Welcome to New England, rookie — no ‘real’ number for you

The methods that have made Bill Belichick one of football’s most successful coaches continue to evolve, and he’s introduced a new one to the mix in 2018: rookies with random, non-permanent jersey numbers in spring practices.

That’s why running back Sony Michel, the first-round pick from Georgia, was wearing No. 51 during Tuesday’s organized team activity.cheap nfl nike jersey

That number is illegal for running backs to wear in games, per NFL rules (numbers 20-49 are allowed), which highlights the point that Belichick is making to his newcomers.

“Really not too worried about all the important stuff like that — numbers and what color gloves you wear and all of that,” Belichick said Tuesday. “That’s not really at the top of the list right now. Trying to learn football, trying to become a team, trying to get better each day — that’s really where our focus is.”311

How Belichick brings the team together to achieve that goal is often notable. In past years, he’s had all players practice without any numbers in the spring, a method that forced them get to know each other better and increase their level of communication. Longtime Pittsburgh Steelers coach Chuck Noll did something similar.

But the NFL since has disallowed that practice, so Belichick, as he often does, has come up with a different type of twist.

Hence the reason rookie quarterback Danny Etling (seventh round, LSU) was wearing a red, noncontact No. 58 jersey at Tuesday’s practice. That wouldn’t be allowed in a game.

“My first-ever football number in school was 28, so that’s the closest I’ve ever got to it,” Etling said of the unusual number.

All draft picks had numbers in the 50s on Tuesday — Nos. 56 (Andre Tippett) and 57 (Steve Nelson) were off limits because they were once owned by Patriots Hall of Famers — while undrafted players had numbers in the 60s and 70s.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

So it was unusual to see Braxton Berrios, the receiver from the University of Miami selected in the sixth round, wearing No. 55.


Frank Reich: Andrew Luck to throw more after June minicamp

The Andrew Luck not-throwing-yet saga has reached the seventh month, but Indianapolis Colts coach Frank Reich says the quarterback will likely ramp up his throwing between the end of mandatory minicamp on June 14 and the start of training camp in late July.

“I would anticipate that,” Reich said Wednesday.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

Luck, according to Reich, is still not throwing a regulation football. He hasn’t thrown a regulation football since the team shut him down and gave him a cortisone shot because of continued soreness in his shoulder in October 2017. The Colts have repeatedly said that they do not plan on skipping any steps in Luck’s rehabilitation process.

Luck has been taking part in the team’s offseason workouts and team meetings since they began in early April. He participated in individual quarterback drills on Wednesday before going inside the facility and later returning to watch team drills.309

“He’s like another coach,” offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni said last week about Luck. “You get around the coaches and you’re able to talk ball with him. Shoot ideas back and forth with him. You’re on the same page because you’re in there grinding all the time together. He picks it up quick. It’s like he’s in there all the time because of how smart he is and how high his football intelligence is. It speeds up the process of learning the offense and getting to know each other and what he likes and what we like. It’s been a great deal so far.”

If Luck does throw between the end of minicamp and the start of training camp, which marks about six weeks later as Reich anticipates, he can throw at the team’s facility under the supervision of the medical staff because it’ll be part of Luck’s rehabilitation program. Members of the coaching staff cannot attend. And if Luck throws to his teammates, he’ll have to do it away from the team’s facility. Luck said last month that he wants to go into training camp without a “governor,” which means he doesn’t want to have any restrictions.

Everybody in the Colts organization — from owner Jim Irsay to Luck — feels confident that their franchise quarterback will play in 2018 after he missed all of last season following his shoulder surgery in January 2017. Reich calmly said he’s “not worried at all” cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale when asked if he had concerns about Luck not throwing yet despite training camp being about two months away.

“I’m completely comfortable with him throwing when he’s ready, when the doctors say he’s ready,” Reich said. “I’ve been around long enough. He’s been around the league a little bit. He’s totally engaged in every aspect of what we’re doing mentally. The physical part for a guy like him, I think you have to work at it, but I’m not worried about that. I’m comfortable with the process that’s in place.”


