Welcome to SB Nation FanPulse — a survey of fans across the NFL <a title="Youth Baker Mayfield Jersey" href="http://www.thebrownsclub.com/baker-mayfield-jersey/">Youth Baker Mayfield Jersey</a> , powered by SurveyMonkey. Each week, we send 32 polls to 100+ plugged in fans from each team. Browns fans, sign up HERE to join FanPulse.The Week 7 polls are in, so let’s look at the results to see how optimistic Browns fans are getting!How confident are you in the direction of the team? Last week: 96 percent confidenceThis week, 80% of fans voted for their confidence in the direction of the Browns, a 16% decline from last week. This is the lowest confidence rating the team has had all season, and it is no surprise that it comes after the only game they weren’t competitive in all year. Cleveland has yet to lose back-to-back games, so this week’s road game against the Buccaneers will be a big one with respect to the confidence meter.Believe it or not, the Browns’ 80% confidence mark is still the highest in the AFC North. The Ravens jumped back up to 77% this week, but the Bengals dropped down to 64% confidence, while the Steelers are at 59% confidence.Will the Browns win or lose in Week 7?Odds: Buccaneers are 3-point favoritesDawgs By Nature FanPulse: Browns by 3Bucs Nation FanPulse: Buccaneers by 4Buccaneers fans only have 22% confidence in the team, though, and they just fired their defensive coordinator.Which young QB would you take for the next 10 years?The graphic above shows the voting across all 32 NFL blogs. 55% of fans would take Patrick Mahomes over the other three quarterbacks. The results for just DBN were as follows:Patrick Mahomes - 59%Jared Goff - 24%Carson Wentz - 16%Deshaun Watson - 0% The Cleveland Browns believe there’s remorse in Kareem Hunt’s heart. The NFL hasn’t gotten that far.Following their own investigation, the Browns signed Hunt to a one-year contract Monday, giving the former star Chiefs running back a second chance after a video showed him pushing and kicking a woman.“I think we’re all appalled by it,” general manager John Dorsey said at the team’s headquarters <a title="Baker Mayfield Jersey Stitched" href="http://www.thebrownsclub.com/baker-mayfield-jersey/">Baker Mayfield Jersey Stitched</a> , hours after the Browns announced the controversial signing. “It is an egregious act. We all understand that. But after doing our research, extensive research, analyzing the situation, we came to the conclusion that I am willing to help a man from a second chance moving forward to be a better person, and that’s all you can ask for in society, and that’s all I’m trying to do.”Soon after the disturbing video surfaced in December, Kansas City released the 23-year-old Hunt, who was seen in a physical altercation with the woman last February during an argument in the lobby of a Cleveland hotel where he stayed.While Kansas City’s actions drew public support, the move put Hunt’s career in peril and placed him on the commissioner’s exempt list. He was in his second season with the Chiefs and one of their best players after leading the league in rushing as a rookie.Now, the Browns feel comfortable giving the Cleveland native an opportunity to make amends. Hunt, who sought treatment and counseling, could still be suspended by the league under its personal conduct policy for the incident and two others that surfaced after he was released by the Chiefs.The league’s investigation is ongoing, and until it’s completed the Browns won’t know if or when he’ll be able to play. Hunt has not been charged with a crime.Dorsey drafted Hunt in 2017 and feels the former Toledo back’s contrition is genuine.“I’ve known him since 2016 and I’ve found him to be a neat, young guy,” Dorsey said. “Now let’s reiterate, the egregious act that he did commit … there is no room for those types of things. We all know that moving forward. But as you go along and you start to see that this individual is truly remorseful <a title="Myles Garrett Jersey Stitched" href="http://www.thebrownsclub.com/myles-garrett-jersey/">Myles Garrett Jersey Stitched</a> , he understands the instances that took place there and he’s trying to make himself a better person now moving forward, and that’s all you can ask for.Dorsey said he spoke to “numerous individuals” during the team’s investigation, adding he did not reach out to the victim, who has not spoken publicly about the incident.In a statement released by the team, Hunt said:“First off, I would like to once again apologize for my actions last year. What I did was wrong and inexcusable. That is not the man I was raised to be, and I’ve learned a great deal from that experience and certainly should have been more truthful about it after the fact. I’m extremely grateful that John Dorsey, Dee and Jimmy Haslam and the Cleveland Browns organization are granting me the opportunity to earn their trust and represent their organization in the best way possible on and off the field.“I am committed to following the necessary steps to learn and to be a better and healthier person from this situation. I also understand the expectations that the Browns have clearly laid out and that I have to earn my way back to the NFL. I’m a work in progress as a person, but I’m committed to taking advantage of the support systems that I have in place to become the best and healthier version of myself.”Hunt’s incident is one of the more high-profile assault cases to plague the league in recent years.In 2014, Baltimore running back Ray Rice was captured on video punching and knocking out his then-fiancee in an elevator. He was released by the team and never returned to the NFL.The Browns, coming off a tumultuous 7-8-1 season that followed an 0-16 record in 2017, are creating headlines by giving Hunt a second chance even as the NFL has not yet decided on his status. Dorsey expects the league to wrap up its investigation “within a couple weeks.”Dorsey expects backlash for the decision to sign Hunt, but feels he knows Hunt well enough to believe he’s changed.“I truly, in my heart of hearts, believe there is a humble soul within that person, I really do <a title="David Njoku Jersey Stitched" href="http://www.thebrownsclub.com/david-njoku-jersey/">David Njoku Jersey Stitched</a> ,” Dorsey said. “He owns up to it. … he’s remorseful and I think he understands the magnitude of it, and right now he wants to be a better person and prove to people that, you know what, that was an isolated mistake that I made and that will never happen again.“He’s got to earn that trust from today moving forward.”Hunt, of course, could wind up with a suspension for a portion of the 2019 season. A player who is placed on the commissioner’s exempt list may not practice or attend games, but with the team’s permission he may be present at its facility on “a reasonable basis for meetings, individual workouts, therapy and rehabilitation, and other permitted non-football activities.”If and when he is able to play, Hunt could have a major role with the Browns. Nick Chubb ran for 996 yards as a rookie last season and the team has Duke Johnson, a versatile back who also is one of the team’s best receivers. Johnson signed a three-year, $15.6 million contract in June.
