Pat Shurmur “very confident” Ereck Flowers will succeed at right tackle

The Giants made their biggest acquisition of free agency at left tackle when they signed former Patriot Nate Solder to a four-year, $62 million contract.

Every season, more teams switch pick-and-rolls — a way to minimize help, and stay close to 3-point shooters. That first switch leaves a little guy guarding a big guy. Sometimes that mismatch doesn’t matter; fewer bigs are skilled back-to-the-basket players. But when it does, defenses increasingly use a second switch: Their other big man scurries across the paint, yanks the guard out, and takes the opposing brute himself.

Smart offenses see that switch coming, and find an open man while the two defenders are between assignments. Too many teams give up after that.

There is another counter: That second switch just shifts the small-on-big mismatch about 10 feet across the floor! If that other big guy is a post-up threat, give him the ball! That’s exactly what Indiana does here after the Clippers try to sneak Lou Williams from Thaddeus Young to Domantas Sabonis:

I get why more teams don’t try that. Toggling from one mismatch to another takes time; if you don’t start your offense early in the shot clock, you won’t have enough ticks left to pull it off. Swarming help defenses have made entry passes harder than ever. And again: Chances are that second big isn’t a post-up artist.

“I’m not this bad person that the media portrays,” Callaway said. “I mean, I can’t stress it enough. I just gotta . . . actions. Let my actions speak for me.”

Callaway would be wise not to blame himself, not the media, for any perceptions of him as a person. It wasn’t the media that led a woman to accuse him of sexual battery when he was a freshman. (He was later cleared in a Title IX investigation, although the claim he made in his defense, “I was so stoned, I had no interested in having sex with anyone,” isn’t likely to impress NFL teams.) It wasn’t the media that got Callaway cited for marijuana possession in a separate incident. And it wasn’t the media that caused Callaway to throw away his final chance on the Florida football team when he was entangled in a credit card fraud investigation.

NFL teams know what kind of athlete Callaway is. It remains to be seen whether they are convinced he is the kind of person they want on their team.

I just wanted to say I enjoy watching Otto Porter play basketball. We tend to talk about third and fourth options in specialist terms: spot-up guy, stopper, rim protector, shooter. You know what Otto Porter is? A goddamned basketball player.bills_055

OBJ has 8.5 million reasons to work out with the Giants

As noted earlier by Gantt, it remains to be seen whether Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. will actually set foot on a football field without a long-term contract. But Beckham reportedly will be joining the team for Phase One of offseason workouts, and that’s a smart move by Beckham.

When working out on their own, NFL players have no financial protection, other than whatever insurance policy they may have purchased. When working out at the team facility, they remain automatically eligible for their full salary for the coming season, if a fluke injury puts them on injured reserve.

With six points and a plus-10 in his past eight games, Burakovsky could be a sneaky sleeper if you agree that the Caps can make a run. Of the six forwards on the top lines, Wilson and Burakovsky are the ones left out on the power play. John Carlson led the league in scoring from the blue line and could very well do that again in the playoffs.

FYI — the former Raiders star was in court on Thursday after allegedly violating a protective order put in place following his arrest for domestic violence. The judge ordered Smith to wear a GPS and SCRAM device — which measures alcohol in your sweat.

According to officials at the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department, Smith allegedly violated a condition of his electronic monitoring … and that’s why he was arrested.

Manning said he paid no attention to any of the recent speculation involving Beckham.

“I think over the years you just can’t get caught up with what’s being said on TV or in the news or what people assume is happening,” Manning said. “It doesn’t help, you don’t know where these things get started or where it’s going. I think it’s important when those things happen to just have great communication with your coaches and with the ownership and whatnot and make sure everyone is on the same page. I never got too concerned with it. We all know the talent that Odell has and what he brings to the football field and I look forward to playing with him this year and for years to come.”bills_034

Bird has accepted his fate.

Manziel has been working out in Southern California and recently threw at pro days for the University of San Diego and Texas A&M in front of NFL scouts. His football rights are currently held by the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

But as Manziel told reporters on Saturday, this first game back felt like more than just a return to football.

Manziel and the rest of his Spring League colleagues will indeed play again Thursday at Kelly Reeves Stadium in Austin.

Dak Prescott finished behind Hackenberg with six points. While that seems comical now, remember that the Cowboys tried to trade up for Lynch and then were pipped to Cook by the Raiders before settling on the guy who would quickly become their franchise quarterback. One scout told McGinn that Prescott had “no accuracy and no vision,” while saying the Mississippi State product wasn’t an NFL quarterback. Another suggested that the Eagles would need to sit Wentz for a year or two before he could become a real starter, while others alternately compared him to both Bortles and Ben Roethlisberger.

