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Wes Welker ‘not worried about’ concussion history

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Wes Welker Jerseys’s concussion history became a concern again when he signed with the St. Louis Rams Jerseys on Monday. On Tuesday, the receiver dismissed those worries.

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“Not at all,” he said when asked if he was worried when he walks on the field, via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I’ve been cleared by the doctors and everything else. Obviously I’m not going to try and look for contact and everything like that, but I’m not thinking about it either.

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“I’m out there playing hard and playing the way I need to play to be successful. You start second-guessing yourself out there and that’s when you get in trouble.”
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Welker has experienced a string of concussions in his career, but the 34-year-old wideout said he played last year without a head injury.

“I’m really not worried about it,” he said. “I know I’m a poster child right now and everything else. I’m good and ready to play some ball.”

The Rams need weapons on offense, but two questions mainly stand out: How much does he have left? And will the Rams actually use him?

Welker’s play deteriorated even when healthy in Denver. His biggest weakness is lack of separation from defensive backs, something that isn’t likely to improve a year later.

The Rams hope Welker can be a third-down pass-catcher, a spot where they’ve struggled, especially in mid-rage conversions — they rank as the NFL’s worst third-down offense, converting 23.8 percent. St. Louis’ offense boils down mainly to cheap jerseys Todd Gurley runs, Tavon Austin Jerseys plays and an occasional deep bomb. It remains to be seen how Welker fits into that puzzle.

“We all know if (Austin) gets the ball in his hands, he can go the distance,” coach Jeff Fisher said. “Now, you have another guy that you’ve got to contend with that’s going to get you the first down.”

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Valentine does everything now, but he’ll need help

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Brian Hamilton Email Posted: Wed Nov. 18, 2015

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CHICAGO — After the win, after jj watt jersey cheap the 29 points and 12 rebounds and 12 assists, after the beaming athletic director held up a smartphone to note the only other player to ever record a triple-double against Kansas, after a call from that guy, who goes by Magic and who dropped his own triple-double on the Jayhawks some 36 years ago … after all that, Denzel Valentine had a request.

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“Can I sit down?” he asked from Michigan State’s bustling United Center locker room, a space buzzing from a 79–73 comeback victory over Kansas at the Champions Classic. To no one’s surprise, Valentine happened to be standing in the middle of everything. Of course he could take a load off, at last.

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It is only the middle of November, and we may not see a better individual performance this season than the one compiled by the Spartans’ 6’5″, 220-pound senior. It was a night that authoritatively announced his candidacy for national player of the year honors, fledgling as that race is. And still it might be a good thing for Michigan State if we don’t come across such a spectacle again.

College Basketball Video What we learned from Kentucky and Michigan State’s wins in Chicago

by Seth Davis

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 More The Spartans should be better off in the long term if Valentine is tasked with doing a lot, but rarely too much. And Tuesday was very nearly an example of too much of a good thing. Valentine was at times overtaxed by his responsibilities against Kansas, from initiating the offense to finishing late-clock. He overcame it for one evening, in a crackling performance no one soon will forget.

“I’m going to do whatever it takes to win,” Valentine said, before he retreated to the locker room chair and asked for a protein. “I don’t care what it is. If they want me to bring it up, I’ll bring it up. If you want me off the ball, I’m off the ball. I’ll check the best player on the team. I’ll do this. I’ll do that.”

But that’s too many plates for one player to spin during a season, even with a veteran who is as meticulous about preparation and diet as Valentine. The senior’s usage rate is 29.9% through three games, which is not in and of itself a worrisome figure. (Extrapolated across a season, it wouldn’t have ranked in the top 20 nationally a year ago.) More eye-popping is Valentine’s assist rate of 63.9%; he’s setting up nearly two-thirds of his teammates’ buckets when he’s on the floor.

That Michigan State would heavily involve its best, most seasoned player is simply a matter of good sense at this point. But the Spartans will be better off when guards like Tum Tum Nairn or Eron Harris earn enough trust or establish enough comfort to unburden their senior star by creating consistently for others. Thus Valentine can conserve his energy for decisive late-game moments. Indeed, Tuesday’s effort was made more impressive by how worn thin he was during it. “I know he was gassed,” Spartans guard Bryn Forbes said. “He was looking over at the bench, when I was sitting one time, and he just pointed at coach, ‘I’m exhausted, I’m exhausted.’ But he fought through it and finished out. That was big time. That’s what he does. Hopefully he doesn’t always have to.”

You’d figure Harris, who averaged 17.2 points per game at West Virginia two seasons ago, will find a niche he hasn’t discovered yet, averaging just three points and 13.5 minutes in two outings. It will be a relief if he can find buckets on his own with regularity. The development of Nairn may be even more consequential. The 5’10” sophomore and former top-100 recruit played in 39 games a year ago but logged just 15 minutes against Kansas, missing four of five shots from the floor. His usage rate of 16.3% through two games is low for a point guard. In Michigan State’s quest for a title, Nairn needs to be reliable.

Because there is a thin line between relying and over-relying on a star.

“It’s going to be game to game,” Spartans center Matt Costello said. “If he’s getting exhausted doing too much, somebody has to step up and take over. [Freshman] Matt McQuaid came in and hit some huge shots [against Kansas] to cover up for us, and I think that took the pressure off [Valentine] a little bit. As guys grow, as the freshman mature, as Tum gets a little more confident in his shot, it’s going to get better and better.”

College Basketball Video Tyler Ulis takes charge as dynamic Kentucky backcourt stymies Duke by Brian Hamilton
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It’s important to note that Valentine required 23 shots to get his 29 points, which isn’t the peak efficiency he or Michigan State is after. It suggests he can get better with help, too, even if he doesn’t produce lines that elicit calls from former Spartans great Magic Johnson, as his effort against Kansas did. Valentine flirted with a triple-double with a 13-point, nine-assist, eight-rebound effort against Florida Atlantic in the season opener. (“I was so mad I didn’t get it done,” Valentine said. “I was being lazy at the beginning of the game and didn’t get a couple rebounds.”) And he posted multiple triple-doubles throughout high school. But 29-12-12 is something different. “I never had 29, 12 and 12 ever in my life,” Valentine said.

To escape a game against a top-notch opponent with a signature win, Michigan State needed every bit of it. But it can’t rely on a reprise. The season will be defined less by Valentine ascending into the national elite than by everyone else coming along behind him.

“Coach [Tom Izzo] says I need to demand a little more, and I think I need to, a little bit,” Valentine said. “That’s what all the great leaders do. I’m going to get better. Our team is going to get better. I’m not even tripping right now.”

