Packers not happy with how officials called pick plays in loss to Falcons

The Green Bay Packers weren’t happy with the officiating in their Sunday night game against the Atlanta Falcons — specifically when it came to pick plays.

Officials called tight end Martellus Bennett Preston Smith Jersey for offensive pass interference with 55 seconds left in the second quarter, wiping out a 36-yard gain by Randall Cobb. Two plays later, Aaron Rodgers threw an interception, giving the Falcons the ball at Green Bay’s 36.

“I don’t know how you call pass interference on that when Marty is running a drag route, Cobb runs a shake route, and Marty is looking back at me and gets run into,” Rodgers said.

If you still think the cavalry is coming with trades, in-season free-agent acquisitions or a massive re-shuffling of who plays where on the Giants’ offensive line, Schwartz squashed all of that talk:

“They can talk about scheming a lot of chips in but that’s not really Ben McAdoo’s offense. The way he schemes in a chip is throwing the ball as quick as possible. Possibly Brandon Williams Jersey he’ll have some new formations, some new ways to get the ball out really quick and that is how they fix the offensive line,” Schwartz said. “There’s no magic pill, they’re not inserting anybody. That’s reason why I think McAdoo has remained really positive toward Ereck Flowers publicly, because what are you going to do? You can’t threaten to bench him and then not do it, right, if he plays poorly. So you’re not going to threaten him. That’s where they’re at right now.

“They did not address the offensive line position in the offseason and this is the offensive line they have going forward.”

Schwartz addressed a variety of other Giants-related topics during our conversation. There will be one more post this week, likely about Eli Manning, that will include some of Schwartz’s observations. Click the player above to listen to the entire show.

the Falcons have a new stadium this season.

There are weaknesses. The Pats are thin at defensive end, where they’ll hope Trey Flowers continues to develop into an above-average pass-rusher. There’s not much depth along the interior of their offensive line. Everyone has problems, though, and the other 31 teams would kill to have New England’s minor issues as their most pressing concerns. The Patriots aren’t perfect. They might just be good enough, though, to finish with a perfect record.

Meanwhile, the Falcons have a new stadium this season. The early reviews are mostly positive (lots of additional info here), though there are some problems with the retractable roof, which won’t be able to open for at least the first few games of the season.

After eight seasons of having players wear pink accessories during October to raise awareness of breast cancer, the NFL is taking a more diversified approach this season. Teams will now be able to designate a specific anti-cancer initiative to promote during a three-week period in October. The Packers, for example, have announced that they’ll be raising funds for the Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation. It’s not yet clear whether teams will wear colored accessories for these games, but the early indications are that they will not, at least for 2017. Additional info here.

Although there has been no official announcement, expect to see the league’s other well-established monthlong uniform promotion — camouflage trim to salute the military in November — rolled out once again.

There has also been no official announcement about a reprise of last year’s “My Cause, My Cleats” promotion, in which players were permitted to wear custom footwear designs devoted to various charities in Week 13. But that initiative was popular with players and fans, so it’s likely to be revived for 2017.hornets_023

‘NBA 2K18’ reveals soundtrack featuring big names like Kendrick Lamar, Damian Lillard

Video game publisher 2K Sports has successfully used soundtracks in recent years to reach larger audiences, leveraging popular musicians like Jay-Z, Pharrell Williams and DJ Khaled (plus the likes of LeBron James) to put their names on the box as curators of the playlists.

While there is no one in that position with “NBA 2K18,” the soundtrack offers a wide variety of current-day hits and blasts from the past that goes 50 songs deep.

Among the artists featured are Kendrick Lamar, Future, Drake, Pitbull, OutKast, Naughty by Nature, Def Leppard, Nas and even Trail Blazers star point guard Damian Lillard, who raps under the name Dame D.O.L.L.A. He actually has two songs in the game, with one of them hidden away to be unlocked through the game’s MyPlayer career mode.