“I can’t walk too quick, but I got off the crutches in two days and now the boot is on and off. When I walk in and out of (the ballpark), I wear it just to be safe.'”

Yankees’ good, bad and ugly 9 games in | Where does Aaron Judge fall?

His mindset is way better than you’d suspect even though he’s scheduled to miss the first six-to-eight weeks of the season after sitting out all of 2016 recovering from shoulder surgery and 3 1/2 months last season with a right foot issue that led to July surgery.

“It just is what it is,” Bird said before the Yankees-Baltimore Orioles’ season finale. “You keep going. That’s the only thing I know how to do. Smile and laugh. Have a good time.”bills_002

Odell Beckham’s angling for the mega-deal has begun

Welcome to the official attempted start of Let’s Make A Deal.

“Hey everybody, the one, the only, Odell Beckham Jr. reporting to work! The haters’ favorite diva receiver!

It doesn’t definitively mean that Beckham will not stage a holdout.

In net, I guess it has to be Keith Kinkaid if you must pick one. It doesn’t feel good by any means, but something isn’t right with Cory Schneider. For better or worse, the team has to roll with Kinkaid to start the playoffs. But really, you’re avoiding the goaltending situation altogether and really considering only Hall or his linemates.

It doesn’t feel good putting a team with so many great pieces on offense at the bottom of the pecking order, but the Penguins have owned their cross-state rivals this season to the tune of a 4-0 record while outscoring them 20-11. Goaltender Brian Elliott has only just returned from surgery, and though the shutout was encouraging, beating the Carolina Hurricanes and New York Rangers in the final days of the season is not a true test.

If you are betting on the Flyers, remember that Jakub Voracek and Wayne Simmonds are not on the first line and also not on a line together. In an effort to spread out the offense, Voracek is playing on a second line with rookie Nolan Patrick, while Simmonds is down on a third line with Valtteri Filppula. Both players are still a part of the power play, but can’t be relied on for results at even strength.

Beckham, 25, has been featured in trade rumors in recent weeks, due in part to his contract status. The three-time Pro Bowler, who is coming off a season-ending ankle injury, can be an unrestricted free agent next year.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported March 29 the Giants would be open to trading Beckham for two first-round picks. Two days prior, Giants general manager Dave Gettleman commented on Beckham’s status to NFL Network’s Kimberly Jones.

“Bottom line is, as Ernie [Accorsi] taught us, you don’t quit on talent,” Gettleman said. “… He’s on our team.”

Beckham is undoubtedly one of the best receivers in football. He had at least 90 receptions, 1,300 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns in each of his first three NFL seasons. Only Antonio Brown and Julio Jones have averaged more receiving yards per game than Beckham since he entered the league.rams_069

Nationals place Miguel Montero on paternity leave, designate Enny Romero, call up Matt Reynolds

The Nationals have put catcher Miguel Montero on the paternity list and designated left-handed reliever Enny Romero for assignment.

Montero has been starting while Matt Wieters is on the disabled list. So third-stringer Pedro Severino moved into the lineup against the New York Mets on Saturday, while Jhonatan Solano’s contract was selected from Triple-A Syracuse so he can serve as the backup catcher.

In another move, the Nationals recalled utility player Matt Reynolds from Syracuse, giving them an additional player on the bench.

It’s been two years since Johnny Football last played competitive football. Here’s a play-by-play of what’s happened between his last snap for the Browns and the Spring League and why he faces an unprecedented path back to the NFL.

It’s uncertain if the All-Star Game will still take the form of a 3-on-3 tournament as it has the past two years. The 3-on-3 tournament was negotiated beginning in 2017 for five-day bye weeks for each team.

San Jose is hosting NHL All-Star Weekend for the first time since 1997.

Gentry helped preserve the tie with a twisting, diving catch in left field that took away a potential winning hit from Brett Gardner in the 10th.

Richard Bleier (1-0) pitched three scoreless innings.

This was the first series for the Yankees with two games going at least 12 innings since 2001 at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia.

Baltimore starter Mike Wright Jr. got only two outs, made a throwing error and was tagged for five runs.

“It was pretty awful,” Wright said.

Frustrated, he then tagged the padded dugout wall with a five-punch combination. The righty alternated the blows, starting with his pitching hand.

Asked if he hurt himself, he simply said: “No, it’s padded.”

Judge’s franchise record of 14 straight home games with an RBI ended. He singled twice, including a five-hop dribbler that caromed off the first base bag. He has a 16-game hitting streak at home.buccaneers_085