Chris Ivory, Stevan Ridley, Zac Stacy and Daryl Richardson are all vying for carries

Player you’ll be buzzing about: S Calvin Pryor — The Jets retooled their entire secondary, with Pryor being the only real starter remaining from last year. He moved around a lot then, and a renewed focus on one position should elevate his play beyond his solid rookie season.

What to watch: Like any team with a new head coach, the Jets are confident that they became a better team this offseason. They certainly have a talented team and seeing how Todd Bowles handles that team in training camp will be something to keep an eye on, but mostly you should watch the quarterbacks. The Jets insist Geno Smith is their starter and there’s no battle, but if Smith plays exceedingly poorly, things could get interesting.

Most important position battle: Running back — Since the Jets insist there’s no battle at quarterback, we’ll go with the running back position. Chris Ivory, Stevan Ridley, Zac Stacy and Daryl Richardson are all vying for carries.

For once, the crankiest San Antonio fans are right: We aren’t talking about the Spurs enough. This was the year San Antonio finally felt a little rickety. Tim Duncan, rim protector for their historically great defense, walked away. The Spurs replaced with him Pau Gasol, slow and ground-bound, lacking Duncan’s pinpoint ferocity.

Tony Parker is getting older; could the Spurs maintain their stinginess with Parker and Gasol bookending the defense? They couldn’t even count on their vaunted Spursy continuity anymore. San Antonio turned over half its roster after last season. Surely it would take time to find its pass-and-cut harmony!

Alas, that hasn’t really proved true. His shooting constrains Minnesota’s offense, especially against good defenses who game plan for him. It is a barrier the Wolves have to fight through and around every night.

But for some stretches, the good parts of Rubio’s game overcome that one handicap. We just went through one. Hope you enjoyed it.

5’8 Cowboys player does a sick dunk in response to Odell Beckham Jr.’s sick dunk

Earlier this year, Odell Beckham Jr. posted an Instagram video of himself making a really cool dunk. Cole Beasley of the Dallas Cowboys decided to make his own Instagram dunk video for Beckham Jr., all in the name of the Cowboys-Giants rivalry.

Beckham Jr. is 6’0, while Beasley is 5’8, which makes this even more impressive. Now we await for another Giants player to respond with a dunk video, preferably on Instagram.

DaQuan Jones Mens Jersey Maurice Canady, CB (senior): He’s a big CB with good speed and great instincts. Canady started two games as a true freshman on a team that was loaded with DBs. In three years, he’s recorded five interceptions and 23 pass breakups, including three picks and 12 breakups in 2014. His draft position will probably be determined largely by his NFL Combine performance. If he can run a 4.4 at 6’2, 200 pounds, then he could go in the first round. More likely, he’s a Day 2 pick.
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Jalen Ramsey, DB (junior): Ramsey is perhaps the best defensive player in college football and is now moving to boundary corner — the position he came in at and was initially recruited to play before injuries to others necessitated the move to safety and nickel in 2013 and 2014, respectively. He has ideal size and will test off the charts at the combine.

Roberto Aguayo, K (RS junior): He is probably the best kicker in college football.

Beyond that, every other draft eligible player on the roster has some major questions. Terrance Smith, if he stays healthy (has not been able to throughout career), has a chance to get drafted at linebacker. Defensive tackles Nile Lawrence-Stample and Derrick Mitchell have also been oft-injured, but they’ll also have a shot.

Then there is the Everett Golson question, if he even wins the job.

Prepping for Oracle exit, Warriors break ground in San Francisco

The Golden State Warriors are in the midst of a golden era that seemingly could last well into the next decade with a young core of superstars. But there’s always a creeping nostalgia at the team’s home games at Oracle Arena, which will see its run as host to the greatest show on hardwood end two seasons from now.

Tuesday morning the Warriors were set to break ground on the gleaming new Chase Center in San Francisco — a privately financed $1 billion-plus project on more than 11 acres of land — that’s set to open for the 2019-20 season.

Warriors owner Joe Lacob acknowledged the sadness some fans feel in leaving Oakland, where the team has played home games since 1966, but pointed to the team’s recent run of success as a mitigating force.