He was perhaps more concerned with getting in touch with Draymond Green, the current Golden State Warriors Jerseys standout and former Michigan State star who reached out and bludgeoned the Spartans on Sunday in a group tweet. Green told Costello that he’d freeze up against Kansas. He mocked Javon Bess’s ability to guard Jayhawks forward Perry Ellis. Green was trying to motivate the players at his alma mater, and Valentine had to concede that it worked. But now it was the senior forward’s turn to return the texts and return the trash talk after a job well done.

It was one more thing to do Tuesday, but Denzel Valentine was happy to take care of everything.

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Fantasy top 30 goalies: Darling will share starts

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Every Thursday during the season, NHL.com fantasy hockey staff writer David Satriano provides in-depth goalie cheapjerseys us analysis. From updated weekly top 30 rankings to trending players and more, Satriano is your go-to guy for fantasy goalie advice all season long.

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Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford has won the Stanley Cup twice and won 30 games in each of the past four full NHL seasons, and he’s gotten those wins despite not playing in more than 59 games. That means you can expect his backup, Scott Darling, to get between 20-25 starts.

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Crawford’s numbers aren’t up to his standards; his 2.57 goals-against average and .912 save percentage are less than his career averages of 2.35 and .916, respectively. He made 27 saves in a 5-2 win against the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday, but Darling has started two of the past five games and likely will start once this weekend with Chicago having back-to-back games at the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings.

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As Darling showed last season, he’s more than capable of coming up big when it matters. Darling was 3-1-0 with a 2.21 GAA and a .936 save percentage in helping the Chicago Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup last season. This was after he went 9-4-0 with a 1.99 GAA and a .936 save percentage in 14 starts during the regular season.

Darling is widely available, owned in eight percent of Yahoo Leagues. He’s 2-2-1 with a 2.51 GAA and a .912 save percentage and has allowed four goals combined in his previous three games. Chicago ranks towards the middle of the pack in goals allowed this season after allowing the second fewest last season.

TRENDING UP

Craig Anderson, Ottawa Senators

Anderson (74 percent owned) has been the go-to guy for the Senators recently. He’s started the past six games and had two straight shutouts before allowing four goals in a 7-4 win against the Dallas Stars on Tuesday. Anderson followed that up with 40 saves in a 5-3 win against the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday.

He’s 10-4-3 this season with a 2.71 GAA and .920 save percentage and two shutouts and is 4-0-2 in his past five games. Anderson will put up wins and save percentage (.916 in his career) although his goals-against is usually high (2.72 career). The Senators should compete for a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, so he’s definitely worth a look if you are in need of a goalie or have injury troubles.

Coming into the season, Anderson and Andrew Hammond were supposed to split time, but Hammond (32 percent owned) has been hampered by injuries. He’s played in four games this season (2-0-2, 2.42 GAA, .930 save percentage) and it appears that last season’s miraculous run by Hammond may have been a one-hit wonder.

TRENDING DOWN

Frederik Andersen Jerseys, Anaheim Ducks

Anderson (79 percent owned) did not dress Tuesday or Wednesday because of the flu, but has

had allowed three goals or more in four of his past five games. The Ducks have been playing better but Andersen? Not so much. His GAA is 2.54 and he doesn’t have a shutout in 16 games this season.

Even when he does return, Andersen could be benched in favor of prospect John Gibson Jerseys (11 percent owned) who made his season debut Tuesday in relief of Anton Khudobin (eight percent owned) and made 19 saves on 20 shots in a 5-3 win against the Calgary Flames and was rewarded with the start Wednesday against the Arizona Coyotes. After another solid performance (30 saves in a 4-2 loss), we could be seeing more of Gibson.

Gibson was 13-8-0 with a 2.60 GAA and a .914 save percentage last season but wasn’t able to overtake Andersen in the regular season or playoffs, but that could soon change.

KEEP AN EYE ON

Anders Nilsson, Edmonton Oilers

Cam Talbot (38 percent owned) put up solid numbers last season (21-9-4, 2.21 GAA, .926 save percentage, five shutouts) and clearly benefitted from playing on the New York Rangers. After an offseason trade to the Oilers, Talbot was expected to be the No. 1 goalie but has struggled (3-8-0, 3.09 GAA, .890 save percentage) and has allowed at least three goals in six straight games.

Enter Nilsson, who has started four straight games and eight of the past 10. His record is 4-6-1 and he hasn’t won two consecutive games yet this season, but he allowed three goals on 26 shots in a 4-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday after allowing two goals in each of his previous two starts. Nilsson is owned in eight percent of Yahoo Leagues and likely will see more starts.

WORTH NOTING

Carey Price returned last Friday after missing three weeks because of a lower-body injury. He made three starts for the Montreal Canadiens and won each of them, allowing six goals, although he left a 5-2 win against the New York Rangers on Wednesday because of a lower-body injury. Mike Condon (31 percent owned) will start Friday against the New Jersey Devils and could see an increase in ownership again if Price is out for an extended period of time.

Semyon Varlamov (69 percent owned) returned for the Colorado Avalanche on Monday after missing seven games and made 20 saves in a 4-1 win against the Winnipeg Jets. He started Wednesday against the Ottawa Senators but was pulled after allowing three goals on 13 shots in 22 minutes. Varlamov (3.22 GAA, .890 save percentage has not been great this season, but coach Patrick Roy hasn’t been pleased with Reto Berra’s play recently (four goals allowed in three straight starts). Berra did make 12 of 13 saves in relief Wednesday, so this one could get interesting.

Jets prospect Connor Hellebuyck was called up from Manitoba of the American Hockey League with Ondrej Pavelec (56 percent owned) expected to miss significant time because of a knee injury. Michael Hutchinson (35 percent owned) started on Wednesday and allowed five goals on 34 shots in a 5-3 loss against the Washington Capitals. Hellebuyck was an underwhelming 2-7-1-0 with a 2.41 GAA and .927 save percentage in the AHL, but coach cheap jerseys Paul Maurice said he would play “sooner rather than later.” Hellebuyck, who is owned in four percent of leagues, has the potential to have a Hutchinson-type run from last season.

cheap-chinese-nhl-jerseysTOP 30 FANTASY GOALIES

These rankings indicate fantasy expectations for this season alone. Value is quantified by projected starts, peripheral category coverage, timeshare situations, team defenses, past performance and overall upside in standard Yahoo categories, which include wins, goals-against average (GAA), save percentage (SV%) and shutouts. It is important to note that our rankings reflect sheer fantasy value, not necessarily the most talented goalies in order.

