12

Without Chris Harris Jr. and Emmanuel Sanders, Broncos must lean on youth

Denver Broncos coach Vance Joseph has watched his team overcome obstacles this season, using words like “grit” and “fight” to describe his players’ efforts.

Now they’ll need those two things more than ever, as wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders was lost for the season Wednesday with what team officials believe is a torn left Achilles tendon. Sanders suffered the injury in Wednesday’s practice, or roughly 72 hours after cornerback Chris Harris Jr., a three-time Pro Bowl selection, fractured a fibula against the Cincinnati Bengals.

That’s one of their premier players on offense and one of their premier players on defense out with injuries just as the team had finally clawed its way back into the playoff race.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

“This is the 2018 Denver Broncos,” said quarterback Case Keenum. “Nothing’s been handed to us — we’re going to earn everything we get.”12

It also means a team that has leaned, and leaned hard, on its rookie class will do so again. Because while necessity may be the mother of invention, desperation might be the dad. In Sanders’ case, he was already in a wide receivers meeting room each day with four other players who either were rookies or had spent much of their rookie years in 2017 on the Broncos’ practice squad.

That was the choice the Broncos had largely already made when they shipped Demaryius Thomas to the Houston Texans on Oct. 30. At the time it put Sanders on the depth chart with two rookies (Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton) and two inexperienced players (Tim Patrick and River Cracraft).

The Broncos claimed Andre Holmes, a 30-year-old in his seventh season, off waivers less than an hour after they had finished Wednesday’s practice. The Broncos saw Holmes plenty during his four seasons with the Oakland Raiders, and Holmes had a touchdown catch against the Broncos last season when he was with the Buffalo Bills.

But Holmes or no Holmes, it will be the youth movement at wide receiver that determines how the Broncos move the ball in the passing game in the weeks to come.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

“When you see somebody go down, it sucks, but each person who has been hurt will tell you that the person replacing them has to go in and do their job,” Sutton said. “If they don’t, the team ultimately suffers and nobody wants to see the team suffer.”

What that means for the Broncos is Sutton has to be, and play like, a No. 1 receiver. He’s won some matchups this season as a complementary player, often physically overwhelming defensive backs, but now he’s going to get a steady diet of top coverage players who would have been covering somebody else if the Broncos were anything resembling a healthy team.

12

Saints’ offense erupts with five first-half TDs in win vs. Bengals

Bold prediction: The New Orleans Saints will keep their spot as the No. 1 team in ESPN’s NFL Power Rankings this week.

The Saints (8-1) scored on each of their first nine possessions Sunday in a 51-14 rout of the Cincinnati Bengals — – making them just the third team to do so since 2001, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

The only thing that stopped them was the clock. Backup QB Teddy Bridgewater started taking a knee after the two-minute warning.cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

Apparently the Saints’ offense was just getting warmed up during the first half of the 2018 season.

They scored touchdowns in each of their first five possessions Sunday to take a 35-7 halftime lead. And they have now scored a total of 96 points over the past two weeks to leapfrog the Kansas City Chiefs as the top-scoring team in the NFL this season (36.7 points per game).12

“We just found our swag, we found our stride,” said Saints running back Alvin Kamara, who scored two more touchdowns to bring his season total to 14. “This team is persistent, consistent, we take advantage of opportunity. The schemes that Sean [Payton] and those guys upstairs, the offensive coordinator [Pete Carmichael Jr.] put in place, we execute. We execute and we make sure we handle our business, from top to bottom, no matter who’s in.

“Everybody knows their role and plays their role. Nobody’s trying to one-up each other.”

The Saints have now won eight straight games as they head toward a showdown with the reigning Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles in New Orleans next week.

But they took it up a few notches on Sunday.cheap official nike nfl jerseys

Drew Brees was 22 of 25 passing for 265 yards and three touchdowns — including two to receiver Michael Thomas. Mark Ingram had 162 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown. And Kamara had 102 yards from scrimmage, along with his two TDs.

