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NFL to consider several proposed kickoff rule changes

Several proposed rule changes aimed at improving player safety during kickoffs will be presented to NFL team owners at next week’s Spring League Meeting in Atlanta.

The proposals, which need to be approved by 24 of the 32 NFL team owners before being ratified for the 2018 season, will make kickoffs more like punts and limit full-speed collisions. The proposed adjustments were made in conjunction with special teams coaches and members of the league’s Competition Committee during a player safety summit at the league’s headquarters in New York earlier this month.

Then there’s the money, something of which Brady has plenty but apparently is seeking more. His contract situation has always been a fascinating topic. He has accepted lower salaries over the years to help the team sign quality players, a strategy that has paid off in Super Bowl appearances and victories.

I’ve always been partial to Game 4 of a 2-1 series. It determines the entire feel going forward. After 48 minutes, the series is either tied or almost decided, with very little middle ground. The tension is momentous.

We have two such Game 4s in these otherwise very boring conference finals — starting Monday night in Cleveland. If the Cavs win, they go to Boston with the world’s best player, momentum, and very rational confidence — as opposed to the irrational brand that drives every Jordan Crawford/Clarkson one-versus-everyone prayer. Boston cannot bank on winning every home game (right?). If Boston wins, Cleveland stares again into the LeBron-might-leave abyss — only with an even deeper deficit.

Ty Lue is riding with centers — Tristan Thompson and the revitalized Larry Nance Jr. — and gave both of them a clear directive in Game 3: stick with Al Horford at all times. Horford is one of the wiliest screeners in modern NBA history. He loves to slip picks before really setting them, or to veer off toward the 3-point arc. He’ll sometimes meander out as if to set a screen, only to stop five feet short and force his defender to navigate a confusing situation.ravens_170

Titans sign Kendrick Lewis

At a moment when teams around the league are stocking their roster with rookies, the Titans have added a veteran safety to the mix.

The Titans announced they have signed Kendrick Lewis, who took part in the team’s recent minicamp on a tryout basis, to a deal for the 2018 season. Safety Denzel Johnson has been dropped from the roster in a corresponding move.

Lewis was a fifth-round pick by the Chiefs in 2010 and spent four seasons in Kansas City before moving on to Houston in 2014. He spent the next two seasons with the Ravens and has been out of the league since they released him last year. He’s made 81 career starts and has 323 tackles, nine interceptions and seven forced fumbles.

The Titans have Kevin Byard and Jonathan Cyprien back from last season, but Da’Norris Searcy‘s departure has left an opening in the reserve ranks that Lewis will try to fill.

It’s best he’s back in the locker room, he’s back around us, Crawford told the Morning News. I think it will be good for him and good for us. Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones told the Morning News on Wednesday, First and foremost, we’re more concerned with Randy fixing himself off the field. I applaud him. I think he’s worked hard to get to this point that he can apply for reinstatement. By no stretch are we just saying, ‘Hey, we’re going to bank on that. ‘ We’re still thinking about him and hoping he gets everything done the right way off the field.

Appearing on PFT Live, G.M. Dave Caldwell explained that Jacksbroncos_014_82732420edc2fbab-180x180on, whom Caldwell and executive V.P. of football operations Tom Coughlin praised before the draft, wasn’t in the mix for the pick that ultimately became defensive tackle Taven Bryan.

“He was not at the time,” Caldwell said. “We did think very highly as him as a player. With his ability to create and create plays with his feet. We felt like that he was going to eventually be a player — that he could develop into a player that you can win with. That wasn’t the situation that we had for us with the pick at 29. We had some guys that we really coveted that we felt could come in and help us right away this year.”

Sanders also hopes that extra attention to conditioning in the offseason pays off in September

“One thing my mentality is that I feel like I want to be the most conditioned team in the NFL next year, and I feel like if we’re the most conditioned team that in the fourth quarter it’s going to pay off,” Sanders said. “Be able to take advantage of this altitude. I can see it in guys just trying to get in shape and trying to get their conditioning up.

You gotta wonder if the Pats see something special in him, which is why it’s amazing that he’ll only cost them $10 million over the next two seasons.

After falling short of the Super Bowl in 2017, the Minnesota Vikings added one piece on each side of the ball that could help put them over the top. And while they paid a massive premium for quarterback Kirk Cousins on offense, they acquired a potential game-changer on defense for just $8 million with no strings attached beyond the 2018 season.

One of those moves fetched them 32-year-old Pro Bowler Aqib Talib in exchange for merely a fifth-round pick. The Denver Broncos were probably happy to get Talib off the books, but the Rams are clearly in win-now mode and feel they can afford to pay him the $19 million he’s owed over the final two years of his deal.

