Dwyane Wade secures Cavs’ final starting job for Cleveland’s opening night

Carlos Correa homered for the Astros as they took a first-inning lead for the third straight game. Up 3-0 with two on and one out in the second, Houston chased Doug Fister and Joe Kelly retired George Springer before Josh Reddick hit a long fly ball to right field that Mookie Betts caught at the top of the short wall to end the inning.

“It would have been a great spot for us to get another three runs and big momentum for us. And that seemed to be big momentum for those guys,” Reddick said. “They come up after that and they take the lead. So I just l wish the park was a little bit shorter.”

Said ace lefty Chris Sale: “There’s a lot of room for debate and would’ves and should’ves. He gave me every opportunity to succeed. I can say the same for everybody on this team.”

And from closer Craig Kimbrel: “He was there for us. He watches us all year long. He knows each and every guy in here. He knows what we’re made of. For him to go out every night and put it together and try to put the best team on the field, I think he did a great job.”

As a member of Generation X, following sports — especially football — was very different back when I was a kid. There were no satellite dishes perched atop your roof ready to bring whatever sporting event you desired into your home. There was no Red Zone channel that could show you each and every important play from all over the country. There weren’t even any bye weeks until 1990, so you always got your local team, week in and week out, and that was pretty much it.

Devers, who turns 21 on Oct. 24, is the youngest Red Sox player to homer in the postseason and one of only six players in major league history to hit a postseason home run before their 21st birthday.

The others: Mickey Mantle, Andruw Jones, Miguel Cabrera, Manny Machado and Bryce Harper.
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Hundley will never be Aaron Rodgers, but he doesn’t have to be.

This also looked intriguing months ago Andrew Luck vs. Marcus Mariota. Unless Mariota’s hamstring gets better very fast, it’ll be Jacoby Brissett vs. Matt Cassel, instead. The Colts are still closer to being the team that got blown out by the Seahawks in their last primetime appearance than the team that beat the 49ers last week (after blowing a fourth-quarter lead). Cassel, meanwhile … is Cassel. Don’t feel guilty about nodding off early.

Kaepernick’s potency with both arm and legs tormented the Packers in the past, beating them twice in the playoffs with the 49ers. Now McCarthy and the Packers may have to produce a game plan that would be perfectly tailored to him.

The onus is instead on McCarthy to change the offense into one that has beaten him many times before. The Packers are not done, they just have to be different.

The Packers had a devastating loss Sunday, and it wasn’t the 23-10 defeat in Minnesota. The Packers lost starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers and now hope backup Brett Hundley can do enough to get Green Bay into the playoffs for the ninth straight year.

While the Packers lost to the Vikings, the Patriots won again as Tom Brady reached another milestone, but he wasn’t exactly impressed. Redskins linebacker Zach Brown was brutally honest about a penalty that went in his team’s favor; Jaguars kicker Jason Myers was also sarcastically honest in response to a question about his missed field goals; the Jets are not happy about the touchdown that was overturned in the seven-point loss to the Patriots; and Cardinals coach Bruce Arians loves his veteran playerstigers_054

These Lions are here to roar in NFC North for a long time

They say Detroit is making a comeback. Consider its NFL team, the Lions, to be way ahead on that front.

The 2017 Lions, at 3-1, are likely headed to the NFC playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time in more than 20 years. They are bound to end their 26-year playoff win drought soon.

Much of the attention, like it is with any consistent contending team in the league, is on the quarterback-coach combination of Matthew Stafford and Jim Caldwell. They have been key in reviving each other’s careers and were rewarded with contract extensions — meaning they’ll be around for a lot longer together.

Don’t confuse this edition of the Lions with the 2012 and ’15 teams, which reverted to being less than lovable losers. There are many reasons to think the luau in Honolulu Blue will have some staying power this time.

The Jets have a defense better than expected. The Browns have an offense worse than expected. Josh McCown gets a little revenge here while DeShone Kizer struggles with limited help against a team that’s stopping the pass well.

Frank Gore takes advantage of good timing against his former team to push up to No. 7 on the all-time rushing list ahead of Eric Dickerson. His replacement in San Francisco, Carlos Hyde, will keep the visitors in it, but it’s easier to trust Jacoby Brissett and Adam Vinatieri at home vs. Brian Hoyer and Robbie Gould on the road.x (19)

Biggest NFL injuries of Week 5

J.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans: Watt suffered a left leg injury while trying to make a play on Alex Smith during the first quarter of Sunday night’s game against the Chiefs, and remained on the ground while he was examined by Texans medical personnel. Eventually, Watt rose and made his way slowly to the sideline while attempting to keep weight off that leg. He then was carted off to the locker room for further evaluation. The team quickly announced that Watt was out for the remainder of the game, and he left the stadium in an ambulance. Later during the game, the Texans announced that Watt had sustained a tibial plateau fracture in his left leg, and he’ll be out indefinitely.

