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The Rams signed five free agents, including three receivers, on Tuesday.

USC receiver Steven Mitchell had an injury-plagued college career, but he started seven games last season and finished third on the team with 41 catches for 644 yards last season in earning All-Pac-12 honorable mention.

Southeastern receiver LaQuvionte Gonzalez played with Johnny Manziel at Texas A&M before transferring to Kansas, where he was dismissed after two seasons. He finished his college career catching 60 passes for 1,018 yards and 10 touchdowns, all single-season Southeastern records.

Georgia Tech receiver Ricky Jeune played in an option offense and caught only 74 passes for 1,492 yards and 11 touchdowns in his career.

The Rams also signed San Jose State guard Jeremiah Kolone and Weber State defensive tackle McKay Murphy.

In the No. 6 spot of the draft, that’s an utter steal.

Prior to the draft, it looked as though the Arizona Cardinals could be the odd franchise out among quarterback-hungry teams looking to get in on either Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen or Josh Rosen.

Miami kicker Michael Badgley, Stony Brook safety Chris Cooper, Mississippi State cornerback Lashard Durr, Syracuse receiver Steve Ishmael, UNLV cornerback Robert Jackson, BYU defensive tackle Tomasi Laulile, Central Arkansas safety George Odum, San Jose State linebacker William Ossai and Arkansas cornerback Henre’ Toliver were the team’s other signees.

Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia addressed his 1996 sexual assault indictment with reporters Thursday, saying the truth is on my side.

I’m here to defend my honor and clear my name. I was falsely accused and never given the opportunity to clear my name, Patricia told reporters at Lions minicamp.

Lions ownership released a statement of support for Patricia earlier Thursday.

Responding to a published report this evening from the Detroit News, The Detroit Lions are aware that a criminal charge involving sexual assault was brought against Matt Patricia in 1996. Matt was 21 at the time and on spring break in Texas. The charge was dismissed by the prosecutor at the request of the complaining individual prior to trial. As a result, Coach Patricia never had the opportunity to present his case or clear his name publicly in a court of law.broncos_087_2333ef8cbe0b56ff-180x180

Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg served that same role with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2010, when Vick made his remarkable comeback after spending 21 months in federal prison for his role in a dogfighting operation. Mornhinweg was the man who tailored Philly’s West Coast offense concepts to Vick’s mobility, and Vick responded with the best passing season of his career.

As a passer, perhaps Jackson’s most interesting ability—this he also has in common with Vick in his prime—is the ability to flick the ball with great velocity. At times, with just a little wrist movement, you’ll see him zoom the ball 40 yards or more on a line.

And though he’s obviously amazing as a runner, Jackson is disciplined enough to stay in the pocket even when he’s getting pressured. He is capable of moving to different areas of the pocket to evade the rush, resetting his body, re-reading the defense and making the throw under additional pressure.

Strahan is a Pro Football Hall of Famer, a charter member of the Giants’ Ring of honor formed in 2010 at MetLife Stadium, former co-host of Live! With Kelly and Michael, host of The $100,000 Pyramid game show, anchor on Good Morning America, analyst on FOX NFL Sunday, and so on.

The Giants have 12 retired numbers (including No. 14 twice) but haven’t bestowed the honor on anyone since Lawrence Taylor in 1994 and Phil Simms in 1995. Both last played in 1993.

Shazier underwent spinal stabilization surgery, according to an announcement from the team:

I’m not worried about him playing for us again, I’m more worried about him, Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler said via the Post-Gazette. Y’all have been updated as much as we have. The thing that we’re hopeful for and prayerful for is that he comes back and he’ll be OK. The football stuff is secondary. His life is a lot more important to me than football.tigers_074-115x115

Jason Witten carrying Cowboys cache to ESPN’s ‘Monday Night Football’ booth

It has been a long, long, long time since the Dallas Cowboys have collected any Super Bowl hardware, but that hasn’t stopped the NFL’s glam franchise from churning out fresh talent for high-profile TV gigs.

Last year, Tony Romo had a stunning debut for CBS. Now Jason Witten launches a new career with ESPN as an analyst for Monday Night Football.

The colt’s name is Justify, and in that instant, those other folk’s dreams will be left stone-cold dead in the barrage of mud that Justify’s wake will drill against their horses’ faces.

This will not be a horse race at all. What it will become is a coronation, carefully planned by trainer Bob Baffert, who won his fifth Kentucky Derby, and brilliantly engineered by Mike Smith, a jockey who at 52 years of age, is still steering race horses at a time when some guys his age do nothing more strenuous than taking out the garbage.

Smith guided Justify to a 21/2-length victory over Good Magic in the 144th Run for the Roses and earned his second Derby victory. It was his first Derby win since 2005 with 50-1 long shot Giacomo. Smith is the second-oldest Derby winner behind Bill Shoemaker, who rode Ferdinand to victory in 1986 at age 54.