Ingram, Kamara and Thomas were all throwing up “Xs” in the end zone during the first half as an homage to receiver Dez Bryant, who tore his Achilles tendon Friday just two days after joining the team.

11

Which players are benefiting most from a bump in usage rate?

On a night long associated with reanimation, Derrick Rose’s season-long reawakening reached dizzying heights against the Utah Jazz on Halloween.

Already averaging 14.3 points and 4.9 rebounds per game, the 2011 MVP put on a throwback performance that also marked a career high with 50 points, plus he added 6 assists, 4 3-pointers, 2 steals, 4 rebounds and a win-preserving block.

As with any player in a relatively new situation (he appeared in only nine games for the Timberwolves last season), it’s important to track how said player’s role is evolving. Trades, free agency, the draft, injury (or recovery from injury), a new coaching staff, dissension in the rotational ranks —nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal  there are many factors that can suddenly thrust a player into a new role.

A reshuffled role can radically alter a player’s fantasy outlook. In Rose’s case, several forces have coalesced to reignite Rose’ statistical fortunes. Rose’s long-term recovery from injury, the roster-wide ripple effect of the Jimmy Butler situation, his relationship with coach Tom Thibodeau, and Jeff Teague’s injury have intersected to give Rose a real chance to turn back the clock on a night-in, night-out basis.11

Hopefully, you were fortunate enough to pick up Rose’s services before last night. It’s been clear from the jump that Rose could prove tp be more than Jeff Teague insurance for fantasy managers.

It’s a common fantasy trap to place too much worth on early-season performance. It’s also a common fantasy trap to be lured into the promise of acquiring the services of a former big name. But in this case, there’s been one second-level stat that portended Rose’s revival: usage rate.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

If you’re unfamiliar with usage rate, our NBA Analytics Glossary defines it as such:

“The percentage of a player’s possessions in which he was directly involved in the attempt at a basket (via a shot attempt, free throw attempt) or a turnover. Can give fantasy players an expectation of volume for certain counting statistics.”

Usage rate’s impact within fantasy is easy to assess: The more you have the ball in your hands, the more you’re liable to accrue production. (If you hail from the world of fantasy football, think of usage rate as touches, carries, targets.)

Any usage rate above 30.0 is elite. Fourteen players cracked a 30.0 usage rate in 2017-18. It’s no shocker that star players dominate usage rate. Lead roles demand possession. Last season’s leaders: James Harden (36.3), Russell Westbrook (34.1), Joel Embiid (33.5), DeMarcus Cousins (32.3), LeBron James (31.6) and Devin Booker (31.4).

But what position dominates usage rate’s upper middle class? Point guard. One look at the second tier in usage rate (25.0-29.9) underscores the point guard’s importance in fantasy basketball.

12

Riyad Mahrez fits Pep Guardiola’s template while adding something new to City

In basic terms, the reigning Premier League champions’ purchase of a former PFA Footballer of the Year, for a club record fee, was clearly a huge statement of intent. But when Manchester City completed the signing of Riyad Mahrez in the summer, there was a legitimate question about his precise role in Pep Guardiola’s starting XI.nfl cheap jerseys nike

After all, City had just won the Premier League with a record 100 points, courtesy of a side based around two outright wingers, Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling, stretching the play. This was arguably the most fundamental part of City’s attacking approach, and when Guardiola occasionally played Bernardo Silva — a left-footed midfielder, always coming inside — on the right flank, more for the sake of rotation than tactics, City’s attacking wasn’t quite so dynamic.

