12

Michael Bennett’s arrival shouldn’t close door on Trey Flowers

Defensive end Michael Bennett is in, so does that mean Trey Flowers is out?

This was one of the first, and most obvious, questions that resulted from the New England Patriots’ agreement with the Philadelphia Eagles on Friday to acquire Bennett and a seventh-round pick in exchange for a fifth-round pick.

Bennett’s arrival shouldn’t automatically close the door on Flowers’ return — it’s more likely to affect Adrian Clayborn’s return for a second season — as it’s a trade the Patriots would have made regardless of Flowers’ free-agent status.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

The 6-foot-2, 265-pound Flowers has proven to be a versatile chess piece along the line of scrimmage in the Patriots’ multiple scheme, aligning everywhere from outside the tackle to over the center. Off the field, he would be a leading candidate to be a team captain if he returns in 2019.12

The 6-foot-4, 274-pound Bennett might be able to do some of the same things as Flowers, but it’s notable that most defenses he has been part of over his 10-year career have played a notably different style. The Buccaneers, Seahawks and Eagles have primarily been 4-3 units, and seldom altered their looks — or what techniques they asked their linemen to execute — as frequently as New England does.

Because of this, many defensive linemen who play in New England have relayed that it takes a certain selflessness to thrive in the scheme.

Flowers has proven to be an ideal fit, and that’s why it’s hard to imagine the Patriots simply letting him walk out the door without an earnest attempt to retain him. The team still has the salary-cap space to do so after acquiring Bennett, while also leaving itself room to make other necessary moves.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

But should Flowers’ market expand to a point that the Patriots aren’t comfortable going — similar to what unfolded last offseason with offensive tackle Nate Solder and the New York Giants — Bennett’s arrival would at least soften the blow.

11

Olivier Vernon trade signals another Giants move is coming

The Giants were toeing the line with Vernon. He had a big contract (counting $19.5 million against the salary cap this season) and an injury history in recent years. But he was still the team’s best pass-rusher, by a wide margin. The plan, according to a source close to the team, was to move Vernon only if they could find a suitable replacement.

That would indicate something is in the works either via free agency or trade. Vernon is gone, and now we’re left to wait for the other shoe to drop.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

One intriguing name on the trade market that would fill their desire to replace Vernon with a top pass-rusher is Kansas City’s Dee Ford. He is probably a better fit in the Giants’ 3-4 defense than the 4-3 defense Steve Spagnuolo is bringing to the Chiefs.

In free agency, there are players such as Baltimore’s Za’Darius Smith and Washington’s Preston Smith near the top of the list. Za’Darius Smith had 8.5 sacks in 2018 and would be a natural fit with the Giants. Markus Golden, with his familiarity with Giants coordinator James Bettcher’s defense, is also a strong possibility.11

As currently constituted, the Giants’ cupboard is bare. Vernon will officially be traded next week and Connor Barwin was released last month. That leaves Lorenzo Carter, Kareem Martin and Avery Moss as the team’s only edge rushers. Carter flashed some promise as a rookie and Martin isn’t known for his pass-rushing skills. Moss spent the season on the practice squad.

The Giants can’t wait until the draft to address these gaping holes, no matter how strong and deep it is in pass-rushers. They are going to make a significant move either via trade or free agency in the next week or so.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

Legal tampering begins on Monday. Teams can officially start signing players at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday.

The trade for Vernon makes sense for both parties. The Browns upgraded on the edge and the Giants added a right guard. Jamon Brown filled in admirably at that spot in the second half of the season, but Zeitler is at a different level.

12

With Bundesliga at stake, Dortmund might be supporting Bayern in Champions League·

On Feb. 18, diners at an exclusive Italian restaurant on Liverpool’s Castle Street were disturbed by cries of joy. The club bosses of Bayern Munich, in town for the following night’s Champions League tie with Liverpool, had just received news of Borussia Dortmund’s score: 0-0 away to bottom side 1. FC Nurnberg.

The Bayern board’s laughter and jubilant shouts showed that they regarded their rivals’ meek draw as a big win for themselves. The deficit was now only three points. The championship, all but gone when Dortmund had opened up a nine-point lead before the week before Christmas, was very much back on.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Disappointment over a lack of clear direction has not gone away but seems less of an issue now the team is more settled and balanced, courtesy of in-form Javier Martinez at the heart of midfield. Bayern are increasingly able to find workable solutions in attack, too.12

Right on cue, last Saturday’s 5-1 demolition of (an admittedly awful) Borussia Monchengladbach was a demonstration of supreme confidence and unprecedented fluidity in attack. Bayern are clearly enjoying the rush that comes from hunting down their prey, step-by-step, week after week, in contrast to the boredom of walking away with it for six successive years. “It’s a more emotional season,” executive chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said last week.

