Category Archives: Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh Steelers

Becky Hammon handles head-coaching duties in Spurs’ preseason win

Channeling a bit of Gregg Popovich’s pretend surliness, assistant coach Becky Hammon shifted side to side Sunday in grey high heels, ready to slip away after the San Antonio Spurs defeated the Denver Nuggets 122-100.

“You’d never see me out here talking to you guys,” Hammon joked.

But this time, she had no choice, as Hammon took over for Popovich as coach of the Spurs against the Nuggets and handled the coaching duties in the postgame news conference.

“Let me add to that I said the other day [to USA Today] that there’s no magic in an 82-game season,” Silver said. “It’s not a change you’re going to see in the short term, but I think when we step back and look holistically at our schedule and how playoffs are seeded we should look at the entire format. Counter-balancing seeding playoff teams 1-16 is also the desire to create more rest for our players and when possible reduce the amount of travel.

“In adding the extra week to the regular season this year, we will be able to eliminate completely four games in five nights. I think it’s the first time in the history of the league we were able to do that. Plus we have back to backs at an all-time low. If we took the existing format, the existing schedule and then we seeded playoffs 1-16, we’d be adding additional travel; you would have teams criss-crossing the country in the first round.”

Warriors guard Stephen Curry echoed the feelings of many players earlier in the week when he said he’d enjoy playing in a postseason that included the 16 best teams in the league, regardless of their conference.ravens_131

Chris Long Jersey is donating his first 6 game checks to fund scholarships in Charlottesville

Eagles defensive end and University of Virginia alum Chris Long was outspoken after conflicts escalated from a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va. in August. On Tuesday, it was announced that Long would be making efforts to help his hometown.

Long is partnering with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Virginia and St. Anne’s Belfield School to give two seven-year scholarships to middle school students in the state.

Osweiler signed a two-year, $72 million contract with Houston in 2016, but he finished the season with 2,957 passing yards and 15 touchdowns against 16 interceptions. That led to Houston drafting Watson in the first round of the 2017 draft and making him the team’s ninth starting quarterback since 2014.

Now it’s come full circle for Osweiler, who re-signed with the Broncos after being cut by the Browns.

Joining Osweiler and Watson on this less-than-illustrious Phil Dawson Youth Jersey list is Mark Brunell, who had a more difficult start than Osweiler.

Brunell’s first start came with the Jacksonville Jaguars on his 25th birthday. It was rocky, and the Jaguars lost. But it didn’t keep Brunell from being named to the Pro Bowl in each of his following three seasons in Jacksonville.

When Watson takes the field tonight, he’ll hope his first pro start turns out more like Osweiler’s than Brunell’s.

The Washington Redskins host the Oakland Raiders (-3) for Sunday Night Football this Marlon Humphrey Youth Jersey week and the Dallas Cowboys (-3) visit the Arizona Cardinals on Monday Night Football. Oakland is 3-0 SU and ATS in its last three games against Washington.

Josh Donaldson on MLB All-Star consideration: ‘I’m not an All-Star’

Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson has made the American League All-Star roster each of the last three years, but does not believe he deserves a spot on the team this year.

“I’m not an All-Star, look at my numbers,” Donaldson told Blue Jays Radio Play-By-Play Broadcaster Mike Wilner.

Donaldson, who missed over a month of action this season with a calf injury, is batting .265 with eight home runs and 20 RBIs this season heading into Thursday night’s game against the Orioles.

MLB All-Star voting ends Thursday night just before midnight ET. Donaldson is currently locked in a tight battle between Twins third baseman Miguel Sano and the Indians’ Jose Ramirez.

Donaldson will be a strong candidate to be picked by manager Terry Francona even if he isn’t automatically voted onto the roster. But for now, he does not believe he is deserving of a spot.

Beginning on the sixth calendar day prior to a club’s seventh regular season game (including any bye week) clubs are permitted to begin practicing players on Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform and Reserve/Non-Football Injury or Illness for a period not to exceed 21 days. Players may be activated during the 21-day practice period, or prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time, on the day after the conclusion of the 21-day period, provided that no player may be activated to participate in a Week 6 game.browns_016

Super Bowl-bound Matt Ryan looks back on triple-option days, National Signing Day

National Signing Day is always a walk down memory lane for NFL players living out childhood dreams. For Matt Ryan, it’s a reminder that he was an 170-pound afterthought in Boston College’s 2003 recruiting class.

King, the pool reporter assigned to cover the Falcons practice, wrote, “With the field situated next to a residential area abutting the Rice campus, there was extra security between the edge of the field (with a fence and high hedges) and the neighborhood, so the Falcons could feel secure running a practice as though they were at their home facility. There was only one brief security heads-up: Security officers grounded a drone that was sent airborne by one of the residents in the neighborhood on Thursday.”

Drones are commonly used now by NFL teams to film practice sessions, giving coaches a bird’s-eye view of players and formations.