1 Henrik Lundqvist, NYR (SAME) 16 Roberto Luongo, FLA (-3)

2 Carey Price, MTL (DTD) 17 Kari Lehtonen, DAL (DTD)

3 Braden Holtby, WSH (+2) 18 Jimmy Howard, DET (-4)

4 Marc-Andre Fleury, PIT (SAME) 19 Sergei Bobrovsky, CBJ (+3)

5 Pekka Rinne, NSH (-2) 20 Craig Anderson, OTT (+9)

6 Jake Allen, STL (SAME) 21 Seymon Varlamov, COL (NR – INJ.)

7 Cory Schneider, NJD (+2) 22 Frederik Andersen Jerseys, ANA (-2)

8 Jonathan Quick, LAK (SAME) 23 Brian Elliott, STL (SAME)

9 Devan Dubnyk Jerseys, MIN (+1) 24 Ryan Miller, VAN (-3)

10 Corey Crawford, CHI (-3) 25 James Reimer, TOR (+5)

11 Martin Jones, SJS (+4) 26 Michael Hutchinson, WPG (+2)

12 Ben Bishop, TBL (+4) 27 Antti Niemi, DAL (-3)

13 Tuukka Rask Jerseys, BOS (+5) 28 Steve Mason, PHI (NEW)

14 Jaroslav Halak, NYI (+3) 29 Anders Nilsson, EDM (NEW)

15 Petr Mrazek, DET (+4) 30 Linus Ullmark. BUF (-3)

Dropped out: Mike Condon

Key injuries: Ondrej Pavelec, Jonas Hiller Jerseys, Andrew Hammond, Robin Lehner

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LeBrun: Alfredsson learning management ropes

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Senior adviser of hockey operations for the Ottawa Senators Jerseys is his official title.

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A Big Boss title, right?

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“I don’t know if I feel like one of the big bosses, but it’s fun to be around the big bosses,” Daniel Alfredsson Jerseys said, chuckling, in an interview last weekend.

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“I’ve really enjoyed it and I’ve come to enjoy it more and more, actually,” the Sens legend added in a serious tone.

Much like Martin Brodeur Jerseys is going through with the St. Louis Blues Jerseys, this season for Alfredsson is about figuring out whether NHL front-office life is for him, whether he has a lot to offer, and within that what exactly he would be good at if he wants to move forward with it.

“I’m trying to take in as much as I can from everybody,” said Alfredsson, who turns 43 next month. “It’s a lot to take in. Early on, I felt like I wasn’t doing anything. Now, my feet are a little bit wetter and I feel like I can speak my mind a bit more freely in meetings we’re having; I’ve got a much better feel for it. That’s why I say I’ve come to like it more and more.”

What does he like?

“I like the scouting part, watching games, especially our own team,” he said. “It’s way different seeing it from up top than it is playing. The development of the team interests me. Steps you take forward, backwards, how you handle it. Being in the office now and seeing everything that goes through, minor-league players, call-ups, how you manage that, it’s been a lot of fun. I don’t know if I would go on a full-time scout job and travel all the time, but this cheap authentic jerseys has been really interesting.

“I’ve also enjoyed being on the ice at times as well, helping out with different, more technical aspects, shooting and skills, I enjoy that part as well.”

He is a rookie all over again.

“I look at this as how I felt when Erik [Karlsson] came into the league and he brought energy every day,” said Alfredsson, who has a strong relationship to current captain and countryman Karlsson. “He made it fun for me again, being around young guys like that. That’s what I’m doing now, I’m the rookie now in the office, I try to bring energy and enthusiasm. Sometimes I’m as na飗e as a rookie player, I just try to keep my eyes open and ears wide and take in as much as I can.”

Alfredsson’s wife and kids stayed behind in Detroit this season because the decision to jump into the front-office job wasn’t made until September, after the kids had already started school. He was officially hired on Sept. 17. So Alfredsson is commuting.

“It’s hard to be away from the family as much as I am, but we know it’s just for this year and then we’ll find a solution,” he said.

“It happened pretty quickly. We talked a bit in September about finding a fit for both sides. And once we did, I just started working right away in camp and it’s been go, go, go.”

More than anything, Alfredsson has tried to be a sponge, listening to veteran GM Bryan Murray and assistant GMs Pierre Dorion and Randy Lee.

“To this point it’s just been trying to dig in and take in as much as possible in all different areas,” said Alfredsson. “Bryan, Pierre and Randy and the scouting staff have been very open with me and have gone above and beyond to help me out. I’ve felt welcomed and that definitely helped.”

Daniel Alfredsson Jerseys (right) is bringing enthusiasm to the management side, the same way countryman Erik Karlsson Jerseys did as a player. Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images

Alfredsson has been to Binghamton, New York, to see the AHL club twice so far to watch games and their prospects. But mostly it’s been time with the big club.

“Since it wasn’t that long ago I retired, I still relate to the players quite a bit,” said Alfredsson, who retired 2014. “I talk to them, see how they’re feeling and looking at things, try cheap jerseys to help them as much as I can, especially the young guys.”

The organization for years openly talked about wanting Alfredsson to work with the team in retirement. It had always been the plan. But then an emotional split from the team in the summer of 2013 put that in question. Alfredsson was in a contract dispute stunning the hockey world and signed with Detroit.

While the relationship between Alfredsson and Murray was maintained, the two of them famously going for a car ride together in Detroit in November 2014, the question was how Alfredsson and owner Eugene Melnyk could get past what happened that summer in 2013. Water under the bridge now, reports Alfredsson.

“It’s definitely behind us. There’s no hard feelings,” said Alfredsson, who signed a one-day contract last December to officially retire a Senator. “We just came to a point [in 2013] where I wanted to try something new for myself and my family. Bryan and I have discussed … we have a saying in Sweden: ‘You can say what you feel and you clear the air.’ We haven’t had any hard feelings against each other. We definitely respect each other. And with Mr. Melnyk as well, we felt this was a very good fit for everybody as this moment. And once this year is over, we’ll discuss the future. It feels great to be back here with this team and this city.”
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The new job also allows Alfredsson to spend more time with Murray, who stoically continues his battle with cancer.

“Bryan is an inspiration, there’s no question, I’m very fortunate to be able to come in and work for him,” said Alfredsson.

Watching Murray do his thing, such as talking trades with other teams, that’s also fascinating to Alfredsson.

“For sure it is, there are discussions going on, Bryan is working the phone quite a bit, just to hear what’s going on around the league and staying up to date with everything,” said Alfredsson. “Those discussions are interesting.”

Which brings us to one final and burning question. Is it too early yet to envision himself as Senators GM years from now?

