Tagged in: practice

New England Patriots’ Cam Newton to rejoin team after covid-19

The New England Patriots activated quarterback Cam Newton from the NFL’s COVID-19 reserve list on Wednesday.

Newton is likely to practice with the team on Thursday, which likely would lead to his starting on Sunday versus Denver.

New England was 2-1 with Newton as its starter, then lost at Kansas City when he was sidelined after testing positive for the coronavirus. Newton had tested positive for the coronavirus on Oct. 2.

Three Patriots remain on the COVID-19 reserve list: cornerback Stephon Gilmore, defensive tackle Byron Cowart and practice squad DT Bill Murray. Gilmore was the 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

New England players say they have found an ally in coach Bill Belichick amid growing local criticism of the NFL’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Belichick’s approach to the virus outbreak within the walls of Gillette Stadium has earned him praise from those in the Patriots’ locker room as they navigate the stops and re-starts of this unusual NFL campaign.

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“Bill has done a good job of (saying), ‘Hey, this is forever kind of changing, it’s very fluid,’” Patriots safety Devin McCourty said. “But once we get it, (he says) ‘This is what we’ve got, this is what we’re gonna do,’ and I think all of us have just kind of (fallen) in line.”

New England players returned to the team’s facilities on Wednesday for the first time since participating in a walk-through Saturday to prepare for their now twice-postponed game versus Denver.

After a fourth positive COVID-19 test last Sunday, the NFL rescheduled the game with the Broncos — initially set for Sunday, but bumped to Monday after a handful of positive tests last week — to this coming Sunday.

Devin’s brother, Patriots cornerback Jason McCourty, was among those who voiced their displeasure with the league and its players’ union last week, claiming “they don’t care” about the well-being of players over profit.

“When he speaks, it’s from talking to a lot of different people — obviously with the (players association), but I would say most importantly the guys in our locker room,” Devin McCourty stated.

He added, “I think the biggest thing he said was the guys in the locker room, the guys in the organization, coaches, players — that’s what it’s about. It’s us keeping each other safe. It’s hard to imagine people outside of our building are gonna care more about our safety. I think that’s just a common sense thought.”

New England’s facilities were shut down last week from Wednesday through Friday, and another positive test kept the team away until this Wednesday, when players were permitted to return in limited numbers for workouts.

“Knowing that tomorrow was unknown as to when we would get back, it’s a challenge — but I think that’s just all about being a pro,” safety Adrian Phillips said. “When you get to the league … you’re gonna have some obstacles that you have to overcome, and this is just one of those obstacles.”

In what was initially set as their bye week, the Patriots plan to hold their first practice on Thursday, barring additional virus-related setbacks.

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Baltimore Ravens’ Lamar Jackson misses practice because of knee injury

The Baltimore Ravens were missing their best player when they took to the practice field on Wednesday, but it apparently won’t be an issue for when the team kicks off versus the Cincinnati Bengals this Sunday. 

Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson did not practice on Wednesday due to a knee injury that is not considered severe. He was held out of practice for “precautionary reasons” while Robert Griffin III took snaps as the No. 1 quarterback. 

Jackson was pulled early from the Ravens’ Week 4 31-17 victory over the Washington Football Team, but that’s likely because it was not a close game.

The reigning NFL MVP seemed to be fine, as he completed 14 of 21 passes for 193 yards, two touchdowns, one interception and also rushed seven times for 53 yards. In the second quarter, he even reeled off a career-long 50-yard touchdown, which extended the lead to double digits. 

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Jackson and the Ravens appeared to have bounced back from the 34-20 loss they suffered to the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 3.

During that matchup, Jackson managed just 97 passing yards and one passing touchdown, as the Chiefs’ defense controlled the tempo of the game. 

According to Schefter, Jackson should be fine for the Ravens’ Week 5 divisional matchup with the Bengals, but it is interesting that he was not even a limited participant on Wednesday.

Jackson has missed just one game in his career, a Week 17 contest at the end of 2019 in which he did not play in order to rest and avoid potential injury ahead of Baltimore’s postseason. If Jackson were unavailable for the Ravens’ Week 5 game versus Cincinnati due to the knee issue, it would be his first game missed because of injury in his career.

Jackson won the 2019 MVP as part of the league’s best rushing offense in which he set the single-season rushing record for a quarterback with 1,206 yards and seven scores on the ground.

He’s completed 68.4% of his passes for 769 yards, seven touchdowns and one interception, and rushed 39 times for 235 yards and one score while leading the Ravens to a 3-1 start in 2020.

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Philadelphia Eagles starting left tackle Andre Dillard tears biceps

Eagles left tackle Andre Dillard will miss the 2020 campaign with a biceps injury, multiple outlets reported Thursday.

