What Ravens believe will take Lamar Jackson to the next level

Calling this offseason the first real offseason for Jackson, new Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman declined to provide any details about Jackson’s offseason training plan but did reveal the emphasis: throwing mechanics and footwork.

“I think fundamentally is where he’s going need to put most of his work,” Roman said in his first news conference since being promoted to offensive coordinator. “I think where to throw the ball and seeing guys open, I think those are things that he naturally has. And I do think that those abilities have allowed him to get to where he’s been. Moving forward, consistent fundamentals are what’s really going to take him to the next level.”

Jackson proved he can lead a team to the playoffs. Taking over for an injured Joe Flacco, Jackson went 6-1 as a starter and guided Baltimore to its first AFC North title in six years.

Jackson showed he can be a playmaker. His 695 yards rushing and 11 runs of 15 yards or longer topped all quarterbacks last season.nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal

The greatest unknown about Jackson is whether he’ll develop as a passer. In seven regular-season starts, he produced one game with over 200 yards passing and two games in which he completed more than 60 percent of his throws.2

Jackson came to the Ravens raw in terms of fundamentals after being the No. 32 overall pick in last year’s draft, and he didn’t receive much time to develop as a quarterback in practice because Joe Flacco took a majority of the snaps. Quarterbacks coach James Urban would work with Jackson for about a half hour after practice to help him fine-tune the skills needed at that position.

“As far as him throwing the football, we feel great about it,” Roman said. “And we saw a lot of improvement last year throughout the season, and really, he’s only going to get better from here. I think there’s some fundamental things that were exposed to him last year that he’s really grabbed hold of, and we saw him improve. Man, the sky is the limit there.”

What excites Roman about Jackson’s potential in the passing game is that he brings intangibles that can’t be taught. Jackson has a great feel for the game and impressed the coaching staff almost immediately with his field vision, which reminded Roman of the vision of another Ravens quarterback.nike nfl jerseys for cheap

“He’s not going to be the guy that, ‘Oh man, they dropped coverage on him, and he just didn’t see it,'” Roman said. “I think that is critical, and it’s hard to measure or see. Moving forward, what does that do? That takes the ceiling and moves it up. We know that ceiling is going to be higher. Steve McNair was like that, for example. Steve had an uncanny ability to see guys that might not have been part of the progression as having good leverage. I want to say the second week that he was here last year, I was like, ‘Wow, that’s something Steve would’ve done in practice.’ I feel great about that.”

Kevin De Bruyne returns, Man City survive penalties to advance to Carabao Cup semis

It was another penalty shootout in the quarterfinals of the Carabao Cup for these two sides and it was the same result as City squeezed through, barely.

Aro Muric making just his third appearance was the hero as he saved from James Maddison and Caglar Soyuncu as City went through 3-1 on spot kicks.

They weren’t the greatest penalties but the 20-year-old Kosovo international kept his calm to steer City through to the last-four as they continue their defence of their trophy.

It was a hardly a memorable shootout and Raheem Sterling probably gave the young keeper the biggest hug after his horrible Panenka spot kick floated over the bar.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

City had looked in control for the opening 70 minutes with the returning Kevin De Bruyne pulling the strings for the reigning cup champions.

Pep Guardiola’s side haven’t missed him terribly this season but, somehow on just his third start of the season, he showed he can still add even more to City.2

The Belgium midfielder took just 14 minutes to dance his way past young midfielder Hamza Choudhury and fire a 20-yard strike that beat Danny Ward at his near post.

It would be expected that De Bruyne would be rusty after two injuries that have forced him to miss the bulk of the season. But he looked effortlessly back to his best as he retook the role of creator-in-chief with Berando Silva and David Silva left out of the squad.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

He glided all over the pitch, leading the high press and working dangerous moments — whether it was through short, sharp interchanges with Sergio Aguero and Phil Foden or a long crossfield ball to Brahim Diaz with his wrong foot. His goal was the standout moment of quality in the first half.

Both managers had decided to make plenty of changes to their starting lineups, resting players for the busy Christmas schedule, but it was City that started the most lively, pushing the home side back, ultimately culminating in the Belgian’s opener.

Leicester were slow to threaten City’s makeshift defence featuring 17-year-old debutant Eric Garcia, although Demarai Gray forced a good save from rookie goalkeeper Muric before the interval.

Cubs know Brewers are coming for them as NL Central tightens

The Brewers have a combination of left-handed thump at the plate and a generational left-hander on the mound. Reliever Josh Hader faced 10 Cubs hitters in the two Milwaukee victories. He struck out nine and gave up a base hit. In fact, according to Elias, going back to his past three appearances, Hader is the fourth pitcher in the past three seasons to strike out at least nine in a row. He was electric, sucking the life out of the Cubs and the Wrigley Field faithful.

