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  • #76
    NFL notebook: Texans-Cowboys preseason game canceled
    August 30, 2017

    Thursday night's preseason game between the Houston Texans and Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium was canceled by the NFL on Wednesday to allow Texans players to return home to be reunited with their families after the catastrophic flooding in Houston.

    The decision comes days after the game was moved from Houston's NRG Stadium to the Cowboys' stadium Arlington because of the massive flooding in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

    The cancellation gives Texans players the opportunity to return to Houston sometime Wednesday.

    Texans general manager Rick Smith later said the Week 1 game on Sept. 10 against the Jacksonville Jaguars will be played as scheduled at NRG Stadium.

    Hurricane Harvey hit Texas hard with some areas of Houston getting a record-setting 51 inches of rain. At least 10,000 people have been rescued from their homes with the death toll climbing to at least 30.

    --Joe Haden capped a whirlwind day by signing a three-year, $27 million contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers, jumping from the AFC North cellar to the defending division champions in the span of a 9-to-5 day on the East Coast.

    Haden was released by the Cleveland Browns on Wednesday morning. But before the dinner hour arrived, Haden was signing with the Steelers, where he becomes the No. 1 cornerback on a defense that finished last season strong.

    --The five-game suspension that was levied against Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict has been reduced to three games, the NFL announced.

    Burfict's suspension resulted when he made an illegal hit against Kansas City Chiefs fullback Anthony Sherman in a preseason game earlier this month.

    James Thrash, a former NFL wide receiver, presided over the appeal.

    --Oakland Raiders wide receiver Seth Roberts signed a two-year contract extension through the 2019 season, the team announced.

    Financial terms were not disclosed by the team, although Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reported the deal -- which includes the 2017 season -- is worth $12 million with $6.45 million guaranteed.

    Roberts, who was due to become a restricted free agent after this season, set a career high with 38 receptions for 397 yards and five touchdowns in 2016.

    --Free-agent linebacker Ahmad Brooks has agreed to a one-year deal with the Green Bay Packers, Rapoport reported Wednesday.

    The deal for the 33-year-old Brooks could be worth up to $5 million, according to the report.

    Brooks was released last week by the San Francisco 49ers.

    --Offensive lineman Cam Erving was traded by the Browns to the Kansas City Chiefs for a fifth-round pick.

    The 19th overall pick in the 2015 draft, Erving has 17 career starts in 29 games and can play center, guard or tackle.

    Erving had been nursing a calf injury in training camp.

    --The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed injured quarterback Ryan Griffin to a one-year contract extension through the 2018 season.

    Terms of the deal were not released, but Griffin is expected to adjust his $1.798-million salary he was to earn in 2017 in exchange for returning for another season, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

    --Former NFL quarterback Johnny Manziel worked out last week for a Canadian Football League team.

    The Hamilton Tiger-Cats put Manziel through a series of workouts in Buffalo, N.Y., over two days but the organization decided there were "too many red flags" to sign him now, according to a report from TSN and confirmed by ESPN.

    --The Atlanta Falcons began the process of moving from 90 players to the 53-man roster, reaching an injury settlement with offensive tackle Kevin Graf and waiving four more.

    Wide receiver Reginald Davis III, tackle Wil Freeman and safeties Jordan Moore and Deron Washington were waived.


    • #77
      NFL 2017: Falcons NFC South Rivals to challenge for division
      August 30, 2017

      Before the Atlanta Falcons can think about Super Bowl redemption, they'll have to contend with an NFC South Division that could be dangerous to overlook.

      A Carolina team that was in the Super Bowl just two seasons ago aims to bounce back from an injury-filled 2016. A young, talented Tampa Bay Buccaneers team looks primed to end a long playoff draught.

      And in New Orleans, there is urgency to climb out of a three-year rut of sub-.500 play in what is currently 38-year-old, record-setting quarterback Drew Brees' last season under contract.

      Falcons coach Dan Quinn has gone out of his way to hush any Super Bowl talk - not because he doesn't want to revisit the pain of his team's collapse against New England , but because he wants his players focused on what he views as the considerable challenge of staying on top of their division.

      ''That's where the mindset has to be to get where you want to go,'' Quinn said. ''We know if you would look past these other three (NFC South teams), that would be a mistake, knowing the toughness these three groups play with on well-coached teams.''

      For Quinn, a former defensive coordinator for Seattle's 2013 title team, a key characteristic of the division is exceptional play by quarterbacks with varying strengths. He has his own prolific QB in Matt Ryan, a conventional pocket passer with a 6-foot-4 frame and accurate arm.

      The Saints, of course, have benefited from Brees' extraordinary timing and accuracy for more than a decade, including five 5,000-yard seasons passing (and another with 4,952).

      Carolina has a true dual-threat QB in Cam Newton. The Bucs have the up-and-coming Jameis Winston, who prefers to stay behind the line of scrimmage, but has the mobility to escape collapsing pockets and give himself more time to throw.

