Golden Tate to honor Craig Sager on cleats this weekend

Lions wide receiver Golden Tate is doing something special Sunday for a late member of the media.

Tate posted on Instagram that he will be wearing cleats honoring broadcaster Craig Sager on Sunday when the Detroit Lions face the New York Giants.

Sager died Thursday at age 65 after a long battle with leukemia. He was one of the most well-known sideline reporters in the business for his sartorial style, his dogged questioning, and his interviews with San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.
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Tate earlier honored American troops and his Golden Futures Foundation on his cleats this season.

The good news is that the hip strain and knee sprain the Chargers say Gordon suffered are far less serious than what might have been. Although the Chargers will be cautious with him, Gordon is eager to return to action before the season ends. It won’t be this week though, as Kenneth Farrow — who stepped in and rushed 16 times for 55 yards with a handful of receptions to boot — will get the start at running back for the Chargers.

Darren Sproles, RB, Philadelphia Eagles, concussion: Sproles took a big hit in Week 14 and to no one’s surprise, suffered a concussion in the process. He did not practice all week and will miss his first game of the season.

C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE, Houston Texans, concussion: Fiedorowicz has been a pleasant surprise for many fantasy owners, but this week they will need a replacement. He suffered a concussion in Week 14 and has not practiced. Ryan Griffin is expected to see a workload increase in Week 15 as a result.

Ryan Tannehill, QB, Miami Dolphins, knee: The Dolphins believed Tannehill had suffered an ACL tear after his knee was forcibly hyperextended when he took a hit from Cardinals defensive tackle Calais Campbell. It turned out to be an ACL/MCL sprain that will not require surgery, according to the Dolphins.
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Although the door is open for Tannehill to return this season, it is not clear whether or not that will happen. In the meantime, Matt Moore will start on Saturday night against the New York Jets.

Khalil Mack already is an All-Pro at two positions

A mutual admiration sack society may be forming in the AFC West that spans from Oakland to San Diego and maybe, just maybe, will stretch from Las Vegas to Los Angeles in the near future.

In his third season with the Raiders, Khalil Mack already is an All-Pro at two positions — defensive end and outside linebacker — and Chargers rookie Joey Bosa is on the rise as a 3-4 defensive end. It¡¯s a young rivalry that would survive potential relocation for both franchises, given their relative youth.

Authentic Youth J.J. Wilcox Jersey In any case, fans of the blue-white format have had a lot to be excited about this season. The Rams have worn solid white for many of their home games (not the same as the vintage blue-white design, of course, but it still has some of that old flavor), and much of the team’s stadium signage and online branding has been rendered in blue and white. Toss in last night’s revival of the white helmet horns and you end up with the obvious question: Is the team planning a blue-white makeover?

It’s too soon to know for sure. The feeling here at Uni Watch HQ is that the Rams probably won’t go for a full-scale redesign until they move into their new stadium in 2019. But a blue-white throwback in the interim? It’s easy to imagine them going that route. Let’s see if that happens.

Would you like to nominate a uniform or uni element to be showcased in a future Friday Flashback installment? Send your suggestions here.
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Paul Lukas pulled an April Fool’s prank in 2009 about the Seahawks adding a neon-green alternate jersey — and then it came true six months later! If you like this column, you’ll probably like his Uni Watch Blog, plus you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Want to learn about his Uni Watch Membership Program, be added to his mailing list so you’ll always know when a new column has been posted or just ask him a question? Contact him here.

It seems a little cliché to give Texans quarterback Christian Hackenberg of Penn State

Indianapolis Colts: Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State
Unless the Colts sign a starting offensive tackle this offseason, it’s hard to justify a bigger need than someone who can keep Andrew Luck from lacerating his organs. Conklin, a good starting left tackle, plays with power and aggression up front.

Buffalo Bills: Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson
Buffalo will go into the offseason likely needing a five-technique defensive lineman. Ideally a player like Nkemdiche will slide this far, but that may not happen. If not, Lawson would be a smart pickup. He’s a big end who plays with enough strength to handle two gaps.

“I played my first NFL game here Mens Brian Roberts Jersey in Kansas City in 1998 and now here we are for my last one,” Woodson, 39, said. He was appreciative of his 18-season NFL career and disappointed in the final outcome, a 23-17 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs (11-5) are in the playoffs. The Raiders (7-9) are not.

It is over for Woodson.

“When I made the decision to retire a Patrick Marleau Jersey few weeks ago, the games kept coming faster,” Woodson said. “This final game and week kept coming closer and closer. You know, they say the NFL means not for long. It especially seems that way when your days are numbered.”

