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.

12

76ers’ Boban Marjanovic to have MRI after injuring right knee

Philadelphia 76ers center Boban Marjanovic had to be helped off the court after he went down clutching his right knee late in Monday night’s 111-110 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

Marjanovic had 12 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks in less than 22 minutes to help fill the void in the middle created by the absence of 7-foot All-Star Joel Embiid, who has missed all three of Philadelphia’s games since the All-Star break.

But Marjanovic’s right leg got tangled up between Pelicans forward Cheick Diallo’s legs, and both players crashed to the court after pursuing a rebound with just over a minute left. Marjanovic needed assistance getting off the court and later used crutches to get the team bus.

Shortly after Sixers coach Brett Brown sought out Marjanovic in the trainer’s room, a team spokesman said the injury would be further evaluated on Tuesday, when an MRI was scheduled.12

“It was tough to see him go down and be in pain. So I’m praying that everything will be all right for him and we can get him back ASAP,” Tobias Harris said. “He did an amazing job out there when he was playing.”

Philadelphia nearly squandered a 10-point lead after Jimmy Butler’s 12-foot jumper made it 110-100 with 2:48 left. The Sixers missed five shots and three of four free throws, including two misses by Jonathon Simmons with 9 seconds left, allowing the Pelicans a chance to win it with any type of field goal on their last possession.

“My head at the moment is completely with Boban, to be frank,” Brown said when asked about his team’s nearly squandering the lead. “So whatever level of disappointment I may have, I don’t feel it so much now. We won the game, and I’m really thinking about him.’‘china nike nfl jerseys cheap

Ben Simmons echoed that sentiment when asked to sum up the night.

“We wanted to win. We won. We’re happy that we won. A teammate got hurt. … It’s sad to see a teammate go down,” he said.

Marjanovic was acquired Feb. 6 in a trade with the LA Clippers that also sent Harris to Philadelphia. The 7-foot-3 reserve is averaging 7.0 points and 4.4 rebounds this season.

9

Kyrie Irving comes up big for Celtics to deliver OT win versus 76ers

As the Celtics trailed by two in the final 30 seconds of regulation time in Tuesday’s Christmas Day thriller against the Philadelphia 76ers, they had the ball right where they wanted it: in Kyrie Irving’s hands. There is, perhaps, no better shot-maker in the NBA than Irving, who has never found an angle he couldn’t utilize or an arc he couldn’t put on a basketball to get it to drop through the hoop.

The Sixers, meanwhile, had Jimmy Butler — one of the league’s top perimeter defenders, who himself was delivering a spectacular defensive performance — guarding Irving for the game’s most important possession. It was, in short, exactly the matchup both teams were hoping for.buy nike nfl jerseys cheap

Irving, never celebrated for his defense or his energy plays, provided plenty of both of them against Philadelphia. In one stretch alone in the first quarter, he rotated over to prevent a JJ Redick layup at the rim, outworked Sixers center Joel Embiid for a rebound and a putback layup, and drew a charge on Butler — all while putting up 16 points in the quarter.9

Those are the kinds of plays that, once a rarity, have become more commonplace for Irving this season. And as a result, it has elevated his play to a place it hasn’t been before.

“I always talk about being on those big stages,” Irving said. “It’s just so much fun. It’s competition at its highest. I love going against the best.”

Still, Irving has the reputation he has as a shot-maker for a reason. And it was that shot-making that not only helped stake Boston to that early lead, but brought the Celtics home in the fourth quarter when it looked like Philadelphia had taken control of the proceedings.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Time and again, Irving managed to pull the Celtics out of the fire and back to safety:

There was the circus layup he converted after reentering the game with 8:13 remaining and the Celtics trailing by seven that jump-started a quick 10-3 run to tie the contest. There was the ridiculous shot to tie the game at the end of regulation that somehow eluded Butler’s outstretched arms — continuing a trend that, according to Second Spectrum tracking data, saw Irving go 6-for-10 and score 14 points against one of the league’s best defenders. There were the back-to-back 3s midway through overtime to cap a 10-1 run that turned a five-point Boston deficit into a lead it would never relinquish. And of Boston’s 20 points in crunch time, Irving scored half of them — and hit more field goals and 3-pointers than Philadelphia’s entire team while doing so.

Each of those on its own is impressive enough. But collectively, they create a performance few others in the NBA could even contemplate pulling off on any stage — let alone on Christmas Day.

“He’s done that his entire career — take and make tough shots,” said Butler, who finished with 24 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists of his own in over 43 minutes. “That’s why he is the type of player that he is in this league. That’s why I respect his game so much.

11

Nationals owner: Maxed out offer for Bryce Harper, ‘don’t expect him to come back’

Nationals owner Mark Lerner says he doesn’t expect Bryce Harper to return to Washington after telling the superstar outfielder that the team maxed out its offer at the end of the regular season.

Multiple reports said Harper, the 2015 National League MVP, rejected a 10-year contract worth approximately $300 million in September.

Lerner didn’t discuss the exact offer that was given to Harper, but he said the Nationals couldn’t comfortably offer more and field a competitive team around the six-time All-Star.

