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Davante Adams and then who? Questions remain about Packers WRs


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


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.

Bayern Munich miss chance to seal Bundesliga title after being held at Leipzig


Champions Bayern Munich stumbled to a goalless draw at RB Leipzig on Saturday, missing their chance to seal the Bundesliga title as Borussia Dortmund kept their hopes alive and closed to within two points with one game left.

Bayern, who needed a win to make sure of a record-extending seventh consecutive league title, are on 75 points and will now face a final day examination against Eintracht Frankfurt next week.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

Dortmund, who beat Fortuna Duesseldorf 3-2, are on 73 and face Borussia Moenchengladbach next week.10

Leipzig are third on 66 and have secured their Champions League spot for next season. “We want to win this thing next week,” Bayern’s Thomas Muller said. “We have battled back from nine points behind [late last year]. We are very greedy.”

The Bavarians missed several good chances with Serge Gnabry and Robert Lewandowski failing to hit the target and also had a Leon Goretzka effort in the second half ruled out after video review.

It was an even more nervous affair at Dortmund, where goals from Christian Pulisic, Thomas Delaney and Mario Gotze eventually sealed a win for the title contenders.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

The hosts suffered with a blunder from keeper Marwin Hitz that allowed Duesseldorf back into the game at 1-1 before the hosts then had to sweat it out after a Duesseldorf goal in stoppage time reduced the deficit to 3-2.

Hitz, replacing injured Roman Buerki, also brought down Dodi Lukebakio for a second-half penalty which the forward fired wide.

Hanover and Nuremberg were relegated while Stuttgart beat Wolfsburg 3-0 to hold on to 16th place and will go into a relegation/promotion playoff with the second division’s third-placed team.

Butler after 76ers’ 36-point loss: ‘We laid an egg’


Brett Brown became a meme, Joel Embiid was mocked by Raptors fans the way he normally mocks opponents, and the 76ers suffered one of their worst losses in the franchise’s postseason history in a 125-89 defeat Tuesday night.

The Sixers now trail the Raptors 3-2 in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

“I think we laid an egg,” guard Jimmy Butler said after the 76ers coughed up 19 turnovers leading to 31 Toronto points and failed to crack 100 points for the fourth time this series.
By halftime, Philadelphia had more personal fouls (16) than made field goals (14), and the Sixers’ two All-Stars, Embiid and Ben Simmons, struggled as much as anyone. The duo combined for seven turnovers in the first half, which was more than the field goals and assists they combined to register in that span (six).cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Embiid, still reeling from the upper respiratory infection that limited him in Game 4, finished with 13 pcheap nike nfl jerseys wholesaleoints on 5-for-10 shooting (2-for-6 from 3), six rebounds, one assist and eight turnovers. In the past five postseasons, only two players have finished a game with one or zero assists and eight or more turnovers: Kevin Durant in 2016 and Embiid, who has now done it twice, as he matched his one-assist, eight-turnover game in the first round against the Miami Heat last year.10

“It sucks,” Embiid said. “I know I got to do a better job for us to win. I got to do the little things. When I’m needed to score the ball, I got to show up. Setting screens, I got to do a better job of rebounding the ball. So that’s on me. … I just got to do more.”

Embiid played one of his finest games as a pro in Game 3 against the Raptors, putting up 33 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks to put the Sixers up 2-1 in the series. In the two losses since, he has totaled just 24 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks.

When the Sixers center checked out of Game 5 for good with 9:05 remaining in the fourth quarter, fans in the stands at Scotiabank Arena — including Canadian rapper Drake, the Raptors’ global ambassador — spread their arms out and mimicked Embiid’s airplane celebration that he broke out after his late windmill dunk in Game 3.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Embiid hasn’t been able to help the Sixers land a win since.

“I just saw them shake their bodies,” Embiid said of the fans. “I didn’t pay attention about what the hell they were doing. Good for them. … I don’t care if it offends anybody, but what I do is all about having fun. I don’t care. And I’m going to do that because I know I’m going to dominate.”

Kyrie Irving’s failed leadership tells the story of the Celtics’ failed season


cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesaleAt first, it seemed like things were going to be just fine.

