New York Giants defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson is another player who makes his money in the trenches but will still be worth watching closely during OTAs.

If Godwin can deliver this spring, he should be on track to start stealing most of Humphries’ snaps—and perhaps some of Jackson’s—come September.

Offseason practices aren’t supposed to be physical, so it’s difficult to get a feel for the effectiveness of those who work in the trenches. But when the Indianapolis Colts start OTAs next week, those in attendance will be closely monitoring third-year center Ryan Kelly.

After all, the 2016 first-round pick will be trying to prove that he’s physically OK after a broken foot and lingering symptoms from a concussion derailed his sophomore NFL season.

Two years ago, the Colts hoped Kelly could bring some much-needed stability to an oft-maligned offensive line, and he got off to a good start by playing more than 1,000 snaps without missing a start as a rookie. According to Pro Football Focus, he didn’t surrender a single sack that year.

With 2017 regulars Adrian Clayborn and Dontari Poe now gone, McKinley should have a chance to earn an even larger role.

It’ll help if he’s able to bounce back from early-offseason shoulder surgery in time to make a strong impact when the Falcons kick off OTAs on Monday.

Head coach Hue Jackson is their attempt to establish something even remotely along the lines of stability and synergy — and he’s posted a 1-31 record over the past two seasons. Many thought he would be fired this past offseason, but the Browns are taking one last grasp at keeping this crew together before they hit the big red button, which presumably is prominently featured on Jimmy Haslam’s desk with the words “FIRE COACH” on it.

Jackson is an interesting character himself, and seeing him either rise to the occasion in what is a make-or-break year or completely fall apart would make for good viewing.

We don’t want him to fail for our amusement, though it should be fascinating to see if any of that dysfunction will appear on the show. Surely, there will be plenty of it to film, but whether or not it makes it past editing is the real question.

At the end of the the 2016 season, Jackson promised that the team would not be 1-15 again.

“No. I’ll be swimming in that lake [Erie] over there somewhere. That’s not happening,” Jackson said.cowboys_045

Watch: 49ers’ Richard Sherman runs on field for first time since Achilles injury

Niners cornerback Richard Sherman appears to be progressing well through rehab as he continues to recovery from an Achilles injury.

Sherman returned to the practice field and was seen running for the first time Wednesday since suffering the injury last November while he was playing for the Seahawks.

The cornerback shared his progress in a video posted on his Instagram account with the caption “Getting there…..”

Maybe Boston expected him to chill here. In real time, I did, too. After all, there are only seven ticks left on the shot clock when Rozier arrives on LeBron.

Instead, LeBron shifts into predatory mode. He drags Rozier into the Dirk spot, draws help, and creates an easy triple for Love.

This is the LeBron Cleveland needs. This is the sort of offense they need. If they get it, the Cavs can set the stage for one of those pivotal Game 5s in one of LeBron’s favorite road arenas.

McClain, who was originally selected in the third round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Panthers, has registered 75 solo tackles and 6.5 sacks in his seven-year career. He has also spent time with the Cowboys, Texans and Patriots.

The Falcons finished 2017 with a 10-6 record and made the playoffs for a second straight season. They topped the Rams in the NFC Wild-Card round before falling to the Eagles.

“He’s a guy that didn’t start on the team at the start of the year, so it’s kind of cool to see a guy come in and take advantage of his opportunity. He’s gained a lot of trust from the coaching staff, both offensively and defensively,” said forward Brett Connolly. “He’s been good for us these playoffs and we’re going to need him to keep going and keep playing well for us to be successful. He’s definitely made big strides this year; he’s a really good guy, works hard.”

Even Nathan Walker, the Aussie forward with nine games of NHL experience, drew in for Game 6 against the Penguins and set up Chiasson’s tempo-setting opening goal, in a game the Caps played without Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson.ravens_001

Jerry Jones: No timeline for Jason Witten to finalize his decision

The Cowboys still don’t have a final decision on Jason Witten, and Jerry Jones said the tight end can have all the time he needs. Having said that, the Cowboys owner added that Witten asked for the weekend to finalize his plans.

