9

How the Rams won the offseason

A light rain fell along the shore of Wailea, on the Hawaiian island of Maui. It was the last Thursday in February, three days before the start of the NFL scouting combine and the first opportunity for Snead to take a family vacation.

Snead sat at a steakhouse adjacent to the pool at the Four Seasons, sipping a glass of red wine and eating a filet mignon. He appeared to relish the downtime following a season that spanned seven months and included the Rams’ first division title in 14 seasons and first playoff appearance since 2004.

Snead gave no hint that he had spent the day holed up in his hotel room with his family at the beach.cheap nike nfl jerseys china

When he departed Los Angeles a day earlier, he thought negotiations for Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters were dead. The Chiefs’ asking price was more than the Rams GM was willing to spend. So Snead boarded a five-hour afternoon flight across the Pacific, leaving behind the thought of acquiring a two-time Pro Bowl selection.

He awoke the next morning to a flurry of text messages and voicemails. Four time zones away from Kansas City, Snead had slept through the Chiefs’ attempts to jump-start the negotiations.

“I’m like, ‘Holy cow, I’m playing really hard to get,'” Snead said. “But really I was just sleeping.”9

As his wife, Kara, and the kids went out to explore the island, Snead stayed behind to orchestrate a move to answer the Rams’ pressing questions at cornerback.

Snead called chief operating officer Kevin Demoff, senior assistant Tony Pastoors and coach Sean McVay. Pastoors drew up the paperwork. McVay alerted the staff to gather film, and the head coach vetted the 25-year-old Peters, who was kicked off the University of Washington football team in 2014 and faced a one-game suspension last season after he threw a penalty flag into the stands before exiting the field for the locker room.

“You talk to the people that have been around him, that you really value their opinion, you trust it,” McVay said. “Got a lot of good things that came back in terms of a guy that loves football, does a lot of really good things for his community.”

Defensive coordinator Wade Philips and the defensive backs coaches watched more than 200 plays that focused on Peters’ strengths and areas that needed improvement. Each walked away with the same conclusion.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

“It was unanimous,” McVay said. “We all wanted him.”

Peters was a proven playmaker. The one-time All-Pro had 19 interceptions in three seasons and was the prototypical corner to play man-to-man in Phillips’ scheme.

10

When Manchester City face Chelsea, Pep Guardiola will see similarities in Maurizio Sarri

Time moves fast in football. In the short term, it’s remarkable that we’re already preparing for Sunday’s Community Shield between Manchester City and Chelsea at Wembley (10 a.m. ET, ESPN+), just three weeks after France were holding the World Cup trophy aloft in Moscow. In the longer term, it’s incredible that Pep Guardiola is now a decade into his managerial career.

Other revolutionary managers find themselves washed up 10 years after their “defining” campaign, as Guardiola’s 2008-09 season should probably still be considered. Either they’ve become weighed down by the stress of football management, like Arrigo Sacchi, or they’ve discovered their methods have been replicated and improved upon, like Arsene Wenger found. Guardiola, a decade on, is still the most revered manager in Europe, having avoided the Sacchi problem by taking a sabbatical year after his Barcelona stint, and avoided the Wenger problem by continuing to evolve his approach and keep his rivals guessing.nike cheap nfl jerseys

Since his arrival at Manchester City two years ago, Guardiola’s main two rivals have not included Jose Mourinho, his previous nemesis. The first was Chelsea boss Antonio Conte, who somewhat overshadowed Guardiola in their debut Premier League campaign, evolving the English top flight with his 3-4-3 and inflicting a memorable 3-1 defeat upon Guardiola at the Etihad.

The second was Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp, whose gegenpressing caused Manchester City major problems in direct confrontations, most memorably in the stunning 3-0 Champions League victory at Anfield last season. Unlike Guardiola’s previous run-ins with Mourinho, relations between these managers have been professional and cordial. Guardiola respected Conte, and he respects Klopp.

But he absolutely adores new Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri, who may prove his most entertaining rival thus far.10

Conte’s defensive-minded system felt like the opposite of Guardiola’s love of possession play, as did — in a completely different manner — Klopp’s high-energy, aggressive football. But Sarri’s Napoli played in a manner that recalled Guardiola’s Barcelona, their passing so structured and so incisive that it felt like a new iteration of tiki-taka.

