Browns think Emmanuel Ogbah can really stand out this season

The Browns opted to take cornerback Denzel Ward over defensive end Bradley Chubb with the No. 4 overall pick in this year’s draft in a decision that defensive coordinator Gregg Williams jokingly explained by saying Chubb doesn’t cover the deep ball well enough as a press corner.

Williams also noted that I have an Ogbah at defensive end and he sees big things in that player’s future. Emmanuel Ogbah had four sacks and two forced fumbles in 10 games last season before a broken foot put him on injured reserve.

Ogbah’s recovered from that injury and Williams, who joined the Browns in 2017, said that he’s seen signs of growth as Ogbah heads into his third season.

What can we expect? For a team that’s gone to the playoffs in four of the past five years—including a Super Bowl 50 appearance—it’s truly remarkable that the Carolina Panthers have still never had back-to-back winning seasons. Even if this is the year that the team breaks the curse, it might not be enough to get back into the playoffs in a tough NFC South and a stacked NFC. (Additionally, fans can expect a more active owner with David Tepper than they had with Jerry Richardson, who over the last several years removed himself from league functions and did not make himself available to interviews.)

Hall of Fame running back Thurman Thomas disagrees with T.O.’s decision to boycott the enshrinement, even if Thomas agrees that Owens should have been enshrined on his first try.

I’m a little ticked off that he’s not coming, Thomas said Saturday morning at the Professional Football Researchers Association Convention, via the Buffalo News. But it’s his choice. . . . I think it was a bad P.R. move on his part, but I do get it. . . . Every guy thinks they should have been a first-ballot Hall of Famer. I remember Deacon Jones telling me after I didn’t get in the first time. . . he said, ‘Whether you’re going to get in the first time, the second time, the third time, it’s when you get in that you should enjoy it.’

The difference, of course, is that none of the voters felt compelled to publicly crap on Thomas when Thomas got passed over. Owens justifiably should be upset that multiple members of the Selection Committee justified the outcome in 2016 and 2017 by arguing that Owens was/is a bad teammate and a worse person.

Simpson had mentioned Rashad in the note he had left behind: Ahmad, I never stopped being proud of you.

Of all his famous friends, Rashad is most closely associated with Michael Jordan. They met around 1989, Rashad says, at a Magic Johnson charity basketball game in L.A. NBC was in the process of acquiring the rights to broadcast NBA games, and Rashad was covering the game. The two exchanged numbers, simple as that.

I think they both have a wry sense of humor, and they’ve both had enough celebrity in their life, enough adulation in their life, that they don’t need any fluffing on the outside, says Murray. Ahmad has been sort of through the tunnel. You crash into a lot of the same people. (Jordan declined to comment for this story.) The way Rashad describes it, they were like big brother-little brother, but we would switch. Had he not been a basketball player, we still would’ve been best friends.

At that point, NBC had been using Rashad in a number of ways: as an NFL commentator, as an Olympics host, as a worldwide sports correspondent. In 1990, Ebersol proposed having Rashad anchor a new Saturday morning NBA show targeted at young viewers. A football player? commissioner David Stern replied. On a basketball show? For the next 15 years, Rashad served as the host of Inside Stuff, going behind the scenes with the league’s stars.

I now look forward to putting this behind me and I will continue to work hard every day to be a positive influence in my community and be the best person, teammate and leader I can be.

The NFL released a statement, as did the Buccaneers.

Winston was accused of groping an Uber driver in March 201The NFL announced it was looking into the matter when the incident was reported by Buzzfeed News in November 201A friend of the quarterback said this week that Winston was alone with the driver and not riding with friends like it was previously claimed.

The driver says she picked up Winston in Scottsdale, Ariz., in the early morning hours of March, 13, 201As they waited in the drive-through lane at a restaurant, Winston reached over and he just grabbed my crotch, the woman told Buzzfeed.

A.J. Francis likely won’t be flying with precious cargo again.

The Giants defensive tackle ripped the Transportation Security Administration in a profanity-laced tweet on Monday, claiming the agency left an urn carrying his mother’s ashes open after rummaging through his suitcase and caused it to spill.

Francis later elaborated on his feelings, saying the agents should have been more careful and considerate.

What we’re trying to do, and it’s easier said than done, is get ahead of it. Outdoor games, All-Stars, drafts, so we can announce them a few years in advance. There are a lot of factors in the scheduling. You’ve got Olympics and these things that come up, said Steve Mayer, chief content officer at the NHL.

That’s especially true for the NHL’s outdoor games, as the Winter Classic faces obstacles in scheduling from both the NFL and NCAA football. There are some places that we want to go, but they can do it in 2021 but not in 2022 for various reasons. There are so many factors. NFL, bowl games, Mayer explained.

