Browse Month by April 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Gil Brandt: Mike McGlinchey will go in the top 10 (updated)

There’s a chance that 40 percent of the Notre Dame starting offensive line in 2017 will be among the first 10 players picked in the 2018 NFL draft.

Asked to identify the biggest surprise in the top 10 by Peter King of SI.com, Gil Brandt of NFL.com picks Irish tackle Mike McGlinchey.

“He’ll go in the top 10,” Brandt said.

But Gettleman strikes me as an old-school GM who doesn’t want to put up with Beckham’s nonsense. Mara probably has had his fill of Beckham, too. And Shurmur would love to see more depth added to the roster with a few extra draft picks.

The Giants also are tight against the cap after recent investments on free-agent signings such as Nate Solder on offense. They’ve spent even more on the defense, with huge contracts for Olivier Vernon, Damon Harrison, Janoris Jenkins and the re-signing of Jason Pierre-Paul. They also recently traded for a $10 million-per-year linebacker in Alec Ogletree.

Here are the teams that have improved the most, plus those that will enter the 2018 season on the decline.

As a young team already coming off a division title, the Rams appear to be the big winner for “Madden NFL 19,” which will be released in August. While they have brought in personalities that have the potential for disruption and conflict, those concerns don’t transition to a game that doesn’t factor in off-field turmoil, suspensions or locker-room conflict. Considering the talent they’ve acquired, the Rams will be a force in the video game.

The signing of Ndamukong Suh gives Los Angeles the highest-rated pair of defensive teammates in the league. Suh and his rating of 93 Overall joins Aaron Donald, 99 Overall, on the line. In Suh, the Rams are getting the player deemed by “Madden” the strongest in the league. Suh also ranks as the second-highest player in Hit Power.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Alshon Jeffery remains in a sling but expects to return for the preseason

Alshon Jeffery injured his right shoulder in a hard fall July 30. The Eagles called the injury a shoulder strain.

The MRI results, though, put immediate surgery on the table as an option.

“I was like, ‘No, there’s no way you’re gonna do that. We gotta figure out another situation,’” Jeffery said, via Les Bowen of philly.com.

The receiver, who had signed a one-year deal with the Eagles, wasn’t about to miss the season. Jeffery played through the pain, participating in 82 percent of the offensive snaps in the regular season and 89 percent in the postseason.

As he should be. Not only will Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther’s system play to his strengths, but Melvin can earn an additional $1 million through incentives.

Plus, the 28-year-old Melvin is set to get another crack at free agency in 2019. And if his goals are reached, Melvin’s market value should jump even higher by proving to teams his strong play in Indianapolis wasn’t a fluke.

“I’m just excited for this upcoming season to really broadcast that the excuses will run out and they can’t last forever,” Melvin said. “I’m ready to take advantage of that.”

The Vikings selected Adams in the fifth round (170th overall) of the 2017 draft out of South Florida.

Brooklyn hit 18 3-pointers in its first game since falling one shy of the NBA record with 24 in a rout of Chicago on Saturday.

Crabbe celebrated his 26th birthday by going 8 of 11 from deep Monday. He scored 14 straight points during his first quarter outburst and finished the first half with 29 points, including 6 of 6 from deep. The Nets led 62-55 at the break.

During his last three games, Crabbe has made 18 3-pointers and averaged 28.7 points.

“I shook his hand after the game and it was still hot, still cooking,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. “He’s really finishing the season the way we’re asking the team to finish, on a strong night.”

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Eli Manning’s annual Duke workouts go on without Odell Beckham

The Giants officially start their offseason program on Monday, but some members of the team got off to an unofficial start at Duke University this week.

Quarterback Eli Manning has gathered offensive players in Durham, North Carolina for the last few years because his coach at Ole Miss David Cutcliffe now coaches the Blue Devils. Social media posts show that wide receivers Brandon Marshall, Roger Lewis and Sterling Shepard, tight end Evan Engram and running back Wayne Gallman are on hand to start working before the whole team will gather next week.

The Patriots and Eagles were not able to agree to trade parameters involving players like Kansas City did for Smith, nor could they start sniffing around potential free-agent acquisitions without significant risk. If any word were to leak about upcoming roster decisions, the team chemistry built with current players would be altered and potentially destroyed.