Germany manager Joachim Low has also unwittingly helped to raise the temperature. His surprising move to end the international careers of Thomas Muller, Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels this week has hurt the trio’s pride and made them even more determined to prove that they’ve been written off prematurely.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

Bayern are still on course for their worst points tally of the decade, but Dortmund allowing them back into the title race with a series of poor results has been met with a typically steely resolve. For the next nine weeks at least, they will pull together to ensure it is they who will be celebrating at a fancy restaurant after the last ball has been kicked.

But in Dortmund, they have nice Italian restaurants too. There’s one very close to the Signal Iduna stadium that BVB players love to frequent, and its VIP area could yet witness a party come the last day of the season on May 18.

Despite having their lead chipped away, the club have become a little more optimistic following the 1-0 defeat by Tottenham in Champions League that they can stay the course. “German champions: only BVB,” the supporters on the “Yellow Wall” south stand were chanting after the final whistle on Tuesday night. They had seen enough to feel that a terrible run of seven winless games in eight across all competitions was merely a blip.

11

Manchester United’s miracle win over PSG a warning to Manchester City – Aguero

“Looking at the recent results, we have to be very careful,” Aguero told ESPN with Manchester City 3-2 up over Schalke ahead of next week’s round-of-16 clash at the Etihad.

“We saw strange things happening this week and it helps us to know that we must be very focused on how we handle our game next week at home. [There were] so many unexpected results. PSG had a good lead after winning in Manchester and you saw how United advanced.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

“The Champions League is very difficult, all teams are very good. In a long competition like the Premier League you can allow yourself some mistakes but in the Champions League you can’t. You have to be very focused, be very careful with set pieces and on all the small details.”11

City have never gone beyond the semifinals of the Champions League and the competition remains a priority for the club. This year’s final is at the home of Aguero’s former club Atletico Madrid and in the city where his 10-year-old son Benjamin was born.

“I learned during my years here that the title of the Premier League is always decided at the end,” he added. “There are some exceptions like what happened last season when we won the league a month and a half before the end. But I don’t think this will happen any time soon.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

“We made history getting 100 points, it’s a difficult feat, not easy to repeat something like that. In my eight seasons in the league, I remember that six of them were very close until the last weeks.

“Obviously we are in a great shape right now after coming back from a big points disadvantage against Liverpool. We knew that the key game to win was the one we played against them and from that moment we started to narrow the gap. We needed to win for them to see that we were pushing back. Now we are top and in a great position over Liverpool.”

12

Donaldson set for exhibition debut with Braves

Josh Donaldson plans to play in his first spring training game for the Atlanta Braves on Friday night against Philadelphia.

After being slowed by injuries for two seasons, the 33-year-old third baseman signed a $23 million, one-year contract with the Braves and spent the first two weeks of the exhibition season strengthening his legs, feet and toes. He also tried to “to clean up some running technique issues that I’ve had in the past.”cheap nike nfl jerseys china

“It’s been awesome to come out here every day and to be able put some quality work in, and not have to tend to the calf,” he said. “Last year I had some shoulder issues to where I wasn’t really going into the season feeling right.”12

The 2015 AL MVP award winner with Toronto, Donaldson was limited to 113 games in 2017 and 52 games last season, when he was traded from the Blue Jays to Cleveland on Aug. 31.

Donaldson likely will get two plate appearances Friday, then not play Saturday. He doesn’t have a set number of plate appearances in mind for spring training.nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal

“The last week or so I’ve been kind of chomping at the bit,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of conversations and we’re just trying to be smart about everything, check all the boxes off. I’m looking forward to be being able to go out there and play.”

11

Judge, Gardner: Yanks will break team HR record

Asked whether he agreed with Gardner’s emphatic statement, Judge doubled down.

“Oh definitely. You get this whole team healthy, we’re going to crush the record that we set last year,” Judge said. “We’ve got a good team, a lot of guys that could make a lot of solid contact, and a lot of big boys that when they make contact, man, it goes. We’re a team that’s primed and ready to do that.”

The 267 homers the Bronx Bombers slugged last season — Gleyber Torres’ record-setting blast was crushed at Fenway Park late last September — outpaced the 264 the 1997 Seattle Mariners had hit.nike nfl jerseys for cheap

The Yankees’ record-breaking season came during a year that was fraught with injuries to key power hitters. Judge was out for two months with a broken wrist. Groin strains sent Gary Sanchez to the disabled list twice. An early-season ankle surgery slowed Greg Bird and may have led to a general lack of production from him late in the year.11

Two of those hitters had homer drop-offs from their 2017 seasons. Judge went from 52 home runs in his Rookie of the Year campaign in 2017 to 27 last year. Sanchez fell from 33 to 18.

