Tagged in: team

Broncos are expecting same old Raiders even without Gruden

Denver Broncos star linebacker Von Miller still sees the Las Vegas Raiders as Jon Gruden’s team even after their rival’s iconic coach resigned in disgrace.

While acknowledging “how they call the game will definitely change because they have a new play caller,” Miller insisted, “what they do is what they do.”

“They’re not going to come out here and be an option team. They’re not just going to come out here and change their whole identity because Gruden’s gone,” Miller argued. “They’re still going to do some of the things that they do well. We just don’t know when they will do it.

“To be honest, that’s really every week that we go out there,” Miller added. “We really don’t know what the other team is going to present.”

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Longtime special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia makes his debut as the Raiders’ interim head coach Sunday, with offensive coordinator Greg Olson taking over play-calling duties in a matchup pitting 3-2 teams who are seeking their first victory in October.

“No one wants to be a head coach in this particular situation, no one wants to be put in front of this under these particular circumstances,” said Bisaccia, whose first NFL job was under Gruden in 2002, when he was hired as special teams coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“But it’s an incredible opportunity, not only for me but for all the other coaches to see what we can do with this adversity, see what we can do with this challenge.”

Olson’s voice isn’t an unfamiliar one to Raiders quarterback Derek Carr.

“My rookie year he called plays,” Carr said. “I’ve heard his voice through the headset. I know how he calls the game and I know how he thinks. We’re in the same room. Every conversation I had with coach Gruden, I had with Oly this whole time.

“It’s not going to be anything crazy new but there are philosophies that some people have. So, I don’t want to give Oly’s secrets away, but could things be different? Yes. Could things be similar? Yes, absolutely.”

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Atlanta Falcons starting nickel corner Isaiah Oliver out for season with knee injury

Atlanta Falcons starting nickel corner Isaiah Oliver is done for the season and will need surgery, a source told ESPN, after he was carted off the field with a knee injury Sunday versus the Washington Football Team.

The team placed Oliver on injured reserve Tuesday. Oliver, a second-round pick in 2018 out of Colorado, had become one of Atlanta’s top defensive players after moving from outside corner to the slot full-time this year.

He allowed 53.3% of passes thrown at him to be completed, according to Pro Football Reference, and recorded nine tackles, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and three pass breakups.

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The Falcons coaches had been happy with the way Oliver had been playing, and his versatility, praising him in multiple press briefings over the past month.

Now, the team will likely turn to rookie Avery Williams, who was taken in the fifth round out of Boise State, to replace Oliver in the lineup.

Atlanta also placed punter Cam Nizialek on injured reserve after he suffered a right hamstring injury Sunday. The Falcons promoted punter Dustin Colquitt, a two-time Pro Bowler, from the practice squad along with defensive lineman Mike Pennel to take the places of Nizialek and Oliver on the 53-man roster.

The Falcons also signed kicker Elliott Fry and safety Shawn Williams, who has started 60 matches in the NFL, to the practice squad. The Falcons have options when it comes to filling Oliver’s role. But when someone is coming into his own the way Oliver was, it hurts to see the contingency plan enacted.

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DeAndre Jordan intends to sign with Los Angeles Lakers after trade, buyout

After finalizing a contract buyout with the Detroit Pistons, three-time All-Star center DeAndre Jordan intends to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers, sources told ESPN.

Detroit got Jordan, four second-round picks and $5.78 million in a deal with Brooklyn on Friday with the intention of buying out the remaining two years and $20 million on Jordan’s contract, sources told ESPN.

Once the buyout agreement is signed, Jordan will have to clear waivers before becoming a free agent and signing with the Lakers. His contract terms make it virtually impossible for Jordan to be claimed by a team.

Brooklyn got Jahlil Okafor and Sekou Doumbouya in the deal with Detroit, the Nets revealed Saturday.

They will send the Pistons their 2022 and 2027 second-round picks along with the more favorable 2024 second-rounder between the Washington Wizards and Memphis Grizzlies and the more favorable 2025 second-rounder between the Wizards and Golden State Warriors, sources said.

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Trading Jordan’s contract instead of buying it out offers the Nets financial relief in the short term, but also in the future with the repeater tax penalty starting in 2023.

“We appreciate everything DeAndre has contributed to our organization over the past two seasons both on and off the court and wish him and his family the best moving forward,” Nets general manager Sean Marks said in a statement.

