Tagged in: season

Le’Veon Bell Signs Reported 1-Year Chiefs Contract

Running back Le’Veon Bell signed with the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday after being released by the New York Jets earlier in the week, the team stated.

Kansas City did not release terms of the pact, though ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Bell is expected to sign a one-year deal. 

Schefter noted Bell wants to win a Super Bowl and believes the reigning champs give him the best chance to do so.

The three-time Pro Bowler is in his seventh season in the league, and Kansas City marks his third team after his career started with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2013. After missing the 2018 season because of a contract dispute, he signed a four-year, $52.5 million contract with the Jets in March 2019.

Bell’s 19 months with the Jets were rocky at best. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported in May 2019 that head coach Adam Gase liked Bell on the field but “didn’t love the money.” 

Across 17 games with the Jets, Bell had 264 carries for 863 yards and three touchdowns, and he caught 69 passes for 500 yards and a touchdown. He got off to a slow start in 2020, as he missed three games with a hamstring injury and had only 74 yards on 19 carries in the two games he did play.

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When Bell returned in Week 5, he played only 67 percent of the offensive snaps. In 2019, he appeared for more than 80 percent of the team’s snaps in 11 games and over 90 percent five times.

In the days leading up to Bell’s Tuesday release, Gase was outspoken about the running back’s social media activity.

The Michigan State product liked multiple tweets about his lack of usage, and he had expressed his frustration throughout the campaign.

Jets general manager Joe Douglas wrote in a statement that the two sides explored the possibility of a trade, but they could not reach an agreement with another team before deciding to release him.

The Chiefs spent their first-round pick this year on running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who rumbled for 138 rushing yards in his debut. However, he has yet to top 64 yards in each of his other four games, and Kansas City lacks much reliable depth behind him.

Expect Bell to immediately slide in as a complement to Edwards-Helaire, particularly as a pass-catching option on third downs.

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Patrick Mahomes-led Chiefs are first to 4-0 in four straight seasons

Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs started slowly on Monday night, which should have been expected. Their adversary was the New England Patriots.

The Chiefs came alive in the second half, as they usually do versus the Patriots. Mahomes threw two touchdown passes and the Chiefs ran their record to 4-0 by winning 26-10.

The Chiefs are the first team in NFL history to start four consecutive seasons 4-0 or better. They’ve had a winning streak of at least four games in every one of coach Andy Reid’s eight seasons.

The Chiefs didn’t score their first touchdown until late in the third quarter. The match was only the third with Mahomes as their starter in which the Chiefs didn’t score at least one touchdown on any of their first four possessions. The other two came against the Patriots. But in each of those games the Chiefs scored 31 points in the second half.

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The Chiefs scored 20 this time with the help of 25-yard interception return for a touchdown by Tyrann Mathieu.

Two of the biggest plays of the game came with New England inside the Chiefs’ 20. The Chiefs ended each drive with a sack, first late in the first half when Frank Clark dragged down Brian Hoyer for a 13-yard loss from the Chiefs’ 13.

The Patriots were out of time outs and the play ended the half. Taco Charlton in the third quarter sacked Hoyer at the Chiefs’ 10 and forced a fumble. The Chiefs recovered.

The Chiefs played without defensive tackle Chris Jones, their leading pass-rusher. He had been listed as questionable for the game with a groin injury. Jones led the Chiefs coming into the game with 3.5 sacks.

Kicker Harrison Butker missed a point-after touchdown for the second consecutive game. He did make both of his field goal attempts. Butker missed a 42-yard try last week.

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Herbert shoots 65 to take Scottish Open lead

Australian golfer Lucas Herbert carded seven birdies and one bogey in a 6-under 65 to lead the Scottish Open by one shot on Friday going into the weekend.

Herbert considered quitting the game as he struggled during the middle of the 2019 season, but finds himself in contention for his second European Tour title after conquering his first in January in Dubai.

At 11 under par, he’s a shot ahead of Robert Rock, and two ahead of two more Englishmen, Ian Poulter and overnight leader Lee Westwood.

“To be honest, I turned up here on Wednesday and hit it all over the place,” Herbert stated. “Sort of not really expecting too much the last few days, but it’s kind of all come together nicely. My iron play has been great, which has taken the pressure off, and I haven’t had to get it up and down from ball washers to try and save pars.”

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Poulter added a second round of 66 to his opening 67 at the Renaissance Club for a halfway total of 9 under which was matched by playing partner Westwood.

Westwood could follow a brilliant 62 on Thursday with only a 71.

“It’’ nice to be in contention and good to come back, play and support the tour,” the U.S.-based Poulter stated.

“It’s great that we have these events on right now, to be able to showcase the tour a bit and I’m not thinking anything about Saturday bar bringing an umbrella and a pair of waterproofs.

