Lions waive TE Roberts after trade called off

Lions waive TE Roberts after trade called off

Just a day after the New England Patriots announced they acquired tight end Michael Roberts from the Detroit Lions, the trade is off.

The Lions tweeted Friday afternoon that Roberts “reverted back to the team’s roster, per trade conditions” and subsequently was released.

No reason was given for the nullification of the trade, which would have sent a seventh-round draft pick to Detroit.

Roberts, entering his third season, was a fourth-round pick out of Toledo in 2017. The 25-year-old has 13 receptions and three touchdowns in 23 career games.

New England has been searching to bolster its tight end group since the retirement of Rob Gronkowski earlier this year.

–Field Level Media

Reports: NFL-NFLPA meetings cut short two days

Reports: NFL-NFLPA meetings cut short two days

Reports: NFL-NFLPA meetings cut short two days

A scheduled three-day bargaining session between the NFL and the NFLPA ended after one day, according to multiple reports on Wednesday.

The sides released a joint statement on Wednesday afternoon, saying, “Today’s meeting was productive, constructive and beneficial for both sides, and the meetings between the NFLPA’s Executive Committee and the NFL’s Management Council Executive Committee will continue.”

Multiple media outlets reported the sides will reconvene on July 29, rather than continuing with scheduled meetings Thursday and Friday.

ESPN reported the sessions ended early because information emerged that needed to be discussed further with other owners, quoting a source saying, “big topics are tabled (for now). There is definitely a lot of work to be done.”

The current collective bargaining agreement expires after the 2020 season, but sentiment around the league is that the NFL would like to reach agreement on an extension before the 2019 regular season begins in September.

–Field Level Media

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McIlroy: Open’s return to Northern Ireland ‘bigger than me’

McIlroy: Open's return to Northern Ireland 'bigger than me'

McIlroy: Open’s return to Northern Ireland ‘bigger than me’

Despite competing on home soil in Northern Ireland, Rory McIroy said there’s no added pressure to win this week’s Open Championship at Royal Portrush.

“I’m just treating this like any other Open Championship,” he said Wednesday, per SkySports.com. “I’ve played well here for the last few years, and I’ve played well on this golf course. So I’ve just got to go out and hit the shots and stay in the present. If I just keep putting one foot in front of the other, hopefully by Sunday night, that will be good enough.”

As the 30-year-old betting favorite prepared to try to snap his five-year major drought, he said the return of the tournament to Royal Portrush for the first time since 1951 is “bigger than me.”

“This is a wonderful thing for this country and golf in general, and to be quite a big part of it is an honor and a privilege,” McIlroy said. “And I want to keep reminding myself of that, that this is bigger than me, right? This is bigger than me.

“If you can look at the bigger picture and you can see that, it sort of takes a little bit of the pressure off. I still want to play well and concentrate and do all the right things, but at the same time just having that perspective might just make me relax a little bit more.

“So I think no matter what happens this week, if I win or whoever else wins, having The Open back in this country is a massive thing for golf. And I think as well it will be a massive thing for the country.”

McIlroy set the course record at Royal Portrush with a 61 when he was only 16 years old.

McIlroy won his fourth and most recent major at the 2014 PGA Championship, the same year he won his only Open title at Royal Liverpool.

The world No. 3 begins his quest for the Claret Jug on Thursday, when he is paired with U.S. Open winner Gary Woodland and England’s Paul Casey.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Broncos QB Lock agrees to terms

Report: Broncos QB Lock agrees to terms

Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Drew Lock

Report: Broncos QB Lock agrees to terms

Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Drew Lock will not hold out of any training camp practices after he agreed to terms on his rookie contract Wednesday, Pro Football Talk reported.

A report Tuesday from 9News.com said negotiations between the sides had stalled, as Lock sought a “quarterback premium” — with additional guarantees or workout bonuses — to be paid more than fellow second-round rookie Dalton Risner, a guard taken by Denver one pick before Lock in April’s draft.

Risner, picked 41st, signed his rookie deal later Tuesday, worth $7.14 million over four years with a $3.2 million signing bonus. Based on the No. 42 draft slot, Lock’s deal is expected to be around $7 million over four years with a $3.1 million signing bonus.

Lock missed initial medical meetings as the team reported to camp on Wednesday, but the Missouri product agreed in time to practice when on-field work begins Thursday.

Once considered a possible top-10 pick, Lock will begin camp competing with Kevin Hogan for the backup job behind Joe Flacco.

