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#pounditTuesday, October 4, 2022

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Saints signing 3-time All-Pro defender

Dec 19, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen serves as head coach as Sean Payton has Covid-19 during the second half against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Saints are an infirmary right now, but help is on the way.

The Saints announced on Tuesday that they have signed veteran cornerback Chris Harris Jr. to their practice squad. Harris had spent the previous two seasons with the Los Angeles Chargers.

Now 33 years old, Harris has a decorated history. As a cornerstone of the Broncos’ iconic “No Fly Zone” defense, Harris was a four-time Pro Bowler and a three-time All-Pro in Denver. He also helped lead the team to their victory in Super Bowl 50 over the Carolina Panthers.

For New Orleans, two members of their secondary (Alontae Taylor and Smoke Monday) are on injured reserve while a third (Marcus Maye) has missed the last two weeks with a rib injury. Harris will likely just be a depth guy for them, but the 1-3 Saints need all the help that they can get for now.

Steelers in line to set unwanted franchise record in Week 5

Aug 30, 2018; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin watches the third quarter against the Carolina Panthers at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are in line to set an unwanted franchise record this coming weekend.

The Steelers are visiting Buffalo at Highmark Stadium on Sunday, and the Bills are heavy favorites to win the game. In fact, SportsBetting.ag says the Steelers are facing their largest pointspread in franchise history.

The Steelers are 14-point underdogs for the game. That is the largest point spread they have been on the wrong side for.

The Steelers’ previous worst point spread came in last season’s AFC wild-card game against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Steelers were 12-point underdogs in that game and lost 42-21. SportsBetting.ag’s records go back to the 1978 season.

Part of the reason why the spread is so big now is because the NFL is the friendliest it’s ever been to passing offenses, which has allowed scoring to proliferate. The Steelers just haven’t had the kind of explosive offense that can compete with the Chiefs, who have Patrick Mahomes, or the Bills, who have Josh Allen at quarterback. The other big reason why they haven’t been on the wrong side of a lopsided spread is because the Steelers have been remarkably good year-to-year since the 1970s. For the first time in nearly two decades, they have to endure some transition at quarterback.

Maybe Mike Tomlin and rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett will see this stat and feel motivated to prove the oddsmakers wrong.

Tiger Woods’ son has swing that looks just like 1 star golfer

Tiger Woods’ son Charlie is really improving his golf game, and his swing is starting to look very similar to one of the top golfers in the world — and it’s not his dad.

Charlie participated in the Notah Begay III Jr. Golf National Championship Central Florida qualifier last week in the 12 and 13-year-old division. He ended up in a three-way tie for one of the alternate spots after shooting 4-over par over 36 holes, including a 4-under round.

The Begay National Championship YouTube channel shared some video highlights of the top finishers, which included a few clips of Charlie.

Golf fans might recognize the 13-year-old’s swing as looking very similar to Rory McIlroy’s!

Here is McIlroy’s swing for comparison:

Given his dad’s connections, maybe Charlie got some personal lessons from Rory. Or he probably just worked really darn hard to mimic the Irish golfer’s swing.

Tiger was Charlie’s caddie for the event last week and seemed to love watching his son play.

LeBron James bluntly says he has ‘no relationship’ with 1 Lakers great

Jan 21, 2022; Orlando, Florida, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) against the Orlando Magic during the first quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

One Los Angeles Lakers legend will not be getting invited to Taco Tuesday at LeBron James’ house.

After this week’s preseason opener against the Sacramento Kings, the Lakers star James was asked about Basketball Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as he closes in on Abdul-Jabbar’s all-time NBA scoring record.

James bluntly replied that he had “no thoughts and no relationship” with the big man great Abdul-Jabbar.

The four-time champion James likely has a sour taste in his mouth because of Abdul-Jabbar’s harsh public criticisms of him. Abdul-Jabbar, a longtime activist who has amplified his voice for social change through op-ed pieces in recent years, has gone after James multiple times since James became a Laker. Abdul-Jabbar has taken issues with everything from James’ sharing of supposed misinformation regarding the COVID-19 pandemic to James’ antics on the basketball court. You can read more about their history here.