“The weather forecast looks horrific, 20 mph (32 kph) winds and a couple of inches (5 centimeters) of rain. You can be blown off the course easily, but we’re at the right end of the leaderboard to try and batten down the hatches, dig in deep, and hold strong as much as you possibly can.”

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Doc Rivers out as LA Clippers coach after ‘disappointing’ end to season

Doc Rivers has stepped down as coach of the LA Clippers in what chairman Steve Ballmer called a “mutual decision.”

The team fell well short of its championship expectations this campaign after getting All-Stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George last summer in what were NBA-altering moves.

“Doc has been a terrific coach for the Clippers, an incredible ambassador, and a pillar of strength during tumultuous times,” Ballmer said in a statement Monday. “He won a heck of a lot of games and laid a foundation for this franchise.”

Rivers had two years left on his contract, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

The Clippers went 49-23 in the regular season, the fourth-best record in franchise history, but squandered a 3-1 series lead in the Western Conference semifinals versus the Denver Nuggets, surrendering leads of 16, 19 and 12 points as the franchise’s Western Conference finals drought reached 50 years.

Rivers has been the coach in five of the Clippers’ six best regular seasons. Rivers is the only coach in NBA history to lose a 3-1 lead in three playoff series, having previously done so with the Clippers in the 2015 West semis versus the Houston Rockets and with the Orlando Magic in the first round versus the Detroit Pistons in 2003.

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This team was considered a championship contender from the moment the Clippers signed Leonard in free agency and traded for George.

After the Clippers completely unraveled for a third straight game in a 104-89 loss to the Nuggets in Game 7, Rivers said the title expectations were not too heavy for his team, even though the Clippers fell short of reaching what many thought all season would be a West finals showdown with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Rivers took over as Clippers coach in June 2013 and was later promoted to president of basketball operations in conjunction with his coaching duties, before giving up that post in August 2017.

In Rivers’ seven seasons at the helm, the Clippers went 356-208, winning 63.1% of their regular-season games — the fifth-best record in the NBA and the best by any team without a conference finals appearance.

Rivers went 3-8 in potential series-clinching matches with the Clippers, tied for the worst mark by a single coach with one team.

His 943 career victories is the 11th most by a head coach all time. The Clippers’ job becomes the sixth current vacancy in the NBA, along with Houston, Indiana, Philadelphia, Oklahoma City and New Orleans. New York, Brooklyn and Chicago have already filled vacancies in their offseasons.

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Denver Broncos WR Courtland Sutton out for season

The Denver Broncos’ passing attack now will have to forge on without not only its starting quarterback but also its top target.

Wide receiver Courtland Sutton is out for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered in Sunday’s loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, coach Vic Fangio confirmed Monday.

Sutton had three catches for 66 yards before exiting the match. He missed the Broncos’ Week 1 loss to the Tennessee Titans while dealing with a sprained AC joint. Sutton, 24, earned a Pro Bowl berth last season after recording 72 catches for 1,112 yards and six touchdowns.

He was expected to be the focal point of a passing attack that returned second-year tight end Noah Fant and added dynamic rookie receivers Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler.

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The injury is just the latest in a series of significant blows to a Denver team that was looking to break out in Fangio’s second season at the helm.

Quarterback Drew Lock suffered a “bad bruise” on his shoulder that will force him to miss three to five weeks, Fangio stated Monday. Three-time All-Pro pass-rusher Von Miller suffered a dislocated peroneal tendon that multiple reports indicated could sideline him for the remainder of the campaign.

Running back Phillip Lindsay (toe) also is expected to miss several weeks, per multiple reports, and cornerback A.J. Bouye (shoulder) will sit out at least two more games after being placed on injured reserve.

An already young Broncos offense will now feature one of the youngest wide receiver groups in the league as three rookies — Jerry Jeudy, KJ Hamler and Tyrie Cleveland — will get plenty of work in the weeks ahead. Fangio said “it will be the guys on the roster filling that void [left by Sutton].”

Denver had seven wideouts on roster and will go with six for now. The Broncos host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next week before facing the New York Jets on the road in a “Thursday Night Football” matchup.

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Giolito pitches 1st no-hitter of year, White Sox top Pirates

Lucas Giolito pitched the first no-hitter of the pandemic-delayed major league campaign, striking out 13 and permitting just one runner in leading the Chicago White Sox over the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-0 Tuesday night.

With the seats at Guaranteed Rate Field empty, the hollers of his teammates echoed around the ballpark after right fielder Adam Engel extended to catch Erik Gonzalez’s slicing drive toward the line for the final out.

“I’ve been working for this type of game for a while now and it’s really cool that we got it done,” Giolito stated.