–Field Level Media

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Falcons sign LB Jones to four-year, $57M extension

Falcons sign LB Jones to four-year, $57M extension

The Atlanta Falcons signed linebacker Deion Jones

Falcons sign LB Jones to four-year, $57M extension

The Atlanta Falcons signed linebacker Deion Jones to a four-year extension on Wednesday, putting him under contract through 2023.

Jones’ agent, Drew Rosenhaus, told multiple media outlets the extension is worth $57 million with $34 million guaranteed. According to The MMQB, it includes an $11 million signing bonus, $13.45 million paid in 2019 and $35.5 million over the first three years. The $34 million in guarantees includes injury, with $25.8 million guaranteed in full.

The annual average of $14.25 million makes Jones the second-highest-paid off-ball linebacker in the NFL, behind only the Jets’ C.J. Mosley ($17 million). His guaranteed money also trails only Mosley ($51 million) at the position.

Jones, 24, was set to enter the final year of his rookie deal. A second-round pick out of LSU in 2016, he had 244 tackles (14 for loss), six interceptions and 21 pass breakups in 31 games (29 starts) through two seasons, earning Pro Bowl honors in 2017.

Last season, Jones was limited to six games after sustaining a foot injury in Week 1, going on injured reserve before returning late in the season. He finished with 53 tackles (one for loss), two picks and six pass breakups.

Jones’ rookie contract was worth $4.5 million over four years. He was set to make $1.1 million in 2019.

–Field Level Media

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Atlanta Falcons training camp primer

Atlanta Falcons training camp primer

New faces: G James Carpenter, G Jamon Brown, G Chris Lindstrom, DE

Atlanta Falcons training camp primer

New faces: G James Carpenter, G Jamon Brown, G Chris Lindstrom, DE Adrian Clayborn, OT Kaleb McGary, TE Luke Stocker, S J.J. Wilcox

They’re gone: RB Tevin Coleman, OT Ryan Schraeder, CB Robert Alford, K Matt Bryant, DE Bruce Irvin, CB Brian Poole, LB Brooks Reed, DT Terrell McClain, CB Justin Bethel

2019 snapshot: The Falcons went into the offseason with plans to overhaul two key areas: the coaching staff and the offensive line. They fired coordinators Steve Sarkisian (offense), Marquand Manuel (defense) and Keith Armstrong (special teams), bringing back former O-coordinator Dirk Koetter, turning the defense over to head coach Dan Quinn and hiring Ben Kotwica to run special teams. Koetter’s success with QB Matt Ryan from 2012-14 is encouraging, and Quinn could whip the defense into shape, but that’s a lot of turnover to manage.

Atlanta then threw major resources up front, signing Brown and Carpenter to multi-year deals and adding Lindstrom in the first round to provide three possible starting options at guard. At right tackle, the Falcons released Schraeder, extended Ty Sambrailo (three years, $14.3 million) and traded back into the first round for McGary. Altogether, the rash of moves felt too aggressive, and now the pressure is on for the unit to perform.

On defense, the pressure is on key pieces Keanu Neal, Deion Jones and Ricardo Allen to get and stay healthy, as few players were added other than Clayborn. Alford and Reed were released, and it was surprising to see Poole — an undrafted rookie who ascended to a starting role — untendered as a restricted free agent. With franchise-tagged DT Grady Jarrett still in need of a long-term deal, Quinn’s defense has several questions still unanswered.

Worth the investment?

–At 8.5, the over/under win total for the Falcons is enticing. Matt Ryan is 34 but he’s surrounded by great weapons. If Atlanta avoids the injury epidemic that hit last season, the Falcons are capable of getting to 10 wins.

–Ryan is 10th in MVP odds at FanDuel, and his prolific passing numbers give supporters all the reason they need to go that route. But the +2600 is not a pure value when you consider some of the potential for quarterbacks behind Ryan to climb these ranks in-season.

Bottom line: The O-line should be fixed, but the coaching changes might not solve everything. More depth on defense would have helped.

–Field Level Media

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Sanders, Lindsay ready for start of Broncos camp

Sanders, Lindsay ready for start of Broncos camp

Running back Phillip Lindsay

Sanders, Lindsay ready for start of Broncos camp

Running back Phillip Lindsay and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders will practice with the Denver Broncos when training camp opens Thursday.

Head coach Vic Fangio said Wednesday that Lindsay is “ready to go” following offseason wrist surgery.

General manager John Elway said Sanders will be eased into action after tearing his Achilles last season, but he will not be placed on the physically unable to perform list.

Lindsay, who turns 25 next week, made the Pro Bowl and rushed for 1,037 yards and nine touchdowns as an undrafted rookie in 2018.

Sanders, 32, had 71 catches for 868 yards and four scores in 12 games before suffering the season-ending injury in practice in early December.

