That’s two straight big games for Russell Wilson as the Seahawks have gone back to their versatile

A LITTLE WHILE later, eight players from five teams — linebacker Jonathan Casillas of the New York Giants, safety Devin McCourty and special teams star Matthew Slater of the Patriots, defensive end Chris Long of the Philadelphia Eagles, linebacker Christian Kirksey, cornerback Jason McCourty, and tight end Randall Telfer of the Cleveland Browns, and offensive tackle Kelvin Beachum of the Jets — entered the League Boardroom at the NFL offices and took seats at the giant wood table with the league logo as its centerpiece.

The meeting itself was representative of not only the entire week but of the past few years, defined by discord and distrust on the issues separating the league and the union. Smith said last week that Goodell never mentioned the meeting with players during their Monday call, and that he first got word of it after hearing that Troy Vincent, the NFL executive vice president of football operations, had reached out directly to at least a dozen team captains to invite them to attend. A league source, however, says that team owners, not Vincent, invited the players, at the suggestion of Goodell. Both sides agree that Smith and other union executives were not invited until Tuesday morning, when Goodell asked them to attend in an email. But by then, it was too late. Smith was on the road for a series of locker room meetings and couldn’t attend.

Derek Carr’s latest back injury is a stunner, one that could end their playoff hopes early this season after a different Carr injury dashed them late last season. It’s now on their other on-field leader, Khalil Mack, to help the defense win more games.

That’s two straight big games for Russell Wilson as the Seahawks have gone back to their versatile, high-tempo attack to mask more of their line deficiencies. They should hope the Colts game also jump-started their defensive intimidation.

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Scott Tolzien’s receiver saved him from the indignity of a third pick-six

If you didn’t know who Scott Tolzien was prior to Sunday, it’s understandable. He was the Colts backup QB, for some reason, who became their starter since the team botched the handling of Andrew Luck’s shoulder injury … in 2015.

Anyway, Tolzien flirted with a dubious historical distinction this week against the Rams, the record for pick-sixes in one game.

Rich Gannon threw three of them in Super Bowl 37. And the last time anyone did it was 2007 when Eli Manning threw three against the Vikings.

He started his holdout at the beginning of camp, with reports suggesting that Donald was ready to miss regular-season games. That was always a long shot, given that it’s an extreme negotiating tactic, but his late arrival to the Rams means it’s unlikely he plays Sunday.

Donald has been an instant star from the moment the Rams selected him with the 13th overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft. Through three seasons, he has 28 sacks and four forced fumbles, emerging as one of the league’s best interior pass rushers.

It might be a bit of a transition for Donald, who missed a month of practice and is moving to defensive coordinator Wade Phillips’ preferred 3-4 scheme. Still, he has the talent to seamlessly ease into the system and continue being one of the most disruptive defensive linemen in football.
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Rams expect Sammy Watkins to play against Raiders

Sammy Watkins is making himself at home in Los Angeles.

Rams coach Sean McVay on Monday said the team has started to integrate the newly acquired wide receiver into its offense and is hoping he will be comfortable with the plays in time for the regular-season opener Sept. 10 against the Colts.

“The level of urgency is just a little bit higher. And you’ve just got to be mindful of the progression with him, where he might have to take a little bit extra time,” McVay said, via the team’s website. “And just like you teach all of these guys, there’s a foundation that you have to start with, and then our concepts and our offense kind of builds off one another where we try to make sure that there’s a rhyme and a reason.

“So he’s going to start from behind. It’ll take him a while. But our goal — if we’re intentional about it, and that’s the plan — is for him to be up to speed and kind of have a good feel for the entire offense by the time the regular season rolls around.”

Reid said he spoke with Kaepernick on Sunday, the day after the horror of Charlottesville.

“It’s becoming more apparent for people to see the issues that we’re talking about, especially in the way that it happened in Charlottesville,” Reid said. “We’re just hoping that if we keep talking about it … because a lot of people just want things to blow over. ‘Oh, that’s an isolated incident.’ It happens every day. And if we can keep talking about it, hopefully we can make this change. And it needs to stop being hopefully. It needs to happen. It needs to happen now.”

Every Browning version reads like this: The No. 34 overall pick in 1991 gave Gang Green fans much to boo about in ’92. Going 3-10 as a starter, he completed only 49.8 percent of his passes for seven touchdowns, 17 interceptions and a 55.7 rating that quickly showed he was not an answer. Coming from Johnny Unitas’ former school and going to Joe Namath’s former team didn’t help Nagle one bit.dolphins_081

Harbaugh would have decisions to make

Whitehead, 25, spent two seasons with the Cowboys after signing as an undrafted free agent in 2015. While listed as a wide receiver, Whitehead caught just nine passes and actually contributed more on offense with 20 rushing attempts for 189 yards. But his real value as a player comes from his ability as a return specialist.

He was the starting kick returner for the Cowboys for each of the past two seasons and took over punt returns duties from Cole Beasley midway through the 2015 season before handling punt returns full-time in 2016.

