Cleveland lost a road game in Toronto

“It’s just Game 2 of a new season,” said Irving, chuckling at the mention of his 3 against Toronto being anywhere comparable to his 3 against Golden State. “I’m glad that we went through a close game with a great team like that tonight though. It shows a lot of growth on our end as a team.”

Cavs coach Ty Lue said, bluntly, “Last year we would have lost this game.” Indeed, early on in the 2015-16 campaign, Cleveland lost a road game in Toronto when the Raptors went on a late 31-16 run, prompting a players-only meeting to sift through the wreckage.

“I think partly it indicates that a guy is playing hard to compensate for having less natural ability than other guys,” Schur writes. “Which is not to say those players actually do have less natural ability — just that they are perceived as having less natural ability.”

In the common usage, players can be either talented or gritty. By Duckworth’s definition, players can — and should — have both traits.

“One thing that surprised me when I started doing this research,” she says, “is if you’re really talented, why aren’t you the hardest-working, longest-trying player? Because rationally speaking, you’re getting so much out of every moment on the court. You should be the one! Why wouldn’t you be the one to show up early and stay late because every moment you’re there, you’re getting this huge return?

One of the aspects Stevens likes about grit is that it can apply equally to a player or team that has experienced success and one that has dealt with adversity.

“I learned it at Butler when we went to the national championship twice. Obviously we were hurt because we didn’t win it all, but a lot of people treated us like we had. It was fun to watch those kids just move on to what’s next and try to do it again and try to be a little bit better next time and not rest on what was already achieved. I think that’s a big part of mindset or grit, just as recovering from a tough day is.”

That sounds a lot like an MVP and champion coming back even better the next season.

Television writer and producer Michael Schur, the co-creator of “Parks and Recreation” and the creator of new NBC sitcom “The Good Place,” has spent enough time thinking about grit that he calls it “one of my favorite topics.”

Under the pseudonym Ken Tremendous, Schur wrote about baseball — and more specifically about writing about baseball — on the influential blog Fire Joe Morgan. One of the blog’s favorite hobby horses was how writers lionized the grit of white players who had average or poor statistics, like former St. Louis Cardinals shortstop David Eckstein.

“I’ve wondered whether it’s partly because to pass some threshold of good enough, you can kind of trade off talent with grit. If you’re trying to get to a threshold, you can be talented or gritty. I think one of the things about the players that I most admire is there’s no ceiling on what they want to do.

“I don’t know that Steph Curry goes to bed and says, ‘I’ve reached it.’ [If I’m Curry] I just want to continually get better. If that’s true, rationally, analytically, then you don’t trade them off against each other. You just try to maximize both.”

The Giants are saying all the right things. Now, they have to back it up.

The New York Giants launched training camp on Thursday intent on fusing brave words with bold action.

They definitively have the words honed.

It started with new head coach Ben McAdoo, who required only a few seconds to starkly talk about “a fifth Super Bowl trophy in the case” for the Giants being the goal this season.

Bold words. Brave action.

No one knows if he can win big. No one knows if he can win at all. No one knows how he will handle the fire and intensity of NFL in-game critical moments. No one knows if this Giants’ revamped attitude and roster can emerge and stop the franchise’s slide into mediocrity.

But McAdoo has a crystal-clear approach and plan he believes and sells. The Giants players are clearly on board with it. They look awake. They sound determined.

Besides the talent upgrade, which is distinctive, there are two elements I believe give McAdoo a running start and a clear chance to make the Giants matter this season. First, his belief in playing physical football and, next, his plan for dealing with adversity.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about Johnson’s numbers in Houston is that he largely put them up with lousy quarterbacks. During his 12-year stint in the Lone Star State, Johnson played with 10 different starting QBs, including David Carr, Matt Schaub, Sage Rosenfels, T.J. Yates and Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Johnson’s run of playing with subpar pass throwers continued last year in Indianapolis with Andrew Luck missing the majority of the season due to injury. Forty-year-old Matt Hasselbeck started eight games, failing to complete more than 57 percent of his passes in his final three contests.

Though Johnson’s career accolades speak for themselves, he probably feels as if he has something to prove after his lackluster year in Indianapolis. But after more than a decade in the league, it’s uncertain if he’s physically up to the task.

