Jaguars sign 13 undrafted free agents, including Stanford CB Quenton Meeks

Nine defensive players were among the 13 undrafted free agents the Jaguars signed Monday.

Jacksonville also made official the departures of wide receiver Jaelen Strong and punter Brad Nortman, giving the team 89 players on its 90-man roster.

The defenders the Jaguars signed include Stanford cornerback Quenton Meeks, who made 25 pass breakups and seven interceptions in his career.

For them, it’s fun to watch, Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. For me, it’s like, ‘Oh God, here we go again.’

Cora breathed a sigh of relief when the Red Sox overcame that seventh-inning rally with J.D. Martinez’s solo home run on the second pitch of the top of the eighth inning.

That blast gave the Red Sox a 5-4 victory and allowed them to salvage the final game of the three-game series in the Bronx and avoid a sweep.

Between the length of the game and a 55-minute rain delay in the fifth inning, Cora wasn’t sure when it would end.

It felt like it took forever tonight, he said. The three games felt like the (ALCS) last year. It was just loud. They got something good going on there, but we also have something good here. It’s going to be fun the rest of the year.

Blackwell sent a letter to the NFL in which she offered to drop the threat of litigation in exchange for $1 and a meeting with Commissioner Roger Goodell. Blackwell is the attorney for Bailey Davis, a former New Orleans Saints cheerleader, and former Miami Dolphins cheerleader Kristan Ann Ware.

While Blackwell said she may not get that meeting with Goodell, she also doesn’t think a forum with Goodell is necessary for the league to institute changes.

I don’t care if they have me talk to the janitor, Blackwell said. I want to talk to whoever has the authority to make a difference. That could be Goodell or anyone else. I don’t care who it is.

Messages left by USA TODAY Sports with the NFL and its counsel were not immediately returned Thursday.

There’s been no other conference call or meeting scheduled as of Thursday. Blackwell said the two sides are in the process of exchanging information on the issue. 

Yeah, there’s just a whole lot of bad decisions happening here.
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Taylor Hall, Anze Kopitar, Nathan MacKinnon named Hart Trophy finalists

New Jersey’s Taylor Hall, Los Angeles’ Anze Kopitar and Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon are finalists for the 2018 Hart Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player.

Hall, 26, was sixth in the NHL in scoring with 93 points (39 goals, 54 points) in his second season with the Devils, who have had only one previous MVP finalist — goalie Martin Brodeur — but never a winner.

The 41-point differential between Hall and the next-highest-scoring Devil, Nico Hischier (52), was the biggest gap in the league since 2007-08 (Washington’s Alex Ovechkin 112, Nicklas Backstrom 69).

“Other than that, I have some anxiety for sure just because I want it to go well, I want it to be smooth. I want it to pick right up where I left off.”

No matter what happens, Patrick knows her 2018 will be unique.

“I’m trying to think of what’s more unique in the world — how many people have met the Dalai Lama and how many people have driven an IndyCar,” Patrick said. “But definitely in my world, it’s more unique to meet the Dalai Lama since I raced IndyCars for so long.

“I’ve got a whole lot of very cool experiences going on in 2018.”

A competing initiative calls for a $4 billion development that would include a stadium for a possible MLS team.

The NFL’s Chargers relocated to the Los Angeles area before the 2017 season.

While SDSU’s plan includes an expandable stadium, the competing plan, called SoccerCity, would set aside a plot of land for five years that could be used for an NFL stadium. After that, it would revert to other development.

SDSU athletic director J.D. Wicker said he had no expectation that the NFL would return, “but I want to be prepared to allow that opportunity.”

It would be a long shot that an NFL team would want to share a stadium controlled by a college. If the stadium were to be expanded for an NFL team, that team would be responsible for the cost, which Wicker estimated at between $750 million and $800 million.

“I was so proud running the bases and when I got to the dugout, I was like, `OK, I know what’s going on,” Altuve said. “I knew they were happy, but they wanted to give me the silent treatment.”

