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August | 2017 | informazing

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Monthly Archive:: August 2017

Rams to donate proceeds from Week 1 ticket sales to Hurricane Harvey relief

The Rams are the latest pro sports team to offer money towards recovery efforts.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL as a whole has helped raise and has donated several millions of dollars towards relief funds for Hurricane Harvey victims.

Every effort counts and the Los Angeles Rams announced that they are donating proceeds of tickets sold for their opening game to relief in the Houston area.

This is tremendous. As with the NFL, other organizations and individuals have made an effort to help out during this national disaster.

It would not be surprising to see more NFL teams come forward and do the same as the Rams. Los Angeles hosts the Indianapolis Colts on Sept. 10.


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Transfer deadline day: how it all unfolded – video report

From Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain joining Liverpool to Alexis Sánchez and Ross Barkley staying put at Arsenal and Everton respectively, recap all of the biggest hits and misses from transfer deadline day

Continue reading…


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Former Texans star Foster pitches in to help Harvey victims

HOUSTON (AP) After former Houston Texan Arian Foster and his brother Abdul Foster got through Hurricane Harvey OK they decided to do something to help those who weren’t so fortunate.

On Thursday the pair opened up Abdul’s gym for an all-day supply drive to collect food, clothing, toiletries and other items to distribute to those affected by the hurricane and the widespread flooding it caused in Houston and throughout southeast Texas.

”We were kind of locked in our house for like three days, just sitting around kind of being helpless and feeling helpless,” said Arian, who sustained flooding to the home he was renting.

”We thought once it dries up we need to do something to show our support to the community and use what little platform we have to help others that want to give but don’t know where to give and try to help organize the rebuilding in the city.”

So on Thursday the gym where Abdul has trained many NFL players was filled with hundreds of bottles of water, boxes of diapers stacked 10-feet high and thousands of cans of food.

A separate room was overflowing with bags upon bags of clothing that the group hoped to get to Port Arthur, Texas, which was flooded in recent days.

The brothers figured they’d get a couple tables’ worth of donations on Thursday, and were thrilled as they saw lines of cars waiting to drop off scores of goods.

”I’m definitely impressed but I’m not surprised,” Arian said. ”It’s just a testament to the people in the community that have that good spirit and want to see other people do good.”

On Thursday afternoon Foster helped carry in cases of water that had been donated and Abdul helped volunteers organize the donated clothing into dozens of piles according to size and sex.

The Fosters wanted to make sure the donations went straight to those who needed them most. So instead of donating the goods to a relief agency, they found some trucks and planned to distribute everything themselves.

”We want to take it out to the people directly,” Abdul said. ”We’re literally going to go on curbside and drop off to churches that have contacted us and said that they’re going to distribute to the communities directly behind them … we don’t want them to have to wait or go through any processes, checkmarks or nothing. We just want to take it to the people directly.”

Arian played for the Texans from 2009-15 and is the franchise’s career leading rusher.

The work of the Fosters comes as J.J. Watt’s fund for hurricane relief keeps growing. The star defensive end has raised $12.2 million, and got a boost on Thursday with a $200,000 donation from Drake.

Sign up for AP’s daily newsletter showcasing our best all-formats reporting on Harvey and its aftermath: http://apne.ws/ahYQGtb


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Two cities offer to host Texans for regular season opener

Originally posted on

Sportsnaut

 | 
By Vincent Frank
 | 
Last updated 8/31/17

The Texans have options if NRG Stadium – or the city of Houston, really – won’t be ready for its Week 1 game.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Texans are preparing as if they will be able to host the Jacksonville Jaguars in their regular season opener next weekend.

It’s most definitely not a foregone conclusion that this will happen after Hurricane Harvey laid wreck to the city of Houston this week.

Still dealing with flooding on a biblical scale, Houston itself is reeling from one of the biggest environment catastrophes in recent United States history.

And while the Texans have returned home to help with the rebuild in lieu of playing a fourth preseason game Thursday, there’s still questions about whether NRG Stadium will be able to host the regular season opener on Sept. 10.

It’s in this that two other cities have offered to play host to the Texans-Jaguars game.

“The Jacksonville Jaguars will support whatever scheduling decision the NFL makes,” Jaguars owner Shad Khan said in a statement, via CBS Sports. “What’s most important to me and everyone in Jacksonville isn’t where we’ll play the Texans on Week 1, but that the City of Houston and its people recover quickly, safely and successfully.”

Khan’s offer includes swapping home games with the Texans. This means Jacksonville would host the Week 1 game between the two AFC South rivals. Then, in December, Houston would host the last of two matchups between the teams.

Meanwhile, the city of San Antonio has also reached out, offering up the Alamodome as a possibility.

“The Alamodome has not been contacted about the possibility of moving the Texans season opener to the Alamodome, however we have made NRG Stadium management and the Texans aware that we could host the game if they should need to relocate for Sunday, Sept. 10,” the city’s director of the convention and sports facilities said, via the Houston Chronicle.

It’s great to see the sports world come together to help those impacted the most by this devastating natural disaster.

The plan for now is to have NRG Stadium host the Week 1 game. In fact, MLB’s Houston Astros will host a doubleheader against the New York Mets on Saturday.