The two-time Pro Bowl wideout has posted three 1,000-yard seasons and has 535 receptions for 7,024 yards and 37 touchdowns in 127 games with the Pittsburgh Steelers (2010-13) and Broncos.

–Field Level Media

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Denver Broncos training camp primer

Denver Broncos training camp primer

The Denver Broncos are the first team

Denver Broncos training camp primer

The Denver Broncos are the first team to report to training camp in 2019, with an abundance of newcomers checking in at the team’s Englewood headquarters Wednesday.

New faces: QB Joe Flacco, OT Ja’Wuan James, DB Kareem Jackson, CB Bryce Callahan, TE Noah Fant, G Dalton Risner, QB Drew Lock, DT Dre’Mont Jones, OLB Dekoda Watson

They’re gone: C Matt Paradis, CB Bradley Roby, OL Billy Turner, OLB Shaquil Barrett, OLB Shane Ray, LB Brandon Marshall, S Darian Stewart, OT Jared Veldheer, DT Domata Peko, TE Matt LaCosse, G Max Garcia, CB Tramaine Brock

2019 snapshot: Firing Vance Joseph meant admitting an error from two years ago, but the Broncos appear to have upgraded the staff. Not only did they get defensive whiz Vic Fangio — whom players raved about during offseason practices — but Fangio nabbed Kyle Shanahan pupil Rich Scangarello to run the offense and pried decorated O-line coach Mike Munchak from the Steelers. Still, GM John Elway’s approach felt a bit too aggressive in other areas.

He traded a fourth-round pick for Joe Flacco, whom the Ravens might have otherwise cut, and spent wildly on James (four years, $51 million) and Jackson (three years, $33 million), who might mostly play safety.

Jackson’s contract fueled a contract dispute with CB Chris Harris Jr. that required a $3 million raise to resolve. Callahan’s (three years, $21 million) was a more palatable deal, and Fangio should have what he needs in the secondary, but would the money have been better spent on Paradis and the O-line?

Elway used a few trades to assemble a strong draft class, getting early-impact players in Fant and Risner and still landing a possible answer at QB in Lock, but he might have been better off trading for Josh Rosen or drafting Dwayne Haskins. The third QB taken by Elway in the top two rounds, Lock must perform if Flacco struggles.

Worth the investment?

–Denver has an over/under win line of seven. In this AFC West, even getting to .500 is not a sure thing for this crew.

–More than 50 players have better odds than quarterback Joe Flacco (+15000) to win the 2019 NFL MVP award. Take those odds only if you are looking for a lotto ticket’s chance in the MVP field.

Bottom Line: Denver could be improved on the coaching staff, at QB and in the secondary, but Elway might have to accept a rebuild at some point.

–Field Level Media

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Reports: Cardinals’ Harrison facing assault charges

Reports: Cardinals' Harrison facing assault charges

Police in

Reports: Cardinals’ Harrison facing assault charges

Police in North Carolina issued a felony arrest warrant Wednesday for Arizona Cardinals tackle Desmond Harrison on charges of assault by strangulation and assault on a female, multiple outlets reported.

Greensboro police said a report was filed Tuesday against the 25-year-old offensive lineman, who was signed off waivers by Arizona last month after being released by the Cleveland Browns.

Harrison, who played high school football in North Carolina, started eight games as a Cleveland rookie in 2018 after going undrafted.

Harrison finished his collegiate career at West Georgia after reportedly being suspended three times in one year at the University of Texas.

Bleacher Report first reported on the felony warrant being issued, and the story was later confirmed by Yahoo! Sports.

–Field Level Media

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Ex-Bucs DE Ayers announces retirement

Ex-Bucs DE Ayers announces retirement

Veteran defensive end Robert Ayers announced his retirement on Tuesday,

Ex-Bucs DE Ayers announces retirement

Veteran defensive end Robert Ayers announced his retirement on Tuesday, ending a nine-year NFL career.

Ayers, a 33-year-old who last played with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2017, announced the decision on Facebook, also posting a highlight video from his college and pro career.

A first-round pick (18th overall) out of Tennessee by the Denver Broncos in 2009, Ayers underwhelmed in Denver with 12 sacks and 37 QB hits over five seasons, starting 27 of 72 games.

He then joined the New York Giants in 2014 and impressed with 14 sacks and 36 QB hits in 24 games over two seasons, including career highs of nine and 22, respectively, in 2015. With the Bucs, he had 6.5 sacks and 19 hits in 2016 before slipping to two and 16, respectively, in his final season.

