Shaquem Griffin: “I have the entire nation behind me now”

Shaquem Griffin is used to being doubted. Playing football with one hand creates skeptics.

But the Central Florida linebacker, who has now been invited to the 2018 NFL Draft, said that the support he’s felt during his career has helped buoy him.

“I was a guy who was under the radar and who they didn’t believe in at first, but I feel like they’re starting to believe now,” Griffin said after his pro day workout, via Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel. “I have the entire nation behind me now.”

The 4.38-second 40-yard dash and 20 repetitions of the 225-pound bench press got everyone’s attention in Indianapolis, as well as game tape that shows him helping his team to an undefeated season with his pass-rush skills and playmaking.

“Everybody is late to the party,” teammate Mike Hughes said. “Everyone who lives in Orlando and roots for UCF knows what Shaquem is capable of and now the whole world is starting to realize it.”

While he’s not expected to be drafted in the first round, his story of persistence won’t go bad if he has to stay in Dallas an extra night before finding his new team on the second or even third day of the proceedings. And those who know him best are glad to see others realizing that.

“We got back from Minnesota. I had an opportunity to talk with Josh. We were able to work some things out,” Belichick said. “I’m thrilled he’s still with us and is going to continue in his role. I think he’s the top offensive coordinator in the league. He’s done a great job for me for a long time in a lot of different roles so very glad, based on the meeting we had, there were a number of things that happened, but after the meeting that we had we were able to work that out and keep him with us.”

Patriots owner Robert Kraft made it worth McDaniels’ while financially to stay in New England, and Kraft said that was money well spent.

“It’s very important,” Kraft said. “I can’t tell you how happy I am he’s coming back. I think he’s the best offensive coordinator and has shown that when he’s been with us. He has a great football intellect. We’re really happy he decided to stay with us.”flames_017

Rested Bruins host slumping Flyers

It was a tough night all around for the Philadelphia Flyers.

For the Flyers, Petr Mrazek has played the last six games after coming over from Detroit at the deadline because injuries had left Philadelphia without a veteran. Coach Dave Hakstol more than hinted rookie Alex Lyon would start one of the games of this back-to-back, and Mrazek played Wednesday.

“I thought Petr played a good game,” coach Hakstol said after Mrazek surrendered four Wednesday night.

In a shocking trade announced early Tuesday, the Clippers sent Griffin, Brice Johnson and Willie Reed to the Pistons for Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, Boban Marjanovic, a protected first-round draft pick and a second-round pick. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski was first to report the deal Monday evening.

Wojnarowski reports the Clippers are still pursuing young players and picks in potential trades for Lou Williams and DeAndre Jordan, but the organization wants the team to remain competitive and avoid the tanking route.

The 20-year-old was most recently recalled by the Wild on Feb. 27 and has recorded two goals and two assists in 19 games with Minnesota this season. He made his NHL debut against Columbus on Oct. 14 and recorded his first points at Calgary on Oct. 21.

Kunin scored his first goal on Oct. 26 against the New York Islanders, becoming the first player in team history to score his first career goal short-handed.

He’s even shown some potential as a rim protector. In addition to the 21 blocks he’s recorded in 35 games, opponents have made only 44 of their 85 shot attempts within six feet of the basket when Adebayo has been the paint. That mark puts him on the same page as some of the best rim protectors in the league.
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The Cowboys are reeling after two blowout losses without Elliott.

The Angels formally introduced Ohtani on Saturday, one day after the franchise won the baseball-wide competition for his services. A lively crowd in front of Angel Stadium cheered when Ohtani donned a red No. 17 jersey and hat on stage with team owner Arte Moreno, manager Mike Scioscia and Eppler.

Ohtani doesn’t speak much English, but he stepped to the podium and addressed the fans confidently: “Hi. My name is Shohei Ohtani.”

OK, we succeeded in motivating the Broncos by assuming they would lose at home to the Jets, and they responded with a shutout. Now they can dig themselves further out of the hole to possibly give Vance Joseph a chance at not being one and done. Indy is running on empty trying to save Chuck Pagano. Denver proved it still has a ton of defensive talent when the offense isn’t getting in the way. The basic game plan will work just fine here against a more limited team on both sides of the ball.

After last week’s game in Seattle, the Eagles stayed on the West Coast and practiced this week at Angel Stadium in Anaheim ahead of Sunday’s game against the Rams. “The Big A” was home to the Rams from 1980-94 before the franchise relocated to St. Louis.

Last year’s NFL rushing champ will be out another four weeks and, by the time he returns, the Cowboys could be out of the playoff hunt altogether.

A win Thursday (12:30 p.m., Fox) by the Lions (6-4) over the NFC North-leading Vikings (8-2) would give Detroit a season sweep of Minnesota and open the door for a division title. A loss would all but seal the division for the Vikings and relegate Detroit to wild-card contention. The two teams currently holding the NFC wild-card spots are the Falcons (6-4) and Panthers (7-3), who both beat the Lions earlier this season.
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Contract of Lions coach Jim Caldwell includes team options

San Francisco and St. Louis had been considered among the favorites to acquire Stanton. His affinity and ties to Los Angeles also made the Dodgers a top destination — not to mention their five straight NL West titles and runner-up World Series finish.