But there could very well be further logistical and safety concerns as the Houston-area looks to recover. If that ends up being the case, the Texans will have a temporary home for Week 1.

This article first appeared on Sportsnaut and was syndicated with permission.

MORE FROM YARDBARKER:

17 SLIDES
2017 NFL preseason Week 4 predictions


}
,
{
src: ‘/media/2/5/25ac13ddc50c1eedc1bbbe068f66d065d9d47642/xl/USATSI_10196125.jpg’,
title: ‘Cincinnati Bengals at Indianapolis Colts (-1.5)’,
description: ‘

Thursday, 7 p.m. ET 

Plenty of issues on both sides here, with Cincinnati staring down a three-game suspension for the talented but troubled Vontaze Burfict, and Indianapolis dealing with continued uncertainty regarding Andrew Luck’s surgically repaired shoulder. Scott Tolzien will get the nod in this one, and head coach Chuck Pagano figures to watch his performance very closely, as it appears there is a very real chance that Tolzien will be under center to start the regular season. Expect Indianapolis to come out a little sharper, especially against Cincinnati’s backups. 

Pick: Colts

The Cincinnati Enquirer-USA TODAY NETWORK


}
,
{
src: ‘/media/f/d/fd6b62c1ba7ee99bb0fcda1ca8c4f0dd80bd5b8b/xl/USATSI_10241544.jpg’,
title: ‘Philadelphia Eagles at New York Jets (-1)’,
description: ‘

Thursday, 7 p.m. ET (NFL Network)

Journeyman Josh McCown was named starting quarterback earlier this week, but that hasn’t put an end to the intrigue at that position for New York. Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg are still jockeying for the backup job. Petty, though he’s dealing with a sprained knee, has lobbied to play, likely hoping to make a second straight statement after registering a perfect quarterback rating against the Giants’ second and third-stringers last week. Meanwhile, the Eagles need to figure out whether Nick Foles will be healthy enough to back up Carson Wentz, or if the job will end up belonging to Matt McGloin.

Pick: Eagles

William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports


}
,
{
src: ‘/media/4/5/45f0d39858282c3adb2904b4ca613a4835319f5e/xl/USATSI_10237418.jpg’,
title: ‘Jacksonville Jaguars at Atlanta Falcons (-3)’,
description: ‘

Thursday, 7 p.m. ET

Blake Bortles is the starter for Jacksonville, for better or worse, and likely won’t play much, if at all, against Atlanta. The Jaguars’ situation is far from ideal, because no matter how much of a vote of confidence Bortles receives from Doug Marrone, a good game in Atlanta from Chad Henne will stir up the controversy yet again. For the Falcons, the goal is much simpler; stay healthy. Needless to say, Matt Ryan isn’t looking over his shoulder at anyone.

Pick: Jaguars

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports


}
,
{
src: ‘/media/1/c/1c75f6f2df4de4389c8316ed3b0726a0a3f9582c/xl/USATSI_10240520.jpg’,
title: ‘Detroit Lions at Buffalo Bills (NO LINE)’,
description: ‘

Thursday, 7 p.m. ET

With his starter and third-stringer in the concussion protocol, Sean McDermott has a decision to make. Should he let Nathan Peterman play a few series, or guarantee his health and give Keith Wenning, a fourth-year pro out of Ball State, signed primarily to get the Bills through this final exhibition game, all of the snaps? The latter seems more likely, and while that won’t do the rest of the Bills’ offense any good as far as legitimate preparation, it may be the best course of action. As for Detroit, it’s safe to say that Matthew Stafford, the latest QB to hold the title of league’s highest paid player, will watch comfortably from the sidelines.

Pick: Lions

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports


}
,
{
src: ‘/media/d/8/d8723c156b0a8df67b57256e117883dfa7463895/xl/USATSI_10241950.jpg’,
title: ‘Los Angeles Rams at Green Bay Packers (-3.5)’,
description: ‘

Thursday, 7 p.m. ET

Think Aaron Rodgers is happy about Matthew Stafford’s new contract? Chances are he is, even if he won’t say much on the subject. Rodgers is probably the best quarterback in the league not named Tom Brady, and it stands to reason he’ll cash in the biggest before too long. Rodgers won’t play because he doesn’t need to, but the Rams’ best player, all-world defensive lineman Aaron Donald, won’t suit up because he’s holding out. General Manager Les Snead has said it is unlikely that Donald will play in the season opener unless he reports to the team this week, a scenario that would seriously damage Los Angeles’ defense.

Pick: Packers

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports


}
,
{
src: ‘/media/d/7/d7b6f5c5dedbf78cc8b1845e2caf1f9371f72ebf/xl/USATSI_10107900.jpg’,
title: ‘Pittsburgh Steelers at Carolina Panthers (-4)’,
description: ‘

Thursday, 7:30 p.m. ET

The Steelers have been busy, signing Joe Haden on Wednesday shortly after he was cut by the Browns. Haden figures to immediately slot in as a starting cornerback opposite Artie Burns, a move that may well end Ross Cockrell’s time in Pittsburgh. Mike Tomlin has also been unhappy with the play of his tight ends, deeming it “not consistently varsity enough.” That was his explanation for the Steelers’ acquisition of Vance McDonald in a trade with San Francisco. McDonald’s contract suggests that he was brought in to be the featured tight end in a high-powered offense, so it will be interesting to see how much playing time he gets, if any, given that Ben Roethlisberger won’t see the field. 

