Sean Payton: Brandin Cooks with zero targets was ‘unusual’

Authentic Youth Julius Erving Jersey Coach Sean Payton said he is “not concerned” about receiver Brandin Cooks’ apparent frustration with his role in the New Orleans Saints’ offense.

Cooks wasn’t targeted despite playing 45 snaps in the Saints’ 49-21 victory over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday. Cooks then made reference on Instagram to needing to become a “businessman,” and sources told ESPN that he has expressed growing frustration throughout this season — mostly over being used as a clear-out receiver instead of a primary option.

“Listen, Cooks is a real good football player, and we work extremely hard on these game plans,” Payton said Wednesday. “I’d say it’s a little unusual that we have a game where all of a sudden he’s not targeted. But the first play of the game is supposed to be his play, and we don’t get the right coverage look. We’ll keep working at finding those opportunities for him to get those touches.

Lewis is going through struggles of his own this year with the Bengals potentially heading toward one of their worst records in his 14-season tenure (he went 4-11-1 in 2008 and 4-12 in 2010).

Authentic Youth Anthony Davis Jersey “I think coaches work harder, turn over more stones, they become better coaches, better people when … you’re a touch off,” he said.

“When you’re winning, you’re doing the same thing, you’re just not questioned by the masses here. It doesn’t change your outlook on things. I think the players have a hard time wondering why you’re climbing up their butt when you’re winning. Now they won’t have to question that right now. That’s part of it. It’s what we are in professional sports.”

That’s all I can tell you. And then the next year after that, and the next year after that, some of those things that seem so insurmountable that first season, you realize you’re going to get through, things are going to work out and you’re going to find a way and it’s going to work well for you. I think that’s important in a tough season we all go through.”

Buffalo Bills running back C.J. Spiller will be a free agent next month

Buffalo Bills running back C.J. Spiller will be a free agent next month, but hasn’t ruled out a return to Buffalo yet. During an appearance on Sirius XM radio on Tuesday, Spiller said there is “a possibility [he] could be in a Bills uniform” next year, despite reports that the two sides remain far apart in contract talks. He seemed to put the onus on the organization Ndamukong Suh Authentic Womens Jersey to get a deal done, noting that “the ball is in their court” and that he prefers to stay in Buffalo.

The 27-year-old is coming off an injury-plagued 2014 campaign during which he missed nearly half the season due to a broken collarbone, and was largely ineffective when he did get on the field. The 2010 first-round pick rushed for 300 yards on 78 carries — averaging a career-low 3.8 yards per rush — and scored just two touchdowns in nine games. Spiller earned a base salary of $3.5 million last year in the final season of his rookie deal.

One of the few weakness of the NFC North champion Green Bay Packers this past season — and one that ultimately cost them a trip to the Super Bowl — was the mediocre play of their special teams unit, which ranked 30th in Pro Football Focus’ ratings. It ultimately cost special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum his job, and resulted in the hiring of Ron Zook to fill the position.

The team isn’t done making changes to its special teams, however. Head coach Mike McCarthy told’s Rob Demovsky that they “need to adjust [their] special teams philosophy” heading into next season. McCarthy specifically mentioned the need to use more starters and veterans on the coverage units.

Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith will likely be one of the more Neville Hewitt Authentic Womens Jersey coveted wideouts on the market this winter, and should command a lucrative contract in free agency. This will probably make it difficult for Baltimore to retain Smith, a sentiment that was echoed by Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti at a press conference on Tuesday.

Bisciotti reiterated that the organization has to formulate its spending philosophy within the constraints of the salary cap, and that it cannot engage in high-priced bidding wars for free agents. Per Pro Football Talk’s Mike Wilkening, he told reporters that “we’ve got to find a number, and some of the numbers that are thrown out there, quite frankly, we can’t match.”

