VIDEO: MOTD3: Are managers winning games? - Mark Chapman is joined by Danny Murphy and Martin Keown for this week's Match of the Day 3, to discuss whether certain managers are winning matches this season. Aldridge leads Portland over Houston 122-120 in OT (Yahoo Sports) - LaMarcus Aldridge scored a franchise playoff-record 46 points and Damian Lillard added 31, including the go-ahead free throws in overtime, to lift the Portland Trail Blazers to a 122-120 victory over the Houston Rockets on Sunday night in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series. He scored the next five points for Portland and put the Trail Blazers on top by one point with a pair of free throws with 17 seconds left. Game 2 is Wednesday night in Houston. James Harden and Dwight Howard each scored 27 points for Houston, and Howard grabbed 15 rebounds. Sharks take 2-0 series lead with 7-2 win vs. Kings (Yahoo Sports) - Fourth-liners Mike Brown and Raffi Torres scored second-period goals to spark a San Jose comeback and lead the Sharks to a 7-2 victory Sunday over the Los Angeles Kings and a 2-0 lead in their first-round series. Justin Braun, Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture and Joe Thornton also scored for the Sharks, who overcame a two-goal deficit after the first period of a playoff game for just the third time in 26 tries in franchise history. Jake Muzzin and Trevor Lewis scored first-period goals before Jonathan Quick allowed seven goals in the final two periods. Ducks-Stars Preview (Yahoo Sports) - Lindy Ruff figures anyone who has watched the Dallas Stars in their first two playoff games should know they won't quit. Even in a big hole against top-seeded Anaheim before their first home playoff game in six years. We definitely haven't been dominated,'' said Ruff, the veteran coach in his first season on the Dallas bench. So we've got to clean up some of our mistakes and take advantage of some of those key opportunities.'' After a pair of one-goal losses in Anaheim, the Stars are home for Game 3 Monday night for their first postseason game at the American Airlines Center since May 19, 2008 - a span of 2,162 days. Kuchar rallies from 4 back to win RBC Heritage (Yahoo Sports) - Matt Kuchar saw his well-struck 5-iron on the 18th hole at the RBC Heritage come up way short of the target and settle in a front bunker. ''Well,'' he thought as he walked toward the shot, ''there are a lot worse places to be.'' For Kuchar, there was no better place - and no better shot in the tournament. He followed with a stunning hole-out on Harbour Town Golf Link's closing, lighthouse hole, to overcome a four-shot deficit for a one-stroke victory and end nearly a month of Sundays where he came close to a title only to lose at the end. Kuchar shot a 64 to finish at 11-under 273, one stroke ahead of Luke Donald, who had his third second place and fifth top-three finish here in the past six years. Boston set for emotional Marathon - Boston is set to hold an emotional marathon amid high security, a year after bombs killed three and injured hundreds. Red Sox rally for 6-5 win over O's (Yahoo Sports) - Dustin Pedroia started fast, stopped and then raced home with the winning run. Pedroia scored from third on left fielder David Lough's throwing error with two outs in the ninth inning, lifting the Boston Red Sox to a 6-5 comback win over Baltimore Orioles on Sunday night. Pedroia advanced on a wild pitch and, after David Ortiz was intentionally walked, Darren O'Day hit Mike Napoli on the left knee to load the bases. Pinch hitter Mike Carp hit a liner to left, setting off the game-ending play. Astros-Mariners Preview (Yahoo Sports) - While a lack of run production has plagued the Seattle Mariners all season, Felix Hernandez has provided them with their only quality start during a six-game losing streak. The Houston Astros have had to endure similar troubles throughout their seven-game skid. One of these streaks will come to an end Monday night, though the Mariners appear to have the advantage with Hernandez looking to continue his early-season dominance in the opener of a three-game home set. Since totaling 26 runs in a season-opening sweep of the Los Angeles Angels, Seattle (7-11) has averaged 2.7 runs and batted .207 while dropping 11 of 15. Anna, Beltran key Yankees' 5-1, 12-inning win (Yahoo Sports) - Anna drew a bases-loaded walk on a full-count pitch with two outs in the 12th inning and Carlos Beltran followed with a two-run single as the New York Yankees beat the Tampa Bay Rays 5-1 on Sunday. ''I was having fun,'' Anna said. ''Baseball is all about moments, and that was a moment right there.'' Yangervis Solarte was walked by Heath Bell (0-1) to open the 12th. After failing twice to bunt against C.J. Riefenhauser, Brett Gardner reached on a fielder's choice and went to third on Brian McCann's two-out single. Puig hits 3-run HR as Dodgers beat Diamondbacks (Yahoo Sports) - Yasiel Puig made it a very enjoyable 53rd birthday for Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly. Puig hit a three-run homer and threw out a runner at second base, leading Los Angeles over the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-1 Sunday. Puig connected with two outs following an intentional walk. He flipped his bat after capping a four-run sixth inning against Josh Collmenter (0-2).

