He had a successful rookie season in 2014, rushing 222 times for 1,124 yards and 9 touchdowns.

NFL free-agency reset: Best remaining players, teams still in the QB market, more Who are the high-end players still on the market Here are the top 10, plus more on the new benchmark set for contracts and teams that still will be looking to draft quarterbacks in April. 1 Related The 2013 first-round pick out of Syracuse started his career at right tackle, before shifting to right guard and landing back at right tackle this past season when the Giants were desperate on the outside.

His versatility is a plus.

He was drafted by the Bengals, but the writing was on the wall for the 25-year-old as it became known that Cincinnati coveted a running back in the 2017 NFL draft and eventually took Joe Mixon in the second round.

But he has never been the same since fumbling late in the 2015 AFC wild-card game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, ultimately contributing to an eventual loss.

Since that game, Hill has combined for 955 yards and nine touchdowns in the past two seasons and lost playing time to Mixon last year.

With Burkhead and James White locks to make the Patriots’ roster at running back, Hill projects to compete with Mike Gillislee and veteran special-teamer Brandon Bolden for a roster spot.

The defensive lineman lasted just one season with the team.

Under new head coach Frank Reich and defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, the Colts are switching back to a 4-3 base defense in 2018.

Hankins is a better fit as a 3-4 nose tackle.

The former Giants second-round pick accumulated 24 tackles and two sacks in 15 games last season.

Devils forward Miles Wood left the game in second period following a collision with Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin. Wood appeared to bend his right arm awkwardly on the hit. He skated to the bench in pain and went down the tunnel. patriots_152

MLB 2018: World Series, MVP odds and wild prop bets ahead of Opening Day

Can the Astros repeat as World Series champs? Will the Yankees reign once again with Giancarlo Stanton now in the lineup? How many at-bats will Tim Tebow get in the bigs?

The oddsmakers at SportsBettingDime.com released odds and props for those questions and more with the 2018 MLB season approaching. Here’s a rundown of intriguing lines:

But the headline-grabbing move for the Angels, of course, was winning the Ohtani sweepstakes. The early returns from spring training have been mostly positive, and however the two-way star is used, he’s going to have an impact.

Minnesota’s rotation had its issues last season as well, throwing 869 2/3 innings, the fourth fewest in the AL Twins starters struck out just 7.08 batters per nine innings, the fourth fewest in the league and fifth fewest in baseball, though attacking the strike zone and pitching to contact has long been their strategy. Regardless, the Twins finished 10th in the AL in rotation ERA, a number that must get better if they want to build on their 2017 success.

Over the weekend, the Twins acquired a similar pitch-to-contact strike zone attacker from Tampa Bay in Jake Odorizzi, who posted a career worst 4.14 ERA last season and won 10 games, a win total which should increase with better run support. The Rays scored just 4.21 runs per Odorizzi start last season, the eighth lowest mark among AL starters with the least 140 innings pitched, per ESPN.

The two-way Japanese star registered six strikeouts, but he threw two wild pitches, hit two batters and walked one.

“I felt like I made a lot of good pitches and quite a few bad ones,” Ohtani said through his interpreter. “The good thing I got out of this outing was pitching with runners on base, out of the stretch.”

Not too much weight should be given to an outing this early in spring training, though, and there were some positives amid Ohtani’s overall shaky performance.

“His fastballs, mostly registering around 92-95 mph, were spotty, including one that a 33-year-old journeyman named Dustin Martin blasted over the right-field fence,” according to the O.C. Register. “While many of his pitches were off the mark, Ohtani threw some sliders and splitters that befuddled the Tijuana hitters — only one of which, Jorge Cantu, had seen any significant major league time.seahawks_037_6e230c72fa238eeb-180x180

Celtics’ Jaylen Brown to talk advocacy, social issues at Harvard

Celtics second-year swingman Jaylen Brown, never bashful about sharing his opinions about issues beyond basketball, will speak at Harvard University on Thursday night as part of a speaker series for its Graduate School of Education.

