According to the Milwaukee-Journal Sentinel’s Michael Cohen, the rookie cornerbacks worked on the inside and outside during practices.

Defensive backs Damarious Randall and Morgan Burnett took the majority snaps in the slot last year. The Packers traded the former to the Browns, and the latter signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Cowboys have early expectations for linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, per Hill. “The Cowboys expect [Vander Esch] to have an immediate and definitive impact. Their love for him and his potential, which began with linebackers coach Ben Bloom as far back as the combine, has only grown with his presence at camp.”

At Boise State, Vander Esch flashed the ability to cover in space with two interceptions, five pass breakups and 91 solo tackles during his junior year. Expect him to pair with Sean Lee when two linebackers take the field.

Tampa Bay acquired Mitch Unrein and Beau Allen, but neither player should pose a threat to Vea as a starter, especially with Chris Baker and Clinton McDonald signing deals with the Bengals and Broncos, respectively.

Vea will start and provide an immediate impact to shore up the front line against ground attacks in the upcoming season.

The Washington Redskins addressed their porous defensive line with the No. 13 overall pick. In the upcoming season, NFC East running backs Ezekiel Elliott, Barkley and the Philadelphia Eagles stable of tailbacks will attempt to gouge last year’s worst run defense. The front office prepared for this issue with Da’Ron Payne.

Payne joins fellow Alabama product Jonathan Allen on the defensive line. He’d effectively replace Ziggy Hood, who’s a backup player at best. Washington also added fifth-round interior defender Tim Settle (Virginia Tech) for good measure, but he’s going to take snaps in a rotational role. bucks_428

Preakness 2018: Who won? Win, place, show payoffs

Justify will attempt to be the 13th Triple Crown winner in next month’s Belmont Stakes after dominating the field in Saturday’s Preakness Stakes.

On a sloppy, muddy track amid a foggy and cloudy evening that followed three inches of rain over three days at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Md., Justify broke cleanly from the gate and was in control from the start in the 1 3/16-mile race for 3-year-olds.

Kentucky Derby winner Justify , who won by a neck, was strong throughout the race, but was locked in a duel with Good Magic, who faded in the final two furlongs.

Fantasy owners will tell you that predicting the most productive Patriots running back on any given week compares to solving a quadratic equation. As far as the starter position, Dion Lewis, Mike Gillislee, James White and Rex Burkhead all started games but none logged more than eight in 2017.

Lewis signed with the Titans during free agency, but the Patriots acquired Jeremy Hill. Sony Michel’s first-round draft tag doesn’t simply vault him into pole position. The Patriots may plan on using five tailbacks in various situations based on the given matchup.

Despite those lean times earlier this decade, Colbert’s rosters have gone 188-99-1 since he first came onto the scene in 2000. They have won two Super Bowls and reached a third. That’s a track record only Bill Belichick can better.

The Cavs focused their defense on slowing Brown, and it worked. He was 3 of 8 from the floor and never found his flow after getting two early fouls.

They were denying me the ball, and when I did get it, it was in positions that I’m not comfortable in, he said. “Give credit to Cleveland. They were physical and we settled for jumpers too much.”

The long layoff between Games 2 and 3 revived the Cavs.cowboys_063

Eric Reid files collusion grievance against NFL

The two men who were at the forefront of the anthem protests now each have collusion grievances against the NFL.

Free-agent safety Eric Reid has filed a collusion grievance, seven weeks to the day after becoming a free agent.

Reid’s free-agency experience consisted of a visit to the Bengals. As PFT reported at the time, owner Mike Brown sought a commitment from Reid that he wouldn’t protest during the anthem, but Reid declined to provide one. Reid thereafter did not receive an offer.

The fact that Reid’s grievance follows Kaepernick’s means that Reid will have access to the same evidence generated in Kaepernick’s case, especially since both men are represented by Mark Geragos. Now that the group of players using the legal process to push back against the NFL’s position has doubled, it’s impossible to rule out other players who believed that they are being damaged as part of a coordinated effort by the league to shun them doing the same.

Most of Gates’ highlights came on passes from Philip Rivers, who offered his own thoughts about Gates’ departure from the team. Rivers said he “couldn’t be more thankful” for the chance to play with Gates, who caught 87 touchdowns from Rivers. The 86th gave them one more than the Steve Young-Jerry Rice tandem and only Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison have hooked up for more scores.

“That is special,” Rivers said. “Speaking from a selfish standpoint, I don’t know where I’d be without him. If he hadn’t been here for 14 years, I don’t know what my career is like. You’re talking about a pretty unique opportunity to be paired with the best tight end who has more touchdowns than anybody. And then I’m able to share in many of them. It’s awesome, and that part is important. It’s great to have something we can share together. That part is cool and special to both of us. When you see the names like Young and Rice, Peyton and Marvin, and you see Rivers and Gates; that is special.”broncos_001_80192e557a8429c8-180x180

Dez Bryant’s No. 1 factor in choosing a new team should be quarterback

If Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant has lost a step and/or other physical attributes after eight NFL seasons, it’s true that quarterback Dak Prescott had no role in the veteran’s release. If Bryant can still play like he used to, Prescott definitely had a hand in the divorce, because it was Prescott’s reluctance to throw the ball to Bryant that kept Bryant from producing in a way that justified his status and salary as a No. 1 receiver.