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Saints win the toss and defer. Buccaneers start at the 25. 2 plays later to the Saints 39. Tampa continues to drive for a TD. 7-0 Buccaneers.Alvin Kamara returns to the 27. Kamara rushes for 1. Mark Ingram picks up 2 more. Drew to Michael Thomas for the 1st. Thomas again for 20 yards. Josh Hill drops an easy pass. A holding call negates a big run by Ingram. Screen to Kamara for a short gain. 3rd and 15. Jason Pierre-Paul bats down Drew Brees’ pass. Saints punt. Buccaneers start at the 20. Peyton Barber rushes for 4. Pass is knocked down. Pass interference on Eli Apple gives the Bucs a first down at the 33. Jameis Winston dead shot overthrown.Barber picks up 3. 3rd and 7. Adam Humphries takes a big hit but holds on for the 1st. Rush picks up 5 on 1st down. Next rush tackled for a loss. 3rd and 8. Incomplete pass by Winston <a title="Marshon Lattimore Saint Jersey" href="https://www.thesaintslockerroom.com/authentic-marshon-lattimore-jersey">Marshon Lattimore Saint Jersey</a> , 4th down. Buccaneers punt. Tommylee Lewis fair catch at the 11. Kamara for no gain. Alvin Kamara gets blown up at the 4. 3rd and 17. Delay of game. 3rd and 19. Keith Kirkwood catch brings it out to the 15. Saints punt. After a 60 yard punt by Thomas Morstead, Adam Humphries returns to the 47 but a block in the back penalty backs it up to the 25. Barber picks up 1. Complete to Humphries for the 1st. Antony Auclair picks up another 1st. Barker picks up 2 to bring it to the Saints 49. Injury timeout. Peyton Barber limps off the field. Jacquizz Rodgers rushes for the 1st. Rodger again for 1. Eli Apple defends the pass. No flag. 3rd and 9. Jameis Winston runs to the 22 and another 1st down. Apple defends again. Rodgers rushes for 2. 3rd and 8. Winston is sacked by Cameron Jordan and Marcus Davenport. 4th down. 46 yard fieldgoal attempt is no good. Saints ball at the 36.Brees to Thomas to the Buccaneers 47. Drew to Benjamin Watson for another 1st. Thomas reception for 6. Brees throws incomplete. 3rd and 4. Timeout. Brees to Thomas for a 1st into the redzone. Mark Ingram loses a yard. Holes in the O-line again. Kirkwood complete for 7. 3rd and 3. Thomas slips <a title="Womens Michael Thomas Jersey" href="https://www.thesaintslockerroom.com/authentic-michael-thomas-jersey">Womens Michael Thomas Jersey</a> , incomplete. Saints settle for 3. Will Lutz is money. 7:06 left in the half.Buccaneers start at the 23. Barber picks up 2. Pass broken up by P.J. Williams. 3rd and 8. Winston complete for another 1st. False start backs it up 5. P.J. Williams break up another pass. Holding call backs it up 10 instead. 1st and 25. Sheldon Rankins breaks up the next pass. 2nd and 25. Alex Anzalone tackles Winston after a short gain. After a short gain a PI backs the Buccaneers up 15. 4th down, and another false start backs them up even more. Bucs punt. Tommylee Lewis fair catch at the 34. Offsides gives the Saints 5. 1st and 5. Drew to Watson for 4. Zach Line picks up the 1st. Kamara rushes for 4. Ball comes out but Kamara is ruled down. Tampa challenges and loses. The Buccaneers have one challenge left. 2nd and 6. Brees is intercepted. That one was all on Drew. Bucs ball at the 39.Demario Davis personal foul <a title="Womens Drew Brees Jersey" href="https://www.thesaintslockerroom.com/authentic-drew-brees-jersey">Womens Drew Brees Jersey</a> , defenseless player.Bucs at the Saints 22. Bucs pickup 5. Winston to Humpfries for another 1st. 1st and goal. Winston evades a sack and completes to the 1 yard line. Barber for no gain. 3rd and goal. Winston to Cameron Brate for the TD. Winston slow getting up. 14-3 with 26 seconds to the half. Kamara to the 25. Brees takes an knee and the Saints go into the half. Saints receive to start the second half. When Saints defensive end Cam Jordan learned about Buccaneers left tackle Donovan Smith‘s contract extension on Tuesday, he used it as a sales pitch for teammate and impending free agent Alex Okafor to re-sign in New Orleans.Okafor usually matched up with Smith when the Saints and Buccaneers squared off in recent seasons. Smith responded to Jordan’s pitch by posting a picture of himself tying up Okafor during one of those meetings and touched on Jordan’s comments again at a Wednesday press conference.Smith said <a title="Michael Thomas Jersey White" href="https://www.thesaintslockerroom.com/authentic-michael-thomas-jersey">Michael Thomas Jersey White</a> , via JoeBucsFan.com, that he thought Jordan was “just having fun” and that ultimate proof of the wisdom of the new contract will come on the field.“We’ll see him twice a year <a title="https://www.thesaintslockerroom.com/authentic-tre_quan-smith-jersey" href="https://www.thesaintslockerroom.com/authentic-tre_quan-smith-jersey">https://www.thesaintslockerroom.com/authentic-tre_quan-smith-jersey</a> ,” Smith said.We’ll find out the dates of the next two games between the NFC South teams next month and should know if Okafor will be part of them sooner than that.
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This year’s path to the playoffs for Dak Prescott and Jared Goff have been very different but such is the norm with these two quarterbacks. Jared Goff was the darling of the 2016 NFL Draft and the Rams mortgaged their future to take him first overall. The Cowboys swung for other options before they landed Dak Prescott with their fourth-round compensatory pick. Dak came in for Tony Romo and went on to have the best rookie season ever and ushered in a new era for the Cowboys. Jared Goff started on the bench and was winless in seven rookie starts for the Rams. Not about to waste a single moment <a title="Amari Cooper Cowboys Jersey" href="https://www.thecowboyslockerroom.com/authentic-amari-cooper-jersey">Amari Cooper Cowboys Jersey</a> , the Rams cleaned house of the Jeff Fisher-regime and started anew with an innovative young coach Sean McVay. Jared Goff’s Rams made the playoffs in last season while Dak Prescott’s Cowboys missed the mark by one awful game in Atlanta. Dak Prescott found himself in sort of a slump that carried into this season as Dallas was 3-5 at the halfway mark. Jared Goff was one of the hottest quarterbacks on one of the best teams at 8-0 through the first-half of this season:Lg. Rk.First 8 GamesTMW/LCmpAttCmp%YDsTDIntRateSkFUM.Y/A626Through those eight games, these quarterbacks were on very different trajectories in their careers. Jared Goff was a rising star and Dak Prescott’s star had fallen but imagine if it continued like that throughout the entire season:Lg. Rk.ProjectedFinishTMW/LCmpAttCmp%YDsTDIntRateSkFUM.Y/A626For one, Jared Goff would be compared to every great passer from Joe Montana to Tom Brady. Dak Prescott would be looking at