Rams left tackle Greg Robinson lets defensive ends get past him faster than someone can finish sneezing

Montero has slowly seen his career transition from being a starting catcher to a backup — eventually becoming pitcher Jake Arrieta¡¯s primary receiver last season. But when Maddon turned to rookie Willson Contreras to catch Arrieta in the playoffs, Montero bristled at the lack of communication.
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Womens Brian Robison Jersey Both parties say that¡¯s now in the past, and they got together to do more than just hash it out and break bread.

¡°It was about [the] present and the future,¡± Maddon said.

Montero, 33, is accepting his role as Contreras¡¯ backup this year, probably his last as a Cub. While Montero’s contract will bring him $14 million in 2017, he wants to continue playing baseball beyond this season. He also doesn¡¯t want to be known as a clubhouse cancer. He told Maddon he¡¯s willing to do whatever the manager asks.

¡°I got a lot off my chest because I care so much for the game,¡± Montero said. ¡°I care so much for the team, whatever it takes for me to help. If Wilson needs a break and [Clayton] Kershaw is pitching for the other team, put me in. That¡¯s my job. I accept it.¡±

But that second overall pick is appealing, and adding Hyde to the backfield with Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman would easily give Atlanta the best running back trio in football, which will take some of the pressure off of rookie Deshaun Watson, who will obviously be drafted by the Falcons with the pick they get from the Niners. Watson used to be a ball boy for the Falcons, so bringing him home makes perfect sense.

Let¡¯s face it. Rams left tackle Greg Robinson lets defensive ends get past him faster than someone can finish sneezing. His play has been cringeworthy since the Rams drafted him in 2014. The 24-year-old is a liability on the offensive line, and he has been penalized 31 times in two seasons, which is the most by any player during that timespan.

Dan Quinn could reunite with Dante Fowler with the Atlanta Falcons

INDIANAPOLIS — It¡¯s clear leading up to the 2016 NFL Draft that the Atlanta Falcons need players who can pressure the quarterback. Last season Atlanta finished 30th in the league in sacks, with just 22, ahead of only Oakland and Cincinnati. No player had more sacks on the team than Kroy Biermann with 4.5.

It just so happens that new Falcons head coach Dan Quinn has a close relationship with one of the draft¡¯s best pressure players.

While he was a coach at the University of Florida in 2010 and 2011, Quinn helped recruited Dante Fowler Jr. Widely regarded as one of the draft¡¯s three-best pass rushers, no one in the NFL should have a better understanding of what Fowler can do and how he projects going forward. In a sense, the recruiting process at Florida forced that on Quinn.

“One of the fun parts, whether if it¡¯s recruiting or going through the draft process, when you look at player and look at what that vision is of what that player can become,” Quinn said. “Sometimes, the player doesn¡¯t even know that. How good you can become? They don¡¯t even know. So, it¡¯s our job to pull it out of them or draw it out of them.”

Authentic Kids Luca Sbisa Jersey What was drawn out of Fowler is a potential top-five pick in the draft. He turned into an all-conference player by SEC coaches and finished his career with three sacks in Florida¡¯s bowl game against East Carolina.

Aside from the positional skill drills, the prospects are measured and timed in several different tests: 40-yard dash, vertical leap, broad jump, 3-cone drill and shuttle drill. Although Friday’s position groups for the on-field workouts are not the most entertaining, it’s still always fun to watch large men in hi-tech workout gear running the 40 and showing off their pancake blocks.

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The Dodgers have won four straight division titles

One advantage about the run-scoring gap the Red Sox enjoyed over the rest of the league is that it allowed them to improve in multiple ways and not worry about overcommitting resources in a futile attempt to replace Ortiz’s missing 1.021 OPS.

Blessed with a ripe and plentiful farm system, Dombrowski landed one of the game’s best pitchers in Chris Sale to team with David Price and 2016 AL Cy Young winner Rick Porcello. That, in itself, should make the Sox an even more formidable postseason team come October. Toss in Drew Pomeranz and Steven Wright, and Boston has one of the five-best on-paper rotations in the game.

Dombrowski made a similarly bold but less ballyhooed move in sending out 3B Travis Shaw to Milwaukee for emergent setup man Tyler Thornburg.

