The New England Patriots have plenty of concerns along the offensive line heading into the 2018 season, and they were dealt a major blow in Thursday night’s preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Rookie offensive tackle Isaiah Wynn, who was carted off the field with what was initially called an ankle injury, has suffered a torn Achilles and will miss the entire year.
Patriots’ first-round pick, OT Isaiah Wynn, tore his Achilles vs. the Eagles and he will be out for the season, per source. The worst of the preseason on display.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 17, 2018
The Patriots drafted Wynn with the No. 23 overall pick, which shows you how much of a need offensive line help was for them this offseason. The former Georgia star had a chance to be a full-time starter.
The play where Wynn injured himself did not look all that bad, but the news could not have been much worse.
Josh Gordon made the surprising announcement last month that he is leaving the Cleveland Browns temporarily despite reports that he has not failed a drug test or violated any NFL rules, and there has been speculation that his leave of absence could have to do with an ongoing child support case.
Back in 2016, a warrant was issued for Gordon’s arrest after he was ordered by a court to submit a DNA sample for a paternity test. Gordon later acknowledged that the child in question was his, but he is still wrapped up in a child support battle with the 3-year-old’s mother.
According to court records obtained by WKYC.com, an attorney representing the child’s mother threatened to “air sensitive information to the public in an effort to embarrass [Gordon]” during a heated child custody dispute just days before Gordon announced he is leaving the Browns. While Gordon was making very little money during his lengthy NFL suspension, he will soon begin collecting his hefty salary again, and a judge ruled on July 20 that Gordon must make monthly child support payments of $6,765 beginning on Aug. 1.
While it’s unclear if the ongoing court battle had anything to do with Gordon’s decision to leave the Browns, Phil Trexler of WKYC.com notes that Gordon checked himself into rehab in September 2016 just days after he received the results of the paternity test.
A judge has issued a temporary order requiring Gordon to submit child support payments, but Gordon’s legal team filed a court motion on July 31 asking that the order be rescinded. Court documents showed that Gordon sent a text message to the mother of the 3-year-old last year discussing child support payments to her and another woman.
“After my debt and monthly bills, I’d say it could range from 2-4k for U and [the second mother],” Gordon wrote. “My salary goes up next year so I could afford more & after that hopefully a new contract & I can afford more but for now … I can barely afford any of it.”
The Browns have said that the issues Gordon is dealing with are personal, though we have been given some hints as to a timetable for his return.
- Josh Gordon
Saquon Barkley left practice on Monday with a hamstring injury that has been described as fairly minor, but the rookie feels it could have been avoided altogether if he had done more to prevent it.
While speaking with reporters on Thursday about his strained hamstring, Barkley seemingly blamed himself for the injury.
“Something like this happens and you have so much time to reflect, so you reflect on things you could have done differently,” he said, via Paul Schwartz of the New York Post. “I probably could have done everything differently, a little more of this, a little more of that. Continue to grow and be a vet in that area and be a pro.”
A lot of players would chalk a hamstring injury up to bad luck, but Barkley obviously feels he is responsible for whatever happens to his own body. While he will not play in Friday night’s preseason game against the Detroit Lions, the former Penn State star insists he is working on everything he can even while resting his hamstring.
“My hamstring might be hurt, but that’s not going to stop my hands, not stop my arms, or even really I can do stuff with my hamstring whether it’s in the weight room or extra stuff in therapy or treatment,” Barkley said. “Catching balls, being locked into plays, even though I’m not able to practice, I’m not going to let this be a negative setback. I’m going to let it be a positive and continue to grow from it and be a better player from it.”
We know one fitness guru who works with NFL players would be proud of Barkley for insisting he could have prevented his injury, and you have to love the work ethic. Even if Barkley’s injury was nothing more than bad luck, Giants fans should like the fact that he is holding himself accountable.
- Saquon Barkley
New York Mets reliever Jerry Blevins had one of the most memorable games of his career on Thursday night, and that had nothing to do with anything the veteran accomplished on the mound.