Mahrez was a curious fit. Somewhere between an inverted winger and a No. 10, the Algerian was a dribbler accustomed to playing on the counter-attack and carrying the ball directly towards goal, and the outside-right position at City demanded entirely different characteristics. So far, though, Mahrez has proved his worth. After a slow start at the Etihad, where he was gradually eased into the side, now Mahrez is increasingly looking like one of City’s key players. His tactical role at City can be summarised concisely by assessing the nature of his four league goals so far.12

Mahrez scored two in a 5-0 thrashing of Cardiff City, one in a 5-0 victory over Burnley, and then came his first major goal for City, the winner in Monday’s 1-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur. Those four goals, stylistically, can be divided into two; Mahrez has scored two pairs of identical goals.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

His second strike against Cardiff, and his late goal against Burnley, were the type of goal we’ve come to expect from left-footed right wingers, strikes that can now be described, and universally understood, as Arjen Robben-esque.

Against Cardiff, Mahrez collected a loose ball on the edge of the box, cut inside by using the outside of his favoured left foot, and then whipped a shot into the far corner. His goal against Burnley was a more elegant variation: collecting a forward pass from Fernandinho, 25 yards out in an inside-right position, Mahrez touched the ball once with the inside of his left foot, then three times with the outside to work the ball into a shooting position, opened out his body, before majestically bending the ball into the top corner. Joe Hart didn’t move. It was the archetypal goal from an inverted winger.

But playing purely in that manner would mean City losing their most prolific route to goal from last season. Time and time again, City unlocked opposition defences through Sane and Sterling, with one winger charging down the outside, sending a low cross into the box, and the other winger arriving at the far post to convert, often into an open goal.

12

Why Jake DeBrusk is more vital to the Bruins than you might think

It wasn’t the swine flu. Although Jake DeBrusk admits it certainly made for a more compelling tale from the road after the Boston Bruins returned from China.

“I don’t think it was actually swine flu,” he said. “But it felt like swine flu. Very similar. Very awful.”

As the Bruins went through China during the preseason, with games in Shenzhen and Beijing, everything was going through their 21-year-old winger. “We went on a three-and-a-half-hour bus ride to the airport and then a flight for 12 hours after that. That was tough.”cheap nfl jerseys china nike

He was impressive in stretches last season, with 16 goals and 27 assists in 70 games, playing big minutes with center David Krejci on the team’s second line. He managed 143 shots on goal, fifth among Bruins forwards, and picked up a few votes for the Calder Trophy. But he was a rookie, and with that inexperience came bumps in the road, such as his one assist in six games and five games without a point.12

The role DeBrusk is playing for the Bruins this season is a critical one. His performance as the second-line winger could influence everything from lineup decisions to whether GM Don Sweeney feels the need to go shopping for another winger, as he did in acquiring Rick Nash last season. As DeBrusk’s sophomore campaign gets rolling, it’s that dependability that coach Bruce Cassidy needs to see.

“What we’re looking for is a little more consistency on the nights when the offense isn’t there,” he told ESPN last week.

“Saying that young guys disappear is maybe a little unfair. But sometimes they’re not as dialed in as they need to be. Mentally, they’re not as strong as the older guys, who know there are going to be rainy days. Some rainy weeks and months. So you just have to find a way to contribute. That’s what happens with the younger guys. They have a level of success, and that’s what they want every night, but life doesn’t work that way.”china nike nfl jerseys cheap

DeBrusk knows this. That’s why he has sought council on how to handle what he has called “some ups and downs” in his first NHL season. “I listen to the veterans here. [Krejci] was helping me out, saying stuff that he went through. Obviously, he’s played for a while. He understands the game,” DeBrusk said.

12

Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola apologises to Gabriel Jesus after Riyad Mahrez penalty miss

The result leaves City top going into the international break, but only above rivals Liverpool and Chelsea on goal difference.

However, Guardiola was happy with the point after losing his last three games against Jurgen Klopp’s side, and having done it at a ground where City haven’t won in 15 years.cheap nike nfl jerseys free shipping

“It is a point. We were close, more than ever to winning here but it is better than last season when we lose and especially when we try to be ourselves all the time,” he added. “We compete really, really good. We had our chance. It’s what it is.12

“I am so comfortable with the performance we have done. They didn’t have one shot on target. In Anfield, that is so complicated.”

