Malik Jefferson ignored advisory committee’s recommendation to return to school

The College Advisory Committee recommended Malik Jefferson return to the University of Texas. He threw away the papers.

“It’s not really good feedback,” Jefferson said, via Max Olson of The Athletic. “If a guy wants to come out early, they have to make a decision on their own. Really, if you’re not like a top-10 guy coming out early, it’s just up in the air from there. You just don’t know. Anything can happen.”

The Bengals made the linebacker a third-round pick. Jefferson has no doubt he could have gone higher next year, but he doesn’t believe the CAC accurately reflects the entire league’s judgment of him.

On a more basic level, the Cavs ran more of the profitable two-man actions that had been staring them in the face since before the series started. George Hill and LeBron screened for each other off the ball — what a concept! — forcing the Celtics into a choice: switch Rozier onto LeBron, or stay home and risk someone popping open. When Boston stayed home, the Cavs jaunted into dunks and open 3s. When the Celtics switched, LeBron went to work.

Bryant, the franchise’s all-time leader in touchdown catches, spent his first eight seasons with the Cowboys but remains unsigned after Dallas released him in April. The All-Pro had been linked to the Ravens earlier in the offseason before Baltimore signed former Saints wide receiver Willie Snead to a two-year deal.

Gallup, 22, was selected by the Cowboys out of Colorado State in the third round of last month’s draft.

Kyle and his three younger brothers were all born in Los Angeles. Kyle grew up a Lakers fan and loved going to the beach. When his father accepted the senior pastor job back in the town where he went to college, Kyle, who was 12 at the time, cried for two days on the move across the country.

When the boys played on the court after school, they rarely played 2-on-2. But when they did play a game, Kyle and Kirk would be on a team together. Kyle was almost 10 years older than Kirk, the youngest. Often they’d play shooting games to test one another’s skills.ravens_179

Texans cut Jake Rodgers

The Texans announced they cut offensive tackle Jake Rodgers on Tuesday.

And that is indeed the case, according to Jets left tackle Kelvin Beachum.

However he does it, Bates must improve the Jets’ offensive production. The Jets finished last season 24th in Football Outsiders’ offensive DVOA ratings.

Beachum spoke Tuesday in Manhattan at the annual Gridiron Gala charity event, which benefits the United Way of New York City. Beachum was honored at the event — along with Giants defensive lineman Damon Harrison (an ex-Jet) — for his work in the community.

“I got a text from Charles Woodson, who told me, ‘Your son has to retire. There’s no way he can put that red helmet on his head,’” Reggie McKenzie said. “Part of me felt that way, but in all seriousness it’s a good opportunity for him and I was hoping that he would land at a spot that will kind of grow him to that position. He can play D-tackle, but I think he could be special on the offensive line. That’s where we were going to play him.”

For his part, Kahlil McKenzie has already vowed to whip the team his dad runs. He may be a sixth-round rookie, but McKenzie is already right in the middle of one of the NFL’s best rivalries.

Chris Ballard will not be known as the G.M. who traded Andrew Luck.

After Colts owner Jim Irsay said the team turned down trade offers for Luck, Ballard said the same, and he said he quickly cut off the conversation when he received calls wondering what it would take to pry Luck away from Indianapolis.

“We’re not trading Andrew Luck,” Ballard said. “I’m not putting that on my résumé.”

More Jackson is the future, but Flacco is the present On some level, it makes Flacco look petty that he hasn’t reached out to Jackson to welcome him to the team and offer at least an insincerelet me know if I can help.

On another level, however, NFL coaches and players tell us all the time: this league is a business.broncos_002_acd54ed6aaf0c850-180x180

Report: Tim Jernigan has surgery for herniated disc

Eagles defensive tackle Tim Jernigan underwent surgery to repair a herniated disc, Howard Eskin of 94 WIP reports.

Jernigan will not take part in the team’s offseason program but is expected to make a full recovery, per Eskin.

