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.

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.”


Jimmer Fredette catching NBA’s attention, report says

Could Jimmer Fredette be returning to the NBA?

The former NBA guard is reportedly reaching out to teams after a stellar MVP season with the Chinese Basketball Association, and the interest could be mutual, according to The Vertical.

Fredette, who plays for the Shanghai Sharks, has helped the team advance in the CBA playoffs, much in thanks to Fredette’s 37.5 points per game.

He also made headlines back in the U.S. scoring 73 points in a double-overtime loss to the Zhejiang Guangsha Lions on Feb. 20, which is the fourth-highest in CBA history.

However, just because Fredette can play in the CBA doesn’t mean he will excel in the NBA. He averaged 6.0 points and 1.4 assists per game in the five years he was with the league.

Only time will tell if Fredette will make his way back to the U.S., but now he needs to focus on taking his team past the quarterfinals of the Chinese playoffs.

Following an underwhelming season, the Rockets had an opportunity to start anew by focusing their attention on building a team entirely around James Harden. Rather than trying to keep Dwight Howard or sign another star player in free agency, that meant making smaller deals to surround him with the type of players who could help him return to MVP form in a system that would maximize his all-around brilliance. It’s how the Rockets have gone from being a No. 8 seed to a No. 3 seed without making any blockbuster moves.saints_014-223x223

John Wall literally dunked it on Mike Muscala’s face

You can joke that you dunked on someone’s face, or you could be John Wall and literally dunk on someone’s face. That’s what he did to Mike Muscala during Game 5 of the Wizards-Hawks series.

When the Spurs personnel is Mills, Ginobili, Leonard and two bigs, then Kawhi draws the assignment because Mills and Ginobili get toasted. If Green or Simmons come on, then they draw the assignment.

So the time you’re most likely to see Leonard on Harden is going to be an end of game situation. The advantage will be Harden if the Rockets run their offense, but it’s Leonard’s if Harden and the Rockets drop into hero ball.

How did the Rockets deal with the Spurs size?

Popovich tried to play with Houston in game one. Pau Gasol got chased from the floor in that game and only played 13 minutes. Popovich didn’t like the result of that game and went with two big men in the next three games.

Aldridge, Gasol and Lee don’t create many problems for the Rockets offense. They’re smart enough to rotate with the ball, so Houston isn’t getting too many open shots, but they’re not contesting many shots.

They do create rebounding problems on both sides of the floor. The Rockets just are not big enough to contend with two near-seven footers who have a primary goal of swallowing rebounds.

George has never been the Pacers’ problem. The Pacers have been Paul George’s problem. And unless the Pacers somehow build a contender by the end of next season, they’ll continue to be his problem. George does not want to leave, but unless something drastic changes, he won’t have any other choice if he wants to win.

That’s the Pacers’ fault, not Paul George’s.

Editor’s Note: This story was originally published on Feb. 22 and was updated with new information on April 20.

Keepers: You can start Eli Manning in Week 12 (this is not a joke)

It’s the last bye week of the season, the fantasy playoffs are just around the corner, and it’s actually okay to start Eli Manning this week. Let Keepers guide you through your Week 12 sits, starts, and free agent moves.

After a week of R&R, the Rams are poised to see how much noise they can make down the stretch with 30 carries a game for Zac Stacy and their own brand of the Lions’ “sack or scorch” pass defense. Jeff Fisher despises and fears offense, but there are rumors that even he took a journey to the mysterious East over the bye week to study arcane scrolls detailing the dark art of “downfield passing”. Since, you know, he traded up into the Top 10 to grab a receiver with 4.3 speed and all.

The Titans almost managed an upset of the Colts behind stout cornerback play and a dink-and-dunk fandango to Kendall Wright and Delanie Walker. Ryan Fitzpatrick is proving to the the kind of backup QB that every team wants (and Green Bay probably wants most of all) and the defense has quality at all three levels. The sum of those parts still comes out to an average squad, though – and one that will be facing some very difficult decisions at the QB position this offseason.

Give Tom Flacco this: he’s mastered small sample sizes. In 2017, backing up star Zach Terrell, he completed 10 of 12 passes for 188 yards and a touchdown (passer rating: 242.4) and rushed 28 times for 266 yards (9.5 per carry) and two scores.