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NFL Draft Needs: A lot of good teams need to fix some offensive line issues [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 20, 2014, 12:05 pm]
Before the NFL draft on May 8-10, we'll be looking at all the key prospects and also breaking them down by position. In our "Draft Needs" series we will also examine which teams will be in the market at each position, looking to fill their remaining roster holes. OFFENSIVE LINE Atlanta Falcons: Signing free-agent guard Jon Asamoah was huge, because it upgraded the interior line. It still doesn't fix the tackle situation, which is not good. If the Falcons want to keep Matt Ryan healthy for many years to come, they can't continue to trot out one of the worst sets of tackles in the league. That's why their decision with the sixth pick is so interesting. The Falcons need a pass rusher just as badly as they need a standout left tackle. Let's say the first five picks include defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, the three top quarterbacks and receiver Sammy Watkins. Atlanta could be choosing between Auburn left tackle Greg Robinson and Buffalo outside linebacker Khalil Mack, two outstanding talents who fill a strong need. What a draft room debate that would be. NEED LEVEL: Very high Miami Dolphins: Like the Falcons, the Dolphins made one big free-agency move on the line (signing Branden Albert from the Chiefs) but more needs to be done. This is a line that gave up 58 sacks last year, which makes quarterback Ryan Tannehill's progress in his second year that much more impressive. We all know the backstory behind why the offensive line was in shambles in 2013. With Albert as the anchor, the Dolphins can continue to build at guard or right tackle. In addition to signing Albert, Miami made a couple of solid signings in guard Shelley Smith and tackle Jason Fox, but there's a lot of work to be done in the draft, too. Perhaps a top talent like Michigan's Taylor Lewan will slip to them at No. 19. NEED LEVEL: Very high Carolina Panthers: The Panthers are another team with a young, franchise quarterback and a mediocre line to protect him. Having left tackle Jordan Gross retire was a huge

NFL Draft Needs: Cowboys, Bears good bets to draft defensive tackle in first round [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 19, 2014, 2:01 pm]
Before the NFL draft on May 8-10, we'll be looking at all the key prospects and also breaking them down by position. In our "Draft Needs" series we will also examine which teams will be in the market at each position, looking to fill their remaining roster holes. DEFENSIVE LINE Dallas Cowboys: Signing Henry Melton from Chicago helps, but he is coming off a season-ending injury last year and if he just replaces Jason Hatcher, who had an unbelievable year before going to the Redskins. And Dallas lost future Hall of Famer DeMarcus Ware at end. Maybe the team brings back Anthony Spencer, who is still a free agent, but he's coming off major knee surgery and the fact that he's still unsigned tells you he's not going to fix everything. Dallas needs a lot of help, particularly on its horrible defense, and the line is a great place to start. A good inside presence is almost a must at pick No. 16, someone like Florida State's Timmy Jernigan or Pitt's Aaron Donald. NEED LEVEL: Extremely high Chicago Bears: The Bears loaded up at defensive end in free agency, and that was smart. That doesn't mean the line is set, because there are still holes inside. Henry Melton left to Dallas. Corey Wootton was miscast as a tackle out of necessity, but he's gone too, to Minnesota. The Bears didn't sign one natural defensive tackle, so there's a lot of work to do here. Being able to snag someone like Donald or Jernigan with the 14th pick, two spots before the tackle-needy Cowboys pick, would be a very smart move and accentuate everything they were able to accomplish in free agency. NEED LEVEL: Very high New England Patriots: The Vince Wilfork issue has been taken care of, but it still showed how tenuous the Patriots' defensive line situation is. New England always seems to have good, versatile linemen but need an influx of young talent, especially inside, to go with depth guys like Chris Jones and Joe Vellano. It's probably a good bet they find someone that fits their scheme with the 29th pi

