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Rams’ Dante Fowler gets prove-it deal and fresh start

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Dante Fowler Jr.’s voice began to quiver as the Los Angeles Rams outside linebacker rattled through a roller coaster of events that have spanned his four-year career.

There were some highlights, such as the eight sacks he produced when the Jacksonville Jaguars advanced to the AFC Championship Game two years ago. And there were lowlights, like the ACL injury that ended his rookie season before it began and behavior, on and off the field, that resulted in a strained relationship with the Jaguars.

But as Fowler described the uneven start to his young career, a smile slowly grew across his face when he described his new start in L.A.wholesale cheap nfl jersey china

“Really wasn’t feeling myself until I got here,” he said. “… the coaches put me in a very great position, just like letting me be me, let me be the Dante Fowler that basically got me here.”

That is why Fowler, 24, signed a one-year, prove-it deal, worth up to $12 million, with the Rams ahead of free agency in March instead of testing the market as an unrestricted free agent.10

“I knew from like the first few weeks, really that first month when I was here, that this was a perfect fit for me, a perfect team for me,” he said.

Last season, in the midst of an 8-0 start and with an eye on a deep playoff run, the Rams identified the need for a pass-rusher. Ahead of the trade deadline, they sent third- and fifth-round draft picks to the Jaguars in exchange for Fowler, the third overall pick in the 2015 draft.cheap nfl jerseys wholesale china

Five days after he was acquired, the Rams inserted Fowler against the New Orleans Saints. Two weeks later, he started against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Fowler’s contributions grew steadily and peaked in the NFC Championship Game when he pressured Saints quarterback Drew Brees into an errant pass that safety John Johnson III intercepted. The play set up a game-winning field goal and sent the Rams to Super Bowl LIII.

“What he was able to do coming in in the middle of the year and being able to contribute the way that he did really says a lot about how quickly he was able to pick things up,” coach Sean McVay said.

In eight games, Fowler had two sacks and four tackles for losses. He was embraced by teammates, and by the Rams’ front office.

“He made plays for us along the way,” general manager Les Snead said. “From the beginning, we wanted Dante to be back.”

But now it’s up to Fowler, who has 16 sacks, four forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries in three seasons, to prove he can maintain his poise off the field and develop into a star in defensive coordinator Wade Phillips’ 3-4 scheme.

Ryan Fitzpatrick leading Josh Rosen in Dolphins’ QB battle — for now

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Rolling to his right with an easy glide and fluffy beard taking up his half his helmet, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick pulled his best Patrick Mahomes impression. He fired a no-look pass 20 yards on the money to wide receiver DeVante Parker, who dragged his toes along the sidelines for a catch. Miami Dolphins offensive players, standing on the nearby sideline, shrieked “Yeah” in excitement.

Several plays before that, Fitzpatrick cranked his arm back and threw a 70-plus yard pass that again hit Parker in stride. Fitzpatrick held up the touchdown signal and started skipping down the field. He later said he predicted that exact play and result to Parker when he walked into the building earlier that morning.

That’s some of the fun in FitzMagic. And on Wednesday — the Dolphins’ final day of spring workouts — Fitzpatrick had two memorable plays in a matter of minutes.cheap nfl jersey wholesale

Yet the 36-year-old gunslinger is on his eighth NFL team because inconsistency and a penchant for interceptions has left him in a constant yo-yo between starter and backup.9

The Dolphins have one of the NFL’s few starting quarterback competitions with Fitzpatrick battling talented second-year player Josh Rosen.

Everything screams that it’s in the Dolphins’ best long-term interest for Rosen to win the job.

Rosen, 22, was a top-10 pick a year ago and he was acquired by the Dolphins for pennies on the dollar in April. Miami has been looking for its true franchise quarterback since Dan Marino retired 20 years ago. There’s no chance Fitzpatrick is the No. 1 answer, but Rosen has a slight chance.cheap nfl jerseys wholesale china

Fitzpatrick isn’t interested in what’s supposed to happen. He’s playing loose, confident and dare I say… consistent in these padless workouts. He has been the Dolphins’ best quarterback this spring.

“I’m a perfectionist. There’s already some stuff on my mind that I have to go talk to some players about, some coaches about and have to work on myself,” said Fitzpatrick, before a wry smile appeared between his beard. “But yeah, there’s always a couple throws a day that get me fired up a little bit.”

Fitzpatrick has Parker smiling more, too. Players try to avoid picking favorites in a quarterback battle, but it seems those two already have a blooming relationship.

“He helped me a lot with communications and signals and everything,” Parker said. “[Fitzpatrick’s] telling me what I’m doing and what I need to do to be in the right spot.”