Keep that up over a full season, and you’ll win the Heisman!

He won’t keep that up, obviously. But the younger brother of (much taller) Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe offered at least a few hints that there might be life after Terrell. Granted, Flacco will have to hold off three-star sophomore Jon Wassink, but one can assume decent quarterback play.

Michigan wins 2017 Big Ten basketball championship, 4 days after airport mishap

Michigan won the Big Ten men’s basketball tournament on Sunday, capping a four-game run to the finish by beating Wisconsin, 71-56, in Washington, D.C. It comes on the heels of a season in which Michigan wasn’t that good and a week that started with what could’ve been a devastating plane crash. Now the Wolverines are champions.
Their plane to Washington last Wednesday was blown off the runway in Ypsilanti, Mich., causing a scare but thankfully no debilitating injuries. The Wolverines arrived in Washington a few hours before beating Illinois by 20 points in their first-round game on Thursday, which they had to play in practice uniforms.

Then the No. 8 Wolverines kept winning: by four points in overtime against top seed Purdue, by seven against No. 4 Minnesota, and then in the final against No. 2 Wisconsin. They were the lower seed in the last three games.

Any loss of time for Perez is a huge blow for the Royals, who already needed some luck to compete in the AL Central. They have leaned heavily on Perez behind the plate over the last few years, with the 26-year-old logging more innings at catcher than anyone besides Buster Posey since 2013. Their backup right now is Drew Butera, who just so happens to be the player who collided into Perez to cause the injury in the first place.

Even if it’s not serious, the impact of this injury will be felt beyond just the Royals. People were already apprehensive about this tournament. The argument is that putting players into meaningful baseball this early in the year is bound to cause injuries. There may be a bit of truth to that, but it’s not as if players don’t get hurt in spring training. Hell, just last year Mets catcher Kevin Plawecki was injured in a spring training collision at the plate. A major injury to Perez would suck, and hopefully the upcoming follow-up tests support the first one. But it’s not a reason to stop playing the World Baseball Classic.

The Browns have the Bengals at home and then road games against the Panthers and Ravens.

Rodgers is among the best players in the league, and an argument can be made that he is its best active quarterback. He can make any throw, rarely makes bad decisions and always keeps the Packers competitive. That said, not enough recognition is given to his offensive line, which gives him a ridiculous amount of time to throw the football.

During the game, the broadcast focused on this, putting a timer on Rodgers’ time in a clean pocket. He was routinely getting more than three seconds before he even had to worry about potential pressure. His offensive line certainly made his job easier on Monday and allowed him an opportunity to complete all those beautiful throws.

Anyway, the point remains that if the Browns had gotten anything out of their quarterback position on Sunday they would still be in the hunt for the AFC North crown. But my opinion didn’t change just because Hoyer has been turrible the last few games. I also recognize the unique talents that Manziel possesses and understand how they can help the Browns possibly catch fire on offense and run the table to end the season.

The Browns have the Bengals at home and then road games against the Panthers and Ravens. It’s a safe bet that the Browns will have to score more than 21 points to win any of those games. As I said when I talked about why Mike Vick should replace Geno Smith a few weeks back, Manziel is a weapon unto himself, and that’s why I believe the Browns can score 21 and much more with him behind the center.

With Manziel, pass protection doesn’t have to be perfect, receivers don’t have to be wide open (or in marathon shape), the running game doesn’t even have to be clicking. He can get positive yards up and down the field by himself all game long when everything else breaks down. If the Browns can some how manage him well enough so that he isn’t turning the ball over, Manziel can be the kind of weapon that opposing defenses won’t be able to catch up with their first time seeing him. It’s the perfect time to spring him on unsuspecting defenses that are used to chasing statues in the pocket.

Abou Diaby, Andrey Arshavin, Gervinho, and Thomas Vermaelen were on that Arsenal team

“What I’m trying to do is just kind of add to what you’re already doing to make you a little better, your conditioning and whatnot. It’s just another thing that Pablo was able to do. If you looked at him before, if you didn’t know who he was, you wouldn’t think he’s an athlete. But if you see him now, you know he’s an athlete.”

Now comes the hard part: keeping off the weight.

