Tagged in: play

Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers (toe) sits out practice, plans to play vs. Vikings

Whatever happened to Aaron Rodgers’ toe during his COVID-19 quarantine — and he won’t say exactly what it was — kept him from practicing on Wednesday and kept Green Bay Packers coach Matt LaFleur from working on the timing he considers was lacking in the offense upon Rodgers’ return last week.

Rodgers was asked repeatedly about his toe during his weekly appearance on the “Pat McAfee Show” on Tuesday, and then sat out practice on Wednesday. Although it was technically considered a jog-through session, the Packers said he would not have participated even if it had been a regular practice.

The only thing Rodgers would say Wednesday was that it was his toe injury, and nothing else, that kept him out of practice.

“I’m not sure what my status will be tomorrow or Friday, but I’d like to get out there if I’m feeling good enough,” Rodgers said. “But it’s definitely a better week than last week being separated (during the quarantine), being able to go through all the meetings. I plan on being at practice on the field tomorrow, not sure how much involvement I’ll do though.”

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While he stressed that it would not keep him out of Sunday’s match versus the Vikings, Rodgers could go another week without any significant practice time.

Packers receivers Davante Adams and Allen Lazard also showed up on the injury report because of shoulder issues. Adams was listed as limited, and Lazard did not participate.

Those developments came after LaFleur stated some of the Packers’ struggles on offense in the 17-0 win over the Seattle Seahawks were due to a lack of practice time.

“We gotta get back out on the practice field,” LaFleur said earlier this week. “We need those guys just to continue to work on the timing portion, making sure that the details of our route depths and our assignments are on point because I think right now if you just look at the offense as a whole, there is opportunity out there for us. I know we can execute at a higher level. I know we can coach at a higher level. We’re just a little bit off with some of the details, and I think that’s really kind of hurt us throughout really, specifically [on Sunday] but even throughout the course of the season.”

Rodgers hasn’t taken part in a full-length practice in nearly a month.

His last regular practice came on Oct. 22 — two days before the game versus Washington. The Packers didn’t have any practices — only half-speed sessions during a short turnaround — leading into the Thursday night game at Arizona on Oct. 28.

After a weekend off, they held only a short jog-through session the following Monday, Nov. 1. After a day off Tuesday, Rodgers tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday and didn’t return to the team until the day before the Seahawks game.

The Packers managed just three points in the first half against Seattle, and Rodgers finished the game with no touchdown passes and threw an uncharacteristic interception in the end zone.

It has been a long stretch for the Packers, who have two more games before their Week 13 bye — the second-to-last possible off weekend. Still, Rodgers said his only issue is the toe and he felt fine coming back from COVID.

“Obviously, the body is really looking forward to that, as is my toe,” Rodgers said. “But we’ve got two games until then. It’s kind of a day-to-day how I’m feeling, whether or not I’m going to practice, but I didn’t find any issues with recovery, standard Monday and Tuesday, as I’ve done throughout the season. So I feel good wind-wise. I definitely took a few shots on Sunday, but I feel good today on Wednesday.”

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Russell Wilson not being limited in Seattle Seahawks’ practice this week, and ‘looks pretty good’

Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll stated quarterback Russell Wilson is not being limited in practice this week in his return from an injury to his right middle finger.

Wilson practiced on Monday for the first time since his Oct. 8 surgery.

“I’ve just seen him in the walk-through since then and you would never have known,” Carroll said before Wednesday’s practice. “So I don’t know what that means yet, but he looks pretty good.”

Carroll stated earlier in the week that the plan was for Wilson to play Sunday versus the Green Bay Packers assuming all goes well this week. The Seahawks would need to activate Wilson off injured reserve by Saturday to make him eligible.

Because he is not on the active roster, the Seahawks aren’t required to include Wilson’s level of participation on their daily practice reports. But Carroll answered in the affirmative when asked whether Wilson is a full participant. Wilson was not seen wearing a glove during the portion of Monday’s practice that was open to reporters.

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“He doesn’t have to wear anything unless he chooses to,” Carroll said. “He has been experimenting with some stuff just to see what’s out there for him.”

The Seahawks on Wednesday designated running back Chris Carson for a return to practice.

Carson has missed the past four matches with a neck injury and was placed on IR the same day as Wilson, making both players eligible to return for the Green Bay game.

“He’s got to make it through the week of work and like we always talk about, it’s a one-day-at-a-time thing,” Carroll said.