That’s not cheap, but it’s a lot less than the New York Jets are paying departed Rams top corner Trumaine Johnson. And beyond the money, they gave up practically nothing in exchange for a defender who has scored six touchdowns in the last four years.

Mailata was announced as an offensive tackle, and at 6-foot-8 and 346 pounds it makes sense that that’s the position the Eagles would want him to play. He’s never played American football before and he has a long, long way to go before the Eagles would trust him to protect Carson Wentz‘s blind side, but the raw talent is there.

The 20-year-old Mailata has been working with the same coach who prepared the German wide receiver Moritz Bohringer for his NFL workouts before the Vikings chose Bohringer in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL draft. Bohringer didn’t pan out and is currently out of the league, but Mailata is another player from overseas who will now get a chance in America’s game.broncos_083_50eba4c8a6ca30b9-180x180

Joe Flacco has nothing to say at team draft event

It’s entirely possible that Joe Flacco is completely cool with what’s happening around him.

Despite taking a no decision in the Yankees’ 3-2 win at Yankee Stadium, Severino struck out 11 Red Sox and walked none while allowing two earned runs on six hits over six-plus innings.

Severino entered Tuesday at 5-1 with a 2.11 ERA. The Red Sox were responsible for his one loss when they pinned five earned runs on Severino over five innings in a 14-1 shellacking on April 10 at Fenway Park in Boston.

In the second meeting, the Red Sox ran into the pitcher who allowed six total earned runs across his other six previous starts.

Better breaking ball, Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “We put good at-bats. But he got creative throughout the game. All of a sudden, he lost his slider, he lost his fastball command. He throws a 3-0 changeup to Hanley (Ramirez), a 3-1 changeup to Hanley, then a fastball and he hits it back to the middle.”

On top of his April 10 outing, Severino entered Tuesday with a poor career track record against the Red Sox. In eight starts and nine total appearances against Boston prior to Tuesday, Severino was 2-5 with a 4.92 ERA.

Millen told the Morning Call that he is suffering from amyloidosis, a rare illness that has seriously damaged his heart and will likely require him to get a heart transplant.

Still, the 60-year-old Millen said he’s in good spirits and thankful for what he has, including a wife, four kids and seven grandkids. He says he’s optimistic he can continue working as a Big Ten Network analyst.

“While I’m still up on this side,” Millen said, “I’ll enjoy everything.”

Millen is even keeping his sense of humor, chuckling about the time that he chatted with one of his doctors, who was from Detroit and complaining about the Tigers losing.

“At least they’re not as bad as the Lions were a few years ago, when they didn’t win a game,” Millen said the doctor told him, unaware that Millen was the man who built the Lions’ 0-16 roster.

Although he was a failure as the Lions’ G.M., Millen had a good career as an NFL linebacker and has had a long career as a broadcaster as well. Here’s hoping he has many more years working around the sport he loves.broncos_005_5f198ae78204724c-180x180

Lamar Jackson may not be a first-year starter in the NFL, and that’s OK.

The Ravens acquired possession receivers Michael Crabtree and Willie Snead and speedster John Brown in free agency, and Hurst has the speed to get upfield and threaten linebackers and slot defenders on seam and post routes. Flacco’s game has declined over the last few seasons, and with the addition of Griffin as a backup, it’s clear that the team wants effective mobility at the position—and Jackson already has more on the ball as a passer than Griffin did at his peak.

Mulvaney’s statement was as brazen an explanation of the cost of doing business in Washington as anyone has made in a long time. But it no doubt shocked few people around the country, who hold a dim view of politicians and believe themselves always losers in the transactions of government. What Mulvaney said probably only reinforces what people already believe.

The work crew in King County, Washington is described as supervised manual labor for various public service agencies.

Despite entering the draft with six picks, tied for the fewest in the league, Detroit packaged its original second-round choice (No. 51) along with their fourth-round pick (No. 117) to the New England Patriots to make the move up the board.

Measuring in at 6-feet, 213 pounds, Johnson rushed for 1,391 yards (4.9 yards per carry) and 18 touchdowns for the Tigers last season. He also added 24 catches for 309 yards and two more scores. An aggressive runner, he broke 50 tackles on 285 carries, according to Pro Football Focus.

Titans (from Raiders) — Harold Landry, OLB, Boston College: He led the nation with 16½ sacks when he was fully healthy in 2016, but an ankle injury slowed him last year. Still, he’s one of the few premium edge rushers in this class, gives Tennessee more speed on sub-packages in a division with mobile quarterbacks and will allow the team insurance with current starting OLBs Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan set to be free agents in 2019.tigers_072-115x115

Cleveland leaders say there have been no talks with the Browns about a new stadium

City officials say they have not had any formal conversations with the Cleveland Browns about a new or remodeled stadium, although they would welcome the opportunity to work with the NFL team toward economic development.

