Falcons still searching for success in red zone

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — The Atlanta Falcons’ offense went to great lengths during the offseason to improve in the red zone.

So much for that after Week 1.

The Falcons were held to 12 points in last week’s loss, scoring just one touchdown in five trips inside the Philadelphia 20-yard line. They came away with no points three times and settled for a short field goal on another.

“It kind of goes without saying that we’ve put a good bit of work into there and we’re not going to assess where we’re at on one performance, but that part of our game needs to improve, and it certainly will,” coach Dan Quinn said Monday. “We just know we have work to do in that spot.”

Atlanta (0-1) is unlikely to catch much of a break this weekend when Carolina (1-0) visits Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The Panthers’ defense kept Dallas out of the red zone until midway through the fourth quarter when the Cowboys scored their lone touchdown. Carolina hit quarterback Dak Prescott 10 times and sacked him six times.

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was sacked four times and hit 13 by the Eagles. Two sacks came on the 12 snaps Atlanta took in the last two minutes as Ryan drove the offense 70 yards and ended the game with a short incompletion to star receiver Julio Jones.

Quinn was just as disappointed in the game’s opening drive. The offense looked dynamic on its first seven plays, driving to the 1 on three long catches by Jones and two strong runs by Devonta Freeman, but the offense quickly stalled.

From that point on, Freeman ran just four times for 11 yards, and Tevin Colman had nine rushes for 19. Quinn stopped short of criticizing offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian’s play-calling before adding that Atlanta must do a better job of balancing its attack to blend in more runs.

It will be tough against Carolina, which ranked No. 3 against the run last year. Philadelphia ranked No. 1.

“When you play good fronts, it’s hard to get the run game going, but you have to find ways to do it because eventually some of those runs break,” Quinn said.

“Sometimes the zero run goes for 10. You’ve got to keep digging and taking your shots at it. It’s a big part of what we do. We’ve got incredibly high standards for our run and how we do it and the way we feature the backs.”

The offensive line has to do its part and stay on blocks to create some creases to exploit. Freeman and Coleman need to be more active in the screen passing game, too.

“We’ve just got to be effective early,” left guard Andy Levitre said. “They’ve got a good front, so it’s staying on guys and giving backs a chance to hit it and make some plays. Those guys are well capable of doing that.”

NOTES: LB Deion Jones was held out of practice with a sore foot. Quinn said it was too early to tell if Jones will miss more time this week. … The team signed LB Corey Nelson, S Keith Tandy and DE Steven Means as reserves. … WR Christian Blake was signed to the practice squad. … CB Deante Burton and long snapper Jeff Overbaugh were waived.

___

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Pats suspended WR Gordon works out with Brady

Pats suspended WR Gordon works out with Brady

Suspended New England Patriots wideout

Pats suspended WR Gordon works out with Brady

Suspended New England Patriots wideout Josh Gordon and quarterback Tom Brady got together for a workout this week.

Brady posted a GIF on Instagram on Wednesday showing him throwing to Gordon, with the caption “Practice makes perfect.” ESPN reported the photo came from a workout on Tuesday.

Brady regularly connects with teammates for workouts during the offseason, but Gordon’s future is murky after he was suspended indefinitely by the NFL in December for violating the terms of his reinstatement from a yearlong ban for substance abuse. According to The Athletic, the league does not have an update on Gordon’s status, with the preseason less than two months away.

The Patriots have supported Gordon since the suspension, offering him a restricted free agent tender, which Gordon signed in April. If he is able to play this season, New England would welcome him back.

Gordon, 28, played one game for the Cleveland Browns last year before being traded to the Patriots in September. In 12 games, he caught 41 passes for 737 yards and four touchdowns.

After breaking into the NFL with the Browns in 2012 and making the Pro Bowl after the 2013 season, Gordon missed the entire 2015 and 2016 seasons due to suspensions related to substance abuse.

–Field Level Media

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NFL notebook: Falcons WR Jones in line for extension

NFL notebook: Falcons WR Jones in line for extension

The

NFL notebook: Falcons WR Jones in line for extension

The Atlanta Falcons are confident they will re-sign wide receiver Julio Jones to a new long-term extension before training camp begins next month, ESPN reported Tuesday.

Jones has two years remaining on his deal, which owes him $9.6 million in 2019 and $11.4 million in 2020. He signed a contract adjustment as training camp opened last July — giving him $4.4 million, including $2.9 million from his 2019 salary, up front — and the team reportedly promised to do a full extension this offseason. That came after Jones missed the Falcons’ entire offseason program and threatened to hold out into training camp.

The 30-year-old again missed voluntary workouts this summer, but he showed up for mandatory minicamp. He told reporters in April he isn’t concerned with being the NFL’s highest-paid wide receiver.

In his eighth season, Jones is coming off of his sixth Pro Bowl selection — fifth in a row — after catching 113 passes for a league-high 1,677 yards and eight touchdowns last season. He remains the NFL’s all-time leader in career receiving yards per game (96.7).

–Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford played through broken bones in his back last year, according to a team reporter.

