International players added to four practice squads

Four NFC South teams are adding some international flavor to their rosters.

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The NFL announced Thursday, the four teams — Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers — will each carry an additional overseas player on their practice squads during the 2017 season as part of a new International Player Pathway program.

The NFC South teams are granted an exemption for an 11th practice squad member to accommodate the program. These players cannot be activated during the season.

The league said it chose the division to receive the international players in a random.

The players include three players from the United Kingdom and one from Germany:

Atlanta Falcons: Alex Gray jersey, tight end, a former England Sevens star rugby player. He is the first English rugby union pro to quit to take up American football.

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Carolina Panthers: Efe Obada, defensive end, raised in London after moving from the Netherlands at age 10, was signed by the Dallas Cowboys in 2015 but never made it off a practice squad.

New Orleans Saints: Alex Jenkins, defensive end, from the U.K. and played college football at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Eric Nzeocha, linebacker, from Germany, played three years at the University of Wyoming.

The quartet has been training for the past three months in Florida under the tutelage of Osi Umenyiora and NFLUK head of football development Aden Durde.

The Tampa Bay Police report Martin’s BMW was hit Thursday afternoon by a car that ran a stop sign. During the crash, Martin’s vehicle was pushed off the road before it collided with an air-conditioning unit outside a local business.

Martin sustained minor cuts and bruises as a result of the crash, according to the police. Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times reported Martin is “fine” after the accident, but needed stitches for a cut on his chin.

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Martin later confirmed on Twitter he was fine.

“Doug was the unfortunate victim in an auto accident earlier today after leaving our team facility,” Bucs general manager Jason Licht said in a statement. “While Doug’s vehicle sustained a large amount of damage, we are pleased to report that he received only minor cuts and bruises. He has been evaluated by our medical staff and has headed home.”

Nike Buccaneers #40 Mike Alstott Black Men's Stitched NFL Limited Gold Salute To Service JerseyThe driver of the other car was cited for committing a stop sign violation before hitting Martin’s vehicle.

Martin, who is taking part in the Bucs’ offseason program, was suspended at the end of the 2016 season violating the NFL’s drug policy. He still has three games to serve on the four-game ban.

The suspension voided the guaranteed money in Martin’s contract, which could allow the Bucs to jettison the running back without penalty.

“I mean, how old is he?” Bucs wideout Adam Humphries told Pewter Report. “He runs so smooth, take the ball he caught [deep ball over Vernon Hargreaves last week], he makes it look so easy. It is a blessing what he has, the way he runs. It is just fun to watch.”

According to Next Gen Stats, Jackson’s top-end speed actually improved last year, as did his average yards per reception — a stunning 17.9 on 56 catches.

He is exactly the type of boom-or-bust player that can set a team’s offseason hype train on a runaway course — and alongside O.J. Howard and Mike Evans, Jackson has done just that.

Jackson will be turning heads in practice all summer, but it will be quarterback Jameis Winston’s ability to use him in practical moments that will actually cement the hype.

As a Bucs fan, this summer will be a steadily increasing tease. Between nuggets like this from Humphries, the inevitable Hard Knocks bump and the steady stream of positive vibes coming from coach Dirk Koetter, Tampa Bay is becoming harder and harder to ignore within the NFC South. Jackson will either define their rise or their disappointment in 2017.

Bruins Recall Kuraly on Emergency Basis

Boston Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney announced today, April 1, that the team has recalled forward Sean Kuraly from the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League (AHL) on an emergency basis. Kuraly will be available for Sunday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks.

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Kuraly, who is in his first full professional season with the Bruins organization in 2016-17, has skated in five games with Boston this year, making his NHL debut on November 3, 2016 vs the Tampa Bay Lightning. The 24-year-old forward has also appeared in 54 games with Providence, producing 14 goals and 12 assists for 26 points with 37 penalty minutes and a plus-10 rating.

Kuraly served as captain at Miami University (Ohio) in 2015-16, posting six goals and 17 assists for 23 points in 36 games. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound forward recorded a career high in goals and tied a career high in points during the 2014-15 season with the RedHawks, scoring 19 goals and adding 10 assists for 29 points in 40 games. Over his four-year collegiate career, Kuraly skated in 154 games, producing 43 goals and 50 assists for 93 points with cheap chinese nhl jerseys and 177 penalty minutes.

Krug was injured in the first period of a 2-1 shootout loss to the Ottawa Senators on Thursday. He was seen leaving TD Garden on crutches, according to NBCSN, and did not practice Friday.