Patty Mills (8) celebrates with Kawhi Leonard after draining a 3-pointer with 45 seconds left against the Celtics

In the final minute of a one-possession game, Patty Mills splashed a 3-pointer from the corner with five green jerseys cemented inside the paint, effectively securing San Antonio’s 109-103 Knile Davis Authentic Womens Jersey triumph over the Celtics at TD Garden.

The Celtics, winners of three straight and six of their previous eight entering Friday’s game, were left to stew over all the little things that went wrong down the stretch. Yes, the Spurs dominated the glass (a 45-36 edge highlighted by old friend David Lee’s 15-point, 12-rebound performance) and shot more free throws (a 25-9 edge in attempts), but the biggest takeaway should be that the Celtics still have strides to make in developing the sort of chemistry and cohesion that allows the NBA’s truly elite teams to rise in the biggest moments.

“I was just talking with [Isaiah Thomas] about how [Spurs coach Gregg Popovich] knows what he wants to get, and those guys run it to a T,” Celtics forward Jae Crowder said. “They have a lot of different playcalls in the fourth that they like to go to, and we knew them, but they just tried to pick us apart and just step into it. That’s one of the best teams that I ever saw in the fourth quarter.”

P.S. D-League history buffs will want to be reminded that the day before Thanksgiving marked the 15-year anniversary of Chris “Birdman” Andersen’s NBA debut, just two days after the Denver Nuggets summoned Andersen Larry Johnson Authentic Womens Jersey from the Fayetteville Patriots as the first D-Leaguer ever called up to the NBA.

Only one team in NBA history managed to record a double-digit scoring differential in its road games over the course of an entire season.

That would be the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers, who won a record 33 consecutive games in their most impressive burst and clocked in with a scoring margin of plus-11.3 in posting a road mark of 31-7.

Yet in the early days of this season, amazingly, three teams are in that zone. The Clippers, Warriors and Spurs take a combined road record of 23-1 into their respective away dates Friday night and can all claim to be on the Lakers’ pace.

On this holiday weekend, I’m unabashedly thankful for crazy box-score lines.

David Ortiz was a near-miss. But surely there are players who we’ve never heard of who missed entirely

David Ortiz was a near-miss. But surely there are players who we’ve never heard of who missed entirely, and not because they were capable of any less than Ortiz was.

What we know a 26th man will definitely do is add 30 opportunities to play in the majors. Minor league rules tend to follow the majors’ lead, so it seems likely — at least possible — that immediately, or in time, the minors will add 26th spots, too, which would add hundreds of other opportunities. I consider baseball to be almost a public utility, a vehicle for Sean Smith Authentic Jersey every child to dream of and aspire toward, and adding more opportunities is as much a public good as nationwide broadband access or the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line. I, therefore, love it.

With the way teams constantly shuffle the back end of their rosters — go check out the transactions file this past season for the Dodgers or Mariners — it makes sense to add another guy since teams are essentially playing with 26-man rosters anyway. I’ve actually advocated for a 28-man taxi squad, which is a system used in Japan, where you activate 25 guys each game. I like the idea of spreading the wealth around and seeing more pinch-hitters and pinch-runners.

Is there an avenue for Fowler to return, or is the smart move for the Cubs to spend that money elsewhere?

“We’ll keep talking to his agent,” Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said on ESPN 1000 in Chicago on Friday. “We have a great relationship with him. He’s had two great years with us. If something works out to bring him back, that would be great.”

A commitment to Dexter Fowler would tie up the Cubs’ payroll and bank on him being Sebastian Janikowski Authentic Jersey productive into his mid-30s. David Kohl/USA TODAY Sports
Unlike last offseason, Fowler shouldn’t have to wait until the last minute to sign a contract. His .393 on-base percentage and great reputation in the locker room are attractive to several teams.

It also doesn’t hurt to hit a World Series Game 7 home run and show defensive improvements before hitting the market. And then there’s the difference between last winter — when pitchers and big-name stars gobbled up the money early in the offseason — and this one, with Fowler about as attractive as any other player available.

