Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes says ‘next step is the Super Bowl’

If Chiefs fans were worried that the team would take a step back this season with Patrick Mahomes replacing Alex Smith at quarterback, well, Mahomes is having none of it.

They’re getting contributions from four widely available players who warrant your Week 5 lineup consideration, the first in ESPN standard leagues and the rest generally in larger-than-12-team mixed: Jeimer Candelario (68.3 percent available), who has started 47 of the past 51 regular-season Tigers games and batted .308/.382/.508 during that time span; Leonys Martin (78.8 percent), the team’s leadoff hitter in all but two games; James McCann (91.8), who has started 17 of the Tigers’ 23 games at catcher; JaCoby Jones (95.5), a .324/.333/.618 hitter in his past nine games; Victor Martinez (96.8), the team’s typical No. 5 hitter; and Jose Iglesias (98.8), a .349 hitter (15-for-43) in his past 11 games. That’s especially the case with the team set to face opponents with bottom-10 pitching staffs thus far in the Tampa Bay Rays and Kansas City Royals.

The Boston Red Sox should feast upon weak Royals pitching to open the week, and they’ll conclude Week 5 with a four-game trip to Texas’ hitting-friendly Globe Life Park. While Red Sox hitters are generally obvious fantasy plays in any week, this should be one of their brighter weeks on offense overall.

It’s hard to believe Watt is better than all those players, but he has dominated like few defensive players ever have. To get that productive of a 3-4 end outside of the top 10 gives the Texans the best pick in the past 17 drafts.

Just coming … with the recent past that we’ve had with and the two back-to-back AFC West champions, the next step is the Super Bowl, Mahomes said. So, for us, that is the only goal that we’re going for is to get to the Super Bowl and try to win it, and for us, every single day in these OTAs and the offseason is come in, work out and that’s kind of been our mind-set. We say every time we break it down: know what you’re working for, and for us, it’s to work to get to that Super Bowl, and we brought a lot of the pieces back — now it’s time to take that next step and get there.

Smith said that Chiefs teammates like tight end Travis Kelce and running back Kareem Hunt have raved about Mahomes. Kellerman asked why expectations are so high for Mahomes, who has played in just one game.orioles_016

NFL free agency news: Eagles, WR Mike Wallace agree to 1-year deal

The Eagles have every intention of returning to the Super Bowl next season, as made clear by a bevy of offseason moves that includes the signing of veteran wide receiver Mike Wallace on Thursday.

Wallace, 31, caught 124 passes for 1,765 yards and eight touchdowns in two seasons in Baltimore. Prior to his stint with the Ravens, Wallace made a name for himself as a deep threat with top-end speed in Pittsburgh, Miami and Minnesota. He has three seasons of 1,000 receiving yards or more, and 19 of his 57 career touchdowns have been 40 yards or longer.

They won’t be watching the scoreboard Wednesday night, either.

“We can’t anticipate them helping us,” Devin Harris said. “We dug ourselves into this hole; we’ve got to dig ourselves out.”

“We wouldn’t want it any other way,” said Gary Harris, who returned from an 11-game absence with 12 points. “If we win we’re in.”

NFL owners will consider that and other issues at next week’s annual owners meeting in Orlando.

One might think that the NFL could accommodate that request, but the league has several other factors to consider, including its TV partners. It’s worth noting the league’s 4 p.m. starts generally boast much higher ratings than 1 p.m. starts, although that’s partly a function of there being fewer games in the late slot, and there is usually a marquee matchup at that time.

Forsberg scored on a snap shot at 11:04. Then he got his 26th goal of the season just before the buzzer for a 3-0 lead with a shot from the right circle that went off the post and then Korpisalo into the net. Officials reviewed the play, which crossed at 0.4 seconds before the end of the period.

With Korpisalo pulled, Forsberg got the hat trick with an empty-net goal with 39.4 seconds left as fans celebrated by tossing the giveaway visors onto the ice.

Forsberg tied his career high with 64 points and also became Nashville’s scoring leader for the regular season with Viktor Arvidsson (61 points) scratched.cardinals_087

Tom Gores to meet with Stan Van Gundy to discuss Pistons’ future

Tom Gores, owner of the Detroit Pistons, said he’s undecided about Stan Van Gundy’s future with the franchise.

“I wouldn’t make a decision without Stan,” Gores said at halftime of Monday night’s 108-98 loss to the Toronto Raptors. “He’s been our partner for four years.”

Gores said changes need to be made because the team isn’t winning enough, adding that none will happen until he speaks with Van Gundy. The two are expected to meet next week.

