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Giants’ retooled offensive line looks like their best in years

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Dave Gettleman’s introductory news conference as New York Giants general manager ended with a definitive statement about a hazardous offensive line.

“We’re going to get it fixed,” he said just days before the 2017 season finale.

Gettleman tweaked and dumped massive loads of cash into the line last season. The results were mixed, at best. The Giants’ offensive line was a mess the first half of the season when quarterback Eli Manning was sacked 31 times. It stabilized in the second half and became a serviceable unit. As did the Giants’ offense, centered around running back Saquon Barkley.

The left side of the line was fixed with big-money free-agent left tackle Nate Solder and second-round pick Will Hernandez at guard. The right side remained a work in progress.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

So Gettleman went back to work this offseason. He added what the Giants hope will be a new right side of the line with veteran guard Kevin Zeitler being acquired in a trade and tackle Mike Remmers as a free agent.8

The bar is low, but this could be the Giants’ best offensive line since 2010 or 2012, when they still had core players such has Chris Snee and David Diehl in the lineup. It’s not the Super Bowl-winning line of Kareem McKenzie, Snee, Shaun O’Hara, Rich Seubert and Diehl, but this year’s hog mollies should be a significant improvement from recent seasons.

“It’s the best they’ve had in years,” said one pro personnel scout with an NFC team.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

There will be no more excuses for Manning, who hasn’t been protected well in years but also hasn’t finished with a top 10 QBR since 2012. No more excuses for coach Pat Shurmur, who had a hand in shipping Odell Beckham Jr. out of town. No more excuses for the offense as a whole, which hasn’t been good in several seasons.

This year the Giants have $37 million of the $188.2 million salary cap currently committed to their offensive line and 61 percent committed to the offense overall, compared to 38 percent to the defense. It will be on the offense (and the offensive line in particular) to carry the team this season. They’re building a team that will be reliant on the run with Barkley as the centerpiece.

“[The improved line] can do big things for that guy we have in our backfield,” tight end Evan Engram said last week at CC Sabathia’s Celebrity Softball Game benefiting his PitCCh In Foundation. “He’s a special talent and those guys, the offensive linemen, they’re in the building each and every day and they literally walk around the whole building together. You can see the talent growing. You can see the chemistry growing. And they’re hungry as well. I can’t wait to see those guys start putting their hands on people.”

Sources: Barca could lose De Ligt to Juve, PSG

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Barcelona believe they have lost ground to Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich in the race to sign Ajax defender Matthijs de Ligt, sources have told ESPN FC.nfl cheap jerseys nike

Sources close to the negotiations said that the “optimism” which Barca maintained a few weeks ago has decreased due to the renewed interest of some of Europe’s biggest clubs and the excessive demands from De Ligt and his agent, Mino Raiola.

Barcelona have been leading the chase for the in-demand centre-back for weeks. They already have an agreement in principle with Ajax to sign him for a similar figure to what they will pay for Frenkie de Jong — €75 million plus add-ons.

But they have still not managed to strike a deal with De Ligt and Raiola, which has allowed Juve, PSG and Bayern to re-open negotiations and attempt to better the offer made by Barca, who are beginning to tire of the player’s elevated financial demands.8

The main problem facing Barca is Raiola’s attempt to take advantage of the interest from elsewhere and De Ligt’s excellent end to the season to push for a salary which the Catalan club are not prepared to pay.

De Ligt helped Ajax win a domestic double and reach the Champions League semifinal — and that is being used as a reason to backtrack on an agreement struck with Barcelona in March and ask for more money, as revealed by ESPN FC earlier this month.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

Barca are unable to meet those new demands and sources have said the club will not budge another inch from the last offer they made. They hope other factors will play in their favour, such as the player’s will to move to Camp Nou, the signing of De Jong and the chance to play with Lionel Messi.

Juve’s sporting director Fabio Paratici said two weeks ago that De Ligt “will sign for Barcelona” following a conversation with his Ajax counterpart, Marc Overmars. But talks between Barca and De Ligt have hit a snag and sources have suggested Juve and PSG may now be better placed to land the defender.

