Browse Month by April 2018
Pittsburgh Steelers

Jake Arrieta pulled after 4 innings in Phillies debut Sunday

Jake Arrieta lasted just four innings in his Philadelphia Phillies debut Sunday. The right-hander was lifted for a pinch hitter after throwing 74 pitches.

Arrieta did not appear to suffer an injury and was in the on-deck circle with his helmet on in the bottom of the fourth.

But with the score tied 3-3 and no runners on base with one out, Phillies manager Gabe Kapler replaced Arrieta with pinch hitter Pedro Florimon. The Phillies went on to lose to the Marlins 6-3.

“I was erratic at first,” Arrieta said. “Got through four innings, pretty crisp in the last three. Very optimistic moving forward.”

Arrieta expects to throw 85 to 90 pitches in his next outing.

“We want to make sure he’s healthy and strong,” Kapler said. “We’re all on the same page. It was a great performance.”

Arrieta made headlines last month when he signed a three-year, $75 million deal with the Phillies, ending his extended stay on the free-agent market.

The Cleveland Cavaliers will sign 13-year NBA veteran Kendrick Perkins with their final roster spot for the playoffs, league sources told ESPN.

Cleveland will sign Perkins on Wednesday, the final day of the regular season, just as it did in 2016 when guard Dahntay Jones was added, and in 2017 when both Jones and center Edy Tavares were added for the Cavs’ playoff run.

McCollum said Portland is still in great position.

“We’re good,” McCollum said. “If you had told me that we have 48 wins and have two games left and a chance to finish in third place, I would have told you I’ll take it. Considering where we’re at, there’s no excuses for injuries and stuff like that, but I feel like we’re heading in the right direction heading to the playoffs. We should be fully healthy or close to fully healthy and I think that will make a difference.”cardinals_052

Los Angeles Chargers

Alex Ovechkin finishes as NHL’s leading goal scorer for seventh time

Alex Ovechkin scored twice to give him an NHL-leading 49 goals as the Capitals beat the New Jersey Devils 5-3 Saturday night in each team’s regular-season finale.

Serenaded by chants of “We want 50,” Ovechkin wrapped up his seventh Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy as the league’s top goal scorer and came one goal short of his eighth 50-goal season. Ovechkin, 32, scored for the third consecutive game. He is the oldest player to lead the NHL in goals since Phil Esposito in 1974-75 at age 33.

By beating the Devils in regulation, the Metropolitan Division-champion Capitals ensured they wouldn’t face New Jersey in the first round of the playoffs.

Playing without MVP front-runner Taylor Hall, New Jersey fell to the second wild card in the Eastern Conference. The Devils will open on the road against the Atlantic Division winner — either the Boston Bruins or the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Wentz, 25, threw for 3,296 yards and ranked second in the NFL in touchdown passes with 33 to just seven interceptions despite missing the final three games of the regular season and Philadelphia’s eventual Super 52 win over the Patriots.

Finishing in first place puts some pressure on the Capitals, but it’s nothing like in years past. More than anything, there is urgency to win, with Ovechkin 32 and having three years remaining on his contract.

“We all know what we’re playing for is to win a championship, and I’m hoping we do it this year,” owner Ted Leonsis said. “I’m hoping we do it within his contract time.”

Columbus is a tough first-round matchup for the Capitals, but their play down the stretch makes a long playoff run possible if they get strong goaltending from Braden Holtby or Philipp Grubauer. From the net out, Washington looks like a contender thanks to the trade-deadline additions of defensemen Michal Kempny and Jakub Jerabek and the play of centers Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nicklas Backstrom.cardinals_098

Pittsburgh Steelers

Mike Pereira: NFL’s new heads-up rule ‘impossible to officiate’

Former NFL vice president of officiating and current Fox Sports analyst Mike Pereira says the new rule introduced Tuesday that will penalize or even eject players for lowering their helmets to initiate contact will be impossible to officiate.

You’ll see the same things happen with this as we’ve seen with the crown of the helmet rule: very few calls, Pereira said in an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio. I think most of it will be taken care of after the fact with potential fines.

This has very little requirement to it. This is simply if you lower your head to initiate contact and you make contact with an opponent it’s a foul.

The new rule comes after NFL’s research showed a 13.5 percent increase in diagnosed concussions from 2016 to 2017, McKay said.

In that case, Philadelphia and Florida would each have 39 regulation/overtime wins and a plus-1 goal differential over the season, since a shootout victory counts as a goal. The teams split their season series (which by rule eliminates the odd game between them to even out home ice) and the league does not have any further tiebreakers.

Philadelphia currently has 96 points to Florida’s 92 and needs just a point against New York to clinch the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

This most recently happened in 2000 when the NHL announced Montreal and Buffalo would play a tiebreaking game if they finished the season tied for the final spot in the East. It did not come down to that, but it’s the precedent the league used to make this decision.