Expansion Vegas Golden Knights advance to Stanley Cup Final

”Everybody on this team has something to prove,” Ryan Reaves said. ”We call ourselves ‘The Golden Misfits’ for a reason. We’re doing a good job of proving everybody wrong.”

Reaves scored the winning goal, Marc-Andre Fleury made 31 saves and the Golden Knights beat the Winnipeg Jets 2-1 on Sunday to wrap up the Western Conference final in five games.

”It’s insane,” said defenseman Deryk Engelland, who grabbed the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl after the final buzzer to celebrate with his teammates. ”Your goal is always to make the playoffs. But if I were to guess I would be sitting here doing this right now, you would be a little skeptical at the time.”order cheap nfl jerseys

Alex Tuch also scored for the Knights. They lost Game 1 in Winnipeg before winning four straight to become the first expansion team since the 1968 St. Louis Blues – when the six initial expansion teams were put alone in the West – to get to the final.

”It was their time,” Winnipeg captain Blake Wheeler said. ”They’re just playing really well.”298

Vegas will meet Tampa Bay or Washington in the final. Tampa Bay leads the Eastern final 3-2, with Game 6 set for Monday night in Washington.

The Knights, whose jaw-dropping inaugural 109-point campaign included a Pacific Division crown, swept Los Angeles in the first round, and knocked out San Jose in six games in the second.

”All those records and everything, it doesn’t mean anything if you’re not the last team standing,” Vegas center Jonathan Marchessault said. ”I think we have a lot of gas left.”

Josh Morrissey scored for the Jets, and Connor Hellebuyck made 30 saves.

”It’s very difficult to find that positive feeling at this moment,” Jets coach Paul Maurice said.

Reaves, the bruising Winnipeg native acquired from Pittsburgh before to the trade deadline in February, snapped a 1-1 tie with 6:39 left in the second period when he tipped Luca Sbisa’s point shot past Hellebuyck. Reeves last goal before Sunday came 3 1/2 months ago while with Pittsburgh.wholesale nfl jerseys supply

”The guys that weren’t playing, myself included, we stayed ready,” Reaves said. ”We had fun while we were doing it, but we worked hard so when we were called upon we were ready to go.”

Fleury stopped 151 of 161 shots in the series, and allowed just six goals the rest of the way after giving up four in the opener.


Stanley Cup-bound Vegas turning impossible into possible

Those words have been projected onto the ice in big, bold letters at T-Mobile Arena before each game during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Well, the Vegas Golden Knights are turning impossible into possible.

The stunningly successful expansion squad is headed to the Stanley Cup Final after beating the Winnipeg Jets 2-1 on Sunday to win the Western Conference final series in five games.

”I remember eight months ago, when we won against Dallas (in the season opener), we had that unbelievable feeling,” Vegas center Pierre-Edouard Bellemare said. ”Doesn’t feel like we’re satisfied. It’s a good feeling when you know the guys are excited for the next one.”where to buy official nfl jerseys

The Golden Knights are the third franchise in NHL history to clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Final in its inaugural season, joining the Toronto Arenas in 1918 in the league’s early days, and St. Louis Blues in 1968, when all six expansion teams were in the same division and one of them had to make the final round.297

Vegas will play either Tampa Bay or Washington on hockey’s biggest stage. The Lightning lead the Eastern Conference final 3-2, but the Capitals host Game 6 on Monday night.

”Either way, we’re not going to be favorites,” said Jonathan Marchessault, who leads Vegas with 18 points in the postseason. ”That’s been the case all year. Tampa has been the best team all year. Washington, (they’re) playing great hockey right now. Either way, we’re not going to be favorites, and that’s fine with us. We went all year like that and we’re going to keep going.”

Hence, ”The Golden Misfits” tag.

Nobody could have scripted Vegas, a 500-1 long shot at the start of the season, making the playoffs – let alone earning a shot at Lord Stanley’s Cup.

But the Golden Knights, who finished fifth in the league during the regular season, just knocked off the No. 2 team in the regular season in Winnipeg, which in the conference semifinals knocked off the No. 1 team in the regular season, Nashville.order cheap nfl jerseys

Vegas clinched all three of its Western Conference series on the road, becoming the seventh team in NHL history to accomplish such a feat.