two-consecutive seasons without a playoff berth and the questions about his long-term future would multiply in the media. Well, as these two prepare to lead their teams to victory with a trip to the NFC Championship game on the line, trajectories have certainly changed. At the 3-5 crossroads, the Cowboys decided that the season was very salvageable and wanted to double-down on Dak Prescott. The front officewent out and mortgaged a little of their future to add Amari Cooper, putting the ball in Dak’s court to perform. The Cowboys went 8-1 over the last nine games, winning the NFC East, and knocking off the wild card Seahawks to advance to this game. On the opponent’s side of things, Jared Goff wasn’t a perfect 16-0 and the loss of his favorite target Cooper Kupp in week 11 stung a little. Todd Gurley <a title="https://www.thecowboyslockerroom.com/authentic-leighton-vander-esch-jersey" href="https://www.thecowboyslockerroom.com/authentic-leighton-vander-esch-jersey">https://www.thecowboyslockerroom.com/authentic-leighton-vander-esch-jersey</a> , arguably the best player on the Rams offense has been healing up since Christmas so that’s also figured in. After all, Goff’s Rams earned a little rest, they finished the season 13-3, with the NFC’s second-seed, and a first-round bye.Just as Dak Prescott was a big part of the 3-5 start he was just as crucial to this 8-1 run. The same can be said for Goff, who was a big part of the 8-0 start but has had a share of struggles in the 5-3 finish. Now, there are arguments to be made about the wave of momentum and what role it plays in the playoff. Through the second-half of this season, the momentum is all with Dak Prescott:Lg.Rk.2nd HalfTMW/LCmpAttCmp%YdsPASSTDRUSH TDINTQB RateSkFUMY/A46Dak has been on quite a tear and without his elevated playmaking abilities, the Cowboys wouldn’t be anywhere near the playoffs. Now, the Rams defense is better than advertised and are capable of creating havoc for quarterbacks. They have arguably the best defensive player in football with Aaron Donald. He and Michael Brockers will put pressure on Prescott <a title="White Terrell Owens Jersey" href="http://www.cowboysjerseysproshop.com/terrell-owens-jersey/">White Terrell Owens Jersey</a> , who has been sacked 57 times this season. The Dallas line has been compromised but have played much better in recent weeks.Also, don’t forget that it’s the Cowboys who are bringing the top-rated remaining playoff defense into LA, that’s certainly going to be a factor for Jared Goff,.The Rams are talent-rich and very well-coached so you can bet that they will be ready for this high-stakes game in front of their hometown crowd. At the same time, the Cowboys have called southern California a second-home for years so expect the visitors side to be well-represented as well. In these games, with so many comparable variables, it usually comes down to the quarterback, the most important position in football. Jared Goff and his Rams were good enough to have mostly everything sewn up by Thanksgiving. For Dak Prescott, he and the Cowboys have been in playoff-mode for over two months. Just like no other team has won more one-score games this season than Dallas, no quarterback has engineered more game-winning drives in the past three years than Dak Prescott:RkCareer TMGWDCmpAttCmp%YdsTDIntRateSkTDPts121Dak has engineered three times as many game-winning drives as Jared Goff. Prescott has six this season to Goff’s four. Dak has completed 69% of his passes for 1 <a title="Terrell Owens Jersey 2019" href="http://www.cowboysjerseysproshop.com/terrell-owens-jersey/">Terrell Owens Jersey 2019</a> ,801 yards, with a 103 passer rating in those six game. He also has accounted for 11 passing touchdowns and three rushing scores, which is half of his season total of 28 coming in games where he lead his team to victory on a game-winning drive. That’s quite the accomplishment for a young quarterback but that just embodies who Dak is. When the pressure is insurmountable, which it often is during the playoffs, the quarterbacks that have the toughness find ways to overcome it. So far in three short seasons, Prescott has 30 games where he’s been sacked multiple times to Jared Goff’s 23 games:Multi-Sack GmsQBW/LComp.Att.%YPGTDINTQB RateSacksYds/AttIn the face of pressure, through all the hits, sacks, or other circumstances, that’s when we see the best of Dak Prescott. That’s why the Cowboys have a decent shot at this because they have the edge at quarterback. Dak Prescott won his first playoff game <a title="Dallas Cowboys Mike Weber Jersey" href="http://www.cowboysjerseysproshop.com/mike-weber-jersey/">Dallas Cowboys Mike Weber Jersey</a> , and Jason Garrett his second as a head coach as the Cowboys beat battle-tested Pete Carroll, Russell Wilson and the Seahawks. The Cowboys’ hard-fought 24-22 victory over Seattle sends them on the road to either New Orleans or Los Angeles next week in the divisional round.The Seahawks led 14-10 after the third quarter, holding the Cowboys to only 25 yards in the period. But the Cowboys scored twice in the fourth quarter and blew a third scoring chance when Prescott threw a red zone interception in the end zone. K.J. Wright intercepted the pass intended for Noah Brown.Prescott’s biggest play of his career came not with his arm but with his legs. On third-and-14 from the Seattle 17, Prescott scrambled for 16 yards to the Seattle 1. He punched it on the next play, putting the Cowboys up two scores with 2:08 left.Elliott finished with 137 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries, and Prescott ran for 29 yards and the touchdown on six carries. Elliott’s 1-yard touchdown run with 12:28 remaining proved the winning score, but Prescott added the exclamation point, putting Dallas up 24-14.Prescott completed 22 of 33 passes for 226 yards with a touchdown, an interception and yet another fourth-quarter comeback.The Cowboys held the Seahawks, the league’s top rushing team <a title="Womens Mike Weber 2019 Jersey" href="http://www.cowboysjerseysproshop.com/mike-weber-jersey/">Womens Mike Weber 2019 Jersey</a> , to only 73 rushing yards.Wilson completed 18 of 27 passes for 233 yards and a touchdown, a 7-yard pass to J.D. McKissic on fourth down with 1:18 remaining. The Seahawks, who lost kicker Sebastian Janikowski to a thigh injury on the final play of the first half, got a Chris Carson run for the two-point conversion.But punter Michael Dickson‘s drop kick attempt at an onside kick never had a chance. Cole Beasley recovered.The Cowboys celebrated their first playoff victory since 2014. Garrett, whose contract expires after next season, now has a 2-2 postseason record in his nine-year career. He has never advanced past the divisional round as a head coach.