Adam Jones, CB, Cincinnati Bengals: A lower-back injury plagued Jones throughout the first half of Sunday’s game, and eventually he departed for the locker room with Bengals training staff. He was originally deemed questionable to return before being downgraded to out.

The Browns squandered four scoring opportunities during a sometimes comical — and difficult to watch — first half in which they dominated statistically, but couldn’t get out of their own way.

Crowell fumbled a pitch inside New York’s 10, Gonzalez missed two field goals and Kizer threw an interception at the goal line.

Jets: RB Bilal Powell exited in the second quarter with a calf injury, forcing third-stringer Elijah McGuire into action. Starter Matt Forte was inactive for the second straight week with turf toe.

Browns: LB James Burgess sustained a left knee injury in the fourth and walked off. … Starting LB Jamie Collins missed his third straight game with a concussion.
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NFL to change ‘May 16 rule’ for rookie eligibility

The NFL has agreed to drop the rule that prevented rookies from joining their new NFL teams until their school’s final exams were completed.

According to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the new “May 16 rule” agreement will allow all rookies to join their NFL team around May 16, whether they are still enrolled in school or not.

The old rule had been adopted in 1990 to ensure student-athletes remained in school and finished their course work, rather than drop out to join their team.

Bradford, who suffered a noncontact injury to his left knee during a Week 1 win over New Orleans Saints and last practiced on Sept. 21, on Friday said the knee has “come a long ways” after he returned to practice Thursday.

Bradford, who flew to Florida on Sept. 22 to seek a second opinion from orthopedic specialist Dr. James Andrews, was given last week off to rest and rehabilitate his injury. Sources earlier confirmed to ESPN that scans revealed no structural damage and that surgery wasn’t required.

After getting the second opinion, Bradford is hopeful this won’t be an issue that continues to surface.

“Anytime you go for a second opinion there’s always a little bit of anxiety because you’re not quite sure in how that’s going to go or what that conversation is going to be like,” he said. “I would say after going down there it was definitely good news.x (13)

Adam Gase made the biggest coaching mistake of NFL Week 2 (on purpose!)

After postponing their Week 1 contest due to Hurricane Irma, the Miami Dolphins opened their season by taking on the Los Angeles Chargers in StubHub Center. It was a low-scoring, back-and-forth affair, with the Dolphins eventually gaining a two-point lead with 1:05 left in the game.

And then things got weird, leading to arguably the worst coaching decision of Week 2. Or was it? Let’s go over the end of the game.

Tolbert, along with McDermott, Joe Webb, and Kaelin Clay, will face their former team this Sunday in Charlotte. Earlier this week, Tolbert said the game means a lot to him.

Aside from the fact that the field goal was awesome, it was also his 12th consecutive made field goal from at least 50 yards and that’s pretty cool too.

The Texans were already down a right tackle to start the season after Derek Newton tore both patellar tendons last October. Kendall Lamm has been a backup in Houston after joining the Texans as an undrafted free agent following the 2015 draft. He was hoping to earn the starting spot at right tackle, but Brown’s holdout made it necessary for Lamm to switch to the left side. He had such a rough day against the Jaguars that he was benched:

That left Breno Giacomini to man the right side. Giacomini actually had a couple of solid seasons with the Seattle Seahawks back in 2013 and 2014. He started each game — including two postseason games — for Seattle in 2013. In 2014, he missed seven games due to injury but started the other nine regular season and postseason contests, including Super Bowl XLIX. But in his new role in Houston, it’s not going well for him, either:

When both tackles aren’t able to hold their own, the guards have to try to compensate, which makes things harder for the center. It’s felt across the entire line.
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Marshawn Lynch looks ‘better’ and ‘quicker’ than ever to Jets coach Todd Bowles

Even at 31, Marshawn Lynch can run the football. And to the Jets, who are tasked with trying to stop him in Week 2, the Raiders running back has never looked better.

The five-time Pro Bowler who came out of retirement in the offseason to play in Oakland rushed for 72 yards on 18 carries in the Raiders’ 26-16 win over the Titans last week. Todd Bowles was impressed.

Watt shook off any discomfort his left ring finger was causing him, even during those last three plays. There were no signs of the digit bothering him when he made this emphatic game-clinching tackle on the last play of the evening.

After checking his hand, Watt confirmed his finger is indeed still part of it, “so that’s all that matters,” he said.

Any injury to their defensive star is enough to give Texans fans heartburn – Watt played in just three regular-season games last season because of back issues – but he’s got 10 days for his finger to heal before Houston’s Week 3 game in New England.

Besides, does anyone really think a finger – detached or not – would keep Watt off the field?