Kentavius Street, DT, NC State Grade: C+ Weight-room strong, but doesn’t fully translate on the field. Freakish flashes but gets stuck on blocks too often. 129. Will Richardson, OT, NC State Grade: A Richardson plays with immense strength and has deceptively good feet. Thrives in pass pro. 130. Josh Sweat, DE, Florida State Grade: A Clowney-like linear freak athlete. Powerful jolt with long arms. Embarrassment of riches up front on Eagles defense. 131. Kalen Ballage, RB, Arizona State Grade: B Hyper athletic. Reliable pass-catcher. Explosive. Lacking in vision department.

Jaleel Scott, WR, New Mexico State Grade: B+ Tall, lanky. Somewhat stiff. Ability to make acrobatic catches and high-point when coverage is tight. 133. J’Mon Moore, WR, Missouri Grade: B+ Height/speed vertical threat. Strong too. Tracks well. One-trick pony but will thrive downfield. 134. Chase Edmonds, RB, Fordham Grade: C+ Slightly early. Runs very hard for being a small RB. Some twitchiness. 135. John Franklin, DE, Stephen F. Austin Grade: B Heavy-handed pass-rushing DT. Lacks burst. Quality depth on loaded Rams DL. 136. Marquis Haynes, OLB, Mississippi Grade: A Stand-up LB with powerful hands he uses well. Could add more weight and strength. Some flashes of quickness around the edge. 137. Dalton Schultz, TE, Stanford Grade: D+ Has blocking experience but not good in that area. Limited receiver too. Good size.

However, Brady did add that if the ratings are dropping, it’s definitely not because his friends have stopped watching.

Michelle Wolf didn’t plan to sleep within steps of the White House. She just likes old hotels.

Then I remembered how close it was, the comedian said on a frigid February morning from the restaurant in the Hay-Adams. So yesterday, I walked outside and I was like, ‘Right. The White…

Avonte Maddox, a former standout in the defensive backfield at Detroit King, was selected by the world champion Philadelphia Eagles with the 25th pick of the fourth round (125th overall).

Rated by 247sports as a three-star prospect coming out of King, Maddox committed to Pittsburgh, where he was an immediate contributor as he played in all 13 games as a freshman. After starting all 13 games at cornerback as a sophomore in 2015, Maddox missed three games in 2016 and two in 2017 due to injury.tigers_003-115x115

Ex-Broncos OL Orlando Franklin retires after 7 seasons

Orlando Franklin is calling it quits.

The former Broncos and Chargers offensive lineman announced Saturday that he is retiring after seven seasons in the NFL.

It’s striking that of the No. 1 analyst jobs at the four networks that carry NFL games, three are held by former Cowboys — Aikman, Romo and Witten.

Some of it has been the moon and the stars aligning, Rich Dalrymple, the Cowboys’ senior vice president for communications, told USA TODAY Sports. They all had serendipitous stuff happen.

Aikman’s shot at a No. 1 role came when John Madden left Fox. Witten’s opportunity comes as Gruden went back to coaching. Romo landed after injuries wiped out the bulk of his final two seasons.

As Witten contemplated his move, Dalrymple told him, There are four of these jobs in the whole world as lead game analyst. They may not open up again in 10 years.

Sorry, Cowboys haters. Whenever that high-profile role opens up, well…

He wouldn’t beat Justify that day, but I’ll tell you what, he came out of that race really good. He cooled out in the testing barn after the race. He’s never trained better any time we’ve had him in the barn.

But Ruis had lost the race.

Then he lost his jockey.

For Ruis, it was not a day for California dreaming much less the aroma of Kentucky Derby roses. Javier Castellano, the jockey who had handled Bolt d’Oro so well, put the punctuation mark on Ruis’ doom and gloom. He telephoned the owner and told him:

I love your horse, but I never thought I would get this much pressure to ride Audible instead.

It was a jockey’s euphemism for I know how it feels to you, but a jockey can’t jeopardize his bread and butter.

Todd Pletcher has four horses in this Kentucky Derby and he wanted Castellano, who often rode for him, to be up on one of them.canucks_015

Hue: Haley will have total autonomy of Browns offense

When the Browns hired Hue Jackson away from the Bengals two years ago, it was his offensive scheming and play-calling that stood at the forefront.

After starting his Cleveland career with an unprecedented and ignominious 1-31 record, though, Jackson will relinquish those responsibilities to new coordinator Todd Haley.

As the Browns reported for rookie minicamp on Friday, Jackson acknowledged that Haley has been given total autonomy with the offense.

Those tweaks should lead to Green Bay allowing fewer points and generating more takeaways. The defense will be better positioned with its personnel to maximize the pressure Rodgers puts on the Packers’ opponents. In recent seasons, the defense has failed to give them the right brand of complementary football.