Whitehead’s release from the Cowboys appeared to have nothing to do with his play on the field. Dallas released him Monday, two days after veterans reported for training camp, after a roller coaster week that included the kidnapping of Whitehead’s dog and the issue of a warrant for the return specialist’s arrest.

In October, he finished a 24-16 loss to the Jets with no touchdowns, two interceptions, and 56.8 percent of his passes completed. Now imagine Flacco having a game like that in 2017 with Kaepernick standing on the sideline.

Harbaugh would have decisions to make, and he’d have to explain those decisions to the media.

There’s safety in the NFL when there’s no alternative. The Ravens committed huge amounts of money to Flacco in 2016 and want him to be their starter. As long as he’s healthy and ready to play, he’s the player the team wants under center.

Kaepernick’s chance at another go in the NFL may still be on the way, and it may even be with the Ravens. But as long as they have Flacco and Mallett ready for action, the team would evidently be more comfortable with camp arms like Olson.

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The expectation when Horford was signed was that he’d be a high-scoring second option to support Thomas

On Wednesday, Horford was at his best in the fourth quarter, scoring 11 points in a span of just seven minutes, including the dunk off his fortunate steal. He also had two assists in the quarter.

“He is a really important part of our team,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “We’re thrilled he chose to be here. We play through him offensively and then we kind of rely on him to make our calls and on our coverages defensively. He does it all for us.”

The expectation when Horford was signed was that he’d be a high-scoring second option to support Thomas. That hasn’t happened, but Horford’s stats don’t always reflect his contributions. The Celtics’ offensive efficiency when he is on the floor is 113.5 points per 100 possessions. That drops considerably when he is off the floor, to 109.4 points per 100. That reflects Horford’s considerable passing ability.

The Raptors won one game against Cleveland in the regular season, though it was the last game of the year, and the trio of LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving sat for the Cavs. There is not much to glean from the first three games between the teams, because they all took place in the first quarter of the season, and were decided by 11 total points.

Raptors coach Dwane Casey will set the tone of the series even before it begins when he comes up with his decision on what to do with the starting five. Down, 2-1, in the series against Milwaukee, Casey pulled center Jonas Valanciunas from the starters and inserted small forward Norman Powell, moving Serge Ibaka to center. That move has given the Raptors a spark, but Casey might be more comfortable starting big against the Cavs, then moving to a small lineup if it becomes necessary.
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Jim Boeheim calls triangle ‘worst offense ever’

Jim Boeheim is not a fan of the triangle offense. He’s also not a fan of the way the Knicks have treated Carmelo Anthony in recent seasons.

Boeheim and Anthony teamed up together at Syracuse in 2003 to win the national championship. Since then, Anthony has become an NBA star, but his career has been a bit beleaguered in New York.

Another source added: “We love him here. He would fit.”

Colon was popular with Mets fans and teammates over a three-year stint with the team from 2014-16, during which he won 15, 14 and 15 games and was an All-Star in 2016. He served as a steadying veteran on the staff and a mentor in the clubhouse, particularly with Spanish-speaking players.

However, he fits with the Mets in another way this season: He has been hampered by injuries, only coming off a three-week stay on the DL on Wednesday because of a strained oblique.

The Mets are looking for a veteran pitcher who could help fill the void left by Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey and Robert Gsellman (Zack Wheeler also has been on the DL but is expected to be activated Saturday).

Just last month, the Ogden Raptors, the short-season Single-A affiliate of the Dodgers, announced “Hourglass Appreciation Night,” which the team touted as a “better way to remind the world that baseball needs no clock” by featuring “18 hourglass-shaped color commentators,” and later boasted “gorgeous women whose curves rival those of any stud pitching prospect!”

After intense pressure from fans, both male and female, and members of the media, including myself, the team canceled the promo. In years past, would we have questioned that night? In the pre-social media era, would a sexist idea have so quickly reached the masses and been benched?

Baseball is America’s pastime. And much of what baseball was is a thing of the past.browns_042

they’re bringing him in for a visit on Wednesday.

The Seahawks have been tied to Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III as they look for a reliable veteran to back up Pro Bowler Russell Wilson behind center. When asked about the mobile passers, Pete Carroll told ESPN Seattle’s Brock and Salk show that “quite frankly, yes, we are looking at all those guys.”

Their interest has gone beyond that, and they’re bringing him in for a visit on Wednesday.

RG3 could use his time in the Pacific Northwest to rebuild the winning narrative that injuries and one year in Cleveland stripped from him. Kaepernick could use it to show, underneath the headlines, he still deserves to be a starting quarterback in the NFL.

Kaepernick has stayed glued to the top of “best available quarterbacks” lists since the season ended, and while several excuses have been made for his inability to find a new home, few hold any water.

A spot with the Seahawks would make almost too much sense. Here are some very real reasons why.

His 5.8 yards per pass attempt last season was worse than players like Scott Tolzien, Bryce Petty, and Landry Jones. It ranked 30th out of 30 qualified starters by nearly half a yard. He completed only 59 percent of his passes (27th) and threw 16 interceptions while only tossing 15 touchdowns.