Marisnick also put one into the Crawford Boxes in left field, making it 5-2 in the seventh.
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Rookie Villanueva hits 3 homers, Padres get 1st win of 2018

Curtain calls don’t happen often at Petco Park, which made the night even more special for Christian Villanueva.

The rookie hit three impressive home runs and drove in five runs, Tyson Ross was a winner in his return to San Diego, and the Padres became the last team to get its first victory of 2018 by beating the Colorado Rockies 8-4 on Tuesday night.

The 26-year-old Villanueva joined Hunter Renfroe as the only Padres rookies to hit three homers in a game. Villanueva, the third player to start at third base in San Diego’s first five games, became the seventh Padres player overall to go deep three times.

After his third homer , Villanueva popped out of the dugout to answer a curtain call from the crowd of 19,283.

The Marlins gave up 12 hits after pitching well against the Chicago Cubs in the opening series of the season.

That’s a good lineup over there, Miami manager Don Mattingly said. They’re a different animal than what we’ve seen the first four. Taking nothing from the Cubs, but this is a little different offense, where they all take their licks. They can ding you a little bit, and they are dangerous also.

A bloop and a blast got the Red Sox on the scoreboard. Xander Bogaerts reached on a two-out swinging bunt single in the fourth, and Eduardo Nunez followed with an RBI double. Christian Vazquez added a two-run double.

Schoenfield: The Angels need him to produce on the mound. We have no idea what kind of patience Mike Scioscia will extend to Ohtani at the plate, so I think the success will be determined mostly by his pitching performance. Yu Darvish went 16-9 with a 3.90 ERA his first season with the Rangers, and though Ohtani won’t pitch 191 innings like Darvish did, I think he can beat that ERA.

I love getting throws from Judge because there’s a lot of true backspin to the ball so it’s easier to pick them, Yankees catcher Austin Romine said. They’re not having two-seamer tail or something like that, hitting the ground and darting a different way. He really gets behind the ball and gives you a pretty good chance to pick the ball. It was a great throw.

Yankees: RHP Adam Warren (right ankle) played catch before the game. Warren left Saturday’s game after he was struck by a comebacker. Boone said Warren’s condition was better than expected. We’re pretty optimistic about him, Boone said. … Boone said he isn’t certain OF Jacoby Ellsbury (strained right oblique) will be ready to come off the disabled list when he is eligible Thursday.patriots_305

Rams agree to 2-year deal reportedly worth $15M with John Sullivan

The Los Angeles Rams have agreed to a two-year contract with center John Sullivan, the team confirmed Friday.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed by the Rams but Sullivan’s contract is worth $15 million, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

The 33-year-old veteran managed 200 yards receiving and 56 yards rushing in eight games last season for the Ravens, who never really figured out how to properly use him.

Part of that problem traces back to the hamstring injury that kept him sidelined for most of the first half of the season.

On his first drive with Baltimore, he caught three passes for 33 yards (including a one-handed reception) and ran once for 4 yards.

That’s when he aggravated a hamstring injury and was eventually placed on injured reserve.

He didn’t return until Nov. 19.

While the signing has yet to be made official, Mathieu tweeted to a number of Texans players, including Watt and quarterback Deshaun Watson.

Mathieu was suspended by LSU before the 2012 season for failing drug tests and then was arrested on drug-related charges that October before leaving school to begin preparing for the NFL draft.

He missed the entire 2012 season, leading to him fall to the Cardinals in the third round of the 2013 draft.

In 66 career games, Mathieu has 303 tackles, 25 pass breakups, 22 passes defensed, 11 interceptions, 4 sacks and 4 forced fumbles.

10 NFL free agents who landed in perfect spots Jimmy Graham can be a red zone monster for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.