The Mets racked up an incredible 25 hits in Thursday’s 24-4 win over the Philadelphia Phillies, and Blevins had one of them. It was the first hit of his 12-year MLB career, and the left-hander tweeted about it after the game.
Thanks to all who has reached out and said congratulations. I can’t wait to tell my grandkids I got a hit off of Clayton Kershaw.
— Jerry Blevins (@jerryblevins) August 17, 2018
Obviously, the Mets were not playing the Los Angeles Dodgers. Blevins’ hit actually came off a position player because the Phillies were getting blown out so bad that they decided to save their bullpen.
Blevins, 34, was 0-for-3 in his career prior to getting his first hit. Relievers rarely ever get opportunities to bat in the National League, and players in general rarely ever get to hit against position players. Kudos to Blevins for taking advantage and reaching a career milestone.
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- Jerry Blevins
One of Oregon’s assistant coaches had extremely high praise for quarterback Justin Herbert.
Ducks wide receivers coach Mike Johnson says that Herbert is throwing passes like an NFL quarterback.
Ducks WR coach Michael Johnson spent 10 years coaching in the NFL and was a QBs coach and OC at that level. Today he complimented Justin Herbert by saying "he's throwing balls the way NFL quarterbacks throw balls. He’s putting them in places you don’t normally get them."
— Andrew Greif (@AndrewGreif) August 17, 2018
Johnson was a former quarterback and also coached quarterbacks for a good portion of his career as an offensive coach in the NFL. He knows what NFL-caliber quarterbacks look like, so that’s a strong endorsement.
Herbert will be one of the players to watch this season in college football. The junior has thrown for 34 touchdowns and nine interceptions during his career. Oregon went 6-2 in games he played last year and 1-4 without him while he recovered from a collarbone injury. There’s a reason he made our list of the top quarterbacks in college football.
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- College Football
- Justin Herbert
Rather than trusting The Process, Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer is making it clear that he very much doubts it.
Speaking with fans and season ticket holders at an event this week, Ballmer said that the Clippers would not be tanking for a high draft pick this season and got in a shot at the Philadelphia 76ers while he was at it.
“That ain’t us. Nuh-uh, no way,” said Ballmer of bottoming out, per Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times. “People can do it their way. We’re going to be good our way. We’re not going to show up and suck for a year, two years.
“I think we got higher expectations on us than the long, hard five, six years of absolute crap like the 76ers put in,” he continued. “How could we look you guys in the eye if we did that to you?”
To be fair, the Sixers only actively tanked for four years as part of The Process, the brainchild of former general manager Sam Hinkie. The gambit also helped them put together an elite young core of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz, Dario Saric, and others, a group that won 52 games last season. But the cost of that was a combined 253 losses over those four seasons and a totally unwatchable product on their floor for their fans for all that time.
The Clippers, meanwhile, are now facing a talent vacuum that could see the losses pile up for them in a similar fashion over the next few years. However, Ballmer has always been one to try to keep his team as relevant as possible, so a Hinkie-esque total free fall seems quite unlikely for them.
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Tom Brady and Nick Foles finally got together on Thursday night for a handshake many felt should have happened six months ago, though the New England Patriots star insists any talk about the interaction — or lack thereof — has been overblown.
After the Philadelphia Eagles beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl, Brady and Foles never connected for the customary postgame handshake between quarterbacks. Some felt Brady wondered if Brady snubbed Foles intentionally, but Brady said after Thursday’s preseason game that he would never do that.
Brady says he heard the chatter about how he didn’t shake Foles’ hand following the Super Bowl: “I did hear that. That was kind of made up to me because that was never my intention. I wouldn’t be a bad sport.”
The two met up on the field after the game tonight. Handshake. Hug. pic.twitter.com/XTmVV00xXB
— Phil Perry (@PhilAPerry) August 17, 2018
Foles said earlier this week that he had not heard from Brady since the Super Bowl, though he defended the five-time Super Bowl champion and said he is a “great guy” whom Foles had an opportunity to talk with several years ago during a joint practice. Like Brady, Foles downplayed the perceived Super Bowl snub on Thursday.