“He’ll be out [Saturday], that much we know, and then from there, day to day,” Cassidy said.

The Bruins (44-30-7) end the regular season with a home game against the Washington Capitals (3 p.m. ET; NBC, NHL.TV). Boston’s opponent in the Eastern Conference First Round has not been determined. The playoffs begin April 12.

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Krug has 51 points (eight goals, 43 assists), his NHL career high by seven.

“Well, we’re not going to be able to replace what he does,” Cassidy said. “He’s a special talent — power play, first pass, breakout, neutral-zone transition, all of those things — so the onus will be on us to make sure we make the necessary reads in our chicago bulls jersey cheap breakout.”

Krug is second on the Bruins in ice time per game (21:36), behind defenseman Zdeno Chara (23:15), and leads Boston with 25 power-play points.

“Losing a guy like Torey’s never easy,” Chara said. “And he’s obviously been a big part of our team’s specialty teams, and obviously we don’t know the status of the injury, but hopefully he’s going to be back and on the ice soon.”

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Bruins #33 Zdeno Chara Green Salute to Service Stitched NHL JerseyGrzelcyk served as Captain of the Boston University Terriers for the second straight season in 2015-16, finishing the year with 10 goals and 13 assists for 23 points with 36 penalty minutes and a plus-17 rating in 27 games. The 23-year-old defenseman was also named a Hockey East First-Team All-Star for the second consecutive season. In 2014-15, Grzelcyk skated in 41 games, recording 10 goals and 28 assists for 38 points with 36 penalty minutes and a plus-32 rating. In addition to serving as captain and being named a Hockey East First-Team All-Star, he earned CCM First-Team All-American honors and was fourth in the nation in points per game among defenseman (0.95). Over his jerseys cheap and four-year collegiate career, the 5-foot-10, 175-pound blueliner appeared in 124 jerseys wholesale games for Boston University, tallying 26 goals and 68 assists for 94 points.

Grzelcyk represented the United States in international play on three separate occasions. At the Under-20 World Junior Championships in 2014, he served as an assistant captain and posted two goals and four assists for six points in five games. Grzelcyk also skated in six games and tallied one assist at the Under-18 World Junior Championships in 2012. At the Under-17 World Hockey Championships in 2011, he appeared in five games and scored one goal and added five assists for six points.

The Charlestown, Massachusetts native was selected by the Bruins in the third round (85th overall) of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

Mike Glennon getting new deal with Chicago Bears due to cheap jerseys

The marriage between Mike Glennon and the Chicago Bears has been sealed.

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The former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback officially joined the Bears on a three-year deal Friday, the team announced. His contract includes $18.5 million in guarantees, sources informed of the deal told NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport.

Rapoport reported he expects the Bears to still select a quarterback as well, making Glennon a bridge quarterback in an ideal world.

As a result of adding Glennon, the Bears have parted ways with Jay Cutler jersey.

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As we’ve said before, this is potentially a good deal for the Bears. They are not getting trapped into a lengthy contract and have the 23rd highest average per year money devoted to their starting quarterback. While Brian Hoyer devotees will suggest that he, or a similar veteran quarterback, could have been a cheaper option as a bridge starter, think of the extra money going to upside. Glennon is just 27 years old and has a season’s worth of starts under his belt already. In 18 career games, he has thrown for 4,100 yards, 30 touchdowns and 15 picks at a 60 percent clip.

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This contract has been subject to much speculation and hysteria this offseason, but the truth is that $14.5 million is what the market dictates. Former Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler is averaging $18 million per season on his four-year, $72 million deal under similar circumstances. Should the production on the field be similar, the Bears got off easy.

The Bears agreed to terms with former Titans wideout Kendall Wright jersey on a one-year, $4 million deal, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported. The team later confirmed it agreed with Wright and offensive lineman Tom Compton jersey. Wright was No. 59 on Around the NFL’s Top 101 free agents list.

Wright takes the roster spot of the recently-departed All-Pro receiver Alshon Jeffery. Entering his sixth season since being drafted in the first round by Tennessee, Wright will get a fresh start on a “prove-it” deal in Chicago, alongside unproven options in Kevin White and Cameron Meredith.