As for replacing Ortiz, free-agent addition Mitch Moreland is at least a major defensive upgrade at first base. Hanley Ramirez will DH for the most part now, though John Farrell can mix and match a little more than he would have with Ortiz.
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Think of the pitcher across town, Clayton Kershaw, a man who clearly has reached a pinnacle of excellence few pitchers have achieved. Yet we wonder as he has missed a little time with injuries two of the past three seasons: How much longer can he be so much better than everyone else? And why doesn’t he dominate in the postseason like he does in the regular season? His accomplishments are so prodigious that we recoil in anguish when he proves mortal in October — 4.55 career ERA in the playoffs — but maybe that only means his story has yet to write the final chapter, with World Series glory to be told, when history turns into mythology.
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The Dodgers have won four straight division titles. They also haven’t advanced past the NLCS, and with the sport’s highest payroll, anything but a World Series title is almost a disappointment. This Dodgers team, however, appears stronger than the previous four.

Heartbreak and elation at the Westminster dog show

NEW YORK — Michael drove all the way from Alabama for this. Well, technically, Brandi Murray, the woman in a pearl-colored, sequined skirt suit running a hairbrush over Michael’s back drove him. Michael can’t drive, because Michael is a dog, and dogs don’t have opposable thumbs, which makes gripping a steering wheel difficult.

But Murray was more than happy to be the Finnish Lapphund’s chauffeur, because Michael’s big moment at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show in New York City on Monday was also Murray’s big moment: As his handler, she always has a vested interest in how brightly he shines.

So Murray brushed Michael near his little dog cubby, in the cavernous space of Pier 94 in Chelsea, as though he were a junior getting ready to go prom with a senior. She fussed over his tail, wondering out loud why it wasn’t standing up, then realized if she and Michael didn’t head over to Ring 7 immediately, they’d be late for the competition in which Michael had to prove to a judge that he was the most beautiful of all the Finnish Lapphunds.

The two of them took off, half-jogging over to the wide open expanse of green carpet where canine dreams of greatness either come true or shatter into a million pieces like a crushed-up dog bone.

Izzo’s biggest beef seems to be with Dakich’s insinuation that Michigan State people are only Michigan State people because they couldn’t get into Michigan. That’s not a nice thing to say, but it’s also a dig that’s been made probably thousands of times before. That Dakich has a vested interest in Michigan compounds the issue.

As Johnson joins the Lakers, what changes for the franchise?

THE CALL CAME in from a number Magic Johnson didn’t recognize, so he sent it to voicemail. He’d been in meetings all morning with his new, old team. In the first few hours since the team announced Magic had been hired as a special advisor to Lakers co-owner Jeanie Buss, he’d met with her, the younger Buss brothers, Joey and Jesse, general manager Mitch Kupchak and dozens of team staffers.

Magic’s phone had been buzzing the whole time. But the point of this day was to show up at the Lakers offices and be present, let everyone see him again and start wrapping his head around the monumental job of resurrecting the franchise he’d led to glory as a player. Besides, most of the calls were congratulations from friends and old teammates — the sort of short, pithy “way to go” texts and voicemails that can be answered or acknowledged in a few days.

But after Magic listened to this particular voicemail, he knew it demanded a quick reply. It was Lakers co-owner and executive vice president of basketball operations Jim Buss, and he wanted to know the same thing the rest of the basketball world did: What’s next?
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What’s next for Buss, mentored and authorized by his late father, longtime Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss, to run basketball operations? What’s next for Kupchak, the Lakers’ day-to-day decision-maker since 2000?

And what’s next for Magic? Was he there to advise Jeanie? Or to start running the organization like he once ran a fast break?
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Rockets GM Daryl Morey is noted for trades, small and large. He made one during last season’s 41-41 season and another two years ago when the team reached the Western Conference finals.

According to sources, the Rockets expressed interest in acquiring another shooter and were in serious discussions with Cleveland for a Mike Dunleavy Jr. deal which would have included K.J. McDaniels but pulled out. Dunleavy Jr. was later traded to Atlanta.

Garcon has been the more impactful player on the field

Elite Kids Pete Maravich Jersey Re-sign Chris Baker. While he isn’t the biggest name on Washington’s defense, Baker proved to be an effective 3-4 defensive end for Joe Barry before Jay Gruden fired his defensive coordinator in January. Washington should stay in a similar scheme under promoted replacement Greg Manusky, and it has precious little at defensive end besides Baker, who will turn 30 in October.