While he showed potential as Manning’s replacement in Denver in 2015 — and was rewarded with a $72 million contract because of it — his 2016 was proof he’s incapable of being a franchise QB. On the plus side, it did leave us with moments like this, where he somehow flung a fumble 7 yards in the air despite a clean pocket.yankees_1260_3fd250ef8af9611c-180x180

Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue left his starters in despite a sizable lead in the final period.

First off here is a link to that transcript so you can read it ALL for yourself and make your own decisions about what he did or did not say. Here are the quotes from RGIII that don’t fit the narrative described above however.

Another failed proposal would have allowed coaches to review any play or call on the field, bringing issues like pass interference and offsides calls under greater scrutiny. That wasn’t the only replay-related rule to get shot down. A Washington proposal to remove the cap on coaches’ challenges also fell short of passage.

Millsap was in position to do so after Kent Bazemore won a jump ball over Kyrie Irving with less than five seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. Irving was forced into a jump ball scenario after LeBron James inbounded the ball into the corner, allowing two Hawks defenders to trap him.

Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue left his starters in despite a sizable lead in the final period. But Atlanta, without Dennis Schroder, chopped away at the lead, outscoring Cleveland, 44-18, in the fourth quarter. The Hawks were able to do so despite James, Irving, and Kevin Love each playing more than 40 minutes.

The blown lead comes just days after the Cavaliers were bludgeoned by a Hawks team that missed its starters due to either rest or legitimate injury.

The 2017 Formula One season is here, beginning with the Australian Grand Prix from Melbourne on March 26. It will end several months from now, at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi on Nov. 26. A total of 20 races will be held across multiple continents, and seeing what happens with the battle between Ferrari and Mercedes is one of the most intriguing things in the sport in a long while.
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Kosta Koufos had 14 points and 11 rebounds for Sacrament

The 83-year-old McCoy was honored at halftime. He’s in his 45th season calling Suns games. Eight of 14 other Suns Ring of Honor inductees were present, including Charles Barkley, who offered brief remarks.

Kawhi Leonard scored 31 points, Patty Mills hit a pair of pivotal 3s in overtime, and San Antonio outlasted New Orleans. LeMarcus Aldridge had 21 points and 15 rebounds for San Antonio. The Spurs won their sixth straight while dropping New Orleans to 0-4 with DeMarcus Cousins in the lineup.

Cousins had 19 points and 23 rebounds, but missed a step-back 3-pointer that could have tied it as overtime ended. Anthony Davis had 29 points, and Jrue Holiday 26 for the Pelicans.

Jae Crowder scored 10 of his 14 points in the first half, when the Atlantic Division-leading Celtics shot 51 percent on the way to opening their trip 2-0. Jordan Clarkson led the Lakers with 20 points. They have lost six straight.

Karl-Anthony Towns had 29 points and 17 rebounds, Andrew Wiggins scored 27 points and the Minnesota Timberwolves beat the Sacramento Kings 102-88 on Monday night.

Ricky Rubio had nine points and 11 assists to help the Timberwolves move within one game of the Kings as both teams try to catch Denver for the eighth spot in the West.

Towns and Wiggins were dominant against the Kings, who had beaten the Wolves handily in the first two games between the teams this season.

Towns shot 13 of 19 from the floor and sparked a big run in the second quarter when Minnesota took control. Wiggins exploited a size advantage against Sacramento and repeatedly scored inside.

Kosta Koufos had 14 points and 11 rebounds for Sacramento. The Kings are 1-2 since trading All-Star DeMarcus Cousins to New Orleans during the All-Star break.

McCarthy surely has his merits as an offensive mind and has done a great job of developing Rodgers

It’s the NFL conference championship games, and ESPN Chalk’s Vegas experts have you covered with our comprehensive betting previews for both games from our panel of handicappers. Here is their take on the NFC Championship Game.

Crosby was left with a 56-yard field goal, having gone just 28-of-54 from 50-plus yards during his career. Was the kick in Crosby’s range? Yes, in the way that a 30-footer might still be considered to be in Klay Thompson’s range, even if he’s far less likely to make that shot than he would a 23-footer. Coaches often treat “field goal range” like a binary proposition, feeling safe once they get to a certain yard line, even though all kickers improve dramatically as you get closer to the end zone.

As much as McCarthy makes mistakes, it’s more the way he runs through those decisions that is troubling. It’s one thing for McCarthy to throw out the challenge flag at the wrong time, as he did in 2012. It’s another to say after the game that he wanted to hit a particular number of carries from his running game in the second half, which is a logical fallacy.

McCarthy surely has his merits as an offensive mind and has done a great job of developing Rodgers, but his in-game decision-making already has cost the Packers dearly in the playoffs in the past and nearly came back to haunt them last weekend.

Quinn is still a relative unknown in terms of how he handles in-game decision-making, if only because the former Seahawks defensive coordinator hasn’t really faced many critical game-management situations during his two years as coach. His game against the Seahawks last week was out of hand by the middle of the third quarter, in part because opposite number Carroll made mistakes of his own.

Quinn’s mostly empty slate is preferable to the obvious, glaring mistakes McCarthy has made during his run in charge of the Packers.