Tagged in: sunday

Klay Thompson makes season debut for Golden State Warriors

Klay Thompson is back.

And it didn’t take long for Thompson to prove he should be back to his All-Star self in no time.

The Golden State guard made his season debut Sunday in the Warriors’ 96-82 victory versus the Cleveland Cavaliers. It was Thompson’s first game since Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals – a span covering 941 days following a torn ACL and Achilles tendon.

“Very special moment,” Thompson said.

“I’ll never forget this night. I’ll never forget the reception Warriors fans gave us, especially myself. Gosh, it was fun. It was worth every single day of being away. All the conditioning days, it was worth every single moment. I’m so grateful to just compete again. It’s been a long time. I’m also proud of myself for just persevering. I’m not going to say it was equivalent to winning a championship, but man, it was pretty freaking close.”

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Thompson, who was in the starting lineup alongside longtime teammates Steph Curry and Draymond Green, had 17 points, including seven quick points at the start of the third quarter, on 7-for-18 shooting and 3-for-8 on 3-pointers in 20 minutes.

“Wasn’t shy was he? Not that we would ever expect Klay to be shy,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr stated. “I was amazed at his poise out there and his confidence after being out for so long. … A beautiful night.”

Of the 18 shots in 20 minutes, Curry said, “That is so Klay Thompson.”

Thompson dropped in a runner in the paint with 11:20 left in the first quarter on the Warriors’ first possession, but Golden State coach Steve Kerr stated he didn’t call the play for Thompson who missed his first three 3-point attempts and checked out with 7:37 left in the first quarter.

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Seattle Seahawks’ Bobby Wagner hopes he plays Sunday, optimistic he stays with team next season

A week after acknowledging his unclear future with the Seahawks, All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner struck a more hopeful tune Wednesday, saying he has “a lot of optimism” that he’ll be back in 2022 for an 11th season in Seattle.

Wagner stated he hasn’t given up on the chance of playing in the team’s season finale either, saying he’s going to get “as much treatment as I possibly can” on his sprained knee in the hopes of suiting up Sunday versus the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium.

“I’m going to take it one day at a time,” said Wagner, who hurt his knee on the opening play of the Seahawks’ blowout win last week over the Detroit Lions and didn’t return. “I have a lot of days before Sunday and we’re going to see what happens.”

Last week, Wagner answered in the affirmative when asked if he has wondered whether he’ll be back with the Seahawks next season given his huge cap number.

The Seahawks’ defensive captain and longest-tenured player (along with quarterback Russell Wilson) said there’s “obviously” going to be some changes on the heels of Seattle suffering double-digit losses for the first time since 2009 and added, “Whether or not I’m part of those changes, I don’t know.”

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On Wednesday, Wagner was asked if that insecurity has given him any more incentive to play Sunday.

“Not really, because in my mind I don’t feel like this is my last time,” he said. “I don’t feel like this is my last time putting on a Seahawks uniform. I don’t feel like this is my last time doing that. I understand there is a business side to this, but there is a lot of optimism on my end that I’ll be back. So I’m not worried about it. Obviously, I can’t control everything. I can only control my part. And my part on this is I feel like I love this city. I love this team. I love the Seahawks. So I always wanted to be a part of a franchise’s good times and bad times and every time. So this is a team that I would love to be able to be a part of for a very, very long time.

“So on my end, that’s where I’m at, that I’m a Seahawk until they tell me I’m not. So that’s my mindset. So I don’t see it as that was my last game or this next game could be my next game.”

Wagner, 31, serves as his own agent and negotiated his three-year, $54 million extension in 2019, then a record for off-the-ball linebackers in terms of annual average.

He’s arranged to count $20.35 million against the salary cap next season — second on the team to Wilson’s $37 million cap hit for 2022 — in what’s scheduled to be the final year of that deal. None of the $16.6 million Wagner could earn next season is guaranteed.

Wagner was asked what gives him optimism that he’ll be back next year.

