12

Cubs closer Strop to sit out a week (hamstring)

Chicago Cubs reliever Pedro Strop will sit out at least a week of spring games after straining his right hamstring on his final pitch against the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

“According to the MRI, it was barely noticeable,” manager Joe Maddon said on Tuesday. “So we don’t think it’s going to be anything horribly long but we don’t know for sure. We’d like to think we’ll be able to get him ready for the beginning of the season.”

Strop, 33, has no doubt.12

“I’ll be ready for Day 1, 100 percent,” he said Wednesday. “I’m not even limited in doing anything.”

Strop is the Cubs’ de facto closer as Brandon Morrow is on the mend after minor elbow surgery this past winter.

The team stressed the injury to Strop was minor enough that he can keep throwing, but the Cubs won’t risk him causing more damage to himself in a game.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Strop injured his left hamstring late last season while running to first on a ground ball during a rare plate appearance.

He saved 13 games last year, in place of Morrow, who missed the entire second half. Morrow is expected to miss the first month of this season and if Strop is out as well, the Cubs are likely to turn to Carl Edwards Jr, Steve Cishek and Brandon Kintzler to close games. The latter two have ninth-inning experience.

12

‘I don’t ever get gun-shy’: McCollum, Blazers roll past Clippers

But when the fourth quarter arrived, the Portland Trail Blazers guard turned an off night into one of the hottest of his career.

McCollum scored 23 points in the final frame of a 125-104 win over the LA Clippers, his most points ever in the fourth quarter, as he topped his previous high of 16.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Most impressive of all: McCollum outscored the Clippers 23-20 in the fourth.

“I don’t ever get gun-shy,” said McCollum, who finished with a game-high 35 points on 12-of-21 shooting from the floor. “I’ve missed a lot of shots in my career. You’ve just got to stay confident.”12

After his slow start, McCollum finished the night by making 12 of his final 14 shots from the floor and keyed the decisive fourth quarter, in which the Trail Blazers outscored the Clippers 40-20.

“He showed what he’s made of,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said. “He came in here, never lost confidence, took the shots that were there and got us over the hump.”

Said Clippers coach Doc Rivers, “We made a lot of defensive mistakes, but CJ McCollum was on fire. A lot of that was just shot-making because some were just one-on-ones. You live with it.”

Portland guard Damian Lillard wasn’t surprised by his backcourt mate’s big night.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

“I’ve seen that movie,” said Lillard, who scored 20 points to go with 12 assists. “I always tell you guys: When he sees the ball go in a few times, he can get going. At that point, my job is to just make it last as long as possible.”

McCollum said he didn’t know that he started 0-for-7 from the floor.

“I just knew I had missed some easy shots,” he said. “Just a couple minor adjustments, and once one goes in, it’s all downhill from there usually.”

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

Bills release tight end Charles Clay

The Buffalo Bills have released tight end Charles Clay, the team announced Friday.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Clay, 30, was scheduled to count $9 million against the Bills’ salary cap in the final season of a five-year, $38 million contract. He finished last season with a career-low 184 receiving yards while averaging a career-low 8.8 yards per catch. Despite playing in 13 games and making 12 starts, his 21 catches were his fewest since 2012.12

Former Bills general manager Doug Whaley made signing the transition-tagged Clay away from the division-rival Miami Dolphins one of his signature moves of the 2015 offseason. The Bills guaranteed $24.5 million of Clay’s deal, but his production in Buffalo never matched what remain his two best seasons — for Miami in 2013 and 2014.

Clay’s most recent touchdown came in Week 3 of the 2017 season. He surpassed 30 receiving yards in only two games during the 2018 season and was made a healthy scratch for a Week 16 contest at New England.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

In eight NFL seasons, Clay has caught 339 passes for 3,631 yards and 23 touchdowns. He also rushed for a score in 2013.

11

49ers won’t take him, but Kyler Murray moves will impact Niners’ draft

Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray’s announcement last week that he intends to focus on football made waves in the Bay Area, particularly at the headquarters of the Oakland Athletics.

