Tagged in: Safety

George leads Clippers over Paul and Suns, 106-92 in Game 3

Paul George scored 27 points and the Los Angeles Clippers pulled away in a dominant third quarter, beating newly returned Chris Paul and the Phoenix Suns 106-92 on Thursday night in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals.

The Clippers cut their series deficit to 2-1, ending the Suns’ franchise-record playoff winning streak at nine games.

Kawhi Leonard remained out with a right knee sprain, leaving George to carry the load again. After missing two crucial free throws in a one-point loss in Game 2, Paul had 15 rebounds and eight assists and played a game-high 43 minutes. He made 6 of 7 free throws.

The Suns got Paul back after he missed the first two games while being sidelined since June 16 because of the NBA’s health and safety protocols. The former Clipper, who was booed heartily during intros, had 15 points and 12 assists, but was 5 of 19 from the field.

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Deandre Ayton led the Suns with 18 points.

Reggie Jackson added 23 points for the Clippers, and Ivica Zubac had 15 points and tied his career playoff high with 16 rebounds.

Game 4 is Saturday night at Staples Center.

After Phoenix won the first two games by a combined seven points, the teams played a close first half. Then the Clippers went to work in front of their raucous, Thunder Stix-pounding fans.

They took control with the biggest run of the game, a 21-3 spurt that left them leading 71-56 in the third. Terance Mann got it going with six straight points and Jackson scored four in a row before George scored inside. Zubac dunked off George’s pass and made a pair of free throws. The Suns were limited to a 3-pointer by Paul.

Devin Booker picked up his third and fourth fouls in a 42-second span during the Clippers’ run. Booker — wearing a clear mask to protect his nose that required stitches after he and Patrick Beverley banged heads in Game 2 — was 5 of 21 from the field, making only one of seven 3-point tries, and finished with 15 points.

Jae Crowder, who assisted on Deandre Ayton’s winning dunk on Tuesday, fouled out with 4:51 remaining. He had nine points, six rebounds and six assists.

George capped the third by banking in a 3-pointer from just inside midcourt, and it beat the buzzer, stunning the fans and sending the Clippers into the fourth leading 80-69. He nearly bobbled the ball along the right sideline, with Booker and Cam Johnson pressuring, before getting the shot off.

Luke Kennard opened the fourth with a 3 from the right corner, getting fouled and making the free throw. Marcus Morris hit a three before George got fouled. He confidently made both, keeping the Clippers ahead 89-71.

Cameron Payne, who so ably filled in for Paul in the first two games, went down with a left ankle injury after playing four minutes and didn’t return.

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Seattle Seahawks re-sign Damarious Randall, moving him to CB

The Seattle Seahawks have re-signed Damarious Randall and plan to move him back to cornerback, the team revealed Friday.

Randall played cornerback for his first three seasons with the Green Bay Packers, who drafted him 30th overall in 2015. He has also played safety and some nickelback.

Most of Randall’s 35 defensive snaps last campaign came at safety. He appeared in 10 matches with the Seahawks — mostly on special teams — after joining their practice squad in September.

It’s not clear if the Seahawks see Randall as an option at nickelback or on the outside.

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At 5-foot-11 and 196 pounds, the 28-year-old is smaller than what the Seahawks typically prefer in their perimeter cornerbacks. But D.J. Reed emerged for Seattle on the outside last season despite not having prototypical size.

The Seahawks’ other perimeter cornerbacks incorporate free-agent addition Ahkello Witherspoon and Tre Flowers, who has started 37 games for Seattle over the past three seasons.

Safety Ryan Neal has played cornerback in the past. Ugo Amadi and Marquise Blair are returning at nickelback, although Blair is coming off a torn ACL.

The Seahawks wanted to re-sign cornerback Quinton Dunbar, but he signed with the Detroit Lions instead.

Other Seahawks corners with starting experience are D.J. Reed, who can play multiple positions and who finished the season starting at right cornerback and free-agent addition Ahkello Witherspoon, who started 33 games in four seasons with the 49ers, playing on both the left and right side.

Randall has 14 interceptions and 47 passes defensed over six NFL seasons. He spent three with Green Bay and two with the Cleveland Browns before landing in Seattle last year.

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Minnesota Vikings, safety Xavier Woods reach 1-year deal

The Minnesota Vikings agreed to a contract with free-agent safety Xavier Woods, the team revealed.

Terms were not disclosed but a source confirmed to ESPN on Saturday that it’s a one-year, $2.25 million deal that contains $1.75 million guaranteed.

The 25-year-old Woods, who developed into a versatile safety with the ability to cover the slot over his first four seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, is expected to fill the Vikings’ opening at free safety opposite Harrison Smith after Anthony Harris’ departure in free agency.