NFL draft: Q&A with UCLA LB Jordan Zumwalt [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 18, 2014, 12:11 pm]
Jordan Zumwalt seemed destined to play football at Arizona State, considering his father was a scrappy, undersized pass rusher there and his mom also attended the school. Jordan, his parents and his brother and two sisters often would load up the family RV and roll down the highway from their southern California home to Tempe to watch the Sun Devils play ever year. But Zumwalt, a star player at Huntington Beach’s Edison High School, switched gears — he was going to play for the local team instead, Pac-12 rival UCLA. Although it took him a little while to get going, the fiery linebacker finished his career strong (with a few bumps along the way) and now has positioned himself as an intriguing middle-round linebacker and special-teams prospect. Although he’s taking a huge class load this summer in order to earn his degree, the highly entertaining and loose-lipped Zumwalt was able to take a few minutes to chat with Shutdown Corner about watching his father play, getting recruited by Pete Carroll, getting hit by a car (on a scooter!), knocking out Logan Thomas and west coast women. SDC: Have you watched your dad’s old games with him? JZ: I actually watched a video of him playing in high school, believe it or not. There’s one floating around on VHS. I watched him play in college a little bit, too. One game in college he forced the game-winning fumble, and I guess the offense took the ball and scored that next possession. That was pretty cool to watch. SDC: Ever watched the 1987 Rose Bowl with your father? JZ: I don’t think he has that tape. I would love to watch that one. These were all in the archives. They’re all stacked up in the garage. SDC: It's on Youtube. JZ: Really? I have to look for that one. SDC: Your dad was basically a 215-, 220-pound rush end when he played, right? It wasn’t that long ago. JZ: Yeah! He was 220, maybe 225. He was a skinny guy, but he was strong as [heck], everyone said. SDC: I heard your family used to pile in an RV and go

NFL Draft Under the Microscope: Alabama LB C.J. Mosley [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 18, 2014, 11:39 am]
Leading up to the NFL draft on May 8-10, Shutdown Corner will examine some of the most interesting prospects in the class, breaking down their strengths and weaknesses. C.J. MosleyLinebackerAlabama6-foot-2, 234 pounds2013 stats: 108 tackles (61 solo), 9 tackles for loss, 10 quarterback hits40-yard dash: 4.63 seconds (unofficial time, at pro day) The good: Mosley, first and foremost, produced. In 2013, he had 108 tackles, 30 more than anyone else on the defense. The year before, on Alabama's national championship team, he had 107 tackles, 48 more than anyone else on the Crimson Tide. He gets to the ball. Repeatedly. He has good size, speed and quickness, fantastic instincts, was coached by a great staff in college and put up big tackle numbers in the best conference in the nation. He can blitz or drop in coverage, and should be an immediate three-down starter in the NFL. No team, with so much reliance on nickel defense, is going to invest a high pick in a linebacker that can't stay on the field in passing situations. On top of all that, Mosley has a reputation for his high character off the field. For all of those reasons, Mosley is going to be a first-round pick. The bad: There is an injury history with Mosley that is a bit concerning. He dislocated an elbow and a hip while at Alabama. He also had minor surgery on his shoulder after the 2012 season. It's never a great sign when a player has injury issues in college, because life certainly doesn't get easier in the NFL. Definitely not when you're taking on blockers as an inside linebacker. The rest of the knocks on Mosley are nitpicking. He didn't have any sacks or interceptions and had just one forced fumble in 2013, and you'd like to see more big plays if you're drafting a linebacker that high. He also had trouble over-pursuing on read-option plays, especially against Auburn, but he won't see a ton of that in the NFL. Also, with any Alabama player, you have to think about how much he benefited from being on a r

NFL draft: Q&A with Oregon cornerback Terrance Mitchell [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 18, 2014, 9:50 am]
Oregon cornerback Terrance Mitchell has been told what he cannot do for years, so excuse him if he no longer cares about what other people think. Mitchell is expected to be selected in the upcoming NFL draft, but not as a high pick. In fact, Mitchell requested an evaluation by the NFL draft board, and even though he didn't receive a favorable evaluation, he decided to forgo his senior year anyway. Mitchell was doubted coming out of high school, had to earn playing time at Oregon, and entering the NFL is just another battle he intends to win. Despite not having a lot of pre-draft hype, Mitchell spoke with Shutdown Corner about the challenges he has faced so far, and how he plans to overcome those obstacles in the NFL: Shutdown Corner: How has your pre-draft preparation been going?  Terrance Mitchell: The whole process has been cool, but it started off a little frustrating, starting with the combine. I didn’t run the time I wanted, but I did have the top 3-cone and top shuttle times of all the DBs in the country, so that was something to be proud of. Once I came back to my Pro Day to better my time, I messed up my hamstring running at my pro day. I had a 4.52, and I only ran one time. I knew I could do better. I had just worked out for the Colts and the Raiders last Saturday (workout at the high school he attended), and my best time was a 4.43. SDC: How is your hamstring now? TM: I’m feeling good. I’ve been getting good rehab at this place called “Results." They kind of pinpointed all the things I needed to work on to build it up. I’m feeling good. SDC: How frustrating has your lack of pre-draft attention been? TM: The thing that was frustrating, hearing and looking at where they have me placed as far as my ranking, I am just upset about that because I’m not quite sure what they were going off of. At DB, you don’t want to give up touchdowns, but last year I didn’t give up a touchdown. I figured I should be pretty high based off that. There’s a lot o

