Among Patriots’ biggest needs in 2020: Finding a tight end

After a 2019 season in which the New England Patriots finished last in the NFL in tight end receptions and targets, according to research by ESPN’s Stats & Information, what has the club done to address the position this offseason?

[Insert sound of crickets].cheap nfl nike jersey

There has been no movement, other than subtraction (the retirement of veteran Benjamin Watson).4

In one sense, it is understandable. The free-agent market was thin, especially once the Los Angeles Chargers placed the franchise tag on Hunter Henry. The Cleveland Browns moved fast to lock up Austin Hooper, formerly of the Atlanta Falcons, but at a hefty price tag (four years, $44 million, with $23 million guaranteed) that was likely out of the Patriots’ consideration.

Clearly, the supply didn’t meet the demand for the Patriots, who return 2019 free-agent signing Matt LaCosse and 2018 seventh-round draft choice Ryan Izzo on the depth chart. Improvement from LaCosse and Izzo would be part of upgrading the position, and perhaps working with second-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham — a player on a similar development track/knowledge base in the system — helps spark that progress.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

But the Patriots still need help, whether it’s via trade, the draft or the waiver wire. That’s why, when assessing the team’s needs, it starts at tight end — even more than quarterback, with one caveat: Only if the Patriots felt like a franchise QB option was available would they pounce (and that seems unlikely with their first pick at No. 23 and a trade up doubtful).

Hugo Sanchez, Javier Aguirre: MLS beats Liga MX in global reach

Former Mexico national team managers Hugo Sanchez and Javier Aguirre believe Major League Soccer is a step ahead of Liga MX in terms of global diffusion.

Sanchez starred for both Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid as a player and has coached in Spain at Almeria, while Aguirre is head coach of Leganes and was previously at Atletico.nike cheap nfl jerseys

And both agree that Liga MX needs to grow internationally for the league and coaches within it to get exposure in Europe.

“Without doubt I think that Mexican coaches are capable of managing in any part of the world,” said Sanchez, known as “Hugol”and who serves as an analyst for ESPN. “The advantage some of us have is that we first played in Europe and later coached in Europe, like in the cases of Javier Aguirre and I.8

“Sadly, in the Mexican league we don’t have visionary leaders that [internationalize Liga MX], like they did in England and Spain in promoting their tournaments,” he continued. “It would mean that games from Mexico could be seen in other powerful countries in the world. Instead, the United States are smart and do it better than us.“nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

Sanchez is the fourth highest scorer in the history of La Liga and the third highest scoring foreign player after Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Aguirre, who coached Mexico at the 2002 and 2006 World Cups, is currently fighting to save Leganes from relegation.

“No one sees us [in Mexico],” Aguirre told ESPN. “They see MLS and they don’t see Liga MX. They see the Libertadores and not the CONCACAF Champions League.”

Aguirre pointed to coaches Antonio Mohamed and Luis Zubeldia making the jump from Liga MX to Europe — Mohamed to Celta Vigo and Zubeldia to Alaves — but highlighted that it is increasingly difficult.

“After the World Cup in Brazil maybe [former Mexico coach] Miguel Herrera had an opportunity but it passed by,” said Aguirre. “They only see us in World Cups and it is a shame.”

The issues of the relative visibility of MLS and Liga MX made headlines in Mexico when Inter Miami’s Rodolfo Pizarro said that being part of David Beckham’s franchise would boost his profile and help him move to Europe in the future.

El Tri legend Rafa Marquez also warned that MLS is becoming more attractive to Mexican star players than Liga MX.

Jazz’s Rudy Gobert pledges to do ‘justice’ to justify next ejection

Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert was ejected late during Monday’s 101-92 loss to the Toronto Raptors, and he didn’t mince words at his displeasure about getting tossed.buy nike nfl jerseys cheap

“I don’t think it makes sense to me. But next time, I’ll do justice myself so the official can eject me for a reason,” Gobert told reporters.4

Gobert and the Raptors’ OG Anunoby were thrown out with 40.6 seconds left after jawing with each other. They received double technicals and had to be separated by teammates.

Gobert said Anunoby “tried to elbow me in the face.”cheap nfl nike jerseys china

“And the guy that’s getting paid to protect the other players didn’t do his job,” Gobert said, referring to the officials. “There was a little altercation, and we both got ejected when I didn’t do anything back, pretty much, which I don’t understand.”