Stanton, an eight-year veteran, never has played on a winning team, and Stanton has said he didn’t want to endure another rebuilding of the Miami roster as Jeter works to cut payroll. On Thursday, the Marlins traded second baseman Dee Gordon to Seattle as the Mariners also acquired $1 million in international bonus pool allocation to make what was their unsuccessful push for Ohtani.

Victor Cruz played five years with Eli Manning in New York. In one of those years he won a Super Bowl. He holds his former quarterback in high regard, so to see everything going down in New York over the last two weeks, he was more than willing to give “Good Morning Football” his thoughts on the situation.

“I think benching Eli was probably one of the most disrespectful things I’ve seen in a very long time,” Cruz said.

Cruz caught 509 passes for 4,459 yards and 25 touchdowns from Manning. He has tremendous respect for what the man can do, so he was far from upset when the Giants announced Monday that McAdoo had been fired.

The Bucks scored the final seven points of the quarter to take a 51-42 advantage into the break.

“They had their way with us early,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “If we start games like that, it is very difficult to come back on the road against a good team.”

Milwaukee opened the second half on a 10-3 run and took a 61-45 lead on Antetokounmpo’s basket.royals_005

Several Steelers confirmed the entire team FaceTimed with Ryan Shazier in the locker room after the game.

The Chargers have won five of seven since their 0-4 start. They’ve beaten their last two opponents, the Bills and Cowboys, both on the road, by a combined 82-30. Most of the points they’ve given up have been in garbage time, and their defense has been nearly as much of a threat to score as a threat to stop the other team. Desmond King’s 90-yard pick-six in the fourth quarter was the Chargers’ third in that span.

Steelers players plan to visit Shazier in the hospital to present him with a game ball, and AFC North champions apparel.

Cam Heyward said the #Steelers FaceTimed Ryan Shazier to tell him he got the game ball and he’ll get an AFC North hat and shirt tonight.

“It’s something I’ll never forget,” DE Stephon Tuitt said. Nobody could make out what Shazier said since it was too loud.

Speaking of being overshadowed, SDSU (11-2) has reached the semifinals for the first time, yet the national focus has been dominated by James Madison and North Dakota State this season, even though the Jackrabbits’ seven-game winning streak includes a victory over NDSU. They’ll get their shot at No. 1 seed and defending national champ James Madison (13-0) next Saturday.

Wieneke became the Missouri Valley Football Conference’s all-time leader in receptions (281), adding to the marks he already held in receiving yards (5,052) and touchdown receptions (58). He’s moved into a tie with former New Hampshire star David Ball for second place in FCS history in TD receptions an is third in receiving yards. Kupp holds those marks as well as in career receptions.

“I just try to do my job every play and be the best that I could be every single day,” Wieneke describes his role.panthers_011

Here’s how the Lions came away with the road win.

Injuries: Miami’s Ryan Tannehill, who was coming off his best season, went down during training camp when he reinjured the same knee that sidelined him late in the 2016 campaign. Even though the Dolphins (4-5) remain in playoff contention, Jay Cutler simply has not provided the same spark since he was lured out of retirement by coach Adam Gase. Miami fields the NFL’s 31st-ranked offense heading into Sunday’s home game against Tampa Bay.

As long as the Panthers jump out to early leads and take control of games, they are hard to beat. As they’ve gone run-heavy and away from pass-happy based on personnel, it’s now more difficult for them to rally after bad starts. The bye week arrives at an ideal time for Carolina to get healthier at key positions, just in time for a tough stretch run.

Quarterback Brett Hundley totaled 245 passing yards and a rushing score for the Packers (4-4) in the losing effort. Green Bay was outgained 417-311 in the game.

Sporting News provided live updates throughout Monday’s game.

At 1-9, they’re already out of playoff contention, so there’s really nothing to lose. And the general manager admits it would be “helpful for everybody to see and be able to evaluate” his team’s new franchise quarterback.

The same goes for trying to get Garoppolo up to speed at this point of the season as he absorbs what Lynch described as a “a completely different offense” than the one used in New England.

The 49ers also have limitations on how much Garoppolo can be fast-tracked. There’s only so much practice time, and a novice like Beathard needs all the reps he can get to hold down the fort until Garoppolo is ready to roll.

Alex Okafor to miss rest of season after suffering torn Achilles tendon

The New Orleans Saints’ most dramatic victory of the season came at a price.

New Orleans lost defensive end Alex Okafor to a season-ending torn Achilles in Sunday’s 34-31 victory over the Washington Redskins, a source confirmed to ESPN.

The Saints’ next game is a matchup of surprise division leaders on Sunday at the Los Angeles Rams (7-3).

The problem has been ascribed to Andy Dalton more than enough … which would make A.J. McCarron a possible solution, right? Apparently not, since he was a paperwork glitch away from getting traded at last week’s deadline.