“I think it’s hard to wrap my head around that right now,” said Alfredsson. “Does it intrigue me? Definitely, without a question. Do I think I have what it takes? Do they think I have what it takes? I think that’s what we’re trying to figure out as we go along here.”

Alfredsson paused, and then added before we wrapped up our phone interview: “But it’s fun to come to work every day, that’s for sure.”

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So far, so good for Donovan in his transition to NBA life

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That familiar look on Billy Donovan’s face in the huddle is there for a reason.

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When you’ve done this, stood in the belly of the basketball beast for as long as you can remember, another night doesn’t rattle you.

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So what if you’re doing it with NBA superstars hanging on your every word instead of with future NBA superstars hanging on your every word in college.

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It didn’t work out on this night, as Donovan’s Oklahoma City Thunder Jerseys couldn’t survive a late-game blitz from Jeff Teague and the Atlanta Hawks Jerseys at Philips Arena, losing 106-100 and seeing their four-game win streak come to an end.

But the mode and the message don’t change.

Thunder vs. Hawks

Paul Millsap scores 26 points and grabs 11 rebounds and Jeff Teague adds 25 as the Hawks defeat the Thunder.

“We put ourselves in a bad position,” mercurial Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook said, echoing the words of his coach from a few minutes earlier. “Whenever we’re locked in and ready to play, we have a chance to win the game.”

Donovan is just roughly a quarter of the way into his first NBA job, after spending the last 19 years entrenched at the University of Florida. Yet he seems every bit as comfortable working the sidelines at this level as he did as one of the elite coaches in college. And his quick connection with his players — specifically stars Westbrook and Kevin Durant — is one of his early strengths.

Generally speaking in college, you need that repetition on the floor, that constant drilling, to get better. These guys have played in so many games over so many years, they’re able to learn and grow by just watching film …

– Oklahoma City Thunder Jerseys coach Billy Donovan

He didn’t come into the situation trying to make waves after taking over in April after Scott Brooks was fired. He showed up with a detailed plan and a good understanding of what the expectations would be for any coach taking over a team with the sort of talent and depth the Thunder boast.

Donovan wanted to make life easier for them. As well, he wanted to take some of the pressure off of two of the game’s biggest stars — particularly at crunch time — while not tinkering too much with what’s worked for one of the league’s most dynamic duos.

“It’s been good,” Durant said. “We’re still learning. We’ve definitely gotten better over these last few weeks. Coach has been putting in some good sets cheap apartments in jersey city for us on offense and some different schemes on defense and we’ve been getting better at it.”

Nets vs.Thunder

Kevin Durant scores 30 points, Russell Westbrook adds 27 points and 13 assists and the Thunder beat the Nets 110-99 on Wednesday night.

Donovan’s measured approach has been the right fit with the Thunder, who are in Miami tonight for a tilt with the Miami Heat Jerseys (7 ET, TNT). It’s Donovan’s first trip back to Florida since leaving Gainesville for Oklahoma City and the five-year, $30 million deal that finally pried him away from the college game.

Donovan backed out of a signed contract with the Orlando Magic Jerseys in 2007, opting to stick to stick with the powerhouse program he’d built at Florida instead of trying his hand at the NBA.

The timing, however, was right this time. And it’s a move many of the NBA players who starred for Donovan at Florida felt was inevitable.

“It’s something he always wanted to do, so I knew when the right situation came along he was going to jump at it,” said Hawks All-Star center Al Horford, who was also on Florida’s back-to-back NCAA championship teams of 2006 and ’07.

We’ve definitely gotten better over these last few weeks. Coach has been putting in some good sets for us on offense and some different schemes on defense and we’ve been getting better at it.

– Oklahoma City Thunder Jerseys star Kevin Durant

“I think that the biggest thing for him is that he’s always focused on what he wants to do going into every single situation, and that helps no matter what level you are playing at, to have a coach like that. The good thing for those guys (the Thunder) is that he’s going to put them in good, winning situations. And as long as they trust him, they’re going to be fine.”

Donovan reputation preceded him in the Thunder locker room. With nine first-round Draft picks and enough former Florida stars in the league to fill out an entire NBA roster willing and ready to vouch for him, credibility was not a problem. That difficult transition that has devoured some college coaches trying to manage that transition does not appear to be an issue for Donovan.

That’s not to say there haven’t been a few surprises here and there. The pace of the season, the travel grind and the fundamental differences in how you approach the job daily requires some adjusting, no matter who you are or how prepared you may feel you are.

Pistons vs. Thunder

Kevin Durant scores 34 points, grabs 13 rebounds and five blocks to lead the Thunder past the visiting Pistons, 103-87.

“There haven’t really been any surprises for me,” Donovan said. “I would say the one thing for me that you look at, especially with our veteran guys, is that they have so many games under their belts, so many experiences under their belts that a lot of time in college you need on the floor practices to get better as a team. We went through a stretch (last month) where we didn’t have a lot of practice time and we were really able to use film work to get better and improve. Generally speaking in college, you need that repetition on the floor, that constant drilling, to get better. These guys have played in so many games over so many years, they’re able to learn and grow by just watching film, and they’re able to apply it on the floor.”
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After missing out on the playoffs last season, the Thunder are right back in the thick of things in the Western Conference standings. Durant and Westbrook are both healthy and their supporting cast is finding their roles in this new system.

Donovan’s greatest contribution to the Thunder, Horford insists, will come in the culture he creates for his players. His understanding of what it takes to thrive at a championship level will mean more than any play he can draw up or words of wisdom he can relay in the huddle.

“He really made me understand what team basketball is all about, and how you are supposed to play,” Horford said. “And it’s something I’ve carried with me ever since. That’s always my approach, thinking of the team and thinking of winning above everything else. That’s what he’s about and that’s what his teams, no matter what level, are always going to be about. It’s just who he is and what he believes in.”

Sekou Smith is a staff writer for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here and follow him on Twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. Trending

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Kobe Bryant turns back the clock with 31 points, big buckets in Lakers win

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Kobe Bryant’s Sunday retirement announcement changed the atmosphere around his season considerably, turning an awful and sometimes unwatchable set of performances into a mostly positive farewell tour. Opposing teams can now celebrate his accomplishments and act as if the Los Angeles Lakers Jerseys icon is a universally beloved figure and not the most divisive player of his generation. There’s something a little odd and maybe a little disingenuous about the whole thing, especially since Kobe himself wants us to appreciate the beauty in the pain of the experience, but it’s admittedly been nice to look back on everything that he has accomplished. We are dealing with one of the greatest players ever, after all.

