Tagged in: return

Detroit Lions hire Chris Spielman as special assistant

The Detroit Lions are getting even more help with their general manager and head coaching search. On Tuesday, the team informed that former Lions legend Chris Spielman has been hired to the full-time position of “Special Assistant to Chairman and President & CEO.”

Per the team’s official announcement, Spielman will participate in the upcoming interviews for the team’s general manager and head coach search.

“Chris Spielman has been a tremendous ambassador for the Detroit Lions since the day he first put on a uniform as a rookie in 1988,” team owner Sheila Ford Hamp said in a statement.

“He brings great passion for people and the game of football, and we are thrilled to have him on board to help lead our team. This position is a full-time opportunity for Chris that will let him to work across various departments on both the football and business sides of our organization.”

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Spielman retired from play in 1999, but has since spent time close to football as an NFL announcer and radio personality. Since 2016, he had been working with FOX Sports as a weekly announcer for NFL games.

However, he’s always remained close with the Lions organization, oftentimes calling games locally for the preseason and collaborating with DetroitLions.com for video content.

“I am humbled and excited about the opportunity to be involved with the franchise that is truly a part of me,” Spielman said in a statement.

“The opportunity to work with Rod Wood and every single person in the Lions organization can’t get here fast enough. To Lions fans everywhere, I will do everything in my power to help Mrs. Hamp and the Ford Family achieve their vision of something we can all be proud of.”

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‘Nervous’ Kevin Durant shines in return from injury, calls Brooklyn Nets debut ‘good step’

After a year and a half of Achilles rehabilitation, Kevin Durant returned to the basketball court for the first time on Sunday for the Brooklyn Nets’ preseason game versus the Washington Wizards.

“I was anxious, nervous,” Durant stated afterward. “I visualized this moment for so long — nine, 10 months of thinking about how it would be, this next phase of my career. I felt like I was chomping at the bit, especially once COVID hit because I didn’t see a future — when the season was going to start in the future. I was going through it.

“So to go through this felt solid.”

The first points in the game came from an authoritative Durant dunk. He followed that with an assist to DeAndre Jordan for a dunk.

The Nets went on to defeat the Wizards 119-114. Durant concluded shooting 5-of-12 from the field with 15 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists in 24 minutes of play. “It felt great, you know, to be back in a routine and get back on the floor and feel like a player again,” he said. “I didn’t think I played great. I felt I had some solid moments.”

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One of them was when he drew a charge on Washington’s Rui Hachimura early in the game.

“I definitely am feeling it right now,” Durant said with a laugh. “It’s good to get back in the flow of things, and it definitely gives me some confidence. … It’s a good step, and I am trying to build on it.”

Before the match, first-year head coach Steve Nash said he hoped to play both Durant and Kyrie Irving “north of 20 minutes” in each of Brooklyn’s two preseason games.

“When you have that type of injury,” Nash said of Durant after the game, “it is kind of remarkable he’s at the level he’s at.

“It’s amazing. This is an injury that very few people have conquered, so to speak. … It’s beautiful to see him back on the basketball court. I think the world missed him — I certainly did.”

Irving, who hasn’t played since February after undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery, finished with 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the field.

Irving, who played for 18 minutes, declined to speak to reporters after the game, continuing to break the league’s media rules despite his being fined $25,000 on Friday for not speaking to reporters.

During the Nets’ weeklong training camp, Durant was not ready to make any proclamations about how much he would resemble his pre-Achilles injury self before actually playing in a game. After one preseason game, Durant stated he still isn’t ready to make any declarations.

“I want to play at the highest level of basketball — the highest intensity of basketball, and that’s not in the preseason,” Durant said. “I want to play at an elite level late into the season, playoffs. That’s when I want to play my best basketball, so I’m working toward that point.”

Since the game ended, Durant said he has been fielding texts and phone calls from friends, colleagues and acquaintances asking how he is feeling.

“I can’t wait ’til that’s over with so I can get back into the swing of things and just feel like one of the guys again,” Durant said. “So it was a good first step.”

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New Orleans Saints won’t rush Drew Brees to return despite looming Week 15 showdown vs. Kansas City Chiefs

The New Orleans Saints are in no rush to bring back Drew Brees, and there’s still no timetable for when the quarterback might play again as he recovers from his 11 fractured ribs and punctured lung, league sources told ESPN.

Brees was hoping to return in Week 15 versus the Kansas City Chiefs, but the Saints want to see their veteran quarterback make a full recovery, be able to throw without any limitations and have complete range of motion before they consider reinserting him into the starting lineup, according to sources.

Until that happens, the Saints are prepared to keep playing with Taysom Hill as long as they need, including Sunday’s game in Philadelphia versus the Eagles.

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Brees will be questionable at best to play next Sunday against Kansas City, and he would not have been able to play against Philadelphia, according to sources.

Brees, 41, was placed on injured reserve Nov. 20, forcing him to miss a minimum of three games.

He said at the time that he hoped to be ready to play by Sunday’s game against the Eagles.