Ayers finishes his career with 34.5 sacks in 120 career games (59 starts).

–Field Level Media

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Rose: New majors schedule is ‘too condensed’

Rose: New majors schedule is 'too condensed'

Rose: New majors schedule is ‘too condensed’

Britain’s Justin Rose criticized professional golf’s new tighter schedule for its four major tournaments, saying the timeline makes too many concessions to the FedEx Cup playoffs.

“It’s too condensed,” Rose told reporters Tuesday about playing the four majors from April (the Masters) to July (the Open Championship this week). “I also think it’s pretty much driven by the FedEx Cup, wanting to finish on a certain date, everything else having to fit in where it can.

“For me, a major championship should be the things that are protected the most. That’s how all of our careers ultimately are going to be measured. Thirty or 40 years ago, there wasn’t a FedEx Cup, so if you’re trying to compare one career to another career, Jack (Nicklaus) versus Tiger (Woods), it’s the majors that are the benchmarks. For them to be tweaked so much I think is quite interesting at this point.”

The big change this year was moving the PGA Championship from August to May, slotting in between the Masters and the U.S. Open in June.

Last year, the FedEx Cup playoffs were held from Aug. 23 to Sept. 23. This year, the playoffs have been pared from four tournament to three and will wrap up Aug. 25, meaning the conclusion to the PGA Tour season no longer has to compete for attention with the NFL regular season.

Rose, who tied for third at the U.S. Open, said he didn’t play in any subsequent events before this week’s final major because of the condensed schedule.

“As a professional in terms of trying to peak for something, the process that’s involved in trying to do that can be detailed and it can be longer than a month,” he said. “I think we’re all trying to adapt. It’s about trying to peak, valley and peak again in such a short period of time. This is unchartered territory for me to take time off between majors.”

–Field Level Media

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Vikings RB Thomas suspended three games

Vikings RB Thomas suspended three games

The NFL suspended Minnesota Vikings running back

Vikings RB Thomas suspended three games

The NFL suspended Minnesota Vikings running back Roc Thomas for three games on Tuesday for violating its policy on substance abuse.

Thomas pled guilty to a fifth-degree marijuana charge — a felony — in May, stemming from a January arrest after police found more than 143 grams of marijuana at his apartment. He received three years of probation as part of the plea deal.

Thomas will miss games vs. Atlanta, at Green Bay and vs. Oakland before being eligible to rejoin the team ahead of Week 4’s game at Chicago.

The 23-year-old played in five games as an undrafted rookie in 2018, rushing for 30 yards on eight carries and catching two passes for 21 yards. Of his 88 snaps, 59 came on special teams.

–Field Level Media

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Broncos WR Sanders limited to start camp

Broncos WR Sanders limited to start camp

Broncos WR Sanders limited to start camp

Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders said Tuesday he will be limited when the team opens training camp later this week, as he continues to recover from a torn Achilles sustained last December.

“We’re going to take our time,” Sanders told reporters. “I don’t even know if I’ll do the conditioning test (Wednesday). As far as practice, I’m definitely not going to be going full-go from the jump.”

Sanders did not say if he’ll open camp on the physically unable to perform list, but his goal remains to be healthy for Week 1, which he deemed a “realistic” timeline earlier this month.

Players report to camp on Wednesday, with practices beginning Thursday.

Sanders, 32, tore his Achilles in practice after 12 games last season, finishing with 71 catches for 868 yards and four scores. He has 118 catches for 1,423 yards and six scores over the last two seasons, after topping 75 catches, 1,000 yards and five scores in each of the previous three seasons and earning two Pro Bowl nods.

The 10th-year veteran is entering his sixth season in Denver and the final year of his contract, in which he’s due $10.25 million.

–Field Level Media

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NFL notebook: Steelers’ Conner reflects on cancer diagnosis

NFL notebook: Steelers' Conner reflects on cancer diagnosis

Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner revealed

NFL notebook: Steelers’ Conner reflects on cancer diagnosis

Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner revealed he was told he was close to death when diagnosed with cancer as a student at Pitt in 2015.

Speaking recently on the “Ya Neva Know: you know what I mean?” podcast hosted by former Duke pitcher Mike Seander — better known as hip-hop artist Mike Stud — Conner said he sought medical attention when he was having trouble sleeping as he recovered from a torn MCL in his junior season.

“I’m rehabbing for that, trying to make a comeback before the season ends,” Conner, 24, said. “And then I’m rehabbing and (stuff and I get) night sweats, bro. I’m getting like 15 minutes of sleep at night, going through it. Sleep, who (doesn’t) love sleep? That’s the worst (stuff) in the world. … And so I get some tests done, and I got tumors surrounding my heart … I got tumors growing all around it, and it’s pressing.”

