to be honest, and it wasn’t,” Griffen said. “Going to Dallas, going to Detroit, the grass wasn’t greener. I didn’t get the love that I got here with the fans, with the coaches, with the players and the grass wasn’t greener. I learned I’m back home and I’m happy to be home. “

One of Minnesota’s top position questions in training camp is determining who will start opposite Hunter at defensive end. 

Stephen Weatherly and D.J. Wonnum have been the front-runners throughout the preseason, but the team left the door open for more competition at that spot when it brought in Griffen for a workout last week.

Wearing an unfamiliar No. 58, which he noted was a “little bit” weird, Griffen was at practice Monday and participated in light individual work. Coach Mike Zimmer said Monday that the Vikings plan to use Griffen as a “situational” pass-rusher. Griffen said he’ll play “wherever they want me.”

Griffen met with Vikings brass last week following his workout to confirm, “that my head was in it. That I’m in a good place.” The defensive end took a month-long hiatus during the 2018 season to focus on his health and wellbeing after the Vikings ordered him to undergo a mental health evaluation and two separate incidents involving police authorities led to him being hospitalized.

Griffen opened up about his struggles last year and told NFL Network that he lived in a sober house for three months starting in Oct. 2018.

Earlier this offseason, Griffen composed a handful of insulting tweets where he called Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins “ass” and claimed that Zimmer never wanted to sign the QB. The defensive end said he planned to speak to Cousins and apologize.

“I haven’t really talked to him yet but I’m going to get around to doing that,” Griffen said. “Apologize to him, apologize to Coach Zimmer, [general manager] Rick [Spielman] about what I said. I take full ownership in that. I’ve still got to talk to Kirk and apologize to him about that.”

Check WagerWeb and find the best online betting site.

New England Patriots CB Stephon Gilmore reports to training camp

New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who had skipped June’s mandatory minicamp, reported to the team on Thursday, a source told ESPN’s Field Yates. Gilmore was subsequently placed on the active/physically unable to perform list due to a partially torn quad sustained in December.

While the majority of Patriots players report for training camp on Tuesday, quarterbacks and players recovering from injuries were booked to arrive Thursday.

There was a question whether Gilmore, the 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, would report. He had stayed away from voluntary practices in the spring, as well as mandatory minicamp, while publicly expressing a desire for the team to upgrade his contract.

Get all the latest Betting and Sport News updates on your social media outlets.

Gilmore is scheduled to earn a base salary of $7 million in 2021.

The Patriots had advanced him $4.5 million of his 2021 salary last year, contributing to the under-market wage for this season.

Gilmore, who turns 31 in September, is in the final year of the five-year, $65 million contract he signed with the Patriots as an unrestricted free agent in 2017. The deal included $40 million in injury guarantees and $31 million fully guaranteed at signing.

At the time, a contract with those guarantees and an average of $13 million per season was viewed as a strong deal. The cornerback market has since exploded, with Jalen Ramsey of the Los Angeles Rams topping it with a contract averaging $20 million per season.

“I just want what I’m worth, however that plays out. Every player should be paid what they’re worth. That’s just how it is,” Gilmore told longtime NFL reporter Josina Anderson earlier in July.

Of his quad injury, Gilmore told Anderson: “I feel stronger than I’ve ever felt since the surgery. I’ve been running a lot, building full speed.”

Gilmore was one of eight players placed on the PUP list on Thursday, with quarterback Jarrett Stidham another notable player on the list.

Outside linebacker Chase Winovich, defensive tackle Byron Cowart, linebacker Terez Hall, tight end Dalton Keene, core special-teamer Brandon King and wide receiver Devin Smith were the other players placed on the PUP list.

Running back Rhamondre Stevenson (fourth round, Oklahoma), linebacker Cameron McGrone (fifth round, Michigan) and safety Joshuah Bledsoe (sixth round, Missouri) were rookies previously placed on the active/non-football injury list.

Check WagerWeb and find the best online betting site.

Cleveland TE David Njoku asks Browns for trade

Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku has demanded a trade before training camp, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Friday.

“It is in David’s best interest to find a new team at this time,” Njoku’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said, via Schefter. Training camps starts July 28.

The Browns would like to keep him, per the report. The team exercised Njoku’s fifth-year option in April, keeping him under contract through the 2021 campaign.

The news, however, reportedly wasn’t shocking to the Browns. According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, the team has known for about a year that he has been unhappy in Cleveland.

Njoku, who turns 24 next Friday, missed most of the 2019 season with a broken wrist and a concussion. The former first-round draft pick out of Miami has 93 receptions, 1,066 yards and nine touchdowns in 36 matches with the Browns. He started 14 of 16 games in 2018, his second season, and caught 56 passes for 639 yards with four touchdowns.

Get all the latest Betting and Sport News updates on your social media outlets.

It may be in Njoku’s “best interest” to leave because of who joined the team.

Cleveland added Pro Bowl tight end Austin Hooper in the offseason, reportedly agreeing to a deal minutes into the so-called legal tampering period. They agreed to a four-year, $42 million deal that made him the NFL’s highest paid at the position.

Then in the 2020 NFL draft, the team selected tight end Harrison Bryant out of Florida Atlantic in the fourth round.

Stefanski has said he has formations including three tight ends! Njoku is with a coach who is close to being obsessed with the position.

A healthy Njoku in the proper frame of mind is with an offense where he could have a huge season.

Njoku has to realize Berry was part of the 2017 Sashi Brown front office that traded up into the first round to grab him with the 29th pick. Berry was a significant talent evaluator for that front office and has a stake in Njoku playing well. It’s part of the reason the 2021 option was picked up. Berry thinks the 24 year old can play, period.

Check WagerWeb and find the best online betting site.