Mike O’Hara, a long-time Lions beat reporter who now works for the team’s website, said of Stafford on a recent episode of his podcast, “He had a broken back last year. Broken bones in his back.”

After taking 12 hits against the Los Angeles Rams on Dec. 2, Stafford was listed with a back injury for the final four weeks of the 2018 season, including limited participation and questionable designations for games in Weeks 14-16. He played in all four games, throwing for 691 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions as the Lions went 2-2.

–The former NFL running back who wore “He Hate Me” on his jersey during his season in the XFL was found safe after going missing in South Carolina, according to a report from the Charlotte Observer.

Police said Torrold “Rod” Smart was located and was OK, the Observer reported. Earlier in the day, the Lancaster (S.C.) County Sheriff’s Office said Smart was a “missing endangered person” and was seeking information regarding his whereabouts.

Smart, 42, played college football at Western Kentucky. As an undrafted free agent in 2000, he was signed by the then-San Diego Chargers but was released. The following year, he played for the Las Vegas Outlaws of the XFL, then later in 2001 played in the Canadian Football League and with the Philadelphia Eagles. He played four more seasons with the Carolina Panthers.

–New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas is headed for paydirt, one way or another.

General manager Mickey Loomis said on Mad Dog Sports Radio that the Saints and Thomas have begun talks geared toward a long-term deal. Thomas, who is entering the final year of his rookie contract, had 125 receptions for 1,405 yards in 2018.

“We’ve had some conversations, and I like keeping that close to the vest until there’s something to report, but look, we love what Mike’s done for us,” Loomis said. “He’s a fantastic player, one of the best at his position in the league, and hopefully we can keep him a Saint for a long time as well.”

–More than 5,000 Denver Broncos fans attended owner Pat Bowlen’s memorial service, according to the team.

Bowlen died last week at age 75 after a fight with Alzheimer’s disease. The team hosted a public memorial service at Broncos Stadium at Mile High, where fans walked past photos and memorabilia from Bowlen’s life and watched a video tribute in his honor.

Former Broncos players such as John Elway, Rod Smith and Peyton Manning also attended the service. Bowlen will be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame posthumously this August.

–Former Senior Bowl director and Cleveland Browns general manager Phil Savage is expected to join the New York Jets’ personnel department under new general manager Joe Douglas, NFL Network reported.

Per the report, Savage’s role is not yet fully defined, but an announcement “should come this week,” absent a setback. NFL Network also reported Ravens assistant director of pro personnel Chad Alexander will join the Jets as director of player personnel.

ESPN reported the Jets are hiring Indianapolis Colts vice president of player personnel Rex Hogan as assistant general manager, after Hogan served as New York’s senior director of college scouting from 2015-17.

–Field Level Media

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RB Smart, known as ‘He Hate Me,’ reported safe

RB Smart, known as 'He Hate Me,' reported safe

RB Smart, known as ‘He Hate Me,’ reported safe

The former NFL running back who wore “He Hate Me” on his jersey during his season in the XFL was found safe after going missing in South Carolina, according to a report from the Charlotte Observer.

Police said Tuesday evening that Torrold “Rod” Smart was located and was OK, the Observer reported. Earlier in the day, the Lancaster (S.C.) County Sheriff’s Office said Smart was a “missing endangered person” and was seeking information regarding his whereabouts.

Smart, 42, played college football at Western Kentucky. As an undrafted free agent in 2000, he was signed by the then-San Diego Chargers but was released. The following year, he played for the Las Vegas Outlaws of the XFL, then later in 2001 played in the Canadian Football League and with the Philadelphia Eagles. He played four more seasons with the Carolina Panthers.

He gained 1,814 all-purpose yards in his five-year NFL career, plus 364 more during two playoff runs with the Panthers.

“It is unusual for him to be out of touch for this long,” the sheriff’s office wrote in an advisory posted to its Facebook page. “Mr. Smart’s family is worried about his safety and well-being.”

–Field Level Media

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Lions QB Stafford reportedly played with broken back

Lions QB Stafford reportedly played with broken back

Detroit Lions

Lions QB Stafford reportedly played with broken back

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford played through broken bones in his back last year, according to a team reporter.

Mike O’Hara, a long-time Lions beat reporter who now works for the team’s website, said of Stafford on a recent episode of his podcast, “He had a broken back last year. Broken bones in his back.”

Asked by podcast host Ken Brown if he was allowed to say that, O’Hara replied that the information had “been reported. I read that. Word gets out in the NFL.”

O’Hara told MLive he stands by his words. Meanwhile, MLive reports Stafford played through injuries that were more serious than reported, although the outlet did not confirm any broken bones.

After taking 12 hits against the Los Angeles Rams on Dec. 2, Stafford was listed with a back injury for the final four weeks of the 2018 season, including limited participation and questionable designations for games in Weeks 14-16. He played in all four games, throwing for 691 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions as the Lions went 2-2.

Stafford, 31, has played in 128 straight games since missing 19 across his first two seasons. That’s the sixth-longest start streak by a quarterback in NFL history and the third-longest active streak (behind Philip Rivers and Matt Ryan).