“To be honest, I’m overwhelmed. I’ve been preparing mentally for it, so I’m looking forward to it,” Brown said Wednesday after scoring 15 points in Boston’s 134-106 triumph over the Charlotte Hornets at TD Garden.

Multiple Cavs players told ESPN that they respected the newly acquired Clarkson for taking action and said they appreciated him showing pride on their home court.

With Clarkson ejected, the Cavs subbed rookie London Perrantes into the game. With the game already decided, Perrantes shot a 3-pointer on the final possession and missed.

For most of the game, Smith stood out against Markkanen in a matchup of 20-year-old rookies. Markkanen entered fourth in rookie scoring (14.8 points per game) and Smith fifth (14.6).

Dallas settled for a 49-47 lead at the half after opening an 11-point lead in the first quarter and 14-point advantage in the second. The Mavericks raced ahead 10-0 just 3:12 in on Barnes’ driving dunk and went up 21-10 on Smith’s jumper with 4:51 left.

Ilyasova averaged 10.9 points and 5.5 rebounds in 46 games this season for Atlanta, including 40 starts. He is fourth in the NBA with 22 charges drawn after leading the league with 36 in 2016-17.

To make room for Ilyasova, the 76ers waived Trevor Booker, a forward they acquired from Brooklyn in December when they dealt former No. 3 pick Jahlil Okafor to the Nets.

Booker plans to sign with the Indiana Pacers, league sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

The injury would prove critical down the stretch for the Spurs, who’ve lost five of six. The team did not immediately disclose how long Aldridge will be out.

Jrue Holiday finished with 25 points and Rajon Rondo added 13 points and 12 assists for the Pelicans.

Rudy Gay had 19 points for the Spurs and Dejounte Murray scored 18.

Why did Butler get benched for Super Bowl 52, and did it cost the Patriots their sixth Lombardi Trophy?

Bill Belichick gave almost no answers. Malcolm Butler had no answer, either, but lots of emotion, wild guesses and dejection. To be fair, the questions were complicated.

There’s a question in there, though, that’s easier to answer: Is this one of the worst and costliest coaching blunders ever in the Super Bowl? That answer is yes. Is it the all-time worst and costliest? It’s hard to find another, even with 52 years of competition.

There isn’t a large library of even questionable coaching moves in recent Super Bowl history, much less outright bizarre or indefensible ones. The aforementioned slant by the Seahawks. Last year’s decision by the Falcons to keep throwing with a chance to work the clock and put the win over the Patriots away. Andy Reid’s clock management the last time the Eagles and Patriots played in 2005. Bill Callahan running a Raiders offense against the Buccaneers that Jon Gruden knew like the back of his hand.

For now, they pale in comparison to Belichick leaving a vital defensive player on the bench while the other team ran up 538 yards and 41 points in a track meet of a game.

The Eagles beat the Patriots on Sunday, but by benching Butler, Belichick gave them a ton of help.

“You’re gonna see me playing football next year. I don’t envision not playing,” Brady said. “You’re at the end of the race but you’ve got your biggest mountain to climb right at the end. Hopefully all the lessons we’ve learned have allowed us to be at our very best for this moment and that’s what it’s going to take and that’s what we’re prepared for and that’s what I go out and expect our team to do.”

Brady became the oldest player to be named NFL MVP this season, claiming his third league MVP honor Saturday. He led the NFL with 4,577 yards, becoming the oldest quarterback to lead the league in passing yards, with 32 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

Brady is under contract through the 2019 season and expects to fulfill that contract. He and Patriots coach Bill Belichick have already won five Super Bowls together, heading into Sunday’s game against the Eagles. Making his eighth Super Bowl appearance, Brady told his wife he’d like to win two more Super Bowls before he retires and has said he’d like to play until he’s 45. It remains to be seen, but we do know we’ll see Brady in a Patriots uniform for a 19th NFL season. bills_043

Browns hire Scot McCloughan to help with 2018 NFL Draft, report says

As the NFL draft is quickly approaching, the Browns are under pressure to make decisions that will help rebuild their franchise coming off of a winless season.