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Another week <a title="Chester Rogers Jersey Stitched" href="http://www.thecoltsclub.com/chester-rogers-jersey/">Chester Rogers Jersey Stitched</a> , another disappointing loss. The Colts now sit at 1-5, somehow not even nearly out of the divisional race, but also not providing much in the way of hope that they have what it takes to right the ship. Let’s take a look at some of the winners and losers from this week’s game against the New York Jets.WinnersAndrew LuckLet’s take a minute to appreciate how good Andrew Luck has been. The guy is back from what could have been a career ending shoulder injury, and he is absolutely slinging the ball. He has been working with a largely practice squad-quality wide receiver group, and has been operating behind a revolving door of offensive linemen, but he has still looked incredible. No running game? Not a problem. Luck will just hoist the team on his surgically repaired shoulders and carry them downfield. He hasn’t been able to will them to wins this season, it’s is true. However, it isn’t hard to imagine what he could do with a decent or better skill position group on offense. Luck finished this game 23 of 43 for 301 yards, no sacks, 3 interceptions, and 4 touchdowns. Of those three picks, Luck only deserves credit for 1, as two came off bobbled passes. As usual, his receivers dropped more than a handful of passes that would have further improved on those numbers. Andrew Luck is a treasure and Colts fans are fortunate to be able to watch such a long run of stellar quarterback play.Malik HookerRobert Deutsch-USA TODAY SportsThere have been a lot of questions about whether Malik Hooker is anywhere near getting back to his old self. So many in fact, that Zach Hicks did an entire breakdown of his production this year. Even without the benefit of the All-22 coaches film, you can see how impressive his first interception of the season is. It comes on a deep ball from Darnold down the left sideline, and it is badly underthrown. However, Hooker has to cover a ton of ground to get to the ball. With many safeties, this pass likely goes incomplete. This kind of play is big because this defense will thrive down the stretch on the ability to create turnovers. It was good to see Hooker have that kind of impact early in the game. Darius LeonardDespite working through an ankle injury, Darius Leonard had another productive day, racking up 9 tackles and a forced fumble that was recovered by the Colts. Leonard missed against the Patriots, but even when he is likely playing at less than 100%, the rookie linebacker finds himself consistently making an impact on the field. Any time the defense gives up 42 points they deserve to have any praise they’re given be taken with an extra-large grain of salt. The Jets rushed for more than 100 yards and passed for 280. The Colts defense wasn’t able to get off the field consistently, and Leonard deserves his share of blame for his part in the lopsided time of possession. However, on the whole he has been a positive part of the defense and continued to make a case that he deserves to be the front runner for the Defensive Rookie of the Year. Marlon MackHis first big contribution to this game was a bit of a black mark. The bobbled catch resulted in a pick for Luck <a title="Youth Denico Autry Jersey" href="http://www.thecoltsclub.com/denico-autry-jersey/">Youth Denico Autry Jersey</a> , but he proved to be by far the most effective running weapon the Colts have had all season long. If he can continue to generate this kind of production on the ground and pair it with the abilities of guys like Nyheim Hines and Robert Turbin, it will give the Colts a big lift. All told, Mack had 89 yards on 12 attempts, despite the team trailing most of the game. That is the kind of production Frank Reich would be thrilled to get out of him going forward.Honorable Mention: Eric Ebron, who has 6 TDs through 6 weeks, tied for best in the NFL in receiving TDs.LosersChester RogersRobert Deutsch-USA TODAY SportsIt seemed like every time the Colts had the ball at least one play involved a pass bouncing off Chester Rogers’ chest. It wasn’t quite as bad as that, but it was close. The Colts’ very first play was a Rogers drop which would have gotten them an immediate first down. There are simply too many instances of him missing on catches they have to have. Contrary to Frank Reich’s assertion that these are taking place on “contested catches,” the ones I kept seeing were as open as you can hope to be in most NFL games. It seems like the catches being contested is less the problem, and Chester Rogers not being an NFL caliber talent is more the issue. Is Rogers capable of making big and impressive plays? Sure. However, what makes you a good quality NFL receiver is the ability to be consistent. Running your routes well, getting separation, and making the catch are all things you have to do with consistency to succeed at this level, and Rogers so far has proven that he can only be expected to provide those things in flashes, not with any amount of consistency.Robert TurbinRobert Deutsch-USA TODAY SportsIn his second game coming off suspension, many thought we might see an increase in involvement for Robert Turbin. Instead, we got 4 carries for 10 yards and a lost fumble. For a Colts offense that desperately needs to put a running game together, this was a problem. They needed a spark from Turbin upon his return, but instead he coughed up a fumble. Even worse, his fumble came on a possession directly after the Colts had gotten a defensive stop and gave a short field to the Jets offense which lead to points.Pass coverageThe cornerbacks for the Colts looked outclassed all day by the Jets and Sam Darnold. He abused them with seam routes consistently and when they matched up in man coverage they got picked on. There were communication issues and simply a couple instances of blown coverage. The linebackers didn’t look much better. Seam routes and slants were very effective to move the Jets’ offense up and down the field. Some of this is pretty common for this defensive scheme. The bend-don’t-break mentality is a familiar one to Colts fans. Even without the mental errors you have some tendency to give up yards. The problem is that this defense forgot about the not breaking part. Too many times they allowed the Jets to get into position to kick field goals—they had 7 on the day, 1 shy of the league record. That is a problem, and it started with the weakness against the pass. Marcus JohnsonJohnson is here as a loser for a different reason than many of the others on this list. He had 2 catches on 3 targets and 52 total yards. Unfortunately, one of those catches resulted in an egregious no-call in which the Jets defender clearly tackled him well out of bounds and the result was an injury that could damage his long-term prospects as a part of a team that needs anyone possible to step up at the wide receiver position. This killed me, because not only did it hurt the Colts in the moment, but the play resulted in Johnson’s injury. He was definitely a loser in this game, though it wasn’t his fault.6 takeaways from Colts 23-17 win over the 49ers The Indianapolis Colts hosted the San Francisco 49ers Saturday for their third preseason game as they get ready to head into the 2018 season. Per the usual with exhibition contests <a title="Denico Autry Jersey Stitched" href="http://www.thecoltsclub.com/denico-autry-jersey/">Denico Autry Jersey Stitched</a> , there was some good to take in, and also some real issues that will need to be addressed immediately. The Colts did come away victorious, but we all know that the final score means nothing, but what the team learns from these four quarters means everything.Andrew Luck is still a boss:In his third preseason outing, Andrew Luck came through once again. His performance wasn’t the best against the Baltimore Ravens last week, but he certainly showed that the Colts will go as Andrew Luck goes.He finished 8-of-10 for 90 yards and a touchdown through the air, and picked up 27 yards, scrambling four times on the ground. Luck had a dropback or two where he looked a bit frantic after getting past his first read, but he very quickly calmed down and was extremely poised the rest of his time under center.Luck finishes the preseason 20-of-32, throwing for 204 yards with a touchdown and an interception. I think Colts fans can live with that result from a preseason in which we know we saw virtually none of the playbook. Colts still need a pass rush off the edge:We’ve seen guys like Hassan Ridgeway and Denico Autry creating pressure on opposing quarterbacks from the interior of the Colts defensive line, but aside from John Simon the edge group is pretty underwhelming thus far.In fact, before Ryan Delaire dropped C.J. Beathard at the end of the third quarter (he ended up notching two sacks on the day), Simon was the only defensive end on the roster who had accumulated a sack thus far. In the first half of Saturday’s Week 3 game, Simon and Anthony Johnson were able to get hits on Jimmy Garoppolo. Kemoko Turay and Tarell Basham were able to get a piece of the quarterback in the second half as well, and Skai Moore technically earned a sack as Garoppolo ran out of bounds. They’re getting some pressure, but not enough overall, and not enough from the defensive end group by any stretch of the imagination. Colts offensive line still has a long way to go:For the most part (15 dropbacks) the Colts offensive line struggled to protect Luck. He was sacked once, was forced to escape the pocket to scramble four times and was forced off of his spot a few more times despite being able to get the ball out of his hands in the process.Austin Howard was replaced with J’Marcus Webb after only once series with Luck in the game, Joe Haeg was worked over a few times and the interior even looked overwhelmed a couple times as well. This group was expected to be a much better pass blocking group, but we can see that the light at the end of the tunnel may be a bit further away than we expected.The running game was also abysmal. At halftime, the Colts running backs racked up all of 5 yards on the ground through 11 carries. Yuck. That’s not quite what the Colts are hoping to see executed come the regular season, but those numbers have a lot to do with the line. With expectations of having a much improved all-around offensive line, several things need to change in a hurry if that’s still going to be the case.Of course, Anthony Castonzo is still on the shelf, but the interior still needs a great deal of improvement going forward as well.Darius Leonard is a beastWhat else can we say about Leonard right now? I’m guessing that those who ‘didn’t like the pick’ are having some different feelings after watching his camp and preseason ability being presented. Leonard was <a title="Youth Skai Moore Jersey" href="http://www.thecoltsclub.com/skai-moore-jersey/">Youth Skai Moore Jersey</a> , again, very active against the run and even had two near interceptions in the first half alone. Leonard’s speed is exactly what the Colts need from the rookie at the WILL position and with his instincts against the passing game beginning to show up on the field, it appears that he’s quickly moving towards being well-worth the second-round pick Chris Ballard used to grab him. Colts run defense desperately needs some consistency:Simply put, the Colts allowed nearly 100 rushing yards in the first half alone Saturday against the 49ers. That will not cut it with such a young group trying to make plays on the defensive side of the ball. Now, the Colts scheme is allowing more on the ground than they would if they just played straight up due in large part to their slanting so often on early downs.That works, both, for and against the defense, but when it goes against them it turns into major gains for opposing running backs. The missed tackles, some failures in gap integrity and the occasional situation in which they’re just plain-ole outmatched stacks yards on top of yards as the game goes on.We expected some difficulty against the run, with the change to the four-man front, but when the Colts kept Al Woods through the transition, something needs to be addressed I’d say. I think it’s a workable front for the Colts, however, they won’t be able to allow 100 yards per half and expect to win any games this year.Will a breakout receiver please stand up?We’ve had this conversation for the better part of the past couple months. It’s T.Y. Hilton, Chester Rogers... and then what? I don’t trust that Ryan Grant is going to offer enough to be a legit WR3, and behind him you have about three or four guys who have some real ability and are in the midst of a roster battle, but nothing concrete at all.Zach Pascal has showed some great receiving ability as well as some special teams help in the return game. Seantavius Jones, Kasen Williams and Steve Ishmael have all flashed too, but we have yet to see anything consistent out of camp or in preseason games. Is Daurice Fountain finally going to become who the Colts want him to be and make the roster? Can Krishawn Hogan get himself noticed enough in the Colts’ fourth preseason outing to bypass these other guys?Look, none of us should care who does rise to the top, just as long as somebody does. This receiver corps is a real issue going into the season folks.
