Tagged in: injury

Halep starts clay season with dominant win over Vondrousova

Simona Halep returned from injury to begin her clay-court season with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Marketa Vondrousova on Thursday to reach the quarterfinals of the Porsche Grand Prix.

The third-ranked Romanian was back on court for the first time since a shoulder injury forced her out of the Miami Open last month, and it was only her second match since her straight-sets loss to Serena Williams in the Australian Open quarterfinals in February.

“Starting the clay-court season makes me very happy and motivated, extra motivated actually,” Halep said in a post-match news conference.

“I missed playing matches. I had a few weeks without an official match and it was kind of tough when I started the match, but my mind was strong enough just to give focus on what I have to play. So, I did it great and today it was a great match.

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“I was a little bit nervous before the match because I played twice against her and she beat me every time.

There was no sign of rust as Halep wrapped up her victory over Vondrousova in less than an hour without facing a single break point.

Halep will play Ekaterina Alexandrova in the quarterfinals after the Russian upset eighth-seeded Belinda Bencic 6-1, 7-5.

Elina Svitolina came through a tougher test as she defeats three-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber 7-6 (4), 6-3. Svitolina was 3-1 down in the tiebreaker before winning six of the next seven points, and she didn’t face a break point in the second set. The fourth-seeded Ukrainian will face Petra Kvitova in the quarters.

Karolina Pliskova hit 21 aces as she beat former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko 6-7 (7), 6-4, 6-3 to set up a meeting with top-ranked Ash Barty.

Fifth-seeded Aryna Sabalenka swept past Anna-Lena Friedsam 6-4, 6-2. Sabalenka next faces Anett Kontaveit, who eliminated Sofia Kenin on Wednesday.

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Jadeveon Clowney, Cleveland Browns reach one-year deal worth up to $10M

Free-agent pass-rusher Jadeveon Clowney has signed a one-year deal with the Cleveland Browns, it was revealed Wednesday.

The deal is worth up to $10 million, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Clowney will have an opportunity to thrive playing opposite fellow former No. 1 overall pick Myles Garrett.

“I’ve been getting double-teamed an awful lot in this league, in my career,” Clowney said during his virtual news conference. “I’m looking forward to playing with somebody dominant on the other side in Myles Garrett who can draw a double-team. Maybe I can go one-on-one more.”

The 28-year-old Clowney visited with the Browns last month, sources told ESPN, but left Cleveland without a deal. General manager Andrew Berry also heavily pursued him last season to pair with Garrett, but the three-time Pro Bowler reportedly rejected Cleveland’s multiyear contract offer and ultimately signed a one-year, $13 million deal with the Tennessee Titans.

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“We’re excited to add Jadeveon to our defensive line,” Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said in a statement. “He’s a disruptive force that will help us against the run and the pass. We’ve been able to make some nice additions to our defense throughout free agency and we are looking forward to getting to work, so we can improve our team.”

Clowney struggled in 2020 with Tennessee, ending with 19 tackles and zero sacks in eight matches before suffering a season-ending knee injury in November.

He had surgery in December and is expected to be at full health for the start of the 2021 season.

“I feel great now,” Clowney said. “I’m looking forward to this season to prove to guys that I’m back healthy and I can still dominate in this league.”

Over the past three seasons, Clowney has ranked fifth in the NFL with a pass rush win rate of 25%, according to ESPN Stats & Information. During that span, Garrett ranks third, at 26%.

“We love his relentless style of play,” Berry said in a statement. “He’s one of the more disruptive players in the game and we think he’s going to add an element of ruggedness along our defensive line and will pair nicely with many of the guys we have on the roster already. The other thing we love about Jadeveon is his versatility, his ability to play all across the front and impact the game regardless of his alignment.”

Cleveland already bolstered its pass rush in free agency last month, signing Takk McKinley to a one-year deal. McKinley struggled with injuries last season but ranked seventh in pass rush win rate in 2018, one spot behind Clowney and four behind Garrett that season.

The No. 1 overall selection by the Houston Texans in 2014, Clowney can play any position along the defensive front, which makes him valuable to teams wanting scheme versatility. He is a disruptive player as an interior pass-rusher or coming off the edge.

Clowney has 255 tackles (75 for a loss), 86 quarterback hits and 32 sacks in his seven seasons. Over his career, he has dealt with various knee injuries in addition to groin, elbow, back and Lisfranc injuries.

The Browns now have three of the past seven No. 1 overall draft picks on their roster, involving quarterback Baker Mayfield.

