Everyone loves a big red zone target, but being big doesn’t mean you can hack it in the NFL.

Elite Mens Roger Maris Jersey “Personally, I would flip Lippett over and make him a corner,” NFL Network draft analyst Charles Davis said after watching Lippett at the Senior Bowl. “I wouldn’t even hesitate. I just think with his length, the league is dying to get corners that can go out and match up with the monster receivers that are out there, and I think that that would be a way to distinguish himself a little bit. And personally, I think his upside is better over there than it is being another one of these receivers.”

Everyone loves a big red zone target, but being big doesn’t mean you can hack it in the NFL.

From the moment he stepped on the court, Westbrook was a ball of kinetic energy, starting with blocking a Kyrie Irving layup attempt. In the second half, he went nuts with pull-up 3s, making three in a 31-second span in the third quarter. So while Westbrook didn’t become the first player ever to win three consecutive MVP awards, he does earn my highest grade.

Though he missed all three of his attempts from downtown, Hayward had a solid All-Star debut, scoring eight points and tying for game-high honors with four steals. Hayward’s alley-oop in transition set up one of Davis’ dunks.

Front offices and coaching staffs haven’t overlooked this, and any scouting department would be derelict of their duties if they weren’t out there looking for the next Richard Sherman to fall through the cracks.

Elite Mens Tyler Johnson Jersey Downplay it as he might, Stevens deserves to be here, too. He has quickly established himself as one of the best coaches in the league and did so under less-than-ideal roster turnover during the early part of his tenure.

Despite only playing for Quinn one season at Florida, Fowler said the team was running a version of his defense.

Reliever Brad Brach hands Orioles first arbitration loss in 22 years

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Reliever Brad Brach became the first player to beat the Baltimore Orioles in salary arbitration in 22 years, ending the team’s nine-hearing winning streak.

Brach was awarded $3.05 million instead of the team’s offer of $2,525,000 by arbitrators Edna Francis, Robert Herzog and Sylvia Skratek. The panel issued its decision, Friday, a day after hearing arguments.

Brad Brach’s 10-4 record, 2.05 ERA and career-high 71 appearances last season helped the reliever win his salary arbitration case against Baltimore.

A right-hander who turns 31 in April, Brach was 10-4 with a 2.05 ERA in a career-high 71 appearances last year and made $1.3 million. He struck out 92, also a career best, in 79 innings and had two saves.

Baltimore had not lost since its case against pitcher Ben McDonald in 1995. Orioles backup catcher Caleb Joseph lost his case this month and will get $700,000 rather than his $1 million request.

Players and teams have split 14 decisions this offseason. New York Yankees reliever Dellin Betances was the final case Friday, and the 15 hearings are the most since clubs won 10 of 16 decisions in 1994.

Game Youth Shea Weber Jersey A switch-hitter who led the Brewers in hits (168) and walks (79) last season, Villar is looking forward to the change.

“I focused more at second base this winter,” Villar said about his time in the Dominican winter league. “Craig Counsell told me I’ll play second, so I went there to practice second so I would be ready. I’m happy. Second base is good.”

The Brewers hope Jonathan Villar can make the transition to second base and still put up his team-leading numbers from 2016.

Villar said he prefers second over third base, where he played 42 games last season. He said he didn’t like not being able to see the signs and that throwing from second “is easy.”

Will Muschamp is digging out of the recruiting hole Steve Spurrier left him at South Carolina

South Carolina isn’t an easy place to recruit. The transcendent in-state talents of Jadeveon Clowney and Marcus Lattimore aren’t walking through that door most years, and the Gamecocks have to compete with national champion Clemson for the top local talent.

Transitional recruiting classes are already a unique beast that are tough enough to navigate in their own right. With all that being considered, Will Muschamp’s first class wasn’t all that bad in 2016. It finished ranked No. 25 in the 247Sports Composite, and that’s about par for the course for South Carolina recruiting classes. But keeping up with the Joneses is going to get tougher for Muschamp and the Gamecocks.

Clemson is elite and at the height of its powers, so have fun catching the Tigers in a race in which South Carolina is already running from behind.

Bayern Munich starting lineup (4-2-3-1): Manuel Neuer; David Alaba, Mats Hummels, Javi Martínez, Philipp Lahm; Arturo Vidal, Xabi Alonso; Douglas Costa, Thiago Alcantara, Arjen Robben; Robert Lewandowski.

This meeting seems like par for the course when you’re discussing a general manager performing due diligence. Similar to when a scout attends a certain game. More often than not it means the scout is simply performing his job, as opposed to the early signs of a big trade. We know for a fact that Bergevin is a very active hands-on type general manager.

As it turned out, they were right. Bergevin said the meeting was not about coaching changes, and that Therrien had suggested he meet with the players by himself.