“He’ll get banged around a little bit tomorrow, but just see how he responds to it. It’s pretty important to get a good bead on this one. He’ll feel good physically running around and all that because he’s in great shape and he’s been working really hard, so it’s just how he responds — same old thing — and how his body reacts to the workload.”

Carroll said Carson has gotten through the discomfort he was dealing with in his neck.

“That’s why he’s back and hopefully it’ll stay that way,” the coach said. He said he didn’t know whether Carson would have to be on a so-called pitch count whenever he returns.

The Seahawks designated rookie receiver Dee Eskridge for a return to practice on Monday. Seattle’s second-round pick hasn’t played since suffering a concussion in the opener.

He made two trips to a concussion specialist in Florida to work through issues he was having with his vision. Eskridge practiced Monday and was feeling good enough to practice again Wednesday, per Carroll.

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England’s perfect World Cup qualifying run ended by late Poland equalizer

Poland scored a stoppage-time equalizer to bring an end to England’s perfect start to World Cup qualification and secure an important 1-1 draw in Warsaw.

Gareth Southgate’s side, who lost the Euro 2020 final to Italy on penalties in July, had won their opening five matches in Group I.

Harry Kane’s long-range effort in the 72nd minute had them on course to extend that to six games before Damian Szymanski struck in the 92nd minute to earn Poland an unlikely draw.

“An amazing feeling. I’m glad we managed to score that goal in the last minutes. I’m happy,” Symanszki said. “I’ve worked hard for this, struggled with injuries. To play against England, to score a goal, it’s a dream come true.”

This was England’s toughest test in Group I so far with Poland set up to frustrate through defensive play and gamesmanship but the visitors looked set to come through and take a big step towards next year’s World Cup finals.

England’s efforts were frustrated in the opening 45 minutes as they failed to trouble Wojciech Szczesny in goal for Poland.

The hosts’ main threat, Robert Lewandowski, meanwhile, was restricted to one half-chance, which was tidily dealt with by Jordan Pickford.

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A fast-paced but uneventful first-half burst into life just as the referee whistled for half-time with England and Poland players coming together. 

Harry Maguire appeared incensed about something, while Poland defender Kamil Glik was called back by the referee as he tried to leave the pitch. Eventually things settled down and both players were cautioned.

There was an incident just before half-time which has been reported to the FA guys,” Kane said postmatch. “They’re taking care of it and investigating it and we’ll go from there. Allegedly it was something that was done, not said. We haven’t chance to look at the footage and talk to the lad.”

England stepped things up after the break with Jack Grealish and Raheem Sterling troubling the Poland rearguard but, again, without really causing Szczesny too much cause for concern.

That was until the 72nd minute when Kane’s powerful, swerving shot flew past the former Arsenal goalkeeper from 32 yards out to put England in front.

It was the 15th consecutive qualifier, for Euros and World Cup, in which Kane has scored and it looked to have brought a sixth straight victory in this campaign.

England have 16 points from six games with Albania second on 12 points, Poland on 11 and Hungary on 10 points. The top team in the group qualifies for next year’s World Cup in Qatar with the second place team heading into the playoffs.

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New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone: Not sure whether Clint Frazier will play again amid vision issues

Yankees manager Aaron Boone isn’t clear that Clint Frazier will be able to play baseball again after the outfielder was pulled from a minor league rehab assignment Monday amid continuing issues with his vision.

“We’ll see,” Boone said when asked whether Frazier would play again. “Obviously he’s been through a lot and been through a lot of seeing a lot of people and a lot of testing and everything. We’ll just try and continue to follow and support him where we can. But as of right now, a little holding pattern. I know he feels well today, so we’ll just see.”

Frazier, 26, started a minor league rehab assignment last Tuesday after missing nearly six weeks due to dizziness and other symptoms consistent with vertigo. He went 4-for-10 over three games, but Boone stated Frazier felt unwell prior to Sunday’s game with Double-A Somerset and took himself out of the lineup.

Frazier was formally pulled from the rehab assignment Monday and transferred to the 60-day injured list. “Just didn’t feel like he was good enough to post,” Boone said before New York played the Los Angeles Angels on Monday.

“And so, decided to pull the plug, and we applaud him for making that decision.” Boone said before New York played the Los Angeles Angels on Monday. “And so, decided to pull the plug, and we applaud him for making that decision.”

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Frazier was placed on the injured list July 1 with what was initially called vertigo and later defined as a possible vision issue.