Unfortunately, the Patriots’ history of espionage and other questionable acts (see Spygate and Deflategate) will make some fans wonder about that drone. That topic even surfaced again this week, when former Rams running back Marshall Faulk told a reporter he remains convinced that the Patriots taped the Rams’ walk-through practice the day before the teams met in the Super Bowl in 2002. The Patriots, 14-point underdogs, won 20-17.

That’s not the only time such allegations have surfaced regarding the Patriots in a Super Bowl. A couple years ago, ESPN reported that several Panthers believe the Patriots taped their practices before Super Bowl XXXVIII in Houston, with one Panthers source saying, “Our players came in after that first half and said it was like [the Patriots] were in our huddle.”texans_099

They gave up 19 points in the fourth quarter!

The NFL took time at Super Bowl LI to recognize the Pro Football Hall of Famers who attended HBCUs, which included the likes of Doug Williams, Willie Davis, and Deacon Jones, just to name a few. It was a nice gesture in paying homage to players who helped mold today’s NFL.

While it’s great for black athletes to chase bigger opportunities at football powerhouses, it is also refreshing to see HBCU athletes achieve at a high level. It’s a reminder of tradition within the black community, and the advancements that have been made through the decades.

Cohen said that he had a chip on his shoulder and wants to prove people wrong. He not only represents North Carolina A&T in Indianapolis, but all HBCUs in the country. With success at the combine and being drafted on Saturday, he did just that.

“We established Irrelevant Week to drive home an important message – that it’s not a negative to be picked last in the NFL Draft; rather, it’s an honor to be drafted at all,” Salata said on the Irrelevant Week website. “The last draft pick’s demonstration of perseverance is lesson that resonates not only with NFL players and fans, but also with people everywhere.”

Talk about a fluke, regardless of the Hall of Famer leading the Patriots that night. Atlanta blew a 25-point lead! They gave up 19 points in the fourth quarter!

Good grief. We started this exercise with one ‘Hawks fans worried the sweep didn’t prove what that team was truly capable of. I’m pretty sure the Falcons are capable of holding down that lead given a second chance.

And thanks to one bold, innovative Redditor, they can try again. Thanks for the internet.

Speculating on whose booth Blandino lands in is fun.

The regular season kicks off in just under five months, preseason games in four months, training camp in three months … and minicamps next month. The offseason is when teams, players and coaches get schooled and acclimated to new rules, new emphasis and new procedures. New, like somebody off-site reviewing replay.

The NFL had a tight window to get this right. On their side was the presence of someone who, for better or worse, was used to being the face of accountability and transparency. Who has had to live with more than a year of “Dez caught it” as well as multiple versions of “The ref was standing right there” and “If that was A-Rod instead of Cam, that would’ve been a flag” and “Do these guys even know the rules?”

Now, Blandino isn’t there, either to personally implement a new system apparently built around him, or for the fan base to kick around.

Speculating on whose booth Blandino lands in is fun. Who replaces Blandino in front of the NFL replay monitors — or if they replace something in the replay system besides him — affects the game much, much more.

Running back Rashaad Penny. Pumphrey gained at least five yards on 40 percent of his carries and averaged 6.7 highlight yards per opportunity last year. In about 10 carries per game, Penny hit 42 percent and averaged 9.8 highlight yards.

And in about four carries per game, sophomore Juwan Washington hit 38 percent and 12.4. SDSU’s greatest offensive strength was that they could pummel opponents with Pumphrey, and then his backups did just as well. There’s never any guarantee that backups will maintain their averages as starters, but Penny’s career line — 7.1 yards per carry, plus five kick return touchdowns — suggests his upside is massive. And at 5’11, 220, he could form a fun combination with the 5’7, 175-pound Washington.nike_jaguars_571

The Celtics swiped the No. 1 seed in the East from underneath the Cavaliers’ noses

As always, these over-unders seem so obvious in retrospect, but so very tough to choose from at the time. This year’s list is perfectly designed to make you have second thoughts and chew on your pencil before you make a decision. They’re courtesy of Bovada, and it’s almost like they’re designed to make you lose money.

The Celtics swiped the No. 1 seed in the East from underneath the Cavaliers’ noses, but a home loss to Milwaukee put Boston back in a virtual tie for first. Boston has one of the easiest remaining schedules in the league, so it’s entirely possible it holds onto that seed. Meanwhile, Toronto is closing hard on Washington for the No. 3 seed.

Current tiebreaker: Wizards-Celtics is tied at 2-2, and the Celtics have a three-game lead in conference record, so they will likely earn that tiebreaker. The Raptors have the head-to-head tiebreaker over Washington and Boston. Cleveland has a 2-1 lead on Boston with one game left to play.

Who has the toughest schedule? Washington by a long shot. The Wizards only have two home games left, and they’re in the middle of a five-game road trip that includes games against the Cavaliers, Clippers, Jazz, and Warriors.