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Yet Kobe’s final visit to the Washington Wizards Jerseys on Wednesday offered something new and unexpected for him this season ?a legitimately good game. Bryant scored a Lakers season-high 31 points on 10-of-24 from the field (including 4-of-11 from long range) in 36 minutes to propel Los Angeles to a 108-104 win, just its third in 18 tries. Take a look at his night here:

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The last two buckets stand out more than any others. Down 99-98 with around a minute remaining in regulation, Kobe used a pick to free up just enough space to launch a long three-pointer to give the Lakers the lead. Marcin Gortat laid the ball in off a John Wall assist on the next possession to tie it back up, but Bryant answered by taking Bradley Beal one-on-one and burying a fadeaway over him late in the shot clock. A subsequent Wall turnover made it a free-throw contest in the final seconds, and the Lakers hit enough to withstand a minor rally.
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To be clear, this Kobe performance was not dominant so much as in line with an average game from the days when he was the most feared scorer in the league. But that’s an accomplishment in itself during a season that has Bryant as one of the least efficient and most ball-dominant players in the league. Plus, younger players like Julius Randle (15 points and 19 rebounds) played well enough to help the Lakers bounce back from giving the Philadelphia 76ers Jerseys their first win of the season on Tuesday.

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The news was not so great for the Wizards, who followed a potential return to form in a Tuesday win over the Cleveland Cavaliers Jerseys by losing at home to one of the worst teams in the league. Wall had a reasonably good night with 34 points on 11-of-19 shooting and 11 assists, but he also controlled an offense that turned it over 23 times for 33 Lakers points. They still need a lot of help.

– – – – – – –

Eric Freeman is a writer for Ball Don’t Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at efreeman_ysports@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Jim Johnson rejoins Braves on one-year deal

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ATLANTA — The Braves are bringing Jim Johnson back to Atlanta with the hope that he will once again benefit from the opportunity to work with pitching coach Roger McDowell.

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Johnson and the Braves agreed to a one-year, $2.5 million deal on Monday. This might be the start of an annual tradition for these two parties, which also agreed to a one-year deal on Dec. 3, 2014.

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“We are thrilled to bring Jim Johnson back to the Braves,” Braves general manager John Coppolella said. “We feel he will once again play an important role in our bullpen.”
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The Braves are still seeking to add at least one more setup man and left-handed specialist. But with Arodys Vizcaino Jerseys, Chris Withrow Jerseys and Johnson, they feel they already have some back-end bullpen depth. The depth will be strengthened if Jason Grilli Jerseys cheap jerseys online (Achilles), Shae Simmons Jerseys (elbow) and non-roster invitee David Carpenter Jerseys (shoulder) make successful returns next season.

When Johnson signed with the Braves last year, he was looking to bounce back from a tough 2014 season, during which he had produced 7.09 ERA over 54 appearances with the A’s and Tigers. The tall right-hander had produced consecutive 50-save seasons with the Orioles in 2012 and ’13.

But after being traded to the A’s, Johnson never seemed to find the same form he has shown while pitching for the Orioles and the Braves.

Johnson converted nine of 13 save opportunities and produced a 2.25 ERA in the 49 appearances he made for the Braves in 2015. He surrendered a .256 batting average and .311 on-base percentage while generating a 62.2 percent ground-ball rate during his time in Atlanta.

When the Braves signed Johnson last year, they believed he would benefit from the chance to work with McDowell, who had also relied heavily on a sinker during his days as a reliever.
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Johnson provided some encouragement with the extended success he had after allowing a run during three consecutive appearances in April. During the 41 appearances he made for the Braves after April 23, he produced a 1.58 ERA.

Unfortunately for Johnson, the promise he created during the first four months of the 2015 season evaporated after the Braves traded him to the Dodgers on July 30. Los Angeles viewed the veteran reliever as the solution to their eighth-inning woes.

But it didn’t take long for Johnson to once again struggle in a different environment.

Johnson posted a 10.13 ERA over 23 appearances for the Dodgers and was sent home before Los Angeles began competing in the postseason. Opponents hit .381 with a .442 on-base percentage against him while pitching for L.A.

Johnson’s ERA with the Dodgers was significantly damaged by the eight earned runs he allowed in just two-thirds of an inning against the Pirates on Aug. 9. But he still produced a 5.40 ERA in the 19 appearances that followed that forgettable outing in Pittsburgh. He allowed at least two hits in five of his final eight appearances.

“We watched video and we saw a lot of bad luck,” Coppolella said. “I think he’s somebody you can count on when he’s in the right environment.”

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. Listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs. Share This Email Print + Hide Comments

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5 hours later, Royals win World Series opener in 14th

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — An inside-the-park home run. A power failure that blacked out the TV audience. Crazy bounces, great plays and key errors.

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The longest World Series opener ever had a little bit of everything. And more than five hours after they began, Alcides Escobar Jerseys and the Kansas City Royals also had just enough energy to outlast the New York Mets.

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Saved by Alex Gordon’s tying home run in the ninth inning off Mets closer Jeurys Familia, the Royals won in the 14th when Escobar dashed home on Eric Hosmer Jerseys’s sacrifice fly for a 5-4 win late Tuesday night.

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“It was a great night,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “Two things you don’t want in Game 1 of the World Series: One is to go 14 innings and the other is to lose.”

This tied for longest Series game ever and ended at 12:18 a.m. From the get-go, it was wild and weird.

Escobar hit an inside-the-parker on the very first pitch from Matt Harvey. Later, that power problem caused fans and the team’s replay rooms at Kauffman Stadium to go dark.

The nearer it got to midnight — and beyond — the more oddly the ball bounced.

In the 11th, Salvador Perez Jerseys grounded a single that hit the third-base bag and caromed high in the air. In the 12th, Daniel Murphy struck out on a pitch that got past Perez — it ricocheted off the backstop to the Royals catcher, who threw out Murphy at first.

About the only thing missing? A home run by Murphy, who had connected in a record six straight postseason games. The MVP of the NL Championship Series did contribute a pair of singles.

“Yeah, there was a lot of baseball out there,” Murphy said.

In the 14th, Escobar reached on an error by third baseman David Wright. Ben Zobrist’s single put runners at the corners and an intentional walk to Lorenzo Cain loaded the bases with no outs.

Hosmer atoned for a key error by lifting a flyball measured at 300 feet, and Escobar barely beat right fielder Curtis Granderson’s throw home.

“I wanted to redeem myself for what happened earlier,” Hosmer said. “That’s the beauty of this game.”

Chris Young Jerseys pitched three hitless innings for the win. Bartolo Colon gave up an unearned run and took the loss.
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“Their team, one of the things we know about them is they’re never down and out,” Mets manager Terry Collins. “We’ve got to put them away. We’ve got to do a better job.”