“He’s hard because the way he throws,” Javier Baez said, stating the obvious. “It’s tough to catch up.”

It doesn’t help that the Cubs are about as fatigued as a team can be right now. After Wednesday night’s 5-1 loss, they were packing their bags for an overnight flight to Washington, where — weather permitting — they’ll play a makeup game with the Nationals before coming right back to Chicago for a weekend series against the Cincinnati Reds. Then comes a quick trip two time zones west for three games against Arizona before another overnight flight home and finally — after 30 straight days at the ballpark — a day off.nfl jerseys nike cheap

The stretch might be one reason the Cubs aren’t scoring. Even all-world hitter Daniel Murphy is in a slump. He was 0-for-11 in the series against Milwaukee.2

“I got my teeth kicked in,” he said.

The same can be said for the entire offense, as well as the Chicago bullpen. The hold the Cubs have had on the division feels like it’s slipping away. And the Brewers are ready to pounce.

“The games have been tight, especially the games here at Wrigley,” Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said earlier Wednesday. “For me, it’s two good teams battling each other. It’s what you would expect.”

Right now the Brewers have an edge, particularly in the form of Hader. A best-of-five playoff series with two off-days built in would give Counsell the chance to max out the lefty. If the Cubs and Brewers end up meeting in October, there could be a changing of the guard, just as there was in 2015, when the Cubs took what the St. Louis Cardinals had owned for so long: division supremacy.cheap nike nfl jerseys china

“That’s a really good team over there,” Hendricks said. “They’ve been playing us close between last year and this one. They’re our biggest rival for sure at this time.”

Midseason awards, bad All-Star positions and MLB’s next big thing

The first half of the season has gone as expected and has been completely surprising. It’s been thrilling, and it’s been staid. It’s been heartening and disappointing. It’s been just another season — unlike any before it, but somehow very much familiar.

It feels like there has been more chatter than usual about the state of baseball, with attendance down and debates over tweaks to the game popping up almost daily. The drop in attendance is real, though the theories about it are not. The fact is, we don’t know why attendance is down. We suspect the likely factors — the weather, the stratification of the leagues, the lack of action generated from balls in play — but we don’t really know what is behind the slowly clicking turnstiles. We also don’t know if it’s a trend or a blip.cheap nfl jerseys china

It’s always good to take these wide-lens surveys of the game, whether you’re a writer, a fan or the commissioner. We should always be open to discussion about baseball’s place in the culture and its bid for your disposable dollars. Baseball has always been subject to evolutionary forces, is evolving right now as these words sink into your left cerebral hemisphere, and will evolve in the future even after we’ve all tapped into the universal subconscious. You can’t stop it.

While we’ve been preoccupied with the possible directions of this evolution, it feels like a couple of key parts have been overlooked.14

One: The game is still really fun and compelling. Sure, you run into contests where the strikeouts and pitching changes seem interminable. There are a few markets where there are currently too many low-stakes games, an unfortunate by-product of too many teams rebuilding at the same time. But in a few years, those same teams will be all-in trying to win.

And two: There are legions of people all over the world who still totally dig it.official nfl jerseys cheap

With that lullaby out of the way, let’s run through some first-half awards. All of them are made up. There will be no ceremony and no cash prizes. Recognition is its own reward.

Derwin James has shown flashes of his enormous potential

Derwin James’ eyes locked onto Philip Rivers as the veteran quarterback homed in on his target.

During a two-minute drill against the first-team offense at Los Angeles Chargers minicamp earlier this month, James read Rivers and stepped in front of a pass intended for Keenan Allen for an interception in the end zone.

“My eyes were on the quarterback, and I just saw where he was looking,” James said. “I dropped into my zone, and I was where I was supposed to be and made the play.”authentic nfl jerseys cheap

Those kind of instincts are a prime example of what Chargers defensive coaches expected when the team selected the Florida State product No. 17 overall in this year’s draft.

Chargers defensive backs coach Ron Milus said everyone in the building was excited when it appeared that a top-10 prospect like James would still be available when the team was on the clock.1

“Obviously he has the physical traits — his size and speed,” Milus said of James. “But I think the biggest thing that really sold me is that this is a man’s man. He’s a professional and you can sense that when you talk to him.”

Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley also remarked that while James is not one of the leaders of the defense as a rookie, he does have charismatic qualities that come through on the field.