He posted down numbers across the board last season, throwing for 3,777 yards, 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, his worst marks since 2010, 2012 and 2015.

–Field Level Media

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Thousands of Broncos fans pay tribute to Bowlen

Thousands of Broncos fans pay tribute to Bowlen

More than

Thousands of Broncos fans pay tribute to Bowlen

More than 5,000 Denver Broncos fans attended owner Pat Bowlen’s memorial service on Tuesday, according to the team.

Bowlen died last week at age 75 after a fight with Alzheimer’s disease. The team hosted a public memorial service at Broncos Stadium at Mile High, where fans walked past photos and memorabilia from Bowlen’s life and watched a video tribute in his honor.

Former Broncos players such as John Elway, Rod Smith and Peyton Manning also attended the service. Bowlen posthumously will be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame this August.

Beth Bowlen Wallace thanked fans and friends for sharing stories about her father and his impact on the community.

“It’s been very comforting,” Bowlen Wallace said. “It’s been an overwhelming time emotionally for all of us, but to see the fans and to see the players and the staff that have come through has brought great comfort because we realize, which we already did, it just solidifies how much my father meant to this community. It’s mirrored back to them how much this community meant to my father.”

Brittany Bowlen said her father might not have believed the public response.

“He’d be incredibly overwhelmed by all of the support and love,” she said. “And there would definitely be a small part of him that would be like, ‘What the heck?’

“It’s pretty astonishing to see all of these artifacts and things that were important to him in life and meet all of these people that truly loved him. I think he’d be really incredibly overwhelmed by the support. I think it would be moving for him. It really would.”

–Field Level Media

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Report: Falcons expect Jones extension before camp

Report: Falcons expect Jones extension before camp

The Atlanta Falcons are "confident" they will re-sign wide receiver

Report: Falcons expect Jones extension before camp

The Atlanta Falcons are “confident” they will re-sign wide receiver Julio Jones to a new long-term extension before training camp begins next month, ESPN reported Tuesday.

The team reports for camp on July 22.

Jones has two years remaining on his deal, which owes him $9.6 million in 2019 and $11.4 million in 2020. He signed a contract adjustment as training camp opened last July — giving him $4.4 million, including $2.9 million from his 2019 salary, up front — and the team reportedly promised to do a full extension this offseason. That came after Jones missed the Falcons’ entire offseason program and threatened to hold out into training camp.

The 30-year-old again missed voluntary workouts this summer, but he showed for mandatory minicamp. He told reporters in April he isn’t concerned with being the NFL’s highest-paid wide receiver.

Bleacher Report reported in late March the Falcons and Jones were closing in on a four- or five-year deal averaging $20 million annually, but nothing has developed since.

In his eighth season, Jones is coming off of his sixth Pro Bowl selection — fifth in a row — after catching 113 passes for a league-high 1,677 yards and eight touchdowns last season. He remains the NFL’s all-time leader in career receiving yards per game (96.7).

–Field Level Media

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RB Smart, known as ‘He Hate Me,’ missing in S.C.

RB Smart, known as 'He Hate Me,' missing in S.C.

RB Smart, known as ‘He Hate Me,’ missing in S.C.

The former NFL running back who wore “He Hate Me” on his jersey during his season in the XFL has gone missing in South Carolina, police said.

The Lancaster (S.C.) County Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday that Torrold “Rod” Smart is a “missing endangered person” and it is seeking information regarding his whereabouts. His last known location was Indian Land, S.C., where he was seen last Wednesday morning.

Smart, 42, played college football at Western Kentucky. As an undrafted free agent in 2000, he was signed by the San Diego Chargers but was released. The following year, he played for the Las Vegas Outlaws of the XFL, then later in 2001 played in the Canadian Football League and with the Philadelphia Eagles. He played four more seasons with the Carolina Panthers.

He gained 1,814 all-purpose yards in his five-year NFL career, plus 364 more during two playoff runs with the Panthers.

“It is unusual for him to be out of touch for this long,” the sheriff’s office wrote in an advisory posted to its Facebook page. “Mr. Smart’s family is worried about his safety and well-being.”

The Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office is asking anyone with information about Smart to call (803) 283-3388.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Savage expected to join Jets’ scouting staff

Report: Savage expected to join Jets' scouting staff

Report: Savage expected to join Jets’ scouting staff

Former Senior Bowl director and Cleveland Browns general manager Phil Savage is expected to join the New York Jets’ personnel department under new general manager Joe Douglas, NFL Network reported Tuesday.

Per the report, Savage’s role is not yet fully defined, but an announcement “should come this week,” absent a setback.

Savage, 54, worked with Douglas when both were with the Baltimore Ravens, Savage as director of college scouting (1996-2002) and then director of player personnel (2003-04) and Douglas as a scout (2000-2014). Both also spent time with the Philadelphia Eagles, though they did not cross paths (Savage from 2010-12 and Douglas from 2016-19).

Savage served as the Browns’ GM from 2005-08, helping the team to its only 10-win season since 1994 when they went 10-6 in 2007.

He became the executive director of the Senior Bowl — the annual showcase of top senior college prospects in Mobile, Ala. — in 2012 and ran the event for six years before stepping down in May 2018.