“When you’re winning, people are generally happy,” Lacob told ESPN.com Monday night after the Warriors’ 126-91 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. “And we’ve been winning at kind of an unprecedented rate now for three years, so it’s a little hard to complain too much.”

Justin Simmons Kids Jersey Lacob said he thinks people will eventually see the Warriors’ new digs “as every bit as good, as loud, as great of an experience. We know we’re coming from a great experience at Oracle, so that’s our challenge.”

While Paul should be back from his latest injury in plenty of time for the playoffs, it still could prove costly for the Clippers in terms of seeding. Given his track record of untimely injuries and short playoff runs, is Paul the NBA’s unluckiest superstar?
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In broader scope, Brown’s high-wattage personality doesn’t have a snooze button. The flair off the field matches his production on it. He’s cultivated a brand that might resonate with fans more than any other Steeler.

Grady counseled his son to resist his anger and his hurt and harken back to Dr. King’s philosophy

GLENN RIVERS GREW up to be a star basketball player at Marquette. He dated a pretty blonde named Kris Campion and fell in love. It didn’t occur to him that anyone would object so strongly to a mixed-race couple until they slashed the tires of Kris’ car and spray-painted her parents’ home with racial epithets. The cowardly crank calls meant to unnerve them inflicted more bruises.
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Grady counseled his son to resist his anger and his hurt and harken back to Dr. King’s philosophy.

“People have somehow decided love is a soft word,” Rivers says. “Love is a tough word. As Dr. King often said, ‘The more they hate you, you must love them more.'”

Rivers married Kris in 1986 and joined the NBA fraternity as a gregarious point guard known simply as “Doc.” They had four children. The third one, Austin, plays for his father on the Los Angeles Clippers.

“Her mom threw a wedding party and that’s where some of those photos came from where I had the outfit on with a hat on,” Nowitzki, who loves Kenyan stews and barbecue, said. “It was a special experience. I’ve never, obviously, been a part of anything like that, the dances, the whole experience, the tradition of a wedding down there.

“It’s different. You have to cut a goat. Lots of symbols, all the different things. They really threw us a really traditional Kenyan wedding.”

Payment of a dowry is an old African tradition used to demonstrate the groom’s ability to provide for his bride. In the past, Kikuyu weddings included a dowry payment by the grooms of cows, goats, honey, green bananas and/or traditional brews. Modern-day weddings include cash dowry.

So what did Nowitzki — a multimillionaire certainly financially capable of providing for his wife — pay in dowry?

Limited Cameron Jordan Jersey “We kind of faked things,” Nowitzki said. “They gave me a little Kenyan shillings and I paid them that. It was literally like a whole-day event. There were hundreds and hundreds of people there.”

Fantasy football rankings 2015: Wide receivers in PPR leagues

The PPR craze around the fantasy football landscape has changed the value of receivers. More often than not, receivers are going to outscore running backs in PPR, and successful fantasy owners need to have production out of their receivers. Plus, leagues with a flex spot should absolutely be using a receiver over a running back or a tight end for higher floors and ceilings on lower-end players.

Because of the value of receivers, a lot of fantasy owners will go into a draft with a zero-RB plan, which is dangerous territory. Basically, owners won’t take a running back until the middle rounds and try to dominate everywhere else, hoping they hit on a lottery ticket or on the waiver wire. While that isn’t the most plausible plan, going zero-WR in a PPR is just foolish. The upside is too high and they’re too valuable.

Cardale Jones, QB (junior): Jones is one of the most interesting NFL prospects in a long, long time. He entered last season as the third-string quarterback and finished the year by leading the Buckeyes to a Big Ten title, a playoff win over Alabama and a National Championship. Jones is the most NFL-ready of the three possible starting quarterbacks. He stands 6’5, 250 pounds and makes the scouts drool with his rocket arm. If he wins the job and performs as expected, he has a chance to be a top-10 pick.

Ezekiel Elliott, RB (junior): The St. Louis product started the season slower than most expected but finished by rushing for an absurd 696 yards and eight touchdowns in the final three games of the season. He will head into the 2015 season as a Heisman front-runner and should eclipse 1,500 yards on the ground. Elliott has an elite mix of size, speed and power that should make him a first-round pick if he forgoes his senior season for the 2016 NFL Draft.