While the A’s most directly felt the impact of Murray’s apparent decision to bypass the chance to play baseball for them, the ripple effect of Murray’s news made its way to the area’s local football teams.

On the surface, the San Francisco 49ers and Murray won’t have much to do with each other. The Niners have a huge investment in quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and there’s next to no chance that Murray will be on San Francisco’s radar with the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s NFL draft.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

There’s a long way to go until the draft, but many are expecting Ohio State pass-rusher Nick Bosa to be the top overall pick, which, for now, is held by the Arizona Cardinals. Given the 49ers’ need for a dominant edge rusher, Bosa would be an ideal fit.

The Cardinals, meanwhile, have been connected to Murray since video surfaced of new coach Kliff Kingsbury praising Murray last year and saying he’d take him with the top pick.11

Kingsbury has attempted to quell that speculation, saying that Josh Rosen is the guy in Arizona. But you don’t have to look hard to find examples of teams being committed to a quarterback right up until the moment they aren’t. In 2015, the Rams spent months trying to convince the world that they were sticking with Sam Bradford. Then, on the first day of the league year, they traded him to Philadelphia for a package that included Nick Foles.

If, over the next couple of months, Arizona trades Rosen and drafts Murray, that would be the easiest path to giving the Niners a chance to land Bosa.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Even if that doesn’t happen and Arizona stays with Rosen, having Murray in the mix could improve the Niners’ position. With teams like the Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Giants, Denver Broncos and Miami Dolphins in need of quarterbacks — and others, such as the Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers lurking as potential surprise entrants in the derby — the only way to ensure landing the signal-caller they want is to trade up to No. 1.

Simply put, any situation in which someone other than Bosa goes No. 1 overall would be a boon to the Niners, and while Murray’s presence doesn’t guarantee such a scenario, it certainly doesn’t hurt the chances of it happening.

10

Patrick Mahomes inherited clutch gene from his major league dad

To understand how Patrick Mahomes, 23, could remain so composed on his rocket-ship rise to stardom is to know his family’s history when it comes to big games and the poise required to win them.

Nearly two decades before Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs started preparing to face Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game, Mahomes’ father, Pat, was as nervous as a pitcher could be while waiting for that phone to ring in the New York Mets’ bullpen. But once it did ring, and once the caller requested his services, everything changed.nike nfl jerseys for cheap

The Mets had lost eight of nine games at the end of September 1999, a collapse that appeared certain to cost them their first postseason appearance in 11 years. Their manager, Bobby Valentine, assured his players they would still make the playoffs if they could just rediscover the belief they had in each other. The Mets would need to sweep Pittsburgh in the season’s final series for a shot at advancing, and Valentine trusted few Mets more than he trusted Mahomes, a fearless 29-year-old righthander who was about to make the biggest pitches of what would be an 11-year career.10

“For the first time in my life I had a manager who totally believed in me,” recalled Mahomes, who had already pitched for the Twins and Red Sox, and for the Yokohama BayStars in Japan. “Bobby was the first manager who let me be me on my mound.”

Valentine also let his reliever bring his 4-year-old son to work. Mahomes had one of the Mets’ clubhouse guys put together a uniform for young Patrick, who was allowed on the field during batting practice.

“An adorable kid,” Valentine said. “I recall Patrick running around in my clubhouse, jumping up and giving guys high-fives after games. During batting practice Pat would take him into the outfield behind second base.”

Some coaches warned Mahomes that he needed to guard his son as line drives were whistling all over Shea Stadium, but the pitcher thought Patrick already knew how to handle himself on a ballfield. Pat and Patrick used to play a game called 500 that earned a participant 25 points for fielding a ground ball, 50 for fielding a one-hopper, and 100 for catching a fly ball. Patrick figured he needed to run down some 100-pointers during BP if he wanted to finally defeat his dad. He was 5 years old in the 2000 season when he caught his first big-league fly, off the bat of Robin Ventura. “I can still remember him holding up the ball, all excited,” his father said.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

But back in the fall of 1999, times were tense at Shea. On the night of Oct. 1, the Mets and Pirates had tumbled into extra innings when Valentine asked Mahomes to face the middle of the Pittsburgh order.