An All-Star last year, the 26-year-old Giolito (3-2) matched his career high for strikeouts set in his previous start versus Detroit.

Only a four-pitch walk to Gonzalez leading off the fourth inning got in Giolito’s way of perfection. The right-hander threw 101 pitches and made quick work of the Pirates — Pittsburgh came into the game batting just .229 this season and has the worst record in the majors. The White Sox rushed toward the mound after the final out to celebrate Giolito’s first career no-hitter.

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Giolito was fully aware in the later innings what was at stake.

“After the seventh, six more outs, looking at who I was facing, became very, very, very possible,” he said, “and then we were able to get it done.”

Giolito said his approach never wavered.

“Just staying with the same, like, mental routine for every single pitch. One pitch at a time. Full focus, full execution, straight through the target,” he said.

Giolito pitched the 19th no-hitter in White Sox history and first since Philip Humber threw a perfect game at Seattle in 2012. This was the seventh time the Pirates have been held hitless, previously by Washington’s Max Scherzer in 2015.

White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson made a nifty play on a grounder by Bryan Reynolds up the middle in the seventh to preserve the gem. In the ninth, Gonzalez hit a liner that Engel, a fleet center fielder for most of his career, caught on the run at knee-high height.

“Yeah man, I think I got it,” Gonzalez said. “With that at-bat, I was a little bit mad because I don’t want to be part of history.” Giolito improved to 30-28 in his big league career. He made his debut with Washington in 2016, then was traded after that season to the White Sox in a package for outfielder Adam Eaton.

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Mets pitcher Marcus Stroman opts out of 2020 season

Marcus Stroman’s recuperation from a torn left calf muscle was almost complete, and he was in line to possibly make his season debut for the New York Mets next week versus the Miami Marlins.

But the idea of traveling to one of the country’s coronavirus hot spots played a factor in Stroman’s decision Monday to opt out of the 2020 campaign.

“Obviously, you see the Cardinals, the Marlins, you see spikes everywhere in the country, you see protocols not being handled properly from citizens everywhere,” Stroman said during a Zoom call. “You see us going to Florida soon. That was a big discussion I had with my family. Going to see the Marlins soon, that’s something I don’t want to be in that situation.”

Stroman, booked to become a free agent after the season, is the second Mets player to opt out this month. Designated hitter Yoenis Cespedes left the team Aug. 2. Stroman said he had daily conversations with his family about what to do. His grandmother and uncle have compromised immune systems and are around his mother on a regular basis.

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“This was a decision I had to kind of take myself out of it and look out for the best interests of my family,” Stroman said.

His decision came four days after he threw 85 pitches in his second simulated game and a day before he was arranged to throw another simulated game.

On Sunday, manager Luis Rojas expressed hope it would be the last simulated game for Stroman, who was injured during the Mets’ summer workouts. New York’s next road trip is to begin Friday at Philadelphia and conclude with a four-game set at Miami Aug. 17-20.

Rojas said he understood Stroman’s decision but was surprised.

“He wanted to do another one just to play it safe and see how he felt coming out of it and then come join us,” Rojas said Monday. “But, once again, we fully support him.”

Stroman will go on the restricted list, allowing the Mets to clear a spot on the 40-man roster.

Stroman’s exit further weakens a rotation that looked like one of the best before the pandemic shut the game down in March. While two-time reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom has been impressive in four starts, Noah Syndergaard is out for the season after Tommy John surgery and Michael Wacha went on the injured list Sunday with a shoulder injury Sunday.

With Stroman out, rookie left-hander David Peterson, who is 2-1 with a 3.78 ERA in his first three big league starts, is locked into a rotation spot. General manager Brodie Van Wagenen said relievers Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman are possibilities to fill the fifth spot.

Stroman was 4-2 with a 3.77 ERA in 11 starts last season for the Mets, who acquired him a little over a year ago. He grew up on Long Island about 50 miles from Citi Field.

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Giants lose third opt-out player with CB Sam Beal’s decision

The New York Giants took another hit at a position of concern when cornerback Sam Beal decided to opt out of the 2020 NFL campaign.

According to the NFL’s daily transaction wire, linebacker Josiah Tauaefa was also removed from the reserve/COVID-19 list one day after being placed on it.

Beal becomes the third Giants player to take the opt-out route, joining offensive tackle Nate Solder and wide receiver/kick returner D’Mari Scott. Under the agreement reached between the NFL and NFLPA, players had the option of opting out of the upcoming season without penalty by 4 p.m. on Thursday.

The opt out is irreversible. The Giants already had question marks at cornerback prior to Beal’s decision. Cornerback DeAndre Baker is on the commissioner’s exempt list and faces charges of armed robbery and aggravated assault with a firearm. He is unlikely to play another snap with the Giants.