One interesting comparison comes from ex-Eagles running back LeSean McCoy

It has launched countless backyard barbecue conversations and has been a part of family gatherings for three decades, and it is as tightly woven into the fabric of life in the Rocky Mountain region as the mountains themselves.

Thirty years ago Wednesday, John Elway and the Denver Broncos authored ¡°The Drive,” the 15-play, 98-yard slice of football history.

Many in the Broncos¡¯ faithful can recite the particulars as quickly as the date of their first-born¡¯s birthday. Elway has even joked that if his own memory starts to fade over the years, ¡°that they¡¯ll just help me out and tell me what we did.”

One interesting comparison comes from ex-Eagles running back LeSean McCoy, who racked up 66 percent of the team’s rush yards but accounted for only 31 percent of their rushing touchdowns. The Eagles looked to Darren Sproles and Chris Polk in the red zone, spreading some responsibilities and roles around to other players. The Steelers pretty much relied on Bell at all times.
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Elite Kids Ricky Jean-Francois Jersey Of course, the passing game is a huge part of the running back’s job these days, and Bell was one of the best in this area last year. The Steelers leaned on him heavily in that role as well. KANSAS CITY PICKED Hill in the fifth round of the draft, at a point when most people are no longer paying attention. And yet, the move stirred up enough debate to cause his name to trend on Twitter, which sent me down an internet rabbit hole.

Forte paced running backs with 21 percent of the Bears total passing yardage, but Bell wasn’t far behind in Pittsburgh, finishing with nearly 18 percent of their total yards through the air. The next closest running back in that category was Lynch, but his piece of the pie was much smaller, just 11 percent.

Steelers vs. Patriots 2015 odds and lines: New England favored in opener

Limited Robert McClain Jersey The New England Patriots are 7-3 straight up and against the spread in their last 10 games against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Patriots are favored to continue that success when they host the Steelers this Thursday night in Foxborough.

New England is a 7-point favorite in its home opener according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The line has moved from New England -5.5 to New England -7.0 over the last week.

The Patriots took some hits on defense this offseason including the departure of Darrelle Revis, but the offense should be just as lethal as usual. In winning his appeal against the NFL’s ruling, Tom Brady had his suspension dropped from four games to none, putting the elite quarterback back under center for this season opener.
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Even though he ended up more like Rue, EZ showed some of that Katniss Everdeen spunk when it came to a special guest star at practice: World Cup hero Carli Lloyd, who battled Vince Wilfork in a field goal kicking contest. (Both nailed their 25-yard and 35-yard attempts, so Randy Bullock should feel lucky that he wasn’t a roster casualty too.)

EZ, in awe of the woman who scored a hat trick in the World Cup final, was a little shy about talking to her one-on-one, though he did shout out a greeting to her near the end. Then, like the 24-year-old he is, EZ took to Twitter to express his admiration for Lloyd.

Move over, Cardale and Ronda. There’s a new athlete flirtation in town.

And EZ’s town is now Miami, where he joined the Dolphins’ practice squad after getting released. O’Brien advised a “devastated” EZ not to give up, but he needed to find an offense that better fit his skills as a speedster, not a route runner. Hopefully he’s found that in Miami, but at the very least, EZ has a chance to start over too — plus, he’s only three hours from the John F. Kennedy Space Center.

Wilcox released a statement to Deadspin to apologize

Hawks GM Wes Wilcox’s attempt at humor backfired during a gathering with team season-ticket holders and club members. He has since apologized for the racially charged remark.

According to Deadspin, season-ticket holder Clarenton Crawford, who is black, said he and his wife were “livid’ after the end of the meeting. A little more than a week later, Crawford emailed Hawks CEO Steve Koonin to voice his concerns, Deadspin reported.

Wilcox released a statement to Deadspin to apologize, although it wasn’t clear when the apology was given.

“At an early December chalk talk, I made a self-deprecating comment at my own expense regarding my family, which is multi-racial. This joke offended Mr. Crawford and his wife and for that, I apologize,” he said.

Sources with knowledge of the Hawks’ thinking told ESPN that the team’s brass believes Wilcox told a joke that didn’t resonate, and that the aggrieved season-ticket holder was angry Wilcox brushed off the suggestion of firing Budenholzer and replacing him with former Golden State Warriors coach Mark Jackson, an ESPN game analyst.