“You’re starting to see him more and more [assert himself],” Bradley said. “… [Now] you’ll hear him talk like ‘Hey, it’s third down and this is what we need to do.’ So you’re starting to see him and hear him a little more as time goes on. I think as he gets a better feel for things those qualities will show even more.”

While James performed with confidence and flashed playmaking ability during offseason work, Chargers defensive co-captain Melvin Ingram said the Florida State product has a long way to go before he develops into one of the top performers on defense.cheap nfl jerseys from china

“No, I wouldn’t say as a leader,” Ingram said. “He’s out there doing what he’s supposed to do and making plays, but you don’t come in and do a three-day minicamp and some OTAs and become a leader. That’s not how it works. You’ve got to put your time in the right way.”

James is an alpha dog and has probably been the best player on his team since high school, but there’s always an adjustment when it comes to playing in the NFL.

Angels face unique challenge in trying to get Shohei Ohtani right

One hundred years had passed since a major league player simultaneously handled pitching and hitting the way Ohtani did during his first 10 weeks with the Los Angeles Angels. Now Ohtani is nursing a tender elbow that saps his ability to pitch without actually affecting his ability to hit, igniting a recovery process for which there are no parallels.

In other words, the Angels have unintentionally taken on the responsibility of crafting the blueprint for rehabilitating two-way players.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

They don’t seem to mind.

“It actually kind of fits the way that we prefer to operate here,” Angels general manager Billy Eppler said. “It pushes us more into a mindset of staying present rather than trying to worry about the future or trying to obsess over the past and things like that. It keeps us, really, present-focused.”

That present, from which Eppler refuses to stray, looks like this: Ohtani has a Grade 2 sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament of his right elbow, which basically constitutes a partial tear. In hopes of avoiding Tommy John surgery, the Angels — specifically Steve Yoon, an expert in the field of orthobiology — injected Ohtani’s ligament with platelet-rich plasma and stem cells, part of a low-risk, conservative treatment plan that uses a patient’s own blood to accelerate regeneration.

The Angels plan to re-evaluate Ohtani on Thursday, three weeks after the procedure. But a detailed plan for his recovery may take even longer to map out.70

Staying flexible, Eppler said, is “critical” in this circumstance.

Ohtani, with a .907 OPS and a 3.10 ERA as a rookie, could conceivably help as a hitter while recovering as a pitcher, a concept the Angels seem to be open-minded about. But the possibility of Tommy John surgery, which typically knocks pitchers out for at least 14 months, complicates everything.

“I think that’s kind of jumping,” Eppler said, “and the only reason why is because nobody has said ‘surgery’ to me. So I’m not going to think about it until somebody who’s a qualified M.D. tells me to think about it.”

For now, the Angels seem to at least be thinking about giving Ohtani a chance to hit. The 23-year-old has spent more than a week swinging a bat with his left arm in order to keep his hips active. On Friday, he stood in for Felix Pena’s bullpen session to track pitches and maintain some semblance of timing.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Eppler claims he has not yet spoken to Ohtani about the possibility of hitting while he recovers as a pitcher.

Meet the FCS prospect who became the NFL draft’s top TE

Larson had delivered Dallas Goedert, a program-changing star who would go on to be a projected first-round pick in the 2018 NFL draft. Stiegelmeier, however, wasn’t feeling it.

“The tape was really rough, actually,” he said.nfl jerseys for cheap “I saw a big guy who could control his body, but I did not see a dominant football player.”

There was no time to waste on a single prospect from a town of 1,250. Stiegelmeier stopped at Britton-Hecla High School once to watch Goedert play basketball but continued recruiting elsewhere. A few months later, Larson called again. He had just volunteered at a track meet where Goedert was tossing the discus like it was a piece of bread.

Life can turn on the chance of a random gift. Goedert wouldn’t have made it to South Dakota State without Larson’s repeated intervention. And if Goedert hadn’t made it to South Dakota State, albeit an FCS school, he would never have stuck the one-handed catch that catapulted him into the national consciousness. He wouldn’t have competed against FBS opponents such as Kansas and TCU. And, without a doubt, he would never, ever have become a projected first-round pick.

Goedert could be the first tight end selected when the draft opens April 26. The team that takes him will get 256-pound tight end with 10-inch hands like Odell Beckham Jr. and an affinity for dramatic plays. It will also take on a unique character who rides a 6-foot unicycle for fun, is ready to bust out from small-town stereotypes and isn’t opposed to wearing a leopard-print Snuggie to embarrass his sisters in public.182

“I like to bring the flair,” he said. “Fans of the city I go to will like it. If people are wondering what they’ll be getting, I’d say to think about how much fun and how much energy I’ll bring.”