Pettine has operated some solid defenses with the Jets, Bills and even the Browns despite shaky quarterback play. He has never had a chance to play off a QB of Rodgers’ caliber. Likewise, Rodgers will not have to be called upon as team’s ultimate savior.

Front office and scouting personnel typically see turnover after the NFL Draft, so the timing of this move for Bazirgan is not surprising.

Last year, the Jets named Bazirgan their college scouting director, to replace Rex Hogan, who left for a better job with the Colts vice president of player personnel.

Bazirgan had worked for the Jets since 2004. He got a promotion, to pro personnel director, when the Jets hired Maccagnan as their general manager in 2015.

Before spending two years as pro personnel director (2015-16), Bazirgan was the Jets’ assistant director of pro personnel. His first job with the Jets was as a pro personnel intern and college scouting assistant in 2004. He was a college area scout for the Jets for eight years.

So for the second straight year first with Hogan’s departure and now with Bazirgan’s Maccagnan has to replace his college scouting director.

Maccagnan has an extensive background in scouting, though. He was the Texans’ college scouting director before the Jets gave him their general manager job. So Maccagnan is very hands-on with the Jets’ college scouting, in advance of the draft. giants_149

Bryce Petty Reportedly Claimed off Waivers by Dolphins After Release by Jets

The Miami Dolphins reportedly claimed quarterback Bryce Petty off waivers from the New York Jets.

Field Yates of ESPN first reported the update Friday.

In a move widely expected, the Jets waived Petty on Thursday. New York signed Teddy Bridgewater and re-signed Josh McCown earlier this offseason and then selected Sam Darnold with the No. 3 pick in the 2018 draft.

There’s a chance one of two defensive ends — LSU’s Arden Key or Ohio State’s Sam Hubbard — will have a Foster-like fall into the 49ers’ laps, but the team is also keyed into Florida State’s Josh Sweat in this same range. Auburn’s Josh Holland and Wake Forest’s Duke Ejiofor also fit the unique LEO role in San Francisco’s defense.

A slider the 49ers would jump on is UTEP guard Will Hernandez, but Auburn’s Braden Smith is bound to be around in this range as another option. At wide receiver, Oklahoma State’s Marcell Ateman has drawn interest from them as a big-bodied target.

In contrast, the defensive back spike early and the middle-tier prospects don’t carry the same value. Following the best-available theme should work well for the 49ers on Day 2.

Kanye West, who recently had a Twitter love-fest with Trump, has been invited, says Scott, along with former NFL star Colin Kaepernick and other athletes and musicians of multiple races and ethnicities.

It’s not going to be a black-only event, says Scott. It will be a melting pot.

Kaepernick, of course, is the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who famously initiated a wave of protests by professional athletes in 2016 when he knelt during the national anthem before NFL games as a protest against injustice against African-Americans, especially police shootings of unarmed black men and teens. Trump, as a presidential candidate, vilified Kaepernick, saying, Maybe he should find a country that works better for him. And later, as president, Trump said players who kneel for the anthem should be fired.nike_jets_1636

Sam Darnold, Josh Allen to visit Giants this week

The Giants will have two of the top quarterbacks in the upcoming draft at their complex for private visits this week, although the chances remain high that only one of them will be available when the team is on the clock at No. 2 next week.

But those who know Gettleman believe he would not use the second pick in a draft on a flawed player, particularly when he has a quarterback who is healthy and has won two Super Bowls—though Eli Manning has not played well in recent years—and a quarterback he never got to see last year (rookie Davis Webb)—because of stupid Giants’ decision-making in the last month of a lost season. Gettleman has to look at this draft and think about two players: — Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, the best back to come into the league in years.

Think of Philly defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, even with Star Wars weaponry all over his depth chart, trying to defend Barkley, wideouts Odell Beckham Jr., and Sterling Shepard and rising-star tight end Even Engram, with a solid left tackle (Nate Solder) suddenly making Manning less vulnerable to a great pass-rush. Beckham is 25, Shepard 24, Engram 23, Barkley 21.

Joel Embiid used some body english as he scampered down the baseline and tried to will Marco Belinelli’s off-balance 3-pointer through the net.

Belinelli buried it, because of course he would. Even the wild ones go in of late for the Sixers.

With their injured Embiid on the bench, the 76ers proved one more time in their biggest game in six years they can romp without their All-Star. Embiid wore a white mask as he rang a miniature Liberty Bell — then the Miami Heat got their bell rung in Game 1 of the first-round series.

The best thing reporters can do at T-minus 10 days to the NFL draft is listen to all the people they trust and know that much of what they’re saying might be a best guess because so few people inside an organization (one, perhaps) truly know what that team is about to do in the draft.dolphins_084