The Chargers’ ability to give the Broncos fits in 2016 means it’s safe to assume their season-opening matchup is far from an easy win for Denver. It also will cost the Broncos at least day of preparation for their Week 2 showdown against the Cowboys. A cross-country trip to Buffalo isn’t exactly a comfortable way to end the first month of the season.

Denver’s annual home game against Oakland comes early in the season this year, a week before a bye the Broncos probably wish would have been scheduled later in the season. The break in the schedule at least will give the Broncos plenty of time to prepare for a primetime, home showdown against the Giants before they close the month on the road against the division-rival Chargers and Chiefs.

Gelbaugh was drafted by the Cowboys out of Maryland. He got a second NFL chance from the Bills out of the CFL and a third with the Cardinals after shining in Europe in the World League of American Football. The Seahawks got the worst out of him in 1992, when he went 0-8 as a starter. He rated only 52.9 as a passer, with a 47.5 completion percentage.pacers_022

Gurley barely got touched, which is rare for a man his size.

It’s hard to miss Gurley on the gridiron. He has the size of a linebacker, but he is faster than some receivers. When Gurley was a rookie, you could tell teams underestimated his speed due to his size. The Arizona Cardinals were one of those teams. Unfortunately for them, Gurley made them pay with this 52-yard scamper.

As you can see, Gurley barely got touched, which is rare for a man his size.

Speed is one of the most overlooked elements of Gurley’s game. No, he’s not as fast as Chris Johnson in his prime or LeSean McCoy, but he has the wheels to break off long plays. If Gurley sees a hint of daylight up front, he’ll burst through the hole quickly and get to the second level. It’s a rare blend of power and speed.

But the realistic answer is that the Ravens don’t actually want to upgrade their quarterback situation.

“Those are two different categories of players,” Harbaugh told reporters when asked about the Ravens signing Olson instead of Kaepernick.

“It has to do with our need. Joe is day-to-day,” he added.

It won’t be much longer until Flacco is ready to return to action in training camp. When he does, he’ll be the unquestioned starter for Baltimore with Ryan Mallett ready to back him up.

That’s a stable quarterback situation, regardless if it can be improved or not.

By signing Olson, the Ravens can have a third quarterback throwing passes in camp and maybe brew some competition with Dustin Vaughan for the third-string job. When Flacco is ready to return, it could mean the end of the road for Olson, unless he can show he brings more value than Vaughan.patriots_003-180x180

Lou Williams loving Rockets’ offense because ‘everybody eats’

Lou Williams went from flirting with the Western Conference cellar to a contender this week, and he couldn’t be happier.

The sweet-shooting guard was sent to Houston from the Lakers before Thursday’s trade deadline, and he enjoyed a fine debut scoring 27 points off the bench in a 129-99 win against the new-look Pelicans.

Williams praised his new teammates for allowing him to find a comfortable rhythm in the offense.

“It’s easy to play with these guys,” Williams said, via the Houston Chronicle. “It’s a very open style. Everybody eats. Everybody’s happy. It fits my style.”

James Harden had been criticized for his willingness to shoot, while sometimes seemingly forgetting he had other guys on his team. But this season’s move to point guard has seen the former shooting guard re-invent his career.

If Williams continues to find open looks, he could form a dynamic backcourt duo with Harden, one of the front-runners for league MVP.

Under D’Antoni, Harden has gone from averaging 7.5 assists per game to 11.2 assists per game. That’s a 49.3 percent increase over his previous career-high. Assuming D’Antoni could do the same for Wall, he’d go from averaging 10.7 assists per game to 15.9 assists per game.

