30 cities under consideration for XFL franchises

The XFL has its new Commissioner, and he was Tuesday’s guest on the #PFTPM podcast.

Oliver Luck, the former West Virginia A.D. who will leave the NCAA to join the XFL, chatted for roughly 20 minutes regarding a variety of topics. The full interview appears below.

Among 2017-18 All-Stars, no one gets back in transition faster than Minnesota’s Jimmy Butler.

It’s hard to believe a team that hasn’t made the playoffs in 14 years could make the postseason and still have its season considered unsuccessful, but that is the tightrope the Timberwolves are walking. After so much optimism early in the season, Towns, Wiggins & Co. were not able to pick up the slack when Butler went down. The only way the Wolves’ season can be considered a success is if they claw their way into the second round.

That might seem like a bad look for a player who was acquired in a trade that sent a third-round draft pick to the Giants, not to mention for a player who’s costing the Buccaneers $12.5 million this season. But Bucs coach Dirk Koetter didn’t sound particularly concerned about Pierre-Paul deciding not to participate in voluntary work.

We’d love to have everybody here. That’s a perfect world, and we don’t live in a perfect world, unfortunately, said Koetter.

The 29-year-old Pierre-Paul had 8.5 sacks last season for the Giants, and the Bucs are hoping to get similar or even more production out of him in Tampa. Even if he’s not in Tampa just yet.

The NFL is trying to top last year’s fantastic draft experience in Philadelphia by getting more than 400,000 people out this week in Dallas.

Former Bucs quarterback Jeff Garcia had a strange Twitter exchange with Tampa Bay Times writer Greg Auman, who correctly pointed out that if Garcia wanted to announce Tampa Bay’s third-round pick, the team would first need to acquire one.

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Colts waive Kolby Listenbee from injured reserve

The Colts waived wide receiver Kolby Listenbee from injured reserve Thursday.

The team waived him with an injury designation May 18. After passing through waivers, Listenbee was placed on Indianapolis’ injured reserve list.

The Colts signed Listenbee to their practice squad December 13. He spent nine weeks on the Dolphins’ practice squad.

He originally entered the NFL as a sixth-round pick of the Bills. Listenbee has not played in an NFL game.

Gesicki is a pass-catching athlete. His 57 receptions and nine touchdowns in 2017 were both single-season school records for a tight end. He was the New Jersey prep football player of the year as a senior, finished as his school’s all-time leading scorer in basketball (1,867 points) and won the state slam dunk contest.

Wilcox, 27, was actually signed by the Buccaneers last spring, but traded to the Steelers before the start of the regular season. He’s a solid special teamer if nothing else.

The 49ers are looking at Jimmie Ward at cornerback, and have Jaquiski Tartt and Adrian Colbert working with the ones at safety at the moment.

Kirk shows the suddenness scouts want to allow separation in route running. He should contribute in the slot quickly and averaged a double-take-worthy 22 yards per punt return in his career with seven return touchdowns (six punt return, one kickoff return).

Wynn had shoulder surgery following the Senior Bowl, so his pre-draft work has been limited. He started at both left tackle and guard for the Bulldogs. He understands hand placement and has the athleticism and ability to finish blocks.

He was a 1,000-yard receiver in 2017 — 1,033 yards, 12.9 yards per catch and eight touchdowns — despite catching passes from four different quarterbacks. Moore has some rough edges, but his desire to win every battle for the ball and run-after-catch ability are a good start.

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Bills wideout Zay Jones has knee surgery

The turbulent offseason of Zay Jones has hit another bump.

Via Vic Carruci of the Buffalo News, Bills coach Sean McDermott said Jones had undergone knee surgery, and would miss the rest of their offseason workouts.

The 33-year-old Miller was playing in the final year of a contract last season, so as a free agent, he could not collect injury protection.

Giants defensive end Avery Moss fell victim to a cyber attack on Monday, as many revealing pictures and videos were published of the 2017 fifth-round pick.

Several of Moss’ accounts were hacked, ESPN confirmed, including his Twitter, where nude photos and videos were published. After NFL security got involved, the posts were deleted less than 30 minutes after the hacking.

Moss’ Venmo account was also hacked, according to ESPN.