Technically, WMU hired a former pro quarterback with six years of head coaching experience. But all of this experience happened on state roads instead of the interstate, so to speak.

If Lester’s up for this — and the fact that he had one losing season in six years at Saint Joseph’s and Elmhurst suggests he very well might be — then Fleck left plenty of toys in the toy box. The passing game has to be rebuilt following the loss of quarterback Zach Terrell and his top three receivers (including the incredible Corey Davis), but the run game could be dominant, and most of the defense returns.

So now we wait. Can Lester parlay D3 success into wins at a higher level? And if he does, will his hometown status lead to him staying a bit longer than the typical MAC coach?

The Colts have had too many issues coping without Wayne

Over at Field Gulls, they note that explosive plays can be the difference-maker … offensively and defensively:

The numbers show that this season, the Seahawks are taking Pete Carroll’s big play mantra to heart. On offense, they not only generate big plays, they make them count by finishing drives with high-value scores (read: touchdowns). On defense, Seattle limits big plays and doesn’t let opponents take advantage when they get them. The Seattle Seahawks are maximizing the explosive play and making the explosive play an important part of their success on offense and defense.
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Be sure to check out SB Nation’s team blogs, The Falcoholic and Field Gulls, for more analysis and highlights from the game.

With the teams coming off surprising losses, it’s hard to predict what will happen when they meet on Thursday. Both have flaws, but the question is which team can best take advantage of the other’s issues. Tennessee is solid against the pass, but vulnerable against the run. Indianapolis struggles to get anything going on the ground and instead relies on Luck, playing right into the Titans’ strengths.

Tennessee may not be a dominant rushing team, but it has shown the ability to hurt teams on the ground and could expose some areas of weakness in the Colt’s defense. Tennessee is also playing at home. If the Colts play like they did earlier in the season, they should come away with a win. If their performance is similar to the last two weeks, the game shifts into the Titans favor.

The Colts have had too many issues coping without Wayne, and Trent Richardson has done next to nothing for the offense. Tennessee has to win this game to stay alive in the playoff chase, so I’ll give the Titans a slight edge.31


NFL Mock Draft: Who does Cleveland take first? Which quarterbacks find homes?

Now that NFL Free Agency has hit a lull and most of the top players (outside of Dontari Poe and Jay Cutler) have found their new homes, we have a clearer picture of the 2017 NFL Draft.
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The Browns, Titans and now Saints have two picks in Round 1. The Jaguars and Bengals have seen their draft needs change dramatically after free agency, but for very different reasons. And the quarterback market, still as volatile as ever, sees three quarterbacks go in the top-15 with three more finding homes in Round 2.

The Browns will be drafting Myles Garrett or trading down to a team searching for a quarterback. Garrett can help rebuild the Browns’ defense.

With Jonathan Allen having injury question marks, Jamal Adams fills their safety need and can be a feature secondary player for a defensive back unit in need of substantial help.
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Neither Thomas nor Ohio State is Malik Hooker are worth top-five picks in most draft classes, but if the Bears pass on a top-five quarterback, they’ll be forced to take one of them. Thomas has the higher ceiling and pass rushers are greater values than safeties.

The man believed to take part in these criminal activities is Mauricio Ortega, a former executive of Diario La Prensa, a newspaper in Honduras. The paper reportedly knew he was the culprit a few days ago, and was fired.

The paper released a brief tweet on the matter in Spanish, which rougly translated reads, We are informed that the one involved in the case of the stolen [Tom Brady] jerseys is the exdirector of [La Prensa].

Missed dunks are infecting the NCAA tournament in spectacular fashion

Josh Jackson is among the most talented and athletic players in the country right now, and on Sunday his Kansas Jayhawks are facing off against Miles Bridges and the Michigan State Spartans. Early in the first half, Jackson attacked the rim for a dunk and the rim bit back.

The Kansas standout is not alone in this year’s Big Dance, though. In fact, getting rim checked has emerged as something of a trend in this year’s tournament. Amir Coffey of Minnesota failed spectacularly on March Madness’ opening day:

As the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed, Villanova had appeared to be in prime position to become college basketball’s first back-to-back national champion in a decade. Instead, the Wildcats became the latest victim of a troubling trend. Not only were the 2006-07 Florida Gators the only defending national champion since 1992 to retain their crown, but they’re the only defending national champions in the last 16 years to even make it back to the Elite 8.

Look, it was a hard-fought game and Wisconsin’s not your typical eight seed. We get it. But you’re still the No. 1 overall seed in this tournament. You can’t fall in roundtwo and not find yourself on this list.

The Bulldogs may have been the most enigmatic team of the regular season, so nobody really knew what to expect from them in this tournament. The fact that they were able to dispatch of Middle Tennessee — a team much stronger than its seed would indicate — with such ease is an extremely positive sign when it comes to their outlook moving forward.