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James Harden’s return for Brooklyn Nets short-lived due to ongoing hamstring tightness

Brooklyn Nets star James Harden played just four minutes before he was ruled out for the remainder of Monday night’s 114-112 victory versus the New York Knicks because of right hamstring tightness.

Harden’s brief return came after he missed the Nets’ past two games while dealing with the same tightness.

Before the match, Brooklyn coach Steve Nash stated Harden would not be on a minutes restriction and the team would monitor him throughout the night. “We definitely don’t want to wear him out,” Nash said before tipoff. “So we’ll try our best, which is very difficult to do sometimes. We’ll try to limit his minutes if we have the opportunity.”

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Nash reiterated both pregame and postgame that the imaging on Harden’s hamstring did not reveal structural damage, so the team looked to him and its training staff to decide when he felt well enough to play.

“So who knows — this may linger, it may be all behind us like we thought it was before the game,” Nash said. “But it’s just one of those things where the scan is clean, the strength tests are clean but he feels something, so we’re going to err on the side of caution.”

The Nets were already without Blake Griffin (injury maintenance), Kevin Durant (hamstring strain), Tyler Johnson (knee soreness) and Landry Shamet (ankle sprain).

Nash said that he does not anticipate playing Griffin in both halves of any remaining back-to-back games.

Harden, one of the frontrunners for league MVP, entered Monday’s game averaging 26.1 points, 8.9 rebounds and 11.2 assists for the Nets.

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Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry ‘still sore’ from tailbone bruise, out vs. Philadelphia 76ers

Golden State Warriors star guard Stephen Curry will miss Tuesday night’s match versus the Philadelphia 76ers because of a tailbone bruise — the third consecutive game he will sit out after suffering the injury in Wednesday’s victory over the Houston Rockets.

“He’s not going to play [Tuesday],” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after Monday’s practice.

“He did not practice today. He’s still pretty sore. And so we’re going to continue to list him as day-to-day, but still sore today and went through some activities in the training room, strengthening, and movement-wise. And he’s not ready to go … I talked to him today, he just said “It’s still sore.'”

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Curry, 33, suffered the injury after tripping over a riser and falling hard on his tailbone after taking an off-balance 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter Wednesday.

Despite the setback, Kerr stays optimistic that Curry will be back on the floor soon.

“It’s not something we’re concerned about,” Kerr said. “But it’s obviously going to take more time.”

Kerr did say there was an opportunity that young big men James Wiseman and Eric Paschall could play in Tuesday’s game after missing close to a week because of COVID-19 protocols. They have missed three straight games.

“Eric and James could possibly play [Tuesday],” Kerr said. “They were not allowed to practice today. We are hopeful that everything goes fine with their testing, which it has been, but they have to complete another couple of tests, and if they do then there’s a chance they’ll be available [Tuesday] night.”

Veteran big man Kevon Looney was back at Monday’s practice after missing Saturday’s game because of COVID-19 protocols. Looney stated he had a false positive and the rest of his tests have come back negative.

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LeBron James out indefinitely for Los Angeles Lakers after suffering a high ankle sprain

LeBron James has a high ankle sprain and is out indefinitely, the Los Angeles Lakers revealed Saturday.

James exited the Lakers’ 99-94 loss to the Atlanta Hawks in the first half after Solomon Hill collided with his right ankle. James knocked over a chair in frustration on his way to the locker room, and received X-rays and an MRI on the ankle after the match, sources told ESPN.

Hill was called for a foul with 10:50 left in the second quarter when the Hawks’ forward fell on James’ right ankle while trying to steal the ball.

James immediately shouted in pain and rolled off the court, clutching his right leg. The Lakers called timeout to check on the 18-year veteran, with several teammates, coaches and members of the medical staff trekking across the court to surround James while he was on the floor.

“I haven’t necessarily seen him scream and scowl like that probably ever,” teammate Kyle Kuzma stated.

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Several of James’ teammates took exception with Hill’s involvement in the play.

“A guy dove for a loose ball, took his leg out from up under him,” Montrezl Harrell said. “I really don’t feel like it was one of those loose-ball plays. He had to go through his leg to get the ball, man. He was turned sideways. The ball was behind him. I mean, you’re jumping at an angle, going across this way, I mean, I don’t know how you feel that’s a loose ball.”

Dennis Schroder concurred.

“That’s an unnecessary play to dive in the leg like that,” he said.

After the game, Hill tweeted a note to critics, who might have thought the move was deliberate.