One of the common arguments raised regarding on-the-job NFL anthem protests relates to the notion that, for most people, this kind of behavior would not be tolerated in their workplaces, and that the First Amendment rights the players hope to exercise on the sidelines don’t restrict private employers from establishing workplace rules that prohibit it. Regardless of whether those arguments have any real merit (especially when the anthem is being played in stadiums built in whole or in part by public money), the President’s latest words on the subject apply far more broadly than to the players at an NFL game.

You have to stand proudly for the national anthem, or . . . you shouldn’t be there. Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country.

This applies to anyone and everyone who is attending the game. All 70,000-plus people. Every last one of them. It applies to the fans in the stands who aren’t taking off their hats and aren’t standing at attention and aren’t ignoring their cellphones and aren’t not eating hot dogs and aren’t not screaming profanities and other insults at players from the visiting team.

It applies to the fans who are in the rest room or in line to get there. It applies to fans in concession lines. It applies to the concession workers.

It applies to everyone in the press box. It applies to everyone in the luxury suites. It particularly applies to the owners and their family members, friends, sponsors, and other assorted muckety-mucks who are schmoozing in the back of the box while the anthem is playing. (This year, there could be some interesting fan-made videos of what actually is happening in the owners’ suites during the anthem.)

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NFL schedule 2018: Steelers, 49ers lead six contenders with most favorable schedules

NFL schedule 2018: Steelers, 49ers lead six contenders with most favorable schedules More The 2018 NFL schedule was surprisingly kind to many of the best teams from 2017. Four of the league’s playoff powers don’t face anything that would suggest they won’t return to the tournament. In addition, the week-by-week setup played most favorably into the hands of two non-playoff teams who performed at a high level to close last season. Here are the six contenders with the least difficult schedules in 2018: The combined winning percentage of the Steelers’ opponents last season was.477, tied with the Jaguars (see below) for 25th in the league. That weakness is evident each month of this season’s schedule.

Bryant was a touchdown machine in the first half of his career with the Cowboys, hauling in 41 scoring passes in a three-season span, capped by a career-high 16 in 2014. He was named a First-Team All-Pro selection that year. During that spectacular run from 2012-14, Bryant also averaged 91 receptions and put up at least 1,233 receiving yards in each of those seasons. For his career, Bryant appeared in 113 games (99 starts) and amassed 7,459 total yards while registering a franchise-record 73 receiving touchdowns.

A versatile player who can return punts (and even play offense, like Jackson did in 2017), Alexander has great ball skills. Appearing last month on PFT Live, he addressed concerns about his size by saying, Turn on the tape.

I want to keep playing. But what was more important for me was I didn’t want to go back on the field and be a step too slow or miss a play. If I’m out on the field with Telvin and Myles (Jack) and they expect me to do something and I miss that play because I held on a year too long, I don’t know how I look at them.

The NFL for the first time is prohibiting certain helmets from being worn by players.

In notifying the 32 teams Monday, the league has sought to have players stop using 10 helmet varieties. Some, particularly those manufactured by Rawlings, no longer are being made and don’t have support from the company. Others were found to be inferior to many of the 34 helmets the NFL and the players’ union examined.

Previously, NFL players could choose any helmet as long as it passed certification standards. Six of the substandard helmets are prohibited immediately, while the other four may be worn by players who used them in 2017 but not by new players.

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MacKinnon scores twice, Avs beat Predators 5-3 in Game 3

Nathan MacKinnon and the Colorado Avalanche leaned on their speed to get off to another flying start.

For a third straight game in the series, Colorado scored first. But the Avs were able to make it stand in this one. MacKinnon and his teammates have been a different bunch at home this year. Their 28 home wins in the regular season was tied for the most in franchise history with the 2000-01 squad that hoisted the Stanley Cup.

They gained a lot of momentum, used their atmosphere to their advantage and we weren’t able to respond in that first period, Predators forward Ryan Johansen said. That can’t happen.

MacKinnon’s goal at 4:25 of the second period gave Colorado a 4-0 lead and prompted the Predators to pull Rinne in favor of backup Juuse Saros. Rinne allowed four goals on 15 shots.

We weren’t very good in front of him, Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. I didn’t think we were giving him the support he needed.

Advice: While coach Hue Jackson says the team is still eyeing four quarterbacks, Southern California’s Sam Darnold and Wyoming’s Josh Allen are commanding the most buzz for the first pick. Allen represents too much of a gamble, and his struggles with accuracy and touch seem to make him a poor fit with new wide receiver Jarvis Landry, who thrives in the short area. Darnold has to iron out his turnovers and footwork, but he brings the playmaking ability and poise that the Browns need from this position.