It seems even more unlikely that the Saints would get in on the Jimmy Garoppolo trade sweepstakes

Jon Niese Mens Jersey He turned in one of the best statistical seasons of his career in 2016 but put his versatility on display while playing free safety late in the season. The Cardinals gave Swearinger a shot at career redemption, and Swearinger changed the perception of him around the league. Now it’s time for him to find a team where he can be an every-down safety, which he wasn’t in Arizona and may not be in 2017, depending on how well Tyvon Branch and Tyrann Mathieu return from injury and if the Cardinals re-sign Tony Jefferson. This is the offseason Swearinger can find a long-term home for himself.

Kurt Warner Mens Jersey I don’t know if Watson, Trubisky or Kizer will be enough to sway the Saints into using the No. 11 pick on a QB. All of them seem to come with disclaimers, and none is universally rated as a surefire top-10 pick among draft analysts. But quarterbacks always seem to scream up the charts and wind up going higher than initially projected by the time the draft rolls around. So the Saints might not even have a shot at Watson or Trubisky unless they trade up.

They could wait until Round 2 or 3 and draft someone such as Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes or Miami’s Brad Kaaya. Or they could ignore the position entirely in the draft, especially since they like McCown as their backup and still have Grayson as a developmental option.

It seems even more unlikely that the Saints would get in on the Jimmy Garoppolo trade sweepstakes (if the New England Patriots are willing to trade him at all). Perhaps Tampa Bay Buccaneers free agent Mike Glennon could be considered, since Sean Payton has talked in the past about how much the Saints liked Glennon coming out in the draft.

Morning Skate: The Bruins always hide bad news behind the Patriots

The Boston Bruins are the masters of burying bad news. By now, their PR strategy is clear as day: If you have a big move to make, you wait to make it until everyone in Boston is focused on something else.

You know, unless these are all a coincidence:
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2013: Bruins trade Tyler Seguin to Dallas in a blockbuster deal … on July 4. Interrupting picnics everywhere.

2015: Bruins fire GM Peter Chiarelli on April 15 … the same day Patriots player Aaron Hernandez is found guilty of murder. Newsdump of the year.

2017: Bruins fire franchise-best coach Claude Julien … the morning of the Patriots’ Super Bowl parade.

That single mom and pop pizza shop grew into the world’s largest carryout pizza chain, with restaurants in 20 countries and territories throughout the world. Success in the pizza business enabled Ilitch to invest in other businesses in food, sports and entertainment. All businesses are headquartered in the Detroit metropolitan area and will continue to thrive under family ownership, led by President and CEO of Ilitch Holdings, Inc., Christopher Ilitch.
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Happy Bill Belichick Day: Hiring him 17 years ago changed Patriots forever

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“Fans weren’t bowled over by the news,” read one headline when Bill Belichick was hired in 2000 as Patriots coach, but perhaps they’ve warmed to him.

Limited Cameron Artis-Payne Jersey But more than anything, the hoodie served as a reminder that Bill Belichick wanted to be defined as a coach. Always a coach. Only a coach. In the two-hour NFL Network documentary about Belichick during the 2009 season, he is hardly shown engaging in activities outside of football — most notably, on a boat during the summer and at a Halloween party dressed as a pirate — and it ends with him driving to work on a dark January morning after a playoff loss, lamenting about all of the life activities he misses due to his chosen profession as he also explains that he has a hard time imagining himself doing anything else. He then walks into the office with no game to prepare for, as much out of duty as out of habit, a train on the tracks.

The Falcons scored more points than any other team in the league and more than all but six teams in NFL history. They added 80 more points in their first two playoff games to roll into the Super Bowl.

At the center of all of this, obviously, was the quarterback, who led the league in passer rating, Total QBR and yards per attempt. Ryan completed 69.9 percent of his passes for a career-high 4,944 yards and a career-high 38 touchdown passes, against just seven interceptions. It wasn’t easy to win this award this season against the likes of Ezekiel Elliott, Tom Brady, Derek Carr and Aaron Rodgers. But Ryan was excellent from start to finish, and as a result, he’s not finished yet.

Was the kick in Crosby’s range?

It was the first game back for Jared Cook, who’d been out since Week 3 with an ankle injury. Now Cook, who was signed in the offseason, didn’t exactly light it up in those first three games of the season. He was targeted just 11 times and caught six passes for 53 yards and zero touchdowns.

But the tight end, in his eighth season, can line up anywhere, giving the Packers’ offense great flexibility and often forcing defenses to reveal their coverage. In Sunday’s playoff game against the Cowboys, Cook caught six passes for 103 yards.

When Cook made his return at Washington in November, it was the first time, Rodgers said, that things started to click.

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Crosby was left with a 56-yard field goal, having gone just 28-of-54 from 50-plus yards during his career. Was the kick in Crosby’s range? Yes, in the way that a 30-footer might still be considered to be in Klay Thompson’s range, even if he’s far less likely to make that shot than he would a 23-footer. Coaches often treat “field goal range” like a binary proposition, feeling safe once they get to a certain yard line, even though all kickers improve dramatically as you get closer to the end zone. The Packers did burn two Dallas timeouts, but they lost 3 yards while leaving 1:38 and one timeout on the clock for the Cowboys. They were in worse shape than they had been on first down.

