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Miami Dolphins OL Austin Jackson, TE Adam Shaheen hit reserve/COVID-19 list

The Miami Dolphins placed offensive lineman Austin Jackson and tight end Adam Shaheen on the reserve/COVID-19 list Monday, sources told ESPN’s Field Yates, potentially leaving them short-handed as the team prepares for its Week 1 match versus the New England Patriots.

The Dolphins confirmed the moves Monday and also elevated cornerback Jamal Perry as a COVID-19 replacement.

“We think he can help us,” Dolphins coach Brian Flores said. “At the end of the day we’re going to do what we feel is best for the team and bring guys up who can help us. We felt that way about him so we brought him up.”

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The NFL Network reported that Shaheen tested positive for COVID-19, which means he’ll miss Sunday’s game as he is unvaccinated and must quarantine for 10 days, according to NFL policy. It is not yet clear whether Jackson is on the reserve/COVID-19 list as a result of contact tracing or a positive test.

Jackson started 12 games as a rookie in 2020 after being selected 18th overall by the Dolphins.

He was slated to once again start at left tackle for Miami this season.

For Shaheen, who came to Miami via trade last offseason, this marks a second stint on the reserve/COVID-19 list in as many months after he was deemed a close contact in August.

Shaheen has also vocally opposed getting the vaccine, calling his decision “bigger than just COVID.”

“For me, it’s a personal choice, and it’s bigger than just COVID,” he said. “The NFL is trying to push it. … I’m going to continue to go through the protocols of the unvaccinated that they make me do. I’m not going to get fined.

“But they’re not going to strong-arm me into doing something for more freedom when this is such a changing atmosphere, and they’re already taking away freedoms of the unvaccinated guys.”

“I would never question Adam’s commitment to the team,” Flores stated. As for Jackson, if he is unable to meet the requirements to move off the reserve/COVID list, Flores said, “We’ve got a few different options.”

The Dolphins plan to work different combinations of linemen in practice this week and Flores called potential replacement Greg Little a “hard-working kid” who has “had some bright moments in the couple weeks that he’s been here.”

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Atlanta Falcons quarterback AJ McCarron ‘heartbroken’ after right knee injury in preseason defeat

Atlanta Falcons backup quarterback AJ McCarron left the game in the second quarter of Saturday night’s 37-17 defeat to the Dolphins with a right knee injury at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium.

While Falcons coach Arthur Smith didn’t want to speculate on the exact nature of McCarron’s injury until after the veteran has an MRI, he did not sound encouraged by the possible prognosis.

“I really feel for AJ McCarron,” Smith said. “Any time something like that happens and it’s non-contact, it’s tough when you know what these guys put into it. I feel for AJ. We’ll obviously get the MRI to confirm but he’s heartbroken.

“He had bounced back and he was out there fighting, fighting for his team and trying to get the extra yards.”

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The injury came with 10 minutes left in the first half.

McCarron handed the ball off to running back Qadree Ollison and as he came out of his typical movement following the handoff he grabbed his right knee.

McCarron tried to walk toward the sideline but couldn’t initially get there. Falcons medical staff came to examine him and he walked off to the sideline. Minutes later, McCarron walked slowly to the Atlanta locker room. He completed 3-of-6 passes for 43 yards and had one run for seven yards versus the Dolphins. The run came a play before he hurt his knee.

Smith stated he wasn’t sure whether that play had anything to do with McCarron’s injury. McCarron was replaced by undrafted rookie Feleipe Franks, who he had been battling with for the No. 2 position throughout training camp. Franks, who was initially projected to play the second half, entered the game with 10 minutes left in the first half instead.

Franks completed 4-of-9 passes for 46 yards, no touchdowns and one interception while also rushing three times for 32 yards. He was sacked four times.

“The one thing that Feleipe has shown is that he can extend plays,” Smith said. “I thought he threw the ball a little bit better tonight at times. Still got to push him where he’s had a lot of growth and will continue to grow.”

Smith said in order to develop quarterbacks, you have to play them and that was the philosophy with Franks over the first two preseason matches. Smith said unfortunately the situation Franks faced Saturday — being forced to play earlier than expected due to injury — is what his role would be as a backup quarterback sometimes.