Pick: Panthers

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports


}
,
{
src: ‘/media/3/7/3705e4fa09a861d0a25408f7c3c96b5cd62c576b/xl/USATSI_10218727.jpg’,
title: ‘New York Giants at New England Patriots (-3)’,
description: ‘

Thursday, 7:30 p.m. ET

Don’t expect the Pats to miss a beat after losing Julian Edelman for the season to an ACL tear. Brandin Cooks and Chris Hogan figure to be more than capable of picking up the slack, with Cooks looking like an especially dangerous and versatile target. The Giants’ backups, meanwhile, were strafed by Bryce Petty last week. The task this week is much taller, as second-stringers go, with Jimmy Garoppolo looking to impress. Undrafted rookie Austin Carr has had a strong preseason and figures to be a player to watch for New England.

Pick: Patriots

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports


}
,
{
src: ‘/media/f/7/f713b129d516ea35eee7aa232138d4df630b043e/xl/USATSI_10184041.jpg’,
title: ‘Washington Redskins at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-2.5)’,
description: ‘

Thursday, 7:30 p.m. ET

One has to think that Kirk Cousins was salivating when news of Matthew Stafford’s contract extension broke. Cousins stands to cash in so long as he has a solid season, and the return of tight end Jordan Reed, his most trusted target, can only help in that regard. Though Reed may well need more reps, all reports suggest he will not play in Washington’s final exhibition game. For Tampa Bay, the most interesting subplot might well be how kicker Nick Folk, brought in to replace the disastrous Roberto Aguayo, fares in his final exhibition outing. Folk was not good against Jacksonville, but accounted for all of the Buccaneers’ points against Cleveland.

Pick: Buccaneers

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports


}
,
{
src: ‘/media/5/5/555f26a5b9de39b24d3ac41869c3009ec5b96cbf/xl/USATSI_10240872.jpg’,
title: ‘Cleveland Browns at Chicago Bears (-3.5)’,
description: ‘

Thursday, 8 p.m. ET

Having cut loose Joe Haden, the Browns are even younger and cheaper on the defensive side of the ball, but DeShone Kizer’s ascension to the starting quarterback spot seems to be the most intriguing story for this team. Kizer may or may not play in the preseason’s final tilt, but Cleveland native Mitch Trubisky will start for the Bears. Should Kizer play, it will be interesting to see how long Hue Jackson risks having him out there, as the rookie certainly could use more reps, given his lack of experience and perceived lack of readiness.

Pick: Bears

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports


}
,
{
src: ‘/media/1/b/1b0df1af0a737f3b38f8751ecd2087e657c01d29/xl/USATSI_10240309.jpg’,
title: ‘Dallas Cowboys at Houston Texans (CANCELED)’,
description: ‘

This game has been canceled due to Hurricane Harvey, but while we have your attention, here are a few places where you can donate to relief efforts for the Texas Gulf Coast.

Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports


}
,
{
src: ‘/media/e/d/ede303373f3c349b6c5b113849b4417cc8907b67/xl/USATSI_10243406.jpg’,
title: ‘Miami Dolphins at Minnesota Vikings (-3)’,
description: ‘

Thursday, 8 p.m. ET

Minnesota’s biggest issue seems to be its porous offensive line, a unit that did itself no favors in 15 snaps together last week against San Francisco. Head Coach Mike Zimmer has to hope that Riley Reiff and company will need to get their act together in a hurry, because as good as Sam Bradford was last year, durable has not been a word used to describe him throughout his career. As for Miami, Jay Cutler is expected to sit, so Dolphins fans will have to hope that his history with Adam Gase wins out over his relative inexperience with the team. One unsettled area for the Dolphins is cornerback, where Byron Maxwell and Xavien Howard are the presumptive starters, but could see a handful of reserves, among them former Pro Bowler Alterraun Verner, vie for playing time.

Pick: Vikings

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports


}
,
{
src: ‘/media/a/2/a22b4adef4e0aeb8d0e082d44ee35b692808f39b/xl/USATSI_10241113.jpg’,
title: ‘Baltimore Ravens at New Orleans Saints (-2.5)’,
description: ‘

Thursday, 8 p.m. ET

Baltimore looks to wrap up an unbeaten run through the preseason, with some undrafted free agent rookies having made strong impressions during training camp and the first three preseason games. Chief among them is Bam Bradley, a linebacker from Pittsburgh, who may well be the next man up at inside linebacker, after Albert Mclellan was lost for the year with a knee injury. For New Orleans, this game merely serves as one more game to wait before Drew Brees and Adrian Peterson, two veterans likely to end their careers in Canton, teaming up together in the backfield during a game that counts.