Peyton Manning got an unbelievable amount of money to speak at Oklahoma State [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 17, 2014, 6:03 pm]
Anyone who has followed along here for a while knows I respect Peyton Manning. He's a great player. He's not a bad interview either. He's a pretty sharp, funny guy. He's also one of the league's good guys, as far as charity work goes. All that said, would I pay him $105,000 to speak for an hour? ONE HUNDRED AND FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS? Oh my goodness, no. Nobody would. Wait, Oklahoma State University really did pay Manning that much? Sigh. Never mind. Manning, the Broncos quarterback and reigning MVP, spoke to about 4,250 Oklahoma State students at Gallagher-Iba Arena on Wednesday night. He spoke for 30 minutes and had a 30-minute Q&A session afterward. According to the Tulsa World, Manning told the students things like, "This is your world. Own it" and "Enjoy the journey, not the destination," Yep ... $105,000. From a public university that Manning has no significant attachment to. At least there's not a problem with the ridiculous cost of higher education in this country or anything. The Tulsa World wrote there was "a debate on campus" about how much the school was paying Manning, as there should have been. The chairman of the OSU Speakers Board, Patrick Alland, told the Tulsa World the money on Manning was well spent and he would do it again. Really though, what's he supposed to say, he wanted a refund? I guess if you're going to pay a football player six figures to speak, Manning probably is the right one. He can teach lessons on preparation, dealing with adversity physically and mentally, and he's as good of a leader as there is in the NFL. You could certainly see Manning being a politician someday when he's finished playing, if he wanted. Or, obviously, he could get into public speaking (which brings in a lot of money - Forbes says the price of a "serious" speaker starts at $5,000, jumps to $40,000 for a New York Times bestselling author. Elite speakers such as former U.S. Presidents can get six figures) when he's done. He's a bright person with a great deal of

NFL Draft Needs: Denver Broncos still need a linebacker, might draft a starter [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 17, 2014, 5:26 pm]
Before the NFL draft on May 8-10, we'll be looking at all the key prospects and also breaking them down by position. In our "Draft Needs" series we will also examine which teams will be in the market at each position, looking to fill their remaining roster holes. INSIDE LINEBACKER Denver Broncos: John Elway's shopping spree improved the roster, but the GM did strike out and miss on finding a new inside linebacker. The Broncos kicked the tires on a few of the notable linebackers on the market but still haven't landed one, which puts them at the front of the line for a new inside linebacker in the draft. With a team that is built to win now, drafting for need makes sense, so it would be a surprise if the team didn't fix its patchwork middle linebacker issue early in the draft. The problem is they have the 31st pick. The Broncos might not have a chance to land C.J. Mosley, the top inside linebacker, but it's easy to see them ending up with a thumper like Wisconsin's Chris Borland. NEED LEVEL: Extremely high Washington Redskins: Perry Riley is an underrated player, and it was wise for the Redskins to re-sign him this offseason. The other inside linebacker spot is a mystery after London Fletcher retired. Akeem Jordan, who signed a one-year deal this offseason, is an option. So is Keenan Robinson. But the Redskins will want to find a long-term solution. It wouldn't be a surprise to see them use a relatively high pick on the position, though there are a few needs on this team. NEED LEVEL: High Pittsburgh Steelers: With Larry Foote gone, the Steelers have Lawrence Timmons and little else in the middle. Free-agent addition Arthur Moats is decent, and Sean Spence might be an option if he ever could stay healthy, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Steelers try to find a difference maker to go next to Timmons. It seems like they have other needs to fill at No. 15, but a Mosley-Timmons duo inside would be pretty wicked. NEED LEVEL: Medium Other teams in need: Green Bay, N

Ravens reinstate troubled linebacker Rolando McClain, but will he get a chance? [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 17, 2014, 4:47 pm]
The Baltimore Ravens are giving Rolando McClain another shot. We think. Interesting: Ravens reinstate Rolando McClain from reserved/retired.— NFL: AroundTheLeague (@NFL_ATL) April 17, 2014 McClain had retired from football and yet stated his intentions to come back this season, and the Ravens gave him a workout on Tuesday. But it didn't go well, per an NFL.com report, and all indications were that his career might be over when he showed up late, couldn't finish his conditioning test and didn't do everything that was asked of him. Rolando McClain got his workout w the Ravens and I'm hearing it was NOT a roaring success. Didn't finish conditioning test, didn't do drills— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) April 15, 2014 So why did the Ravens change his status? It could be a procedural affair, and the Ravens plan to waive him at some point. But right now, he's on their roster. The former No. 8 pick in the 2010 draft started his career with the Oakland Raiders with promise, but things quickly derailed, which led to the team walking away from him. In a 17-month span between 2011 and 2013, he was arrested three times, including a year ago for disorderly conduct — just two weeks after he signed a contract with the Ravens, who opted to give him another shot. Less than two weeks after that, McClain announced his retirement from the league. He was said to be addressing his issues, and the Ravens kept watch on him, as GM Ozzie Newsome — a fellow Alabama player — hoped to keep McClain in the Ravens' picture and get his life in order. During last month's Alabama pro day, which McClain attended, he told the media that he felt he was making strides. "I really focused on the things I need to get right, and football wasn't one of those things," he said. "I feel better as a person overall.” So could McClain, still only 24 years old, get yet another chance? Even with this designation, it's not clear if he has a real future in the NFL, with Tuesday's workout an indication