Arsenal’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan looking for ‘new ideas, spirit’ from Unai Emery

Henrikh Mkhitaryan hopes new Arsenal head coach Unai Emery will bring some fresh “tactical ideas and spirit” to the club.

Spaniard Emery has succeeded Arsene Wenger, who was manager for 22 years, and set out his positive vision for the future when speaking at a news conference on Wednesday afternoon.

Attacking midfielder Mkhitaryan joined the Gunners from Manchester United in January as part of the deal which saw Alexis Sanchez head to Old Trafford.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

The Armenia international feels Emery, who left Paris St Germain at the end of the season having won the French domestic treble, can make a real impact at the Emirates Stadium.

“I still haven’t had an opportunity to meet him. We didn’t have time to talk with each other. I hope he will bring new tactical ideas and spirit to Arsenal, and I hope he will succeed,” Mkhitaryan said in an interview with VivaroNews Sport.286

“I haven’t talked to my teammates about him. I would like to meet him.

“Everyone at the club is a professional. Everyone knows what he should do and what he is expected to do.”

Mkhitaryan admits it will be a different club he heads back to for the start of preseason training, with Wenger having been in charge for so long.

“Not only the players, but the staff overall were sad. It’s not that easy to handle the exit of a man who was managing the team for 22 years,” he added.

“You can’t imagine how everyone was amazed with the atmosphere he had created. If he decided to stay for 10 more years, no one would have been against [it].”

Mkhitaryan feels Emery’s Arsenal must target a swift return to the elite of European football.cheap nike nfl jerseys paypal

“Our priority [last season] was qualification for Champions League, but unfortunately we didn’t manage that,” he said.

“We wanted to do it and we fought for it, but everything can happen in football, so we should focus on next season and return to the Champions League in two years.”


Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny thought Diego Costa ended World Cup dream

Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny says he initially thought the injury that will keep him out of this summer’s World Cup came from a Diego Costa tackle.

France defender Koscielny, 32, ruptured his Achilles’ tendon during the Gunners’ away defeat to Atletico Madrid in their Europa League semifinal second leg at the start of May.

“When I fell, I thought it was because [Diego] Costa had tackled me,” Koscielny told the French Football Federation (FFF) website.nfl nike jerseys for cheap

“But not at all. I looked around me and I was all alone. I immediately knew that my tendon had gone. The pain wasn’t normal — I felt a terrible rupture. And I heard a big ‘splash’ — a huge crack. Costa, who wasn’t far from me, heard it too.285

“My first reaction was to say: ‘It’s done — my tendon has snapped.’ I was screaming on the pitch. I remember hitting my hand on the ground several times. It was an atrocious pain.

“At that exact moment, I knew that it would be at least six months before I could play again.”

Having undergone ankle surgery, Koscielny predicts it will be five months until he kicks a ball again, but says he still hopes to play for the first team by November.

“Now that I’m 32 years old, my career is more behind me than in front of me,” he added.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

“I don’t have the pressure of having to come back as quickly as possible — of proving myself like a 20-year-old would have to after such an injury.

“It’s my first big injury. That’s the way it is. You have to have put it into perspective. Yes, I’m missing a World Cup with a good bunch of mates and great players. But there’s worse in life. I’m in good health and my family are too.”


Phillies top Braves as NL East upstarts meet in early-season showdown

The Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves left spring training with the label of fashionable young teams on the upswing, but it was hard to know precisely how that improvement might translate in the standings. Realistically, this season was supposed to be about patience, continued development and taking the steps necessary to try to supplant the (potentially) post-Bryce Harper Washington Nationals at the top of the National League East in 2019.replica nike nfl jerseys

Seven weeks into the season, the two clubs are pushing their timetables — and their meetings have taken on a greater import than anyone might have predicted in March.

The Braves entered the opener of a three-game series Monday night with a 28-17 record and a 1?-game lead in the division. The Phillies carved that to a half-game with a 3-0 victory. A garden-variety crowd of 21,284 was on hand to see it. But if you looked closely enough, you saw two teams that are enjoying being relevant again.