Pick: Ravens

Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports


}
,
{
src: ‘/media/8/2/82e981ba33abecb9e1238e7ad46445c9dfeec3e2/xl/USATSI_10244824.jpg’,
title: ‘Tennessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs (-3.5)’,
description: ‘

Thursday, 8:30 p.m. ET

Kansas City acquired former Browns center Cameron Erving in another late-preseason trade, and while Browns fans certainly didn’t seem upset to see Erving leave, he may be a better fit with the Chiefs, who might try to use him at a different spot on the offensive line, specifically one where his six-foot-six-inch frame isn’t as awkward as it was at center. Meantime, Tennessee’s main concern is that fifth overall pick Corey Davis and newly acquired Eric Decker are able to build as much chemistry with Marcus Mariota as possible, given that both only recently returned to practice.

Pick: Chiefs

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports


}
,
{
src: ‘/media/3/f/3f1a4d8e9d810378507c78aa679e18b5ff1f74ee/xl/USATSI_10241824.jpg’,
title: ‘Arizona Cardinals at Denver Broncos (-2.5)’,
description: ‘

Thursday, 9 p.m. ET

Paxton Lynch’s shoulder injury means undrafted rookie Kyle Sloter will play the overwhelming majority, if not all, of Denver’s offensive snaps, with Trevor Siemian being given the night off. Sloter has posted a 140.2 passer rating this preseason, and has at least a chance to make Denver’s 53-man roster due to Lynch’s injury. Not bad for a guy that wasn’t even Northern Colorado’s starting quarterback to start his senior season. The Cardinals, meantime, look to merely get out of the exhibition slate healthy, while also getting a longer look at potential third-stringer Blaine Gabbert, who has drawn praise from head coach Bruce Arians.

Pick: Broncos

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports


}
,
{
src: ‘/media/0/c/0cc2811df4533f1b0aa449cc5df4547f6f08d23d/xl/USATSI_10241008.jpg’,
title: ‘Los Angeles Chargers at San Francisco 49ers (-2.5)’,
description: ‘

Thursday, 10 p.m. ET

The 49ers parted ways with Vance McDonald, in a trade that seems as much about getting McDonald’s salary off the books as anything else, given what will likely be a relatively short move up the draft board if they and the Steelers have the seasons most pundits expect them to. Los Angeles, meanwhile, will prepare for a season in which Philip Rivers stands taller than ever as the irreplaceable core of their offense, and Joey Bosa looks to make the leap to bona fide superstar on the defensive side. Plus, there is also the battle to see whether or not the Chargers or Rams take clear hold of the number one spot in the hearts of Angelenos.

Pick: Chargers

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports


}
,
{
src: ‘/media/8/2/82fe3f0a4cd339db7180a21318dcc303c2555df2/xl/USATSI_10238534.jpg’,
title: ‘Seattle Seahawks (-1.5) at Oakland Raiders ‘,
description: ‘

Thursday, 10 p.m. ET (NFL Network)

There is plenty of intrigue surrounding the backup quarterback job in Seattle, as Trevone Boykin has been shaky, and Austin Davis often very sharp this preseason. The job was Boykin’s to lose, and there is little doubt that his skill set is one Pete Carroll would love to have at his disposal should Russell Wilson go down with an injury. Still, Boykin’s inconsistency has left the door open, and it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that one more strong outing from Davis could net him the job. As for Oakland, if Derek Carr goes down with an injury, they’re in enough trouble that the backup quarterback won’t matter much.

Pick: Seahawks

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports


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Everton’s Ross Barkley ‘changed his mind’ over £35m move to Chelsea | Football

Ross Barkley changed his mind about moving to Chelsea despite undergoing a medical with the Premier League champions, according to Everton’s majority shareholder, Farhad Moshiri.

It is understood Everton had accepted a £35m offer for the England international and were caught out by Barkley’s decision to opt against the move.

Meanwhile, Torino have confirmed the defender Davide Zappacosta will move to Stamford Bridge for a reported €28m.

Barkley’s snub is the latest blow in a string of transfer window disappointments for Chelsea. Their former striker Romelu Lukaku was heavily linked with a return to Stamford Bridge but chose to join Manchester United.

In recent days Chelsea had an offered accepted by Arsenal for the midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who rejected the move in favour of a transfer to Liverpool.

Antonio Conte had also been keen to recruit the experienced striker Fernando Llorente from Swansea having worked with the 32-year-old at Juventus but the Spaniard now looks set for Tottenham.

Barkley emerged as a late candidate for Conte’s side, who have added Antonio Rüdiger, Tiémoué Bakayoko and Álvaro Morata in the window, having been told by the Everton manager, Ronald Koeman, he could leave this summer.

But Moshiri told Sky Sports News the player had a change of heart and will return to Goodison Park to continue rehabilitation on a hamstring injury.

“After the medical we heard from Paul Martin, Ross Barkley’s agent, that he changed his mind and wanted to reconsider his position during the January window, that is the latest,” he said.

“He is currently injured so I think technically he will be with us because he is under contract for another year, so it is a big surprise but that is football.”

There could be one further arrival at Chelsea with the club still in talks over the Leicester midfielder Danny Drinkwater.


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Gophers forward Curry out for season with knee injury


University of Minnesota sophomore Eric Curry will miss the upcoming season after suffering a devastating knee injury.

