Jaguars aren’t fooling me with another strong offseason

I don’t trust the Jacksonville Jaguars.

There are plenty of reasons to believe the team is ready to piece together a winning season for the first time in a decade, but nope … I’m not falling for that one again.

Not even if Todd McShay says they’re the most improved team of the offseason. Uh uh. Not happening.

The Jaguars were supposed to be the dark horse of the 2016 season. They were “poised to pounce,” according to NFL.com, and the most impressive team that MMQB’s Peter King saw in training camp.

After spending big to get Malik Jackson, Tashaun Gipson, Kelvin Beachum, and Chris Ivory, among others, they were a trendy pick to be a contender. Especially after drafting Jalen Ramsey and Myles Jack in April.

Three teams cracked 25 percent in this survey: the Ravens (2 of 7 respondents), the Steelers (6 of 19), and, with a full one-third of those responding saying they’d worn a jersey to a religious ceremony, the Chiefs (3 of 9). That means if you’re attending services in Kansas City and you go to join hands with the people next to you, either one of them is wearing a Chiefs jersey, or you are. Pittsburgh had the most total fans respond in the affirmative, a fact that should not surprise you when you realize that there are two kinds of Steelers fans: The ones that own zero jerseys, and the ones that own three or more.
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Cowboys want NFL to re-examine substance-abuse policy

The Cowboys believe it’s time that the NFL and NFLPA re-evaluate the league’s substance-abuse policy, team COO and VP Stephen Jones said in an interview that aired Thursday morning on NBC Sports Network’s “PFT Live.”

Jones, the son of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, echoed the tone his father voiced earlier this year when he reportedly suggested that the league take a look at its policy and potentially lift its ban on marijuana.

Stephen Jones says a top-to-bottom look at the policy (“you should take a look at every aspect of it”) is in order, just as teams look at other facets of the league.

“Well, our system, our testing, has been in place for years and not unlike we do in our organization … we always look to see how we can do it better. I think Jerry’s opinion, my opinion, is this program, this system has been in place for a long time. I think it needs to be heavily scrutinized in terms of its results.

A native of Toledo, Ohio, Kizer will not have a long journey to join up with his new team and said the end result made him less concerned about dropping out of the opening round.

“The wait was well worth it now that I’m going to be able to stay at home and call myself a Cleveland Brown,” Kizer said.

He is now focused on fine-tuning aspects of his game that need improvement, adding: “I believe there is a lot of potential. I believe there is a lot of room for growth.

“I think coaches like [head] coach [Hue] Jackson and [quarterbacks] coach [David] Lee will be able to make some of these things a little more consistent.”

Jackson, meanwhile, said: “He’s a big, strong quarterback who can make all of the throws that I think anybody needs to make in the National Football League.

Raptors vs. Bucks 2017 live stream: Start time, TV schedule and how to watch Game 4 online

The Toronto Raptors and the Milwaukee Bucks might be the least predictable series still going in these 2017 playoffs. We’ve seen Toronto slog through series deficits and come out on top anyway, something they did last postseason several times. But down 2-1 to the Bucks with another game in Milwaukee, can Toronto climb out of this one?

In Game 3, the Raptors were walloped. Against an impossibly long Bucks defense, they didn’t even score 50 points until the fourth quarter and don’t appear to have any great solutions right now for a struggling offense. This season, Toronto’s offense was great, too, finishing sixth in the league in offensive rating (109.8). But Kyle Lowry has only played one good game, DeMar DeRozan is struggling as well, and none of the other role players for the Raptors are stepping up to fill in where the team is missing an offensive boost.

Milwaukee has a bright future, but will this moment prove too big for them? The series should swing one way or another based off the winner of Game 4.

It didn’t take long for the hockey world to have a varying degree of hot takes on Sidney Crosby’s Game 3 injury. The response was swift, loud, and extremely colored by whatever fan base-colored glasses you tend to wear.

This is sports, after all. It’s to be expected from fans, especially in such a high-pressure, high-anxiety time that is the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Failing to get the Pelicans’ pick after trading Cousins would be a disaster for the Kings. On the bright side, Smith is a potential top-five talent who fills their biggest position of need. The explosive 6’2 guard has drawn comparisons to Eric Bledsoe.

Dallas Mavericks — Frank Ntilikina, PG, France
Ntilikina is an 18-year-old point guard who projects as a versatile defender and capable spot-up shooter. It feels like Dallas has been looking for a point guard since the heyday of Jason Kidd. Ntilikina has the potential to grow into the role.

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The Lions struggled with defensive depth for a while now

Davis is a bit undersized, which will anchor him to the middle of the field rather than in a more desirable outside linebacker role. He’s at his best when he has room to move, but he has trouble shedding blockers and tends to be erased from plays when engaged with bigger linemen. That was an NCAA problem that will only get worse in the NFL.