12

James Bettcher’s first season came with giant limitations

Bettcher is a coach accustomed to leading top-10 defenses, which he did in each of his three seasons as a coordinator in Arizona. He is used to playing uber-aggressively and attacking opposing quarterbacks with blitzes from every direction. His Cardinals defenses were 10th, second and first, respectively, in blitz percentage each of the previous three seasons.

Things were certainly “different” in his first year with the Giants, beginning with Bettcher failing to command a top-10 defense for the first time in his career. It wasn’t what the Giants or Bettcher were expecting when he was hired last offseason. The Giants finished 24th in total defense (371.4 yards per game) and 22nd in weighted DVOA (42 percent).china nike nfl jerseys cheap

Hamstrung by a lack of lack of talent and inexperience, this was an unfamiliar Bettcher defense. The Giants blitzed only 26.3 percent of the defensive snaps, which was 22nd in the NFL. That was significantly less than when Bettcher blitzed 33-45 percent of the time in his three years with the Cardinals.12

“Different place. Different players. Every situation is different,” Shurmur said. “No different than working on offense if you have a different style of quarterback. You have to maximize the strengths of the players you’re working with. Same here. Our roster looks a little bit different than it did in Arizona, so he’s trying to do what he can to try to get the most out of our players.”

Three of the four top-paid players on the roster are on offense. Gettleman used the No. 2 overall pick on running back Saquon Barkley. His top free-agent acquisition was left tackle Nate Solder, who signed the largest contract in NFL history at the time for an offensive lineman, and his biggest move since taking the job was signing star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to a long-term deal that made him the highest-paid wide receiver in NFL history. Four of the Giants’ past five first-round picks were also offense, offense, offense. This team is invested in its offense.nfl cheap jerseys nike

Yet the defense that itself scored three touchdowns in the second half of the season was the primary culprit for 5-11? It’s a tough narrative to accept for what another NFL executive described as a group of “mismatched parts and not many playmakers.”

It seems a strange approach to deflect blame from an offense that took time to get accustomed to Shurmur’s new scheme and get its offensive line in order. The second half of the season was better, but it was already too late.

11

Rockets’ James Harden falls 2 points short of extending 40-point streak

With a missed layup with five seconds remaining, James Harden’s historic scoring five-game run of at least 40 points came to an end in the Houston Rockets’ 110-101 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday night.

“Well, we held [Harden] under 40, so I guess that’s a win,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said.

Harden finished with 38 points on 13-of-35 shooting, including 5-of-17 from 3 and maybe most notably just 7-of-7 from the free throw line.nfl cheap jerseys nike

“Honestly that streak is pretty cool for stats and whatnot, but honestly the win is more important,” Harden said. “So, came up short and now we’ve got another opportunity to go home and play Denver, who’s playing exceptionally well. So we’ve got to regroup.”11

Harden said he was unaware he was two points short of 40 when he drove to the rim down nine with a few seconds left. He had an obvious off night, with coach Mike D’Antoni suggesting there was possibly some lingering emotion hanging on Harden and the team after their stunning overtime win against the Golden State Warriors on Thursday. Harden started slowly, scoring only nine points on 3-of-15 shooting in the first half.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

“My shots were flat in the beginning of the game,” he said. “So I just had to adjust a little bit, get them up. That was another thing, for myself I’ve got to get off to a better start. I picked it up in the third quarter and the second half, but that first half I had the same opportunities I normally get but my shot was just a little flat.”

Harden got it going in the third, scoring 20 in the quarter on 8-of-13 shooting. He had the full arsenal at his disposal — step-back 3s, drives to the rim and, of course, free throws. But after playing the entire third, he sat out the opening of the fourth quarter and didn’t score in the final frame until hitting a 3 with 2:13 left. He got three free throws after an unusual call when Evan Turner fouled PJ Tucker while Harden was taking a 3, and hit a deep 3 with 34 seconds left.