Coaching changes are a different animal. It’s no secret now when an assistant from a Super Bowl team will be leaving for an opportunity elsewhere shortly after the confetti has fallen.

But changing the rules to allow an early contract signing is going one step too far.

The insurance companies want to obtain documents relevant to efforts to discredit the work of Dr. Bennet Omalu regarding CTE, along with paperwork reflecting communications regarding the deaths of Mike Webster, Justin Strzelczyk, Terry Long, and Andre Waters.

If the NFL is forced to hand over these materials to the insurance companies, that could trigger a settlement of the case; some believe the NFL’s primary goal will be to keep the media and, in turn, the public from learning the full extent of what the league knew about head trauma — and what the league may have done to cover it up.

Odell Beckham Jr. has proved difficult for the Giants to re-sign. That also makes it harder for New York to trade Beckham, as the team thinks it should ask for everything and the kitchen sink in return.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Odell Beckham Jr. trade at right price would solve Giants’ problem

It’s been an exceedingly active year already for NFL trades. But there’s one blockbuster deal that has not happened, and it should be on the Giants’ radar.

That would be a trade of the highly talented-but-equally problematic Odell Beckham Jr.

If I’m new Giants general manager Dave Gettleman, I’m saying “no mas” to OBJ’s exorbitant contract demands and to his diva-like behavior. Before shelling out $17 million, $18 million or more per year for the star wide receiver, I’m putting out feelers to gauge his trade value.

Then there’s the most recent viral video, of Beckham lying in bed, appearing to hold a brown cigarette with a woman next to him with a white substance on a plate — cringe-worthy stuff for New York, including new coach Pat Shurmur, and for Beckham’s agent during the negotiating process.

Victor Oladipo had 27 points on 12-of-15 shooting and Lance Stephenson, a former Hornet, had 10 rebounds, 10 assists and eight points for the Pacers, who have won seven of their last nine games.

Sabonis said he feels comfortable in the Pacers’ system, where he is playing more center than he did earlier in the season.

“I love it here,” Sabonis said. “It’s a great system. We have a great group of guys who believe in it and we all want to win so that’s been working for us.”

McMillan said Sabonis has been solid all season, whether it has been in a starting role or reserve, or playing the four or five position.

“He does a good job of getting the offense moving from side to side,” McMillan said. “He’s made good decisions out there when he’s played.”

There’s a clip against Iowa where he changes a protection. The [weakside] linebacker blitzes and everybody runs hot and Josh Allen does not move till his third step of the drop. What were you thinking? What was going on? And that shows up way too much for me. And again, that stuff is not fixable. You think Dick LeBeau is easier to do it against? When he’s got Star Wars on the back end going on? . . . When the ball is snapped it’s almost like, I don’t know what’s going on. . . .

Minnesota Vikings

Saints sign Zach Line to two-year deal

Fullback Zach Line is sticking with the Saints.

Agent Mike McCartney announced that his client has agreed to a new contract with the team. It’s a two-year deal for Line, who joined the Saints last season after four years with the Vikings.

Line was signed last August and released in September before returning to the Saints the next month. He had seven carries, two catches and a touchdown in 12 regular season games and scored another touchdown in their Wild Card round victory over the Panthers in January.

“I thought today we got better as the game went on and we really started playing our game, our style, our system and it showed on the scoreboard,” Bergeron said. “We’re in a position where we can win the conference. It’s a big feat.”

Senators D Erik Karlsson missed his third straight game, remaining at home with his wife after the couple’s first son was stillborn last month. … Bruins LW Tim Schaller and RW David Pastrnak are the only Boston players to have played in the first 81 games. … Bruins LW Rick Nash missed his 11th straight game with an upper-body injury. … After entering the season on a six-game winless streak against Ottawa, Boston swept all four games.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was among thousands who filled the Humboldt Broncos’ home arena for a vigil on Sunday night honoring the junior hockey team involved in a tragic bus accident.

Broncos president Kevin Garinger choked up as he read the names of the 15 people killed, and family and friends cried and embraced.

“Not one of us is alone in our grief,” Garinger said, later encouraging the community to “continue to reach out. Reach out to one another for help and support. Across our province, our country and our globe, we will find strength in each other.”

Dallas Cowboys

Shohei Ohtani gives up 1 hit in 7 shutout innings in home debut

Shohei Ohtani seemed to be the only person in Angel Stadium who wasn’t incredibly impressed while he mowed down the Oakland Athletics’ first 19 batters in order.