      For Atlanta, re-conquering the division will mean contending with ''the uniqueness of what Carolina does, the uniqueness of what New Orleans does, the uniqueness of what Tampa does and the way they feature the players in their systems,'' Quinn said.

      Brees has been around the NFC South long enough to see how hard it has been to stay on top.

      Since the division was created by NFL realignment in 2002, Carolina is the only repeat winner with a three-year run from 2013-15.

      ''We know that every team in our division is going to be somebody to contend with,'' Brees said.

      Here are some other story lines in the NFC South:


      The Falcons had to find a new offensive coordinator when Kyle Shanahan left to take over as San Francisco's head coach. Atlanta decided to fill the void with Steve Sarkisian , who was briefly Alabama's offensive coordinator when the Crimson Tide lost the national title game to Clemson.

      Sarkisian was a stopgap measure when the Crimson Tide sent Lane Kiffin packing. Now Sarkisian is back in the NFL for the first time since serving as Oakland's QB coach in 2004.


      Last season, Newton followed up a 2015 MVP campaign with the worst statistical season (19 TDs, 14 INTs) of his career. He struggled behind an offensive line beset with injuries and played the final month of the season with a partially torn rotator cuff that required offseason surgery.

      ''I can't let 2016 happen again,'' Newton said.

      To help, Carolina signed free agent left tackle Matt Kalil and drafted right tackle Taylor Moton in the second round. They also added two versatile weapons on offense with their first two draft picks - running back Christian McCaffrey and wide receiver Curtis Samuel.

      RISING EXPECTATIONS: The Bucs haven't made the playoffs since 2007 and haven't won a postseason game since the team's Super Bowl run 15 years ago. But with Jameis Winston entering his third season, pressure is mounting to change that.

      The team added playmakers on offense: receiver DeSean Jackson in free agency and tight end O.J. Howard in the draft. Coach Dirk Koetter is counting on the defense being better, too, following the addition of end Chris Baker and safeties J.J. Wilcox and Justin Evans.

      Winston led the Bucs to their first winning record in six years last season and has topped 4,000 yards passing in each of his first two seasons. Doug Martin, the NFL's second-leading rusher in 2015, also is set to return in Week 4 from a drug suspension .


      The Saints brought in 10-year veteran Adrian Peterson hoping he still has some exceptional football left after missing most of last season with a knee injury. They also hope he can catch the ball and will thrive in coach Sean Payton's inventive formations.

      New Orleans also used two of its top three draft picks in an effort to improve a secondary that ranked last against the pass last season. Cornerback Marshon Lattimore was the club's top pick and safety Marcus Williams was taken in the second round.


      Falcons, Panthers, Buccaneers, Saints.


      • #78
        AP source: Cut by Browns, Haden nears deal with Steelers
        August 30, 2017

        PITTSBURGH (AP) Joe Haden needed a job, a change of scenery and a chance at a Super Bowl.

        The Pittsburgh Steelers were more than happy to give the longtime Cleveland Browns cornerback a shot at all three.

        The Steelers signed Haden to a three-year contract on Wednesday night just hours after the Browns granted Haden his release.

        Haden, a two-time Pro Bowler, gives the defending AFC North champions an upgrade in the secondary in their bid to chase down Super Bowl champion New England.

        Haden's deal has a total value of $27 million said a person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because financial details were not released. Initial talks between Pittsburgh and Haden were first reported by ESPN.

        The Browns cut Haden earlier Wednesday, breaking ties with one of the few fixtures for a franchise that has spent the entirety of Haden's seven-year career rebuilding and then rebuilding some more.

        They don't do that in Pittsburgh. The Steelers reached the AFC title game in January only to get blown out by the Patriots, with Tom Brady throwing for 383 yards and three touchdowns.

        Pittsburgh made taking a more aggressive approach a top priority and Haden is eager to prove he's still an elite defender after two subpar seasons marred by injury.

        The former first-round draft pick has 19 interceptions in seven seasons, but has been limited to just 18 games the past two years. Haden's signing adds spice to the season opener between the Browns and Steelers on Sept. 10.

        This is the second straight season the Steelers have taken on a former Browns defender late in training camp. Pittsburgh sent a sixth-round pick in the 2018 draft to Cleveland last August for former first-round pick Justin Gilbert. Gilbert never earned a starting spot, played in just 12 games and was released the day after the Super Bowl.

        The expectations will be considerably higher for Haden, who will get a shot to line up opposite Artie Burns.

        Ross Cockrell and Coty Sensabaugh have spent much of training camp vying for a starting spot, but both could take on lesser roles or perhaps even be out of a job entirely depending on what direction the Steelers want to go in when rosters are trimmed to 53 on Saturday.

        The Steelers took cornerback Cam Sutton in the third round of the draft and also have veteran William Gay and Mike Hilton in the mix, among others.

        Pittsburgh went 11-5 last season despite a middling performance against the pass. The Steelers finished 16th in yards passing allowed, 15th in interceptions and ninth in sacks, rankings they have said repeatedly during training camp need to improve if they want any chance at catching up with the Patriots.