There’s no substitute for experience and he’s got it. So no, the age doesn’t bother me. It was, of course, easy to say that all along. The Giants showed us they mean it a few weeks ago. And based on Shurmur’s work over the past few years in getting the most out of a variety of different quarterbacks, that simple act should carry weight.

My belief in Eli is in being a pro coach that’s competed against him, Shurmur said.

Falk, a notorious Tom Brady fan, now enters a depth chart led by Marcus Mariota, a franchise quarterback who’s likely to soon get a nine-figure contract. Sort of like the 10-year, $103 million deal Drew Bledsoe signed in March 2001, only months before Mo Lewis inflicted an injury to Bledsoe that opened the door for Brady.

The connections between the Titans and Patriots make this one a little eerie, but it still remains a long shot for #Luke to become anything closer to the player #Tommy is. Regardless, they have at least one thing in common: They entered the league in the same draft spot.

The Detroit Lions have operated this offseason as if Matt Patricia is the NFL’s most important offseason addition, the X-factor that will morph the franchise from a team hovering around.500 to a perennial contender.

But that leap, if it happens, will come through incremental improvements, and arguably no unit stands to benefit more from coaching-related adjustments than the Lions’ offensive line.broncos_090_d07000fd8593aad3-180x180

Carolina added a key piece to the backfield.

The Panthers signed free-agent running back C.J. Anderson to a contract, the team announced Monday on Twitter. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

With Jonathan Stewart joining the Giants on a two-year deal during free agency, Anderson’s arrival bolsters a Panthers’ running back group consisting of second-year pro Christian McCaffrey, Fozzy Whittaker and Cameron Artis-Payne.

Maybe I’ll need an umbrella, Kelly told the Boston Globe. I hope nothing gets thrown or poured on us.

The Titans released Griffin in February 2016 when he was tied with Corey Graham of Buffalo for the most games played by a safety in the NFL between 2007 and 2015. Griffin signed with Minnesota but didn’t play a game. He then signed with Carolina and started six of 13 games with the Panthers in 2016. He finished his career starting 134 of 154 games played in 10 seasons. Griffin spent the 2017 season working out in case a team called and finished his degree at Texas. He said even when he was with the Vikings and Panthers he always felt he remained a Tennessee Titan.

Accorsi also picked John Elway with the No. 1 pick in 1983. It seems he is one of the people who helped steer Gettleman away from this class of quarterbacks, even using the same grade on a curve analogy as his protege.

The Giants drafted Kyle Lauletta in the fourth round.

I’m a quarterback guy, Accorsi said. I’ve always felt if you pick a quarterback that high — not in the fourth or fifth round — he can’t have a minus. There are boxes of critical factors. Some of them are intangible and some are just feel on your part. There has to be a plus or plus-plus in every box. If there is a minus, you are asking for trouble.

In March, Goodell was asked about Reid, one of the better players at his position in the NFL, not having a job. I’ve said this repeatedly to you: The 32 teams make individual decisions on the players who are going to best help their franchises, Goodell said. Those are decisions they have to make. They do that every day in the best interest of winning. Teams make those decisions. I’m not directly involved with that. Last month, Kaepernick praised Reid for continuing to make a stand for social justice when the quarterback was presented an Amnesty International award in Amsterdam. sharks-024

One month in, one key change for every team

As we near May, teams are beginning to evaluate where they stand, assessing their respective strengths and weaknesses. It’s a time for taking inventory. Even the best teams — even the Astros — have weaknesses. With that in mind, let’s find potential fixes for all 30 major league teams.

Arizona Diamondbacks: The Diamondbacks are playing their best outfield defender — Jarrod Dyson — out of position in right field. While A.J. Pollock is a fine defender and has clubhouse seniority, the Diamondbacks could squeeze some more value by moving Dyson to center against right-handed pitching.