Barca have worked on the deal for months. After announcing the signing of De Jong in January, president Josep Maria Bartomeu made the decision to push hard for De Ligt, even though he wasn’t a priority for the club at the time. Given the good relationship with Ajax, they were able to loosely agree the framework of a fee with the belief they would be able to convince the player to join.

Dodgers’ Ryu extends scoreless streak to 31 IP

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Ryu blanked the Reds over seven innings to extend his major league-leading streak to 31, Cody Bellinger hit his 17th homer and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat Cincinnati 8-3 on Sunday.

“He’s just locked in right now with all of his pitches,” manager Dave Roberts said of his starting pitcher. “It’s fun to watch. He’s healthy. The conditions, the situations don’t matter.”

Ryu (6-1) had baserunners in each of his first five innings, but none of them got past second base and he retired his last eight batters. Ryu allowed five hits with one walk and five strikeouts and lowered his ERA to a National League-best 1.52 for the season. He went into the game second behind Milwaukee’s Zach Davies.cheap nike nfl jerseys paypal

“I wasn’t crisp, especially early in the game,” Ryu said through a translator. “There was a lot of traffic out there. I was able to execute the right pitches at the right time.”9

Alex Verdugo drove in three runs and Russell Martin added a solo homer for the West Division-leading Dodgers.

Verdugo’s RBI double gave the Dodgers a 1-0 lead in the second inning and they added a run in the third on a fielder’s choice.

Reds right fielder Yasiel Puig hit the wall while making a catch with the bases loaded to end the sixth inning.

Puig leaped and reached into the stands down the right-field line to catch Ryu’s fly ball while colliding with the padded wall. He was on the warning track for a few seconds before jogging off the field, rubbing his left elbow.

He batted in the bottom of the inning before leaving the game after the seventh with what manager David Bell said was a sprained right shoulder.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

“I felt a little bit tight,” Puig said. “I take that AB after that I told them I don’t feel good. My elbow I hit on the concrete, but I feel good about that.”

Bellinger, who entered the game second in the NL in home runs behind Milwaukee’s Christian Yelich, smacked left-handed relief pitcher Wandy Peralta’s first pitch deep to center field, where it glanced off the glove of the leaping Nick Senzel and over the fence for a two-run homer.

“With Cody right now, it doesn’t matter who’s coming into the game,” Roberts said.

The Dodgers added six runs against a Cincinnati bullpen that went into the game with a league-best 3.10 combined ERA.

Bellinger’s homer made it 4-0 in the seventh inning. Martin gave Los Angeles a 5-0 lead in the eighth and the Dodgers added three runs in the ninth on a wild pitch and Verdugo’s two-run double.

“The bullpen has done such a good job,” Bell said. “That’s going to happen. The game came down to one hit. The Bellinger home run was the difference in the game. It changed everything.”

Jets ship LB Lee to Chiefs after GM shake-up

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It didn’t take long for New York Jets interim general manager Adam Gase to make his first trade.

The team on Wednesday night agreed to send linebacker Darron Lee to the Kansas City Chiefs for a 2020 sixth-round pick. The trade appeared on the NFL’s official transactions wire Thursday.

Gase inherited personnel power earlier Wednesday, when general manager Mike Maccagnan was fired after four seasons. Gase, hired in January as the head coach, will serve as the interim GM until a new one is hired.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Maccagnan picked Lee in the first round of the 2016 draft. His days were numbered as soon as the Jets signed middle linebacker C.J. Mosley to a record-setting contract in free agency. They tried to trade Lee during the NFL draft last month, then declined to exercise his fifth-year option.10

Lee was the 20th overall pick in 2016. It was a curious choice, because at 6-foot-1 and 232 pounds, he seemed small to play inside linebacker in the 3-4 defense. The coaching staff downplayed the size factor, saying he fit the growing trend of fast linebackers who could play in space against spread offenses.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

The former Ohio State standout struggled in his first two seasons, especially against the run, but he showed signs of improvement in 2018. He made three interceptions — the first three of his career — including one returned for a touchdown.

Lee felt he had played well enough to earn Pro Bowl consideration, but his season came to an abrupt end after the 12th game, when he received a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. He has yet to comment publicly on the matter.

