Utah should suffocate opponents with a top-five defense.

Teams are going to duck under every screen for Ricky Rubio, and strangle the lane when both Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors are on the floor. The Jazz have scored well with the twin towers, but Hayward has almost always been there as a fail-safe. Utah finagled its way to 12th in points per possession last season; it’s easy to see the Jazz falling toward 20th.

But they can run out at least 11 legit rotation players. They have enough tweener forward types to pull Favors early, shift into small-ball mode, and reinsert him for Gobert as their backup center.

(Good luck generating a corner 3 against them.) Gobert barricades the rim with a sneering arrogance. He scares people. The Jazz are deep, and they play hard every night. Even vanilla teams can win a lot of regular-season games that way.

Starting to believe me about the center thing? Joel Embiid’s ceiling is as impressive as his social media traffic, but there is clearly great injury and availability risk present.

This is the format where Dwight Howard is still special, especially now that he’s in a familiar scheme that could inspire a revival campaign.

The name that really demands exposition from this tier is Julius Randle. A legitimate breakout candidate now that Brook Lopez will finally afford him some floor spacing, Randle was 17th in the NBA last season with 15.6 rebounding chances per game and ninth among forwards in points created from assists.tigers_047-115x115

Wizards’ Sheldon Mac expected to miss season after Achilles surgery

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Washington Wizards swingman Sheldon Mac is expected to be out for the season after having surgery to repair a torn left Achilles tendon.

The team said the operation was Monday.

Mac should be sidelined about six to eight months.
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The Wizards play their season opener against the visiting Philadelphia 76ers on Oct. 18. The regular season ends April 11.

As a rookie last season, Mac averaged 3.0 points and 1.1 rebounds while appearing in 30 games for the Wizards.

In one of my leagues, a new manager came in and dominated the early part of the draft, and just when I thought he might start filling the rest of his roster with conservative, safe players, he boldly selected Thomas. Talk about an awesome move! (Nice job, Seth; you can play in my league any time.) Bottom line, here, is Thomas is expected to miss about half the season recovering from a hip injury, with talk of a January return, and taking him is a gamble, because in some leagues you can’t stash him without it taking up a roster spot. But in keeper leagues or in drafts where you’ve crushed the early rounds and can afford to wait for Thomas, he could very well be your ticket to winning it all this season if he comes back and plays like the Thomas of old. I’m going into drafts with this as my mindset.

Hayward continued to gush about Horford’s on-court skills and said he’s eager to share the floor with him. While Boston added two All-Stars this summer in Hayward and Kyrie Irving, there are many in the Boston organization who believe Horford is maybe the most important piece to Boston’s success.

Irving is Boston’s best offensive weapon (and Thomas showed last season how important it is to have someone like that), Hayward is Boston’s best all-around player, and Horford is the key to making it all work.

Georgia LB Natrez Patrick arrested on marijuana-related charges

Braylon Edwards Authentic Jersey Georgia starting linebacker Natrez Patrick was arrested on misdemeanor marijuana-related charges by police in Athens, Georgia, late Thursday night.

Game Womens Dont’a Hightower Jersey Patrick, a junior from Atlanta, was charged with misdemeanor possession of less than one ounce of marijuana and prohibited stopping, standing or parking. He was released on $1,500 bond early Friday morning, according to Athens-Clarke County Jail records.

He did not travel with the fifth-ranked Bulldogs for Saturday’s game at Vanderbilt. Juwan Taylor replaced Patrick in the starting lineup.

Patrick was also arrested on misdemeanor marijuana charges with former teammate Chauncey Rivers as a freshman in 2015. He was suspended one game for that incident and might now be subject to a four-game suspension under Georgia Athletic Association policies.

Patrick had started every game for the Bulldogs this season and entered Saturday tied for third on the team with 17 total tackles.

Auburn’s defense has become its signature unit this season, and Davis’ resurgence is helping to propel the Tigers. A freshman All-America selection in 2015, Davis is once again showing high-level skills in the secondary, recording seven pass breakups and an interception in the first six games. He’s an excellent open-field tackler — all 16 of his tackles are solo stops — and gives coordinator Kevin Steele confidence against top opposing receivers.

Manning, in only a Peyton Manning way, closed the ceremony with a touching message.

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Peyton Manning spent most of his 14 seasons with the Indianapolis Colts throwing countless touchdown passes, breaking records, winning MVP awards and leading the franchise to the Super Bowl XLI title.

The franchise that made him the No. 1 overall pick in 1998 unveiled a statue of the future first-ballot Hall of Famer in front of Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

In May 2016, local Indianapolis artist Ryan Feeney started the process of building the Manning statue, which depicts the quarterback standing on his toes ready to rifle one of his 539 touchdown passes while with the Colts. Feeney put the final touches on the statue Saturday morning.

I came here almost 20 years ago to play quarterback and to try and win a lot of football games, he told the crowd during the halftime ceremony. I thank God every day that I’m an Indianapolis Colt.

In many ways, the mistake-prone game became a sideshow for what happened around it.

