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Minnesota Vikings

Former NFL cornerback Charles ‘Peanut’ Tillman earns FBI badge, source says

Former Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Tillman has graduated from the FBI’s Training Academy in Quantico, Va., and is now an agent, Sporting News has learned.

The 13-year NFL veteran entered the 20-week program last year, as first reported by the Chicago Tribune, and had until his 37th birthday (Feb. 23, 2018) to earn his badge due to a stipulation that a new agent must be appointed before he or she reaches that age.

A spokesman for the bureau told Sporting News that it does not comment on personnel matters, and Tillman’s family couldn’t be reached, but a source close to the situation said on the eve of Tillman’s 37th birthday, “He is currently working for the FBI. (He) has his badge and everything.”

Charles Tillman spent the first 12 years of his NFL career in Chicago, making first-team All Pro in 2012 and helping the Bears reach Super Bowl 41, which they lost 29-17 to Peyton Manning and the Colts. He spent his final NFL season with the Panthers but suffered an ACL tear in the 2015 regular-season finale. That injury ultimately led to him missing out on a chance to face the Manning-led Broncos in Super Bowl 50, which Carolina lost 24-10.

Tillman finished that season with 55 tackles and two interceptions, giving him 911 and 38, respectively, for his career. The 2013 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year amassed 44 forced fumbles over 168 career games, using a technique that became known as the “Peanut Punch.”

The letter was addressed to Saundra Adams — Cherica Adams’ mother and the grandmother of Carruth’s son, Chancellor — who has raised the boy since his mother was killed in 1999.

In an interview with WBTV regarding the letter, Carruth apologized for his role in Adams’ death saying, “I’m apologizing for the loss of her daughter. I’m apologizing for the impairment of my son.

“I feel responsible for everything that happened. And I just want her to know that truly I am sorry for everything.”

MORE: Most heinous crimes connected to athletes

He also expressed regret for his actions and how they affected his son, who was born prematurely with cerebral palsy after his mother was shot four times by men hired by Carruth.

Saundra Adams has said that she and Chancellor will be there when Carruth is

Dallas Cowboys

NFL teams will start releasing players before the new league year. Here’s what you need to know

The best example from last season was Josh McCown. The Jets looks like they were in full-on tank mode last offseason when they seemingly dumped any player with any kind of talent.

Instead, McCown had a career year at 38 years old, and was 5-8 in his 13 starts before falling to injury. He was even second in the NFL among quarterbacks with five rushing touchdowns. Only Cam Newton and Dak Prescott had more (6).

He wants a victory smoke. Well-earned.

With two-and-a-half minutes left to play, tight end Zach Ertz scored a bobbling touchdown, the kind that you’re not really sure will survive the league’s confusing replay system. It did, and the Eagles regained the lead, 38-33. But they might have scored too soon, leaving the Patriots with a timeout and the two-minute warning still in their pocket.

He’s third all-time in passing yards with 70,445 and passing touchdowns with 488. By the end of next year, the future Hall of Famer will likely be the all-time leader in yards and on the doorstep of the touchdown record.

Brees is also set to become a free agent in March. There isn’t much reason to think the Saints won’t get a deal done, and it will likely be pricy. But it probably won’t touch the total Garoppolo just got because Brees just had a 39th birthday in January.

The game also featured the fewest punts in a game with just ONE. So many times during the NFL season it seemed like there were games that were nothing but punts. It was a nice treat to have just one in the biggest game of the season.

The game featured plenty of great plays, and it’s no surprise that it ended up breaking a few records. We knew early on that we were in for a good one, and the Eagles and Patriots gave us a Super Bowl to remember.

Minnesota Vikings

Wacha has been a consistently good-but-not-great fantasy starter for years now.