James now appears to hitting back at Abdul-Jabbar lately and left the 75-year-old off a recent list of his all-time Lakers (though James did include himself on the list).

In fairness, Abdul-Jabbar has backtracked and issued public apologies to James over his various criticisms. In a new op-ed piece, Abdul-Jabbar even said James’ activism as an athlete was on par with those of Muhammad Ali, Bill Russell, Billie Jean King, Arthur Ashe, and Colin Kaepernick. But nonetheless, James still seems to be holding a grudge against No. 33.

Details on Paul Chryst’s buyout from Wisconsin revealed

Paul Chryst was fired by Wisconsin on Sunday, a day after his Badgers lost badly at home to Illinois 34-10. Chryst’s firing comes less than a year after he received a 5-year contract extension in January.

Chryst’s buyout was supposed to be $19.5 million. According to The Athletic’s Matt Fortuna, Chryst agreed to a reduced buyout of $11 million.

Though that’s only 56 percent of his full buyout amount, it’s still quite a hefty sum.

Chryst’s Badgers played well below expectations this season. They lost at home to Washington State 17-14 in their second game. They got blitzed badly by Ohio State in their fourth game. And then they got embarrassed at home by Illinois on Saturday to drop to 2-3.

Chryst was in his eighth season at Wisconsin after three years at Pitt. He was 67-26 as the school’s head football coach, including a 6-1 record in bowl games.

AJ McCarron could get another shot with 1 NFL team?

Aug 17, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans quarterback AJ McCarron (2) looks on during warm ups before a game against the Detroit Lions at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

At 32 years old and coming off a torn ACL, AJ McCarron may not be done in the NFL just yet.

Mike Garafolo of NFL Network reported on Tuesday that the veteran quarterback McCarron is working out this week for the New York Giants. Garafolo notes that McCarron was a member of the Buffalo Bills in 2018, giving him history with Giants head coach Brian Daboll and GM Joe Schoen.

The Giants are facing a potential dilemma at the quarterback position after starter Daniel Jones (ankle) and backup Tyrod Taylor (concussion) were injured in Week 4 against the Chicago Bears. The only other QB on their roster right now is Davis Webb, who is currently on the practice squad.

McCarron, a three-time national champion in college at Alabama, has six total seasons of NFL experience as a backup. But he tore his ACL during a preseason game in Aug. 2021 as a member of the Atlanta Falcons and has been unsigned ever since.

A year and some change removed from that injury though, McCarron may be ready again to provide depth to a QB-needy side like the Giants. Just a few months ago, McCarron worked out for another interesting NFL team.

Report reveals more details about Karl-Anthony Towns’ health scare

Jul 9, 2019; Marina del Rey, CA, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns attends the Gatorade Athlete of the Year Awards at Ritz-Carlton. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

More information is emerging about what led to Minnesota Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns’ recent hospitalization.

Brian Windhorst of ESPN reported this week that Towns came down with a throat infection that forced him to be on bed rest for days. The report adds that Towns also had trouble breathing because of the infection.

The three-time NBA All-Star Towns spoke to reporters about his health scare earlier this week. He revealed that he lost a significant amount of weight because of the illness.

Towns, who led Minnesota last season with 24.6 points and 9.8 rebounds per game, is now back with the Timberwolves after missing all of training camp. The regular season begins for Minnesota on Oct. 19, which gives the 26-year-old Towns plenty of time to get back up to speed after his illness.

Matt Rhule seemingly throws Baker Mayfield under the bus

Aug 26, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) throws before the game against the Buffalo Bills at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

The Carolina Panthers are sticking with Baker Mayfield as their starting quarterback in Week 5, but head coach Matt Rhule has seemingly put the former top overall pick on notice.

The Panthers rank last in total offense through the early part of the season with just 262.3 yards per game. Rhule spoke with reporters on Monday about those struggles, and he pointed the finger at Mayfield.