So Witten likely will inform the team of his decision early next week. Barring a last-minute change of heart, it’s expected the 15-year veteran will retire.

“As I saw Troy [Aikman] say, that’s his decision, and he’s got the time to make it,” Jones said. “He deserves the time to make that. I don’t have a timeline on it. I do know that when we left [Friday], he certainly thought he wanted the weekend to come to some conclusion.”

Smart as hell. You need that tight end position. One of the things that had made Jason Witten what he is is how smart he is. Boy, they’ve got a lot of things that you’d like to ask them to do if they can handle it all. This guy’s got that, so he was a player that certainly when you have to think about Jason not being here, then you’ve got to say that that enhanced his appeal. On the other hand, we didn’t put any air in him at all from where we were when we were talking about him before, and we still don’t know Jason’s decision.”

Romo and Bryant had a great connection when they were together. But then Bryant got paid and Romo retired to do television and Bryant wasn’t nearly as healthy or productive as he had been.

Whether Romo’s endorsement helps his old receiver scare up a job remains to be seen. Bryant wants to find a team to give him a one-year deal so he can hit reset and cash in in 2019. He’d prefer it to be in the NFC East to play the Cowboys twice a year, but so far no one has shown interest in giving him that opportunity.

The Giants should take him on a one year prove it. If he acts up in camp cut him. He was hurt and unhappy last year so factor that into his stats. With the firepower the Giants have he won’t see a lot of heavy coverage. If they can keep Manning upright Bryant could be an awesome addition. And forget the Brandon Marshall deal. He went down in, what, the third game, and never got a chance to show anything.broncos_055_3b22e7dc28197a3c-180x180

Eagles sign Markus Wheaton

The Eagles signed a former Bears wide receiver to a one-year deal last offseason and bringing Alshon Jeffery to Philadelphia paid off for the team.

Markus Wheaton won’t be expected to have the same kind of impact as Jeffery, but he’ll also get a chance to continue his career with the Eagles. The team announced on Tuesday that Wheaton has signed a one-year deal with the team.

On Wednesday, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones stuck up for Bryant, saying that he believes Bryant can still help a team in a big way.

I think Dez has an excellent opportunity to make a significant contribution to a team in the NFL, Jones said, per the Dallas Morning News’ Jon Machota. Our time was the right time as far as our relationship, but that doesn’t preclude him from being productive for another team.

Jones might not be entirely wrong, but it comes down to how he defines a significant contribution. Can Bryant still help a team?

“There would have been a discussion,” Ballard said. “But [Nelson’s] ceiling is higher.”

Ballard showed reporters Nelson’s game tape, footage of his workouts, and even a picture of him stretching and came to the conclusion that “God made him a little bit different than He made everybody else.” Ballard thinks Nelson is a player who can be a centerpiece of the Colts franchise for years to come.

The Cleveland Browns have another new quarterback, with former Eastern Michigan star Brogan Roback signing a free-agent contract Thursday.

He has agreed to a three-year deal, and becomes the fourth quarterback on the current Browns roster, including last month’s No. 1 overall pick, Baker Mayfield, as well as expected starter Tyrod Taylor and former Michigan State standout and veteran NFL backup Drew Stanton.

It’s absolutely motivating, Roback told The News, speaking of the quarterbacks he will be competing against.broncos_106_34ed6e06d0ab4222-180x180

Outside of the fifth inning, he did not allow multiple runners to reach base in any frame.

NEED TO KNOW: The Warriors have been dominant on their home floor for two straight postseasons, having won a franchise-record 14 consecutive playoff games at Oracle Arena and already closed out the Spurs at Oakland in Game 5.

With a 15th straight home playoff win, the Warriors would tie Chicago for an NBA record. The Bulls did so from April 27, 1990, to May 21, 1991.

The bigger the game the better Draymond plays, coach Steve Kerr said, the more intense he is, the more focus he has. He’s going against Anthony Davis night after night and just doing an amazing job in concert with his teammates. Draymond’s a rare guy. Every time the moment gets bigger, he gets better and not everybody can say that. Durant has scored 20 or more points in 16 straight postseason games.