And so, as Bryant looks for a new team on a belated basis, his No. 1 factor should be finding a quarterback who will throw the ball in his direction far more frequently that Dak did.

The Titans were busy in NFL free agency, adding running back Dion Lewis and cornerback Malcolm Butler. As yet another team handing its base 3-4 defense over to a new coordinator in Dean Pees, Tennessee with this pick has a chance to pile on the pass rush behind Derrick Morgan (29) and Brian Orakpo (31), both of whom become free agents in 2019. Hubbard has a nose for the QB no matter how he’s aligned.

Dontari Poe is gone, and Athyba Rubin and Courtney Upshaw are not under contract, either. So the Falcons need a versatile, explosive option for their defensive line rotation to support tackle Grady Jarrett. Payne is the best fit for Atlanta should he slip this far, but Bryan would be a nice consolation prize.

The Devils selected Anderson with the 73rd overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft. The third-round selection was the Devils’ third player taken in the Draft behind  Michael McLeod and Nathan Bastian.

Anderson recently finished his sophomore season at Minnesota-Duluth, where he helped the team win the NCAA title. He finished with 27 points in 36 games.

Anderson was also named captain of Team USA during the World Junior Championships .

While Anderson could play with the Devils in the 2017-18 playoffs, the Devils certainly added another future forward option to the organization at the start of next season.

The right wing possesses plenty of offensive skill that earned him spots on the past two Team USA World Junior Championship rosters, and during each of his two collegiate seasons, he reached the NCAA Frozen Four with Minnesota-Duluth.dolphins_303

Seahawks schedule 2018: Seattle fortunate to host toughest opponents

The Seahawks’ 2018 schedule was going to be tough enough given the sudden rise of their rivals in the NFC West. But the presence of the NFC North and the AFC West on Seattle’s 2018 regular-season schedule makes it that much tougher.

Biggest breaks: For the most part, Seattle draws its toughest opponents (on paper) at home. The Seahawks also have to make just one trip to the East Coast in 2018 — their trip to Carolina to play the Panthers. Of course, that does not include the trip to London.

Bottom line: Despite their division’s tough matchups against the NFC North and AFC West, the Seahawks have a relatively manageable schedule. Based on 2017 results and 2018 projections, Seattle’s home opponents are much stronger than its away opponents, making the home-field advantage of CenturyLink Field that much more important. The Seahawks might be slipping into rebuild mode around Russell Wilson, but while that’s happening, they’re fortunate their 2018 schedule is not tougher. Record prediction: 8-8

A quick look at how things stood hours before the meeting, and what might be ahead:

— Bryant was active on Twitter on Thursday with a series of posts, including this lament about media (but actually, he says, he’s OK): “I never in my life heard so much media try to destroy a single soul which is very sad but what is so great is that I’m so un F—ing bothered.”

More tweets, replies, retweets and acknowledgements followed, but the two most pertinent were:

The take from today.. I’m bothered because I said publicly I’m unbothered That’s a huge wow take 2 I’m ranting and going off on the media whenever I’m just being normal Dez in my everyday life.. I can only control what I can control is what I tell myself…again unbotheredseahawks_001

Eric Reid Asked About National Anthem Protests During Bengals Meeting

Cincinnati Bengals owner Mike Brown reportedly asked safety Eric Reid about his protests during the national anthem in the past and said he planned to ban Bengals players from participating in them in the future during Reid’s free-agent visit with the team, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.

Florio wrote:

Brown’s reported comments to Reid certainly lend credence to the theory that players like Kaepernick are being blackballed by the NFL owners for political reasons.

And Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins suspects Reid would already be signed were it not for his protests in the past, per Tim McManus of ESPN.com:

Setting aside personal opinions on whether it’s proper or improper to use the anthem as a mechanism for protest, as a matter of labor and employment law, it’s proper for players to choose to protest during the anthem. Which means that, as a matter of labor and employment law, it’s not proper for the NFL or its teams to hold protesting during the anthem against any player who chooses to protest.

Which also means that there’s no legitimate reason whatsoever for any owner, G.M., or coach to interrogate a potential employee/player on whether he will or won’t kneel. Which means that, if it happens, it’s necessarily illegitimate — no different than asking potential employees about religious beliefs, national origin, and (for female employees, obviously) whether they are or plan to become pregnant.

Again, collusion is just a fancy word for coordination. If the teams have collectively decided, possibly with the league office as the conduit, that players who are most closely identified with kneeling (like Kaepernick and Reid) are bad for business despite the fact that kneeling can’t be prohibited, that’s a problem.la_kings_001