Chad Johnson is back in football, with the CFL's Montreal Alouettes [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 17, 2014, 12:14 pm]
Chad Johnson is back in football. It's not exactly what the one-time star receiver envisioned, probably, but it'll do. Johnson, who is mostly known for his time with the Bengals, has signed with the Canadian Football League's Montreal Alouettes, the league announced. BREAKING: The @MTLAlouettes have signed @Ochocinco. Details to come. #CFL— CFL Official Feed (@CFL) April 17, 2014 IT'S OFFICIAL: @ochocinco puts pen to paper with @PoppJim. Bienvenue à #HuitCinq chez les #Alouettes! #CFL #LCF pic.twitter.com/yKkRlBwU7y— Montreal Alouettes (@MTLAlouettes) April 17, 2014 It's unlikely that this could lead to a NFL return. He's 36 and his last four seasons in the NFL weren't too productive. He was cut by the Dolphins before the 2012 season after he was arrested on simple battery/domestic violence charges. Johnson has let it be known, mostly through his Twitter feed, how much he regrets how his time in the NFL ended. The CFL isn't the NFL, but that's fine with him. "A dream of mine since I was 4 years old was taken from me, rightfully so, by my wrongdoings and I just want to get back to doing something that I love to do, regardless of where it is," Johnson said, according to the New York Daily News. "Montreal, flag football, back in the street the way I grew up. I just want to play football.” Johnson is taking a rather unusual path. There aren't many established NFL stars who have gone to play in Canada after the NFL wouldn't give them a job. Running back Ricky Williams (who was suspended for a year by the NFL), defensive end Mark Gastineau, running back Lawrence Phillips and receiver Andre Rison are a few who have played in Canada after starring in the United States. Others, like Warren Moon, Doug Flutie or Cameron Wake have gone to the NFL after showing off their pro talent in Canada first. But reviving a once-successful NFL career by going to Canada first is very rare. Johnson is, by all accounts, in great shape, and he's likely to be motivated after being o

Dating is hard, but Packers fans now have a website to find true love [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 17, 2014, 10:59 am]
It is hard being single and searching for the perfect companion. Your so-called friends try to set you up on dates with people who are only attractive to those with their eyes closed. Speed dating is the easiest way to condense a year of letdowns into an hour-long session. Online dating allows romantics to sort through incompatible prospects from the comfort of their home. Imagine if someone invented a dating website based on the most important criteria – being a Packers fan. Then singles could find someone to wear a cheesehead with on Sunday. Packers fans, it is time to take a selfie in the bathroom mirror. GreenBayPackersLovers.com is a new dating website geared toward connecting Packers fan. Yes, everyone knows true love begins and ends with a dinner discussion around the pros and cons of Aaron Rodgers’ mustache. Here is a description of the website: Green Bay Packers fans are the most loyal fans around. Just look at Pack's die hard fans that tackle the brutally cold winters to storm outside and cheer on the Pack Attack. At our site you can find other Packers Bakers cheeseheads looking for love. Whether you're looking for true love, a long term relationship, are marriage minded, just looking for fun or maybe even just looking for friendship. Of course, there are more men than women signed up, which should attract all the single ladies. Women can choose between dating a guy who paints his chest or the one who wears hunting gear on game day. Either way, he is a Packers fan. Who cares? The “Lambeau Leap of Love” is only one click away. - - - - - - - Anwar S Richardson is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at NFLAnwar@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @AnwarRichardson

