Justin Pugh: I’m not injury prone

When the Cardinals signed Justin Pugh to a five-year, $45 million deal this offseason, some people noted that Pugh has missed 13 games over the last two seasons and wondered if his body will hold up in Arizona.

We can’t know how things would have gone for Pugh if he’d remained at one position for all of last season, but the hope in Arizona is that he’ll be staying put at right guard all year. If that leads to better health, it would be welcome news for running back David Johnson and perhaps quarterback Sam Bradford‘s own bid to tamp down the injury prone label as well.

Houston handled the defending champions in their hostile, imposing home arena and sustained the latest second-half flurry by Curry, getting 30 points from James Harden and another 27 from Paul to even the Western Conference finals at two games apiece with a 95-92 victory Tuesday night.

Curry scored 28 points and Kevin Durant added 27 points and 12 rebounds but the Warriors missed their final five shots from the floor and their NBA-record postseason winning streak at home ended at 16 games.

The Rockets shook off a 41-point embarrassment in Game 3, a 12-0 deficit to start Tuesday and another big run by the Warriors in the third, then won it with defense down the stretch.

“We’re a team. We’re really good as a team,” Harden said.

Paul rebounded Klay Thompson’s miss just before the final buzzer sounded for the first time and celebrated in front of a stunned, yellow-clad home crowd. A replay review ensued and it was determined Shaun Livingston fouled Paul before the game ended, so Paul made a free throw with 0.5 seconds left.

And he did it all playing on a tender foot.
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How did Lions miss Matt Patricia’s arrest?

Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer long wondered if he’s related to JFK. At 72, he learned the truth.

It would have been January 1945. It would have been somewhere in Manhattan, out where the Irish people gathered. It must have been cold out, driving Joe Geheran and Mary Ann Moroney indoors, into the same building, and eventually the same room, maybe the same corner of a bar or…

In our instances, we’re kind of depending on the depth to which the security guy went to feel comfortable that there was nothing that we needed to know, Banner said.

I understand why people might be frustrated that we didn’t know this and maybe didn’t do the wrong thing to learn about it. But I’d rather be on the side of always doing the right thing and if there’s an arrow to be taken for doing the right thing, I’ll take it 100 times over doing the wrong thing and getting criticized for doing the wrong thing.

Wood said the Lions have received information from background checks that led them to rescind other job offers as recently as the last few weeks.

So it’s not as if we receive something that we don’t like, we ignore it, Wood said.

Since going 2-for-5 vs. the Indians on Saturday, he’s got three hits in 18 at-bats.

Andujar became the Yankees’ starting third baseman when Brandon Drury hit the disabled list April 6 with headaches and blurred vision, the result of a tendon issue in his neck. Drury’s 20-day minor-league rehab assignment is set to end Tuesday, but Boone was non-committal when asked if he could be healthy enough to return to the majors by then.

I like the compete and the adjustability (Andujar) seems to be making when it’s not necessarily clicking, Boone said. He’s having competitive at-bats, so that gives me hope that when it does click back in, there will be another stretch where he starts to drive it.

He’s a guy that’s a versatile guy who can do some different things for us, help us on special teams and obviously, help us on defense,” O’Brien said. ”He just got here, so we’ll see how he does in our system.” Reid is hoping that his experience of living vicariously through his brother over the past few years will help him adjust to the NFL. He said he feels like he’s coming into the league with the mentality of a third-year veteran. colts_007

April matters. Here’s what four weeks of baseball have told us

Believe it or not, the 2018 major league season is already four weeks old. Now, that might not be enough time to completely put to bed cries of ‘small sample size!’ about every trend (or fluke) of the early season, but it’s enough to take a dive in to see how much has changed since Opening Day. We asked ESPN.com’s Bradford Doolittle, Sam Miller and David Schoenfield to weigh in on some of April’s most interesting baseball topics.