Because of the suspension, Lee’s 2019 base salary of $1.84 million is no longer fully guaranteed; by rule, the guarantee was voided. The Jets had no intention of exercising his fifth-year option for 2020, which would have been an estimated $10 million.

In the Jets’ way of thinking, Lee became expendable when they signed Mosley to a five-year, $85 million contract in free agency. Mosley will replace Avery Williamson, who will slide over to Lee’s former spot — the weak-inside linebacker position.

Williamson’s $8 million salary is guaranteed, and there was no chance that the Jets would eat that much money.

Geno Smith to sign with Seahawks, source says

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Quarterback Geno Smith is expected to sign with the Seattle Seahawks, a source told ESPN’s Jordan Raanan.

The Seahawks will be Smith’s fourth team in four seasons.

In Seattle, Smith will compete with former Denver Broncos first-round pick Paxton Lynch for the backup job behind starter Russell Wilson.

It was expected that the Seahawks would add another quarterback to their backup competition, as Lynch was the only veteran option they had behind Wilson.nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal

“I thought the quarterbacks had a hard time. I thought they struggled with the system and the playcalling,” Carroll said. “A lot of guys calling the plays for the first time, in the huddles for the first time, under center for the first time. So there was some brand-new experiences, and so they were competing on many levels just to get going. So we’ll take a look at the film now that we get out of camp and see where it all fits.”9

The 28-year-old Smith saw action in two games for the Los Angeles Chargers during the 2018 season, completing 1 of 4 passes for 8 yards.

The Seahawks had interest in Smith last season before he signed with the Chargers. Seattle traded a sixth-round pick to the Green Bay Packers for Brett Hundley, who didn’t take a single snap in 2018 and left in free agency.

For his career, the 6-foot-3, 200-pound Smith has competed 58 percent of his passes, throwing for 6,182 yards, with 29 touchdowns and 36 interceptions.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

A second-round selection (39th overall) by the New York Jets in the 2013 draft, Smith never lived up to lofty expectations during his four seasons with the team.

Smith moved on to the New York Giants, where he backed up quarterback Eli Manning in 2017.

He started Week 13 when Manning was benched for a week, completing 21 of 34 passes for 212 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions in a 24-17 loss to the Oakland Raiders.

The Seahawks have been busy since May 7, the date after which free agents no longer count in the formula for determining 2020 compensatory picks. In addition to Smith, they’ve signed defensive linemen Ezekiel Ansah and Al Woods, cornerback Jamar Taylor, fullback Nick Bellore and guard Marcus Martin — all since May 7.

MLB places Dodgers’ Urias on leave after arrest

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Major League Baseball has placed Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias on administrative leave in the wake of his Monday arrest on suspicion of domestic violence.

Urias was arrested and charged with domestic battery after an alleged physical altercation with a woman in the parking lot of the Beverly Center, an upscale shopping mall in L.A., at 7:30 p.m. PT, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. He was released at 1:30 a.m. Tuesday after posting $20,000 bail and did not join his teammates later in the afternoon.

MLB said it was conducting an investigation into the matter and is “in the process of gathering facts” while Urias is on administrative leave.

In a statement Tuesday morning, the Dodgers said the team also was gathering information and would have no further comment. Manager Dave Roberts met with the media before the Dodgers’ home game against the San Diego Padres and said he was “choosing my words wisely,” adding, “I don’t know the facts.”nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal

“Obviously, it’s not ideal in any sense of the word,” Roberts said. “But until we know more, it just doesn’t behoove me to make any comments. Fortunately, Major League Baseball is kind of digging into this, as it well should. We’ll know more later.”

In the meantime, the Dodgers, who should soon benefit from the return of lefties Tony Cingrani and Caleb Ferguson, added right-handed reliever JT Chargois to the active roster.10

Urias’ leave expires after seven days, but the league can extend it until its investigation is complete. Urias can also technically come off leave before the seven-day mark, but in prior circumstances, this process has dragged out for several weeks and even months.nfl nike jersey cheap

Eleven players have been investigated and nine have been suspended since 2016, the first full season of MLB’s current domestic violence policy. Suspensions ranged from 15 games (Steven Wright and Jeurys Familia) to 100 (Jose Torres). In between were cases involving household names such as Jose Reyes (51-game suspension), Aroldis Chapman (30 games), Addison Russell (40) and Roberto Osuna (75).

