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NFL to vote on new kickoff rules, limiting full-speed collisions


The NFL is planning further changes to the kickoff, hoping to reduce the number of high-speed collisions that happen on the play.

A proposed new rule that owners will vote on next week will make several changes to the kickoff. The key takeaways are:

1. The kicking team must line up within one yard of the line where the ball is kicked (typically the 35-yard line), and must have five players on each side of the kicker. That changes the rule that allowed players to line up five yards behind the spot where the ball is kicked to get a running start. Now the kicker will be able to get a running start, but everyone else will get one step at best.

6. The ball will be dead if it touches the ground in the end zone. In the past the returner could pick up the ball off the ground in the end zone and run it out, but now it would be a touchback immediately if it touches the ground in the end zone.

These rules are likely to result in fewer high-speed collisions on kickofcardinals_007fs and, the NFL hopes, fewer concussions.

Here’s breaking down the Saints’ entire schedule and how their 2018 games set up Drew Brees & Co. for a Super Bowl push.

Toughest tests: The Saints were able to go 7-1 at home last year on their way to an 11-5 overall mark. It will be tough to duplicate that Superdome success with the Falcons, Panthers, Rams, Eagles and Steelers bringing their best to New Orleans. The good news: It would be a lot harder to face those teams outside of the Big Easy.

Biggest breaks: Outside of the division games and the Vikings matchup, the Saints have a favorable away slate and should finish better than .500 on the road. With Minnesota and Dallas on the schedule, that leaves only three games in which there might be weather concerns. Then again, with New Orleans’ improved running game and defense, it’s an undaunted team built for all seasons.

Few players have had more Stanley Cup near-misses than Sharks veteran Paul Martin


Greg Wyshynski and Emily Kaplan break down the second-round playoff matchups that have been set, and give their top candidates for the Conn Smythe. Plus, Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon and longtime Penguins beat writer Rob Rossi. Listen »

“As a player, you have to be somewhat selfish in terms of your training and the time and investment in taking care of yourself,” Martin says. “A lot of times you think what we do is so much more important than what everyone else does. So it’s important to remember that of course it’s not.”

“Oh, it’s sky high now,” Lawson said of his confidence. “I am shooting [the last shot now]. … Now I feel like I am here. I’m back.”

He proved that during his first game with the Wizards, scoring 14 points and dishing out eight assists in Game 2 in Toronto. Lawson also demonstrated something he picked up in China: planting his elbow in the face of CJ Miles while driving to the basket.

The Packers will get back to more basic gunslinging with Rodgers working to get the ball to wideouts and tight ends out of simple mismatches. It’s been seven years since Philbin was in Green Bay, but he’s still only 56 and will provide a fresher emphasis on working around Rodgers’ elite talent. He won’t worry about forcing balance, but rather using the run game to play more off the pass game.

Philbin had the Packers as a consistent top-10 offense from 2007 through ’11, and they have lost some explosiveness since. Don’t be surprised if they get pass-happier and Rodgers-friendlier at the same time.

Hurst was apparently cleared by both Michigan and Harvard doctors, and the Raiders felt comfortable enough with the situation to select in him. But Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller revealed that coaches, scouts and general managers are unhappy with Oakland’s decisioncanucks_004 to do so, going as far as destroying the team or putting Hurst’s safety at risk.

Jason Witten actually retiring, what it means for Cowboys and his Hall of Fame chances

Williams last visited Rutgers for the spring game and will make a return trek to campus next Sunday following Rivals 3-stripe Camp


“They showed a crazy amount of love. From me to my mom,” the 6-1, 185-pound Williams told “The amount of love they showed to me and my family was crazy. When you have a great bond with a head coach. First of all, let’s get this across. There aren’t too many head coaches out there that will take it upon themselves to text you almost everyday just to see how you’re doing, see how you’re doing in school, basically wanting to be involved with you.

“It turned out it was literally the complete opposite of how I thought it was gonna turn out,” he said. “That kind of made our relationship better. I feel like that built our bond better.”

Williams last visited Rutgers for the spring game and will make a return trek to campus next Sunday following Rivals 3-stripe Camp, which will be held at Piscataway high school, just minutes away campus. He says he “will be taking other official visits,” but is a Scarlet Knight through and through.

Now, with a full offseason at his disposal and no injuries to rehab, Haden is hitting it harder than ever.

But their nups went off without a hitch. In fact, they were so enchanted with their wedding destination that they’re looking into buying a condo nearby to vacation in themselves and to rent out the rest of the year. “We want (Puerto Rico) to be at least a yearly trip!” he said.