That number is obviously insane. John Stockton holds the NBA record for the most assists per game in the regular season with 14.5. He then averaged 14.2 assists per game in the following season and 13.7 the season after that. Furthermore, the only other players in NBA history who have averaged at least 13.0 assists per game in a season are Magic Johnson, Kevin Porter and Isiah Thomas. And here we are talking about Wall blowing all of them out of the water by averaging 15.9 assists per game.
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Al Horford proves worth as Celtics take control of series

Al Horford couldn’t believe his luck. With 7:56 to play in the fourth quarter and the Celtics holding to a four-point lead in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference opening round, Horford was trying to keep up with Bulls center Robin Lopez out near halfcourt as Jimmy Butler attempted to inbound the ball. Butler made the pass to Lopez just as Lopez turned to cut inside, and the ball bounced innocently past the winking Celtics leprechaun logo.

Horford thought, “Don’t screw this up.”

He collected the ball just beyond the 3-point line, took one dribble and swept in for a dunk ahead of Butler’s pursuit. The locals erupted and momentum, which had been trickling toward Boston, rapidly swung the Celtics’ way. Horford’s dunk was part of a six-minute, 20-4 run that transformed a one-point deficit into a 15-point lead, which the Celtics were able to carry to a 108-97 win and a 3-2 series advantage Wednesday night.

The Cavs prioritized health over seed, choosing to sit their stars for key games in the final week of the regular season. They will see a Pacers team coming off a five-game winning streak to end the year. Something to note: LeBron James has made the NBA Finals all five times he has been a two seed.

Toronto locked up the No. 3 seed in the East early, so DeMar DeRozan and Serge Ibaka didn’t play Wednesday night. Milwaukee wanted to have its squad at full strength as well, so coach Jason Kidd sat Giannis Antetokounmpo, Matthew Dellavedova and Tony Snell in a loss to the Celtics.

Much like the teams above, Washington and Atlanta were already comfortable in their spots before Wednesday, so the Wizards benched John Wall and Markieff Morris while the Hawks sat Dwight Howard, Dennis Schroder and Tim Hardaway Jr.falcons_004

Kato Kaelin wins $12K in Brewers 50/50 raffle

The Brewers held a 50/50 charity raffle during Monday’s 8-1 win over the visiting Orioles at Miller Park.

The raffle had a celebrity winner.

The big rumor over the long July 4 weekend was a sexy one: The Chicago Cubs are interested in Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander (and catcher Alex Avila).

Welcome back, Freddie Freeman. When Freeman fractured his wrist in mid-May, he was hitting an insane .341/.461/.748, and combined with his monster second half of 2016, he had established himself as perhaps the best hitter in the game. He returned to the Atlanta Braves’ lineup after just two rehab games and, sure enough, singled to center in his first at-bat. But the big news was he returned as a third baseman. He handled a routine grounder on his first chance:

Kato Kaelin, who is best-known as a witness during O.J. Simpson’s 1995 murder trial, attended the game with two family members and a friend and won the drawing.

The 6-10 Imhoff starred at the University of California under legendary coach Pete Newell. The Bears won the national championship in 1959, and Imhoff would go on to win a gold medal as a member of the 1960 U.S. Olympic team in Rome. That team, featuring future NBA stars such as Jerry West and Oscar Robertson, was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

After being selected third overall by the Knicks in the 1960 NBA Draft, Imhoff went on to a 12-year career in the league, playing with the Pistons, Lakers, 76ers, Cincinnati Royals (now the Sacramento Kings) and the Trail Blazers. Nicknamed “The Ax” for his physical play, Imhoff made the 1967 All-Star game while with the Lakers. For his career, Imhoff averaged 7.2 points and 7.6 rebounds per game.

He was a radio analyst during the Blazers’ 1977 NBA Finals victory, the only championship in franchise history.warriors_003-115x115

NFL Draft 2017: Jordan Spieth, Ryan Palmer spend first round in Saints war room

Revis’ situation is complicated, because the Jets owe him $6 million. So unless a team pays him more than $6 million, he will earn the same sitting on the couch as he would playing football. If not for that guarantee, he would probably be employed somewhere right now for $1.5 million-$2 million, but with no financial incentive, he might sit out.

