Jerry Richardson to make one last appearance as owner today

Panthers owner-for-a-few-more-hours Jerry Richardson is expected to make an appearance today.

Disgraced by recent allegations of workplace misconduct, Richardson hasn’t been spotted during the sale of his team to David Tepper, but he’s kept a low profile in recent years anyway.

Losing that power struggle to a new guard of owners was part of the reason, along with his health, that he backed away from most league business in recent years. He stepped aside from all his committee assignments, and only showed up at the May meeting in 2016 because it was in Charlotte, as he had skipped league business for most of the last five years.

Richardson had a heart transplant in February 2009. He’s about to pocket $2.2 billion in cash as part of Tepper’s bid. At some point after that, the league will likely wrap up its investigation into the activity that triggered the sale, which included allegations of sexual and racial harassment.

Bottom line: Philadelphia will have a less comfortable cushion, but it should finish ahead of Dallas in the NFC East again. The Eagles have not lost too much key personnel, and their coaching and experience remains strong to combat the raised stakes. They’ll be in the fight for a No. 1 seed in a top-heavy conference. Record prediction: 11-5

Herndon had 40 catches for 477 yards and four touchdowns in 11 games at the University of Miami last season. He hurt his MCL in the final game of the season and the team said after the draft that they expected him to be limited in offseason work, but he was able to do some drills at rookie minicamp.

The Jets did not re-sign Austin Seferian-Jenkins after he hit free agency, leaving them without their top tight end from last season. Herndon, Jordan Leggett, Clive Walford, Eric Tomlinson and Neal Sterling make up the contenders for playing time this year.ravens_088

Cowboys’ David Irving won’t face domestic violence charges

The domestic violence investigation involving Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman David Irving has been closed, a spokesperson for the Frisco, Texas, police confirmed to USA TODAY Sports on Thursday.

Irving had been investigated on suspicion of assault causing bodily injury, unlawful restraint and assault by choking or impeding breath after an initial report from his girlfriend. She later recanted those claims from an alleged incident April 21.

The case has been concluded, Frisco police spokesperson Radd Rotello said. There’s no further information at this time.

One of the officers noted in a report that the girlfriend said no abuse occurred.

Running back Doug Martin has had an up-and-down NFL career. The 2012 first-round pick has a pair of Pro Bowls to his name and rushed for more than 1,400 yards in both 2012 and 2015. However, he has also dealt with a PED suspension and averaged just 2.9 yards per carry in each of the last two seasons.

Still, Martin is just 29 years old and three years removed from a Pro Bowl campaign. In the right situation, he may recapture some of that former magic. The Oakland Raiders gave Martin a one-year, $1.475 million deal in hopes that situation could be in the Bay Area.

The win let the Red Sox avoid a three-game series sweep and pulled Boston back into a tie with New York atop the AL East Standings at 26-1

While it’s still just the middle of May, Thursday’s win let the Red Sox slow down the streaking Yankees for at least one night. New York entered the night on an eight-game winning streak, and the team was 17-1 over its past 18 games.

They’ve been red hot, just to put a stop to them, Martinez said. For us to kind of at least take one here and avoid the sweep was huge.

While Kai Forbath has never been one of the NFL’s top specialists since he began kicking in 2012—he’s made 85.9 percent of his career field-goal attempts—he has been more than serviceable. With the Minnesota Vikings last year, he made 32 field goals, ninth-most in the NFL.

The Vikings re-signed Forbath to a one-year deal this offseason, but the UCLA product still may be on his way out. Minnesota also used a fifth-round draft pick on former Auburn kicker Daniel Carlson, which doesn’t seem to bode well for Forbath’s roster spot.

Tatum was glaring in the direction of the Bucks bench when a euphoric Brown blindsided him and wrapped him in his arms.

The 20-year-old rookie had just calmly drained a late-clock, midrange jumper over Middleton to put Boston out front in the final minute of Sunday’s game, and, as the hosts called timeout, Tatum and Brown exulted near midcourt.

At the combined age of 41 — the same as Celtics coach Brad Stevens — these are not the sort of moments Brown and Tatum are supposed to be owning.

“That’s the best part about [the playoffs],” Tatum said. “It brings something out of you. Just an extra ounce of competitiveness and intensity.”

Analysis: Bill Parcells used to say he did not like QBs who had not started a lot of games in college. Mark Sanchez came under scrutiny when he was drafted after starting just 16 games. Mitchell Trubisky also drew questions last year for starting just 13 games.

Once you get to the 20-start mark, this becomes less of a question. That means you have started for the better part of two years. None of the quarterbacks at the top of this year’s draft have experience questions.