I have this suitcase at home and every day I stuff more money into it. It’s the money I will bet on Bolt d’Oro before the race. Back when the future book came out, he was 40-1. I made a sizable bet right then.

He is well aware that in addition to losing his jockey, he faces a far more difficult burden. He is trying to become the first owner to train a winning horse in the Kentucky Derby since 1913.

The streak buster was Jack Price, who came to the 1961 Derby with a horse of suspect breeding, Carry Back. In early 1958, Price took over ownership of a mare named Joppy for $150 plus a $150 overdue board bill at his Ohio farm. In seven starts, she finished second twice and earned only $325. By then, she had been banned from the race track for continually refusing to leave the starting gate.

Price bred her to a stallion named Saggy for a mere $400. From this marriage came Carry Back, who came within a single race of winning the Triple Crown. Because of his humble beginnings, he was nicknamed the people’s choice. canucks_013

On Friday, the Cleveland Browns welcomed their new team members to rookie minicamp, which gave us our first glimpse at No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield as the Browns’ new franchise quarterback and No. 4 overall pick Denzel Ward as the Browns’ new shutdown cornerback. Unfortunately for Ward, his first day with the team ended with an injury. Fortunately, it sounds like a minor one.

According ESPN’s Dan Graziano, Ward left practice early on Friday with an injury. Before Browns fans panic, they should know that Browns coach Hue Jackson described the injury as a little nick. And Graziano reported that Jackson said they were exercising caution before Ward gets reevaluated Saturday morning.

National champion Alabama had four first-rounders: safety Minkah Fitzpatrick to Miami, DT Da’Ron Payne to Washington, linebacker Rashaan Evans to Tennessee, and wide receiver Calvin Ridley to Atlanta.

There were 22 underclassmen selected, with the Southeastern Conference having 10 players chosen. There were 15 on defense and 17 on offense — with the five QBs matching the 1999 haul and one short of the first round in 1983 that produced Hall of Famers Kelly, Dan Marino and John Elway.

In January, Avril said that he would push to continue playing.

I believe so, Avril said when asked if he will return to the NFL. Right now it’s all about recovery. I had surgery. I’m in the process of recovering. It’s a long process, a long journey. When I get to the end of that, then I’ll figure out what’s next.

For the first time, Maccagnan did not even put a final grade on any of the Top 5 quarterback prospects for fear that word might trickle out and jeopardize the most pivotal decision of his professional life. So, there was no record of the quarterback final grades in the Jets’ digital draft program or on the old-school cards that typically get stacked on one of the two big draft boards. Every other player except Darnold, Mayfield, Rosen, Allen and Jackson had a final grade next to his name. The cards identifying the Top 5 quarterbacks were separated from the rest of the cards.

Jackson bashers say his test score is a harbinger of things to come; that he would be better off using his superb athleticism at wide receiver a la Terrelle Pryor, who incidentally posted the second-lowest Wunderlic score for a quarterback (7) ever recorded.nike_jets_1634

The NFL has taken another step toward improving player safety by prohibiting the use of lower-performing helmets.

According to Jenny Vrentas of Sports Illustrated, six types of helmets will be banned immediately for 2018 while four more will only be allowed to be used by players who wore them last season. Per Vrentas, about 200 players wore one of the 10 prohibited helmets in 2017.

The NFL has worked to improve player safety with a variety of rules, most recently adopting a targeting rule that prevents players from lowering their heads on hits. However, utilizing the best equipment could potentially be an even bigger step to help players going forward.

Both of those decisions [with Nelson and Van Pelt] were made without him, one league source close to Rodgers told Robinson. In both situations, he had no influence with [the front office] before anything went down.

The team would be wise to do everything it can to make the two-time NFL MVP happy. The Super Bowl XLV MVP has just two years remaining on his deal. Upsetting him risks the possibility of his not giving them a hometown discount or even negotiating an extension at all.

I know he’s thinking about that stuff when it comes to the next contract because he should have earned a voice by now, the source added, per Robinson. In other places with [elite] quarterbacks, consideration is given to those guys. I think Aaron wants to be engaged in some decisions. But that’s just not the way it works [in Green Bay]. I think that’s obviously frustrating and it’s going to keep coming out.

Green Bay missed the postseason last season after going 7-9, a campaign in which a broken collarbone limited Rodgers to seven games. He passed for 1,675 yards and 16 touchdowns while posting a quarterback rating of 97.2.dolphins_085

Brett Favre, who officially suffered only a handful of concussions during his 20-year NFL career, said Thursday he may actually have suffered “thousands” of concussions.

Appearing on NBC’s “Megyn Kelly Today,” Favre admitted he is dealing with short-term memory loss, and he worries about developing chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the brain disease that plagues countless thousands of former football players.