“I would like to say that I’m a pretty good businessman and I would like to say I have a lot of respect here,” Wagner said. “So I’m just going to go into my businessman mentality and work some stuff out.”

Asked whether that means he’d be amenable to working out a different contract with Seattle, Wagner said with a smile: “I didn’t say that. … I said I’m a businessman. That’s all I said. Put my business cap on. I did not say I’m doing all that.”

Wagner was named to the Pro Bowl for an eight consecutive season last month, and he could be a first-team All-Pro for the seventh time.

Wagner is the Seahawks’ all-time tackles leader and broke his own franchise record for tackles in a season two weeks ago. His 170 tackles were leading the league until last week, when he was overtaken by the Atlanta Falcons’ Foyesade Oluokun (179).

Wagner hadn’t missed a snap this season until he was hurt versus Detroit when his foot slipped as he tried to plant on the wet turf at Lumen Field. He tried to return for the next snap following the injury timeout but had to miss at least one play per NFL rules. That’s when the Seahawks decided to take him to the locker room for evaluation and ultimately kept him there for the remainder of the game.

Coach Pete Carroll called it a sprained knee capsule and said the injury wouldn’t require surgery. He said the team is keeping its fingers crossed that he can play Sunday.

As expected, Wagner didn’t practice Wednesday.

“I just want to thank everybody that reached out,” he said. “I’m good. Ain’t got to worry about nothing. It’s not serious. I’m grateful that I do yoga. I just learned that I can do the splits if I want to.”

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Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield to have shoulder surgery ASAP, won’t play Sunday

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield won’t play Sunday versus the Cincinnati Bengals, so that he can move forward with surgery to repair the torn labrum in his non-throwing left shoulder.

Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said Mayfield’s surgery could happen as soon as this week. A league source told ESPN that Mayfield could be back in time to participate in OTAs, which typically take place in May or June around the league.

Mayfield, who has been playing with the shoulder injury since Week 2, admitted following Monday night’s loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers that he was “pretty damn beat up.” Mayfield was sacked nine times in the game.

“I’ve continued to lay it out on the line when I haven’t been healthy and tried to fight for our guys,” said Mayfield, who’s been playing with a harness on the shoulder to prevent it from popping out of place. “Now it’s time for me to start looking at what’s in the best interest of me and my health.”

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The Browns (7-9) were eliminated from playoff contention on Sunday when the Bengals clinched the AFC North Division title.

Mayfield, who quarterbacked Cleveland to its first playoff triumph in 26 years last season, has struggled since suffering the shoulder injury, ranking 26th in the league in QBR (35.2).

On Monday, he also became the first NFL quarterback since 2019 to throw 10 consecutive incompletions, and the first since 2017 to be sacked at least five times and have five passes batted down at the line of scrimmage in the same game.

On Tuesday, Stefanski acknowledged that the shoulder injury and harness had affected Mayfield’s performance this season, but had no regrets about not giving him an extended rest to recover at any point.

“Throughout this whole thing, we have tried to make the right decision based on all the information available to us,” Stefanski said. “Constant dialogue with our medical staff, with Baker, and throughout have really felt comfortable based on all that information that he was able to play.”

Mayfield is under contract with Cleveland through the 2022 season, with the Browns having already exercised the fifth-year option on his rookie deal.

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Buffalo Bills WR Cole Beasley on reserve/COVID-19 list, will miss game against New England Patriots

Wide receiver Cole Beasley was added to the reserve/COVID-19 list by the Buffalo Bills on Tuesday, becoming the fifth player on the active roster and seventh overall on the list.

Beasley tested positive, a source confirmed to ESPN’s Field Yates, and remains unvaccinated. He will at minimum miss the game versus the New England Patriots on Sunday and be out for 10 days. In an Instagram post Tuesday evening, Beasley said he was “feeling fine with mild symptoms.”

The game against the Patriots will decide which team takes the lead in the AFC East race with the playoffs just three weeks away. “Just to be clear COVID is not keeping me out of this game. The rules are,” Beasley wrote Tuesday on Instagram.