Guardiola admitted City played a much slower game than in his previous visits to Anfield to restrict Liverpool’s ability to punish any mistakes — describing Klopp’s side as the best in the world at it.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

“Yeah, if you play so quick they are much better than us,” he said. “We want to create but when you make a mistake … If it is an open game at Anfield, you don’t even have one percent of a chance because they are so good, they play for that.

“We controlled it through Riyad, Bernardo [Silva], the guys to give the extra pass. Up and down they are maybe, no I’m pretty sure, the best team in the world in these transitions, offensive, defensive, it is built for that. In that situation, they are much better.”

12

Mauro Manotas leads Dynamo to first U.S. Open Cup in club history

Mauro Manotas scored twice off assists by Alberth Elis in the first half to lead the host Houston Dynamo to a 3-0 victory over the Philadelphia Union in the final of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup at BBVA Compass Stadium on Wednesday.

It was the Dynamo’s first Open Cup title and the first trophy for the organization since winning MLS Cups in 2006 and 2007.

There hadn’t been a first-time winner of the Open Cup since 2001.nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal

The Dynamo added an own goal by Philadelphia defender Auston Trusty in the 65th minute, and Joe Willis made five saves for the shutout.

Philadelphia is still looking for its first championship in any competition since joining Major League Soccer as an expansion team in 2010. The Union also lost Open Cup finals in 2014 and 2015.12

Manotas, a 23-year-old Colombian, has 14 goals in MLS this season and led all Open Cup scorers with six goals.

He put the Dynamo ahead in the 4th minute, about 30 seconds after the Union’s Fabrice-Jean Picault had a goal disallowed for being offside.

Elis then dribbled down the right side of the box to deliver a service in front of the goal. Manotas went to his knees to head the ball past goalkeeper Andre Blake.

Manotas made it 2-0 in the 25th with a brilliant run starting 40 yards out. He then struck the ball to the lower left corner from 18 yards.cheap nike nfl jerseys china

Houston earned an automatic berth to the CONCACAF Champions League for the chance to represent the CONCACAF region in the 2019 FIFA Club World Cup.

The 2018 Open Cup began with 97 teams from all levels of American soccer from amateurs to professionals. Houston receives $300,000 to share. Philadelphia pockets $100,000.

10

Beware, NFL: Eagles defense may have gotten even better

It was eerie how closely the ending of Eagles-Falcons Thursday night resembled the final moments of the divisional playoff game between these two teams in January.

The Eagles holding onto a small lead late in the fourth quarter. The Falcons knocking on the door. Fourth-and-goal. The game on the line. Everyone in the building knowing the ball was going to Julio Jones in the end zone.

“It was déjà vu all over again,” said cornerback Jalen Mills, who was on Jones the last time around, pestering the superstar receiver as Matt Ryan’s offering went off his fingertips and out of bounds to punch Philly’s ticket to the NFC Championship Game.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

It was a different play call Thursday. The Falcons went with an empty set, and had Jones in the slot instead of outside. But as safety Malcolm Jenkins said afterwards, all you had to know was that Jones was on the field and the ball was being thrown into the end zone. He sprinted to his left, and this time, Ryan and Jones connected, but cornerback Ronald Darby made sure Jones landed out of bounds. Ball game. Again.10

“Definitely,” said Jenkins, on whether he felt history repeating during that Falcons drive. “But that gives you a little bit of comfort, because we’ve been here before, so nobody’s panicking, nobody’s worried or stressed. Just do your job, line up and play.”

“Fletcher is a… tremendous, tremendous player,” coach Doug Pederson said. “I think with the additions of [DT] Haloti Ngata, [DE] Michael Bennett, [DE] Derek Barnett in his second year, [DE] Chris Long, I think having everybody on that D-line, on that rotating basis, keeps guys fresh and keeps a little pressure off of Fletcher just a little bit. He’s a strong, powerful guy, and he took [Falcons C Alex] Mack, the center, one time and got up under his shoulder pad on a move and got after the passer, and very disruptive in the pocket. Those are things that you like to see from your top players.”

