CFP committee hands Nick Saban the motivation he has been looking for

Nick Saban told reporters this week that he couldn’t care less about the first College Football Playoff selection committee rankings. But nobody will blame him if he gives a sideways glance at the top four.

The Lakers will live with his turnovers, since they want their point guard to learn what he can, and can’t, get away with. On one particular play, Ball fired one pass too hard and too low for Corey Brewer to handle in what otherwise could have been a nice lob toward the rim.

With 3:42 left, Walton removed starters, including Ball. Trailing 91-83, Walton was looking for a desperation, last-gasp run and was unhappy with the starting lineup’s transition defense, but Toronto held on. To be fair to the rookie, the Lakers’ starters outside of Brook Lopez struggled with their offense. Lopez was the only starter to finish in double figures with 13 points.

THE REBUILD: In their fifth game of the season, the Lakers are still very much feeling out their roles, rotations and what each can do. On this night, the Lakers made it clear they were going to go to Lopez early. After taking eight shots in each of his previous two games, Lopez shot seven times in the first quarter alone. The plan got Lopez going early, as he had 11 points in the first half before he cooled off and didn’t get as many consistent touches.

Outside of the running backs, the supporting cast surrounding Mitchell Trubisky on offense hasn’t been strong. Trubisky has managed to complete 48 percent of his passes in four starts for 128 yards per game.

Panarin, Bjorkstrand lift Blue Jackets over Bruins 4-3 in SO

Artemi Panarin gave himself a nice 26th birthday present.

“With the starts we’ve had lately, it’s always nice to go up in a game early like that,” Savard said.

After a pair of unsuccessful power plays, Columbus found the back of the net again with less than three minutes left in the first period. Boone Jenner, playing in his fifth game after returning from injury, scratched and clawed at Markus Nutivaara’s rebound until he put it past Rask at 17:08. Josh Anderson was also credited with an assist on Jenner’s first goal of the season.

The Blue Jackets’ third goal of the night came at 8:27 of the second period when Nutivaara took a handoff from Bobrovsky and sent it nearly the length of the ice to a driving Tyler Motte, who put the puck in the net.

“Outstanding,” Flames coach Glen Gulutzan said, describing his power forward. “He was physical when he could be physical. Sometimes it’s hard to be physical when you have the puck all night and you’re making plays and you’re in on the forecheck and playing with the puck. He did a little bit of everything for us.”

Calgary improved to 1-1-0 on a seven-game homestand that continues Thursday night when the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins visit.

Jakub Vrana scored for the Capitals, who finished 1-2-0 on a road trip through Western Canada.

The win came Saturday in Edmonton, but playing on back-to-back nights was not something Vrana would use as an excuse.

“We can’t complain about that. Every team has to play back-to-backs,” he said. “It’s just that we made some mistakes out there.”

Still trying to find their Presidents’ Trophy form from a season ago, the Capitals are back in action Thursday when they host the New York Islanders.

This is the scariest Tennessee Titans fan at ‘Monday Night Football’

The woman next to this superfan isn’t too thrilled to be sitting near them either. The man below her looks like he’s staring directly in front of him not because the football game is about to start, but because he’s afraid of the consequences of looking at this Smurf who took an extended vacation to the set of Mad Max.

Rivers is the master of finding the balance between the smart play and self-preservation, and the result is looking like a total spaz. Like, he got BOTH hands on the ball, but covering it up in the end zone would mean a defender falling on him, and Rivers is too smart to take unnecessary hits. That’s why he’s willing to look so dumb. You ever see him get the snap when a lineman jumps offsides? He throws the ball into the ground like it’s delivering 120 volts into his body.

Ezekiel Elliott found the end zone 16 times last season, despite a 9.5 total OTD. That 6.5 gap was largest in the NFL. As is almost always the case, touchdown regression-to-the-mean will catch up to even the best in the business. Through five games this season, Elliott has scored three touchdowns on 126 looks (carries plus targets) and sports a 2.9 OTD. This means that, based on his usage, Elliott is right where he should be in the touchdown department. Elliott remains a fantasy stud (top-16 at the position in fantasy during all but one of his five outings), but regardless of whether his suspension is in place this week, don’t expect him to catch up to his 2016 scoring pace anytime soon.

But Charcandrick West may have given us the best celebration of the day. It’s the sassiest touchdown dance of the season.

After a four-yard touchdown catch, West did a little dance.steelers_010

the Celtics believe they have barely scratched the surface with Tatum.