PRIORITY ON SHOOTING: Gentry gives New Orleans little chance of staying in the series and staving off elimination without a big scoring performance. The Pelicans lost 118-92 on Sunday and shot just 36.4 percent — 32 of 88 and 4 for 26 on 3-pointers.

You’re not going to beat them if you’re not going to score 115 points, I don’t care how good your defense is, Gentry said.

He gave way to relief pitcher David Robertson after Nunez legged out an infield single to lead off the top of the seventh inning after a 10-pitch at bat. Severino threw 109 pitches.

Nunez scored on Betts’ single with Severino watching form the bench. Robertson then struck out Benintendi to end the inning.

When a good player becomes a bad player, nine times out of 10 it’s the player’s fault, not the GM’s or head coach’s. It’s impossible to consider all these factors and then assign a grade. So, what you see below is more an examination of how a draft turned out, as opposed to how it was conducted. With big moves in Rounds 1 and 2, we can play the woulda/coulda/shoulda game (demeriting the Bills for trading up to get Sammy Watkins in a draft that also had Mike Evans, Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandin Cooks, for example), but most of the woulda/coulda/shouldas will be left on the table, where they belong.sharks-010

Wizards forward Otto Porter Jr. to miss rest of Raptors series

Wizards forward Otto Porter Jr. will miss the rest of the team’s first-round playoff series with the Toronto Raptors because of a leg injury.

Porter underwent a minor procedure on his left leg Friday to address swelling in the area of a bruise, the team announced. He will not play Friday night in Game 6 or Sunday in a possible Game 7.

Coach Scott Brooks said Porter suffered the injury in Game 4 and it worsened in Game 5.

“He’s probably been dealing with it for a while, but he’s been going out there and giving us everything he’s got as a teammate. And we respect and appreciate that as much as possible.”

Kelly Oubre Jr. will start in Porter’s place, and Ty Lawson and Tomas Satoransky will see more minutes, especially when the Raptors go with a smaller lineup.

“Do I want to lead a team again? Absolutely,” Foles told reporters. “But am I trying to run away and do that right now? Well if it presents itself and that works out, then fine, I’ll live in that moment. But at the same time, I’m so grateful to be a part of this organization.”

Foles said he wasn’t worried about trade rumors as it’s not worth worrying about something he can’t control. Eagles coach Doug Pederson said at last month’s owners meetings that Foles won’t be traded.

Foles agreed to the restructured contract last week, a deal that includes a $2 million signing bonus, incentives if he starts and hits certain benchmarks, and a mutual option for 2019. Foles was in the final year of his contract and was scheduled to make a base salary of $4 million this season.

“It was sort of a mutual thing,” Foles told reporters. “We had been talking about it, just because of the situation we’re in. The contract, if you really analyze it, it’s really a good, good contract. It benefits me; it also benefits the team, as well. They have an option on me. We were able to basically create something that protected me and protected the team because it is a unique situation we’re in now.”dolphins_013

Saints move up 13 spots to draft DE Marcus Davenport, trade 2019 first-round pick to Packers

The New Orleans Saints made a major trade Thursday night to move up in the first round of the NFL draft and select defensive end Marcus Davenport with the 14th overall pick.

The Saints traded their first-round pick this year (No. 27), a fifth-rounder (No. 147) and their first-round pick in 2019 to the Green Bay Packers to land Davenport, a former Texas-San Antonio star who figures to bolster New Orleans’ pass rush.

Although Payton said it was fair to label Davenport as more of a raw, developmental prospect than most rookies in this year’s draft class, he said the 6-foot-6, 264-pounder fits the size/speed “prototype” for the position. He ran the 40-yard dash in a blazing 4.58 seconds at the scouting combine, and Payton also praised his intelligence and “tremendous makeup.”

First-year Packers GM Brian Gutekunst wasn’t done trading after the deal with the Saints. He went from 14 back to 27 and up to 18 — where he took Louisville cornerback Jaire Alexander after a trade with the Seahawks.