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Nike Bears #10 Mitchell Trubisky Navy Blue Team Color Men's Stitched NFL Elite JerseyWright said in January that he was ready to be “free” of the Titans, with whom he saw his role gradually diminish following a breakout 2013 campaign. Fond of freelancing as a top target in Tennessee, it’s unclear what role Wright will play with cheap jerseys of the Bears, but with the roster as thin as it is, there’s room for upward mobility on the depth chart.

The move has been expected for months. With Chicago set to pay free-agent quarterback Mike Glennon $45 million over three years, with $18.5 million guaranteed, Cutler’s release became a formality.

The Bears signed Cutler to a big seven-year contract in 2014. With no guaranteed money left on the deal, Chicago saves $12.28 million on the salary cap, with just $2 million in dead money, by releasing the QB.

Cutler spent eight seasons in the Windy City after being drafted in the first round by the Denver Broncos in 2006. He played just five games in 2016 due to injury.

The strong-armed quarterback has long been a darling of scouts, but his penchant for back-breaking turnovers and taking costly sacks irked Chicago fans for years. Viewed as a coach-killer by many, Cutler went through a handful of offensive coordinators during his time in Chicago.

At 33 years old, Cutler should find a landing spot in a market in need of signal-callers. The QB-needy New York Jets have been linked as a possible destination for an experienced stop-gap like Cutler to land.

Not so golden Warriors: Steph Curry slumping, team skidding

Stephen Curry screamed, turned and kicked the nearby wall, disgusted by another missed jumper. It was just practice and most of his other shots went in, so there was little reason for concern.

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But if he keeps misfiring in games and the Golden State Warriors keep losing them, there might be.

With Curry in a rare shooting slump and the Warriors on an even rarer losing streak, the NBA leaders are facing adversity – at least by their standards – as they visit the New York Knicks on Sunday.

Curry is 4 for 31 from 3-point range through three games of the Warriors’ road trip, with most of the last two games coming after Kevin Durant jersey was injured. The Warriors found a way to win the opener in Philadelphia – when Curry missed all 11 attempts behind the arc – but they then dropped games in Washington and Chicago to end their NBA-record streak of regular-season games without consecutive losses at 146.

“We haven’t lost two in row in a long time obviously and we’ve been in a rut on this trip in general,” coach Steve Kerr said after practice Saturday at a court in the Manhattan building where the players’ union is headquartered. “We’re not making shots, but we’re also well aware that this is just a blip on the radar screen. We’ll be fine and I’m not concerned at all. We just have to play better with jerseys cheap.”

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Klay Thompson is also struggling, and the Splash Brothers really dried up Thursday, going a combined 3 for 22 on 3-pointers in a 94-87 loss in Chicago. But the Warriors don’t seem stressed and don’t think defenses are crowding the guards more than normal without having to worry about Durant.

“We’ve had plenty of openings and creating decent shots, just haven’t gone in in the last three games,” Curry said. “But that happens as you go through a long season, you just have to fight through it and not let it affect how you play. Obviously if we make a couple more shots in Chicago the game’s a little different. Philly it was a struggle but we found a way to win, so just got to stay on the mission of letting the offense create good things for us and still have confidence to knock down shots.”

The Warriors were held to their lowest point total of the season Thursday. Curry and Thompson were a combined 15 of 49 from the field. Those are performances Golden State can’t afford without Durant, its leading scorer who is lost for at least four weeks with a knee injury.

“It happens to the best of them, so you just move on,” All-Star Draymond Green said. “You try to make plays, get them the ball and get them open shots, knowing that more often than not they’ll fall. But everybody has shooting struggles. Michael Jordan had shooting struggles and the list goes on.”

Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry says reserve guard Jarrett Jack, who only recently made his return to the NBA following reconstructive right knee surgery, now has a torn meniscus in the same knee and is expected to be sidelined four-to-six weeks.

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Jack had played in only two games since signing a 10-day contract last week, averaging three points and 2.5 assists in 15.6 minutes per game. Jack was one of three guards signed as free agents since the All-Star break, when New Orleans traded away three backcourt players in order to acquire All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins.

Meanwhile, San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich says starting guard Tony Parker jersey is ready to play in Friday night’s game at New Orleans after missing the Spurs previous game with a quad contusion.

Spurs #20 Manu Ginobili Black Electricity Fashion Finals Patch Stitched NBA Jersey“You hear people talking about 4-point shots, something that’s not about to happen in the NBA, but maybe in an All-Star Game,” Silver said. “Maybe there’s a few spots on the floor where it’s a 4-point shot. Maybe there’s a halfcourt shot in the last minute that’s 10 points. I don’t know about China jerseys. Those are crazy ideas.”