When the Boston Celtics convened for media day back in September, they were the heavy favorites to represent the Eastern Conference in this season’s NBA Finals, and arguably no team in the league had a brighter road ahead.

Brad Stevens saw something different.

“I knew going in that it was going to be super challenging, but October screamed it,” the Celtics coach told ESPN recently. “I knew after the first two exhibition games, it was going to be really, really hard.”cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

It turned out to be harder than he could have imagined. And in the end, it was too difficult to overcome, as Boston suffered a fourth consecutive loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday to crash out of the second round of the playoffs.9

This was not what was supposed to happen to a team that made the conference finals the past two years — and then added a healthy Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward to the mix.

There are plenty of reasons to explain why this season was so hard, and why these Celtics were so disappointing. At the root of all of them, though, is Irving — and, more specifically, his leadership through words and actions on and off the court.

Those comments became the guideposts of this long, strange trip of a season in Boston, the things that — in retrospect — were signaling to the world how hard this was turning out to be for the Celtics.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Irving’s words not only defined the Celtics’ disappointing season; they help to explain how a season that was supposed to mark Boston’s return to the top of the sport instead left all involved searching for answers.

Smith back in Panthers fold, to receive honor


Steve Smith can finally set aside the bitterness from being released by the Carolina Panthers in March 2014.

The organization announced Monday that their all-time leading wide receiver would be a part of the 2019 Hall of Honor.

Smith joins quarterback Jake Delhomme, tight end Wesley Walls and offensive tackle Jordan Gross as the first players named to the shrine since Sam Mills retired and was honored following the 1997 season.

“It’s good to be back,” Smith told the team. “There’s very few things in my life that really make me emotional to where I want to tear up.That penetrates a place I generally don’t go.’‘cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Smith was so bitter about being released by then-general manager Dave Gettleman after the 2013 season that he said he told a local radio station that if he got the chance to play against Carolina, everyone should “put on your goggles because there’s going to be blood and guts everywhere.”

Smith got his shot at Carolina during the 2014 season when, as a member of the Baltimore Ravens, he had seven catches for 139 yards and two touchdowns.

“They didn’t even deserve me to spin the ball on them,” Smith said afterward.9

Smith later admitted in the NFL Network’s “Steve Smith: A Football Life” that his release was personal and that he “bumped heads” with quarterback Cam Newton.

“We bumped heads for the obvious reasons,” Smith said. “He’s the first pick and he was a star where he was. I was 31 years old. I had three kids. So we were two different people in two different phases of their life.’‘cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Gross said Smith’s lack of patience with Newton was a factor in the decision to release him.

“Really, I think the organization felt for Cam to flourish they needed Steve to step down,” he told the NFL Network.

Said former Carolina wide receivers coach Ricky Proehl, “Emotionally, it was hard for everybody because of what he’d done for this organization, the impact he’s had in the community.”

Much of Smith’s anger was directed at Gettleman because there was no advance notice of his release before it became public knowledge. Smith heard the news on a Charlotte radio station.

Being selected to the Hall of Honor by new owner David Tepper has helped heal old wounds.

“For some, long overdue,” Smith said. “For others, surprised just as much as me. Some maybe didn’t foresee that this would ever come to fruition, the reconnecting.”

Adelaide into A-League semifinals after last-gasp extra time win over Melbourne City


Ben Halloran produced a last-minute extra-time winner for Adelaide United, sending the Reds into the A-League semifinals at the expense of Melbourne City.

Halloran sent a packed Coopers Stadium into delirium and his team into a clash with Perth, ending City’s season on Sunday night just as both sides appeared to be settling in for penalties.

The forward latched onto a cut-back from Baba Diawara after Ryan Kitto’s through-ball was midjudged by City’s marquee defender Richie De Laet — a painful end to an otherwise fine season from the Belgian.

Halloran, Craig Goodwin and goalkeeper Paul Izzo were all brilliant in the win. Adelaide coach Marco Kurz was a jubilant figure among many at Coopers Stadium on the final whistle.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

“It was another fantastic night for the boys and the supporters,” he said. “To see the supporters together with the boys in celebration — that is my job.9

“It’s not fair to say one player was outstanding … the team is the star.”