The Jets missed out on a few other reported targets for Douglas’ staff. ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay pulled his name out of consideration, while the Eagles promoted Andy Weidl — to VP of player personnel, Douglas’ old job — and Ian Cunningham (to assistant director of player personnel) to prevent them from following Douglas to New York.

–Field Level Media

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Saints, WR Thomas discussing long-term deal

Saints, WR Thomas discussing long-term deal

Saints, WR Thomas discussing long-term deal

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas is headed for paydirt, one way or another.

General manager Mickey Loomis said on Mad Dog Sports Radio that the Saints and Thomas have begun talks geared toward a long-term deal. Thomas is entering the final year of his rookie contract.

“We’ve had some conversations, and I like keeping that close to the vest until there’s something to report, but look, we love what Mike’s done for us,” Loomis said. “He’s a fantastic player, one of the best at his position in the league, and hopefully we can keep him a Saint for a long time as well.”

Thomas had 125 receptions for 1,405 yards in 2018, when he was a first-team All-Pro selection.

The Saints recently agreed to a three-year deal with defensive end Cam Jordan, but locking up Thomas might be pushed into the 2020 offseason.

If the two sides are far apart on value, Thomas is expected to be given the franchise tag. The tag value for 2019 was $16.7 million.

Thomas’ four-year deal signed as a second-round pick out of Ohio State calls for him to be paid $1.15 million in salary in 2019.

–Field Level Media

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Well-traveled QB McCown retires, joins ESPN

Well-traveled QB McCown retires, joins ESPN

Josh McCown, whose 17-year NFL career spanned

Well-traveled QB McCown retires, joins ESPN

Josh McCown, whose 17-year NFL career spanned 10 teams, announced his retirement Monday.

His longest tenure with any franchise was four seasons, that being with the Arizona Cardinals, who drafted McCown in the third round of the 2002 draft.

He started 22 games for the Cardinals, the most he had in any of his NFL stops.

“But looking back, I’m proud of how my career has gone,” he wrote at The Players’ Tribune website. “I don’t shy away from the journeyman label. I embrace it, full force.

“Because it’s been one heck of a journey.”

The journey now takes him to ESPN, where he will join the network as an NFL analyst, starting Wednesday, when he will appear on multiple shows.

“Josh knows the game and is widely respected throughout the league,” ESPN vice president for NFL studio shows Seth Markman said in a statement. “Every quarterback room he was in as a player, he made better. Now we’re excited to welcome him to ESPN.”

McCown played in 99 games (76 starts) across 16 seasons, completing 1,581 of 2,628 passes for 17,707 yards, with 98 touchdowns and 82 interceptions.

McCown, who turns 40 on July 4, spent the past two seasons with the New York Jets, serving as the starter in 2017. He appeared in four games (three starts) last season, serving as a backup to rookie Sam Darnold.

McCown’s career also took him to the Detroit Lions, Oakland Raiders, Miami Dolphins, Carolina Panthers, San Francisco 49ers, Chicago Bears, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Cleveland Browns.

“At the end of the day, no matter what team I was on, I tried to serve it to the best of my ability, and I tried to influence my team in a positive manner. I hope I did that,” McCown wrote.

“And I made sure that when my number was called, I was prepared, and I gave it everything I had, every time. I may not have turned out to be the franchise quarterback I set out to be back at Cardinals rookie camp, but I’m extremely proud of the career I had.”

–Field Level Media

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Packers claim TE Roberts off waivers from Lions

Packers claim TE Roberts off waivers from Lions

The Green Bay Packers claimed tight end

Packers claim TE Roberts off waivers from Lions

The Green Bay Packers claimed tight end Michael Roberts off waivers from the Detroit Lions on Monday, according to multiple reports.

The Lions released Roberts on Friday after his trade to the New England Patriots for a 2020 seventh-round pick was rescinded due to a failed physical. New England was expected to have interest in claiming Roberts, but Green Bay had a higher waiver priority.

Roberts, 25, was a fourth-round pick out of Toledo in 2017 after catching 13 touchdowns as a senior. The 25-year-old has 13 receptions for 146 yards and three touchdowns in 23 NFL games, with 48 yards and two scores coming in one game last season (at Miami).

He’ll join a Packers tight end group that includes veterans Jimmy Graham and Marcedes Lewis and third-round rookie Jace Sternberger.

New England has been searching to bolster the position since the retirement of Rob Gronkowski earlier this year.

–Field Level Media

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Koepka early Open favorite

Koepka early Open favorite

Brooks Koepka

Koepka early Open favorite

Brooks Koepka fell short in his attempt to win his third consecutive U.S. Open on Sunday, but the four-time major champion has already been installed as the early favorite to win next month’s Open Championship in Northern Ireland.

PointsBet listed Koepka at 9/1 and FanDuel at 7/1, slightly ahead of Rory McIlroy (10/1 and 8.5/1), who will be an overwhelming crowd favorite as he seeks to win The Open in his home country. Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods were all listed at 12/1 by PointsBet on Monday, while FanDuel had Woods at 9.5/1 and the other two at 12/1.