But when Ohtani finally yielded a hit and then struck out Matt Olson with two runners on to end the seventh inning, he gave a fist pump and a celebratory scream at the ground while the crowd rose for a standing ovation.

Even the two-way Japanese sensation realized his first home pitching start was a thrilling moment in his increasingly incredible rookie season.

Ohtani threw seven shutout innings of one-hit ball in his home debut on the mound, propelling the Los Angeles Angels to a 6-1 victory Sunday.

“He got off to a good start, the crowd got into it, [and] he got a little bit of a generous strike zone, all of that,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “But the bottom line is he pitched really well.”

Jed Lowrie drew a four-pitch walk after Semien’s single, but Ohtani ended the threat by inducing Khris Davis’ weak groundout before fanning Olson. He left the mound to the last of several standing ovations from his enthralled new fans in the sellout crowd — an unheard-of gathering at Angel Stadium in April.

“It’s a rare kind of talent to do it both ways, and it’s great to watch,” Angels second baseman Zack Cozart said. “It didn’t look like [the A’s] had a chance up there, the way he was throwing.”

Dallas has an opening on its line after Jonathan Cooper, who started 13 games at left guard, departed in free agency.

A big part of that beyond just who are the best is try to put them in the best place for them individually and the best place for them collectively. His versatility is going to help us. We have signed a couple of linemen. We’ll get them in the mix . . . and see where they fit in and get to work.”

Collins started 11 games at left guard as a rookie. He began 2016 as the starter there before injuring a toe in the third game, ending his season prematurely. A year ago, after left guard Ron Leary left in free agency and right tackle Doug Free retired, Collins moved to right tackle.

“I played against a lot of great players in my first year at right tackle,” Collins said. “For me, it only made me better as a player. Honestly, I never thought I could play multiple positions at the offensive line spot. Just being able to have played pretty much every position except center, it feels great. Going against those guys last year was a big stepping stone for me going into next year.”

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Garrett: Dak Prescott knows he’s got to get better

Really everything, Garrett said, via Todd Archer of ESPN. At the quarterback position — and maybe every position, but maybe most glaringly there — there’s so much to learn over the course of your career. That’s why the guys at that position play longer and it seems like they’re playing their best football well into their 30s.

A sophomore slump isn’t a new NFL phenomenon, with many young players — particularly quarterbacks — struggling once defenses get enough tape to break down tendencies.

Dak’s troubles in 2017 also didn’t come in a vacuum. He had to deal with a plethora of issues beyond his control: Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension, Tyron Smith’s injuries, a struggling receiving corps.

The Cowboys attempted to address the final problem, adding Allen Hurns and Deonte Thompson in free agency. Dallas also should look to add a receiver through the draft.

After watching the Eagles hoist the Lombardi Trophy with their backup quarterback, the Cowboys know they need improved play from their starter to close the gap in the NFC East.

The Steelers again placed the franchise tag on Bell for the upcoming season, meaning if things remain static, the all-purpose back will earn $14.54 million in 2018.

As it stands, a report last weekend indicated the Steelers have put negotiations with Bell on hold. While Bell has stated he won’t sit out the 2018 NFL season, he did hint at sitting out through training camp if the franchise tag is not rescinded and a long-term deal is hammered out, what Bell has desired for years.

Run back that replay, please.

Outlawing the helmet as a weapon and the technique of using it by lowering the head is a noble and progressive idea in this era of heightened awareness of the long-term risks of concussions and well, risks associated with deep-pocket liability.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

General manager Sandy Alderson said the team will decide in a couple of days whether Conforto needs a minor league rehab assignment before coming off the disabled list.

Less than two hours before the first pitch, the Cardinals landed a closer. Greg Holland agreed to a $14 million, one-year contract with the team, according to a person familiar with the deal. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the agreement was pending a physical and had not been announced. A three-time All-Star, Holland was a free agent after leading the National League with 41 saves last year for Colorado. His addition would be a major boost to an unsettled Cardinals bullpen lacking a proven closer in the wake of several injuries.

Mets: Conforto is ahead of schedule in his recovery from surgery for a dislocated left shoulder and is eligible to return late next week, when the Mets are in Washington.