“When we met with them and we gave them the offer, we told them, ‘This is the best we can do.’ We went right to the finish line very quickly,” Lerner told 106.7 The Fan. “And we said, ‘If this is of interest to you, please come back to us, and we’ll see whether we can finish it up.’ But we just couldn’t afford to put more than that in and still be able to put a team together that had a chance to win the NL East or go farther than that.”

Even if Harper, 26, were willing to accept the previous Nationals offer, Lerner said he wasn’t sure the team could now make it work.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

The Nationals officially signed left-hander Patrick Corbin on Friday to a heavily back-loaded six-year deal worth $140 million. At a news conference introducing Corbin on Friday, general manager Mike Rizzo said the deal wasn’t relevant to what might happen with Harper.11

“I think they’re independent of each other. I really do,” Rizzo said. “We’ve gone about this business of creating a roster for 2019, and at the end of the day, we’ll figure out whether that includes Harp or not.

“We thought it was good business — we had to fix the things we needed to fix. Harp is a big part of our family and we’d love to have him back.”

No timeline has been given for when Harper is expected to sign with a team. Harper is expected to receive the largest contract in free agency this year, and Boras is known for extending talks with his free agents past the holiday break.

Without Harper, the Nationals would have Adam Eaton, Juan Soto, Michael Taylor and Victor Robles in their outfield.

“We feel very strongly we’re in good shape,” Lerner said. “It’ll be a young, pretty incredible outfield defensively, and certainly with the bat, it’s going to be special.“cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

And now the Nationals have Corbin joining a star-studded rotation with Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg.

Corbin gets a $2.5 million signing bonus payable next Oct. 31 and salaries of $12.5 million next season, $19 million in 2020, $24 million in 2021, $23 million in 2022, $24 million in 2023 and $35 million in 2024 — when he turns 35. The final year’s salary includes $10 million that will be deferred without interest and payable on Jan. 15, 2026.

11

Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino: Kieran Trippier must remember he is a full-back

Mauricio Pochettino has warned Kieran Trippier that he needs to improve defensively and remember he is a full-back after Tottenham’s scare against Wolves.

Spurs were 3-0 up at Molineux on Saturday but then conceded twice from penalties to claim a 3-2 win. While 20-year-old centre-back Juan Foyth conceded both spot-kicks, Trippier was largely culpable each time, foolishly attempting a nutmeg just outside his own box and then failing to track Jonny’s run.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Trippier had earlier set up a goal for Lucas Moura with a trademark cross, but Pochettino has reminded the England international of his defensive duties.

“The disappointment is massive to concede two cheap actions like we conceded,” Pochettino said. “I don’t talk about the action of the penalty — we need to go a little bit before.

“You are going to see or have the answer. We provide [Kieran] with the platform to go forward because we create the system and dynamic to put him in the best position to play. In a different situation, I think he is a full-back, not a winger.

“It’s like no different full-back in the world. When you are in possession and go forward, you need to be strong too when you are in a defensive situation. We always compensate.11

“If you watch the game, Moussa Sissoko compensates that situation. If we put a player high, it is because in behind we have compensated the situation to give the time to go back.

“Kieran needs to improve in the defensive situation because in the last few games you have seen that we conceded a few actions. But like him, all the players need to improve in the defensive situation.

“We need to be more aggressive. Against Barcelona, Manchester City and now, we conceded very poor goals. For me, football is about when you don’t have the ball.nfl cheap jerseys nike

“The great teams like Manchester City, who won the Premier League last season, or Barcelona or Real Madrid, when they don’t have the ball they fight like the most humble player.

“That is the balance which is important to generate or create in a team if you want to be close to winning titles.”

Tottenham have already thrown away leads against Watford (twice), Inter Milan and PSV Eindhoven this season and, having nearly done so again at Wolves, captain Hugo Lloris has urged his teammates to add some pragmatism to Pochettino’s philosophy and learn when to simply see out the game.

11

Tottenham ‘anxious’ for the new stadium to be complete – Lucas Moura

Lucas Moura has told ESPN FC that Tottenham players are anxious to get into their new stadium following more delays that could mean they don’t play there until January.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

Spurs lost 1-0 to Manchester City at Wembley on Monday, a day after an NFL game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Philadelphia Eagles had been played on the same surface, highlighting Spurs’ failure to get their new home open on time.

Spurs’ new home on the site of their former ground was originally due to open on Sept. 15 and had been previously announced to open in time for Christmas. One section of the stadium, which includes Europe’s largest club shop, is open to the public.

“I won’t deny that we are anxious for the new stadium, our new home — to get to know the new things in the stadium,” Moura said after the game.11

Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy said last week they would continue at Wembley until the end of the year, but it was reported on Tuesday that the Premier League could push them to give final dates for a first fixture at the new ground. That could mean the club are forced to commit to staying at Wembley for the remainder of the 2018-19 campaign.

Meanwhile, UEFA has confirmed they are monitoring the condition of the Wembley pitch ahead of the Champions League game against PSV Eindhoven on Nov. 6.