Game 2 is Wednesday night, with Jacob deGrom starting for the Mets against Johnny Cueto Jerseys. It’s a hairy matchup: DeGrom’s flowing tresses vs. Cueto’s mop of dreadlocks.

Anyone who’s ever seen the Royals play — especially in October — knows they’re called resilient for a reason. Once again, they reinforced their reputation.

Gordon shook the ballpark when he tagged Familia, hitting a solo drive with one out over the center field wall. The star closer hadn’t blown a save since July 30 and had been nearly perfect this postseason.

Known more for his glove than his bat, Gordon connected when he said Familia tried to quick pitch him, and got a huge hug in the dugout from Hosmer. A two-time Gold Glove cheap jersey first baseman, Hosmer’s error gave the Mets a cheap jerseys 4-3 lead in the eighth.

“I was the happiest person in the stadium when Gordon homered,” Hosmer said. “I told him, ‘I just want to hug you right now.’ I think a lot of people in Kansas City want to hug him.”

Escobar provided the early excitement. He loves to swing at first pitches, and this time the MVP of AL Championship Series produced his best result yet.

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Tyrann Mathieu on the high-flying Cardinals

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PHOENIX?— It’s instructive to remember that?Cardinals defensive back Tyrann Mathieu Jerseys is still only 23, even though he’s already in his third NFL season and it feels as if we’ve been watching him fly around a football field forever. But 2015 is turning out to be the best year so far of Mathieu’s pro career. He’s healthy and producing for the 8–2, first-place Cardinals, who hold a commanding three-game lead over Seattle (5–5) in the NFC West.

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In 10 games this season, Mathieu has been all over the field as a playmaker, with three interceptions, a touchdown return, a forced fumble, a sack, 12 passes defended and 57 tackles. The 2013 third-round pick has emerged as one of the most trusted and consistent leaders on the Arizona defense, and he still has that ferocious playing style that makes him seem much bigger than his 5’9″, 186-pound frame.

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Just hours after Arizona knocked off the?Bengals 34–31 in that thrilling Sunday night game at University of Phoenix Stadium, I caught up with Mathieu, aka “the Honey Badger,” to talk about everything from Drew Stanton Jerseys’s dancing to the toughest opponent he’s faced in the NFL.

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Don Banks: How much does last year, going from a 9–1 start to one-and-done in the playoffs, drive this season’s Cardinals team?

Tyrann Mathieu Jerseys: It’s driving us every day. Because we understand what type of talent we had, despite what was going on around us with losing our quarterbacks. We got together in the spring and said, “This is it. This is our moment.” We understand what we did last year and how we kind of screwed up ourselves. We started 9–1, but then we lost five out of our last seven games [including playoffs]. It was a learning experience for us, but we thank God that we kind of kept our same team together. We lost a couple guys, but most of our core stayed together and a lot of guys on our team this year are using last year for motivation. Just to see us closing out these last-minute games, we lost those games last year. Those two or three-point games we lost. So it’s great to see us hang on and close them out this year, especially on primetime TV. That says a lot about our team.

NFL Video Chip Kelly’s loss of control becoming a major concern for punchless Eagles

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0 0 0 0 0 0 0 More ?DB: Your coach, Bruce Arians, really knows what he’s doing. What’s the most memorable thing he has ever said to you?

TM: Well, he tends to call me the fish of the group, in our secondary, and really what that means is offenses are going to come out and basically pick on me. He’s always challenging us in ways like that, but that’s the thing we like about him the most. Especially with him being an offensive guy, he’s still so into what we do on defense. If we go a whole practice without getting our hands on the ball, that’s something he’s going to address right then and there. He knows what kind of players he has and it’s always pushing for the next level with him. He always wants us to get better and improve the next week.

And even if we have a big victory and we play dominantly, it’s always something he’s going to pick out that we can do better. It’s something we appreciate. He preaches “Next man up” so much that that’s kind of who we are. Everybody has to be ready. He doesn’t believe in starters. He doesn’t believe in backups. He believes in one team and everybody sticking their hand in the pile. So it definitely makes it a team atmosphere.

DB: So when you say he calls you the fish, you’re talking like the sucker in a poker game, the easy mark?

TM: Right. And I’m looking at my season, or the type of games I’m having, and I’m like, “Coach, what’s up man? How can I be the fish?”

DB: I’m one of the voters for the NFL’s annual individual awards. You take my vote for the day. Who gets the nod for Defensive Player of the Year through 11 weeks of the NFL’s 2015 season?

TM: I don’t want to be biased, but I’d probably have to go with Pat [Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson Jerseys], man. You’re talking about a guy who gave up probably eight touchdowns last year and he wasn’t playing well against all those big-time receivers. Julio [Jones] had 150 [yards] on him like in the first half last year. Just to see him come back this year and take his spot back and be the best cornerback and shut receivers out, it’s impressive.

I know [Bengals receiver] A.J. [Green] caught a couple balls on him [Sunday night], but it wasn’t the balls that A.J. really wanted to catch. So you talk about [Panthers cornerback]?Josh Norman, I think those guys are having the same kind of year, shutting guys out. I know Norman has a lower completion percentage against him, but Pat is playing some good ball right now. Even the guy from St. Louis, Aaron Donald, I’ve never seen a guy that dominant on the defensive line. Every time we play them, I’m like, “I hope he doesn’t get to No. 3, because we need Carson.”

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0 0 0 0 0 0 0 More DB: Okay, so who’s the toughest current receiver to cover as a defensive back in the league today??

TM: I’d probably have to go with?Antonio Brown. I played against him, and just his route running is so tough, and he didn’t have his quarterback [Ben Roethlisberger]?that day. And I was thinking, “Man, if he had his quarterback that day, what type of day he would have had.” With him it’s his route running and everything he does, and after the catch. That’s really the headache, because you know he’s going to get his catches. The biggest is trying to get him on the ground, because he’s basically a running back with the ball in his hands.

So I’d probably have go Antonio Brown right now, but Odell [Beckham Jr.] is probably a close second.

DB: Tell me the truth, what did you really think of Drew Stanton Jerseys’s dancing?

TM: [Laughs.] I thought it was excellent. Any time your backup quarterback is into the game like that, you’ve got a pretty good thing going in your locker room, because he was fired up. I think he did a great job.

DB: But it was so white. Wasn’t it just so white, with no rhythm or set moves to it?

TM: [Laughs harder.] Yeah. It was definitely Drew.

DB: You shot a spot for PETA earlier this year, demonstrating how dogs should not be left in the car in the Arizona heat. You sat in a car with the windows rolled up for about eight minutes in 120-degree heat, until you were a sweaty mess. Why did that issue matter to you and was worth spending your time and energy on it?