Jim Schwartz’s defense ranked fourth in opponent yards (306.5), points per game (18.4) and takeaways (31) last season. While D-linemen Vinny Curry and Beau Allen and slot corner Patrick Robinson departed this offseason, he’s added a pair of proven vets in Bennett and Ngata along the defensive front, and now has the services of corner Sidney Jones and LB Jordan Hicks, who missed much of 2017 with Achilles injuries.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

The defense is loaded with talent, has another year in Schwartz’s system under its belt, and now carries additional wisdom gained through its Super Bowl run. For at least the first week, it carried the weight as Pederson’s offense struggled to get on track.

9

Jaguars all-in with Blake Bortles, even if rest of NFL isn’t

The NFL season was still several days away, but there was linebacker Telvin Smith, doing what he and numerous other Jacksonville Jaguars players did seemingly every week last season: defending Blake Bortles.

Opposing players, analysts and experts haven’t been harshly critical or insulting of Bortles — yet. But everyone, including Bortles, knows that will come again at some point in 2018, and there’s just a lingering, general feeling of contempt about the Jaguars quarterback: The team reached the AFC title game in spite of him last season, and he will be the reason they won’t get back there this season.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

Smith was in the midst of making a point that there are numerous quarterbacks who haven’t even won a playoff game, yet alone reached a conference title game, when he stopped talking, pau9

That’s what Smith and his teammates believe. So do executive vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin, general manager Dave Caldwell and coach Doug Marrone. It’s why they didn’t pursue Kirk Cousins, Sam Bradford or Case Keenum in free agency. It’s also why they didn’t trade for Nick Foles or Alex Smith.

Even if the rest of the NFL, analysts and experts, and a large segment of their own fans think otherwise, the Jaguars believe they can reach and win a Super Bowl with Bortles.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

“We all have confidence in him,” center Brandon Linder said. “We knew that [last year’s success] was going to happen. I know this year he’s going to be just as [good]. We’re all excited, not only for Blake but for everyone on this team.”

8

Sources: After 16 seasons, Spurs’ Manu Ginobili seriously considering retirement

San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili, a future Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer, is seriously considering retirement and plans to meet with coach Gregg Popovich in the coming days to discuss his future, league sources told ESPN.cheap nfl nike jerseys free shipping

Ginobili, 41, has been working out regularly at the Spurs’ practice facility and hasn’t made a final decision on the coming season, but sources say that he’s strongly confronting the possible end to an historic 16-season run with the Spurs that includes four NBA championships.8

Popovich is traveling back to San Antonio from Europe, where he recently participated in the league’s Basketball Without Borders event in Belgrade. The Spurs are hopeful that Ginobili will want to return for a 17th NBA season and are allowing him to take all the time he needs to make a decision, league sources said.

The Spurs lost his longtime teammate, Tony Parker, to the Charlotte Hornets in free agency, and traded Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green to Toronto for DeMar DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl.

Ginobili is one of the most decorated international players in basketball history, a two-time NBA All-Star, an Olympic gold medalist for Argentina and a Euroleague MVP. Ginobili has played 1,057 regular season and 218 playoff games with the Spurs, ranking in the franchise’s top five all-time in games, points (14,043), assists (4,001) and steals (1,392)

Ginobili averaged 8.9 points and 20 minutes a game for the Spurs last season. Ginobili’s unconventional and spectacular style, including a frequent flair for the dramatic, helped define an unprecedented modern era of Spurs dominance along with longtime teammates Tim Duncan and Parker. Ginobili was the 57th overall pick in the 1999 NBA draft, starring in Europe before joining the Spurs for his rookie NBA season in 2002.cheap nike jerseys nfl