2. Cleveland owns five of the top 64 picks, including the No. 4 overall selection via a previous trade with the Texans. A potential early run on quarterbacks could leave them with their pick of the best non-passer in the class at that slot.

Advice: If Penn State running back Saquon Barkley is available, the Browns should take him to lock down their backfield of the future. Carlos Hyde was signed this offseason, but Barkley is the kind of transformative figure who can take on an Ezekiel Elliott or Leonard Fournette role as an offense’s centerpiece. If Barkley isn’t the choice, a Day 2 running back should be on the agenda. Georgia’s Sony Michel or Southern California’s Ronald Jones would be dynamic additions who could ease a rookie QB’s burden, though likely not to the degree that Barkley can.

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DeMaurice Smith: Ban the team that asked the Derrius Guice question from the Combine

NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith has a simple solution to the problem of teams asking players inappropriate questions at the Scouting Combine: Keep the teams that do it from participating.

Smith said on PFT Live that he thinks the team that asked running back Derrius Guice if he likes men should not be permitted to participate in the Scouting Combine going forward.

The Giants reportedly held a private workout for UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen at his campus on Tuesday, taking advantage of a 2-for-1 opportunity while across the country for USC’s Pro Day .

Denver Broncos eneral manager John Elway won’t be forced to select a quarterback with the fifth overall pick after the signing of Case Keenum in free agency and with Paxton Lynch, a 2016 first-round pick, still on the roster. However, the opportunity to select the most physically gifted quarterback prospect, whom the team already knows after coaching him at the Senior Bowl, will be too tempting.

Elway may see a little of himself in Josh Allen. He’s big, athletic, strong-armed and in need of long-term development. Allen won’t be thrust into the starting lineup, though. The Broncos coaching staff can slow-play his progression.

With the proper development, Allen could be the best quarterback in this class. But it will take time. Wyoming offensive coordinator Brent Vigen acknowledged his former protege is an unfinished product.

Watkins responded by writing you never know brother this business is crazy and Mixon followed up to say that the city is waiting on you.

Watkins had 39 catches for 593 yards and eight touchdowns after joining the Rams in an August trade with the Bills. They’re reportedly interested in re-signing him, but could get some competition from Cincinnati if the Bengals share their running back’s desire to see Watkins in orange and black next season.

On the heels of a disappointing 2017 season, Bryant plans to train with personal wide receivers coach David Robinson next month, NFL Network’s Jane Slater recently reported.

The regimen is the wideout’s equivalent to the offseason tweaks and tune-ups that quarterbacks undergo with noted passing gurus such as Tom House, Adam Dedeaux, George Whitfield and Jordan Palmer. Among the players benefitting from Robinson’s tutelage to date: Antonio Brown , Emmanuel Sanders , Jordan Reed and Cowboys teammate Brice Butler .

Asked for details on the upcoming workouts, Robinson told Slater that he would concentrate on expansion of Bryant’s route tree, shaking defenders at the line of scrimmage and improving footwork technique to compensate for natural loss of speed due to the aging process.

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Clemons buzzer-beater gives Campbell 59-56 win over Radford

He’s mentioned it that he doesn’t care, McCourty said, per the team’s official website. Don’t call and say your car got stuck. I think everyone knows there’s two hotels up here at Patriot Place so stay there for the night. Find a way. But I tell guys, like wake up earlier, especially if you don’t have a garage or something. Wake up. Go clean your car out.

The Hurricanes led the entire second half, but struggled to put away the Wolfpack (13-7, 3-4). They stayed in control by committing just 10 turnovers for the game, avoiding the miscues that can fuel the Wolfpack’s pressure defense and lead to transition scores.

Omer Yurtseven had 28 points for N.C. State, which had a humming-along offense of its own. The Wolfpack shot 63 percent after halftime and 54 percent for the game to stay within arm’s reach the entire way, getting as close as one midway through the second half but failing to push ahead.

I thought we did a good job offensively, first-year Wolfpack coach Kevin Keatts said. I thought our guys played loose. But we didn’t get the stops we needed to.

Miami: So has Miami found something sustainable in this offensive showing? The Hurricanes kept coming up with big baskets to answer every run by the Wolfpack and now have made 19 3s in the past two games.