Since Rudy Gobert returned to the lineup in January after missing 26 games with knee injuries, Utah has turned into a tough customer on both ends of the court. The Jazz rank 13th in the NBA in offensive efficiency (108.5) and lead the league in defensive efficiency (97.9) since mid-January.

Mitchell, who tallied 28 points, nine rebounds and eight assists against the Lakers, has led the way on offense. He is just the fifth NBA rookie to lead his team to the playoffs as the team’s leading scorer, joining Carmelo Anthony (Denver, 2003-04), David Robinson (San Antonio, 1989-90), Chuck Person (Indiana, 1986-87) and Michael Jordan (Chicago, 1984-85).cardinals_289

Chicago Bears

Several teams called about Beckham, but Giants are unlikely to trade him

Giants receiver Odell Beckham is available in a trade, but not for a price any team is likely to pay.

That’s the word from Ralph Vacchiano of SNY, who reports that several teams called the Giants about trading for Beckham, but their interest waned when they heard how much the Giants are going to demand for Beckham.

J.J. Watt is helped off the field after suffering a leg injury against the Chiefs in Week 5 of the 2017 season. (Getty Images)

I understand the concern Gaine and O’Brien must have regarding Watt’s future. They would love to have the Watt of 2012 and ’14; the player who had 20.5 sacks in each of those seasons. They dream of the dominant defensive end/outside linebacker duo they would keep if Watt could get back to top form and be paired with Jadeveon Clowney, the first overall draft pick in 2014 who finally has emerged as a Pro Bowler. Add a fine defender in Whitney Mercilus, who also is coming off a season-ending injury, and the prospects are frightening to opposing offensive lines.

For Harrison, the top priority is getting on the field. He grew frustrated in Pittsburgh last year when he rarely played, and was happy to get released by the Steelers and signed by the Patriots, who made him a starter in the Super Bowl.

Harrison will turn 40 next month. If he plays in the 2018 season, he’ll join Darrell Green, Jim Marshall, Clay Matthews Jr. and Junior Seau as the only defensive players to play in the NFL after turning 40.

Overall, Stanton is batting .167 (7-for-42) with 20 strikeouts and three home runs across his first 10 games with the Yankees. Of his 42 at-bats, 47.6 percent have ended in strikeouts.

“[It’s] just timing,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “He’s got his toe-tap and stuff, and I really believe it’s as simple as that. Once he gets that locked in, everything falls in place from there.”texans_138

Pittsburgh Steelers

Marcus Mariota steps up for Special Olympians

When Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota went to the Special Olympics event at the Titans’ stadium on Saturday, he didn’t just stay long enough to have his picture taken. Instead, Mariota made sure to have a personal interaction with each and every athlete at the event.

“I just like seeing their faces light up,” Mariota said of attending the Special Olympics. “I enjoy being around them. I think they’ve got such a great perspective on life, and they’re always so happy.”

The Kings went 2-1-1 against the Golden Knights this season, winning back-to-back games on Feb. 26-27.

“Except the first period tonight, I think we’ve been playing pretty well the last couple games,” Kings center Adrian Kempe said. “We got to bring it now. We need every single guy in the locker room. We need everybody to be at their best now. The fun starts right now. Hopefully everybody is ready for it.”

Martinez has two goals and two assists during a three-game point streak. … Stars D John Klingberg had an assist, closing the season on a four-game point streak. … Kings F Torrey Mitchell (flu) missed his second straight game.

Luck said the media won’t see him do much during offseason workouts, which conclude with the team’s mandatory veteran minicamp in mid-June. Luck, talking to the media for the first time since Dec. 29, was adamant in saying he does not plan to skip any steps during his current rehab. That’s part of the reason Luck and the Colts have taken a cautious approach on when he will throw. The quarterback has been working with a reduced-sized football to work on his throwing motion.

“There’s a process,” Luck said. “I’ve gone and skipped steps before and paid for it. Been in pain and not able to help the team. Embarrassed, guilty, whatever. I’m not going to do that again. I trust the people I’m working with. More importantly, I trust myself in this process. I trust how I feel. Progress is my guiding light. If I’m making progress, I know that’s important. There is a plan in place, and I’ll keep trusting it.”texans_100

Los Angeles Chargers

Monday morning one-liners

Boston is 14-7 without Irving, having posted wins over the Raptors (twice), Portland Trail Blazers (twice), Oklahoma City Thunder and Utah Jazz.

“This team, we’re resilient,” Morris told the Globe. “Everybody on this team is ready to compete. We all feel disrespected. Kyrie, Marcus, Theis — all those guys are major for our team. But they’re not here, so we still have to approach the game as if we’re going to win and get as far as we can.”