Here’s who else signed with an ideal team this offseason. patriots_117

Bullpen carts are cool, but could take away one of baseball’s coolest things

Boston’s Craig Kimbrel is about to enter a tense playoff game. The Red Sox lead by one run. It’s crunch time. Do or die. The opening strains of “Welcome to the Jungle” invade the air at Fenway Park. The crowd goes wild. And here comes perhaps the most intimidating flamethrower in baseball — in a tiny, non-intimidating bullpen cart.

I’ll pause here to say that it’s unlikely every team will adopt a bullpen cart in 2018, which makes worries about entrance music a bit premature. We can assume the Diamondbacks are bringing it back at least in part to help shave a few seconds off pitching changes in the ongoing quest to quicken the pace of play. Whether other teams join the fun remains to be seen.

But fun is the key word here. Any benefit to pace of play comes in a distant second to the whimsical nature and nostalgia of the bullpen cart. But then, entrance songs are mostly about fun, too. But if lack of an entrance song diminishes the baseball experience, if it robs the game of needed spectacle, I suppose teams could just exchange the carts for Roman-era chariots.

Or, solve both issues and just use the Doof Wagon from “Mad Max: Fury Road.”

What does Richard Sherman bring?

When healthy, Sherman is a lockdown cornerback who transforms a defense and takes the opponent’s best wide receiver out of the game. At 6’3, 195 pounds, Sherman has the length to play tight press coverage and win any jump ball.

There’s no better time than? the short time between the NFL Combine and?free agency to clock in with an initial mock draft for 2018.

Before?prospects’ stocks and teams’ needs change, here’s what?we think everybody is?thinking for the top 32 picks still well ahead of the 2018 NFL Draft.

Although mock drafts generally are filled with?uncertainty, there are some?good bets developing this year to help us match players and teams, especially early in the first round. seahawks_006_8bcc8ebe87789133-180x180

NBA wrap: Kyrie Irving leads Celtics in thriller over Nuggets

Celtics guard Jaylen Brown made a 3-pointer with 38 seconds left on the clock Monday, and it proved enough to beat the Nuggets 111-110 in Denver.

Kyrie Irving led Boston with a game-high 27 points on 11-of-17 shooting, while also dishing out six assists. Irving has now scored 20-plus points in eight straight games. Jayson Tatum added 20 points and six rebounds.

Timberwolves point guard Jeff Teague scored just two points on 1-of-12 shooting in a 105-100 loss to the Hawks. Teague did dish out 10 assists, but his ineffectiveness from the floor helped lead to Minnesota’s surprise loss.

Thunder (30-20) at Wizards (27-22) 7:00 p.m. ET — Suddenly on fire, Oklahoma City has rattled off eight straight wins thanks to Paul George’s improved play. Russell Westbrook has again been a triple-double threat every night, while Steven Adams has developed into a two-way threat. Bradley Beal and John Wall give Washington a chance to win every night, but the Wizards are still looking for a consistent third scorer.

The Celtics will be without guard Marcus Smart again in Denver; he was sent home prior to the loss at Golden State and will miss an extended period of time due to hand lacerations sustained in a non-basketball injury.

Winners of three straight, the eighth-seeded Nuggets (26-23) look to keep pace in the Western Conference playoff race. In a 91-89 win over the Mavericks, Nuggets center Nikola Jokic hit the go-ahead field goal and posted his second triple-double of the season with 11 points, 11 assists and 16 rebounds. Jokic is averaging a team-high 5.3 assists per game this season, good for second among all centers in the NBA. In addition to production from Jokic, Denver has benefited from the scoring of talented young guards Gary Harris (17.3 points per game) and Jamal Murray (16.3 points per game) this season.

Can the Celtics get back on track, or will the Nuggets make it four straight wins?
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Athletics designate Brandon Moss for assignment, claim Jairo Labourt off waivers from Reds

The Oakland Athletics designated outfielder Brandon Moss for assignment on Sunday and claimed left-hander Jairo Labourt off waivers from the Cincinnati Reds.

Moss, 34, was acquired by the A’s in January in a multiplayer trade with the Kansas City Royals. He hit .207 with 22 home runs and 50 RBIs last season and has 160 home runs in his 11 season major league career.