There’s been no talk about reviving them domestically, even as the NHL plays regular-season games overseas.

I haven’t heard of it since they killed them. They were a little bit before my time, but I don’t think they were very successful, deputy commissioner Bill Daly told ESPN in June.

There should be talk about reviving them.

The primary objective for the NHL, in everything it does, should be to create new hockey fans. Some of these attempts have been promising, like the outreach to communities to create opportunities for young athletes to play hockey, and their recent foray into esports. Some of these attempts have been a little more fraught, like a few ham-fisted attempts at inclusion. Arguably, the most effective way the NHL has found to create new fans is by bringing the game itself to the fans: through international games and through expansion.

Bill Belichick has a coaching resume without compare.

On May 25, defensive end Cliff Avril told NFL Network Carroll began to lose his locker room after Super Bowl 49 after calling the play that led to Malcolm Butler’s game-sealing interception rather than just running the ball from New England’s 1-yard line with Skittle-powered wrecking ball Marshawn Lynch. So I think guys started questioning him more, more so than actually following his lead if we would have won that Super Bowl, said Avril.

And because he’s a brilliant football mind who wins at an obnoxious rate, he gets a pass for a lot of things: for his grouchy, curt responses to questions from the press; for his power-trip mind games with his quarterback; for his bordering-on-soulless style of coaching; for being friends with Donald Trump.

After a certain age, you should realize that the strong, silent type isn’t a virtue if it means being emotionally unavailable. They don’t hold any secret wisdom. Sometimes assholes are just assholes because they can be.

I also thought the 2017 Browns would win some games — plural! Hue Jackson isn’t alone here, though I was smart enough not to promise to jump in a lake if I happened to be wrong for, pretty much, the first time in my life. I didn’t think the Browns would be good last season, but I did think they’d win somewhere in the range of 4-6 games.

It wasn’t until Corey Coleman’s final my god, man, how do you not catch that? drop that I ever really believed they’d go 0-16. Have I learned my lesson? Nah. I think the Browns will win between 4-6 games this year, in case anyone is keeping track of our future worst predictions. — Sarah Hardy

I picked LSU to win the national title in 2016. Head coach Les Miles got fired at 2-2. — Jason Kirk

I thought Vanderbilt would play Alabama close after the Commodores’ 3-0 start last fall. They lost by a million points instead and got outgained by nearly 600 yards. At home. One week after fans chanted We want ‘Bama. Cheering for Vanderbilt football is like riding a train whose only stops are misguided hope and embarrassment. — Christian D’Andrea

The Titans are scrambling to win a Super Bowl in Manning’s final seasons, but he’s been beat up behind a subpar Tennessee offensive line.

The Titans snag Golden Tate in free agency, though the defense lacks the star power to take the team to the next level.

Another 10-6 season for the Titans ends in quick postseason failure and the narrative that Manning is a playoff choker is perpetuated.

The Broncos are stuck in neutral too, but instead of a defense holding back the offense, it’s the Denver offense that can’t produce consistently enough to help out a top defense. The Chiefs defend their AFC West title, holding off the San Diego Chargers, while the Broncos finish 7-9 with more mixed results from Geno Smith.

I bet you are going to see books right at the games, Wolohan says. I bet you’re going to be able to walk into Yankee Stadium and they’ll have a book right there in the concourse where you can place money on the game that day. ‘Give me whatever the runs are, the Yankees are gonna win. Also, give me a prop bet on the first inning that there’ll be two hits’, or something like that. I have little doubt that that’s gonna happen within a relatively short period of time.

If Orlovsky was given one more chance to drive the field with more than two minutes left on the clock, the Colts could have improved to 3-13 — and fallen to No. 2 in the draft order that spring. Then, they may have never had the chance to draft quarterback Andrew Luck.

Instead, the Colts parted ways with Peyton Manning after the 2-14 season, selected Luck with the No. 1 pick of the 2012 NFL Draft and earned a spot in the postseason in the next three years.

Not only would a win for the Colts in Week 17 have dropped Indianapolis from No. 1 in the draft order, but it also would’ve dropped the Jaguars to 4-12 and No. 4 in the draft order. The new top-eight picks of the 2012 NFL Draft would be as follows:

Suddenly the draft fortunes of a few teams look different.

I understand that there is a need for some heightened integrity, says Dan Etna, the co-chair of the sports law practice at Herrick Feinstein LLP, an international firm with offices in New Jersey and New York. But on the other hand, let’s not kid ourselves. This is just a new, fertile revenue source for them to tap into. You can’t convince me otherwise.