Derrick Gunn, formerly of NBC Sports Philadelphia, first reported Dillard suffered a biceps injury Thursday, and he added the team hoped it was not a tear. Later, NFL Media and ESPN confirmed Gunn’s report and added that Dillard will need season-ending surgery.

Dillard’s injury is a heavy blow to an Eagles offensive line that already lost Pro Bowl right guard Brandon Brooks for the season to a torn Achilles in June.

Dillard was present at practice early Thursday but left before team drills began. Dillard, 24, was slated to take over the starting left tackle job in 2020. The team traded up to select him with the No. 22 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, and after sitting behind future Pro Football Hall of Famer Jason Peters for a season, Dillard was poised to take over the starting spot.

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The Eagles have a deep group of offensive linemen, but it’s young and inexperienced after Halapoulivaati Vaitai’s exit in free agency. In Dillard’s absence, the most logical move seems to be moving Peters, who returned to the Eagles to replace Brooks at right guard, to left tackle and moving third-year pro Matt Pryor up in Peters’ place.

The Eagles, however, already signed Peters to play over Pryor during the offseason.

Pryor started camp working as the backup right guard behind Peters, but after right tackle Lane Johnson suffered a lower body injury that caused him to miss a week of practice, Pryor has been working as the top right tackle.

Third-year pro Jordan Mailata took Dillard’s spot at left tackle with the first team Thursday, but he’s had his share of struggles in camp.

Still, the easiest move would be to slide Peters over and promote Pryor, but it depends on the rest of the offensive line staying healthy.

Dillard had an up-and-down camp. He was not “dominant” by any stretch as suggested above by ESPN’s Adam Schefter. He missed practice earlier this week with an upper body injury, and while he mostly held his own, he was involved in a scary moment Wednesday.

Dillard was bull-rushed by defensive end Joe Ostman, lost his balance and fell into quarterback Carson Wentz’s legs. Wentz got up slowly, but he was fine. It was an alarming moment. The Eagles appeared for Dillard in Year 2 despite some physical and mental struggles in his rookie season.

The former Washington State standout stated he added 20 pounds of muscle this offseason and felt much stronger. Unfortunately for Dillard and the Eagles, he’ll have to wait a year to show off his improvement.

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Bears RB David Montgomery leaves practice with groin injury

Bears running back David Montgomery exited Wednesday’s practice after sustaining a groin injury when he slipped while taking a handoff.

“We don’t know the severity,” coach Matt Nagy told reporters during a video call. “He ended up doing it in an individual drill. It just slipped out from him on that. So that’s where he’s at. We don’t know anything else from that.”

Selected by the Bears in the third round of last year’s draft out of Iowa State, Montgomery rushed for 889 yards and six touchdowns on 242 carries and caught 25 passes for 185 yards and one TD as a rookie in 2019.

Nagy is optimistic that Montgomery’s injury isn’t serious, but the coach will have to wait until the second-year pro is further evaluated. “As far as where he’s at, I always want to try to stay optimistic,” Nagy said. “[But] I cannot tell you one way or the other. I have no idea until we see where he’s at. We’re just not there yet.

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“I’m hoping that he’s OK. He’s a big part of this offense. He’s worked really hard, and from last year to this year, rookie year to now, he’s been doing everything the right way. He’s such a good kid; you just want the best for him.”

Other running backs on the Bears roster contain Tarik Cohen, Ryan Nall and undrafted rookie Artavis Pierce.

In addition, receiver/All-Pro return specialist Cordarrelle Patterson has been practicing with the running backs since the beginning of training camp.

Montgomery has looked sleeker and quicker on the practice field the last two weeks after reducing his weight by five or six pounds to 218 pounds.

He altered his diet during the offseason, eliminating red meat, fats like doughnuts and foods that cause inflammation and replacing them with lean sources of protein such as fish, chicken and quinoa. Nagy was thrilled when the Bears drafted Montgomery in the third round last year and remains a huge fan of the young running back.

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Cowboys DT Gerald McCoy to have season-ending surgery

Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Gerald McCoy ruptured his right quadriceps tendon during the first padded practice of training camp Monday and will undergo season-ending surgery, according to team executive vice president Stephen Jones.

McCoy was hurt during individual drills and was unable to put weight on his leg after he was inspected by the team’s medical staff. Before ducking into the locker room, McCoy attempted to take some steps unassisted but could not. An MRI revealed the tear.

“I will remain the mentor I am to the young guys and do my part to make sure that this team goes where it needs to,” McCoy said in a text to ESPN’s Ed Werder. “As far as my mindset people deal with real life problems every day especially now with the state of our country.

“There is a lot of pain and heartache taking place right now that all our attention needs to go towards whether it is the pandemic or our fight for social justice. In retrospect what I’m dealing with is minimal compared to that. Therefore this is light work for me. Anybody who knows me knows I love a challenge. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!! I will be back better. LETS GET IT!!”