He can be overaggressive when pursuing ball carriers, aiming for a highlight-reel tackle when simply wrapping up would suffice. He’s also susceptible to cutback runs, often leaving an open gap for runners to exploit while he gets swallowed up at the line of scrimmage. Davis brings tremendous energy to the field, but sometimes overexerts himself rather than staying disciplined.

And there are also the inevitable questions about his ability to stay healthy. In addition to the high ankle sprain, Davis missed three games in 2014 with a torn meniscus. Teammates and coaches will rave about his toughness, but there are some questions about whether Davis can be an every-down player in the NFL.

Even with those concerns, Davis projects to be a strong run-stopper and team leader, with a potentially high ceiling if he avoids those nagging injuries.

The Lions struggled with defensive depth for a while now, so Davis should immediately bolster the linebacker corps and provide some much-needed support in run defense.

The wideout showed during the 2016 season that his leg injuries were a thing of the past, regularly making big plays off explosive jumps. He didn’t run the 40-yard dash at the combine, but he did participate in other drills before doing a complete workout at Ohio State’s pro day.

“Right now, I feel completely healthy. I feel I’m probably in the best shape I’ve been in. I’m excited for what’s to come.”
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Why isn’t Chris Berman on ESPN’s NFL draft coverage?

ESPN’s NFL draft coverage will be missing a familiar voice on Thursday night. The 2017 draft will be the first in nearly three decades without longtime analyst Chris Berman behind the broadcaster’s desk.

Follow the action with our 2017 NFL draft tracker with pick-by-pick results and analysis updating in real-time for all seven rounds.

Berman was best known for his NFL coverage as the host of programs like Sunday NFL Countdown, Monday Night Countdown, and NFL Primetime. While he still has a reduced role with the company, the ESPN fixture stepped down as the network’s NFL lead after Super Bowl 51.

The network announced he would miss this year’s coverage in a statement released in January.

Take Myles Garrett with the first overall pick. Garrett is a game changer, and could single-handedly overhaul Cleveland’s pass rush, which ended last season with the second-fewest sacks in the league. Garrett had 24 sacks over his first two years at Texas A&M. He was injured last season, but still managed to notch 8.5 sacks. He’s got rare explosion and athleticism, and teams don’t often get the opportunity to draft this caliber of player. Do not pass on him.

Draft a quarterback, but don’t reach for one. So in other words, do not draft Mitchell Trubisky first overall. There’s also a rumor that they could trade back into the top 10 picks for Trubisky, which would be a bad idea. This isn’t the strongest quarterback class, and if the Browns are not in love with any of these guys, they should wait. This is a lesson they should have learned after Couch. And Quinn. And Weeden. And Manziel. If need be, the Browns could just give Cody Kessler a shot next season while the quarterback of the future develops. Kessler showed potential last year when healthy.
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NBA playoff scores 2017: 4 things we learned from a terrific opening day

The NBA Playoffs kicked off on Saturday with a quadruple-header and 10 straight hours of basketball. The first game of the day between the Cavaliers and Pacers came down to the wire, while the Bucks and Spurs cruised to big wins. The final game of the night between the Jazz and the Clippers came down to a buzzer beater from Joe Johnson, so we could all remember how good Iso Joe really is. Here is a quick recap from each game.

Mr. Rooney, as he was referred to throughout the organization, died Thursday at age 84. It is a day many had dreaded as he grew frail in recent years.

No one who loves the team had wanted to imagine it operating without his presence around the complex, in the owners’ box, and in the locker room shaking hands with Steelers players following most every game.

Those of us who grew up in the Pittsburgh area, in the Steelers era, were too young at first to understand the impact Dan Rooney had upon the franchise and its operations. He was the one who chose Chuck Noll as the team’s coach in 1969, near the end of another lost decade. He helped assemble the organization that built the 1970s dynasty, with Greene at the foundation and so many greats assembled around him — on the field and in the front office.
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Barrett and Kelley combined for 20.5 tackles for loss

Carolina then suffered another loss to Denver when kicker Graham Gano missed a last-minute field-goal attempt. Panthers safety Kurt Coleman said the sting of that defeat on the heels of losing to Denver in the Super Bowl set the stage for a 6-10 season.

It was almost a hangover effect, Coleman told co-host Gil Brandt and me earlier this year on SiriusXM NFL Radio. I know we didnt want to talk about it at the beginning of the season because we were trying to press forward. But really, going from the Super Bowl in February and the first game even before the actual technical start of the NFL season was with the same team you just played, all you could think about was the same team you just played.

I think for us, especially the way we lost that game in Denver, it kind of stuck with us. We werent able to put it in the rearview mirror.

ESPN recently reported that a Falcons-Patriots opener was unlikely because of Riveras complaints about Carolina suffering a competitive disadvantage. Ryan, though, says it doesnt matter when the Falcons play New England.