Jerome Robinson had 19 points, Ky Bowman 16 and Nik Popovic and Chatman 12 each for BC (13-7, 3-4), which had its two-game winning streak stopped. The Eagles also lost their 21st consecutive ACC road game, but not without making one last charge.

We finally made some shots, that’s what happened, Eagles coach Jim Christian said of the comeback. You can’t win on the road and go 8 for 29 from 3(-point range) and commit 16 turnovers. For us to win with our limited depth we have to make shots, and we didn’t make 3s today.

Boston College: The Eagles brought in two of the ACC’s top six scorers in Robinson (18.2 points) and Bowman (15.7), who did their parts in whacking Louisville’s lead. But their bench was outscored 22-2 and couldn’t get the needed basket late to tie the game.

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The U.S. Olympic team won’t include any current NHL players.

But from journeyman Chris Bourque, the son of a Hall of Famer, to forward Jordan Greenway, the first African-American to make the Olympic roster, Team USA offers several compelling storylines.

I was playing junior at the time in Erie, down the road, and I remember watching that. A lot of people I know went to it and talked about it. Now living in Buffalo, and being a Bills fan, I can’t believe there was a game at that stadium. And I can’t believe it was 10 years ago, said Ryan O’Reilly of the Sabres.

He just wanted a chance, his father, Steve Keenum, said this week in a phone interview. He’s got to have the knack. It’s just a God-given, innate thing that he’s maximized by working hard.

As the oldest of his three children, Case made clear at an early age to Steve that he had the makeup to be an NFL quarterback even if there was no way to predict how the skill set would unfold.

Well, there will never be another Winter Classic like this one, either. Now, if we can just get the Wings and Leafs to both wear their full-color uniforms in the same game more often …

It’s part of the general manager’s job to monitor the pulse of his locker room. And according to MacMullan, Griffin sensed both [Irving’s] unhappiness and his restlessness and was preparing for the possibility that Irving would request a trade.

Well, we won’t know, will we? Unlike Irving’s trade request, some things remain under wraps for the long haul. Since both the Cavaliers and James have openly refuted Irving’s claims, that probably won’t happen.

If you haven’t read MacMullen’s awesome feature, you should set 10 minutes aside and do so here. But the gist of the trade portion of her story is this: the Cavaliers are a well-oiled, championship machine, but its pieces weren’t a perfect fit all the time.

What do we do now that the Jaguars are good? he asked.

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Titans running back DeMarco Murray suffered a knee injury late in the loss to the Rams.

Titans coach Mike Mularkey said following the game the injury doesn’t look good for Murray, who will undergo an MRI on Monday.

Saints left tackle Terron Armstead injured his thigh and did not return to the win over the Falcons.

The Celtics took this pick outright from the Nets as part of the Pierce/Garnett trade. The Nets finished 21-61 in 2015-16 and finished in the No. 3 slot, which the Celtics used to pick Brown. Brown represents the best the Celtics currently have from the Brooklyn trade, but there’s a lot more to come.

This pick arrived from Dallas as part of the Rajon Rondo trade in 2014. The pick was protected 1-3 and 15-30 in 2015, so it did not convey until the next year. Yabusele spent last year dominating in China and could play for the Celtics next year.

The 20-year-old Croatian 7-footer just completed an excellent season for Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul and is expected to join the Celtics next year. He finished second to top 2018 prospect Luka Doncic for the Euroleague Rising Star award.

December was made for Todd Gurley putting the offense on his back and the defense starting to make more impact plays for Wade Phillips. Their strong special teams, however, took a big dent in losing Greg Zuerlein.

The Saints haven’t deviated much from their formula — run the ball, control the clock and have the defense make one or two game-changing plays. They still need to avoid going on the road to start the playoffs, however.

I really don’t care how many points I average, Butler said after the Wolves’ 98-97 loss to the Nets on Wednesday. I just wanna win. That’s that. I don’t care about how many points I average per month, I don’t care about any of that. If we don’t do our job as a whole here and win games, it really doesn’t matter.

Truth be told, it was Butler’s scoring that mattered when Minnesota rattled off 10 wins in 15 December games. After averaging 16 points in October and 18 points in November, Jimmy Buckets ran amok for 27 points per game in December. It was the 12th-highest scoring output in the league for the month.

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