“UEFA is closely monitoring the situation at Wembley and working with the club, the FA and management of the stadium, to guarantee safe playing conditions for the Champions League match.”nfl cheap jerseys nike

Katrina Law, the co-chair of the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust, wrote in the Telegraph that Wembley fatigue is affecting attendances ahead of the new stadium opening and causing resentment among fans.

This season Tottenham have played six matches as a home side, five at Wembley and one in Milton Keynes, due to the ongoing delays.

12

Giants exercise options on Madison Bumgarner, Pablo Sandoval

Madison Bumgarner’s $12 million contract option for the 2019 season has been exercised by the San Francisco Giants, keeping the 2014 World Series MVP and ace left-hander with the club for at least one more season after his past two years were shortened by injuries.cheap youth nfl jerseys

The Giants on Monday also exercised third baseman Pablo Sandoval’s option for the $555,000 minimum.

In April 2012, Bumgarner signed a $35.56 million, six-year deal through 2017 that included $12 million club options for the 2018 and ’19 seasons.12

Bumgarner, 29, broke the pinkie on his pitching hand when he was hit by a line drive from Kansas City’s Whit Merrifield in his final spring training start. He returned to go 6-7 with a 3.26 ERA in 21 starts over 129 2/3 innings.

MadBum missed nearly three months last year following a dirt bike accident during an off day in Colorado.

Sandoval, the 2012 World Series MVP, is recovering from right hamstring surgery and didn’t play after July 29. His salary for next season will be offset against the $18 million he is still owed by Boston. He signed a $95 million, five-year deal with the Red Sox after the 2014 season and departed San Francisco.nfl cheap nike jerseys

The Giants reinstated from the 60-day disabled list catcher Buster Posey, Sandoval and right-handers Jeff Samardzija, Johnny Cueto and Julian Fernandez.

11

Denard Span a free agent after Mariners decline $12 million option

The Mariners have declined outfielder Denard Span’s $12 million contract option for next year in favor of a $4 million buyout, making the 34-year-old a free agent.cheap nfl jerseys nike china

Span, who exercised his part of the option, was acquired by Seattle last May in a trade with Tampa Bay and became one of the Mariners most consistent hitters. Span hit .272 with 15 doubles, seven home runs and 30 RBIs in 94 games with the Mariners, often batting in the middle of Seattle’s order. He played 87 of those games in the outfield, almost all in left field.11

Span agreed to a $31 million, three-year contract with San Francisco before the 2016 season and earned an additional $4.75 million in performance bonuses and escalators that raised his earnings under the deal to $35.75 million.

He was traded to Tampa Bay from San Francisco last offseason and relished the chance to play where he grew up. But with Seattle needing a left-handed bat after the suspension of Robinson Cano as it tried to contend for a playoff spot, he was traded to the Mariners along with reliever Alex Colome for a pair of minor leaguers.cheap youth nfl jerseys

12

Lakers finally get elusive win at Staples Center

Coming off their first win of the season over Phoenix’s desert island of misfit toys, the Lakers sparked their first winning streak of the season, topping the Denver Nuggets 121-114 on Thursday. The game was a seesaw affair throughout, but the Lakers wrested control of the game in the final four minutes.

The Lakers might not be currently constructed to be a top-flight defensive team, but there were some encouraging signs in their best effort of the season.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Watching Lonzo Ball constantly hound Jamal Murray the full length of the floor — picking Murray’s pocket just before halftime for an easy bucket as just reward — was a reminder that the Lakers employ several capable defenders, even if their team concepts have a ways to go. They needn’t be the sieve of a defense that they demonstrated the first week of the season.

For James, Thursday’s outing was a complete performance that included his first triple-double as a Laker — 28 points (10-for-17 from the floor), 11 rebounds and 11 assists. James has been selective with his attacks in the early going this season, but seeing an opportunity to rumble coast to coast in the third quarter, he willingly forced the issue on several occasions — most notably a slam on the break, courtesy of a pass ahead from Lance Stephenson that gave the Lakers the lead with 3:29 remaining in the game.

And from the top of the floor as a facilitator, James was characteristically lethal with his surgical passing.12

James is well aware that the Lakers won’t be the most proficient shooting team in the league. But their final possession of the first half was a vivid illustration of how the elite vision of James and Ball can compensate for perimeter shortcomings; it was an exercise the Lakers showed off in the victory. As the Denver defense gravitated toward James with the clock winding down, he zipped a cross-court pass in the opposite corner to Ball, who then instantly shuttled it over to Kyle Kuzma for an open 3-pointer on the wing.

The shot vaulted the Lakers into the lead heading to intermission — more evidence that better decisions will yield better results. If Kuzma (22 points) continues to sprint the floor in transition and float to open space on the perimeter as he did on Thursday night, he should be exceptionally well-fed this season. His two dunks in the final two minutes, one courtesy of James, helped seal the game for the Lakers.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Ball and James, both heady and intrinsically unselfish on the court, are clearly establishing some teammate telepathy. On a half-court possession in the third quarter, Ball immediately recognized a strong early seal by James against the smaller Torrey Craig — quick lob, easy 2.