Lions to practice with Raiders, Giants this summer

When Lions coach Matt Patricia was on the Patriots coaching staff, the team often held joint practices with other teams during training camp and he said in April that he wanted to do the same thing in Detroit.

Patricia’s wish has been granted. The Lions announced on Friday that they will hold practices with the Raiders and Giants this summer.

The Lions will travel to Napa to work with the Raiders at their training camp on August 7 and 8 before they play a preseason game in Oakland on August 10. They’ll host practices with the Giants from August 14-16 and then play a game at Ford Field on August 17.

There are few decisions in recent NHL history as maligned as the one Florida GM Dale Tallon made in opting to protect defensemen Mark Pysyk and Alexander Petrovic rather than Marchessault, who led the team with 30 goals in 2016-17. Vegas jumped at the chance to draft the 5-foot-9 forward, whom McPhee called a hard-working player with no ego. Marchessault had a career-high 75 points this season, including 27 goals. He has 18 points in 15 games in the playoffs.

It’s hard to say right now who will be that number two, Cardinals coach Steve Wilks said, via Darren Urban of the team website. We’re still working, and those guys understand and know — we talk about it all the time — the best 11 are going to play. We create competition.

Christian Kirk, a second-round pick this year, and Chad Williams, a third-round pick last year, figure to play into the competition along with Brice Butler, Cobi Hamilton and J.J. Nelson. Nelson had the second-most yards on the Cardinals behind Fitzgerald last season with 508, though he caught only 29 passes.

And the Cardinals still could sign a veteran to fit into the mix, via Urban.

The Rangers were hamstrung by protecting a young core while managing no-movement clauses, and they had to expose players they liked, such as Lindberg. Vegas was enamored by the then-25-year-old’s speed and took him instead of guys such as Jesper Fast, Antti Raanta and Michael Grabner. Fast might have been the better pick. Lindberg never found his footing in Vegas (11 points in 63 games) and has cracked the lineup in just three playoff games.

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NFL execs admit pressure from Trump a factor on anthem policy

A day removed from the NFL changing its national anthem policy, it’s hard to escape the feeling that they were simply bullied by the President into doing something, whether it actually made anybody happy or not.

[Trump] certainly initiated some of the thinking, and was a part of the entire picture, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. But all of that was given consideration.

Others cited market pressures, with Colts vice chair Carlie Irsay mentioning letters the team received from suite holders who said they were more upset with the league than the team.

At the end of the day, we are an entertainment property, 49ers owner Jed York said. You tune into football on Sunday or Monday or Thursday to get away from everything else. And I think people have had enough of the political fights. I think people do want to get back to football. But our players also have the ability, and the right to champion their causes and bring attention to those causes.

York was the one owner to abstain from the vote, which the league announced as unanimous.

Meredith, who caught 66 passes for 888 yards and four touchdowns in 2016, was injured during the preseason while with the Bears. The Saints signed the restricted free agent to an offer sheet that Chicago declined to match.

He expects to be ready for the start of the season.

If Oliver Ekman-Larsson doesn’t accept what we understand is a Coyotes’ offer of an eight-year extension in the neighborhood of $8 million per, the defenseman with one year to go on his contract will all but certainly be dealt at the draft. Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson, also a pending 2019 free agent, is expected to be traded, as well.

The potential availability of OEL and Karlsson on the market was a factor in the Rangers’ decision to move Ryan McDonagh at the deadline rather than to wait until the offseason. Again, though, it was Tampa Bay’s inclusion of Libor Hajek into the package coming back to New York that sealed the deal.

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Saints sign Sharrod Neasman, waive Mykkele Thompson

The Saints swapped one safety for another on Thursday.

Herbie Teope of NFL Media reports that the team has signed Sherrod Neasman to their 90-man roster. Neasman tried out for the team at their rookie minicamp earlier this month. Mykkele Thompson has been waived in a corresponding move.

Neasman played in 14 regular season games and five postseason contests for the Falcons over the last two seasons and made six tackles. He was not tendered a contract this offseason by Atlanta and worked out for the Chiefs in April before landing with New Orleans.

At a time when the discontent has spread to players like quarterback Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski, maybe there really is a deeper problem in the locker room, where the core of players obsessed with winning has been overcome by a critical mass of players who are sick of being constantly criticized. The tipping point quite possibly came during Super Bowl LII, when Belichick apparently departed from the win-at-all-costs mindset to instead play some sort of mind game with cornerback Malcolm Butler, leaving him on the sideline as the defense couldn’t stop Philadelphia’s offense.