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The Cowboys signed McCoy to a three-year, $18 million deal in free agency as part of a rebuild of their defensive line that also included the additions of Aldon Smith, Dontari Poe and Everson Griffen, who has yet to practice but has cleared COVID-19 testing protocol.

“It’s obviously tough,” Jones said. “It’s part of the game. You see injuries around the league every day, and unfortunately that’s why you have to have a deep roster. Obviously you sign a guy like Everson Griffen, you never know when things like this are going to happen.”

Speaking before Jones named the injury, defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford said he spoke with McCoy after practice.

“Obviously it’s never fun to see a fellow D-lineman go down,” Crawford stated. “Having a guy like that that you just get to know, just get to make part of the family, it’s always sad to see, but obviously I have a lot of faith in our training staff and also a lot of experience, as you guys know, and I know they’ll get him back and get him back right and get him back on that field better than ever.”

Crawford suffered a torn Achilles early in the 2013 training camp in individual drills and could relate to McCoy’s injury.

“It’s never fun to have it happen like that because you weren’t even competing at that time,” Crawford said. “It’s a different feeling than if it was to happen during a physical football play against your teammates.”

McCoy, 32, spent his first nine campaigns in Tampa Bay before joining Carolina last season. He has missed more than three games in a season just once in his career.

Rookie Neville Gallimore and last year’s second-round pick, Trysten Hill, replaced McCoy at times during practice. “We know [McCoy] was fired up to be here, but it’s also disappointing for us,” Jones said. “He was one of our major acquisitions in the offseason in free agency, but having said that, this will give Trysten Hill and Neville Gallimore an opportunity to really step up now.”

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Ricky Rubio back with Suns after testing positive

Phoenix Suns guard Ricky Rubio told reporters on Wednesday that he didn’t join the team in Orlando, Florida, until this week because of a positive COVID-19 test. Rubio said he joined the team two days ago and Tuesday was his first practice.

Phoenix has its first scrimmage on Thursday although it’s unclear if Rubio will play.

“I just had two practices so I have to talk with strength coach, [Suns coach Monty Williams] and the whole team,” Rubio said. “I feel good but we have to be smart about it. It’s a preseason game. We have to figure out a plan that’s day by day. We can’t plan ahead like other times. We didn’t know when I was going to come so we have to play it day by day.”

Rubio did not say when he first tested positive for the virus but did state that it was harder on him because while he was in Phoenix, his family stayed back in Spain. Now, he says he has to be careful with how he ramps back up and gets ready to play once again.

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Williams said he would meet with his staff Wednesday night to determine Rubio’s playing status moving forward.

Rubio, who has been involved with the league’s social justice movement while he has been out and was on a recent league call with Breonna Taylor’s mother and lawyer, also tried to put in focus the NBA’s return to basketball in the current social climate.

“It’s tough but the times we live in right now, we have to adjust to the uncomfortable,” Rubio stated. “The NBA did a really good job of keeping us safe down here. At the end of the day, basketball, right now, it’s not the first thing we’re thinking of when it comes to live. There’s a lot on our plate and everybody’s plate. We have to think for the big picture but we’re here and ready to play.”

Rubio is not the only player who hasn’t been with the team in Orlando. The Suns are without guards Elie Okobo and Jalen Lecque for what the team is calling personal matters. Center Aron Baynes told Stadium that he tested positive for COVID-19 and isn’t with the team yet.

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Miguel Sano cleared to join Twins after Covid-19

When the Twins got good news about Byron Buxton on Tuesday, it didn’t take long before the subject turned to Miguel Sano, ostensibly the Twins’ starting first baseman but without any practice since camp re-started because he rang positive for COVID-19 during intake testing.

They received good news on Sano on Wednesday when he was cleared to join teammates after two weeks of COVID-19 quarantine. He will work out for the first time since summer camp started July 3 this afternoon at Target Field.

Buxton, the elite center fielder whose Achilles’ heel has been his health, doesn’t seem at risk for missing too much time because of a left foot sprain suffered Monday. He’s been playing and has looked sharp at the plate and in the field.

Now the Twins must see if Sano, moving from third to first base because the Twins signed all-star Josh Donaldson last winter, can use the next week to get ready for the team’s July 24 season opener versus the White Sox in Chicago.

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He has played first base in major league games, but only as a fill-in, and hasn’t worked with teammates since spring training was canceled in mid-March.

“I think it’s more of a question if Miguel is ready physically to play, more than anything else, more than the question about playing a new position or anything in particular,” manager Rocco Baldelli stated after Tuesday’s intrasquad game.

During intake testing, Sano and utility man Willians Astudillo were the only Twins major leaguers to test positive for the coronavirus that has killed more than 134,000 Americans, and has been spreading in the U.S. at a record-setting pace the past few weeks.

