June 2018

Facing two misdemeanor charges, Chris McCain vehemently denies committing battery. In fact, the Colts defensive end told Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star that he has never heard of the woman identified as the alleged victim.

She is lying, McCain told Holder.

McCain said he has no knowledge of the incident and was unaware the case existed until hearing news reports Tuesday.

Whiteside vs. Embiid, if/when he plays. If Whiteside wants to make a statement, he may get his chance in Round 1. It’s tough to predict given Embiid’s injury issues, but this big-man battle would greatly impact this series in the paint, and likely Twitter after the game.

One word: Giannis. The Greek Freak is one of the most exciting players in basketball and watching him perform on a playoff stage will be fun. On top of that, Jabari Parker is out to prove he can still be a dominant player in the biggest games of the year. He will be a restricted free agent this summer, and the Bucks have to decide whether they want to lock him up as part of their future. How he performs in the postseason will likely have some impact on negotiations later this summer.

Washington already has one of the best pass-catching running backs in the NFL in Chris Thompson, who had 39 catches for 510 yards and four receiving touchdowns in 10 games last season.

If Guice proves himself as a receiver as well, that’s going to be great news for new quarterback Alex Smith.

Don’t let the Wizards put a spell on you. Only Golden State has generated more shots off cuts to the basket than Washington this season.

This will be Washington’s fourth playoff appearance in five seasons, and even though the Wizards have advanced out of the first round in each trip, that’ll be a daunting task this time. A first-round exit would leave a very bitter taste and force the team to ponder its direction, an uncomfortable position given that its core is locked up long-term. Success is a first-round upset and being competitive in Round 2, though that would ultimately be a replay of recent postseason runs.

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Who wouldn’t? Gronkowski said when asked about wanting a new deal.

Gronkowski, 29, is scheduled to make $8 million in base salary this season. He has outplayed the eight-year, $54 million extension he signed with the Patriots in 2012.

Last May, New England added $5.5 million in incentives to Gronkowski’s contract for the 2017 season. The All-Pro ended up making $10.19 million.

Price had surgery after suffering an incomplete tear of his chest muscle while doing the bench press at the combine. He’ll need four months to recover, but should be ready for training camp. A 55-game starter for the Buckeyes, he plays with power and explosiveness.

The Broncos did not pick up the $9.23 million option on Ray’s contract for 2019. He is scheduled to become a free agent in March without an extension.

He played all over the formation for the Crimson Tide. Ridley is more advanced in his route running than others in this draft and should show a broader skill set in the NFL. His 1,000-yard season at Alabama came as a freshman.

He improved his 40 time to 4.42 on his pro day. Jackson moved from cornerback to wide receiver and back early in his career with the Hawkeyes. He had eight interceptions and was credited with 26 passes defensed in 2017. He forced six turnovers — five interceptions and a forced fumble — in a two-game span.

Even with his production — 3,613 career rushing yards — Michel might be one of the more underappreciated players on the board. He runs with power and is elusive. Michel can close the deal in the open field and is more proficient in pass protection than other backs in this draft.

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We are vigilant about practicing within the Collective Bargaining rules, Newsome said. I am. John and his assistants are. I attend every practice and then watch the practices again on video. I see how the coaching staff teaches, corrects and addresses issues immediately on the field. In meetings, I have watched John’s presensations to his players and assistants regarding how to properly practice and the pace of these sessions.

We have players competing, including rookies and those fighting to make the team. Sometimes breaking old practice habits of these players, especially rookies, takes more repetitions. We’ll continue to be vigilant about this.

I’ll just say that working with Peter has exceeded the expectations I had when I joined SI and The MMQB two years ago—and my expectations were high to begin with. And now, let’s get going … Story Continues MIAMI ON THE REBOUND It’s mandatory minicamp season in the NFL, and four teams kick off this week, with the other 28 set to go next week. Two of the four, the Bears and Lions, have new coaches. Another, New England, has the most tenured coach in football.

That plea gives resolution to all of the legal charges that Foster faced this offseason. He was arrested for marijuana possession in Alabama before the February arrest, but that charge was dropped after Foster completed a diversion program.

Foster, who rejoined the 49ers after the domestic violence charges were dropped, could still face league discipline for violating the Personal Conduct Policy.