The school announced Thursday that the forward suffered a torn ACL, MCL and meniscus in his left knee during a pickup game.

“Injuries are an unfortunate part of the game, and we are certainly disheartened by the news,” Gophers coach Richard Pitino said in a statement. “Eric had a tremendous summer, but I am positive he will continue to get better as he recovers from this setback.”

Curry appeared in 34 games last year, averaging 5.5 points, 5.2 rebounds and 0.7 blocks per game in his first season with the Gophers.


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Report: Broncos expected to move on from Pro Bowler T.J. Ward

Originally posted on

Sportsnaut

 | 
By Vincent Frank
 | 
Last updated 8/31/17

The veteran safety could be on the move despite strong play for the team since 2014.
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

There were rumors circulating earlier in the week that the Denver Broncos might be dangling three-time Pro Bowl safety T.J. Ward as trade bait.

It’s somewhat surprising considering how well he has performed as a strong safety for the team since signing as a free agent prior to the 2014 season.

Now comes this report from Mike Klis of NBC Denver indicating that the Broncos will release Ward if they are unable able to find a trade partner for the veteran.

“No, Von Miller, it’s not fake news. The Broncos are expected to part ways, preferably through trade, with strong safety T.J. Ward by 2 p.m. Saturday,” Klis reported Thursday.

Klis went on to note that several Broncos players are not happy with this decision. Though, it does appear a younger and cheaper Justin Simmons is prepared to take over the starting job.

After missing the entire preseason with a hamstring injury, it remains to be seen if there will be a market for Ward on the trade block. But given that he’s still only 30 years old and performing at a high level, some team will pick him up should he be released.

This article first appeared on Sportsnaut and was syndicated with permission.

MORE FROM YARDBARKER:

20 SLIDES
The 20 biggest storylines heading into the 2017 NFL season


}
,
{
src: ‘/media/3/9/39246648e5f5395c94f16cb73b309046e24e3947/xl/USATSI_9861674.jpg’,
title: ‘Where do the Falcons go from here? ‘,
description: ‘

The Falcons had the best offense in the NFL last year, but didn’t even try to run the ball when it mattered most. Up 28-3 in the 3rd quarter, the Falcons only ran the ball on five of their final 18 plays from scrimmage and lost the Super Bowl 34-28. The NFL isn’t always kind to Super Bowl losing teams, especially ones that lose their offensive coordinator in the off season.

Dan Powers/USA TODAY Sports


}
,
{
src: ‘/media/4/0/40e726d7fe0a1c6743103ad65de9f8a270384d4f/xl/USATSI_9839150.jpg’,
title: ‘Can the Panthers become contenders again?’,
description: ‘

Following their devastating Super Bowl loss to the Broncos, the Panthers had a long, rough season that ended without them even making the playoffs. The offense struggled, but with offensive line help and first round draft pick Christian McCaffrey, Cam Newton should have all the weapons he needs to become Super Man again.

Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports


}
,
{
src: ‘/media/6/a/6a5fad1805eab8b1ef9283a5ed4854410636306c/xl/USATSI_9591726.jpg’,
title: ‘Will Colin Kaepernick play football in 2017?’,
description: ‘

The former 49ers quarterback is still jobless as we approach Week 1, and it looks unlikely that he’ll sign on with anyone before the start of the season. His National Anthem protests are being labeled as a distraction, but they haven’t stopped this preseason despite him not being in the fold. With inevitable injuries throughout the season, maybe Kap get another shot?

Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports


}
,
{
src: ‘/media/c/3/c3c35c07802d9159bdbb44bb737cc9c0df6cfafa/xl/USATSI_9767560.jpg’,
title: ‘Quarterbacks returning from injury’,
description: ‘

Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, Derek Carr, Marcus Mariota, Ryan Tannehill, Teddy Bridgewater, Tyrod Taylor and Trevor Siemian are all coming back from major injuries during the season or offseason surgeries. Carr’s injury changed the whole AFC playoff picture, and Bridgewater’s injury completely changed the outlook of the NFC. Interesting note, all of these quarterbacks are younger than 30; Tannehill, 28, is the oldest in the group.

Kelley L Cox/USA TODAY Sports


}
,
{
src: ‘/media/e/1/e1692c0f087786d0228b049c4bcda8cdfd9d6d13/xl/USATSI_10225953.jpg’,
title: ‘National Anthem protests’,
description: ‘

Many are picking up where Colin Kaepernick left off, with Michael Bennett and Marshawn Lynch both sitting during the anthem early in the preseason. Players have raised their fists and a collection of players on the Cleveland Browns kneeled in a circle and prayed. Without Kaepernick to label as a distraction, how will league executives handle more players taking a stand?

Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports


}
,
{
src: ‘/media/0/f/0f4411894aabebf968e9cad352466f54f319aa40/xl/USATSI_10176030.jpg’,
title: ‘Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension’,
description: ‘

The Cowboys have a football team built to compete for a Super Bowl, but without Ezekiel Elliott, will they find themselves in a hole in the NFC East? The offensive line looks good enough for Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris to carry the load for nearly half the season, but Dak Prescott will be without one of his best weapons, which can break them, or only make them stronger for when Elliott returns.

Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports


}
,
{
src: ‘/media/8/4/848358c07ac22788f1190620e5314012db84f85c/xl/USATSI_9809454.jpg’,
title: ‘Roger Goodell issues and extension’,
description: ‘

With Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension, the NFL and Goodell are again faced with questions about the way they handled the situation. It’s nice to see that they’re taking domestic violence issues more seriously, but what about Colin Kaepernick’s inability to find a job and questions about player safety? Goodell has at least five more years to figure it all out.

Brett Davis/USA TODAY Sports


}
,
{
src: ‘/media/f/7/f74f0933abf13d888b1ee6e56b3273f93d955604/xl/USATSI_9584634.jpg’,
title: ‘Oh yeah, the Lions were a playoff team’,
description: ‘

Matt Stafford had a monster year without Calvin Johnson, recording 4,300 yards, 24 touchdowns and eight game-winning drives. Now more comfortable spreading the ball around without Megatron, what heights can Stafford reach in Detroit?

Matt Marton/USA TODAY Sports


}
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{
src: ‘/media/1/6/16875b558d4fe22bd25ffe769ce3a7b6d488a5b3/xl/USATSI_10193338.jpg’,
title: ‘That Jags defense could be legit’,
description: ‘

This offseason, the Jaguars brought in safety Barry Church, cornerback A.J. Bouye and defensive end Calais Campbell. Last year, Jacksonville was sixth in yards allowed, but couldn’t create turnovers. Church, Bouye and Campbell could turn a very good defense into a great one.

Reinhold Matay/USA TODAY Sports


}
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{
src: ‘/media/3/4/34d7d698399e55b56e7022d5c992d9e2fda6e661/xl/USATSI_10228091.jpg’,
title: ‘The NFL’s best defense will be better’,
description: ‘

Last September, J.J. Watt a season-ending back surgery, and the Houston Texans still finished with the NFL’s best defense in 2016. With a three-time defensive player of the year back on the field, Houston is only going to get better on that side of the ball. If they can figure out their quarterback situation, it should be a return trip to the playoffs for the Texans.

Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports


}
,
{
src: ‘/media/8/d/8d3ad1cee2e66e8fb58e1971b0926ed4bde8d590/xl/USATSI_10228044.jpg’,
title: ‘Players can finally celebrate touchdowns again’,
description: ‘

The NFL’s greatest export from our childhood is the touchdown dance, and they had been removed from the game to promote sportsmanship for children. Allowing players to use the football as a prop, ground celebrations and group celebrations is probably the best rule change the NFL has implemented in a decade.

Aaron Doster/USA TODAY Sports


}
,
{
src: ‘/media/c/b/cbb4bde32403048b725822f45474c87d03417baa/xl/USATSI_10229345.jpg’,
title: ‘The Raiders offense is going to set defenses on fire’,
description: ‘

Let’s just list the weapons Derek Carr is going to have at his disposal this season: Michael Crabtree, Amari Cooper, Cordarrelle Patterson, Jared Cook, Marshawn Lynch and Jamize Olawale. Carr will play behind an offensive line that allowed the fewest number of sacks last season, so he’s going to have plenty of time to find one of the myriad options that make Oakland a dark horse title contender.

Cary Edmondson/USA TODAY Sports


}
,
{
src: ‘/media/2/8/28b6427e89fd21b6dbba599090a7687b5031a984/xl/USATSI_10184820.jpg’,
title: ‘What can Adrian Peterson do for the Saints?’,
description: ‘

No team has been more consistently pass-heavy over the last decade than the New Orleans Saints. Check Drew Brees’ pro football reference page, the numbers range from astounding to prolific and everywhere in-between. But if Adrian Peterson can stay healthy, will we see a paradigm shift in Saints’ offensive philosophy. At 32 and coming off a major injury, he’ll share plenty of carries with Mark Ingram, but teammates and coaches all believe AP’s still got it.

Derick E. Hingle/USA TODAY Sports


}
,
{
src: ‘/media/a/4/a4a0ffc47ad4d62897b18337be7fee52dad87925/xl/USATSI_10225028.jpg’,
title: ‘Will the real Carson Wentz please stand up? ‘,
description: ‘

Last season, there were times when Carson Wentz looked like the best rookie in his class and the worst. The Eagles went out and signed Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith to give him some legit options at wide receiver. If the lack of talent on last year’s roster was cause for Wentz’s struggles toward the end the year, then we should see much more of the guy who lit the league on fire in the first few weeks of the season.

Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports


}
,
{
src: ‘/media/c/e/ce6086d35b1afdd54e0a4dc3e5a853680c96946f/xl/USATSI_10229347.jpg’,
title: ‘There are now two teams in Los Angeles’,
description: ‘

After a season in which the Rams returned to Los Angeles, the Chargers took their talents to the City of Angels. Since neither team is poised to make any noise in the postseason this year, Los Angeles will have some time to figure out which team to dedicate its love to.