Redskins rookie linebacker Su’a Cravens answered a call from his mom after the game

The last time Washington played Dallas, Redskins rookie linebacker Su’a Cravens answered a call from his mom after the game. She had an unusual message considering her son’s employer.

“How ’bout them Cowboys!” Joey Votto Authentic Womens Jersey she said.

He hung up. His mom called back.

“I’m just playing with you, I love you,” she told him.

To which he said, “I love you, too.”

And then he hung up on her again.

Such is the nature of their relationship: A mom who has remained Johnny Bench Authentic Womens Jersey devoted to the Cowboys and a son who plays for the Washington Redskins. That’s why Cravens said he wouldn’t talk to his mom this week, ignoring two calls from her after Sunday night’s win against Green Bay.

Cravens’ mom, Yolanda, grew up in Ft. Worth, Texas, with parents who were big Cowboys fans. Cravens’ grandmother remains a diehard Dallas fan, in fact.

“My grandma texted me [Monday] saying, ‘Don’t beat up on my Cowboys,'” Cravens said. “My grandpa before he passed was a Cowboys fan as well. I guess my mom was born into it and stuck with it.”

Cravens’ mom and other family members will attend Thursday’s game against Dallas. He said she has a half-Redskins, half-Cowboys jersey but “that doesn’t count.”

Cravens has become a pivotal player for the Redskins’ defense, a key member of their sub-packages — he’s playing in most of their nickel and dime packages. He’s also become a fan favorite; he just hasn’t done enough to persuade his mom to switch allegiances.

“If we lose, Oh I’m not talking to her for sure,” he said. “I won’t even want the food. But if we win, I’ll be all up, ‘Mom, mom.'”

When a reporter pointed out that perhaps he should answer her calls because, after all, she had given birth to him, Cravens said, “Does she know she gave birth to me? She should be cheering for me.”

The Timberwolves cannot figure out the 3rd quarter

The Minnesota Timberwolves’ 3-7 record would look a whole lot different if it weren’t for the third quarter. Minnesota ranks second in both first- and second-quarter net rating, a stat that measures a team’s point differential per 100 possessions.

However, the Wolves have completely fallen apart in the third. Minnesota ranks last in the NBA with -33.1 third-quarter net rating. This means that per 100 third-quarter possessions, the Timberwolves Doug McDermott Authentic Womens Jersey are being outscored by more than 33 points.

While the @Timberwolves have a 3-6 record and have underperformed…quarter by quarter net rating says they are a sleeping giant.

— Jim Petersen (@JimPeteHoops) November 15, 2016
And that was before the team’s 115-108 loss to the Hornets on Tuesday. The Wolves took a 12-point halftime lead, but Hornets opened the third on a 15-2 run and ended the quarter with a 21-4 surge. The Wolves rallied in the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t enough. Again.

“I think every team’s gotta take a look at that. I think teams are getting tuned in a little bit, you know, politically and everything else. And give the players a great deal of credit on that. I’ve been really proud of our own players, but the players throughout the league, that they’re attune to what’s going on and stand up for their values. I think that’s impressive. You know, I’ve said it with our team. I think it’s really impressive. Particularly the fact that we have a really young team, and we’re talking guys in their 20s. And normally that kind of, no matter where you stand on the spectrum, normally that kind of social awareness and activism is something you come to later in life.

“I said this morning, I know where I was in the 20s. I think I was fairly aware E’Twaun Moore Authentic Womens Jersey but I was just consumed with myself in the 20s and what I wanted to do and everything else. And then you grow into more of an awareness. So, to see these young guys taking an interest — young, privileged guys, you know, got a lot of money and everything else — to take an interest with what’s going on and a real concern with their communities and the people who are less fortunate than they are. I think (that) speaks very well of them. And I’ve been very proud of our league under Adam (Silver)’s leadership in terms of social issues with the teams in our league and the players.”
Van Gundy was the first NBA coach to openly criticize the country for electing Trump.