Gary Woodland held off Koepka at Pebble Beach to claim his first major championship and rise to No. 12 in the world rankings, but he is still only 66/1 by PointsBet.

The 148th Open Championship will be held at Royal Portrush July 18-21.

Portrush native Graeme McDowell secured his entry into the event at the RBC Canadian Open earlier this month. Despite posting a solid T16 finish at the U.S. Open, McDowell is still 42/1 by FanDuel while PointsBet isn’t yet offering a future wager on the 39-year-old.

However, PointsBet is offering 5,000/1 odds on 1995 Open champion John Daly.

The Open odds (via PointsBet)

Brooks Koepka, +900

Rory McIlroy, +1000

Dustin Johnson, +1200

Jordan Spieth, +1200

Tiger Woods, +1200

Justin Rose, +1600

Francesco Molinari, +1800

Jon Rahm, +2000

Tommy Fleetwood, +2200

Rickie Fowler, +2500

Justin Thomas, +2500

Xander Schauffele, +2500

Jason Day, +2800

Bryson DeChambeau, +2800

Tony Finau, +3000

Patrick Cantlay, +3000

Sergio Garcia, +3300

Hideki Matsuyama, +3500

Henrik Stenson, +4000

Alex Noren, +4000

Paul Casey, +4000

Phil Mickelson, +4000

Adam Scott, +4000

Patrick Reed, +5000

Louis Oosthuizen, +5000

Branden Grace, +5000

Marc Leishman, +5000

Matt Kuchar, +5000

Ian Poulter, +6000

Matt Wallace, +6000

Tyrrell Hatton, +6600

Matthew Fitzpatrick, +6600

Bubba Watson, +6600

Shane Lowry, +6600

Gary Woodland, +6600

Webb Simpson, +8000

Paul Dunne, +8000

Brandt Snedeker, +8000

Danny Willett, +8000

Russell Knox, +8000

Rafael Cabrera Bello, +8000

Zach Johnson, +8000

Thomas Pieters, +8000

Eddie Pepperell, +9000

Chris Wood, +10000

Jimmy Walker, +10000

Kevin Chappell, +10000

Thorbjorn Olesen, +10000

Ryan Fox, +10000

Kevin Kisner, +10000

Haotong Li, +10000

Cameron Smith, +10000

Byeong Hun An, +12500

Emiliano Grillo, +12500

Ryan Moore, +12500

Brian Harman, +12500

Luke List, +12500

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, +12500

Beau Hossler, +12500

Daniel Berger, +15000

Charl Schwartzel, +15000

Kevin Na, +15000

Jason Dufner, +15000

Keegan Bradley, +15000

Padraig Harrington, +15000

Joost Luiten, +15000

Alexander Levy, +15000

Peter Uihlein, +15000

Dylan Frittelli, +15000

Bernd Wiesberger, +15000

Si Woo Kim, +15000

Kyle Stanley, +15000

Charley Hoffman, +15000

Alexander Bjork, +17500

Hudson Swafford, +17500

Austin Cook, +20000

Ross Fisher, +20000

Russell Henley, +20000

Jorge Campillo, +20000

Charles Howell, +20000

Ernie Els, +20000

Jeunghun Wang, +20000

Danny Lee, +20000

Grayson Murray, +20000

Satoshi Kodaira, +25000

Stewart Cink, +25000

Mikko Korhonen, +25000

Paul Lawrie, +25000

Shubhankar Sharma, +25000

Todd Hamilton, +50000

Darren Clarke, +50000

Mark Calcavecchia, +50000

David Duval, +50000

Tom Lehman, +50000

John Daly, +50000

–Field Level Media

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Well-traveled QB McCown announces retirement

Well-traveled QB McCown announces retirement

Josh McCown, whose 17-year NFL career spanned 10

Well-traveled QB McCown announces retirement

Josh McCown, whose 17-year NFL career spanned 10 teams, announced his retirement Monday.

His longest tenure with any franchise was four seasons, that being with the Arizona Cardinals, who drafted McCown in the third round of the 2002 draft.

He started 22 games for the Cardinals, the most he had in any of his NFL stops.

“But looking back, I’m proud of how my career has gone,” he wrote at The Players’ Tribune website. “I don’t shy away from the journeyman label. I embrace it, full force.

“Because it’s been one heck of a journey.”

McCown played in 99 games (76 starts) across 16 seasons, completing 1,581 of 2,628 passes for 17,707 yards, with 98 touchdowns and 82 interceptions.

McCown, who turns 40 on July 4, spent the past two seasons with the New York Jets, serving as the starter in 2017. He appeared in four games (three starts) last season, serving as a backup to rookie Sam Darnold.

McCown’s career also took him to the Detroit Lions, Oakland Raiders, Miami Dolphins, Carolina Panthers, San Francisco 49ers, Chicago Bears, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Cleveland Browns.

“At the end of the day, no matter what team I was on, I tried to serve it to the best of my ability, and I tried to influence my team in a positive manner. I hope I did that,” McCown wrote.