TM: For one, I’m a dog owner myself. I have a Yorkie named King. Just the relationship I’ve developed with him is special. He really is somewhat of a best friend. When I come home from a hard day, he’s always happy to see me. Just that relationship I built with my dog, and once PETA reached out to me, it was really a no-brainer for me to do it, especially since out here in the summertime temperatures get up to 120. It was the right thing to do, and for me it was personal because I wouldn’t want to do that to my dog.

And before I did that spot, I didn’t really know that was a law, that you can’t leave your dog in the car. I didn’t know that was a crime. So it if was definitely an eye-opener for me, hopefully it’ll open other people’s eyes as well.

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DB: Carson Palmer Jerseys has this almost other-worldly calm and cool to him at all times. How do you get him mad? Have you ever seen him lose it? Can you even push his buttons?

TM: I have never seen him upset. Even when he threw the two [first-half] interceptions [Sunday night]. He was looking at the defense like, “C’mon, just give me another chance. I’ve got you guys.” Any time you’ve got a quarterback, man, who’s not affected by the things going on around him, it’s so great. He’s a fighter. Like I said [Sunday] night after the victory, this year is personal for him, because he’s been through a lot and obviously he’s getting up there in age and that window is starting to close. It closes for all us. The time to win a championship, we feel, is right now, with the type of team we have and Carson coming off that knee injury. To see him come out and play the way he’s playing, just his leadership in our locker room, has been great. He doesn’t say too much, but when he does speak, it speaks loudly.

NFL Video Week 11 Snaps: Broncos have no reason to switch quarterbacks again

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0 0 0 0 0 0 0 More ?DB: Six weeks to go. Which remaining regular-season game are you most looking forward to?

TM: I’d probably be looking forward to the last two games, because we finish out at home against Green Bay and Seattle. Obviously we feel like Green Bay is a pretty good team, a quality team, with a veteran quarterback who knows how to take his team where it wants to go. If we can get to the Green Bay game with great momentum and play those guys at home, hopefully for homefield advantage or whatever it may be, and then finish out with Seattle, and try to wrap up the division. Those last two games would be real big for us, especially if we were going into the playoffs.

DB: I’m guessing that even though you lead Seattle by three games in the division and they’re only 5–5, you still see the Seahawks as dangerous. Is Seattle still in your rearview mirror?

TM: Oh, no way have we lost sight of them. We’ve got so much respect for any team that wins a championship. Any team that’s consistent over time, you have to respect what they have. They started slowly last year and then they finished out and won the division. We understand what type of team they are and that those guys understand where they want to go this year. It’s going to be tough for us to finish out strong, especially with those guys coming into our house at the end of the year. We beat those guys in their house, which doesn’t happen often, so I know those guys are going to be fired up when they come to our house. They want to get that win back.

DB: Just wondering here, but do your two kids get to call you the Honey Badger?

TM: [Laughs.] No way.

DB: Does anyone call you Honey Badger without your permission?

TM: Well, Coach Arians. He calls me Honey. I don’t know if that’s really Honey Badger.

DB: You went on Twitter after the loss in Week 6 to the Steelers and kind of railed on some fans who were critical. Then you deleted those comments. How hard is it to be an NFL player in the age of Twitter and trying to resist the urge to talk back to critical fans or trolls?

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0 0 0 0 0 0 0 More ?TM: It’s so hard, man, because we invest so much of ourselves into this game. So much time. No one feels worse than I felt when I gave up the 88-yard slant [to Martavis Bryant in the fourth quarter]. There are so many emotions. I’m passionate, I love this game. I never want people to think I’m not playing my hardest or I’m not giving it my all. Because every play I’m trying to do my very best. At times you get heated. That’s why I deleted it. I realized what kevin durant jersey cheap I had done and I shouldn’t have done that, but it was a game that was personal to me because of who I’m with, with a coach [Arians]?who coached there. And we’ve got Larry Foote Jerseys, who coaches our linebackers, who played there, too, as did LaMarr Woodley. So I took that game personally because I had guys around me who took it personally. I wanted to win that game so badly for those three guys. Just to lose that game, I felt like I lost that game personally.

DB: From that day in September 2012, when you’re on TV in the stands watching LSU play, after being kicked off the team for your marijuana use, how dramatically different is your life these days in Arizona? Is it worlds apart?

TM: Absolutely, man. That day, I’m sitting in the stands and I’m watching everything that I ever had, because I gave everything to play for LSU. And here I am watching them play without me. It was a gut check, a reality check for me. I never want to experience that again. And thank God I had some people around me who were able to pick me up, because I was sliding down. I was on my face, I didn’t even know how to get up. I had people around me who supported me and encouraged me and helped me, and thanks to them, I got up. And ever since that day, I got up and I never went back down.

DB: Have you ever seen that footage of you in the stands at LSU’s game that day? You looked heartbroken.

TM: Yeah, it was sad. I’m sitting around all these fans, and they used to be my fans. And they’re looking at me like, “C’mon, bro, you’re disappointing.” It was tough. I was disappointing. I had a lot of responsibility and I was the leader of my team and I was a leader of that community. And I should have realized my impact. I should have realized the consequences of me doing what I was doing. It’s not really an excuse for me, being 20 years old. I should have adjusted to it and been able to handle that role.

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NFL Video Fisher’s handling of QB Keenum’s concussion simply not good enough by Chris Burke
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More DB: This season, you have picked off Russell Wilson, and then?Colin Kaepernick?twice in the same game. In the past you’ve picked off Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and Brandon Weeden. Those are all six of your NFL interceptions. Do you only like to pick off top-notch quarterbacks (okay, so there’s Weeden), and do you think you might have inadvertently helped bring upon the end of the Kaepernick era in San Francisco?

TM: Well, I can’t take all the credit for that. That day on defense we were rolling. We were well-prepared and we knew everything that was going to happen to us. For the most part everybody made a play that day. But speaking about the top-notch quarterbacks, I think that is true. Because when I play against guys who aren’t necessarily Drew Brees or Russell Wilson, they really don’t throw the ball my way. It takes facing a quarterback who trusts his receivers or who has the arm to fit throws in small windows. They take more risks, because they believe in themselves.

DB: Where do you believe you rank in terms of the game’s best defensive backs at this point? Is it where you want it to be? Is your strength that you can do a little bit of everything?

TM: I think I do a little bit of everything and do it well. I don’t really play safety that much, even though they list me as a free safety. I think Harrison Smith?[of the Vikings], that’s the guy I’m studying these days, I think he’s probably one of the best safeties in the league right now. I think if I had an opportunity to play safety more, I’d definitely be up there with Harrison Smith. But he’s probably the best right now.