As much as McCarthy makes mistakes, it’s more the way he runs through those decisions that is troubling. It’s one thing for McCarthy to throw out the challenge flag at the wrong time, as he did in 2012.

Demaryius Thomas signs 5-year, $70 million extension with Broncos

The Denver Broncos have officially signed wide receiver Demaryius Thomas to a long-term contract. Thomas will play on a five-year deal worth $70 million, with $43.5 million guaranteed, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.

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A new deal for Thomas came just before the Wednesday deadline for franchise-tagged players, despite reports earlier in the day that the two sides weren’t close to a contract. If he and the Broncos hadn’t agreed on a new contract before the deadline, Thomas would have been forced to play the 2015 season on a one-year franchise tender worth $12.823 million and wait instead for the 2016 season to get some long-term security.

Stabler’s Raiders head coach John Madden called his former quarterback “a perfect Raider.”
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“I was head coach of the Raiders the entire time Kenny was there and he led us to a whole bunch of victories including one in Super Bowl XI. I’ve often said, If I had one drive to win a game to this day, and I had a quarterback to pick, I would pick Kenny. Snake was a lot cooler than I was. He was a perfect quarterback and a perfect Raider. When you think about the Raiders you think about Ken Stabler. Kenny loved life. It is a sad day for all Raiders.”

Stabler was a second-round pick by the Raiders. He took over the starting job in 1973 and earned the first of four Pro Bowl appearances. In 1974, he was named NFL MVP after passing for 2,469 yards, 26 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.

Packers had Jordy Nelson but were missing much more in loss to Falcons

The Green Bay Packers had Jordy Nelson for their Week 8 regular-season game against Atlanta and still lost.

So it¡¯s worth wondering how they will fare in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game in Atlanta if they don¡¯t have Nelson, who according to a source is a long shot to play this week.

But here are a couple of factors to consider:
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They functioned just fine without Nelson last Sunday against Dallas, thanks in large part to the likes of Randall Cobb, Jared Cook and Ty Montgomery.

And in the regular-season meeting with the Falcons, they didn¡¯t have any one of those three available, yet still led in the final four minutes only to fall 33-32 on a last-minute touchdown.

You see, there’s another revealing moment in his book. It takes place in that same 1991 season, when during one game, Young didn’t see Jerry Rice open downfield for a touchdown. Mike Holmgren, the offensive coordinator at the time, asked why Young didn’t throw it to Rice. Young explained that, at 6-foot-1, he struggled to see over the linemen on deep routes. Holmgren replied that Rice was where he was supposed to be, and that Young needed to throw it anyway. Even if he couldn’t see Rice, Young needed to trust him. What’s more: Holmgren told Young that he would never be a great player until he learned to do so.

Nobody can imagine how risky, if not impossible, that task is to execute: to take all of the pressure of being a quarterback in the NFL, of replacing a future Hall of Famer, of trying to live up to the expectations of yourself and everyone else, to throw the ball to a guy you can’t see.

It was a leap of faith that Young could conceptualize only after he compared it to his actual faith. As a Mormon, Young wrote, he always “believed in things I couldn’t see.” Now, if he could believe in the “unseen on the football field it might be a solution to my predicament as a player.” So Young worked on throwing to windows, not receivers. It was not only a breakthrough. It not only simplified the game. It was a relief that only the greatest passers experience.

Limited Mens San Francisco 49ers Jersey Young coined a term for it: “Throwing blind.” That’s what all the quarterbacks termed it, until a generation later, when Matt Ryan, on the verge of a breakthrough himself, was mocked for adhering to the same ideology — only he referred to it by a slightly different name.

“Seeing spots,” he called it.

The Chiefs could make Berry the franchise player again, as he was in 2016

Can the Chiefs find a way to keep Berry? The veteran safety had one of his best NFL seasons. He ignited a fourth-quarter comeback in November against the Panthers with an interception and a spectacular return for a touchdown that included two spin moves on his way to the end zone. He was again a key figure in a win against the Falcons in December with his two interception returns.
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He is also their leader in the locker room. Everyone listens when Berry, a cancer survivor, speaks. He was the player who got in cornerback Marcus Peters’ face on the sideline with some clear advice after Peters inexplicably punted the ball into the stands and picked up a penalty after a fourth-quarter fumble recovery against the Panthers.

Matt Bowen, NFL writer: Yes, Rodgers is unique, a quarterback who takes over critical moments with his enormous and versatile skill set at the position. And that elevates the play of everyone around him.

All last week, the Packers faced the same question: Who would make up for the loss of Jordy Nelson? The answer turned out to be simple: Everyone.

Whether the Packers QB meant it as a show of confidence or not, his declaration joins memorable quotes from Rex Ryan, Joe Namath and more.
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John Clayton, senior NFL writer: When the Packers were 4-6, Rodgers looked human and coach Mike McCarthy had to defend his quarterback. Now, the football gods have blessed Rodgers with an incredible run, and he’s the baddest man on the planet — which fits someone with three Hail Mary completions over the past year and change.