New Orleans’ Anthony Davis scored an All-Star record 52 points in this year’s game, 10 points more than the mark by Wilt Chamberlain that stood for 55 years. The West has flirted with 200 points in each of the last two seasons – 196 in 2016, 192 this year. Giannis Antetokounmpo had 12 dunks by himself, and LeBron James jersey was taking (and once, made) shots from the midcourt area.

“We collectively want to try to make All-Star weekend better for the fans,” Paul told reporters in Milwaukee on Friday. “All the way around. Even in CBA talks and stuff like that, that was one of the things that the players, the owners and everybody was talking about. Trying to fix that, spice it up a little bit to keep it interesting.”

Bucks coach Jason Kidd, a perennial All-Star as a player, is confident the league will find the right fix and wholesale jerseys.

“Adam’s a very smart man,” Kidd said, “and they’ll figure it out.”

For this year’s game, the voting process was changed – fan votes were no longer the sole basis for selecting starters, but instead part of a formula that also took player and media balloting into account. The player-voting element in particular was criticized by some NBA coaches like Golden State’s Steve Kerr jersey, who said it wasn’t taken as seriously as it should have been.

“In an All-Star game like this, guys aren’t trying to get hurt,” Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving said after the All-Star Game. “We all enjoy the company of each other’s presence. But at the same token, us as competitors, when it starts getting close, you can feel it. For me, I would love to play in a competitive game.”

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And the Husker offense was considerably much better than Kansas’. In other Bengals news the team signed rookie CB Chris Lewis-Harris from the practice squad and placed K Mike Nugent on the Reserve/Injured database. If you missed it, have a quick before or after reading brief article.

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Maple Leafs fail to clinch playoff berth again

The Toronto Maple Leafs failed to clinch a Stanley Cup Playoff berth when they lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning, who remained in contention with a 4-1 at Air Canada Centre on Thursday.

“We made it way harder than it should be, we didn’t play like we normally do,” Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said. “I thought we were slow; I don’t know if we were tight but we weren’t in sync. They won all the battles and all the races and we never established the game we normally play.”

Toronto (39-26-15) would have qualified for the playoffs and eliminated Tampa Bay and the New York Islanders with a win. It leads them by three points for the second wild card from the Eastern Conference. New York defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 3-0.

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Toronto fell three points behind the Ottawa Senators and two behind the Boston Bruins in the race for second place in the Atlantic Division. Ottawa defeated Boston 2-1 in a shootout and clinched a playoff berth.

Brayden Point scored twice, and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 26 saves for the Lightning (40-30-10), who have two games remaining.

“We had to win it, we knew that,” Point said. “I thought we worked hard, I thought we spent a lot of time in their end pressuring them. We did a good job defending as well. We had to win it and I think we played with jerseys cheap like it.”

Point gave Tampa Bay a 1-0 lead at 7:34 of the second period on a power play. He took a pass from Ondrej Palat, who was behind the goal line, and beat Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen with a wrist shot from the slot.

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But Garrison could return to the Lightning lineup as early as tonight when Tampa Bay hosts the Dallas Stars in a critical game to the Bolts’ playoff chances.

Lightning #26 Martin St. Louis White CCM Throwback Stitched NHL JerseyGarrison was one of a handful of Lightning players to take part in an optional morning skate at AMALIE Arena Sunday coming off a 2-1 overtime loss to Montreal Saturday night. Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper indicated Garrison had a positive skate, and his availability against the Stars will be a game-time decision.

“Guys are getting closer,” Cooper said. “Garrison looked really good in his morning skate, so we’re hoping he’ll be available.”

Garrison has recorded one goal and eight assists in 69 games this season for jerseys wholesale of the Bolts.

Tyler Johnson is also progressing according to Cooper and was another Lightning player to take part in Sunday’s skate. His status for tonight’s game is a bit more in doubt than Garrison’s, but Cooper said there’s a chance the Bolts centerman could play versus Dallas.

“Johnson, he’s another one that’s kind of up in the air,” Cooper said. “So, we’ll try to get a better indication of both Garrison and Johnson tonight.”

Johnson ranks third on the Lightning for goals (19) and fifth for scoring (44 points). He’s been forced to sit out the last 11 games with a lower-body injury.