Gobert finished with six points and four rebounds in 32 minutes. Anunoby had seven points and five rebounds on Monday.

Newcastle come from behind to beat Southampton with late strike

Centre-back Federico Fernandez smashed home a rebound two minutes from time as goal-shy Newcastle United came back from one down to beat visitors Southampton 2-1 in their Premier League clash on Sunday.

Coming into the tie having scored a miserly 15 goals in 15 games, Newcastle went behind when Southampton striker Danny Ings held off a defender before shooting across keeper Martin Dubravka for his fifth goal in five league games.

The home team had plenty of possession and threatened repeatedly from the flanks, but it took the introduction of substitute Andy Carroll to turn the game in their favour.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

More used to attacking crosses than putting them in the box, Carroll lofted the ball in from the wing for Jonjo Shelvey to get up highest to plant the ball in at the far post and level the scores in the 68th minute. It was the midfielder’s third goal in as many games.4

Roared on by the home crowd, the Magpies went looking for a winner and it came as full-time approached when Sean Longstaff’s shot from distance was fumbled by Alex McCarthy and Fernandez was on hand to thump the ball into the back of the net.cheap nike nfl jersey

Newcastle boss Steve Bruce credited striker Carroll, who has yet to score following his summer return to the club where he made his name, with turning things around for his side.

“The introduction of Big Andy had glimpses today of what he had 10 years ago,” Bruce said. “He looks well at the moment, big Andy Carroll coming on was a huge help.”

Southampton remain in the relegation zone in 18th spot with 15 points, while Newcastle go 10th in the table on 22 points, with goalscorer Fernandez indicating that they were not done climbing yet.

“We need to enjoy this period and build a winning mentality,” he said. “You never know where we can arrive at the end of the season, but we take it game by game.”

Celtics, Theis agree on two-year, $10M deal

Restricted free-agent forward/center Daniel Theis has agreed to a two-year, $10 million deal to stay with the Boston Celtics, CAA agents Michael Tellem and Aaron Mintz tell ESPN.cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

Theis will compete for minutes in the frontcourt, including at backup center. Boston lost five-time All-Star Al Horford in free agency, but signed free agent center Enes Kanter to a two-year deal and will return 2018 first-round pick Robert Williams.

Theis, 27, has averaged 5.5 points and 3.9 rebounds in his two seasons with the Celtics.1

Theis, a four-time German All-Star, played two seasons with the Brose Bamberg of the EuroLeague.cheap official nike nfl jerseys

Brad Wanamaker agreed to a one-year deal to return to the Celtics too, his agent Steve McCaskill told ESPN. Wanamkaer, 29, played six seasons in Europe before joining the Celtics a season ago. He was the NBA’s oldest rookie at 29 years old.

Redskins’ Adrian Peterson still has lofty goals, ‘same mindset’

The goal hasn’t changed for Washington Redskins running back Adrian Peterson, not even at age 34 and possibly entering an unaccustomed role. He has ascended all-time lists for a reason — because he hasn’t placed limits on himself. Not after a torn ACL and certainly not now, just because he is a little older.

Second-year back Derrius Guice returns to the Redskins — healthy, they hope. Yet Peterson’s mindset hasn’t changed when discussing his rushing goals.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

“It’s like 2,000 yards,” he said. “That’s something I always set my bar at. I look at last year and thought, ‘If this didn’t happen or that didn’t happen, I could have reached 1,500, easy.’ This year, I’m coming in with the same mindset.”

But he also is entering a different situation. When Peterson joined the Redskins in August, Guice was already done for the season with a torn ACL. Peterson started all 16 games and finished with 1,042 yards — slowing down in the second half of the season while surrounded by an injury-riddled unit. He averaged 4.44 yards and gained 604 in the first eight games; those numbers dropped to 3.81 and 438 in the final eight.2

When the Redskins return to training camp, however, they expect Guice to be ready; there’s optimism he won’t have to be eased back into playing time. However, that remains to be seen, based on how training camp unfolds.