“It makes your heart beat a little faster in the dugout,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. “As a fan of baseball, it’s nice to see two teams with really rich history and amazing fans and a rich history of winning compete for first place in the National League East. I’m a baseball fan at heart, and thinking about that gives me goosebumps.”

It certainly has been a while. Monday’s game marked the first time since September 2011 that the Phillies have played a divisional opponent at Citizens Bank Park with both teams at least eight games over .500. Coincidentally, Atlanta was the opponent seven years ago. For sake of reference, the pitching matchups in that series consisted of Cliff Lee vs. Derek Lowe, Vance Worley vs. Tim Hudson and Roy Oswalt vs. Brandon Beachy.cheap nfl jerseys wholesale

The Phillies eventually rode the Chase Utley-Ryan Howard-Jimmy Rollins train past its optimal destination point. Chipper Jones, Jason Heyward and Brian McCann moved on from Atlanta, and the past few years have brought a steady run of losing in both cities. The Phillies began a streak of five straight sub-.500 seasons in 2013, and the Braves logged an aggregate 286-361 record while sending Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, Bobby Cox, John Smoltz and John Schuerholz to the Hall of Fame from 2014 to 2017. Jones will join them in Cooperstown in July.


Paul Goldschmidt’s season-long slump should be cause for concern

First off, apologies to the Milwaukee Brewers. They beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-2 with three home runs off Zack Greinke and Corey Knebel recorded his first save since March 30. They’re in first place in the NL Central and deserve credit for sitting 10 games over .500 even though their lineup has been extremely mediocre. The bullpen, however, has not, and it’s only strengthened if Knebel resumes the closer role, where to buy nfl jerseys cheap freeing up Josh Hader for those multi-inning stints as needed.

What most intrigues from this game, however, is yet another oh-fer for Paul Goldschmidt. He’s down to .201/.322/.361 and he looks broken right now. We’re now talking about 199 plate appearances with no improvement in sight. An Arizona Republic story on April talked about his slow start. Greg Moore’s column in the Republic on May 9 was headlined “Diamondbacks aren’t worried — slumping Paul Goldschmidt is going to be fine.”273

You can make the argument that right now Goldschmidt is the most important player in baseball. He’s supposed to be the superstar anchor to a lineup that would have some concerns even if he were producing. A.J. Pollock was crushing it until he landed on the DL. Jake Lamb just returned from spending most of the season on the DL. Steven Souza Jr. has barely played. The catchers haven’t hit a lick, middle infielders Ketel Marte and Nick Ahmed don’t give you much offense and reserves Jarrod Dyson and Chris Owings haven’t done anything.

As a team, the Diamondbacks are hitting .217. Only the Marlins have scored fewer runs per game.

He has been good on the road, not so good at home. Maybe the humidor is in his head — those fly balls that used to sneak over the fence are now getting caught. We also need to be aware of small sample sizes here. Goldschmidt doesn’t say much, but in the column from May 9 his explanation was, “It’s just part of the game.” Still, he has hit one home run in his past 32 games and is hitting .183 in that span. And he leads the NL in strikeouts.where can i buy nfl jerseys cheap

I don’t think it’s just the humidor. Even on the road, his strikeout rate has increased from 22.3 percent in 2017 to 30.0 percent and his walk rate has declined from 11.3 percent to 6.7 percent. Buster Olney alluded to a big issue in a recent column about hitters struggling with big-time fastballs: “Through Friday’s games, the Diamondbacks’ first baseman had seen 77 pitches of 96 mph or faster without logging a hit, the most in the majors.”


Harden carries early, CP3 leads late as Rockets withstand frenetic Warriors

Finally, the basketball world got to witness the kind of classic it has been waiting all season to see in the highly anticipated Western Conference finals.

After the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets alternated double-digit wins in the first three games, with the margin of victory soaring each time, Game 4 went down to the wire. The teams will head back to Houston with the series tied after the Rockets scrapped their way to a 95-92 comeback win to stun the sellout Oracle Arena crowd and end the Warriors’ 16-game postseason win streak in Oakland.nike nfl jerseys for sale

The fourth quarter was far from the beautiful basketball expected from two of the best offensive teams in the history of the game. It was more like the 15th round of a fight between heavyweights gassed from throwing haymakers at each other all night.260

The Warriors, a potential dynasty featuring three of the NBA’s premier scorers, managed to score a grand total of 12 points in the final frame. It ended with Stephen Curry, arguably the best shooter ever, missing a good look at a 3-pointer — a shot he failed to get off before the buzzer sounded, anyway.