He told the San Francisco Chronicle that he will retire if he is unable to land a major league job with another team. He told the newspaper that he’s not interested in working his way back from the minor leagues.

Tristan H. Cockcroft: All of these pitchers appeal to me in the middle rounds, which is the reason I have them all ranked between 30th and 40th among starting pitchers and 117th and 153rd overall, but the one who stands out slightly above the rest is Bauer. His is the best mix of the six in terms of durability, stuff and recent trend.

In the past three seasons combined, Bauer’s 89 starts and 542 1/3 innings pitched lead the pack, and he was also tops in both categories in 2017 alone (31 and 176 1/3).

During that same time span, Bauer’s 12.9 percent swinging-strike rate trailed only Godley’s 13.4 percent (but Godley’s came in less than half as many pitches thrown). Bauer’s 93.3 mph average fastball velocity was third, behind McCullers (94.2 mph) and Price (93.6 mph), and he boosted it to 94.0 mph in 2017 alone. Bauer’s curveball was also worth 5.4 runs above average during the second half of the season per FanGraphs, which was ninth-best in the game and trailed only Godley’s (10.2).

“That’s just the way it is. I understand everything. At the same time, you’re six months away from free agency. That’s intriguing.”

Dozier, 30, will make $9 million this season in the final year of a four-year contract. He told the Star Tribune that there have “not been any talks [with the Twins] about exploring an extension.”

Dozier has discussed his future on multiple occasions this offseason and told Twins Daily last month that he expected to become a free agent. He made it clear, however, in his interview with the Star Tribune that the Twins have not approached him about a new deal.

“We’ll see what happens, but at the same time you can only wait so long and then it’s all just focusing on the season and getting yourself ready to win,” he told the paper. “I’m a firm believer, man, I don’t put too much into all that kind of stuff. I go with the flow and let things take care of themselves.”lions_135

At a Super Bowl press conference, Justin Timberlake says his son ‘will never play football’

Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel have a 2-year-old son, Silas Randall Timberlake. Justin Timberlake is the headliner for the Super Bowl 52 halftime show on Sunday. At an NFL press conference ahead of that event, Timberlake said his son will never play football.

“He will never play football,” Timberlake told a reporter. He’d been asked whether he’d support his son if he wanted to “run some routes and get in the NFL.” It was part of a longer exchange about his son following him into an artistic field.

“I don’t even get down to the details at this point,” said Reich, who has “had a conversation or two” with Luck since being hired. “There’s been a lot done and said. I trust the rehab process and the doctors. He’ll be ready as soon as he can.”

In the meantime, Reich is readying an up-tempo system that he believes can bring out the best in a quarterback whose performance leveled out in 2015 before the shoulder surgery. He said the scheme will look similar to the one used by Luck’s predecessor in Peyton Manning, albeit with the increased use of RPO (run-pass option) plays that helped spur Philadelphia’s run to winning Super Bowl 52 with Reich as offensive coordinator.

For some reason, Gronkowski is obsessed with the number 69. During a Week 17 matchup against the New York Jets, he didn’t collect a reception and ended the season with 69 receptions. In fact, that was the first time he played in a game without any targets. No one knows why Gronkowski didn’t receive any catches, but it’s possible that he didn’t want to eclipse 69 catches.

In fact, when he caught his 69th career touchdown this season, his mother congratulated him for that huge achievement.

Gronkowski’s fascination for the number 69 will probably live on, and that’s perfectly fine. But for now, though, we should be excited about him playing in Super Bowl 52.

After suffering a concussion against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC Championship, Gronkowski passed the concussion protocol last Thursday. This is great news for the Gronkowski family, especially since he didn’t play in last year’s Super Bowl due to a season-ending herniated disc. Let’s see if Gronkowski can accumulate 69 receiving yards against the Eagles.bears_026-223x223

Cubs’ Willson Contreras not buying limit on mound visits

Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras isn’t exactly on board with Major League Baseball’s new pace-of-play rules, which include a limit on mound visits per game.