Jared Allen spent some time with Titans pass rushers this spring

Jared Allen learned a few tricks about getting to the quarterback during an NFL career that ended with 136 sacks and he spent some time this spring passing along what he learned.

In recent years, the offset issue had seemed to subside, with willingness to remove the term becoming a team-driven factor — and with only the Rams and Jaguars routinely doing it. Last year, Jacksonville running back Leonard Fournette avoided offset language at No. 4. The only other player in the top 10 from 2017 to get anything close to that was Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky, who had the offset language removed from his guaranteed training-camp roster bonuses.

The NFL remains a deadline-driven league, and the only deadline relevant to rookie draft picks is the start of training camp. Still, at a time when most of these contracts are easy to resolve, the offset stare-down may be reemerging as an impediment for the players taken in the top 10.

I have always been taught that when you make a mistake you own up to it, Brown tweeted. I made a mistake eighteen months ago and I’ve been suspended 2 games by the NFL for that isolated mistake. I apologize to the Rams organization and coaches, my family, teammates, friends, supporters and all the Rams fans out there. I let you down. I am going to work extremely hard to show you that this one mistake is not who I am and will not keep me from reaching my personal goals or helping the LA Rams win a Super Bowl! I appreciate your continued support.

Brown will miss games at Oakland and against Arizona.

These opt-in deadlines are leverage pivot points. The Clippers dealt Austin Rivers for Marcin Gortat in part to tilt leverage with DeAndre Jordan (and perhaps the Mavericks, among his suitors) back in their favor. With a starting caliber center in tow, LA bargained harder in trade talks with Dallas until Jordan finally opted out Friday — an outcome for which the Clippers had prepared. Jordan on an expiring deal simply did not have much of a trade market beyond Dallas.

Back to LeBron: I have never quite bought all-in on the idea that he absolutely needs a superstar partner in the bag to go to the Lakers. It would probably help, but LeBron’s decision Friday may be a tell that it was never essential. Leonard could also be on the move soon. We’ll see.

Agreed to a reported two-year, $61.5 million deal with forward Kevin Durant

Occasional chatter about the possibility Durant might leave the two-time defending champions was quickly disproved as he became one of the first players to agree to a new 2018-19 contract. The only drama here was how long a contract Durant would sign, and in turn how much he would make.

Both the Rockets and Paul should be able to find reasons to feel good about this deal, making a strong compromise. Paul gets his max salary, joining fellow point guards Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook as the three players currently set to make more than $35 million in 2018-19. (LeBron James should soon join them when he agrees to a new contract.)

That bit of bookkeeping aside, this deal seems reasonable for Dallas. Jordan’s ability as an above-the-rim finisher in the pick-and-roll remains as good a fit for the Mavericks’ offense now as it was in 2015. Jordan averaged 1.3 points per play when he shot out of the pick-and-roll last season, tying him for seventh among players with at least 100 such shot attempts, according to Second Spectrum tracking. Dallas big men, by contrast, averaged 1.1 points per play in those situations — right around league average.

Jordan’s block rate declined nearly by half to a career-low 2.4 percent of opponent 2-point attempts, far worse than the average for centers (3.5 percent).

Blocks are an imperfect measure of rim protection, certainly, but Jordan’s more advanced metrics weren’t strong either. The 63.9 percent opponents shot within 5 feet when Jordan was the primary defender put him only 31st of the 36 players who defended at least 300 such shots, per Second Spectrum tracking on NBA Advanced Stats.

Tom Brady cites ‘personal reasons’ for OTAs absence

jets_051Tom Brady ended his prolonged absence from Patriots activities this week, but hasn’t revealed anything further about why he was missing.

Brady was back in Foxboro for Patriots minicamp and spoke with reporters Thursday, answering a variety of questions with a handful of non-answers. The man who has touted the importance of organized team activities in the past reinforced that idea, even if he wasn’te exactly practicing what he’s preached.

Will Hernandez has already been in five fights, quarterback Eli Manning told season ticket holders this week at a Town Hall event. I love it.

The NFL has chosen to listen only to those fans who believe protesting during the national anthem isn’t patriotic. Plenty of fans, inexplicably ignored by the NFL, disagree. According to a new Quinnipiac poll, 58 percent of American voters believe NFL players who protest during the anthem are not unpatriotic.

Another 35 percent of American voters believe that they are. On a separate question, American voters also believe by a 53-43 margin that professional athletes have to right to protest while at work. That said, deep divisions exist based on party and racial lines. For example, Democrats support the right to protest via an 82-16 margin. Republicans say there is no right to protest, by a nearly identical split of 81-16. African-American voters support the right to protest, 85-11. Hispanic voters agree, with a 67-28 margin.