“We have to get it fixed because the protection is good enough that we can settle that down a little bit. That has to happen this week. It’s been four weeks of it,” Rhule said, via Ellis Williams of the Charlotte Observer. “We just need Baker to settle down and play within the scheme and play on time. Those are the things that we coach. Those are the things that we believe in, he believes in.”

You could say Rhule was stating the obvious. However, it is noteworthy that he mentioned how the protection has been good enough. That seemed like his roundabout way of saying Mayfield has been Carolina’s biggest problem. Though, there is certainly an element of truth to that.

“When fans pay their money to come here, they deserve to see better football than we played (on Sunday),” Rhule said. “We played good defense, but people want to see offense. They want to be entertained. … When you play the way we played on defense for long parts of that game, we just need the offense to kind of kick in a little bit and make some plays.”

There is a reason there was barely any trade market for Mayfield during the offseason. While he does not have the best supporting cast, he has looked like the same player we saw with the Cleveland Browns. The Panthers simply do not have a better option on their roster.

One prominent analyst recently blamed Rhule and his staff for Carolina’s struggles, but the coach strongly disagreed. Rhule has made it pretty obvious that he believes his team’s issues begin at quarterback.

Jimbo Fisher addresses relationship with Nick Saban

Jul 16, 2018; Atlanta, GA, USA; Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher addresses the media and answers questions during SEC football media day at the College Football Hall of Fame. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The public feud between Nick Saban and Jimbo Fisher became the biggest story of the offseason in college football, and we are going to hear plenty about it heading into Saturday night’s game between Alabama and Texas A&M. What we should not expect is either coach to fuel the narrative.

Fisher on Monday was asked where his relationship with Saban stands. He said both coaches have “moved on” from whatever issues they had months ago.

“That’s over with,” Fisher said, per Tyler Shaw of KBTX 3. “He and I are in great shape and we’ve moved on.”

While speaking at a dinner party in Birmingham, Ala., back in May, Saban was critical of the way some programs have been violating Name, Image and Likeness rules. He singled out Texas A&M and said they “bought every player on their team.” Fisher responded by unloading on his former boss for being a “narcissist.” Fisher indicated at the time that he wants nothing to do with Saban anymore.

Fisher also spoke on Monday about how much he learned while working as an assistant under Saban.

“I’ve been around some successful people, so you learn a lot of things,” he said. “Nick’s just a tremendous coach, arguably people would say he’s one of the best ever or the best ever. That could very well be.”

That was not the first time Fisher backed down from his harsh comments about Saban.

Texas A&M is coming off a disappointing loss to Mississippi State. Alabama quarterback Bryce Young may not be able to play on Saturday because of a shoulder injury. You can understand why both Fisher and Saban want their players focusing all their attention on the task at hand.

Spurs rookie goes viral for his look similar to 1 NBA legend

Jun 23, 2022; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Jeremy Sochan (Baylor) shakes hands with NBA commissioner Adam Silver after being selected as the number nine overall pick by the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the 2022 NBA Draft at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The vibe of one San Antonio Spurs rookie looks pretty darn familiar.

Spurs forward Jeremy Sochan has been going viral during the first few days of training camp and the preseason for his interesting look. Sochan has his hair dyed pink and blue and wears the No. 10 — naturally inviting comparisons to Basketball Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman.

The 19-year-old Sochan, who also played with his hair dyed during college at Baylor and is known for his pesky defense and rebounding, was asked about the Rodman comparisons at training camp.

“There will be times where people don’t like me,” replied Sochan, per Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News. “But I think that’s just the way basketball is played. Definitely been watching Dennis Rodman.”

Sochan, the No. 9 overall pick in this year’s draft, was born in 2003, well after Rodman played in his final NBA game. But that is not stopping him from channeling Rodman, who wore No. 10 on the Spurs and first began dyeing his hair while he was in San Antonio.

The five-time champion Rodman is enjoying renewed popularity among NBA players lately. Earlier this week, we saw another more well-known player also paying tribute to The Worm.