“He knows there will be some hurdles,” Redskins running backs coach Randy Jordan said of Guice. “The great thing is he has one of the best players he can refer to and say, ‘Hey, man, when did you know you got it back when you came off your ACL injury?'”cheap nfl nike jerseys china

Peterson, of course, ran for 2,097 yards in 2012 after tearing his ACL in the 2011 season finale. He knows what it takes to return from such an injury. That’s why Peterson isn’t ready for any discussion about potential workloads.

“It’s way too early for that,” Peterson said. “I’m hoping he comes back. I’m excited to see what he’ll do once he’s cleared and able to participate.”

But Peterson does understand the situation. There’s also the belief that splitting time with Guice can extend Peterson’s career. At the end of last season, Peterson was dealing with several nagging injuries that slowed his game. Peterson’s 251 carries were his most since 2015; he had four games of at least 24 carries.

“Yes it can,” Jordan said of extending Peterson’s career. “There’s no question the man has taken a lot of hits, but also delivered a lot. The thing I’m trying to get them to understand: All you guys can feed off each other. It allows them to come to the sidelines and see the whole game in a different light.”

In other words: If one back on the sidelines notices the way the defense played a particular run, it can help him if he gets into a similar situation.

“From what I’ve seen in the preseason, before he got hurt he was good,” Peterson said of Guice. “Obviously, we know what he did in college. As long as we’re both being productive, I’m open arms on whatever they decide to do. I’m all about winning and helping these young guys.”

That doesn’t mean he is ready to hand over the starting job.

“That’s my mentality to be that guy,” Peterson said. “That’s what has kept me around for 13 years now … All you can ask for is open competition and the coaches as a group doing what’s best for the team to be the best.”

Saints’ Alvin Kamara has ‘good anxiety,’ and his football IQ shows it

Two years, two Pro Bowls, two playoff appearances, 3,146 yards from scrimmage and 32 touchdowns.

How much higher could the ceiling possibly be for New Orleans Saints runner/receiver/occasional return man Alvin Kamara?

Well, that’s exactly what he intends to find out.

“That’s where the anxiety comes from with me. It’s not like a bad anxiety, but a good anxiety. Like, I’m so anxious to see, ‘What else? Where could I line up, what else could I do, how else could I be successful?’” Kamara said of his mindset heading into his third NFL season.cheap nike nfl jerseys china

“That’s like the best part of this profession for me. ‘OK, he was good last year.’ But how are you gonna prove that you are what you are? What’s the next step you’re gonna take?”

Saints coach Sean Payton has been crediting Kamara for his intelligence ever since the team stole him in the third round of the 2017 draft. Just the other day, he reiterated that Kamara has a “real, real exceptionally high football IQ.” And he said the coaches even decided to give Kamara a fidget-spinner toy to play with last fall to keep him from getting too bored or distracted.

Kamara, however, confessed that he’s not as much of a football savant as Payton might think.

“A big thing with me, I’m always going to act smarter than I am,” Kamara said with a big laugh — recalling that the two-minute offense installations his rookie year were “horrible, dreadful” and that he would lie awake the night before, dreading them.

“So sometimes I might not know, so I’m gonna act like I know until I know. … Gotta fake it until you make it sometimes,” Kamara said. “Like my rookie year, everybody said it was easy. I’m like, man, look, there was sometimes I was out there, I didn’t know what was going on.”1

But Kamara insisted he is an “A-plus” now — “in that top percentage” — in part because he is constantly looking for ways to get better.

He has particularly gravitated toward quarterback Drew Brees because … well, it’s obvious, isn’t it? Brees has been one of the NFL’s elite players for nearly two decades.

“I kind of took a step back and was like, ‘All right, well, if I want to be the best, then I gotta know what the best knows.’” Kamara said. “And I think Drew is probably one of, if not the, smartest people playing football right now. So I was like, ‘All right, if I can get myself to try to be as in tune to the game as Drew … I can only get better.

“Just little things from recognition of defenses, our plays, knowing as much as I can about our offense, our playbook. … Just try to be thinking on all angles. That’s what Drew does a great job of, and that’s why he’s been so successful, because it’s like he has an answer for everything. It’s like the kid you hate in class because he always knows the answer. That’s Drew — but I love him because he’s my quarterback.”