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CLEVELAND (AP) — Apparently <a title="Orange Ozzie Newsome Jersey" href="http://www.brownsjerseyproshop.com/ozzie-newsome-jersey/">Orange Ozzie Newsome Jersey</a> , beating Hue Jackson on the field wasn’t enough for Baker Mayfield.A day after throwing four touchdown passes in a 35-20 win over Cincinnati and then rejecting a postgame hug from his former coach, Mayfield called Jackson “fake” as the Browns rookie quarterback fended off criticism of his behavior.Mayfield was upset with comments made about him by ESPN’s Damien Woody, who said the QB was acting childish and hypocritical for saying Jackson should not have joined the Bengals‘ staff after he was fired last month in Cleveland.“Baker Mayfield needs to grow up,” said Woody, who played in the NFL for eight years. “This is pro football, you’re dealing with grown men. What I found funny about this whole thing <a title="Ozzie Newsome Jersey 2019" href="http://www.brownsjerseyproshop.com/ozzie-newsome-jersey/">Ozzie Newsome Jersey 2019</a> , Baker Mayfield, didn’t he go from Texas Tech to Oklahoma? Two teams in the Big 12. You went from one rival to another in the same conference.”Mayfield walked on at Texas Tech before transferring.He shot back at Woody with an Instagram comment, saying the announcer’s take was “not even comparable” and then took another crack at Jackson.“I didn’t lose 30games be fake and then do that . I wasn’t gonna have a scholarship. Good try though buddy.”Following Sunday’s game, Mayfield, who began the season as Tyrod Taylor’s backup before an injury moved him into the starting lineup, said he didn’t feel the need to interact with Jackson. The pair did shake hands.“I didn’t feel like talking <a title="Orange Joe Thomas Jersey" href="http://www.brownsjerseyproshop.com/joe-thomas-jersey/">Orange Joe Thomas Jersey</a> ,” Mayfield said, adding he was motivated by Jackson leaving for the Bengals. “Left Cleveland, goes down to Cincinnati, I don’t know. It’s just somebody that was in our locker room, asking for us to play for him, and then goes to a different team we play twice a year.”Jackson went 3-36-1 in two-plus seasons before he was fired by the Browns. He was always complimentary of Mayfield <a title="Joe Thomas Jersey 2019" href="http://www.brownsjerseyproshop.com/joe-thomas-jersey/">Joe Thomas Jersey 2019</a> , who never complained — at least publicly — about beginning his NFL career in a backup role.While interim Browns coach Gregg Williams refused Monday to discuss whether his players were motivated by Jackson, Mayfield is certain to be asked about it Wednesday when the Browns return to practice.Cleveland hosts Cincinnati on Dec. 23. Dan Bailey, the second most accurate kicker in NFL history with above an 88 percent success rate, could be on the Cleveland Browns’ radar after 23-year-old Zane Gonzalez kicked away their chances at a Week 2 win in New Orleans.Gonzalez missed two extra points and two field goals in the second half of the Browns’ 21-18 loss.According to betting odds (via MyBookie), the Browns are the favorites (+100) to land Bailey as Gonzalez’s replacement, which assumes they cut him for the poor performance. The Minnesota Vikings (+150) are a close second after their kicker missed a potential game-winning field goal in the waning seconds of their matchup against rival Green Bay. The Browns are even bigger favorites (EVEN) to sign Bailey at a different sports book <a title="Orange Denzel Ward Jersey" href="http://www.brownsjerseyproshop.com/denzel-ward-jersey/">Orange Denzel Ward Jersey</a> , per OddsShark.Bailey had an off-year by his standards in 2017—playing in only 12 games and making only 75 percent of his attempted field goals—before becoming a surprise roster cut by the Cowboys after spending his first seven NFL seasons with the team.As of Sep. 5, Bailey reportedly had contract offers from four NFL teams.“There are a lot of factors that are important to Dan,’’ Bailey’s agent Jeremy Woy told 247Sports.com’s Mike Fisher two weeks ago. “It’s not only about money. He is considering offers. He wants to be with the right team.’’That number of potential contract offers likely went way up after Sunday.If Bailey’s future comes down to a choice between the Browns and Vikings, and his desire for being on the “right” team means a winning one, then the oddsmakers might want to adjust things pretty quickly.And Bailey might want to start packing his bags with some warm clothing.