They are for every player. They all enter dreaming about their first NFL play. Seldom do they consider the last one.

It always comes. It did for Woodson on Sunday after being drafted by the Raiders with the fourth overall pick of the 1998 draft, after leaving to spend the 2006-2012 seasons with Green Bay and after returning for the 2013 season until now to Oakland. He arrived in the NFL as a Heisman Trophy and national championship winner at Michigan. He won Super Bowl 45 in 2011 with the Packers. He was a nine-time Pro Bowl player. He is Hall of Fame bound.

But he leaves the NFL with more.

Source: Kenley Jansen agrees to 5-year, $80M deal with Dodgers

Kenley Jansen and the Los Angeles Dodgers have agreed to a five-year, $80 million deal, a Dodgers source confirmed to ESPN’s Jim Bowden on Monday.

Days after his wedding, Kenley Jansen closed the deal on an $80 million contract that keeps him in Dodger blue and locks in L.A. as NL West favorites.

The Nationals need a closer. Kenley Jansen, the Jerick McKinnon Kids Jersey last star left on the market, is headed back to L.A. So what now?

Jansen had a trio of teams chasing him as finalists for his services: the Washington Nationals, Miami Marlins and Dodgers. League sources told Bowden that Jansen had better offers from both the Nationals and Marlins but wanted to stay home and was willing to take less to do it.

“We feel this is a very good fit in a number of ways,” Farrell said.

Jesse Rogers’ take: Wade Davis would definitely Kedric Golston Kids Jersey fill a need, as the Cubs want to be deeper at the back end of their bullpen. The team is unwilling to commit long-term to a closer, as they believe they can develop one from within, but in the meantime, Davis would help in their goal of a repeat. Hector Rondon would set up, as he did for Aroldis Chapman, and he would continue to get save opportunities on days Davis couldn’t go. The best part of a Davis deal for the Cubs would be that he’s a free agent after next season, so they can expect his best effort, and they don’t have to commit big dollars beyond the $10 million he’ll make in 2017. By then, Carl Edwards Jr. — or someone else — could be ready to take over the role.

Jayson Stark’s take: Chris Archer might be the closest thing to Sale any team could theoretically trade for right now. But he’s under control for the next five years, for a total of $39 million. As such, the Rays’ asking price for him is even higher than what the White Sox wanted for Sale, according to one team that checked in, and the Rays have no incentive to lower it. “So they’re on the clock,” one AL executive said. “But they’re not necessarily on the clock with Archer.”

NFL decides to let Titans, Browns wear cleats for good causes despite bye week

This season, the NFL allowed players to wear personalized cleats for a special cause in Week 13. Since the Tennessee Titans and the Cleveland Browns were on a bye week last week, it was expected that players from both teams couldn’t participate in My Cause My Cleats. However, the NFL has changed its mind.

According to ESPN’s Paul Kuharsky, players from the Titans and the Browns will be able to participate in Week 14. Initially, according to Titans cornerback Jason McCourty, the NFL told his team that they can wear their personalized cleats during pregame, not during the game.

However, the veteran cornerback told Kuharsky that he would have been willing to wear his cleats and take the fine. Titans tight end Delaine Walker was in the same boat as McCourty.

With Cutler due to make $12.5 million in 2017, in addition to a $2.5 million roster bonus, it’s possible that the Bears will cut ties with the quarterback as they embarks on a full-scale rebuild. However, that’s not a terribly expensive price tag for Chicago to take on if it feels Cutler can contribute as a backup, so it’s still a possibility he could return another year.

The question for the Bears will be how they improve the quarterback position in the offseason, whether that’s through free agency or the 2017 NFL draft.

Cutler was the No. 11 overall selection in the 2006 NFL draft of the Denver Broncos and spent three seasons with the team, making a Pro Bowl in 2008. Following his first and only career trip to the Pro Bowl, the Broncos traded Cutler to the Bears along with a fifth-round pick in exchange for Kyle Orton, first-round selections in 2009 and 2010, and a third-round pick in 2009.

Steelers need Sammie Coates, Eli Rogers down the stretch

While Ladarius Green quickly has emerged as Ben Roethlisberger’s No. 2 passing target, the window hasn’t closed for Sammie Coates and Eli Rogers.

Roethlisberger always seems to mention Rogers in news-conference settings and his desire to get him the ball. Rogers has averaged 25 yards per game the last three weeks but says “the middle of the field is open” for him. Rogers isn’t concerned about getting the ball but about being in position to receive the ball.