While Puerto Rico has hustled to get its tourism hubs back online, many areas have still been left in the dark. Seven months after the storm, more than 100,000 Puerto Ricans still don’t have power in what is now likely the second largest blackout in world history, according to data analytics group Rhodium Group and it’s the largest blackout in US history, losing 3.4 billion customer-hours of electricity service.

“The traffic lights in certain places were blinking instead of working,” noted Nichols, who added that some locals she met who live in the mountains and around the rainforest only just got their power back recently. Some are still living off of generators.steelers_120

The Jets are on the prowl for one of the biggest remaining free agents — figuratively and literally — in the NFL.


The team is very interested in signing free agent defensive end Ndamukong Suh, a source confirmed. Suh is the 6-foot-4, 307-pound defensive line force who has been first-team All-Pro three times and made five Pro Bowls.

Yahoo Sports reported Friday that Suh said the Jets have emerged as a serious contender. Yahoo also reported the Jets have made the biggest offer to Suh. He has yet to visit the Jets, but coach Todd Bowles has told Suh how he envisions using him, according to the report.

“We try to stay away from him a lot,” Bowles said last season. “You have to put two bodies on him just to try and slow him down a little bit. I don’t think anybody ever stops him.”

The Dolphins parted ways with Suh last week. He spent three years in Miami after signing a six-year, $114 million contract with the team in 2015. He spent his first five seasons with the Lions, who selected him No. 2 overall in 2010.

While Suh’s ability on the field is indisputable, he does come with some baggage. He has a reputation as one of the dirtiest players in football and had seven penalties last year with the Dolphins.

There are also questions about Suh’s attitude. He has not always been seen as a team guy. The Jets were very proud of their chemistry last season. Despite winning just five games, they felt like they were building something with a good, young core. Suh would not fit that mold.

It will also be interesting to see what kind of contract Suh commands. The Jets still have more than $30 million in salary cap space, so they can afford him. It might just be a question of how long they want to commit to him and what kind of structure the contract would have.

Nevertheless, Hoskins concedes, Kapler’s style is a departure from the norm and might require some adjustments from both sides. Kapler’s natural tendency is to text or tell players in advance if they won’t be playing. Some players prefer that approach, and others don’t. Kapler is still trying to sort out who falls into which camp.

“He’s recently out of the game,” Hoskins said. “He played over 10 years, and he knows how things operate. From what he’s told us, he’s been around great clubhouses and not-so-great clubhouses, so he has a pretty good idea of what’s worked in the past and what hasn’t. You’re seeing his different style a little bit, and I don’t think that’s bad at all. It’s great. I think he’s just trying to take things in the past that have worked and put his flavor to it.”jets_037

Michael Campanaro set to visit Titans Thursday


The Titans may be making an addition to their receiving corps.

Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun reports that the team will have wide receiver Michael Campanaro in for a visit on Thursday. Zrebiec adds that the team has been in touch with Campanaro’s agent for a couple of weeks.

The Blazers finish up by hosting the Jazz, their strongest competitor for the No. 3 seed. If the Jazz win that game (Wed., 10:30 p.m. ET on ESPN), they will hold the tiebreaker.

The Jazz have been one of the NBA’s strongest teams since Rudy Gobert returned to the lineup. If they were in the East, Utah might actually be rated as the best team right now and the pick to win the conference title. Unfortunately for the Jazz, they’re in the West.

That means they are likely staring at a second-round matchup against Houston or Golden State, if the first round goes according to plan.

Walford, originally drafted by the Raiders in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft, played 44 games with 10 starts. He made 70 catches for 768 yards and six touchdowns in his career in Oakland.

Remember when McCarron was going to be traded to the Browns, and then when he was for sure going to sign with the Browns? But there went Smith to the Redskins, Tyrod Taylor to the Browns, Cousins to the Vikings, Keenum to the Broncos and Bradford to the Cardinals.

The starting jobs dried up in a hurry, save for the Bills, who ended up bailing him out. McCarron fought to be an unrestricted free agent. He gets his shot as a No. 1, but it’s probably the worst supporting QB situation of them all. He’s also not guaranteed to start over a drafted rookie, given his contract (two years and $10 million) is more like a backup’s.

“I want to be very clear,” Bernhard said. “I’m not taking credit for the Raiders. But [the report] was one of those little ripples in the process, and it concludes that, for many of the problems the NFL was concerned about, not only was Las Vegas not the problem, Las Vegas — and more generally, a regulated gaming industry — is actually the answer. Or at least, it’s better than underground bookies.”

Snyder, the former UNLV president who attended the first meeting, believes Bernhard is being overly humble and describes the report as being an early “catalyst” in bringing the Raiders to Las Vegas.