The extent to which Sarri asks his players to “provoke” the opposition in possession is quite remarkable, the defenders toying with opponents before suddenly striking passes through them, transferring the ball from defence to attack quickly without a hint of a long ball. It was remarkable to watch and, while Napoli didn’t quite overtake Juventus in Serie A, unquestionably highly effective.cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

Sarri and Guardiola share the same footballing philosophy. When City and Napoli met last season, Guardiola said Sarri’s side was “maybe the best team” he had faced. When Sarri was unveiled at Stamford Bridge last month, he declared Guardiola “a class act, a champion, a genius,” before admitting that overturning the 30-point gap between Chelsea and City from last season would be hugely difficult. City boast two years of experience in Guardiola’s methods, Chelsea’s barely a month in their man’s. City have a better starting XI, a better squad and more tactical variety. What do Chelsea have? Well, Chelsea have Jorginho.

9

Vegan diet helping Manchester United’s Chris Smalling fight for place

Chris Smalling is hoping his new vegan diet will give him an advantage in the battle for places at Manchester United.

Smalling is one of five centre-backs at Old Trafford alongside Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, Victor Lindelof and Marcos Rojo.

Competition for places could increase even further if Jose Mourinho gets his way and brings in another central defender before the transfer deadline next week with sources telling ESPN FC that Leicester’s Harry Maguire, Tottenham’s Toby Alderweireld and Yerry Mina at Barcelona are all on the list of candidates.cheap nike nfl jerseys paypal

No other centre-back made more starts for United last season than Smalling — he was fourth on the overall list behind only Nemanja Matic, David De Gea and Romelu Lukaku.

And the 28-year-old, who has had injury problems in the past, says it is proof he is benefiting from a transition to a fully vegan diet.9

“My wife is vegan and has been vegan for a few years,” he said. “She cooks a lot at home and half the time I was eating vegan anyway. I wasn’t fully vegan and when we would eat out I would eat what I would normally have.

“After a while I started to cut out red meat. One of the reasons I started to was because red meat causes quite a lot of inflammation and I had quite a lot of tendinitis in my knee, which quite a lot of footballers get.nike cheap nfl jerseys

“It causes a lot of that inflammation and when I was cutting that down, the tendinitis started to go. It used to be quite a problem in terms of all warm-ups because getting going was a bit of a nightmare. I ended up cutting that out and my tendinitis has got better and better and I’ve started to feel it less.

“Now I’ve gone fully vegan and normally the start of preseason can be quite a tough time because you’re loading and that’s normally when it’s at its worst but I haven’t felt it at all.

“The last step was, that took me a little while, was the club, especially in terms of travelling. Mike [the chef] has been very accommodating and when I told him, we worked out different menus and different options.

“Some of the staff are vegetarian and some of the players try bits and pieces even though none of them are vegan. At the end of the day it’s about eating more good things.

10

Braves land starter Kevin Gausman from Orioles

The Baltimore Orioles sent right-handed pitchers Kevin Gausman and Darren O’Day to the Atlanta Braves, the teams announced Tuesday.

In exchange, the Orioles are getting four minor leaguers — right-hander Evan Phillips, infielder Jean Carlos Encarnacion, catcher Brett Cumberland and left-hander Bruce Zimmermann — and international slot money.

Braves manager Brian Snitker applauded four trades made by general manager Alex Anthopoulos. The Braves also added outfielder Adam Duvall, acquired from the Reds late Monday, and relievers Brad Brach and Jonny Venters in the past five days.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

“I feel really good,” Snitker said. “We talked about what you would like to have, and I think he hit all the boxes. Bullpen depth, starting pitcher, maybe a bat off the bench. I think they did a great job.”

Gausman, 27, is 5-8 with a 4.43 ERA for the Orioles this season. He is under contract and arbitration-eligible through the 2020 season.10

O’Day appeared in 20 games for the Orioles before having season-ending surgery on his left hamstring. He had a 3.60 ERA and two saves before the injury. The 35-year-old veteran has a 2.56 career ERA in 11 seasons and is under contract through 2019.