It was a shocking dud down the stretch for the Warriors, particularly Curry, who was 1-of-8 from the floor in the final frame after carrying Golden State in the third quarter.

That Curry scoring flurry started with a wide-open 29-footer from the left wing midway through the third quarter. He swished a lead-changing, step-back 3 over Clint Capela on the Warriors’ next possession, with the Oracle Arena crowd buzzing throughout the dazzling dribbling display and roaring when the ball splashed through the net. Draymond Green passed up an open look to feed Curry for a corner 3 the next trip. Then Curry sliced through the Rockets’ dizzied defense for a finger roll.

Just like that, the Warriors’ point guard uncorked 11 points in the span of 96 seconds. Curry had 17 in the quarter, matching the Rockets’ total and falling one point shy of his slump-busting, sizzling Game 3 third quarter. As a result, Golden State held a double-digit lead, seemingly putting Houston on the canvas. But the Rockets’ defense, which general manager Daryl Morey made a priority over the summer, came through.cheap official nfl jerseys

It wasn’t the first time in this game that Houston needed to rely on its defense, as the Rockets proved they could fight back after an awful first five minutes. It took 5:18 for Houston’s historically high-powered offense to put any points on the board, as the defending champion Warriors roared out of the gates with a 12-0 run while the Rockets sputtered to eight shots and a couple of turnovers in their first 10 possessions.


Kevin Durant, Warriors turn page to Game 5 after frustrating finish

Kevin Durant said, “I wish I had that last play back,” referring to the Golden State Warriors’ final transition possession with less than 12 seconds remaining in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals on Tuesday.

The Houston Rockets were up by two points when Draymond Green pulled down a defensive board to initiate the break. He passed it to Durant, who dribbled the ball up the court. Instead of taking a shot, Durant found a cutting Klay Thompson along the baseline.nfl jerseys authentic cheap

Trevor Ariza closed hard on Thompson, forcing Thompson to put the ball on the floor before firing up an ill-advised turnaround air ball. Durant was seen demanding a kickout, and with 5 seconds on the clock, Green was calling for a timeout that went unnoticed by the officials.259

“I raced it down. I was trying to see if I had some options. I saw Klay running along the baseline and maybe should have waited until he set his feet, but I just threw a bounce pass and tried to relocate for it,” he explained. “But, man, that’s not the reason we lost the game. I wish it could have been a better possession at the end, but, you know, we’ve got to live with that and move on and be better next game.”

Stephen Curry (39), Thompson (39), Durant (43) and Green (45) all played 39 or more minutes. Andre Iguodala was sidelined with a left leg contusion. The Warriors outscored the Rockets 34-17 in the third quarter, but due to an even further shortened rotation without Iguodala, Kerr said fatigue played a factor down the stretch.

“It’s the Western Conference finals,” Green said. “When you’re battling getting to the Finals, no one is worried about fatigue. We’re just trying to do what you got to do to win the game.”

Thompson suffered a knee contusion in the second quarter after he banged it on the hardwood. He headed to the locker room for treatment, then re-entered the game soon after. Team officials said his injury is of no concern moving forward.

“It’s sore, but it’s early,” Thompson said. “I’m anticipating feeling much better tomorrow.”

The Warriors dropped a golden opportunity to end the series in Houston on Thursday, but the locker room was surprisingly in good spirits following Tuesday’s contest. Durant told ESPN they “just have to get another one” on the road.nike nfl jerseys for sale

As a team, the Warriors expressed disappointment in not sustaining a high level of play rather than focusing on one possession. Durant said that’s what they need to fix going into Game 5.

“It’s the whole game that we’ve got to get better at, especially in the fourth,” he said. “I think going up 10 going into the fourth, it was a good opportunity for us to kind of take control, and we didn’t. So I definitely wish I had that last play back. So I’m going to watch film and see what my options were and just hopefully if I’m in that position again I’ll be better.”