Johnny Manziel discusses future during Texas A&M’s pro day


Johnny Manziel laid out his path toward returning to pro football after taking part in Texas A&M’s pro day on Tuesday.

If nothing pops up, then I’m going to play in the CFL, Manziel told reporters after he made some passes in front of representatives from all 32 NFL teams.

Manziel, a former Heisman Trophy winner, had been in talks to join the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats earlier this year, although no deal was finalized. His appearance at his alma mater’s pro day on Tuesday follows his participation at the University of San Diego’s pro day last week.

Of course. Do I drop Dexter Fowler or Garrett Richards Nope. I do make an exception for new closers because something is always changing there, and already it appears that our Blake Parker investments have gone awry. But with most others, not so much. Go ahead and add Seattle’s Felix Hernandez, but we have myriad reasons that he should be avoided, and one decent outing on Opening Day just does not alter that for me.

AJ Mass: Simply put, I don’t. OK, sure, if I’ve got Delino DeShields in my lineup and he fractures a hamate bone, I’m going to make a move. But other than injury-related moves, I’m letting the status quo ride for the first month of the season. For one thing, it will take a few weeks — especially in rotisserie formats — to know exactly in which statistical area your team needs improvement. What’s the point in using your waiver priority on a free agent who’s all big bat and no legs if, come May 1, you’re in first place in home runs by double digits and last in steals

Patrick told The Post he recently made the decision. He said that NBC offered him a new, five-year-deal in December, but, at 61, he said he did not want to make a commitment.

I didn’t want to do it and not love doing it, Patrick said.

Patrick does want to continue his radio show and is on the verge of renewing with AT&T and DirecTV for the next three years, he said.

Patrick had been doing NBC’s pregame for the last nine years and co-hosted the Super Bowl four times.

His contract with NBC Sports Network is a licensing agreement for the simulcast of his radio show. It still could continue even though he will not be on Sunday night.

Mike Tirico is the leading candidate to be the main host on the pregame.

Brent Celek visiting the Lions


Lions coach Matt Patricia got a close look at the Eagles offense during the Super Bowl, so it makes sense he admires it.

Nelson has a couple of connections with the Raiders. General Manager Reggie McKenzie was a longtime personnel exec in Green Bay before heading to Oakland and Raiders receivers coach Edgar Bennett held the same job with the Packers from 2011 to 2014.

If the Raiders do agree to a deal with Nelson, they are expected to release wide receiver Michael Crabtree. That move would create just over $7.7 million in cap space for Oakland.

The Jets have plenty of salary cap space to sign Suh (about $20 million). But he just turned 31, so he might not fit their getting-younger rebuilding plan. Can he still be an elite player??

Plus, Suh doesn’t exactly have a reputation of being a team-first player. Is that the type of presence the Jets need in their young, impressionable locker room? Would Suh perform well enough to justify the risk for some of the nonsense he might bring? After all, the Jets just cut a negative locker room influence, defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson.?

Mauro signed a one-year contract reportedly worth $880,000, which seemed like a bargain considering it only counts for $720,000 against the salary cap under the Minimum Salary Benefit. The cash portion of the contract actually is even smaller because he loses game checks while on suspension, though it doesn’t change the salary cap hit.

But now it is clear Mauro didn’t have much leverage at the negotiating table. The Giants were aware a suspension might be looming before signing the fifth-year defensive end, NJ Advance Media has learned.

It takes a decision maker with conviction to make a selection like this.I’ve seen a long list of businesses opposing this, but I haven’t seen a long list of businesses saying,’Next week we’re going to start allowing men into the ladies bathroom our restaurant, our school.’ Let’s see them stand up and say,’We actually support boys and girls using the shower the 1oth grade,’ added.I know you guys think it’s better now and you should.

The Bears told Sitton that they would decline their option on his contract for the 2018 season in February. Sitton said at the time that he believes he has several “prime years” left with his 32nd birthday coming in June.49ers_072

Would the Vikings move on from a quarterback who finished the season with the NFL’s second-highest Total QBR (69.5) and led them to the NFC Championship Game?


I know the defense,” Williamson told the team’s website of the Jets’ 3-4 defensive alignment. ”

They have great guys up here that can play. This defense is hungry. You have young guys on it who are talented and I feel like I’m going to fit right in. I just have to get in and learn the playbook and get to work.”

The 27-year-old Long was limited to just seven games last season, though, as he dealt with injuries to both legs and needed surgery on his quadriceps tendon. Claiborne rejoins the Jets on a one-year deal worth $7 million, including a $3 million signing bonus. He was the team’s top cornerback last season, but will now combine with Trumaine Johnson, who signed a five-year, $72.5 million deal earlier this week, to form one of the NFL’s most promising secondaries. Pennel, back on a three-year deal worth $12 million, was a key backup for Todd Bowles’ defense last season. He had a career-high 35 tackles in 16 games. Brooks, who saw lots of playing time at safety and on special teams, was the AFC Defensive Player of the Week after Week 3 with two interceptions against Miami.