Miller: Their records are lagging, but all three teams have actually played pretty well: By Baseball Prospectus’ third-order winning percentage, which estimates what a team’s record “should” be based on offensive and pitching performances, the Nats have played like an 88-win team, the Cubs like a 90-win team, and the Dodgers a 96-win team. That said, the Nationals’ miserable health problems are a much more permanent concern than, say, Yasiel Puig’s slump or Yu Darvish’s blow-up innings, and three NL East teams above Washington have been banking wins. The Nationals’ playoff odds have taken a huge hit.

Schoenfield: My original prediction had the Yankees at 99 wins and the Red Sox at 95. I’m ready to flip that based on what I’ve seen from the Red Sox rotation and the Yankees rotation. So, Red Sox with 99 wins and the division title.

Doolittle: I would go with 97, which is lower than they currently are getting in my simulations, where they average 102.5 wins. However, I think at a certain point, the Red Sox will want to ease up on their starting pitchers to keep them sharp for October. That’s especially true of Chris Sale. Plus, as good as Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts are, it’s unlikely they’ll keep their numbers where they are at the moment.

How many home runs will Giancarlo Stanton finish the season with?

Miller: The answer to that is intertwined with the question of whether the leaguewide home run boom is ebbing, whether the ball is a little deader this year. Early April data suggest that it might be. Stanton will hit 44 home runs.

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Panthers schedule 2018: Carolina still a player in NFC contention

The Panthers reside in one of the best divisions in football, the NFC South, and Carolina’s matchups beyond its own division don’t make its 2018 schedule any easier.

Bottom line: Carolina had what looked like a rough schedule last season and managed to come away with an 11-5 record, nearly stealing the division title from the Saints. This year, the division looks as tough as ever, and fellow NFC teams like the Eagles, Lions and Cowboys could make for some tough games, too. The Panthers are talented in their own right, though, and their style plays well both at home and on the road. Carolina should remain a conference contender. Record prediction: 10-6

It was expected the Packers would draft a cornerback in the first round – and they did in Alexander, a playmaker from Louisville who battled injuries in 2017. Gutekunst doubled down and grabbed Iowa’s Josh Jackson, an All-American cornerback who had first-round projections. Jackson

Alexander is a solid pick. Jackson is a value pick. Their styles complement each other. The latter had eight interceptions for the Hawkeyes. These cornerbacks played well in big games.

It’s a clear message to the rest of the defensive backs on the roster — which includes 2017 second-round picks Kevin King and Josh King — that the problem needs fixing. New defensive coordinator Mike Pettine is bringing in a new scheme, and Green Bay didn’t make a bold move in free agency at the position, other than bringing back veteran cornerback Tramon Williams. Morgan Burnett is gone, too.

Biggest breaks: The AFC East competition helps the Patriots again, as they should sweep the Bills, Dolphins and Jets. Even though Buffalo made the playoffs last season, it’s not the same team this year, and both Miami and New York will be bad again. Taking away New England, the division remains weak.

Bottom line: Talking about the Patriots’ record is like a broken record no matter their opponents. The reigning AFC champions face teams that combined for a 124-132 record last season, tied for the 10th easiest strength of schedule in the NFL. New England will roll in another big season with Brady for another No. 1 or No. 2 playoff seed. Record prediction: 13-3

Kevin Pelton on Irving: The Celtics should still be favored to win their first-round matchup against the Bucks. Milwaukee has actually been outscored this season, despite a winning record, so the short-handed Celtics have been comfortably better without Irving before accounting for home-court advantage in the series.
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Aaron Boone had no idea what was going on. He didn’t then. He wasn’t sure in the moment.

Still, the umpires might have gotten it right, he said.

The packed  Yankee Stadium crowd booed as loudly and in unison as it had in a long time during the Yankees ‘  5-1 win over the Blue Jays on Sunday.

This time, fans weren’t booing Giancarlo Stanton .

They were jeering the umps for what seemed like a ridiculous call and then an even more ridiculous replay challenge result.