While many showed up to thank Manning, who played his final home game in Indy on Jan. 8, 2011, most didn’t anticipate becoming part of another political statement.

Vic Beasley Authentic Jersey Vice President Mike Pence, the former Indiana governor, left shortly after about a dozen San Francisco players dropped to their knees for the national anthem. The Colts locked arms, but none took a knee.

Some reports indicated Pence’s walkout was planned.

Bell went in motion to the right side.

Running back Matt Forte (turf toe), who missed last week’s game, is in danger of missing Sunday’s matchup against the Browns. There’s no reason to rush him back. Bilal Powell and rookie Eli McGuire combined for 256 rushing yards and two touchdowns last week. The Jets lose a bigger, more physical back with Forte, but they gain speed with Powell and McGuire. — Rich Cimini

On third-and-goal, McCarron scrambled for 13 seconds and headed for the end zone, where he was met by cornerback Dustin Harris, setting up fourth-and-goal from the 2-yard line.

Will Johnson: That was real tension on the sidelines … we’ve come this close to a monumental win and now it could get taken away. Energy and elation left the A&M sidelines after those two bombs and now reality was setting in. The defense is on the field, so Johnny’s not the one that can bail you out now, it has to be somebody else.

McCarron took the snap. Cooper ran high and Bell ran underneath. A&M cornerback Deshazor Everett jumped in front of Bell — avoiding the rub by Cooper — and intercepted McCarron with 1:36 left.

In Cook’s place, running back Latavius Murray will inherit the bulk of the workload. Murray is coming off ankle surgery during the offseason that still has him feeling less than 100 percent.

To be honest, I think I’m still getting to that point, said Murray, 27, who spent the previous three seasons with the Oakland Raiders. It’s not going to quite feel the same for awhile. I knew that dealing with my previous ankle procedure.

For me, it’s being well enough to be out there and being able to help the team be successful. … I feel good enough to be out there, and I’m confident in myself that I can play at a high level.

The key this week is seeing how Beckwith fares against Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

The Bucs will likely be without starting middle linebacker Kwon Alexander (hamstring) and weakside linebacker Lavonte David (ankle), as neither have practiced this week or last. They’ll be replaced again by Kendell Beckwith and Adarius Glanton. Defensive coordinator Mike Smith raved about Beckwith’s performance against the Giants. He didn’t blink. He was very impressive, Smith said. Safety Keith Tandy has not practiced this week because of a hip injury. Safety T.J. Ward (hip) returned to practice. If neither Tandy nor Ward can go Thursday, the Bucs would be forced to rely on rookie Justin Evans, who has yet to make an NFL start and played only minimal snaps on defense prior to last week. — Jenna Laine

Obviously, I wish we would’ve won more games and it had gone better, McCown said after practice Wednesday. But I think we learned from it and they’re in the process of trying to build their own thing there.
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Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson was asked after Wednesday’s practice if he’s afraid this could be a trap game for the Jets, although it’s hard to label it that since it is virtually a pick’em in Las Vegas.

Nah, I’m not afraid, are you? Wilkerson asked reporters. Nah, nobody is afraid. We’re going to execute and do our job. We don’t care about their record.

The Jets’ defense, led by rookie safeties Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye, and defensive end Kony Ealy, has been on fire their last two games, allowing only two touchdowns, including one on the last play of the Miami game that didn’t affect the outcome. It also has three interceptions and four sacks in that stretch.
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And the running game came alive last week for a season-high 256 yards behind career days from Bilal Powell (163 yards, touchdown) and rookie Elijah McGuire (93 yards, TD). With Matt Forte again questionable to play because of turf toe, the running game will likely lean heavily on these two again.

The axiom goes that champions are built through the NFL Draft.

By my count, the Chiefs are starting 16 players who they drafted, with just one of those players — veteran linebacker Derrick Johnson — having been on the roster longer than Reid.

This team has been built in Reid’s image, particularly on offense where the Chiefs have finally stockpiled a critical mass of squat, fast-twitch, space-destroyers to hornswoggle the league.
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Every time around this year, you get the story that the Patriots only employ lefty punters, as they do this year with Ryan Allen. They do this, the announcers love telling us, because Bill Belichick knows returners have a difficult time picking up the spin on the ball and also because Bill Belichick doesn’t see people as human beings, just collections of body parts that he can use to win another trophy and, thus, for another year at least, keep quiet the ghosts that haunt him.

Also, I know this started out as a kicking column, but we’re gonna have to throw punting in as well because if it’s just kicking this is going to devolve by like Week 3 into Giorgio Tavecchio erotic fan fiction. That still might happen, actually.

Demaryius Thomas Elite Jersey He also made history. Two of those kicks came from 52 yards, making him the first NFL player to kick a pair of 50+ yard field goals in his debut.