Doctors diagnosed Conner with stage 2 Hodgkin’s lymphoma and found tumors in his neck and chest.

“The doctor told me I had a week left,” Conner said. “He said, ‘You got about a week. If you (don’t) get this treated, you (have) about a week at the rate it’s growing.'”

–A contract staredown could become a stalemate between the Denver Broncos and second-round quarterback Drew Lock.

The Missouri product reportedly insisted through his agent on being paid a “quarterback premium” and getting a higher-value contract than left guard Dalton Risner, who was the 41st pick by Denver, one slot ahead of Lock.

9News.com’s Mike Klis reported that negotiations had stalled, and a holdout from one or both second-rounders could be in the offing. Klis added that Lock is pushing for additional guarantees or larger workout bonuses. Later Tuesday, Risner agreed to terms on his contract, leaving Lock as the only possible holdout.

–Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders said he will be limited when the team opens training camp later this week, as he continues to recover from a torn Achilles sustained last December.

“We’re going to take our time,” Sanders told reporters. “I don’t even know if I’ll do the conditioning test (Wednesday). As far as practice, I’m definitely not going to be going full-go from the jump.”

Sanders did not say if he’ll open camp on the physically unable to perform list, but his goal remains to be healthy for Week 1, which he deemed a “realistic” timeline earlier this month.

–Veteran defensive end Robert Ayers announced his retirement on Tuesday, ending a nine-year NFL career.

Ayers, a 33-year-old who last played with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2017, announced the decision on Facebook, also posting a highlight video from his college and pro careers.

Ayers finishes his NFL career with 34.5 sacks in 120 career games (59 starts), including a career-high nine sacks in 2015 with the New York Giants.

–The NFL suspended Minnesota Vikings running back Roc Thomas for three games for violating its policy on substance abuse.

Thomas pled guilty to a fifth-degree marijuana charge — a felony — in May, stemming from a January arrest after police found more than 143 grams of marijuana at his apartment. He received three years of probation as part of the plea deal.

Thomas will miss games vs. Atlanta, at Green Bay and vs. Oakland before being eligible to rejoin the team ahead of Week 4’s game at Chicago.

–Former Philadelphia Eagles safety and special teams ace Chris Maragos announced his retirement after eight NFL seasons, as he underwent his third knee surgery since 2017.

The 32-year-old tore his ACL during the 2017 season and hasn’t played since, spending all of last season on the PUP list before being released by the Eagles in February. He announced on Twitter he was having his third surgery on the knee Tuesday.

An undrafted product out of Wisconsin, Maragos played in 99 games (three starts) for San Francisco, Seattle and Philadelphia, spending his last four seasons with the Eagles. Over his last six seasons, 80.9 percent of his snaps came on special teams.

–Field Level Media

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Report: ‘Pawn Stars’ helped May recover Super Bowl rings

Report: 'Pawn Stars' helped May recover Super Bowl rings

Report: ‘Pawn Stars’ helped May recover Super Bowl rings

Former NFL offensive lineman Mark May will recover his two Super Bowl rings after a hotel employee was arrested trying to sell them at the shop featured on cable’s “Pawn Stars.”

May last wore the rings at a charity event in Scottsdale, Ariz., in February, when he stayed at a Phoenix hotel. After they were reported to be missing, the hotel’s lead engineer, 43-year-old Marcel Behnert, later took the rings to the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas, according to a story from ABC15 in Phoenix.

The shop, which uses a sports memorabilia collector named Diamond Don, called May about the potential transaction on May 2, and the shop alerted Mesa police a day later.

Mesa police said Behnert was asking to sell the rings — engraved with May’s name and his jersey number from title teams with the Washington Redskins in the 1982 and 1987 seasons — for a combined $12,000.

“When someone comes in like that, they smell a rat if you don’t have a receipt or if you don’t have a story or proof of ownership,” May told ABC15. “Once (the pawn shop owners) smelled a rat, they turned it over to Diamond Don, and he’s like, ‘No, I know Mark May. I know that he’s not pawning his rings to give them to some guy.’

“The bottom line of the story is the integrity of the guys on Pawn Stars for what they do and their due diligence. When you watch their show, they say, ‘If you don’t have proof, we don’t want it.'”

Authorities in Mesa and Las Vegas worked with the shop to get Behnert to return to the store, where he was arrested by undercover officers, charged with theft and trafficking in stolen property. Police said watches belonging to May were also found in a safe in Behnert’s home, according to ABC15.