If anything should tell you how desperate teams are for offensive line help — and what little faith they have in their own ability to develop offensive linemen into even swing tackles — it’s this deal.

At the very least, the Vikings don’t value Keenum enough to lock him down with a franchise tag.

Andrew Norwell, G* Headed to: Jacksonville Jaguars | Age: 26 News: Jags make Norwell highest-paid guard DiRocco: Norwell deal shows Jaguars prioritized run game over Allen Robinson Norwell picked a pretty good year to earn his first All-Pro honors.

Keenum still has some intriguing value, but the Garoppolo trade, the Smith trade, Cousins’ and Bradford’s free agency and the depth of first-round QBs take away his shine, especially after his shaky NFC title game. Keenum should be viewed as more of a stopgap in front of a young franchise passer. He also will be on the older side and comes with major inconsistency issues.patriots_016

Nike, Paul George release PlayStation-themed light-up shoes


Paul George’s new shoes will light up the NBA, literally. Nike, in collaboration with George, has revealed PlayStation-themed shoes called the PG2.

“Buttons inside the tongues let you turn the lights on or off. There’s also a pulse mode where the lights flicker and vibrate, supposedly like a PlayStation Dual Shock controller. According to Engadget, the shoe’s batteries aren’t replaceable and have a lifespan of around 150 hours.”

Braun’s first 14 innings at first were action-packed. He ranged over the mound to catch two popups, scooped multiple balls in the dirt, made an adept tag on a pickoff throw from catcher Jett Bandy to nab Rajai Davis, dived to save pitcher Jhoulys Chacin from an error and committed an error with an off-target throw to Chacin. He has tried to avoid mucking up the process by overthinking. After his first game, Braun told Milwaukee beat writers that he would not be providing daily progress reports.

“(Popovich) told me that he thought it was time. I was like, ‘Oh, no problem,'” Parker said (via the San Antonio Express-News). “Just like Manu, just like Pau [Gasol], that day’s going to come. And if Pop sees something that is good for the team, I’ll try to do my best.”

Parker missed the first month of this season as he recovered from a ruptured left quadriceps he suffered in the playoffs last May. He is averaging career lows in points (8.0) and assists (4.0) this season, not surprising given he’s playing a career-low 21.7 minutes per game. His minutes have declined each of the past four seasons.

The veteran said recently he’s still not fully recovered from his injury, saying “I’m just more focused on my leg because I know I [still] have another two months before I feel 100 percent.”

With that in mind, Parker knows he might be of more help to the team off the bench going forward.

Dirk Nowitzki calls workplace misconduct allegations against Mavericks ‘heartbreaking’


“It’s very disappointing,” Dirk Nowitzki said of the SI report of an alleged hostile Mavericks workplace for women. “It’s heartbreaking. I’m glad it’s all coming out.” Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports

The Sports Illustrated story quoted one former female staffer as saying that the team’s actual locker room was a refuge from the locker room culture elsewhere in the organization.

But it was more telling in the sense that he predicted that the team he would be on would win the Super Bowl — and he was right.

After Trey Burton got the football, he threw a perfect pass to Foles. It shouldn’t be much of a surprise, considering Burton played quarterback while at Florida:

It was more than just the touchdown reception, though. Foles’ catch came after the Patriots tried a similar play, and Brady was unable to make the grab:

It’s hard to say whether or not that was intentional, but either way, it certainly sent a message that the Eagles were here. It put them up 22-12, a lead that they would take into halftime.

Owens was never going to be cleared to play in the game. It’s incredible that he even stepped on the field, but the volume in which he played is one of the more impressive parts of the game.

Out of 72 offensive snaps, Owens played in 62 of them. In those 62 snaps that he played, he caught nine passes for 122 yards on 14 targets, the most of any player in the game.

Randall Gay and Asante Samuel both had the opportunity to cover Owens during the game, and couldn’t believe how sharp he was.

The American men were ousted from the tournament on Wednesday, ending an unlikely bid for a medal (before the tournament, the online sportsbook Bovada set Team USA’s odds at 10-1, which put it sixth in the book). After their loss to the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals, the players have dispersed. Jordan Greenway, for example, is expected to be in the Boston University lineup on Friday night, when the Terriers play Vermont. U.S. captain Brian Gionta will talk to NHL teams about a contract. (Will he have any takers?)49ers_007