Vea’s contract will be for four years with a team option for a fifth year. That option must be exercised before Vea’s fourth season and is guaranteed for injury only.

Vea had 99 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks and two forced fumbles over three years at the University of Washington. He’s part of a new look defensive line in Tampa as Jason Pierre-Paul, Vinny Curry, Beau Allen and Mitch Unrein also joined the team this offseason.

Bob Smith: My first team was the Sixers of Wilt Chamberlain, Hal Greer and Chet The Jet Walker, who couldn’t get by Bill Russell. Jumped on the Knicks bandwagon in the late ’60s and got to see Cowens and Co. get theirs. The Dean Meminger game in ’73 and the Cavs’ win in Boston are real highlights for those of us who feel the same way about anything Boston.

Vac: However much the Celtics may have been likable, I’m pretty sure what I heard when I opened my window late Sunday night was America cheering.

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Jay Ajayi wants to return to workhorse role

Running back Jay Ajayi joined the Eagles in the middle of the 2017 season and split time in the backfield with LeGarrette Blount and Corey Clement on the way to a Super Bowl title.

Blount left as a free agent this offseason, but Clement is still around and the Eagles brought back Darren Sproles after last year’s torn ACL. Recent draft picks Wendell Smallwood and Donnel Pumphrey are also on the roster and former Washington starter Matt Jones recently joined the team, so the pieces for another committee would certainly seem to be in place.

Always wanted to play in front of these fans, Marshall wrote in a post with a picture of him in a 12th man shirt.

The 34-year-old Marshall is a six-time Pro Bowler, but the Giants cut him in April with a failed physical designation. He was coming off ankle surgery after playing five games last year for Big Blue.

While players were discouraged by the league’s decision, they were happy that Jets CEO and chairman Christopher Johnson publicly said he would not impose punishment on any player who protested, and would pay any fines the Jets, as a team, incurred from the league for their players staging a protest.

We’ve been actively in conversations with Christopher, on how we can go about it, and other ways to make change, Kearse said. I’m very appreciative of him. I think he kind of gets it, the fact that he has taken ownership, to support us and be actively involved.

We’ve spent an awful lot of time, I think this is our fourth day in the red zone, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said, via Andrew Krammer of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. I think it’s just important we get a lot of work in there. We put a big emphasis on it last year. We’re going to continue to do so.

While Cousins has found some early rapport with tight end Kyle Rudolph, the rest of the passing game is a work in progress. With new coordinator John DeFilippo putting in new things, there’s a big emphasis on installation this time of year, with a new set of basics like snap counts and play calls.

That’s why we’re doing it. It’s not easy, Cousins said. It is condensed. You have to be on the screws. Your throws have to be that much more accurate. The routes have to be that much more perfect in terms of the depth, the cut and the timing. That’s why we’re practicing it right now. . . .

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Cowboys bring back Darius Jackson, sign Antwaun Woods

The Cowboys made a few roster moves on Tuesday and followed those up with a few more on Wednesday.

Todd Archer of ESPN.com reports that the team has signed running back Darius Jackson, defensive tackle Antwaun Woods and wide receiver Mekale McKay to the 90-man roster. They also added linebacker Eric Pinkins on Tuesday.

Jackson is making his second stop with the Cowboys, who drafted Jackson out of Eastern Michigan in the sixth round of the 2016 draft. He spent most of the regular season on the active roster, but never played before being cut to make room for Darren McFadden’s return from injury in December. He was claimed off waivers by the Browns and spent last season on injured reserve.

This is often the reasoning this time of year, but sometimes attitudes change once the season is under way. Receivers and running backs get paid based on their numbers, as does a pass-catching tight end such as Engram.

Manning at this time last year thought he was preparing for a passing parade featuring Beckham, Shepard, Brandon Marshall and Engram as a rookie. Injuries took Beckham and Marshall off the field well before Halloween, and Shepard missed five games. At times, Manning had Engram in his first season and a bunch of bottom-of-the-roster players at his disposal. If this group stays healthy, there will be a surplus of riches, and Manning will be tasked with keeping everyone happy.

Making the increasing external attacks on the Patriot Way more intriguing is the fact that, internally, all seems far from hunky and/or dory. Quarterback Tom Brady remains absent from offseason workouts, possibly because after 18 years with Belichick, Brady just can’t take it any more.

And it probably is much easier to deal with doom and gloom when the effort and the stress and the stifling of individuality results in a ring. To see a team that truly has fun take the championship from the Patriots has to raise questions from within, especially when the biggest question regarding Super Bowl LII — the failure of Belichick to use cornerback Malcolm Butler in an effort to outscore the Eagles — still hasn’t been answered.