Smaller shooting-heavy lineups compensate for size deficits by switching across several positions on defense. Switching used to make most coaches queasy. They felt vulnerable on the boards, and the sight of a large person posting up their point guard sickened them.
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You see glimpses of how Parsons might mesh with Mike Conley and Marc Gasol. All three are brainy, shifty players who delight in subtle movements that open little cracks in the defense — change-of-direction cuts, hesitation dribbles, and shoulder fakes. Parsons can take a handoff from Gasol, drive one way, pitch the ball back to the big fella, and sprint right into another handoff going the other direction.
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When Parsons finally got healthy last season, he played the best ball of his life. The Grizzlies and Parsons are both optimistic that player still exists, and that we might see him before the end of the season. Memphis has a lot at stake here.

Paul Millsap might be traded by the Hawks. Here’s why

We’re in a new year, and with it comes trade rumors. On Sunday, it was reported by ESPN that the Atlanta Hawks are beginning to listen to trade offers for Paul Millsap Emmanuel Lamur Limited Jersey and their other veterans on expiring contracts this season.

The Hawks are a middle-of-the-road team this season, winning their last three games to go back over .500 with an 18-16 record. Atlanta signed Dwight Howard this summer, but Al Horford signed with the Celtics, netting the team nothing in return. With Millsap’s contract expiring this summer — along Womens Nick Swisher Jersey with Kyle Korver’s and Thabo Sefolosha’s — it’s not a huge surprise that the Hawks are willing to shop them around.

The 2011 NHL Winter Classic was held at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, making the Penguins the first team to repeat an appearance in the Classic. The weather did not cooperate (as we stand a risk of tomorrow in St. Louis), the setting was not awe inspiring, the camera work was awful, and Sidney Crosby suffered a concussion that marred the rest of his season.

Fans started to grumble about the novelty of the game wearing off, especially those who were concerned about the NHL’s propensity to feature certain teams over others. When the league still draws over 68,000 people at an outdoor game, though, there’s no reason to change the formula.

The NHL is a business. Yes, it is a business dependent upon its fans and fan interest, but that’s fan interest as a whole, not the interest of a select group of fans. The league’s first responsibility to its owners and players is to turn a profit, and they followed a formula for that.

Thomas Rawls out for the season with a broken ankle

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Seattle Seahawks running back Thomas Rawls is out for the rest of the season with a broken ankle, head coach Pete Carroll announced after the team’s 35-6 win over the Baltimore Ravens. Rawls left the game in the first quarter after he went down holding his lower leg and ankle. He had six carries for 44 yards before exiting.

The rookie had been the team’s starting running back while Marshawn Lynch is recovering from abdominal surgery. Rawls is the leading rusher for the Seahawks on the season, with 147 carries for 830 yards and four touchdowns. Lynch has just 417 yards and three touchdowns, with quarterback Russell Wilson coming in second with 456 yards.

Justin Gilbert Mens Jersey An undrafted rookie out of Central Michigan, Rawls has a 5.6 yards per carry average on the season, and is coming off a 101-yard game against the Minnesota Vikings. Veteran Fred Jackson and DuJuan Harris are the primary backups at running back, while fullback Derrick Coleman could also see more carries.

Still ahead of Pittsburgh, though, are the Kansas City Chiefs, who beat the Chargers in a low-scoring but exciting 10-3 affair, and the Jets, who dominated the Titans at home to the tune of 30-8. Both teams moved to 8-5 on the year while the Patriots moved to 11-2 and back in control in the AFC by blowing out the Texans on Sunday Night Football.

The AFC South is still a mess, and it doesn’t look like anyone wants to win that division. The Texans couldn’t take advantage after the Colts got a 50-burger dropped on them by the Jags in Jacksonville, and both teams fell back below .500.

As long as we’re talking about dumpster fire divisions, the NFC East isn’t much better, but Washington and Philly both grabbed big wins to stay even at 6-7, respectively. Washington beat the Bears 24-21 in Chicago with another nice game from Kirk Cousins (24 of 31 for 300 yards, one touchdown and one interception), while Philly did enough to get by the Bills at home, their second straight quality win.