Tatum and the Celtics visit Fultz and the Sixers on Friday night in the first of two preseason games between the teams over a four-day span. Four more regular-season meetings await. The two 2017 draftees will forever be linked.

In the infancy of his NBA career, the Celtics believe they have barely scratched the surface with Tatum.

“Bottom line is, he can get so much better,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “He’s already a good player, but he can get a lot better. I think that’s one of our charges, is to really make sure that every day is a learning day.

“He’s got a good attitude about it. I think he’s a lot like Jaylen from the standpoint of I don’t think he’s going to get too high or too low. He’s got a really even-keel about him.”

The past precedent of NBA teams choosing name over game has not gone too well. The 2003-04 Los Angeles Lakers added Gary Payton and Karl Malone to a team that already had Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant on it and were embarrassed by the Detroit Pistons in the NBA Finals after a rocky regular season. The 1998-99 Houston Rockets flanked Charles Barkley and Scottie Pippen beside Hakeem Olajuwon and flamed out in the first round of the playoffs against the Lakers.

Snarky fans on the internet are already grouping the Cavs with those failed fading constellations in L.A. and Houston, tweeting things like, “Cleveland’s offseason would have been fantastic if this was 2011.”

Fertitta: OK, if you’ve gotta go with one of the three, you’ve gotta go with Hakeem. But today he could probably play power forward. He was one of the first centers that started bringing the ball up the floor every once in a while.jets_008

Fast-starting Bills brace for stern test vs. Bengals

“This is a team that has been in the playoffs the last ‘X’ amount of years,” McDermott said of Cincinnati. “Anyone who looks at a record at this point in the season is making a huge mistake. This is a good football team.”

Albeit one that isn’t running the ball well. Rookie Joe Mixon leads the squad in rushing but is averaging just 2.6 yards per carry. The Bengals failed to reach three yards per attempt against the hapless Browns.

That figure probably won’t cut it against a stouter opponent. Even one like the Bills that was said to be playing this year with an eye on next year.

“And then for us these last couple of weeks our running game is just — it’s been a combination of great game planning by (offensive line) coach (Jeff) Stoutland, the desire and the will and the want to by the offensive line.

“With tight ends and quarterback Carson (Wentz) being a part of that. And then just execution on game day. And it’s just all combinations of that.”

Wentz has been consistent through four games with 1,058 yards passing, six touchdowns, two interceptions and a quarterback rating of 90.5

On the defensive side, the Eagles have scuffled in the second half but have done enough to win. It looks as if defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (calf) will be out for a second straight game, though a decision hasn’t been made yet. Safety Rodney McLeod, however, is listed as questionable with a sore hamstring for Sunday’s game.magic_152

Jadeveon Clowney was in the perfect place as John Ross fumbles his 1st NFL carry

John Ross made his NFL debut on Thursday night, and his first play wasn’t a great one to start on.

As Ross was making his way upfield, Texans cornerback Kareem Jackson popped the football out from Ross’ grasp, and Jadeveon Clowney was off to the races. He was eventually caught and tackled at the Bengals 20-yard line.

An underrated part of this play, was how Clowney casually ran with the ball like he was holding some sort of smaller object in his hands.

The first quarter of the game hasn’t been the most interesting, with all prior drives ending in punts. But this play was certainly a fun one. Thanks to the play, the Texans ended up taking a 3-0 lead.

Perhaps the most shocking application of the personal conduct policy was the league’s decision to issue a one-game suspension to former Giants kicker Josh Brown after he was arrested for domestic violence against his wife. Brown referred to the incident that led to his arrest as “just a moment,” but police records showed that Brown had been accused of more than 20 acts of violence against his now-former wife.

The NFL defended the minimal consequences for Brown based on the fact that his former wife did not cooperate with the league’s investigation. The league later re-opened its investigation when documents were released in which Brown admitted to abusing his wife repeatedly. They issued a six-game suspension at the conclusion of that investigation.wings_364

Rams’ Aaron Donald to miss opener amid holdout

Aaron Donald’s contract holdout will extend into the regular season.

The Rams defensive tackle is expected to miss the team’s opener Sunday against the Colts as he continues to wait on a new deal, EPSN reported Thursday.

Rams general manager Les Snead provided an update on his status last Tuesday, saying Donald likely wouldn’t be available for the opener if he didn’t report to the team that week after skipping training camp and the preseason.

Slay said Fitzgerald isn’t afraid to dole out pieces of advice to other cornerbacks throughout the league. If anything, he said that’s what makes Fitzgerald such a good and unique player.