“Every chance I get, I focus on getting open and killing a [defender],” Rogers said.
“We need him down the stretch,” Haley said.

Defenses will eventually key on Green, forcing Big Ben to either keep feeding Antonio Brown or spread to Rogers over the middle or Coates deep. At least one should benefit.

Kelly, 56, is proud to see the growth in Roethlisberger, 34, who once upon a time showed up to an event in Buffalo with security guards. Roethlisberger, who long ago admitted to being humbled by his early career travails, has “no ego, down to earth, cool with everybody,” Kelly said.

The Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger and Bills Hall of Fame QB Jim Kelly have become good friends in recent years.

“Without a doubt, playing for a franchise like the Steelers, there’s a certain graduation, and when you’re young and going from nothing to a millionaire, that changes you,” Kelly said of Roethlisberger. “But he’s handling himself pretty darned good. He’s far from that. That was a phase.”

The two hit it off instantly, prompting Roethlisberger and several other mutual friends to make the trip to Ellicottville every offseason for the last seven years or so. They slice through the snow outdoors and play pool indoors, with Kelly providing laughter at a no-huddle pace.

What’s next for the Chargers and Raiders now that the Rams are moving to LA?

The new home of the Los Angeles Rams in Inglewood, Calif. won’t be finished until 2019, making the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum the team’s temporary home until then. But it’s unlikely that the Rams will be alone in Los Angeles, and it’s probable that the San Diego Chargers opt to move 120 miles north to join the Rams.

The problem for the Chargers is that the team never intended to move to Inglewood and had its sights set on sharing a home in Carson, Calif. with the Raiders. Now the team has been given the option to share a stadium with the Rams and owner Dean Spanos has some options to mull over.

While some candidates are still likely to pop up and earn interviews, there are a handful of assistant coaches who have drawn the majority of the interest from teams looking to hire new head coaches. Some assistants, like Adam Gase of the Chicago Bears, have been a top candidate in the past and are looking to finally take their shot at being a head coach. Others, like Hue Jackson of the Cincinnati Bengals, have head coaching experience already.

Even Mike Shanahan, a former head coach for three NFL teams who hasn’t coached since 2013, has come out of the weeds to establish himself as a possible head coach for a fourth time.

As of now, here are the candidates to be head coaches in 2016:

The shine of Austin’s résumé faded some when the Lions dropped from No. 2 in total defense in 2014 to No. 18 in 2015, but the 50-year-old’s experience in bringing along defensive backs has earned him interest from a few NFL franchises. During the 2015 offseason, Austin was twice interviewed by the Atlanta Falcons before the team settled on Dan Quinn and he turned down an interview request from the Denver Broncos.

Bevell only worked with Aaron Rodgers for one year in Green Bay and was never able to bring along Tarvaris Jackson to the level of a competent NFL starter in Minnesota. However, he had his first real chance to mold a top talent into an elite quarterback with Russell Wilson and he passed that test with flying colors. Under the tutelage of Bevell, Wilson has become one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL with consistent improvement in each season, and that has earned the coach plenty of praise.

Brock Osweiler has failed to throw multiple touchdown passes against the Raiders

Others receiving votes: Aaron Rodgers is the answer to this trivia question: Name the only player to have more fantasy points the past four weeks than Colin Kaepernick. Yes, Kap is running (373 rushing yards in six starts), but did you know he’s fifth in passing yards the past four weeks? Chicago’s defense has started to show some leaks, and now linebacker Danny Trevathan has been added to the list of injured Bears on D. … Similar to Kap, Tyrod Taylor’s rushing keeps his floor high. He has scored at least six points with his legs in five of the past six games, and he should have Sammy Watkins in a game against a Raiders team that allows the eighth-highest completion percentage on passes thrown at least 20 yards in the air.

Since Week 8, only Brock Osweiler has failed to throw multiple touchdown passes against the Raiders. … If you are truly in scraping the bottom of the barrel mode, deep-league territory I’ve gotta say, I actually think Ryan Fitzpatrick is OK here. The Colts have allowed at least two touchdown passes in eight straight games; cornerback Vontae Davis might miss this game; and the game is in New York.

Mitchell (15.6 percent owned, ninth-most added player). ESPN New England Patriots reporter Mike Reiss preached some caution with the rookie last week, because veteran receiver Chris Hogan was expected back and opportunities would be limited. But two things happened since then: Mitchell scored two TDs while playing just 34 snaps (almost exactly half the snaps of Hogan and Julian Edelman). And news broke that tight end Rob Gronkowski will have back surgery.