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Froese, 25, has appeared in two games with the Maple Leafs this season, posting two shots on goal. The 6-foot, 205-pound forward has skated in 58 career NHL games, all with Toronto over the past two seasons, collecting two goals and five points. He made his NHL debut against the Montreal Canadiens on October 24, 2015. Froese scored his first career NHL goal on December 19 against the Los Angeles Kings.

The Winkler, Manitoba native has also played in two games with Syracuse since being acquired by Tampa Bay from the Toronto Maple Leafs on February 27, 2017. With the Crunch he has recorded two goals and three points on six shots on goal. Froese skated in 48 games with the Marlies this season before the trade, posting 24 goals and 39 points to go along with 18 penalty minutes. At the time, Froese paced the Marlies for both goals and points. He’s appeared in 197 career AHL games, registering 51 goals and 104 points to go along with 83 penalty minutes.

Froese was originally drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in the fourth round, 119th overall, at the 2009 NHL Draft.

Chargers beat out Vikings to land Russell Okung

Russell Okung is staying in the AFC West.

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Two weeks after the Broncos declined Okung’s 2017 option, the veteran left tackle signed with the Chargers on a four-year contract, the team confirmed Friday. Okung’s deal is worth $53 million with $13.25 million in guarantees, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported, via a source informed of the deal.

The Bolts edged out the Vikings, who were also courting Okung to join freshlysigned Riley Reiff.

Okung took advantage of a weak tackle market to revive his value after a disappointing one-year Broncos stint that featured too many penalties and QB pressures. The 2010 first-round pick has started 88 of a possible 112 games in Seattle and Denver over seven NFL seasons.

Ranked No. 46 on Around The NFL’s list of the Top 100 free agents, Okung figures to take over at left tackle in Los Angeles, kicking King Dunlap to the right side as D.J. Fluker’s replacement.

“We’re very happy with Philip Rivers, and I think he’s got a number of good years left in him,” Telesco said on NFL Network’s Up To The Minute on Thursday. “We can win with Philip, and we’re happy with him. But since I’ve arrived here, we’ve always done a lot of work on the quarterbacks. You just have to.”

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He added: “Even though we have our franchise quarterback, we always have to be looking toward the future. It’s work we’ve done every year. We’ll do work on all the quarterbacks. You never say never. You just never know in this business. You have to be prepared in this business, whether you’re picking at No. 7 or if we trade back, it’s just hard to tell right now. We will scout every position like we don’t have someone there, and we’ll make determinations draft day on what we end up doing. But right now we’re very happy with Philip. He’s the leader of this football team, and we feel like we can win with him.”

With so many varied opinions on this year’s quarterback class, it wouldn’t be a bad year for a surprise developmental pick. The Cardinals also have hinted that it might be time to find someone to supplant Carson Palmer.

Of course, this would be a difficult proposition to saddle new head coach Anthony Lynn with. Not only is the team moving to Los Angeles and settling into temporary facilities, but they’re installing a new culture and a new defense. Dealing with a future face-of-the-franchise quarterback might be too much of a load to bear.

More than ever, this is a passing league. And Philip Rivers returned to form as a great passer last season. I could site stats and tell you he finished fifth in passing yards. I could tell you he only threw 11 picks against 32 touchdown passes. I could tell you he posted the best completion percentage in the NFL. These are all facts.

Or I can simply say what I felt while watching Chargers games last season: Rivers was a top-five NFL quarterback bar none. He was fantastic in 2013, and thus, San Diego bounced back.

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McCoy, an offensive guru, deserves so much credit for Rivers’ rebirth. Last season was a far cry from the quarterback’s 2012 (22 turnovers) and 2011 (20 interceptions) campaigns. Rivers took to the coaching of McCoy and offensive coordinator (now Tennessee Titans head coach) Ken Whisenhunt. No. 17 stopped pressing and started producing again. And it didn’t hurt having an improved supporting cast — a group that looks even stronger going forward.

Nike Chargers #19 Lance Alworth White Men's Stitched NFL New Elite JerseyKeenan Allen enjoyed a monster rookie season at receiver, hauling in 71 catches for 1,046 yards and eight touchdowns. And here’s a scary thought for the rest of the AFC West: He’s only going to get better. Malcom Floyd, meanwhile, missed almost the entire season with a neck injury. But just this week, he was cleared for contact and participated in organized team activities. That’s a huge deal. Team him with Allen, Antonio Gates, Eddie Royal and Vincent Brown in a passing attack directed by Rivers? That’s strong. Plus, don’t forget about Danny Woodhead (76 catches, six receiving scores) out of the backfield. Speaking of the backfield … Ryan Mathews shed his bust label with a 1,255-yard campaign. And free-agent signee Donald Brown provides enviable depth at the position. Lastly, the Chargers’ offensive line is not the problem it has been in the past; there is cohesiveness from one year to the next, with all five starters coming back after performing well in 2013.