The former Redskins general manager will work closely with Dorsey in a reunion as the two served together with the Packers under general manager Ron Wolf.

The seemingly robotic nature of an athlete like Brady often takes the human element out of the public’s perception. The decisions he makes about his career are not met with the same standards as those made by your average Joe. The public is selfish, and it assumes Brady, as a football player, is not susceptible to career-altering moments in life.

But Brady is a father of three, and he has never been shy about expressing how much his family means to him. News broke during the week leading up to last year’s Super Bowl that Brady’s mother had been dealing with an illness, and she hadn’t been able to attend her son’s football games that season like she always had. Brady’s dad was able to attend just one.

“And I said to them, ‘This is probably something I should have told you two weeks ago, but this is the longest two weeks of your life, and this is going to be the longest 24 hours-plus of your life. The game, at this point, cannot get here quick enough. But it’s going to slow down even more.”

While Favre revealed he kept the message “lighthearted and fun,” he wasn’t holding back when it came to Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.

“We know the Patriots. They’re a tremendous team. Their quarterback is the greatest to ever play. Bill Belichick is the greatest coach to ever coach. You know what they’re about,” Favre said. “They’re going to play the whole game. Don’t ever say — kinda like last year, ‘We have it won and we’re going to go to the drive-thru.’ That’s not a good idea.”

Last year, the Falcons found themselves with a 28-3 lead against the Patriots, but couldn’t hold on as they fell in overtime 34-28.

It may seem like there’s no connection between the Eagles and Favre, who played for the Packers for the majority of his career before spending a year with the Jets and two with the Vikings. However, Philadelphia coach Doug Pederson and Favre played together in Green Bay.

After finishing 28th in total yards allowed in back-to-back seasons, the Redskins’ defense improved to 21st under coordinator Greg Manusky in 2017.

On June 23, about a month before NFL training camps opened, Dr. Harry Edwards, the well-known Cal-Berkley sociology professor and one-time adviser to Kaepernick, sent an email to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Edwards implored Goodell to use his influence to make certain Kaepernick signed with an NFL team.

Rookie Jonathan Allen, the team’s first-round pick in the 2017 NFL draft, made an impact up to the point he injured his left foot, requiring surgery ultimately ended his season. But even with Allen healthy, the line needs help. Matt Ioannidis proved a valuable contributor, as did Stacy McGee. But there wasn’t enough quality depth up front to consistently rattle quarterbacks or stuff running plays.

But the unit backslid in points allowed (from 19th to 27th), surrendering 24.2 points per game, a lot for an injury-strapped offense to overcome.

The show of defiance comes hours after Trump on Sunday morning renewed his demand that NFL owners fire or suspend players who kneel during the national anthem in protest, again urging that fans should boycott the sport to force change.

“If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast,” Trump wrote. “Fire or suspend!”

The loss dropped the Redskins to 4-6 and also proved costly in the personnel department. The latest injury to strike the team was to running back Chris Thompson, who was carted off the field with his leg in an air cast.

Who knew that, at this point, the Los Angeles Rams-Minnesota Vikings game would be so intriguing? Both teams were 7-2, but the Rams’ winning streak ended at four as Minnesota won its sixth straight with a 24-7 victory.

Just the ability to stay and practice at home during the week will be huge in preparing for whoever they face in the Super Bowl.

When a team gets a play like the “Minneapolis Miracle” to survive and advance in the NFL playoffs, you can’t help but think it’s a team of destiny. For starters, Case Keenum’s narrative is a little like Kurt Warner’s in terms of a higher-powered, feel-good story. You also can’t ignore the fact that they will be the first team positioned to play a Super Bowl on its home field.

Defense wins championships, and Minnesota has plenty of it on every level. — V.I.

“Colin Kaepernick’s goal has always been, and remains, to simply be treated fairly by the league he performed at the highest level for and to return to the football playing field,” a statement released by Kaepernick’s legal representatives said.