City boss Joyce, after missing out on the Asian Champions League qualification his club had set as a goal but never managed, was distraught.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

“It’s raw. It’s tough to take,” he said. “You can’t say much really. [The players] are obviously flat.”

Adelaide face a quick turnaround to prepare for Friday night’s formidable challenge of Tony Popovic’s Glory.

Popovic, sitting high in the stands at Coopers Stadium scouting his opponents, cannot have seen much he will fear. Perth will start as clear favourites, given their record and the benefit of a week off after United and City had slogged it out for 120 minutes.

Although Halloran smashed a first-half effort onto the bar, the home side didn’t put a shot on target for 112 minutes.

City weren’t much better, at least working Paul Izzo, but without a cut-through moment to capitalise on their late-match dominance. If the first elimination final, won 3-1 by Melbourne Victory, was an example of an explosive all-out brawl of a final, this was a war of attrition.

Indians to detail Kluber’s prognosis on Friday


The Indians decided during the winter their starting pitching would carry them to another October.

Cleveland’s ride might end before then.

Corey Kluber’s broken right arm might alter the plans for a season the Indians hoped would include a fourth straight AL Central title.cheap nike nfl jerseys free shipping

Kluber, 33, suffered a non-displaced fracture Wednesday night when he was struck by a line drive in the fifth inning of a start against Miami. Kluber, who struggled through the season’s first month, couldn’t avoid the 102 mph comebacker hit by Marlins infielder Brian Anderson. After being nailed, Kluber chased after the ball while his right arm stayed motionless against his side. He swatted the ball with his glove toward the bag before walking dejectedly back to the mound.

All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor hasn’t taken off after being sidelined to start the season with a sprained ankle, and All-Star third baseman Jose Ramirez has yet to break out of a slump that stretches back to August.10

When Cleveland’s front office chose not to trade Kluber or Trevor Bauer and to reconstruct the team’s roster by allowing All-Star outfielder Michael Brantley to leave as a free agent and trading sluggers Edwin Encarnacion, Yonder Alonso and Yandy Diaz, it did so believing the pitching depth would be enough to get the Indians back to the playoffs.

That theory is about to be tested.

Clevinger is still probably a few weeks from returning, although he played catch this week and appears to be ahead of schedule.

The Indians are likely to go to a five-man rotation in May with Jefry Rodriguez getting starts. He has made two starts while filling in for Clevinger and is scheduled to start Tuesday against the Chicago White Sox. Kluber would have started Monday, and manager Terry Francona will either juggle his rotation or reach down to Triple-A Columbus and bring up either Adam Plutko or Cody Anderson.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

Plutko opened the season in the minors and has been recovering from a forearm strain. Anderson has missed most of the past two seasons after Tommy John elbow surgery, but the Indians think he could be ready soon.

Sorting out crowded Buffalo Bills backfield could take months


LeSean McCoy caused a stir last week when he tweeted spoilers to the ending of the recently released movie “Avengers: Endgame” because he was upset with how the film ended.

There is a chance McCoy’s career in Buffalo ends in similarly disappointing fashion.

A succession of roster moves this offseason has given the Bills increased flexibility to transition away from McCoy as early as this summer. Buffalo’s signing of three veteran free-agent running backs (Frank Gore, T.J. Yeldon and Senorise Perry) and drafting of Florida Atlantic’s Devin Singletary in the third round last week does not mean McCoy will be gone, but his roster spot seems far from guaranteed given the climate at the position.

McCoy has seen sharp statistical decline the past two seasons, and he approaches his 31st birthday in July. His average yards per carry has dropped from a career-high 5.4 in 2016 to 3.2 last season, his worst as a pro.