Titans coach Mike Mularkey was optimistic about how much Johnson could contribute, on the field and in the locker room:

Mularkey on Andre Johnson: “He’s an extreme competitor.” He’ll give young WRs competition and leadership.

— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) July 29, 2016
The Titans have a promising young quarterback in Marcus Mariota, but the No. 2 overall pick didn’t have much help as a rookie. During the offseason, Tennessee bulked up the offensive line and running back corps, but didn’t add much to the receiving group except former Miami Dolphins wide out Rishard Matthews. Johnson should have a strong chance at being a contributor with the organization.

Week 8’s best fantasy football free-agent finds

Normally I lead this column with a broad opening, something that applies to either the theme of the week or the portion of the fantasy football season that we have reached. This week, given the first player on our Week 8 Waiver Wire column, I’m going to address the question that so many have been — or soon will be — asking: Is Ty Montgomery eligible to be played in a running back slot, given his usage with Green Bay?

Mike Gillislee, RB, Buffalo Bills (6.1 percent). As of this writing, we don’t know what LeSean McCoy’s status is for Week 8 against the Patriots. But this much we do know: McCoy left Sunday’s game due to an aggravated hamstring issue, and Gillislee is the next man on the depth chart. He’s a must-add for all McCoy owners and a reasonable pickup in any league for someone who needs running back depth. With a Week 10 bye on the horizon, it wouldn’t be a major shock if McCoy sits the next two weeks.

Does he have an opportunity to get more involved with the company? Quin wants to work with up-and-coming companies to learn and gain experience. That includes sitting in on meetings and potentially going on the road to trade shows and expos to help conduct field tests and marketing. It’s helping him with what Quin and Lukanga call Quin’s “Field MBA,” because he has no plans to attend business school.

Quin has to understand the business plan and what the company is trying to accomplish. Before Quin decides on any investment, Lukanga has Quin explain to him why he’s excited about the company.

Quin won’t go in as a solo investor. He needs to see other experienced investors putting capital behind a company before he’s willing to go in. This has also helped to make sure he’s diversifying his investments. “Whether it’s private equity firms, whether it’s venture capital firms, his money always has to be with good money,” Lukanga said.

“To be a successful investor … you need a few things. A curious mind, disciplined approach to reading people and an aptitude for thinking strategically. Glover has these in spades,” said Manish Shah, a co-founder of a company Quin has invested in. AP Photo/Alex Gallardo
Many high-level investors are NFL fans, and Quin parlayed his experience as an NFL player to bond with mentors in the investment world. He believes he’s viewed as someone willing to learn and get involved more than just using his name.

From August until the end of the season, Quin makes it clear football is his priority. If there’s a deal requiring attention, he addresses it on Monday or Tuesday, when there’s little or no on-field activity. After that, it’s all football. He recognizes football got him here in the first place. In the offseason, he’s as involved as any other investor.

“To be a successful investor, and the kind that I want to work with as a founder, you need a few things,” Shah said. “A curious mind, disciplined approach to reading people and an aptitude for thinking strategically. Glover has these in spades.”

Ty Montgomery, RB/WR, Green Bay Packers (17.8 percent). Regardless of what position he stays at, Montgomery is an add in all leagues. He has collected 20 catches the past two games and has 12 rushes for 66 yards. He reminds me of James White in New England. Even if he tallies more receptions than rushes, those catches serve as an extension of the running game. He’s a fun player to watch.

Let’s try to make sense of Joey Bosa’s holdout with the Chargers

The San Diego Chargers have finally signed Joey Bosa after a long, dramatic stalemate over offset language and Bosa’s signing bonus. The two parties compromised, with the team getting its way on offset language, and Bosa receives the largest signing bonus in the history of the Chargers. Let’s take a look back at what took place leading up to the Chargers and Bosa reaching an agreement.

The Chargers hit the field for training camp last month. Their first-round draft pick, however, didn’t join them. Instead, defensive end Joey Bosa, who was selected with the third overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, decided to hold out over a contract dispute. Until Monday, he remained the only rookie draft pick who hadn’t actually signed with his team.

The team released a statement last Wednesday saying it had provided Bosa’s representatives with its best offer, which Bosa’s side has declined. According to the Chargers, the team offered an initial signing bonus that is the largest any player has received in the last two drafts, more money in this calendar year than every rookie but second overall pick Carson Wentz, and the largest payment and highest percentage of signing bonus paid to any Chargers player since the implementation of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement.