Cary Edmondson/USA TODAY Sports


}
,
{
src: ‘/media/c/6/c6a48fa9a20321ae1d1d8dc31c23351ac75f4262/xl/USATSI_10193349.jpg’,
title: ‘Are we on the verge of a running back renaissance? ‘,
description: ‘

Everyone is aware of Ezekiel Elliott leading the league in rushing as a rookie last season, but fellow rookie Jordan Howard was No. 2 in rushing last year. In this year’s draft, Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey were both top 10 picks and expected to have big years for Jacksonville and Carolina, respectively. Running backs had been devalued in recent years, but could they be having a moment?

Reinhold Matay/USA TODAY Sports


}
,
{
src: ‘/media/9/d/9d6ce860f689acae2f80b2221fd901b9d0c54bb5/xl/USATSI_9500471.jpg’,
title: ‘Women in the NFL’,
description: ‘

Last year, Kathryn Smith became the first woman to receive a full-time coaching job in the NFL as the Buffalo Bills quality control coach. This year, Katie Sowers joined the San Francisco 49ers as a full-time assistant coach while doubling as the first openly gay coach in NFL history. Women becoming coaches is the biggest story that no one will talk about.

Timothy T. Ludwig/USA TODAY Sports


}
,
{
src: ‘/media/d/1/d19e9871b5e1a283451a325f9672a9b6c98276fe/xl/USATSI_10213224.jpg’,
title: ‘Is this the year Marvin Lewis is finally let go? ‘,
description: ‘

2016 was the first year since 2010 that the Bengals didn’t make the playoffs after finishing with a 6-9-1 record, and in the postseason, the Bengals are 0-7 with Lewis as the head coach. The team brought back Adam Jones despite even more legal issues and still refuse to spend to improve the team. Maybe a separation might be the best move for both the Bengals and Lewis.

David Kohl/USA TODAY Sports


}
,
{
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title: ‘Is Brock Osweiler done if he can’t win the starting job in Cleveland? ‘,
description: ‘

Brock Osweiler was supposed to be next in Denver after Peyton Manning retired, and then he was expected to be the man in Houston after signing a massive $72 million deal with the Texans. After a year in H-Town, Osweiler has been traded to Cleveland – his third team in as many years. Reports from camp are suggesting that rookie Deshone Kizer might get the nod as starting quarterback. If Osweiler loses this role, will he ever find another starting job?

Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports


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BHA’s judgment again in question during its pursuit of trainer Jim Best | Sport

Police were called in by the British Horseracing Authority to investigate what was imagined to be a suspicious phone call to the jockey Paul John, who was a key BHA witness in a disciplinary hearing at the time. After some investigation by officers of the Devon and Cornwall force, it emerged the caller was a journalist with the Racing Post, seeking comment from the jockey.

The BHA’s seeming over-reaction, recorded in documents seen by the Guardian, did not end there during its troubled and contentious pursuit of the trainer Jim Best last year. The Devon‑based John was to be their sole witness against Best and BHA officials appear to have decided he was therefore at risk, even though its then integrity director, Adam Brickell, noted in one document that no threat had been made.

Sir Paul Stephenson, the former Metropolitan police commissioner and now a BHA board member, approached Shaun Shawyer, the chief constable of Devon and Cornwall, in May last year. The purpose of this was to obtain “a more senior contact” within the force for Paul Beeby, the BHA’s head of investigations. Days later, Beeby spent two hours discussing John’s situation with members of the force, recording that their focus had been “sharpened following Paul Stephenson’s contact”.

In July, Beeby emailed a BHA colleague to report “some suspicious calls to [John’s] mobile phone … from a Dorking, Surrey number. Working with police to i/d it …Dorking is not too far from Best country.”

In fact, Dorking is 40 miles from the Lewes stable where Best had long been based. After a Devon officer provided some background information on the phone number, Beeby realised the prosaic truth was that no one more threatening than a reporter had been trying to get hold of John.

The BHA was asked on Thursday to justify so much effort and expense, including the use of police time, in circumstances where there appears to have been no evidence of danger. “We do not comment on operational matters of this nature,” it said.

The matter is now subject of a complaint against Sawyer and Devon and Cornwall police, made by the Best family and being investigated by the professional standards department at Wiltshire police.

The Bests are especially outraged that formal notices of threat to personal safety were served on them by local police officers before the final BHA hearing in the case during November. These stated that the police had been told “you or associates of yours intend to cause harm to Mr Paul John in order to dissuade or prevent him giving evidence”.

Best had his licence to train suspended for six months after a panel decided he had told John to lose on two horses. That suspension ended in June. Best’s wife, Suzi, has been seeking her own licence to train but has yet to be given a final answer by the BHA.

Meanwhile, opposition to Churchill appears to be thinning out in the buildup to the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on Saturday 9 September. Ulysses, the clear second-favourite and as short as 15-8 with some firms, will not line up and nor will Barney Roy, a general 14-1 shot.

“He’s not going to run in Leopardstown,” said Alan Cooper, the racing manager to the Niarchos family, owners of Ulysses. “Sir Michael [Stoute] planned to give him a break after he won the Juddmonte International and he has since confirmed that. The idea is to go to the Breeders’ Cup. If he were to do that and if Michael feels he should run before then, there’s only one race to go for, which is the Arc. Champions Day at Ascot would be too close to the Breeders’ Cup.”