No better education than a seventh game in the playoffs on home court.

“It’s going to be new for our group. This whole playoff experience has been new, we have a lot of new pieces,” Horford said. “As a basketball player, fan, one of the places that you want to enjoy and be is the TD Garden for a Game 7.”

He finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

“We got great looks this whole series. It’s a matter of knocking it down and trusting the pass. … We need to have that same mentality going into Game 7.” — Middleton.

Olsen, who last month interviewed for the Monday Night Football analyst job previously held by Jon Gruden, was entering the final season of a three-year extension he signed in March 2015.

He told ESPN recently that he wanted an extension with the Panthers and would prefer to end his career in Carolina.

The 33-year-old Olsen missed nine games last season with a broken foot suffered in Week 2. It was the first time since his rookie season with the Chicago Bears that he missed a game and the first time since his first season with the Panthers (2011) that he missed a start.

Olsen is the only tight end in NFL history to have three consecutive seasons (2014-16) with at least 1,000 yards receiving.

The timing of the extension, on the eve of the NFL draft, is interesting. Now the Panthers might not be in the market for a tight end with the 24th pick.

According to a source, however, “nothing is off the table” in the first round, including tight end.
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Strained hamstring lands Rangers 3B Adrian Beltre on DL

Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre is on the disabled list again with another leg issue, and is the third Texas starting infielder out with an injury.

“It’s a gut punch,” manager Jeff Banister said. “It doesn’t feel good.”

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, who coached Wade to two of his three titles, said he didn’t want to think about the idea of Wade walking away from the game.

“I don’t even want to go there. You’re going to make me emotional if we start to think about that or talk about that right now,” Spoelstra said.

Wade was traded to Miami from Cleveland before the deadline in February. He signed with the Cavaliers in September after working out a buyout with the Chicago Bulls, with whom he spent the 2016-17 season. He spent the previous 13 seasons with the Heat.

“I’ve loved it,” Spoelstra said of Wade’s return. “Each day that he’s been back, I’ve just been trying to enjoy it. I didn’t think that this would happen this year. I thought this would be one of those situations on down the line that would be a ceremonial signing to have him back. When it happened so quickly, he fit right in, and that just speaks to his humility.”

Wade, 36, averaged 18 points on 49 percent shooting off the bench for the Heat in the playoffs. He scored 28 points in Game 2 to lift Miami to its only win in the series.

Sixers center Joel Embiid said he embraced Wade at the end of the series in case Wade decides to retire.

He did, retiring the lone batter he faced. That was quite enough.

“My family was here. They made the flight and got to see it, so it was a dream come true, really,” he said.

Venters’ previous performance in the majors came with Atlanta, a year after he was an NL All-Star. Since then, he had elbow ligament replacement surgery in 2013 and 2014 after getting it done originally in 2005.

“After the last time, I all but made up my mind I wasn’t going to do it again,” Venters said. “Then I spoke with the doctors and my family. Everybody thought it was a good idea to do it again. So I felt like if everybody that I cared about thought that way, then I would be stubborn not to try it again. So here I am.”

Venters was uncertain how he would fare in the majors on six years’ rest.

“That’s a good question,” he said. “I’m not sure. We’ll see.”

“It looked like it got out enough, but you never know,” Dickerson said.dolphins_118

Rangers close out Oakland 4-2, end A’s 4-game win streak

The Texas Rangers’ beleaguered bullpen delivered Wednesday night to help salvage the final game of a disappointing homestand.

Four relievers worked 4 1/3 innings, the only baserunner reaching on a throwing error, as the Rangers beat the Oakland Athletics 4-2. Isiah Kiner-Falefa hit a go-ahead single in the fifth to help stop Oakland’s four-game winning streak.

“He mixed his pitches again and overall pitched better,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “We just didn’t score many runs for him. We just didn’t play a good game overall.”