The offense was strong last year — ranking fifth in total yards — and Rivers was dominant. Still, the stage is set for improvement in 2014. And the same should be said for John Pagano’s defense.

Quietly, San Diego had a splendid draft, boosting the defense (which ranked 23rd last season) with the first two picks. The Chargers needed a cornerback, and drafted TCU’s Jason Verrett with the 25th overall pick. Then they stole playmaking linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu in Round 2. Both of those guys will provide immediate help. Of course, this defense wasn’t in dire straits last season, as evidenced by the unit ranking a respectable 11th in scoring D. There’s talent on this side of the ball. Kendall Reyes and Corey Liuget are strong, young ends. Manti Te’o had a solid, drama-free rookie season and will continue to improve. Pro Bowl safety Eric Weddle is a playmaking veteran, the centerpiece that makes this defense tick. And don’t forget about the healthy returns of Melvin Ingram and Dwight Freeney, who logged just four games apiece last year. This is gigantic for the defense — specifically, the pass rush — and cannot be understated.

Maybe Chargers fans are still numb from repeatedly being “Norved,” accustomed to underachievement and disappointment. Maybe Chargers fans aren’t used to silence — rather, more accustomed to A.J. Smith’s cantankerous and counterproductive ways.

The regime has changed. The approach has changed. The entire feel has changed.

Enjoy the silence while it lasts, because the Chargers, behind their star quarterback and a rapidly improving supporting cast, are poised to make more playoff noise. These Bolts are ready to prove they are more than just lucky, more than just that other team on the winning side of another Andy Dalton meltdown.

With injury to Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors’ aura of invincibility gone

Well, that was quick. The Warriors’ season went from “can they win 70 games?” to “will they stay No. 1 in the West?” faster than LeBron James chased down that Andre Iguodala layup.

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As you might imagine, these are somewhat fearful times with the Dubs, given the Kevin Durant injury situation, and as such, projections of dominance are being nervously appealed. The aura of invincibility is gone, if only temporarily, and suddenly we have suspense near the top of the Western Conference.

The five-alarm fire was sounded recently when the Warriors lost two straight games — oh, the horrors — for the first time in what seemed like decades. Nevermind that the Warriors still employ a rare NBA Big Three, and that Iguodala looked downright frisky Monday night in Atlanta by reminding folks he was once Finals MVP, and that coach Steve Kerr still pushes all the right buttons.

With Durant fretting over an MCL sprain and bone bruise that could cost him a few more weeks, vulnerability has been sensed and a clear highway to another conference title isn’t so automatic for the team that has ruled the West two years straight but hasn’t frightened anyone lately.

Yet, should that be the big concern here for Golden State? Should Kerr and company sweat the shadow of the San Antono Spurs, who are quietly pitter-pattering on the Warriors’ heels? Or even the Houston Rockets, the only team in the league who can match Golden State’s gunpowder? How much does best record in the regular season mean anyway, other than hosting a Game 7 if a playoff series comes down to that?

Well. What happens between now and mid-April, when the season ends, is one thing. What happens once Durant returns — assuming he does return — is another.

Budenholzer was tight-lipped, calling it a “coaching decision.”

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“We need to learn to play together and stay together for 48 minutes,” he said. “That’s something that’s very important to us.”

Schroder has run into other problems in his first year as a Hawks starter. After the All-Star break, he was late reporting back to the team and served a one-game suspension . Then, the very next night, he was late for the team bus and came off the bench for a game at Orlando.

Now, it looks as if he is headed for a summit with Budenholzer and Howard.

“We’ve got to figure it out, me and coach,” Schroder said. “I want to talk about it. Dwight’s got to be in there, too. Get on the same page. Then we’re going be all right.”

Warriors #35 Kevin Durant Black Fashion Stitched NBA JerseyHoward downplayed the incident and said he looks forward to smoothing things over with his teammate, but the whole affair raised more troubling questions about an eight-time All-Star center who joined Atlanta this season with a reputation for causing problems in the locker room.

