Dwight Clark’s ashes buried next to goal post from The Catch


Dwight Clark has been laid to rest next to a memento from his most famous play.

Clark, the former 49ers wide receiver who died last month, was cremated and his ashes were buried next to the goal post from the Candlestick Park end zone where he made The Catch, the game-winning touchdown in the NFC Championship Game on January 10, 1982.

These men know each other’s games inside out, but if one of them has a surprise in store, it’s probably Nadal. He made great use of the drop shot in his win over del Potro, and he made a great case for continuing the tactic.

Sometimes is a good way to change the rhythm of the point against a player that hits so strong, Nadal said. Here on grass, if you make a good drop shot, is so difficult. Is very difficult to stop your legs when you arrive there. The second bounce goes down very, very quick.

Djokovic doesn’t hit as big a ball as del Potro, but as a great defender, he’s likely to be caught farther behind the baseline on more occasions. Stopping after a full-on sprint is equally difficult for all players. Don’t be surprised to see Nadal use the drop shot with some frequency.

There’s definitely momentum off of [2017], Kroft told the Cincinnati Enquirer. I think I’ve done a good job learning and understanding the offense as much as I can. Just the confidence level is up there and I think there is confidence between me and Andy [Dalton] and the coaching staff because Bill [Lazor] is still here and he saw it. It’s exciting.

With Eifert limited to two games in 2017, Kroft caught 42 passes for 404 yards and seven touchdowns. As tight ends go, that should be good enough to give him security. Even if his strategy isn’t to obsess over it.

It’s in the back of my head but I’m trying not to give it too much thought and try and control what I can control, Kroft said. That’s basically how I’ve been trying to think about it. Not get too excited or too down. You could just think of everything and overwhelm yourself pretty quickly. I’ve seen guys get in the tank real quick with just trying to figure it out. I’m trying not to give it too much thought.

The Ravens are toying with a 2-QB set with Lamar Jackson and Joe Flacco.


Baltimore wants to get the most out of its extraordinarily talented rookie quarterback.

Way back in the early 1950s, the Los Angeles Rams had a dynamic quarterback duo in Norm Van Brocklin and Bob Waterfield. Each made the Pro Bowl in 1950 and 1951, and split the passing duties close to equally.

In college, just 10 or so teams out of 130 are in the top tier of the recruiting world each year. The NFL wouldn’t be quite like that without a draft. I just figured that 17 of 32 teams would be in more or less the same position to convince the best of the best to play for them.

The ability to pay players would play a big role, as would the salary cap, depth charts, and relationships with coaches and GMs who change over time, just like college (except for the salary cap, usually).

Some have lots of history. Some don’t. Some are in cold-weather cities:

By the middle of the 2014 season, when RG3 is finally ready to return, the Browns have lost the magic. Griffin just isn’t the same player he was before he got hurt, and an impatient Haslam guts the team’s leadership. Meanwhile the FBI is breathing down his neck for a fuel rebate scam at his truck stop company that he totally, totally didn’t know about.

When the Rams announced they would trade the No. 2 pick, the Cleveland Browns and Miami Dolphins were also considered candidates. The Colts, now with the second overall pick, would likely also be in the running to move up to No. 1 for Luck.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter said the Browns offered as many as three first-round picks and a second-round pick, just like Washington, to try to get a deal done for Griffin. As owners of two first-round picks in 2012 — thanks to the trade in 2011 that landed Julio Jones with the Atlanta Falcons — the Browns are the only team that could offer four first-round picks without dipping into its 2015 draft picks.

We’ve got a new update on Andrew Luck and his ability to throw a football! Luck was at a charity event this weekend and throwing (bad) passes at kids. You need to watch for yourself.

Brett Favre, George Blanda, Paul Krause, and Night Train Lane have interception records that can’t be topped.

There were 430 interceptions during the 2017 NFL regular season. It was the third consecutive year that saw fewer than 450 passes picked off — the only three seasons ever under that mark, aside from a strike-shortened 1982 season.

The Packers’ defense was actually quite good that year


With a competent offense, that team could have made another run at a Super Bowl, but Nelson’s injury (and subsequent injuries to Randall Cobb and Davante Adams) sapped any big-play ability that the offense had. As it was, the Packers won one playoff game, beating Washington before falling in Arizona despite Rodgers’ and Jeff Janis’ Hail Mary antics, but a deeper run would have been feasible with a healthy 87.

In addition, there’s no way that the Packers pick up an extra first-round pick in 2019 if they were holding a first-round pick in the low 20s this April instead of at 14.

We will never know the answers to the hypotheticals about the coaching staff and front office, but if the Packers are back to being a bona fide Super Bowl contender in 2018, the frustrations and struggles of last season may prove to have been the best thing for the team in the long run.

