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Just eight days away from camp, the Carolina Panthers shocked the football world with the firing of general manager Dave Gettleman. The timing of this firing leads me to believe something emotional happened over the last week, and I’ll lay it out right here.
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When you fire a general manager at an odd time, normally there’s someone waiting in the wings. The theoretical general manager in waiting, Brandon Beane, left for Buffalo in early May. The Panthers don’t seem to have that person as of right now. I’d venture a guess that it’s too late to hire an outside person for the job, so someone within the Panthers will be given the job on an interim basis until the following offseason.

Jordan Reed remains one of the league’s premier tight ends, but he simply can’t escape the injury bug — a concussion and shoulder ailment limited him to 12 games last year. Washington needs him to stay on the field because he is Cousins’ most reliable red zone weapon, with 17 touchdowns over the last two years.

The running game is something of a muddled picture right now. Rob Kelley usurped Matt Jones as the starter last year, but he’ll be pushed by fourth-round rookie Samaje Perine, while Chris Thompson returns as the pass-catching back. Despite playing second fiddle to Joe Mixon at the University of Oklahoma, Perine was impressive in his own right and could have a clear path to the starting job if he outplays Kelley in training camp and preseason.

Washington’s defense could be best described as it exists. Despite boasting some star power, this unit was mediocre at best in 2016. Washington ranked 28th in yards allowed, 19th in points allowed, and 25th in DVOA, with Pro Football Focus ranking the secondary at No. 21 heading into this season.

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Wishing someone a happy birthday is a nice gesture, but it’s always a good idea to double-check that it’s actually that person’s birthday.

The Los Angeles Chargers fell into that awkward trap Friday morning when they wished rookie wide receiver Mike Williams a happy birthday on Twitter. The only problem is that it was exactly two months before his actual birthday on Oct. 4.

A herniated disc in Williams’ back may cost him his entire rookie season, and the Chargers have already ruled him out for all of training camp.

Hopefully when October rolls around, the Chargers still remember to wish their first-round pick a happy birthday. It’d also probably be for the best if they change up the message a bit. It’s the thought that counts, I guess.

“We think by having the player and the examining physicians and athletic trainers in the tent, we’ll get a better concussion screening examination done and it’ll improve our ability to diagnose and detect these injuries on the sideline.”

Players who meet certain criteria will still be required to go to the locker room for further testing and diagnosis. The use of the tent will not replace the formal evaluations that take place off the field. Instead, it will create a better environment for doctors to determine whether a player can return to the field or will need further monitoring.

“We will ask that all sideline concussion exams be done in the tent, but if the initial screening suggests a concussion, then the more extensive concussion evaluation will be done in the locker room just as we have previously done,” Sills said.

The pro game isn’t the only place you’ll see these tents. The University of Alabama was a pioneer in creating private examination spaces, using its own tent throughout the 2015 season and even bringing it to the College Football Playoff National Championship Game. Other schools, including Clemson, Ohio State, and Florida State, soon followed.


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While he told ESPN that he plans to play a full 16-game regular season, Bell can report to training camp whenever he wants and that means the Steelers may not see him until mid-to-late August, according to Adam Schefter.

Game Womens Robert Nkemdiche Jersey Bell, 25, averaged 105.7 rushing yards and 51.3 receiving yards per game last season after starting the year with a three-game suspension. That offseason was also hampered by recovery from a knee injury that ended his 2015 season, so it’s probably a safe bet that Bell won’t need many (or any) preseason reps to get back into top form.
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Last year, Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry faced the same situation and didn’t sign his franchise tender until Aug. 28 — two weeks before the team’s regular-season opener. It didn’t negatively affect Berry’s play, and he earned First-Team All-Pro honors anyway before signing a six-year, $78 million deal in February.

Missing training camp time inevitably draws criticism, though. Even Bell’s teammate Antonio Brown called out the running back for not signing his franchise tender yet:

The National Football League has historically taken a tough stance on substance use. But now, the league says it is interested in working with the NFLPA to study the potential impact of marijuana for pain management, according to Mark Maske of the Washington Post.

Under the current policy, any NFL player who tests positive for marijuana will be entered into the league’s intervention program. They’ll have to undergo random tests, and a failed test will result in an automatic suspension. A missed test counts as a failed test, which is why Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell served a three-game suspension at the start of the 2016 season.

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A familiar face will be returning as the Sabres head coach next season.

Buffalo has hired Hockey Hall of Famer Phil Housley as its 18th coach in franchise history, the team announced Thursday.

Game Kids Kenneth Dixon Jersey Based on his experience as a player and coach, we think Phil is uniquely qualified to be our head coach and to help us achieve our organizational goals, Sabres GM Jason Botterill said in a team release.

There’s no question, Subban told The Associated Press on Thursday. We’re going to win the next game, and then we’ll move forward.

Subban cited the brief rough stretches as the reason his team is confident.

I mean, out of 120 minutes, maybe we’d like to take back six of them, he said. Ultimately, we have to be realistic with where we’re at. We’re down, two-nothing. We’re coming back in our barn, and we don’t lose here. So it starts Saturday.