“It happens during the course of the game,” he said. “It just cost us a 3. It’s something that we’ve got to make sure we nip it in the bud quick, and move on to the next play.”

Howard said disagreements are bound to pop up during the course of the season.

“Listen, we’re a team,” he said. “It’s OK if we have conversations. It’s not always conflict when you have a conversation with your coach or a team meeting. That’s what you’re supposed to do. So, by him wanting to have a meeting and talk, it’s great. It’s great for our team. It’s great for each other. We’re all open to it.”

Still, it wasn’t a good sign for a team that has struggled all season to find some consistency .

The Hawks, who were the top seed in the East just two seasons ago, are now three games out of a home-court edge in the first round of the playoffs. If they don’t turn things around soon, they could be facing a challenge from teams below them in the standings.

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The Spurs will be short-handed as well. Kawhi Leonard will miss the game after being entered in the NBA’s concussion protocol.

Kerr’s decision likely won’t sit well with fans, and maybe not the league. The topic of rest is a big one across the league, with fans clamoring to see star players and the league recently signing a $24 billion television contract that is built on showcasing the league’s biggest stars.

The Warriors contingent certainly qualifies there, but Kerr said the team has to prioritize health over a single game, even if it does come against a team that is just 1+ games behind them for the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference playoff race.

“I don’t know if it’s a statement,” Green said. “I think it’s for us to be better down the stretch. For us to get a little rest and get back in a groove. You’re more or less saying we don’t care if we win or lose this game tomorrow. I don’t think you lose a game to say screw the league. You do that for the better health of your team.”

Commissioner Adam Silver has said the league is very sensitive to players needing as much rest as possible to perform at their best and avoid injury. The league will start the regular season earlier next year so it can reduce the number of back-to-backs and stretches of four games in five nights that teams face.

But the Warriors are living in the moment right now, and this moment called for a breather.

“He’s done it before,” Curry said. “It’s obviously a different situation with San Antonio and whatnot, but we’ve had a tough schedule and he made that decision. Even if we tried to suit up tomorrow he’s not going to play us, so it is what it is.”

Seager feeling no pain in strained oblique

Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager returned to Minor League game action Tuesday and said he felt no discomfort from the strained oblique that has sidelined him since March 4.

On a back field, Seager went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts, but came away pleased nonetheless. He still believes he will be ready for Opening Day by getting extra at-bats in Minor League games over the next two weeks.

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“The results weren’t there, but it was positive,” said Seager. “Just to get over the mental hurdle, to be full-go. I’ve been throwing, but the swinging needed the game intensity. It’s hard to replicate that. It was nice to get jerseys for cheap into a game.”

After a team day off Wednesday, Seager said he plans to play in another Minor League game Thursday, this time also playing defense. The injury was believed to have happened when he made an off-balance throw to first base while completing a double play.

He said he hasn’t had any recurrence of the discomfort while throwing in drills, but hasn’t played at game speed, either.

“It could have happened on [the double play], it could have been irritated before and that was when I felt it, I’m not sure,” he said. “It was nice to go full-go and have nothing with MLB wholesale jerseys today.”

Teammate Scott Kazmir, working through major mechanical issues, pitched five innings of the Minor League game. He last pitched in a Cactus League game March 6.

“If I throw a bullpen tomorrow, they’ll probably tell me what the plan is,” Urias said. “I’m fighting for a spot in the rotation, and it seems this is the way they are managing me, and I have to respect that. You don’t know what’s going to happen. You hope everyone stays healthy, first and foremost, but you don’t know what’s going to happen.”

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The 20-year-old Urias’ innings have been limited by management, and now he’s coming off a bout with strep throat that was a further setback in his preparation.

Urias has pitched 5 2/3 Cactus League innings this spring. There are 14 Dodgers pitchers with more, including the five that figure to be in the rotation: Clayton Kershaw, Kenta Maeda, Rich Hill, Brandon McCarthy and Alex Wood.

Dodgers #31 Joc Pederson Grey New Cool Base Stitched MLB JerseyDodgers manager Dave Roberts said the door “hasn’t closed” on Urias being in the rotation to start the season, even though he mentioned the other five as being “lined up” with their next scheduled starts.

“It would be unrealistic to say he’ll start the season built up completely,” Roberts said. “The door’s not closed. To say he’s up to 100 pitches is not realistic. There’s a certain amount of innings that we’re trying to find a way to have those innings when it matters most. All the games matter, I get that, but we’re still navigating our way with MLB jerseys of Julio.”