Greg Garcia (L), 1 percent, St. Louis Cardinals at Cincinnati Reds (RHP Homer Bailey): Garcia stroked a couple of homers yesterday. What are the chances he does it again? Chasing stats after a player has a great game is ill-advised, unless the matchup warrants it. If Garcia didn’t crush it yesterday, he’d still be recognized for this setup against an encouraging, but “not yet convincingly back” Bailey.

Here’s Boone’s full assessment of the debut of Torres, the Yankees’ best prospect and No. 6 in the game, according to Baseball America:

First at-bat ,I thought he was really anxious, really excited. You could tell. Probably the nerves and jumping out there pretty hard. Really settled in.

His next two at-bats with runners on out there again, controlled the zone a little better. He got into some good hitters counts. I think the 3-1 was the double play. He laid off some pitches that you know they wanted him to chase. Then popped up a ball, I think he was (in a) 3-1 (count) again.

Steps in the right direction I thought each time. Just didn’t impact the ball yet but overall I thought he got better at controlling the zone and I thought that’s what it comes down to.

Per Natural Stat Trick, the Ducks had 17 high-danger scoring chances in the first two games, but they have not been able to crack Sharks goalie Martin Jones, especially during that frantic third period of Game 2. In fact, Jones has been a wall on the penalty kill, facing more shots than any goalie this playoffs, but remaining perfect.seahawks_055

Are you ready for some … male cheerleaders?

The Los Angeles Rams are set to break NFL ground by becoming the first team to have male performers on its cheerleading squad. The two California natives, Quinton Peron and Napoleon Jinnies, were among 76 finalists who auditioned for the 40-member spirit team, ABC News reports.

Peron said he recently attended a Lakers game in Los Angeles and realized that he might be missing out.

“And I was asking myself, ‘Why can’t I be down there?’” Peron said Wednesday during an interview on “Good Morning America.”

The Baltimore Ravens and Indianapolis Colts have male stuntmen, but those performers don’t dance with women, making Peron and Jinnies an “all-time first,” according to “GMA” anchor Robin Roberts.

A video on Twitter introducing the team Wednesday, complete with video montages of Peron and Jinnies, quickly caught the eyes of some fans.

“We know Le’Veon has been a great player for us. We think he can still be a great player from this point forward, and we would love to have him be a Steeler for the rest of his career,” general manager Kevin Colbert said in February, via NFL.com.

The prolific running back posted a tribute to the Steel City earlier this month, around the same time it was announced he was franchise tagged — again.

“Pittsburgh: the city that took in a 21-year old kid from small-town Ohio, the city I battled thru adversity in, the city that I became a man in. I love everything about being a Pittsburgh Steeler, and I want nothing more than to finish the rest of my career in Pitt! #26Forever,” Bell wrote.

With the possibility of Bell sitting out training camp, Colbert kept it vague when discussing the player’s future in Pittsburgh.

“Hopefully Le’Veon comes to training camp. Hopefully he’s a part of a winning team in 2018,” Colbert said at the NFL owners’ meetings, per ESPN. “We’ll react to every situation as it presents itself. But we’ll never sit around and talk about what-ifs.”

The Brooklyn Dodgers infielders were All-Stars for six straight seasons after Robinson’s debut in 1947 integrated MLB.jets_139

Cardinals sign wide receiver Brice Butler to 2-year deal

The Arizona Cardinals have signed free-agent wide receiver Brice Butler to a two-year contract.

Monday’s move addresses one of the team’s biggest needs, depth at the receiver position, following the departures of John Brown and Jaron Brown to free agency.

Mahomes got one start as a rookie, in Week 17 against the Broncos, completing 22 of 35 passes for 284 yards and an interception. But this is much more about projecting Mahomes’ talent base while he’s surrounded by a core group of weapons in Watkins, Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce and Kareem Hunt. The Chiefs’ creative system will feature the West Coast route tree, play-action, run-pass options and even some QB-designed runs for Mahomes, and he has players around him who will get open.