Before the draft begins, Staubach will spend time with military members at AT&T Stadium as part of a USAA function to talk about his draft experience as well as his time in the military.

“There’s a common denominator there, and it feels good to talk to those who give their lives to protect us, and I know what they have to go through and the ordeal,” Staubach said. “I lost a number of classmates in Vietnam, and teammates, so I’m very proud to be a part of the military even though I didn’t make it a career. I did serve, and I’m proud of that because it makes me feel good when I’m with military people.”

Joey Wendle had three hits and two RBI, Adeiny Hechavarria homered and Tampa Bay beat Cobb and the Baltimore Orioles 8-4 Wednesday night.

The game marked the return of left-hander Jonny Venters following a six-year absence and four major elbow operations, including three Tommy John surgeries. After being recalled from Triple-A Durham earlier in the day, the 33-year-old Venters used four pitches to retire Chris Davis — the only batter he faced — on a grounder in the sixth inning.

Before walking onto the field, Venters acknowledged it was “an emotional day.” After he got there, those feelings intensified.

“It hit me once I got in the dugout and looked around and soaked it all in. It was overwhelming,” Venters said. “But once I got out there, it was just like pitching again. I’m glad it went well and got that first one behind me.”
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Chacin helps Brewers top Royals 6-2 for eighth straight win

Jhoulys Chacin had walked three batters each of his last three outings, so the Brewers’ veteran right-hander was surprised when the Kansas City Royals kept swinging early in the count.

They had no choice the way he was pounding the strike zone.

“We’re playing well,” Counsell said. “You got to earn the wins. You have to earn them every day.”

The Brewers scored all they needed off Jason Hamel (0-2) in the fourth inning on two hits, a walk, an error and a pair of sacrifice flies. Only three of the runs were earned after outfielder Jorge Soler dropped a would-be flyout to the groans of about 5,000 fans that braved the cold, wet weather.

Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas had not played a single fourth-quarter minute in the series before getting the call down the stretch to play alongside Delon Wright, Lowry, DeRozan and C.J. Miles, a group that barely shared the floor this season.

“We’re all capable of going it offensively and defensively and it showed tonight,” DeRozan said. “Everybody stepped up and Delon stepped up big.”

Raprtors coach Dwane Casey acknowledged he was “searching” for the right lineup combination

“I thought Delon Wright did a good job down the stretch handling the ball,” Casey said. “It gave us an opportunity for Kyle and DeMar to get off the ball a little bit more and I thought that was the difference.”

Wright scored 11 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter, and Valanciunas had 14 points and 13 rebounds as the Raptors improved to 5-0 in home Game 5s over the past five years.

“Delon Wright came in and made some big shots and big plays for them,” Washington’s John Wall said. “Whenever he gets over 10 or 15, nine times out of 10 they win the game. He’s a big key to their team when they go small.”

He yielded just three hits with eight strikeouts and two walks, lowering his ERA from 6.86 to 5.26. Darvish left with a 2-1 lead, but Milwaukee tied it the score in the seventh off the bullpen to deny Darvish his first victory with Chicago.

The four-time All-Star, signed to a six-year contract, entered with just one solid outing: He allowed one run over six innings at Milwaukee on April 7.

Darvish got his second big league double and fifth hit with a drive into the right-field corner in the fifth inning against Suter. After trotting into second, Darvish slipped, but he got to his feet and pitched a scoreless sixth.jets_015

Capitals, Penguins square off in second round for third straight year

For the third straight postseason, it’ll be the Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Metropolitan Division semifinals.

“Here we go,” center Nicklas Backstrom declared after the Capitals eliminated the Columbus Blue Jackets in a 6-3 Game 6 victory on Monday night. The Penguins also won in six games, eliminating the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday.

The Capitals will have home-ice advantage again for this edition of the postseason rivalry. They’ll have Ovechkin and Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov and goalie Braden Holtby, as they have in the past two playoff battles. Which leads to the obvious question: How can this time be different for the Capitals, when so much seems eerily familiar?