Kaepernick’s grievance accuses teams of conspiring to keep him out of work in violation of the terms of the collective bargaining agreement. And there was every reason to believe Sunday that he will remain so, given the postgame declaration by Packers coach Mike McCarthy that young backup Brett Hundley is his new starter at quarterback and third-stinger Joe Callahan moves up to second on the depth chart.

The NFL has independent medical personnel who can keep players off the field. But something is not working. Even if the NFL finds the Texans did not violate the protocol, that would simply be an indictment of the protocol.

“I just coach the team,” Bill O’Brien said when asked about Savage reentering the game, laying responsibility off to the Texans’ medical staff. That is the problem: The NFL and its teams have not made protecting dangerously concussed players, even the ones most obviously and likeliest to be impacted by brain injury, a priority.

The end of the Jaguars’ victory over the Seahawks was ugly and could lead to discipline, Sean Quinton writes. Michael Bennett sparked a fight by diving at an offensive lineman’s knees in victory formation, and the scuffle led to the ejections of Sheldon Richardson and Quinton Jefferson. Things took a nasty turn when Jefferson tried to climb into the stands to confront a fan who had thrown a drink at him on his way into the locker room. “What would you do?” Jefferson asked reporters. Those fans should be banned from the stadium if not prosecuted. But, man, you can’t go climbing into the crowd. Jefferson will probably get suspended, and it would be justified, even if he’s also worthy of sympathy.

Todd Gurley’s non-catch helped the Rams get a FG at the end of the first half vs. Falcons

Todd Gurley’s near-reception made for a weird ending to the first half of the Falcons-Rams Wild Card game.

After an incredible Robert Woods catch, the Rams tried to find Gurley to get in the end zone before the half with 14 seconds left.

Save for a few stylistic differences—Diggs relies on sudden, quick-twitch bursts while Thielen’s cuts are smoother—they are wired similarly as receivers. Both excel at disguising their routes, like pitchers with the same release point for fastballs and curves.

Foles ended up doing just enough in the game. He completed 23 of his 30 passes for 246 yards. While he didn’t throw a touchdown, he also didn’t turn the ball over. It was enough, as the Eagles’ defense limited Atlanta’s offense all evening, especially on the Falcons’ final drive, which ended at the Philadelphia 2-yard line.

The Eagles will now host the winner of Sunday’s Vikings-Saints game in the NFC Championship.

Speaking of the Panthers . . . this season the MVP “debate” has been an annoying cycle of people touting “contenders” who can’t objectively be selected over Tom Brady, then (as is the current state of discourse in this country) throwing a hissy fit when you point that out. Because somehow it’s disrespectful to suggest someone is merely the second or third or fourth most valuable player in the NFL this season.

We mentioned it earlier, but the broken foot suffered by Notre Dame forward Bonzie Colson is one of the season’s most disappointing pieces of news. Colson was a frontrunner for ACC Player of the Year and likely All-America selection leading the Irish in points, rebounds, blocks and steals at the time of his injury, which is a huge blow to Notre Dame’s season. The Irish, particularly T.J. Gibbs and Rex Pflueger, have picked up the slack in their first week without him, but the ACC is only going to get harder from here. There’s a chance Colson returns in March, but Brey has said he’s not going to risk Colson’s health before the spring’s NBA tryouts. It would be a shame if this is how Colson’s time as a college player ends, but he’s had a heck of a career.

You may not see a crazier finish this season than this back-and-forth between USC and Stanford on Sunday night. Wow.

After Arizona’s loss to Colorado on Saturday, Sean Miller said his players “really struggle playing for me” and that he has “a hard time reaching our guys.” The Wildcats had seemingly recovered from their disastrous 0-3 trip to the Bahamas in November and it’s obvious Miller doesn’t want to risk a minor setback becoming a prolonged one.

However, the play would be reviewed, and the officials ruled that Sanu didn’t come down with the catch. The ball moved on Sanu’s way down, and it would be fourth down for the Falcons.patriots_118_a38140db53e830fa-180x180

Former Browns coach Mike Pettine to be Packers defensive coordinator, report says

Mike Pettine is getting back in the game.