Tavecchio was born in Milan, Italy but moved to the United States as a child. He played his high school football at Campolindo High School in Moraga, California — a city approximately 13 miles from Oakland. He was an effective kicker, though his thick Italian accent occasionally made things difficult for his teammates. Via The Mercury News:

We had a punt-nerd-out go viral this weekend! This doesn’t happen often, but, oh boy, when it does. Former NFL punter Pat McAfee broke down this video of Rams’ Johnny Hekker, and for us in the Laces Brigade this was just like mainlining that good stuff.

Panthers TE Greg Olsen on crutches with broken foot

Panthers tight end Greg Olsen limped off the field in the first half of Sunday’s game against the Bills with what the Panthers called a foot injury.

Olsen told reporters following Carolina’s 9-3 win he has a broken foot. Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Olsen will see a doctor on Monday to determine whether he needs surgery.
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Devin Hester Limited Jersey The 32-year-old veteran was taken to the locker room to be evaluated and was initially reported as probable to return. The Panthers changed that status to begin the second half when Olsen returned to the sideline on crutches and wearing a walking boot on his right foot.

Olsen, who has been to three straight Pro Bowls, is the only tight end in NFL history with three consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons. He had one catch for 10 yards at the time of Sunday’s injury as the Panthers held a 6-0 lead.

Leonard Williams, New York Jets defensive end: [Acting owner Christopher Johnson] individually spoke to every single person in this locker room. He didn’t have one big speech. He walked up to every individual, looked them in the eyes and told us he was going to support us in what we wanted to do. He also asked us if he could join us, and that meant a lot to everybody. Williams on Johnson, who stood arm-in-arm with the Jets during the anthem.

Adrian Clayborn, Atlanta Falcons defensive end: A lot of stuff needs to change, man. [Trump] has his support, and he has his people that’s behind him that’s continuing this crazy rhetoric that he’s spilling. I want to be optimistic, but it’s crazy times. I didn’t [kneel], but I support my brothers 100 percent. Anytime somebody has a question for me about how I feel about it, I’m going to answer it. And the way I feel about it right now is stuff ain’t right and he’s just spilling all this hatred that’s not doing anything positive for what’s going on in this world. Clayborn stood along with the majority of his teammates.

Marshawn Lynch flips the double birds to Titans’ Karl Klug

Marshawn Lynch played in his first game back since retiring after the 2015 season and held nothing back in his return.

It’s not the first time Lynch has drawn a finger on the field. He flipped off Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell for calling a play-action pass to tight end Kellen Davis against the Cardinals instead of handing the ball off on third-and-goal from the 1-yard line.

Welcome back, BeastMode.

“I don’t have anything to say about any of the appeal or anything about that issue, today,” Jones said via the team’s website. “But certainly I’ll be visiting with you guys about it in the future. Right now, today, is just not the time for me to talk about it.”

The league isn’t happy with Elliott’s plan to discredit his accuser in his appeal or the NFLPA’s role in it. While the record shows that the woman was dishonest at times, shifting blame to a victim is “shameful,” in the words of NFL Executive Vice President of Communications Joe Lockhart.

On the NFLPA side, it simply said the league is lying and isn’t leaking derogatory information about Elliott’s accuser to the media. This contentious back-and-forth could get even uglier before this whole thing is settled.

Elliott finally spoke to the media after his injunction was granted and his Cowboys beat the New York Giants in the team’s season opener. He said the injunction is a relief.

“Just relieved from the fact that I finally get a fair trial,” Elliott said, via Pro Football Talk.

Now Elliott, Jones, and everyone else just have to wait until the resolution of the court case to see what happens.rays_516

the NFL paraded a 26-foot-tall robotic version of star Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor around London.

It meant a lot to me, said Eluemunor, a fifth-round draft pick out of Texas A&M. Without that game, I wouldn’t be standing here in the Ravens locker room. That really was my first taste of American football.

While I was playing high school and college football, I’d always think about it, like where would I be if I hadn’t switched the channel to that game?

Chad Kelly Elite Jersey Until then, one of the persistent gripes among American football fans in Europe had been the desire to see their favorite NFL stars in the flesh. The last exhibition game in London had been in 1993. And while NFL Europe — which debuted in 1991 as the World League of American Football, with an original franchise in London, and folded in 2007 — produced future NFL luminaries such as Kurt Warner, Dante Hall and Jake Delhomme, the Q rating wasn’t exactly there.

Authentic Womens Marcus Cooper Jersey Though the Giants and Dolphins didn’t treat the Wembley crowd to the sport at its finest, the fans appreciated what they saw. Waller said all 84,000-plus seats sold out in less than 90 minutes. To hype the event, the NFL paraded a 26-foot-tall robotic version of star Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor around London.

Despite having only three catches in Week 1, it’s worth noting that one of those catches for Rudolph came in the end zone. Last season, his first with Sam Bradford throwing to him, Rudolph set a career high in both receptions (83) and yards receiving (840) while netting seven touchdowns. Even the presence of other downfield threats in Minnesota isn’t likely to disrupt the end zone chemistry between Bradford and Rudolph. The price is right for a tight end who should easily be among the top 10 in fantasy points this week. — Stephania Bell