Nick Foles: "It was great to see him…He's a great dude, a heck of a player, one of the greatest of all time. … I know everyone made a big deal of the Super Bowl, but the Super Bowl is chaos after. He was nice, as he is always is. I wished him the best of luck this season." https://t.co/u6CNibVC7F
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) August 17, 2018
Brady has been accused of snubbing star opponents on postgame handshakes in the past, but there’s really no reason to think it’s intentional. The chaos that follows games — especially the Super Bowl — is enough for signals to get crossed every now and then.
Many quarterbacks are just looking to escape the preseason without suffering an injury and hope to avoid contact. Teddy Bridgewater approached Thursday’s game with a different mentality.
Bridgewater is returning from a devastating knee injury suffered prior to the 2016 season and competing for the New York Jets’ starting quarterback job. He looked pretty good too, going 10-of-15 for 127 yards, a touchdown and an interception against Washington. He also rushed once for four yards.
Bridgewater said after the game that he wanted to get hit to challenge himself.
More Teddy Bridgewater (@teddyb_h2o): "I could have thrown the ball away or run out of bounds, but I wanted to challenge myself & see if I could take a hit. It was fun. Get up, smile, tell the guys, 'Hey, that was nothing. Next play.'"
— Manish Mehta (@MMehtaNYDN) August 17, 2018
Teddy Bridgewater (@teddyb_h2o): "I just wanted to get hit. I don’t know if it’s the right thing to do or say as a QB, but for me, it’s just continuing to knock down that mental block."
— Manish Mehta (@MMehtaNYDN) August 17, 2018
His mentality actually makes sense. Bridgewater needs to prove to himself that he can compete at the NFL level and that he is ready to take the physical pounding after missing so much time. He looked great on Thursday and was very accurate with his passes.
If the Jets aren’t planning to keep him, they will probably find a few takers on the trade market.
- Teddy Bridgewater
Dereck Rodriguez wound up as collateral damage of Tuesday night’s fight against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The San Francisco Giants right-hander was placed on the 10-day disabled list on Thursday with a Grade 1 hamstring strain. Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Rodriguez suffered the injury during the aforementioned benches-clearing brawl with the Dodgers.
Rodriguez hurt the hamstring during the altercation Tuesday. #sfgiants
— Henry Schulman (@hankschulman) August 17, 2018
Yasiel Puig and Nick Hundley were the primary combatants in the incident, which occurred in the seventh inning of the eventual 2-1 Giants win. Puig got a fine and a two-game suspension as a result, while Hundley was also fined.
As for Rodriguez, who holds a 2.25 ERA in 12 starts this year and is the son of Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez, his injury is not quite unprecedented. Earlier this season, we saw another pitcher get hurt under very similar circumstances.
Jason Witten thinks one of the big keys to the Dallas Cowboys’ offense this season will be who emerges among the wide receivers.
Witten surprisingly retired during the offseason to take a broadcasting job with ESPN. With his departure and Dez Bryant’s, the Cowboys lost their two most-targeted players in the passing game. Now Witten says the Cowboys need one of their receivers to step up.
Witten made his comments during an ESPN “Monday Night Football” telecast of the Jets-Redskins preseason game on Thursday. Cowboys reporter Jon Machota transcribed the former tight end’s thoughts.
Jason Witten on Monday Night Football breaking down the Cowboys offense pic.twitter.com/xlEYWZ1k4R
— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) August 17, 2018
“Look, they got to have someone in this wide receiver group step up,” Witten said. “The receiving corps, they are really embracing this challenge they have by saying, OK, you think we’re a bunch of no-names, we’re going to see. But this is a tough division … It’s going to be a tough challenge for them, but they’re embracing that. They feel like making it Dak-friendly is something that’s important for them.”
The Cowboys have Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley returning. They signed Allen Hurns and Deonte Thompson and acquired Tavon Austin in a trade with the Rams. Third-round draft pick Michael Gallup could also make some noise.
But if there’s one receiver who is going to step up this season for Dallas, Dak Prescott may have already hinted at the answer.