The Predators are 7-1 on home ice so far this postseason and finished the regular season with a 24-9-8 record at Bridgestone Arena. Add that to the fact Pittsburgh is 6-4 on the road this postseason, and Nashville has reason to be confident.
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They just can’t let the Penguins go on another 3-0 run in a short span that keeps them playing catch-up.

TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reported Thursday Kovalchuk hasn’t closed the door on the KHL and is weighing his options in both leagues.

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Monday was an extremely awkward night for Rajon Rondo, but it wasn’t supposed to be. Before the season, the Chicago Bulls’ marketing team scheduled Rajon Rondo bobblehead night for Jan. 9 against the Oklahoma City Thunder, hoping to promote an epic point guard battle between Rondo and Russell Westbrook.

The only problem? Rondo didn’t even play in the game.
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To add insult to injury, Rondo was the ONLY player on the entire team who did not play against the Thunder.

Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg has benched the 30-year-old for five straight games.

Rondo, who signed a two-year deal with the team this offseason worth $28 million, last played in Chicago’s 111-101 loss to the Pacers on Dec. 30.
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Earlier this season, the Bulls suspended him one game for conduct detrimental to team.

Rondo has been vocal about not liking his role as a bench warmer and told reporters last week that if the benching continues, he’ll absolutely ask to be traded.

Even if Hayward plays his free agency straight and passes on the Designated Player chance, he will be eligible for a five-year deal from Utah worth about $180 million. The best the Celtics鈥攐r any other potential suitor鈥攃ould do would be four years, $132 million. That’s only a difference of about $6 million through four years, but the fifth guaranteed year (at $41 million) is a big advantage for the Jazz.

Hayward and Stevens have a deep bond that runs all the way back to Hayward’s middle school days. That’s a strong pull, and with the Celtics in position sign Hayward and leap into serious contention in the East, he will no doubt consider reconnecting with his old coach. But expect Utah, even with its coming payroll problems, to fight to keep Hayward. In the end, the Jazz could have just enough of a financial advantage to keep Hayward in place.

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LeBron James has had enough of Charles Barkley.

The Cavs star responded to Barkley’s recent comments on TNT saying James was “whiny” among other things in reference to the team’s roster.

“He’s a hater,” James said to ESPN of Barkley after Monday’s loss to the Mavericks. “What makes what he says credible? Because he’s on TV?”

Known for its bullpen prowess over the last three years, the Royals have struggled late in games earlier this season after the departure of Wade Davis and, in part, due to Strahm’s control issues.

After posting a 1.23 ERA last season, Strahm had a 5.45 ERA over three starts and 21 relief appearances this season before undergoing season-ending knee surgery in July.

Buchter, who has made 42 relief appearances with San Diego this season, going 3-3 with a save, posting a 3.05 ERA and recording 47 strikeouts. He should take over Strahm’s situational role in the bullpen while Maurer could share the eighth inning role with Joakim Soria.

Maurer has served as the Padres’ closer this season, converting 20 of his 23 save opportunities, including 15 in a row since May 28, despite a poor 5.17 ERA.

The Royals are hoping the trade for better pitching will help lower their staff 4.26 ERA and help the club reach the World Series for the third time in four seasons.

Why he fits: It’s World Series-or-bust for the Dodgers, and adding a veteran like Verlander to a playoff rotation that’s seriously lacking in playoff experience/success behind ace Clayton Kershaw figures to bolster their chances of at least getting to the championship for the first time since 1998. Verlander has been kind of hit-or-miss in the postseason; for example, he had a 5.31 ERA in 20 1/3 innings in the 2011 playoffs but a 0.39 ERA in 23 innings during the 2013 playoffs. Of his past eight playoff starts, though, Verlander has thrown at least seven innings while allowing zero or one runs six times. The Dodgers would love that.

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It was also Westbrook’s first-ever triple-double against the Spurs (only the Hornets and Bulls remain on his list of teams that have shut him out in that category).

We’ve come to expect these numbers on a nightly basis now from Westbrook, especially this year, with the stunning departure last offseason of Kevin Durant. As Westbrook goes, so go the Thunder, for the rest of the regular season and in the playoffs.

Game Youth Curt Schilling Jersey It’s certainly not a stretch to look ahead and see the Thunder (currently No. 7 in the Western Conference standings) drawing the Spurs in the first round of the playoffs. Before Thursday’s game, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich praised Westbrook with comparisons to a player he watched in his youth, Oscar Robertson. The player nicknamed the Big O holds the NBA’s all-time record for triple-doubles in a season, with 41 in 1961-62.

It’s astounding. I was a big Oscar fan being a kid and watching him, when every once in a while you could get an NBA game on TV to watch him, Popovich said. But what this young man is doing every night, I think it’s just an incredible feat. Really a singularly unique bundle of energy and competitiveness for sure. He’s a good kid, I’m happy for him. He’s fantastic.