Favre, 48, said the increased focus on concussions in recent years has led him to believe he had far more concussions than previously thought.

Favre played most of his career, 16 seasons, with the Packers, leading them to victory in Super Bowl XXXI. He is second all-time with 508 passing TDs and 71,838 passing yards.

Still, despite the discouraging news on Dotson’s meniscus, the Buccaneers could have him back in the fold well before the season starts. Rapoport reports that the veteran offensive lineman should recover in time for training camp.

Since arriving in Tampa as an undrafted free agent in 2009, Dotson has appeared in 100 games. He started 11 contests in 2017, all at right tackle.

After adding Cordy Glenn, the Bengals in the draft can either look to improve their offense or add a top defensive talent with their first-round pick. Hurst does not address a major need, but he is the type of defensive tackle the Bengals like.

After moving down from fourth overall, the Browns can get a high-upside defender in Josh Jackson and find themselves in the sweet spot for an offensive tackle later in Round 1. Williams is our top-rated offensive tackle, and in time, he can develop into the franchise left tackle Cleveland needs.

Cabinda says he believes Barkley has the chance to follow in the mold of former Eagles and current Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy.

“He’s very LeSean McCoy like, but bigger,” Cabinda said. “He can make you miss. He can run you over. He’ll jump over you. He’s very versatile in the passing game. You can spread him out in the slot. He can run routes form the backfield There are just so many ways he can beat you.”

Latest Giants 7-Round Mock Draft: Darnold, Chubb, or Barkley?dolphins_117

The weather forecasters got it predicting a lot of nonstop rain this weekend in the Motor City and it’s led to a lot of downtime for the Yankees .

The Yankees and Detroit Tigers were rained out on Saturday and, although it took a while, both ends of their Sunday doubleheader were washed out, as well. .

The rain began a few hours after the Yankees beat the Tigers 8-6 in Friday night’s series opener, a victory that highlighted by Aaron Hicks becoming the first franchise player  since Hank Bauer in 1956 to have a two-homer game that included an inside the parker.

The Yankees’ trip to Detroit was the second stop on a two-city roadtrip that began with two losses in three games last week in Boston.

Beginning Monday, the Yankees are home for 10 games in 11 games. They’ll face the Miami Marlins in interleague games Monday and Tuesday, host the Toronto Blue Jays from Wednesday through Sunday and then begin a four-game series against the Minnesota Twins a week from Monday.

For his career, Benwikere has made 111 tackles, two interceptions, 22 pass breakups, a sack and four fumble recoveries.

In the NFC, the 49ers would be a fascinating option. They have the quarterback, the cap space, the cash, the absence of a star receiver, and the need to create some excitement — and to have a pass-catcher who would get open against the likes of Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters.

The Panthers also could be an intriguing possibility, but a trade and a major contract for Beckham likely would have to wait until after the ownership situation is resolved.

Not many other teams would provide a good fit for Beckham, either due to the team’s current quarterback situation, the current cap situation, the current roster situation, and other factors that would make the risk far outweigh the potential reward. So, to summarize, the Chargers, 49ers, and Panthers would seem to be the most likely potential destinations — if the Giants are inclined to trade him and if a trade partner would be willing to both compensate the Giants and significantly compensate Beckham.dolphins_013

“We’ve got a fundraiser going where people can donate an amount of money for every score we have. I think it’ll be a great thing.”

And a reminder that Tebow’s predecessor isn’t done striving for the greater good.

The NFL announced the suspension in mid-March. The report did not identify the performance-enhancing substance involved in the violation.

Burfict will be allowed to participate in all offseason and preseason practices and games.

This will mark the third straight season the controversial linebacker has been suspended at the start of the year. He sat out the first three games of 2016 for repeated violations of player safety rules, including a jarring hit to the head of Steelers receiver Antonio Brown in the 2015 playoffs.

The NFL then suspended Burfict the first three games of 2017 for an illegal hit he made on a Chiefs player in a preseason game. He has also been fined and/or forfeited $2.9 million in salary during his career for violating NFL rules.

Below is a breakdown of the Packers’ schedule in 2018. Green Bay’s regular-season schedule, including dates and kickoff times, will be posted after it is made available by the NFL.

Toughest tests: Road games against the Seahawks and Patriots won’t be easy; Green Bay has lost the last three trips to Seattle, starting with the infamous “Fail Mary” game. It’s worth noting that Rodgers has never started a game at Gillette Stadium. The Packers also travel to the West Coast to face a beefed-up Rams team in what could be one of the most entraining games of the season.

Biggest breaks: The Packers avoid a trip to Atlanta, where the Falcons have scorched them three times in the last two seasons. The home schedule is very friendly. Keep in mind Green Bay finished 4-4 at home last season, and that included a 3-0 record with Rodgers.seahawks_042