Brooklyn had the option of waiving and stretching the $19.7 million owed on Jordan’s deal over five seasons; that would have represented a $3.9 million cap hit that would have lingered on the team’s books from 2021 to 2025.

The move could have saved the Nets money on their luxury tax bill for the next two years but cost them an extra $20 million in 2023-24 and could have reached $50 million in 2024-25 and 2025-26.

The Lakers have signed several veteran players to their bench — including eight-time All-Star center Dwight Howard — and still have three-time All-Star Marc Gasol on the roster.

Jordan was part of a free-agent signing class with Brooklyn that included Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in 2019.

Initially, Jordan alternated at starting center with Jarrett Allen, who was eventually traded to Cleveland as part of the four-team deal that landed the Nets All-NBA guard James Harden.

Once the Nets acquired Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge, Jordan’s role diminished. Jordan averaged 7.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in 57 games played last season in Brooklyn.

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Top New York Jets free-agent signing Carl Lawson ruptures Achilles, will miss 2021 season

New York Jets defensive end Carl Lawson, the team’s biggest free-agent signing from the offseason, will miss the 2021 campaign after rupturing his left Achilles tendon Thursday.

The injury happened during a red zone period in a joint practice between the Jets and Green Bay Packers at the Packers’ facility. Several players took knees and the practice fell ominously quiet as medical personnel tended to Lawson.

Safety Zane Lewis also suffered a season-ending injury during the joint practice as the Jets stated he tore a patella tendon and sprained an MCL. Defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins (knee) and wide receiver Denzel Mims (hip) also were injured Thursday, but their injuries are considered minor and both players are day-to-day, the Jets said.

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Lawson’s season-ending injury is a huge blow to the Jets, who were counting on him to be their primary edge-rushing threat in their new 4-3 front.

He had been dominant in training-camp practices.

The loss of Lawson will force the Jets to retool their defensive line under new head coach Robert Saleh, who spent the last four seasons as the San Francisco 49ers’ defensive coordinator.

Saleh is no stranger to dealing with injuries and still fielding a strong defense. The 49ers ranked No. 5 in total yards allowed last season despite the losses of Nick Bosa, Solomon Thomas, Dee Ford, Richard Sherman and Ezekiel Ansah due to injuries.

Bryce Huff, an undrafted free agent last year out of Memphis, is the favorite to get a chance to replace Lawson as a primary pass-rusher for the Jets.

The Jets signed Lawson to a three-year, $45 million contract in March. He spent his first four seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals. Lawson has a history of major injuries. He tore his left ACL at Auburn in 2014, and he tore his right ACL with the Bengals in 2018.

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Green Bay Packers bringing back Jake Dolegala for QB depth

With Jordan Love’s shoulder still an issue and Aaron Rodgers not expected to play in the preseason, the Green Bay Packers are bringing back quarterback Jake Dolegala.

The signing was not revealed by the team but was made public by his agency, Generation Sports Group.

The team will have to make room on the roster before it can make it official. They were at the NFL-mandated limit of 85 players as of Tuesday.

Dolegala spent nearly two months with the Packers this offseason. He was signed in June after participating in the team’s mandatory minicamp but was released on July 27 shortly before training camp, when Rodgers ended his holdout and returned to the team. The Packers also released veteran Blake Bortles on the same day.

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Love injured his right (throwing) shoulder in the Packers’ preseason opener on Saturday. Coach Matt LaFleur implied that there’s no long-term concern but that Love might miss some time. He was held out of practice on Monday, and the team did not practice on Tuesday. They Packers start two days of joint practices with the New York Jets on Wednesday leading into their preseason game on Saturday.

LaFleur said Love could “potentially” play versus the Jets.

Love was expected to play into the third quarter last week against the Houston Texans but instead was pulled at halftime. Kurt Benkert, the third quarterback on the roster, played the second half.

Dolegala was originally signed by the Bengals as an undrafted free agent in 2019. He was the Bengals’ No. 3 QB that season but was released following the 2020 training camp. He spent parts of last season on the Patriots’ practice squad and briefly returned to them early in training camp this year.

Before Tuesday’s cut to 85, the Packers also swapped cornerbacks with the New York Giants. They traded 2018 second-round pick Josh Jackson for 2018 third-round pick Isaac Yiadom.

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Seattle Seahawks cut DE Aldon Smith for off-the-field matter

Aldon Smith’s hopes of continuing his NFL comeback with the Seattle Seahawks are over.