May, a former ESPN analyst who lives in the Phoenix area, told the TV station that he will reclaim his rings from the Las Vegas police next week.

“I thought they were gone forever,” May said. “I attribute (their recovery) to probably four or five things. One is luck. I’m lucky to get them back. Two, good police work by the Las Vegas Police Department. Three, the integrity of the Pawn Star guys and Diamond Don.

“And four, probably greed and stupidity by the guy who was trying to sell them — one, to a pawn shop, because nationwide, they’re all connected when something like that comes up. And two, to do it on television when they tell you point blank: If you don’t have a receipt or you don’t have a proof of ownership, and it’s something that’s high-priced, we’re not interested.”

–Field Level Media

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Golf Glance: McIlroy seeks major glory in native land

Golf Glance: McIlroy seeks major glory in native land

Golf Glance: McIlroy seeks major glory in native land

Field Level Media’s Golf Glance provides weekly news and storylines from each of the major North American golf tours.

PGA TOUR

LAST TOURNAMENT: John Deere Classic (Dylan Frittelli)

THIS WEEK: The Open Championship, July 18-21

Royal Portrush – Dunluce Links, Portrush, Northern Ireland (Par 71, 7,344 yards)

Purse: $10.75 million (Winner: $1.935 million)

Defending champion: Francesco Molinari

FedEx Cup leader: Matt Kuchar

Television: Thursday-Friday: 1:30 a.m.-4 p.m. ET (Golf Channel); Saturday: 5-7 a.m. (GC), 7 a.m.-3 p.m. (NBC); Sunday: 4-7 a.m. (GC), 7 a.m.-2 p.m. (NBC).

NOTES: The field includes three Northern Ireland natives: Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke. McIlroy (32 under) holds the lowest score in relation to par at The Open since 2014. … Royal Portrush has hosted only one previous Open (won by Max Faulkner in 1951). … Americans have won the first three majors of 2019. They have not won all four in a year since 1982. … Gary Woodland attempts to become the first player to win the U.S. Open and The Open in the same year since Tiger Woods in 2000. … Woods is competing for the first time since last month’s U.S. Open. He is one win shy of tying Sam Snead’s record of 82 career PGA Tour titles and is three majors shy of Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18. … No. 1 Brooks Koepka is attempting to become just the fourth player to win at least five majors before turning 30 (Nicklaus, Woods, Bobby Jones). He can also become the first player under 30 to finish first or second in all four majors in a single year. Koepka’s caddie, Ricky Elliott, grew up in Portrush. … Molinari seeks to become just the seventh player to successfully defend an Open title since World War II. … Twenty of the past 21 major champions entered the week ranked within the top 25 in the world.

BEST BETS: McIlroy (+900 on PointsBet) set a course record with a 61 at Royal Portrush in the 2005 North of Ireland Amateur, at age 16. He has geared his entire 2019 schedule around winning a major in his native country and has four consecutive top-five finishes in The Open. … Jon Rahm (+1400) is coming off a victory two weeks ago as he seeks his first career major title. … Xander Schauffele (+2500) finished T2 last year and has four top-5s and a T6 in 10 career starts in majors. … McDowell (+8000) is the only Portrush native in the field. On a course very unfamiliar to most players in the field, McDowell estimates he has played it “300 to 500 times.”

THIS WEEK: Barbasol Championship, July 18-21

Keene Trace GC – Champions, Lexington, Ky. (Par 72, 7,328 yards)

Purse: $3.5 million (Winner: $630,000 – based on 2018)

Defending champion: Troy Merritt

Television: Thursday-Friday, 5-8 p.m. (Golf Channel). Saturday, 4-6 p.m. (GC). Sunday, 4-7 p.m. (GC).

NOTES: Former major champions Jason Dufner and John Daly are in the field. Daly withdrew from The Open after being denied the use of a power cart. … 2011 FedEx Cup champion Bill Haas is in the event for the first time. … Kentucky native Kenny Perry, 58, makes his seventh Tour start of 2019. … The event is in its second year at Keene Trace, with the Champions course one of only two on Tour that end in a par 3.

NEXT WEEK: WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, Memphis, Tenn.