“And I made sure that when my number was called, I was prepared, and I gave it everything I had, every time. I may not have turned out to be the franchise quarterback I set out to be back at Cardinals rookie camp, but I’m extremely proud of the career I had.”

McCown has done analyst work for ESPN and wrote that he plans to do more of that, as well as coach his two sons, who are high school quarterbacks.

–Field Level Media

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Woodland rises to No. 12 in world rankings after U.S. Open win

Woodland rises to No. 12 in world rankings after U.S. Open win

Woodland rises to No. 12 in world rankings after U.S. Open win

With his first major championship win on Sunday at the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, Gary Woodland moved up to a career-best No. 12 in the world golf rankings.

Woodland beat out two-time defending champion and world No. 1 Brooks Koepka by three shots at the U.S. Open, carding a final-round 69 for a 13-under 271 total to become just the fourth player in history to record four sub-par rounds en route to hoisting the trophy.

Woodland climbed 13 spots after his win at Pebble Beach. He started the week ranked No. 25.

“I’ve worked hard my whole life. I’ve been surrounded by amazing people and I always just wanted to be successful. I didn’t know what it was, what I was going to do. I fell in love with golf, and it’s transcended to today,” Woodland said.

“People probably growing up said the U.S. Open wouldn’t suit me, because I’m a long hitter, I’m a bomber. Coming to Pebble Beach, on top of that, it’s a shorter golf course. And I went out and proved, I think to everybody else, what I always believed — that I’m pretty good.”

Woodland also rose from ninth to fifth in the FedEx Cup standings; Matt Kuchar remained in first place.

Koepka, who shot 68 on Sunday to finish alone in second place, remains the world’s No. 1 player for the 13th straight week while Dustin Johnson, who finished tied for 35th, stays at No. 2.

There was some minor shuffling among the top 10.

England’s Justin Rose, who finished tied for third at Pebble Beach, moved up to No. 3 while Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy dropped to No. 4 after finishing tied for ninth place. Tiger Woods, who won the 2000 championship at Pebble Beach by a record 15 strokes with a 12-under 272 total, remains No. 5.

Flip-flopping the final two spots in the top 10 are Xander Schauffele, who moved to No. 9 after finishing tied for third on Sunday, and Bryson DeChambeau, who dropped a spot to No. 10 with a T-35 finish.

–Field Level Media

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Woods concludes shaky U.S. Open with a flourish

Woods concludes shaky U.S. Open with a flourish

Woods concludes shaky U.S. Open with a flourish

Six birdies in the last 12 holes moved Tiger Woods up the leaderboard, but he was a non-factor in the 119th edition of the U.S. Open.

It was a minor consolation to Woods that he finished well at Pebble Beach, but he knows it was just a band-aid to a week’s worth of scabs and welts.

“I wish I would have known because I would have turned it around a little earlier than that,” Woods said after a final-round 69 that allowed him to finish at 2-under 282, well behind the leaders. “Again, got off to another crappy start and was able to fight it off. Turned back around and got it to under par for the week which is — normally it’s a good thing, but this week the guys are definitely taking to it.”

The final round marked the lone time Woods broke 70 in four rounds on the scenic course on the northern California coast. But it sure didn’t come easy.

Woods bogeyed four of the first six holes and appeared to be en route to a dreadful day. He bogeyed the par-5 Nos. 1 and 2 to start off the round, failing to sink a five-foot putt on the second hole.

A bogey on the par-3 fifth hole was followed by another bogey on the par-5 sixth, leaving Woods’ mood as gloomy as the cloudy sky hovering over the course.

“It was just a matter of can I somehow get it back to even par for the day and the total,” said Woods, “and that was our goal.”

The turnaround began with a birdie-2 on the 102-yard seventh hole and was followed with a birdie on the par-4 eighth.

After four straight pars, Woods finished with a flourish by nailing birdies on 13, 14, 16 and 18. Nos. 13 and 16 were par-4 holes — he began his late flurry by sinking a 40-foot putt on 13 — while Nos. 14 (582 yards) and 18 (539) were par-5s.

The ending left Woods with a positive way to conclude the tournament, even if he was never in contention.

“Just because I got off to a bad start doesn’t mean it’s over,” Woods said. “Keep grinding, keep playing. And I was able to turn my round around today as well as yesterday. So rounds that could have easily slipped away and kind of gone the other way pretty easily I was able to (get a) turnaround.”

Woods has won three U.S. Open titles, but the most recent was the memorable 91-hole playoff victory over Rocco Mediate at Torrey Pines in 2008.

He said next up on his slate is getting some rest — “I think I’m going to take a little bit of time off and enjoy some family time,” Woods said — with an eye on being physically fresh next month for The Open Championship (formerly British Open) at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland.

“I’m looking forward to getting up there and taking a look at the golf course and trying to figure out,” Woods said of a course in which he has never played or seen. “I hope that my practice rounds are such that we get different winds, especially on a golf course that I’ve never played, and to get a different feel how it could play for the week. And definitely have to do my homework once I get there.”