The team waived the veteran defensive end, it announced, with sources telling ESPN the move was due to an off-the-field matter. The decision is not football-related but rather the result of Smith violating the team’s trust, according to a source.

The 31-year-old Smith has faced alcohol and legal issues for much of his NFL career, including an arrest in April on a second-degree battery charge in Louisiana.

That incident occurred shortly after the Seahawks signed him to a minimum-salary deal hoping that he could keep his personal life in order and continue his career revival, which started last season with the Dallas Cowboys after he missed the previous four seasons because of NFL suspensions. Smith has been staying in a sober living home in Seattle, as he did last season in Dallas.

While speaking with reporters on July 31 for the first time since signing with the Seahawks, Smith said his “tremendous support staff” helps him with his ongoing attempt to remain sober.

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“For me, it was just making myself vulnerable and being willing to trust and lean on [those] people,” he said. “I’ve always had people that were there, but I would always try to carry everything on my shoulders. So letting people help me and accepting that help was a major game-changer.”

Smith had been impressing the Seahawks with his play during training camp.

“Really good” was how one team source last week described how Smith was looking on the field. He played in the Seahawks’ mock game Sunday at Lumen Field and practiced Tuesday after the team’s day off.

Smith is scheduled to be arraigned Aug. 24 in connection to his April arrest in Louisiana. He is accused of choking a man unconscious during an altercation that started inside a New Orleans-area coffee shop. According to the police report obtained by WWL-TV, Smith had confronted the man about marital issues the man was having with one of Smith’s relatives.

Two days before that incident, the Seahawks signed Smith to a one-year, $1.1 million contract that included $137,500 guaranteed.

Smith did not take part in the Seahawks’ voluntary offseason program — many of their veteran players declined to take part until the final week — and received an excused absence from their mandatory minicamp in June. Coach Pete Carroll said Smith was not physically ready to practice at the time.

After Smith worked himself into shape heading into training camp, Carroll commented about how hard Smith had worked to get his body ready and how quickly he was picking things up. But Carroll also conveyed the reality that given Smith’s troubles with alcohol, there was more to his quest for a roster spot than what he showed on the field.

“We really sense that the more we can support him, the more, obviously, we can be there for him, the stronger it makes him,” Carroll said July 31. “So that’s really what our intent is here.”

The Louisiana arrest was the latest of Smith’s several legal issues, which have contained multiple DUI arrests and a domestic violence charge. The NFL suspended Smith for parts of the 2014 and 2015 seasons and from 2016 to 2019 for violations of its policies on personal conduct and substance abuse.

He returned to the NFL last season with the Cowboys and had five sacks in 16 games, with three coming in one game against Seattle and all of them coming in the first half of the season. Smith set an NFL record with 33.5 sacks over his first two seasons and has 52.5 sacks in six seasons.

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Team USA falls to France at Tokyo Games for first Olympic men’s basketball loss since 2004

Team USA’s invincibility in men’s basketball is long gone, and the journey to a fourth successive gold medal is already fraught with adversity.

France gut-punched the Americans with a brilliant finish for an 83-76 triumph to open the Tokyo Olympics on Sunday. It snapped a 25-game Olympic winning streak dating back to 2004 for Team USA.

The final blow came when Evan Fournier drilled a 3-pointer with a minute to play to give the French the lead for good, completing their comeback after the U.S. had an eight-point lead with four minutes to play. It was the biggest of his 28 points in one of the finest games he has played in his career.

It was followed by an amazing possession in which the Americans managed to get five shots off and missed them all. The final three were wide-open 3-point attempts by Zach LaVine, Kevin Durant and Jrue Holiday.

“I got to lead the team because I know these guys,” Fournier said. “It’s a hell of a win. Our country is going to be extremely proud. But it’s just one game, to be honest.”

If there was a moment in this match that best encapsulated the situation between these two teams, it came at the end, when the French calmly shook the Americans’ hands and left the floor with the same business-as-usual demeanor Fournier displayed. Two years ago at the World Cup in China, France celebrated wildly after defeating a much-less-talented Team USA.

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“There’s nothing to be surprised about,” Team USA coach Gregg Popovich said before launching into what has become his go-to statement after losses.

“When you lose a game, you’re not surprised. You’re disappointed, but I don’t understand the word surprised. That sort of disses the French team, so to speak, as if we’re supposed to beat them by 30 or something. That’s a hell of a team.”

The French won the bronze at that World Cup, but their talent does not compare to that of the Americans.