These are just a few lingering questions from the past few years, but we encourage you to propose your own in the comments.

Another highlight was more tantalizing, and more fleeting: the debut of Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson. In his six starts, he was electric and quickly found himself on pace to shatter the NFL rookie touchdown record. Then, cruelly, an ACL tear robbed him of his rightful heir to the Offensive Rookie of the Year throne. But the promise he showed — and the history he made in that brief time — was enough for us to breathlessly count down the days until we can watch him on a football field again.

Now imagine we didn’t get a chance to see either a year ago. It could have happened, if Romo hadn’t decided to retire last April.

That there is Derek Dooley, the former Tennessee head coach.

Dooley went to the Cowboys ahead of the 2013 season, after a 15-21 run in Knoxville that led to his firing after three seasons. The Volunteers’ recruiting tanked near the end of his tenure, so much that the program didn’t produce a single NFL draft pick in 2015 or 2016.

After five years in North Texas, Dooley is back in college in 2018. He’ll be Missouri’s offensive coordinator under head coach Barry Odom.

He has a big job in front of him. Mizzou might be the second-best team in the SEC East, and he’s replacing a coordinator, Josh Heupel, who got the UCF head job on the strength of a great second half of 2017. In his new job, Dooley’s also the guy in charge of quarterback Drew Lock, a potential first-round pick. The schedule includes some stingy defenses.

With Calvin Ridley signing his four-year deal with the Falcons, 15 drafted players remain unsigned.


Eleven of those are first-round choices, including the top four overall picks. In fact, only three of the top-10 picks have signed.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. The commissioner has reportedly offered some advice to his owners ahead of the next lockout in 2020. The New York Post reported that Bettman has addressed/lectured the Board of Governors on the topic of signing bonuses for the lockout season; as in, stop giving them out. The last time Bettman discouraged a contractual practice, the teams went ahead and handed out cap-circumventing contracts that had to be retroactively punished in the 2012 CBA. With players like Logan Couture, Drew Doughty and others looking to ink new deals ahead of hitting free agency, let’s see how much sway Bettman had here.

Just like a year ago, Buffalo has a win total of 6.5 entering 2018, the lowest among the 12 playoff teams from last season. Can the Bills avoid a slow start? They are currently not favored in a game until Week 9 against the Bears.

The last team beside the Patriots to win the AFC East was Miami in 2008; the Dolphins entered that season with 25-1 odds to win the division. Miami’s odds to win the AFC East are just 8-1 in 2018, but the win total is an underwhelming 6.5.

After entering last season with a win total of 3.5, the Jets actually exceeded expectations by going 5-11. The bar has been raised a little for New York, which will need to win seven games in order to cash the over this season. The franchise has thrived in this spot, having hit the over in six of the previous seven seasons it entered with a win total less than eight.

Deja, who is 10 months younger than Marquise, has cerebral palsy. Marquise has called her his inspiration.

There are going to be winners and losers. There are going to be general managers that will be praised for inaction and demonized for reaches. There are going to be players congratulated for smart moves and decried for being overpaid.

Cap space, impending free agents, dream and nightmare scenarios and more for every club.

The free-agency frenzy gets started Sunday. Which players will be a smart buy? Who is a major risk?

Who will land John Tavares? Which team will win free agency? On whom would we issue a buyer beware warning? Our panel dives in.

NBA free agency rumors: Mario Hezonja signing with Knicks


The Knicks are signing Mario Hezonja.

New York and the 23-year-old wing agreed to a one-year, $6.5 million contract Sunday, according to a report from ESPN. The Trail Blazers, Kings and Grizzlies were also interested in Hezonja the report says.

Hezonja averaged a career-high 9.6 points and 3.7 rebounds per game for the Magic last season. But, he shot just 33.7 percent from 3-point range.

Physically, how would you compare the three of you?

Mewhort: I think it’s very cool because I’m one year in, Anthony is four years in and Todd is 10 years in… three generations of linemen in the NFL. We all take great care of our bodies, but Anthony is always the guy who wants to be the in-shape lineman. Todd is laid-back but takes very good care of his body, considering he’s been 10 years in the league. I try to mimic what they do. Todd has had such longevity, and Anthony has played at such a high level for a long time, so I’m trying to find out what their routines are and what they do to maintain their bodies.

Houston is expected to match any offer Capela receives. It has reportedly re-signed point guard Chris Paul to a four-year, $160 million deal.

The Lakers could land LeBron James in free agency this summer and have been discussing a potential deal for disgruntled Spurs star Kawhi Leonard, according to multiple reports. They have also reportedly spoken with center DeMarcus Cousins.