LPGA TOUR

LAST TOURNAMENT: Marathon Classic (Sei Young Kim)

THIS WEEK: Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational, July 17-20

Midland Country Club, Midland, Mich. (Par 71, 6,561 yards)

Purse: $2 million

Defending champion: Inaugural event

CME Race to the Globe leader: Jin Young Ko

Television: Wednesday: 4-6 p.m. ET; Thursday-Friday: 8-10 p.m. (tape delay); Saturday: 6-8 p.m. (All times Golf Channel)

NOTES: This is the first official team event in the history of the LPGA Tour. The field will include 71 two-player teams competing in foursomes and four-ball formats, including two pairs of sisters: Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn and Jessica and Nelly Korda. The first and third rounds will be foursomes (alternate shot) with the second and final rounds being four-ball (best ball) format. The field will be cut to the top 35 teams and ties following the second round. … Suzann Pettersen makes her return to competition following the birth of her first child last August. The 2019 Solheim Cup vice-captain is paired with captain Catriona Matthew.

NEXT TOURNAMENT: The Evian Championship, Evian-les-Bains, France

CHAMPIONS TOUR

LAST TOURNAMENT: Senior Players Championship (Retief Goosen)

THIS WEEK: OFF.

NEXT TOURNAMENT: The Senior Open, Lytham & St. Annes, Lancashire, England, July 25-28.

–Field Level Media

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Steelers RB Conner: Doctors gave me ‘about a week’ to live in ’15

Steelers RB Conner: Doctors gave me 'about a week' to live in '15

Pittsburgh Steelers

Steelers RB Conner: Doctors gave me ‘about a week’ to live in ’15

Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner revealed he was told he was close to death when diagnosed with cancer as a student at Pitt in 2015.

Speaking recently on the “Ya Neva Know: you know what I mean?” podcast hosted by former Duke pitcher Mike Seander – better known as hip-hop artist Mike Stud – Conner said he sought medical attention when he was having trouble sleeping as he recovered from a torn MCL in his junior season.

“I’m rehabbing for that, trying to make a comeback before the season ends,” Conner, 24, said. “And then I’m rehabbing and [stuff and I get] night sweats, bro. I’m getting like 15 minutes of sleep at night, going through it. Sleep, who [doesn’t] love sleep? That’s the worst [stuff] in the world … And so I get some tests done, and I got tumors surrounding my heart … I got tumors growing all around it, and it’s pressing.”

Doctors diagnosed Conner with stage 2 Hodgkin’s lymphoma and found tumors in his neck and chest.

“The doctor told me I had a week left,” Conner said. “He said, ‘You got about a week. If you [don’t] get this treated, you [have] about a week at the rate it’s growing.'”

After sending cancer into remission and rehabbing his knee, Conner returned to the Panthers in 2016, gaining 1,394 all-purpose yards and scoring 20 touchdowns.

The Steelers selected Conner in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft. After carrying the ball just 32 times as a rookie, he enjoyed a breakout season in 2018, taking over for holdout Le’Veon Bell.

In 2018, Conner had 973 rushing yards and added 497 receiving yards and 13 scores. He was selected to the Pro Bowl.

–Field Level Media

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Reports: NFLPA filing grievance vs. Texans on Clowney’s behalf

Reports: NFLPA filing grievance vs. Texans on Clowney's behalf

Jadeveon

Reports: NFLPA filing grievance vs. Texans on Clowney’s behalf

Jadeveon Clowney is a defensive end based on snap counts from the 2018 season, but the Houston Texans used the franchise tag designation for an outside linebacker — a savings to the team of about $1.7 million in 2019 salary.

That’s why the NFLPA plans to file a grievance on Clowney’s behalf, according to multiple reports.

Clowney, 26, was given the franchise tag to keep him from free agency before the March deadline. The team entered an outside linebacker designation, which carries a one-year tender value of $15.43 million. Clowney will play at a rate of $15.9 million for next season based on the required increase over his 2018 salary.

A franchised defensive end carries a $17.128 million tag.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, Clowney played 729 snaps at defensive end in 2018. He played more at defensive tackle (101) than outside linebacker (33).

The Baltimore Ravens and Terrell Suggs, listed as a defensive end and outside linebacker, encountered a similar situation in 2008 over a difference of about $800,000.

–Field Level Media

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Free agent RB Collins undergoes leg surgery

Free agent RB Collins undergoes leg surgery

Free agent RB Collins undergoes leg surgery

Free agent running back Alex Collns is recovering from surgery for a broken leg, delaying his opportunity to catch on with a team before the start of the NFL season.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said the injury took place about two weeks ago but it’s unknown how the injury occurred. In an Instagram post on Monday night, Collins said he isn’t giving up on resuming his NFL career.

“I refuse to be discouraged,” wrote Collins, who most recently played for the Baltimore Ravens. “Instead, I have faith and am optimistic about the process. I believe that all that has happened is making me physically and emotionally stronger, and is necessary for me to succeed in life.”

Seattle drafted Collins in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL Draft, and he appeared in 11 games for the Seahawks that year, carrying the ball 31 times.