Gutekunst said he did not have the deal in place with Seattle GM John Schneider, a former colleague in Green Bay, when he moved back from No. 14. But he was intent on moving up.

Ole Miss objected to Patterson’s waiver request earlier this month with the school saying it didn’t believe he and the other players were told lies about the future of the program. Rebels coach Matt Luke said he and others at the school have no problem with Patterson being able to play in 2018, but the school did not agree with the way his request was worded. Athletic director Ross Bjork told reporters he had “no choice” but to object because of the claims made in the waiver request.

Bjork said Thursday night that Ole Miss was waiting for the NCAA to send the school Michigan’s updated filing before deciding how to respond. Ole Miss has the option to agree, disagree or give no response to the filing, but ultimately it is the NCAA’s decision to make.

“It’s a blessing and an honor. It just shows that [the Raiders] kept faith in me and they got faith in me, and also that I believe in myself. Things aren’t going to be easy, things are always not easy, but you’ve got to just keep fighting and keep working, and I’m going to be all right. I’m going to handle my business, come to work here and prepare and go out and handle my business as a man.”

Bryant was acquired Thursday night for the third-round pick, No. 79 overall, Oakland had acquired from the Arizona Cardinals in trading back from No. 10 overall to No. 15 in the first round of the NFL draft.sl_cardinals_095

Ryan Pace: Cameron Meredith’s knee was why Bears didn’t match offer sheet

Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace said on Tuesday that input from Chicago’s team physicians and training staff weighed heavily in the organization’s decision to decline to match the offer sheet that wide receiver Cameron Meredith received from the New Orleans Saints.

In her letter to the 81-year-old Richardson, the woman said she “didn’t know what to do” about alleged multiple sexual advances by the Panthers owner.

“I didn’t know what to do when you called me to your stadium suite in the middle of the week so you could take off my shoes, place my legs in your lap and rub their entire length, from toes to crotch,” the woman wrote in the letter. “I didn’t know what to do when you asked me to turn around so you could see how my jeans looked. I didn’t know what to do when you brushed my breasts to put my seat belt around me in the front seat of your car. I didn’t know what to do when you put your hands on my mouth, for me to kiss them. I didn’t know what to do when you asked me uncomfortable, sexually charged questions.

“I didn’t know what to do. So, I did what you told me to do.”

“It feels good, especially the way we’ve been playing,” Tillman said. “We know we are capable of better and it feels good to come out of a game with the lead for once.”

“It was fun to watch,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “We all know what it could mean to us if Chris could get going like Chris is capable.”

Mike Fiers (2-2) allowed three runs and four hits with five strikeouts and one walk over six innings for the Tigers, who have lost three straight.

“I definitely could have made better pitches,” Fiers said. “Manny Machado is a tough out. He’s one of the hottest hitters in the league right now so you have to be careful.”

Machado gave the Orioles the lead in the first with a solo homer to center. Fiers retired 12 in a row before Alvarez homered in the fifth.

Former Saints cheerleader Bailey Davis, who was fired in January, has filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission over what her attorney called “antiquated” and “blatantly discriminatory” policies.

He sent an 0-1 slider from Alex Wilson (0-1) just over the 21-foot-high wall in right field, at first standing at the plate and watching the drive before starting to jog up the first-base line. A fan in a black Pirates sweatshirt reached out and caught the ball, and Wilson immediately pointed to ask for a video the initial home-run call.

Ivan Nova pitched eight scoreless innings and allowed six hits while striking out five. He got 13 outs on ground balls.sl_cardinals_013

Gray strikes out 11 to help Rockies beat Padres 5-2

Jon Gray altered the grip on his slider and set his aim higher in the strike zone.

It added up to a big change in fortune.

The hard-throwing righty struck out 11 in six dominant innings and David Dahl lined a two-run triple, lifting the Colorado Rockies to a 5-2 win over the San Diego Padres on Wednesday.