“We know people are saying, ‘They’re a 2-seed, but that’s the best 2-seed you can play. They’re missing four key guys.'” Larkin said.

“You can think it’s going to be easy — you may think that — but we’re still going to fight. The guys on this roster just keep fighting.”

Fantasy star Clayton Kershaw is on the hill, and two more southpaws are worth a look as rentals, with the potential for longer stints of value.

Eduardo Rodriguez (L), rostered in 35 percent of ESPN leagues, Boston Red Sox at Toronto Blue Jays: The high-strikeout, high-walk hurler has lived up to that name so far with 20 and seven, respectively, through three starts, but he’s flashing the brilliance he showed through various injuries and mechanical issues in recent seasons. Even if Josh Donaldson (shoulder) returns, he might not be at 100 percent, and the Jays have scuffled to a .352 slugging percentage against left-handers so far.canucks_1161

Steelers’ Terrell Edmunds commits false start after draft call

Safety Terrell Edmunds committed a false start in his first moments as an NFL player.

Edmunds was so excited to get the call from the Pittsburgh Steelers as the 28th overall pick in the NFL draft that he rushed out of the restroom a little too early.

“I was in the restroom [Thursday night], using the bathroom, and I was washing my hands,” Edmunds said Friday at his introductory news conference at the Steelers’ UPMC Rooney Sports Complex. “I had my phone sitting on the sink. Coach [Mike Tomlin] called me. I was so excited, I just grabbed a paper towel real quick, dried off my hands, threw it away, my pants unbuckled still, just running out there talking to my parents. So excited.”

Rockies: Freeland remains sore after taking a liner off his left heel in Tuesday’s win. “Hopefully he’ll be ready for his next start,” Black said. … OF Carlos Gonzalez (strained right hamstring) began hitting in the cage.

Padres: After a day off, LHP Clayton Richard (1-2, 5.67 ERA) takes the mound Friday for a three-game series against the New York Mets, who will throw RHP Jacob deGrom (2-0, 2.53).

Rockies: Travel to Miami for a three-game series that starts Friday. LHP Tyler Anderson (1-0, 4.32) goes for the Rockies and RHP Jose Urena (0-3, 5.88) for the Marlins.

It only seemed natural the topic of the World Series was brought up before the game.

“It was one of the most interesting Series, probably ever,” Maddon said.

Davis’ eighth-inning home run off closer Aroldis Chapman tied the game and caused the ballpark to shake from the crowd reaction. Davis downplayed the significance of that moment on this series.

“We have to put it in perspective,” he said. “It’s not October, nor is it November. It’s not World Series baseball. It’s a lot different.”

Cubs LHP Jon Lester (2-0, 3.10 ERA) faces RHP Trevor Bauer (1-2, 2.67) in the series finale. Lester went 1-1 with a 3.68 ERA in three appearances against Cleveland during the 2016 World Series.

Martin homered two pitches after fouling a ball off his groin. He needed about five minutes to regroup before hitting a drive to straightaway center.

“I didn’t think his voice could get any higher than it did,” Gardenhire cracked. “He wasn’t feeling very good, but he wasn’t coming out of the game. He expressed that to me, right from the start. `Don’t take me out. Don’t even think about it. Just let me gather myself.’ And that’s what he did.”

Controversial ex-NFL player Greg Hardy to make pro MMA debut on UFC’s ‘Contender Series’

A former NFL All-Pro with a controversial past will get a crack at fighting in the UFC.

Greg Hardy will make his professional mixed martial arts debut on June 12 in a heavyweight matchup against Brandon Sayles on a Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series event in Las Vegas. MMA Fighting confirmed an initial report by MMA Today.

According to Second Spectrum, Green was Durant’s most common defender in Game 1 on Saturday, matching up with him 17 times in the half court. Durant scored three points and had three assists and one turnover against Green. But overall, eight different Spurs defenders matched up with Durant in the half court. Even the 6-foot Mills found himself switched onto Durant.

“The inaccuracy issue,” Allen said. “Going back to college having a 56-percent completion percentage. Obviously, it’s not great. But I think that it’s a little blown out of proportion. I do think that I’m accurate. Jordan Palmer’s helped me out a lot throughout this process with getting my feet right. Once we did that [I’m] throwing the ball a little easier. The ball’s coming out and where it’s supposed to be.”

So why the low completion percentage?

Ken Hitchcock’s retirement left Dallas with a vacancy behind the bench. AHL coach Sheldon Keefe, 37, is one name who should be on the Stars’ short list.

