Are the Vikings better off trading up or down in the NFL draft?

In the 2010 draft, the Vikings traded out of the first round, then wound up with Chris Cook and Toby Gerhart in the second round — a cornerback who never panned out and a running back who was an extreme luxury item with Adrian Peterson in his prime.

If not for the Everson Griffen pick in the fourth round — a move that didn’t pay off for a couple of years, mind you, but paid off big-time when it did — that draft would be close to a total washout.

He ran one of the fastest 40 times at the combine, showing he has the ability to run with the NFL’s deep-threat receivers. Jackson height could be an issue with teams. He had 49 tackles with 10 passes broken up and an interception in 2017 after making 39 tackles with eight breakups and two interceptions in 2016.

A transfer from North Carolina, Hughes had four interceptions, 11 passes broken up, a forced fumble and 49 tackles in 2017. He also is a dangerous returner, scoring two TDs on kickoffs and one as a punt returner.

A punter appearing on this list might seem strange, but King said there was a “revenge factor” in his decision to team up with rival Denver after being released by Oakland. With the Pro Bowler’s penchant for celebrations, there’s potential for fireworks. Ex-Oakland wide receiver Michael Crabtree will also get a run at his old squad when the Ravens take on the Raiders on Nov. 25 in Week 12.

49ers RB Jerick McKinnon at Vikings (Sept. 9, Week 1)

McKinnon enjoyed a productive four-year run as a change-of-pace back in Minnesota, but he was searching for a larger role with Dalvin Cook set to return from injury. San Francisco was eager to give him just that, as they forked over a four-year, $30 million deal. McKinnon should get plenty of opportunities to remind Minnesota of his value given he’ll be seeing a high volume of touches in Kyle Shanahan’s system.seahawks_073

Stephen Curry defends decision to throw ball at Bulls’ David Nwaba’s back

Warriors guard Stephen Curry’s sportsmanship conduct came under question in Wednesday’s 119-112 win over the Bulls, but he was quick to defend his actions.

At the end of the first quarter, Curry intentionally threw the ball at Bulls guard David Nwaba’s back with 0.1 seconds remaining out of frustration.

This matters because whether the Pelicans can cling to that final playoff might determine Demps’ fate. And Demps has been steadfast in keeping Davis, who is not up for free agency until 2020.

A new front office, however, could be more open to a complete rebuild in New Orleans, which has a hefty contract belonging to Jrue Holiday ($26 million next season), as well as $32 million committed next season to the troika of Solomon Hill, Omer Asik and E’Twaun Moore. There’s some logic to shedding deals where possible and starting over, even if it means parting with a mega-star like Davis.

The Lakers shot 2-14 on free throws Friday, the lowest FT pct (14.3%) by any team in a game in NBA history (min. 10 FTA).

The Pistons went 3-for-17 (17.6 percent) in a 109-86 loss at home against the Pelicans last March.

Three Lakers starters were sidelined with injuries Friday, but of those, only Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (76.5 percent this season) is an effective free throw shooter. Brandon Ingram shoots 67.6 from the line, and Lonzo Ball has been downright poor, at just 48.0. In fact, the Lakers were shooting a league-low 69.5 percent from the line even before Friday night’s performance dragged it down further.

Lakers coach Luke Walton credited his team’s defense for being able to recover from such terrible free throw shooting, a notion supported by the Pacers’ own shooting woes – they made just 2-of-25 three-point attempts. That 8 percent is the worst in franchise history, as well as the lowest by a Lakers opponent in team history with a minimum of 20 attempts, ESPN notes.

Must have been a tough watch at Staples Center.packers_002

Nick Foles won Super Bowl MVP after a heart-stopping Eagles win over the Patriots in Super Bowl 52. So, what will he take home as a prize?

For more than 10 years, the winner of the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player award went home with a new car. That was thanks to the NFL’s deal with General Motors, which saw Super Bowl MVPs like Santonio Holmes take home a Cadillac Escalade Hybrid in 2009 and Aaron Rodgers receive a Chevrolet Camaro in 2011.