Richard Hannon, the trainer of Barney Roy, confirmed his colt would go straight to Ascot’s Champion Stakes. The Irish Champion Stakes increasingly looks in the control of Aidan O’Brien, who has Highland Reel and Winter as possible runners as well as Churchill.

Davy Russell, moreover, can expect to learn his fate on Tuesday, the date which has been set for a rehearing of his case by the Irish Turf Club. Russell has admitted hitting his mount before a race at Tramore a fortnight ago and the Turf Club has decided the caution issued to the jockey on Saturday was an “unduly lenient” response.

Friday’s tips, by Chris Cook

Bangor

2.00 Ambre Des Marais 2.35 Saint Contest 3.10 What Happens Now 3.45 Raleagh Mountain 4.15 Ckalco Des Loges 4.50 Gold Class

Sandown

1.40 The Golden Cue 2.10 Our Lord (nap) 2.45 Sam Gold 3.20 La La Land 3.55 Robin Weathers 4.25 Emily Goldfinch 5.00 Previous Angel

Thirsk

1.50 Moxy Mares 2.20 Exhort 2.55 Twentysvnthlancers (nb) 3.30 Noble Behest 4.05 Muntadab 4.40 Mango Chutney 5.10 Golden Guest


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Venezuelan fans in no mood to ‘Play Ball’ amid crisis


CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) For years, Venezuela’s baseball stadiums served as a sporting sanctuary where fans of all classes and political backgrounds set aside their differences to watch some of the nation’s top major league players and forget about their mounting hardships.

But now, as the country’s crisis deepens to unprecedented levels, some are beginning to wonder whether it’s time to at least temporarily hang up the national pastime.

It’s not going to happen.

Vice President Tareck El Aissami put an end to weeks of speculation by announcing Tuesday that the government had taken almost $10 million from the nation’s fast-depleting foreign currency reserves to subsidize the winter league and help teams import foreign players that have been a staple since Pete Rose played for the Caracas Lions in the 1960s.

”The baseball season is guaranteed,” said El Aissami, who added that he was acting on direct orders from President Nicolas Maduro to provide the league with the same level of funding it received last year. ”Let it be a high quality spectacle.”

In the past, such last-minute announcements were a cause of relief among the many hard-core fans of the eight professional teams in Venezuela. But after months of paralyzing protests against Maduro that left more than 120 people dead and hundreds more injured or jailed, few seem in the mood to celebrate.

Former New York Mets and Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Alfredo Pedrigue, who coached the Lions last season, in June called for the season to be scrapped out of respect for Venezuelans who ”gave their life for liberty.” Several other current Venezuelan major leaguers, including Detroit Tigers all-star Miguel Cabrera, have broken their traditional silence about wading into politics back home and criticized the situation in the country in well-publicized videos.

”After so many deaths, and so many shortages of medicine and food, it’s embarrassing that the government says there’s money to play baseball,” 46-year-old Carmen Vargas said as she ironed clothes at her home in Caracas.

Venezuela’s once highly-competitive baseball league has been in decline for years.

Attendance has fallen as triple-digit inflation has raised the price of tickets and beer, and some fans stay home for fear of getting assaulted returning home late from the stadium.

While many Venezuelan players in the U.S. return home for a few games each season, major league teams have shut down all their academies in the country and no longer send as many young prospects to face the pressure of batting and pitching in front of a roaring crowd. Indeed, one of the big questions surrounding this year’s league is whether teams will be able to fill their quota of recruiting up to nine foreign players, which in the past was never an issue.

The best argument for playing ball may have nothing do with the sport at all: preserving jobs.

Reflecting the high levels of political violence and economic turmoil, Venezuela in June lost the right to host the 2018 Caribbean Series baseball tournament bringing together the best winter league teams from Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Mexico.

Jose Herrera, the vice president of Tiburones, or Sharks, from the city of La Guaira outside Caracas, said teams this year are making a super-human effort to make sure the season, which is set to begin in October, isn’t disrupted. He compared the potential loss of baseball to the closure of all the nation’s cinemas, or hair salons – something the country can scarcely afford amid a recession that has seen the economy shrink by more than 35 percent since 2014.

”It’s not easy, there will be lots of sacrifices,” Herrera said in a statement without saying how teams will tighten their belt. ”But we want to fulfill our duty of keeping alive an economic activity on which 5,000 Venezuelan families depend.”


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Report: Angels close to acquiring Justin Upton from Tigers

Is Tigers left fielder Justin Upton set to join the Angels?
Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Tigers have been looking to deal Justin Upton, and it appears they have found a suitor.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported on Thursday that the Tigers are close to a deal that would send Upton to the Los Angeles Angels, who are willing to trade for the outfielder even though he can potentially opt out of his contract after the season.

It’s unclear if Upton plans to opt out of the deal, as he would have to be certain he can sign a contract that is better than the four years and $88.5 million he has remaining. The former No. 1 overall pick is having one of the best seasons of his career with 28 home runs, 94 RBI and an OPS of .904, so opting out is not out of the question.

At least one other team was reportedly interested in Upton, but he doesn’t make much sense for many teams as a potential rental. The Angels are just one game back in the wild card race, so they must feel Upton could give them a boost and help them get to the postseason.


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