Much like the Philadelphia Phillies <a title="Matt Holliday Jersey" href="http://www.yankeesfanproshop.com/authentic-matt-holliday-jersey">Matt Holliday Jersey</a> , Vince Velasquez has struggled since early August. The right-hander will be on the mound Saturday night as the Phillies face the Miami Marlins in the second game of a three-game series in Philadelphia. Velasquez will try to help the Phillies win their first series since Aug. 5 — which also came against the Marlins at Citizens Bank Park.Velasquez (9-11, 4.30 ERA) has a 6.66 ERA and a 1.644 WHIP over his last six starts, and opponents have a .900 OPS against him in that stretch. The Phillies are 2-4 in those outings, and they’ve fallen out of the playoff race with a 12-23 record over the last six weeks. Article continues below ...Philadelphia beat Miami 14-2 on Friday. With 16 games remaining, the Phillies are 7 1/2 games behind the first-place Atlanta Braves in the National League East and five games back of the St. Louis Cardinals in the race for the second NL wild-card spot.Velasquez gave up five runs on seven hits in four-plus innings against the New York Mets last Sunday on a rainy afternoon at Citi Field. It marked the fifth time in six starts that Velasquez has gone four innings or fewer.“I was missing spots kind of the whole game and the conditions got the best of me,” Velasquez told the Delaware County Daily Times after the outing. “I can’t let that happen.”Velasquez has a 2-1 record and a 2.08 ERA in three starts against the Marlins this season. The 26-year-old is 4-2 with a 2.57 ERA and 1.000 WHIP in nine starts against Miami in his career.The Marlins were not sure who would start on Saturday as of Friday night. Manager Don Mattingly said it would likely be a bullpen game with the team playing its sixth contest in five days.The Phillies are hoping their offense from Friday night carries over to Saturday against whichever pitcher the Marlins use.The 14 runs they plated were the most since a 17-5 win over the Pirates on July 6. The Phillies hit five homers on Friday night, including a pair by Aaron Altherr and the 31st of the season by Rhys Hoskins.“Big night for Rhys, and really up and down the lineup, we got contributions,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said after Friday’s win. “I thought we had a good offensive approach all night.”Hoskins, who was starting at first base for just the third time this season on Friday, has four homers and seven RBIs in his last six games. He is now hitting .253 with an .868 OPS this season <a title="http://www.yankeesfanproshop.com/authentic-austin-romine-jersey" href="http://www.yankeesfanproshop.com/authentic-austin-romine-jersey">http://www.yankeesfanproshop.com/authentic-austin-romine-jersey</a> , and Hoskins’ 31 homers tied him for the eighth-most in the National League.Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto hit his team-leading 21st homer of the season Friday night. It improves on a career-high for Realmuto, who has 71 RBIs.Miami (57-90) has lost six of its last seven games, and the team has hit the 90-loss mark for the first time since finishing 71-91 in 2015. Philadelphia, meanwhile, is 10-7 this year against the Marlins, and the franchise has hit 75 wins for the first time since finishing 81-81 in 2012. The Los Angeles Angels have considered offering star Mike Trout a 10-year, $350 million extension, according to The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal.Rosenthal notes that it's not clear if an actual offer has been put on the table.The 27-year-old is under contract through the 2020 season, with a salary of $33.25 million in each of the next two years.Back in March 2014, a 22-year-old Trout signed asix-year, $144.5 million extensionwith Los Angeles that bought out three arbitration years as well as a trio of free agency years. It marked the highest averaged annual value ever given to a player with just two years of service time.All Trout has done is live up to the contract and then some.Trout has a career .307/.416/.573 slash line with 240 home runs and 648 RBI. In seven full seasons, the center fielder has an American League Rookie of the Year award <a title="Reggie Jackson Jersey" href="http://www.yankeesfanproshop.com/authentic-reggie-jackson-jersey">Reggie Jackson Jersey</a> , six Silver Sluggers and a pair of AL MVP awards. He has never finished outside of the top four in MVP voting, finishing runner-up four times, including last season.As a result, there has been growing speculation that the Angels will look to lock him up before he has a chance to reach the open market. And this offseason has help reset the market for superstars.MannyMachado(10 years, $300 million with the San Diego Padres) and Bryce Harper (13 years, $330 million) have each topped the $300 million mark this winter. Harper's deal edged outGiancarloStanton's 13-year, $225 million deal for the largest in league history.Also of note, ZackGreinke's six-year, $206.5 million deal with the Arizona Diamondback holds the record for largestAAV($34.4 million) in MLB history.Trout is expected to command more, both in terms ofAAVand total guarantee, than eitherGreinkeor Harper.While the Angels may be pondering an extension internally, the star himself isn't worried about his contract status at the moment."I haven't even thought about it <a title="http://www.yankeesfanproshop.com/authentic-bernie-williams-jersey" href="http://www.yankeesfanproshop.com/authentic-bernie-williams-jersey">http://www.yankeesfanproshop.com/authentic-bernie-williams-jersey</a> ," Trouttold reportersFriday. "Obviously, you guys bring it up a lot and I appreciate you asking me all these questions, but right now is not the time to think about it. 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The Baltimore Orioles finished the 2018 season with a 47-115 record and 61 games standing between them and first place in the American League East. It didn't take them long to make personnel changes after such a disastrous showing.According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network <a title="http://www.twinsfanproshop.com/authentic-erick-aybar-jersey" href="http://www.twinsfanproshop.com/authentic-erick-aybar-jersey">http://www.twinsfanproshop.com/authentic-erick-aybar-jersey</a> , the Orioles parted ways with general manager Dan Duquette on Wednesday.His report comes after Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic suggested the team was "expected" to let Duquette go while noting it fired manager Buck Showalter. ESPN.comnoted Duquette's contract only runs through the end of October, so he simply will not be re-signed.Duquette, 60, has enjoyed an extensivecareerin the major league ranks. He worked in scouting and player development with the Milwaukee Brewers, served as the assistant general manager and then general manager of the Montreal Expos <a title="Anibal Sanchez Jersey" href="http://www.twinsfanproshop.com/authentic-anibal-sanchez-jersey">Anibal Sanchez Jersey</a> , was the general manager of the Boston Red Sox and was the director of baseball operations for the Israel Baseball League before the Orioles hired him prior to the 2012 campaign.Baltimore made the playoffs in three of seven seasons under Duquette, advancing as far as the 2014 American League Championship Series. However, the team finished in last place in the AL East in each of the last two seasons.R.J. Andersonof CBS Sports pointed out Duquette was "known for having an analytical bent" but added, "whether or not Duquette still has the eye鈥攐r has improved upon his reputedly shaky communication skills鈥攊s up for debate."Despite the struggles of the past two seasons, Duquette at least put the Orioles in position for future success with a number of trades <a title="Eduardo Escobar Jersey" href="http://www.twinsfanproshop.com/authentic-eduardo-escobar-jersey">Eduardo Escobar Jersey</a> , including deals that sent out Manny Machado, Zach Britton and Kevin Gausman.Jonathan Mayoof MLB.com ranked teams that improved their farm systems the most at the non-waiver trade deadline on July 31 and had the Orioles atop the list.Duquette just won't be there to see the farm system eventually ascend to the major league level. Matthew Eisman/Getty ImagesTony Romo might seem like he can predict the future when announcing NFL games, but he is now trying to take his skill to a new level.The CBS announcer predicted Bryce Harper will end up with the Texas Rangers after the free-agent outfielder asked about it on Twitter:Tony Romo tonyromoWell... looks like you鈥檒l be playing for the Texas Rangers opening day 馃槈 xVw1LDnm18Romo has spent the past two years providing color in the booth after retiring from the NFL, and he has earned big praise for his ability to correctly predict what teams will do.He was especially impressive during Sunday's AFC Championship Game by calling out several New England Patriots plays:NFL NFL.TonyRomo was calling plays before they happened! 馃敭 4jdm9I8Pl5While some on social media have joked about the former Dallas Cowboys star giving up future lottery numbers, Harper instead wants him to solve the biggest mystery in baseball.The six-time All-Star is one of the biggest prizes on the free-agent market but remains on the market with only about two months until the start of next season. Although the Rangers haven't been considered a top contender for his services <a title="http://www.twinsfanproshop.com/authentic-jake-odorizzi-jersey" href="http://www.twinsfanproshop.com/authentic-jake-odorizzi-jersey">http://www.twinsfanproshop.com/authentic-jake-odorizzi-jersey</a> , it might be some wishful thinking for Romo after he spent his entire career in Dallas.
