Greg Olsen injury update: Panthers TE’s foot checks out OK, report says

It’s unclear if he will miss any practice this week because of the lingering soreness.

Olsen had returned to practice on a full-time basis last week as the team was on its bye and was activated from injured reserve on Friday. His availability will be closely monitored this week as the Panthers prepare for a division showdown against the Saints.

Carolina (8-3) will look to keep its four-game winning streak alive when it visits New Orleans (8-3) at 4:25 p.m. ET Sunday.

Rishard Matthews, Tennessee Titans, hamstring, 4:05 p.m. ET: Hamstring issues have been the nemesis of many of the Titans, and Matthews is the latest victim. His injury surfaced during a practice session in advance of the Week 12 game, and he hasn’t played since. Even though he did not play last Sunday, Matthews had begun to increase his running work. This week, he continued his progress with a return to limited practice Wednesday. He upgraded to full participation Thursday and Friday and even expressed optimism about his status for Sunday early in the week. His removal from the pregame injury report cements his status for the Week 13 contest against the Cardinals.

The St. Louis Cardinals have agreed to a two-year, $11 million deal with reliever Luke Gregerson, a source told ESPN’s Buster Olney.

The deal includes a vesting option for 2020.

The 33-year-old right-hander struggled some with Houston last season. In 61 innings, he had a 4.57 ERA, marking the third straight year his ERA rose from the previous season.

He had 31 saves and a 3.10 ERA for Houston in 2015, following four straight seasons with a sub-3.00 ERA for San Diego and Oakland.

Seung-hwan Oh led the Cardinals with 20 saves last season, but the 34-year-old had a 4.10 ERA. Former closer Trevor Rosenthal, who lost the job to Oh, came on with 11 saves later in the year.orioles_018

With Chris Thompson out for the season, Washington rookie running back Samaje Perine is a must-own in all leagues.

Corey Coleman, WR, Cleveland Browns (20.1 percent): It didn’t take long for Coleman to assimilate back into the Browns’ offense, as he posted six catches for 80 yards on 11 targets, an impressive line in his first game since Week 2 and especially against an incredible Jaguars secondary.

After the Eagles finished last season a lackluster 7-9, Roseman was on the hot seat, but he was granted another year because he had a coach and quarterback in their rookie seasons. Now, Wentz is blossoming and leading the team’s dramatic change in fortune. The Eagles are coming off their bye week at 8-1, the best record in the NFL.

It’s not fair or fun to bury Peterman, who was rushed onto an NFL field long before he was ready. The coaches who buried Taylor by knocking him for projected skills Peterman clearly doesn’t yet have deserve the blame for lighting their quarterback room on fire. Even worse, McDermott didn’t regret the decision after the game, chalking the result up to a bad outcome as opposed to a wrong call.

He rated at minus-7 defensive runs saved in 2017 — that’s seven runs below average. He rated minus-6 in 2016 and plus-1 in 2015. That’s one system. UZR graded him at minus-0.3 runs in 2017, minus-8.4 in 2016 and plus-1.0 in 2015.

Taylor also supposedly missed open receivers in the flow of the offense, which is true of every quarterback in the league and would be reflected in his impressive statistics if it were truly a hindrance. (And these were the best of what were admittedly some truly bad arguments.)

Hosmer is or isn’t a good defensive first baseman. Maybe you like defensive metrics or maybe you don’t, but the metrics almost always match the reputation of a player. Those with good defensive reputations usually rate well in the metrics.avalanche_420

Browns want Peyton Manning in major front office role, report says

When it comes to bringing in quarterbacks, few do it more often than the Cleveland Browns. However, the next QB they want won’t step on the field.

Despite their brutal lack of success, the Browns have a nice defensive cornerstone in place with Myles Garrett and will likely have the top pick (again) in the 2018 draft where they could take a shot (again) at a franchise quarterback like Sam Darnold or Josh Rosen.

Manning once turned around a losing franchise in Indianapolis, could he pull it off again in Cleveland?

With four top-10 teams and seven of the top 17 NBA draft prospects, as well as numerous sleepers who could emerge down the line, top-level executives and decision-makers from all 30 NBA teams will be scouting the event, despite its being held over a holiday.

Marcus Mariota completed 22 of 33 passes for 306 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions, adding 5 yards and one score on five carries against Pittsburgh on Thursday. Mariota now has 12 touchdowns (eight passing) and 10 interceptions in nine games this season. Granted, he missed one game, but Mariota sits 17th among quarterbacks in fantasy points this season. He has managed at least 13 fantasy points in eight of his nine outings but hasn’t finished a week ranked better than 11th in points at the position since Week 1.

Johnny Gaudreau’s 10-game point streak ended for the Flames.

The move was made as the Phillies added right-handers Seranthony Dominguez, Franklyn Kilome, Jose Taveras and left-hander Ranger Suarez to their 40-man roster.