        If Haden can recapture some of the form he displayed in 2013 and 2014, the Steelers could inch closer to ending New England's vice grip on AFC supremacy.


        • #79
          Thursday’s six-pack

          — Johnny Manziel worked out for the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats, but he showed up out of shape; they don’t think he is ready to play ball, mentally or physically.

          — Browns cut CB Joe Haden, a 7-year veteran; he then got three years, $27M from the Steelers.

          — Atlanta 3B Brandon Phillips got his 2,000th career hit Wednesday.

          — Florida Atlantic opened as a 14.5-point underdog vs Navy; they’ve been bet down to +9. Navy’s OC is ill, and people are jumping on the Lane Kiffin bandwagon.

          — Mariners acquired P Mike Leake from the Cardinals; he has $55M left on his contract.

          — Cowboys-Texans preseason game scheduled for tonite was cancelled, so the Houston players could go home and assess the damage to their homes.


          Thursday’s List of 13: Nobody asked me, but…….

          13) All-time record for consecutive scoreless innings:
          48— Chicago Cubs, 1968
          45— Cincinnati Reds, 1931
          45— Kansas City Royals, 2017

          12) As of Tuesday night’s results, Joey Votto had 27 walks in his last 18 games; time for the Reds to at least consider batting him leadoff.

          Votto’s on-base %age: .449
          Billy Hamilton’s on-base %age: .298

          11) In 2015, the state of California collected $258.1M in taxes from pro athletes.

          10) The major league record for home runs in a season by someone who wasn’t in the majors before August 1? 13, by Ted Williams in 1953.

          Phillies’ rookie Rhys Hoskins has 11 homers; his first big league game was August 10.

          9) To win $100 at the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas, all a bettor has to do is put up $100,000 on the Golden State Warriors making the NBA playoffs this coming season. A $100 bet on Golden State to miss the playoffs pays $10,100.

          I could be wrong, but I would advise against putting up $100,000 to win $100.

          8) Cedar Bayou, TX had 51.88 inches of rain from Hurricane Harvey, the most rainfall ever on the continental United States. Thats over four feet of rain!!!!

          7) Dolphins’ DT Ndamukong Suh played youth soccer as a kid in Oregon— one of his teammates was Klay Thompson. Apparently Suh is now the Miami Dolphins’ backup kicker, should anything happen to starting kicker Andrew Franks, who went to D-III RPI, which is across the river from me in beautiful downtown Troy, NY.

          RPI is better known for its Division I hockey program. And its engineering program.

          6) How come no one bats the pitcher 8th this year? Because it was never a good idea, just something Tony Larussa/Joe Maddon did, so other teams blindly copied it.

          5) Former LSU coach Les Miles, one of my favorites, will be a game analyst for FOX Sports this fall. Miles live-tweeted the Floyd Mayweather fight Saturday night- he could be television gold.

          4) Major league record for most games started by a pitcher without ever appearing in relief:
          682, Tom Glavine
          379, Justin Verlander
          372, Felix Hernandez
          240, Juan Guzman

          3) According to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle last week, the book Moneyball is required reading at most business schools across the country.

          Wonder if they’ll study the part where the A’s trade their best pitcher (who has an affordable contract) for three players, two of whom are currently incapacitated, and a third guy who is in AA. (he is hitting .269 in the Texas League right now).

          To paraphrase Rick Pitino, Brad Pitt isn’t walking thru that door anytime soon. Moneyball 2 ain’t gonna happen, not while the A’s flounder year after year.

          2) First-round matchups for the Puerto Rico tip-off tournament this fall:
          South Carolina-Illinois State, Boise State-UTEP, Iowa State-Appalachian State, Tulsa-Western Michigan. Pretty good tournament.

          1) Astros are coming home to Houston this weekend; Friday’s game with the Mets was postponed to a day/night doubleheader on Saturday, with a day game on Sunday.


          • #80
            THURSDAY, AUGUST 31


            LAR at GB 07:00 PM

            GB -3.5

            O 38.0

            JAC at ATL 07:00 PM

            ATL -3.0

            O 37.0

            PHI at NYJ 07:00 PM

            PHI +1.5

            U 35.5

            CIN at IND 07:00 PM

            CIN +2.5

            U 36.5

            DET at BUF 07:00 PM

            DET -3.5

            U 35.5

            PIT at CAR 07:30 PM

            CAR -4.0

            U 37.5

            WAS at TB 07:30 PM

            TB -2.5

            U 36.5

            NYG at NE 07:30 PM

            NE -2.5

            U 37.5

            BAL at NO 08:00 PM

            NO -3.0

            U 37.5

            MIA at MIN 08:00 PM

            MIA +3.0

            U 37.5

            CLE at CHI 08:00 PM

            CHI -3.0

            U 36.5

            TEN at KC 08:30 PM

            TEN +3.0

            O 37.5

            ARI at DEN 09:00 PM

            ARI +2.5

            U 36.0

            SEA at OAK 10:00 PM

            OAK +2.5

            U 40.5

            LAC at SF 10:00 PM

            LAC +3.5

            U 38.0