Pundits paraded through cable news programs, suggesting that because Roseanne portrayed a Trump supporter on her show and because Trump supporters loved her show, her real-life racism revealed their real-life racism, too.

Two years after Trump was elected and despite plenty of evidence to the contrary (a study by the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group showed that 9.2 percent of Obama voters went for Trump, helping him seal his victory), people who hate Trump still fundamentally believe his supporters are bigots at heart.

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The rumor that running back Saquon Barkley will be selected by the New York Giants with the No. 2 overall pick at this year’s NFL draft is picking up steam.

ESPN insider Todd McShay said Wednesday that it feels inevitable that Barkley will be a Giant after the NFL draft, per Tom Rock of Newsday, adding that Barkley is a franchise-changing player.

But he still has potential, especially if the guidance of an NFL coaching staff can help to improve his vision and post-snap reads. He’s a massive presence in the pocket at 6’6 and 232 pounds, and that body type will always be appealing to quarterback-needy teams searching for hidden gems in the later rounds. There’s a reason why about 16 teams showed up at Marshall’s pro day, per Tony Pauline of Draft Analyst.

As NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein observed, Litton has a quick release, is a quality rhythm thrower and can put good touch on the ball to hit precise targets. That means he offers something to work with, even if his accuracy and decision-making put up concerning red flags.

Johnny Manziel on Spring League: I got to do exactly what I want to do

The second and final doubleheader of the Spring League season was played on Thursday night and Johnny Manziel was once again the center of attention in Austin, Texas.

Manziel ran for two touchdowns in the first half of the game and completed 10-of-16 passes for 188 yards and an interception over the entire contest to wrap up his long-awaited return to game action.

I got to do exactly what I want to do and what I’ve been missing for the last two years, Manziel said, via ESPN.com.

Now Manziel will turn his attention to figuring out where he’ll play his next game. He’s said he’ll play in the CFL if no NFL job materializes.

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Giants GM expresses interest in Dez Bryant after releasing Brandon Marshall

It just makes too much sense for the New York Giants. Following the release of wide receiver Brandon Marshall earlier in the day, general manager Dave Gettleman took to the media and seemingly indicated that the team is interested in free agent pass catcher Dez Bryant.

We already know that Bryant wants to remain in the NFC East after being released by the Dallas Cowboys earlier in the month. Up to this point, no team within the division had shown any real interest in signing the former Pro Bowl receiver. That has now changed.

The final count on the whistles: 30 fouls for the Heat, 26 for the 76ers, and three technicals each as well.

But just like in Game 1, Philadelphia pulled away after halftime and now it’s the Heat back on the ropes.

76ers: Philadelphia had a pair of shooters fouled beyond the 3-point line in the first quarter: Robert Covington made two of his three free throws, and Belinelli turned his chance into a four-point play…. Embiid missed his first five shots, then put his finger to his lips in the universal shush sound to the crowd after getting his first one to fall.

Darnold, he’s like a cow on ice, Dan Shonka told the New York Post. His footwork is all over the place. His feet in the pocket are embarrassing. When you turn the ball over [35 times] in 26 games, you’re intellectually dishonest when you’re talking about bringing in Sam Darnold as your next savior. This guy opens his hands over the ball, it just drops out when he’s in the pocket. If you look at his film, they talk about his accuracy.
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Shonka scouted for National Football Scouting, the Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, the Kansas City Chiefs during his career and is now the general manager of Ourlads.

In two seasons as a starter at USC, Darnold completed 64.9 percent of his passes for 7,229 yards with 57 touchdowns and 22 interceptions on the way to a 153.7 passer rating.

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With the earlier release of the Miami Dolphins’ updated uniforms, Thursday’s theme quickly became one of simplicity.

Jacksonville dumped gold everywhere except in its logo, relying on its very 1990s pairing of dominant colors. It’s a union that has grown from trendy to traditional, punctuated by a lack of accents on most of the uniform.

What remains is the neck accents, which are sharper and have an increased aesthetically pleasing effect with less going on elsewhere. The Jags shield has also been replaced with the team’s primary logo on the left chest.

Perhaps the coolest addition to the Jags’ new duds? The socks.

Griffin is one of the 22 players invited to attend the draft in Dallas, and he said he’s most grateful he gets to have my family there, seeing them fitted for suits and dresses. You only get drafted once.

I’ll be there with these first-round picks who will be worried about when they get picked and where. As long as I do somewhere, I’m grateful. I’m not worried about when or where.