He missed nearly all of the 2018 season with lingering concussion symptoms, but it’s not clear whether his current concerns are related.

A 2013 first-round pick by Cleveland, Frazier hit well in 2019 but was banished to Triple-A for much of the season following several defensive miscues.

He finally cracked New York’s crowded outfield for regular playing time in 2020 and shined. He batted .267 with a .905 OPS and steadier defense in left and right field, earning an everyday role for the 2021 season.

The breakout has fizzled this year. Frazier hit .186 with five homers and a .633 OPS in 66 games before going on the IL.

Also Monday, right-hander Luis Severino (right shoulder tightness) had an MRI as planned. Boone said the team hoped to review the results before the end of the night.

Catcher Gary Sanchez (COVID-19 IL) hit on the field and could be activated Tuesday for a doubleheader versus the Boston Red Sox.

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Seattle Seahawks cut DE Aldon Smith for off-the-field matter

Aldon Smith’s hopes of continuing his NFL comeback with the Seattle Seahawks are over.

The team waived the veteran defensive end, it announced, with sources telling ESPN the move was due to an off-the-field matter. The decision is not football-related but rather the result of Smith violating the team’s trust, according to a source.

The 31-year-old Smith has faced alcohol and legal issues for much of his NFL career, including an arrest in April on a second-degree battery charge in Louisiana.

That incident occurred shortly after the Seahawks signed him to a minimum-salary deal hoping that he could keep his personal life in order and continue his career revival, which started last season with the Dallas Cowboys after he missed the previous four seasons because of NFL suspensions. Smith has been staying in a sober living home in Seattle, as he did last season in Dallas.

While speaking with reporters on July 31 for the first time since signing with the Seahawks, Smith said his “tremendous support staff” helps him with his ongoing attempt to remain sober.

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“For me, it was just making myself vulnerable and being willing to trust and lean on [those] people,” he said. “I’ve always had people that were there, but I would always try to carry everything on my shoulders. So letting people help me and accepting that help was a major game-changer.”

Smith had been impressing the Seahawks with his play during training camp.

“Really good” was how one team source last week described how Smith was looking on the field. He played in the Seahawks’ mock game Sunday at Lumen Field and practiced Tuesday after the team’s day off.

Smith is scheduled to be arraigned Aug. 24 in connection to his April arrest in Louisiana. He is accused of choking a man unconscious during an altercation that started inside a New Orleans-area coffee shop. According to the police report obtained by WWL-TV, Smith had confronted the man about marital issues the man was having with one of Smith’s relatives.

Two days before that incident, the Seahawks signed Smith to a one-year, $1.1 million contract that included $137,500 guaranteed.

Smith did not take part in the Seahawks’ voluntary offseason program — many of their veteran players declined to take part until the final week — and received an excused absence from their mandatory minicamp in June. Coach Pete Carroll said Smith was not physically ready to practice at the time.

After Smith worked himself into shape heading into training camp, Carroll commented about how hard Smith had worked to get his body ready and how quickly he was picking things up. But Carroll also conveyed the reality that given Smith’s troubles with alcohol, there was more to his quest for a roster spot than what he showed on the field.

“We really sense that the more we can support him, the more, obviously, we can be there for him, the stronger it makes him,” Carroll said July 31. “So that’s really what our intent is here.”

The Louisiana arrest was the latest of Smith’s several legal issues, which have contained multiple DUI arrests and a domestic violence charge. The NFL suspended Smith for parts of the 2014 and 2015 seasons and from 2016 to 2019 for violations of its policies on personal conduct and substance abuse.

He returned to the NFL last season with the Cowboys and had five sacks in 16 games, with three coming in one game against Seattle and all of them coming in the first half of the season. Smith set an NFL record with 33.5 sacks over his first two seasons and has 52.5 sacks in six seasons.

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Denver Broncos LB Von Miller ‘at peace’ if this is final year with team

Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller reported for his 11th campaign Tuesday, and while he has always hoped to be a “Bronco for life,” he says as he enters the last year of his contract that he wants to play several more years and is “at peace” if that is eventually somewhere else.

“I would like to keep playing. Whether that’s here with the Denver Broncos or somewhere else, I’m totally at peace with that,” Miller stated as the Broncos’ veteran players reported Tuesday for training camp. “I want to play five to seven more years, I think I said that a couple weeks ago.”