Cumberland, 23, was selected by the Braves in the second round of the 2016 draft. He is hitting .228 with 11 home runs and 39 RBIs in two levels of the Braves’ system this season. He is currently at Double-A Mississippi.

Phillips has an 8.53 ERA in four appearances with the Braves this season. The 23-year-old right-hander is 4-4 with a 1.99 ERA in 31 appearances for Triple-A Gwinnett.

Zimmermann, a 23-year-old left-hander, is 9-4 with a 2.86 ERA in two levels of the Braves’ system this season. He also is currently at Double-A Mississippi.

Encarnacion, 20, is hitting .288 with 10 home runs and 57 RBIs for Class-A Rome this season.cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

“We’re always reluctant to move some of our higher-ranked guys,” Anthopoulos said. “… We like the guys we lost. There are certain guys that are more high-profile. We didn’t go into the trade deadline saying we refuse to move on our top prospects. Certain guys are harder to acquire than others. For the right deal for the right player, we’re open to it.”

The Braves entered Tuesday’s trade deadline a half-game behind first-place Philadelphia and five games ahead of third-place Washington in the NL East. The Phillies have also made a push, adding catcher Wilson Ramos and left-hander Aaron Loup on Tuesday after picking up infielder Asdrubal Cabrera last Friday. The Nationals traded away reliever Brandon Kintzler but otherwise stood pat at the deadline.

9

Astros’ Alex Bregman wins All-Star Game MVP after go-ahead HR in 10th

Bregman’s homer was one of a record-breaking 10 in the game, and it put the AL ahead for good, as baseball’s best put on a power exhibition in the late innings. Bregman’s Astros teammate George Springer hit one out immediately after Bregman.nfl cheap jerseys nike

“There’s a great love affair with both results. I mean, to kind of empty your tank and hit homers tonight at this event is probably the best thing imaginable,” AL manager A.J. Hinch of the Astros said. “Just to have that kind of emotion that comes with the home run, especially when the big boys hit it and especially when the Astros hit it.”9

Bregman and Springer homered off losing pitcher Ross Stripling of the Dodgers — that’s kind of how last season ended too, with Houston battering Los Angeles’ pitchers in the World Series.

“I took a cutter down the middle first pitch, then kind of went into battle mode and was just trying to put a line drive in play and it left the yard. It was crazy. A lot of fun,” Bregman said. “Normally when we go back-to-back, I have to hit it after Springer does because he leads off, so it was pretty cool to see them go back-to-back.”nfl nike jerseys for cheap

Bregman smiled all around the bases. He is familiar with this city, his grandfather having been the general counsel for the old Washington Senators.

“My dad grew up on Ted Williams’ lap. So to see Ted Williams Most Valuable Player on this trophy is pretty special,” Bregman said.

The 24-year-old Bregman is a first-time All-Star in his third major league season. He hit 19 homers last season, and he has 20 so far this year.

12

Tottenham’s Harry Kane targets quick return to Premier League

England captain Harry Kane is confident he can recover from the fatigue of a taxing World Cup campaign as he aims to return to action in Tottenham Hotspur’s opening Premier League fixture against Newcastle United on Aug. 11.

After 48 appearances across all competitions for Tottenham last term, the 24-year-old forward continued his prolific form at the World Cup, scoring six goals in as many matches to lead England to the semifinals and win the Golden Boot award.new nike nfl jerseys for sale cheap

Kane returned home with the rest of his England teammates on Sunday and has less than a month of downtime but is already focused on a return with Spurs.12

“I want to be playing in four weeks’ time,” Kane said. “We’ll have to talk to the gaffer [Mauricio Pochettino] at Spurs. It will be a couple of weeks [off].

“The most important thing is mentally [to be ready]. Physically, this has been our preseason. We tick over and are not going to just do nothing for two weeks. We will ease our way into it.

“Physically your body will take you where you never thought it would. It’s always mentally. We train all year round… With the season starting soon it will be hard, but that’s something we have to deal with.”