The former Browns coach is expected to be hired by the Packers and serve as Green Bay’s defensive coordinator, ESPN reported, citing unidentified sources.

Pettine, 51, served as defensive coordinator for the Jets from 2009-12 before spending the 2013 season in the same position with the Bills. He then took over as head coach for Cleveland in 2014 but was fired in January 2016, finishing with a 10-22 record as the Browns dropped 18 of his final 21 games with the team.

Scales is an All-American linebacker who has been a centerpiece to the Hoosier defense for the last four seasons. He is a good overall athlete who possesses solid speed and lateral agility. He has quickness as a blitzer and can get a good jump to put himself in position to provide pressure on opposing QBs. He is solid as a run defender, displaying good gap discipline, and he keeps his shoulders square when he’s filling at the point of attack.

Scalres raps up effectively as a tackler but does have some issues finishing in space. He flashes stack-and-shed ability at the point of attack, but he needs to build consistency in doing so. In coverage, he has the hip fluidity to transition vertically in man coverage. He projects best working as a hybrid linebacker and should be able to stay on the field on all three downs.

They laugh. As if Adam was ever anything but obsessed with this sport. Tackle football didn’t start until seventh grade around Detroit Lakes, Minn., so Thielen would gather up ratty old pads discarded by the local middle school, slip into a Moss or Carter jersey, and play full-contact against his friends in the snow. “Nothing better than that,” he says. “It’s crazy how things worked out.”

Crazy. This word comes up a lot. Crazy how, throughout his Detroit Lakes High career he planned to play D-III basketball—right up until a scout from Minnesota State discovered him at a summer all-star game and offered a $500 football scholarship.

Even so, the 6′ 2″, 200-pound Thielen senses his long-shot origin story is becoming well worn. “Every broadcaster wants to talk about that,” he says. “It gets a little annoying. I want to be respected based on how I play, not what I had to overcome.”

The Saints nearly destroyed the Vikings’ postseason aspirations with a late field goal

The Minnesota Vikings have exorcised their playoff demons late in their Divisional Round showdown with the New Orleans Saints. Two years after Blair Walsh missed a 27-yard field goal that would have locked down the team’s first postseason win since the 2009 season, Kai Forbath calmly drilled a 53-yard field goal that gave Minnesota a 23-21 lead with just 1:34 left in the game.

You could say he was excited:

The Khans didn’t own the Jaguars the last time they made the postseason, so this is a totally new feeling for them, but one they’re bringing back to lifetime Jaguars fans.

His dad and team owner Shad Khan told the Florida Times-Union before the game, “If you’re not having fun now, you’ll never have fun. You’ve got to enjoy the moment. If you can bottle it, imprint it on the brain, you want to do that.”

It looks like the Jaguars are having fun.

The Falcons learned the hard way at the end of last year’s NFL playoffs that defense especially in the fourth quarter still wins championships. They applied their lesson well to begin this year’s NFC playoff run with a 26-13 wild-card upset of the Rams.

Atlanta didn’t win as easily as the score indicated. Los Angeles may have been the prettier team for most of the night, save for a return-game meltdown. Bottom line: it was the third consecutive conference playoff game the Falcons won by double-digit points.

We invited them and we rented the restaurant for 15, 16 people, Rapaglia said. I invited the presidents of the biggest leagues we have. New Jersey did the same. I never saw the girl in my life. Then we took some pictures. Look at the other possibilities. It’s like a lottery: eight, nine people running! We’ve been friends with Sunil for years. And we believe in his ability, and he’s a great guy for the game. Believe me.

Payton’s first challenge flag appeared to be a consequence of peer pressure. Case Keenum floated a 27-yard pass to Jarius Wright that the wideout corralled while diving to the turf. Replays showed the ball was clearly controlled after an initial bobble, but the enthusiasm of his players on the sideline and a Vikings offense rushing to get the ensuing play off forced the veteran head coach to call on the referees.

That was an understandable mistake — Minnesota’s hurry-up offense pressed the issue, and Payton seemingly went with his gut. His second challenge, however, was less forgivable.