Ferrer sent Sandoval to spring training with a workout program that he can continue to use, with Momose’s help, throughout the season. And although Yulimar won’t be there to cook for Sandoval on the road, he might seek the help of a personal chef.

“He’s just making a lot of changes in his life,” Romero said. “The way he looks, he feels great looking in the mirror at himself. Any time you look in the mirror and say, ‘Oh my god, I’m there, I’m where I want to be,’ that’s a good feeling.”

Now it’s up to Sandoval to make Red Sox fans feel better about him, too.

Abou Diaby, Andrey Arshavin, Gervinho, and Thomas Vermaelen were on that Arsenal team. The names read like imaginary creatures from the world of Harry Potter. Fantastic, Broken Players and Where to Find Them. It was such a whimsical time back in 2013. We were never deserving.

Once again, Claudio Pizarro was on the bench for Bayern. The evidence of his divinity continues to swell.

2011/2013, Arsenal FC 3-0 AC Milan (agg: 3-4). Milan hold on after gallant Arsenal fightback. There’s so much comfort in the familiar.

Urby Emanuelson and Robinho being on that Milan team was unintentionally hilarious. They looked so much alike. It was the second coming of pre-fro Marcelo and Robinho. Also, I used to think that Emanuelson would be a great player. For that I would like to apologize to everyone reading this, and to God, my friends, and family for my insolence.

NFL playoff picture 2017: Standings, scenarios, who’s in, who’s out

This is it. Week 17, the last week of the regular season. And with the Packers’ win over the Lions we now know the complete, finalized playoff standings. Green Bay’s victory gives the Packers the NFC North title and the fourth seed in the NFC. But first, let’s digest the AFC playoff picture and standings.

During the 1 p.m. slate, the New England Patriots beat the Miami Dolphins to lock down the No. 1 seed in the playoffs. They’ll have a bye next week and then get to play at home in the divisional round and the conference championship, if they make it that far.

Bradford carved up the Chicago Bears in Week 17, completing 25 of 33 passes for 250 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception. He took a seat in the fourth quarter with the Vikings leading, 38-10.

Bradford wasn’t even on the Vikings’ squad in preseason — at the time, he was competing for a starting job with the Philadelphia Eagles. But desperate times call for desperate measures, and when Teddy Bridgewater went down with a devastating knee injury, the Vikings made an aggressive move. They traded 2017’s first-round pick and a 2018 fourth-round pick to acquire Bradford from the Eagles.

The trade was widely panned at the time, but Bradford and the Vikings ran out to a 5-0 start, seemingly quieting the critics. Unfortunately, everything fell apart. With a poor running game and abysmal offensive line, the Vikings’ offense stalled out and the team collapsed. They’ll finish with an 8-8 record and miss the playoffs.

Derby gets a little added inspiration to make amends given the Broncos face the Patriots

Derby called it “frustrating” and “unacceptable” before admitting it caused him “a sleepless night.” In his quest for a little retribution, Derby gets a little added inspiration to make amends given the Broncos face the Patriots, his former team, Sunday.

“I would say that it’s a little weird,” Derby said. “Knowing all of those guys and practicing against them, it will be good to go live against them. It will be fun.”

In Pereira’s scenario, however, there are officials working surreptitiously and outside of policy. In Monday night’s game, Ravens coach John Harbaugh could be seen asking why Hochuli had moved the ball. Shouldn’t these decisions be clear, obvious and transparent? And if the NFL is disregarding this particular set of rules, what other polices is it failing to follow?

“It’s not necessarily a bad thing,” Pereira said. “It’s just kind of undercover at the moment. But you can see it. This is the landscape of where officiating is going.”

Indeed, I’ve written often about the inescapable tug of technology on officiating. Ubiquitous HD broadcasts have given fans better and more consistent views of plays than officials, and sports leagues around the world are scrambling to catch up.

Having an official with access to those same views, a system the Canadian Football League established this season, makes all the sense in the world. Many of us figured the NFL would eventually catch up. But Pereira, who has more knowledge and insight into the league’s officials than anyone not currently in its employ, thinks it already has.

Our conversation covered a number of topics in the book, including the issue of full-time officials and the impact of new discipline the league introduced last season and appears already to have backed away from. You can find further details below.