He joined the Ravens a year later, leading the team in rushing yards (973) and yards from scrimmage (1,160). He shared the duties with Gus Edwards and Kenneth Dixon in 2018, and scored eight touchdowns and gained 411 rushing yards before ending the season on injured reserve with a foot injury.

The Ravens waived Collins in March after he was arrested following a car accident near the team’s headquarters. He was charged with possession of more than 10 grams of marijuana, intent to distribute marijuana and possession of a handgun in a vehicle.

Rapoport reported that with Collins’ legal case close to settled, teams had expressed interest and he was expected to play in 2019.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Broncos in stalemate with second-round QB Lock

Report: Broncos in stalemate with second-round QB Lock

Contract staredown could become

Report: Broncos in stalemate with second-round QB Lock

Contract staredown could become stalemate between the Denver Broncos and second-round quarterback Drew Lock.

The Missouri product reportedly insisted through his agent on being paid a “quarterback premium” and getting a higher-value contract than left guard Dalton Risner, who was the 41st pick by Denver, one slot ahead of Lock.

According to 9News.com’s Mike Klis, negotiations stalled and a holdout from one or both second-rounders could be in the offing.

Risner has not signed as his agent resists having a player on the same roster, taken one spot later in the draft, take home more money or a greater guarantees.

Both are due to report Wednesday with the first on-field workout scheduled for Thursday.

The NFL slotting system dictates the outlay of money for all players in any slot in the draft. Based on that system, Risner would get a four-year contract worth $7.1 million, including a signing bonus of $3.214 million.

Lock would get a four-year deal worth $7 million and a $3.119 million bonus.

–Field Level Media

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Koepka enters Open Championship with local ace on the bag

Koepka enters Open Championship with local ace on the bag

Koepka enters Open Championship with local ace on the bag

Brooks Koepka admits he’s looking for inside information and insight from his locally grown caddie, longtime bagman Ricky Elliott, at The Open Championship this week.

Two practice rounds into his stay at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland, site of The Open, Koepka realized much of the gallery wasn’t stalking the No. 1-ranked player in golf.

“I probably hear more, ‘Ricky! Hey, Ricky, what’s going on?’ than anything,” Koepka said of Elliott’s popularity in Portrush. “I’m sure he’ll have quite a bit of friends and family out. It will be a special week for him, for sure.”

Elliott is Koepka’s full-time caddie and has been since the 2013 PGA Championship. But he grew up in Northern Ireland, has a low round of 65 on the course to his credit and said he can’t even count the number of rounds he’s walked on the grounds.

“Luckily my caddie has played this golf course I can’t tell you how many times, so that’s a big advantage,” Koepka said. “Every hole I just step up on, ‘You tell me what to do, you’ve played it more than anybody.’ So just let him figure it out.”

Koepka, who has four major victories and has finished first or second in the first three majors of the 2019 season, is the favorite to win in the minds of many players taking part in the event. Koepka is scheduled to hit his first tee shot at 1:04 p.m. (8:04 a.m. ET) on Thursday, paired with 2010 champion Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa and Shubhankar Sharma of India.

Between now and then, a number of players have been angling for Elliott’s time. And Koepka’s.

That includes three-time Open Championship winner Tiger Woods, who said Koepka is ghosting him. Woods admitted he was aware of Elliott’s edge at Portrush, which is hosting the event for the first time since 1951.

“I’ll tell you a funny story. I texted Brooks congratulations on another great finish,” Woods began. “What he’s done in the last four major championships has been unbelievable. He’s been so consistent, so solid. He’s been in contention to win each and every major championship. So I said, ‘Hey dude, do you mind if I tag along and play a practice round?’ I’ve heard nothing.”

Woods laughed off the story, but Koepka is a steely eyed competitor. There are secrets everywhere on the links at Portrush, and Elliott knows most of them. Even so, he said he’s still measuring the difference between his own shot lines and those he’ll experience this week on Koepka’s bag.

“Brooks hits the ball a lot different than the lines I hit it on,” Elliott said. “I’ll have to work with the yardage book a little bit.”

Koepka, who spent Friday at Elliott’s childhood home with their families, wants nothing more than to hand Elliott the Claret Jug on Sunday afternoon, then celebrate a major title together with Elliott at the renowned Harbour Bar.

“There would be nothing cooler. Put it this way, I don’t think when he grew up that he ever thought there would be an Open Championship here. And to top it off, I don’t think he ever thought he’d be a part of it,” Koepka said. “To be caddying and to be able to win one here … he’d be a legend, wouldn’t he? He already is.”

–Field Level Media

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