Kane, the Premier League’s top scorer in two of the last three seasons, has already set targets for a goal-scoring return to action.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

“I will hopefully be back for the first game and hopefully try and score in August [for the first time in the Premier League] this year,” he added.

11

Pirates demote OF Austin Meadows to Triple-A

The Pittsburgh Pirates demoted outfielder Austin Meadows to Triple-A Indianapolis on Sunday and recalled right-handed reliever Tanner Anderson.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

The 23-year-old Meadows was the team’s first-round pick in the 2013 draft. He hit .298 in 48 games with Pittsburgh, but he has lost playing time to Corey Dickerson and Gregory Polanco. In July, Meadows hit .233 as his playing opportunities declined.11

“I’m really excited about what he did, especially that first week,” Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said. “The last month hasn’t been as productive, and it’s tough to ask a young player to not play. It’s in his best interests and our best interests to let him grow and develop.”

Huntington rebuffed the suggestion that Meadows’ demotion was related to the possibility that he could qualify for salary arbitration early by gaining Super Two status. The general manager called such projetions “inexact.”nfl cheap nike jerseys

The 25-year-old Anderson had a 2.17 ERA in 27 games with Indianapolis and will provide bullpen depth after Saturday’s doubleheader against the Brewers.

10

C-Mac, Lil Cap, Clutchery: How Cam Newton creates nicknames

So when ESPN.com asked NFL Nation reporters to come up with the best nickname on the team they cover, it was a slam dunk that the honor for the Carolina Panthers went to quarterback Cam Newton, the self-proclaimed “Sensei of Nicknames.”

Newton made his title known partly out of necessity in 2014 when apologizing for referring to then-Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh as “Donkey Kong Suh.”

“If anything, I was trying to say it as a compliment of him for wreaking havoc,” Newton said at the time. “Me going forward, I should have called him ‘Wreck-it Ralph.'”

It was during this apology that Newton said, “I just call myself the ‘Sensei of Nicknames.'”

He then rattled off a dozen or more from that Carolina team. Then-fullback Mike Tolbert had more nicknames — Tub of Goo, Tub of Mayonnaise, Plate of Paste, Chunky Soup, Toldozer, Fat Boy, Bowling Ball — than anybody because of his 5-foot-9, 250-pound physique.

Tolbert wasn’t offended. Carolina players just roll with whatever nickname Newton gives them.

“Cam’s weird. A good weird, though,” defensive end Mario Addison said. “He’s given me so many nicknames, I don’t know which one he really calls me by. He’ll say Rio, Super Mario — everything. Cam, man, I guess it’s what he’s feeling like that day which one you’re going to get.”nfl nike jerseys for cheap

Newton gave himself the nickname “Ace Boogie” when he initially came into the league. He also considers himself the “Sensei of Swag,” for obvious reasons, if you’ve seen his sometimes out-there wardrobe.

“I couldn’t come up with half the things he comes up with,” Kalil said. “A lot of them are more clever than people realize. There are a lot of them that are inside jokes that can’t leave the locker room that are really funny.

“He’s sharp that way. His mind goes 100 miles an hour.”10

Not all nicknames are public knowledge. Kalil’s is one of them.

“He says it a lot to me,” Kalil said. “But it’s a quarterback-center bond thing. I can’t break that trust and tell you what it is.”

Garrett Gilbert, the front-runner to be Newton’s backup, is amazed by the depth of some of Newton’s nicknames.

“Depth is a good word,” he said. “They are extremely creative. Sometimes they take a while to craft. Sometimes it hits him the first day when a player comes on the field. But they are definitely, without a doubt, very creative.”cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Gilbert’s nickname is a prime example, although Newton gets an assist from wide receiver Brenton Bersin on this one. Gilbert is called Glanch, after Matt Blanchard, who was on the Carolina practice squad in 2013-14.

11

England didn’t match pregame hype vs. Croatia – Ivan Rakitic

Ivan Rakitic said England were wrong to believe they had the edge over Croatia in Wednesday’s World Cup semifinal and that Gareth Southgate’s side didn’t live up to fans’ expectations.

Emphasis was placed before the game on the fact Croatia had needed extra time to see off Denmark and Russia and that England, who beat Sweden 2-0 in the quarterfinal, were considered fresher — and were younger — going into the game.