The Panthers were exceedingly likely to decline this season after a 15-1 2015

While I was more skeptical of Blake Bortles’ “breakout” 2015 season than most, he has come undone during a wildly disappointing 2016 season. Bortles’ mechanics were erratic and are now seemingly random from series to series, and while his past issues could be chalked up to a porous offensive line, Jacksonville’s protection has improved this season. He has left multiple long touchdowns on the field in back-to-back games and shows little sign of improving. With Jacksonville likely to fire Bradley after this season, the Jaguars either need to hire a coach with experience molding quarterbacks into stars (like Norv Turner) or go after a quarterback who can get the most out of Allen Robinson & Co. Could they be Golden Tate III Authentic Womens Jersey a landing spot for Tony Romo? A franchise that hasn’t topped five wins since 2010 has work to do to achieve even that total in 2016.

The Packers’ chances of making the playoffs, per ESPN’s Football Power Index, are down to 35.1 percent. In the short term, they’re way below expectations. In the long term, there are reasonable concerns about the viability of their franchise model to a greater extent than we’ve seen previously during the Mike McCarthy-Ted Thompson-Aaron Rodgers era. McCarthy had to come out this week and remind the media that he is “… a highly successful NFL coach,” which is the sort of thing you say when you’re trying to remind yourself of something. The offense continues to look flat, and a defense ravaged by injuries to key contributors such as Clay Matthews and Sam Shields hasn’t been able to hold up.

While the Saints have lost a few heartbreakers and are better than their 4-6 record, their long-term picture is still getting cloudier. Their 2015 draft, which was supposed to restock the organization, looks to be a mess. First-rounder Andrus Peat, drafted to play tackle, has been downgraded into a guard. Fellow first-rounder Stephone Anthony fell out of the defensive rotation and had played just 55 defensive snaps all season before Thursday night. Hau’oli Kikaha and P.J. Williams are both on injured reserve, and third-rounder Garrett Grayson was cut after just one season behind Drew Brees. Their latest free-agent class also has been disappointing: tight end Coby Fleener is on pace for 643 receiving yards and five touchdowns, while middle linebacker James Laurinaitis already has been released.

Left for dead after an 0-2 start led Rex Ryan to fire offensive Haloti Ngata Authentic Womens Jersey coordinator Greg Roman, the Bills have been an above-average football team since. The foot injury suffered by Sammy Watkins is troubling for his long-term future, but Tyrod Taylor has been effective in his second season as the starter, even without his No. 1 wideout for most of the season. That was a question mark heading into the season.

Horford traveled with the Celtics on a two-game road trip last week with the goal of playing

Boston Celtics big man Al Horford missed his eighth straight game Wednesday. It has been 17 days since Horford was concussed when a teammate inadvertently struck him during a practice on Halloween, and the Celtics remain uncertain of when he’ll return to game action.

The fact that Horford signed a monster Authentic Bilal Powell Jersey contract this summer (four years, $113 million) combined with Boston’s uneven play without him has left many Celtics fans restless for his return. What’s prudent to remember is Horford’s injury history suggests a player who exercises great caution with his health before returning to the floor.

“They will continue to work hard. Corey has just gotten off to an unbelievable start [and] there is a lot coming his way early. And I think he has managed it extremely well.”

If there was anything that Seager struggled to conquer, it was the physical toll of his first full major league season, which included six weeks of Authentic Brandon Marshall Jersey spring training, 157 games played in the regular season and 11 postseason games.

Knowing now how that feels, he has vowed to overcome that part as well.

“It was just fatigue from a long year,” he said, not long after the last out of the season had been recorded. “Next year will be better just because you know what to expect. That’s really all it was.”

While an outsider might have seen a kid settle into big league life easily, as if he had been doing this stuff all along, Seager admitted later in the year that it was a process. Yes, even he got caught up in the moment, like when he was batting just .243 with a .383 slugging percentage on May 6.

“That” would be his productive season, something Seager seemed reluctant to embrace, or even acknowledge. It sounds like a guy who refuses to be content with the numbers regardless of how impressive they are.