Contreras flashed a rare combination of plate discipline and power for a catcher last season. If he had enough at-bats to qualify, the 25-year-old would have been the only catcher in baseball to hit 20 home runs with a.350 OBP. — Kraemer, ESPN Stats & Information

Last season, Paxton posted a 2.63 ERA and held opponents to a.580 OPS after the All-Star break — both the best marks by a southpaw with more than 50 innings pitched in that span. The Big Maple was especially hot in July, becoming the third lefty pitcher in the past 30 years to go 6-0 with a sub-2.00 ERA and 40 K’s in a calendar month, joining Clayton Kershaw and Randy Johnson (twice). — Foreman, ESPN Stats & Information

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Jason Pierre-Paul was a major offseason acquisition in Tampa Bay, but he’s not with the team during Organized Team Activities.

Pierre-Paul has not attended a single day of OTAs, according to ESPN.

A few unsurprising transactions across the league, as teams have started picking up fifth-year options on players from the 2015 draft. The Dolphins picked up DeVante Parker, the Panthers will use Shaq Thompson ‘s fifth-year, and the Rams did their thing with both Todd Gurley and Marcus Peters. 5. Along with divulging his draft prep, Hurney showed plenty of self-awareness on his draft hits and misses over the years in Carolina.

Among other things, Luck explains that 30 cities are in the running to host XFL franchises when the league returns after a 19-year hiatus. The league currently is working through the potential destinations in advance of an inaugural season, in 2020.

Given the looming proliferation of gambling, it’s possible that, after decades of non-NFL American pro leagues failing, not one but both the XFL and the AAF will thrive.

The drought is over! Game No. 82 sent Minnesota to the postseason for the first time in 14 years in a de facto playoff game of its own, as Butler poured in 31 points and Towns added 26 in an overtime thriller against the Nuggets.

As much as Minnesota missed Butler’s All-Star production, it could have also used his grit and determination. Case in point: Butler’s average miles per hour getting back on defense in transition ranks first on the team and first among every 2018 All-Star.

Of course, even those numbers would be prohibitive if Shields were still performing below replacement level, as he did last season (minus-1.8 bWAR). However, a reinvented Shields has become a bedrock source of above-replacement innings for Chicago this season. Through Thursday’s rough outing in Minnesota, Shields is on pace to throw 215 innings.

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The unfolding Washington cheerleader scandal has apparently cost at least one executive his job.

According to Craig Hoffman of 106.7 The Fan, team executive Dennis Greene has resigned.

It is doubtful Miller will actually be able to recover enough to play in the NFL again, but the Bears made the class move by offering a contract that will pay him $458,000 regardless of whether he plays this season, according to ProFootballTalk. If he makes a miraculous return to the field, he would be paid $790,000.

Miller officially dislocated his knee and tore his popliteal artery on the play while trying to make a touchdown catch — only to have it overturned by replay, to make matters worse. But he later revealed he asked doctors to save my leg in the minutes following the injury as he was carted off the field and rushed to a Level 1 trauma center to undergo emergency surgery. The quick actions by the Bears’ medical staff may have saved him from amputation.

Lawyer Mark Geragos said on CNN Wednesday night that the NFL owners are conspiring against his clients to appease President Trump, and he suggested that more evidence will surface soon.

I would stay tuned because this case is about to take a dramatic turn, he said.

Asked what he means by that, Geragos wouldn’t offer specifics other than a suggestion that somebody has decided they were going to dime out the NFL for what they were doing.

That may mean a witness can come forward who will contradict the stated position of the NFL, which is that each team decides for itself whether a player can help that team, and that if Kaepernick and Reid aren’t on a roster, it’s because teams have individually decided they can’t help. If Geragos can produce a witness from the league office, or a team’s coaching staff or personnel department, who can testify that the football people do, in fact, think Kaepernick and Reid can contribute, but that owners and the league office have decided that Kaepernick and Reid are not to see the field, that would go a long way toward making the players’ case.

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Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr missed some time in the first week of OTAs, at a time when he’s also looking for a new contract.

He said Wednesday he was merely getting insurance, though in a manner of speaking that’s kind of the same thing.

I had to protect myself and get an injury insurance policy, Barr said, via Courtney Cronin of ESPN.com. It took like a week to get situated, so I got that, and now I’m good to go.

Barr’s entering the final year of his contract, and there have been talks about a new deal. He offered few details, but his presence suggests things aren’t contentious.