The tag for defensive ends comes in at just over $17 million for 2018. Ansah is coming off a 12-sack season for the Lions last season and had 14.5 sacks in 2015.

The Lions have until mid-July to come to an agreement with Ansah on a long-term contract or he will be tied to his one-year tender with the team.

Aaron Judge tied the score at 3-all with an RBI groundout in the fifth. He also hit an RBI double in the seventh, giving New York a 6-3 advantage.

Judge has driven in at least one run in a club-record 14 straight home games, tied for fourth-longest since RBI became an official stat in 1920.

Gardner safely reached base four times despite playing on fumes, including a two-run single in the second that gave the Yankees an early lead.

“It’s easy to go home and go to sleep if you win but if you lose a game like that it makes it somewhat more difficult,” Gardner said. “I remember laying in bed last night at, I don’t even know what time it was, but wishing and praying that I could somehow fall asleep.”

Oklahoma City (46-34) is tied with San Antonio and New Orleans for fifth in the loaded Western Conference, a half-game behind idle Utah. The Thunder can clinch a playoff spot with a victory at Miami on Monday.

“This game was important but the Monday game is just as important as this game because if we don’t take care of business Monday then this game doesn’t really mean anything,” said Carmelo Anthony, who had 22 points.

The Thunder took two of three in the season series against the NBA-best Rockets.

James Harden had 26 points for Houston, and Chris Paul added 17.

“I thought we tasted the playoff atmosphere because these guys are fighting for their lives and we’re not,” Houston coach Mike D’Antoni said. “It’s human nature, there’s no reward in winning.”

Paul hit a step-back jumper and Gerald Green scored to give the Rockets a 92-91 lead with 7:09 left. But Westbrook scored five quick points to start an 11-0 run by Oklahoma City that made it 102-92 with about four minutes remaining.texans_088

Pittsburgh Steelers

Jordan Matthews got $170K guaranteed from Patriots

Wide receiver Jordan Matthews will be trying to show he can stay healthy and produce on the field during the 2018 season and the contract he signed with the Patriots reflects that position.

Matthews signed a one-year deal with the Patriots last week and Albert Breer of SI.com reports that the deal is worth $1 million with another $700,000 available in incentives. Of that money, just $170,000 is guaranteed to Matthews.

“It’s tough when you can’t even turn your neck from right to left when you look around,” Gibson said. “Just try to get as much treatment as possible.”

Ben McLemore had 18 points for the Grizzlies, who moved one loss closer to a prime lottery pick and fell to 6-34 on the road.

The Grizzlies, whose streak of seven straight postseason appearances was snapped long ago, were sapped by the summer departures of stalwarts Zach Randolph, Tony Allen and Vince Carter. Mike Conley, Tyreke Evans and Chandler Parsons have missed a combined 143 games. Even Marc Gasol, who bested Towns for 20 points and 10 rebounds in the last matchup, sat out to rest. The starting lineup for this game had only one holdover, Dillon Brooks, from the March 26 meeting.

Now he sits alone in first.

“It’s fun when you set goals at the beginning of the year and then you achieve some of them,” Andersen said. “It goes without saying that there are bigger goals.”

Leafs coach Mike Babcock was pleased to see his team come through for its goalie in a game that didn’t mean anything in the standings.

“He’s been a huge part of our team,” Babcock said. “That record is a special, special thing.”

Daniel Carr and Jeff Petry scored for Montreal (29-40-13). Carey Price stopped 26 shots for the visitors as the Canadiens wrapped up a disappointing season.

The players observed a moment of silence before the game to honor the victims of Friday’s horrific crash in Saskatchewan that saw a tractor-trailer collide with a bus carrying a junior hockey team, killing 15 people and injuring 14 others.cardinals_006

Pittsburgh Steelers

Lamar Jackson Pro Day takeaways: Steelers rumors rev up for NFL Draft

When Lamar Jackson performed at Louisville’s Pro Day on Thursday, who was there and what he did not do were more of the focus than how he threw his 59 passes. Back on the same practice field where he developed into a Heisman-winning quarterback for the Cardinals, the consensus from NFL Network analysts who covered the workout was “solid.”

Jackson was a little off at the NFL Combine last month, but he was a lot more crisp dropping back and throwing in a familiar bubble. His draft stock likely has stayed the same as an athletic passer who can fit well with some offenses and coaches but isn’t the right style of QB for others. He’s looking more like a late first-round pick for a team that won’t need to rush him into action as a rookie.

Miami was the one team that did not attend Jackson’s Pro Day. The Dolphins will have no trouble, however, getting a good look at the South Florida native.

For those who hoped Jackson would put on his virtual track suit and run the 40-yard dash after he didn’t do so at the Combine, they’ll have to settle on just watching more film of him blazing past defenders over the past two college football seasons. One can’t blame Jackson for not wanting to provide more fodder to the “he could be a wide receiver” crowd.