By adding the pitchers to their 40-man roster, the Phillies protect them from being selected by another team in next month’s Rule 5 draft. The deadline to set rosters before the draft is Monday at 8 p.m. ET.nationals_001

Warriors win 11 straight against Clippers

Curry drains off-balanced 3 to beat the buzzerWith time winding down in the third quarter, Steph Curry puts up a 3-point shot and drills it as the buzzer sounds.
LOS ANGELES — After spending the better part of the season’s first two weeks in an extended slumber, the Golden State Warriors woke with a vengeance on Monday night with a 141-113 blowout of the Clippers at Staples Center. The win was the Warriors’ 11th consecutive over the Clippers.

On Monday, the Warriors’ true shooting percentage topped 70 in the first half, when they seized control of the game, despite draining only 5 of 13 attempts from beyond the arc.

Curry’s long-standing mastery of the Clippers continued, displayed most brutally in the third quarter, when he unloaded for 15 points, including a quartet of bombs from beyond the arc. Kevin Durant and Green assembled efficient evenings, with 19 and 16 points respectively, as well as a bundle of rebounds and assists.

It featured highlight after highlight with both teams swinging for the fences on every drive. At the end of the game, rookie Deshaun Watson was the first player in NFL history with at least 400 passing yards, four passing touchdowns, and 50 rushing yards in a game. And he did it against the vaunted Seattle defense.

But when the Texans went conservative with less than two minutes to play and didn’t get a first down, it gave Russell Wilson another chance to lead the Seahawks to victory and he pulled it off with a three-play, 80-yard drive that sealed the win.

Here are four reasons why the game on Sunday was about as ridiculous as football gets:

Both the Texans and Seahawks entered Sunday with top-10 pass defenses. But both gave up more than 400 yards to the opposing quarterback.

Wilson finished with the most at 452 yards, including the 80 he tacked on in a 78-second drive that gave the Seahawks the win. But Watson was up to the test too with 402 yards.raiders_067-223x223

That makes them a long shot to survive this demolition derby.

Slotting more shooters — Ian Clark, E’Twaun Moore — around them might compromise the defense. New Orleans will have little choice if Rajon Rondo misses extended time with a sports hernia. Darius Miller looms as a wild card in striking a two-way balance. It all seems a little too complicated — like too much has to go right.

Memphis made a slower, less rangy version of this work for years, albeit in an NBA only midway through its metamorphosis into a 3-point fantasyland. Those Randolph-Gasol Grizzlies won with defense. New Orleans was solid on that end last season, and downright stingy with both behemoths on the floor.

Maintain that, and they should least hover around .500.

The strategy laid out by the Warriors and since copied by the Nuggets is to build mostly through the draft, add role players with smart trades and nail one major impact free agent.

Among the top eight players in projected minutes for the Nuggets are four homegrown draft picks, three role players acquired via trade and one high-impact contributor signed as a free agent, which is the same distribution the Warriors used in 2013-14.

When it comes to the draft, both front offices did it the hard way by nailing picks outside the top five, which is a difficult task. Golden State drafted eventual All-Stars with the No. 7, No. 11 and No. 35 picks, spots that in the lottery era have developed into All-Stars 33 percent, 15 percent and 9 percent of the time, respectively. The chance of finding All-Stars with all of them is about 1-in-200.tigers_069-115x115

Fantasy Focus Football Podcast board bets scoreboard for 2017

If you’re even a semi-regular listener to the Fantasy Focus Football Podcast, aka the 06010, you are likely aware that Matthew Berry and Field Yates occasionally will disagree on a player’s fantasy output, whether it’s for the season or a specific week during the NFL season.

With a nod to faithful listener and board bet historian, Nick Scott, who created the original 06010 board site, we’ve decided to give you a place to check the tally board throughout the season right here on the pages of ESPN.com.

We’ll keep it simple and just state the proposition bet, along with which side Matthew and Field took. Once there is a winner, we will add that, and change the “leaderboard” below. Good luck in your leagues this season!

What has gone right: Third-year wide receiver Devante Parker (12 catches for 161 yards and one touchdown) is on the verge of being a star. Waiver-wire pickup Cody Parkey has made all four of his field-goal attempts, including what proved the game-winning 54-yarder in Week 1 vs. the Chargers.

What has gone wrong: A strong defensive line can’t always compensate for the injuries that have waylaid Miami’s linebacker and cornerback groups. The Jay Cutler-led offense had no juice in scoring just six points combined against the Saints and Jets, neither of whom field dominating defenses.

What’s next: Almost two months after hosting its last home game, the Andrew Franks Jersey Dolphins finally return to Hard Rock Stadium in matchups against the Titans and Elvis Dumervil Jersey the Jets sandwiched around a Week 6 trip to Atlanta. Getting the J-Train (i.e. running back Jay Ajayi) back on track is a must after he was held to 62 rushing yards by the Saints and Jets.

Why Josh Rosen deserves early No. 1 NFL draft pick hype

On the other hand, we tell them, “If the play isn’t there, TAKE A SACK OR THROW IT AWAY.”

This is a bad play. I’m not saying it’s a good play, but I get that the kid is trying to make plays for his team. I hate when people say the quarterback tried to do too much. If you want to mold a good football player, you’re going to have to live with some bad plays. This is one of them.