The Astros caught flak for acquiring Osuna in the wake of his domestic violence suspension, as did the Cubs for activating Russell last week.

“Every allegation of domestic violence must be taken seriously and addressed promptly,” the Dodgers said in their statement, “and we will cooperate fully with the authorities and Major League Baseball to ensure that that happens in this case.”

Urias is considered one of the most promising young pitchers in the league. He was beginning to build a special connection with the Dodgers’ fan base in L.A. largely because of his Mexican heritage, drawing comparisons to Fernando Valenzuela.

Cubs’ Zobrist remains on leave amid divorce

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Cubs veteran Ben Zobrist remains on a personal leave of absence from the team, and court documents filed in Chicago indicate he is getting divorced.nfl nike jersey cheap

According to the documents, his wife, Julianna, is listed as the plaintiff. Julianna Zobrist is a professional singer who has performed the national anthem for teams that her husband has played for. She also sang “God Bless America” before Game 4 of the 2016 World Series between the Cubs and Indians at Wrigley Field.9

Zobrist, 37, is in the final season of a four-year contract that he signed with the Cubs after beginning his career in Tampa Bay in 2006. He helped the Kansas City Royals win the title in 2015 and did the same the following season with the Cubs.

The team has not given an official reason for his absence, which began May 8, nor a potential return date.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

“I feel for him,” manager Joe Maddon said. “Having gone through that process myself, it’s no fun. For him to do it under these circumstances, we’re going to respect his privacy. There is no timeline involved. He’ll let us know.”

Zobrist was hitting .241 with 10 RBIs in 26 games prior to taking his absence from the team.

Columbus in ‘you never know’ mode after ouster

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The Columbus Blue Jackets shocked the NHL this season by doing something few teams do: They went all-in.

Instead of selling off soon-to-be unrestricted free agents such as goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and winger Artemi Panarin, the Blue Jackets kept both players on the roster as their own “rentals.” They also loaded up, adding center Matt Duchene, defenseman Adam McQuaid, winger Ryan Dzingel and backup goalie Keith Kinkaid at the trade deadline.

“You never know what’s going to happen this summer, who is going to stay, who is going to go,” veteran winger Cam Atkinson said. “We had the group to do it this year, that’s for sure.”

Chief among concerns are Panarin and Bobrovsky, two of the most talented players in franchise history. The club tried to work out extensions with both players; Panarin expressed an interest in testing unrestricted free agency, and Bobrovsky and the team were so far apart on money and term that talks broke off.cheap nike nfl jerseys china

General manager Jarmo Kekalainen was characteristically blunt when talking to local reporters.9

“Guys that want to be here are going to be here,” Kekalainen said. “Guys that don’t want to be here, it’s, well, ‘Good luck.'”

Bobrovsky, a two time Vezina winner, spent seven seasons in Columbus. He said it was too early to talk about his future because “it’s a big decision, it’s a lifetime decision.”

“I’m definitely thankful for everything I had here,” Bobrovsky said.

Bobrovsky was somber as he spoke and repeatedly thanked fans for their support. Just as the Blue Jackets did, Bobrovsky rewrote his own narrative this postseason. He was always known as a terrific regular-season goaltender who had a tendency to crumble in the playoffs.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Between 2011 and 2018, Bobrovsky went 5-14 in the playoffs, with a 3.49 goals-against average and .891 save percentage. According to ESPN Stats & Information, he allowed at least three goals in 79 percent of his postseason appearances in that span, by far the most of any goalie with at least 10 appearances.

Bobrovsky was spectacular in the first-round sweep of the Tampa Bay Lightning, posting a .932 save percentage, and he had some strong performances against the Bruins.

“We went through some good times, some tough times,” Bobrovsky said. “We’ve been together seven years, so that’s a long time. It was special.”

This was Panarin’s second season with the team after he was traded from the Chicago Blackhawks. He set a franchise record for points and became a fan favorite.