When the Chiefs traded up to get Mahomes in the 2017 draft and then traded away veteran Alex Smith this offseason, it was easy to see they were going all-in on the Texas Tech product. And the skill set is there, along with the system fit, for Mahomes to play big on the pro stage in his first year as an NFL starter.

After snatching two touchdown catches in Week 1, Golladay battled through injuries and was limited to 11 games as a rookie, finishing with 28 receptions for 477 yards and 3 scores. The NIU product averaged 17.0 yards per catch and produced six receptions of more than 30 yards.

He has the frame (6-4), speed (4.50 40 at the combine) and ball skills to get into the end zone. With new coach Matt Patricia retaining offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter, look for Golladay to settle in as the No. 3 option behind Golden Tate and Marvin Jones in the Lions’ three-wide receiver personnel.

The new rule will require a receiver to establish control, get two feet or another body part down, and make a football move, such as taking a third step, extending the ball, or showing the ability to make such an act. It’s no longer required for a receiver to survive the ground with possession of the football if he hits the turf. The rule was presented at the NFL’s league meetings in Orlando this past weekend and put to a vote Tuesday.

Head of officiating Al Riveron said Monday the intention is to ensure memorable and seemingly legitimate catches – such as infamous receptions from Dez Bryant, Jesse James, and Calvin Johnson – aren’t called back. The rule needed approval from 24 of the league’s 32 teams in order to pass. Many owners have vocally supported an adjustment after multiple embarrassing controversies in recent seasons.

McKinley’s energy level jumps out on tape. This guy plays hard on the edge. He’s s a relentless pass-rusher who produced six sacks while playing 381 snaps in a rotational role on the Falcons’ defensive line.patriots_086

Dougherty: Packers’ pickup of Jimmy Graham leaves questions

Gutekunst opted out of the bidding. Maybe he didn’t want to bring in another receiver over or near Adams’ $14.5 million salary – that certainly would have been a concern high on former GM Ted Thompson’s list.

Robinson also prevented the Titans from becoming weaker on both sides of the line of scrimmage by re-signing guard Josh Kline and defensive lineman DaQuan Jones. Kline and Jones combined to start 56 games the last two seasons.

The Titans built an identity under Mike Mularkey’s direction. Robinson and Vrabel, along with their recent additions, should bring consistency and improved play.

The New Orleans Saints re-signed Drew Brees to a two-year, $50 million contract. Everything else beyond that point is icing on the cake.

No one actually expected Brees to leave the Big Easy but getting a deal done wasn’t a given. According to ESPN.com’s Mike Triplett, another franchise offered $60 million in an attempt to entice the 39-year-old signal-caller to leave his home.

We’re talking free agency here, so Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst would have been taking a calculated risk no matter which way he went. With Graham it’s the potential for imminent decline because of age (he’s 31). The talented Watkins has been an underachiever in his four years in the NFL. And Robinson is coming off a torn ACL.

The cost for Watkins and Robinson was higher than you might have guessed going into free agency. Watkins’ three-year deal with Kansas City averages $16 million, includes a $21 million signing bonus and will pay him $34 million the first two years. That average makes him the fourth-highest paid receiver in the league. This for a guy who caught 39 passes in 15 games for the Rams last season.

Details of Robinson’s reported three-year, $42 million contract with Chicago haven’t come out yet, but if those basic numbers are correct, that’s an average of $14 million a year. That’s a big leap of faith on a guy still rehabbing an ACL who probably won’t be ready to practice until training camp.patriots_084

Warriors complain of cold showers at Quicken Loans Arena

Warriors players complained that there was no hot water when they took showers in the visitors’ locker room after Golden State’s 118-108 win over the Cavaliers at Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena on Monday night, according to multiple reports.