James, 36, was able to stand on his own and limped back to the bench where he laced his sneakers and stayed in the matfh after the timeout.

On the Lakers’ first possession out of the timeout, James hit a 3 from the corner, lifting his stat line to 10 points on 3-for-6 shooting, keeping his streak intact of 1,036 straight matches — including Saturday — scoring 10 points or more.

The Lakers called another timeout shortly thereafter and James checked out of the game for good with 10:04 left in the second quarter, with his team trailing 34-30.

Shortly after, the Lakers made the announcement he would not return. The Lakers’ next game is on Sunday on the second leg of a back-to-back on the road versus the Phoenix Suns. James did fly with the team for the game, according to a team spokesperson.

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Washington Nationals’ Ryan Zimmerman ‘nowhere close’ to retirement after 2020 opt-out

Back with the Washington Nationals after sitting out last campaign because of COVID-19 concerns, Ryan Zimmerman said Thursday the time away made him realize he is nowhere close to being ready to retire at age 36.

“I missed the game a lot,” Zimmerman said during a video call. “I missed what it takes to prepare every day. As you get older, there’s more and more you have to do to get ready, but I missed all of that, as well.”

The two-time NL All-Star was one of the first players to opt out in 2020. The father of a newborn son, and the son of a mother with multiple sclerosis, Zimmerman decided the safest course of action would be to not play amid a pandemic. There were other factors he contemplated, including whether he would need to change his pregame and postgame routines.

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“Was it really worth it for me to risk injury to myself, the health of my family, at the time, for a season that was 60 games? Who knows if people really thought it was going to make it through? If people thought it was going to count as a real season?” Zimmerman stated.

“I don’t really second-guess or wish I would’ve played.”

Arriving in Florida this time around — he brought his wife and three children — raised new questions.

“You just didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know if I was going to be the weird guy wearing a mask in the grocery store,” Zimmerman said. “… I think a lot more people are more aware now — obviously of themselves, but I think of other people, as well.

Hopefully if anything positive can come out of this, maybe we’ll start caring about other people more, which would be nice. But as far as being down here now for two weeks, I feel a lot more confident than I did flying down here.”

Zimmerman, the first amateur draft pick in Nationals history in 2005, is expected to be the backup to free-agent addition Josh Bell at first base.

“He’s faced all the guys I’m going to face this year,” Bell said. “He knows all the umpires, he knows all the zones, he knows the division more than anyone else on this squad.”

Washington’s first exhibition match is Sunday versus St. Louis, and Zimmerman hopes to appear in more Grapefruit League games, but fewer innings. “He’s the face of this organization — and he will be for a long time. He really will be,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “To have him back here, have him in that clubhouse, talking to the young players, it’s awesome.”

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Tom Brady to have minor knee surgery during offseason

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady will undergo a minor surgical procedure on his knee this offseason, a source confirmed to ESPN.

The upcoming surgery was first reported by the Tampa Bay Times.

A source close to the situation told ESPN that this was not a recent injury and that Brady, who led the Bucs to a triumph Sunday in Super Bowl LV, had been planning the procedure for months. It wasn’t instantly clear which knee the procedure will be on.

Brady was not listed on the Bucs’ injury report all campaign. He was listed on the report as “not injury related” when he was given a handful of off days by coach Bruce Arians, something the Bucs also did with Rob Gronkowski, Ndamukong Suh and other veteran players.

Brady wore a brace on his left knee Wednesday during the Buccaneers’ Super Bowl boat parade.

But wearing the brace is not unusual for the 43-year-old Brady, who also wears it when golfing and during other recreational activities.

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Brady was named Super Bowl MVP for the fifth time in his career Sunday after passing for 201 yards and three touchdowns in Tampa Bay’s 31-9 triumph over the Kansas City Chiefs.

Brady’s knee certainly didn’t seem to bother him in the least during the Buccaneers’ Super Bowl run. He threw 10 touchdown passes and only three interceptions in four postseason games, with a passer rating of 98.1.

Brady has already said he’ll “definitely” consider playing beyond 45. With his longevity and durability, there’s no reason to doubt him.

With the victory, Brady has more Super Bowl titles (seven) than any franchise in NFL history, topping the six each won by the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots.

Brady also became the only player with five Super Bowl MVPs; Joe Montana is second all time with three.

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Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes to have surgery to fix turf toe

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes will reportedly undergo surgery on Wednesday fix a torn plantar plate in his toe — usually known as turf toe.