But when Hyundai took over as the NFL’s corporate sponsor for the 2015 season, the tradition of Super Bowl MVPs winning cars was abandoned and has not been replaced. Tom Brady is about to play in his eighth Super Bowl and has already taken home four MVP awards in five Super Bowl wins.

A signing that would make a ton of sense is the Jaguars’ Paul Posluszny. A long-time middle man for the Jaguars, he thrived on the strong side of their defense last season. The 34-year-old is only one season removed from having 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh as his position coach.

Posluszny’s versatility and leadership would be welcome for Lynch, and the veteran would help San Francisco hedge bets should Foster, who also was hurt a lot as a rookie, need to be disciplined and miss time.

In theory, there is a reason a team might prefer a left-footed punter, and Patriots coach Bill Belichick may be one of the people most responsible for people being aware of it.

Punts off left feet spin in the opposite direction of those coming off the feet of right-footed punters, and former Chiefs returner Dante Hall once described it as trying to catch “a Roger Clemens curveball coming from the sky.”

According to a study in 2013 by Bird Breakdown, 3.24 percent of punts from left-footed punters were muffed over a nearly 12-season span, compared to 2.34 percent of right-footed punters. Less than 1 percent difference isn’t much, but NFL teams love any advantage they can find.

“Now that you have more lefties, I think people get used to it a little bit more,” Chiefs punter Dustin Colquitt told SI. “But it’s most definitely still a point of concern and a topic. I’ve never heard anybody say, ‘We are facing a right-footed punter this week,’ ever. But it’s always mentioned if there is a lefty.”49ers_113

The Eagles return from their bye rested and clearly feeling good about themselves.

Once again, Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch remained seated during the national anthem. Meanwhile, the Christian Hackenberg experiment is going as expected. In the first half, the Jets’ quarterback went 2 for 6 for 14 yards with a 42.6 passer rating. On the other end of the quarterback spectrum, Aaron Rodgers, Dak Prescott, and Marcus Mariota impressed. In non-quarterback news, Panthers rookie running back Christian McCaffrey looked downright dominant and Jaylon Smith got the start for the Cowboys.

The Seahawks won their game against the Vikings on Friday but suffered a pretty big loss too, as left tackle George Fant was lost for the season with a knee injury. You can read about that plus Michael Bennett continuing his protest, Russell Wilson and Sam Bradford looking sharp, Dalvin Cook excelling and Blair Walsh’s revenge in Friday’s roundup.

They play Sunday night at Dallas against the Cowboys, who will be without Ezekiel Elliott and have key injuries at other positions. The Eagles have a great opportunity to all but wrap up the division title, which is already a near certainty.

The win Sunday night in Denver was routine and the Patriots are spending the week in Colorado, practicing at the Air Force Academy, for this weekend’s meeting with the Raiders in Mexico City. The AFC East race is over. It’s all about the race with the Steelers for the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs.

That would put things in a different context. Whether the Giants are persuaded by that remains to be seen.

Trubisky time. … It clearly is time for the Bears to turn to prized rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. It’s not all Mike Glennon’s fault, for sure. But Thursday night’s 35-14 loss at Green Bay was dreadful, and there’s no reason not to get the Trubisky era underway.

Bravo, Deshaun Watson. The rookie quarterback for the Houston Texans giving his first NFL game check to three workers in the team’s cafeteria who’d suffered major losses from the flooding in Houston was classy and touching. What more can you say? …
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The 34-year-old Gore continues to defy the odds when it comes to how productive older running backs can be in the NFL

He began the season eighth on the all-time rushing list but he has moved ahead of Eric Dickerson, LaDainian Tomlinson and Jerome Bettis to fifth on the list.

Gore, who said last week that he plans to return for his 14th season, likely will pass Curtis Martin (14,101) for fourth on the all-time list in 2018.