“Vaxxed players are playing with Covid every week now because they don’t test. One of my vaxxed teammates is in the hospital missing games. I’m sure he didn’t get this same energy. Thank you for those who support. Everyone else, if you don’t get what’s happening then there is nothing anybody can do for you.”

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Teammate Jon Feliciano, who also is on the COVID-19 list, posted on Twitter Tuesday that he “ended up in the ER on Sunday.” He appears to be the teammate “in the hospital” Beasley referenced in his post.

Left tackle Dion Dawkins, guard Feliciano, defensive end AJ Epenesa and linebacker Tyrel Dodson have been placed on the list in the past week.

All four missed the team’s victory over the Carolina Panthers, although Epenesa was out due to an ankle injury and placed on the list Monday.

Beasley was previously placed on the COVID-19 list in August after being designated a close contact with a member of the team’s training staff, but tested negative at the time. He was also fined, along with receiver Isaiah McKenzie, for not wearing masks in the facility.

Beasley was outspoken on social media regarding the COVID-19 vaccine, but the slot receiver deleted his Twitter account during the season, calling it a distraction.

“When I first got here, I got away from [social media], and then things happen,” Beasley stated in October. “And the issues that we have at hand, and I just felt like I needed to take responsibility for the guys that couldn’t.

“But it’s good for me to get back to where I wanted to be, and it’s not on there. The real world is out here and not there. Most people say things on there that you don’t want to hear. And it’s definitely a weight lifted, and I feel like I did the right thing.”

Beasley referenced not having an issue with others being vaccinated, but instead aimed the response toward those who chose not to. He often got into conversations on Twitter with fans and even teammates, speaking out against the NFL and NFLPA’s protocols.

Despite Beasley’s absence, the Bills’ passing offense still has a plethora of weapons available. McKenzie will likely see increased opportunities in the slot against New England without Beasley on the field.

Stefon Diggs is the top receiver, and Gabriel Davis has emerged as a strong No. 2 option with touchdowns in each of the past three games, in addition to tight end Dawson Knox being one of quarterback Josh Allen’s top targets in the middle of the field.

Beasley has 76 receptions for 640 yards and one touchdown this year.

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Steelers try to keep playoff hopes alive as Titans visit

Ben Roethlisberger still considers the Pittsburgh Steelers have what it takes to be a playoff team.

Time is running out, however, to prove it.

“We’ve got to make a run,” Roethlisberger said.

At this point, one step in the right direction would be considered progress.

The Steelers (6-6-1) have been spinning their wheels for more than a month heading into a visit by AFC South-leading Tennessee (9-4) on Sunday, mired in a five-game funk in which they’ve won just once and been bullied in a way they haven’t been bullied in decades.

A defense that concluded third in the league last season is now in danger of finishing in the bottom 10 for the first time in 30 years.

While Roethlisberger and the rookie-laden offense have had their fair share of issues, it’s what’s happening on the other side of the ball that’s been far more alarming.

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Three times in the last month the Steelers have found themselves trailing by at least 17 points.

Twice they put together rallies to make it respectable, but respectable margins don’t count in the win column — though it’s telling of how wide open the underwhelming AFC North is that Pittsburgh finds itself in the mix as Christmas looms despite just two victories since Halloween.

“You can’t spend a lot of time looking at big-picture perspective,” Tomlin said.

Maybe because the smaller picture is so daunting. The Titans are in a position to win their second consecutive division title even without star running back Derrick Henry, who hasn’t played since October due to a foot injury. Tennessee has found a way despite having 50 different players start at least one game. Only New Orleans has had more.

Tennessee’s success is a testament to its depth and the steadying presence of coach Mike Vrabel. “Things haven’t been perfect for us up until this point, but we have ourselves in a good situation,” Tennessee quarterback Ryan Tannehill said.

“Coach Vrabel has talked about this last two weeks and that is that we are just getting started. Have a lot of football out in front of us and we want to play our best football here down the stretch.”