Perhaps his refusal to be awed by the grandness of it all, even a three-homer night, is a trait he picked up from his mom.

“It’s awesome,” Jody Seager said of her son’s quick assimilation to the game’s highest level, “but he’s played baseball since he was a little kid, and it’s just a different baseball field in a bigger stadium.”

Michael Palardy puts ‘honey-do’ list aside to punt for Panthers

Michael Palardy was about to sit down for dinner in his Atlanta home after putting aside a project on his self-proclaimed honey-do list when the Carolina Panthers called on Sunday around 6 p.m.

Palardy in a way embodies the message coach Ron Rivera gave after Sunday’s fourth-quarter collapse in which the Panthers blew a 17-3 lead.

“It’s like I told the guys in there, the problem Nick Boyle Youth Jersey is there’s always going to be excuses, but there’s not always going to be opportunities,” Rivera said. “So we’d better start taking advantage of them.”

Palardy, a left-footed punter, didn’t expect this opportunity. He was looking at getting into coaching, at least part-time, to help out financially until he perhaps got another NFL opportunity during the offseason.

He’s determined to make the most of this one.

“Yeah, it’s a short week,” Palardy said. “But I’m being judged just as well as Graham is and [deep snapper] J.J. [Jansen] is. We all want to help each other and help each other win.”

Palardy was one of four punters the Ray Lewis Youth Jersey Panthers auditioned during the offseason after Brad Nortman signed with Jacksonville in free agency. He was released in June and then spent time with the Falcons and Browns.

His last punt came in Cleveland’s preseason finale.

Since then?

“Just staying at home and making sure that I do my domestic duties and make sure the house is clean, take care of the kids, doing school and homework and all that good stuff,” Palardy said. “A 5- and a 6-year-old will keep you very busy.”

Dwyane Wade confirmed before Thursday’s game that he received Pat Riley’s email

A hard foul, the kind that sends previously functional pickup runs into a shouty standoff death spiral. A 5-foot cushion on the perimeter, with overt disrespect masked as pity. Taunts of the printable — He’s soft, let him shoot — and unprintable variety. An edict delivered as a matter of fact: Freshmen — all freshman — are required to carry the upperclassmen’s bags.

This is The Test. Or parts of it, anyway. Probably.

It’s a tricky, shifty thing, this Mike Morgan Authentic Jersey test — tough to define in concrete terms. It’s not, technically speaking, an exam — though it also kind of is. There are no guaranteed questions and no sure answers. Even the name is informal. You can be “tested,” but you can also be “challenged.” You don’t necessarily pass the test so much as “react correctly,” as Kansas senior Landen Lucas said, with some care. Correct reaction requires fluency in a social language only elite athletes speak.

Dwyane Wade confirmed before Thursday’s game that he received Pat Riley’s email — but he hadn’t read it yet.

“Worst basketball game I ever played in Nick Vannett Authentic Jersey my life,” Wade said with a chuckle. “I couldn’t wait until it was over. It’s just weird. You’re going against guys — it just seemed like we were just playing in the playoffs together.

“Just a good environment though, man. The fans were great. I appreciate the ovation, the cheers. The things that they were saying, I appreciate it all. But the game itself was weird.”

Wade, who spent 13 seasons in Miami, spoke openly in recent days about how much he wanted to win this game. It marked the Bulls’ only regular-season appearance in Miami. After struggling to find his rhythm throughout the night, Wade calmly drained two free throws with 13.7 seconds left that helped secure the Bulls’ victory. His teammates and coaches said they were happy he was able to earn a victory against his old team.

“He’s so calm about it,” said Bulls All-Star swingman Jimmy Butler. “Nothing gets to him. He came in here to do a job, and he got it done. You know, emotions are rushing, but he’s a professional, Hall of Famer, but he doesn’t show it. He goes out there and competes, plays basketball the right way and leads us to victories. That’s what you ask from him each and every day, and he brings it each and every day, and I’m glad we got this one for him.”