Cobi Hamilton Womens Jersey And I also get if I was a fan and could afford to get tickets, and I’m circling LeBron James, Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook on my calendar, I would want to see them play live. I would be disappointed as well. I see it from the fans’ perspective and the players’ perspective. I’m caught right in the middle.

Durant is irked by the contenders receiving the brunt of the criticism when he feels teams at the bottom of the standings rest players, too.

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In the end, for all the improvements made to Western Conference teams — Houston, OKC, Denver, Minnesota, Sacramento — nothing was done that can truly be considered a threat to Golden State’s top-dog status.
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The Warriors kept Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston, and brought back Zaza Pachulia on a one-year deal. They even arguably got better with the additions of Nick Young and Omri Casspi. The battle for playoff seeding is going to be fascinating, but the top seed is all but decided already, and likely the West’s finals representative, too.

In terms of basketball, Rose is still solid as an attacker with the ball in his hands. He finished in the top 20 among all players in terms of possessions in the pick-and-roll (7.5 per game) and scored at a rate of 0.90 points per possession in such situations, not far behind the likes of Jimmy Butler (0.91), Goran Dragic (0.93) and C.J. McCollum (0.94). Rose also averaged 10.1 points per game in the paint, tied with Russell Westbrook for the third-best mark among NBA guards behind DeMar DeRozan (10.3) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (13.1).

Marcedes Lewis Limited Jersey He’s not 2010-11 Derrick Rose — and he never will be again — but he did enjoy a bit of a resurgence last season with the Knicks in the scoring (18.0 points per game, highest since 2011-12) and efficiency (47.1 field-goal percentage, highest since 2009-10 and 47.7 effective field-goal percentage, highest since 2011-12) departments. Running Rose out with the second unit as a playmaker could benefit the Cavs’ Big Three down the road, allowing them to get precious rest (particularly James, who led the league in minutes at 32 years old).

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LeBron James didn’t need to be told that new teammate Andrew Bogut had suffered a serious injury in his Cavaliers debut.

James heard the leg break.

Bogut was making his first appearance for the Cavs against the Heat on Monday, but was hurt within a minute of taking to the floor.

The Lakers are my family, Bryant told the Los Angeles Times. I’ll always be available for Jeanie [Buss] and the whole organization. They know I’m only a phone call away.

While he reportedly isn’t looking for a formal position in the Lakers front office, Bryant won’t turn down an opportunity to help out the franchise with which he spent his entire 20-year career. For now, it seems he’ll stick to attending team-related events while he continues to enjoy his retirement.

Andre Hal Mens Jersey Bryant returned to Staples Center on Friday for the first time since his last game with the Lakers last April 13 to attend former teammate Shaquille O’Neal’s statue unveiling outside the arena. The dynamic duo famously feuded amid the Lakers’ three consecutive NBA championships before O’Neal was traded, but have since rebuilt their relationship.

Tarell Basham Mens Jersey The world seems to know by now that the Pacers’ Paul George has one foot out the door of the Bankers Life Fieldhouse and is counting down the days until he can go back home and put on the Lakers’ purple and gold. As he put it the other day after the Pacers held extensive talks with Boston and Atlanta, about moving their star forward, it didn’t matter if he had been traded or not. I’m focusing on me, he said.

George might be the most overrated All-Star in the NBA today. He doesn’t have the game or temperament to be the No. 1 option on a championship team. But if you’re Magic, he just might be the established star to pursue in another two summers.

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Kobe Bryant has some new ink to show off.

The Lakers legend Friday shared a video on his Instagram account of himself getting some work done on his right forearm.

Bryant, who has three girls with longtime wife Vanessa, had the names Bianka Bella, Giana Maria-Onore and Natalia Diamante tattooed on his arm to commemorate his daughters.

All that Collins does is just wreck opposing competition. Over Collins’ final 15 games of the season, he averaged 22.5 points, 10.9 rebounds and 1.6 blocks while shooting 66 percent from the field and 78 percent from the foul line. Oh, and he did it against ACC competition that included Miami, Syracuse, Duke (twice), Notre Dame, Louisville and Virginia Tech.

The worry spots here are with his passing — as he’ll occasionally get some tunnel vision — and defense, where he’ll get lost both when pulled out on the perimeter and in rotation on the interior. But Collins is just a beast of a player as well as a strong athlete at 6-foot-11.

“It’s hard to double when it’s off ball, especially when you’ve got good guys like Amir, Al and Jonas that set really good screens for you,” Thomas said. “Once I’m running around it’s tough to catch me and guys are just getting me open. I’ve got the easy part of making the play.”

One of the Celtics’ go-to plays when Thomas doesn’t have the ball in his hands is a double screen on the perimeter. As you can see in the following video, Patrick Beverley gets caught up in Smart’s off-ball screen, leaving James Harden to switch onto Thomas once he receives the hand-off from Crowder. Harden wants nothing to do with guarding Thomas, and Thomas takes advantage by sinking a smooth hook shot over Trevor Ariza when he gets into the paint.steelers_001

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