“We knew that chances were [good] we’d have to go through them at some point. We’ve prepared well. We’ve used the year to better our team,” said Holtby, who was spectacular in making 35 saves in Game 6.

“I’m taking it head on,” he said of the pressure. “I’m a pretty confident guy. I’m comfortable in my own skin. I’m going to go in there and do the things I do, what the coaches ask me to do and do it at the highest level. That’s my plan.”

This was a monumental decision for the Jets, who hadn’t used a first-round pick on a quarterback since Mark Sanchez in 2009. It has happened only three other times in the common-draft era — Richard Todd (1976), Ken O’Brien (1983) and Chad Pennington (2000).

Darnold is the Jets’ highest-drafted quarterback since Joe Namath, the No. 1 overall pick in the 1965 AFL draft.

“He has a very high ceiling,” said general manager Mike Maccagnan, who scouted Darnold five times in person last fall. “That will play itself out over the spring.”

Coach Todd Bowles didn’t rule out the possibility of Darnold as the opening-day starter. Incumbent Josh McCown will go into training camp as the No. 1 quarterback, but that could change.

“We’re not going to throw him out there, but at the same time, we’re not going to hold him back, either,” Bowles said.

The other quarterbacks on the roster — Teddy Bridgewater, Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty — face uncertain futures. Bridgewater, who signed a free-agent contract in March, could be trade bait.
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Depth scoring, blueliners give Predators the edge vs. Jets

How they got here. The plucky Colorado Avalanche gave the top-seeded Nashville Predators all they could handle in the first round for a surprisingly entertaining series. The Predators prevailed in six games, but a few warts were exposed — especially the propensity for allowing a late goal.

The Winnipeg Jets, meanwhile, won the franchise’s first playoff series since April 1987, when all but four players on the Jets roster hadn’t even been born. Another reminder of how long ago it was: “I Knew You Were Waiting (for Me),” by Aretha Franklin and George Michael, was the No. 1 single on the Billboard 100.

Defense. The Predators may have had some defensive lapses against the Avalanche in the first round, but they still boast the most talented top six in the league (and they did show up in that stifling Game 6 clincher). Against the Wild, the Jets proved they’re not just an offensive team and can win tight, grind-it-out games as well. Dustin Byfuglien exerted a level of physicality in the first-round series that should scare anyone. Injuries are a concern, though. Advantage: Predators

Greg Wyshynski and Emily Kaplan break down the second-round playoff matchups that have been set, and give their top candidates for the Conn Smythe. Plus, Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon and longtime Penguins beat writer Rob Rossi.

After getting seven goals from seven different players during a four-game sweep of the Los Angeles Kings in the opening round, the Golden Knights matched that with seven players scoring for them on Thursday.

Cody Eakin, Erik Haula and Jonathan Marchessault scored 1:31 apart early in the first period to get Vegas going. Alex Tuch, Shea Theodore, Colin Miller and James Neal also scored, Reilly Smith and William Karlsson each had three assists, and Marchessault and David Perron added two each.

“It was a great game for us, obviously we played a full 60 minutes and that’s what you want from your team in the playoffs,” Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said. “It wasn’t even about the seven goals, it was about how we played the game.”

The Golden Knights, the first team from the opening round to advance, showed no sign of rust after having nine days off since completing their first-round sweep over the Kings. From the opening puck drop, Vegas skated fast, its passes were crisp, and the players were in synch with one another. It has now outscored its opposition 14-3 in five games.

“We got better in practice, we ramped it up, so we were excited to get going.” Neal said. “We talked about having a good first shift and I thought every guy did that tonight. I thought we went to the net well. We did good things, for us I think we have to look at them, they’re going to be a hungry team, they’re going to be a lot better. They’ll be putting that one behind them pretty quick and looking to be a better hockey team so we gotta be ready.”jets_110