Contreras is claiming he’ll defy the rule that limits teams to six visits for the first nine innings of a game, minus a few exceptions.

I don’t even care, Contreras said Tuesday. If I have to go [out there] again and pay the price for my team I will.

Contreras indicated he would be willing to pay a fine or deal with even harsher consequences — though baseball is hoping it never gets that far. Speaking at a news conference later Tuesday, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred and chief officer Joe Torre said umpires simply will tell a catcher or other player to return to his position if his team has used up its six visits. If a catcher defies that order and gets into an argument with an umpire, then an ejection could be in order.

Now it’s Adam Rippon time. He skated to Let Me Think About It and had an appropriately sparkly outfit to match.

Rippon hit most of his spots with little-to-no trouble, although the judges docked him for not landing a triple axel perfectly. Beyond that, he had another clean program that got a great reaction from the crowd. Rippon earned an 87.95 score, vaulting into first place.

Due up: Bryce Harper, Bryce Harper and Bryce Harper! As MLB experiments with pace of play, there are more intriguing ways to add spice to bonus baseball than by simply starting innings with a runner on second base.

So with Cactus and Grapefruit League games scheduled to begin Friday, commissioner Rob Manfred listened to his pragmatic side. He refrained from forcing the clock on the players, settled for a limitation on mound visits and put the onus on players to start bringing games home at a brisker pace this season.

Each season, NASCAR begins with its biggest race, the Daytona 500, a quirk that is unique in sports. On Sunday, the 60th annual Daytona 500 goes green at Daytona International Speedway at 3 p.m. ET and can be seen on FOX.

Alex Bowman (195.644 mph) and Denny Hamlin (195.092 mph), the 2016 race winner, share the front row after posting the fastest speeds in qualifying last weekend. Bowman is making his first start as the full-time driver of the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, replacing the retired Dale Earnhardt Jr. Heralded third-year drivers Ryan Blaney and Chase Elliott start third and fourth, respectively, earning those positions by winning their Duel qualifying races on Thursday.
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The Rams went from 4-12 to 11-5 in McVay’s first season as they won the NFC West for the first time since 2003.

That year was also the last time the Rams had a winning record and the franchise snapped a streak of 10 straight losing seasons.

McVay was Washington’s offensive coordinator for three seasons before the Rams made him the NFL’s youngest-ever head coach. McVay, who turned 32 on Jan. 24, improved the NFL’s worst offense to a unit that led the league in scoring at 30 points per game.

The Rams had the second-highest margin of victory in the NFL (18.91), and posted 30-point-plus efforts against all three NFC West opponents in 2017. McVay also became the youngest head coach to lead a playoff team in NFL history.

Pederson received just one vote, however, as Vikings coach Mike Zimmer received 11 votes as the runner-up to McVay’s 35 votes. Jaguars coach Doug Marrone received two votes while Patriots coach Bill Belichick, whose team will face Pederson’s Eagles Sunday, also received one vote.

One of the most popular national anthem prop bets has to be the time length of the performance. Pink does boast quite a vocal range, but the odds of her breaking Alicia Keys’ near four-minute rendition in 2013 seem slim. Pink grew up about an hour outside of Philly and is a big Eagles fan, so uttering some sort of “Go Eagles” cheer or donning green apparel is a strong possibility.

The oddsmakers had to have something for Mr. Timberlake’s wardrobe in arguably the biggest concert of the year. The shoes prop bet seems a bit tough to guess, but betting on him wearing the hat, that shows a true gambler. Being that the Super Bowl is in Minneapolis, it would only seem right that they pay some sort of tribute to the Minnesota native and pop legend Prince, whether that’s sung by Timberlake or potentially a special guest. And speaking of special guests, could we see J.T. throw back all the way to his *NSYNC days with Lance Bass or Joey Fatone? Let’s hope not.bills_043