Unlike the Rockets and Celtics, the Lakers don’t have to make any moves to sign James outright, so they’d have the option of entering next season with a core of LeBron, Ball, Ingram and Kyle Kuzma. However, they are also in a unique position to sign two All-Stars this offseason, such as James and Paul George, opening up the possibility of trading away some of their younger assets (for Kawhi Leonard, perhaps?) to build a team that’s better prepared to compete while LeBron is still in his prime.

Either way, the Lakers can offer James an opportunity to play for one of the most storied franchises in the league (with Magic Johnson now calling the shots) — and one that is in good shape to build a championship contender around him.

Michal Kempny re-signs with Capitals


Defenseman Michal Kempny has re-signed with the Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals for $10 million over four years, it was announced Friday.

The champion Capitals have re-signed forward Devante Smith-Pelly, who played a career-high 75 games last season, to a one-year deal worth $1 million.

Washington picked up Kempny from the Chicago Blackhawks at the trade deadline for a 2018 third-round draft pick.

That first year was actually a humbling experience, because I thought I would be able to go in and lean on my athletic ability a bit more. But learning the ins and outs and stuff that has to do with football offensive formations as a defensive player, and all the different packages, I could go on and on about that. It’s basically a lot to learn. It was hard. You play rugby there are 15 guys on the field and you don’t sub [out].

Couture was a first-round pick by San Jose in 2007 and has said he never wants to leave the franchise. He has developed into one of the Sharks’ top forwards since making his debut in 2009 and is coming off a career-high 34-goal season.

Couture, 29, was San Jose’s most dependable center last season, often matching up against the opponent’s top line and providing plenty of offense of his own from the second line. Couture had 27 assists and was a major part of the power-play and penalty-killing units.

He has 213 goals and 224 assists in 582 career games. He also has been a postseason standout, leading the NHL with 30 points in 2016 when he helped the Sharks reach the Stanley Cup Final for the first time; they lost to Pittsburgh in six games.

The Falcons were pressed up against the cap this offseason, which caused starting nose tackle Dontari Poe to join the Carolina Panthers in free agency.


For the most part, third-round picks aren’t supposed to be immediate starters in the NFL. However, either Senat or post-draft signing Terrell McClain will be starting at nose for Atlanta’s defense.

Since their hands were tied, they’ll now have to rely on a mid-round rookie or a late free-agent signing to address the position.

A bit of a one-year wonder in a Group of Five conference, Senat has not spent years dominating against NFL-caliber offensive linemen like the other starters on the defensive line do. If he wins the job, he may have to take some bumps and bruises early.

As a rookie, Shaq Lawson had to recover from shoulder surgery before setting foot on an NFL field in late October. Last year, he finished the season on injured reserve after suffering an ankle injury in early December.

First of all, he’s super smart, quarterback Jared Goff told NFL Network analyst Willie McGinest on Wednesday’s edition of NFL Total Access. He knows what he’s doing. At the same time, though, I think he’s got absolutely no ego and is just trying to help us win.

Obviously he’s done a tremendous job so far, and so far this offseason you’ve seen his want to push it even further. And we’re right there with him. It’s an exciting time.

It’s no secret that McVay is exceptionally bright. When Dan Orlovsky arrived at Rams training camp last summer, the former Lions backup quarterback recently relayed on Good Morning Football, he turned to Goff and said, Bud, you have no idea how lucky you are. This guy’s brilliant.

The key that unlocks the Holy Grail of championship-level football is a quarterback possessed of coach-like powers of perception at the line of scrimmage. Going back nearly a full century to the golden days of Notre Dame’s fabled Four Horsemen backfield, legendary coach Knute Rockne had established the platonic ideal of offense with quarterback Joe Stuhldreher functioning as the head coach’s alter ego out on the gridiron.

the Yankees were 10 wins short of the pace of this year’s club with a 40-32 record after 72 games.


Last season’s Yankees also went through a few tailspins, some lengthy. They were 38-23 at one point, then lost seven in a row and nine of 10. They also lost eight of 12 from Aug. 1-13 and dropped five of seven from Aug. 24-30.

The 2018 Yankees still haven’t lost three in a row, which might be their most amazing stat considering we’re now officially into summer.

We’re strong, catcher Austin Romine said. It’s no secret that we’re strong. We’re pretty deep one through nine in the lineup and the bullpen’s been lights out for us and the starters have been giving up six-seven innings every time they’re going there. You can’t really ask for much more when it’s all rolling.

I think it just speaks to what we believe our team is capable of, and the confidence these guys have no matter who the opponent is.

The Yankees to a man said in spring training that they were hungry to achieve more this year than the 2017 club, and thus far we’re seeing focus, determination and talent coming out almost every day.

We know where we rank in the league and we’re excited about it, Romine said. Every day we come to the field, we expect to win.