–Field Level Media

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Woodland nabs first major win at U.S. Open

Woodland nabs first major win at U.S. Open

Woodland nabs first major win at U.S. Open

Gary Woodland fended off a challenge from the reigning champion and won his first major championship, shooting 2-under 69 during Sunday’s final round of the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach on the shores of northern California.

Woodland, who’s from Topeka, Kan., finished 13-under 271 for the tournament for a three-shot victory. The 35-year-old, who was a college golfer at Kansas, capped the round with a long birdie putt on the last hole.

Brooks Koepka, the two-time defending champion, made it interesting, finishing with 68 after a torrid start to the round. He ended up at 10 under.

Koepka, who won last month’s PGA Championship, posted birdies on five of the first six holes. He closed with six straight pars, barely missing a birdie putt on the final hole that would have closed the gap to one stroke at the time.

England’s Justin Rose (74), Xander Schauffele (67), Chez Reavie (71) and Spain’s Jon Rahm (68) tied for third place at 7 under.

Rose shared the top spot briefly on the final day but couldn’t stay there. He was undone by bogeys on Nos. 12, 13 and 15.

Woodland’s third bogey of the tournament came on the ninth hole Sunday. He gave another stroke back on No. 12.

Even with Koepka lurking, Woodland held it together.

With a birdie on the first hole, Rose pulled even with Woodland as the leaders began the round.

Webb Simpson, with birdies on three of the last six holes, shot the best round of the day at 5 under. That put him at 3 under and tied for 16th.

“Made the eagle on (No.) 6 to start me in the right direction,” Simpson said.

Masters champion Tiger Woods shot 69 for his best round of the tournament. He ended up at 2 under and tied for 21st place.

After four bogeys on the first six holes, he had six birdies the rest of the way.

“I wish I would have known because I would have turned it around a little earlier than that,” Woods said of the reason for the change of fortunes. “Again, got off to another crappy start and was able to fight it off.”

–Field Level Media

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Woods’ movement stalls with third-round 71 at U.S. Open

Woods' movement stalls with third-round 71 at U.S. Open

Woods’ movement stalls with third-round 71 at U.S. Open

Moving day at the U.S. Open didn’t equate to an improvement in Tiger Woods’ fortunes.

His movement was one stroke back, one stroke forward, as he had five birdies and five bogeys in an even-par 71 round on Saturday on a cool day at Pebble Beach.

Woods also is even par through three rounds with a 213 total. He knows that placement doesn’t typically equate to any final-day surge occurring at the prestigious tournament being held on the northern California coast.

“I’ve had my chances to post good rounds — today, this week,” Woods told reporters after Saturday’s round. “Today was a perfect example. I fought back, and if I was able to clean up my rounds the first two days, I would be closer to the lead than I am now.”

Woods felt he needed a strong start on Saturday to try to work himself in the mix. Instead, the opposite happened, as he bogeyed two of the first three holes.

“Those are supposed to be some of the easier holes, and I’m a couple over and had to fight back the entire day, and I was able to clod around a few more, which is pretty good,” Woods said.

Woods seemed to escape his fog — on a day in which low-lying clouds blocked the sun from baking the course — with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5.

But a three-putt bogey on No. 7 pushed him over for the round. Another bogey on No. 12 hurt, but Woods scored birdies on three of the last five holes (14, 16 and 18) though he had another bogey on 15.

What stuck with Woods is he felt the course conditions were more favorable than the first two rounds, yet he didn’t take advantage.

“They were able to get some mowers on the fairways, and they were a little bit quicker,” he said. “I think they did a great job of setting it up so that we can make birdies. And if you do miss them on the wrong spot, then you still can get up and down here, which is not always the case.”

The cool conditions presented another challenge for Woods, who said his body was aching throughout Saturday’s round.

“The forces have to go somewhere,” said Woods, who has undergone four back surgeries. “And if they’re not in the lower back, they’re in the neck, and if not, they’re in the mid-back and if not they go to the knee. You name it. …

“Let me put it this way, I feel every shot I hit. I think that’s always going to be the place from here going forward.”

–Field Level Media

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Woodland leads Rose by one at U.S. Open

Woodland leads Rose by one at U.S. Open

Woodland leads Rose by one at U.S. Open

Gary Woodland maintained the lead through the third round of the U.S. Open, posting a 2-under 69 in Saturday’s third round at Pebble Beach on the shores of northern California.

Woodland is 11-under 202 for the tournament and goes into Sunday’s final round with a one-shot edge on England’s Justin Rose, who registered on 68 on Saturday. Rose closed with a birdie, cutting his deficit in half from when the round began.

Woodland endured only his second bogey of the tournament on the par-4 eighth hole. From there, he had pars the rest of the way other than a birdie on No. 11, his third of the day after two on the front nine.

Rose rolled in a birdie putt from the fringe on the par-5 14th for one of his clutch conversions, bouncing back from a bogey at the 13th. He finished with five birdies against two bogeys on the day.

Woodland and Rose will be in the final pairing for the second day in a row.

Two-time defending champion Brooks Koepka made a move, closing within two shots of the lead at one point. His bogey-free 68 was his best mark of the tournament so far, leaving him at 7 under going into the final round.