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Man Utd beat Crystal Palace on Ralf Rangnick bow thanks to Fred goal

Manchester United earned a 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace on new manager Ralf Rangnick’s debut thanks to Fred’s second-half goal at Old Trafford in the Premier League on Sunday.

With just 13 minutes left, and only moments after Palace’s Jordan Ayew had missed a massive chance, Fred found the net after a neat pull back from Mason Greenwood.

Rangnick, who was revealed as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s replacement on Monday, was unable to lead from the dugout during Thursday’s 3-2 victory over Arsenal, so Sunday marked his first official game in charge.

United’s players showed they had taken their new manager’s instructions on board as they pressed from the front and played at a noticeably quicker tempo.

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The home side were by far the better team throughout as they closed down Palace at every chance and refused to allow their opponents any time on the ball.

Rangnick started with Cristiano Ronaldo in attack alongside Marcus Rashford with the two supported by Jadon Sancho and Bruno Fernandes, but United rarely threatened Palace goalkeeper Vicente Guaita with the final ball clearly lacking.

Palace had won on their two previous visits to Old Trafford, and as the match wore on and United’s players were unable to press with the same intensity, causing some frustration among the home fans, there was a sense the visitors could make it a third consecutive success.

On 75 minutes, Ayew fired James Tomkins’ knockdown across goal and wide with David de Gea beaten as Cheikhou Kouyate could not get on the end of it — and they were made to pay for that miss as Fred opened the scoring just two minutes later.

The clean sheet was United’s first at Old Trafford this season and it took them to three points behind fourth-place West Ham United, while Palace remain 13th.

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Minnesota Vikings RB Dalvin Cook has dislocated shoulder

Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook dislocated his shoulder during Sunday’s loss to the San Francisco 49ers, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Cook is anticipated to miss at least the next two matches — Sunday at the Detroit Lions and the following Thursday versus the Pittsburgh Steelers — with the hope being he can return the next week for the Monday, Dec. 20, game at the Chicago Bears, the source told Schefter.

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer would not disclose the nature of Cook’s injury Monday and stated his star running back was “day-to-day.”

“That’s what they’re telling me,” Zimmer said.

Cook was carted off the field late in the third quarter and ruled out for the remainder of the game.

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He was injured after being brought down by Niners defensive tackle Kevin Givens following a handoff.

The running back lost the ball in the process of being tackled and immediately grabbed for his chest with his right arm when he hit the ground.

He stayed down on the field for several minutes as athletic trainers tended to him. Both Vikings and Niners players knelt around Cook while he was moved onto a cart before being taken off the field and back into the locker room for further evaluation.

Cook’s day ended with 10 carries for 39 yards and six receptions for 64 yards. He was replaced by backup running back Alexander Mattison, who rushed three times for 8 yards and caught one pass for 2 yards after Cook left.

In other news Monday, the Viking placed cornerback Patrick Peterson on the reserve/COVID-19 list, putting his availability for Sunday’s game versus the Lions in question.

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Lions, Browns both desperate for wins entering Sunday’s game

The starting quarterback is injured and won’t be close to 100% — if he even plays. The passing game isn’t producing nearly enough big plays or points and the season has grown desperate.

The Cleveland Browns have similar complications.

Shaken by an embarrassing, humbling 38-point loss at New England last week, when Patriots coach Bill Belichick seemed to enjoy toying with his former team, the Browns (5-5) head into Sunday’s matchup versus the Lions (0-8-1) without any more wiggle room in a season going sideways.

Their hopes of winning the AFC North, making the playoffs and perhaps a Super Bowl title run seem a bit far-fetched at the moment. But in a nonsensical season in which elite teams are few and far between, anything seems possible.

“We’re within striking distance,” said Browns left guard Joel Bitonio, who has been on more than a few roller-coaster rides in Cleveland since 2014. “We’re not where we want to be, but we have everything left. There’s a lot less room for error now, but we’re good.”

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Actually, it’s hard to figure out the Browns — one of the NFL’s most talented yet unpredictable teams.