However, that didn’t prove to be the case, with more-experienced Croatia getting stronger as the match progressed and coming from behind to win 2-1 after extra time.

“All I can say is that they asserted that they were going to be much better physically, that they were superior in that aspect,” Rakitic told Mundo Deportivo when asked if England talked too much before the game.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

“But, in the end, it was the opposite. It was we who imposed ourselves and played better in the second half and in extra time. We deserved to win. We imposed ourselves because we were the better team.”

As well as playing 120 minutes twice in the week before the game, Rakitic had a fever on the eve of the England clash.11

The Barcelona midfielder, who has coeliac disease, managed to shake it off just in time to help his country reach their first World Cup final.

“The day before the game my temperature was 39 degrees,” he said. “I was in bed and I was thinking I wasn’t going to be able to take part in a game as important as a [World Cup] semifinal.

“I lost four kilograms during the game because of the effort I then put in. I ran 14 kilometres. I don’t know where the strength came from, but you do it. It comes from inside you.”
Rakitic’s partnership with Luka Modric has been key to Croatia’s progress in Russia, with the duo putting the Barca-Real Madrid rivalry to the side.

The two could have ended up as teammates at club level, too, if Modric, who Rakitic said was a Barca fan when he was younger, had joined the club when he had the chance.

“We all had our favourite team when we were kids and it’s no secret that Luka pulled for Barca,” Rakitic told MD. “But I can say now, the great professional that he is, that we have ‘lost’ him. He’s 100 percent Madrid. You just have to see how he plays in Clasicos. It’s difficult to find someone more Madrid than him.nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal

“Sometimes, when we’re playing against each other, I joke when we change shirts at full-time: ‘Now you have the shirt you always wanted to take home.’ It’s a shame he never ended up at Camp Nou, but it’s also an honour to play against him in La Liga and the Champions League. It’s really special for Croatia to be able to enjoy a player of his level.”

10

Brett Gardner, bullpen help Yankees pick up Luis Severino

Indeed, the much-anticipated Severino-Kluber matchup — one that was hyped because of the starters’ sub-2.50 ERAs and double-digit win tallies — failed to live up to its lofty billing as the offenses churned out a combined 18 hits (nine for each team) and five home runs in a 7-4 Yankees win.

Every one of Cleveland’s hits came with same Yankees pitcher on the mound: Severino. It seemed like baseball after baseball that left the starter’s right hand was blasted to some part of the field. To their credit, the four Yankees relievers who replaced Severino across the game’s final four innings held Cleveland hitless to keep their club in the ballgame.

“They kind of did a number on us,” Indians manager Terry Francona said.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

Combine the Yankees relievers’ version of a half-game no-hitter with an offensive outburst, and the end result is the type of win through which a team can have a valuable lesson reinforced.

Even when its best starting pitcher gets shelled by a very good hitting team, the Yankees still have a roster that is complete enough to pull through with a victory.

“Up and down the lineup we had contributions in big at-bats in big spots,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “The night when Sevy didn’t have his best, the rest of the guys were able to come through in a very big way.”10

How rough was Severino’s night? He had his first one-strikeout game since September 2016, and he allowed multiple homers in a second consecutive game for the first time since May 2016.

“They took very good at-bats against me for a lot of pitches, and they made me grind,” Severino said. “I struck out one batter. I’m not that kind of guy. I’m maybe two or five, but not one.”

Four times this season Severino has reached double digits in strikeouts. In two other games, he finished with nine K’s.

“Aaron does so many things as far as his ability to get on base, his speed element, the power he brings from both sides of the plate,” Boone said. “He’s just a really good player, and I’m glad that people are a little bit more starting to see that.”cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

Following the double, Hicks made the heady decision to steal third on Cleveland reliever Oliver Perez, setting up a sacrifice fly opportunity for Bird moments later. When Bird drove Hicks in for his 11th RBI in his past four games, he helped cap a complete team win.

“Look what he’s been doing lately. That’s what you want from everybody,” Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius, who hit his own 430-foot homer off Kluber, said of Bird. “You want to do damage from top to bottom.