The Patriots claimed Bennett off waivers from the Packers, and he played only 24 snaps before going on injured reserve with a shoulder injury. New England released him March 7, and he retired from the NFL two weeks later.

Teams have employed all levels of ineptitude at the position while avoiding Kaepernick, but few, if any, passed on him in favor of someone they ended up having to cut because he was accused of breaking his girlfriend’s jaw. Particularly since the mostly unspoken reason given for the league ignoring Kaepernick was “distractions.”

And because there’s no floor to how far the freeze-out will sink, one of the first names to surface for the Seahawks to replace Boykin was … Mark Sanchez. Hey, why not?

To understand what the Seahawks have let happen to the team that was one bad play call from winning back-to-back Super Bowls just three seasons ago … they never competently replaced Marshawn Lynch. They let their offensive line deteriorate to the point that they look downright negligent. They traded for Jimmy Graham, then let him go in free agency. They traded Jermaine Kearse. They lost Paul Richardson in free agency.texans_003

Pittsburgh Steelers

Bradley Chubb set to visit Giants Thursday

The Giants have set up meetings with several top quarterback prospects and running back Saquon Barkley in the coming days, but their pre-draft visits won’t be solely with players on the offensive side of the ball.

Albert Breer of SI.com reports that the team will host North Carolina State edge rusher Bradley Chubb on Thursday. NFL Media reported last month that the Giants put Chubb through a private workout on campus.

Moving on from big names like Sherman (91 Overall), Jimmy Graham (86 Overall) and Michael Bennett (85 Overall) probably were the right decisions, but the Seahawks will pay the price when it comes to “Madden” in the short term. Declining performance and greater chance of injury aren’t always reflected in the game’s ratings. Seattle also could lose Kam Chancellor (94 Overall) and Cliff Avril (84 Overall) to career-ending injuries.

Following a rough 2017 season, the Giants’ outlook can’t be too optimistic given how their offseason has gone. The signing of Nate Solder (81 Overall) to a massive contract doesn’t inspire much excitement — Solder is not even considered a top-10 left tackle in “Madden,” but he’s now the highest-paid offensive lineman in the league. New York already traded away Jason Pierre-Paul (82 Overall), and it still faces a decision on what to do with Odell Beckham Jr.

After Kelly was fired a year later, Roseman was reinstated as GM, but the pressure was on from the passionate Eagles fan base. A 7-9 season in 2016, even with a rookie QB in Carson Wentz and a first-year coach in Doug Pederson, only ratcheted up that pressure. But Eagles owner Jeff Lurie stayed with Roseman, which turned out to be a wise decision.

What followed was a decision-maker pushing all the right buttons, as Roseman put the finishing touches on a deep and talented team through a continuation of his quality drafting and astute free-agent and trade acquisitions. He established a great partnership with Pederson, and the two headed up a team that was the NFC’s top seed at 13-3 before its unexpected run to the title.

As all successful executives do, Roseman gives credit to his players, coaches, scouting department and support staff for the Eagles’ success. But he was the one who made the final calls on the toughest decisions, like trading several high draft choices to move up to No. 2 overall in the 2016 NFL Draft in order to select Wentz. All the small-school QB did in his second season was become a Pro Bowler and MVP candidate as he led Philly to the league’s best record before his season was cut short by an ACL injury in Week 14.patriots_115-223x223

Pittsburgh Steelers

Report: Le’Veon Bell seeking $17 million per year

Le’Veon Bell is actively seeking a massive long-term contract from the Pittsburgh Steelers, a deal that would make him the highest-paid running back in the game. And now a new report suggests Bell wants to be paid as well as the top wide receivers in the game, including teammate Antonio Brown.

Under the broadened rule, offending players would be penalized for lowering their heads and leading with the crown of their helmets to initiate contact against an opponent on any play. A 15-yard penalty would be assessed and players may be disqualified depending on the severity of the hit. Goodell said replay will be used to determine whether a player should be ejected from the game.

I think it was [Patriots] Coach [Bill] Belichick who first raised it, but if we’re able to have replay to confirm when there’s one of these fouls that we think should be removed from the game and that also confirms whether someone should be ejected, I think there’s a great deal of more confidence among the coaches that it’ll be done consistently and fairly, he said. And I think it also gives the officials more confidence to be able to make those judgments because they know there will be some type of video input in that.

I actually think that the coaches and the clubs and our officials all collectively feel that that is an appropriate thing to do. And it is the first time we’ve used replay for safety and I think that’s a positive thing. As [Competition Committee Chairman] Rich [McKay] said, it’s the first time we’ve used replay in respect to any kind of a foul, but we think that’s warranted for safety-related issues.broncos_015-500x500