Such a downward trend is typical for rushers at his age. Among all players with at least 75 rushing attempts per season over at least four years since 2001, their rushing average has declined from 4.29 yards per carry at age 28 to 4.09 at age 30 and 3.82 by age 32.cheap nfl nike jersey

One of the exceptions has been Gore, whose average dipped below 4.0 yards per carry from his age-32 season (2014) through his age-34 season (2016), only to rebound to 4.6 last season at 35 for the Dolphins.9

Now Gore has a chance to unseat McCoy as the top back in Buffalo. Yet, similar to how McCoy could recover and re-establish himself as the engine that drove the Bills’ offense in 2015 and 2016, Gore could finally show signs of age and fail to make an impact.nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal

Add in two younger wild cards — Yeldon and Singletary — and the scenarios of how the Bills could distribute snaps in their backfield this season begin to multiply.

In the short term, general manager Brandon Beane and coach Sean McDermott seem content to let the competition play out. Both stood by McCoy at the end of last season, reiterating he was part of the team’s plans in 2019. Instead, they focused their attention on improving the blocking in front of McCoy, firing offensive line coach Juan Castillo and signing a staggering six free-agent linemen.

Even Friday, after the Bills drafted Singletary, Beane said there was “no question” McCoy remained the starter.

Given team decision-makers are typically averse to making such declarations this far in advance of the season, and that general managers are usually careful of stepping on coaches’ toes about naming starters, it would be reasonable to deduce some posturing from Beane. If the Bills desire to trade McCoy, they need other teams to believe he will not be available on the open market as a free agent. It would be smart for Beane to be firm on McCoy being the starter, not a candidate to be released.

In reality, the Bills added four running backs this offseason with a realistic shot of making the 53-man roster: Gore, Yeldon, Singletary and Perry, who played an important role on special teams for the Dolphins and would be the top candidate to fill a similar role as the third or fourth running back on Buffalo’s 53-man roster.

49ers aren’t ignoring secondary, believe growth will happen internally


Noticeably ignored this offseason is a secondary that accounted for just two interceptions in 2018, an NFL record for futility. Aside from adding oft-injured cornerback Jason Verrett in free agency — who, in fairness, could be a big addition if he can stay healthy and recapture his 2015 Pro Bowl form — the 49ers look poised to run it back with the same group they had last season.

This lack of movement in the secondary comes as a surprise. Verrett was the only notable free-agent pickup and the Niners waited until the sixth round before they took cornerback Tim Harris. Despite rumors that the team pursued a top safety such as Earl Thomas, the 49ers didn’t bring in any outside safeties, instead opting to re-sign Jimmie Ward and Antone Exum Jr.

According to coach Kyle Shanahan, the decision to leave the secondary alone stems from liking what they already have, the importance of improving other roster spots and the hope that a supercharged pass rush can make life easier for everyone.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Clearly, the 49ers’ decision-makers are believers in the talent already in place. While many of their young defensive backs have flashed in their careers, the majority of them have been plagued by injuries, have a small sample of success or both. As it stands, the projected starters in the secondary are cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Verrett, with Ward and Jaquiski Tartt at safety and K’Waun Williams in the nickel role.8

From that group, Sherman is the leader and the Niners are counting on him to produce at previous All-Pro levels. His history would indicate that he can do that now that he’s another year removed from the Achilles injury he suffered in 2017.

“I look out my window, and he’s getting up there in years, but he’s right at the front of the pack,” general manager John Lynch said. “He’s pushing those guys. I think my own feeling, we’ll see a better version of Richard Sherman this year because he’s a year further away from those procedures and had that cleanup. We’ll see. But I’m hopeful.”cheap nfl nike jersey

After Sherman, questions arise. The Niners invested third-round picks on Ahkello Witherspoon and Tarvarius Moore in the past three years but neither has emerged as a surefire starter opposite Sherman, which is why the door is open for Verrett. At safety, Ward and Tartt have combined to play just 33 of a possible 64 games over the past two seasons. Adrian Colbert, who was supposed to claim the starting free safety job last year, struggled in seven games before a season-ending ankle injury.

In a vacuum, the Niners’ belief in their current crop of defensive backs is understandable. It’s a group comprised of relatively high draft picks and there’s no shortage of talent. But it’s also fair to point out that the Niners felt good about what was essentially the same group a year ago and then found themselves scrambling to overcome injuries and a lack of production.