And in order for us to be great again as a country, and not have all this racism and bigotry and injustice, we all need to realize that there is a problem and be there for each other to correct the problem.” Ingram was one of at least 10 Saints players who sat during the anthem.
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Tom Brady calls James White one of best teammates he’s ever played with in New England

Tom Brady is the type of quarterback who makes his teammates better. But every once in awhile he acknowledges someone special that helps him on the field, too.

After dismantling the Saints 36-20 Sunday in New Orleans, Brady spoke candidly about running back James White.

“I’ve played with a lot of great teammates, and James (White) is right up there with the best,” Brady said, via The Boston Sports Journal.

White, who finished Sunday’s game with eight receptions for 85 yards, and two carries for 11 yards, played a pivotal role with New England suffering through a depleted receiving corps.

Brady threw for 447 yards and three touchdowns against New Orleans’ shambolic defense, and White served as his safety valve just like he did in last season’s Super Bowl win over the Falcons.

Jacoby Brissett, QB, Indianapolis Colts: Thanks largely to a pair of rushing touchdowns, Brissett managed a career-best 27.76 fantasy points, just 4.50 shy of his total in his previous three NFL starts combined (32.26). It was, however, still likely more of a statement about the Cleveland Browns’ defense than Brissett himself. FYI: The Seattle Seahawks are next up on Brissett’s schedule.

Todd Gurley, RB, Rams: Though his was a Thursday night performance, it’s one that shouldn’t be overlooked among “winners.” Gurley’s 37.9 PPR fantasy points were the 10th most by any running back in a Thursday game since at least 1950, and they were the third most at the position since Thursday Night Football began in 2006, trailing only Kareem Hunt’s 45.6 in 2017 Week 1 and Brian Westbrook’s 40.0 in 2008 Week 13. They also gave Gurley a new career high, as did his 32.9 non-PPR fantasy points. He continues to look like a borderline RB1 thanks to his role as the team’s clear goal-line back, though his 3.8 yards-per-carry average through three games should serve as a reminder not to get overzealous with your expectations from him.
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The NFL has appealed Judge Mazzant’s ruling to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The NFL has also filed a motion in Mazzant’s federal court in Texas to change the jurisdiction to a New York City federal court that has historically leaned toward the league’s perspective.

The appeals process and the federal lawsuit aren’t trying to establish guilt or innocence. Carolina Panthers was never charged with a crime. These processes simply seek to establish whether or not the NFL acted in a manner that is consistent with its personal conduct policy. Mazzant doesn’t believe it did.

“The NFL’s actions demonstrate that from the very beginning of the decision-making process, a cloud of fundamental unfairness followed Elliott,” Mazzant wrote in his decision. “Unfortunately, this cloud followed Elliott into the arbitration proceedings.”

It’s difficult to project how the appeals court will rule, but the NFL will file an emergency stay with the appeals court if Mazzant declines the appeal or does not deliver a rule by Thursday.

The league is seeking a quick decision for a process that often takes months:

Elliott’s legal team issued a response shortly thereafter, via NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

“The NFL’s latest maneuvering appears to be indicative of a league with an agenda: trying to navigate a public relations crisis rather than focus on fairness and fact finding,” the statement read.

What happened? Elliott was handed the suspension following an investigation into domestic violence allegations made against him in July 2016. The investigation lasted more than a year, and Elliott immediately appealed the disciplinary ruling.

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NFL Panic Index 2017, Week 2: The Giants can’t win without Odell Beckham Jr.

Last season, the Giants had the Cowboys’ number. Until the Dallas starters all got the final week of the season off against the Eagles, the Giants had been the only team to hand them a loss — and they did it twice.

One week into the new season, 2017 is already different. Not only did the Cowboys dominate the Week 1 matchup, but the Giants looked completely lifeless on offense. A 46-yard drive in garbage time got the offense above the 200-yard mark, and if not for a field goal in the third quarter, they would have been shut out.

Then again, the Giants were missing their most valuable weapon on offense: Odell Beckham Jr. The dynamic wide receiver missed just his second game since 2015, and just like the first time, the Giants couldn’t get much going on offense. Eli Manning especially missed his top receiver. Manning threw for just 220 yards and was picked off once Sunday night. Two seasons ago against the Vikings, he totaled just 234 yards without Beckham in a 49-17 blowout loss.

And the Bills are sitting at No. 2, and the Patriots are third after losing to the Chiefs in Week 1 and beating the Saints in Week 2, which is a dubious honor. Nobody’s surprised that the Jets are bring up the rear here.

Perhaps my love stems from the fact that I grew up a soccer player, an undersized one at that (what up, late puberty!), and the only way I could have any type of participatory fantasy regarding the NFL was to imagine myself a kicker. Other kids my age dreamed of being Joe Montana, tossing that perfect spiral to the end zone. Others saw themselves as Lawrence Taylor, bursting into the backfield and laying down a bone-crunching hit.
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