What the statement from the team did not clarify was the timing of the payment of the entire signing bonus and the offset language, which dictates what the Chargers would owe Bosa in terms of guaranteed money if they would decline to pick up his fifth-year option. These are the main issues keeping the Chargers and Bosa from reaching an agreement.

Bosa did participate in OTAs and impressed in rookie minicamp, but his holdout began at the beginning of mandatory veteran minicamp on June 14. He hasn’t taken the field since.

At one point in early August, the team and Bosa reportedly hadn’t spoken in over a week, and negotiations had gone so poorly that Bosa’s mother, Cheryl, wishes her son hadn’t been drafted by San Diego at all, saying it would have been better if the family had chosen to “pull an Eli Manning,” a scenario that Chargers fans remember all too well.

Broncos defenders fined for headshots on Cam Newton

The Denver Broncos were only flagged for one foul after levying several apparent helmet-to-helmet hits on Cam Newton in the season opener Thursday night. But now at least two members of the defense will be hit in the wallet.

Safety Darian Stewart will be fined $18,231 for his illegal hit on Newton, according to ESPN’s Adam Caplan. The standard fine for roughing the passer is $18,231 for a first offense. Brandon Marshall is facing a $24,309 fine for impermissible use of helmet, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Linebackers Von Miller and Shaq Barrett will not be fined by the league for hits on Newton.

There has been a slew of outrage from Newton’s inner circle over the way the situation was handled Thursday night.

The fines likely won’t quell those ill feelings, but the NFL is tacitly admitting the officials should’ve been more proactive Thursday night.

Tom Brady has never eaten a strawberry, but he’s totally fine with avocado ice cream. How do you live a whole life without even trying one?
Patriots right tackle quandary = Marcus Cannon or bust. ESPN’s Bill Barnwell doesn’t see the Patriots as being able to acquire a new offensive tackle this season to help fortify their O-line.

This isn’t the first time Brown has been fined for going overboard in his on-field celebrations. He was docked a whopping $11,576 last season for humping a goal post after he scored a punt return touchdown. The year before that, he was fined $8,268 for kicking Cleveland Browns punter Spencer Lanning in the head during a failed hurdle attempt. In 2012, the NFL smacked him with a $10,000 penalty for running backwards into the end zone.

THE KID WHO RAN ON THE FIELD: The idiot teen on the field at MNF wrote his number on his chest, so we called him. It was a 16-year-old kid named William. He was sober. This was his lifelong dream.

EAGLES GOT TALENT: Watch Eagles long snapper Jon Dorenbos wow with cards, words in America’s Got Talent finale. The magical long snapper just can’t be stopped.

GOTTA CATCH ‘EM ALL: Martellus Bennett is at Boston Children’s hospital — as a Pikachu. The Patriots’ quirkiest player is visiting kids and spreading some good vibes at Boston Children’s hospital today in a Pokemon costume.

A BEAST IN THE WOODS: Marshawn Lynch’s mountainous adventure with Bear Grylls was hilarious and surprisingly profound. Marshawn Lynch on using his hair for fire: “Aww, man. I’m hella sad.”

THE SAINTS CAP GOT WORSE: Saints release running back C.J. Spiller. A shocking move, but not as shocking at the $40 million in dead cap money the Saints are now carrying this year. “I definitely didn’t see it coming,” Spiller said.

Texans-Patriots isn’t the ‘Thursday Night Football’ turd you’re used to

There’s a real chance Rob Gronkowski will play when the Patriots host the Texans on Thursday night. The Patriots are one-point underdogs, but they have a good history when the other team is favored at Foxboro. Don’t miss this infographic preview from Battle Red Blog for the game.

Jacoby Brisset will start, but if he can’t go, then Julian Edelman could be the Patriots’ backup QB, because Bill Belichick is brilliant and weird. Belichick does weirder things than any coach in the NFL. Using Julian Edelman as the team’s backup QB would be the weirdest.

KICK RETURNS ARE UP: Teams are trying to exploit the new kickoff rule in a way the NFL didn’t intend. A new NFL rule meant to decrease the number of kickoffs that are returned has done just the opposite.