And it does not explain how a U.S. team built for scoring and shooting went an unexplainable four and a half minutes without a basket down the stretch.

Fatigue was a factor. Three players didn’t get to the team hotel until 1 a.m. on gameday, an unusual set of circumstances. But one of them, Jrue Holiday, was masterful in the fourth quarter as he scored 12 of his 18 points and contributed several other energy plays to help the U.S. build a lead.

The Americans then had a host of stars to lean on such as Durant, Jayson Tatum and Damian Lillard. But they failed as the French ran an execution clinic.

Popovich seemed annoyed by media questions about the upset, as has been his custom. He has overseen losses in five of the past eight games he has coached for the national team dating back to 2019. There were some who admitted the loss was a disappointment, however.

“I think we have a history of dominance and maybe not always blowing people out, but we have a history of winning. And it’s not often that you see Team USA go out there and lose, especially to start,” stated Lillard, who shot just 3-of-10 and had two critical turnovers late in the game.

Popovich said he’d been thinking about this rematch for two years and daily since the game was drawn in February. But he never figured out how to slow down Fournier as he repeatedly got free for open looks on the perimeter. Even Holiday, who was brilliant in the NBA Finals, helping the Bucks clinch the title Tuesday, couldn’t stem the tide.

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Team USA rebounds from back-to-back losses with blowout of Argentina

Team USA stabilized itself by putting together its most complete match of its Olympic preparation schedule, defeating Argentina 108-80 on Tuesday night.

After back-to-back losses that saw the Americans struggle with offensive execution and defensive stamina, they showed more traction on both fronts 12 days before their Olympic opener in Tokyo.

“I thought we sustained our [stamina] pretty well,” Team USA manager Gregg Popovich said. “Against Australia we competed well, rebounded, played defense, ran the floor and had good pace for a half and then it dissipated for a half. Tonight, we maintained that pretty much throughout the game. Hopefully that’s a sign we’re getting better.”

Kevin Durant, the unquestioned engine of the national team’s offense, had shown some rust after taking some time off following the Brooklyn Nets’ seven-game series loss last month in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Like many of his Team USA teammates, he looked a little flat in the first two exhibitions, which both ended in unexpected defeat. He was just 10-of-26 shooting in those defeats to Nigeria and Australia.

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Durant came out with a purpose Tuesday, swishing a 3-pointer on the game’s first possession.

He scored eight points in the first quarter and ended with 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting.

It was a similar story for Bradley Beal, who shot just 38% and averaged just seven points in the first two games while trying to regain rhythm. Beal made his first four shots, two of them 3-pointers, and ended with 17 points for easily his best game of the exhibitions.

“A sense of urgency is what we’re kind of preaching,” Beal said. “Today we got better, but there’s still a lot more we can improve on. We’re moving in the right direction.”

Despite it being the second game of a back-to-back and a comfortable victory, Popovich played Beal 30 of the game’s 40 minutes in an attempt to help him round into form.

Popovich cited conditioning as a reason the Americans faded down the stretch in the two losses. After a heavy calendar for most of the players over the previous 12 months, players taking time to rest was expected after their seasons ended, but it seems to have contributed to the slow start.

Tuesday’s game also featured a strong performance from Zach LaVine, a late addition to Team USA who has been building a case for more playing time this week. LaVine was in Popovich’s starting lineup for the Jayson Tatum, who sat out to rest a sore knee, and made a statement with 15 points, five rebounds and three assists.

“Somebody’s got to take Tatum’s place,” Popovich said. “So you choose one, simple as that.”

LaVine, who has had more time off as the Chicago Bulls missed the playoffs, is one of the players who seems to be in better rhythm. He had a spectacular highlight dunk in the fourth quarter, rising over a defender and slamming it despite a foul.

It must be said the Argentinians, who came in ranked No. 4 in the world after taking the silver at the 2019 World Cup, were the weakest team the Americans have yet faced. They are 0-3 in the games at Mandalay Bay this week and are an older team. Former NBA player Luis Scola, who is 41, led them with 16 points.

A better test for Team USA’s development will come Friday in a rematch with the Aussies. It will come after two days off to allow for some practice and film work.

“The last thing we want to do is overwork people to the point where we get injuries, but the first priority is we have to get back in shape,” Popovich. “We’re going to continue to work hard like we need to. … Without the condition we can’t get this done.”

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Team USA falls to 0-2 in Olympic exhibitions after loss to Australia

Team USA might indeed win its fourth successive Olympic gold next month in Tokyo. But if they do, it will be a story of overcoming adversity.