A former undrafted free agent, Baker was a bargain on the three-year, $9 million deal he signed before the 2014 season, but he will deservedly seek a much larger extension after recording 27 knockdowns over the past two seasons. After Cousins, Baker should be Washington’s top priority.

Bring back Pierre Garcon. As much as it seems like Washington might want to consider bringing back Jackson, Garcon has been the more impactful player on the field. Since Cousins took over as the full-time starter at the beginning of the 2015 season, he has a 101.6 passer rating with Jackson on the field and a 95.8 passer rating with Jackson either inactive or on the sideline. His QBR is virtually identical: 75.1 with Jackson around, 73.9 with Jackson out.

Elite Casey Hayward Jersey It’s a smaller sample, but there has been a much more notable difference with Garcon missing. Cousins has posted a 102.4 passer rating and 75.9 QBR with Garcon on the field. In 176 dropbacks without Garcon, Cousins’ passer rating has dropped to 81.7 and his QBR to 65.5. Garcon is probably on the downside of his career and turns 31 in August, but he’s still useful enough to justify keeping around for two more seasons.

“I’m inclined to place a bit more weight on this feedback because the Hall of Fame belongs to them, not to me or any of the 45 other media members who comprise the group of selectors,” Carucci said.

Only two Hall of Famers voted on the slate of candidates this year, and they fall on opposite sides of the argument.

Boston Bruins shield themselves from blame by firing Claude Julien

Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney faced the heat from the local press on Tuesday after firing Claude Julien, and painted a picture of a franchise¡¯s vision and a coach¡¯s vision not in alignment.

What were those visions? Sweeney wasn¡¯t entirely clear. But he and interim coach Bruce Cassidy were clear about their intentions: to change the philosophy and style of the Bruins in the middle of the season and with the playoffs within their grasp.

Limited Youth Lorenzo Taliaferro Jersey It¡¯s an ambitious plan, and one that leaves the spotlight squarely on Sweeney¡¯s management decisions now.

¡°This is an opportunity for a new set of eyes to come in, a new voice for our players to start to hear,¡± Sweeney said. ¡°And hopefully their ears perked up.”
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By the end of his Nashville career, Trotz ended up taking the Predators to seven playoffs during his 15-year coaching tenure.

The Minnesota Wild also proved successful with their hire of Jacques Lemaire. The former Devils head coach was the best of the bunch, as Lemaire led New Jersey to a Stanley Cup just five years prior. Not only was Lemaire the best option, he may have been the only option, as Minnesota general manager Doug Risebrough played with Lemaire during their playing days together in Montreal.

Lemaire coached eight seasons behind the Wild bench, but made it to the playoffs only three times.

One can give him excuses such as his younger age of 22, or the fact that he has averaged only 8:24 of ice time per game this season. But even so, he hasn¡¯t done anything positive when he is on the ice. You can see he ¡°tries¡± hard when he is out there, but that doesn¡¯t matter considering he has a measly one assist in 29 games and is 615th out of 618 skaters in corsi at 39.5%.

The Patriots just pinned Atlanta deep on that kickoff

Elite Marcell Ozuna Jersey Everyone in the press box reacted to that pass assuming that it was about to be intercepted, until the Pats started rallying around. Completely absurd, obviously, but as soon as the replay came up, it was obvious this was an Antonio Freeman catch.

Tom Brady has six career fourth-quarter comebacks in the postseason, which is already the all-time record. Will he add a seventh here?

The Patriots just pinned Atlanta deep on that kickoff (though the Falcons, as I write, escaped easily). With kicks now coming out to the 25 this season, the kickers with the best average kickoff results (including Gostkowski) are now doing better than if they got a touchback every time:

We don¡¯t have the exact number for this game, but the lowest average win probability for an eventual Super Bowl winner was 38 percent, for Baltimore against Dallas in Super Bowl V. If the Patriots complete their comeback tonight, I have a feeling that mark will be shattered:

Elite Brandon Marshall Jersey Same story, different year: The Bills closed as 10.5-point underdogs, the largest point spread of their four Super Bowl appearances. Buffalo actually led 13-6 at halftime, but the Cowboys outscored the Bills 24-0 in the second half. The Bills and the Vikings are the only teams in Super Bowl history to go 0-4 against the spread.