Also on Sunday, Gore reached 1,200 yards from scrimmage in the fourth quarter, which extended his NFL-record streak to 12 years.

If they decide to fire him, Joseph, 45, would become the first non-interim coach in franchise history to last only one season. Should the Broncos part ways with Joseph, general manager John Elway will conduct his fourth head coach search in his seven seasons on the job.

Joseph, the team’s first African-American head coach, replaced Gary Kubiak a year ago when Kubiak stepped away from coaching because of health concerns.

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Texans TE C.J. Fiedorowicz could be forced to retire due to concussions

Fiedorowicz was selected by Houston in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft and signed a three-year contract extension worth $21.5 million with the Texans last summer. He has 89 catches for 881 yards and six TDs in his career.

Rookie quarterback Nathan Peterman will start for the Buffalo Bills on Sunday in place of the injured Tyrod Taylor, the team announced.

The Bills are 6-6 and contending for an AFC wild-card berth entering Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts.

Taylor was injured on Buffalo’s first play from scrimmage in last Sunday’s 23-3 loss to the New England Patriots when he was sacked while scrambling toward the sideline. Taylor remained in the game until early in the fourth quarter, when he was carted off. In his place, Peterman completed 6 of 15 passes for 50 yards.

The Bills benched Taylor before their Nov. 19 game against the Los Angeles Chargers in favor of Peterman, a fifth-round draft pick in 2017. Peterman threw five interceptions in the first half against the Chargers before being replaced by Taylor, who reclaimed the starting job the following week.

Brown currently leads the NFL in receptions (80) and receiving yards (1,195). He is tied for second with eight receiving touchdowns.

The Steelers are currently 9-2 on the season, three full games in front of the Ravens for the lead in the AFC North.

1987 was supposed to be a magical year for Vince Evans. The former Bears quarterback had returned to the NFL after several years in the USFL, and found himself in Los Angeles, where he’d gone to school at USC, as a backup with the Raiders.

Jones claims that details of the contract were not disclosed and that the deal moved away from a more incentive-based version. He also alleges that the committee is not unanimous on the deal, going back on Blank’s assurance that the committee would be in complete agreement on it.
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Andy Reid’s team is a little out of its identity at the moment

On his uncivil war with Goodell and the league, Jones said, “I’m not really going to spend any time here tonight because it would take me an hour. And seriously, I’ve got a lot of things as we move over the next days ahead that will be apparent.” Jones did claim he hasn’t heard from fellow owners asking him to pipe down, but that if he did his response would be simple. “Ask them to pipe down,” he said.

Jones can keep this soap opera going as long as he wants because he owns the sport’s signature franchise. Some Dallas fans agreed with his decision to show more support for accused-batterers Elliott and Greg Hardy than he showed protesting players, and some didn’t. But all Dallas fans agree that they’re not happy with 5-5 and with the 21 years and counting of failing to reach the NFL’s final four.

Andy Reid’s team is a little out of its identity at the moment, as the Kareem Hunt express has slowed and the Alex Smith explosiveness isn’t producing as well as it did earlier in the season. It would be disastrous for the Chiefs not to get a top-two seed and a home game at Arrowhead in the playoffs after the start Kansas City had to the year.

The Eagles, Steelers, Patriots and Saints have emerged as the NFL’s most feared foursome after nine unpredictable weeks of the regular season. While the AFC powerhouses are no surprises, the NFC re-boom of Philadelphia and New Orleans is real and spectacular, too.

That also means there has been little margin for error for some established contenders. Kansas City and Seattle were breathing down the top, but tough losses to NFC East foes have them trending in the wrong direction at the worst time.rangers_567-115x115

Nikola Jokic led the Nuggets with 28 points and Jamal Murray scored 20.

Kyle O’Quinn added 15 points and 12 rebounds for the Knicks. Lee and Enes Kanter each had 12 points for the Knicks. McDermott finished with 11 and Jack finished with 10 assists.