The kid is a baller. It will be interesting to see how he comes back after the injury, but if his play is anywhere close to what it was the last two seasons, he could be the first quarterback taken in next year’s draft and quite possibly the first player overall.

There’s also the possibility that the team that wins the coin toss could try to hold on to the ball for 10 minutes before scoring a field goal to win as time expired. That places additional importance to the coin toss.

Even if teams are more aggressive in overtime like O’Brien suggested, it’s not impossible.

According to Pro Football Reference, there have been 36 total possessions since 1999 that lasted 10 or more minutes — 29 ending in a field goal, seven in a missed field goal.

Bill O’Brien’s tenure as head coach has been defined by one narrative: His team doesn’t have a franchise QB. From Ryan Fitzpatrick in 2014, to Brian Hoyer in 2015, to Brock Osweiler in 2016, the mediocre-to-bad quarterback play has held back a genuinely talented roster. Now the team is starting over again with first-round draft pick Deshaun Watson — although they’re giving lip service toward Tom Savage being the Week 1 starter. Either way, the Texans are once again heading into training camp with the quarterback situation unsettled.

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The NFL draft is the ultimate IQ test for teams

The NFL affords losing franchises the opportunity to rebound quickly, thanks to free agency, the machinations of schedule-making, and most of all, the NFL draft. No fan base should have to suffer for more than a season or two; it’s the league’s most endearing quality.

The only catch is that a team has to be smart enough not to screw up the draft, which is harder than it should be.

If there’s clearly a position that’s down this year, it’s offensive tackle. The top player at the position is Ryan Ramczyk of Wisconsin, but he rates as just the 18th-best player overall.

The draft class as a whole, however, is a good one because of its depth. For me, the first 16 players ranked are the top tier. After that, the talent is interchangeable. Smart teams should be able to find good starters into the third day of the draft this year.

With all of that said, here are the 100 best players in the 2017 NFL draft.

Swearinger spent two seasons with the Texans, and actually didn’t play poorly. He had over 70 tackles each season, and he added 10 pass deflections, a sack and three interceptions over those two years. But his attitude left a lot to be desired, and after Swearinger refused to play special teams because he thought his second-round draft status justified skipping it, the team cut him loose.

“Hooker is the closest thing to Reed I’ve seen since I’ve been scouting.” – NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah

“Range is the biggest comparison. And when he has the ball in his hands. Remember when Ed got the ball? Whoo. If he didn’t score, you were disappointed. Same thing with this kid.” – Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano, who also coached Reed at the University of Miami

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49ers coach Kyle Shanahan offers new reason for Colin Kaepernick’s free agency

Why is Colin Kaepernick still a free agent? Politics? Poor play? Vegan diet? All of those have been discussed, but now there’s yet another theory, this time courtesy of 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan.

The newly signed coach, who never actually worked with the quarterback, was speaking Monday at the 49ers auditorium. Asked about Kaepernick, Shanahan said he thinks the QB remains unsigned because it would force a team to switch its offense in order to match his skill set.

This explanation does make some sense, at least in terms of why a team hasn’t sought the QB as a starter. His passing skills aren’t spectacular because he really makes an impact as a rusher. But having a talented backup could work out if a team really wanted to make it happen.

Before Kaepernick took over as starter in 2012, coach Jim Harbaugh used him as a weapon in the red zone and the QB had three scores on the ground. There are other teams that have used mobile quarterbacks in certain packages as well, and Kaepernick has the skill set for something like that.

At the end of the day, there isn’t one factor keeping Kaepernick unsigned. There are a number of reasons teams don’t feel the urge to bring him on board.

Next up was “winning,” something Belichick, who has a lifetime win percentage of .673, is obviously familiar with.

“The goal,” Belichick said. “There are no medals for trying. This isn’t eighth grade, where everybody gets a trophy. We’re in a professional sport, and it’s competitive to win. That’s what we do.”
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The Jets currently hold a one-game lead for the final playoff spot.

The playoff races are tightening around the NFL and with the season approaching the three-quarter mark, Week 11 could potentially be an elimination week for some teams on the edge of contention.

There will be key games in both the AFC and NFC on Sunday with 11 of the 13 games having playoff implications. Even if it’s not a must-win for teams to stay alive, playoff seeding and potential tiebreakers are on the line. Here’s a complete look at the slate of games on Sunday.

The Jets currently hold a one-game lead for the final playoff spot. With New England two games ahead in the AFC East and the other wild card slot likely going to one of the two AFC West teams, the Jets will need to hold on to the No. 6 seed to stay in the playoff picture. Picking up a win on the road would be a big boost for New York.

The game will be a battle of rookie quarterbacks. Both E.J. Manuel and Geno Smith have had up-and-down seasons. The Jets knocked off the Bills, 27-20, in a game that came down to the final possessions. At 3-7, Buffalo likely needs a win if its going to have any shot at the postseason.

Despite all that success and all that talent, many fans still seem to prefer SmackDown Live, and once you look at what the “blue brand” does different from RAW it can be easy to see why. RAW still focuses on a heavily produced style, relying heavily on almost over-managed segments outside the ring and a heavy “authority” hand that makes many fans switch off for long stretches of the show.
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