Ward being out there is because he’s earning it, Jackson said, via Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. He’s working at it. He plays a position that we’ve been needing a guy to step up. We see him improving each and every day and doing the things that we’re asking. He needs to continue to do that to continue to be out there but we know he’s very talented. That’s why we drafted him. He’s displayed that since he’s been here.

Training camp and the preseason will provide opportunities for Ward to solidify the starting job and establish himself as part of the foundation of what the Browns hope will be a much more successful team in the years to come.

AFC South Matchup Provides Cowboys A Glimpse Of This Top Young Safety More (Editor’s Note: In anticipation of the 2018 season, Bryan Broaddus has once again taken a break from scouting the Cowboys in order to scout the opposition.

Jamal Lewis Making Most of Post-NFL Life—but Preparing for Darker Days to Come

capitals-213The emptiness is inevitable, inescapable and, sometimes, fatal. Once pro football is through with you, count on it spitting you back out into society a concussed and confused man, searching for purpose.

Jamal Lewis remembers the feeling well.

You just kept it to yourself, he says, and you dealt with it. You let it out on the field.

Without that outlet—without a linebacker to smash into—suicidal thoughts creeped into his mind and spread like a virus.

One by one, he saw three of his former offensive linemen die from health-related issues. Orlando Bobo to heart and liver failure. Orlando Brown to diabetic ketoacidosis. Damion Cook to a massive heart attack. Suicide seemed like a better way to go.

While there were only a few players kneeling during the anthem at the end of last season, two are currently on the Giants’ roster. Star defensive end Olivier Vernon got down on one knee during every game last season. Safety Michael Thomas, signed in March as a free agent after five seasons in Miami, has gone down on a knee during the anthem much of the past two seasons to support the movement started by former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in 2016. Shurmur said the Giants are going to let things settle before talking about the new rule as a team. I know certainly for me, it’s very easy,Shurmur said Tuesday after a practice at an organized team activity.

I’m going to face the flag and take my cap off and listen to the anthem and be thankful that my family and I live in the greatest country in the world, and be able to kind of reflect on and be thankful for all the sacrifice that a lot of people have gone to, to help protect and secure our freedom.Vernon did not respond to several requests to appear for an interview after practice. Thomas said he wanted to discuss the new rule with fellow players and Giants co-owner John Mara before commenting. I am not committing to anything right now,Thomas said. Just talking with my brothers and continuing to fight for our communities.

Titans sign five players after tryouts

The Titans have made changes to their roster after the conclusion of their three-day rookie minicamp.

Five players will join the roster after trying out for the team over the weekend. They are defensive back Joseph Este, tight end Anthony Firkser, linebacker Robert Spillane, linebacker Tobenna Okeke, and defensive lineman Connor Flagel.

What will it take for 49ers to win the NFC West? “Just consistency. Consistency and discipline. On the defensive side of the ball, they got all the talent in the world. We have talent up front. We’ve got talent in the second level, the linebacker group. Obviously, Reuben Foster is a tremendous talent and Malcolm Smith has been in this system and plays as well as anybody I’ve ever seen. Brock Coyle is also adept in this system. Eli Harold has been doing a great job. … so we’ve got talent all around. And the secondary is young, but they’re incredibly talented and they work incredibly hard. Adrian Colbert is a great safety. … Ahkello Witherspoon has all the talent in the world, can move, can cover anybody. So it’s just understanding that it’s a day-to-day-to-day grind to be great, and that’s what I’m trying to get through to them, but they work as hard as any group I’ve seen.”

Manning was accused of fraudulently passing off memorabilia as game-worn even though he hadn’t worn it in a game. At the center of the dispute were messages from Manning to a team equipment manager asking for helmets “that can pass as game used.”

The plaintiffs said they were duped by Manning into paying for “game-used” items that weren’t actually used in games. Now that issue will not go before a jury, and Manning has put it behind him.

The Miami Dolphins will likely miss Suh, just as they’ll find themselves reminiscing aboucardinals_047t the departed Jarvis Landry on the other side. It could be a tough year in Miami, but the team and its fans might be able to take solace in the fact No. 11 overall pick Minkah Fitzpatrick looks like the real deal.

The NFL-ready Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate out of Alabama earned both the Bednarik (best defensive player) and Thorpe (best DB) Awards in 2017 and recorded eight interceptions and four touchdowns in the two preceding seasons. He can play safety, cover the slot, blitz the quarterback and I’ve heard he makes a mean cup of coffee.

The Dolphins don’t know what they’re going to get out of quarterback Ryan Tannehill in what might be a transitional season for the franchise, but Fitzpatrick will at the very least make it more fun to watch them on defense.