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After concluding the season ranked 29th in points allowed and 27th in yards allowed, Minnesota has focused its efforts on the defensive side.

In addition to Woods, the Vikings have acquired only defensive players in free agency — defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson, linebacker Nick Vigil and cornerbacks Patrick Peterson and Mackensie Alexander as head coach Mike Zimmer looks to revamp a unit that allowed 29.7 points per game in 2020 (third-worst in the NFL).

A sixth-round draft pick in 2017, Woods became a full-time starter in his second season with the Cowboys and started his last 44 matches, missing four games over three seasons because of injury.

Heading into 2020, he was viewed as a cornerstone piece to the Cowboys’ secondary, but he struggled despite finishing second on the team with 72 tackles. He had just two tackles for loss, did not record a sack and had just two passes defended while not intercepting a pass for the first time in his career.

Woods can play both safety spots and also played as a nickel cornerback as a rookie.

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Denver Broncos placing franchise tag on safety Justin Simmons

The Denver Broncos are placing the franchise tag on safety Justin Simmons for the second successive season, it was announced Friday.

Simmons, who was poised to become an unrestricted free agent, becomes the first player to be tagged this offseason. The Broncos now have until July 15 to work out a long-term deal.

“Designating Justin with the franchise tag is a procedural move that allows us to continue working on a long-term deal,” general manager George Paton said in a statement Friday. We are completely focused on making sure Justin remains a big part of the Denver Broncos for many years to come.”

NFL teams have until Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET to place the franchise tag on their most valuable player.

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Simmons, the Broncos’ third-round pick in the 2016 draft, played on the franchise player tag in 2020, worth $11.4 million.

He concluded with 96 tackles and five interceptions. It was his third consecutive 90-tackle season. He has consistently been an active player in run defense along the line of scrimmage with the versatility to match up on a variety of players in coverage.

The 27-year-old has the combination of on-field performance and off-field community engagement, given that he has played every defensive snap for each of the past three campaigns and was the Broncos’ nominee this past season for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award.

When Paton was hired in January, Broncos president of football operations John Elway said trying to re-sign Simmons was “one of the biggest things” Paton had on his to-do list.

Simmons has consistently been one of the most active players in the community and one of the team’s leading voices in social justice initiatives.

He has acquired the Darrent Williams Good Guy Award, given out by the Denver chapter of the Pro Football Writers of America each season to a Broncos player to recognize professionalism and depth in interactions with the media. Simmons is the only three-time winner of the award since it started in 2006.

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Seattle Seahawks’ Jamal Adams says there’s ‘no question’ that he’ll play in playoff game

The biggest question facing the Seattle Seahawks this week actually isn’t a question to Jamal Adams: The All-Pro strong safety on Wednesday stated unequivocally that he’ll be on the field for Saturday’s wild-card game versus the Los Angeles Rams.

“No question in my mind. I’m playing, man,” Adams said. “Look, as long as these legs are moving, man, as long as my faith is with the man upstairs, which is very strong, I’m going to be out there.”

Adams said there was never a doubt in his mind that he would play despite the left shoulder injury he suffered in the fourth quarter Sunday that sidelined him for the end of Seattle’s victory over the San Francisco 49ers.

Coach Pete Carroll said after the game the initial word was that Adams would be able to play this weekend, though he stopped short at the time of declaring as much. Carroll has been more noncommittal in his most recent comments, saying Adams’ availability wouldn’t be known until game day.

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Adams didn’t practice Tuesday, and he was listed as a limited participant Wednesday.

“I’m OK,” Adams said. “I’m looking forward to it. I’m not going to be limited to anything. I’m full-go. I’m full energy. I’m me. I’m going out there to continue to make plays and continue to continue help the team win. That’s what I’m about.”

Despite missing four matches with a groin injury, Adams led the Seahawks this season with 9.5 sacks, an NFL record for a defensive back. He was named to his third straight Pro Bowl.

Asked if he’ll have to wear a supportive harness on his left shoulder, Adams said he’ll be playing with “something.” He’s been playing through an injury to his right shoulder since Week 10 and has two broken fingers on his left hand.

He called it “just another challenge” to play with two injured shoulders.

“I’m a savage, bro,” Adams said. “I’m a warrior, man. It doesn’t matter. Whatever it takes. It’s not about me. It’s always going to be bigger than me. It’s about this team. It’s about my brothers. It’s about my family back home, my why. So again, I’m excited for this opportunity. It doesn’t matter what obstacle is thrown my way. I always figure it out and that’s all that matters, man. So I’m looking forward to the matchup.”

Adams briefly returned Sunday after injuring his shoulder on a blitz but concluded the game on the sideline with a dejected look on his face. Carroll said the team had to take Adams’ helmet away.