A source told ESPN earlier this month that Brees was progressing in his recovery from the injuries and was tracking to play as early as Sunday.

The Saints (10-2) own the best record in the NFC and can clinch the NFC South title with a victory Sunday over Philadelphia or a loss by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-5) versus the Minnesota Vikings.

Hill will make his fourth consecutive start Sunday and has added a different dimension to the Saints’ offensive attack, rushing for 176 yards and four touchdowns while leading New Orleans to a 3-0 record over his first three starts.

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Hamilton set to race in Abu Dhabi after negative COVID-19 test

Lewis Hamilton is set to return to action with Mercedes at this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after testing negative for COVID-19.

The seven-time world champion missed last weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix after testing positive for COVID on the Monday before the race and was substituted by Williams driver George Russell.

Before the completion of 10 days in isolation in Bahrain, Hamilton tested negative for COVID on Wednesday, letting him to travel on Thursday to Abu Dhabi, where he tested negative for a second time on arrival in the United Arab Emirates.

“The FIA, Formula One and Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team can today confirm that Lewis Hamilton has returned a number of negative COVID-19 tests,” an FIA statement said.

“He has completed his ten-day quarantine in Bahrain and was free to leave the country according to the Bahraini health authority regulations.

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“Lewis has now arrived in Abu Dhabi following confirmation from the authorities that he could do so and after quarantining has now received a further negative test result.

“The FIA COVID-19 protocols remain clear and have not changed. A negative pre-test result is necessary to be given access to the Formula One Paddock as set out in Appendix S to the International Sporting Code and another negative test result no more than 24 hours following arrival is required.

“Lewis, having now tested negative in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi will be granted access to the paddock.”

Hamilton’s return to the paddock means he will be able to take part in the first practice session for this weekend’s season finale.

Russell will return to Williams, meaning his replacement for the Sakhir Grand Prix, Jack Aitken, will not drive this weekend.

The news was confirmed by the FIA on Thursday evening when the governing body announced the official entry list for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with Hamilton at Mercedes and Russell at Williams.

Speaking in a video posted on Instagram on Tuesday, Hamilton stated his week in isolation with the virus had been “one of the hardest weeks that I’ve had for some time”.

Russell concluded ninth in Hamilton’s car at the Sakhir Grand Prix. He was on target to win the race before a mistake at one of Mercedes’ pit stops resulted in the wrong tyres being fitted to his car, forcing him to make an additional pit stop before a puncture ruled him out of the running for victory.

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Cadiz shock Barcelona despite Lionel Messi’s return for the Catalans

Cadiz pulled off a shock 2-1 victory over Barcelona in La Liga on Saturday night, piling on to the mounting troubles for the Blaugrana in their domestic campaign this season.

Lionel Messi returned to Ronald Koeman’s starting XI after sitting out the midweek Champions League victory over Ferencvaros.

The hosts took a shock lead from a corner kick when Marc-Andre ter Stegen palmed the ball into the path of Alvaro Gimenez, who simply had to tap it into the net to make it 1-0.

The goal seemed to enliven Barca, who were firmly in control for the remainder of the half, but save for a near miss by Martin Braithwaite the visitors could not score and went into the half-time break trailing.

Koeman rang the changes at half-time in an attempt to spark his team, with Pedri replacing Oscar Mingueza and Ousmane Dembele coming on for Philippe Coutinho.

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Barca continued to dominate possession and drew level just before the hour mark when Messi played in Jordi Alba and his shot from a tight angle took a fortuitous deflection to beat Cadiz keeper Jeremias Ledesma.

However, Cadiz took the lead again minutes later when a miscommunication between Clement Lenglet and Ter Stegen following a throw in left Alvaro Negredo alone for a simple tap in to Barcelona’s open net.

Barca poured on the pressure down the stretch and Messi saw two good possibilities go right to Ledesma, but Cadiz were up to the task and saw out the match to take all three points and stay ahead of the Catalans in La Liga.

The victory was Cadiz’s first over Barcelona since 1991 and put them just outside the Champions League places in the table.

The Andalusians also beat champions Real Madrid 1-0 away from home earlier in the campaign.

Barca’s fourth defeat of the season left them seventh in the standings on 14 points after 10 matches and Koeman’s side have failed to win their last four away matches.

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New York Giants WR Golden Tate suffers knee injury in practice

Golden Tate was planned to address the media for the first time since being benched for last week’s game versus Washington. Instead, the wide receiver was a late scratch after the New York Giants said he suffered a knee injury late in Thursday’s practice.

The original belief is that the injury is not anything potentially season-ending, a source told ESPN. Tate was officially listed as a limited participant in practice.

It has been an eventful campaign for Tate. He missed the season opener with a hamstring injury, fought Los Angeles Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey at midfield in Week 4 and expressed his displeasure with his shrinking role late in a Monday night loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, then was suspended for his actions.

Just when he was supposed to return to face one of his former teams, the Philadelphia Eagles, he hurt his knee. The veteran receiver was set to resume his previous role, according to wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert. Tate was playing just over 50% of the offensive snaps before being benched.