Since his move to linebacker, Griffin finished his junior and senior seasons with a total of 166 tackles and 18.5 sacks. He was named as an All-AAC selection the past two years and was a 2017 second-team All-America.

nalysis: The Lions are in the midst of overhauling their linebacking corps and how much more work needs to be done remains to be seen.

Tahir Whitehead and Paul Worrilow are gone. In their stead, the team added Devon Kennard and Christian Jones via free agency. The Lions also brought in Jonathan Freeny on the cheap, a depth option who could contribute on special teams.

Paired with Jarrad Davis, last season’s first-round pick, the group appears to be bigger, if nothing else.

What’s clear is new Lions coach Matt Patricia places a premium on linebackers, dating back to his time coaching the position in New England. So even though the depth chart appears chock-full following free agency, and three-linebacker packages are on the decline in the pass-happy NFL, we simply cannot rule out further additions in the draft, even as early as the first round.

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Saints pick up Andrus Peat option

The Saints have invested heavily in a quarterback, and they want to make sure to protect him.

According to Field Yates of ESPN, the Saints have picked up the fifth-year option on offensive lineman Andrus Peat, keeping him under contract through 2019.

The 13th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, the tackle from Stanford bounced around a bit his first two years, but settled in at left guard and became a steady player for them.

Spilling into the third day, less traditional body types come into play. The Lions have shown plenty of interest in Poona Ford during the pre-draft process, despite the former Texas Longhorn measuring just 5-foot-11 at the combine.

It could be argued defensive tackle was one of the Lions’ biggest needs heading into free agency. The loss of Ngata and addition of Williams represent treading water, at best. This draft offers a real opportunity for the Lions to improve a below-average area of the roster.

With the Wizards falling behind by as much as 22 points in the first quarter, Beal would go on to finish with a plus-minus of -34. According to ESPN Stats and Information research, that is the worst plus-minus by any Wizards player in the past 20 postseasons.

But it doesn’t take stats to see that Beal was out of his normal smooth-shooting rhythm, especially when the game was on the line. Though he shot 8-for-17 and scored 19 points in Game 1, he went 3-for-11 from behind the arc combined in the first two games in Toronto. In the fourth quarters of this series so far, the Raptors have held Beal to a total of two points on 1-for-7 shooting, including 0-for-4 from 3-point range.

I really won’t know what to say, that is up to Brad to tell you, Wizards point guard John Wall said when asked about what might be wearing on Beal. He’s been our MVP this year, he’s held it down a lot while I have been out. He is not going to make excuses about playing the most minutes [of his career] or being fatigued.

We have to do a better job, and me as a point guard, of getting him involved and trying to find him shots to make it easier on him. And I know he will be very tough on himself; he is definitely going to get in the gym and get up extra shots and find ways to be more aggressive. We definitely need his scoring and his ability to create for others to make our team better and compete against this team.

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Jaire Alexander visits Titans

The Titans used a first-round pick on cornerback Adoree Jackson in 2017, and they added cornerback Malcolm Butler in free agency. That’s not keeping them from considering the possibility of using another first-round pick on a cornerback in 2018.

Via Paul Kuharsky, Louisville cornerback Jaire Alexander visited the Titans on Wednesday.

Over the last few years we’ve seen some dynamic changes in the helmet industry, both from new innovators as well as new helmets and models from incumbent companies, said Jeff Miller, the NFL’s senior vice president of health and safety policy.

The purpose of the continuation to rank helmets and the joint decision with the players’ association to prohibit is to increase that movement into better performing helmets. We are encouraged this is an important step for better player safety.

The Houston Texans were next with 4-to-1 odds, followed by the Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints and Washington Redskins at 5-to-1. The Giants were listed at 10-to-1. Bryant, who was scheduled to make $12.5 million in 2018 and count $16.5 million against salary cap, met with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on Friday amid speculation that he would be asked to take a pay cut in the wake of declining production the past three seasons. The 29-year-old Bryant had a team-leading 69 receptions for 838 yards and six touchdowns with the Cowboys in 2017.

He has gone a career-worst 23 regular-season games without a 100-yard performance. Since signing a five-year, $70 million contract in 2015, Bryant has failed to record a 1,000-yard season or reel in more than eight touchdown receptions in a season.

Leading off with our quality road trip, to go on the road given all the strategic advantages and sweep…. To go out and take four of six was cool, said Kapler. There wasn’t one specific reason. We pitched deep into games. We got some strategic hits. Our guys were gritty, demonstrated a lot of conviction in their pitches for us and produced a good road trip for us.

The Phillies are 10-7 through the first 17 games. That would be considered a quality start to the season and not indicative of some of the turmoil the Phillies went through on the opening road trip.

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