But I like how they use me here. I’m always moving around. It’s hard for offenses to get a grip on what I’m doing or where I’m at. I think Cincinnati did a good job [Sunday] night. They ID-ed me a lot and kept a lot of things away from me. Run plays, pass plays. They did a great job. So for me, I’ve got to keep playing? and if I’m not making those big plays that I’m accustomed to making, I just have to stay in the game and hopefully get the opportunity to make a play.

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Blackhawks’ Anisimov has winning instincts

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CHICAGO — Artem Anisimov Jerseys can’t explain exactly what he’s trying to do when playing alongside Chicago Blackhawks wingers Patrick Kane Jerseys and Artemi Panarin.

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He just does it.

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“I don’t know, actually,” the 27-year-old Russian Anisimov said. “I don’t think about this stuff. I just go on the ice and play.”

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He was just playing when he knocked the puck to Panarin as he was cutting to the net for a goal against the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday. He was just playing when he skated wide into the offensive zone, caught the defense off guard as he burst to the net and scored while coming across the crease against the Florida Panthers last month. He’s just playing when he battles and wins pucks, shields opposing goaltenders with his 6-foot-4, 198-pound frame, while his two wingers fire off shots. And he’s just playing when he puts himself in position to break up plays in the defensive zone.

Anismov’s instincts have served him well. More so, they have served Kane and Panarin — two of the league’s hottest players — extremely well.

“There’s been a lot of plays this year too where he may have not gotten an assist or a goal on the play, but he could be the biggest reason we scored that goal,” said Kane, who has produced 12 of his 17 even-strength points with Anisimov on the ice.

Anisimov’s addition has so far worked out better than Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman even imagined. Bowman had his eye on the center for years, and he was close to trading for him last season. The deal fell through, but Bowman got another shot in late June.

When it became apparent Bowman and Brandon Saad Jerseys weren’t going to agree on an extension after last season, Bowman turned to the Columbus Blue Jackets and worked out a deal to acquire Anisimov. Bowman finally had his man and the Blackhawks finally had a permanent second-line center.

“You look around the league, there’s only really a handful of big centermen in the league,” Bowman said. “Maybe five or 10 that are 6-3. … He had been someone we had watched and we liked. You rarely get the chance to acquire those guys because teams that have them tend to keep them.

“He’s still got the prime of his career ahead of him here. It’s a very important position I think for us to have somebody. cheap bike jerseys It’s hard to break in at center. Like sometimes those 21-year-old centers, it takes them a little bit. He’s already gone through that learning curve. He’s sort of ready to take on a big role on the team.”

Bowman made sure Anisimov was interested in a contract extension before the trade, and the two sides agreed on a five-year, $22.75 million extension, which runs through the 2020-21 season. Anismov’s agent Mark Gandler didn’t have to sell his client much on the Blackhawks either.

“Just like Stan was looking for a match for his team, we were looking for a match for Artem,” Gandler said. “We felt, knowing the organization well, we felt that it would be a match. It was a no-brainer to put it together.”

Patrick Kane Jerseys, center, and Artemi Panarin, right, are first and second on the Blackhawks in points, playing with Artem Anisimov Jerseys. Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The trade came at a perfect time for Anisimov. He felt a change was needed after three seasons with the Blue Jackets. Last season was especially frustrating for him because of injuries. He missed two months of the season because of a torn triceps muscle.

And his numbers also dropped as he had seven goals and 27 points in 52 games — down from 22 goals and 39 points in 2013-14. He already has eight goals and 14 points in 20 games this season.

“It’s a great opportunity to start over,” Anisimov said. “It’s like a new chapter in my life to get traded here. It’s obviously like a good team, like everyone wants to play on this team. I was happy.”

The Blackhawks have had a revolving door at center on the second line in recent years. Since coach Joel Quenneville decided to put Kane and Jonathan Toews Jerseys on separate lines in 2013, Kane has played with an assortment of centers. Dave Bolland was his main center in the 2012-13 season, Michal Handzus in 2013-14 and Brad Richards Jerseys in 2014-15. Altogether, Kane played with 10 centers in those three seasons.

Richards and Kane clicked last season, but Quenneville wasn’t always sold on Richards’ defensive game. Richards didn’t get a long look at second-line center until nearly 20 games into the season. Anisimov earned Quenneville’s trust in that respect in the preseason.

“I think we liked him right away,” Quenneville said of Anisimov. “I think that line had a little bit of chemistry right off the bat being together. I think it’s an important position for us, and he’s been a good fit. But we like his overall game, not just with the puck. Defensively, he’s been very useful.”

St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock also acknowledged the cheap jerseys defensive part of Anisimov’s game before a recent meeting with the Blackhawks. Hitchcock even went as far as comparing Anisimov to another Blackhawks forward who is respected for his all-around game.

“I think he’s just a solid two-way player,” Hitchcock said. “He’s a lot like [Marian] Hossa. He’s a guy, he doesn’t make mistakes. He’s smart on the ice. He’s smart [with] positioning. Whoever he’s playing with, because he manages the middle of the rink so well, he’s going to [make] look good. He fits with those guys because he manages ice. He’s more than willing to go down low and work in his zone and help out. I think he surprises people with his determination. He’s a strong player, goes to the net hard. He’s just a good add.”

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Powers: Blackhawks’ Panarin not letting language barrier hold him back

Despite coming to Chicago as a rookie without a lick of English, Russian winger Artemi Panarin is finding a home on the Blackhawks’ No. 2 line.

Among those many little things Anisimov does this season, he translates between Kane and Panarin, who is also Russian and speaks very little English. Anisimov has felt at home with the Blackhawks partly because he’s had fellow Russians Panarin and Viktor Tikhonov as teammates. The three of them often hang out.
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The second line’s early success, of course, has also helped Anisimov’s transition to a new team. He has found playing alongside Kane, who leads the Blackhawks with 31 points, and Panarin, who is second on the team with 21 points, to be easy.

“It’s simple,” Anisimov said. “I think it’s simple because everyone brings something to the table on the ice. We just connected somehow when we played.

“[Kane] has a great skill obviously. He’s one of the most dangerous guys in the league. He sees the ice so well. He can make plays. He can do whatever on the ice, just play the game. I knew [Panarin] a little bit before. I know what he’s capable of doing and it’s helped me here how he plays. They’re kind of similar players in most aspects. I have fun playing with those guys.”

As for what Anisimov brings to that table, he didn’t have an answer again.

“I don’t know,” Anisimov said. “Just do something. Just play hockey, you know.”

Kane and Panarin know.