“Pitches were at a premium for him today,” Padres manager Andy Green said. “Obviously after four that was enough. I think he did enough to keep us in the ball game. We just didn’t do anything offensively.”

Dahl provided the big blow at the plate with a triple off the wall during a three-run third that gave Colorado an early 4-0 cushion. That was more than enough support for Gray, who’s been struggling with his rhythm. He entered the game allowing 18 earned runs over his three-game skid.

He found his groove early, striking out Jose Pirela to start the game. Two batters later, a fan interfered with first baseman Ryan McMahon trying to catch Wil Myers’ foul ball near the stands. Gray quickly regrouped after the fan got the souvenir and promptly struck out Myers.

“I would actually say that I’m not as angry that there were nine guys ahead of me, just three quarterbacks,” Rosen said. “That’s kind of what gets to me. So, there were three big mistakes ahead of me, but honestly, it’s a blessing in disguise. This is an incredible team that I think is really, really primed and set to do some incredible things in the future, and I think I just, very simply, lucked out.”

Rosen donned a navy-blue suit with a white shirt and red tie as he gave a brief statement and then answered questions. Rosen, whose frustrations with sliding to 10th came through during his interviews Thursday night, ended his opening statement by saying, “I don’t have too much to say.”

Rosen doesn’t think his outgoing personality will hinder his ability to make a smooth transition to the Cardinals’ locker room. In fact, he believes it’ll help.

“I think that’s probably the unique reason why I get along with my teammates very well, is because I’m me,” Rosen said. “Who I am at this podium and how I’m talking to you is the exact same way I’m talking to my teammates, my family, everyone.

“I’m very real. I am who I am, and I think that’s why I’m very grateful to be an Arizona Cardinal, because the team that picked me, they picked me. I didn’t try to put on a face. I didn’t try to put on a show, which is why I think I’m a perfect fit here.”jets_038

Mahle loses no-hitter in 7th, Reds beat Braves 9-7 in 12

The Cincinnati Reds couldn’t get Tyler Mahle a win despite his dominant performance. Scooter Gennett made sure they avoided another gut-wrenching loss.

Gennett hit a two-run homer in the 12th inning for a 9-7 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday night, salvaging a game that got out of hand when their rookie starter left. Mahle took a no-hitter into the seventh, and it all came apart.

Freddie Freeman homered for Atlanta’s first hit, only the third ball the Braves managed to get out of the infield. He homered again as Atlanta scored four times in the ninth for a 7-7 tie.

Freeman led off the seventh with a homer on the rookie’s 90th pitch — Mahle turned his head and muttered a word in frustration as the ball left the bat. Kurt Suzuki hit a two-run homer off Mahle later in the inning.

Mahle drew attention on his way to the majors by throwing a no-hitter in Single-A in 2016 and a perfect game last April 22 at Double-A. He was starting to think another was in reach on Tuesday.

“It’s always in the back of your mind a little bit,” Mahle said.

The 39-year-old third baseman in his 21st season didn’t sound optimistic after the game but wanted to wait for an MRI on Wednesday before saying much else.

If Beltre ends up on the disabled list, the Rangers won’t have any of their opening day infielders in those spots for the finale of what is already a fifth straight series loss at home, the most to start a season since the franchise moved to Texas in 1972.

“We already have our key players hurt on the middle infield,” Beltre said. “We didn’t need another one. It’s no secret we’ve been struggling offensively. We’re trying to find a way to get through it.”

Texas shortstop Elvis Andrus is out at least another month after breaking his right elbow when he was hit by a pitch April 12. Second baseman Rougned Odor has been out since April 10 with a left hamstring strain.

When Andrus got hurt, Joey Gallo was shuffled to left field from first base, where rookie Ronald Guzman is starting now. Delino DeShields has returned to center field after a broken hand sidelined him for three weeks and weakened the Texas outfield significantly.

“It’s gut-wrenching, to say the least,” said manager Jeff Banister, whose Rangers (8-17) have matched their second-worst 25-game start and are 3-12 at home. “However, I’ll continue to say this: There is no timeout. We’ll continue to play.”jets_065