“All the stuff that I’ve been through the past year — and again, I don’t like to ever make it about me because it’s never about me — but yeah, I went through a lot of ups and downs, a lot of adversity due to injury,” Adams said.

“Obviously, he had to take my helmet away. And when he took my helmet away, it hurt me a little bit because I wanted to be out there and finish no matter what. “But at the end of the day, it’s about this team. It’s never going to be about me. I can’t wait to get out there. I will figure it out and that’s just who I am as a person.”

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Houston Texans S Justin Reid (hand) out for season

Houston Texans starting safety is our for the remainder of the 2020 NFL campaign thanks to a hand injury sustained versus the Chicago Bears in Week 14.

Just when we thought things couldn’t get any worse for the Houston Texans, 2020 threw another curveball their way. Starting safety Justin Reid will now miss the remainder of the NFL season thanks to a hand injury sustained against the Chicago Bears in their 36-7 loss at Soldier Field on Sunday.

Reid seemed to injure his hand during the first half on Sunday, heading to the locker room late in the half before returning to play out the game. 

No stranger to playing through pain, Reid had shoulder surgery last offseason and had played through what the Texans described as “wrist and shoulder injuries” during both of the past two seasons.

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Houston’s 2018 third-round pick out of Stanford, Reid has been a starter since day one.

A vocal team leader and outstanding safety, he should be a key component in this defense under the next general manager and head coach.

Looking to the more immediate future, this loss leaves the Texans without their top two defensive backs, after losing cornerback Bradley Roby to a suspension on November 30th. 

This is rough news for a secondary that is also without team captain and backup safety Michael Thomas who was placed on injured reserve with a torn pectoral after their Week 10 loss to the Cleveland Browns. 

As a result, Houston’s starting secondary will probably consist of Eric Murray and Lonnie Johnson at safety, with Vernon Hargreaves and Phillip Gaines at cornerback – Assuming Gaines is healthy after missing Week 14 with a knee/shoulder injury. 

The Texans now head to the Indianapolis Colts looking to bounce-back from last week’s upsetting performance in Chicago and avoid losing to their AFC South divisional rival for the second time in three weeks

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Seattle Seahawks sign Mychal Kendricks to practice squad

The Seahawks made a modification at safety Wednesday with Lano Hill going to IR, promoting Damarious Randall from the practice squad. They also brought back a familiar face at linebacker. 

Damarious Randall has already been elevated from the practice squad twice to play in the Seahawks’ past two matches, and now the veteran safety has a spot on the 53-man roster, having been signed Wednesday to take the spot of safety Lano Hill, who was placed on injured reserve with a back injury that has kept him out of the past three games.

The Seahawks also added a pair of veteran linebackers to the practice squad, signing Mychal Kendricks, a 14-game starter for Seattle last campaign, and Ray-Ray Armstrong, an eight-year veteran who has appeared in 84 games over his career with the Cowboys, 49ers, Giants, Raiders, Rams and Browns.

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Randall, a 2015 first-round pick with 56 career starts on his resume, signed to Seattle’s practice squad ahead of the Week 4 game at Miami, and was elevated from the practice squad both for that game and the Week 5 victory over Minnesota. Under a new rule this season, practice squad players can be elevated for game weekends without counting towards the 53-man roster limit, but can only do so twice, and Seahawks coach Pete Carroll indicated on Monday that this move could be coming with Randall.

“I hope we’ll get to see more of Randall going forward,” Carroll stated. “He’s a good ballplayer and he’s been around us now enough as he’s starting to dig in. So I’m excited about what he can add.”

Carroll’s Monday press conference also hinted that Hill’s move to IR could be coming.

“Lano’s got some issues with his back that haven’t really turned in the right direction,” Carroll said. “We’re looking after him right now. He’s not ready to come back yet.”

Kendricks, a former second-round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles, started 17 games for the Seahawks over the past two campaigns after signing with the Seahawks late in the 2018 season, both at weakside and strongside linebacker.

Last year Kendricks had 71 tackles, 3.0 sacks and one interception as Seattle’s starting strongside linebacker, but tore his ACL in Week 17, causing him to miss Seattle’s two playoff games. Kendricks is the latest accomplished veteran to join Seattle’s practice squad after Randall and former All-Pro defensive tackle Damon Harrison.

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Los Angeles Chargers’ Derwin James injures right knee

Los Angeles Chargers safety Derwin James, who missed 11 matches in the 2019 season, is likely to miss significant time with a meniscus injury he suffered during Sunday’s practice, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported.

The Chargers delivered an update regarding James’ condition on Monday, confirming that he “suffered a right knee injury during yesterday’s practice” and noting that “he will continue to be evaluated, and a timeframe for his return has not yet been determined.”

Now comes the waiting game of just how long it will be until James can return to the field.