Mitchell might still be the No. 3 receiver in New England, but Reiss said the Patriots will likely use more three-receiver sets without Gronk. And he said Mitchell has “entered the Tom Brady ‘Circle of Trust.'”

“Thus, there is more confidence in him as a fantasy player this week,” Reiss said.

Kaepernick comeback: San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick remains a work in progress as he rehabs his career under coach Chip Kelly. But for fantasy purposes, he’s back as a bona fide starter. Only Aaron Rodgers has more fantasy points during the past four weeks than Kaepernick’s 95 points in ESPN standard leagues.

Hill leads the Chiefs with seven touchdowns after scoring three Sunday night — on a catch, a run and a kick return. As long as you’re not counting on a repeat performance, he might be worth a start as a No. 3 fantasy receiver or flex play.

Everyone is offering to rub J.J. Watt’s groin after surgery

The life of a professional athlete isn’t always easy. You have to stay in peak physical condition, be prepared mentally to endure harsh criticism and deal with thousands of strangers asking to rub your groin. It’s this last thing that J.J. Watt is dealing with, even if he’s thankful for it.

Also appreciate all the “nurses” offering to help rehab my groin surgeries. Didn’t realize there were so many qualified pros out there! Haha

— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) January 30, 2016
It’s great to see a country rally around Watt in his time of need. Surely the Texans have some top-notch physical therapists who can do this job, but it’s always nice to have a backup.

Noah Spence, DE, Eastern Kentucky: What happened off the field this week was just as important as what he did on it. Spence needed to be forthcoming to teams about the drug issues that got him dismissed at Ohio State, and he was during a multitude of meetings with personnel members. If you couple that with what Spence showed this week, it’s easy to see him becoming a top-15 pick in April. All week, Spence was terrorizing offensive linemen with his speed and ability to bend around the edge. Star pass rushers like Spence don’t last long in the draft.

Nick Vannett, TE, Ohio State: At Ohio State, Vannett was underutilized in head coach Urban Meyer’s spread offense. Vannett said after practice on Thursday that he wanted to show he’s much more of a pass catcher and playmaker. After a good week of practice, Vannett’s mission was accomplished. Vannett has good size at 6’5 3/4 and 256 pounds, and used it to body defenders all week to create room to make catches. Vannett’s teammate Jeff Heuerman was a third-round pick at tight end last year. Vannett could go even higher.

Vernon Butler, DT, Louisiana Tech: It was a good, consistent week for Butler. At 325 pounds, he moved around much better than expected and is a naturally strong player against the run. Butler is working this offseason on his pass rush ability, and some of that flashed during one-on-one drills. In a loaded defensive tackle class, Butler justified his second-round status at the Senior Bowl.

Kevin White jumps Amari Cooper in Todd McShay’s Mock Draft 3.0

One key milestone in the draft evaluation process was checked off earlier this week with the end of the NFL Combine, and another was completed on Thursday when ESPN’s Todd McShay released the third version of his mock draft. After sorting through the results from the measurements, positional drills and athletic testing of the top prospects, McShay made several updates to his big board and shuffled a couple of defensive ends and wide receivers around.

McShay acknowledged that while either Mariota or Winston are possibilities here for the quarterback-needy Bucs, he sees Winston as having the edge based on his superior on-field performance. He believes the former Florida State quarterback is the most complete and pro-ready signal caller in the draft, and that he has separated himself from Mariota at this point.

While the uniform will not be shown off for another six weeks, it appears the main crux of the uniform will stay the same. Brownie the Elf will also remain a part of the team as a secondary logo, and will get the color update, per Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

SB Nation’s Dan Kadar released his most recent mock draft on Monday following the Combine, and he see things very differently than McShay after the Buccaneers take Winston at No. 1. He has the Titans scooping up Mariota with the next pick, thinking that Tennessee is not sold on the future of Mettenberger, and then Jacksonville taking Williams third.

Kadar also still has Cooper has the top wide receiver and slots him at No. 4 to the Raiders. He moved Fowler up his board and thinks the Jets will snap him with the sixth pick, while the Bears opt for an edge rusher in Kentucky’s Bud Dupree at No. 7.

Next he sees the Falcons filling their pass-rushing needs with Clemson’s Vic Beasley, who also improved his stock with an impressive Combine performance. Kadar agrees with McShay in that the Giants will select an offensive lineman with the ninth pick, but he believes it will be LSU’s La’el Collins. Rounding out the top 10, Kadar has the Rams upgrading their offensive line by taking Scherff.