The Pistons made a major move trying to shake up their lackluster franchise by sending players and a first-round pick to the LA Clippers for Griffin. The trade didn’t pan out this season, and Griffin will have to produce a lot to live up to the $171 million, five-year deal he signed with the Clippers last summer. Griffin has been out with an injured right ankle, following a recent pattern in his career in which he struggled to stay healthy.

Gores defended the deal, saying the franchise now has a superstar. He also said Van Gundy didn’t make the move without input from him.

“There’s not a big move that Stan made without me,” Gores said.

Taillon’s current locker in the Pittsburgh clubhouse, by the way, is the one formerly occupied by both Burnett and Cole. Though the 26-year-old right-hander is quick to brush off suggestions there’s some meaning to the move, his performance on the field so far has been ace-worthy.

“He attacked our lineup and didn’t make many mistakes and we didn’t do much offensively at all,” Reds manager Bryan Price said.

Gregory Polanco keyed a four-run outburst against Mahle in the fifth by drilling a shot to the seats in right field for his third homer of the season. Corey Dickerson added his first home run since being acquired in a trade with Tampa Bay in February.

The day, however, belonged to Taillon. The former first-round pick was solid during his rookie season in 2016 but missed time last year after being diagnosed with testicular cancer last May. He returned after a five-week absence and struggled during the second half as Pittsburgh fell out of contention.

Still, Hurdle cautioned, “It’s April.”
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Falcons hire two defensive assistant coaches

The Falcons start their offseason program next Monday and they’ll have a couple of new coaches on the defensive side of the ball when the players report for work.

The team announced the addition of assistant defensive line coach Travis Jones and defensive quality control assistant Aden Durde on Monday.

Jones comes to Atlanta from Seattle, where he worked with current Falcons head coach Dan Quinn in 2013 and 2014. Jones was the defensive line coach with the Seahawks from 2013-2016 and a senior defensive assistant last year. Jones also worked with Quinn in Miami in 2005 and 2006 when Quinn was the defensive line coach for the Dolphins.

Durde previously worked in football development for NFL UK and spent time with the Cowboys as a coaching intern in 2014.

“We love the game. That’s why we go on these bus trips,” the coach said. “We have to be there for each other and grieve and support this community. And we need to make sure we are grateful and enjoy every time we step on the ice.”

The $2.5 billion benchmark — which would set a record for an American sports franchise — was more than he was prepared to bid, according to the report, pegging his offer between $2.0 billion and $2.2 billion.

That leaves South Carolina financier Ben Navarro and Canadian steel magnate Alan Kestebaum. The report says Navarro is believed to have offered $2.6 billion, though there remain questions about the financing of his bid. Richardson’s going to take whichever offer he wants, though the sale would have to be approved by 24 of 32 owners.

The goal has been to wrap up the sale in the next few weeks, so owners could vote on the sale at the May meetings.

Roseman, with the help of his strong scouting department, has done just that. An example is a pair of 2016 picks in starting corner Jalen Mills (seventh round) and offensive tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai (fifth round). The latter was thrust into the starting left tackle spot after Pro Bowler Jason Peters was lost to a midseason knee injury. Vaitai improved in that role as the year progressed.
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David Johnson “motivated” after missing most of last season

David Johnson returns fully healed from his fractured left wrist — “all back together” — but the injury left a chip on the running back’s shoulder.

“I’m very motivated,” Johnson said, via Josh Weinfuss of ESPN. “Not really just about the people out there, but it’s really about myself and coming back for the team, for my teammates, for the coaches with everything being so new.

Tyrod Taylor (82 Overall) will act as a serviceable bridge QB until the rookie the Browns draft is ready. Taylor’s 88 Speed, 87 Throw on the Run and 91 Throw Power will help Cleveland generate some big plays on offense. The acquisition of Jarvis Landry (88 Overall) gives the Browns a legit receiving threat from the slot, and while Carlos Hyde (83 Overall) is a solid performer at running back, he could end up sharing time with Saquon Barkley.

Trading away Marcus Peters hurts, but the Chiefs managed to fill his position with an above-average replacement, and they upgraded at several other spots.

Moving from Alex Smith (86 Overall) to Patrick Mahomes (76 Overall) at quarterback is risky because of the unknown, but Mahomes has a much stronger arm and is a better athlete. Wide receiver Sammy Watkins (82 Overall) could see a resurgence if he can take advantage of downfield opportunities. Kendall Fuller (84 Overall) steps in at corner, as does Anthony Hitchens (83 Overall) at linebacker.

Jahzi McCree’s injunction accuses Marlon McCree of verbal and physical abuse dating to 2008.

Marlon McCree, 41, played for five teams in eight NFL seasons. The Jaguars drafted the safety in the seventh round in 2001, and he later served as an assistant coach with Jacksonville.