The Americans lost their second consecutive exhibition Monday, this time bested by Australia 91-83 in Las Vegas. Dating to the 2019 World Cup, where they concluded seventh, Team USA has lost four of their past five matches.

It also has lost two in a row now to Australia, a team expected to contend for the gold in Japan.

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It was a better showing than the loss to Nigeria on Saturday but just reading those words is a little mind-boggling considering the pedigree of this roster and coaching staff. Damian Lillard, who had 22 points, and Kevin Durant, who had 17 points, definitely looked more like All-Stars. But in the end, they weren’t able to deliver clutch shots.

The final indignity came with one minute to play and the U.S. down five as Jayson Tatum tossed up an air ball on a corner 3-point try. It was better than the next possession, which resulted in a turnover.

The execution differential between the teams was glaring.

Over and over and over the Aussies were able to throw passes into the middle to players either wide open from great cuts or in an advantageous matchup.

Maybe it’s a little early in this process for heavy game planning but it was clear that Australia felt it could take advantage of a relatively small U.S. roster.

Patty Mills, who has long been a star for his national team, had 22 points. Joe Ingles had 17 and the Aussies concluded shooting 53% for the game.

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Jacob Steinmetz selected by Arizona Diamondbacks, becomes 1st known drafted practicing Orthodox Jew

Jacob Steinmetz’s blazing fastball helped make him a baseball draft trailblazer.

The New York native is considered to be the first known practicing Orthodox Jewish player to be selected by a major league team, going in the third round — 77th overall — to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday.

The 6-foot-5, 220-pound Steinmetz, from the hamlet of Woodmere in Long Island, New York, is a 17-year-old right-hander whose repertoire features a fastball that sits in the mid-to-upper 90s and a knee-buckling curveball.

He elevated his draft stock considerably while playing for the Elev8 Baseball Academy in Delray Beach, Florida, this year after previously competing for his high school team, The Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaway of Long Island.

Steinmetz recently told the New York Post he keeps the Sabbath and eats only kosher food, but plays during the Sabbath and on Jewish holidays — although he walks to games during the Sabbath rather than taking transportation. No practicing Orthodox Jewish player has made it to the big leagues.

The selections during the nine rounds Monday were made by teams on a conference call after the first night was a prime-time event at Denver’s Bellco Theater with MLB commissioner Rob Manfred announcing the picks.

Major League Baseball moved the draft from June to July, including it in the All-Star festivities.

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The Pittsburgh Pirates took Louisville slugging catcher Henry Davis with the No. 1 overall pick Sunday night and got him a potential future batterymate to lead off Day 2 by selecting New Jersey high school lefty Anthony Solometo at No. 37.

The Pirates picked athletic Pennsylvania high school outfielder Lonnie White Jr., who signed a letter of intent to play both baseball and football at Penn State, in the competitive balance round between the second and third rounds. Pittsburgh went back to pitching in the third round, taking Georgia high school pitcher and shortstop Bubba Chandler — who has a scholarship offer from Clemson to play quarterback.

The Washington Nationals used their 10th-round pick on Cal infielder Darren Baker, the son of former Washington and current Houston manager Dusty Baker.

Darren Baker was memorably swooped away from home plate by Giants player J.T. Snow during the 2002 World Series, when the 3-year-old Baker was a bat boy. The Nationals also selected Darren Baker in the 27th round of the 2017 draft, but he did not sign and instead played for Cal. He hit .327 for the Golden Bears this campaign.

Arkansas closer Kevin Kopps, the Southeastern Conference Pitcher of the Year and a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award, was taken by the San Diego Padres in the third round.

The 24-year-old right-hander was a sixth-year senior after redshirting as a freshman and missing a year after having Tommy John surgery, but was dominant this season with a Division I-leading 0.90 ERA while winning 12 matches and saving 11.

The Houston Astros took Nevada high school outfielder Tyler Whitaker with their first pick of the draft, which didn’t come until the third round for the second consecutive year as punishment for the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal.

Both the Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels have taken pitchers exclusively through 10 rounds, while the Cleveland Indians grabbed pitchers with 10 of their 11 picks and the San Francisco Giants and Toronto Blue Jays grabbed nine pitchers through 10 rounds.

The Baltimore Orioles, meanwhile, selected just one pitcher among their first 11 picks. The draft will be completed Tuesday with Rounds 11 through 20 conducted via a conference call with teams.

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