“Everybody looks up to Larry,” Slay said. “Fourteen years in the game, takes care of his body, be so professional about everything. Great, great guy. I met him a couple times. He’s a very, very great guy. I just look forward to always working and going against him challenging him cause the only thing he’s going to do is make me better.”

Lions safety Glover Quin also shared an interesting tidbit about how Fitzgerald is on the field.

He said Fitzgerald, who has a history of knee injuries, will tell defensive players to hit him high, and that if it’s an illegal hit he would help that player pay his fine.

Steve Smith has a good reason to deny NFL players who request training help

When and if Steve Smith Sr. finds himself enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the reasons will range from his remarkable production through a 16-year NFL career to his status as an all-time great trash-talker.

The reasons will not include his willingness to help younger players.

The retired wide receiver is declining requests for training help from current NFL players. His reasoning is not based in pride or some sort of grudge against the younger generation of players like Jalen Ramsey.

His reasoning is personal, and it makes sense. Especially for a man who already has reversed one retirement decision.

“I don’t think anyone that’s ever played with him is gonna say he was a horrible teammate,” former Cowboys receiver Patrick Crayton told the Dallas Morning News recently. “They’d be like, ‘Yeah, you know what? He really wasn’t a bad teammate. We might have had our issues at times, but he wasn’t a bad teammate whatsoever.'”

Even Steve Young, Owens’ QB in San Francisco, agrees:

He worked as hard as Jerry Rice — I’ve never said that about anyone else by the way. He was willing to stand next to Jerry and work, and I’ve never seen that before. So to me, what I saw were his physical abilities were incredible. The work ethic, incredible, and a very respectful guy.
So why keep him out? Maybe if he was a borderline Hall of Fame player then the on-field antics (which shouldn’t be held against him, per the rules) would make some sense. But Owens is an all-time great, and the numbers back that up.

But don’t be surprised if the committee continues to exclude Owens. Fouts is already upset with how Owens has conducted himself when he found out he won’t get in.texans_125

Dalvin Cook slips to Vikings, and response now falls on his shoulders

Why did Dalvin Cook fall to the Vikings?

That’s not a simple question. In another draft, the fact that Cook fell to the second round and the Vikings traded up to get him with the No. 41 pick wouldn’t have been that big of a deal. Cook, however, was a projected first-round pick who was taken 33 picks behind Christian McCaffrey at No. 8 overall.

How can a running back who averaged 6.5 yards per carry through a productive career at Florida State that somehow got more prolific with each season fall that far?

The Bills decided they already had their man in place. If they find out that they don’t, they have an extra first-rounder next year.

And they still got someone at 27th overall who helps them enormously: Tre’Davious White, the LSU cornerback who has a chance to fill the hole created by the departure of Stephon Gilmore.

Both teams can feel great about the deal. Both teams should avoid the dragging the Bears are taking over the big trade that preceded the Bills’. The Bills, in fact, should feel like they won, in this draft and the next.

Obi Melifonwu, S, Connecticut: Melifonwu has incredible length at 6-4, 219 and is an athletic, rangy safety with good speed and instincts. He has very good ball skills and can be used as a matchup piece against tight ends or tall receivers. He’s also a solid tackler, making 118 stops to go with four interceptions last season, and created a nice buzz heading into the draft.

Cardinals release Daryl Washington after NFL reinstatement

Daryl Washington is allowed to play in the NFL again after being suspended for the last three seasons, but he will have to find a new team.

The Cardinals released the former Pro Bowl linebacker Thursday, the organization announced.

The bruising Pitt running back, only 16 months removed from a cancer diagnosis, was drafted by the Steelers in the third round (105th overall) of the NFL Draft Friday night, another milestone in Conner’s incredible journey.

The 2014 ACC Player of the Year was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma during Thanksgiving of 2015. Despite undergoing intense chemotherapy, Conner continued to practice, and returned to field week one of the 2016 season. He finished the season strong, scoring a key touchdown in Pitt’s upset victory over No. 1 Clemson and ending the year with over 1092 yards and 20 total touchdowns.

Conner, an Erie, Penn. native, finished his career with 3733 rushing yards, and is the all-time ACC leader in touchdowns with 55.

The moment Conner received the call from the 412 area code is pretty breathtaking.

There was a bit more levity on Mike Tomlin’s side of things, who joked that the Steelers wouldn’t reimburse Conner for his gas mileage driving from Erie to Pittsburgh.

Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi said Conner’s selection feels like a Hollywood movie. After all, this is a guy that, just over a year ago, received some of the worst news a human can possibly get.