Seven-foot-5 Sim Bhullar's decision to turn pro isn't as foolish as it may seem [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 17, 2014, 10:06 am]
Once the first report surfaced Wednesday night that New Mexico State's 7-foot-5 center Sim Bhullar was turning pro, a torrent of criticism quickly followed. "Whoever is reportedly telling Sim Bhullar that it's a good idea to enter the NBA draft is someone Bhullar should stop listening to," SI.com NBA writer Chris Mannix tweeted. ESPN.com's Jeff Goodman was even less charitable, calling it "a horrific decision." The backlash is fair to some extent since Bhullar is unlikely to taken in the NBA draft and desperately needs another year of conditioning and skill development to have any chance to be an asset at that level. Nonetheless, the criticism also overlooks the fact that the injury risks associated with Bhullar's massive size and weight make him a unique case.  The window to make money as a professional basketball player is considerably shorter for a 7-foot-5 center conservatively listed at 360 pounds because his joints and feet are likely to break down sooner than even the average center's would. Bhullar already had foot injuries during his redshirt season and last year, so it's tough to blame him for wanting to maximize his earning potential. Bhullar is entering the NBA draft after a sophomore season in which he averaged 10.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.4 blocks. He earned the WAC tournament's Most Outstanding Player award for the second straight season and led the Aggies to the NCAA tournament for the second straight year. While Bhullar's conditioning remains his greatest flaw, he has come along way since the summer before his freshman season. The player who was gasping for air after a few possessions during offseason pick-up games and lagging well behind his teammates during early-summer conditioning cut candy and junk food from his diet and shed enough weight to play 24.3 minutes per game as a freshman and 26.3 as a sophomore. The biggest strengths of Bhullar's game are his ability to clog the lane and alter shots around the rim on defense and his soft hands a

DeMarcus Ware, Zane Beadles studying finance for better post-career options [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 17, 2014, 9:43 am]
Two of the NFL’s top free agents signed contracts this offseason that would allow them, if they so chose, to put their money in a simple savings account and in theory be set for their lives. And yet DeMarcus Ware and Zane Beadles, who signed deals that will combine to earn them more than $32 million guaranteed with their new teams, want more. Not more money, necessarily. But more knowledge of how best to put it to use. We all know that the NFL deals in funny money. To wit: A five-year, $50 million deal isn’t worth 50 mil proper — how much of that is guaranteed? And also, there’s the painful truth that the majority of the players in the league will have blown most of whatever they have earned, or perhaps all of it. Ware and Beadles were two of 28 current and former NFL players who attended last week’s NFL Business Management & Entrepreneurial Program at the University of Notre Dame. The program was designed to help players of all strata — from the Wares of the world down to league-minimum players, and even those no longer earning a league paycheck — to help better manage their funds and perhaps even invest them properly. In fact, most of the players who attended were not on Ware’s or even Beadles’ level of fame or talent. They either were fringe players, or currently out of the league. The pro athlete is a potential victim for myriad pitfalls when signing big-money deals: poor management, friends and relatives seeking handouts or loans they never intent to pay back, bad investments. But players also can get caught up in a lifestyle that drains their accounts because of bad spending habits. Patrick Kerney was not one of these players. The former Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks defensive end signed two big contracts in his NFL career but always was smart with his money and always keeping an eye not only on his own bank accounts, but also seeing how frivolous some of his teammates over 12 years in the league were. Kerney twice attended this progr

Classmates don't believe boy is friends with J.J. Watt, so Watt makes a video [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 17, 2014, 9:40 am]
Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt is likely the best defensive player in the NFL, and he also seems to be one of the league's better guys off the field. Watt seems to spend his offseason looking for ways to do nice things, particularly with kids. He had a pretty good one this week. Apparently a boy named Trey struck up a friendship with Watt, the former NFL defensive player of the year. Would you believe that story? The kids at his school apparently didn't either. So Watt posted a video to his Instagram account where he appears with Trey, introduces himself and Trey as friends, then has Trey throw him a touchdown. "All those of you who don't believe Trey is my friend, believe this touchdown," Watt says in the video. Nicely played, J.J. And nice throw, Trey.  The NFL will always have some knuckleheads, but it's also great to know that there are players like Watt, Seahawks running back Christine Michael and many, many others out there using their fame to make many people happy. - - - - - - - Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Report: Ravens, Falcons, Patriots, Colts, Browns and Jets are heavily interested in Michael Sam [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 17, 2014, 8:40 am]
Michael Sam is not expected to be a first-round pick in the upcoming NFL draft. He may not be selected in the middle rounds. In fact, there is a chance Sam is not drafted at all. However, there are plenty of NFL teams very interested in him. The Baltimore Ravens, Atlanta Falcons, New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts, Cleveland Browns and New York Jets are the teams most interested in Sam, according to The Baltimore Sun. Sam met with several teams, including Baltimore, at the NFL scouting combine. Sam is poised to become the first openly gay NFL player. However, Sam has struggled during the NFL evaluation process. Sam turned in an unimpressive performance at the scouting combine. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.91 seconds (tied for 18th); bench pressed 225 pounds 17 times (tied for 47th/second to last); had a vertical jump of 25.5 inches (tied for 39th) and his broad jump was 114 inches (tied for 14th). During Missouri’s pro day, Sam ran the 40-yard dash in 4.72 seconds, plus finished with 19 reps of 225 pounds. Unfortunately, for Sam, he sustained a hamstring injury during the workout, and struggled to finish the drills. One thing working on Sam’s behalf is most NFL teams are more concerned with what they see on film than evaluating predraft workouts. Sam was named the SEC’s co-defensive player of the year after leading the conference in sacks (10.5) and tackles for loss (18.0) last season. Some scouts believe Sam is not athletic enough to play outside linebacker and not big enough to be a defensive end in a 3-4, which means he will have to make an NFL team as a special teams contributor. And there are six NFL teams seemingly poised to give Sam a chance. - - - - - - - Anwar S Richardson is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at NFLAnwar@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @AnwarRichardson