Panarin, who, like Bobrovsky, is Russian, rarely does media interviews, but on Monday, he spoke through an interpreter for a large media scrum.

Davante Adams and then who? Questions remain about Packers WRs

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With Randall Cobb’s $12.7 million cap charge from last year off the books and not a single receiver added in veteran free agency or the draft, the Packers dropped to No. 24 in the NFL when it comes to salary-cap space used by receivers. They’re at $18.65 million in cap space devoted to the position, and Adams accounts for $10.818 million of that.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

The Packers’ receivers account for just 9.75 percent of their salary cap, down from 16.5 percent last season.

That’s what happens when there’s no true No. 2 receiver on the roster.10

Instead, Gutekunst and first-year coach Matt LaFleur appear content to watch a collection of former undrafted players (led by Geronimo Allison and Jake Kumerow) along with last year’s trio of third-day draft picks (underachieving fourth-round pick J’Mon Moore, fifth-rounder Marquez Valdes-Scantling and sixth-rounder Equanimeous St. Brown) fight for the spot.

“I’m really content with the three guys we drafted last year,” Gutekunst said after he opted against a receiver in the draft. “I think they have huge upsides. I thought they took really good steps last year. Obviously, Geronimo coming back, he’s kind of a veteran guy stepping into that role, and I do like some of our guys that are kind of competing for some spots there as well. It’s not like we wouldn’t add one if we thought the right guy was there, but I like that group.”

He likes it better than most outsiders thought, apparently. Mock draft after mock draft had the Packers paired with a receiver for one of their two first-round picks.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

“I think there’s always holes that you think about,” LaFleur said after the draft. “One thing, there’s no doubt we’ve added a lot of key pieces moving forward, both in free agency and in the draft, not only on the defensive side of the ball, but I feel really good about a guy like [offensive lineman] Billy Turner and the three offensive players that we drafted.”

Houston’s Fifth Ward gave Dolphins’ Xavien Howard his ambition

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Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard returns to Houston to play the Texans on Thursday night (8:20 ET, Fox). This weekend, he plans to walk the streets of his old neighborhood.

A Houston native, Howard tells outsiders to stay far away from the Fifth Ward. It’s a high-crime neighborhood northeast of downtown. Danger can find you in the Fifth Ward.

In making his way out, Howard is starting to make a name for himself.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

“Who’s Xavien Howard?” asked Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins, tongue-in-cheek, in the lead-up to Thursday’s game.

Howard, 25, in his third NFL season, is tied for the NFL lead with three interceptions. He made his big splash last December with two interceptions each against the Denver Broncos and Tom Brady’s Patriots in back-to-back games.

“He’s kind of an underrated guy across the league. Last year he played really well, and this year he’s been playing great. He’s been shutting everything down,” rookie defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick said. “He’s just waiting on his moment for everybody to recognize who he is and the job that he does.”9

You’ve likely heard stories similar to Howard’s before. The NFL is full of players who used football to get out of bad circumstances. Howard knows he is fortunate, given some of the things he witnessed growing up.

When he was in middle school, Howard was playing basketball near his home when, he says, a man shot another man 10 yards away from him. Then the shooter saw Howard.

“I was traumatized by that for a long, long time. After he did it, he looked at me and said, ‘Go in the house, they shooting.’ I’m just happy the guy didn’t shoot me or come get me,” Howard said.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Howard told his mother, Luckcher Howard, what happened and she feared for his safety. She sent him to stay with his grandmother, who lived 30 minutes away, for two months. He was still frightened the man would find him.

“That day made me change everything about me. I straightened up. I started taking sports seriously,” Howard said. “I said, ‘I got to get me and my family out of the hood and away from seeing this.'”

Howard uses the ritual of returning to his old neighborhood to remind himself of what he escaped.

When he walks the streets of the Fifth Ward in Houston, Howard sees a drug dealer on the corner selling an eight-ball of cocaine; his eyes settle on a homeless man sitting on the side of Lyons Avenue; his friends tell him a story of the kid who got jumped and robbed near the Fruits of the Fifth Ward mural. Howard could have been any of those people.

Taking the walk is his version of therapy, self-preservation and making sure he never gets too comfortable.