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He seemed to be participating fully during the portion of Thursday’s practice that was open to the media.

“We’re kind of past that issue now,” coach Joe Judge stated before practice. “We’re getting ready to play Philly right now. Golden’s getting ready to play Philly as well right now.

“I love the way he came to practice [Wednesday]. I love the way he’s preparing so far today. We’re going to be on the field today. We’ll be over in the stadium. It’ll be a good chance for the entire team to work on the turf for a day today and get moving forward with it. But look, we’re totally past the whole situation last week. It is what it is. I look forward to getting Golden on the field with us. We’ll roll him in fast.”

Undrafted rookie Austin Mack took Tate’s snaps in Sunday’s victory over Washington and led the Giants with 72 yards on four receptions.

Tate is a former Pro Bowl receiver with 682 receptions for 8,116 yards and 46 touchdowns in 112 career starts. But last week he was told to stay home Wednesday while the Giants practiced and spent most of the rest of the week working with the scout team.

In Week 8, Tate was caught on camera yelling “Throw me the ball” after a spectacular leaping touchdown grab late in the fourth quarter put the Giants in position to tie the score. His wife, Elise, ranted that night on Instagram about his lack of opportunities, and Tate later liked a tweet that suggested he should be cut and given an opportunity to sign elsewhere.

Sources stated the Giants were open to moving Tate before the trade deadline. But his salary (almost $4.5 million this season), age (32) and deteriorating production (22 catches for 226 yards and two touchdowns in seven games) made it unlikely.

The rare times Tate has been called on in recent weeks, he has produced. He had touchdown grabs of 19 and 39 yards despite just five targets combined versus the Buccaneers and Eagles in his past two games.

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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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Mike D’Antoni tells Houston Rockets he won’t return as coach

Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni has informed the franchise that he’s becoming a coaching free agent and won’t return to the Rockets next campaign, D’Antoni told ESPN on Sunday.

“It’s with tremendous sadness and gratitude that my wife Laurel and I announce that our incredible journey in Houston has ended for now and that we’ll be moving to a new chapter,” D’Antoni told ESPN in a statement.

D’Antoni, whose contract expired with the end of Houston’s season in the Western Conference semifinals on Saturday, turned down extension offers prior to the season. He will be considered among a group of candidates for the Philadelphia 76ers coaching opening, sources tell ESPN.

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D’Antoni was 217-102 in his four campaigns as Rockets coach, advancing once to the Western Conference finals and three times to the conference semifinals.

D’Antoni, a two-time NBA Coach of the Year, led the Rockets to the highest winning percentage in the Western Conference over the last four years (.682), trailing only the Toronto Raptors (.695) in the entire league.

Only the Golden State Warriors (46), Boston Celtics (33), and Raptors (31) have more playoff triumphs than the Rockets (28) in D’Antoni’s four-year run in Houston.

The Athletic reported Sunday morning D’Antoni had not “completely ruled out the possibility of a return.” None of these answers or reports were definitive and the reports all season were that D’Antoni wasn’t likely to stay in Houston.

For the Rockets, it will be difficult to find a replacement that is on par with the impact that Mike D’Antoni provides. He has been key in James Harden emerging as a superstar and that’s why the former MVP expressed he wanted D’Antoni to be brought back.

It’s early in the process but the Rockets have been linked to Jeff Van Gundy as a potential candidate. He has been in the broadcast booth for years as he last coached in the NBA in 2007 when he was in Houston. There should be plenty of other candidates to enter the mix, too.

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Bucks’ Eric Bledsoe arrives in Orlando after Covid-19 diagnosis

Less than 24 hours before the start of their first scrimmage in Orlando, the Milwaukee Bucks have landed quite the familiar reinforcement.

Starting Bucks point guard Eric Bledsoe joined the squad in Orlando, as confirmed by the Bucks’ very own Twitter account, after previously testing positive for COVID-19, which obviously delayed his initial arrival with the team as they first arrived in Orlando two weeks ago.

For Bledsoe to arrive in Orlando was a big step as that meant producing two consecutive negative tests before he was cleared to join his teammates and the rest of the Bucks’ traveling party. Per the league’s protocol, Bledsoe now must go into quarantine for two days down in Orlando before rejoining his squad in practice sessions.

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That now leaves Pat Connaughton as the only absence for the Bucks going into the restart after he revealed earlier this week that he had also tested positive for COVID-19.

The timeline for Connaughton’s return has yet to be clarified.

While the Bucks wait for Connaughton’s return, the timing of Bledsoe’s arrival really couldn’t have worked out any better for the Bucks as they’re a little over a week out from officially resuming play when they take on the Boston Celtics on July 31.

With his ability to slice into opposing defenses at will while simultaneously offering incredibly strong perimeter defense and check some of the best scoring guards in the league, Bledsoe’s two-way abilities make up a critical component in the Bucks’ formula.

It’s absolutely a refreshing and welcome sight to see Bledsoe rejoin the squad, but also seem happy and healthy following his brush with COVID-19. But the pressure will soon be on Bledsoe and the Bucks overall to finish what they all started.

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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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