Brees, meanwhile, credited Kamara for having a great balance of knowing when to work while still being a “fun-loving guy” who enjoys doing it.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

“He does have a thirst for knowledge,” Brees said. “And he picks up on things very quickly. I think that’s unique. So then combine that with exceptional athletic skills and you get the player that he is.”

Kamara said he tries to absorb as much as he can from all of his teammates off the field as well, whether it’s advice on nutrition or strength or training.

“I try to take little gems from everybody,” Kamara said. “Changing diets and looking for new things to get faster, stronger, get in better shape — I’m looking for all of it.”

Raptors’ Lowry: Thumb, treatment affect passing

Toronto Raptors star point guard Kyle Lowry tried to avoid discussing his left thumb injury on Wednesday during NBA Finals media day — but he did admit it’s affecting his play.

“It’s about passing. I’m a big passer,” Lowry said during an appearance on ESPN’s The Jump.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

“You know, the flicking of the passing, the kind of — the ball movement, handling the ball. During the game, honestly, I can’t feel my thumb,” he said, alluding to the treatment he is receiving to numb the pain in his non-shooting hand.

Lowry suffered the injury during the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Philadelphia 76ers.3

“I’ll have to take care of it after the season but I don’t want to talk about it as much,” he said on The Jump as his Raptors prepare to face the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday in Toronto.

“I haven’t complained about it, I won’t complain about it, I don’t care about it; I’m going to continue to do the things I need to do to make sure I can play at a high level. And that’s it.”cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Raptors coach Nick Nurse admitted during the conference finals against the Milwaukee Bucks that Lowry was playing through pain.

“Kyle’s hand is not great,” Nurse said last week. “You know, he’s — it’s hurt and it’s sore and it causes him a lot of pain. But he seems to be able to manage it through the game and do what he can do.

“He’s obviously scoring and playing great on top of the other things he always does, and we’re really [seeing] a heck of a lot of toughness and again, the spirit that he just wants to be out there and help his team any way he can.”

Eagles to add Kessler to QB mix, source says

The Eagles will sign quarterback Cody Kessler on Monday, a league source confirmed.

Kessler, who was released by the Jacksonville Jaguars last week, has appeared in 16 games for the Cleveland Browns and Jaguars since joining the league in 2016, completing 64 percent of his passes with eight touchdowns and five interceptions.

The move is not considered a reflection on any of the quarterbacks currently on the Eagles’ roster, but rather as an opportunity to add depth and experience, according to a source.nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal

NFL Network was first to report the anticipated signing.2

The Eagles remain high on both Carson Wentz and Nate Sudfeld, who is expected to have a chance to compete for the No. 2 role. They also drafted Northwestern’s Clayton Thorson in the fifth round of the NFL draft in April and feel he had a strong rookie camp over the weekend.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Kessler will have a chance to solidify a role during the spring and summer. He started four games last season for the Jaguars, posting a 2-2 record in place of Blake Bortles.

Jacksonville signed former Eagle and Super Bowl LII MVP Nick Foles back in March.

Back in Boston, Celtics honor John Havlicek

The Boston Celtics honored Hall of Famer John Havlicek before their playoff game against the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night, observing a moment of silence beforehand and then showing a highlight video during the first commercial break.

The Celtics also wore black warmup T-shirts bearing Havlicek’s No. 17.nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal

The leading scorer in the history of the NBA’s most-decorated franchise, Havlicek died last week at the age of 79. For the Celtics’ first game back in Boston since then, the team placed remembrance books in the concourse so fans could add their memories.2

“Hondo” Havlicek played 16 seasons in a Celtics uniform and won championships in eight of them — the first six in the Bill Russell era and then two more as the leader of a team with Jo Jo White and Dave Cowens. Havlicek, who was the 1974 NBA Finals MVP, was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1984 and named one of the 50 greatest players of the NBA’s first half-century.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

But he is best remembered for his steal to clinch the 1965 Eastern Conference finals and the call from longtime Celtics radio play-by-play man Johnny Most, who shouted, “Havlicek stole the ball!” The replay during the Havlicek tribute on Friday drew applause from the crowd before Game 3 of the second-round series against Milwaukee.

After the video, fans gave a 30-second standing ovation while a spotlight shone on the banner with Havlicek’s retired No. 17.