Chez Reavie (68) and South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen (70) are level with Koepka in third place.

Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy (70) is alone in sixth at 6 under.

Matt Kuchar (70) looked like he would be a factor after an eagle on the sixth hole and a birdie on the seventh put him 4 under for the round. But he had back-to-back bogeys at Nos. 8 and 9, and again at Nos. 16 and 17 following a birdie at the 15th. He sits at 5 under with Chesson Hadley (70), who bogeyed the final hole.

England’s Danny Willett shot 67 for his lowest round in any U.S. Open, recording the best score of the day.

“You play good golf, there’s a good score out there,” Willett said.

After a pair of 71s, Willett has moved into good shape at 4 under for the week.

“We put ourselves in that position regardless of what the leaders do,” Willett said. “We’re going to be in nice position to go out there (in the final round) and have a decent finish regardless of what the guys at the top do.”

Tiger Woods shot 71 to remain at even for the tournament. He used birdies on Nos. 16 and 18 to save a round that included five bogeys.

“I had to try to fight back and claw out a round today, which I was able to do,” Woods said.

Woods, who is tied for 27th, was still bummed about missed opportunities the first two days, figuring that’s the reason he hasn’t entered the list of contenders.

“If I was able to clean up my rounds the first two days, I would be closer to the lead than I am now,” he said.

–Field Level Media

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Manning pays tribute to late Broncos owner

Manning pays tribute to late Broncos owner

Peyton Manning offered

Manning pays tribute to late Broncos owner

Peyton Manning offered a warm tribute Saturday to longtime Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen, who died this week at age 75 after battling Alzheimer’s disease.

Manning said his respect for Bowlen had “a lot to do” with him joining the Broncos in 2012 after spending his first 13 seasons with the Indianapolis Colts. Manning won a Super Bowl championship with the Broncos in following the 2015 season, which marked his final one in the league.

The Broncos and Bowlen’s family announced that they would host a public tribute for the late owner on Tuesday at Broncos Stadium at Mile High. The tribute will include personal memorabilia along with pictures and a video celebrating his life and contributions, according to the team.

“My deepest sympathies go out to the entire Bowlen family,” Manning said. “I met Mr. Bowlen for the first time when I played for the Indianapolis Colts and I was over in Hawaii at the Pro Bowl when he was also there at his Hawaiian home. I saw him several times throughout the years and had short, brief conversations with him that I really enjoyed. …

“It was an honor to play for Mr. Bowlen’s organization, as I’ve said numerous times. I always had great respect for the Denver Broncos during my time playing for the Colts competing against his organization. So much of that credit goes to Pat Bowlen and his desire to be the best and to win. That had a lot to do with me signing with the Denver Broncos — that I knew Mr. Bowlen was all about winning and I knew the people that he had hired would carry on that tradition and legacy. It was a great decision to come play here — we still live here today. I’m grateful for Mr. Bowlen and the legacy that he’s established with the Broncos, in the NFL and certainly in this Denver community. He will be missed by many. It was an honor to know Mr. Bowlen and a real pleasure to have played for his team — the Denver Broncos.”

–Field Level Media

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Like father, like son: WR Beebe catches on with Vikings

Like father, like son: WR Beebe catches on with Vikings

Like father, like son: WR Beebe catches on with Vikings

Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski remembers when undrafted free agent Chad Beebe showed up for a long-shot audition to make the team.

Beebe had a famous last name, but Stefanski knew little else about the undersized wide receiver from Northern Illinois.

“He showed up last season at rookie minicamp and he really didn’t have a name for himself,” Stefanski told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “He was just Don Beebe’s son.”

Much has changed since then. When the Beebes celebrate Father’s Day this weekend, there will be two NFL receivers in the family, not just the former Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers and Green Bay Packers wideout who caught 219 passes for 3,416 yards and 23 touchdowns over a nine-year career.

With training camp a little more than a month away, Chad Beebe, 25, is the favorite to win a job as the Vikings’ slot receiver, the Pioneer Press reported. Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs are established as one of the league’s best one-two punches at receiver, and Beebe appears to have surpassed Laquon Treadwell on the depth chart.

“He has had probably as good an offseason as any player that I know on our side of the ball,” assistant head coach Gary Kubiak told the newspaper. “He’s got a chance to be a really good player for us. It gives us flexibility to bounce around personnel-wise.”

Beebe caught only four passes for 39 yards in three games last season, which was interrupted by a hamstring injury.

The 5-foot-10, 183-pound receiver said he feels more confident now and is eager to build upon his rookie learning experience.

“Naturally, the nerves were there last season because I was out there trying to make a name for myself,” he said to the newspaper. “Not saying I’m not still trying to do that. It just helps to have some experience under my belt and some playing time. I’m able to take a deep breath every so often and enjoy it and have fun and play the way I know I can.”

Is Beebe focused on winning the No. 3 receiver job this summer?

“Honestly, I don’t even pay attention to it,” he said. “Looking back on it, the way I got here, and the way I stayed here, was going out there and doing the best I can and letting everything else fall into place. That’s what I’m going to continue to do.”

–Field Level Media

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