Another big negative at this point is that Toronto is going to have the benefit of the last change for line matching purposes, but it will be without one of its better two-way players in Nazem Kadri — who was suspended three games for his hit on Bruins forward Tommy Wingels — for two more games. Where having the last change will help is Toronto is the ability to find favorable matchups for Auston Matthews and see if they can open things up offensively for him. But the Leafs need to do a lot more than that to get things going.seahawks_187

Report: Deondre Francois said marijuana belonged to girlfriend

Tallahassee police conducted surveillance on Florida State quarterback Deondre Francois for two months, operating on a tip that he was selling marijuana, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

A raid of the player’s apartment on Thursday yielded less than an ounce of marijuana. Francois, who is recuperating from a torn patellar tendon in his left knee, was not arrested. He was cited with misdemeanor possession and given the chance to enter a pre-trial diversion program and pay a fine.

The police department said it found in the garbage and in Francois’ apartment some plastic bags with cannabis residue, innards of blunt cigars, a grinder, an instant drug test cup and three vials of pain medication.

Francois must do community service and avoid any criminal activity for a designated time as part of the diversion program.

“He’s got to be smart about who he’s around and what he’s around, and make good decisions,” Taggart said. “I advise him to just make sure he’s around his teammates all the time.”

Spencer Long, the former Redskins starting center signed by the Jets on March 22, figures to sit atop the depth chart at center, as long as he is healthy. Long, 27, suffered a torn quadriceps late last season and likely will not be able to do much in the spring. He said recently he is targeting a full return in training camp this summer.

Wesley Johnson struggled in 2017 as the replacement at center for Nick Mangold. The Jets did not pursue Johnson in free agency and he signed last week with the Lions.

Hodges, 22, has never appeared in an NFL game. He was waived/injured by the Vikings in early September and spent six weeks on the Panthers’ practice squad. He caught 133 passes at Virginia Tech.

“I know what it was like to be the guy that didn’t play every day,” Kapler said. “I know what it was like to be pinch-hit for because the matchup was better for somebody else. I know what it’s like to be double-switched for. I have such a strong connection to the human side of this game — more than probably anything else.

“I have this core group of teammates that I played with for various teams, like Evan Longoria with the Rays at the end of my career. And in Boston, I had my guys like [Jason] Varitek, Pedro [Martinez] and Trot [Nixon] and that crew. I think if you asked them about me, they’d describe the baseball guy, which is who I am at my core. It’s really interesting to me that this doesn’t get seen as much.”jets_062

Astros’ Carlos Correa leaves game with toe discomfort

Astros All-Star shortstop Carlos Correa left Monday night’s 6-1 win over the Baltimore Orioles with discomfort in his left big toe, the team said.

Correa was replaced by J.D. Davis at the start of the third inning after lining out in his first at-bat.

Correa said after the game that he had precautionary tests done on the toe after fouling a ball off his left foot Sunday. There’s no structural or bone damage, but it has a lot of pooled blood.

During Monday’s game, he said he irritated the area and felt pain while fielding a ball in the second inning, leading to his removal. Manager AJ Hinch said he’s considered day-to-day.

Davis liked what he heard and asked if the information to be compiled into an academic report.

Are you kidding Bernhard said with a smile. I’m a nerdy academic.

Bernhard assembled what he described as dream team of co-authors: a respected Nevada gaming attorney, a state senator and former chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board and a top economic expert on the global gaming industry.

But despite Garoppolo’s success a year ago, we’re still talking about a quarterback who has started all of seven games in his career. Sure, he won them all—but seven games is seven games.

McKinnon is a talented young running back, but he has never been the season-long focus of a team’s ground game. San Francisco’s receiving corps is good but not great. Ditto for an offensive line that Football Outsiders ranked 11th in run blocking and 18th in pass protection in 2017.

The late-season surge that made Jimmy G rich did more than just offer up hope for 2018. It also ramped up expectations about how quickly this rebuilding 49ers team could contend.

The Colts were always going to be likely to trade out of the third spot, given the presence of Andrew Luck and the likelihood that another team would want to move up for one of the quarterback prospects in this year’s draft. The dream would have been a haul with multiple first-round picks, but unless the Colts were willing to wait until the draft and run the risk of not getting an offer at all, this was the next-best thing.patriots_110

Matthew Slater visits Steelers

The Great New England Exodus of 2018 may not yet be over.

Field Yates of ESPN reports that receiver and special-teams ace Matthew Slater is visiting the Steelers on Saturday.

Brooks, who was named AFC defensive er of the week in Week Three of last season, is mostly a reserve on the Jets’ defense but is a core member of the special teams.

The NFL would probably like to avoid ever seeing the Josh McDaniels coaching fiasco ever happen again, and a subsequent rule change would ensure that it doesn’t.