You can trace Goedert’s elite receiving skills to the nighttime routine he began as an 8-year-old, when he would refuse to sleep until his stepfather, Gary Carlson, agreed to throw him footballs from his bedroom doorway.

Goedert showed up on the Brookings, South Dakota, cheap nfl jerseys campus in 2013 amid little fanfare. He redshirted his first year, then caught 34 passes over his next two seasons as he added 60 pounds. From the beginning, however, Goedert brought with him undeniable assets: big hands and a star’s mindset in deploying them.

To find gloves that fit, the school submitted a special order to Under Armour for size XXXL. With those mitts, attached to 34-inch arms on a 6-5 frame, Goedert could reach over any FCS defender.

Harry Kane on target for Tottenham but Pascal Gross earns point for Brighton

It was on this day last year that Brighton ensured their promotion from the Championship. On Tuesday night at the Amex Stadium they took a small step towards retaining their Premier League status for another season.

The fiendish nature of their run-in has been well-documented and Chris Hughton’s team must still face the Manchester clubs, Liverpool and Burnley in their final matches.nfl jerseys for cheap They needed something, anything, to allow them to breathe a little easily after a worrying run of one point from an available 15. This was it.
Brighton 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur: Premier League – as it happened
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The horror of Saturday’s 3-2 defeat at Crystal Palace was forgotten as Brighton put their bodies on the line to earn precious reward. The roar from the home crowd at the full-time whistle told its own story. Brighton are eight points clear of third-from-bottom Southampton, although they have played a game more.

Tottenham have a bigger match round the corner in the shape of Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United and Mauricio Pochettino appeared to have one eye on it with his team selection. He made six changes from Saturday’s home defeat by Manchester City and omitted Davinson Sánchez and Dele Alli from the squad entirely. He gave Toby Alderweireld his first Premier League action since 28 October and the centre-half was not overly extended.169

However, Pochettino made the point yet again that the league was the priority. The personnel changes, he said, were purely down to fatigue from the City game. “If we win the FA Cup, we are not going to play Champions League,” Pochettino said. “You only do that if you finish in the top four. Today was the most important game.”

For Tottenham it felt like points dropped. Pochettino was entitled to say that his team had “dominated” the game in terms of possession and territory but he was also on the money when he lamented a “lack of aggression” in the final third. They were unable to create sufficient clear-cut chances.

Harry Kane put Spurs in front with his 26th goal of the Premier League season – cheap nfl jerseys his Golden Boot rival, Mohamed Salah of Liverpool, has 30 – but Brighton showed their strength of character with an instant riposte through Pascal Gross’s penalty. Hughton had given him the responsibility after a couple of penalty misses this season by Glenn Murray.

Russell Westbrook and the siren song of the 3

Russell Westbrook finishes every pregame routine the same way, standing out of bounds deep in the left corner, slightly behind the backboard. He holds the ball under an arm, taking in bets from team staffers. One try? Two tries? Four tries?

Whenever it goes down — most often after one or two attempts — cheap nfl jerseys Westbrook will hold his pose for a split second, then sprint through the tunnel and to the locker room.

It seems he has spent his career set on proving to no one in particular he’s a good shooter. This is just one example. Westbrook is confident he needs only one try to make that pregame shot. And if he doesn’t make it, the next one’s for sure going down.

Westbrook’s relationship with the 3-pointer is a complicated one. It’s a shot he loves to take, but one that doesn’t always love him back. Each one is released with an unflinching, unwavering resolve, albeit from the hand of a career 31 percent shooter from behind the arc. It’s been an ongoing struggle.

“I need to stop taking as many as I’m taking, to tell you the truth,” Westbrook said in 2014. “I’m going to take those down as the season goes along.

“It’s not always a great shot for myself or my team. So I’ve got to do a better job of taking those out. My advantage is attacking, regardless of who’s in front of me. That’s my advantage. And I’ve got to use my advantage to help my team and help myself.”

After he said that, he went 0-of-5 from 3 the next game.cheap nfl authentic jerseys It was classic Westbrook, with self-awareness and self-belief at war with each other. Like Tiger with his driver, or Fergie with the national anthem. It’s the battle Westbrook has waged with himself for much of his career.

This season, out of 159 qualified 3-point shooters, Westbrook ranks 158th in percentage. During last season’s MVP campaign, Westbrook was free to fire unfettered. He attempted a career-high 7.2 3-pointers per game, hitting a career-best 34.3 percent. Some of his most memorable moments came from behind the arc, like the shot against Orlando, or the shot against Memphis, or the shots against Boston, or the shot against Denver.