The Falcons signed McCarron to a one-year deal for more than $1.21 million on April 30 — hours prior to the second day of the NFL draft — to be No. 2 on the depth chart. A fifth-round pick out of Alabama in 2014 by Cincinnati, McCarron has played in 17 games, starting four and completing 62.6 percent of his passes for 1,173 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions.

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Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator Chan Gailey resigns

Veteran assistant coach Chan Gailey has resigned after one year as Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator, the team informed Wednesday morning.

This means the Dolphins will have a new offensive coordinator for the third consecutive season under coach Brian Flores as they continue to find the right scheme and playcaller to get the most out of rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.

“I want to thank Chan for all of his hard work and dedication in what was a unique year,” Flores said in a statement. “He played an important role on the staff and in the development of our young roster. I wish him all the best.”

Gailey’s resignation comes less than 24 hours after Flores said he expected all of his assistants back for the 2021 season — barring any surprises. It’s unclear whether Gailey’s departure comes as a surprise or whether the team had been planning for this possibility.

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When Gailey was asked multiple times throughout the season whether he planned to return in 2021, the 69-year-old was noncommittal, commenting only that this was the most unusual season of his coaching career given the COVID-19 pandemic and its ripple effects.

Flores hired Gailey, who was a former head coach of the Bills and Cowboys, out of retirement in January 2020 to replace offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea.

The Dolphins will now start evaluating their own staff and possibly external candidates to find a new offensive coordinator. If Miami looks to promote internal options, tight ends coach George Godsey and running backs coach Eric Studesville are the top candidates.

Godsey took on an increased role coaching Tagovailoa over the second half of the campaign, and he was often seen breaking down the previous drive with the young quarterback on game days.

Tagovailoa went 6-3 as a starter, but all five of his interceptions came in the final four games, including three in the season-ending loss to the Bills.

Earlier this year, Flores also lauded Studesville as a “phenomenal coach, teacher and communicator” who has a future as an offensive coordinator and head coach.

The 2020 Dolphins finished 22nd in total offense (339 yards per game) and 15th in scoring (25.3 points per game). Gailey’s offense didn’t appear to bring out the most in Tagovailoa in their short time together. Now the 22-year-old will have a new playcaller and a full offseason to learn under him.

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Heat aim to close out Celtics in Game 5

The Miami Heat can earn their first appearance in the NBA Finals since 2014 when they duel the Boston Celtics in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Friday night at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando.

The fifth-seeded Heat inched closer to a shot at their fourth NBA title by holding off the third-seeded Celtics 112-109 on Wednesday night for a 3-1 lead in their best-of-seven series.

Miami, which gained championships as the East’s second and first seed in 2012 and 2013, respectively, is trying to become the first team seeded fifth or lower to reach the NBA Finals since the eighth-seeded New York Knicks lost to San Antonio in 1999.

The last team seeded fifth or lower to win an NBA title was Houston in 1995, when it beat Orlando as the West’s No. 6 seed. Miami has never lost a playoff series in which it led 3-1. The Heat held such an advantage over top-seeded Milwaukee in the Eastern semifinals, then needed just one more game to eliminate the Bucks.

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The last time the Celtics found themselves in a 3-1 hole was last season versus the Bucks in the Eastern semis.

Milwaukee closed out the best-of-seven in the next game.

Boston hasn’t rallied to win a series after trailing 3-1 since defeating the Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Finals in 1981. The Celtics went on to beat Houston in the NBA Finals that campaign.

One of the Heat’s concerns in the wake of Wednesday’s victory was the condition of center Bam Adebayo’s sore left wrist. Miami coach Erik Spoelstra reported Thursday that his big man was fine as he attempted to treat his club’s workout session on the eve of a potential NBA Finals-clincher as just another day.

“We stuck with our routine,” Spoelstra noted. “Everybody got the treatment, rest. Today is another day for rest and recovery. Everybody knows what to expect for (Game 5).” Game 6, if necessary, is arranged for Sunday afternoon.

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Celtics defeat Heat in game 3 on Eastern conference finals

After falling 2-0 behind in the series following Thursday’s defeat, Celtics players apparently aired their frustrations in a raucous locker room and it seemed to do the trick as they were never behind in a 117-106 triumph.

The Celtics were also boosted by the return of Hayward, who scored six points in 31 minutes of a welcome return from an ankle injury that has kept him out since August 17.

“I didn’t expect to play him that much,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens.