Two weeks ago, they overpowered Cincinnati 41-16 while playing their most complete match this season.

A week later, it was just the opposite as the Browns couldn’t do anything right.

The past few days have been filled with corrections and reflection.

“It’s a humbling process,” said quarterback Baker Mayfield, who expects to face the Lions despite shoulder, foot and knee injuries. “It’s very easy to look around and try to find excuses, but when it comes down to it we have seven more games right now to be able to figure out how to make it work.

“And we have a lot of division games in front of us, and that’s the most important part.”

The Browns aren’t good enough to take anyone lightly, especially the Lions, who managed a 16-16 tie last week at Pittsburgh and were within a missed field goal in overtime of shocking the Steelers.

Detroit returned from its bye week emphasizing the run on offense and playing with the same intensity on defense that has kept the Lions in most games.

Bitonio played on Cleveland’s 0-16 team in 2017, when the Browns lost twice in OT and lost four other games by four points or less.

He said the Lions will not be overlooked.

“They play as hard as anybody,” said Bitonio, who has warned his younger teammates about the pitfalls of overconfidence. “It’s not like you’re at Alabama, just walk in and beat a team. Records don’t mean anything. You come out, you have to perform. “You just have these games where it’s like, ‘Oh, this team should win.’ But it’s the NFL, so anything can happen.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Novak Djokovic downs Daniil Medvedev to claim record sixth Paris Masters title

Novak Djokovic won a record 37th Masters title by avenging his US Open final defeat versus Russian Daniil Medvedev with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory at the Paris Masters on Sunday.

Djokovic moved one clear of fellow 20-time Grand Slam winner Rafael Nadal for Masters trophies, and nine ahead of Roger Federer, the other tennis great with 20 majors.

The victory also marked a record-extending sixth Paris Masters title.

The Serbian, who is guaranteed to secure the year-end world No. 1 spot for a record seventh time, needed time to adjust to break the world No. 2’s sturdy defense but was unstoppable once he found his opening.

Djokovic was looking to avoid ending a season without a Masters title for the first time since 2017 and kept his cool throughout to accomplish his mission against the holder.

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Medvedev was overwhelmed in the third set and bowed out of the contest on the first match point when Djokovic unleashed a superb forehand winner down the line.

Two months after Medvedev denied Djokovic a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam men’s singles title when he beat him at Flushing Meadows, the Russian was hoping to lock his opponent into a backhand-to-backhand battle again.

Medvedev broke in the opening game as Djokovic made a flurry of unforced errors with the lanky Russian keeping him on the back foot.

The world No. 1 leveled for 2-2, but Medvedev stole his serve again to move 4-3 up with a splendid sliced backhand at the net.

The Russian then held serve twice to pocket the first set when Djokovic returned long.

The Serbian, however, turned the tables in the second set, going 3-1 up as Medvedev buried a backhand into the net.

Djokovic served and volleyed to save a break point at 5-3 and saw off a second with a big serve. Medvedev set up a third with a spectacular block at the net but the top seed’s first serve again came to the rescue.

Djokovic eventually took the match into a decider with an ace on his third set point.

He broke for 3-2 courtesy of three unforced errors by Medvedev and stole his opponent’s serve again to move 5-2 up.

Serving for the match, Djokovic gave Medvedev too much space and the Russian pulled a break back, but his tank was empty and he surrendered on his serve in the next game.

Medvedev complained he had been bothered by a spectator making too much noise in the crowd.

“I got mad because crucial, crucial moment, 5-2 for him, double break, even if I manage to get the break back, we all know that against Novak it’s tough to actually come back from this score,” he told a news conference.

“I got mad because it was not nice, and it was done on purpose. Some of the spectators, they were just into the match and you could feel it. You’re getting ready for serve, they were like, Allez, Novak or Allez, Daniil. But you could feel it was like they are just trying not to be in the game, and you wait.

“This one was done, when I did the toss already, it was done by a Serbian spectator … I hope he doesn’t watch tennis anymore.”

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