Cardinals RHP Michael Wacha (12-9, 4.13 ERA) starts the second game of the season Saturday afternoon against RHP Jacob deGrom (15-10, 3.53 ERA), the Mets’ initial choice for opening day before his schedule was slowed at the outset of spring training by a stiff back and the birth of his child.

The South Jersey product has been one of Rutgers’ spring stars, and is coming off a star turn in the first spring scrimmage last weekend, including a long touchdown reception off a go-route. Ash said earlier this spring Melton has been getting behind the defensive backs, and new offensive coordinator John McNulty recently hinted he’d like to get the sophomore the ball often this season.

Guys like Bo, guys that have different-level speed and ability, we have to make sure we give them a chance to put the ball in the end zone, John McNulty said.

Melton, a four-star recruit from Cedar Creek High and a Rutgers legacy – his dad Gary played football for the Scarlet Knights and mom Vicky played basketball – had four catches for 83 yards in five games last season. Melton battled a back injury and readily admitted he went through some college growing pains away from the field, as Ash alluded to.

Class has been a transition from high school to college, especially when you have football practice right after, Melton said last November. When I first came here, it was real hard. I was like,’I don’t know how I’m going to do this.’ Then we got to the season and I got the hang of it, and now it’s easier.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Eagles want Carson Wentz to learn from other QBs about protecting himself

One of the reasons why quarterback Carson Wentz was so valuable to the Eagles last season was because of his ability to keep plays alive long enough to make big gains, although that ability comes with a downside illustrated by his season-ending torn ACL.

Are there future Pro Football Hall of Fame selections just waiting to be found amid the heap of NFL preseason roster cuts, college washouts, alternative leaguers and even the semipro ranks?

A longtime NFL executive who earned his gold jacket through championship-winning personnel acumen not only believes such treasure exists, but Bill Polian is willing to put his name and shovel behind the idea.

That’s how bullish Polian is about the potential the Alliance of American Football, an upstart spring venture set to kick off in February 2019, will afford.

“We firmly believe the next Kurt Warner and Adam Vinatieri is out there,” Polian told me Tuesday night on SiriusXM NFL Radio. “We just have to find them and give them a chance.”

Bowanko will likely be part of the scrum of players competing for depth roles on the interior of the line for the Patriots behind center David Andrews, left guard Joe Thuney and right guard Shaq Mason.

“You can’t blame our goalie on any of them. I think if you had two goalies in the net you might not get a save there because we had full possession of the puck on three of those plays,” Kings coach John Stevens said.

Benn got his hat trick at 13:57 by tipping Radulov’s pass past Quick for his 10th point during a five-game point streak. He has eight goals and two assists in that span.

The Stars took a 1-0 lead at 6:41. Shore scored on a backhand after poking the puck away from Kings defenseman Christian Folin. It was Shore’s 11th goal, and his third point (two goals, one assist) in five games.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Ramblers have won 21 of their last 22 games, while the Wolverines have won 15 of 16.

No. 11-seeded Loyola has beaten a higher seed in each matchup of the NCAA Tournament so far and will have to do so again, as No. 3 Michigan awaits. After winning their first three games by a combined four points, the Ramblers got down to business with a breezy 17-point win over Kansas State on Saturday to move to the Final Four – their first since winning the NCAA championship in 1963. The Wolverines staved off Florida State in a low-scoring affair, giving them a program-record 32 wins.

A matchup with Duke in the final remains a potential outcome for Loyola; in the Ramblers’ title run in 1963, they beat the Blue Devils in the Final Four.

Loyola boasts a stout defense that ranks fifth nationally with just 62.4 points allowed per game; Michigan isn’t far behind, ranking ninth with 63.3 points per contest.

The Giants signed Smith to be Eli Manning’s backup last season. The 27-year-old appeared in two games, including a Week 13 start against the Oakland Raiders, and went 21-of-36 for 212 yards with one touchdown.

Pro Football Focus’ Ryan Smith noted Geno’s one start produced a higher quarterback grade than Manning had all season through the first 12 weeks:

Since the Jets selected him in the second round of the 2013 draft, Smith has carved out a niche as a backup quarterback. He’s never developed into a player who’s capable of starting every week and performing at a high level.

But a veteran quarterback who can fill in when a team needs him is a valuable commodity. The Chargers needed depth at the position, and Smith was the best available option at this point in free agency.