Tanaka’s ERA (4.74) and WHIP (1.24) left a lot to be desired, and then there was that silly narrative about being a night-game pitcher, as he had a 6.99 ERA in his 10 starts in day games. That was flat-out hogwash, as he had a 3.02 career ERA during the day entering 2017, and a closer look at his numbers instead suggested he merely struggled with the command of his splitter for a period of time in the season’s early-to-middle stages. Tanaka also set career highs with a 15.9 percent swinging-strike rate and 64.5 percent first-pitch strike rate, and keep in mind that he had a 3.18 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 28.7 percent strikeout rate and .125 well-hit average allowed in 15 second-half starts (playoffs included).

Since Tanaka appeared to recapture the feel for his go-to out pitch, the splitter, late last season, better luck alone would do the trick. His .307 BABIP, 71.5 left-on-base percentage and 14.2 percent home run/fly ball rate were all career worsts.

This is perhaps best evidenced by his being one of only 23 pitchers to have managed a sub-4.00 FIP while pitching at least 100 innings in each of the past four seasons. But from that group, only he and Bartolo Colon have never finished among the top 20 starting pitchers on the Player Rater.

An improved pitch to use against right-handed hitters, who have .283/.333/.477 career slash rates against him, would help him even more than better luck in the health department. Anderson’s changeup has been a work in progress and might be the key to his taking another step forward.

Here’s a list of players to appear on the Blackhawks’ defense this season: Jan Rutta, Erik Gustafsson, Gustav Forsling, Jordan Oesterle, Cody Franson, Carl Dahlstrom, and Michal Kempny. If the point of sorting through all of those places was to try to find a stable, functional defense, then Joel Quenneville remains on the search.

With the decline of Keith and Seabrook on the back end, Chicago needed some of these players to step up. They’ve tried, too, whether it’s Oesterle’s extended foray on the top line or the month where Forsling-Rutta was aggressively used as a shutdown pairing. But each lineup play has come with problems, and now it’s too late in the season to feel like this will get solved.

Minnesota Vikings

Steelers teammates and coaches have admired Shazier’s determination and positive outlook since the injury.

General manager Kevin Colbert said last week that Shazier is in the team facility five days a week working out and breaking down film with scouts.

Never once has he said, ‘Why me?’ Colbert said.

Earlier this month, Shazier stood in front of the PPG Paints Arena crowd during a Pittsburgh Penguins game — I felt everybody needed to see that, he said — and also posted a picture of himself standing with Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

That was before his velocity took off on him, packing one of those sticks with a bandana around it, its absence felt in the first season of its departure in 2012. It was the first season since his debut that his ERA was above four and his innings fell below 200, and they never turned back.

But this offseason, he emerged from the ashes as a really jacked phoenix. I’m sure you remember the tweet. He might not be The Freak again, but maybe The Freak Who Settled Down in The Suburbs With a Wife and Kids. According to the reports out of his Feb. 15 showcase, he seems on track to do so. While he didn’t find his peak velocity, he wasn’t in the 88 MPH range like he was in 2015. In fact, he was tracked at 90-93 MPH.

It’s kind of a foregone thing when you’re there, to a certain point. Everyone ends up leaving, whether it’s time or dollars, Odorizzi said Monday afternoon after putting on his Twins uniform for the first time. I’m out, so I’m happy to go to be here to be on a contending team.

The Twins, meanwhile, have added about $21 million to the 2018 payroll, with Odorizzi enhancing the rotation and free agents Fernando Rodney, Addison Reed and Zach Duke boosting the bullpen. They’re also paying Michael Pineda $2 million while he rehabilitates from Tommy John surgery for the chance to add him to the rotation in 2019, and they have an agreement in place with reclamation project Anibal Sanchez for another $2.5 million this year, pending a passed physical exam.

Ameer Abdullah’s time in that drill was 6.79 seconds, and he was also a top performer in the 20-yard shuttle. Amari Cooper posted a 6.71 and excelled in the 40, while Michael Thomas ran it in 6.8 seconds and did well in the vertical jump and bench press, too. Never mind the fact that I can find zero evidence that any of these three have ever skied. They have the agility and overall athleticism to be solid additions to Team USA.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

There haven’t been any mega-trades during the run-up to this NFL draft.