Sitting out might make it harder for Revis to find a job next season, but the odds would be against him receiving a lucrative contract in 2018 even if he did play this year. There is probably no real benefit for a team to take on the injury risk. Revis could be a mid-season addition to a contender, but don’t be surprised if we don’t see him play in 2017.

Jordan Spieth and Ryan Palmer took a break from the Zurich Classic Thursday evening to hang out with the New Orleans Saints.

The duo, who are partners this week in the Zurich’s new format, were invited to join the Saints’ decision-makers in their draft war room.

Spieth and Palmer were tied for the lead after the first round. They shot a 6-under 66 in a tough alternate shot format. They shot another 6-under 66 Friday to remain in contention.

The Saints, with Spieth and Palmer on hand, used their No. 11 overall pick on former Ohio State cornerback Marshon Lattimore. They then used their No. 32 overall pick — acquired from the Patriots in the Brandin Cooks trade — on former Wisconsin offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk.

New Orleans will be busy again Friday, with three picks on Day 2 of the draft.
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Tony Romo will probably sign with the Broncos or Texans, but there are other options

For the first time in Tony Romo’s 14-year NFL career, he’ll start the season with a team other than the Dallas Cowboys. They’ll release the veteran quarterback on Thursday, setting up the next chapter in Romo’s career and the biggest storyline of the offseason.

After signing with a team as an undrafted free agent after the 2003 NFL draft, Romo faced the possibility that he wouldn’t make the roster in his first couple seasons, but by 2005 he secured the backup job in Dallas. By October 2006 he was the starter.

Simply put, it’s time for Arsenal to thank Arsène Wenger for everything he’s done for the Gunners over the last 20 seasons — and find a new manager. For the good of the club, that’s looking more and more like the only practical option. They need to make significant changes in the club’s structure, both in terms of the team, tactical setup, and even player recruitment, and there are too many questions as to whether or not Wenger is the man to make those changes, especially in light of recent results on the pitch.

It’s time for the next era of Arsenal football. An era without Arsène Wenger. He’s had a hell of a career and deserves all the praise in the world, but the time has come to move on and find out what happens next.

Again, Wenger is a tremendously accomplished manager who has earned a world of respect during his career. He is rightfully considered to be a legend at Arsenal, and deserves all benefit of the doubt that goes along with that status. But eventually results and actions move past the level that such benefit can look past, and it feels like we’ve reached that point.

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New York Giants Shouldn’t Sign Odell Beckham Jr. Long-Term Yet

The New York Giants have plenty to worry about this offseason, but the club doesn’t have to worry about wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. right now.

On paper, the New York Giants have as much a chance to win Super Bowl LII as does any other team in the NFC. Just like the Giants, the Atlanta Falcons—the reigning conference champions—finished the regular season with a record of 11-5. The Dallas Cowboys won the NFC East, but Big Blue swept their hated division rivals in 2016. Neither the Green Bay Packers nor the Seattle Seahawks are better than the Giants as February comes to an end.

With that said, the Giants must think ahead and about the future while at the same time attempting to establish a roster capable of winning a Super Bowl title less than 12 months from today. The first player who may come to the minds of fans and analysts regarding such discussions is dynamic New York wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

Beckham’s numbers and offensive production speak to what he has meant to the Giants since the club acquired him in the 2014 NFL Draft. The 24-year-old set records during his three seasons in the NFL, and he rapidly became a superstar known for completing one-handed catches and for featuring in national advertising campaigns. It’s not a stretch to suggest Beckham is the public face of the Giants as of the second month of 2017.

Also announced was the Giants’ punishment for using walkie talkies during a December win over Dallas: New York’s fourth-round pick falls 10 spots, from 130 to 140. The Giants already were fined $150,000 and coach Ben McAdoo $50,000.

The good news for Patriots fans is that the team gained a fifth-round compensatory pick, No. 185 overall, plus a third-rounder from the Browns (No. 103) as part of the Jamie Collins trade. Oh, and your team is Super Bowl champ and stuff.