The player generating the most excitement lately is rookie shooting guard Josh Hart, who’s coming off back-to-back 20-point games for the first time this season.

Hart had 20 points and 10 rebounds in a 113-96 loss to the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night, and then came back with 25 points on 10-of-18 shooting in a 112-97 loss to the Utah Jazz on Sunday.
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Lions sign Matt Cassel as Matt Stafford’s backup

The well-traveled Matt Cassel will make his next stop in Detroit.

The Lions are signing Cassel to serve as Matthew Stafford‘s backup, NFL Network reports.

Cassel spent the last two seasons in Tennessee and started one game each year. Prior to that he was in Dallas, Buffalo, Minnesota, Kansas City and New England.

In Detroit, Cassel joins a quarterback room that includes both Stafford and 2016 sixth-round pick Jake Rudock, as well as camp arm Alek Torgersen. The No. 2 quarterback competition will likely come down to a training camp competition between Cassel and Rudock.

“I’m gonna work on the little things like some of my reads in the run game and things just before the play even starts making sure I know what I’ve got to do in receiving and in pass (blocking),” said Hunt, who also caught 53 passes for 455 yards and three touchdowns last year. “I feel like there are some times during the middle of the season that I left some yards out there.”

Hunt did give himself the chance to reflect on the positives of his first NFL season by returning to Mobile for acceptance of the Senior Bowl’s Rookie of the Year award. Hunt said his 118-yard rushing performance in that all-star college game provided a huge boost to his draft stock.

Jones took over as the team’s starting center after Weston Richburg was hurt last season and is set to remain in the role now that Richburg has gone to the 49ers as a free agent. Jones started 13 games overall for the Giants last season and came to the team in 2015 after two successful seasons with the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League.

O’Malley joined the Giants in December after stints with the Raiders and Bills. He appeared in one game with the Giants and also played one game for Oakland in 2016.

“There is still another level we know he can go to but we really had a need to get some length out of our starter today and Chris provided that, kept us engaged in the game,” manager Buck Showalter said.

Orioles: OF Colby Rasmus (left hip flexor strain) was placed on the 10-day disabled list. … Mark Trumbo (right quad strain) was expected to play first base in an extended spring training game.texans_004

Le’Veon Bell: It’s hard to be a hero in a city that paints you as a villain

The Steelers say Le’Veon Bell will play in Pittsburgh in 2018, but he sounds like he doesn’t think he’s getting a fair shake there.

It doesn’t make a ton of sense for the Dolphins to give up on Tannehill just yet. Tannehill’s season-wrecking knee injury last August has had the effect of wiping away the memory of his very good 2016 season, a career-best campaign that showed he had the goods to play in an Adam Gase offense. Gase bemoaned the absence of his top passer this week in Orlando during an appearance on the Around The NFL Podcast, pointing out that he’s 33 games in and [Tannehill’s] played 13. Gase explained that Tannehill’s future has not been a conversation piece for the Dolphins.

I don’t think we really had much discussion, he said. We knew he was going to be our guy. We felt like we had made really big strides [in 2016] where if he stayed healthy, I’m not really sure how much better we would’ve got. That Arizona game was one of his best games of the year and unfortunately he got hurt. We were looking forward to seeing what would have happened.

Could it be a smokescreen Of course. But to me, it sounded like Gase believes he has a quarterback and wants to see what’s possible with a fully healthy Tannehill. Given that the Dolphins have serious needs on both sides of the ball, the top of their draft will likely be focused elsewhere.

In a negotiation, you never lead with the bottom-line offer you’re willing to accept; you shoot higher and leave room for compromise to ensure you get what you need at minimum — especially if demand justifies a greater ask.

The Giants’ new publicized asking price is steep, though, even for a player as talented as Beckham.

That’s a lot to give up, one NFL coach told the Daily News on Wednesday.

Because while OBJ is a world-class talent, the GM who hypothetically wins this sweepstakes will have to sign Beckham to a lucrative, long-term contract extension with significant guaranteed money on top of parting with the draft assets it takes to acquire him from the Giants. The GM will also be taking the risk of that investment — which clearly gives the Giants significant pause — off their hands.

Pat Shurmur: Odell Beckham on hand, “wants to be great”

Pat Shurmur hasn’t talked to wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. yet today, but he has confirmed that he’s on the property as the Giants begin their offseason conditioning program.

And that’s no small step.

Which means this saga will continue to unfold, one day at a time, until Beckham gets a contract or a new address.