Then it came out Sunday morning, via ESPN.com, that McCarron has a pending grievance against the Bengals to become an unrestricted free agent this coming offseason.

None of this paints a pretty picture of the Bengals’ future. It doesn’t say much for their present, either. They might be the bleakest 3-5 team in the NFL, capable of stunning ineptitude at any time, and with a player of Green’s caliber and value at the ends of his patience.

After finishing 2016 with a career-high 20 interceptions, Philip Rivers has done a better job of taking care of the football this season with seven interceptions through 10 games. However, the Chargers have lacked consistency and rhythm on offense, finishing in the bottom third of points scored and third-down efficiency through the meat of the season. But Rivers could turn things around by playing more consistent football in the last six games of the year. — Eric D. Williams
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The first period in particular rivaled any show you could buy tickets to on the Strip.

Two minutes and 31 seconds in—goal. Tomas Nosek, who’d played only 17 career NHL games before becoming a Golden Knight.

The craziness will end if Verlander can vanquish the Dodgers in Game 6, or things will reach a boiling point if Los Angeles wins to set up a Yu Darvish-Lance McCullers Jr. matchup in Game 7 on Wednesday.

Players on both sides can feel free to collapse once it’s over. Fans who’ve had the privilege of watching this classic World Series on TV or in person probably wish it could go on forever.

“Nothing I say now can turn back the clock, but it’s a life lesson, and hope no kids out there who aspire to race thinks that’s the way you should do it,” he added. “It’s becoming normal in our sport now, and I hate that I’m now in the discussion as a guilty party, but I’ll move on and hope Chase, his team and fans accept my apology.”

“There is, and was, something that is an issue,” said a league source who was not on the conference call and didn’t learn about it until Saturday night. “I’d be very surprised about wanting to change Roger. I’d be shocked about that.”

Yet for all the prominent people who do support Goodell, a contract that was expected to be completed in September has not been finalized as November approaches.

“Maybe Arthur [Blank, the head of the compensation committee] and that committee think they’re on track,” an owner said about Goodell’s extension talks. “But they have a lot more resistance than they counted on — and maybe they don’t know how the resistance is growing as we speak.”
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“It’s good stuff to have for a really young group.”

Mariota’s absence was felt in a 16-10 loss the following week in a very winnable game at Miami. The quarterback is hoping to return to action this Monday night, though even if he does his mobility might be hampered by his injury. Tennessee is just 9-23 SU in its last 32 home games.

Monday night’s total is set at 49 points. The OVER is 6-1 in Tennessee’s last seven games played in October per the OddsShark NFL Database.

Earlier this week, Bowman said he would play if he could get caught up on the Raiders’ schemes and terminology.

“Hey, I’m going to show you something,” Bowman said Monday night.

There have been 38 quarterbacks to start 10 or more seasons since the merger. Brees has the seventh-worst average defense over that period, and the worst of any active quarterback. Here are the quarterbacks with the 10 worst defenses, their average standardized score, and what that would translate to in terms of a 2016 defense:

The Raiders have had a huge need for a veteran presence in the middle of their defense since the offseason began and linebacker Perry Riley Jr. was not re-signed.

Fifth-round draft pick Marquel Lee was the starter at middle linebacker before suffering an ankle injury two weeks ago that kept him out of last weekend’s loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.

Undrafted rookies Nicholas Morrow and Xavier Woodson-Luster are the other two inside linebackers on the roster.

“The work ethic and all that and I think the other part that’s really pretty cool is the kind of tutoring of the younger players at that position,” Del Rio said of Bowman’s influence. “I mean, they’re just soaking it up. When do you lift? How often do you lift? When do you leave? When do you cover this?

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Bengals speedster John Ross expected to play Thursday against Texans

The combine’s fastest man is expected to flash across screens Thursday night when the Bengals take on the Texans.

Cincinnati rookie wide receiver John Ross, who set a record with a 4.22 second 40-yard dash at the combine, is expected to make his NFL regular-season debut, according to multiple reports.

The 2017 draft’s No. 9 overall pick was inactive in Week 1 because of a knee injury sustained in the Bengals’ preseason finale.

DeMarco Murray, Tennessee Titans, hamstring, (Q): Hamstring tightness forced Murray to the bench early in last week’s game and kept him out of practice until Friday, when he returned to limited work. If he does play, there is no way of knowing how well — or how long — Murray can run. His status remains in question up until game day, but ESPN.com’s Cameron Wolfe expects more work from Derrick Henry, even if Murray does take the field.

Melvin Gordon, Los Angeles Chargers, knee, (Q): Gordon was a Thursday addition to the injury report, which often creates concern about a player’s Sunday status, especially when that is followed by another limited practice Friday and a questionable tag. In this case, however, it appears the Chargers are not overly worried about Gordon’s status, instead opting to rest him to some degree on Thursday for the Chargers’ full pad practice after he had some soreness in his knee. On Friday, after practice, coach Anthony Lynn told reporters he does expect Gordon to play. Assuming there is no setback, Gordon should take the field Sunday when the Chargers host the Chiefs.