Troy Aikman is 'concerned' about Tony Romo's back [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 17, 2014, 7:51 am]
There are few men on earth who can understand what it's like to be Tony Romo, quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. Fewer still understand what Romo is going through from an injury perspective, and one of those is a bit concerned. Troy Aikman, a Cowboys legend, retired after 12 years in the league in large part because of back difficulties. Speaking to the Cowboys' website, Aikman was frank about his perspective on Romo's prospects: "Two back surgeries in less than a year at his age, I would be a bit concerned." Make no mistake, Aikman is firmly in Romo's corner. But he's taking a pragmatic view of Romo's injury recovery. “I’m hopeful that he’s able to come back," Aikman said. "Everybody is. This team won’t be the same if he’s not able to. I anticipate that he will come back. But to say that, ‘Hey, he’s ahead of schedule and everything’s going fine,’ I’m not sure how you can really measure that here in April.” Romo and Aikman have plenty of parallels. Romo is also entering his 12th year, and he'll turn 34 this year, the age Aikman was at retirement. Aikman didn't hint that change was on the way, noting instead that Brandon Weeden and, presumably, Kyle Orton will be suitable backups. "It doesn’t sound like they’ll be drafting [a quarterback]," Aikman said of the Cowboys. "But if they can find a free agent to come out and at some point down the road play like Tony has played, that’s a pretty good way to go.” You know where this ought to head, though. Johnny Manziel to the Cowboys. Make it happen, Jerry. ____ Jay Busbee is a contributor for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter. Follow @jaybusbee

Receiver Sidney Rice visits with Jets, then decides to come back to Seahawks [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 16, 2014, 6:22 pm]
Sidney Rice weighed his options, including a visit with the New York Jets, and decided it was best to come back to Seattle. Rice, who missed out on the Seahawks' Super Bowl run because he tore his ACL during the season, announced after his visit with the Jets was done that he was going back to Seattle. 📢 Aaayyyyooo 12s.. SEA you in a few.. IM COMIN' HOME! #Seahawks #12thman #Round2 http://t.co/am8tOXAwmu— Sidney Rice (@sidneyrice) April 16, 2014 Multiple media reports said Rice and the Seahawks agreed to a one-year deal. The reunion makes sense. Rice is comfortable in the offense after three seasons. He had seven touchdowns for the Seahawks in 2012. And Seattle still needs difference makers at receiver. Most of their receivers are young, they lost Golden Tate during the offseason, and top option Percy Harvin can't be trusted to stay healthy for a full season. Rice isn't a big star anymore, surely not like he was when he had his career year with 1,312 yards and eight touchdowns in 2009 for the Vikings. But if he can return from ACL surgery and stay healthy, he'll give the Seahawks another option in the passing game as they try to defend their Super Bowl title. - - - - - - - Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

NFL draft prospect Brandin Cooks brings mom to tears after giving her a Mercedes SUV (video) [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 16, 2014, 2:36 pm]
Future NFL wide receiver Brandin Cooks is known for his speed. He recently made a name for himself with his mouth for comparing his skills to DeSean Jackson's. Now Cooks is showing he has an incredible heart. Cooks, a former Oregon State standout, will likely make a lot of money in the NFL. He is expected to be selected in the early rounds of this year’s draft. After running the fastest time at the NFL scouting combine (4.33 seconds), Cooks received a check for $100,000 from Adidas for clocking the quickest 40-yard dash time. Instead of making a lavish purchase for himself, Cooks decided to reward his mom, Andrea Cooks, with a new Mercedez-Benz GLK 350. Brandin was six years old when his father died of a heart attack, and the youngest of three brothers. Andrea Cooks held the family together after her husband’s death, and Brandin took care of his mom when he had the chance. Here is the emotional video Cooks posted on YouTube: - - - - - - - Anwar S Richardson is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at NFLAnwar@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @AnwarRichardson