ATLANTA (AP) — Cardinals manager Mike Shildt loved watching Yadier Molina grind out a big at-bat in the eighth inning.With the bases loaded and two outs in a two-run game <a title="http://www.bravesfanproshop.com/authentic-orlando-cepeda-jersey" href="http://www.bravesfanproshop.com/authentic-orlando-cepeda-jersey">http://www.bravesfanproshop.com/authentic-orlando-cepeda-jersey</a> , Shildt got exactly what he wanted from Molina, a veteran star catcher who has helped St. Louis chase down plenty of playoff spots during his 15-year career.“He gets down 0-2, and you can just watch him bearing down,” Shildt said. “He got the count full and got a base hit to score two and took advantage of the (error) and we were able to clear the bases there.”Paul DeJong hit a two-run homer, Molina added a two-run single in the four-run eighth and St. Louis won its third straight game with an 8-1 victory over the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves on Tuesday night.Austin Gomber pitched five effective innings for St. Louis, which holds a slim lead for the second NL wild card. The Cardinals top the National League with 36 victories since All-Star break, and their 43 road wins this season rank second.Atlanta’s division lead dropped to 5½ games over Philadelphia as the Braves lost their fourth in a row after a season-best six-game winning streak. They are 38-38 at SunTrust Park and have dropped 14 of 18 at home.The Braves’ magic number remained at seven as they try to clinch a division title for the first time in five years. Philadelphia beat the New York Mets 5-2.Atlanta manager Brian Snitker can sense his team is pressing.“We’ve been down this road before a few times this year,” Snitker said. “All it takes is one game to get you rolling and get you back on the run. We’ve been resilient. We’ve come back before. There’s no reason to think we won’t do it again.”Anibal Sanchez (6-6) allowed four hits and two runs and struck out six in five innings. He faced the minimum through his first three innings and retired his first batter in the fourth before Jose Martinez singled and DeJong hit his 19th homer.DeJong, who is hitting .478 with four homers and 10 RBIs in five career games against Atlanta, added a run-scoring single in the eighth off Dan Winkler. DeJong’s homer was his 14th on the road.“I think he’s figuring out he’s a run producer,” Shildt said. “We’re seeing a good swing <a title="Phil Niekro Jersey" href="http://www.bravesfanproshop.com/authentic-phil-niekro-jersey">Phil Niekro Jersey</a> , and the timing is there.”Gomber (6-1) gave up six hits, one run and three walks. He struck out five for his fifth victory in his last six decisions, but it wasn’t easy for the rookie.After Ronald Acuna Jr. hit his 26th homer to begin the third, Gomber escaped a bases-loaded jam on Ender Inciarte’s lineout to end the inning. Gomber got Inciarte to fly out to strand a runner at third to end the fifth.Gomber felt a boost in confidence after his last start ended with a 9-7 loss to the Dodgers.“I threw a lot of pitches (98) in five innings,” he said. “It was one of those days with a lot of traffic on the bases, but you’ve got to figure a way to get out of it.”Molina’s single in the eighth off Sam Freeman scored three runs. Molina was credited with two RBIs, and a third run scored because Acuna made an error in left field.Tyler O’Neill, who entered as a pinch-runner in the eighth, had a run-scoring double, and Marcell Ozuna followed with an RBI single to make it 8-1.STRONG BULLPENJohn Brebbia and Jordan Hicks faced the minimum in the sixth and seventh, Dominic Leone pitched around a walk in the eighth and Mike Mayers faced five batters in the ninth. The Cardinals improved to 69-6 when leading after seven.STILL STRUGGLINGAfter walking 39 in their last five games <a title="http://www.bravesfanproshop.com/authentic-tom-glavine-jersey" href="http://www.bravesfanproshop.com/authentic-tom-glavine-jersey">http://www.bravesfanproshop.com/authentic-tom-glavine-jersey</a> , the Braves didn’t issue a free pass until the eighth, when Jonny Venters, Winkler and Freeman each walked a batter. Of the 35 runs allowed on this homestand, 15 reached with a walk.WELCOME SOUTHSt. Louis has won eight straight games in Atlanta dating to 2016, the best run since the Cardinals took 11 road games in a row against the Braves from 1967-68.UP NEXTCardinals: RHP Jack Flaherty (8-7, 2.86 ERA) will make his first career appearance against Atlanta. The 22-year-old rookie pitched six innings, allowing four hits and one run, in losing his last start 3-0 to the Dodgers.Braves: RHP Touki Toussaint (1-1, 4.67 ERA) gets his fourth career start as he faces St. Louis for the first time. The 22-year-old rookie is 1-1 with a 3.31 ERA as a starter. WASHINGTON (AP) — The Milwaukee Brewers left Nationals Park with another win and a new pitcher.Jhoulys Chacin survived a rocky first and pitched effectively into the seventh inning, Travis Shaw hit a two-run homer and the Brewers beat the Nationals 4-1 on Friday night.During the game, the teams worked out a trade that sent Gio Gonzalez from the Nationals to the Brewers for two minor leaguers. The left-handed starter <a title="Chipper Jones Jersey" href="http://www.bravesfanproshop.com/authentic-chipper-jones-jersey">Chipper Jones Jersey</a> , who has struggled in 2018, will be a free agent in the offseason.“We’re excited to get him,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “It’s a good pitcher that’s certainly got a lot of experience and he’s gonna help us.”Holding a 2-0 lead, Chacin allowed the first three Nationals to reach base in the first. A fielder’s choice ground out produced one run, but Chacin retired the next two batters to end the threat.“He squeaks out of trouble all the time and then once he settles in in the second, third, whatever, he’s on cruise control the rest of the game,” Shaw said.Chacin (14-5) allowed a run on six hits while striking out six and walking two in 6 1/3 innings.The Brewers also got home runs from Jesus Aguilar, his 31st, and Erik Kratz in winning their third straight game and eighth in their last 11. Milwaukee holds the second NL wild card spot.Jeremy Jeffress pitched the ninth for his eighth save in 13 opportunities. With a hard rain falling <a title="http://www.bravesfanproshop.com/authentic-john-smoltz-jersey" href="http://www.bravesfanproshop.com/authentic-john-smoltz-jersey">http://www.bravesfanproshop.com/authentic-john-smoltz-jersey</a> , the Nationals loaded the bases with one out, but Jeffress struck out Bryce Harper and got Anthony Rendon on a fielder’s choice.Trea Turner had three hits for Washington, which went 1 for 15 with runners in scoring position and left 12 runners on.Tanner Roark (8-14) allowed four runs on six hits over six innings.“Just a little erratic at times, not hitting my spots and they made me pay for it,” Roark said.Roark came in 5-1 with a 1.61 ERA in his past seven starts, but the Brewers homered in each of the first three innings against him.Shaw connected for a two-run shot with two outs in the first, Kratz hit a solo home run in the second and Aguilar connected with nobody on in the third.“We scored early tonight and that was enough,” Counsell said.Nationals catcher Matt Wieters was ejected in the sixth inning for arguing balls and strikes.MORE MOVESBrewers: Acquired OF Curtis Granderson from the Blue Jays for minor league OF Demi Orimoloye. Granderson, 37, has hit .243 with 11 home runs and 35 RBIs in 103 games this season. Milwaukee also acquired LHP Xavier Cedeno from the Chicago White Sox in exchange for OF Bryan Connell and RHP Johan Dominguez, two minor leaguers. Cedeno is 2-0 with a 2.84 ERA in 33 relief appearances this season.Nationals: Sent RHP Ryan Madson to the Los Angeles Dodgers for RHP Andrew Istler. Madson was 5-5 with five saves and a 4.08 ERA in 69 games for Washington. Istler went 4-4 with a 2.37 ERA in 41 games (one start) between three levels of Los Angeles’ minor league system.TRAINER’S ROOMNationals: LHP Sean Doolittle (left toe inflammation) threw a simulated game Friday and is slated for another one Sunday or Monday. “I was a little bit inconsistent with my execution <a title="Matt Kemp Jersey" href="http://www.bravesfanproshop.com/authentic-matt-kemp-jersey">Matt Kemp Jersey</a> , but I was very happy with how the foot felt,” he said. … Manager Dave Martinez said Harper is still battling a cough, but the former MVP was back in the lineup after pinch hitting on Wednesday.UP NEXTBrewers: RHP Chase Anderson (9-7, 4.04) makes his second career appearance against Washington, the first being a 2014 loss while with Arizona.Nationals: RHP Stephen Strasburg (7-7, 4.14) makes his first start against Milwaukee since 2014. He’s 0-2 with a 5.30 ERA in three games vs. the Brewers.