“So far in camp, everybody’s healthy, everybody’s hungry and working hard,” Gardner said. “Yeah, I expect us to have a better year, collectively, and not just me, or Giancarlo [Stanton] or Bird or whoever. But collectively as a unit, I expect us to be a better offense and score more runs.”

The 5-foot-11 Gardner said he has joked often with the hulking Stanton and Judge about them individually posting massive homer totals.cheap nike nfl jerseys china

“I tell them, anybody can hit 50,” Gardner said, drawing laughter from reporters. “I know I run my mouth a lot to everybody … [but] we’ll see. Whether it’s 42 or 62 or something in between, we all know what they’re capable of and how much raw power they have. It’s a lot of fun to watch. Seems like every day or every other day I still get amazed by what they’re able to do.

12

Hayward almost costs Celtics, then hits winner

“I just had to get it up the length of the court,” Hayward said. “I was able to finish the play off, but really just making a play.”

He certainly did that, as his twisting, fadeaway bucket put a dagger in the Kings (32-32), who are trying to make the playoffs for the first time since 2006. The loss dropped Sacramento four full games behind the LA Clippers and San Antonio Spurs for the final playoff spot.

The Kings have lost six of their past eight games, including three losses by two points (to Boston, the Golden State Warriors and Denver Nuggets) and one in overtime (to the Milwaukee Bucks).

“I’m tired of that s—,” said Hield, who scored 23 points. “It’s life in the NBA, man. It’s hard to win basketball games — especially against good teams.”china nike nfl jerseys cheap

Boston (40-26) hasn’t always looked like a good team this season, but Wednesday’s win came on the heels of an emphatic 33-point victory over the Warriors on Tuesday — which could be a sign that better days lie ahead for the Celtics.12

Both Hayward and Celtics coach Brad Stevens said after Tuesday’s win that it would require another great effort to beat Sacramento. Sacramento shot 50 percent from the field and 13-for-29 (44.8 percent) from 3-point range to stay in the game and kept the game close throughout the fourth quarter until Hield’s free throws tied things up with 7.6 seconds left.

Boston didn’t have a timeout left, and with Kyrie Irving sitting out with a left thigh contusion, Hayward was the one to take the inbounds pass, bring the ball up the court and — when the rest of Sacramento’s defenders stayed home — went at Hield for what wound up being the game-winning shot.cheap nike nfl jerseys free shipping

“You look at the film and you always … when you watch something, you always say, ‘I should have done this, I should have done that.’ He made a fallaway fadeaway,” Hield said. “There’s nothing much you can do about that. I contested it. It’s not like I didn’t contest it. You say pressure him, but sometimes you don’t want to pressure guys way up because they have the lane to go drive full court. I don’t care who you are, you can’t guard nobody full court. I don’t care what fan thinks they can come out here and guard somebody full court. They can’t.

“You can pick and choose your poison. I tried to make it as tough as possible. I could’ve been more aggressive, but he made a tough fadeaway jump shot. Great shot, and hats off to him. It’s a great story for him, the way he’s battled [back] from injury, and so you have to tip your hat to that. Sometimes that’s how it’s going to work.”

11

Durant: Celtics will be fine once playoffs start

Durant said he thinks the Celtics need time to find a rhythm within their roster. Both Gordon Hayward and Irving missed the Celtics’ strong playoff run last year, and the team has struggled to find consistency at times.

“Everybody else probably thought they were supposed to be clicking and winning 65 games,” Durant said. “Because they had the talent and they went to the Eastern Conference finals last year, Game 7, but it’s a new season. There’s a lot of teams that changed their rosters to play, to stack up in the East, so it’s a different team. So they’re still getting used to each other, getting Gordon Hayward back and Kyrie back, and another year of experience for the guys that went through the playoffs, so it’s going to be throughout the season.”cheap nike nfl jerseys free shipping

Many pundits picked the Celtics to reach the NBA Finals and play against Durant and the Warriors, but the Celtics currently sit in fifth place in the Eastern Conference standings, with a 38-26 record.11

“It’s just the nature of the game,” Durant said. “They’ve got a bunch of young players, they’ve got a couple veterans that have been through the struggle, so they’re still trying to figure each other out. It takes more than just a half a year or a whole year to figure it out. They’re just going to keep growing, so what you see right now is probably not the finished product.”