Miller, who was the Broncos’ first-round pick in the 2011 draft, is the team’s longest-tenured player. The Broncos engaged his contract option for the 2021 season in March, the last year of the six-year, $114.5 million deal he signed in 2016 several months after he had been named MVP of Super Bowl 50.

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He turned 32 in March, is about to be a father and said he wants to keep playing so his future son will be able to see him play.

But after worrying about his future for most of the summer of 2020, Miller said he’s taking a calmer approach this time around, even as he hopes to finish his career with the Broncos.

“I’m not really thinking about this is the last year of my contract, [or] will I be with the Broncos,” Miller said. “Last year, to be honest, that was really on my soul. I really wanted, I really wanted — of course I want to be here. I want to stay here for the rest of my career, but getting past that is kind of a release for me.”

Miller had powered through a bevy of offseason workouts in 2020 in hopes of leaving his eight-sack season in 2019 behind and helping end the current Broncos playoff drought, but he suffered a season-ending ankle injury days before the season opener and did not play in a game. His eight-sack total in ’19 was the lowest since 2013, when he had five.

Broncos coach Vic Fangio has already predicted Miller is again poised to have a big year in 2021, and general manager George Paton said picking up Miller’s option was an easy decision. “We wanted Von to be a Bronco … he’s going to have a Pro Bowl-type season,” Paton said earlier this year.

“Sitting out last year, it really helped me be at peace,” Miller said Tuesday. “Being at peace and being content, they are two totally different things. I feel like you can be at peace with whatever happens, but you still want to go out there and lead the league in sacks, you still want to get Defensive Player of the Year, still want to get all this crazy stuff, but I’m at peace with whatever happens.”

With 106 sacks in 135 career matches, Miller is the Broncos’ all-time sack leader, and he enters the 2021 season as the league’s active sack leader, five ahead of J.J. Watt.

Since Miller missed the 2020 season and Broncos outside linebacker Bradley Chubb missed most of the 2019 season with a knee injury, Miller has plenty of optimism for what the two may be able to do together in the defense this year. Chubb was named to his first Pro Bowl last season.

And in the 20 games Miller and Chubb have played together, they have combined for 29.5 sacks.

“He looks ready to go, I’m ready to go, this might be the one … I’m excited to see the things me and Bradley can do,” Miller said. “I feel great … I’m still running the same, still lifting the same as those guys. …” Miller added later.

“I’m hoping to play another five to seven years, maybe even more. I don’t want to put a number on it — if it’s less, it’s less. I’m at peace I’ve played in the league long enough. I’ve been in the league 11 years, so every single year after this is just a true blessing. I want to play a long time.”

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Kansas City Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes thinks he’s ready to play after toe surgery

Patrick Mahomes won’t play in his first 2021 regular-season game for more than three months, but the Kansas City Chiefs quarterback said he’s ready for the game now.

“If there was a game [today], I’d be able to play in it, I think,” said Mahomes, who had surgery in February to repair turf toe.

“There’s still stuff I’m going to have to work through. I have to continue to rehab, continue to keep strengthening that stuff. But it’s good to be able to get out there earlier than the schedule had me and be able to get some work in.”

The Chiefs originally hoped Mahomes would be able to participate in offseason practice by the time the team’s mandatory minicamp arrived, which is in two weeks.

But Mahomes has been a full participant since the Chiefs started practice last week.

He took all of the usual starter’s snaps in practice Thursday and made some impressive throws, including a post pattern to Mecole Hardman.

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Mahomes also elaborated on his comments from last week saying he wanted the Chiefs, with the NFL’s expanded regular-season schedule, to be the first team ever to finish a season 20-0.

“I believe the question I was asked is, what record did I want to break?” Mahomes said.

“To me, records don’t mean anything if you’re not winning that last game at the end of the season. It’s about going in every single week with the mindset that we’re trying to win, we’re going to win. And at the end of the day whatever the record is, if it’s 20-0 or wherever it is, you win that last game of the season and you’re going to be happy with whatever happened earlier in the season.

“People get all hyped up about saying 20-0 because you have to take it one week at a time, but at the end of the day you want to continue to win every single week. I’m not going into the season hoping I lose any games.”

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Roger Federer to play the French Open, will prepare for it with tournament in native Switzerland

Roger Federer revealed Sunday he will play at the French Open, and the Swiss star is preparing for it on home clay at a tournament in Geneva next month.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion revealed his plans on his official Twitter page.

“Happy to let you know that I will play Geneva and Paris. Until then I will use the time to train. Can’t wait to play in Switzerland again,” Federer wrote.