This was the only one of Buffalo’s four Super Bowls in which the line moved in the Bills’ direction. Buffalo opened as a seven-point underdog before closing at 6.5. But once again, the Bills were crushed, as Dallas went over the 44.5-point total itself.

Whether or not tailback Adrian Peterson returns, the Vikings must find another featured runner. It’s possible they’ll need as many as four new starting offensive linemen. Also, Minnesota won’t have a first-round pick to jump-start the process, as it gave it up to acquire Bradford last summer.

The last time Tony Romo played a full season without missing a game was in 2012

Top veteran quarterbacks don’t come available very often. The last one was in 2012, when Peyton Manning left the Indianapolis Colts for the Denver Broncos.

When one does hit the market, every team that even thinks it might have a need at quarterback has to at least investigate.

The last time Tony Romo played a full season without missing a game was in 2012.

That’s why this year, with the Dallas Cowboys dangling Tony Romo, the Kansas City Chiefs need to weigh the risks and rewards of making the move against those of keeping the status quo.

It won’t be an easy decision, mainly because Romo has much wear and tear on a body that turns 37 in April. He hasn’t played a full season since 2014, and anyone who says he can survive one in 2017 is just guessing.

“It’s hard to say,” Berdych said, “but definitely it was very impressive. I was not so surprised. He knows what he’s doing. If he wasn’t able to compete on the highest level, he wouldn’t be here.”

The entire match ran exactly 90 minutes — the fifth-shortest full-term match so far this fortnight. On Thursday, the now-departed Novak Djokovic and Denis Istomin played an 85-minute first set.

“I had no expectations, really,” Federer said. “Things were going well in practice, but I’ve never been the practice king. I was winning tons of sets, but I wasn’t sure that was a good thing or not.”

While Federer looked a tad sluggish in his first two matches, with a balky backhand and a tentative serve, he was unnaturally smooth against Berdych. There were classic half-volleys, a gorgeous drop shot and that classic backhand down the line. Oh, and he moved with that old cat-like quickness, too.

they’ve been resting at home since Thursday night’s drubbing of Detroit

As the Warriors brace for the challenging week ahead, they’ve been resting at home since Thursday night’s drubbing of Detroit. That game featured Golden State’s ninth 40-point quarter of the season, including two in one game against the Lakers. Golden State is now 8-0 when it posts 40-plus points in a single quarter, 12-0 when it totals 25 or more fast-break points, 13-0 when Draymond Green has at least 10 assists, 13-0 when Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson all score at least 20 points, and 17-0 when it sinks at least 13 3-pointers as a team. As for all of the schedule talk, no one is even thinking about Sunday’s visit to Orlando, a game that will be plenty tricky in itself thanks to a dreaded noon ET tipoff for the West Coasters.
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Jared Crick Game Jersey Derrick Rose obviously isn’t wrong when he points to the Knicks’ defense as a key culprit in their 2-10 slide. When we dared to check Sunday morning, New York was 25th in defensive efficiency, 29th in points off turnovers (14.0 PPG), 25th in deflections and 28th in charges taken. The problem here is that the Knicks are two points worse per 100 possessions with Rose on the floor than when he sits … as well as the fact you have to question why he’s the one trying to deliver big messages and/or challenges to his coach in the media when he couldn’t bring himself to text a soul in the organization last Monday when he disappeared for 24 hours on a game day. To the surprise of pretty much no one, these Knicks have used up all the goodwill engendered by their 14-10 start and have devolved into the usual daily soap opera Gothamites have come to expect. And now it’s Melo in the crosshairs.?

The Jazz were 0-9 this season after falling behind by at least 15 points before Saturday night, when the Magic squandered a seemingly healthy cushion in the SLC to waste one of the best games we’ve seen from Elfrid Payton (28 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists) and squelch any momentum that might have started to percolate after Nikola Vucevic (30 points) returned to the starting lineup to spark an unexpected triumph in Portland. With Evan Fournier ailing anew and playoff hope realistically slipping away in Year 1 under Frank Vogel, we await the trade or two most rival teams expect Orlando to make to unclog its frontcourt logjam.