I knew quickly during my interview and visit to Piscataway that this is the community, family and program I want to be a part of, Butler said in a release announcing her hire. Pat’s vision, enthusiasm and goals for the softball program and the athletic department are what inspired and encouraged me to take the position. I’m excited to be a Scarlet Knight and to join the Big Ten, where a top-of-the-line academic experience is just as important as the high level of competition.

Associate head coach Jay Miller had been serving as Rutgers’ interim head coach following Nelson’s dismissal, but his status with the program going forward is unknown at this point. Butler’s husband, Marcus, has extensive softball experience and is expected to serve as a volunteer assistant on the Rutgers staff. The couple has two young children.

We are proud to announce Kristen Butler as the next leader of Rutgers softball, Hobbs said. Kristen is a proven program builder, but what most impresses me are the countless reports of best-in-class student-athlete experience under her guidance. She was a decorated student-athlete and a standout professional, so the young women at Rutgers are in great hands.

Kristen Butler led Toledo to a 35-23 finish this past spring, her fourth as head coach. It was the Rockets’ first winning season since 1996, and their first 30-win season since 1995. Toledo won a share of the Mid-American Conference West Division title, its first league championship since 1992, and played in the National Invitational Softball Championship, college softball’s version of the NIT.

Will Gholston slimmed down after awful 2017 season


The Buccaneers made a commitment to defensive end Will Gholston in 2017 by signing him to a five-year, $27.5 million extension, but the 2013 fourth-round pick did little to make that look like a wise decision.

Gholston had no sacks and four tackles for loss while playing a prominent role on a defense that struggled in all phases during what Gholston aptly describes as an awful, crappy year. Among the ways Gholston is trying to turn that around is by playing at a lighter weight.

Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter said that the team thought Gholston was too heavy last year and Gholston agreed with that assessment.

As for his message to the team before it broke camp, Shurmur said It’s not time off, it’s time away.

We’re always talking to them about being a good citizen, and we say New York Giants pride for a reason, Shurmur said. So, be very smart. Be good husbands, good fathers and be good citizens. … I think it’s just part of something we do and we encourage them to do the right thing in every area of their life.

If there was ever a question the Yankees would chase starting pitching before the trade deadline, owner Hal Steinbrenner stomped it out.

Steinbrenner told reporters it was a need and that it would be an area general manager Brian Cashman and his scouts would be looking at while at the Major League Baseball owners meetings in Manhattan on Wednesday.

Expect Blue Jays lefty J.A. Happ to get consideration.

The season gets so long, and it can be very demanding, especially in times of struggle, Davidson said. So we just try to get away from it a little bit and have some fun.

On the Cubs, Ben Zobrist and three of his close friends have a podcast called Show and Go, named after how they approach each episode.

Basically we’re just showing up with the topic, and we’re like, ‘How are we going to talk about it?’ Zobrist said.

Saints, Chargers to practice together again this summer


The Saints and Chargers held joint practices ahead of a preseason game last year and it went well enough that the two sides will be doing so again this summer.

Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports that the two teams will work out together ahead of their August 25 game in Los Angeles. The two teams will hold their practices on August 23 and 24 at the Chargers’ facility in Costa Mesa.

Jenkins has become the public face of the Players Coalition, a group of NFL players seeking solutions to social and political challenges facing African Americans. The 30-year-old was a key part of the NFL’s decision to spend up to $89 million over seven years on grassroots initiatives to fight racial inequality and social injustice.

Defensive end Chris Long and tight end Zach Ertz lambasted Fox News after the network used photos of Philadelphia players in prayer during a segment about anthem protests. The network later apologized for the error.

Green, who died in July 2016 at the age of 67 due to complications from cardiac arrest, coached the Vikings from 1992 through 2001. He complied a 101-70 record over 10 seasons and finished with the second-most wins in franchise history behind former coach Bud Grant (178).

Dennis Green’s impact on the Minnesota Vikings, and really the entire NFL, is still felt to this day, Vikings president Mark Wilf said in a statement. In addition to being widely regarded as one of the NFL’s top coaches, Denny was also known as a great mentor and leader by all who had the fortune of being in his presence. We’re extremely honored to forever memorialize Denny and his family in the Vikings Ring of Honor and we’re looking forward to the induction in September.

Relentless. Relentless in every form of the word. So relentless mindset, relentless physicality, relentless effort. A guy that when he leaves the building, he’s always trying to still prove himself. When he leaves the building, he’s gonna make sure that all of his t’s are crossed and his i’s are dotted. And he’s not gonna leave any margin for error for his game.

A guy that when he goes out and plays the game, he’s not worried about a call, he’s not worried about overthinking it, he’s worried about when the ball is snapped, playing as hard and fast as he can, as long as he can.