Mahomes injured his toe on Jan. 17, during the divisional playoff match between the Chiefs and the Cleveland Browns. He was initially limping on that foot, but the severity of the injury was never really addressed. Mahomes left that game soon after that injury due to a concussion, and the toe issue became an afterthought.

The turf toe didn’t seem to affect him for the rest of the playoffs. Mahomes was constantly scrambling during the Chiefs’ loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV and he looked just fine. However, the injury was reportedly “significant,” according to Rapoport.

“Hobbled” is a strong term, so it’s pretty impressive that Mahomes was able to handle himself that well with such a significant injury.

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Mahomes will reportedly be having surgery just three days into the offseason.

Getting it out of the way early will mean that he’s got more time to recover.

Rapoport only stated that Mahomes’ rehab time will be “several months,” which leaves a major question which is if he will be ready for the 2021 season.

Mahomes will obviously be limited in what he can do during at least part of offseason due to his toe. While he may be ready for the beginning of the 2021 season, we don’t yet know what his timeline is and when he’ll be able to get back to his normal offseason training program.

It’s possible that he could be slightly behind when he gets for training camp. But that’s a problem for the August 2021 Chiefs. For now, Mahomes is getting a nagging injury repaired and that will only make him better next campaign.

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Dallas Cowboys, Dak Prescott still not close to long-term deal

The Cowboys and Dak Prescott still are not close on a new deal to keep the star quarterback in Dallas long-term, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The Cowboys and Prescott were banned from negotiating a new deal during the season, but the sides were permitted to resume contract talks once Dallas’ disappointing season ended.

Sources told ESPN that the Cowboys still want to re-sign Prescott, who wants to stay in Dallas. But the sides still have plenty of work to do on a new deal, with a history of not being able to get it done.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones acknowledged last month that Prescott is in a good negotiating position, considering Dallas’ 6-10 record and the offense’s struggles after the two-time Pro Bowler’s season-ending leg injury.

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“I don’t know how you could have any more leverage,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan.

Prescott, who played this past year under the Cowboys’ franchise tag, suffered a dislocation and compound fracture of his right ankle in Week 5 versus the New York Giants.

He was on pace for his best statistical season, with 1,856 yards passing, nine touchdown passes and four interceptions, but the Cowboys were 2-3 in his five starts.

Once the sides did not reach an agreement on a contract on June 15, 2020, Prescott had to play this season on the $31.4 million franchise tag. The Cowboys offered Prescott a deal last year that sources said averaged $34.5 million a year, with a $50 million signing bonus and had $110 million in guarantees.

The biggest issue between the sides was the length of the deal. The Cowboys wanted five years; agent Todd France countered with four because impending television contracts are expected to significantly raise the salary cap in the future.

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Green Bay Packers fear LT David Bakhtiari suffered season-ending ACL tear in practice

The Green Bay Packers have lost one of the most important members of their high-powered offense, All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari, to what is alleged to be a season-ending knee injury suffered in practice on Thursday, a source told ESPN.

The primary diagnosis is a torn ACL, a source told ESPN, confirming a report by NFL Network. Bakhtiari will still need to undergo further tests to confirm that preliminary diagnosis.

The Packers added Bakhtiari to the injury report after Thursday’s practice. During the portion open to reporters, there was no apparent issue. Coach Matt LaFleur spoke before practice and will next take questions from reporters on Friday.

The Packers (12-3), who lead the NFL in scoring at 31.6 points per game, would be the NFC’s No. 1 seed if they triumph their regular-season finale on Sunday at the Chicago Bears.

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But now they’ll have to do it without their best non-skill position player on offense.

It comes just six weeks after they signed Bakhtiari to a record-setting, four-year, $103.5 million contract extension, making him the highest-paid offensive lineman in NFL history.

The 29-year-old, who was drafted in the fourth round in 2013, has been either first- or second-team All-Pro each of the past four years. He was named a Pro Bowl starter when the selections were revealed last week.

When Bakhtiari missed three games earlier this season because of broken ribs, the Packers played Billy Turner at left tackle. Turner has been a regular starter on the right side, at both guard and tackle.

Most recently, Turner has started the past four games at right guard, while Rick Wagner has started at right tackle. However, Wagner suffered a knee injury in Sunday’s victory over the Tennessee Titans and was a limited participant in practice. Another option would be to move Pro Bowl left guard Elgton Jenkins to left tackle.

Jenkins has played everywhere but right guard this season, having played 599 snaps at left guard, 286 at center, 31 at right tackle and 26 at left tackle, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

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