“I thought he looked pretty good, he asked to come out a couple times – the wind caught up to him a couple times – but I thought he did what he’s done all year.”

Kemba Walker scored 21 points and Marcus Smart 20 as the Celtics, for whom Tatum added 14 rebounds, shot 48.2 per cent (41 of 85) as a team, outscoring Miami 60-36 in the paint.

“I’m extremely tired right now, my ankle is pretty sore, but I’m proud of the way we fought and proud of us getting the win,” Hayward stated.

“They are a hard-playing team, they compete. They are obviously extremely well coached and they don’t give up.

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“I think they also have a lot of guys that can get going, especially from the outside, so leads aren’t safe and they can score in bunches, as we’ve seen in the first two games.

“Tonight, I think me personally, just trying to help us offensively, being somebody who can get in the paint, create, also trying to help us rebound, bring the ball up. I think if we can run, that can’t set their defense and we have so many good athletes, so many guys that can score and bring up the ball – it makes it difficult for them.”

For Miami, Bam Adebayo had 27 points and 16 rebounds, while Tyler Herro scored 22 to lead six players in double figures for the Heat, who had just their second defeat in 12 playoff matches en route to their lead in the Eastern Finals.

“We didn’t play hard enough,” said Jimmy Butler, who had 17 points, eight rebounds and three assists.

“We weren’t playing basketball the way that we have been to win the games that we have been winning.”

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Dolphins LB Vince Biegel expected to miss season with torn Achilles

Practice was cut short for Miami Dolphins linebacker Vince Biegel on Tuesday after he had to be carted off the field. Unfortunately, it seems the injury was as feared.

According to Josh Tolentino of TheAthletic.com, Vince Biegel will miss the entire 2020 NFL season after suffering a torn Achilles.

The loss of Vince Biegel deals a major blow to the Dolphins’ linebacker corps heading into the 2020 season. He proved to be quite the acquisition when he was included in the deal for linebacker Kiko Alonso with the New Orleans Saints and this spurred them to sign him to a restricted free agent tender this offseason.

The former fourth-round pick was slated to compete for a starting job after registering 59 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 13 quarterbacks hits and an interception.

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Vince Biegel’s absence will open things up for outside linebackers Andrew Van Ginkel and potentially Emmanuel Ogbah to take over the bulk of the snaps on the edge.

Regardless, expectations remain tempered for this young team following an unprecedented offseason due to the restrictions placed in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Vince Biegel is not the only notable player missing from the defense thus far in training camp with cornerback Xavier Howard still on the physically unable to perform list. Howard continues to recover from the knee surgery he had in December and there is still plenty of speculation regarding whether or not he is on track for the season opener versus the New England Patriots.

If Howard isn’t able to play to start the season, rookie first-round draft pick Noah Igbinoghene and second-year player Nik Needham would be the top options to start for him. Top free-agent signing Byron Jones is expected to lock down one cornerback spot.

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Miami Marlins cancel game as coronavirus spreads

The Miami Marlins’ home opener versus the Baltimore Orioles, set for a 7:10 p.m. first pitch Monday night, was canceled as COVID-19 has spread through the team, according to multiple reports.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported Monday morning that at least 10 more positive cases — eight players and two coaches — surfaced after the team’s latest round of testing on Sunday. That comes after four players received positive test results during the team’s trip to Philadelphia, including three starters finding out before Sunday’s series finale.

The team had already previously changed its flight back to Miami from Sunday night to Monday morning. They were waiting for results to come in from their latest round of COVID-19 testing Sunday morning. Results from the rapid tests normally take between 12 and 24 hours.

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The Marlins remain in Philadelphia and continue to undergo testing after their weekend series there.

That new flight, initially set to depart at 11:10 a.m., was canceled before 9 a.m. Monday

According to MLB’s operations manual for the season, players and staff members are not permitted to travel or access club facilities following a positive test until after they have two negative tests at least 24 hours apart, show no fever for at least 72 hours, complete an antibody test and are cleared by a team physician as well as the MLB COVID-19 joint committee.

The Marlins were already going to be without the services of Urena, catcher Jorge Alfaro, who was placed on the injured list before their season opener on Friday, infielder Garrett Cooper and outfielder Harold Ramirez. It’s possible that the infections occurred Wednesday on the team’s trip to and from Atlanta, where the Marlins played the Braves in an exhibition game.

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