3 ejected after benches clear in Pirates-Braves

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Pittsburgh right-hander Joe Musgrove and Atlanta third baseman Josh Donaldson have been ejected from Monday night’s game between the Pirates and Braves for triggering a benches-clearing confrontation.cheap nike nfl jerseys china

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle also was ejected by plate umpire Brian Gorman for arguing the decision to toss Musgrove.

With two outs in the first inning, Musgrove’s pitch grazed Donaldson’s jersey. As Donaldson headed to first base, he exchanged words with Musgrove and took a few steps toward the mound before Pirates catcher Elias Diaz intervened.10

Donaldson shoved Diaz. That prompted players from both dugouts and bullpens to spill onto the field. No punches were thrown, and the field was quickly cleared.

The ejections followed a brief huddle by the umpires.

Pirates right-hander Jameson Taillon, who is on the 60-day injured list with a flexor tendon strain, tweeted his displeasure of the decision to toss Musgrove.nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal

Right-hander Alex McRae replaced Musgrove. Johan Camargo replaced Donaldson.

Sources: Rockets, D’Antoni close to extension

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The Houston Rockets and Mike D’Antoni have rekindled discussions about a contract extension for the head coach and are nearing an agreement, sources told ESPN on Saturday.

Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta has agreed to eliminate the buyout language that was the primary reason that D’Antoni and his agent, Warren LeGarie, ended talks on May 30, sources said.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Fertitta and Rockets general manager Daryl Morey visited D’Antoni at his offseason home in West Virginia this week to smooth over any hard feelings. LeGarie was not part of those discussions and told ESPN that a deal still needs to be worked out through him.

“Did Mike speak to those guys down there? Yes, he did,” LeGarie told ESPN. “As always, they asked Mike what he thought, and Mike said, ‘Sounds great, but talk to Warren.’ Mike’s job is coaching, and he leaves the negotiating to me.10

“Mike is always affable with everybody out there, not trying to raise the rancor in a situation clearly gone astray.”

After the previous talks ended, Fertitta told reporters during a hastily arranged media availability that the offer to D’Antoni was a one-year extension with a $5 million base salary plus $4 million in incentives for advancing in the playoffs.

However, the original offer included only $2.5 million in guaranteed money, due to a buyout in case the Rockets fired D’Antoni before the end of the season, or if they did not make the playoffs and terminated him after the season.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

LeGarie maintains D’Antoni deserves a multiyear extension with a higher base salary than what the Rockets have offered so far.

D’Antoni, who is under contract through the 2019-20 season, has a 173-73 record in three seasons with the Rockets. Houston is 23-16 in the playoffs during that span, losing to the Golden State Warriors the past two seasons.

Why D.J. Reader is an ‘invaluable’ piece of Texans’ defense

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Jadeveon Clowney isn’t the only member of the Houston Texans’ front seven due for a new contract this offseason.

While Clowney and J.J. Watt typically get the headlines, nose tackle D.J. Reader is the player doing the dirty work — “a grinder’s job,” according to Watt — as a presence in the middle of the defensive line, taking on “double-teams so everybody else can make the plays.”cheap nike nfl jerseys free shipping

Don’t sell Reader short, though. He’s capable of making his fair share of impressive plays.

“He doesn’t get enough credit for what he does,” Watt said. “If you really watch the film closely, you’ll see D.J. sometimes runs down plays all the way down the line of scrimmage to the sideline. I think for a nose tackle to be able to do that, with the athleticism and the endurance he has, I don’t think he gets enough credit.”

“In terms of the success of our defense, [Reader] is invaluable,” Weaver said. “While he may not fill up the stat sheet, all those guys who are filling up the stat sheet, whether it’s a linebacker behind him or J.J. [Watt] or J.D. [Clowney] on the outside, they know that a lot of that success is the result of what D.J. is doing.10

“To me, D.J. is a strong pillar. If you’re talking about a house, you’re talking about a foundation. That’s D.J. Reader. He’s the guy who you build everything around. I think great defenses are built from the inside out. If you’re talking about the defensive line, that starts up front with D.J. Reader at nose tackle. Because if teams can just run right down the middle, if you don’t have a solid nose, it’s going to be bad for you. We force that ball to go outside, you don’t want to run into 90 [Clowney] and 99 [Watt] and 59 [OLB Whitney Mercilus] and all those guys. He enables us and allows us to do that.”

“He’s a leader on this defense,” Weaver said. “He’s very smart. He’s very smart and he relates to almost everybody. I think that’s where some of his leadership skills and traits shine. Because he’ll talk to the lowest guy on the totem pole, and the highest guy on the totem pole, and treat each and every one of them the same, and can relate to them. So, not only does he have tremendous value for us as a player, but he has tremendous value for us in that locker room as well.”