With the waiting game comes options, pending further evaluation, though each of them would see James with an elongated absence. One possibility is a meniscus trim, which could be four or so weeks, or a full repair, which would bring upon several months on the shelf, Rapoport reported.

Multiple reports coming out of camp were that James left practice grabbing his right leg, clearly frustrated, and entered the medical tent.

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Regardless of just how long James is shelved, it’s a difficult turn of events for a burgeoning star who burst upon the NFL scene and has seen it halted by significant injuries in consecutive offseasons.

James started the 2019 campaign on injured reserve with a stress fracture of the fifth metatarsal in his foot.

He returned in Week 13 and started the last five games of the season, tallying 34 tackles.

In 2018, James was an All-Pro and Pro Bowler in a sensational rookie campaign in which he filled up the stat sheet to the tune of 105 tackles, 13 passes defended, 3.5 sacks and three interceptions.

While it’s another discouraging turn of events for James and a huge blow to the Chargers defense, it might well open the door for another opportunity to Earl Thomas, as pointed out by Rapoport. Current Bolts defensive coordinator Gus Bradley previously coached Thomas with the Seahawks. Within the roster, the most liable scenario is that Desmond King, Alohi Gilman and Nasir Adderly are the likely candidates to step into James’ starting role. Nonetheless, for James and the Chargers on a sunny Southern California Sunday, it quickly became a cloudy day ahead of a promising season once again.

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Arizona Cardinals making Budda Baker highest-paid safety in NFL history

The Arizona Cardinals are making two-time Pro Bowl selection Budda Baker the highest-paid safety in NFL history by giving him a four-year extension worth $59 million, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Baker was Arizona’s second-round pick in 2017, and his rookie contract was set to expire after this campaign.

The deal will average $14.75 million per year, but no other financial aspects were disclosed. The Cardinals announced the four-year extension Tuesday.

Baker’s extension comes four years after the Cardinals gave another star safety, Tyrann Mathieu, a long-term extension. Mathieu’s deal was for five years and worth $62.5 million, but he was released after the 2017 season. Baker is the first second-round pick to receive either an extension or second deal under general manager Steve Keim, who was hired in 2013.

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The 24-year-old Baker is coming off his second Pro Bowl year and his first as a safety.

He recorded 147 tackles last season and led the NFL with 104 solo tackles, the only player with at least 100 solo tackles in 2019.

Baker does not have an interception since entering the NFL in 2017 from the University of Washington, however, and has played the most coverage snaps (1,261) of any player during that span not to have intercepted a pass.

He also has recorded 33 quarterback pressures since entering the NFL, the most by any defensive back during that span. Baker has been a steady presence for the Cardinals in both their pass and run defense. Arizona permitted just two completions of 30 yards or more last season.

Baker has also been a factor in Arizona’s run defense. His 33 run stuffs, defined by NFL Next Gen Stats as tackles on run plays for no gain or a loss, are tied with Jamal Adams for second most among defensive backs since 2017.

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Safety Jamal Adams requests trade from Jets

Jamal Adams’ trade request escalated from a social media rant to a real-life demand.

Frustrated by slow-moving contract negotiations and without much other leverage, Adams informed the team Thursday he wants to be dealt, The Post confirmed. It sets up what could be a messy split-up because the Jets are not inclined to move on from their best player – at least not without a significant package in return.

Adams’ frequent use of social media to voice his displeasure with the two years and $13.45 million remaining on his contract – and the slow-moving negotiations on an extension – reached another level Wednesday. “Maybe it’s time to move on,” Adams wrote Wednesday in reply to a Jets fan on Instagram.

Adams’ message last week, as word leaked the Browns and defensive end Myles Garrett are in talks on an extension, was the Jets are “all talk no action.”

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Now? Adams is venting at Jets fans and bringing Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes into the conversation. Garrett (No. 1), Adams (No. 6) and Mahomes (No. 10) were picked in the 2017 NFL Draft and this is the first offseason players from that class are eligible for an extension on original deals.

“What does Pat have to do with me?” Adams replied to a fan. “Pat is about to get 40 to 60 M’s (million) a year. Well deserved. That’s my guy. But don’t compare me to QB’s if you aren’t paying me QB money.”

Running back Christian McCaffrey signed a four-year, $64 million contract with the Panthers earlier this offseason.

He was selected two picks after Adams.

So, Adams can’t figure out why the Jets are not acting like the Browns and Panthers. Adams did not participate in the Jets’ voluntary virtual offseason to send a message and it seems the two sides could be headed toward a holdout if training camps start on time July 28.

“Don’t use the pandemic excuse,” Adams wrote. “CM22 got paid not too long ago. … [I am going to] protect myself just like the organization will look out for themselves at the end of the day.”

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