Ohtani’s four-seam fastball is also pretty darned good: He has thrown it 44 percent of the time and averaged 97.1 mph with it, which is the third-fastest average thus far behind only Severino’s (97.6 mph) and Noah Syndergaard’s (97.5). Ohtani has recorded 13 of his 39 outs, four of them strikeouts, with the four-seamer while affording only three singles and two well-hit balls in play. Toss in an above-average slider (21 percent usage) and curveball (3 percent) and Ohtani’s collection of offerings is already one of the most diverse in the game. It’s somewhat similar to Masahiro Tanaka’s, except that Ohtani throws his fastball considerably harder than the New York Yankees right-hander.

Averett’s emergence is a testament to hard work, perseverance and the luxury of having someone who specializes in secondary play serving as a mentor. A defensive back at Kent State in the early 1970s, Saban began coaching the position at the college level several years later. Even as he climbed the coaching ranks, Saban continued to work hands-on with his cornerbacks.

The fruits of Saban’s labor are reflected in the draft. Six CBs from Alabama — including four first-rounders — have gotten picked since Saban became head coach in 2007. Averett will be the seventh even though he took an unconventional path.

“He saw me as a corner,” Averett told co-host Solomon Wilcots and me on SiriusXM NFL Radio. “He wanted me to start from the ground up and just teach me everything when it came down to schemes and coverages.”texans_020

Cam Jordan hints Saints should draft Lamar Jackson

While some may assume Cam Jordan is hoping the New Orleans Saints give him some pass-rush help through the draft, the All-Pro defensive end wouldn’t mind developing on the other side of the ball. Jordan joined NFL Network’s Up to the Minute on Friday to discuss a variety of topics surrounding the Saints offseason including what they should do with the 27th overall pick. Jordan mentioned Penn State tight end Mike Gesicki and LSU pass-rusher Arden Key as potential targets before alluding to a certain Heisman-winning quarterback.

Head coach Sean Payton told ESPN’s Mike Triplett earlier in the week that he has also been impressed with Jackson and clarified that the team isn’t looking for a Drew Brees clone to replace their starter. I like (Jackson). He’s athletic. He’s got a magic smile to him. He’s a leader, Payton said. With Lamar, you feel it in the room and you can tell he can lead…. He’s a special guy. You just have to be around him, interview him, and you can see why he was successful.

There’s always enough snaps. The Rams reportedly offered a first-round pick for the receiver this week, while Gary Myers of the New York Daily News reported Tuesday that Beckham told a couple of Rams players he was hoping to play in Los Angeles. Gurley, of course, denied he was one of these players. Hmm, I don’t want to say all that, he said. That’s my boy. The Rams currently have Goff on a cheap rookie contract, and cap flexibility since they haven’t yet extended many star players, so Beckham rumors could continue into draft season.

The 28-year-old hit a league-high 59 homers and drove in 132 RBI while winning the National League MVP award.

Is it hard to just not think about the past

It just depends, Stanton said. If you have the mental strength to have a season like he did last year, then it shouldn’t be too difficult. But at the same time, a guy like that wants to be the best and pull the best out of himself. It’s a happy medium there. patriots_322-223x223

That lone pick was a Dak Prescott throw he took 103 yards back to the house, so the wheels are still there.

Kansas City already lost outfielder Lorenzo Cain to Milwaukee in free agency, but how the team will perform in 2018 and go about its future still hangs in the balance here in mid-February as we wait for decisions on stalwart Royals infielders Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas.

There are certainly signs of decline from Talib, who had a particularly rough game against Alshon Jeffery when the Broncos played the Eagles last season, but he’s still an above-average cornerback as he enters his age-32 campaign.

At two years and $19 million, the Rams aren’t paying an exorbitant amount for Talib at his current level of play, since the going rate for solid 1A cornerbacks in free agency these days is $10 million per season.

If Les Snead restructures Talib’s deal and adds guaranteed money after this season, I would be a little concerned, but this is a logical acquisition for the Rams.

The Dodgers aren’t sporting a roster that will leave a lot of room for anyone new to crack the depth chart, but Verdugo might be the guy to do it. The 21-year-old was good enough as a pitcher and hitter as an amateur to warrant questions about how he would be drafted, but thus far Verdugo has rewarded the Dodgers’ decision to select him as a batter.

The 2014 second rounder has mashed at every level, and if given the opportunity it’s reasonable to expect that he will do the same in the majors. Last season, Verdugo had only a handful of plate appearances, and he may not have impressed in that stretch, but his mature approach and above-average hit tool will make for a quality major league hitter.

His two-year, $10 million deal is essentially backup money, so assuming the Bills use their two first-round picks to trade up in the draft to grab a quarterback, McCarron’s contract won’t preclude Buffalo from keeping him on the roster as a backup in 2019.

Of course, the Bills might also be paying a premium for a passer who isn’t much better than replacement-level. ravens_178