That’s a big change from a year ago, when the draft buildup included the Los Angeles Rams obtaining the No. 1 overall pick from the Tennessee Titans to use it on Jared Goff, then the Philadelphia Eagles acquired the second choice from the Cleveland Browns to land Carson Wentz.

The Titans have the draft’s fifth and 18th overall selections. The No. 5 choice could be attractive to a quarterback-needy team looking to move ahead of the New York Jets, who have the sixth pick, to take either North Carolina’s Mitchell Trubisky or Clemson’s Deshaun Watson.

The Browns have the first and 12th picks and seem likely to go with Texas A&M pass rusher Myles Garrett at No. 1, despite speculation that they haven’t ruled out going with Trubisky. Assuming the Browns pick Garrett first, could they also trade up to land Trubisky?

Black Monday often strikes quickly and with little nuance. In other cases these situations can get seriously dragged out. It appears as if the Bengals will be running a marathon, not a sprint.

Personally I’m a big proponent of John Dorsey and his ability to find talent in the draft. Handing him four picks in the top 40 of this upcoming draft, including the No. 1 overall pick and the No. 4 overall pick, should produce a lot of premium talent. At the very least you’re going to see a lot of “Browns win the draft again” stories this offseason (which is perhaps not that different from other offseasons, and we know how that has worked out). But if you’re a Browns fan, you cannot be happy about what happened over the last 48 hours.

In its protocol, the NFL urges caution. Listed under additional best practices: “It is important to recognize players may be able to equal or exceed their performance under the Sideline Concussion Assessment compared to their baseline level yet still have a concussion, underscoring the importance of the physicians’ knowledge of the player. If there is any doubt about the presence of a concussion, regardless of the Sideline Concussion Assessment results, the player is to be removed from practice or play.”

Remember Tony Romo rebreaking his collarbone? The Packers should avoid that scenario with Rodgers. The season is done, made official by the Falcons’ win Monday night. Rodgers should be shut down.

Minnesota Vikings

The Packers will know very quickly this season how they match up against the NFC’s other top contenders.

NFL players took to the field Sunday, less than 24 hours after President Trump’s latest tweets urged them to stand for the national anthem and while many chose to make a statement of some sort — kneeling, raising a fist, locking arms — for the most part the league began to return to a semblance of normalcy through the conclusion of its 1 p.m. EDT games .?.?. with “normal” defined as a collection of stunning results and surprising upsets.

They beat the Seahawks on Sunday. They play in Atlanta this weekend and at Dallas on Oct. 8.

RB Ezekiel Elliott is in the lineup, perhaps all season, thanks to the injunction granted by a federal judge in Texas that keeps his six-game suspension on hold. With Elliott, the Cowboys are back to being the equal of anyone in the NFC. Elliott and QB Dak Prescott played well in the victory Sunday night over the Giants, and the performance of the remade defense was a pleasant surprise.

“There will be a point,” that person said, “where he says, ‘Let’s wrap this up.’… I think it’s a bluff by Jerry to get a better deal [with Goodell] for the owners. But now he’s hardened all the other owners. They don’t like self-generated controversy. They don’t like to be pushed around. And they particularly don’t like to be pushed around in public.”

Chris Herring, FiveThirtyEight: Fiction. Short of the Cavs using that Nets pick — something they seem unlikely to do, given the lack of clarity surrounding LeBron’s free-agency options — it’s hard to see how they earn another title. He could win MVP again, but one would think that window begins to close in another year or two as well, given what Giannis Antetokounmpo and Anthony Davis are showing.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

That leaves the Baltimore Ravens as the only true bubble team in the conference.

The silver lining for the Jets, who some thought wouldn’t win a game this year, is that their offense isn’t the worst in the NFL. But it still isn’t playoff-caliber, scoring 1.6 points per drive (22nd) and being forced to go three-and-out 43 percent of the time. Only the Colts and Titans are worse in this regard.