Reader says he’s not thinking about a new deal, but has felt like he has found a home in Houston. The Texans have typically signed their draft picks to extensions before the start of their fourth season. Still, there’s no doubt the Texans have Reader in their plans for the foreseeable future given his importance to the defense.nfl nike jerseys for cheap

“He does a tremendous job,” Mercilus said. “He definitely holds down the middle of the line. He’s quiet, but you know his presence is going to be there. The linebackers would say something if he was getting pushed back, but D.J., you can’t push him back at all.”

Tom Coughlin’s ‘history with receivers’ brought Terrelle Pryor to Jaguars

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Tom Coughlin is known for many things. He helped build the Jacksonville Jaguars, taking them to a pair of AFC Championship games in eight seasons. He also won two Super Bowls as the head coach of the New York Giants and is a strict disciplinarian with some ridiculous-sounding rules.

But when Terrelle Pryor thinks about Coughlin he immediately thinks about wide receivers, which is why he was happy the Jaguars called him for a workout and eventually signed him last Monday morning.

“His view of receivers and how he teaches it, even when he was a head coach,” Pryor said. “I remember working out for him back in 2015. I was hurt coming off of the Browns and I got cut from the Browns in the preseason. I worked out for the Giants, and I was excited because I knew about Coughlin’s history with receivers and stuff. When I worked out for him and he didn’t sign me, I was kind of bummed out.”nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

Jimmy Smith enjoyed seven of his nine 1,000-yard seasons and Keenan McCardell four of his five 1,000-yard seasons while Coughlin was coaching the Jaguars from 1995-2002. During Coughlin’s 12 seasons as the Giants coach, five receivers (Plaxico Burress, Steve Smith, Hakeem Nix, Victor Cruz, and Odell Beckham, Jr.) surpassed 1,000 yards receiving nine times.9

Coughlin isn’t doing any on-field coaching with the Jaguars in his role as executive vice president of football operations but he was at Pryor’s workout and attends organized team activities. Pryor is hoping Coughlin offering him a chance to win a roster spot over the next three months will allow him to make up for the past two disappointing seasons.

Pryor, whom Oakland selected as a quarterback in the third round of the 2011 supplemental draft, has only been a receiver since 2015. He seemed to be on his way to a productive career after catching 77 passes for 1,007 yards and four touchdowns with the Browns in 2016, but multiple injuries and a clash with New York Jets coach Todd Bowles ruined his past two seasons.

The Browns didn’t re-sign Pryor and he joined the Washington Redskins on a one-year, $8 million contract. He suffered an ankle injury in Week 2 but played through it until opting for surgery in November and finished with 20 catches for 240 yards and one TD in nine games.cheap nike nfl jerseys free shipping

Pryor signed with the Jets and had 14 catches for 235 yards and two touchdowns in the first six games while playing through a groin injury. He also drew heavy criticism from Bowles during the preseason after he told reporters he had suffered a broken ankle during offseason workouts. Bowles and the Jets had previously said it was a minor injury.

The Jets cut Pryor in October (he was still dealing with the groin injury) but he landed with Buffalo and told reporters there that he felt he was underused in New York. Pryor caught two passes for 17 yards in two games before being cut.

No more confusion: Jaguars play 4-3 defense, and Josh Allen is an end

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Defensive coordinator Todd Wash was adamant about what kind of defense the Jacksonville Jaguars are going to run in 2019. And where top pick Josh Allen is going to line up.

Wash didn’t even leave a smidgen of wiggle room.

“We are a 4-3,” Wash said. “That is what we always have been. As long as I’m here, that’s what we will be.”

And: “Josh Allen was drafted to be a defensive end.”cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

It should bring an end to the speculation that the Jaguars would undergo a defensive overhaul. That all started in February, when the Jaguars hired longtime NFL coach Dom Capers to be a senior defensive assistant; and it intensified when the Jaguars snapped up Allen, who played linebacker at Kentucky, with the seventh overall pick in late April.

On the surface, the speculation about a defensive switch made sense. In addition to twice being a head coach in the NFL, Capers served as a defensive coordinator for four teams (including the Jaguars in 1999-2000 under then head coach Tom Coughlin) and ran a 3-4 scheme in each stop. He had a lot of success with it too.10

In his three seasons as Pittsburgh’s defensive coordinator (1992-94), the Steelers ranked second, ninth and second in scoring. His Jaguars defense in 1999 led the league in scoring and was fourth in yards allowed, though those rankings dropped to 12th and 16th the following season.