Rice, a 12-year-old child playing with a toy gun in a park, was shot and killed by police officers who did not make any attempt to assess or de-escalate the situation before shooting. Following Rice’s death, a United States Justice Department investigation found that the responding officers had no training on attempting to de-escalate situations before resorting to force.

As a result, Ohio’s attorney general, Mike DeWine, eventually took action to establish mandatory training in de-escalation techniques for Ohio law enforcement officers. Now Baldwin is calling on attorneys general from all 50 states to assess their policies and do the same.

Baldwin, whose father is a police officer, emphasized that his statement was not “an indictment of our law enforcement agencies.” He said he was motivated to speak out about this issue after seeing the video of the fatal shooting of Terence Crutcher by police in Tulsa.

“We know that there’s a select few — a very minute few — of law enforcement who are not abiding by those laws and policies,” Baldwin said. “However, we also know that there are laws and policies in place that are not correcting the issue that we have in our society right now.”

Baldwin’s statement comes one day after his teammate Richard Sherman addressed the media on the same topic.

Baldwin pointed to the preamble of the Constitution to support his perspective, citing its directive that “in order to form a more perfect union, we must establish justice and ensure domestic tranquility.”

He also quoted Dr. Martin Luther King, who said, “We must not become a culture, a society, that is more concerned with order than justice.”

“And I believe that if we’re more concerned with order than justice, we’ll lose both,” Baldwin said.

NFL Unsolved Mysteries: Is Aaron Rodgers toast? Is Buffalo good? Is Zeke overused?

With one game left on the docket in Week 6 of the NFL season, we’ve already seen 50 games decided by seven points or less. That’s the highest total through six weeks since 1990, and while it produces exciting football, it just doesn’t tell us much about the teams involved.

In 2014, the eventual Super Bowl winner Patriots started 2-2 and were left for dead after a blowout loss to the Chiefs on Monday Night Football. They then took off on a seven-game winning streak. After Week 6, they were 4-2. Their Super Bowl opponents that year, the defending champions in Seattle, were 3-3 after a loss to the Rams. Neither seemed like a favorite at the time.

When it was over, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett raved about Prescott’s composure and poise, and the rookie repeated, on cue, that he still sees himself as a gracious temp. “This is Tony’s team,” Prescott said, “and I’m just here to help my team win each and every game that I can.”

But it really doesn’t matter what the coach or quarterback says. The Dallas Cowboys are run by one man, Jones, who is the only owner in major professional sports who holds a news conference after every game. Jones makes the late George Steinbrenner look like a wallflower, and on truth serum, Garrett would likely admit he wishes his boss wouldn’t hold these postgame briefings as much as Bill Parcells wished it.
“We’re 1-5. It’s ugly. It’s grim,” Brandon Marshall said.

Fitzpatrick (16-of-31, 174 yards) was the third-most accurate quarterback in the Phoenix area, behind the Cards’ Carson Palmer and former scattershot passer Tim Tebow, who is now playing baseball in the Arizona Instructional League. Yeah, it was that bad, but it wasn’t entirely Fitzpatrick’s fault. His pass protection was shaky and his receivers were Marshall and a bunch of inexperienced kids. Yes, they lost a good player in Eric Decker, but this collapse can’t be blamed on his absence.

The Jets are a flawed team, and that falls on general manager Mike Maccagnan, who assembled a win-now team that isn’t winning now. Forget about the playoffs. Since 1970, only two teams rallied from a 1-5 start to make the postseason — the 1970 Cincinnati Bengals and the 2015 Kansas City Chiefs.

Bowles has bigger problems than at quarterback. His vaunted run defense, the only thing they do well, was ripped apart by David Johnson, who ran for 111 yards and three touchdowns. They did nothing in the second half, as usual. They’ve been outscored, 51-7, in the third and fourth quarters of the last four games.

The last thing they need is a quarterback controversy that divides the locker room, but you saw subtle signs on Monday night. Smith made his feelings known by his behavior on the sideline, which prompted no reaction from Fitzpatrick after the game. It was noteworthy that Fitzpatrick mentioned how he believes “those guys in the huddle” still believe in him, adding, “You can go ahead in the locker room and ask them all if you want.”

“If he has a pep in his step, I think Landry can strike it,” Bell said. “I think there was a point last year where he did feel [confident]. He came in striking … We know what Landry can do. He’s a lot more comfortable, a lot more confident. We don’t want him too tense or thinking about too many things.”