NFL Competition Committee chairman Rich McKay confirmed that the league is considering a rule change that would allow assistant coaches to sign contracts for head coaching positions even before their teams are eliminated from the playoffs.

“Every year it’s become harder as the media pays more focus to those coaches and who may be going where,” McKay said, via Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk. “For too many years we’ve tried to hold that line on you can’t sign a contract but you can have an understanding.

Maybe this should have been obvious: I’ve been saying all along that Darnold has the best combination of floor and ceiling out of the quarterbacks in this draft, which fits what Cleveland needs to a T. He also just might be the best quarterback in the draft, which would also qualify as a thing that is good for the Browns.

Based on the chatter Albert Breer of heard coming out of L.A. this week, Darnold is “going No. 1.” That’s what an AFC exec told him, adding that “everyone” saw the “Browns’ franchise quarterback.”

Breer also talked to Jordan Palmer, the former college (loved him at UTEP!) and pro quarterback who trained both Darnold and Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen ahead of their pro days. Reading how Palmer set the pro day up — basically to highlight his strengths and “address any concerns” teams might have — is pretty fascinating. Go check it out.

The Seahawks truly are creating the Legion of Whom.

QB Matt Barkley signs two-year deal with Bengals

Quarterback Matt Barkley has signed with the Cincinnati Bengals, he announced on his Twitter account Saturday.

According to team’s website, it’s a two-year deal for Barkley, who will serve as the backup to starter Andy Dalton.

Barkley, 27, was drafted by the Eagles in the fourth round of the 2013 draft. The USC product most recently played for the Chicago Bears in 2016, but he was with the San Francisco 49ers in training camp last year and was signed midseason by the Arizona Cardinals but never played.

It’s unknown if he’s capable. He played behind Ertz and Brent Celek for much of his time in Philadelphia, making just 63 catches in 61 career games. Burton finished with only 23 catches for 248 yards and five touchdowns for the Eagles in 2017, and he had just one game with over 50 yards receiving. 

The Bears are hoping Burton keeps ascending as he takes over the No. 1 role at tight end in Chicago. But for now, he remains a big projection. 

But in 2016, Fuller missed the entire season after a knee procedure performed in August. The Bears became frustrated with the amount of time it was taking for him to return and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio questioned publicly whether Fuller was trying hard enough to come back.

As a result, the Bears declined the fifth-year option on Fuller, making him a free agent after the 2017 season. Fuller came back and had the best year of his career, finishing third in the NFL in pass-breaks (22) and playing far more aggressively against the run than he had.

He started all 16 games and finished with 61 tackles and two interceptions.

The New York Jets entered free agency with the most available salary-cap space and took advantage by signing the top available cornerback, a starting running back, a new inside linebacker and two bridge quarterbacks. 

Predators put win streak on the line vs. Ducks

In the middle of setting a franchise record, Nashville Predators coach Peter Laviolette is using the season’s remainder to take a big-picture look at getting his team its healthiest for what it thinks will be another long playoff run.

As Nashville won its ninth straight game Tuesday night with a 2-0 blanking of Dallas, it sat captain Roman Josi (upper-body injury) for a third consecutive contest and gave second-line center Kyle Turris what amounted to a maintenance day.

But now All-Star attention turns to the rest of the rosters from which captains LeBron James and Stephen Curry will choose. Though the teams at this year’s All-Star Game will be jumbled by conference, the process for selecting the reserves remains the same — coaches will pick two backcourt players, three frontcourt players and two wildcards.

Backcourt: John Wall, Wizards. Wall has not been as good as he was last season, and the Wizards have been frustrating. But they’re still No. 5 in the East, and Wall’s ability to run the offense gives him the nod over teammate Bradley Beal.

Frontcourt: Al Horford, Celtics. Horford’s numbers (13.3 points, 7.7 rebounds) don’t scream for attention, but he also shoots 43.0 percent from the 3-point line and has been underrated in elevating the Celtics’ league-best defense.

I’ll take a hard pass on the Senators. Not a lot of elite-caliber pieces and the one franchise player may or may not want to stick around. Contracts for Marian Gaborik and Craig Anderson almost take them into their 40s at more than $4 million apiece, while the Bobby Ryan deal is going to be costly to unload at some point.

Krug and Jake DeBrusk scored 15 seconds apart in the opening minute of the game. But the Red Wings tied it, getting a power play goal from Frans Nielsen 84 seconds later and a goal from Mike Green about five minutes after that.

Krug made it 3-2 on a power play with about six minutes left in the first, and Marchand gave the Bruins a 4-2 lead with six to play in the second.packers_155

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