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SCOTTSDALE <a title="Orlando Arcia Jersey" href="http://www.brewersfanproshop.com/authentic-orlando-arcia-jersey">Orlando Arcia Jersey</a> , Ariz. (AP) — Accustomed to the postseason, Daniel Murphy built his free agent checklist around playoff contenders.When the ascendant Colorado Rockies showed as much interest in Murphy as he had in them, working out the details of a two-year, $24 million contract was no big deal.“When you get to a point in your career where I am at, there’s a lot more baseball behind me than in front of me,” said Murphy, who reported this week for the Rockies. “Being fortunate enough to play in the postseason the last four seasons, it is something that I want to do, and this organization is built to do that. This is a team built to win now.”The Rockies achieved a franchise first by making consecutive playoff appearances, in the NL wild card game in 2017 and the NLDS in 2018, and Murphy sees no reason to believe the progression will slow.“Hopefully I can be part of a ball club that goes deeper than that,” Murphy said. “The pitching staff is really underrated. What they were able to do at altitude last year was very impressive. I think the lineup is deep and dangerous.”The move also seems a good fit for the Rockies, who will play Murphy at first base and move Ian Desmond to center field.Murphy played in only 91 games between Washington and the Cubs last season after being delayed because of offseason micro-fracture surgery on his right knee, but in the five previous seasons he averaged 40 doubles, 15 homers and 78 RBIs with a .302 batting average and .464 slugging percentage.That type of production could help invigorate an offense that hit .256 <a title="Jonathan Villar Jersey" href="http://www.brewersfanproshop.com/authentic-jonathan-villar-jersey">Jonathan Villar Jersey</a> , had a .322 on-base percentage and will be without departed free agents DJ LeMahieu and Carlos Gonzalez. That batting average was the lowest in franchise history, and the on-base percentage was second-lowest.“He’s going to help our guys in a lot of ways,” Colorado manager Bud Black said. “Love the experience. 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Contact can kind of cover over a lack of power.”Murphy also has had great success at Coors Field, hitting .330 with 10 doubles and 19 RBIs in 26 games there.“I don’t think it is necessarily a ballpark built for more homers, but it is a ballpark that is built for more offensive production,” Murphy said. “It is a place that if you are able to make contact, there are rewards for that. And making contact is one of the few skills that I possess in this game.”Murphy, 33, has spent most of his career at second base and has not played first base regularly since playing 97 games there in 2009 and 46 in 2011 with the Mets.Both he and the Rockies see a short re-acclimation period.“He knows at this point in his career that it is best for him and best for the team he is on <a title="http://www.brewersfanproshop.com/authentic-lorenzo-cain-jersey" href="http://www.brewersfanproshop.com/authentic-lorenzo-cain-jersey">http://www.brewersfanproshop.com/authentic-lorenzo-cain-jersey</a> ,” Black said. “He’s a natural infielder.” Denis Poroy/Getty ImagesThe Cleveland Indians announced Thursday that they acquiredAll-Star closerBrad Handand pitcher Adam Cimber from the San Diego Padres in exchange for catcher Francisco Mejia.Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic first reported the deal.Hand has appeared in 41games this season and boasts a 3.17 FIP. His 13.2 strikeouts per nine innings are on pace to be a career high.Hand first became a full-time reliever in 2016 after the Padres claimed him off waivers from the Miami Marlins. The left-hander then enjoyed a career year,posting a 2.92 ERA and a 3.07 FIP, and averaging 11.2 strikeouts per nine innings.Hand was even better in 2017 after replacing Fernando Rodney and Brandon Maurer as San Diego's regular closer. He registered 21 saves and struck out an average of 11.8 batters, while his ERA and FIP improved to2.16 and 3.03, respectively.The Padres rewarded Hand with a three-year extension worth $19.7 million. The contract includes a $10 million club option for 2021.Elite closers are generally luxuries for losing teams rather than necessities, but Hand's contract provided the Padres with at least one reason to consider keeping him.By giving Eric Hosmer an eight-year, $144 million deal this past offseason, the franchise indicated it wants to be a winner in the near future.By 2021, San Diego may have climbed toward playoff contention, at which point having somebody such as Hand would be much more important.With that said, Hand's contract also meant the Padres could demand even more in a trade. He's under team control for up to three more years, so San Diego didn't have to settle for a meager return because it risked losing him for nothing in the offseason.General manager A.J. Preller has done well to rebuild the Padres' farm system after they tried to fast-track their journey back to the playoffs in 2015. Much as he did with Craig Kimbrel, Drew Pomeranz and James Shields, Preller flipped Hand for younger players who further strengthen one of MLB's best farm systems.Following the 2018 MLB draft, Bleacher Report's Joel Reuter placed the Padres third behind the Atlanta Braves and Chicago White Sox in his farm system rankings. Although San Diego is headed for an eighth straight losing season <a title="Jhoulys Chacin Jersey" href="http://www.brewersfanproshop.com/authentic-jhoulys-chacin-jersey">Jhoulys Chacin Jersey</a> , the team's outlook is undeniably bright.Although their bullpen was one of their biggest strengths last season, it is now the Indians' biggest Achilles' heel. Andrew Miller is on the DL, and closer Cody Allen currently has a 4.66 ERA.Hand fills a huge need, and Cimber should contribute as well since he has a 3.17 ERA in 41 appearances this season.The 22-year-old Mejia has appeared in just one MLB game this season, but he is a highly touted prospect due to his hitting ability.In 79 games at the Triple-A level, Mejia is hitting .279 with seven home runs and 45 RBI this season.For the Indians, acquiring Hand is a win-now move, but his contract ensures Cleveland has some time to show this trade was worth it. Should the team fall short of its goal in 2018, Hand will be around for 2019, 2020 and potentially 2021.Cleveland paid a steep price for Hand, but there are multiple avenues through which this can be a worthwhile venture. Stats are courtesy of FanGraphs