Perhaps the Cavaliers were taking a page from the book written by Red Auerbach as he oversaw the Celtics’ dynasties of the 1960s and 1980s. Cold showers were among the many complaints teams had when visiting Boston Garden.

Carolina is led in scoring by yet another former Blackhawks player, Teuvo Teravainen, who has 52 points (19 goals, 33 assists) in 67 games. Teravainen played parts of three seasons in Chicago before he was traded to the Hurricanes in 2016.

Forwards Sebastian Aho (23 goals) and Jeff Skinner (20) have found the back of the net the most for Carolina this season. Veteran Justin Williams, 36, also is near the top of the scoring list with 42 points (13 goals, 29 assists) in 67 games.

This is the second and final meeting of the regular season.

The 46-year-old star is struggling to play the minimum amount of games required to qualify for participation in the Czech Extraliga qualification round because of a ligament injury in his right knee that limited him to one goal in 22 games with Calgary this season.

The regulation-round participation quota exists to ensure that last-second “ringers” aren’t added to teams.

According to Tomá? Pokorny of Blesk.cz, Jagr needs a combination of 15 games between the regular season and the playoffs for Kladno to be able to participate in the qualification round, which is a tournament between the two best First League teams and the two worst Extraliga teams. He has played nine games thus far.

It’s gotten so bad that Kladno played him for one shift in a recent playoff game just so Jagr would be closer to hitting the participation quota. He skated for seven seconds after the opening faceoff before returning to the locker room and ending his night.

There was speculation that Kladno might play him for one shift again in the fifth game of their series against Prostejov on Tuesday, but Jagr was a scratch after practicing that morning. He watched the game from a VIP box with his girlfriend.
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On the other hand, attorneys for the Giants maintained that no wrongdoing has been proven.

The United States outshot Canada 41-31 in this game, and the fact that the Canadians held a lead with just over six minutes left in regulation is a testament to Szabados’ stellar play. Nine of her 39 saves came in overtime. She withstood tremendous pressure in the third period, including an odd-man rush led by Brianna Decker that Szabados quashed with a poke check. She was named the top goaltender in the tournament.

Yes, you’ll hear about how this victory came 38 years to the day after the men’s famous “Miracle on Ice” win, but this gold medal wasn’t improbable — just sweet as can be. One of the greatest rivalries in sports remains hot after the U.S. dethroned Canada, which had won four consecutive gold medals. “I can’t put it into words,” defenseman Kacey Bellamy said after the game. “This whole year is for everyone that came before us. This is for Julie Chu [former U.S. team captain] and for all our families at home, the schools that we went to, everyone supporting us.”

There should be turnover at two positions, as Kilgore (re-signed) is better off as a swing backup and right guard Brandon Fusco is set to become a free agent. The best possible upgrades would be a combination of Ravens center Ryan Jensen and Panthers guard Andrew Norwell, but it’s more realistic for the 49ers to land one of those guys and go for value at the other position.

Giants center Weston Richburg is coming off two down, injury-riddled seasons, but he proved in 2015 he can be elite. Titans guard Josh Kline would be a perfect fit for Shanahan’s zone-blocking scheme. Chiefs guard Zach Fulton is a versatile option who could thrive at center after finishing the 2017 season in that position.

Lawyers from the collectors continued to cliam that Manning, the Giants, their equipment director, and Steiner Sports were complicit in memorabilia fraud.

The Giants are hoping to convince the New Jersey Superior Court judge to issue a summary judgment and avoid a civil trial. The plaintiffs, meanwhile, are hoping to prove they have enough evidence to proceed to trial, scheduled to begin in less than six weeks.

With the defendant (the Giants) arguing there’s no reason for a trial, it’s forcing the plaintiff to put evidence on the table.

“Plaintiffs have put forward no evidence supporting the proposition that engaging in memorabilia fraud is the kind of task that any Giants employee was ever employed or otherwise authorized to perform,” the Giants’ lawyers argue, per ESPN.49ers_074