9

West Ham’s Felipe Anderson making a strong case for a role with Tite’s Brazil

The Brazilian, who arrived from Lazio in the summer, is suddenly exceeding expectations in his debut season with West Ham. There were fitful signs of promise in an uncertain start for him and Manuel Pellegrini’s new look lineup.

After just one goal in his first 10 Premier League games, Anderson has now hit the target seven times in his last nine matches. Many of these have been match-winners — like the pair against Southampton on Thursday night that turned defeat into victory. It did him no harm at all that this came in the only match played on the night. here was nothing else to share the spotlight and so, back home, the question is starting to be asked; how long until he has a place in the Brazil squad?cheap nike nfl jerseys china

His chances are clearly increasing. He has been around the squad for a while but to this point, there have probably been three things against him.9

One is his inconsistency. He had an up and down time in five years with Lazio. With no international games until the end of March, he now has to keep producing in order to gain the approval of Brazil coach Tite.

The second blemish is his previous record in the famous yellow shirt, which is hardly impressive. Nearly six years ago, Felipe Anderson was one of the main hopes of a Brazil side that went to Argentina to dispute the South American Under-20 Championships — always an important conveyor belt to the senior side. The tournament was an unmitigated disaster, both for him and for his teammates as Brazil failed to qualify for that year’s Under-20 World Cup. Worse than that, they failed even to reach the decisive second round of the South American competition. And even worse than that, they managed to finish bottom of their group of five. Felipe Anderson made little impact, scoring one goal from the penalty spot.buy nike nfl jerseys cheap

He treasures an Olympic gold medal from the Rio Games of 2016 but it is not a competition that he can look back on with a great deal of pleasure. He was in the starting lineup for the opening game — a dire 0-0 draw against South Africa. he scoreline was the same, and the performance even worse in the next match against Iraq. Felipe Anderson was withdrawn at half-time, and spent the rest of the tournament on the bench. He came on towards the end of the final against Germany, but was not trusted to take a penalty in the shootout.

11

It’s time for Panthers to shut down Cam Newton for the season

It’s not just time to sit Cam Newton for the rest of the season. It’s time for the Carolina Panthers to consider a potential long-term replacement for their franchise quarterback in free agency or the NFL draft.

The uncertainty surrounding lingering problems with Newton’s right shoulder raises many questions that extend beyond Carolina’s six-game losing streak and 1 percent chance of making the playoffs. If the 2015 NFL MVP needs to have a second shoulder surgery in less than two years, what are the long-term implications? Would he miss an entire season, as Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck did in 2017 after having a similar surgery?cheap nfl jerseys china nike

And if surgery isn’t the answer, would resting Newton for the next two games and the entire offseason assure this issue won’t reappear in 2019?11

Newton played well the next two weeks to help Carolina improve to 6-2. Even after the team fell to 6-5, the 2010 Heisman Trophy winner boasted he was playing the best football of his career. Then he threw four interceptions the next game in Tampa Bay.

Newton has now thrown at least one interception in six straight games after throwing one in only three of the first eight.

Newton’s arm strength has been such an issue that backup quarterback Taylor Heinicke has come in for a Hail Mary pass three times.

“You can’t rub magic dust on it, go to this or that person, have the placebo things done where you think certain things are what they are — and you come out and you’re still the same,” Newton said. “Over the past couple of weeks, nothing has really changed.”nfl nike jerseys for cheap

One thing has. The Panthers (6-8) are for all practical purposes out of the playoff picture, and they’re focused on next season with two games remaining against Atlanta and New Orleans.

That puts the onus on coach Ron Rivera and the medical staff. As of Tuesday, Rivera wasn’t willing to commit to sitting Newton the final two games because the Panthers have a “slim glimmer” of hope of making the playoffs.