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Baker was a first-round pick last year. Beal was a third-round supplemental pick out of Central Michigan in 2018 who missed his entire rookie season with a shoulder injury. He played in six games with three starts last season and finished with 25 tackles and one pass defended.

Beal missed the campaign finale with a shoulder injury.

Beal was a third-round supplemental pick out of Central Michigan in 2018 who missed his entire rookie season with a shoulder injury. He played in six games with three starts last season and finished with 25 tackles and one pass defended. He missed the campaign finale with a shoulder injury.

Beal, 23, was expected to be in the mix, along with second-year cornerback Corey Ballentine, for a starting spot opposite offseason acquisition James Bradberry. Rookie fourth-round pick Darnay Holmes also appears to be in serious contention for the job.

Beal’s absence now leaves the Giants with an obvious void and a lack of depth. A source indicated recently — even before Beal’s opt out — that the team was searching for cornerback help on the waiver wire or via free agency.

Among the alternatives on the open market are veterans Logan Ryan, Aqib Talib and Dre Kirkpatrick. New coach Joe Judge has firsthand experience with Ryan and Talib from their time in New England. Ryan appears to be the most likely option, especially since the Giants will gain $13.55 million in salary-cap space from Solder’s decision to sit out the 2020 NFL season.

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Denver Broncos’ Von Miller considered opting out of season

Dozens of players have decided to opt out of the 2020 NFL campaign due to COVID-19 concerns, and Denver Broncos pass-rusher Von Miller considered doing so as well.

The eight-time Pro Bowler was the second NFL player to reportedly test positive for the coronavirus back in May, but he feels as though the job the Broncos are doing to keep their players safe is enough for him to feel ready to return to the field.

“I weighed the positives and negatives and came to my own decision and felt like I could play,” Miller said during a video conference, per the Denver Post. “The job the Broncos are doing to keep us safe was enough for me to not opt out.”

Miller stated earlier this offseason that he was “shocked” to learn that he had tested positive for COVID-19 since he had been taking safety provisions seriously.  “It was hard for me to get my wind back for probably two or three weeks after the virus,” Miller said.

“Everybody’s symptoms aren’t the same, but for me, I lost my taste and smell. I couldn’t really eat because when you can’t taste or smell food, you lose your appetite.”

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The former first-round pick was an early advocate for daily testing and said that it was the key to the NFL being able to host a safe and successful season. The league ended up taking Miller’s advice, as players are required to register multiple negative tests before they are permitted to take their physicals and hit the practice field. 

If there was one positive thing to come from his COVID-19 experience, Miller said that it has definitely started conversations among his teammates in the locker room. Since he takes it seriously, Denver’s other players will as well. 

“From my teammates, I get all types of questions about the virus,” Miller said. “I feel like it’s me pushing (the conversation) out there and saying, ‘This thing is serious. It’s very, very serious.’ … We see the types of things happening in baseball (with outbreaks) and we just don’t want that to happen in the NFL.”

While Miller will not be opting out this year, players have until Thursday at 4 p.m. ET to opt out of the 2020 season.

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Patriots’ Dont’a Hightower to opt out of 2020 season

A huge piece of the New England Patriots’ defense has decided to opt out of the 2020 season.

Linebacker Dont’a Hightower will opt out of the season, NFL Network’s Michael Giardi confirmed Tuesday.

Hightower became a first-time father on July 16. His mother also has Type 2 diabetes.

According to an agreement approved by both the league and the NFL Players Association, players considered high risk for COVID-19 can earn $350,000 and an accrued NFL season if they choose to opt out. Players who voluntarily opt out of the campaign will receive a $150,000 salary advance and their contract will toll.

“Me and my fiancée are just more concerned with the health of our family than football — especially the new addition to our family,” Hightower told NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport.

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Hightower’s foundation annually raises money for the American Diabetes Association, which has important meaning to him as his mother, L’Tanya, was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Hightower keeps a picture of his mother at his locker.

Hightower was booked to earn a base salary of $8 million in the final year of his contract, which will roll over to 2021.

The decision is a big blow to a Patriots defense already undergoing a transition with Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins and Elandon Roberts leaving via free agency.

Hightower is a thumper in the middle of the Pats defense who has the flexibility to rush the passer. Per Pro Football Focus, Hightower led all off-ball linebackers in total pressures over the past three seasons with 80. The loss is important from an on-field production and a locker-room leadership standpoint for Bill Belichick’s squad.

Hightower is the fifth Patriots player to opt out of the 2020 season. Running back Brandon Bolden will also not play in 2020, per Giardi. Right tackle Marcus Cannon, fullback Danny Vitale and guard Najee Toran also opted out.

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