Chris Johnson signs a two-year deal with the New York Jets [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 16, 2014, 1:54 pm]
In a free-agent move that was entirely predictable from the moment Chris Johnson was cut, the former Tennessee Titans star running back agreed to a deal with the New York Jets. The Jets were one of the few teams in the NFL that was still pretty unsettled at running back, aside from Chris Ivory, at least until Johnson was cut. Then it became clear who the Jets' main tailback in 2014 would be. Johnson visited the Jets this week, and the two sides came to an agreement on a two-year deal according to ESPN. Again, this should have surprised nobody. Now Johnson gets to be the focal point of an offense that is still breaking in quarterback Geno Smith, who had his ups and downs last year. The Johnson that gained 2,006 yards in 2009 during one of the great single-season performances in NFL history isn't what the Jets are getting. That player isn't around anymore. But what Johnson can bring to the Jets is a good running back who still has big-play potential. Johnson gained at least 1,000 yards in each of his six NFL seasons and hasn't missed a game since his rookie year of 2008. He averaged at least 4 yards per carry each season until last year, when he just missed at 3.9. Johnson complained about his role off and on with the Texans, but he shouldn't have many concerns with the Jets, although Ivory should get some touches too after a very promising 2013 season. Still, given Rex Ryan's style and Smith's inexperience at quarterback, Johnson should have all the carries he can handle. Another 1,000-yard season shouldn't be too tough for Johnson to get, although it's probably not wise to bet on him reaching 2,000 again. - - - - - - - Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Miami's Erik Swoope is on the NFL's radar despite having never played football before [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 16, 2014, 1:33 pm]
Pursuing a professional basketball career overseas no longer seemed appealing to Erik Swoope after the University of Miami forward had an end-of-the-year meeting with his head coach last month. Almost unfathomably, he suddenly had a more enticing opportunity. Miami basketball coach Jim Larranaga informed Swoope that someone from the Denver Broncos had left a voicemail asking whether the senior had interest in scheduling a workout before the NFL draft. Swoope had never played organized football at any level before, but the Broncos believed his 6-foot-5 frame, explosive athleticism and aptitude for learning gave him a chance to make the same transition from undersized power forward to NFL tight end that stars Antonio Gates and Jimmy Graham once did. "I was completely shocked," Swoope said. "That was about the last thing I expected Coach L to tell me. Once I figured out this was real and that he wasn't kidding, I was really excited. I took a week to think about it but then I decided I wanted to see what they had in mind." In the four weeks since his unexpected discovery that he was on the NFL's radar, Swoope has taken a crash course to familiarize himself with a sport he'd only watched on TV before. He has lifted weights to add muscle to his already chiseled frame, done basic drills to improve his pass catching and route running skills and sought out advice from athletes who have made a similar jump from basketball to football. Swoope's commitment has impressed NFL scouts enough that they've told him he has a good chance to make an NFL team's practice squad next season even if he is not selected in the later rounds of the draft next month. His workout with the Broncos last Thursday went well enough that officials from the Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs have since called to express interest. "I think he has a great chance of playing in the NFL," Larranaga said. "He's a phenomenal athlete, he's a hard worker and he'll pick up new concepts quickly because he's jus

Rob Gronkowski planning on a slow, methodical return from knee surgery [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: April 16, 2014, 1:13 pm]
Remember last year, when there was a bunch of mystery about why Rob Gronkowski hadn't returned to the New England Patriots lineup from injury, and the weekly questions about when the tight end would make his debut? Well, here we go again. Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman, quoting a source, says that Gronkowski's rehab "take his time and then take more time" in returning from a torn ACL and MCL suffered last season. This makes sense. Gronkowski needs to make sure he's fully healthy, because his body hasn't always cooperated the past couple years. His concern shouldn't be getting back as soon as he can for the 2014 season, but making sure he isn't cutting his career short by rushing back. But that was the case last year, and it didn't stop a lot of grumbling about why he hadn't made it back to the lineup when it seemed like he was due to play. Let's go out on a limb and predict this won't be the last Shutdown Corner post in 2014 that has to do with Gronkowski's rehab and when he might return to the lineup. Hopefully one of the league's most dynamic and entertaining players feels 100 percent sooner rather than later. Early indications are his rehab is going just fine. And we know that America's favorite bro is eating well this offseason, at least. Double Fisting dem steaks! @david_vozzola pick up your game! #freddieFlintstoneGotNuttinOnMe pic.twitter.com/Kn8KcA33D7— Rob Gronkowski (@RobGronkowski) April 15, 2014   - - - - - - - Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab





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