Nuggets: Host Toronto on Wednesday. The teams will play again in Toronto on March 27. The Raptors won both matchups last season.

Knicks: Host Houston on Friday. The teams last met on New Year’s Eve 2016, with the Rockets posting a 129-122 victory. They play again in Houston on November 25.

Then Hayward was injured before the season was six minutes old, and the Celtics lost their first two games, on back-to-back nights.

“Things were going rough for him at the beginning of the season. A lot of people doubted him,” said guard Terry Rozier, who had 10 of his 12 points in the fourth quarter. “I feel like we all had to adapt to him. It’s worked out pretty well.”

Reserves Brandon Paul had 18 points and Rudy Gay scored 14 for San Antonio.

It was the first game this season that LaMarcus Aldridge didn’t lead San Antonio in scoring. He had 11 points.

He wasn’t consistent, and everyone knows he deals with knee problems, which affected his draft stock and clouds his long-term outlook. As for the short term, Ajayi should be healthy enough to upgrade Philadelphia’s running game, though it’s far more balanced than what he encountered in Miami, and perhaps just as critically he’s a strong option in pass protection. Have to keep Carson Wentz upright!heat_051

Smart’s hustle plays aren’t lost on his new teammates.

Hoyer was one of the few bright spots for the 2013 Browns, winning his first three starts before being forced to miss the rest of the season with a knee injury.

What happened? The Browns were 7-6 with Hoyer in 2014 when head coach Mike Pettine made the ill-fated decision to instead start Johnny Manziel. Cleveland lost all three remaining games, and Pettine never came close to fielding a winner again before getting fired following the 2015 campaign. Hoyer has since bounced between Houston, Chicago and San Francisco.

Matt Cassel won’t help them win anything, so they had better hope Marcus Mariota can return after only one week out of the lineup. With a still-shaky defense, Mariota needs to play to lift everything in the offense.

What happened? The new Browns administration that arrived in 2005 didn’t think much of McCown’s future after his rookie struggles and subsequently traded him to Tampa Bay. McCown, who lasted in the NFL as a reserve for four teams over the next 12 years, is currently a free agent after being released by Dallas at the end of the 2017 preseason.

“He’s a scrapper. He’s a competitor. He’s a bulldog,” Gordon Hayward said of Smart. “And it’s fun to play with guys like that. He’s always going to make the energy play, the hustle plays, and I think, in the [first Philadelphia] game we had where he dove on the ball and he got the ball and we got a layup, those are like game-changing plays.”

Smart’s offensive play has been solid through Boston’s first three preseason games. He’s averaging 10.7 points per game on 54.5 percent shooting overall. He has connected on 7 of 12 3-point attempts (58.3 percent). Even in off-day workouts, Smart simply looks more confident shooting the ball.
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Dolphins-Buccaneers won’t be played in Miami Sunday as Irma looms

The Miami Dolphins will not play their regular-season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday due to the threat of Hurricane Irma, the NFL announced Tuesday.

Mike Nugent, Josh Lambo and Marshall Koehn all worked out for the Raiders on Monday, a source told ESPN’s Field Yates. All three kickers lost position battles over the weekend.

Price, who is 6-3 and 318 pounds, is viewed as a run-stopping defensive tackle. He played in just one game last season for the Packers and spent time on the practice squad. The Indianapolis Colts attempted to add him to their active roster last year but he chose to remain on the Green Bay practice squad after the Packers upped his salary.

Brady, addressing his wife’s comments in August, did not confirm he suffered a concussion in 2016.

“I don’t want to get into things that happened in my past, certainly medical history and so forth. I really don’t think that’s anybody’s business,” Brady said last month. “What happened last year — I’m focused on this year and improving and working on things I need to get better at. So that’s how I approach everything.

“I’m not sitting here worried about last year or five years ago. There are other people that do worry about that — my wife, or my parents, or my sisters, people that love me and care about me. But I do the best I can do to be prepared to play — mentally and physically — and I give the game everything I can.”

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