Prominent women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred, who’s representing the cheerleaders, alleged the women were paid so little or not paid at all for much of the work they did because of their gender.

Surely (Texans owner Bob) McNair and the Houston Texans can find it in their budget of hundreds of millions of dollars to pay these women a fair wage, not minimum wage, Allred said. I say, stop penny pinching. Pay these women what they deserve and make sure you pay them for every minute that they work.

As long as Jones is in attendance for minicamp and training camp, there should be little reason for the Falcons to worry about him being ready to go in September even if the contract tweak he’s reportedly looking for doesn’t come through by Week One.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver, in his state of the league talk at the NBA Finals on Thursday, was asked about the Twitter controversy raging in Philadelphia. He spoke on the matter.

And didn’t say a heckuva lot. The league is monitoring the situation and hopes for a quick resolution. In other news, famine and disease are bad.

For the league, there is always that balance of speed and doing things in a deliberate and appropriate way. So I have talked to management at the 76ers, and the notion here was let’s find out what’s going on, Silver said. The first thing we have to do here is determine what the actual facts are in this circumstance.

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The Cowboys list Tavon Austin as a running back on their roster, but he starts his day in the wide receivers room.

Jones said the Cowboys expect to get Austin between 12 and 24 touches a game, which seems overambitious. Austin averaged 7.5 touches, including returns, in his five seasons with the Rams.

That felt like my college days, Austin said of Jones’ comment. I felt like I was back at West Virginia. That’s definitely a good feeling for him to even feel like he wants to do that to me. Being in this league, you’re probably only guaranteed three or four times a game. For him to say that, I’m blessed, and I hope it does come, and I can take advantage every time they give it to me.

I think that’s good, Trump said on Fox and Friends. I don’t think people should be staying in locker rooms, but still I think it’s good. You have to stand proudly for the national anthem or you shouldn’t be playing, you shouldn’t be there, maybe you shouldn’t be in the country. You have to stand proudly for the national anthem and the NFL owners did the right thing if that’s what they’ve done.

Trump said he doesn’t think he deserves to be seen as the person who made the new policy happen, saying instead that he just highlighted something that a lot of Americans cared about.

I think the people pushed it forward, Trump said. This was not me. I brought it out. I think the people pushed it forward. This country’s very smart. We have very smart people. That’s something ideally could have been taken when it first started, it would have been a lot easier. But if they did that, they’re doing the right thing.

The NFL has, in the past, allowed players to choose for themselves whether to stand for the anthem. Starting this year, players must stand if they are on the field, but they can choose not to be on the field during the anthem.

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The state that successfully waged a legal battle against all sports leagues to secure for all states the ability to have gambling on all sports now has the sports leagues trying a different approach.

Yes, they want their integrity fee in New Jersey.

Via NJ.com, the NBA, MLB, and PGA spent Thursday lobbying New Jersey legislators for the one-percent cut that those leagues have tried to get in other states. Baseball has enlisted (paid, presumably) former pitcher Al Leiter to assist.

Even without betting, plenty of fans think that the leagues want certain teams to make the playoffs and then to advance in the postseason. When the payoff isn’t simply increased ratings but increased bets from which the sports leagues receive a cut, those suspicions will grow.

The NFL continues to not be part of the state-to-state effort to secure an integrity fee. Instead, the NFL will be trying to lobby Congress for a nationwide regulatory scheme that gives the sports leagues payment under a less awkward label than integrity fee.

California Superior Court Judge Nona Klippen ruled Wednesday that insufficient evidence exists to proceed with domestic violence charges against Foster. The judge also reduced a charge of possession of an assault weapon to a misdemeanor, scheduling a pre-trial hearing for June 6.

Foster’s ex-girlfriend recanted accusations against him in a hearing last week.

Foster, 24, still faces a marijuana possession charge from his January 12 arrest in Alabama, with a court date scheduled for June 20. He is subject to league discipline for that arrest under the NFL’s substances of abuse policy.

Conversely, at times the small numbers are revelatory. After a period of championship contention built around a drafted haul such as Cole Hamels, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley, the Phillies have fallen in recent years and having a major-league-low 10 players this year from the 2008-13 drafts is a reason. The best was Ken Giles.

The Tigers also have followed serial contention with a slide and have just 13 drafted players in the majors from that period, the best of whom is Nick Castellanos and the second-best might be Chad Green.

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