The Ravens lost, 23-20, to the Titans on Sunday, yet are projected to win eight games by the end of the regular season, one or two wins shy of qualifying for a wild-card spot. If they do make an end-of-season push, look for it to come late — they face the Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts and Cincinnati Bengals during the last three weeks of the season.

The Los Angeles Rams — this year’s surprise team — will likely earn a playoff berth, their first since 2004, alongside the Eagles, New Orleans Saints and Minnesota Vikings as the NFC’s division winners. The Carolina Panthers and Dallas Cowboys look poised to be the two wild-card teams.

The Jaguars, even acknowledging Bortles, are a more dangerous threat to New England. There is no reliable blueprint to beat Tom Brady, but the best bet is to pressure him with a sudden rush up the middle and lock down receivers on the outside. It’s what Miami did in a Week 14 upset. The Jaguars play like Miami, just with better personnel.

If you were one of the contenders in the NFC that didn’t make a move at the deadline, you fell behind. The 7-1 Eagles and the 5-2 Seahawks got objectively better while the 6-2 Vikings, 5-2 Saints and 5-2 Rams rested on their laurels. There is no shame in not making a deal, but it’s no fun seeing your competition acquire plug-and-play talent.

The 4-6 Chargers lost wide receiver Mike Williams, who was carted off with a knee injury and the 5-5 Cowboys, already without suspended running back Ezekiel Elliott, lost right guard Zack Martin to a head injury. He was ruled out for the second half and replaced by Joe Looney.

Much of the Cowboys’ success last season was because of its offensive line, but the unit has not been able to repeat its dominance this year. All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith missed two games with a groin strain, and now that he has returned to the lineup, Martin goes out. As of the end of the third quarter Thursday, the Cowboys had yet to score, making it 10 straight quarters without a touchdown.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Holiday’s first two free throws looked perfect. His last, for the win, rattled out.

“It wasn’t meant to happen,” Holiday said. “I had the opportunity. I don’t miss free throws. Obviously after the game we can talk about things we did wrong, but when we get an opportunity like that, that’s what is on my mind right now.”

Officials in some teams’ front offices were unhappy with the league office’s approach to dealing with the crisis brought on by Trump’s comments. They believed that the league should not have responded so publicly and directly. The controversy, in their view, would not have been as intense.

Jones, who took issue with the league’s handling of the investigation that led to the six-game suspension of Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott under the personal conduct policy, said at the December owners’ meeting that he would continue to press for changes. He was not specific. But there was speculation at the time that those changes could include an attempt by Jones and perhaps other owners to force an overhaul of the league office.

“As with any organization of any type whether it be business, social or otherwise, you have to evolve and you have to make changes,” Jones said then. “And frankly, that is what this has been about. Now, if you saw anything happening, did I cause them to be made? You can’t one person do it in the National Football League. It takes 32 owners to make the changes. And so anything that was done differently about this contract was done by all 32 owners.”

If Brady and Foles don’t play well, they should at least avoid playing like these guys did.

Smith-Schuster apologized for the hit after the game and said he didn’t realize he was targeting Burfict.

“I didn’t know it was Burfict at first. All I saw was the first Bengal was going to tackle .?.?. and my instinct is I gotta block for my teammate,” Smith-Schuster said. “And me just playing ball, I hit him. After I seen the replay I think I should’ve held back a little bit more from blocking him. Also, I believe that that’s not me. I should’ve never stood over him. I apologize for that and with that being said, I hope he gets better.”

While ESPN’s announcing team decried Smith-Schuster’s actions, particularly in light of Shazier’s injury, the reaction was more mixed online because of Burfict’s history with the Steelers. Most notoriously, the linebacker had knocked out Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown with what many thought was an especially egregious hit in the 2016 playoffs, earning a three-game suspension.