When Capers was hired in Green Bay in 2009, he scrapped the 4-3 the Packers had used since 1992. His first two defenses ranked seventh and second in scoring, then finished in the top 15 in that category in three of the next seven seasons. Mike McCarthy fired Capers after the 2017 season, in which the Packers finished 26th in scoring, 22nd in total defense and 23rd in pass defense.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Despite the way his time in Green Bay ended, Capers is regarded as one of the top defensive coordinators in NFL history. The Jaguars brought him on board full time to help Wash get the defense back to the level it was in 2017, when Jacksonville finished second in interceptions and sacks and first in pass defense. Capers had served as a consultant in 2018.

“We’ve got a great working relationship,” Wash said of Capers. “Obviously, he’s been in the league one or two years longer than I have, or 102 years longer than I have, but it’s a great working relationship, and we dealt with each other all last year. So, I’m glad that he chose us with the other opportunities that he had, and he’ll be a great addition to the staff.

Devonta Freeman takes verbal hits from Warrick Dunn to avoid real ones

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Devonta Freeman has done a solid job emulating Warrick Dunn as a dual-threat back, but imitating how Dunn talks is another story.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Freeman, the Atlanta Falcons’ two-time Pro Bowl running back, leaned on a set of bleachers, took a deep breath, lowered his tone and offered his best impersonation of Dunn, who had his most productive seasons with the Falcons from 2002 to ’08.

“Warrick always tells me all the time — you know he talks low — but he tells me, ‘Hey, man, you’ve got to do better. You can’t be taking all these hits, man. It’s all about longevity,'” Freeman whispered with a Southern drawl. “That’s what he always says to me, and I appreciate that. I really appreciate stuff like that.”8

Dunn probably would have laughed at the way Freeman mimicked his tone, but at least his message seems to have resonated. The bond Freeman shares with Dunn, a fellow Florida State Seminole, extends beyond football talk. They keep in touch often, even if it means checking in just to say hello. In the bulk of those conversations, Freeman has grown accustomed to Dunn preaching to him about avoiding some of those vicious hits.nfl cheap jerseys nike

“Yeah, I agree with him 100 percent,” Freeman said. “I’ve talked to a lot of people about it.”

Dunn, now a Falcons minority owner, never regrets bringing it up.

“A lot of times, these guys always want to prove that they’re tough or that they can get the tough yard, but sometimes you have to live for another down,” Dunn said. “My advice to Devonta was, ‘You have to learn how to protect yourself at the same time. You’re picking up tough yards, but you have to be smart and strategic about it.’

“To be a better runner, it’s not always about, ‘Let me run over guys.’ It’s ‘How can I avoid the big hit so I can have longevity in this league?’ And I just try to encourage him to become a better overall runner.”

Cards place Molina on IL due to thumb injury

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Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina was placed on the 10-day injured list Friday because of a strained right thumb tendon.

The 36-year-old, a nine-time All-Star, got hurt during Saturday’s game against Atlanta and tried to play through the injury.

“It’s just a slight little tear between the thumb and the webbing, his right finger, rather,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said.

Shildt said the injury affected Molina’s batting.cheap nfl jerseys nike china

St. Louis said the roster move was retroactive to Wednesday.10

Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said surgery had not been discussed.

“We did an MRI this morning and that indicated that there is some damage to the tendon in his thumb, throwing hand, and we’ll have him see a specialist this afternoon, as well,” Mozeliak said. “Probably have a better idea of maybe length and what to expect by sometime tomorrow morning.”cheap wholesale nike nfl jerseys

Matt Wieters will get most of the playing time while Molina is sidelined. St. Louis selected the contract of Andrew Knizner from Triple-A Memphis.

Molina is batting .265 with four home runs and 33 RBIs and started 49 of the Cardinals’ first 53 games.

Knizner, 24, was batting .286 with five home runs and 17 RBIs at Memphis.

Jets interview Seahawks exec Fitterer for GM job

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The Jets have interviewed Seattle Seahawks executive Scott Fitterer for their general manager job.

The team’s announcement Friday that it completed its meeting with Fitterer marked New York’s first interview in the process of filling its front-office vacancy.cheap nike nfl jerseys paypal

Fitterer has been the Seahawks’ co-director of player personnel alongside Trent Kirchner since 2015. He has worked with Seattle since 2001 and served in various roles, including as the team’s director of college scouting.10

Mike Maccagnan was fired in a surprise move by Jets chairman and CEO Christopher Johnson on May 15 after four seasons — just over two weeks after the GM oversaw the team’s draft. Johnson said he was looking to hire someone who was “a strategic thinker” and added that “it’s more than a talent evaluation guy.”cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Head coach Adam Gase is the acting general manager and has an active role in the Jets’ process of finding a new GM.

Joe Douglas, Philadelphia’s vice president of player personnel, is expected to interview with New York over the weekend. He is largely considered the favorite to land the gig. Terry Fontenot, New Orleans’ director of pro scouting, is also expected to be among the candidates to meet with the Jets.