Because Sano has registered consecutive negative test results, he was cleared to play on Wednesday. Like Buxton, another first-round draft pick who has shown bursts of greatness, Sano has had trouble staying on the field. A 7.8-WAR player and an all-star in 2017, Sano has played more than 100 matches twice in five seasons, and never as many as 120.

In 2018, he was sent to Fort Myers, Fla., in midseason to get into better shape.

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NFL shortens preseason to just two weeks as league continues to plot its 2020 strategy

The NFL has taken its next step in adjusting its calendar to prepare for a return to action amid the coronavirus pandemic

The NFL has shortened its 2020 preseason to two games, a source said, part of a larger acclimatization plan for players following an unprecedented virtual offseason program during the coronavirus pandemic.

In essence, the league canceled Weeks 1 and 4 of its original preseason calendar. It had previously canceled its Aug. 8 Hall of Fame game. Most players will still report to training camp on July 28, but the first preseason matches won’t be played until Aug. 20-24. The second week of preseason games are scheduled for Aug. 27-31. Each team will play one home game and one on the road.

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Teams that travel will depart on the day before games.

The primary driver for restructuring the preseason was a consensus between the NFL and NFL Players Association that players will need more time than normal to get in football shape this summer.

No teams were able to practice on the field during the offseason, and many gyms and other conditioning settings have been closed. The NFL’s standard preseason has been four games since it was shortened from six games in 1978. It is expected to be cut further when owners activate a provision in the collective bargaining agreement to extend the regular season to 17 games, which they can do as early as 2021.

When that happens, the preseason would shrink to no more than three games for each team. Of more immediate worry, however, is the health of players during training camp in 2020.

The NFL/NFLPA committee will soon issue a set of guidelines that spells out an acclimatization program for the 23 days of training camp prior to the first preseason game.

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Tennis club apologizes for letting Djokovic train

The tennis club where Novak Djokovic broke confinement rules in Spain stated Tuesday it mistakenly let the top-ranked Serb to practice and apologized for the error.

Djokovic released a video of him training on Monday in apparent violation of Spain’s current rules amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The video posted on Instagram showed Djokovic exchanging shots with another man at the club in the coastal city of Marbella, where the Serb has been staying for the past several weeks.

Djokovic filmed the video while hitting shots and wrote he was “so happy to play on clay .. well, just for a bit with my phone in the hands.”

Spain has eased some of the lockdown measures that had been in place since mid-March, allowing professional athletes to return to practice, but most training centers and sports facilities must stay closed until next week.

“We are sorry that our interpretation of the regulation could have been erroneous, and this could have inconvenienced Mr. Djokovic or any other citizen acting in good faith,” the Puente Romano Marbella Tennis Club said in a statement.

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The statement, which was relayed by Djokovic’s management team, said the club got a request from the player to practice and gave him the go-ahead with the “understanding that from May 4 all professional sports players were authorized to train.” The club said it therefore believed he was “permitted to train in our facilities.”

It said it later received a “clarification” from the Spanish tennis federation and “both parties have agreed that training should resume” only next week.

Rafael Nadal stated he also went to train on a court this week, but he did it on private property because the rules weren’t fully clear to him.

Soccer players were among the exceptions who could start training inside sports facilities beginning this week.

Spain has been one of the countries most affected by the pandemic but it started loosening some of its restrictions on movement as the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 started to go down recently. The nation went into a lockdown on March 14.

Djokovic recently stated he was against taking a vaccine for the coronavirus if it became mandatory to travel once the pandemic subsides, though he later said he was open to changing his mind.

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NBA to open practice facilities

The NBA will reportedly allow teams to open their practice facilities again beginning on May 1, more than six weeks after it suspended operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Teams will be allowed to re-open those facilities only if their respective local governments have eased stay-at-home orders, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

There were more than 926,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States as of Saturday afternoon, according to The New York Times, and millions of Americans are still under some form of a stay-at-home order — many of which have been extended past May 1. 

Teams will not be authorized to require players to work out at their facilities, but rather will let them do so on a voluntary basis.

No organized team activities or group workouts will be allowed, either.

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While some markets will have lifted or significantly loosened stay-at-home restrictions by that date, many will still be implemented past that date — including both New York teams and the four California franchises. The NBA, per Wojnarowski, will work with teams unable to open their facilities directly in order to make sure every player has the opportunity to safely practice again.

Many players had been asking their teams about traveling to Georgia to workout, too, per the report. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has allowed certain businesses in the state to re-open this week — a decision that has drawn criticism, even from President Donald Trump — including gyms. The league, however, made it clear it doesn’t want players working out at public fitness centers there.

Though it appears that this is the first step to resuming the season in some form, the league is “still unsure” when it will play again, if at all, per Wojnarowski.  NBA commissioner Adam Silver said last week that the league is “not in a position to make any decisions” about what the rest of the season may look like, but that “everything is on the table.”

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