Durant, who went through his own growing pains after signing with the Warriors a couple summers ago, believes the Celtics need to have patience as they continue developing their chemistry.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

“You can’t accelerate [the process],” Durant said. “I like to compare a lot of people to relationships — would you like to accelerate a relationship that goes straight from dating to marriage in a month? [Building teams is] just the same thing. Over time you got to learn patterns of behavior, how guys like their routines, where they like the ball, all that type of stuff. It’s just from building every day on the basketball court, so it’s going to take some time.”

When the Warriors do face the Celtics, they will do so with several players battling nagging injuries. Backup center Kevon Looney will not play Tuesday after an MRI revealed pelvic inflammation, according to Warriors coach Steve Kerr. Looney took part in shooting drills after Monday’s practice, so the injury does not appear too serious.

12

Combine is huge for biggest names on NFL’s top-ranked defense

General manager Eric DeCosta estimated half of his week at the combine will be devoted to talking to agents, including those who represent middle linebacker C.J. Mosley, outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, cornerback Jimmy Smith and safety Eric Weddle.

Mosley and Suggs are unrestricted free agents for the first time in their careers, and Smith and Weddle are potential salary-cap cuts. They have combined for 17 Pro Bowls in their careers, totaled 3,059 snaps last season and built reputations for being core leaders for a defense that became the second in team history to finish atop the league in fewest yards allowed.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

“Historically, we’ve been a team that’s been built on defense,” DeCosta said. “We take pride in that. I think our fan base takes pride in that. We always want to be the strongest defense we can be, understanding that the salary cap does place parameters on us that aren’t always easy to work with, to keep all your best players. We live in a salary-cap age, so we’ve got to find the right combination of players that we can keep [and] the right combination of players that we can bring back.”

DeCosta expressed a desire to keep Mosley and Suggs. He was not as effusive when addressing Weddle and Smith.12

Mosley, 26, was the Ravens’ leading tackler last season and is Baltimore’s highest-profile free agent this offseason. He is one of two players to record at least 500 tackles, eight sacks and eight interceptions since he entered the NFL in 2014 (Carolina’s Luke Kuechly is the other).

“C.J. is a critical part of our team, a big part of our defense,” DeCosta said. “We hope that we can bring him back next week. We have expectations that we’ll have some progress this week.”

Suggs, 36, is one of the most accomplished pass-rushers in NFL history, ranking first among active players with 132.5 sacks and tying Lawrence Taylor and Leslie O’Neal for 13th all time. The big question is how much does Suggs have left. His 34 total tackles were his fewest in a full season since his 2003 rookie campaign, and he managed 1.5 sacks in his final 10 games last season (including the playoff loss to the Chargers).cheap nfl jerseys china nike

“I think ‘Sizz’ is definitely a guy we want back,” DeCosta said. “He’s a guy that means a lot to our franchise, as a player, but also as a leader. I would love to have him back next year.”

11

Why Bills should consider trading sacks leader Jerry Hughes

The Buffalo Bills will be under pressure over the upcoming two months to improve what was the 30th-ranked offense in 2018 and put pieces around second-year quarterback Josh Allen, whose late-season play fueled optimism about his future.

Yet as the Bills approach the start of free agency in March with $79 million in cap space and April’s draft with the No. 9 overall pick, some of the team’s most important decisions involve the defensive line.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

This NFL offseason is a prime opportunity for teams to reshape their defensive lines. Of the 32 picks in ESPN NFL draft expert Mel Kiper’s latest mock draft, 13 are either defensive linemen or edge rushers — including the first five players off the board. Defensive linemen, especially pass-rushers, dominate the top of ESPN’s top 50 free agents.11

Some of those players might not be available to the Bills because of the franchise tag (in the case of free agents) or because they are drafted ahead of where Buffalo selects in the first round. But the Bills should not avoid adding to their defensive line in free agency or the draft simply because they have more pressing needs on offense.

The Bills’ defensive line is in a state of flux. Stalwart defensive tackle Kyle Williams retired at the end of this past season, and rotational backup Jordan Phillips will become an unrestricted free agent March 13. Defensive end Jerry Hughes’ contract expires after the 2019 season, as does that of fellow end Shaq Lawson.

How the Bills handle Hughes, 30, will be particularly important. The former first-round pick of the Indianapolis Colts in 2010 was traded to Buffalo in 2013 and has played in all 96 games since, making 80 starts. He is Buffalo’s longest-tenured player following Williams’ retirement.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Statistically, Hughes’ production has tapered off since he posted back-to-back 10-sack seasons in 2013 and 2014. However, his impact was still felt with a team-high seven sacks in 2018, including three forced fumbles that matched his career high. Pro Football Focus graded Hughes as the NFL’s seventh-best edge defender last season and the best player on Buffalo’s roster.