Federer will aim for his 104th career title at the Geneva Open, which takes place May 16-22 — shortly before Roland Garros starts in Paris on May 30.

The 39-year-old Federer won his only French Open in 2009 and lost to 13-time champion Rafael Nadal in the semifinals two years ago.

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He did not play there last year.

Federer had a repeat operation on his right knee after a first procedure in February 2020. When that bothersome knee kept swelling up after bike rides or walks with his four children, he announced in June that he had had a second surgery.

The seventh-ranked Federer made his comeback from a 13-month injury layoff at the Qatar Open last month, defeating Daniel Evans in three sets and then losing in three to Nikoloz Basilashvili after failing to convert a match point.

Federer is also trying to earn Wimbledon for a record-extending ninth time, having lost to Novak Djokovic in a fifth-set tiebreaker two years ago. Federer served for the match and had two championship points.

The grass-court major was canceled last year for the first time since 1945 because of the coronavirus pandemic. It is arranged to be played June 28 to July 11.

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New Orleans Pelicans’ Zion Williamson out for Thursday’s game; still on for NBA All-Star Game

New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson missed Thursday night’s contest versus the Miami Heat because of irritation in his right fifth toe, but sources told ESPN that he is still anticipated to play in Sunday’s NBA All-Star Game.

Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy stated the toe irritation is something Williamson has been trying to play through recently.

“It’s one of those things that’s just continued to get a little bit worse,” Van Gundy said. “Obviously, a lot of minutes last night and the whole thing. So it got worse. But it’s been something that he’s had.”

Williamson will be a part of Team Durant in the All-Star Game. Williamson played 38 minutes in Wednesday night’s loss to the Chicago Bulls. Though he ended with 28 points, he was upset that he shot just 8-of-16 from the free throw line. After the match, he spent roughly 40 minutes getting up extra shots on the Smoothie King Center floor.

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Thursday night marked the second game Williamson misses this season but only the first for an injury-related issue.

He missed a game on Jan. 13 in Los Angeles versus the Clippers because of an inconclusive COVID-19 test.

Williamson was voted in as a Western Conference All-Star by coaches after posting some of the best interior scoring numbers the league has seen since Hall of Fame center Shaquille O’Neal. The 20-year-old forward is the fourth-youngest All-Star in NBA history behind LeBron James, Magic Johnson, and Kobe Bryant.

J.J. Redick was also ruled out for the contest due to right heel soreness. After a slow start to the season, the veteran sharpshooter caught fire in February, connecting on 47.6% of his 3-point attempts over a 12-game span.

The Pelicans entered Thursday night in 11th place in the Western Conference standings, three games behind Memphis for the 10th and final play-in tournament spot.

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New York Giants’ Nate Solder intends to play in 2021 after opting out last season

New York Giants offensive tackle Nate Solder intends to play in 2021 as long as the situation is right, he told ESPN in a phone conversation this week.

Solder, who opted out this past season because of concerns for his family with COVID-19, has yet to have that discussion with the team regarding his future. He was considered a high-risk opt-out and his contract tolled.

He is planned to make $10 million in 2021 while costing $16.5 million against the salary cap this season. The Giants haven’t been in a rush to make any moves with the new league year still almost three weeks away. Like everybody else, they’re waiting to see the official salary-cap number for the 2021 season. Then they’re expected to meet with the veteran tackle.

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Solder, 32, was the Giants’ starting left tackle in 2018 and ’19 after signing a lucrative free-agent contract.

He had spent the previous seven years of his career with the New England Patriots, where he won a pair of Super Bowls.

The decision to opt out last season centered around Solder’s family. His oldest son Hudson has battled cancer. So has Nate. Solder and his wife Lexi also had a newborn.

Solder had stated late last year on the Sports Spectrum podcast with former NFL quarterback Brock Huard that if he had another opportunity to play, he would probably take it. He also noted that he was still working out, but hadn’t prioritized his conditioning and weight lifting like he would during a regular football season.

The Giants now have a decision to make if they are going to move forward with Solder. They would save $6 million this season against the salary cap if he’s released, and $10 million if they made it a post-June 1 cut.

New York drafted a pair of tackles in last year’s draft, including Andrew Thomas with the No. 4 overall pick out of Georgia. Thomas started at left tackle and, despite early struggles, got better as the season progressed.

Third-round pick Matt Peart is expected to compete for the starting right tackle spot this year. Cameron Fleming, who started last season, is a free agent.

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