Its like any schedule, right? Ryan said. We dont have a choice. Well play wherever (the NFL wants) us to go.

Barrett and Kelley combined for 20.5 tackles for loss, 13.5 sacks, and four breakups last year. Senior Dakota Turner should replicate a good amount of that, and tackle Noble Hall has moved to end. But between sophomore Myles Cheatum, three-star JUCO Anthony Luke, and other unproven players, someone might have to step up. SDSUs history suggests someone will, but its not a given.
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The Ravens get the pass rusher they need in the Auburn star.

Over the past three seasons, the Baltimore Ravens have dropped in team sacks from 49 in 2014, to 37 in 2015, and down to 31 in 2016. As they approach the 2017 NFL draft, it’s clear that Baltimore needs to get at least one pass rusher.

That’s exactly the aim of Kyle Barber of Baltimore Beatdown, who is here to explain his second-round pick in the SB Nation NFL writers’ mock draft.

Boston police commissioner William Evans completed his first Boston Marathon since the 2013 bombings.

“It was hard to talk because it was so loud. We had to wait for it to die down and we just talked and read some signs,” Carpenter said. “She kept me loose, it was awesome.”

“My voice is gone because I said hello to everybody in the crowd,” Laing told the TV station. “I felt like everybody was screaming my name. It was so awesome.”

Monday’s race was the first marathon for Laing, 25, and the second for the 53-year-old Carpenter, who played 18 seasons in the NHL for the Capitals, Rangers, Kings, Bruins and Devils.

The Patriots acquired two picks in a deal with the Jaguars the year before — a seventh-round pick (232nd) in 2009 that they used for Edelman and a second-round pick (44th) in 2010 for their third-round pick (73rd). New England used the 44th pick and a sixth-round pick (190th) in a deal with the Raiders to move up to 42nd and get Gronkowski, who saw his draft status slip because of injury concerns.

The other deal not to have its genesis in 2010 was a swap of seventh-rounders, notable only because one of the players involved was named Selvish Capers.
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Questioning the refs, Jim Schwartz, Matt Schaub, and Trent Richardson

When I’m working on this Notebook at the beginning of each week I get immersed in film and miss a few things that happen off the field. After checking my twitter account Wednesday morning it was obvious I had missed something big that RGIII either did or didn’t say after the Eagles beat Washington. I knew he had thrown a late interception to seal the loss and that the offense didn’t do much until the second half.

But here I was on a Wednesday seeing posts about him not taking responsibility after the loss. There were more posts about his teammate, Santana Moss, agreeing that Griffin should have taken responsibility and implying that he hadn’t. Head coach Mike Shanahan “responding” to him by saying that the Washington offense had not become predictable.

Shooting is far and away Fox’s largest flaw, but he’s not perfect in all other respects either. His defense and his decision-making at times leave a lot to be desired.

Despite his exploits, he put up a subpar 1:1 assist to turnover ratio he posted in tournament play. He did a good job setting up his teammates and avoiding turnovers early on this year, but as he shifted to more of a scorer role down the stretch, he struggled to take care of the ball. Defensively, he has the quickness and length to harass guys, but he plays overzealously and gambles himself out of position.

If Fox was so effective at the college level despite all his weaknesses, imagine his upside if he improves. As The Ringer’s Jonathan Tjarks wrote, Fox might be the No. 1 pick if he could shoot. His dazzling performance against UCLA showed why.
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Austin had a breakout game against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 10

The NFL also upheld the one-game suspension of Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Dashon Goldson on Tuesday. Goldson was suspended for an illegal hit to Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White in Sunday’s game, a win for the Bucs. Goldson has been fined multiple times already this season, hence the suspension and the decision to stick with it by the league office.

Tavon Austin, Wide Receiver, St. Louis Rams: The numbers speak for themselves. Austin had a breakout game against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 10, showing off his ability to go zero to 60 in the blink of an eye and make tacklers miss in the open field. His return touchdown was a thing of beauty, taking what appeared to be a broken play and weaving his way through the coverage team.

With Moore out, the Broncos signed free agent Michael Huff. Huff signed with the Baltimore Ravens during the offseason and was expected to play a significant role. Things didn’t work out in Baltimore, and he was released in October. Huff has spent time at both cornerback and safety and is familiar with the AFC West, having played seven seasons with Oakland.

Mike Pouncey missed Miami’s game against San Diego on Sunday, and could potentially be out much longer. Doctors are reportedly trying to avoid gallbladder surgery, but it remains a possibility. The plan for now is to see if medicine can cure Pouncey’s illness instead of resorting to surgery.

If not, and a procedure is required, Pouncey would likely miss an extended period of time and possibly the rest of the season. As Kevin Nogle of the Phinsider wrote, Pouncey’s ability to play through pain will be a key factor in whether surgery is required.

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