Dodgers reliever Pedro Baez came out of the same workout as Ravin in good shape. Although time is running out in spring, Baez still could be ready by Opening Day. He said there is lingering discomfort in his right thumb, which sustained a deep bruise when struck by a comebacker during live batting practice Feb. 22.

Friday was the first time Baez has faced hitters since then, and he was able to use all of his pitches while pitching at a faster pace than his norm.

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Although Sergio Romo still hasn’t thrown off a mound since returning from the World Baseball Classic with a sore back, the club has indicated he will be ready for Opening Day and his slow return to the mound is precautionary.

The 34-year-old Romo signed as a free agent to replace setup man Joe Blanton, and he has pitched in only two early Cactus League games for the Dodgers. He pitched in two games for Team Mexico in the Classic (1 1/3 innings, three runs), after playing in the Mexican Winter League (nine games, 9 2/3 innings, one run).

Romo was the Giants’ primary closer in 2013-14, when he recorded a combined 61 saves. He pitched well in a setup role in 2015-16, compiling a 2.64 ERA last year when limited to 40 appearances because of a right forearm flexor strain.

Tony Romo to Broncos tops offseason fantasy wish list

The NFL offseason is about to get very interesting.

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From the start of free agency and the trade period (March 9) to the NFL Draft (April 27-29), we’re about to see a lot of players signed, released and drafted. That also means a whole lot of speculation on where some of the best free agents and rookies will land in the weeks and months to come. Far be it from me not to join in on the banter with a bunch of my own predictions and prognostications as they pertain to the wonderful world of fantasy football, so here are 20 potential scenarios that would benefit fantasy fans ahead of the 2017 NFL season.

Some of them are wishful thinking, some are just out of this world and highly unlikely to happen (but would be fun), and others might just actually come to fruition.

Phillips ended up coaching Ware for half of his 12 NFL seasons.

“Sometimes it’s a sad day when a player retires,” Phillips said Monday on Up to the Minute Live, “but it’s really kind of a happy day when you get to reflect on all the wonderful times you had together with him and all the great accomplishments that DeMarcus had in his career.”

Asked what separated Ware from other premier pass rushers, Phillips cited his “tremendous” talent level.

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Nike Broncos #72 Garett Bolles Orange Team Color Men's Stitched NFL New Elite Jersey“He had Hall of Fame ability, but he utilized it,” Phillips relayed. “The year he had 20.5 sacks, we still kid him about it … I think he missed the quarterback like five times. He almost set the record that year, he had a tremendous year. Every year he’s played, he’s been a difference-maker.”

When the two reunited with the Broncos, Ware captained the defense to the extent that Peyton Manning led the offense.

“Of course I was lucky enough to have him twice,” Phillips explained. “I know what he’s all about — his leadership and everybody talks about Peyton Manning, which is certainly true of being a great leader, but DeMarcus was a great leader on defense.

“I think if it wouldn’t have been for Von (Miller), he probably would have been the MVP of the Super Bowl. Plus, he’s a tremendous person. When I say leader, I’m talking about an example of doing all the right things the right way. In practice, in meetings, just all the time. You can’t put a value on that, but it was a certainly a difference in our team.”

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Butkus Award winner and former Crimson Tide LB Reuben Foster was in Philadelphia on Wednesday to visit the Eagles, according to NJ Advance Media, one of three Alabama defenders to do so this week alone. Meanwhile, the Denver Broncos are hosting one of the NFL draft’s top running backs in Oklahoma’s Joe Mixon on Thursday, per ESPN.

Foster is considered a first-round talent, and the Eagles’ top draft choice comes at No. 14 overall. Mock drafts from five NFL.com analysts suggested a wide range of possible landing points for Foster, as high as No. 9 overall and as low as No. 27 overall. He is the third prospect on Alabama’s stellar defense to visit the Eagles. CB Marlon Humphrey was set to visit the club earlier this week, as was LB Ryan Anderson.

The Broncos hold the No. 20 overall pick, but it’s unlikely they’ll need their first-round choice to acquire Mixon. He was barred from the NFL Scouting Combine under an NFL conduct policy, and a 2014 incident in which he punched a female OU student has made him undraftable for some clubs, according to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport. As such, despite being considered one of the draft’s top rushing talents, his draft status remains a blurry picture.

Mixon has already visited the Cincinnati Bengals.